Issues Vol. 63‎ > ‎

Vol. 63 No. 13 • MAR 30 - APR 05, 2019

01 Cover

posted Mar 27, 2019, 10:33 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 28, 2019, 4:57 AM ]

03 Index

posted Mar 27, 2019, 10:32 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 27, 2019, 10:33 PM ]

04 Engagements

posted Mar 27, 2019, 10:31 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 27, 2019, 10:32 PM ]

05 Editorial - Repentance, Repair and Reconciliation - Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted Mar 27, 2019, 10:24 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 27, 2019, 10:25 PM ]

Every Lent reminds us of God's forgiving and merciful grace, calling us to embark on a 'journey of the heart,' towards our Resurrection in Christ that promises the fullness of His Life and Love. This week, we may realise that, like the prodigal son, we have wandered to a distant land. Lured by the mirage of sin, we have been drawn into a wasteland far away from God. To go from so unprodigal a love to the prodigal love of God, repentance, repair and reconciliation must be our response.

The scriptures of this Sunday speak to us of different paths in our journey from Lent to Easter life. There is the wasteful son who demands his inheritance, and goes off to a distant country and loses it all. This unnamed 'distant country' is more than a place. It is really a way of living, a condition of the heart frozen in sin, typical of our wounded self-seeking and ego-centred world.

Maybe we have known this 'distant country' when we leave behind Gospel values to follow our own way. Sin is made to look irresistibly fascinating. But not for long. Sin is fun and fancy-free, until it becomes addictive and enslaving. Drinking and drugs can harm and hurt us and others. Infidelity may be novel and exciting, until it destroys marriage, family and ourselves. The thrill of indulgence in greed, arrogance or deception is fleeting and short-lived. These only distort and isolate us from God and others, leaving us morally ruined.

When the prodigal son comes to his senses, he has the moment of recognition: 'I have sinned'. That moment of repentance is the key to a different future, and the key to the rest of his life. How often we remain trapped in destructive, sinful patterns of puerile blame game, ready to blame anyone and anything else. It is this infantile trend in popular Psychology and Sociology that blames parents, family, pastors, scandals in the Church for our own faults and weaknesses. The road to Easter for the prodigal son, and for us, lies in the crucial importance of being able to say, "I have sinned" in a spirit of contrition.

There is another path that can lead us astray - the path taken by the elder brother. Sometimes, we feel and think like the older brother, that those who repent should not just be able to come back so easily. Like cynics and critics of our time, we like to humiliate and condemn them, with a 'holier than thou attitude'. When we come across people who realise they are wrong, repent and are ready to make amends, they do not need our recrimination. They need our help, our encouragement and our support to rejoice in their rediscovered faith. Because of Jesus Christ who revealed the forgiving and welcoming love of the Father, we can come back home.

Finally, there is the father willing to take the repentant son back, and seeking to bring reconciliation to his family. St Paul calls this the ministry of repentance, bridge-building and reconciliation. We have many people today who are experts in the politics of polarisation, and have virtually made a science of it. The work of bridge-building between divided people is the majestic vocation of peace-making, which is the gift and mission of the Risen Lord.

As we journey towards the end of the Lenten Season, and Easter begins to appear on the horizon, embracing transformation, new possibilities and new life is what our journey should be all about. We still have much work to do before we arrive at the empty tomb. Before we can get to the new creation of Easter, we have some repentance, repair and reconciliation work to do within our own hearts and in our world.

06 Religion and Politics: Church and State - Austin Ivereigh & Kathleen Griffin

posted Mar 27, 2019, 10:23 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 27, 2019, 10:23 PM ]

The Church is often accused of "interfering in politics" when she speaks on issues that affect society. What should the relationship between religion and politics be?

The idea that the Catholic Church 'interferes' with national sovereign politics is nothing new. Rulers (and voters) have always resented being held to account by a higher law. In the age of democracy, the accusation is sometimes levied against the Church that it acts as a kind of lobby, using its spiritual influence to engineer certain political outcomes — acting, in other words, out of corporate self-interest. Critics accuse the Church of 'imposing its view' on the rest of society, in an attempt to thwart human rights — usually understood narrowly and one-sidedly as those of a woman to seek an abortion, or a gay couple to adopt a child. Religion is increasingly seen as a private matter, and public life as a neutral space. The prevailing ethic of autonomy is intrinsically hostile to allowing religion a voice in public life. Neither is true.

Right from the outset, we must be clear that there is a distinction between the Church and the State. This is rooted in the Gospel, in Jesus' guiding principle, "Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God." (Mt 22:21) The temporal and spiritual spheres are interrelated, yet distinct. The State must respect the freedom and practice of religion, whilst religion must respect the jurisdiction of the State.

The neuralgic issue here is the perennial one of 'mixing religion and politics'. What the secularist critique often forgets is that the radical exclusion of faith from politics has not led to utopia, but disaster. The greatest horrors of the twentieth century were inflicted by totalitarian states among whose first moves was the abolition of faith from the public sphere, and subordination of religion to the state. Conversely, some of the proudest moments of Western political history — the abolition of the slave trade, or the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s — are uplifting examples of what happens when churches hold up a transcendent moral horizon to society, and guide the movement that shapes society towards that ideal, seeking to influence the state for the common good. The greatest achievements of Western society, in other words, stem from a civilisation in which Church and state co-exist and cooperate; the greatest disasters have arisen from efforts by the state to eradicate the Church, often justified by an ideology which interprets the 'will of the people' as a license for unchecked, unlimited state power.

Christianity believes in keeping the two spheres of faith and politics apart, yet interconnected. Unlike secularism, which proclaims the moral autonomy of the state, a healthy or positive secularity advocates a distinction between faith and politics (but not their divorce). The precise relationship of faith and politics, spiritual and temporal — 'the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God' is a complex one. But the underlying principle should be clear. Reason and religion need each other. They are intertwined. But they are distinct realms, and should not be confused, both for the sake of the Church and of the state.


07 Card. Danneels: Intellectual, pastor and man of quiet hope - Robert Mickens

posted Mar 27, 2019, 10:22 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 27, 2019, 10:22 PM ]

Something that could be the text to describe my life is from Saint Francis of Assisi who said to his companions: 'You should never let anyone go away from you in sadness. Everything you say must be an encouragement.'"

Indeed, it was by these words that Cardinal Godfried Danneels strived to be a preacher of the Gospel and friend to all humanity. The cardinal died on March 14, at the age of 85, after several years of steadily declining health.

As a beloved and unifying figure in his native Belgium, and one of the longest-serving cardinals of the universal Church (outranked only by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray), Danneels was a source of encouragement for reform-minded Catholics and those who would describe themselves as theologically or culturally "progressive." He was — for me, as well — a voice of reason, hope and patient engagement with the social realities of a rapidly changing and secularized world. Naturally, Catholic traditionalists, doctrinal hardliners and culture warriors saw him in starkly different terms. They criticised Danneels — as they also complain about Pope Francis — as being weak and capitulating to the forces they see as corroding Catholic faith and morals and destroying the Western world.

Danneels was only 44, when Pope Paul VI plucked him from academia, and appointed him Bishop of Antwerp in 1977. But he served the greater part of his episcopal ministry under the pontificates of Pope John Paul II (who sent him to Brussels in 1979, and created him cardinal in 1983) and Pope Benedict XVI. Though he was often at odds with the way these last two Popes interpreted and sought to implement the teachings and vision of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), Danneels remained fiercely loyal to the papacy. In recognition of this, he was retained as a senior member of four Vatican congregations and a consultor to the Secretariat of State until his 80th birthday.

It was only three months before he hit that milestone, that Danneels made, perhaps, his most significant contribution to the Church, and some would say, the world. On March 13, 2013, he played a major role in securing Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio's election as Bishop of Rome. He allegedly called the election of Pope Francis a moment of "personal resurrection." The current Pope brought the cardinal with him on the balcony overlooking St Peter's Square, the night of his papal election.


09 Finding Joy in the Ordinary - Fr. Warner D'Souza

posted Mar 27, 2019, 10:20 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 27, 2019, 10:21 PM ]

Here is the simple truth: No one is on a 'high' 24x7, and if you are 'high' all the time, you must be snorting something! I write this with a sense of irony, because our world has now come to seek these peak moments constantly - every day, if not every hour!

No one really has these constant euphoric moments and exhilarating days, and the absence of them should not lead one to fallaciously conclude that they are 'depressed'. Sadly, the term 'depression' is very widely used by people who are not actually depressed, but temporarily unhappy. And to be honest, I take umbrage to the glib use of the word 'depressed' by some flippant teeny boppers, and those who don't really understand what people who truly suffer from depression go through.

Most people have ordinary days, but that does not mean they have ordinary lives. Our lives are filled with beautiful tasks that have been made to sound mundane, and we have foolishly come to believe it to be true. As a consequence, we have come to accept that the acts we perform each day are no more than boring routine actions.

So let me give you an example. If 'Master Chef' told you that today, for breakfast, you would be served piping hot fermented batter of ground rice steamed in circular moulds and served with a dip of spicy coconut shavings, you would end up eating nothing more than our humble 'idli' made to sound like it was being named 'dish of the year'.

So why then have we come to believe that the routine is mundane? Why have we come to believe that feeding our family, cleaning our home, working a nine to five job, celebrating a birthday in the confines of our home or walking in the park is boring? These actions of ours bring life to others, and there is nothing mundane in life-giving actions.


10 Jesuit Superior General visits Mumbai - Fr. John M Froz SJ

posted Mar 27, 2019, 10:18 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 27, 2019, 10:19 PM ]

Superior General Arturo Sosa visited the Bombay Jesuit Province for the first time from March 2 to 5, 2019. On Saturday, March 2, 2019, he celebrated the Holy Eucharist for the whole Bombay Province at Vinayalaya, and interacted with all the Province Jesuits. During his visit, he visited Manickpur, Vasai, Talasari Missions, St Stanislaus (Bandra), Vinayalaya (Andheri), and St Xavier's College, Mumbai. He also met with Cardinal Oswald Gracias in Mumbai and Archbishop Felix Machado in Vasai.

During his visit to different places of Bombay Province, he spoke on different relevant and current topics on the Jesuit response to a rapidly changing world. He made his comment on Interreligious dialogue, Environmental Concerns, the need of Spirituality, Social issues, Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice ministries, problems of Refugees and their rehabilitation, Reconciliation with the world that we live in, Reconciliation with Others, Reconciliation with God, Reconciliation with the Environment.

During his talk to Jesuits, he said, "We are called to animate people. We must engage more in animating people and processes, the young especially, in order to fulfil our mission. It is Christ's mission of which we have to be servants. And we receive this Mission from the Church, the Holy Father. Our priority is the Gospel. We live because we have to preach the Gospel. We cannot maintain institutions at the cost of Gospel values and our commitment to do Justice, Truth, fellowship and bring about peace and reconciliation."

Fr General told Jesuits that, "We should not expect people to come to us and collaborate with us. We should be going out and collaborate with them. This is a better way of witnessing and being humble. We do not have all the answers and resources. We must learn from others. Our identity could be further enhanced, and we better appreciated, when we collaborate with others."


11 Salesian Rector Major uses Samaria to inspire Mumbai

posted Mar 27, 2019, 10:17 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 27, 2019, 10:17 PM ]

Mumbai and Samaria have little in common. One, a small region that formed ancient Israel, and the other, over 4000 kilometres away, is a bustling metropolis in Western India, drawing millions of people in search of a better life. Rector Major Angel Fernandez Artime, the 10th successor of Don Bosco, during his Holy Mass at the Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna, Mumbai on March 23, drew inspiration from the life-changing experience of a Samaritan woman who met Jesus at a well.

Hundreds of laity, including the Salesian family, youth from Salesian institutions, confreres, and the faithful assembled to listen to Fr Artime's message—the crux of which focused on Jesus' loving mercy and refusal to condemn the woman, despite perceived infirmities. Fr Artime asked the congregation, 'Would you give Jesus water?' To which the youth present, answered, 'Yes.' In his response, he added, "We all finally need to meet Jesus, and once we meet Jesus, we have a transformation."

He then urged the faithful to be witnesses to the Gospel values. "Do not fear, because Christ is always going to be with you," he said, adding, "Like the woman at the well, many a time, our lives are not the best. We may not live our lives properly, but when we meet Christ, we all change." Fr Artime also underlined the importance of Mother Mary in the Church, saying that she is "always partnering" with the faithful throughout their lives to help carry the burden. A special youth choir added a melodious touch to the service, which ended with a felicitation ceremony, a Spanish dance, singing of the Salesian Youth Movement anthem, and the release of Fr Elias Dias' book entitled 'To Don Bosco with Love: History, Pedagogy, Spirituality'.


13 Homecoming – the antidote to distraction - Christopher Mendonca

posted Mar 27, 2019, 10:16 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 27, 2019, 10:16 PM ]

A typographical error is not always a spelling mistake.
It may only be a momentary lapse of attention
in the execution of a practised skill
that is performed in 'default mode'.
Mistakes, on the other hand, are the result of a lack of knowledge.
We can recognise the error easily,
but mistakes are uncovered only by new knowledge.
We often treat sin as an error.
Our psychological constructs are supposed to unfold
in predictable ways, as do our biological constructs.
Any deviation is seen as a behaviour that needs to be modified
so as to make us socially acceptable.
We often end up merely shifting from
one socially unacceptable addiction to one that is socially
au courant.


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