MAY 08, 2011, Vol 61, No 9

WHAT makes a person happy? Where does happiness come from?

Does it rest in external sources? In money? In food? In physical or sexual pleasure?

What about the happiness of one’s soul?

According to St Thomas Aquinas, happiness is the thing itself that we desire to attain. It includes the attainment and the use or enjoyment of the thing desired. Happiness is joy in possessing integrity at the core of one’s being. Happiness is the final purpose in life, the attainment of the “perfect good” (Summa Theologiae).

The quest for happiness controls every other decision a person makes.

Jesuit Fr Robert Spitzer outlines four levels of happiness:
On the first level, happiness comes from external sources: from a good meal or movie, a sports event, a concert. These externals are centred on the self. They give fleeting pleasure and fail to challenge the person experiencing them.
In this continuing series on Values by Catholic Medical Guild and Caritas Singapore, we look at premarital sex and explain the underlying attitudes behind those who engage in it.

It is becoming increasingly common for unmarried couples - youth and adults - to engage in premarital sex. The commonly cited reasons by those who see no harm in having premarital sex include:

"This is our way of expressing our love. "

"We are going to get married anyway, so what's the big deal?"

"I have to have sex with my partner to know if we are sexually compatible. "

Those who maintain that premarital sex is wrong because sex is an act of union reserved for those who have professed their commitment to each other through wedding vows, can be labelled "old-fashioned" and "traditional".

Here, we examine the differences in these perspectives. What are people really saying when they ask: "What's the big deal?"

Separating body from soul
Those who do not see premarital sex as wrong often view the body as a separate entity from the soul. There are therefore no significant implications (apart from the biological aspects) to use one's body or another's body. Following this reasoning, if the other's body is not "compatible", "useful", or "pleasurable", it can be reasonable not to commit oneself to that person in marriage.

There are also times when a person may feel coerced to have sex with a partner to prove their love and commitment to each other, or out of fear of losing the partner. Here, the body is viewed as an object, a tool: giving one's body in sex as a way to hold on to a relationship. But in doing so, the gift of sex means no more than a bouquet of flowers, or an item of jewellery.
My dear brothers and sisters,

As we approach the 2011 General Election, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on the relationship between Church and State and highlight to you the importance of taking an active role in the political process.

When Jesus returned to Jerusalem, he was greeted first by adoring crowds waving palm branches, and then, as we know, the mood turned. People became suspicious of this Man who was speaking against the establishment.

When he was asked, hypocritically, by some Pharisees whether it is lawful to pay taxes, Jesus referred to a coin with the image of Caesar on it and said, “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God” (Mk 12:17).

This witty answer helped Jesus walk the line between politics and religion. His words express eloquently the legitimate autonomy and respect that religion and politics must always maintain.

Church and State have distinctive roles, but they share one mutual goal: the pursuit of the common good of society.

Values promoted by the Church, such as honesty, integrity, love and respect for the human person, represent the founding principles of good citizenship in a democratic society. Thus, by remaining true to his/her faith, the Christian citizen acts responsibly in the social community.

CatholicNews honours priests and Religious celebrating their 25th, 50th and 60th anniversaries this year - By Darren Boon



Ex-parishioners and friends of Fr Albert Brys, CICM, describe him as a dedicated priest full of missionary zeal and willing to give himself totally to God’s people.

Fr Brys visited parishioners and would always leave the door of this office open for them, recalled Mrs Faith Ho, who knew him from his days as assistant priest at Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS).

It did not matter that people sharing their problems with him would consume his time or mess up his schedule as he felt “he has to make himself available for the people of God”, said Mrs Ho.

Fr Brys was also instrumental in pioneering the RCIA programme in the archdiocese. Ms Veronica Wong, who worked with Fr Brys in OLPS, said he made it a point to visit all the sponsors in their homes and also to interview the catechumens.

“He always has this personal relationship with everybody,” said Ms Wong.

Fr Brys helped form the lay RCIA facilitators and was present at every session, even if the lessons were conducted by the facilitators and not by him.

Fr Brys also participated actively in the parish’s home catechism classes and was supportive of the group’s efforts.

There was also a yearly Fr Brys award for the best behaved child which he would give away, said Mrs Ho’s husband, Meng Kit, who was involved in the programme.

Fr Brys was born in Belgium in 1925. He had been serving in Singapore since his arrival in 1982 after 22 years of work in Belgium and Congo.

I refer to Mr John Wee’s letter, Save Our Earth On Palm Sunday (CN, March 27). With regard to using plastic palm leaves, I would like to say that there are eco-friendly ways to using palms meaningfully.

In the photo (right), I have two different types of crosses using one blade of a soft palm frond. I used to teach my students in catechism class how to fold these crosses.

I have also been teaching the parishioners of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church for the last three Palm Sundays, at the invitation of Rev Gabriel Liew, one of their pastors.

Each frond gives you an average of about 15 to 20 crosses.