Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady (Assumption)
On 27 January, two molotov cocktails (fire-bombs) were thrown into the grounds of the Church of the Assumption, landing in front of the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. One exploded and the other did not. However, in no way, was the shrine damaged at all.
Seeing this as a miracle, as nothing happened to the shrine, nor the church, Fr Dominic Santhiyagu, decided to celebrate a Mass right in front of the shrine, to glorify the Lord God Almighty and as thanksgiving to Our Lady for the protection.
Fr Dominic is the parish priest of City Parish Penang (where Assumption church is). He celebrated the Mass on 4 February, which sees near 100 people present. The co-celebrants were Fr Christopher Lim (local priest who is serving in Australia) and Fr Jerry Rosario, a visiting priest from India.
Also present to record the Mass and interview people, was Al-Jazeera TV.
The readings for the Mass was taken from the memorial of St Sebastian, martyr. Fr Dominic said that a martyr died for his faith in the face of persecution. When his blood is spilled, this comes as an effective way of preaching, as the blood of a martyr is the seed of the church.
“In the first reading (1 Peter 3:14-17), St Peter assured us that if we have to suffer for our faith, we have nothing to fear or worry about, as it is the will of God that we suffer for being right and doing right.” said Fr Dominic. “Thus, let us not worry about all these tension that is going on in our Catholic church. St Peter also reminds us that we must bless and pray for our persecutors. As we pray for our family and friends, we must also pray for our enemies or persecutors. You have heard Jesus said love your enemies. Let us not condemn those who put up the Allah banner or those who threw the fire-bombs here. Let us instead pray for them.
He reiterate that in the gospel (Mat 10:28-33) too, we are reminded not to be afraid of those who kill our body but not our soul. As long as we declare Jesus Christ openly and publicly, Jesus will then declare us in the presence of His Father in heaven.
Fr Dominic commented that after the fire-bomb incident happened, there was a fear that people might be fearful to attend Mass at the shrine but then seeing many parishioners present on the open field in front of the shrine is a testimony that there is no fear at all.
He continued, “In the Pope’s encyclical The Joy of the Gospel, no. 255, he stated about respect for religious freedom and that everyone has a right to profess their faith. Today, on this very ground that they threw the fire-bombs, we now gather to pray to Our Lady of Fatima, for guidance and protection for our country.”
The Mass ended with the meaningful hymn ‘Dear Lady of Fatima” and fellowship.
Note: Penang’s Chief Minister, YAB Lim Guan Eng, together with his exco members had visited the Church on 27 January to express his solidarity to Fr Dominic. Then on 2 February, he attended the 10.00am Mass at the Assumption Church.
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