PENANG – The 31st of August 2016 marked not only our National Day but the day when 121 parishioners of the Church of Divine Mercy, Penang (CDM) woke up bright and early to greet the morning of our Divine Mercy pilgrimage to the Holy Doors at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Kampar and Bukit Mertajam’s Church of St. Anne, The pilgrimage started at the prompt hour of 6.45 am with a mass celebrated by CDM’s parish priest, Fr Martin Arlando.
At his homily on the gospel reading from Luke 4:38-44 regarding the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law, Fr Martin remarked that mothers-in-law are often depicted as possessive and the cause of quarrels within the family. However, Simon’s mother-in-law must have been the ideal mother-in-law. After she was healed she got up, prepared and served a meal to Jesus and others. In addition, she also allowed her house to be the place where many came to Jesus for healing. She was the embodiment of the meaning of service. This is the same for Jesus. He always has time to see to our needs. If we go to Him, He will get involved. As the popular song goes, God will find a way and if He sees no way, He will make a way. The same cannot be said of us. We often have no time especially when someone is dire need of our help. We do not get involved. Jesus was also in deep communication with His Father. He was known to go off in a solitary place to pray. This heart-to-heart conversation with God is the value of prayer. To help us joyfully bear all our burdens and to avoid all attempts of the evil one to prevent us from doing God’s will. Fr Martin’s advice to all pilgrims was to take minute steps to acquiring this virtue. As they entered the Doors of Mercy, they were asked to embrace the love of Jesus and to examine all the burdens that are preventing us from reaching out to others. To reinforce his words, Fr Martin showed a popular video showing how ignorant and hurting a man’s reaction can be to certain people around him, without knowing the real plight or circumstances of their situations.
|Three busloads were used to send the pilgrims to their two destinations. Each bus was headed by a tour guide who had the responsibility not only to watch over them, but also to lead them in the various prayers specially prepared by Fr Martin. An Act of Mercy was related and reflected on during each segment of the trip. This was followed by the recitation of a decade of the Chaplet to the Divine Mercy. As a result, the deeper meaning of all the corporal and spiritual works of mercy were revealed throughout the bus ride.|
On the way to Kampar, we stopped for a quick lunch in Ipoh. Upon arriving at Kampar, we were warmly greeted by the parishioners of Church of the Sacred Heart. They showed us exemplary hospitality with a briefing on the history of the church. They also explained the acts of mercy they were doing by providing meals to hungry around Kampar. Every Saturday evening around 250 meals were prepared and distributed, mainly to the elderly who had no one to care for them. They also gave each pilgrim a souvenir fan to remember our time there and provided prayer books to help guided us through the Holy Door. All of us entered the Holy Door led by Fr Martin.
In his homily on the gospel reading from St. Luke, Fr Martin explained that there were many times in the bible that Jesus was seen doing and explaining acts of mercy. The parable of the Good Samaritan and the many different instances of healing show this clearly. Fr then related a story where three people were comparing their piety by stating what type of bible they were reading. One cited the New American Bible and another the New Jerusalem Bible. However, when the third person was asked which bible he was reading, he just simply said he was following the bible his mother taught him. His mother had taught him by her life experiences of faith. From this we are reminded that acts of mercy are more important than just knowing them.
When we left Kampar, showers of rain trailed us all the way to the Church of St. Anne in Bukit Mertajam. Fr Martin asked everyone to place all their burdens and petitions at the feet of God as they passed through the door seeking the intercession of Jesus’ grand parents and St. Joseph. We then proceeded through the second of three Holy Doors in the Penang diocese and immersed ourselves in silent reverence and prayer.
Many pilgrims who were on their first pilgrimage were most touched by this journey through the Holy Doors. They expressed a feeling of the presence of God and a better understanding of the Acts of Mercy. One youth felt that the pilgrimage gave her a sense of peace and togetherness with her family. One elderly couple remarked that the pilgrimage had a positive impact on their spiritual lives bringing them closer to Jesus. It also left them feeling more soulful and eager to join in more pilgrimages in the future as this would widen their faith horizons. Another parishioner said that the pilgrimage showed the strength and devotion of faith of many to the will of God. He had come to resolve to follow St Theresa of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus, by doing ordinary acts of mercy in extraordinary ways for the love of God.
Tennielle Callista Chua
1st September, 2016