24 Letters

posted Jan 4, 2019, 8:18 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 4, 2019, 8:19 AM ]

The Church in 2019

Sir, Few will disagree that among the major events shaping the Church in 2018 were the abuse scandal and the Synod on Youth. From these two events, it became abundantly clear that the hierarchy and religious in the Church must lend a listening ear to the 'ordinary' lay woman and lay man in the world.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is trying his best to open up the structures in the Church, so that the laity can have a genuine sense of involvement, coupled with a greater share in the decision-making process. This attempt of the Pope flows from the fact of our common baptism - the sensus fidelium - the royal priesthood of all believers and our membership of the Mystical Body of Christ.

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New Year Resolutions

Sir, Another year has gone by, and we are once again at the beginning of another New Year - 2019. People have lots of expectations in looking forward to a new year as the year gone by had some bad/tragic/sad moments, and some good/historic/happy moments. As we usher in a new year, many of us plan on a resolution - which could be giving up an addiction (say drinking, smoking etc.); some may plan on carrying out regular exercise - walking, swimming, jogging; a few may plan to give up sweets in order to be health conscious, so on and so forth.

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Vatican's '100 Nativities'

Sir, As we wind up the Christmas celebration after Epiphany on January 6, 2019, it is worthwhile to meditate on the Vatican's '100 Nativities' which seeks to showcase the true meaning of Christmas, and which can be viewed along the Via della Conciliazione through January 13.

This annual '100 Nativities' exhibit was started in 1976 by Italian Manlio Menaglia. But this is the first year that this '100 Nativity' presentation is being held under the supervision of the Vatican.

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The Star of Bethlehem v/s the Star of Satan

Sir, A few days before Christmas, I received a WhatsApp forward containing two diagrams. The first diagram was purportedly a depiction of the Star of Bethlehem - a pentagram with a single point projecting upwards. The second diagram depicted the Star of Satan - a pentagram with two points projecting upwards.

Several people in our area received this forward via group chats, creating confusion in their minds on the eve of Christmas, which, I believe, was the primary intention of the forward. The two diagrams were said to represent the forces of good and evil respectively. The forward went on to state: "So many people give excuses, which Satan loves, about how hanging the star from two points is easier."

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Complete Communion with Nature

Sir, The 'Speaking Tree' article (TOI dated Dec. 31) "Being in Complete Communion with Nature" - brings into focus the importance of our natural surroundings that God has provided us, especially the younger generation. Sometimes, the best way to get the most out of the classroom is to leave it, and take learning outside. Outdoor learning can make for happier, healthier, well-rounded students – particularly for those with special educational needs (SEN). It is necessary to look into innovative ideas to engage our pupils and children with SEN sometimes with the need for more active, out-of-the-box ideas including Reading outdoors which is enjoyable, stress-relieving and calming. Children can find books "growing" in the trees and tents beneath the branches, where they can read quietly and share books. Those with social, emotional and mental health problems – some of whom don't normally enjoy reading – are more eager to get outside into the reading forest.

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'Taken out by the enemy'

Sir, A friend of mine has a great-grandson now, a splendid little chap, and I noticed how bright his eyes are. Not only because they are brand new; but it's as if the light shines from within out into the world; this is seen in the newly baptised.

Similarly, it is seen in the passion and idealism of youth. Often though, the promise of youth gives way to the mediocrity of middle-age, compromises made, troubles mount up, and overwhelmed by the cares of this world, we can easily be 'taken out' by the enemy of our souls with his menu of false gods and quick fixes. So many men fall into alcoholism, pornography, adultery, gambling, etc. and it's a growing trend.

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