Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Feast of St. Anne 08

The statue of St. Anne and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The relic of St. Anne is in the golden reliquary.

I'm not going to do into much detail about the Shrine of St. Anne, which is the premier Catholic Shrine in Malaysia. The past posts do it enough justice, I think.

My visit to the Shrine last year will give appropriate background and atmosphere. The Feast of St. Anne 07

The old hilltop Church of St. Anne, the Shrine Church

The new Church of St. Anne

The Stations of the Cross. The life sized stations are placed all around the Church grounds.
The Shrine Church. The Old Church of St. Anne. The High Altar and sides altars are still intact and Mass is still said there once a month.
The Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Beautiful, quiet and prayerful.
The Chapel of Reconciliation. The great grandmother of all Confessionals.


I'm going to relate the trip that 4 members of our Schola Cantorum made to the Shrine last Saturday to celebrate the Feast of St. Anne. We first attended a Mass said in Thai. Interesting. They knelt throughout the Eucharistic Prayer until the Per ipsum. Nice.


We then stayed back for rosary and novena to St. Anne followed by the 6PM Mass, which was the anniversary Mass of the dedication of the new Church. The Mass was said by His Lordship Bishop Paul Tan SJ, of the diocese of Malacca-Johore.



In what the parish priest Msgr. Stephen Liew termed a first for the Shrine, the Right Honourable Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng accompanied by the honourable Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam, Chong Eng and her husband and other members of the DAP entourage attended the Mass.


The Chief Minister was greeted by His Lordship Bishop Antony Selvanayagam of Penang and was accompanied throughout his visit by Msgr. Stephen Liew, the Vicar General and parish priest of the Shrine.


The Anniversary Mass of the dedication of the Church (which was performed by the then Apostolic Delegate to Malaysia His Grace Archbishop Adriano Bernardini) was said by the Jesuit Bishop Paul Tan of Malacca-Johore. It's nice of see the a Bishop observing the protocols such as wearing the simple mitre and the Roman skullcap.


The Mass was con-said by 3 other priests whose names and faces escape me at the moment. The Mass Ordinary, including the Credo, was competently chanted in Latin. The Missa de Angelis and Credo I were used.


The Bishop was ably assisted by his own Master of Ceremonies (the gentleman in black cassock and surplice) from Malacca-Johore. More about this in another post.


The Bishop preached a good and catechetical homily on how Mary treasured the various episodes of her life in corde sua as the Gospels attest.


The Chief Minister and his entourage left the Church after the very long Communion.


After that Mass, we adjourned outside for the main Feast Day Mass. The rain, which had earlier threatened the festivities, subsided, no doubt from the overwhelming impact of countless prayers. Large crowds started to gather in the open space in front of the Church.




Which swelled as the time got nearer for the Mass to begin. You can see the outdoor altar and the large screens set up for the people to follow the Mass.




The main 'sayer' of the Mass (you might have noticed I'm trying to kick the 'celebration' language and restore the terms 'saying Mass', and hence 'sayer' for celebrant and 'con-said' for concelebrated. I'm sure this phase will pass but till then, please bear with me as I'm trying to make a point.) was the Apostolic Delegate to Malaysia, His Grace Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, titular Archbishop of Montemarano. His Grace is also the Papal Nuncio to Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia and Apostolic Delegate to Myanmar, Laos and Brunei.


'Con-saying' the Mass with him were Bishop Antony Selvanayagam of Penang and Bishop Paul Tan SJ, of Malacca-Johore.


Msgr. Liew reminded the people of the great privilege of having the Apostolic Delegate, the personal representative of the Holy Father himself say the Mass for us. During his speech, Bishop Antony asked the people whether they respected, loved and prayed for our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to which the people, estimated to number 30,000 by the secular press, have hearty affirmative responses. The Bishop then asked His Grace to convey the love and prayers of the People of the Church of Penang to the Successor of Peter and Supreme Pontiff in effusive language and to particularly express him own personal communion with the Pope. I was stunned, to say the least, especially when the sentiment most often heard of Rome is that it is far away and never have I heard professions of obedience and fealty towards the Vicar of Christ.


Hi Grace, a jolly Neapolitan and native of St. Anne's parish in Naples preached a brilliant sermon on the place of the Blessed Virgin and St. Anne, noting that it was her upbringing that surely contributed to her fiat, her readiness to listen and to obey the Word of the Lord spoken to her and her being a model Christian and model disciple. He noted how images of St. Anne always depicted her as a mother teaching the child Mary with an open book, the Scriptures.

His Grace also spoke about families and how the main threat to society today is the disintegration of families. Archbishop Pennacchio then related how he himself was from the parish dedicated to St. Anne in Naples and how he longed to join in the celebrations back home. He had also heard of the great Feast in Malaysia and wanted to be present and now, after 5 years as delegate, was finally able to be here with us. Overall, it was a solid homily, something we sorely need more of.

Oh, yeah. His Grace sang most of the prayers, as it should be.


At the end of the Mass, His Grace delivered the Apostolic Blessing, in Latin. Nice!


The statue of St. Anne and the Blessed Virgin Mary were then solemnly crowned in the presence of the Bishops and the Apostolic Delegate.


After that, the procession began, amidst the flickering of candles, the 30 plus priests, Bishops and the Apostolic Delegate in tow.


His Grace was blessing the crowds as he passed.



The processional image of St. Anne and the Blessed Virgin. If you look closely, you can see that they have been crowned.




Our humility can be seen to the left of the image above, taken by Angela.




The sea of lights. I was moving around so you can see the size of the crowds.



The altar from above.




Till next year.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I was there

From the Star:

80,000 throng St Anne’s Feast

BUKIT MERTAJAM: The St Anne’s Church here was transformed into a fairyland of lights as devotees from all over the country and overseas took part in the annual St Anne’s Feast and candlelight procession last night.

The procession , the highlight of the celebration, was led by Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio at 10.20pm from the open-air mass stage near the old church before ending at 11.15pm.

Among the crowd of 80,000 people who attended the annual event, which began on July 18, at the church compound were parish priest Monsignor Stephen Liew, Bishop Anthony Selvanayagam and Bishop Paul Tan.

As the actual feast fell yesterday, there was only one candle procession held this year.

Church volunteers shouldered the statue of St Anne, the maternal grandmother of Jesus Christ, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, on a platform resting on two long poles as they circled the church grounds.

Pilgrims sang hymns during the procession, which saw altar boys carrying crosses, candles and banners while flower girls scattered petals on the ground.

Petitions and thanksgiving letters that were earlier laid before the statues of St Anne and Mary were later burnt as an offering to seek St Anne’s help to intercede in their prayers.

Candlelight procession: Devotees accompanying the statue of St Anne and Mary as the procession makes its way around the church grounds last night.

Earlier, the pilgrims made their way to the old church and the shrine of St Anne up on St Anne’s Hill to give thanks for prayers answered and to seek her help and blessings.

Among those who came to get the blessing of St Anne and Mary was housewife Phyllis Chandran, 39, and her husband V. Chandran who had been attending the feast for the past four years.

“Though my husband is a Hindu, he has faith in St Anne and that’s why he is here,” she said.

Christopher Felix, 42, a medical representative from Malacca, said he had been coming for the feast over the last 10 years.

He added that he make it a point to attend the feast each year to pray for good health, peace and prosperity.

Lim Ah Seng, 54, a self-employed from Singapore, said came to seek St Anne’s help to cure his cancer.

“I was told that my ailment can be cured if I drink the blessed holy water from the church,” he added.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A taste of their own medicine?

Cardinals and bishops attended a speech by Pope Benedict XVI in front of a huge crowd at the World Youth Day festivities (William West/AFP/Getty)

We are amused. =) One Pater and one Ave for the intention of the person who can rightly guess where the Holy Father was sitting.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

World Youth Day Opening Mass

Don't we all.

I want to join.

Cardinal Pell Kicks Off World Youth Day
Benedict XVI Sends Pilgrims a Text Message

By Anthony Barich and Catherine Smibert

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 15, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal George Pell gave a message of welcome and hope to an energized crowd gathered together for the opening Mass of World Youth Day.

Before the Mass got under way at Barangaroo today, the some 150,000 youth were greeted by warm weather in Sydney and a welcome event celebrating indigenous culture. And the young people got a text message from none other than Benedict XVI.

The Pope's message said: "Young friends, God & his people expect much from u, because u have within u the Father's supreme gift: the Spirit of Jesus -- BXVI."

After a 168-flag procession and the entrance of the youth day cross and icon, Cardinal Pell welcomed the international pilgrims in four languages.

His greeting was reciprocated with wild applause and accompanied by chants and cheers similar to those used for papal receptions. Cardinal Pell was joined by 26 other cardinals, 400 bishops, a 300-person youth choir, and an 80-piece orchestra. He had told members of the media earlier this week that he was looking forward to celebrating the biggest Mass of his life.

As the sun set over the western Sydney waterfront skyline, Cardinal Pell used the first reading from Ezekiel about the valley of dry bones to illustrate the promise of hope.

From a stage built of original Australian timber, the archbishop of Sydney talked to the youth about Ezekiel's presentation of the dead being preyed on by birds that had long since finished stripping off the flesh, in an "immense battlefield of the unburied."

Ezekiel, he noted, was urged by God to prophesy to these bones. As he did so, the bones "rushed together noisily, accompanied by an earthquake. Sinews knitted them together, flesh and then skin clothed the corpses." Then God breathed life into them and "a great and immense army" arose.

God of surprises

Cardinal Pell stressed that his first priority was not those who are already strong in the faith, but "welcoming and encouraging anyone, anywhere who regards himself or herself as lost, in deep distress, with hope diminished or even exhausted."

He affirmed that the causes of any personal wounds -- whether alcohol, drugs, family break-ups or even the loneliness of success -- were "quite secondary" compared to Christ's call to all those who are suffering.

"Christ is calling you home; to love, healing and community," he said. He encouraged hope for "all of you who are tempted to say 'our hope is gone, we are as good as dead.'"

"We Christians believe in the power of the Spirit to convert and change persons away from evil to good; from fear and uncertainty to faith and hope," Cardinal Pell added. "Our task is to be open to the Spirit, to allow the God of surprises to act through us. Whatever our situation, we must pray for an openness of heart, for a willingness to take the next step, even if we are fearful of venturing too much further.

"If we take God's hand, he will do the rest. Trust is the key. God will not fail us."

Referring to the second reading from Paul's Letter to the Galatians, Cardinal Pell urged the youth to avoid spending their lives "sitting on the fence, keeping your options open -- because only commitments bring fulfillment."

He said being a disciple of Jesus requires discipline, adding that while "self control won't make your perfect -- it hasn't with me -- [it] is necessary to develop and protect the love in our hearts and prevent others, especially our family and friends, from being hurt by our lapses into nastiness or laziness."

New Spirit

Earlier in the day, Cardinal Pell's auxiliary bishop, Anthony Fisher, spoke to ZENIT about the Mass and what the cardinal planned to say. He characterized the homily as particularly poignant for Australia.

Bishop Fisher noted that a literal interpretation of Ezekiel is apt for the nation, suffering a 10-year drought. But the message is more about a "people in decline," he said.

"The promise Christ makes of new life is for our culture, our country, the countries from which the pilgrims come, for those who are suffering and those youth experimenting in drugs," said bishop affirmed. He contended that the reading and the cardinal's message would give disaffected youth hope to get them over their fear, depression or anxiety.

He acknowledged that the homily would be challenging for the thousands of youth gathered Down Under, but he said its message for young people is that World Youth Day will offer Christ and his Church as hope for them.

"When they are feeling like dry bones, there is hope for a new Spirit, of new life for them," he affirmed.

Sydney's auxiliary bishop noted as well the historical significance of the Mass: Cardinal Pell carried the crosier of one of his predecessors, Cardinal Patrick Moran, Australia's first cardinal. He also wore the episcopal ring and pectoral cross of Archbishop John Polding, Sydney's first archbishop.

Looks like the Mass finished late =)

Kinda reminds me of the famous statue of the American soldiers raising the US flag on Okinawa during WWII.