I had not attended a Pentecost Rally for a long time. This year, however, hearing about it from Fr. Thomas, I prayed for the grace to be present. I was grateful to be able to spend a little more than four hours there. I was early, arriving there at about 12.30p.m. and I could have taken the first pew but it was too close to the musicians and singers so I decided to move to the last pew. That was a good move. When the new Bishop William Goh came in, I could see him at close range. Moreover, I saw for myself that the entire congregation seemed to be welcoming a popular personality, almost as if he was a famous movie star or pop singer. The clapping and cheering went on for a short while. It gave me a good feeling to see him so warmly received. Hopefully the Spirit of God will help our local church to have a renewal under this new leadership.
Then the Bishop gave a long talk which was also well received. People were listening intently, and they laughed at the right parts. I thought it was a good sign for people to be open to the preaching and teaching. The Bishop spoke on the two scourges in the world now, affecting everyone including the Catholic Church. He spoke also on Catholics who pick and choose what suits them. As he spoke, I was busy jotting down notes. Should the grace be given, I will post that some time later.
So the church has a new leader, a Spirit-filled leader, a leader who is ready to lead by example, ready to do his utmost to revamp the entire set up in terms of personnel, ways and means. Bishop is a ‘peoples’ person. Praise God! He will spend time to listen, to pray and to act. We praise and thank God for this gift of our Bishop on this very important day of the Church – Pentecost Sunday.
I started this morning to meditate and pray with the Holy Spirit as the Wonderful Counsellor. How apt! Sometimes one has an important decision to make and instead of turning to the Lord in prayer, one allows one’s mind to be jumbled up with all sorts of thoughts, and these thoughts in turn get one all knotted up. Is it any wonder? We need the clarity, the compassion, the care of the Holy Spirit to see us through, and this connection with him must be made. Then one can be clearer and find peace in one’s heart.
Imagine if a new assignment was given me and the task had come so suddenly and unexpectedly that, for a moment, I just got thrown off balance. I would lose my equilibrium, forgetting to look at only what was essential. If I were not focussed on the Wonderful Counsellor and did not turn to Him for help, I might find myself totally worked up for nothing. I would have unwittingly allowed all sorts of obstacles to be placed before me, real or imaginary, and what would happen to my poor heart? Confused. Perplexed.
Wonderful Counsellor, I praise and thank you for who you are. You are the best. Your wisdom and your love for me will see me through all the problems that besiege me. Help me, then, by giving me the grace to always seek your good advice. Let me never fail to turn to you and allow you to lead and direct me. Amen.
A call to discipleship. We have come to the crux of the matter.
The model disciple is our Lady, and we can call on her to pray for us. She was with the apostles in the Upper Room. The men were huddled in fear, afraid and doubtful. Mary prayed with them. She prayed for them. She journeyed with them, experiencing also their pain and at the same time giving them confidence to go on. Like the apostles then we too must let God’s mercy and compassion raise us up. Baptised children of God we are, and so we can come to our Lord, to the wonder of His love. No betrayal or denial can make Him turn away from us. His love surpasses all our understanding. He – our God – is LOVE!
Touching on the homily of Pope Francis, Fr. Jacob once again pointed us to the Cross of Christ. He quoted Matthew 28: 16-20. We are to imitate Him. We are to remember that He is still with us, always, to the end of time.
We are to obey God, and that can be translated to mean our knowing the purpose of our lives. We are to work towards knowing, loving and living as one with God, our God of surprises. We are to obey his commandments if we really love him. No turning back, for sure. The Spirit of Truth given to us will guide us in all truth.
And what is eternal life? It is to know the Lord. It is here and now. We don’t go by the majority but by the truth of God. Praise Him!
We were all invited to write something and then leave it in front of the Cross. I did just that and felt moved. Two hearts beating as one. Two hearts united as one. The Heart of Christ enfolding mine. The Heart of Christ beating in love and my heart tries to beat in tune with His. Praise God!
Last night’s session drove home pointers or reminders such as: as much as we find God a reality in our faith life, we need to remember that we ourselves are the reality of God. We are not mere individuals but united as one body of Christ, and so unity is key.
What is it that needs to draw us together? Fr. Jacob referred us to the first homily of Pope Francis again, and he also shared two stories. An active member in the congregation was invited to share how he first made significant changes to himself before he saw astounding responses from his own wife and children. The role of the family was highlighted as an intimate and loving community at the service of the church and society. Parents and guardians were exhorted to pray with the family and to introduce their children to the life of the church, to read the bible and to believe the saying - The Family That Prays Together Stays Together – holds true.
John 17 – the priestly prayer of Jesus – was again recommended to us. Yes, indeed, read slowly and meditatively, one can indeed be deeply moved. The prayer are really words of love whispered tenderly into one’s ears by the One who first loved us. . . .
What I liked best was the last part when families, from a foetus in the mother’s womb to a very old person in a wheel chair, came to be blessed and prayed over. What a receptive congregation! They had heard the invitation on the first night, and they had come. Praise God!
May Mary our Mother remain to pray, to protect and to guide us to her Son our Lord Jesus, our Brother, our Friend, our Master!
“I’m going to drink the faith of your people”
This is what Fr Jacob Ong our Redemptorist priest said on the opening night of our Pentecost Triduum last evening. The theme of the preparation leading to Pentecost Sunday is from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians – We walk by faith and not by sight.
To discover the gentleness of God. To desire for Christ Himself. The prayer of Jesus in John 17 speaks of His love for us, His desire to be one with Him as He is one with the Father. Can we be still and know that He is God? How can we, on this first night of the Triduum and focussing on the community be Church, the body of Christ?
A wonderful moment. We had a wonderful moment last night indeed. For me it was a moment that stopped in time so that I was totally lost in the embrace of my God, the God who says to me, ‘Courage! I have conquered the world! ‘
In my faith journey, I do encounter many challenges and sometimes one does wonder when all this toiling will cease. At the same time, there is always the reassuring Presence of Christ who makes it evident to me that I am never alone and that His Holy Spirit of love, truth and grace accompanies me daily. Praise God!
Fr Jacob reminded us of a recent homily of Pope Francis where he had reiterated again and again that without the Cross we are not the disciples of Christ. True – no servant is greater than his master. We are therefore called to be living stones building up the community in love and service. We are anointed and consecrated people of God – priestly people, kingly people, holy people, God’s chosen people. Perfect we are not. Ups and downs in our lives accompany us throughout till the journey is made. So we can just do our best and leave the rest to our Lord. The Father has sent us His Son, and we believe. Yes, we believe and we will walk by faith and not by sight. We will walk, confident that as a body of Christ, our hands are holding on to our Lord’s and to one another, and together we will complete the race, fight the good fight and win the eternal glory prepared for us since the foundation of the world.
And so with renewed faith we can all journey in faith in the Lord. And always there is our Blessed Mother who accompanies us and prays for us. She protects us as she loves us so.
The evening ended with adoration and benediction. Many were touched. Many opened their hearts and received the healing love of our Eucharistic Lord. I do believe that many who came slept more peacefully last night. See you this evening!
It is Christ who has called you to follow him in the consecrated life and this means to continually engage in an “exodus” from yourselves to center your existence on Christ and on his Gospel, on the will of God, divesting yourselves of your plans, to be able to say with Saint Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
The above is a quotation taken from Pope Francis. I was doing my Lectio Divina on Tuesday morning when I ‘saw’ for myself a crucifix. On the crucifix I saw our Lord Jesus nailed to the Cross. He had laid down His life for us all. On the other side of the crucifix was a smaller figure – mine. Then the words of St Paul came to me: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
It took me some moments to understand the impact of what I was meditating on. Put in another way, I can say that I am being invited to put out into the deep, to go the extra mile, to move out of my comfort zone. All very well for me to meditate on such thoughts but to be able to carry it out would definitely need divine assistance. Apart from Him I can do nothing. In Him who strengthens me, I can do all things. I can scale any wall – and I love this one which comes from one of the psalms.
The faith journey continues. . . Like the mountaineer on the mountain he has started ascending, one must persevere. No turning back, no turning back.
Thank God our Lord remains with us to lead us on! Praise Him!
Finally ecclesiality as one of the constitutive dimensions of consecrated life, a dimension that must constantly be taken up and deepened in life.
Your vocation is an essential charism for the journey of the Church, and it is not possible that a consecrated woman and a consecrated man not “feel” along with the Church.
A “feeling” along with the Church which was generated in us in our Baptism; a “feeling” with the Church which finds its filial expression in fidelity to the Magisterium, in communion with the pastors and the Successor of Peter, Bishop of Rome, the visible sign of unity.
Know always how to exercise authority by accompanying, understanding, helping, loving, embracing all men and women, especially persons who feel alone, excluded, arid — the existential peripheries of the human heart. Let us keep our sight fixed on the Cross: placed there is all authority in the Church, where He who is the Lord makes himself a servant to the point of total gift of himself.
For every Christian, the proclamation and witnessing of the Gospel are never an isolated act.
This is important.
For every Christian the proclamation and witnessing of the Gospel are never an isolated or group act, and no evangelizers acts, as Paul VI reminded very well, “on the strength of a personal inspiration, but in union with the mission of the Church and in her name” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 80).
And Paul VI continued:
It is an absurd dichotomy to think of living with Jesus without the Church, of following Jesus outside of the Church, of loving Jesus without loving the Church (cf. Ibid., 16).
Feel the responsibility you have to take care of the formation of your Institutes in the healthy doctrine of the Church, in love of the Church and in the ecclesial spirit.
A second element that I would like to stress in the service of authority is service.
We must not forget that true power, at whatever level, is service, which has its luminous summit on the Cross.
With great wisdom Benedict XVI reminded the Church many times that for man, authority is often synonymous with possession, dominion, success.
For God authority is always synonymous with service, humility, love. It means to enter into Jesus’ logic, who bends down to wash the feet of the Apostles (cf. Angelus, January 29, 2012), and who says to his disciples:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them …. it shall not be so among you; in fact, the motto of your assembly, no? ‘it shall not be so among you’; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave” (Matthew 20:25-27).
We think of the harm inflicted on the People of God by men and women of the Church who are careerists, social climbers, who “use” the people, the Church, brothers and sisters – those they should serve — as trampolines for their own personal interests and ambitions. But these do great harm to the Church.