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Weekend session in Peshawar



Water from the Rock - Province of South Asia

21/04/2009: Pakistan - Photo gallery

On 13th and 14th of March, a session on Marist Spirituality was held at Peshawar for the Brothers working in the provincial sector of Pakistan. Almost all the Brothers of the sector met at Peshawar. We say almost all because due to the confused political situation of the country not all the Brothers could travel to Peshawar. Many roads in the country were blocked. Even though, it was worthwhile this quick session on the contents of our more recent book on spirituality, Water from the Rock. A Brother shared in the general group: I knew already the book, since it was distributed to us some months ago. However, I have to confess that Water from the Rock was inspiring neither my prayer nor my meditation. After this session, I came to realize that I have with me a deeply spiritual text that it will not enrich my meditation and my prayer only if I dont wish. I am now fully aware that this book is an extraordinary gift the Congregation has given us, through the Commission that wrote it. I want to convey my congratulations to the Commission.

Although in our schools we were fully absorbed by the examinations, we still have found a bit of time to give to the teachers of St. John Vianney School the opportunity of having a first contact with this excellent book. The good will of the facilitator allowed that, as well. In the group of the teaching staff there were several Muslim teachers: that is absolutely normal in a country like Pakistan. Taking into account the members of the Assembly, the facilitator took advantage to underline that Marist Spirituality as it is presented in Water from the Rock fits perfectly in the Muslim world. The teachers following the prophets teachings wont have any difficulty in putting into practise at least some fundamental elements of Marist Spirituality. And the facilitator went on underlining three:

1. Marist Spirituality is a spirituality of passion and of compassion; we should not forget that all the surats of the Holy Qumran but one begin precisely with words underlining God’s mercy: Allah is clement and merciful.

2. Marist Spirituality underlines, in a special way, the role of Mary in the life of Marist people: it could not be in a different way; we know how the Holy Qumran speaks on and of Mary: with a total respect presenting her as exceptional woman deserving our veneration. She is the Virgin par excellence to whom many Muslims appeal in their needs.

3. Marist Spirituality, being a spirituality of compassion, pays a special attention to the solidarity with the poor; we know that almsgiving is one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam. And almsgiving is nothing else than a very concrete way of exercising solidarity.

4. Marist Spirituality is a spirituality that underlines, several times, the value of prayer either personal (81) or community (83); we also know how the Holy Qumran pays attention, we would say in an unique way, to the value of prayer: in fact prayer is one of the five pillars of Islam

In a country where frictions can exist between Christians and Muslims due to the weight of the history and misunderstandings of the past, Marist Spirituality appears as an important factor of unity and communion.

The teachers of our school understood the message and they express the desire to continue to deepen Marist Spirituality in the future.
Peshawar, 15th March 2009

Dreams involve, abandoning securities and risking our lives.
Paul S. Bhatti, FMS

The famous poet of the East, Allama Mohammad Iqbal, had a dream of having a separate nation for the Muslims of Sub Continent, so that they could be free in their own land to practice their religion with freedom.

Our great leader, Mohammad Ali Jinna, had a dream to fulfill the dream of Iqbal, and struggled for an independent nation, today known as Pakistan.

Martin Luther had a dream, the famous speech, I had a dream. It was a dream of justice, equality and brotherhood. One can see the dream come true in America.

Nelson Mandala, had a dream of better rights and life for the black Africans in South Africa.

Marcellin Champagnat had a dream to have teachers, who will teach young men and women to help them know how much Jesus Christ loves them, and to follow Christ as Mary did. He had a dream when he said, We need Brothers.

These are just a few examples of people having dreams. Most of us have our own dreams. We see ourselves striving for them, and making them reality.

In every instant above, they had a dream, they worked on it and achieved. What is the most important thing in it is that they had a dream; they had some thing in mind to do. They were not blank, rather had plan to implement in their lives. Either for themselves or others, whatever the reason, they all had a dream.

Recently when Teofilo Minga, visited us to introduce the Water from the Rock, he brought to our notice that there is no conclusion to the book. Rather the readers are left to have visions and dreams. An excellent way to finish a book!

I personally have been touched with the idea of not having a conclusion. Since then I have realized once again, how important it is to have dreams, have visions for ones life.

I have been envisioning my life anew as a Marist brother, Marist life in Pakistan, and in the South Asian Province!

I see dreams. How to live the spirit of Marcellin in the present realities of my country and with my brothers in the communities? How to make sense of my life as a religious for myself and for others with whom I come in contact? How to make my Muslim brethren understand of our value to live a life of Celibacy and Chastity? What new ways and means have I to use to the reach to the Montagnes of today.

A few days ago, while reading the last chapter, I came to awareness, the struggle and pain I have been going through for the past few months. The Provincial and Council decided to close our Formation House in Faisalabad, Pakistan. I was asked to move
to Sri Lanka to work in a Common Postulancy. Certainly I have no problem to moving to Sri Lanka; however, I hated the idea or even the thought of closing the formation house.

While I was reading article 155 WfR, I was touched by the following words, …we readily carry the gift of education and Marist presence to places and situations that might require abandoning securities and even risking our lives.

I was thinking, our presence in Faisalabad was more important than moving to any other ministry. I felt that may be it is important to take the risk of leaving the place. May be our presence is not needed here in Faisalabad and would be more fruitful else where.

Reading further in the same article, it reads, …we actively engage in creating new paths of inter-cultural and inter-religion dialogue. Again, it was quite inviting for me to start thinking of my new responsibility to work in inter cultural setting in Sri Lanka, with my Sri Lankan and Indian Brothers for the development, harmony and brotherhood of our South Asian Province. I am sure the move towards the inter –cultural (Common Postulancy) Postulancy for India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka is a step forward in seen new visions and dreaming new dreams.

Thus, I feel happy that WfR has inspired to me to see things in different way. It has helped me to come to accept the news challenges of life, of our Marist life in Pakistan and in the Province. It has urged me once again, in seeing new vision, having dreams so that they will become the reality of my life.

It has helped me to understand moving from hamlet to hamlet on the hills of the Pilat. May I have the courage and vision to walk the pilats of my life! May we who cherish the Charism of Marcellin Champagnat, humbly anchored on the rock of Gods unconditional love, and move from hamlet to hamlet, making Jesus and Mary known and loved by our presence and education.

Read other texts of Br. Paul Bhatti:
1. ‘All can be moments of grace to meet and Know God’
2. … A moment of grace to meet and know God

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