I hesitated to go for the SG 50 mass as it was on a Saturday and I wanted very much to catch up on some rest and personal time. However, I was shown by God that it is possible to rest in his presence and I made the decision prompted by a friend to get tickets to attend the SG50 mass with my parents. It was also my first time experiencing and attending mass at the Singapore Indoor Stadium which was attended by a total of 10,000 Catholics. It was not the sheer number of people that amazed me but the Catholic identity that has been with us since I was a child. I felt humbled and honoured to be a Catholic, and a Singaporean too of course.
It was a thanksgiving mass to give thanks to God and the people who have made the celebrations possible but also the progress of the Catholic Church in Singapore. There are a total of 31 parishes in Singapore with another parish, the Church of the Transfiguration being built to cater to the Sengkang and Punggol residents.
The Catholic Church in Singapore has come a long way since its early days, through poverty, hardships and war but faith always prevails in overcoming such obstacles. Many thanks were given to God that day and it was an touching experience to see the video slides of the many testimonials being given that showcased the past of the Catholic Church. It is more than being a Catholic. We are called to bring that light into the lives of so many people and to touch them in one way or another via our words or actions. (The short film,”Our Catholic Light” that was shown before the mass is the inspiration behind the title for the blog post.)
The main highlight was the opening of the mass and to see and hear our Prime Minister, Mr Lee and his grace, Archbishop William Goh make such heartfelt speeches about how the Catholic Church has progressed in such areas of education and social services. I am grateful for the Catholic education that my parents enrolled me in as it taught me so much about having the right moral values and attitude through my growing up years.
I was glad that the Church recognized the archbishops, both past and present and the priests for their dedication and perseverance in carrying out their duties and going the extra mile in establishing close knitted communities within their parishes. This is important as the church cannot advance without Catholics doing their part in spreading the Word of God to others which is part of evangelisation. During the mass, I was filled with the Spirit as everyone worshipped and prayed together as one church, one family united with Jesus, our Saviour.
‘According to a Straits Times report, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who said the Catholic Church in Singapore had “brought light and hope to many”, whether through education, or helping the poor, the migrant workers and the ill.
Mr Lee, who attended Catholic High School, also thanked the Church for playing an important role in strengthening racial and religious harmony here, and “setting the tone for all communities to live peacefully with each other”.
“Our country must always be a place where everybody has their own space… in a world which has too much sectarian strife and bloodshed,” he said.’
As much as we are given the space and opportunities to practice our faith without the fear of persecution, we must not forget that we need to keep the aspect of racial and religious harmony to help each other and to respect other religions as well.
I simply enjoyed the music (kudos to the symphony band, mass choir, singers and supporting band) and it was a mega musical dedicated to the progress of our nation and to Jesus who made the planning and conception possible in a short period of 3 months. The young and old were enjoying themselves in praising God during the Praise and Worship segment after mass which is a rare sight to see!
I left the celebrations with JOY in my heart, knowing that the youth of the Catholic Church will be future stewards of the faith that ensures that the Catholic light never burns out, but to go burning brightly in giving warmth to others in experiencing the grace of Jesus.
It is also a day before I start a new semester and it is a reminder to always carry the Catholic light, knowing that God provides and has a plan for me. I surrender everything to you Jesus, knowing that you know what is best for me. I am grateful and inspired by your help and grace everyday that I am able to rise again when I have fallen so many times.
In the words of the song Five Loaves and Two Fishes which was played at the mass by the talented Catholic song-writer and singer Corrinne May, it is a good way to end this post to remind myself to keep trusting in Jesus, as there is always a way with him.
“Take my five loaves and two fishes
Do with it as you will
Take my fears and my inhibitions
All my burdens, my ambitions
You can use it all to feed them all”
I often think about that boy when I’m feeling small
And I worry that the work I do means nothing at all
But every single tear I cry is a diamond in His hands
And every door that slams in my face, I will offer up in prayer
So I’ll give you every breath that I have
Oh Lord, you can work miracles
All that you need is my “Amen”
God Bless! as we continue to pray for Singapore and for the church for another great 50 years in bringing Christ to people and to grow with him in faith, hope and love.
PS: Do make prayer intentions and pledges for the nation at http://sg50.catholic.org.sg/
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong