Archbishop gives catechumens advice for their spiritual journey
Archbishop William Goh praying for the RCIA catechumens gathered for his catechesis at the Church of the Transfiguration on Jan 13. Photo: VITA Images
Frequent the sacraments, read the Gospels and flee from temptation.
This was some advice that Archbishop William Goh gave to more than 400 RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) catechumens gathered at the Church of the Transfiguration on Jan 13.
Organised by the Office For Catechesis in collaboration with the Office for the New Evangelisation, the archbishop’s catechesis aimed at helping the catechumens from 24 parishes and churches prepare for baptism at Easter
The session started with the reading on the Woman at the Well (John 4:6-26) and the enthronement of the Bible.
Archbishop Goh pointed out that conversion to Christ should not be seen in a negative way, such as having “burdensome” obligations to attend Sunday Mass and not eating meat on Fridays.
Instead, conversion should be seen as a positive act of turning towards Jesus Christ who promises us that “I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
When one turns towards God, he said, one naturally has one’s back towards sin. This is cause for celebration because repentance sets people free to love, he said.
He advised the catechumens to be aware of their desires and the temptations they face from the world, the flesh and the devil. He also shared with them the different “weapons” they needed to fight temptation:
• To fight the temptations from the world, one needs to have faith in Jesus. As 1 John 5:4 says, “For everyone born of God overcomes the world.” Those who believe Jesus is the Son of God will follow and stay close to Jesus and be able to see the world through His eyes.
Thus, they will be able to recognise any illusions proposed by the world.
• When faced with the temptations of the flesh, the best response is to flee. As 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
He gave the example of a person with high cholesterol who should avoid being near tempting foods like suckling pig or juicy steaks.
• The weapon to fight the devil is the armour of God. As Ephesians 6:10-11 says, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
Archbishop Goh also noted that some Christians who claim to believe in the Bible pick only the teachings they agree with and reject those that do not sit well with their lifestyle. He said these are false Christians as they do not accept all the teachings of Jesus.
He cited the example of the call of Peter (Luke 5) and proposed that true Christian living means following the response of St Peter to Jesus’ request to cast his fishing nets.
Even though Peter was doubtful of Jesus’ suggestion, he still listened to Jesus: “If you say so, I will lower the net.”
Archbishop Goh urged the crowd to read all four Gospels from the Bible at least once and to respond to Jesus’ invitation by entering into a personal relationship with Him.
He encouraged them to go for confession and attend Mass regularly after baptism. He emphasised that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is very valuable for the healing of body, mind, soul and heart.
Archbishop Goh also asked participants to spend at least 30 minutes in daily prayer to avoid sin. In conclusion, he invited catechumens to surrender their lives to Jesus.
Catechumens said they found it enlightening, inspiring and informative. Many were happy to hear from the archbishop himself and said they found the catechesis helpful in preparing them for baptism. Others shared that it made them realise how important faith is and how God loves everyone.