Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 43 - October 28 - November 03, 2017

01 Cover

posted Oct 26, 2017, 6:35 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 27, 2017, 6:43 AM ]


03 Index

posted Oct 26, 2017, 6:34 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 26, 2017, 6:34 PM ]


04 Engagements

posted Oct 26, 2017, 6:33 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 26, 2017, 6:33 PM ]


05 Editorial - Becoming Saints - Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted Oct 26, 2017, 6:29 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 27, 2017, 6:46 AM ]

One of the most convincing arguments for the existence of God is Holiness. This fact is the reason that down the ages, the Church has never ceased to produce great Saints. The declaration of so many becoming saints among the faithful today by recent Popes is not surprising. There are so many men and women who according to conventional sanctimonious standards did not measure up to criteria for sainthood, yet could see the faith firmly established in their hearts. They prayed; God really mattered to them. They became quite simply Saints, though they did not know it. But they were always an inspiration for holiness.

"By Baptism, we have been incredibly transformed," said Pope Francis while canonising 35 Saints. Already we are able to be 'called God's children.' And that, insists St John, is not some kind of courtesy title; it is a fact: this is what we are. It is a wondrous gift which has been lavished on us by the overflowing love of our Heavenly Father.

And yet even that is only the start, the start of a process that is to continue until the day when we see our God face to face. On that day, our full glory will be revealed, and no one will be more surprised than ourselves. As John explains, "We shall be like God, because we shall see Him as He really is."

To elaborate, we are given a glimpse of those who have reached their journey's end, that immense multitude, "impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe, language," who have remained faithful to God through every difficulty, and now praise and worship Him. They not only inspire us, but intercede for us.

In the throng, there will surely be many of our dear ones who have gone before us – parents perhaps, or children who died young, or people who knelt beside us in church or our next-door neighbour. The great truth which was proclaimed boldly at the Second Vatican Council is that "The Lord Jesus... preached holiness of life to each and every disciple, no matter what their condition of life." (Lumen Gentium, 40) This is only another way of saying that we have all been called to be saints. The call to holiness, to sainthood is open to everyone. It is what we were created for.

It is strange that while we would all be ready to claim that we are decent people, we would probably be far less eager to speak of ourselves as holy people. Perhaps it is due to false modesty. Perhaps it is because we think that saints are only those who have been canonised by the Church; but above all, it is because we have not begun to appreciate the love the Father has lavished upon us. It is because of that love that we can humbly trust that we are even now on the way to becoming Saints.

In the Gospel, Jesus teaches us through the Beatitudes what real happiness is, and where the kingdom of Heaven is to be found. It is He who said "those who are 'poor in spirit' and so know their need of God; who are strong enough to be gentle and merciful; who hunger and thirst for justice; who strive to be peacemakers; who because of their single-mindedness are 'pure in heart'."

On All Saints Day, we thank God that such people are to be found in every parish community, and sometimes in the most unlikely places. At the same time, we pray that the Eucharist, the source of the Church's holiness, may enable us, despite our sins and unfaithfulness, to be numbered finally among the Saints - the holy ones of God! Yes, we all want to be in that number when the saints go marching in. All Saints Day gives us the hope it will happen.

06 Response of Amoris Laetitia  to Challenges families face (Continued) Part II

posted Oct 26, 2017, 6:25 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 26, 2017, 6:26 PM ]

Cardinal Oswald Gracias'
Presidential Address

Caring for and defending human life is an urgent task that was emphasised by the recent Instrumentum Laboris and the Relatio Synodi of the last Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Jesus' mission was to make human life hope filled and fulfilling. Each one of us is called to live an abundant and fruitful life. As Jesus tells us so splendidly in the Gospel of John, "I came that you may have life and life in abundance." (John 10:10) Thus, human life is a precious gift of God, and each one of us has the responsibility to protect it and care for it right from the very first moment of conception to its natural end. In the words of Evangelii Gaudium, "The proclamation of the Gospel will be a basis for restoring the dignity of human life."

Bioethical Challenges:

The Catholic Church has always been a strong defender of life in all circumstances. Since the first century, the Church has asserted that every procured abortion is a moral evil. The Magisterium has constantly, and with increasing frequency, spoken in defence of the sacredness of human life. In the Gospel of Life, St John Paul II strongly stated that the inviolability of innocent human life is a moral truth clearly taught by Sacred Scripture, constantly upheld in the Church's Tradition, and consistently proposed by her Magisterium. Unfortunately, abortion is rampant across the globe. In today's secularised society, we face a struggle between the culture of life and the culture of death. Those who are influenced by the culture of death remove all reference to God from their lives. The family, as the sanctuary of life, is meant to protect and promote human life in all its stages. Amoris Laetitia makes it very clear that since the value of human life is so great, no one can justify a decision to terminate the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother's womb. Similarly, the Church asserts the right to a natural death without aggressive treatment and euthanasia. We need to reawaken the individual moral conscience of people and also the moral conscience of society, the thirst for God, and consequently, a return to the culture of life. As Evangelium Vitae tells us, "it is always from this intimate sanctuary of the conscience that a new journey of love, openness and service to human life can begin." We join Pope Francis in making an appeal for a general mobilisation of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life and to promote a more human civilisation.

Further, the New Artificial Reproductive Technologies present grave ethical problems. Many childless couples craving to have a child resort to in vitro fertilisation which often involves the deliberate destruction of human embryos. The artificial means of procreation are also chosen by couples for genetic selection of their offspring, but also lead to the destruction of embryos, which is destruction of human life, and hence unacceptable. Amoris Laetitia put it very clearly that "the technological revolution in the field of human procreation has introduced the ability to manipulate the reproductive act, making it independent of the sexual relationship between a man and a woman. In this way, human life and parenthood have become modular and separable realities, subject mainly to the wishes of individuals or couples." It is very unfortunate that "techniques of in vitro fertilization are accepted, based on the presumption that the individual embryo is not deserving of full respect in the presence of the competing desire for offspring which must be satisfied." In this regard, a specific form of family apostolate that has been encouraged by the Magisterium is the adoption of children, orphans and the abandoned, and accepting them as one's own. The choice of adoption or foster parenting is a powerful sign of family love, and an opportunity to give witness to one's faith and to restore the dignity of a son or daughter to a person who has been deprived of this dignity.

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08 All Saints and All Souls - Fr. William Saunders

posted Oct 26, 2017, 6:22 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 26, 2017, 6:22 PM ]

What are the origins of All Saints and All Souls Day? Are these linked with paganism and Halloween?

Both the Feast of All Saints and the Feast of All Souls evolved in the life of the Church independently of paganism and Halloween. However, elements of pagan practices were perhaps "baptised" by some cultures or attached themselves to the celebration of All Saints and All Souls.

Let us first address the Feast of All Saints. The exact origins of this celebration are uncertain, although, after the legalisation of Christianity in 313, a common commemoration of Saints, especially the martyrs, appeared in various areas throughout the Church. For instance, in the East, the city of Edessa celebrated this feast on May 13; the Syrians, on the Friday after Easter; and the city of Antioch, on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Both St Ephrem (d. 373) and St John Chrysostom (d. 407) attest to this feast day in their preaching. In the West, a commemoration for all the saints was celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The primary reason for establishing a common feast day was because of the desire to honour the great number of martyrs, especially during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian (284-305), the worst and most extensive of the persecutions. Quite simply, there were not enough days of the year for a feast day for each martyr, and many of them died in groups. A common feast day for all saints therefore seemed most appropriate.

In 609, the Emperor Phocas gave the Pantheon in Rome to Pope Boniface IV, who rededicated it on May 13 under the title St Maria ad Martyres (St Mary and All Martyrs). Whether the Holy Father chose May 13 because of the date of the popular celebration already established in the East, or whether this was just a happy coincidence is open to debate.

The designation of November 1 as the Feast of All Saints occurred over time. Pope Gregory III (731-741) dedicated an oratory in the original St Peter's Basilica in honour of all the saints on November 1 (according to some accounts), and this date then became the official date for the celebration of the Feast of All Saints in Rome. St Bede (d. 735) recorded the celebration of All Saints Day on November 1 in England, and such a celebration also existed in Salzburg, Austria. Ado of Vienna (d 875) recounted how Pope Gregory IV asked King Louis the Pious (778-840) to proclaim November 1 as All Saints Day throughout the Holy Roman Empire. Sacramentaries of the 9th and 10th centuries also placed the Feast of All Saints on the liturgical calendar on November 1.

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10 The Role of Saints in Modern Times - Marcellus D’Souza

posted Oct 26, 2017, 6:20 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 26, 2017, 6:20 PM ]

All Saints Day stands out like a beacon, whereupon it holds out a ray of hope in a world that has been blackened by hatred and hunger.

The life of each Saint holds out a common lesson on how to live our lives in modern times. The Saint from a particular region holds out a specific cause to improve the situation we find ourselves in. Their simple rustic lives inspire us to shun materialism and worldly pleasures. The lives of Saints, canonised from India in recent times, reflect the milieu in which he/she lived.

St Gonsalo Garcia of Bassein was the first Indian-born to attain sainthood. He lived in the fishing village of Agashi, adjacent to Mumbai, when the Portuguese ruled for about 205 years. His father was a Portuguese soldier and his mother a 'Canarim' as the Portuguese called the inhabitants of the Konkan. Gonsalo Garcia spent eight years (1564-1572) in Bassein Fort, where he studied under the Jesuit priest, Sebastião Gonsalves, who taught him Grammar, Philosophy and Roman history. He helped out in the Igreja do Santo Nome de Jesus (Church of the Holy Name of Jesus). Gonsalo Garcia's growth as a Franciscan preacher and travels to Manila and Japan took root in the dust and toil in the fields of Vasai.

St Joseph Vaz was born in 1651 at Benaulim, his mother's village in Goa. His father, Cristóvão Vaz, belonged to a prominent 'Naik' family of Sancoale where he attended the elementary school. He learned Portuguese in Sancoale and Latin in Benaulim. Being a bright pupil, his father sent him to the 'city of Goa' (Old Goa) for further studies, where he did a course in rhetoric and humanities at the Jesuit college of St Paul. He further studied Philosophy and Theology at the St Thomas Aquinas Academy of the Dominicans, in Goa city.

After his ordination in 1676, Joseph Vaz started going barefoot to live like the poor, and acquired a reputation as a popular preacher and confessor. He opened a Latin school in Sancoale for prospective seminarians. In 1677, he consecrated himself as a "slave of Mary", sealing it with a document known as the 'Deed of Bondage'.

Joseph Vaz spent time preaching in the surrounding villages. He also joined a group of priests who decided to live together in a religious community. The group was formally erected as a community of the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri on September 25, 1685 - the first native religious community in the diocese. They took charge of the Church of the Holy Cross of Miracles, on the southern outskirts of Old Goa, where they established their residence. Joseph Vaz was elected first provost of the community.

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11 Green Burial - Dr Francin Pinto

posted Oct 26, 2017, 6:19 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 26, 2017, 6:19 PM ]

Physical Death i.e. death of the human earthly body is the end of life on earth. A 2016 international mortality report shows that 60% of deaths are of persons who have lived over 65 years, while 33% of dead are in the age group of 18 to 64 years, and the balance 7% are between infancy and 18 years of age.

Catholics believe that there is an after-life, and that once a person dies, they will see God face to face. Because of Christ, death has a positive meaning to a Roman Catholic: "For me to live is Christ, and to die is to gain Christ." Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already "died with Christ" sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ's grace, physical death completes this "dying with Christ" and so completes our incorporation into Him in His redeeming act.

Burial

Catholics take care to honour and bury the dead because St Paul tells us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, that God lives in our very bodies, and therefore we should honour God with them (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Honouring the body doesn't stop after the person has died.

In Mass, we profess our belief in the Resurrection of the body when we say the Creed, 'We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.' Just as Jesus' body was raised and ascended into heaven, so we believe our bodies will be returned to us when Jesus returns. Burial is not simply a disposing of the body, but it is caring for that person to the point that it is even a corporal work of mercy to bury the dead. (CCC 2300)

After burial


Over the next 2-3 years, family members and friends often have Mass celebrated for the peace of the soul of the deceased person. On special occasions such as the deceased's birthday, Christmas or anniversary of the death, family and friends will often visit the grave. Flowers or other objects to remember the deceased are sometimes placed on the grave as a sign of respect.

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13 Cardinal Bo: The Pope will … heal our wounds - Andrea Gagliarducci

posted Oct 26, 2017, 6:17 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 26, 2017, 6:17 PM ]

Pope Francis' trip to Burma will help heal the wounds of his country, especially for minorities under attack, the nation's sole cardinal maintains.

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon is the first Burmese cardinal in the history of the Church. He was made a cardinal by Pope Francis in 2015.

Speaking with CNA about the upcoming papal trip to Myanmar (Burma), Cardinal Bo stressed that the "Vatican and others need to work towards healing the wounds of our nation, by showing a future that can bring positive results for all communities."

Myanmar has garnered increased international attention in recent years, because of an escalating persecution of the Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group within the Buddhist majority state.

Pope Francis has made a number of appeals for the protection of the Rohingya, since at least May 2015.

Since late August, the United Nations estimates that 582,000 Rohingya have fled Burma's Rakhine state for Bangladesh.

Cardinal Bo told CNA he "hopes that the Pope will address the burning questions" of Rohingya persecution in a meeting scheduled with the country's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi during the November trip.

He also said that the Pope will likely "encourage good steps" and said that "as a Church, we want to affirm the intensity of human suffering" experienced by the Rohingya, because "this problem has been there for last 60 years, and most intensely since 1982, when an unjust citizenship law was passed."

The cardinal also noted that "there is a new energy let loose by the global Islamophobia. The xenophobic regulations in rich countries against Muslims encourages this. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Muslims are not suffering only in Burma."

He explained that recent government persecution of the Rohingya was a response to attacks on police stations by Rohingya militant groups. "Yet," he said, "nothing can justify what happened afterwards."

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16 Missionaries in our Families - Fr. M A Leo Anand SJ

posted Oct 26, 2017, 6:16 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 26, 2017, 6:16 PM ]

On this Mission Sunday, we gratefully think of all those self-transcended persons - starting from St Thomas the Apostle, who toiled for spreading the faith from far off countries - without whom we wouldn't have known Christ. And now the time has come when India is sending out missionaries to countries that once upon a time had sent missionaries to our land. We also feel that we need to do more in terms of evangelisation in our own context; not in terms of religious conversion, but spreading the fragrance of the Gospel - that is to live and witness the kingdom values.

The Church is missionary by nature, and Pope Francis (in his message on World Mission Day) underlines the mission at the heart of the Christian Faith. To support mission is not only sharing our material wealth, but the wealth of the gospel itself which has influenced and nourished us. Jesus proclaimed the good news as He began His public ministry. The same message of Jesus is proclaimed in and through our lives, in terms of faith taking its concrete actions in our life situations. It all starts from a personal witnessing to the gospel. We always think that being a missionary is to evangelise someone else. Personal transformation and witnessing is the first step to be a missionary. The world today teaches us to be more self-centred. Jesus always went about doing good to others. To transcend oneself is the primary step to be a missionary in our personal lives.

Secondly, people think that to become a missionary means to become a priest or a religious, and to be sent to a foreign land. What about being a missionary in a family? There is enough and more space in the domestic church - the family - to be evangelised by the witness of its own members. In fact, priests and religious come from families; they receive the call when they are in the families, and they respond to it as members of a family. Being a part of a Christian family invites us to respond, to imitate Jesus who grew up in a family, to be like Mary who surrendered herself to the plan of God and lived in a family. In today's context, where there are more threats to family life, it is necessary that each one in the family learns to become a missionary in his or her own family. 

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