Monday, June 30, 2008

First Vespers for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

And the inauguration of the Pauline Year.

VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2008 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. today in the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, Benedict XVI presided at the celebration of first Vespers for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, which also marked the opening of the Pauline Year. Among those participating in the ceremony were the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and representatives from other Churches and Christian communities.

The Holy Father, Bartholomew I, delegates from other Christian confessions, and monks from the abbey of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls walked in procession to the portico of the basilica where, before the statue of the saint, the Pope lit a candle from a brazier which will remain burning for the entire Pauline year. After the Pope the ecumenical patriarch and the representative of the primate of the Anglican communion also lit candles. The procession then entered the basilica through the Pauline Door.

"We are gathered around the tomb of St. Paul, who was born 2000 years ago in Tarsus in Cilicia, in modern-day Turkey", said the Pope in his homily. "For us, Paul is not a figure of the past whom we recall with veneration. He is also our master, the Apostle and announcer of Jesus Christ to us too. Hence we are gathered here not to reflect upon a past history which has been left irrevocably behind. Paul wishes to speak to us today". Thus, the Pope explained, the Pauline Year serves "to listen to him and to learn from him, as from a master, the faith and the truth in which the reasons for the unity of Christ's disciples are rooted".

"It is of great joy to me", said the Holy Father, "that the opening of the Pauline year should have a particularly ecumenical character, thanks to the presence of many delegates and representatives of Churches and ecclesial communities, whom I welcome with all my heart". They include "the Patriarch Bartholomew I, ... fraternal delegates of Churches that have especially close ties to the Apostle Paul (Jerusalem, Antioch, Cyprus, Greece) and that form the geographical setting of the Apostle's life before his arrival in Rome, ... and brethren from various Churches and ecclesial communities of East and West".

"We are gathered here to ask ourselves about the great Apostle of the Gentiles. We ask ourselves not just who Paul was, but above all who he is. ... His faith was the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ with an entirely personal love; it was an awareness of the fact that Christ faced death not for some unidentified cause, but for love of him - of Paul - and that, being Risen, He loves him still. Christ gave Himself for him. ... His faith was not a theory, an opinion on God and on the world, His faith was the impact of God's love on his heart. And so this faith was love for Jesus Christ".

The Holy Father then recalled how many people see Paul as "combative" noting that, "in fact, there was no lack of disputes on the Apostle's path. He did not seek superficial harmony. ... The truth was too great for him to be disposed to sacrifice it in the name of exterior success. The truth he experienced in his encounter with the Risen One was, for him, well worth struggle, persecution and suffering. But his deepest motivations were the fact that he was loved by Jesus Christ and his desire to transmit this love to others. ... Only on this basis can the fundamental concepts of his message be understood".

Focusing then on one of Paul's "keywords: freedom", the Pope explained that "Paul, as a man loved by God, was free. ... This love was the 'law' of his life and, thus, it was the freedom of his life". Paul "spoke and acted moved by the responsibility of love. Freedom and responsibility are inseparably united. ... Those who love Christ as Paul loved Him can truly do as they please, because their love is united to the will of Christ and thus to the will of God; because their will is anchored in truth and because their will is not simply their own will - the decisions of an autonomous 'I' - but is integrated into the freedom of God".

The Pope then went on to consider Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, when the Risen Christ proclaimed "I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting". By "persecuting the Church", said Benedict XVI, "Paul was persecuting Jesus" Who "identifies Himself with the Church as one single subject". This exclamation which transformed Saul's life "contains the entire doctrine of the Church as the Body of Christ. Christ has not withdrawn to heaven, leaving a group of followers on earth to pursue 'His cause'. the Church is not an association that seeks to promote a particular cause" but "the person of Jesus Christ Who, even when Risen remained as 'flesh'. ... He has a body. He is personally present in His Church".

"Through all this we glimpse the Eucharistic mystery, in which Christ continually gives His Body and makes us His Body", said the Pope and, noting with regret the laceration of this Body, asked Christ to overcome all divisions so that union "may once again become reality".

Finally, the Holy Father recalled Paul's words to Timothy shortly before his heath: "Join with me in suffering for the Gospel". The Pope went on to note that the "duty of announcement and the call to suffer for Christ are inseparable. ... In a world where lies are so powerful, truth is paid with suffering. Those who wish to avoid suffering, to keep it away, keep away life itself and its greatness; they cannot be servants of truth or servants of the faith. ... Where there is nothing worth suffering for, life itself loses value. The Eucharist - the focus of our being Christian - is founded on Jesus' sacrifice for us, it was born of the suffering of love".

"It is of this self-giving love that we live. It gives us the courage and the strength to suffer with Christ and for Him in this world, knowing that this is the way our lives become great, and mature, and true".

RIP Archbishop Emeritus Gregory Yong

I just heard the news from Paul Molina that Archbishop Emeritus Gregory Yong of Singapore, who was also the former bishop of Penang, has passed away died because of a heart failure on the 28th June 2008, at approximately 2.40pm. He was 83.

Requiescat in pace

O God, who wast pleased to raise Thy servant Gregory, to the dignity of the episcopate: vouchsafe to number him with Thy bishops and priests for evermore. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, God forever and ever

His successor, Archbishop Nicholas Chia said “he was saddened by the news but added that he had lived a good life.” Archbishop Emeritus Yong’s body, which is lying at St. Joseph’s Home, will be transferred to the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on Monday, 30th Jun 2008.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say:

Gregory Yong Sooi Ngean (Chinese: 杨瑞元) D.D. D.C.L was the Roman Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Singapore.

From May 20, 1925 - June 28, 2008

Born in Taiping, Malaya on May 20, 1925, he was educated at St. George's Institution and St. Michael's Institution in Ipoh, Malaya. In January 1941, he entered the Minor Seminary and in 1944 graduated to the Major Seminary. He was ordained in 1951 and posted to the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Singapore. In 1953, he left for studies in Rome where he was conferred a Doctorate in Canon Law, the very first local priest to achieve the distinction. Back in Singapore in 1956, he was sent as assistant Parish Priest to the Church of the Sacred Heart. In the following year, he joined the teaching stuff of the Minor Seminary. After a short stint as assistant Parish Priest at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, he was appointed to a teaching position in the Major Seminary, again, the very first local priest to be thus honoured. On July 1, 1968, he was consecrated Bishop, and took over the Diocese Of Penang from Bishop Francis Chan who had died on October 27, 1967.

On February 3, 1977, he was appointed to succeed Archbishop Michel Olçomendy as the first of the local clergy to lead the Church in Singapore. On April 2, 1977, he was officially installed as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore. He was the second Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Singapore, which was formed in 1972 when the Archdiocese of Malacca-Singapore split and held the office until retiring on October 14, 2000.

He died on June 28, 2008 at St Joseph's Home, Singapore.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Archbishop Burke appointed Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

In accordance with the rumours heard recently, the faithful and orthodox Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke of St. Louis, a great supporter of tradition and the traditional Mass, was appointed Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura replacing Agostino Cardinal Vallini who in turn succeeded the great Camillo Cardinal Ruini as vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, and archpriest of the papal basilica of St. John Lateran.

The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is the administrative appellate tribunal of the Holy See and, consequently, the highest judicial authority of the Catholic Church besides the Pope himself. The Prefect is therefore, a kind of Chief Justice of the Catholic Church.

Whereas a Rotal decision could, if not res judicata, be appealed to another turnus of the Rota, there is no right of appeal from the decision of the Signatura (can. 1629 §1 CIC).

This position usually comes with a red hat and the appointment demonstrates the high regard and esteem the Holy Father holds Archbishop Burke and his juridical acumen in Canon Law. This great loss to the people of St. Louis is a great gain for the Universal Church.

Archbishop Burke is a great and visionary prelate who draws numerous vocations to his seminary, established the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem and is a patron of the arts in supporting projects like the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Congrats, Archbishop Burke!

Domus Dei et Porta Caeli

"How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."

These words were spoken by the Patriarch Jacob after he had the dream of the stairway to Heaven. And so he named that place Beth-el, the House of God.

Why did he say those words and why did he name that place the house of God? Because in his dream, he saw the Presence of the Lord, God Himself, standing above the place. In our day, in a more real and concrete way, all Catholic Churches are truly, in the fullest sense of the word, the house of God. For in the Tabernacle is Jesus Himself, the Real Presence of God veiled under the appearance of bread. How truly awesome then is the Church!

Even in the Old Testament, the Tent of the Lord's Presence, the Tabernacle of Moses shone of gold.
The Temple of Solomon glittered on the hill, it's very stones a reminder and testament to the Presence of God, the Shekinah which dwells inside. The Unseen God was mediated through His House.
An artist's impression of Solomon's Temple

In our own day, from St. Peter's Basilica to Chartres and Rheims, this truth has been proclaimed loudly and magnificently in stone and marble. From afar, once recognizes the importance of the House of God, from it's location, up on the hill as in Sacre Coeur, to it's size and grandeur in the Duomo of Florence. Of course all this is an outward sign, a sacrament, if you will, of the Presence, the Parousia which lies within.
Sacre Coeur de Paris


The Duomo of Florence

It's an outward proclamation of the importance of the building and the Presence housed within. The builders and architects were trying to say something, trying to make a statement etched in stone for all to see.

Putrajaya is a new city in the middle of nowhere. It was designed to be the new administrative capital of Malaysia and home to the Prime Minister and his cabinet, most of the ministries and departments and the Courts of Law. It is where the Prime Minister greets official guests. From his office, the visitor would then get a commanding view of this planned city which is supposed to impress on him the status of Malaysia as a nation and emerging power. It houses some of the most magnificent buildings in Malaysia. Predominantly though, it reflects the classical Arabic style of architecture. Although, here and there, modern forms are also represented.

The modern Seri Wawasan bridge

The Prime Minister's office aptly reflects it's position as the seat of power.

And the pre-eminent position of Islam as the official religion of Malaysia is reflected in the grandeur of the lakefront Putra Mosque.

This is the proposed design for the new Catholic Church in Putrajaya, amidst all those grand buildings.
What does this building say about the God of the Christians? What does it say about the Christians? What proclamation is it trying to make?

This is the new Catholic Church built in the township of Puchong. What do you think this building is trying to say? I think the exterior is horrendous and, in trying to be hip and modern, will soon be dated, like all the other hip and modern nonsense and rubbish built in the 60's and 70's. I can always tell when a house was built by merely looking at it's windows. Thankfully, in the rest of society, that unfortunate period and those unfortunate trends have passed. Not so in the Catholic Church and those still steeped in the theology and mindset of that era.

Yes, I am well aware of the constraints imposed in the building of Christian places of worship by the little Napoleons, the functionaries who man the offices who are so eager to show their zeal for Islam (when they are not accepting bribes and engaging in corruption) that they impose ridiculous limits on Church building.

But a simple building would suffice. Such as the new Church of the Divine Mercy in Penang, above. Although far from ideal, its elegance and simplicity makes the most of the resources available and the sensitivities of the local Muslims.

But what is this building, in the heart of the administrative capital of Malaysia trying to say? About us and about the God we believe in?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit

The Solemn High Mass with the Sacrament of Confirmation was celebrated by His Lordship Bishop Antony Selvanayagam of Penang. It was a beautiful celebration which was the climax of the journey of faith undertaken by these 42 young people who are now full adult members of Christ's Church and miles Jesu.

I wont comment much and let the photos speak for themselves.

Compare and Contrast

Last year:


The Godparents/sponsors sat behind the candidates. The dress code was not uniform. There were actually people sitting in front of the candidates.


No antependium. Plain hanging on the ambo. Servers in albs and capes.


This year:
Me and my students. The girls were wearing nice lace mantillas from the Philippines and white dresses. The boys were in black pants, white shirts and ties.


The entrance procession was solemn and dignified.

A sight unseen on these shores since Vatican II? I don't know.


The servers were vested in black cassocks and surplice.

The altar was arrayed in a proper antependium of red velvet and cloth of gold. The good book holder was also used.


The ambo hanging was also of red velvet and cloth of gold.

Note the deep bow before the bishop.









The Roman Canon was used in this 3 hour Mass.












Communion was given on the tongue.




For the parents and Godparents as well.





The Solemn Blessing.


Thanks for sharing this experience with us. I hope that these photos leave you edified.