Thought for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time C


First Reading
Isaiah 66:18-21
Nations of every language shall come to see my glory.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 117:1-2
Praise the Lord, all you nations.

Second Reading
Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13
Whom the Lord loves, he disciplines.

Gospel Reading
Luke 13:22-30
People will come from north and south, east and west, and take their place in the Kingdom of God.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel reading is the third of three parables in chapter 13 that deal with the theme of the unexpected reversals brought by the Kingdom of God. The other two parables are about the tiny mustard seed that grows into a large tree and the small amount of yeast that makes a large batch of dough rise. All three are about the few and the many and the Kingdom of God.

As this parable opens, Luke reminds us that Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem. This journey, this exodus as Luke refers to it, makes up the entire middle of the Gospel. He is teaching as he goes. A question from the crowd gives Jesus the chance to make a prophetic statement. Luke uses this question device a number of times in his Gospel. A few weeks ago, the question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” led to the parable of the Good Samaritan. The question about will only a few be saved uses typical Christian language about salvation but also expresses the Jewish concern about whether everyone who calls himself a Jew is actually faithful to the covenant. This was a concern of the Pharisees.

Jesus answers that they must strive in the time remaining to enter through the narrow door because many will be trying to get in but won’t be strong enough. He then moves to a parable about another door. (The translation says “gate” then “door,” but the same Greek word is used.) Once all those entering the master’s house are in and he locks the door, there will be no way for others to get in. Those left outside may knock, but the master will say he doesn’t know them. Unlike the Gospel reading from a few weeks ago where Jesus was teaching about prayer, and we were told to knock and the door would be opened, in this parable, the master will not open and say he does not know us. People from the north, south, east, and west will take our place inside. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets will take our place in the Kingdom of God. Those who do not make it through the narrow door will be cast out to where there is wailing and grinding of teeth.

The image of the door is replaced in the final verses of the parable with the image of the heavenly banquet. Two passages from the Book of Isaiah influence the conclusion. Isaiah 43:5-6 speaks of God bringing Israel’s descendents back from the east and from the west, the north and the south. And Isaiah 25:6 speaks of the Lord providing a feast of rich foods and choice wines for all peoples on his holy mountain. The answer to the question if only a few will be saved is no. In the end, many will be saved, but many who thought they would be saved will not be saved. The parable is a prophetic warning to repentance in order to enter the kingdom. –

Alpha rebrands with new Alpha Film Series


KOTA KINABALU  – With Sacred Heart Alpha in the Catholic Context as host, Alpha Malaysia staged the first-ever roadshow in Sabah featuring the brand new Alpha Film Series (AFS) at Sacred Heart Parish Centre here on 20 July 2016.

Alpha Malaysia was represented by National Director Winnie Heron, and Development Manager for Church Thomas Ernest.  Alpha Malaysia has become the Alpha hub for Asia Pacific region, focusing mainly in India, China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The hundred over invited guests who were part of the exciting event was made up from a representation across the Anglican churches, the Basel churches, the Lutheran churches, GCC, SIB, GA and the Catholic churches.

The aim of the roadshow, explained Thomas Ernest, was Alpha’s campaign to invite the world to start Alpha together, instead of just in the UK.  Traditionally, UK Alpha runs a campaign beginning in September each year engaging in advertising in every conceivable media… bus, TV, bill boards, internet, etc to encourage churches to start Alpha together.

The AFS roadshow outlines what you need to know all about AFS, and about Bear Grylls as Alpha’s new ambassador.  Bear Grylls, popularly known as the face of adventure and outdoor survival, would become the face of Global Alpha Invitation once launched across regions, countries, cities, towns and villages all around the world on September 1.

What is the Alpha Film Series?

The AFS is an exciting new resource designed to help the audience begin life’s greatest adventure – encountering Jesus through Alpha.

Apart from Nicky Gumbel who is the sole presenter in the traditional Alpha talks, Toby Flint and Gemma Hunt are new presenters in the AFS who will walk the audience through Alpha in a way that everyone can relate to.

Repackaged for today’s audience, the AFS is emotive, engaging and epic in scale and scope.

It features inspiring interviews from around the world, visual illustrations and motion graphics.  Stories include that of Bear Grylls, Jackie Pullinger, Jose Henriquez Gonzalez (one of the 33 miners trapped for 69 days at the San Jose mine in Chile), papal preacher Raniero Cantalamessa, and Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna and globally well-known for editing the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Global Alpha Invitation

Alpha’s first-ever global invitation to try Alpha will be launched across regions, countries, cities, towns and villages on 1 September  2016 and will run until 31 December  2017.

During the window period between now and Sep 1, soft copies of invitation materials like car stickers, postcards and posters, and promotion on social media would be available for downloading from August, which churches and groups could prepare for advertising and promotion to only begin on Sep 1.  Churches would be invited to lend their walls and fences to display an Alpha banner, which would be available and customised free of charge, on request.

How to participate

Head to, register your Alpha.  Once you are registered, you gain access to download the AFS, training videos, invitation materials and other useful tools to help promote and join millions of others worldwide to run a great Alpha.

A survey was run by Tabuan Jaya Anglican Church in Kuching recently, after the preliminary viewing of the first episode in April 2016, to gauge the Alpha Film Series.  These are some of the comments from Alpha guests on the new branding:

AFS is fast moving, concise, attractive, and has a good sound quality; but for some, the speaking seemed too fast and heavily accented.  The testimonies are good and and straight to the point; and locations, illustrations, presentations are interesting, down to earth, and creative. Subtitles helped overcome difficulties in following the English accents, while for some the fonts affect their usefulness because of size or poor contrast against background.

What is Alpha and how does it look like

Alpha is a tool, a Christian-based resource that is used to equip and assist churches to engage within their community to answer life’s most challenging questions about life, God and meaning.

It also runs in cafes, prisons, universities and schools, homes, workplaces – you name it.  No two Alphas look the same, but generally they have three key things in common:  foood, a talk and good conversation.

Today, 24 million people have attended Alpha.  66,000 Alphas worldwide are running in 169 countries, in 112 languages and all major christian denominations.

Alpha in the Catholic context

Archbishop John Wong was known to have said the Catholic Alpha Course was one programme that could be of help in encouraging people to a first encounter with Jesus and be in a serious relationship with Him.

Archbishop Emeritus John Lee on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Alpha in the archdiocese, pledged his full endorsement for such a programme that leads Catholics to a deeper joy in their faith, and the spread of Alpha in schools.

The first Alpha Course began at Sacred Heart Cathedral parish in April 2004.

La Salle Alumni pays tribute to La Salle Brothers

class 1979 la salle dinner 2016

KOTA KINABALU – The Alumni of La Salle and Sacred Heart paid tribute to several La Salle Brothers at their 55th annual dinner on 20 August 2016 at the Hakka Association Port View Palace Hall here with the theme Always a Lasallian.

The tribute came in the form of an In Memoriam ad on the inside front cover of the souvenir magazine, three new awards for deserving students, and the presence of the only remaining former Irish teacher Brother Lawrence Blake who flew in from Hong Kong for the event.

The In Memoriam ad was for Brother Charles O’Leary who died on Christmas Eve last year.

As John Gomez, president of the Alumni, wrote in the magazine: This year all of us can feel the absence of our late patron, Datuk Brother Charles Michael O’Leary.  All of us Lasallians have been touched in one way or another by Datuk Br Charles in our school days, school activities and Alumni activities.  Datuk Br Charles have put strong presence of La Salle in Sabah and Lasallians are highly looked upon and respected in Sabah.  We are all proud to be a Lasallian.  We really miss Datuk Br Charles.

This sentiment was echoed by some of the students of Class 1982 in their remembrance of the late Irish Brother in the magazine.

The new awards were announced by the Guest of Honour, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, currently the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, in his address at the dinner.  He said,

I want to announce the launch of three awards to be given under Yayasan Osimal: The Brother Brendan Dunn Outstanding Student Leadership Award; the Brother Lawrence Blake Best Academic Student Award; and the Brother Peter Phelan Outstanding Student in Sports Award.

Malanjum also urged those present to contribute to the purchase of the four-storey, 12-room Sri Murni apartment building opposite SM La Salle for which a RM500,000 downpayment was made in 2008, with only RM1.2m to go.  It would be so that the Alumni could have its own building.

Earlier, the guest of honour also took the opportunity to welcome Br Lawrence Blake, 86, who had taught in La Salle for some years in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  He joined the De La Salle Brothers in 1943.  After his formation, he was sent to Hong Kong in 1958 and taught in La Salle College until 1963 when he went back to Ireland for further studies.  Later he was sent to Malaysia and Singapore to teach.  In 1975 he returned to Hong Kong and taught in St Joseph’s College.  In 1979 he replaced Br Brendan as principal of Chong Gene Hang College.  In 1990 he was assigned as principal to Chan Sui Ki (La Salle) College until his retirement in 1995.  He remained as superviser of the school until 2010.  He is now retired and lives in La Salle College Kowloon.  However, he still continues as school manager in both Chong Gene Hang College and Chan Sui Ki College.  Recently, he has a minor stoke and has difficulty in walking.  He goes regularly for physiotherapy treatment.

The night also saw the introduction of Penang-hailed Br Peter Foo as the Alumni’s new patron to replace Br Charles.  Born in Foongshun Kwangtung China in 1944, he migrated with his family to Penang in 1948.  He studied at St Francis Xavier Institution and joined De La Salle Brothers in 1961.  He took his first vows in 1963 and made his final profession in 1971.  He became the principal of Sacred Heart Primary School Sibu before taking up courses at East Asia Pastoral Institute Manila.  Later he became the Director of International Novitiate in Sri Lanka for four years before pursuing a Masters in Education at De La Salle University Manila.

However, the Alumni Association was no stranger to Br Foo as he had been invited to attend its meetings and dinners when he was the Brother Visitor of the Penang District in years past.

The highlight of the night was the clinching of all three awards — The Most Improved Class Turnout created to award classes who made the effort to increase the number of attendance as compared to previous year’s dinner; The Highest Percentage Class Turnout, designed to give opportunity to the older classes to win an award, rationale being that there were only two or three classes per batch in the 1950s to early 1970s compared to the four or five Form Five classes in the late 1970s onwards; and The Largest Class Turnout, created in 2001 to encourage Lasallians to make an effort to bring their classmates to the annual dinner, by Class 1979 with 12 tables at 11 per table.




KK Archdiocese to hold Jubilee of Mercy for Catechists

catechist lapel pinPENAMPANG – In union with the universal church and in solidarity with Pope Francis in celebrating the Jubilee of Mercy for Catechists in Rome on 23-25 September 2016, the Catechetical Commission of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu proposed to hold a similar celebration on the 24th September 2016.  As if a band of Christ’s soldiers marching toward battle, catechists from all over the archdiocese will begin their pilgrimage from their respective parishes and convoy toward Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu to be united with the others to celebrate their jubilee.

Tentative programme for the day is as follows:

  1. Catechesis on the theme: “Miserando atque eligendo”  (Showing Mercy and Choosing): to contemplate Mercy by reflecting on Caravaggio’s painting ‘The Call of Saint Matthew’. (Sacred Heart Parish Centre)
  2. Testimonies
  3. Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penitential Service (optional)
  4. Entering the Holy Door
  5. Holy Mass with Archbishop John Wong in the Cathedral
  6. Joyful Gathering at the SHPC Hall (mini concert)

Reflection for Catechetical Sunday on September 18 “Be merciful like the Father”

yom logo1The theme for this year’s Catechetical Sunday, “Be merciful like the Father” is both an ideal and an instruction. The older translation of the Collect for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time gives an indication that this ideal is embraced by going beyond oneself.

Almighty Father, the love you offer always exceeds the furthest expression of our human longing, for you are greater than the human heart. Direct each thought, each effort of our life, so that the limit of our faults and weaknesses may not obscure the vision of your glory or keep us from the peace you have promised.

Firstly, Sacred Scripture brims with instances of God’s abundant mercies—ideals that one can look up to. According to some scholars, the Parable of the Prodigal Son should be renamed as the Parable of the Prodigal Father to highlight the quality of God’s mercy as always more than what we expect. The Collect—both an invitation and an imperative, a call and a command—inspires the unlimited response that God is inviting us to.

Secondly, this ideal, invitation or call is situated in the earthiness of life and relationships. It is not without context because to be merciful as the Father is means that we are merciful with others.

Now, if looked at as a command or an instruction, we have done pretty well. Every Church we step into, we find the ubiquitous Year of Mercy logo festooned on banners, pasted onto walls or printed onto prayer cards, etc. Busloads of pilgrims make their ways to parish churches designated with the diocesan doors of mercy. Judging by what we are doing, there is no shortage of proof that this is the Year of Mercy. As a KPI-driven or result-oriented society we might be tempted to set benchmarks to measure how far we have achieved the ideal.

The question is how, in fact, do we measure our mercifulness? In desiring to be merciful as the Father is merciful to us, perhaps we ought to be merciful to the Father. At first glance, this is not possible as the Collect suggests that God’s love always exceeds the furthest expression of the human longing. We can never outdo God. But, what this proposed invitation is, is to go beyond what we have set as external measures. In short, the language of mercy has to move from the head to the heart. The measure of mercy is not the head but the heart.

The heart speaks the language of extravagance whereas the head is frequently limited by the language of caution. Think of the sinful woman with the alabaster jar of oil. Her extravagance towards God was both a recognition of who God is and an expression of her response. Judas, on the other hand, seemingly had good intentions but his was a love calculative.

A calculative spirit runs counter to the extravagance which God is inviting us to. Mirrored in the image and likeness of God, extravagance is the symphony of a generous  heart. The great Cathedrals of Europe are testaments of this kind of generosity and also an indication that we recognise not only God’s rule or God’s sovereignty but that we can image God’s magnificent mercy. The same woman who along with breaking an expensive alabaster jar of pure nard to anoint the feet of Christ the Lord, also dampened them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. The grand gesture of her heart manifested a trust in God’s mercy. Quite unlike Judas whose limited love for God revealed a narrow vision that settled on the mere fulfiilment of obligation.

In teaching Catechism, our children frequently hear that the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of Christian life. But, in our practice, Sunday is mainly reduced to a day of obligation, holy though it may be—an action that exposes a Judas attitude. When Judas plotted to have Jesus arrested, he sealed it with a kiss. The kiss as it were, got the act of betrayal over and done with. In a sense, Sunday (and its corollary requirement of Sunday Catechism) can also be an obligation to get-it-over-and-done-with. How easily does this kind of “obligation” flow into our other actions—love for family, love for neighbour or love for country?

The measure of our love for God will be the measure of love for each other. It is not our love or forgiveness of others that measures our love for God. Hence, doing good things is no indication that we are merciful and here, the Pharisees immediately spring to mind because the danger of “organised” religions is their ease in pressing external religious observances into their service—as if by fasting, giving alms or in our case, having the logo prominently displayed, leaflets printed, pilgrimages organised,  etc., we are as merciful as the Father is. Jesus shows us that His right relationship with His Father is the standard of His relationship with all and sundry. The example of Jesus reveals that the deeper our love is for God, the deeper will our love be for His world. There is a correlation between a deep love for God expressed through merciful outreach and also a corresponding link between a compliant love for God that fulfills the bare necessity of obligation.

The road to a mercy extravagant requires that we free our relationship with God from the clutches of “obligation.”  If like the obedient elder son, we have faithfully carried out the Pope’s command to organise this as a Year of Mercy, let us also recognise that more is needed. In the context of Catechetical Sunday, the Catechism we impart to our children is not restricted to the obligation of forming them in the truth of the faith, our duty is also to mould the heart. The evangelical endeavour of the Church may have been inspired by a grand vision of the intellect but the success of this thrust rides on the back of a heart passionate and courageous. Thus, catechesis is not just schola intellectus but also schola affectus. The challenge is not to remain at the level of “doing our job” but we are encouraged to go beyond simply teaching the facts and to recognise the need of forming the heart. Without a converted heart, catechesis will not go far.

Finally, Meister Eckhart, the Dominican mystic reminds us: “You may call God love, you may call God goodness, but the best name for God is compassion.”  It is to this compassion that the Year of Mercy beckons our hearts to be converted. – Fr Simon Poh, sj/MCC

No to Shariah law in pluralistic Sabah, state’s Christians say

The Sidang Injil Borneo church leader said that Sabahans once had religious freedom, but are now haunted by incidents such as the ban on the non-Muslim use of “Allah”, seizure of their religious materials, and the latest proposal to elevate Shariah law in the country.

“We will guard our shores from efforts by any quarters to elevate Shariah law in this country, which is incompatible to the Malaysian Agreement 1963.

“Further, the Shariah law simply will not work in Sabah which is inherently pluralistic in nature. We will guard our shores from injustice, unfairness and extremism,” he said in his speech during a book launch here recently.

Dusing said that Sabah has always enjoyed a harmonious community of diverse backgrounds without religious tensions, but now live in fear of having their religious materials seized.

He stressed that the the Malaysia Agreement 1963, the Inter Governmental Committee Report and Cobbold Commission all agreed that Malaysia was and remains a secular state, and that Sabah entered into the federation with the understanding that this would not change.

“This was the assurance made to Sabahans. This was agreed internationally by the governments of the five sovereign nations,” he said, referring to the United Kingdom, Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore who were party to the the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Dusing was speaking as the special guest at the introduction of a book, The Grand Design by Zainal Ajamain, which was launched by former Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat.

The Grand Design purports to be the first complete compilation of Malaysia’s vital records including the Cobbold Commission Report 1962, Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee 1962 (IGC Report) and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Dusing said that such documents were not part of the education syllabus in the country and it was important to recognise the basis of the country’s formation.

“It is time that we step into maturity in knowledge and understanding of the efforts made by the British Government in relinquishing their colonial rights in North Borneo and Sarawak, the aspirations of our forefathers in forming a new nation, and the essence of the covenant made between the five nations,” he said.

Dusing, as president of the SIB church, is currently seeking a declaration that it has the constitutional right under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution to use the Arabic word for God “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia translations of the Christian bible, as well as in all other religious publications and materials.

The Christian Bumiputera communities in Sabah and Sarawak typically use Bahasa Malaysia in their holy scriptures and religious practices and have reportedly had items purchased from abroad seized when trying to bring them into Malaysia.

Peninsula-based party PAS, with the support of Umno, is seeking to introduce legal amendments that would elevate the standing of the Shariah courts and put these on par with the country’s civil courts. – themalaymailonline

SFK celebrates family day with ‘cheer and fun’

sf kinderKOTA KINABALU – ‘Cheer and fun’ set the tone for the day’s celebration for St Francis Kindergarteners and their teachers on their Annual Family Day on 22 July 2016 at the Sacred Heart Parish Hall, Kota Kinabalu.

A zumba dance for all, followed by a welcoming dance by the children got the event off the ground.

Two hundred and twenty-six children ranging between 4-6 took part in various novelty games.  Family games involving parents provided for ample interaction with their children.

Headmistress Grace Shim expressed her appreciation to all parents and generous sponsors for their unfailing support for the annual event, which was officiated by Fr Rhobby Mojolou.  Also in attendance were Sr Cecilia Liew, and BOG member Alice Chin. – Alice

FSIC celebrate Jubilee with pilgrimage to Holy Doors


KOTA KINABALU – Twenty-eight Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC) recently celebrated the Jubilee Year of Mercy  with a pilgrimage to the designated Holy Doors  in the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese and Sandakan Diocese on 6–10 July 2016.  At the same time, they also planned a programme of outreach to the peripheries.

The pilgrimage began from Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu, with Fr Joshua Liew leading the Entrance Rite to the Door of Mercy after Mass. They entered the next Holy Door at St Peter’s Church Kudat, where they were met and welcomed by Fr Jalius Sading.  The local Catholic Women’s League (CWL) took care of their needs during their overnight stay.

Arriving the next day at Ranau for the Holy Door visit at St Peter Claver Church, Fr Nicholas Stephen and the parish committee  welcomed them, and were led in prayer by Sr Caroline Duli to the entrance of the Holy Door. Here they were given a catechesis on the icons of the Holy Door, and had the opportunity to renew their baptismal vows at the newly constructed outdoor baptismal pool.  The visit concluded with Mass.

The following day, they continued their journey to St Martin Telupid, and were welcomed by the CWL. From there they proceeded to St Joseph Nangoh for the outreach programme, and were met with a warm welcome by the community with beating of gongs. Dividing themselves into ten groups, they managed to visit ten families. It was truly a time of grace for them as they listened to their stories, struggles in life, sickness and their journey of faith.  The pilgrims experienced the Merciful Father through their simplicity, openness and gratitude.

Leaving Nangoh the next morning, they made for their final destination, the Holy Door at St Mary’s Cathedral Sandakan. After being welcomed, they proceeded with the Rite to enter the Holy Door, led by Sr Appollonia Gumpu. They next visited the pilgrimage site at Marian Hill, where they made the Stations of the Cross and prayed the Rosary. They were given a briefing on the development of faith in the diocese, and the history of the Church in Sandakan, and concluded the pilgrimage with Sunset Mass, presided by Fr Stanley William and the next day Sunday Mass, presided by Bishop Julius Gitom.

The pilgrimage has given them new insight, as they listened to the history of each Church throughout the entire journey. Praying, fellowship, and sharing their faith with people along the pilgrimage, have inspired them to continue to reach out, especially to those who are in the peripheries. They are filled with gratitude to the Lord for the gift of Consecrated Life and for the Year of Mercy, as it is also the celebration of the FSIC’s 80th Founding Anniversary. – Sr Regina Kimung fsic

Local Neocatechumenal communities remember the apostolic zeal of co-initiator, Carmen Hernandez

neocatKOTA KINABALU  – Carmen Hernandez, who with Kiko Arguello, founded the Neocatechumenal Way in 1964, passed away on 19 July 2016 at the age of 85 at her home in Madrid, Spain.

Her funeral mass on July 21, was celebrated by Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid and concelebrated by several cardinals and bishops.  On the evening when her funeral Mass was held in Madrid, local Neocatechumenal communities celebrated Eucharist as a mark of tribute to their co-founder.

Carmen Hernandez, together with co-founder Kiko Arguello, also from Spain, and their team member Fr Mario Pezzi, an Italian priest, had visited Sabah on a number of occasions in the past.

They first visited the Neocatechumenal communities in the state in 1996 and met Emeritus Archbishop John Lee who was Bishop of Kota Kinabalu Diocese at that time.

They were back in Sabah in 2002 when the Neocatechumenal Way sponsored a gathering of 120 Asian bishops, 254 priests and laypersons in family ministry to affirm the need to journey together in small communities to fulfill the Church’s evangelising mission in Asia.

Bishop Lee, who hosted the event, said in his welcome remarks that the idea of journeying together in small communities seemed to be the common pastoral goal.

“This move is imperative, because we are ‘a small flock’ within the fast developing economies and societies in the region,” added Bishop Lee who described the Neocatechumenal Way’s gathering known as “convivence” as “most timely and historical.”

Present at the convivence were representatives from India, with its 52 bishops forming the largest contingent, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkmenistan. Bishops from Australia and the Oceania were also in attendance.

The first community of the Neocatechumenal Way was started in the Sacred Heart Cathedral parish in Kota Kinabalu, in September 1980 when the late Fr Tobias Chi was the rector and the late Simon Fung was Bishop.

Since then, many such communities have been formed at Dontozidon, Tuaran, Sandakan, Kepayan, Tawau, Lahad Datu, Kota Marudu, Papar, Kota Belud, and in the Diocese of Sibu, Sarawak.

Each community is a group of people wishing to rediscover and live Christian life to the full, and to live the essential consequences of their Baptism, by means of the Neocatechumenate that moves at different stages.

The first community at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kota Kinabalu, for instance, has celebrated the final stage of election during Lent and Easter in 2011 and made a pilgrimage together as a community to the Holy Land.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis in his message to Arguello, assured his affection and spiritual closeness upon the death of Hernandez, “after a long life marked by her love for Jesus and for a great missionary enthusiasm”.

“I give thanks to the Lord for the witness of this woman, animated by a sincere love for the Church, who has spent her life in the announcement of the Good News in every place, as well as those far away, never forgetting the most marginalised people.

“I encourage those who have known her and all those who are part of the Neocatechumenal Way to keep their evangelising eagerness alive, in active communion with the bishops and priests, while exercising patience and mercy to all,” wrote the Pope with much affection.

It is estimated that the movement contains about 1 million members, in some 40,000 parish-based communities around the world.

In an interview with Vatican Radio on July 20, Arguello said Hernandez was an important role model for many young women. “They said it was thanks to Carmen they found pride in being a woman,” he said.

“She always talked about the importance of women in the Church” and how they figured prominently in the Bible, he said. She would personally ask young women to consider monastic life, he said, adding that more than 4,000 young women from the Neocatechumenal Way are now cloistered nuns. –  Joseph Leong/other sources

Pope tells over 1M at WYD Mass: Overcome obstacles to encountering Christ


BRZEGI, Krakow –  World Youth Day in Kraków culminated in Sunday Mass, during which Pope Francis challenged youth to imitate Zacchaeus in overcoming obstacles to encountering Christ.

The 31 July 2016 Mass took place in a field in Brzegi, nine miles from the centre of Kraków, and over one million were in attendance, according to the Holy See Press Office.

Zacchaeus, the Pope preached, faced three obstacles: “smallness of stature,” “the paralysis of shame,” and “the grumbling of the crowd.”

Reflecting on the first obstacle, the Pope called upon young people to remember that “our real stature” is that “we are God’s beloved children, always …God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern.  He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you, just as you are!  In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.”

Turning to the “paralysis of shame,” the Pope said:

Dear young friends, don’t be ashamed to bring everything to the Lord in confession, especially your weaknesses, your struggles and your sins.  He will surprise you with his forgiveness and his peace.  Don’t be afraid to say “yes” to him with all your heart, to respond generously and to follow him!  Don’t let your soul grow numb, but aim for the goal of a beautiful love which also demands sacrifice.  Say a firm “no” to the narcotic of success at any cost and the sedative of worrying only about yourself and your own comfort.

Reflecting on the grumbling of the crowd, Pope Francis said that people will try to block you, to make you think that God is distant, rigid and insensitive, good to the good and bad to the bad. Instead, our heavenly Father “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Mt 5:45). He demands of us real courage: the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies. People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid. Think of the motto of these days: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7).  People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centred or small-minded.

“Jesus looks beyond the faults and sees the person.  He does not halt before bygone evil, but sees future good. His gaze remains constant, even when it is not met; it seeks the way of unity and communion,” said Francis.

As the Lord wished to stay in Zacchaeus’ house, so he “wants to enter your homes, to dwell in your daily lives: in your studies, your first years of work, your friendships and affections, your hopes and dreams,” the Pope continued.

He added: How greatly he desires that you bring all this to him in prayer!  How much he hopes that, in all the “contacts” and “chats” of each day, pride of place be given to the golden thread of prayer!  How much he wants his word to be able to speak to you day after day, so that you can make his Gospel your own, so that it can serve as a compass for you on the highways of life. – CWN

Leave ‘martyrdom’ to the jihadists

opinion2Santo subito.” The Italian words mean “make him a saint now.” This was the cry of the crowds at the funeral of Pope John Paul II — a demand swiftly acted upon by the church authorities in Rome. The words are echoing around the world again now. This time, the call comes from Catholics shocked at the death of Fr Jacques Hamel, the priest whose throat was cut as he presided at the morning Mass on Tuesday, 26 July 2016, in a small French town near Rouen.

The demand to put the slain French priest on the fast track for sainthood was made by a prominent Italian politician, Roberto Maroni, the president of the Lombardy region. It spread swiftly across the globe on social media as Catholics, and others, expressed their shock at the slaying of the priest. Maroni’s sentiment that the pope should “immediately proclaim him St Jacques”  was echoed by a senior official in the Vatican press office who hailed the 85-year-old priest as a “modern-day martyr.”

Such calls to canonise the murdered priest are ill advised. They will only play into the hands of the extremists.

The altar, for Catholics, is where the priest daily commemorates the self-sacrifice of Christ’s surrender to a brutal death on the cross. It is, as Pope Francis said, “the sacred place in which the love of God is announced.” Not since pagan times have altars been associated with the spilling of human blood. The altar also stands in the part of the church known as the sanctuary, a word that has since early medieval times denoted a place of sacred safety.

The demand for Pope Francis to declare Fr Hamel an official martyr of the Catholic Church is understandable, and he fulfills the traditional criteria. He was killed, according to the church’s Latin definition, “in odium fidei,” meaning “in hatred of the faith.”

Fr Hamel may be a martyr in the eyes of the church, but his attackers are also martyrs in the eyes of jihadists. There is, of course, an egregious false equivalence between the two cases: One man is a pure victim, while the others were killers who contrived to die at the hands of French law enforcers.

We must strengthen our defenses against terrorism but we must resist the notion that a fundamental clash of civilisations is the issue. The real problem is the pathology of a perverse minority of extremists with distorted notions of holy war and martyrdom. Pope Francis was right to speak of the “absurd violence” of Fr Hamel’s death and to describe the “senseless hatred” of the massacre in Nice.

Reciprocal talk of martyrdom is unhelpful. The impulse to canonise Fr Hamel, however sincere and well intentioned, feeds the idea of retaliation — our martyr for yours — that gives the jihadists the war of religions they seek. As to sainthood, let history judge rather than us making it a proxy for a political response. – nytimes


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