Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 20 - May 20 - May 26, 2017

01 Cover

posted May 18, 2017, 8:14 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 10:52 PM ]


03 Index

posted May 18, 2017, 8:13 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 8:13 AM ]


04 Official

posted May 18, 2017, 8:12 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 11:00 PM ]


05 Engagements

posted May 18, 2017, 8:09 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 8:12 AM ]


07 Editorial - Cardinal celebrates Eucharist at Karjat Shrine to mark Fatima Centennial

posted May 18, 2017, 8:08 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 10:53 PM ]

The Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, presided at the Eucharist of the Centenary Celebrations of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, to celebrate the canonisation of two of the shepherd children - Jacinta and Francisco (the youngest, non-martyred canonised saints of the Catholic Church) at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima at Karjat (in the archdiocese of Bombay), where more than 3,000 Catholics converged.

The Centenary Celebrations on May 13, 2017 - a day dedicated to praying for Peace - began with pilgrims praying the Rosary and the 'unfurling of the flag', as a symbol of raising our petitions to the Lord in prayer. A hymn sung as the flag was unfurled gave the message and purpose to all devotees for coming from distant places to this remote area at Karjat.

During the Eucharist, the Archbishop of Bombay blessed the new altar of the Shrine. Cardinal Oswald Gracias also renewed the Act of Consecration of the Archdiocese of Bombay to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. "Let us live the message of Fatima. Pray for peace and make sacrifices emphasising the power of prayer," the Cardinal urged the faithful.

In his homily, Cardinal Gracias said: "At Fatima, the Blessed Virgin spoke of the World War. Wars continue today, in different forms and dangers, turmoil, upheaval and violence all over the world. Wars are also in our personal lives, in the struggle between good and evil. For this, it is important to pray, pray for peace."

According to Cardinal Gracias, "in families there is a growing need to pray." Therefore, he invited all to "pray the Rosary in families, praying for peace in our homes, in family relations and in the world."

The Centenary Celebrations included the celebration of the canonisation of the two visionaries, Francisco and Jacinta, the first holy children who were not martyrs. The relics of Francisco and Jacinta (brought officially to the Fatima Shrine, Karjat two months ago from Portugal) were incensed by Cardinal Oswald Gracias at the conclusion of the Eucharist, and the relics were solemnly exposed for veneration.

"This shrine is envisioned as a place for 'peace' and a house of prayer, which is the need of the hour," Fr Fernandes said. "The devotees [of Mary] are encouraged to spend time to relax from their busy state of life." The priest said Our Lady of Fatima is so popular because her message "is so simple, but loaded with tremendous power. Her message was a call to achieve peace through mercy. Mother Mary was attributed an additional title in the Loreto litany 'Mary, Queen of Peace,' just seven days prior to her apparition at Fatima. Mother Mary has shown that peace in the world can be attained only through acts of mercy."

"The distinguishing characteristic of a shrine is that it is a place of pilgrimage," Fr Fernandes said. "A number of people come to Fatima Church as pilgrims, and today the Shrine of our Lady of Fatima is one of the more famous shrines, and is sometimes referred to as the Fatima of the East," the Rector explained.

"It is a great joy that our local people embraced this centenary. The shrine of Fatima at Karjat is placed in the midst of a non-Christian locality. Importantly, non-Christians have welcomed this devotion, and this devotion has fostered interfaith relations," said Fr Calistus.

(A report on the Eucharistic Celebration at Fatima Shrine, Karjat by Nirmala Carvalho)

08 Church’s youngest non-martyred saints

posted May 18, 2017, 8:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 8:07 AM ]

Pope Francis incensed a statue of Our Lady of Fatima during the canonisation Mass of Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the three Fatima seers, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, May 13. The Mass marked the 100th anniversary of the Fatima Marian apparitions, which began on May 13, 1917.

Standing before the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Pope Francis canonised two shepherd children who saw Mary at Fatima, but more importantly, he said, they heeded the call to pray for sinners and trust in the Lord.

"We declare and define Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto as saints," the Pope said May 13, as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims broke out in applause, before he finished speaking.

The relics of the young shepherd children, encased in two thin golden crosses, were placed in front of the famed statue of Our Lady of Fatima, the "lady dressed in white" as the siblings and their cousin described her.

The Marian apparitions began May 13, 1917, when 9-year-old Francisco and 7-year-old Jacinta, along with their 10-year-old cousin Lucia dos Santos, reported seeing the Virgin Mary. The apparitions continued once a month until October 13, 1917, and were later declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

After contracting influenza, Francisco died April 4, 1919, at the age of 10, while Jacinta succumbed to her illness on February 20, 1920, at the age of 9.

The children, beatified by St John Paul II in 2000, are now the youngest non-martyrs to be declared saints by the Catholic Church.

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09 The Fatima Shrine, Karjat, Mumbai

posted May 18, 2017, 8:05 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 8:05 AM ]

Asia's first shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima held special celebrations on May 13, 2017 to mark the centenary of the apparitions of Mary which took place in 1917 in the Portuguese town, with an emphasis on prayers for peace.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay celebrated Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Karjat, Mumbai on May 13. The Archbishop blessed a new altar extension of the shrine.

"The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima at Karjat was built in the year 1935, and houses the statue of Our Lady of Fatima brought from Portugal in the year 1920, years before the approval [of the Fatima apparitions] in 1930 by the Holy See," said Fr Calistus Fernandes, the Rector of the Shrine. "It stands as Asia's first Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima."

Cardinal Gracias is studying a proposal to give the shrine a more official status, naming it the 'Archdiocesan Shrine of Fatima', which is expected to be a place of pilgrimage and prayer, that people seeking solace and contemplation of the mysteries of our Lord, through the eyes of Mary, may have recourse.

Fr Calistus Fernandes recalls the great faith of the devotees who gathered in prayer in front of the statue of Our Lady. Many of them, he adds, "had tears of great emotion, as they prayed and invoked Mary's intercession," adding that the centenary celebrations are only the beginning of a new push to spread the message of Our Lady of Fatima.

The priest said, "Our Lady of Fatima is so popular because her message "is so simple, but loaded with tremendous power. Her message was a call to achieve peace through mercy."

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11 Mary, a sign and a sacrament of God's mercy

posted May 18, 2017, 8:01 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 8:04 AM ]

"My each of us become, with Mary, a sign and a sacrament of the mercy of God who always forgives, forgives everything", said Pope Francis at the end of the greeting he addressed to the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in Fatima, to mark the centenary of the apparitions.

After a moment of silent prayer and meditation, the pontiff blessed the candles, and turned to light his own from the Paschal Candle. And while the candles were lit up among all those present, he expressed some thoughts marked by the urgency of the mission through a "revolutionary force of tenderness and affection."

He said that he (the Pope) carries "everyone in my heart. I feel that Jesus entrusted you to me, and I embrace you all, and entrusted you to Jesus, "especially those most in need" - as Our Lady taught us to pray (Apparition of July 1917).

He continued, "May she, the loving and solicitous Mother of the needy, obtain for them the Lord's blessing! On each of the destitute and outcast robbed of the present, on each of the excluded and abandoned denied a future, on each of the orphans and victims of injustice refused a past, may there descend the blessing of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ."

He then recalled a phrase of Pope Paul VI: "If we want to be Christian, we must be Marian; in a word, we have to acknowledge the essential, vital and providential relationship uniting Our Lady to Jesus, a relationship that opens before us the way leading to Him."

The Pope suggested how to make Marian devotion true. "Pilgrims with Mary… But which Mary? A teacher of the spiritual life, the first to follow Jesus on the "narrow way" of the Cross by giving us an example, or a Lady "unapproachable" and impossible to imitate? A woman "blessed because she believed" always and everywhere in God's words (cf. Lk 1:42.45), or a "plaster statue" from whom we beg favours at little cost? The Virgin Mary of the Gospel, venerated by the Church at prayer, or a Mary of our own making: one who restrains the arm of a vengeful God; one sweeter than Jesus, the ruthless judge; one more merciful than the Lamb slain for us? Great injustice is done to God's grace whenever we say that sins are punished by His judgment, without first saying – as the Gospel clearly does – that they are forgiven by His mercy! Mercy has to be put before judgment, and in any case, God's judgment will always be rendered in the light of His mercy."

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12 Statement of the Indian Women Theologians’ Forum (IWTF)

posted May 18, 2017, 7:59 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 7:59 AM ]

We, the members of Indian Women Theologians Forum met for our annual meeting from April 21-24, 2017 at De Nobili College, Pune, to deliberate on the theme: 'The Politics of the Reign/"Kin-dom" of God in the Indian Context: A Feminist Theological Search'. We based our reflections on the notion of "Kin-dom" popularised by mujerista theologian Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, as it reminds us that we are all kin to each other in the family of God. Understanding the 'Reign of God' as "Kin-dom" has special significance in the Indian context, as it serves to challenge the hierarchical implications of domination and power associated with the term 'kingdom', which is an expression with patriarchal overtones.

Enacting the foot-washing ritual Jesus instituted as the example of service and subversion of existing hierarchies was a spiritual experience of bonding, reconciliation and an invitation to constant transformation. Conducted at the start of our meeting, this ritual offered us an occasion also to connect to the community of some of the tribes in North-East India, for whom foot-washing is a gesture of purification and connectedness. It was an exercise that motivated us to assert that we are Church and to commit ourselves to the Kin-dom of God that welcomes, with humility and loving care, the least and the last.

Our sharing on the lived experiences of the 'Kin-dom' of God in our personal lives brought out the different facets of the Reign of God in the context of India. It was an invitation to engage consciously in the politics of inclusion against the backdrop of the practices of exclusion, as exercised by the mainstream systems of power, including that of religions.

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14 Rosary Time - Albert C deSouza

posted May 18, 2017, 7:58 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 8:00 AM ]

It is the month of May, and the evenings are dedicated to saying the Rosary, a form of devotion respecting The Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother and protector of all her children, members of the Church established by her Divine Son Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind. The practice has been going on since time immemorial. Earliest recollections are during my childhood, when the family prayed together at home before the evening meal. This was the preferred time, as after meals, one tended to fall asleep. Our elders were wise. I was a lad of twelve coming to Goa for the first time after escaping from Rangoon, the capital city of Burma, as it was known then. I found it strange to find the worshippers at home divided into two groups - one who said the responses in Konkani, and the other being the younger generation of children responding in English. As children, the Rosary tended to be a trifle boring, since explanations of what it was all about was not the order of the day.

The recitation of the Litany was even more difficult to comprehend, as it was said in Latin! It was literally 'Latin and Greek' to us. Ora pro nobis was mouthed mechanically. More interesting were 'litanies' in the neighbourhood where boiled gram and sweets were distributed. Who would want to miss out on the doce, bebinca, peenag, dodol etc.? As for the elderly males, they were all pouring out stiff libations of feni for themselves. Some hands were trembling, I noted, but not a drop of the precious liquid was ever spilt. Some might have even come to the Litany pre-charged, especially the musicians who played their violins rather aggressively. Those were the days whose images are seared into my memory. In Belgaum, where I was a student in school and college (in the late 40s), every evening in May was dedicated to our Lady with singing of the hymn 'Let us mingle together' and other popular hymns. The service was held in the church of St Anthony, if I remember. However, the service was quite long, taking an hour at least, with a sermon, singing of the Litany and Benediction. Sometimes, the heavens opened (literally showers of blessings) and it rained profusely, cooling the place like a hill station. Electric fans were unknown. These are memories that do not fade.

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