A Blog from India

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Jesuvera: Spiritual Adventures of a Catholic

I love insights from people living in other countries--it serves to broaden my own rather laser-like perspective. The blog-owner in this instance hails from India--a place to which I look for the coming renaissance in literature worth reading.

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Thanks for the post about my blog. You have reason enough to get interested in something Catholic from India.

Well things are quite different here as compared to the US. We have a number of cultures, languages and faiths here in this Christian minority (4%) secular, young (1947) country of India. Take the example of my diocese. My mother tongue is Konkani, the state language is Kannada, the local language is Tulu, the National language is Hindi and the language of the educated class is generally English. And then the population coming from neighbouring areas speak Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Marathi among a dozen other dialects. What language do you expect us to have Mass in? Well, there's Mass in everyone of those languages and saying Mass in one language may sometimes offend the other language communities. We do hear of people asking for a Kannada Bishop in place of a Konkani Bishop, etc. We haven't discussed liturgical practices, translations, popular piety, sacred music yet. So much about the lanugage. Then there's culture, poverty, education, beliefs, social classes and other things to take care of.

We also have three rites in the Catholic Church; the Latin rite coming with the Portuguese, and the other two (Syro Malabar & Syro Malankara) being indigenous claiming to descend from the Apostle St. Thomas who visited here.

Generally faith formation is poor owing to the multiplicity of problems arising from some of the issues mentioned above. Many of the languages did not have a complete Bible translation until recently, and Catholics have little or no access to the vast amount Catholic resources due to invailabilty of translations in their local tongue. Therefore their faith and knowledge will only be as good as what has been transmitted to them by their Priests. Priests are helpless too. They study in one language in the seminary and preach in another language to the people. Therefore if he has studied the writings of Chesterton, you can't expect him to quote it to the people because they won't know or understand Chesterton as there are no writings about him in their local languages.

Therefore faith has become less active and generally revolves around Mass attendance, scheduled confessions and membership in pious associations with the general emphasis being on activities like an annual visits to orphanages/old age homes, fund raising, picnics apart from monthly meetings and occasional conventions.

For this reason we don't have the classification of liberals, conservatives and traditionalists. While the Catholics elsewhere are concerned about the times of confusion in the Church, here we are not even aware of being in a faith confusion. But I'd like to make an interesting observation here. The Charismatic renewal is helping people re-discover their faith. Even though it is causing hiccups in the west, it is helping people here develop an active faith life which in turn is helping them discover their traditional faith. It does of course, have its share of problems but then it is the most important thing revitalizing people's lives here with residential retreat centres like Divine Retreat Centre (http://www.drcm.org) and youth initiatives like Jesus Youth (http://www.jesusyouth.org) doing an excellent job! [A missionary movement at the service of the Church]

Back to blogging. Not many understand what blogging is. I myself am new to this; my blog was started on the Feast of St. Clare (August 5). In India most of the people live offline and internet activity is generally restricted to a weekly/fortnightly checking of emails. The situation may be a little better in the cities but the bulk of the population lives in rural areas. In any case I hope to carry on with some little bit of blogging as and when it should be possible for me.

Well my comment has mightily outgrown your post. So winding up with a request for prayers for the Catholic Church in India.

Dear M. Jesuvera,

You might copy this post and publish it as a blog entry. It was most informative. I didn't know the specifics, but I knew that India has a great many languages. When you present it in this way it is astounding that there is even a Catholic presence at all! But "the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it," nor shall the gates of 400 some-odd languages and dialects.

Jhumpa Lahiri's first book was titled, The Interpreter of Maladies. The title story was about a health-care worker in a doctor's office whose soul duty was to translate for those who entered the office to the doctor and vice versa--hence "interpreter of maladies."

Thank you so much for this comment, and keep blogging. We have much to learn in the west regarding the conduct and problems of the Church throughout the world. Thank you for joining our small, progressively more global (blogal) community.

God bless you.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 2, 2005 10:43 PM.

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