Issues Vol. 63‎ > ‎

Vol. 170 No. 03 • JAN 19 - 25, 2019

01 Cover

posted Jan 16, 2019, 8:19 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 17, 2019, 6:41 PM ]

03 Index

posted Jan 16, 2019, 8:18 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 16, 2019, 8:18 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted Jan 16, 2019, 8:17 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 16, 2019, 8:17 AM ]

05 Editorial - Called to Holiness and Happiness

posted Jan 16, 2019, 8:13 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 17, 2019, 6:42 PM ]

Pope Francis continues to inspire and challenge the youth of today to be generous in their response to God. In his video message for World Youth Day, to be held in Panama (January 22-27, 2019), the Pope invites youth to reflect on the theme of Mary's response to God's call, found in the gospel of Luke. Mary realised that God was calling her to play a special role in His plan of salvation; this was her vocation, and in responding to it, she would find fulfilment. Reflecting on Mary's response, Pope Francis reminds young people of some characteristics of their own vocation.

Every vocation is firstly a call to go out of oneself and serve God and others. This desire to be of service is often visible in young people. The Pope says that this "revolution of service" can bring about a change in the world. It is encouraging to see many young persons today offering their time and energy in voluntary service to the suffering and the needy – through Church organisations and other groups in society. They are ready to serve, and they find meaning in lending a helping hand and being there for others.

If the call is to be realised, it is necessary that the person connects with God, and listens as God speaks. God communicates with us in a variety of ways – through Scripture and the celebration of the Sacraments, in community prayer and moments of stillness and silence, through the love and religious atmosphere in the family, or the faithful witness of persons, through the happenings in society or in college or at work or while travelling, through our care of the environment and the cry of the sick and suffering. In all these situations, the Lord speaks, and the young person who is attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit will slowly learn the will of God. When Mary said "Yes" to God's plan, her life moved in a direction very different from what she would have imagined. But with trust in God and openness, she responded and let God lead her at every step.

Discerning what God wants of us is a process involving prayer, introspection and dialogue with persons who are strong in faith and can guide us with their experience. In his message for World Youth Day in 2018, Pope Francis wrote, "Dear young people, do not allow the spark of youth to be extinguished in the darkness of a closed room in which the only window to the outside world is a computer and smartphone. Open wide the doors of your life! May your time and space be filled with meaningful relationships, real people, with whom you share your authentic and concrete experiences of daily life."

A person who has discerned his or her vocation and responded courageously will be a happy person. When our dream for ourselves and God's dream for us coincide, something wonderful happens. We are on the path of truth and holiness. We experience a deep sense of joy, and we radiate that joy to others. Even if things are difficult and there are challenges before us, we experience in the depths of our being a joy that God alone can give. Pope Francis reminds us that "Mary was a happy woman, and this is because she replied generously to God and opened her heart to God's plan for her … To respond to God positively is to take a first step towards being happy and towards making many people happy."

I pray that Mary will guide all young persons and help them to discern what God is calling them to be, just as she understood her own vocation. May the service that youth offer make a difference in their families, their neighbourhoods, their parishes and in society. And may the joy of following Christ remain in their hearts always.

Bp John Rodrigues, Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay

06 Being Formed - Bp Barthol Barretto

posted Jan 16, 2019, 8:11 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 16, 2019, 8:12 AM ]

The candidate for the priesthood goes through a journey 
where he is moulded and formed into a priest. 

A vocation to the priesthood is a desire planted by God in the heart of man. It is a seed that grows slowly and steadily, nurtured by the prayers, blessings and discernment of the person concerned and those around him.

Today, the big question that often intrigues a lot of minds is—why become a Catholic Priest? I had once put this question to a young lad who desired to join the seminary, and he said: "God's mercy is so infinite, and we can experience this mercy through the Sacraments, and I want to be a little instrument to bring that mercy of God closer to His people. It also means to do something for a world where God is being ignored."

In this world of fast-paced technology, secularism, materialism and where God appears to be reduced to nothing, it is indeed a challenging environment to foster priestly vocations, even from an 'interior' perspective. And it is the sole duty of the Church to guard and foster vocations, as Pope Francis once said:

"God never ceases to call some to follow and serve Him in the ordained ministry. We too, however, must do our part... which is the response of man, of the Church to God's gift, that gift that God gives through vocations. It means guarding and fostering vocations, that they may bear ripe fruit. They are 'diamonds in the rough' ready to be carefully polished with respect for the conscience of the candidates and with patience, so that they may shine among the People of God." (Address to the Plenary of the Congregation for Clergy, Clementine HaIl, October 3, 2014)


07 A Tale of Two Vocations

posted Jan 16, 2019, 8:09 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 16, 2019, 8:09 AM ]

On Vocation Sunday, two people in religious life share their stories with us.

Life for me began with the sudden loss of my dad, when I was at the tender age of 10.

It was then that I began going for daily Mass, because I wanted to visit my father's grave. I used to envy my friends who had both their parents; I felt life had been cruel to me to snatch the one whom I had begun to admire for his values.

Till then, being the youngest, my life had been a carefree one. To fill this void and the burning desire to emulate my dad who did a lot of social work, I joined the Legion of Mary in my home parish of Our Lady of Lourdes (Orlem, Malad), where I served as an active member for almost ten years.

My wonderful family included my mum, two elder sisters and a brother who played a very important role in their own respective ways to make ends meet. Both my sisters immediately took up jobs to support the financial needs of our family, as my brother and I were still in school. After his class X, my brother took up a part-time job while he pursued his college studies simultaneously. I too completed my college studies while I gave tuitions.

It was while I was in the Legion that I felt deep within me the CALL OF THE LORD, so to speak. I had absolutely no idea what all this meant. I began to wonder if this was just a wind that had blown across my mind, but came to know, understand and realise as years passed by, that this burning desire had come to stay and capture my whole being.

I wanted to do something about it, but did not know how and what; besides, I did not know how to tell my family about this whole affair.


09 What your Vocation is not - Rachel Penate

posted Jan 16, 2019, 8:07 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 16, 2019, 8:08 AM ]

The energy in the room was palpable, and I could feel it reverberating around the room, capturing the attention of even the dullest and most unexcited person in the gymnasium. I was 13, and at my very first night of worship and adoration, hosted by a local parish. From the moment I walked into that boisterous space, I knew I was in for something special. I was ready to be challenged and changed.

And then I hit a nun!

OK, that sounds dramatic. I didn't hurt her, I promise! But the events that led up to, and followed, that innocent jab to the shoulder were totally and completely dramatic in my own feeble experience.

I had been minding my own business, dancing along (a little exuberantly) to a song that I didn't know when - BAM! - my fist made contact with the shoulder of an unsuspecting nun. Embarrassed, I apologized; she smiled, and I moved on with my awkward pre-teen dance moves.

But then, a woman from our group said something that rocked me to my core.

From about three seats away, with an all-knowing grin, she said, "You know… if you hit a nun, that means you become one, right?"

You couldn't have peeled me from the floor at that moment, if you tried. Those words were like a death wish. How did I cause this to myself? I didn't want to become a nun! I didn't even know what extracurricular activities I wanted to be involved in next year, let alone my vocation!

I was devastated. I was anxious. And I carried those words in my mind and heart for a long time, thinking they were true.

More than a Guessing Game

What I didn't realise until (unfortunately) much later, is that the vocation God has in store for us to discover is not a game He plays with us. It's not like the 'Sorting Hat' from Harry Potter, assigning us to our future community despite our input, or like some maze we have to navigate in order to arrive at an ending we are blind to along the way.


10 Poor Sisters of Our Lady - Sr Romana Fernandes, PSOL

posted Jan 16, 2019, 8:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 16, 2019, 8:06 AM ]

The Congregation of the Poor Sisters of Our Lady took its roots in the year 1939 on September 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The inspiration and insight came from Msgr George Fernandes, a diocesan priest, who believed that there was a necessity for a local congregation to meet the needs of the times. Since it was during the Second World War, a diocesan congregation would understand better the language, customs, requirements of the clergy and laity. The Most Rev. Thomas D. Roberts, the then Archbishop of Bombay, gave his approval, and a group of seven eager young girls began the early years of formation. Stephen Hall next to Archbishop's House became the residence of the Sisters, as well as the Generalate of the Congregation.

The early works of the Sisters were instructing the poor children at Gloria School and Sacred Heart School, Sankli Street, supervision of the Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Name, Fort, rescue and preventive social work, and the Employment Bureau of the Catholic Women's Welfare Society, which operated out of Stephen Hall. The 1960s brought about new changes, and the winds of direction swept across Vienna, Austria, and later to Rome in Italy and Africa, where our Sisters were invited to work for the Church and its people. We take pride in our achievements, as the Poor Sisters, under the able guidance of Mother Patricia Frank, coordinated and collaborated for the 38th International Eucharistic Congress held in 1964. Stephen Hall was a central hub of all activities monitored by the Sisters in the background. The year 1999 was another historic date as the Congregation received its Pontifical Recognition.

The works carried out by the Sisters include: Care of the Elderly, Education, Healthcare, Pastoral and Social Outreach, Prison Ministry and African Mission.

Main reasons to join the PSOL today

• When the world offers power, prestige, name, fame, the Poor Sisters of Our Lady, in keeping with the charism, gladly empty out all that the world offers so that God can be our everything.

• When the world glorifies pleasure and shuns suffering, we, like Mary our Mother, accept and undergo the crosses and the splinters that come in our life, standing firmly and resolutely at the foot of the Cross.

• The Sisters empower the girl child through Divya Prabha – a home for street girls. It provides a ray of hope through education, restoration of their dignity and integration in society.


11 WYD Curtain-Raiser

posted Jan 16, 2019, 8:04 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 16, 2019, 8:05 AM ]

The 34th edition of the World Youth Day will be held in Panama from January 22 to 27 this year.

All roads will lead to Panama from January 22, as one of the largest youth gatherings in the world will unfold under the loving gaze of Pope Francis. More than 200,000 young people from 155 countries are expected for the 34th World Youth Day (WYD) at Panama, from January 22-27. One thousand indigenous young people from five continents will take part in their special WYD (which will begin three days earlier, from January 16-19). The theme for World Youth Day 2019 is taken from the Gospel of St Luke: "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

Such are the numbers which are evolving, said Giancarlo Candanedo, spokesman of the WYDs, on January 8, 2019. "How are we preparing ourselves? First of all, by prayer. We must not forget that it's a very great challenge for a small country like ours. The Holy Father wished to give this responsibility, not only to Panama, but to the whole of Central America and to all its episcopate," explained the spokesman. "Last Sunday, we showed the popemobile in public, made by a group of Panamanians of the city," continued Giancarlo Candanedo. Another novelty is a Rosary made by poor Bethlehem families, which will be included in the pilgrim's kit. One and a half million pieces have been made.

The Panamanian government has taken an active part in the preparation of the Day. "For the first time in the history of the WYDs, the government has created an administrative structure, able to help us in the organisation of the event. They have made things easier. It's a help for the Church," stressed Candanedo.

The Indian Connection

A national delegation of 56 people from India, under the banner of the CBCI Youth Council, left for Panama on January 15. The delegates include nine priests, a religious sister and Bishop Mar Joseph Pandarasseril, Archeparchy of Kottayam, who is also a member of the CBCI Youth Council. The young people forming the group come from across the vastness of India, from the North East and Agra, to Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the south. Fr Deepak Thomas KJ OCD, Executive Secretary of the CBCI Youth Council and Fr Savio D'Souza are the group coordinators.


13 What really happened between David and Goliath - Fr Joshan Rodrigues

posted Jan 16, 2019, 8:03 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 16, 2019, 8:03 AM ]

Malcolm Gladwell gives us a fresh insight into one of the most iconic duels in history.

The face-off between David and Goliath is one of the most legendary and widely known stories from the Bible. Even someone not enthusiastic about religion and faith is well-versed with the story. The story has passed beyond the religious sphere, and become embedded in the secular narrative. It is the story of the underdog who wins against all odds. "David and Goliath" has become a metaphor for an improbable victory, when two widely unequal entities compete with each other. But Malcolm Gladwell – the author of other best-sellers such as Outliers and The Tipping Point – tells us that we have been looking at this story the wrong way all along.

Goliath was a giant, more than nine feet tall, wearing a bronze helmet and full body armour. He carried a javelin, a spear and a sword. What's interesting is that Goliath was prepped for close range hand-to-hand combat. Hence the body armour, and all his weapons were close combat weapons. His armour and his weapons weighed a ton, reducing his mobility. He expected a fight on his terms, but David had other plans.

David had a sling and five smooth stones. Slingers were actually a type of warrior in ancient armies. In experienced hands, the sling was a devastating weapon. An experienced slinger could kill or seriously injure a target at a distance of up to two hundred yards. In the Old Testament Book of Judges, slingers are described as being accurate within a "hair's breadth." Stones released from slings could travel at a speed of 120 km/hour, more than enough to penetrate a man's skull and render him unconscious, or dead. Slingers were deadly against infantry, because a big lumbering soldier, weighed down with armour, was a sitting duck for a slinger launching projectiles from a hundred yards away. The Romans even had a special set of tongs made just to remove stones that had been embedded in some soldier's body by a sling. Goliath was an infantryman.

King Saul tries to dress David in armour and give him a sword, so that the boy has at least a fighting chance. Saul assumes that David is going to fight Goliath in the conventional way. But David has no such intention. He tells Saul that he has killed bears and lions as a shepherd in the same fashion – as a slinger. David doesn't have the large frame and strength, nor the skills of traditional warfare. But his strengths are speed, manoeuvrability, intelligence and his sling. He is going to fight to his strengths. The historian Robert Dohrenwend writes, "Goliath had as much chance against David, as any medieval soldier with a sword would have had against an opponent armed with a .45 automatic pistol."


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