Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 47 - November 25 - December 01, 2017

01 Cover

posted Nov 23, 2017, 7:37 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 24, 2017, 2:29 AM ]

03 Index

posted Nov 23, 2017, 7:36 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 23, 2017, 7:36 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted Nov 23, 2017, 7:33 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 23, 2017, 7:33 AM ]

05 Editorial - Rule of His Reign - Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted Nov 23, 2017, 7:20 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 24, 2017, 2:30 AM ]

The liturgy of Christ the King does not call for a march of triumphalism or military grandeur to honour an imperious King. Rather, the Gospel of Matthew warns, challenges and comforts us to walk in the steps of Christ Our Lord, who comes as the suffering Servant, the Shepherd who lays down His life, and the Saviour who restores. The manner of the rule of His reign is His identification with the poor and service to the needy. Matthew defines the criteria that would enable us to enter into the Kingdom. Those who have been a blessing to others will receive the inheritance of the Kingdom of God.

For whom have the blessings of the kingdom been prepared by the Father before the foundations of the world? They are people who have responded with merciful love and generous hospitality to the needs of others, just as Jesus did. We see some of them telecast on our TV screens or read about them in the papers. But such people are also walking our streets in less spectacular and tragic circumstances.

The needs they meet are listed in the gospel: hunger, thirst, nakedness, sickness and imprisonment. These needs are representative, although not exhaustive, of universal pain and poverty. The surprise of the parable is the surprise of those on Christ's right-hand —the place of honour, and their emphasis on 'when was it that we saw you, Lord, in others?' Jesus' face is obscured by the faces of the suffering and vulnerable ones of the world, but He is there as the 'Emmanuel', God-with-us.

With those on the left hand of the Lord, their response has been a reverse image of those on the right. Again, there is an emphasis of seeing. They respond that they have never seen Jesus in any of the human suffering described. The judgment goes beyond the issue of whether one is a believer or non-believer; if one has not responded to human suffering, one has not responded to Christ. For those who have failed in seeing the needs of those who suffer, there is separation and exclusion from the kingdom of God. The commandment to love God and its 'like' command to love one's neighbour converge in Christological significance.

At the end of the Church's year, it would be helpful to judge ourselves in preparation for His Coming. How have we fed the hungry? Have we responded to appeals of help, especially in times of disaster or to service calls, not only in our parishes, but also to offering ourselves as food for those who hunger for friendship, for a listening ear and heart? Do we leave our relationships in bitter cold, rather than clothing them with the warmth of forgiving love? Are we ready to be Eucharistic people, broken and consumed by our service and sacrifice for others?

The homeless are on our streets, and refugees and asylum-seekers are seeking hospitality from oppression and injustice. Do we support those in a face-to-face ministry of encounter and solidarity? Have we stripped others naked by malicious gossip or failures in confidence? We are all prisoners in our own way to the reality of Sin. Some of us may minister with great compassion to those who are physically imprisoned, but in everyday life, do we try to lead each other into freedom, or lock one another out?

The passage of the gospel of Christ the King has often been captioned 'The Last Judgment', but in fact, the judgment has already been made—determined by the way we have responded or have failed to respond, with Christ-like mercy and hospitality to those in need during our lives. The message is at its clearest: what we do now is the judgment that we will hear at Christ's final coming.

06 Poor are not a Problem, but a Resource - Fr Billy Swan

posted Nov 23, 2017, 7:19 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 23, 2017, 7:19 AM ]

On November 19 this year, the thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary time, the Church marked the first World Day of the Poor. In highlighting his purpose for instituting the World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis said that: "The poor are not a problem; but a resource from which to draw as we strive to accept and practise in our lives the essence of the Gospel." Let us allow it to challenge us.

May it invite us to identify the poor living in our midst, to draw near to them, to encounter them, to embrace them and let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude. May we be good news for them and they be good news for us, so that together in the Body of Christ, we might grow in holiness, know our poverty and need for God.

"We may think of the poor simply as the beneficiaries of our occasional volunteer work or of impromptu acts of generosity that appease our conscience. However good and useful such acts may be for making us sensitive to people's needs and the injustices that are often their cause, they ought to lead to a true encounter with the poor and a sharing that becomes a way of life." (Message for the First World Day of the Poor, n. 3)

Although occasional acts of charity are good in themselves, we Christians cannot content ourselves with sporadic acts of charity towards the poor while remaining distant from their plight. If such a distance continues to exist, even if alms are given in good faith, the transformation of them and us will be minimal.

A few years ago, I travelled to Zambia in Africa to spend some time with a missionary order. It was the experience of a lifetime, stepping out into the unknown, and into another world very different to the one I had been used to. I knew it was going to be a challenge, but one I felt I needed at the time. We can so easy settle down in comfort zones where, intentionally or unintentionally, we rest smugly in safe spaces, remaining buffered from some of the major wounds that our human family bears.


07 Blessed are the Poor… - Bishop Allwyn D’Silva

posted Nov 23, 2017, 7:18 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 23, 2017, 7:18 AM ]

Lessons from the Poor

The World Day of the Poor, as announced by Pope Francis, is to be marked each year on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary time; this year, it was celebrated on Nov. 19. It focused on the Apostle John's call to love "not with words, but with deeds." Local churches should dedicate the week preceding the World Day of the Poor to creative initiatives fostering encounter, friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance, the papal message said. "Poverty has the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money," he said. "What a bitter and endless list we would have to compile were we to add the poverty born of social injustice, moral degeneration, the greed of a chosen few and generalised indifference."

My belief is that if you wear green lenses, you will see that everything is tinged green, hence we should look at the reality around us from the poor's perspective. The World Day of the Poor invites us to analyse the realities in the world from the side of the Poor.

My close encounters with the poor in several parishes that I served taught me some of life's lessons on poverty. The Poor have the following qualities that have taught me Gospel values.

Ability to Suffer – When we suffer setbacks in life, we consider it a very serious issue and may seek the help of a counsellor or a spiritual guide. However, the poor with very limited resources suffer silently, and eventually just adapt to the situation. They also have the ability to transform their lives from their experiences.

Hospitality – When we as priests visit well-to-do families, there is a lot of formality and we will be asked if we want tea, coffee or a cold drink. However, when visiting the homes of the poor, I experienced their spontaneity and generosity, as they will just offer whatever they have or can barely afford. This does not mean people with riches are bad. We have a good example in the Bible of Zacchaeus the tax collector, a rich man who sought the Lord. The Lord visited the home of Zacchaeus, who then had a change of heart, distributing half of his wealth to the poor.

Satisfaction – The poor are satisfied just fulfilling their basic needs and mostly radiate happiness. Some of us always want more, and our wants grow in leaps and bounds.


08 World Day of the Poor 2017

posted Nov 23, 2017, 7:16 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 23, 2017, 7:17 AM ]

A roundup of reports from across the archdiocese

On the month of June 2017, the OLCM (office for Lay Collaboration in Ministry) decided to publicise the Holy Father's letter for the first World Day of the Poor. Sessions were organised for the heads of Associations and Cells in several parishes between July to September 2017.

In October, OLCM members circulated e-flyers to various parishes, giving suggestions for the week preceding November 19. We have collated some of the reports of events organised in the parishes to mark the first World Day of the Poor.

Salvation Church, Dadar

The Salvation Church Ushers organised an Eye checkup camp (free of cost) for the parishioners on Nov. 19, in association with Aditya Jyot Foundation for Twinkling Eyes. Free spectacles were given; many parishioners and people of other faiths availed this free service.

Cajetan Braganza (a current IMFE Candidate) organised a joint programme with the SVP Conference on Nov. 19 for over 50 poor parishioners, concluding with lunch. Fr Melroy Mendonca was invited to share on the World Day of the Poor.

The Children's Parliament, along with its core team and the Parish priest, Fr Barthol Machado, visited the inmates of the Remand Home on Nov. 19. Around 350 inmates were entertained with action songs, games and a singsong session. Fr Barthol addressed the inmates, and said a short prayer in Hindi. It was a touching experience; some of the core team members were in tears when the young inmates sang a few emotion-packed songs. Packets containing a samosa, brownies, biscuits, jelly and chocolates were distributed to all the inmates. A few left over packets were distributed to the poor on the streets of the parish.

Sacred Heart Church, Worli

Vailankanni Zone members visited Asha Daan. In addition, they prepared and distributed food packets to poor families. The parish SVP Conference visited Asha Daan.

St Michael Church, Mahim

The parishioners took the opportunity to give back to the innocent and underprivileged children who live on the streets of the parish. The day started with Mass for the volunteers—the priests, nuns, PPC members, Sunday school teachers, members of the Focolare, Ashadeep Community Centre and the youth of the parish. Then 125 children and teenagers were welcomed, all dressed in their best, to spend Sunday morning with us. Our excitement grew as we saw the happiness on those faces.

They played a number of games, dancing, laughing and thoroughly enjoying the warmth. In the city where there is often friction between the poor and the middle class, we found ourselves living 'according to the ability of each' through our talents, seeing Jesus in one another. We discovered how easily some can hula-hoop, hit a paper ball on a target, dance to a common music playlist, or even jump rope.

When it was time for our new friends to leave, we sent them with a bag of goodies and a lot of blessings and love.

Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Orlem


10 The Paradox of Advent - Christopher Mendonca

posted Nov 23, 2017, 7:15 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 23, 2017, 7:15 AM ]

The history of Israel in the Old Testament

can be seen as a chronological listing of events

and it is often that we read it merely as a book of history

albeit, of God's chosen people.

In that sense, it is a history of failure.

God has flattered only to deceive.

Hidden in its pages, however

is another chronological listing,

one that often escapes our notice

and one that we are loathe to recognise.

It is a progressive state of "forgetfulness"

an increased sense of distraction,

a growing "unawareness" of the LORD's presence,

a progressive loss of vision.

The desert fathers often thought of this

as the "original sin",

so that in the words of Isaiah, it would seem that

"the Lord hid his face from us

and gave us up to the power of our sins."1

What makes Israel's history different from others

is the fact that it is congruent with a collective consciousness.

It is the awareness of an experience

that God has inserted himself into their history.

Their successes or failures will be measured

by their awareness or distraction from it.

Just like Israel, we too can view our lives

as a mere succession of events,

discreet from and unconnected to each other.

We can, however, like Israel in exile

choose to hear the invitation of the prophets

and return to a state of awareness

remembering that "God is at home, with us and within us;

it is we who have gone for a walk."2

"Gracious Lord, bring us back,

let your face shine on us and we shall be saved."3


11 From Small Steps to Giant Leaps - Fr Godfrey D’Sa, sdb

posted Nov 23, 2017, 7:13 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 23, 2017, 7:14 AM ]

Part II - The Golden Era of St Joseph High School, Wadala

In May 1962, Fr Victor D'Souza was appointed Vice-Principal. With his coming, began a new chapter in the development of the school. The neat and streamlined new wing of the building stands as an eloquent tribute to his vision and zeal. The foundation stone for the extension was laid by His Lordship Bp. Longinus Pereira in 1963. Within a year, the whole structure costing over Rs five lakhs (through generous donations and sponsorships) was completed, and the students moved into the classrooms by June 1964. June 1966 witnessed a radical change in the management of the school. Departing from the past practice of combining the offices of Principal and Parish Priest, the superiors appointed an independent Principal - Fr Joseph Menezes; Fr Fernandes continued as Parish Priest, and Fr Victor D'Souza as Vice-Principal. Under the stewardship of Fr Menezes, who devoted his every waking moment to the mission entrusted to him, the school continued to make rapid progress towards the goal of providing ideal conditions for the all-round education and uplift of the young. Nearly 1,500 boys were now seeking the light of knowledge under its roof.

The progress at St Joseph's should not be assessed merely in terms of construction of stone walls, acquisition of equipment and increase in the student population. Far from it! Under the able guidance of Fr Jos Menezes, St Joseph's established an enviable academic record; it consistently secured a very high percentage of success at the SSC examinations. Many students secured creditable ranks; in 1963, Rajiv Arora stood first among the candidates of Bombay city. In 1967, the Golden Jubilee of the school, the school secured 100 per cent success at the SSC exams; all the 69 students passed with flying colours.

St Joseph's has always laid stress on all-round formation: academics, discipline and moral formation, extra-curricular activities. The Poor Boys' Fund, Students' Saving Bank, Art and Literary Circles, Junior Red Cross, Boy Scouts and Cubs, Civic Committee, Traffic Patrol, Medical Unit, Science Club, Philatelic Club, Social Service League, supervised evening study classes were some activities that became part of the set up at St Joseph's High School. Sports also found a prominent place in the programme of activities. Inter-class and inter-house competitions, indoor and outdoor games were regularly organised. Some of our students represented Maharashtra State in Table Tennis and Basketball. Fr Jos Menezes also began the Past Pupils' Association and the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), both of which made major efforts to collect funds for the many activities and programmes held in the Jubilee year.


14 Book Reviews

posted Nov 23, 2017, 7:12 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 23, 2017, 7:12 AM ]

Infinite Power – Bible Gems for Daily Life DMin.

By Dr Fio Mascarenhas SJ (Published by Catholic Bible Institute, Mumbai, September 2017, Rs 150)

"Facebook is the 'new church'," claimed Mark Zuckerberg a few months ago when Facebook crossed 2 billion users. Well, while I found the announcement interesting, being a catechist and pastoral lay worker, I found it even more 'insightful', as he claimed people could now find the "purpose and support" online that previous generations found by going to church. And then as I sigh (Romans 8:26), I feel the need, probably more than ever before, to go back to basics: Rooted in the 'Word and Sacraments'; in relationship with the One Holy Triune God. And then comes along this book from the "expert in pastoral biblical spirituality"(as designated by Benedict XVI in his invitation to participate in the 2008 Synod of Bishops in Rome), the well-known Jesuit, Fr Fio Mascarenhas.

In a lucid and profound manner, Fr Fio communicates some of the most dynamic Bible gems which are absolutely fundamental for a Christian's identity and daily practice of discipleship – with specific sections on "Abba Father" (my personal favourite is the Practical Lesson#3 which deals with Divine-Human Partnership in linking the first two chapters of Genesis and the last two of Revelation).


The Challenges of Catholic Education in India Perspectives

Compiled and edited by Janina Gomes

The book is compiled of 22 articles by well-known writers and educators. Compiling and editing such a book is a tedious task, requiring a determined and painstaking editor. Janina Gomes has shown herself equal to the task. The writers have shared their expertise and experience in a variety of areas in the vast field of the contribution made by the Christian community to the educational apostolate in India. One is indeed amazed at the immensity and intensity of this apostolic task. The value of a book of this type may not necessarily lie in the high and uniform quality of the articles, but in the genuine impression given to the reader of the value and depth of the educational work of the self-sacrificing missionaries, priests, religious and lay. Just for this purpose, the book is well worth reading.

As a reviewer of the book, it may not be proper for me to pass judgment on each and every article. My ability for judging quality is limited by my own competence, experience and interest in certain very limited areas in the vast field of education. However, I would like to refer to certain articles which I found particularly inspiring and worth recommending to all kinds of readers. Article 7 - 'Church's Contribution to Education in Rural India' and Article 8 - 'Reach Education Action Programme (Reap)' - describe work done to face the challenge of educating the children of the very poor. Article 7 deals with the educational and other forms of uplift of the Dalits in Ahmednagar District and Tribals in Talasari. Article 8 takes on the children of pavement dwellers in Mumbai. I was inspired by the initiative and educational creativity of the persons involved.


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