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THE ROSARY PRAYER (2)

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Pray for us sinners now and the hour of our death, amen {as the book of wisdom rightly informs us, “the souls of the just are in the hands of God” (cf Wis. 3:1-8).And  Blessed Virgin Mary being with her son in heaven, one whose son never for once disobeyed  while on earth, the event in Cana (Jn. 2:1-11)  testifies to this, when it was not yet time to do miracle he abandoned his will to that of his mother’s (intercession), he will not disobey her  now they are in heaven thus the   Catechism of the Catholic Church  further clarifies; “ …taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gift of eternal salvation…therefore the Blessed Virgin Mary is invoked (in the church) under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Meditrix (CCC. 967). Therefore being with her son in heaven she is even ready and willing to pray for all who seek her intercession. We therefore entrust to her maternal intercession our lives and the hour of our death.

According to St. Louis the Montfort the Hail Mary is an essential part of the Rosary and is the most perfect compliment that can be given to Blessed Virgin Mary. The compliment to the Most High sent her by an Archangel in order to win her heart. Furthermore, the repetition of the Hail Mary in the Rosary gives us a share in God’s divine favour and pleasure.  In it also is the jubilant amazement through which we acknowledge the greatest miracle of history “…henceforth all generations will call me blessed…” (LK.1:48) thus the church rightly honours the Blessed Virgin Mary with special devotion which of course  differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate word, Jesus Christ and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit but it greatly fosters the worship and adoration of God the Trinity.

The Rosary is the “epitome of the whole gospel” (CCC 971). In the Rosary we also remind God of his words that wrought the greatest prodigy on earth, especially the conquering of evil (1Jn 3:18) and the final banishment of the devil and his cohort, for it denotes Jesus is come. So when the Hail Mary is properly understood, we come to see clearly that its Marian character is not opposed to its Christological character but it actually emphasizes and it increases it. Next is the doxology.

*DOXOLOGY: The glorification of the Trinity in Matt. 28:19 is repeated at the end of each decade. For each event of joy, light, sorrow or glory goes back to the Triune God: the Father who made us, the Son who redeemed us and the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us and dwells within us. Again far from being a final conclusion it takes us its proper contemplative tone, raising the mind as it were to the heights of heaven

 

OTHER DEVOTIONAL PRAYERS

One of the major prayers said here is the Fatima aspiration – “oh my Jesus …” it is called so because of its origin in 1917 when our lady visited the three children. It was one of the prayers she asked them to be praying for the peace and conversion of the world. The prayer emphasizes the roles of the Church as the conqueror of hell (cf. Matt. 16:19) One may also add other ejaculatory prayers according to his/her intention, locality and orientation.

*HAIL HOLY QUEEN (SALVE REGINA) This prayer is one of the oldest antiphons and prayer of our lady; it was composed in the eleventh century, far between the arrangements of the rosary as it is today. (cf. Thomton B., 1961)

 

THE MYSTERIES

Mystery can be seen as that which we cannot fully understand. Etymologically the word is from the Greek “mysterion” and Latin “mysterium”. It has many nuances of meaning. Central to the various meaning is the idea of the hidden which has been revealed, something unapproachable which invites entry, and the unknowable. Christians adopted it as meaning something hidden in God and unknown to men because of its transcendence but which can be revealed to men. St Mark for instance places the ascent on the participative aspect of the kingdom when he says; “to you it  have been given the mysteries of the kingdom of God” (Mk 4:11) Mathew and Luke brings on their own the cognitive aspect of the mystery, St Paul used the word mystery to designate the divine plan of salvation (1Cor. 2:7-10) he also used it to designate the hidden mystery for all eternity which God has conceived from the very beginning of the universal salvific plan.(Rm.15:25ff).

Submissively by mystery as in the sense we use it in the rosary prayer, we mean an event or events full of meaning, such that a lifetime of contemplation will not exhaust their depth and beauty. These mysteries form a sequence that carries us as we follow her and her Son, Jesus Christ, from the time the angel broke the Good News to her, through His birth, the Temple, His public ministry, the Cross, the Resurrection and to the Glorious risen life of Christ. The Rosary beads help the faithful to meditate prayerfully, following the proper sequence of the mysteries.

For Louis the Montfort in his book “The Secret of the Rosary” the rosary said without meditating on the sacred mysteries of our salvation would be almost like a body without a soul which set it apart from all other devotions. All the mysteries of the rosary are directly lifted from the bible except the fourth glorious mystery which is also part of the sacred tradition and in accordance with the spirit of the bible. Below are their scriptural roots:

JOYFUL MYSTERY: The joyful mysteries are marked by the joy radiating from the events of the incarnation, that is, the birth and the coming of Christ in the flesh. This is based mostly on St Luke’s gospel: The Annunciation (cf. Lk1:28-31); The Visitation (cf. Lk1:36; 56); The Nativity (cf.2:6-7); The presentation of the child Jesus in the temple (Lk.2:22-38); The finding of the child Jesus in the temple (Lk.2:41-52);

THE MYSTERY OF LIGHT (MysteriaLucis): This is also called the millennium mystery by virtue of the time of its institution by the late Pontiff; St. JohnPaul II. This mystery spans from the infancy and the hidden life in Nazareth to the public life of Jesus. They include:   His baptism in the Jordan (Mt. 3:13-17; Mk.1:9, Lk.3:3, Jn.1:29); His self manifestation at the wedding of Cana ( Jn. 2:1-1);  Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt. 5:14; Mk. 1:14-15); The transfiguration of Jesus (Mt.17:1-9, Mk.9:2-13, Lk. 9:28-36) and Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist (Mt.26:26-30; Mk. 14:12-25; Lk. 22:14-20)

THE SORROWFUL MYSTERY: Here the rosary selects certain moments of the passion of Jesus inviting the faithful to contemplate them in their hearts and relieve them. Thus the sorrowful mysteries help the believer to relieve the death of Jesus, to stand at the foot of the cross beside mother Mary, to enter with her into the depths of God’s love for man and to experience all its life giving power. They are:  The prayer and agony in the garden (Mt. 26:36-46, Mk.14:23-42, Lk. 22:39-46); The scourging at the pillar (Mt.27:27-31, MK. 15:16-20, Jn. 19:2-3);The crowning with thorns (Mt. 27:27-31); The carrying of the cross (Mt.27:15-26, Lk. 23:13-25,Jn. 18:39);The crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ (Mt.27:32-50)

THE GLORIOUS MYSTERY: The glorious mysteries are refulgent with the pure light of eternity flowing down upon the world. They are: The resurrection (Mt.28:1-10, Mk.16: 1-10, Lk. 24:1-12, Jn. 20:1-10);The ascension (Acts1:6-11); The descent of the holy spirit on the apostle (Acts 2:1-13).

 

The Assumption; The Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary is a singular participation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her Son’s resurrection and ascension into Heaven and a fore taste of the anticipated resurrection of the body of Christians. We professed in the Apostles ‘Creed our belief in the resurrection of the body. What we hope that Christ will do for us at the end of time, he has already done this for his mother; anybody could have been given such privileges to his beloved mother. To doubt the possibility of the Assumption is to doubt the possibility of resurrection of Christians on the last day (cf. 1 Cor. 15:35-53). According to Rev. 20:13; “the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.” This confirms that the dead will become reunited with their bodies wherever they may have been whether in the sea, river, fire wherever. Meanwhile the Blessed Virgin Mary was not the First to experience this assumption, other people recorded in the Scriptures who underwent this experience include; Enoch and Elijah

 

To be contd

 


 

By Ajoku Magnus: a Seminarian of Owerri Catholic Arch Diocese (07030677310)

 

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The Data of Forgiveness

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The Universal Character of Salvation

The most important ingredient in today’s media economy is data. The amount of data available determines how much and how long we can work or play on the internet. Currently, many of the service providers offer unlimited data plans but we know that those “unlimited” plans are not always unlimited. Sometimes, your download speed can get slowed down when you cross a certain point. Today, however, Jesus gives us the divine model of an unlimited plan. It is the unlimited bundle of compassion and forgiveness which never gets slowed downed shut down for maintenance. The theme for this week is that we must learn to forgive without limits no matter the injury committed against us.

In Matthew’s Gospel, today’s teaching on unlimited forgiveness comes after Jesus had told his disciples the parable of the wandering sheep, so it is plausible that some would have wondered among themselves how many times a good shepherd should go after the same sheep if it keeps wandering away. In those days, people believed that forgiveness was limited to three times only – a fourth transgression was not to be forgiven. So, by asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Peter was probably aiming to increase the limit to seven times. And Jesus makes it clear that we are to forgive others, “not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22).That means we must dispense an unlimited data bundle of mercy.

In Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of a debt we could never pay. Sin is an offence against God and a direct rebellion against his authority and creation. The debt of 10,000 talents mentioned in today’s parable symbolizes the magnitude of the offence that sin causes in God’s eyes, but he is always willing to forgive without limits. However, we can easily cut ourselves off from God’s river of mercy when we refuse to forgive others. We end up restraining God’s mercy and putting ourselves under strict justice. To unfold his mercy without compromising his justice, God leaves each person free to choose between the two. If we insist on strict justice when we are offended, we bring God’s strict justice upon ourselves. But if we offer an unlimited bundle of mercy to others, we draw God’s unlimited data of forgiveness upon ourselves.

The secret to forming a forgiving heart lies in recognizing the evil of our sin and the immensity of God’s goodness in forgiving us. Until we see the ugliness of our ingratitude and selfishness, we will never appreciate the generosity of God’s forgiveness. Let us examine ourselves now to see how much forgiveness we are giving. Is there someone we still cannot forgive even after they have expressed sorrow for their actions? Have we judged someone too harshly because of something they said or did that we did not particularly like? How many times have we failed to help somebody because we are still dwelling on an injury that we suffered many years ago? How many times have we treated someone differently based on preconceived notions or stereotypes? These are some of the factors that shackle us like chains and that disrupt the unlimited data of divine grace in our lives. When we close ourselves off to people or dismiss them based on our preconceptions, mistaken judgments, and prejudices, not only do we make them suffer, we suffer as well.

But it does not have to be that way. Jesus came to free us from and the burden of sin and unhappiness. Forgiveness is like mercury, which runs away when it is held tightly in the hand but is preserved by keeping the palm open. When we lose forgiveness, we lose the ability to give and to receive love because love is the foundation of forgiveness. And since God is the foundation of love, whoever refuses to forgive automatically rejects the love of God. This is the essence of today’s parable and it is highlighted by the contrast between what was owed by each man. The wicked slave owed his master some 10000 talents. In gold terms, that is 350 tons and at today’s price, he owed his master USD21.8 billion. This was way more than King Solomon made in a year which was 666 talents of gold or USD1.45 billion in today’s value (cf. I Kings 10:14). So, this unforgiving servant owed his master what no individual could never payback. In contrast, his fellow servant owed him the equivalent of one talent of gold or USD2.1 million; so a man who was forgiven $21.8b could not let go of $2.1m, and his wickedness landed him in the hands of torturers.

Dear friends, forgiveness is an act of compassion which is expressed in the free choice to pardon one another’s shortcomings every day, and to also pardon ourselves for own mistakes Forgiveness transcends the fear of being wounded again; it is a deliberate act in imitation of the redemptive work of Jesus, the advocacy of the Holy Spirit, and the loving kindness of the Father. The whole point of today’s parable is that our Father in heaven will do the same to anyone who refuses to forgive others. Whoever refuses to forgive is doomed to a life of bitterness, and as the ugly trend continues, the person ends up building invisible walls of resentment around themselves, thereby blocking off not just one’s relationships with other people but with God as well. Forgiveness is not just an emotional expression or a sense of righteousness; it means being merciful not only when there is an explanation or apology, or a promise of amendment from the offender, but even when the offence is deliberate, and the offender is adamant. Forgiveness is a precious gift of grace, which does not depend on the worthiness of the receiver. Forgiveness is what we called to do, and the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us in that regard. Amen.

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Imo Deputy Governor’s giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture

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Imo Deputy Governor's giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture
By Joy Opara

The increasing cost of Agricultural products in Imo State in recent times has continued to be a major source of concern to the citizens of the state.

A critical appraisal of the development of Agriculture in this state reveals that successive governments had neglected this major sector of the economy, over three decades now, and this has adversely affected the revenue of government.

In line with the vision of the “shared prosperity” government of the Hope Uzodinma administration, the revolution of agriculture is among its cardinal programmes for which a high powered committee (on agricultural master plan for Imo State) has been set up.
For the purpose of resuscitating all moribund agricultural industries and facilities in the state, it is not surprising that this committee is headed by a world class Professor of Agriculture and Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku.

The need to diversify the economy cannot be over-emphasized. It is a well known fact that there is no better and more sustainable means of diversifying the economy than through agriculture. It would be recalled that after the inauguration of his committee, the deputy governor went into action, first by visiting all moribund agricultural facilities in the state, which included Adapalm in Ohaji/ Egbema LGA, Avutu Poultry farm in Avutu, Obowo LGA, Songhai farms, Okigwe road, Owerri, ADP farms in Nekede, Owerri West. Others are Acharaubo farms in Emekuku, Owerri North, Imo Rubber Plantation in Obiti, Ohaji/ Egbema, amongst others.
Prof. Njoku in one of his speeches during the tour described agriculture as the economic base of most countries of the world. Considering the dwindling oil revenue, he said it should be a source of worry to people of good conscience that the vision of our founding fathers to generate revenue, food security, economic advancement, industrialization, employment and eradication of poverty was destroyed by successive governments.
The Deputy Governor, who not only is acknowledged as one of the greatest professors of Animal Science, a renowned Agriculturist and former Vice Chancellor of a leading University of Agriculture, the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, made it clear that the present government led by Governor Hope Uzodinma is desirous to return agriculture to its former glory.

The Ikeduru-born technocrat and farmer per-excellence said that the 3R Mantra of this administration namely: Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery is a base for making the dream of Imo State as the food basket of the nation come true.

Noting that government is a continuum, the deputy governor promised that his committee will build upon what is already on ground by rehabilitating the ones that could be rehabilitated and bringing in new facilities where necessary to ensure that the passion of the governor towards agricultural revival is achieved.

Meanwhile, in most of the establishments visited by the committee, it was discovered that indigenes of the communities had badly encroached into the lands and converted them to personal use. Investigations by the committee revealed that agents of some past governments in the state connived with the communities to make it possible, for their personal aggrandizement.

The deputy governor, whose humility has become legendary pledged his total support to the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma whom he described as God sent to right all that were done wrong by the previous administrations in the state. He called on all to give this administration the needed support to rewrite the history of Imo State in gold, especially the agricultural sector.

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust
By Christian Uzoukwu

Some years ago, while as a kid, I fell out with my father due to an occasion of sheer disobedience and on that very day, I was given no food and was ultimately battered by hunger. Child abuse includes both acts of commission and omission on the part of parents, guardians as well as care-givers.

These acts have led to a lot of actual and threatened harm meted out on countless number of children. In 2014, the WHO made an estimate of 41,000 children (under the age of 15) that are victims of homicide and other related offences. This estimate, as expounded by this world body is grossly below the real figures due to the views of the society in relation to corporal punishment experienced by children. Girls are always most vulnerable to different forms of child abuse during unrests and in war-thorn territories.

Cases of child abuse can be established in some deadly human vices such as child trafficking, child labour, forced adoption as seen in the one-child policy prevalent in China. In the Asian country, women, by law are only allowed to have one child. Local governments would sometimes allow the woman to give birth and then they would take the baby away stating the mother violated the one child policy. Child traffickers, often paid by the government, would sell the children to orphanages that would arrange international adoptions worth tens of thousands of dollars, turning a profit for the government.

Other striking examples of child abuse are the various forms of violence against the girl-child which involves infanticide, sex-selective abortions, female genital mutilations (FGM), sexual initiation of virgins in some African cultures, breast ironing in some parts of Cameroon – involving the vicious use of hot stones and other tools to flatten the breast tissue of girls who have attained the age of puberty. As if those were not enough, female students are also subject to maltreatments in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is not to talk of recurring kidnapp of female students in some parts of Nigeria, as we saw in the case of Dapchi and Chibok schoolgirls.

Based on simple analysis, child abuse can be defined as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”.

This definition by WHO also falls in line with the definition propounded by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that child abuse are acts of commission. This commission includes “words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child”, and acts of omission (neglect), meaning “the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm.

In Nigeria, most cases of child abuse have become cumbersome due to the fact that these acts of abuses are regarded as mere punishments to unruly young ones and by so doing, should be justified and doesn’t call for any further discussion and/or scrutiny. According to various statistical studies and researches, child abuse is a vast societal cankerworm and has four profound tentacles viz:

Physical Abuse: this involves undue hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, burning, strangling, insertion of pepper into the eyes and pubic regions of children, maltreatments from house-help(s) and seniors at boarding/day schools, suffocating and forcing children to live in unwholesome conditions.

Sexual Abuse also includes persuading a minor into acts of sexual intercourse, exposure of the child’s private parts, production of child-related pornographic contents and actual sexual contacts with children.

Psychological Abuse of children can be seen in cases of excessive scolding, lack of proper attention that children should be receiving from their parents and guardians, destructive criticisms and destruction of a child’s personality.

Neglect of children can also lead to children dropping out of schools, begging/stealing for food and money, lack of proper medical care for minors and realities of children looking like ragamuffins.

Consequently, the causes of child abuse can be judiciously related to sex, age, personal history, societal norms, economic challenges, lack of Rights’ Protection Agencies, parents battling with traits of alcoholism and family size. These causative agents of child abuse can bring untold effects upon the society at large and these effects can be emotional, physical and psychological as the case may be, giving rise to individuals with dissociative lifestyles.

Furthermore, the treatment of individuals who have been malformed with respect to the abuses they experienced abinitio, can be a long process because it involves behavioral therapy and other forms of neoteric therapies. Treatments of psyche-related problems are not just a one-day process due to the long-lasting effects of abuses on various conscious mental activities. It is also noteworthy to point out that, prevention is always better than cure and holding fast to this true reality, entails that agencies who have the responsibility of protecting the rights of children must continue to do the needful which requires proper oversights of parent-child relationships.

To conclude this piece therefore, we must agree that untold hardships have been a great challenge for children especially in Africa and some parts of Asia. Children with long histories of abuses turn out to become societal misfits. To this end we encourage that: Children should be given a free platform to express themselves on many topical issues and issues relating to their existence.

Children should also be allowed to freely ask questions on any issue, no matter, how weird it seems to be.

Governments should make regulations outlawing societal norms and values that might amount to child abuses.

Corporal punishments by parents, guardians and care-givers should be discouraged at all levels, thereby making parents/guardians/care-givers who seem to be incorrigible, to face the full weight of justice enshrined in the law of the land.

Education system (both conventional and unconventional) in Nigeria should be able to train up young ones into becoming critical, analytical and evaluative individuals with a view of defending the vulnerable.

And again, since children are said to be leaders of tomorrow, it is pertinent to note that to secure their future, their present existence must be cherished and protected.

Christian Chimemerem Uzoukwu
08100029867 / 09025760804
Admin Critical Thinkers’ Forum.

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