Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 10 • MAR 10 - 16, 2018

01 Cover

posted Mar 8, 2018, 11:29 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 9, 2018, 7:26 AM ]

03 Index

posted Mar 8, 2018, 11:28 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 8, 2018, 11:28 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted Mar 8, 2018, 11:26 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 8, 2018, 11:26 AM ]

05 Editorial - Embracing the Crucified Christ - Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted Mar 8, 2018, 11:21 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 9, 2018, 7:27 AM ]

God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but might have eternal life (John 3:16). This is one of the most well-known and beloved verses of Scripture that should be memorised, recited, and be the subject of our meditation. We might reflect on the three parts of this verse: God's love, God's Son and our belief, as we reach the midway mark on our journey through Lent to embrace the Crucified Christ as our bridge from sin to healing and new Life.

First, there is God's love. This world that "God so loved" is not some idealised place where people try to live in justice and peace. This world, with all the crime, dishonesty, wars and constant feuding that divide people, with all its greed and immorality and pettiness, this world is so loved by God that He wanted to bring healing and new life to it.

The Book of Chronicles gives us a summary of Israel's rebellion against the God who gave them life. It says, "The princes of Judah, the priests and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practising all the abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord's temple. They mocked the messengers of God, despised His warnings and scoffed at His prophets." Israel's story is the story of every generation and of every life that we experience today.

Still, God so loved the world, the world we inhabit, that He sent His Son. St Paul teaches us that the saving plan of God was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He says, "When we were dead in our transgressions, God brought us to life with Christ." Paul knew that from experience. He had persecuted the Church. He was among her greatest persecutors, maniacal in his quest to arrest and imprison Christians. Then, out of nowhere, on the road to Damascus, the Risen Christ appeared to him. With that, his life was changed. He had done nothing to deserve it, but salvation was now his in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the way to salvation, forgiveness and new life for the human race, and for each of us.

The poison of sin infects our world and us. We cannot expel sin on our own. Something has to be powerful enough to free us from sin, absorb it and eliminate it. Jesus says, "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life." On the Cross, Jesus would be like that bronze serpent and bring healing to us. He would draw out the venom of sin in our life, and replace it with the grace of new life.

Finally, there is our belief. Lent is not simply a time to sympathise with the Cross of Jesus, but to embrace it, to begin once more to follow Jesus with our life. It's not the gazing, but the faithful following that brings healing and new life. We can sing about Jesus, meditate on Jesus, lament the sufferings of Jesus, and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. But are we ready to follow Jesus, to open our lives to His teaching, His truth, His forgiveness, as it comes to us through His Church? Are we willing to take the step of repentance, to change how we live?

Reflect on the Crucified Christ this Lent. Let it show you the horror of sin. But let it also show the gift of God's love and the healing forgiveness that can be ours, if we follow Jesus. It expresses the wonderful truth of what redemption is all about for this troubled world, and for each of us, whom God so loves and seeks to heal with a life that never ends.

06 Pope Francis approaches Fifth Anniversary - Andrea Gagliarducci

posted Mar 8, 2018, 11:16 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 8, 2018, 11:20 AM ]

As the fifth anniversary of his pontificate approaches, it is obvious that Pope Francis has made his mark on the life of the Church, and will continue to. In fact, in the upcoming months, there could be a new document from the Pope, and a new consistory to create new cardinals.

The possibility of a new papal document began circulating in recent days. The document – reported to be an encyclical – would deal with Catholic spirituality in the modern world.

In particular, the Pope is expected to tackle the issue of worldliness, which he has often described as one of the main problems within the Church.

In Evangelii Gaudium, the Pope underscored that worldliness “can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways.”

First is “the attraction of gnosticism,” namely, “a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings.”

The second is “the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others, because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past.”

Pope Francis added that these trends, supposed to help us arrive at soundness of doctrine or discipline, lead instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelising, one analyses and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others.”

Pelagianism will be a main focus of the papal document.

Some hint of the document can be found in Pope Francis’ speech to the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, delivered Jan. 26, 2018.

On that occasion, the Pope praised the work of some members on “some aspects of the Christian salvation, in order to reaffirm the meaning of redemption with a reference to the current neo-pelagian and neo-gnostic trends.”

“These trends,” the Pope added, “are expressions of an individualism that trusts one’s own power in order to be saved.” The Pope stressed that Christians “believe instead that salvation is in the Communion with the Risen Christ, who, thanks to the gift of His spirit, introduced us to a new order of relations with the Father and men.” 


07 Placuit Deo(It pleased God) - Cindy Wooden

posted Mar 8, 2018, 11:14 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 8, 2018, 11:15 AM ]

The document 'Placuit Deo' (It Pleased God) released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith underlines that salvation in Christ is a gift of God that cannot be earned by human efforts alone, and it is not simply some kind of interior transformation, but touches the way Christians live in the world and relate to others.

"Both the individualistic and the merely interior visions of salvation contradict the sacramental economy through which God wants to save the human person.

Released at the Vatican on March 1, the document was the first issued since Archbishop Luis Ladaria became Prefect of the doctrinal congregation in July.

The document, approved by Pope Francis in mid-February, focuses on two errors Pope Francis has said seem to underlie the statements and attitudes of a growing number of Christians: neo-Pelagianism - the idea that people can save themselves by being strong and very disciplined; and neo-Gnosticism - in which the focus is so strongly placed on knowledge that it ends up despising the body, the physical needs of others and the creation of a community.

"Salvation cannot be reduced simply to a message, a practice, a gnosis (knowledge) or an interior feeling," Archbishop Ladaria said in his presentation of the document. It flows from a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, which in turn leads to incorporation in the Church and an effort to live as Jesus did, especially in attention to the poor and the suffering, he said.

Responding to reporters' questions, Archbishop Ladaria said it is probably easier to identify traces of neo-Pelagianism than neo-Gnosticism, because "we all have a tendency toward self-sufficiency."

The document, he said, "does not want to point fingers," but does want to draw people's attention to "the tendency of self-sufficiency" and "the tendency of isolation, which does not take into account that salvation is something eminently communitarian."

To respond to "both the individualist reductionism of Pelagian tendency and to the neo-Gnostic promise of a merely interior salvation," the document said, "we must remember the way in which Jesus is saviour."

"He did not limit himself to showing us the way to encounter God, a path we can walk on our own by being obedient to His words and by imitating His example," it said, but He became the way, and a relationship with Him is essential.


08 Three Reasons why I wear a CRUCIFIX - Ricky Jones

posted Mar 8, 2018, 11:12 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 8, 2018, 11:13 AM ]

I'm not big on jewellery, but one thing you might notice about me is that I always wear a crucifix around my neck. It is not a cross, but a crucifix. There is a reason for that. In fact, I want to share three reasons why I wear a crucifix.

Reason #1 — Remembrance: To Remember what True Love looks like

The crucifix is different from the cross. The Cross is the instrument of torture with which Jesus was murdered - a particular favorite of the Roman Empire. The Cross is the altar on which the Son of Man offered Himself as an eternal sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. The Cross is the new tree of life. The Cross is significant, but only because of the time Jesus spent hanging from it.

For some people, the Cross is scandalous. It is something they hold to be in the past. As a Catholic, I believe that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is eternal, and made ever-present at every Mass held every day in every country around the world.

"But we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block for Jews and foolishness for Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1:23-24)

Don't get me wrong. I know Jesus is not on the cross. He is not dead. He is risen. In fact:

"A Catholic is one who believes that this Jesus remains alive, active, and accessible in and through His Church." (Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan)

Jesus on the Cross is what matters. It is the ultimate act of God's love for us. To gaze upon the crucifix, for me, is to look upon love in its most perfect expression. In the busyness of my daily life, I need to be reminded of that, and reminded often. The crucifix around my neck serves as a reminder of God's love for the world, but particularly God's love for me.

Reason #2 — Inspiration: To inspire me to take up my cross daily

The crucifix might be thought of as a gruesome sight. However, for me, it is inspiring. To see Jesus on the cross is a reminder of the challenge He made to His disciples—the challenge He makes to me.

"If any one wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)


10 Murmurings of the Spirit within - Christopher Mendonca

posted Mar 8, 2018, 11:11 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 8, 2018, 11:11 AM ]

The experience of Nicodemus (a first-person account):

Though I was a teacher of the Law, a Pharisee,

I was brought up not to ignore

the Prophets' and the Wisdom writings,

so necessary to understand the Torah.

The description of the Law in Psalm 119

was something I was well aware of.

It frequently contrasted pride with obedience to the Law.

But in particular, in the spirit of Psalm 1,

I often 'meditated' on the Law, day and night.

In our tradition, it meant "murmuring",

the silent interior recitation of its phrases in an undertone.

It was my daily antidote to pride and presumption,

faults that could well evade one's consciousness.1

For quite some time, I had begun to feel distant from my colleagues.

inwardly restless, and wrestling with pain.


11 Syria’s Bloody War - Fr Cedric Prakash SJ

posted Mar 8, 2018, 11:08 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 8, 2018, 11:09 AM ]

"I am going to tell God everything!" were apparently the last words of a three-year-old Syrian child before she died. These heart-rending words, accompanied by a moving picture of a child, have been doing the rounds of social media, along with thousands of other messages, pictures, videos on the Syrian war. It is hardly possible to authenticate or verify such reports. Nevertheless, the words and the picture of the child sums it all: the utter hopelessness and helplessness of a people who have been enveloped in a tragic bloody war which does not seem to end; for many in the war-torn land of Syria, "just to die" seems the only way out and then "to tell God everything!" On the face of it, this sounds rather cynical; but often when despair sets it, hope and resilience take a backseat!

February 2018 has been an extremely bad month for Syria, and by all counts, the worst phase of the conflict which began on March 15, 2011. The war until now was mainly concentrated in Homs, Aleppo, Al Raqaa and some other areas. Damascus, the capital city, though subject to some intermittent attacks these past years, was regarded as a relatively safe and secure place. That reality, this past month, has changed dramatically, with areas in and around Damascus subject to heavy artillery and aerial bombardments; besides, people from the besieged areas are, apparently, as a last ditch effort, also resorting to indiscriminate bombing in the densely populated areas of the old city. Bombing from the different warring factions has meant many fatalities, severe casualties, and all round destruction.

Today, Damascus, once a thriving metropolis, wears the appearance of a ghost town. There is very little movement on the streets. A large section of the people have left the city for safer and more secure places, in other parts of the country. Fear and a cloud of uncertainty has gripped everybody. In the early afternoon of February 20, Ms Vivian Shaheen (who also volunteers with the Jesuit Refugee Service) was about to leave her workplace in a Government facility in the heart of Damascus. After days of experiencing frequent shelling in the Bab Tuoma area, Vivian had decided to take a break from Damascus, and go to her family home in Maara, which is a safer location. She had just said "goodbye" to a close friend and colleague, Ms Lama Fallouh, who was also headed home. Suddenly from nowhere, a bomb exploded; Vivian did not know what had hit her, just that she was bleeding profusely. She was able to run to a vehicle that had come to pick her up and was rushed to a nearby hospital. A shrapnel had pierced her right shoulder (fragmenting the bones there) and exiting from her upper arm. Her friend Lama was killed instantaneously by that bomb! The tragic everyday reality of a people who have to deal with not only the violence, but also the pain and trauma in the sudden loss of a loved one.


13 Towards a More Listening Church - Noel D’Silva

posted Mar 8, 2018, 11:07 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 8, 2018, 11:07 AM ]

The Church, the People of God must always be listening, attentive to the Word of God, the Son of God, who has spoken to us and revealed to us the love and mercy of the Trinitarian God. In doing so, women and men, at all times and in all places, will be enabled to understand life, society and Creation in such a manner that lives can be lived with meaning and in fullness.

The model of listening for the disciples of Jesus is surely Mary, the Mother of the Church. She received the Word and treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

In trying to completely comprehend what listening is, it will also be good to look at the other Mary in the Gospel, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. As opposed to Mary, her sister Martha is busy about many things. Mary, on the other hand, sits at the feet of the Master, totally engrossed in what He has to say. The attitude of this Mary is a forceful reminder to us that there are other factors more fundamental than activity and achievement.

The first and primary listeners in the Church are the Pope and the College of Bishops. This College, of which the Pope is the Head, is the successor of the Apostles. We know and believe that the Apostles were directly commissioned by Jesus to teach the Gospel that was preached by Jesus to them. The Apostles proved to be perfect listeners. So also, the Pope with the bishops have to be perfect listeners to the Word of God, in order to transmit the message of Jesus to all those who are willing to be full of faith in Jesus – the faithful.

Now it must be remembered that the Church is not an elite group of priests, of consecrated people, of bishops (Pope Francis). All in the Church make up the Holy People of God. All in the Church are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession (St Peter). All in the Church are called to be prophets; announcing the Kingdom of God by word and example, denouncing all that takes us away from the King and His Kingdom. The Church, therefore, is a listening Church, knowing that listening "is more than feeling.” It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn. Faithful people, the College of Bishops, the Bishop of Rome: we are one in listening to others; and all are listening to the Holy Spirit, the "Spirit of truth" (Jn 14:17), to know what the Spirit "is saying to the Churches." (Rev 2:7) - Pope Francis


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