Wednesday, January 06, 2016

A minor brush with babudom

Image courtesy Google.
It is  quite common for parishioners to give their priests small gifts for Christmas, including cheques or cash. Even the smallest parish is quite generous in this regard, from what I've gathered. While I don't expect this, I receive what comes gratefully, and in some way or another, the Lord never lets me forget the poor at this time especially.

This year, of course, I wasn't in a parish over Christmas. I have so far received a bunch of Christmas cards from back in the US, including several from my former parish. I love receiving cards, and I send out a bunch as well (I blogged about the experience of going to the central post office here a couple of weeks back). On Facebook, I instructed folks not to send any valuables or perishables -- it's just not secure over ordinary airmail.

Well, one of the cards that recently arrived contained a Walmart receipt. This very sweet, devout, elderly couple had trekked to their local Walmart and figured out a way to send me some cash via an international money order. On the accompanying note, they apologized that I would have to go to Walmart to get the cash. The generosity and large-heartedness of the people of God never ceases to move me!

Of course, there are no Walmarts in India (at least no retail stores). The receipt clearly indicated that the money would be delivered in Indian rupees. It turns out that Walmart uses a money transfer service known as Moneygram. It must be fairly popular, since there were quite a few locations where one could receive a Moneygram, including the neighborhood post office. Intrigued at how this would work, I trekked off to the local PO.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Wake up infant! Get up quickly and sign us with the Cross!

The crowd gathered for Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Name
At Midnight Mass in Bombay a few days back, we arrived early, and sat listening to the Christmas carols that preceded Mass. This Goan carol really caught my attention. Here are the words, in Konkani and then English.

Jesu Mariechea khandar nidla uskea vin ballok Jesu
Uttha balla, utth re vegim, kadd amcher khursakuru 
Soitanak sampoddlele bhav tujem martat ulo
Tum urloi zalear nidun konn tankam nivartolo? 
Padd zalle koidi gulam suttkechi vatt polletat
Tujeruch galun nodor tarnnachea disak ravtat 
The Child Jesus slept on Mary's shoulder without a worry
Wake up, infant, get up quickly, sign us with the (sign of the) Cross 
Your brothers who have been enslaved to Satan, cry out to you
If you remain asleep, who will liberate them? 
Prisoners destroyed by their imprisonment look for freedom
They cast a glance on you and yearn for the day of salvation.
One category of Christmas carols focuses on the Infant and sees the little, adorable, lovable child -- sleeping peacefully on a silent night, wrapped in swaddling clothes, the cattle lowing, the shepherds adoring.

What struck me about this one was its urgency. You can't sleep! If you sleep, who will save us? Who will liberate those enslaved by Satan? Wake up! Get about your business! The world awaits!

Much like the Christmas season -- the day after the Nativity of the adorable Infant, is the death by stoning of St. Stephen, and two days later, the massacre of the innocents -- this carol gets right to the heart of the matter: this little child has come to destroy the reign of sin, has come to despoil Satan's stronghold, and to set us free. This piece by Amy Welborn at National Review -- written, now, ten years ago?? -- is an insightful reflection on the mystery of the Christmas season, of the joy of a child born, the terror of fleeing in the night, and the mystery of the Cross.

But that setting us free also involves us being signed by the Cross! Nothing without the Cross, the true hope, the spes unica, of the Christian!

A scan of the songsheet

I recorded the Cathedral choir singing the first two verses. After that, we had to leave to go get vested.

Uttha balla! Wake up infant!