Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 25 • JUN 23 - 29, 2018

01 Cover

posted Jun 20, 2018, 9:47 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 21, 2018, 11:28 PM ]


03 Index

posted Jun 20, 2018, 9:46 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 20, 2018, 9:47 AM ]


04 Engagements

posted Jun 20, 2018, 9:45 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 20, 2018, 9:45 AM ]


05 Editorial - India needs Christian Witness

posted Jun 20, 2018, 9:16 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 21, 2018, 11:30 PM ]

As we celebrate Laity Sunday, we once again take up the Call to Sainthood that Pope Francis gave us in his little treatise, 'Rejoice and be Glad'. Pope Francis says that the Lord wants us all to be saints, and not "settle for a bland mediocre existence." 'The only great tragedy in life is not to become a saint.'

While the Beatitudes, he says, are our "Christian Identity card", he offers certain qualities that he considers of particular importance in the light of dangers and limitations present in today's culture." I place before you three of them as your 'Christian Doctorate' - an acronym, P.H.D:

Today, we may hear youth saying, "I'll take a drop (from college studies)", a parent saying, "I am always taken for granted" or we notice our own fading effort to stand for what we believe to be truth. Perseverance, the pontiff says, "is only possible if we are solidly grounded in the God who loves and sustains us. This source of inner strength enables us to persevere amid life's ups and downs, but also to endure hostility, betrayal and failings on the part of others. "If God is for us, who is against us?" (Rom 8:31): this is the source of the peace found in the saints."

An SCC animator once mentioned to me how a particular parishioner, for over a year, wouldn't even open the door when she visited her, but later, through her caring perseverance, the parishioner and she became good friends. Her perseverance paid off.

Scripture scholars tell us that the Romans chose crucifixion for criminals, as it was not only the most painful way to put a person to death, but also the most shameful. The criminal had to walk through the streets carrying the cross, and when he was finally hung on it, he hung naked. That's the humiliation Jesus went through.

"Humility can only take root in the heart through humiliations. Humiliation ... is an unavoidable aspect of the imitation of Christ," says our Pope.

But it's not the stark situations of martyrdom, he reminds us, but daily humiliations we are called to face:

• when you choose the less welcome tasks to be done, and no one even notices it;
• when you prefer to praise others, rather than boast about yourself.

You will face humiliation when you smile at a difficult neighbour who deliberately looks the other side. What will you do at the next meeting?

"Complacency is seductive; it tells us that there is no point in trying to change things... because this is the way things have always been. By force of habit, we no longer stand up to evil. How often are we tempted to keep close to the shore! Yet, the Lord calls us to put out into the deep and let down our nets."

"God, who is eternal newness, constantly impels us to pass beyond what is familiar, to the fringes and beyond... where humanity is most wounded. Unafraid of the fringes, he himself became a fringe. (cf. Phil 2:6-8) So if we dare to go to the fringes, we will find him there."

I heard of the Daring Boldness of a parishioner who once witnessed an argument between a motorist and a rickshaw driver. A crowd gathered. As things started heating up, the rickshaw driver pulled out an iron rod from his vehicle to clobber the motorist. It was then that this parishioner, without thinking of his own safety, held back the rickshaw driver and brought the situation under control.

In situations like this, the Lord today once again speaks to us, "Do not be afraid." (Mk 6:50)

Mahatma Gandhi said, "If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, all of India would be Christian today." Today, more than ever, Indian needs Christian Witness, so that - taking a line from Mother Teresa - a Hindu may become a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim and a Christian a better Christian.

Fr Gerard Rodricks, sj has been involved with a number of programmes with and for laity.

06 Holiness and the Vocation of the Laity - Fr Anthony J Fernandes

posted Jun 20, 2018, 9:14 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 20, 2018, 9:15 AM ]

As is characteristic of Pope Francis, his latest document, the Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, has the practicality of daily life in mind: he simply wants to re-propose the call to holiness "for our own time". He explains that holiness lies at the heart of being a Christian, and it is not something high and unattainable. No, it can become visible in the most mediocre things. I found the various references to the fullness of life which God has created us for especially striking. I think it is a beautiful invitation to find our own path to holiness and follow Christ every day.

I believe holiness leads to the true vocation of the laity. The vocation of the laity in the Church is not pure activism, in the same way that "spiritual things" are not only for priests and men and women religious. The Christian experience of the laity is not reduced to encountering humanity. It takes place at the same time within an intimate encounter with God. The spiritual life that each baptised person is called to develop is not a running away from the world! It is essential to come back to the universal call addressed to all, and therefore to each faithful lay person, for this call implants its roots in Baptism and is strengthened by the other Sacraments. The baptised must therefore be a passionate person of God, ready to be a true witness at any time, and at any place.

The response to the call to holiness is not an abstract path, lost in the clouds. It is not a far-off and trivial desire. It is a true searching for the perfection of being, the fulfilment of the total person, such as God created him/her, such as God desires to see him/her fully develop. It is the search for true goodness for oneself, and also with and for others in a specific way; a goodness, a perfection that is found in authentic union with God and our brothers and sisters. Therefore, it is something very concrete that takes a lifetime and concerns all areas of life, not only what we strictly call 'spiritual life'. In the search for holiness, the Christian want to find his/her full development, his/her full accomplishment in conformity to Christ. The road is not easy. But it is essential to offer it as the heart of the Christian vocation from which all the rest follows, and to show that the journey on this path is not alone, but in solidarity, with Christ and with other baptised persons.

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07 LAITY and OLCM

posted Jun 20, 2018, 9:13 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 20, 2018, 9:13 AM ]

The Office for Lay Collaboration in Ministry (OLCM) was started in the Archdiocese of Bombay in 2004, as a result of the recommendations of the Bombay Archdiocesan Synod of 2001.

Diocesan-level activities

OLCM caters to the needs of the Associations and Cells of the Archdiocese of Bombay. This is done in a variety of ways: from organising and conducting a bi-annual training at parish level for the heads and assistant heads of Associations, Cells and Movements, to the publishing and circulation of a quarterly newsletter 'Cornerstones' that provides useful material for running one's group more effectively.

Since Laity Sunday 2007, a diocesan gathering of the heads and assistant heads of Associations and Cells is organised on that day to remind them of the fact that they are "One in Spirit, All in Service". Laity Sunday 2018 is centred on Pope Francis' Apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate - A Call to Holiness. The articles in The Examiner and the programme on Laity Sunday will expand on this theme.

On the same day, these heads and assistant heads are "installed" at the parish Mass. It is a way of acknowledging the role of the parish community vis-à-vis the Cells and Associations.

A parish-wise directory of Lay Heads of Associations and Cells is updated annually – a very useful database that gives one all the information across the archdiocese at a glance. It can be accessed on the OLCM website www.olcmbom.org

Guilds and Groups

Another initiative of the OLCM has been the gathering together of lay Catholic professionals from different walks of life – Lawyers, Secretarial & Administrative Professionals, Accounts & Finance Professionals, Human Resource professionals, Media personnel, School teachers, Social workers, etc. These gatherings have generated a lot of interest, and some of the groups meet on a monthly basis to share ideas and network more effectively. If you are interested in being part of one of these groups, write to contact@olcmbom.org for more details.

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09 Effective habits for Lay Animator - Fr Felix D'Souza

posted Jun 20, 2018, 9:11 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 20, 2018, 9:12 AM ]

Lay Animators (in Cells and Associations) are doing their best in pastoral ministry in spite of time constraints, non-cooperative attitude from some clergy/parishioners, family commitments and responsibilities. In spite of difficult and unfavourable circumstances, many lay animators carry on, persevering in their task and not readily giving into the temptation of "resigning". In ministries of the animating type, we are blessed in this archdiocese with a lot of "good willed" lay animators; thank God for their commitment and generosity... and yet, what is required, is that all become highly effective animators along with their "good will".

Stephen Covey, in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, speaks about seven principles capable of bringing about a shift in the way we view and do things. His other book Living the Seven Habits is a collection of stories of courage/inspiration capturing the essence of people's real-life experiences in applying the proven seven principles to solve problems and overcome challenges.

1. BE PROACTIVE

Being proactive is more than taking initiative. It is accepting responsibility and making choices. Lay animators need to make a choice that their work is going to bring about a change in the parishes. Proactive people are agents of change, and choose not to be reactive or blame others/situations. We need to fix the problem when it arises, not fix the blame. "It is not working", "no one wants it", "they are all so busy"... these may be the facts; but nothing happens by blaming others. By looking into what can be done (increasing the area of influence), lay animators can create change. Making choices that bring about change will be appreciated.

2. BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND

Organisations shape their own future by creating a vision for any project. They identify and commit themselves to the "end in mind". Parishes in our archdiocese have gone through the process of formulating a vision-mission statement, which simply means they have laid down what they would like the parishes to be five/ten years hence. Similarly, lay animators need to formulate what they would like to happen through the groups they are involved in—clearly marking out what are the two or three things they want to achieve in the next two or three years. It is only when they keep before them a vision (a desired change, which is reasonable and practical) that their work will be an effective one; otherwise, they will go on with their groups year after year, with the same routine activities and lukewarm response.

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10 SPIRITUALITY - Fr M.A. Leo Anand SJ

posted Jun 20, 2018, 9:10 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 20, 2018, 9:10 AM ]

We need to stand in a platform/a reference point to say what spirituality is and what it means. Where we stand reflects our own experience, which colours or stresses certain areas which have either influenced us or affected us in various ways. When we try to define spirituality, we need to consider our own existential nature and reality in relationship to God and the world. Spirituality cannot make sense in isolated terms, but in terms of relationality. In Christian terminology, we can say that this relationship with which we tend to define is the communion which is established with self, God and the world - the Koinonia, the other co-humans and the Nature and cosmos.

As theology would be a reflection and praxis of revelation, spirituality would mean a revisiting and reliving the purpose of revelation in the present context with a personal yes to a collective responsibility. As God continues to reveal in and through Creation, our personal responsibility is to look into it attentively and be a people of enlightenment. An authentic spirituality gives new life and meaning, here and now, in concrete realities.

Christian Spirituality has its roots in the person of Jesus and in the values of the Gospel. It is a wake up call to return to the roots of the Gospel in a more authentic way in one's life situations with practices and understanding, focusing on the Christ ways and teachings in the present context, according to the signs of the times. Thus, giving a new fragrance to the Gospel, it emerges as a spark and spreads across and attracts people who find meaning in this way of life and discipline.

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11 Grace is Enough… - Fr Ranson D'Souza SDB

posted Jun 20, 2018, 9:07 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 20, 2018, 9:08 AM ]

I have heard it said many times that if the whole Bible were to be summarised into a single verse, that verse would be John 3:16 – 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life.'

This inspired me to ask myself as to what would be one word that could summarise the entire Bible, and the answer that instantly came to me was GRACE. Thinking about this, I came up with an acronym of the word 'grace' which is:

G – Gift of God
R – Response to God
A – Activity for God
C – Communion with God
E – Eternal Life in God

G – Gift of God: Speaking about grace, St Therese of Lisieux says, 'Everything is Grace.' I say that our very life is a grace. Each one of us has received grace as a gift. We never asked for it, neither did we work for it. It is given to us as a sign of God's immense love for us.

(Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given, as Christ apportioned it.) 

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13 The small things of life - Janina Gomes

posted Jun 20, 2018, 9:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 20, 2018, 9:06 AM ]

For many years, I searched for happiness in elusive things. I was a good student, and so I always wanted to score well. When I joined sports activities, I wanted to excel. When I became a journalist, I wanted to hit the headlines with my stories. When I made friends, I wanted to be at the centre of attention. These and other elusive goals came and went like the wind. I found no lasting happiness in them.

Till, one day, I suddenly came across a self-help book which advised the young especially, to seek happiness in small things. That book changed my world. I now noticed how a simple smile brought cheer to others. Small acts of help and acknowledgment were most often appreciated. I learned to share and give, and derived much more happiness from giving rather than receiving.

Today, I am grateful for many more things that I simply overlooked in the past. I wake up in the morning and am thankful I am still alive. I watch the sunrise, and hearing all the sounds of Nature and Creation makes me joyful for being alive. I now live in a Home for senior citizens, so I am grateful for all the little services the nuns do for us. I no longer have to trudge to market everyday to fetch provisions and food items. I no longer have to cook, do scullery and spend my time cleaning the house, because the maid has not arrived.

And so I derive pleasure from small things. I often watch the birds, as they make their unhurried flight from branch to branch. I watch the tiny squirrels jump from tree to adjoining tree. I look at the green grass, so soothing to the eyes. I watch the flowers in full bloom – the bougainvillea and the Gulmohur trees; the latter are a glorious orange colour, and the former in shades of magenta and white. And I am simply glad to be alive.

From my room in the Home, I can look out to the small hills that have a green cover during the monsoons and winter, but are steadily being denuded for construction work. Within the enclosure of the Home, there are a variety of trees - mango trees, banana trees and swaying palms, a jasmine tree, drumstick trees. I try to increase my awareness of my surroundings by looking at them, identifying with them and feeling part of Mother Earth. Every one of these has become part of my being.

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