Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 18 - May 06 - May 12, 2017

01 Cover

posted May 4, 2017, 11:57 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 4, 2017, 11:57 AM ]

03 Index

posted May 4, 2017, 11:55 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 4, 2017, 11:58 AM ]

04 Official

posted May 4, 2017, 11:53 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 4, 2017, 11:54 AM ]

05 Engagements

posted May 4, 2017, 11:52 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 4, 2017, 11:52 AM ]

07 Editorial - Centennial Message of Fatima Apparitions

posted May 4, 2017, 11:48 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 4, 2017, 11:48 AM ]

The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady to the three shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal, where the Blessed Mother appeared once each month from May 13 until October 13, 1917. The message of Fatima highlights many central truths and devotions of the Catholic faith: the Trinity, the Eucharist, penance, the Rosary and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. There is special emphasis on the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is a refuge of maternal love for us all, and a sure path that leads us to God. In the end, Mary's Immaculate Heart will triumph, because Mary is full of God's grace and is all pure. She has the heart of a mother who cares for her children, and wishes them to be saved by her divine Son, Jesus.

Although 2017 marks the centenary year, the Fatima apparitions began with the three apparitions of the Angel of Peace (also called the Angel of Portugal) in 1916, and extended beyond 1917, with subsequent apparitions given to Sr Lucia dos Santos in Pontevedra, Spain (1925-1927) and Tuy, Spain (1929).

May 13 was the day of the first Fatima apparition of 1917, and May 13, 1981, was the day when St John Paul II survived an attempt on his life in St Peter's Square. John Paul II credited his survival to the intervention of Our Lady of Fatima. The assassin's bullet that narrowly missed killing the Pope is now inserted in a crown of Our Lady housed at the Fatima shrine.

It is estimated that some 4-5 million people visit Fatima each year, and more are expected for the centennial year, including a visit by Pope Francis, who plans to travel to Portugal to celebrate the 100-year anniversary. The apparitions of Fatima are a significant event of the Catholic Church, not only because of their importance for many persons and their wide spreading throughout the world, but also because of their close bond with the Gospel message, the intensity with which the apparitions mark the experience of faith of many Catholics, and the prophetic extent of its calls. The Church confirmed that these apparitions are a credible and valid proposal for the fulfilment of a Christian life.

Indeed, the message of Fatima is eloquent to believers of all time. It does not remain caught in a time wrap; it projects instead dynamism in our present, and opens horizons of faith for the future of human history. As Fatima events are a call for humanity of our time, the centennial celebration also wants to become an instrument of this up-to-date call. Therefore, it's not just a historic date we shall mark, which relegated it to a time of the past.

The pilgrimage of Pope Benedict XVI at Cova da Iria in May 2010, following the pilgrimages of his predecessors, shows us in a way, that in the message of Fatima, there is a set of elements that can develop the message into a vehicle of evangelisation, a path to conversion and to Jesus Christ. In this sense, this celebration should contribute to deepen and update this message; it should provide a contribution to the renewal and strengthening of faith, and it should be a help to spiritual growth of the people of God.

Therefore, the celebration of this centennial is, first of all and above all, a pastoral project that focuses on the spiritual nature and reflection of faith. The aspects of cultural or social context are also present in these commemorations, but always in the perspective of mission: they are a privileged way to reach those who are emotionally away from the Church, they are an expression of the faith that is celebrated, and they are the Christian accomplishment of human realities.

(Extracts from the article of Dr Robert Fastiggi, OSV Newsweekly)

08 Fatima and Healings - Dr Judith Marie Gentle

posted May 4, 2017, 11:46 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 4, 2017, 11:47 AM ]

People who know I've been to Fatima always ask me if I saw a lot of persons get miraculously healed while I was there. While Fatima certainly can be a place where people receive physical healings, the primary healing that goes on at Fatima is spiritual healing. By this, I mean that Fatima is a place where many are given the grace of a deeper conversion of heart. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is tangibly present and active in Fatima. One can sense this. She is providing her children with the grace to be brought into deeper union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, her divine Son.

The significance of Fatima for our times is clearly the resounding truth contained in both the messages Our Lady herself gave at Fatima and the messages the Angel of Portugal gave to the children in preparation for their encounter with Our Lady. Both sets of messages are all about how we, living in a world that often seems very dark and distant from God because of the choices we are making that are contrary to God's will, can move from darkness to light, and from war to peace.

On the other hand, Our Lady of Fatima's answer to us today is the same as it was in 1917. The way to victory is the way of prayer, fasting and penance—in short, leading lives of repentance and conversion from sin. All of the miracles and secrets of Fatima given to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco underscore the reality of sin in our world, and the havoc it is wreaking on us, both individually and corporately, as families and as nations.

At the shrine of Fatima, you experience people undergoing the conversion Our Lady is calling for all around you, in a very quiet but very solid kind of way. Even amidst all the vendors who are selling statues, rosaries and other kinds of memorabilia, there remains a prayerful atmosphere. Masses are offered all day long, in either the outdoor chapel of the apparitions or the sanctuary church itself. There is also a chapel where confessions are constantly heard in various languages. And one of the most sacred places is the chapel of perpetual Eucharistic adoration, placed in Fatima at Pope John Paul II's request. It is administered by consecrated religious women who adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in hourly shifts, with plenty of room for pilgrims to come and adore also, from early in the morning until late at night.


09 Role of Egypt to curb violence

posted May 4, 2017, 11:45 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 4, 2017, 11:45 AM ]

On his arrival in Cairo, at the north African capital of Egypt, April 28-29, Pope Francis addressing government, social and religious leaders of the country said, "Egypt has a unique role to play in the Middle East and among those countries seeking solutions to pressing and complex problems that need to be faced now in order to avoid the spread of violence."

The Pope encouraged the officials to "draw on the Egyptian genius" to cultivate peace. "I am speaking of the blind and brutal violence caused by different factors," he said, listing "sheer desire for power, the arms trade, grave social problems and that religious extremism which uses the Holy Name of God to carry out unprecedented atrocities and injustices."

"Egypt thus has a singular task, namely, to strengthen and consolidate regional peace, even as it is assaulted on its own soil by senseless acts of violence." Such acts of violence, he lamented, have caused unjust suffering to so many families, including many present, who mourn their sons and daughters.

The Holy Father also remembered all those individuals who, in recent years, have given their lives to protect your country, including young people, members of armed forces and police, Coptic citizens and all the "nameless victims" of various forms of terrorist extremism.

He said he was happy to be in Egypt, a land of ancient and noble civilisation. Their majestic splendour appears to withstand the passing of time. This land is significant for the history of humanity and for the Church's tradition, not only because of its prestigious past–that of Pharaohs, Copts and Muslims–but also because so many of the Patriarchs lived in Egypt, or passed through it. Indeed, Egypt is often mentioned in the sacred Scriptures. In this land, God spoke and "revealed His name to Moses", and on Mount Sinai, He entrusted to His people and to all humanity the divine Commandments. On Egyptian soil, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph found refuge and hospitality.


11 Here comes my old friend - Dom Desa

posted May 4, 2017, 11:44 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 4, 2017, 11:44 AM ]

Sickness - suffering - death; they are old friends.

Few among us have the gift to regard sickness, suffering, death or other such calamities as friends. Most often, when these things occur in our lives, or in the lives of our loved ones, the question most likely to pop up is: WHY? Why did this have to happen? It's not fair. He/she is so young; the family has already had a hard time; how are they going to meet this additional burden? And we are justified in feeling as we do. Even Martha and Mary felt likewise. "Lord," they exclaimed, "if you had been here, our brother would not have died."

In Matthew 26:50, Jesus refers to Judas - who came leading a horde of solders into the garden of Gethsemane - as 'friend'. That seems a 'funny' reference to someone who was about to betray Him. In fact, when Jesus first called Judas to be His disciple, He understood exactly what he was. And when He entrusted him with the money, He knew he was a traitor. Why, then, did Jesus call him?

Because, as Bob Gass - a protestant pastor and teacher - puts it, "the purposes of God in your life require certain relationships." And, he goes on to point out that we only learn perseverance through problems, and forgiveness through betrayal.

A 'friend' may cause pain…

Coming back to the question - why did Jesus call Judas 'friend'? Because, according to Gass, "… from God's perspective, those who shield you from life do you no favours, whereas, those who cause enough pain to make you turn to Him (God) help you towards your destiny."

In contrast, we have that incident in scripture in which Peter – when Jesus spoke of his imminent death – vociferously exclaimed that he would never allow that to happen. And Jesus replied: "Get thee behind me, Satan!" Harsh words for his true friend. But then, Peter was among the first disciples to run away, and he even denied knowing Jesus!


13 Philippine Duchesne: Frontier 'Saint of Failure' - Sr Mudita Menona Sodder RSCJ

posted May 4, 2017, 11:42 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 4, 2017, 11:43 AM ]

Reality Check - a dream come true! I am at the penultimate phase of my ten-month sabbatical in America. I came to Sophia College in 1979 as a young lay college lecturer, even before my MA results were out. In 1981, I joined the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (RSCJ) as a novice in Haregaon, Ahmednagar District, Maharashtra. The Foundress of this French congregation was St Madeleine Sophie Barat, a very saintly person! However, I fell in love with Blessed Philippine Duchesne, whom I called 'the Saint of Failure' and with whom I could easily connect, because of her human frailties. I was always stirred by an imperious desire and dream of coming to Missouri, USA someday, to witness her work and experience in my body her vibrations there. Thanks to the generosity of my brother who sponsored this trip and the largesse of my congregation, I am presently in Missouri, the land of the courageous and pioneering Philippine - for ten days (April 21 to 30, 2017).

Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769-1852) was beatified in 1940 by Pope Pius XII and canonised in 1988 by St Pope John Paul II. In 1818, at the age of 49, she journeyed to the new world on a small sailing ship, "The Rebecca", from France with four sister companions. They reached New Orleans on May 29, 1818, where Philippine kissed the muddy soil in a transport of ecstatic joy. The Ursuline sisters of New Orleans welcomed them. Bishop Dubourg of the vast diocese of the Louisiana Purchase Territory had invited them. There were 100,000 Native Americans of fifty different tribes in this diocese. After a few days, Philippine started with her party up the Mississippi to St Louis, and then across the Missouri to St Charles, then a mere hamlet in Missouri, where they opened a boarding school and a day school in a cramped log house. This was the first free school west of the Mississippi, and the first school for girls in the entire region. In 1819, they moved the school to Florissant, where a small convent school had been built to house Philippine and her companions.

With unrelenting hard work under frontier conditions, and unable to master the English language, Philippine soon found herself responsible for five struggling convents: St Charles, St Louis and Florissant in Missouri, Grand Coteau and St Michael's in Louisiana. Strong willed, impetuous and generously affectionate, moulded by the patient and saintly wisdom of Madeleine Sophie for twelve long years, the rugged and ardent Philippine battled within, adapting to the new culture of America, but maintaining unity within the rapidly spreading congregation, always keeping its spirit intact. All this was possible because in the depths of her heart, she heard Jesus telling her, "You are destined to please me, not so much by success, as by failure." Responding wholeheartedly to this, nothing stopped her, nothing discouraged her, and nothing slowed her down. She said, "We can do almost anything for God, if we refuse to be discouraged and are willing to pay the price; the price is something called holiness."


15 Insecurity Within - Shekhar Gupta

posted May 4, 2017, 11:41 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 4, 2017, 11:41 AM ]

DA's internal security balance sheet is now poorer than 'spineless' UPA's. It could break PM Modi's momentum, despite skilled messaging.

So how exactly did the Indian state respond to internal security setbacks when there was no Twitter? Almost exactly as it does now, when there is Twitter.

The NDA playbook is in fact quite similar to the UPA's. Except now, it begins with the launch of some familiar verbal missiles: "Cowardly", "treacherous", "anti-national" and of course that weapon of mass destruction for all evil that Dr Manmohan Singh had made notorious - "dastardly". After the tweeted outrage come high-level meetings, promises that soldiers' sacrifices won't go in vain, and if it is too embarrassing a setback, like recently in Bastar, attending the funerals. Inevitably then, in the next 48 hours, if not earlier, something else will become the stink of the day, and this will be forgotten. As Bastar was, after Kupwara. Which was put in the shade within hours by Vinod Khanna's demise.

One surgical strike (post-Uri) apart, this government's responses are essentially similar to that of UPA's, which the BJP leaders lambasted so brutally. Smriti Irani's taunt of sending bangles (odd metaphor for a proud, independent and powerful woman, one must add) has been dug out by her critics. Narendra Modi himself landed up right next to the Oberoi Hotel, while the NSG was still fighting terrorists there during 26/11, unusual for the chief minister of an adjoining state. Manmohan Singh, Shivraj Patil and Sushil Kumar Shinde were all objects of derision.

There was an entire series of missteps and stupidities that convinced popular opinion that the UPA was weak on internal security, and its leadership worse than spineless. With both domestic jihadis and Maoists, they were seen to be complicit. On Muslim groups, the Congress party's two-facedness after the Batla House encounter in Delhi (where known Indian Mujahideen terrorists and a police inspector were killed) confirmed fears that the party was playing vote bank politics. This was particularly bad, as the party prevaricated after awarding the highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashok Chakra, to the inspector posthumously. On Maoists, two things confirmed the same impression. First, the political vetoing of P Chidambaram's drive against the Maoists which ultimately saw two politburo members being killed and some arrested. And second, the co-opting of Dr Binayak Sen, convicted on sedition charges (and then given a reprieve), on an important committee of the Planning Commission. Much post-2014 analysis of the BJP landslide has focused on UPA-2's economic policy paralysis. But an impression of pusillanimity on internal security challenges also turned disillusionment into a catastrophic anti-incumbency.


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