Youth and parents – focus of Feast-day celebration
Youth and parents, being part of the family, were not forgotten during the feast-day celebration of the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Penang. Neither were the sick, as the Triduum Mass focused on these three. There were Rosary prayers first before the Masses began on all the four days.
On the first day of the Triduum, 15 Sept, the Mass focusing on the youth, was celebrated by parish priest, Fr Dominic Santhiyagu in English and Tamil. The Mass was coordinated by the Tamil Apostolate.
In Fr Dominic’s homily, he brought to our awareness how sorrowful Mary was to see his son, Jesus, being tortured, nailed to the cross and died in her arms. He linked this to the sorrows of our own mothers, not only in losing a child but in her life of raising us up. He asked us to always remember our own mother when we talk about Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Fr Dominic then proceeded to list out the seven sorrows of Mary and informed that out of these seven sorrows, four points stand out that we can learn from the Feast: 1) Mary believe in the Word of God, 2) Mary never lose faith, 3) Mary remain with Jesus throughout the journey and 4) Mary was hopeful.
“So, from these, we must learn from Mary that we should be a witness to our faith” said Fr Dominic, “Take time to reflect on the lives of Jesus. Whenever you face any sorrows – be it illness, disasters, hurts, lack of love, do not forget to pray… and hope. Do not lose hope of feel disappointed over any sorrows. As we come together here today, on the actual feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, let us pray for the grace that we become a people of hope. After life, there’s resurrection, meaning, there is always hope around.”
Fr Julian Leow, from the College General was the main celebrant for the Mass on the second day, which focused on the sick. This Mass was coordinated by the Chinese Apostolate and in both English and Mandarin. Co-celebrating with Fr Julian, were parish priest Fr Dominic Santhiyagu and assistant parish priest, Fr Michael Thoo.
“Do you believe that Jesus Christ is our Saviour, who has risen from the dead?” asked Fr Julian when he began his homily. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, we would be a pitiful people, wasting our time, coming to Mass every week. The resurrection is very real.”
“Do you know that the faith we inherited 2000 years ago, did not come easy? Many people had died for their faith or gone through lots of hardship. They were willing to stand up for Christ. How many of you today, will be willing to stand up for Christ? To stand up for the marginalized and oppressed? To fight for justice? How many of you attended the Bersih rally? The Anti-ISA protest? Or stand up for a migrant’s rights?” he continued.
Congregation were pleasantly surprised when he said that the Catholic Church is the one and only true Church. There are hundreds of churches (denominations) out there but surely there can’t be hundreds of Jesus Christ. There is only one Christ and one truth from the Catholic, apostolic church, handed down from St Peter, right to the Popes, until presently to Pope Benedict 16. He said that we Catholic are fortunate that we can trace our roots back to St Peter, as no other Churches goes back 2000 years ago.
“The first reading reminds us that we are followers of Christ because we believe in the resurrection of Christ.” said Fr Julian. “All the teachings and doctrines of the Church, we accept as truth. As followers, we must be convince of our faith and imitate Mary who was faithful to Jesus, who stood by the foot of his cross, and not ran away, like the apostles.
“Jesus brought us here today, as his disciples. The Catholic church consists of people of different race, different background, different status, different political parties – we are all united as Jesus’ disciples, under the roof of the Catholic Church. This is the reason the government is fearful of us. Are you convince you are in the right Church? Are you convince you are followers of the truth?”
Fr Julian reminded us that as we celebrate our faith, let us not forget those who are sick. He said that it is our responsibility to pray for the sick and to bring about healing and justice.
Finally, he said that as Christ-centred community, we should all bring about changes for the betterment of our society and ourselves. “Let us serve selflessly, not because of money or greed but because we see Jesus in those we serves. Let us pray for this grace, that we will always be faithful and allow Jesus to guide us in our daily lives.”
After the homily, there was a blessing and anointing of the sick ceremony.
Fr Julian was the main celebrant again on Day 3 (17 Sept), which focus on parents. Co-celebrating were Fr Dominic, parish priest and Fr Cyril from KL.
The Gospel that day was based on the Sunday’s Gospel (Mt 20:1-16), with a parable from Jesus about the vineyard land owner treating all his vineyards workers equally.
Fr Julian said that it is natural for us to choose who we like or don’t like, to associate with, or who we love more. Sometimes, he said, we even wonder if God loves others more than us.
“Do you ever think to yourself, that God might love you less because you are not a priest?” asked Fr. Julian, “Do you wonder that sometimes God treated you unjustly? No, that’s wrong. Today’s reading clearly tells us that God loves us all the same. He has no favourism, he gives the same blessing and grace to all of us, no matter who we are.”
Treating others as equal and respecting others who are different from us, like the migrants or refugees and those who are difficult to us, like our aging parents, is something we must emulate from God, Fr Julian told the congregation. He then urged the congregation to pray that they may somehow or other raise themselves to God’s level of perception – to accept and tolerate everyone.
The feast-day celebration on Sunday, 18 Sept, sees three priests from out of Penang con-celebrating with Fr. Julian. They were Fr Cyril from KL, Fr Rayan Inna Muthu from JB and Fr James Rajendran, also from JB. The Eucharistic Celebration, which was in four languages, focus on the family.
In his sermon, Fr Julian summarised the Triduum Masses and the actual feast day celebration. He reiterated the role of Mary as the Mother of Jesus Christ, her stoic and faithful journey at the side of Jesus through his childhood to his adulthood and his passion.
He stated that we are all born into families and as families, we need to pray together, to live harmoniously in the peace of Christ, and from the family unit, radiate out to continue to live harmoniously in the peace of Christ within our communities and in turn, in our nations.
Fr Julian also advised that as parents, mothers and fathers should emulate the example of our Lady to stand faithfully at the foot of the cross of our Lord, teaching our children the value of our faith and to trust in God, who loves us so much.
– by Lucia Lai
(This appeared in Herald of 16 Oct. 2011)