We Catholics of Malaya should be grateful for our privilege of being a striking witness to the Catholicity of the Church with so many races and languages gathered together in one. Above all we should be grateful in this terrible year 1949 - 50, when all the world is upset, when persecution rages in so many lands, that we can practice our religion in freedom and peace, without persecution, without restriction. Gratitude to God, if sincere, leads us to make an examination of conscience as we consider the Statistics of the Diocese for the year 1949 - 50.
1. Our SCHOOLS. We all know that the Church regards education as most important. The Church was the pioneer of education in Europe though this was never compulsory. Compulsory education was first imposed by Bismarck and the practice has been continued by all modern states, not least by the Communists. This makes the need for Catholic Schools all the more urgent.
Let us therefore thank the Brothers and Sisters in our family for their self-sacrificing devotion to their work in our Catholic institutions. Let us also acknowledge our debt of gratitude to the masters and mistresses in all our schools, large or small, all over Malaya.
A special word of praise must be given to those who voluntarily and in their spare time take catechism classes in schools.
The statistics show an increase of 5,000 pupils but this is largely due to the natural increase in population. Mere quantity is no measure of whether a school can merit The title of "Catholic School". The task before all Christian teachers gets harder and harder; they have to prepare their pupils to go out into a world where God is ignored, and where their faith will be subject to attacks of all kinds, direct or insidious.
Boys and girls must be led to LOVE God and His Holy Church so that they may be faithful witnesses, or even martyrs, 1 o his Religion. Pope Pius XII said recently: "Pious customs, traditional in Christian families, such as honouring the crucifix and holy pictures, must of course be held in high honour; but they have their true meaning only if they are based on a solid interior faith, at the centre of which are the great religious truths." Unless our children have been given a good KNOWLEDGE AND LOVE of these truths of life, they will be in great danger of being seduced by the doctrines of death when they leave school. But the doctrines must not be forced down their throat. They must be taught in such a way that the children will LOVE these mysteries and be LOYAL to the Church in a manner far transcending any loyalty to their own school.
The work of our teachers is heroic. Let Us, the other members of our Family, admire them so that our admiration turns to prayer for them and their charges.
2. Adult Conversions. The statistics enumemte 665adult baptisms and 94 receptions into the Church from non- catholics sects. In many other missions the proportionate number is higher than this, but since conversion is in the order of Grace and is God's special gift, we cannot judge the question merely by human statistics. Even so it would not be very rash were we to say that the number should be greater. even with the shortage of priests from which we suffer now. The regular catechists are doing their work.
(See our last issue).
More voluntary catechists are needed, ordinary men and women who will devote their time not merely to trying to do apostolic work, but to being trained and learning how to do it; men and women on fire with the desire to extend the Kingdom of God, who think this Family they belong to is so marvellous that they long to bring others into it. If you love God how can you help wishing that others knew and loved Him too?
3. CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY.
Thank God for the Religious that we have in our Family, not only those who teach but the various other nuns and our mission preachers. But we do lack people whose special duty it is to visit families. Our Diocese is a Family: a Family of families. The home is the unit of Christian society, the life cell without which the ' organism would die. But since, at present, we have no religious like, for instance the 1 Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, the magnificent opportunity for this noble work is open to the laity. Those who have a little spare time can be trained to do what these religious do; to visit and care for the sick, to obtain material aid for the very poor to arrange to meet those coming out of prison after a long sentence who are otherwise utterly destitute, and give them a suit of clothes and help them to get back to their homes. At present this IS being done by non-Catholics, whom God will reward at the last day and whom Mary will thank for what they did for Her without knowing it. We who have been given the whole truth, but have neglected opportunities of showing love to our neighbour, should be earning these rewards too. A few, especially those who are members of the Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul, are doing their best quietly and Without fuss, making Christ to shine among the poor. But there should be more. Pray that there may be more labourers in Christ's vineyard, not only those who are to be ordained to administer His sacrament but lay-people who can be trained while they work, thus both giving and receiving the most precious of all gifts knowledge and love of Our Lord.
The Malayan Catholic Newsletter, October 8, 1950. pg 5