Tomorrow Newspaper St Mary of the Angels
Issue No. 54 | March 2012
MICA (P) 010/09/2011
Building a Communion of Communities Cheryl Edina Teo reflects on St Mary’s Parish Assembly held on Feb 18 and invites all parishioners to join in the journey towards a church rooted in community.
s a parish of the third millennium, we should acquaint ourselves with what Vatican II actually teaches and put into practice,” said Parish Priest Father John-Paul Tan. “There is always what I call the challenge of the “new wine and old wineskin” situation. Meaning, the new wine of Vatican II – its vision and thrust – will always meet with the old wineskins of our mentality.” But as Fr John-Paul explained: “It is not insurmountable, but a concerted and right formation is necessary for people to accept these teachings. We cannot blame the failure of full implementation on the people if we are not responsible on our part to educate and articulate what is important for the life of the church today.” According to Keenan Tan, a youth in one of our church ministries, the parish assembly is “an important exercise to bring the Parish together so that we can start the journey in this new year together as a parish.” Not only was it an event for our parishioners to voice their opinions on the areas which the parish should place emphasis on, this year’s parish assembly was a very reflective one. The opening hymn, “We are called”, reminded us that, as Catholics, we are all called to “act with justice”, “love tenderly”, “to serve one another” and “to walk humbly with God.” Being Catholic does not mean coming to church on Sundays or being mere participants in ministries. We are all called to be part of the Church, the body of Christ, to work and serve one another with love and humility.
After an introduction by Shirley Leow, the chairwoman of our Parish Pastoral Council (PPC), Fr John-Paul addressed the group of some 300 parishioners present at the event. He noted that, currently, almost everyone present is in a ministry. However, he hopes that in 2014, everyone will also identify themselves with a Neighborhood Christian Community (NCC). Highlighting the importance of the meaning of Church, he pointed out that being a Church is “who we are, not what we do.” Philip Alvar, the vice-chairman of our PPC, also gave an overview of what was done and discussed in the past parish assemblies. It was pointed out that the idea of “community” has been prevalent since 2005. Director of the Youth and Young Adult Office, Ann Yeong, then guided us in an introduction of the necessity of being in touch with Vatican II – its pastoral nature, teachings, and the relevance and application in our world today. The idea of burning for Christ resonated strongly. Ann pointed out that every individual is like a coal. When a coal is taken out from the fire, it will be but a cold coal that will die out eventually. Like the coal, if we are alone without a community, we will be cold and hardened and our faith will not grow. However, when we are together with a community, like a cold coal is placed back into the fire with the other burning coals, our faith will be ignited and we will be set ablaze to continue burning. As St Catherine of Siena told us, “Be who God wanted you to be and you will set the world in fire.”
Fr John-Paul unveils the Parish Calendar 2012, and points the way forward in our journey towards a collaborative, community-driven church.
Ann reminded us that “faith is a relationship,” and therefore we “need to learn to grow” in this relationship. Like the heart, head and hands work together to carry out a task, it is only when our faith (our hearts) and knowledge (our heads) come together and is manifested in our deeds (our hands) that “we will be alive in Christ,” Ann noted. The participants of the parish assembly seemed very positive and supportive of the direction our church is heading towards. Along with the emphasis on Vatican II, it is hoped that every individual in our parish comes together as a community, as a Church. “We planned to celebrate this momentous event of Vatican II about one year ago and had
made preparations when Pope Benedict also issued an encyclical to encourage a similar celebration,” Fr John-Paul told Tomorrow newspaper. “Not many people realise, but Vatican II was a major event in church history. There are not many events that have changed the outlook of the church in such a significant way as Vatican II and the full implication of the vision is yet to be fully implemented.” “I would say that it would take a few more years but the point is not about arriving as that is very much in the hands of God,” he elaborated. “What we need to do responsibly on our part is to embark on this journey of renewal and formation and allow the hand of God to gently inspire and encourage transformation.”
I believe that as a parish, we will grow together and, with the help of the community, those who are confused and lost will gradually be able to grasp the concepts and ideas that were expressed. As Fr John Paul said, “we are not there yet, but we are on the way and so we have to enjoy the journey!” Indeed, the end may not be in sight, but as a parish journeying together, let us enjoy this journey. On the one hand, we can grow together in faith; on the other, we can also, with our faith, inspire others in their journey. “We need to slowly show our parishioners how exciting this vision is for the church that was put forward by the fathers of Vatican II,” said Fr John-Paul.
Vatican II still offers renewal for Church The ‘winds of change’ ushered in 50 years ago still invigorate people of God, says Fr Christian Buenafe, O Carm (UCANews.com, Philippines).
Safe Environment In Church Ministry By T h e C at h o l ic N e w s
he Archdiocese of Singapore has put in place a Professional Standards Office (PSO) for the purpose of fostering a safe environment for children and young persons and protecting them from sexual abuse and harassment. The primary focus of the PSO, which was set up on Oct 1, 2011, is to safeguard children. The archdiocese recently promulgated two documents with guidelines to a safe environment for our children and young persons. Entitled “Keeping Communion” and “Restoring Communion”, the documents are to assist all Catholic clergy, Religious as well as employees and volunteers of the Church, to adopt principles and behavioural standards for conduct when dealing with children and young persons. “Restoring Communion” is also a document of principles and procedures in responding to complaints of sexual abuse or harassment of a minor. It seeks to ensure a fair, accountable and transparent process to address any serious complaint. The guidelines promulgated by Archbishop Nicholas Chia are to ensure that everyone who participates in ministry in the Church can be helped to ensure a safe environment for our children. The guidelines include behavioural guides and principles for code of conduct as well as protocols for receiving complaints, if any. Work on developing guidelines for nurturing a safe environment began about one and half years ago and was further validated seven months ago when the Vatican asked bishops’ conferences around the world to submit guidelines for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors. The role of the PSO will be to assist all clergy, Religious, employees and volunteers in our parishes and diocesan organisations to provide safeguarding for our children. Protecting our children is the concern and responsibility of everyone in the Church and the PSO will help in the systematic implementation of the guidelines and promote them through education, training and briefings.
The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, or Vatican II, was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI on 8 December 1965. (Photo: mostholyfamilymonastery.com
he main call of Vatican II (1962-1965) is “aggiornamento” or renewal – the renewal of the Church. The pope called on the Church, the people of God, to open its windows wide for a “new wind” to enter and to pave the way for genuine transformation. There is supposed to be transformation in the Church’s theology, ecclesiology, sacraments, missiology, pastoral orientation and direction, social ministry, liturgy, formation of priests and the laity, social communication, unity with other Christian Churches, inter-religious dialogue, among others. But has the wind really blown? I was a young provincial boy in the southern Philippines when Vatican II first began to stir. From being an altar boy, I became a catechist and later an active organiser of basic Christian communities (BCC). The Church in Mindanao was serious in embracing the concepts of inculturation, inter-religious dialogue and the empowerment of the laity. The birth of the MindanaoSulu Pastoral Conference in the 1970s was a response to Vatican II’s call for renewal. The “apostolic Church” became a model of ‘being Church’ during those days. The life of early Christian communities described in the Acts of the Apostles inspired the BCC or the neighbourhood Church.
During my formation as a religious, I had the opportunity to immerse and integrate myself with various communities. I witnessed the emergence of BCCs that later became the foundation of the idea of priests as servant-leaders and of lay people’s strong participation in parishes and dioceses. The “new wind” refreshed the Church in the Philippines as seen by the active participation of the faithful in pastoral ministries and in the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church. In 1991, the Philippine Church affirmed Vatican II’s call for newness when the Church in the Philippines declared that it is a “Church of the Poor.” The “new wind” became the new Pentecost for Filipino Catholics. The Spirit that touched the apostles and Mary was the same Spirit that made Vatican II happen 50 years ago and made the Philippine Church follow the path of renewal during the Philippine Plenary Council 20 years ago. This year we mark the 50th anniversary of Vatican II. Can we now say that the Church has completely renewed itself? We are on the right path and the “new wind” continues to blow. In the Philippines, we continue to breathe it in and out of our lives as the people of God. Fr Christian B. Buenafe is the Commissary General of the Order of Carmelites in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
Youth & Young Adults Office
The Two Towers
Jane Tila Andy interviews Dominic Nalpon and Ryan Colond, two interns who are the pillars of the Youth & Young Adult Office (YYAO) at St Mary of the Angels.
Tomorrow: Hi Dom and Ryan, tell us more about yourselves. What three adjectives would best describe you or how would you describe yourself? Dom: I’m actually quite quiet, contrary to popular belief… I suppose there’s a lot more to me than most people know, perhaps more than even I know! Ryan: Mmmm… Passionate, counter-cultural and very tall. Tomorrow: What led you to become an intern in the Youth & Young Adults Office? Dom: God called, and I answered – to put it briefly. I did not want to take up this position, having interned in the parish before and knowing what the nature of the work was. But it kept nagging at me until I decided to take it up. I was fairly certain that this was not something I’d want to do; having seen what the previous YYAO interns had done and worked on, but God is a God of surprises. I thoroughly enjoy what I’m doing now, thanks to Ann (Director, YYAO), and the many opportunities that she gives me to truly spread my wings. It gives me great joy to see young people fall in love with Christ, and this is one of the places I get to see it happen – all in His time, of course. Ryan: Actually I am the pioneer batch of this particular program. I was working here formally as intern with Ann Yeong – the Youth & Young Adult Office Director. Closer to the start of my studies in university, I actually checked with Fr John-Paul whether I could continue working here and that’s when he offered this arrangement. Tomorrow: Are you involved in any other ministry apart from your work in the Youth & Young Adults Office? Dom: I’m currently the coordinator for the Confirmation Program under the Catechetical Office as well. Ryan: I am a catechist in the catechetical office involved in the Confirmation batch. However outside of the parish, I have got no time to juggle another ministry on top of my studies.
of my interests! It used to be a hobby but I haven’t been playing for about 5 years now due to knee problems, so I just watch football these days. I’m an avid Liverpool supporter! Ryan: Mmmm… Currently I find the most passion in watching people fall in love with God. As of now this is the greatest hobby! Tomorrow: That’s sounds very interesting! Ryan: It’s something that I have learnt to admire while working in the YYAO because it’s happening each day and if you’re more attentive to it, then you will see. It’s never ending and just whether people notice. As long as I am in relationship with God, He is always there. The matter is whether or not I am paying attention to see that actually He is always next to you. I have come to realise that through my one year here working with the Parish this has been most fulfilling. That is my current hobby. Tomorrow: That is very amazing. So, when I mention the name “Jesus”, what are the words or thoughts coming to your mind? Ryan: Saviour and Lover. Dom: They way He has changed my life is the first thing that comes to mind. When you have experienced the love of Jesus, there is absolutely no way that you would not desire everyone to experience it too! Tomorrow: Can you tell us a bit about your job scope? Dom: Pretty much anything and everything. [Laughs] I help to plan and coordinate events, retreats and formation programs for our youth. I write articles, do research, and assist Ann in whatever tasks she assigns me to do. Ryan: Similar to Dom, but mine tasks are more on the logistical support. Everyday the job scope changes but the one thing that is constant is discovering new ways to bring people to closer to Christ.
Tomorrow: What are you studying? Ryan: I am studying Life Sciences in National University of Singapore. Dom: I’m studying Management at SIM at the moment, looking to specialise in Information Systems in the near future
Tomorrow: Is there anything you find most challenging about your job? Dom: The work is never ending! It requires a great level of discipline to get anything done due to the many simultaneously-occurring tasks, and it isn’t an area of strength for me. The constant need for reliance on God in everything I do has never been clearer. Ryan: The Devil. All his evil ways to dishearten distract and confuse me from building God’s Kingdom.
Tomorrow: Can share with us about your hobbies and interest? Dom: I’ve recently started reading again, after an extremely long hiatus! Apart from that, I enjoy cooking (and eating)! Music is also a key area of interest and a hobby. I play the guitar and bass, and have unsuccessfully been trying to master the keyboard for quite some time now. [Laughs] Football, of course, is one
Tomorrow: Ok. What do you enjoy most or you find most rewarding about your job? Dom: The work is never ending! It is a reminder that our work here on Earth is never done, and it helps me to see that my labour is leading towards a greater cause – the fruits of which I may never see in my lifetime. Seeing young people fall in love with Christ is something that makes this job all the more rewarding.
Dominic (left) and Ryan have hit the ground running since starting their internship at St Mary’s.
Ryan: Most rewarding is working and serving others while being purified and formed. Tomorrow: What are some of your pet peeves? Dom: People leaving or taking things on or from my desk without informing me, bad grammar, and when people crowd me – I need my personal space to function well! Charity in all things, of course! Ryan: I hate last-minute work that could have been avoided. Tomorrow: What were your New Year’s resolutions? Dom: I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never really seen the point in trying to make a change or do something new just because it’s a new year. Shouldn’t it be done whenever necessary, and not just once a year?! Ryan: To grow closer in my relationship with God. Tomorrow: Ryan, it seems that you found something deep in Jesus. You want to share more about that? Ryan: For the longest time since 2003 I have always been active in ministry but when I left “Seeds of Faith”, which was the former youth ministry of the parish, I kind of lost something without realising what it was. That’s where there was a lack of personal
relationship with God and I never bothered to start again until last year when I joined the catechetical program. That’s where this new desire to fall in love with Him began. The whole of 2011 was just about falling in love with Jesus. By the end of last year, during my retreat in Catholic Spirituality Centre (CSC), I got to witness and encounter Him and that was the most rewarding part of the year for me. To actually have Him and show me who He is an amazing experience, especially since I was a person of doubts and was always sceptical on whether He truly exists. I mean I knew by head knowledge and that theoretically He exists and He is present in our lives, but to actually feel His presence and encounter Him brings a whole new perspective. Now, when I give catechetical sessions or programmes, it’s really coming from my heart rather than just my head. Tomorrow: Is there anything that you would like to change about yourselves? Dom: Nothing in particular at this moment... I’m rather content with how I am – for now. Ryan: I want to surrender more to Him because surrender of will tends to always lead me to what is most gratifying. I am discerning where my life should end up and I think surrendering to Him will be a good way to start.
4 The Knights held their recruitment drive over the last two weekends of 19 and 26 Feb.
Kevin Tomy, 18: “Serving on Good Friday for the first time.” Clerin Benjamin, 20: “Easter Vigil 2011! That was an experience of a lifetime.”
Service, Brotherhood, Sacrifice By Nic h o l a s S t e v e n L e e
ho are those boys, adorably dressed in white, who help priests during Masses? They carry incense, ring the bells, and above all, occupy precious seats of the Sanctuary during Mass – the closest that one can be to God! Meet the Knights Of The Altar. This ministry comprises youths aged nine to 24, and is anchored around its core values of Service, Brotherhood and Sacrifice. The Knights held their recruitment drive over the last two weekends of 19 and 26 Feb. Many would ask: “Why join the Knights? What is it all about?” Well, I recently hung out with some fellow Knights to find out more. Let’s see what they have to share. What Made You Want To Join the Knights? Philippe Elisan, 14: “It seemed exciting and cool. And also, my parents asked me to.” Rahul Xavier, 14: “It seemed fun. It also seemed like a great way to grow closer to God.”
Jonathan Wee, 24: “I remember seeing servers up there looking cool. Something just called me to serve and do more than just attend Mass.” How Has Knights Made an Impact in Your Life? Andrew Goh, 12: “Knights has made me realise that there will always be brothers to journey with in life. It also made me desire to serve God more.” Marcus Leong, 15: “It has helped me to step up and be responsible. Taking on a leadership role allowed me to improve my interpersonal skills. I’ve also been impacted to being a brother to my fellow servers.” Gregory Gunawan, 17: “It has deepened my relationship with God and has given me a new perspective on life. It has groomed me into a more spiritual person and taught me how to lead others not only through a leadership position, but through actions. Most importantly, it has taught me Service, Brotherhood and Sacrifice.”
Jonathan Liow, 16: “My brother, Benjamin, wanted to join. Although I was hesitant at first, I found it was meaningful and it gave me a greater understanding of the Mass.”
Kevin Devlal, 18: “Besides bringing me closer to God or making me more disciplined, Knights of the Alter has given me the platform to serve God and the church as a whole.”
Justin Cheong, 21: “The servers seemed to be the only attractive ministry for me. I wanted to be in a ministry to become close to God.”
Zachary Koh, 19: “The brotherhood that we call the Knights teaches us to accept diverse characters we meet across our years
in service. It calls for tolerance, patience, strength, and many other traits that can be nurtured. The guidance that every leader of this ministry prays for is a crucial step in improving his dedication to the ministry and his own faith.” What are the challenges you face as a knight? Jonah Ryan Lim, 13: “Learning to take on tasks that are for seniors, for instance, learning how to handle the Thurible.” Natanael Wijaya, 14: “Waking up for 7.30am Mass every week! However, it is great to serve this Mass, where I feel close to God.” Joshua Lee, 17: “To be able to balance between studies and the society.” What is your most memorable experience in Knights? Daichi Danial Tan, 12: “The “Beacons of Faith” camp in 2011.” Andre Chin, 15: “Planning this year’s recruitment drive.” Marcus Leong, 15: “Filming our promotional video on the song Cartoon Heroes. It was really fun, and the song was fitting for the society.” Zachary Leong, 17: “Fishing with my brothers.”
Being a part of the Knights of the Altar is very fulfilling. Not only do the boys feel satisfied, but also, parents of Knights also feel very happy by putting their child in this ministry. Some parents of Knights also share their feelings: Jillian Choong (Parent of Jonathan, Benjamin and Marcus Liow): “When my three sons decided to be servers, we were very happy that they can connect with God, serve and grow closer to Him. We knew we have to support them in this ministry. Thanks to them, we are always early for Mass. We also attend more Masses than before because they volunteered to serve those we did not go before. There is a strong sense of camaraderie and brotherhood among the servers. The seniors are dedicated to their ministry and are caring towards the younger ones. It has also made them more confident and developed their sense of responsibility and commitment.” Clarice Edwin (Parent of Zachariah Jia Min): “I’m proud to see Zachariah serving God. The society has taught him values, and nurtured him to be upright and moral. He has grown to be more caring and understanding. The Knights have always been good role models for my son in faith, and in society.” Rose Noronha (Parent of Ethan Noronha): “We feel proud to see Ethan being part of this ministry. Seeing him serve makes me feel very blessed. Joining the Knights has changed Ethan’s attitude towards church. He has become positive towards challenges, and grown to be more responsible. He is well taken care of by his seniors.” And there you have it – Knights of the Altar. It is evident that the Knights are passionate in serving the lord, and that the lives of the Knights, as well as their families, have changed through this ministry. On a personal level, I too, feel truly blessed to have served many years in this ministry. The experience of being a server is truly special, and it will be something that every server will remember for life.
‘Lo Hei’ and Good Cheer! By J o a n Yip. P h oto s by R o s e m a r y W o n g .
“I have grown to appreciate God and pray for His presence and guidance in my life.”
t was party time for the SMOTA Seniors as we had our Chinese New Year Celebration.
On 26 Feb, the catechists of St Mary’s tried a new approach in helping us reflect on our 7-month Confirmation journey with Christ. Instead of the usual lessons we have indoors, we took a walk to the Church of St Joseph (Bukit Timah). We were instructed to think about and reflect on the experiences we’ve had thus far, and the changes we’ve gone through in our journey of faith. It was a meaningful activity that helped us realise how much we have all grown after participating in Confirmation sessions for a year.
With lots of New Year wishes going round and members bringing in sumptuous dishes, the air was filled with love and good cheer. A pot of “Nonya Chap Chye” (Bana’s own recipe), fried rice cake cooked by Teresa Koh, a succulent pork knuckle, courtesy of Eric and Theresa… There was also “Bak Kua”, “Nonya Kuehkueh”, refreshing fruit dessert, delicious agar-agar and more members bringing in titbits and New Year goodies… How could we resist eating? But what’s a New Year Celebration without “Lo Hei”? Members gathered around a big dish of “Yu Sheng” (raw fish) and not forgetting the loving providence that God has been generously giving us this whole year, we said a special prayer to flavour the “Lo Hei” during the Chinese New Year. Then amid the noisy chatter of New Year wishes, we tossed and prayed for another good year with the Lord. When enjoying the sumptuous food and good fellowship we also settled down to spiritual reflection. Each member picked a “Hong Bao” (red packet) which contained a scripture verse. After reflecting on the verse, each member shared his inspiration from the verse. The sharing was inspiring and enlightening; sometimes humorous but most of all refreshing. We praised and thanked the Lord for this “enriching and deep sharing”, as one of our members called it. And indeed, we have come to know and
On a Journey with God
understand one another more and better. Leo, a pioneer member of SMOTA Seniors’ group, will be going home to India. While on holiday here, Leo had been attending and contributing to our meetings regularly. We had a little gift for him in appreciation for all his support and warmly invite him to join us when he comes back again. Seniors love games. So games we had! ‘Throw-a-coin’ needed good aim. And ss the fun progressed, the cheeky side of the Seniors started to surface! “We are getting younger and younger!” Teresa remarked. And so we are! One of the games was Thread-a-Bead: “It’s a big wooden bead with a large hole. That should be easy, eh!” But, was it?
As the game progressed – “Silence! Full concentration!” The ‘thread’ felt like a rope! Fingers were a bit clumsy but we made it with determination. What joy! ‘Passing-the-hong bao’ came with a forfeit – juggling with three oranges. It was hilarious watching how each one tried to juggle, but Teresa Chong surprised us as she deftly juggled the oranges. What a fine performance! We were impressed. Remember: we are Seniors after all!
These seven months have really been fulfilling for me. I have had the opportunity to forge close friendships with people who share common interests; I was also able to learn more about God and develop a closer relationship with Him. These valuable new friendships have definitely helped me to grow in my faith. I have grown to appreciate God and pray for His presence and guidance in my life. More importantly, the Confirmation classes are engaging and effective in preparing the cohort for Confirmation this year, and the catechists friendly and approachable. I pray for all the Confirmands this year – May their faith be strengthened, and their journey of faith continue even after Confirmation. – Marissa Foo “It was as if He would always know what we are thinking, and He wouldn’t disappoint us.” They say, “God always is, and in everything.” This trip showed us, the Confirmands, that.
After more games and more prizes were won (and more naughty streaks were showing up among the members), the party ended with a game of ‘Bingo’, which Rosemary won by completing a full house in the game!
Some 120 Confirmands took a two-hour trek from Church of St Mary of the Angels to Church of St Joseph, and were allowed to admire both nature and the smart works of Man. Most importantly, we were given time off from our mundane routines to be able to appreciate and seek God.
What a party! We look forward to a new, fruitful year.
Before we set off from the church, the facilitators told us the objectives and dictated a few questions for us to reflect on throughout our walk. It was supposed to be a silent journey, so as to be able to focus on looking out for things that represented God. Although we tried our hardest not to, distractions came up and most of us had at least once whispered a sound. The sun was at its highest and in lieu of the sweltering heat, I was sure everyone else were complaining about the weather. But God didn’t let us down, He never did. He brought on sudden gusts of wind and a drizzle, and before anyone could make a complaint about getting their hair wet or not having an umbrella, it ceased. That was where I found God most prominent. It was as if He would always know what we are thinking, and He wouldn’t disappoint us even if we ourselves couldn’t see that it was for our own good. He was everywhere, from the ‘Watch Out For Vehicles’ signs to the leaves scattered on the ground. He is our creator. Everything we have now would not have been here if it weren’t for Him. Trust in God, love Him and keep your faith. – Nicole Dionne Galang
Parish Assembly 2012
T c t P 2
The Luminaire team captured and shares the highlights of Parish Assembly 2012 held on Feb 18!
Come Away, Search Within, Rest... By D o mi n ic N a l p o n
he moment I stepped into the room and saw the first image hanging before me, I knew this was something different. I have been for photo exhibitions where the photographer attempts to capture the moment and the emotions of the scene, and those are usually great exhibitions. Djoni Sutanto’s exhibition at CANA was a different experience altogether. The photographs chronicle the lives of monks and nuns from the Rule of St Benedict from seven monasteries in Australia, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines – not in the usual capturing of their daily life and activities, but an inside look into the heart of their monastic tradition. With these photographs, Djoni paints a picture of the life he experienced as he lived among them, and his journey into self-awareness and his encounter of God. He makes no attempt to bring you on his journey; rather, he leads you on your own journey by sharing his. As I slowly made my way through
the exhibition, I felt as if I was there – at the various monasteries in the region, in the quiet chapels, in the dining room, in the open fields; in the silence and solitude of that quiet room at Waterloo Street, I experienced the profound presence of the Living God. Thomas Merton, the 20th Century mystic who wrote extensively on silence, solitude, and contemplative prayer, said this of solitude: “… It is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labour that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfilment whose limits extend to infinity.” The paradox of action without any movement, great rest in labour, clear sight in darkness, and an infinite fulfilment beyond all human comprehension succinctly encompasses the mysticism of the monastic tradition of the Church, a tradition almost as old as Mother Church herself. St Augustine of Hippo said in his Confessions that “to fall in love
with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him, the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.” Many set out to seek God in their lives. In the silence and solitude of the monastic life with no external distractions, they not only find Him but fall in love with Him as well. But Silence and Solitude are no easy strangers to befriend. They stir and upheave the darkness that we have long struggled to keep buried; the darkness within that we try to hide from. They allow the redeeming
light of God to shine on the darkness until it is dark no more. They make us stare at ourselves and acknowledge that this is who we are. They bring us to the realisation that our hearts are truly restless until they rest in God, as St Augustine said. And when all of that has been done, they bring us to Him – He who lives within; He who always has been there; He who will always be there. I invite you to “Come away, Search within, Rest…” and befriend
Silence and Solitude. May you experience, just as I did, the profound presence of the Living God in the simple way of life of they who treat all as Christ Himself. Due to the positive feedback, the exhibition will re-run (for Lenten quiet time) on the following dates: Mar 27 (Tue) – Apr 4 (Wed), 11am 9pm, closed on Apr 1 (Sun) Conversation with Djoni Sutanto: 7:30pm (weekdays), 3pm (Sat).
By J o s h ua M a r k T e o h
In his Lenten Message for 2012, Pope Benedict XVI wrote of the need to “reflect upon the very heart of Christian life: charity” during this season of prayer, fasting and alms-giving. How often do we, as Christians, think about charity? When we look around us (and look carefully), we see so much poverty around us. People in today’s society are poor even though they may appear rich. The Missionaries of Charity live by a simple motto, just 2 words uttered by Jesus on the Cross: “I Thirst”. Recently, I paid a visit to the Missionaries of Charity here in Brisbane (there is a community of 4 nuns here), and one of the Sisters explained to us that the motto “I Thirst” meant more than just the physical thirst for water. No doubt, there are many people out there who are desperately in need of fresh water, and as the Christian Missionaries that we all are, we are called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the wounded, and support the weak. But for most of us who live in a society that is relatively affluent, we do not often see many people in need of such help. The Missionaries of Charity take the phrase to mean a thirst for Christ, a thirst to know God. There are so many people out there who have achieved all that they need on a material level – affluent jobs and comfortable lifestyles – but many aren’t able to find the missing piece of the jigsaw of their lives. There is a gaping hole in our lives that we are struggling to fill. Some think the missing piece is money, others the desires of the flesh. What Catholic Missionaries all over the world have been trying to tell us through the ages is that the missing pieces of the jigsaw are Truth and Love – in other words, God. Every month, Fr Erbin Fernandez, the Catechetical Coordinator of the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore runs Eucharistic Adoration for Children. Parents and on-lookers alike are constantly amazed at how these young and usually restless children are able to be still and quiet for an hour before the Blessed Sacrament. The young ones kneel, sit and sing at appropriate times and are mesmerised at being in the presence of our Lord. Children have a thirst for God: a thirst that is strong enough to quieten them; a thirst that is quenched by the Most Holy Blessed Sacrament. Sr Frances, a Verbum Dei Missionary from New South Wales, said: “youth are looking for truth. Youth want truth. And that is what the Church should be giving them, instead of loud music and jumping around.” Perhaps that is what the Church here in Australia focuses on, but it seems even that kind of thing seems like it is dying. There is a growing number of youth (at least in Brisbane) who realise that the singing and dancing at youth group meetings is good, but not good enough. More and more youth seek other forms of spiritual input, from Eucharistic Adoration to attending talks and retreats to attending ProLife activities around the country. The thirst for Christ is prevalent among the youth, and they are coming to thirst for more than the youth set-up can give. Many adults find ways to fill silence. They find any and every opportunity to fill their lives with noise. An experiment by a Benedictine Monk (which was turned into a Documentary series by the BBC: The Big Silence) brought five people of various religious and social backgrounds to a monastery for a weekend of silent meditation, followed by an 8-day silent retreat at St Byno’s Retreat Centre in Wales. The results of the experiment showed that people find it difficult to enter into silence, but (as the Sisters of Life tried to tell participants at WYD’11) it is in the silence that God speaks. The participants found themselves extremely happy with their experiences, even though most found it difficult to integrate silence into their everyday lives. Nonetheless, the experiment showed that we need God in our lives, and there is a thirst for God regardless of where we are in life (i.e. our social status, age etc.) Mother Teresa said: “Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.” This Lent, let us turn our focus to the people in our lives that are thirsty – for truth and love. Pope Benedict said that when we fast, we realise our own hunger for God. In our fasting, let us remember Christ’s words on the cross: “I Thirst”, and let us not be like the Roman Soldier, who offered Jesus a sponge soaked with vinegar. Rather, let us offer the blood of Christ, which was poured out of love for us, for the forgiveness of sin. Peace, and have a blessed Lent.
God’s extravagant love By A n n e Lim
he seminar, God’s Extravagant Love (GEL), introduced participants to the Franciscan “theology of the heart”. Presented by Sisters Pat Smith and Ann David, OSF (Sisters of St Francis of Philadelphia), the weekend programme began with a lecture on Friday, 17 Feb. This was followed by two full-day sessions at the FMM House of Prayer at Holland Road. God’s Extravagant Love attracted about 55 participants for the full seminar, while about 100 people attended the introductory talk. GEL is about seeing through the lens of Saint Francis of Assisi, who “was very much in touch with the extravagant love of God poured into his life,” explained Sr Pat. At the talk held at St Clare Hall at Church of St Mary of the Angels, the presenters highlighted the “servant leadership” of Francis – one that flowed from his being a passionate follower of Christ. The audience was given insights into how Francis’ leadership was “Gospel-centred and rooted in ‘who one is’ or being, rather than doing or achieving. Francis was a model for living a life with passion, based on love, especially in “reverencing” the little person (the poor, the marginalised) and in obedience to God. Through the multi-media of images, stories, poems, songs, and the words of Franciscan scholars, the Sisters presented an overview of the Franciscan Theological Tradition. This worldview included the Primacy (centrality) of Christ, the Goodness of Creation and the Dignity of the Human Person. Opportunities for participants to reflect on their own learnings through exercises and small group sharing were also provided. Oh Chong Ho, a parishioner of Church of the Holy Family, was inspired by the Franciscan
teaching that God is “All Good” and that “I am His Beloved”. He felt that, by “dwelling on our sinfulness and God’s displeasure,” our church today is at risk of turning away the younger generation in particular. The seminar raised questions like: “Would God have sent Jesus even if there were no Adam and Eve? What kind of God would become incarnate?” According to the Franciscan tradition, “the Incarnation is not a consequence of sin,” revealed the Sisters. God chose to give us “both Creation and the Incarnation,” as a “free and generous expressing of divine love and goodness.” Bee Liang, from the parish of St Mary of the Angels, said: “The idea that it was God’s plan right from the very beginning, for Christ to come, whether we are sinners or not, makes me feel more of a a ‘worthy’ person… worthy of my Creator’s love. And in feeling so, I would naturally want to love more and to spread this love.” Anne Lee, another parishioner of SMOTA, was “expecting a new sense of what ‘extravagant’ means” but it was not forthcoming. She expressed disappointment that the seminar did not challenge participants at a deeper level, to help them “connect the realities of our world, all that senseless suffering, with God’s extravagant love.” The seminar also shared insights about the Goodness of Creation, in the spirit of Francis, who taught that we are “to be in relationship with all Creation” as family, as brothers and sisters. On the Dignity of the Human Person, it was revealed that God “desires the love of the human heart” and knowledge of this “simple and staggering truth” shows how much we are valued by God.
The Keys to Media and Parenting
By Peter Hong
Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media by Eugene Gan ($18.90) Franciscan University of Steubenville Professor Eugene Gan authors this first-of-its-kind Catholic roadmap for the digital age – “Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media”. He navigates faithfully through the digital world, encouraging frustrated parents not to throw out cell phones, ban the Internet, chuck computers or pitch portable media devices. That would be a mistake and believe it or not would be going against more than seven decades of Catholic teaching. From Church documents on social communications, Gan extracts seven principles or media keys of how to approach and use media. Gan offers chapter after chapter of real-life experience of how to assess movies games and gadgets for you and your teens. Of how to judge the merits of a film like ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and what sets it apart from ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’. Can the one be acceptable viewing and the other not? Definitely. And Gan details why. Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media is way out front of the newest gizmo and will stay there thanks to its timeless principles that can be applied in all digital terrain now and the future. Parents, educators and students will put this book down with an entirely different attitude about the relationship between faith and media use.
“Bloom where you are planted” By C a r o l S e o w - L e e
henever I see a beautiful pot of flowers in full bloom, I am reminded that this would be something unattainable for me in my own garden. I know enough about gardening that for continual and healthy blossoming of flowering plants, it would need to be fed with the right type of fertiliser, have sufficient sunlight and to be provided a consistent tender loving care (TLC) routine. Oh well, I think an annual trip to the nursery for those one-time blooms to last beyond the festivities would be the only consistent routine I can handle!
So where can we find our blessings in times like these? Not in material things, but in our spouse, our children, our parents and people whom we cross paths with. We all have had our fair share of disappointments in life – from a less than desirable childhood, through hurtful relationships and eventually the pressures of our adulthood… times when we wished we could be in a different place or sometimes more drastically, in a different family. But we must remember that we have been “planted” exactly where God wants us to be, using our experiences to share and help each other “bloom”!
We all know that plants absorb nutrients and water from the soil to grow well and yet some ecologists will agree that plants do ‘feel’ or sense the surroundings and react to various different factors to decide when they feel good and the right time to grow or bloom!
One parent recently shared in our Lenten Reflection that it is through difficult and hard times – times of loss and pain – that she finds peace and comfort in her faith. It is in times like these that she feels God more closely in her life. This sense of peace in turn reflected to her children, who then grew interested in what it was that upheld her.
To say the least, in the same way, humans, too, react to influences, situations and people around us. All must agree that when things are not going the way we want it to or when life dishes out obstacles in our way we do find it hard to be chirpy and cheery about life. But whatever circumstances we may be in at different stages of our lives, we must know and remember that God has always wanted to give abundant blessings to us – “The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us” (Psalm 67:6).
We will always be blessed wherever we may find ourselves “planted”. We may have wondered, “Can life ever be a bed of roses?” Well, maybe if we all strive to draw from our surroundings, finding the good in each person or each situation and never letting the bad overcome the good, perhaps then life could become one big and beautiful bed of roses stretching across miles. Let us flourish in our lives and our mission, as parents, to become fine examples of our God’s untiring and consistent TLC.
“It’s Only a Tattoo” and Other Myths Teens Believe: A Parent’s Response Handbook by Ron Luce ($25.90) From “What to do if there is a wall between you and your teen” to “What to do if your young person is contemplating suicide,” this book covers the gamut of issues that teens and their parents face and gives practical, Biblical answers to these situations. Author Ron Luce is the President and Founder of Teen Mania Ministries, a Christian youth organisation that reaches millions of young people worldwide. All featured books are available at Wellsprings Catholic Books or at the bookcart at the Piazza.
Infant Baptism Welcome to the St Mary’s family! Please pray for these newly baptised! • Aurelia Joi Koesbianto • Averild Heloise Hildegard SngBeth Neo Yu En • Clara Choo Yue Xuan • Christel Chan Ying Sik • Gabrielle Ong Kai En • Jerome Tan Chee Yung • Joachim Lewis Miranda Niduaza • Luke Ho Zhong Ren • Melody Elizabeth Sim • Rainier Laurence Francisco Tubongbanua • Francesca Gaby Madarang Fajardo • Poliran Ethan Kole Novo
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Christian Lim Xian Yi Thaddeus Co Jin Wei Ava Lim Antolin Acuna III Aloysius Lee (Li Shihan) Cruz Colby Cristobal Cheryl Faustina Morier Evan Tan Jing Kai (Chen Jingkai) Francesca Gail Masing Nimer Dia Miel James Pascual Olrick Xian Garro De La Cruz Sheryna Vlady Casapao Garces Christopher Gail Eng Kah Soon Arthur Gabriel Wiranata Dylan Lewis Eaton
I can do it! Lent is a 40-day-period before Easter and it started from Ash Wednesday. This reminds us of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. After the fasting, there came the devil to test Him, but at the end
Jesus could conquer all the tests. The devil then left Him. 40 days may seem so long for us and during
this period, we might be tempted too. What temptations could we have as children? Think of our manners! Sometimes we can easily misbehave – throw tantrums, act rudely, and many more –
or sometimes we forget our duties to study, to pray, to go to church, or to help others. What are
we going to do then? Jesus is the inspiring role model for us in dealing with all the tests in our life.
He gives us the strength to do all the good things. Let’s show more respect and care to our parents,
family, teachers, and friends; talk and act gently to them. Play is one of the most favourite things
for children. Yes! You do need time to play, but not too much because you also need time to study, do
a rl i n a M ny Len
LIVING THE WORD
your work, and of course, time to pray! A simple prayer each day is a good start or you can also pray the “Our Father” that Jesus taught us. Don’t forget to join your family to attend Mass. By doing all these, you are pleasing God. Can you? Yes, you can do it, because Jesus is always there to guide you.
“So it is proof of God’s own love for us, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.”
Lenten Crossword Puzzle Re ad the clues carefully and solve the Lent crossword puzzle! 1
— Romans 5:8
PRAYER Across: 2. There are _________ stages at the Stations of the Cross. 4. This day marks the beginning of lent (2 words). 5. The crowd waved this branch at Jesus when He entered Jerusalem. 6. The devil tempted Jesus to turn _________ into bread when He was fasting in the wilderness. 8. Liturgical colour of Lent.
Down: 1. A place where Jesus was fasting for 40 days. 3. Lent is a good time for us to grow more in _________ life. 4. Giving _________ to the needy. 7. 40-day period before Easter. 9. Jesus gave His life to save us because of His unending _________.
Answers: Across: 2. Fourteen, 4. Ash Wednesday, 5. Palm, 6. Stone, 8. Fourteen. Down: 1. Desert, 3. Prayer, 4. Alms, 7. Lent, 9. Love.
Lord, the lov ing Father, You send Je sus to save us. Thank you for your unending love. Help me to follow your way and te aching diligently e ver yday in my life. Make me grow in prayer, e specially during this Lent se ason. Amen.
Why did He choose to live in this somber and ambivalent environment for 40 days? And if these conditions weren’t bad enough, the devil was also present to tempt Jesus. As such, can one possibly find goodness in a desert?
By C h r is to p h e r C h o k
The simple answer is yes, it is indeed possible to find goodness in a desert. While the desert may seem to be a place of emptiness, it is also a perfect place for introspection and quiet contemplation. And while there’s really nowhere to run and hide in the desert, this only leaves us open and vulnerable to God. Isn’t it funny how we try to desperately cling onto some earthly form of refuge during moments when we are actually being exposed to God, the manifestation of love?
esus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. (Luke 4:1-2) This photo was taken in December 2011 during my arduous journey towards the Grand Canyon. As you can see from the picture, the roads leading up to the
magnificent canyon was far from breathtaking. On the contrary, the vast emptiness of the mundane desert began to affect me in quite a negative manner. Driving on such road conditions was a pain! It was bumpy, uncomfortable and extremely hot. Ever so often I found myself intending to make a U-turn, tempted to abandon this horrendously painful trip and drive back to civilization. Suffice to say, the desert left a very bitter (and sandy) taste in my mouth.
Deserts can be so intimidating. The nothingness of it all can be quite unsettling. Standing alone in a desert leaves you feeling incredibly vulnerable; everything is so open and there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. You suddenly feel so small and insignificant; in contrast to the acres and acres of sand, rocks and cactuses, you seem like a speck of dust. Why then did Jesus put himself through such an experience?
A few weeks ago, having had ashes placed on our foreheads, we began our Lenten journey. Fasting, abstinence and almsgiving took center stage. But Lent is essentially a period of spiritual dryness, a journey through an intimidating spiritual desert as well. Fasting and abstinence slowly become twin pillars for self-discovery and self-actualisation; we begin to see the importance of God in our fragmented and broken lives. In the Bible, we see three very poignant phrases said by Jesus during His temptation by the devil: “Man does not live on bread alone”, “Worship the Lord your
God and serve him only” and “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Luke 4:4, 8, 12). Let us then allow these phrases to become the foundation of our strength and the source of comfort in our Lenten journey. Let these Biblical verses permeate our beings and guide us through our personal struggles and our individual spiritual deserts. After all, the sacrifices we make during this Lenten period only make the ending point of our journey even more meaningful: Easter. Akin to the challenging spiritual journey towards Easter, my grueling expedition towards the Grand Canyon paid off immensely in the end. The hours of discomfort was all forgotten when I saw the amazing grandeur of the canyon. It was majestic. It was overwhelming and it was so beautiful. My senses were heightened and I was moved by God’s grace. During a recent Skype chat, a very close friend of mine, Gregory Gunawan, mentioned to me that “the awesome time is here again”, alluding to the period of Lent. I cannot help but agree. And with that, I pray that your journey towards Easter leaves you feeling awed by God’s majesty. I pray that the overwhelming knowledge of God’s mercy and forgiveness surrounds you with love. And I pray that this Lenten journey becomes a meaningful and memorable experience for you and your family.
“And a Cloud Came…” Valentine Liew from the Luminaire team reflects on Mark 9:2-10. “And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him’.” Even from the cloud, Peter, James and John got a “glimpse” of the glories of heaven and of the resurrected body of Christ which God the Father promised to all Christians. From the shining cloud came the voice of the Father who strengthens the sacraments of faith to all who believe in God. We are the sharers of that glory and that voice from the “cloud”.
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