St. Francis Xavier Novena Report
“OUR LAND IS OUR IDENTITY…Let’s Protect It!” Exhorts the Church
“Our Land is Our Identity….History…. and Security….Let us Protect it at all costs” was the clarion call given by the Church to its Faithful at the largely attended Novena Masses of St Francis Xavier on Sunday at Old Goa.
The Novena of St. Francis Xavier that started on the 24th of November has been drawing crowds in thousands for the last five days. Even though the Novena and Feast of St Francis Xavier has always been popular with Goans of all castes and creeds, this year’s themes for the ten days have generated added interest since the themes chosen have a particular significance to the prevailing situation in Goa.
In keeping with the fact that Goa is celebrating the Golden Jubilee of its Liberation, the Church in Goa thought of making a meaningful contribution to the occasion by choosing a Pastoral Focus for the year that will speak to the Goa of our times and invite everyone to reflect deeply on the Socio-Politico-Cultural-Economic realities facing Goans and work to preserve the fruits of Our Liberation so as to attain a truer, fuller Liberation. A Pastoral Focus is a thrust that the Church in Goa chooses for all its activities for that particular year beginning in June and ending in May of the following year.
Accordingly, considering the fact that Goa is an Eco-Sensitive State and that Goa has been rocked by Eco-related issues of late, the Pastoral Focus chosen for this Pastoral Year (June 2011-May 2012) is: “Monxa-Xrixtticho Korar, Deva-Mogacho Rupkar”(Covenant between Human Beings and Creation: Divine Love’s Manifestation”). Moreover, this Pastoral Focus takes its inspiration from “Caritas in Veritate” (Charity in Truth), the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI on Integral Human Development written in 2009.
Hence, in keeping with the Pastoral Focus of the Archdiocese for the year, all the ten Themes of the Novena and Feast of St. Francis Xavier are based on Ecology. On the first day of the Novena, reflecting on the Theme: “Soglli Xrixtti, Deva Mogacho Sonvskar” (Creation, a Sacrament of Divine Love!) the Preachers, explained in depth with Biblical references how the Creation is a SACRAMENT of God’s Love. On the second day, reflecting on the theme “Xrixtticho Karbhar, Deva-Monxa Korar”( Stewardship of Creation, a Divine-Human Covenant!), the faithful were challenged to be faithful STEWARDS of God’s Creation as through Christ God has made a Love-Covenant with all of his Creation with a special responsibility of Stewardship, Not Ownership, entrusted to Humans.
Inspired by the Wisdom in Indian Tradition, from the third day the Themes have been based on the Five Essential Elements of the Nature viz: Water, Earth, Air, Fire and Ether. Dwelling on “Udkacho Sambhall, Monis Zobabdar” (Be Responsible, Save Water!), the preachers on the third day tried to convince the Faithful about the need to make responsible use of Water, which is a Source of Our Life itself, and save it for the future generations.
On a topic that has seen a lot of dust been raised of late, the theme for Sunday “Amchi Zomin, Amchi Osmitai” (Our Land is Our Identity) was aptly expounded by the Preachers. Quoting the Scriptures and the Teachings of the Church at length, they explained in detail how Our Identity is intimately linked with Our Land as the Israelites in the Old Testament. The fact that the Land gives us a Sense of Belongingness was powerfully brought out by sharing the Experience of Kurdi People in Sanguem, who still call themselves Kurdikars even though they are relocated at Vaddem in Sanguem after they saw their Village being submerged by water for the sake of the Selaulim Dam some years back. In fact, there are two “L’s” which give us Identity: “Land and Language”, they added. But, interestingly, unlike other parts of India where people Identify themselves by their Language such as “Malyali” or “Telugu”, We, Goans, proudly call ourselves “Goemkars”(of Goa), not “Konkanis or Konkankars”(of Konkani or Konkan) indicating that Our Identity in Goa is linked more with Our Land than Our Language, they asserted. “Our Land is Our History” asserted the preachers since what we are today and our Culture as well as our Ethos is shaped by it through centuries. “Our Geography may be small, but Our History is big” the preachers proudly added. Furthermore, the preachers lamented that Land, today, is seen just from the Legal and Economic perspective. Explaining how Our Food and Water Security is at stake they beautifully drove home the point that Our Land, besides being Our Identity and History, is also Our Security and need to be marked by Solidarity and Inter-generational Justice.
Yesterday (Monday) the reflection was on Air. Explaining the theme “Xant-Xitoll Varem, Devachem Asnnem”( Clear–Pure Air, Breathes God’s Presence!), the preachers impressed on the faithful the need to keep our Air, the breath of our Life, Pure and Clean if we want to make this World safer and a healthier place to live in.
The Sermons have been well received by the faithful who throng in thousands to Old Goa. A striking feature this year is that the Organisers have ensured that the Sermons don’t remain just Sermons. At the end of the Mass everyone takes a pledge to do something about what is reflected on for that day. The Themes for the remaining days will be as follows: (See the attached document).
Those who cannot make it to Old Goa can see the LIVE Streaming of the 6.00 a.m. or 8.15 a.m. Mass on www.archgoadaman.org
The Pastoral Letter of the Archbishop of Goa on which the Novena Themes are based can be bought at The Diocesan Pastoral Secretariat, Institute Piedade, Panjim (2432730) or Pauline Book and Media Centre in Panjim (2231158) or Mapusa (2253329) or Lighthouse in Margao (2703119) or Jivitacho Sondex at Basilica in Old Goa (2285319).
You shall be perfect and without blemish with the Lord your God.