14 Notes & Comments

posted Jul 18, 2018, 10:48 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jul 18, 2018, 10:48 AM ]

Holy Father's blessings on grandchildren


"How important grandparents are in the life of the family, to communicate the patrimony of humanity and faith essential for every society!" Pope Francis had tweeted last year on July 26, Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary and grandparents of Jesus, on his Twitter@Pontifex_it account.

In many parts of the world, July 26, the feast of St Joachim and St Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and grandparents of Jesus is observed as Grandparents' Day.

Introducing my grandchildren to the Holy Father was an encounter with love, an encounter of belonging and embrace of generations of our family. At the recently concluded General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Life in the Vatican City held in June, I was very fortunate to have an audience with the Holy Father. After having spent the summer with my grandchildren, playing with them, caring for them and teaching them the faith, no desire was greater than receiving the blessing of the Pontiff on my two grandchildren.

"I'm like a grandfather for all of you," Pope Francis said during his address to the Italian Association for large families. I too experienced these very same sentiments of Pope Francis for our family; the "great and intense" love of the Holy Father was palpable. His eyes lit up as he gazed on the picture of my wife and I, with our precious grandchildren, the tenderness with which Pope Francis touched the picture of Käitlyn and Zion, and then said, "God Bless Käitlyn and Zion; I will pray for them." No joy could compare to the feeling of that moment. My greatest gift of all to my grandchildren this grandparents Day, my blessing, the blessing of the Vicar of Christ and our faith.


Vietnamese Church worried about child labourers


Thirteen-year-old Catherine found it difficult to eat, after a motorbike rammed her as she served coffee to customers at a part-time job in Hue City, Thua-Hue Hue province, Vietnam in May. She lost four teeth and spent a month in the hospital before she could return to the 36-square-meter rented slum she shared with her parents and siblings in the Phu Vang district.

The medical bills initially amounted to 7 million dong or 10 times her earnings in the coffee shop the week before the accident. When asked how she would get the 20 million dong needed to replace her missing teeth, she said the Sisters of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Paul of Chartres (SPC), a Catholic charity, was working with local dentists to install dentures.

Church activists claim that the protection of poor and orphaned children in Vietnam is still too little, where many people scavenge for life or risk losing limbs, because of the unexploded weaponry that they can sell later.

The province launched a project on June 25, aimed at preventing the entry of child migrant workers in the country and preventing them from being exploited at an early age. The project is sponsored by the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation, based in Australia, reuniting child labour with their families.


Thailand's 'Cave of Miracles'

HEDWIG LEWIS SJ, mattersindia.com

People across the world were gripped by the recent saga of the 12 young soccer players and their coach in Thailand. On June 23, the Wild Boars junior team had just finished a weekly soccer practice, and as planned, went to celebrate the birthday of one of their members at the Tham Luang Nang cave.

Shortly after they had entered it, heavy rains suddenly flooded the cave, blocking the exit and forcing the group to venture deeper into the cave to avoid the rising waters. The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their assistant coach, 25, were found alive and well ten days later, by divers who were scouting for them. An unprecedented and "incredibly dangerous" underground rescue operation dubbed 'Mission Possible' ensued. It involved a complex strategy executed in near-zero visibility, frigid water, powerful currents, and a labyrinth of tunnels along a 4 km stretch. All 13 were brought out safely by professional cave-divers from multiple countries.

The Thai Navy SEAL unit that spearheaded the operations commented on its official Facebook page: "We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what…" One would like to believe that it is a blend of supernatural intervention, super technology, and yes, global humanitarian collaboration at its 'optimal' best.

We often epitomise the miraculous with the coincidental, the extraordinary, or even as Providential. In this context, one may discover a series of "miracles" that constituted the success of what is now referred to as their "Great Escape".

1. The boys had visited the cave on earlier occasions. This time, they risked going in to celebrate the birthday of one of their team-mates. The snacks they were carrying would provide them nourishment to survive the initial shock of the disaster. Fortunately, they were armed with torches they would use sparingly in the pitch dark cavern.

2. The limestone rocks sponged water from the heavy rainfall. The boys collected the drops of water that trickled down; the one basic necessity for survival.

3. Only one of the boys spoke English. It helped when the first rescuer, an Englishman, made contact with the group.