The month of October reminds us of our missionary responsibility. The papal intention for this month underlines promoting the Laity’s mission in the Church. It is also a month dedicated to the devotion of Rosary. A plenary indulgence may be gained by those reciting five decades of Rosary in church, as a family at home, as a religious community, or as a pious fraternity or in general whenever several persons have gathered together for a good purpose, and in other circumstances a partial indulgence. The memorial of our Lady of Rosary is celebrated on 7 October.

1. Mission Sunday: For this year’s Mission Sunday, to be celebrated on 18 October, Pope Francis has chosen the theme from the words of Isaiah: “Here am I, send me” (Isa 6: 8). In these challenging times, God asks each of us a question: “Whom shall I send”? He expects an answer.

The Holy Father, in his message for the Mission Sunday, writes that God “asks us to be personally willing to be sent, because he himself is Love, love that is always ‘on mission’, always reaching out in order to give life”. In this missionary movement, we are not alone. The Lord wants our consent to go on his behalf. He goes with us and makes us to go out of ourselves; the grace of the Holy Spirit pushes us to move forward and carries us. We, as a Church, are by nature missionary. Whatever we do in terms of prayer, reflection and the material help of offerings, let us have one thought uppermost: “I am ready to go wherever the Lord sends me”, imitating the Crucified Lord.

Last year, we gave Rs 1,59,23,595 as Mission Sunday contribution. I thank everyone who has participated in the mission drive. This year, the situation is painful. However, whatever the people give out of love for the Lord’s mission would be a pleasing sacrifice.

Participating in the mission of the Lord does not mean merely giving financial assistance. It is primarily proclaiming Jesus Christ and presenting him as the Lord and Saviour of our life. Pastors should emphasize that parents are the first evangelizers to their children, and the seeds of faith they plant in the young will bear much fruit. Parents should discuss with their children about the goodness of Jesus, his love and mercy towards everyone. This should prompt them to love him in return and introduce Jesus to others and see Jesus in the poor and downtrodden. Jesus is our hero and living model. I earnestly recommend that parish priests establish the Missionary Children’s Association to prepare them as ambassadors of Christ.

2. Return to the Eucharist with Joy: In this painful context of Covid-19, people are affected by illness, fear, suffering, poverty, and many are dying abandoned by others. Many have lost jobs, and income and they suffer from lack of food. On the spiritual side, many have stopped making any attempt to re-establish communion with God through Eucharistic sharing.

Recently the Congregation for the Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments has sent a letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences to invite the people to return to the Eucharist with joy. During the lockdown, the means of communication helped us broadcast Eucharistic celebration and other spiritual activities. However, these cannot replace the real, personal and intimate encounter with the Lord. Without the Lord’s Day, without the assembly of brothers and sisters participating in the Lord’s body and blood, we cannot live a meaningful life as Christians.

Therefore, as soon as the circumstances permit, it is necessary and urgent to return to the normality of Christian life and participate in the Eucharistic liturgy “with a purified heart, with a renewed amazement, with an increased desire to meet the Lord, to be with him, to receive him with and to bring him to our brothers and sisters with the witness of a life full of faith, love and hope”. We are aware, with what ease children and youngsters are losing the sense of adoration, before the Risen Jesus.

I request parents, religious men and women and pastors to motivate children, youth and adults to come to the Church and participate in the Holy Eucharist so that they may be charged by the power of the Holy Spirit to move out of themselves. It is urgent that the pastors go out to seek those who have been distancing themselves from the living Lord to invite them back to the Eucharistic table, of course, with all the necessary safety precautions. Never should we be tired of the task of catechizing our people regarding Eucharistic encounter.

3. Composing New Prayers for Various Occasions: During the liturgical year, certain Sundays are specially marked to pray for specific apostolate and ministries, like for laity, justice and peace, prison ministry, concern for the planet earth etc. Sometimes, some Commissions of the CBCI have proposed alternative texts and prayers. Recently, the CBCI General Secretary has issued an instruction asking all Bishops to direct priests to use only the assigned readings from Old and New Testament and prayers following the Calendar of the Church (GIRM nn. 353 and 357).

Without changing readings and prayers of Sunday, we add specific intercessory prayers in the “the prayer of the faithful”. The CBCI Commissions are instructed to refrain from proposing liturgical resources for Sundays, as the competence is left to the three “sui juris” Churches in liturgical matters. On the other hand, we are invited to organize activities that suit the occasion.

4. Use of Different Eucharistic Prayers: It has been noticed that celebrants often use Eucharistic Prayer II even on Sundays and Solemnities. Though Eucharistic Prayer II is the shortest one, we should not shy away from using other rich resources provided by the Church. The Roman Missal clearly indicates that Eucharistic Prayers I and III are especially suited for use on Sundays and festive days, and they should be preferred (GIRM 365 a and c). When Eucharistic Prayer III is used for the Masses for the dead, the special formula for a deceased person may be used in the proper place.

The New Roman Missal, now available in English, provides 10 Eucharistic Prayers, and some with their proper Preface and it goes along with the rest of the Prayer. For example, the Eucharistic Prayer IV has an invariable Preface and gives a summary of salvation history. Unfortunately, hardly any priest uses it during Sundays in Ordinary Time. It has a special structure, and no special formula for a deceased person could be inserted into this prayer (GIRM 365 d). These prayers have a strong catechetical value. I earnestly invite the Priest Celebrants to use the Eucharistic Prayer II due to its particular features, more appropriately on weekdays or in special circumstances, and thereby adhere to the General Instructions of the Roman Missal (GIRM 365 b).

5. The New Lectionary in English and Other Publications: The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) has launched the use of the New Lectionary in English from Palm Sunday 2020. The Lectionary is prepared using the New English Version, Catholic Edition (ESV-CE) of the Bible. There has been a good response even at the International level for the quality of work.

The Scottish Bishops’ Conference has approved its use in their Dioceses. A few other Bishops’ Conferences are discussing about using the CCBI Lectionary in their countries. The Parish Priests and Chaplains are hereby reminded to obtain the copies of the New Lectionary to be used in the Churches and Chapels in Mangalore Diocese when the Mass is celebrated in English.

Similarly, the Book of the Gospels, the Order of Confirmation, the Order of Celebrating Marriage, and Passion Narratives in English are now available. You may place the orders with Mangala Jyothi so as to use the revised editions.

6. Catechetical Instructions to the Children: Due to Covid-19, the Catechism classes could not be commenced so far, and children are not to be deprived of the instruction in faith and value education. As the children are already under the burden of online classes of the school subjects, the Diocesan Catechetical Commission has decided not to conduct the online catechism classes. However, text books, pictures, First Holy Communion Catechesis DVD are available. The Parish Priests and Coordinators of Catechism are requested to take the initiative to distribute the books for the students so that parents can use them to catechize the children.

7. Samaritanus Bonus: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued a letter dated 22 September 2020 on the care of persons in the critical and terminal phases of life. The letter says: “All are called to give witness at the side of the sick person and to become a ‘healing community’ in order to actualize concretely the desire of Jesus that, beginning with the most weak and vulnerable, all may be one flesh... In this sensitive area comprising the most delicate and decisive stages of a person’s life, a ‘unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary’.” Thus, the letter addresses the issues prevalent in our society, inspiring us to follow the example of the Good Samaritan, who goes out of his way to aid an injured man. Pastors are specially called to stand by the terminally ill and bring them solace and meaning in suffering.

8. Menace of Drugs: Everyday, the News Channels and News Papers carry the news of the drug racket, and the C.C.B. police have booked many drug peddlers. Mostly adolescent children and youth fall prey to the drug abuse, all due to friends pushing the companions in the net. Families are being destroyed, and innocents become victims to those who conspire to make easy money. Young boys and girls once addicted become prey to other vices, and many die early. Though the police nab a few, many roam around freely. As pastors and leaders of the community, it is our bounden duty to make the children and youth aware of the dangers and bring them out of the addictions. It is opportune in this Year of Life, to bring the youth together to make firm decisions against the use of drugs. We should make it our priority to accompany them so that they do not waste their life, and the tender life does not get crushed at an early age. Please keep close watch over our youth against this terrorism of drug peddlers.

Wishing you great moments of missionary outreach in this month of October.

+ Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore

 

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