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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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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Contemplate this Holy Year, by starting from the Cross

On Mount Calvary, in front of the Cross, it is better not to talk or to cry out but only to contemplate.    Let us contemplate the Cross as a synthesis of all those who give their lives for love.  Let us also contemplate this Holy Year which has ended, by starting from the Cross; let us contemplate it, not by referring to numbers, or to major events but only to the Mystery of the Cross.   I would also like to say let us contemplate the Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Sì, Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s three great documents as well, starting here, from a Pope who just like Jesus wishes to give his life for  the human family he so loves and who tells the Church “You must do this too” as he tells each and everyone of us.  We have received with joy  Pope Francis’s  Apostolic Letter  “Misericordia et Misera” in order to listen to the final words of the Bishop of Rome on the Holy Year of Mercy.

Meanwhile let us contemplate the Cross. ”Ecce Homo”.  Whoever sees this man on the cross sees God, our faith tells us.  It is Jesus on the Cross not Caifa . This point is very important.   We have to be careful of the Politics which wants to defend religion.   How often do we hear that such and such a politician or party defends  Catholic values? We must be careful because there is the risk of turning God’s house into a market or a cavern of thieves;  indeed, it is not a risk but almost a certainty. We must rather ask  Politics, the kingdoms of this world that is,  with force to defend the dignity and freedom of men and women, of all men and women and especially, today, migrants and all minorities.  Let us therefore ask Trump and Putin and other world leaders, to make peace but real peace. Not only do we have to fear when the Mighty make war but also when they make peace.  Jesus was nailed to the Cross when Pilate and Herod made peace over Him, on His suffering.

Let us pray for a peace which will never again be shouldered by the poor.   For example, a peace made  when brandishing arms is not true peace.    Nor can peace between people who in private are immoral or amoral  be called peace.

Let us pray then to Jesus with his two biblical titles.  Let us pray today to Christ the King of Peace.  A kingdom which is freeing itself of all the cloaks and crowns of Constantine as a result of the enormous missionary efforts made by Pope Francis; the kingdom of Christ  is Peace and Mercy.   Let us pray to Christ the King of Peace and Mercy. Let us then pray to the Son of Man who, even though he was the son learned obedience from the things he suffered: Jesus King of Peace and Mercy suffered the violence of Power which rebelled against him;  power, also causes the Pope to suffer, but just like Jesus, he doesn’t answer. 

It might appear that by dying on the Cross, Jesus lost;  it might appear that the Church of Mercy is destined to lose;  so mighty is Power. Instead, Christ has already won, the Pope of Mercy has already won, because mercy is not only in the hands of certain holy people whom we meet throughout history but also in the hands of Our Father who is in Heaven.

That cross, that Son of Man, was resurrected by the Father who made him the Lord!  Where? On which throne? Not on any throne. This King’s throne is the conscience of those men and women who believe in mercy, peace, dialogue, ecumenism and universal brotherhood and are prepared to give their life for this faith.   This is why the Church of Mercy has already won.   For the other worldly things, we may have many teachers but when we enter the sphere of pain and death, there is no teacher;  all voices fall silent.  Only from this Pulpit which is the Cross, can the suffering experienced by so many poor people teach us to listen and to contemplate a love  which is even greater than death.   Only a Church of Mercy is the Church of Christ.


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Why me? Testimony of a Missionary of Mercy in Mali

We have received and are pleased to publish the testimony of a dear friend of ours appointed by Pope Francis as a Missionary of Mercy, Don Toussaint Ouologuem, a Mali priest.  We are very grateful to Toussaint for this beautiful testimony for, knowing him as we do, we know that he will be capable of announcing the love and infinite mercy of our Father to whomever he meets.

Fr. Toussaint Ouologuemi

If they had asked me to choose a priest in my diocese to be a Missionary of Divine Mercy, I would never have chosen myself. Not because I have a lack of faith in myself or a low opinion of myself but because it is Mercy which is involved, Divine Mercy.

Summing up all my sins, weaknesses, spiritual, intellectual and moral frailties and adding to these my severity of judgment, my search for justice at any cost, the difficulty I have in giving people a second chance, above all those who have in some way, offended me. And to conclude, my youth and lack of experience in the priesthood ( two and a half years). Putting all this together, I would certainly not have chosen myself as a Missionary of Mercy. A sinner, too severe, too young and little experience, I would have defined myself as inadequate for such an important mission.

But here I am; chosen by the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, through the Urban College, approved by my bishop and designated by Pope Francis as a Missionary of Mercy. And I ask myself: why me?

Regardless of the Urban College’s choice, regardless of my bishop’s approval, his Green Light, regardless of the letters and e-mails between myself and the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, regardless of any other human intervention,  I can’t help but see the hand of God in the fact that I was chosen. It is my faith which is asking this of me, my spirituality that is telling this to me, my vocation to the priesthood that is shouting it out loudly. So, I ask myself: why me?

This is the question I have never stopped asking myself and God ever since I was approached the first time because someone, somewhere proposed my name.  With huge joy, with fascination on the one hand and tremendous fear on the other, I willingly accepted this mission.  But ever since then I have been asking myself: why me?

I am now sure that I will ask myself this question way beyond this year, until the end of my days, seeking to understand better the full meaning hidden and desired by God, a meaning both for me and for others.

A few days after my consecration as a Missionary of Mercy, after a Eucharistic Adoration in one of the Churches in Torbe, a holy hand gave me a book, a book called «We  cannot keep quiet about what we have seen». I started to read it straight away a sentence struck me, a sentence which answered my continual question. In fact, the sentence said «when God touches your life he assigns you a duty: to give yourself wholly to Him and be happy in Him in order to announce it to others».

Between conferences on Mercy and missions on the radio and the TV, between homilies and Penitential Celebrations and some personal encounters, I try in every way to carry out my mission as a priest promoting Divine Mercy and spread word of my happiness. But it is never enough. That is why I have never missed an opportunity of asking people to pray for me, just as Pope Francis does on many occasions,  asking people to pray for him.

Many stories about vocation in the Holy Scriptures make us understand that God, for the most part, doesn’t choose someone because that person is already able to accomplish his mission, but he chooses him in order to make him able, suitable for that mission. Therefore it is my duty to be vigilant in order to receive such Grace as God may give me for my mission. May God help me in this.!

This is a Year of Grace which has been granted us.  It is a year in which we have the task of meditating (personally) on God’s Mercy, benefiting from his Divine Mercy (by the sacrament of penitence) and living it (the 14 works of Divine Mercy).

Towards the end of his Bull, Misericordiae Vultus, Pope Francis says:” In this Jubilee Year, let us allow God to surprise us”. I wish to add that we need to allow ourselves to be surprised … by ourselves, : surprised at what we can do that is  beautiful, great and extraordinary meditating on, benefiting from, living and sharing Divine Mercy. God bless us all!

 


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Indians: Mother Teresa, truly a saint !

We are happy to receive and post some reflections about Mother Teresa received from India – Catholics, Hindus and non-believers. These once again confirm the love and highest esteem that Indians have for this woman who put at the center of her life the poorest of the poor.

“It is our great privilege to celebrate the canonisation ceremony of Mother Teresa”, states Fr. Jerin, who is from Kerala, a state where there is a strong Catholic presence. “She is more than a mere religious figure for Indians. Mother is pure and radical symbol of unconditional love, deep sense of compassion, strong faithfulness towards God and the real face of Christian Charity for Indian civilization.” Fr. Jerin, who studied in Rome a few years ago, continues: “Her canonisation is an honour to our own society, in which the democratic values have a deep roots. Mother Teresa Sisters are still promising figures and extraordinary Christian testimonies among other religious communities”.

According to the father, the whole India is awaiting for September 4, when the blessed Mother Teresa will be canonised in St. Peter by Pope Francis. Kolkata, which is the adopted hometown of Mother Teresa, is the powerhouse of celebrations, that take place all over Indian States. Various  delegations, including religious, political and regional representatives, will participate in the ceremony in Rome. The father explains that symposiums, film festivals, open air galleries, road shows, and many more initiatives have started to cherish each moments of this unforgettable event as a sincere tribute to Mother Teresa. Masses, prayer vigils, novenas, processions, relic veneration rallies, pilgrimages to Mother Teresa Centeres are the main attractions of spiritual preparations organized by Christian Communities.

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Among the Indian non-Christians, Mr. Shantanu, originally from North of India, is enthusiastic: “She is truly a Saint! Totally selfless and always in the service of those sufferers who are the most unfortunate and the most disadvantaged, marginalised and excluded of all.” He also feels that “Mother Teresa’s passionate engagement in this most humane of causes deserves every recognition – and the sainthood is indeed a fitting award consistent with her sacrifice (even if she did not consider it that way – at all!) which is another compelling reason for this accolade.”

According to Mrs. Vasundhara, a Hindu lady in her fifties, “Mother Teresa holds a special meaning for most Indians whether or not they belong to the Catholic religion. For the poor people of this part of the world she has always been a Saint – who left her home in Central Europe – far far away and came as an angel of hope.”  Mrs. Vasundhara continues by recalling what Mother Teresa did for the abandoned ones, providing caring for those who were rejected by their families and by Society – at large – excluded for no fault of theirs – other than their falling victims of disease. “She was brave and transcended fear of infection – in embracing them and accepting them and nursing them in her ‘home’, showing extreme magnanimity and generosity! She was loved and admired universally – by people of all religions, and of any caste or creed. A goddess incarnate!”.

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Around St. Peter square the day before the canonization cerimony

Another Hindu lady, Mrs Roy, had various opportunities to meet Mother Teresa and shared something from that experience with us. “Luckily, I have met her three times when I lived in Rome in the 80s and 90s. She was always so affectionate and blessed my little son each time. He has done very well in life – both academically and in career”. Mrs Roy believes that this encounter with Mother Teresa might have worked unconsciously in contributing to his decision to have worked for two months when he was in his twenties, with an NGO in Kolkata focused on the welfare of disadvantaged children. “A wonderful experience for a young person with desire to end misery for the unfortunate children” – she adds. “To me, Mother Teresa struck me as divine – no less. She had an aura around her which showed that she was indeed very special already, forty years ago. The sainthood she is receiving now is only a natural extension of the way she lived her life – for the benefit of humanity and in the service of mankind. Her contribution to the cause of the poor and the downtrodden is unsurpassed.”


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The priest celebrates the Resurrection and accompanies the pain of the world

Celebrations for the Jubilee of priests chaired by Pope Francis

Fr. Francesco Pesce

In these two days which see the celebration of the Jubilee of priests, priesthood is at the centre of our prayer. In the Roman canon we read: “You who wanted to accept the gift of Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham our Father in faith, the pure and holy oblate of Melchisedek your high priest”.

The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus is priest according to Melchisedek, not because He belonged to cast. It would be tragic if priesthood belonged to a cast, as sometimes history showed, to the cast of warriors and merchants.

The Book of Genesis gives the description of the encounter between Abraham and Melchisedek. I believe from this meeting on the mountain we can draw several points of reflections on priesthood. Abraham had just come back winner in an epic battle to free his nephew, Lot. Melchisedek welcomes him and offers him bread and wine. Abraham bows to this King. The priest must have authority, be hospitable, be able to share and give. Melchisedek was king of Jerusalem, city of peace. The priest must also be a man of peace. “Christ our piece” will say Saint Paul. Pope Francis has again given new emphasis to a non aggressive Church, fighting against everybody or in a continuing state of defence because it is attacked by the outside world.

Melchisedek then blesses Abraham: “Blessed be Abraham by God, highest creator of heaven and earth”. A priest is the man of blessing and this blessing carries on for all the people and for all the times. Nor sin neither terrorism nor our sins can ever interrupt God’s blessing. It cannot be interrupted yet it reaches each man. Further the Scriptures say: “Blessed be God the Highest who placed in your enemies in your hands”.

Enemies are defeated by our blessings. Even more reason for the priest to be a man of dialogue, of patience, of mediation. With his good, blessing example (but clear and authoritative) scatters the aggressors and dissipates any argument.

Abraham rejects the war treasure: “I will take nothing, not even a string for the shoes”. A priest must be a poor man, in the true sense, living particularly trusting God, a man, a Christian, who hopes against all hopes.

Again a priest must be a pure man who celebrates the Eucharist that was celebrated on the mountain of Abraham and Melchisedek. “Whoever eats of my body and drinks my bloods will have eternal life and I will resurrect him the last day”. A priest man of the Eucharist who proclaims the resurrection, not death.

Lastly, the Letter to the Hebrews says : “He has taken upon himself weakness and because of it he must offer sacrifices for himself and for the whole people”. The priest is a man who enters into the pain of the world. This is the true universality of his ministry: it is our suffering, the world’s suffering.

Let’s come close to the pain of the world as priests who hold bread and wine. God is the bread and God is the wine: we, priests, must be bread and wine for others and we must be “the bread to eat” so that all men can get to Christ our Saviour.

A table without bread is just stone, just as the heart of a priest without mercy.


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The first time that a pope meets the Orthodox patriarch of all Russia

Another surprise from Pope Francis has come these days. After the news of the visit to Sweden at the end of the year on the occasion of the anniversary of Luther’s reform and the first ever interview made by a pope fully on China to AsiaTime online and published in the past few days, here comes the joint announcement of the meeting between Francis and Kirill on February 12. A meeting that was discussed, desired and prepared for a long time, but its realization still comes with surprise and emotion.

The Risen Lord says: “you must go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee’” (Mk 16.7). The Risen Lord goes before us everywhere, as he did at the upper room and at Emmaus, wherever men build their cities, everywhere they love. Today the Risen Lord precedes us in the land of Cuba, where through the encounter between the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Moscow the Christian people becomes even more and more visibly one flock in the footsteps of the one shepherd. In the land of Cuba, land traditionally atheist, which a few months ago had rejoiced for the “reconciliation” with the United States thanks to the mediation of the Pope.  Cuba today seems almost “return” the favor in an evolving history where faith exceeds doubt and human logics. Furthermore, it should not be overlooked that Francis and Kirill will meet at an airport, that is a meeting place, a place of passage, a crossroad between people in an increasingly interconnected and globalized world. 

A history of division and excommunications is the one between the Catholics and Orthodox, which has not only hurt the Church and the Christian community as a whole, but also offended the faith of the simple and questioned the credibility and the “feasibility” of Christian love and brotherhood.  As Christians, how can we announce the brotherly love and peace if we are separated? Here is the scandal that it is now time to stop, overcoming old divisions and claims, while looking with pragmatism and mutual respect to the history and tradition of each side. 

Today Pope Francis builds on Paul VI’s legacy. In his well-known trip to the Holy Land, in fact, Paul VI embraced the Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras and together they cancelled their mutual excommunications. Pope Francis collects the seeds sown by the Second Vatican Council, of which he even further confirms the centrality in the life of the Church – not only in words, but with concrete, objective, field choices that leave no room for doubt or ambiguous interpretations, unless there are improbable manipulations

Kirill makes this gesture of reconciliation in a time when the bishops of the Orthodox churches agreed to convene this year a pan-Orthodox Synod. Since the second Council of Nicea (787 a.C.) it has been for more than twelve centuries that the various Eastern Churches do not meet together on the occasion of a council.  This is also a sign of the times, a hope for reconciliation and unity.  

The next February 12 in Cuba Francis and Kirill will show that the Christian way to overcome the “hostility” and break down the “barriert” is reconciliation. Revived strongly through the extraordinary Jubilee of mercy, reconciliation becomes the ordinary way to follow for each of us, a via sacra that exceeds the boundaries of individual churches to reunite ideally in the one Church of Christ. Francis and Kirill are well aware that reconciliation and unity must be pursued with all means not only as basic conditions of the Christian community, image of Christ’s body. In fact, how to deal with the challenges and evils of the modern world by proclaiming and bringing the Gospel if first we the Christians are not united? Poverty, which still affects a large part of humanity; international migration and in particular the growing number of refugees fleeing from wars and totalitarian regimes; the  side effects of globalisation, which affects the weakest and contribute to consolidate an economic system based on profit and social inequalities; the crisis of values because of rampant materialism and consumerism, which invade even emerging countries and the Western world of Christian tradition; the plight of Christians living in the Middle East and in many parts of the world where they are a persecuted minority; the difficulties of the Christian churches – the decline of vocations, the difficulties of clergy and religious, the new pastoral problems.  

We hope and pray that this meeting will be a fruitful seed that bears much fruit – ut unum sint


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Misericordes sicut Pater

Perché il blog 

Significativamente e con grande gioia inauguriamo questo spazio di riflessione e condivisione nell’anno del Giubileo della Misericordia, che ci ricorda la profondità e la bellezza della nostra realtà di figli – amati e perdonati dal Padre. Come parte della comunità ecclesiale, anche con questo blog, desideriamo accompagnare “le gioie e le speranze, le tristezze e le angosce degli uomini d’oggi” (Gaudium et Spes, 1), “misericordiando” e mettendo al centro il Volto di Dio. Grati a Papa Francesco  e incoraggiati dal suo esempio, pensiamo che sia possibile e importante annunciare il Vangelo e testimoniare una “Chiesa in uscita” anche attraverso i mezzi di comunicazione sociale e della rete. 

Why this blog?
Significantly and with great joy we are opening this space for reflection and sharing in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which reminds us of the depth and beauty of being children of God – loved and forgiven by the Lord, our Father. As part of the Church community, with this blog too, we wish to accompany “the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time” (Gaudium et Spes, 1), “using mercy” (“misericordiando”) and by putting at the center of our life the face of God. Grateful to Pope Francis and encouraged by his example, we think it is possible and important to announce the Gospel and witness a “Church which goes forth” through social media and Internet.
为什么这个博客?
欣逢慈悲禧年之际,我们怀着极大的喜悦搭建了这个反思与分享的平台,这是一件非常有意义的事,它让我们回想起作为天主子女的美好与奥妙,因为我们都被天父所宽恕和深爱着。作为教会团体的一份子,我们希望透过这个博客来参与“今天人们的喜乐与期望、愁苦与焦虑”(牧职宪章1),并把天主的慈悲面容带进那些有需要的人们的生活中。非常感谢教宗方济各,是他的榜样带动我们,让我们觉得透过社交媒体和互联网来宣传福音是一件可行的事,这样可以为“正在发展的教会”做出见证。