Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Photo Meditation of the Month (February, 2010): DEATH


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A dead bird, a torn sandal, and a piece of deadwood
are symbols of death, as seen near a stream
on a beach on the Oregon Coast, USA

Photo (Oregon Coast, USA: 1976) © Jerome D'Costa

Death

In the above photo, we see the symbols of death. If there is a birth, there is a death, too. Death is a sure and eternal truth -- for human beings, and the flora and fauna. The difference between human beings and other living organisms is that humans have a soul and a free will, whereas others don't have these. The body is mortal, but this soul is immortal. Because of the soul, humans are unique beings.

We came to this world for a period of time to go to another life upon our death. Those who believe in God, also believe that God sent us to this world to lead a life so that we be worthy to be with him in the life eternal. For this purpose, we are to love God and our neighbours in this world in such a way that we we be worthy for him. If we do not live worthily in this world, we will live our next life in an unblessed way -- devoid of the blessings of God.

Atheists say that there's neither God nor afterlife. When human life comes to an end in this world, there's nothing more to be expected or no other place to go to.

If there's no God, no afterlife, then we are like other animals and the flora. If it is so, then we could live a life like animals. If it is so -- if upon death everything comes to an end -- why do we need to live a good life -- loving our neighbours, showing courtesies to others, striving for good virtues, and working for peace? Like animals, we could just fight for our food, forcibly take away others' things, sleep wherever we can, and die -- and then finitum est (everything is finished)! Why spend so much time, money and effort in child rearing and parenting, other training and education, discovery and invention? Why do we need aesthetics, ethics, morality, music, plays, movies, and the like?

It's in the human heart that death leads us to another life. We saw in the rural areas in our country (Bangladesh) -- where most of the people are illiterate -- that as people age, they gain more understanding and realization that death is approaching and they prepare themselves for death by good behaviour and increased religious practices. Nobody forces them to do so. If there was nothing after death, why would they behave like this naturally?

If we focus on death, if we believe in God and afterlife, we will lead our life in a befitting manner and be ready to enter the blessed life eternal.


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The Quotation of the Week (February 28-March 6, 2010)

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Unbound curiosity of young boys at the sight of an elephant
at Mirpur, Dhaka
Photo (Dhaka: January 31, 1981) © Jerome D'Costa



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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bangla (Bengali) Language in Toronto, Canada -- 3

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Here are more Bangladeshi-owned Danforth Avenue businesses using both Bangla and English signboards. Besides these, there are more such businesses and offices in other parts of Toronto. For my immediate purpose, I am just mentioning a few here.

Marhaba Super Market, like other similar Bangladeshi-owned
stores, sells Bangladeshi groceries

Mozza-e-Mozza deshi restaurant

Binodon (audio-video-CD-DVD-VCD service)

Shahjalal Grocery

Joy Hair Design Salon

Bangladesh Community Centre

(The End)
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Friday, February 26, 2010

Bangla (Bengali) Language in Toronto, Canada -- 2

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I am presenting below some photos of businesses and offices owned by immigrant Bangladeshis in Toronto. These, situated on the Danforth Avenue in between the Main Street and Victoria Park Avenue intersections, have both Bangla and English signboards.

Gharoa Restaurant. At the left of the main door is the
temporary Shaheed Minar set up for observance
of the Bangla Language Martyrs' Day on February 21.

Sarker Foods is a grocery store

Anondo Restaurant

Asha Video Plus and Dhanshiri Super Market

New Kabab House -- another restaurant

United Exchange for sending money home

Photos (Toronto: 2008 - 2009) © Jerome D'Costa



(To be continued)
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bangla (Bengali) Language in Toronto, Canada -- 1

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Samples of some newspapers published in Bangla from Toronto
-- (Top row: L-R) Deshe Bideshe and Desher Alo,
(Bottom row: L-R) Shomoy, Bangla Kagoj and Aajkal.


Layout: Joachim Romeo D'Costa
Photos © Jerome D'Costa


Where there are Bangalis or Bangladeshis, Bangla language follows there -- not only as their mother tongue but also as a Bangla language movement. When they are in foreign lands, they practise and propagate Bangla through songs and other cultural programmes and by publishing Bangla newspapers and magazines and writing signboards and billboards of their businesses and shops.

Here we speak of some of the Bangla newspapers being published from Toronto. They are:

Printed Bangla Newspapers:
  • Deshe Bideshe: Edited by Nazrul Minto, it is in its 20th year of publication. It was whole of Canada's first Bangla newspaper that started on February 21, 1991 as a printed paper. Initially, it was an irregular newspaper, but from June 6, 1996, it became a regular weekly. From December 1, 2008, it stopped its printed version and progressed into an online daily. It is available at: http://www.deshebideshe.com/
  • Bangla Kagoj: Edited by Khurshid Alam, this weekly is 10 years old. It does not have an online presence yet.
  • Shomoy: Edited by Alamgir Hussain, this weekly is in its 7th year of publication. It is not yet available online.
  • Desher Alo: Edited by Ahaed Khandakar, this weekly is in its 5th year of publication. It is available at: http://www.desheralo.ca/
  • Aajkal: Edited by Ronny Ahmed Chowdhury, this weekly is in its first year of publication. It is available at: http://www.aajkalca.com/

Online Bangla Newspapers:


  • Deshe Bideshe: See details above, under "Printed Bangla Newspapers." It is now an online Bangla daily.
  • Notun Desh: Edited by Serene Ferdous, this weekly is published online. It is in its second year. It is available at: http://www.notundesh.com/
  • The Bengali Times: Edited by Shahidul Islam Mintu, this weekly is published online and is in the second year of publication. Although this paper has an English name, it is published in Bangla. It is available at: http://www.thebengaltimes.ca/
(Continued)
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bangla (Bengali) Calligraphy Needs Encouragement

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I am not a calligrapher, but the above one is a daring attempt
of mine into Bangla calligraphy!


This is a good example of Bangla calligraphy done by
renowned artist Murtaza Bashir of Bangladesh

Image courtesy: http://www.mukta-mona.com/

1913 Nobel Laureate and poet Rabindranath Tagore's
signature in calligraphic style

My Brush with Calligraphy

My first encounter with calligraphy was in 1960 at Holy Cross High School of Bandura, Bangladesh. At that time Brother Neville, CSC, an American missionary, was one of the English teachers. He was an avid stamp collector and coffee drinker. He used to use Bangla modh (village-brewed 'wine' in name only, but in reality almost 100% pure spirit!) not for drinking but for heating water for his many of cups of daily coffee intake in a tiny stove. This is the first time I come to know that Bangla modh is such a powerful drink that it burns when a match is set on it! Instead of going to the kitchen so many times a day, it's good way of boiling water in one's own room.

One day he was speaking of his stamps and stamp collection. Since my father had a modest collection of stamps, which I used to browse from time to time in my village home, I became interested in looking at the Brother's collection of stamps.

At his invitation, one day, several of us went to see his stamps. His thousands of stamps in several big American-made albums stunned us all. From that time on, I also became a small collector of stamps. Sometimes in future, I will talk of stamps. Brother Neville also showed us his work on calligraphy -- both in English and Bangla. Calligraphy was his hobby. I never saw such a beautiful stylized handwriting in my life! Just amazing! This is the first time we also came to know that this type of writing is called 'calligraphy.' He had several writing pens, dozens of nibs for ultra-thin to quite thick writing, and several small pots of black China ink. He then demonstrated his dexterity in calligraphy on a sheet of thick paper.

Brother Neville's ordinary handwriting was also extremely beautiful. He would encourage his students to practise good handwriting, although it was not compulsory for school children.

What is Calligraphy?

Calligraphy (in Greek kallos = beauty + graphein = to write) is beautiful handwriting. It is a stylized handwriting. Some call it ornamental writing. This type of writing has an aesthetic value and it is part of the fine art.

Calligraphy gradually developed in different languages and countries. Some language calligraphy achieved quite a high standard. The Chinese, Arabic, Persian, English, and some other European language calligraphy not only excelled, but also became widespread among their population. It became an integral part of their culture.

A sample of Arabic calligraphy

An example of ancient Chinese calligraphy

A Chinese poem done in calligraphy

A Persian calligraphy

Indian Languages Calligraphy Not So Developed

Indian languages, including Bangla (Bengali), did not develop calligraphy as they should have. One reason might have been lack of enough patronage and encouragement from the ruling classes. Another one might be the very low literacy rate among the populations.

We have seen that those who studied under the British in the then India (included in it, the present India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh regions), penmanship (standardized writing style for common purposes) was taught in schools, resulting in the habit of good writing style among students. After the British were gone and several countries emerged from one India, penmanship began to fall into disrepair. After the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971, the standard of ordinary handwriting has deteriorated further.

We can see some examples of calligraphy on walls near the Central Shaheed Minar (Language Martyrs' Monument) in Dhaka every year on the occasion of the Ekushey February celebrations, but this form of art is not in the mainstream at all.

As a Respect to Bangla Language, Calligraphy Should be Encouraged

Bangladeshis love their mother language Bangla (Bengali) from their hearts. They are highly inspired by the Bangla language movement (1948-1958) and the language martyrs of 1952. Presently, computer is increasingly invading the homes, institutions, offices and business firms creating a dent on the habit of handwriting, let alone good handwriting. The western countries are already victims of this indiscriminate computerization regarding handwriting.

The Bangladesh government, educational institutions and business firms should come forward to encourage standardized handwriting in general and calligraphy in particular. Religious precepts, good quotations, poems and other stuff can be written in calligraphy and framed for display. This will also be a good art form for the Bangalis. Encouragement may come in the form of sponsorships, trainings, competitions, awards and the like. These efforts, then, will be a real tribute to the Bangla language and its martyrs.

For Those Interested in Calligraphy

If you are interested in calligraphy, you may visit the following sites:

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Poem of the Month (February, 2010): IN MEMORIAM: THE SHAHEEDS [MARTYRS OF BANGLADESH]


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I had written the above poem in Bangla (Bengali) and it was published by the Shurid Sangha (a Catholic youth organization) of Dhaka, Bangladesh, in its February 21, 1972 souvenir Shotabdir Shakkhor.

On the occasion of the Ekushey February and International Mother Language Day of 2010, I present below the English translation of the poem.

In Memoriam: The Shaheeds
[Martyrs of Bangladesh]

Every male and female of Bangladesh today,
Under the flag of independence
Is marching forward
With the new message of hope,
This independence today
Is a success,
In lieu of so much blood and so many lives.

On a day in the year of nineteen fifty two,
In the heavy storm
A few flowers dropped down
From their strong green stalks,
To establish their mother language
In its proper and dignified seat.

The Bangalis on that day
Proved to the world that they also know
How to shed their blood
For liberating the truth-like 'rogue'
From the clutches of the false 'ally.'

The ideal of these martyrs
Year after year, decade after decade,
Inspired the Bangalis anew
To search for the gold-like real truth,
That's why in the past nine hellish months,
Did they not tremble
At the aggressive thunder-strikes
Of the Khan [West Pakistani] soldiers.
To break their iron fetters
Millions of Bangladeshis,
Giving their invaluable lives,
Cheerfully bathed in the bloodied river.

We remember all the martyrs
Of the past twenty-five years,
On this day we remember
Those through whose sacrificed lives
We've gained our rights.
We shall never forget
Their sacrifice and self-immolation,
They will never die, never ever.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

The Beauty of Different Language Alphabets

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My name -- Jerome D'Costa -- in different
language alphabets
(scripts)

From my childhood, I have been amazed by and curious about languages. I became more interested in it when I used to see and hear American Catholic priests (missionaries) in my village church communicate with each other in English, their mother language. When my father would return to our village home on weekends, he used to communicate with them in English, too. I would wonder how they made unfamiliar sounds but understood each other! They also wrote differently than ours and still they could decipher meanings from them. How wonderful it was!

When I gradually began to read and write English, a wider door of knowledge opened for me. I began to go through my father's collection of books and magazines like The Orient, Calcutta Municipal Gazette, and others. Later, when studying history in Notre Dame College, Dhaka, I came across different writing methods, for example, hieroglyphic (pictorial or symbolic writing of the Egyptians), cuneiform (wedge-shaped writing of the Mesopotamian civilizations), phonetic (writing the sounds -- Latin, English, Bangla or Bengali, etc.), and the like. The invention of these writing styles are fantastic.

Then it was the last quarter of 1974. Caritas Bangladesh, then known as Christian Organization for Relief and Rehabilitation (CORR), sent its Regional Director of Chittagong Flavian Quiah and me (Information Officer at the Central Office in Dhaka) to Bangalore of the Karnataka State, India, for a training on the Community Organization and Development. The training was at the Jesuit-run Indian Social Institute Training Centre.

There were several dozen trainees from different regions of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Bangladesh.

As I was getting familiarized with the participants, one day, the idea came to my mind that I let them write my name in their language alphabets. On a sheet of paper, I wrote my name first in English and Bangla (Bengali) and then I requested others to write my name in their own language alphabets. The result you can now see in the above image.

On the occasion of the International Mother Language Day, I present this little piece of gem for the international readers!

What do you think of the beauty of different languages and their importance in this world?



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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Today is the Ekushey February and International Mother Language Day

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Ekushey February image representing the Central Shaheed Minar
(Central Language Martyrs' Memorial) in Dhaka. The white writing
in Bengali on the red stairs is "Ekushey" (February 21st). The white
writing at the top left corner says: "Can I forget my brothers'
blood-splattered February? Can I forget this February that's
bathed in the tears of hundreds of mothers who lost their sons?
Can I forget the February that's reddened with the blood
of my golden country?
" (translated by Jerome D'Costa)

Graphics (Toronto: February 14, 2010) © Joachim Romeo D'Costa


Today is the 58th anniversay of the Ekushey February (21st February) -- the Language Martyrs' Day in Bangladesh. It is also observed as the International Mother Language Day throughout the world.

This is the day when the Bangladeshis remember how their forefathers fought and some of them gave their lives on February 21, 1952 for preserving the dignity of their mother tongue Bangla (Bengali) in the then East Pakistan (later called Bangladesh). They also remember how this Bangla Language Movement acted as the seed for the freedom struggle through the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971.

On the occasion of the Ekushey February this year, there are two encouraging news about the Bangla language. According to a www.21stfebruary.org report, a Bangladesh Foreign Ministry official mentioned that Italy has donated a prime piece of land in Rome near the Bangladesh Embassy for building a permanent Shaheed Minar (Language Martyrs' Memorial). In the past, on February 21, Bangladesh Embassy and Bangalis in Rome had been using a temporary Shaheed Minar to observe this day. Responding to Bangladesh Embassy's request, the government of Italy demonstrated this good gesture. After the General Conference of the United Nations Educational Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared February 21st as the International Mother Language Day to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism, this day is being officially observed annually since February 21, 2000 in major capitals of the world.

According to bdnews24.com, while inaugurating the Ekushey Boi Mela (Ekushey Book Fair) at the Bangla Academy in Dhaka this year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the government of Bangladesh has been pursuing the case of Bangla (Bengali) language to be used as the seventh official language of the United Nations. She also mentioned that, when participating in UN sessions, she herself speaks in Bangla in all UN assemblies. She also said that the Awami League government during its 1996-2001 tenure took the initiative of forming the International Mother Language Institute. The work halted during the next government. She promised to complete the work during her tenure of office this time. She also informed that the government of Bangladesh would form an information bank to preserve local languages that are on the verge of extinction. Bookmark and Share

The Quotation of the Week (February 21-27, 2010)

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The Central Shaheed Minar (Language Martyrs' Memorial)
in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Photo (March, 1975) © Jerome D'Costa


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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Brother Andre, CSC: The Little Man from Montreal Is Set for Canonization in October

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Brother Andre Bessette, CSC,
of the Congregation of Holy Cross
, Montreal, Canada
Photo courtesy: www.cbc.ca/

Pope Benedict XVI formally announced in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican on February 19, that Brother Andre, CSC -- less than five feet tall in stature -- of Montreal, along with five others, will be raised to the sainthood in coming October. The formal canonization ceremony will take place in the Vatican on October 17, 2010, reports CNA.

The five other candidates are: Mother Mary MacKillop, the founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Australia; Father Stanislaw Soltys, a 15th century priest of Poland; Sister Giulia Salzano and Sister Battista Varano of Italy; and Sister Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola of Spain. Representatives from these countries were present in the Consistory Hall at the time of the official announcement.

Jubilant Canada

Canadians received the announcement of the canonization with jubilation. Montreal's archbishop Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte at a press conference at St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal said that the Vatican announcement was "the best thing that could have happened this year for the Church in Montreal." He also said: "I have always been impressed by this man [Brother Andre], both a humble man and a visionary, a man of deep faith. An example of determination, still relevant today in 2010."

Father Jean-Pierre Aumont, CSC, Provincial of the Congregation of Holy Cross in Canada, called the announcement a "wonderful gift." He further said: "For the Religious of Holy Cross, it represents more than ever a source of inspiration, a model of faith and trust in God and in the human condition. He shows us how to envision great things and how to look toward the future!"

Bishop Pierre Morissette of Saint-Jerome in his capacity as the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said that the bishops of Canada welcomed the Vatican announcement. On the saint-to-be he said: "Brother Andre lived his life with great humility. Guided by a deep faith and devotion to Saint Joseph, he dedicated his life to praying, serving the poor, welcoming strangers, healing the sick and comforting the suffering. To this day, his memory remains an important witness to all Canadians of faith and love."

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is a Protestant, in his statement on the same day said: "Brother Andre's life shows us the power of faith and the importance of concern for the sick and others in need. In this solemn act, the Roman Catholic Church is honoring a Canadian who achieved greatness through humility, determination and service to others." He further stated: "Brother Andre's devotion to St. Joseph, the patron saint of Canada, led to the building of the magnificent Oratory on Mount Royal. Today's news heightens the inspiration we feel on seeing that religious landmark, a symbol and center of faith in Montreal and all of Canada."

His Humblest Life

Brother Andre, CSC, was born on August 9, 1845, in Saint-Gregoire d'Iberville, 40 kilometres (25 miles) to the east of Montreal, Canada. His birth-name was Alfred Bessette (after he become a Brother, he was given a new name "Andre"). He was one of the 12 children in a poor family. When he was nine years old, his lumberjack (woodcutter) father was killed by a falling tree. Three years later, his mother died from tuberculosis. After the parents' death, his siblings were divided up among relatives. His family situation prevented him from being a literate. He had difficulties in reading and writing.

From very young age he had to work for six years as a farm labour, shoe-repairer, baker and blacksmith in the province of Quebec, Canada. Then he went to neighbouring New England State in the USA where he worked for four years in textile mills and agricultural farms.

On his return to Canada in 1867, he, barely literate and with frail health, expressed his willingness to join a religious Order. His local parish priest, who knew him well, sent him to the nearby Holy Cross Brothers assuring its superior that "I am sending you a saint." His forecast has come to be true with the recent announcement at the Vatican.

The superior placed the 25-year-old novice at College Notre-Dame, a high school for boys near Mount Royal in Montreal, as a porter (doorman). Even after being a Brother, he remained in this same post -- for a total of 40 years.

School boys, their parents and other visitors became attracted to him due to his unusual humility, prayerfulness and cheerful spirit. They used to request him to pray for their problems and sicknesses. Many of them attributed their healing to him, but with his usual humility, he would say that it was his prayers to St. Joseph that the healing occurred.

His extraordinary devotion to St. Joseph inspired him to build a church in his honour. With small amounts of money, received mostly as donations, he built a small church in 1904. Due to ever increasing number of devotees and pilgrims, Brother Andre set to build a large church which got built gradually in stages. Ultimately it was completed in 1966, about 30 years after his death on January 6, 1937. This impressive church -- now a minor basilica -- on Mount Royal, overlooks the city of Montreal. It is interesting to note that when Brother Andre proposed to build a bigger church, many of his confreres laughed at him because such a gigantic idea was coming from a mere door-keeping Brother, who was almost an illiterate!

The process of canonization of Brother Andre, CSC, started in the 1940s. In 1978, he was declared a "Venerable." In 1982, he was declared a "Blessed."

The statement of Father David Tyson, CSC, the Provincial Superior of the Indiana Province of Holy Cross, published in the South Bend Tribune, aptly summarizes the life of Brother Andre: "We are honored and moved beyond words at Brother Andre's formal recognition as a saint. Not only because this immensely humble man is the Congregation's first recognized saint, but because he is such an ordinary example for every Catholic of every age. Not for him the trappings of power and status, of money and prestige; he simply did everything and anything that was needed, from cleaning the floors to fixing shoes, from doing students' laundry to cutting hair. What an example of prayer in action, of active service to others as the most eloquent and powerful prayer for all!"

Brother Andre: A Member of the Congregation of Holy Cross

Brother Andre, CSC, the newly minted saint, belonged to the Congregation of Holy Cross, a Religious Order of Catholic priests and Brothers. This congregation has its missionaries in over a dozen countries, including Bangladesh, on five continents. Father Basil Moreau, CSC (1799-1873) founded the congregation at Sainte-Croix (Holy Cross) village near Le Mans, France. Father Moreau himself has been beatified in the Vatican on September 15, 2007.


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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday Ushers in the Season of Lent Before Easter

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Graphics courtesy: http://www.zwani.com/

Today is the Ash Wednesday. With this day, starts the season of Lent, when Christians practise more penance, self-reflection, almsgiving, fasting and abstinence. The Lenten season ends with the Easter Sunday, when Christians believe Jesus Christ resurrected from death.

On Ash Wednesday, Christians receive ashes on their foreheads as a symbol of humility and a reminder for doing penance for gaining increased holiness and preparing oneself for a good death. In the Catholic churches, priests place ashes on the faithfuls' foreheads and say: "Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return." Ashes are derived from palms used on the Palm Sunday Mass. Palms are burnt and made into ashes and blessed by priests.

To know more on the subject, you may visit the following:



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Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Family Day!

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Today is the Family Day. This day is being observed in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan -- on the third Monday of February. It is also the public holiday in these three provinces.

This day is observed in support of the values of a family. People spend this day in various ways with the members of their families. When life is so hectic, busy and distracted in different ways, this day provides an opportunity for families to spend the day as a whole unit.

It is noteworthy that Canada has different types of families recognized by the laws of the country. Bookmark and Share

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day to All!

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Valentine's Day Image
Graphics (Toronto: February 13, 2010) © Joachim Romeo D'Costa

Most of the world observes today as the Valentine's Day as an expression of their love for near and dear ones.

This day first started in Europe and it has an interesting background influenced by the Roman Catholic Church.

Wish you all a happy Valentine's Day!



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The Quotation of the Week (February 14 - 20, 2010)

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A doodle on religions by Jerome D'Costa




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Friday, February 12, 2010

2010 Olympic Winter Games Start Today in Vancouver, B.C.

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The official logo of the 21st Olympic Winter Games
in Vancouver, B.C.


The 21st Olympic Winter Games start today in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, with an impressive and awe-inspiring ceremony at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (9:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time). Canada's Governor-General Michaelle Jean will officially inaugurate the games at the British Columbia Place Stadium. The 16-day events will conclude on February 28 with participation of more than 5,000 athletes from over 80 countries. Seven sports (ice hockey, curling, skating, sliding, skiing, snowboarding and ski jumping) will be covered in 86 events.

Paralympics (Olympic competitions for athletes with physical and visual disabilities) will also be a part of the winter games. The 10th Paralympic games will be held separately on March 12 to 21.

This is the third time that Canada has been hosting Olympic games on its soil. The first hosting was the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Quebec and the next one was the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta.

Canada has taken extraordinary security measures in ensuring the safety and security of the Olympians.

The Pope's Greetings for the Olympics

Pope Benedict XVI in a message on December 30, 2009, to Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia, and also to Bishop David Monroe of Kamloops, British Columbia, greeted "the participating athletes, the organizers and the many community volunteers who are generously cooperating in the celebration of the significant international event."

"Such an important occurrence for both athletes and spectators allows me to recall how sport 'can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between peoples and to establishing the new civilization of love,'" Pope Benedict added quoting his predecessor Pope John Paul II.

"In this light," the pope said, "may sport always be a valued building block of peace and friendship between peoples and nations." In the conclusion of the message, the pope invoked the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Vancouver Archdiocese Extends Hospitality to Athletes

The Archdiocese of Vancouver under Archbishop Michael Miller, CSB, extends 'radical hospitality' to the athletes by opening two hospitality centres. In a letter to the athletes, the archbishop says: "While you are here, we hope you will consider visiting one of the archdiocese's downtown hospitlity centres for athletes." One of the centres is the Holy Rosary Cathedral and the other one is at the archdiocesan offices at the foot of Robinson Street."

"We think you will find these places to be sanctuaries while you take a break from the rigours of competition. We hope you will find a common language in the love of Jesus Christ."

The archbishop also invites all athletes to participate in the coming Ash Wednesday Mass on February 17.

Websites and Blogs Dealing with the Olympics

For daily Olympic events and updates, you may visit the following websites and blogs:




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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Signs of the Times

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A message on a bench at the bus stop
of the Scarborough Town Centre, Toronto

Photo (July 26, 2009) © Jerome D'Costa

Writings and graffiti on walls, benches and other places for public viewing speak of the thinking and trend of the time. The same is true of the signs, posters and billboards. From time to time, we will publish the "Signs of the Times" as a part of the visual history.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Quotation of the Week (February 7 - 13, 2010)

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Canada geese are feeding on a lawn at the University of Waterloo
in Ontario, Canada

Photo (September 27, 2009) © Jerome D'Costa

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

This Is the Black History Month

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"Kikora" (Joy, in Swahili language) by Artist Keith Mallett
Image courtesy: Keith Mallett Studio Inc.

In Canada and USA, February is observed as the Black History Month. In this month, the blacks return to their history to look at their past and gain inspiration for the future. Many people, other than the blacks, also participate in the observance of this month in different ways.

We also need to learn more about the black history which can be a great teaching tool and a source of inspiration for us all. Last year, we also spoke about this month. Last year, in the light of the Black History Month, we also threw a proposal for observance of the Bangladesh Heritage Month in each February.

To learn more about the Black History Month, blacks and black history, you may click on the following:


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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Pope Encourages Priests to Engage in Digital Media

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Image courtesy: Karen Hall's blog Some Have Hats


Pope Benedict XVI, in a message on January 24 for the 44th World Communication Day to be observed on May 16, 2010, urged Roman Catholic priests to participate in the digital media. The theme for this year's World Communication Day is The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word.

The pope also said: "The spread of multimedia communications and its rich 'menu of options' might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different 'voices' provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis."

Pope Benedict added: "Responding adequately to this challenge amid today's cultural shifts, to which young people are especially sensitive, necessarily involves using new communications technologies. The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul's exclamation: 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel' (1 Corinthians 9:16). The increased availability of the new technologies demands greater responsibility on the part of those called to proclaim the Word, but it also requires them to become more focused, efficient and compelling in their efforts. Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word."

The pope also mentions: "...A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unaritculated desire for enduring truth and the absolute. Just as the prophet Isiah envisioned a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Isiah 56:7), can we not see the web as also offering a space -- like the 'Court of the Gentiles' of the Temple of Jerusalem -- for those who have not yet come to know God?"

Pope Benedict XVI was initially reticent to digital communication media. He gradually began to have increased presence in them. Presently, he is in the YouTube (The Vatican) and websites like Pope to You, including the Facebook and iPhone.

Even before the pope's call, there are hundreds of blogs already being written and managed by Catholic Bishops, priests and Religious, including nuns. There are even greater number of blogs by Catholic lay men and women. I mention below just a handful of them:


Blogs by Catholic Cardinals:



Blogs by Catholic Bishops:


  • Bishop William Lori's Blog (The Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA) (Started on March 30, 2007)
  • Abyssus Abyssum Invocat (Deep Calls to Deep) (Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, USA) (Started on May 26, 2009)
  • Viewpoints (Personal Views and Commentaries by Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan, Dagupan City, The Philippines) (Started on April 17, 2003)
  • In and Out of Season (Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo's blog) (Jaro, The Philippines) (Started on November 30, 2005)
  • The Journey of a Bishop (Archbishop Terence Prendergast of Ottawa, Canada) (Started on January 4, 2009)
  • Encounters (Bishop Pat Alo Mati's Blog) (Davao Oriental, The Philippines)

Blogs by Catholic Priests:

  • Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) (Father John Boyle of Ashford, Kent, UK) (Started on August 2, 2009)
  • Holypriesthood (Living the priesthood one step at a time) (By Father Benjamin and Father Joel of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA) (Started on September 21, 2007)
  • Father Anthony Ho (A spiritual, catechetical and pastoral blog of a priest) (Vancouver, B.C., Canada (Started on June 19, 2008)
  • The Hermeneutic of Continuity (Father Tim Finigan) (Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church at Blackfen, South-East London, U.K.) (Started on April 6, 2006)
  • A Concord Pastor Comments (Father Austin Fleming commenting on life and ministry in his parish, in the Roman Catholic Church and the world), (Concord, Massachusetts, USA) (Started on August 1, 2008)
  • Father Jim Chern's Blog (Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA) (Started on July 14, 2007)
  • Catholic Spiritual Direction (Seek Him, Find Him, Follow Him) (Father John Bartunek, L.C.) (New York, USA) (Started on January 5, 2009)

Blogs by Catholic Monks:


  • Word Incarnate (Abbot Joseph of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery -- aka Mt. Tabor Monastery -- a Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic community) (Redwood Valley, California, USA) (Started May 18, 2005)
  • Abbot Cuthbert Johnson (Liturgical and Monastic Subjects) (Benedictine Abbey of St. Mary at Oulton, Staffordshire, UK) (Started on May 30, 2008)
  • Conventual Frnanciscans (Franciscan Friar Matt's Blog) (Washington, D.C., USA) (Started April 13, 2007)
  • Monks on a Mission (Missionary Benedictine Monks of Christ the King Priory) (Schuyler, Nebraska, USA)
This being the Year for Priests, Pope Benedict called upon the priests to participate in the digital media. Besides priests, Religious Brothers, Religious Sisters (nuns), Deacons and Catholic lay men and women also can contribute their mite through these media. Every one has a story to tell, every one has his or her experience of this world -- religious as well as secular. These stories and experiences need to be told and shared in the light of their beliefs. That's the Good News.

Now let us examine a few blogs by Brothers, Sisters, Deacons and lay men and women:


Blogs by Catholic Religious Brothers:


  • Brother Patrick's Blog (Brother Patrick Cousins of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart) (Syracuse, New York, USA) (Started on February 13, 2007)
  • Brother Bubba's Journal (Life in the Hermitage) (Brother John-Paul Ignatius Mary, OLSM) (Iowa, USA) (Started in 2003)
  • The Yoke of Christ (Brother Francis de Sales Wagner, O.S.B.) (St. Meinrad Archabbey, Indiana, USA) (Started on December 21, 2008)
  • A Minor Friar (The rants and reflections of a brother in Christ) (Brother Charles of the Franciscan Order, USA) (Started on April 24, 2006)

Blogs by Catholic Religious Sisters (Nuns):


  • Communitas et caritas (Community and love: The unexpected twists and turns of becoming a nun) (Sister Juliet, RSCJ, of the Society of the Sacred Heart) (USA) (Started on July 26, 2009)
  • Ask Sister Mary Martha (Marina de Rey, California, USA) (Started on June 30, 2006)
  • A Space for Seeking and Deepening (Witnessing faith in every dimension of life in a world of communication) (Sister Margaret Kerry, FSP) (Boston, Massachusetts, USA) (Started on December 2, 2008)
  • WindowstotheSoulBlog (Exploring the spirituality of Catholic media artists) (Sister Marie Paul Curley, FSP) (USA) (Started on August 29, 2008)
  • Sisters of the Gospel of Life (Sister Roseann, Sister Amanda and Sister Andrea) (Glasgow, England, UK) (Started on July 8, 2007)

Blogs by Married Catholic Deacons:


  • One Deacon's Idle Musings (Deacon Chick O'Leary) (Archdiocese of Chicago, USA) (Started on April 16, 2009)
  • The Deacon's Bench (Deacon Greg Kandra) (Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, USA) (Started on May 29, 2007)
  • View from the Lake (Deacon Joseph E. Hilber) (Minnesota, USA) (Started March 6, 2006)
  • The Speakin' Deacon (Deacon John) (Reflections on the Sunday readings) (Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, USA) (Started October 31, 2006)
  • I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel (Thoughts and homilies on the Sunday gospel) (Deacon Steve) (Diocese of Lansing, Mississippi, USA) (Started in July, 2008)
  • Deacon Dan Wright (Diocese of Austin, Texas, USA) (Started on June 24, 2006)

Blogs by Catholic Lay Men:



  • American Papist (Blogging about life as a Catholic American) (Thomas Peters) (USA) (From September 4, 2005 to January 8, 2010 it was at another blog address) (From January 28, 2010 it started at this new blog address)

Blogs by Catholic Lay Women:

  • Anna Arco's Diary (A female journalist in London, UK) (Started on September 21, 2009)
  • Mulier Fortis (Courageous Woman) (Mac LcLernon, a female teacher, UK) (Started on May 13, 2006)
  • Conversion Diary (Jennifer Fulwiler, a convert to Catholicism from atheism in 2007) (USA) (Started August 10, 2005)
  • Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer (Emmy Cecilia, a female student) (USA) (Started on December 25, 2007)
  • Blest Atheist (A Spiritual Encounter) (Elizabeth Mahlou, an atheist converted to Catholicism and now a catechist) (Started on January 3, 2009)
  • Joan's Rome (Joan Lewis, EWTN Rome Bureau Chief) (Rome, Italy) (Started on September 15, 2009)
  • Contemplative Haven (Prayers and reflections) (Gabrielle) (USA)
  • A Catholic View (A Secular World, A Catholic Perspective) (Christine) (USA) (Started in 2008)
  • Aussie Coffee Shop (On family life of the blogger) (Aussie Therese, a mother of seven children) (South Australia) (Started on August 23, 2006)

To look for detailed lists of Roman Catholic blogs, you may visit the following:

Catholic Blog Lists:

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