Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 49 • DEC 08 - 14, 2018

01 Cover

posted Dec 5, 2018, 9:31 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 9:32 AM ]

03 Index

posted Dec 5, 2018, 9:30 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 9:30 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted Dec 5, 2018, 9:24 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 9:28 AM ]

05 Editorial - Fairest of Creatures - Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted Dec 5, 2018, 9:21 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 9:21 AM ]

The Immaculate Conception, God's glorious work, indicates His loving power to make us holy. Our Blessed Lady's integrity or holiness right from the moment of conception to be the fairest of all creatures is not something achieved by her own human effort. It is a pure gift of God, graciously given to her for a saving purpose, on behalf of us all.

Today's feast is grounded on belief in a provident, gracious God, who foresees the future, and entrusts to His children their assigned task in life, even before they are born, a God who equips us with all we need to play our assigned role.

While still in the womb, unborn, God anoints those men and women whom He chooses as prophets and leaders of His people. Jeremiah was told, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."

God does not send us into this world to fight among ourselves for the survival of the fittest, as in the animal kingdom. This is not the destiny of the people of God, redeemed by grace from the harmful effects of the Fall. As we admire our Blessed Lady, God's most favoured one, 'Full of grace' on the feast of her conception, let us thank God for His love and mercy which embraces us right from the moment of our own conception

Everything is gift; everything good in us is by God's grace. For we all, children of God, are also favoured and heirs of God's grace. Yet, Mary remains the most favoured one, the mother of all graced ones, the one that enjoys the fullness of grace. For it was supremely fitting that the woman who brought our Saviour into the world should be herself totally free from sin and available to do God's work.

Today, we honour the Immaculate Conception—the creation of Mary in her mother's womb—and we are awed once more at how God works. God so loved the world that in the fullness of time, He gave the world His only begotten son. Yet we recall that He also gave us Mary—this perfect vessel to contain His son, a woman unstained by original sin, so that, from the moment of her conception, she was Immaculate.

To a skeptical world—or to a puzzled teenager in Nazareth—it all sounds impossible. But of course, nothing is impossible with God. A popular carol from this time of year rejoices in the 'wonders of His love'. This feast underscores the extravagant love that places at the forefront a humble peasant girl 'full of grace'—the great collaborator in God's plan for our salvation.

In doing that, God set the stage for the beautiful event mentioned in the Gospel of the Annunciation, which brought about another conception, when Mary conceived Jesus in her womb.

How could we not exult in this? "Sing to the Lord a new song," the psalmist tells us tonight, "for he has done wondrous deeds." He has made His salvation known! In particular, we remember it is a salvation that began long before the first Gospel was written.

It began before the words He spoke or the miracles He worked. It began before the empty tomb. It began before Calvary. It started before the stable in Bethlehem, and even before the visit from an angel in Nazareth. It is a salvation that, in a real and tangible way, began with the event we commemorate—the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

The Immaculate Conception of Mary—just like all the other great moments of our history—is a moment that defines us and uplifts us and that bears, somehow, the fingerprints of God.

06 Climate Justice

posted Dec 5, 2018, 9:16 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 9:17 AM ]

The following appeal is issued by the Church leaders of the continental groupings of episcopal conferences. It is addressed to government leaders and representatives, and it calls on them to work towards an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement for the people and the planet. In particular, we ask for a COP24 Summit (Katowice, Poland, December 2018) able to prove a milestone on the path set out in 2015 in Paris.

Faced with the growing urgency of the current ecological and social crisis, building on and inspired by the work done on the ground over the past three years by so many courageous actors around the world—within the Catholic Church and beyond—to promote and "live" the messages carried by the Encyclical Letter Laudato Si', we call for ambitious and immediate action to be taken in order to tackle and overcome the devastating effects of the climate crisis. These actions need to be taken by the international community at all levels: by persons, communities, cities, regions, nations.

We have heard "the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor". We have listened to the call of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and we stand in solidarity with our Brother Bishops who have already taken stances against the limitless and dangerous use and exploitation of our Mother Earth's resources, as well as our current models of development, supported by financial institutions and systems that put life, community, solidarity, and well-being on earth after profit, wealth and unbridled growth. We must be prepared to make rapid and radical changes (LS 171) and resist the temptation to look for solutions to our current situation in short-term technological fixes, without addressing the root causes and the long-term consequences.


08 Green Advent 2: A Voice cries in the Wilderness - Suren Abreu

posted Dec 5, 2018, 9:15 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 9:15 AM ]

Pop Quiz:

Name the tiger killed most recently in Maharashtra. How many cubs did she have? How many tigers were in the wild 100 years ago? Do you know the same number for India? How many tigers are in India today? What is the annual rate of living species loss? (Answers at the end of this article)

Fact Section

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) postulates that there could be an upper estimate of 100 million species co-existing on this lovely blue-green living planet called Earth. This includes every possible living being: from unicellulars to multicellulars; from ants to elephants; from grass to redwoods; from mackerel to sperm whales; from krill to corals. And all of them exist in a uniquely designed ecosystem, in harmony and synergy with co-existing life forms.

The WWF also postulates that there is a natural rate of extinction by which existing species die out naturally, and that this has been enhanced by 1,000 to 10,000 times, simply because of human intervention! What this means, very starkly, is that every year, every short span of 365 days, every time we celebrate our birthdays, 10,000 to 100,000 (0.01-0.1%) species disappear. Poof! Something beautiful never to be seen again!

To make the difference starker, the natural rate of extinction would be around 10 species a year; human intervention has made it 10,000 to 100,000 species a year.

Forest clearing, mono-cultures, over-fishing, hunting, climate change, imposition of dominant food grains over indigenous varieties, over-use of pesticides and herbicides, pollution, human expansion are the greatest factors at play, with the one greatest being habitat destruction for human expansion!


09 A Silence that Heals - Christopher Mendonca

posted Dec 5, 2018, 9:13 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 9:13 AM ]

The events in the life of the Messiah's "precursor"

are better seen as "precedents", rather than 'antecedents'.

They are not merely things that happened earlier in time

as part of a sequence of events.

We set a precedent; an antecedent merely comes before.

It is like the bell that rings in the last lap of a marathon.

John will personify the signs we must look for

as we await the coming of the Saviour.

That being the case, his whole life becomes a prism.

It reflects for us the various shades of the spectrum

that the LIGHT of the World holds within himself.

Just as the rainbow at the time of Noah

was a sign of a new beginning and a healing,

John becomes the Rainbow of the New Testament.

And in his preaching, the Rainbow makes a Promise,

a Covenant, that LIFE is here to stay,

a Covenant characterised by Silence.


10 A Saint for our Times - Antonio V Francisco Fernandes

posted Dec 5, 2018, 9:09 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 9:12 AM ]

The elevation of Pope Paul VI to sainthood on October 14, 2018 did not get as much coverage as the canonisation of his successor, Pope John Paul II, four years ago, but its relevance to the modern times is very significant. He was, by all accounts, a holy man who stood his ground, even at the cost of being unpopular. Sanctity and popularity don't always go together. He was called conservative for some of his teachings, and progressive for others.

We live in times when laws that are made are not always based on right versus wrong, or the dictates of conscience, but on the expectations of the majority, which in turn can be shaped by the media and manipulated by vested interests. Anything that goes contrary to the popular trend becomes the object of intense prejudice, or even hatred. To stand up against a popular trend or to stand for certain values in the face of opposition becomes a difficult proposition, and requires the courage of conviction. And Pope Paul VI, now Saint Pope Paul VI, surely shows us the way.

Among his various encyclicals and exhortations, the following stand out: Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelisation in the Modern World), Populorum Progressio (The Development of Peoples) and Humanae Vitae (On Human Life). These writings were either welcomed or criticised; the last being the subject of controversy for a long time. Fifty years later, one can say that Paul VI was prophetic in his pronouncements, when we see the way human life is devalued today.


11 Journalism for Peace - Sr Joeyanna D’Souza FSP

posted Dec 5, 2018, 9:07 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 9:08 AM ]

Journalism refers to the production and distribution of reports on recent events. The good journalist produces reports using literary techniques in order to gain his or her influence in a way which leads from reporting to the real world. This implies that the good journalist manages to bring his or her expression – whether word, image or video, to achieve its goal in the real world. Today, Journalism is not restricted to print, nor is it restricted to words. It could be words, images, videos, or a combination of them all. It could involve various platforms; the more media involved, the more believable it sounds.

The more platforms you use, and the more forms of expression you use, makes it more effective, more believable. Just because it is believable, does it mean that it is TRUE?

Journalism can have a great effect in the life of the reader. Jean Paul Sartre, well known philosopher, said that it is better to be a good journalist than a poor assassin. This could mean that you could kill someone's reputation better as a journalist, than with a weapon of poor quality or skill.

In principle, a journalist is expected to report the truth. The first preference of the journalist's work must be the good of the citizen. Today, however, with increasing subjectivism on moral values, there is a tendency for journalists to take it easy. It is when a journalist does his or her job well, that she or he is bound to suffer.


12 Youth Pages

posted Dec 5, 2018, 9:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 9:06 AM ]

YAA - Mission Manor

The Young Adults Association (YAA) of Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Orlem, Malad, has grown mature over the years; its outreach programmes are helping make some serious contribution to the community. The field visits to Mission sites in Maharashtra is now becoming a regular feature. This year, on the occasion of the World Day of the Poor, YAA planned a visit to Shanti Seva Mandal Trust at Manor, Palghar for the working youth of the parish aged between 25 to 40 years. The aim of these Mission programmes is mainly to give an opportunity to experience what life at the Missions is, and to understand the hardships many of the underprivileged face, first-hand. Keeping this in mind, on November 17-18, a two-day trip was planned. At the crack of dawn, 18 enthusiastic young adults, along with Fr Oniel Rodrigues, the Spiritual Director of YAA, made the two-hour journey by bus to Manor.

We received a very warm welcome by Fr Linus D'Mello, the priest in-charge of Shanti Seva Mandal Trust. He told us about the works carried out at Manor; while there are many government initiatives being carried out, there is still a lot more to be done. Majority of the villagers earn their livelihood by taking up jobs at the surrounding industrial units or working at the brick kilns. Farming on a large scale isn't an option, due to the very high temperatures and lack of irrigation facilities.

What is of notable mention is that the Trust receives regular help and support from a variety of communities, and not just from Christians. The Mission does not conduct schools; however, it provides boarding for about 150 boys and girls who come from far off villages to attend the Zilla Parishad school. The Trust caters to their food and school stationery. Also, they provide the children with basic computer knowledge. The Trust also provides tuition services to about 1200 students from the area. The main challenge is keeping the kids in school. Due to poverty, each member of the family is required to contribute, and the schools see a drop in number of students in the secondary section. To try and change the fate of the villagers, the Trust has started providing saplings of fruit trees, so that the villagers can be self-sufficient and sell their produce in the local markets. This has been a successful initiative, and many more villages have started adopting this methodology.


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