Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 13 - April 01 - April 07, 2017

01 Cover

posted Mar 30, 2017, 10:47 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 31, 2017, 12:01 AM ]


03 Index

posted Mar 30, 2017, 10:44 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 30, 2017, 10:44 AM ]


04 Engagements

posted Mar 30, 2017, 10:43 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 30, 2017, 10:43 AM ]


05 Editorial - Five more workers for God’s Vineyard

posted Mar 30, 2017, 10:41 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 31, 2017, 12:02 AM ]

On April 1, 2017, God will bless this Archdiocese with five more men ordained as priests and commissioned to work in this Archdiocese. We count it as a great blessing, particularly in the scenario of the vocation crisis all over the world. As the Rite of Ordination begins, the Rector of the Seminary will testify to the ordaining Bishop, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, that these men have been found worthy "upon enquiry among the Christian people and upon the recommendation of those responsible." These words uttered by the Rector at the very beginning of the Rite of Ordination indicate clearly that it is the entire community, and not just the Seminary, that bears responsibility for the formation of those whom God calls to the priesthood.

In fact, the beginning of the vocation of all these men was in the heart of the world, much before they entered the Seminary. It is in the family, in the bosom of the parish, and in the midst of the challenges of the workplace that God's call was heard and recognised by each of them. During their years in the Seminary, besides their philosophical and theological studies, they have spent entire weekends in profound immersion in pastoral ministry, being formed by the very persons they have had the opportunity to interact with outside the Seminary compound. And their formation will in fact continue long into their years of priestly ministry, as they engage with the "Christian people" in the parishes where they are appointed to serve, attempting to have the "smell of the sheep".

Even as they hone their skills of the ministry of the Word, the service of the altar and outreach to the marginalised, they will deepen their experience of putting their various talents in the Lord's service, and perhaps discovering new charisms that the Holy Spirit will nurture in their new-found pastoral field. We hope and pray that each of them may be able to say like Peter at the gate of the Temple to the man who was begging: "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk." (Acts 3:6) And may they be able to praise God for their initiation into effective ministry.

A document recently published by the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy - "The Gift of the Priestly Vocation" - reminds us of another dimension: that a candidate to the priesthood "is a 'mystery to himself', in which two aspects of his humanity, that need to be integrated, are intertwined and exist side by side. On the one hand, he is characterised by talents and gifts that have been moulded by grace; on the other, he is marked by his limits and frailty." (No. 28). This makes the newly ordained focus also on this second aspect—human frailty that needs to be integrated with the positive discovery of talents. We are reminded of St Paul who recognised that he had a "thorn in the flesh" (2 Cor 12:7) which he would rather not have. The Lord led him to integrate this frailty into positive energy, with the conviction that the same Lord says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor 12:9) We hope and pray that our newly ordained will make use of their frailties to have a deep experience of the Lord's mercy, and become channels of this mercy to the ones they pastor.

Even as we contribute our Lenten alms for the diocesan Seminary, let us heed the Holy Father's urgent plea: "I ask parish communities, associations and the many prayer groups present in the Church, not to yield to discouragement, but to continue praying that the Lord will send workers to His harvest. May He give us priests enamoured of the Gospel, close to all their brothers and sisters, living signs of God's merciful love." (Pope's Message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations).

Fr Aniceto Pereira is the Rector, St Pius X College, Goregaon

07 The Pope of Holiness - Fr Thomas Rosica

posted Mar 30, 2017, 10:40 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 30, 2017, 10:40 AM ]

While remembering Pope John Paul ll on his twelfth anniversary, one can say that he was an extraordinary witness who, through his devotion, heroic efforts, long suffering and death, communicated the powerful message of the Gospel to the men and women of our day. A great part of the success of his message is due to the fact that he was surrounded by a tremendous cloud of witnesses who stood by him and strengthened him throughout his life. For John Paul II, the call to holiness excluded no one; it was not the privilege of a spiritual elite.

Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council, notes that the holiness of Christians flows from that of the Church and manifests it. It says that holiness "is expressed in many ways by the individuals who, each in his own state of life, tend to the perfection of love, thus sanctifying others." (LG 39) In this variety, "one and the same holiness is cultivated by all, who are moved by the Spirit of God…and follow the poor Christ, the humble and cross-bearing Christ in order to be worthy of being sharers in his glory." (LG 41)

When the throngs of people began chanting "Santo Subito" at the end of the Pope's funeral mass on April 8, 2005, what were they really chanting? They were crying out that in Karol Wojtyla, they saw someone who lived with God and lived with us. He was a sinner who experienced God's mercy and forgiveness. He was the prophetic teacher who preached the Word in season and out of season. He looked at us, loved us, touched us, healed us and gave us hope. He taught us not to be afraid. He showed us how to live, how to love, how to forgive and how to die. He taught us how to embrace the Cross in the most excruciating moments of life, knowing that the Cross was not God's final answer.

That a person is declared a "Saint" is not a statement about perfection. It does not mean that the person was without imperfection, blindness, deafness or sin. Canonisation means that a person lived his or her life with God, relying totally on God's infinite mercy, going forward with God's strength and power, believing in the impossible, loving one's enemies and persecutors, forgiving in the midst of evil and violence, hoping beyond all hope, and leaving the world a better place. That person lets those around him know that there is a force or spirit animating his or her life that is not of this world, but the next. Such a person lets us catch a glimpse of the greatness and holiness to which we are all called, and shows us the face of God, as we journey on our pilgrim way on earth.

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09 Death as the parable of Life - Christopher Mendonca

posted Mar 30, 2017, 10:39 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 30, 2017, 10:39 AM ]

Jesus often taught in parables.

The simplicity of a parable can often be deceptive.

The familiar metaphor that it uses can often lead us to presume

we have grasped its meaning.

Quite the contrary, since Jesus Himself tells us

that the reason He talks in parables is

“that they look without seeing,

and listen without hearing or understanding.” (Matthew 13:13)

We never fully understand a parable,

we only progressively discover its meaning.

Jesus came that we might have life,

and life in all its fullness.

It would seem strange therefore

that He invariably talks about “death”

when He wants to teach us about Life.

The daughter of Jairus was dead, and they laughed at Jesus

when He said she was not dead, but asleep. (Luke 8:53)

Jesus said Lazarus was resting,

and that He was going to wake him.

They thought that by ‘rest’, he meant ‘sleep’, till He put it plainly

Lazarus is dead. (John 11:11-13)

Jesus, in raising them both to life,

uses death to explain the parable of life.

When Jesus tells the bystanders

that Jairus’ daughter is merely asleep,

he is more than just assuaging their grief.

Jesus does not offer the hope of the Resurrection

as a consolation to Martha.

“I AM the RESURRECTION and the life.”

This is a statement made days before His actual death,

indicating that in Him,

the Resurrection is an ever present Reality.

He had healed the paralytic,

and in so doing, showed the efficacy of His word.

At the Last Supper, He will give his broken body for us

even before He has actually died.

The death and resurrection that follow

are merely an enactment in TIME

of a Reality that transcends it.

He is evidently speaking of another kind of death.

that we must experience, even as we live.

 

Life is all about being watchful, and staying awake.

This is not an invitation to a state of sleeplessness.

The inability to sleep does not translate into watchfulness.

It is perhaps a time when we are most distracted.

Sleeplessness is the illusion of being awake.

In this state, we are never our true self, never fully functional.

We might as well be dead.

Like Jairus’ daughter, we are called

to wake up from our sleep.

Lazarus is called forth from the tomb.

“Loose him; let him go.”

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11 Understanding Lent - Cl Ian Pinto, sdb

posted Mar 30, 2017, 10:38 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 30, 2017, 10:38 AM ]

Lent, I have discovered over the years, is a special time of the year. It is a critical liturgical season that helps us prepare for the great feast of Easter. My usage of the word 'critical' may surprise or upset some of you. Allow me to clarify. I don't use it here to refer to the state of our mental or physical health for the duration of the season (in fact for a majority of us, Lent isn't a period of serious prayer and rigorous fasting and penance). 'Critical' here means 'having a decisive importance'.

Lent is a 40-day period of inner preparation to commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. With this background, the importance and special nature of Advent and Lent become evident. The goal of these seasons is clear: preparation for the great feasts of the Incarnation and Resurrection. Hence, their religious observance is very critical.

Lent requires a change in attitude and mannerisms to go along with the nature of the preparation and the mood of the season. Lent is a serious season, but it isn't a morose one. The liturgy of Lent lays emphasis on fasting, prayer and repentance. The readings, again and again, and in different words, invite us to 'come back to God'. In the course of the year, we probably hardly ever give serious thought to our spiritual life. We could be so tied down by our commitments and responsibilities, that the spiritual life becomes 'a side business' which needs, or worse still, gets attention only on Sundays or feast days! Lent therefore once again becomes a critical season. It calls attention to the spiritual life and invites us to set our priorities straight. We are meant for God, and to God we must give our due, not in leftovers or in alms, but with all our heart, mind and soul. Lent brings on this truth quite emphatically. On the very first day, it hits us with the bombshell: "You are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Gen 3:19)

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13 The Apostolate of Compassion - Dr Elaine Ann Charles

posted Mar 30, 2017, 10:36 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 30, 2017, 10:36 AM ]

I have often reflected on the apostolate of kindness, caring and compassion, and the power it has to touch people's lives. More recently, I have had occasion to reflect even more deeply on the vital need of this apostolate in the kind of world we live in today, and to realise how much better and happier this world would be for it.

In any vocation that involves contact and interaction with human beings, be it teaching or medicine or social service, this apostolate is both essential and indispensable. Dealing with inanimate objects like computers, machines and electronic devices is one thing, but dealing with living, human beings is another, because human beings have feelings, emotions, needs and wants, which if not understood and met with, can result in much pain, stress and sadness.

Teachers have tremendous opportunities for the exercise of this apostolate in their contacts and dealings with their students. Kindness, understanding, caring and a spirit of compassion on the part of a teacher can make a tremendous impact on the lives of young, growing students, struggling to cope with the demand to perform and excel, the pressures of competition and the challenges that our present educational system imposes on them. Surveys undertaken indicate that teachers are remembered and loved by their students, not so much for the excellence of their teaching and their teaching strategies, as they are remembered for the kind of human beings they are or were - gentle, kind, caring, loving, encouraging, understanding and compassionate.

A student once shared, "My favourite teacher, Miss R......., was a most unforgettable character. She always treated us with kindness and made us feel cared for. She took time to know us and listen to us. She encouraged us to talk about our lives, our families, ourselves. Soon, she knew me better than my own parents did. She listened to us, and we had something to say. She never attacked, but pointed out what needed to be done, and then compassionately stood by, ready to help. With her, we learned who we were, and what we wanted to be. She touched our lives by her kindness, caring and compassion."

Another vocation that offers tremendous and unlimited opportunities for the exercise of this apostolate is the medical profession. Doctors, nurses, medical attendants and hospital staff have the power to offer solace, comfort and support, and to touch the lives of both patients and their families through their kindness, caring and compassion.

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17 India: In poverty, faith shines - Leann Burke

posted Mar 30, 2017, 10:35 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 30, 2017, 10:35 AM ]

Forty-two years after working as a missionary in central India, Fr John Boeglin of Holy Family Catholic Church returned to the country, this time as a sightseer.

"This was not a tourist trip," Boeglin said. "This was a backroads trip."

Boeglin presented a talk on his latest trip on a Sunday evening in March at Holy Family. He spoke about reuniting with Indian friends from his days at a seminary in Innsbruck, Austria, returning to the farm where he was on a mission with Fr Jerry Ziliak during seminary days, and the challenges of living without toilet paper and running water — "People just don't know what we have in this country," he said — and eating rice almost constantly, of which he is not a fan, as he toured the country. During the latest trip, he received more lessons in faithfulness from the Indian people all over the country. One of the most striking lessons, he said, was deep veneration. In India, worshippers remove their shoes outside the sanctuary, before entering, as a sign of respect. During the service, worshippers kneel on the ground; women on one side of the sanctuary, men on the other. Boeglin found himself kneeling on the floor, shoeless and smiling, as he celebrated Mass throughout the country. Each Mass was held in one of India's 17 major languages, none of which he spoke a word of.

India can trace its history farther back than the Old Testament. Hinduism, the dominant religion in India, predates Biblical religions. Judaism came to India during the time of King Solomon, and Christianity traces its Indian roots back nearly 2,000 years to the Apostle Thomas, according to Boeglin's research. Until the 1300s, Indian Christians celebrated Eastern Catholicism that spread from Antioch, Turkey and Baghdad, Iraq. Even now, the Eastern Rite dominates southern India, although Western Rite churches are becoming more common. Historically, the most obvious difference between the two rites is language. While the Western Rite adopted Latin as a universal language, the Eastern Rite began in Aramaic, but evolved to use all the vernacular languages, making it so that an Eastern Catholic couldn't always understand the Mass at a different church. There are other differences as well, Boeglin said, but that's a big one. The language barrier caused the two rites to clash, when Jesuits brought the Western Rite to India in the 1300s, because the two groups didn't recognise each other as Catholics. The conflicts, however, have been resolved over the centuries.

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19 Wanted: a Romero today - Fr Cedric Prakash sj

posted Mar 30, 2017, 10:34 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 30, 2017, 10:34 AM ]

March 24 marks yet another anniversary of the brutal assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. On that day in 1980, he was brutally gunned down whilst celebrating Holy Mass in San Salvador. He was an outspoken critic of his Government, the military and of the other right-wing elements of his country, for their continued oppression and exploitation of the poor. There has never been any doubt about who was responsible for his death.

As a young priest and as a Bishop, Romero was well known for his conservative thinking and for wanting to maintain the 'status quo'. He was afraid to rock the boat, and never wanted to be on the wrong side of the powerful and vested interest groups of El Salvador. He had a long-standing friendship with Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande. The poor and exploited of the country were Grande's major concern. He left no stone unturned to highlight their plight and make their struggles his own. Unlike Romero, Grande did not hesitate to take up cudgels against the powerful.

Grande was killed on March 12, 1977. Romero was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador, just three weeks before Grande was murdered. Grande's death came as a great shock to Romero. At Grande's funeral Mass, Romero said in his homily, "The government should not consider a priest who takes a stand for social justice as a politician or a subversive element, when he is fulfilling his mission in the politics of the common good." He also said plainly, "Any one who attacks one of my priests, attacks me. If they killed Rutilio for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path." The death of his friend was also a turning point in the life of Romero. From that day onwards, he wholeheartedly worked for the rights of the poor, until his own murder.

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