News Letter – February, 2012
Ash Wednesday: Let Us Enter Into Lent
“… Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season, a season that ends at the start of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the evening on Holy Thursday. During this penitential season, we are reminded to give of ourselves and unite with the suffering Christ. We meditate on the pain our Lord endured for our sake, on the manner in which "they took Jesus" and made him carry the "cross himself" to a place called Golgatha, where "they crucified him." (cf. Jn 19:17-18).
We too follow our Savior: we go up to the Place of the Skull; we watch as those nails we helped to supply are driven into his hands and feet; we stand at the foot of the Cross, as did Jesus´ Mother (cf. Jn 19:25). We look upon our Lord; we see his pain; we notice the wood soaked in His blood; we cry. We kneel and await that moment when a sword will pierce Christ’s side that his saving blood and water will flow over us.
The word Lent is from the Anglo-Saxon "lencten" (spring). Historically, Lent was a final preparation period for catechumens who were being initiated into the Catholic Church, and who would soon experience full communion with the Church God willed should exist as they were brought into the Paschal mystery at the Easter Vigil.
In time, Lent became a renewal period for the already baptized faithful as they witnessed the fervent conversion of the catechumens. Today, Lent is a forty-day period in which the whole Catholic Church enters into a time of penance, preparation, and spiritual renewal.
During Lent, (we) Catholics prepare for the resurrection of our Master, Teacher, King and Savior which we will celebrate on Easter. Around the world, in parishes large and small, millions of Catholics will participate at Ash Wednesday Mass, where they will listen to the word of God, receive the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and, after being told to "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel", will be signed on the forehead with ashes in the shape of a cross.
The placing of ashes on the head has as its origin the penitential practices of the Hebrew people who also wore sackcloth as a means of expressing repentance (Jonas 3:5-9; Jer 6:26; 25:34). While at first the ritual of ashes was not directly connected with the beginning of Lent, as early as the fourth century it was adopted into the disciplinary practice of temporarily excluding public sinners from the community who were guilty of grave public sins in order to foster their repentance and return.
By the seventh century the custom of ashes had expanded into an Ash Wednesday liturgical ritual in many churches. Traditions similar to those in today’s parishes were observed throughout the Church by the eleventh century.
Ash Wednesday marks a profound moment of decision and invitation to change for Catholics. "By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert" (CCC No. 540). We are united to Christ as we engage in our spiritual journey of penance, a road we travel not by ourselves but along with Christ as we follow him into the quiet, dry and tranquil desert.
We too travel among the sand and emptiness and through prayer and fasting, we can be drawn more closely to the Way, the Truth, and the Life (cf. Jn 14:6), the One for whom we thirst. It is in the desert that, when the life-giving Rain falls from the heavens, fresh colours blossom forth and flowers of all kinds flourish within the soul.
A temptation that often presents itself is one which labours to convince us that fasting, penance, and self-denial are merely unimportant and antiquated practices of past. We think we are no longer in need of these things, for we are "enlightened". We begin to tell ourselves we are loved "just as we are", and that further repentance, conversion and spiritual growth are unnecessary. These types of ideas, of course, come from the same Tempter which attacked Christ in the desert (cf. Mt. 4).
The call to holiness is an integral part of the Baptismal vocation. Conversion is a process which invites our continued response and cooperation with grace. Our Lenten observance is a part of our response to that call. The penitential practices of this Holy season include fasting, almsgiving and prayer.
Jacques Douillet, in his book titled "What Is A Saint?" writes: "There is no holiness without mastery of the body. There is no holiness if the way of the Cross be avoided. That cross is not there simply once, on the day of baptism; it is always there, a fixture, so that the faithful man or woman, the fidelis, goes on crucifying nature with all its passions and impulses."
Fasting and abstinence were venerable traditions among the Jews, and such practices were familiar to Jesus Christ and his apostles. Jesus was "led by the Spirit into the desert" and "fasted for forty days and forty nights" ... (Mt. 4:2). We should note that it was the Spirit who led Christ into the desert to pray and fast: thus we too should be attentive to the prompting of the Spirit during Lent. And, in Matt. 6:16, the Lord reminds us of the importance of fasting, telling us that our Father will repay us for our sacrifices.
In Acts 13:2, we find that the apostles engaged in self-denial: "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting" the Holy Spirit spoke to them. Moreover, Paul and Barnabas appointed presbyters for the disciples in "each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith" (Acts 14:23).
When we read the writings of the saints we find they regularly fasted and engaged in acts of mortification and self-denial. By voluntary penance they sought to gain mastery over disordered passions. In this way, St. Thomas More’s hair shirt trained him for the martyrdom that would one day be offered him. Fasting is also a sign that we love God above all else. As we meet our Love of loves in self-denial, we empty ourselves to be filled with Him.
Our compassionate God often supports us with special graces in our voluntary mortification. St. Simeon cultivated a profound love for God when, during Lent, he chose to fast from all food and drink for forty days, a practice he began in his youth and continued the rest of his life. And St. Antony, after selling all his belongings and giving himself over to an ascetic life with Christ, experienced severe temptations. What was his solution? He sometimes fasted from all food for days on end, and often slept on the bare ground.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days which require both fasting and abstinence. Other Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence only. Note that every Friday throughout the year is a penitential day (cf. Can. 1250). On fast days, Catholics are careful to take only one full meal each day, with no food taken between meals.
On days of abstinence, Catholics take no meat (fish is allowed) or meat by-products. Those who have completed their fourteenth year (the day after one’s fourteenth birthday) are obliged to abstain; while those who have completed their eighteenth year are obliged to both fast and abstain when required.
Those who have attained the beginning of their sixtieth year are no longer required to fast (Can. 1252). The substantial observance of the laws of fasting and abstinence is a grave obligation. The Christian faithful are also to devote themselves in a special way to prayer, and perform works of piety and charity (cf. Can. 1249).
Those who sincerely desire to cultivate their closeness to the Beloved take acts of penance seriously. Lent is particularly appropriate for these spiritual exercises. As we engage in self-denial, the body is trained, the will is strengthened, and spiritual hunger is increased.
"The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works)" (CCC No. 1438).
Let us, this Lent, prepare by fasting and self-denial so that we may open ourselves to "the spiritual understanding of the economy of salvation as the Church’s liturgy reveals it" (cf. CCC No. 1095). Let us go into the quiet desert with Christ that we may better recognize his mission of salvation; that we may understand more fully what it really means to be Christian; that we may live in the light of faith, truly see, and understand what we are to do.
"From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly... and be killed and on the third day be raised" (Mt. 16:21). During Lent we too must go the way of sacrifice, carrying our cross toward the Place of the Skull where, with trusting love and obedience, we kneel along with our Blessed Mother before Christ crucified. And, like the holy Virgin, may we open our hearts in complete submission to God’s loving will of unfathomable Light.
In that moment before the Cross, tears rain down; yet they soon give way to joy, for the resurrection of our Lord is at hand.”
(This article is taken from, F. K. Bartels, http://www.catholic.org/clife/lent/story.php?id=35446&page=2)
News From the Diocese
As part of the celebration of olden Jubilee of the Diocese, Most Rev. Felix Toppo, SJ made his pastoral visit to St. John Mary Vianney Parish, Dhowatand, on 08th January, 2012 and spend half a day with the parishioners. The day began with the Holy Eucharist. During the Holy Mass eleven youth received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Along with Fr. Vijay Bhatt, the parish Priest, Frs. Bipin Pani and Jilson T.L. too were present for the celebrations. The mahila sngh of the parish welcomed the celebrants. The lively signing and the entrance dance by the school children made the liturgy a memorable one.
The closing ceremony of the Golden Jubilee year of Little Flower School, Telco, took place in a grand way. On 12th January, 2012 the students of the school displayed a spectacular show of their skills. His Eminence Telesphore P. Cardinal Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, was the chief Guest. Most Rev. Felix Toppo, SJ, Mr. Mrs. S.B. Borwankar, Sr. Vice President, Tata Motors, Ltd. and Mr. Mrs. P.K. Chobe, Plant Head Tata Motors Ltd were the Guests of Honour. On the occasion Cardinal gave a thought provoking message and he later officially closed the Golden Jubilee Celebrations. Next day, on 13th January, the Staff and students of LFS along with well-wishers and friends of the School gathered at the LFS Auditorium for a Solemn Thanks Giving Holy Eucharist. The concelebrated Holy Eucharist was presided over by His Eminence Telesphore P. Cardinal Toppo with Most Rev. Felix Toppo, SJ and many Priests too were present for the same. After the Holy Mass the invited guests joined for a delicious meal.
St. Joseph’s, Golmuri
Most Rev. Felix Toppo, SJ made the Diocesan Golden Jubilee Pastoral visit to St. Joseph’s Cathedral Parish, Golmuri, on 15th January, 2012 and spend half a day with the parishioners. The day began with the Holy Eucharist. In his homily he invited the faithful to listen to God’s calling and to lead a life according to the call. He also spoke about the necessity of creating the atmosphere which helps a person to listen to the voice of God in the Families. After the Holy Mass Bishop had meeting with the parish council and other pious unions of the parish and discussed about the life of the parish and about the special activities Parish on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Diocese.
Cathedral Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Camille Hembrom, is busy with pastoral activities such as Baptism, Marriage etc…He says he had to bless more than 15 marriages in the month of January. Rev. Henry Sequiera has come back to the parish after his routine check-up and some treatments. He looks healthy and hearty! As director of the St. Joseph’s Welfare Centre he announces that the following courses will start in a short time at the centre. The courses are: Mobile Repairing, Computer Networking & Hardware and Water Treatment. Those who are interest please contact the SJWC office. (Bro. Jacob, DDS)
On 19th and 20th January, number of Priests gathered at Vikas Bharati, Sundernagar, for spiritual renewal. Rev. Fr. K.M. Joseph, SJ, animated the sessions. It was a time to look back to the past life and history of the Diocese in order to gather direction and strength to move forward. The participants benefited from the session.
On 25th January, St. Paul’s Parish, Maluka, celebrated the Parish day. Parishniors from far away villages had come in large numbers. Most Rev. Felix Toppo, SJ was the main celebrant of the concelebrated Holy Eucharist. During this about 40 students received First Holy Communion and Sacrament of Confirmation. Later Bishop blessed new Hostel Building and Staff Quarters.
On the Previous day St. Paul’s School celebrated its annual day. Most Rev. Felix Toppo, SJ was the chief gust of the programme. The students had staged a colourful cultural programme. Good number of Priests, Religious, parents and well-wishers were present for the programme. We congratulate the Parish Priest, Headmistress and students for organising wonderfully all these programmes.
St. Xavier’s, Chaibasa
St. Xavier’s Parish, Chaibasa had many activities and programmes in the month of January. It all began with the welcoming of Rev. Samir Kujur, CSsR, to the Parish for Diaconate Ministry, on Sunday, 01st January, 2012.
The Chaibasa Deanery Youth Gathering was organised on 14th and 15th January. The programme began with a recollection and confession. This was followed by an input session and cultural programme. Rev. Frs. Ranjit,SJ & Sanjay Kujur, CSsR and Srs. Saleth, SCN, Nirmala, DSA & Lalita, DSA took active part to organise the programme. Rev. Fr. Leo John D’Souza, Diocesan Youth Director, too was present for the programme.
After the Deanery Youth Gathering the Parish Youth had gone for a picnic. The parish youth and the youth coordinator not only enjoyed the picnic but took time to plan and draw out a detailed list of programmes and activities that are to take place in the year 2012.
The second death anniversary of Fr. John Deeney was celebrated on 18th January, 2012. Most Rev. Felix Toppo, SJ was the main celebrant. He blessed the newly built grave of Fr. Deeney and celebrated the Holy Eucharist. Rev. Fr. Mike T. Raj, (father Provincial) along with other priests too were present for the programme. The newly composed Ho Hymns added beauty to the well prepared liturgy. (Fr. Edwin Coelho)
News From Divya Bharati
In the absence of Parish Priest Fr. Walter Crasta, I had the chance to help out in St. Theresa’s Parish, Jhinkpani, in the month of January. The village tours gave me an idea of the vast and remote areas covered by our earlier Pastors who worked in the Parish and also the progress made by the Christian Community. We had “Kolom Utandi” Masses (Thanksgiving Mass after the Threshing of crop) in every unit of the Parish.
From the 23rd till the 25th we had a Laity Training Programme in which 26 people participated. This time we also had two Ho Catechists from Lavanyadeipur (Sarat Parish),Balasore Diocese. The presence of these two and also the Catechists from Tundi who taught various new songs to the participants, enriched our Seminar. On the 25th the whole contingent went to Maluka for an outing cum learning experience by participating in the Feast of St. Paul. (George Anthony, SJ)
From JDV Pune, Fr. Raju Felix Crasta writes:
Greetings…. With new vigour and joy JDV reopened on 4th of January, 2012, after the Christmas-New Year vacation. However, the attack of Chicken Pox weakened the joy in PG block. Two of our friends rushed back to home for treatment and better care. The rest of the members of the PG block took Ayurvedic Precautionary medicines. On 7th January, JDV as a family celebrated the requiem mass for the repose of Fr. Paul, SSP, the superior of Pauline community who passed away on 22nd of December, 2011 and Br. Christuraj of (B.Th. student) of the Congregation of Missions who passed away on 30th of December, 2011 in Tamilnadu. The Chotanagpur Adivasi Association had their annual picnic in our campus on 8th, while the Campus Hindi Association had it on 22nd of January in the traditional Adivasi style. I had a rare opportunity to attend a doctoral defence of Fr. Robert Dabre of Vasai Diocese at JDV on 11th of January. The theme of the PhD thesis was based on the Mission of Prophet Elijah. Dr. Rui De Menezes S.J was the doctoral guide. After a week, there were two more pre-doctoral defences from two other priests from different houses. Republic Day was celebrated with a solemn Eucharist, presided over by Rev. Edward Mudavassery, SJ. Soon after the Mass was over, the National Tricolour was unfurled by Rev. Gratian Carlo S.J. Both were on their official visit to JDV.
At Loyola as usual the Pre-Mock was conducted and students took it seriously and performed up to the mark. The third Unit test also was conducted smoothly. Then the students and teachers put their heads and hands together to prepare for the annual programme. This time it was special because the Christmas and Parents’ Night was combined to make it different. The preparations and performances were satisfying and the parents turned up in good numbers. On that day, along with the cultural programme we felicitated the teachers and honoured the toppers [ICSE & ISC] of 2010 and 2011. On the following day [22/12/11] the Christmas gathering for the staff was arranged. Each one greeted and exchanged gifts with his / her Christmas friend. All went home with a broad smile on the face.
The happiness faded into anxiety and the whole Loyola campus turned gloomy as the news reached here about the accident, on 23rd December, at the late morning hours. We believe that it is God’s blessings that help and care was not delayed. And now we feel good that at least our Principal is in the same campus with us. Whenever we need him, he is there. We are praying for his quick recovery and request you all to keep him in your prayers. Thank you. (Rita Sen)
Fr. Edward Saldhana is recovering from his injuries which were caused by the accident that took place on 23rd December, 2011. At present he is resting at Kumardhubi, under the constant care of the doctors. We wish him a speedy recovery and request you too continue to keep him in your valuable prayers.
Fr. Carl Dincher, SJ, is admitted in AMRI Hospital, Kolkata, and is responding positively to the treatments. Fathers from Jamshedpur had rushed to Kolkata as his health grew verse. However he is still in ICU. He had gone to Kolkata to preach a retreat to the MC Sisters. Over there he suddenly fell sick and was admitted in the Hospital. We request you to pray for him in a very special way.
Mr. Paul (age 74), Brother of Rev. Fr. C.L. George, SJ, has suffered a heart attack and passed away on 30th January, 2012. Fr. George has left for Kerala to attend the funeral. We express our heartfelt sympathy to Fr. George and all his family members who are bereaved by the lose of Mr. Paul. May Mr. Paul rest in peace!