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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There are no enemies

Often our system, in order to continue standing, has to identify an enemy, it has to create one.  This is also true in children’s education.  Many of us in Italy will remember when our grandparents used the term “Austrian” in a derogatory manner: if you don’t behave properly I’ll call the Austrians, they used to say. Later we referred to “the Communists” and today, perhaps, the “Muslims.

One of the first teachings of the Gospel is that of the idea of the enemy: there are no enemies, there are men.  Even the Church has enemies – we have been taught – and therefore we must defend it from relativism, subjectivism, laicism etcetera, but Jesus never defended himself; and similarly neither did Peter and Paul. There is an entire history of enemies we have fought against while evil was in our midst: power, money, fear of losing our dominant position.

Thus, when Jesus says “«whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also»”, he is telling us to go beyond the enemy.  In the Gospel according to St. John, Jesus was slapped but he rendered it ineffective: “if I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?”

Jesus is asking us not to return violence for violence otherwise this will grow and turn into an interminable crescendo.

The logic of offering the other cheek, being stripped of one’s garments and dragged before the tribunal means recognizing violence, giving it a name and  “fighting it” like the sun conquers  the darkness which is gradually overcome by the expanding light.

We must begin to live this change by modifying the private spaces of our responsibility. 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 become, almost without realizing it, allies of war.

When I want to qualify nonviolence, I say justice, respect of diversity, peace, the common good.  I say the Beatitudes, words which give multiple names to this single truth of which Jesus was the first witness. Jesus is the witness of nonviolence, this nonviolence 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 with the sword is to kill, it 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  place» said Jesus to Peter, otherwise right will always be with the strongest, the most violent, the cruellest and the best armed.

We must go back to the radical teaching of the Gospel, as St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Corinthians.  The Corinthians criticized  Paul for his simplicity in announcing the Gospel not at their level of knowledge and culture. Paul answered by comparing the announcement of the Gospel to a building: the builders will be judged by whether they have placed Jesus Christ as the cornerstone,  not by their highly cultural discourses but empty of spiritual content. Let us make the crucifix the foundation of our life and not an aggressive tool of civil religion.

 

 


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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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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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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”.