JULY 10, 2016, Vol 66, No 14

Bangladeshi worker Mohd Mukul Hossine shares his poetry at Cana

Mr Mohd Mukul Hossine reading his poems at Cana the Catholic Centre while Singapore poet Anne Lee read them in English. Mr Timothy Wong (extreme left) facilitated the session.Mr Mohd Mukul Hossine reading his poems at Cana the Catholic Centre while Singapore poet Anne Lee read them in English. Mr Timothy Wong (extreme left) facilitated the session.

Migrant worker Mohd Mukul Hossine, who writes poetry as a means of dealing with the challenges he faces in Singapore, shared his literary gift and experiences at Cana the Catholic Centre recently.

Mr Mukul, a 25-year-old Bangladeshi construction worker, has been featured in the local press. He is the first foreign worker to have a poetry collection brought out by local publisher Ethos Books, according to media reports.

During the June 24 session, part of Cana’s Talk of the Town series, the 60-strong crowd waited to break the Ramadan fast with him.

Mr Mukul expressed gratitude to God for his gift of poetry and also for being able to share it with others. He read four poems in Bengali – Loneliness, I Stand at the Red Light, Eid Abroad and Me Migrant – while Singapore poet Anne Lee read them in English.

Many in the audience were clearly moved by the haunting melodic recitation of the poems in Bengali, which were resonant with his loneliness and his missing of his home and family, especially his mother.
Two World Youth Day participants tidy up a grave at Lim Chu Kang cemetery. Fifty-eight of them attended a retreat from June 24-25 as part of their spiritual formation for the international celebration in July.Two World Youth Day participants tidy up a grave at Lim Chu Kang cemetery. Fifty-eight of them attended a retreat from June 24-25 as part of their spiritual formation for the international celebration in July.

Fifty-eight people attended a 24-hour retreat as part of their spiritual formation for World Youth Day (WYD) in Poland in July.

They were introduced to the Magis – Latin for “more” or “better” programme – which they would be participating in Poland before the official start of WYD.

The June 24-25 retreat, organised by the MAGiS WYD 2016 Organising Committee from the Church of St Ignatius, incorporated elements of Ignatian spirituality. These included morning prayer, “experiment” activity, the “examen” and the Magis circle, a sharing group for people to reflect on their day and learn to appreciate and value its richness.

The highlight of the retreat was the “experiment” activity in which participants chose from six ways of practising spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Some of these were feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, comforting the afflicted, and praying for the living and the dead.
Some S’pore Catholic educators went on a study trip to see how Catholic schools infuse spirituality into their institutions

A discussion between Singaporean team members and staff of St Benedict’s Centacare Kindergarten in Brisbane.A discussion between Singaporean team members and staff of St Benedict’s Centacare Kindergarten in Brisbane.

Some Catholic educators were in Brisbane recently to study how the Catholic school system there delivers Catholic education within the context of its relationship with Church leadership, parishes and other Church organisations.

During the June 5-10 trip, the 11 Catholic educators, together with a staff member from the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS), visited preschools, primary schools and secondary colleges. These ranged from parish-run schools to those run by Religious orders.

The principals and senior staff shared with the visitors their school programme, Catholic ethos and vision for religious education as set out by Brisbane archdiocese.

The Singapore participants, most of whom came from preschools, primary and secondary schools, said they witnessed inspiring practices that created an atmosphere of reverence. For example, in one parish-based primary school, a daily five-minute school-wide silence was carried out during which sacred music was played to give the children and staff time for personal reflection.
CHARIS volunteers and Sri Lankans working together to dry washed gravel (left) and build houses. Photos: BRYAN CHENCHARIS volunteers and Sri Lankans working together to dry washed gravel (left) and build houses. Photos: BRYAN CHEN

Ten volunteers from CHARIS recently embarked on a journey to teach and build bio-sand water filtration systems and assist in house building efforts in Sri Lanka.

During the June 12-18 trip, they also spent time forging friendships with the locals, many whom had received financial assistance from CHARIS (Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives, Singapore) to improve their lives.

CHARIS has been working with the Diocesan Centre for Social, Economic and Development Education in the Diocese of Galle, Sri Lanka (SED Galle), led by Fr Michael Rajendram.

Fr Michael and his team were hoping that the project in Deniyaya and Hambantota districts, about three hours’ drive from Galle, would improve the communities’ access to safe drinking water and sanitary facilities

In the district of Hambantota, the volunteers helped teach two villages to build bio-sand filtration tanks, in the hope that they could replicate this system in other villages.
Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters,

With great affection and solidarity in our desire for peace, I wish you God’s continued blessings as you conclude the month of Ramadan, a special time of spiritual renewal. May His bounteous favour be upon you, your families and all Muslim communities as you emerge reinvigorated in your faith through your month-long practice of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

These spiritual exercises, besides helping us to deepen our relationship with God and neighbour, are certainly critical in helping us to be more sensitive and compassionate towards those who are in need. Indeed, the love of God and of neighbour and towards oneself is intrinsically linked. “‘…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31f; cf Dt 6:5, Lev 19:18)

They are like a tripod in which love is founded and strengthened. Faith without good works is dead. Indeed St John reminds us, “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”(1 Jn 3:17f)
Graduates of The Bible Timeline  programme, conducted by the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace, in prayer. The course, which the parish started seven years ago, has attracted both Catholics and non-Catholics from across Singapore.Graduates of The Bible Timeline programme, conducted by the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace, in prayer. The course, which the parish started seven years ago, has attracted both Catholics and non-Catholics from across Singapore.

A few people took up the challenge to run a special Bible programme at the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace seven years ago. Since then, close to 600 people, including people from other parishes and non-Catholics, have attended it.

Many said the programme, called The Bible Timeline (BTL), boosted their faith.

“I share Bible readings with my children with more depth now, so it is really enriching and so much better for us as a family,” said Ms Noeline Wong, a mother of four.

For Ms Rosalind Teo, going to Sunday Mass now takes on a deeper significance for her “because I finally understand the Word of God much better”.
Jesus, the Living Word, Speaks, is to help Catholics encounter Jesus through the Scriptures. Jesus, the Living Word, Speaks, is to help Catholics encounter Jesus through the Scriptures.
To celebrate Bible Sunday, which falls on July 10 this year, the Archdiocesan Biblical Apostolate will be publishing a book titled, Jesus, the Living Word, Speaks. The book will be given away free in all parishes as a means to celebrate Bible Sunday.

The aim is for Catholics to treasure the gift of the Word of God and to have a personal encounter with Jesus through reading and praying the Scriptures. When there is personal encounter with Jesus, lives will be truly transformed, says Verbum Dei Sr Sandra Seow.

“Many Catholics are attending Bible classes in order to become familiar with Scripture,” said Sr Sandra, director of the biblical apostolate.

“This is good and should be encouraged. However, intellectual knowledge of Scripture is not enough. The Word of God is alive. The Word of God is a Person, is Jesus. He speaks. He transforms us. He has the power to ignite the fire of love in our hearts if only we open ourselves more to His Word.”
A rookie bunny cop and a fugitive fox are seen in this scene from the animated movie Zootopia. According to the writer of this commentary, the movie ‘offers no clues for correct behaviour. Fighting oppression may sometimes mean fighting physical reality.’ CNS photoA rookie bunny cop and a fugitive fox are seen in this scene from the animated movie Zootopia. According to the writer of this commentary, the movie ‘offers no clues for correct behaviour. Fighting oppression may sometimes mean fighting physical reality.’ CNS photo
Nick Chui looks at gender theory and what Pope Francis says about it

“It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them. Don’t you oppress me.” “I am not oppressing you Stan, you haven’t got a womb!” – From the movie Life of Brian

“My boy, he loves all things elephant and wants to be one when he grows up. Who am I to crush his little dreams?” If you want to be an elephant, be an elephant…because this is zootopia, anyone can be anything! – From the movie Zootopia

In the 1979 movie Life of Brian, an argument ensues between four characters over whether their struggle against an oppressive government should include a “man’s rights to have babies if he wants them”. The group’s leader is adamant that such an idea is absurd. To a suggestion that fighting for such a right can be a symbol of struggle against oppression, he blithely dismissed it as “symbolic of a struggle against reality”.
 
In 2016, the body is no longer seen as “reality”, the boundary for which our aspirations must reasonably respect. This fact seems to be borne out, in the hit Disney movie Zootopia, which featured an imaginary world where anthropomorphic animals live together in relative harmony.
Archbishop Goh speaks at the inaugural meeting of  VITA (Volunteers In The Archdiocese). Logo below.Archbishop Goh speaks at the inaugural meeting of VITA (Volunteers In The Archdiocese). Logo below.

Ahead of World Communications Sunday 2016, the Archdiocese Communications Office (ArchComms) sent out a call to rally members of the faithful to come forward to use their gifts and talents for the good of the Church and the New Evangelisation.

On June 8, ArchComms called for the inaugural meeting of VITA (Volunteers In The Archdiocese), gathering professionals and volunteers coming mainly from the media and communications industry. The inaugural meeting was well-attended with 70 VITA members who signed up to be a part of the New Evangelisation by communicating the Good News through the use of digital and traditional platforms.

In his presentation, Mr Andre Ahchak, ArchComms director, shared with the voluteers: “The Catholic Church has a problem. Making Jesus a visible sign in the world today is difficult. We have to make faith as real as possible, living the Gospel as witnesses. We have to be proud of who we are, as Catholics, and to stand up for Jesus.”


In the last 50 years, there has been a renewed interest in biblical studies both in the Catholic and the Protestant circles. More progressively the current direction of the Catholic Church seems to point towards her desire to have theological, spiritual and ecclesiastical roots planted deeply in the Word of God.

The three-volume publication of the work of Pope Benedict XVI on Jesus of Nazareth in 2007 is truly a significant contribution to this renewed interest in the study of Scripture especially Biblical Christology. With the rise of this new enthusiasm among Christians, there arises also a need to have a balanced and a holistic reading and interpretation of Scripture.

Two extreme approaches

Dissociating the Old Testament from the New
Among some Christians, there is a tendency to disassociate the Old Testament from the New Testament. Some even regard the Old Testament as inferior to the New. There are others who think like Marcion (second century) who considered Christianity as radically different from Judaism.

Marcion believed that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament. Early Church Fathers rejected Marcion’s view for it severed the continuity of the revelation of God which begins in the Old and apexes in the New Testament.
Centuries-old coins and newspapers were part of an exciting find earlier this year. Jared Ng reports.

The artefacts found were 18th and 19th-century coins, newspapers and a service booklet that was used during the laying of the cathedral cornerstone on June 18, 1843.The artefacts found were 18th and 19th-century coins, newspapers and a service booklet that was used during the laying of the cathedral cornerstone on June 18, 1843.

“A discovery like this makes us feel connected to the past. It also inspires us to hang on to the faith and preserve the history of the Church,” said Vicar General Msgr Philip Heng, rector of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.

He was referring to the discovery of a 173-year-old time capsule found under one of the cathedral’s columns earlier this year during the ongoing restoration project.

The 18th and 19th-century artefacts in the time capsule include British, French and Spanish coins, a copy of The Singapore Free Press, the Straits Messenger, the Bengal Catholic Herald and the Madras Catholic Expositor. Of significance is the inclusion of the service booklet used during the laying of the cornerstone on June 18, 1843.

The time capsule was placed beneath this cornerstone on this date and discovered only on Jan 29 this year.