APRIL 2006

Recently some well-intentioned women Catholics asked me for my opinion on baptism by total immersion practised in some of our modern churches during the Easter Vigil Mass.

I was lost for an answer as I had only witnessed one mass baptism by total immersion carried out in a church in the City District which sadly degenerated to a kind of child play in the makeshift inflatable tub of water towards the end of the ritual.

These women told me they were not supportive of this method of baptism. They claimed that when it was held in one church, the men were gawking at some women candidates who emerged from the pool wet, revealing their well- endowed feminine features. It was somewhat scandalising for them to see such a thing happening in church.

In future, perhaps these baptismal women candidates could be appropriately clothed in a thick black gown before they enter the pool so that they do not appear immodest when they emerge from the water.

They voiced another concern on women about to complete their period. In such a case, would they be allowed to partake in the immersion or would pouring water over the head be administered specially for them during the mass baptism ceremony?

These are, no doubt, relevant issues which deserve attention as well as a reply from the relevant church authorities.

    Nelson Quah

Recently when I attended Mass at a church in the East District, it was made known to the congregation that Holy Communion would not be given on the tongue and when it  was given on the hand, it would be done with no physical contact made between the priest and the communicant.  This according to the young priest was an edict from the Archbishop in order to prevent any outbreak of the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) here.

During communion time, I observed that the priest took the precaution of avoiding physical contact when giving Holy Communion to communicants on the hand.  It appeared awkward as if he was giving a piece of wafer to lepers.  I could understand his action if we stood in danger of an imminent Ebola outbreak in which case Catholics would abstain from receiving Communion or even stay at home

What has happened to our faith in God's providence?  Has it withered in the face of the threat from the HFMD?

Don't we any longer believe in the power of the Body of Christ to protect and preserve us from all evil and harm?

It was ironic - after what had transpired - to hear the priest utter the Prayer after Communion: "Lord, may we always receive the protection of this sacrifice.  May it keep us safe from all harm."   I found it hard to reconcile his words with his action.

Many Catholics are upset over this matter.  They feel that the Catholic Church in Singapore should not over-react but continue to give Holy Communion either on the tongue or the hand, fully believing that Jesus' own Body will keep us safe from all harm.

If it is any consolation, perhaps one solution that may help the priests to continue giving Holy Communion on the communicants' tongue without them touching the mouth or tongue is to have slightly larger hosts.

Surely, there are unsuspecting ways the HFMD can be transmitted in church even after taking every possible

precaution.  If we as a faith community do not trust in God's providence and protection it will be better for all Catholics to stay at home until it is safe for them to return to church.

    Nelson Quah

Despite the "hiccup" between the Vatican and the traditional priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) - which hopefully will be resolved soon - I have this comment to make about the public dress code and behaviour of these priests.

On different occasions, I came across these priests along Orchard Road, on MRT trains and buses and it was most edifying to see them in their neat cassock, proudly wanting to identify themselves as Catholic priests to all and sundry. Their deep love and commitment for their priestly vocation is reflected clearly in the proper way they conduct themselves in public, which speaks volumes for the Church, their Society and their zeal to make Jesus Christ known to others.

Some old local priests I know when I was a teenager behaved in very much the same manner as the SSPX priests. They were so proud of their cassock that it never failed to be a part of their dress code wherever they went. The power of the cassock as a powerful tool of evangelism - at least in evoking curiosity among non-Catholics about the faith -should not be underestimated.

Today many of our local priests are more comfortable to appear in public in civilian garb as they prefer anonymity for reasons best known to themselves.

My intention in writing this letter is not to criticise our local priests but to encourage them to be proud of their priestly vocation and to manifest it publicly by proudly donning the cassock.

Catholics love their faith and priests and it saddens them to see their priests hidding behind the cloak of anonymity in public. Wearing the cassock clearly marks them out as Catholic priests.

If the pope can make it a point to put on his papal garb in public why can't our local priests do the same with their cassock?

    Nelson Quah

As we are into the season of Lent, the last supper comes to mind. The celebration of the Eucharist also calls to mind, that we share the Body and Blood of Christ. However, although we receive the Body we did not receive the Blood of Christ. I am wondering if we are in any way defaulting on the doctrinal instruction of Christ Jesus.

I cannot recollect when was the last time I had the opportunity to receive the Blood of Christ? However as a child I received it when we had Mass during a Church picnic. How amazing but it is true. I fully understand that it is tedious and cumbersome process of sharing but certainly I hope it is not due to this reason that it is not done at every Mass.

    Peter Andrew

I AM IN Primary Five of the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, Bukit Timah. I enjoy reading the articles in the Kid's Page. They are not only interesting but inspiring and have helped me to understand my faith better.

I always look forward to reading every new issue that is published. As children we always enjoy humorous Christian jokes, cartoons and simple stories with a moral and religious teaching. It would be good if CatholicNews can publish some jokes and cartoons in future issues.

Thank you for being so thoughtful to us children by reinstating the Kid's Page.

    Clare Quah