Vol. 167 No. 40 - October 01 - October 07, 2016
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the architect of the special celebrations of the Archdiocese of Bombay on the occasion of the canonisation of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, challenged the unprecedented gathering which had come to participate in this event organised at St Xavier parish grounds, Vile Parle, Mumbai on September 25, 2016 to be like Mother Teresa, "with eyes to see, a heart to feel, and hands to help the poor."
The commentator for the evening, Sr Medard of the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order founded by the legendary 'saint of the gutters', welcomed Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the concelebrants and the congregation, asking them "to raise their hearts to God in grateful thanks and praise for the gift of St Teresa of Kolkata: the Church's newest saint who was truly 'something beautiful for God'."
His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias presided over the Mass in honour of St Teresa of Kolkata, with four bishops concelebrating, together with over 30 priests. In his homily, referring to the parable of Dives and Lazarus, about the rich man and the poor man, he said it was appropriate for a thanksgiving Mass for the canonisation of Mother Teresa, who epitomised what the Christian response to 'the poor at our doorstep' ought to be.
He further elaborated: "Dives was not positively unkind to Lazarus, nor was he an immoral man who made his wealth by ill-gotten means, but simply ignored his presence - a sin of omission. He was so caught up in his world of material things that it made him immune to the suffering of Lazarus whom he could see, but was not sensitive to his need. Dives allowed Lazarus to be part of the landscape."
His Eminence pointed out that this situation made Lazarus a victim of the "globalisation of indifference" which Pope Francis has so often denounced. He linked the gospel parable to the contemporary situation of migrants and refugees, and how the Holy Father was very disturbed at the plight of the tragic news of the drowning of around 300 refugees at Lampedusa. He recalled how the Pope asked "pardon for those who are complacent and closed, amid comforts which have deadened their hearts."
He urged, "As we are celebrating the thanksgiving Eucharist, we are inspired and challenged not to be indifferent. We pass by poor people outside our churches and homes, our streets and workplaces, and we are called to be like Mother Teresa, 'with eyes to see, a heart to feel, and hands to help,' he said. "Being poor," he explained, "is not only material poverty, but about so many isolations, so much loneliness and suffering, to which we are indifferent."
Later, there was a public function at which Sr Suma gave a glimpse into the saintly life of Mother Teresa. Cadenza Kantori choir captured the spirit of Mother Teresa in an excellent rendition of the hymn: 'Whatsoever you do...' A heart-warming wheelchair Bharat Natyam, and a moving song by three blind girls by the children of Ashadaan was followed by a 'life-like' skit by the children of St Francis Xavier's parish, which demonstrated key moments in St Teresa's life and ended with the testimonies from the two miracles which confirmed her sainthood. Next was the testimony of Mr T. Thomas, Chairman of Hindustan Unilever Ltd, who had the privilege of assisting Mother Teresa in the building of her Homes in Kolkata and Mumbai. A short video-film on Mother Teresa, directed and produced by the Catholic Communication Centre of the Archdiocese, was screened at which testimonies by Dr Luzito D'Souza and others were given, on the impact that Mother Teresa made in their life.
Even as the people thronged to venerate the relics of Mother Teresa, the final words of the Cardinal beckoning priests, religious and faithful to imitate her prayer life, faith in the Eucharist and unshakable confidence and courage to believe in God's power to overcome any challenge that could come in the way to reach out to the poor, would certainly echo and resound in their hearts as they journey through life.
With inputs from Cruxnow and Matters India
The Year of Mercy began with a spiritual bang and fervour, and it continues to be so. The whole world got interested and involved in celebrating this great event of the Catholic Church. Every newspaper, TV Channel and radio station announced this event, and the year-long programme was announced in every nook and corner of the Catholic world. The celebrations caught the attention of every ordinary Catholic, but also of those who are not Catholic; they showed a great interest to know the Mercy of God and human mercy. The Church opened once again her doors for those who needed mercy in order to be in communion with God and human beings. The spiritual celebration conducted everywhere remembered St Francis of Assisi for his teaching and example of being merciful and compassionate. He showed that through his writings and life example, where he demonstrated that God the Father is merciful, and we ought to show the same mercy to our brethren. He showed mercy to human beings as well as to the entire living Creation. He is known to be a merciful saint, because by nature, he was merciful and included a merciful attitude in his approach to everyone. The merciful attitude of Francis made him approach all his brothers without condemning or judging them. Our Capuchin Friar, Cantalamessa, who is a preacher to the Holy Father, said that Mercy was the first fruit of Francis' drawing close to the Lord. The memorable and unforgettable phrase of St Francis is: "the Lord led me among them." Friar Cantalamessa further says, "There have been some who came to Christ from love of the poor, and there have been others that have come to the poor from the love of Christ. St Francis belongs to the latter. St Francis first experienced God's mercy to him as a free gift, and it is this that spurred him and gave him the strength to have mercy for the leper and the poor. The life of St Francis was the face of Mercy, and he often spoke and taught his brothers about being merciful. There are many examples of his being merciful, and asking the friars to be so. He wrote to a Superior, "May there be no friar in the world who has sinned, as much as it is possible to sin, that, after having seen your eyes, does not go away without your forgiveness, if he asks for it; and if he did not ask for forgiveness, you ask him if he wants to be forgiven. And if afterwards, he should sin a thousand times before your eyes, love him more than me for this, so that you are able to attract him to the Lord, and always have mercy for such brothers." (Letter to a Minister – FF nr. 235)
Among the numerous titles that Our Lady is known by is Our Lady of the Rosary for giving to humanity a much treasured gift in the string of beads on which we pray to her to intercede with her son, Jesus Christ, on our behalf. The feast day was instituted on the anniversary of the decisive victory of the combined Christian fleet in 1571 at the Battle of Lepanto, defeating an Ottoman fleet off western Greece. This feast was formerly known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory.
In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of the 'Feast of Our Lady of Victory' to 'Feast of the Holy Rosary'. Pope Clement XI extended the feast to the whole of the Latin Rite, inserting it into the General Roman Calendar in 1716. Pope St Pius X changed the date to October 7 in 1913, as part of his effort to restore celebration of the liturgy of the Sundays. In 1960, Pope John XXIII changed the title to 'Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary'.
The East Indian Community, sons of the soil of Bombay, Thane, Raigad and Vasai celebrate 'Agera' on the first Sunday in October. The Archdiocese in recent times also celebrates the age old 'Agera' as "Thanksgiving day". The feast is celebrated across East Indian Gaothans with great enthusiasm. The local East Indian Groups based in urban areas are making efforts to revive this great harvest festival of 'Agera' in the traditional way. In many villages in Manori, Gorai, Uttan, Vasai, Thane and Raigad, the festival has always been celebrated the traditional way, as many families continue to follow their occupation of farming.While the farming villages of the East Indian Community celebrate 'Agera' as per tradition followed for generations, the gaothans (urban villages) generally begin their celebrations from the village.
As per the tradition on this festival, on the morning of Agera, before the celebration of Holy Mass, the parish priest leads a procession of parishioners to the nearest paddy field. He then blesses the paddy and cuts a few sheaves. Then a few volunteers proceed to cut stacks of paddy, and carry it into the church in procession, to the accompaniment of either a local tribal band called the Vanzootar or a Brass Band. In the gaothans, where farming is no more an occupation due to urbanisation, Agera is celebrated a little differently by the local East Indian group. The celebration begins from a prominent Holy Cross in the gaothans, with a procession led by the ladies in traditional lugra. The stacks of paddy are either carried by the ladies in lugra or men in traditional surkhas. In some villages, the stacks of paddy are carried on bullock carts, tongas or reklas. The solemn procession is accompanied by the East Indian Brass Band who plays traditional hymns. The locals also join the procession in prayer, thanking God for a good harvest. The procession reaches the church, where the ladies and men in their traditional attire place the paddy on the church altar. The priest blesses the paddy during Holy Mass, which is then distributed to each family. Outside churches, stalls selling East Indian food are set up.
I belong to the ‘Sandwich Generation' (persons who care for their ageing parents along with their own children), and the last sixteen years have been both a challenge and a blessing for me. My parents opened their doors to me, when I was juggling my career that took me places, besides caring for my little one. Once nestled in their care, I never had to wonder if my daughter had been fed, reached school on time or taken care of when ill, as I was assured of their total support. Mom and Dad were physically active and shared housekeeping. Dad covered outdoor jobs, while Mum took care of cooking, caring for family, grandchildren and pursued her hobby of sewing for the family, friends and newcomers. My parents taught me to be independent and industrious.
When Dom Peres published his autobiography entitled The Story of My Life, describing the variegated experiences of his chequered and eventful life, Bishop Boso Penha wrote: "Lay persons of your calibre are a tremendous asset to our Church in Bombay—a great source of strength and inspiration to me as a Bishop. I am happy that due to my reading of Dom's book, I have come to know a scholar, a saint and a man of great power and practical wisdom."
Dom's life changed dramatically with his experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1974. A pioneer in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, he got involved in the Charismatic Movement almost from the time of its inception, and immediately became a leading figure in the Movement.
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