APRIL 03, 2016, Vol 66, No 07
Q: I would like to pose the following question in the Questions on the Faith section of CatholicNews. Why did God harden the following characters in the Bible which contradicted His gift of free will?
- God hardened Pharaoh’s heart which resulted in many dying from devastating plagues (Exodus 9:12).
- God hardened the hearts of Gentile kings so that they would not sign peace treaties with Israel which resulted in the total extermination of their peoples (Joshua 11:20).
- St John mentioned that the reason why many Jews did not believe in Jesus was because God hardened their hearts (John 12:37-40).
David Woon. Singapore
A: When one approaches Scripture with an intent to learn and understand, it is always useful and perhaps even pertinent to know the difference and/or connection between doing hermeneutics and exegesis.
Generally speaking, hermeneutics deals with the philosophy and science of interpretation of the biblical text and would cover things like the role that divine illumination or insight plays in the interpretation of the text, and in this case, what was actually being communicated to us.
“Dear Pope Francis, why do you need that tall hat?”
I had to laugh out loud as I read my daughter’s question to our beloved pontiff. Little did I know then, that less than a year later, we would find ourselves face to face with Pope Francis himself, sans his tall hat, at the Vatican, on the feast of the Chair of St Peter (Feb 22).
The call for these questions to Pope Francis was made by Ms Julie Phua, a catechetical coordinator at our parish, the Church of St Ignatius, during a retreat for children who were preparing for their sacraments in 2015.
As my daughter, Faith Ng, aged eight then, was not part of that retreat, she wrote her question at home when I asked her if she had any questions for the pope. Besides her burning question about his choice of headgear, she also asked him why some saints had “the wounds”, and drew St Francis of Assisi bearing the marks of the stigmata.
All the children's letters were submitted and we gave no further thought to it. Months went by. Out of the blue, I heard from Julie that Faith’s letter had been shortlisted for a book titled Dear Pope Francis. It came as a wonderful surprise! We also learnt that the question submitted by Maximus, aged 10 in 2015, from the Church of the Risen Christ, had also been selected. He had asked, “I would like to find out – why did God create us even though he knew that we would sin against him?”
Close to 60 couples came together to pray a special Stations of the Cross designed for couples to reflect on the Lord’s Passion and how it related to their marriages.
Marriage Encounter (ME) designed the special Lenten programme, which was held at the outdoor Stations of the Cross at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on March 11.
According to the organisers, Lent is a season of reflection, re-evaluation, repentance and reconciliation. Very often the people we hurt most are the ones closest to us. Harsh words and actions or indifference can hurt spousal relationships.
This realisation gave rise to this unique Stations of the Cross, initiated by ME three years ago, for married couples to experience deeply the significance of the Lord’s Passion on their relationship.
Seventy-eight young people from various parishes came together for the first Combined Polytechnic Catholic Camp organised by the Office for Young People (OYP).
Previously organised by the Combined Polytechnic Catholic Students (CPCS), this was the first time that the students were collaborating with OYP to run the camp, also known as SHINE.
“After running away from God for a long time, SHINE has helped me to remember who I am: a child of God. And God loves me the same, no matter what I do or have done,” said Paul Young, 16, a freshman at Temasek Polytechnic.
Many others said they felt “empowered”, “renewed” and “assured” through their experience at the camp, held at the OYP premises at Lorong Low Koon.
The camp was open to Catholic youths who are entering or are now in polytechnic. It aimed to serve as a starting point for them to form a community and to empower them spiritually in their student life in the various polytechnics.
The sessions were given by the OYP staff and chaplains on topics such as who God is, being a child of God and living out this identity, and belonging to a Christian community.
The Office for Young People (OYP) held its first spiritual preparation session on March 12 for those intending to go to World Youth Day (WYD) in Krakow, Poland, later this year.
OYP will be bringing an archdiocesan contingent of about 170 pilgrims to the Church-organised international event to be held from July 25-31. Archbishop William Goh will be leading the group, along with Frs Jude David, Brian D’Souza and Jovita Ho.
The archdiocesan trip itself is expected to last from late July to early August.
During the March 12 spiritual preparation programme, the first to be held for the upcoming WYD for these pilgrims, participants got to know each other through icebreakers and sharing sessions.
A time of praise and worship followed during which participants learnt the WYD song.