A Priest should not carve out his own identity- Pope Francis

Pope Francis says ‘priestly joy is a priceless treasure’ at Chrism Mass

By of Catholic herald.uk

Pope Francis breathes over chrism oil during the Chrism Mass (CNS)

Pope Francis breathes over chrism oil during the Chrism Mass (CNS)

A priest is called to be in the midst of his flock, protecting his people, searching for those who are lost and always serving those in need, Pope Francis has told the world’s priests.

If a priest wants to overcome those inevitable moments of sadness, exhaustion and boredom, as well as discover his true identity, he must head for the exit sign, going outside himself to be with God and his people, he said during the Chrism Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.

He must also be a dutiful servant who listens to people’s need and builds a church whose doors are wide open, offering refuge for sinners, a home for the homeless, comfort for the sick and God’s word and joy for the young, he said.

Presiding over the first of two Holy Thursday liturgies, Pope Francis blessed the oils that will be used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination and the anointing of the sick.

Deacons carried the sacramental oils in large silver urns to the main altar to be blessed by the Pope.

Joined by more than 1,500 priests, bishops and cardinals, Pope Francis led them in a renewal of their priestly vows and a reflection on what it means to be a priest, in a homily that was lengthier than usual.

He focused on the meaning of being anointed through ordination, emphasising that Holy Thursday was the day Jesus shared his priesthood with the Apostles by anointing them with “the oil of gladness”.

“Priestly joy is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself but for the entire faithful people of God,” the Pope said.

He said it’s not an exaggeration, given the “grandeur of the gift granted us” to minister and serve, to say the priest is a very small person.

While “in that littleness we find our joy,” he said, being “little” without God spells danger.

“No one is more ‘little’ than a priest left to his own devices.”

Priestly joy must be sought and rooted in God’s love and it can find protection from evil in prayer to Mary, he said.

Otherwise a priest risks becoming “the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by his poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him his friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as he did Peter, the frailest of Christians”, unless Jesus gives him strength in the midst of his flock, he said.

Self-denial, forsaking earthly happiness and giving oneself to others mean the priest “has to seek his joy from the Lord and from God’s faithful people. He doesn’t need to try to create it for himself.”

Nor should the priest be trying to carve out his own identity because “there is no identity – and consequently joy of life – without an active and unwavering sense of belonging to God’s faithful people”, he said.

“The priest who tries to find his priestly identity by soul-searching and introspection may well encounter nothing more than ‘exit’ signs, signs that say: Exit from yourself, exit to seek God in adoration, go out and give your people what was entrusted to you.”

The People of God “will make you feel and taste who you are”, he said.

They will also be able “to protect you, to embrace you and to help you open your heart to find renewed joy” during those moments a priest finds himself feeling isolated, gloomy, listless and bored, “which at times overcome us in our priestly life and which I too have experienced”, the Pope said.

With his infinite compassion “for all the little ones and the outcasts of this earth, wearied and oppressed like sheep without a shepherd”, Jesus calls people to his ministry, so that he can be present and work “in the person of his priests, for the good of his people”.

Like an attentive servant, the priest “makes the church a house with open doors, a refuge for sinners, a home for people living on the street, a place of loving care for the sick, a camp for the young, a classroom for catechising children”, he said.

The priest must be wherever there are people in need or searching. He needs to know how to listen, and feel driven by Christ to lift burdens with mercy and encourage hope with charity.

He asked that people pray for vocations so that when young people hear the call to religious life, they have “the stroke of boldness to respond willingly”.

He asked for prayers for the recently ordained, that they never lose the “joy sparkling” in their eyes as they “go forth to devour the world”.

He also prayed for elderly priests and those who have served many years, that they may “gather their strength and rearm themselves, get ‘a second wind’”.

Later in the day, the pope was scheduled to celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at a Rome rehabilitation facility for the elderly and people with disabilities.

He also was going to wash the feet of four women and eight men with different disabilities and ranging in ages from 16 to 86. Of the 12 chosen, nine are Italian, one woman is from Ethiopia, one young man is from Cape Verde and one man from Libya is Muslim, according to organisers.

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Ring in the old , Ring out the new

The catching trend of modernization and it’s evils which should be restricted to lives outside of the church, has actually found it’s home and room within the church itself. The church offers a sanctuary of refuge to anything which it feels to be catchy and innovative to sell to the masses, while the hierarchy has no problem in promoting these new age remedies as they make them look more ahead with the times and as a result more people are fooled into supporting the conciliar and modernist events within the church.
People would prefer more entertainment than focus on the serenity and tradition of their faith, so there would be no room for preserving any age old tradition that existed within the church. Tradition might very well be scrapped and removed from all the four corners of the church and uproot it from the very foundation on which the church was formed.
Whilst corruption in all forms used to exist in the church and still exists today in a greater magnanimity. The church never welcomed the thought of amending the old Mass and preserved it to the very end, until the very architects of the New Age Mass forged it’s emergence and subsequent enforcement through the 2nd Vatican Council.
The times have changed; we needn’t look further to examine the strange scheme of events affecting the church.  As much as the times change with advances in technology, so does our faith. Altars are ignored and the sanctity of the place where Mass is to be celebrated maybe ignored if the church can be used to host a rock concert. The priests themselves maybe unable to offer Holy Communion, thus droves of Eucharistic ministers, nuns and the equivalent distribute communion, next they should allow altar boys and girls to give Holy Communion. Why not even welcome the ordination of women? After all if a female Eucharistic minister and nun can distribute Holy Communion which was only the job of a priest, then what is the difference if the same Holy Communion is merely consecrated by a lady instead of a man?
Priests ignore the importance of wearing the cassock and wear civvies most of the time, perhaps it is better to do away with the entire cassock and wear whatever you want. If an individual has a problem with receiving Communion in the hand and insists in the mouth, but at the same time welcomes all of the changes of the New Mass, then such a person is a hypocrite choosing only certain aspects and rejecting the rest. Communion maybe received in the hand and mouth, and the Mass maybe a jamming session as long as the people are happy and the church. There is no need to show opposition to certain things while at the same time welcome and support the rest.

Revisit any olden day’s tradition which was regarded as sacred and holy, perhaps today it is a heresy? And what used to be heresies of before are considered to be holy by the church of today.  If the laity is to be empowered above the priests then might as well disband priesthood and let there be community churches whereupon each family may celebrate the Mass in alternating phase.

What quality of priests is one to get these days? What has happened to teaching Latin as a compulsory language in every Catholic school in the world? Are we “Roman” Catholics anymore or just following a title just as the Queen of England is to her people? People also forget that once only Latin Mass was the Mass for the whole world. They are ready to stoop to such low levels of ignorance by stating that no one could understand Latin and Vatican 2 was the solution to their problems.

Well it is to no surprise that if a person leaves his home and goes far away he is not going to find the Mass in the language of his choice. The Latin Mass remained the same and did not differ within it’s own language, people were united more by the holy language than by multitudes of different languages. Which takes us to a good junction on the Latin Mass, how many priests of today know Latin the erstwhile official language of the church? Better still can all of the cardinals, bishops, monsignors and archbishops celebrate Mass in the official language of the church? What has happened to the missionaries of Europe and North America who would come and give their hard work to the people of lesser countries? They have not left because the non-catholic people have a problem with them and see to that these priests gets in trouble, nor have they left because they feel homesick. They have left because our very own diocesan and local priests do not want them to harvest their work in India anymore. After all where can our local priests get to enjoy themselves, if they notice that these missionaries are busy working, while they are making merry and having fun!

Why are not Jesuits who’ve studied and educated themselves outside of India welcomed to impart their knowledge and skills to the educational institutes within India? The answer is simple, the present Jesuits only know how to administer and run the institutions by sitting in their offices, they care less for physically teaching in the college or university, nor do they give free time for outreach activities. How Catholic are our priests or ourselves if we only wish to see the face of our community being represented in our areas and localities, and forget the very same men who have built the churches which we can attend till today? These men are forgotten because they have been sent back by our local priests and if our own empowered laity has stayed mum on this subject then only they are to blame.
As mentioned earlier, materialist church corruption has existed and it will continue to exist. If the laity is empowered today as never before, then the laity can make a difference. But the giving in trend of supporting modernism is enough to blind the laity and flow with the times and at the same time let the clergy take them for a high ride.

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As Christians is it our duty to fight for Justice?

An iniquitous system, based on exploitation and theft, specifically devised to ensure the great mass of people live in poverty/hardship while the few live like patrician senators.

It’s not about envy, it’s about Justice.Justice not just in our country but also in our Church.

And as Christians we have a duty to fight for Justice – because Justice is Love in Action.
To talk about ‘Love’ without Justice is quite simply hypocritical. We cannot fight for Justice if we refuse to accept that there is BOTH personal AND structural sin.

Individuals sin, of course. We all sin.

We are also born into families, communities, societies, civilizations that are structured entities and these too can be structures of sin that ‘normalise’ certain sin, perverting the lives of all those who live in them.

For centuries the institutional Church has concentrated on personal sin, conveniently ignoring structural sin .

Such  systems were/are systems of unjust, unchristian exploitation of man by man. They run point blank counter to our Christian Faith and everyday we refuse to accept this, we refuse to play our part in working to alleviate their injustice and remove them, we play the part of the ‘Good Christian’ James reviles in his epistle when he says: ‘Which of you would consider a man to be a good Christian if he saw a fellow human being sick and ill, starving and in rags, and merely said to him, ‘Christ be with you, my friend’, and walked on? None of you.’

The Good Christian must translate his love, his words, into action, into deeds. To alleviate pain and suffering and injustice. And that means, like Jesus, our leader and our model, going up against the structures of sin in this world, the structures of sin created and maintained by the rich and powerful, the greedy and ruthless, the murdering and torturing – torturing not just the body but the mind, heart and soul of man.

If we are not fighting against this, then what are we doing? Either openly or tacitly, by what we do and above all by what we fail to do, we are supporting iniquitous systems of evil in this world.

By going along with Capitalism and its atomization of human families and societies, its commodification and reification of everything from children, to sex, to wage-slavery, poverty and exploitation of both man and nature for filthy sordid lucre, for filthy sordid ‘loads-a-money’, we too number ourselves among that system’s supporters and enablers.

We too play our part in the iniquity of social sin against ourselves and our brothers and sisters . We too play our part in continuing and enforcing an iniquitous system of global human evil that targets the totality of mankind, a system of exploitation that seeks to absorb and homogenize all cultures, languages and histories, all peoples and civilizations, in one trashy, greed-basedworld.

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Pope Francis presides at the Way of the Cross in the Colosseum

By   from Catholicherald.uk

Pope Francis leads the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum (AP)

Pope Francis leads the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum (AP)

Pope Francis has presided over the evening Way of the Cross in Rome, joining thousands of people gathered in prayer.

Standing in the midst of a giant cross outlined with small torches, Francis said the Cross is a reminder of how much evil people are capable of and how much love Jesus had for a sinful humanity.

“It was a heavy cross like the night for those who are abandoned, heavy like the death of a loved one and heavy” because it took on all the pain of evil, he said.

Standing on a hillside overlooking the Colosseum, the pope told the thousands of people who gathered with him in prayer that Jesus shows “that evil will not have the last word”, and love, mercy and forgiveness will be victorious.

“From the Cross we see the monstrosity of mankind when it lets itself be guided by evil. But we also see the immensity of the mercy of God, who doesn’t treat us according to our sins, but according to his mercy.”

Do not forget those who are sick and abandoned with their own cross, but pray “they find the strength of in the trials of the cross, the hope of God’s resurrection and love”, he said before imparting his blessing.

The solemn torchlit service gave powerful voice to the many social and spiritual problems facing the world and to the redeeming power of Christ’s sacrifice for humanity.

By passing a bare wooden cross from one group of people to the next in succession, those chosen to lead the Way of the Cross acted as visible representatives of the often hidden injustices still wounding the world.

Two children held the cross as a reflection was read about the plight of sexually abused minors, and two inmates carried the cross during a reflection on the anguish of imprisonment and torture.

As he did last year, Pope Francis remained on the hillside terrace in silent reflection and prayer as thousands of people, many holding candles, attended the ceremony, which was broadcast by more than 50 television networks around the world.

While he offered a very brief impromptu reflection last year at the end of the ceremony, the pope was not scheduled to speak this year.

Each year, the Pope chooses a different person or group of people to write the series of prayers and reflections that are read aloud for each of the 14 stations, which commemorate Christ’s condemnation, his carrying the cross to Golgotha, his crucifixion and his burial.

This year the Pope picked Italian Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini of Campobasso-Boiano – a former factory worker, long-serving prison chaplain, champion of the unemployed and fiercely outspoken critic of the Italian mafia.

In the meditations, the archbishop, who belongs to Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata, looked at how the wounds and suffering of Christ are found in the wounds and suffering of one’s neighbours, family, children and world.

For the second station – Jesus takes up his cross – the archbishop criticised the global economic crisis’ grave consequences, like job insecurity, unemployment, suicide among owners of failing businesses and corruption.

A labourer and a business leader carried the cross, “which weighs upon the world of labour, the injustice shouldered by workers”, said the reflection, which was followed by a call for people to respect political life and resolve problems together.

For the fourth station – Jesus meets his mother – two former addicts carried the cross as people meditated on the tears mothers shed for their children sent off to war, dying of cancer from toxic wastelands or lost in “the abyss of drugs or alcohol, especially on Saturday nights”.

For the fifth station – Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross – two people living on the street carried the cross as a reflection was read about “finding God in everyone” and sharing “our bread and labour” with others.

For the eighth station – Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem – two women carried the cross, as the meditation deplored domestic violence, “Let us weep for those men who vent on women all their pent-up violence” and to weep for women who are “enslaved by fear and exploitation.”

But compassion is not enough, the archbishop wrote: “Jesus demands more.” Follow his example of offering reassurance and support “so that our children may grow in dignity and hope”.

The archbishop’s meditations had equally strong words about the sexual abuse of children and its cover-up.

Two children carried the cross for the 10th station – Jesus is stripped of his garments – as the reflection crafted an image of the utter humiliation of Jesus being stripped naked, “covered only by the blood which flowed from his gaping wounds”.

“In Jesus, innocent, stripped and tortured, we see the outraged dignity of all the innocent, especially the little ones,” the meditation said.

A family held the cross for a reflection on the need for kindness and shared suffering; two older people carried the cross during a reflection on how age and infirmity can become “a great school of wisdom, an encounter with God who is ever patient”.

Two Franciscan friars from the Holy Land carried the cross during a meditation on Christ emerging from the fear of death as a sign how forgiveness “renews, heals, transforms and comforts” and ends wars.

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‘Judas was Standing with Them’ (Jn 18:5) – Fr.Cantalamessa’s Sermon

Pope Francis presided the celebration of the Passion of Our Lord in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Friday evening. The celebration of the Passion of Our Lord, also known as the Good Friday service, is the liturgy that recalls the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the papal household, preached the homily.

Below is the official English translation of the full text of Fr Cantalamessa’s homily:
‘Judas was Standing with Them’ (Jn 18:5)
In the divine-human history of the passion of Jesus, there are many minor stories about men and women who entered into the ray of its light or its shadow. The most tragic one is that of Judas Iscariot. It is one of the few events attested with equal emphasis by each of the four Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. The early Christian community reflected a great deal on this incident and we would be remiss to do otherwise. It has much to tell us.
Judas was chosen from the very beginning to be one of the Twelve. In inserting his name in the list of apostles, the gospel-writer Luke says, “Judas Iscariot, who became (egeneto) a traitor” (Lk 6:16). Judas was thus not born a traitor and was not a traitor at the time Jesus chose him; he became a traitor! We are before one of the darkest dramas of human freedom.
Why did he become a traitor? Not so long ago, when the thesis of a “revolutionary Jesus” was in fashion, people tried to ascribe idealistic motivations to Judas’ action. Someone saw in his name “Iscariot” a corruption of sicariot, meaning that he belonged to a group of extremist zealots who used a kind of dagger (sica) against the Romans; others thought that Judas was disappointed in the way that Jesus was putting forward his concept of “the kingdom of God” and wanted to force his hand to act against the pagans on the political level as well. This is the Judas of the famous musical Jesus Christ Superstar and of other recent films and novels — a Judas who resembles another famous traitor to his benefactor, Brutus, who killed Julius Caesar to save the Roman Republic!
These are reconstructions to be respected when they have some literary or artistic value, but they have no historical basis whatsoever. The Gospels — the only reliable sources that we have about Judas’ character — speak of a more down-to-earth motive: money. Judas was entrusted with the group’s common purse; on the occasion of Jesus’ anointing in Bethany, Judas had protested against the waste of the precious perfumed ointment that Mary poured on Jesus’ feet, not because he was interested in the poor but, as John notes, “because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it” (Jn 12:6). His proposal to the chief priests is explicit: “‘What will you give me if I deliver him to you?’ And they paid him thirty pieces of silver” (Mt 26:15).
But why are people surprised at this explanation, finding it too banal? Has it not always been this way in history and is still this way today? Mammon, money, is not just one idol among many: it is the idol par excellence, literally “a molten god” (see Ex 34:17). And we know why that is the case. Who is objectively, if not subjectively (in fact, not in intentions), the true enemy, the rival to God, in this world? Satan? But no one decides to serve Satan without a motive. Whoever does it does so because they believe they will obtain some kind of power or temporal benefit from him. Jesus tells us clearly who the other master, the anti-God, is: “No one can serve two masters. . . . You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt 6:24). Money is the “visible god” in contrast to the true God who is invisible.
Mammon is the anti-God because it creates an alternative spiritual universe; it shifts the purpose of the theological virtues. Faith, hope, and charity are no longer placed in God but in money. A sinister inversion of all values occurs. Scripture says, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23), but the world says, “All things are possible to him who has money.” And on a certain level, all the facts seem to bear that out.
“The love of money,” Scripture says, “is the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). Behind every evil in our society is money, or at least money is also included there. It is the Molech we recall from the Bible to whom young boys and girls were sacrificed (see Jer 32:35) or the Aztec god for whom the daily sacrifice of a certain number of human hearts was required. What lies behind the drug enterprise that destroys so many human lives, behind the phenomenon of the mafia, behind political corruption, behind the manufacturing and sale of weapons, and even behind — what a horrible thing to mention — the sale of human organs removed from children? And the financial crisis that the world has gone through and that this country is still going through, is it not in large part due to the “cursed hunger for gold,” the auri sacra fames, on the part of some people?

Judas began with taking money out of the common purse. Does this say anything to certain administrators of public funds?
But apart from these criminal ways of acquiring money, is it not also a scandal that some people earn salaries and collect pensions that are sometimes 100 times higher than those of the people who work for them and that they raise their voices to object when a proposal is put forward to reduce their salary for the sake of greater social justice?
In the 1970s and 1980s in Italy, in order to explain unexpected political reversals, hidden exercises of power, terrorism, and all kinds of mysteries that were troubling civilian life, people began to point to the quasi-mythical idea of the existence of “a big Old Man,” a shrewd and powerful figure who was pulling all the strings behind the curtain for goals known only to himself. This powerful “Old Man” really exists and is not a myth; his name is Money!
Like all idols, money is deceitful and lying: it promises security and instead takes it away; it promises freedom and instead destroys it. St. Francis of Assisi, with a severity that is untypical for him, describes the end of life of a person who has lived only to increase his “capital.” Death draws near, and the priest is summoned. He asks the dying man, “Do you want forgiveness for all your sins?” and he answers, “Yes.” The priest then asks, “Are you ready to make right the wrongs you did, restoring things you have defrauded others of?” The dying man responds, “I can’t.” “Why can’t you?” “Because I have already left everything in the hands of my relatives and friends.” And so he dies without repentance, and his body is barely cold when his relatives and friends say, “Damn him! He could have earned more money to leave us, but he didn’t.”
How many times these days have we had to think back again to the cry Jesus addressed to the rich man in the parable who had stored up endless riches and thought he was secure for the rest of his life: “Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” (Lk 12:20)
Men placed in positions of responsibility who no longer knew in what bank or monetary paradise to hoard the proceeds of their corruption have found themselves on trial in court or in a prison cell just when they were about to say to themselves, “Have a good time now, my soul.” For whom did they do it? Was it worth it? Did they work for the good of their children and family, or their party, if that is really what they were seeking? Have they not instead ruined themselves and others?
The betrayal of Judas continues throughout history, and the one betrayed is always Jesus. Judas sold the head, while his imitators sell body, because the poor are members of the body of Christ, whether they know it or not. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). However, Judas’ betrayal does not continue only in the high-profile kinds of cases that I have mentioned. It would be comfortable for us to think so, but that is not the case. The homily that Fr Primo Mazzolari gave on Holy Thursday 1958, about “Our Brother Judas” is still famous. “Let me,” he said to the few parishioners before him, “think about the Judas who is within me for a moment, about the Judas who perhaps is also within you.”
One can betray Jesus for other kinds of compensation than 30 pieces of silver. A man who betrays his wife, or a wife her husband, betrays Christ. The minister of God who is unfaithful to his state in life, or instead of feeding the sheep entrusted to him feeds himself, betrays Jesus. Whoever betrays their conscience betrays Jesus. Even I can betray him at this very moment — and it makes me tremble — if while preaching about Judas I am more concerned about the audience’s approval than about participating in the immense sorrow of the Savior. There was a mitigating circumstance in Judas’ case that that I do not have. He did not know who Jesus was and considered him to be only “a righteous man”; he did not know, as we do, that he was the Son of God.
As Easter approaches every year, I have wanted to listen to Bach’s “Passion According to St. Matthew” again. It includes a detail that makes me flinch every time. At the announcement of Judas’ betrayal, all the apostles ask Jesus, “Is it I, Lord?” Before having us hear Christ’s answer, the composer — erasing the distance between the event and its commemoration — inserts a chorale that begins this way: “It is I; I am the traitor! I need to make amends for my sins.” Like all the chorales in this musical piece, it expresses the sentiments of the people who are listening. It is also an invitation for us to make a confession of our sin.
The Gospel describes Judas’ horrendous end: “When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, ‘I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.’ They said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself.’ And throwing down the pieces of silver, he departed; and he went and hanged himself” (Mt 27:3-5). But let us not pass a hasty judgment here. Jesus never abandoned Judas, and no one knows, after he hung himself from a tree with a rope around his neck, where he ended up: in Satan’s hands or in God’s hands. Who can say what transpired in his soul during those final moments? “Friend” was the last word that Jesus addressed to him, and he could not have forgotten it, just as he could not have forgotten Jesus’ gaze.
It is true that in speaking to the Father about his disciples Jesus had said about Judas, “None of them is lost but the son of perdition” (Jn 17:12). But here, as in so many other instances, he is speaking from the perspective of time and not of eternity. The enormity of this betrayal is enough by itself alone, without needing to consider a failure that is eternal, to explain the other terrifying statement said about Judas: “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (Mk 14:21). The eternal destiny of a human being is an inviolable secret kept by God. The Church assures us that a man or a woman who is proclaimed a saint is experiencing eternal blessedness, but she does not herself know for certain that any particular person is in hell.
Dante Alighieri, who places Judas in the deepest part of hell in his Divine Comedy, tells of the last-minute conversion of Manfred, the son of Frederick II and the king of Sicily, whom everyone at the time considered damned because he died as an excommunicated. Having been mortally wounded in battle, he confides to the poet that in the very last moment of his life, “…weeping, I gave my soul / to Him who grants forgiveness willingly” and he sends a message from Purgatory to earth that is still relevant for us:
Horrible was the nature of my sins,
but boundless mercy stretches out its arms to any man who comes in search of it.
Here is what the story of our brother Judas should move us to do: to surrender ourselves to the one who freely forgives, to throw ourselves likewise into the outstretched arms of the Crucified One. The most important thing in the story of Judas is not his betrayal but Jesus’ response to it. He knew well what was growing in his disciple’s heart, but he does not expose it; he wants to give Judas the opportunity right up until the last minute to turn back, and is almost shielding him. He knows why Judas came to the garden of olives, but he does not refuse his cold kiss and even calls him “friend” (see Mt 26:50). He sought out Peter after his denial to give him forgiveness, so who knows how he might have sought out Judas at some point in his way to Calvary! When Jesus prays from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34), he certainly does not exclude Judas from those for whom he prays.
So what will we do? Who will we follow, Judas or Peter? Peter had remorse for what he did, but Judas was also remorseful to the point of crying out, “I have betrayed innocent blood!” and he gave back the thirty pieces of silver. Where is the difference then? Only in one thing: Peter had confidence in the mercy of Christ, and Judas did not! Judas’ greatest sin was not in having betrayed Christ but in having doubted his mercy.
If we have imitated Judas in his betrayal, some of us more and some less, let us not imitate him in his lack of confidence in forgiveness. There is a sacrament through which it is possible to have a sure experience of Christ’s mercy: the sacrament of reconciliation. How wonderful this sacrament is! It is sweet to experience Jesus as Teacher, as Lord, but even sweeter to experience him as Redeemer, as the one who draws you out of the abyss, like he drew Peter out of the sea, as the one who touches you and, like he did with the leper, says to you, “ I will; be clean” (Mt 8:3).
Confession allows us to experience about ourselves what the Church says of Adam’s sin on Easter night in the “Exultet”: “O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!” Jesus knows how to take all our sins, once we have repented, and make them “happy faults,” faults that would no longer be remembered if it were not for the experience of mercy and divine tenderness that they occasioned.
I have a wish for myself and for all of you, Venerable Fathers, brothers and sisters: on Easter morning, may we awaken and let the words of a great convert in modern times, Paul Claudel, resonate in our hearts:
My God, I have been revived, and I am with You again!
I was sleeping, stretched out like a dead man in the night. You said, “Let there be light!” and I awoke the way a cry is shouted out!
My Father, You who have given me life before the Dawn, I place myself in Your Presence.
My heart is free and my mouth is cleansed; my body and spirit are fasting. I have been absolved of all my sins, which I confessed one by one.
The wedding ring is on my finger and my face is washed. I am like an innocent being in the grace that You have bestowed on me.
This is what Christ’s Passover can do for us.

 

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Labour of Love – ISAAC GOMES

Labour of Love

Parishioners of Christ the King Church, Park Circus Kolkata must have come across an effervescent Mrs Priyasree Home who equal élan takes part both in the Parish Choir and also trains aspirants for First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Mrs Priyasree is endowed with more qualities. Along with her husband Anikendra Home, she is the co-founder of Sacred Heart School, which was established on 8th June 1993, at Picnic Garden Kolkata to improve the lot of the marginalized of the area. She is a qualified practitioner in Clinical Psychology (passed out from Mount Alvernia Hospital, Singapore) and has her consultation chamber at 10/2, Shamsul Huda Road, Kolkata 700 017 (near Christ the King Church). Clinical psychology is a branch of psychology for the assessment and treatment of mental illness, abnormal behaviour and psychiatric problems.

Having heard of the Home couple’s pioneering enterprise for the disadvantaged (Mrs Home has more than 25 years’ teaching experience at Our Lady Queen of the Mission School, Park Circus Kolkata), I along with my friend Francis a social worker, visited the school at 19A/1, Prasanna Naskar Lane, Picnic Garden, on 11th April 2014. We were warmly welcomed by Mrs Home and her husband and shown around the school.

Spread over the ground floor of four rented buildings, Sacred Heart School has classes from Montessori to X. With 480 students the classrooms are bursting to the seam, many students having to sit on the floor. The school has 25 teachers (9 of whom are Catholics) and 5 support staff (maids). It operates in two shifts 7.15 am to 11 am and 11.30 am to 4 pm Monday-Friday.

Vision and Mission of the school:

* To impart holistic education and self-reliance to marginalized children with love, trust, compassion and faith.

* To educate and support their mothers for sustainable livelihood.

Due to economic pressures many families in Bengal cannot afford English Medium education for their children. It is here the Home couple has stepped in to fill the void by providing quality English Medium education which is on par with elite schools.

65 of the 480 students are free students and 65 under concession. The rest pay fee ranging between Rs 350/- and 800/-. Three students are physically handicapped and two affected by Autism. Due to the love of the teachers and Mrs Home’s expertise in clinical psychology, these students have jelled well with fellow students.

All free students are provided wholesome breakfast daily including seasonal fruits. They are also given two sets of school uniform, one set of PT uniform, one pullover and a pair of black shoes and socks.

35 students’ mothers, who are from very poor and challenging background, are being taught spoken English, basic mathematics, hygiene and handicraft. They are trained in advocacy against drunkenness and wife-beating and also helped in marriage rectification. This programme of learning together with their children is called ‘STEP TOGETHER – MOTHER AND CHILD” and is offered at a nominal fee of Rs 20/-. The handicrafts (kanthas, needle work, jute products, pottery and pickles) are sold through annual

school exhibitions. Part of the proceeds is ploughed back for subsidizing their and their children’s education expenses and part is given to them as production incentive.

Each day begins with the recital Our Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary and Novena to Our Lady of Vailankanni. It was heartening to see that students from different communities, who are very well-behaved, know their prayers by heart.

Besides English and vernacular, Urdu and Arabic are also taught. Plans are on to introduce German.

Sports activities are held at the adjoining government playground. Can our elite missionary schools consider sharing their playground facilities to these poor children?

Students are also taken on visits to old age homes for putting up cultural performance, with offer of handcrafted gifts and cakes to the inmates.

The school is urgently seeking assistance in (1) getting its own land with playground (2) recognition from the Government. It is also in need of regular supply of nutritious food, especially for 65 free students and old clothes (but not torn) for poor children. The classrooms also need a fresh coat of paint and more light and fans.

Besides rent Rs 25,000/- per month, salaries and other expenses are met mainly out of the personal income of the co-founders and donations to Sacred Heart Trust and in part out of fee collected. Donors to the school can get income tax exemption under 80G.

For Mrs Priyasree Home (Tel. 9830771977) it is a labour of love by the Laity. A devout Catholic, she has a deep faith in Lay Leadership to come forward to sustain her dream which is nothing short of a quiet revolution.

 

ISAAC GOMES

Kolkata

Email: isaacgomes@hotmail.com

Posted in Church in India | 1 Comment

Dangers of Legal Ministry by Christian Priests & Nuns – Vincent Bagul

In India, there are about 90 nuns and 15 priests who are law graduates and have accepted legal practice as their ministry. They think that law is an effective instrument for helping people and that it is an important avenue by which they can bring the good news to the poor. However, it has been observed that the lawyer priests and nuns do not work as an individual advocate, but through various NGOs, Associations or Women’s Groups that have been formed by them. Two years ago, during a seminar at Guwahati (Assam), organised by the Jesuit-run Legal Cell for Human Rights (LCHR), the lawyer priests and nuns expressed their disappointment that support of the Church was not forthcoming for them.
However, there are legitimate apprehensions on the part of the Church and the laity on the functioning of the religious lawyers. It is true that the legal ministry is a relatively new area and therefore the religious men and women need to tread on the path cautiously as there are certain inherent dangers.
The lawyer priests and nuns are not like other lawyers. They also function as priests and nuns. Sometimes, they are directors, in-charge of or head of some NGO, Association or Women’s Group. Their institutes, NGOs are also registered with the government under various laws and that they receive donations and funds from various sources. Hence, the lawyer priests and nuns are required to follow the cardinal principle of natural justice.
A lawyer priest or nun should never get swayed by the story of a “victim” who approaches them first, but need to hear the other side of the case from the person against whom the “victim” has complained and then impartially decide the further course of action.
There are cases where in a dispute between two Christian families, a religious lawyer has sided with one party without hearing the other side of the story from the other Christian family. This is highly objectionable as the priests and nuns belong to the whole Christian community and they are treated with respect because they are considered living a higher spiritual level of life above the laity. However, partisan actions of priests and nuns create bitterness in one of the two Christian families.
Also, lawyers are required to be active full time and available to the clients. They are also required not to be preoccupied with other duties. Hence, as per guidelines of the Bar Council of India, a lawyer cannot be a Managing Director of a company. However, the religious lawyers do not practise law full time and have to carry out their other assignments as religious priests and nuns. Due to this, they are not always available to the clients and court cases get delayed. This is against the code of ethics for advocates issued by the Bar Council of India.
The religious lawyers often say that they are not practising law for money, but as a service to the poor. But, the religious lawyers work as a head of some organisation, institute, NGO etc. and they get donations, funds from various sources, including funds from abroad. This can also be viewed as a way of making money in a clever manner.
The religious lawyers are also found to be harbouring certain ideology and this makes them biased and one sided. For example, the nun director of one NGO, claiming to be working for women empowerment, thinks that only women are being harassed and wronged by their husband or in laws and men are always wrong. But it is not true. Some ultra-modern brides are very proud and behave arrogantly and disrespectfully with their in laws. Also, taking up cases of women only is against the code of ethics for advocates issued by the Bar Council of India. The Supreme Court has ruled that a lawyer cannot refuse a brief provided the client is willing to pay the lawyer’s fees and the lawyer is not otherwise engaged. The religious advocates also get emotionally involved in the cases and treat the opposite party with disdain, much against the code of ethics for advocates issued by the Bar Council of India.

When there is a dispute between two Christian families, the religious lawyers should be impartial and neutral and try to find amicable settlement in the dispute, keeping in mind the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mathew: 5:9). If the religious lawyers fail to maintain dignity of their vocation as priests and nuns, there is every possibility that they will create enemies from within the community.
- Vincent, Mumbai

vincent.bagul@gmail.com

Posted in General Articles, Silenced Voice | 1 Comment