Bethel English Prayer Community refreshes itself with retreat

KOTA KINABALU  – Members of the Bethel English Prayer Community (BEPC), or better known as the English Prayer Meeting, took off to the retreat centre at Bundu Tuhan on 9-11 Feb 2018, to rejuvenate and strengthen themselves for another year of activities.

Of the 40 participants, some are currently serving in the ministry while others are those who have responded to the invitation to serve in the BEPC in the year ahead.

Though the prayer meeting has existed since 1974, it has been through many memorable moments, as well as challenging ones.

Currently, the BEPC, with Carlos Cordova as the interim coordinator, is acting as a caretaker for the prayer community pending the expiry of the current leadership to pave way for the election of new leaders this year.

BEPC also paid a courtesy visit to Father Paul Lo as the new assistant parish priest and introduced themselves to him at the close of last year.

Apart from the weekly Praise and Worship, sharing and in-house talks, BEPC also has a special ministry that caters for benevolent prayers, hospital visits and other spiritual outreach for the members. All are invited to join the BEPC for a time of praise and worship every Friday at 8:00 pm at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre, Room F7.

The Bethel English Prayer Community is one of 70 plus ministry/community groups that are flourishing in the Sacred Heart Cathedral parish. – Joe Carlos Leong, CS

Easter challenge

After 40 days of penitential preparation, the Church welcomes the Easter season with abundant joy. Christ has vanquished death. He has brought hope, light and new life to a people previously living in sin, darkness, and death. His sacrifice and subsequent victory was the ultimate game-changer.

For Catholics, Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday is the third act in the story of salvation, one preceded by suffering and death. It is the height of the liturgical year.

But how often do we rejoice in the event without really understanding it? How often do we take the time to properly reflect on its deeper significance in our lives? How often do we forget to ask ourselves: “What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ in a post-Resurrection world?” To that end, here are three points for consideration.

We must be a people of joy – of resurrection – even when it’s not easy.

In a world where Christ is risen, we must strive to be people of hope and joy. In our lives, when all hope seems gone, when we are tempted to give in to despair, it’s important to recognise that this is where God is at work. This takes an active faith – a trust in God and an understanding that his thoughts are not our thoughts, nor his ways our ways (Is 55:8).

We must continue to seek always. To understand the full meaning of the Resurrection in our lives, we must work to seek the answers that Christ and the Church hold. The paschal mystery is not easy to understand. We are challenged to read, research, ask questions – to become a seeker for Christ. Only through our own understanding will we be able to fashion an appropriate response.

We must actively respond. Jesus’ resurrection is not a passive event. Rather, as was modeled to us by the early Christians, it demands a response.

As Catholics, we are blessed with opportunities to respond as Christians in a post-Resurrection world. We can encounter Christ frequently in the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, and through prayer, Scripture and the witness of holy disciples. We can care for the needy, vulnerable, sick, imprisoned and dying. We can model the Resurrected Christ to others through our interactions, our charity, and our selfless acts.

This Easter, we have the opportunity to be a people of joy, to seek to know Christ more deeply, and to recover the active fire of the first Christians. Like those early Christians, when we understand the Resurrection fully, we, too, will be willing to live our lives completely for God. – OSV

Bishops ask for 24 hours of prayer for GE14

KOTA KINABALU – The Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia has asked all parishes in Malaysia to hold  24-hours of prayer for the 14th General Elections.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish here will begin with Mass on Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 7:30 pm followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament until 5 pm on Saturday, Apr 28.  It will conclude with the Sunset Mass at 6 pm.

All parish groups and the general parishioners are asked to commit themselves to pray for the coming election and are encouraged to join the 24 Hours of Prayers.

And all parishioners who are registered voters are strongly  urged to exercise their right to vote in this election on Wednesday May 9.

Five things you didn’t know can get you in trouble at the next Malaysian General Election

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Five things you didn’t know can get you in trouble at the next Malaysian General Election.

You wake up early in the morning to the singing of birds and golden beams of light. After getting dressed, you put on your best smile and head down to your designated polling station.

You’re doing your part in deciding Malaysia’s future, after all, and that is something to be proud of.

This certainly would be a beautiful day to have an election, no?

You arrive at the polling station and – yay! – the queue isn’t too long. And there’s even a nice man offering cupcakes with your favourite politician’s face on it. You gladly accept one, eager to sink your teeth in to his face (and your vote in his ballot box) when a uniformed officer taps you on the shoulder. He informs you that you’ve just broken the law, and you may not be allowed to vote at all.

This is one of the 5 following actions – which you may be surprised to learn are illegal! Do take note of them and their respective penalties, and be sure to avoid them at the next Malaysia General Election (GE).

1. Accepting food and drinks from strangers

PENALTY: Imprisonment of up to 2 years, a fine between RM1,000.00 and RM5,000.00, and a suspension of your ability to vote for a period of 5 years.

If you are approached by someone who offers you food, drinks, refreshments, or any other treats before, during, or after the voting process, we strongly advise against accepting this treat. This is especially the case if that person claims that these treats are tokens of gratitude to you for voting.

If the provider does so with reference to voting for a specific candidate, be even more resolute in avoiding them.

Why? The Election Offences Act 1954 identifies accepting these possibly corrupt treats as a part of the illegal act of Treating. This is highlighted specifically in the following section of the act: Section 8 of the Election Offences Act 1954 – Treating (in part):

“…and every elector or voter who corruptly accepts or takes any such food, drink, or refreshment or provision or any such money or ticket or who adopts such other means or device to enable the procuring of such food, drink, refreshment or provision shall be guilty of the offence of treating.”

The keyword here is “corruptly”, which indicates knowledge of ulterior motives behind the provision and acceptance of such treats. However, because it may be hard to ascertain the motives of those who provide these treats at times, it is best to avoid them altogether. Needless to say, accepting money or financial tokens in this context is unacceptable too!

2. Taking ballot papers out of, orb ringing them into polling stations

PENALTY: Imprisonment of up to 2 years or a fine of no more than RM5,000.00, if not both, and a suspension of your ability to vote for a period of 5 years.

Under no circumstances should you leave the polling station with a ballot paper in hand, regardless of whether it is an extra, used, unused or empty ballot paper.

If you find yourself in possession of two ballot papers, even if due to a mistake or oversight, be sure to return the extra piece immediately to the nearest Election Officer, instead of carrying it out of the station.

The act of taking a ballot paper out of the polling station is illegal, based on the following segment of the Election Offences Act 1954:

Section 3(1) of the Election Offences Act 1954 – Offences by any person (in part):

Any person who—

(h) without due authority takes out of the polling station any ballot paper or is found in possession of any ballot paper outside a polling station;

Additionally, you should be cautious of printing any replicas of ballot papers or documents that are capable of being used as ballot papers during GE, not to mention avoid bringing them to a polling station. The same section of the act states the following:

Any person who—

(c) forges or counterfeits or fraudulently defaces or fraudulently destroys any ballot paper or the official mark on any ballot paper;
(j) without due authority prints any ballot paper or what purports to be or is capable of being used as a ballot paper at an election;

Concurrently, when leaving a polling station, be sure to check yourself to see if you have any excess or suspicious pieces of paper either in hand or attached to yourself.

3. Waiting or loitering around polling stations after casting your vote

PENALTY: Imprisonment of up to 1 year or a fine of up to RM5,000.00, if not both.

As soon as you are done voting, be sure to leave your polling station in an orderly and legal manner– for example, while avoiding item number 2 above – and only wait for someone beyond 50 metres from the polling station.

Loitering or waiting within 50 metres of the vicinity of a polling station is considered an election offence, as explained by this section of the Election Offences Act 1954:

Section 26(1) of the Election Offences Act 1954 – Limitation on polling day (in part): Any person who —

(e) within a distance of fifty metres from the limits of any polling station —

(iv) wait or loiter except for the purpose of gaining entry to the polling station to cast his vote…

This translates to say that while you are encouraged to come with your family members and friends to perform your duties as voters, all attempts to rendezvous with them after casting your vote should be made at least 50 metres away from a polling station.

Naturally, loitering around after voting isn’t a good idea either

4. Wearing items of clothing with your favourite party’s logo

PENALTY: Imprisonment of up to 1 year or a fine of up to RM5,000.00, if not both.

This law is one that may be particularly alien to many, but carries a severe penalty nonetheless if breached – which is why you should make it a point to be informed about it.

On the day of the GE, those who visit polling stations – or happen to be present within 50 metres of any polling station – should not do so while wearing items of clothing on which the name of a candidate or the name, emblem or symbol of any political party is printed or imprinted.

This includes almost all categories of clothing items and a range of accessories, as given by the following section of the Election Offences Act 1954:

Section 26(1) of the Election Offences Act 1954 – Limitation on polling day (in part):

No person shall on polling day —

(g) within a distance of fifty metres from the limits of any polling station and in a polling station wear, hold or carry any form or type of clothing, head covering, ornament, rosette, water bottle or umbrella on which the name of a candidate or the name, emblem or symbol of any political party is printed or imprinted.

A neutral approach to dressing is probably your best bet when visiting a polling station, as such. Plain clothing, with minimal or no prints is a safe choice, lest you wish to attract suspicion and possible trouble

5. Not giving your employees sufficient time to perform their duties as voters on polling day

PENALTY: Imprisonment of up to 1 year or a fine of up to RM5,000.00. Malaysian employers, here’s some food for thought. Have you been allocating – or are you planning to allocate – sufficient time for your employees to step away from the office and vote on the day of the GE?

Believe it or not, failure to do so is categorised as an offence against the law. Specifically speaking, it is a violation of the section of the Election Offences Act 1954 that is highlighted below:

Section 25(1) of the Election Offences Act 1954 – Employers to allow employees reasonable period for voting: Every employer shall, on polling day, allow to every elector in his employ a reasonable period for voting, and no employer shall make any deduction from the pay or other remuneration of any such elector or impose upon or exact from him any penalty by reason of his absence during such period.

Going against this directive may also be regarded as preventing your employee or a qualified voter from performing his duties, which the following section of the same act identifies as an illegality:

Section 3(1) of the Election Offences Act 1954 – Offences by any person (in part): Any person who — (n) obstructs or prevents a voter who is otherwise entitled to vote from voting at an election;

Yes, it is important to keep the engines of your businesses running – but it is also imperative that we avoid unnecessary costs while doing, especially in legal terms.

If something seems wrong, it probably is.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of things you shouldn’t do during voting season, but some measure of common sense can be used as well – such as not taking selfies or having heated political discussions with the person lining up behind you. – Herald Malaysia, 13 Apr 2018


Peninsular bishops clarify Mass offerings

From the Peninsular Bishops To Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful

In response to queries about the Holy Father’s comment that the Mass is free (“the Mass is not paid for, redemption is free. If you want to make an offering okay, but the Mass cannot be paid for”. General Audience, 7 March 2018), we would like to clarify that the practice of accepting mass offerings does not in any way contradict the above statement.

The Mass or the Eucharist represents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross (CCC 1366). In terms of the “price” for such sacrifice, it has already been paid by our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. In terms of us being the beneficiaries of that great sacrifice, it comes unmerited and without any further payment on our part. Thus, Pope Francis is right to highlight that the Mass, which is the sacrifice of Christ, has been and is always “free” in that we need not and cannot possibly make any additional ‘payment’ to that one eternal sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The Church cannot and will not impose any “entrance fee” for assisting at Mass.

The practice of Mass offerings, which is an ancient one that dates back to the early Church, does not constitute “paying” for the Mass. It is not a “fee” for the Mass, which is always free. According to Canon 945§ 1 of the Code of Canon Law, “any priest celebrating or concelebrating is permitted to receive an offering to apply the Mass for a specific intention”.

The purpose of Mass offerings stated in Canon Law (Canon 946) is: “The Christian faithful who give an offering to apply the Mass for their intention contribute to the good of the Church and by that offering share its concern to support its ministers and works.”

According to Blessed Pope Paul VI’s Motu Propio, Firma in traditione, the donors of Mass offerings “associate themselves more closely with Christ’s act of offering himself as victim and in so doing experience its effects more fully”.

The final and most important note is to remember that you are not paying for the graces from God (which are of infinite value and cannot be paid for). With that in mind it makes much more sense and is not something that should cause scandal.

Mass intentions are a great treasure of the Church and have a spiritual weight that is incalculable. For this reason, the bishops of Peninsular Malaysia would like to recommend to Catholics to continue this laudable practice, although we must constantly and judiciously be on guard against abuse.

Rt Rev Sebastian Francis, DD
Bishop of Penang

Most Rev Julian Leow, DD
Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur

Rt Rev Bernard Paul, DD
Bishop of Malacca-JohoreHerald Malaysia, 14 Apr 2018

SM Stella Maris celebrates 50 years of existence

Past and present principals and teachers pose with Msgr Primus Jouil (seated 4th from R) and Br Peter Foo (in white) after the Mass, 13 Apr 2018, Stella Maris Church Tg Aru.

TANJUNG ARU – SM Stella Maris here kicked off its golden jubilee commemoration with a Eucharistic Celebration at the Stella Maris Church on 13 Apr 2018.

The Mass was presided by Msgr Primus Jouil and attended by past and present principals, teachers, students, representatives from neighbouring SM La Salle, the religious sisters, and La Salle Brother Peter Foo.

Other commemorative activities include an 8 am – 4 pm Open Day Exhibition on the school premises Apr 14 featuring photographs and memorabilia charting five decades of education;  Jubilee souvenirs and DVDs on sale, a carnival bazaar; and a mini musical concert.

A jubilee dinner will be held on Apr 28 at the Hakka Hall Likas while a Charity Run will be organised on May 5.

Located in Tanjung Aru with an area of 1.78 acres, the secondary school was opened by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC) in January 1968 with three classrooms, a teacher room, an office and a toilet block.

The school for girls opened with 31 students up to Form 3 only due to lack of instructors and other physical facilities.  Those who passed Form 3 (Lower Certificate Examination) had to move to St Francis Convent to continue their studies.  However, in 1987 it was able to open classes for Forms 4 and 5.

Down the years the school developed by leaps and bounds.

A second two-storey block was built in 1986 to accommodate the increasing student population and in 1994 it went into a two-session school system: Forms 1 and 2 in the afternoon and Forms 3-5 in the morning.

In 1989 the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) was formed.  In the same year, the school magazine “The Guiding Star” was published under the supervision of PC Poh.

In 1991 the school parliament was formed under senior assistant Lee Wah Ban. It replaced the School Watchdog, a regulatory body formed in the 1970s under Margaret Chin.

The school website was launched in 1999 while the open hall was constructed in 2000.

Today the school has an enrolment of 790 students with 14 classrooms.  It is looking forward to the construction of a new school block with 24 classrooms so that the school will have a single session system.  The building committee is in the initial stage of preparing the development plan to be submitted to the local authorities.

“We hope to target the construction to begin in 2019 and completing in 2020 using the Industrized Building System (IBS),” said PTA President Zahara Ismail at the launching of the jubilee celebration on 13 Jan 2018.

Themed “Glorious Golden Years,” the launch was organised jointly by the Stella Maris Alumni and PTA.

Alumni president Irene George Mojinggol urged all ex-students to do their part and to pledge to the building of the new school block.

“Let us work towards a school that is completely and fully equipped with high technology and quality amenities, to maintain the school’s remarkable achievements since  its establishment, and to  strengthen its competitiveness to become successful leaders in the country,” said Mojinggol.

Among those who served as principals were Franciscan Sister Stella Chin (1968-1971, 1979-1981), Sister Aquinas Voon (1971-1978), Sister Alphonsus Low (1981-1988), Pauline Wong Mee Kiong (1989-1994),  Grace Gan Lee Ping (1994 – 2005), Clare Sikodol (2006-2009), Girly Tan (2010-2014), and Gertrude Jock (2014-2016).

The current principal is Goh Kui Liang (2017), the first male principal in the girls’ school.

Papal commission asks Francis for synod on women’s role in the Church

Credit: Bohumil Petrik, CNA

VATICAN CITY – The Pontifical Commission for Latin America has proposed that Pope Francis convoke a synod on the role of women in the life and mission of the Church.

The proposal is contained in a 15-paragraph statement approved by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America’s plenary assembly one month ago, and published on 11 April 2018 in L’Osservatore Romano.

The Pontifical Commission for Latin America stressed that the Catholic Church “must be freed from prejudices, stereotypes and discriminations” women are subjected to, and for this reason a “pastoral conversion” is needed in order to ask women’s forgiveness “for all the situations” in which Christian communities “have been and are accomplices of attempt against women’s dignity.”

The document also challenged local dioceses to be courageous, and to “denounce all the forms of discrimination and oppression, of violence and exploitation” to which women have been subjected.

The commission warned against “cultural and ideological colonisation” spread from “well organised lobbies” sometimes “instrumentalising feminist claims” in order to argue against the truth of marriage and family.

The Pontifical Commission of Latin America asked the Church to “multiply and widen the places and the opportunities of women’s cooperation to pastoral structure” in parishes, dioceses, episcopal conferences and in Roman Curia.

It is – according to the document – “a needed and urgent opening,” that requires “an investment in the Christian, theological and professional formation” of women – whether they are religious sisters or members of the laity – so that they can “work at the same level with men.”

The statement promoted an education tackling “male chauvinist resistance, frequent paternal and familiar absence, and irresponsibility in sexual behaviour.”

It also promoted research on those issue in Catholic universities, as “the era of feminism might be a good liberating occasion,” that might “claim the full respect of women’s dignity and at the same time a responsible paternity” committed to “raising children, at the mother’s side.”

The statement said that the modern era requires “a change of mentality and a process of transformation” similar to that which Pope Francis “made concrete” with the two synods on the family “that led to the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia,” to be followed by the upcoming bishops’ synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment, to be held in October.

The plenary assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America was held March 6-9. The theme, chosen by Pope Francis, was “The woman: a pillar in the edification of the Church and society in Latin America.”

Exceptionally, the plenary assembly included some women, unusual because all members and consultors of the commission are cardinals and bishops. Topics of discussion during the assembly were the promotion of the woman in Latin America, the presence of the Virgin and the role of women in evangelising Latin American people, and also the woman as “pillar of the family,” and the role of women in catechesis, society, politics.

It is expected that the role of women will be discussed at a Special Synod for the Panamazonic Region in 2019, and at the October 2018 synod on young adults and vocations. It is possible that the next Ordinary Synod Bishops, scheduled for 2021, could also be dedicated to a discussion on women.

Pope Francis has often spoken about the importance of the role of the woman in society, and in 2016 he set up a commission to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons.

Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,  was appointed president of a commission composed of 12 members, 6 men and 6 women. The members are:  Msgr Piero Coda; Sr Nuria Calduch-Benages; Francesca Cocchini; Fr Robert Dodaro; Fr Santiago Madrigal Terrazas; Sr Mary Malone; Fr Karl-Heinz Menke; Fr Amailble Musoni; Fr Bernard Pottier; Marianne Schlosser; Michelina Tenace; Phyllis Zagano.

According to sources, the commission is drafting its final report, expected to be presented to the pope within this year.

The issue of women deacons had been discussed in the recent past. A 2002 report issued by the International Theological Commission, titled “From Diakonia of Christ to the Diakonia of the Apostles,” dedicated a whole chapter to the role of women deacons in the ancient Church.

With regard to the ordination of women to the diaconate, the documents stressed that “deaconesses” of the tradition of the ancient Church cannot be considered the same as ordained deacons. In addition, the document underscored that both the ecclesial tradition and the magisterium consider diaconal ministry an element of holy orders.

Based on those two points, the document suggested that women could not be ordained to diaconate.

Though he was aware of the work done in the past, Pope Francis wanted to appoint a new commission, in order to clear out any possible doubt and to have a final word on that. – Andrea Gagliarducci, CNA, 11 Apr 2018

Seven spiritual mistakes of ‘good Catholic parents’

A few weeks ago I wrote that the greater part of what is wrong with young people today is parents(see A Church of kids: Will the Synod on Youth get it backwards?). I also touched briefly on some key elements of sound Catholic parenting, particularly in education. But it would be wrong to give the impression that I know how to raise your children.

Prayerful, engaged parents understand their children better than anybody else does, except God. Moreover, each child is different. With children, while parents must be fair, one size does not fit all, and it never will. Neither the State nor the day care system nor the schools (nor even yours truly) can raise your children nearly as well as you can—if only you will avoid the very first spiritual mistake listed below. But check yourself against the other six mistakes as well. My purpose here is to help you avoid what I see as the seven biggest spiritual pitfalls for those who try hard to be good Catholic parents.

1. Failure to pray: The very first principle of good parenting is that parents are flawed creatures who, even with the best of intentions, make significant and even serious mistakes. Yet you would be amazed at how many Catholics do not recognize the inescapable corollary: Parents must pray daily both for their children and for themselves: To understand their children rightly, to raise them well, and to secure Divine protection. You and your children have guardian angels, too, so call them to account! The point is that grace is available for parents as parents and for children as children. Fostering the reception of grace in your whole family must be even more constant than your natural human love.

2. Over-engagement: Call it an emphasis on doing over being, or a lopsided preference for the active over the contemplative life: We live in a hyperactive and hyper-distracted culture. One symptom of this is constant overwork in our paying jobs, but it can also manifest itself in chronic over-engagement. For “good Catholics”, this often includes justifying too much time taken from family life for apostolic work. But even apostolate does not trump vocation. Over-engagement communicates to children that the culture of the family must take second or third or fourth place. A lack of presence of parents to their children, when it is not absolutely demanded by the survival of the family itself, teaches that the loving formation of children is not the high priority parents claim it to be.

3. Transcendental restriction: Consider the three transcendentals—truth, goodness, and beauty. Interest in and attraction to these transcendentals mark three different paths to God, and each person is more attuned to one of these paths than the others. In many counter-cultural Catholic families today, parents find themselves in conflict with a world which rejects nearly every specific teaching of the Church. In consequence, it is not uncommon for them to emphasize doctrine, doctrine and more doctrine. But these same parents are likely to have children who (whether generally or at certain stages) are far more attracted to saints than to catechists, or far more attracted to the beauty of God as manifested in nature and art than in the mastery of moral principles. Parental attention and approval must recognize and encourage all of the transcendentals, that is, all of these ways to God.

4. Spiritual smothering: When I was growing up, I knew neighborhood kids with over-protective parents who would never permit anything that involved even the slightest risk. The same problem can occur spiritually, especially in the midst of a culture hostile to faith and morals. But children who are too isolated from the larger culture, with all its benefits and all its dangers, can be easily overwhelmed when finally released into the world. Kids are not best served by what we might call the formation of theoretical virtues in the complete absence of temptation. Just as children need physical exercise, they need moral exercise. This requires judicious exposure to the life they will one day be called to live as mature Christians in the world. The same applies to a form of spiritual smothering which prevents children from awakening to all the gifts of God which manifest themselves outside the realm of specifically “Catholic” and “spiritual” activities.

5. Hypercriticism: It is hard to remain upbeat when living in a culture hostile to nearly everything we believe, and in a Church which too closely mirrors that culture. The Devil launches a gigantic wave of temptations against serious Catholics to be annoyed by every failing and to comment instantly on what is wrong (including in our kids). One of my adult children mentioned that he was so used to hearing me criticize bishops that it took him a long time to enter into a proper relationship with the Catholic hierarchy. (Happily, I have another adult child who remembers that, after Mass one day, when the kids were commenting negatively on how the liturgy had been done, I pointed out that not one of us is worthy of even the most poorly said Mass.) Parents who constantly criticize everything, including their children and their children’s friends, cannot be surprised if their children run for cover as adults.

6. Confusion between tradition and Tradition: Readers of tend to accept everything the Church teaches and try to live accordingly. While many of their neighbors confuse cultural platitudes with the Faith, our readers are more likely to confuse Catholic traditions with Catholic Tradition. For example, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven is part of Tradition (and therefore revealed), but the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is not. The unique particulars of this rite and even the use of Latin itself are simply human Catholic traditions. This does not mean it is wrong to have a preference for them—only that they are preferences. Parents who treat any human traditions as if they are Tradition run the risk of alienating their children from the Church when they realize that something inculcated as a matter of Faith is not Divinely ordained.

7. Emotional piety: The cases encompassed by item 6 are often occasioned by unrecognized emotional attachments. Just as our approach to the Faith can be too narrowly focused on behaviors or doctrines as if they exhaust the Divine mystery (see item 3), so too can our piety be too rooted in human emotion. While this can affect us in all kinds of ways, a classic example is found in the charismatic experience, which tends to be emotionally stimulating, and can lead to a confusion between feelings and the action of the Holy Spirit. Parents run a risk when the experience of the Faith they offer their children is predominately emotional. Unlike reverence and the principles of faith and morals, emotions cannot be inculcated. No matter what the context, if emotions are at the core of religious commitment, children who do not experience these emotions will drift away as they mature.

This list will do little good for the majority of those who claim the Catholic name. Better indeed that they should fall into a few of these excesses than continue to be lukewarm, proud of being in step with the larger culture, refusing to make the sacrifices to give their children a truly Catholic education, and failing to recognize that Catholicism must effect that revolution in all their affections which we call conversion. Such parents may well see these pitfalls as warnings against the very effort to acquire what St. Francis de Sales would call true devotion.

No, this is for those who are self-consciously committed to raising children to be lifelong Catholics. I have tried to outline seven dangers frequently experienced by parents who take their Catholicism very seriously. For, serious as we may be, we are all still very much “on the way”. We may be committed souls and committed parents, but we are as weak and fallible and sinful as anyone else who has received the treasure of the Faith with far too little gratitude.

Still, much has been given to us in our children, and so much is expected of us. Therefore, we may not fully trust our fallen nature. As parents we must be trained and corrected through constant prayer, by the Church and by Christ Himself. And of course even after our children are grown—and even if they fall away—our prayers must never cease, nor our confidence that Christ and His Church will bring them safely home. – Jeff Mrius, Catholic Culture, 10 Apr 2018

SHC holds follow-up parish assembly

A section of the delegates present at the second Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish Assembly, 9 Apr 2018, Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing.

KOTA KINABALU – Around 131 representatives from Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish and subparish of Church of Mary Immaculate turned up for the follow-up parish assembly at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre here on 9 Apr 2018.

At this gathering, Dr Jeffrey Soon, coordinating chairman of the parish PAX committee, presented to the delegates the summary of the reports they had gathered from all the groups/ministries/communities existing in the parish since the first gathering on March 13.

Prior to that, Soon also gave a brief overview of how the three parish priorities – issues on family life, faith formation and reaching out to nominal parishioners – came about and how they are related to the three challenges of apathy, secularisation and islamisation as well as the archdiocesan pastoral thrust of “going inward, going smaller, and going outwards” highlighted by PAX Assembly 2015.

In his turn, Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) chairman Jason Joenoi gave the overview from the PPC, highlighting the efforts to meet the needs of the parish, and calling on the groups to work together for the common good.

One of the issues highlighted during the Q&A session is the need to help the newly baptised to grow in their faith development which calls for the involvement of all the parish groups and communities.

The two assemblies were held in preparation for the archdiocesanwide Pre-PAX Assembly on May 1 at the SHPC.

Artificial contraception and abortion have damaged society, conference hears

An anti-abortion activist holds a model of a fetus during a protest outside of the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on 7 May 2015. Protesters are demanding Republican lawmakers approve a bill banning all abortions after 20 weeks.  (Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON DC – Medical and legal experts addressing the damaging effects of artificial contraception and abortion on health care, law and society as a whole urged hundreds of attendees at a symposium to evangelise and transform the culture through the Catholic Church’s profound encyclical reaffirming the sanctity of marriage and human life.

The speakers were talking about Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”) and they made the comments at an April 4-6, 2018 symposium marking the 50th anniversary of the document.

The gathering was titled “Embracing God’s Vision for Marriage, Love and Life” and hosted by The Catholic University of America.

Among the speakers was Helen Alvare, a professor of law at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. She spoke on April 6 as part of a panel on “The Prophecies of ‘Humanae Vitae’ — A Panel on Health and Love: The Distortions Introduced Into Healthcare, the Marital Relationship and Law by the Contraceptive Mentality.”

Alvare addressed the historical roots of making birth control and abortion a constitutional right in the United States and what she described as a devastating decline of legal safeguards for women and children that has resulted.

State laws existed in this country banning unwed cohabitation, pornography, birth control and abortion, but throughout the 1950s and 1960s, those laws began to be wiped away, Alvare said. The purpose of these laws was to protect children so they would be raised with a married mother and father.

“Poor women and poor children have suffered the most since contraception,” she said. “(Society’s message is) sexual expression without marriage is freedom.”

In erasing those laws, the courts soon found a “right to privacy,” which now in the opinion of many people supersedes all other rights, she said.

As a result, “being without children is (believed to be) women’s highest goal. … The courts have made women’s chief freedom the right to be alone with their contraceptives and abortion clinics,” Alvare warned.

In another session, Elizabeth Kirk, a scholar who writes and speaks on matters of family law and religious freedom, spoke about the document’s teaching on infertility and the hope that it can bring to couples like Kirk and her husband, who have struggled with infertility throughout their marriage.

The heart of “Humanae Vitae” affirms that the unitive and procreative meanings of conjugal love are inseparable, said Kirk. It specifically notes that all couples are called to live fully fruitful lives, even if they are infertile, she added.

“The beauty of ‘Humanae Vitae’ is that it tells infertile couples that conjugal love expressed fully and faithfully always carries both meanings,” even if it does not result in biological children, said Kirk, who noted that the teaching “brings great comfort and consolation to infertile couples,” who can discern other ways that God is calling their particular marriage to bear fruit, such as through adoption.

“Infertility is just one example of how our human suffering can bear spiritual fruit,” she said.

The Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage, abortion, human sexuality and contraception is rooted in the same respect for human dignity that guides its work for social justice and care for poor people, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said in his keynote address opening the symposium on April 4.

It is imperative that the church make known why it upholds its teaching, as reiterated in “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”), so that Catholics and the world understand God’s plan for humanity, said the archbishop, who chairs the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. – CNS, 10 Apr 2018

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