“What makes for real worship?” This was the question that parish priest, Fr Martin Arlando, put to the congregation that came to celebrate mass on the 29th September, 2015 for CDM’s fifth anniversary as a church and the second year as a parish. Referring to the First Reading of the day taken from 2 Chronicles 5:6-11, 13: 6-2, Second Reading from 2 Cor 3: 9-11, 16-17 and the Gospel reading John 4: 19-24, Fr Martin related a story that appeared in the Chicago Tribune of a Mexican woman who was able to identify the face of Jesus on a tortilla that she was preparing for a meal. She took it to her parish priest and had it blessed, took it home, built a shrine to mount it and thousands came to venerate it. It changed her life.
What makes for real worship? How and when do we know that what we are doing pleases God? Jesus himself faced the same situation when he met the Samarian woman who questioned him on where to worship God. True worship is one where one approaches God as a whole person. In today’s world, we face many superstitions like it is bad luck to walk under a ladder or cross the path of a black cat. Like Samaritans, we avoid such things, just in case it is true. Jesus asked us to worship in spirit and truth. To acknowledge our God as the true God, giving thanks for God’s provision of everything in our lives and celebrating the promise of eternal life. We need to acknowledge God’s presence in everything we do and rejoicing the path that God has chosen for us. We also need to respond to God’s personal call to a deeper relationship to salvation and service and respond wholeheartedly. In this way, the response is an act of worship. Just like the power of worship at the Eucharistic celebration at mass. If we worship this way, we can walk away after mass and say “What a great God I have.”
Fr Martin reminded us that salvation initially was for the Jews but the Father is always looking for anyone who is worshiping him in spirit and truth. The pillar of worship is authentic worship where Jesus has the answer. False worship is to be selective in worship. One chooses only what they want to follow and ignore the rest. This one-sided religion approach gives rise to what is commonly practised today by “buffet” Christians. They take only what they want and leave or ignore the rest. Fr emphasized that we need to come with an open heart and worship. Instead of coming to God just to seek for an answer to our many needs and hoping that God will give us the answers, we should submit to live by God’s spirit. We should be thanking him with body and soul and walk away with the confidence and belief that our powerful God truly cares for us wholy will see to all our needs. An awesome God who loves us and just wants us to worship him in spirit and truth. In line with the theme of the Sunday, One Community In Praise of God, we have this opportunity at every mass to truly worship God in spirit and truth.
At this mass Fr Martin did a blessing of water and salt. There was also a sprinkling of holy water over the whole congregation. Fr also blessed a chalice that was placed at the shrine of the relics of St Faustina and St John Paul II. This was in response to some parishioners who claimed to have dreamt that they saw present chalice filled with the blood of Jesus. In this act of blessing, all await anxiously for a miracle here at CDM.
In celebration of the church’s anniversary and establishment as a parish, a cake was cut. Fr invited representatives from the senior citizens, middle aged parishioners as well as the youth and children to partake in the cake cutting. This was symbolic of the cross-section of the church community. Fr Martin thanked everyone present for helping him as the parish priest for the last two years and asked them to continue to pray for him. A potbless was also held to foster better community spirit after mass.
On the 4th October, 2015, the feast of St Faustina was celebrated. In his homily, Fr Martin explained that God created man and woman and that the two shall become one body. (Gospel Reading from Mark 10:2-16) In any marriage, the union of man and woman is in the presence of God the Holy Spirit as the witness and presider. Men and women tend to look for the ideal person to marry, very often forgetting that they themselves may not be an ideal person. As such each member of the marriage has to complement each other to make them whole as one. This may often be a difficult process that has to require understanding, patience and love. To cultivate a spirit of “give and take” and compromise as they are different sides of the same coin. It may even come to the point of understanding to “agree to disagree”.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
12th October 2015