Is Holy Communion Equivalent to Prasadam?Is it Safe for Catholics to consume Prasadam?


JUNE 20,
2014

 

Is Holy Communion Equivalent to Prasadam?

Is it Safe for Catholics to consume Prasadam?

 

There are two dimensions to the issue of what is called, according to where you live in India, “prasad“, “prasada“, or “prasadam” (I will use the terms interchangeably) in connection with the Holy Mass.

The first one is whether at all Holy Communion, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, can be called “prasad“.

The second one is whether it is spiritually safe for Catholics to consume the “prasad” of Hindus.

The latter is a very contentious issue, with strong opinions favouring both, the absolute condemnation of participating of the offerings made to pagan deities, as well as the opposite which seeks not to hurt the religious sentiments of people of other faiths, with Catholics’ accepting the proffered “prasad“.

 

The Body of Christ becomes “prasadam”

 

This article is much overdue; I finally got down to working on it after I received a copy of a letter dated June 15 from Mumbai addressed to the editor of the Bombay Archdiocesan weekly, The Examiner. The letter said:

 

I went for to Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Sion, for the 5 p.m. feast Mass of St. Anthony on June 13.  

When it was time to distribute Holy Communion, a priest announced that prasadam would be given to Catholics as well as non-Catholics. Catholics would get prasadam in the church. Non-Catholics were not to come forward for prasadam in church as they would get prasadam outside in the compound. In the compound, just beyond the statue of St. Anthony that people went to venerate, slices of bread were given to all who wanted. It is evident that this was the prasadam the priest referred to. Calling the ordinary bread prasadam is bad enough; it used to be called St. Anthony’s bread.

How can one call the Body of Christ – prasadam! It gives a wrong impression to those who do not know. 

An ignorant non-Catholic in the church could have thought – why go outside when I can get the Prasadam here – and go and receive Holy Communion. I have also witnessed in other churches, non-Catholics going up to receive the Eucharist.  Sometimes the priest unknowingly gives it to them. This usually happens during big feasts, weddings or funerals and sometimes even during Sunday Mass at well-known churches/shrines.  

Once when a priest refused a non-Catholic Holy Communion, he confronted the priest outside the Church saying he insulted him by refusing to give him the prasad. Fortunately the priest explained the issue to that person…

 

Receipt of the letter was acknowledged by the office of The Examiner, the Archdiocesan weekly of Bombay but it remained unpublished in the next issue that was brought out.

 

According to the writer of the letter, the priest at the Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mumbai announced that “prasadam would be given to Catholics“, thus effectively calling the Eucharist “prasad“.

The priest then uses the same term “prasad” to describe the “St. Anthony’s bread” that was distributed to non-Catholics who had come in great numbers to venerate St. Anthony on his feast day.

Describing both offerings as “prasad” equates them without any distinction in the mind of the consumer.

Is that acceptable to Catholics?

What exactly does “prasad” signify?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prasada

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prasad

This page was last modified on 19 May 2014

Prasada is a material substance of food that is a religious offering in both Hinduism and Sikhism, which is consumed by worshippers. Literally, a gracious gift. Anything, usually an edible food, that is first offered to a deity, saint, Perfect Master or an Avatar and then distributed in His or Her name to their followers or others as a good sign. The prasad is then considered to have the deity’s blessing residing within it. In contemporary Hindu religious practice in India, the desire to get prasada and have darshana are the two major motivations of pilgrimage and temple visits.

As a spiritual state prasāda has a rich history of meanings in the Sanskrit tradition from Vedic literature onwards. In this textual tradition, prasada is a mental state experienced by gods, sages, and other powerful beings which is marked by spontaneous generosity and the bestowing of boons. Prasāda is understood in this sense of a mental state from the earliest literature (Rig Veda) onwards — not as an aspect of ritual practice. In later texts such as the Shiva Purāna, references to prasada as a material substance begin to appear alongside this older meaning.

In its material sense, prasada is created by a process of giving and receiving between a human devotee and the divine god. For example, a devotee makes an offering of a material substance such as flowers, fruits, or sweets — which is called naivedya. The deity then ‘enjoys’ or tastes a bit of the offering, which is then temporarily known as bhogya. This now-divinely invested substance is called prasāda and is received by the devotee to be ingested, worn, etc. It may be the same material that was originally offered or material offered by others and then re-distributed to other devotees. In many temples, several kinds of prasada (e.g., nuts, sweets) are distributed to the devotees.

Some strict Gaudiya Vaishnavas, most commonly initiated ISKCON devotees, will eat only prasada, i.e., everything they eat is first offered to Lord Krishna, not simply a few items like most other Hindus do. In addition, the cooking of prasada is done without tasting, for it is not for their own consumption, but to offer to Krishna — they will receive the remnants of Krishna’s food (which they consider to be non-different to Krishna). ISKCON temples are known for providing free prasada meals to all who come, as they believe that this is not only feeding the poor but providing them with Krishna’s mercy as well.

One way that Prasad is commonly prepared is to place the food in offering before an image or statue of the spiritual figure to be honored, sometimes on a plate or serving vessel reserved only for spiritual purposes, and only then, after some time is allowed to pass, does the food become holy Prasad for further distribution.

 

 

The tradition of offering Prasad to the deity may have started with a very logical explanation that finds its root in the power of positive thought. The Prasad is believed to foster multiple positive thoughts. Firstly, the Prasad is offered to the deity and His blessing is sort for a wish, a task in hand, blessing etc. Herein, it is believed that the Supreme Power has accepted our request in form of the Prasad and given us the approval or the power to move on. Secondly, this Prasad is considered to be sacred and thus all being receiving it are believed to be blessed. Thirdly, the most important aspect is that when the primary pray-er gives the Prasad to fellow beings he (primary pray-er) repeats his wish to the each one of them. Each fellow being in turn accepts the Prasad and prays that the wish of the primary pray-er comes true. The more the Prasad is distributed, the more positive thought is concentrated on the wish of the primary pray-er and this in turn causes the universal power of positive thought or belief to work towards the fulfillment of the wish of the primary prayer.

 

International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)

http://www.thetruelight.net/religions/iskcon.htm
EXTRACT

By Mike Shreve

The [Hindu] devotees also eat food offerings. This practice is called prasada
– a method used to purify the consciousness.

 

 

 

Prasada

http://www.hinduism.co.za/prasad.htm

By Swami Shivananda, Divine Life Society, Rishikesh

When a ceremony is performed all the devotees should share the prasad and thus receive the blessings of the Deities. Prasad is extremely sacred. There is no restriction of any kind in taking prasad. Time, place or condition does not affect one. Prasada is the most sacred object for a devotee. One should consider himself lucky to take the Prasada, and there is no restriction of any kind in taking Prasada. Prasada is all purifying.

 

Why do we offer food to the Lord before eating it?

By Swami Vimalananda and Radhika Krishnakumar, In Indian Culture, Why Do We…? Chinmaya Mission, August 2002

In Western tradition, food is partaken after a thanksgiving prayer – grace. Indians make an offering of it to the Lord and later partake of it as prasada – a holy gift from the Lord. The offered food is mixed with the rest of the food and then served as prasada.

 

The Essentials of Hinduism

By Swami Bhaskarananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1994, page 156

The temple priest takes the food from the devotees and offers it to God on their behalf. The consecrated food – called prasada – is distributed by the priest to the devotees… Eating prasada is considered to be spiritually beneficial…

 

In addition to all the above definitions, after scrutinising several other books in my library, I can summarise the meaning of “prasad” or “prasada” in its simplest form as follows:

Gift of God

So when a Christian accepts and consumes Hindu prasada, with the full awareness that it has been offered to a pagan deity who has blessed and returned it to its devotees, he or she gives acknowledgement to the said deity and can be spiritually affected by the consumption of the prasada as Catholics in the deliverance ministry have experienced, and we shall see later in this study.

 


 

Ex-seminarian Lawrence D’Souza writing in the SSPX (Traditionalist) Newsletter of the District of Asia, July – December 2003, Scandalous Ecumenism with Hinduism states that in the Goregaon, Bombay, Archdiocesan Seminary “Prasada (food or sweet items offered to the idols) was offered to the Blessed Sacrament such as done in the temples. Seminarians were encouraged to join the Hindus in their festivals of Ganpati and a proposal was being executed to actively participate in the processions of Ganesh-Visarjan (drowning of Ganpati idols).

Source: http://www.sspxasia.com/Newsletters/2003/Jul-Dec/Scandalous_Ecumenism_with_Hinduism.htm,

http://www.scribd.com/doc/3983326/Scandalous-Ecumenism-With-Hinduism

 

The situation discussed immediately below is answered by the CDW Instruction on the following page:

1. Blessing children in the Holy Communion line

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/lit/viewanswer.asp?QID=137

January 14, 2005

 

 

 

What is the church’s position on blessing small children who accompany their parents to Communion? I frequently see the priest bend down and make the Sign of the Cross over a small child or baby, then touch their head. Is this allowed or should the priest be reported for an abuse? Similarly, in some parishes with deacons, I have seen the deacon distributing communion do this also. Can a deacon even perform a blessing, or is that restricted to priests. –Karl

I don’t believe this has ever been addressed officially; at least it’s not in the instructions for the Mass. The communion line is for receiving Communion, not for other blessings. The children and other adults not receiving communion still receive the blessing after communion.

Deacons can only give blessings where it is prescribed in the ritual books during the Liturgy. –Jacob Slavek

 

2. Using the Holy Communion line to bless people [Giving sweets to non-communicants]

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/lit/viewanswer.asp?QID=148

February 10, 2005

I asked often the same question and was always told by the priest that Jesus said to let the children come to him. There and then, he would bless them. So the priest’s gesture [in blessing children who approach for receiving Holy Communion] is following and imitating Christ.
My question still stands today unanswered. I am aware of spiritual communion and blessings instead of receiving communion for those who often are unable to distinguish the presence of Jesus in a rational way and with a present mind and or, are unable to receive it like children or a very sick person.
Are children falling under the category of those who can’t distinguish the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist but yet can still receive the Eucharistic blessing? Can you define in this case what would Eucharistic Blessing mean? It seems to me that having the entire congregation get up again and going all the way to the front to have their children blessed seems to be a little off hand. It would prolong the mass a great deal. In that case I have no trouble in seeing that done at the same time as the parents receive communion. It would be nice as well to see families get up and receive communion all together whether it be spiritually or eucharistically. Communion also means family as I was told several times in the past.
Here in a parish near me they have the children pick up a candy or a little blessed object that the little servers hold in a bowl in the middle of the line. The children don’t even get to be blessed. Now what is worse is this or the previous case talked about. This, to me, is what I call abuse and over the edge. Everyone seems to glorify that gesture around here and give praises to the priests for doing such a thing for the children. The Bishop seems to be in accord with this because he celebrates mass there sometimes and lets that happen. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated on this mater. –Sandy

Yes, of course children can receive a Eucharistic blessing.  This is when the priest makes the sign of the cross with the Host over those blessed. This isn’t done at Mass; however, it is done at the benediction at the conclusion of solemn adoration with the Host inside a monstrance.

Of the two, I would say that the worse abuse is distributing candy and blessed objects in the communion line. This can be done AFTER Mass.

As far as imitating Christ:  it seems to me that the greater concern for the priest during the celebration of Mass should be the proper celebration of Mass. It doesn’t strike me as “turning children away” to have them wait until Mass is nearly finished before they receive the blessing. If a parent wishes that the child receives a special blessing then they can approach the priest after Mass. This would be a more appropriate time. –Jacob Slavek

 

In the Indian context, distributing “prasad” would be a bit like giving sweets to non-communicants.

It will be helpful to the reader to study this response from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW), and then read my comments following it:

Congregation for Divine Worship – On Giving Blessings during the Communion Rite

http://www.adoremus.org/0209CDW_Blessing.html

(Protocol No. 930/08/L) dated November 22, 2008 February 2009]

Online Edition: February 2009

Vol. XIV, No. 10

What about giving blessings to people who come forward in the Communion line but who are not receiving Communion? Should a priest, deacon or an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion give the person a blessing instead?

What if a person who is not receiving Communion presents himself with arms crossed over the chest, during the regular administration of Communion?

Two men wrote to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) asking about this practice. Their query asked if there are “particular guidelines or restrictions” concerning the practice of a minister or extraordinary minister giving the person a blessing.

The response from the CDW was in the form of a letter (Protocol No. 930/08/L), dated November 22, 2008, signed by Father Anthony Ward, SM, Under-secretary of the Congregation.

The letter said that “this matter is presently under the attentive study of the Congregation”, so “for the present, this dicastery wishes to limit itself to the following observations”:

1. The liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and to all at the conclusion of the Mass, just a few moments subsequent to the distribution of Holy Communion.

 

 

 

2. Lay people, within the context of Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings. These blessings, rather, are the competence of the priest (cf. Ecclesia de Mysterio, Notitiae 34 (15 Aug. 1997), art. 6, § 2; Canon 1169, § 2; and Roman Ritual De Benedictionibus (1985), n. 18).

3. Furthermore, the laying on of a hand or hands — which has its own sacramental significance, inappropriate here — by those distributing Holy Communion, in substitution for its reception, is to be explicitly discouraged.

4. The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio n. 84, “forbids any pastor, for whatever reason to pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry”. To be feared is that any form of blessing in substitution for communion would give the impression that the divorced and remarried have been returned, in some sense, to the status of Catholics in good standing.

5. In a similar way, for others who are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in accord with the norm of law, the Church’s discipline has already made clear that they should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing. This would include non-Catholics and those envisaged in can. 915 (i.e., those under the penalty of excommunication or interdict, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin).

The Congregation’s clarification that extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (always laity), cannot give sacramental blessings within Mass is very helpful; and could be especially useful to pastors in parishes where inappropriate blessings during Communion have become common.

Although the CDW letter did not mention young children, we often see little children who have not yet received first Holy Communion accompanying their parents in the Communion line, with their arms crossed over their chests — both as a signal to the minister that they are not receiving Communion, and as an expression of the child’s reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. This reverent gesture of a young child is laudable and appropriate. But sometimes a minister (or extraordinary minister) interprets the child’s gesture as an implicit request for a special blessing as a sort of “substitute” for Communion. While the intention of blessing the child may be good, it should be made clear to all that the priest’s blessing at the conclusion of Mass includes everyone, and that there should not be separate blessings for any person during the Communion rite. END

The CDW calls even “the laying on of a hand or hands — which has its own sacramental significance, inappropriate — by those distributing Holy Communion, in substitution for its reception.” If the CDW considers inappropriate the laying on of hands by a priest on a person in the queue for Holy Communion in lieu of the reception of the Sacrament, and insists that non-Catholics “should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing“, would it not be an aberration for the priest to flippantly substitute the term Holy Communion with “prasad“?

 

The Inculturation of Christianity

Goa Plus, the supplementary to The Times of India and The Economic Times’ Goa edition of 11-17 March 2005 carried a write-up by Ms. Cordelia Francis titled
THE LOTUS AND THE CROSS – THE INCULTURATION OF CHRISTIANITY
with two colour photographs, one of an ‘Indian Rite’ squatting Mass being celebrated by the Pilar Fathers, and the other, a painting by Angelo da Fonseca showing ‘Mary in a sari’. Here is an extract from the article:

Today Catholic priests openly admit that they feel more comfortable saying the Indian Rite Mass sitting on bare floors in simple shawls singing devotional songs and dancing to praise the Lord.
For non-Christians who attend the Mass, rich Indian sweets are distributed like prasad is at temples.

 

Wijngaards is an ex-priest who married an ex-nun and is the founder of a movement that militates for the ordination of women. Here he writes about the prasada in the Indian Rite Mass with which he was familiar when he served as a priest in India:

Authentic Christian Worship in India. A Search and a Struggle

By J. N. M. Wijngaards, The Outlook, Volume 15, No. 5 (1977) pp. 134-138

http://www.womenpriests.org/wijngaards/worship.asp
EXTRACT

The celebrant distributes Holy Communion on a tray which contains both the ciborium with hosts, and the chalice. The communicants will take a host from the ciborium, dip it in the chalice and then receive Communion in this way. On the same tray, flowers have been arranged so that, if any member of the congregation does not wish to receive Communion, he can take a flower instead. This accords with the Indian sense of hospitality, according to which no guest may be sent away empty-handed.

 

The Paganized Catholic Church in India

By Victor J. F. Kulanday, 1985 EXTRACT:

Communion Rite. The celebrant says Prasada Mantra. In Hinduism the food and other offerings made to their God by the pujari (priest) is called Prasada. This offering is then passed on to the congregation. This is a blessed meal. Here by using Prasada Mantra Holy Communion is treated as a MEAL. Wine is called “immortal nectar”. All these terms are used in Hindu sacrifice and the sacredness of the Eucharist is never at any time brought to the attention of the Faithful.

 

An extract from “The Golden Sheaf – A collection of articles from The Laity monthly dealing with current ecclesiastical aberrations and written by Indian and international writers of repute” edited by Dr. A. Deva, published by Elsie Mathias for the [Cardinal Valerian] Gracias Memorial publications of the ALL INDIA LAITY CONGRESS, released at the Inauguration of the Fifth Annual Convention of the A.I.L.C., May 14, 1980, at Tiruchirapalli:

 

 

Why is the CBCI Liturgical Commission trying to make Holy Communion just a mere Prasada, laddoo or a banana* that is given in the temples? From the manner in which the “Indian Rite” Illicit Mass is performed with Sanskrit and OM, it is very clear that those who perform such Masses think of the Bread and Wine as mere meal, another Prasad . . . We Catholics believe that it not a mere meal but the body and blood of the Saviour.

 

*Yes… a prasada of bananas:

Pruning pride and prejudice: Dialogue in India

http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/globalpers/gp071603.htm
EXTRACT

National Catholic Reporter Online (USA), Global Perspective 1/16, July 16, 2003, by Francis Gonsalves, S.J.

Bananas in Liturgy

Our meeting in Bangalore showed how much we have progressed in religious dialogue, but it also showed how far we have to go. At the meeting, Jesuit theologian Michael Amaladoss stressed the need for a deeper understanding of dialogue and the openness to encounter the other(s) unconditionally. We all agreed. But something strange happened.

I was surprised when we had a Eucharist on the very first morning of the meeting. We invited all the participants for the Eucharist. We spoke about all of us being brothers and sisters of one united India. Then at the offertory, the participants offered up the bread and wine, together with a plate of bananas. At communion, the sacred species and the plate of bananas were passed around. Catholics, obviously, consumed the host and wine. But, the people of other faiths were made to feel part of the “eating bit” by giving each a banana!

 

Further below we have the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese spokesperson, a priest of the Divine word (SVD) order named Fr. Dominic Emmanuel, writing in the liberal National Catholic Reporter (NCR) described by conservative Catholics as “The Fishwrap”, apparently suggesting to the newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI that Hindus and people of other faiths not be denied Holy Communion a.k.a. “param
prasad“. It is pertinent to state here that the NCR roots for the ordination of women and is pro-choice, while Fr. Emmanuel in his Open Letter questions the Pontifical Document Dominus Iesus on the unicity of Jesus. It is not surprising therefore that the NCR and the priest both look forward, in the spirit of pluralism, to an Indian Church where Holy Communion a.k.a. “param prasad” is made available to all and sundry as is being accomplished even now through the seditious Catholic Ashrams movement. I visited a few ashrams in 2004 on the basis of which I filed a report:
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS http://ephesians-511.net/docs/CATHOLIC_ASHRAMS.doc from which I quote:

“The priests do not intone the words ‘The Body of Christ’ when distributing Holy Communion, which is received in the hand and by all present, no one abstaining

A profile of the visitors drawn to the Ashram during my week-long stay:

From Holland, Ben Baruch, a follower of theosophist J. Krishnamurti; Francisco Carocci from Italy: Ramana Maharshi of Tiruvannamalai is my guru. A female European disciple of Ramesh something [her guru in Breach Candy, Mumbai]: My second trip in four weeks. I had visited earlier with my husband for 3 weeks and had been to Tiruvannamalai.

Susan from Calgary, Canada: Whatever it is, I’m not here for the Christian element. Yanni, Australia and Tomas, Spain are ‘partners’, left for Jesuit Fr. Ama Samy’s Bodhi Zendo Ashram on the 17th. Thomas and Heidi too are ‘partners’, travelling together for spiritual experiences. They explain that they ‘do not believe in sin’. All these people participate at Mass every single day, and faithfully receive Holy Communion. Jim, a ‘Catholic’ from Ireland who has worked in Bombay and Calcutta in the ’50s is reading New Ager Fritjof Capra’s
The Tao of Physics and believes that permitting all at the Ashram to receive Holy Communion is the true humanism

Bro. Martin Sahajananda, the ashram guru, teaches, ‘there is only one way to God: it is to renounce or sacrifice one’s ego, the ignorant self, and find one’s True self… If we sacrifice our ignorant self, then human relationships become sacred… Sexual relationships are the expressions
of this sacrifice. Making love becomes the most intimate way of celebrating the Eucharist.’

Keep in mind that at Holy Mass in this Ashram (Shantivanam, Saccidananda Ashram), there is no restriction on anyone receiving Holy Communion: atheists, theosophists, Hindus, couples living together outside of marriage, seekers of every shade, most of whom don’t know whether they are coming or whether they are going…

Fritz Kortler who had ‘nothing to do with the Catholic Church and Christianity for a long time’
went to the mass celebrated by Fr. Bede and even took Holy Communion… ‘After 25 years I went to communion for the first time,’ I said to Fr. Bede. He answered with a friendly smile. For the most part I was busy with taking pictures during the mass…” END OF EXCERPT

This is exactly what is happening on a daily basis at Shantivanam Ashram. Not the “taking pictures” but the outrage of
sacrilegious Holy Communions
that are distributed to seekers of all faiths and of no faith. Let us end with a final excerpt from the ASHRAMS report:

“Angelika Monteux’s
Indian ‘adventure’ commenced with a stay ‘with Hindu families’. At Shantivanam, she notices ‘the cross that had the Sanskrit character OM at its centre’; ‘everybody chanted OM’. Then followed a mixture of Catholic liturgy, Hindu and Sanskrit mantras, readings from the Bible, Vedas and the Book of Tao. The priest and congregation performed rituals I had seen in temples before… At the end
Holy Communion
was shared out
[among all present], the host being a big chunk of chapatti. Could this be a Catholic Church? I was surprised and critical…’

(The theology for unrestricted reception of Holy Communion is already in place:)

 

 

 

Brother Martin showed very convincingly how Vedantic wisdom can be applied to understand and enliven the message of Christianity and how human beings in their search for God can only come to the experience of truth when they find liberation from all outer forms of religion, ritual or church tradition. When we realize that our true self is essentially one with God, we no longer need to look for outer ways to find him,’
Angelika Monteux says.

This could very well be a summary of the message of Shantivanam. The inculturation and syncretisation has made the liturgy indistinguishable from that which may be practised by any inter-faith group, the spiritual experiences of visitors have little if anything to do with genuine Christian prayer, Holy Communion unreservedly ‘shared out’ is the equivalent of the ‘prasadam‘ distributed in temples, and Bro. Martin does away with the seekers’ need for either the Catholic Church or any form of religious structures with his radical indoctrination of all visitors.” END OF EXCERPT

That is the scenario when Holy Communion is equated with “param prasad“.

The metamorphosis of Holy Communion into “prasad” is inextricably linked with the Hinduisation of the Indian Church about which so much has been written on this ministry’s web site.

 

A Hindu site in a bimonthly published by the Saiva Siddhanta Church
reporting on the Shantivanam ashram says that the “
“puja” is actually a daily Mass, complete with incense, arati lamps, flower offerings and prasadam.

http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1986/12/1986-12-03.shtml, http://voiceofdharma.org/books/ca/index.htm
Dec 1986

 

Now read the letter of Fr. Dominic Emmanuel to Pope Benedict XVI:

Open Letters to the New Pope: Building bridges to other religions doesn’t compromise Catholic identity

http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/globalpers/gp071205.htm

By Dominic Emmanuel, SVD, July 12, 2005

(Editor’s Note: Global Perspective is featuring Catholics from across the globe writing open letters to the new pope, Benedict XVI. Today, Dominic Emmanuel, SVD writes from New Delhi, India.)

Your Holiness Pope Benedict,

My sincere congratulations to you on your election! It came as something of a surprise although I believe the right decision was made. As a spokesperson for the church in Delhi, I have had several opportunities to speak for you and the church in the past months. Some viewers of a popular TV channel phoned to tell me that I defended Your Holiness well on a program that held that the church would become ultra-conservative under your leadership.

I know that you are not so naïve as not to imagine what apprehensions many people initially had with your election. I believe that here in India the fears of those who were particularly anxious are being gradually laid to rest.

In this Year of the Eucharist I would like to share a major problem with you that practically all of us in India often face, and not without some embarrassment.

Despite Christians being a minority in India, foreigners visiting our country are surprised to see that our churches are always full. It is pointed out to them that so are the Hindu temples, Sikh gurudwaras and mosques and that Indians, by and large, are a religious-minded people in search of the Divine. Here in Delhi, hundreds of people visit the cathedral regularly. Most of them are Hindus or Sikhs who spend time reverently in prayer and silence and many of them even light a candle before leaving the church.

Such scenes are moving and often ignite within me an evangelistic zeal to reach out to them. Many of these Hindus and Sikhs, who comprise nearly 82 percent of the Indian population, return to attend the Mass, often showing greater devotion than many of our own Catholic faithful. And yet before the distribution of the Holy Communion, the celebrant is heard to announce that peoples of other religions should not come forward to receive the Eucharist. I have seen the faces of those being excluded suddenly fall with sadness. Some of them become angry at this exclusivist stand of the church. Two years ago I met a man who vowed never to go to a Catholic church again because of this prohibition. What could I say to his question, “Do you think if I approached Jesus Christ in person, he would tell me to first go and fulfill the requirements of baptism and confession and then come back to meet him?”

I would like to know what is the best way to handle such a situation, especially since Hindus and Sikhs come from a tradition where, at the end of their worship in the temple or gurudwara, they are used to receiving a tiny bit of some sweet substance called prasad in Hindi. The word used in Hindi for Holy Communion is param prasad; param means “holy.”

Similarly, we in India (as also in other parts of Asia), born and brought up in a religious pluralistic environment and who were beginning to rejoice with the Second Vatican Council’s views in the document Nostra Aetate about non-Christian religions, are confused about certain contents of Dominus Jesus, published from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in 2000 when you were its prefect.

I am no theologian and may fail to put my arguments coherently, but our particular difficulty as Christians in India, while relating to 80 percent Hindus; 2 percent Buddhists; 2 percent Sikhs; 0.5 percent Jains and smaller numbers of Zoroastrians and others, is the stand taken in Dominus Jesus with regard to other religions.

Dominus Jesus states: “If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the church, have the fullness of the means of salvation.” (# 22) Such a position can surely be detrimental for dialogue with other religions to reach a common meeting ground, and gives Christians a superior place vis-à-vis their counterparts in society.

 

 

 

It is true that we should avoid any suggestion of syncretism or relativism that some Asian theologians seem to have strayed into, but the problem of living alongside people of other religions and sharing humanity is constantly problematic. It should be recognized that there are very many enlightened, God-fearing and morally upright individuals among people of other religions as well as Christianity.

The most difficult part comes when, unlike Christians who refuse to have anything to do with others’ religious beliefs, Hindus and Sikhs are ready to accept Christ as one of the incarnations of God, and willing to worship him and abide by his teaching without giving up faith in their traditional beliefs.

How can we continue to build bridges with them and share a common humanity so as to build a peaceful and harmonious society without compromising our own identity?

Wishing you all the best in the difficult task of leading the church in these times and promising to say a special prayer for you, I remain, Yours sincerely in the Divine Word

Dominic Emmanuel, SVD

See my compilation HOLY COMMUNION FOR NON-CATHOLICS

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/HOLY_COMMUNION_FOR_NON-CATHOLICS.doc

 

Discussion in the MotherofGod blog

Christ told them to eat whatever was set in front of them. Knowing that there was idol worshipping going on during this time, and sometimes food that was sacrificed to idols would be eaten as well, does this statement mean that if they were offered food that had been sacrificed to idols, they would have eaten it?

Susan

That first house which receives them in each town – that is the one appointed by God for them to stay in. They are NOT supposed to go from door to door looking for better food or lodging. They must eat what is set before them.
When I was a boy and young man and the universal rule in the Church was that you could not eat meat on Fridays – WE WERE STRONGLY INSTRUCTED THAT IF WE WERE A GUEST OF SOMEONE & THEY SET MEAT BEFORE US – WE WERE TO EAT WHAT WAS SET BEFORE US. To do otherwise would give scandal to the faith – that Catholics are ungrateful goodie-two-shoes. So we were taught to graciously and gladly eat what was set before us when a guest of someone. I’m quite certain the same rule applied for the Apostles and disciples.

Desmond Birch, moderator, September 30, 2010

 

Discussion in the Konkani Catholics (KC) blog, digest nos. 1586 of August 21, 2008, 1587 of August 22, 2008, 1588 of August 23, 2008, and 1589 of August 24, 2008:

Query on food offered to idols

What is the Catholic Church’s teaching on the food offered to idols? I often hear diverse opinion with some elders saying that food offered to idols can be consumed after praying for God’s protection over it since all food is created by God and hence can be consumed. There are others who say that consuming food offered to idols is not allowed as that implies participating in the worship of the idol. Is there an official church view on this?

Edwin Coutinho

 

Dear Edwin,
You mentioned two opposing opinions on the question of food offered to idols – one saying that it “can be consumed after praying for God’s protection over it since all food is created by God” and the other maintaining that “consuming food offered to idols is not allowed as that implies participating in the worship of the idol.”
The groups of people who maintain this opposing view will in all probability send you to two seemingly conflicting Scripture texts found in 1 Corinthians 8 and 1 Corinthians 10. In effect they are simply pitting St. Paul against St. Paul and that too by quoting the very same epistle!
This itself shows that the Scriptures are not a matter of one’s private interpretation. We Catholics are fortunate to have the Church to guide us on the correct interpretation of the Word of God as found in BOTH Sacred Scripture AND Sacred Tradition.
In fact, the question you raised is a very ancient one in the Church and was one of those which occasioned the calling of the very first Church Council at Jerusalem in 50 AD, a fine example of how even St. Paul looked up to Christ’s Church for an authentic interpretation of the Old Testament teachings.

But the underlying question was with regard to the observation of the ceremonial precepts of the Mosaic Law in the background of gentile converts in the Infant Church predominantly made up of Jewish Christians.
The Jerusalem Council decided “that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” (Acts 15:29)
In effect, it abolished the requirements of the Mosaic Law for all Christians especially for those coming from Gentile fold.
As for the decision to abstain from “what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled”, it must be understood as a temporary prohibition addressed to the province of Antioch for the sake of peace between Jewish and Gentile Christians in the community, i.e., not as an observance of the ceremonial laws which have been abolished by the death of Christ but merely to avoid scandal to the Jewish Christians.
And so the consistent teaching of the Church on the matter of food offered to the idols may be summed up as follows:

 

 

1. The Jewish ceremonial law has been abolished by the coming of Christ. Therefore it would be sinful for Christians to observe it.
2. The distinction between clean and unclean foods belongs to the ceremonial precepts and therefore does not hold.
3. The decision of the Jerusalem Council asking to abstain from “what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled” was only to remove all occasion of disagreement between Jewish and Gentile converts to Christ. Since the cause for this decision no longer prevails, the prohibition no longer holds.
Apart from this, the seemingly absolute prohibition in 1 Corinthians 10 may quite plausibly be interpreted to refer to participation in religious rites, not to the food itself which may be consumed with a good conscience provided all scandal is removed (1 Cor 8).

Austine Crasta, Owner-moderator, Mangalore

 

Dear Austine,
Thanks for the reply to Edwin’s query, but from a layman’s perspective, the reply was too technical. I wish you elaborated and explained in the layman’s language.

Lawrence Monteiro, Hyderabad

 

Dear Lawrence,
The original reply I wrote was very simple. But it was 3-4 times as long as what I finally posted.
I was interrupted by some guests while composing that mail and when I returned, the whole thing disappeared because of some computer problem. So I had to start from scratch. Hence the brevity in the second mail.
But then as always, you are most welcome to ask clarifications on anything you didn’t understand. Feel free to let me know which part you didn’t follow and I will try to do my best to make it as simple as possible.
Besides that, some homework will be necessary. I have just given the Scripture references. They will need to be looked up in the Bible because they are very much part of my reply. Without reading them, you won’t have a clue of what I’m speaking about. Those who read them might succeed in putting the story together with some effort after reading my last reply. It is always a joy to discover something with some effort isn’t it?
Austine

 

I believe in one God and there is no other god that exists! So whatever is offer to idols, I don’t care. Just thinking this food is God’s gift to me.

Francis D’Souza, Sharjah

 

Further to this discussion about the food we eat, Jesus explains it himself in Mark 7: 14-23.
In effect, it’s not what we eat that makes us unclean … it’s what eats us!

Schneider Fernandes

 

Thanks for your reply. I agree with Lawrence that the reply was slightly technical. But what I gather from your reply is that consuming the food offered to idols, or what is generally referred to as ‘prasad’ is not prohibited in the Catholic Church. Edwin

 

Dear Edwin,
The “Prasada” which you are referring to, is in Hinduism, a food offered to one of the gods and then consumed. It also has the connotation of generosity (both as a material and a mental condition) following its literal Sanskrit meaning “a gracious gift”.
Now coming to the teaching of St. Paul, he clearly mentions that an idol has no real existence and, as Francis mentioned, there is but one God and not many “gods” and “goddesses” which means they do not really exist except in the minds of their devotees.
Here’s the full text of 1 Corinthians 8: 4-13:
4 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”
5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth — as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords” —
6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through being hitherto accustomed to idols, eat food as really offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
9 Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
10 For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?

11 And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.
12 Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
13 Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall.

 


Here you can see the wisdom of St. Paul both in explaining true doctrine and in adapting his teaching to the situation of his flock. The question he is treating here is: May we eat food sacrificed to idols?
His reply, in effect is: An idol is nothing. Those images which are called idols are not living or possessed of a divine power as though they were composed of spirit and body. And so “what is offered in sacrifice to idols is not anything”. Nothing changes nothing. Therefore the food offered to idols is neither “sanctified” as the Gentiles who offered them thought, nor does it become “unclean” as the Jews would believe. So it is all right to eat – except in cases where there would be scandal.
Now why should there have been a scandal if eating food offered to idols is not wrong?
Because some had grown up with a belief that things offered were changed. It would be no use telling them the food (in this case the sacrificial meats) have not been changed. They may not explicitly say it but they will find it hard to digest the truth.
Notice the prudence of St. Paul’s advice. He does not say: “Tell them they are silly”, or “Say Paul says it is all right”. Instead he argues eloquently and at length on avoiding scandal: Christ died for this soul. Cannot you give up meat (i.e., the sacrificial meat offered to idols) on occasion to avoid ruining that soul? (1 Corinthians 10:27ff)
That gives us both the teaching as well as the practical advice on how to deal with the problem.
Apart from that one must remember never to act from a doubtful conscience (cf. Romans 14:23). If someone in his/her conscience finds it difficult to accept the teaching concerning food offered to idols, then he/she MUST refrain from eating it so that they are not acting from a doubtful conscience.

Austine Crasta

 

I guess the beauty of your second reply is that it actually solves the problem for both sets of people.
Those who feel it is fine to consume food offered to idols, they may do so without any guilt as the Word of God says so. Those who are a bit doubtful, they need not eat it as the Word of God says if you have doubt in your conscience, do not go ahead and consume. Either ways, it does neither good nor bad.

Edwin

 

Dear Edwin,
May I congratulate you here. Guess why?
YOU JUST DISCOVERED WHAT ST. PAUL MEANT WHEN HE SAID, “KNOWLEDGE PUFFS UP BUT LOVES BUILDS UP”.
This is how he started settling the question concerning “food offered to idols, 1 Corinthians 8:1-3:
“1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” “Knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.

2 If any one imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.
3 But if one loves God, one is known by him.”
And then he goes on to share his knowledge WITH CHARITY so that those “knowledgeable” Christians in the Corinthian community who actually boasted on knowing the truth about food offered to idols and who went about mocking the “weaker” Christians who thought such food to be defiled, might be humbled and taught to subject their knowledge to the law of love out of respect for the conscience of the “weaker” Christians for whom too Christ died.
In this Pauline year as we meditate on the life and teachings of this great Apostle may we too come to share in the knowledge and love of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ more fully to the point of being transformed into His likeness.
Austine

 

Thanks dear Austin for the clarification regarding consuming of food offered to idols.
Actually, the passage of St. Paul you have quoted is very ambiguous and is very difficult for the layman/woman to follow and it appears that the final decision is left to the person who is in the actual situation of consuming food offered to idols.
I remember back in Mumbai when in the local trains, prayers and bhajans would be offered and a whole lot of people would offer prasad to every fellow traveller. Probably in most cases there is no idol present in the trains but I would accept the prasad handed over to me and clutch it in my palms and if it is substantial would pass it on to a beggar outside the train or if it was too small in quantity just let the thing slip off my hands rather than let it slip into my mouth.
I would say the Bible is quite vehement in proscribing the food offered to idols and it would be safe not to eat it. There could be cases where one has to actually visit a Ganapati pandal and some food could be offered to you, maybe laddus which one may not be in a position not to consume. In such situations, not to offend anyone it would be all right to consume the food just satisfying oneself that it is just some food meant to be eaten without attaching any religious significance to the food. But if it is in any way possible not to consume such food stating religious prohibition it should be done, as I have done on some occasions.
Alwyn M. D’Sa, Goa

 

Dear Alwyn,
You said: “I would say the Bible is quite vehement in proscribing the food offered to idols and it would be safe not to eat it.”
I do not know which passage(s) of the Bible you are referring to when you say that. I have quoted three. None of them do.
Again when you say that “it would be safe not to eat it” you are somehow implying that the food becomes changed/defiled by the power of the deity/idol. This is the very notion that St. Paul is countering here.
Now let’s think it out…

 

 

We know that St. Paul wanted to somehow stop the Corinthians from running after food offered to idols. So WHY DIDN’T HE DIRECTLY FORBID THEM FROM EATING IT? Wouldn’t that have solved the matter straight away?
NO! It would not.
Instead it would somehow lead his hearers to suspect that this prohibition is because the food must have some power to do harm. And because of this suspicion, most of the new Christian converts especially from among the Greeks who worshipped many idols/gods, would still secretly entertain in their hearts the belief in the existence of these many gods and harbour fear in their hearts of the power of idols to do them harm.
Any Priest who has worked in the missions among newly-baptized Christians will be able to tell you what a similar situation they face among the new converts whose deep seated convictions of their former religion show in their strong tendency to apostasize, i.e., to abandon the Christian faith and revert back to their former religion, beliefs and practices.
That is the situation St. Paul the missionary ‘par excellence’ is masterfully dealing with over here. That’s why he gently but firmly demolishes the argument of the existence or power of any idols/gods.
Now let us imagine St. Paul took it to the other extreme. He would have just stopped at saying that such food cannot harm you.
The result?
The so called “knowledgeable” Christians among the Corinthians who were well aware of our Blessed Lord’s teaching that it is not which goes into the mouth which defiles a man… (Matthew 15:11); these would have naturally run after such food as indeed we see them doing to the detriment of the faith of the community.
In order to stop them from doing this St. Paul puts forward a primary reason: their actions are placing a stumbling block in the way of their weaker brethren. In other words, it is scandalizing the “little ones” for whom Christ died.
When he returns to it in chapter 10 he also tries to show them how sharing at the table [whether of Christ or of the false gods] implies a kind of a communion and so urges them all the more to keep away.
This he does so that:
1) the conscience of the weaker Christians is not offended, and
2) all danger of falling into idolatry or defecting from the faith is removed.
To conclude this discussion what can we say? Is it the food itself, which is offered to idols, that does any harm? No. It can do neither harm nor good. Instead as St. Augustine says,
“If the uncleanness were in the nature of sacrificial flesh (i.e, if the food itself became unsafe), it would necessarily pollute (i.e., cause harm) even when eaten in ignorance. But the reason for not partaking knowingly is not in the nature of the food, but, for conscience sake.”

Austine Crasta

 

Scripture and The Church teachings are clear – all that is placed before us, when eaten with thanksgiving, to the provider (God) is good for us. Since Idols are nothing, food offered to them is not really offered food, as Austine has clearly explained in this chain of correspondence. However, as Scripture says, some have a weak conscience, and things which are not sin can cause scandal, to avoid this scandal, if one has any misgiving, one must not eat, and also one should not eat in the presence of someone who may be swayed into wrong by your eating.
I would like to bring to the attention here of a bigger sin that we Catholics commit, the sin of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in an unworthy manner. (1 Corinthians 11:23-29)
Ah! Is anyone out there saying I am judging? Well judge for yourself, how often do we find Catholics attend Mass, who have not attended an obligatory Mass, and not confessed the reason for non attendance queue up to receive communion. Isn’t missing an Obligatory Mass a mortal s? If it is, are you then worthy of receiving communion? If not, and you still queue up aren’t you receiving it unworthily. You would then do well to refrain from receiving the Body of Christ.
Salvador Fernandes,
Dubai/Sharjah, UAE

 

Dear Alwyn
I agree with Austin Crasta who quoted from scripture about the clear directives of not eating meat offered to idols which was an appeasement to their man-made God.
The Hindu Gods and the prasadam are not addressed per se in the gospels. Jesus was using the imagery of His times. The pagans had some corrupt practices which involved sacrifice to fertility cults. These were an abomination to the Lord and so he proscribed them as forbidden.
I am no expert with regard to Indology. All I can say is I appreciate your courage and your faith. If you do not want to eat the sweets offered to a Hindu God politely accept and dispose the same by giving it out to a beggar but telling the host that you will carry these sweets to your home.
We need to respect all religions and also not offend the sensibilities of people of other faiths.

Fr. Vernon Vaz

 

From:
SB-F, a member of KC
To:
prabhu
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2008 3:00 PM Subject: Re: PRASADA

I sometimes I wonder how on earth such things get posted on KC.

 

My correspondence with two former members of Konkani Catholics, one of who was a moderator:

From:
prabhu
To:
Richard Mascarenhas; Cc:
Valerian D’Almeida Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 11:30 AM

Subject: AUSTINE/ PRASADA

 

 

Dear Richie and Vallie,

It seems to me that Austine has no problem with Catholics consuming “prasad”. Can you study it and confirm that it is so, before we question him about his teaching?

From:
Richard Mascarenhas
To:
prabhu
Cc:
Valerian D’Almeida
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 11:21 PM

Subject: AUSTINE/ PRASADA

Dear Mike,

As regards the reply given by Austine on “Food offered to Idols”, well Austin does say that there is no prohibition as per the Bible as long as it does not become a scandal.  In other words, if one’s conscience is clear, he can eat of the food.  I read 1 Corinthians 8 a couple of times and it says just the same as Austine interprets.  But if you read carefully verses 12 and 13, I am of the opinion it does prohibit from partaking of such food. 

By Austine’s understanding of the Chapter, it can also be implied then, that there is no such thing as idol worship and therefore if one without causing scandal lights diyas (oil lamps) in front of the idol as one of our Bishops (now a Cardinal) did, it can be accepted as nothing unusual for a Christian, and we can go further and apply that rule to God knows what else

I leave this to you to understand further and enlighten me of how Austine can be counteracted in this false talk of his. I am prompted to write to KC on my thoughts but that will take quite some time to put my thoughts in words, I fail miserably in the art of writing.

Richard Mascarenhas, Oman

From:
prabhu
To:

Richard Mascarenhas
Cc:
Valerian D’Almeida
Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 9:14 AM

Subject: AUSTINE/ PRASADA

Dear Richie,

Early this morning you wrote to Vallie, “In one the mail a few days back on KC, he literally approves eating food offered to idols. Have you read it?

On the 25th, you wrote to me, “As regards the reply given by Austine on ‘Food offered to Idols’ well Austin does say that there is no prohibition as per the Bible as long as it does not become a scandal.  In other words, if one’s conscience is clear, he can eat of the food.  I read 1 Cor 8 a couple of times and it says just the same as Austine interprets.  But if you read carefully verses 12 and 13, I am of the opinion it does prohibit from partaking of such food. 

By Austine’s understanding of the Chapter, it can also be implied then, that there is no such thing as Idol worship and therefore if one without causing scandal light diyas in front of the idol as one of our Bishop did, it can be accepted as nothing unusual as a Christian, and we can go further and apply that rule to the NCB and God knows what else. I leave this to you to understand further and enlighten me of how Austine can be counteracted of this false talk of his. I am prompted to write to KC on my thoughts but that will take quite some time to put my thoughts in words, I fail miserably in the art of writing.

I am awaiting Vallie’s response to Austine’s interpretation. It seems that he is going horribly wrong in his teaching! Unbelievable. I think that he has removed all “opposition” to the extent that no one will now challenge him, or even admonish or correct him. Maybe he has everyone convinced that whatever he says has gotta be right.

From:
Valerian D’Almeida

To:
Richard Mascarenhas
Cc:
michaelprabhu@vsnl.net

Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 10:54 AM Subject: Re: AUSTINE/ PRASADA

This is again a fight between the “strong conscience” and “weak conscience”. I know a case of a priest, who took the school children to North India for a tour and visited temples and encouraged the Catholic children to take prasada along with the Hindus and he also took it. When he came back to his home town and was ready to go to the altar, he could not move because he was about to make “number 2”. So he said my stomach is upset and another priest offered the mass. This happened till he confessed for the sin he committed and there after he could offer the mass.
This is what St. Paul said, that I cannot scandalise others who are weaker than me. I would like to draw your attention to Romans 3:23 “everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence”. All of us are sinners, at one point of the day or the other, we sin and therefore, the next verse 24 says “but by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free”. This is what happened to the priest and to all who do the same. The priest committed sin and he also made the little children to sin, because the scripture is true. Afterwards, when he came to the sacrament of reconciliation, he was washed by the blood of Jesus and sanctified (v. 24). Therefore, St. Paul says categorically that eating food offered to idols is sin. If Austin says, it is not a sin, he is answerable. He is doing like the priest. Now, what I feel is that unless he has an encounter, he may not change.

Valerian D’Almeida, Abu Dhabi

 

Just ten days after the “prasada” debate in Konkani Catholics, a senior SVD priest posts this in Digest number 1602 of September 3, 2008 (to me it was very clear that it was against the “prasada” debate; the priest used the opportunity of the season for the Ganesh Chaturthi festival to warn the Catholic KC readers of the spiritual dangers involved in consorting with idols and the food offered to them):

A Caution to All Catholic Parents!!

 

 

 

Dear members of KC,
everywhere we will see Ganesh pandals and our children will be attracted to visit them because there will be loud music and other social entertainment items in these pandals.
This is how the devil is trying to attract our children today to practice the Hindu religion. The global economy has given immense amount of free money to these pandalwalas who take subscription from the neighbourhood to organise these mega events where our Catholic children become a prey to this evil attraction. Some of you have expressed your opinions where the prasad is offered to the people around as if it is the most natural way to share the joy of the people.
As believers who have opted to follow the one God, these attractions become not tenable. We have to educate our children. In the old days we were instructed by our parents and the religious teachers, catechism teachers what was proper and what was not proper to do. Now we have hardly any catechism left. Our children become so involved in secular studies that they have hardly any time to study the tenets of Christianity. In these times we parents have to instruct our children from the evil effects that can come unknowingly into our lives. The values so freely proffered in these public demonstrations of religious fervour become a means of propaganda of the Hindu religious sentiments which unknowingly our children may imbibe. So parent be on your guard and instruct your children in time.
Fr. Juze Vaz, Indore

Fr. Joseph Vaz’s apprehensions are well founded. Read the letter of Kranti Farias on page 21.

In April 2008 Fr. Vaz had written in KC:

It is not at all wise to be disrespectful to the blessed Eucharist and distribute it as if it is only an ordinary prasadam.

 

From:
prabhu
To:
joseph vas; juzevas@yahoo.com
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2008 11:45 PM Subject: PRASADA

Dear Fr Juze, I thank you for your timely posting and cautions. Am I able to read between the lines?

Some of us do not agree with the well-argued interpretations of Austine, which by extension can make us accept many other evils including the heretical Hinduised St. Pauls New Community Bible (since Hindu deities do not really exist after all!!!!!!!!!). I know many people in healing and deliverance ministry who will refute Austine on the basis of the same Scriptures he used.

From:
juzevas@yahoo.com To:
prabhu
Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2008 12:07 AM Subject: Re: PRASADA

Dear Mike, Happy to know you corroborate with me on this issue.

I know often we become party to so many evils in the media too. If we see how the TV and the media bombards the mind and the conscience of the Christian to opt for methods which are totally against faith and morals.

Our task is very difficult. I think people have taken note of the questions raised on the NCB issue.

All the best, yours ever in the Divine Word,

Fr. Joseph Vas SVD

 

From:
derrickdcosta@yahoo.com
To:
michaelprabhu@vsnl.net
Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2008 1:53 PM

Subject: Sorry for my silence on the PRASADA issue

Dear Michael

Terribly sorry for my silence. To save energy I am picking battles, nowadays.
I am attaching a story from ecclesiastical history making reference to idolatry from the book The Apostles Creed by Michael Müller, CSSR. This may be useful if the “nothing” issue crops up.
St. Gregory Thaumaturgus was once on his way to Neocæsarea, a city of Asia Minor. Being overtaken by a storm, he was obliged to take shelter with his travelling companions in a pagan temple, famous in that country, because the demon gave oracles therein. His first care was to pray to God, invoke our Lord Jesus Christ, and make the sign of the cross several times, to purify the air polluted by the smoke of pagan sacrifice. They spent the night quietly, and set out the next morning very early. Meanwhile the sacrificer of the temple came to perform his sacrilegious rites; but in vain did he call upon his gods: the demons only appeared to tell him that they were going to depart from that temple, and had no longer any power there, because of what had taken place over-night.
Furious at this result, the pagan priest hastened after St. Gregory, and threatened to denounce him to the magistrates for having penetrated into the temple and disturbed its ceremonies. The holy bishop heard him very calmly, and merely answered: “Friend, the demon whom you serve is so weak and powerless, that I have only to say one word to make him either depart from a place or return to it again.” “If that be so,” said the sacrificer, “make him return to the temple.” St. Gregory tore a small scrap from his book, and wrote on it these few words: “Gregory to Satan: Enter!” He gave this note to the priest, who placed it on the altar of the temple, and again commenced sacrifices: the demons appeared as usual. The priest was so struck by this prodigy, which manifested the weakness of his gods that he went again in search of St. Gregory and became a Christian. (Schmid et Belet, Cat. Hist., I, 55.)

Derrick D’Costa, Bahrain

From:
prabhu
To:
juzevas@yahoo.com
and others
Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2008 6:39 PM Subject: PRASADA

Dear Father Juze and all,

Thank you for your confirmation of the erroneous teaching/interpretation by Austine in KC on the subject of prasada.

It happens that both Fr. Joseph Vas SVD and Derrick D’Costa are, like Valerian D’Almeida and Richard Mascarenhas were till they quit the group, long-time senior members of the Konkani Catholics group; all four of them disagreed with the owner-moderator Austine Crasta on his interpretation of the verses in Corinthians as well as his opinion that there was no danger to Catholics if they accepted and consumed “prasada“.

 

 

 

 

Cannot Fr. McNamara’s advice to Catholics on abstinence (to be courageous, visible, willing to testify and to defend one’s faith) be applied also to the dilemma of partaking of “food offered to idols” by Catholics?

Holy Water, Abstinence and Mimes

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/holy-water-abstinence-and-mimes
EXTRACT
Rome, February 24, 2009 (Zenit.org)

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
As Lent approaches I wish to deal with some questions which we have addressed in previous years but which are continually raised.
A priest reader from Oklahoma asked: “Is it a grave matter to eat meat, knowingly and without necessity, on a Friday in Lent?”
This is more related to moral theology than liturgy. There are sins in which the matter may be grave or not grave according to other circumstances. For example, stealing even a small sum would be grave matter if the thief knows the victim to be desperately poor and needy. It would not necessarily be grave matter, although still a sin, if it represented a slight loss.
Considering this, I would say that the act of eating meat on a Friday of Lent could be grave or venial according to other circumstances. If this act is carried out knowingly, without necessity in such a way that the Church’s laws are openly despised and denigrated, then it would be grave matter and should be confessed as such.
However, there may be many circumstances that could mitigate the culpability. For example, in a religiously pluralistic society a Catholic could easily find himself invited to a gathering where refusing what was offered would deeply offend the host. Strictly speaking, he is knowingly and unnecessarily eating meat on a day of abstinence but finds himself in a social conundrum that would make his fault less grave. Not that he is off the hook completely.
A Catholic should foresee these situations and avoid them whenever possible. He should also be willing to testify and defend his faith. After all, precisely because we have a pluralistic society nobody ridicules Buddhists for vegetarianism nor Jews and Muslims for abstaining from pork. Therefore Catholics should be courageous and visible in observing our somewhat miniscule rules on the days the Church asks us to make a sacrifice.

 

In 2005, I had written to Fr. McNamara on the “prasada” problem but the liturgist did not give me an answer:

From: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net To: edward@zenit.org Sent: Monday, June 27, 2005 9:06 PM Subject: LITURGY

During the distribution of Holy Communion at major feasts like Easter and Christmas which are attended by non-Catholics and non-Christians, some priests have been distributing ‘prasad’ to them in lieu of Holy Communion. Separate queues are formed for this purpose. (Prasad or prasadam are sweetmeats offered in Hindu temples to deities and then distributed to devotees.) Is this permissible or is it an abuse?

From:
“edward” <
edward@zenit.org> To:
“prabhu” <michaelprabhu@vsnl.net> Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2005 4:03 AM

Subject: Re: LITURGY

Dear Michael Prabhu,
Fr McNamara receives hundreds of e-mails and cannot, unfortunately, answer all of them. He tries to give answers that anticipate a range of questions, however. Thanks for your readership,

Eddy Fifer ZENIT

 

Discussion in Konkani Catholics which once again triggers the
prasada” debate:

Posted by
Austine Crasta, moderator, January 4, 2011

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/23591

FROM THE CIRCULAR OF THE BISHOP OF MANGALORE, January 2011:
“The formation of Youth is of very great importance. You know very well that our Youth are going astray in faith life. This affects the personal life too. At very young age our boys and girls are getting employed and are living out of home who are invariably living among peer groups.
Many of our educated boys and girls get into friendship with non Christian companions and enter into marriage even without any regard to religion. This situation brings about lot of pain to the parents and to us too.
Of late many Youths suffer from mental imbalances due to pressure of work and tension since religious sentiments are not given proper inputs and the Youth are not able to withstand bad influences.
The number of marriage cases of disparity of cult and mixed marriages and the applications for annulments and civil divorce are on an increase.
We are really surprised when our boys and girls just don’t mind marrying in the temple or before the civil registrar without
any regard to church marriages. Due to the pressure of the parents they agree to have the marriage in the church just to please them but invariably go to the temple to temple marriage to please the spouse. This shows that we are failing in guiding the Youth right from their tender age.
This could be due to lack of priorities in our Parish Pastoral ministry.
The Parish Pastoral councils are busy with erecting new buildings, raising funds and making use of the associations to amass fund. Today we realize that Youth ministry in the parish is more important than any of our social activities.”

(Edited for grammar, punctuation and clarity)

 

 

 

Better late then never. What is mentioned in the circular is right, and we need to act now. The foundations are disturbed, and the culture of “Anything chalta hai” is creeping in. Religion is treated as outdated, modernism is creeping in.
What people are forgetting is that God is the creator and has set certain rules (an instruction manual) for us to follow. We keep modifying the manuals, e.g. If you modify the tyres of a car without checking with the manufacturer, your car is
bound to meet with accident.
The other thing is this wrong interpretation of Ecumenism. An impression is created that all roads lead to heaven, that religions are man-made and that all religions lead to one God… We have to reverse all these thoughts. If you follow Catholicism thoroughly, it is much more modern and fun in the long run, than what the world offers.
Joseph L R Vaz, Goa http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/23594

 

I met a priest at my friends place. In our conversation regarding mixed marriages the priest said its fine for the Catholic party to attend the ceremony in a temple after getting married in the church just to please the other party. He said the Catholic party should understand that the rituals in the temple are a joke and won’t affect our faith. My conscience was deeply disturbed as I felt participating in any rituals of the pagans was against the First Commandment of God which says “You shall not carve idols for yourself in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them.” Exodus 20:4-5, New American Bible.

Joannes Rodrigues, Mangalore
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/23595

 

I totally agree with you, Joannes. When the Lord commanded us not to indulge in pagan worship, why should we? Why is the Catholic Church so lax about this? Sometimes I really feel the believers are much better. They just refuse to indulge in such things. Why is our Catholic Church trying to make others happy instead of obeying what Christ wants us to do? Norisha Fernandes-D’Souza, Mumbai
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/23596

 

Dear Joannes and Norisha, Presence and participation (“indulge”) need not always be the same. And the “believers” do not always get this difference. But the point that was completely missed here was this:
In the case of a Mixed Marriage involving a Catholic and non-Christian, it is FORBIDDEN BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (Canon 1129) to have any duplicate religious ceremony, such as marriage in the temple, EITHER BEFORE OR AFTER the canonical celebration of marriage.
In other words, any duplicate religious marriage ceremony, whether performed in the temple, house, hall, or a club OR even one performed together by the Catholic and non-Catholic officiant is FORBIDDEN BY CANON LAW and should not be encouraged by the presence of friends and relatives!

From the number of such ceremonies that I see happening around me, I do not know whether those entering into mixed marriages with the necessary dispensation, are aware of this. If they are, they ought to show the same courage in standing up for their faith (the dangers of defecting from which, they promised to remove, at the time of seeking a dispensation) as they did when resisting family and society pressure in most cases.

Austine Crasta, moderator,
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/23597

 

Dear Austine, As you rightly “In the case of a Mixed Marriage involving a Catholic and non-Christian, it is FORBIDDEN BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (c. 1129) to have any duplicate religious ceremony, such as marriage in the temple, EITHER BEFORE OR AFTER the canonical celebration of marriage.” Then why do we have priests saying that you can (like what Joannes mentioned)?
Not only this, the Bible says that you should not eat anything offered to IDOLS… but once I heard in a sermon where priest said you can eat it but don’t take [consider] it as PRASAD.
When you know it has been offered [to Hindu gods] why should we eat it and please our friends? It’s been 10 years that I have stopped accepting prasad from any of my friends. They have felt bad and refused to talk to me but I did not care. Later on, they themselves understood that it was useless trying to coax me to have their prasad. But when I heard the priest say this I was totally stumped. I seriously fail to understand this.

Norisha Fernandes-D’Souza, Mumbai,
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/23598

 

Dear Norisha, India is a multicultural country, 98% of people are non-Christians and they cannot be ignored. Pagan worshippers too are God’s subjects. Christ has told to love one another as he loved us; this means we have to love non-Catholics too. There are many instances of non-Christians coming to church and many examples of successful mixed marriages. It’s only left to the individual Catholic to preserve our spiritual culture, and our church gives us that freedom. That’s why I love my church and choose to be a part of it.

Brian Pinto http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/23599


Dear Brian,

Accepted that 98% people are non-Christians, and cannot be ignored. I am not asking you to ignore them but you can definitely tell them that you ain’t joining them in their worship. Do we allow them to have our Holy Bread and Wine? NO. Then why do they ask us to have theirs and why does the Church ask its people to take it and not hurt their feelings? Will this not hurt our Lord that we are joining those people in their false beliefs?

Norisha Fernandes-D’Souza, Mumbai,
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/23600

 

 

Dear Norisha, You asked: “Then why do we have priests saying that you can?”
I do not know how many priests would actually say what Joannes reported but if they do, I would say, it is largely because of a defective formation.
Now, “formation” depends BOTH on the formator and the formee. A bad seminary formation can result in candidates picking up a bad theology. At the same time even a 100% sound/orthodox seminary formation cannot always guarantee you a completely orthodox priest without his own co-operation.
Isn’t this true also of our families which are like formation houses for our children?
Bad families can certainly cause a lot of negative influences on their children although the grace of God can raise a Saint even in such circumstances. Whereas even in good families, not all children may really pick up the good qualities of their parents. The remark “He is so unlike his father” can be used both ways! So it is no surprise that there are priests who many not know their stuff right.
Again, I’M NOT SAYING that they are BAD PRIESTS. What I’m saying is that they are BAD SCHOLARS.
That is why the present Pope, who understands the situation very well, had to make an impassioned appeal: “I can only plead with you: Be committed to your studies!” (Benedict XVI, Letter to Seminarians, 18 October 2010)
You said: “Not only this, the Bible says that you should not eat anything offered to IDOLS.”
You seem to be implying an absolute prohibition. HOW SURE ARE YOU OF THIS?
I’ve gone over that topic (which is different from the one we are discussing) in quite some detail in the group with all the related texts found in both Acts and Corinthians. It might help you to go through those mails if you missed them.
The operative words here are “scandal” / “conscience” / “charity”. And I can assure you that neither the teaching nor the tradition of the Church have EVER viewed this as an absolute prohibition. St Paul himself is quite clear on that and will not lend himself to any fundamentalist interpretation on this point.

Austine Crasta, moderator,
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/23601

 

Dear Norisha, A five year old son of my Hindu friend would probably not be thinking of all this when offering a small part of his prasad, what do I do? Refuse it? Probably he might grow up with a wrong impression about the whole Christian community, and indulge in some anti-Christian stuff which we all are witnessing in our country. We have the right to protect our religious identity but doing this at the cost of making someone unhappy would be wrong. It would only hurt the image of us Christians.

Brian Pinto http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/23602

 

Dear Brian and Norisha, Happy or unhappy, there can be no compromises in matters of faith and morals which the Catholic Church puts forward with certainty. Yet in all things, charity must be the all pervading norm.
Therefore, in closing this part of the discussion in order to return to the original topic of mixed marriages, I leave you with the words of Blessed John XXIII from his encyclical ‘Ad Petri Cathedram’ (71-73) which, though spoken in another context, highlight a good concluding principle to be borne in mind in every discussion:
“The Catholic Church, of course, leaves many questions open to the discussion of theologians. She does this to the extent that matters are not absolutely certain. Far from jeopardizing the Church’s unity, controversies, as a noted English author, John Henry Cardinal Newman, has remarked, can actually pave the way for its attainment. For discussion can lead to fuller and deeper understanding of religious truths; when one idea strikes against another, there may be a spark. But the common saying, expressed in various ways and attributed to various authors, must be recalled with approval: IN ESSENTIALS, UNITY; IN DOUBTFUL MATTERS, LIBERTY; IN ALL THINGS, CHARITY.”

Austine Crasta, moderator
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/23603

 

Dear All, So far I have been following this link and it seems that we are putting many issues together.
As far as mixed marriages are concerned, the Church has always wanted to protect the faithful from lapsing because of a marriage with someone from a different denomination, and more so from a different religion (disparity of cult).
This goes back to St. Paul who when addressing the Corinthians speaks of “do not harness yourselves in an uneven yoke with unbelievers. The temple of God has no common ground with idols” (2 Corinthians 6:16).
Note that when Paul speaks of “temple” in Corinthians, he is referring to the baptised. This is not to be confused with what Paul says when speaking of the spouse of the believer, despite being an unbeliever would be sanctified through the believer (this was in case of some already married who became Christian).
However, the Church did allow marriages with other religions albeit with many conditions and reservations- this can be traced back to the prohibition in the Old Testament for the Jews from marrying the gentiles.
During Vatican Council II, the CDF’s instruction on mixed marriages is very clear about the Church’s stand with regards mixed marriages.
In his Apostolic Letter on mixed marriages Pope Paul VI speaks of the possibility of dispensation “for a just cause” when the Catholic party is willing to remove dangers of falling away from the faith and do all in his/her power to have all the children baptised and brought up in the Catholic Church. The ways of ensuring this was left to Bishops’ conferences. There is also an exhortation to the Bishops and parish priests to see that spiritual assistance is not lacking for the Catholic party.
The emphasis of the Church has been always to protect the faith of the baptised and the fact that to get married with a non-Catholic one needs a dispensation should already set alarm bells ringing, i.e., there is a serious problem here.

 

 


Sometimes I think that there is a tendency to mix love with sentiments and this gives rise to all the problems. Believe me, by the grace of God I have been happily ordained and serving as a priest for the last six years and the problem of many priests is that they mix the two up and think that they are “loving” their parishioners by being lenient. As a matter of fact the present Pope has been stressing on the fact that one cannot love without being in the truth.
As Austine was saying the problem with the clergy is not faith but knowledge of the Church’s teachings. This was also what St. Theresa of Avila said, “I prefer a priest who lacks humility to one who is humble but ignorant.”

Fr Caesar Rego, Taiwan,
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/23604

 

That was Konkani Catholics in January of 2011.

Do you remember reading the August 2008 “prasada” debate in Konkani Catholics earlier in this report?

Funny thing is the very same issue came up on the forum (thrice in three years!) just ten months earlier:

From:
Virginia Pereira
To:
KonkaniCatholics@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 2:36 PM

Subject: Need teaching on prasad offered to idols

I need some teaching on prasad offered to idols.

Virginia Pereira

 

Dear Virginia
A Catholic would break the First Commandment if he/she does such a thing.

Nestor Carvalho

 

I hope I am not jumping the gun, because every time a question is asked, I seem to be one person, who is the quickest to answer, in fact, I did not see any answers to Edwin’s questions, and I was hoping that I would learn more, because like I admitted, I am not a master in Theology. I have a zeal for the Word of God, but I realise that even I may give wrong interpretations, and therefore, would love to be corrected if what I have written is not in accordance with the Magisterium of the Church because Scripture warns us to be careful, about our knowledge (1 Corinthians 8).

To answer Virginia’s question, I wish she was more specific, because this is an open ended question – teaching on prasad offered to idols.
To quote Scripture: Acts 15:28, For it hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us to lay no further burden upon you than these necessary things: 15:29. That you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication: from which things keeping yourselves, you shall do well. Fare ye well.

(From blood, and from things strangled… The use of these things, though of their own nature indifferent, was here prohibited, to bring the Jews more easily to admit of the society of the Gentiles; and to exercise the latter in obedience. But this prohibition was but temporary, and has long since ceased to oblige; more especially in the western churches.)
And Acts 21:25. But, as touching the Gentiles that believe, we have written, decreeing that they should only refrain themselves from that which has been offered to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication.
Revelations 2:14 & 2:20 also condemns ‘food offered to idols’.
However Scripture plainly tells us this restriction was put upon the Jews who were becoming Christians, because the Jews followed the same rule along with the Covenant of being circumcised. Now circumcision was deemed not necessary, but the Apostles thought (inspired by The Holy Spirit) that these restrictions should be placed.
Delving deeper, you will find that Scripture states Romans 14:14. I know, and am confident in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 14:15. For if, because of thy meat, thy brother be grieved, thou walkest not now according to charity. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
St. Paul in teaching to the Gentiles quotes thus:
1 Corinthians 8:1. Now concerning those things that are sacrificed to idols: we know we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up: but charity edifieth. (Knowledge puffeth up, etc… Knowledge, without charity and humility, serveth only to puff persons up. ) 8:2. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he hath not yet known as he ought to know. 8:3. But if any man love God, the same is known by him. 8:4. But as for the meats that are sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world and that there is no God but one. 8:5. For although there be that are called gods, either in heaven or on earth (for there be gods many and lords many): Gods many, etc… Reputed for such among the heathens.
8:6. Yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. 8:7. But there is not knowledge in every one. For some until this present, with conscience of the idol, eat as a thing sacrificed to an idol: and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8:8. But meat doth not commend us to God. For neither, if we eat, shall we have the more: nor, if we eat not, shall we have the less. 8:9. But take heed lest perhaps this your liberty become a stumbling block to the weak. 8:10. For if a man see him that hath knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not his conscience, being weak, be emboldened to eat those things which are sacrificed to idols? 8:11. And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ hath died? 8:12. Now when you sin thus against the brethren and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 8:13. Wherefore, if meat scandalize my brother, I will never eat flesh, lest I should scandalize my brother. If meat scandalize… That is, if my eating cause my brother to sin.
So obviously, if your eating causes another person to sin, it is better to refrain from eating.

 

 


So we have to be careful, that by our eating of the food a wrong message is not passed to a non-Christian, that it is acceptable for a Christian to eat food that is offered to an idol; to a Christian, scandalising him that another Christian is eating of food which according to him is not to be eaten
This also reminds me of a very famous dialogue in one of our Indian movies Deewar where Amitabh (an atheist) is offered prasad (food from an idol) by his mother. When Amitabh refuses to accept it, Shash (his brother in the movie) tells him, Mother is giving to you saying it is ‘prasad’; you eat it thinking of it as a ‘sweet’.

Salvador Fernandes,
Dubai/Sharjah – UAE

Poison is poison no matter what reassuring label you may put on it; “prasad” remains “prasad” -Michael


Food offered to idols cannot be taken by Catholics; taking it will say that the person shares the belief of that religious tradition, it is doubting the very concept of our God.
Fr. Tom Mangattuthazhe
, Bishop’s House, Diphu–782460, Karbi Anglong (Dt.) Assam

 

We are in a sad state that most of the Catholics are unaware that we cannot eat/accept food offered to idols or “prasada”. May be our Catechism has failed to communicate this properly backed up by Scripture.
During Hindu festivals, the families around us send us sweets – we may think that as we share Christmas sweets (kuswar) with them, they share with us sweets on different occasions – may be for Diwali, Dusserah, Ganesha Chaturthi, Sankhranti, etc. Let us be fully aware that these sweets before distribution are offered to idols – they place them before the idols, make puja and then distribute them. We need to communicate with them in a very nice and understanding way that our faith in one true God doesn’t allow us to accept and use these. They may be offended at first but when we are able to communicate to them in a proper way, they will begin to appreciate it.
Most of the Government departments and private offices conduct puja on Fridays and then distribute pieces of plantains and rice-flakes or puffed corn. We Catholics cannot accept this. We should politely decline accepting it. There are some accept it but do not eat it. We shall be giving a false witness. Instead, we should be bold not to accept this.

The lack of proper catechetics on these issues has created some kind of confusion in the minds of believers. It is time that we wake up to the situation and understand our faith better. Salvador has already provided sufficient scripture texts to support why we should not accept prasada and food offered to idols. With prayerful wishes

Mahesh H. Lobo



It looks as if Virginia wants to learn something about prasad offered to idols. If I want to learn about it, it need not mean that I accept the belief. Personally, I will not invest my money on buying literature about prasad offered to idols.

Some people have in the past distributed prasad in the office on Tuesdays and I have politely refused to accept it.
Similarly, I know of Catholic scholars who would read the Quran for sake of knowing what is written compared to what Muslims quote or for doing a comparative study with what is given in The Bible. This does not mean that the person shares in the Muslim belief. First I think Virginia needs to share in detail more what the intention of her purpose is with the members and then we can all comment.

Deven


While on this subject, I just wanted to highlight the converse of this as well. I have always been associated with more non-Catholics than Catholics since my working days (18 years), and the common complaint from my non-Christian friends who have been to our churches is about the statement made before Holy Communion i.e. “This is meant for Catholics only, people from other faiths should not participate, etc.” The usual comment my friends make is “If we can offer our prasad to all faiths, why can’t you do the same?” While I try to my best to explain why the Holy Eucharist is not the same like prasad, etc. and that it is the Body and Blood of Christ, even explaining the meaning of the Last Supper (since they all somehow relate to the Last Supper better, thanks to da Vinci’s code), I still don’t seem to have convinced them enough. I would appreciate a more appropriate answer.
As for accepting prasad, I try my best to avoid it and at least not eating it most of the time, but sometimes its too difficult to do so without hurting their feelings, so what do I do? Someone who is also always associated with non-Catholics in their day to day lives will understand what I’m trying to say here.
Bruno D’Mello

 

Many of you may be wondering why I asked your inputs regarding accepting prasad or even being part of a puja. I work in a multinational company and my non-Catholic friends are aware that I do not partake of the prasad nor do I attend their pujas. My simple explanation to them is Jesus died on the Cross and shared his blood to save us. It was not tamasha. As they feel if I give them beef, they will say “paap lagega” (It will be a sin). We accept this explanation. However, I was recently challenged by a priest asking me the reasons why I do not accept prasad. His contention was that I would be showing love and respect to my Hindu brethren. That they would feel loved. Also our behaviour would never bring Jesus to them. That too was sort of true because my other friend said, she prays over the prasad and partakes it because for her their prasad has got no meaning. But my contention is why please my Hindu friends and displease my God? Further I am not very comfortable with inculturation, I do not like the aarti being done in the church, nor the kumkum on the forehead of Catholics, but my priest friend feels that is the way to bring Jesus to the people of other faith.

 

I am not able to stomach that. I have read about how the Hindu deities do have an evil power and how it can affect you. I have also read how Feng Shui, the Laughing Buddha should not be kept in the house. Hence, my question about prasad and puja was because of my priest friend. I have decided not to convince him otherwise. But I have been disturbed since my behaviour with my non-Catholic friends, should bring them closer to God’s love and not drive them away.

Virginia

 

Dear Virginia,
To touch on your matter of ‘Prasad’, I would like to share St. Paul’s opinion on offering of food to idols and partaking of such food. St Paul says that he himself would not ever offer food to idols and if it was given to him he – on his own – would not mind partaking of it because he knows that the idol is work of human hands and unworthy of worship. So eating such food would be just like other food. He has therefore made a strong distinction between offering to idols and partaking of food that was offered or sacrificed to idols
However he does say that his action may cause someone not strong in the faith and not of the same strength of conviction to sin and for that reason alone he would not eat food sacrificed or offered to idols. This I strongly feel should govern our relationships to idol offered food.

Ronald D’Souza

With the preponderance of opinions against the partaking of prasad by Catholics in the 2007 debate (immediately above), it is a matter of great surprise that owner-moderator of the KC forum encouraged a second discussion ten months later in 2008.

 

The following information is from another 2008 debate in Konkani Catholics this time on the mantra “OM”, but it is related to the discussions on “prasada” on that forum:

KonkaniCatholics digest no. 1696 dated November 12, 2008

Offering at the Hindu Temple

3a. Posted by: Lawrence Monteiro Mon Nov 10, 2008 9:47 pm (PST)

Dear Mahesh, I have keenly going through this debate for quite some time and I thought that it is time I place my inputs. I may be a bit harsh. I may deviate a bit from the topic, but believe I will stay within the context. At the same time, I am taking part in this discussion as an ordinary lay person.
After having read through the debate as of now, I feel it is the INTENT of the person that is important.
If a Christian partakes in any such ritual – body, mind and soul – and receives or gives offering knowing fully the religious (Christian) consequences, then I say that he or she is absolutely wrong.

But if the person is there for namesake and does not give or receive any offerings at the temple or any other religious places, then I feel, there is nothing wrong in it. Even if a person receives an offering in the temple but does not treat it like an offering, but just any other sweet/food, then also I feel there is nothing wrong in it.
For example, when I do meet people complaining of acidity and cholesterol, at the slums where I work, I do ask them to go to the temple early morning and take that water made from the Holy Basil (Tulasi Leaves) or from the Neem Leaves. It does relieve the person of his chronic acidity. Here I emphasize that the whole process is scientific and not religious. And the plant contains Oleanolic acid, Ursolic acid, Rosmarinic acid, Eugenol, Carvacrol, Linalool, Beta-caryophyllene and it is free of any side-effects. For people who cannot go to that place, I ask them to prepare it at home.
Hence it is just INTENT of the person that is important.
We at times, however Christian we are, we are forced to be a part of an event or a ritual of other communities. We should never forget that we all live in a country that has many religions, many languages, many traditions, many customs, etc. Therefore, it is always important to live one among the people than not.
Yes, Mahesh, with due respects to you and your knowledge, we can quote the Holy Bible for every act or no-act of ours. But, for how long? Even our fellow brethren, the Protestants do the same. I remember one of our parishioner say this and I quote “They (protestants) quote the Bible, but we (Catholics) live the Bible” Unquote.
Forget taking offering, have we ever seen this in our own yard and our homes, the following. Hasn’t the Holy Bible stated that we should not eat unclean foods? And we are very fond of “Dukra che maas” [pork]. Isn’t it an unclean food as declared in our Holy Bible? Have any of us, at any point of time, raised this? Or have we ever thought of this?
If we go by the bible, how many of us today have an Indian name, which has a meaning from the other religions and also is a pseudonym names of Gods of other religions. And that too, a baptismal name. Have we ever thought of this? Why haven’t the Parish Priests not corrected this anomaly? I too have one such name. Awareness is the good word that we are missing here. Perhaps, the advisors of the Priests should also note this and make people aware of this anomaly.
To bring to the fore about the Catholic catechism, I feel the adults may not take it in the right spirit. But surely, you can modify it by providing Catholic Awareness. It should click.
My friend, what you have pointed out is just a tip of the iceberg. But I am glad that you have started raising these issues. And I am happy that many of us are participating in this debate, and I am sure, many more will.
This issue is surely a heart burning one and is very important. So I urge all my friends in the forum to take part in this important topic that our dear friend has initiated a discussion on.
Lawrence Monteiro, Hyderabad

If one consumes poison, whatever our intent may be, the poison will take effect on our bodies.

When one consumes a spiritual offering such as Hindu “prasada”, whatever one’s intention, one will be spiritually affected. –Michael

 

 

3b. Posted by: Ajith Lewis Mon Nov 10, 2008 9:55 pm (PST)

Dear KC Family Members, Here is a testimony of my wife friend a pious Catholic from Dubai.
She has a Hindu friend who invites for Ganesh festival and every year she used to put it off by giving reasons. However this year there was a holiday and she did not know how to give the answer. She chose to pray for the Lord to take control. Amazingly on the day she got her monthly period and when the Hindu lady called she said that she got her periods. So she asked which day, she replied first day, for which she said please do not come to our house as it very strictly forbidden in our custom for prayers. So she immediately called my wife and narrated this incident and told she never got her period so early and this was first time before ten days of the date she got.
This testimony clearly highlights that our Lord does not want us to be participating where we have to compromise with His commandments.
“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
So those who wait on the Lord will not be put into shame.

Ajith Lewis

 

3c. Posted by: Rupert J. Vaz [moderator]
Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:53 pm (PST)

Dear Friends, Continuing this thread on Offerings, thought I would chip in with some inputs of my experience.
Few months ago, one of my Muslim colleagues had gone for Hajj (Islamic Holy Pilgrimage). Upon return, he had brought some ‘holy water’ from Mecca and was distributing to all staff members in the office who were having gulp from the cup. When he came to me, I politely refused saying thank you. He said this is Holy Water from their holy land. I said “I respect your religion and rituals, but we Christians are forbidden from consuming any such substance.” He said: “But we believe in the same God.” My response was, “May be. But our prayers and practices are different.” I simply asked him, “If I bring some holy water from Rome, will you accept it?” He got the hint and left appreciating my stance.
This did not affect our friendship or office relationship in any way. I sincerely hope that this substantiated my claim that we Catholics should follow our religion politely but seriously.

Rupert Vaz, Abu Dhabi

From:
prabhu
To:
Austine J. Crasta ; RUPERT VAZ ; Rohit D’Souza
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2008 11:02 AM

Subject: Re: Offering at the Hindu Temple BCC: to six KC members

Congratulations to Mahesh, Rupert and Ajith. What Lawrence wrote is sheer rubbish. Love, Mike

[Regrettably, I am presently unable to locate Mahesh Lobo’s post- Michael]

 

From:
prabhu
To:
Michael Prabhu
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2008 11:00 AM BCC: several KC members

Subject: DO ANY OF YOU AGREE WITH ME THAT THIS IS ALL RUBBISH? 

This is a direct fallout of the earlier debate that concluded that taking prasada is OK.

Mahesh was doing an excellent job of defending the Faith. It was too good to last. Lawrence says that he would first send the person to the Temple and only if the stuff was not available there, suggest to prepare it at home. He does not feel it wrong that nuns and priests paid passive if not active homage to pagan deities at a Hindu temple!

I could write an essay to debunk all Lawrence’s statements which display complete ignorance about the powers of evil and the evil that attaches itself to pagan symbols and places, but I do not have the time to spare for such a write-up.

I wish that I had Mahesh’s email id to tell him that he should just ignore Lawrence’s letter.

I wonder how such postings are getting passed. Since KC maintains a very strict control of opinions, it means that Lawrence’s arguments are to be accepted, and Mahesh’s discarded.

Michael Prabhu

From:
Derrick D’Costa
To:
prabhu
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2008 11:29 AM

Subject: Re: DO ANY OF YOU AGREE WITH ME THAT THIS IS ALL RUBBISH? {KC}

Dear Michael,

Agreed totally… He {Lawrence} was trying to obfuscate matters stating that intent was all important forgetting that scandal and God’s first commandment are other factors which no Christian can positively plead ignorance of.

Derrick D’Costa, Bahrain

 

Here is an extract from an examination of conscience distributed by Fr. Rosario Stroscio SDB where taking
prasad” is a sin against the First Commandment of God:

An Aid to confession – An Examination of Conscience on the 10 Commandments

I Am the Lord Your God. You Shall Not Have Strange Gods before Me

Did you go to sorcerers, sadhus, fortunetellers …?

Did you sacrifice to idols, worship in temples, take prasad …?

Did you wear amulets, use spells …?

 

This U.S. based usually reliable Catholic ministry actually believes (below) that one can accept food offered to idols (by a pagan priest to a pagan deity and then to the devotee) but not the tainted food offered by witches and occutists!

Can someone enlighten me on the difference between the two?

 

Food offered to idols

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/sw/viewanswer.asp?QID=807

November 3, 2008

My close Hindu friends may some times bring prasad (offered food) from their temples? I just take it thinking that it is like any other food (St Paul says about it- that there is no idol and food, as such, is not made impure by it (1 Corinthians 8: 4–6) Can I take these offered foods (prasad) given from Hindu temples? Can I believe that there is no evil influence on it and it will not affect me if I take it for friendship sake, after saying a deliverance prayer on it? (My firm belief is that propagating a fear about it and keeping me away from it out of fear is improper for a baptised Catholic). Please clarify. -Francis

St. Paul says yes, we can eat food offered to idols. Bless the food as usual and enjoy.

However, do not accept food from witches and other occultist as it may be adulterated in the casting of spells and curses.

Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

 

Partaking of “prasad“, the food offered to idols, can have adverse consequences for the Christian:

From:
ERIKAGIB@aol.com
To:
michaelprabhu@vsnl.net
Sent: Friday, May 06, 2005 3:48 AM Subject:

From:
Kranti Farias
To:
Erika Gibello
Sent: Thursday, May 05, 2005 3:02 PM Subject:

Did Fr. Rufus (Pereira) tell you about this incident as I was so busy I forgot to write to you?

Niren had a strange experience on Holy Saturday… He was suffering acute pain in the stomach as usual, more on Good Friday, when suddenly he spoke to me that he had a bad dream of Ganapati
some days before and it was ugly and black. No sooner he spoke and said I hate the dirty Ganapati, he felt some object leaving his abdomen with a noise and after that all his trouble and left eye pain has gone. We rang Fr. Rufus and told him and after Tuesday went to see Father who prayed over him. He is fully okay after he felt that Ganapati leaving his body! His decision to talk to me and denounce Ganapati made the healing and he is ok now fully though he still feels a little tenderness in the stomach so can’t eat too spicy food.

Thank God and Praise God as I was so worried about him and he too was getting more and more irritable.

 

Ms. M. Fernandes, the writer of the letter to The Examiner, shared with me the response — which I reproduce here — that she received from a priest to whom she had sent a copy of the letter:

I
commend you for your concern and courage to send this letter to the Editor to the Examiner. Hopefully the priests would realize the harm they do by trying to show “misplaced generosity” giving in to simulation and equating the Most Holy Sacrament to something so banal as a “prasadam” that is offered to idols (devils!!!).

 

The Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church wrote in April 2005:

http://uogcc.org.ua/res/download/pagan_religions.doc

The teaching of the Church is this: “Christ is the true God and the true man, the only Saviour. There is salvation in no one else (Acts 4:12). The Church is a mysterious body of Christ, the source of the revealed truth given for one’s salvation.” Thereby it is different from pagan religions. In these there is no salvation attainable, they are only a load of human speculations which obstruct rather than lead to God. Through Paul the Apostle God reveals to us: “What pagans sacrifice, they do not sacrifice to God but to idols (demons)” (1 Cor 10:20). We worship God and sacrifice to Him, but pagans serve and worship demons. So, here is the substance of the revealed religion: a service to God; and this is different from the substance of pagan religions, which is a service to demons, though many times unconscious. And this is not one and the same thing, as well as salvation or perdition, life or death are also not one and the same thing. And the Catholic Church further teaches: “As far as the way how individual non-Christians obtain God’s saving mercy, is concerned, then this mercy is always given through Christ and lies in a mysterious relation to the Church.” (Declaration ‘Dominus Iesus’ (DI) 21)

 

Hinduism at a Glance

http://www.sspxasia.com/Newsletters/2003/Jul-Dec/Hinduism_at_a_Glance.htm
EXTRACT

SSPX Newsletter of the District of Asia Jul – Dec 2003

By Lawrence D’Souza
(Former Seminarian of Bombay Diocese)

From the abstract speculation of Vedanta resulting into Egocentricity, we now move on to the Hindu Polytheism wherein lie the dangers of “SPIRITISM” and “IDOLATRY” that are inseparably intertwined in Hinduism. The deities are the evil spirits that are invoked and propitiated by performing various rituals, prescribed in the Veda—also animals as well as human sacrifices — bloody offerings to placate the fierce deities like Shiva, Kali, Durga etc. The cult of Kali well known as “Shaktiism” consists of Occult practices which are technically called ‘Tantra” which form the major part of Hinduism.

Religious procession exhibit men and women who are possessed with these deities.

There have been instances, which I have witnessed, of exorcisms performed by an old priest of Bombay, Fr. Rufus Pereira, who was till recently on the Pontifical Commission for Exorcism (now Parish Priest of St. Pius X Church, Mulund in Bombay), whereby many people who entered Hindu temples or in any way participated in Hindu prayers (ceremonies) or even consumed food offered to idols (prasad) were possessed by the deities, of whom Kali, Ganesh, Shiva, Krishna were common.

 

The issue of Charisindia, June 2008 carries an excellent two-page testimony “Spiritual Warfare – The curse of breaking the First Commandment” [Exodus 20:5] by Jude D’Souza, now involved in the deliverance ministry in Mumbai.

 

Jude shares with us about his entire family’s coming “under a curse” after two of them, his uncles, indulged in “strange occult practices”. Both uncles died within four months of each other “under mysterious circumstances” or “a miserable death” as Jude put it.

The next attack was on Jude’s father, who also died suddenly, soon after which Jude himself became deathly ill. Jude testifies that the only reason that he, the only surviving male member, “was rescued from the jaws of death miraculously” was that his mother, “on the advice of her close friend attended the Jesus Encounter Retreat conducted by Fr. Rufus Pereira and Fr. James D’Souza at Khandala, near Mumbai. There she heard for the first time in her life, priests preaching powerfully on the sin against the First Commandment of God and warning about the consequences and effects of indulging in occult practices and OF WORSHIPPING OTHER GODS.” (Capitals emphasis mine). Jude then shares about his mother’s repentance and conversion, followed by that of his sister and finally Jude himself, and his healing from all the illnesses that plagued him. The last step was for him to abjure all the occult practices of his family and his ancestors. Now freed from bondages, he is in ministry! His elder uncle had married a Hindu and the younger uncle a Muslim.

Jude reminds us that “the Bible warns us about the effects of mixed marriages”, Ezra 9.

Early on in the testimony, Jude briefly mentions about the Hindu influence brought in to the family by the elder uncle’s wife. This was compounded by the uncle’s own occult practices, a perfect recipe for disaster. The occult part was elaborated on by Jude, but nothing said in this Charisindia article, not surprisingly, about the Hindu influence on the deathly curses that rained on their family.

How then are ignorant Catholics to protect themselves from the enemy?

“Those that run after other gods will multiply their sorrows.” Psalm 16:4

 

The issue of Charisindia, September 2006 published the Testimony, “The Lord made me whole” of Fatima Marques of Vikhroli, Mumbai, in which she relates how, after allopathy failed her, she had “gone to doctors practising homeopathic and ayurvedic systems of medicine” for her extreme case of “Varicose Veins Weeping Eczema”. Frequent retreats and loads of intercessory prayer by charismatic renewal ministers, prayers and fasting, had not helped her. Instead, her “sickness was getting more aggravated at each renewed appearance”. There was no blood circulation in her legs and her flesh was “rotten and swollen”.

She testifies that, at her home, unable to bear the affliction, she finally “begged” Jesus to heal her, and Jesus healed her miraculously and instantaneously. Later, she “attended an Inner Healing retreat by Fr. Rufus Pereira … and I experienced God’s complete and lasting healing, not only from physical ailment but also from strong evil affliction.”

This is what I understand from the information provided in Fatima Marques‘ testimony:

She did not mention anything about the occult or about any involvement by her in Hindu rituals or with Hindu deities before she was afflicted.

Homoeopathy and Ayurveda could not help cure her. Neither did allopathy and prayer and fasting.

When Jesus responded to her pitiful cries, she was healed instantaneously.

When she attended the retreat by Fr. Rufus Pereira, she received a “lasting healing, not only from physical ailment
but also from strong evil affliction.”

Note that she differentiated between the healing of her “physical ailment” and a “strong evil affliction.” Only she herself, the victim who suffered for years, would be most aware of the two completely different aspects of the problem
AND
the healing/deliverance in her case.

What evil affliction? The only evil-oriented influence that I can see in her testimony is that she was into the use of Homoeopathic remedies which is both New Age as well as “soft occult*.

Many kinds of Ayurvedic treatment too could be a problem for Catholics if they involve the acceptance of Hindu beliefs that oppose Christian revelation.

There might be an evil influence that I cannot see since Fatima Marques has not said anything about it. If that is so, the chances are that it has to do with New Age or Hinduism.

 

*I have this testimony from a homoeopath about the ministry of Erika Gibello, long-time secretary to Fr. Rufus Pereira as well as to the International Association of Exorcists, and retreat preacher:

“I met a Christian woman from Europe. She was one of the speakers at the retreat. With a background in Pharmacology, she denounced homeopathy in no uncertain terms due to the ‘evil’ effect it had on a friend of hers. She likened the effect on her friend, who was taking repeated doses of a homeopathic remedy for a few months, to a demonic possession of sorts! She said that he had become a completely changed person with no control over his emotions and all his physical symptoms were worse.”

 

Traditional Religion: Is Evil Involved?

http://www.christianhealingmin.org/newsletter/archives/church_renewal/Traditional_Religion_Evil_involved.php
EXTRACT

By Francis MacNutt (from the December 1993 issue of The Healing Line)

There are those Christians who tend to condemn anything unfamiliar that comes from a foreign culture — say, from Asia or Africa. They are like those Christians in Paul’s time who were understandably afraid of eating food offered to idols* (I Corinthians 8: the entire chapter); yet Paul was not afraid to eat such food, provided his eating did not offend those of a more tender conscience. *”prasad” or prasada in Hinduism

 

 

(I have to admit I probably would take the safer course and refuse to eat meat offered to idols if it were sold in our supermarkets today.)

On the other extreme we have the more common problem today of those who will accept anything “spiritual” that comes from another religion and automatically consider it good and valuable, simply because it is spiritual. Because the existence of the demonic realm is often dismissed as primitive superstition in today’s church world, many Christian leaders tend to disregard the dangers of the demonic in those religions that are not in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. They have lost the ability to discern the difference between the Holy Spirit and the realm of evil spirits.

I would like to share one remarkable example: in 1977 I spoke in India and there met a fine priest, Fr. Rufus Pereira, who in a brief two years had prayed to free more than 400 individuals from demonic influence! He estimated that about one-third of them were delivered from demons identifying themselves as Hindu gods. I should mention that Fr. Rufus was not a wild-eyed enthusiast, but was a highly-educated cleric who had studied Scripture in Rome.

He taught in the seminary and was highly regarded by the Indian bishops, who gave him permission to work in deliverance. Rufus graciously granted me an interview in which he said:

“I love my country very much and have a great respect for Indian religion, but perhaps there is no religion that has within itself such a wide spectrum, all the way from the highest form of religious endeavor to the lowest degradation of humanity—all in the name of religion. I have been led to believe that many of the gods and goddesses in Hindu mythology are nothing other than demons.

During one conference at which I spoke five cases of possession surfaced in the congregation, so Rufus asked me to come and observe one young woman — a Catholic – whom they had taken to a classroom. There she was stretched out on a table, assuming the dancing posture you see in some statues in Hindu temples. If you tried to straighten her out, she would immediately contort her body into its original artificial posture.”

Later Rufus told me what this all meant:

“You will remember what she looked like: this girl taking on the poses of the Hindu dancing god (This dancing god is one aspect of the god Shiva). What is really remarkable is that this girl knows nothing about Indian dancing, because she was brought up in a Western culture home. Yet, here she was, assuming the absolutely correct dancing poses in her fingers, her wrists, her hands and feet, the exact poses of this very god. It was something fantastic to watch, if it were not also so very cruel, so very abominable. Even her very face — her eyes and her mouth were all changed into the features of this Hindu god. I later found that it got into her because of a spell cast by a Hindu doctor (who perhaps had lustful motives when he was treating her). Probably he called up his favorite god, the dancing god, to possess her so he could get power over her.”

You will notice how Fr. Rufus talks about the noble aspects of religion in India but is also quite willing to face the darker, the demonic side, of Hindu culture.

Somehow Christians need to rediscover the fact Jesus is primarily our Savior (not just a teacher), the son of God who has the power to rescue us from a very real, personal world of evil that is present in traditional religion — whether it is Asian, African, Irish, or Native American. Jesus is not simply a great teacher or prophet, standing on a level with Buddha and Confucius. He is our Redeemer, with healing in his wings, ready to free all of us from the evil that tries to drag us down. It does make a difference — a great difference whether or not we are Christian.

Fr. Rufus Pereira’s account is available at



Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India

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