Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 31 - August 05 - August 11, 2017

01 Cover

posted Aug 3, 2017, 9:39 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 3, 2017, 11:43 PM ]


03 Index

posted Aug 3, 2017, 9:38 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 3, 2017, 9:38 AM ]


04 Engagements

posted Aug 3, 2017, 9:33 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 3, 2017, 9:36 AM ]


05 Editorial - Horizon of Holiness -  Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted Aug 3, 2017, 9:32 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 3, 2017, 11:43 PM ]

The Catholic Church has always held the ordained ministerial priesthood in high esteem. It has taught that priests, despite their frailties and human limitations, could give us a glimpse of that horizon of holiness that could lead us into communion with God's saving presence. Throughout the centuries, Christ's mission of salvation has unremittingly extended over all the earth by the priest, who leaves all to gain all. Unfortunately, because of an ambitious clericalism that has marred the priesthood and an increasingly anti-ecclesial laity, fuelled by a rising culture of death prevailing in our society of materialism and secularism, the priest as a heroic spiritual figure has diminished.

There are media reports today on scandals that discredit the priest's central role in salvation history. Yet we must refrain from condemning the entire priesthood, because of a few who have strayed, for God alone can bring good out of evil. How evident today is the great need of sanctity in the priesthood. The leading example of the simplicity of holiness is none other than St John Vianney, the Curé D'Ars.

John Mary Vianney was born into a peasant family in the small town of Dardilly on May 8, 1786. His family was poor in material possessions, but rich in humanity and in faith. He spent so many years of his childhood and adolescence working in the fields, and was not literate. Nonetheless, he knew by heart the prayers his devout mother had taught him, and was nourished by the sense of religion in the atmosphere he breathed at home. Since his early youth, he sought to conform himself to God's will.

He pondered on his desire to become a priest, but it was far from easy for him to achieve it. Indeed, he arrived at priestly ordination only after many ordeals and misunderstandings, with the help of far-sighted priests who did not stop at considering his human limitations, but looked beyond them, and glimpsed the horizon of holiness that shone out in that truly unusual young man. At the age of 29, after numerous uncertainties, quite a few failures and many tears, he was able to walk up to the Lord's altar and make the dream of his life come true.

Indeed, in his pastoral service, as simple as it was extraordinarily fertile, this unknown parish priest of a forgotten village in the south of France was so successful in identifying with his ministry that he became, even in a visibly and universally recognisable manner, an 'Alter Christus', an image of the Good Shepherd who, unlike the hired hand, lays down his life for his sheep.

After the example of the Good Shepherd, he gave his life in the decades of his priestly service. His existence was a living catechesis that acquired a very special effectiveness when people saw him celebrating Mass, pausing before the tabernacle in adoration or spending hour after hour in the confessional. Therefore, the centre of his entire life was the Eucharist, which he celebrated and adored with devotion and respect. He was in love with Christ, and the true secret of his pastoral success was the fervour of his love for the Eucharistic Mystery, celebrated and lived, which became love for Christ's flock, for Christians and for all who were seeking God.

The teaching, which in this regard the Holy Curé of Ars continues to pass on to us is that the priest must create an intimate personal union with Christ, that he must cultivate and increase day after day. Only if he is in love with Christ will the priest be able to teach his union, this intimate friendship with the divine Teacher to all, and be able to move people's hearts and open them to the Lord's merciful love. Only in this way, consequently, will he be able to instil enthusiasm and spiritual vitality in the communities the Lord entrusts to him.

06 Vianney Sunday: The Joy of Ministry - Fr Aniceto PEREIRA

posted Aug 3, 2017, 9:31 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 3, 2017, 9:31 AM ]

Vianney Sunday in the Archdiocese of Bombay has always been an overwhelming experience! Celebrations of 'special' Masses during which one hears the haunting hymn "Keep them, we pray thee, dearest Lord...", floral tributes and fellowship meals, as well as speeches acknowledging the priests' good actions (with their defects conveniently pushed under the carpet!). Even retired priests are specially remembered on this occasion.

Priests are always left wondering what to do in return for such kindness from the people! How could they serve the people better? A recently published document of the Congregation for the Clergy, entitled 'The Gift of the Priestly Vocation' challenges priests to think in terms of a right that lay people have to encounter priests who are suitably mature and formed, a right which creates a corresponding duty. "Indeed," the document opines, "corresponding to this serious duty is a precise right on the part of the faithful, who positively feel the effects of the good formation and holiness of their priests." (No. 82) It takes the priest back to the day of his ordination, urging him to constantly feed that fire that gives light and warmth to the exercise of his ministry. He is called to look upon the years of his ministry as the natural continuation of the process of building up his priestly identity begun in the Seminary, and accomplished in his ordination, in view of a pastoral service that causes it to mature over time.

I am sure that the gratitude that continues to be expressed to priests on the occasion of Vianney Sunday will help them grow in their conviction that the laity and religious are truly enjoying their right of 'good pasture' offered to them by the exercise of their priestly ministry. This gratitude, I pray, will also encourage priests to accomplish their duty of not letting the people down, by being on a journey of ongoing conversion or formation, a process of gradual and continuous becoming 'other Christs', maturing in their being and acting.

An eminent way in which a priest can ensure daily maturation is "pastoral charity" i.e. a total insertion into the lives of his people from which vantage point he can absorb "the smell of the sheep". From such an insertion will automatically emerge the desire to comprehend the inner challenges faced by the people he serves. He may need to acknowledge his own inability to grasp the complexities of the situations faced by his people, or to update his understanding of the dynamics of contemporary social life, in order to better serve them. This precisely is the challenge that Pope Francis has given priests in his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in asking them to be more discerning about the problems faced by married people. Priests will not only discover the immense joy of ministry, but also experience personal conversion by taking the first step of giving a listening ear to married people in difficulty.

Read More...

07 The Priest... My Friend - Ninette D'Souza

posted Aug 3, 2017, 9:29 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 3, 2017, 9:29 AM ]

In the month of June, I received this link (https://focusoncampus.org/content/fr-what-a-waste) to a video titled 'Fr, What A Waste' – an interesting second person testimony, a must read on the person of the Priest. As I watched it, I felt blessed to have priest friends in my life. They uplift me with just the right message when I am down in the dumps, cheer me up with a witty remark, joke or emoji when I am upset about trifles, and most importantly, drench me in Prayer when I am in most need of it. They make the perfect guides on the journey of discovering my own faith and helping me to lead the children I catechise, to an Encounter with Jesus. I'm privileged to be listed as their contact, and to be nourished daily by their personal reflections on God's Word.

God has provided myriad opportunities through which He allowed me to interact with these 'Giants' (they are not the Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum type). These are giants in the measure of their character. They are persons who offered me the gift of Love, whose words of grace became for me rays of hope in times of despair. From them, I learnt that Life is not about doing the big and best things all the time. It is doing what is important and what is right. My priest friends often cause me to reflect on the relationships I share which form the fabric of my life. This they achieve daily through a line, a picture, a verse, or a prayer. They make me examine myself as an ambassador of God's love, thus making me more humble. They have helped me learn the value of never giving up on situations, and more importantly, on persons. They remind me in subtle, and sometimes direct, ways that relationships need much nurturing and time to develop, if they are to become a cause for celebration.

On the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Vatican City, Pope Francis commented that being a true friend to Priests and Seminarians is a great gift the Laity can offer to the Church, because priests need real friends too. The Pope said, "We become friends only if our encounter with another person is more than something outward or formal. True friendship involves sharing in the life of another person, an experience of compassion, a relationship that involves giving ourselves for others. Friends stand at our side; they listen to us closely and can see beyond mere words. They are merciful when faced with our faults; they are non-judgmental. They do not always indulge us, but precisely because they love us, they honestly tell us when they disagree. They are there to pick us up when we fall." He compared the lay people who offer priests true friendships to the home of Bethany, where Jesus entrusted his weariness to Martha and Mary, and thanks to their care, was able to find rest and refreshment.

Read More...

08 A Priestly Sabbatical - Fr Austin Norris

posted Aug 3, 2017, 9:27 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 3, 2017, 9:27 AM ]

A sabbatical is a one year leave for renewal, research and updating that a priest is granted, once in a lifetime, after fifteen years of pastoral ministry. Having completed 27 years of priesthood in 2012, I had applied for this leave. It was granted in June 2016—after 31 years of priesthood.

Getting Started

A provisional plan has to be discussed with the Archbishop with regard to one’s travel and activities. The expenses for travel inland (as well as abroad) are to be entirely borne by the priest.

One is free to stay at home and/or serve a parish. Plans for “ongoing formation” in ministry and spirituality are encouraged. Serving in a parish brings the satisfaction of ministerial and pastoral duties, as well as one has a base from which to operate.

On Foreign Shores – USA

I was able to arrange my travels to New York and Canada with the help of friends from past visits and local outreach. My first stopover, in July 2016, was at my cousin’s home in Duluth, Atlanta, USA. Besides spending time with them, the celebration of Masses at the local parish was a lovely experience. The long trip to Tennessee was a dream come true. The visit to Rock Mountain and the Inclined Railway and the awesomely stunning Ruby Falls was fantastic.


St Augustine’s - Larchmont, New York:

Was where I enjoyed my summer ministry. I lived amongst three venerable Monsignors and a courteous office staff. The parishioners were welcoming and appreciative of the homilies and Masses celebrated and the additional “singing at Mass", which they said “was a welcome and happy surprise…” Some of the parish groups viz Lectio Divina and Gospel Sharing, invited me to help in their prayer. Conducting TAIZÉ prayer and interacting with the “millennials” in the parish were rewarding experiences. One could understand the efforts of the local clergy to reach out to this “almost lost generation.”

Friends and Family: My friends were ever so warm and loving, taking me around to the local sights, and dinners at home and restaurants. A golden wedding I was asked to officiate at was least expected. These are friends going back 16 years, and they insisted that I do the honours. I gladly obliged, and the day was truly blessed and lovely beyond words. Catching a couple of Broadway musicals was a must-do for me, and was I happy! Visits to the St Joseph Seminary at Dunwoodie, Flushing, Long Island, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Port Chester, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Connecticut - New Canaan, Windham nestled in the Catskill mountains, were beautiful memories that I will for long cherish.

Read More...

09 A Priest for the Right Reason - Miriam Chakko

posted Aug 3, 2017, 9:25 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 3, 2017, 9:25 AM ]

What tongue, human or angelic, may ever describe a power so immeasurable as that exercised by the simplest priest in Mass? Who could ever have imagined that the voice of man, which by nature hath not the power even to raise a straw from the ground, should obtain through grace a power so stupendous as to bring from Heaven to earth the Son of God?' (St Leonard of Port Maurice)

In today's world, while expectations from the priests continue to mount, one often forgets that they are above all human, born with many strengths and human frailties like ordinary men. Over years of interacting with and working alongside many Catholic priests, this truth stared me in the face that we are often quick to criticise, and very slow to appreciate the selfless services of such ordained men of God.

My poem is written on the occasion of the Feast of St John Vianney who said, "Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. When you see a priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ."

'A PRIEST FOR THE RIGHT REASON' is a tribute to Catholic priests, a reminder, a sincere prayer, a humble "Thank you" and an apology to them for the times I could not understand them and their struggles. I pray that we Catholics will truly strive to encourage and help them to build up our churches and save many souls.


A PRIEST FOR THE RIGHT REASON

A priest for the right reason

Is what you are called to be…

Holy and humble in every season

The Spirit's fruits in you to see.

To love unconditionally and to serve all,

God handpicked you and set apart.

Your "Yes" to His most beautiful call,

He smilingly accepted from the start.

Drink every cup of suffering with grace,

Read More...

10 St Lawrence, Deacon - Sylvester Lobo

posted Aug 3, 2017, 9:24 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 3, 2017, 9:24 AM ]

For him, the treasures of the Church were the poor.


St Lawrence is the patron saint of deacons. Lawrence served the Lord and his people in Rome when the persecution of Christians was at its worst. He was one of seven deacons condemned by Emperor Valerian I, and had to die a martyr’s death in 258. "The very odour given forth by holy Lawrence's burning flesh was noxious to the unredeemed and to the faithful nectar sweet," wrote Aurelius Prudentius Clemens in his 'Hymn in Honour of the Passion of the Blessed Martyr Lawrence.'

Tradition has it that Lawrence came from Osca in Spain, and lived when Sixtus II was elected Pope in 257. As a youth, he was sent to Saragoza to complete his humanistic and theological studies. It was here that he first encountered the future Pope. He was a teacher in what was then one of the most renowned centres of learning. The future Pope was one of the most famous and esteemed teachers. The spiritual relationship between the teacher and the disciple grew from strength to strength, and finally, Pope Sixtus II ordained Lawrence a deacon, and gave him the mission of administering the goods of the Church. He was also entrusted with the care of the poor whom he considered treasures of the Church.

When Emperor Valerian I began persecuting Christians, many priests and bishops were condemned to death, while the Christians who belonged to the nobility or the Senate were deprived of their possessions and exiled. Pope Sixtus II was one of the first victims of this persecution.


“Martyr’s face was luminous”

Prudentius, based on oral traditions, gives us a detailed account of the martyrdom of Lawrence saying, "...the martyr's face was luminous" and that "round it shone a glorious light." A well-known legend tells us more about the virtues of Lawrence and his martyrdom. As deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor.

When Lawrence knew he would be arrested like the Pope, he sought out the poor, widows and orphans of Rome, and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels to increase the sum. When the Prefect of Rome heard of this, he imagined that the Christians must have considerable treasure. He sent for Lawrence, and said that Christians used silver cups and golden candlesticks at their rituals, and these were required by the Emperor to maintain his forces.

Read More...

11 Stop Human Trafficking Now! - Fr Cedric Prakash sj

posted Aug 3, 2017, 9:22 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 3, 2017, 9:22 AM ]

Human Trafficking is modern day slavery; it is best defined as 'the trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labour, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others'. According to recent estimates of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC):

• 51% of identified victims of trafficking are women, 28% children and 21% men

• 72% people exploited in the sex industry are women

• 63% of identified traffickers were men and 37% women

• 43% of victims are trafficked domestically within national borders.

Since the last decade, human trafficking has reached alarming proportions all over the world. Whilst there is surely a heightened awareness of this painful reality, and that much more is being done to combat this scourge, the bitter truth is that nothing seems to be enough. In 2013, the UN General Assembly held a high-level meeting to appraise the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and noted "that currently, there are millions of trafficking in persons victims in the world. Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims." July 30 is the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. Such a day was necessary to "raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights."

So it is important to look this scourge squarely in the face and see what, can be done at every level to stop human trafficking. India has the dubious distinction of being a hub in South Asia for human trafficking. In March 2017, India's Ministry of Women and Child Development told Parliament that there were almost 20,000 women and children who were victims of human trafficking in the country in 2016. This number is a 25 per cent rise from the previous year. Officials claim that this rise is perhaps due to the fact that there are more people who are not only aware of this crime, but are also reporting it. The actual victims of human trafficking in India could reach mind-boggling numbers. Many do not report the crime, either because they are unaware of the law, are afraid of the human traffickers or of the law enforcement officials, or are just too poor to have any other option in life.

Read More...

1-10 of 16