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Kuala Lumpur – Most Reverend Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur and members of the Archdiocesan Finance Committee presented a cheque amounting to RM1, 148,386.10 for Tabung Harapan to YB Lim Guan Eng, Minister of Finance at Putrajaya on 21st September 2018. His Grace presented the cheque on behalf of the Catholic Church in Malaysia. The money was raised during a weekend collection in most of the churches throughout Malaysia.
– Archbishop Charles Chaput offered Friday on First Things a critique by a theologian of the working document for the upcoming Synod on Youth, which highlights five principal theological difficulties in the document.
The synod will be held Oct. 3-28 at the Vatican. Archbishop Chaput is one of five representatives who were chosen by the US bishops’ conference to attend the meeting.
In addition, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark; though Tobin has elected not to attend, citing pastoral obligations in his local Church amid the sexual abuse crisis.
The Archbishop of Philadelphia wrote Sept. 21 that in recent months he has “received scores of emails and letters from laypeople, clergy, theologians, and other scholars, young and old, with their thoughts regarding the October synod of bishops in Rome focused on young people.”
“Nearly all” of those “note the importance of the subject matter”, “praise the synod’s intent”, and “raise concerns of one sort or another about the synod’s timing and possible content,” he wrote.
Archbishop Chaput shared the text of a critique of the instrumentum laboris, which he received “from a respected North American theologian.”
He noted it “is one person’s analysis; others may disagree. But it is substantive enough to warrant much wider consideration and discussion as bishop-delegates prepare to engage the synod’s theme.”
The theologian identified five principal problems with the text of the instrumentum laboris for the youth synod: naturalism, an inadequate grasp of the Church’s spiritual authority, a partial theological anthropology, a relativistic conception of vocation, and an impoverished understanding of Christian joy.
The author said the document “displays a pervasive focus on socio-cultural elements, to the exclusion of deeper religious and moral issues,” and expresses a desire to examine reality through the faith and experience of the Church, while “regrettably fail[ing] to do so.”
Four examples of this naturalism are given. One of them is the discussion in section 144, where “there is much discussion about what young people want; little about how these wants must be transformed by grace in a life that conforms to God’s will for their lives.”
“After pages of analysis of their material conditions, the IL offers no guidance on how these material concerns might be elevated and oriented toward their supernatural end … the majority of the document painstakingly catalogues the varied socio-economic and cultural realities of young adults while offering no meaningful reflection on spiritual, existential, or moral concerns. The reader may easily conclude that the latter are of no importance to the Church,” the theologian wrote.
The theologian next discussed the document’s “inadequate grasp of the Church’s spiritual authority,” saying that “the entire document is premised on the belief that the principal role of the magisterial Church is ‘listening.’”
By its emphasis on listening and dialogue, the instrumentum laboris suggests that “the Church does not possess the truth but must take its place alongside other voices,” the author wrote. “Those who have held the role of teacher and preacher in the Church must replace their authority with dialogue.”
This misunderstanding of the Church’s teaching authority results in a “conflation of the baptismal and sacramental priesthood”, the theologian wrote, and it also “presents a pastoral problem”: “the Church as mother and teacher cannot through negligence or cowardice forfeit this necessary role of setting limits and directing (Cf. §178). In this regard §171, which points to the motherhood of the Church, does not go far enough. It offers only a listening and accompanying role while eliminating that of teaching.”
Third, the theologian discussed the “partial theological anthropology” of the instrumentum laboris, which they said “fails to make any mention of the will” in its discussion of the human person.
“It is the will that is fundamentally directed toward the good,” the author notes. “The theological consequence of this glaring omission is extraordinarily important, since the seat of the moral life resides in the will and not in the vicissitudes of the affect.”
Then is discussed the “relativistic conception of vocation” in the document, which gives the impression “that vocation concerns the individual’s search for private meaning and truth.”
An example of this problem is section 139, which “gives the impression that the Church cannot propose the (singular) truth to people and that they must decide for themselves. The role of the Church consists only in accompaniment. This false humility risks diminishing the legitimate contributions that the Church can and ought to make.”
The last principal difficulty of the instrumentum laboris is its impoverished understanding of Christian joy, according to the theologian.
Spirituality and the moral life “are reduced to the affective dimension, clearest in §130, evidenced by a sentimentalist conception of ‘joy.’”
According to the theologian, the document presents joy as “a purely affective state, a happy emotion … Despite its constant reference to ‘joy,’ nowhere does the IL describe it as the fruit of the theological virtue of charity. Nor is charity characterized as the proper ordering of love, putting God first and then ordering all other loves with reference to God.”
Consequent upon this understanding of joy is a lack of “any theology of the Cross” in the instrumentum laboris.
“Christian joy is not antithetical to suffering, which is a necessary component of a cruciform life,” the theologian writes. “The document gives the impression that the true Christian will be ‘happy’ at all times, in the colloquial sense. It further implies the error that the spiritual life itself will always result in felt (affective) joy.”
“The pastoral problem that results from this comes to the fore most clearly in §137: Is it the role of the Church to make youth “feel loved by him [God]” or to aid them in knowing they are loved regardless of how they might feel?”
The theologian added that there are other serious theological concerns in the document, noting, “a false understanding of the conscience and its role in the moral life; a false dichotomy proposed between truth and freedom; false equivalence between dialogue with LGBT youth and ecumenical dialogue; and an insufficient treatment of the abuse scandal.”- CNA/EWTN News
Kaunas – Pope Francis met with priests, men and women religious and seminarians in Kaunas Cathedral.
In his address, he said that priests and consecrated people must be close to the Lord, worship before the tabernacle and in prayer, and be close to the people, so that they are not full of “sadness” nor become “bureaucrats” or “clerics of the state”. He urged nuns to avoid chatting but be instead like “icons of Mother Church and Mother Mary”.
He urged all to have “hearts of mercy”, in Lithuania of all places because it is a “land where Jesus revealed himself as a merciful Jesus”, where St Faustina Kowalska, initiator of the devotion to the merciful Jesus, lived for a long time.
The pontiff read almost all of his prepared speech, stressing the importance of “groaning” and the “daily dialogue with the Lord through prayer and adoration” along with the “groaning” that can “come from our contemplation of the world around us”.
“Perhaps,” he noted, “our ‘prosperous society’ keeps us sated, surrounded by services and material objects; we end up ‘stuffed’ with everything and filled by nothing. Perhaps it keeps us distracted and entertained, but not fulfilled. As men and women of special consecration, we can never afford to lose that inward groaning, that restlessness of heart that finds its rest in the Lord alone.”
The pope urged older priests, who have experienced persecution, and young priests, seemingly weaker, to communicate with each other to become more mature in “constancy”.
“And you, the young, when you meet with little frustrations that can discourage you and make you want to turn in on yourselves, seeking activities and pastimes at odds with your consecration, go back to your roots and consider the path taken by your elders.”
Then, speaking without notes through simultaneous translation, he said: “I see there are young people here”. After repeating the previous sentence, he added: “I repeat [and he said the previous sentence again] . . . It is better that you take another path than live in mediocrity. This is for young people. You still have time and the door is open.”
Still speaking impromptu, Francis spoke of “sad priests and consecrated persons”, suffering from an “illness” because “they are not in love with the Lord”.
“When you find yourself sad, stop and look for a wise priest or a wise nun. Not wise because they graduated from a university. Wise because they were able to move forward in love. Go and ask for their advice. When this sadness begins, we can foretell that, if it has not healed in time, it will turn you into hardened bachelors and spinsters, men and women who are not fruitful. The devil sows this sadness.”
The pope urged those present not to live like “bureaucrats” or “businessmen”. “Following Jesus is not the life of a bureaucrat: it is the life of the Lord’s love and of the apostolic zeal of people. Here’s a caricature for you. What does a bureaucratic priest do? He has a schedule, opens the office, does the job, closes the office, and people are on the outside, staying away.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, if you do not want to be bureaucrats, I will tell you a word [to heed]: closeness, proximity, closeness to the tabernacle, to your lord, and proximity to the people. But Father, people are not coming! Go out and meet them! But kids do not come nowadays! So, come up with something to help them. The Lord wants you as shepherds of the people and not as clerics of the state.”
Francis asked the priests to be a sign of the merciful Jesus, especially in the confessional.
Turning to the nuns, he said: “Many times we see good nuns, chatting, chatting. But ask that last one [one of the consecrated victims of communist persecution] if she had time to chat in prison. Please be mothers because you are icons of the Church and of Our Lady. Every person who sees you, sees Mother Church and Mother Mary. And Mother Church is not a spinster. Mother Church does not chat: she loves, serves, grows.”
Almost to sum up what he said, the Holy Father ended stressing “Closeness to the tabernacle and to prayer and with others. [Do your] Priestly service and consecrated life, not as bureaucrats, but as fathers and mothers of mercy. If you do so, when you will be old, you will have a beautiful smile and bright eyes, because you will have the soul of mercy, tenderness, love, fatherhood and motherhood. And pray for this poor bishop.”- AsiaNews/Vatican News
A section of the over 200 participants in the Women’s Conference
KOTA KINABALU – The Couples for Christ (CFC) – Handmaids of the Lord (HOLD) organized the 9th HOLD echo Women’s Conference at Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish Centre on 16 September 2018.
An echo conference is a yearly initiative organized by the local CFC HOLD members who had attended the HOLD Icons (International Conferences) in the Philippines. The main objective is to share the same inputs they received in the conference, adapting it to the local context, making it beneficial to all the CFC Sabah Chapter who could not make it to the Icon. The CFC-HOLD have been organizing this echo conference since 2010, inviting participation not only among the members of CFC Sabah Chapter but also extending the invitation to other women in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu.
The conference room was packed with more than 200 participants mostly from CFC-Hold members and CFC support groups and other interested individuals. It started with the recitation of the rosary at 7:00am, followed by Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Paul Loh, the CFC Spiritual advisor. The conference proper started at 9:30am, intertwining all the talks with life testimonies given by some selected HOLD members as well as creative presentations making the message more appealing and easily understood.
The theme for this year, on Fiery Wings, aimed to create enthusiasm to discover, through the talks, what it really means. The Conference was divided into five sessions, each facilitated by a different speaker. Interestingly, all the speakers quoted from the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy to support their points.
The first session, entitled The Gift, was presented by Rosa Java. She highlighted the precious gift of the Holy Spirit given to each baptized Catholic during baptism and confirmation. She challenged the participants to reflect on whether the gift and the power of the Holy Spirit is being put to good use in their lives and ministries. Unfamiliarity with the gift of the Spirit, ignorant of His power to change and transform individuals to the image and likeness of God, selfishness, keeping the gift to oneself, failing to use the gift for the common good, and inconsistency in their spiritual growth are some of the reasons why the power of the Holy Spirit is not unleashed in the lives of Christians. In 2 Tim 1:6, which the speaker quoted, Paul exhorted the young Timothy to rekindle the “gift that is within.” This is also the call for all, rekindling the gift and keeping it aflame will allow the Lord to accomplish His work and purpose that He has entrusted to each one.
The second session on The Solemn Charge was presented by Karen Sigawal. In 2 Tim 4:1-2a, Paul gave Timothy the solemn charge, an obligation, to proclaim the Word and made it clear that it was a responsibility to be taken seriously. Likewise, the speaker in her talk reminded the participants about the challenge as women and how they should respond to this solemn charge. She quoted Pope Paul VI who said there is much urgency for women to be proclaimers of the Gospel in every situation and circumstances, in the various roles they play in society: as students, teachers, mothers, healers and leaders. In fulfilling the solemn charge the speaker exhorted the participants to imitate the five wise virgins who always had their oil lamps filled and lit, always ready to seize every opportunity to answer the call for mission.
In the third session Wendy Chin talked about the Daunting Task of being proclaimers of the Word and the undaunted Spirit each one must possess in order to be able to pursue the mission. In 2 Tim 4:2b, Paul gave Timothy a solemn charge to proclaim the Word and fulfil his obligation to be persistent, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, to convince, reprimand and encourage all through practice and teaching. She said that the work of an evangelizer is never easy. It requires passion, dedication, total commitment to make Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation known and embraced. A challenging mission indeed that makes one shrink in fear and trembling with anxiety at times, but there is nothing to be afraid of because the Holy Spirit will enabled us to do the impossible.
In the fourth session, The Time Has Come, the presenter Maribel Oferina Chu also based her talk on the second letter of Paul to Timothy 4: 3-5, where St. Paul warned Timothy of the challenges that he could face in proclaiming the Good News. The speaker exhorted the members to do reality check on the various challenges that the present day evangelizers are facing too. “People will not tolerate sound doctrine …”, the speaker mentioned how many people have transgressed the 10 commandments, how modernization has allowed for same sex attraction or union, propagation of the LGBT lifestyle, in vitro fertilization, immodesty in dressing and in conduct. In all these challenges, St. Paul reminds us that in order to surmount the modern day challenges, it is important to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to be self-possessed under all circumstances, to put up with hardship and enable us to perform the work of evangelists.
In the last session, Anne Labadin presented the topic on Fiery Wings. She described in detail who the Holy Spirit is: the giver of life, the Spirit of Love, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Unity, the Witness, the Paraclate and how the third Person of the Trinity has powerfully changed Christian lives. Anne pointed out the many instances in Scripture where the Holy Spirit manifested His presence, His glory and his power through fire. She said, “We have been baptized with the same fire of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 3:11) However, because of personal problems, problems in community, unfaithfulness to God, or becoming victims of lies, gossip and the like, the fiery presence of the Holy Spirit has been quenched, diminishing the ardour of faith. In order not to lose the gift of the Holy Spirit in oneself, the speaker reminded the participants of the duties they need to do: Immersing oneself in prayer, meditation on God’s Word, attending the Sacraments, the Eucharist, Confession, devotion to Mother Mary and the saints, faithfulness in attending household teaching, and following the example of St. Paul in bearing the marks of Jesus on his body (cf. Gal 6:17). We are also reminded to help others to rekindle the fire of the Holy Spirit by reaching out to them through prayer and encouragement and accompanying them in what they are going through.
The conference ended at 5:00pm with a Praise Fest, making the participants leaving the conference hall spirit filled with uplifting messages from the sessions, ready to soar high with the fiery wings of the Holy Spirit to carry out their mission. – kkdiocese.net