Monday, May 29, 2006


Pre-PMPCIII – take input seriously

The pre-PMPC III convention for the clergy and the laity are over. At the pre-convention for the laity that just concluded (April 29 – May 1,2006) a number of interesting issues were raised as reported in Herald dated May 14.

Some of these issues were: 1. Pastoral care should focus on family and BEC. 2. Clergy-laity relationship 3. Laity’s voice, maturity and intelligence underestimated and not utilized 4. Open dialogue, transparency and accountability in parishes 5. Establishment of a laity-clergy diocesan council. 6.Mid-term review of PMPC 7.Christian Institute of leadership training 8. Growing crisis in marriage and family life. 9 Concern of family institution 10.Youth not given serious consideration 11.Lack of basic facilities in small parishes 12. Islamisation and marginalization of minorities by the government

Amidst all these discussions, Archbishop Murphy Pakiam’s call to the laity to be united in faith, hope and being one in Jesus is timely and as Christians we must all heed his call.

Regrettably the one common grouse among the participants at all three diocese was regarding the unfavorable clergy-laity relationship. In fact the first 5 issues above relate to this problem. This unhealthy relationship was felt very deeply by all the participants and if you were to conduct a survey would also be the grouse by lay Catholics all over the country.

With gradual loss of mutual love and respect, the clergy-laity relationship is deteriorating over time and in some places has resulted in ugly untoward incidents. This is unbecoming of the followers of Christ who are asked to in faith, hope and being one with Jesus.

There is an urgent need to foster a better clergy-laity relation based on the unselfish and non-egoistic love of Christ. In this relationship all are equal. The laity lament that the talents and skillful qualities are not being appreciated by the clergy, who consider themselves superior and indispensable. The clergy on the other hand have some preconceived perceptions that the laity is ignorant, over demanding and unrealistic.

There should be mutual love and respect for each other, realizing that we all workers in the Lord’s vineyard, where He alone is the master. Each of us, either laity or clergy, is bestowed with the love of Christ in the form of our talents and skills, to be shared freely with one another. Unless we can do that we will not be worthy followers of Jesus Christ.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Uncle George revisited

Let’s go out to look for more Uncles George

This is the follow up of my letter on Uncle George “Love grows when we grow old” (Herald April 16). Indeed I am glad for the wonderful contribution on Uncle George by Peter Wong, “Uncle George is the best!” (Herald May 7).

Uncle George and auntie Grace were overjoyed to have visitors who came after seeing the above letters in the Herald. They were particularly grateful to Herald for publishing those letters. There were also numerous phone calls from long lost friends and relatives. I could virtually see the glow of happiness in their faces

I hope more will continue to visit uncle and his wife. Their request to us all is simple. This is what he says: “It is not money, gifts or food that we need. All we ask for is the love of fellow humans to spare some time for elderly people like us who are so lonely”.

There are hundreds, may be thousands, of uncles George scattered all over in our parishes, living in loneliness and fear of imminent death, not of themselves, but of their spouse which would leave them all alone in this world. They are desperately yearning for our love and support.

As Christians are we on the look out for such people who yearn for our love and affection? Some of us may be too busy with our work that we do not recognize them although they are in our midst. Many of us are too obsessed with prayer that we are indifferent to the pleas of our neighbor, hoping that God will take of them. We fail to understand that God does not come directly to help man. He will only come in the form of earthlings like you and me.

Our priests are best poised to take the lead. They must come out to lead us, the laity, to search and reach out to the hundreds of desperate and lonely people in our parish. These parishioners in their twilight of their lives have lived exemplary Christian lives. Above all,they have cherished and safeguarded their sacred wows of matrimony to be with each other in good and bad times, a virtue we find hard to see these days. At a time when our children badly lack role models in life, we must bring out these people as examples for them to emulate.

Unfortunately today, our priests are increasingly seen as mere administrators of church rituals which by themselves without a real concern for the condition of the human heart serve no purpose as it is devoid of substance and love.

Very often we, the children and priests are quick to anoint the sick and dying when in coma and subsequently give them a grand funeral service. We even offer masses and hold elaborate memorial services for the dead but lack the same enthusiasm in being supportive and being with them when they were alive.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Thursday,May 11, 2006

Develop the passion for vocation

We just celebrated Good Sheperd Sunday or fashionably called Vocation Sunday nowadays. May be our priests prefer to shy away from being regarded as shepherds. Our celebrant, Fr.Maiccal Sinnapen in his homily rightly pointed out that our vocation calls us to be another Christ in our respective jobs.

In today’s fast moving materialistic world, we have removed that Christ from our lives. This is the cause of decreased passion and love for our job as our profession has become a means of income and not a vocation. As a result we are ever ready to leave our job for something else just for a slight increase in remuneration. We have become more passionate and loyal to the monetary rewards rather than the real substance of our profession.

Christian education traditionally instilled the right values at an early age. The decline in this Christian education over the years is a major cause of the loss this passion in our vocation. The Church has lost its moral obligation in continuing proper Christian education for the younger generation.

My own medical profession is an example. With a decline of Christian education, many doctors failed to realize that God has bestowed His love in them in the form of medical knowledge and skills which has to be shared with those in need. This has resulted in the once noble profession being abused as a money spinner by the big business co operations. As a consequence, quality medical care is being denied to the poor and needy. The same can be also said of all other professions as well including the priesthood.

Over emphasis and over indulgence in evangelization and charismatic activities by the church has resulted in the erosion of true Christian education for our children. Today Christians are more interested in these charismatic and evangelical activities rather in charitable deeds to others in need, which I feel is contrary to what was taught by Christ himself.

Decades back we witnessed the love of Christ alive in our community in the various Christian institutions. We had the mission schools, hospitals, and orphanages, homes for the aged, schools for the disabled and halfway homes for the wayward. We were taught serving men was the way Christianity has to be practiced. Today we cannot proudly claim to have these institutions of Christ’s love anymore. Instead they have been replaced by numerous evangelical and charismatic formation groups.

We have pray sessions and petitions for vocations to the priesthood and clergy but they by themselves will not be sufficient. Unless our priests and clergy bring back the love of Christ alive into the community, they will never be able to attract the young men and women into their flock.

In the final outcome, Fr.Maiccal’s call that we should become another Christ in our own profession is most timely and we, the priests, clergy and laity must strive towards that end. If we do not act now, I foresee a bleak future where Christianity, instead of reflecting the radiant love of Christ, would become just another religion where rituals and politics would be the rule.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Controversies and the Church

Attack on Christian belief, what is our stand?

Of late a number of controversies have cropped up that have resulted in our church resorting to all available means to rebut them. These are the DaVinci Code, The Gospel of Judas and the recent publication of a scientific explanation for certain miracles performed by Jesus.

The various churches, in particular the Catholic Church, have embarked on extensive counter measures to rebut these allegations. Do we need to go to such an extent to counter these allegations?. We contend these allegations are baseless and malicious. What if they are true? Only God knows for sure whether they are true or otherwise.

This is not going to be the end of such claims and allegations. As long as man exists, his egoism and curiosity will continue to rule him and he will persist in his attempts to disprove our long accepted believes. Man will continue to cast doubts on our faith and believes that are so dear to us. Modern scientific principles may even succeed in proving certain of our established believes wrong.

Are we going to be shaken every time someone tries to shatter our belief with new allegations or discoveries? If so our faith is very superficial and we have not understood Christ fully. His teachings will stand the test of time. His two great commandments, love God and love you neighbors as yourself, are relevant throughout the ages and would never become obsolete. If we understand and practice these two great commandments, we need not be too worried that our faith will be proven wrong.

The trouble is, today we are more obsessed with rituals than the essence of our faith. If religion is about dressing according to a code and the observation of rituals without a real concern for the condition of the human heart and conduct, it misses the point. In such a situation there is cause for concern every time someone tries to shatter our faith.

The two great personalities of recent times, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa, proved this point very precisely. No amount of coaxing, however strong, could divert them from their strong convictions of service to fellow man. This was because of their strong commitment to sharing the inherent love of God with others.

Let us too pray for the development of this strong commitment to share Christ’s love with others at all times.

Dr.Chris Anthony