Lent 2020, is a time for conversion of heart. This season, a time of grace and God’s favour, invites us for conversion from sin to holiness, from hatred to love, from indifference to compassion, from darkness to light! The great paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, the core of Kerygma, which sums up God’s infinite love for us, is the force behind this dynamics of conversion. Jesus through his fasting and prayer has inaugurated this season for us, to strengthen us to resist the temptation of the “father of lies”, so that we turn to God the Father of abundant love.

In his message to the youth, Pope Francis said in Christus vivit: “Keep your eyes fixed on the outstretched arms of Christ crucified, let yourself be saved over and over again. And when you go to confess your sins, believe firmly in his mercy which frees you of your guilt. Contemplate his blood poured out with such great love, and let yourself be cleansed by it. In this way, you can be reborn ever anew” (n. 123). Contemplative prayer helps us to savour the sweetness of the love of the Crucified Christ. Pope Francis in his Lenten message for 2020, says: “Prayer can take any number of different forms, but what truly matters in God’s eyes is that it penetrates deep within us and chips away at our hardness of heart, in order to convert us ever more fully to God and to his will”.

The world needs liberation from greed and arrogance. The Crucified alone shows us the way to divest ourselves from all earthly attachments thanks to the total love for God. The Lord invites us to share what we have in order to gain heavenly friends. The Pope emphasizes in the Lenten message: “Charitable giving makes us more human, whereas hoarding risks making us less human, imprisoned by our own selfishness”. Through almsgiving, we share what we have with those most in need and the Lord invites us to give till it hurts. Let this season be for us a privileged occasion for spending extra time in prayer, fasting and works of mercy.

CBCI Meeting on Dialogue: The XXXIV Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, CBCI, held at St John’s Medical College, Bangalore, from 13 to 19 February 2020 had chosen the theme, Dialogue: The Path to Truth and Charity. 192 member Bishops, along with three cardinals were present; the Secretaries of various commissions presented the reports of their activity. In the papers presented for the explication of the theme the current context of monologue is shown to be devastating human culture and it invited the participants to enter into dialogue at various levels.

The Bishops in the Final Statement affirmed that “The Church, the community of faith in Jesus Christ, has integral and all-inclusive dialogue at her heart. Indeed, dialogue belongs to the very essence of the Christian faith”. Dialogue is God’s way to inspire us to go out of ourselves and encounter the other and enrich the lives of those around us. Our motherland India, as a mosaic of many religions, cultures, and languages, has many factors that unite us than those that divide us. “What unites us is stronger and deeper than what divides us”. Among all else, the Preamble of our Constitution itself is the bedrock of our dialogue for the main scope of the Constitution is to secure for all her children, Justice, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. The Trinitarian God, creator of all, is the sure fountain from which every form of life springs forth and the dialogue should focus on this one foundation that we have one origin and one destiny, whatever be our race, language, belief and region we live in. Jesus himself was and is the Champion of dialogue. During his earthly sojourn, Jesus was open to the heavenly Father and to every creature and even now he invites us and strengthens us through the gift of the Holy Spirit to seek truth and allow ourselves be possessed by that one Truth, God.

Based on their experience of dialogue, Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, signed The Document on Human Fraternity, for World Peace and Living Together. This document invites us “to unite and work together, so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters… called to express this human fraternity by safeguarding creation and entire universe, and supporting all persons, especially the poorest and those most in need…”.

The Church promotes dialogue in every aspect, with cultures, religions, the poor, the Dalits and the tribal people, with the nature, and even with the unborn. The Document on Human Fraternity affirms: “The enemy of fraternity is an individualism which translates into the desire to affirm oneself and one’s own group above others. Religious behaviour, therefore, needs continually to be purified from the current temptation to judge others as enemies and adversaries”. The final statement of CBCI reminds us that “There will be no peace among nations without peace among religions. There will be no peace among religions without dialogue among religions”. Therefore, it invites us to rise above our narrow ways of looking at the other with the eyes of divisive cultural nationalism and to appreciate the patriotism found in the heart of each and every individual, manifesting itself in doing actions for common good. Today, in India, the authorities should take the first step to dialogue with the citizens and work in such a manner so as to take away all sorts of anxiety, fear and uncertainty. The Bishops invite the People of God to find every occasion suitable for dialogue so that we build our great nation, Mother India.

Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia (Beloved Amazon) is the new teaching given by Pope Francis as a fruit of the reflection during the Synod on Amazon held in Rome from 6-27 October 2019. Amazon River basin is considered as the lung of the world with its vast rain forests. The Amazon region is a multinational and interconnected whole, a great biome shared by nine countries, namely Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Guyana, and French Guiana. Pope Francis presents Exhortation to the whole world to help awaken our affection and concern for that land and to invite us to value it and acknowledge it as a sacred mystery. The area is beset with a lot of problems, such as cutting down of trees, mining and thus displacing the people who depend of forests. The lives of the poorest of the poor in these areas are under great threat. The Exhortation is now available, together with the commentary by Fr Antonio Spadaro S.J. and the Final Document of the Synod, The Amazon: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology. The Pope wants that we show concern towards this land, because what happens in that part of the world has its repercussions in the rest of the world. We cannot be indifferent to issues of humanity living there. In order to get to know the teaching, you may place your orders through Mangala Jyothi for the copies of this book for a reasonable price.

Administration of the Sunday Collection, Box Collections, Mass Offeringsand CMA: Falling in line with the norms of the government, we have to revisit our system of functioning for greater efficacy. Therefore, the Senate Members, all parish priests and heads of the institutions are invited for a day of study on Monday, 16th March at 9.00 a.m. at Pastoral Institute, Bajjodi. This is essential and no exception can be made. I request you all to make adjustments in your appointments to be present for the discussions to come to concrete conclusions.
From 1st June till 30th September, we may have to submit the applications for the renewal of the 12 A and therefore, we must be well-informed about the important documents to be kept ready for the same. You are advised to consult your CA regarding the list of documents you should have at hand. For your convenience, please go through the information given in this Internos pages 63-64.

Checklist of Temporal Administration of Parish/Institution: As in the past, this year too, the annual transfers of Priests will takeplace in the month of May and June 2020. The outgoing Priests should keep all the documents and accounts up-to-date. This serves to help the Bishop as well as the incoming Priests in knowing the status of the temporal administration and the financial situation of the Parish. The College of Consultors had endorsed the idea of a checklist and accordingly Commission of Parish Priests instituted by me has prepared the checklist. Parish Priests who are on transfer are requested to fill in the information sought in the list and submit the checklist to the Bishop by April 20, 2020 at the latest. A hard copy will be mailed to the Parish Priests on transfer. Those wishing to have a soft copy of the checklist may contact the Chancery Office.

Feast of our Patron St Joseph and Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord: Two great solemnities help us in this month to contemplate God’s goodness towards us. St Joseph was chosen by God to be the putative father of His Son, Jesus. We have St Joseph as the Patron of the Diocese and many of our Institutions and parishes. He was given revelations in dreams like the Joseph of the ancient time and he acted righteously. May St Joseph intercede for us and protect us from all dangers. May he help us to act justly in all spheres of our activity!

The Mystery of incarnation is celebrated on the 25th of this month. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that we might be saved. Mary received him first in her heart and then in her womb. The Church must follow the path traversed by Mary. The Pope writes in Querida Amazonia: “Everything that the Church has to offer must become incarnate in a distinctive way in each part of the world, so that the Bride of Christ can take on a variety of faces that better manifest the inexhaustible riches of God’s grace. Preaching must become incarnate, spirituality must become incarnate, ecclesial structures must become incarnate” (n. 6). Let this solemnity be for us, a moment of soul searching to discover whether we have been doing God’s will like Mary and give thanks and praise to God and if not, to reform ourselves with a change of heart. May Mother Mary accompany us and pray for us in all our endeavours!

+ Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore