Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 26 - July 01- July 07, 2017

01 Cover

posted Jun 28, 2017, 9:30 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 28, 2017, 9:30 AM ]

03 Index

posted Jun 28, 2017, 9:28 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 28, 2017, 9:29 AM ]

04 Official

posted Jun 28, 2017, 9:27 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 29, 2017, 11:39 PM ]

05 Engagements

posted Jun 28, 2017, 9:26 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 28, 2017, 9:26 AM ]

07 Importance of Child Catechesis

posted Jun 28, 2017, 9:23 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 28, 2017, 9:24 AM ]

'Children are God's apostles, day by day, sent forth to preach Love, Hope and Peace.' This quotation by the American romantic poet James Russell Lowell puts the value of children in simple but profound words. But who is the child? Do we really know the child's world in today's day and age?

Often, we hear it said that the children of today have changed, compared to children in the past. We need to realise that children have not changed; rather, what has changed is childhood. Today, childhood is marred by several negative forces that could destroy children and hamper their growth in so many ways. Children are being robbed of their innocence and childhood. To reach out to the child of today with the Good News of Jesus, we need to first have a correct understanding of what the child of today faces. What are the things that influence the child and his/her thinking?

An atmosphere where information is available, almost unfiltered and instantaneous, results in a sort of numbing of the senses. Children could grow up seeing humans as objects to be used, and not as God's creations. This could also lead towards children being indifferent to the sacrifice of Jesus.

Due to all this, the child today grows up to be a non-relational person who is stressed at home, at school and even at Church, resulting in children having anger issues, anxiety problems, and even depression.

But even this child of the twenty-first century is very special to God. The Bible tells us that children are a reward from God (Psalm 127:3). We all know that children are easily influenced and directed, they are like arrows in the hands of a warrior. These arrows need to be sharpened, aimed and released in the direction of Jesus, so to say. It depends on us how, and with what, we want to influence our children. The question we need to ask ourselves is, "Are we influencing our children with things that will counter the influences of the world? Are we influencing them with Christ?"

The faith of the child is precious. It could put our faith to shame. A child's faith is also vulnerable. Children need help with their faith. Children were very precious to Jesus (Mk 10:16; Mt 19:13-14). Jesus warns us that we are not to hinder young children. If we hinder them when they are at an impressionable age, they may not want to come to Christ later, when they are mature enough to appropriate the Faith themselves. We need to ask ourselves if we are, in any way, becoming an obstacle to children approaching Jesus.

The first responsibility to bring the children to Jesus lies with the parents and family. The miracle of the Incarnation too took place in a human family, and this fact itself tells us how important the reality called 'family' is. The family has always been God's primary conduit to display His glory. Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the Law of Christ and His Church? On Faith Formation Sunday, it would be good for parents to reflect on this promise they made to the Church and to God on the day of their wedding. Bringing up the child in faith does not just mean ensuring the child is baptised, or that he/she is sent to a Catholic school and for Sunday school. The true meaning of the promise is to accompany the child on their faith journey. To be involved in their faith life actively. To set examples for them to follow.

For numerous reasons today, more than in the past, the child demands full respect and help in his/her spiritual and human growth. Those who have given life to children and have enriched them with the gift of Baptism have the duty to continually nourish it. The children of today will be the disciples of tomorrow, the Church of tomorrow.

Fr Vincent D'Cruz

09 Cardinal Ivan & I - Julio Ribeiro

posted Jun 28, 2017, 9:19 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 28, 2017, 9:19 AM ]

Ivan Cardinal Dias was born seven years after me. He was born in Bandra, I in Cavel which was a Christian enclave sandwiched between Kalbadevi and Girgaum. When we first met, I was in my early sixties, he in his late fifties! I had known his brother Lt General Francis "Dick" Dias who retired as Chief of Staff of the Indian Army's Southern Command.

We met in Tirana, the capital of the tiny European state of Albania, situated across the Adriatic from Italy. He was the Vatican's Nuncio, the representative of the Pope, in Albania. I was the Indian Ambassador to Romania, concurrently accredited to Albania. He was the only Indian in Albania. Three times a year, a week at a time, I joined him there, as I was supposed to, on behalf of my country.

On arrival at the bleak airport of Tirana, dotted on its periphery by now unused World War II bunkers, I would immediately phone the Nunciature, and invite myself and my wife over for dinner. Three religious Sisters from Cape Verde, Portuguese speakers, would greet us warmly, because we spoke their language. And they would serve us a delicious Indian meal!

The fare in Tirana's leading hotel was inedible. We were glad to make a beeline to the then Archbishop's residence. We talked for hours about the progress of democracy in Albania and the changes brought about after the ouster of the Communists. Albania was, for a century, the only official atheist country in the world. It had been a majority Muslim land, made so by the Ottoman Turks whose empire had embraced the neighbouring states of Kosovo, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Macedonia and parts of Bulgaria.


11 Ideas for Adult Faith Formation - Janet Schaeffler, OP

posted Jun 28, 2017, 9:18 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 28, 2017, 9:18 AM ]

There's a church in my area which has a one-way driveway for entry and exit to its property. The posted signs on this driveway say: "Enter to Worship" and "Exit to Serve." That is our Baptismal call. One of the results of our increased concentration on Adult Faith Formation is, hopefully, the deepening of people's awareness, desire, abilities and skills to be missioned for their role in the world.

Faith formation seeks to help each adult believer become more willing and able to be a Christian disciple in the world. "As salt of the earth and light for the world (Mt 5:13-16), adult disciples give witness to God's love and caring will, so that, in the power of the Spirit, they renew the face of the earth."

What can we do to ensure that Adult Faith Formation leads to being disciples in mission to the world?

1. So What? Whatever we do, whatever the programme or process (in whatever format or media we're employing), include the "so what?" question. What does this have to do with my life? And not just my life, but how does this impact the common good?

2. Stories Invite and encourage people to tell stories. By listening to others' experiences, we become aware of the needs of the world.

3. Signs of the Times Is your church environment and your programme/process filled with the signs of the times? Do you listen to what people are talking about—their questions, needs, and concerns? Do the weekend prayers at worship reflect today's needs (or were they written by someone else four months ago)? Are the Adult Faith Formation programmes that are offered a result of what the learners have asked for, and a reflection of what is happening in their life circumstances?


12 Sheep & Shepherd, close to the heart of Jesus - Ladislaus D'Souza

posted Jun 28, 2017, 9:15 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 28, 2017, 9:16 AM ]

Report of a Parish Priest’s Induction ceremony

It is significant that June, the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, heralds the season of ‘inductions’ whereby a Parish Priest officially takes charge of a given parish. “The induction of a new Parish Priest is an important event in the life of a parish. For the Parish Priest, it is a new sphere of pastoral work, while for us, members of the congregation and the people of the parish, it is a new chapter in the worship and life of the entire community. Thus, it is proper that both Parish Priest and people come together to offer themselves afresh to God for carrying forward the mission of Christ our Lord.” These words of the commentator at the commencement of Mass for the induction of the new Parish Priest at a church in Bandra (June 11, 2017) put into perspective the role of a Parish Priest in the life and mission of the parish community. The manner in which the entire ceremony unfolded - so smooth in its movements and meaningful in its nuances - was edifying. Apparently, the result of a well coordinated effort on the part of the inducting Bishop, the Parish Priest and the parishioners.

In the name of the Bishop

Vatican II states: “Pastors are cooperators of the bishop in a very special way, for, as pastors in their own name, they are entrusted with the care of souls in a certain part of the diocese under the bishop's authority.” (Christus Dominus 30). With the care of the flock entrusted by Jesus to Peter, the first Pope, and the Apostles, the first bishops, passing on to their successors down the ages, the bishop of a diocese symbolises the very unity of the Universal Church and its continuity amidst the complexities of the world. It is he who appoints the Parish Priest [PP] in order to cater effectively to the good of souls. The role and shared responsibility of bishop and PP is clearly highlighted in the proclamation of the Provisio Canonica (Letter of Appointment of the PP).

To break and to be broken

The handing over of the Book of the Gospels to the PP (during the Liturgy of the Word) is an effective reminder to both PP and parishioners, that the prime responsibility of the PP is to break the Word of God into small portions for the nourishment of the flock entrusted to his care by his bishop, in preparation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. No parish being an oasis of peace, as such, what with an array of problems besetting it, the PP is one who, in the process of breaking the sacred bread, stands ready to be broken for the good of the parish in ways unpredictable. This is further heightened by the Profession of Faith he makes, with his hand firmly on the Holy Bible and the Oath of Office that he so diligently utters and signs in the presence of his bishop, declaring fidelity to the Faith, the Church Universal, the Pope and the Bishop. A daunting task indeed! That is where the support of the parishioners – physical, moral and prayerful – comes in, even as the PP, with full faith in the Lord of the harvest who has called him, strives to maintain his sanity amidst the most trying situations, even as he studiously endeavours to lead his flock to Christ. That these endeavours include a host of responsibilities - both administrative and Sacramental - is evident from the bishop leading the PP to the Lectern, the Baptistry, the Confessional and the Tabernacle, apart from the presentation of the Ciborium and the keys of the Tabernacle and of the Parish Church, along with the various registers of the parish.


15 The Unknown Thomas - Marcellus D'Souza

posted Jun 28, 2017, 9:13 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 28, 2017, 9:14 AM ]

St Thomas brought Christianity to India. This was in AD 52. In the Book of John, as well as in the apocryphal Acts of Thomas, Thomas is described as “Thomas, who is called Didymus.” However, it is not clear just whose twin Thomas was meant to be.

He is presumed to come from Galilee, like Jesus, and to have returned there to teach after Jesus’ death. His birth and death dates are unknown. Thomas was an impetuous follower of Jesus.

St Thomas is best known for his role in verifying the Resurrection of his Master. Thomas' unwillingness to believe that the other Apostles had seen their Risen Lord on the first Easter Sunday earned him the title of "doubting Thomas."

Eight days later, on Christ's second apparition, Thomas was gently rebuked for his scepticism and furnished with the evidence he had demanded - seeing in Christ's hands the point of the nails. Thomas even put his fingers in the nail holes and his hand into Christ's side. After verifying the wounds were true, St Thomas became convinced of the reality of the Resurrection and exclaimed, "My Lord and My God," thus making a public Profession of Faith in the Divinity of Jesus.

St Thomas is also mentioned as being present at another Resurrection appearance of Jesus - at Lake Tiberias, when a miraculous catch of fish occurred.

After Pentecost, Thomas was sent to the Parthians, Medes and Persians to evangelise. He reached India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast in the year 52 A.D. accompanied by a Jewish traveller named Abbanes, to the southern tip of India, to the port of Muziris, present-day Pattanam, in Kerala state. A 17th-century work called ThommaParvam (Songs of Thomas) says that he converted 40 Jews upon his arrival, along with 3,000 Hindus of Brahmin origin. A large native population calling themselves "Christians of St Thomas" still exists.


17 Eradicate Torture Now! - Fr Cedric Prakash sj

posted Jun 28, 2017, 9:12 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 28, 2017, 9:12 AM ]

June 26 is designated by the UN General Assembly as the ‘International Day in Support of Victims of Torture’, with a view to the total eradication of torture and for the effective functioning of the ‘Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’ (UNCAT). According to the UN, “torture seeks to annihilate the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being.” The United Nations has condemned torture from the outset as one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings. Torture is a crime under international law. According to all relevant instruments, it is absolutely prohibited, and cannot be justified under any circumstances. This prohibition forms part of customary international law, which means that it is binding on every member of the international community, regardless of whether a State has ratified international treaties in which torture is expressly prohibited. The systematic or widespread practice of torture constitutes a crime against humanity.

Strangely enough, June 26 is infamous in India. Exactly forty years ago, on the night of June 25-26, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, had a ‘state of Emergency’ declared all over the country. Thousands were incarcerated, many were tortured in prison, freedom of speech and expression was banned, civil liberties were curtailed, and human rights violations took centre-stage, including a mass sterilisation programme. The Emergency which lasted for twenty-one months (till March 21, 1977) was surely a dark chapter of India’s history.

Today, forty years after that terrible period, India is currently witnessing another ‘state of emergency’. This ‘emergency’ is perhaps much more dangerous: there is no official ‘proclamation’; the moves are subtle and seemingly innocuous. Efforts are made to destroy the sanctity, the spirit and the letter of the Indian Constitution. Rights and freedom guaranteed to citizens are systematically curbed or denied. Propaganda complete with lies, half-truths and false promises (which could put even Hitler’s Goebbels into the shadow!) is dished out by the Prime Minister and his coterie.


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