“Did you see Jesus? Are you more joyful, more peaceful, closer to God? Do you now want to know God more and to serve Him?” These were some of the parting questions put to the participants at the end of the weekend Life in the Spirit Seminar (LSS) held at CDM on 26th -27th May. To these questions many heads of participants nodded in silent acknowledgment. 81 year old Alex Loo who facilitated the proceedings, said he had let the Holy Spirit guide him to accept and carry out this seminar. It was the Holy Spirit that gave him the energy even to drive all the way from KL to Penang, his birth place, with his team of helpers.
The seminar attracted 150 participants and many were from other parishes on the island. The seminar was conducted over five sessions. The first session was on God’s Amazing Love. In quoting St Faustina, Alex explained that Jesus has invited in His own words to come to the Fountain of His Mercy. In Rev 22:17, there is also another invitation to come to Him those who are thirsty. We were asked if we do believe in a living God who is alive and real. It is said also in 1 Timothy 2:4 that God wants everyone to be saved and to come to the full knowledge of Him. But what prevents us from approaching Him is sin. But like the Prodigal Son he is ready to welcome us back as we are precious in His eyes (Isaiah 43:4). We are reminded that at the beginning of creation God said the Word and things came into being. But in the case of man he didn’t say the Word but instead breathe him into being. In so many cases Jesus has shown in His miracles that he has healed us out of His love and compassion even though he came to save us not to heal us.
In the second session on God’s Healing Love, the participants were told that there were many instances when Jesus saved afflicted people and sometimes people question why they were given such pain in their lives. But we must realize that sickness and disease are often a result of sin and sin is the greatest sickness. The Church has listed seven Capital sins that will cause us to go to hell. All of these can be overcome by prayer. We need to speak to God and await patiently for His answer and plan for us.
The third session was on God’s Saving Love. As sin is an evil that takes control of us and kills our soul we need God’s help to overcome sin. Jesus came because God knows we cannot save ourselves. He chose the most cruel way to die so as to leave no doubt of His love for us.
The Infilling of the Holy Spirit session was where the Holy Spirit was invited to rest in us. We need to be silent listening in order for the Lord to speak to us. We are often distracted when we say prayers and it becomes just a oral ritual that is meaningless. Sometimes we need not say any learned prayers but just tell the Lord our planned activities of the day and listen silently for Him to speak to our hearts on what to do. We need to show we are sincere by repenting for all our sins in order to invite Him into our hearts. Be aware that we need to ask for things that will reflect our faith and fulfill the work of God and not for all material gains to further our selfish needs.
Growing in the Spirit was the final session. Alex stated a scientific fact that all living things are growing and if it isn’t growing then it is dying. This is the same with our relationship with God and growth can only occur when we are connect to God. The participants were reminded of the bible verse John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” We are also reminded to obey all of God’s commandments especially the one that commands you to love one another. In order to help us continue to grow in the Spirit there are five essential things we need in our lives. They are Prayer, the Word of God, the Eucharist, our Community and the Service we give to others.
The participants were amazed at the inspiring and full commitment of the octogenarian as he stood for most of the sessions, strumming his guitar and singing.
In his closing words at the seminar, Fr Martin Arlando, the parish priest of CDM, related a personal story of his vocation in relation to the bible verse of John 15:5 He related that in his experience, one must first have the desire to do something and this is followed by the will to accomplish it with commitment. In doing so, the branch attached to the vine will then flourish with nourishment from the vine and bear fruit. Some personal reflections by participants included that they now had a better picture of Heaven and Hell, a full understanding of what it is to receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit and to be slain. The many rich and encouraging testimonies of Alex in his experience while conducting such seminars and the meaningful lyrics of songs used served to enrich the seminar.
This first LSS of CDM brought together a special bonding among the parishioners as shown in their celebration towards the end of the seminar when they held each other, shoulder to shoulder, as they danced all over the hall singing the Lord’s praise. This touching episode of camaraderie has been captured and posted over the Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/search/str/lss+church+of+divine+mercy+sg+ara/keywords_top and at the website of CDM (https://www.cdm.my). Some remarked that the main difference of this LSS compared to others that they had previously attended was the sense of the Holy Spirit bringing about the feeling of community bonding among its participants making it an extraordinary touching experience of the faith for all.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
28th May, 2017.