17 Obituary

posted May 16, 2019, 2:41 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 16, 2019, 2:42 AM ]

Just simply Father Prax!

On Thursday, May 9, 2019, at 9 a.m., the rising sun had penetrated the stained-glass windows of St Anne's Church at Pali, directly illuminating the mortal remains of Fr Prax lying in repose before the altar, silently transforming them into an icon in our midst. Though his body was in outward decay, his spirit continued to be inwardly renewed, and to one and all present, seemed to radiate the unmistakable joy of someone 'enlightened' by the Risen Lord. Few would dispute the fact that while he lived, he was a saint in our midst. But how mistaken we were to think that these had been his sunset years.

Every sunset becomes a sunrise, if only we are willing to change our point of reference. Unknown to us, but revealed to us only now, is the rare phenomenon of a saint being transformed into an icon. A Saint is one whom we are inspired to imitate. An icon, on the other hand, transforms the one who looks upon it, silently allowing the energy that emanates from it to resonate with the yearnings of the Spirit within us. Not surprisingly, Fr Prax was a man of few words; in the words of the homilist, he only spoke to improve the quality of the silence. It invariably, and very subtly, transformed all those who 'touched' him, for power went out from him.

He was admired for his musical knowledge, as he was attuned to the music of the spheres, the heavenly choirs of angels invariably singing to the rhythm of a beat different from that of earthly mortals. He was one of the few who could listen, hear and understand, and then walk in perfect timing as he travelled life's course. It was often different from, and out-of-step with, the crowd, and he didn't seem to mind. Fr Prax's competence in Liturgical matters blended well with his out-of-the-ordinary musical abilities. His compositions and harmonisations of the music of Liturgical texts for use at Mass have long been used as a reference point. Like him, they are always solemn, faithful to the prescribed texts, and exude a sense of beauty that is worthy of the divine. His computer literacy belied his age, as he etched his compositions in a "Noteworthy" encryption, a term which surely underplays their quality and value. Even so, steeped in the contemplative tradition of the Liturgy, he was content to have his talents in this regard recognised by only a few, and for a large part consigned to the margins. The icon never imposes itself on the onlooker. Kneeling keeps one in high standing with God. Fr Prax was a true contemplative, and it showed not only in his music for the Liturgy, but in every aspect of his life as well. Interior silence is the crucible in which the inevitable sufferings of his priestly ministry continued to be transformed. The outer shell of apparent sternness concealed a heart that was always sympathetic, compassionate, and never judgmental. The musical expression "pianissimo" aptly summarised his lifestyle.