On Sunday 8th June 2014, my family and I attended the Church of the Holy Spirit Pentecost mass which was celebrated by His Grace, Archbishop William Goh and it was a special occasion as it was the church’s feast day and fun fair as well. The church was definitely packed with parishioners and Catholics who had turned up to witness this joyous celebration. Slides featuring the various art pieces on Pentecost was interesting and nice, like Holy Spirit’s church stained glass which is very beautiful.
The church’s main colour was red to signify the Holy Spirit described by the apostles as tongues of fire that descended among them. The Holy Spirit had filled the disciples with gifts such as speaking in different tongues (Acts 2:1-3). Even though the disciples were Galileans, with the help of the Holy Spirit, they could make everyone in the world, regardless of their native languages, understand the word of God. This understanding and living the word of God was the highlight of the day’s homily by Archbishop William Goh. He told the congregation that when we read the news everyday, there are reports of suicide,abortion, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, war and natural disasters and that there are many people who are turning away from God and feel that they do not have a purpose in life anymore.
The young people are failing to experience God and they do not come to church anymore. They do not find God relevant as they prefer the secular world offerings of materialism and consumerism. It is more attractive and that think that they can survive and function without our faith and its teachings. Most of the young people feel detached, uninspired and lost towards the church teachings due to being attached to the secular world and thus choosing to follow it. Thus more outreach and activities can be done by the church to re ignite that love and interest in finding out more about faith and returning to God. These young people might have their own fears, addictions or problems that might have caused them to lose faith in the church. May the Holy Spirit guide them to open their hearts and minds to receive it. Jesus has sacrificed so much for us, so the question is: ” Is it too hard to just give one hour of our time to him on weekends to listen to his message?”
The breaking up of relationships was something that Archbishop William also touched on such as the authenticity of love in families. Love is one of the gifts of the Spirit and people are also having multiple partners, having intimate relationships before marriages and cheating on everyone which goes against the teachings of the church. Adultery is listed in the ten commandments – one must not commit sin as the commandments are our guideline in living the Catholic life and obeying the teachings of God. It is for the purpose of our spiritual growth and happiness. If our actions are from the things we see on the internet or television, it might cause more hurt and grieve unto others if we do not feel the need to re-evaluate them. Questions such as ” Is this true love?” and “Will my actions cause repercussions that I will regret later?” The Holy Spirit is there to guide us in our decisions as Catholics to help ourselves and help others not fall into regret and sin.
Religion gives us the chance and opportunity to know God better and he always waits patiently for those who stray to come back to him, and he always plans for us to turn our lives around such as through an event or person. I believe that God has his way to make us see the right path again and that he will pick us up if we falter but we have to be strong and determined as well.
This week also was the meeting between “Israeli and Palestinian presidents at the Vatican with Pope Francis for an evening of peace prayers between the two countries.” This is important as in the face of war, nobody benefits, innocent people such as children are killed, livelihoods are ruined and bloodshed becomes the norm. Peace of one’s heart and mind is important in experiencing God and many people yearn for peace and respite from the anger and grudges they hold in their hearts. But before peace is to be experienced, forgiveness must come first, which is to let go of the hurt through confession or prayer. We must let go and let God in to our hearts and lives to experience mercy and grace in being happy with ourselves. I hope that war can be avoided and that the leaders think about a peaceful resolution to the conflicts that they are facing.
All of us are sinners and nobody is perfect, but so often we are quick to be judgmental of people around us who have committed crime or hurt us and we are also quick to condemn them. Archbishop William tells us that if we know the story behind their actions, perhaps we will not be so quick to judge. As Catholics, we need to be compassionate and non-judgmental in giving people another chance to get back on their feet and encounter Jesus again. Perhaps, the story behind their actions are filled with fear, doubts and anxiety that have clouded their judgement at the point of time. If they are willing to change for the better and repent, are we willing to invite them to experience Jesus’s mercy unto us sinners?
The church has always been creating opportunities for Catholics to find their calling towards the different ministries and events that take place in and around the Church. All these programmes and events would not be possible also without priests who work tirelessly in evangelizing and outreach to the young and to others who are still finding Jesus.Being a priest or religious is never easy due to the many tests and temptations that come their way. However, with a close relationship with God, these can be overcome easily so that the priests can serve the people and impart God’s message.
We as Catholics need to spread the word of God to others and help people understand God’s love that can give them the freedom and happiness from the problems that they have. Even non-believers of God want their ashes to be put in a niche or place when they pass on which means that they believe in something or they would have just not care at all as shared by Archbishop William in the homily.
The homily offered a real look into the obstacles that the Church is facing today and that she is trying to bring the lost ones back and to give the Spirit to Catholics to go forth with hearts aflame to spread the good news. Life, as unpredictable as it is, has shown me that in one way or another, God is present to help us carry our crosses in our lives. As Catholics, we also face the demands of the secular world which is to earn the most money, have the highest qualifications and be the top in everything, but it does not bring one true happiness which is to be contented with life. There is always a new contender or a new demand that makes us want to keep going and forgetting about everything else. Perhaps, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves whether this is the happiness we want which is not lasting and superficial.
Through my writings, I feel that the Holy Spirit has made me realise that I can use this as a channel to help others and make God’s message known to people to let God take control and to come back to the faith. The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus shows that there are many hardships and obstacles in life but if we put our trust in God, he will not abandon us. God wants to let us experience the new life so one will find new meaning as a Catholic again.
This week has been an interesting week for me as I resume my writing journey after National Service. I will be going on a pilgrimage with my family to learn more about God’s presence in other countries and to pray for the many intentions of the family and those who have asked us to pray for them. I hope that I can learn, share and enjoy this trip with the family and to come back energized. Yes,God is present in my life and I can make the best of the opportunities he gives me each day.
God Bless and let’s welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives!
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong