This is a Very Personal Sharing… Actually speaking, this my Journey to Peace should be described in Two sections. The first, a milestone in itself, was when I experienced Peace In the midst of Extreme Turmoil in a Most Astonishing way! And the second, which was like the reaching the End of a Journey. This post speaks of the First part of that Voyage!
This article is the third in the series on Bible Study.
- On Bible study
- The Problem of Suffering
- My Journey on the Road to Peace
- The Answer to the Problem of Suffering!
- Understanding the Bible
- Ezekiel’s vision of God
- The Bible and History
The last three pertain to Bible Study, per se. The Others deal with the Use and the Advantages of Studying the Bible.
The End of the Journey, as I called it above, brought me Tranquillity, as opposed to Peace, (which can be transitory). This came Only after I Experienced the Answer to the Problem of Suffering. And by Dhyaan. I shall share this second part with You in a separate post.
The Extreme Turmoil that I alluded to in the first paragraph happened in the Third year after my Ordination.
From my Seminary days, I had been a Charismatic Preacher, much in demand. It is more than 30 years since my Ordination, and yet there must be a few who would remember this poor old Yesudas in the dioceses of Hazaribagh, Bihar and as having served in the Divine Retreat Centre in Kerala. The Lord had worked great things, and I had the satisfaction of noting Peace and Well being come into the lives of Many people.
But I had been Overworking. Once I gave Three 10-day retreats, consecutively. On top of this, that was also the time of my ‘Mid life Crisis,’ of which I had not known in those days. Add to that some personal issues. Result, Yesudas Crashed.
There You have it! For posterity, Mark du Toit has captured my pulling out my hair in frustration! Haha!
Jokes aside, here are the salient points. While working in the Railways, after a Deep Experience, I decided to become a Priest. I got the Grace of Ordination after a fairly long wait, at the age of 35, and crashed within 3 years!
And Crash is a Good word for it. What I was experiencing within me was a Dissatisfaction. I was feeling Unloved and Unwanted. And with some reason. Consider. I have been, and still am, quite a ‘Religious’ kind of person. And to me Religion cannot go without Social Justice. But during the Final days of my Seminary, there were Three Distinct groups in my Diocese. One wanted, practically, Social Work Alone. One, with ‘me’ as the sole member, wanted a lot of Religiosity as well. And the Third group, as numerous as the first, Wanted Just to Fish! Their philosophy seemed to be: Down with Spirituality and Social Work.
The members of Both the groups Very Kindly looked down upon me with Disdain. 😦
The catholic church has two kinds of priest, the so called ‘religious’ ones and the diocesan, (Down with the idea of first class and second class priests). When I was thinking of joining the seminary, I asked many priests about the difference between the two, and clearest answer I got from one was: ‘The religious are called to live a ‘perfect’ life.’ Wonderful, is it not? Provided You understand it. I did not. What did impress me was that the training for the diocesan ones was just about 7 years, compared to the other group, which had 4 to 10 years of Extra training! At the time of my deciding to join the seminary I was some 28 years old, and did not want super duper long trainings.
So I went in for the Diocesan Priesthood. These are supposed to live their lives without the support of Community! The ‘religious’ ones are always posted in groups of two’s or three’s at a minimum, whereas the diocesan priest, with less training, is supposed to go it alone! Frankly, No Training is given as to how to face Loneliness, etc. One should not wonder at the messes that diocesan priests land up in.
When I came back from giving my Retreats, my Mind used to be filled with the Sad and Horrible stories I had listened to. (That many don’t bother to Listen to the Sad state of their Brothers and Sisters is their business).
Not taking a Vacation, Not even taking Enough Rest, and all this Negativity, fed on my Doubts on the Existence of God Himself!
- Was Not God Concerned about the Sufferings of His Children?
- Or, horror of horrors, Was He Not Powerful Enough to put an end to Suffering?
- And the worst scenario, Did God Exist at all?
All the above refer to the Problem of Suffering. To see that, please click here.
They say that one suffers from Depression if one’s Ability of Think is affected. I must have been Depressed. As I see it today, my thinking at that time had not been satisfactory at all. But whatever the Reasons, At That Time I came to the (Foolish) conclusion that God did not Exist. (A conclusion I have since revised, as You will accept!)
Yet, at that time, at least the next few points of thinking were Logical enough. Namely, I decided that:
- If there is No God, there can be No Religion.
- If there is No Religion, there is No Priesthood.
- If the Priesthood was Not Valid, it would be Absolutely Dishonest of me to keep receiving the monthly stipend, as it is called, …the money the diocese paid us for our expenses.
And so, I wrote all these things down, along with a letter of Resignation from the Priesthood, and went and presented it to my late Venerable Bishop, Dr. G.V. Saupin, a Most Lovely and Wonderful Man.
He was shocked, and tried his Best to stop me from going ahead with my ‘resignation.’ But I was too broken to listen even to that Dear and Excellent man.
I had about 6000 rupees. I used it to lease a small, road-side hotel that caters to truckers. I got another ‘kick’ from my priest companions even for this. Now, their question was, ‘WHY did You open that hostelry in the diocese itself, so near to where You had been posted?’ The thing is, these kinds of points do not enter my mind. The accusation was that I was planting seeds of Doubt in the minds of the ‘faithful’ by being in that place. …There I was, with those few thousands, which included 10 thousand (or was it 5?, I do not remember now), that the diocese had given me in ‘parting!’ I was supposed to travel to some far away spot even to earn my living. …
The hotel was not a success, though. I believe I spent more money on buying blankets for my workers than I was ‘making.’ More Importantly, I found that I had further lost my Peace!
According to Christianity, everybody is ‘Called’ to a particular Service, a state of life, etc. Evidently, God did not like my trying to give up the Priesthood. For which I Thank God.
During those days, I have heard that my Bishop had Tears in his eyes when he spoke about me. That is one of the Most Important, and Treasured Memories of my Entire Life.
So, after just about two months of this, if I may call it, my Adventure, I went to my Bishop and said to him that I wanted to ‘Come Back’ to the Priesthood. He was quite Happy about it! …I myself requested him to allow me to go for Counselling, to which he consented, and I went to that Wonderful man, Dr. Trevor D’Netto in Pune. After 2 months of Intense counselling, he said to me: “Father, Your Mind is healed now. But You have to take care of Your ‘spirit’ by Yourself. In a Three cylinder engine, two of them are working well now. Unless and Until You see to the ‘third’ cylinder, the ‘engine’ will not work well.”
During those day, I used to walk around the Pune Race Course. One such evening, I realized that the new philosophies I was developing seemed quite Logical, But they were Not Bringing me Peace! That was an Experience! I stopped in my tracks. And this is what I said to God that day:
“I do not like the Way You are Running things. But I Surrender to You. Run the World Any way You Want.”
A Very Poor Surrender. But-it-brought-me-Peace. I could feel waves of it washing over me. That is what I call that Most Astonishing way. Surrendering (to God) brought me Peace.
A SAGA OF REJECTION
When I went back to my diocesan headquarters, I found that my Bishop had been transferred. The diocese was under an administrator, who, though he carried a small copy of the New Testament in his hands at all times, has a heart harder than flint. He said: ‘Since You wrote and gave that You do not want to remain a Priest, that is how it shall be. Do not even put Your bags on the floor. Just Go!’ or words to that effect. And that started another Journey of Heart Ache for me, which You can read here (under preparation, please. And sorry, I have not yet got around to it.).
In all this, Since those days, I have Successfully Lived my Decision to Come back to the Priesthood. I have Not been ‘De-frocked.’ But Am Absolutely Unwanted (even now!), and Totally Unsupported by my Diocese. Most of the Clergy and Many of the Good Nuns look Down upon me! But I Continue to live Happily as a Priest. To me, that is Peace, and Happiness.