Sunday, November 13, 2016

Questions to the canvassing Catholics

Almost everybody has had their say on the US elections. I also have shared my thoughts with a couple of people and to say the least I have been blamed for not being blessed by the Holy Spirit. I am not a political person and I definitely would not be impacted a lot by who became the President of the USA. But, I also need to voice a few thoughts because for the first time I have realized that many will actually be adversely impacted by who eventually became the president of USA. Trump, no doubt snatched victory and I am sure he really worked hard for it. And from his point of view, he deserved to win for just the amazing emotions that he was able to generate among quite a number of people. And I have no qualms about those who went and voted for him by considering carefully where their hearts belonged. There is no doubt that Hillary did not appeal to many and carried quite a baggage for many to surmount.
But, I was bothered about a group of people who really came to canvas for Trump just when things were fading for him in the last month. Yes, as analysis has now revealed that in the last month, the single largest group that made his victory possible by voting for him was the Catholics. I am not a man of statistics and numbers. And the one major reason, which I actually found out from some of our friends, who vehemently canvassed for Trump was that he would be the one delivering on the “Pro-Life” issue.
I don’t grudge their cause. My wife and I lost our first pregnancy the very day we knew we were pregnant. And the mighty healing hand of GOD is how we healed and we now have 2 beautiful kids, since. That should reveal how precious and delicate I consider life to be. Here is where I like to challenge each one of those who canvassed in the name of GOD and religion. Not those who exercised their franchise, but the ones who actively canvassed, including the so many priests who could say it at the altar where instead they should have been consecrating Jesus. My friends showed me all literature as well as biblical prophecies as to why they made their decision to support him wholeheartedly. They even found abundant words to make Trump look honorable in every aspect, even insulting Pope Francis, who by the way currently occupies the seat that Jesus bestowed upon Peter. Some even forgave him and equated him to Mary Magdalene who became Jesus’ most reliable confidante, even though she was a sinner. Little did they take into account that Mary Magdalene washed away her sins at the feet of Jesus.
Here is where they were wrong. For one, they did not remember “ Do not take the name of the GOD in vain”. It’s the first of the Ten Commandments. Where was it GOD’s work, when you take GOD’s own cause and give the reigns to a Devil? Have we forgotten what happened to Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis. Yes, they ate an apple. And by the way, it must have been an amazing fruit because Eve even got it to Adam after she tasted it. The problem was not the fruit that they ate but the fact that they had disobeyed GOD inspite of HIM having given them everything. And that was the beginning of the “Original Sin”. This is exactly why there are problems in this world. And it has plagued the Catholic church too from time immemorial. Why Mr. Trump does not even come close to Mary Magdalene is because he has never repented for anything. And that is the main tenet to get to God’s kingdom of heaven. To humbly and modestly accept one’s frailties and sins and put them at the feet of Jesus, because HE no doubt will forgive.
I am so much more looking forward to Mr. Trump being a servant and being the repentant sinner. For there is no doubt that just like Jesus does, I shall accept his being human too.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Faith brings hope, healing and something else

In today’s world we are challenged in innumerable ways. And marriage is one such institution that has incredible challenges which were not there when my parents were married almost 45yrs ago. In the 9 yrs that my wife and I have been married, I can safely vouch that our challenge started even before our marriage day. But I know the one magic reason that will help us survive any adverse situation challenging our marriage.  Faith was, is and will always be the center of our lives. I want to narrate one amazingly hopeless situation we were in right upfront in our marriage. But for faith, we may never have recovered from these jolts, but here we are feeling awesome as a family. The reason I want to share this experience is because I need to share how hard GOD works in our lives and how little we realize it. And my hope is that everybody who reads this would reflect and recognize HIM in their lives.
This story started the day of my marriage on Dec 22, 2007 to a wonderful person in Priya. Priya was so grounded in her faith and so connected to Jesus that until this day I am the 3rd person in our marriage. Well, the first person in our marriage is Jesus and hence I could see how we were so connected to each other. On our first night, I learnt that our immediate future plans were different. Priya was inclined to have a number of children, whereas I was more inclined towards consolidating my career and building my family was secondary. I wasn’t perturbed by this as I thought that it was more about her being a woman and me being a man. In just a couple of weeks after our marriage, I left India to the USA to continue my postdoctoral studies at Yale and Priya joined me a month later. Living in a small rented apartment, far away from our loved ones, we set about building our little home hoping our innumerable dreams would come true. But challenges started right away. In a month, we realized that my postdoctoral salary was not sufficient to sustain us.  And while we could barely survive for now, it definitely would not help our future family.  So, just after living together for 4 months, Priya flew off to Columbus, Ohio, about 1000 miles away from where I was to work for an insurance company. And thus started a game to collaborate our very demanding jobs with marriage and future hopes. Every other weekend or two, one of us would hop onto the plane, sometimes paying exhorbitant ticket fees in order to spend a few hours with each other. And this continued for just less than two years. But, deep within we had already learnt how much we loved each other and how beautiful the institution of marriage was and we already started entertaining the idea of having a child inspite of this difficult situation.
But, a greater challenge was at hand. We realized that we were at the precipice of being infertile given our very stressful lives. We started working on this issue with our medical doctor with a fervent hope that with time, we would overcome this challenge. Interestingly however, our pillar of hope was not the medical intervention, but Jesus himself. We started to strongly pray to HIM everyday, believing that GOD must have had a beautiful plan for us. What that plan was and how HE would execute it, we did not know. As time went on, and all our situations remaining the same, hope started slipping away, especially to me. For someone who had not taken the issue of fatherhood as a top priority for more than a year into marriage, I started dreading of not becoming a dad, ever. And the fact that we were working far apart did not help matters of the mind.  How would we settle down as a family if we were so far apart and meeting for a couple of days a month?  We had no idea how we could overcome these challenges. While my faith was strong, I did not understand GOD’s will and direction. And clearly things had to change as this was not what I imagined our family path to be. And then appeared a sign.
The company that Priya worked in Ohio allowed her to work from home in Connecticut. Having lived almost couple of years apart, we recognized the first sign for that GOD had started to work on us and we just had to keep up our faith and work accordingly. And true to our faith, in just a couple of months we had another miraculous news. In spite of our medical symptoms persisting, we were pregnant. It happened over a Friday when Priya had gone back to Ohio to attend to some urgent hectic work.  She kept complaining of nausea even though she had been fully healthy and well. And when she returned over the weekend and her nausea became worse and persistent, we doubted if we were pregnant. We quickly got in touch with the doctors and they confirmed that this was no fluke. They were happy for us and we were ecstatic.  And immediately my confidence soared to such heights that I broke a golden rule. I wanted to share this news with our immediate families right away instead of waiting a while. And when I called, I was surprised that instead of great excitement, we were cautioned not to reveal this news until a couple more months. I did not understand why nobody was as excited as me. This was the most wonderful news. And happy news didn’t come often.
For Priya and me, this was a perfect story. We had gone through a tough test right upfront our marriage and we had come out of it with flying colors. And we had the best news ever. But, happy news does not last as long as we want.  We were right at the top of the mountain waving out at the rainbow when a thunderbolt hit us and hit us hard. The very next day after discovering our pregnancy and announcing to our skeptical families back home, our pregnancy started going downhill. We started having symptoms of miscarrying. And nothing helped. We rushed to the doctors and they could do nothing but feel sorry for us. It was all over for us and when we came back home all we had was eerie silence and tears. We were just dumbstruck and had no idea how we could recover from this.  We just could not understand where our life was heading.  The worst case was that we had nobody to console us. I always knew that life was precious. But how delicate it is, I had just experienced.
Having no answers to lift us up, we lay at home in darkness. Nobody said a word. Tears kept welling. We were totally shattered and broken. Even dawn was far away. So, we encouraged each other to say the prayer for the night and retire to bed. It was best for the worst day of our lives to end fast. When I got up to light the altar candle, I realized that amidst all the grief I had forgotten Jesus. And it was then that HIS words started resonating in my mind repeatedly. “Your faith has healed thee”. This was completely against the emotions I was going through. Here we were dealing with the greatest loss of our life ever and here was Jesus talking to me about being healed. Luckily, for once I was patient. I had nothing to lose, but hold onto these words and try to comprehend. And then it hit me. For the first time I realized how GOD had all along heard our prayers and had got to work on our lives. And when I shared this thought with Priya did we realize the power of GOD and how strongly HE was working in our life. 
We were HEALED now. We were no longer barren. We had conceived. Yes, we were broken this moment. But now we had our very own angel. We had found our peace. I was once again climbing the mountain looking at the rainbow, this time more beautiful than ever with an angel smiling above it. We named her Gabrielle. Now we were as ready as ever to receive HIS blessings. And till this day, each and every moment, we feel HIS blessings. We conceived in 5 months time, and again 3 years later. Claire and Noah are our testimony that when we act out our faith, HE never lets us down.  We know that there will be many difficult tests on our journey. But, one thing is for certain. In our boat, just as the disciples experienced on the stormy seas, Jesus is present and showing us the way. As long as we keep our faith in HIM, He will lift us up time and again. That night, just like a parent puts his kid to bed, I felt HIS hand and HIS lullaby. And I hear HIM and feel HIM ever since.