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The Chaldean Chai Parable
By Frank Dado :: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 :: 42846 Views :: Religion & Spirituality

A group of Chaldeans, well established in their careers, were talking at a wedding and debating to visit their old priest, who they heard had recently retired.  The cold weather and three hour drive to the rectory caused a debate.  “Not enough time,”  “Too busy with work,”  “He may not remember us or may be too tired or sick to see us,” were some of the excuses.  Until one of them, wisely appealing to his friends vanity and selfishness said, “Are you happy in life?”  Perhaps this visit will do more for us than him.  Plus, we can drive together, catch-up during the ride, and save on gas.  Fortunately we are all successful enough to take the time off.”

The others startled over the comment about concerns with gas cost and able to take time off, quickly objected.  “It is not about the gas or money,” one stammered. 

“Great than I will make the arrangements and pick up everyone next week at eight,” said the bolder Chaldean.  The next few days he called the rectory and made an appointment to meet with the priest and shared some of the discussions he and the others had at the wedding.     

The first hour of the drive each man in the car bragged of his success and accomplishments.  The second hour of the drive, each man lowered their defenses a bit and shared their hopes and dreams unfulfilled.  The third hour, each feeling they no longer needed to impress the others or hide their insecurities shared their frustrations, dissatisfaction, and meaninglessness with work and life in general. 

By the time they arrived at the rectory their faces could not hide their sadness.  Walking to the front door they were greeted by the old priest who shared a large smile for the obviously troubled group.  The priest happily greeted his former parishioners.  Inside his humble abode the priest scurried about serving his guests and offering them the customary hot cup of tea. 

The priest went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot tea and an assortment of cups - porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite -telling them to help themselves to the tea as he disappeared for some traditional Chaldean cookies and biscuits.  

Returning from his small kitchen he sat with the successful men and reminisced.  They sat enjoying the company and the cozy home.  The conversation soon turned to complaints about stress in their work and lives; their children being disobedient and lacked discipline, work was no longer meaningful and their wives seemed to show little if any appreciation for their ability to earn the more expensive things in life.  Quietly the successful men sat, sulking in their unhappiness. 

When they all had a cup of hot tea in hand, the priest said: "Notice that all the nice looking; expensive cups were taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones.  While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

The cup that you're drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot tea.  In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was hot tea, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups and then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this:  Life is the hot tea; your job, money and position in society are the cups.  They are just tools to hold and contain life.  The cup you have does not define, nor change the quality of life you have. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot tea God has provided us.

The priest continued, God makes the hot tea - man chooses the cups.

The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything that they have.  They live simply, Love generously, care deeply, and speak kindly.

The men sat astounded at the wise and prophetic words.  Slowly they came to understand the application in their own personal lives.  They turned to one another embarrassed but relived. 

The priest turned to them and asked, “Do me this one favor.”  The men happily agreed.  “When you drink tea remember this. Remember that God makes the tea and man chooses the cups.”

Together the men slowly rose knowing the words were enough to help them course a new path in their lives.  The priest warmly smiled and bid them farewell as the men returned back to their car and began the trip back. 

Inside the car they sat quietly as each reflected on the uselessness of their cups and how that had spoiled their tea.  Now they all hoped to return home and brew a fresh pot of chai. 

Do you care about the chai or the cup? Don't answer, the way you live has already answered that for you.

Mar Addai Church, MI USA

Mar Addai Chaldean Catholic Church
24010 Coolidge Hwy.
Oak Park, MI 48237
Tel: (248) 547-4648
Fax: (248) 399-9089

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Founding Pastor:
Rev. Stephen Kallabat

Current Pastor:
Rev. Stephan Kallabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Fadi Habib Khalaf

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Sulemina Denha


Rev. Stephen Kallabat

Fr. Stephan Kallabat was born in Telkaif, Iraq.  After completing seven years of scholarly work for the priesthood in Mosul, Iraq Fr. Kallabat was accepted at the prestigious university in Rome.  There he spent six additional years of scholarly work in the areas of philosophy and theology and an additional four years in scriptural studies. 

Ordained a priest in 1966 by Pope Paul VI he returned to Iraq to serve the Holy Family parish until his departure to Michigan, U.S. in 1979 to serve the growing population of Chaldeans.  Fr. Kallabat was appointed assistant pastor, then pastor of Mar Addai Parish in Oak Park, Michigan. 

Hitting the ground running, Fr. Kallabat is credited with raising the necessary funds to provide Chaldeans in the local area a church and community center of their own.  Fr. Kallabat continues to serve the parish and Chaldean community as their pastor.   

Rev. Fadi Habib Khalaf

Fr. Fadi Habib Khalaf was born in Baghdad May 10, 1974.  Fr. Khalaf graduated from Baghdad University in 1997 and soon after joined the Chaldean seminary in Baghdad.  While there Fr. Khalaf earned a scholarship to attend the Urbanian Pontifical University in Rome.  There he earned another bachelor’s degree in theology and was ordained deacon in Rome on May 8, 2004. 

Fr. Khalaf then returned to Baghdad where he was officially ordained as a priest.  Afterward Fr. Khalaf returned to Rome to further his studies.  In 2006 Fr. Khalaf was appointed to serve Chaldeans in the United States.  

In the summer of 2006 he arrived to the Chaldean diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle and was cardinated into the Diocese and elected to serve at Mar Addai parish on March 15, 2007 as the Parochial Vicar.

Rev. Suleiman Denha

Rev. Suleiman Denha was born in Telkaif, Iraq.  He began his priestly studies in 1951 in Mosul, Iraq and was ordained in 1959.  Fr. Denha taught in Telkaif until 1961, when he was appointed pastor in Basra, Iraq in 1966. 

After immigrating to the Unite States in 1979, he was appointed to serve the Chaldean community in Virginia.  A year later, Fr. Denha was recruited to assist the much larger population of Chaldeans in Detroit. 

Upon his arrival Fr. Denha assisted Fr. Yasso at Sacred Heart Church.  In 1982 he was asked to temporally assist St. Joseph Church in Troy, returning a year later Sacred Heart. 

In 1991, he was appointed to Mar Addai Church in Oak Park, Michigan as the Parochial Vicar, where he still serves the community today.