Thursday, August 4, 2016

THE PERFECT PAIR OF SANDALS


A fashionable lady entered a footwear store in search of a pair of new sandals for her use. She tried every sample available in the store but none of them seemed to suit her feet. Disappointed, she was about to leave the store when she noticed a pair lying near the entrance. She put them on and was delighted to find that the pair suited her perfectly. She enquired about its price. The manager told her, “It is free. You can use them”.

The lady was surprised and asked, “Why?”

The manager said, “That was the pair you had on your feet when you came in. You removed them to try the new sandals.”

We may be in a similar situation when we worry about our present predicament on seeing better options elsewhere. We may feel that we should have received a more rewarding job, a more comfortable house, a more beautiful spouse etc. Let us realize that God has given each of us the best gifts that suit us most. Let us thank God for the blessings received.



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By Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

CONFESSION IN A CROWDED TRAIN

CONFESSION IN A CROWDED TRAIN



                Monsignor C. J. Varkey, the late Spiritual Director of Shalom Ministries, India, was once travelling in a train from Mangalore (The Parasuram Express) to South Kerala for conducting a Convention. After a prayer, he started a conversation with the person occupying the opposite seat. He learned that the man was returning from the Central Jail at Kannur after completing a term of imprisonment following conviction for murder by the Court. The Father understood that the man was a Catholic and needed a confession. The priest invited him for a confession but he resisted, explaining that he hated priests. On further enquiry, he revealed to the priest that he had approached three priests for confession but they had ruthlessly turned down his request, labelling him as a murderer. The compartment was full of passengers. Suddenly, Mgr. Varkey knelt down at the feet of the ex-prisoner and kissed his legs, begging his pardon for the priests who had denied him the Sacrament of reconciliation. Seeing a priest in cassock falling at his feet in front of a large number of fellow passengers, the man was transformed totally and immediately confessed his sins in tears before the priest.

                The Late Mgr. C J Varkey was born on 11th June 1921 in the Diocese of Pala in Kerala, South India. He was ordained priest on March 16, 1947 for the Diocese of Calicut. Later, in 1953, he was chosen to serve the newly formed Diocese of Thamarassery. Rev. Fr. C J Varkey, who was aware of the spiritual needs of his parishioners, founded the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate (MSMI) on Sept 8th, 1962. He rendered 16 long years of service in the parish of Kulathuvayal.   In 1973, he took charge as the full time Director of MSMI congregation and stayed at its Generalate in Kulathuvayal thereafter.
                In 1976-77, Rev Fr. Varkey came into the charismatic renewal movement and by divine inspiration, conducted charismatic retreats along with MSMI sisters. Seeing the great number of people coming into the experience of God, he decided to start a retreat centre. Thus in 1985, the Nirmala Retreat Centre (NRC) was started in Kulathuvayal. NRC became instrumental in inspiring many Consecrated and lay people to serve in the preaching ministry of the Catholic Church. A small group of young people, transformed by Catholic charismatic renewal, used to come together regularly to pray under the spiritual guidance of Msgr. C. J. Varkey.  This group, developed into the renowned ‘Shalom Ministries’. Shalom ministries have illuminated the lives of millions across the globe through a number of publications, television programmes and other new media initiatives. The ministry organizes retreats and leadership conferences inviting people to open their lives to Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
                Mgr. C J Varkey served as the Spiritual Director of Shalom Ministries till his death. During the 60th year of his ordination, on 4th January, 2007 the title of Monsignor was conferred on Father Varkey. On 24th June, 2009, at 6.10pm Mgr. C.J Varkey left for his heavenly abode. His mortal remains were brought to the Generalate of MSMI Congregation in Kulathuvayal and were solemnly buried there. 
                God offers His mercy, love and forgiveness in the Holy Sacrament of reconciliation. God says to us: "Now, let's settle this matter. You are stained red with sin, but I will wash you as clean as snow. Although your stains are deep red, you will be as white as wool" {Isaiah 1: 18}.
                 When God forgives our sins, he casts our sins into an ocean of mercy, kindness, forgiveness and forgetfulness. St. Isaac the Syrian taught, "Our sins are as so many grains of sand cast into the ocean of God's mercy."
                Jesus had said, "I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent."{Luke 15: 7}.
                Archbishop Fulton. J. Sheen says about the confessional in the Church, "In it is to be found the Sacred Heart of the forgiving Christ forgiving sinners through the uplifted hand of His priest as He once forgave through His own uplifted hands on the Cross." It is said that the Church is a hospital for sinners; not a museum for saints.
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© By: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Former Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India, Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally,  Leo. S. John, St. Antony's Public School,  Anakkal, Kanjirappally and Neil John, Alfeen Public School, Kanjirappally, Kerala, India.  For more moral stories, parables and anecdotes for students, catechists, teachers and preachers, kindly visit our web-sites:
                         This is Story No. 342 in the second site. Please click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of a page to read previous stories and click 'Newer Posts' at the bottom of a page to read newer stories in these sites. Please click on a word in the 'Story Themes' to read stories on that theme.

Friday, April 29, 2016

THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT

THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT 

                  The wise men from the east who had followed the divine star visited and worshipped Baby Jesus and presented their gifts to Him. They were directed by God in a dream to return by another route. An angel asked Joseph to escape to Egypt with Mary and Baby Jesus immediately.
                  King Herod, who was expecting the return of the wise men to his palace, became furious when he realized that they had tricked him. He ordered a massive infanticide. All male children in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood who were two years old and younger were ordered to be killed. The king’s armed soldiers set out to kill the innocent infants mercilessly {Matthew 2: 1-17}.
                  There is a charming legend about the exile of the Holy Family to Egypt. The king’s soldiers learned that some families had escaped from Bethlehem and chased them. Though the Holy Family had moved away from Bethlehem, they were aware that the soldiers would come after them. They were tired and exhausted, but continued their journey to save the Holy Child.
                  On the way, they saw a group of farmers sowing seeds of grains in their field. Joseph asked for some water to drink, which they gave gladly. Joseph and Mary refilled their leather bottles with water for the long journey. The senior farmer asked them about the purpose of their hurried journey. Joseph told them about the king’s order to murder the children. The farmers were shocked to hear this and they promised that they would deny having seen the Holy Family, if questioned by the approaching soldiers. St. Mary sternly forbid them from telling a lie even if it would save their lives. She asked them to have firm faith in Almighty God and be truthful throughout life.
                  The Holy Family thankfully bid farewell to the kind and compassionate farmers and resumed their tiring journey. The farmers returned to their field. They were filled with wonder to see a  marvellous miracle before their eyes. The seeds that they had sown a few minutes ago had miraculously sprouted and sprang up suddenly, the grains had ripened instantaneously and the fields were now ready for harvest soon after the seeds were sown. They thanked God for the miraculous harvest and praised the sanctity of the Holy Family. They brought their harvest tools and started reaping the farm, singing the traditional songs of praise.
                  A group of armed soldiers on horseback approached the reaping farmers and enquired about a family with a baby who went along that way. The senior farmer told them that they had met a family with a child when they were sowing the seeds in that farm and had provided them with drinking water and that was the last family to pass that way. Thus the farmers could talk with truthfulness and save the Holy family. The soldiers surveyed the fields which were being reaped and told to themselves, “If they had seen the family at the time of sawing, they cannot be the people we are searching for, as it is now the time of reaping what they sowed.” They returned to Bethlehem, leaving the Holy family to continue their flight to Egypt.
                  We should speak only the truth. When words are manipulated to get our own way, even deviating from truth and righteousness, we go wrong. Jesus taught us, "Just say 'Yes' or 'No' - anything else you say comes from the evil one" {Matthew 5: 37}.
                 Honesty is the best policy. It is a good rule that we should be faithful and truthful in every action - both big and small. 
                 A true Christian should not tell a lie even if telling the truth may cause loss, suffering or pain. We should not tell a lie even if telling the lie may give us money, power or pleasure. St. Paul advises, "No more lying, then! Everyone must tell the truth to his fellow-believer, because we are all members together in the body of Christ" {Ephesians 4: 25}.
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© By: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Former Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India, Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally,  Leo. S. John, St. Antony's Public School,  Anakkal, Kanjirappally and Neil John, Alfeen Public School, Kanjirappally, Kerala, India.  For more moral stories, parables and anecdotes for students, catechists, teachers and preachers, kindly visit our web-sites:
                         This is Story No. 341 in the second site. Please click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of a page to read previous stories and click 'Newer Posts' at the bottom of a page to read newer stories in these sites. Please click on a word in the 'Story Themes' to read stories on that theme.

Monday, April 25, 2016

THE ART, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OF TEACHING

THE ART, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OF TEACHING



(By Prof. Dr. Babu Philip,
 Former Professor of Marine Biochemistry and Research Guide,
Department of Marine Biology, Microbiology and Biochemistry,
Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.)

                          We gather information through the sense organs. The relative contribution of each faculty is:  1 % through taste,
1.5 % through touch, 3.5 % through smell, 11 % through hearing and 83 % through sight. This shows the importance of visual and verbal media in classroom communication.

A…TEACHING APPLIANCES

1…OVERHEAD PROJECTOR

            Words and figures are either written with marker pens or printed on transparent sheets for projection. The choice of colours and contrast need special attention. Highlighting of major ideas is more effective than crowding of ideas. The size of letters should be adjusted to enable clear reading by all in the hall. Use of pointer or laser pointer is essential while explaining a point but avoid projecting the full text of a lecture and reading the matter without eye contact with the audience. Switch off the projector when not in use.

2…COMPUTER-AIDED PROJECTION

        Teaching materials prepared using programmes like
‘PowerPoint’ and ‘Flash’ and projected directly onto the screen (eg. Using LCD or LED projector) are becoming very common. The choice of colour and size of letters, background colours, animation and sound effects requires careful planning and trial before every presentation.  Highlighting of major ideas with minimum words and clear illustrations is better than excessive writing.
     
3…CHALK BOARD AND WHITE BOARD

                     Use of writing boards requires careful planning and     practice. Special attention should be given to the size, colour and depth of letters. The space between letters, words and lines should be adjusted for clear and easy reading even by those seated at the back of the audience. Underlining or use of special and brilliant colours can highlight salient points. Avoid excessive writing and present the major points with minimum words and effective illustrations.
Avoid errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation. Use a pointer to explain without obstruction. Erase the writing after explaining each idea.

B…LOW-COST AND NO-COST VISUAL MEDIA

       During a lecture, visual media may be exhibited to draw the attention of the audience. These include objects, specimens, models, photos, pictures, diagrams, charts, graphs, maps etc.
The presentation should be relevant and clearly visible to everyone. Use of flannel graph requires careful preparation. Clearly written words, neatly drawn diagrams, etc. on drawing paper with pieces of emery paper glued to the back can be effectively projected on a spread sheet of flannel and exhibited before the audience with good versatility. The materials can be removed and replaced by new sheets easily during a lecture.

C…TEACHER AS AN AUDIOVISUAL MEDIUM 

       Display a positive attitude of interest and enthusiasm and begin the lecture by greeting the audience with a smile.
The teacher should be clearly visible to the audience. While lecturing your eyes should observe the face of everyone in the audience. Based on the feedback you receive from their faces, modify the presentation suitably. Avoid unnecessary focus on the notes or the projected material. Display a pleasant facial expression as a reflection of a positive and pleasant attitude to the subject and the audience. The facial expression should change naturally to suit the topic being presented. Avoid unnecessary gestures, distracting mannerisms and stereotyped movements. Your movements before the audience should be meaningful, natural and purposeful. Practise in front of a tall mirror or a close friend and use the feedback to correct your posture and movements during a lecture.

D…VERBAL MEDIA

    Modulate the volume, pitch, tone and pace of the voice for a natural and conversational style of presentation. The lecture should be clearly audible to everyone in the audience. Vary the pace or speed of presentation to suit the grasping ability of the audience and the complexity of the subject. Avoid very rapid talk. Occasional pause and repetition may be needed to introduce novel and difficult ideas.
        The language must be simple, pleasing and interesting. Use correct, meaningful and short sentences. Use a simple, direct, pleasing and interesting natural style and avoid a hard or bombastic style. The pronunciation should be correct, clear and natural and not overstylish or erroneous. Use a tape-recorder or a friend’s guidance to evaluate and modify your voice and mode of presentation.
        Your response to the questions from the audience must be encouraging and tolerant. Invite questions and clarifications with confidence. If the answer to a question is not known to you, display the humility to accept your inability and seek an expert’s opinion to get the correct answer.
          Explanations of difficult concepts should be simple, varied and meaningful and at the correct level of the audience.  Present suitable examples, incidents and experiences to explain difficult ideas. They should be relevant, familiar, interesting, simple and brief and capable of arousing curiosity. Use relevant anecdotes and short stories to make your narration interesting and meaningful.
          Develop and display a strong sense of humour and maintain a healthy, pleasant relationship with the audience.

E…PLANNING AND PREPARATON

        Effective teaching needs intensive planning and extensive preparation. Suitable teaching media have to be designed and prepared sufficiently early. Illustrative anecdotes and examples are very helpful to clarify difficult ideas.  The ideas and media should be arranged and presented in a logical sequence.
         The matter and manner of presentation should be appropriate to the needs and background of the audience. Management of time needs special attention.

F…CONCLUSION

            The conclusion should include a summary of the salient points presented and suggestions to apply the information.
With creative efforts and constant practice we can develop efficient and effective skills of communication for an impressive presentation.
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© By: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Former Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India, Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally,  Leo. S. John, St. Antony's Public School,  Anakkal, Kanjirappally and Neil John, Alfeen Public School, Kanjirappally, Kerala, India.  For more moral stories, parables and anecdotes for students, catechists, teachers and preachers, kindly visit our web-sites:
                         This is Story No. 340 in the second site. Please click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of a page to read previous stories and click 'Newer Posts' at the bottom of a page to read newer stories in these sites. Please click on a word in the 'Story Themes' to read stories on that theme.

Friday, November 20, 2015

FAILING FAMILIES

FAILING FAMILIES 

                Tom told his friend Alex, “I am going to divorce my wife.”
Alex asked, “Why? Whose fault is it?
 Tom said, “50% of the fault is my wife’s.”
“Then whose is the other 50%?”  Alex asked.
Tom replied, “That is her mother’s !”
                A little boy was studying his lessons at home. His mother was cooking in the kitchen. He asked her, “Mommy, can divorce come before marriage?” She said, “Never.” He continued, But Mommy, see this book. Here divorce appears before marriage. “ She examined the book and explained with a smile, “ But that is a dictionary, dear. It never happens in real life.”
                A teacher asked the students of a Sunday school to list the seven Sacraments in a note book as part of a test. One student spelt matrimony as ‘MATRIMONEY’. The teacher asked him why he made this mistake. He replied, “It is not a mistake. That is the way it should be written, because many people consider ‘MONEY to be the most important component of married life. Financial problems may disturb a family. Differences in opinion and outlook are natural when two different persons live together. Problems can be solved easily by a free and frank discussion in an atmosphere of love. Instead, minor problems may grow and assume larger dimensions when others get involved in it and complicate the situation. Many quarrels which start on minor  issues may flare up, leading to violence or divorce.
                Man was created in the image of God. The first family was created by God in the image of heaven. It is God’s wish that every family should remain as a heaven of happiness. Real happiness results only when there is close co-operation and mutual respect between partners. Otherwise the better half becomes the bitter half. In several oriental Christian churches, during the sacrament of matrimony, the priest adorns both the husband and the wife with the matrimonial ring. It symbolizes that the spouse is received from God. Matrimony is thus a union of three - the husband, wife and God. Marriages are conceived in heaven and celebrated on earth. The ideal family is an image of heaven.
                Husband and wife are equal before God and have equal rights and responsibilities to make their family a heaven of happiness. They should render hearty support to each other even during disappointment, disability, discomfort, distress, disease or disaster. Matrimony is a sacred sacrament, a source of divine grace. Marital partners participate in God's act of creation. Their attitudes and actions should be complementary and not contradictory. . The five letters in the word ‘FAMILY’ represent the first letters of the words in the meaningful phrase- ‘Father And Mother In Love, Year-round’.
                 Marital love is a great gift of God. It should be active year-round. It should be active, constant, continuous and equally strong during all seasons of the year- lasting till the last moment of life.
                To the Pharisees’ question about divorce, Jesus answered, “Man must not separate, then, what God has joined together” {Matthew 19: 4 – 6, Mark 10: 9}.




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© By: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Former Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India, Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally,  Leo. S. John, St. Antony's Public School,  Anakkal, Kanjirappally and Neil John, Alfeen Public School, Kanjirappally, Kerala, India.  For more moral stories, parables and anecdotes for students, catechists, teachers and preachers, kindly visit our web-sites:
                         This is Story No. 339 in the second site. Please click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of a page to read previous stories and click 'Newer Posts' at the bottom of a page to read newer stories in these sites. Please click on a word in the 'Story Themes' to read stories on that theme.