Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 21 - May 27 - June 02, 2017

01 Cover

posted May 24, 2017, 4:29 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 25, 2017, 9:56 PM ]


03 Index

posted May 24, 2017, 4:29 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 24, 2017, 4:29 AM ]


04 Official

posted May 24, 2017, 4:28 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 25, 2017, 10:55 PM ]


05 Engagements

posted May 24, 2017, 4:27 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 24, 2017, 4:27 AM ]


07 Editorial - Ascension Intimacy - Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted May 24, 2017, 4:21 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 24, 2017, 4:21 AM ]

The event of the Ascension in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles states a cloud took Jesus from the sight of the disciples. In Luke's gospel, the narrative of the Ascension tells us that the disciples went back to Jerusalem, filled with joy. So what is so joyful about the disappearance of Jesus? It is the celebration of the Intimacy of the Ascension!

One might have thought that absence should be a cause for sorrow. Having completed His work on earth, He is going home, back to the Father. But the Father has never been absent. God's home is everywhere. Jesus did not make a journey back to God, as if to some other planet in the firmament. Perhaps it would be better to think of the disappearance of Jesus as part of our homecoming.

The disciples had been at home with Jesus. They had shared His company, supped with Him, walked with Him to Jerusalem, and witnessed His death and Resurrection. He had been their companion, the centre of the community. But Jesus must disappear, if they are to be not just with Him, but to be at home in Him.

With the Ascension and Pentecost, Jesus is transformed from being someone with whom the disciples are at home. Instead, He becomes their home. They used to be with His body. Now they are becoming His body, as we are the Body of Christ. They have to lose Him, paradoxically, if they are to discover this new intimacy of the Ascension.

Actually, the story of salvation has been of God's slow disappearance. At the beginning, God walks in 'the cool of the day' in the garden. But after the fall, God comes to Abraham and Sarah in fire and smoke in the night, and then as three mysterious strangers needing food. He wrestles with Jacob. By the time we get to Moses, we have only a voice from a burning bush. Then with the establishment of the Kingdom of David, God is seen no more.

He speaks through the voices of the prophets. Finally, he appears in an ordinary man who dies on a cross and shouts out, "O God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" In His Ascension, He disappears altogether, slowly disappearing from our sight.

But this is so that we may become more intimate. We do not look 'at' God, so much as 'with' God. Most of us will have to live through moments, in which traditional and oppressive images of God as the celestial policeman, the accuser of sins, the eternal parking attendant waiting to catch us, have to fade and disappear.

It can be very frightening and painful to be called upon to persist in faith, in the protection and the glorious victory of a meek and compassionate God. As we grow older, we may lose some of our sentimental notions of God as a comforting presence, or Jesus as our friend. We may feel tempted to tumble out of belief, and feel despondent that the world has no meaning. But we will have to wait until God gives Himself more intimately than we could have guessed.

Like the disciples, we must rejoice at the disappearance of our wrong images of Jesus. St Augustine famously said that "God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. For behold, you were within me, and I was outside; and I sought you outside. You were with me, and I was not with you."

Ascension is all part of our coming home to God, or God's making His home in us. To fully celebrate the mystery of the Ascension, we need to let go some of the oppressive images of God that we have, so that we may discover Him in the intimacy of His glorious Risen Body at the very heart of our existence.

08 Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time - Pope Francis

posted May 24, 2017, 4:20 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 24, 2017, 4:20 AM ]

Pope's Message for 51st World Communications Day - May 28, 2017

I wish to address this message to all those who, whether in their professional work or personal relationships, are like that mill, daily "grinding out" information with the aim of providing rich fare for those with whom they communicate. I would like to encourage everyone to engage in constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice towards others and foster a culture of encounter, helping all of us to view the world around us with realism and trust.

I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear, resulting from a constant focus on "bad news" (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure). This has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering, nor is it about a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil. Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can, at times, generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits. Moreover, in a communications industry which thinks that good news does not sell, and where the tragedy of human suffering and the mystery of evil easily turn into entertainment, there is always the temptation that our consciences can be dulled or slip into pessimism.

I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamourise evil, but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart "good news".

Good news

Life is not simply a bare succession of events, but a history, a story waiting to be told through the choice of an interpretative lens that can select and gather the most relevant data. In and of itself, reality has no one clear meaning. Everything depends on the way we look at things, on the lens we use to view them. If we change that lens, reality itself appears different. So how can we begin to "read" reality through the right lens?

For us Christians, that lens can only be the good news, beginning with the Good News par excellence: "the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God." (Mk 1:1) With these words, St Mark opens his Gospel, not by relating "good news" about Jesus, but rather the good news that is Jesus Himself. Indeed, reading the pages of his Gospel, we learn that its title corresponds to its content, and above all else, this content is the very person of Jesus.

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09 The Ascension Message - Fr Anthony Kadavil

posted May 24, 2017, 4:19 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 24, 2017, 4:19 AM ]

"Preach the Good News and be my witnesses"

Matthew, Mark and Acts record Jesus' last words differently: 1) "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8) 2) "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." (Matthew 28:19) 3) "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15) All are in agreement that (a) Jesus gave His disciples a mission of bearing witness to Him by preaching and living the Good News. They are to tell and re-tell the story of Jesus' life, suffering, death and resurrection. (b) He assured them of the divine assistance of His Holy Spirit in the carrying out of this mission.

Christmas and Ascension

The Ascension is most closely related, in meaning, to Christmas. In Jesus, the human and the divine become united in the person and life of one man. That's Christmas. At the Ascension, this human being – the person and the resurrected body of Jesus – became for all eternity a part of who God is. It was not the spirit of Jesus or the divine nature of Jesus that ascended to the Father. It was the resurrected body of Jesus: a body that the disciples had touched, a body that had eaten and drunk with them, a real, physical, but gloriously restored body, bearing the marks of nails and a spear. This is what ascended. This is what, now and forever, is a living, participating part of God. The Ascension, along with the Incarnation, is here to tell us that it is a good thing to be a human being; indeed it is a wonderful and an important and a holy thing to be a human being. It is such an important thing that God did it. Even more, the fullness of God now includes what it means to be a human being.


We need to be proclaimers and evangelisers

In today's gospel, Jesus gives His mission to all the believers: "Go out to the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." This mission is not given to a select few, but to all believers. To be a Christian is to be a proclaimer and an evangeliser. There is a difference between preaching and proclaiming. "We preach with words, but we proclaim with our lives." As we celebrate the Lord's return to His Father in heaven — His Ascension — we are being commissioned to go forth and proclaim the Gospel of life and love, of hope and peace, by the witness of our lives. On this day of hope, encouragement and commissioning, let us renew our commitment to be true disciples everywhere we go, beginning with our family and our parish, "living in a manner worthy of the call [we] have received."

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11 Pope: Awaken the World with a Smile

posted May 24, 2017, 4:17 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 24, 2017, 4:17 AM ]

"Awaken the world, illuminate the future! Always with a smile, with joy, with hope."

Pope Francis gave this encouragement when receiving in audience the participants in the General Chapter of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master at around noon on May 22, 2017, in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

In his address, he expressed his hope that the General Chapter bear abundant evangelical fruits in the life of their institute, "fruits, first of all, of communion."


Bear Abundant Evangelical Fruits

"Open to the Holy Spirit, Master of diversity. Master of unity in difference, you walk in communion together that respects plurality, that leads you to tirelessly weave unity in legitimate differences, taking account also of the fact that you are present in different countries and cultures."

"Cultivating care and reciprocal acceptance; practicing fraternal correction and respect for the weaker sisters; growing in the spirit of living together; banishing from the community all divisions, envy, gossip; saying this with frankness and charity. Yes, and you can live like this. All the other things I mentioned before destroy the Congregation."

He also encouraged them to join "fruits of communion with the brothers and sisters of the Pauline Family" and "fruits of communion" with other charisms.

Pope Francis invited them to cultivate dialogue and communion with other charisms, and to combat any form of self-centeredness.

"It is ugly when a consecrated man or woman is self-centered, always looking at him or herself in the mirror."

Apostolate of the Ear

Pope Francis also encouraged them to bear fruits of communion with the men and women of our time. "Listen to the sisters. I think one of the most important apostolates of today is the apostolate of the ear: listen."

"Never tire of exercising continually the art of listening and sharing."

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13 Mary, Our Universal Mother - Sr Dorothy Adaha Kayina Fsp

posted May 24, 2017, 4:15 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 24, 2017, 4:16 AM ]

"From generation to generation, all will call me Blessed!” (Lk 1: 48) – how prophetic the words of Mary are! People’s love for Mary is evident in the volumes of the pilgrims flocking to the different Marian centres across the world. The months of May and October are especially dedicated to devotion to Mary. It does not mean that she is given less importance during the rest of the year. For there is no season anymore, but only reason for her devotees to show their gratitude in return. This testifies that the Mother in heaven continues to unite all her children on earth. These children in return come to her with their affection for her.

In a multi-religious country, where Christians account for only about 2.3% of the population, and out of which 1.55% are Catholics, Mary is being venerated by thousands of people belonging to other faith traditions as well. In India, mother goddesses have been venerated from time immemorial by the Hindu brethren. This tradition has enabled them to accept Mary as one of their goddesses who fulfils their aspiration and answers their prayers. “Mother Mary is our Mata in heaven, who intercedes for us whenever we call out for her help. I attribute to Mary all that I have become today,” says Ms Lalita (35), a Hindu IT professional, who has never missed the weekly Marian Novena in her parish church since childhood. Devotees who seek her maternal assistance ask not only for earthly favours such as finding a spouse, conceiving a child, for a cure, etc., as they would with any Hindu deity, but they also plead for spiritual benefits. This is just an example from thousands of stories.

The Basilica of our Lady of Health, Vailankanni in South India, which is listed among the most popular shrines of the world, continues to welcome a multitude of pilgrims from various faiths throughout the year. There are many other shrines which are dedicated to Mary. Devotees flock to these shrines, because of their personal attachment to her, and which gradually have become significant to them.

Mary’s motherly concern makes her enter the culture and problems of society even today, for she is the “sign of certain hope and consolation for God’s pilgrim people.” (Lumen Gentium, no. 68) She makes herself known even to the most ordinary and illiterate. She feels for the people in suffering, irrespective of their religion, and offers them her succour.

The revelation of Dhori Mata, also known as the Statue of Love, reveals Mary’s love for the poor. Little did anyone know how significant June 12, 1956 would become in the life of the coal miners and the people in the coal belt of Bokaro Thermal, Jharkhand.

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14 Pope's off-the-cuff remarks on backstabbing Christians

posted May 24, 2017, 4:14 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 24, 2017, 4:14 AM ]

The sin committed most frequently in Christian parishes and groups is bad-mouthing and backstabbing each other, which not only divides the community, it drives away people who come seeking God, Pope Francis said.

"Truly, this pains me to the core. It's as if we were throwing stones among ourselves, one against the other. And the devil enjoys it; it's a carnival for the devil," he told parishioners in his homily during an evening Mass at a parish on the outskirts of Rome, May 21.

Pope Francis told parishioners at the church of San Pier Damiani how important their use of language was. As baptised members of the Church, every Christian has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, he said.

People must continue to pray for, and safeguard that gift, which includes using a "special language," not Latin, he said, but something else. "It is a language of tenderness and respect" that is also mirrored in one's behaviour.

"It is so awful to see these people who call themselves Christians, but they are filled with bitterness" or anger, he said in a homily that was off-the-cuff.

The devil knows how to weaken people's efforts to serve God and safeguard the Holy Spirit's presence inside them. "He will do everything so our language is not tender and not respectful," the Pope said.

"A Christian community that does not safeguard the Holy Spirit with tenderness and with respect" is like the serpent with the long tongue, who is depicted in statues as being crushed under Mary's foot.

Pope Francis said a priest once told him about some people in a parish whose tongues were so long from wagging gossip, that "they could take Communion from the front door; they could reach the altar with the tongue they have."

"This is the enemy that destroys our communities - chatter," he said, adding it was also "the most common sin in our Christian communities."

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