Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Keeping the bishops in line

And behind the Pope.

God Is Near Those in Need, Pope Assures

Addresses Immigrant Parish on Rome's Outskirts
Makes pastoral visit to Rome parish

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI encouraged the community of a poor immigrant parish in Rome to have faith that even though God can't be seen, he is near to those in need.

"We know that the 'sun,' although hidden, exists, that God is near, that he helps us and accompanies us," the Pontiff said today upon addressing the small parish of The Holy Face of Jesus at Magliana, which is located on the outskirts of the city.

"So, in this sense we want to journey toward Easter knowing that there are suffering and difficulties in our life but with the awareness that behind it there is the sun of divine Goodness," he added.

Benedict XVI exhorted his listeners, many of whom gathered in the rain outside the small church, to put themselves in the service of their neighbor, especially those who have problems because of the economic crisis.

He pointed to St. Maximilian Kolbe -- who sacrificed his life in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz to save the life of fellow prisoner who had a family -- as an example of charity to follow.

"In our time, marked by a general social and economic crisis, the effort that you are making above all through the parish Caritas and the Sant'Egidio group, to help the poorest and neediest as far as possible, is meritorious," he said.

A modernistic Church in the Eternal City

Many communities and congregations are active in the parish, which serves some 15,000, many of them poor.

Caritas, the Militia of the Immaculata (founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe), the Padre Pio Prayer Group, the Community of the Risen Jesus, the Neocatechumenal Way and the Community of Sant'Egidio are all active in the parish.

The Good Lord is missing from the crucifix. Did he run away?

The Congregation of the Poor Daughters of the Visitation run a local nursing home, and brought many of the elderly from the home to see the Pope.

The Benedictine arrangement

The church was named after St. Maximilian Kolbe in 1982, but changed its name to The Holy Face of Jesus in 2001.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.

R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary...

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.

Hail Mary...

V. And the Word was made Flesh.

R. And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary...

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

Be it done unto me according to thy word.

Such words of obedience and humility, of self surrender and trust. Mary's Fiat, her Yes to God paved the way for the Eternal Word to be made flesh. Conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, without the agency of a human father, the flesh and blood of Jesus were of His mother alone. The same flesh, the body that was bruised for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, whose stripes brought us healing, is the same flesh that He received from Mary. His Divine Blood, the sacrifice that redeemed us from sin and transferred us from darkness into Light, the Blood that washed away our sins, that too He received from Mary alone.

She is blessed amongst women not only for being the physical mother of the Lord, but also for hearing the Word of the Lord and keeping it, for bearing all in her heart and pndering on it.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Confirmation retreat at St. Anne's Shrine - Pt 1

The past weekend (this was written long ago, last month, to be exact), I facilitated a confirmation retreat for about forty 16 and 17 year old kids at St. Anne's Shrine in BM. The retreat was themed Growing In Faith Together and emphasized the need for each Christian to grow in maturity in all aspects of their lives and in their faith and that this growth occurs in the context of the Christian community.

Before leaving, we assembled in front of the Shrine of Mary in our parish Church to receive a blessing from Fr. Marshall, our parish priest who invoked God's blessings on us as we went on our way.




Fr. Marshall giving the kids a lecture and sending us off with a blessing.


The camp was held at the conference and boarding facilities at the Shrine of St. Anne in Bukit Mertajam. Called the Domus St. Anne, kinda like the Domus Sancta Martha in the Vatican, it has excellent facilities and rooms.


The sessions were started off with some energetic singing and action dances to liven things up a bit. Music was provided by last year's student Daniel, on guitar with Amy and Meriel doin the action dances.


I found the whole thing hilarious and rather amusing =)


In a more thoughtful and sombre atmosphere, I began the sessions by recalling the historic nature of the Catholic Faith that has been handed on by faithful men and women, all the way from the time of Christ to our own day.

I also showed them the extent of the persecution endured by the early Christians to transmit that faith. It is their fidelity, in human terms, that resulted in the Faith being passed on to us today. Being Christian meant death to the early martyrs and many did pay the ultimate price with their blood and their lives in confessing the Faith. And many still do today.

We saw the suffering and persecution that Christians undergo in our own time and the sacrifices that missionaries, bishops and priests face to spreading and keeping the Faith in many places such as in Islamic countries and Communist China. So many people have to travel so far to reach a Church and many others in the interior regions only see a priest once a month or more. And yet, it's so sad that we in Malaysia and others in the West who have free access to Churches and the Sacraments, do not make full use of this great gift.


And talking about gifts, each person has a gift. As the parable of the talents remind us, there's no one without any gift. Each person has at least one and many have more. For those who have more, much is expected. For those who have less, we are called to make the most of what we have and use it in the service of God's Kingdom and the Giver of our gifts.

However, very often we ourselves are not aware of the gifts which we possess and others may see gifts which we did not know we had.


In order to help the kids discover their gifts and talents, a version of the affirmation game was played and the kids accordingly wrote down the talents that they perceived that friends possessed.


Disappointingly, some discovered that their only talents were their height and and hairstyle. Which led me to conclude that sometimes, people who only focus on the externals lose sight of the really important things inside which they would discover if they so chose and actually took the time. Sigh... how God sees us and how the world sees us sure is different.

Also, sometimes, people only see what we choose to show them. Many have hidden talents which remain buried under the tree like the talents in the parable because we do not use them for the glory of God and for this we will be held accountable.


For others, the session did however reveal hidden and undiscovered gifts which theywere not aware they possessed while others realized that things they took for granted were in actual fact, gifts which could be used in the service of God and of neighbour.


Our own humility learned some stuff about himself =)


All were then encouraged to look at the lists and ponder how they might utilize these gifts from God in His service.


More to come...