Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 167 No. 51 - December 17 - December 30, 2016 (Christmas Issue)

01 Cover

posted Dec 15, 2016, 10:33 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 15, 2016, 10:33 AM ]

03 Cardinal's Message

posted Dec 15, 2016, 10:26 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 15, 2016, 10:05 PM ]

04 Engagements

posted Dec 15, 2016, 10:13 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 15, 2016, 10:13 AM ]

05 Index

posted Dec 15, 2016, 10:10 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 15, 2016, 10:11 AM ]

06 Editorial - God's Greatest Gift - Fr. Anthony Charanghat

posted Dec 15, 2016, 10:07 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 15, 2016, 10:08 AM ]

08 Why do we celebrate Christmas? - Noel D'Silva

posted Dec 15, 2016, 10:04 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 15, 2016, 10:04 AM ]

Why indeed? Is it because it is a season for get-togethers, camaraderie, renewal and making friendships? Is it because it is the time for new attempts to look our very best, garbed in the latest that the fashion world can display? Is the reason for the season the homes decorated, the making and baking of confectionery, turkey and pie? Or is it the dances of the season or the going around from house to house, singing carols and savouring the delicacies and drinks that the families offer? All these reasons are just the trappings of a feast, and should never, can never be the main justification for the celebration of Christmas.

It is nevertheless true that for the vast majority, the celebration is for X’mas, and not for Christmas.

For us, the disciples of Jesus, the celebration is for the Christ who, in an unbelievable act of generosity, willed to disenchant Himself of His divinity by being born into our humanity: a humanity that is scarred by the first disobedience in the Garden of Eden; a humanity that lies wounded and demeaned by countless transgressions committed by persons, society and the world. Fuelled by an infinite love, a love beyond all understanding, is the birth of Him of whom the angelic choirs sang: ‘Glory to God in the Highest.’ Yes, the Birth of Jesus resounds to the glory of God. The Incarnation of the Son of God reveals in an unimaginable way the love and mercy of the Trinity. And much, much more – for in uniting Himself with human nature, the Son of God lifted us – who believe in Him and do His will – to be heirs of the Kingdom, daughters and sons of our Heavenly Father.

What is mankind that God should be so mindful of them, human beings that God should so care for them? (Psalm 8:4) Dust thou art and unto dust thou will return; this we are reminded of in the yearly liturgy. In reality, since we do not have a hold on our own existence, we are nothing; made into something by the mighty hand of God.


09 Epitome of Brightness - Celine D'Souza

posted Dec 15, 2016, 10:01 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 15, 2016, 10:01 AM ]

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. The people walking in the darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)

2000 years ago, drowsy shepherds on the hillside were disturbed by a blinding light from numerous stars that proclaimed soundlessly the birth of the baby Jesus, accompanied by the cherubic music of trumpets and harps, conveying the tidings not directed only to the shepherds, but the echoes reverberated through the land, sky and seas, right through time immemorial. The mystical Christmas light broke all city walls to brighten the world. “What light is this,” they asked, “that has turned night into day and awakened us?” They followed the starry light and reached the manger. The same light peeped through the thatched roof of the manger, while the light shone through the face of the baby and brightened the stable. The entire town of Bethlehem woke up and wondered about the sudden brightness, because the light was not ordinary; it had a divine glow, symbolic of the truth that a new light will be born who would illuminate the world. 


12 Encounters with Silence - Christopher Mendonca

posted Dec 15, 2016, 9:57 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 15, 2016, 9:58 AM ]

How is it that the Silent Night that is supposed to be Christmas, 
often turns out to be the noisiest? 
What is it that causes us in some sense to “desecrate” 
what we inwardly hold to be so sacred?
Most of us are afraid of silence, 
and mirror the attitude of the inn-keeper in the Gospel narrative 
who let his premises be used for a celebration of the winter solstice 
with revelry and merry-making. 
Noise is often the veneer of “amnesia” 
that coats the events of our lives. 
We simply want to forget, 
to drown out the unpleasant, as if it never happened. 
We seem to programme ourselves to avoid silence 
and to soothe our discomfort, we create a “joyful noise”. 
Our encounters with silence have often been painful.
To be sure, there is a silence that is evil and poisonous. 
It is the pain we experience when we are silenced by another, 
when we are shouted down with ‘fortissimos’ 
while the “pianissimos” so necessary to balance them are snuffed out. 
It is almost as if we cease to exist. 
There is a silence that is born of resentment, 
the bottled up feelings that we cannot trust ourselves to express, 
the feelings we cannot trust anyone to listen to and understand. 
We are numbed into silence when our self-image takes a battering, 
when we don’t know how to cope, 
when our nervousness causes our steps to falter. 


13 The Door to Heaven - Dr. Tania Fernandez

posted Dec 15, 2016, 9:55 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 15, 2016, 9:56 AM ]

November 20, 2016 marked the formal end of the Year of Mercy, and even as the Holy Doors at the Vatican (and doors all over the world) closed, signifying the end of a beautiful and profound period in the life of the Church, I remember feeling an extreme sense of sadness at the closing, even though I was constantly reminded that though the doors of mercy had shut, God’s mercy endured forever.

It is an unfortunate aspect of human character that we tend to forget far too soon and far too easily. We lose out on the essence and significance of an event, and with passing years, instead of holding onto the original memories and meaning, we adapt it to the times we live in. Christmas would be a classic example of how we have commercialised it beyond belief. I thought that following so close to the end of the Year of Mercy, this Christmas 2016 could be different. It would be a good time to appraise the Year of Mercy and how our learning from it impacts the way we intend to celebrate Christmas.

My dad’s favourite hymn comes to mind: “All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you.” We would sing and play a four-part harmony that he had composed, and to this day, for every death anniversary, I still play it. The sentences that speak to me the most in that hymn are:


15 Mercy Dimension of Christmas - Fr. Roger J Landry

posted Dec 15, 2016, 9:54 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 15, 2016, 9:54 AM ]

Today is not about recalling with nostalgia a silent, holy night two millennia ago, but about a very present reality. We need God’s mercy just as much as those 2000 years ago did. We come to greet Jesus, not as God-was-with-us, but God-is-with us, not as God saved, but God saves. We come to renew our marital promises with Him. Jesus’ merciful salvation is not a one-time event, but an ongoing journey in which Jesus, God-with-us, accompanies us through life to eternity. It’s a relationship in which the baby in swaddling clothes, adored by shepherds, grows to become the Good Shepherd who calls each of us by name to follow Him, not just to Bethlehem, but to the heavenly Jerusalem. Though He was born when Caesar Augustus ruled the world and Quirinius was Governor of Syria, His abiding, saving presence is just as real today when Barack Obama is President of the United States and Charlie Baker is governor of Massachusetts.


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