Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 36 - September 09 - September 15, 2017

01 Cover

posted Sep 7, 2017, 2:07 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 2:08 AM ]


03 Index

posted Sep 7, 2017, 2:05 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 2:05 AM ]


04 Engagements

posted Sep 7, 2017, 2:04 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 2:04 AM ]


05 Editorial - Mystery of Mary of the Mount - Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted Sep 7, 2017, 2:03 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 2:03 AM ]

As a numberless multitude of people of all castes and creeds flocks to the Bandra Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary, seeking her intercession for spiritual and temporal needs, how do we present her as the patroness of the Girl Child and protector from violence perpetrated against her? After Vatican II, the trend in Mariology has shifted away from honouring the privileges and splendours of Mary for their own sake to an emphasis on Mary as one with us. We are being called to contemplate the Gospel mysteries of her life in relation to the mysteries of our own life, and to imitate her perfect response of faith by an authentic Marian spirituality that unlocks for us the Mystery of Mary of the Mount.

While the Council strongly urges us to continue to exalt Mary who "far surpasses all other creatures in heaven and on earth" (LG 54) and to pray to Mary "whose intercession and protection the Church continually experiences" (LG 62), the Council also asks us to focus explicitly on Mary as a type of the Church. It is often easier to honour Mary than to probe her mystery, to exalt Mary than to make our own life like hers: a total faith response to God.

As a help in this direction, Mary is presented in Lumen Gentium in Biblical terms. The Scriptures are our purest source of the knowledge of Mary. Mary herself was steeped in the living waters of the Old Testament. These waters continue to bear life for our contemporary times. Lumen Gentium is very explicit in saying that the Old Testament is to be "understood in the light of further and full revelation." (LG 55) The light of the fullness of revelation occurs when the New Testament is read in the light of the Old Testament, and the Old in the light of the New. Scripture scholars call this the 'sensus plenior'—Scripture interpreters of all times have considered the 'sensus plenior' as a valid inspired meaning of Scripture intended by God.

Here we can barely touch on Mary in Scripture, so vast is the ocean. Thomas Merton has written that unless "we find her [Mary] living in the midst of Scripture, and unless we find her, also hidden in Scripture, wherever and in whatever promises contain her Son, we shall not fully know the life that is in Scripture."

In order to pursue a true picture of Mary, it is good to begin with the prophesy in Genesis 3:15 which all of Tradition has applied to Mary, the Mother of our Saviour: I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. This passage signifies the battle which continues to take place between good and evil, wherein Mary stands as our hope.

Turning to the history of the Jewish people, we find a long line of women who are considered types of Mary. We can think of Miriam who guarded the infant Moses, who would eventually free Israel from Egyptian oppression. We think of those heroines like Deborah and Judith who saved their people from ruin — types of Mary in her spiritual collaboration with Christ's redeeming work.

Looking at Mary in this way, we can see her as an archetype for contemporary women in their legitimate desires to be more intensely involved in the mission of the Church and in the healing of societal wounds. Women of today can look to Mary as one who fully and responsibly heard the Word of God and acted upon it.

As a model for every Christian, she shows us how to live the Christian mysteries as we contemplate the Scriptures. She enlightens us to discover the same mysteries in our own life, and to respond in total faith to the problems and challenges we encounter in our times.

06 The Shrine at the Mount - Irwin Almeida

posted Sep 7, 2017, 1:56 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 1:56 AM ]

Come September, and Bandra residents prepare for an annual celebration —the Bandra Feast which celebrates the feast of Our Lady of the Mount. This actually commemorates the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady (September 8), preceded by a preparatory Novena. Similarly, it is celebrated in the Nativity devotions at the Shrines of Our Lady of Health at Velankanni at Irla, Vile Parle and Uttan, Bhayandar; apart from the famous pilgrimage Shrine–the Basilica of Our Lady of Health at Vailankanni in Tamil Nadu.

Traditionally, Bandra Feast is observed on the Sunday following September 8, and extends to the Octave with a Fair on the steps behind the Basilica and extending beyond Mount Carmel Church on Chapel Road, to its junction with Waroda and Bazar Roads.

Commencing with the Novena, crowds of devotees attend the services at Mount Mary Basilica, morning and evening, so much so that since the past 50 years, it has necessitated erecting a shamiana to contain the large crowds earlier accommodated within the church. The faith of the pilgrims is as firm as the mount the basilica stands on, and in fact, it is believed that only because of Our Lady's protection that Bandra has been kept from all harm. It may be recalled that during the communal disharmony in 1992-93, there was an influx of the minority community who fled south Mumbai for the relatively peaceful environs of this suburb.

In days gone by, this Bandra Feast was celebrated in a big way, as old time inhabitants will recall, when instead of the fatted calf, they slaughtered the home-bred pig, the custom in those days. A part of the slaughtered animal was also sold to the neighbours. Hosting friends and relatives who came to venerate Our Lady and remained to celebrate with a variety of mainly East Indian preparations, not to mention their spiritual satiation–and ignoring the mounting expense! Often, the visitors made themselves at home, while their hosts wished they really were!

With the passage of time, mounting costs and commuting problems, this traditional practice has been happily abandoned. The crowds are mounting, but the Fair has been reduced to a 'mela' of sorts, frequented by pickpockets and ill-mannered elements. Thankfully, the residents can now feast in peace, because while the footfalls for the devotion are increasing, the ones for the Fair are showing diminishing returns.

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07 Navigating a DIGITAL WORLD - Jean Saldanha

posted Sep 7, 2017, 1:55 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 1:55 AM ]

In 2016, police in Maharashtra registered 2,417 cases of cyber crime, of which 928 (38 per cent) were from Mumbai alone! (Hindustan Times)

Cyber crime is very real, even though it happens in the virtual world. The incidence of online abuse and violence results in offline trauma for those victimised, leading many to take the extreme step of suicide. As we push for more and more digitalisation, the question that cyber security agencies are asking is, what are we doing about creating a safe place on the internet where our children, especially girls, can operate freely without fear? Why girls especially? Because, according to a survey by CyberlawTimes.com, 75 per cent of the violence is directed at girls and women.

The UN Broadband Commission, in its report on cyber violence against girls and women, states that online abuse is a reflection of sexist and violent attitudes of people and societies offline. The violence online takes different forms, which includes hacking, identity theft, stalking, bullying, recruitment for trafficking, and defamation. In addition, there is 'revenge porn', which is posting intimate photos or videos of a girl obtained fraudulently, or created by morphing, to publicly humiliate her, even inflicting damage on the target's real world.

It is indicative of Indian societal attitudes that when the safety of girls is discussed, the focus is often on how they should behave and how they should be protected. But protection is not the same as security. Protection is about shielding girls from harm, thereby restricting their free movement. Security is about creating a safe place, where girls can move freely without fear of being abused. For example, the question about the recent Chandigarh incident should not be, why was she out so late, but why is it dangerous for her to be out at that time! After all, it was not a jungle where animal predators roam. So, if the danger is because male criminals own the night, does it not follow that the men who were out at 2 am are allegedly of questionable character? Also, it is the duty of law enforcers and society to ensure public safety for all, not the responsibility of girls to lock themselves indoors. But then, logic and reason have hardly been the measure of patriarchal mindsets!

These days, the homework given to children needs them to research content on the net. This leads them to spend more and more time on the net, and to explore newer websites and content. Also, kids as young as 2-3 years are adept at using mobile phones, and many own one by the time they are 10. The anonymity and unaccountability that the internet offers allows paedophiles, traffickers and bullies to prey on the insecurities of young girls, resulting sometimes in offline violence. There are incidents where girls are coerced into posting sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves by online 'boyfriends' under the guise of private chat, which are then circulated widely, much to the girl's public humiliation.

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09 Mary in Poetic Verse - Marcellus D’Souza

posted Sep 7, 2017, 1:53 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 1:54 AM ]

"Abandon yourself into the hands of Mary. She will take care of you."- St Padre Pio

Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, has immensely influenced the art of poetry writing through the generations. These poems can be divided broadly into 'Ave Maria' poetry or praise poetry which was often linked with prayers to Mary; poems about the sorrows of the Virgin Mary (Stabat Mater) and poems about the joys of the Virgin Mary (Gaude Maria i.e. Rejoice, Mary).

Soon, a Virgin Mary style evolved which predominantly listed her epithets: Sun, Morning Star, Rose, Lily and Queen of Heaven. A specific Virgin Mary symbolism also evolved, in which elements from nature or from the Old Testament explained challenging aspects of Mariology.

Marian poetry in the Greek Catholic Church tradition can be traced to the sixth century. It flourished in the ninth century, and was taken on by the Roman Catholic Church, where it culminated by 1400.

No woman and no deity in the Middle Ages attracted the poets like the Virgin Mary. In the Late Middle Ages, Marian poetry adopted elements from French troubadour poetry or love poetry.

Marian literature is bound with popular devotion to the Virgin Mother and Mariological theology. Marian poetry is found throughout the Nordic area. There are approximately fifty extant Marian texts in the Norse language. Some of these Norse Marian poems might have been written in Norwegian monasteries. In Sweden, poems to the Virgin Mother were written in Latin and in Swedish. Swedish-language Marian poetry exercised influence on the Danish language. Swedish poems like Vår Frus pina (Our Lady of Sorrows) and Marias sju fröjder (The Seven Joys of the Virgin Mary) finds mention in the wide-ranging and rhyming devotional book Siælinna thröst (Solace for the Soul). The oldest written version of the hymn Den signade dag (The Blessed Day) is Swedish, and has strong Marian elements.

The best known traditional poem on Mary published in the 20th century is Hopkin's Rosa Mystics. The poem expresses devotion, re-establishes the meaning of the biblical Mary and her role in the Divine plan of salvation.

The Trappist monk, Fr Thomas Merton (1915-1968), who is recognised as one of the major spiritual guardians of our times has written 25 poems which have a Marian content. Other poets who have captured Mother Mary in poetic form and rhyme are Denis Martindale, Linda Henry, Gerald Dillenbeck, Anil Deo, Authur Vaso, Aram Sarian, Gail Foster, Verlena Walker, Yolanda Scott, Yeats and Gert Strydom.

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10 Perpetual Devotion - Fr. John Rose, SJ

posted Sep 7, 2017, 1:52 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 1:52 AM ]

Mahim, on either side of the two main arteries - Lady Jamshedji Road and Cadell Road - still has the look of a sleepy suburb, a hapless bit of territory between Dadar and Bandra. Looking out westwards from a window in my room where I stay, at St Xavier's Technical Institute, there is a blur of low-lying buildings and trees and some bit of sand across the start of the SV Road, and strolls in the surrounding areas provide not much of interest, except carpentry workshops turning out exquisite filigree frames. Come Wednesdays, I would deter friends or any one else from visiting me, because of the hassles involved, but not if they wish to witness a wonderful spectacle on roads that issue out of Mahim Junction. Mainly around St Michael's Church, nondescript though modern, and hardly noticeable from a hurrying transport, there is an almost day long mixture of a mela, marketplace, pilgrimage centre, attractive junk food stalls, jostling crowds and noisy traffic snarls. The chief, if not the only, cause of it all is the weekly Perpetual Succour Novena, a misnomer, since it goes right through the year, and is not limited to nine Wednesdays at a time. The Church is packed with people absorbed by Novena prayers, Masses, homilies, Confessions, personal devotions, rosaries, or long lengths of silent contemplation, and is spontaneously decorated with lighted candles and flower bouquets, gift items and garlands.

What is most striking to me, and deserving of comment, is that, according to what I surmise, more than eighty per cent of the devotees streaming into the church are from other faiths, and the devotion on their faces doesn't appear to be in any way different from that of the Christians. A similar feature is to be seen in the crowds that go up to Mount Mary's during the Bandra Feast, but this event is only for a week. To Fr Francis de Melo, who has been here at St Xavier's since the early '80s, there is no explanation for this non-denominational devotion to Our Lady, and for her devotees to give excuses for being late to work or leaving the office early on Wednesdays other than: "I've to be in time at Mahim." Our Mother of Perpetual Help deserves perpetual devotion from her devotees.

The drawing factor is a Byzantine icon of Mary, originally venerated in Italy since the 14th century, and later entrusted to the Redemptorists in Rome by the Pope. Recently arrived in India, accompanied with the devotion associated with them, they found a very responsive agent for it in one of their mission rounds. In 1948, the pastor of St Michael Church, Fr Edward P. Fernandes, installed with much fanfare a large facsimile of the icon in the church; and it was his successor, Fr George Fernandes, famous for his sanctity and sermons, who drew in greater crowds, and since that time, the intensity of devotion and the numbers involved have not abated.

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11 Hail, Indian Judiciary! - Fr Cedric Prakash sj

posted Sep 7, 2017, 1:49 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 1:49 AM ]

The Indian Judiciary (at least, a good section of it) seems to have come of age: objective, faithful to the letter and spirit of the law, and unmindful of the consequences, the threats and intimidations of their political bosses or the violent mobs! The recent period in India has been a vibrant one in the history of India – with several landmark judgments being delivered. These judgments have come as a shot in the arm for democracy in India, for the pluralistic and secular fabric of the country, and above all, they augur well for the future of India.

On August 25, CBI special court judge Jagdeep Singh held Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda, guilty of rape and criminal intimidation of two female disciples in 2002. On August 28, Gurmeet Singh was sentenced to twenty years in prison (many, including his victims, feel that he should have been given a life term) by the same judge. Given his mass following, and the fact that Gurmeet Singh has the support of the ruling BJP, both in Haryana and at the Centre, the judge has been brave enough to transcend political privileges. The fact that there was mob violence (in which 36 people were killed and with widespread destruction) on August 25, with complete approval of the Government, was another pointer in an attempt to intimidate the law and order mechanism of the country.

On August 28, the Supreme Court slammed the Gujarat Government for dragging its feet on the trial of another godman, Asaram Bapu, in spite of being arrested for sexual misconduct. It is common knowledge that Asaram Bapu enjoys the full patronage of the Gujarat Government. Several other fraud godmen have been guilty of all kinds of criminal activity all across the country. Many of them have tremendous political patronage, and with their mob, muscle and money clout, they literally get away with murder. The landmark conviction and sentencing of Gurmeet Singh will certainly go a long way in upholding justice, and sending a message that no one is above the law!

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12 Youth Page

posted Sep 7, 2017, 1:43 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 1:44 AM ]

Mind over Matter

The Young Adults Association's (YAA) second event of the year was aimed at prioritising our Mental and Emotional Health and took place on August 20, at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Orlem. Due to the increasing number of people battling with depression, stress and addiction, the group sought to create an awareness of the importance of Mental Health. Thus the idea of 'Mind over Matter' was conceived.

For long, the topic of mental and emotional health has often been shrouded in negativity. Many individuals refuse to accept that such a problem exists. 'Get over it', 'Become strong', 'Buck Up', - these are some of the many terms they use. Others consider it as the work of the devil. But we must now address it for what it is - a disease. And we can only overcome this disease by proper diagnosis and treatment.

It is with this in mind we invited Dr Cicilia Chettiar (PhD), Dr Wilona Braganza (MD) and Fr (Dr) Anthony D'Souza (PhD) to conduct the session and answer a few questions. Dr Cicilia is a clinical psychologist, heading the department of Psychology at Maniben Nanavati Women's College with over 15 years experience in the field. Dr Wilona is a trained psychiatrist, working with several hospitals and clinics in Thane. And Fr Anthony is founder of Premanjali, a first of its kind Family counselling training institute at Nallasopara, and also the Rector at St Xavier's College, Mumbai.

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