Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 40 - October 07 - October 13, 2017

01 Cover

posted Oct 5, 2017, 10:46 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 10:46 AM ]


03 Index

posted Oct 5, 2017, 10:43 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 10:51 AM ]


04 Engagements

posted Oct 5, 2017, 10:42 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 10:52 AM ]


05 Editorial - Celebrating the Fatima Centenary

posted Oct 5, 2017, 10:39 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 10:39 AM ]

Pope Francis welcomed the people who had joined him on a pilgrimage to Fatima in a great vigil service of hope, prayer and peace on May 12, 2017, to mark the inauguration of the Fatima centenary celebrations which would begin with the recitation of the Rosary led by the Holy Father himself. In his message on that occasion, he outlined a way of celebrating the Fatima Centenary by contemplating the face of God, as did Mary in the light of the mysteries of the Rosary.

The Holy Father said that he wished to commend all of us to Jesus, 'especially those most in need' – as Our Lady taught us to pray (Apparition of July 1917). "May she, the loving and solicitous Mother of the needy, obtain for them the Lord's blessing! On each of us robbed of the present and denied of a future, on each of the orphans and victims of injustice may there descend the blessing of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace." (Num 6:24-26)

This blessing was fulfilled in the Virgin Mary. No other creature ever basked in the light of God's face as did Mary; she in turn gave a human face to the Son of the eternal Father. Now we can contemplate her in the succession of joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious moments of her life, which we revisit in our recitation of the Rosary. With Christ and Mary, we abide in God. Indeed, 'if we want to be Christian, we must be Marian; in a word, we have to acknowledge the essential, vital and providential relationship uniting Our Lady to Jesus, a relationship that opens before us the way leading to Him' (Paul VI). Each time we recite the Rosary, in this holy place or anywhere else, the Gospel enters anew into the life of individuals, families, peoples and the entire world.

We are pilgrims with Mary, a teacher of the spiritual life, the first to follow Jesus on the 'narrow way' of the Cross by giving us an example, or a Lady 'unapproachable' and impossible to imitate? A woman "blessed because she believed" always and everywhere in God's words (cf. Lk 1:42.45), or a "plaster statue" from whom we beg favours at little cost?

Great injustice is done to God's grace whenever we say that sins are punished by His judgment, without first saying – as the Gospel clearly does – that they are forgiven by His mercy! Mercy has to be put before judgment, and in any case, God's judgment will always be rendered in the light of His mercy. Obviously, God's mercy does not deny justice, for Jesus took upon Himself the consequences of our sin, together with its due punishment. He did not deny sin, but redeemed it on the Cross. Hence, in the faith that unites us to the Cross of Christ, we are freed of our sins; we put aside all fear and dread, as unbefitting those who are loved (cf. 1 Jn 4:18).

"Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelisation" (Ap. Exhort. Evangelii Gaudium, 288). With Mary, may each of us become a sign and sacrament of the mercy of God, who pardons always and pardons everything.

In the year of this Centenary of Fatima, our hope of glory, Lord, is this: that our Mother will take us in her arms, shelter us beneath her mantle, and set us close to her heart.

(Extracts from the Message of Pope Francis at the Great Vigil service in Fatima)

06 The Significance of Fatima - J. J. Ziegler

posted Oct 5, 2017, 10:35 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 10:36 AM ]

The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady to the three shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal, where the Blessed Mother appeared once each month from May 13 until Oct. 13, 1917. The message of Fatima highlights many central truths and devotions of the Catholic faith: the Trinity, the Eucharist, penance, the Rosary and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. There is special emphasis on the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is a refuge of maternal love for us all and a sure path that leads us to God.

Nearly 2,000 years ago, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote that "In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son." (Heb 1:1-2). God did not abandon the world after creating it; instead, He revealed himself to our first parents, made a covenant with Noah, chose Abraham to be the father of a multitude of nations and formed His people of Israel.

In the fullness of time, God "said everything in His Word," as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches. "Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father's one, perfect and unsurpassable word. In Him, He has said everything; there will be no other word than this one ... No new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Nos. 65-66).

Even though God has already "said everything" through Jesus Christ, some Christians throughout the centuries have attested that they have seen or heard Jesus, the angels or the saints, especially the Blessed Mother. Thus "throughout the ages, there have been so-called 'private' revelations, some of which have been recognised by the authority of the Church," as the Catechism teaches (No. 67). "They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history."

Pope Benedict XVI reflected on private revelation in his 2010 apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini (The Word of the Lord). "Ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation essentially means that its message contains nothing contrary to faith and morals. It is licit to make it public and the faithful are authorised to give to it their prudent adhesion." (No. 46)

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07 Highlights of the Message of Fatima - Prof. Michael Ogunu

posted Oct 5, 2017, 10:34 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 10:34 AM ]

On May 13, 1917, Our Lady first appeared to the shepherd children Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta in Fatima. She appeared to them again on June 13, July 13, August 19, September 13 and October 13. During the course of her apparitions, she delivered some important messages to the children to announce to the world.

In all the apparitions, Our Lady told them to "pray the Rosary every day". She also told them to "pray, pray very much and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them."

She warned: "Do not offend the Lord our God anymore, because He is already so much offended."

She told them to continue to pray the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the First World War — which had been raging since 1914 and ended in November 1918 — because only she can bring peace. She assured them that "in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph."

The highlights of the message of Fatima include the following:

1. Amendment of Life: "I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not continue to offend Our Lord, who is already too much offended."

2. Five Warnings: "If my requests are not granted, Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church. Many good people will be martyred; there will come another great war (Second World War), and various nations will be destroyed."

3. War: "Wars are a punishment for the sins of mankind."

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09 The Story of the Rosary - Dr. Renu Rita Silvano, OCV, S.T.D

posted Oct 5, 2017, 10:32 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 10:32 AM ]

Divine Providence itself has guided the evolution of the powerful prayer method we know as the Rosary. Here is how it developed over many centuries to meet the urgent needs of the times. Already before St Dominic, people were reciting what was called the Marian Psalter: the first half of the Hail Mary was prayed 150 times on prayer beads, to imitate the 150 psalms in the Bible.

It was in the 6th century, the Church combined the Angelic Salutation ("Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you!") with the Evangelical Salutation which is the inspired greeting of Elizabeth to Mary: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" These were put together in the Offertory Prayer for the Mass of the last Sunday of Advent, and formed the first half of what would become known as the 'Ave Maria' or 'Hail Mary'. This went on till the 11th century. It was understood by the Church to be a prayer of praise in which Mary was honoured. Though the Hail Mary did not yet have an explicit intercessory dimension, it was viewed as a preparatory prayer said before formally petitioning her for a particular grace.

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen explains: "The second half of the Hail Mary was not introduced until the latter part of the Middle Ages. Since it seizes upon the two decisive moments of life: 'now' and 'at the hour of our death', it suggests the spontaneous outcry of people in a great calamity. The Black Death, which ravaged all Europe and wiped out one third of its population, prompted the faithful to cry out to the Mother of Our Lord to protect them at a time when the present moment and death were almost one." (In The World's First Love, 1996, p.207).

For four years till 1351, the Black Plague swept through all of Europe at a rate that affected and devastated every city and town, and wiped out one third of the population (about 25 million people) of Europe. The death, chaos, confusion and turmoil of the era had a devastating effect upon the practice of the Rosary. But in His Divine Providence, God grafted onto the existing Hail Mary a new development – an addition to the Hail Mary that emanated from the hearts of God's afflicted people and that gave the Hail Mary the added dimension of urgent petition and supplication: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

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11 The Fatima Statue at Karjat Shrine - Fr Calistus Fernandes

posted Oct 5, 2017, 10:30 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 10:31 AM ]

Being the Centenary year of the Fatima Apparitions, pilgrims flock in large number to this remote place at Karjat. One of the attractions of this Shrine is the beautiful Statue of Our Lady of Fatima brought from Portugal in the year 1920, just three years after Our Lady's apparition to Jacintha, Lucia and Francisco. This year, there has been a continual flow of devotees trying to get close to the Madonna of the East. Devotees both from the host diocese of Mumbai and various neighboring dioceses - Nashik, Pune, Vasai, Kalyan etc. gather to show their Marian devotion and join in praying for peace.

The history of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima at Karjat dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. At that time, the Holy Cross Church at Matheran (which is a hill station a few miles away from Karjat) was spiritually nurtured by the priests from Goa-Daman, then under the Portuguese rule. Though one may not have a clear picture of the arrival of this statue, it is said that with the already existing Portuguese influence, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima must have been brought as a gift by the Portuguese, most probably to be taken to Matheran. On March 5, 1915, a small piece land next to Karjat railway station was purchased for Rs 175/- by Fr Anicieto Pereira, the then Parish Priest of Holy Cross Church, Matheran on behalf of the Bishop of Daman for the Roman Catholic Mission, Karjat. The Holy Eucharist was celebrated occasionally by the locals and those working at the railway site, building the three hub stations - Thane, Karjat and Khandala - at the station master's office. The statue brought from Portugal was placed at the station master's office remained stationed for 15 long years. For the faithful, the statue was one more image of Mother Mary to show reverence, since not much was known about the apparition. Simultaneously, the news of the Fatima apparition was spreading slowly. It was only in the year 1930 that the Catholic Church proclaimed the supernatural character of the apparitions as worthy of praise. This news filled the faithful at Karjat with joy and they thought of building a small house for the statue. Soon the work began, and in the year 1935, His Grace Archbishop Joaquim Lima blessed the Chapel on December 17, with the carved statue of Our Lady of Fatima, making it the first ever Shrine in India dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima.

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12 Rohingyas are Human Too! - Fr Cedric Prakash sj

posted Oct 5, 2017, 10:28 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 10:28 AM ]

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' meaning 'the whole world is one family', is an ancient Sanskrit phrase found in the Maha Upanishad, one of the sacred texts of Hinduism. This important phrase underlines a basic tenet of Hindu philosophy, which includes welcoming, hospitality, tolerance, harmony, unity and adaptability. For several centuries, India as a country, and a large percentage of Indians have been doing their best to live up to this ideal. India has been home to races, nationalities, tribes, religions and cultures from across the world.

India has always been a welcoming home to refugees. During the bloody and painful days of Partition, there was a steady influx of refugees into India. Thanks to the statesmanship of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, several hundreds of thousands of Tibetan refugees (including the Dalai Lama) have made India their home for more than fifty years now. The Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 saw another major influx into the country; it was estimated that more than ten million East Bengali refugees entered India to escape mass killings and the brutality of that war. Though most returned to Bangladesh after independence, an estimated 1.5 million have continued to stay on in India. The Soviet-Afghan war of 1979, the more than twenty-five years of civil war in Sri Lanka since 1983, the atrocities on minorities in Myanmar, have in their wake brought in huge numbers of Afghanis, Sri Lankan Tamils, Chins and Rohingyas into India.

The persecuted Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar today and the stand of the current Indian Government is very much in the news. The Rohingyas (1.2 million approx.) are an ethnic minority group, mainly Muslim, who are concentrated in Myanmar's Rakhine State. Despite having roots and living in the Buddhist-majority country for centuries, the Rohingyas since 1982 are denied citizenship, disenfranchised, regarded as illegal immigrants and rendered stateless. Since the late 1970s, many of them have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, particularly Bangladesh.

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14 Youth Page

posted Oct 5, 2017, 10:26 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 10:27 AM ]

Pope calls youth to 'break the mirror' of narcissism

Pope Francis told youth to steer clear of modern society's narcissistic tendencies, which he referred to as a vain “illness.” He said they should instead concentrate on helping others and on developing a healthy ability to laugh at oneself.

He elaborated: “This culture that we live in, which is very selfish, (always) looking at yourself, has a very strong dose of narcissism, (of) contemplating oneself and ignoring others.” In turn, narcissism “produces sadness, because you live worried about 'dressing up' your soul everyday to appear better than you are, contemplating to see if you are more beautiful than others.”

This is called “the sickness of the mirror,” he said, and told young people to “break the mirror; don't look in the mirror, because the mirror deceives!” Instead, “look outside, look at others. And if, one day, you want to look at yourself in the mirror, I will give you a mirror: look in the mirror to laugh at yourself.” Doing this, he said, “will refresh your soul.” To know how to laugh at ourselves, he added, “gives us joy and saves us from the temptation of narcissism.”

Pope Francis spoke off-the-cuff in Spanish to youth who were members of the Catholic Shalom Community during an audience in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall. As usual, Pope Francis was careful to take notes, as he listened to various testimonies from the group, including from three youth who spoke about their experiences of loneliness, drugs, their search for God and their process of conversion.

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