Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 36 • SEP 08 - 14, 2018

01 Cover

posted Sep 6, 2018, 10:57 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 10:58 AM ]

03 Index

posted Sep 6, 2018, 10:56 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 10:56 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted Sep 6, 2018, 10:48 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 10:48 AM ]

05 Editorial - Mary – Perfect Example of Holiness

posted Sep 6, 2018, 10:44 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 10:44 AM ]

In September, during the Novena in preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, children in parishes are encouraged to come daily to church and express their love for Mary, and be inspired by her life. Many Marian Shrines also celebrate their Annual Feast at this time. As we honour Mary, our Mother, we see in her the perfect example of holiness.

Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, invites us to 'Rejoice and Be Glad' (Mt 5:12). It presents how every member of the Church is called to holiness. The Pope reflects on living the beatitudes today, and seeking holiness in everyday activities. Pope Francis concludes with a paragraph on Mary—"She lived the Beatitudes of Jesus as none other … Mary is the saint among the saints, blessed above all others." (Gaudete et Exsultate n. 176).

Mary rejoiced in the presence of God. The Magnificat encapsulates her attitude of finding joy in the Lord as she did His will. Pope Francis describes joy as one of the signs of holiness. He says, "The saints are joyful and full of good humour. Though completely realistic, they radiate a positive and hopeful spirit. The Christian life is 'joy in the Holy Spirit' (Rom 14:17)." (n. 122)

Mary pondered in her heart all the events of her life. In silence and in prayer, she allowed the mystery of God's plan to permeate her whole being. Mary discerned what God was asking of her in each situation. This is another characteristic of holiness—a "habitual openness to the transcendent." The saints discerned what the Spirit was telling them in small and seemingly insignificant choices. They realised that "greatness of spirit is manifested in simple everyday realities." Disciples are to listen to the Lord as He challenges them in new ways. "God may be offering us something more, but in our comfortable inadvertence, we do not recognise it." (nn. 147, 169, 172)

Mary accompanied her Son the whole way, sharing even in His suffering at the foot of the Cross. Mary trusted in God's power to transform the most absurd situation into something meaningful. A shameful event became the deed of salvation by the power of God. Mary reminds her children to be persons of hope, knowing that God will not abandon them. A person who senses the pain and sorrow of another "is capable of touching life's depths and finding authentic happiness" and discovers "the meaning of life by coming to the aid of those who suffer." (n. 76) Mary also stands as a sign of solidarity with those in difficulty. She represents those who support others in their anguish when they are deprived of their human dignity or suffer discrimination and humiliation. The Church, taking shape at the foot of the Cross, is meant to be a community that cares and gives hope. Mary stands as a sign of concern and of trust in God's transforming power. Truly, Mary recognised the call to holiness and lived the beatitudes.

A mother's love brings joy, lifts us up when we are tired and heals our wounds. It encourages and sets free. I have noticed thousands coming to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount to express their devotion to Mary, many of whom are people of other religions. Sometimes, they ask, "Is there a special prayer that we must recite to Mother Mary?" I tell them that while there are specific invocations, we can speak to Mary spontaneously, just as we address our own mother, pouring out our feelings, expressing what is in the depths of our hearts. Surely, Mary knows what lies in the heart of every child of hers. Pope Francis says, "Mary our Mother does not need a flood of words. She does not need us to tell her what is happening in our lives. All we need do is whisper, time and time again: Hail Mary…" (n. 176). We thank God for this wonderful example of holiness that He has given us. May our Blessed Mother intercede for us, and remind each of us of our own calling to holiness in the world today.

Bp John Rodrigues is an Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay.

06 Mary - Model and Teacher of Values - Fr William Fernandes

posted Sep 6, 2018, 10:41 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 10:41 AM ]

Mary, Model and Teacher of Wisdom and Holiness' must become for us all a Model for Teachers' Day. This day dedicated to Teachers is a special invitation to all our dear teachers to heed Mary's invitation to be a true teacher of Gospel values. Yes, what Mary is by a singular privilege of Grace, we are called to become by collaborating with grace won for us by the fruits of her Son's redemption.

If someone were to ask us who is a holy person, there would be a variety of answers. A holy person is one who is very prayerful, and very close to God. A holy person is one who makes God the very centre of their lives and beings. A holy person is one who willingly does God's will and carries it out faithfully in their daily lives. All these answers are absolutely correct, but that is not what holiness is all about. It is much more, something that you and I have never thought about.

Mary's holiness consisted in more than just being a prayerful and God-centred person. Her holiness was seen very specially in accepting God's will, despite the fact that her life would consist of many sufferings and tribulations, to see her one and only Son with eyes of faith, hanging on the Cross to die a shameful death, and still believe that this was God's will for her. Mary never grumbled; she never wavered in her faith and love for God. She knew with conviction that God, who had called her, would be with her and never let her down. We all know how Mary was rewarded for her consistent faith and trust in God.

Today, we want to say: Teachers, we sincerely thank God for each of you. First of all, we thank God for your generous response to His call and invitation he has given each of you to be a teacher. We have always considered the job of a teacher to be a special VOCATION, not merely a profession. Many good teachers whose loyalty and commitment is sometimes questioned with accusations and blamed for the poor performance of some of their students still continue to remain firm in their conviction and belief that God who called them would be their strength and support. The biggest challenge a teacher must face is that of engaging herself/himself in moulding the character of her/his students.


07 The Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross - Fr Errol Fernandes SJ

posted Sep 6, 2018, 10:38 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 10:38 AM ]

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross is one of the 12 great feasts in the yearly Church cycle. Because the Cross is at the heart and centre of all that we as Christians believe, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the triumph of the Cross of Christ over the power of sin and death. The feast, which is celebrated on September 14, provides us with another opportunity to reflect on the central mystery of our faith: that the one who was lifted up on the Cross in crucifixion has triumphed over the power of sin and death because God highly exalted Him.

This feast commemorates two historical events: first, the finding of what was considered the Cross of Christ in the year 326 by the mother of Constantine the Great, St Helen, and second its recovery from Persia in 628.

A story is told of Emperor Heraclius who in the year 628, after making peace with the Persians, carried what was considered the Cross on which Jesus hung back to Jerusalem on his shoulders. He was clothed with costly garments and with ornaments of precious stones. But at the entrance to Mt Calvary, a strange incident occurred. Try as hard as he would, he could not go forward. Zacharias, the Bishop of Jerusalem, then said to the astonished monarch: "Consider, O Emperor, that with these triumphal ornaments, you are far from resembling Jesus carrying His Cross." The Emperor then put on a penitential garb and continued the journey, and carried the Cross into the Church of Holy Wisdom, where it was triumphantly exalted. It was then resolved that the Feast of the Triumph or Exaltation of the Cross be celebrated by the Church in all parts of the world.

The Cross — because of what it represents — is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. It is a constant reminder — and witness — of Christ's ultimate triumph, His victory over sin and death through His suffering and dying on the Cross. The Cross, once a tool of death, has become a means to life, an instrument of our salvation. It gives strength to resist temptation, it gives hope to seek new life, and it dispels fear and darkness.


08 Championing the Cause of the Girl-Child - Shonel R Teke

posted Sep 6, 2018, 10:36 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 10:36 AM ]

Earlier this year, the rape and murder of eight-year-old Asifa and rumours of socio-religious and political motives ignited a lengthy debate about the safety of the girl-child in India. We were horrified, distraught, wary to the point of paranoia, but a few months later, the issue died down. Would we be this calm, if it had happened to one of our own? Or would we, like the rest of society, urge the victim's family to hush because, you know, "what will people say?"

How safe then is the girl-child? Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too?

On Women's Day 2018, the United Nations urged us to push the pace of progress for women everywhere. This is particularly relevant in view of the unsettling research findings from the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report that described the huge disparity between men and women in fields of economics and finance, education and health. Human rights and gender inequality are prominent global challenges today. While we continue to fight for career opportunities, health benefits and equal wages for women, we need to identify the fundamental root of the problem.

We need to begin with the girl-child and address the discriminatory challenges faced by our daughters on a regular basis.

History has shown that empowering women has benefited the family as a unit, the community, society and the world. Starting early, educating young girls combats various social evils such as child marriage, dowry, declining health and domestic violence. Armed with a degree, our girls are breaking the glass ceiling, seeking skilled employment with competitive pay, and eventually boosting the economy.

As we celebrate Girl Child Day (Sept. 8), we should look at how we can push the pace of progress for our young ones. Where do we start? Here are some steps that can help us move away from gender-appropriate roles and gender discrimination, and move towards creating an inclusive world for our girls:

• Safety and Trust

We have to teach our young ones (girls and boys) the difference between a good touch and a bad one. Encourage them to speak up, even if it is about a close relative or trusted friend, and be open to their views. If in doubt, consult a child counsellor or a doctor, but don't keep silent.


10 The Stamp we missed of Our Lady - Pascal Roque Lopes

posted Sep 6, 2018, 10:35 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 10:35 AM ]

Our Lady of Fatima" is the title given to the Virgin Mary based on six reported apparitions of her witnessed by the three shepherd children in Portugal. She is also called Our Lady of the Rosary. The apparition occurred at the town of Fatima in Portugal on the thirteenth day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting from May 13 till October 13. It's a century since then. The Portuguese Indian States of Goa, Diu & Daman and Portugal's other colonies in Asia issued stamps commemorating this event. A specific stamp series was issued marking the 50th Year of this apparition.

In 1948, the Portuguese Indian states of Goa, Diu & Daman issued a bluish green stamp featuring a painting of Mary by Stefano Morri. It shows Mary clothed in white, radiating light, wearing a veil with a gold border covering her head and shoulders. Hands folded, holding the Rosary. This is how the children had described her. The stamp also shows three shepherd children Lucia Santos, and her two cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto praying in front of Mary. The stamp mentions Nossa Senhora de Fátima, has a value of 1 Tanga and mentioning India Portuguesa. The Portuguese ruled India since the 15th Century. They moved out of Vasai in 1739, but continued to rule the Portuguese State of India Goa, Diu & Daman till 1962.

Portugal issued these stamps, not only for the Portuguese Indian States, but also for its other colonies in Asia. They have issued a stamp on one single stamp sheet that has stamps for all their colonies in Asia. Countries mentioned on the stamps are Indian Portuguese, Cabo Verde, Guine, S. Tome E Principle, Angola, Mozambique, Macau and Timor. This stamp sheet is very well known as the Fatima Sheet of 1951.

The stamp sheet at the centre has the image of Pope Pius XII who was the Pope in the period of World War II. Pope Pius XII was a great devotee of Mary. He proposed the doctrine on the Queenship of Mary and established this feast for the Universal Church. In this feast, we celebrate Mary as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. On May 13, 1942, the 25th anniversary of the first apparition and silver jubilee of the Episcopal consecration of Pope Pius XII, the Vatican published the Message and Secret of Fatima. In May 1946, he authorised his personal representative, Cardinal Masalla, to preside over a canonical coronation of the image of Our Lady of Fatima, in Portugal. On the centre top of this sheet, you see Mary crowned; the stamp celebrates the feast of Queenship of Mary.


11 Come September - Celine D'souza

posted Sep 6, 2018, 10:34 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 10:34 AM ]

Come early September, and the metropolitan city of Mumbai comes alive with all roads leading to Mount Mary's Basilica, Bandra. And why not? After all, each one wants to wish our dearly beloved Mother Mary, the mother of all mothers, a very happy birthday like we do our own mother. Never mind that there is no mention of the exact date of her birth in the Bible; and never mind the fact that this festival has now turned boisterous and rowdy, much to the annoyance of the residents of Bandra.

But nothing, not rain, sunshine, mist, fog can curb the festive fervour every year. One marvels at the never decreasing faith, trust and love of Mumbaikars sprawled all over the suburbs and SoBo. Yes, all are there on bended knees, praying their hearts out, crying for help in need. Such faith — as the Bible says, 'You believe because you have seen; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.' Thronging the basilica in blind faith are crowds of diverse castes, creeds and religions, young and aged, princes and paupers.

The basilica itself is a beauty to behold during the entire fortnight. Being a seasoned Bandraite, I've seen it, in and out of feast, a privilege for me which I cherish and guard close to my heart. The stone walls are scrubbed, rubbed and bathed to strut their brilliance when the sun lights up the edifice, and the shadows of the illuminated steeples crowned with crosses tap dance on the moonlit waters of the Arabian sea. At the crack of dawn, the melodious sound of the two shrine bells (rung only on feast days) can be heard far above the buzz of the cicadas and other winged insects infesting the Bandstand seaface resonate over the chimes of other church bells in the vicinity. Inside the church, an amazing grace can be experienced when one looks at our Mother, dressed in her golden robe, standing tall on the main altar bearing the words: ALL GENERATIONS SHALL CALL ME BLESSED, and from the arduously built makeshift altar in the shamiana, with a different message every year as a backdrop. The feast and Fair is an affair to remember till the next year. In my home (as in most Bandra homes), one member or all participate in the nine days Novena prior to the feast, and following each of the festive seven days, return back with hands full of charcoal roasted chana. The wares at the fair have diminished in quality, yet it was "bought at the Bandra Fair"! A little away from the church, one can't miss the aroma from a small stall in a niche, as the woman calls out, "Choris Pav" —a tasty spicy treat of bread stuffed with pork sausage, to be washed down by a mini cup of tea or coffee, poured from two stainless steel kettles balanced on a bicycle


12 Elevating Human Dignity - Yorick Fonseca

posted Sep 6, 2018, 10:32 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 10:33 AM ]

Matthew 8:20 - And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region has a population of around 21.3 million, with 12.4 million in Greater Mumbai alone. An estimated 42% of that population lives in slums, in the most deplorable conditions with cramped spaces, narrow vermin-infested lanes, choked gutters, inadequate toilets, and residents exposed to a higher risk of disease, crime and social ills.

Slums have arisen in various parts of the city due to very high land costs and rent controls, coupled with an influx of migrants in search of economic opportunity, a lack of affordable housing, and a slow-moving public policy machinery unable to cope with the problem. While some slums are newer, dating back to the 1950s or 1960s, others are much older.

Dharavi, once known as Asia's largest slum until it was surpassed by others, dates back to the late 1800s, when the then British administration relegated so-called dirty industries such as tanning, metal-working and pottery, to what was, at the time, the outskirts of the city. While Dharavi has a very high population density, today larger slums exist elsewhere.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) defines a slum household as a group of individuals living under the same roof who lack one or more of the following: housing made of durable and protective material; sufficient living space; easy access to clean water at an affordable price; access to adequate toilet facilities; and security of tenure that prevents forced eviction.

The slums in Mumbai, as elsewhere, exist on land that has been encroached by settlers over time—be it private, public, corporate or charitable Trust-owned lands. Over the years, the state has made laws and regulations to evict encroachers, upgrade structures, and/or rehabilitate the people living on encroached plots and resettle them onsite or elsewhere.


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