“Counting your Blessings, March with an Optimistic Attitude”

“LIFE” is explained as Love In Full Experience. It’s an opportune time to retrospect and look back at the attitudes which guided our life journey in 2017 in order to approach 2018 with an optimistic attitude. The world in 2017 encountered various tragedies like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, landslides, other natural disasters in Tamil Nadu (OCKHI Storm) at Kanyakumari district and faced challenges in the present political scenario (RK Nagar election). This must not hinder our progress and let our attitude falter. Rather we must march forward at the right altitude and with a positive attitude. When we focus on the tragedies and disasters we cannot get in line with our journey of life as happy and joyful human beings on earth. Therefore, this New Year is an invitation to each of us to count the blessings of 2017 by being grateful to God in the words of St. Paul, ‘in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’ (1Thes 5,18) and welcome the New Year with vigour, hope, courage and strength. Once we start appreciating all the blessings bestowed by God, our attitude changes, we stop complaining and finally we become thankful, which produces Joy.
Life completely depends on our attitude. Why depend on our attitude? From where does our attitude arise? In this New Year I intend to focus on our attitude because the present scenario is all about instant news through TV, computer, network, mobile phones, tablets and so on. We hear bad news much more quickly. We are bombarded with negative information from every direction and there is a possibility of slipping into an emotional mood. We will easily be worried about the situation of the country and society; politically and economically but what change will we see personally? During difficult times, each of us likes to choose the better and have a positive outlook. Having encountered various disasters and changes in the past, are we going to face the upcoming year with gloom and doom? Are we going to feel that nothing will work out for us? When we are deep into our problems and unable to find solutions we will sink into discouragement. To avoid this ill feeling and overcome it we need to be prepared with an attitude adjustment called optimism.
“OPTIMISM” means the confidence to transform the worst into the best. It is like the seed that has fallen from the beak of the bird, which does not complain rather begins to grow into a big tree that gives shade and shelter to many. At the closure of 2017, it is high time to check how optimistic we are in our daily life. Do we go on cursing people and situations or do we try to make the best out of every event that happens in life? In line with this thought I remember an Ancient African proverb, “even in hell there is a little corner known as heaven.” It means that in difficult times we need to march with a positive attitude so that we can receive blessings for ourselves and others. Therefore I would like to bring to your attention that attitude has a drastic impact on life (both positive and negative attitudes). What do we choose: Positive or Negative? Positive – will lead to success, make us humble in our dealings, develop faith in God & others, become content with what we have and finally we become thankful personalities. Negative – will lead to unhappiness, poor relationships, difficulty at work and ultimately poor health.
Our attitude arises from within not from external circumstances/people. Let’s choose our attitude by being mindful of the blessings we have received: life, parents, kith and kin, relatives, friends, vocation to married and religious life and good health. We shall learn this choosing of the right and positive attitude from our Holy Founder, St. Louis Guanella, who was a merciful father because of his gratefulness for everything. He possessed the special power of healing souls, of dispelling their difficulties without ever recalling them. He was generous in forgiving his adversaries and he implied the very motto ‘Mercy more than justice’ all though his life where he experienced love in full and transmitted to the very needy people of his time. Hence, like our founder and other great personalities let’s keep the mercifulness at the center and dwell with a positive outlook, moving forward with an optimistic attitude to become successful in 2018. May I wish you all an optimistic and a prosperous New Year. May God reward you with more blessings.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS… IN 2013

On New Year’s morning, a priest and his catechist were going through the busy streets of a big city to celebrate Mass in a church attached to his parish.  Since he was diabetic, suddenly he got exhausted and stood before a tea-shop to take a cup of tea with some snacks.  In front of the tea-shop was a person with developmental disabilities sitting on a heap of waste with a few bags of rags and waste papers around him.  He was seated all alone laughing and talking to himself.  The priest had pity on him and wanted to offer him a cup of tea. He asked the catechist to buy a cup of tea and offer it to him.  The catechist was afraid that person would react violently.  So, he first approached him and asked him if he would take a cup of tea.  The person with developmental disabilities nodded his head and the catechist gave him a cup of tea.  The priest had all the more sympathy and he bought two ‘buns’ and approached him.  The man got up and looked into the face of the priest and asked the priest with concern, “Did you eat?” He continued, “You are tired.” He received the two ‘buns’, took one and returned the other to the priest and said, “You take this. These three sentences with three words each and the grace-filled eyes on the dirt-covered face of the “mad man” touched the priest and disturbed him very much that day.  In his sermon, he narrated this story and said, “even if there is no one in this world to be worried about my welfare and concern, God will send a person with disabilities to inquire about my health and well-being and would tell me that he is concerned for me’.   The man in rags and dirt, with developmental disabilities, was a source of blessing for the priest because he offered the “God-experience” to the priest.

The Hebrew word for blessing is “barak” or “berakah” which means to kneel down.  A blessing is to bring a gift to another on bended knee.  When we say, “be a blessing”, it means make a gift of oneself to the other. A gift is the symbol of a love relationship, a symbol of peace, respect and recognition. In this offering, the other experiences the concern and love of the parent God.  For persons vowed to live in community and fellowship, there is no other way to experience “God” except in the self-gift of one to the other.  Only those who can kneel (in humility), those who can offer themselves (as a sacrifice), those who esteem and honor others (in relationship) can be a blessing to others.  Our holy founder St. Louis Guanella said, “God’s grace and blessing must be the whole treasure of our hearts”.

The New Year, 2013 is now here with newness, dreams, visions and reality; a time for us to become blessings for others. In the religious context God-centered, other-centered outlook, bless what’s good and beautiful; we can even throw away the negative experience of our “egoism” because God does not keep a record of our failures. God has given to us a blank check with his signature and it is up to us to write the amount of forgiveness, compassion and God’s love.  Our Blessed Mother, in this Year of Faith, is the best example- her “Divine Motherhood” is the source of every blessing and a sign of God’s love.