Monday, March 05, 2007

BANGALORE: Priest Warns of Faith Dangers

Priest Warns Catholics of Dangers to the Faith

BANGALORE March 5, 2007 ( A Catholic Priest in the South Indian Archdiocese of Bangalore has warned Catholics about dangers threatening the Catholic faith in today's world.

"We need to locate ourselves realistically in the world that we live in", Fr. Adolf Washington told the 600 odd Catholics attending an audio-visual seminar on keeping the faith in today's world, Sunday evening at Good Shepherd auditorium in the city.

He mentioned some of the recent controversies - the "Da Vinci Code", James Cameron's "The Tomb of Jesus", Brothers of Jesus, and claims of finding Mary's remains at ephesus or the skull of infant Jesus "somewhere in Europe" - as posing a challenge to the faith .

However, "on the positive side", the Vice-President of the Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) and editor of SAR News said, "no person in human history has been the centre of so much of attraction, so much of intrigue, so much of interest and debated so much like that of Jesus Christ."

These controversies don't disturb those who are not serious about their faith but a serious person expresses concern "not only about my faith" but also "about the faith of my children and my grandchildren, about all those whom I love and the thousands of Catholics who may go astray by such kind of controversies," Fr. Adolf noted. Such a person prepares to resist the false "waves of intellectualism and scientific discoveries" by a deeper study of the Scriptures and of the faith.

In a world where "time has become the most important commodity" and is equated to money, a 24 hour schedule does not seem to be enough, the Priest said. Recalling what his grandma told him about marriage preparation courses lasting 15 days or a month in her day, today Catholics, he contrasted, are asking that even a 3 day course be made shorter.

"There are a lot of us... who look at our watch the moment the Priest begins his homily but we can sit for three hours in a cinema hall without even having a watch on our hands, " Fr. Washington told an amused audience adding, "we must laugh at ourselves. We must laugh at how we look at life."

He also pointed out the case of some parents who neglect to send their children for regular Sunday Catechism, and who, when the bishop comes to administer the sacraments, ask for a one-week "crash course in catechism." "We're living in a world of crash courses... and so we're coming to a crashing point even in the Church". "The struggle for survival can take more time than our desire for worship," he cautioned, adding that it is going to be "something dangerous for our children" if in a world of commercialisation we're going to forget our religious life.

The Priest also warned about the danger of the new age religious movements which he "crudely" defined as "a masala or a mixture we eat; [a] little of every religion, some theology some philosophies from here and there, pick them up, put them together, and give it." These movements, he said, are coming up "because, firstly people are not convinced completely of their own beliefs and secondly because everybody wants to try something new; because that is the kind of world we are living in; everyday there is somethign new." Those looking to try something new, he said, are "heading dangerously for new age religious movements where even the Christian can sometimes fall prey to choosing", a reason why "many of us are skipping from faith to faith, belief to belief, philosophy to philosophy" he said.

In a world of changing times, says Fr. Washington, the joint family system has given way to the nuclear family "to that extent, even vocations are suffering in the church". "We're going to something more dangerous", the Priest said pointing to the work of genetic engineering where parents in future will be able to "decide and choose" the baby they want. "The world", he said, "will offer us that" but "the Church will prevent us; and there's where the crisis of faith will come." "We'll be looking at people, not as people but as subject and objects" with those involved in this trying to "play the role of God."

Highlighting the dangers of changing work patterns, "the body time clock itself has been readjusted", the Priest said citing the example of the call centers and BPO work culture. This can result in very high stress levels affecting interpersonal relationships and resulting in "isolation and silence in the house".

When work patterns do not match Church timings, we try "to adjust the Church to the world" instead of adjusting our own lives in such a way as to make God "more important than anything else" the Priest said.

In order to keep the faith in today's world, it is necessary first of all to desire to keep it, Fr. Adolf stressed. "You can't keep the faith in today's work if you don't want to keep it" he explained. Those who "always play the blame game" and make excuses about their Priest keeping them in ignorance, cannot keep the faith in today's world. One can find a lot of information through "catholic websites, [the] vatican website, liturgical websites", through books, discussions and even with the help of "elderly catholics who are well-formed in the faith," he pointed out.

One must also be serious about his prayer life, Fr. Adolf said explaining that prayer ought to have the four elements of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication.

One also ought to love and accept the Church even with its frailties, Fr. Washington said, pointing out that the "easiest thing is to criticize is the church and the church leaders and the most difficult things to criticize in the face is the boss who gives you your salary."

Further, growing in the knowledge of Scriptures is indispensible to keeping the faith, he said.

Finally Fr. Adolf said, we must grow in the faith within the family without leaving everything to the Catechism teachers, the Priests and the Nuns. That, he said, would be like treating the "Church as a creche".

Among the dignitaries present on the occassion were Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore and Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), who was recently nominated by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI as a member of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Archbishop Moras later released the inaugural issue of the new Archdiocesan magazine, Tabor.

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