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Make loving others second nature

Archbishop Joseph Harris crowns a statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary at the Our Lady of Montserrat RC Church, Tortuga. Parish priest Fr Jose Marie Thekkikutte looks on. Photo: Elmo Griffith

Do you want to know how to love as Christ loved and put others before yourself? Turn to His mother, Mary. This was the message given by Archbishop Joseph Harris at Our Lady of Montserrat RC Church, Tortuga last Sunday at a Mass to end the parish’s Novena to Our Lady of the Rosary.

Preaching the homily, the Archbishop said “Devotion to Mary is ensuring that Mary teaches us how to love as she taught Christ how to love … Humanly speaking, Jesus was the person He was because Mary taught Him. Mary taught Him to walk, Mary taught Him to pray and Mary taught Him to think of others before He thought of Himself. If Mary taught Jesus, she could teach us …we ask Mary to teach us how to love God as she taught her son, Jesus, how to love.”

He said the Commandments are summed up in putting God first and loving your neighbour as Christ loved. Thinking of others before ourselves could include not being able to have our favourite part of the chicken during a meal, or telling a waitress she forgot to bill for an item ordered at a restaurant.

The latter was a testimony from the Archbishop of an incident when he was taken by a group to a restaurant during a recent visit to the United States. He said most would say not being billed was a stroke of luck but that, he said, is thinking of ourselves first. Thinking of the other would be to remember that the money would be taken out from the waitress’ salary.

It all begins with proper parenting, Archbishop Harris suggested. “We have to teach our little ones to think of others before they think of themselves; to put the good of others before they think of themselves …” Practicing this, he said, would allow for peace and harmony and the building of the kingdom.

He also spoke of the state of the nation. “My dear sisters and brothers, Trinidad and Tobago is in a mess, we all know that. Every time you open the papers if it’s not murder it’s allegations of corruption, public theft – a whole host of things. What does that say? That as a people we’re thinking of each other before we think of ourselves?”

He continued, “Thinking of the other and loving as Christ loved is a habit. Habits are built by repeated action. If we want to be defined as authentic disciples, the habit that has to define us is the habit of loving as Christ loved… The habit of thinking of others before we think of ourselves, so that it becomes second nature.”

He reminded those gathered, “You have come to the end of your novena to Our Lady of the Rosary and that says that you have decided to take Our Lady as the model for your lives. Our Lady is called the first of the disciples and all of us, baptised and confirmed, are disciples of the Lord Jesus and disciples are those who take the mission of Jesus as their own.”

On each evening of the novena, which began October 19, faithful visited one of the parish communities -– Caratal, Corosal, Gasparillo, Guaracara, Mayo, Piparo and Tortuga – where Marian devotions were done, and parish priest Fr Jose Marie Thekkikutte MSFS celebrated Mass.

After last Sunday’s Mass, parishioners prayed the rosary during a candlelight procession through the village streets. – A parishioner