I respect all religions. I abhor religious conversions, under duress or through unfair means, even though I respect the right of an individual to practice the precepts of any one or all religions. What appeals to me most in the Christian faith is the missionary zeal of the Preacherstheir commitment to spread education, especially amongst the economically weaker sections. It has been my earnest desire to visit a church and discuss issues related to Christianity, especially that of education from the Christian perspective. The visit proper¦.
It is a small beautiful church catering to the needs of a semi-urban centre (bigger than a village and smaller than a town). My job is transferable, and I have been posted in this place since two years. The Christian population of this centre is sizeable, about 30%, the numerical strength is about 4000. My neighbor, now a friend, is a Christian. I am quite impressed with his disciplined approach to life, his regular prayers at a fixed time of the day, his Sunday Church visits etc. When I expressed my desire to visit the church on any day, except Sunday, he readily agreed to take me to the Vicar of the Church, whom he knew well.
The Vicar of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Church is a very friendly individual. He has the look of an intellectual. He is involved in the management of the Little Angels School. My first step within the Church premises and what impressed me most was its ambiance. It was a very well maintained property. With a fairly big lush green lawn and with an excellent garden, it was highly pleasing. Roses of various hues welcomed us. Inside the church proper, the neatly arranged prayer benches were mostly empty that day.
Vicar James is expecting us, as we have fixed up a prior appointment. He took us to his study room, and without wasting a minute, initiated the discussion, after we were formally introduced by my friend. The interview was conducted with a professional touch and the Vicar noted down my questions and often took notes. Question: Can you tell me something about yourselves? Vicar: I am Vicar of this Church since 2001 and I am the founder-President of Little Angels School. Question: Father, what is your responsibility towards the school?
You are so busy in Church-related issues? Vicar: This is not a very big Church, and it is possible to own and discharge multiple responsibilities, if one budgets the time properly. I mostly lead school assemblies, remain present on special occasions, and lend moral and spiritual support to the parents and children. Question: What would you say about relationship with the staff, students and parents and guardians of the students? Vicar: One of absolute harmony. Internally, I am much attached to the School because this school is an important part of the local community.
We have an excellent Principal and the staff members know their responsibilities towards the children. The teaching assignments are tough, the discipline aspect is strict, but this is all done with an undercurrent of love. We all know our responsibilities to mold the children into ideal human beings. I feel great, and enjoy being part of the life in the school. I feel young to be in the company of young and enthusiastic students. Question: I see, you take lots of interest in socio-cultural activities? Is it part of the church philosophy? Vicar: Very much. It is the part.
Every action has a spark of divinity in it. An action is either good or bad. And as per the law of divine retribution, an individual has to suffer or enjoy for it, in the process of the results of his actions getting fructified. For the all-round growth of the personality of children, we wish they remain always busy, as the idle mind is the devils workshop. Most of the school children and faculty members in this township, including my own, come for church visits. They take part in Christmas carol services, and in the process, they get trained in vocal music and other musical instruments.
They are taken to visit Old Age Homes, Reformation Centre of juveniles, we hold camps in villages to familiarize the children about the living conditions there”and yes, and we conduct exhibitions of the painting and other handicrafts created by children. Question: How do you make the visits to the Church, of the children and visitors like me interesting? The Church is empty today and no activities seem to take place. Vicar: To an extent you are right. But any visit is made interesting. As for the people, they mostly attend services and prayer meetings on Sundays.
You wont have leg space in the main hall and people stand in the garden and say prayers. This Church has some history behind it. In the adjacent hall you find a permanent exhibition related to the history/past activities of the Church. You find framed posters, paintings, taking a few rounds of the building and the lush green lawns is in itself special education, you can see the church model in the exhibition room, the children can sing hymns and pray, the majestic pulpit from where the Vicar delivers sermons, the babies are baptized on Sundays.
Children get different ideas by visiting the church and interactions with the Church people. They ask strange questions, and become emotional to see Christ crucified on the Cross etc. Question: Sorry Vicar, I need to ask some serious questions that may not be to your liking. But these questions have been pestering my mind for the last several years, and I thank my friend, this day I got an opportunity to unburden them. Vicar: You are welcome with your questions¦I am willing to learn something new from you. Discussion is the tool to sharpen the intellect.
Question: Is Church too has become ritualistic? Is it only Cross on the neck, and no Christ in the heart? Vicar: The Church conducts certain rituals too. But that is only the minor part of the objectives for which the Church stands for. Spiritual values are the foundation of Christianity. Question: You believe that Christ is the Son of God. Vicar: Yes we all do. But your question needs more elaboration. Now, an individual, named Lazarus was sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
(John 11:1-4(Bible). In this passage, Jesus calls himself the Son of God. Though he was truly united with God, his reference here has a deep impersonal significance. The Son of God is the Christ or Divine Consciousness in man. No mortal can glorify God. The only honor that man can pay his Creator is to seek Him; man cannot glorify an Abstraction that he does not know. The glory or nimbus around the head of the saints is a symbolic witness of their capacity to render divine homage. Question: Have you seen God or experienced Christ? Vicar: I will put it in a different way.
I have a strong desire to experience God through Christ. I am still the seeker treading the path of spirituality. Only Christ is perfect and he can lead us to God. I will again support this from an important quote from the Bible. No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father he hath declared him. (John 1:18) Verily, verily I say unto you, Jesus explained, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
(John 5:19-Bible) A sincere seeker will definitely understand this relationship. Question: Thank you very much Father. I think I need to come to you quite often, as on the basis of what you have told me about Christianity, as per my humble opinion, the Ultimate Truth is one and the same. The conflicts, differences if any, are up to the mind level of the human beings. Once we are able to transcend the mind-barrier, we are all same-the children of Immortal Bliss. Do you agree Father? Vicar: I need to.
What is important to me is that we must exchange view points, and learn about each others beliefs. ” Saying profound thanks to the Vicar, I returned home along with my friend. My first visit to the Church ended on a happy and enlightened note. My conviction that the essence of all the religions is the same, stood further strengthened. The Vicar was a warm, friendly and inspiring personality and as we came out of the main gate of the Church, the Church seemed to extend a profound invitation to me to visit again!