Daily Archives:October 27th, 2017

Pope Francis speaks with ISS commander and crew

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis spoke via satellite link with the crew of the International Space Station on 26 Oct 2017. Astronaut Randolph Bresnik of the US commands the current, 53rd ISS expedition, which has a complement of five mission specialists: Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli; Russian astronauts Sergey Ryanzansky and Alexander Misurkin; and US astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei.

The video link-up lasted about 20 minutes, with the pope speaking to the astronauts from the “auletta” of the Paul VI Hall, in the presence of the President of the Italian Space Agency (ASA), Roberto Battiston, and the Director of Earth Observation Programmes of the European Space Agency (ESA), Josef Aschbacher.

During the course of the virtual visit, Pope Francis asked questions of the astronauts, on topics ranging from the place of humanity in the universe, to the difference in perspective that living on the ISS brings, to the role of “That Love which moves the sun and the other stars,” in their work of understanding, to their reasons for desiring to explore space.

Francis is not the first pontiff to speak to the ISS. Benedict XVI had done so on 21 May 2011. In thanking the crew, the pope said, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts; this is the example you give us. Thank you for representing the whole human family in the great research project of this space station.” – vatican radio/asianews.it

Signs you might be a Zombie Catholic – and how to be cured!

Don’t chuckle. Zombies exist. They dwell in our midst.

If you doubt me, just head to your neighbourhood parish where on any given Sunday, you can see the parade of Zombie Catholics. I can spot ‘em from a mile away because I was once a Zombie Catholic.

After years, maybe decades of having a deadened look in my eye through the whole celebration of the Holy Mass, by the grace of God, the scales have fallen away. So, from someone who’s managed to escape the dreaded Zombie Zone, here’s how you can spot the signs and combat this haunting inclination. Beware!

Signs You’re a Zombie Catholic:

1) Your seating choice at Mass is decided by how best to make a subtle, late entrance and a discreet, speedy exit

You park in one of the last pews, a mere side-step and you’re swimming in the baptismal font. Back here, you keep a Jackie O-like-low profile. And if you nod off during a long homily, no big whoop. No one’s making eye contact this far back. You actually scoff at the poor saps who sit up front.

Why do you need to see anything? You’ve only been through the Mass 5 million-ga-jillion times! Nothing. New. Here.

2) The last time you willingly sang a church hymn with abandon, you were three

It’s probably been many years since you even cracked the music issue. If you do sing with gusto, per chance, it’s only because your Catholic auto pilot kicks in from time to time. “Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on Earth…” You have to admit it’s a catchy tune.

I used to cringe when people around me sang too loudly, probably because they were jarring me out of my self-involved day dream. “How dare she shake me from my own thoughts with her exuberant, joyful singing!”

3) You approach the Holy Eucharist in the same way you would waiting in line for a prescription at the pharmacy

No awe or reverence before the real presence. Just disengaged resignation. You’ve been told you need this, but you’re not exactly sure why. You appear spaced-out as you shuffle along in line. Your posture belies boredom, and impatience.

In your mind, this signifies the end of Mass, so let’s get this show on the road, already. I want my medicine so I can high-tail it outta here.

4) Your idea of fellowship after Mass is grudgingly giving the old lady in the parking lot the right of way as she totters through the cross walk

She nods and you nod back. Then you accelerate and get on with your Sunday plans. You’ve officially checked the duty box for the day.

If any of this sounds familiar, don’t lose heart. There’s hope for fighting off the march of the Zombies. Here are some tips that helped me battle my way out of it.

The Cure for Zombie Catholicism:

1) Make a trip to confession even before you attend Mass again

Do some serious soul searching to uncover the sin that may be creating a barrier to your intimacy with God. There’s nothing that will intensify your desire for the Eucharist and the Mass than an encounter with the loving embrace of God’s mercy.

It wasn’t until I finally got serious about confession that I started to dial into God’s voice during the Mass.

2) Take a quiet moment in your car even before entering church to say a quick prayer asking Christ to engage your mind and heart for Mass

Ask him to quiet the noise in your brain so you may hear Him. Ask the Lord to speak to you.

3) Turn off all media while at Mass

Don’t just silence them! Truly unplug for the hour you’re there. If your phone starts buzzing, it’s an invitation for your mind to wander. So-called smart phones can numb our brains, leading us quickly into the zombie trance.

4) Sit closer to the action

For those of you who’ve never done this, it can be daunting at first, but there’s no Q&A where you’ll be quizzed on the words to the Nicene Creed, so take a seat up front and follow along. It’s amazing how much more you notice. This even works with my kids. You might even sing a little.

Challenge yourself to truly pay attention especially during the consecration. You don’t need to understand it all, but get engaged in what’s going on. God will lead you. In Scott Hahn’s book, “The Lamb’s Supper,” which I highly recommend, he describes the supernatural drama that surrounds us during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He explains that St John Paul II described the Mass as “Heaven on Earth.”

Consider getting a book about the Mass. Knowledge is a powerful weapon in defeating the Zombie Catholic.

5) Consider offering up your Eucharist for the needs of a friend or loved one who is suffering

When you lose focus, consider that person’s trials. As you approach the Blessed Sacrament, remember you are offering up the graces received in Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity for your friend or loved one. This can heighten the magnitude of Christ’s gift in the Eucharist and be a tangible reminder of the solemnity of the occasion.

And above all, keep at it! A Zombie Catholic has stopped trying and is just going through the motions. Once you exert a small bit of effort God will reciprocate in a big way.

You’ll soon banish that morbid, pasty-faced Zombie—and in its place a new creation in Christ. Praise God! Because it happened to this former Zombie Catholic. – mary jo gerd, catholic herald, 23.10.2017

La Salle Brother speaks on his detention under Ops Lalang 30 years ago

October 27 marks the 30th anniversary of  Operasi Lalang, where 106 people were detained without trial and the publishing licences of three newspapers were revoked. The episode remains a grim reminder of what can happen in the absence of check and balances, a deep scar in the Malaysian psyche. To mark this day, The Malaysian Insight speaks to La Salle Brother Anthony Rogers, one of the detainees.

WHAT does not break you, only makes you stronger.

He was not a prominent politician. He was not a champion of vernacular education. He did not make a living driving the wedge between Malaysians with fire-and-brimstone speeches yet this La Salle Brother was among the 106 individuals detained under Operasi Lalang.

What were Brother Anthony Rogers’ offences? Developing social programmes, providing aid to the poor and raising awareness on social and economic injustices.

He said that his detention gave him the opportunity to strike friendships with people of different faith. He also found solace in the Bible, which he read from cover to cover many times.

‎Recalling his arrest, he said: “I was told that the government wanted to know more about the growing involvement of the Catholic Church in human development and social justice work,”

He added: “The only thing we were told was that we were being investigated for being a threat to national security.”

Rogers was held for 60 days in solitary confinement at the police remand centre at Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, and then sent to the Kamunting detention camp on 28 December 1987 under a two-year detention order.

He was released after eight months.

Rogers’ passion for speaking out against poverty and corruption was born out of a belief that “concern for the poor and moral order is a permanent mission of the church.”

“I was seen as a threat to national security because it (the church) brought together people of all faiths who have a passion for God to have compassion for their brothers and sisters,”  said the 68-year-old, who is currently the brother director at Penang’s St Xavier’s Institution. ‎

“We were working towards helping Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. Not to convert them. It was to ensure they received just wages, proper education, good living conditions and a corruption-free government.”

Below are excerpts from the interview:

TMI: How did the ISA arrest affect your life?

Rogers: Most of us must have heard about the dreadful stories about the 60 days, solitary confinement; spartan food, irregular sleep and endless interrogation.

The plywood on a cement block, without pillow or blanket was not the most difficult aspect of life. It was “fear of isolation” and “falling into the trap of public shame.”

Before being incarcerated, I was brought to Petaling Jaya to collect some personal items. Besides grabbing a few items of clothing and toiletries, I had the foresight to take from my bedside the copy of my personal Bible.

I was surprised that when I asked my officers if I could take this into my cell and prayer room for the next 60 days and they said “yes”.

Later, I was told that mine was an unusual request and their gracious consent a gift few may have received. Many would not believe that I was able to read from cover to cover many times and spent hours reflecting on the words.

The privilege of having the Bible was my source of inspiration and strength.

TMI: Are you angry with the government for what they put you through?

Rogers: I’m not angry with the government, but sad. They could have come to our office and find out what we are doing instead of using the ISA (Internal Security Act).

If they wanted to investigate us, there are proper ways to do it. They shouldn’t have used the ISA because it drives more fear into people.  

Unless they could find some fault with what we were doing, then that’s a different story.

We were not stirring people up with anger. We were just asking them to care for the country, especially with the growing tensions, by doing campaigns to reconcile one another as Malaysians. Telling them how our differences can be resolved.

TMI: Who were some of the detainees with you at Kamunting?

Rogers: The 49 of us who were sent to Kamunting were placed in two kawasan (areas) which were 8 and 9.

Some of those in Kawasan 8 included DAP’s V. David, Karpal Singh, Lau Dak Kee and Lim Guan Eng, PAS Youth (chief) Mat Sabu, Mahfuz Omar, Haji Sulaiman and Khalid Samad. The academics and educators were Kua Kia Soong, Sim Mou You and others.

Our stay in Kamunting was not a holiday but we made full use of our time together to share our stories about out work and life and saw that the diversity of our gifts and talents based on our own faiths is the strength of Malaysia.

We became friends and continue to believe that Kamunting did not break us but allowed us rediscover new insights for a better Malaysia.

TMI: What was the support from your family members and friends like?

Rogers: The support from the family, church and international organisations was unbelievable. The church in Asia and Europe showed their contribution to persons who stood up for justice by sending us more than 10,000 cards and letters.

TMI: When you look back to the time before your arrest, what would you have done differently?

Rogers: If you do something good and get arrested, then how can you prevent it from happening? It was obvious in my writings and talks, they couldn’t identify anything that I did wrong.

It was just about how people neglect the poor. How can you not talk about justice and freedom?

TMI: What was your most painful experience being in Kamunting?

Rogers: The greatest pain is to see what all the families went through when they came to visit. It was especially sad to see the children coming to visit their parents in Kamunting.

They couldn’t understand why they had to come and see their fathers behind barbed-wire fences.

‎As for me, there was no bad experience. I became friends with people from different faiths and that was a great achievement.

TMI: Did your experience deter you from carrying out your social work after you were released?

Rogers: No, our lives are to serve the poor. Just because somebody tells us not to do good, we cannot just keep quiet. Doing good for the people is the essence of our religious faith. – 27 October 2017.

Vatican online survey for young people receives fewer response than expected

VATICAN CITY – Over four months ago the Vatican posted an online international poll for people 16-29 years of age. It was part of preparations for the Synod of Bishops’ ordinary assembly, which is focusing on “Young people, faith and vocational discernment” and is to take place in Rome in October 2018.

The direct consultation was unprecedented for the Vatican. It was meant to take place in parallel with the contributions from bishops’ conferences from each country around the world.

The survey was posted online on 14 June 2017 and was designed to be open to all young people irrespective of religion or geographic origin.

But a month after the survey closed, the Synod’s secretary-general, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, has revealed some interesting statistics.

While a total of 148,247 people visited the survey site, less than half of this number — a little more than 65,000 — actually answered all the questions.

However, some 3,000 respondents left their email addresses and said they wished to be kept informed of the survey’s outcome.

The Vatican’s daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reported the figures in its October 25th edition. Cardinal Baldisseri had already unveiled them last week at a conference for Italian religious publishers in the Northern Italy city of Pordenone.

The figures are quite low for a worldwide survey, particularly if compared to the 2.5 million people who participated in the most recent World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland during the summer of 2016.

Observers who have closely followed the Synod assembly’s preparation have noted that communications were not very effective in some countries. The language barrier was a problem. For instance, the survey was not translated into German.

As a result, the German bishops made their own translation and distributed it locally. But the responses from young Germans are not included in the figures given by Cardinal Baldisseri’s office.

During his address in Pordenone, the cardinal also presented a summary of comments young people made on the survey itself. He cited several testimonies from French young people who expressed satisfaction with the way the survey was carried out.

On the other hand, he also noted various criticisms of the survey. For example, some respondents felt the questionnaire was too long, while others felt a number of important issues were hardly addressed or not tackled at all.

These include problems linked to alcohol, drug and medicine consumption; sexuality and relationship issues; or even links with other religions.

Young people who attended a September seminar the Vatican held in preparation for the synod had already expressed some of these same concerns.

Cardinal Baldisseri insisted last week that the contribution of young people “is essential for the conclusions to correspond to the reality of the Church and society”.

He warned that without this “there is a risk of building ‘castles in the air,’  which will remain uninhabited because young people do not identify with them.”

Now the questionnaire will remain online until November 30. Responses will be used to help draft the Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris (or the working document for the assembly on youth), which is expected to be published in the summer of 2018. – la croix international

Papar pre-marriage seminar draws 20 couples

PAPAR – A pre-marriage seminar organised by the parish Christian Family Committee here drew 20 couples.

The seminar was held on 20-21 Oct 2017 at Fr John Tsung Hall.

The programme began with a Bible Enthronement by Father Rayner Bisius, followed by his presentation entitled; Marriage in the Context of The Catholic Church, and Marriage in God’s Plan/Sacrament of Marriage.

The second day began with a session by Richard and Grace Lim on Communication in Marriage.

Dominic Lim presented Theology of the Body while Joseph Sipalan gave a talk on infectious diseases.

After tea break, Judith Sideh presented Economics in the Family in accordance with the Bible.

The afternoon session continued with a workshop session on Responsibilities of Christian Parents in a Family, moderated by the PPC Chairman, Johnny Sitamin.

The 40 participants were divided into two men and two women groups, where they discussed and presented the chosen topic on what are the responsibilities of husband/wife after marriage?

The final session dealt with Natural Family Planning Approach with a practicum on the process of charting.

After Sunset Mass, the participants returned for the summary and Q&A session handled by Jeffery Anjuman, chairman of the family life committee.

The seminar ended with a certificate presenting ceremony to the participants by Margaret Lee, coordinator of Christian Family Committee, and a group photo session. – William Charles Mindus

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