JULY 03, 2011, Vol 61, No 13

Choirs from different churches took part in a Night of Song for Christian Unity, held at the Barker Road Methodist Church on June 18.

The choirs (clockwise from top left) from Barker Road Methodist Church, the Catholic Church of St Ignatius, Mar Thoma Syrian Church and Church of South India enthralled the audience with their repertoire of largely contemporary songs.

The event was a follow-up to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity held in January.

Today's article in this continuing series on Values by the Catholic Medical Guild and Caritas Singapore looks at the emotionally charged debate over abortion.

AUSTRALIAN journalist Melinda Tankard-Reist, who draws upon the experiences of more than 200 women to write about the lasting emotional shock and trauma that follows an abortion, shares this excerpt from a woman named Elizabeth:

"The aftermath was a numbness I hadn't anticipated. I was numb, hollow, dead and so heavy with sorrow. The feeling didn't go with time as my delighted mother assured me it would. I grew morose, bitter, very sad, so heavy with sadness that I can't describe it. I became different ... cheap. I'd sleep with almost anyone. I drank heavily. I didn't care what happened to me and I tried several times to commit suicide.

For 10 years this went on. I cried every day ... and I hated myself and everyone else. I used to dream about the child I'd lost. .. I love it, cherish it, yearned for its birth, missed it when it was taken from me and to this day, 26 years later, feel the tragic heaviness of time. My only consolation is that one day when I die, our souls may co-unite."

Psychologists now know the depression and guilt Elizabeth describes is not unique. Similar cases of post-abortion trauma are commonly found in women who were, for one - reason or another, pressured into having an abortion, or who had experienced uncertainty or ambivalence about their choice to abort. Why is this important?
"The Eucharist is more precious to us than all the world’s riches because it nourishes us for our life’s journey and prepares us for heaven."

Normally, people of faith have quiet minds because they put their trust in the supernatural power of Jesus. This faith gives them a gentle peace, and they manage to persevere through the storms of life, overcoming their fears.

Such people find Jesus most perfectly in the Eucharist.

Those who succumb to their doubts often enter a dark world alone with their fears. They lose their spiritual centre and journey unprotected through the darkness.

Some Catholics think they have serious doubts about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, but a person is only in real doubt when he or she withholds assent or suspends belief. Most do not enter into a state of disbelief; they merely experience the discomfort of trying to understand such a profound mystery.

There is an old adage that a thousand difficulties do not make a single doubt. This is true; no one fully comprehends the sacred mysteries of our faith. All we can do is try to grasp the facts that surround the mystery.

Pope John Paul II put it well when he wrote his encyclical on the Eucharist (Ecclesia de Eucharistia): “Every commitment to holiness, every activity aimed at carrying out the Church’s mission ... must draw the strength it needs from the Eucharistic mystery. ... In the Eucharist we have Jesus, we have his redemptive sacrifice, we have his resurrection, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have adoration, obedience and love of the Father. Were we to disregard the Eucharist, how could we overcome our own deficiency?”
I WAS at Mass in my parish recently and the church was, as usual, crowded. When communion time came, the queues were, needless to say, formidable. I would not be surprised if the priests and communion ministers felt somewhat pressured to distribute communion as fast as they could.

When I was still in the pews, I noticed that the queue had suddenly stopped moving. At the head was a female communion minister and a young communicant, both staring down at the floor – a sacred host had been dropped.

The communicant was dressed in a very short skirt, so it was obviously not convenient to bend down to pick up the host. The communion minister was in a longer skirt, but nonetheless quite fitting, so she was not bending down either.

Fortunately, the warden in attendance noticed the awkwardness and stepped forward to pick the host up and held on to it.

When my turn came to receive communion, I noticed that the host was pressed down very firmly on my open palm. As I had sweaty palms, I was mortified to think that there might be fragments remaining on it and took great care to check for “crumbs”.

While doing so, I spotted another fragment of the host on the ground, right next to where communion was being distributed, either dropped by the warden earlier or by some other communicant. I had nearly stepped on my Lord.
Recently, my father was warded for pneumonia and the next day being a Friday, I looked at the Church directory to see which church I could approach to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

I left a voice mail at one church and subsequently called the church. I was totally taken aback when I was told that the priest would only go down when the patient was in ICU or dying, and this makes me wonder what is happening to this ministry.

I was also told that I should contact his parish priest instead.