FEBRUARY 12, 2012, Vol 62, No 03

By now all those who already have the ashes of their loved ones at a parish columbarium, or who have booked a niche for future use, should have received a letter from their columbarium.

This letter was accompanied by the official text of the new Terms and Conditions Governing the Use of All Parish Columbaria in the Archdiocese of Singapore. The letter explains how the new Terms and Conditions affect your use of the Columbarium.

You are kindly requested to sign the Reply Form and notify your Columbarium of your agreement.

If for any reason you wish to terminate your use of the Columbarium, you should indicate this in the Reply Form and return the same to your Columbarium by 20 February 2012, failing which you shall be deemed to have agreed to the new Terms and Conditions.
THE first of the Ten Commandments is first for a reason: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

The neighbouring nations had many gods. But Israel was never to worship anyone or anything else but the Lord.

OK. The First Commandment is to worship no one else. But the Fourth Commandment is to honour someone else: one’s parents. And this honour is due precisely because God works through parents to give us life.

In fact, Israel recognised that God works through other people and things as well. And, insofar as they are used by God, they deserve our respect and veneration.

Judaism and Catholic Christianity are very physical. After all, the universe is God’s creation. He comes to us through His creation, and we give Him worship with our bodies: we kneel and bow before Him.

But we also use many of these same gestures to show not adoration but veneration for people, places and things associated with Him. Israelites bowed before the king, God’s anointed (1 Kings 1:31). But the king also bowed before his mother (1 Kings 2:19). All Israelites bowed before the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant, God’s footstool (Psalms 99:5).

VATICAN CITY – Fifty years ago this October, Pope John XXIII and more than 2,500 bishops and heads of Religious orders from around the world gathered in St Peter’s Basilica for the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

Over the next three years, Vatican II would issue 16 major “pronouncements” on such fundamental questions as the authority of the Church’s hierarchy, the interpretation of Scripture, and the proper roles of clergy and laity.

Those documents, and the deliberations that produced them have transformed how the Catholic Church understands and presents itself within the context of modern secular culture and society.

Because Vatican II was one of the monumental events in modern religious history, its golden anniversary will naturally be the occasion for numerous commemorative events, including liturgical celebrations, publications and academic conferences.

At a Vatican II exhibition at Rome’s Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, which opened in late January and will run until November 2013, the displays include original handwritten pages from Pope John’s speech at the council’s opening session, and a Vatican passport issued at the time to a young Polish bishop, Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II.

When someone asks you, “Think about what Jesus would do,” remember that a valid option is to freak out and turn over tables. (cf Matthew 21:12)

Granted, money changers and merchants in the temple are more disruptive than a pair of flip flops, but it should give us pause to reflect that the only time our Lord is recorded displaying His impressive anger in full force was in preserving the sanctity and sacredness of His Father’s House.

Those whom He had abruptly turned out probably felt outraged and humiliated; His shocking, even violent, actions may seem over the top.

However, once we consider that our Creator is ever present in the tabernacle just for us and during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and we are literally present at Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1366), we should begin to appreciate how carefully and reverently we must comport ourselves in the presence of this great mystery.

St Pio, one of the few bearers of the stigmata, was a sartorial enforcer – women who came to him for confession had to wear skirts at least eight inches below the knee. In confession, we are also at the foot of the cross, and should bear ourselves accordingly, though we may allow for cultural differences with Padre Pio’s land and time.

In his Christmas message, Archbishop Nicholas Chia published a most impressive commentary on how we, as a community can do our part in caring for God’s creation.

Among other things, he mentioned that “we can avoid using Styrofoam, which is a hazard to the environment”.

Coincidentally, Styrofoam is used in church canteens on weekends. Many operators had started off serving food and hot beverages in recyclable utensils but, sadly, have replaced them with Styrofoam.

Styrofoam is in fact an environmental hazard and its harmful properties take 500 or so years to clear up. It’s time that we go back to basics and relearn the goodness of recycling.