Miracles Happen in History

Light of truth

A reading of the biography of Bp Louis Pazheparampil ( 1847-1919), the first bishop of Ernakulum, by I.C. Chacko, both from the parish of Pulinkunnu, tells us about the suffering and even the persecution that took place in the ecclesiastical landscape of the Kerala Church. A close reading of the story of the seven Carmelites, called The Seven Sorrows expelled from monastic life by the archbishop of Verapoly, Abp Leonanard, reveals the struggle for freedom and self-reliance. Interestingly, the historian who tells the story, the hero of the struggle and the villain of the story are all from the same parish. The Carmelite bishop, who was a foreigner, had the embarrassing duty of administering the Latins and the Syrians using priests of both the Churches, whose loyalties and interests as well as orientations differed and were in conflict. Fr Thattasseil Scariachan and others who entertained the Utopia of the status quo saw to it that all the seven priests who were behind sending a petition asking a bishop exclusively for the Syrians were identified and expelled from the monasteries without following any due process. For those who benefit from the status quo, letting future hope infuse and transform the present is too dangerous and revolutionary to be permitted. This the young priests had foreseen and they did not sign the petition but wrote that they are not signing for fear of being punished by the Archbishop. But what they feared did happen. Rome never bothered about their fear and exposed them to danger. But when the Visitator, Bp Maurin arrived, he conducted a trial and they were given freedom to go back to the monastery. But none went back.

Anyone who rebels against the Utopia of the status quo has only the weapon one uses as the proof of one’s humanity. We see the unexpected revelation of their humanism and the truth of men. Truth is celebrated, terminated, and reborn in a continuous process. The history of the quest for truth is the history of its repetition. In spite of all our endeavours, we don’t seem to come nearer to this rainbow. There is more in the past than what happened. And so we have to find the future of the past, the unfulfilled potential of the past. The Church of yesteryears does not call the native to God’s ways, but to the ways of the white man, of the master, of the oppressor. “A world divided into compartments, a motionless, Manicheistic world, a world of statues: the statue of the general who carried out the conquest, the statue of the engineer who built the bridge; a world which is sure of itself, which crushes with its stones the backs flayed by whips: this is the colonial world,” wrote Frantz Fanon in his Wrenched of the Earth. “A belief in fatality removes all blame from the oppressor; the cause of misfortunes and of poverty is attributed to God: He is Fate.” A Christian cannot escape the critical assessment of history, which is based on the fundamental, political conviction that the world is what we make of it. There is no Hegelian “cunning of reason,” but rather unreason begins to function automatically when reason has abdicated it. We cannot be war mongers or believers in war. We must keep our humanity lofty on the pedestal of the sublime even in our struggles. We have to forget, forgive and forge ahead in the history of inventing miracles.

A life without speech and without action, on the other hand—and this is the only way of life that in earnest has renounced all appearance and all vanity in the biblical sense of the word—is literally dead to the world. It has ceased to be a human, because it is no longer lived among men. With word and deed we insert ourselves into the human world, and this insertion is like a second birth, in which we confirm and take upon ourselves the naked fact of our original physical appearance. This character of startling unexpectedness is inherent in all beginnings and in all origins. The origin of life from inorganic matter is an infinite improbability of inorganic processes. The standpoint of processes, or the evolution of human out of animal life is wonder in the universe. The new always happens against the overwhelming odds of statistical laws and their probability, the fate. The new always appears in the guise of a miracle.

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