The celebrations for the Divine Mercy Feast at CDM Penang began on Good Friday with a 9-day novena. The main theme for this year’s Divine Mercy celebration is #hop4e (hold onto prayer 4 everyone). In line with this main theme the four presiders who were invited to our celebrations which culminated on Divine Mercy Sunday, 23rd April, were asked to focus on the sub-themes of #faith, #trust, #prayer, #love, #mercy and #hop4e during the daily Masses. In this following account, some provocative questions of their homilies have been presented for our reflection.
by Msgr Henry Rajoo
Are your perceptions of faith influenced by the appearance of people? By how they dress, the length of their hair or by their age or race?
How does faith and prayer go together?
In the recent PMPC4, Bishop Sebastian Francis said that three things need to be kept in mind about faith and prayer. They are purity of intention, fidelity in action and faith in prayer. When we pray, do we really believe our prayers will be answered? Jesus has given us many assurances through the scriptures (Mark 21:223; 9:23-24). Have we asked God to help our lack of faith? Are we patient enough to trust in the Lord and value His intentions for us? Do we think that faith is like adding salt and sugar to our food? Have you met the resurrected Lord? 11 of the 12 apostles were martyred for this man who was dead and gone. Why do you think they did so? Like Peter who denied the Lord three times, we need to stop doubting. What is blocking us? Is it our pride? We are proud of many things, external as well as internal – our possessions, our physical and intellectual attributes. But these things are transitionary that collapse on our death bed as we cannot take them with us. Look at the things that block us, at the struggles of faith of St Faustina and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Then, have faith to place all things in His hands and let God guide us.
Reflections: Do we take our faith seriously enough to learn something more each week? How often have we avoided or passed by opportunities given to us in the formations planned by the church? Is our faith centered in prayer or do we think that coming to church on Sundays is enough to sustain our faith?
by Msgr Henry Rajoo
In any relationship, trust is an important component, for example, in boy-girl relationships, parent-child relationships and in a marriage. Similarly, do we have that trust in our relationship with God?
Trust doesn’t come easily. In some marriages, the spouses do not trust one another. Psychologists say that in childhood, trust begins between 1 to 3 years and if we are wounded we don’t trust people. This is particularly significant in children from orphanages, divorced and single parent homes. But if we don’t trust even ourselves this can make you lose peace and go crazy. For example, how often have you turned back to your parked car to see if you had locked it?
We pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet with the words “Jesus, I Trust in You.” Do you really trust this God? It can be challenging to trust in this patient and merciful God.
What will happen if you don’t trust in God?
What will you be losing if you don’t trust in God? St. John, the apostle has already told us what we will lose if we fail to trust Him (John 14:1)
Can we leave all our trust in Him like St. Peter (1Peter 2:23)? Or bear suffering and pain with confidence like St. Paul (2 Tim 1:12)?
Often when we are faced with life’s challenges we give up on prayer. In short, we give up on God when it is the most important time for you to trust in God. Why do we not continue to trust and pray in hope? To trust in your relationship with God that He will not fail you.
Reflections: Has your trust in God ever been tested? What is the basis of our relationship with God? Do we trust in ourselves more than we trust in God? What does it take for us to be more trusting in God?
by Fr. Charles Chin
What is prayer? Is it just to recite learned prayers or do we talk to God?
What happens when you talk to the Devil instead? See what happened to Eve.
Did St. Joseph talk to God or did he listen?
He was asked to marry Mary, to take the family to Egypt and to bring them back.
Similarly, with Mary in the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:39-42). Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him. So prayer is not just talking to God but it is also attentive listening. We are reminded to be still and to be attentive to the promptings of God inside you (Psalms 46:10-11 and Isaiah 55:2-3). To listen with respect and love.
But is all this enough?
St John of the Cross explains that prayer is the tasting of the Lord. A personal experience (Psalm 34:8). This experience is explained by St Paul in Galatians 2:20 and 2 Corinthians 4:8.
How do we achieve this? What do we do when someone wants to talk to you in return?
We need to have some quiet time with the Lord. This is explained in Mark 1:35 and in Luke 5:16. We also need to follow the example of Mary, our Mother, who listened and kept the word inside her (Luke 2:19)
Reflections: How often have you bypassed opportunities to pray? Do you take your prayers seriously? Do you pray for yourself alone and for others? Do you expect others to pray for you? Do you think you pray attentively or are just reciting learned prayers? How often do you pray in a day?
by Fr. Charles Chin
What is Love to you?
Some say love a good phenomenon, an emotional sensation, sacrificial, eucharistic (self-giving) and even life-generating. Consider the fact that Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, an intimate expression of love (Matthew 26:49).The apostles spent three years following Jesus. They said they loved him and yet Peter betrayed him three times (Luke 22:56-60), they quarreled over who should be number 1 (Mark 9:33-34) and yet when it came to defend him at his arrest, they all ran away.
What a disappointment it must be for someone who says that they love you and then deserts you at your time of need. In life, we go through disappointment and can become very distrustful. So when there is a betrayal, it is remembered for a very long time and often brought up time and time again during subsequent arguments.
What happens when Jesus sees those who ran away from Him at the Crucifixion at the very first time after his resurrection? What does he say? Does he rebuke and remind them of their unfaithfulness to him? (John 20:19)
Not only does he not remind them of their betrayal, he breathes on them giving them the strength of the Holy Spirit and to empower them on their mission (John 20:22-23)
What does this tell you about the love of God?
It is said that Jesus sees a future saint in every sinner. He reaches out and never reminds us of our mistakes but motivates us not by punishment but by love and friendship. Are you worthy of this kind of love? What is your response to this Eucharistic love?
Let Alluleia (Praise God) be our song and in darkness see the light of God’s love for us.
Reflections: Should love be reciprocal? Do you only love those who love you? Do you think God loves you? Do you think that there are different degrees of love? Do you think some people are worthy of more love than others? Do you think the people you love should be grateful to you?
by Fr. Aloysius Tan
Is Mercy just a slogan now that the Year of Mercy has past? Does Mercy now stop as we proceed on to a new year with new slogans?
When we started the Year of Mercy, Sacred Heart Church was designated a pilgrim church with a Holy Door of Mercy. To show this quality of God’s Mercy we started a soup kitchen to feed the homeless and elderly on every Saturday night. We managed to distribute 200-250 packets of cooked food every weekend. There were so many volunteers and donors as far as Penang and KL. Now that the Year of Mercy as ended we struggle to continue with this project. Has our act of Mercy this last year been just a drama, a Sendiwara? If we want to practice Mercy then we have to do it every moment of our lives.
But how do we overcome this struggle of mission to share God’s mercy?
I would like to share four areas on how this may be done.
Firstly, where do we find these examples of Mercy? We need to be certain that our Works of Mercy are rooted in Scripture. We have to look into the words and works of Jesus, the disciples and all the saints. Their inspired acts have revealed to us their selfless deeds.
Secondly, who do we reach out to? There two dimensions. The obvious one is community but the other one is the personal dimension. This personal dimension can start in the home with your family.
Thirdly, believe in the kindness of others and to do things with faith. When faced with challenges, continue to serve even when it hurts. This only helps us to grow in faith.
And lastly, let this mission be our life-style. Begin in small ways as a channel of hope to others. Gain strength from Jesus who died for us. He didn’t ask us to pay back but to pay forward. We should also pray for the church to produce role models to follow. As parents we are the best role models for our children. Reflect on the words of Pope Francis, “Remember Mercy can change the world to be less cold”.
Reflections: Does everyone deserve mercy? Can mercy be measured? Do you deserve mercy when you make mistakes? Should you be compensated for showing mercy? Will you continue to trust those you have shown mercy?
by Fr. Aloysius Tan
My survey of Catholic bookshops to find out what were the items that notched the highest sales revealed things like the rosary and statues. Do you think that the Bible is among this list?
Sadly, no. Catholics need only one bible per household. So what are the types of reading materials that sell well?
The answer is devotional books. From this I infer that there is an indication that Catholics want to develop a relationship with God. But how to do it? Can we just read about it and it will automatically develop?
The theme for your church is #hop4e. Hold onto prayer for everyone. Strangely enough, I find that the most common sin confessed in confession is “Didn’t say my prayers, either morning or evening.” The ability and the desire to pray is a gift from God. A chance to request things from God by connecting with Him. Similarly, Moses and Elijah were able to continue with their mission through prayer. It is a source of strength.
But what are the elements we encounter in prayer that we have learned from the life and testimonies of others? What happens when you stop praying?
Basically, without prayer there is no encounter with God and that so ends our relationship with Him. A lot of people when growing up have followed the faith of their parents from young. But after confirmation they leave for college and the working world, they stop praying. This brings the stops and terminates their relationship with God.
But what about those memorized prayers that we continually repeat when we pray? Are we just paying lip service to God?
To repeat our learned prayers is a heritage that was handed down to us. We should use it as a mantra to experience God. Use it as part of our meditation so as to be with God. But is this enough just to recite prayers?
When our relationship with God is not focused, prayers will just remain lip service. We need to gain strength from prayers. To personalize it so as to be able to practice our faith through action. In this way we deepen our relationship with God.
How can we be creative when we pray?
In all our prayers, at some time we need to have a personal encounter with God. So include our prayers in the things you do. We can pray while we are at work, while driving, anywhere. We can pray for ourselves and others and believe that it will really help someone in need. It can serve as a means to reach out to others by asking God to grant their needs. Pray with faith, pray with joy and obey with the trust that people will see a sign of hope in their lives through our prayers. In my personal experience, the prayers of others have helped me overcome my fear of driving, keeping me safe as I travel and also in mastering the English language to the extent that people now don’t laugh when I speak or mispronounce words. Prayer gives us strength and life. So do why do you hesitate to say “Jesus, I trust in You” through your prayers for yourself and for everyone?
Reflection: Do you think each of us has different degrees of power in prayer, that some people’s prayers are more powerful than yours? Why? What kinds of small things do you think are worthy of your prayers? Have you tried to offer everything you do as a prayer?
by Fr. Martin Arlando
Do you trust in the Lord?
Does He put dreams in your heart and writes a destiny over your life? Are you ready to trust Him at His word to find yourself on a journey to fulfilling your dreams?
Unfortunately, things in life are never easy. Just look at the path we took to build our church here at CDM. It is on a slope at a junction, next to the land designated for a surau and had cost millions. Yet we followed His lead even when it was difficult, preparing for what it is today. God allows the path to be difficult because He intends on refining us and preparing us for our place of promise. And it is the same for our lives. At different times we finds ourselves in difficulty having to make a decision. Often we opt out on God and let our dreams die.
Are you ready to die in yourself, make a commitment and hope in His promise?
In the story of a plastic surgeon wanting to restore that burnt face of the man and when rejected, explained that his wife wanted to disfigure her own face to be reunited with her husband. Jesus has done this for you. He was tortured and nailed to a cross to save us. He was disfigured to prove to you that you are loved and that he cares and wants to restore your hope. For all of this, can you at least make Him your friend?
He has taken the first initiative. He left heaven and became a human being just like you. He lived on earth and faced numerous challenging situations like you do today. For His efforts they crucified Him and even then He conquered death for us. He is always there for us as Jesus says,“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Rev 3:20)
Can you not just open the door to your heart and accept Him as your friend?
We all have weak spots and areas of inconsistency in our character. We need to see Jesus face to face to gain strength from Him to guide and correct us.
Do you have a sense of how God is using you for a great calling?
In Ephesians 3:20, it says that God wants to be allowed to work in us and do great things through us. Are we just too proud to let God have His way in our lives? Can you just Hold onto prayer for yourself and for everyone? Just hold on to Jesus here at CDM. Let Him guide you through this time to build our church through faith in the community with prayer. If you continue to pray, He will strengthen you and lift you up to be honoured. Hold on to Him through prayer, hold on fast for He is all in all.
Do you realize what prayer can do to stretch our hope? And what should we hope in?
We should hope in the POWER of God. We must always rely on God’s strength as we go about God’s work. To be humble to acknowledge that His strength is all sufficient, in the strength of His grace and providence. This is so necessary when we come serve in the church as we overcome obstacles of time, physical and spiritual constraints. There are already such examples to be found at CDM when we carried out our activities for pilgrims during the Year of Mercy and this DM Feast Day.
We should also hope in the PROMISE of God. He has promised us strength for assistance in God’s righteousness. (Psalm 71.16b) We should never doubt that He will fulfill His promise to assist us in the building of our church here at CDM .
What should we hope for?
That God will not leave us till the end (Psalm 71:17-18). He was there when we were born and will be there when we grow old. That the good deeds we have done for others throughout our lives are for the glory of the Lord as He has done so much for us undeservingly. That we will not be forsaken even as we grow old.
How do we show we hope in God alone?
This can easily be manifested in constant prayer. Do you have a sense that God is using your current circumstances to prepare you for a great calling? In the story of Louis Braille, the same instrument that blinded him was used by him to invent the Braille code so that the visually handicap can now read. In such circumstances instead of asking, “ Why did God do this?” we can ask instead “How will God use this?” Persistent prayer will keep us hopeful and give us strength. This is a choice we make to pray and hope in God. This is also a way to drive away feelings of anxiety and dismay that God is finding a way for us in His time. We only need to be patient and persistent as we Hold Onto Prayer 4 Everyone.
Reflections: Should we pray for big changes in the world? Do you believe your prayers make a difference to those you pray for? Do you consider Jesus your friend? Do you often check on him like you do on Facebook and WhatsApp? Is it important to tell everything you do to Jesus?
by Fr. Francis Anthony
Does prayer bring us together in brotherhood? Are we following the Scripture teachings so that is reflected in our way of living?
In the breaking of bread we are united with Jesus to make us understand and live like Jesus lived. But what is it to pray? Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew’s gospel. This is a 24 hour prayer. When we say it, we are proclaiming the way we live like a disciple of Jesus. We all have different needs and in a brotherhood we are willing to share each other’s concerns. God lives in me 24 hours a day. It is through my actions that I reflect God in my life. Thus, we must be channels to bring peace by sharing the love of God. Often we pray but God does not seem to be answering our prayers. Perhaps it is for something we want that we should not have or perhaps we want to be able to control God. To make Him do our will instead of His. It is not for us to decide what we should get from God. We should learn to be disciples of hope, hold to prayer and ask “Am I with Jesus?” Does He think this is good for me and is He sending me out to do things? We need to ask Mary our Mother to help. She did not understand many things about Jesus but still diligently followed God’s plan.
Reflection: Do you think everything that happens to you is God’s will? What does the Lord’s prayer really mean to you? Can you allow God to live 24/7 in you? How much of what you decide to do each day is centered around your faith?