‘Well, actually I am a Catholic,’:Don Aguiar

‘Well, actually I am a Catholic,‘                               Don Aguiar


Over so many years, we’ve learnt from the Bible and Sunday school not to hurt any life – human or otherwise. Killing is not right. Hurting people physically or mentally whether by word or action is wrong. So life should be lived with compassion and non violence, the basic point is, we don’t know where we come from, we also don’t know where we go after death. But you have to raise your voice against injustice. Then if you have hurt someone who has hurt other people, it is justified. But we – our community – are silent even though we have the potential to make a difference as we have not understood the meaning of justice, equality, liberty and fraternity.


In Church we are not told to vote for a specific candidate or party. We are told that we should vote for someone who is secular, believes in freedom of religion, is open to social change and does not impose forced conversion.


We support the secular parties only out of compulsion although we believe that political parties are corrupt. This belief has left the secular parties this time looking like neither fish nor fowl nor even a good red herring and in some serious trouble before this Lok Sabha polls — and that compulsion might soon be over if we are not out there on election day to cast our vote or else the communal/fascist parties will do well at the Lok Sabha polls.


Are we going to allow our country to be devoid of its secular character? Where Minorities will be looked upon as second-class citizens and will be targeted and there will be selective discrimination of minority communities.


Are we this time siding with the fascist and fundamental forces and have lost our power to call ourselves Christians as the greatest sin is our silence on the issue of maintaining our secular nation which has been a betrayal,


We’ve also experienced what St. Paul affirms, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.” Even when we have to address tragic situations, we must search for the seed of the good, true and beautiful. I recall my grandmother prayer – “Oh!!! Lord This Is What I Seek I do not ask to walk smooth paths, nor bear an easy load. I pray for strength and fortitude, to climb the rock-strewn road. Give me such courage I can scale the hardest peaks alone. And transform every stumbling block, Into a Stepping Stone.”


Fridays for us was and is abstinence day from all meats – I recall my mother saying ‘Tomorrow’s Friday.”.And everybody is making faces and then she reminds us of our grandmother’s prayer which gets us to make the difference.  As the years passed we got so used to it that whenever we went out for either lunch or dinner with our friends or colleagues on Fridays we would always abstain from all meats on Fridays while our friends or colleagues had their beef, chicken, pork, etc.  


Fridays being the weekend after a long work week, my colleagues liked relaxing after work and so keeping to my father’s advice – “If you want to walk fast walk alone but if you want to walk far walk together.” Walking together meant joining my colleagues at their usual place for dinner and light funny chit chat. One of my non Catholic colleague who liked to be the joker noticed that I only ordered fish on Fridays and thinks I like fish and so I am having fish. I tell him I like pork chilly very much. “But you ordered prawn chilly fry I heard.” “Today’s Friday,” I say. He asks if I am a Catholic and I say I am.  “So this is what you have to do to get to heaven, eat fish on Friday?”  


The next time too he takes one look at my plate and his eyes light like neon. He wants to know what that is, on my plate. I explained that it is mackerel.  “All in the fish family” he laughs. My neighbor laughs and laughs till I think he is going to fall off his chair – What’s so funny about a guy eating fish on Friday?”


The biggest mistake by most human beings – listen half, understand quarter and telling double –  makes some people just not missing the odd screw but the whole tool box is gone.- This is how my colleague the joker understood  and put it –

He told me – Stan did you hear about the Irishman who went to a restaurant on Friday and asked for some fried Octopus on Friday. He was told that there was no fried Octopus and the Irishman retorted “The Lord knows I tried! Then get me some beef steak.”  “Stan I understand that you Catholics do not eat meat during lent. I heard a guy who ate so much fish that his stomach used to rise and fall with the tide.” Ha ha!!!!!


A few week down the line after all his taunting and jokes on fish and me my colleague the joker tells me that a guy who sticks to his principles is the only kind he thinks is worth having for a friend – It made me sure of two things – I was glad that I stuck out for what I believe in, but also you’ve got to watch out for putting the wrong interpretation on what another person does and says. Most of us have experienced this situation and stick out for what we believe in.


Now, people are happy to say ‘Well, actually I am a Catholic,’ and sometimes they’re quite keen to let themselves be known as a Catholic,” British Cardinal Vincent Nichols said. “And I think that’s the effect of Pope Francis. There is credibility around the Catholic project. BUT it must not be limited to this – We must all walk together and be there on Election Day to cast our vote as we must ensure that we should not sell ourselves to the devil and we should not sell our country to the communal/fascist party.



1 Comment

  1. April 4, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Very well said Don,
    After all many of us look for guidance to the clergy, who we hope will be there for us; but are they ???
    So it is left to us to make up our own minds and vote for a party who, we hope will allow us what the Constitution of India allows– the right to practice our religion–
    instead of bowing and chanting HEIL HITLER !!!!


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