Vol. 167 No. 38 - September 17 - September 23, 2016
September 1 was marked as the 'World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation' by the Catholic Church along with their Orthodox brothers and sisters, and with the support of other Churches and Christian communities. Pope Francis in his message 'Show Mercy to our Common Home', states, "This Day offers individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their
personal vocation to be stewards of Creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which He has entrusted to our care, and to implore His help for the protection of Creation, as well as His pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”
In his message for this day, Pope Francis declares that "Global warming continues, due in part to human activity. The 2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events. Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world's poor, though the least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact."
The Holy Father embraces the environmental cause, not the other way round. He does not dabble in earth-worship or human bashing. He keeps concern for the human person at the centre of his focus and calls environmental degradation by its proper, Christian name: sin.
"During this Jubilee Year, let us learn to implore God's mercy for those sins against Creation that we have not hitherto acknowledged and confessed. Let us likewise commit ourselves to taking concrete steps towards ecological conversion, which requires a clear recognition of our responsibility to ourselves, our neighbours, Creation and the Creator."
The Pope commends us to start with an examination of conscience which, he says, "involves 'gratitude and gratuitousness, a recognition that the world is God's loving gift, and that we are called quietly to imitate His generosity in self-sacrifice and good works. ... It also entails a loving awareness that we are not disconnected from the rest of creatures, but joined in a splendid universal communion. Believers, we do not look at the world from without but from within, conscious of the bonds with which the Father has linked us to be merciful to all beings,' as our heavenly Father is.
Inserting care for Creation into the works of mercy is a stroke of genius, in both directions. The Pope writes, "We usually think of the works of mercy individually and in relation to a specific initiative: hospitals for the sick, soup kitchens for the hungry, shelters for the homeless, schools for those to be educated, the confessional and spiritual direction for those needing counsel and forgiveness. ... But if we look at the works of mercy as a whole, we see that the object of mercy is human life itself, and everything it embraces."
It would not really be Pope Francis, if he did not challenge the powerful. After praising the Paris Accords, he states, "Now governments are obliged to honour the commitments they made, while business must also responsibly do its part. It is up to citizens to insist that this happen, and indeed to advocate for even more ambitious goals."
Will we see if our political communities step up to the plate and keep the pressure on to deliver on the promises made in Paris? Will we take necessary steps towards reducing our carbon footprint?
Pope Francis, even in a short text like this, continues to demonstrate his pitch-perfect singing of God's praises and proclaiming the Gospel to an age that needs the Gospel more than ever, but doesn't know it.
Certainly, no person on the planet has done more to focus the moral energies of our faith on the need to care for our common home.
Extracts: CNS & NCR reports
On September 4, 2016, Pope Francis canonised Mother Teresa. She had already earned a spontaneous acclaim from common people throughout the world, who called her “the Saint of the gutters”. She literally went out searching in the gutters (where people throw litter/trash) for those who were breathing their last. She knew that she could not do much for them, but she said to herself: “at least, let them die in dignity as angels”! Last year, during my visit to Varanasi, I spent an afternoon on the banks of the river Ganges. The Missionaries of Charity (the Religious Order founded by Mother Teresa has a huge house for those devout Hindus who come to die there). The old and the dying are often left there by their children, so that when the hour of their death comes, they would die there, and become one with the holy waters of the Ganges. The Sisters of Mother Teresa pick these helpless old and dying, bring them in the “home” and lovingly take care of them (400 at a time) until they die. Once dead, the Sisters then bring the dead to the Hindu priests, so that the desired rituals are performed on them, according to their expressed wishes.
Yes, Mother Teresa has deservedly been declared a saint. What will follow? Will we see a number of parishes named after her? Will institutions take pride in being named after her? Will we have a spate of devotions seeking her help in one way or the other? Will we witness a surge of admissions into the Order of the Missionaries of Charity? While all these “after-effects” are good, they certainly do not measure up to the canonisation and the outreach of Pope Francis as being a “sign of the times”, a wake-up call for the Church in this day and age.
If the Church is to continue heeding the call of Jesus to be a credible bearer of the Good News, if the disciples of Jesus are to be evangelisers who can be relevant to the crises of our time, they must be able to understand what the lives of Teresa and Francis are spelling out, and thus be better equipped to meet the many demands of people today. Both emphasise that we have to move out of our comfort zones and move into where the deprived, the disconsolate, the rejected live and have their being. Both stress that we cannot be true followers of Jesus, if we do not heed the fundamental message of the Incarnation- God so loved the world that He truly and lovingly became one with a humanity that was poor, oppressed and looked down upon.
A saint of darkness is a paradox indeed! However, those are not my words, but the written words of Mother Teresa about herself: "If I ever become a saint, I will surely be one of ‘darkness’. I will continually be absent from Heaven – to light the light of those in darkness on earth.”
Mother Teresa was recognised as a saint, even when she walked on this earth till 19 years ago. She has been the contemporary of most of the living population today. We have seen her. We have heard her. We have been touched by her life. We have also seen, heard about, read and perhaps experienced so much of the darkness in our modern world, both in the twentieth century and the current one: the two World Wars, the innumerable genocides, infanticides, gas chambers, solitary confinement of political prisoners, racial violence, the explosion of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, totalitarian regimes which deny human rights and liberties, utter poverty and deaths resulting from it, murders and rapes, breakdown of families, child abuse, and the constant threat of terrorism with the rise of hatred. The list is not exhaustive. Name it, and you have it. This is not cynicism or pessimism, but the stark reality of darkness in our times. And yet, there is light, hope and a future!
The year was 1984.. The season, Spring.. the month: May, when Mother Nature adorns the Earth with her beauty and bounty. Flowers bloomed in abundance.. but to me the world was grey.. filled with overcast clouds of doom and uncertainty! My husband Robby was scheduled to undergo a Four Bypass Major Open Heart surgery in London. In those days.. the very thought of a heart surgery was like having the sword of Damocles dangling over one’s head.
Three days before our departure, Robby returned from Vile Parle, where he had gone to fuel the car at the Petrol Pump on Nehru Road. He had this glow on his face.. when he announced: “Guess whom I met at the Petrol Pump!” I shrugged my shoulders, “Who now?” I ask disinterestedly.. as every time I looked at Robby, my only thought ... ‘O Lord, please let Your guiding light shine upon the Doctors operating on him and keep him safe and sound’.. again Robby broke into my thoughts and with that kind smile on his face, he said,” I met Mother Teresa! Mother Teresa! the Saint!.. and look here..” he continued “When I told her that I was going to undergo an open heart surgery in a couple of days, she blessed me and wrote ‘God bless you” on my business Card.!”
Fr Bonny as he was popularly known was a multi-faceted buoyant priest, whose vivacious animated spirit like a bubbly stream, ebbed away to join the serene ocean of God’s love on August 21, 2016, after a long illness as he lay ailing at St Elizabeth Hospital.
Fr Bernard Joseph Michael D’souza hailed from the parish of the Holy Name Cathedral, Colaba Mumbai, which he proudly claimed formed the fertile soil of his priestly vocation. As a young daily altar server, he was enamoured of the sense of the sacred and dazzled by the magenta and red of the ecclesiastical dignitaries he encountered. He was inspired and riveted by the preaching of renowned homilists whom he hoped to imitate. He was transfixed by the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ elevated at the many Eucharistic celebrations, which made him feel irresistibly drawn to priesthood.
He was president of the All India Catholic Union (AICU), for four years from 1986. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) mourned the death of George Menezes, a former member of the Pontifical Council for Laity who also served in the Parish pastoral Councils of the parishes that he resided in.
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