Monday, April 30, 2007

KUNDAPUR: Movie on Blessed Joseph Vaz Released

TALLUR: Movie on Blessed Joseph Vaz Released

Photos of the Release of a Konkani movie on Blessed Joseph Vaz at Tallur, Kundapur
(For More Photos, Click on the Picture)

KUNDAPUR April 30, 2007 ( "Porzollik Noketr", a movie on the life of the Blessed Joseph Vaz released and screened at Tallur, near here, last evening.

The 75-minute movie, produced and directed by Vinod Fernandes, Gangolli, is based on the biography of Blessed Joseph Vaz, "Through Storm and Tempest" written by Fr. Michael Mascarenhas SDB, the provincial-economer of Goa province of Salesians.

Speaking on the occasion, Fr. Michael pointed out how a large number of Catholics in Goa and Mangalore were still unaware of the life of the Blessed Joseph Vaz.

"There are saints among you," was his message to the audience who had gathered for the premiere screening of the movie at the St. Francis of Assisi Church parish hall in Tallur.

Born as the third of six children to Konkani speaking Christian parents Christopher Vaz and Maria de Miranda at Benaulim in Goa, the Priest Joseph Vaz is well-known for his life of Sanctity. He was beatified by the Holy Father Pope John Paul II on 21 January 1995 in Sri Lanka where much of Fr. Vaz's missionary labours were concentrated.

Fr. Benjamin D'Souza, the parish priest of Tallur, said he was totally convinced of the sanctity and greatness of Blessed Joseph Vaz whose life he had studied and meditated over a period of two and half years.

Vinod Fernandes, referred to Blessed Joseph Vaz as "our own Konkani brother" as he thanked everyone who supported him in this venture.

Also present on the occasion were the Vicar Forane of Kundapur, V. Rev. Anthony Lobo, the Principal and Rector of Don Bosco Tech, Fr. Kinley D'cruz, SDB, and the Vice President of Tallur Church, Mr. Benedict Mendonca.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

INTERVIEW: Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith On Sacramentum Caritatis

UCAN Interview - Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith On Eucharist Exhortation

By Gerard O'Connell, Special Correspondent in Rome

April 25, 2007

VATICAN CITY (UCAN) -- Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has spoken with UCA News about the recent apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist and its significance for the Church in Asia.

The Vatican released the document, Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Charity), on March 13. That text, whose English version has more than 25,000 words and more than 250 footnotes, confirms the validity of the liturgical renewal prompted by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and endorses recommendations made by the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist in October 2005.

Archbishop Ranjith became one of the first appointments of Pope Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia when the pontiff assigned the Sri Lankan prelate to his present post on Dec. 10, 2005. In this position, he is particularly well placed to comment on the exhortation and its relevance for the Church in Asia.

Archbishop Ranjith, 59, studied in Colombo and Kandy before going to the Pontifical Urban University in Rome where he gained a degree in theology. After Pope Paul VI ordained him a priest in St. Peter's Basilica on June 29, 1975, he pursued higher studies and gained a licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and a special certificate in Biblical studies from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He performed various pastoral and academic duties in Colombo until Pope John Paul II in 1991 appointed him auxiliary bishop of that archdiocese. In 1995, Pope John Paul named him bishop of Ratnapura. From 1995 to 2001, he served as secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka and chairman of the National Commission for Justice, Peace and Human Development.

In the latter role, he became deeply involved in searching for a solution to Sri Lanka's civil conflict. The government appointed him an emissary on peace negotiations with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka.

Pope John Paul II brought him to Rome on Oct. 1, 2001, as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and appointed him on April 29, 2004, as apostolic nuncio to Indonesia and East Timor.

The following is the interview UCA News conducted with Archbishop Ranjith in early April. When he later reviewed the text, the archbishop supplied detailed notations for documents that he had cited in the interview:

UCA NEWS: How has the liturgical renewal initiated by Vatican Council II been carried out in Asia? What are its positive achievements and negative results?

ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: Generally, there have been many changes in the way liturgy was celebrated in Asia since the Council. Some of us who were brought up in childhood under the liturgical orientations of pre-conciliar times know what these new changes were and how they affected our life as Catholics.

As your question indicates, there has been a mixed bag of results. Among the positive changes, I see the use of vernacular languages in the Liturgy, which helped to lead the faithful to better understand the Word of God, the rubrics of the Liturgy itself, and a more responsive and shared participation in the celebration of the sacred mysteries.

Adaptations to local cultural practices have also been tried, though not always with good results. The use of the vernacular has at times helped in generating a theological vocabulary in the local idiom that eventually could be helpful to evangelization and the presentation of the message of the Gospel to those of non-Christian religious traditions, which constitute the overwhelming majority of the people of Asia.

Some negative aspects have been the quasi total abandonment of the Latin language, tradition and chant; a far too facile interpretation of what could be absorbed from local cultures into the Liturgy; a sense of misunderstanding of the true nature, content and meaning of the Roman rite and its norms and rubrics, which led to an attitude of free experimentation; a certain anti-Roman "feeling," and an uncritical acceptance of all kinds of "novelties" resulting from a secularizing and humanistic theological and liturgical mindset overtaking the West.

These novelties were often introduced, perhaps unknowingly, by some foreign missionaries who brought them from their own mother countries or by locals who had been to those countries on visits or for studies and had let themselves be uncritically absorbed into a kind of "free spirit" that some circles had created around the Council.

The abandonment of the spheres of the Sacred, the Mystical and the Spiritual, and their replacement by a kind of empiricist horizontalism was most harmful to the spirit of what truly constituted Liturgy.

How is the new exhortation on the Eucharist relevant for the Church in Asia?

Seen as a whole, the document is for me something that re-echoes in the true sense of the word the reform of the Liturgy as it was understood and desired by the Council. I mean not a rejection of positive developments of liturgical reform in force today but the expression of the need to be truly faithful to what was meant by Sacrosantum Concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Second Vatican Council, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on Dec. 4, 1963).

One could, in a certain sense, state that documents such as Ecclesia de Eucharistia ("The Church [draws her life] from the Eucharist," encyclical "On the Eucharist in its Relationship to the Church," Pope John Paul II, April 17, 2003), Liturgiam Authenticam ("Authentic Liturgy", instruction "On the Use of Vernacular Languages in the Publication of the Books of the Roman Liturgy," Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, May 7, 2001), and Redemptionis Sacramentum ("Sacrament of Redemption," instruction "On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist," Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, April 23, 2004) already started the needed adjustments reflective of the indications of the Council.

Sacramentum Caritatis crowns it all with a truly profound, mystical and yet so very easily understandable catechesis on the Eucharist that brings out best the fuller meaning of this most Holy Sacrament. Pope Benedict wants us to understand, celebrate and live the fullness of the Eucharist.

I feel that in the context of Asia such a call should naturally be appreciated, valued and lived. The basic orientations of Sacramentum Caritatis do reflect Asian values like the love of silence and contemplation, acceptance of a deeper life beyond that which is tangible, respect of the sacred and the mystical, and the search for happiness in a life of sanctity and renouncement.

The stress laid on these aspects makes Sacramentum Caritatis a valuable and important contribution towards making the Catholics in our continent live the Eucharist in a truly Asian way.

Which aspects of the document are most important for Asia's bishops, priests and Catholic faithful?

From a general point of view, the call to consider the Holy Eucharist as an invitation to become Christ himself, drawn and absorbed unto him in a profound communion of love, thus making His own glorious splendor shine out in us, is truly in line with the search for spiritual mysticism in the Asian continent.

As I mentioned, Asia is deeply mystical and conscious of the value of the Sacred in human life, moving a human being to look for the deeper mysteries of religion and spirituality. The tendency to banalise the celebration of the Eucharist through a somewhat horizontal orientation, often visible in modern times. is not consonant with that search. Hence, the general orientation of the document is good for Asia.

Going into details, I would say that its seriousness, the tendency to always accent the deeply spiritual and transcendental nature of the Eucharist, its Christo-centric outlook, faithful adherence to rubrics and norms [nos.39-40], interest in sobriety [no. 40], proper and dignified sense of celebration, use of appropriate art and architecture, chant and music, and avoidance of improvisation and disorder are all reflective of the Asian way of worship and spirituality. People in Asia are a worshipping people, with worship forms that are centuries old and not inventions of any single individual.

Adherence to rubrics in the other religious traditions in Asia is strict. Besides, their rubrics are profoundly reflective of the special role of the Sacred. Thus, the seriousness recommended by the Supreme Pontiff is very much in consonance with Asian ways of worship.

Following the Second Vatican Council, there has been much talk, including among Asian bishops, of the need for inculturation of the liturgy. How has this developed in the Asian Churches? What remains to be done, or is it an open process without a concluding date?

As the Pope himself states in Sacramentum Caritatis, the principle of inculturation "must be upheld in accordance with the real needs of the Church as she lives and celebrates the one mystery of Christ in a variety of cultural situations" [Sacr. Carit. 54]. We know that it is a need emerging from both the call to evangelization or the incarnation of the Gospel message in various cultures, and the requirement of a real and conscious participation of the faithful in what they celebrate.

Yet, already Sacrosanctum Concilium indicated clear parameters within which the adaptations of the liturgy to local cultural patterns are to be carried out. It spoke of admitting into the Liturgy elements that "harmonize with its true and authentic spirit" [SC 37], ensuring the "substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved" [SC 38], provided such is decided by the competent ecclesiastical authority, meaning the Holy See and, where legally allowed, the bishops [cf 22: 1-2]. It also called for prudence, in the choice of adaptations to be introduced into the Liturgy [SC 40: 1], the need to submit such to the Apostolic See for its consent, if needed, a period of limited experimentation [SC 40: 2] before final approval and consultation of experts in the matter [SC 40: 3].

Sacramentum Caritatis follows the same line, that adaptations of Liturgy to local cultural traditions be handled according to the stipulations of the various directives of the Church and in keeping with a proper sense of balance "between the criteria and directives already issued and new adaptations" [no. 54], and these too "always in accord with the Apostolic See" [ibid. 54]. In short, inculturation through adaptations, yes, but always within clear parameters that ensure nobility and orthodoxy.

As for what has been carried out up to now, one cannot be altogether satisfied. Some positive developments are visible, like the large scale use of vernacular languages in liturgy, making the sacraments better understood and to that extent better participated, and the use of art, music and Asian gestures at worship. But a lot of arbitrariness and inconsistency can also be noted, arbitrariness through the permitting of all kinds of experiments and officialisation of such practices without proper study or critical evaluation.

I once was listening to a radio talk given by a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka who ridiculed Christians for allowing local drum beating in their churches without knowing that those beats in fact were chants of praise for the Buddha. This could be just one instance of unstudied absorption of local traditions that are per se incompatible with what we celebrate.

By inconsistency I mean practices we introduce as adaptations but per se are incompatible with our culture, like just a bow instead of genuflection or prostration before the Holy Eucharist, or communion in the hand received standing, which is far below levels of consideration given to the Sacred in Asia. In some countries, instead of introducing liturgical vestments or utensils reflective of local values, their use has been reduced to a minimum, or even abandoned. I was at times shocked to see priests and even bishops celebrating or concelebrating without the proper liturgical attire. This is not inculturation but de-culturation, if such a word exists.

Inculturation means deciding on liturgical attire that is dignified and full of respect for the Sacred realities celebrated, not abandoning them. I feel that the Episcopal Commissions on Liturgy in Asia at continental, regional or national levels should, with the help of experts, study these issues carefully and seek ways and means to enhance the meaning, dignity and sacredness of the divine mysteries celebrated through solid adaptations that are critically selected and proposed to the Holy See for due approval.

A closer spirit of cooperation with the Holy See in this matter would be needed. There is too much drifting in the matter and even an attitude of "who cares?" that leaves everything to free interpretation and the creativity of single persons. Besides, I wonder if there is a sufficient awareness of what the Council itself mentioned on the matter and the guidelines given in Varietates Legitimae ("Legitimate Differences," instruction, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Jan. 25, 1994) and no. 22 of Ecclesia in Asia ("Church in Asia," apostolic exhortation on the Church in Asia, Pope John Paul II, November 6, 1999).

In No. 54 of Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict advocates "continued inculturation of the Eucharist" and calls for "adaptations appropriate to different contexts and cultures." What does this mean in Asia?

Asia is generally considered to be the continent of contemplation, mysticism and a deep seated spiritual outlook on life. These orientations may have resulted from or even led to the origins of most world religions in this continent. Any attempts at inculturation of the Liturgy or of Christian life cannot bypass these profoundly mystical orientations typical of Asia.

As Christians, we ought to show that Christianity is Asian in origin and it has an even profounder sense of mysticism within it that it can and wishes to share with others. It would be a pity if we strive to project our faith as an appendix of a secular and globalizing culture that endorses secular values and seeks to represent these in Asia. Unfortunately, sometimes in our way of doing things, we do project such an image. This makes us "foreigners" in our own continent.

Take, for example, the large scale abandonment of the cassock or religious garb by many priests and religious in Asia, even missionaries. They hardly understood that in Asian culture, persons dedicated to God or religion are always visible in his or her own garb, like the Buddhist monk or the Hindu sannyasi (holy man). This shows we do not understand what inculturation truly means. Often enough, it is limited to a dance or two during the Holy Mass or sprinkling of flowers, the arathi (closing prayer song) or beating a drum.

In mind and heart, however, we follow secular ways and values. If we are truly Asian, we should focus more attention on the mysticism of Jesus, His message of salvation, the great value of prayer, contemplation, detachment, simplicity of life, devoutness and reflection and the value of silence, and forms of liturgical celebration that focus great attention on the Sacred and the Transcendent. We Asians cannot be secularists who do not see anything beyond the visible and the tangible.

So too in Liturgy, instead of concentrating on just a few exterior gestures of cosmetic value, we should focus on the accentuation of the mystical and the spiritual riches conveyed to us, and highlight these more and more even in our dress and behavior. The Universal Church would gain from a Church in Asia that becomes a tangible expression of Christian mysticism in an Asian way.

Regarding inculturation, Pope Benedict encourages episcopal conferences to "strive to maintain a proper balance between criteria and directives already issued and new adaptations, always in accord with the Apostolic See." Are bishops' conferences in Asia working along these lines?

Generally, I notice a lot of goodwill on the part of the Episcopal Conferences in this matter. However, there are problems too. As I mentioned, it may be better to have a clear spirit of coordination between the FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences) and our Congregation in this matter. The FABC does have regional coordinating bodies for human development, evangelization, inculturation, ecumenism and dialogue, education, social communication, etc., but I am not aware of such a body for liturgy and worship. Establishing such a regional body would certainly help.

Liturgy is important, for "lex orandi, lex credendi" (the law of prayer is the law of belief). It would then be able to animate and provide quality, meaning and proper awareness to the national Episcopal Commissions for Liturgy on this all important component of ecclesial life. A lot of work still needs to be done in order to achieve better results.

The "proper balance" about which the Holy Father speaks is due to the need to ensure, on one side, a healthy spirit of openness to inculturation in the liturgy, and, on the other, the need to safeguard the universal character of Catholic liturgy, a treasure handed down to the Church by its bi-millennial tradition.

Can you give a concrete example of what "maintaining a proper balance between criteria and directives and new adaptations" means?

By "proper balance," the Holy Father means, on one side, faithfulness to the Universal and Catholic Tradition of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, enshrined in the Roman rite itself, and, on the other, the space provided in Sacrosanctum Concilium and Varietates Legitimae for adaptations. As No. 21 of Sacrosanctum Concilium indicates, there are "unchangeable elements divinely instituted" and "elements subject to change" in the Liturgy. Only the latter may be changed, and even that is to be done on the basis of norms that the Council itself laid out in the third chapter of the same document.

In the case of the Eucharist, it is the same approach. The Eucharist is not what the Church made but what has been the Lord's own gift to us, a treasure to be guarded. Hence, even though exigencies of Evangelization and of the Inculturation of the Gospel message in various situations demands a certain amount of diversity, this is not to be left to the whims and fancies of the individual celebrant. The areas open to diversity are limited and pertain to language, music and singing, gestures and postures, art and processions [SC 39]. In these areas, adaptation is possible and should be undertaken after proper study, due approval of the bishops and then the consent of the Apostolic See [SC: Ch. III].

Thus, the sense of balance between safeguarding the essentials and seeking to integrate local cultural elements is very much needed if the Church is to profit spiritually. At the same time, I would hold more essential not only adaptations of that type but the noble and dignified celebration of every liturgical act, making it reflect the mysticism of the East. It would be more helpful than just a series of external adaptations, even those introduced following established procedures.

Besides, the love of silence, a contemplative atmosphere, chant and singing reflective of the divine mystery celebrated on the altar, sober and decorous attire, and art and architecture reflective of the nobility of the Sacred places and objects, are all Asian values often reflected in places of worship of other religions and more expressive of a truly Asian outlook on Liturgy.

In no. 87 of the exhortation, the pope expresses concern about "grave difficulties" facing Christian communities "where Christians are a minority or where they are denied religious freedom" and where "simply going to Church represents a heroic witness that can result in marginalization or violence." Is he referring to Christian communities in Asia?

The Holy Father is expressing his appreciation and encouragement of the heroic witness of some Christians for whom the practice of faith brings with it hardship, persecution and suffering. When we talk of such difficult situations, it does refer directly to places where there is explicit obstruction and persecution of the Christian communities. Such harassment is motivated at times by political factors, at other times by religious factors.

Some countries seek to impose or establish state sponsored "churches" to control the Catholic community that way. This latter type of attitude seeks to cut off the hierarchical bonds between these churches and the one of Peter in order to weaken them from within. Such attempts are not so successful, as the spiritual bonds, which cannot be broken that way, continue to link each ecclesial community to the Universal Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.

For me, however, another type of situation is more prevalent. It is generally common in Asia where, due to the predominance of one or the other world religion, there are restrictions and controls indirectly placed on the Catholic Church. In such situations, there exists an even worse form of undeclared harassment of Catholics. Missionaries are disallowed, it is difficult to construct ecclesial buildings as no permission for such is granted, public manifestations of faith are controlled, restrictions are placed on Catholic education, laws against conversion are put into force or proposed, and all kinds of discriminating acts are perpetrated. In short, in such situations one needs true heroism to profess and practice one's faith.

I would not name these countries as such, for obvious reasons, but the world knows who they are. Given this situation, the call of the Supreme Pontiff, "for greater religious freedom in every nation so that Christians, as well as followers of other religions, can freely express their convictions, both as individuals and as communities" [Sacr. Cari. 87] is timely indeed.

In no. 62 of the exhortatios, the pope suggests that celebration of Mass in Latin and use of Gregorian chant could be done on some occasions and in parts of the liturgy. What do you think Catholics in Asia feel about this? Have you detected a desire for the Mass in Latin among Catholics in Asia?

Sacrosanctum Concilium never advocated total abandonment of Latin or of Gregorian chant. It stated that "the use of the Latin language, except when a particular law prescribed otherwise, is to be preserved in the Latin rites... But since the use of the vernacular ... may frequently be of great advantage to the people a wider use may be made of it especially in readings, directives and in some prayers and chants" [SC 36: 1-2]. Besides, it wished that "a suitable place may be allotted to the vernacular in Masses which are celebrated with the people, especially in the readings and 'the common prayer', and also as local conditions may warrant, in those parts which pertain to the people" [SC 54].

In the same passage, the Council wished that care be taken to "ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them" [ibid.].

The point is that the vernacular is not the normal language of the Liturgy for Sacrosanctum Concilium but Latin, with permission being granted for the vernacular to be used in specific areas such as the readings, some prayers and chants and parts that pertain to the people. What is remarkable is that it advocates the use of Latin even in "those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them" [SC 54].

Unfortunately, a quasi total abandonment of Latin took place almost everywhere soon after the Council, so only the older generation of Catholics in Asia has an idea of the use of Latin in the liturgy and of Gregorian chant. With a strong vernacularisation of the Liturgy and of seminary formation, the use of Latin did almost completely disappear from most of Asia.

This is rather unfortunate. I am not sure if there is a marked yearning for a return of Latin in the Liturgy in Asia. I hope it would be so. Some Catholics who are aware of the beauty of Latin do express such a desire. They have seen or come to experience Liturgies celebrated in Latin in Rome or elsewhere and are fascinated by it. Others are fascinated by the old Latin rite, the Pius V Mass now being celebrated in some places of Asia.

But the larger portion of Asian Catholics is still unaware of the value of Latin in the Holy Mass. I wonder what they would say if some form of Latin is reintroduced. They might like it and, knowing the spirit of devotion that Asian Catholics carry within themselves, it would certainly help deepen their faith even further. Our people know that not all divine realities are within the reach of human understanding and that there should be room for some sense of spiritual mystery in worship.

Besides, it would be good for the Church in Asia not to remain cut off from new trends emerging universally, one of which is a fresh appreciation of the Church's bi-millennial Latin heritage. This is not to say we ought to abandon the vernacular and embrace Latin in toto. A sound and sober use of Latin as well as the vernacular, on the lines of Sacrosanctum Concilium, would be a gain for all. Besides, in Asia some other religions have preserved an official "liturgical" language, like Sanskrit for Hinduism and Pali for Buddhism. These are not spoken languages but are used only in worship. Are they not teaching us a lesson that a "liturgical language" which is not in common use can better express an inner mysticism of the "Sacred" in worship?

The Pope wants "future priests" to learn Latin in seminaries, so as to read Latin texts and sing Gregorian chant. How do you think young Asians studying for the priesthood regard that call? Will Asia's seminaries welcome it?

There is no question of a welcoming. I think it is a need, and rather than falling into a well of isolationist narrow mindedness or a purely empiricist approach to faith that, by the way, is not Asian and does not leave room for an understanding of that which is transcendent, our priests and seminarians should be encouraged to open out to the wider reality of their faith, which is Catholic and Universal, its bi-millennial roots and development and its mystical and sacred dimensions. And since Latin has been at the very root of much of the developments in Theology, Liturgy, and ecclesial discipline all along, seminarians and priests should be encouraged to learn and use it.

This would help the Church in Asia not only to grasp better the content of the depositum fidei (deposit of faith) and its development, but also discover a theological language of its own, capable of presenting the faith to the peoples of Asia convincingly [cfr. Ecclesia in Asia 20]. Learning Latin is in no way a going backward but, on the contrary, going forward. Only thus could a truly profound process of inculturation take place. Any so-called theology not rooted in the fonts of Sacred Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church, prayed on one's knees and illumined by the light of a holy life is but empty noise-making and would lead only to disorder and confusion.

The same is true of Liturgy. Latin is the ordinary liturgical language of the Church. In the origin and development of the Roman rite, it had a major role to play. Thus, a sufficient knowledge of this language would facilitate a better understanding and appreciation of the beauty of what is celebrated. As the Holy Father stated, "the beauty of the liturgy is part of this mystery; it is a sublime expression of God's glory and, in a certain sense, a glimpse of heaven on earth" [Sacr. Carit. 35].

Celebrating in Latin thus would help build a sense of awe and respect as well as a profound spiritual link with what the Lord himself inspired the Church to assume as its form of worship. This openness to Latin would also help the students appreciate better the role of Gregorian chant in the Church. The Holy Father wishes that it "be suitably esteemed and employed" as it is the "chant proper to the Roman liturgy" [Sacr. Carit. 42]. Learning the simplicity and beauty of this great body of chant would also help musically talented priests and seminarians in Asia to be inspired by it and be able to compose dignified and prayerful chant forms that can harmonize better with the local culture. It would be presumptuous to assume that using Gregorian chant would harm inculturation of the liturgy. It could actually be beneficial.

Is there anything else you wish to tell Churches in Asia about the exhortation and how they should implement it?

A careful look at Sacramentum Caritatis convinces me more and more that it is not only a treasure trove of information, inspiration and a truly pastoral yet deeply theological reflection on the Eucharist but, more so, a document that seeks to bring to completion that which was truly desired by the Second Vatican Council and its document on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. The post-conciliar reform of the Liturgy, though laudable in some aspects, had not been all that faithful to the spirit of the Council.

As Cardinal Ferdinando Antonelli, a member of the Commission that worked on the reform then, attested: "I am not happy about the spirit. There is a spirit of criticism and impatience towards the Holy See which would not augur well. And then, everything is a study on the rationality of the liturgy and no concern for true piety. I am afraid that one day one would say of all this reform what was said about the reform of the hymns at the time of Urban VIII: accepit liturgia recessit pietas (as liturgy progresses, piety goes backward); and here accepit liturgia recessit devotio (as liturgy progresses, devotion goes backward). I hope I am wrong" [from the diaries of Cardinal Antonelli, April 30, 1965].

We have seen a lot of banalisation and obscuring of the mystical and sacred aspects of the Liturgy in many areas of the Church in the name of a so-called "Konzilsgeist" (Council spirit).

In the last 20 years or so, the Church has sought to set the course of liturgical reform straight and in line with the indications of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Documents such as Liturgiam Authenticam, Varietates legitimae, Redemptionis Sacramentum and Ecclesia de Eucharistia are part of that attempt, and Sacramentum Caritatis, which is a collegial document in that it collects the propositions of the Bishops' Synod on the Holy Eucharist, is the culminating moment, I would say, of that course of "setting things right." It truly is a correction of course and should be welcomed, appreciated, studied and put into practice.

The cultural heritage of Asia is deeply religious and conscious of the value of the Sacred and Mystical in human life. So the Church in Asia should welcome this document and its orientations, which are directed very much towards a restoration of the profound values of spirituality and faith into Liturgy most wholeheartedly and take necessary steps to implement its indications as zealously and as faithfully as possible.

This is my wish for the Church in Asia, the continent of mysticism.
Reproduced by Konkani Catholics with permission from UCAN (

Monday, April 23, 2007

VIDEO: Bishop-elect Derek Fernandes, Karwar

Bishop-elect Derek Fernandes, Karwar

Video Clip of the Entrance Procession

This is a video clip of the Bishop-elect Derek Fernandes in the entrance procession of the Mass of his episcopal consecration as Bishop of Karwar on April 20, 2007.

KARWAR: Bishop, a Herald of the Faith: Nuncio

PHOTOS: Episcopal Ordination of Most Rev. Derek Fernandes

Sunday, April 22, 2007

KARWAR: Bishop, a Herald of the Faith: Nuncio

KARWAR: Bishop Primarily a Herald of the Faith: Nuncio Reminds

KARWAR, January 22, 2007 ( "[A] Bishop is, primarily, a herald of the Faith, who has to lead new disciples to Christ," the Apostolic Nuncio in India, Pedro Lopez Quintana reminded.

He was delivering the homily at the episcopal ordination of Msgr. Derek Fernandes at Karwar, 20th April, 2007.

"As an authentic teacher, one of your principal responsibilities" he told the Bishop-elect quoting from Pope John Paul II's Pastores Gregis, "is to proclaim the Gospel; with the courage imparted by the Spirit, (you) are to call people to faith and strengthen them in living faith."

Being endowed with this authority of Jesus and as "living witness of Divine and Catholic truth," the Nuncio said, "you are, therefore, expected first to know the truth and practice that into your life."

The Apostolic Nuncio, His Excellency Pedro Lopez Quintana, the representative of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI in India and Nepal, resides at Delhi, the capital city of India. It was the first time that he was visiting the Diocese of Karwar erected by Pope Paul VI's decree "Christi Missum" dated January 24, 1976.

Drawing from the rich symbolism of river used by prophet Ezekiel in the day's first reading, the Nuncio explained, "a priest, like that river, is God's chosen one to canalize the flow of God's grace and blessings towards those he serves. How much more can we say this about a Bishop, who has received the fullness of priesthood, anointed as God's elected leader of His people, endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit."

In explaining the rite of Consecration that was to follow his homily, the Apostolic Nuncio explained to all gathered that "new Bishop will make an Oath of Fidelity and [a] solemn promise before God and the assembled people of God, 'to maintain the deposit of faith, entire and incorrupt, as handed down by the Apostles and professed by the Church everywhere and at all times', and also 'to be faithful in obedience to the successor of the Apostle Peter'."

Dwelling strongly on the service aspect of leadership, he said, "There is, thus, every possibility that one who undertakes these task, if [he] meets with success, might forget his roots, which is God's calling. Such forgetfulness," the Nuncio explained, "could result in pride, and the pride obscures the vision of one's calling."

In saying this Archbishop Quintana was explaining the second reading of the day where Peter in his first letter exhorted the elders to be a caring shepherd without lording over the group in their charge, a temptation to which, "leaders of the Church, as shown in history, have time and again fallen prey to."

Sharply contrasting the power of the Bishop from secular powers, the Nuncio pointed out that "his governance will be pastorally effective only if it rests on a moral authority bestowed by a life of holiness. This is what will dispose the hearts of the people to accept his authority and the rules he would be laying down for the good of the People of God."

In order to live and excercise his authority as a participation in the mission of Christ, "the Bishop must return again and again to the image of the washing of the feet and that of the Good Shepherd to understand the unique form of authority that he is endowed with," the Archbishop said.

"Counting on a special divine grace, and the consolation born of the Gospel", the Nuncio told the Bishop-elect, "you must fill your heart with compassion, prompting you to draw near to the pain of every suffering man and woman and to soothe their wounds, ever confident that every lost sheep will be found."

The Pope's representative then exhorted the faithful people of Karwar "to accept your new Bishop with open heart", to "pray for him" and to "be his collaborators according to your specific vocation" in order "to help accomplish the Church's mission, which is an eternal salvation of all peoples."

PHOTOS: Episcopal Ordination of Most Rev. Derek Fernandes

Saturday, April 21, 2007

PHOTOS: Bishop Derek Fernandes, Karwar - Episcopal Ordination

Most Rev. Derek Fernandes, Bishop of Karwar

Photos of the Episcopal Ordination

Photos of the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Derek Fernandes, Karwar - April 20, 2007
(Click on the picture to see entire album)

For More photos, Visit the Konkani Catholics Photo Gallery

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Divine Mercy Devotion Grows Rapidly

INDIA: Divine Mercy Devotion Grows Rapidly

April 18, 2007

NEW DELHI (UCAN) -- Catholic groups in India conducted special programs on April 15, feast of the Divine Mercy, a devotion which is spreading in the country.

The devotion began to gain popularity in the 1930s. It is based on the diary Sister Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) kept at her spiritual director's urging. The young Polish nun described visions in which Christ instructed her to tell people to turn to God.

In the visions recorded in the diary, Christ reminds people that God is merciful and forgiving, and that they too must show mercy and forgiveness toward others. He also asks that the Sunday after Easter be dedicated to the Divine Mercy. Pope John Paul II instituted this feast day for the universal Church on April 30, 2000, the day he canonized Saint Faustina.

The devotion calls people to a greater understanding of the boundless love God offers to everyone, especially the greatest sinners. It includes special prayers using ordinary rosary beads. Devotees also invoke God's mercy to heal sickness and overcome problems.

In Hyderabad, southern India, more than 2,000 people celebrated the feast day this year at a Divine Mercy center. His Mercy Endures Forever was the theme of the daylong program that comprised talks on God's mercy, Mass and a healing service.

Divine Word Father James Christuraj, who directs the center, told UCA News the devotion "makes you seek repentance for all, for the whole world."

Opened in 1999 as a venue for intercessory prayers, the center follows Saint Faustina's instructions on how to conduct the devotion and has produced two compact discs to popularize it.

Several parishes in Bombay archdiocese in western India organized Divine Mercy novenas and rosary prayers. The novena prayers, held over nine days, began at 3 p.m., the time traditionally ascribed to Jesus' death on the cross.

Speaking with UCA News on April 16, Auxiliary Bishop Bosco Penha of Bombay confirmed the devotion as spreading rapidly in the archdiocese, which covers Mumbai. The city, India's most populous, formerly was called Bombay.

Archdiocesan spokesperson Father Tony Charanghat said the archdiocese's Holy Name Cathedral conducted a novena from Good Friday leading to the feast. "Other parishes had also been asked to hold the novena," he told UCA News.

When Cardinal Ivan Dias was archbishop of Bombay, he "strongly advocated" praying the Divine Mercy novena, Bishop Penha said. In May, Cardinal Dias was appointed prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

His successor, Archbishop Oswald Gracias of Bombay, urged all parishes through a circular to make people aware, through the liturgy and Mass homilies, of Divine Mercy Sunday and veneration of the Divine Mercy image. The image shows Jesus with rays of light emanating from his heart. "But there was no compulsion," Bishop Penha added.

Claire Fernandes, a Catholic woman, finds the devotion "important to the family, as it is a prayer of mercy for sins that we have committed and will commit in future."

Norma Fernandes, another laywoman, said she has prayed the novena for the past 15 years. "It gives me immense peace and hope for our redemption," she said, adding that the prayers make one acknowledge the "power of forgiveness."

Two other laypeople, Rodney D'Souza and Jyothi D'Sa, see the devotion as related to Lent.

D'Souza further considers the novena to be "one of the few prayers" asking for mercy for Christians as well as people who are not Christians.

D'Sa, a student, said the novena leading to Divine Mercy Sunday "helps us continue through the week of Easter blessings in prayer." It also "keeps students away from other distractions as the afternoons are occupied in prayer."

Parishes in Mangalore diocese, southern India, observed the feast. The Diocesan Communication Centre broadcast on local television channels a documentary on the Divine Mercy. During the program, Bishop Aloysius Paul D'Souza of Mangalore delivered a message on the devotion.

Reproduced by Konkani Catholics with permission from UCAN (

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

VIDEO: Seven Priests Ordained in Mangalore

MANGALORE: Seven Deacons Ordained Priests

Video Courtesy:

Names of the Newly Ordained Priests:

1. Fr. Melwyn Lobo (S/o Francis and Carmine Lobo, Mogarnad)
2. Fr. Maxim D'Souza (S/o Jerome and Irene D'Souza, Narampadi)
3. Fr. Santosh Menezes (S/o Anna Maria and late Anthony Menezes, Gurpur)
4. Fr. Rockey Fernandes (S/o Felix and Ellu Fernandes, Fermai)
5. Fr. Lancy Saldanha (S/o Marcel and Cosses Saldanha, Beltangady)
6. Fr. Maxim D'Souza (S/o Lily and Michael Mascarenhas, Miyar)
7. Fr. Michael Mascarenhas (S/o Albert and Alice Masrenhas, Nellikar)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

ABU DHABI: Konkani Retreat by Cynthia & Stephen Lobo - April 2007

2 Day Konkani Retreat at St. Joseph's Church Hall, Abu Dhabi

By Cynthia and Stephen Lobo from Renewal Retreat Centre, Bangalore

There will be a two day Konkani retreat in Abu Dhabi, UAE by Cynthia & Stephen Lobo and team from Renewal Retreat Centre (RRC), Bangalore. The details for the retreat are as follows:

Dates: 24-25 April 2007 (Tuesday and Wednesday)
Venue: St.Joseph's Church Main Hall
Timings:7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m

Posted by Rupert Vaz

Monday, April 16, 2007

MANGALORE: Ordination of Seven Deacons - April 17, 2007

MANGALORE: Seven Deacons to be Ordained at at Cathedral

Seven deacons will receive the Holy Orders at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral on April 17, 2007.

The Bishop of Mangalore, Most Rev. Dr. Aloysius Paul D'Souza will confer the Sacrament at the Ordination Mass at 3pm.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

GOA: "Thank God It's Tuesday" - Gospel Music Extravaganza

Faith Works! a Catholic Lay Ministry
(producers of Good Morning Lord & Argam Tuka Somia)


"Thank God It's Tuesday"

a Gospel Musical Extravaganza

on the

17th April 2007

at the

Kala Academy, Panjim



The program will open with a prayer by Fr. Joaquim Loiola Pereira, Director - Diocesan Centre for Social Communication Media along with a couple of songs written, composed and sung by him. Then the first Gospel Band – All 4 Jesus from Panjim will perform followed by God’s Love in Harmony from Porvorim along with India's greatest Saxophonist Braz Gonsalves.

After a short break, Vigil Lights - Mumbai's leading 12-piece Gospel Band studded with renowned musicians will lead the audience into song, praise & worship.

Entrance is free. So walk in with only love in your hearts.

Posted by Boromor Dias

Saturday, April 14, 2007

QATAR: HSI Discipleship Program - April 2007

DOHA-QATAR: Discipleship Program by Holy Spirit Interactive (HSI)

The Discipleship Programme in Doha-Qatar led by Aneel Aranha of Holy Spirit Interactive (HSI) will be on 17th, 18th, and 21st from 8.00 to 9.30pm at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Doha.

The Discipleship Program is aimed at bringing people closer to God and to one another by becoming true disciples of Christ. The first module is titled, "My Identity in Christ" and the program will run through important aspects of the Christian life like repentance, sin, temptation, love, forgiveness, surrender and faith.

For More Information, please contact: 0974-5320660 (Simon), 0974- 5848010 (Luciano), 0974-5350183 (Sunita)

Posted by Sunitha Mascarenhas

Friday, April 13, 2007

ABU DHABI: Retreat by Cynthia & Stephen Lobo

3 Day English Retreat at St. Joseph's Church Hall, Abu Dhabi

By Cynthia and Stephen Lobo from Renewal Retreat Centre, Bangalore

There will be a three day English retreat in Abu Dhabi, UAE by Cynthia & Stephen Lobo and team from Renewal Retreat Centre (RRC), Bangalore. The details for the retreat are as follows:

Dates: 20-22 April 2007 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday)
Venue: St.Joseph's Church Main Hall
Timings: 20 April - 11:00 AM to 08:00 PM
21-22 April - 07:30 PM to 09:30 PM

Please Note: Transport has been arranged from DUBAI to ABU DHABI, please contact Bro. Elvis (Mobile:+971-50-5642652)

Posted by Charan Savio Colaco

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bishop Albert D'Souza Now Agra Archbishop

INDIA: Bishop Albert D'Souza Installed As Archbishop Of Agra

New Delhi, April 11, 2007 (CBCI News):

Former Bishop of Lucknow Albert D’Souza was solemnly installed as the Xth Archbishop of Agra Archdiocese today at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

The See of Agra was vacant due to the transfer of Archbishop Oswald Gracias to Mumbai as the Metropolitan of Bombay.

During the solemn ceremony, the appointment letter from the Holy Father was read by Archdiocesan Chancellor Fr Ignatius Miranda and the Hindi translation was presented by the Archdiocesan Administrator Bishop elect Msgr Raphy Manjally.

Then the new Archbishop publicly made the profession of faith by reciting the Apostles' Creed.

Thereafter, Apostolic Nuncio in India Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana and Archbishop Gracias led Archbishop D’Souza to the Metropolitan seat, the ‘Cathedra’.

In his homily, Nuncio said, “the ministry of Archbishop Albert D'Souza is a gift of God to the Archdiocese of Agra and he was greatly delighted to install him as the Xth Archbishop of Agra which has been the mother diocese to a number of dioceses of North India.”

"Every diocesan Bishop has to uphold the Apostolic Catholic Faith and be a source of unity in the local church. While the Bishop has his responsibilities towards the community, all the Catholic faithful, have the bounden duty to actively work along with the local Bishop, to build up the church" said the Nuncio.

Eighteen Archbishops, Bishops and a large number of priests, religious and the Catholic faithful participated in the Holy Eucharist.

Later, a public reception was accorded to the new Archbishop in the local St Peter's College Hall.

Archbishop Albert D'Souza born at Moodubelle in Mangalore on August 4th, 1945, got his primary and secondary education at St. Lawrence High School, Moodubelle, and later graduated (B.A.) from Kumaon University, Nainital.

Brought up in a very devout family, he joined St. Paul’s Minor Seminary at Dilkusha, Lucknow in 1965, with his intent to become a priest for the Diocese of Lucknow. He did his Philosophical and Theological studies in St Joseph’s Regional Seminary, Allahabad and was ordained priest on December 8th, 1974.

After a stint of pastoral ministry, first as an assistant Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Church, Bazpur (1975-77) and then as Parish Priest of St. Jude’s Church, Mohanlalganj (1977-78), he was appointed Professor and spiritual director of St. Paul’s Minor Seminary, Dilkusha, Lucknow from 1978-84.

Equipped with a one-year diploma course in formation spirituality at the National Vocation Service Centre, Pune, Archbishop Albert was enthusiastic and zealous in guiding retreats particularly for youth whose faith formation was his real passion, in view of fostering local vocations.

He was the pioneer of the month-long life orientation programme for the youth of Uttar Pradesh region, which is being organized every summer till date.

In 1984 he obtained Doctorate in Spiritual Theology from the Pontifical University Angelicum, Rome. After returning to his diocese, he served at St. Paul’s Seminary, Dilkusha, for a year and subsequently sent to St. Joseph’s Regional Seminary at Allahabad as Professor of Theology and spiritual director (1989-92).

Pope John Paul II elected him as Bishop of Lucknow on November 26th, 1992, and after his Episcopal Ordination on February 7th, 1993, he was installed as the fourth Bishop of Lucknow, which he served for 14 years.

Agra Archdiocese consists of the following districts in Uttar Pradesh: Agra, Aligarh, Auraiya, Budaun, Bulandshahr, Etah, Etawah, Farrukabad, Fathegarh, Firozabad, Gautambudha Nagar, Hathras, Kannauj, Mainpuri, Mathura and in Rajasthan, Bharatpur and Dholpur.

By a decree of the Sacred Congregation, dated May 17th, 1784, the Vicariate - Apostolic of the Great Moghul was constituted.

The prefecture Apostolic of Tibet-Hindustan was in 1820, constituted into the Vicariate Apostolic of Agra, with Msgr Maria Zenobio Benucci, ofm cap. as its first Vicar Apostolic, who was succeeded by Msgrs Anthony Pezzoni and Anthony Borghi.

The imposing Cathedral of Agra is a symbol and monument of the untiring zeal of the Capuchins for the extension of the faith and the progress of the Catholic Church in India.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MANGALORE: Divine Mercy Documentary Telecast - April 2007

Divine Mercy Documentary to be Telecast on Local Channels

Will Include Message from Dr. Aloysius Paul D'Souza, Bishop of Mangalore

MANGALORE: A documentary on the Divine Mercy will be telecast on local channels in Mangalore on April 15, 2007 which is the Divine Mercy Sunday.

The Feast of Divine Mercy is celebrated in the Church on the Sunday following Easter in accordance with a private revelation granted to Polish Nun, St. Faustina.

According to information released by the Diocesan Communications Centre, the details for the documentary telecast are as follows:

CC India

Time: 7pm - 8pm
Date: 15 April 2007


Time: 8pm - 9pm
Date: 15 April 2007

His Lordship, Bishop Aloysius Paul D'Souza will be giving a message on the feast of Divine Mercy during the telecast.

Use the email link below to email this story to your friends

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Resurrection Song in Jebel Ali, UAE - April 12, 2007

Resurrection Song in Jebel Ali, UAE on April 12, 2007

HSI's Outreach Ministry in the UAE presents a musical play celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord on Thursday, April 12 at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Jebel Ali, UAE. Directed by Pravina Rodrigues, the play titled Resurection Song is a powerful mix of music, dance and drama.

In addition, there will be music performances from the HSI Music Ministry and local communities. If you want more details on how you could support this program or be involved with future events please email us at

Resurrection Song
April 12, 2007
St. Francis of Assisi Church Hall
Jebel Ali, UAE
7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.


Posted by Aneel Aranha

Monday, April 09, 2007

BANGALORE: Who Am I - Youth Retreat


One-Day Catholic Youth Retreat at Bangalore

One Day Catholic Youth Retreat at Bangalore on April 22nd, 2007

Programme Information

Date: 22 April 2007
Time: 9 am to 6pm
Place: Jyothi Seva Sister's HALL (near Syndicate Bank), Venkatesh Puram, Bangalore.
Organized by: St. Antony's Parish, Kavalbyrasandra

No Registration Fee. Lunch and tea will be provided.

For more information call: 9886156095, 9900541450

Sunday, April 08, 2007

VIDEO: Mangalore Bishop's Easter Message - 2007

Most. Rev. Dr. Aloysius Paul D'Souza, Bishop of Mangalore

Easter Message - 2007

Video Courtesy:

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Goa Archbishop's Easter Message - 2007

Most Rev. Filipe Neri Ferrao, Archbishop of Goa and Daman

Easter Message - 2007

On the occasion of yet another Feast of Easter, I am pleased to convey my cordial and warm greetings to the Christian community and to all people of goodwill in the State of Goa. Christ died on Good Friday and the hearts of those who loved him became, all of a sudden, very heavy. The thought of his lifeless body in the tomb filled them with a great sense of emptiness. But on Easter Sunday his tomb was found to be empty . and the empty hearts were filled. Christ rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples, filling them with a new strength and a new light. This was an entirely new beginning to a people who saw nothing but the end of all their hopes. Easter indeed celebrates the triumph of Christ over death, which is the victory of God's Love over human hatred and of Truth over deceit, signalling the emergence of a new life, of a new society, indeed of a new world order. We are called to take up the challenge of Easter and actively engage ourselves in the building of a new society wherein the most valuable and cherished human values will be upheld, nurtured and lived forth. May all of us, regardless of creed or race, join together in the building of such a society, where peace, mutual respect and frank collaboration will be the hallmarks.

+ Filipe Neri Ferrão
Archbishop of Goa and Daman

Archbishop's House, Panjim, April 7, 2007