Monthly Archives: May, 2018

Children’s performances steal show at Kaamatan Festival programme

The children in traditional attire perform at the cultural programme at the 18th Archdiocesan Kaamatan Festival hosted by St Peter Claver Ranau, 29 May 2018.  The festival is held every two years hosted by the parishes on a rotation basis.

RANAU – The children’s performances at the cultural programme organised as part of the 18th Archdiocesan Kaamatan (Harvest) Festival stole the show on 29 May 2018 at St Peter Claver here.

They showcased the talents of the parish’s children and brought home the point that if children are taught early the traditions and folklore of the Kadazandusun and Murut peoples they may be able to withstand the onslaught of modernisation and secularisation.

Other parishes also took part in the cultural programme at the SK St Benedict field after the concelebrated Thanksgiving Mass presided by Archbishop John Wong.  Among the concelebrants were Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Joseph Marino, Archbishop Emeritus John Lee and Bishop Cornelius Piong of Keningau who once served in Ranau from 1981 to 1987.

Over 1000 people from across the archdiocese, mostly in the traditional black-and-gold attire, turned up to celebrate the event.

In his message, Abp Marino elaborated on the meaning of the theme, Discovering the Face of Christ in Refining the Culture.

“The Kaamatan festivity is the result of a long tradition imbued with a spirit of thanksgiving to God at the end of the harvest season and prayers of supplication for a bountiful harvest in the future…Kaamatan brings us to the soil, the earth itself, where in planting and reaping we discover the paradigm of Christian life, and we become aware of the words of our Lord, ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit (Jn 12:24).  This image, so familiar with those who work the land, becomes the motif for our lives as Christians, indeed, for the life of Christ himself.” the nuncio said.

A significant event that happened amid the festivity was the guided tour of the mission school premises by Abp Marino with Abp Wong, Father Nicholas Stephen, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Wilfred M Tangau, headmistress Mdm Whine Awang, and others in the hope that those who have some means would contribute funds to the renovation of some of  the school’s dilapidated buildings.

The day before, May 28, seven parishes took part in the traditional sports competition  such as tug-of-war, sling-shooting, blowpiping, javelin, Rampanau, cocomut bowling, shot put, pinang-peeling, padding pounding, and coconut-grating with host parish St Peter Claver Ranau as the overall champion with eight golds and one bronze followed by Holy Family Telipok with one gold, three silver and one bronze and St Michael Penampang with one gold, one silver and one bronze.

The first day ended with a concert which was well attended despite a heavy downpour in the early evening.

The next host and organiser of the biennial event in 2020 will be Holy Nativity Terawi.

BM Legionaries organise fellowship for senior parishioners

A section of the senior parishioners who attend the fellowship lunch at the right wing of the Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing, 27 May 2018, organised by the BM Legion of Mary.

KOTA KINABALU – The Sacred Heart Cathedral BM Legionaries organised their third lunch fellowship for senior parishioners at the right wing of the Sacred Heart Parish Centre here on 27 May 2018.

Over 30 registered members attended the fellowship after the 10:45 am BM Mass.  The event was graced by Father Maxmillianno Hontor.

The fellowship, started in August 2017, is organised alternately every two months by the BM Legionaries (LOM) and the Komuniti Tritunggal Mahakudus (KTM).

With the BM community coming into the scene, the three main language communities of the cathedral parish have come full circle in honouring their respective senior members in this simple but meaningful way.

Canonists gather at Stella Maris Penang

The canonists pose for remembrance after their meeting 23-26 Apr 2018, Stella Maris Retreat Centre Penang.

PENANG – A group of ten canonists from the dioceses of Penang, Singapore, Kuching, Keningau, Melaka- Johor and Kuala Lumpur gathered at the Stella Maris Retreat Centre on 23-26 April 2018 for their annual get-together to meet and update themselves on canonical matters. The invited facilitator was Father I Made Markus Suma from Indonesia. Fr Made is currently doing his doctorate in Canon Law at the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, Manila.

This year’s gathering was hosted by the Diocese of Penang. At the start of the three-day gathering, Father Dominic Santhiyagu read out Bishop Sebastian Francis’ welome address to those present.

Fr Made Markus presented three sessions on the first day beginning with “Disparity of Cult-Ad Normam, Canon 1086 and its Canonical Effects,” followed by “Canonical Elements of Mixed Marriage in Aggiornamento of Vatican II” and, lastly, “Acts of Ordinary and Extraordinary Administration of Temporal Goods of the Church: Canonical Assessment of the Authority of the Diocesan Bishop.”

After each session, there were lively discussions and deliberations among the canonists on questions asked by the different dioceses. The priests shared difficult situations they encountered with their parishioners. One very interesting question was, “What happens when the guy does not want to marry in church but his mother insists on him doing so?” Another one was: what happens if he/ she has not received the Sacrament of Confirmation but now wishes to marry in the church? Does the priest have the right to reject their marriage? The question is: what does canon law say about this and what can canonists do about these situations.

On the second day, Fr Santhiyagu, who has just returned from Manila with a Licentiate Degree in Canon Law and who has been appointed as Tribunal Director in Penang, presented a session on “To Grant or not to Grant Funeral Mass?” This was another interesting topic and got the priests into a lively debate with a good sharing of local issues. One priest commented that the beauty of such a gathering is that they are provided with an avenue to exercise their canonical minds!

Father Jestus Pereira ended the sessions with his topic “a Priest and unCatholic Preaching.” Canon law provides that “a person who teaches doctrine condemned by the Roman Pontiff or an ecumenical council or who obstinately rejects the doctrine mentioned in can 750, & 2 or in Can 752 and who does not retract after having been admonished by the Apostolic See or an ordinary, is to be punished with a just penalty— Can 1371. However, the pastoral approach should be tried before resorting to canonical action.

Of course, any visit to Penang would not be complete without a tour of the city and a taste of Penang’s delicacies! The priests visited the Chew Jetty which is now a heritage site. On the way, they stopped at the newly renovated Church of the Assumption on Farquhar Street, another heritage building. Monsignor Michael Cheah took them on a guided tour of the Penang Diocesan  Museum.  They had earlier visited the College General, Jalan Cengai where some of the canonists had been trained .

The Canonists’ gathering for 2019 will be in Miri, Sarawak. – Herald Malaysia

Vatican suggests ways to prevent and eradicate corruption in Wesak Day message

VATICAN – In a message for Wesak, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue analyses the causes and ill effects of corruption and suggests ways to prevent and eradicate it.

The Vatican is inviting the world’s Buddhists and Christians to work together to combat and prevent the “heinous crime” of corruption by eradicating its underlying causes. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) made the call in a message released on Wednesday, 11 Apr 2018, in view of the upcoming Buddhist festival of Wesak.

“Corruption involving the abuse of positions of power for personal gain, both within the public or private sectors, has become such a pervasive scandal in today’s world that the United Nations has designated 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day,” says the message signed by PCID President Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, and Secretary, Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot. Vatican News

Message for the Feast of Wesak which falls on 29 May 2018.

Dear Buddhist Friends,

1. On behalf of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, we extend our warmest greetings and prayerful good wishes on the occasion of Wesak. May this feast bring joy and peace to all of you, your families and your communities throughout the world.

2. We wish to reflect this year on the pressing need to promote a culture free of corruption. Corruption involving the abuse of positions of power for personal gain, both within the public and private sectors, has become such a pervasive scandal in today’s world that the United Nations has designated 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day. As the phenomenon of corruption becomes more widespread, governments, non-governmental organisations, the media, and citizens around the world are joining together to combat this heinous crime. As religious leaders, we too must contribute to fostering a culture imbued with lawfulness and transparency.

3. Pope Francis’ monthly prayer intention for February 2018 was “Say ‘No’ to Corruption.” In denouncing “the sin of corruption,” he recognises that corruption is found throughout the world among politicians, business executives and clerics. Those who ultimately pay the price for corruption, he observes, are the poor. Recalling the words of Jesus to his disciples, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26), the Pope insists, “the only road leading out of corruption […] is service. Because corruption comes from pride, from arrogance, and service is humbling: it is precisely the humble charity of helping others” (Morning Meditation, Domus Santae Marthae, 16 June 2014).

4. Dear friends, as Buddhists, you regard corruption as an unwholesome state of mind that causes suffering and contributes to an unhealthy society. You identify three principal toxins — greed, hate and delusion or ignorance — as sources of this social scourge that must be eliminated for the good of the individual and society. The Second Precept of Buddhism, “I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from taking that which is not given,” teaches Buddhists to discern whether those things that come into their possession are indeed meant for them. If such things have been taken from others illicitly, they may not rightfully be kept. Buddhist teachings and practice not only disapprove of corruption but also seek to transform the unhealthy state of mind, intentions, habits and actions of those who are corrupt.

5. Even though both our religious traditions firmly denounce the evil of corruption, we sadly acknowledge that some of our followers participate in corrupt practices and this leads to bad governance, corporate bribery and the pillaging of national assets. Corruption puts lives at risk for it is connected to low economic growth, weak investment, inflation, monetary devaluation, tax evasion, great inequality, poor education, sub-standard infrastructure, and the degradation of environment. It also threatens the health and safety of individuals and communities. People are scandalised by incompetent and corrupt politicians, ineffective legislation and the failure to investigate major corruption cases. Populist movements, sometimes motivated and sustained by religious fundamentalism, have arisen to protest the breakdown of public integrity.

6. We believe that corruption cannot be answered with silence, and that well-intentioned ideas will prove inadequate unless they are applied, and that such implementation is necessary for corruption to be eliminated. We, Buddhists and Christians, rooted in our respective ethical teachings, must work together to prevent corruption by eradicating its underlying causes and to root out corruption where it exists. In this effort, our main contribution will be to encourage our respective followers to grow in moral integrity and a sense of fairness and responsibility. Our common commitment to combating corruption must include cooperating with the media and civil society in preventing and exposing corruption; creating public awareness of corruption; holding white-collar criminals who plunder national assets accountable for their actions, regardless of their ethnic, religious, political, or class affiliations; teaching and inspiring all people, but especially politicians and public servants, to act with the utmost fiscal integrity; calling for due legal process to recover assets that are stolen through corruption and bringing to justice those responsible for this crime: encouraging more women to participate in politics: refusing to entrust with public office those engaged in illegal activities; and introducing transparent and inclusive institutions based on the rule of law for good governance, accountability, and integrity.

7. Dear friends, may we actively commit ourselves to fostering within our families, and social, political, civil, and religious institutions, an environment free of corruption, by living a life of honesty and integrity. It is in this spirit that we wish you, once again, a peaceful and joyful feast of Wesak!

Vatican official says Christians and Muslims need to move from competition to collaboration in Ramadan message

VATICAN CITY – Christians and Muslims need to move from competition to collaboration. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran said this in the Ramadan and Aidil Fitri message dated 20 Apr 2018.

A spirit of competition has too often wounded the image of religions and their followers.

“It is important that we Christians and Muslims recall the religious and moral values that we share, while acknowledging our differences.

See below for full text of the message

Message for the month of Ramadan and Aidil Fitri

Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters,
In his Providence, God the Almighty has granted you the opportunity to observe anew the fasting of Ramadan and to celebrate Aidil Fitri.

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue appreciates the importance of this month and the great effort by the Muslims throughout the world to fast, pray and share the Almighty’s gifts with the poor.

Mindful of the gifts prompted by Ramadan, we join you in thanking the Merciful God for his benevolence and generosity and we extend to you our heartfelt best wishes.

The thoughts we would like to share with you on this occasion, dear Muslim brothers and sisters, concern a vital aspect of relations between Christians and Muslims: the need to move from competition to collaboration.

A spirit of competition has too often marked past relations between Christians and Muslims, the negative consequences of which are evident: jealousy, recriminations, and tensions. In some cases, these have led to violent confrontations, especially where religion has been instrumentalised, above all, due to self-interest and political motives.

Such interreligious competition wounds the image of religions and their followers, and it fosters the view that religions are not sources of peace, but of tension and violence.

To prevent and overcome these negative consequences, it is important that we, Christians and Muslims, recall the religious and moral values that we share, while acknowledging our differences. By recognising what we hold in common and by showing respect for our legitimate differences, we can more firmly establish a solid foundation for peaceful relations, moving from competition and confrontation to an effective cooperation for the common good. This particularly assists those most in need, and allows us to offer a credible witness to the Almighty’s love for the whole of humanity.

We all have the right and the duty to witness to the All-Powerful One we worship, and to share our beliefs with others, while respecting their religion and religious sentiments.

So that we may further peaceful and fraternal relations, let us work together and honour each another. In this way, we will give glory to the Almighty and promote harmony in society, which is becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural.

We conclude by renewing our best wishes for a fruitful fast and a joyful ‘Id, and assure you of our solidarity in prayer.

From the Vatican, April 20, 2018


source: herald malaysia

CMI ends Marian month with rosary procession

The devotees end the rosary procession from the grotto to the white statue of Our Lady at the entrance of the Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang, 24 May 2018.

BUKIT PADANG – The Church of Mary Immaculate (CMI) here ended the month of May with a rosary procession on 24 May 2018.

Around 50 people attended the bilingual (English, Mandarin) rosary procession, the first in CMI’s history, around the car park with lighted candles.  The devotion ended with a potblessed fellowship at the canteen.

The different groups and ministries took part in praying the rosary in English (Mon, Tue, Thu) and Mandarin (Wed, Fri) at 7:30 pm since May 1.

Throughout the year, the rosary is recited before the 6 pm Mandarin Sunset Mass on Saturdays and before the 9 am English Mass on Sundays.

The Rosary is an important devotion that honours Mary while focusing on the events in the life of Jesus Christ.

There are twenty mysteries reflected upon in the Rosary, and these are divided into the five Joyful Mysteries (said on Monday and Saturday), the five Luminous Mysteries (said on Thursday), the five Sorrowful Mysteries (said on Tuesday and Friday), and the five Glorious Mysteries (said on Wednesday and Sunday).

The question is sometimes asked, why, of all the incidents in our Lord’s life, the Rosary only considers these particular twenty. The mysteries of the Rosary are based on the incidents in the life of Our Lord and His Mother that are celebrated in the Liturgy. There is a parallel between the main feasts honouring our Lord and his Mother in the liturgical year, and the twenty mysteries of the Rosary. Consequently, one who recites the twenty mysteries of the Rosary in one day reflects on the whole liturgical cycle that the Church commemorates during the course of each year. That is why some of the Popes have referred to the Rosary as a compendium of the Gospel. One cannot change the mysteries of the Rosary without losing the indulgences that the Church grants for the recitation of the Rosary. – www.rosarycenter.org

UCAN gets new leadership, expands into services

Father Michael Kelly SJ (L) has handed over UCAN’s executive leadership to Peter Monthienvichienchai (R).  (ucanews.com photo)

BANGKOK – The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) has a new leader — Peter Monthienvichienchai, who succeeds Father Michael Kelly SJ as executive director after the latter spent almost 10 years in the job.

Peter is Thai with a doctorate in computer science from University College London and extensive experience in management, education and social media. He is the first Asian and first lay person to lead UCAN.

Peter was educated by the Benedictines at Ampleforth Abbey in York in northern England before taking his doctorate in London. He is married with two children and returned to live in Thailand after completing his postdoctorate research and working with data companies in Europe. On his return, he led St John’s International School for 10 years and then worked at senior executive level for two years in the property development sector in Bangkok.

“It’s a privilege to serve in such a unique organisation as UCAN,” Peter said. “Together with our network of correspondents throughout Asia, I look forward to enhancing UCAN’s ability to support the mission of the church and to provide the strongest voice for the voiceless of Asia.”

He started with UCAN in September 2017 as deputy executive director, chief financial officer and chief technical officer. He succeeded Father Kelly on 15 May 2018.

But Father Kelly is not leaving UCAN. He is moving sideways to take more responsibility for new ventures developed in the last three years — the daily publication of La Croix International for Bayard Presse and the English edition of La Civilta Cattolica.

Two digital projects are also in development: a booking platform for travelers who want to stay at monasteries, convents and retreat houses across the world called Good Night and God Bless (www.goodnightandgodbless.com) and a Facebook-like site dedicated to memorials for the deceased called Skymorials.

These are promising times for UCAN as it develops relationships with long-standing partners such as the Paris Foreign Mission, Maryknoll and European donors and new ventures with some of the key publishers in the Catholic world such as Bayard Presse in Paris and La Civilta Cattolicain Rome.

“I feel more than confident in Peter’s capacity, skills and vision to take UCAN to a new level of performance and service to the Catholic Church in Asia,” Father Kelly said. – ucanews.com, 23 May 2018

Pope Francis grants indulgences for 9th World Meeting of Families

Pope Francis  poses with Irish families during a general audience in St Peter’s Square (ANSA).

VATICAN CITY – The Apostolic Penitentiary has issued a decree regarding the indulgences Pope Francis has granted on the occasion of the IX World Meeting of Families.

Those who participate in the events of the IX World Meeting of Families on 21-26 August 2018 either in person, through television or radio, or through a spiritual participation will be able to obtain a plenary indulgence according to a Decree dated 21 May 2018 published by the Apostolic Penitentiary. Pope Francis is offering this possibility so that those who participate will be “spiritually prepared in the best way possible,” the Decree says.

For those participating physically in the events, the Decree says that the indulgence is granted to those who “devoutly participate at some event during the IX World Meeting of Families, with the usual conditions of Sacramental confession, reception of Communion, a prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father, and a heart completely detached from sin.

“For those unable to attend the events in Dublin the Decree indicates that the indulgence is granted to those who in addition to the usual conditions are “united spiritually to the faithful present in Dublin, recite as a family an ‘Our Father,’ the ‘Creed’ and other devout prayers to invoke from the Divine Mercy the indicated intention, particularly when the words of the Pontiff are transmitted by television or radio.”

Lastly, a Partial Indulgence has been granted to any member of the faithful who prays for families with a contrite heart while the World Meeting of Families takes place.

The Decree also states the intention that Pope Francis desires in granting these indulgences on the occasion of the World Meeting of Families: “That the faithful, truly penitent and motivated by charity, might dedicate themselves to the sanctification of the family, following the example of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” – Sr Bernadette Mary Reis fsp, Vatican News

Pope appoints Abp Marek as papal representative to Singapore, Vietnam

Abp Marek Zalewski

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Monday, 21 May 2018, appointed Polish Archbishop Marek Zalewski as the new Apostolic Nuncio to Singapore who will also be the non-resident Pontifical Representative to Vietnam.

Archbishop Zalewski who served as Apostolic Nuncio in Zimbabwe will be based in Singapore.  He fills the diplomatic post which had been vacant for 8 months after Pope Francis transferred Archbishop Leopold Girelli as Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine in September 2017.

Born in 1963 in Augustow, Poland, Archbishop Zalewski was ordained a priest in 1989. He holds a doctorate in canon law from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University Rome.

After entering the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1995, he has served in Holy See missions in the Central African Republic, the United Nations, Great Britain, Germany, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Pope Francis appointed him Apostolic Nuncio to Zimbabwe in March 2014.  Besides his native language, he also speaks Italian, English, French, German and Spanish.

Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam has welcomed the new pontifical representative and urged the country’s Catholics to pray for his new mission.

“We should thank God, through Holy See representatives, for creating conditions for the church in Vietnam, where religious freedom remains restricted, to be in close communion with the pope, Vatican officials, and churches around the world,” Archbishop Linh told UCANEWS.

He hoped Archbishop Zalewski will improve ties between the Holy See and Vietnam. Archbishop Linh also said he will write to invite the new Vatican envoy to visit Vietnam soon.

While Vietnam and the Holy See do not have full diplomatic relations, the Communist southeast Asian nation’s agreement to let the Vatican name a non-resident papal representative to the country in 2011 was seen as a breakthrough in an ongoing process to normalise relations.

The appointment of Archbishop Girelli came after landmark high-level meetings such as Pope Benedict XVI’s meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet in 2009 and his 2007 meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.  That meeting marked the first time a prime minister from Vietnam’s communist government met a pope and top officials from the Vatican Secretariat of State.

Talks and relations between the Vatican and Vietnam were further reinforced when Pope Benedict VI met the head of Vietnam’s communist party, Nguyen Phu Trong, and top party and government officials in January 2013.  It was the first time a pope had met with the general secretary of the nation’s Communist Party.

Earlier this year, a Vatican delegation headed by Msgr Antoine Camilleri, the Vatican’s Undersecretary for Relations with States, paid a five-day working visit to Vietnam.  During the Jan 16-20 trip, he held meetings with top government officials and bodies.

Vietnam still demands that any papal appointment in the country has to be approved by the government.  Likewise, working visits by the Singapore-based pontifical representative, also require approval from the government.  Return of confiscated Church property is also a thorny issue.

Meanwhile, relations between the Holy See and Singapore have been far easier. Diplomatic relations established on 24 June 1981, will mark their 37th anniversary next month. – Robin Gomes, Vatican News

LiFE community members attend silent women’s retreat

The retreatants pose with Sr Josephine Preza RVM (standing middle row, with bouquet) after the retreat, 10-11 Mar 2018, Kokol Prayer Summit Manggatal.

KOKOL, Manggatal – LiFE Community of Sacred Heart Cathedral created a space for Catholic women to quiet down and contemplate on the reflections given in a two-day silent retreat, 10-11 Mar 2018 at Kokol Prayer Summit, with the theme, Beauty for Ashes (Is 61:3, 35).

The retreat was facilitated by Sister Josephine Preza of the Congregation of the Religious Virgin Mary Philippines on her fourth visit to Kota Kinabalu.

Sr Jo, as she is known, presented the story of the prodigal son, inviting everyone to put themselves in the story. Most of the retreatants were able to identify themselves in it and shared their encounters.

Gathered around the cross, Sr Jo invited everyone to hold their pain and to not let it just past as it is an uncomfortable feeling that one usually wants to get rid of.

The gesture of lighting a candle and putting it into a decorated glass jar helped everyone to focus on the ritual. The letting go of pain through the power of the cross, allowing Jesus’ wounds to meet theirs and encounter redemptive suffering was a healing experience for many.

Prior to the weekend retreat, Sr Jo facilitated a five-day Retreat in Daily Life. Two women shared their prayer experience after completing the retreat.

One of them shared on how she hurried prayer time and treated it as another task to be done in her day. Giving time to God in prayer during the weekday retreat brought revelation and healing to her.

Another woman shared about the discovery of her anger with God for having an autistic son. Times of prayer and embracing the identity of being blessed by God helped her to see her life differently.

The other retreatants said they were able to relate with their sharings as they too felt like they have been hurrying prayer time and blaming God for the difficulties they are facing. Beatrice Chong

Below are some of the reflections of the retreatants.

Improving communication with God

The silent retreat has a tremendous effect on me where I’ve learned to improve my communication with God. Apart from coming there to rest, be refreshed and to discover Beauty in Ashes, I’ve had the opportunity to learn the importance of being silent and listen to God as well as how to enter into a relationship with Him which I had been longing and searching for all of my life.

For me, I’ve experienced God’s unconditional and unlimited love, forgiveness, peace, acceptance despite that I’m a terrible sinner and am just like the “Lost Son” coming back to his father as in Luke 15:11-32.

During the communal prayer on Saturday night, it was a very touching experience where I’d been taught how to hold and release, past life, all my anger, hurt, worries, frustration, and sadness to God.

Sister Josephine taught me to put it all in Jesus wounds by presenting my lighted candle (in a glass jar) to Jesus. Upon presenting my lighted candle to Jesus, I felt lightened, released, peace and I saw the image of Jesus inviting me so he can embrace me. It was truly a wonderful moment and experience for me.

I had also learned to do personal reflection in silence through scripture. We were taught to take note of what word or phrase stands out to ourselves and thereafter, come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

In conclusion, this silent retreat has greatly impacted me. Now I can see myself getting closer to God, learning to be silent at the same time listen to Him even in my daily busy life, as a working mother and wife. I started to read the daily readings and bring my Bible to the office to read during my lunch hour. –Susan Liew

The retreat helps me to be silent and still

I went to the retreat with my mom and sister and also with a pain in my heart, hoping and searching that I’ll get an answer. Surely, I got my answer.

This women’s retreat with Sr Jo was indeed fruitful and helpful for a person who is constantly busy with work, hardly having a full focus on “God time.”

It helped me to focus and be silent and still, disconnected with the world and just be connected to God. As I was contemplating on the scriptures given by Sr Jo, God showed me an insight of the answer to my pain as I reflected Jesus on the cross. It’s like he wants me to know that to love is also to understand love in pain and to be willing to suffer for love. – Desiree Laban

The Father embraces me

I would describe my relationship with God and others as a “safe” relationship before I attended the retreat. I love but am not too loving. I care but not too much. In short, my sole purpose of loving was making sure I was not hurt.

During the retreat, God brought many painful memories alive. The past wounds of betrayal and losses felt raw once again. I was in great agony during the whole process and for the first time I ‘saw’ our Heavenly Father was there. He was crying harder than I was. I had never seen Him shed so many tears for me “I am sorry, my child, I know it hurts. I am here. You are made for love,” he said gently.

I continued to feel the pain and cry out to Him. Just when I thought my heart was going to burst from crying, I felt a sense of warmth. He was embracing me like a father would embrace a little baby. I was small, wounded and fragile. Being in His embrace, I felt safe.

My heart finally had the courage to admit I felt hurt by God. He hurts me for allowing losses and betrayals to crush me. I cannot see Him in my darkest moments because I refused to go through the darkness with Him. I now know God can be found in the darkest moments of my life but I have to reveal the darkness to Him.

Vulnerability is letting my true self be seen and admitting that I am afraid. It’s true that being vulnerable is scary but God has shown me the path to love authentically is being vulnerable to people who love and care for me. – Jessica Rine

 Get in touch with my deepest being

This was my first time joining a silent retreat and the experience was extraordinary. It allowed me to get in touch with the deepest, truest part of my being, by spending personal and quality time, one to one with God in silence.

The theme ‘Beauty for Ashes’ together with the chosen scripture of the Prodigal Son for me to contemplate on had made me realise that as human, we may fall into the darkness of sin, as dark as the ashes, but the Light of the beloved Father will never fail to always save us in His warm embrace and make known to us the greatness of His unconditional love.

On top of all that, this experience continues to strengthen my trust in His unfailing love, to always believe and never give up on Him. – Sarah Michael

The Father waits for my return

The retreat was a truly amazing experience for me. I was at a point of my spiritual journey, where I looked back and wondered how I have drifted away from the close relationship I once enjoyed with Jesus. From spending an hour in prayer each day in my youth, I had slowly allowed it to become shorter with time.

When I became a mother, I had to be satisfied with a quick 10 minutes here, and 5 minutes there! And now, the babies had grown up, and I had grown apart from God. So, my personal aim of the retreat was to reignite my personal prayer time with the Lord again.

From the beginning of the retreat, Sr Josephine was encouraging and clear in her instructions and guidance as we prayed with scripture. The Prodigal Son was the passage that moved, yet troubled me most. Having associated myself often with the character of the dissatisfied and unforgiving elder brother, it scared me while I was in prayer, and saw myself as the beaten prodigal son, lost and dirty in the dark pig-sty…. paralysed in misery as I realised my past mistakes. Worse still I felt unable to return to God! I was so unworthy to return to my Father. I felt so ashamed. It was my fault, so I had to suffer the consequences.

Then, Sr Josephine’s words reminding me that God gave up His only son for me. He is waiting for my return, imagine the agony He goes through while waiting….so how could I continue to cause Him pain by not returning to His loving embrace?

I needed to forgive myself and return to my Father’s loving embrace…not because I deserved it, but because not doing so would continue to wound His loving heart! Thanks be to God! I concluded my retreat with the resolution to begin spending an hour a day with my beloved Jesus…once again! Amen. -CChang

 

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