Saturday, 16 March 2013 : 4th Week of Lent (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s readings we see how, the righteous ones and the ones sent by the Lord, the prophets, and even our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, received slander, persecution, and were actively rejected by many in the society, not least by those who indeed should have been closer to God than that of the rest of the society.

These people are the Pharisees, the priests and the experts in the Law of God, passed through Moses, they are also expert in the Torah and the writings of the words of the prophets, that it is why they could say that no prophet is ever said to come from Galilee, because basically they really know the prophets, their sayings, and the Law itself. But yet, they have failed to see God, and failed to see His works, when it was already in fact right in front of their eyes.

The reason for their failure to see the good works of the Lord is that they have been blinded, their eyes had been blocked by the very arrogance and pride that clouds their heart and hardened that heart against the love of God. Jealousy became the order of the day, as these priests, instead of being happy and supportive of Christ’s good works, they slandered Him, accused Him of using the devil to perform miracles, and plotted against Him to kill Him. They would eventually succeeded in capturing Him after the Lord’s Last Supper, put Him on trial, and brought Him to Pilate to be condemned to death, death on the cross.

We should not follow their examples, and we too should lower our pride and our selfishness before God. We must put the Lord ahead of men, and put our attention on the Lord ahead of any personal glorification through majesty, wealth, or even simplification, and publicity. Priests and leaders of the Church must strive to remain humble in their ministry.

But remember, very importantly, never dabble in the false sense of humility through excessive display of humility or simplification, especially and certainly, we must never let the Holy Mass be simplified to the point that it loses the sanctity and meaning, as the Holy Sacrifice where Jesus offers us His Most Precious Body and Blood.

Very often people has misunderstood the noble simplicity as mentioned in the Vatican II document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, focusing way too much on the simplicity, that it is no longer noble. There is a need for balance, that the liturgy does not become too flagrant a display of excessive wealth and worldliness, but at the same time also there should be proper decorum and avoidance of insertion of non-liturgical elements into the Mass, and also avoidance of stripping the Mass so much that it ceases to be solemn and devout.

Instead, the way is to live a life of prayer and dedication to God, and strive to put the Lord ahead of ourselves, and to make God the centre of our lives. Through the Mass, the centre of our faith, we can make the Lord indeed as the centre of our life, via the solemn and magnificent liturgy and execution of the Mass, that the Lord is glorified at the Mass.

Remember that the Mass is not about self, and it is not to be centred at the priest-celebrant, but to be centred to the Lord Himself. The vestments, the beautiful adornments, and the solemn atmosphere in the Mass is dedicated entirely to God, that we glorify the Lord, and through these external glorification, we bring mankind closer to God, simply by unearthly experience that all of us can experience in the Mass, through a solemn and devout liturgy of the Mass.

We humble ourselves before the Lord, and focus our attention on the glorious cross of Christ, both for us behind the altar, and for the priest, the altar cross, according to the Benedictine Altar arrangement, that all of us will put our full attention in Christ, and not on men. The cross must be the centre of our focus, our attention, and also be the focus of our hearts, that we continue to keep Christ in all things that we do, so that in whatever good that we do, God will be present, and will justify us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us rediscover our faith, particularly in this Holy Year of Faith, that we can grow much deeper in our understanding of the Mass and its liturgical contents, and learn to place the Lord at the centre of our lives, and grow stronger in our faith and love of God day by day. May we follow in Christ’s footsteps and not be proud, neither be vain, by discarding the darkness and veil of pride that blocks our heart from truly receiving the love and grace of our God. Amen.

Monday, 11 March 2013 : 4th Week of Lent (Scripture Reflection)

Jesus shows today that faith in God is important, for God shows pity and mercy on all of His children, and those who believe in Him, He will save and protect. Those who put their trust in the Lord will not be disappointed. Jesus rewards the man’s faith with the healing of his son from certain death.

However, we must indeed be careful, for the Lord also warned us against believing only by entrusting in miracles and what we see. For such a faith is not a true faith, as we believe because we see great things that unravel in front of our eyes, and then we believe that this supernatural works must have been done by a divine being, that is Christ. This kind of faith is weak and is no true faith, for, as shown when Jesus was arrested and brought before the people after He was arrested.

The people who were there mocked Him and also called for His death. Why? Even though these were likely the same people that have listened to His preaching, His parables, and also witnessed His miracles and healings? That is because their faith is shallow, shallow and have not grown well, just like in the case of the parable of the sower, where the seed had been sown on a rocky and barren ground. The seed of faith found it difficult to grow in them, as their faith came mainly because of awe in the miraculous powers of Jesus.

When Jesus seemed to ‘falter’, which is by being arrested and accused by the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious body at the time, as being a heretic and blasphemer, these people lost their faith, and Satan took away their seeds of faith, just like those seeds that were eaten by the birds on an open road, a clear and easy opportunity for the evil one to come and take the faith away from them.

This is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, I would like to highlight to all of you, the very importance of nurturing our faith, of maintaining our faith, that not only that it will remain strong and unbroken, but even also bear fruit manyfold, like the seeds that fell on the rich soil, and produced much fruit. How to do so? By acts of love, justice, and compassion, that is by doing what God has commanded us to do, the commandments of love Christ had given us.

The commandments of love says that we have to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls, with all our beings, and therefore not just with our eyes and senses, which will then lead into a true faith in God. But this is not enough, as we also have to love our neighbours, our brethren as much as we love ourselves, and as much as we love God. These are the good works that the Church has encouraged us to do, to live and make our faith in God manifest, in our good works for the sake of the less fortunate, the suffering, and the poor around us.

Remember that the Lord said that all that we do for the sake of these around us, we also do it for the Lord. That is because, through our actions, He can see indeed all our living faith, that is not dead, not superficial, and not mere words, and not mere profession of faith. For faith and service are inseparable, and bound to each other tightly in our journey towards the Lord, as the two pillars of strength supporting us in salvation.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us strive, especially in the perfect chance in this Year of Faith, strive to learn more about our faith, about the teachings of the Church, and the traditions of the Apostles passed down through the Church to us. By understanding all these, we can strive to grow deeper in our faith, and even more so through a solemn and active participation in the liturgy of the Mass, as do not forget that the liturgy of the Mass, when done properly and solemnly, can only serve to strengthen our faith in God our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

As the Mass is the very representation of the Holy Sacrifice Christ had made on the cross in Calvary, and united with that Sacrifice, through which we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, transformed from the bread and wine that we offered, we receive Christ into ourselves, that He will live in us, and reside within us, to transform us from within, that our faith in Him will ever be stronger. This is why it is important for us to participate fully and actively in the Mass by seeking to understand more the liturgy and the Mass.

Then of course, after that, let us all strive to make concrete and visible our faith in God through our service to our fellow brethren around us. It will not be easy, but little by little, beginning within even our own homes, our own families, our own friends, we can slowly begin to propagate acts of love, and acts in accordance with God’s will, that will make us justified before God, that is through our living faith, proven by our good works, and not just empty and dead faith, shown only by words and not true dedication.

May God bless all of us today, and bless our Holy Church, and of course, bless the Cardinal-electors and send the Holy Spirit to them that our new Pope will soon be elected. Amen.

Cardinal Keith O’ Brien of Edinburgh resigned amid controversy, and will not participate in Conclave

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/25/cardinal-obrien-resigns-full-statements

The resignation of Cardinal Keith O’ Brien, now Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland, UK, has been accepted by Pope Benedict XVI, and allegations of improper conduct have also arisen against him. As such, he found it wise not to participate in the Conclave, which will happen sometime in March 2013.

Therefore, at this moment, we will have 115 Cardinal-electors barring any other Cardinals who may also skip the Conclave due to poor health such as Cardinal-Patriarch Antonios Naguib of the Coptic Catholics who is reported to be in ill health.

 

With regards to Cardinal O’ Brien, it is easy for many within, and especially from outside the Church of Christ to accuse not only him, but the whole Church itself. Many would be very happy to see the Church destroyed, and therefore, crushing the last bastion of truth and light in our struggle against evil. The world does hate Christ and those who believed in Him. We in the Church, and our leaders are human, and we are all sinners. Indeed, to those who have been given the trust and authority, much responsibility is given too.

Whatever bad things Cardinal O’ Brien had done, much good he had also done as well, in the service of our Lord. We thank him for his long service to God and His Church and pray that he will cooperate in all matters necessary, so that our Church, indeed, will be purged from all evil that has encroached into it in recent years. Indeed, Satan has been so busy working against God and His people that not only that he is not satisfied with just turning the world against us, it also corrupts even those inside, to destroy us.

This is why, the Year of Faith is important, because we must remember first and foremost that no matter what Satan throws at us, our faith must ever be impeccable and strong, and we must always centre ourselves in the love of God, through the Church. So, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray that the Lord will send His Holy Spirit to cleanse, not only our Church, but also the whole world, from Satan the deceiver. Pray for our Pope Benedict XVI who will be retiring soon, and for his soon-to-be elected successor. God bless the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church!

Ut Vivant : Anthem based on the motto of Coadjutor Archbishop William Goh of Singapore

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFf5k965i0w (Anthem from 10:40 to 13:00)

 

Ut Vivant (That they may live)

 

In love You came that we might live,

Help me lead the flock You give.

With passion, compassion, and love divine

May my sacrifice be joined to Thine

Awake now, lion, stand and roar;

The Pilgrim Church of Singapore;

For as my prayer to You ascends,

Let Your sevenfold Gifts descend;

Your Church’s faith restore, renew.

To spread the Gospel in ways anew.

Restore it! Renew it!

In the way of New Evangelisation,

Lead it!

 

‘Pie pellicane’, ‘Heart on fire’;

May Your Glory I desire;

A shepherd’s heart in me implant,

To teach, to serve, and not to want.

Holy Virgin, Star of the sea

Guide me, Mother, pray for me;

From this Year of Faith for souls to strive

And lead them to Eternal life.

 

‘Ut Vivant’, I answer, ‘Ut Vivant!’

O Lord, that they may live.

 

Text by : Coadjutor Archbishop William Goh of Singapore and Sir Dr. Peter Low

Music by : Sir Dr. Peter Low, Knight Commander of the Papal Order of St. Gregory, Choir Master of the Cathedral Choir of the Risen Christ, of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd

Arranged by : Alphonsus Chern, Organist of the Cathedral Choir of the Risen Christ

The Church, the Year of Faith, and Christian Unity : Ut Omnes Unum Sint (That they all may be One)

The Lord never said : “You are Peter, and I will make you the leader amongst thousands of churches and other leaders, and they can have their own customs and choose what they believe in, and we can also do what we like, and what we want.”

He did not say : “Peter, you will be one of the many, in a board of management of My ‘churches’, and that these churches were born from Me.”

No, what He truly said was :

“You are Peter, and on this Rock, I will build My Church (singular), and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven : whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven.”

For our Church is One, and all are united with the successor of St. Peter the Apostle, to whom God has entrusted to feed all of His sheep, and to whom He has entrusted the authority over all of the earth and mankind, the beloved people of God (‘whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven’), and that there is only One Body of Christ, all believing in Christ, and obeying the elders God has appointed over them, of which Peter and his successors are the chief shepherds, the chief elders, who then report to the very Chief Shepherd who will come again at the end of time.

For our faith in Christ is communal as it is personal. This is why we have our bishops, and our beloved Pope, Peter’s successor. For if not so, then all of us can just be our own priests, and just by thinking that we are saved by simply say, “Lord, Lord, I believe in you.”, and shutting ourselves from everyone else, caring only about our salvation.

No, not only will we not be saved by that way, we will be condemned by God, who will judge our ignorance and failure to live our faith by helping others around us, who are less fortunate, and need our help.

When a house is divided against itself, how can it stand and survive? When Satan is divided against himself, he will perish and not stand, just as what Christ said to the Pharisees when they accused Him of using the power of Beelzebub, Satan’s liutenant in casting out demons.

So, therefore, how can God’s Church stand if we are divided against ourselves? In order for us to stand the persecution of Satan in this world, we must first unite and gather our strength, that when Satan and his angels come to scourge God’s beloved people, we will be united as one against him, and as one Church, God will make us all righteous when He comes again in glory.

Let us pray therefore, that in this Year of Faith, our faith in God will ever be strengthened, and will never falter, and that most importantly we can live this faith and put in into action that will be pleasing to the Lord, by serving our fellow men, and thus spreading His Gospel, not just by our words, but by our own actions.

Let us also pray that Ut Omnes Unum Sint, God’s great wish, that all of His faithful may be One, will be accomplished, that every Christian, and everyone who believes in Christ, will all return to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, that is built by God, Christ Himself, on the rock of faith that is Peter. Amen!

 

+Ut Omnes Unum Sint, ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam+
(That they all may be One, for the greater glory of God)

Porta Fidei, the Door of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio – Apostolic Letter released in conjunction with the Year of Faith

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/motu_proprio/documents/hf_ben-xvi_motu-proprio_20111011_porta-fidei_en.html

For those who have yet to see this magnificent letter from the Pope with regards to the Year of Faith and what it is about, and what we should do to immerse ourselves in this rare chance to greatly deepen our faith, you may read the article in English in the link provided above.

This Year of Faith began last year on 11 October 2012, on the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, and will last until the Feast of Christ the King this year on 24 November 2013.

During this year, we will also celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the passing of Blessed Pope John XXIII (3 June 1963) and the 50th Anniversary of the election of the Venerable Pope Paul VI (21 June 1963). Under these two great popes, the crucial Second Vatican Council was begun and proceeded to reform the Church, of which reform still occur even until today, through the ‘reform of the reform’.

Let us take action to make this Year of Faith meaningful if we have not done so. The 2013 World Youth Day will also be held this July in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil(23-28 July 2013), and for those who are planning to go, this is a great chance to rediscover and renew your faith in God.

Let us take the concrete step to pass through the ‘Door of Faith/Porta Fidei’ and reach out to God, who loves us all.

Something to share – Mediator Dei Encyclical by Pope Pius XII on Sacred Liturgy

http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/music/church-documents-on-liturgical-music/mediator-dei.pdf

I find this encyclical to be a good read, especially for those of us who wants to learn more about the liturgy. Remember, the liturgy itself is intricately linked to our faith, and with good understanding of the sacred liturgy, we can deepen our Faith!

Let us strive to learn more about our faith, and about the Mass, about the liturgy, and other things on our faith in this Holy Year of Faith!

 

+Ut Omnes Unum Sint, ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam+