Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 49 - December 09 - December 15, 2017


01 Cover

posted Dec 7, 2017, 7:07 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 7, 2017, 7:07 AM ]


03 Index

posted Dec 7, 2017, 7:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 7, 2017, 7:06 AM ]


04 Engagements

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


05 Editorial - Radical Repentance - Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted Dec 7, 2017, 7:02 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 7, 2017, 7:02 AM ]

As we move along our Advent journey towards preparing for the coming of the Lord into our life, our humanity and our community, the motifs and reminders are increasing. We have the familiar nativity scene with figures of the Infant Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and also shepherds, cattle, the wise men and farm animals. Even figures of our popular culture have slipped into the picture: Santa and elves, Rudolph and other reindeer, the little drummer boy, Frosty the snowman, and other glitzy secular symbols. But the person crucial to an honest preparation for Christmas is missing.

The great missing person from the preparation for Christmas is John the Baptist. We do not receive many Christmas cards or carols with John the Baptist's words about repentance on them. But the Church places him at the very centrestage on the Second Sunday of Advent, because John the Baptist is the very voice of Advent—the voice that points to the coming of the Lord Jesus to transform our life. His message and lifestyle is a cry to radical repentance.

The message of John the Baptist to all of us is to 'Prepare the Way of the Lord'. The kind of preparation about which He speaks is not found in shopping malls; it is the much deeper preparation of our life and for Christ's entry into our hearts. St John the Baptist went before the Lord, and prepared His way and made His path straight. He is our model as witnesses to Jesus the Christ; we have to create a path for Jesus to enter our world, and we have to remove the obstacles we place, both as a community and as individuals, to Him being recognised in our world today.

The ministry of John the Baptist focuses on the Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The gratitude of receiving forgiveness is to try to do better in life – to move on from this sinfulness and meanness to a life of care, compassion, love and joy. It is a call and a challenge to forgive others. The key element in John the Baptist's preaching was to prepare a distinct community for the last times, that would observe the Law to survive the Day of Judgment on the final coming of the Lord. His message of Salvation was communitarian, and the new way of living was corporate.

With His coming into the world, Jesus enhances John's message of the new community of the last times, to the New Israel – a community of faith, hope and love. But unlike John, this New Israel is not the group that must survive the wrathful judgment, but the new People who can keep the Law in spirit and truth, and who can rejoice because the Father loves them. By contrast, this picture of the 'new people' is defined by Jesus' baptism, where He is called 'My beloved Son'.

To welcome Jesus, we must become the new community, the new People of God, the holy royal, priestly people of our Baptism. This means a whole new vision of what it is to be a Christian, abandoning any self-righteous system of salvation. How necessary is Advent hope for us Christians! A hope that does not come from natural optimism nor false illusion, but from God Himself.

The world we live in, is lacking in peace and harmony, in justice and love. Make way therefore for god to come into our lives, to remove the obstacles and impediments, to tear down rather than build up walls, to clear out old animosities and grievances, to cut back the weeds of doubt and greed, not just to make a nice little bed for the new-born babe, but to open up our lives with advent hope in his transforming grace.

06 Pope Francis' 21st Foreign Visit

posted Dec 7, 2017, 7:00 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 7, 2017, 7:00 AM ]

Pope Francis concluded his 21st foreign visit as he flew back to Rome from Dhaka airport on Saturday, December 2, 2017. The Pope was given an official farewell at Dhaka airport, where the Minister for Foreign Affairs was present to see him take off on a Bangladesh Airlines aircraft on his flight back to Rome.

‎The Pope was in Myanmar from Nov. 27-30, after which he visited neighbouring Bangladesh, Nov. 30 to Dec. 2. ‎While Myanmar's over 51 million population is nearly 90 per cent Buddhist, where Catholics form only 1.2 per cent, in neighbouring Bangladesh, Muslims account for nearly 90 per cent of the population, and Catholics less than 1 per cent.

The purpose of this two-nation apostolic visit was not only to confirm the faith of the tiny Catholic communities in the two Asian nations, but also to carry Christ's message of reconciliation, forgiveness, peace and harmony among the people for the common good. And that is what the logos and themes of the two visits indicated. The theme of the Pope's Myanmar visit was 'Love and Peace', and for Bangladesh - 'Harmony and Peace'. The Pope also encouraged ecumenical and interfaith cooperation in order to be a prophetic and healing presence in the life of the nation.

In both the nations, the Catholic communities are active, especially in their outreach programmes for the poor and needy, which the Pope commended and encouraged. The Pope delivered eight discourses and three homilies, celebrating two Masses in Myanmar, and another Mass in Bangladesh with priestly ordination.


MYANMAR

During his visit to Myanmar, the Pope met popular leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as the President and the top military general, in the backdrop of an international outcry against the atrocities on the Rohingya Muslims of Rakhine state who are fleeing to Bangladesh. The Holy Father however, respected the government's request not to use the word 'Rohingya', who are denied citizenship.

Meeting Myanmar's state authorities, leaders of civil society and the diplomatic corps in Nay Pyi Taw, he encouraged the nation on the "arduous process of peace-building and national reconciliation," saying it can be achieved only through a "commitment to justice and respect for human rights," a process in which religious leaders have a crucial role to play.

In Yangon, the Pope met Buddhist leaders and local bishops, but above all, he went to meet ordinary Catholics, who travelled from all over the country to attend an open-air Mass.

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07 Rebuilt, Renewed and Refined - Christopher Mendonca

posted Dec 7, 2017, 6:59 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 7, 2017, 6:59 AM ]

Hidden in the call of David through the prophet Nathan

to build a temple for the LORD

is the call to enshrine and give permanence

to His presence in their midst.

But while the Temple is built and becomes the glory of Israel,

the covert message of the invitation is soon forgotten.

It is not long before Israel loses its glory,

the Kingdom is divided, the Temple destroyed,

and Israel goes into exile.

The rebuilding of the Temple after the exile

arouses an enthusiasm that soon begins to wane.

It is the prophet Malachi who foretells

the coming of the Lord's messenger

whose prime task will be to purify what has been defiled.

"He is like the refiner's fire and the fuller's alkali."1

The benchmark for the silversmith, as he refines the silver,

is his ability to see more and more clearly his image in it.

The Psalmist alludes to the WORD of the Lord being without alloy,

like silver in the furnace seven times refined.2

Centuries later, the Angel Gabriel announces

that this process has indeed been completed to perfection.

He visits one among us, chosen by God,

a nondescript Jewish maiden who nonetheless,

filled with the Holy Spirit,

embodies in her womb the WORD of God made flesh,

the perfect image of the Father.

In her, the Temple has been revealed in all its glory.

John the Baptist, like the prophet Malachi,

comes to remind us that it is not enough to rebuild,

still less to outwardly restore and renew,

unless we are willing to be refined as well.

The dross must be burned in the furnace.

The temple of self-aggrandizement

that we have carefully constructed

must be replaced.

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08 The most popular shrine in the world! - Dr Renu Rita Silvano, OCV, STD

posted Dec 7, 2017, 6:57 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 7, 2017, 6:58 AM ]

The Marian shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe (Feast Day - December 12) is the most popular shrine in the whole world, drawing over 15,000 people daily (about 7 million annually); much more than Lourdes and Fatima combined! Moreover, even modern science agrees that the Blessed Virgin left behind a miraculous Image of herself at her last apparition to the middle-aged widower, St Juan Diego (Feast Day - December 9).

It happened in 1531, just 40 years after Columbus discovered America, on a hill called Tepeyac, which today is a part of Mexico City. The Virgin appeared four times to Juan Diego, on December 9, 10 and 12. At the last apparition, a most beautiful full-length picture of Mary appeared miraculously on the coarse tilma (shawl) in which he was wrapped. As a result, eight million Aztec Indians were baptised within the next seven years, manifesting Mary as truly the 'Star of Evangelisation', and leading to the greatest popular devotion to any apparition of Mary in the whole world. The holy Image is mounted behind glass on the wall behind the main altar of the New Basilica (visited thrice by St John Paul II, and by Pope Benedict, and Pope Francis).

The tilma, made of frail cactus fibre, which should have crumbled long ago, bears the same clear Image today, as it did in 1531. It is the very same shawl-like garment worn by Juan Diego on that memorable day, and its coarse weave contains no sizing (varnish), which is absolutely necessary to paint such a delicate image. A long seam runs the length of the tilma near the centre, neatly missing the face, and holding the two pieces of cloth together by a slender thread. It is 66 x 41 inches in size, with the image of Mary 56 inches high. Strangely, it appears much larger from a distance, and the colours which at close range seem faded, are also vigorous and fresh when viewed at a distance! Scientific efforts to duplicate it have seen the cactus fibres disintegrating after seven years, with the colours changed and deteriorated. Nitric acid was accidentally spilled on the Image in 1778, but to everyone's astonishment, it was protected from damage. Even worse, a powerful bomb was secretly, but deliberately, burst by the Communists under the Image in 1921, and it bent a large bronze crucifix like a bow, but Our Lady's glass was not even cracked! Also, no matter what the surrounding temperature is, the Image itself remains at the normal human body temperature, 98.6 degrees F.

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10 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

posted Dec 7, 2017, 6:56 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 7, 2017, 6:56 AM ]

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948 (General Assembly Resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected, and it has been translated into over 500 languages.

Preamble

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world; whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief, and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people; Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law; Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations; Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom; Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms; Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realisation of this pledge, Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves, and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1

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12 Waiting on the Lord! - Deacon Sylvester Lobo

posted Dec 7, 2017, 6:54 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 7, 2017, 6:55 AM ]

A glimpse of what permanent deacons are doing in the Archdiocese of Bombay 

Advent is an opportune time to have a glimpse of what permanent deacons are doing in the archdiocese, because their main mission is to wait on the Lord, and serve Him and His people, wherever they are posted. All credit goes to Oswald Cardinal Gracias, the guiding force, who took forward the vision of the late Ivan Cardinal Dias, who began the diaconate in the archdiocese in the year 2006. Since then, 17 persons have been ordained as permanent deacons, and six candidates are in formation. Fr Gilbert D'Lima who is the Vice-President of the International Diaconate Centre and director of the archdiocesan Commission for the Permanent Diaconate (CPD) says, "The deacons are a blessing for the diocese, because wherever they are posted, they are making a difference with their servanthood to the parish/institution and the people around."

The commitment of deacons is seen from the very start, when they are selected after going through rigorous rounds of interviews with authorities, as they have to undergo a full-time formation of five years, which includes

one year of philosophy and orientation, then four years of theology with priestly candidates at St Pius X Seminary, Goregaon. "During their academic formation, the candidates of permanent diaconate are also called to do pastoral ministry on weekends, because we want to assess their ability to integrate studies with the actual ministry that they will do once they are ordained," points out Fr Stephen Fernandes, Professor of Moral Theology and secretary of CPD.

Deacons at the Service of Community

"There have been times when we needed someone with whom our community members could talk to, someone with whom they could share their joys as well as their concerns, someone from whom they could seek guidance materially and spiritually. Deacon Inacin has filled up this slot very aptly," says Francis Rodrigues, parishioner of Good Shepherd Church, Andheri West. Wherever they are posted, deacons are making earnest efforts to grow, gaining the "smell of the sheep," so that they are one in the joys and sorrows of people of the parish.

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14 Notes & Comments

posted Dec 7, 2017, 6:35 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 7, 2017, 6:35 AM ]

Pope Francis: We've reached an ethical limit to nuclear weapons

cna

Aboard his flight from Bangladesh to Rome on Dec. 2, Pope Francis said that the destructive potential of nuclear weapons is so great that humanity has reached the limit of morally possessing them or using them as deterrents.

The Pope's comments were made during an in-flight press conference during his return flight from an apostolic trip to Burma (now known as Myanmar) and Bangladesh from Nov. 27 to Dec. 2.

Asked if something has changed since the time of the Cold War, when many world leaders considered nuclear weapons a useful and ethically acceptable deterrent to war, Pope Francis stated that he thinks the rationality of the claim has changed. He noted that the number of nuclear arms continues to grow, becoming more sophisticated and more powerful, and those factors change the consideration.

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Pope Francis' legacy —a trace of mercy in a Buddhist country

Agenzia Fides

Pope Francis left an evangelical trace of compassion and mercy in a majority Buddhist country. The Burmese population clearly perceived his message of peace and reconciliation: this is what remains of Pope Francis' visit to Myanmar, according to leaders and faithful Catholics who participated and followed the various moments of the apostolic visit.

Joseph Kung Za Hmung, lay Catholic, founder of the Catholic service of mass media and web Gloria TV said: "There is an enthusiastic climate in the Catholic community today. We are really happy for this historic event. The small Burmese Church really felt supported and encouraged by the Pope, who came to visit a suburb. Above all, young people were in particular affected by his closeness. They are our hope, and the whole Burmese Church will benefit from this renewed enthusiasm, in giving the country the Gospel of reconciliation, healing and peace."

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75 Glorious Years
MRS KAMLA N DESOUZA, EX-SUPERVISOR

The twenty-fifth of November, 2017 was a red letter day for Our Lady of Dolours High School, as it ushered in the Platinum Jubilee with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The whole atmosphere was electrifying. The Principal, Sr Josephine, welcomed the congregation to this memorable occasion. There was a prayer dance by the Dolerites.

Bishop Dominic Savio Fernandes, an ex-student, celebrated the Eucharist along with the concelebrants Fr Ernest Fernandes, Fr Joe D'Souza and Fr Epiphany Castell. Bishop Dominic Savio gave an inspiring homily, while recalling his school days. The Prayer of the faithful and offertory procession was led by teachers and ex-students of all faiths. The Mass ended with a thanksgiving prayer, a vote of thanks and cutting of the cake by all the religious and the teachers. There was a PowerPoint presentation by the Principal on the activities of the school and its requirements.

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Power of the Media
Nicola Joseph

"What do you expect from a Presstitute"—a Minister from the BJP regime tweeted, back in 2015, reducing the media to a vulgar, derogatory moniker; sensationalisation of news, incorporating bias and establishing misleading propaganda at the expense of a "populist government."

Thus began a reign of repression and censorship of content, the likes recorded during the 1975 emergency, but all this paranoia of purging anti-national thought has left us to question, 'How much power is really left with the media?'

It has been an action packed year for the Indian economy, to say the least.

Demonetisation, Surgical Strikes, GST, Swachh Bharat, pluses (as reported by the mainstream media) of the Modi government, marketed under a global campaign of 'Make-in-India', promoted by trending hashtags on social media platforms, shared by leading news channels and newspapers and made viral by waving the national flag's patriotic facade, to preserve the credibility of India for global investors.

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