ConAltriOcchi blog – 以不同的眼光看世界-博客

"C'è un solo modo di vedere le cose finché qualcuno non ci mostra come guardare con altri occhi" – "There is only one way to see things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes" (Picasso) – "人观察事物的方式只有一种,除非有人让我们学会怎样以不同的眼光看世界" (毕加索)


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Giving voice to the voiceless. The World Day of Migrants and Refugees

The Church celebrates Sunday, January 15th, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. This year, Pope Francis has chosen as its theme: “Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless.” This day has more than one hundred years and was established in 1914 by Pope Benedict XV.

As we all know, the issue of migrants has become a global emergency. According to data reported by the Foundation ISMU, there are over 181 thousand arrivals via the sea recorded in 2016 in Italy – an increase by 18% compared to the previous year. Of them, 25 thousand are children or youngsters, of which 14% unaccompanied. With this Day we are called to give voice and above all answers to these human beings, especially women and children, who are forced to flee and to leave everything in the hope of a better life. But what answers can we give? Our simple answer is a matter of common sense: humanity, generosity and competence.

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Credit: Website of Archdiocese of Vancouver

First, we note that a lot of information that we are given or that we report are incorrect. This is often the responsibility of some media, but also our own, as citizens. Indeed, we have a duty to get the right information and not to judge based on the feel and appearance. Especially when it comes to issues so fundamental and sensitive, like those of life and safety of humans fleeing because they risked their lives and their safety.

From the information we receive and what we talk about, it seems that migrants and refugees are a large portion of the Italian population. Again according to information of ISMU Foundation, reported on a recent article by Il Sole 24 Ore, Italians believe that immigrants account for 30% of the population, whereas it is a mere 10%. Similarly, they have a perception of a larger Muslim presence, which is seen by many with some apprehension. Such wrong perceptions certainly do not help to address the issue of migrants, which requires the cooperation and goodwill of all, by international institutions, governments, up to us the citizens.

Then, there is we, the Christians. Especially us, we cannot shirk the duty of charity and we cannot be victims of fear, especially if unmotivated. We also need to overcome a narrow and unhistorical view of reality. The Christian vocation implies to shift from particularism to universality. Christianity is, by its nature, open to the world. It is not by chance that Christianity has adapted to many cultures and social systems, “to the ends of the earth”.

For this reason, let us follow Pope’s invitation and what was said prophetically by St. John Paul II at the beginning of his pontificate. Let us open the political and economic borders of our countries. Let us open vacant houses, parishes and religious institutes. And above all, let us open our hearts to our brothers and sisters who are suffering. We will realize once again the reality of the Gospel: if we join our forces, something beautiful and human will come out, as it happened with the five loaves and two fishes that were shared and distributed equitably, with the help of the Lord, and fed much people.

And let us also be faithful to our history. Already in 1914, Pope Benedict XV, wrote to the Italian diocesan bishops the circular letter “The pain and worries”, which requested to establish an annual day to raise awareness and funds in favor of Italian immigrants. Over the years, this prophetic initiative of the Pope, which was conceived in the context of the First World War, has evolved and has been adjusted to the circumstances, as it is today. Therefore, the pastoral action of the Church regarding the migration issue has a long history and considerable experience, and has always been a fundamental part of her Social Doctrine. We Christians must practice it and implement it in the world, according to the times and the moments.

History teaches that fear is always a bad counselor. Our fears, then, are relative. From the point of view of migrants, our fears are their hope. After all, if our European and Western culture now feels to be more fragile, insecure and threatened, it is also due to the fact that other peoples are finally claiming dignity and food for their children, after centuries of oppression and exploitation. What the Blessed Paul VI had indicated in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio is happening today. And today we understand better that “development is the new name for peace.”

Let us convert toward a soberer lifestyle, exercising concrete gestures of charity, rather than many forms of devotionism to the limit of faith that do not bring benefit to anyone, to our Christian path and our soul. A gesture of charity, a prayer, a different lifestyle can bring something nice, maybe a better life, to someone. Let us add a gesture of charity, some of our time, to a “Hail Mary” that we are required to do as penitence further to Confession. “Love covers a multitude of sins” – says the Scripture. We are a small drop in the ocean, said St. Mother Teresa. Yet now we can all see what the “little pencil in God’s hand” was able to do.

Today on the international stage there is a great opportunity to effectively address the phenomenon of migration. The new Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres led for many years the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR). His experience in this field is a very important factor and certainly weighed on his election. It is also something hopeful. The world, in its most important institution, seems to have finally decided to address decisively and without more referrals the humanitarian crisis linked to the emergency of migrants, which is a daily emergency. Guterres is also a practicing Catholic. We think he can combine his technical and political skills with the Christian humanism.

And let us not forget the work of mercy and prophetic action of our beloved Pope Francis, who decided to lead himself the office dedicated to the migrants of the new Congregation for Integral Human Development.

Let us pray and work as much as we can for our brothers and sisters, let us open our hearts to them, each of us according to our own ability, sensitivity, and skills.


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Non violence: a style of politics for peace

Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Peace 2017 was published with the title: “Non violence: a style of Politics for Peace” .  Fifty years have gone by since Paul VI, with an almost prophetical intuition, established that the first of January each year would be dedicated to the crucial issue of peace. This year, the Pope has proclaimed that active “non violence” is “ a peace-building strategy, the pivot on which the message revolves. The names of great, non violent peace builders come to mind such as Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Nelson Mandela and also the enormous commitment of the Italian Radical Party in such a delicate field.

The first violence is that of the eye; we work for peace and build it, learning day after day to look at the world with the eyes of the Spirit, learning how to examine the signs of our times. Fatalism, judgement without the right to appeal, are only ways to hide our disengagement, to seek shelter outside the real world.  The Pope challenges us, instead, to “construct Society and communities with the style of peace builders”. We can see it clearly even today: the repercussions of war fall above all on the poor. However, we can also see the strength of the evangelic message, which has survived through the ages and is always able to  ring out resoundingly: «blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek…». When the poor regain hope,  then war is stripped naked showing all its absurdity and uselessness. We see  many wars in these times but also much hope not defeated or annihilated by the warlords.

Moreover, we are faced with an inexorable decadence in a part of the world which has created history and is now using arms to try and stop history  changing.  History has, however, already changed and now the shadow of death, caused not by war but by self-destruction, hangs over many Western skies.  The future has migrated elsewhere and passes through those places in the world where the  outcasts, widows, orphans and the poor live; the evangelical categories of those who have never counted as anything in the eyes of the warlords and their silent and opulent accomplices. None of us can allow ourselves to stay on the outskirts of this true revolution of the poor who are seeking peace. In order to be efficient, this revolution must always begin in the private sphere and the distinction between private and public is, in this sense, a deception worked out across the board by a part of that culture of which we are heirs.  Pope Francis writes: “ may charity and non violence  govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life”.

We must begin to live the change by modifying the private spaces of our responsibilities. Only men of the Beatitudes can build peace and integrate naturally into the great peace processes of history.  The powerful, the privileged, the lobbies will always be foreign bodies in the peace process and will become, almost without realizing it, allies of war. When I want to qualify non violence, I say, justice, respect of diversity, peace, common good.  I say the Beatitudes, words which give many names to this single truth to which Jesus was the first witness.  Jesus is the witness of non violence, this non violence of the many names, which are the beatitudes.

When someone has authority, a company a position of leadership, or when a country owns resources, they should not defend them by the sword.  Jesus said to Pilate: if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight.  To fight by the sword is to kill, is the violence which creates only defeats and no victors. In fact, our history is a river of blood spilt in the name of the principle that without a sword a kingdom cannot go on existing. This is why we are always at war. «Put your sword back in its sheath» said Jesus to Peter, otherwise right will always be with the strongest, the most violent, the cruellest and the best armed.  Certainly, at times, we must even be afraid when the powerful make peace.  We must never forget and underestimate the fact that Jesus was crucified when Pilate and Herod became friends and made peace over his tortured body.

We must never ask Politics to defend religion; how many times do we hear that politician, that party defends Catholic values. We must never ask Politics to defend religion because we risk turning the Lord’s house into a market and a cavern of thieves; indeed, it is not even a risk but a certainty. We must demand instead that Politics, the kingdoms of this world that is, to defend the dignity and liberty of mankind, of every man and woman and especially today, migrants and all minorities.

Let us then  world leaders, to make peace, real peace, and not on the shoulders of the poor.  Let us pray for peace which is not a burden for the poor. For example, a peace envisaging the continuous use of arms and leads to famine in half the world is not peace. Let us pray then to our Lord Jesus Christ, King of Peace. A kingliness which, with the enormous efforts of Pope Francis, is freeing itself from all the robes and crowns of the age of Constantine, becoming a ripe seed to build a non violent world where: “we don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace but to get together, to love each other” ( Mother Teresa of Calcutta speech when she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979).

 


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All Saints Day And The Remenbrance of our dead in Diocese of Natitingou

Fr Igor KASSAH, Parish Administrator 

Saint  Martin of Tours,

Natitingou

Every year the church invites us to celebrate on the 1st and 2nd November, the mystery of our Redemption by means of the festivity of All Saints  (1st November) and the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed (2nd November).  By means of these devout celebrations, the liturgy opens our eyes to the church and its triple theological dimension: the Church Militant, the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant.  During these celebrations, God’s people, still in pilgrimage on this earth, lift their prayers to the Lord on behalf of all the faithful departed in order to praise Him and invoke His mercy.

The church of the Diocese of Natitingou, tigether with the universal Church, has not failed to celebrate these different feast days. It recalled, in addition to all the recognized saints, all its Christian sisters and brothers who have led an exemplary life of faith based on the Gospel.  Among the latter, we can surely mention the many missionaries of the Society of African Missions (S.M.A) thanks to whom we received the first evangelical announcement, those priests, those brothers and sisters, those catechists  who devoted their life to ensure the deeply rooted establishment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Many of them, by means of their pastoral activities, also devoted themselves to peace, to the fight against poverty, to the fight against the extreme poverty still present in certain villages and towns, to the fight against the exploitation of children. Many are those who have sought to protect and assist  married couples often threatened by masonic ideologies.  All those who make up the procession of saints whom we call  «our anonymous saints» who also, indubitably, intercede forcefully for us as they experienced our human condition.

On the afternoon of 1st November, all the  faithful from the parishes of the city  assembled at the Catholic cemetery to pray during the commemoration of the departed and blessing of the tombs. With this gesture, we recommend all our Christian departed to the Divine Mercy.

On 2nd November, devoted to the commemoration of the departed, the faithful formulated their requests which were all read out before the Holy Communion; in order to avoid that the reading of the long list of request prolong the duration of the Holy Mass,  we  started the celebration earlier (by about 15 to 30 minutes).

In my Parish, Saint Martin of Tours, there is a prayer group which goes to the homes of the faithful who so wish; this group prays with the families and implores the intercession of the Virgin Mary, our Lady of Sorrows, that God may save the souls in Purgatory.

In Christ


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The king is dead, long live the king!

Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States of America. The new president will swear his oath of office on the Bible; a private ceremony will be heldin the White House Blue Room, followed by a public ceremony on 20 January, traditionally held before Midday, when the President’s term officially begins. The oath of office of the President of the United States of America is traditionally taken before the chief justice of the US Supreme Court and reads“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States”.

The president will take the oath on the Bible. Traditionally, this is not just a formal act but has a profound meaning. Trump is also a very wealthy man. In the Bible, Jesus considers wealth merely a tool and warns us that it often becomes evil because men use it as an instrument of power and domination, even as a means  for exterminating the poor. We can all see how, worldwide,there is a planned and conscious effort to exterminate the poor. We have invested huge sums of money in producing weapons, as a result of which millions of people are killed. Regarding wealth, it is our responsibility to do what we can to transform it into an instrument for liberating mankind.

This is the biblical meaning of the love of God. Not empty words, but actual facts and solid commitment to achieve economic solidarity, social policies and an inclusive – not exclusive – welfare system, the awareness that the United States is a great country belonging to a global world, where there is urgent need for the globalisation of solidarity, not of indifference.

Let us pray for the United States of America and its new president that he may fulfil the Word of God, on which, in a certain sense, the entire American people take the oath, and live up to the Constitution and history of that country.


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My brief encounters with Saint “Mother” Teresa

We are happy to post a beautiful and touching sharing of our dearest friend fr. Valerian, a Salesian Indian priest living in the State of Maharashtra, the the big city of Mumbai (Bombay) is located. He writes us on the occasion of the forthcoming and much waited for canonization of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, which will take place in St. Pietro next Sunday and will be presided by Pope Francis. this witness by Fr. Valerian ok one side makes us very grateful to him to have shared these direct experiences of knowing personally Mother Teresa, experiences that he keeps in his heart and as memories.  On the other side we cannot but feel some regret for not being able – many of us – to meet this little yet big saint of our times. Let us pray that Mother teresa be closer to us with het maternal love and her intercession. 

From India Fr. Valerian Pereira, sdb

Whoever said: to live with the saints in heaven is all honour and glory, but to live with the saints on earth is quite a different story, must be talking of pseudo-saints. Mother Teresa, who will be canonized by Pope Francis on 4th September 2016, to me was certainly no pseudo-saint, as a few biased critics make her out to be.

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My first personal contact with this frail looking nun was at the Mumbai airport in 1987. As I walked through security into the departure lounge, I saw a crowd of passengers standing in awe and gazing at a person who was seated quietly, all by herself. As I got closer to the scene, I recognized Mother Teresa in her blue-bordered white sari and her simple wooden-handle shopping bag. Something within impelled me to approach her. With a gentle smile and a welcome nod, she invited me to sit down by her side and as I did, I introduced myself as a priest and a Salesian of Don Bosco. Right from the start of our brief conversation, she came across to me as very motherly. I told her I was in Pune and requested her for more than an “autograph” – a message for my community of young seminarians. This is what she wrote: “Teach your seminarians to find joy in sacrifice.” I was reminded of Mama Margaret’s words to her newly ordained son, John Bosco: “Remember, to be a priest is to begin to suffer.” Over the years, I have understood that “joy in sacrifice” is the essence of motherhood, just as it is of all true parenting. I have experienced its wisdom and have felt its challenge in my own attempts at being a Salesian priest and pastor.

Her precious time permitting, Mother Teresa attended the annual meetings of the CRI (Conference of Religious India). What impressed me was that though she sat through the sessions, mostly quiet and without pretensions, her humble presence and lively interaction with members of the assembly during breaks had a formative influence on us all.

But my best memory of Mother Teresa was a spiritual retreat I was invited to animate for the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta back in 1990. The retreatants were superiors of the many Missionaries of Charity communities in East Africa and Asia and their foundress was to attend as well. Mother Teresa arrived at the airport late night on the eve of the retreat. She was received warmly by a small group of sisters, and was treated respectfully by the immigration and customs officials. However, there was one problem. The young novice from Poland who accompanied Mother Teresa was held up at the immigration desk since, at that time, communist Poland had no diplomatic relations with India. The Chief Immigration Officer could not be immediately contacted for special clearance. The officer on duty suggested that Mother Teresa could proceed to her convent. The Polish sister, they assured her, would be well cared for while she awaited clearance. Mother Teresa remained with the sister saying: “You have held back my daughter and I must stay with her.” The Chief Immigration Officer was finally contacted by 2 a.m. and an entry permit was granted to the young novice. What a motherly testimony of “joy in sacrifice”!

The next morning, despite a sleepless night, Mother Teresa was punctually present at 7 a.m. in the chapel, for the first meditation conference of the retreat. She devoutly participated in all the liturgical services and listened attentively to the talks while seated in the last row. Overwhelmed by her humble presence, I concluded each talk by sitting by her side and inviting her to share her own reflections on the topic. She did so, humbly and reverently. While I preached from the front, from a pedestal of theory, she preached from the back pew with words incarnated in life-giving acts of selfless motherly love for the poor, sick and abandoned.

Preaching in the presence of a saint whom I always held in high esteem, was a privilege albeit embarrassing. Therefore, when she approached me with childlike confidence for spiritual guidance that was followed by her confession, my nervousness knew no bounds: I just could not remember the formula of absolution! Instead, Mother Teresa was one penitent who converted me into a repentant confessor.

At the end of the retreat, she thanked me profusely and graciously gifted a rosary for my own mother. She even accepted my request to visit Don Bosco Boys Town in Nairobi the following day. Unfortunately, she could not make it as she had caught the flu.

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In a world terrorized and torn apart by forces of hate and destruction; in a society rife with crimes against the dignity of women the canonization of Mother Teresa on September 4 will stand out like a beacon of selfless motherly love. It will not only place her among the saints of the Catholic Church, but will inspire all people to recognize and respect God’s “motherly” countenance in the face of every woman who walks on our streets and lives in our homes.

May God’s Word, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do unto me”, find concrete expression in our lives as it did in the life of the great Missionary of Charity, the “Motherly Saint Teresa”.