APRIL 17, 2016, Vol 66, No 08

A church columbarium. Going to a physical place where loved ones are respectfully interred helps us to make that all important connection with them.A church columbarium. Going to a physical place where loved ones are respectfully interred helps us to make that all important connection with them.Q: During Bible Study, we discussed what our resurrected bodies would look like and this led to the subject of Catholic burial. Some of us do not understand the Catholic Church’s stand that the cremated ashes of a Catholic can only be kept or deposited on holy ground which today means in a church columbarium. It rules out sea burial or the quiet, respectful deposit of ashes in a natural spot that has special significance to the deceased.

If we are all God’s creatures and the whole of creation belongs to God, then isn’t every place God’s place and therefore holy? If for some reason places are deemed to have been made unholy, doesn’t it just takes the power of our Christian prayers, delivered through a priest performing traditional church rituals similar to those performed at columbariums, to restore the original state of holiness and hence make the burial acceptable?


Keeping ashes in a porcelain jar in a columbarium does not fulfil the “ashes to ashes” idea. How long can a church keep on storing ones ashes? Certainly not beyond the time when the money runs out, when all niches are full and no more income is forthcoming.
Benedictine Fr Laurence Freeman offers a reflection for the Easter season

The Risen Christ is depicted in the painting, Resurrection, by 15th-century Italian master Andrea Mantegna. CNS photoThe Risen Christ is depicted in the painting, Resurrection, by 15th-century Italian master Andrea Mantegna. CNS photo
My favourite reading in the Easter Season – and perhaps of all time – is by an anonymous “ancient author” in the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday. It is the Risen Jesus speaking to us on this strange day of waiting between the Cross and the Resurrection. He says: “I am in you and you are in me and together we form one undivided person. Nothing can separate us.”

I find this so moving. It takes us to the heart of Christian faith, our deepest and unbreakable union with Jesus in love – in the power of the Father who brought Him back from the dead so that He could breathe the Holy Spirit into the human heart. It also shows us that Christianity is a mystical religion and explains why all Christians need to be contemplatives.

It is always sad to meet fellow Christians whose faith stops at the levels of morality and dogma. These are important aspects of Christian life but they are not the whole picture. If we get stuck at moralism and dogmatic orthodoxy alone, our Christianity will shrivel. If we don’t get out of our head and into our heart – the “inner room” – we may even end up as fundamentalists rather than – like Jesus – universalists. Then we would have nothing to offer a world hungering for depth and meaning and which we need to communicate with a conviction born of experience.
‘When I’m able to re-integrate my boys back into society or with their families, that’s reward in itself,’ says Br Collin Wee, seen here cutting the hair of a HopeHouse resident in this file photo. ‘When I’m able to re-integrate my boys back into society or with their families, that’s reward in itself,’ says Br Collin Wee, seen here cutting the hair of a HopeHouse resident in this file photo.
It was an unusual experience to say the least, visiting a boy at a dump site in Singapore.

“His father and mother had abandoned him and he found a place to temporarily sleep at the rubbish dump,” recalled La Salle Br Collin Wee, 58.

“We eventually got him to stay at HopeHouse where he finished his N-levels and ITE education. He is now serving in the police force.”

That was a few years ago.

As a La Salle Religious, part of Br Collin’s work is ministering to delinquent youth. Most of his work is done in HopeHouse, a shelter for boys who are homeless, abandoned by their families or without a family. It is located on the grounds of St Patrick’s School on East Coast Road.

It is this desire to serve the less fortunate in Singapore that prompted Br Collin to join the La Salle Brothers.
‘The community is a source of strength and struggle. I am reminded daily to love, forgive and to develop a sense of companionship with my Sisters.’ – Sr Francisca Tan, a Cenacle Sister for the past 29 years‘The community is a source of strength and struggle. I am reminded daily to love, forgive and to develop a sense of companionship with my Sisters.’ – Sr Francisca Tan, a Cenacle Sister for the past 29 years
“Religious life is a way of life, a life that is free and allows for growth and maturity. It is not easy, but it is worth it,” said Cenacle Sr Francisca Tan.

This was her advice to those thinking of joining the Religious life. “People think joining a Religious means giving up so many things, but it is not. It is about embracing yourself and God’s call,” said the 63-year-old nun.

Sr Francisca said her own journey towards joining the Cenacle Sisters began in her early 30s and was filled with many twists and turns.

In 1983, a team of Cenacle Sisters and Jesuit priests from the Philippines came to Singapore to conduct training programmes on spiritual formation and direction.

Sr Francisca was then a catechist at the Church of St Teresa and she recalled driving the Religious around Singapore. “I was bringing them around for sightseeing and shopping and it was then I began to become curious about their vocations,” she said.

The following year, she decided to attend her first three-day silent retreat in Singapore conducted by the Cenacle Sisters.
Fr Henry Siew will be releasing a booklet called Encountering the Lord in Daily Life (below) to help people pray and build a relationship with Jesus. Fr Henry Siew will be releasing a booklet called Encountering the Lord in Daily Life (below) to help people pray and build a relationship with Jesus.

Inspired by his 25 years of priestly service to the Church, Fr Henry Siew says he will be releasing a prayer booklet called Encountering the Lord in Daily Life.

The booklet contains three different prayers – Consciousness Examen, Lectio Divina and Imaginative Contemplation.

Consciousness Examen is becoming aware of God’s presence in one’s daily activities. Lectio Divina and Imaginative Contemplation both involve the use of scripture for meditation.

The booklet, to be released in April, will be pocket-sized as Fr Henry wanted them to be “readily available and something that people can carry around”.

It will be available in English and Mandarin to those attending the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of which he is parish priest.

Subcategories