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Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP

Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP is a Catholic priest of the Society of St Paul. He has been engaged in media activities for several years as General Editor of ST PAULS Mumbai. He believes in God's gift of beauty and goodness in every human being, in nature and in every religious tradition, and shares his views and opinions with others.

The Death of a Man

A great warrior did not return from the hunt. His family finally gave him up for dead. His youngest child but each day would ask, “Where is my father? Where is my father?”

The child’s older brothers, who were magicians, finally went forth to find him. They came upon his broken spear and a pile of bones. The first son assembled the bones into a skeleton; the second son put flesh upon the bones; the third son breathed life into the flesh.

The warrior arose and walked into the village where there was great celebration. He said,

“I will give a fine gift to the one who has brought me back to life.”

Each one of his sons cried out, “Give it to me, for I have done the most.”

“I will give the gift to my youngest child,” said the warrior.

“For it is this child, who saved my life. A man is never truly dead until he is forgotten!”

By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 20-06-2017

Saying Goodbye

“Goodbyes are not forever; Goodbyes are not the end; they simply
mean I'll miss you, Until we meet again!” (Author Unknown)

Saying goodbye to those whom we love is one of the
hardest things to do. That’s why someone rightly asked: “Why does it take only
a minute to say hello and forever to say goodbye?”  We meet people in order to part one day, and
sometimes we part in order to meet again. But what if the people who have somehow
become part of our lives never cross our path in this life again? Flavia Weedn
says: “Some people come into our lives and quickly go, some stay for a while,
leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”  Thus when we bid goodbye, we are at a loss to
explain how much those people meant to us and how much we are going to miss
them. The real treasures we posses in this life are the people who have come
into our lives and made some difference to us by showering us with their
genuine love and helping us grow. George Eliot says: “Only in the agony of
parting do we look into the depths of love.”

Monday Musings came to you through Indian Thoughts’ Share
& Learn uninterrupted for more than two years now. With this issue of
Monday Musings, I am taking a break from sharing my thoughts through Monday
Musings. Many of you have been constantly encouraging me with your comments and
suggestions. This exercise also has made me grow in many ways, and I came to
know many people through this great programme called Share & Learn. Thanks
to Indian Thoughts and to all of you, my readers. I hope to come back to you
with another form of sharing in future, if God wills. I am also bidding goodbye
to one of the greatest cities of the world, London, and its people, as I am
given a transfer back to another great city, Mumbai, which always remains
closest to my heart. God bless you all.

“May the road rise up to
meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your
face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God
hold you in the hollow of his hand.” (An Irish
Blessing).

By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 24-10-2011

Fidelity for Success and Happiness

Recently a married couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. It was a vivacious and joyous occasion. Their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and all other close relatives seemed to adore them for their fidelity to each other for 60 long years! It appeared as if such fidelity for thus long period of time is a rare occurrence in this modern age. Everyone appreciates fidelity as a noble virtue, essential for health and happiness, but hard to put into practice. Fidelity requires commitment. In simple English language, Fidelity is the quality of being faithful or loyal. The word is derived from the Latin word fidēlis, meaning “faithful or loyal”. It also means adherence to a vow, promise or commitment.Life itself is an act of fidelity at various levels:   Fidelity to God, who created us, sustains us and leads us to our eternal destiny: He is always faithful to His creation, more so to us, His beloved people. He expects us to be faithful to him, in keeping his commandments and being loyal to him. In a world that is constantly changing and evolving, God is the only one who remains changeless, but always faithful. “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (I Cor. 1.9). Fidelity to one’s life partner whom God has chosen and placed alongside the person: Marriage vow is not a promise to be broken, but a covenant to be honoured until death separates them. It has its unpredictability, risk factor and incompatibilities. However, the fact that they are chosen and joined together by God makes it possible to stick together for life, in good times and bad, in plenty and want, in sickness and health. Infidelity, on the contrary, is dangerous and destructive. “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mk 10:9). Fidelity to one’s cause, one’s duty, one’s family, one’s chosen way of life: Such fidelity is essential for success and happiness, order and progress. Life without fidelity leads to chaos and destruction. “True happiness is not attained through self gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose,” says Helen Keller. Fidelity to oneself. This means to be true to oneself, one’s beliefs and convictions; it is the act of knowing who and what we are, and what our purpose in life is. When we make all out efforts to fulfill this purpose we experience true happiness. Knowing our weakness, we also acknowledge the power of God working in us. Says Jesus: “And you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32)“Fidelity is the
sister of justice”.
(Horace).

By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 17-10-2011

The Power of the spoken word

God created the universe by the power of his Word.
Through the power of his words Jesus was able to heal the sick, raise the dead
and destroy the evil powers. The writer to the Letter to the Hebrews in the
Bible says: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any
double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and
marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb 4:12). Great
leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. had marvellous persuasive power
to their words that their opponents surrendered to them.

            The words that we
speak have incredible potential. We are able to speak sweet words, tough words,
simple words, compassionate words, loving words, forgiving words, gracious
words, appreciating words, grateful words…. These words have the power to
build, to nourish, to strengthen, to energise, to enhance, to heal, to cleanse,
to change, to transform, to regenerate, to recreate, to raise up….

Sometimes our words also have the potential to weaken,
to tarnish, to downgrade, to insult, to discourage, to destroy and to kill. Our
bad words, angry words, dirty words, ungrateful words, intimidating words,
untruthful words, hurting words, gossiping words, uncharitable words,
unforgiving words… all these can bring unthinkable harm, not only to the
people they are spoken to, but to the whole of 
God's creation.

The words that we speak can never be taken back and they
are sure to hit their target. Often we regret having spoken something, but the
harm has already been done by that time. It is said that our words never get
lost or destroyed, but are deposited into the atmosphere around us. They fly
around and make the atmosphere good or bad, depending upon the quality of the
words. In a place where words of prayers and praise are uttered, there we feel
a type of positive energy and enthusiasm, and where negative words are spoken,
we experience negative energy enveloping our body and mind.“So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth: It shall
not return to me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall
prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Is 55:11).

By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 10-10-2011

The Virtue of Patience

Someone once made this short prayer: “Lord, give me
patience, but please hurry!”  The word
“patience” is derived from the Latin word pati, which means to suffer, to
endure, to bear. Patience is the level of endurance a person can take before
any negative reaction. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being
steadfast. Arnold H. Glasgow says: “The key to everything is patience. You get
the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.” Often in life we
encounter situations that test our patience:

– Delay in getting what we want, when we want and where we want

– Sickness, fatigue, hunger, thirst, etc.

– Conflicts, disputes, irritation, pain, temptations, bad behaviour,
bad habits, etc.

– Contempt, insults, accusations, etc.

Each of us can sit back and recount the occasions that
tested our patience. When we lose patience, the consequences can be
unmanageable and disastrous. Many serious quarrels start with impatience over
little things. That's why it is so very important to train oneself in this
virtue from young age. It is in fact the taming of our passion and is developed
through difficulties and troubles that we encounter in life. It helps us
encounter frustrations, disappointments, sickness, privations and hardships
without losing our serenity. The virtue of patience gives a person greater
advantage over others in every situation, as Thomas Jefferson says:
“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain
always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”“Be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil;
rather, always seek what is good for each other and for all”
(1Thessalonians 5:14-15)

By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 03-10-2011

The Power of Positive Attitude

Recently I was in a video conference with a team
regarding the launch of an online newspaper as part of a social network
site.  Initially most of the team members
approached the idea with scepticism. Why should there be another online
newspaper? Can we compete with the already existing giants in the field? Will
people patronise it? But there was one person, the founder of the network site,
who displayed tremendous optimism and confidence in the idea. His remarkably
strong positive attitude changed everyone's outlook and soon the entire team was
convinced that the idea will work and that it was the need of the hour.
Everyone agreed that there was no going back on the project. That's the power
of positive thinking.

Positive thinking is an important ingredient for
success. Any successful person in any field would tell you that, among other
things, his/her positive frame of mind contributed to reaching his/her present
status. Positive attitude is directly linked to optimism, self confidence and
success. Winston Churchill had said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every
opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” An optimist
sees the invisible, tries the unreachable and achieves the impossible. It has
its contagious effect as one person's positive thinking affects others and
helps them change their pessimism into optimism, defeatism into success,
impossible into possible. It's an essential staple for the success of any
venture.

People with a positive attitude always get many good
friends around them as they generate positive energy, instil confidence and
help achieve success and happiness. Negativism, on the contrary, creates
negative moods, unhappiness, frustration, failure, disappointment and
loneliness. Says Willie Nelson: “Once you replace negative thoughts with
positive ones, you will start having positive results”.

It is important that we clear our minds of all
pessimistic, defeatist and negative ideas and thoughts and pump in positive
ones in their place. The difference between success and failure can be a fine
line and that is often determined by our positive or negative thinking, as W.
Clement Stone says: “There is little difference in people, but that little
difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big
difference is whether it is positive or negative.”

By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 19-09-2011

Revisiting 9/11 after 10 years

It’s the 10th anniversary of that dreadful
day that shook the entire world – the day popularly known as 9/11, some dreaded
terrorists attacked on the World Trade Centre, New York. On September 11, 2011,
a newly constructed memorial was dedicated to the memory of those who lost
their lives and those who responded with courage to save lives that day. At the
memorial site, the names of the nearly 3,000 victims of the September 11, 2001
and February 26, 1993 terrorist attacks are inscribed on bronze panels lining
two pools. Waterfalls cascade down all four sides of each pool, creating a
special place for remembrance and reflection. An eight-acre landscaped Memorial
Plaza filled with more than 300 oak trees creates a contemplative space
separate from the sights and sounds of the surrounding city. The Memorial
Museum is a large pavilion with a glass atrium which contains artifacts from
the steel facade of the original WTC. The museum will be opened to public in
2012.  A new WTC Transportation Hub is
being constructed and will become operational later.

Until ten years ago, when the twin-towers stood high
among the concrete jungle of Manhattan, it was matchless in majesty and glory. But
in a few moments' time, it was reduced to 'ground zero'. The newly opened
memorial is a solemn reminder of the events of 9/11 as well as the fact that
the whole world is united in fighting the menace of terrorism. The ground zero
had become synonymous with a sense of powerlessness in the face of evil. The
vacuum of fear, insecurity and helplessness in the minds and hearts of people
can never be filled again to its former measure. The ground zero reminded us of
the frailty of everything that humans build in this world along with a sense of
hopelessness and insecurity that has gripped the world. 

The memorial reminds us that even in the midst of
paralysing fear, utter helplessness, total insecurity and extreme
vulnerability, we find signs of hope and belief in a higher power called God –
the source of all solace, shelter and security. The memorial also is a glowing
tribute to those who responded with courage to save lives while risking their
own. Thus it cascades humanity’s unshakable faith in love, life and goodness,
as against hatred, death and bigotry.

Collen Kelly, the bereaved sister of Billy Kelly who was
one of the victims of WTC that day, describes the outcome: “I still believe
that good will overcome, that goodness will overcome, and that my world view
has not been shattered. There were too many good things that happened that day,
and all the days afterwards – the thousands and thousands and thousands of acts
of kindness. If anything, I am more firm in my belief in God; more firm in my
belief in family; more firm in my belief that there is an overwhelming goodness
in the world, and that goodness will overcome”.”Those
who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say.”  Pope
John Paul II 

By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 12-09-2011

I am Sorry !

'I am sorry'! In these three magic words we have one of
the hardest, rarest and most profoundly human expressions in English language.
It is hard to say 'I am sorry' because it implies many things: that I have hurt
you, that I take responsibility for my behaviour,  that I am truly repentant of what I have
done, that I shall never repeat such behaviour again, that I hold your person,
your presence, your friendship and your dignity in high esteem.

It is a rare expression as it requires a strong
character and personality to face the person we have hurt, look straight into
his eyes, and acknowledge our mistake. To do this we need to rise above our ego
and personal pride. It is hard because it is in effect an acknowledgement that
we have been wrong and the other person was right in this particular situation.
Saying sorry as a matter of habit may be too common and easy, but being truly
sorry and mean what we say is rare to find.

It is an expression that needs to be so much part of our
human behaviour because as humans we all make mistakes, sometimes big,
sometimes small. As social beings we hurt each other. We disagree on things and
push those disagreements to quarrels and fights. We, sometimes knowingly, and
other times impulsively, speak or do things that bring damage to the
reputation, good standing and career prospects of others. But, having done
this, we all do posses the capacity to rise above our human weakness in
humility and acknowledge our mistakes. Being sorry for our actions may not undo
the harm, but it can repair the damage to a great extent.  It's human to err, but it's divine to be
sorry for our mistakes, just as it is divine to forgive, because a repentant
heart is a gift from God.

Here's a beautiful expressions of being sorry, found on
a 'sorry card':

“Sorry for hurting you. What I did was foolish and impulsive.
If I could take it all back, I would do this instant. I truly did not mean to
hurt you in any way. Please forgive me. I am sorry.”

By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 05-09-2011

Self-punishment Vs Self-healing

“You have only one person to forgive in your
journey and that is yourself. You are the judge. You are the jury. And you are
the prisoner. An unholy trinity, to be sure! Loosen up, my friend. Everything
you think you did to others is just a form of self-punishment.”

(Paul Ferrini, Love Without Conditions, page
142) 

            Being
social beings, it's very much possible that the words, actions and attitudes of
others hurt us. They inflict deep wounds which cry out for revenge. Our natural
tendency is to get even with the people who hurt us so that we enjoy a kind of
momentary victory through which the wounds we suffered seem to disappear.
 Thus we knowingly or unknowingly employ our own attitudes, words and
actions to punish the person who attempted to hurt us.

However, does it really work? Can any revengeful
attitude, word or action make us feel better and enjoy peace? It's a proven
fact that our revengeful attitude can only hurt us more and make us feel more
miserable. It takes away our peace of mind, lessens our capacity to rest, relax
and interact with others, and badly affects our emotional, mental and bodily
health. It, in effect is a self punishment. If we, on the contrary, take the
less trodden path of forgiveness and reconciliation, the consequence is peace, serenity
and joy.  This, contrary to popular understanding, is not a route to
defeat, but to real victory. It's the defeat of evil with good, passion with
reason, division with love.

            While
our natural tendency is to take all out revenge, we have stories of people who
daily, practice the virtue of forgiveness in their homes, in their work places,
in schools and colleges, play grounds, organizations, etc. All of these are
unsung but heroic acts of victory over evil and healing of divisions. But some
such acts stand out as beacons for others to see and follow. Gladys Staines
chose the path of forgiveness and so she emerged victorious against the evil of
bigotry. Blessed John Paul II went to the prison cell and held the hands of his
own attempted murderer and thereby defeated revenge. Jesus Christ unleashed his
forgiving love from the cross and prayed: “Father forgive them, for they know
not what they do” (Lk 23:34).

By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 29-08-2011

Fighting Corruption

These days battle
against corruption is taking many parts of the world, including the second most
populous country, India, by storm. 
People come out to the open to expose and fight corruption, and to
demand stricter laws to punish the perpetrators. The hitherto silent majority
of the ordinary people are fed up of the corrupt practices of their leaders in
all spheres which negatively affect the progress of their nations. Corruption
leads to the poverty of the masses while a few, holding power and influence,
get richer by dubious means.  They, in their
greed, bend the rules to swell their pockets.

In philosophical,
theological, or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or
deviation from an ideal. It's the decaying of a system or even a society as
whole, caused by the abuse of power and influence by some. But in common
parlance, it refers to the distorted and dishonest practices of some
influential people.  It leads to a broken
system. Today the menace of corruption is eating up the entire society and all
its organs in many parts of the world.

            Corruption
starts in the minds of those who practice it. Jesus had warned his followers: “Nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person
unclean; it is the things that come out of someone that make that person
unclean… For it is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions emerge:
fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit,
indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things
come from within and make a person unclean.” (Mark's Gospel, Chapter 7, verses
15, 21-23). The evil of corruption, therefore, is rooted and nurtured in the
hearts and minds of the people. It happens when we allow the evils such as
greed and selfishness, avarice and deceit to take their roots and grow in our
lives. It is, therefore, the opposite of the basic teaching of Jesus to 'love
and serve one another'.

            For this reason, no
amount of public demonstrations, or even the enactment of the most stringent
laws and judicial apparatus can root out corruption. These can only act as a
temporary deterrent. The eradication process begins with the moral and
spiritual formation of each person's mind and heart. When one is trained to be
honest, sincere, loving and kind, he/she cannot be corrupted by greed,
selfishness, avarice and deceit. Children, from a very young age, need to be
shown the importance of these virtues, not just by classroom lectures, but
first by the exemplary behavior of their parents, teachers, spiritual leaders,
politicians and other public figures. It's only through a total change of our
value system, by changing our minds and hearts, can we end corruption and move
towards genuine progress.

By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 22-08-2011