Out of the 423 million Catholics in the world today, only about 2% will be able to go to Rome to celebrate the Holy Year. It is obvious then to ask why our Malayan pilgrims went to Rome at such expense to themselves, and how the rest of US' share in the Holy Year.
The word "pilgrim" explains itself: one who goes to some holy place for a definite pupose. The Popes have decided that every 25 years a Year of Jubilee will be declared, with tts centre in Rome, so that the children of the Holy Roman See may visit their Father in his own Church and reap rich spiritual benefits for doing so. This has been going on for centuries, so pilgrims today are continuing the good custom of their ancestors in the Church. Human nature needs a stimulus of the spiritual now and again, and the materialism of the world needs a frequent counter It is good to remind all that not by bread alone does man exist.
NON- CATHOLIC HOPES
The St. Louis U.S.A. "Globe Democrat" quotes a Presbyterian, Mr. P. McKnight, as saying "Pius at Rome speaks as head of the Catholic Church, but he also speaks as one of the greatest moral and religious leaders of civilization. The significance of the Holy Year is far more than a celebration of the Catholic Church. It is a summons for the return of humanity to the ways of God, a global impetus towards recognition of a dependence upon Divine Providence without Whom a militant materialism has grown like a cancer upon the heart of Christendom. During the Holy Year the world will be called upon to rethink the issue of human purpose, human destiny. It is an opportunity to dedicate sincere peoples to renewed acceptance of God, not in words but in act and trust." What a contrast these words of a Protestant gentleman make to the mean, prejudiced, and warped statements of a paper that is being thrust in people's letter boxes in Singapore from a Protestant source. In 1950 the Pope calls on us in this year of danger to Christianity to do something great for God, and for souls: something that will make this Year a holier Holy Year.
THE CALL ANSWERED
About 70 pilgrims from Malaya's 92,000 Catholics made the highest act of courage and journeyed to Rome to fulfil the conditions of prayer there; their journey and the discomforts of travel added to their penance. The pilgrims went to Rome to see the city, of course, and to see the Pope as an impetus to more fervent prayer for the objects of the Holy Year according to the Holy Father's intentions. They go to capture the spirit of the Holy Year at its very source, at the feet of Christ's Vicar. They are the privileged few, who now have come back to tell the less fortunate about Rome and the holy places. Their fervour, loyalty and devotion have been stirred to great depths: they now know, these Chinese, Indian, Eurasian and European Catholics from Malaya, what is meant by the Holy Roman Catholic Church. They were just as much at home in this centre of Christendom as the Italians themselves: Rome is theirs; the Pope is their Father; and the glories of the Eternal City thrill their hearts as part of their very own religion.
WHAT OF US AT HOME?
Are we to be left out, we, the great majority who could not get the money, the time and the chance to go to Rome though we longed for the privilege? We are not left out: we can answer the call at home, even though we have fewer external stimuli to devotion than were given to the pilgrims in Rome. Some thoughts from Father Haulor S. J. may explain things. We can do something tremendously helpful and eternally satisfying if we gear ourselves to a simple spiritual programme for 1950; a programme geared to spiritual health, spiritual capacity and spiritual duties. That programme is open to all, from the enclosed Carmelite to the poor labourer on the wharf. First, greater personal sanctification, which just means a little more frequent use of, and a little better attention to confession and Holy Communion and Holy Mass. It means a little more spiritual energy with our prayers, and trying with greater effort to love God more and ourselves less. That is a workable plan to step-up personal holiness and it is within the reach of all.
Secondly what about self-denial? This is a "must" item. It was the very way Christ went about accomplishing things. A little here a little there . throughout the year: discourage sinning, encourage virtue, ask prayers for the Holy Year and explain it to non-Catholics, cut down the theatre habit and the lazy Sunday routine without Benediction, help a poor beggar to a good meal, and tone down the luxury of your own- just a little here and a little there. Simple, isn't it?
Those daily prayers; remember we can change the world by prayer this year. From the time we leave the pillow till we return to it let all our thoughts, words, prayers and actions be offered to God for His pardon and peace upon the world this Holy Year. We must make up for the past half century and prepare for the half to come. Prayer can do all that. Therefore let us pray, pray and pray.
We know the pilgrims: talk to them of Rome and the glories of the Eternal City of Lourdes and Lisieux. It will stimulate our faith and make us pray in union with all Christendom. There are now 70 ambassadors of prayer in Malaya: whatever the discomforts of travel, the hurly-burly rush of the pilgrimage to see all that was possible, and the disappointment at not being able to see more, one thing each pilgrim will do better now, and that is pray. We envy them their pilgrimage but we can rival them in prayer.
J. M. M.
The Malayan Catholic Newsletter, July 30, 1950.page 3