Mission of Love

As India is a Mission field, the Mass Readings of this Sunday pertain to the Feast of the Patroness of the Missions: St Teresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, or of the Little Flower, also known as Thérèse of Lisieux.[1]

Three amazing Carmelite Teresas are saints of the Catholic Church, whose feasts take place between August and October: Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582), Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, née Edith Stein (1891-1942). The first one was the founder of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites; the second and the third were nuns of the same Order.

St Thérèse of Lisieux was born Marie-Françoise Thérèse Martin, in Alençon, France, the youngest of nine children, five of whom survived childhood and became nuns. Thérèse entered the Carmelite convent at Lisieux, where she was outwardly unremarkable, even a little problematic in the worldly sense, and so initially misunderstood. The story of her spiritual development became well known thanks to her autobiography, written by order of the prioresses. It was published in 1898, a year after her death by tuberculosis, under the title Histoire d’une âme (“Story of a Soul”) and became an instant bestseller.

Thérèse died very young and without ever having left the cloister, yet, two years after her canonisation in 1925, Pope Pius XI proclaimed her Patroness of the Universal Missions, alongside St Francis Xavier, a tireless Jesuit missionary in India and Japan. Why? Because “what makes a missionary are not the legs but the heart!”[2] They are missionaries whose hearts burn with love for Christ and zeal to save souls by love. In fact, St Thérèse is well known for teaching the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood, or simply ‘The Little Way’. It is the sacrifice of ourselves to God’s love, as we learn to seize every opportunity in our daily life to be an example of love. In her words, it is “the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute surrender”.

Basilica of St. Therese at Lisieux

These biographical details help us to understand the choice of today’s Readings. The First Reading (Is 66: 10-14) brings forth an intimate image – that of Jerusalem giving suck like a mother. Jerusalem is not just a physical place but a metaphor for all that Christians look forward to: a paradise to be attained after death. Jerusalem is where the nations of the world will finally come and seek the Lord of Hosts! The Reading is therefore very reassuring for the Missions and missionaries.

The Second Reading (1 Cor 13: 4-13) is also pertinent. In her Story of a Soul, St Thérèse writes: “In spite of my littleness, I have the vocation of the apostle. I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach your name and plant your cross on pagan soil. But O my Beloved, one mission alone would not be sufficient for me, I would want to preach the Gospel on all the five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles! I would be a missionary, not for a few years only, but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages… O my Jesus, what is your answer to all my follies?”

It is said that she got the answer upon meditating on chapters 12 and 13 of St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians: she understood that there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them; that there are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served. It is like Christ Who is a single body with many parts; and nonetheless it is just one body. Thérèse had what it takes to be an authentic Christian: love, the greatest of the three theological virtues, and the vocation to serve with love from wherever she was.

St. Thérèse loved nature, and often used the imagery of nature to explain how the Divine Presence is everywhere, and how everything is connected in God’s loving care. She saw herself as “the Little Flower of Jesus” (hence, she is a patron of the florists, too), like the simple wild flowers in fields and forests, rather than a brilliant rose or an elegant lily, yet growing and giving glory to God.[3] Apt, therefore, is the Gospel text, in which Jesus says: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

There is no doubt that those who humble themselves will be exalted. In 1997, on her death centenary, she became the youngest person to be designated a Doctor of the Church, and the second Carmelite nun to receive that distinction after St Teresa of Ávila. On this occasion, Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Divini amoris scientia elucidated what he called Thérèse’s “science of love”:

“The spiritual doctrine of Thérèse of Lisieux has helped extend the kingdom of God. By her example of holiness, of perfect fidelity to Mother Church, of full communion with the See of Peter, as well as by the special graces obtained by her for many missionary brothers and sisters, she has rendered a particular service to the renewed proclamation and experience of Christ’s Gospel and to the extension of the Catholic faith in every nation on earth.”[4]

St Thérèse is thus perfectly justified to be Patroness of the Missions. But how would she look at the Mission field today? This is a very crucial question, better left for another day.


[1] Her feast day in the General Roman Calendar was 3 October, from 1927 until it was moved, in 1969, to 1 October.[2] https://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/why-st-therese-patroness-missions-17832

[3] Cf. https://www.littleflower.org/st-therese/frequently-asked-questions/

[4] No. 10 https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1997/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19101997_divini-amoris.html

Konkani is not a dialect of Marathi - 1

Part 1 of "O concani não é dialecto do marata", by Mgr. Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado, in Heraldo, Pangim, Goa, No. 2570, 13 February 2017. Translated from the Portuguese by Óscar de Noronha.

It is not a “Byzantine general’s problem”, as it might appear at first glance, to check whether Konkani is a language or a dialect. For it does matter if Portuguese be a mere modality of Castilian or an autonomous language. Being a mother or a sister is not the same, whether in sociology or in philology, just as it is not the same whether Portuguese be a daughter or a sister of French or of Russian.

It is a subject of capital importance both scientific and practical. A daughter carries on her mother’s existence in law, is entitled to her assets and is sure to resemble her in essential and characteristic features. It is in relation to her mother that she may be considered an improvement or a deterioration, more pure or less pure. Evidently, it is not so with her sister.

All glottologists acknowledge that it has been of utmost value to ascertain that Sanskrit is not the trunk but only a branch of the Indo-European family. Max Muller (Science of Language, 1890, I. p. 194) states: “It was exactly this necessity of determining distinctly and accurately the mutual relation of Sanskrit and the other members of the same family of speech, which led to such important results, and particularly to the establishment of the laws of phonetic change as the only safe means for measuring the various degrees of relationship of cognate dialects, and thus restoring the genealogical tree of human speech.”

For some time now, much has been magisterially written to the discredit of the ill-fated Konkani language; she has been cannily smeared with such dark colours, and exposed to public scorn as being such a horrendous monster, that I believe it opportune to know, clearly and without gimmicks, if she really deserves such treatment.

It is true that the subject has already been dealt with, quite exhaustively, by competent people, especially Dr Gerson da Cunha (The Konkani Language and Literature) and Ramachandra Gunjicar (Sarasvati mandala).

But, from the looks of it, they have not been read or duly studied by many who repeat what they have said about Konkani. Or else, we would not hear so much nonsense laced with disconcerting remarks.

It is also our generally accepted policy that money spent on the purchase of books is a waste. And with regard to Konkani, almost all Goans possess a magical mastery given that they have learned to babble it away on their mother’s lap! If some admit that they fall short, yet argue and come up with far-fetched doctrines, they do so out of false humility.

I do not propose to treat the matter at great length; it would take much time and space. I will gather what others have put forth and indicate the main topics leading to further research by a person well-meaning and eager to learn, that rara avis, if there is any.

(First published in Revista da Casa de Goa, Lisbon, Series II, No. 24, Sep-Oct 2023, p. 15)

God above all else

Today’s Readings are yet another lesson in God’s attributes and the kingdom of Heaven that is far beyond all we can imagine. We for our part have to bloom where we are planted, always giving praise and thanks to God for the infinite variety of benefits, blessings and graces received.

The First Reading (Is 55: 6-9) is taken from the last part of the second Book of Isaiah. After God lets His people go into exile, He calls them to conversion. Their exile, albeit temporary, is a time of trial, not unfamiliar to us in our valley of tears. It is always a good idea, then, to let ourselves be conquered by His boundless love for us. All we have to do is align ourselves with Him, and never seek to bend His teachings to suit our personal tastes.

But alas, instead of thus exercising humility and justice, we see man offending God times without number. Some people equate the natural with the supernatural, while others don’t even acknowledge the supernatural. Yet others talk of justice in the same breath as they abuse their neighbour; they worship power and money, readily becoming slaves to both, not to speak of those who curry favour with false gods and fail to honour the true God they have known since baptism.

The true God, says the Psalm, is highly to be praised and his greatness immeasurable. It is foolish to imagine that we can count equality with Him, yet He is close to all who call Him. And, as St Paul says, if God is for us, who can be against us? (Cf. Rom 8: 31) Hence, not only love for God, it is a rewarding spiritual exercise to cultivate deep faith, hope and trust in Him. There is no better antidote to fear, tension, stress, and all that bedevils us. He who knows how many hairs are on our head takes care of us.

In the Gospel (Mt 20: 1-16), Jesus illustrates the fact that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways not ours! The parable He recounts shows not a grudging but a generous God – who treats each according to their needs; a God not mathematical in his dealings but magnanimous – and who never fails us; far from egalitarian but extremely empathetic – who comforts and heals. God is the Lord and Master of the universe; the immense difference between Him and us cannot be wished away.

The Gospel text may be a shocker to the world’s paymasters and economists; yet, it is more about the Kingdom of Heaven, where rewards follow a different economy! We are not to expect God to pay us according to what we perceive to be our merits; in fact, He knows our backstory better than we do. That is how Jesus revealed to the Pharisees that the goodness of God goes beyond human criteria of compensation and that divine reward is not in keeping with salaries paid by human standards.

This applies not only to individuals, but to societies and nations too. Indeed, the verse that reads “the last will be the first, and the first last” underlines the fact that pagan nations, who were the last to be called by God, have taken precedence over the Jews, who had been called first but rejected Him. And some Bible editions add: “For many are called, but few chosen.” A lesson to remember!

Finally, St Paul’s pithy statement in the Second Reading (Phil 1: 20-24, 27) says it all: “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Presently in prison, if they let him live, he promises to work for Christ, and if dead, He would be with Him in Heaven anyway. So, he would be happy either way. To us, maybe the woods are lovely, dark and deep – as the Poet would say – and we have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep... At any rate, if through our life we have had God above all else, when we finally do sleep, we will be with Him anyway!

Banner: Mass of Saint Gregory the Great by Master of Portillo (1520-1525). https://rb.gy/qhikf

Dalgado and the Konkani-Marathi Controversy

In 1917, Monsignor Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado (1855-1922), an internationally renowned linguist and professor of Sanskrit at the University of Lisbon, analysed the linguistic and grammatical characteristics of the Konkani language, demonstrating its identity as being distinct from Marathi, in a series of nine articles, entitled “Konkani is not a dialect of Marathi”, published in the Panjim daily Heraldo[1].

Fig. 1 “O concani não é dialecto do marata’” by Rodolfo Dalgado, in: Heraldo (1917).

What were the events that led Mgr. Dalgado to write the series?

Mgr. Dalgado was deeply aware of the pioneering linguistic, lexicographic and literary work systematically put in by European missionaries, mainly in the Roman script, in sixteenth and seventeenth century Goa;[2] sadly, Konkani studies began to languish side by side with the waning of religious zeal in the eighteenth century, which included the Pombaline period. However, even before that, indifference had turned into official hostility. An edict issued in the year 1684, by Viceroy Francisco de Távora, and some other state and ecclesiastical orders, sacrificed Konkani at the altar of Portuguese, which hereafter became the official vehicle of communication. A few Goan Catholic families began to regard Portuguese as their mother tongue, while the Hindus sought refuge in Marathi, which they used for religious and cultural purposes.

Notwithstanding the relegation of Konkani to the background, there was never a doubt about its linguistic status until, on the academic front, a Scottish linguist and poet, John Leyden, working in British India, unwittingly upset the apple cart. In his essay on Indian languages, in 1807, he classified Konkani as a dialect of Marathi, specifying that “the jargon of Goa” differed considerably from pure Konkani. A decade later, Baptist missionary William Carey’s translation of the Bible at the Serampore Mission was a shot in the arm for Konkani. However, it is Leyden’s ideas that began to gain currency, supported by another British missionary linguist John Wilson; the latter eventually came into the Konkani fold and his pupil J. M. Mitchell kept the flag flying, but contemporaries like writer Richard Burton, orientalist Erskine Perry, judge R. X. Murphy, civil servant John Beames and Sanskrit scholar A. C. Burnell were racked with indecision.

In Goa, the exclusion of Konkani from the curriculum of the first state-owned schools set up in 1831 demoralised Konkani speakers a great deal. Thankfully, there appeared light at the end of the tunnel when, in 1858, Goa Secretary-General J. H. da Cunha Rivara published an Ensaio histórico da língua concani.[3] He was enthusiastically supported by novelist and parliamentarian Francisco Luís Gomes and researcher Miguel Vicente de Abreu. However, the restoration of Konkani’s pride was short-lived, for in 1869, at the behest of the official Marathi interpreter Suriagy Ananda Rao, the use of the language was banned by José Ferreira Pestana, the Governor notorious for dismantling the old city of Goa. There was no question of its use in academic circles, whereas Marathi ruled the roost even at the prestigious lycée in the capital city.

As though to further dismantle Konkani, in 1877, Bombay-based academic R. G. Bhandarkar termed it a dialect of Marathi.[4] By this time, the number of scholars favouring the dialect theory had slightly outnumbered those holding the language theory; but the tide began to change after Goan scholar José Gerson da Cunha’s convincing response, The Konkani Language and Literature, saw the light of day in the said metropolis, in 1881.[5] He was the first to systematise and coordinate the arguments of the language theory and ought to have drawn stout torchbearers to the cause; but alas, at least three supporters – the Mangalore-based Italian Jesuit Angelo Maffei, Bombay-based writer R. B. Gunjikar and Mangalorean jurist Jerome A. Saldanha – were somewhat conciliatory. A stronger blow was yet to come by way of G. A. Grierson’s Linguistic Survey of India, whose seventh volume dedicated to Marathi, worked on by Norwegian scholar Sten Konow, was published by the British Government in 1905.

By and large, British India scholarship had hitherto favoured Marathi, but Konkani’s defenders in Goa were determined to not take it lying down. In that very year, Goan mestizo poet Fernando Leal began a crusade for the “resurrection of Konkani”,[6] close on the heels of another, Thomaz Mourão Garcez Palha, who had also worked hard. Writer Eduardo Bruno de Souza[7] in Poona, and Cristóvão Pinto, writer and parliamentarian, in Goa, followed suit;[8] and the ayurvedic physician Ramachondra Panduronga Vaidia, alias Dadá Vaidia, spoke in Konkani at Portuguese India’s first Provincial Congress, held in April 1916. He had made his point but was shouted down by Marathi writer Xambá Suria Rao Sardesai, who followed it up with a two-part article entitled “Ressurreição do concani”[9], obviously hinting at Leal’s clarion call issued a decade earlier.

The stage was set for Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado to intervene from distant Lisbon. The tireless Goan Catholic missionary was now on a new mission: to prove Konkani’s credentials as a language. He had published a Konkani-Portuguese dictionary in Bombay,[10] and a Portuguese-Konkani volume in Lisbon.[11] The university professor and Fellow of the Portuguese Academy of Sciences was an authority on the influence of Portuguese on Asian languages, but his thoughts kept returning to Konkani. Significantly, one of his last works was a Konkani Grammar, which until recently lay in manuscript form at Goa’s State Library.[12]

Dalgado’s authoritative voice in Heraldo (Figure 1) helped put to rest issues that were plaguing Konkani ever since Leyden’s ignorance of Konkani’s grammatical structure had led him to question its linguistic independence.[13] However, as José Pereira points out in his Konkani: A Language,[14] “because of its language and limited circulation”, his nine-part series “remained unread by the majority of those who could have profited by it.”[15] Today, its translation into English (see Document in this issue) hopes to right that historical wrong and pay homage to that rare scholar whose centenary was observed last year.


da Costa, Aleixo. Dicionário de Literatura Goesa. 4 volumes. Macau/Goa: Fundação Oriente/Broadway, [1997-2005]

Dalgado, [Sebastião] Rodolfo. “O concani não é dialecto do marata”, in Heraldo (Pangim, Goa), Nos. 2570 to 2576, dated 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 22 February 1917.

Gomes, Olivinho. Konkani Literature in Roman Script. A Brief History. Goa: Dalgado Konknni Akademi, 2010.

Mascarenhas, Constâncio. “Defesa da língua concani”, in Boletim do Instituto Menezes Bragança, Bastorá: Tipografia Rangel, 1966.

Pereira, José. Konkani Literature: A History of the Konkani-Marathi Controversy. Dharwar: Karnatak University, 1971

SarDessai, ManoharRai. A History of Konkani Literature (from 1500 to 1992). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 2000.


[1] “O concani não é dialecto do marata”, in Heraldo, nos. 2570 to 2576, dated 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 22 February 1917.

[2] Among others, Henrique Henriques; Thomas Stephens; João de S. Matias; Gaspar de S. Miguel; Simão Álvares; Karel Prikryl; Diogo Ribeiro, António de Saldanha, Miguel de Almeida, Ignazio Arcamone and Diogo de Amaral.

[3] Nova Goa: Imprensa Nacional, 1858.

[4] Wilson Philological Lectures on Sanskrit and the Derived Languages. Bombay: 1914.

[5] Bombay: Government Central Press, 1881

[6] Cf. “Glossário Português Oriental”, in Heraldo, no. 1562, 24 May 1905. Parts 2 and 3 appeared on 25 May and 10 June 1905.

[7] Founder-editor of the first periodical in Konkani, Udenteche Sallok, published from Poona, 1889-1894, he also wrote a series of articles on Konkani, in O Heraldo.

[8] Cf. his articles in Heraldo, August-October 1916.

[9] Heraldo, nos. 2336, 2337, 28-29 April 1916.

[10] Diccionario komkani-portuguez filológico-etymologico. Bombay: 1893.

[11] Diccionario portuguez-komkani. Lisboa: Imprensa Nacional, 1905.

[12] Mousinho de Ataíde and Cristo de Menezes (co-translators and co-editors), Grammar of Konkani Language. Goa: Broadway Publishing House, 2022.

[13] Mgr. Dalgado’s legacy was kept alive by another scholar, Dr Mariano Saldanha, who was a professor of Sanskrit at the University of Lisbon (1929-46), and later, of Sanskrit and Konkani at the Escola Superior Colonial (1946-48). Unlike Dalgado, who favoured the writing of Konkani in the Devanagari script, Saldanha was a votary of Konkani in the Roman script and wrote extensively on the language particularly after the latter period.

[14] José Pereira, Konkani: A Language. Dharwar: Karnatak University, 1971.

[15] Ibid., p. 53

First published in Revista da Casa de Goa, Series II, Sep-Oct 2023, pp. 16-19

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The Other Side of Love

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” are two commandments that God gave Moses for the guidance of the Chosen People. But alas, they carried on, either oblivious of the twin commandments, or practising one to the detriment of the other. Eventually, their hearts were so hardened that lex talionis – an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth – became second nature to the Hebrew race.

Yet, today’s First Reading (Sir 27: 30; 28: 7) and Psalm give the lie to our notion of the Old Testament. Sirach calls anger and wrath “abominations” that mark a sinful man, who is therefore cautioned that “he that takes vengeance will suffer vengeance from the Lord.” The antidote is to “forgive your neighbour the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray.” In fact, last Sunday’s Gospel text stressed that there is no use seeking the Lord’s pardon if we haven’t reconciled with our brother. A sure way out of our predicament is “to remember the end of your life… remember destruction and death, and be true to the commandments.” That is to say, having the Last Things – Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell – before our eyes improves our spiritual vision![1]

When Peter the Apostle heard Our Lord pronounce the first rules of Christian law, he wished to have them properly spelt out. Hence, the question in today’s Gospel (Mt 18: 21-35): “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” The teachers of the law had taught the Jews that to pardon three times was the pinnacle of perfection; but now Jesus seemed to extend love and forgiveness infinitely. “And to make it better understood how rigorously His law of loving kindness must bind our actions, He set before the Apostles’ eyes one of those Oriental courts where the lightest fancy of their monarch can, in an instant, raise up or demolish the most splendid fortunes. So, then, Charity, much more than Justice, should be the foundation of Christian righteousness, or rather one must be blended with the other! ‘Mercy and faithfulness meet in one; justice and peace are united in one embrace!’ even as two sisters,” says the Abbé C. Fouard, in his Jesus Christ the Son of God,[2] a most elevating work.

However, we would do well to not water down Jesus’s commandment of love by applying it indiscriminately. We should not be led to think that to love means to suspend critical judgement about men and matters. Didn’t Our Lord exhort us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves? Did He not warn his disciples that they would be “like sheep among wolves” (Mt 10: 16)? It behoves us to note therefore that “There’s daggers in men’s smiles”, as we read in Macbeth, and to not be naïve. The world is hostile to God’s Word and they are out to destroy the “One True Church” to which we belong.

“Is it not true that today Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Church are disobeyed, abandoned, betrayed? Is it not true that the laws, institutions, morals, and ways of the people are more and more hostile to Jesus Christ?” – asks Professor Plínio Corrêa de Oliveira in his Way of the Cross.[3] In such a situation, what we need is to be full of righteous anger, not foolish love. “Christ Himself was filled with righteous anger against the vendors who had desecrated the house of God. Such anger is allowable only if it tends to punish those who deserve punishment, according to the measure of their guilt, and with the sincere intention to redress what harm may have been done or to correct the wrongdoer,” explains Fr. John Hardon in his Modern Catholic Dictionary.[4]

Let us therefore not be carried away by this thing called love: righteous anger is permissible and even laudable. When St Paul said, “love bears all things… endures all things” (1 Cor 13: 7) did he mean that we should selfishly, slavishly, shamelessly, accept all things? We cannot love all people or things; we ought to distinguish between true and false loves, between love of self and love of God, between those who love God and hate Him. We may turn a blind eye to those who offend us but we must stand by our God when people offend Him. We need to ask ourselves whether what we are doing is simply because we love to do it, or because it is good, true, right and beautiful. Alas, arguably the most abused word in the dictionary today must be put in place.

Of course, we must always ensure that there is no tinge of hatred and no desire for revenge in what we do; it ought to be our desire only to restore things to their pristine state, and then forgive and possibly even forget. Nor should we live in perpetual doubt and fear. Rather, it is most proper that we entrust ourselves to the Lord our God and do whatever is within our reach – pray as if everything depended on prayer and work as if everything depended on work. In the words of St Paul in today’s Second Reading (Rom 14: 7-9), “none of us lives to himself, and none of dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we died to the Lord.” Then, whether we live or die we should love God and be grateful that we belong to Him.

[1] See my blogpost “The Last Things – First!” https://www.oscardenoronha.com/2019/11/01/the-last-things-first/

[2] Abbé C. Fouard, Jesus Christ the Son of God, Goa: Don Bosco, 1960, p. 270.

[3] Plínio Corrêa de Oliveira, The Way of the Cross https://www.tfp.org/the-way-of-the-cross/

[4] https://rb.gy/eiqzv

Guardians de Goa


We are holding in our hands an edition tracing the journey of the Konkani and Portuguese languages ​​in Goa; Luso-tropical drama; fiction and travel literature; cuisine; the arts and artists; fragments of our history and culture; and what matters most, reminding us of our duty to be defenders of all that comprises the idea and spirit of Goa.

This issue opens with an essay bearing a poetic title and interesting content: “Portuguese in different sounds”, by our associate editor José Filipe Monteiro. Elsewhere, he reviews O Signo da Ira (The Sign of Wrath), a neorealist novel by Orlando Costa, one of the classics of Indo-Portuguese literature, set in Goa of the nineteen sixties. Costa is also remembered in Júlia Serra’s feature article bearing the title of his play Sem Flores nem Coroas (No Flowers, No Wreathes).

It is well known that Portuguese and Konkani mutually enriched each other in Goa. Less known, however, is the tale of two Indian sisters – Konkani and Marathi – that clashed. A learned Goan resident in Lisbon it was who stopped the conflict dead in its tracks, as associate editor Óscar de Noronha narrates in his essay titled “Dalgado and the Konkani-Marathi controversy”.

We take this opportunity to launch a new section, Document, presenting in English translation the first of the nine articles, under the title “Konkani is not a dialect of Marathi”, published over a century ago in Panjim’s Heraldo, by Monsignor Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado. There he proved the linguistic and grammatical characteristics of Konkani, and established its identity.

We can feel the sweetness of a language in its popular literature, as illustrated by our Konkani Corner, where you can revisit Konkani sayings translated into Portuguese by the late poet Barreto Miranda. Gastronomy too has the ability to lighten the atmosphere; so, it is no surprise that José Filipe Monteiro has paid tribute to Agnelo Silveira, missing as he does the “man who set up Goan cuisine in Lisbon”.

Ana de Miranda writes about some other aspect of the “mythical, legendary East”. In her very suggestive text, titled “Monsoon Funeral”, she sketches her family history; of how “little by little, slowly and elegantly, the occupant of the house bids goodbye and lets himself dissolve in the rainwater”: a tribute to artist Rishaad de Miranda, son of the great caricaturist Mário, whom we paid homage earlier (Revista da Casa de Goa, No. 12).

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” is a short and sweet Shakespearean line that must have been at the back of Joaquim Correia’s mind when he wrote “Theatre in Goa: tradition and its similarities with Macau and Portugal”: a survey of the traditional Konkani tiatr in Goa, placed parallel to Macanese patois theatre and the Portuguese Teatro de Revista.

And speaking of the Far East, António Aresta travels “From India to Macau”, following the itinerary of the nineteenth-century traveller Pedro Gastão Mesnier, who was also a public works conductor and professor of physics and chemistry in Goa, and later, private secretary to the Governor of Macau, and editor and teacher there.

Such a fascinating life that; or as Amanda D’Costa says in her poem, speaking of another “man with a dream”: “It’s worth it”! The same can be said about the painting by Clarice Vaz, our resident collaborator; a watercolour by Girish Gujar, and photography by Payal Kakkar. Of course, all three refer to Goa, a land that is Susegad (Quiet), as was evident from an exhibition of the same name, comprising painting and associated cultural programme, coordinated by João Coutinho, a member of Casa de Goa. Interestingly, a weekly newsmagazine in video format, produced in Konkani by the Goan diasporic community of Melbourne, is titled similarly: Susegad Danpaar (Quiet Afternoon). These two news items comprise the respective section of our Revista.

Of course, our edition is never complete without reflecting on our culture. Thus, readers will have the opportunity to read the third part of the article co-authored by Philomena and Gilbert Lawrence, on the topic: “Is GEM culture (Goan, East Indian and Mangalorean) a victim of academic baloney?” Very important to enlighten the new generations and make sure that they do not give in to ill-informed clichés about the Indo-Portuguese way of life.

But what was life in Goa really like? In his series on “Fragments of Goan History”, Mário Viegas profiles the Regional Centre of Chinchinim, an association located in that illustrious village of Salcete and active in the last century.

Who can resurrect the ancient guardians of our modus vivendi? In fact, it is more important to find new ones, because without them, Goa will be nothing, and “will end by itself”, going by a rather portentous dictum attributed to St Francis Xavier. And three quarters of a century ago, what were those “Defenders of the Portuguese Flag in Bombay” targeting? They are mysteries that John Menezes unveils in his well-documented article dotted with precious autobiographical snippets.

We are very fortunate to be part of the Revista, which also strives to be a guardian of Indo-Portuguese culture. Hopefully, it will always be welcomed by the powers-that-be and by the world at large.

(Revista da Casa de Goa, Series II, No. 24, September-October 2023)


Guardiães de Goa


Temos nas mãos uma edição em que se fala do percurso das línguas concani e portuguesa em Goa; do teatro luso-tropical; da literatura de ficção e de viagens; da culinária; das artes e dos artistas; de fragmentos da nossa história e cultura; e, o que importa mais, lembra-nos do dever de sermos defensores de tudo o que compreende o conceito e espírito de Goa.

O número abre com um ensaio de título poético e conteúdo interessante: “Português em vários sons”, da autoria do nosso editor associado José Filipe Monteiro, que, mais além, faz uma recensão crítica a O Signo da Ira, romance neorrealista de Orlando Costa, um dos clássicos da literatura indo-portuguesa, da Goa dos anos sessenta do século transacto, autor ora duplamente lembrado nesta edição, com a crónica de Júlia Serra, sobre a peça teatral intitulada Sem Flores nem Coroas.

É sobejamente conhecido que em Goa o português e o concani mutuamente se enriqueceram. Menos conhecido, porém, é a história de duas irmãs indianas – o concani e o marata – que se entrechocaram. Foi um sábio goês residente em Lisboa que travou o conflito, e dele nos fala o editor associado Óscar de Noronha, no ensaio intitulado “Dalgado e a controvérsia concani-marata”.

Aproveitamos o ensejo para inaugurar uma nova secção, Documento, apresentando em tradução inglesa o primeiro dos nove artigos, sob o título de “O concani não é dialecto do marata”, há mais de um século publicados no Heraldo, de Pangim, por monsenhor Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado que neles firmara as características linguísticas e gramaticais do concani, estabelecendo assim a sua identidade.

A doçura de uma língua sentimo-la na sua literatura popular, como bem ilustra o Cantinho do Concani, onde se tem revisitado adágios concanis traduzidos em português pelo finado poeta Barreto Miranda. Também a gastronomia tem o condão de amenizar o ambiente. Por isso, não admira que José Filipe Monteiro tenha rendido preito a Agnelo Silveira, pelas saudades do “homem que domiciliou a culinária goesa em Lisboa”.

De uma outra vertente do “Oriente mítico, lendário” escreve Ana de Miranda. No seu texto muito sugestivo, intitulado “Monsoon Funeral”, delineia uma nota sobre a história familiar; de como “aos poucos, devagar, com elegância, o habitante da casa despede-se e deixa-se dissolver na água de chuva”: tributo ao artista Rishaad de Miranda, filho do grande caricaturista Mário, que antes foi alvo de nossa homenagem (Revista da Casa de Goa, No. 12).

“O mundo é um palco e todos os homens e mulheres são somente actores”, é uma frase lapidar shakespeariana, que terá estado no fundo da mente de Joaquim Correia ao escrever “O Teatro em Goa: tradição e suas similitudes com Macau e Portugal”: um levantamento sobre o tradicional tiatr em concani de Goa, posto em paralelo com o teatro macaense em Patuá e o Teatro de Revista em Portugal.

E falando do Extremo-Oriente, António Aresta viaja “Da Índia para Macau”, seguindo o itinerário do aventureiro novecentista Pedro Gastão Mesnier, que foi também condutor das obras públicas e professor de física e química em Goa, e mais tarde, secretário particular do Governador de Macau, e aí ainda redactor e professor.

Uma vida fascinante essa; ou como diz Amanda D’Costa no seu poema, falando de um outro “homem com um sonho”: “Vale a pena”! Diga-se o mesmo da pintura de Clarice Vaz, nossa colaboradora residente; da aguarela de Girish Gujar, e da fotografia da autoria de Payal Kakkar. Claro que os três se referem a Goa, esse torrão que é Susegad (sossegado), como ficou patente numa exposição homónima, de pintura e programa cultural associado, da responsabilidade de João Coutinho, sócio da Casa de Goa. Curiosamente, também um semanário noticioso em formato vídeo, produzido em concani pela comunidade diaspórica goesa de Melbourne assim se intitula: Susegad Danpaar (Tarde Sossegada). São duas notícias que preenchem a respectiva secção da nossa Revista.

É claro que nunca fechamos a edição sem ponderarmos sobre a nossa cultura. Assim, os leitores terão o ensejo de ler a terceira parte do artigo da co-autoria de Philomena e Gilbert Lawrence, sobre o tema: “Será a cultura GEM (goesa, indiana oriental e mangaloriana) vítima de equívoco?” Muito importante para o esclarecimento das novas gerações, e para que elas se desistam dos clichés mal informados sobre o modo de ser indo-português.

Mas como era na realidade a vida em Goa? Na sua série sobre “Fragmentos da História de Goa”, Mário Viegas traça o perfil do Centro Regional de Chinchinim, que no século transacto fora uma agremiação activa sita nessa ilustre aldeia de Salcete.

Quem poderá ressuscitar os antigos guardiães do nosso modus vivendi? Aliás, o mais importante é achar novos, pois sem eles Goa nada será, e “por si acabará”, na frase algo apocalíptica atribuída a S. Francisco Xavier. E, há três quartos do século, que visavam os “Defensores da bandeira portuguesa em Bombaim”? São mistérios que nos desvenda John Menezes, no seu artigo bem documentado e com preciosos traços autobiográficos.

Temos a boa sorte de fazer parte desta Revista, que se esforça a ser também guardiã da cultura indo-portuguesa. Oxalá sempre seja bem compreendida pelos que detêm o poder e pelo povo em geral.

(Revista da Casa de Goa, Serie II, No. 24, Setembro-Outubro de 2023)


Cutting against the grain

We are living in difficult times, a far cry from when elders had the authority to correct youngsters. In the past, children weren’t pulled up by their parents alone; just anyone felt empowered to reprimand any erring person. There probably were abuses in this regard, but then, by and large, life was based on well-established rules, customs, traditions. This ensured a system of checks and balances among individuals or groups of people.

To say that it is easier said than done is to adopt the past of least resistance. We fail to notice how, on the other hand, forces of evil have long been proactive in toppling authority and ushering in a reign of unbridled freedom. It is by a “Revolution” such as this, as the Brazilian Catholic thinker Professor Plínio Corrêa de Oliveira prophetically describes in his book Revolution and Counter-Revolution,[1] that we have come to this pass. Relativistic thinking – the belief that there is no absolute truth, right and wrong, true and false, good and bad – has pulled the rug from under our feet.

Against this background, are we in a position to “warn the wicked to turn from his way” as in the First Reading (Ezek. 33: 7-9) God urges that Prophet of the Spirit of God to do? The wicked would quickly retort: ‘Who are you to admonish me? You may think you are right, but I too am right!’ This is the tenor of the times. Nonetheless, we ought to pay heed to God’s warning that the “wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.”

If the wicked do not change their ways, they shall die, whereas we shall have the consolation of having corrected them, and shall be saved. Let us therefore pluck up the courage to do our duty. The open secret is to act with tact and consideration; not out of self-interest, but out of love. It is quite another matter if our love and concern are misconstrued; others will always judge us by their standards, sometimes making grief the price we have to pay for the love we have shared. How many of you can relate to such a situation?

In what way do we express love? St Paul in the Second Reading (Rom 13: 8-10) says: “Owe no one anything, except to love one another… for love is the fulfilling of the law.” But again, what is this love? It is not amorous and sentimental love that is in question here but, rather, the love of God – the first of the Christian virtues which involves following His commandments. Which is where a secular or an atheistic society makes it fundamentally difficult for Christians to have a lucid notion of the divine order of things and follow it. Nowadays, it is more about pleasing ourselves than about pleasing God; and those who stand by Him are considered out of step with the times. A recipe for disorder indeed.

Disorderliness has been part of the human DNA ever since Original Sin; and the situation keeps getting worse every time we offend God. That is why, in a godless world, misunderstanding, anger, resentment, bitterness, hatred, friction and strife are widespread. Note the instances of cold war, not to speak of open criticism, badmouthing and even lawsuits between family members – instead of justice sought through the Church.

As the Gospel (Mt 18: 15-20) recommends, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” And there is a whole set of steps to be taken to reach the logical conclusion. And what Jesus further tells His disciples is sublime: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

All this calls for effort, dedication and care. Above all, it calls for prayer, for Our Lord has said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” It speaks volumes of the close connect between Heaven and Earth, of us as God’s children who He loves and cares for, and of the free will He has endowed us with. And “if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven,” is not business management or the product of our efforts, but divine management!

So, how does the life of an honourable person look like in our day and age? According to Professor Oliveira, he or she is often forced to keep “a disheartened silence – a sad condition: ‘Vae Soli’ (‘Woe to him that is alone’).”[2] For its part, society, by either overtly or covertly saying that God is dead, makes the confusion worse confounded. At any rate, while we put our hope and trust in God alone, we ought to persevere on our path of denouncing evil when we encounter it and promoting peace. If the Son of Man Himself was put to death, what more can we say about cutting against the grain?

[1] https://www.pliniocorreadeoliveira.info/UK_RCR.pdf

[2] Ibid., p. 58

God’s Spirit beckons

We are spirit and matter, and what really matters is the spirit. This is something the human race has been grappling with since its inception. Jeremiah and Job alike have addressed the issue, but it is only Jesus who provided the right answers, He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life!

The Book of Jeremiah, from which the First Reading (Jer 20: 7-9) is taken, catalogues the Prophet’s woes. It reads like a spiritual diary or confessions spanning the four decades (626 BC to 587 BC) of his prophetic tenure. He tells his countrymen in no uncertain terms that their Babylonic exile is a punishment, a consequence of their unfaithfulness by way of pagan worship.

But alas, none paid heed; they went on with their life, as though Jeremiah were a madman, a mere voice of dissent crying in the wilderness. This only goes to show that a man of God is not without his share of problems; he is at the receiving end of fellow humans and, at times, quite ironically, he feels forsaken even by God. Jeremiah was a man who cried his heart out, and is nicknamed ‘the Weeping Prophet’. For indeed, the greater his obedience to the task entrusted to him by God, the more he suffered.

You and I have also felt the same and in vain have we tried to make sense of it all, haven’t we? Oddly, Peter who had a little earlier recognised Jesus as the Messiah and Son of the Living God, is suddenly repulsed by the idea of His Master’s suffering and death – the first prediction of His Passion – much as you and I are baffled by those twin problems in our day and age. However, trust Jesus Christ to give us the right perspective. In today’s Gospel text (Mt 16: 21-27), He says: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (24-25)

The Jesuit Master and disciple

If back in Jesus’ time, his disciples stood bewildered, do you think that exhortation would go well with the materialistic world we live in today? Following Jesus is therefore no easy task – but, then, who on earth can give us a better way? It simply means we should be walking the proverbial narrow path – which is the only sure one after all! And to highlight his admonition, Jesus dismissed Peter as being a ‘tempter’, like Satan, a stumbling block on His path to the redeeming Cross. All that Peter should have done was faithfully followed the Master's directives; and we too should, for the stakes are high, as famously expressed by Jesus: “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”

So, it’s clearly a choice between this life and the next, between temporary successes and eternal loss. Centuries later, the Divine Master’s life-giving rhetoric is said to have clinched Ignatius of Loyola’s conquest of Francis Xavier’s soul. While at the renowned Sorbonne in Paris, the Basque youth was deeply in love with life and knowledge; he aspired to rise and shine in a boundless world of scientific advances and geographical discoveries. New avenues of learning in the fields of philosophy, poetry, art, political science, and so on, fostered a humanist spirit at the same time as it changed man’s relationship with God.

We who have recently witnessed Chandrayaan and other success stories, are we going to be so completely taken up by earthly promises that we let them eclipse our resurrection story? Let us not give into a romantic idea of life and forget that suffering is for real, for whoever dodges it will regret their folly. As a faithful people of God, let us heed St Paul’s powerful appeal in the Second Reading (Rom 12: 1-2): “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Whereas in Jeremiah’s time, the Jews were plagued by the Babylonians, in Jesus’ time it was the Romans that besieged them. On both occasions it was in retribution for pagan worship. And what of our time? Alas, we have embraced the ways of the world; we are ready to bow or bend over backwards to please earthly masters and idols. We have forgotten and offended God no end. Hence, the urgency of the Pauline call: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” That is the Life in the Spirit beckoning us!

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Governed by God

Countries today pride themselves on having governments ‘of the people’, but alas, they can’t hold a candle to what were once upon a time governments ‘by God’! Who can deny that governments inspired by the True God and upheld in Faith can better realise God’s kingdom on earth?
In the First Reading (Is 22: 19-23), look at how Shebna, the royal steward or prime minister in the reign of king Hezekiah of Judah, was ejected from office because of his pride. He was replaced by Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, an influential Hebrew priest. What better example can there be of political recall?
No doubt, many modern constitutions provide for recall, but very often the process is flawed. On the other hand, Isaiah tells us about how God intervened to provide quality governance for His people. It is a pity that we have lost our connection not only with our political leaders but with God Himself, who is undeniably the author of all that we have and enjoy.
In the Gospel (Mt 16: 13-20), we see how and why Peter was chosen to lead the flock. His name was Simon but Jesus called him Kepha (from the Aramaic, ‘rock or stone’) which in the Greek and Latin tradition translates as Petros/Petrus. He was the first disciple to express faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This was revealed to him by the Father in Heaven. Hence, although Peter was humanly imperfect and would thrice deny his Master, Jesus drew him into His inner circle.

That is to say, Jesus knew Peter, and vice-versa, and on that Rock He built His Church. That change of name indicates a mission was given to him, as happened to Abraham and Jacob. Come Pentecost, Peter overcame his faint-heartedness and began to preach boldly. He founded and led the churches of Antioch and Rome. And what a leader and first Pope he was – true to his faith and to his people; he did not gaslight the fledgling community but encouraged them, suffered and died for them, crucified upside down, in Rome, under Emperor Nero.
The uniqueness of our Holy Mother Church is that she is made up of sinners who have nonetheless been called to be followers of Christ! Or else, who would qualify? Such magnanimity is humanly incomprehensible; hence, St Paul, in the Second Reading (Rom 11: 33-36) observes: “Oh, the depths of the richness of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and how inscrutable His ways!”
More importantly, the greatest proof of the Church’s divine nature is the many storms she has withstood down the centuries. The same applies to the supremacy of the Petrine office as intended by Jesus. No human institution of that magnitude – if there is any other – would ever survive; but we have the assurance that “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” It is a very illuminating and comforting promise; it is also a matter of pride, but can we bask in Her glory and be complacent?
Not at all. No doubt, the Church will not die if we persist in our near-Faustian folly; we will. So, it is up to us to do whatever possible to help our community of faith. With the gathering clouds of suspicion and doubt within the Church (especially with Synodality, which is set to change the order of things), we have to pray for the successors of Peter to be faithful to Scripture and Tradition. And you and I, rather than focus on acquiring wealth, power, influence and success, we ought to see the futility of such aspirations.
Most importantly, Jesus’ forthright question “Who do you say I am?” is a call to get to know Him more closely. Only then we will work wholeheartedly for God’s Kingdom to be realised on earth, acknowledging joyfully: “For from Him, and through Him, and in Him are all things. To Him is glory, for all eternity. Amen.” This will open our minds and hearts to God, will let ourselves be governed by Him and be living signs of the presence of Jesus in the world.