the Examiner Articles

Another Pentecost!

Dr Fiorello Mascarenhas SJ


Most Christians probably know that the event of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit by Jesus is called the first Pentecost, and that it is recorded in Chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles: "Tongues as of fire rested on each person present, etc." It signalled the birthday of the Church, transforming a motley group of frightened and confused apostles and disciples into the "Body of Christ." For over 2000 years since then, Jesus' prophecy to Simon Peter, "I will build my Church on rock, and the powers of hell will never prevail against it, etc." (Mt 16:18), has been proved true.

But how many have noticed a second Pentecost soon after, recorded in Acts 4:29-33? "'And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your servant Jesus.' And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power, the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all."

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Come, Holy Spirit

Fr Anto Denish


O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beam. - St Augustine of Hippo

 In the glorious occasion of Pentecost, we recall the event that birthed the Church – the descent of the Holy Spirit. This event paved the way for the proclamation of Christ to the entire world, thus resulting in an opportunity for all people to experience His love.

The word 'Pentecost' is derived from the Greek word Pentekoste, which means 'fiftieth'. This is a very auspicious day and a day of great importance not only in the New Testament, but also in the Old Testament. In Jewish tradition, it is celebrated as the Jewish feast of Shavout, also known as the Feast of the Weeks. It is celebrated on the 50th day after the Passover, to commemorate the day when Moses returned from Mount Sinai with the Torah. As per the account provided in the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples gathered on Pentecost, which means they were all together in Jerusalem for Shavout, which is one of the three pilgrimage feasts where every Jew is instructed to journey physically to Jerusalem and appear before the Lord. In the liturgical year of the Church, Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Easter and ten days after the Ascension of Jesus Christ.

 Why is Pentecost considered such an important event?

One only needs to see Peter stand bold and tall, renewed by the Holy Spirit, to raise his voice and address the entire crowd (Acts 1:15). He reminds the people of God's promise of pouring out His Spirit (Joel 2:28) and making them whole. Peter's Spirit-filled words managed to pierce the hearts of the listeners, and about 3000 people were baptised that very day. Here again, 3000 is a very important number, as we correlate this with Exodus 32:28 where we see Moses, returning from Mount Sinai after receiving the Ten Commandments.

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Called to be Spirit-Filled Evangelisers

Fr Clifford D'Souza


The word 'Pentecost' derives from the Greek word for 'fifty'. It marks 50 days after Passover on the Jewish calendar and 50 days after Easter on the Christian calendar. We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus' disciples gathered in Jerusalem after His ascension.

In John 20, however, the gift of the Holy Spirit takes place earlier, on the evening of Easter Sunday. The risen Jesus invites His disciples to carry on the mission given Him by His heavenly Father, and empowers them to do so by breathing upon them, and saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit." Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that every day is Pentecost in the sense that "to each individual, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit." All baptised Christians are privileged and empowered to be members of the Body of Christ, and so they can, and should, use their spiritual gifts to build up the Body of Christ.

Luke's version of the first Pentecost is the biblical account that has most captured the Christian imagination. Fifty days after Easter, the disciples of Jesus gather for prayer in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit comes upon them in dramatic fashion, with a strong wind and "tongues of fire." They began to speak in different languages, and miraculously, their proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was heard and understood by Jewish pilgrims from different countries with different native languages.

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Hope does not disappoint: Pope Francis' decree for Jubilee Year 2025

Gerard O’Connell


 

Pope Francis promulgated the decree, known as a "Bull of Indiction" for the Jubilee Year 2025 on May 9, which he will open in St Peter's Basilica on Dec. 24, 2024, and close on Jan. 6, 2026.

Hope is the central message of this 8,400 words decree, known by its Latin title Spes non Confundit (Hope does not disappoint), a copy of which Pope Francis gave to prelates representing the four major Roman basilicas and the churches on the different continents at a solemn ceremony in front of the Holy Door of St Peter's Basilica on May 9, the feast of the Ascension.

In the bull, which in some parts reads like a social encyclical, Pope Francis told believers that in this Jubilee Year, "we are called to be tangible signs of hope for those of our brothers and sisters who experience hardship of any kind." He emphasised the need for diplomacy to resolve the wars and armed conflicts around the world, called on leaders to address the needs of "the billions" of poor people in the world who lack food and water, and appealed—as Pope John Paul II did in the Jubilee Year 2000—for the cancellation of the debts of poor countries, and amnesty or pardon for prisoners.

Following a tradition that has Biblical origins, the first Jubilee in the Catholic Church was proclaimed in the year 1300 by Pope Boniface VIII, and since then, a Jubilee Year has been held every 25 years. This is Pope Francis' second jubilee, as he decreed an extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and breaking with precedent, opened it in the war-torn Central African Republic in November 2015.

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Stories from the Hills - Woeful Hope!

Fr Austin Norris


Went for a holiday; came back hurt and humbled. This is how I would sum up my sojourn in the Himalayan hills amidst the grandeur of Srinagar, Kashmir.

The environment there is so appealing and the surrounding hills lock you in a cocoon of cool air amidst pristine snow-capped mountains with exotic flowers, fruits and greenery to soothe. As you take in the freshness, people you meet along the way bring in stories and experiences that warm, rattle, encourage, sadden, and/or gear you up for further hope-filled witness.

The people we met were clergy, religious and lay people from different parts of our country, as well as families from Mumbai, who were there on a holiday. These as well as the people of the hills were able to open up and be candid about their life experiences. Amidst the cool and inviting clime, the sharings were a mixed bag that left me numb, sad, joyous, angry, yet hopeful.

Our lodgings had a pleasant church, well maintained layout, flowering lawns, clean sheets and warm water. The Eucharist was a great start to what we knew would normally be a wonderful day from there on – long rides to different destinations that mark the beauty of this place, but what transpired over conversations at breakfast and dinner really took the cake in terms of opening our mind and heart and horizons to the Church beyond the city of Mumbai.

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Artificial Intelligence and the Wisdom of the Heart 

Rev. Dr Anrald Mahesh SDB


Towards a Fully Human Communication

On January 24, 2024, on the liturgical memorial of St Francis de Sales, patron of journalists and communicators, Pope Francis announced the Message for the 58th World Day of Social Communications (WDSC), which is celebrated on May 12, 2024. The Holy See Press Office noted the increasing integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into communication, blurring the lines between computation and human thought. This evolution presents challenges, particularly in preventing AI from contributing to disinformation and exacerbating loneliness. It emphasises the importance of guiding AI and algorithms to promote responsible awareness and foster meaningful human communication, ultimately aiming for a fuller life for individuals. The Holy Father recalls the very topical theme of AI, on which he dwelt at the beginning of the year in his Message for the World Day of Peace, to propose the reflection on "a change that involves everyone, not only professionals," arousing "enthusiasm and disorientation," and inevitably confronting basic questions: "What is wo/man, what is her/his specificity, and what will be the future of this species of ours called homo sapiens in the age of AI? How can we remain fully human and direct the ongoing cultural change towards the good?"

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A Jubilee grace: Vatican announces Holy Year Indulgence

 Christopher Wells


The Vatican has issued a new decree regarding the ways Catholic faithful can receive the Jubilee Indulgence during the 2025 Holy Year. This decree, issued by the Apostolic Penitentiary, outlines several methods through which indulgences can be granted. The concept of an indulgence in Catholic teaching, clarified post-Second Vatican Council by Pope Paul VI, refers to the remission of the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven, available under specific conditions through the Church's ministry.

The decree reaffirms the validity of existing indulgences and introduces three primary avenues for earning the Jubilee Indulgence: making pilgrimages to designated sacred sites, visiting certain sacred places, and performing acts of mercy and penance.

 Pilgrimages are central to the Jubilee year's observances. Faithful can visit major religious sites such as the four Major Papal Basilicas in Rome—St Peter's, St John Lateran, St Mary Major, and St Paul's Outside the Walls. Additional sites include significant basilicas in the Holy Land—such as the Basilicas of the Holy Sepulchre, the Nativity, and the Annunciation—as well as cathedrals and other designated sacred locations around the world. The indulgence at these sites can be obtained by participating in various religious activities, including attending Mass, engaging in the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, or other specified devotions.

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