New Year and New Hope: We are living in a precarious situation, where the Covid-19 pandemic is still claiming lives. We are waiting with hope that the remedy would soon be available to us. After nine months of great trial, a new year is born, and it is going to be a year of hope. Hope gives meaning to our lives. “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5: 5). While so much uncertainty is looming around, a believer in Christ is called to be a messenger of hope that God as provident Father will give us what we need at the right time. Generating hope in others brings meaning in their lives. If we can generate hope even in one person, then we have done much. It is possible only when we concretely manifest that we love that person and we want him/her to live. “The salvation of man is through love and in love” (Viktor Frankl). Despite all odds and uncertainties, in this year, let us kindle divine hope in the hearts of people by our closeness to them, so that “they can encounter the merciful face of Christ in a welcoming Church” (Pastoral Conversion, n. 31).

Beginning of the Year: The year opens with the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, the Mother of Love Incarnate. Jesus, the Unfathomable Love, is the meaning giver in our lives. Facilitating encounter with Jesus is a “new phase of evangelization” (Pastoral Conversion, n. 3). As a member of the Church, this is our primary duty. All our service and charity must be a reflection of the encounter with the Lord of Life and Peace. 1 January is also the World Day of Peace. May Jesus, the Prince of Peace, accompany all those who are struggling against threats to life, be they are farmers, human right activists, migrant labourers, Covid warriors, the unemployed, sick, elderly and children.

Adoration of the Lord on the Solemnity of Epiphany (3 January): As it has been already indicated in the Inter Nos of December, this year we do not hold the Diocesan Eucharistic Procession. Instead, we shall spend time adoring the Eucharistic Lord, in the spirit of the Magi who came with precious gifts. The three wise men are for us the model of seeking the Lord with a sincere heart. May the Eucharistic presence of Jesus bring healing to the wounded world. Let us not forget to pray for the papal intention for January, for Human Fraternity.

Unity Octave and Prayer for Christian Unity (18-25 January): Through the initiative of Servant of God, Fr Paul Watson, founder of the Society of the Atonement, the first “Church Unity Octave” began in 1908, to cover the original days of the feasts of the Chair of St. Peter (18 January) and the Conversion of St. Paul (25 January). The theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “Abide in My Love… You Shall Bear Much Fruit” (cf. John 15:5-9). Members of the international group jointly sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches met at the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland in September 2019, to prepare materials for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2021. I request the Vicars Forane to organize prayer meetings, together with the leaders of other Christian denominations during this week.

Retreat for Jubilarians: The CCBI Commission for Vocations, Seminaries, Clergy and Religious (VSCR) has decided to organize a virtual retreat for Jubilarians (Silver and Ruby) from 8-12 February 2021. Fr. Lawrence OFM Cap. is the retreat preacher. The theme is: “Flourishing in Christ: Cultivating Intra-Inter-Personal Fullness.” VSCR will inform us later about the details of the online platform. We shall publish it in the next Inter Nos.

Information about Your Retreat: During the Annual Retreat in St Joseph Seminary, 109 priests of our Diocese participated. Other than those who participated in the Seminary, those who have done retreat on their own, during 2020, either in informal groups or individually are requested to inform the Chancery by email indicating the place and dates of the retreat. We shall mark the details in the Attendance Register. The Annual Retreat is needed for us to get rejuvenated in our spiritual life. Those who could not do the retreat so far, please inform when and where you are going to do it.

Webinar for Diocesan Priests: The CCBI Commission for VSCR has also planned for a webinar for the diocesan priests on 25 February 2021. The topic is Fratelli Tutti - The encyclical of Pope Francis. VSCR will inform us later about the details of the online platform. I invite all the diocesan priests to benefit from this webinar, and in turn, strengthen the people under our care. It is a beautiful occasion to study the encyclical and instruct them through Seminars, Catechesis and Homilies. Three themes are fundamental in the encyclical: a) The woundedness of humanity today, b) God’s call to us to be Good Samaritans to this wounded world and, c) Universal fellowship of all human beings.

Year of St Joseph: The Holy Father has declared the year beginning from 8 December 2020 as the Year of St Joseph. With the Apostolic Letter “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis recalls the 150th anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. The Holy Father wrote Patris corde against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. In this, they resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.” The closing of the year will be on 8 December 2021. St Joseph is the patron of our Diocese and many churches and institutions. This is an occasion for us to study the person of St Joseph and imitate his virtues.

The Sunday of the Word of God: Instituted by Pope Francis and to be held every year on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time, this Sunday reminds us, priests and lay-faithful alike, of the importance and value of Sacred Scripture for the Christian life, as well as the relationship between the word of God and the liturgy. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in its Note dated 17 December 2020, invites us to make use of this opportunity to reread some of the Church’s documents and especially the Praenotanda of the Ordo Lectionum Missae, which present a synthesis of the theological, ritual and pastoral principles surrounding the word of God proclaimed at Mass, but which is also valid in every other liturgical celebration (Sacraments, Sacramentals, Liturgy of the Hours).

Among the several things the Note invites us to consider, such as the silence between the readings, the interior preparation by the Lectors, study of scripture, it asks us “to pay special attention to the ambo from which it is proclaimed. It is not a functional piece of furniture, but a place that is in keeping with the dignity of the word of God, in correspondence with the altar: in fact, we speak of the table of God’s word and the table of the Body of Christ, referring both to the ambo and especially to the altar. “The ambo is reserved for the readings, the singing of the Responsorial Psalm and the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet); the homily and the intentions of the universal prayer can be delivered from it, while it is less appropriate to use it for commentaries, announcements or for directing singing.” Further more, it says: “the books containing the readings from Sacred Scripture stir up in those who hear a veneration for the mystery of God speaking to his people. For this reason, we ask that care be taken to ensure that these books are of a high quality and used properly. It is never appropriate to resort to leaflets, photocopies and other pastoral aids as a substitute for liturgical books.”

Year of Amoris Laetitia Family: His Eminence Kevin Cardinal Farrell, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life has informed us that the Holy Father intends to promote a special Year dedicated to the family, which will open on 19 March 2021: “The Year of Amoris Laetitia Family”. This day marks the 5th anniversary of the publication of the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the beauty and joy of love in the family. The year will come to an end on 26 June 2022, on the occasion of the X World Meeting of Families in Rome. This year will provide plenty of opportunities to put into practice the teachings of Amoris Laetitia in our Diocese and parishes.

2021 will be for us a new beginning with the new pastoral plan and the connected programmes. I request everyone to get involved in drawing up concrete programmes for the year, by forming the various commissions in the parish. Guidelines will be given, and training programmes will be organized so that we make progress in our journey of faith and social involvement. May this year be for us an occasion for greater participation in the life of the Church and society.

Wish you all a Bright and Grace-filled New Year 2021.

+Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore


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