Friday, September 26, 2008

The Catholic Church and denominationalism or the supposed lack thereof

Dear Anonymous Non-denominational friend,

Mahalo for commenting and coming back. Firstly, the Church, the Body of Christ, has history, meaning there were other Christians and the was a Church between your time and Jesus. The followers of Christ were known as followers of The Way (Acts 24:14) before finally being called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). Soon, heretics and schismatics arose, sowing dissension in the Church and thus, very early on, before the days of St. Ignatius of Antioch in the year 100AD, the Church applied the name Catholic to Herself, to distinguish Herself from all the other heretics and schismatics claiming to be followers of Christ.

Catholic, from the Greek word meaning universal, is actually an attribute of Christ’s Church. It’s one of the Four Marks of Christ’s True Church which He established. The others are One (as the Church is the Bride of Christ, She is One), Holy (being agios or set apart), Catholic [meaning encompassing all Christians, on Earth (the Church Militant, still running the race), in Purgatory (the Church Suffering, being purified of the temporal effects of sin) and in Heaven (the Church Triumphant) and over all the world and all ages and times, and Apostolic, having been founded by one of the Apostles of Christ Jesus whom He commanded to preach the Gospel. Remember this point, it’s important and we’ll be coming back to it. Christ founded His Church, it is a divinely instituted community. And the Church is One.

Over the years, various people have broken away from Christ’s Catholic Church. Even in New Testament times, there were followers such those of as Nicolaites named in Rev 2:15. These groups bear the names of their founders (such as the Lutherans or Calvinists), their peculiar practices (such as the Methodists and the Baptists) their geographic location or nationality (such as the Anglicans), their form of government (such as the Presbyterians and Episcopalians) and what not. Some call their newly minted foundation the Church of Christ, the Assembly of God or whatever. But in the end, everyone knows that they were not the Church Christ founded as they lack one or more of the identifying Marks of the Church. Most of all, they are not Apostolic but founded by men long after the time of Christ. Their beliefs also differ greatly with the recorded beliefs and practices of the earth Church. Read the Didache for example, the earliest Christian manual from the first century.

The closest group to the Catholic Church are those Churches known as the Oriental Orthodox or Eastern Orthodox Churches which separated themselves from the Catholic Church very early on starting from the Council of Chalcedon in 451 and the Schism of 1054 respectively. Though some, like the Oriental Orthodox, which have been separated from the Catholic Church over Christological issues for more than 1500 years, still maintain the three-fold ministry of bishop, priest and deacon, have a great veneration of the Blessed Virgin, believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, call their priests father, use images and icons in their worship and acknowledge the primacy of the Bishop of Rome amongst all the Bishops. This testifies to the great antiquity of certain practices that come under criticism.

And then, there are some from the free churches, the spiritual descendants of the Protestant groups above who broke away from the Catholic Church. Because of their protests against the Church, they were called Protestants. This is a historical fact. Within this group, a sub-species arose, the non-denominational denomination. But it’s a denomination nonetheless.

One cannot just found a Church based on a manual, no matter how inspired and say ‘Hey, we’re Christ’s Church.’ It just doesn’t work like that, for obvious reasons, one being authority, and remembering Christ founded His own Church (singular). He most certainly did not say to people down to centuries to found their own churches and dissent from the Church he founded. The Church is the Bride of Christ. What would you call a Bridegroom with many brides?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Pope in Albano

With all the recent apologetics posts, I thought some of you readers would like to view some eye candy and be enlightened by the words of the Vicar of Christ instead.

From the Vatican Information Service:


VATICAN CITY, 21 SEP 2008 (VIS) - This morning the Pope celebrated Mass and dedicated a new altar at the cathedral of San Pancrazio in Albano, a town near his summer residence of Castelgandolfo.

In his homily Benedict XVI spoke of "the love of Christ, charity 'which never ends'", which is "the spiritual energy that unites all those who participate in the same sacrifice and who draw nourishment from the one Bread, broken for the salvation of the world.

"Is it in fact possible", he asked, "to communicate with the Lord if we do not communicate with each other? How then can we present ourselves at God's altar divided and distant from one another?"

The Holy Father asked the faithful to ensure that the altar he was about to dedicate "be a constant invitation to love. To it you will always come", he said, "with your hearts ready to accept and to spread the love of Christ, to receive and to grant forgiveness".

"Each time you come to the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist", the Pope reiterated, "may your souls open to forgiveness and fraternal reconciliation, ready to accept the excuses of those who have hurt you and ready, in your turn, to forgive".

[Andrew: This is an important point, as Our Lord highlighted in the Scriptures ("Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. -Mat 5:23-24) and as we pray in the Pater Noster, the Lord's Prayer. Perhaps we have prayed it so often that we forget the seriousness of the petition 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us'. Do me mean it, and practice it? Let us ponder upon this the next time we appear before God's altar. Are dealing out forgiveness in the same measure as we hope to receive?]

Benedict XVI went on to explain that "each Eucharistic celebration anticipates Christ's triumph over sin and over the world. And, in the mystery, it demonstrates the splendour of the Church, 'spotless spouse of the spotless Lamb, whom Christ loved and for whom He delivered Himself up that He might sanctify her'".

The Pope encouraged the members of the diocesan community of Albano "to grow in charity and in apostolic and missionary dedication. What this means in concrete terms", he said, "is bearing witness with your lives to your faith in Christ and to the complete trust you place in Him. It also means cultivating ecclesial communion, which is above all a gift, a grace, the fruit of God's free and gratuitous love, in other words something that is divinely effective, ever present and operative in history, over and above any appearance to the contrary".

After highlighting how "ecclesial communion is a task entrusted to everyone's sense of responsibility", Pope Benedict concluded by calling on people to experience communion "with collaboration and co-responsibility at all levels: among priests, consecrated persons and the laity, among the different Christian communities of your territory, and among the various lay groups".

After the Mass, Benedict XVI greeted a number of benefactors and patrons of recent restoration work on the cathedral before returning by car to Castelgandolfo.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Call no man on earth father

Dear non-denom friend. You got me. As in got me interested. =) My old interest is piqued. Though it's way past midnight here, I've decided to write you a response since by responding to me, you in turn deserve a full response from me.

Before we get offtrack, let's stick with one issue first and then move on from there because these carpet bomb techniques can result in me trying to rush off answers all over the place but not answer a question satisfactorily.

Let's start back with the Father issue. I'm going to take your comments related to the Father issue and answer them first before moving on to another issue. I hope this is okay so we can look at each issue systematically before moving on.

You said this:
Now, moving on to the "Call no man father.."... Now Jesus is not referring to the literally tense of "father" as in a man who has biological children.. no not all..
Not that I disagree with you here, but please show me, from Scriptures alone, how you reached the conclusion that Jesus was not talking about biological fathers. I used God's gift of reason to sift the Scriptures to reach that conclusion. You critiqued my approach, demanding chapter and verse. I now ask the same. I believe, if I take the literal approach as you take it, Jesus says this:
Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. -Matt 23:9
Seems pretty straightforward to me. Call NO MAN ON EARTH FATHER. And then he contrasts earthly fathers to the One Father in Heaven. Crystal.

There are no escape clauses, no caveats, no exceptions. Call no man on earth Father, that's it. So, if I'm being an absolute literalist, then I might ask you which part of 'Call no man on earth father' don't you understand? Is it 'call', or 'man' or 'on earth' or 'father'? How did you come to the conclusion, based on the Scriptures alone, that Jesus meant your mother's husband and my mother's husband is somehow exempt?

Good luck on that, BTW =)

Second, and as I've noted in my first response, you totally conveniently forgot about the first part of the the prohibition. To refresh your memory, I present it here to you again:

"But do not be called Teacher; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. "–Matt 23:8-9
You did not interact or explain away how is it that we may call people teachers when Jesus, apparently clearly says that "Do not be called teacher". We must not be selective in our application and make exemptions when we see fit.

How do you reconcile that with the many mentions of the office of teachers with Jesus' apparent prohibition?
Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: -Acts 13:1

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? -Cor 12:28-29

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; -Eph 4:11-12

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. -2Pet 2:1 [This verse, talking about false prophets and false teachers necessarily presupposes true prophets and true teachers. Therefore, as there were teachers, the 'Do not be called teachers' cannot be an absolute prohibition]
In New Testament times, as now, there were in fact, teachers. A teacher is a calling and a spiritual gift in the Church. How do you explain this exemption if the prohibition were absolute?

Furthermore, Jesus Himself, before the Ascension, tasked the Apostles in the Great Commission to:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. - Mat 28:19-20

He thus made them teachers. A teacher is someone who teaches. Are the Apostles exempt from that clause?

You're taking the prohibition against calling any man on earth father and applying exclusively to the Catholic priesthood. You conveniently exempt men who have children from this. And then you also conveniently exempt the good men and women who teach. How can this be? Please justify this. It's easier to question than to justify, no? LOL!

What do you suppose Jesus called St. Joseph, for example?

The fact it, as I have explained with numerous Scripture quotations, that the prohibition is not an absolute one. I gave many examples of spiritual fatherhood and of the Apostles calling themselves fathers and calling others their sons which I will not repeat. But if you really need it, tell me your favourite version of the Bible and I'll look up the references for you and include them.

I can, on the other hand conclusively show that Jesus did not mean from this verse that we cannot address human beings in terms of respect.

The Scriptures, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records that men were called father by the authors of Scripture.

In the speech of St. Stephen which I quoted, we find St. Stephen calling the Patriarch Abraham father.
And he said, "Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran - Acts 7:2
Abraham is a man. Abraham is called Father Abraham by several other people as well. For example, in the parable of Lazarus which Jesus Himself told, these words came from Jesus' lips:
"And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, -Luke 16:24

But he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' - Luke 16:30
Abraham is a man.

You then said, in an attempt to explain away St. Stephen's address of the Sanhedrin as fathers, an honorary title, an exalting title perhaps, that:
Again, as I stated before, when Stephen said "Hear me brethren and fathers.." he was addressing literal fathers..
Errr. not buying that at all. I would be happy if you could prove it. And also if you could explain why St. Stephen had more than one father and how both (or more) of them happen to be sitting in the Council. LOL! That would be fun. But if you read Acts 6 in the choosing of the Deacons, you'll note that the Greek speaking Jews (presumably from the diaspora) were complaining against the Hebrew speaking Jews (from Palestine) about their widows getting neglected. In response, the Apostles appoint 7 men, with Greek names, to be Deacons. In fact, one, a certain Nicholas of Antioch, is even a convert to Judaism. It's therefore highly unlikely that St. Stephen would have a literal flesh and blood father in the Sanhedrin. And even if he did, then Jesus could still have just asked him 'Which part of "Call NO MAN ON EARTH FATHER" did you not understand?' Hehe... Unless you can prove from Scripture that there exists such an exemption, then the question is for you too, my friend.

Now look at Acts 22:1. St. Paul is here speaking to a crowd in front of the Temple. Look how he addresses them:
Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense."-Acts 22:1
Hmmm.... did St. Paul not learn of Jesus prohibition? Was he not reading his Bible like a good boy? LOL! Did he have many fathers and brothers among the crowd too, who happen want to kill him?

St. Stephen and St. Paul use the title here in addressing elders to honour them or address them honorably. So, once again, clearly, from the Scriptures, we can see that Jesus' prohibition against calling anyone of earth Father, calling anyone teacher(including anyone with a Ph.D because doctor is simply Latin for teacher) or master (including people with a Master's degree) is not absolute. Otherwise the NT evangelists and saints, inspired by the same Holy Spirit that descended on Jesus during His Baptism, would not have inspired them to utter such words.

God is not a God of confusion. -1Cor 14:33 Therefore we will not put conflicting words and meanings within the inspired Scriptures.

You also said:
He is talking about someone taking on the TITLE as "Father" as a means to exalt themselves.."Call no one Rabbi because you are all brothers.." Meaning that WE humans are all on the same level (we are brothers), no one is above another as God is above us.
Read the rest of that verse and He clearly explains that.. He is referring to the title of "FATHER" as a means of "Lordship"..You took that out of context completely.
I would ask you to show me where have taken it out of context. I have read the verse, the chapter and the whole book. I find nothing of the sort. On the contrary, I went to great lengths to provide context, including giving the preceding verse of 'Do not be called teacher' (which you did not interact with, BTW). It's as simple as that. Can't call no one father or teacher. Period. If you make exceptions, them prove it from the Bible. If you think my interpretation is wrong, show me, from the Bible. Instead, I see you sticking with that one verse (call no man on Earth father), totally out of context and attacking the Catholic practice without offering any other Scriptural support.

On the issue of using the title father as a means of exalting people, what do you think St. Paul and St. Stephen were doing when they used the title Fathers to address the Sanhedrin and the crowds respectively? It is not a means of exalting or paying due respect to the crowd/Council?

You said:
Now as far the spiritual son, that is not exalting onesself with the title of "father",but as a mentor which is what being a father is and in that context, he was not requesting "father" to be a "title". In my church, I have spiritual mothers, brothers, sisters, and fathers but not in the sense of "HOLY FATHER" as you call the pope or that I exalt them... No not at all.. We are all the same.
The title "Father" that Jesus was talking about is when someone uses that title as a means of lordship-Not a mentor which is what being a father means.

LOL! A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. If I were petty and mean, I could ask you, for example, to prove from the Scriptures where you got the idea that "a mentor which is what being a father means". You'll pardon me if I don't buy that without proof.

And, horror of horrors(!), gives, as it's first definition of mentor: "a wise and trusted counselor or teacher". Argghhhh!!!!! Mentors (aka teachers) are going to hell!!!!... Well, no, I'm not going to be petty and mean, so I won't ask that question. I'm pretty nice if you get to know me =) LOL!

Actually, let me tell you that in the Catholic Church, priests are, as you so succinctly put it "a mentor which" encompasses a part of "what being a father means". In the Catholic Church, the use of the title Father to address priests does not in anyway mean or intend to "exalt onesself with the title of "father",but as a mentor which is" a part of the function carried out by a father, part of what "being a father is".

We do not and have never intended to use the title of father on our priests as a means of exalting them to the point that they Lord it over us. Why, the Scriptures prohibit that. I am thrilled that you see it our way too.

And if you know us Catholics, you'll know that anyone trying to Lord anything over them is in for a big pile of doo doo LOL!

Cheers and G'nite.

More answers forthcomin, about the Pope, the Church, non-denominationalism and all that. In fact, it's in draft mode, pics and all but I just can't find the time to put it together. Do be patient. Mahalo!

A parting shot... couldn't resist!
I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless guardians in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.

For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.
-1Cor 4:14-17

Poor St. Paul. A Father and a Teacher. Yikes! Double whammy. And asking people to imitate him... Sheesh...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Spiritual Fatherhood in the Catholic Church

One anonymous commenter left this comment over the weekend. I'd like to share my response with you so that perhaps with this, we all may be edified.

The original comment:
Hello, Im not going to insult you but I will speak the truth. Jesus said in the Bible "Call no man on earth father for you have only ONE Father who is in heaven.." Matthew 23:9 First of all catholics call this mere fragile old man Holy Father and also bow down to worship him, like Revelation speaks about. Everything about this leader is in fact antichrist and paganism. He is not the substitue for Christ and it is very sad that people believe that their salvation is through this man. Jesus is the ONLY mediator between man and God.. to believe anyone else is (especially a man) is against Christ. Where in the bible does it say that you are supposed to pray to Mary? Nowhere. If so, please show me. And on top of that... Catholics pray to statues of dead saints and a dead Jesus on a cross and Mary... Clearly (that is if you read your bibles), God wiped out whole nations because of idolatry!God Himself spake against the worshipping of graven images and statues in His 10 commandments! So if God commanded you not to do so, then who is the mere man to tell you that it is ok? I hope you people wake up before it is too late because everything about this "leader" is not for God, but completely against Him and he is leading you all astray.. Read your bibles and receive the truth from that source and not this human being. This message is truly out of love...
Dear anonymous friend. I would like to thank you for taking the trouble to speak the truth to us, whom you perceive as being in error. That’s a great and charitable thing to do. In the Catholic Church, admonishing the sinner and instructing the ignorant are among the spiritual works of mercy.’

I have to admit that in my younger and more combative days, my manner of answering might not have been as irenic, but perhaps I have mellowed over time. LOL!

So, if you would permit me to respond to you point by point because I too, as a Catholic, have a duty to instruct the ignorant (no offence intended). Forgive me for the brevity but I do hope you will get the point.

But know several things first. We most certainly do not "bow down to worship him, like Revelation speaks". That's just silly. Please do show where Catholics bow down and intend to worship the Pope like Revelation speaks, if you can. If you can't, then please retract that statement and do not further propagate such errors and calumny. That's a sin, if you read the Bible.

Perhaps in certain cultures, like the American culture where everything is so informal even the President is addressed as Mr. President, the act of bowing may appear alien and might even conjure up images of worship being offered. Brrrr....

In Malay Muslim culture, the custom is for the young to kiss the hand of the elders during weddings and during the festival to mark the end of the fasting month.

But in many more ancient cultures, such as the Middle Eastern culture of Jesus and the Jews as well as the Asian culture of the Chinese, Indian, Thai and Malay Christians, bowing is a polite way of showing deference to our elders. It most certainly does not entail worship! Jeepers!

Moving on to the point at hand, about calling priests Father.

Firstly, the context of Matthew 23 is Jesus’ admonishment of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who ‘do not do what they preach’. They love to accumulate earthly honours and titles (v7). In a hyperbolic counterpoint, Jesus instructs his disciples to do the opposite of the Pharisees because those who humble themselves will be exalted. That’s the context of the verse.

Should the Prodigal have addressed his Father as My Mother's husband, perhaps?

Now, can it be applied literally? As DonAaron had commented, what do you call the person who’s married to your mother? Dad/Father right? I do hope that you don't call him My Mother's Husband or by his first name. In Asian cultures, calling an elder or even worse, your parents by their first name indicates poor upbringing and boorish, uncouth and uncultured behaviour.

And what about the nice lady who taught you in school or even Sunday School (unless you’re an Adventist, the it’s Saturday school)? Teacher, perchance? But remember, dear friend, what the first part of Jesus’ prohibition was:

"But do not be called Teacher; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for (K)One is your Father, He who is in heaven. "–Matt 23:8-9

But the office of Teacher is one of the offices in the Church, along with Apostle and is one of the Spiritual Gifts. Some are called to be teachers. We must not be selective in our interpretation. If you want to be literal, aply it to your mother and father and your teacher as well.

Does my understanding bear out in the Scriptures? Let’s look at the opening of the proto-martyr St. Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin.

And he said, "Hear me, brethren and fathers! –Acts 7:2a

Wow. St. Stephen not only appears to violate Jesus’ apparent command, but uses the title Father on the very people who had Jesus put to death, the same people whom he calls stiff-necked (v51) and who would later stone him to death. And his reward? He sees the Heavens open up and sees Jesus in Glory. Doesn’t quite fit your theory, no? And not to mention the many times the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are named Father.

Anyway, for the Catholic Church, building on the spiritual heritage of Israel, priesthood has always been tied to Fatherhood. For example, in Judges 17, Micah, an older man, says to a young Levite, “Dwell with me and be a father and a priest to me” and later on the whole tribe of Dan says to the priest “be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?” Thus, you can see that priesthood has always been associated with spiritual fatherhood in the tradition of Israel, a tradition the Church, as the new Israel adopts as her own.

In New Testament times, the Christians are often referred to as spiritual children of the Apostles. St. Paul often refers to Timothy as his spiritual son (1Cor 4:17; 1Tim 1:2; 1Tim 1:18; 2Tim 2:1; Phil. 2:22). He also refers to Titus (Titus 1:4) and Philemon (Philem 10) in the same way. One would imagine that they would have returned his affection and spiritual fatherhood by naming him Father as he had named them sons.

This is not peculiar to St. Paul. St. Peter too names St. Mark the Evangelist as his spiritual son (1 Pet. 5:13). And St. John names the Christians under his charge children too (1John 2:1; 3John 4)

And so, dear friend, you can see that we Catholics are not so ignorant of Scripture as you would suspect. Let me end this by sharing this Scripture which captures the basis of us Catholics calling priests Father.

I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. -1Cor. 4:14–15

We will continue with the other points you have raised shortly. I but suspect that you will see that in these too, the Catholic Church is right. And, as many before you have done over the course of the Church's 2000 year history since it's foundation by Christ Jesus her Head, you too might feel called to enter her embrace =)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Release for the captives - Mass for the release of the ISA Detainees and for peace and justice in Malaysia

The Lord Jesus laid out the blueprint for His earthly ministry by picking the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah and read out the following words:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim a year of the LORD's favour

Proclaiming release to the Captives. This was the theme of the special Mass that was held at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on Monday.


Here's a little background for our non-Malaysian readers. Malaysia is a very polarized country. The citizens of Chinese descent have recently been insulted by a member of the majority Muslim Malay community. A third tier leader of the ruling National Front, he insulted the Chinese by calling them 'squatters', not deserving and cannot ever even hope to possess equal rights. This is despite the fact that many Chinese have been in this land for hundreds of years and many Malays are recent immigrants from other countries.

This caused an uproar with members of even the ruling coalition calling on this recalcitrant arrogant fella to recant and apologize. This he refused to do and he continued his racist tirade. Finally, under tremendous popular pressure, the ruling Malay party gave him a slap on the wrist, suspending him for 3 years while not requiring a recantation or apology.

Then, the ruling party arrested the reporter who first broke the news of this creature's racist remarks. She was arrested under the draconian Internal Security Act, a remnant of British colonial rule. This law allows for indefinite detention without trial, at the pleasure of the minister of Internal Security. Most sane Malaysians were thinking WTF?! (pardon my French).


Then came another insult to our collective intelligence. A Malay former State Chief Minister (who's father is an immigrant from Indonesia) who was dumped by the electorate when his party lost power during the last election on March 8th made several seditious accusations against an Opposition MP and current Senior State Executive Councillor of the state he lost. He claimed on his blog that Teresa Kok (left), the MP, went into a mosque in the wee hours of the morning to ask the committee to turn down the volume of the Muslim call to prayer, the azan. Now, not that that is necessarily a bad idea, but she denied it, and the mosque committee corroborated her story. What actually happened was that the nearby non-Muslims residents petitioned the mosque to tone down the volume of the sermons because the power amps used for the call to prayer are often then used to blare the sermons as well. Anyway, this was played up by the racist newspaper of the ruling party and the MP who denied it was arrested under the ISA while Khir Toyo, the racist instigator and the Malay paper Utusan Malaysia gets off scott free. This is utter bollocks. Another popular blogger, Raja Petra (right), a member of the Malay Royalty, was arrested as well.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, by St. Francis Xavier's Church, PJ at a prayer vigil for the ISA detainees, including Teresa Kok, opposition MP and a Catholic. Photo courtesy of the Malaysian Insider.

The Diocese of Penang responded to this travesty of justice by organising a special Mass to pray for the release of the detainees and for peace and justice in Malaysia. The Mass was at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. The Bishop of Penang was overseas attending a conference. The Mass was presided by Fr. Fabian Dicom. Other priests in attendance include Fr. Francis Anthony, the Cathedral Administrator, Fr. Marshall Fernandez, my parish priest, Fr. Mark Michael, his assistant, Fr. Edwin Paul, Rector of the Major Seminary, Fr. Simon Labrooy, professor at said seminary and Frs. Paul Chong and Joe Stephens, OFM Cap both.

At the beginning of the Mass, Fr. Fabian explained the use of the violet vestments, which was a sign of mourning.

The readings selected included the preceding reading from the Prophet Isaiah and the Gospel reading of the Beatitudes:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
"Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
"Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

These are fighting words and the people perceived it as much. How our nations thirsts for righteousness now.


In his spirited sermon, Fr. Fabian denounced the injustice of the detentions and the very act itself. Reminding the congregation that Peacemakers are blessed and not those who only pray for peace, we were called to do our part in opposing such injustice in our nation.


After the Mass, Fr. Francis Anthony also delivered a scathing attack on the ISA and the detentions. He mentioned something along these lines which I found very interesting. "For too long it has been 'We say and you do. No more!" More on this some other time.


Candles were then lighted from the altar candle and we sang some spirited anti-ISA songs and waved our candles about. Overall, it was an interesting evening. I even got a shirt and some buttons =)


I really feel that more self proclaimed traddies and 'orthodox' Catholics need to turn up, show support for and participate in events like this. It makes us seem less idiotic and only concerned about the externals.


Events like this, where Catholics of all stripes stand as one and ask for justice and righteousness, can bind us all together despite our disagreements on liturgy and doctrine. Though the non-traddies are wrong on those points (among many others), the demand for justice is one that should be shared by all disciples of Christ. It must not be the domain of lefties only.

The political turmoil is by no means ended and attempts by the opposition to topple this corrupt and racist government has yet to bear fruit. Only God know what lies ahead, but that the road will be bumpy is a certainty. Anyway, dear readers, out of your charity, please say a prayer for my country, Malaysia, and for all those who are unjustly deprived of their freedom and for all who hunger and thirst for justice and righteousness.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9/11

Remember who's behind it.
And there's more ...

Pray for the freedom of the world.