Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lumen ad revelationem gentium

Lumen ad revelationem gentium, from the reading of the day from the Canticle of Simeon, the Nunc Dimittis. It translates as 'a light to enlighten the nations'. For many years, the Church in Malaysia, which formally began with the coming of the Portuguese missionaries and St. Francis Xavier in the 1500's, was ministered to, taught and governed by religious. From the early Jesuit missions to the MEP (French Foreign Mission) Fathers and the La Salle brothers and IJ sisters, the religious formed the backbone of the Church in Malaysia and it was from them that the local Church received the faith, besides a good solid education.


Thus it was with much gratitude that my parish of the Immaculate Conception held a special Mass on the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the old Candlemass, now known as the Presentation of the Lord, which coincided with the World Day of Consecrated Life. Many of the religious living on Penang island attended the Mass, presided by Frs. Joe Matthews and Paul Cheong OFM Cap and our parish priest, Fr. Marshall Fernandez.

During the course of the Mass, candles for the use of Church and home, were also blessed.


Among the many religious orders represented were the Little Sisters of the Poor, in veils, the Infant Jesus(IJ) sisters, Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM), La Salle brother (FSC), Capuchin brother and others.


It was nice seeing so many religious. I estimated that they had together gave the Church more than 600 years of service. It's humbling.


But I was also sad to note that their median age was rather advanced and there was no replacement for these religious once they go to their reward. I was also saddened that so many have abandoned the habits they were clothed in when the professed their vows as an outer sign of their inward commitment.

Seeing the long line of religious approached the priests for Communion was rather nice too.


I was glad that so many servers turned up despite it being a weekday. Thanks to Keshure, Mark, Daniel Roy and John and Joseph.


After Mass, the parish prepared a meal so that all could enjoy some fellowship. His Lordship te Bishop of Penang also turned up, having just returned from outstation.

Bro Paul Ho, FSC, centre, who rejected my application to enrol in St. Xavier's Institution (one bus away from my home) of which he was and is principal. This providentially and fortunately sent me to the Penang Free School (2 buses away from my home), the premier school in Penang where I learned so much, academic brilliance being no substitute for poverty of character not the least among them.


Overall, it was a good celebration. Perhaps next year we could print out Holy cards as a token to be distributed as a sign of thanks to the religious for the sacrifice and for answering God's call. May God accept and reward them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Today, Holy Mother Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Our parish is organizing a pilgrimage for the sick and aged to Lourdes soon, so do keep them in your prayers.

The statue of Our Lady in the Grotto is located on the exact spot where Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette. Below the statue of Our Lady is the spring which welled up from the spot dug by St. Bernadette on Our Lady's instructions. It was St. Bernadette who heard Our Lady identify herself as the Immaculate Conception, a heavenly confirmation from the subject herself of the proclamation of Pope Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus four years earlier.

Here's some photos of the miraculously incorrupt body of St. Bernadette who died in April 16, 1869. I've always had a fascination with St. Bernadette ever since I read about her in the Incorruptibles.

All images courtesy of In Caritate non Ficta.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Looking the part

I was not there because I'd totally forgot about it and because I was exhausted. But Mark and Lawrence who were there got a treat.

They saw a priest who looked the part. And seminarians too. But.... as some of you might have guessed, they were not from these parts.

Here's a photo of Mark with Fr. Louis from Korea. It might be a common sight where you, dear reader, come from If so, consider yourself blessed. Because for us in Malaysia, it just snowed in June.

Here's Mark's report:
Fr Louis was with several of his seminarians on his trip down here to Malaysia. He administered to the Korean nationals here in Penang. At Sunday Mass last weekend, when Fr Louis and his seminarians sung a Korean chant, I would unite myself with the envoys of Prince Vladimir of Kiev when they encountered the Divine Liturgy in Hagia Sofia, -"We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth." It was sort of like a Korean 'Palestrina' Chant. This puts me to shame when *hippie* hymns are sung here.
Well, I'm sad to have missed it. And I'm even sadder that this is not something we can see more often in Malaysia and around the world. Would that it please God that sights like these will not elicit a response of shock and awe but rather one of expected joy.

By the way, inculturation to me means something like what Mark witnessed above, using Gregorian melodies and the modes of our polyphonic heritage while simultaneously making the songs more accessible by using the vernacular.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Gimme 5!

Yesterday, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Presentation of the Lord, 5 deacons (who were ordained a few weeks ago) were raised to the sacred priesthood. His Grace Archbishop Murphy Pakiam of Kuala Lumpur said the Mass at St. John's Cathedral in KL.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, seat of His Grace, the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur. The photos were taken during my previous trip there a couple of years ago.

His Grace Archbishop Emeritus Anthony Soter Fernandez was present as well together with many priests and religious. It was a holiday in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and so the turnout was good too from what I hear.

Poster courtesy of Mumin

Those ordained were Deacons Alan Pereira, Surain Raj, Clement Lim, Thomas Loh, CDD and Lawrence Ng, CDD at the Cathedral of St. John, Bukit Nanas. The CDD (Congregatio Discipulorum Domini) Fathers mainly serve the Chinese speaking community.

They took as their motto "Take... bless... break... give... multiply" in a reference to the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves in Mark Chapter 6.

Of course, I was not there and was working, since we don't have a holiday in Penang. After work I went to the special Mass commemorating the World Day of Consecrated Life but that's for another post.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Timothy

Anyway, here's invoking an abundance of Divine Graces on the newly ordained and in their ministry to sanctify, teach and govern the people of God entrusted to them. May God's faithfulness shine through their weakness and may He strengthen and bless those whom He has called.

Please add your prayers for them.

First, see if you can spot the priest in choir dress, ie cassock and surplice. It's a very rare sight indeed on these shores. I also noticed that the Cathedral has a new and much larger crucifix. And there also appear to be candles lit on either side of the tabernacle. Compare the photo above to the ones below taken a few years back.

Can you decipher what the words on the altar say?