Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Photo Meditation of the Month (Ocober, 2012): THE AUTUMNAL BEAUTY

Fallen leaves of the Autumn of 2012
Photo (Toronto: October 29, 2012) © Jerome D'Costa

The Autumn season in popularly known as the Fall season. In this season, trees shed their leaves as the winter approaches in cold countries. Before the leaves fall, they turn from green to different other colours. Certain tree leaves take on the yellow colour, some red, some brown and others pink.

It's a thrilling experience to observe these leaves in a varied shapes and colours. The horizon takes on a heavenly look. When the wind blows, leaves fall in great numbers. The ground underneath trees wears a carpet of colourful fallen leaves.

This natural activity is the extension of God's creation on earth. The Fall, like other seasons, sings the praise of God and demonstrates his beauty. Let's appreciate this beauty with our mind, body and spirit. The more we appreciate it, the humbler we become.

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The Poem of the Month (October, 2012): JUMP

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Quotation of the Week (October 28-November 3, 2012)

A quotation of Harry Emerson Fosdick on 'democracy,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Photo (X'mas decoration inside Scarborough Town Centre Mall, Toronto: Dec. 11, 2011) © Jerome D'Costa

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Donald Trump Threatens President Obama with Disclosure of His Past Secrets

Donald Trump, U.S. businessman and TV personality
Photo courtesy:

When there is the dead heat going on between President Barak Obama and his rival Mitt Romney in the ongoing presidential campaign leading up to the election on November 6, Donald Trump is threatening the President with divulgement of his past secrets.

According to various media reports, Donald Trump, an Obama foe and well-known U.S. businessman and TV personality, on October24, said in a You Tube video if the President releases his college and passport records, he would donate five million dollars to any charity of the President’s choice.

“If Barak Obama opens up and gives his college records and applications and his passport applications and records, I will give to a charity of his choice…a cheque immediately for $ 5 million,” said Donald Trump, a Mitt Romney supporter. He also mentioned a condition that the said records have to be released “to my satisfaction.” He gave the president a deadline of 5:00 p.m. on October 31. The tone of this ultimatum verges on to blackmailing and even racism.

He termed President Obama “the least transparent president in the history of this country.” “If he releases these records it will end the question and indeed the anger of many Americans,” he added.

For quite some time, along with some “birthers” (who believe that Barak Obama’s presidency is not valid because he is not a U.S.-born citizen), Tea Party members, and sensationalist gossip magazines, Donald Trump has been questioning President Obama’s birth certificate issued by the State of Hawaii. He strongly believes that the certificate is not legitimate and that the President was born in Kenya and not in the U.S. The President’s father was a Kenyan student studying at the University of Hawaii where his American mother was also a student. She had become pregnant by him at that time and Barak Obama was born. 

Significance of President Obama Being a Non-U.S. Citizen at the Time of His Birth

For sheer argument’s sake, let’s say that President Barak Obama was not a U.S. citizen by birth, what is the significance of it? Although it is not believable (because Obama being a lawyer would be so stupid as to stand for election for presidentship in the first place knowing that he was a non-U.S. citizen at his birth), yet if it is proven beyond doubt that the President was not a citizen by birth, his 2008 eligibility for U.S. presidentship would have to be made null and void generating the unprecedented constitutional crisis in the history of the U.S. The U.S. Congress and/or the Supreme Court would have to decide on it. Not only that, his presidentship would also be invalid resulting in illegality of whatever official edicts, orders and directives President Obama gave, whatever agreements he made with other countries, and whatever actions – including appointments to different positions -- he took so far. This year’s election would also be invalid. In the last four years, congress men and women and senators of the Republican Party who cooperated with President Obama in passing laws and agreements would also be at fault.

It would take months, if not years, to right all these wrongs. Are the right thinking American people ready to go all the way?

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

School Student Malala Yusufzai Proposed for 2013 Nobel Peace Prize

Pakistani school student Malala Yusufzai, who was shot in the head by Talibans for her vocal support for girls' education
Photo courtesy:
Thousands of people all over the world, including some members of the Canadian Parliament, lent their support for nominating 14-year-old school student Malala Yusufzai of Pakistan for 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. The online petition calling for this nomination was posted by Tarek Fatah, a Pakistani-Canadian author and newspaper columnist of Toronto, Canada, reports the Toronto Sun.

Canada's Immigration Minister and member of parliament (MP) Jason Kenney and Liberal Party Leader and MP Bob Rae lent their public support for Malala's nomination.

Malala Yusufzai, a school student of Mingora in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, was vocal against the destruction of girls’ schools in the area by Muslim fundamentalist Talibans. In face of dire Taliban threats to her life, Malala was exceptionally brave in speaking out for girls’ rights, including their rights to education.

A Taliban, on October 9, boarded a bus carrying girls from the school to their homes and shot Malala in the head and wounded another girl. A team of Pakistani army doctors and civil surgeons  first treated seriously wounded Malala in the army hospital in Peshawar before transferring her to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, on October 15. The doctors there announced recently that she was recovering well.

 After invading Afghanistan in late 2001, the U.S. armed force drove out the Talibans, who then took shelter in the border areas of Pakistan.  Later they became so powerful that Pakistan could not exert control over them. They started to impose Islamic Shariah laws forbidding many things including women’s education. When Malala was 11 years old, she wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC and described how people were living under the rule of the Talibans. That’s how she began to face threats to her life from them. 

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Personality Profile -- 1: Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first aboriginal saint of the Canada-USA region

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, as painted by Father Claude Chauchetiere, S.J., circa 1696
Above images courtesy:

Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)

Pope Benedict XVI, in a solemn ceremony in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, elevated Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (pronounced ‘gaderi dega’gwita) to the sainthood today. From now on, she will be known as Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. Kateri is the Iroquois name for Catherine, given to her on her baptism in honour of St. Catherine of Siena. She is also popularly known as the “Lily of the Mohawks.”

Belonging to the Mohawk First Nations (or aboriginal peoples) of North America, Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 at Ossernenon, known today as Auriesville in the state of New York, USA.     

Her non-Christian father was a Mohawk chief and mother a Roman Catholic Algonquin (a different  group of aboriginals) from Trois-Rivieres of present-day Quebec province in Canada. The Iroquois of the present USA area, while revenge-attacking the Catholic village in Quebec territory, captured her mother along with others and took them away. Her father, although belonging to the attacking group, saved her from further ignominy of a captive and married her.

In 1660, her father, mother and a brother died in a small-pox epidemic in the area. Although she survived the disease, she became extremely weak and partial-blind. The pox infections also caused pockmarks in her face. 

Her uncle, who was also another chief, and two aunts, took care of Tekakwitha. To avoid the cursed village, they moved five miles away to Caughnawaga (presently called Fonda in New York state) on the bank of the Mohawk River.

Tekakwitha lived a normal aboriginal life in the village playing with other children, helping out in the corn and vegetables fields, doing domestic chores, collecting firewood and nuts and roots, and drawing water from nearby stream and river.

She was not baptized yet; but whatever her mother used to tell her about Catholic faith and stories in her childhood, had a positive influence on her. 

In 1667, three Jesuit missionaries – Father Jacques Fremin, Father Jacques Bruyas, and Father Jean Pierron – visited her village. From them she heard something of the Catholic faith. 

In 1675, at the age of 18, Tekakwitha came in contact with another Jesuit priest, Father Jean de Lamberville, who arrived at her village and set up a chapel. Although her uncle did not like the “Blackrobe” – a term used by the then aboriginals for any Jesuit missionary who used to wear black cassock – and his alien religion, he tolerated his presence among them. The new priest persuaded her uncle to let Tekakwitha attend his religious instructions.
In 1677, at the age of 20, Tekakwitha received the Sacrament of Baptism on the Easter Day. She was given “Kateri” as her Christian name. “Kateri” in Iroquois language stands for Catherine. 

She strived to live her Christian life piously by spending her spare time in prayers, keeping away from work as part of the Sunday obligation, and fashioning crosses with twigs. She also refused to marry when proposed. 

Initially, she began to face ridicule from her family and neighbours. Later children’s taunting and throwing stones at her became a regular affair. Then, from the adults, came the threat of torture and death if she did not renounce her new religion and faith. Father de Lamberville advised her to go to the Catholic village of Kahnawake, near present-day Montreal of Quebec province in Canada, where she would be free to practice her faith. 

In July of 1677, she fled from her village with a few other converts and crossed more than 322 kilometers (200 miles) in two months through woods, rivers and swamps to the Catholic mission of St. Francis Xavier at Kahnawake (then called Sault Saint-Louis by the French), a Mohawk village. Because of her strong faith and perseverance, she was given the First Holy Communion on Christmas Day of the same year. 

Kateri could neither read nor write, yet she tried to teach about Catholic religion to others. She was remarkably devoted to a life of prayer and sacrifice. She showed kindness to all and helped the poor and the sick. 

On March 25, 1679, Kateri took a vow of perpetual virginity and devoted her life to Christ. She also expressed her desire for starting a convent for aboriginal Sisters at Kahnawake, but her spriritual director Father Pierre Cholonec discouraged her. 

After the small-pox attack in her early age, Kateri was suffering from poor health for the rest of her life. Her health took a precarious turn at the age of 24, resulting in her death from tuberculosis on April 17, 1680. “Jesos Konoronkwa” (Jesus, I love you) were her last words before her death. Some witnesses at her death bed said that, after she died, Kateri’s face automatically underwent a drastic change; her pockmarked face became smooth losing all the scars she had before. They considered it a sign from God that he was pleased with her.

In the past centuries, there have been many claims of miracles (the sick being healed and prayers to her being answered) through her intercession. Pope Pius XII, on January 3, 1943, declared her a Venerable. Pope Paul II, on June 22, 1980, beatified her. Pope Benedict XVI canonized her on Sunday, October 21, 2012. 

Kateri Takakwitha is the first aboriginal saint in the region of Canada and USA.

Sources: 1. Blessed Kateri, Model Ecologist (,

2. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (,

3. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (,
4. The North American Martyrs (

Quotations of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

1.  “I am no longer my own. I have given myself entirely to Jesus Christ.” 

2.  “Jesus, I love you,” she said it at her death bed.

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The Quotation of the Week (October 21-27, 2012)

A quotation of John Philpot Curran on 'liberty and vigilance,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Photo (Sunrise over Toronto: September 11, 2012) © Jerome D'Costa

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Cartoon I Like

Cartoon courtesy: National Post (Toronto: October 16, 2012)

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Quotation of the Week (October 14-20, 2012)

A quotation of Helen Keller on 'character,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Photo (Evening fireworks as part of "Poush Shongkranti" festival in the old 
section of Dhaka City, Bangladesh - January 14, 2012) © Jerome D'Costa

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI Proclaims the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

Pope Benedict XVI today, October 11, proclaimed the Year of Faith in a Mass in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. This special year, which will conclude on November 24, 2013, coincides with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (also known as the Vatican II) and 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Catholics, all over the world, have been asked to study and reflect on the documents of the Vatican II and the Catechism for deepening their knowledge and understanding of the faith.

The Year of the Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world,” Pope Benedict had mentioned earlier in his apostolic letter Porta Fidei (the door of faith). The Catholics are also called to return to Jesus Christ with a deeper understanding of and relationship with him.

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