Daily Archives:February 6th, 2018

Neocatechumenal Way: Kiko Arguello announces successor to Carmen Hernandez

Gathering of the NeoCatechumenal Way. Courtesy photo.

ROME – During an international retreat of the Neocatechumenal Way held in Porto San Giorgio, Italy, Kiko Argüello announced on 2 Feb 2018 that Maria Ascensión Romero will be a new international member of the movement, replacing Carmen Hernandez, who died on 19 July 2016. Argüello and Hernandez were the ecclesial movement’s co-founders.

Romero joins Father Mario Pezzi and Argüello to make up the international team, which according to the movement’s statutes is to be comprised of three members. Romero was an itinerant missionary for years in Saint Petersburg Russia.

The Neocatechumenal Way was founded in 1964 in Spain. It draws its inspiration from the practices of the early Catholic Church, providing “post-baptismal” Christian formation in some 40,000 small, parish-based communities.  The movement is present all over the world, and says it has an estimated membership of more than 1 million people.

Since the Neocatechumenal Way was founded, the group has sometimes been cautioned by the Vatican for inserting various novel practices into the Masses it organises. These include practices such as lay preaching, standing during the Eucharistic Prayer, the reception of Holy Communion while sitting, and the passing of the Most Precious Blood from person to person.- CNA

Pope supports pro-life movement, sets day of prayer for peace in Africa

Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St Peter’s Square 4 Feb 2018 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY – With so many direct attacks on human life, from abortion to war, Pope Francis said he is worried that so few people are involved in pro-life activities.

Reciting the Angelus prayer at the Vatican on 4 Feb 2018, Pope Francis marked Italy’s Pro-Life Sunday and also called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace Feb 23, with special prayers for Congo and South Sudan.

Some 20,000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus. Many of them carried the pro-life movement’s green balloons with the message, “Yes to life.”

Thanking all the “different church realities that promote and support life in many ways,” Pope Francis said he was surprised there were not more people involved.

“This worries me,” the pope said. “There aren’t many who fight on behalf of life in a world where, every day, more weapons are made; where, every day, more laws against life are passed; where, every day, this throwaway culture expands, throwing away what isn’t useful, what is bothersome” to too many people.

Pope Francis asked for prayers that more people would become aware of the need to defend human life “in this moment of destruction and of throwing away humanity.”

With conflict continuing in many parts of the world, the pope said it was time for a special day of prayer and fasting for peace and that it was appropriate for the observance to take place Feb 23, a Friday in Lent.

“Let us offer it particularly for the populations of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of South Sudan,” he said.

Fighting between government troops and rebel forces and between militias continue in Congo, especially in the East, but tensions also have erupted as protests grow against President Joseph Kabila, whose term of office ended in 2016. New elections have yet to be scheduled.

South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war. But, just two years after independence, political tensions erupted into violence.

Pope Francis asked “our non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to join this initiative in the way they believe is most opportune.”

And he prayed that “our heavenly Father would always listen to his children who cry to him in pain and anguish.”

But individuals also must hear those cries, he said, and ask themselves, “‘What can I do for peace?’ Certainly we can pray, but not only. Each person can say ‘no’ to violence” in their daily lives and interactions. “Victories obtained with violence are false victories, while working for peace is good for everyone.” – Cindy Wooden, CNS

Listening to God’s word between Christmas and Lent

THE beginning of the calendar year is a time for making resolutions, but in the Catholic liturgical year it is called “Ordinary Time” — a boring title for the part of the year that’s not Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter.

But it is also an opportunity to be an extraordinary Catholic — one who reads the Scriptures daily.

In the bad old days, Catholics were discouraged from reading the Scriptures because clerics feared their parishioners would become like Protestants and start thinking for themselves. “You don’t need the Scriptures; just memorise the catechism and do what I tell you.”

Today, the church encourages Catholics to nourish themselves with God’s word, and has some of the best Scripture scholars in the world. But sadly, polls show that Catholics still read the Scriptures less than their Protestant brothers and sisters. Only 17 percent of Catholics read the Bible every day as compared to 38 percent of Protestants.

There are lots of ways to read the Scriptures, but one of the best is to read the passages used during Mass, even if you do not attend daily Mass. Over its two-year cycle, the weekday lectionary gives readers a comprehensive taste of the best passages in the Old and New Testaments. The Sunday lectionary follows a three-year cycle.

These lectionaries are also used by many Protestant churches. When you pray over these readings, you are united with Christians across the world who are reading the same passages. It is an experience that can be shared in prayer groups or with family and friends.

The daily Scripture readings during Ordinary Time provide Christians with the opportunity to get acquainted with the Bible. The word “ordinary” comes from “ordinal,” as in “ordinal numbers,” since these weeks are numbered. The first weeks of Ordinary Time use the first chapters of Mark’s Gospel, and during even numbered years, the first reading is from the Book of Samuel.

These readings often have relevance today.

For example, during the first week in Ordinary Time, the First Book of Samuel begins with his mother, Hannah, who like many women today is being badly treated by her culture and her priest. She is told she has no value unless she has a son. When she prays in the temple, the priest Eli accuses her of being drunk. The only person on her side is God who hears her prayer.

Mark’s Gospel is challenging. Mark’s Jesus demands uncompromising personal commitment. In Mark’s mind, nobody understands Jesus, not even the Apostles and his mother Mary.  At the end of the Gospel, the women do not tell the disciples that Jesus is risen. Rather, they “fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

With such a downer for an ending, it is no surprise that someone added to Mark’s Gospel the appearances to Mary Magdalene and the disciples. It was not that Mark was ignorant of the appearances; he did not include them because he wanted to give one message to his fellow Christians: “You just don’t get it.”

Mark’s Gospel was sufficient in the early days of Christianity when people had to make a personal choice for Christ, but as time went on it was hard to live with his relentless calls to total commitment.

Matthew realised that Christianity was not only about personal commitment, but about a Christian community that needs teaching, structure and rules. Luke understood that we never are as committed as Mark wanted and therefore need a compassionate message that gives hope.

Each of the four Gospels has a special message. At the beginning of Ordinary Time, Mark tells us that we need to make a personal commitment to Christ and this commitment needs to be absolute. But lest we get too proud, we also need to be reminded that no one really understands Jesus. If we think we do, we need to return to Mark.

There are many ways to get the daily Mass Scripture readings, including buying hardbound missals or monthly missalettes with the readings. The readings are also online in text and audio at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

For those with smartphones or tablets, there are also free apps, like iBreviary. Or they can be heard on iTunes in “Daily Readings from the New American Bible.”

Catholics need to be nourished by the word of God, and this is a way to do it with the whole Catholic community, even if they don’t go to Mass every day. This is a great New Year’s resolution. If every day is more than you are willing to commit, at least read the Sunday Scripture readings during the week before attending Mass. – Fr Thomas Reese @ NCR

Cana Cafe hosts book launch for three authors

L-R: Jeanny Chong (cafe owner), Roy Jessesly, Derek Chong, Jennifer Linggi pose with copies of their books at the book launch, 5 Jan 2018, Cana Cafe Penampang.

PENAMPANG  – Cana Cafe here hosted a book launch for three authors, Derek Chong, Roy Jessesly and Jennifer Linggi to a closed audience of friends and acquaintances on 5 Jan 2018.

Derek Chong, 49, who hails from Kota Kinabalu, launched the 3rd edition of his book “30 Days to a Better Self-Awareness.

“The human person is searching for meaning. When we have the right foundation, the personal meaning of our lives can be found,” he said this by way of introducing his book at the launch.

“We will search and find. However, when our foundation is wrong, our search becomes tiring and aimless. The 30 Days to a Better Self-Awareness is a tool that can help individuals to find and set right those foundations in our perceptions, hearts and principles of life, leading us to find the true meaning of our life,” he added.

The first edition was released at the end of 2013. Since then, he has used the book to journey with individuals and in groups to help them discover who they are.

Derek, who is also a life coach in his own right, feels strongly that everyone should re-look at one’s foundation. When it is right, life becomes powerful, meaningful and celebrated. When it is not, it means we have been building on wrong foundation.

“But we can change,” underlined Derek, emphasising that “one of the things that we want to do first is to build or re-build our foundation, the way we know (understand) and love ourselves, and this is where the reflection from the 30 days can assist you.”

Derek revealed that some of his associates have used the book as a tool for reflection with people wanting to grow, looking for change or finding it hard to express oneself.

One such person, Mariana Yapp, has a dream to illustrate since young, and with one-to-one coaching from a friend who walked with her through the book ‘30 Days to a Better Self-Awareness,” she finally found the courage to write, illustrate and print her first book.  Her second book has also been released recently.

The “30 Days to a Better Self-Awareness” has found its way to the sharing tables of individuals and groups, either for self-reflection or group discussion in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Wellington.

ATC Publisher of India, who published the 3rd edition, is now marketing the book for the author.  It is Derek’s hope that it would benefit a wider reach of people to lead them to a richer and more beneficial existence, both to themselves and to others around them.

The book is sold locally @ RM20 per copy.  Derek can be contacted @ 019-8620660.

The second author, Roy Jessesly, launched his first book, Colour Me Book at the same event.  His story has been published in the 21 January 2018 issue of Catholic Sabah on page 17.

Jennifer Linggi, 51, architect by profession, was at the event to introduce her book Kampung Legacy, the result of her devotion to the subject of basket-making and the need to document the traditional baskets of Sabah.

Linggi was at the book launch at the friendly invitation of Cana Cafe.  Her book was launched earlier in May 2017.  The Tun Fuad Foundation funded the publication of her book after realising the need to preserve the knowledge of local ancestral traditions.  – CS

OFM Capuchins opens first centre in Keningau

KENINGAU – Some 500 faithful witnessed the blessing and opening of the Franciscan Capuchin’s ‘Rumah Sederhana’ (humble house) by Father Valentine Gompok OFMCap, located at Kg Mongitom, Bunga Raya here on 30 Dec 2017, followed by a Eucharistic Celebration.

Among the guests were Mother Frances Mani, FSIC Mother General and other Franciscan Sisters, OFS National Councillors Malaysia, members of the Sabah-wide Order of Franciscan Secular (OFS), St Francis Xavier’s parish PPC Chairman Datuk Ida Undan, and Peter Lim, contractor of the Capuchin house. Undan donated the land to the OFMCap for the purpose.

Since 2007 Fr Gompok has been praying for this intention and he has approached a few individuals to help him.  God answered his prayer and moved Undan to give the OFMCap a piece of her own land to build the centre.

The immediate plan is to build a faith formation centre on the site for the Order.  Meantime, Keningau and Tambunan OFS will take care of the building.

Acknowledging the increase of Catholics in Sabah and the need to have centres for an on-going formation after their baptism, OFM Capuchin is responding to this by helping the diocese to form the newly baptised in their faith, so that they who are just getting to know God will not stray from the faith.

The centre will also be a formation house for candidates of the Capuchin religious from Sabah.

Currently, there are 14 Sabahan Capuchin religious in formation: one final professed in Theology 3 (Br Gilbert James), two simple professed (Br Christi Rames Liew,  Br Tony Bingkuan), one novice (Br Noel Damsus), four soon-to-be novices (Marthin Steven, Cornelsteve Dominic,  Randall Lee,  Sylver Ivan Sabinus), another four entering postulancy (Adam Joel Elias, Aldrin Benedict, Anndrysent Chong, Jerry Ghani) and two entering aspirancy (Frederick Joseph, Gary Damianus).

On the same day,  seven OFS members of  SFX Keningau Fraternity took their final vows.

In his speech, Fr Gompok thanked Bishop Cornelius Piong for his permission for the Order to set up Rumah Sederhana, for the house to be blessed and for Mass to be celebrated. He also thanked all who came from near and far. –  Marina Anjuman

Living the faith in the ordinary moments of life

We are only two weeks into the new year and I have already heard many comments about how quickly Christmas “came and went” and how “soon Lent will be upon us!”

The liturgical season of Christmas came to an end with the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. And now we are in Ordinary Time, the longest “season” of the Church’s liturgical year.

Ordinary Time recalls the events and mystery of Christ’s life in their totality.

It may have seemed to you at times, that this time is, well, ordinary; in the sense that it is not as important. But that is not so. This time is called tempus per annum, “time through the year.” It is from this that we render in English, Ordinary Time. Rather than meaning unimportant, it means ordered, as in Ordered Time.

Ordinary Time, then, is also a time during which we can grow closer to the Lord and deepen our spiritual lives. Here are five suggested practices to get the most out of our observance of Ordinary Time. These are things we can do any time, but let’s use them to renew our commitment to Christ throughout the year.

1. Surrender to Christ – Begin each new day by surrendering yourself to Him and His Will. Replace the habit of pride with the practice of humility, trusting in the Lord.

2. Live in a sacramental life – We can make no progress in the spiritual life if we are not in a state of sanctifying grace. Regularly and actively participate in the sacraments, particularly Holy Mass.

3. Develop a daily prayer habit – If we love someone, we desire to be with that person. The same is true if we love God. Prayer is how we spend time with God. Commit to pray daily prayers. Devotionals, such as the Rosary, and liturgy, such as the Divine Office, are great practices to assist you.

4. Meditate on the Sunday Mass readings – Spend time each week prayerfully reading and thinking about the coming Sunday’s Mass readings – what they mean and how they apply to your life.

5. Be Christ to others – We cannot claim to follow Christ if we do not serve those people He places in our daily lives. Service always requires us to be Christ to those around us, but we are also called to serve those we do not easily recognise. Widen your outreach this year.

The celebrations and seasons of the Liturgical Calendar, including Ordinary Time, along with all the other occasions and event that mark our passage through time, should serve to remind us that we are not accidents of nature, but rational beings created by and loved of God who made us for a high purpose. Let us seek always to give glory to our God! – Deacon Bickerstaff

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