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Give Rest for Your Souls

15. July, 2017NewsComments Off on Give Rest for Your Souls

This was the message given by Rt Rev Bishop Sebastian Francis to the 23 confirmation candidates at the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) Penang at the morning mass on the 9th July. In his homily, Bishop explained that in the first reading from Zachariah 9:9-10, that we must rejoice even when there are signs of gloom and doom. These signs have elements of truth of the happenings in the world around us. But Zachariah reminds us that those who appear to be weak will overcome the strong. The Lord will banish the strong, the powerful and corrupted. We need to bless God’s name forever and by doing so honour Him. The Bishop emphasized that the Spirit is responsible for our prayer life. It is through the Spirit that we are motivated and energized. We are never alone when we pray. He told the candidates, “Now at confirmation, the Spirit of God, the same one that raised up Jesus, has now made a home in you. The infilling of the Holy Spirit will be with you for the rest of your lives until you complete the mission of the Church. Whoever you are, pray that you obey the Holy Spirit and you will experience an inner feeling if you do not only focus on yourself.”

In the Gospel, the Bishop said that Jesus provokes us by saying that the mysteries of God will be hidden from us but revealed to mere children (Matthew 11:25-30). Children are often open with simplicity of thought. They are dependent and transparent in what they do. These are the qualities needed for us to better understand the mysteries of God. However, the Bishop reminded the candidates that as young students they must do better in their studies as it is a preparation for their vocation and mission in life. The vocation that God has planned for them. It will be God’s choice and design for them, if they accepted his Word. All they need to do is ask for discernment to understand and accept the mysteries of God.

The Bishop explained that Jesus speaks of rest for our souls. He added that in some states in Malaysia, the Day of the Lord has been shifted from Sunday to Friday. In other states, it remains Sunday. This shift is to remind us how important it is to rest our bodies. It is also time for us to rest our souls. You need to come to Him and He will give you rest. You get this rest through worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in truth together with the community that goes to Church. It is a day of fellowship with family. Thus, creating a bond with family within it, strengthening it through recreating a church which is creative, inclusive and bridge-building. The Bishop emphasized that the young candidates are now to take personal responsibility of their faith and be equipped to face whatever challenges that come their way. He reiterated that they were never alone if the Holy Spirit remains with them. If they are intelligent, creative and willing, they will always be able to find the catholic communities wherever they were, through the foundations of faith that have been laid here now. This will allow them to face anything and need not be afraid of all challenges that come their way.

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At the end of Mass the Bishop gave out Confirmation certificates to each confirmand and in return, received a souvenir of a candle holder with the picture of the Divine Mercy. Fr Martin, in turn, gave out souvenirs from parents but also presented each one a personal souvenir of card from the Holy Father, Pope Francis, that he had obtained from Rome. The inscription on the card with a picture of the Pope read of a tweet made in 2015, “The heart hardens when it does not love. Lord, give us a heart that knows how to love”. Fr Martin also received a wish bottle from the parents containing affirmations of wishes and love for their shepherd at CDM. There was also a speech given by a representative of the confirmation class, Carlos Lim. He gave testimony of his faith journey and the way he came to be leader of altar servers from one who tried his best to skip mass and mostly just slept through mass when he was younger. In addition, there was a humorous video presentation based on the theme “Growing, Glowing & Going in the Spirit”. This was based on what was learned in the confirmation camp given by Martin Jallleh conducted a weekend earlier. A video recording of the whole celebration may be found on the CDM website.

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The celebrations ended with a group photo and the cutting of a cake that was generously sponsored by a parent. It was a most heartfelt experience that was strongly supported by parents. A pledge was given by them to remain faithful and supportive of the church activities especially towards the Youth Ministry.

Written by

Dr. Ivan Filmer

10th July, 2017

Did You See Jesus Today?

2. June, 2017NewsComments Off on Did You See Jesus Today?

“Did you see Jesus? Are you more joyful, more peaceful, closer to God? Do you now want to know God more and to serve Him?” These were some of the parting questions put to the participants at the end of the weekend Life in the Spirit Seminar (LSS) held at CDM on 26th -27th May. To these questions many heads of participants nodded in silent acknowledgment. 81 year old Alex Loo who facilitated the proceedings, said he had let the Holy Spirit guide him to accept and carry out this seminar. It was the Holy Spirit that gave him the energy even to drive all the way from KL to Penang, his birth place, with his team of helpers.

The seminar attracted 150 participants and many were from other parishes on the island. The seminar was conducted over five sessions. The first session was on God’s Amazing Love. In quoting St Faustina, Alex explained that Jesus has invited in His own words to come to the Fountain of His Mercy. In Rev 22:17, there is also another invitation to come to Him those who are thirsty. We were asked if we do believe in a living God who is alive and real. It is said also in 1 Timothy 2:4 that God wants everyone to be saved and to come to the full knowledge of Him. But what prevents us from approaching Him is sin. But like the Prodigal Son he is ready to welcome us back as we are precious in His eyes (Isaiah 43:4). We are reminded that at the beginning of creation God said the Word and things came into being. But in the case of man he didn’t say the Word but instead breathe him into being. In so many cases Jesus has shown in His miracles that he has healed us out of His love and compassion even though he came to save us not to heal us.

In the second session on God’s Healing Love, the participants were told that there were many instances when Jesus saved afflicted people and sometimes people question why they were given such pain in their lives. But we must realize that sickness and disease are often a result of sin and sin is the greatest sickness. The Church has listed seven Capital sins that will cause us to go to hell. All of these can be overcome by prayer. We need to speak to God and await patiently for His answer and plan for us.

The third session was on God’s Saving Love. As sin is an evil that takes control of us and kills our soul we need God’s help to overcome sin. Jesus came because God knows we cannot save ourselves. He chose the most cruel way to die so as to leave no doubt of His love for us.

The Infilling of the Holy Spirit session was where the Holy Spirit was invited to rest in us. We need to be silent listening in order for the Lord to speak to us. We are often distracted when we say prayers and it becomes just a oral ritual that is meaningless. Sometimes we need not say any learned prayers but just tell the Lord our planned activities of the day and listen silently for Him to speak to our hearts on what to do. We need to show we are sincere by repenting for all our sins in order to invite Him into our hearts. Be aware that we need to ask for things that will reflect our faith and fulfill the work of God and not for all material gains to further our selfish needs.

Growing in the Spirit was the final session. Alex stated a scientific fact that all living things are growing and if it isn’t growing then it is dying. This is the same with our relationship with God and growth can only occur when we are connect to God. The participants were reminded of the bible verse John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” We are also reminded to obey all of God’s commandments especially the one that commands you to love one another. In order to help us continue to grow in the Spirit there are five essential things we need in our lives. They are Prayer, the Word of God, the Eucharist, our Community and the Service we give to others.
 

The participants were amazed at the inspiring and full commitment of the octogenarian as he stood for most of the sessions, strumming his guitar and singing.

In his closing words at the seminar, Fr Martin Arlando, the parish priest of CDM, related a personal story of his vocation in relation to the bible verse of John 15:5 He related that in his experience, one must first have the desire to do something and this is followed by the will to accomplish it with commitment. In doing so, the branch attached to the vine will then flourish with nourishment from the vine and bear fruit. Some personal reflections by participants included that they now had a better picture of Heaven and Hell, a full understanding of what it is to receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit and to be slain. The many rich and encouraging testimonies of Alex in his experience while conducting such seminars and the meaningful lyrics of songs used served to enrich the seminar.

This first LSS of CDM brought together a special bonding among the parishioners as shown in their celebration towards the end of the seminar when they held each other, shoulder to shoulder, as they danced all over the hall singing the Lord’s praise. This touching episode of camaraderie has been captured and posted over the Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/search/str/lss+church+of+divine+mercy+sg+ara/keywords_top and at the website of CDM (https://www.cdm.my). Some remarked that the main difference of this LSS compared to others that they had previously attended was the sense of the Holy Spirit bringing about the feeling of community bonding among its participants making it an extraordinary touching experience of the faith for all.

Written by
Dr. Ivan Filmer
28th May, 2017.

Are You with Jesus?

12. May, 2017NewsComments Off on Are You with Jesus?

This question was put the the congregation of over 750 people who came to celebrate the Divine Mercy celebrations at the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) by the presider, Fr. Francis Anthony. As the last of the four presiders invited by the parish over the past week for the Divine Mercy celebrations, he was celebrating the 3 pm mass on the 23rd April under the theme #hop4e (Hold Onto Prayer 4 Everyone). Fr. FA, as he is more popularly known, is no stranger to CDM as he pioneered the building of this church.

clips01He asked those present what is it to pray and the importance of prayer. Jesus had taught us to pray with the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6: 9-13. What does this prayer mean to us? Can we make this our 24-hour prayer? Each of us has different needs and as a brotherhood we should be willing to help one another and to share each other’s concerns. This can be done through our actions and through prayer. In this way we are reflecting God in our lives in sharing the love of God and to bring about peace. When we pray we should not set conditions. This is to show that we are not controlling (blackmailing) God through prayer. Through the devotion of prayer we can become a disciple of hope to others. Often we do not understand the ways in which God works in our lives. At such times of doubt we should turn to Mary, our Mother for help. She didn’t understand many things about Jesus but she remained faithful to Him and to God’s plan for her.

clips02Just before the end of Mass, the congregation received an unexpected treat when they were entertained to a skit put on by the Youth of the parish. It was entitled “Hearts” and presented a lively illustration of the love of God healing broken or injured hearts brought upon by daily challenges in their lives. Fr Martin Arlando, parish priest of CDM also made unexpected appearance as the healer of hearts much to the pleasure of the parishioners. The skit has since been viewed many times on Facebook.

At the end of mass, the congregation followed the statue of Divine Mercy and the Consecrated Host for a procession out of the church around the neighborhood of the church vicinity. This was the first time that the Consecrated Host was included in the procession and it was held high in turns by Fr FA and Fr Martin. It was a most touching experience to observe non christian passersby stop and raise their hands in prayer-like devotion when the procession went by them. The Divine Mercy chaplet was recited throughout the procession. The procession ended back at church with Benediction.

After Benediction there was veneration of the relics of St Faustina and Pope St John Paul II followed by fellowship for everyone. The hour long procession was carried out smoothly with minimal disruption to public flow of traffic guided by the Single Working Adults ministry. The Youth Ministry showed off their charming hospitality as they guided people into church with their Umbrella Squad before mass after they were ferried from their cars by the Living Springs Ministry of old timers. Many people on procession did not fail to notice that the weather was overcast throughout the procession giving everyone cool relief and a visible sign of the Lord’s pleasure of the proceedings.

Written by

Dr Ivan Filmer

10th May, 2017.

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