L-Isqof Mario Grech iħabbar Sena Marjana.


Is-Sibt, 24 ta’ Novembru 2018: Ittra Pastorali tal-E.T. Mons. Mario Grech, Isqof ta’ Għawdex, fl-okkażjoni tal-erba’ mitt anniversarju mill-Kwadru Ta’ Pinu.

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SENA MARJANA FID-DJOĊESI

Wasalt fi tmiem iż-żjara pastorali tiegħi fost il-missjunarji tagħna fil-Perù. Kienu ġranet sbieħ li mlewni b’ħafna ferħ u tama. Hemmhekk xammejt ir-riħa tqila tal- miżerja soċjali, imma fl-istess waqt iltqajt ma’ Knisja mimlija ħajja, żagħżugħa u kollha entużjażmu. Il-parroċċi tagħhom ma għandhomx il-ġid li għandna aħna, fis- sens li huma nieqsa ħafna mhux biss mill-mezzi materjali imma fuq kollox mis- saċerdoti u r-reliġjużi; imma mbagħad huma mogħnija b’ħafna għana spiritwali. In- nies għandhom fidi sempliċi imma awtentika. Għandhom programmi interessanti ta’ katekeżi, kemm għat-tfal u kemm għall-kbar. Ilmaħt għadd ġmielu ta’ lajċi li għandhom diversi ministeri. Il-liturġija tagħhom ma għandha xejn minn tat-teatru, imma tara l-komunità kollha tipparteċipa bil-ferħ u l-passjoni. Fuq kollox, rajt Knisja li għandha għal qalbha l-foqra: hija Knisja li tagħmel differenza fil-ħajja ta’ ħafna, speċjalment ma’ dawk li jkunu tilfu kull tama.

Hemmhekk kelli esperjenza ta’ Knisja li rċeviet u għadha tirċievi ħafna mill-Knisja f’Għawdex. Farraġni qatigħ il-fatt li, waqt li kont fuq art tal-missjoni, kien hemm ħafna x’jikkonfermali li jien ragħaj ta’ Knisja missjunarja, fis-sens li l-Knisja f’Għawdex għandha ħafna għal qalbha l-missjoni! Biżżejjed insemmi lil Dun Raymond Portelli mill-Parroċċa tan-Nadur u lil Patri Giovanni Cefai u Patri Victor Zammit, it-tnejn mill-Parroċċa taż-Żebbuġ, u lil Patri Marċell Portelli mill-Parroċċa tal-Fontana – it-tlieta membri tas-Soċjetà Missjunarja ta’ San Pawl. Dawn is- saċerdoti, li tassew jagħmlulna ġieħ, jgħiduli li l-missjoni tagħhom isserraħ fuq l- appoġġ spiritwali u materjali ta’ bosta Għawdxin u Maltin! Dan napprezzah ħafna.

Imma fl-istess waqt, il-Knisja fil-Perù għandha ħafna x’toffrilna; anzi, jien konvint li l-Knisja fil-missjoni tista’ tgħinna ninqalgħu minn ċerti raddi li ż-żmien waħħalna fihom u nerġgħu niskopru l-freskezza tal-fidi f’Ġesù Kristu u l-qawwa tremenda tal- Vanġelu tiegħu. Din il-Knisja relattivament żagħżugħa fil-Perù – il-parroċċa ta’ Dun Raymond għandha biss ħamsin sena u s-Soċjetà Missjunarja ta’ San Pawl qed tfakkar il-ħamsin anniversarju mill-preżenza tagħha f’Arequipa – hija tassew ħielsa minn ħafna toqol li writna aħna u għalhekk ma għandhiex ix-xkiel li nsibu aħna fl-impenn tagħna biex immorru għal dak li huwa essenzjali fil-fidi u nagħmlu l-għażliet pastorali meħtieġa! Il-Knisja fil-missjoni tista’ tgħinna npoġġu l-prijoritajiet pastorali tagħna f’posthom; tistimulana biex inkunu Knisja li tagħti spazju lil-lajċi u għalhekk inqas klerikali; tgħinna nsaffu r-reliġjożità popolari; tispirana biex nieħdu b’aktar impenn il-katekeżi tal-kbar; hija xempju għalina ta’ kemm għandna nkunu qrib dawk li qegħdin fit-trufijiet tas-soċjetà, u tant ħwejjeġ oħra.

Fi ftit kliem, il-Knisja fil-missjoni tgħinna npoġġu lil Ġesù Kristu fil-qalba ta’ kollox. Innutajt li f’ħafna ċentri pastorali hemm il-kappella tal-adorazzjoni u n-nies ifittxu lil Ġesù Ewkaristija. Darba ħaduni għand mara anzjana ta’ 84 sena li tgħix f’gorboġ: ma għandhiex għaxja ta’ lejla, imma għandha fidi qawwija f’Ġesù Kristu. Sammritni meta bid-dmugħ f’għajnejha qaltli li Ġesù Kristu huwa t-tama tagħha. Kemm huwa minnu li l-foqra għandhom ħafna x’jgħallmuna! Kemm hemm bżonn li nħalluhom jevanġelizzawna (ara Evangelii gaudium, 198)!

Osservajt li bħalna l-poplu tal-Perù għandu mħabba kbira lejn Marija, Omm Ġesù. Nemmen li Marija għandha sehem importanti fit-tiswir tal-Knisja. Għax “Marija hija intimament marbuta mal-Knisja… hija xbieha tal-Knisja fl-ordni tal-fidi, tal-karità u tal-għaqda perfetta ma’ Kristu” (Lumen gentium, 63). Tassew, kif jistqarr Missierna l-Papa Franġisku, “flimkien mal-Ispirtu s-Santu, qalb il-poplu hemm dejjem Marija” (Evangelii gaudium, 284).

Bl-għajnuna ta’ Alla s-sena li ġejja l-kwadru mirakoluż tal-Madonna Ta’ Pinu jagħlaq erba’ mitt sena minn meta tpitter minn Amadeo Perugino. Huwa fatt magħruf li din ix-xbieha hija ħafna għal qalb il-poplu tagħna: quddiemha ninxteħtu għarkupptejna nitolbu l-interċessjoni u l-ħarsien tagħha, speċjalment meta nkunu nixtiequ grazzja kbira.

F’din l-okkażjoni, fid-djoċesi tagħna ser niċċelebraw Sena Marjana li tiftaħ illum waqt il-Manifestazzjoni ta’ Kristu Re fis-Santwarju Ta’ Pinu u tagħlaq fil-Velja tal- Għid tal-Assunta li kull sena ssir fuq iz-zuntier tal-istess Santwarju.

Inħoss li lkoll bħala Knisja f’din il-gżira jeħtieġ inwieġbu b’entużjażmu mġedded għas-sejħa tal-Omm: “Ejja! Ejja! Ejja!”. Inħoss li llum ukoll minn dan il-kwadru Marija qed tgħidilna: “Ejja, ibni, ħalli tfaħħar il-kobor tal-Mulej preżenti u ħaj fl- istorja tiegħek u ta’ ħutek il-bnedmin! Ejja, binti, ħalli tfiq mit-toqol tad-dnub u tal- infedeltà u ssib il-faraġ u d-duwa tal-ħniena! Ejja ħalli ġġarrab f’qalbek l-id setgħana tas-Salvatur li jagħmel magħna ħwejjeġ kbar! Ejja ħalli timtela b’dak l-Ispirtu s- Santu li jħeġġek biex tħaffef lejn l-għoljiet tas-soċjetà ta’ żmienna fejn il-bniedem hu tant għatxan għall-ferħ ta’ Kristu! Ejja, komunità Nisranija, u ħalli warajk dak li hu tal-imgħoddi u li llum tilef it-togħma tajba tiegħu, waqt li tħares lejn Ibni Ġesù biex issib toroq ġodda ta’ evanġelizzazzjoni”.

Ħuti, ħalli matul din is-sena nħarsu lejn l-Omm għażiża tagħna, “għax kull darba li nħarsu lejn Marija nkunu qed nemmnu mill-ġdid fil-qawwa rivoluzzjonarja tal- ħlewwa u tal-imħabba” (Evangelii gaudium, 288). Hija xewqa tiegħi li matul din is- Sena nsiru nafu ftit aktar li din Ommna biex permezz tagħha nsiru aktar midħla ta’ Ġesù Kristu, niksbu għarfien aktar frisk dwar il-Knisja, u mmiddu l-passi ċkejknin tagħna f’dan il-proċess ta’ tiġdid tal-Knisja tagħna, fid-dawl ta’ dak li għidt aktar ’il fuq. Dan jawgura tajjeb biex is-saltna ta’ Kristu Sultan tkompli tinfirex fostna.

Din l-isfida pastorali li għandna quddiemna titlob grazzja speċjali minn Alla. Għalhekk nistieden lill-poplu ta’ Alla biex matul din is-Sena Marjana jitlob bit-talba sabiħa tar-Rużarju lill-Madonna Ta’ Pinu, biex taqlgħalna din il-grazzja li nfittxu toroq ġodda biex jasal għand kulħadd il-Vanġelu ta’ Sidna Ġesù Kristu.

Madonna Ta’ Pinu, “iksbilna issa l-ħeġġa ġdida li jnissel il-Qawmien biex nistgħu nwasslu lil kulħadd il-Vanġelu tal-ħajja li jegħleb il-mewt. Agħtina l-kuraġġ qaddis li nfittxu toroq ġodda biex jasal għand kulħadd id-don tal-ġmiel li ma jintefiex” (Evangelii gaudium, 288). Ammen.

Mogħtija minn Lima, il-Perù, nhar l-Erbgħa 21 ta’ Novembru 2018, Tifkira liturġika tal-Preżentazzjoni tal-Imqaddsa Verġni Marija.

Mario Grech Isqof ta’ Għawdex

 

Pastoral Letter of H.L. Mgr Mario Grech, Bishop of Gozo.

The Celebration of a Marian Year in our Diocese

I have come to the end of my pastoral visit to our missionaries in Perù. It has been a lovely time imbuing me with joy and hope. There I was exposed to the stench of societal wretchedness but at the same time I encountered a Church brimming over with life, youthfulness and enthusiasm. The parishes there are nowhere near as rich as ours, in so far as they sorely lack not only material goods but also priests and religious. On the other hand they are endowed with spiritual wealth. People have a simple but authentic faith. They have interesting catechetical programmes for young and old. A good number of the laity exercise different ministries. Their liturgy has nothing theatrical about it: instead the whole community participates with joy and passion. Above all, I beheld a Church which loves the poor, a Church which makes a difference to the life of many, especially of those who have lost all hope.

There I could experience a Church which has received, and still receives, much from the Church in Gozo. It was a source of great consolation for me to see that there was much to confirm that I am the shepherd of a missionary Church: the Church in Gozo is very fond of the missions! It is enough to mention Fr Raymond Portelli from the Parish of Nadur, Fr Giovanni Cefai and Fr Victor Zammit, both from the Parish of Żebbuġ, and Fr Marcel Portelli from the Parish of Fontana, these last three all members of the Missionary Society of St Paul. We are truly honoured through these priests, and they assure me that their mission rests on the spiritual and material support of so many Gozitans and Maltese – something to be greatly appreciated.

At the same time there is a lot the Church in Perù has to offer us. I am convinced the Church in the missions can help us get out of the furrows in which we get stuck through the passage of time, so that we can discover anew a fresh faith in Jesus Christ and the awesome power of his Gospel. This Church in Perù is relatively young: Fr Raymond’s parish is only 50 years old and the Missionary Society of St Paul is celebrating the fiftieth year of its presence in Arequipa. This Church is truly free of some of the many burdens we have inherited and with which we are encumbered when we try to get to the heart of our faith and make the necessary pastoral choices. The Church in the missions can help us put our pastoral priorities in order; it can stimulate us to be a church which gives more space to the laity, thereby shedding some of its clericalism; it can help us purify our popular religiosity; it can inspire us to commit ourselves more seriously to adult catechisis; it can be an example to us, showing us how to be nearer to those on the fringes of society; … and the list goes on.

In other words, the Church in the missions helps us put Jesus Christ at the heart of everything. I could see that in many pastoral centres there are chapels for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and people really seek out Jesus in the Eucharist. I was one day taken to visit an old lady living in a hovel: she is utterly desitute but she has a strong faith in Jesus Christ. I was mesmerised by her when, when through her tears she told me that Jesus is her hope. How true it is that we have so much to learn from the poor! And how much should we let them evangelise us! (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 198).

I could also see that Peruvians have a great love for Mary, the Mother of Jesus. I am convinced that Mary has an important role to play in building the Church. Because “Mary is intimately tied up to the Church … she is an image of the Church in the order of faith, of charity and of perfect unity with Christ” (Lumen gentium, 63). Truly as our Holy Father Francis proclaims, “together with the Holy Spirit, Mary is always at the heart of the People of God” (Evangelii gaudium, 284).

Next year, please God, marks the 400th anniversary of the painting of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu by Amadeo Perugino. Everybody knows how fond our people are of this image: we kneel before it when we pray for Our Lady’s intercession and protection, especially when we are in need of special graces.

On this occasion we are going to celebrate in our diocese a Marian Year, starting today with the manifestation for Crist the King in the Sanctuary of Ta’ Pinu and ending with the Vigil for the feast of Santa Marija which is held every year on the parvis of the same Sanctuary.

It is my conviction that as a Church, we, in this island, should respond with renewed enthusiasm to our Mother’s call: “Come! Come! Come!” I feel that today too, from her image, Mary is telling us: ”Come my son to praise the greatness of the Lord, present and alive in the story of your life and in that of your fellowmen! Come in order to obtain healing from the weight of sin and infidelity, come in order to find the soothing consolation of mercy! Come in order to experience in your heart the powerful arm of the Saviour who has done mighty deeds for us! Come in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit who bids you hasten to the hills of today’s society where man is so thirsty for the joy of Christ! Come, Christian community, discard what belongs to the past and has now lost its savour, and behold my son Jesus in order to discover new ways for evangelisation!”.

My brethren, let us throughout this year behold our dear Mother, “because every time we look at Mary we rediscover our belief in the revolutionary power of gentleness and love” (Evangelii gaudium, 288). It is my wish that throughout this year we come to know our Mother a bit better so that through her we become more familiar with Jesus Christ, acquiring a renewed recognition of the reality of the Church and taking some steps forward in this process of renewal of the Church, along the lines I proposed earlier. This would bode well for the continued establishment of the kingdom of Christ the King among us.

The pastoral challenge we are faced with requires the special grace of God. I am therefore inviting the people of God to pray to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu with the beautiful prayer of the Rosary throughout this Marian year: may Our Lady obtain for us the grace of seeking new ways how to bring to everyone the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu. “obtain for us a renewed zeal based on the Resurrection so that we can bring to everybody the Gospel of life which overcomes death. Give us the courage to seek out new ways to bring to everyone the gift of lasting joy.” (Evangelii gaudium, 288) Amen.

Given from Lima, Perù, on Wednesday, 21 November 2018, on the liturgical feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mario Grech Bishop of Gozo

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