JUNE 2020 ISSUE

 

ATTACK THE VIRUS

Editorial : Fr Joshan Rodrigues
 

As I watch the news during these days, indescribable images of human suffering unfold before my eyes – migrants undertaking journeys of hundreds of kilometers by foot to return to their native villages, with their children and pregnant wives in tow; children crying in terror seated at the side of their parent’s lifeless bodies killed in road accidents; the poor, homeless and unemployed herded into so-called ‘Relief Centers’ without sufficient water and sanitation, the elderly and those with life-threatening conditions left to fend for themselves due to overflowing hospitals and a medical system stretched beyond capacity.

Watching these scenes unfold, St Pope John Paul II would have repeated those words which he inscribed in his encyclical ‘Evangelium Vitae’ meaning the ‘Gospel of Life’ in 1995; he would have called it “a supreme dishonour to the Creator” (EV 3). The document was written to reiterate the view of the Roman Catholic Church on the value of life and to warn against violating the sanctity of life. The document calls out many attacks on life that have been institutionalized in society today – evils such as abortion, birth control, euthanasia and capital punishment to name a few, but the vast scale of human suffering that we are witnessing on account of the pandemic, is an affront to the Gospel of Life which was at the heart of Jesus’ message. Every human being has an incomparable divine value made known by the Incarnation of the Son of God, who came down to earth and united himself to every man, woman and child in the flesh (Jn 3:16).

In Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II begins analyzing the threats to human life, by going back to that quintessential story of fratricide in the Book of Genesis when man tasted blood for the very first time. When God confronted Cain, instead of showing remorse and apologizing for his heinous crime, Cain attempts to elude his responsibility, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). “We cannot but think of today's tendency for people to refuse to accept responsibility for their brothers and sisters. Symptoms of this trend include the lack of solidarity towards society's weakest members - such as the elderly, the infirm, immigrants, children - and the indifference frequently found in relations between the world's peoples even when basic values such as survival, freedom and peace are involved.” (EV 8) JP II’s words have turned out to be a prophecy 25 years later. 
Christians cannot remain mute spectators to the “Culture of Death” around them. We can either passively watch the news or be moved to action, because every suffering person is our brother and sister in Christ Jesus, and the same question will be put to us on the day of our judgement, “What have you done?” (Gen 4:10). The present crisis makes it even more clear how we are dependent on one another. We may be tempted into a false sense of security and laissez-faire indifference to others in the present moment, due to our focus on our own immediate health safety, economic and food security, but we will realize in the not so distant time, that there is no future for us unless we guarantee the future of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.


However, in the low of despondency and suffering, we are also witnessing the Gospel of Life at work in the many, daily acts of self-sacrifice from those battling the pandemic at the frontlines. There are innumerable stories of people reaching out to their neighbours, the elderly and home bound, and their domestic workers and employees, going far beyond the call of duty. These are the Stars of mercy, love and compassion in the vast expanse of the Universe of Grace. Just as life is sustained by every act of unconscious breathing, the Gospel of Life is promulgated by every untold act of love and virtue done in secret. “Evangelium Vitae” was written to address the value of human life and maintains that societies and individuals, especially Christians, should do everything in their power to preserve this life. There would be no better time to pick up and revisit this beautiful document 25 years later today. 


Fr Joshan Rodrigues is the Managing Editor of The Examiner and a disciple in the field of Church Communications.

LIFE IS PRECIOUS AND FRAGILE

Dr Jeanette. Pinto
 

Life is the most precious God given gift to each one of us, and we have a duty and responsibility to care for it.  Life is fragile, means that there are no certainties, and that adverse events like illness, pestilence, calamities, disaster, and death can strike one at any time without warning. Often we take life for granted. Tragedies and natural calamities can suddenly occur as what has been happening to our world over the past three months, it makes us realize that life is truly precious and fragile.


People who lost their lives in the Corona virus were perhaps living and enjoying life to the hilt, but it changed overnight without any forewarning.  They were ordinary, innocent, working people young and old– Americans, Spanish, French, British, Chinese, Africans, Indians and others just like you and me. They got infected by Covid-19 something beyond anyone’s control and comprehension.  The deadly insidious Corona virus today has the whole world in its grip and thousands of precious human lives are lost and thousands more lie on death’s row. That’s how fragile life really is. 


The incalculable number of deaths globally seems horrific to the mind, and mankind is left helpless. Our senses are numbed by the lifeless ‘human cargo’ dumped into large mass graves. It is painful to watch the loss of human dignity experienced in this pandemic.  However talking about deaths have we ever given thought to the death of hundreds of unborn human beings? Abortion for sure a grave moral disorder, is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. The data on abortions displayed on the Worldometers’ counter is based on the latest statistic on worldwide abortions published by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to WHO, every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. This corresponds to approx. 125,000 abortions per day, a mind boggling number. Isn’t this shocking? These unborn mute and defenceless human beings have been deprived of the right to life, not by a virus but by human intervention.  Can that number match the global count of people who died in a day from the Coronavirus?  This should truly trouble our conscience. 


The Coronavirus pandemic has also sparked a tremendous concern and anxiety for the elderly, who are a vulnerable group due to low immunity and cardio vascular complications. The elderly in addition to other health issues are worried about the prevalent anti-life culture –like providing ventilators to the young ignoring the elderly. They are wondering how to move on in life through these troubled times, and they feel depressed and sentenced to Euthanasia which is morally unacceptable.  In Evangelium Vitae (EV) Pope John Paul II calls euthanasia “a disturbing perversion of mercy.” This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God. Let’s never forget that God alone is the author of life; no one has the right to take it away.
Another humanitarian tragedy that has inadvertently occurred in the Corona times is the pathetic exodus of thousands of migrants. It tugs at the heart to see images of desperate migrants without money, wages, food and shelter amid nationwide lockdowns, walking thousands of kilometres to their home. It is a bitter struggle for life.  It is the much maligned migrant worker who lubricates the wheels of the Indian economy. We know his value but amid the Corona crisis his life seems to have no value. Everyone has the right to life which is protected by law. No one should devalue human life. We must protect, preserve and defend life from it very beginnings to it natural end. 


The Catholic Church, EV or the Gospel of Life regards human life as sacred, and taking any innocent life is immoral and sinful. It condemns Euthanasia as it does Abortion; it deals with issues pertaining to the sanctity of human life. Suffering is salvific, but the Church believes that no one needs to suffer a long painful death and that the sick must be treated and the dying comforted. 


Let us always remember that we are created in God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:26), and hence our life has an intrinsic value. Each one of us is created for a purpose and a plan. There’s so much we don’t know about our beautiful universe, but there’s one thing we know that life is precious and fragile, lets experience and live life to the fullest. Whatever we can do in these troubled times to save life, let’s do it with a cheerful heart. Let no one think of putting an end to life, either by killing it in the womb or by hastening it to the tomb.


Dr Jeanette is an Educator, the former Director and presently member of the Archdiocesan Human Life Committee.

SALUTING OUR SUPERHEROES

Brinelle Lobo
 

There has been an overdose of articles talking about how the world will never be the same again, pre and post Covid, the new normal, remote working and much more. Today, we are going to talk about and celebrate one of the most telling human stories that have emerged from COVID 19 and the country-wide lockdown – stories of people who have put their lives on the line so that we may stay healthy and safe.


Over the past 2 months and counting, I have not set foot outside my house even once. It is my brother who steps out once in 10 days to purchase the essentials. The 3 hours that he spends out has me anxious for his safety from this deadly virus. And that is when I stop to think about the families of those who make life comfortable for us. They are just like you and me - somebody’s father or mother, husband or wife or maybe a child - the only difference being, their job takes them right into the battle field, while mine allows me to work from the comfort of my couch.


Apart from doctors and bankers, every other profession that has turned out to be ‘Essential services’ :  nurses, law enforcement, municipal workers, vegetable vendors, garbage collectors, over the last 2 months are a far cry from pedigree MBA institutes, fat pay cheques, glass ceiling offices and the glitz and glamour of the corporate bubble we live in (the WE includes ME).


Could you for just a second imagine, if the municipal authorities had decided to protect all their staff and the garbage collection department was closed for over 2 months? The slush, sewage, stench that Maximum City would have found itself in, is simply unimaginable! Or let us take the entire supply chain of perishable goods, right from farm to fork, the packaging, transporting and finally retailing by that nameless vendor at your street corner humbly earning his daily living. Or you might well say I am tech savvy and order from Swiggy or Big Basket. Well, let us not forget it takes a human just like you and me to deliver that order, while we relax air conditioned away from the scorching summer heat. It is not that your local vegetable vendor or the nameless Swiggy boy don’t care enough for their lives or have a rock solid immune system. For all we know, their immunity is much lower than yours and mine; simply put they are daily wage earners - no work, no pay.


Today when our migrant brothers and sisters, with hopeless eyes and bruised feet, have decided to walk back home, builders are at their wits end. “What will we do”, they say, “once the lockdown ends!” You see, it is much like the scene of The Pharaoh in Egypt, several thousand years ago. We don’t care for these migrant slaves, but the moment they decide to escape back to their ‘gaon’, we give them chase like what happened in Bangalore, right down to the Red Sea and cancel scheduled trains that were to take them home. Sooner or later, their cry will die down or disappear, an unorganised mass without a voice.


As a country, we have always had one standard for the poor, and one for others. India and Bharat, the demographic divide between rich and the poor, Digital India and Destitute India. Even though, when you list essential services, you find out that it is only the poor people who are essential, apart from doctors. Many of the nurses are not well-off. Besides them, there are hospital ward staffs, ambulance and transport drivers, sanitation workers, electricity workers, police, grave diggers, cremation workers and many more without whom this city would collapse. Suddenly you are realize, how inessential the elite are to this country. An apt time to ask oneself; who really are the unsung heroes of India?


Maybe now is the time to share in their pain, to pray for and lift up the thousands of nameless faces doing thankless jobs, without whom we would most certainly have not made it thus far. 


I dedicate this article to Sonu, who has for the past several years been collecting the garbage from our society. It is only now, during the lockdown that we have started to realize his worth. He is the only one, amongst thousands of unsung heroes, whose name I know, I acknowledge with shame. Maybe the least we can do is to get to know a few of them and thank them personally for what they do.


Brinelle Lobo is a parishioner of St. Andrew’s Parish,  Bandra West, Mumbai

THE MODERN-DAY PLAGUE CALLED EUTHANASIA!

Desiree Lobo
 

 “It is I who bring both death and life” (Dt. 32:39): the tragedy of Euthanasia.


At the other end of life’s spectrum, men and women find themselves facing the mystery of death. The prevailing tendency is to value life to the extent that it brings pleasure and wellbeing. Suffering seems like an unbearable setback – something from which we must be freed from at all cost. Death is considered senseless if it interrupts a young life still open to a future of new and interesting experiences, but it becomes a rightful liberation once life is held to be no longer meaningful because it is filled with pain and is inexorably doomed to even greater suffering.


Furthermore, when man denies or neglects his fundamental relationship to God, he thinks he can make his own rules with a right to demand that society gives him complete autonomy and the ways and means to decide what to do with his life.  People feel encouraged to do so by the constant progress of medicine and its ever more advanced techniques.  Hence, by using highly sophisticated systems and equipment, science and medical practice today are able not only to deal with cases formerly considered untreatable and or to reduce and eliminate pain, but also to sustain and prolong life even in situations of extreme frailty. In order to resuscitate artificially, patients whose basic biological functions have undergone a sudden collapse, certain procedures for the transplant of organs are made available.


In this context, the temptation grows to also have recourse to euthanasia that is to bring about death before its time, namely ending one’s own life and the life of others. In reality, what might seem logical and humane, when looked at more closely, is seen to be senseless and inhumane. We are faced with the more alarming symptoms of the “Culture of Death” which is advancing in more prosperous societies due to an attitude of excessive preoccupation with efficiency and which sees the growing number of elderly and disabled people as intolerable and burdensome.


These people are often isolated by their own families and society which are organized basically on the criteria of productive efficiency according to which a hopelessly impaired life no longer has any value. Euthanasia in the strict sense is an action or omission which of it and by intention causes death with the purpose of eliminating all suffering.
The 2019 Coronavirus pandemic, more suitably known by its nomenclature - Covid 19, has cast a shadow of death across the world – affecting both young and particularly the old with complications. Cases range from mild to more serious conditions where in the more severe cases the virus affects the lungs, causing asphyxiation and ultimately resulting in death. Hospitals today are overflowing with such patients who require medical attention particularly ventilators to facilitate breathing as the infection progresses.


Given the paucity of ventilators, there have been cases when doctors try to play God and are inclined to put young patients on them, as thy feel that they have a long productive life ahead rather than the aged ones who they believe cannot contribute profitably to society. The older patients are therefore left to perish, in some cases aged patients who are on ventilators are taken off them so that a young patient can benefit or these may be given to those who can afford them. This is sinful and against the commandments of God. We are all equal in the eyes of God and regardless of whether we are young, old or disabled we have been created in His image and likeness.


The act of euthanasia is a great violation of God’s law and results in the direct and intentional killing of a human being. Euthanasia may seem like a compelling case to make against the grave suffering of people but, regardless of how dire the circumstances may seem, the decision of who should live and die is not ours to make. 


Desiree Lobo is doing research at the Australian National University in Climate Change and Sustainability.

CARING FOR THE ELDERLY

Dr Enid Miranda Prabhu
 

A couple of years ago my husband remarked, “You seem to have a lot of elderly patients all in their eighties and nineties and write a lot of death certificates.”  I laughingly replied that the doctor has grown old along with her patients; we have known each other for years. I pondered over this awhile and wondered if it had something to do with the fact that I always felt I was not able to spend enough time with my mother during her later years. She lived to be an active 94 years, but early dementia and hearing loss made it difficult to converse with her over the phone. She was eager to come over and spend time with us but after a few days wanted to go back to the familiarity of her room and routine.


Did I perhaps see my service to my elderly patients as service to her? They were old; they had dementia of varying degrees, were difficult to manage at times and sometimes had to be tricked into accepting things. Often the caregivers feel guilty doing this, but since they most often are not clear in their judgement, they need to be led gently into a decision making them believe it is their own. I remember a time when mum was in hospital and wanted to be looked after only by us, but since my sister, sister in law and myself were all working we needed to hire a nurse for some time during the day. I remember we told the nurse not to wear a uniform and introduced her as our friend. I’m sure my mother knew something was afoot but she accepted our decision. The elderly do not trust people they don’t know so readily.


I have often had to convince patients living alone to have some help in the house even if it is part time - to take her out for a walk or to do her chores. It appears to them as a sign of weakness, like giving up their control over their homes and leading to a loss of identity.

I remember one patient threatening her daughter, if you bring a maid into the house you will have to take leave and train her because I won’t do as she wants me to. As it turned out later, she could not do without her. Even encouraging elders to keep helpers to help them take care of their ailing spouses is a herculean task. Once a helper is in place with your assurances, many of their fears are allayed. You have to assure them you have vetted the helper and know their antecedents.


It was a joke in our family,  the maid who looked after my mum was paid two salaries. One by my mother the other by my brother who lived with her. His business was in town and he returned home late. So the maid had to wait until he got home. For the elderly it is often difficult to accept the fact that times have changed and living has become more expensive. As a doctor I have realised, once they have some help they settle down and get used to their new caregivers; the phone calls came only when there was a medical emergency or something was bothering them.


Community too has a big role to play. I remember my brother and his family lived in the same area as my mother. All their friends embraced my mum lovingly in spite of the fact that mum was a tough old lady with strong likes and dislikes. I guess they knew how to handle her. I’d like to add here that caregivers have to get some leisure time.  They too get worn out as theirs is not an easy job. Give them time away from the home to help them unwind. I say this because many caregivers are family members.


When we visit the elderly, we sometimes have to listen to the same stories again and again; perhaps we can get more neighbours involved in the activity, so that the responsibility is shared. We need to listen, not react or carry tales. Often we have a preconceived notion about others and we visit the person with a prejudiced mind. Let’s meet them with an open mind. Always make the family aware of any situations that you may notice cropping up and involve the family in the decisions they have to make.


I too am part of this aging community, so I can now understand some of the thinking of seniors. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak is certainly true. What took me 2 days earlier now takes me a week. I listen more to my body now, if it hurts I stop doing what I am doing.  After the numerous falls I’ve had and the various injuries, I’ve sustained because of wanting to do everything, I now realise it is only God who has looked after me. Many things could have had other outcomes. I’ve told God that I’m now going to help Him take care of me by taking care of myself too. 


This Pandemic has set me thinking about a lot of things. How should I start building a different future from now? A retirement home, perhaps! There would be companions of my own age to interact with.  Moving house, living closer to my children? Choosing a building with a lift!  Spending time in prayer so I can make the right choices in the right frame of mind. This lockdown for me has been like a long yearned retreat. A time for reflection!  a time for prayer and a time for doing things differently.


Dr. Enid M –Prabhu is a family practitioner and a member of the Archdiocesan Human Life Committee.

 

THE HOLY ROSARY - PRO-LIFE PETITIONS

Michelle Fernandes

The one who accepted "Life" in the name of all and for the sake of all was Mary, the Virgin Mother;  she is thus most closely and personally associated with the Gospel of life.. (St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae 102).
 

Let us pray the Holy Rosary with our Mother, in defense of life, the very dignity of which is threatened by the Culture of Death prevailing in our world today.

 

How to pray the petitions:

Each decade is dedicated to a particular focus area.  
After the Our Father, pray the first part of each Hail Mary.
Each Holy Mary is followed by the intention (Instead of ‘Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death’, the intention is read out.)

 

First Mystery – In defense of the unborn
HOLY MARY, MOTHER OF GOD …

  1. Pray for the safety and good health of the pregnant mother

  2. Pray for the safety and good health of the unborn child

  3. Pray for mothers not to reject and abort the child

  4. Pray for doctors, that they may safeguard and protect the life of unborn babies

  5. Pray for God’s mercy on IVF clinics, who are agents of death for countless unborn human embryos

  6. Pray for God’s mercy on those couples who have in desperation been lured into opting for IVF procedures

  7. Pray for couples considering IVF, that they may opt for adoption or find fruitfulness in a life of love and service

  8. Pray for God’s mercy on people who advocate and opt for surrogacy, who objectify the womb and human life.

  9. Pray for God’s mercy on abortionists and pro-abortion advocates

  10. Pray that all people may choose to trust God and cooperate with his life-giving plans.


Second Mystery – For the elderly
HOLY MARY, MOTHER OF GOD …

  1. Pray for the elderly, for their safety and good health of mind, body and spirit.

  2. Pray for the elderly to have the determination and strength to be self-reliant and independent.

  3. Pray for all caregivers, that they may have grace and patience in serving the sick and elderly.

  4. Pray for the elderly and their life-savings and property, that they may not be cheated of it.

  5. Pray for the elderly to be protected from abuse – physical, social and economical

  6. Pray for the elderly to be filled with grace and joy in the evening of their lives

  7. Pray for the elderly to have courage and fortitude in their pain and suffering.

  8. Pray for the elderly to be filled with grace, to accept their short-comings and limitations.

  9. Pray for the elderly to continue to serve God in whatever way they can.

  10. Pray for the elderly to be preserved from all fear and prepare to meet the Lord with joy and gladness.


Third Mystery – For those inflicted by alcohol, drug and substance abuse
HOLY MARY, MOTHER OF GOD …

  1. Pray for the healing and successful rehabilitation of alcoholics and drug addicts

  2. Pray for the youth, that they may have the grace to overcome the temptation to experiment with alcohol, drugs and other substances.

  3. Pray for families, that God gives them the grace to deal with the trauma of members afflicted with alcoholism and addictions.

  4. Pray for healing and restoration of families that are destroyed by alcoholism, drug addiction and substance abuse.

  5. Pray for God’s mercy on dealers of alcohol, drugs and other substances.

  6. Pray for God’s protection on those who fight the drug and alcohol mafia

  7. Pray for success in operations against the alcohol and drug mafia.

  8. Pray for law enforcement, judiciary and Government agencies, that they may work for the complete eradication of alcohol, drugs and substance abuse.

  9. Pray that all people may realize that alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases and those afflicted need help to restore their dignity.

  10. Pray that all people may find joy and satisfaction in the love of Jesus, and not the illusion of destructive substances.


Fourth Mystery – In defense of the holiness of the human body
HOLY MARY, MOTHER OF GOD …

  1. Pray for all people to realize that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God.

  2. Pray for all people to realize that God dwells within them and their body is God’s Temple.

  3. Pray for all people to respect and care for the health and wellness of their bodies.

  4. Pray for all people to respect the bodies of other human beings.

  5. Pray for God’s mercy on those who abuse their bodies and the bodies of others through pornography and other violent forms of sexual abuse.

  6. Pray for God’s mercy on human traffickers and those who objectify the human body for money.

  7. Pray for the protection of women and children who are soft targets for sexual abuse and exploitation.

  8. Pray for God’s mercy on those who corrupt the minds of children and lead them on the path of perdition. 

  9. Pray for Governments, law-makers and enforcers, that they may courageously vanquish all sources of abuse, including advertisements, books and films.

  10. Pray for parents that they, by their own example, be pillars of morality and grace.


Fifth Mystery – In defense of marriage and family
HOLY MARY, MOTHER OF GOD …

  1. Pray for all married couples to be faithful to their marriage vows of life-long commitment and openness to children.

  2. Pray for all people to realize that artificial methods of contraception, not only lead to licentious living and exploitation, but also destroy human health and lives.

  3. Pray for parents to practice and teach their children Christian values and moral conduct.

  4. Pray for healing of families who are disturbed and dysfunctional, that they may find peace through loving kindness, gentleness and understanding.

  5. Pray for healing of families who have experienced death, loss and suffering during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  6. Pray for men and women to realize that their bodies are holy and belong to God.

  7. Pray for all people to realize that pre-marital sex and live-in relationships are selfish and exploitative in nature.

  8. Pray for families and all people to accept members with different sexual orientation, and integrate them respectfully into society.

  9. Pray for people who are of different sexual orientation to have the courage to live a life of chastity.

  10. Pray for Government agencies and law-makers, that they not give in to pressure from immoral ideological groups, but preserve and protect family values.


(The Rosary continues with the Hail Holy Queen and Litany)


Conclude with the Prolife Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for the precious gift of life.
We pray for all those who…
Snuff out life in unborn babies, eliminate it with hate, or suppress it prematurely in the elderly and the terminally ill.
Grant that we may VALUE and CHERISH Human Life.
RESPECT and DEFEND it always.


Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us, Amen.


(We request you to please pray the Prolife Rosary Petitions at least once a week)


The Pro-life Rosary Petitions have been collated by Michelle Fernandes, member of the Archdiocesan Human Life Committee.
 

© 2020 Archdiocesan Human Life Committee 

Archdiocese of Bombay

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