Greetings! I am delighted to meet you again digitally. This issue is dated October-December, 2022. Once ‘December’ comes in, it brings along with it things related to the central event in human history – the birth of Jesus. This is why we deliberately delayed this issue of INI. If we ‘send’ it in October, Christmas may look like something that is still far away.
This is why we chose 14 November for the release of this issue. It is right in the middle of the three-month period. It is a day which is observed as ‘Children’s Day’ in India. It was born of the desire of India’s first Prime Minister after the country won political independence from the British. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru wanted his birthday that fell on 14 November to be celebrated as ‘Children’s Day’ every year.
By the way, about a week later, the rest of the world will celebrate Children’s Day, as the UNICEF-sponsored ‘World Children’s Day’ is observed on 20 November.
Children’s Day, whenever it may be celebrated, should remind us of Christmas, a feast that celebrates the birth of a Child.
Won’t it be wonderful to hear from your father for Christmas? In this issue we have an excellent article written by Fr. Fio Mascarenhas, SJ, who has come up with a letter that St. Ignatius would write to his men on the occasion of Christmas.
Have you seen a video poem? It is one of those marvels that are possible only in an online magazine like INI. The poem I have attempted is on Christmas in a world ravaged by a pandemic and a senseless, cruel war and its consequences.
This issue carries two interesting interviews. The interview with Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, a well-known American journalist and writer, focuses on the plight of democracy in the U.S. It also enlightens readers from other countries who feel puzzled about quite a few things in that great, crazy country. Won’t you agree that the U.S. is undoubtedly great and indisputably crazy? Its greatness comes from the values of its founding fathers. Its craziness comes from the unlimited freedom which the unscrupulous exploit.
The other interview is of a veteran missionary. For nearly a century it was the missionaries from Europe – Jesuits and others – who took it upon themselves to proclaim the good news of Jesus here. The situation has now changed completely. Now it is priests from India who go to all parts of the world to serve in parishes that would otherwise have no pastors, because of the tragic lack of vocations in the West. In the interview, the Indian Jesuit who has completed 50 years as a missionary in Indonesia, talks of his life as a missionary. A remarkable milestone in his missionary life was the magnificent Marian shrine he managed to build in Medan, Indonesia. You must read his interview if you want to find out how he managed to do this in a country that is not his own.
Fr. Cedric Prakash’s article explains why democracy is in peril everywhere. Cedric gives us a list of places where recently parties that stand for democracy, diversity, peace and unity have experienced a shocking set back and how right wing parties, headed by persons who care a hoot for democratic values, have seized power. Today’s news adds one more country to that frightening list – Israel.
In an autobiographical article, Fr. S. Ignacimuthu, SJ, who won recently two awards for his contribution to botany and science in general, explains how he came to acquire a passion for scientific research and how he managed to achieve all he has done in the field of botany.
A writer should know his readers, a speaker his audience. Do our teachers know their students? Do they understand and empathize with them? An article that would be helpful to all educators is the one written by a veteran educator, Fr. V. Joseph Xavier, on the peculiar traits of Gen Z or the Z Generation to which our students belong.
So let this issue of INI reward you with knowledge and understanding as well as pleasure and enjoyment that only reading can provide!
May you and all your dear ones have a blessed, joyous Christmas and a happy, hope-filled 2023!
– M.A. Joe Antony, SJ