Wednesday, September 30, 2009

October - Month of the Rosary

The month of October each year is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary. This is primarily due to the fact that the liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated annually on October 7. It was instituted to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in gratitude for the protection that she gives the Church in answer to the praying of the Rosary by the faithful.

The feast was introduced by Pope St. Pius V (1504-1572) in the year 1571 to commemorate the miraculous victory of the Christian forces in the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. The pope attributed more to the "arms" of the Rosary than the power of cannons and the valor of the soldiers who fought there.

Legend tells us that the Rosary as a form of prayer was given to St. Dominic (1170- 1221) by Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, who entrusted it to him as an aid in the conflicts with the Albigensians. The Dominican pope, St. Pius V, did much to further the spread of the Rosary and it thereafter became one of the most popular devotions in Christendom. It was the same Pope St. Pius V, who in 1569 officially approved the Rosary in its present form with the Papal Bull, Consueverunt Romani Pontifices. It had been completed by the addition of the second half of the "Hail Mary" and the "Glory be to the Father" at the conclusion of each mystery.

Current scholarship traces the development of the Rosary to the High Middle Ages where it came into being in various medieval monasteries as a substitute for the Divine Office for the lay monks and devout lay persons who did not know how to read. Instead of the 150 psalms, they would pray 150 "Our Fathers" counting them on a ring of beads known as the crown or "corona." With the growth of popularity of Marian devotion in the twelfth century, the "Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary" developed now substituting 150 "Hail Marys" in place of the "Our Fathers."

The 150 "Hail Marys" were subsequently subdivided into fifteen decades by the young Dominican friar, Henry Kalkar (1328-1408), with each decade referring to an event in the life of Jesus and Mary. The Dominican, Alanus de Rupe (1428-1478) further divided the episodes in the history of salvation into the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries. He also attributed the origin of the Rosary, then known as the "Psalter of the Blessed Virgin" to St. Dominic and thus spurred the Dominican Order to make the Apostolate of the Rosary their special concern. The Dominicans have, since then, promulgated the Rosary with notable results.

The practice of dedicating the entire month of October to the Holy Rosary developed toward the end of the last century. Pope Leo XIII (papacy: 1878-1903) strongly promoted the increase of devotion to the Blessed Mother by encouraging the constant use of the Rosary.

Beginning on September 1, 1883, with Supremo Apostolatus Officio, he wrote a total of eleven encyclicals on the Rosary , ending with Diuturni Temporis in 1898. We are currently celebrating the centennial of these papal encyclicals.

Many other popes have contributed to help increase devotion to the Rosary by their writings. In the recent past, Pope Paul VI ( papacy: 1963-1978) devoted the last section of his Apostolic Exhortation MARIALIS CULTUS to the Angelus and the Rosary (MC 40-55). In this document, he wrote that "the Rosary retains an unaltered value and intact freshness." (MC, 41)

The Rosary is primarily a scriptural prayer. This can be summarized by the traditional phrase used by Pope Pius XII (papacy: 1939-1958) that the Rosary is " a compendium of the entire Gospel" (AAS 38 [1946] p. 419). The Rosary draws its mysteries from the New Testament and is centered on the great events of the Incarnation and Redemption.

the late Pope John Paul II called the Rosary his favorite prayer, in which we meditate with Mary upon the mysteries which she as a mother meditated on in her heart (Lk. 2:19) (Osservatore Romano, 44; 30 Oct. 1979).

Pope John Paul II issued Rosarium Virginis Mariae - Apostolic Letter on Rosary of the Virgin Mary. He declared October 2002 ­- October 2003 The Year of the Rosary, and added Mysteries of Light that focus on events of Christ's ministry.

Pope Benedict XVI has reaffirmed the Church's long standing tradition to this beautiful tradition. He said, "Today, together we confirm that the Holy Rosary is not a pious practice banished to the past, like prayers of other times thought of with nostalgia. Instead, the Rosary is experiencing a new springtime. Without a doubt, this is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourishes for Jesus and his Mother, Mary. In the current world, so dispersive, this prayer helps to put Christ at the centre, as the Virgin did, who meditated within all that was said about her Son, and also what he did and said. When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ's mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can "water" society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God. The Rosary, when it is prayed in an authentic way, not mechanical and superficial but profoundly, it brings, in fact, peace and reconciliation. It contains within itself the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the centre of each "Hail Mary".

In this month of October, let us consider this beautiful prayer of the Rosary as a means that we too can use in order to draw closer to Jesus and Mary by meditating on the great mysteries of our salvation.

Tomorrow evening, October 1st starting at 7.00 pm, there will be Rosary Devotion in 3 languages followed by the Eucharist.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Feast of the Archangels: Ss. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael - September 29

Angels are an essential part of the Christian faith. They are a "truth of the faith" and are mentioned over a hundred times in the Bible. Tomorrow, September 29th, the Church's liturgy celebrates the Feast of the Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

Michael (Who is like God?)(Hebrew: מִיכָאֵל‎, Micha'el or Mîkhā'ēl; Greek: Μιχαήλ, Mikhaḗl; Latin: Michael or Míchaël; Arabic: میکائیل‎, Mikā'īl) was the archangel who fought against Satan and all his evil angels, defending all the friends of God. He is the protector of all humanity from the snares of the devil. The symbols of Saint Michael, the one God appointed to drive Satan and his followers out of heaven and who stood baring the entrance to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were forced to leave it are dragons, swords, and the scales of justice.

Gabriel (Strength of God)(Hebrew: גַּבְרִיאֵל, Modern Gavriʼel Tiberian Gaḇrîʼēl; Latin: Gabrielus; Greek: Γαβριήλ, Gabriēl; Arabic: جبريل, Jibrīl or جبرائيل Jibrail; Aramaic: Gabri-el) announced to Zachariah the forthcoming birth of John the Baptist, and to Mary, the birth of Jesus. His greeting to the Virgin, "Hail, full of grace," is one of the most familiar and frequent prayers of the Christian people. Gabriel, the messenger is represented by a lily, the flower of purity.

Raphael (Medicine of God)(Standard Hebrew רָפָאֵל, Rāp̄āʾēl, "It is God who heals", "God Heals", "God, Please Heal", Arabic: رافائيل, Rāfāʾīl) is the archangel who took care of Tobias on his journey.Raphael, the guide and healer is symbolised with loaves, fishes and an ointment jar.

From the sixth century to 1970, September 29 was originally observed as Michaelmas Day and honored only St. Michael. St. Gabriel was observed on March 24 and St. Raphael on October 24. Since 1970, September 29 has been celebrated as the Feast of all three Archangels.

The Orthodox Church also pays honour to the Archangels on a different day, November 8th, which they call the "Synaxis of the Archangels." The Orthodox believe that Archangels comprise only one of the ranks of angels. They believe there are Seven Archangels. "Michael, Gabriel and Raphael" are descriptive titles as their names are too terrible for men to know. Here, these three give honor to Jesus Christ and reveal Him to mankind.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (328, 329, 330) has this to say about angels in general:

“The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.

St. Augustine says: ‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ’spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are , ’spirit’ from what they do ‘angel.’ With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they ‘always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven’ they are the ‘might ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word.”

As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.”

For a comparative description of the archangels, go to the posting in the AMEIA blog.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bulletin Announcement - September 25th - 26th

Clergy Annual Retreat
All priests of the Church in Peninsular Malaysia will be away on retreat at various times during the month of September. The retreat dates of our priests:

• Fr. George Packiasamy from 22 to 29 Sep, 2009
(Please continue to keep him and all other priests in your prayers)

Start of Month of Rosary
1st October, Thursday

As this Thursday is the start of the month of the rosary, we shall have a special celebration in the evening:
7.00 pm Rosary Devotion
7.30 pm Mass

(There will be no Holy Hour)

Chapel of St. Theresa, Nilai
Feast Day and Triduum
2nd to 4th October

2nd October (Fri.) @7:00 p.m.
- Novena followed by Mass

3rd October (Sat.) @ 7:00 p.m.
- Novena followed by Mass & Candle-light Procession

4th October (Sun) @ 10.00 am
Novena followed by Mass

For further details,
please refer to the Notice Board.

Integral Human Development Ministry 6th AGM

Date: 2nd October 2009, Friday
Venue: Visitation Hall, Downstairs

All ministries of the parish IHD must attend. Those interested to join are welcomed too.

Formation for Parents of First Holy Communion Class
Video Presentation: Mass Explained

Open to all

Date: 27-9-2009 (Sun.)
Time : 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Venue: Visitation Hall (downstairs)

Holy Childhood Collection 2009

The Pontifical Mission Societies of Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei has asked again for this collection which will begin on Mission Sunday, 18th October 2009.

Children of Sunday School are to collect the cans from their respective Class Catechists and stickers for this purpose.

Kursus Persiapan Pra-Perkahwinan

Tempat: APC, Jalan Robertson, Off Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur
Tarikh: 23-25 October
Yuran: RM250.00 (sepasang)

Borang boleh didapati dari Pejabat Paroki dan Borang yang sudah siap diisi harus dikembalikan ke Pejabat Paroki St. Anthony, Pudu, semasa waktu pejabat.

Infant Baptism

The next infant baptism will be held on the 4th of October 2009 (Sunday) at 11.45 am. Instruction for parents/ godparents will be on the 3rd of October (Saturday) at 7.30 pm in the classroom. Baptism forms are to be submitted to the Parish Office by 1st October 2009.

ACTM Formation on 30-9-09 (Wednesday)
8.00 to 9.00 pm
Visitation Hall
All 3 language groups
Zone Coordinators, BEC Coordinators, Assistant Coordinators, Youth Representatives, Messengers and Liturgy Rep are required to attend.

Catholic Marriage Preparation Course in English
The last CMPC course for 2009 will commence on Sep 26th.
Please register with Mark & Irene Hendroff
House: 06-633 5829
H/P: 016-685 8395

Couples intending to get married within the next 6 months, kindly sign up for the course. Please contact the priests of the Parish at least 6 months prior to the intended date of marriage.

Love & Life Seminar 2009
(7 day programme organized by ASAYO_
Date: 10 to 16th December, 2009
Venue: I.J. Convent, Cheras
Fee: RM150.00
Ages: 17-22 years old.
Closing Date – 20/11/2009
Forms are available at the Parish Office. For further details please refer to the Notice Board

Results of Mt. Miriam Hospital Merdeka Grand Charity Raffle
Please refer to Notice Board.
Prizes are to be redeemed within 30 days from the draw date (31st August)

Thursday, September 24, 2009










Recognising the Gifts of Others ... or being threatened by them

Twenty Sixth Ordinary Sunday Year B

Last week’s readings, if you remember, spoke of jealousy and ambition and how these things can destroy the community and our relationship with one another. Today’s readings continue with the same theme and how jealousy can also be an obstacle to the mission of Christ and of his Church.

The Church is the Body of Christ. Like any human body, it has many parts. Each part of the body has a special role and purpose. Hands are use for writing, lifting, holding and carrying. Hands are not meant for walking. That’s the role of our feet. Feet are meant for walking and not for writing. Likewise, our eyes are meant for seeing and our ears are meant for hearing. The eyes can’t say to the ears – “we don’t need you”; “we can take over your roles.” Similarly, the ears can’t take over the role of the eyes.

The image of the Body is important in understanding today’s readings. Jealousy often blinds us to the importance and roles of others. We often think that whatever we do is the most important thing. We feel that our role is indispensable. We feel irritated when others seem to be doing the same thing. When competition enters into church life, the mission of Christ is interrupted.

We see this happening both in the first reading and in the gospel. In the first reading, some of the elders that were appointed by Moses and who had received the spirit from him felt threatened by those others who had not gone through the same selection and yet received the spirit. They could not understand that God gives his spirit to whoever he chooses. God’s election of his people is totally free. His hands cannot be tied. Some people cannot claim to have a monopoly over God, or his Spirit, or the Truth. God gives himself to all. The same thing happened with the disciples of Christ. They felt threatened by another man who was able to cast out devils. They saw him as a competitor. But Jesus saw him differently. Jesus could recognize the gift of the spirit in this man. Jesus makes this important observation: “Anyone who is not against us is for us.”

We must not see each other as competitors. Rather, we must always encourage the gifts, talents and contributions of others. We can do this only if we remember that we all part of the Body of Christ. We can only do this if we realize that we have one common mission, the same mission of Jesus Christ, that is to build God’s kingdom and not our own kingdoms.

Let us examine ourselves in today’s mass. Are we an obstacle to others? Do we encourage the use of talents and gifts in this community or are we fonder of criticizing others? Are we more concerned with our own activities and projects rather than with building the community and doing God’s will?

If we have been guilty of some of this faults, if we have been jealous of others in the community, if we have been an obstacle to others, if we have failed to give encouragement, then it is time for change. We must be prepared to change ourselves and not others. This is what Jesus meant when he said: “if your hand or foot or eye should cause you to sin, cut it off.” Stop blaming others. Start taking responsibilities for the problems that we have brought to this community. Then there will be salvation for us and for the whole community.

Pastoral Visit To Zone / BEC Leaders

Since last year, the priests of the parish together with the Parish BEC Animating Team (BECAT) members have been visiting the various zones in the parish. The reason for such a visit is certainly the sincere intention of the priests and the BECAT to listen to the problems and difficulties faced by our BEC and Zone leaders and to encourage them in their important ministry in helping build this parish into an authentic Communion of Communities. After a break of a few months due to Lent, and the months leading up to the Parish Feast and thereafter, the pastoral visits have been resumed.

Each visit begins with a time of prayer and reflection, leading the leadership of the zone to reflect on the nature of their pastoral ministry and commitment towards it. The BEC leaders, thereafter, will give their respective report of the state of affairs in each BEC. A dialogue with the priests and the BECAT team follows, as suggestions on how to face or resolve some of the problems highlighted are discussed and fine-tuned. At the end of the end of the visit, the priests and the BECAT Team members pray over the Zone and BEC leaders as a sign of recommissioning.

Let us join together to pray for our BEC and Zone leaders that will be men and women committed to their special vocation in this pastoral ministry of building small communities:

Heavenly Father,
We gather today in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ
and the by power of the Spirit
that we may commend these Zone and BEC leaders into your loving care.
May they be enthusiastic in their ministry and proclaim your presence through word and deed.
May the Word of God find a home in their hearts
May it connect with their lives and nourish and encourage them
May your Word give them meaning and direction
so that they may serve those placed under their pastoral care
and leadership with humility and commitment
We pray that empowered by the Spirit,
they may bring joy to people who are sad,
And hope to people who are desolate
and courage to people who are afraid.
We make this prayer in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who are the Pentecostals?

Catholics often tend to group all other Christians together under the label of Protestants without fully appreciating the significant differences and nuances in theology and practice of one Protestant group from another. Here's an interesting article by Matthew Del Nevo, published in Terra Spiritus, an online magazine (September 23) that helps us understand a significant segment of Christians and demonstrates the major differences and similarities with other churches or ecclesial communities.

Pentecostals are always local congregations. Last year the Assemblies of God (AoG) – the biggest Pentecostal network – to the annoyance of various Protestant groups – rebranded themselves, Australian Christian Churches (ACC). The reason was because ‘Assemblies of God’ sounded weird and old-fashioned, which I think is quite true.

Catholics tend to know as little about Pentecostals as Pentecostals know about Catholics. Each has stereotyped views of the other, and stereotypes which, rather than being helpful, are largely mistaken. At the personal level, most Pentecostals will know some Catholics. Normally they will see Catholics as somewhat ‘unconverted’. But most Catholics, being good humoured and not fanatical, wouldn’t deny this either. Most Catholics would consider themselves, I imagine, ‘sufficiently converted’. Also, Pentecostals would be likely to regard being Catholic as like being Jewish, because Catholic is something you are born into – or so it would seem to them. Whereas, Pentecostalism is something you ascribe to; it is a choice. So, for instance, a Pentecostal doesn’t attend church by habit or custom (generally) or because of parentage, but because their experience is that church is the best thing happening on Sunday morning – perhaps the best thing that happens all week.

Catholics tend to think of Pentecostalism as emotive Protestantism. Most Catholics know a Pentecostal or two. In Sydney, Hillsong church has such a large congregation that it is said everyone in the entire city knows someone who attends services there. The mass media has a lot to do with shaping our misconceptions. While Catholicism is well represented in the press, and we even have our own newspapers like the Catholic Weekly, Pentecostalism – more particularly Hillsong, as the most visible sign of it in the Australian landscape – have been consistently under vitriolic attack, at least in Sydney. Only if you know something about Pentecostalism and then you read the newspaper attacks, do you know how wrong they are.

The fact is that Catholics have something in common with Pentecostals which Pentecostals don’t have in common with Protestants – and this has to do with spirituality. At the basis of Protestant churches is a ‘Confession of Faith’. These Confessions look like the ancient creeds and are modelled on them. However, whereas the ancient creeds are ‘symbols of faith’, and essentially circumscribe the limits of faith, the Protestant Confessions are dogmatic and ideological statements that particularise and specify faith with certainty. All the old Protestant Confessions of faith have an intentional anti-Catholic stance. Later Protestant Confessions are often pitched against other Protestant Confessions in imitation of the original Confessions that pitched themselves against the Catholic Church. By contrast to all this, Pentecostal churches are not Confessional. This is how their ‘non-denominationalism’ differs from Protestant non-denominational churches. They are not essentially confessional; instead, Pentecostal churches are Spirit-led rather than belief-based. Being ‘Spirit-led’, becomes not a fundamental ideology, but a guiding vision for the local congregation, put into the heart of the Senior Pastor by the touch of God. This way of saying it is itself ‘spiritual’. Today, Pentecostal academics speak in the plural of ‘Pentecostalisms’, but one thing this plurality shares is that Christianity is about real relationship with God, specifically with Jesus. By contrast, the Protestant focus is on right belief.

While Protestantism is belief-based, Pentecostals by contrast will discover their beliefs through their experience of God. For Protestants, belief comes first and foremost; for Pentecostals, belief is discovered. So, for example, on the touchiest of issues, the Bible; while both Protestants and Pentecostals will say they are ‘Bible-based’, this is true in completely different and incompatible ways. Pentecostals approach the Bible in the Holy Spirit, expecting God to speak to them and lead them and show them, expecting revelation and encouragement and guidance. Not unlike Catholic lectio divina. And most Pentecostals will read the Bible like this devotedly and daily. Protestants, by contrast, although they claim to be ‘Bible-based’ always approach the Bible within the parameters of the Confession of Faith of their church. They will find their Confession of Faith confirmed and elaborated in the Bible, but not contradicted. What is happening is that though they are ostensibly ‘Bible-based’, they are reading their Bible in the first place in terms of their Confession of Faith. Protestant Biblicism remains fundamentally ideological in stance. Theology is deployed to deal with anything that contradicts the Confession of Faith – and this marks the ideological basis of Protestant theology, by and large. So, for instance, in the conservative Reformed tradition, ‘justification by faith alone’ as taught by Paul in Romans is regarded as the key to the whole Bible and thus Romans is the most important book. The fact that James says faith alone doesn’t justify us, but that we need works (James 2:24), is either played down, as not an important letter, or as relatively true in particular circumstances, but never in any way that could mitigate the fundamental truth that we are justified by faith alone – and Protestants of this stamp will be able to tell you exactly what ‘justified by faith alone’ means, if you are not sure. Pentecostals, on the other hand, talk about real relationship with God. This relationship is an experience not a doctrine. The Bible will not confirm their beliefs but point them into real relationship with God and set them up for that experience.

I have been publishing articles on Pentecostalism – and am soon to complete a book on the subject – in which I argue, put bluntly, that Pentecostalism is as different from Protestantism as Protestantism is from Catholicism. I believe this to be true. I hope an effect of my writing (whether direct or indirect, it doesn’t matter) will be to loosen Pentecostalism from the throes of Protestantism, particularly in North America which is such an influential sector on both scores (of Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism).

There in North America, Evangelical Theology dominates the Pentecostal mentality. This is not such a bad thing in some respects as the church should always be evangelistic (mission oriented), but the dominance of Evangelical Theology, of the Calvinistic Reformed variety primarily, squashes and flattens the truth of Pentecostalism; the truth that it is Spirit-led before it is belief-based. This Evangelicalism can be dangerous to Pentecostalism as a movement of the Spirit, because it leads to an ideological style of Christianity and a theology dominated by academic Professors of Theology, rather than a community of people with a Spirit-led leader. Of course, there are dangers in charismatic leadership, as we know all too well. If Pentecostalisms can theologically and philosophically free themselves from Protestant Evangelicalism, this can only enable them the better to move in the Spirit, which is what Pentecostalism does best and what Pentecostalism is fundamentally about. Pentecostals are never fundamentalists, unless you call the Holy Spirit itself ‘fundamentalist’, which would be an absurd thing to say. Pentecostals are spiritual realists who take the real presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and churches with absolute seriousness, and not, therefore, as a nice idea but as an experience.

While I have referred to Pentecostalism as a movement of the Spirit, it is different to the Catholic charismatic movement. The Catholic charismatic movement presupposes that the person involved is well churched to begin with. To someone off the street, charismatic Catholicism would seem pretty weird and (to put it positively) ‘super-spiritual’. Pentecostalism, by contrast, is marked by its secularity. It is not super-spiritual, its spirituality is very normal. So, for instance, at a Catholic charismatic meeting someone you have never met may prophecy over you and the person sitting next to you may suddenly stand up and start singing for no apparent reason right in the middle of proceedings, or to pray aloud; whereas at a Pentecostal meeting you are more likely to hear something encouraging and empowering for someone living a hum-drum existence. One of the things Pentecostal churches pride themselves on, and in fact stand upon, is the fact that Joe Blow can come in off the street on a Sunday morning and find it fun, energising and exciting, and not be put-off by any weird ‘religious’ antics. Pentecostals have a very matter-of-fact sense of the miraculous and supernatural, one which actually gels with popular culture and ordinary life. They don’t theologise a lot about it, but their churches lean wholly on it. An outcome of Pentecostal secularity is that it keeps the church leadership grounded, and prevents it from becoming charismatic in that cultic sense that we get in religious cults and often in politics. But the downside is that it can lead to (and does in fact lead to) a celebrity culture within the churches. Although, that said, the celebrity preachers and leaders, like any secular celebrities, need ‘star quality’ and need to sustain that star quality in everyone’s eyes, particularly, presumably, God’s.

Another marker of the secularity of Pentecostalism is popularity. Secularity thrives on popularity and ‘demand’ and spreads to every corner of the globe on this basis. Pentecostalism has only really taken off in a big way since the early 1970s; before this it had much narrower focus and more cultic characteristics. But in a few decades global Pentecostal numbers are double the entirety of the Protestant world, including every shade of Protestantism, and including global Anglicanism. If to this number you added the entire Orthodox world, including every shade of Orthodoxy, the Pentecostal numbers are still slightly greater. These stupendous numbers have been achieved only since the 1970s. Take one extra-ordinary example. The ‘Christ for All Nations’ ministry led by Reinhard Bonnke in various parts of Africa, including Muslim countries, has brought nearly 100 million people into local Pentecostal churches since the year 2000. His witnessing ministry alone has shaken whole nations and is of historic proportions; but I’ve never seen one mention of it in a newspaper here.

Only Catholics outnumber Pentecostals. But in the 1990s, in one decade, 44 million people left the Catholic Church in Brazil, numerically the world’s most Catholic country. Not all, but the vast majority of these joined Pentecostal churches. They wouldn’t have joined typical belief-based Protestant churches, because a Catholic comes from an apostolic church, not a belief-based church. I believe that a shift like this – from Catholic to Pentecostal – can only happen if in Pentecostal churches there is something already there – a consonance – that Catholic people recognise, appreciate, and can appropriate. And this would be the emphasis on spiritual experience and the strong emphasis on the real presence of the Holy Spirit – indeed the exciting and palpable presence of the Holy Spirit in worship. It would be my guess that this is what would attract Catholics in Latin America. Pentecostal churches are making big inroads into secular Europe too. While in England church-going Catholics now outnumber Church of England attendees, the second biggest Sunday congregation in the British Isles is Hillsong London, which only started in 2001 and attracts such crowds to its services in the Dominion Theatre on the corner of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road in W1 that there are queues to get in and crowds left outside after the venue has reached capacity. This signals vitality as well as popularity. The biggest congregation in Britain are the African Pentecostals, which is another story. According to The Times, the growth in Catholic numbers at church has mainly to do with migration, while by contrast the growth in Pentecostal numbers has to do with Christian evangelism. Yes, even cynical, secular, stay-at-home Brits are actually deciding to go to church on a Sunday morning.

I will have to leave these thoughts here. They may raise many questions in my reader. Does Pentecostalism pose a crisis for Catholicism? What should be the proper stance of the Catholic Church toward Pentecostalism? Indeed what is the stance of Catholic Church towards Protestantism? My comments point to the fact that it needs to be a different kind of dialogue with Pentecostals than with Protestants. The reality is that Catholic-Pentecostal dialogue is going on in Rome and is very fruitful.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

VSPF Dinner and Dance 2009

Some were grooving, while others were REALLY GROOVING!!!! Hope to see all of you next year!

Groovy Great Time with Seniors - Visitation Senior Parishioners Fellowship Annual Dinner & Dance 2009

September 21 - Tonight saw both young and old taking to the dance floor after a hearty seven course Chinese dinner organised by the Visitation Senior Parishioners Fellowship (VSPF). This annual dinner and dance event has been successfully organised by the very active and dedicated members of the VSPF who were able to sell out all 50 tables at Min Kok Chinese Restaurant. The members of the VSPF meet every second Sunday of the month in the Church's Recreation Corner (Canteen) as they gather for fellowship and camaraderie. It's an opportunity to croon both evergreen oldies as well learn new pop hits. The evening was animated by our own talented local MC (who's a senior Bank officer too), Steven and the songs were belted out by a live band which called themselves "Countrymix", with VSPF member, Alan Wooden, on the guitar.

The night started off with the committee members getting on stage to sing two numbers, one being the VSPF anthem. Mariadass, the president then delivered his opening address and thanked everyone for supporting this annual event. The dishes and dance numbers were interspersed with lucky Draws. Fr. Clement was assigned the task of choosing the best dancer for the evening, a most difficult assignment! In no time, everyone warmed up to the dance floor.

Committee members at the entrance of the restaurant to "welcome" all
Guests patiently waiting for dinner
VSPF Committee Members on stage belting out their anthem accompanied by Countrymix Band
Soon everyone can't resist but to boogie on the dance floor
Even Fr. Clement sportingly joins in the fray and shows his prowess at dancing!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Test: Do you appreciate your priest?

Spanish Bishop Composes Test

PALENCIA, Spain, SEPT. 18, 2009 ( The Year for Priests isn't just an internal celebration among the clergy, but rather an opportunity for all the faithful to assess their appreciation for the priesthood, says Bishop José Ignacio Munilla of Palencia.

"Do we appreciate the priesthood and love our priests?" the bishop asked in a posting on the Web site of his dioceses.

To answer this question, the bishop composed -- "with a bit of humor" -- the following test titled "Priestly Appreciation." The test is complete with instructions to evaluate your answers and your level of appreciation for the priesthood.

* * *

1. Have you prayed recently for your parish priest, your bishop or the Pope?

a. I don't even know their names.

b. At Mass there is usually prayer for them, and I add myself in that petition.

c. I do so every day in my personal prayer.

2. Have you disclosed your conscience to a priest, trusting that he can help you in your problems?

a. Each one has to solve his problems.

b. "Four eyes see more than two." It is always good to listen to and accept the advice of someone who can help us.

c. The greatest help I have received from a priest has been when his advice was joined to God's forgiveness in the sacrament of confession.

3. When I hear among my friends comments criticizing priests ...

a. I followed their lead, so as not to stand out.

b. I tuned out, and pretended to think of something else.

c. I said what I thought, giving witness to my faith.

4. I see in a priest ...

a. A "relic" of the past.

b. A "professional" of religion.

c. A minister of God; "another Christ" among us.

5. How many times have you invited the parish priest to your home?

a. The priest is only called when someone has died.

b. When grandmother is with us, he usually brings Communion.

c. Several times. I was delighted when he told us the story of his vocation at the dinner table.

6. When you hear a priest give a homily ...

a. I listen, if he has good oratorical skills.

b. I listen, I am interested in the topic he is addressing.

c. I see him as an instrument through which God is speaking to me.

7. When a collection is taken up for seminaries ...

a. I think, "Priests" are always begging.

b. I say to myself, there are collections for so many things! One more!

c. I collaborate gladly, because I believe no vocation should be frustrated because of lack of financial means.

8. When I see an elderly priest in the Church or on the street ...

a. I think the Church is on the decline.

b. I hope he says the Mass quickly.

c. I thank God for his fidelity and for all the good he might have done.

9. When I see a young priest at the altar ...

a. I mistrust his lack of experience. What is he going to say to me?

b. I observe what he does and "classify" him.

c. I thank God for his vocation and pray intensely for him.

10. How would you react if your son said he wants to be a priest?

a. I would ask him if he's gone mad, and I would remind him that we must take into consideration what others might think.

b. I would ask him to give it considerable thought and to have a university degree first.

c. It would give me one of the greatest joys of my life, and I would support him fully.

11. Have you asked a child, adolescent or young man about the possibility of being a priest some day?

a. I don't get into jams. Let everyone live his life.

b. I am of the opinion that all vocations must be appreciated, even if they are different from our own.

c. Yes, I have thought of someone specifically, and I pray for him ... One of these days, "I will let him know."

12. What do you think of the expression of the Saintly Curé d'Ars: "The priest is the love of Jesus' heart"?

a. I think it is a disembodied spiritualism.

b. I think that can only be said of a saintly priest.

c. I believe it is exactly so, though "they have this treasure in earthen vessels" (2 Corinthians 4:7).

* * *

Guide to evaluating the results:

If the letter "a" appears in the majority of your answers, I am surprised that this test reached your hands. But, I thank God that this happened so that I can tell you as the priest that I am, that God loves you the point of folly and that he expects from you an answer of love.

If you have responded to the majority of questions with the letter "b," I would like to tell you that you are not enjoying the treasures that God is offering you through the priesthood.

But if the letter "c" is yours, then I ask you not to cease to pray to God for the sanctification of priests and for the increase of priestly vocations, because I am very sure that God is going to listen to you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Feast of St. Matthew, September 21

As our Muslim brothers and sisters celebrate Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, we Catholics celebrate tomorrow the feast of a great evangelist, St. Matthew. Matthew the Evangelist (מתי/מתתיהו, "Gift of Yahweh", Standard Hebrew and Tiberian Hebrew: Mattay or Mattithyahu; Septuagint Greek: Ματθαίος, Matthaios, Modern Greek: Ματθαίος, Matthaíos), most often called Saint Matthew, is a Christian figure, and one of Jesus's Twelve Apostles. He is credited by tradition with writing the Gospel of Matthew, and is identified in that gospel as being the same person as Levi the publican (tax-collector).

Matthew the Evangelist is complex for a number of reasons. Both Epiphanius and Jerome state that Matthew wrote the Gospel according to the Hebrews. The gospel to bear the name "Matthew" was written anonymously, with tradition ascribing authorship to Matthew at a later date. Both the style of Greek used and the means of describing events leads a few to conclude that the author of the gospel was not a companion of the historic Jesus. Some use the designation "Matthew the Evangelist" to refer to the anonymous gospel author, and "Matthew the Apostle" to refer to the Biblical figure described. Christian tradition holds that they are the same person.

Matthew's depiction in the New Testament is likewise complex. In the gospels of Mark and Luke, as well as in the Acts of the Apostles, Matthew is mentioned without any title, identifier, descriptions, or actions. Virtually nothing besides his apostleship can be determined from these accounts, and he is not mentioned at all in the Gospel of John or subsequent epistles.

The Gospel of Matthew, on the other hand, names Matthew as the publican called by Jesus, whom the other gospels name "Levi". This gospel subsequently gives Matthew the title "the tax collector" in its list of the Twelve Apostles. Christian tradition holds that Matthew and Levi were, in fact, two names for the same person (similarly, tradition posits a "Jude Thaddeus" to reconcile the Jude of Luke and Acts with the Thaddeus of Matthew and Mark).

According to the tradition of the Catholic Church, St. Matthew is the author of the first Gospel. He was the son of Alpheus and was called to be an Apostle while sitting in the tax collectors place at Capernaum. Before his conversion he was a publican, i.e., a tax collector by profession.

His apostolic activity was at first restricted to the communities of Palestine. Nothing definite is known about his later life. There is a tradition that points to Ethiopia as his field of labor; other traditions mention of Parthia and Persia. It is uncertain whether he died a natural death or received the crown of martyrdom.

St. Matthew's Gospel was written to fill a sorely-felt want for his fellow countrymen, both believers and unbelievers. For the former, it served as a token of his regard and as an encouragement in the trial to come, especially the danger of falling back to Judaism; for the latter, it was designed to convince them that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus, our Lord, in Whom all the promises of the Messianic Kingdom embracing all people had been fulfilled in a spiritual rather than in a carnal way: "My Kingdom is not of this world." His Gospel, then, answered the question put by the disciples of St. John the Baptist, "Are You He Who is to come, or shall we look for another?"

Writing for his countrymen of Palestine, St. Matthew composed his Gospel in his native Aramaic, the "Hebrew tongue" mentioned in the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Soon afterward, about the time of the persecution of Herod Agrippa I in 42 AD, he took his departure for other lands.

Matthew is recognized as a Saint in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran and Anglican churches. His feast day is celebrated on 21 September in the West, 16 November in the East (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 16 November currently falls on 29 November of the modern Gregorian Calendar). He is also commemorated by the Orthodox, together with the other Apostles, on 30 June (13 July), the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles.

Like the other evangelists, Matthew is often depicted in Christian art with one of the four living creatures of Revelation 4:7. The one that accompanies him is in the form of a winged man.

Fr. Christopher Lee at his First Mass on September 5

Some pictures of Fr. Christopher Lee who celebrated his first mass at the Church of Visitation on September 5. Fr. Christopher was ordained as a priest by Bishop Paul Tan of the Diocese of Melaka Johor in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Johor Bahru on August 31st.
Fr. Chris celebrating Mass
Fr. Chris blessing people after Mass.
More blessings

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Eid ul-Fitr (Aidil Fitri), September 20-21

As our Muslim brothers and sisters end their long fast during the holy month of Ramadan, we take this opportunity to wish them 'Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri!"

What is Eid ul Fitr or Aidil Fitri?

Eid ul-Fitr or Id-ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر ‘Īdu l-Fiṭr‎), often abbreviated to Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity", while Fiṭr means "to break the fast" (and can also mean "nature", from the word "fitrah"); and so the holiday symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period. It is celebrated starting on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal.

Eid ul-Fitr is a three day celebration and is sometimes also known as the "Smaller Eid" (Arabic: العيد الصغير al-‘īdu ṣ-ṣaghīr‎) as compared to the Eid ul-Adha that lasts four days and is called the "Greater Eid" (Arabic: العيد الكبير al-‘īdu l-kabīr‎).

Muslims are commanded by the Qur'an to complete their fast on the last day of Ramadan and then recite the Takbir all throughout the period of Eid. The Takbir is recited after having confirmation that the moon of Shawwal is sighted on the eve of the last day of Ramadan. It continues until the start of the Eid prayer. The Takbir consists of:

Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر
laa ilaaha illAllaah لا إله إلا الله
Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر
wa li-illaahil-hamd ولله الحمد

God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest,
There is no deity but God
God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest
and to God goes all praise

Eid-ul-Fitr is a unique festival. It has no connection with any historical event nor is it related to the changes of seasons or cycles of agriculture. It is not a festival related in any way to worldly affairs.

Its significance is purely spiritual. It is the day when the Muslims thank God for having given them the will, the strength and the endurance to observe fast and obey His commandment during the holy month of Ramadan.

This day, in Muslim world, brings rejoicing and happiness. The rejoicing is not, however, at the departure of the month of Ramadan; it is the happiness which man feels after successfully completing an important task.

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Eid is also commonly known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri,Hari Otak, Hari Raya Idul Fitri or Hari Raya Puasa. Hari Raya literally means 'Day of Celebration' i.e. 'The Day'. Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore celebrate Eid like other Muslims throughout the world. It is the biggest holiday in Indonesia and Malaysia and is the most awaited one. Shopping malls and bazaars are filled with people days ahead of Hari Raya, causing a distinctive festive atmosphere throughout the country. Many banks, government and private offices are closed for this holiday, which usually lasts a week.

The night before Eid is with the takbir which is held in the mosques or musallas. In many parts of Indonesia as well as Malaysia, especially in rural areas, pelita or panjut (oil lamps) are lit up in house compounds. Eid also witnesses a huge migratory pattern of Muslims, from big metropolitan cities to rural areas. This is known as balik kampung or pulang kampung in Indonesian — literally going back to home town to celebrate Eid with one's parents. Special dishes like ketupat, dodol, lemang (a type of glutinous rice cake cooked in bamboo) and other Indo-Malay delicacies are served during this day.

It is common to greet people with "Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri" or "Salam Aidilfitri" which means "Happy Eid". Muslims also greet one another with "maaf lahir dan batin" in Indonesian and "maaf zahir dan batin" in Malaysian, which means "Forgive my physical and emotional (wrongdoings)", because Eid ul-Fitr is not only for celebrations but also the time for Muslims to cleanse their sins and strengthen their ties with relatives and friends.

It is customary for Indonesians and Malays to wear traditional cultural outfits on the Eid. The outfit for men is called baju melayu or baju koko in Indonesia which is worn together with kain samping (made out of songket) and songkok (a dark coloured headgear); in Indonesia the men will usually wear pants with similar color to the shirt or (normal black pants) and a (black head cover called) [Peci]. The women in Indonesia and Malaysia wear what is known as baju kurung and baju kebaya. It is also common to see non-Malay Muslims wear costumes of their culture.

Once the prayer is completed, it is also common for Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia to visit the graves of loved ones. During this visit, they clean the grave, recite Ya-Seen, a chapter (surah) from the Qur'an and also perform the tahlil ceremony. All these are done to ask for God to forgive the dead and also those who are living.

The rest of the day is spent visiting relatives or serving visitors. Eid ul-Fitr is a very joyous day for children for on this day adults are especially generous. Children will be given token sums of money, also known as "duit raya," from their parents or elders.

Most Malaysians of all cultures and faiths would remember this classic from Saloma, "Selamat Hari Raya"

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Family is a Protagonist of Evangelisation

Priest Warns Against "Liquid Love"

ROME, SEPT. 16, 2009 ( The Church is emphasizing the Christian family's role as the subject, not just the object, of evangelization, with a unique mission to reach out to people in their own circles.

This was one of the conclusions of a two-day international conference that ended Friday, and was organized in Rome by the Pontifical Council for the Family.

It focused on the family as a "subject of evangelization," and gathered married couples from around the world as well as priests involved in family pastoral care.

Monsignor Carlos Simon Vazquez, an under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, explained to ZENIT that the seminar concentrated in particular on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, the constitution "Gaudium et Spes," and the apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio," signed by John Paul II after the 1980 Synod on the Family.

This document, he said, "presents us with a theology, a pastoral program on the family, which is rooted in the mystery of God and is called to be the presence of that love of God, of that God who wants to communicate his good news to the whole world."

The priest stated that the family "is called to make that God present in history," as "Gadium et Spes" explains, presenting it as a "subject that must make a reality the assumptions it poses in the first part of the document: for example, it must be present in the international service, in the service to society, to culture, and in the other services in which the Church has a word to express."

Monsignor Vazquez said that the family is reduced to an evangelizing "object" and is not seen as an evangelizing subject "when we see in it an object that does things, that resolves problems."

He added: "The family does all that but above all it is a being loved by God; therefore, its action is its being. It isn't a sort of solution of problems but fulfills this mission because it lives a vocation that God has given it in love."

The family "is the place of gratitude, of generosity, where all find a reason to hope and to be secure, not because of what they have but because of what they are and this is the translation of the dynamics of love," noted the priest.

Society and family

Father Leopold Vives, former secretary of the Family and Life Commission of the Lay Apostolate of the Spanish episcopal conference, pointed out the leading role of the family in the light of Benedict XVI's new encyclical "Caritas in Veritate."

In an interview with ZENIT, he said, "Society's progress passes through the family's progress."

The priest explained two aspects of this progress: "The first is the relationship of truth and love: human progress must be integral and this can only happen in interpersonal relationship -- hence, a relationship of love.

"If this relationship of love is not lived according to the true person, development is fictitious; there can be great economic development, with the means at our disposal, but not in the person."

The second aspect, he said, "is openness to man's transcendence which goes beyond an earthly horizon."

"Without the latter," Father Vives said, "we are outside of the integral truth of man and, therefore, outside of his true good and we are then again in a fictitious development."

The priest stressed in particular the passage of the Pope's encyclical in which he shows the relationship between the family and the Trinity. It describes how the family lives from its communion of love with the Triune God.

He affirmed, "Surely man's fullness is there not only on earth but in the full communion with God in heaven."

Father Vives pointed out that one example that shows how the family becomes an object and not a subject is the "gender ideology."

He explained: "The institution of the family is rooted in the person's very nature. In the case of the gender ideology we have a denial of the truth of man, because we have fragmented him, regarding our body as something material, independent of the person which I, from my liberty, can mold to my taste, completely separated from what the person is, who expresses himself from his freedom, also understood badly, that is: 'I am a person because I am free and as I am free I can choose.' This is not so."

The priest continued: "A person is one in his unity of body and soul and, therefore, my own identity cannot be true if it does not take into account the original and essential acts of who I am. In the first place, I am man or woman.

"The family based on marriage, the union between one man and one woman, is the truth of man. Without it, we are destroying the most fundamental relationship of the person, which is the conjugal relationship, and in this way the relationship between parents and children is destroyed.

"Here one's own identity is wounded, knowing who I am in a personal relationship: 'I am me because you are; you are, and I am different from you.' However, if we cancel that difference, which is what the gender ideology intends, we take away the foundation of personal identity. If I try to construct my personal identity apart from my masculine being, I am in constant contradiction of my own being."

No foundation

Father Vives stated that one of the great challenges for young couples who want to get married in the Church is "liquid love," namely, "something that isn't consistent, that has no foundation, something on which one cannot build because it is reduced to various feelings."

"Of course there are feelings in love and this forms an important and very striking part for young people, but it cannot be reduced to a feeling," he stressed.

The priest stated: "Love is a communion that springs from the gift of oneself. And that gift is a total self-giving. This is what gives the foundation to a relationship.

"It's what does not happen in a relationship of 'liquid love,' of individuals who don't have the capacity for sacrifice, self-giving and fidelity, who are not capable of promising because they regard the future as something uncertain."

To overcome "liquid love," Father Vives suggested deepening in the understanding what it means to be Christian.

He said: "When one understands that one has a vocation, that this vocation is a gift of God which is sanctified by a sacrament, then individuals are that much more disposed to be able to keep the promise to live love, to build strong and stable relationships.

"To do so, the bond with the Church is fundamental. To be married in the Lord is at the same time an adherence to the Church because it is the body of Christ. In God they can find that love that spouses dream about and that makes them able to stay united."

The priest concluded: "Nor is it possible to live love without forgiveness and all this is nourished by the cooperation of the spouses with the sacramental grace."

Immigration: Making Catholicity Tangible

Vatican Aide Notes How Migration Helps Ecclesiology

BRASILIA, Brazil, SEPT. 16, 2009
( Immigration makes the nature of the universal Church visible, according to a Vatican aide who was reflecting on migrants and catholicity.

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, spoke about immigration and ecclesiology when he addressed the third international conference on migrant ministry, which opened today in Brazil.

The prelate affirmed that immigration, which he called a "sign of the times," can be a chance for local Churches to live and feel the ecclesiology of communion and mission spoken about in "Lumen Gentium" from the Second Vatican Council.

The pastoral care of migrants "contributes to making visible the genuine physiognomy of the Church," he contended.

"Also through them," the archbishop added, "God's plan of salvific communion can be carried out among peoples."

Archbishop Marchetto further observed that immigrants themselves have the "privileged though painful opportunity of coming to a greater sense of belonging to the universal Church, beyond any particularity."

He recalled how "Lumen Gentium" teaches that the Church exists as universal and particular, without contradiction.

And the Church's pastoral program with immigrants must be carried out "in hierarchical communion with the bishop, the clergy, the laity and the religious," the archbishop said. He added that a concept of "mission" must also be taken into account.

"Mission is not only carried out in the so-called mission territories, traditionally in Asia and Africa, given that today the inhabitants of the different continents move, and with them, moves the mission," he observed.

"The Church becomes the history of a people on the way who, starting from the mystery of Christ and the circumstances of the people and groups that make it up, is called to build a new history, gift of God and fruit of human liberty," Archbishop Marchetto said. "This is the thread of the history that enters in God's order, in the paschal mystery of death and life, and also the thread of the joys and sorrows of migrants, pilgrims on earth."

Feast pf St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, Nilai Chapel, October 2-4th

Theme: Deepening our Discipleship: "A Spirituality of Communion"

The Chapel of St. Theresa, Nilai, Negeri Sembilan warmly invites you to celebrate our Patron’s Feast Day. Come join us in our triduum celebration beginning on Friday 2nd October – 4th October 2009.

2nd October 2009 (Fri) - 7.00pm Rosary, Novena followed by Mass.
Theme : Solidarity with One Another and Sharing Burdens.

3rd October 2009 (Sat)
– 7.00pm Rosary, Novena followed by Mass and Candle Light Procession.
Theme : Seeing the Image of God in Every Man and Woman.

4th October 2009 (Sun)
– 10.00am Rosary, Novena followed by Mass.
Theme: Mystery of Trinity dwelling in us.

Donations (in cash or cheques) are most welcomed.
Mass offerings and donations can be made before Mass each day at the entrance of the Chapel.
All cheques are to be made payable to : CHAPEL OF ST. THERESA

Chapel of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, Nilai, Negeri Sembilan Tel (hp) 017-3962977 (Mr. Maurice Sta Maria)

Visit the Chapel's blog at

Bulletin Announcement - September 18th - 19th

Clergy Annual Retreat
All priests of the Church in Peninsular Malaysia will be away on retreat at various times during the month of September. The retreat dates of our priests:

• Fr. George Packiasamy from 22 to 29 Sep, 2009
• Fr. Michael from 14 to 20 Sep, 2009
Fr. Michael be back in the Parish on 21st of September.

Chapel of St. Theresa, Nilai
Feast Day and Triduum
2nd to 4th October

2nd October (Fri.) @7:00 p.m.
- Novena followed by Mass

3rd October (Sat.) @ 7:00 p.m.
- Novena followed by Mass & Candle-light Procession

4th October (Sun) @ 10.00 am
Novena followed by Mass

For further details,
please refer to the Notice Board.

Formation for Parents of First Holy Communion Class
Video Presentation: Mass Explained

Open to all

Date: 27-9-2009 (Sun.)
Time : 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Venue: Visitation Hall (downstairs)

Holy Childhood Collection 2009

The Pontifical Mission Societies of Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei has asked again for this collection which will begin on Mission Sunday, 18th October 2009.

Children of Sunday School are to collect the cans from their respective Class Catechists and stickers for this purpose.

Visitation Senior Parishioners Fellowship (VSPF)
Annual Dinner and Dance

Date: September 21, Monday (Hari Raya Holiday)
Time: 7.30 pm
Venue: Min Kok Restaurant (Next to Terminal 2)
For tickets, please contact Mariadass: Tel – 06-7612777
(limited seats available)

ACTM Formation on 30-9-09 (Wednesday)
8.00 to 9.00 pm
Visitation Hall
All 3 language groups
Zone Coordinators, BEC Coordinators, Assistant Coordinators, Youth Representatives, Messengers and Liturgy Rep are required to attend.

Catholic Marriage Preparation Course in English
The last CMPC course for 2009 will commence on Sep 26th.
Please register with Mark & Irene Hendroff
House: 06-633 5829
H/P: 016-685 8395

Couples intending to get married within the next 6 months, kindly sign up for the course. Please contact the priests of the Parish at least 6 months prior to the intended date of marriage.

Love & Life Seminar 2009
(7 day programme organized by ASAYO_
Date: 10 to 16th December, 2009
Venue: I.J. Convent, Cheras
Fee: RM150.00
Ages: 17-22 years old.
Closing Date – 20/11/2009
Forms are available at the Parish Office. For further details please refer to the Notice Board

Results of Mt. Miriam Hospital Merdeka Grand Charity Raffle
Please refer to Notice Board.
Prizes are to be redeemed within 30 days from the draw date (31st August)

Thursday, September 17, 2009








归正只可通过祈祷才能生效。圣雅各伯提醒我们要祈祷――不为我们的自私意图,不为我们自己的计划成功祈祷。我们应该彼此以及为整个团体代祷。我们应该为我们的圣母往见堂团体祈祷,使它能反映天国的精神―― 一个洋溢着爱,彼此接纳和宽恕的地方。但是只祈祷是不够的。我们应该准备改变旧我使彼此的关系得到治愈。让我们停止彼此指摘。今天,耶稣要我们坦诚地看我们自己并祈求真正的悔改。

The Bane of Community Living: Jealousy and Ambition

Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year

How do friendships sour? How do rifts occur within communities? How does disharmony set in to our society and culture? The answer simply lies in today’s second reading taken from the letter of St. James. He writes: “Wherever you find jealousy and ambition, you find disharmony, and wicked things of every kind being done...”

The greatest threat to our relationships as members of a family, the community and the Church often does not come from the outside. It is easy to blame all our problems on external factors. But very often, the greatest threat is found among ourselves. Our problems begin with feelings of jealousy that we have against one another. This is fueled by ambition for power and status. What is the cause of jealousy and ambition?

This is similar to the question that St. James asked in today’s second reading: “Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start?” He gives the following answer: “You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force.” Likewise, in today’s gospel, we see the disciples of Jesus fighting among themselves over the issue of power. They were arguing over which of them was the greatest.

Both jealousy and ambition stem from a sense of insecurity. When we are not comfortable with ourselves, when we feel that we are not good enough and that others are better off than us, when we feel that others threaten our status and position, we feel jealous. Jealousy affects our relationship with others. In fact, jealousy destroys relationship because when we are jealous of others, we try to work for their downfall. Jealousy leads to gossip and slander. One of the worst threats to community living is gossip, especially gossip arising from jealousy. The easiest way to destroy a person is by destroying his reputation. Sad to say many of us are often guilty of this. When we feel that others are doing better than us, when we feel that others have more knowledge or experience, when we feel that others are more popular than us, we feel threatened. A community that is filled with jealousy among its members will be wrecked by the same jealousy. If all our energies go into our petty squabbles instead of putting our hands to the plow in building God’s kingdom, we will be the stumbling block for the whole community and for the kingdom of God.

Are we guilty of jealousy and ambition among ourselves? Are we allowing our jealousy to destroy this community? Do we encourage and support one another in our ministry and good works or do we always try to find something negative about what the other person is doing? If this is happening, then we must put a stop to it immediately. Jesus has this to say to all of us: “If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.” We are called to humble service. We are called to work with one another to build God’s kingdom. We are called to conversion.

Conversion can only take place through prayer. St. James reminds us to pray – to pray not only for our selfish motives, to pray not only for the success of our own projects. We must pray for one another and for the whole community. We must pray that this community in the Church of Visitation, Seremban, will become a reflection of the values of the kingdom of God – a place of love, mutual acceptance and forgiveness. But prayer is not enough. We must be prepared to change our ways and heal our relationships with one another. Let us stop pointing the finger at one another. Today, Jesus invites us to look honestly at ourselves and pray for the conversion that is needed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Million Minutes for Peace

The United Nations has declared September 21 as the International Day of Peace. Join people of other cultures and faiths and be part of this world-wide campaign to pledge a minute of prayer for peace in the world and in our country. One minute for a pledge. One minute for prayer. You could be a part of "a million minutes for peace."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Our Lady of Sorrows, September 15

Our Lady of Sorrows (Latin: Beata Maria Virgo Perdolens), the Sorrowful Mother or Mother of Sorrows (Latin: Mater Dolorosa, at times just Dolorosa), and Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows or Our Lady of the Seven Dolours are names by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to in relation to sorrows in her life.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are a popular devotion in the Roman Catholic Church and is commemorated each year by the Church on September, 15th. There is a devotional prayer which consists of meditation on her Seven Sorrows. Also, there is a corresponding devotion to the Seven Joys of Mary.

The Seven Sorrows (or Dolors) are events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary which are a popular devotion and are frequently depicted in art.

1. The Prophecy of Simeon over the Infant Jesus. (Luke 2:34)
2. The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family. (Matthew 2:13)
3. The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days. (Luke 2:43)
4. The Meeting of Jesus and Mary along the Way of the Cross. (Luke 23:26)
5. The Crucifixion, where Mary stands at the foot of the cross. (John 19:25)
6. The Descent from the Cross, where Mary receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms. (Matthew 27:57)
7. The Burial of Jesus. (John 19:40)

The feast of the Our Lady of Sorrows was originated by a provincial synod of Cologne in 1413 as a response to the iconoclast Hussites. It was designated for the Friday after the third Sunday after Easter. It had the title: Commemoratio angustix et doloris B. Marix V. Before the 16th century, the feast was celebrated only in parts of Northern Europe.

No feast in her honour was included in St Pius V's 1570 Tridentine Calendar. Vatican approval for the celebration of a feast in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows was first granted to the Servite order in 1667.

By inserting the feast into the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1814, Pope Pius VII extended the celebration to the whole of the Latin Church. It was assigned to the third Sunday in September. In 1913, Pope Pius X moved the feast to September 15, the day after the Feast of the Cross. It is still observed on that date.

Formation for Parents of Confirmation Class

September 13- The parents of students preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation attended a formation conducted by Fr. Michael. The formation covered two major topics: an understanding of the Sacrament of Confirmation within the sacramental economy of the Church, and the understanding the generation gap between parents and their teens.

In the first part of the formation, Fr. Michael debunked the popular belief which often portrays or understands the Sacrament of Confirmation as a Sacrament of Christian maturity. This misconception has often led to the consequent erroneous view of seeing Confirmation as a form of graduation at the end of Catechetical studies. He stressed that Confirmation to be properly understood must always be examined in the light of its essential and intimate link with the Sacrament of Baptism. To put it colloquially, Confirmation is the "more" of Baptism. Confirmation strengthens the graces received at Baptism, i.e. divine adoption, the gift of the Holy spirit, the vocation to mission. Confirmation strengthens the graces of baptism in order that the newly confirmed will give witness to his faith in the world. As one of the suggestions offered to parents, Fr. Michael stressed the need for parents and all Catholics to undertake a paradigm change from one which purely maintains presents structures to one in which the Church is defined by its mission to the world.

In the second half of the session, Fr. Michael explained the 3 major psychological tasks which the teenager/ adolescent experiences as part of his psycho-social development, namely, a search for identity, establishing relationships, and finally, preparing for a life long vocation. He also shared about the different ways both teenagers and their parents deal with stress, sometimes holding them in, at other times acting them out. He proposed that the healthy way of dealing with stress would be to work them through. This entails naming the problem, owning it, recognising one's inability to solve every problem and therefore the need for referral and dependence on others and God.

Catechists and RCIA Facilitators Commissioned

September 13 - Today, our parish celebrated Catechetical Sunday with the Rite of Commissioning of our team of Catechists and RCIA Facilitators. We are truly thankful for these dedicated faith sharers and for the sacrifices they've made to be part of the Church's mission and ministry in imparting or "handing down" the living faith of the church to our children and new members. May God continue to guide them and bless them.

Prayer of the Catechists/ RCIA Facilitator

God of all ages,
You send out your Spirit to touch the hearts of people
So that they may believe in you and in Jesus, whom you sent.

Look kindly on all the children and catechumens you entrust to us
As they listen to your voice open their hearts to your Spirit
And bring to fulfillment the good work you have begun in them.

As I reach out to guide, teach and welcome
Our children and new members into the church,
Make me an instrument of your love.
Teach me to reverence what is holy in others,
And to be patient with what I do not understand.
Deepen my faith in the gospel and in the Church’s teachings
And help me to pass it on by word and example.
To those who are hesitant or afraid, let me offer encouragement
For those who are weak, let me be a source of strength.

I humbly accept the ministry of Catechist/ RCIA facilitator
And pray that you will continue to guide me and sustain me.
I praise you through Christ our Lord.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Feast of Exultation/ Triumph of the Cross, September 14

This feast is called in Greek Ὕψωσις τοῦ Τιμίου Σταυροῦ (literally, "Raising Aloft of the Precious Cross"). In Latin it is called Exaltatio Sanctae Crucis (literally, "Raising Aloft of the Holy Cross". (The word "Exaltatio" is sometimes translated as "Exaltation", at other times, as in the 1973 ICEL translation, as "Triumph".) In some parts of the Anglican Communion the feast is called Holy Cross Day, a name also used by Lutherans.

The True Cross is said to have been discovered in 326 by Saint Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine I (venerated in the Eastern Church as Saint Constantine), during a pilgrimage she made to Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine. The church was dedicated nine years later, with a portion of the cross placed inside it. In 614, that portion of the cross was carried away from the church by the Persians, and remained missing until it was recaptured by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 628. The cross was returned to the church the following year after initially having been taken to Constantinople by Heraclius.

The date used for the feast marks the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335. This was a two-day festival: although the actual consecration of the church was on September 13, the cross itself was brought outside the church on September 14 so that the clergy and faithful could pray before the True Cross, and all could come forward to venerate it.

The celebration is sometimes called Feast of the Glorious Cross. [Christians "exalt" the Cross of Christ as the instrument of our salvation. Adoration of the Cross is, thus, adoration of Jesus Christ, the God Man, who suffered and died on this Roman instrument of torture for our redemption from sin and death. The cross represents the One Sacrifice by which Jesus, obedient even unto death, accomplished our salvation. The cross is a symbolic summary of the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ - all in one image.

The Feast of the Holy Cross is celebrated with great pomp among the Portuguese community of Melaka. This celebration usually stretches over three days, from the 13th to 15th of September, and is marked not only by Eucharistic celebrations, devotional practices of pilgrims and devotees but also by candlelit processions and cultural shows which are centred around the site located on Malim hill. The locals call it Festa Santa Cruz and draws not only locals but also Catholic pilgrims from all over Malaysia and Singapore.

The quaint Chapel of Santa Cruz on top of Malim Hill along the old Malacca-Alor Gajah trunk road has been surrounded for generations by an intriguing mix of mystery, legends and faithful devotion.

Despite the chapel’s origin laced with nothing concrete, the Feast of Santa Cruz continues to draw more Catholic pilgrims and non-Christian devotees.

Located between an old rubber estate and an ancient Chinese graveyard, the chapel, which comes under the jurisdiction of Malacca’s St. Peter’s Church, is open only once a year during the commemoration of the feast and has been a place of Catholic homage for over 150 years.

The quaint Chapel of Santa Cruz on top of Malim Hill along the old Malacca-Alor Gajah trunk road has been surrounded for generations by an intriguing mix of mystery, legends and faithful devotion.

Despite the chapel’s origin laced with nothing concrete, the Feast of Santa Cruz continues to draw more Catholic pilgrims and non-Christian devotees.

Located between an old rubber estate and an ancient Chinese graveyard, the chapel, which comes under the jurisdiction of Malacca’s St. Peter’s Church, is open only once a year during the commemoration of the feast and has been a place of Catholic homage for over 150 years. Historically, there is little to substantiate the basis for the beliefs and devotions surrounding the chapel but a small wooden chapel was built between 1870 and 1880 following the discovery of a cross in the vicinity. The then wooden edifice was eventually replaced by the present brick building.

Indeed, tracing the origins of the Feast of Santa Cruz proves an interesting exercise with varied versions from sources lending still more mystique.

Several accounts tell the tale of a certain devout Catholic lady from Kubu in Malacca who had fallen ill and all possible medical aid was given to her but to no avail. Then, one night in her dreams, an old man appeared and told her that a cross would be found at the top of Malim Hill.

A couple of days later with the assistance of several neighbours, the women’s family found a 46cm high wooden cross on the hill, partially covered by a termites’ nest.

Still another version attributes the finding of a wooden cross to one of the children of Joanna Sta Maria of the Portuguese community residing in Tengkera. The child supposedly dreamt for three consecutive nights about a small cross that should be sought after at Malim Hill.

Others are more prosaic when discussing the origins of the feast. According to the book Survival Through Human Values authored by the late Fr Manuel Pintado a former parish priest of St Peter’s, Malacca was a Christian town from 1511 to 1641 with a church or chapel along every street and atop hills.

The cross could well have been a grave marker or affixed to a place of worship which subsequently went into ruin during the 154-year Dutch occupation of Malacca where the practice of the Catholic faith was not permitted, said Fr. Pintado

Whatever the origins of the cross may be, the Feast of Santa Cruz will continue to draw large numbers of pilgrims and devotees to Malacca yearly in September.

The Cross - because of what it represents - is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. It has inspired both liturgical and private devotions: for example, the Sign of the Cross, which is an invocation of the Holy Trinity; the "little" Sign of the Cross on head, lips and heart at the reading of the Gospel; praying the Stations (or Way) of the Cross; and the Veneration of the Cross by the faithful on Good Friday by kissing the feet of the image of Our Savior crucified.

Placing a crucifix (the cross with an image of Christ's body upon it) in churches and homes, in classrooms of Catholic schools and in other Catholic institutions, or wearing this image on our persons, is a constant reminder - and witness - of Christ's ultimate triumph, His victory over sin and death through His suffering and dying on the Cross.

We remember Our Lord's words, "He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake shall find it." (Mt 10:38,39). Meditating on these words we unite ourselves - our souls and bodies - with His obedience and His sacrifice; and we rejoice in this inestimable gift through which we have the hope of salvation and the glory.

Dying, you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life.
Save us by your cross, Christ our Redeemer.