25 September, 2016

‘YOUTH ALIVE’ WORKSHOP'


‘YOUTH ALIVE’ WORKSHOP FOR THE YOUTH OF
ST. XAVIER’S PARISH, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad.
The Youth Alive was a workshop conducted by Rev Fr. John Barretto, the former Youth Director of the Archdiocese of Mumbai. The workshop was conducted on 18th September 2016, Sunday at the Parish hall in St Xavier’s college Parish Church, Navrangpura. There were 70 youth participants from our parish.

The event commenced at 9:15am by welcoming Fr Baretto. After the prayer we had our first icebreaking session. It was helpful as we got a chance to interact with new people. It was a good start as the participants were energized with this activity. As it is said, a good start paves the way to success.

The next activity comprised of working in pairs over a set of questions. It was actually a pressure task as Father created an environment of competition and difficulty. It was quite similar to the tasks we face in normal day-to-day life. We get engulfed in the competition and hence fail to see the minute details.

The next activity that followed was a group activity. Each group of 8-9 members was given a different task to work upon. It was either a skit or a design or a poster. All the groups came up with very innovative ideas. There were groups that spoke on The Illuminati, Gender Equality, Women in Sports, New Machine invented, etc. It was a wonderful way to nurture the skills required to work in a group of new people with varying ages. We learnt to accept other’s ideas, give our own opinion, see the potential and talent of the other, realize our own plus points and most importantly Team work.

We had a short tea break before the commencement of the presentations. Then we had the presentations and then a talk on increasing our positive attributes, reducing our negatives and achieving our Needs. Fr. John very well categorized all the different attributes linked with our lives. The main point highlighted and focused here was “Belongingness”. Many members join the youth but fail to continue because they feel the others don’t want them, they don’t feel the sense of belongingness and hence discontinue.

After the lunch break, the session commenced at 2pm. It started with few games such as bursting the balloon, passing the polo etc. This lightened the atmosphere and drove away our sleep. Then we had an intense session where father spoke on Fellowship, Formation and Service as the primary objectives of a parish youth group. He asked to note activities for each of the following. The groups came up with unique ideas like Food contests, Worship Band, Visit to the sick and elderly, helping the others in studies, sports, music etc. Father also mentioned that the activity doesn’t end here. We need to make a schedule for three months or more having an activity each for fellowship, formation and service.

After this each group was given an event to plan. All the groups worked intently on the event given, seeing to every detail. This activity made us re-think the different aspects that need to be looked into before, after and during the event. An important point given by father was – the need to put tasks done by individuals on paper. Everybody gets a feeling of belongingness. There were various other aspects of organizing an event that were highlighted.
The workshop ended with a game followed by Holy Eucharistic which was celebrated by Fr. John and Fr. Jose.       

The workshop was a great success as it helped us to achieve our objectives of mobilizing the youth and getting all to work as a group. It helped us identify the talent possessed by others in our youth group. We also learnt how to manage and coordinate with new members in our group. Altogether it was an effective event.
Report Prepared by 
Betsy Fernandes,
The Youth Co-coordinator of St. Xavier’s Parish.

The Sunday Mass - 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 25, 2016)

The Word Exposed - Gospel (September 25, 2016)

21 April, 2016

The Joy of Love


The comedian George Carlin used to say that he was a Roman Catholic “until I reached the age of reason.” For Carlin, that happened sometime in the eighth grade, when all his probing questions about faith were answered with, “well, it’s a mystery.” Of course, as a lifelong contrarian, Carlin also wondered if it was O.K. for a vegetarian to eat animal crackers.
I thought of him while reading the latest institution-shifting document from Pope Francis, “Amoris Laetitia” — the Joy of Love. The title sets the tone for the continuation of a quiet revolution. Note that it’s not called the Job of Love, the Duty of Love or the Unbearable Burden of Love. Instead, the pope implies that there’s considerable fun to be had in human relationships. You can even find in its 256 pages a mention of the “erotic dimension” of love and “the stirring of desire.” Yes, sex. The pope approves of it, in many forms.
And while skeptics were disappointed that the latest apostolic exhortation did not change church teachings regarding Catholics who are divorced or in same-sex marriages, the document signals the end for one particular kind of medieval millstone — Catholic guilt, especially in regard to sex.
He’s not talking here about the guilt that generations of clerics and their enablers should feel for the crimes of sexual abuse against the young, an institutional cancer tied to its own awful pathology.
The new teachings, from a self-professed less-judgmental church, go to the everyday lives of people who don’t believe that they should be constantly reminded of their inadequacies. By emphasizing the inclusive and the positive, the church under Francis strives to be more “modern family” than “monastic denial,” and will even let some things go. “No one can be condemned forever,” says the pope, which seems to rule out that burn-in-hell-for-eternity thing. He offers tips, as well, for how to keep “the passion” alive.
It wasn’t so long ago that hearing the word “erotic” from a man who’s taken a vow of chastity was blush-worthy. Catholic doctrine, as laid out in spiritual statutes governing human conduct, featured an exhaustive list of enumerated offenses.
Sex was dirty. Sex was shameful. Sex was unnatural. Thinking about it was wrong. Premeditation itself was a sin, and so was flirting. Sex had one purpose: procreation, the joyless act of breeding. “The sixth commandment forbids all impurity and immodesty in words, looks and actions,” was admonition No. 256 in the Baltimore Catechism, the standard text used to teach the faith from 1885 to the late 1960s.
No. 256 also warned about the dangers of “sinful curiosity, bad companions, drinking, immodest dress and indecent books, plays and motion pictures.” If that sounds now like the dynamics of a good dinner party, you can also see this pope joining the fun at the table.
I can’t tell you how many Catholics I know who are trying to work through the consequences of those sexual strictures. They wonder if there are still people doing time in purgatory because of the misdemeanor sins of masturbation or premarital sex. Life was all don’ts and dark thoughts.
As Jack Donaghy, the character played by Alec Baldwin in “30 Rock,” explained: “Whether things are good or bad, or you’re simply eating tacos in the park, there is always the crushing guilt.”
The old message was: If you break the rules, you’re condemned. Shame, shame, shame. The new message is: Welcome, for forgiveness is at the heart of this faith.
Sex “is a marvelous gift from God,” Francis wrote. “The stirring of desire or repugnance is neither sinful nor blameworthy.” Those living less than ideal marital unions are no longer vilified as sinners to be scorned. “Irregular unions” is the term coined by Pope Francis.
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“Hence it can no longer be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situations are living in a state of mortal sin,” he wrote. You can read that as a papal pardon of sorts. Yet for this kind of language and fresh air, the pope has come under renewed attack from conservative Catholics. One critic called the latest treatise “The Joy of Sex.” Well, yes.
The pope’s guidance would be a relief to the millions of Catholics living in those newly classified irregular unions, if they ever gave it a second thought. The truth is that a majority of Catholics in Europe and the United States have long since stopped listening to church dictates about sex. A British study in 2013 found that only 1 in 10 regular attendees at Mass felt any guilt over using contraception, long shunned by the church. Evangelical Christians and Muslims were more likely to feel guilt over sexual sins, the survey found.
Pope Francis is merely acknowledging the obvious. As he’s done before, he’s using words to change hearts, rather than trying to wrangle with the rusted plumbing of church doctrine. Still, to George Carlin’s point, some things will always remain a mystery, but then so is love.

16 April, 2016

The End of Catholic Guilt





The End of Catholic Guilt

Timothy Egan APRIL 15, 2016
Shared by John Dayal 0n 16th April 2016
The comedian George Carlin used to say that he was a Roman Catholic “until I reached the age of reason.” For Carlin, that happened sometime in the eighth grade, when all his probing questions about faith were answered with, “well, it’s a mystery.” Of course, as a lifelong contrarian, Carlin also wondered if it was O.K. for a vegetarian to eat animal crackers.
I thought of him while reading the latest institution-shifting document from Pope Francis, “Amoris Laetitia” — the Joy of Love. The title sets the tone for the continuation of a quiet revolution. Note that it’s not called the Job of Love, the Duty of Love or the Unbearable Burden of Love. Instead, the pope implies that there’s considerable fun to be had in human relationships. You can even find in its 256 pages a mention of the “erotic dimension” of love and “the stirring of desire.” Yes, sex. The pope approves of it, in many forms.
And while skeptics were disappointed that the latest apostolic exhortation did not change church teachings regarding Catholics who are divorced or in same-sex marriages, the document signals the end for one particular kind of medieval millstone — Catholic guilt, especially in regard to sex.
He’s not talking here about the guilt that generations of clerics and their enablers should feel for the crimes of sexual abuse against the young, an institutional cancer tied to its own awful pathology.
The new teachings, from a self-professed less-judgmental church, go to the everyday lives of people who don’t believe that they should be constantly reminded of their inadequacies. By emphasizing the inclusive and the positive, the church under Francis strives to be more “modern family” than “monastic denial,” and will even let some things go. “No one can be condemned forever,” says the pope, which seems to rule out that burn-in-hell-for-eternity thing. He offers tips, as well, for how to keep “the passion” alive.
It wasn’t so long ago that hearing the word “erotic” from a man who’s taken a vow of chastity was blush-worthy. Catholic doctrine, as laid out in spiritual statutes governing human conduct, featured an exhaustive list of enumerated offenses.
Sex was dirty. Sex was shameful. Sex was unnatural. Thinking about it was wrong. Premeditation itself was a sin, and so was flirting. Sex had one purpose: procreation, the joyless act of breeding. “The sixth commandment forbids all impurity and immodesty in words, looks and actions,” was admonition No. 256 in the Baltimore Catechism, the standard text used to teach the faith from 1885 to the late 1960s.
No. 256 also warned about the dangers of “sinful curiosity, bad companions, drinking, immodest dress and indecent books, plays and motion pictures.” If that sounds now like the dynamics of a good dinner party, you can also see this pope joining the fun at the table.
I can’t tell you how many Catholics I know who are trying to work through the consequences of those sexual strictures. They wonder if there are still people doing time in purgatory because of the misdemeanor sins of masturbation or premarital sex. Life was all don’ts and dark thoughts.
As Jack Donaghy, the character played by Alec Baldwin in “30 Rock,” explained: “Whether things are good or bad, or you’re simply eating tacos in the park, there is always the crushing guilt.”
The old message was: If you break the rules, you’re condemned. Shame, shame, shame. The new message is: Welcome, for forgiveness is at the heart of this faith.
Sex “is a marvelous gift from God,” Francis wrote. “The stirring of desire or repugnance is neither sinful nor blameworthy.” Those living less than ideal marital unions are no longer vilified as sinners to be scorned. “Irregular unions” is the term coined by Pope Francis.

Sign Up for the Opinion Today Newsletter

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, The Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.
“Hence it can no longer be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situations are living in a state of mortal sin,” he wrote. You can read that as a papal pardon of sorts. Yet for this kind of language and fresh air, the pope has come under renewed attack from conservative Catholics. One critic called the latest treatise “The Joy of Sex.” Well, yes.
The pope’s guidance would be a relief to the millions of Catholics living in those newly classified irregular unions, if they ever gave it a second thought. The truth is that a majority of Catholics in Europe and the United States have long since stopped listening to church dictates about sex. A British study in 2013 found that only 1 in 10 regular attendees at Mass felt any guilt over using contraception, long shunned by the church. Evangelical Christians and Muslims were more likely to feel guilt over sexual sins, the survey found.
Pope Francis is merely acknowledging the obvious. As he’s done before, he’s using words to change hearts, rather than trying to wrangle with the rusted plumbing of church doctrine. Still, to George Carlin’s point, some things will always remain a mystery, but then so is love.

09 April, 2016

Inside Pope Francis’ Statement on the Family

Inside Pope Francis’ Statement on the Family

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN APRIL 8, 2016
In Pope Francis’ long-awaited apostolic exhortation — “Amoris Laetitia,” or “The Joy of Love” — he urges church leaders to serve as nurturing pastors, not as rigid enforcers of doctrine. Related Article
In Pope Francis’ long-awaited apostolic exhortation — “Amoris Laetitia,” or “The Joy of Love” — he urges church leaders to serve as nurturing pastors, not as rigid enforcers of doctrine. Related Article
Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press
Paragraph 79

An Appeal for Greater Empathy

“When faced with difficult situations and wounded families, it is always necessary to recall this general principle: ‘Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations’ (Familiaris Consortio, 84). …. while clearly stating the Church’s teaching, pastors are to avoid judgements that do not take into account the complexity of various situations, and they are to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience and endure distress because of their condition.”
Laurie Goodstein, National Religion Correspondent:
Pope Francis is instructing priests to practice discernment rather than judgment in dealing with the messy realities of people’s lives. Discernment is a spiritual practice taught by the Jesuit religious order to help guide a person through life, and Francis is the first Jesuit pope.
Paragraph 202

Lessons From Married Clergy

“The main contribution to the pastoral care of families is offered by the parish, which is the family of families, where small communities, ecclesial movements and associations live in harmony … ordained ministers often lack the training needed to deal with the complex problems currently facing families. The experience of the broad oriental tradition of a married clergy could also be drawn upon.
Francis cites the value of “a married clergy” in the Eastern Catholic (“oriental”) churches that permit priests to marry. This may raise some eyebrows. Is he open to a married clergy for the Roman Catholic Church? If so, he doesn’t say more.
Paragraph 203

Broader Training for Priests

“Seminarians should receive a more extensive interdisciplinary, and not merely doctrinal, formation in the areas of engagement and marriage. Their training does not always allow them to explore their own psychological and affective background and experiences. Some come from troubled families, with absent parents and a lack of emotional stability. There is a need to ensure that the formation process can enable them to attain the maturity and psychological balance needed for their future ministry.”
The selection and training of seminarians for the priesthood has frequently come under scrutiny in recent decades. Here Francis is asking seminaries that focus largely on doctrine (which is more common in the developing world) to broaden their approach.
Paragraph 226

Encouraging Young Couples

“Young married couples should be encouraged to develop a routine that gives a healthy sense of closeness and stability through shared daily rituals. These could include a morning kiss, an evening blessing, waiting at the door to welcome each other home, taking trips together and sharing household chores. Yet it also helps to break the routine with a party, and to enjoy family celebrations of anniversaries and special events. We need these moments of cherishing God’s gifts and renewing our zest for life.”
Paragraph 237

Reviving Injured Marriages

“At times, all it takes to decide that everything is over is a single instance of dissatisfaction, the absence of the other when he or she was most needed, wounded pride, or a vague fear. Inevitably, situations will arise involving human weakness and these can prove emotionally overwhelming. One spouse may not feel fully appreciated, or may be attracted to another person. Jealousy and tensions may emerge, or new interests that consume the other’s time and attention. Physical changes naturally occur in everyone. These, and so many other things, rather than threatening love, are so many occasions for reviving and renewing it.
Paragraph 250

Denounces Antigay Violence

Every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided,276 particularly any form of aggression and violence. Such families should be given respectful pastoral guidance, so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives.”
The phrase about avoiding “unjust discrimination” against gay people comes straight from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but the instruction to avoid “aggression and violence” is new.
Paragraph 251

Rejection of Same-Sex Marriage

“In discussing the dignity and mission of the family, the Synod Fathers observed that, ‘as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’ It is unacceptable ‘that local Churches should be subjected to pressure in this matter and that international bodies should make financial aid to poor countries dependent on the introduction of laws to establish ‘marriage’ between persons of the same sex.’”
This text was taken from the final report of the bishops synod in 2015. Many of the bishops at the synod were from developing countries, and they are irate at foreign governments and aid organizations that insist on equal treatment of gay people as a condition for financial aid.
Paragraph 252

On Single Parents

“Whatever the cause, single parents must receive encouragement and support from other families in the Christian community, and from the parish’s pastoral outreach. Often these families endure other hardships, such as economic difficulties, uncertain employment prospects, problems with child support and lack of housing.”
Paragraph 283

Questioning ‘Safe Sex’ Message

“Frequently, sex education deals primarily with ‘protection’ through the practice of ‘safe sex.’ Such expressions convey a negative attitude towards the natural procreative finality of sexuality, as if an eventual child were an enemy to be protected against. This way of thinking promotes narcissism and aggressivity in place of acceptance.”
Paragraph 300

New Route Back for Divorced Catholics

“If we consider the immense variety of concrete situations such as those I have mentioned, it is understandable that neither the Synod nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases. What is possible is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases, one which would recognize that, since ‘the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases,’ 335 the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same.336 Priests have the duty to “accompany [the divorced and remarried] in helping them to understand their situation according to the teaching of the Church and the guidelines of the bishop. Useful in this process is an examination of conscience through moments of reflection and repentance. The divorced and remarried should ask themselves: how did they act towards their children when the conjugal union entered into crisis; whether or not they made attempts at reconciliation; what has become of the abandoned party….”
Paragraph 308

A More Attentive Church

“I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, ‘always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street.’”

26 March, 2016

Happy Easter 2016

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Wish all the Visitors to this blog a Very happy Easter 2016

Xavier Parish

St Xavier's college

Ahmedabad

16 March, 2016

Pope Francis will wash the feet of 12 refugees

n a powerful symbolic gesture that is sure to resonate across the globe from Europe to the United States and Australia, Pope Francis will wash the feet of 12 refugees on Holy Thursday in Rome.
He will do so on March 24, at a center that assists migrants in the city. The Vatican has not yet disclosed the venue.
The breaking news comes at a time when many politicians in Europe, the United States and elsewhere are calling for the closing of the doors of their countries to refugees and migrants.


03 January, 2016

Who was the Baby in the Manger?


The Jesus of Christmas

Who was the Baby in the Manger?

Books and TV documentaries abound with questions about the Jesus of Christmas. Our world is divided today about the identity of the baby in the Bethlehem manger. Christians worship the Jesus in the manger as “Immanuel,” (God with us). They believe Jesus came to redeem men and women from their sins.
Some believe the story is just a myth. Others like to believe that the baby Jesus somehow will bring peace to our troubled world. And although the world seems to be heading in another direction, Christians believe Jesus will someday return, as he promised, to bring both lasting peace to the world, and judgment to his enemies.
But even non-Christians are fascinated by the identity of that baby in the manger. CNN talk show host, Larry King, was asked to choose one person from all of history he would most like to interview. King instantly replied, “Jesus Christ.”[1]

Why Jesus?

The question is: Why would King, a Jew, pick Jesus as his most wanted interview? One answer might be that Jesus Christ has greatly impacted our world. But King followed up his initial response with a question relating to Jesus’ origin. He wanted to know if the Christmas story is a myth or whether it is really true.
Although skeptics believe the entire story of Jesus was invented, most world history scholars believe the evidence points to Jesus being a real man who has greatly impacted history. The non-Christian world historian, H. G. Wells, when asked who has left the greatest legacy on history, replied, “By this test Jesus stands first”[2] (see http://y-jesus.com/wwrj/1-jesus-real-person)
But there was, and still is a mystique about Jesus that goes far beyond even his historical impact. When examining the life and words of Jesus, the great British scholar, G. K. Chesterton, a former skeptic, concluded:
“The Jesus of the New Testament seems to me to have in a great many ways the note of something superhuman; that is of something human and more than human.”[3]
Even great world leaders have acknowledged Jesus as unique among all others. One of the greatest military leaders in history, Napoleon Bonaparte, lusted for power and world dominance. As emperor of France, he nearly conquered all of Europe until he met his famous “Waterloo.”
While in exile on the rock of St. Helena, Napoleon had time to reflect on world history, and the impact of Jesus Christ. After reading the New Testament, he called Count Montholon to his side and asked, “Can you tell me who Jesus Christ was?” When the Count had no answer, Napoleon remarked:
“I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”[4]

Jesus’ Radical Claims

Although Jesus did show remarkable love and compassion to all who were willing to receive it, his mystique results more from the question of his identity than from his historical impact. People who heard and saw him kept trying to understand what he meant by his radical claims.
As Jesus traveled around the rocky hills of Galilee, huge crowds gathered to hear his words and his apparent power over nature. As his followers witnessed his amazing words and deeds, Jesus would make statements like, “I am the light of the world,” or, “I am the only way to God,” or, “I am the resurrection and the life.”[5]
What are we to make of such radical claims? Former skeptic and Oxford professor, C. S. Lewis, originally considered the entire account of Jesus a myth, similar to pagan gods in Greek and Roman religions. However, one day he had a lengthy discussion with a known atheist on campus who had examined the evidence. He told Lewis that there appeared to be significant evidence supporting the New Testament accounts.
Lewis was stunned! He decided to examine the evidence for himself. After his search to discover the real Jesus, Lewis concluded that Jesus both existed, and was the greatest man who ever lived. However, because of Jesus’ radical claims, Lewis concluded that Jesus couldn’t have been simply a great moral teacher.
According to Lewis, Jesus was either telling the truth, which meant (to him) that he is God, or Jesus was wrong, making him either a liar or a lunatic. (see http://y-jesus.com/wwrj/3-is-jesus-god for a summary of Lewis’ argument). The hinge pin on which the identity of Jesus Christ stands of falls is the claim that he rose from the dead. His disciples were so convinced that he had risen that they went everywhere proclaiming him alive, even at the cost of their own lives. What convinced them? (see http://y-jesus.com/wwrj/6-jesus-rise-dead)
So who was the baby in the manger? The answer to that question, as Larry King inferred, is the most important one in all history. For if Jesus was not who he claimed to be, his promise of eternal peace is empty. But if Jesus was who he claimed to be, then our lives can have no meaning without him. ((See http://y-jesus.com/wwrj/7-jesus-relevant-today to discover what Jesus says about the meaning of life.)

03 January 2016 
The Epiphany of the Lord


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Is 60: 1-6, Eph 3: 2-3a, 5-6
Mt 2: 1-12

Mass Readings: Text | Audio

Epiphany

Today, the church celebrates the feast of epiphany. A realization that Christ is the Son of God! Adoration of the Magi consolidates the event of incarnation of Jesus as Son of God.
It is interesting to note what Wikipedia, the most sought –after-reference- web site, explains the word epiphany.  An epiphany is an experience of sudden and striking realization. As it had happened with Sir Isaac Newton.  Hitherto unexplained, a falling apple made him realize that everything falls down because of the gravitational force exerted by the earth. Thus epiphany is a situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.
It was not even in the wildest dreams of anyone that a helpless babe born in a manger could be Son of God, the promised saviour the Israelites were waiting for. Neither the religious and political leaders nor the devout ordinary men had a clue. But the magi sharp in their observation could not take away their attention from a particular star in the story which appears, disappears, leads and then stands over a house. They watched, followed and dare to be guided by the star. And Lo! Here happens the miracle of epiphany. Hitherto a fragile babe in a manger born for an illiterate couple is the focus of attention of the most known wise men of the time and they bent their knees in reverence and they did undo the treasure chest they have been carrying for a while and offer to him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Thus they had that enlightening realization of epiphany. God became man and dwelt among us.
Unlike any other organisms or creatures, Humans are a race class apart and it is their ability to have epiphanies what makes the trick. For a grazing cow green grass is nothing but its fodder. How much ever they try, they won’t have any other deeper realizations or enlightenment. But for a human being a sudden enlightenment could lead to realize the umpteen shades of green the grass carries and now they know how much a green grass can contribute for the existence of the entire universe by the emission of oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. For him, the ordinary greenness of grass which is only a fodder for a cow turns to be an extraordinary life giving gift of God. The miracle of Epiphany.
A beggar begging for a living had been an ordinary scenario but an epiphany changed Sr.Teresa to Mother Teresa. This epiphany made her take up a fourth vow and she was to give wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor. And now millions live happily solely due to her responding to the epiphany she had.
A couple of months ago the world was inspired by an another epiphany that had been realized in Malala Yousafzai, a petite, beautiful, innocent and young girl from Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan. Responding positively to the epiphany that getting education is each girl child’s prerogative, she defied the unjust ban proclaimed and enforced by the Taliban on gilrs going to school. She refused to be bullied. She wanted to study in her school along with her friends and amongst her peers and she was not going to be dictated by a set of bullies. Malala’s defiance was a slap in the face of the brutes. The savages had to crush this defiance and they did. The Taliban painted a bull’s eye on the little girl and let loose their killers. One afternoon as she finished school and was playing with her friends in the school yard there was gunfire and Malala fell, shot through her neck and head.  An epitome of courage and bravery. Thanks to the epiphany she had realized. Malala lives. No hatred, no bitterness, just an ironclad resolve to continue doing what she is determined to do, to go to school, every day, alone if required, but defiant and determined.
Epiphany! Three wise men bent their knees in front of a silly babe born in a manger!
Epiphany! An ordinary nun turns to be the most revered lady in the world for serving the poorest of the poor.
Epiphany! A girl of 14 years becomes the symbol of courage and defiance inspiring the millions of girl children to learn and lead life worth.
We need epiphanies. Let us open our eyes and ears and all the more our hearts to witness and become part of that epiphany. A moment of ignorance and we may miss it badly. We need epiphanies so that there shall be peace, love and courage abound in this new year.

Fr. Joby Pulickan CMI


St. KURIAKOSE ELIAS CHAVARA

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara. St Kuriakose’s life was dedicated to the service of Syrian Church and society in Kerala. Under his leadership, a good number of apostolic initiatives were undertaken: the establishment of seminaries for formation of the clergy; the introduction of annual retreats for the faithful, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament by introducing forty hours of adoration, a publishing house for Catholic works, schools attached to the Parishes for education, a house to care the destitute and the dying and a Sanskrit school for Dalit Children.
Saint Chavara dedicated himself for encouraging and counseling Christian families. He fought schisms and tried his best for the unity and harmony within the Church. Today Catholic Church solemnly recalls with love and gratitude all his efforts to resist threats of disunity and encourage the Clergy as well as the faithful irrespective of rites to unity and solidarity with the Universal Church.
Saint Chavara conceived three words: tapasubhavanam, besrauma, and darsanaveedu which means house of asceticism, house on the top and house of vision respectively, to describe the highest ideal of monastic life. Saint Chavara is the first priest who started monastic life in India. He also added, “The strength of the monastery is not in the thickness of its walls, but in the zeal and virtues of the members who live in it”.
It was St. Chavara who realized the need forempowering women for the social uplift of the families and for the dedicated service of the Church. In 1866, St. Chavara together with Fr. Leopold OCD started the first religious house in Kerala for women which is known as the Congregation of Mother Carmel.
Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara was an embodiment of Christian spirituality and mysticism. St. Chavara wrote many spiritual books. ‘Atmanutapam’ or Compunction of the soul is considered to be his best work. Compunction is a spiritual disposition which is pricking guilt feeling of one’s conscience for wrong actions. Though Chavara did not commit any sins, his compunction for his misdeeds were so deep which emerges from a profound sense of gratitude to God for his abundant and merciful love. This feeling of unworthiness before God made him a great Carmelite mystic together with Theresa of Avila and Theresa of Child Jesus who always maintained the Carmelite spirit, “I am nothing, God is everything”.
The life and the deeds of Saint Chavara are a great source of inspiration not only to the Christian Community but to humanity as a whole.

Fr. Shepherd Thelapilly CMI

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