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May I have such a Lent once  again....?

Think of lent and la mode over shadows your face. And yes, automatically you are led to a kind of spiritual ovum. Perhaps lent meant to say sacrifices, mortification, and bizarre to the daily causal life. Lent is also a unique event to remember and commemorate the suffering and death of our Lord - Jesus Christ. This tradition has come down the ages and there is no age bar to facilitate oneself to this pious devotion. Hence, way of the cross is the most loved spiritual act that the young and the old would like to refer and pray with and be led oneself to a beautiful spiritual devotion. Those lovely hymns brought down the end days of man with the rhyme toned 'Papiya re Nirbhagya..'.

Practically every Christian student when studying in Mary knoll Higher Primary School, surely has experienced the lent in a special way. This devotion of the 'way of the cross' in the afternoon lunch break hours was a moment of prayer, joy and often it ended up as an entertainment too. During the lent, one thing one would do is to empty the tiffin, and rush to the church which is almost 1,200 Mts away from the school and be present for the next period. It was a midday hour when all ate either their home cooking carried in the tiffin box. After washing the tiffins, later every one  rushed to the church to begin the way of the cross. On the way at times, we kept the phase one over the other, ek se bad kar ek, and saw that
the church clock informed us that 'its time you have come - go back
finishing soon your way of the cross as you have enough time to reach the next hour i.e. 5th  in those days in the school'.

I trace back my memory when almost all catholic students including some few Govinda and his brother Champa joined the cross bearers. The way of the cross prayer books were available at the foot of the Saints statues. Where as Mother Mary's portrait had most but with half and three fourth pages which while reading the reader kept silence and rest understood that the pages are missing. The semi good books were in old good condition were very very few which the first ones who reached first would use them. And if
found with the weak or the girls, there would be
U.S. attack on Iraqi souls.
Normally the way of the cross we had in groups i.e. as per the number and the mates reached the church. The stations were either occupied by a group of four to five or three groups at a time saying the same prayers which are either said, or to be recited thereby from the torn books. I loved the way of the cross just like my other companions. Those days girls were our number one enemies as much as they are our friends and we need them today! (vice versa). However, the way of the cross had in its core the mention of the suffering of Jesus. We normally began in a prayerful note and when third station came.. we would all kneel and start laughing till the tears covered our eyes and all would be informal and laugh, joke, or look at others. Indirectly inviting them to join us. At the same time, one would keep an eye peeping whether Aap Padryab would come to
see us to place the crown of Kuti(striking with fingers) on our head. And normally we ended the way of the cross in sorrow. There were times I cried when the way of the cross was recited, but most of the tears shed out of laughter. Often it was a sheer mockery. But none of us felt that it was a waste or a fun. We loved it and I know not how Jesus must have felt at it.

Our intention was good as children and these funs were inevitable as we were semi serious then only. On Fridays we never ate in the afternoon. But ate the Mangoes in the church and mangoes from the school campus. Itthi master with his iron rod? (folding pen) visited us with his disco divane lungi in one hand and the pen in the other. He was considerate but we were disciplined. Milli Bai always kept us
appetised by the sweet fragrance of uppittu at the end of third period and when she would take off uppit from the main bowl to the other, it was nothing but Milli bai uppittu in mind and not the Ashoka or Oanake Vobhavva stories of the Vanaja teacher.

One day it so happened that while praying the way of the cross, one sneezed and the flower pot came on him. The other girls praying engaged themselves in laughing, till they tilted their head and found themselves in the cemetery. Boys thought they must be worshiping the cemetery crosses. One happened to ask me and I gave the same reply saying that, 'today they offer the way of the cross for the intension of the dead'.  My holy Joe companions were Pinya D' Souza, Kinya Gonsalves, Yanka D' Souza, Paru Picardo, Ammani Sequiera, Juz Pinto, Poz Almeida, Paddu martis, Rukka D'Souza, and our hero Koieh D'Souza from Pandeshwar. He had a loud voice and a shark's brain. He would anticipate the teacher what she is to dictate
which was an irritation then but later we forgave him as much as we have forgotten him today.

All those days we prayed the way of the cross was remembered by me and it has its own spirituality. Though small we were still loved it to happen and occur as the days pass by. I imagine those moments and laugh at it today, but that was the spirituality, which enables our source of strength of our life today and days to come. Nowadays in the schools and in the children when I see such habits are gone by, I feel sad about it. Do our same school children do the same today? I do not know.

Can I have such a Way of the cross of lent once again today...?  Yes I do have it daily but in different and new way but with the same spirituality.

-Henry SFX
 

For a glimpse of the life at Barkur as remembered by Barkurians, check archives

Barkur, located in Udupi Taluk, Karnataka, India. 576 210

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