Vol. 167 No. 18 - April 30 - May 06, 2016
The memorial of St Joseph the Worker, hailing him as model for all workers, is a legacy given to us by Pope Pius XII on May 1, 1955, as his entire life highlights the Christian understanding of the concept of labour in terms of the positive value and divine dimension of any human endeavour. The purpose of this celebration was to give a Christian alternative to the Communist May Day observances that accented the oppressive and exploitative aspect of labour, calling for division and ongoing conflict between polarised segments of society.
Is it possible to think that Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin and foster father of our Lord, is suited to be a patron of a 21st century person, living in an age of advanced technology? The life of the foster father of Jesus and husband of Mary, demonstrated the meaning and value of labour as a refugee carpenter, even in dire indigence, more by his honest, humble and honourable work in terms of the growth of our human potential, harmonious relationships of service, and above all, the deepening of our spiritual life in God.
The pages of the Bible tell us little about Joseph. But they tell us enough to know something of our heavenly patron and protector of the Universal Church. He spoke by the noble actions of his life. In Saint Joseph, the carpenter, it is evident that God, in His providence, chose him to cooperate in His work of continued creation and plan of salvation as the father, teacher and protector of Jesus our Saviour.
The Church, by honouring St Joseph the Worker, invites us to appreciate labour and work, in being faithful and diligent to the call of our vocation. We realise that we are not just here to waste time and to cut corners in the tasks entrusted to us. We have a unique role to play; we have contributions to make in our world. Through emulating the stewardship of Joseph, we show the highest accountability for all the talents and abilities that nature and education have endowed us. We have to not only make a living, but meet the needs of others, without endangering the ecology of the planet of our existence.
Granted, a nation must have greatness of spirit and pioneers of technology who will lead it toward new goals. Just as much, if not more so, however, a nation needs men and women of enduring performance of duty, of clearheaded loyalty, of discipline of heart and body.
An authentic spirituality of work, displayed by the role of St Joseph in Scripture, encourages all to see their labour not as drudgery or a burden and cause for labour unrest, but as an opportunity for service to God, to family, to co-workers, to our communities, to our nation and to our world. The working people of the world have a model in him who cooperated with God's work of Salvation.
St Joseph the Worker is the patron saint for workers, precisely because, in that they are affirmed in their dignity as working persons, they are also reminded to be faithful in their responsibilities, not only to society in general, but above all to their respective families and especially to God whom they worship and believe.
Of St Joseph the Worker, it could be said: "Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord." Who can doubt that this man is a good patron for us? This man of humility, this man of silent performance of duty, of honest righteousness and piety, this man who was charged with protecting the grace of God in its embodied life and in His Mystical Body – the Church.
A Catholic spirituality of work, while insisting on the fundamental rights for workers as persons created in the image of God, also insists on specific responsibilities. Through our work, God intends each of us to provide the means for our own livelihood and that of those entrusted to our care — spouses, children, elderly parents, members of our extended family. God intends also that our work serve the members of the larger human family — our neighbours in our communities, our nation and the world.
As important as these duties are, our daily work has a far greater meaning in God's plan. By means of our work, we are to achieve the holiness for which we were created. He has given us the goods of the earth and the strength - physical, mental and spiritual - to work with these goods in fashioning a world fit for creatures made in the divine image. We must respond to that call with "faith working through love. At minimum, this means that no matter what work we do, we may never take it lightly or perform our tasks with mediocrity. To the contrary, the only appropriate response to God's call and gifts is work well done, with all the creativity, industriousness and virtue that we can muster.
The vocation proper to lay people... is to make their way to God while doing this world's work... to bring glory to God and the reign of Christ in and through that work. Through work, each of us is to make our way to God. But our individual labours do not only concern us. We work with others, for others, and in the service of God's saving plan, that His kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven. We are each given "the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all men of each epoch and in every land."
Experts from around the world gathered on April 20, 2016 in Rome to highlight the importance of and take on a dialogue about Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum, marking the 125th anniversary of the first modern social encyclical.
The "Freedom With Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of Our Time" conference was organised by the Acton Institute, an international ecumenical think-tank dedicated to the intersection of the theology and economic, along with other co-sponsors, including Dignitatis Humanae Institute, a pro-life think-tank based in Rome.
Experts on Catholic social teaching gathered at a private conference centre below the Pontifical Gregorian University together to look at the ground-breaking encyclical. Among the speakers, mostly European, were Rev. Prof. Wojciech Giertych, theologian of the papal household; Bishop Dominque Rey, Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France; Bishop Kęstutis Kėvalas, Archdiocese of Kaunas, Lithuania; Rev. Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute; Dr Rocco Pezzimenti, professor of political philosophy and history of political thought, LUMSA, Rome; Dr Manfred Spieker, professor of Christian social ethics, University of Osnabrück, Germany.
Known for its strong stand against socialism, defence of private property, and affirmation of the legitimacy of trade unions, Rerum Novarum, the speakers agreed, also represented the beginning of modern Catholic Social Teaching.
But Pope Leo's encyclical on 'revolutionary things,' many noted, also had much to say about the demands for freedom and social justice in the late 19th century as an increasing number of people became focused upon what was called "the social question."
During the conference, many bishops and intellectuals from Europe and America addressed topics such as: Pope Leo's attempt to revive the thought of Aquinas, the continuing importance of religious, economic and political freedom, the State's role in a global economy, and socialism's resurgence today.
In just a few minutes, your Bishop, and after him, the Presbyterium of this Archdiocese and other priests will lay hands on each of you. The solemn prayer of Ordination is then said, and there will be a total transformation in you. You will be transformed from 'Brother' to 'Father', from 'Deacon' to 'Priest'. You will receive the tremendous power of changing bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ; to forgive sins big and small, and to bring God's mercy to men and women. From being a seminarian, you will suddenly be catapulted into being a representative of Christ Himself, an alter Christus.
My dear Ordinandi, you will understand what I am saying from this very evening itself after the Ordination Mass, and gradually as you get into ministry. What an awesome change and what a transformation! The preparation for this transformation went on through the years of your Seminary studies, through the hard work put in by the Rector and Staff of St Pius X College. May I take this opportunity to personally and most warmly thank your Rectors, and through them, each of your Professors. Bishop John Rodrigues, Bishop Agnelo Gracias, and Fr Harold Vaz, Thank you! You, my dear Seminarians, yourselves know what efforts they have made through the years to give you good spiritual, academic and pastoral formation, and at the same time, gently helping you grow in your human qualities. I myself have sat with them for some meetings, and have observed how much effort is put to continuously improve our seminary formation.
But there is another transformation that I want to speak to you about this evening. A transformation that depends much on you, the big contributors being your family, your school, your parish, your companions in the Seminary, and so many others who influenced you and helped in your growth. I am speaking of the transformation of your hearts to become authentic and genuine ambassadors of Christ – the transformation of your hearts to become merciful and compassionate: hearts filled with Jesus' values of love, forgiveness and reaching out to those in need.
Many of us cannot forget the Mumbai hooch tragedy in June 2015, that resulted in more than 150 deaths. It is just one of the many consumer-related mishaps that continues to haunt us and remind us that lack of safety in the unorganised sector is one of the biggest threats to our society. The ill-effects of poor health have a worse impact on the poorer sections of society, as was seen in this episode. Several goods that are consumed by the masses have no reliable quality checks. In the quest for keeping prices low, these goods are made of sub-standard material, and have poor or no quality controls. When the principal method of keeping prices affordable for the consumer is to bypass the taxation cycle, it is inevitable that quality and reliability will be compromised.
Corruption, like a disease, needs to be combated by a combination of cure (punishment) as well as prevention (reducing the causes). Economic development helps to make standardised goods more affordable by increasing income rather than reducing prices – and it works like prevention. The adoption of standards and regulations make it easier to track the purchase of materials, to control its proper use and to check for quality. Although this aspect is not the focus of media attention, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will go a long way in ensuring exactly that.
GST, when it is introduced, will consolidate all current indirect taxes charged on the manufacture and distribution of goods and services in India, regardless of where they are produced or consumed. These taxes include Customs Duty, Excise Duty, Octroi, Sales Tax, Service Tax, Education Cess and Surcharges levied by both the State and Central Governments. Currently, there could be multiple layers of taxation on the same items.
This little piece is being written with reference to the Catholic schools in our Archdiocese. Thoughts have been put down as an aid to any deliberations that may be undertaken to evaluate whether a particular Institution has lived up to its Vision. These discussions should involve the whole academic body – management, teachers, parents and students.
First and foremost, it would be necessary to determine whether the school has measured up to being a Catholic Institution. The Document of the Congregation for Catholic Education titled The Catholic School at the threshold of the Third Millennium says: "It is opportune to devote careful attention to certain fundamental characteristics of the Catholic school, which are of great importance if its educational activity is to be effectual in the Church and in society. Such are: the Catholic School as a place of integral education of the human person through a clear educational project of which Christ is the foundation; its ecclesial and cultural identity; its mission of education as a work of love; its service to society; the traits which should characterise the educating community." These fundamental characteristics are clarified and amplified in the Document cited above, as well as in another document of the Sacred Congregation termed The Catholic School. With special reference to the Indian context, we also have a well spelt-out Vision, Mission and Goals in the CBCI Document labelled the 'All India Catholic Education Policy 2007'.
Of course, the 64-dollar question is whether these documents are familiar, or at least, available in the library of the School? It can surely be assumed that these seminal documents go into the make-up of all Catholic School principals, and as such, our principals can confidently take up the work of evaluation that is being proposed. A task-force can be organised to plan out the nitty-gritty – topics, participants, time, planning.
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