Legazpi: To help overcome the struggles and difficulties of language and culture barriers in the local area the Cooperators, Novice Master and novices organized a camping trip on February 24th for children from Purok 6. The program started with heavy rain, a sign of blessing from God, for this inaugural event. The children and their parents enjoyed putting up tents, games, cooking, swimming and so forth. The adventure came to a close by Fr. Sagayaraj thanking God for the joyful and exhausting day.
Legazpi: Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior visited Legazpi during the Local Assembly Meeting in Manila. Fr. Soosai visited February 22nd – 23rd. During his stay, he shared with the novices the the main points which were discussed during the provincial chapter meeting. He listened to their feelings, opinions, and difficulties after their first six months at the novitiate house. He also listened the confreres and their struggles, sharing their sentiments in the service of the Lord. In the presence of staff, residents, priests, novices and builders, Fr. Soosai dedicated the new guest house after five months of construction.
Legazpi: The Servants of Charity community performed an act of charity on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, February 2nd. They gave a helping hand to relieve the burden of the evacuees of a natural disaster, the Mayon volcanic eruption. The evacuees received rice, milk and biscuits which are their primary needs while they remain at the evacuation center.
Bangalore – The seven novices of the Guanella Preethi Nivas community went on a ten-day desert experience under the guidance of Fr. Gnanaraj. They went to the Servarayan Hills, at Sagayapuram in the Thiruvannamali District. It is a desolate mountain top with a substation church. They had a spiritual awakening by spending lot of time in prayer, meditation, discerning their vocation, speaking to God and journeying into one’s own self. It was an atmosphere conducive to listening to the voice of God and to be enlightened to one’s true self. After morning Eucharist and instruction all went into the forest, having no contact with anyone except God in solitude. Fr. Gnanaraj beautifully guided each novice to discern their vocation through fasting, prayer and spiritual direction. Everyone would return in the evening, share their experiences and collectively prepare dinner. They had inexplicable Tabor experiences on that mountain. On the way down the mountain, they visited the Cloister of Poor Clare nuns. Talking to those spiritual giants was awesome and enlightening for the novices at the threshold of their Religious profession.
Cuddalore – On March 22nd, to conclude the academic year, Annual Day was celebrated with the Evening School Children in the auditorium of St. Joseph’s Seminary. The celebration began with the welcome address given by the rector of the seminary, Fr. Assisi. Fr. Amal Raj, vice-rector of the seminary, was also present and Sr. Maria, Principal of St. Mary’s Mat. High Secondary School was the chief guest. In her speech, Sr. Maria spoke about the Evening School as a great opportunity for the children as well as for their families. She invited the children to make good use of it for a better future. One of the parents shared her feelings and her gratitude to the Institute and to St. Guanella for the precious service given to their children. Fr. Assisi distributed prizes for various the competitions: regular attendance, best student, best attitude. After the vote of thanks given by Fr. Arockia Raj, Annual Day concluded by sharing a delicious meal. The children were very happy. They made the celebration much more joyful with their cultural programs.
Chennai – If the world is a book, those who do not travel read only one page. To assist the theology students to read more pages, the Don Guanella Major Seminary community organized an annual two-day tour. The journey departed from DGMS on March 20th with the prayer of Fr. Samson. The first day was joyfully spent in Valparai visiting many tourist places and Churches. Breezy wind and natural sceneries offered peaceful relaxation and mesmerized the travelers. The second day journey began from Valparai to Palkad. The confreres enjoyed the day, sharing their togetherness and happiness with all the community members.
Chennai – March 19th is celebrated as Saint Joseph’s Day. This year on this special occasion the Don Guanella Major Seminary community invited the Guanellian family to be nourished spiritually and physically. A special Mass was celebrated by superior Fr. Samson along with all the community fathers and brought the blessings of the Lord amidst us. People who are sponsoring the seminarians were invited as special guests for the event. As a sign of gratitude, they were honored for their benevolence to our community and given a memento for their generous contribution to our congregation. Everyone enjoyed a delicious meal and Fr. Samson concluded the day with a final blessing.
Cuddalore – March 11th was a great day for St. Joseph’s Evening School, the children, teachers, staff and Fr. Arockia Raj went on an outing. The tour began with an amazing boat trip through the canals of Pichavaram Mangrove Forest. The second stop was at Poombuhar where everyone ate lunch and enjoyed taking photos at the sea. But the best part of the day was when they reached Tharangambadi beach: the children were so happy and joyful, playing in the waves and sand, collecting seashells, and running on the seashore. When it came time to leave, it was really hard to get them out of the water. Everyone enjoyed the entire day, every place they visited and playing songs, singing and dancing during the travel. They arrived home that night, tired but happy to have spent a wonderful day out.
Bangalore – Every year to meditate on the passion of Christ, the Guanella Preethi Nivas community ‘climbs the mount.’ A few of the residents and staff took part in the Calvary journey led by Frs. Nevis and Gabriel and Bro. Regent on March 2nd. As a Lenten preparation, parishioners from area villages gathered to take part in the passion of Jesus. The Sacrament of Reconciliation and Holy Mass were offered on ‘Mt. Calvary’ which is in the forest near Mudhiyanur. With the protection of forest guards they worshiped safely without disturbance by the wild animals. At the end, lunch was served by the parishioners in the forest.
Anytime the subject of marriage comes up in a conversation, the questions are always the same. Why is the Church so adamantly opposed to “gay marriages” and civil unions? Doesn’t the Church’s stance discriminate against homosexuals? What harm is done if homosexual activity is between consenting adults? How does it affect my marriage and family? Why does the Church care if in fact the Church won’t be required to witness such unions?
These are just some of the questions debated today over gay marriage and civil unions. For the sake of the record, there is no difference between the two: just different terminology for the same thing. It seems however, that some advocates use civil unions as a stepping stone to legitimize gay marriage.
As the debate continues, it’s really important that Catholics understand why this is such a critical moral issue and why the Church is involved. And we begin with a review of the Church’s fundamental teaching about marriage. As Catholics we believe that matrimony is a sacred institution, designed by God and raised to a level of a sacrament by Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly sets forth God’s plan for the human race: “God created man in His image, in the divine image He created him, male and female He created them. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fertile and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.’” (Gn 1,27-28).
The teaching of the Church explains: the intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by Him with its own proper laws. God Himself is the author of marriage.
The two divinely established purposes of marriage are obvious: to promote life and love and to be creative and unifying. “This life giving complementarity between the sexes is natural and normative. Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another.” (Catechism, #1604). A statement of the Pontifical Council for the family explains it this way: “We can also see how incongruous the demand is to grant marital status to unions between persons of the same sex. It is opposed, first of all, by the objective impossibility of making the partnership fruitful through the transmission of life according to the plan inscribed by God… Marriage cannot be reduced to a condition similar to that of a homosexual relationship: this is contrary to common sense.” (#23).
The statement refers to “common sense and I think that’s important. When we learned about the birds and the bees, it was always male and female; it was always male and female birds and bees, wasn’t it? Some advocates of homosexuality point to the fact that there is evidence of homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom, and I suppose that’s true. But it always emerges as an exception to the norm.
Finally, even from a biological standpoint, the “facts of life” are obvious: man and woman are physically designated for union with each other. In short, from the evidence of the Bible, the teaching of the Church, common sense and biology, so called gay marriages and civil unions are contrary to God’s plan, morally objectionable, and an unacceptable substitute for marriage.
By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC