Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 29 - July 22 - July 28, 2017

01 Cover

posted Jul 19, 2017, 9:54 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 11:31 PM ]


03 Index

posted Jul 19, 2017, 9:53 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 19, 2017, 9:54 AM ]


04 Engagements

posted Jul 19, 2017, 9:52 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 19, 2017, 9:53 AM ]


05 Editorial - Model Parents and Challenges of Parenting - Fr. Harold Vaz

posted Jul 19, 2017, 9:46 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 11:31 PM ]

The 26th of July is celebrated in Church Liturgy as a memorial of Sts Joachim and Anne. They are honoured as parents of Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ. Though they are not explicitly named as Mary’s parents in the New Testament, mid-second century A.D. Church traditions mention the names of Anna (‘Hannah’ in Hebrew signifies ‘grace’) and Joachim (in Hebrew – ‘God prepares’) as childless parents whose prayers were answered with the birth of their daughter Mary (in Hebrew – ‘Miriam’). Their names in a way sum up their character and spiritual qualities.

It is true that we know so little about Mother Mary’s parents. However, going by Jesus’ principle, “You will know them by their fruits” (Mt 7:16-20), considering Mother Mary the good fruit of her parents, we can justifiably conclude that Joachim and Anne were good parents, and hold them up as models of good parenting. Their practical anonymity itself provides inspiration to good parents and grandparents in our own times. Away from the limelight, often un-acclaimed and unsung, many parents and grandparents toil, struggle and manage in the face of most challenging odds to bring up and influence their children and grandchildren in ways worthy of admiration and emulation.

Parenting in the twenty-first century is obviously a wholly different challenge in comparison with parenting 2000 years ago. Hence, this issue of The Examiner contains articles which touch upon the varied difficult challenges and crises faced by parents in our own times, written by those who are themselves mothers and fathers. They also provide insights, suggestions and means that could help contemporary parents to step up and meet the bewildering and daunting challenges they face to the best of their ability. Further reading, viewing audio-visual presentations, live sessions on parenting and personal counseling can assist parents bring up their children with a positive attitude of self-worth and confidence, with a mature Christian faith, and with a healthy blend of modern psychology, good interpersonal communication, affirmation, affection, constructive discipline and wise guidance.

Pope Francis gave down to earth advice to parents based on Col 3:20-21. “This is a wise rule: children should be raised to listen to their parents and obey their parents, who, in turn, should not order them around in a negative way, so as not to discourage the children. Children, indeed, must grow without becoming discouraged, step by step. If you parents say to your children: “Let's climb this ladder” and you take them by the hand, and step by step help them climb, things will go well. But if you say: “Go up!”, “But I can't” “Go!”, this is called provoking your children, asking them to do things they don't have the ability to do. That is why the relationship between parents and children must be one of wisdom, of a great balance. Children, obey your parents, this pleases God. And you, parents, don't provoke your children by asking of them things they can't do. And this needs to be done so that children can grow up to be responsible for themselves and for others.” [cf. General Audience, May 20, 2015]

Pope Francis (in another address) said, “Children are aware of our joys, our sadness and our worries […] They draw their conclusions and take in their lessons […] Take care of them, take care of their hearts, their joys, their hopes, [...] showing them how faith helps us to go forward and face challenges and tragedy, not with pessimism, but with trust; this is the best witness we can give them.” The Pope praised the practice of families who go to Mass together, and then go to a park or on an outing so that their children can play. “This is beautiful and can help us to live out the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath…“playing with your children, ‘wasting time’ with your children, is also a way to transmit the faith. It is graciousness, the graciousness of God.”

*Fr Harry Vaz, Rector of Holy Name Cathedral and former Rector of the Seminary (Graduate in Psychology, Pastoral Counsellor, Professor of Sacred Scripture).

06 Parents face family crises with Faith - Dr. Mrs. Elaine Ann Charles

posted Jul 19, 2017, 9:44 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 19, 2017, 9:45 AM ]

Married life and parenting can never be devoid of their fair share of good times and bad, of ups and downs, of sunshine and storms. The intensity or frequency with which they occur might vary, and long spells of sunshine might be interrupted by threatening grey clouds and outbursts of stormy weather, but they are both part of the web and warp of life.

Crisis times occur in every family, even in families rooted in love and understanding and enjoying a close, personal relationship with each other. They are bound to occur, despite the love and care we lavish on our children and the sacrifices we make to raise them with right values and principles. In moments like these, parents are tempted to ask, "Why us, Lord? Where did we go wrong? Who is really responsible?"

Crises can be varied like the sudden death of a loved one, diagnosis of a terminal illness, having a physically or mentally challenged child, a much-loved child becoming addicted to drugs, alcohol or pornography, or getting into a relationship you cannot come to terms with. There is also the failure of a child in his or her studies, putting an end to all your hopes and dreams, the loss of a job, a financial crash, an unsolvable property dispute, or the startling discovery of infidelity or deception on the part of one's spouse. Crises like these tend to crush us, and we begin to feel helpless and lost.

Most of us usually react with the same chain of familiar responses - initial disbelief, denial, unwillingness to accept the bitter truth and to face reality. In crises involving our children, we often strive to take control of the situation with our own strength. We resort to persuasion, reasoning and emotional blackmail, and when these do not work, we turn to threats, coercion and force, and even rejection. And finally, when these seem to fail, we turn to God for help.

We pray fervently and make sacrifices, and when our prayers and petitions go unanswered, we wonder why God is not listening to our prayers, and why all our pleas seem to be going unanswered.

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07 Parenting in the 21st Century - Marcellus D’Souza

posted Jul 19, 2017, 9:42 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 19, 2017, 9:43 AM ]

Being a parent today is simple. All you have to do is provide for a new mobile phone – a 1 + 5 or an Apple iPhone S 7, for clothes from the many boutiques that line each level of a mall, or for a movie which includes a trip to the food court, if not an expensive restaurant. Thus, parents are nothing more than an ATM.

Today, parents have lost their privilege to pull up their children or question them on their performance in school/college. Gone are the days when a trip to Bandra Fair essentially meant buying canes which were used to discipline the child. Parents, today, are advised how to become 'friends' with their child. The days of shouting, reprimands and spanking have long been done away with. The new mantra is to understand the child, encourage him/her in every endeavour. Academics are a thing of the past. Additional qualifications and courses offer new avenues.

We recently learnt about a case of a college going child in Mumbai who slit his mother's throat, when enquiries were made about his academic performance. Since he did not ever attend college, his pocket money was stopped only to end in the gruesome murder of his mother.

Our children are in a world of their own. The earphones matter. Once these are inserted into the ears, then it becomes very difficult for a parent to get the attention of the child. The entire building (and even neighbourhood) may hear us yell and scream, but not our children. Music has overtaken the entire being of our child. The music they listen to would not cut a beat during our time. Hip hop, rap, Rihanna's 'Anti' and Beyonce's 'Lemonade'. I fear the worst. As much as our children may be at home, no help will come our way due to the high decibels the music is played at.

Children today have become addicts of phones. WhatsApp messages are exchanged well into the night (has anybody checked the language? One wonders who is awake at this late hour!) Movies are downloaded or 'streamed' and watched at odd hours, and it is a norm to go to sleep not before 2 am or later. Gaming is another newfound hobby that is spreading its tentacles amongst the youth. Most of these games build up an unthinkable level of aggression, and inculcate a sense of persuasion, winning and pride. The game is taken so seriously, that if it is lost or the scores are low, depression and even addiction takes over our children. Their clothing styles have hit the roof. Torn jeans, off-shoulder tops, glitter lipstick, holographic make-up and fake freckles rule.

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09 Parenting - Building up a Home - Andrea Maria

posted Jul 19, 2017, 9:39 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 19, 2017, 9:39 AM ]

Parenting can be viewed as setting up a home with important building blocks

The most basic building block is Affection.

Everyone agrees that affection is important, but is not sure how to give it, or when. Affection must be the air the child breathes. If it is missing or if it is used as a reward and withheld as punishment, the child is greatly deprived. When there is open affection between husband and wife, parents and children, a child blossoms.

Touch: Children need to be touched. We need to touch our children because it is the best way of communicating our affection, tenderness, understanding and gentleness.

Sometimes, we think it's not appropriate to show signs of affection after a certain age. The more mature a child is and the more it knows about life, the more affection is called for – even in spite of an external show of not wanting it. In the privacy of our homes, affection is never wasted, never uncalled for. When in doubt, TOUCH.

Encouragement: We can never tell our children enough how good they are. Honest encouragement won't spoil them. It's very important when saying 'please' or 'thank you' to look into our children's eyes. Also it's important that our encouragement be specific. When we mention a specific quality, and when he/she exercised that quality, then the compliment is more believable. It can be very encouraging too, when our children hear us speak well about them to others. Too often, we give our children toys, money, cellphones, bikes and other material things, when the greatest thing we can give them is a good self- image.

Planning to encourage: Building up a good self-image doesn't just happen. If we don't say to ourselves: I'm going to encourage Johnny at least twice today, the opportunities just pass us by. Either we are too busy, or the child has upset us, or we're blind to any good quality.

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10 Parents’ Day - pay-back time? - Melville X. D'Souza

posted Jul 19, 2017, 9:37 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 19, 2017, 9:37 AM ]

It's that time of the year when we celebrate Parents Day - July 26 - the feast of St Joachim and St Anne. And so we have celebrations all around us - at the zonal level, and perhaps, at the sector level as well. It is said that this is the time for children to show their appreciation towards their parents, for having given them life, for caring for their every need, giving them emotional and spiritual support, protecting them from all harm or injury, abuse, etc. Yes, on such an occasion, it is fitting we would say, that the children do this much. 'Pay-back time,' would you like to call it? Why not, we would argue, it's 'pay-back time' for all the sacrifices the parents have made for their children and hardships they have endured for the sake of their children. Yes, perhaps they deserve the praise and appreciation from their children.

On the other hand, it is sad to see how children, when they are settled in life, tend to become arrogant. They tend to lose sight of all the values they have learnt from their parents in their growing years. They tend to become selfish. In certain cases, they may also pressurise their parents into handing over their rights in their property to the children. In the event of the death of the parents, the elder child could also usurp the rights of the other members in the family. They tend to despise their parents in their old age, at the time of sickness.

Recently, I read an incident where a seventy-five-year-old woman from Delhi was dumped on the street to fend for herself. The woman recalls the incident; she remembers the heart-wrenching afternoon that changed her life like it was yesterday. "I'd had my lunch of chapattis and dal, and was resting in my room in Delhi, when my son walked in, and asked if I would like to visit our relative in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, about an hour's drive away."

She was excited at the prospect of going on a car ride with her only son. "I was looking forward to spending some time with him," she says. The frail woman agreed to the journey, not knowing that it would be the last time she'd ever see her son and his family.

After driving around for a while, once they were on the highway, her son (a father himself) stopped the car near a roadside fruit stall, and asked her to step out of the car and buy some fruits. "As I was choosing the fruit, I saw my son start the vehicle, and before I could call out to him, he sped off," says the woman, a tear rolling down her deeply creased face.

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12 Sts. Joachim and Annen – why not Grandparents Day? - Eugene Peres

posted Jul 19, 2017, 9:36 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 19, 2017, 9:36 AM ]

On July 26, we honour St Joachim and St Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and grandparents of Jesus. So it can also be considered as Grandparents Day. The world celebrates Mothers’ day and Fathers’ day with much publicity and commercial gain. Sadly, not much is done to honour and appreciate grandparents! The feast of St Joachim and St Anne reminds us of the beauty of family in God’s plan, and the importance of family bonds.

This feast invites us to ponder on the marvellous way in which the plan of God has continually unfolded from generation to generation. Mary was brought up in the household of her simple, holy parents, Joachim and Anne. They trained her, taught her to pray and to work, to love and to obey, and especially to have unlimited faith in the goodness and power of God. Like all devout Jews of their time, Joachim and Anne looked forward with faith to the coming of the Messiah, and they passed on this deep spiritual longing to their daughter.

The hidden life of Joachim and Anne shows us the importance of remaining faithful to God and to our vows, even if we are unnoticed, even if no one knows who we are or what we do. In the Lord, there is no such thing as an ordinary life. No one is unimportant to God. As we reflect on Joachim and Anne, and on their relationship with Mary and with the young Jesus, we can also recall the role of grandparents in our lives.

Grandparents are often the forgotten treasure of the family. By their wisdom, patience and love, they provide security for their children, and strengthen the relationships of the grandchildren with their parents. They provide the grandchildren with a precious connection to their family heritage and culture. The Christian witness and intercessory prayer of grandparents is often a crucial factor in the spiritual formation of the grandchildren.

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13 Mary Magdalene - from sinner to Saint to Apostle - Dr. Jeanette Pinto

posted Jul 19, 2017, 9:34 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 19, 2017, 9:34 AM ]

There are a number of Marys in the Bible. “Who really was Mary Magdalene?” I asked this question to students who attended the Bible Joy class. Almost everyone seemed to know who she was, and the different answers I got were as follows. One said, “She was a bad woman.” Another said, “She was a prostitute.” Another said, “Mary was a very big sinner.” A fourth said, “She was a follower of Jesus.” Now you and I may have our own answers. Indeed, so much has been said of Mary Magdalene, even by purists and others, that she emerges as an enigmatic person, that one cannot distinguish between fact and legend. Perhaps, no figure in Church history is as controversial or mysterious as Mary Magdalene. We would agree that she was a pivotal New Testament biblical figure whose role in Christianity continues to be debated and discussed, as a devout follower of Jesus to the very end and the first to witness His Resurrection.

Mary Magdalene has been regarded in Christianity as a repentant prostitute or a promiscuous woman; these accusations, however, are not found in the four canonical gospels. Her name was Miriam, which is the Hebrew equivalent of Mary. She lived in the Galilean town of Magdala about a hundred miles north of Jerusalem, which was a thriving centre of the fishing industry. The town had a Hellenistic culture. The remains of the ancient town still exist, about two kilometres from the modern village of Migdel Nunya.

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