Posts Tagged ‘Pope John Paul II’

A SHORT HISTORY OF LITTLE FLOWER CONGREGATION (CST FATHERS)

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on March 6, 2013

LITTLE FLOWER CONGREGATION (CST FATHERS)

The Little Flower Congregation (CST Fathers) is a Congregation of religious priests that traces its beginning on 19th March, 1931 in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam, Kerala. It was started as a society of Brothers under the name Little Flower Brotherhood by Very Rev. Fr. Thomas Panat later known as Father Basilius. It was re-organized into a religious institute (thereafter called Little Flower Congregation) with an approved constitution. The Canonical approval was given by the Archbishop of Ernakulam, Mar Augustine Kandathil for starting and reorganisingonDecember 27, 1945

The congregation was bifurcated to form a Congregation of Priests (CST Fathers) and a Congregation of Brothers (CST Brothers). His Holiness Pope John Paul II raised this Congregation of the Priests to the status of a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right on December 21, 1995. Little Flower who was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in Rome on October 19, 1997 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, is the Patroness of this Congregation.

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The Little Flower Congregation, under the Patronage of St.Therese of Lisieux, has its origin on 19th March 1931 at Mookannur, a village 7 kilometers north east of Angamaly, Kerala, India. Father Thomas Panat started the Congregation out of his God-experience in Christ enhanced by his very personal devotion to St.Therese of Child Jesus. Simplicity and child-like surrender of the Little Flower to the will of God the Father had struck deep roots in his heart when he translated the four chapters of her autobiography entitled Navamalika. Fr. Basilius in his memoirs says: “With that (translation) I became enamoured of the life and the spirit of the Little Flower that erupted within and overflowed from the interior of my heart”. He intensely desired to share this experience with a few dedicated young men whom he eventually formed as the Little Flower Brotherhood (Cherupushpa Sahodara Sangham).

 On December 27, 1945 Archbishop Mar Agustine Kandathil accepted the formal petition of Fr. Thomas Panat seeking permission to admit candidates for priesthood into the ‘Cherupushpa Sahodara Sangham’ which then became a clerical religious institute known as Little Flower Congregation

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Pope’s Statement Of Resignation (Benedict XVI) February 11, 2013

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on February 11, 2013

Full text of Pope’s February 11th Declaration to the College of Cardinals

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
 
BENEDICTUS PP XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI announces resignation

I have lacked this strength these past months and I have been obliged to admit my incapacity to properly govern the ministry confided to me, the Pope said.

Pope Benedict XVI, in a historic speech pronounced at the Vatican on Monday said he had decided to resign. This is the first time a Pope has decided to step down in 600 years. He said he was resigning in “full freedom” and would devote the rest of his life to prayer. The Pope said he no longer had “the strength of body or mind” to “fully serve the Petrine Ministry.

 Pope Benedict XVI, formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger before he assumed Pontifical office on 19 April 2005, made the declaration in Latin, during a consistory in the Vatican.

 The Holy See’s spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi said the resignation would go into effect at the end of the month. “The Pope has announced he will give up his ministry at 8 pm on the 28th of February. That is when the period known as “sede vacante” or the Empty Chair will commence”. The next Pope will be elected before Easter which this year falls on March 31. The voting could well begin during Holy Week which begins on March 24.

 In his speech, later relayed by Vatican Radio, the 85-year-old Pontiff explained that he had decided to step down “after having examined my conscience before God several times. I am convinced that my strength, given my advanced age, no longer allows me to fully exercise my ministry. In the present world, prey to constant change, the vigour of mind and body are also necessary to navigate Saint Peter’s boat and advance the Faith. I have lacked this strength these past months and I have been obliged to admit my incapacity to properly govern the ministry confided to me.”

 Shock waves rippled across the world at this completely surprising, unexpected and unprecedented announcement. Believers flocked to the Vatican and to churches and cathedrals in most major cities in Europe. At the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris many faithful Catholics openly wept.

 The Pope has been a figure of controversy for his extremely orthodox views and for the cover up of several sex abuse scandals by priests of the Catholic faith. One of his harshest critics, the Swiss Cardinal Hans Kung, said he hoped the outgoing Pope will not attempt to influence the choice of his successor. “During his time in office he has ordained so many conservative cardinals, that amongst them is hardly a single person to be found who could lead the church out of its multifaceted crisis,” Cardinal Kung said.

 Pope Benedict XVI is the first German to be elected Pope since the eleventh century. On 16 April he will turn 86. Born to a modest and deeply Catholic Bavarian family, he entered the seminary in 1939, the year he joined Hitler’s youth movement – obligatory at the time. Known to be an eminent theologian, he was Archbishop of Munich and Freising in Germany’s most wealthy and eminently Catholic Bavaria from 1977 to 1981. Pope John Paul II called him to Rome to head the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. His conservative views had earned him the nickname of “Pope John Paul II’s Rotweiler”.

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World Day of Consecrated Life (Religious Day) – Eucharistic Celebration

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on February 2, 2013

2nd February

World Day of Consecrated Life (Religious Day)

Click here for World Day of Consecrated Life – Eucharistic Celebration

On 6 Jan,1997, The late Holy Father John Paul II decided that the nd World day for Consecrated Life will be celebrated on the 2 Feb, on the feast which commemorates the Presentation which Mary & Joseph made of Jesus in the temple to present Jesus to the Lord.(Lk.2:22).The presentation of Jesus in the temple is an eloquent icon of the total offering of one’s life for all those who are called to show forth in the church & in the world, by means of the evangelical counsels “ the characteristic features of Jesus- the chaste, poor & obedient one” (VC1).

The reason for the world Day for Consecrated Life:

The purpose of such a day is threefold. In the FIRST PLACE, It answers the intimate need to praise the Lord more solemnly & to thank him for the great gift of consecrated life which enriches & gladdens the Christian community by the multiplicity of its charisms & by the edifying fruits of so many lives totally given to the cause of the kingdom. In the SECOND PLACE, this day is intended to promote knowledge of & esteem for the consecrated life by the entire people of God. The THIRD REASON regards consecrated persons directly. They are invited to celebrate together solemnly the marvels which the Lord has accomplished in them, to discover by a more illuminated faith the rays of divine beauty spread by the spirit in their way of life, & to acquire a more vivid consciousness of their irreplaceable mission in the church.

Following the instruction of late Pope it is a challenge for every religious person to re-read, re-discover & re-state her/his vocation & find new meaning in her/his life as a prophet. They have to be Just as prophets have always arisen in times of crisis to proclaim the will of God to the people of Israel, so in the history of the church religious Orders have always had a prophetic vocation. They have offered a response, in the church and in society, to the longings of the people. They have put their finger on the wound when the church has been too turned in on itself. The first monk responded in this way to the worldwide spread of the church. Benedict, at a time of migration, set up places of community which brought stability to their surroundings. Confronted by the feudal structure of the church and of society, Francis reawakened sensitivity to poverty. Dominic made his own the desire of the Cathars for a pure and clear faith. Ignatius wanted to responded to the Reformation and direct life again only towards the figure of Christ. And many religious Orders in th the 19 century responded to the needs of their times. It is always a question of a prophetic response, a response which comes from God, an attempt to put the will of God into practice in a particular time.

The task of the prophet is not to predict the future but to proclaim the will of God for the present and the situation of today. The prophet claims the “today of God” for people. This” today of God” is often in contrast with the world. Honesty is necessary in announcing the word of God.

Consecrate life has always had a prophetic dimension in the history of the church. How can we live this prophetic dimension today?

– Placing God at the centre

– Making a critical reflection of the society and the church

– Offering a realistic hope and making the people aware that everything is transitory.

– Becoming a blessing for people and leave a legacy.

– Prophetic mission is always a mission for people.

Jesus has shown how to recognize our prophetic mission. Heinvites us to enter by the narrow gate and to journey by the hard road (Mth713-14).The narrow gate is hard and unique which God has planned for us. A certain effort is necessary to find that gate. The wide road is not bad road, but the road which everyone takes. Jesus believes that each one of us is capable of finding the unique way in which our life can become a blessing for people. Animated by the Spirit of God, may every consecrated live up to her/his commitment.

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The First Tabernacle Ministry

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on January 18, 2013

The First Tabernacle Ministry

A Pro-Life Movement of MCBS

Director: Fr Joy Thottamkara MCBS

First Tabernacle

First Tabernacle Ministry

Any one would ask what is ‘first tabernacle’?. But Question should be changed from WHAT to WHO. Who is first tabernacle? Mother Mary the woman of the Eucharist (Ecclesia De Eucharistia, Pope John Paul 2, no:53) is the First Tabernacle (Ecclesia De Eucharistia, Pope John Paul 2, no:55) . She experienced the Eucharist, the Great Miracle of Love(Mane Nobiscum Domine, Pope John Paul 2, no:30) in the following manner as seen in the , Gospel of St.Luke (St.Luke 1:26-45) and thus became the First Tabernacle and the Mother of Life.

Pro-Life Movement

“Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government; they are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. Theright to life does not depend, and must not be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or sovereign. How canthere be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.” – Mother Theresa.

“The unborn child is entitled to its right to life independently of its acceptance by its mother; this is an elementary and inalienable right which emanates from the dignity of the human being.” The Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Without knowing this great mystery of life, men promote abortion, promote Euthanasia( “It is I who bring both death and life” (Dt 32:39): the tragedy of euthanasia, Ioannes Paulus PP. II Evangelium vitae, no: 64 ) and they forget the Gospel of Old Age. (“Special attention must be given to the elderly. While in some cultures older people remain a part of the family with an important and active role, in others the elderly are regarded as a useless burden and are left to themselves. Here the temptation to resort to euthanasia can more easily arise.

Neglect of the elderly or their outright rejection are intolerable. Their presence in the family, or at least their closeness to the family in cases where limited living space or other reasons make this impossible, is of fundamental importance in creating a climate of mutual interaction and enriching communication between the different age-groups. It is therefore important to preserve, or to re-establish where it has been lost, a sort of “covenant” between generations. In this way parents, in their later years, can receive from their children the acceptance and solidarity which they themselves gave to their children when they brought them into the world.

This is required by obedience to the divine commandment to honour one’s father and mother (cf. Ex 20:12; Lev 19:3). But there is more. The elderly are not only to be considered the object of our concern, closeness and service. They themselves have a valuable contribution to make to the Gospel of life. Thanks to the rich treasury of experiences they have acquired through the years, the elderly can and must be sources of wisdom and witnesses of hope and love.” Ioannes Paulus PP. II Evangelium vitae, no:94)

Anything against life happens because mankind is under the sin of spiritual abortion, the God of love is aborted from their hearts. They are rarely aware of this great sin. Many suffer from poverty, because they experience the poverty of love, being away from theGreat Miracle of Love . Early Christian Community is an example for this love (Acts 1:14, 2:42, 4:32,34 etc.) The patron St.Joseph would intercede for purity of heart with which we are able to see the Love of God.

“ The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as “good news” to the people of every age and culture.At the dawn of salvation, it is the Birth of a Child which is proclaimed as joyful news: “I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).

The source of this “great joy” is the Birth of the Saviour; but Christmas also reveals the full meaning of every human birth, and the joy which accompanies the Birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfilment of joy at every child born into the world (cf. Jn 16:21).When he presents the heart of his redemptive mission, Jesus says: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). In truth, he is referring to that “new” and “eternal” life which consists in communion with the Father, to which every person is freely called in the Son by the power of the Sanctifying Spirit. It is precisely in this “life” that all the aspects and stages of human life achieve their full significance.”( Ioannes Paulus PP. II Evangelium vitae, no:2)

“What stronger aspiration is there than that of life?” he asked. “And yet on this universal human aspiration threatening shadows are gathering — the shadow of a culture that denies the respect of life at all its stages, the shadow of an indifference that sends countless people to a destiny of hunger and underdevelopment.”(Monday October 18, 4:26 am, VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Pope John Paul II thanked well-wishers who celebrated the 26th anniversary of his election as pontiff but warned of “threatening shadows” hanging over humanity.)

“To be truly a people at the service of life we must propose these truths constantly and courageously from the very first proclamation of the Gospel, and thereafter in catechesis, in the various forms of preaching, in personal dialogue and in all educational activity. Teachers, catechists and theologians have the task of emphasizing the anthropological reasons upon which respect for every human life is based.
In this way, by making the newness of the Gospel of life shine forth, we can also help everyone discover in the light of reason and of personal experience how the Christian message fully reveals what man is and the meaning of his being and existence. We shall find important points of contact and dialogue also with nonbelievers, in our common commitment to the establishment of a new culture of life.

Faced with so many opposing points of view, and a widespread rejection of sound doctrine concerning human life, we can feel that Paul’s entreaty to Timothy is also addressed to us: ‘Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing impatience and in teaching’ (2 Tim 4:2). This exhortation should resound with special force in the hearts of those members of the Church who directly share, in different ways, in her mission as ‘teacher’ of the truth.

May it resound above all for us who are bishops: we the first ones called to be untiring preachers of the Gospel of life. We are also entrusted with the task of ensuring that the doctrine which is once again being set forth in this encyclical is faithfully handed on in its integrity. We must use appropriate means to defend the faithful from all teaching which is contrary to it.

We need to make sure that in theological faculties, seminaries and Catholic institutions sound doctrine is taught, explained and more fully investigated.[Veritatis Splendor, August 6, 1993] May Paul’ s exhortation strike a chord in all theologians, pastors, teachers and in all those responsible for catechesis and the formation of consciences. Aware of their specific role, may they never be so grievously irresponsible as to betray the truth and their own mission by proposing personal ideas contrary to the Gospel of life as faithfully presented and interpreted by the Magisterium.

In the proclamation of this Gospel, we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, and we must refuse any compromise or ambiguity which might conform us to the world’s way of thinking (cf. Rom 12:2). We must be in the world but not of the world (cf.Jn 15:19; 17:16), drawing our strength from Christ, who by his death and resurrection has overcome the world (cf. Jn 16:33).” – Pope John Paul II

For this world to experience love they should be drawn close to the Blessed Sacrament, Eucharist, the Great Miracle of Love. A human life from the first moment of conception to the last moment of death in body, and from the beginning to the endless time in soul should experience this Great Miracle of Love. For this it is a must they should be in the First Tabernacle where the Great Miracle of Love, the Blessed Sacrament has been continuously taking place.

At the first moments of conception Mother Mary visited St. Elizabeth and she called Mary, Mother of God ( St.Luke 1:43) .

Click here for the Spiritual Style of First Tabernacle Ministry

From Directors’ Chair

“I thank the Lord for the Graces showered on The First Tabernacle Ministry. How much i wish that the following wish of Church through the following is continued in perfection through the ministry

Filled with this certainty, and moved by profound concern for the destiny of every man and woman, I repeat what I said to those families who carry out their challenging mission amid so many difficulties: 135 a great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer. Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf. Mt 4:1-11). As he taught his disciples, some demons cannot be driven out except in this way (cf. Mk 9:29). Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. May this same power turn their hearts to resolutions and goals inspired by the civilization of life and love ( Bl. JOANNES PAULUS PP. II EVANGELIUM VITAE No. 100).

Requesting your continued blessing-filled prayer Yours in Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament through the First Tabernacle.”

Address:-

Fr Joy Thottamkara MCBS

First Tabernacle

Millupadi

E.VELIYATHUNADU

U.C.College P.O,

Kerala, India-683102

Other Contacts:-

Click here for Official Website

Email: joykarunya@gmail.com

00918129239125

0091 484 2608620

0091 484 6455943

“COME HOLY SPIRIT COME BY MEANS OF THE POWERFUL INTERCESSION OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY YOUR WELL BELOVED SPOUSE”

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Fishers of Men: Priestly Life and Vocations Summit

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on October 7, 2012

Fishers of Men: Priestly Life and Vocations Summit

 

Letter from Bishop Blase J. Cupich
.pdf

Priests: Men of Word, Sacrament and Initiation”
.pdf

“Fishers of Men” Trailer
RealPlayer | Windows Media Player

Table of Contents
.pdf | .doc

Introduction and Overview
.pdf | .doc

 

Appendices

Appendix A: PowerPoint I for Presbyteral Council
.pdf | .ppt

Appendix B: Timeline for Priestly Life and Vocations Summit
.pdf | .doc

Appendix C: Sample Letter I: From Bishop to Priests
.pdf | .doc

Appendix D: Sample Letter II: To Priests to be Interviewed
.pdf | .doc

Appendix E: Interview Questions
.pdf | .doc

Appendix F: PowerPoint II: Sample of Preist Responses
.pdf | .ppt

Appendix G: PowerPoint III: Priestly Life and Vocations Summit Presentation
.pdf | .ppt

Appendix H: PowerPoint IV: Diocesan Sample
.pdf | .ppt

Appendix I: Schedule
.pdf | .doc

Appendix J: Schedule & Notes
.pdf | .doc

Appendix K: Qualities and Characteristics of a Prospective Priesthood Candidate
.pdf | .doc

Appendix L: Follow-up Responses & Sign-up Sheet
.pdf | .doc

Appendix M: Evaluation Form
.pdf | .doc

 

Resources

Resource A: Articles Regarding Priestly Vocation Efforts
.pdf | .doc

Resource B: Words of Pope John Paul II Inviting Young Men
.pdf | .doc

Resource C: Letter of Invitation to High School Students
.pdf | .doc

Resource D: Discernment Information
.pdf | .doc

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Church Documents on Priestly Formation

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on October 7, 2012

Church Documents on Priestly Formation

  1. Second Vatican Council Documents: 
  2. Papal Documents: 
  3. Other Documents of the Holy See: 

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The Means of Evangelization and of the Formation of Evangelizers – A Youth Response

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on September 1, 2012

The Means of Evangelization and of the Formation of Evangelizers –

A Youth Response

Puthiyidathu Mathew MCBS

bijumcbs@gmail.com

 Introduction

The influence of different Christian movements and organizations has made several youngsters come forward with great enthusiasm and commitment to the Church and her mission in the modern world. The increasing number of youngsters gathered at the World Youth Day affirms this fact.  Each WYD produces new enthusiasm in the hearts of millions of youth, the present and the future of the Church.  After the WYD 2005 of Cologne Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the German Bishops on behalf of the youth, “Yes we came to worship him, we met him. Now help us to become his disciples and witnesses”.[1]

            The challenge is to help the young to live their ‘present’ here and now in the Church.  Youngsters are always searching for challenges; they like to move differently. The great Pope, the admirer of youth, John Paul II asked them to become a joyful contradiction in the modern world. 

            At the same time there is a large mass of people who are still far away from the Church, especially in the Asian continent.  The Universal Church is well aware of this situation and says, “It is indeed a mystery why the Saviour of the world, born in Asia, has until now remained largely unknown to the people of the continent”.[2] It must be remembered that “Evangelization and church – planting are a slow and painstaking work.  To reach the desired goal the evangelizer needs to use effective methods.  Thus not paying attention to effectiveness simply means that we are in fact using wrong methods.”[3]

The Importance of New Ways and Means

            Change is fundamental to the human person and to society.  As a social being man tries to adapt himself to his changing circumstances. The Church also is travelling the same way.  She searches and finds new possibilities to continue her mission in the modern world.  There is a wide horizon of possibilities open to us. “Missionary methods reflect the social relationships in the society where the church lives; new situations spawn new methods.  The church acquires a new self awareness, both cause and effect of a new way of existence, new ideas, new ministries, new apostolic movements etc”.[4]

 

Our duty is to benefit from it according to the needs of the time.  The Magisterium of the Church is very much open to new means in evangelization.  “How do we bring the message of Christ to non-Christian young people who represent the future of entire continents? Clearly, the ordinary means of pastoral work are not sufficient: what are needed are associations, institutions, special centers and groups, and cultural and social initiatives for young people.”[5]

            The traditional means of evangelization are not enough to cope with the modern technological world. “Missionary activity, which is carried out in a wide variety of ways, is the task of all the Christian faithful,”[6] The complex life situations invite us to find out more effective and attractive methods which give an impetus to the zeal of youngsters. Church also acknowledges it through her teachings, “This question of ‘how to evangelize’ is permanently relevant, because the methods of evangelizing vary according to the different circumstances of time, place and culture, and because they thereby present a certain challenge to our capacity for discovery and adaptation.”[7]

            One of the positive aspects of the missionary enthusiasm of the new generation is their sharing mentality.  They are ready to share their time, energy, talents, resources, prayer, etc, for the Kingdom of God.  At the same time they are very strict about the concrete results of their sharing.

            It is the duty and privilege of each and every one to find and open new vistas of attractive and effective means of evangelization.  It doesn’t mean that traditional ways are totally outdated.  Perhaps they are the foundation of our new endeavors and we are modifying them according to the needs of the time.  Each and every Christian has the obligation to proclaim the Good News. But each one is different and unique and so the ways and means of participation is also different.  One cannot be higher than the other, but only in the level of commitment of the individual.  At the same time we have to fan the flame in the hearts of many so that they may be more and more committed to their missionary vocation. 

            In this paper I intend to present some possible ways and means which would enable us to bring the Good News to the hearts of many.  This can help us to bring the mission nearer to the people, especially the youth, who are searching for their role in the Church’s missionary mandate. The formation of Laity is a special concern of the Church too. “The shortage of priests makes it imperative for us to givegreater attention to the formation of the laity and their effective participation in the apostolate.”[8] To achieve this goal, suitable ways and means must be evolved by answering to the needs of the situation.

  1. 1.      School of Evangelization

            “And how can they believe in him if they have never heard of him?  And how will they hear of him unless there is a preacher for them?  And how will there be preachers if they are not sent?” (Rom 10:14-15)

            The proclamation of the Good news is the duty of each and every Christian. It cannot be completed by a few priests and religious alone.  So the active participation of the lay people is very important. There are many churches which have been planted and nourished by lay missionaries.  The Church in Antioch in the first century is a decisive example for this.  “It is the task of the Pastors to ensure that the laity are formed as evangelizers to be able to face the challenges of the contemporary world, not just with worldly wisdom and efficiency, but with hearts renewed and strengthened by the truth of Christ.”[9]

            It is a matter of great encouragement and hope that “in many Asian countries, lay people are already serving as true missionaries, reaching out to fellow Asians who might never have contact with clergy and religious.”[10]

            Meanwhile ignorance of the Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church creates serious problems among lay missionaries.  Although well-motivated, their ignorance of essentials often causes more confusion in the mission field.  Systematic and continuous training is necessary for these missionaries.

A serious preparation is needed for all workers for evangelization. Such preparation is all the more necessary for those who devote themselves to the ministry of the Word. Being animated by the conviction, ceaselessly deepened, of the greatness and riches of the Word of God, those who have the mission of transmitting it must give the maximum attention to the dignity, precision and adaptation of their language. Everyone knows that the art of speaking takes on today a very great importance. How would preachers and catechists be able to neglect this?[11]

This training should help to build up a group of good missionaries.  A missionary must be a leader and he/she should train others as leaders.

 

An effective evangelizer needs prayer, leadership qualities and openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  One of the effective methods of evangelization is the formation good leaders.  An effective evangelizer must win over a good number of followers.  Jesus spent more time with his disciples than with the crowd.  He conquered the world through his disciples.  We know that St. Paul also did the same. St. Paul instructs Timothy, “Pass on to reliable people what you have heard from me through many witnesses so that they in turn will be able to teach others.” (2Tim 2:2)

 

We have to find leaders from the community itself in order to preach the Gospel.  Yahweh said to Moses, “Collects me seventy of the elders of Israel, men you know to be the people’s elders and scribes.” (Num 11:16)

 

Training Programme

 

Proper training is an important aspect of the formation of the laity.

While we are spending great sums of money to educate and form our clergy in large houses of formation and with well-organized programs, we cannot allow the formation of laity, as particular groups or as lay ministries, to be neglected. …..  the local churches must be encouraged to appreciate and support lay formation programs. Remuneration of lay persons for their stable services must respect the demands of justice and charity.  Much could be improved in their programs of formation by an exchange of personnel and resources.[12]

            Sometimes the prolonged intellectual formation and training reduces the commitment and effectiveness of the mission.  Scriptural studies and teachings of the Church are the most important things to be learned by an evangelizer.  Long term training with all kinds of intellectual development may not be an effective way of training lay missionaries.  For instance, in a battle each person has his own position and weapon in which he has been trained well.  When somebody tries to master in all kinds of weapons simultaneously he/she becomes the master of none.  So also for an evangelizer the Word of God is the weapon given to him/her and he/she should have been trained well to use that weapon.        

 

Two kinds of training can be arranged: Formal and Informal.

 

a)                  Formal training: This training is focused on the individuals who are ready to spend their life in mission areas as full time missionaries or at least for three years in a particular area.

Course-

  • The training period can last up to three years.
  • The first session is for 6 months and after that they will be sent to the fields for six months.
  • The second session will last for 3/6 months and going back to the fields for 12/15 months.
  • The third session lasts 3/6 months and final commitment.

 

Main Thrusts in the course:

           

v  The Word of God                                                      

v  Prayer                                     

v  Openness to The Holy Spirit  

v  The providence of God

v  Special training for the ‘Kerygma’ (the explicit proclamation of the saving act of Christ).

 

b)     Informal Training:          Informal training is meant for young students as the future leaders and also for the women in the family who are able to become a leaven in the neighborhood.

           

            The Women flockare powerful evangelizers. It is evident especially in the North Eastern region of India. Their tender love and care for the neighborhood and society bring many conversions in the villages.  But I think we do not have an organized programme to tap this powerful resource.  With a little training we can make big differences.  In his General audience on 13th July 1994, Pope John Paul II appreciated the efficacy of women in spreading the Good news. “Woman has a quite special aptitude in passing on the faith, so much so that Jesus himself appealed to it in the work of evangelization. That is what happened to the Samaritan woman whom Jesus met at Jacob’s well: he chose her for the first expansion of the new faith in non-Jewish territory”.[13] Their role in evangelization particularly in person-to person cannot be ignored.  Church has given special attention to this mode of Gospel sharing.

For this reason, side by side with the collective proclamation of the Gospel, the other form of transmission, the person-to-person one, remains valid and important……. It must not happen that the pressing need to proclaim the Good News to the multitudes should cause us to forget this form of proclamation whereby an individual’s personal conscience is reached and touched by an entirely unique world that he receives from someone else.[14]

The involvement of women in evangelization activities is to be specially nourished through informal trainings like seminar on evangelization, prayer groups, bible study groups, etc.

  1. 2.      Mission Volunteers

            In this programme youngsters are encouraged to stay with missionaries for at least six months after their graduation. They will be trained as missionaries of Christ in different ways. They should have ample opportunities to explore their talents in mission and ministry according to their aptitude and creativity. This programme helps the youngsters to discover their aptitude in mission. It will be a period of experience that enables the youth to commit their whole life for the Kingdom of God where ever they may be. We can also hope for their support to the missions in different ways.       

The enthusiasm of youth to accept challenges is an important factor in this regard.  Our duty is to tap it properly and direct it positively.  We can see a renewed vigor in the hearts of youth all over the world.  The number of youth who are willing to live and share the gospel is increasing steadily. 

The Church asserts her hope about the youth whose participation in evangelization brings new enthusiasm in mission fields. “Circumstances invite us to make special mention of the young…….. young people who are well trained in faith and prayer must become more and more the apostles of youth. The Church counts greatly on their contribution, and we ourselves have often manifested our full confidence in them.”[15] The Church has great hope in their conviction, “To them the Church offers the truth of the Gospel as a joyful and liberating mystery to be known, lived and shared, with conviction and courage.”[16]

            Programme

  • Inviting the youngsters through dioceses, retreat centres, youth movements and other religious organizations
  • Training for 10 to 40 days
  • Priority for village ministry
  • Food and accommodation provided / contribution is highly recommended
  • Preference for  smaller groups

 

  1. 3.      Mission Hostels and Teachers

            The Catholic Church is considered as one of the largest ‘NGOs’ in the country having a wide range of network and numerous institutions.  The government and politicians have accepted this fact openly or secretly.  Nobody will ever question the excellence of our social undertakings. But unfortunately, if we look at all of our activities from a Christian perspective, we cannot but admit that we are very poor in carrying out the Church’s missionary mandate, which is the core of all our activities.  When we realize that only a handful of institutions and activities are earnestly proclaiming the kerigma through their services, we ought to admit that a  large chunk is running out of track.

The Goal of the Programme

            The important goal of this programme is to train a group of youngsters who, enlightened by Christian values, become responsible for their life and community. They should become the light and salt of the community, especially in their schools and colleges. It is our duty help them in this regard.    

The system of Catholic education must become still more clearly directed towards human promotion, providing an environment where students receive not only the formal elements of schooling but, more broadly, an integral human formation based upon the teachings of Christ.Catholic schools should continue to be places where the faith can be freely proposed and received (EA-37). [17]

We achieve our goal in and through Jesus.  Students should have the opportunity to hear and experience the love of God. In short our ultimate aim is to give Jesus to the young hearts so that they may become blessings for the community.  Jesus will colour their lives.  This is the hope and vision.

            Adolescence is an important and crucial period of time where the young search for identity.  If we are able to inculcate Christian values in them and directing them to find their identity in Jesus, it will bear much fruits. 

            Since school is a large arena, giving personal care is very difficult.  So we think of hostels. A hostel with 40 to 100 catholic students both boys and girls where each one will be cared for and nourished properly, is our vision.

             Apostolic schools run by different dioceses are a possibility in this regard.

Working Strategy

  • Identify a group of 40 to 100 catholic students of class 7 and above
  • They will be selected according to different criterion
  • Different types of training programmes for their spiritual, intellectual and social developments
  • Full scholarship is given, though contribution from them is appreciated

Teachers

            Genuinelymotivated and committed teachers can do wonders through their students.  Proper training will help them to live their life more profoundly.

For education in schools to become more effective as a vehicle of transformation in society, a true and proper vision and spirituality among teachers are needed.  This vision requires that the task of teaching be viewed as a call from God to share in the teaching ministry of Jesus who announced and taught about the Kingdom and that teaching is not simply the communication of knowledge but even more importantly the formation in values.  From such a vision flows a spirituality involving sacrifice, other-directedness, concern, love, justice and other Gospel values.  As in catechesis, the more effective is not the one who simply teaches but the one who also witnesses.[18]

ü  Committed mission teachers will take care of the children

ü  Only devout Catholics having mission motivation will be selected as teachers

ü  Teachers will have Good salary package

ü  They should undergo a mission training programme for at least 30 days.

ü  Day time teachers will be entrusted with prayer and village ministry which includes informal schooling and women empowerment programmes

ü  They would assist the children in the evening

ü  A teacher has the responsibility of 15 to 20 students

ü  Life of the teacher should be a witness for the children

Mission teachers working in some of our catholic schools are doing great services to the Church.

  1. 4.       Mission Clinics

            A mission clinic enables aspiring nurses and doctors to serve God’s kingdom by liberating the sick and the needy from their bondage.  This experience of mission will produce much fruit in the long run.

            Motivated by divine love, youngsters voluntarily spend certain months of their important span of life to share this love.  It may be a few months or one to two years.  It may help them to be more generous to the poor in their future life.  Their support even after their period of commitment is expected.  The village youth can possibly be motivated by the service of these volunteers.

Mode of Action

  • Arranging village clinics according to the availability of the doctors and nurses
  •  Possibility of getting medicine free of cost
  • Finding the aspiring nurses and doctors is done through retreat centres and other youth movements
  • Assistance of religious sisters are also recommended
  • Medical camps can be conducted in the villages where the sick and needy receive the message about the divine healer
  • Explicit proclamation also is possible through this group

 

  1. 5.                  Tourism for mission

            We are familiar with terms like eco-tourism, health tourism, etc.  Mission Tourism   aims at giving some idea about mission fields to the people who are really interested in mission but have not been able to be directly engaged in the process of evangelization. We help them to have a foretaste of the mission. The possibility of using tourism as an activity of mission is a concern of The Church too.

International tourism has now become a mass phenomenon. This is a positive development if tourists maintain an attitude of respect and a desire for mutual cultural enrichment, avoiding ostentation and waste, and seeking contact with other people. But Christians are expected above all to be aware of their obligation to bear witness always to their faith and love of Christ. Firsthand knowledge of the missionary life and of new Christian communities also can be an enriching experience and can strengthen one’s faith. Visiting the missions is commendable, especially on the part of young people who go there to serve and to gain an intense experience of the Christian life.[19]               

            Our target groups are the professionals and employees working in and outside the country.

Mode of Action

            Interested people are invited to visit some of the mission centres. They will get opportunities to understand the village life and people.  Those interested can stay in the village for two or three days.  If they wish we will direct them to other tourist places in the region.  All expenses must be met by them.

Expected Results

v  Heard knowledge turns to touch knowledge.

v  They can find out their own possible way to support the community with their professional experiences in different walks of life. For eg: an engineer sees the things and recognizes the possibilities from his perspective.  So as in the case of doctors, business men, educators, social workers etc

v  Can be motivated by the selfless work of the missionaries

v  Can be motivated by the role of the church

v  May help us through their prayer and resources

v  May encourage others

v  Possibility of vocation from the group or from their offspring

v  Moreover, it may help to increase the esteem of missionaries in the hearts of ordinary people

It is true that everything needs a large amount of home work and preparations.

  1. 6.      Business as Mission

Through this programme we try to lead business people to an encounter with Jesus and there by a personal God experience.  There are good number of positive business people also. We motivate them to start some enterprises attune to the specialty of particular area and culture.  The conversion of such people, when it is supported with their time and resources will make great difference in the mission fields. 

 In this context the laity belonging to the world of business hear the call of God to live out their faith according to Gospel values and the needs of the others.  This involves a number of options in their business- from the simple exercise of the values of truth, justice and love to their active participation in transforming the social structure of the whole process towards greater worker participation, more discerning consumer guidance, more responsible interventions by Governments and a more equitable society.[20]

Highly populated modern cities are formed due to the establishment of big industries and multinational companies. They have created a culture which mostly degrades and diminishes the human values and leads to greed, self centeredness and all kinds of luxuries etc.

Business as mission calls the catholic business people who are ready to do something for the poor.  When we support them for such endeavors they are expected to do something for the people according to their growth in the business.  They can support missionary activities in different ways, such as primary school, clinics, training centers, student scholarships etc. In order to support the entrepreneurs practicing and enthusiastic catholic persons should be employed.

  1. 7.            Church in Asia Forum

“The heart of the Church in Asia will be restless until the whole of Asia finds its rest in the peace of Christ, the Risen Lord.” (EA-10)

 

The goal of this forum is to enrich and keep up the missionary zeal in the hearts of seminarians/religious/lay people in order to make them equipped for the Evangelization, with an emphasis on Asia, tuned with the call of the Church especially through the Vatican II, encyclicals and other documents of the Magisterium on mission.  Universal Church hopes a real spring time in Asia.”Just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the Third Christian Millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent.” (EA-1)

Since our main focus is seminarians, we are not planning to do some mission works during this formation period but we are trying to be equipped for our future mission through different means.

Some of the aims

  • To make the seminarians say ‘yes’ to mission.
  • A common plat form for deepening the mission interest
  • To help the brothers know more about mission activities.
  • A forum that thinks dreams and prays for mission.
  • Helps to prepare for future mission.

Some of the Means

  • Adoption and Intercession for different countries and Indian states.
  • Short term training programmes.
  • Sharing sessions of active missionaries from different parts of the country.
  • Reading of magazines, leaflets and palm lets which give motivation.
  • Watching of some encouraging movies and documentaries about mission.
  • Study of the official teachings of the Church which speak about mission mandate (Apostolic letters, encyclicals etc..).
  • Modern medias and communication technologies especially Internet.

 

  1. 8.      Cultural Exchange Programme

The youth from younger Christian communities are motivated to visit the places where they can be enriched through the faith life of the people. In order to experience the life of the people they can be put up in different houses.  A better understanding the country and cultures would broaden the mind as well as the spiritual encounter through different programmes would strengthen the faith of the youth. 

  1. 9.      Specific Ministries

There are different organizations and Associations where likeminded people from different profession and carrier coming together for their common cause.  Trade unions, Employment organizations, etc are familiar to us.  In such institutions people come together and think together and move together. 

Evangelization also can be done in such a way that one student invites another students, one teacher preaches to another, one doctor motivates to another..etc. When a person really motivated by the love of God he/she spontaneously shares and invites others to experience that joy.  It is easy for him/her to share it with whom he/she meets every day life.  As a result of such individual initiatives there can be different ministries like campus, teachers, doctors, engineers, nurses, policemen etc.  Conducting retreats, arranging prayer groups…etc are some of the means to achieve this goal.

  1. 10.  Village Outreach

In this programme a group of youngsters after having a short orientation programme reach out to villages where they spent few days according to the need of the village.  They stay in different houses according to the number of the team and involve in different activities.  They visit houses as a group of 3 to 5 members.

Usually in the remote villages people go for their work during the day. So they spend time in prayer and gather the children who are out of the school.  Visiting and praying over the sick and elderly people is another activity during the day. Children may be animated through stories, catechism, songs etc.  In the evening they meet the family members, conduct prayer groups, share the gospel and if possible they show some devotional movies also.  Through such direct interventions they are able to touch the hearts personally.

Visiting Houses: during the visitation one of them hears the parent/family member and shares gospel through his/her personal experiences.  Mean while others pray in heart unceasingly.  If necessary they also interact with children in order to avoid distractions in the conversation. Inviting the family members for the evening prayer meeting also should be done.

Results:  personal interaction will help convincing the people easily.  Hearing the worries and grievances of the people will be a great comfort for them.  In many instances people have come back to the church and the sacraments.  Since the fruit of the programme is very evident for the participants deepens their faith.

 

  1. 11.  Special Thrust on Activities Among Politicians and Celebrities

“Missionary cooperation can also involve leaders in politics, economics, culture and journalism, as well as experts of the various international bodies” (RM-82).

Gospel should be proclaimed in every walk of life. Christian missionaries having the idea of option for the poor, have moved towards rural villages.  But at the same time we fail to evangelize the elite and rich people whose conversion could have resulted a dramatic change in the missionary activities.  The rapid growth of the protestant churches are in a way indebted to such conversions.

Influence of politicians and other people like film actors, sports persons, musicians etc, in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people cannot be ignored.  A single sentence of such persons influence the people like a 10 second advertisement in the Television.  Thousand preachers’ influence can be achieved with a split of second. We witnessed such an incident when the Brazilian player showed the words on his dress which proclaimed ‘we belong to Jesus’ after their victory in the 2002 World Cup foot ball. It was seen by more than one billion people!

In the same way the involvement of laity in the politics is very important. It will help us to influence the policies of the government.

The need of the hour in Asia is for competent and principled lay persons to enter into the realm of party politics and from within, influence the philosophies, programs and activities of political parties and personalities for the common good in the light of the gospel.  We commend the lay persons who already have contributed much to this area of public life.[21]

The assassination of Shabhaz Bhatti, Pakistani minister for Minorities who spoke against blasphemy law made a great impact in the life of the faithful in Pakistan.  His words are really strengthening the persecuted Christians in Pakistan.

Conclusion

We are taken you through these methods which are of course not exhaustive.  Looking into what we have presented, we are aware of their incompleteness and limits.  Each of these methods though effective in their own way besides their limits, has the power to change the lives of people.  We need to place these methods in their cultural contexts to reap maximum fruits.  Or we need to adapt these methods into the culture where it will be planted this could only muster the result we expect.  At this point let me also remind that the church has never been stagnant.  Church will encounter new ways in the future. There is no method that is called the best.  Suitable methods evolve from answering to the needs of the situation.   Still we should not forget that no method is effective unless we follow the biblical method which is seen in Acts 2:43-47. Believers came together for prayer, breaking of the bread, sharing, etc.  The life based on Christian charity and communion attracted many. There by the number of believers were also increased steadily. Sharing the Good News is not a propaganda it should be a life witness motivated by one’s own personal God experience.  This is the challenge which is responded by an evangelizer throughout the life.



[1]Benedict XVI,

[2] John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, no. 2.

[3] Paul Vadadkkumpadan, Mission in North East India, Shillong: Vendrame Institute Publications, 2007, p 141.

[4]Felipe Gomes S.J, “Method in Mission: Lessons from the History of the Church,” in Indian Missiological Review, January-1989, Vol.11, No.1, pp 15-53

 

[5] John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, Encyclical, no. 37.

[6] John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 71.

[7] Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, Apostolic Exhortation, no. 40.

[8] Indian Missiological Review, January-1989, Vol.11, No.1, pp 54-60, Emerging Priorities and New Perspectives of Evangelization in Asia, ( A summary of the discussions:  All Asian Conference on Evangelization, Suwon, South Korea- 24-31 August 1988)

[9] Propostio no. 29, as sited in John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, no. 45.

[10] Propostio no. 29, as sited in John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, no. 45.

[11] Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi,no. 73.

[12] FABC, Final Statement of Fourth Plenary Assembly, September 16-25, 1986, Tokyo, Japan, in FABC Papers No.47,  p 43.

 

[13] L’Osarvatore Romano, No.29, July- 20, 1994, p 7.

[14] Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi,no.46.

[15] John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 72.

[16] John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, no. 47.

[17] John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, no. 37.

[18] FABC, Final Statement of Fourth Plenary Assembly, September 16-25, 1986, Tokyo, Japan, in FABC Papers No.47,            p 33

[19] John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 82.

[20] FABC, Final Statement of Fourth Plenary Assembly, September 16-25, 1986, Tokyo, Japan, in FABC Papers No.47, p 36

 

[21] FABC, Final Statement of Fourth Plenary Assembly, September 16-25, 1986, Tokyo, Japan, in FABC Papers No.47, p 26.

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Life History of Pope John Paul II

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on August 11, 2012

LIFE AND WORKS

Pope John Paul II in Kerala

Pope John Paul II in Kerala

 

Introduction

“The priest is a man of the word of God, a man sacrament, a man of the mystery of faith”. Pope John Paul II has defined priesthood in terms of above statement. The inspiring words of his encyclicals, above all his life itself inspires us to priesthood. Pope John Paul II, who born in 1920 and answered the call of Jesus has done miraculous deeds in the history of Catholic Church. He was interested to be titled really as the servant of the servants of god. In this chapter we may try to have a short journey though his life, his works, and the personality of the pope which may help to know the inspirational words in the next chapters.

1. Life History of Pope John Paul II

Wadowice with its 15000 inhabitants and surrounded by fields of Rye, in the city where Karol Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920. The city is located in southern Poland on the River Skawa at the foot of the Beschidi Mountains, some 40 kilometers west of Krakow and 30 kilometers from Auschwitz. When Karol was born, Poland had only recently regained its independence after 123 years of domination by a foreign power and it was struggling to regain territory on its eastern border.1.1. Early Years

 

Karol’s parents were people of modest means. His father also named Karol was a junior officer in the polish army. Karol’s mother Emila Kaczorowska a Lithuanian and a former school teacher, used to eke out her pay by sewing. The infant was baptized on June 20, and given two names, along with Karol he received the name Jozef. The family immediately began calling the boy by the affectionate nickname “Lolek”. Lolek had an elder brother Edmund who was born on August 27 1906. A handsome young man, he became a fine student and active athlete, remembered for his exceptional charm. From 1924 through 1929, Edmund Wojtyla studied at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, where on May 28, 1930 he was awarded the degree doctor of medical science.

 

On September 15, 1926, Karol Wojtyla began the first grade at the local elementary school. The curriculum included polish, religion, arithmetic drawing, singing and according to his report cards, games and exercises and handicrafts. On April 13, 1929 while Lolek was completing the third grade his mother, who had often seen ill, died of kidney failure and congenital heart disease. Much has been written about the long term impact of his mother’s early death on Karol Wojtyla. It is frequently suggested that Wojtyla’s Marian piety is displaced maternal affection.

1.1.1. Studious student

 At the age of eleven Lolek moved on to the public high school, the Wadowice boys’ gymnasium. That same year Karol also becomes an altar boy. Karol also developed a close relationship with the religion teacher; father Kazimierz Figlewicz, who saw in the boy’s behavior ‘the shadow of an early sorrow’ as well as almost limitless talent and cleverness. The single source of great and ongoing joy in Karol’s life was his brother, Edmund, whom Karol idolized. In 1930 Karol was taken by his father for the ceremony conferring a medical degree on him brother Edmund began his career as a doctor at the children’s clinic of Krakow, and then worked as a resident in a hospital in Bielsko. Lolek’s outgoing confidence and optimism seemed to return when he spend his happiest childhood hours alone with his brother. So there could have been no cruder blow than the one that struck without warming a December 5, 1932 Karol was told that his brother had died at the hospital of scarlet fever contracted from a patient he had desperately tried to save. Later as Pope he remembers his brother; “my brother’s death probably affected me more deeply than my mother’s, because of the peculiars circumstances which were certainly tragic and because I was more gown up”. 1.1.2. Jagiellonian University

When Karol, father and son left Wadowice for good in 1938, to settle in Kracow, they came to a city that was Poland’s jewel, at treasure house of art and architecture, a cultural centre. Karol got admission to the Jagiellonian University founded by King Casimir and Queen Jadwiga in 1374. Karol’s choice of subjects for him university degree was polish language, literature and philosophy. At the University was an experimental theatre group, studio Dramatycyne and Karol joined the group and became immensely successful as an actor. Besides the theatre, he develops a love for poetry.

Happy days for Karol were then here again as they had been in his childhood in Wadowice before they were shattered by the deaths of his mother and brother. However they were not to last for long. His University studies were to be rudely interrupted by the approach of the Nazi Jackboots that were overrunning Central Europe. On Sept. 1st 1939 he attached Poland and two days later the Second World War began. On September 6th Cracow fell to Germans and in the afternoon of Sept. 8th they reached Warsaw. The Jagiellonian University was closed and 200 members of its staff packed off to concentration camps where 17 of them died. To be a student was to be marked out for death on deportation to an unknown place or forced labour in Germany.

It is good to know from Pope itself what the situation during the period “But let them go back to 1sept. 1939. The outbreak of the war radically changed the course of my life. True, the professors of the Jagiellonian University tried to start the new academic year in the usual way, but lectures lasted only until 6 November 1939. On that day the German authorities assembled all the teachers in a meeting which ended with the deportation of those distinguished scholars to the Sachsehausesn concentration camp. The period of my life devoted to the study of polish languages and letters then came to an end, and the period of the German occupation, I began, in the autumn of 1940 to work as a labour in a stone quarry attached to the Solvay chemical plant. This was at Zakrzowek, about half an hour from my home in Debniki”

“The mangers of the quarry, who were poles tried to spare in student from the heaviest work. in my case they made me the assistant to the rock blaster him because he would occasionally say things like; Karol you should be a priest you have a good voice and will sing well then you will be all set …”

Karol Wojtyla’s stint as a quarry to worker gave rise in caster years to some of him most emotive and memorable poetry. These sentiments he was to express in more prosaic from in his encyclical “Laborem Exercise” he said “The proper subject of work continues to be man; it is the quality of the human effort that matters”. In one way or another University’s pre-war faculties continued to maintain an active life. Karol enrolled as a second year student of polish philosophy.

Death was an ever present reality in occupied Krakow. Before his twenty first birthdays Karol Wojtyla had seen a lot of it. February 18, 1941 began like any other day during his period. After working at the quarry Karol stopped and picked up dinner and some medicine for his father. But as he entered the hours found that his beloved father has gone to father’s house. “At twenty I had already lost all the people I loved. I was not old enough to make my first communion when I lost my mother. My brother Edmand died from scarlet fever where in a virulent epidemic at the hospital where he was starting as a doctor after my February 1941, I gradually become aware to my true path” Pope remembers later.1.1.3. Answering to the call

He was twenty one and had come to a turning point of him life. All around him was wretchedness and misery, and the face that in the middle of the night there would be a knock on the door. Karol had played his part in the resistance. Karol has never fully explained his decision to become a priest for his interest with theater. But finally the conflict in Karol’s mind between a stage carrier and the priestly calling was ultimately resolved in favour of the latter. One day he took his friend Fr. Malinsky to the Wavel, where he said he wanted to see Fr. Figlewicz whose maser he had served in Wadowice soon Fr. Figlewicz introduced to Cracow. The Archbishop of Cracow. The archbishop agreed to admit him as a candidate for the priest food.

1.2. Influences on His Priesthood

It is good to have a quick reading on the influence on Karol’s vocation as it shaped the future pope.

1.2.1. Family

“My preparation for the priesthood in the seminary was in a certain sense preceded by the preparation I received in my family. Above all I am grateful to my father, who becomes a widower at an early age. Sometimes I would wake up during the night and find my father on his knees just as I would always see him kneeling in the parish church. His example was, in a way my first seminary, a kind of domestic seminary”.

1.2.2. The Solvay Plant

“Later after my early years, the stone quarry and water purification facilities in the bi-carbonate plant at Brock Falecki become my seminary; this was not a mere pre-seminary as at Wadowice. For me at that point in my life, the plant was a true seminary. I began to work in the stone quarry in September 1940, a year later I passed to the plant’s water purification facility. Those were the years when my final decision matured”.

1.2.3. Parish

Thinking on the role of Debinky parish and the Salesians who worked there, pope speaks spontaneously: “I believe that the presence of the Salesians played an important role in the formation of my vocation, I learned the basic methods of self- formation which would later be confined and developed in the seminary programme. This increased my interest in Carmelite spirituality”.

1.2.4. The Marian Thread

“Naturally in speaking of the origins of my priestly vocation I cannot over look its Marian thread…. Mary does bring in closed to Christ; she does lead us to him, provided that we live her mystery in Christ”.1.2.5. Brother Saint Albert

Brother Albert has a special place in the history of polish spirituality. For me he was particularly important, because I found in him a real spiritual support and example in leaving behind the world of art, literature and the theatre, and in making the radical choice of a vocation to the priesthood”.

1.2.6 The Experience of the War

 “My priestly vocation took definitive shape at the time of the second world war. The tragedy of the war had its effect on my gradual choice of a vocation. It helped me to understand in a new way the value and importance of my vocation. In the face of this spread of evil and the atrocities of the war, the meaning of the priesthood and its mission in the world became much clearer to me”.

1.3. We Have a Priest

On November 1, 1946, Karol was ordained to the priesthood in Sapieha’s private chapel. Ordination ceremony was a very private affair. The following day, the Feast of all Souls, Karol celebrated his first Mass in the crypt of the cathedral at the after of St. Leonard. He offered the Mass for his mother, father and brother who joined him from heaven. Priesthood marked the end of one decisive chapter in Karol Wojtyla’s life and the beginning of another.

Soon after his ordination, Fr. Karol Wojtyla departed for Rome for higher studies. He enrolled at the Angelicum and after residing for a brief period with the Pallottines, he moved to the Belgian college. Karol spent two years in Rome. In June 1948, he successfully defended his thesis on “the Doctrine of faith according to St. John of the cross”. Karol Wojtyla could not receive his doctoral degree until he submitted the required number of copies for the lack of money. When he returned to Poland, he delivered his thesis before the theology faculty of Jagiellonian University. He received the degree of doctor of theology in December 1948.

1.3.1. As a Good Pastor

Fr. Wojtyla’s first assignment was to serve as associated pastor in the village of Niegowic. Let us listen him for a few words; “it was harvest time, I walked through the fields of grain with the crops partly already reaped and partly still waving in the wind. When I finally reached the territory of Niegowic parish, I knelt down and kissed the ground. It was a gesture I had learned from St. John Vianney”. Young father Wojtyla stayed less than a year in Niegowic. In August 1949 he was called back to Krakow and assigned to St. Florian’s church in the university quarter. Stalin’s death in 1953 affected many lived in Poland. The theology department at Jagiellonian University in Krakow where Wojtyla had only recently become professor of social ethics was closed. He was promptly offered the chain of theology at the catholic university of Lublin.

1.3.2. Bishop Wojtyla and Vatican II

On July 4, 1958 Pope Pius XII named Karol Wojtyla auxiliary bishop of Krakow. Wojtyla was 38 years old. A year later, discussion began discussion began to arose on the topics to be covered in the upcoming Second Vatican Council. He made some responses to the preparatory commission for the council and they show, he had a keen perception of what was necessary for renewal in the church. Bp.Wojtyla left for Rome to attend the council on October 5, 1962. He intervened eight times during the council, submitted 13 written texts and three more in conjunction with other council fathers. John Paul recalls his days at Second Vatican Council; “At the beginning of my participation in the council, I was a young bishop. I remember that at first my seat was right next to the entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica. From the third session on- after I was appointed Archbishop of Krakow (January 18, 1964) – I was moved closer to the altar”. At the end of the council, Archbishop Wojtyla returned to Krakow with the realization that he had participated in an event without precedent.

In 1967 Wojtyla became a cardinal and immediately caught the attention of the Communist Secret Service. As a cardinal, Wojtyla did not change his manner of life. He became well known toward the end of Second Vatican Council. He became secretary to the synod of bishops and had personal touch with Pope Paul VI. During his eleven years as a cardinal Karol Wojtyla was becoming more widely known. He performed a variety of impatient functional, such as his participation in the synods of Bishops held in Rome, his election to the secretariat of the synods, his role relater at the Extra ordinary Synod of the Bishops of Europe and at the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia, his preached retreat for the Vatican curia; and his frequent visits to groups of polish emigrants as well as the meeting in Germany in 1978. These were the principal occasions through which the name and face of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became known throughout the world and to the members of the College of Cardinals. Later, when the second conclave of 1978 took place, these acquaintances would remember him during the election process for a new Pope.

1.3.3. We have a Pope.

In Rome cardinal Wojtyla participated at the funeral rites of John Paul I and he stayed for the conclave, which lasted only two days. The Collage of cardinal elected cardinal Wojtyla as the new Pope. He was the first Polish Pope in history and it had been 455 years since the last non-Italian ascended to the throne of St. Peter. Moreover Wojtyla was the first Pope to come from a communist country.

During his first year as pontiff he said “no” to abortion, divorce, contraception, women priests, homo-sexual unions, married priests and pre-martial sex, attracting the wealth of all those groups who were fighting for those various freedoms.

The leaders of the various Communist countries realized that the Pope’s popularity was detrimental for them and so they decided to oppose it by spreading false information. On May 13, 1981, Ali Agca, tried to kill the Pope as he entered audience as he did every Wednesday. He was shot down and taken immediately to Gemelli hospital. He was safe in the hands of God and survived without much delay. After this shocking event his pontificate took a new course. Pope became a more perceive, charismatic figure.

His mission was an all consuming act of love for the world; Protestants, Orthodox, Jews, Muslims, atheists etc, came under his influence. In 1986 he visited the synagogue in Rome. This was an act which no pontiff had ever done before. In 1993 he established the first official diplomatic relation between Israel and the Holy See. Historic hallmarks were his apostolic journeys to the Eastern European Countries, to Cuba, Sarajevo, Beirut, the World Youth days, the great Jubilee of the year 2000. He presided over 147 beatification ceremonies, in which he beatified 1338 people and canonized 482 saints. He presided over 9 consistories, in which he created 231 cardinals and presided over 6 plenary meetings of the College of Cardinals.

What especially characterized John Paul’s Pontificate, however was his journey’s. This “pilgrim Pope” made 146 pastoral visits in Italy alone and as Bishop of Rome visited 317 of the current 333 parishes of that city. He made 104 Apostolic Journey’s around the world. He visited 130 different countries, 615 different localities and pronounced 2400 speeches. This pilgrim activity was continued right to this end.

1.3.4. We May Meet in Heaven

In 2003 he marked his 25th year as Pope making him the longest serving pontiff of the 20th century. By then John Paul was struggling with increasing poor health. Visibly suffering from the slurred speech and trembling hands of Parkinsons disease. In February 2005, he had a tracheotomy after being taken to Gemelli hospital with breathing problems. He received the last rites on March 31, after suffering septic shock and a cardio circulatory collapse brought on by urinary tract infection. He died in his apartments at the Vatican on April 2. Pope John Paul II passed away with his heart filled with serenity and deep trust in God, even amid the pains that racked his mortal body. Then it was the end of ever showing sun in the Catholic Church.

1.3.5 Beatification Process

Inspired by calls of “Santo Subito” (Make him a saint now) from the crowds gathered during the funeral, Pope Benedict XVI, John Paul’s successor began the beatification process, by passing the normal restriction that five years must beatification process can begin. In an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, Camillo Ruini, Vicar, General of the Diocese of Rome and the one responsible for the cause of canonization cited, “exceptional circumstances” which suggested that the waiting period could be waived on 28May 2006. Pope Benedict XVI said Mass before an estimated 900,000 people in John Paul II’s native Poland and started that he hoped canonization would happen “in the near future”. In January 2007, Stainslaw cardinal Dziwisz of Krakow announced that the key interviewing phase of the beatification process was nearing completion. On 8 March 2007, the Vicariate of Rome announced that the diocesan phase of John Paul’s cause for beatification was at an end. The cause then proceeded to the scrutiny of the committee of the Vatican’s congregation for the causes of saints, who will conduct an investigation of their own.

2. Major Works of Pope John Paul II

 

As pope, one of John Paul II’s most important roles was to teach people about Christianity. The documents of Pope John Paul II reiterate the time tested catholic teaching on various important aspects of church’s faith and life. He published 14 Encyclicals, 14 Apostolic Exhortations, 7 Apostolic constitution, 28 Apostolic letter and even 5 books without mentioning the thousands of speeches

2.1. Encyclicals

Many of his encyclicals are profound with meaning and all influenced the way of catholic faith. In “The splendor of the Truth” (Veritatis Splendor), he emphasized the dependence of freedom on the truth. He warned that man giving himself over to relativism and skepticism. In “Fides et Ratio” Pope promoted a renewed interest in philosophy and an autonomous pursuit for truth in theological matters. John Paul II also wrote extensively about workers and the social doctrine of the church, which he discussed in three encyclicals. Other encyclicals include “Evangelium Vitae” and “Ut Unum Sint” is promoting the brotherhood of having same faith. Redemptoris Missio, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis are other encyclicals which show his social missionary thirst and social concerns.

2.2. Apostolic Exhortations

Pope John Paul has written 14 Apostolic exhortations each having a preferential theme for study. Ecclesia in Asia, Ecclesia in America, Ecclesia in Africa, Ecclesia in Europe, etc shows his concern for the churches in different continents. He also wrote on bishops, consecrated life, role of laity, role of catechism and especially on the role of Christian family. Pastores Dabo Vobis which we may discuss later shows his desire for mature formation of priests.

 2.3. Apostolic Constitutions

The servant of the servants of God wrote 7 Apostolic constitutions which had a great impact. It consists of “Sapientia Christiana” “Pastor Bonus” “Fidei Depositum” etc. He gave new visions on the catechism of the Catholic Church for the promulgation of the new code of Canon law etc.

2.4. Apostolic Letters

Apostolic letters by Pope John Paul II had a remarkable value in the modern world. It consists of “Mane Nobiscum Domine”, “Misericordia Dei”, “Novo Millennio ineunte”, Ordinatio sacerdotalis” “Teritio Millennio Adveniente” “Orientale Lumen” “Mulieris Dignitatem” etc.

3. Major Contributions of Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II is universally considered one of the great leaders of the 20th century. The personality and the contribution he made to the world stands unique. In this section we may try to evaluate a few of his traits and contributions.

3.1. Apologies

The importance or uniqueness of Pope John Paul II must be traced back to his apologies. He apologized to Jews, Galileo, Women, Victims of the inquisitions, Muslims slaughtered by the crusades and almost everyone who had suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church through the years. As Pope he officially made public apologies for over 100 of wrong doings including;

The legal process on the Italian scientists and Philosopher Galileo Galilee on 31 October 1992.

Catholics’ involvement with the African slave trade on 9 August 1993.

The church hierarchy’s role in burning at the stake and religious wars that followed the Protestant Reformation on May 1995.

The injustices committed against women on 10 July 1995.

The inactivity and silence during the Holocaust on 16 March 1998.

3.2 Role in the fall of Communism

 John Paul II has been credited with being instrumental in bringing down communism in Eastern Europe by being the spiritual inspiration behind its downfall and a catalyst for a peaceful revolution in Poland. The Pope started the chain of events that led to the end of communism. Mikhail Gorbachev once said “The collapse of the Iron curtain would have been impossible without John Paul II. In February 2004 Pope John Paul II was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize honouring his life’s work in opposing communist oppression and helping to reshape the world.

3.3. World Youth Day

World Youth Day is a popular catholic faith themed international youth event initiated by Pope John Paul II, had a special relationship with catholic youth and is known as “The Pope for Youth”. He established world youth day in 1984 with the intention of bringing young Catholics from all parts of the world together to celebrate the faith. These week-long meetings of youth occurs every two or three years, attracting hundreds of thousands of young people who go there to sing, party, have a good time and deepen their faith.

3.4. On Liberation Theology

John Paul II officially condemned the liberation theology which had many followers on South America through the teachings of congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in 1984 and in 1986. In his travel to Managua, Nicaragua in 1983 John Paul II harshly condemned what he dubbed the “popular Church”

3.5. On Evolution

On 22 October 1996, in a speech to the pontifical academy of sciences plenary session at the Vatican, Pope John Paul II declared the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin as factors and wholly compatible with the teachings of Roman Catholic Church. Pope said; “If taken literally, the Biblical view of the beginning of life and Darwin’s scientific view would seem irreconcilable. In Genesis the creation of the world and Adam, took six days. Evolution’s process of genetic mutation and natural selection has taken billions of years according to scientists”. Although accepting the theory of evolution, John Paul II made one major exception –the human soul, “If the human body has its origin in living material which pre-exists it, the spiritual soul”

3.6. On Homosexuality

While taking a traditional position on sexuality, defending in church’s moral opposition to marriage to for same-sex couples, the pope asserted that persons with homosexual inclinations possesses the same inherent dignity and rights as everybody else. The pope also reaffirmed the church’s existing teaching on gender in relation to transsexuals, made clear that transsexual could not serve in church positions.

3.7. Relationships with denominations and other Religions

 Pope John Paul II travelled extensively and came into contact with believers from many divergent faiths. He constantly attempted to find common ground, both doctrinal and dogmatic. At the world Day of Prayer for peace held in Assisi on 27 October 1986, more than 120 representatives of different religion and Christian denomination spent a day together with fasting and praying.

3.7.1. Anglicanism

Pope John Paul II had good relation with the Church of England. He preached in Canterbury with friendship and courtesy. John Paul II’s historic ecumenical effort with the Anglican Communion was realized with the establishment of our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in co-operation with Archbishop Patrick Flores San Antonio.

3.7.2. Eastern Orthodox Church

In May 1999, John Paul II visited Romania on the invitation from patriarch Teoctist Arapasu of the Romanian Orthodox Church. This was the first time a Pope had visited a predominantly Eastern Orthodox country since the Great Schism in 1054. Pope visited another heavily Orthodox area Ukraine on 23-27 June 2001 at the invitation of the President of Ukraine and bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine. The Pope spoke to leaders of the All-Ukrainian council of churches and religions organizations, pleading for “Open, tolerant and honest dialogue”. For a number of years John Paul II actively sought to facilitate dialogue and unity stating as early as 1988 in “Euntes in Mundum” that church has two lungs, it will never breathe easily until it uses both of them.

3.7.3. Judaism

Relations between Catholicism and Judaism improved during the pontificate of John Paul II. He spoke frequently about the church’s relationship with Jews. In 1979, he became the first Pope to visit the Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp on Poland, where many of his countrymen, mostly Polish Jews had perished during the German Nazi occupation. He also became the first pope known to have made an official papal visit to a Synagogue of Rome on 13 April 1986. In January 2005, John Paul II became the first Pope in history known to receive a priestly blessing from a Rabbi. Immediately after the death of the Pope, the Anti-defamation league issued a statement that Pope John Paul II had revolutionized Catholic – Jewish relations saying that “more change for the better took place in his 27 year papacy than in the nearly 2000 years before”.

3.7.4. Buddhism

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama and the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, visited Pope John Paul II eight times more than any other single dignitary. The pope and the Dalilama often shared similar views and understood similar plights both coming from people affected by communism.

3.7.5. Islam

On 6th May 2001, Pope John Paul II became the first catholic Pope to entered and prayed in an Islamic mosque. Respectfully removing his shoes, he entered the Umayyad Mosque, a former Byzantine era Christian church dedicated to John the Baptist. He kissed the Quran in Syria, an act which made him popular amongst Muslims and more unpopular amongst traditionalist Catholics. John Paul II over saw the publication of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” which makes a special provision for Muslims therein, it is written, “the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims, these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful god, mankind’s Judge on the last day”.

Conclusion

“He was one of the most eminent figures of our epoch. His words and actions had an enormous influence on the situation in the Republic of Poland, On Europe and on the whole world. Since he was a tireless upholder of peace dialogue and reconciliation, he helped to pull down many of the barriers that divided people and religions. The content of his magisterium reached everyone, brought serenity to hearts and moved consciences. For millions of people, the Pope was a true authority and an authentic spiritual guide”.

This is the message send to Rome of the occasion of hearing the death of Pope John Paul II on 2rd April 2005, by the president of Poland, Alekasander Kwasniewaki. Such high was the influence of the Pope John Paul II. This “light of the world” has small beginning in the small village and had it suffering to the path of highness. 27 year of his pontificate was remarkable for the given a lovely, acceptable face for the church of Jesus Christ. Thus his life inspires much to be in communion with Catholic Church and above all to triune god, who has shown. His unending love and care for human beings.

 Fr Kochumundanmalayil Sijo

 

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St Alphonsa – Canonization Address

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on July 27, 2012

Address at the Public Meeting at the Canonization of Sr Alphonsa at Bharanaganam, Kottayam

Kottayam, Nov 8 2008

St Alphonsa of India

St Alphonsa of India

In giving, receive happiness “Oh humanity, I have glad tidings for you” I am delighted to participate in the Public Meeting celebrating the canonization of Sr Alphonsa, which is a unique event for India particularly for Kerala. I greet all the participants in this noble event which will enable each one of us to think about this great memorable event in the life of Sister Alphonsa. I was asking myself, what spiritual life inspired Sister Alphonsa. Here I would like to remember a great biblical event, where Jesus Christ was crucified, on the day of resurrection Jesus says, “Oh humanity, I have glad tidings for you”. This is a great message of forgiveness and love. In Sister Alphonsa we see such a spiritual awakening. Teacher’s message I am very happy to be at Bharananganam where Sr Alphonsa spent major part of her life and has now been transformed as Saint Alphonsa. Yesterday, I contacted my teacher Rev Father Chinnathurai who is staying in BESKI ILLAM at Dindigul, Tamilnadu, I asked Father Chinnathurai, “Please tell me something unique about Saint Alphonsa”. My teacher gladly said Saint Alphonsa is the first Women Saint in India. Sister Alphonsa became a Saint because she accepted “all the sufferings as God?s Gift”. The value of suffering as reparation for sin and for the change of heart is emphatically reasserted in the life of Blessed Alphonsa. While declaring Sister Alphonsa as a Saint, Pope Benedict XVI said “she suffered herself to heal the suffering of others”. What a great tribute to this loving soul.

Torch bearers of Saint Alphonsa . She was clothed in the religious habit on the 19th of May 1930, during the first pastoral visit made to Bharananganam by the Bishop, Msgr. James Kalacherry. We are proud to be in Bhara-nan-ga-nam, and celebrate the Canonization of Sister Alphonsa into Saint Alphonsa today. The people of this great village have now become the torch bearers of the great soul Saint Alphonsa. One of her thoughts which Saint Alphonsa wrote in her spiritual diary, greatly impressed me which I would like to share with you. “I do not wish to act or speak according to my inclinations. Every time I fail, I will do penance… I want to be careful never to reject anyone. I will only speak sweet words to others. I want to control my eyes with rigour. I will ask pardon of the Lord for every little failure and I will atone for it through penance. No matter what my sufferings may be, I will never complain and if I have to undergo any humiliation, I will seek refuge in the Sacred Heart of Jesus“. What a powerful message Saint Alphonsa has given to humanity. If only all of us can follow this trait, the world will be a very happy place to live for everyone. Suffering is a gift of God When we study deeper into the life of Saint Alphonsa, we find that she renounced the world. She renounced the desires, she renounced her own preferences. When the others belittled her and taunted her, she accepted all those sufferings with a smile. Never reacting, but always pro-acting, she kept her cool, won the hearts of many, then and even now and forever in future. The married people wear a ring. The nuns wear no ring. But this nun wore a ring, as she said is suffeRING. She suffered and silently she suffered. She knew, silence is the best ornament to wear during the celebrations of suffering

When I am in the land of Saint Alphonsa, where I walk, where I see all around, I hear the song of Saint Alphonsa?s, where she accepted all the sufferings with a smile. Yes the song, song is “What can I give?” in giving “I see Christ”. Here I am reminded

Message of giving When I am in the land of Saint Alphonsa, where I walk, where I see all around, I hear the song of Saint Alphonsa?s, where she accepted all the sufferings with a smile. Yes the song, song is “What can I give?” in giving “I see Christ”. Here I am reminded of a poem on giving: “Radiating message on Giving” “O my fellow citizens, In giving, you receive happiness, In Body and Soul. You have everything to give. If you have knowledge, share it. If you have resources, share it with the needy. Use your mind and heart, to remove the pain of the suffering, and, cheer the sad hearts. In giving, you receive happiness. Almighty will bless all your actions.” We are happy that Pope Benedict XVI accepted Sister Alphonsa’s name for canonization on June 1, 2007, a process that was started 55 years ago. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1986 in Kottayam, 40 years after her death, in recognition of the numerous miracles associated with her. On 12 Oct 2008, Sister Alphonsa was canonized as a Saint Alphonsa by the Pope. Today we are celebrating the canonization of Sister Alphonsa at Bharanan-ganam, Kottayam. Scaling great height through silent suffering God loves children, because they do not consider themselves as great. Pride does not rule them. They are humble. Sr. Alphonsa was humble like a child, accepting all that happened as the will of God. And so God loved her immensely. So He blessed her immensely. “I will bless you and you will become a blessing for all”. St. Alphonsa has become a blessing for all.

She is a blessing for all, because of the fragrance of her holiness. Miracles will not happen, just because you have money to spend. People will not get mental and spiritual solace, just because there is somebody with money and power. People knew of the fragrance of her holiness on those days when she was living. Immediately after her death there had been a flow of people seeking her blessing. This continued till today and will continue till the end of times. Here I am reminded of a famous verses of Al-Quran: O Lord grant to me the love of you. Grant that I love those that love you. Grant that I may do the deeds that win your love. Make your love dearer to me than self, family or wealth. Conclusion Let us all take pledge to emulate Saint Alphonsa?s qualities such as being a noble human being, working towards harmony in the home, order in the nation and peace in the world. I am reminded of a hymn which I would like to share with you. “Righteousness” Where there is righteousness in the heart There is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, There is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home. There is an order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, There is peace in the world. Dear friends, let the spiritual light of Saint Alphonsa radiate from this great land of Kerala to our nation and many many nations. Let us pray all of us, on the day of remembrance of Saint Alphonsa that prosperity, happiness and peace engulfs the people of the world. My greetings and best wishes to all of you. May God Bless you.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

08.11.2008

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Ecclesia in Asia: An Evaluation

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on June 23, 2012

Ecclesia in Asia

 Introduction

Ecclesia in Asia is a document issued by Pope to serve as a blueprint for the expansion of the Roman Catholic faith in Asia. It summarizes ideas and conclusions of the Special Asian Synod held in Rome from April 18 to May 14, 1998. It was officially promulgated by Pope John Paul II in New Delhi, India on November 6, 1999.

The document stated that “just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the Third Christian Millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent of Asia.”

We Asian peoples like to think in symbols and images, and do not indulge so much on analytic reasoning or speculations; we prefer evocation to demonstration, intuition to argumentation, wisdom to science. There several cultures here, different kind and coloured people here, numerous languages exist here and the philosophy and theology and the very mind set of the people are different from that of the west. Having in mind all these context of cultural and linguistic veracity of the people of Asia Pope John Paul II inspired by the Holy spirit write this document as it was clear from the very title itself Post-synodal apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Asia of the Holy Father John Paul II to the bishops, priests and deacons, men and women in the consecrated life and all the lay faithful on Jesus Christ the saviour and his mission of love and service in Asia: “…that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10)

1.  The Structure of the Document

The Exhortation is composed of seven parts dealing with the following themes: the Asian context, Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit as Lord and Giver of life, proclamation of Jesus in Asia (with a focus on inculturation), communion and dialogue for mission (with a focus on ecumenical and interreligious dialogue), the service of human promotion, and Christians as witnesses to the Gospel.

The long document concludes as “The peoples of Asia need Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Asia is thirsting for the Living water that Jesus alone can give (Jn 4:10-15). The disciples of Christ in Asia must therefore be unstinting in their efforts to fulfill the mission they have received from the Lord, who has promised to be with them to the end of the age (Mt 28:20). Trusting in the Lord who will not fail those whom he has called, the Church in Asia joyfully makes her pilgrim way into the Third Millennium.”

The content of the document is the following:

Introduction

The Marvel of God’s Plan in Asia (1)

Background to the Special Assembly (2)

The Celebration of the Special Assembly (3)

Sharing the Fruits of the Special Assembly (4)

 Chapter I – The Asian Context

Asia, the Birthplace of Jesus and of the Church (5)

Religious and Cultural Realities (6)

Economic and Social Realities (7)

Political Realities (8)

The Church in Asia: Past and Present (9)

 Chapter II – Jesus the Saviour: A Gift to Asia

The Gift of Faith (10)

Jesus Christ, the God-Man Who Saves (11)

The Person and Mission of the Son of God (12)

Jesus Christ: the Truth of Humanity (13)

The Uniqueness and Universality of Salvation in Jesus (14)

 Chapter III – The Holy Spirit: Lord and Giver of Life

The Spirit of God in Creation and History (15)

The Holy Spirit and the Incarnation of the Word (16)

The Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ (17)

The Holy Spirit and the Church’s Mission in Asia (18)

 Chapter IV – Jesus the Saviour: Proclaiming the Gift

The Primacy of Proclamation (19)

Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia (20)

The Challenge of Inculturation (21)

Key Areas of Inculturation (22)

Christian Life as Proclamation (23)

 Chapter V – Communion and Dialogue for Mission

Communion and Mission Go Hand in and (24)

Communion within the Church (25)

Solidarity among the Churches (26)

The Catholic Eastern Churches (27)

Sharing Hopes and Sufferings (28)

A Mission of Dialogue (29)

Ecumenical Dialogue (30)

Inter-religious Dialogue (31)

 Chapter VI – The Service of Human Promotion

The Social Doctrine of the Church (32)

The Dignity of the Human Person (33)

Preferential Love of the Poor (34)

The Gospel of Life (35)

Health Care (36)

Education (37)

Peacemaking (38)

Globalization (39)

Foreign Debt (40)

The Environment (41)

 Chapter VII – Witnesses To the Gospel

A Witnessing Church (42)

Pastors (43)

The Consecrated Life and Missionary Societies (44)

The Laity (45)

The Family (46)

Young People (47)

Social Communications (48)

The Martyrs (49)

 Conclusion

Gratitude and Encouragement (50)

Prayer to the Mother of Christ (51)

2. An Evaluation of the Document

2.1 Truly Asian, Authentically Christian

While the Pope sees the crux of the matter as doctrinal (Christo-centrism), the bishops’ interventions saw their problem as not with Jesus the Christ – who is widely accepted and loved by Asians – but the presence of a foreign Church burdened by a colonial past. Ecclesia in Asia finds it strange that Jesus the Asian, has become a foreigner in Asia (EA 20). Apart from the indigenous Churches in the Near East and Kerala, most remaining Churches are the result of colonial expansion and missionary outreach working hand-in-hand. Whatever the nuances, however great the social contribution of the mission Churches in the past, however heroic the sacrifices of cross-cultural missioners over the centuries, the fact remains in stark clarity: the Latin Churches of Asia are a foreign presence. They are alien in the official dress of its leaders; alien in its rituals; alien in its formation of cultic and community leaders in foreign thought patterns in seminaries whose professors are foreign-educated; alien in its large, often rich, institutions among people who are generally poor; above all alien in that Christians have had to uproot themselves from their own cultural identity in order to claim a “hybrid” Christian one. This is a major issue for most Asian bishops. However, Ecclesia in Asia mentions it in passing in a single sentence as though the problem was over:”… the Church in many places was still considered as foreign to Asia, and indeed was often associated in people’s minds with the colonial powers” (EA, 9).

Ecclesia in Asia is surely right in placing Christ at the center rather than the Church, whether Latin or Oriental. This is not to separate Christ from his body, the Church, but rather to accept the Church as sign, sacrament and instrument of Christ’s saving presence. The eternal, incarnate, redemptive, cosmic presence of Christ can neither be confined to, nor controlled by the Church. The central problem is neither Christ nor his acceptance/rejection by his fellow Asians. The key missiological problem is rather the Western Church’s alien tone and idiom inherited from colonial times. As for the how of mission we need time, patience and perseverance in order to move away from insulated, devotional practices and re-invent ourselves as dynamic diaspora living out a dialogue of life and action.

2.2 A New Way of Being Church

Another way of making the point for the Asian Synod to have a lasting impact, the Asian Churches must, with courage and creativity, find new ways of being Church, and hence construct an alternative ecclesiology. This ecclesiology, in a sort of Copernican revolution, de-centers the Church in the sense that it makes the center of the Christian life not the Church but the reign of God. Their mission is not to expand the Church and its structures in order to enlarge the sphere of influence for the Church but to be a transparent sign and effective instrument of the saving presence of the reign of God, the reign of justice, peace, and love, of which the Church is a seed. As the Exhortation puts it well: “Empowered by the Spirit to accomplish Christ‘s salvation on earth, the Church is the seed of the kingdom of God, and she looks eagerly for its final coming. Her identity and mission are inseparable from the kingdom of God he Spirit reminds the Church that she is not an end unto herself: In all that she is and all that she does, she exists to serve Christ and the salvation of the world” (EA, 17).

2.2.1 Church as a Communion

The Church, both at the local and universal levels, is seen primarily as “a communion of communities, where laity, religious and clergy recognize and accept each other as sisters and brothers.” At the heart of the mystery of the Church is the bond of communion uniting God with humanity and humans with one another, of which the Eucharist is the sign and instrument par excellence. In this ecclesiology there is an explicit and effective recognition of the fundamental equality among all the members of the local Church as disciples of Jesus and among all the local Churches in so far as they are communities of Jesus’ disciples and whose communion constitutes the universal Church. The communion (koinonia) which constitutes the Church, both at the local and universal levels, and from which flows the fundamental equality of all Christians, is rooted at its deepest level in the life of the Trinity in whom there is a perfect communion of equals.18 Unless this fundamental equality of all Christians is acknowledged and lived through concrete policies and actions, the Church will not become a communion of communities in Asia. Living out this fundamental equality is particularly difficult in Asia, not only because the insistence on the hierarchical structure of the Church tends to obscure and minimize it but also because it goes against the class consciousness of many Asian societies.

2.2.2 Discipleship of Equals

 The understanding of pastoral “discipleship of equals” leads to the second characteristic of the new way of being Church in Asia, that is, the participatory and collaborative nature of all the ministries in the Church: “It is a participatory Church where the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to all the faithful – lay, religious, and cleric alike -are recognized and activated, so that the Church may be built up and its mission realized. This participatory nature of the Church must be lived out not only in the local Church but also among all the local Churches, including the Church of Rome, of course, with due recognition of the papal primacy. In this context it is encouraging to read in the Exhortation the following affirmation: It is in fact within the perspective of ecclesial communion that the universal authority of the successor of Peter shines forth more clearly, not primarily as juridical power over the local churches, but above all as a pastoral primacy at the service of the unity of faith and life of the whole people of God” (EA, 25). A “pastoral primacy” must do everything possible to foster co-responsibility and participation of all the local Churches in the triple ministry of teaching, sanctification, and service in the Church and must be held accountable to this task so that these words do not remain at the level of pious rhetoric but are productive of concrete structures and actions. Only in this way can the Church’s teaching office and the pope’s ministry of promoting unity be effectively exercised, learning from the varied and rich experiences of being Church from all corners of the globe and welcoming respectful but frank warning and correction when errors of intellectual narrowness, moral arrogance, and  spiritual blindness have been committed.

2.2.3 A Dialogical Spirit

The third characteristic of a new way of being Church in Asia is the dialogical spirit: Built in the hearts of people, it is a Church that faithfully and lovingly witnesses to the Risen Lord and reaches out to people of other faiths and persuasions in a dialogue of life towards the integral liberation of all. The universal church must have in mind the necessity of this triple dialogue. In the dialogue with the Asian cultures (inculturation), the Exhortation highlights the areas of theology, liturgy, and the Bible (EA, 22). In the dialogue with other religious traditions, the document emphasizes ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. It quotes approvingly proposition 41 of the Synod: “Interreligious relations are best developed in a context of openness to other believers, a willingness to listen and the desire to respect and understand others in their differences. For all this, love of others is indispensable. This should result in collaboration, harmony and mutual enrichment” (EA, 31). In the dialogue with the poor, the Exhortation affirms the necessity of the preferential love of the poor (in particular, the migrants, indigenous and tribal people, women and children), defense of human life, health care, education, peacemaking, cancellation of foreign debts, and protection of the environment (EA, 32-41). There is no doubt that if the Christian Church is to become truly of Asia, Asian Christians must be engaged, relentlessly and wholeheartedly, in this triple “dialogue of life and heart” and in this way fulfill their inalienable right and duty of proclaiming Jesus to their fellow Asians.

2.2.4 Being a Prophetic Sign

The fourth and last feature of the new way of being Church in Asia is prophecy: The Church is “a leaven of transformation in this world and serves as a prophetic sign daring to point beyond this world to the ineffable Kingdom that is yet fully to come” As far as Asia is concerned, in being “a leaven of transformation in this world,“ Christianity must give up its ambition, so enthusiastically endorsed in many missionary quarters at the beginning of the twentieth century, to convert the majority of Asians to Christ. The report of the demise of Asian religions was premature and vastly exaggerated. In Asia, where Christians still form but a minuscule part of the population after four hundred years of mission, and where non-Christian religions have recently staged a vigorous revival, the prospect of a massive conversion of Asians to the Christian faith is utterly unlikely. Christians in Asia must come to terms with the fact that they are destined to remain for the foreseeable future a “small remnant” who must journey with adherents of other religions toward the eschatological kingdom of God.

The objective of the Church‘s mission of “making disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19) in Asia cannot therefore be adding as many members to the Church as possible, even though baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19) remains the desirable outcome of the Church‘s mission. Rather, the primary task of the Church is to become a credible prophetic sign” of the coming reign of God. This new focus of the Church‘s mission must be the light guiding the ordering of its priorities and the choice of its policies which must not aim at serving the internal interests of the Church but the proclamation of the Gospel through the triple dialogue.

The significance of the Asian Synod and Ecclesia in Asia lies,  not so much in what they say as in the recognition that the Churches of Asia have come of age and must continue to pursue the task of becoming Asian, relentlessly, courageously, creatively. Only in this way can the Christian Church fulfill its missionary vocation which is the task of the entire Church.33 It is only by living out a new way of being Church that Asian Christians will make true what the Exhortation states as a fact: “Contemplating Jesus in his human nature, the peoples of Asia find their deepest questions answered, their hopes fulfilled, their dignity uplifted and their despair conquered” (EA, 14).

2.3 Ecclesia in Asia and the Biblical Pastoral Ministry

In EA, the explicit reflection on our ministry comes in chapter IV “Jesus the Saviour: Proclaiming the Gift”, in the section, “The Challenge of Inculturation” (nos. 21-22). Among the key areas of inculturation, priority is given to theological inculturation: “The Synod expressed encouragement to theologians in their delicate work of developing an inculturated theology, especially in the area of Christology.” (EA 22) This is to be undertaken “with courage and faithfulness“. The thrust of the document in this section is on the inculturation of the Good News. The word inculturation, culture and related words appear one hundred and one times in the document.

3.0 Conclusion

The significance of the Asian Synod and Ecclesia in Asia lies not so much in what they say as in the recognition that the Churches of Asia have come of age and must continue to pursue the task of becoming Asian, courageously and creatively. Only in this way can the Christian Church fulfill its missionary vocation which is the task of the entire Church. It is only by living out a new way of being Church that Asian Christians will make true what the Exhortation states as a fact: “Contemplating Jesus in his human nature, the peoples of Asia find their deepest questions answered, their hopes fulfilled, their dignity uplifted and their despair conquered” (EA, 14). What the Pontifical Biblical Commission says about the actualization of the Bible is valid for a dialogic approach to biblical pastoral ministry. “In any case, the risk of error does not constitute a valid objection against performing what is a necessary task that of bringing the message of the Bible to the ears and hearts of the people of our time” (Interpretation of the Bible in Church, p.117). A dialogic proclamation of the word is not a clearly defined task. It is a venture of hope. It will become an adventure of the Church in Asia. Today we are here to plant the seeds of a future visioning. Our task is to greet from distance that future and to keep sowing the seeds and nurture their growth. May this Apostolic Document strengthen us for such a mission.

Bibliography

  1. Pope john Paul II, Ecclesia in Asia, 1999.
  2. Losservatore Romano, november, 1999.

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