CONTENTS DON BOSCO'S MADONNA. The Virgin Mary heard with faith and lovingly bore him in her Immaculate womb... No. 9. Mumbai march 2012 vol.12 No. - PDF

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No. 9 DON BOSCO'S MADONNA Mumbai march 2012 vol.12 No. 11 CONTENTS From The Editor's Desk: Our Best Selves...3 Delayed But Not Forgotten - Fr. Erasto Fernandez. SSS...4 Walking With the Church: The Meaning
No. 9 DON BOSCO'S MADONNA Mumbai march 2012 vol.12 No. 11 CONTENTS From The Editor's Desk: Our Best Selves...3 Delayed But Not Forgotten - Fr. Erasto Fernandez. SSS...4 Walking With the Church: The Meaning of Lent...7 A Time of Rediscovery - Domenico Volpi...8 Augustus Arribat ( )...10 No Problem, Father! - Fr. Lionel Braganza...11 Witnesses In And For Our Times: St. John of God (March. 8) - Mario Scudu...12 Lectio Divina: On the Mountain (Mk 9:2-10) - Carlo Broccardo...17 Quietspaces: A Light More Intense Than the Sun - Pope Benedict XVI...18 The Unseen Guest - Fr. Ian Doulton's Collection...20 Historical Aspects of Don Bosco: Don Bosco's Seminary Life - Fr. Elias Diaz, SDB...24 Reflecting on Mary: No Maternity Ward for Mary - Valter Boero...28 NewsBits In a Cheerful Mood...15 Loving Children to their Loving Mother...32 The Devotion of the Three Hail Marys...33 They Are Grateful to Our Lady & Don Bosco...34 Thanks to Dear St. Dominic Savio The Virgin Mary heard with faith and lovingly bore him in her Immaculate womb... - from the Preface of the Annunciation Cover: The Annunciation Philippe de Champaigne Here at the Shrine there is always someone sitting in the confessional and if there isn t any service taking place then in the Shrine Office there is always someone ready to hear confessions. I am reminded of our good Fr. Joe Vaz sdb a revered apostle of the confessional. Even today we need three priests to take his place in the confessional every morning and evening! He would tell us youngsters just sit in the confessional someone might be tempted to come for confession. Several of us who minister in the Shrine can vouch for the veracity of that statement. However, leaving such reminiscences aside, I can honestly say that I have never found the experience of hearing confessions unduly tiring, even if they were long sessions prior to Easter or Christmas. The reason, I think, is not because I am blessed with great patience or with endless reserves of stamina, but because I simply never grow tired of listening to people who are open and sincere. When penitents come to meet Christ the Lord in the Sacrament of Reconciliation they may at first feel hesitant or even fearful. They may be weighed down by a burden of guilt or overcome by an oppressive sense of shame. They may encounter strong resistance to the truth and struggle at times to bring their failings into the light, especially those that relate to the more sensitive areas of affectivity or sexuality. But one thing is certain: they are never insincere. Some time ago I received eloquent confirmation of this as I listened to a preacher as he began his homily saying: In all the years when I was a student I used to think that in confession you would see people at their worst. But when I was ordained I soon realized that in confession you see people at their best. Afterwards, as I reflected on this miracle of grace I called to mind those telling words which Jesus spoke to his disciples: Happy the eyes that see what you see. For, like every other priest who celebrates the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I have the great privilege of ministering to my fellow sinners and I have the consolation of seeing them at their best. I see, for instance, the transformation that occurs when they follow the gentle inspiration of the Holy Spirit and entrust themselves to the boundless mercy of Christ. And, as the years pass, I understand better why there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance. Fr. Ian Doulton sdb OUR BEST SELVES 3 DELAYED BUT NOT FORGOTTEN My grandfather was the head of his village for nearly twenty years, so the story goes, until we moved to a different city. Nearly a month back, my grandfather was out for his usual evening walk to a nearby garden and failed to return home. Worried we searched frantically for him everywhere but in vain. Later in the morning, we got a call from a hospital from an unknown person who said that he had remembered my grandfather very well, at least by his peculiar childhood nickname. Arriving out of breath at the hospital we found that my grandfather had been hit by a vehicle and it was this person from 35 years ago who helped him reach the hospital. This modern Good Samaritan had stayed with him the whole night and paid for all his hospital bills (for the system there was that no one gets treatment unless bills are paid first). All this, and he only knew my grandfather with his childhood grandfather was not even able to recognize that person! While thanking him profusely we offered him the money he had paid towards the hospital bills, but he wouldn t accept any. He simply said: He was a good father to me when I needed him, today I was able to play the role of a good son to him. We were dumbfounded that a stranger could do such a kind act, but more so that my grandfather s kindness could have stayed vivid and alive Fr. Erasto Fernandez, sss 4 with someone for 35 years! CEL SERIES The Secret? Reading of an occurrence like this cannot but force us to ask, What is it that touches the hearts of people to such an extent that they will never forget a selfless act of kindness? Amidst the ocean of emotionally wounded and needy persons we find that it is only a selfless and limitless love that will make them feel truly loved and valued for what they are. Almost every person on earth receives a fair share of love, but most often what s/he does receive is only a limited, faltering, self-centred love, a love that is in fact a travesty of love and in reality a self-seeking love. This is not because people are intrinsically evil, but simply that the human heart cannot offer truly selfless love, when left to itself. Even when a person reaches out to another with genuine selflessness, his/her love cannot really satisfy the other or meet his/her needs completely! There will always be something missing, something not quite according to his/her taste, which leaves the recipient feeling unfulfilled and searching for more. The Solution? Left to our own resources, we would inevitably offer one another only an unsatisfying love as the remedy for the ills all around us. That is why God sent his only Son Jesus in human form so that he could show us the way to truly sacrifice ourselves for others, so that they may be healed and live a genuinely human and humane life. It is this selfless and limitless love that Jesus showed for us sinners when he accepted to die for our sake on the Cross at Calvary. And that too when we hardly appreciated his gift to us! As Paul reminds us, and hope does not disappoint us, because God s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For, while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us (Rom 5:5-8). Transformation Effected Now, when a person realizes that God loves me with such an extravagant love, he cannot but choose to respond in like measure because this unlimited love of God is of the kind that heals all the negative thoughts and feelings we harbour against ourselves. Because of Christ s concern for us and his readiness to pay the price of our return back to the Father, we feel good about ourselves - for we reason to ourselves, if I were totally useless, Jesus would not have died for me, or shed the very last drop of his blood for me, would he?! This experience is however, only the beginning of the change in our lives. We would still need to deepen it through repeated and regular reflection along the same lines. The more we reinforce the fact that basically I am good 5 though some of my actions are certainly not good, the more we will be open to lending ourselves as instruments to allow God s Spirit to reach out others through us. Further, the fact that God blesses others perhaps even more than we ourselves are blessed will not rankle or make us jealous because we are grateful for what we have received, knowing that every bit of it is sheer gift, totally undeserved and unmerited. That is also another reason why we are ever ready to share our blessings with others. In short, it is only unmerited, unlimited and selfless love that makes even a deeply scarred, emotionally wounded person to become whole and an asset to humanity. Eucharistic Thrust Where do we find this unlimited, unmerited love of Jesus for us shown more clearly than in the Eucharist? It is true that Jesus love for us shines more brightly at Calvary. But liturgically we contemplate this Calvary love only once a year for about a month of so during Lent. And that would not be sufficient to turn things around in our distorted lives. We need a daily dose, if possible, to keep us ever reminded of this truth. The reason for this is that it has been dinned into our heads so often that we are useless, sinful and so on, that this kind of negative thinking has become part and parcel of our very lives. Besides, once this mind-set has taken root, then every little negative experience reinforces the basic unhealthy message we get about ourselves. So, it is only through an equally strong, or better still, much stronger positive message that the negatives will be either totally removed or at least reduced to the point that they do not have too much of an influence in our lives. Further, at each Eucharist we are reminded of what Jesus did: he took the bread, said the blessing We too are called to bless God for all his goodness towards us. When we can do this sincerely and in some detail then we realize more clearly how much we have been favoured by God. Again, when we see others around us who are in some way deficient, we appreciate our own blessings much more. Besides, the very word Eucharist means thanksgiving and so we learn at each Eucharist how we ought to give praise and thanks to God, always and everywhere. Merely saying Thank-you to God is insufficient. The best thanks is given first of all, by making the maximum use of the gifts we have received and secondly by sharing these gifts with others. So, the more we use God s gifts for our benefit and also for that of others, the more grateful we show ourselves to be. And obviously, this approach enables us to be more open to receive all the further gifts God has in store for us. One further suggestion would 6 be in place. When it is a question of expressing gratitude for God s gifts to us, the best approach would be to do that as soon as is possible. This is not just because if not done immediately it is likely that we will forget, or that the intensity or fervor of our giving thanks would diminish, but also because the more promptly and genuinely we thank God, the more likely are we to receive even more blessings. Never Outdone in Generosity In his goodness, God wants to shower his blessings on us in abundance. It is always we who in some way place restrictions on God s goodness because we are unable to receive his good gifts with the right dispositions. In this matter, it is precisely our passing it on that makes all the difference. We soon learn the allimportant truth is that we see ourselves as channels more than as receptacles of God s graces. Besides, God cannot see us empty of all his blessings. No sooner does he see some space in our lives than he rushes to fill it up. However it would be worth remembering at the same time that if we did give only in order to receive more from the Lord, then probably we would receive nothing. The fact remains that God cannot be outdone in generosity and will always repay us a hundred times over all that we do for him. And isn t it Jesus himself who reminds us: Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren you do it to me? And so, when we lend our faculties, our energy, our talents, our time, in fact, our very selves, would he not bless us in marvelous ways so that we ourselves enjoy his life to the full while at the same News time becoming instruments to bring that life and love to so many others around us? The key then is to bring our self-centredness and place it together with the bread and wine on the altar for Jesus not only to transform into himself but also to make of ourselves bread broken for others! What a beautiful world would we not have if many more Christians could live in this way giving to others more than receiving themselves! When this begins to happen we will find ourselves living the Eucharist more than merely celebrating it which is the way things should be in our Christian lives! Through his marvelous death and resurrection Jesus has already conquered the world and all the evil in it. The challenge he places before us is to make that victory of his more clearly visible and palpable as we lend ourselves to be his living instruments in our world! Q. Many of my friends, even those who claim to be Christians, do not believe in Lent. They say that all that was abolished. Is that right? I would like to do the right thing but I would like to know has Lent the same importance that it used to have long ago? A. Thank you for your letter and your question of which the above is a brief resume. Lent has the same importance as it always had because it is a preparation for the Greatest Feast of the Christian year which is Easter. We need to prepare for Easter and we do so by prayer, fasting and almsgiving and a sincere effort to change our way of living to a way more pleasing to Christ who died for us all. This is what Lent is all about, time spent in preparation for our greatest feast. Christ fasted and prayed for forty days The Meaning of Lent From St. Martin's Messenger, Ireland 7 and we the followers of Christ imitate him by our prayer and fasting during the forty days of Lent. In the past the Lenten fast was very severe. However that strict discipline has been relaxed and Christians are now expected to keep the fast and abstinence only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. However all Christians are still encouraged to make a special effort at prayer and penance during this time. This may mean spending more than our customary time at prayer and making a sincere effort at curtailing our appetite for food and drink in imitation and in union with Christ who suffered and died for us. Lent has often been called a growing time of the spirit. May it be so for you and for all of us. A TIME OF REDISCOVERY by Domenico Volpi One day you, Lord, you will tell me about the hour of my death. And those words will mark the beginning or an end without end. Lord, may I die hearing your loving and merciful words let me not ignore them. Help me to welcome the present, with an understanding heart, whispering your last words on the Cross. (Karl Rahner) For the Church, Lent like Advent, is a powerful season, a season of waiting and preparing and therefore a time for sacrifice, repentance and purification. But in our hedonistic society of today these words seem to strike a rather discordant note. In the sixties I was a father with teenage children, and perhaps, recalling the privations of the war, I tried to cultivate in them a sense and perhaps a taste for little sacrifices to suitably test their willpower. I told them that the sacrifices they made when necessary would not have to be imposed on them. They were only a kind of training. Forty years have passed, and psychologists are warning us not give our children complexes with all our prohibitions. Some educators and sociologists even preach sexual freedom and other fancy modern theories, exalting rebellion and disobedience while our consumer society encourages the instant gratification of all our desires. Sin and the concept of sin have nearly disappeared because all we need to sanitize ourselves is the latest deodorant or detergent. So, is it fair to ask: how do we speak today about sacrifice and 8 how do we practice it? Lent lasts for forty days - as many days as Jesus spent in the desert before he took on his mission of salvation. It is a sacred number in the Bible: the Deluge lasted for forty days, Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai in the presence of the Lord, besides it was the temporal distance between the Resurrection and the Ascension. It was for forty years that the Jews remained in the desert before they entered the Promised Land. It was the duration of the reign of Solomon. In fact, the number forty appears innumerable times in the Bible. In the past, when times were tough and people were pious and fervent, the Church imposed strict rules about some things: penances, even harsh ones like fasting and austerity on monks in order to subdue the instincts of brother ass i.e. the body; and sobriety on the bourgeois who were supposed to abstain from meat and forego hunting as a sport reserved for the nobility. This saved them from gout and other ailments. Fishermen abstained from fishing allowing the replenishment of marine life and farmers in this season promoted the fertility of farm animals. They were also forbidden from any forms of public entertainment; that was why people wore purple, characteristic of the season of Lent. It was a symbol of bad luck in places like theatres and arenas. Today we are pampered, with just two days of fasting and abstinence (which are official) we are allowed all the culinary delights we crave. How can we live like this in Lent and be spiritually alert at home with our families, helping us and our children to be aware of this season of grace? There could be moderation in what we eat, both as regards our choices (holding back on certain things) for example, fried and fast foods, buying only seasonal produce and giving the children only what is nutritious though sometimes it is unwelcome both in quality and quantity. But there are things we can fast and abstain from that are both modern and necessary. Fasting from the noise, the noise of everyday life like the turned-on TV and headphones at full volume, frivolous talk, gossip, verbal bullying that sometimes hurts more than physical assault in order to find silence in meditation and prayer. To abstain from TV: fix a day in the week when you won t switch it on just so that you may rediscover the joys of reading a good book or be able to have a heart-to-heart talk with your own child, teenage or spouse rather than looking at the TV screen all the time. You will rediscover the liberating feeling of a text-free existence which allows you to discover that it is actually not necessary. These disciplines are 9 The Chapel of St. Francis of Assisi in Arezzo not easy to obtain, but they serve to make us aware of what we have all become slaves to, leading us to a continuous hype and craving for gratification of one kind or another. There is yet another problem: the media and secular society often present Christianity as the religion of renunciation, but - if properly understood - is a religion that offers us proposals for living a wholesome life. Lent, therefore, must not be celebrated as a time of deprivation but rather as a gesture of love and a time of rediscovery, of yearning for personal growth and enrichment. Modern man and even modern children live everyday besides themselves distracted by so many voices and blinded by so many bright lights. Here is an opportunity to retrieve yourself and replenish empty selves. SALESIAN SAINT OF THE MONTH AUGUSTUS ARRIBAT Joseph Augustus Arribat was born on December 17, 1879 at Trédou in the canton of Aveyron (France), to the family of farmers, poor materially but rich in Christian values. The family s poverty forced the young Augustus to start school only at the age of 18 at the Salesian Oratory in Marseilles. Augustus asked to enter the novitiate and become a Salesian. In 1902, the radical Combes expelled from France and so the novitiate moved to Avigliana in Piedmont.
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