Solemnity Of The Ascension 24th May 2009

1 We began the Solemn Novena to the Holy Spirit on Friday 22nd May. The Novena will be prayed at all masses. Please get a copy of the novena booklet from the book table and the parish office to be used throughout the year. We urge all to come for the Eucharist during this novena.

2. Mass this evening in Hindi at 4 p.m.

3. Tuition classes are being held for students from Std 1 to Std 4 on a school days. Those wishing to join these classes are requested to leave their names in the parish office.

4. We are celebrating the GOLDEN JUBILEE of our parish next Sunday - Solemnity of Pentecost Our remote preparation was the Parish Mission and ôThe Witnessö. Our immediate preparation will be the Triduum on the 27th, 28th, 29th May During the evening mass at 7 p.m. there will be a homily of 15 minutes. 27th May: Fruit of the Holy Spirit 28th May: In the unity of the Holy Sprit 29th May: The gifts of the Holy Spirit Confessions on these three days 6 pm.-7 p.m. Vigil Service on May 30th from 8 p.m. ľ 9 p.m in the Church. Bishop Boaco Penha will celebrate the Jubilee Mass at 9.30 a.m. There will be no mass at 10.30 a.m. The evening mass next Sunday will be at 6 p.m.(Repeat) A Religious Concert to commemorate our Parish Golden Jubilee will be presented in the Church from 7p.m. ľ 9 p.m. on 31st May. 500 seats and an outdoor screen will also be provided in the quadrangle to accommodate all.

THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS -´┐Ż´┐Ż Collated and adapted by Fr. Osie D'Souza C.SsR. from: 'Eucharist Step by Step'-Fr.Erasto Fernandez.'The Splendid Eucharist'-Fr. Raymond Moloney.'The Eucharist Our Precious Heritage- Sister Eeuken. 'Mass on the altar of the world'-Fr. J.B. Fernandes.'How the Eucharist can transform your life'-Fr.Theodore Dobson.'Bread broken and shared'-Fr. Paul Bernier. Articles by Fr.Gervin van Leeuwen, Fr. Francis Pimnta,S.J., Fr. Peter DSouza, C.Ss.R.,Fr.Fio Mascarenha S.J. R.




Sacrifice Of The Cross We say the Mass is the Sacrifice of the Cross celebrated on the altar The word ´┐Żsacrifice´┐Ż comes from two Latin words: ´┐Żsacrum´┐Ż which means sacred and ´┐Żfacere´┐Ż which means to make. So Jesus on the Cross made himself sacred or consecrated himself as a gift of love to His Father. Rather than think of Jesus as paying for the sins of man in suffering on Calvary, we should think of God in Jesus breathing love into a hate-filled world.

In the beginning God breathed His life, His love into man and into the world. On Calvary the same God was breathing into the same man, the same Love ´┐Ż His life, while man was breathing against Him Satan´┐Żs hate. On Calvary, God was making a gift of Himself to man in a situation of hate. That was the sacrifice of Jesus. Every self-giving is a sacrifice. Only when such self-giving takes place in a situation of hate rejection or resistance, it is accompanied by pain, even agony. That is what happened to Jesus. Hence every celebration of the Eucharist is God´┐Żs self-gift, a Sacrifice, an offer of the Love and friendship by God ´┐Ż Father, Son and Holy Spirit to you and to me.Does it not make of the mass an experience of the personal love of the Trinity? It is this beauteous, tremendous thought which makes one who experiences it say: ´┐ŻIf this is the mass I do not want to miss it´┐Ż.


What is a celebration? A festive manifestation of gratitude and joy over blessings received. It is generally always done in community and never alone. Most celebrations include eating and drinking And other expressions of joy like singing and dancing. The key to a good celebration though is the : Reason for the celebration that is generally shared by all the participants. The reason for any celebration is something good that has happened to me/us, a blessing we have received, a danger averted, a success achieved. The more personal and unusual the blessing the more the joy in celebrating. E.g., India´┐Żs Independence as a nation.
The love ( see Roms. 5/5-8) that moved God to send His Son Jesus to die in place of me is beyond my imagination. E.g., Maximillian Kolbe. Also see Galatians 2/20. The more we reflect on God´┐Żs goodness to us seen at every step of our lives the easier it is for us to celebrate the Eucharist. ´┐ŻAn unreflected life is not worth living´┐Ż. When the reason is conscious and personal the joy of the celebration is very great. When it is shared so as to become common to all the celebration welds us into a community.
Our reasons for the Eucharist: What do we celebrate in the Eucharist? God´┐Żs undeserved and unasked for gift of love ´┐Ż in human form, Jesus. Forgiveness, freely and repeatedly given. No remembrance of past offences. The dying-rising of Jesus and His total victory over all evil. The gift of the Church ´┐Żguidance, community support and encouragement´┐Ż See Preface and Eucharistic Prayer itself.
Other blessings daily received, all summed up in Ephes. 1/3-10, 1Jn. 3/1-3, Roms. 8/31. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Texts of Scripture tell us of the different ways God has shown us His love. Before starting the reading ask: ´┐ŻWhich qualities of God are revealed to me in this reading?´┐Ż When we focus on God´┐Żs qualities 1st and only later on what the passage asks us to do we find that the message of Sacred Scripture is very inspiring and nourishing. The Scriptural stories are really the story of our own lives; not so much history, but the mystery of God´┐Żs love for me here and now.
We further notice that celebrating the Eucharist in this way helps us to have a very positive self-image. Even while we are deeply conscious of our own failings we realise that God loves us just as much as before. So accepted and loved by God, we learn to love and accept others in the same way. So, let us develop the habit of recalling our personal reasons for celebrating before starting each Eucharist. The more the awareness, the more the rejoicing. Further, let us train ourselves to genuinely rejoice over the good others do. So, during the day we would find reasons to rejoice as we experience God´┐Żs presence and power all round us.
How do we celebrate? The key attitudes we bring to the celebration are: 1 Joy - We have a song in our hearts´┐Ż Jesus is risen and is with us. Whole hearted response in song and prayer. 2 Unconditional acceptance of others celebrating with us´┐Żwe offer real forgiveness. 3 Openness to share our blessings with others and to receive from them too. 4 To recall the celebration during the day expressing our experience of the Eucharist through a mantra often repeated.
Who Celebrates? Luke Ch. 15 tells us that it is the Father who celebrates and invites us to join in the celebration. So we have no right to be gloomy when we come for mass. Rather, our presence should be an encouragement for others to join in the celebration as well. But what about our sins and failings? As long as we are sincerely repentant they are no block to our rejoicing. God loves us all the more in our weakness and invites us to come to the one source of healing, His unconditional love. For this to be an experience for us we need unconditional acceptance from a family member, relation or friend. Only then will we have a deep conviction that our inborn weaknesses don´┐Żt make any difference at all to God´┐Żs generous love for us. Then, in turn we should offer unconditional love to others.
Joy of the Kingdom: Jesus was full of joy and it belongs to the messianic age. Mary was invited to rejoice. At Jesus´┐Ż birth the angels rejoiced. So did the shepherds and the Magi. All the parables of the kingdom stress the fact of joy that people experience when they discover the kingdom in their midst. At the last Supper joy is mentioned so often. The early Christians partook of food with glad hearts. St. Paul tells the Philippians: ´┐ŻRejoice in the Lord always´┐Ż´┐Ż his is the Good News we Christians have to offer to the world. He world is waiting for it.

From Call To Commission Fr Erasto Fernandez, sss A renewed understanding and practice of the Holy Mass would be to prepare ourselves by being present for the Eucharist a few minutes ahead of time, every time and end a procession of late comers
Not until very recently did I myself realise that there is a profound connection between call and commission; much less did I notice that this is precisely what Mark presents in his Gospel as he portrays Jesus entering into his pastoral ministry. He succinctly states in Ch 3: ´┐ŻHe went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message and to have authority to cast out demons.´┐Ż (13-17).
It is not customary to see this pattern reflected also in each Eucharist. At the start of the Eucharist the Risen Lord present in the Church calls Christians to gather together in His name. And to impress on them the importance of having Him, the Risen Lord, as the centre of their celebration and entire lives, the Church highlights five ways in which Christ is the One who gathers and leads us at every Eucharist.
Five Symbols of Jesus,Our Centre The Eucharist commences with the entrance procession headed by the servers bearing the Cross and lighted candles. Both light and Cross are powerful symbols of the work of Redemption accomplished by Jesus which is represented for us in the celebration.The celebrant who brings up the rear of the procession is the visible representative of the Risen Lord Himself and out of respect for Christ present in him, the assembly rises to welcome him in their midst. The entrance hymn is actually a joyous acclamation of the Risen Lord, enabling the assembly to identify right from the start with His triumph through His dying-rising.
They have gathered together precisely to rejoice in and celebrate the triumph of Jesus over all forms of evil, to recognise the newness that Jesus brought into their lives and to deepen and extend its manifestation as they journey through life.
This entrance procession is like the triumphant victory march of the victorious king returning to his palace after a battle. Altar, Symbol of His Gift: On reaching the altar, the celebrant venerates it either by kissing it or by using the traditional Indian gesture of reverence, reminding all that the Altar is a symbol not only of Christ but specifically of his self-gift on the Cross. If the veneration is done meaningfully it includes an inner readiness to enter wholeheartedly into the self-giving attitude of Jesus by becoming one with Him in His dying and also consequently in His rising.
This readiness had been initially expressed in the baptismal rite which conveyed the Christian´┐Żs willingness to be buried with Christ and Rise with Him to newness of life (Rom 6:2-14). Thus, in this veneration the celebrant invites the Christian community gathered for Eucharist to recall its Baptismal commitment and to ratify it, or at least recall it so that participation in the celebration becomes realistic and meaningful.
Next, the celebrant signs himself with the Sign of the Cross and so does the entire assembly ´┐Ż proclaiming thereby that it is Christ and His dying on the Cross in obedience to the Father´┐Żs Will that ultimately effects their redemption. It is because of this loving obedience of Jesus that we are empowered to gather around Him joyfully and share His triumph...

The Eucharist.
Gathering In Loving Unity: The Eucharist begins not with the Entrance hymn but at the moment when Christians as a community of loving brothers and sisters united in faith and love come to celebrate this unique event of history: the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. To come as individuals to get ´┐Żpeace of mind´┐Ż or to obtain favours for one self is not a celebration, but a fulfilling of our Sunday obligation. We come with the awareness that we are ´┐Żnew creatures in Christ´┐Ż. This means we see ourselves truly as God´┐Żs children born of God by the precious Blood of Jesus. Sinners we are, yes, but precious in the eyes of a loving Father. We now relate to Him not out of fear but in love. Our sins are no obstacle knowing that we are accepted and loved no matter what. Being new creatures also means that we see ourselves not as isolated persons, but members of one body whose lives are interlocked worth one another. So my participation, good or bad, in the Eucharist affects the lives of my brothers and sisters. I enrich or hurt spiritually their lives. So our Eucharist begins only when we realize more deeply what we are as Church: the gathering of God´┐Żs holy people, united with Christ and equally members of one another like the ingredients that go to make one cake. At home with God and with one another we celebrate God´┐Żs goodness and gracious gifts given freely to us.
Practical Implications: We come to the Eucharist not just to get solutions to personal problems, but to present to the Father the hopes and struggles of the world. E.g. we express our concern for the genocide and starvation of the 50,000 people of Sudan. Each of us lives the truth that the love of Christ has gathered us together into one. While we grieve with the distressed we also joyfully celebrate the victory of love over self-centredness- the selfless service to the needy, medical help to those with AIDS. It is no more ´┐ŻI´┐Ż but ´┐ŻWe´┐Ż We come to the Eucharist not so much to see bread & wine changed into Christ´┐Żs Body & Blood but rather that our self-centred selves be transformed into self-giving, caring, loving, self-sacrificing persons even ready to die for the other. Such an attitude makes us conscious of others at the Eucharist as we enter God´┐Żs house and smile and greet one another and joyfully sing the Entrance Hymn: ´┐ŻHere we are, all together as we sing or song´┐Ż.´┐Ż We will find ourselves praying for others, asking forgiveness for the sins of others, praising God for the goodness in others. Further, rather than focus on our sinfulness and weaknesses we share God´┐Żs joy in bringing us back together as one flock under One Shepherd.

The Eucharist.
The Penitential Rite: Conscious of our inclination to sin and our unworthiness to come into God´┐Żs presence, the petition for pardon comes naturally to our minds. Surprisingly, the Penitential Rite is not so much a proclamation of our sinfulness and asking God for pardon. Rather, a joyful acclamation that God has forgiven us freely and generously in Jesus Christ. One of the approved forms in the Missal should convince us: ´┐ŻYou raise the dead to life in the Spirit, Lord´┐Ż You bring pardon & peace to the sinner, Christ´┐Ż. You bring light to those in darkness, Lord´┐Ż´┐Ż.
God´┐Żs unconditional love & mercy. The Penitential Rite invites us to reflect carefully on the question of God´┐Żs mercy as Jesus revealed it to us. By the coming of Jesus into this world God has freely and graciously forgiven all our sins, something worth rejoicing over. Yet oddly, we believe we must first feel miserable at our sinfulness in order to rejoice at our forgiveness. Our sense of guilt haunts us. Reflecting on God´┐Żs goodness and love following us even as we sin will make us rejoice knowing that God continually forgives and welcomes us back home. And almost as if nothing had come in between us. Of course, this does not mean we can take advantage of God´┐Żs goodness and keep on sinning. No one who tastes His forgiving love can consciously and with a hard heart offend him again.
Christian Living: A response of Love: So all through our lives but especially at the Eucharist we praise and thank God for His immense forgiving love so freely and readily given each time we fail Him. So, at the Penitential Rite we don´┐Żt cry out like condemned people pleading for mercy even though we pray: ´┐ŻLord have mercy´┐Ż. The meaning of that phrase is: ´┐ŻLord, you are so merciful and generous with your love inspite of our sinfulness that you welcome us back with tender compassion. This should be reflected in our tone of voice.
Christians: Reconciled and Rejoicing: God does not just forgive us an external debt, as it were, but He transforms us, renews our relationships. So, the test of having received His generous forgiveness is seen when we in turn generously forgive others. ´┐ŻForgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us´┐Ż. Think of the parable of the unforgiving servant. Hence, at the Penitential Rite we also ask ourselves; ´┐Żhave I really forgiven the hurts others have caused me?´┐Ż ´┐ŻIf you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother/sister has something against you´┐Ż´┐Ż(Mt.5/23.
Positive attitude towards our failings: We are not to be obsessed with our sinfulness. At mass we are not a group of sinners come to share in the perfect and timeless rites of the one true Church. Rather, we come together as a sinful, yet graced people to share in actions that are limited and with defects as we are limited and full of defects, yet graced as we are graced. To be positive towards our failings does not mean approving of sin and licentious living. It means that we stress our God given capacity to respond in love, rather than on our proneness to fail. At our next Eucharist let us ask ourselves: Have I really accepted God´┐Żs gracious gift of forgiveness of my sins? Secondly, is there anyone whom I need to forgive now even as I praise God for His gift of forgiveness to me? Am I in the habit of keeping score of the wrongs others have done me? Finally, let us recall this fact: At the Eucharist the Father begins the celebration of our home coming . Would the thought that we are forgiven sinners make a difference in the way we live our Christian life for the rest of the day?.

The Eucharist.
The Word: Nourishing Bread. The Entrance Rite forcefully reminds us that Jesus, the Risen Lord who is the Center of our celebration. In the Liturgy of the Word, it is the Risen Lord who speaks to us, interpreting the Scriptures as He did for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The question is: Are we really nourished by the Word in the Eucharist? How eagerly, attentively and personally do we receive the Word. How far is the Word truly ´┐Ża lamp for our steps and a light for our path?´┐Ż And since Christ is as truly present in the proclaimed Word as in the Sacrament, we could further ask: ´┐ŻIf we do not commune with Christ in the Word, what guarantee is there that we really commune with the same Christ in the Sacrament?´┐Ż
The Word-A Communication and Communion: In our dealings with one another the words a person speaks communicates a message. Eg. The thousands of words and gestures spoken to us from birth tell us that we are loveable and loved. Having come to birth in these spoken words we are able to speak to others in a loving manner in the measure that we have been loved into existence. So, the word nourishes and fosters life in both the speaker and the listener. Communication Is Effective Connection: Quite often we speak to one another not merely to ask for information but simply to connect with others. For example, a person phoning us will frequently start by saying: ´┐ŻHello, how are you?´┐Ż If we are attentive, our reply will be something like this: ´┐ŻO.K. and how are you?´┐Ż That at once puts us on a friendly footing. When God´┐Żs word is proclaimed in the Eucharist we should focus not so much on the surface meaning of the words. We need to discover what God is saying to us through them. Basically the meaning of God´┐Żs word is always: ´┐ŻI have loved you with an everlasting love; I have called you´┐Ż and you are mine.´┐Ż Each particular story or event narrated in the Bible gives us further insights into this fundamental message. Only when we catch this underlying message will the Word in the Liturgy become nourishing and life-giving.
Training Needed: We must learn how to listen. The first condition for such listening is ´┐Żstillness of mind and heart´┐Ż. We recall the psalm that tells us: ´┐ŻBe still and know that I am God´┐Ż. So, when we come to the Eucharist, we need to create this atmosphere of silence and stillness within us and around us. Another important requirement is that we have to focus not so much on ourselves as on the Lord. Secondly, we need to remind ourselves that God´┐Żs Word is meant to reveal His qualities to us and not so much to get focussed on our own sinfulness. What is important is that we do not focus so much on the text or story, but that we look at God to whom it points. So, a mere passive listening will not connect us with God. We have to listen eagerly to get beyond the text and glimpse the ´┐Żhidden´┐Ż or surprising elements of God´┐Żs qualities. Having tasted this unbelievable goodness of the Lord, we should not at once find out what we need to do by way of response. Rather, let those insights sink into us and from within change our way of thinking about God. The Responsorial Psalm enables us to do this. Once our thought pattern within us is changed, our external behaviour will gradually but definitely change.
The Word-A Proclamation: We must remember that what Jesus spoke to the people of His time is exactly what he would say to you and to me in our circumstances. We need to read the Gospel as telling us not what Jesus did in the past but what Jesus does for us today. The Risen Lord is ever present to every situation in our lives. It is important to meet Him personally, in the here and now, as we listen to the Word so that it can nourish us as our lives unfold. Finally, we need to ask ourselves: ´┐ŻWhat would be the most loving response to this revelation? How best can I show my love for God in return? And here, God would want us to express our love for Him by loving our neighbour. The Word we listen to attentively and lovingly during the Eucharist must continue to be active and alive throughout the day. This does not happen automatically. We have to remind ourselves of the life-giving message we received all during the day. Underneath all these suggestions is the assumption that we have made God the Centre of our lives.

The Eucharist.
Our Response: Deepened Faith In the previous article we saw that by means of the proclaimed Word God reveals His inner nature which is totally unknowable. The first response God asks of us that we accept His Word. Like any human word we do not accept it to prove its veracity. Rather we accept it as spoken out of love and unfailingly true. We may not understand it fully, nor be able to verify it, yet since it is God who speaks it we accept it as true. The test is that we are ready to act on it by changing our life style. ´┐Ż I will never forget you If any man will come after me let him deny himself´┐Ż´┐Ż´┐Ż´┐Żlove your enemies, bless those who curse you´┐Ż´┐Ż´┐ŻNothing is impossible with God´┐Żask and you will receive´┐Ż´┐Ż The challenge before us is to accept all this as true. Most people find it difficult to believe these statements because deep down they are conscious of their sinfulness. They believe that they are not worthy of His promises or will not be able to live up to what God asks. They fail to see that God loves us as we are and that He loves in us what He himself has gifted to us.
Our Response: At the Eucharist, after hearing God´┐Żs Word the ideal response we could make is a real deepening of our faith. On Sundays we express this deepened faith as we pray the Creed with full attention to the words. In addition, the Prayers of the Faithfull where the prayer intentions arise out of the Scripture texts. E.g., ´┐ŻLove your enemies´┐Ż, Father we pray that that all of us present here will give up those grudges we nurse towards those who have hurt us, let us pray.
We also need to make our response in action. We do this as we bring our gifts to the altar. We know that the bread and wine symbolize our own very selves offered and surrendered to the Lord that He may work through us. So we need consciously to put ourselves into these gifts. Only those areas that we actually bring to the altar and surrender to the Lord will He be able to transform. Hence we are to decisively place the unredeemed areas of our lives to the transforming power of Jesus.
But how do we know what areas need to be redeemed? A simple way is to get in touch with our inner selves, to listen to our self- talk on the tape recorder that registers message after message as we experience one thing after another. By keeping in touch with these messages we get a fairly good idea of our deeper motivations, aspirations, feelings and desires. Attending to these messages will help us pick out areas which need the healing and transforming touch of Christ. And we need to do bring these areas repeatedly to Him especially if we find in them serious and deep-rooted problems. All that we have said here goes to show that we have a lot of personal work to do at the Presentation of Gifts we used to call Offertory. The Eucharist does have the power to transform our lives and even Society provided we give it a chance. After all do not the bread and wine stand for ´┐Żwhat the earth has given and human hands have made´┐Ż- everything that concerns our life here on earth?. Your get out of the Eucharist only as much as you put into it.

The Eucharist:.
The Presentation Of Gifts (Offertory) The mass is God´┐Żs offer of friendship inviting us to a partnership with Him in building His beautiful world with love. The Offertory is our willing response of involvement. This response signified in the host we offer has four dimensions: Personal, Social, Material, Celestial.
Personal: We say in our mind over the host in the ciborium: ´┐ŻBread be thou me´┐Ż. ´┐ŻFather as your child I am happy to belong to you. All the good you have put into me I offer to help to make your world beautiful with love. I also include all the evil in me, I cannot keep it back: my selfishness and self-love, pride, anger & unforgiveness, laziness, jealousy and envy, mean-ness and many other personal and secret sins. This too is my gift to you that you may destroy it. This personal dimension is the TOTAL ME with my positives and negatives.
Social: We offer ourselves, but who are we? We see clearly that we are connected with our family, city, country, with peoples of all continents: believers and unbelievers, diseased and healthy, those in homes, those on the pavements, the happy and the sad, the wealthy and poor, the educated and illiterate, the saint and the sinner. All of us are one SINGLE WE. We realize that in the offering of the host we place all our energies at the service of the Lord and are Christ´┐Żs instruments to banish from this world hatred, enmities, sorrows and distresses and the thousands of evils afflicting God´┐Żs family.
Material: The social dimension also includes the whole cosmos- the heavens and the earth with its resources. So we offer all that the earth and human beings produce in the way of food and drink and technology: fields, forests, oceans and rivers, factories and offices, instruments, stores, banks, our properties and buildings and all the remarkable inventions. We pledge to our Heavenly Father all these material riches to cultivate and develop, to harness and exploit for the happiness of the human family.
Celestial: Our host also includes those in heaven because all of us are the Body of Christ. Mary ´┐Żs tremendous love, the heroic lives of the saints, the sufferings of the martyrs, the spread of the kingdom by missionaries, the saintly people both single and married, the religious not forgetting the deceased members of our families. When our minds see all these things contained in the host, our host begins to grow and grow till it becomes as big as the universe. The whole world s our host and it is this world we lift up to our Father with the power of Jesus living in the Church.
Implication:
The more deeply we understand the multi-dimensional meaning of the host, the more urgent will our involvement be in making our homes, society, country and world more pleasing and acceptable to our heavenly Father. The Offertory is the sealing of a partnership and a pledge of total involvement in God´┐Żs enterprise in the world. We whole-heartedly throw ourselves into this mighty operation with God to make creation and ourselves beautiful and holy with selfless, godly love. The Offertory is our promise of involvement in effective service to the world. We present our bread and wine to the Father ´┐ŻTHAT THEY MAY BECAME THE BODY OF CHRIST´┐Ż These words proclaim the profound mystery that the goal of all God´┐Żs activity in the world and my partnership with Him is to help the world to ´┐ŻBECOME CHRIST´┐Ż. To change it into Christ just as the bread is changed into the Body of Christ. This is the challenging process we are involved in that we renew and confirm as individuals and as a community at each presentation of gifts.

The Eucharist.
The Preface: It begins with a dialogue between the Celebrant and the Assembly. So the Celebrant must articulate it loudly and distinctly and maintain eye contact with his people. The dialogue introduction is followed by praise of God for His saving deeds past and present. It is summed p by the Holy, Holy, Holy. The Preface has 3 parts: dialogue, praise and Sanctus.
Introductory Dialogue: It begins with:´┐ŻThe Lord be with you´┐Ż. This with the response indicates good wishes for peace. It is also a prayer greeting offered when an important task or mission is being entrusted to a person. Eg., Saul commissions David to fight Goliath: ´┐ŻGo, and the Lord be with you´┐Ż. Applied to the Eucharistic Assembly it means that in the name of the human race the Lord commissions it to praise and thank God. A little more awareness would make the people answer more boldly and respectfully. ´┐ŻLift up your hearts´┐Ż reflects St. Paul´┐Żs words: ´┐ŻSet your minds on the things that are above´┐Ż. In this way the Celebrant before the Eucharistic prayer prepares the minds and hearts of the people to fix their thoughts and desires on the Lord. And why? To be ready with their reasons for praising God. From our birth God blesses us in numerous ways. We need to be aware of them and, at this time, single out those blessings for which we want to thank Him on this particular occasion. The key idea is that: the more aware we are of God´┐Żs blessings, the more heartfelt and meaningful our praise and thanks, now and all during the day.
´┐ŻLet us give thanks to the Lord our God´┐Ż. Assuring the Celebrant that we will join in by replying earlier ´┐ŻWe lift them up to the Lord´┐Ż, he begins the actual praise and thanks of God. He ends with ´┐Żthrough Jesus Christ our Lord´┐Ż Jesus is not only our spokesman but also by His obedience our greatest reason for thanking God. Our response: ´┐Żit is right to give Him thanks and praise´┐Ż shows the fraternal communion and ecclesial unity of all who are praying.
The Praise Itself: Then the Celebrant launches into the actual praise. God is worthy of praise always and every where He is the Lord and everything He does is ´┐Żgood´┐Ż. To His people he is a ´┐Żholy Father´┐Ż and by His very being He is the ´┐Żalmighty and everlasting God´┐Ż. This opening address is found in almost every Preface and is followed by a statement of the special reasons for praise at this particular moment.
The naming of God´┐Żs redemptive actions is followed by the Holy, Holy , Holy. It resembles the Gloria. The word Hosanna means rescue us, help us. We see a reflection of this in the shouts of the people acclaiming Jesus at His triumphant entry into Jerusalem: ´┐ŻHosanna to the Son of David´┐Ż. In the context of the Eucharistic prayer the words ´┐Żblessed is He who comes´┐Ż´┐Ż looks forward to His sacramental presence in the bread and wine and also to His final coming in glory.
Conclusion: Awareness of the meaning and structure of the Preface will help both president and people to pray it more meaningfully and help us achieve it´┐Żs goal ´┐Ż that of a united prayer made by the entire assembly of priest and people. Attention to the Preface will make the praying of the Eucharistic Prayer- the heart of the Eucharist ´┐Ż more meaningful and fruitful. Our entire day and life itself will become a continuous hymn of praise and thanks.

The Eucharist.
The Eucharistic Prayer:
Reciting it speedily and routinely we fail to understand its richness and purpose within the entire structure of the Eucharist. Word Flows Into Prayer & Action: There seems o be hardly any connection between the Liturgy of the Word and that of the Bread. In the section of the Word we encounter God presented to us in a very pointed and personal way. We apply this to our lives in the homily, reflected in the Creed and Prayers of the Faithful. But from then onwards there is no reference to these Prayer of Thanksgiving- The Eucharistic Prayer.
Several Ways: In the feeding of the five thousand we hear of Christ´┐Żs compassion which led Him to feed the harassed people, first with the word and then with the bread. We can bring this into:.

1. Preface of E.P.2 . ´┐ŻHe is the Word through whom you made the Universe´┐Ż and who in the desert reached out to the hungering multitudes who sought Him. He taught them about your kingdom and later led them to experience your powerful and all loving providence by offering them enough bread to eat and be filled. The leftovers proclaim that your love never runs out but that even today we can experience its healing power if we come to you through Jesus for He is the Saviour you sent to redeem us.

2. Invoking of the Holy Spirit. ´┐Ż Lord You are Holy indeed, the fountain of all life and holiness´┐Ż. Having created us you provide plentifully both of your life-giving word and also of nourishing bread. We bless you for the numerous people who share their bread and their lives with us bringing us your love and concern. Through the generosity of our brothers and sisters we have this bread which we bring today to your altar. Let your spirit come upon these gifts´┐Ż´┐Ż.

3. After the Institution Narrative. ´┐ŻWe thank you for counting us worthy to receive your nourishing word today which remind us that you always provide for us in difficult times. Lord, since you offer us much more than we need, teach us that your gifts are meant to be shared. So open our hearts to love and serve you in the needy of Sudan, the Middle East and India. May all of us who share ´┐Ż´┐Ż.

4. ´┐ŻLord remember your Church throughout the world, make us grow in love even to the extent that we will forget our own emptiness and share the little we have with others. For we believe that through our faith-filled openness we can take away all the hungers of our needy brothers and sisters. Make us your Church into true servants of the world, together with Pope John Paul´┐Ż´┐Ż.

5. ´┐ŻHave mercy on us all´┐Ż. Do not call to mind when we have closed our hearts to others and failed to share because we focused only on what we lacked. Make us more large-hearted; help us to forget ourselves even to the point of giving our very lives for others and thus make us worthy to share eternal life with Mary´┐Ż´┐Ż.
Caution: We are not to insert all these insights into every possible place. Just one or two places will suffice. Overloading will be counter-productive. Preparation has to be done beforehand as ad-libs could be disastrous. More attention to this Prayer: The very articulation is itself a proclamation promoting an active and intelligent participation of the congregation. It shapes our attitude and teaches us how to praise and thank God in all circumstances. The Intercessory part reminds us that our blessings are always to be shared and that in the actual we give the greatest praise and thanks to the Father. ´┐ŻHappy are you if you put this into action´┐Ż.

The Eucharist.
The Words Of Consecration: ´┐ŻDo this in remembrance of Me: More accurately, ´┐Żas a memorial of Me´┐Ż. Why? because we do not just recall a past event but ´┐Żmake present´┐Ż once again a past historical event. We do exactly what Jesus did- the identical action, brought forward in time. How is this possible? By uniting the external action with the original intention of Jesus. Jesus´┐Ż Action: 1 Took the bread. 2 Said the blessing. 3 Broke the bread. 4 Gave it.. saying Our action: 1 Took the bread-Preparation and presentation of gifts. 2 Said the blessing-Preface & Eucharist Prayer till ´┐Żthrough Him, with Him´┐Ż´┐Ż 3 Broke the bread- Done after ´┐ŻLamb of God´┐Ż´┐Ż 4 Gave it saying-Communion to concluding prayer. Jesus´┐Ż Intention: He expressed His readiness to be broken, to pour out His blood and die for us. He was expressing His self-gift, a total, loving and obedient surrender to His Father´┐Żs plan. Our Intention: When I make present these actions of Jesus, I must unite my own personal, total, loving and obedient surrender to the Father Otherwise I am just ´┐Żacting´┐Ż.
Practical Applications:
Take the bread: Take our own life situation, the places where we experience difficulty in following God´┐Żs will. Say the blessing: Praise and thank God for our concrete crosses since it is through them we experience His goodness and see His glory. We start our praise in the Eucharist itself and continue al during the day. Break the bread: Specially at the time of the Consecration, we express our surrender together with Jesus. Gave it saying,´┐Ż Take & Eat´┐Ż´┐Ż We give of ourselves to any one in need-the poor, sick, lonely,Aged and bed-ridden, those in despair. We work for justice and peace, standing up for the rights of the deprived, This is a true response to: ´┐ŻDo this as a memorial of Me´┐Ż.

The Eucharist-Elevation
Undoubtedly, even today for most Christians the essential and most sacred action of the Eucharist is the ´┐Żconsecration´┐Ż. Over the years we have come to accept and now even take for granted, that it is while these solemn and important words are pronounced, that our gifts of bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. That is the key reason why many priests take great care to pronounce these words correctly, distinctly and prayerfully, even if the rest of the Eucharistic Prayer is raced through. We also believe that the ´┐Żdouble´┐Ż consecration is needed to ensure that the Body and Blood of Christ are separately made present, thus indicating also their separation in the death of Christ. Anyone familiar with post-Vatican theology of the Eucharist can see immediately ´┐Żhow things have changed´┐Ż in this important area.
Post-Vatican Terminology : We have alluded to these changes in previous issues, but to help refresh our memories, we mention them here briefly. We speak today more in terms of ´┐Żsanctifying the gifts´┐Ż by ´┐Żthe Institution Narrative´┐Ż our prayer for an in-filling of the Spirit rather than of consecration. Further, the fact of a ´┐Żdouble´┐Ż action with bread and cup refers not so much to the separation of body from blood indicating the death of Christ, but rather to the Semitic way of emphasizing an action through repetition. The action with the bread would have come almost at the start of the Passover Meal, as a kind of ´┐Żgrace before meals´┐Ż. The action with the Cup is practically the last gesture of the Meal and could be termed the ´┐Żgrace after meals´┐Ż. Both have clear references to the first alliance or covenant made through Moses after God had prepared the people over several years of their desert journeying.
The double action simply emphasizes the importance of the action. Called today this section must be proclaimed in the same tone of voice used for the rest of the Eucharistic Prayer. In short, this section should not stand out as something special or different from the other sections of the Eucharistic Prayer. What possibly needs a fuller explanation is that post-Vatican Eucharistic theology does not focus on a ´┐Żparticular moment´┐Ż in which the transformation is supposed to occur. The entire Eucharistic Prayer, and not any specific portion of it, is seen as the transformative prayer. This approach has been prevalent in the Eastern liturgies from almost the very beginning. Several practical implications follow from such an assertion. First, since the prayer from start to finish is seen as one integral whole, the entire prayer should be prayed in the same tone of voice. No special emphasis should be given to the parts printed in dark, bold letters in the missal.
Also, the ´┐ŻInstitution Narrative´┐Ż should be seen as the ´┐Żstory´┐Ż of what Jesus did at the Last Supper, recounted lovingly and gratefully so that we can not only make it present here and now, but also enter into its dynamic as we seek to fulfill Christ´┐Żs command to ´┐Żdo this as a memorial of me´┐Ż. As a narrative, it should be addressed to the Father and in the presence of the assembly equally, to elicit their wholehearted response of faith and love.
In no way are the words of the ´┐ŻInstitution Narrative´┐Ż to be addressed to the elements of bread and cup. Each of the various sections in the Eucharistic Prayer should get the same amount of emphasis, meaning that we do not pray any particular part with greater reverence, deliberation and so on. This was usually done for the ´┐ŻInstitution Narrative´┐Ż, while the rest was just raced through. Static Presence or Dynamic Action ? :
It is customary for priests to directly or indirectly invite the faithful to extend their adoration of the sacred species at the time of the ´┐ŻInstitution Narrative´┐Ż. In fact, there was a period in the history of the Eucharist when the Christian faithful came to the Eucharist only to gaze on the sacred Host. They believed that a mere loving and faith-filled gaze would bring them untold gifts, even miracles. And so they came to Church but remained outside while the Eucharist continued. A warning bell was rung to bring them in for the ´┐Żconsecration´┐Ż. Their ´┐Żactive participation´┐Ż consisted only in spending a few precious minutes gazing on the sacred Host, after which they would hastily leave. The Celebrant, of course, had his back to the people and so, in order that they might gaze on the sacred Host, he had to raise it high after the words of consecration had been pronounced.
This was the origin of the ´┐Żelevation´┐Ż of the sacred Host and Cup at this juncture. At times, depending on the devotion of the Celebrant, they would gaze on the sacred Host for as long as ten minutes. Once this was over, they left the Church and rushed to the next parish to catch the next Consecration-elevation. The movement from gazing on the sacred Host during the Eucharist to gazing on it outside of the celebration through ´┐Żexposition´┐Ż in a monstrance is but a natural outcome and a foregone conclusion.
However, we readily realise that such a ´┐Żcelebration´┐Ż of Eucharist could do nothing for the lives of the people and that the Eucharist was approached only as a means of obtaining favours and blessings. The original intention of Jesus in giving us his presence in the form of bread broken and Cup shared was totally lost.
Today, of course, we stress the fact that Jesus is dynamically present during the Eucharist - He is there for us, in order to transform us into himself and to send us out on mission. Hence, in the context of a renewed Eucharistic Spirituality, a prominent raising of the sacred Host with a prolonged ´┐Żadoration´┐Ż or the uttering of ejaculations like ´┐ŻMy Lord and My God´┐Ż are totally out of place at the ´┐ŻInstitution Narrative´┐Ż. Again, given the fact that the Celebrant now faces the congregation, would the ´┐Żelevation´┐Ż be necessary? The proper place for this adoration is prayer before the Sacrament outside of the Eucharistic celebration.
Further, the power and challenge of the Eucharist lies not just in gazing on the sacred Host, but in ´┐Żeating/drinking´┐Ż or better, becoming one with Jesus in his redemptive mission. It invites us to ´┐Żput on the mind of Christ´┐Ż and empty or break ourselves for the benefit of others. We recall how the question of eating his flesh and drinking his blood became the point of rejection of Jesus by his Jewish followers who accused him of cannibalism, in the context of John´┐Żs Christian community. But, what Jesus asks of his followers is that they become assimilated into himself, become one with him to the extent of being ready to sacrifice their very lives for the benefit of others. This can be very demanding, as it requires us to become one with him to the extent of being ready to sacrifice their very lives for the benefit of others.
This can be very demanding, as it requires us to become bread for the hungry, eyes to the blind, feet to the lame and so on. It strips us of the conceit and self-centredness that, so often, characterise our lives. In Jewish culture, to share a meal with someone is to enter into a deep personal relationship with that person/family. Using this meaningful background, Jesus goes further, in that he offers himself not just as a co-sharer of the meal (which he also is), but more than that, he becomes the very food we share. This points to a far deeper union and oneness.
Conclusions : In our day, there are very few participants in the Eucharist who do not share in the bread and the Cup. Some ´┐Żreceive communion´┐Ż even more than once a day! The practice of ´┐Żgazing on the sacred Host´┐Ż still continues but it is rarely exaggerated. Many today perhaps, need to be reminded that Jesus does not ´┐Żcome down on our altars´┐Ż at the ´┐ŻInstitution Narrative´┐Ż, but is present to us in different forms throughout the Eucharistic celebration.
Nevertheless, a renewed Eucharistic Spirituality today challenges us to go back to the original intention of Jesus in giving us the Eucharist - not just that we may enjoy his continuing presence and adore him, but that we may be transformed by him and actively continue his redemptive mission in our surroundings. Once we can genuinely do that, then we will find that we can ´┐Żsee´┐Ż Jesus everywhere and in every person we deal with. The Risen Lord dwelling within us will ´┐Żopen our eyes´┐Ż to the reality of his dynamic presence all around us. ´┐ŻIn him we live and move and have our being´┐Ż. Our lives would be drawn into a marvelous unity and the effect of Christ´┐Żs transformation of us during the Eucharist would carry through into the rest of the day.
Everything we do or say would bear the stamp of his ´┐Żpaschal event´┐Ż. Through our Christ-like efforts, we would truly see the whole of creation being transformed into what God originally meant it to be - a reflection of His own love and care for His creatures. Eucharist would then become not just something celebrated only in a ritual, but a way of life, a way of relating to all people around us, a new style of living in this world as being already God´┐Żs loving and loved children. Whether this transformed society and world will be only a dream of the future or a presently evolving reality ´┐Ż this is the challenge before us who celebrate the Eucharist.

The Eucharist
This is My Body Broken/Given For you:
Implication 1 You are My Body (Recall the Offertory gesture: Bread be thou my body) All the good in you is mine-I am proud of you. All the evil in you is Mine. You are My Body! I am going to heal My Body. I care for it.
Implication 2 You are My Body broken for My people, to be given to them. You are Me taking My Father´┐Żs Love for His children. You will be exhausted, even broken in the process of taking and giving it.
Implication 3: If I am His Body and you re His Body, then I am your body and you are my body. That is we are members of the same Body. I must care for you as I care for my own body. Do This In memory Of Me: Do what I did for the whole of MY life, ending on Calvary: I LOVED, I simply loved according to the demands made on Me. Healing, teaching, comforting, consoling, understanding, uplifting, serving, suffering as each circumstance required. In Memory: What does a memorial do? It makes the past present. It is a monument. This monument is not a memory of a person who lived once upon a time. This person is HERE, ALIVE.
When you do THIS as a person, you are, as a person, my living memorial. When you do THIS as a community, you are, as a community, my living memorial. IN YOUR COMMUNION WITH ONE ANOTHER PEOPLE MEET ME, SEE ME EXPERIENCE ME. And conversely, when you don´┐Żt love, when there is no communion in your family or community people miss ME. I am not there. You are not a memorial of ME. Implication 1: The most effective and irresistible EVANGELIZATION OR PREACHING OF CHRIST IS A LIFE OF LOVE AND COMMUNION WITH ONE ANOTHER. Person to person love is individual evangelization. People to people love is mass evangelization.
Implication :What one does is less important than what one is. What one is more important than what one says or does. .Implication : In the person of a friend one meets Jesus. In the family/community in which one meets warm acceptance, one meets Jesus. Hence the priority of making a family/community a home of love.
Implication 4: A Christian is one who loves; a holy person is one who loves. God is holy and He does nothing else but love. All His power is at the service of love. When I love I am God-like. I am holy. Let Us Proclaim The Mystery Of Faith: The mystery is deeper than what appears on the surface of the Eucharistic acclamations. The deeper mystery is: A You are my Body as a person, as a community with all the good and evil in you. B You are my living monument whenever you do love as a person or as community. C You (singly and collectively) are the Church, i.e. the continuing presence of Christ on earth; the continuing presence of the Blessed Trinity, the living presence of God on earth.

The Eucharist
The Lord's Prayer: The Christian Mission As we prepare to commune with the Lord and enter more deeply and consciously into oneness with him and with one another we have reviewed what our Christian vision is. We look now at our Christian mission: how do we go about making this vision a reality, that is, glorifying God's name and establishing his kingdom? What do we need to do? What is our mission as Christians? We take up the three petitions addressed to the Father in the first person: 'Give us our daily bread, forgive us our sins and do not bring us to the hard testing´┐Ż' Epiousios Bread
In the first petition for ourselves we pray the Father to give us each day our (not belonging to us, but characterizing us) bread. The term 'bread' stands for the entire meal, in fact, for all that sustains human life. But this bread is further qualified as 'daily' which adjective, we are told, is an inaccurate translation of the Greek term 'epiousios'. This is a term which occurs only once in the entire Bible. The fact that the word occurs only once in the entire Bible and that too in this place only, immediately tells us that the early Christians had to coin this new word, because there was no existing word to express the very special, distinctively Christian bread referred to here. Now, there is only one Christian reality that is so outstandingly special - the Eucharistic bread.
Since bread stands for all that we need to live, especially as Christians, we could include almost everything under this umbrella term. The important point is that as Christians receiving 'bread' each day from the Father we must, of necessity, go out and share generously with others according to their need. No gift is ever given to us for ourselves alone, to be hoarded or utilized for our personal benefit only. Whatever gifts we receive are always given that we may share our blessings with others. To understand this interpretation more clearly, we look at the parable that Luke gives immediately after the Lord's Prayer (11:5-8).
The teaching that follows on this parable (v. 9-13) reminds us that when we pray in this way (that we may share what we have received) we will most certainly get what we ask - for he who asks, receives, he who searches finds and he who knocks has the door opened for him. The Father will not refuse the Holy Spirit to those who ask in this truly Christian fashion. Notice that the Holy Spirit sums up all the gifts that a Christian would need to live out his Christian identity in a dynamic manner.
A Scriptural Example .The story of the rich man and Lazarus emphasizes the above truth when it tells us that Dives feasted sumptuously each day. This expression 'each day' links this story with the Lord's Prayer in such a way that we could say that if Dives did have the wherewithal to feast sumptuously each day, it was because the Father gave him that 'bread' each day in answer to his prayer. But the bread that the Father gives is basically oriented towards sharing and not for one's own selfish consumption; and since Dives did not share with the needy, he was judged to be deserving of hell. While the Father is generous to a fault in giving us all that we need to live our Christian calling, we have to ensure that we live out what we are meant to be, or else we destroy ourselves.
The same can be said with regard to the gift of forgiveness. In Luke's presentation of the Lord's Prayer, we pray that we be forgiven, 'as' we forgive, in the very act and in the very measure in which we forgive others. So therefore, if we do not forgive others, we ourselves should not expect to get any forgiveness ourselves. The important point we should not miss in all this is: it is when we share our 'bread' with the needy and extend our forgiveness to all, that is when God's name is made holy and his kingdom established in our midst.
Conclusion In making us pray the Lord's Prayer just before receiving the Lord's gift of himself in holy Communion, the Church reminds us of our true Christian identity. All that we are going to receive as we commune with the Lord and share his very life in Covenant - all that is meant to be shared with others in need. We come, therefore to receive not just for ourselves but that we may share with others. Hence at this part of the Eucharist, and especially after communing with the Lord, our thoughts and prayer need to reach out to people all over the world. That is the time we think least of ourselves and most of others. Having exercised our Christian identity (a Christian is one who lives not for himself but for others) during the Eucharist, we are then sent into the world so that we can exercise that same self-giving throughout the day in favour of all whom the Lord brings into our lives. Give and you will receive abundantly.

The Eucharist
Holy Communion: The Celebrant holding aloft the Sacred Host proclaims: ´┐ŻThis is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world´┐Ż´┐Ż He reminds us of the central purpose of Christ´┐Żs coming into the world: to take away sin and invite us once again into communion with the Father. But we need to remember that communion with God also demands communion with all people. So, even as I come forward to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, I am reminded of the community dimension of this sacrament and the part I play in making it a reality.
The Body Of Christ: Holding the Sacred Host before us the Celebrant Says: ´┐ŻThe Body of Christ´┐Ż To which we reply´┐Ż Amen´┐Ż. When the Celebrant points to the Host with the words ´┐ŻThe Body of Christ´┐Ż he does not only mean that this little piece of bread is the Risen Lord really present in it. But he also points out to the whole community of baptized- the Mystical Body of Christ. Take And Eat: So the celebrant says to each communicant: ´┐ŻThis (myself, my body, my person) is the Body of Christ- take and eat, consume it for it is given for you. And this is what he is expected to do when he serves his parishioners throughout the day and week giving of his body, time talents, energy- the whole of himself that they may be nourished and grow in their Christ-life. He lives for others, or rather, he dies in slow degrees so that others may live.What is said of the priest and his self-giving applies equally to each person receiving Holy Communion. His/her life is meant to be apostolic-a breaking of self to feed others. This readiness to give of oneself is expressed by the ´┐ŻAmen´┐Ż
Building Community: There is also the third dimension f the Body of Chris-the community. The Amen is a commitment to work to ´┐Żmake this body (Community) truly the Body of Christ´┐Ż We notice that our parish communities are not yet truly the Body of Christ. There are so many divisions caused by criticisms, slander, backbiting, and unforgiveness. Fighting over property and wealth, jealousy and envy. Seeing all this and acknowledging our own part in it, the communicant commits himself/herself to fashion self and a little part of the Church into the authentic Body of Christ. Sharing in the Eucharistic Banquet is an action of one who accepts an adult responsibility in society and is determined to carry it out effectively.
Result: Parish ´┐Ż A Eucharistic Community
Nearly all our parishes are far from living out this ideal. What a wonderful parish community there would be if both pastor and parishioners lived out the full implications of their Eucharists! Led by the pastor, the Christians would no longer live for themselves, but for others. Like the early Christians they would place all of themselves and their belongings at the disposal of those in need. This would be the concrete result of trying to build up the Body of Christ.
When we talk of needs we usually limit ourselves to material needs. Today more than ever we see so many with deep psychological and emotional needs: the aged, sick, lonely and unwanted, the divorced or single parents, the unemployed, the drop-out the alcoholic and the drug addict, the aids patient, children from broken homes who receive little love ´┐Ż the list is endless.
Practical Applications:
Existing structures like the Vincent de Paul and the Legion of Mary are in a small way fulfilling these needs. But what is missing is the vision and the ideal. The pastoral plan of each diocese and the Synod recommendations put into practice will go along way to help God´┐Żs people to make the ideal a reality.

THE EUCHARIST
LEVELS OF COMMUNING IN THE EUCHARIST
In the minds of most Catholics Holy Communion is the most important part of the mass. However very few would know and be able to explain how exactly we ´┐Żcommune´┐Ż with Jesus and how we need to prepare ourselves to derive the maximum benefit of such communing. This communion does not happen automatically or magically. Several modes of the real presence. There are different ways the Risen Lord is really present to us. Besides the Eucharist, there are the other sacraments and the Word of God through which we can commune with the Risen Lord. He is present to us in the Christian Community-´┐Żwhere two or three´┐Ż´┐Ż He is also present in the poor-´┐Żwhatsoever you do´┐Ż´┐Ż He is present in the Hierarachy- ´┐Żhe who listen to you listens to me´┐Ż And finally He is present to each baptized person. So we can meet the Risen Lord effectively in any one of these modes of His real presence.
While the Eucharist is the most marvelous and complete mode of His presence, His personal presence to baptized is the most foundational. This means that the presence of Jesus in all the other modes is at the service of His personal presence to the baptized. Th rest are meant to deepen and strengthen this personal presence. Thus the celebration of the Eucharist should result in a deper awareness of His presence in our lives a really as in the tabernacle. Every Christian is a living tabernacle of the Risen Lord. The deeper and more personal attachment we have to Jesus within ourselves, the easier would t be for us to recognize Him in the other forms of His presence.
Inter-personal communion: The kind we speak of here is an inter-personal communion and follows the same dynamics as when two human beings seek to enter into a deep relationship with other. Eg. You enter into a train compartment while at the same time a friend of yours enters by another door. As long as you have not seen or recognized each other your presence to each other is only material. Later you look up and recognize him. Both of you are present to each other in a slightly better way. Your eyes met, you make a sign and smile Your presence now is personal. You then take a seat next to him and talk with him on various subjects. At this stage your presence is even deeper as you both actually communicate. As you converse you notice your friend is disturbed and you ask him about it. He pours out his heart to you and you listen to him with compassion and empathy. At this level your communication is at its deepest. Of all these levels the last is truly communion´┐Ż of two hearts and minds.
If this is true among human beings, then it must be true in our communion with the Lord. Yet for most of us this level of inter-personal communion is rather rare. Jesus asks just the bare minimum of us in this process: that we be fully there, attentive and receptive, through His Spirit He will do the rest. In receiving the Body of Christ we must consciously make ourselves aware that Jesus has something to say to us personally.
If we have been able to catch His message to us in the readings, this understanding will be a lot easier to us at Communion time. All we need to do is to let Him deepen and personalize this message much more. One such ´┐Żencounter´┐Ż with the Lord is worth more than a thousand Communions received mechanically. Towards the end of the distribution of Communion every effort should be made and sufficient silence provided so that each person in the assembly can truly commune with the Lord in the deepest recesses of his being.
Development of intimacy: The process of growth intimacy (communion) with the Lord is very similar to the process of growth in friendship and love between two human beings. There has to be interaction in frequency and intensity. Each partner sees the goodness in each other that binds them together as the bond of friendship deepens the lives mesh: they think of each other and spiritually commune with each other almost constantly. Everything is viewed in terms of each other: Eg. A husband and wife in deep and sincere intimacy. It is at this stage that the ´┐Żpresence´┐Ż is internalized and cannot be erased except through neglect or conscious choice. Because this relationship is a living one it needs to be nourished through deep sharing, reminders, souvenirs and so on. The final stage could be called the ´┐ŻMystical Stage´┐Ż where both dwell in each other.
The same process applies in out relationship or communion with the Lord. Where this happens we dialogue with Him not only in prayer, but almost right through the day. The Gospel stories are not accounts of what Jesus did long ago, but what He does in our lives today. We begin to see Jesus as real and living, reflected in the lives of the people around us. We take criticism, failure, rejection, disappointment in our stride. We can appreciate the good in others and so, easily praise them selflessly and spontaneously.
Communion: then is not something that happens when we receive the sacred host. It begins at the start of the Eucharist as we joyfully welcome our brothers and sisters to the celebration. Continues all through the mass reaching a climax in the inter-personal communion through the sacred sins of broken bread and shared cup. This communion continues throughout the day as we make the effort to see each event in the light of the Gospel. ´┐ŻWhat would Jesus do if He were in my place?´┐Ż This kind of living out of the Eucharist brings us to the next celebration with renewed vigour and enthusiasm to encounter the Lord even more deeply.

The Eucharist:
Go In Peace To´┐Ż.
We now come to the conclusion or ´┐ŻDismissal Rite´┐Ż The Assembly had been formally gathered in the name of Christ, and so it needs to be formally dismissed in the name of the same Christ. If we have understood the real meaning of the Eucharist, then we must know and accept that our Eucharist can never end, except in death. The most fitting dismissal text is: ´┐ŻThe mass is ended, go in peace to love and serve the Lord´┐Ż. It sums up our whole Christian life- our attempt to love and serve the Lord´┐Żbut in and through His brothers and sisters.
Empowered in Christ: Having been enriched by God´┐Żs good gifts we are sent forth as ambassadors to share His riches with others. However we are reminded that it is not merely in our own name that we go, but in the name of the Lord. That is why the Celebrant blesses us in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our 1st commissioning in the name of the three Divine Persons was done at our Baptism .This Trinitarian blessing recaptures that initial zeal and fervour.
Peace, The Touchstone: The fact that we go forth in the name of the Lord will be seen precisely by our peace-filled lives. Peace is not only the 1st gift of the Risen Lord to His disciples, but also the clearest sign that His kingdom has come. (Mt. 10/12-13) So, as we go forth to build up His kingdom in our lives and extend it to the lives of others, we will actually be spreading His peace. We respond to this challenge with gratitude: ´┐ŻThanks be to God´┐Ż.
Live The Eucharist: This is, in a sense, the most important part of the Eucharist: all that we did in church is a preparation for the actual living of our Eucharist. A teenager preparing for Confirmation when asked why she thought the dismissal rite was the most important part of the mass she replied: ´┐ŻThe purpose of the Eucharist is to nourish us with the word of the Lord and His Body and Blood, so that we may go forth to bear witness to Him and bring about the Kingdom of God into existence´┐Ż. She continued, ´┐ŻThe Eucharist does not end with the dismissal rite, in a sense, it begins with it´┐Ż. If in the Eucharist I consciously said with Jesus: ´┐ŻThis is my body- given for you´┐Ż take and eatthen, all during the day I need to live that out. Whether I work in an office or factory, teach, prepare the food, nurse the sick, visit the aged and bedridden and listen to them with patience, etc., I actually give of myself ´┐Żfor you´┐Ż. I should allow my self cheerfully to be eaten, consumed totally- how demanding!
Another consideration: I am sent to do (breaking of myself) by the Lord Jesus, because ´┐Żyou do this as a memorial of me´┐Ż. Hence I owe it to Him´┐ŻHe depends on my contribution. If I fail to give it, that little bit will always remain incomplete. When I ma made aware of this could I afford to let Him down? Finally, in all humility, we must admit that with all or study of the Eucharist we still know next to nothing of this great Mystery. So we need to continue our search and our learning´┐Żtill we contemplate the reality of God´┐Żs life

Eucharist and Unity
That the Eucharist is the sacrament of unity should be a foregone conclusion for every Christian familiar with St. John's Passion narrative. We all remember how during the Last Supper Jesus prayed specifically that his disciples remain united in him, and through him with the Father. "Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us´┐Ż I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me. May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me".
Symbolism We are all aware of the meaning of the symbolism of the bread and wine, the main elements used in making Jesus, the Risen Lord, present again at the Eucharist. Just as many grains of wheat need to be crushed and ground into flour, which when mixed produces the one bread, and just as several grapes need to be crushed to produce wine - so all the members who participate in the Eucharist become one body in Christ. This is also the prayer that is said as part of the Eucharistic Prayer III: we pray the Father to send down his Spirit to mould all Christians into one body, one spirit in Christ.
When talking of the Christian community Paul compares it to a human body that is made up of different parts, each having its own proper function. While these various functions are different, yet they all work together for the good of the entire body. Thus it is that the Spirit distributes his gifts differently to various members of the Church - so that they all work together for the benefit of the entire Body of Christ.
It is worth noticing that when describing the inner life of the Church, Paul uses the analogy of an organic body, but while talking of the structure he refers to a building constructed with several bricks. In this latter case, the unity is somewhat external, while in the former the unity is organic, living and pulsating with the same life that is in God. Jesus brings out this last point through the analogy of the vine and the branches and prays his disciples to 'remain in me'. For just as a branch that is cut off from the tree withers and dies, so will anyone who remains cut off from Christ and his brethren. Eucharist Produces or Presumes Unity?
This is a further question that always comes up in connection with Christian unity: does the Eucharist presume unity, in the sense that if there is no unity, there cannot be a real Eucharistic celebration? This is the point that Paul seems to make in his fiery communication with the Corinthian community: "when you gather together as a Church, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat, since when the time comes to eat, everyone is in such a hurry to start his own supper that one person goes hungry while another is getting drunk...And so, everyone is to recollect himself before eating this bread and drinking this cup; because a person who eats and drinks without recognizing the Body is eating and drinking his own condemnation." In other words, if one discerns a lack of genuine unity in the group, and that he himself is the cause, he should refrain from celebrating the Eucharist.In fact, if he does, it would even cease to be Eucharist at all for him.
The other side of the coin is that, granting that there is at least a minimal amount of unity in the celebrating community, the Eucharistic celebration will cement them into a deeper unity, since it also produces unity. This is the understanding behind the value of celebrating of Eucharist with other Christian groups. Most of us would have had the experience of Eucharist as a profoundly binding force, as is even mentioned in the Preface for Reconciliation: 'Your Spirit changes our hearts, enemies begin to speak to one another, those who were estranged join hands in friendship and nations seek the way of peace together.'
If the Spirit does bring Catholics celebrating Eucharist together into such a deep unity, there is no reason to feel that the Spirit cannot unite people separated by even greater divisions, into one faith-filled body. This of course, requires much greater cooperation from the divided parties, as God never forces our will; if we bring the minimum desire for such a deep and lasting unity, it will surely be a reality. Unfortunately, such a desire requires great detachment and a readiness to 'lose' on different levels - one's material possessions, prestige, a sense of being in the right, position and power and a host of other benefits. Often this is what prevents the Eucharist from producing unity among Christians.
But where people are ready and willing to allow God's Spirit to prevail, marvelous examples of a deep and lasting unity are seen. Over the centuries, several splinter groups have rejoined the parent Church of Rome and now live in peace and harmony. The reunion of at least a part of the Jacobite Church in India to the Catholic Church in the 1930s is an example of this. Even in our own day, regular meetings are held among Christian Churches, all of which ensures that the thrust towards a complete unity is alive and there is hope that one day the prayer of Jesus will be fulfilled.
Unity in Diversity Yet, if such a deep and pervasive unity is to be achieved we have to realize that the kind of unity Jesus prays for is a unity in diversity: it is not the same as uniformity. The tendency in all of us is to equate unity with uniformity. However, from the very beginning, a marvellous unity in diversity existed among the various communities established by the apostles. Gradually, various divisions arose because of different reasons; could the main reason have been that Christians forgot what the very nature of unity is all about?
Jesus prayed for a unity among Christians based on the unity existing within the Blessed Trinity. But here we see that Father, Son and Spirit are three distinct Persons, each different from the Other and yet sharing their nature so fully that there is only one God. While we humans would never be able to attain that kind of unity, yet it is the ideal that Jesus places before us. In order to achieve this kind of unity in diversity, we would need to learn to value differences.
Another quality we would need is genuine trust in the other. Because the other person has a different way of expressing the truth, we should not be quick to believe that he is wrong and that only our way of expressing it is correct. If in the parable of the Wheat and the Weeds Jesus was prepared to allow the weeds to grow unchecked until harvest time, even though weeds are harmful to the growth of the wheat, how much more would he not want different varieties of wheat (but genuine wheat) growing side by side?
It is worth investigating why people are so intolerant of differences, especially where worship and service of God and neighbour are concerned. Maybe what we would discover underneath all our suspicion of one another is our own insecurities and lack of self-acceptance. Tolerating differences is not the same as compromising with the Truth. The latter can never be tolerated while the former calls for great inner emotional strength and assurance.
Again, the kind of unity Jesus wishes and prays for is not a 'live and let live' kind of approach where everyone does whatever he wills. It calls for a genuine respect for and trust in the other, and a readiness to collaborate at whatever levels and in whatever measure is possible at the present moment.
Practical Ways of Promoting Unity One simple way of fostering unity is to pray for other Christian churches [Join the HSI Prayer Circle and pray for Christian Unity], to look on their work with appreciation and gratitude, to thank the Lord for the people he touches through their ministries and so on. Further, we could meet with some of the members of other Churches and pray with them, or meet them over a cup of tea or in other forms of sharing. Knowing one another better and removing fear and misunderstanding as much as possible would in fact, go a long way towards building bridges and breaking down barriers. If we could also share some ministries together in a fraternal manner - that would help too.
The key point that we need to keep in mind is that celebrating the Eucharist as Jesus wanted us to, will not let us rest without doing something to further Christian unity within our own communities and also among various communities around us. Success is not ours to guarantee, but we can certainly make the necessary effort while leaving the rest to Jesus and his powerful Spirit. Where love and charity thrive, there God abides.

The Daily Eucharist
Celebrating the Eucharist every day allows us to be present to the one and same sacrifice of Jesus enacted on CalvaryYears ago, while I was teaching at the Papal Athenaeum (Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth), Pune, one of the seminarians asked me a pointed question: ´┐ŻWhy should our bishops and staff members insist on our attendance at the daily Eucharist? After all, in the early Church, the Mass was said apparently only once a week. The superiors should leave us free in this matter and allow us to grow in maturity and freedom.´┐Ż Then he said, ´┐ŻFather, what is your personal conviction and practice about the daily Eucharist? Is it so important and meaningful to you?´┐Ż I said to him, ´┐ŻYes, I never skip or drop my celebration of the daily Eucharist, unless I am impeded by some unavoidable circumstance from doing so.´┐Ż
And I shared with him my personal reflection about the Eucharist: My celebration of the Eucharist depends ultimately on who Jesus is to me in my personal life as a Christian. If Jesus is my personal Lord, Saviour, my divinely human and humanly divine companion and intimate, unfailing friend, I shall always do spontaneously and with all my heart what He has asked me to do. Everything depends on this personal relationship between Jesus and me. If He has asked me to ´┐ŻDo this in memory of Me´┐Ż, I shall certainly do it as often as I can.
By way of illustration let me narrate the following story in the life of a young man. His name was John. He was engaged to a very noble and beautiful girl, Mary. In a couple of years they were going to get married. They truly loved each other with a single-minded attachment: really meant for each other. Once it happened that Mary had to go with her parents for about three months to a remote village in a distant country. There was no Internet or mobile or even a proper telephone system. The two would be away from each other for such a long period. But she had to go.
The night before Mary´┐Żs departure, John had been to her house. Both were sitting together. Tears were welling in the eyes of both. It was time now for John to wish ´┐ŻHappy Journey´┐Ż to Mary and her parents. At that moment Mary put her hand in her pocket and removed a small handkerchief. She wiped her tears with it; she wiped John´┐Żs tears also with it and after kissing it lovingly gave it to him saying, ´┐ŻJohn, treasure this with you till I come back. And do me a favour: every morning when you get up, you kiss it as a remembrance of my love for you. Do this until I return.´┐Ż John never missed to do what Mary had asked him. Why? Because Mary meant so much - in fact, everything - to him. It was Mary who had asked him to do it.
Coming back to the theme of the celebration of the Eucharist in my life, as to how often I should celebrate it, the answer ultimately depends upon who Jesus is to me. There are very few instances in the Gospels where Jesus has told His close disciples explicitly to do something. One is: ´┐ŻLove one another as I have loved you´┐Ż. The other is: ´┐ŻDo this in memory of me´┐Ż. If Jesus has asked me to do this in remembrance of Him, I´┐Żll do it as often as I can, in fact daily if possible, because of my relationship of love and loyalty to Him. Unlike the situation and practice in the early Church, we are privileged in our times that the Eucharist is celebrated daily in most Catholic churches. This gives a wonderful opportunity for us to meet our Lord and renew our contact with Him in a sacramental way and receive Him as He gives Himself to us totally (His body and blood) and personally in His act of self-sacrificing love.
The passage in which Jesus gives this command to the disciples, is found in 1 Cor.11: 23-27 (cf. Also Lk. 22:19-20). This is the earliest written account in the New Testament about the institution of the Eucharist. St Paul tells the Corinthian Christians: ´┐Ż23 I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ´┐ŻThis is My body, which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance (eis´┐Żanamnesin) of Me.´┐Ż 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ´┐ŻThis cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance (eis...anamnesin) of me´┐Ż. 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim (katangellete) the Lord´┐Żs death until He comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.
We notice that every time the disciples do the action of ´┐Żeating this bread and drinking the cup´┐Ż, they ´┐Żproclaim the Lord´┐Żs death´┐Ż. It means that the disciples announce as good news here and now in the present that the Lord Jesus is dying on the Cross and the salvific effects or fruits of His sacrificial death are now received by the disciples in the Eucharistic meal.
The disciples´┐Ż eating of ´┐Żthe bread´┐Ż signifies their actual communion or sharing (koinonia) with the body (=´┐Żperson´┐Ż, according to the Bible) of the Lord. The drinking of ´┐Żthe cup´┐Ż signifies their actual sharing in the blood (=´┐Żlife´┐Ż) of the Lord. About this truth St Paul, while warning the Christians of Corinth to shun idol worship and pagan sacrifices, reminds them of the following words: ´┐ŻThe cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation (koinonia) in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation (koinonia) in the body of Christ?´┐Ż (1 Cor. 10:16).
In other words, in the Eucharistic meal the risen Lord shares His own life with the disciples here and now. Hence it becomes a real proclamation, a grateful and joyous celebration for the community of disciples. The past event of Calvary becomes truly present to the disciples. The Eucharist becomes a re-enactment in the present or actualisation of the once-and-for-all past event of Jesus´┐Ż death on the Cross, and they receive in the action of the Lord´┐Żs Supper its salvific fruits. We saw that in the action of eating the body of Christ and drinking His blood, the disciples proclaim the death of the Lord. And this very action they do ´┐Żin remembrance´┐Ż of the Lord. This is evident from the adverb ´┐Żfor´┐Ż at the beginning of the verse 26.
What does this ´┐Żin (eis) remembrance´┐Ż of Me´┐Ż imply? The Greek eis would imply that the disciples´┐Ż action ´┐ŻDo this´┐Ż is for the purpose of remembrance of Jesus, or in order to recall, bring to their mind, Jesus. So this ´┐Żremembrance´┐Ż (anamnesis) is not an act of the mind, when we think of someone, for example, our dead, but it refers to an action (Do this´┐Ż) of the disciples, which causes remembrance and makes present to them a past event of Jesus´┐Ż redemptive death. We may say, the risen Lord himself now becomes present to them in His action of dying for them in self-giving love, and communicates to them the salvific fruits of His sacrifice. This actualisation of the past event of Calvary brings to their mind (anamnesis) who their Lord is and how much He loves them in His giving himself for them and to them totally and completely: ´┐ŻAll that I am and all that I have, I give for your sake completely. See how much I love you´┐Ż (cf. Gal. 2:20: ´┐ŻHe loved me and gave Himself up for me´┐Ż).
So real is this Eucharistic action (and not just a mental, psychological or affective act), that St Paul reminds the Christians, saying: ´┐ŻWhoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and the blood of the Lord´┐Ż (1 Cor. 11:27). ´┐ŻDo this in memory of ME´┐Ż It is important to note that the Eucharistic action brings to the mind of the disciples not only the action of Jesus in his self-giving love for all on the Cross, but the person of Jesus (´┐Żin memory of ME´┐Ż).
The Eucharist is the actualisation of the event that was Jesus: His person, His mission and all that He lived and stood for. So the action of dying on the Cross on the part of Jesus includes by implication all that led Jesus to acceptance on the cross, namely the mission which He continues to the end in obedience to the Father´┐Żs will and in love for all human beings. In the total giving of His body and blood Jesus sums up the gift of His entire life and His constant fidelity to His identity and mission. So the command of the Lord to His disciples at the Eucharistic meal to remember Him is an exhortation to renew their contact experientially and really with Him, the source of their new life in God. That is the purpose of the ´┐Żmemory´┐Ż or ´┐Żremembrance´┐Ż.
In this renewal of their contact with the Lord Jesus, as they ´┐Żeat His body and drink His blood, they have eternal life´┐Ż, they ´┐Żabide in Him and He in them´┐Ż (John 6:54,56). Their union with Him and with one another becomes more intimate and strong. And as Jesus assimilates the disciples to Himself and even transforms them into Himself, He also involves them in His mission and work. St Paul exhorts us Christians to ´┐Żwalk in love (agape) as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God´┐Ż (Eph. 5:2). The Corinthian Christians were reprimanded by Paul precisely because they were not living the Lord´┐Żs Supper in their community gatherings.
One final point in the disciples´┐Ż celebration of the Eucharist as ´┐Żdoing this in memory of Me´┐Ż and the ´┐Żproclamation of the death of the Lord´┐Ż needs some comment: How to accept this mystery of a past action that exerts an efficacy down the centuries? Xavier Leon-Dufour, S.J. has suggested the following symbolic analogy: Day after day we repeat: ´┐ŻThe sun is risen,´┐Ż even though we know perfectly well that the sun does not ´┐Żrise´┐Ż, and that on the contrary, the earth each morning enters the presence of the sun, the centre of the system in which it exists. The same holds for the action of Jesus in sacrificing Himself for all human beings.
He is henceforth the centre of the ´┐ŻChristian system´┐Ż in as much as He is the one on whom all depend and from whom all receive eternal life. Day after day I say that I am actualising that action, rendering it present; I know perfectly well, however, that the contrary alone is true. Each morning I become present to the sacrifice of Jesus which, though an action within past time, has a supra temporal dimension and allows me to be present to it despite the distance created by time which from my point of view flows on unceasingly and inexorably. As a result, time itself acquires not only a footing in eternity but a dynamism that is solidly rooted in the saving act of God and opens me to an all-embracing reconciliation. (Sharing the Eucharistic Bread, Paulist Press, New 1987,.116)Fr Francis Periera, S.J.

God Experience in the Eucharist
There are many factors that can make the Liturgy, specially the Eucharist a God-experience, that is an encounter with the living God who reaches out to us through the incarnate word, Jesus Christ. Though there is no human guarantee for such an experience, we can facilitate it.
Living in God´┐Żs presence:
One way is to make an effort to see God in all creation, in the people we meet daily and in the events of life. If we do not meet him in this way it becomes difficult to experience him in the Eucharist. But the liturgy, specially the mass bubbles with life when we are energized by the Spirit.
As a Person God reaches out to persons: Another channel of God-experience is the personal touch in the celebration. God does not deal with a nameless crowd. He baptizes not a group of persons but Joshua, Nirmala, Manisha etc. The ideal is not bigger churches, but smaller ones so that those who gather relate to one another so personally that in that very encounter they can experience Christ who is in their midst (Mt. 18/20) Of course a big celebration like a wedding, funeral or Ordination can be personalized and participative. But this is more easily brought about in a smaller community expressing itself in gestures, postures, signs and symbols, song and dance and even silence.
Responding to felt needs of the parish community: Another factor to facilitate God-experience would be the way in which the celebration expresses the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the people who actually form that community. It means that the Celebrant specially should recognize and understand the world in which we live, its expectations, longings and its often dramatic traits. Most of all be aware of the way his parishioners think and behave. When the local community experience that their life is celebrated, the whole celebrating community can become a channel of a God-experience.
Joy, Enthusiasm and Conviction:
Many masses lack the element of celebration. For convenience, people attend mass in different churches. As strangers to one another they do not see any reason for relating to one another, still less form a community, even temporary. So the celebrant has to make them feel ´┐Żat home´┐Ż by a smile and warm words of welcome. Rather than have a fixed, solemn gaze he should look around in a familiar manner and himself be excited about the celebration, urging those present to participate whole-heartedly.
How often we forget that God is excited about His own plan of Love and is determined to see it through! His Son´┐Żs incarnation manifests the sincerity of God´┐Żs determination. Liturgical celebrations, like the Eucharist, should radiate God´┐Żs joy. They should proclaim and celebrate our conviction and enthusiasm about God´┐Żs eternal plan. According to the age, culture and type of participants the celebrant is expected to make the celebration, joyful, festive, fraternal and meditative.
Conclusion: Of course not all the members of the congregation will agree and feel at ease with the ways of celebration. This is no cause for worry. We are different and unique. The congregation should be challenged to grow in openness and in our understanding of others. Let us also not expect every mass to be original, fresh and fascinating. ´┐ŻWe want creativity. But periods of calm and reflection and the ordinary rhythm of daily life are needed for creativity that springs from genuine depth. To destroy or taste for the ordinary is to interfere with the foundation of our life. To enjoy the unusual, we must have a steady taste for the usual.´┐Ż (Ladislaus Orsy, S.J.) (Adapted from ´┐ŻGod-experience in the Liturgy´┐Ż by Gerwin van Leeuwen O.F.M.)

LIVING A EUCHARISTIC LIFE
There is nothing magical about the Eucharist. Jesus is not at the beck and call of every priest who at the Consecration suddenly makes him present where he did not exist before. He does not appear in a vacuum, leaping down from heaven. His presence is situated in a whole network of relationships, a network of presences in and for the community. In other words, there are different ways in which Jesus is present to us and all of these are related to the Eucharist where these modes of presence converge.
To think of Jesus´┐Ż presence in the Eucharist as a form of local presence is restricting and static. The Eucharistic presence goes beyond saying that Jesus is ´┐Żthere´┐Ż in that host or tabernacle. Rather we are speaking of contact with the living Lord himself, Body & Blood. This is a personal encounter with the risen Christ and as such requires our presence and response as well.
The Eucharist is a gift to us in whom Jesus already lives by his Spirit. It is the summit of all the other ways or modes of presence which come together in the Eucharist. It is given to nourish the life already begun in us. Jesus is present in many ways to serve His Mystical Body. We here consider just three ways.
First of all in the Community of the baptized. The presence of Jesus at mass is an offered presence. It is offered to those who celebrate the mystery of their being Church. Jesus is already present in those gathered in his name. His sacramental presence is not an end in itself. It is meant to nourish the inner life of those who receive him in Holy Communion. St. Aug. captures this graphically when he says: ´┐ŻIf you are the Body of Christ and his members, it is your mystery which has been placed on the altar of the Lord; you receive your own mystery. You answer ´┐ŻAmen´┐Ż to what your are.´┐Ż This Eucharistic presence challenges us to live like Christ. As we grow into the likeness of Jesus and bring to the Eucharist a faith-filled presence, the Eucharistic Christ will become more and more enfleshed within us.
econdly, Jesus is present in the person of the priest. But we do not think of him as merely having the power to change bread & wine into the Body & Blood of Christ. Rather, as the visible sign of both the believing community and the head of that community, Christ Himself. The priest is an active sign of Jesus gathering us to share in his banquet. As the living sign of Christ his ability to preside in his name comes from his pastoral ministry of Christ-like mercy & compassion. In the Eucharist the priest mirrors the continuing service of Jesus to his brethren.
Thirdly, Jesus is present in the word and in the Eucharistic prayer. Christ´┐Żs presence in the word does not end with the homily. The fulfillment of God´┐Żs saving word is yet to take place in the commitment of the Church to God we call the Eucharistic Prayer. It is during and because of the Eucharistic Prayer that Christ´┐Żs sacramental presence is effected. The united action of the word and the Holy Spirit during mass makes our entire life of faith. Moved by God´┐Żs word we live his law of love. Thanks to the Holy Spirit the power of that word enables us to live like Christ each living moment.
So we see that the Eucharistic presence of Christ is not his sudden appearance in a place where till now he was absent. He was already present in the assembly of the faithful, in the priest and in his word. His presence is intensified and becomes redemptive because of our understanding & belief in the three modes or ways he is really present to us. To repeat what we considered earlier: The Eucharist is a personal encounter with the Risen Christ and as such requires our presence and response as well.
An important consideration: The historical Jesus is really absent. His sacramental presence is that of one person to another. It requires our response to make us instruments of salvation to our full capacity. In this sense, Jesus´┐Ż presence is offered to us and awaits our response, an acceptance and recognition of love and faith. Without this, it is like a hand of friendship that is offered but never clasped. This encounter that Jesus seeks to bring about is the heart of the Eucharistic mystery.
Jesus waits our recognition and response. This response is not shown by emotional feelings of piety and reverence. Rather by living as Jesus lived, loving one another as he has loved us. The Eucharistic presence is not some object or person that we keep and worship. It is part of the total reality of Christ´┐Żs presence to his people ´┐Ż a far richer concept.
We are also made aware of the purpose of Christ´┐Żs presence. We are brought face to face with him as were the first disciples. We can ignore him, pick and choose the things we like, or commit ourselves entirely to him in loving response. It is this total response Jesus looks for from us. The Eucharistic presence of Christ is at the heart of the Church. But it will be a redeeming presence for us only if the whole mystery of Christ´┐Żs life is accepted and lived. Only in this way will the Church become the presence of Jesus in the world. ( Abridged and adapted from ´┐ŻBread broken and shared´┐Ż by Fr Paul Bernier,S.S.S. )

SUNDAY MASS SHOULD BE SEEN AS A JOY
Sunday Mass is not an imposition but a joy and a need for Catholics, says Benedict XVI. The Pope delivered that message from the window of his study recently before praying the Angelus with the more than 40,000 people gathered below in St. Peter´┐Żs Square.
The Holy Father´┐Żs brief address was centred on the Year of the Eucharist, which closes with a synod of the world´┐Żs bishops this October in Rome. Pope John Paul II had convoked the Year of the Eucharist ´┐Żto reawaken ever more, in the consciences of believers, wonder toward this great Sacrament,´┐Ż said Benedict XVI, eliciting applause from his listeners several times.

In this singular Eucharistic time, one of the recurring topics is Sunday, the Day of the Lord, a topic that was also at the centre of the recent Italian Eucharistic Congress, held in Bari,´┐Ż he said. Benedict XVI attended the close of the Congress May 29, 2005.
A need :´┐ŻDuring the conclusive celebration,´┐Ż the Holy Father continued, ´┐ŻI also underlined how participation at Sunday Mass must be seen by a Catholic not as an imposition or weight, but as a need and joy. ´┐ŻTo meet with brothers, to listen to the Word of God and to be nourished of Christ, immolated for us, is an experience that gives meaning to life, which infuses peace in the heart. Without Sunday, we Catholics cannot live.´┐Ż Noting the large crowd in St. Peter´┐Żs Square, the Holy Father noted: ´┐ŻItalian pilgrims are very numerous, as always. Thank you for your enthusiasm.´┐Ż (End O talk by Pope Benedict)
Eucharist: "The Sunday precept is not, therefore, an externally-imposed duty, a burden on our shoulders. On the contrary, taking part in the celebration, being nourished by the Eucharistic bread and experiencing the communion of their brothers and sisters in Christ is a need for Christians, it is a joy; Christians can thus replenish the energy they need to continue on the journey we must make every week" -- homily during the closing Mass of the Italian National Eucharistic Congress in Bari, May 29.
The peak of all Christian healing, especially in deeper faith, hope and love on a spiritual plane should be found in our frequent and devout reception of the Holy Eucharist In this sacrament we approach God the consuming fire with great expectancy´┐Ż.that the deep roots of sinfulness in us will be replace with a new surge of God´┐Żs eternal resurrectional life in us. Of all the sacraments, the Eucharist is the climax because here Jesus Christ gives himself unto eternal life. Here w must experience a sharing un His glorious Resurrection as the Spirit dissolves in us our lack of love for God and for neighbour (Fr. George Maloney on the Eucharist).

BREAD FOR A NEW WORLD
The existing world order is contrary to the values of the Eucharist. For most of the world´┐Żs people it is poverty, hunger and suffering. The world exploits greedily but the Eucharis implies sharing in love. The world is racist, the Eucharist Universalist. The world is arrogant domination; the Eucharist is the sacrament of humble service. The Eucharist is bread for the multitudes. The world is just bread for trade. Is it possible to continue celebrating the Eucharist and remain unconcerned about national and international poverty and injustice?
The Eucharist today offers us comfort. It has little courage to challenge. It is ready to console and edify. It does not break self satisfaction and shatter our indifference. The trouble is the Eucharist has become doctrine, institution and security. It is not an event but routine ritual.
Properly understood, the Eucharist is Jesus telling us that we are capable of sacrifice, discipline, of moral and spiritual courage. Human nature must constantly be challenged by Jesus and Mark´┐Żs Gospel helps us to do that. The fact that 12 baskets remained neatly provides one for each apostle. It is the task of Jesus´┐Ż disciples down through the ages to distribute the blessings that Jesus brought to the world.
Why was so much bread left over? Mark answers the question in Ch 7 where ritualism of religion can prevent just distribution. The Pharisees developed human traditions about partaking in meals which excluded the ritually impure from participation. Today such an attitude shows itself in the liturgical and social areas. In the liturgy we are more concerned about the proper bread and wine to be used, the postures and decorum to be observed than our brothers and sisters who participate. We categorize those who are worthy and those who are unworthy to share in Christ´┐Żs cup and salvation. Socially, we are indifferent to the needs of our neighbour, perhaps even our poor relations, while we give generously at the Offertory. Jesus gives us a clue to our narrow behaviour. He says it is not what comes into us from outside that defile us but what comes out from our hearts: greed, malice, deceit, envy arrogance.
There is still another reason why bread is still left over: we restrict salvation- food only to ´┐Żthe chosen people´┐Ż. We limit our help to our own parish, church, community and religious group rather than give to all in need whoever they may be. The miracles of the loaves and fish tell us of the abundance with which Jesus graces us, abundance which is more than enough for everyone. Yet we fear that we will be depriving ourselves.
On the international level, we have seen such selfishness recently in the G8 summit. The rich and developed nations agreed to give a few billions to the African countries but were not prepared to wipe out their debt. The Eucharist has tremendous power to bring about personal and global transformation. If Christians did what Jesus taught by his own example when he took, blessed, broke and gave bread to be distributed, many of the world´┐Żs problems at the personal and institutional levels would be solved.
(Abridged & Adapted from ´┐ŻBread For A New World´┐Ż by Fr. Paul Bernier,S.S.S.)

HOLY COMMUNION A UNION OF HEARTS
Our Eucharistic celebration propels us into a deep union with Jesus, the goal of which is Holy Communion. If we are to be one with Him in Holy Communion then we must be willing to sacrifice ourselves to the Father as he did. When we consume the consecrated bread and wine we affirm that we are willing to live as he lives, totally dedicated to the Father and His values and totally sacrificing ourselves for others.
To the degree to which we are intending to live in deep relationship with Jesus, we will then be willing to come into union with others, simply because that is the way he lives. Only by choosing to be like Jesus do we receive Communion with integrity and sincerity. This spiritual union with Christ and others is what it means to be the Body of Christ. Communion is one important way Jesus creates His Body on earth.
From God´┐Żs heart flows all that is good, and so as we rest in His heart in Holy Communion we are consumed by Him, filled with Him, re-vitalized in Him, provided we have consciously united ourselves with the bread and wine. Because with the transformed gifts we enter into Jesus´┐Ż heart. We are now filled with him because we have emptied ourselves of all desires other than to be close to Him.
As we are filled with God, we can be nothing but filled with new life- that is re-vitalized, renewed, transformed, healed and humanized. For we are at the origin of our human natures when we are in our Father´┐Żs heart, and He knows what we need, what we seek and what we are capable of doing. Communion is that union of our hearts with God´┐Żs that brings life to fulfillment in us. In this way the Eucharist expands and humanizes our egos, allowing the best in us to be freed and expressed.
Testimony of Fr Dobson: There was a time when the sacrifice God asked of me was my apostolate. It was one that I loved and one in which I found deep meaning for my life. I was confused, wondering whether the idea for the apostolate that had fallen apart was mine or God´┐Żs. I agonized with this question through sleepless nights and long hours with my spiritual director and friends.
My problem became all too clear. I knew I must sacrifice the lost apostolate to God. I gave my life to Him, but then quickly added my expectations of how He should take care of me. I was afraid. My sacrifice was not unconditional. Then, attending a conference I was told by friends that I had to give up my apostolate to God because I loved Him, not out of fear of Him.
I celebrated mass giving my life and apostolate to God, with great effort focusing on Him first and on what I wanted second. I did not suggest to Him what I thought the outcome in my life should be. When I received the Body & Blood of Jesus, I believed with everything in me that God was transforming me and purifying me of my attachments to the apostolate. Then the miracle took place. Everything in me broke free and my last attachment the apostolate I so loved was shattered. I was free to find a new direction in which God was leading my life. To my surprise, in a few days God sent me on a new mission in which He blessed me with all I could ever hope for. The personal freedom and faith that came from the Eucharist was the result of His love breaking my unconditional clinging to a thing in which I had found great security, and filling me with a clinging to Him.
To we see how the Eucharist brings us to an experience of love that frees us from needing anything else. It prepares us little by little for the experience of being in God´┐Żs hands as we know it in this life, and as we shall know it in the next. The Eucharist gently and persistently reminds us that all we have for security in this life is God alone. Every other security is an illusion.. In the Eucharist we come to know that love which is strong enough to be our security in every situation. From the experience of His love, as we rest in His heart, we learn to love. We find out that to love is the most perfect attitude, for it guides us into that selflessness that makes us whole and holy. (Adapted from ´┐ŻA Union Of Hearts´┐Ż by Fr. Theodore Dobson )

HOLY COMMUNION AND CHANGE
Holy Communion is all about change. The Eucharist is Christ changing the world.. He changes our gifts; he changes our worship; he changes us. At the start of the Eucharist our gifts are simply bread and wine, the signs of our ordinary life which we wish to give to God. By the time Communion these gifts have become Christ´┐Żs Body and Blood. All this is part of God´┐Żs design that through these gifts we be changed, so that we in turn might help him in changing the world.
Truly, the action of God is wonderful. It can, if we allow it, change us from within, changing not only our ideas but our hearts, our habits and our inmost selves. In the Eucharist through the Holy Spirit, Christ changes bread and wine into his own Body & Blood, because his purpose is to change us. The same deep reaching action of the Spirit of God, which changes our gifts, is going to change our hearts, which the gifts represent. We do not see any change in the external appearances of our offerings. Yet, while the outer appearances remain the same our faith believes that the inner reality has been changed. This is what we mean by Transubstantiation.
Similarly with the change in ourselves. On receiving Holy Communion we cannot always feel differently. A change may or may not take place in our feelings, but the inner change is the one Our Lord is most concerned about, and that is something which goes to the very depths of our being. A change which reaches below the surface of our moods and feelings. It helps us to grow slowly into the fullness of Christ.
Just as we need faith to accept the change of bread and wine, so we need faith to accept the reality of this inner change in grace. St. Paul tells us that we are being renewed everyday. (2Cor. 4/16) We are being changed into the likeness of Christ. (2Cor. 3/8) The great saints of the Eastern Church tell us that we are being transformed, transfigured, and divinized by the growing reality of Christ within us.
Transfiguration: For just one blinding moment the inner reality of Christ, hidden all along suddenly shines before His three disciples. St Ephraim tells us that just as Christ´┐Żs clothing covered the weakness of his body, so his body veiled the splendour of his divine nature. . But on the mountain, his divinity shone through his body and his face dazzled them like the sun. Scripture tells us that something similar is going to happen to us. ´┐ŻThen shall the just shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father´┐Ż. (Mt. 13/43)

When the Word was made flesh, it was not just a wonder for a day and then was all over. It was rather the beginning of a process.. The Word being made flesh was part of a great plan by which all flesh, all humankind would be transformed into a state of being which the human heart has never dreamed of. ´┐ŻHeaven is where we belong, and from there we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transfigure these bodies of our lowliness to be like his glorious body, according to the power by which he can subdue all things to himself.´┐Ż (Plilips. 3/20)
A New Earth: Not just the followers of Christ but the whole of Creation will be enveloped in change. On the Last Day there will be a new heaven and a new earth. (Apoc. 21/1) The whole of creation will be set free. ( Rom. 8/20). The Cosmic Christ, the centre of the Universe will be all in all.(Col. 3/11). He will celebrate a truly cosmic Liturgy when he hands over all things into the hands of his Father, so that God may be all in all. (1Cor. 15/8)
But the future is prepared for in the present, as the transfiguration of the universe is already under way. In making his love a reality among us, Christ is changing the world. By communicating his divine life to us he is transfiguring the human race. We see this clearly in the lives of the saints and is already a fact in all who are living the life of grace. Christ is helping us to grow in love, and live transfigures those whom it touches.
Eucharist as Centre: At the centre of the transfiguration of the universe stands the Eucharist. The early saints referred to the change of the bread and wine as the transfiguration. How else will that preparation for a new heaven and a new earth be carried on if not by the Sacrament of the Altar? It is above all at the Centre of the Eucharist that Christ is working for the transfiguration of the universe. One day Jesus will transfigure our bodies in the resurrection from the dead. By this same power he will subdue and transfigure the entire universe. Now by this same power he changes bread and wine into his Body & Blood.
The transfiguration of the universe started on the morning of the Resurrection when Christ´┐Żs body rose from the dead. It is continued in every mass as bread and wine are changed into his glorified Body and Precious Blood. Our humble gifts, that is, our weak and sinful lives are touched by something of that final mystery and conflagration. We believe that such extraordinary things are taking place because at the centre of the Eucharist is the divine nature of Christ. The mystery of transfiguration in the Eucharist is possible because Christ is the Son of God. ´┐ŻEye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the human heart to conceive the things God has prepared for those who love him´┐Ż. (1Cor. 2/9)
( Abridged & adapted from ´┐ŻThe Splendid Eucharist´┐Ż by Fr. Raymond Moloney S.J.)

SUNDAY MASS SHOULD BE SEEN AS A JOY Sunday Mass is not an imposition but a joy and a need for Catholics, says Benedict XVI. The Pope delivered that message from the window of his study recently before praying the Angelus with the more than 40,000 people gathered below in St. Peter´┐Żs Square.
The Holy Father´┐Żs brief address was centred on the Year of the Eucharist, which closes with a synod of the world´┐Żs bishops this October in Rome. Pope John Paul II had convoked the Year of the Eucharist ´┐Żto reawaken ever more, in the consciences of believers, wonder toward this great Sacrament,´┐Ż said Benedict XVI, eliciting applause from his listeners several times.
In this singular Eucharistic time, one of the recurring topics is Sunday, the Day of the Lord, a topic that was also at the centre of the recent Italian Eucharistic Congress, held in Bari,´┐Ż he said. Benedict XVI attended the close of the Congress May 29, 2005.
A need :´┐ŻDuring the conclusive celebration,´┐Ż the Holy Father continued, ´┐ŻI also underlined how participation at Sunday Mass must be seen by a Catholic not as an imposition or weight, but as a need and joy. ´┐ŻTo meet with brothers, to listen to the Word of God and to be nourished of Christ, immolated for us, is an experience that gives meaning to life, which infuses peace in the heart. Without Sunday, we Catholics cannot live.´┐Ż Noting the large crowd in St. Peter´┐Żs Square, the Holy Father noted: ´┐ŻItalian pilgrims are very numerous, as always. Thank you for your enthusiasm.´┐Ż (End O talk by Pope Benedict)
Eucharist: "The Sunday precept is not, therefore, an externally-imposed duty, a burden on our shoulders. On the contrary, taking part in the celebration, being nourished by the Eucharistic bread and experiencing the communion of their brothers and sisters in Christ is a need for Christians, it is a joy; Christians can thus replenish the energy they need to continue on the journey we must make every week" -- homily during the closing Mass of the Italian National Eucharistic Congress in Bari, May 29.
The peak of all Christian healing, especially in deeper faith, hope and love on a spiritual plane should be found in our frequent and devout reception of the Holy Eucharist In this sacrament we approach God the consuming fire with great expectancy´┐Ż.that the deep roots of sinfulness in us will be replace with a new surge of God´┐Żs eternal resurrectional life in us. Of all the sacraments, the Eucharist is the climax because here Jesus Christ gives himself unto eternal life. Here w must experience a sharing un His glorious Resurrection as the Spirit dissolves in us our lack of love for God and for neighbour (Fr. George Maloney on the Eucharist).

SHOUTS OF JOY IN THE EUCHARIST
He´┐Żs a Jolly Good Fellow, Cheers, Congratulations are lively tome honoured ´┐Żshouts of joy´┐Ż that make our picnics, parties and get-togethers complete. Even when we have no time , space or money for an elaborate party, we never omit such cheerful greetings because they quickly and potently sum up the celebration.
The Acclamations: The Church´┐Żs Liturgy also has its own enthusiastic refrains. The Liturgy of the Word incorporates eager one-liners before and after the gospel. The Liturgy of the Eucharist has three exuberant acclamations: the Holy, Holy, Holy; the Memorial and the Great Amen. Such acclamations are spirited, public demonstrations of esteem and approval. These shouts of joy run through the Mass, briefly yet powerfully declaring the faith of the assembly. They are the key songs of our celebration and deserve careful planning.
Some parts of the Mass belong to the rite itself and are of prime importance ´┐Żthe Gloria, Responsorial Psalm, Acclamations; while others accompany a rite-the songs during the processions viz., Entrance, Offertory, Communion and Recession. To quote a few Church documents: ´┐Ż the acclamations foster and bring about communion between priest and people. In choosing parts to be sung, preference should be given to those sung by the priest with the people responding. In selecting the parts that are to be sung, one should start with those of greater importance. Others may be gradually added.´┐ŻIf tunes for the liturgy´┐Żs acclamations are selected first, our Church´┐Żs services would at once turn into joyous celebrations of and by the people.
The Sanctus: We hear many homemade versions of the Holy, Holy at our Masses. Some examples: ´┐ŻHosanna, Hosanna´┐ŻLord we lift up your Name´┐Ż ´┐ŻLet all that is within m cry Holy,´┐Ż.´┐Ż ´┐ŻI´┐Żll sing a song to you Lord´┐Ż´┐Ż The only one approved is what we have in the text of the Missal. This text joins the Song of the Angels in the vision of Isaiah (6/3) in the temple of Jerusalem to the one sung unceasingly in the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 4/8) After our lips sanctified spiritually as Isaiah was done by the burning coal 6/6) we pray that God may pour out his Holy Spirit upon the gifts placed on the altar.
The Memorial Acclamation; It´┐Żs a shout of joy that follo9ws the words of Consecration. It remembers the Paschal Mystery, past, present and future. It calls for singing with a tune that matches the Holy, Holy. The four different acclamations focus people´┐Żs attention on the core of the Mass and sets a platform for the Celebrant´┐Żs Memorail prayer that follows. Each acclamation brings out the theme of the feast, season or Sunday that lend variety to our celebrations.
The Doxology: the priest sings this alone. The congregation ratifies it by the ´┐ŻGreat Amen´┐Ż. Since Jesus ois our ´┐ŻAmen´┐Ż, our ´┐ŻYes´┐Ż to God this concluding word of praise is sung ´┐Żthrough Him, with Him, and in Him´┐Ż (2Cor. 1/20) Let the Great Amen sound like a thunderclap, just as it did among the early Christians.. It is a sign of the heart´┐Żs joy.
Mother Church desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the Liturgy and to which the Christian people have a right and obligation by their Baptism which has made priestly people. This is the aim to be considered before all else in the restoration of the liturgy.
The Checklists: To help song leaders and choirs to handle these recommendations I have written 50 versions of the Holy, Holy , often with matching tunes for the Memorial and the Doxology. We can now use short, simple versions on weekdays, keeping special ones for Sundays and Feasts. This book, entitled ´┐Ż The Complete Mass Book´┐Ż includes a checklist to streamline and summarize the planning of every mass and to examine whether one respects the theme of the celebration. (Abridged from ´┐Ż Shouts Of joy In The Eucharist´┐Ż by Fr. Aniceto Nazareth)

BREAD FOR A NEW WORLD
The existing world order is contrary to the values of the Eucharist. For most of the world´┐Żs people it is poverty, hunger and suffering. The world exploits greedily but the Eucharis implies sharing in love. The world is racist, the Eucharist Universalist. The world is arrogant domination; the Eucharist is the sacrament of humble service. The Eucharist is bread for the multitudes. The world is just bread for trade. Is it possible to continue celebrating the Eucharist and remain unconcerned about national and international poverty and injustice?
The Eucharist today offers us comfort. It has little courage to challenge. It is ready to console and edify. It does not break self satisfaction and shatter our indifference. The trouble is the Eucharist has become doctrine, institution and security. It is not an event but routine ritual.
Properly understood, the Eucharist is Jesus telling us that we are capable of sacrifice, discipline, of moral and spiritual courage. Human nature must constantly be challenged by Jesus and Mark´┐Żs Gospel helps us to do that. The fact that 12 baskets remained neatly provides one for each apostle. It is the task of Jesus´┐Ż disciples down through the ages to distribute the blessings that Jesus brought to the world.
Why was so much bread left over? Mark answers the question in Ch 7 where ritualism of religion can prevent just distribution. The Pharisees developed human traditions about partaking in meals which excluded the ritually impure from participation. Today such an attitude shows itself in the liturgical and social areas. In the liturgy we are more concerned about the proper bread and wine to be used, the postures and decorum to be observed than our brothers and sisters who participate. We categorize those who are worthy and those who are unworthy to share in Christ´┐Żs cup and salvation. Socially, we are indifferent to the needs of our neighbour, perhaps even our poor relations, while we give generously at the Offertory. Jesus gives us a clue to our narrow behaviour. He says it is not what comes into us from outside that defile us but what comes out from our hearts: greed, malice, deceit, envy arrogance.
There is still another reason why bread is still left over: we restrict salvation- food only to ´┐Żthe chosen people´┐Ż. We limit our help to our own parish, church, community and religious group rather than give to all in need whoever they may be. The miracles of the loaves and fish tell us of the abundance with which Jesus graces us, abundance which is more than enough for everyone. Yet we fear that we will be depriving ourselves. On the international level, we have seen such selfishness recently in the G8 summit. The rich and developed nations agreed to give a few billions to the African countries but were not prepared to wipe out their debt. The Eucharist has tremendous power to bring about personal and global transformation. If Christians did what Jesus taught by his own example when he took, blessed, broke and gave bread to be distributed, many of the world´┐Żs problems at the personal and institutional levels would be solved. (Abridged & Adapted from ´┐ŻBread For A New World´┐Ż by Fr. Paul Bernier,S.S.S.

Eucharist and Peace/Justice FR. Erasto Fernandez SSS. In our modern context we are conscious of the different levels at which injustices, inequalities and divisive forces exist among us; we read of them constantly in each day's news and so celebrating Eucharist as the gathering of all of God's beloved children must be a very challenging event for us. The political scenario of any country in today's world is rife with injustice, the rich exploiting the poor, the very systems of government set up to ensure that the rich continue to get richer at the expense of the under-privileged - all of this presents a very difficult yet challenging backdrop for a fruitful celebration of Eucharist.
If Jesus came to take away the sin of the world, then as we celebrate Eucharist we need to be keenly conscious of the presence of sin and division in our surroundings and much more within our own hearts and lives. Our very coming together for Eucharist says that we want to leave behind our sinful ways, that we will not place self at the center of our lives, but be always ready to break of ourselves for the sake of our brothers and sisters, especially the disadvantaged. The effect of sin is division not only of mankind from God, but also of one human being from another. Adam turned against Eve and blamed her as the cause of their downfall.
When Jesus through his dying-rising took away the sin of the world, he struck at the very roots of this division, so that all peoples could come together and live in harmony. The other then is no more seen as an enemy, a rival, a threat, a stranger or foreigner, but as a brother - different undoubtedly, but yet loved and cherished equally by the Father of us all. The measure in which we can live together in peace and harmony is the extent to which God's reign has come among us
. Jesus our Peace However, all these aspirations will remain as nothing more than wonderful wishes and hopes, failing to become a reality for us until we allow Jesus to grow within us through his Spirit. Only then will there be some hope of people living in peace. Paul put it this way: "But now in Christ Jesus, you that used to be so far apart from us have been brought very close by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace between us, and has made the two into one and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, actually destroying in his own person the hostility caused by the rules and decrees of the Law. This was to create one single New Man in himself out of the two of them and by restoring peace through the cross, to unite them both in a single body and reconcile them with God. In his own person he killed the hostility´┐ŻThrough him, both of us have in the one Spirit our way to come to the Father" (Eph. 2:13-22).
Further, Jesus is our Covenant with the Father and while each of us makes that covenant personally through our own personal 'yes', the consequence of our covenant with God is that we become brothers and sisters to one another. We cannot all be true children of God and not be brothers and sisters to one another at the same time. Now as children of the same Father we cannot afford to have the attitude of Cain who asked: 'Am I my brother's keeper?' So, we live in peace with one another and foster good in each person around us. Their growth and happiness is our happiness too.
This ideal of peace and harmony in the Christian community is portrayed beautifully in the early Church where we are told: "The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common. The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power and they were all given great respect. None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from them, to present it to the apostles; it was then distributed to any members who might be in need" (Acts 4:32-35). While we are today still miles away from having attained this ideal, yet that is the direction in which the Eucharist takes us.
Positive Peace Measures However, it must always be borne in mind that the peace that exists among Christians is not just the absence of war and strife. That would be only the negative side of Christian peace and unity; this kind of peace is sometimes called, 'the peace of the graveyard.' The true Christian not only avoids strife, but positively fosters all that promotes peace. If in the Eucharist the Christian is challenged to 'do this in memory of Me' and so like Christ to break himself for the other, then throughout the rest of the day, the Christian literally becomes 'bread broken' for the other. With his 'self' sacrificed at the Eucharist, the Christian can begin to be 'all things to all people' as Jesus himself was. He becomes an active agent of peace, concord and harmony.
Again, believing that each baptized Christian is Christ, a part of the mystical Body of Christ, he respects each person as he would respect Christ himself. This attitude cuts off all desire to take unjust advantage of the other, to exploit the other or to use the other for one's own gain. Not that this transformation happens or can happen all at once, yet each celebration of the Eucharist brings to the fore this tendency in all of us, inviting us to truly break of this sinful self within us. The Spirit of Jesus dwelling within us first of all points out to us the areas in which we are in complicity with Sin. Often what happens is that we have been so accustomed to un-Christ-like ways that we don't even notice what is wrong with our behaviour. And so, the Spirit first of all draws our attention to these areas.
At the same time he sows within our hearts the desire for a change, drawing us to work on this change step by step. We begin to understand the roots of our slavery to the ways of the world, to consumerism that makes us crave for more and more, often even at the expense of others around us. The Spirit further gives us the strength to uproot these evil tendencies in ourselves and walk along the path of justice and peace. Gradually we come to the point of having not just the absence of craving for these material things, but also a readiness to be despoiled of them, even unjustly. As long as we are close to Jesus, we don't mind the loss of all things: 'let them take it all' we are able to say with Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 19:25-30).
Eucharist, our Peace-building Bread When we pray the Lord's Prayer in the Eucharist, we ask the Father to give us each day our 'epiousios' bread - that very special bread that characterizes us as Christians: bread which is meant to be broken and shared with all, especially with those who are in need. But we cannot genuinely share with another unless we are at peace with him/them. For, our sharing is not just a disposal of the surplus we have onto others who do not have. It involves the genuine recognition of the worth of the other. So, the very act of sharing at Eucharist invites us to build bridges of peace and harmony so that our sharing may be effective and Christ-like.
All that we have said about sharing bread can be applied equally to sharing of forgiveness and other aspects of our lives. We pray that the forgiveness we ourselves ask for and receive, we will share (at the very same moment) with anyone who is in need of our forgiveness, even if he does not ask for it. Again, we cannot really forgive another without accepting him back into the circle of our friendship and love. Christian forgiveness is not a matter of merely saying 'forget about it - it does not matter.' It demands a breaching of the gap effected by sin. We must remember that when we do all this in and with Christ, share our bread, extend our forgiveness to others, we actually give glory to God and bring about his kingdom. With this kingdom among us, we shall all live in peace and harmony. Lord, You are our true Peace!

Sent on Mission Fr. Erasto Fernandez
We come now to the end of the celebration, but we immediately remind ourselves that the Eucharist and the values it inculcates never end. Ideally, we celebrate what we have lived which means that we bring our very lives to the celebration. But we also ought to live what we celebrate, taking the celebration with its principal attitudes, particularly thanksgiving, back into daily living. As the Preface reminds us: 'It is right to give him thanks and praise´┐Ż it is our duty and our salvation to praise God, always and everywhere' Having been enriched by the renewal of the covenant with the Father, having strengthened our living union with him through the Word and the Bread, we are sent out to sanctify the world through our very lives.
Eucharist, a Commitment From the way St. Luke's presents the Last Supper (22:14-38) we learn that for the Lukan Christians, celebrating the Eucharist was primarily an act of commitment to continue the work of building God's kingdom. They were reminded that in this process, the two great obstacles they already faced in achieving their objective were: Self portrayed by the betrayal of Judas and Fear personified in Peter's denial. Both of these were evident in the life of their communities and at times, even while they celebrated Eucharist. That these two are also prominently present in the lives of most of us is beyond doubt, yet the Lord assures us of his presence and of his Spirit to guide us at every step. So, as we conclude our celebration we are commissioned to go out and transform the world, to live out the transformation we ourselves have experienced in the Eucharist.
While this might sound a very daunting task, yet when we ask ourselves what it means to extend God's kingdom, the matter appears as very simple and clear. All that God asks of us is to spread the message and reality of his infinite and unconditional love - not just through words, but primarily in action. "Greater love than this no man has that he lay down his life for his friends." Having participated in the Eucharist, we ourselves become 'bread that is broken for a new world'. We remember Jesus' words to his apostles at the feeding of the five thousand: 'You yourselves give them something to eat!' Could this be translated also as" 'You give them yourselves to eat'? We break of ourselves constantly and give of our very being (and not just our material goods) to those who are in need thus ensuring that there is not a single person who is wanting in any way.
As far as possible, we seek to spread this attitude of self-giving among those we live with, knowing full well that not everyone will respond positively. Further, the persons who choose the path of selfishness and self-gain or fear will resent our very presence and will do everything in their power to make life difficult for us. And since Evil always seems to be more powerful than Good in practice, we would need to be ready even for persecution and death as we work to build God's kingdom of love.
The Mystery of Faith - Life through Death Yet, we recall what we have celebrated is the 'mystery of our faith': Christ has died but he is risen and will come again in glory. So we realize that if we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we too will have to embrace death (in all its forms: rejection, ridicule, ostracism, criticism and ultimately physical death too) - but that will not be the end of the story. Like Jesus and with Jesus we too will be raised to share in his eternal glory. Where this faith is really strong, Christians will do a lot to transform the world and make it a better place to live in, for themselves and for others.
In a world steeped in corruption and immorality, the Christian can and does stand out as an honest upright person who will not give, and much less receive, a bribe, who can be relied upon in everything and who honours his word, no matter what the consequences. When everyone around him tends to be lazy and reactive to all the negative situations prevailing, or confines himself to prayer as the only possible means of changing things, the Christian who lives his Eucharist can be and is proactive, even ready to sacrifice himself for the benefit of his brethren. He faces the challenge squarely and finds new and creative ways of living his mission of love. Thus, Christian living can be very demanding at times, requiring of us that we be totally selfless and fearless in our following of Christ.
In the Gospels Jesus describes the role and power of his followers in terms of them being the salt of the earth, the leaven in the dough and the light of the world. It is revealing to see what this really means in practice, when we tease out the deeper meaning of these metaphors. Firstly, all three objects are small and almost insignificant and yet possess a tremendous power to influence their surroundings. A small amount of each brings huge benefits and change in the prevailing situation. Secondly, each of the three is not meant for itself alone and its own growth and preservation: each is radically oriented towards something else. All three find their fulfillment precisely in giving of themselves to others. Thirdly, they do not draw attention to themselves except when they are absent in a given situation.
Thus, we immediately notice when a dish has no salt or even less salt than is necessary. But when there is sufficient salt, hardly anyone pays attention to salt as such: it is taken for granted. This is what the Christian is challenged to be and do - influence the world for the better silently yet effectively wherever he is, and that too just by being himself, by being what s/he is meant to be - bread broken for the life of the world.
Church: Community and Support Undoubtedly, we are helped in all this by the example and presence of other like-minded Christians who join hands with us. Thus, while it is very difficult for one Christian alone to publicly fight against injustice and oppression of the poor, or to redress an unjust situation in society, this becomes relatively easy when several get together as a body. And here too the Eucharist is our strength for it brings us together as a body, all sharing the same Word of God and hence having the same vision for world and society. At the Eucharist, all are nourished by the same food, Christ, and energized to produce the same effect: a world in which all live as brothers and sisters in harmony and love.
Thus, through Eucharist, we share a common vision of God's kingdom and equally we share our responsibilities in this task of bringing about this kingdom by each one contributing his/her special gifts and talents. When any one person fails, the others are there to correct, support, lift up and set him/her again on the path of fidelity. Thus bearing one another's burdens, the Church as a body, is Christ extended today in flesh and blood, working at his mission to spread God's kingdom here on earth.
It is helpful to recall that even with the best of cooperation from every single Christian, this work will always remain little, insignificant and apparently a failure. In the three comparisons referred to above: salt, light and yeast, the Church is indicated as being a tiny yet effective reality in the world. Besides, there are bound to be weeds among the wheat and wolves eager to devour the sheep, as Jesus himself foretold. Hence, we should not expect total success or even accolades for our work of building God's kingdom. Our true reward comes from him who sent us.
When Peter asked: 'Look, Lord, we have left everything to follow you; what about us?' Jesus replied: "Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life" (Mt. 19:27-29).
Luke records something similar in the context of the Last Supper, the farewell meal of Jesus: "You are the men who have stood by me faithfully in my trials; and now I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father conferred one on me: you will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and you will sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel." If we can put our faith in these words of Jesus we would have the courage to step out and change the world around us. But if we look for immediate rewards, we would soon be discouraged in the face of all the difficulties we encounter.
Sometimes, these obstacles will come from our own kith and kin, members of our own communities or even from our co-workers, people who we could have presumed would help us - but instead, they are the ones who pose all kinds of difficulties. At other times, it would be outsiders whose vested interests are threatened who will prove to be our major opponents.
In the Preface No. V for Sundays, we pray: ´┐Ż "All things are of your making, all times and seasons obey your laws, but you chose to create man in your own image, setting him over the whole world in all its wonder. You made man the steward of creation, to praise you day by day for the marvels of your wisdom and power, through Christ our Lord." Thus, each Eucharist we celebrate thrusts us forward towards the ultimate fulfillment of God's Kingdom, bouyed by our hope in Jesus' assurance: "do not be afraid, I have overcome the world." Even though we see very little by way of success, we continue, knowing that the work of Jesus is always an apparent failure. We need to go through death as we await the resurrection. Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to grant you the kingdom.

Mary ´┐Ż ´┐ŻWoman of the Eucharist
´┐ŻDuring this culturally tumultuous era, when secular culture rages against God and godliness, the upsurge in devotion to Our Lady is leading vast numbers of people to greater homage to Our Lord in the Eucharist. What of the many Eucharistic Chapels, opened in these latter years, affording time for quiet prayer and Eucharistic Vigils, directed to the Real Presence. Together with this, is the world-wide awakening to the age-old appreciation for perpetual adoration.
Against such a background, Our Holy Father´┐Żs encyclical ´┐ŻEcclesia de Eucharistica´┐Ż written in the 25th year of his pontificate, dedicated to Mary, is just perfectly timed. In Chapter 6, ´┐ŻMary and the Eucharist´┐Ż, Our Holy Father explores the profound relationship that Mary has with the Mystery of the Eucharist. He encourages us to find a deeper meaning in Mary´┐Żs Magnificat, which is an expression of her Spirituality. There is nothing greater than this Spirituality for helping us to experience the Mystery of the Eucharist. ´┐ŻLet us make every Magnificat we recite, a hymn of thanks to Mary and through her, to God, for the Most Holy Eucharist´┐Ż (P.J.P II).
The words of her Magnificat, reveal a profound depth in the light of her relationship with the Eucharistic Mystery. This Mystery will provide food ´┐Ż the Body of the Lord to the hungry and the Blood of the Lord to the thirsty. This is the promise made of old to Abraham. Like Abraham our father in faith, who stood at the opening of the Old Testament, Mary, a woman of Faith, stands at the opening of the New Testament, awaiting the unfolding of the Eucharistic Mystery. She was ´┐Żthe first Ciborium, the first Tabernacle´┐Ż. She gave us the Blessed Sacrament, when she gave Jesus His Body and Blood. She is, in so realistic a way ´┐Ż ´┐ŻWoman of the Eucharist´┐Ż (P.J.P. II).
Mary´┐Żs unique relationship with the Eucharist stems from the two great hours of grace in her life ´┐Ż that of Nazareth and Calvary. St Augustine says ´┐ŻChrist, took flesh from the flesh of Mary. In this flesh, He walked on earth and He gives us the same flesh as the food of Salvation´┐Ż. Jesus´┐Ż humanity comes from Mary´┐Żs humanity. Peter Chrysologus reflects: ´┐ŻChrist is the bread that was sowed in the Virgin, leavened in her flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the Sepulchre, kept in the churches, taken to the altars and given to the Faithful, as Heavenly food´┐Ż.
Mary lived her Eucharistic faith long before even the Last Supper, when she embraced the sacrificial death of Jesus right from Simeon´┐Żs prophecy in the Temple, to the agonizing experience of Calvary. The Eucharist is the memorial of the death of Christ, and it is in that moment of Calvary, through her personal self-offering and presence, that Mary is most closely associated with the Mystery and offering of Christ to the Father. In the recent film on ´┐ŻThe Passion´┐Ż, the Marian references, along with depictions of the Eucharist and redemptive suffering, have an almost subliminal impact.
In the Eucharistic Mystery, we believe that He whom she conceived is the Son of God and son of Mary ´┐Ż that Jesus is present in His full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine. The Body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is the same body of Christ, that Mary gave us at Bethlehem ´┐Ż the ´┐ŻHouse of Bread´┐Ż. Mary´┐Żs ´┐Żfiat´┐Ż made it possible for us to share the Eucharistic Body and Blood of her son. Her Motherly care and concern for her faithful children, is epitomized in the fact that, as Woman, ´┐Żshe gave us the Son she bore, the Bread of Life´┐Ż.
Mary, Mother of the Church, and Woman of the Eucharist is present at each Eucharistic Celebration. If the Church and the Eucharist are inseparable, the same is true of Mary and the Eucharist. Our visits to the Blessed Sacrament should be made in company with her, because as St Bonaventure says: ´┐ŻIt is only through her that we can penetrate the ´┐Żmarrow´┐Ż of the Eucharist´┐Ż. She who brought Jesus into the world, still leads us to Him in the Blessed Sacrament.
´┐ŻThroughout her life, Mary remained in Communion with her Son, by ties of blood and especially by love. As we give thanks for the 20 Centuries of Mary´┐Żs protection of the Church, let us together, ask her to lead believers towards an ever more perfect knowledge of the saving power of the Sacrifice of Christ, who is present in the Eucharist´┐Ż (P.J.P. II). Sr. Gerard Paul rjm


< Eucharistic Meditations - The Cross by Fr. Erasto Fernandez
The Cross floods our hearts with several stimulating thoughts: The Father's love for us - "God so loved the world ´┐Ż" It also speaks of Jesus' love for the Father - he would rather accept death on a cross than disobey his Father. The Cross further proclaims Christ's love for us: 'greater love no man has than that he lay down his life for his friends´┐Ż' From being a despicable sign of total human degradation and rejection, Jesus has turned it into a resplendent banner of human freedom and heroic love. The magic wand he wove over it bringing about this transformation is his total, loving, obedient and free surrender into the Father's hands. Obedience makes the Cross desirable!
Lord, you taught us that we too can transform the atrocities of our daily human situation into a glorious crown by bringing our loving and trustful surrender to bear on these situations. However, the catch is: while the Father's unshakeable love was a living reality for you, we never seem to be able to hold on to this truth firmly and consistently. The slightest pain scuttles our convictions like nine pins. Fear paralyses our imaginations no sooner the prospect of the Cross looms large before us.
Simon of Cyrene seems such a hero, Lord, when we consider how he almost casually accepted a share of your Cross as you trudged your way to Calvary's height. You did not place too much of the burden on him, shouldering the heavier side of it yourself. You are present to us, too, shouldering our cross, never allowing us to be crushed or overpowered by its oppressiveness. You called your disciples to watch one hour with you as you grappled with conflicting options in Gethsemane; would you not stand by us as we struggle with ours? And then we could reach out to our suffering brothers and sisters, whose crosses weigh heavily on their bruised shoulders.
It is said that crosses are formed when God's will, like the vertical beam, goes contrary to our own desires and plans - which are the horizontal beam! We need to learn the art of placing our provisional plans alongside God's productive plans, and then we would have no crosses at all. But God's ways are not our ways, and hence we will always have a fair share of crosses, until we have learnt to put on the 'mind of Christ'.
St. Paul's understanding of the Cross opens up other vistas: to the Romans, he points out that the Cross is the sign put forth by the Father himself, to announce the unconditional gift of his forgiveness. He compares it to the Mercy Seat covered with the blood of the lamb on the day of Yom Kippur, guaranteeing forgiveness - just as the white ribbon replacing the red one across the main doorway did. Heading the procession at the beginning of the Eucharist, the Cross proclaims that God is on our side and that every Eucharist celebrates God's forgiving (or fore-given) love.

Eucharistic Meditations - The Cup by Fr. Erasto Fernandez Lord, I begin this Eucharistic meditation by gazing at the Cup used at today's Eucharist. It evokes your question to the two ambitious brothers: "Can you drink the Cup that I am to drink?" Taking this question seriously could radically change my life! I recall first, Lord, that your Cup has different names, each with its own rich connotation. As the 'Cup of Salvation' it reminds me that there can be no glory without the Cross; that the more I drink of this Cup the more I share in your glory. I shudder to think of the innumerable times when, like them, I too said a bold 'Yes' as I drank of it at the Eucharist, but no sooner the real Passion began, I was the first to flee. As the 'Cup of Sorrow' it challenges me to accept my adversities as part of the Father's will - which is painful at times, yet always opens out on to multiple blessings. Through the 'Cup of Blessing' I thank the Father for his unbelievable love and goodness to us. I need to take up this Cup more often, Lord, making the whole of my life a continual song of praise and thanks. I can never adequately repay the Father for his ever-present love: I can only dedicate my life to praising him and to serving him wherever I may be. The 'Cup of Joy and Feasting' is what appeals to me most: in it I celebrate your glorious rising and victory over sin and death. When I hold this Cup I no longer fear my own frailty and tendency to sin, for these have been nailed to the Tree at your dying. Some day your grace will triumph over the evil that still lurks in me and bring me to your heavenly banquet. As I continue to gaze at this Cup, I realize that it is empty and waits to be filled for only then is it of practical use. It is open to receive whatever is put into it: whether its contents are beneficial or harmful. A Cup can give only what it contains: I check what it is that I choose to fill my life with - the good or the evil around me? If it is to fulfill its function I need to hold the Cup in my hands, appropriate it, make it my own - as an extension of myself, as it were. Again, while a Cup could be made out of different materials, its value lies not in its external shape and beauty but in its openness to receive and give. Even when the outside is damaged, the Cup is still useful as long as it can hold something. Lord, do I not focus only on the externals in my life without reflecting too much on your transforming love within that makes me unique? Further, a Cup can only receive according to its capacity: the bigger it is, the more it contains and hence can give to others.


QUESTIONS CATHOLICS ASK


Q 1 In the Old Testament we read that God ordered the destruction of whole towns of men, women and even children. Is this true?
A. No. God is Love and full of mercy and compassion. So it is unthinkable that He could approve of revenge. It is the authors of those passages that put such statements into God´┐Żs mouth, as it were. Why? The Hebrew people were living among cruel warring tribes who for survival indulged in the complete slaughter of their enemies. These cruel and inhuman practices were part of the culture that the people of God adopted. Because they were assured by God of His protection from their enemies they felt that God approved and endorsed wholesale destruction.

Q 2 If God created us to be happy why does He allow so much evil and suffering especially of the innocent?
A. This is one of the mysteries of God´┐Żs plan for this world. It is true He created us to be happy. Yet we must remember He created us with a free will. This is our dignity as human persons. We can make choices for good or evil. God respects our free will. This means He allows us to act evilly and bring suffering on ourselves and on others. He permits but does not wish evil. His wisdom lies in finally bringing good out of the very evil we do. This is exactly the meaning of the Passion and Death of Jesus. His Resurrection is the answer. In faith we believe that God will bring about a new heaven and a new earth.

Q. 3 Will God answer my prayers?
A. Doubt creeps in because God doesn't always answer our prayers the way WE want him to. He's not ignoring us. He's not too busy. He's not punishing us. He's not unkind or unloving at all. God always gives us what he knows is best for us, at the perfect time, and in a way that benefits everyone who's affected by it.
True prayer is giving God our love and trust so completely that we can say, "Here's my request, Daddy. Answer it any way you choose, even if it's not the way I want it or expect it. I thank you now, before my prayer is answered, because I know you're already working on a plan that's very good."
We can overcome our doubts by thanking God as the Psalmist did in today's responsorial: "Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me." ON THE DAY! We don't actually see it that soon, but we know God is immediately taking action to help us.
Prayer doesn't control God; prayer helps us trust God. When we don't trust God, we take matters into our own hands, and that's usually how we fall into sin. But when we remember that we can trust God, resisting sin becomes easier. (From Holy Spirit Interactive)

Q. 4 Some of the laws of the Church are intolerant. Can I act according to my conscience?
We need to reflect for a while on what conscience is. Conscience is a law God has inscribed in a person´┐Żs heart A voice, ever calling us to love and do what is good, and to avoid what is evil. It is our most secret core, or sanctuary.
A. What is most necessary for all of us to know is that conscience has to be formed or educated. This education is a must because we are subjected to so many negative influences from the visuals on T.V. and films, views in news papers, specially the tabloids, and books. One such example would be a recent article of a journalist telling us that pre-marital sex is all right. You can see what an influence it can have on our youth, many of whom are already engaged in it. Education of our conscience from childhood prevents or cures selfishness, and pride that makes us believe we are a law unto ourselves. It takes away feelings of self-satisfaction and complacency coming from our human weakness and faults. The education of conscience guarantees freedom and promotes peace of heart.
For us Christians, in the formation of conscience, the Word of God is the light for our path. Reflecting on God´┐Żs word that challenges us, we pray for strength to act on it and then put it into practice. The authoritative teaching of the Church, which is based on the Bible, is our sure guide. The Catechism of The Catholic Church and the teachings of the Pope and bishops ensure fidelity. Further, we pray to the Holy Spirit, the Giver of all gifts, for discernment. And, as we said earlier, from childhood, our enlightened parents, teachers and catechists by the example of their lives and instruction have a big part to play in the formation of a matured conscience. In the light of all this, we say that every person must always obey the judgment of his/her conscience. To go against it would be to condemn themselves.
It could happen that people could make wrong judgments about acts committed or to be committed. So, personal responsibility demands that they take the trouble, in the way we saw earlier, to find our what is right and wrong according to the mind of God. We are not go by convenience, momentary passion or impulse.
It is true, that sometimes we are confronted by situations that make decisions difficult. What we call intolerance of Church laws must be looked at in the light of the Lord´┐Żs Cross. The words of Jesus are clear: ´┐ŻIf anyone will come after me let them take up their cross daily and follow me.´┐Ż If in a crisis we sometimes go against our conscience, let us remember we have a merciful and forgiving Saviour.
There are Christians who have made such difficult decisions. They are people who have had highly paid jobs. At the same time improper behaviour or dishonesty was demanded of them. Rather than be disloyal to Jesus they have resigned and taken up less paid work. It is easy to go with the crowd. To stand isolated is tough and may even cost one´┐Żs life. Mary Our Mother Of Perpetual Succour is our inspiration. Her ´┐ŻYes´┐Ż to God was far from easy but it brought Salvation of the world.

Q 5 Why is confession not popular? Many of our Catholics are becoming allergic to this sacrament. Just once a year; quite a few, once in two years. Like other practices of the faith, they have a poor knowledge of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In the 1st place, there is a diminished understanding of sin. This is the result of being influenced by the media. We are being bombarded by permissiveness to such an extent that we feel what everybody is doing is O.K. Sin is just a ´┐Żmistake´┐Ż. In this way people rationalize or make excuses for their behaviour. They do not realize the consequences of this so called ´┐Żmistake´┐Ż for themselves and for others. Depression and suicides are some of the long-term effects of sin for the individuals concerned.
For others, one can observe the deep physical and shattering emotional suffering of the victims. Hence, to begin with, we have to own our wrongdoing.
Others feel that they have been brainwashed in their childhood years to believe that this or that manner of acting is a sin. That the Church has instilled into them the fear of God´┐Żs judgment and hell. Now as modern people they have outgrown those fears. After all, they say, God is love and understands our circumstances. They are convinced they act according to their conscience. Generally speaking, people put off making their confession through down right carelessness and only confess for important events or feasts.
An excuse that many give for not confessing is that nothing changes in their life. They fall into the same sins over and over again of losing their temper, abusing, giving into feelings of jealousy and hatred, lust etc. They have confessed with sorrow and resolved not to commit those sinful acts. There is no improvement. So what is the use of going to Confession? What they fail to understand is that momentary sorrow is not enough. A change of heart or attitude is needed. A new way of looking at and dealing with people or situations. The priest can offer them appropriate advice.
Coming to an understanding of the sacrament: We rightly call it Reconciliation. Sin is not just an impersonal breaking of a commandment but a rupture, or at least a cooling off a love relationship we should have with God and our neighbour. Every sin no matter how private offends not only God but also the members of the Body of Christ. We weaken that Body. So this sacrament helps us to make up, to restore, to strengthen that relationship. From a selfish and self-centred way of life to becoming other-centred.
Another consideration: To confess is not just to do away with our sinful past. That´┐Żs a negative idea of the sacrament. Confession is meant to put us on the forward track. The whole idea of repentance is to make an about turn. The special grace of the sacrament is given to help us grow in our relationship with God and neighbour
We could think of the sacrament as a tonic to overcome our spiritual weaknesses and advance in virtue. So even though one may have only venial sins to confess, to come at regular intervals is beneficial. In this connection, to make progress in overcoming one´┐Żs faults, just keep to two or three habitual sins, leaving out the occasional smaller ones. Here, it is good to think of the sins of omission. The many good deeds we fail to do because of our selfishness, laziness.
Going further, the sacrament of reconciliation is also called a sacrament of healing. ´┐ŻThe Church speaks of the wounds of sin and presents the sacrament of penance as bringing varied healing of the multiple wounds of sin. The wound of sin is an inner wound. The person is wounded in his/her self-esteem or self- image, relationships and memory.
The Inner healing experienced is the healing love of God in which the person realizes that:- He/she is loveable - healing of the self-image Is capable of loving and forgiving someone ´┐Ż healing of relationships Is capable to gracefully accept some past event ´┐Ż healing of memories´┐Ż (Jim McManus,C.Ss.R.)
What follows? True peace and joy that the prayer of absolution brings about. In conclusion, we all need that faith to believe we are encountering that same Jesus whom Peter, Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus and the Samaritan woman met. A loving, compassionate Saviour who shed his precious Blood to cleanse and set us free from all the evil in and around us. To facilitate such a personal encounter we encourage people to confess across the table in the parlour. May we all avail of this sacrament of growth at least four times a year. The more often, the more blessed!

Q 6.. Why do Catholics claim that Mary was assumed into heaven? One of the inevitable realities of life is death. We may use cosmetics to look young; we may take vitamins and costly drugs to lengthen life ´┐Ż but at the end of everything, there is death. It is appointed to human beings to die once and after that comes judgement (Heb 9:27).
Our Christian faith, however, assures us that death is not the end of everything. We have the words of Jesus: ´┐ŻI am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.´┐Ż (Jn 14:25).
Even more, our Christian faith tells us that we are saved as persons, not just as ´┐Żsouls´┐Ż. It is not that our souls are saved and our bodies perish. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we are saved body and soul. St Paul held that if there is no resurrection from the dead, then Christ is not raised (1 Cor 15:13). We rise again with what St Paul calls a ´┐Żspiritual body´┐Ż and he compares death / resurrection to the sowing of a seed: ´┐ŻWhat is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body´┐Ż (1 Cor 15:42-44).
Belief in the resurrection of the body is surely one of the greatest acts of faith we can make. We stand by the bedside of a dying person and we can see the body gradually giving way. We consign the dead body to the grave. Yet, in faith, we believe that the person will rise again ´┐Ż body and soul will be reunited and the whole person saved. We see this truth exemplified in Mary. We see in her the full fruit of Christ´┐Żs redemption both at the beginning and at the end of life. She is totally the fruit of God´┐Żs grace.
Where do we find this in Scripture? We find this truth enshrined in the Scriptural teaching of Christ´┐Żs resurrection and our resurrection. If Christ is the ´┐Żfirst fruits´┐Ż of those who have died (1 Cor 15:20), Mary becomes for us the tangible fruit of Christ´┐Żs resurrection. She becomes the prototype of our own resurrection.
We see in her what God´┐Żs grace in Christ does for each of us at the beginning of our lives when He envelops us with His saving love, and what He does at the end of our lives when he takes us to Himself. Does not John 3:15 go against the Assumption of Mary? No, it does not. John 3:15 rules out anyone going up to heaven by his/her own strength. It does not mean that we will not go up to heaven. Jesus remains for Mary and for us too, the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one goes to the Father except through Him. (Jn 14:6).

Q 7 Does praying to Mary compromise the unique meditation of Christ? The First Letter to Timothy says so powerfully: ´┐ŻThere is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus´┐Ż (1 Tim 2:5). Scripture says that Jesus lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God (Heb 7:25).
On the other hand, one of the commonest practices amongst Catholics is praying to the Saints, asking for their intercession. ´┐ŻHoly Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death´┐Ż is one of our very common prayers. Does this not go against Scripture? We realize, in the first place, that intercession is a daily human reality. When our children face exams, we pray for them. We pray for sick people that the Lord may heal them. In Christian churches of varying denominations, we have intercessory prayer groups.
We realize too that intercession has deep Biblical roots. In the early pages of the Bible, we have Abraham interceding for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19). We have Moses interceding for the Israelites in battle or when they displeased the Lord (Ex 17:9-13; Ex 32:11-14; Nm 14:13-20; Nm 21:7-17). We have Job offering burnt offerings for his sons and daughters in case they had sinned against God in any way (Job 1:5). In the New Testament, we have Jesus, just before His death, interceding for His Apostles (Jn 17). We have Paul praying for Christians and urging them to intercession (1 Thess 2:1; Phil 1:9; 1 Cor 4:12, etc.).
The extension of Mary and the saints is an extension of this intercession on earth. It is an expression of our belief in the Communion of Saints, one of the most beautiful articles of the Creed. This article reminds us that even death cannot break the bond that unites us to out brothers and sisters. For human beings the greatest of all barriers is surely death. If my brother or sister goes off t a far off land there is always a hope that I may see him/her again. But death is the ´┐Żgreat divide´┐Ż ´┐Ż there is no going beyond it. In the Communion of saint and our practice of intercession, our faith finds a way of going beyond death.
Intercession is not to be thought of as a putting of pressure on God or bringing influence to bear on God. When a person requires admission to a school he/she may ask a friend to put in a word with the principal.At times we approach God with a similar mentality. He does not need pressure or influence to listen to the needs of his children. Nor does intercession imply that God is far away from us, a distant God we can approach only through mediators like Mary and the saints. In Jesus God is closer to us than anyone else. God is Abba, our Father, who is close to us and knows our needs even before we ask Him.
Intercession is rather an expression of our solidarity in Christ, a solidarity which nothing can sever. It makes us one with our brothers and sisters all over the earth ´┐Ż in the great space of the world, and one with our brothers and sisters down the ages in the immense reaches of time. Peter Paul, John & James, Mary Magdalene and others always remain our brothers and sisters ´┐Ż and Mary is our mother today. Before God there is no past and future. Everything is the eternal present. The great family of God spans not only space but also time. We conclude that intercession is something deeply and touchingly human.

Q 8 Why do Catholics believe in Purgatory? One of the Catholic doctrines very much contested by the New Religious Movements is Purgatory. Linked to it, is the Catholic practice of praying for the dead. In this article, we will examine the doctrine on Purgatory and in the next one, our practice of Praying for the Dead. They are topics well suited for reflection during November, a month associated, in the minds of so many Catholics, with praying for their departed dear ones.
A. What is Purgatory? -As Christians, we all agree that we have only one life on this earth. We do not believe in anything like ´┐Żreincarnation´┐Ż. This life on earth will determine our life hereafter: either a life of eternal happiness with God - heaven - or a life of eternal misery away from God ´┐Ż hell. - We believe too, that to enter God´┐Żs presence, we have to be totally clean. Rev 21:27 expresses it strongly: ´┐Ż´┐Ż nothing unclean will enter it (heaven) ´┐Ż´┐Ż - We realise too that while we are on earth, we often do fail. The Book of Proverbs tells us that ´┐Ża righteous man falls seven times´┐Ż (24:16). Most of us will probably end our life in the same state - with minor failings, what we at times call ´┐Żvenial sins´┐Ż to distinguish them from grave failings, what we call ´┐Żmortal sins´┐Ż, a term used in the First Letter of John 6:16-17.
What then will be our fate? We cannot enter God´┐Żs presence with soiled hearts. At the same time, God could not condemn us to eternal punishment for these minor infractions. Reason tells us there must be some way in which we would be purified of the failings we carry with us when we pass from this world to the next.
That is where our Catholic doctrine of Purgatory comes in. Purgatory is a temporary state of purification for the imperfect saints. This sentence sums up our understanding of Purgatory:
First of all, we affirm that Purgatory is a state. It is not a question of place or time. Space and time belong to this world. Beyond this life, there is no space / time. Time-wise, immediately after death, we enter into eternity.
Secondly, it is a state for imperfect saints - it is not a ´┐Żsecond chance´┐Ż for those who die in unrepented grave sin. The just who have died in a state of grace, but with minor or venial sins are fully cleansed so that they can stand in God´┐Żs presence. All remaining self-love is purged and purified until only the love of God remains.
Thirdly, it is state of purification. This purification may take place at the very moment of death. It is not time that counts - it is a process. We can use a comparison. If we are in a dark room, when we suddenly enter bright sunshine, our eyes undergo a twinge of pain. The darker the room and the brighter the light, the greater will be the pain. We could think of Purgatory in the same way. If we carry in our hearts some dark spots, before we enter the infinite brightness of God´┐Żs light, we will undergo some ´┐Żpain´┐Ż as the brightness of God´┐Żs light purifies us of these failings. The greater the darkness we carry, the greater will be the need of purification. Finally, Purgatory is a temporary state. We could speak of it as an intermediate state which will last as long as there is need for purification.
B. Is Purgotory Scriptural? First, we should note that the word ´┐Żpurgatory´┐Ż is not found in Sacred Scripture. This is not the point. The words ´┐ŻTrinity´┐Ż and ´┐ŻIncarnation´┐Ż are not found in Scripture, yet these doctrines are clearly taught there. Likewise, the Bible teaches that an intermediate state of purification exists. We call it Purgatory. What is important is the doctrine, not the name. We are not discussing about terms, but about truths. The term ´┐ŻPurgatory´┐Ż is not in the Bible; it was coined later in the history of the Church. But the truth that the Catholic Church teaches when it uses the term ´┐ŻPurgatory´┐Ż is found in the Bible. Let us look at what the Word of God tells us: In Mt. 12:32, Jesus says ´┐ŻAnd whoever says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come´┐Ż. Jesus implies that some sins can be forgiven in the next world. Sin cannot be forgiven in heaven or in hell. Any remission of sin in the next world can only occur in Purgatory.
So also Paul in 1Cor. 3/15 affirms: ´┐ŻBut if someone´┐Żs work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be save , but only as through fire´┐Ż This cannot refer to eternal loss in hell, for there no one saved Nor can it refer to heaven, for there no one suffers. It refers then to a middle state where the soul temporarily suffers loss so that it may gain heaven. This is essentially the definition of Purgatory.
To conclude: Even though the word ´┐ŻPurgatory´┐Ż is not in Scripture the underlying idea is there. After death there is a state of purification in which everything unworthy of our entering into God´┐Żs presence is removed form us. Once purified, we join that great multitude beyond counting ´┐Żfrom every nation from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice: ´┐ŻSalvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb!´┐Ż (Rev. 7/ 9,10 )
Why do Catholics pray for the dead? In our last article, we showed how the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory is both reasonable and consonant with the teaching of Scripture. We turn to a linked question: the Catholic practice of praying for the dead. Are there any Scriptural passages that refer to prayer and practices performed for the benefit of the deceased?
The clearest affirmation comes from the Old Testament Book of Maccabees which speaks of the Jewish soldiers who had fallen in battle having on their person amulets forbidden by the Law. The Jewish leader, Judas Maccabeus made a collection of twelve thousand drachmas to be sent to the Temple to offer a sacrifice for these. The Book of Maccabees praises his action and says: ´┐ŻIn doing this he acted very well and honourably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking for the splendid reward laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead that they might be delivered from their sin´┐Ż (2 Macc 12:44-46).
The Reformers, beginning with Luther, removed the Book of Maccabees along with six other books from the Old Testament on the grounds that they are not found in the Hebrew Canon but only in the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament. We have already dealt with this in one of the first articles of this series when we spoke of the Canon of the Bible. There is no reason to doubt that the two Books of Maccabees are authentically the Word of God. The New Testament authors themselves quote from the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. In fact, about 300 Old Testament quotations in the New Testament are from the Septuagint.

Q 9 Why do Catholics claim that Mary was assumed into heaven? One of the inevitable realities of life is death. We may use cosmetics to look young; we may take vitamins and costly drugs to lengthen life ´┐Ż but at the end of everything, there is death. It is appointed to human beings to die once and after that comes judgement (Heb 9:27).
Our Christian faith, however, assures us that death is not the end of everything. We have the words of Jesus: ´┐ŻI am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.´┐Ż (Jn 14:25).
Even more, our Christian faith tells us that we are saved as persons, not just as ´┐Żsouls´┐Ż. It is not that our souls are saved and our bodies perish. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we are saved body and soul. St Paul held that if there is no resurrection from the dead, then Christ is not raised (1 Cor 15:13). We rise again with what St Paul calls a ´┐Żspiritual body´┐Ż and he compares death / resurrection to the sowing of a seed: ´┐ŻWhat is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body´┐Ż (1 Cor 15:42-44).
Belief in the resurrection of the body is surely one of the greatest acts of faith we can make. We stand by the bedside of a dying person and we can see the body gradually giving way. We consign the dead body to the grave. Yet, in faith, we believe that the person will rise again ´┐Ż body and soul will be reunited and the whole person saved.
We see this truth exemplified in Mary. We see in her the full fruit of Christ´┐Żs redemption both at the beginning and at the end of life. She is totally the fruit of God´┐Żs grace. Where do we find this in Scripture? We find this truth enshrined in the Scriptural teaching of Christ´┐Żs resurrection and our resurrection. If Christ is the ´┐Żfirst fruits´┐Ż of those who have died (1 Cor 15:20), Mary becomes for us the tangible fruit of Christ´┐Żs resurrection. She becomes the prototype of our own resurrection. We see in her what God´┐Żs grace in Christ does for each of us at the beginning of our lives when He envelops us with His saving love, and what He does at the end of our lives when he takes us to Himself.
Does not John 3:15 go against the Assumption of Mary? No, it does not. John 3:15 rules out anyone going up to heaven by his/her own strength. It does not mean that we will not go up to heaven. Jesus remains for Mary and for us too, the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one goes to the Father except through Him. (Jn 14:6).

Q 10 Why do Catholics believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary?
All Christians believe that, because of Original Sin, every member of the human race is in need of Christ´┐Żs redemption. There can be no exception to that rule. Why then do Catholics believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary? What do we mean when we say that Christ redeems us? In different ways, Scripture tries to bring home to us this tremendous reality. It speaks, for example, of being ´┐Żtransferred from the kingdom of darkness into his marvelous light´┐Ż (Eph 5:8). It speaks of our being ´┐Żreconciled´┐Ż, ´┐Żjustified by His blood´┐Ż (Rom 5:9), ´┐Żhaving our sins washed away´┐Ż (1 Cor 6:11), and so on. Redemption entails removing the blocks that prevent us from being enveloped by God´┐Żs love so as to become his adopted children (Gal 4:5-6).
As Christians, we believe that redemption is God´┐Żs grace to us, His free gift in Christ (Rom 5:15). And Jesus is the redeemer not just of those who have come after Him. He is the Universal Saviour. All who are saved are saved because of His death and resurrection. Adam and Eve are saved because of Christ´┐Żs saving blood. It is not a question of time. Christ´┐Żs saving death has its effects on all, even those who were born before Him.
When we say that Mary was immaculately conceived, we are not claiming that she was not in need of redemption. She was as much in need of redemption as anyone else. We claim for her that she was redeemed by preservation because of the merits of Jesus.
We speak of redemption by preservation. What does that mean? All of us are redeemed after we have contracted sin (original sin) or committed sin (actual sin). In Mary´┐Żs case we claim that she was redeemed before this happened ´┐Ż she was preserved from sin.
An example may help us to understand this. Suppose there is a plague in a country wherein everyone without exception is affected. If, however, a person is inoculated, he/she would not succumb to the plague, he/she would be preserved from the plague. The ´┐Żnatural´┐Ż weakness would be overcome by the inoculation.
This is a halting example, but it serves to bring home the point: Mary, as a human being, a daughter of Adam, would have contracted the plague of sin if it were not for the inoculation of God´┐Żs grace merited for her by Jesus´┐Ż death and resurrection. It was for her, in the first place, that the blood of Jesus was shed.
The Immaculate Conception thus does not remove Mary from the number of the redeemed. Rather, she is even more redeemed, more perfectly redeemed. She is for us an example of what the redemption of Jesus entails, total discipleship where there is nothing of Satan´┐Żs reign. And all this not because of her own merits, but because of Christ´┐Żs grace, because God chose her to be the mother of His Son...
There are no scriptural texts to prove the Immaculate Conception. Our belief is prepared by Genesis 3:15 where God foretells the eventual victory of the seed of the woman who will strike the head of the serpent. This victory was accomplished on Calvary with the Woman standing at the foot of the Cross. The Immaculate Conception does not bring out the greatness of Mary. If anything, it brings out the greatness of Jesus.

Q11 Did Mary remain always a Virgin?
The Gospels tell us that Jesus was conceived virginally (Mt 2:18-24; Lk 1:34-35). Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit without any human father on earth. Joseph, who belonged to the House of David, legally adopts Him and because of this Jesus belongs to the ´┐ŻHouse of David´┐Ż; but Joseph is not His father. Matthew sees in that the fulfillment of the words of the prophet Isaiah:´┐ŻBehold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means God is with us´┐Ż (Mt 1:25). Jesus was born of the virgin Mary.
The question we could ask is: Did Mary continue as a virgin after the birth of Jesus, or did she have normal sexual relations with Joseph her husband? We refer to this as Mary´┐Żs ´┐Żcontinued virginity´┐Ż as different from the virginal conception of Jesus. Three difficulties have been brought up against the continued virginity of Mary:
1.Jesus is called Mary´┐Żs ´┐Żfirstborn´┐Ż (Lk 2:7). You do not speak of the first unless you have a second. If Luke speaks of ´┐Żfirstborn´┐Ż, Mary must have had a second or third child. 2.- The phrase that Joseph did not know Mary ´┐Żuntil she gave birth to a son´┐Ż (Mt 1:25). This would imply that after the birth of Jesus, Joseph had sexual relations with Mary. 3. Several times, there are references to ´┐Żbrothers and sisters of Jesus´┐Ż (Mk 3:31, 6:3 and parallels). If Jesus had brothers and sisters, this would imply that Mary had other children after giving birth to Jesus.
None of these three, however, are really against Mary´┐Żs continued virginity. 1. ´┐ŻFirstborn´┐Ż- is a legal term meaning that no one was born before. It does not necessarily mean that someone was born after. The first one to open the mother´┐Żs womb was consecrated to God (Ex 13:2; Nm 3:12), even if no second child followed. Under Mosaic Law, the ´┐Żfirst born´┐Ż son had to be redeemed (Ex 34:20). This has been confirmed by the discovery of a Jewish tombstone in Alexandria where a young mother died after giving birth to her first child....The tombstone reads: ´┐ŻIn the sorrow of giving birth to my firstborn, destiny led me to the end of my life´┐Ż.
2. ´┐ŻJoseph did not know Mary´┐Ż- is a Hebrew way of emphasizing a point. Mathew uses it to emphasizes the virginal conception of Jesus. In the Bible ´┐Żuntil´┐Ż only affirms that an action did not take place up to a certain point of time. It does not imply the action took place after that point of time. The word ´┐Żuntil´┐Ż gives us an arrival point not a departure point. Ps. 109, God says to the messiah: ´┐Ż Sit at my right until I make your enemies your footstool´┐Ż. This does not mean that after that the Messiah will no more sit at God´┐Żs right hand.
3. ´┐ŻBrothers and sisters´┐Ż.- It is used both of blood brothers and sisters and also refers to cousins. Laban is Jacob´┐Żs uncle but he is called his brother (Gen. 29/15) In India ,specially in the south, 1st cousins are called cousin-brothers and sisters.
Mary´┐Żs continued virginity is attested by the fact that no other child is mentioned after Jesus. Again, Jesus on the Cross hands over his mother to an outsider, John. He was not likely to that if had other brother or sisters.. That Mary had other children is never mentioned in the New Testament or in any other source of early tradition.
Most important is for us to realize the significance of the catholic belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Mary´┐Żs virginity signifies her total dedication to the kingdom become visible in Jesus. She is always at the service of her Son Jesus.

Q 12 Why Do Catholics Worship Mary
We must begin by correcting the question: Catholics do not worship Mary Even though the word means ´┐Żascribing honour, worth or excellence to someone´┐Ż, today the word is reserved for honour to God alone: it means adoration due to God alone. Catholics do not worship Mary. Rather, Catholics venerate Mary and the saints because of what God has done in them.
We may be asked the next logical question: Why do Catholics venerate Mary? Is there any basis in the Bible for such veneration? YES, there surely is. When we look at the Gospels, we are confronted by a remarkable fact: The four Gospels are not uniform with regard to Mary! Mark seems to give her very lttle place in the work of Jesus, whereas Luke and John give her a prominent place.
Catholic devotion to Mary is based on the Word of God, especially Luke and John. In the Gospel of Luke, Mary is a special person. The simple woman of Nazareth, the wife and mother of a carpenter, is called to play a part in Salvation History through her ´┐ŻYes´┐Ż to God. In the Bible, salvation is portrayed as a ´┐Żcovenant´┐Ż in which God takes the initiative but waits for a human re4sponse. Mary is the one who, on behalf of humanity responds to God´┐Żs initiative. Mary thus stands out as an example of faithful obedience - the first disciple of Jesus, who hears and believes in the word of God (LK. 8/19-21 and 11/27,28
For Luke Mary is the handmaid of the Lord, a title charged with overtones from the Old Testament. The ´┐Żservants´┐Ż or ´┐Żhandmaids´┐Ż of the Lord were those pious Israelites who placed themselves entirely at God´┐Żs disposal, often called in the Bible anawim ., the poor of Yahweh. By giving Mary this title, Luke sees Mary summing up in herself the rich spirituality of the Old Testament. The best of the Old Testament flows into the New through her.Again, Luke sees Mary as ´┐Żhighly favoured´┐Ż by God. She is chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus, the incarnate Son of God.
No wonder Luke makes Elizabeth proclaim Mary as ´┐ŻBlessed among women´┐Ż. If Elizabeth could thus honour her, surely we can do the same! Mary is the one whom all generations will call blessed. We could well ask: In which Church is Mary honoured as ´┐ŻBlessed´┐Ż? The answer is obvious: in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, not among the New Religious Movements!
In the Gospel of John, Mary is present at the beginning (Cana) and at the end of Jesus public life (Calvary). John´┐Żs Gospel concludes the Cana incident so beautiful: ´┐ŻThis, the first of the signs Jesus did in Galilee, and manifested His glory´┐Ż. At the end, Calvary, when the signs are no more, we find Mary present at the foot of the Cross, as the mother of the community left by the dying Jesus: ´┐ŻWoman, behold thy son, Son behold thy mother´┐Ż. The dying Jesus, bereft of everything, hands over this mother to his ´┐Żbeloved disciple´┐Ż. She is the gift of the dying Jesus to His Church. All the faithful disciples of Jesus, symbolized by the beloved disciple, are summoned to look on Mary as their mother.
The deep regard of the Apostolic Church is confirmed by the Acts of the Apostles which gives us a picture of the nascent Church, a picture of what the church always has to be. (Acts1/14 and 2/1-4 ) This short verse of the Acts gives us four beautiful features, which will always remain with the Church. United together, In prayer, Around Mary the mother of Jesus, Awaiting the Spirit.
Later chapters of Acts will add other qualities of the church: the breaking of bread, sharing of goods, the evangelical thrusts etc., But the first picture of the Church will always remain: the Church united in prayer, gathered around Mary, awaiting the Spirit.
Catholics honour Mary, because the New Testament gives her a place of honour. No wonder, the recently promulgated agreed statement of Anglicans and Roman Catholics affirms: ´┐ŻIt is impossible to be faithful to /scripture and not to take Mary seriously´┐Ż. We might add that when Catholics honour Mary, (or any of the saints) they do not so much honour Mary as honour God who blessed her, in Christ, with every spiritual blessing. (Ephes. 1/3) We keeping mind what Mary herself proclaimed: ´┐ŻHe who is mighty has done great things for me´┐Ż. (Lk. 2/49)

Q 13. The Sacraments and administration of Baptism
Our Catholic life revolves around the Sacraments whereby we believe that Jesus acts in our life at every moment. We have just come into life, when Jesus is present to us at Baptism, offering us a ´┐Żnew life´┐Ż, a new birth. As we grow, we need to be strengthened to face the challenges of life: Jesus strengthens us through the Sacrament of Confirmation. We need nourishment, and Jesus gives us His own body and blood in the Eucharist. When we fall and are estranged from God, He comes to us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we have grown up into adulthood and stand at the crossroads of life, Jesus is there too through the Sacraments of Holy Orders and of Holy Matrimony ´┐Ż both Sacraments which enable us to place our lives at the service of others. Finally, when we are seriously ill, He comes to strengthen and heal us in the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
Those who have left the Church to join one of the New Religious Movements lack this beautiful ´┐ŻSacramental system´┐Ż, though they still have practices like Baptism and Eucharist. Even in these, there is a different understanding from us Catholics. In the series of articles that follows, we will focus on three Sacraments: Baptism, Reconciliation and Eucharist.
How is Baptism to be administered? Most Christian churches and groups, including the New Religious Movements, accept Baptism as an expression of discipleship of Jesus. The words of Jesus in John 3:5, the practice of the early Church, as seen from the Acts of the Apostles, and the letters of St Paul, would make it almost impossible for anyone who accepts the New Testament to deny the necessity of Baptism.
Even though the New Religious Movements accept Baptism, they differ from us Catholics on two main points with regard to Baptism: First, how is Baptism to be administered ´┐Ż whether by infusion (pouring of water) or by immersion (plunging into water). Second, to whom Baptism is to be administered: only to adults or can it be administered also to children? In this article, we will tackle the first question: Baptism by infusion versus Baptism by immersion.
Almost certainly, in the early Church many Baptisms were by immersion in water, following the example of Jesus who was baptized in the river Jordan.(MT.3/16) The Ethiopian eunuch who was evangelized by the deacon Philip stopped apparently at the river and both ´┐Żwent down into the water´┐Ż. Where Philip baptized him. (Acts 8/38) This indicates Baptism by immersion. Baptism by immersion too would bring out better Paul´┐Żs symbolism of going down to the tomb in death with Jesus and rising with Him to a new life (Roms. 6/4) For almost 12 centuries immersion seems to have been the prevalent form of Baptism.
But there are indications that Baptism by immersion was not the only form of baptism. Saul, for example after his conversion seems to have been baptize at home by Ananias who came to the house where he was staying: Paul rises, is baptized and eats food (Acts 9/17-19) . Cornelius along with his kinsmen and friends in Caesarea, was baptized immediately after the preaching of Peter ´┐Ż most likely in the home itself. of Cornelius (Acts 10/48) The jailer of Paul and Silas who was converted after the earthquake was baptized along with his family in the houise attached to the prison complex. (Acts16/33) Even before that, after Peter´┐Żs sermon on Pentecost, in Jerusalem, three thousand people were converted and baptized on that day(Acts 2/4) . It is hardly likely that such a huge number of people were transported to a gigantic lake mto be baptized on a single day!.
The Didache, one of the earliest Christian writings, perhaps the earliest writing after the New Testament, confirms this. It tells us that the early Church used pouring of water for Baptism. Much of the earliest Christian artwork ´┐Ż paintings in the catacombs, Baptisteries and tile mosaics in ancient churches, depict Baptism by pouring of water.. If the recipient of the Sacrament is in a river, he is shown standing in the river while water is poured over his head from a cup or shell. We might adds that this fits in so beautifully with God´┐Żs promises through the prophet Ezekiel 36/25 ´┐Ż ´┐ŻI will sprinkle (pour) clean water upon you and you shall be clean´┐Ż
We would like to conclude by pointing out that the way in which Baptism is being administered through immersion or infusion - is not as important as the fact that all of us are baptized and become disciples of Jesus! In Christ God has chosen us ´┐Żbefore the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him´┐Ż (Ephes. 1/14)

Q 14. Why do Catholics baptize children?
In the last article, we saw how practically all Christians agree on the need of baptism. The disagreement with the New Religious Movements is on two counts. First, with regard to how baptism is to be administered ´┐Ż by infusion or by immersion ´┐Ż and secondly with regard to whom Baptism can be administered: only adults or also children. In the last article, we tackled the first question: Infusion versus Immersion. In this article, we will take up the second question: Infant versus Adult Baptism.
Parents are generally eager to pass on the best that they have to their children. Whatever possessions they have, they want to give to their children. Since they value education, they make big sacrifices to get their children educated. And it is but natural that since they prize their faith, they want to pass on their faith to the children too. Hence, while they are still babies, parents bring them to the Church for Baptism.
Those belonging to the New Religious Movements question this. They affirm that Baptism is only for adults. They cite the words of Jesus: ´┐ŻGo into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole of creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned´┐Ż (Mk 16:15). One must believe before being baptised. How is this possible in the case of an infant? Hence the question: Is there any Biblical basis for Infant Baptism? Our answer is: ´┐ŻYes. There is.´┐Ż
First of all, when we look at the words of Jesus, we do not find that he wanted Baptism restricted only to adults. ´┐ŻTruly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God´┐Ż (John 3:5). These words would apply also to children. There is no reason why children should be excluded from the kingdom, especially when we realise that Jesus Himself said that the kingdom belongs to little children (Mk 10:14). We admit that most of the baptisms mentioned in the New Testament are adult ones. That is but natural, since the Apostles carried out Jesus´┐Ż command to preach the Good News. Obviously, adults will hear the preaching, and ask for Baptism. The Christian faith was just being proclaimed, and the first to be baptised would be adults.
But the New Testament does give indications that children too were baptised. The Acts of the Apostles says that Lydia ´┐Żwith her household´┐Ż were baptised (Acts 16:15). That household must surely have included children. So also, the jailor of Paul and Silas, who was converted after the earthquake, ´┐Żwas baptised at once with all his family´┐Ż (Acts 16:33). First Corinthians 1:16 also mentions that the household of Stephanas was baptised. It would be strange to have the whole household baptised as disciples of Jesus and leave out the children!
Thus, although the Bible is not as clear as we might wish, what it says certainly leans towards the Catholic position which is seconded by Christian practice. The writings of the earliest Church Fathers leaves us in no doubt about the practice of Infant Baptism. As the immediate successors of the Apostle, the Church Fathers would surely be the best interpreters of their doctrine and practice. Origen, the third century writer, expresses the prevailing practice in one sentence: ´┐ŻThe Church received the tradition from the Apostles to give Baptism even to infants´┐Ż.

Q 15 Why confess to a Priest?
Last week, we spoke of Baptism which makes us children of God. We realise, however, that all of us, at some time or the other, fail to live up to our baptismal calling to ´┐Żbe holy and blameless before Him´┐Ż. With the Psalmist, we can cry out: ´┐ŻMy sin is ever before me´┐Ż (Ps 51:3). We find ourselves estranged from God, burdened with the guilt of sin. Jesus has provided a beautiful means of being reconciled to God and experiencing once more, inner peace and joy. Let us explore this point.
Jesus´┐Ż life was marked by mercy and compassion for suffering humanity. The Gospels tell us on a number of occasions that crowds, afflicted by different kinds of sicknesses, were brought to Him: ´┐ŻNow, when the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on everyone of them and healed them.´┐Ż (Lk 4:40).
Even more, Jesus reached out to those who were afflicted by sin. That was precisely why He came to this earth: ´┐ŻI have come not to call the righteous, but sinners´┐Ż (Mt 9:13). His mission was not confined to merely healing bodies. When the paralytic was brought to Him for physical healing, Jesus first restored him spiritually: ´┐ŻMy son, your sins are forgiven´┐Ż (Mk 1:5). When the woman caught in the act of adultery was dragged to Him, and the Pharisees wanted to stone her, Jesus turned the tables against them and sent her away with those beautiful words ´┐ŻGo, and do not sin again´┐Ż (Jn 10:11). At dinner, when the woman washed His feet with her tears, Simon, His host, said to himself: ´┐ŻIf this man were a prophet, He would know what sort of a woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner´┐Ż (Lk 7:39). Through her tears, Jesus saw her love, and said: ´┐ŻYour sins are forgiven´┐Ż ´┐Ż and He sent her away in peace. (Lk 7:48).
Is this healing a thing of the past? Has this fountain of mercy dried up? Luckily for us Catholics, it has not. Because Jesus provided for us a means to continue receiving His mercy. He delegated His Apostles to continue His work. The Gospel of John tells us on the evening of the Resurrection, when the Apostles had barred themselves in fear of the Jews, Jesus came into their midst and said to them: ´┐Ż´┐ŻPeace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.´┐Ż And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ´┐ŻReceive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.´┐Ż´┐Ż (Jn 20:21). Jesus gives them His Easter gift of peace and to enable them to lead others to peace, He gives them the gift of His Spirit, so that they can forgive sins. We can see how in the Apostolic Church, Paul exercised this power of binding and loosing sin in the case of the incestuous Corinthian: ´┐ŻI have already pronounced judgement in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing´┐Ż (1 Cor 5:3-4).
Jesus gave His Apostles the power to forgive sins. Obviously, it was not meant for them alone ´┐Ż it would be useless giving them this power if it were to die with them! He wanted their successors to continue this mission of healing and reconciling.
That is what is done precisely in the Sacrament we call Reconciliation. We ´┐Żconfess´┐Ż our sins, i.e., we admit before God and the community represented by its leader, the priest, that we have done wrong and we ask for pardon. He may give us some words of advice. To enable us to amend our ways, he prescribes some prayer or some penance. Then, in the name of Jesus, the priest ´┐Żabsolves´┐Ż us of our sins. Rather than condemnation, we receive mercy. ´┐ŻGo in peace´┐Ż are the last words of the priest as we leave the confessional, echoing the words of Jesus to the woman in sin (Lk 7:50). Even from the psychological point of view, we can see how wise Jesus was in giving us a chance to confess our sins.
The fourth and fifth steps in the Alcoholics´┐Ż Anonymous programme invites alcoholics to make a searching and fearless moral inventory and admit to God, to themselves and to another human being the exact nature of their wrongs. It is a great step towards healing, as the alcoholic experiences an emptying of all his past ´┐Ż psychologists call it a ´┐Żcatharsis´┐Ż or purification.
In Confession, Catholics have something similar in a way which guarantees absolute confidentially. They can do this not just once, but each time they feel themselves burdened by sin. And as they empty themselves, they receive the healing grace of God. God´┐Żs healing comes to us precisely through human dialogue.The Gospel of Mark tells us that when Jesus said to the paralytic: ´┐ŻYour sins are forgiven´┐Ż, the Scribes present here said to themselves: ´┐ŻWho can forgive sins but God alone?´┐Ż That is so true: God alone can for give sins; but in the incident Jesus showed how He, being God, had this power.
Today the members of the New Religious Movements object in the same way: Who can forgive sins but God alone? Surely, the priest by himself cannot forgive sins. In carrying out the ministry of reconciliation, the priest forgives precisely in the power of Jesus who uses him as an instrument. Paul reminds us: ´┐ŻAll this is from God, Who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.´┐Ż (2Cor. 5/18,19) Through this sacrament we experience the peace of Jesus who invites us: ´┐ŻCome to me all you who labour and are heavily burdened and I will give you rest´┐Ż. (Mt. 11/26)


No.16 Are Non-Christians Saved The Catholic Church makes it absolutely clear that anyone who willfully turns his back on Christ will be denied salvation. (Catechism 846) So why does the Church say that some people who have not surrendered their life to Christ ("born again") might make it to heaven? To begin this conversation let us take a tour through the Old Testament.

What about non-Christians before Christ? Are they Saved? Let us look at King David, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. They never knew Christ. They never asked Jesus to be their personal Saviour. Some Evangelicals will say that these guys are not in heaven and never will be because they didn't make a "personal decision for Christ" during their life.

These Old Testament prophets cause some problems for many Evangelicals because the prophets did not meet the requirement of "making a personal decision for Jesus" while living. Some Evangelicals side step this issue and say "I don't know where the Old Testament prophets are today, no one knows." But these same Evangelicals claim there are only two places for humans after they die, heaven or hell. They also claim that the only way into heaven is to claim Christ as your personal Saviour while you are living. That seems to leave only one place for the prophets, hell. It makes no sense to me that someone who wrote the Bible would be in hell. I must say that thankfully, not all Evangelicals follow this logic. Some Evangelicals follow the thinking of the Catholic Church on this matter.

Catholics believe on the day Jesus died, He descended to the realm of the dead. He descended there as Saviour, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there (1 Peter 3:18-19). He did this to free the just who had gone before him...And therefore Jesus' redemption extends to all men of all times and all places. (Catechism 633, Council of Rome 745AD)

Catholics believe there is redemption for faithful who seek God, but have never met Christ. "And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Heb 11:6)The important word here is "seek." The Old Testament Prophets sought after God and were rewarded.

St. Paul then goes on walk us through the entire Old Testament. He speaks about Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rehab the prostitute, Moses, Sarah, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained, promised, shut the mouths of lions. (Heb 11:7-12:1) None of them knew Christ, none of them were "born again." Yet Paul does not at all suggest they are in hell. In speaking about them, he says "we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses." This does not sound like hell.

Christ made it clear that Moses and Elijah are in heaven. (Mat 17:2) and that Abraham is doing fine also. (Lk 16:22) None of these guys made a personal decision for Christ. Obviously, these faithful souls pleased God. We Catholics think it was their honest search for truth and faith in God that saved them.

What about non-Christians after Christ died? If someone has never been exposed to the Gospel message before he dies, yet believes in God and is searching for truth, Catholics believe the culpability falls on us as Christians for never having reached him.(1 Cor 9:16) That is why all Christians must evangelize. If an upright African guy believes in God and seeks him but never hears about the Gospel in an authentic way, you and me better get on our knees and ask for God's mercy. "Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16). We are responsible for getting the word out.

It is not because of his non-Christian religion that a person above could be saved. It would be because Catholics believe Jesus judges the heart of each individual. It would be cruel to believe that God would create this soul, and then condemn him to hell even though he believed and sought God. It would be through no fault of his own that he never heard the Gospel. It would be our fault. The Church teaches that it is by the mercy of Christ that people are saved, even if they may not realize it at the moment of death. Jesus is the only Saviour. The Catholic Church makes it clear that those who refuse Jesus, after having been presented the Gospel in an authentic way, will spend an eternity in hell. (Cat 846).
GOLDEN JUBILEE MISSION IN OLPS PARISH, Chembur


The Golden Jubilee Mission in our Parish preached by the Redemptorist Fathers Neville Fernandes and Shane Verghese was truly one to be experienced first-hand, and remembered from Sunday, 1st March 2009 to Saturday, 7th March 2009. There were 2 sessions everyday; in the mornings from 6.45 to 7.30 a.m. during the Mass there was a talk and a mime and in the evenings from 7.30 to 8.45 pm, there was Worship in Song-n-Prayer followed by a Special Sermon & Blessing. The Solemn Opening was on the 1st of March with a special talk and the Enthronement of the Bible.

On Monday, March 2nd, the Morning Liturgy dealt with the topic of Forgiveness. The Penitential Rite was highlighted through mime. We should not consider ourselves to be VIPÔÇÖs (Very Idiotic People) as far as forgiveness goes. If we do not forgive others, we only spoil our own minds, health and our chances of entering into GodÔÇÖs kingdom. So, it is better to forgive and forget than to carry the burden of unforgiveness in our life. The EveningÔÇÖs theme was Love and Marriage. The following points were stressed upon:

1 Love is Blind - Yes, it is blind, but only before marriage ÔÇô after marriage spouses start using magnifying glasses to look at each other and find out innumerable faults.

2 Love is Admiration - It is advisable for every husband to admire his own beautiful wife, rather than turn to admire all the PYTÔÇÖs (Pretty Young Things) who may be crossing his path daily. After all, with age, beauty fades, hair greys and the physical structure sags, but only true love will then endure and stand the test of time.

3 Love is Giving, and not only receiving - both spouses have to give of their time, energy and love to make their Marriage work. In every Marriage, Physical, Emotional and Sexual Compatibility are very important.
Some DoÔÇÖs and DonÔÇÖts for a Good Marriage to become even better:

1 Wives, love your husbands a little, but understand them a lot and Husbands, love your wives a lot, but donÔÇÖt try to understand them at all.

2 Husbands, make sure to attend to your wivesÔÇÖ emotional needs.

3 Make Communication an important part of your Marriage.

4 Do not try to change your spouse in any way, because he/she will never change. Instead be the change that you want to see in your spouse.

5 Parents, do not interfere in your childrenÔÇÖs Marriage, and never ever take sides when marital tensions arise, unless you want the Marriage to finally go ÔÇśkaputÔÇÖ.

6 Wives, never let the sun set on an argument between you and your husband.
The homily was followed by a very touching Service of the Renewal of Marriage Vows for all Married Couples present in the Church.
On Tuesday, March 3rd, the Morning Liturgy focused on the Word of God, which was also, highlighted though mime. We must read and absorb the Word of God in our lives in order to get rid of our brokenness and become whole again. In the evening, the theme was Sin and Reconciliation. Sin is a break-down of our relationship with God, a turning away of the unconditional and merciful love of God. It has 2 dimensions, personal and communitarian. This means that when we commit sin, we sin not only against ourselves but also against the people around us. In the ÔÇśDual PulpitÔÇÖ that followed, Fr. Shane (on our behalf) asked questions pertaining to Confession and Fr. Neville gave the answers. When we make our Confession, we must focus on the following areas, mainly, our Relationship with God, our Relationship with our Family, our Relationship with our Neighbours, our Relationship with others in the Workplace, and ourselves. This was followed by Confession and Counselling.
On Wednesday, March 4th, the Liturgy focused on Faith - having faith in God means having full trust in Him, letting go of ourselves and letting God do His will in our life. Only then will the impossible become possible. Faith and work go hand in hand: it is through our work that we can bring greater harmony in GodÔÇÖs creation. The eveningÔÇÖs theme was Family Life. Some doÔÇÖs for parents are as follows:

1 Appreciate and encourage the youth to find their way and do not destroy their confidence

2 Accept each of your children as they are, in their own uniqueness and do not compare and contrast them with others

3 Always correct them with love and not anger, do not pamper your children, make your house a Home of Prayer by saying the Rosary daily and communicate with your children

4 Children in turn must try to understand their parents and help them with housework

5 Working youth must contribute to the family expenses and look after aged parents
On Thursday, March 5th, the Morning Liturgy focused on the importance of the Eucharist. Today, Christ is present in the Community, through His Body and Blood. We should make it a point to come 5 minutes before the Mass begins, and be attentive throughout, without looking at the watch, and getting distracted. When we imbibe what we listen to, at the Eucharist, it will bring about true healing in our lives. The evening homily focused on the Church. The Church is not just a construction of stone and marble, but each one of us is also the Church. The Church is:
One - We have to work to unite all the different sects, without creating further divisions based on language, caste etc. Holy - Worship and life go hand-in-hand. We should be active participants and not passive onlookers in Church activities. Catholic - The SCCs (Small Christian Communities) are the future of the Church. Our involvement in these SCCs must increase. Apostolic - Christ told His disciples to go forth and spread the Word of God. Today, we must act His Missionaries.
On Friday, March 6th, the theme was suffering. Christ is the Lord of the Resurrection and we are a resurrected people. We must link our suffering with the cross of Jesus, if we want to rise with him in glory. In the evening, the Way of the Cross was conducted. This Way of the Cross is not a mere ritual, but the Way of Life that Christ walked, to reveal to us that Worship and Life are interconnected. We are never alone; Christ is always with us at all times.
On Saturday, March 7th, the Morning Liturgy focused on the Importance of Prayer. Prayer is talking to God with humility and child-like trust daily and not only when we require something from him. It must be God-centred and not me-centred. It means being before God and not doing before God. The Closing Liturgy in the evening focused on Mary, Our Blessed Mother. We must reach Christ through Mary. She had to go through a lot; yet, she continued to remain the faithful Mother of God. Many parishioners participated in the Penitential Rite, Offertory procession, etc. making it a very meaningful Liturgical celebration.
Thanks a million Fr. Neville and Fr. Shane, for making us not ÔÇśSlumdog MillionairesÔÇÖ but ÔÇśSpiritual MillionairesÔÇÖ during this Mission. With your help, we have been able to walk the red carpet, during these days of Lent, awaiting our own personal moment of Oscar glory, when each of us will be holding not an Oscar Statuette in our hand, but a much more priceless memento - The Lord Himself. This will happen not in Hollywood, but in our very own OLPS Church, on that greatest and most memorable feast in the Catholic Church - Easter, The Miracle of GodÔÇÖs Love for man.
And then our Mission continuesÔÇŽÔÇŽ
......Mrs. Nicola Esteves




Different Rites of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church
Western Church-Roman Rite ´┐Ż Eastern Churches o Antiochian Church o Alexandrian Church o Byzantine/Armenian Church ´┐Ż
Some Differences Between the Western and Eastern Churches IntroductionQuestion: Why is there more than one Rite? Do we need 20+ different Rites? Answer: Our Lord only gave us the essential elements of the Divine Liturgy, the Sacraments, etc.: not specifics on their practice or celebration. The essence of matter, form, and intention (found in every Sacrament) is drawn by the Magisterium from Divine Revelation in Sacred Tradition and Scripture. These essentials are not changeable by the Church. However, when the Apostles of Jesus´┐Ż time brought the Gospel to major cities, they inculturated the essentials of the above (Liturgy, fasting, etc.) into the culture of the area.
The tradition of a particular area/manner of celebrating a Sacrament is called a "Rite". The original Rites had three major groupings: the Roman, the Antiochian (in Syria), and the Alexandrain (in Egypt). In the 4th century, under the influence of St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom, the Byzantine Rite derived from the Antiochian. These 4 main Rites then created the over 20 Liturgical Rites present today in the one, Holy, catholic and Apostolic Church. This might bring to mind the question "But isn´┐Żt this being "too" diverse? Isn´┐Żt this going to cause disunity among the Church? Since the early days of Christianity, there has been a problem of "universalism" vs. "particularism"/"diversity vs. uniformity.
Not the easiest to see that only through the variety and diversity of Rites can the Catholic Church realize her "universalness" in the fullest sense; ´┐Ż St. Paul was one of the first to help us realize this. The Popes have repeatedly noted the importance of diversity in Rites in the Church. "Perhaps nothing, in fact, better proves the note of Catholicity in the Church of God than the singular homage paid by ceremonies (rites) which vary in form, which are celebrated in languages venerable by their antiquity, and which are still further hallowed by the use that has been made of them by the Apostles and Fathers of the Church" (Pope Leo XIII, Orientalium Dignitas, Nov. 30, 1894).
A Church is the assembly of the faithful, hierarchically ordered, both in the entire world (Catholic Church) or in a certain territory (particular Church). To be a sign of the Mystical Body of Christ, a Church must have both head and members. The Head of the Mystical Body is the sacred hierarchy (the bishops, priests and deacons) fulfilling their duties of teaching, sanctifying, and governing. The Mystical Body of Christ is the laity--the flock of Christ. Therefore, the Church of Christ is fully present sacramentally (by way of a sign) wherever there is a chief shepherd (a bishop and those who assist him) and Christian people entrusted to his care. The Head of the Mystical Body of Christ is also present sacramentally in ritual Churches. They are organized under a Patriarch who--with the priests--represent Christ the Head to the people of that tradition/Rite. A Rite can have a celebration of the Eucharist which is unique to that Church (such as the Maronite Church), or it can be common among various Churches in one Rite (such as the Byzantine Rite). To be Catholic, particular Churches and ritual Churches must be in communion with the Successor of St. Peter, just as the other Apostles were in communion with him in establishing Churches in areas, which they evangelized.

The Five Main Rites of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church: ´┐Ż Roman/Latin Rite (aka. the "Western Church") ´┐Ż Antioch ´┐Ż Alexandrian ´┐Ż Byzantine ´┐Ż Armenian the "Eastern Churches" (IN COMMUNION with Rome; NOT to be confused with the Orthodox church) During the first 300 years when the Rites were forming:
Most Ceremonies were of Eastern Origin ´┐ŻGreek, not Latin, was the predominate language used in Liturgies and documents (reason why priests sometimes take courses in Greek as well as Latin in the seminary). ´┐Ż In the 3rd century, Latin began to be used in Rome, and flowed outward from there to the rest of the Western Church. The Triple Tiara which the Pope used to wear (Pope Paul VI gave it to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. after Vatican II) represents the three "hats" that the Holy Father wears (literal, not figurative, hats): ´┐ŻBishop of Rome - Not personally involved in day-to-day events, but the Pope does take an active role as Archbishop of Rome ´┐Ż Patriarch of the West - Head of the Roman Rite, similar to the heads/Patriarchs of the other 3 main Rites ´┐Ż Capacity as Pope - Equal pastor of all Catholics of all of the Rites (in a sense, an "equal" member of all Rites in this capacity)
A recent surge in interest in the different Rites of the Catholic Church was caused by the near-election of the successor to Pope Pius XII. John XXIII was elected by a narrow margin over the Armenian Patriarch, Cardinal Gregory Peter Agajanian XV. Also, Pope Paul VI (successor to John XXIII) was a member of the Ambrosian Rite of the Roman Rite, so not all Popes are members of the Latin Rite, or of the Roman/Western Church.
Western Rites and Church ROMAN CHURCH The Church of Rome is the Primal See of the world and the Patriarchal See of Western Christianity. Founded by St. Peter in 42 it was consecrated by the blood of Sts. Peter and Paul during the persecution of Nero (63-67 AD). It has maintained a continual existence since then and is the source of a family of Rites in the West. While the origin of the current Rite, even in the reform of Vatican II, can be directly traced to only the 4th century, these connections point to an ancient apostolic tradition brought to that city that was decidedly Jewish in origin. After the Council of Trent (1560) it was necessary to consolidate liturgical doctrine and practice in the face of the Protestant Revolt. Thus, Pope St. Pius V imposed the Rite of Rome on the Latin Church (the Rites subject to him in his capacity as Patriarch of the West), allowing only smaller Western Rites with hundreds of years of history to remain. Many younger Rites of particular dioceses or regions ceased to exist. So, the term "Roman" Rite wasn´┐Żt created until the 1500s.
Latin. Rite of an overwhelming majority of Roman Catholics, and majority of Catholics in general. ´┐Ż Named because of the use of Latin in the Liturgy, and is still part of Canon Law: "The eucharistic celebration is to be carried out either in the Latin language or in another language, provided the liturgical texts have been lawfully approved." (Cannon 928, 1983 Code)
Ambrosian. The Rite of the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy ´┐Ż Thought to be of an early origin; probably consolidated, but not originated, by St. Ambrose in the 4th century.
Bragan. Rite of the Archdiocese of Braga, the Primal See of Portugal, it is only occasionally used. Derives from the 12th century or earlier.
Mozarabic. Confined to the Rite of the Iberian peninsula-specifically, the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Toledo, Spain, and 6 of its parishes. Known to exist from at least the Beginning in the 11th century it was generally replaced by the Roman Rite, although it has remained in the locations listed above. Its celebration today is generally semi-private.
Dominican. Rite of the Order of Friars Preacher (OP), founded by St. Dominic in 1215. Carmelite ´┐Ż Rite of the Order of Carmel, whose modern foundation was by St. Berthold c.1154.
Carthusian. Rite of the Cathusian Order founded by St. Bruno in 1084.

Eastern Rites and Churches.
They have their own hierarchy distinct from the Latin Rite, system of governance (synods) and general law (the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches). The Supreme Pontiff exercises his authority over them through the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.

ANTIOCHIAN CHURCH.
The Church of Antioch in Syria (on the Mediterranean coast) is considered an apostolic see by virtue of having been founded by St. Peter. It was one of the ancient centers of the Church, as the New Testament attests, and is the source of a family of similar Rites using the ancient Syriac language (the Semitic dialect used in Jesus' time and better known as Aramaic). Its Liturgy is attributed to St. James and the Church of Jerusalem. It is divided up into two main areas: the Eastern Syrian Church, and the Western Syrian Church.
1. EAST SYRIAN Chaldean ´┐ŻFollowing Arian heresy in 4th century (Christ was a perfect creature, but not Divine), Nestorius of Constantinople taught that Christ was Divine and human´┐Żbecause Christ was "2 persons". ´┐ŻAs the Council of Nicea (431) corrected this error, Nestorious and his followers fled to Persia and other parts of the world ´┐ŻSome gradually (and slowly) returned to the Church in 1692.
Syro-Malabarese ´┐ŻPart of the defectors that followed Nestorius, they settled in South India, and continued their use of the East Syriac liturgy. ´┐ŻWith the help of Jesuit missionaries, they returned to communion with Rome in the 16th century.
2. WEST SYRIAN Maronite ´┐ŻSyrian Christians who retired into the mountains of Lebanon for protection against political and religious enemies. ´┐Ż When the Crusaders ´┐Żran into them´┐Ż in the 12th century, they immediately proclaimed their unity with the Catholic Church, and they still pride themselves to this day that they have never formally separated themselves from it. ´┐Ż Because they have never left communion with Rome, they are one of the few Rites that has no non-Catholic counterpart, e.g. there are no Orthodox or Monophysite Maronites--the only Maronites are Catholics.
Syriac ´┐Ż20 years after Nestorius´┐Ż preached his heresy, the Monophysite heresy taught that Christ was indeed 1 person--with just one nature (Divine). (Monophysite means "one-natured). The Council of Chalcedon (451) corrected this, but many Syrians and Egyptians followed this teaching out of the Church (many in Egypt still hold this view to this day). They eventually grew into the Pure Syrian Rite, and many returned to Rome in 1781.
Malankarese. Another group of Catholics in South India, they were originally evangelized by St. Thomas but later left the Church during a heresy. ´┐ŻEventually reunited with Rome in 1930 under the guidance of their charismatic leader Mar Ivanios.

ALEXANDRIAN CHURCH:
The Church of Alexandria in Egypt was one of the original centers of Christianity, since like Rome and Antioch it had a large Jewish population, which was the initial object of apostolic evangelization. Its Liturgy is attributed to St. Mark the evangelist, and shows the later influence of the Byzantine Liturgy, in addition to its unique elements. Copti Due to their dependence on Egypt, many Coptic Catholics in Ethiopia/other parts of Africa followed the Monophysite heresy in the 5th. ´┐Ż A small minority of Coptics returned to the fullness of the Faith in 1741, and retained the customs they had for the prior 12 centuries. ´┐Ż A majority of Copts/Coptics in the world are not Catholics, and elect their own "pope" in Alexandria. They are often lumped together with the Orthodox Church (much to the Orthodox´┐Żs dismay, since they also view them as "heretics"). Ethiopian/Abyssinian ´┐Ż Coptic Christians in Ethiopia who returned to Rome in 1846.

BYZANTINE CHURCH
The Church of Constantinople became the political and religious center of the eastern Roman Empire after the Emperor Constantine built a new capital there (324-330) on the site of the ancient town of Byzantium. Constantinople developed its own liturgical rite from the Liturgy of St. James, in one form as modified by St. Basil, and in a more commonly used form, as modified by St. John Chrysostom. After 1054, except for brief periods of reunion, most Byzantine Christians have not been in communion with Rome. They make up the Orthodox Churches of the East, whose titular head is the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Orthodox Churches are mostly self-headed, united to each other by communion with Constantinople, which exercises no real authority over them. They are typically divided into Churches along national lines (such as the Russian Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Church, etc.). Those that have returned to communion with the Holy See are represented among the Eastern Churches and Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. The two main Churches in the Byzantine Catholic Church are the Armenian and the Byzantine.
1. ARMENIAN ´┐Ż It is considered either its own Rite or an older version of the Byzantine, although its exact liturgical form is not used by any other Byzantine Rite. ´┐Ż Composed of Catholics from the first people to convert as a nation, the Armenian Rite was developed under the guidance of St. Gregory the Illuminator before the Great councils in the 4th century. ´┐Ż The Armenians sided with the Monophysites and left the Church in 451, but many returned during the Crusades. Most of the Armenians in the world are members of the Orthodox Church and are not in union with Rome.
2. BYZANTINE Even though the Polish, Czech, Slovenian, most of Slovak and Croatian people now belong to the Roman Rite, originally they did not and were ´┐Żpushed´┐Ż under the authority of German bishops as the Carolingian military began to subdue these areas. The majority of those who practice the Byzantine Rite (often popularly called "Greek Catholics" or "Greek Rite") are not, in fact, Greek at all, but Slavs. The Slavic language is still maintained in use within the liturgy because it is still a 'vernacular' language within the liturgical meaning of the term as people still speak it in their homes. The Romanians and Hungarians do not use Slavonic, however, but their own languages, and those of Italy and Sicily use Greek rather than Slavonic, Italian or Latin. The use of English is widespread in the United States in all usages of the Byzantine Rite.
Albanian. Albanian Christians, numbering only 1400 today, who resumed communion with Rome in 1628.
Belarussian/Byelorussian. Unknown number of Belarussians who returned to Rome in the 17th century. Bulgarian. Some of the Bulgarian Christians left the Orthodox Church and returned to Rome in 1861.
Czech. The Czech Rite was recently organized into a jurisdiction in 1996.
Krizevci. Croatian Catholics of Byzantine Rite who resumed communion with Rome in 1611. Most Croatians are Roman Rite.
Greek. Comprised of Greek Christians who returned to Rome in 1829, there are only 2,500 Greek Catholics in Greece, Asia Minor (Turkey) and Europe.
Hungarian. Descendants of Ruthenians who returned to Rome in 1646.
Italo-Albanian. Never separated from Rome, these 60,000 Byzantine Rite Catholics are found in Italy, Sicily and the Americas.
Melkite. Catholics from among those separated from Rome in Syria and Egypt who resumed Communion with Rome at the time of the Crusades, although definitive union only came in the 18th century. "Melk" in Syriac means "king", and they were known as "the King´┐Żs Men" because the minority of Melkites in Egypt frequently turned to the Emperor in Constantinople for assistance during their persecution. Their customs gradually slipped into disuse over time, and eventually adopted the Byzantium customs held to this day.
Romanian. Romanians who returned to Rome in 1697, most Romanian Christians are Romanian Orthodox.
Russian. Russians who returned to communion with Rome in 1905; the vast majority of Christians in Russia are Russian Orthodox.
Ruthenian. Catholics from among those separated from Rome in Russia, Hungary and Croatia who reunited with Rome in 1596 (Brest-Litovsk) and 1646 (Uzhorod).
Slovak ´┐ŻByzantine Rite Catholics of Slovakian origin numbering 225,000 and found in Slovakia and Canada.
Ukrainian Catholics from among those separated from Rome by the Greek Schism and reunited about 1595. During the Soviet era, Ukrainian Catholics were violently forced to join the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Their hierarchy, which continued to exist outside of Russia, has since be re-established in the Ukraine.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE WESTERN AND EASTERN CHURCHES
Sacraments ´┐Ż Eastern Catholic Churches administer the Sacrament of Confirmation at Baptism ´┐ŻThe Western Church confirms its members at various ages (commonly age 12-15 in the US)
Holy Days/Feast Days Held in Importance in the Eastern Churches ´┐ŻLent begins on the Monday of the week of Ash Wednesday, not Ash Wednesday itself ´┐ŻSt. George the Martyr - April 23 ´┐ŻProtection of Our Lady - October 1 ´┐ŻSt. Nicholas - December 6
Religious Symbols ´┐ŻMosaics and icons are the common adornment to Churches and homes in the Eastern Church, while the Western Church has preferred the usage of statues.
Theologians ´┐ŻWestern Church Fathers focused and speculated on ethical problems, sin, free will, grace, satisfaction and justification ´┐ŻEastern Church Fathers only used philosophy when revealed truths were attacked from within in heresy/error, or from outside in dealing with pagan philosophy. Occasionally used rules of deductive reasoning but always stressed Faith, which was considered the highest philosophy.
The Cross. Western Church uses single horizontal bar to symbolize the Cross Christ was crucified on Eastern Church uses three horizontal bars (longest in the middle) to symbolize: oTop bar: Plate hung by Pilate reading INRI ("Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews") in Latin, Greek and Hebrew oMiddle bar: The wood of the Cross carried by Christ oLower bar: Footrest on a cross (which only causes more pain when used by one who is crucified); later slanted ´┐ŻUse of the three-barrred Cross is very ancient, appearing in an icon of Our Lady of the Passion (one of the oldest icons)
Fasting In the West: ´┐Ż Form of fasting was typically reducing amount of food consumed, due to bland, non-varied meals from day to day. Normal day in the West was having two full meals; fasting days had one full meal and one lighter meal. ´┐Ż For a majority of Western Church members, meat (and even fish) was not common to see on the dinner plate. Abstain from meat every Friday during the year. Fast (depending on your normal meals) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday
In the East: Form was actually an "abstinence" from favorite kinds foods, since the Eastern economy was much wealthier and had a larger variety of foods. Abstain from certain foods every Friday during the year (similar to the Roman Church) Strict Fast on first Monday of Lent, Good Friday and Holy Saturday (no foods that contain animal products OR come from animals, such as eggs, milk, cheese and butter)
Married Clergy: Not a single 'practicing' priest in the Church has EVER married; there have only been instances of married men who later became ordained. If a priest were to leave the Priesthood and later married, it is a different situation since the priest has had his faculties (ability to administer sacraments) suspended by the Church when he left the Priesthood.
In the West: Due to various reasons, the Western Church instituted the discipline of only unmarried men being ordained (except for some Protestants who have entered the Church in recent years) In the early years of the Church, it was difficult to find a single man in his 40-50s who would make a good Bishop: therefore, some married men were consecrated Bishops. However, married clergy in both Rites have always followed guidelines concerning conjugal relations between themselves and their spouses and the celebration of the Mass, etc. In addition, both Rites have always mandated that if a married priest is consecrated a Bishop, he must live like "brother and sister" with his wife.
In the East: Except for the decision of the Holy Father for only unmarried men to be ordained in the Eastern Catholic Church in the US and Canada, the Eastern Church has always allowed the possibility of married men being ordained to the Priesthood.

Bibliography EWTN Q&A Frequently Asked Questions Forum: http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/conference.htm Catholic Information Network: http://www.cin.org/rite.html
I speak with the successor of the fisherman...Though I acknowledge none as first except Christ, I am joined in communion with your Holiness, that is to say, in communion with the Chair of Peter. I know that it is upon that rock that the Church has been built. ´┐Ż St. Jerome, Ad Damasum, circa 420 A.D.

The Syro-Malabar Rite. By Fr. Ephrem Pottamplackal, M.C.B.S.
The Syro-Malabar Church was founded by St. Thomas the Apostle. He came to Kerala in India in 52 A.D. He preached Christ among Hindus, which is the prevalent community in India. There he established seven churches or communities adapting the local culture and converting their temples into our churches. So we find many churches in Indian or Hindu architecture.
When you get into the church you see no pews. People stand to prayer and the holy Mass the entire time. Kneeling and genuflection are not part of Indian culture. Inside and outside you see no statues, not even a crucifix. We use the St. Thomas Cross.
The sanctuary is separated by a veil. It is only opened during the Mass after the creed until holy Communion time. In the sanctuary the Holy of Holies, there is the holy Altar, the most important thing in the church, and the St. Thomas Cross. Women are not permitted in the sanctuary. In the side chapels, there is the Blessed Sacrament on one side and the holy Bible on the other. That is the setting of the church.
We don't use different colors such as blue for Advent, purple for Lent and red for martyrs. For us the color is always gold representing the kingship and divinity of Christ.We don't have different Masses, such as Mass for the dead, children, etc. We have just one Mass -- for the glory of God. You'll see no choir in the church because the whole congregation is singing. A solemn Mass is for three hours, all the time standing and singing. A standard Mass lasts one and one half hours, and the church is fully packed for the service.
The Catholic Church is the communion of churches. It is the garden of God having 21 churches (rites) each with its own specialities and practices. In the Catholic Church there are seven major rites. They are Alexandrian, Armenian, Antiochene, Assyrian, Byzantine, Chaldean and Roman. Except for the Roman, all the others are called Oriental or Eastern churches. All of these major Eastern churches have sister churches, which make a total of 21 rites. The Syro-Malabar church is a sister church of the Chaldean church.
The Syro-Malabar theology teaches that Christ saved man by his one salvific "act." God has no "acts." Plurality is an imperfection to God. God the Father creates; the Son saves; the Holy Spirit sanctifies.
So the salvific act is one, singular, but it has nine phases or steps: 1) Annunciation, 2) Birth, 3) Baptism, 4) Public life and teaching, 5) Last Supper and institution of Blessed Sacrament, 6) Suffering and death, 7) Burial, 8) Resurrection, and 9) Ascension. Christ's salvific act started with the Father, in heaven. At the command of the Father, his Son leaves heaven and comes to the earth to be born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And that is the Annunciation. That is the Good News delivered to our mother Mary.
We too were once with God our Father. At the appropriate time, he created me in my mother's womb. We may say he also creates "in" me with new cells, with new spiritual insight, ideas and thoughts, etc. He creates everything new for me because God has no past and future.
The Syro-Malabar theology is rooted in the Gospel of St. John and in Pauline theology where Christ is humble, subservient and glorifying the Father (Jn 4:36; 5:30 and Phil 2:6-8). He, in obedience to the Father:*
became flesh (Jn 1:14) (full of frailty)*
remained in the womb of mother Mary for 10 months, was born in a manger (poorest birthday),
* was considered a public sinner (baptism of John),
* was rejected by all (Jn. 5:63),
* received a most heinous death (crucifixion),
* was buried in another's tomb (Jn 20:41), *became bread and food (Eucharist).Womb to tomb we see the annihilation of Christ.
The core of Syro-Malabar Mass is the Resurrection of Christ. St. Thomas had a profound and touching experience of the Risen Lord. Just for him, Christ appeared; and Thomas was asked to put his finger into his side (Jn 20:26-28). Thereby he experienced the mystery of Christ.
So the Resurrection of Christ is the most important and the greatest solemnity in the church. And it gives us joy, strength and hope. There is the sense of glorified Christianity. St. Thomas preached the Risen Lord to the Hindus because they are a God-seeking, God-experiencing and religious-minded people. India is the mother (cradle) of the world religions. The Hindus believe in rebirth.
The Holy Spirit is given due reverence in the Syro-Malabar Mass. Syro-Malabar theology teaches that the same spirit that was active in the creation of the world (Gen 1:2) was active in the incarnation (Lk 1:35). The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, that transformed the Apostles, now transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
So if there is a most important part in the Divine Liturgy (although there is no part as most important, all parts are equal), it is the invocation of the Holy Spirit and that falls after the "Institution Words." There are no "Consecration Words" in our Mass. Consecration and transubstantiation is done by the Holy Spirit. This hints at the mystery aspect of our Mass. The priest stands all the time facing the altar with his back to the people (priest and people marching to one goal), facing east (waiting for the second coming of the Lord).
To experience of God is the basic need of all. We search for God in the depth of our heart or meet him high in heaven. There are two approaches to a high place. Either climb the steps and reach there tired or go round and round up the hill. This takes a longer time, but expends less energy. It is the Indian method.
Repetition is the essential element of Indian prayer. For the Hindus, saying the name of their god (Sahasranama) a thousand times is the prayer. They squat on the floor, close all their senses and say "O...m" a thousand times, going up and up, or deeper and deeper, until they are one with God. And that unity is long-standing. It takes time and practice.
Mass is a prayer. It is the expression of faith, adoration, thanksgiving, humility, entreaty and reparation. It is the acknowledgement of our sonship and of walking in the path of Christ. (That is why we stand, as kneeling is slavish.)
We came from God, were born as human beings in history and baptized into Christ, acknowledging our sinfulness and need of redemption.
In our public life we have our sufferings, death, burial, resurrection and our ascension, by which we will again be with our Father.
So our life, as is Christ's, is a circle. It ends with God. All phases are equally important. We live the Mass. Our life becomes one with Christ. We meditate on it, gain grace and strength from every Mass. We don't go to the Mass to fulfill the obligation.
On any given Sunday only 10 percent of the congregation will receive Holy Communion. Holy Communion is not pressed unless one is adequately prepared (1 Cor. 11:29-32).
The St. Thomas Cross is an icon of the Holy Trinity. God the Father is the foundation. The cross stands for Christ. The four ends of the cross are growing to the four ends of the world and flowering. The dove represents the Holy Spirit. And he makes the cross (Christ) lively. The lotus is the national flower of India. The cross in the lotus flower means Christ is the savior of India. align=center>Thanks! Come again soon!




Copyright ´┐Ż 2001 by OLPS Church. Last updated on
Hosted by www.Geocities.ws
GridHoster Web Hosting
1