the Examiner Articles

Living Lent the Jesus way

 Fr Errol Fernandes SJ


In Matthew's Sermon on the Mount (5:1 - 7:29), the Matthean Jesus speaks of three pious practices prevalent at that time, namely, almsgiving, prayer and fasting. More specifically, they appear in Mt 6:1-6, 16-18, which is traditionally read on Ash Wednesday. Jesus prefaces the instructions on the HOW of these practices with what may be seen as an anchor to what follows. This anchor is that there ought to be no ostentatiousness. Pomposity is condemned in the practice of pious duties. There is a great difference between living a conspicuously good and godly life (5:13-16) and striving to gain a reputation for piety. The difference lies not only in the motive, but in the result; the former brings glory to God, the latter only to the self. The ostentatious person gets his/her reward from humans which is not the true reward, the one received from God. The ostentatious person is a hypocrite (originally meaning 'actor') because he/she is performing before an audience in order to impress and gain applause.

In this regard, it is instructive to note that Jesus does not use the imperative before His teaching on the pious practices. This means that He does not impel a person to give alms, pray or fast. Instead, He uses the adverb "when" or "whenever" which exhorts and even encourages, but does not force. In other words, what is done must be done from within one's heart, and because one wants to do it for the deed itself.

We can look at almsgiving, prayer and fasting as metaphors in which almsgiving may be seen as an outward activity flowing from an inner disposition, prayer as an inward activity that results in an outer transformation, and fasting which is both inward and outward.

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Lent: The Season of Cleansing

 Fr Allam Sagar Manoj Kumar


Moses spent forty days in the presence of the Lord. By His Word and by the fire from the bush, God cleansed Moses and gave him power to lead the people of Israel in the wilderness for forty years. Let us also spend these forty days of Lent in the presence of the Lord and plead with the Holy Spirit to cleanse us. We must live a pure and holy life, and God will work miracles. God loves holiness, because He is the Holy God of Holiness. Therefore, Joshua says, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you" (Joshua 3:5).

Here we need to understand that living a holy life means having love, kindness, goodness and patience. But an unholy life is full of hatred, jealousy, vengeance, selfishness and worldly pleasures, and such people will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21). Let us ask the Holy Spirit to remove all that is unholy in our lives.

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God" (Mt 5:8). Pure in heart means those who have been cleansed from all unrighteousness. If the heart does not function properly, the doctors operate and set it right. Similarly, the filth in the hearts of people can be cleansed only by our Lord Jesus. We have to cry out to the Lord like David, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

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Final Statement of the XXXVI CBCI Biennial General Body Meeting

 

Jan. 31-Feb. 07, 2024, at St John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, India

 

INTRODUCTION

1. With joyful confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, we, the 170 Bishops of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), gathered at St John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, from January 31 to February 07, 2024, for our XXXVI General Assembly to reflect on the theme: The Church's Response to the Current Socio-Political Situation of the Country and the Benefits and Challenges of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Our reflection was done against the backdrop of the ongoing 'Synod on Synodality' (October 2021-October 2024) with the theme 'Communion-Mission-Participation' which encapsulates the essential nature of the Church. Synodality calls us to listen to the Spirit and to each other, "For in the one Spirit we were all baptised into one body" (1 Cor 12:13). We were inspired by the call of Pope Francis: "Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travellers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same Earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all" (Fratelli Tutti 8).

 I. THE CURRENT SOCIO-POLITICAL SITUATION AND OUR RESPONSE

2. Ours is an ancient civilisation with a rich cultural heritage of unity in diversity. Indians cherish the values of religious harmony, non-violence and peace which are enshrined in the Constitution. During the CBCI Meeting, responding to the signs of the time, we first reviewed the situation currently prevailing in our country. India has made tremendous advances in the scientific, technological,economic and other fields; the country has been acknowledged as an emerging economic power in the world. The Christian Community feels proud of our country's progress. However, we do find grave reasons for concern:

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The Rainbow and the Desert

 Christopher Mendonca


Conjectures of a Modern-day Noah: (A Soliloquy)

 

I have found it most useful to pray the Scriptures

by reading from Texts that have been annotated

with cross-references to other Texts

which provide the context for what one is reading.

It invariably gives me a sense of perspective

that takes me beyond myself, beyond my personality,

and connects to the spark of divine essence within me.

The story of Noah and the Flood had always intrigued me,

the resultant Covenant signed off with a 'rainbow' of colours,

a sign of hope and restoration.

Many centuries later, I still found myself reaching out

for that elusive rainbow on the horizon,

until it dawned on me that the horizon

is nothing but the limit of one's vision.

Chasing rainbows is all about chasing illusions,

much like mirages in a desert.

The rainbow doesn't exist in itself;

it is inherent in the collective prism of raindrops

in which it has its being.

A curious cross-reference to Noah's story

is the narration of Jesus' journey to the desert

where He is tempted to chase after illusions.

The deliberate linking of two apparently unconnected events

forced me to abandon linear thinking,

very much like a Buddhist koan, which is designed

to wean us away from conditioned thinking,

and move to a sense of inner awareness and intuition.

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Sacrosanctum Concilium - 

What we have done; what we have failed to do!

 Fr Savio de Sales


Our study of Vatican II documents continues with this summary of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Liturgy.

 

The Second Vatican Council Fathers wisely began the deliberations of Vatican II with the Sacred Liturgy, precisely because of its significance in the life of the Church. The liturgy is "the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 2).

After articulating the nature of the liturgy, which is to build up and strengthen the body of Christ, the document prepares to articulate principles whereby the liturgy may be renewed, chiefly so that the liturgy may be that source which imparts "an ever-increasing vigour to the Christian life of the faithful."

The principles used to assist the Church in liturgical renewal involve an understanding of the nature of the Sacred Liturgy. At the heart of what the Church celebrates in the Sacred Liturgy is a continuation of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ and an expression of His mission to bring about salvation and reconciliation for the whole world.

The Council states: "Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, 'the same now offering, through the ministry of the priests, who formerly offered himself on the Cross,' but especially under the Eucharistic species" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 7).

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The Daughters of St Paul mark two significant Anniversaries

 

February 5, 2024 marks two important anniversaries for the Daughters of St Paul – the 60th anniversary of the birth to heaven of Sr Thecla Merlo, co-foundress of the Institute, and the 30th anniversary of the launching of the Pauline Publications' trademark. It is a significant opportunity to reflect on the lived history and to revitalise the mission of evangelisation in the contemporary world.

February 1964. Teresa Merlo was born in Castagnito (Cuneo, Piedmont), Italy, on February 20, 1894; the second of four children of Ettore and Vincenza Rolando. In June 1915, she first met Fr James Alberione in Alba, in the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damien, and responded to his invitation to collaborate in establishing the Congregation of the Daughters of St Paul. On July 22, 1922, she made her private religious profession and took the name Thecla; Fr Alberione appointed her Superior General of the newly formed Institute. From then on, she would be his faithful collaborator, both in the development of the Daughters of St Paul and for the other branches of the Pauline Family. On June 28, 1961, on the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, she offered her life so that all the Daughters of St Paul might be holy. On February 5, 1964, she died in Albano (Rome), at the Regina Apostolorum clinic. And on January 22, 1991, she was proclaimed Venerable.

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Inclusion of the Differently Abled

 Shamane Rebello


It is the Year of the Differently Abled in the Archdiocese of Bombay.

 

Pope Francis' Universal Intention for December 2023 for PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES reads – "We pray that people living with disabilities may be the centre of attention in society, and institutions may offer inclusive programmes which value and enhance their active participation." The Holy Father added that creating "a completely accessible parish does not only mean eliminating physical barriers; it also assumes that we stop talking about 'them' and start talking about 'us'."Therefore, every life – including those of the unborn, those with disabilities, the infirm, and the elderly – is precious, and must be protected, nurtured and loved, and the dignity of all human persons respected and served. 

What's The Problem?    

• Up to 39 million people in India live with some form of intellectual or developmental disability such as autism and Down's syndrome.

• These persons with disabilities continue to be excluded from India's mainstream development narrative, despite laws that recognise and protect their rights.

• They are stigmatised and widely considered less deserving of opportunities for education and employment. (Dasra, 2019)

 

What's a Developmental Disability?

A developmental disability, according to the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (2000), is defined as a severe, chronic disability which originates at birth or during early childhood, is expected to continue indefinitely, and substantially restricts the individual's functioning in several major life activities.

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