FEBRUARY 14, 2010, Vol 60, No 03

VATICAN CITY – Catholic teaching and the truths of the Gospel have a right to be heard in public debate, especially in a country where so many people claim to be Christian, Pope Benedict XVI told the bishops of England and Wales.

However, the Church must recognise dissent within her own ranks and not accept it as being part of a balanced discussion, he said Feb 1 in an address to bishops who were making their “ad limina” visits.

The meeting with the bishops, who were at the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses, took place as Pope Benedict prepares to visit Great Britain in September.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (Feb 17 this year) and ends on Easter Sunday. It is the season for soul-searching, reflection and repentance. Joyce Gan speaks with Father Ignatius Huan, Spiritual Director and Initiation Year Director at the St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary, to find out more about the relationship between penance and baptism

THE SEASON OF Lent originated in the earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicate themselves to their baptismal promises, and when converts who are instructed in the faith are prepared for baptism.
ASH WEDNESDAY (FEB 17) marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 days of preparation for the Easter season when Christians are called to renew their commitment to spiritual practices like prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Lent is an annual opportunity to grow in our faith, which means it’s about much more than giving up unhealthy foods or treats, as we may have done as children. It is about abstaining from whatever is unhealthy in our lives – gossip, laziness, lack of social conscience – and, most importantly, taking concrete steps to do something more. Challenge yourself this year, and go beyond the clichés of “giving up” something. Now is a great time to take stock of our spiritual life, and to grow in it.

LENT AS A 40-day season developed in the fourth century; Ash Wednesday was instituted to bring the number of fast days before Easter to 40, not including Sundays.
1. Don’t use make-up as a reminder that we are made in the image and likeness of God.

2. Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain, including texting “OMG” as a reminder of the third commandment to give rightful respect and dignity to God.

3. Surrender comfort vices as a lesson that we should draw strength and comfort from God alone instead of from alcohol, food, cigarettes, etc.

4. Drink coffee or tea without sugar as a reminder that life can be bitter without the sweetness of God.
Father Ignatius Huan, 68, has been shaping and moulding the lives of others – from secondary schools to the seminaries – for the most of his life. As he celebrates his silver jubilee in the priesthood this Mar 28, he tells Darren Boon about the disappointments he encountered, how he overcame them, and his passion in spiritual direction and spirituality

SINGAPORE – Unless you attend Mass at either the parishes of the Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, Holy Family or Our Lady Star of the Sea, or attended any of the retreats he has conducted, you would probably find Father Ignatius Huan unfamiliar.

After all, Father Huan is ‘on loan’ from the Malaysia Church to the St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary as a spiritual director and lecturer to the seminarians for the benefit of the several Malaysian seminarians here.