JUNE 8, 2008, Vol 58, No 12

I DID NOT know much about what football fans are like until the day I went to visit my uncle. Unlike my father, who never bothered much about football, my uncle could watch a match only under the right circumstances: total silence, beer, no phone, and a kind of sacred atmosphere that told everyone around that something great was going on.

My uncle not only watched the match. He participated in it. For some strange reason, he had the gift of omniscience by which he felt he had been bestowed upon the authority to tell the referee what to say and tell the players what to do.

At my tender age, that looked very irrational to me, since I already knew then that we can listen to what people say on television, but they cannot hear us. I always felt like telling that to my uncle but that was against the rules of football-watching.

The football fan likes people to know that his team is everything for him. He wears t-shirts that tell the world he supports his team. His car proclaims to the world that his team is the best in the world. His conversations become passionate when the theme is about the most important thing in his life.

But what surprises me about football fans is their loyalty. They suffer when their team loses; abandoning it for a better one is not an option. The sole purpose of being a football fan is to identify with your team and hope that it wins as many times as possible.

Sometimes I have the feeling that some Catholics belong to the church only as my uncle belongs to Real Madrid (or other football fans belong to Manchester United or Liverpool or Chelsea). They have all this kind of "Catholic paraphernalia" in their rooms, in their cars and their conversations become emotionally intense when it comes to "matches" the church might be playing at that time, be it the controversy between the pope and the Muslims or some political conflict with the church somewhere on the globe.

There is a difference between genuinely belonging to the church and being a church-fan. The church fan only wants the church to win. The member of the church wants humanity to win.

In 1 Pt 3:15, St. Peter tells us that we must be "always ready to answer with a reason for our hope." If you ask a football fan why he belongs to his team he will give you a story, not reasons. There is no reason to belong to this or that team. But if we believe, why we believe is because we believe it to be true. We believe it because we have better reasons. Church-fans may know a lot about the doctrine of the church but they use it as a weapon to win, not as reasons to be enlightened by. How reasonable is our Catholic faith? How reasonably do we present it to others? What are we proclaiming? What are the reasons for our belonging to the team of the church?

The Gospel tells us that Jesus leaves behind an Advocate, the Spirit of Truth. When was the last time we changed our minds over a particular issue of faith? Are we reflecting, pondering, considering, and discovering new insights to make our faith more integrated?

The church is not playing against anybody. There is no match. There is one Truth, not many truths wrestling against each other. There is only One Spirit of Truth, not many. There is only one and the same spiritual thirst in each one of us searching for the only one Spiritual Solace who is God.

The world, contrary to popular belief, is not searching for material things. Insurance policies are spiritual benefits, they give people hope and tranquility. Mobile phones satisfy spiritual needs of company, communication and communion. I believe in the church, not because it solves different problems, but because she has the only satisfying answer to the ultimate problems.

The world and the church work for the same purpose: to serve man. Both struggle to give the best answers. In this struggle sometimes they disagree and this makes it look like they are "playing a match". They are not. They are just meeting together to achieve their one and same purpose. When the church misses a goal, humanity loses. When the world scores, the church wins. - Father David Garcia

SINGAPORE – Celebrate Marriage 2008 was held on the afternoon of May 19 at the neighbouring locations of Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre.

The event, organized by Marriage Encounter Singapore (M.E.), consisted of four concurrent talks on the basic issues faced by married couples in Singapore – finance, parenting, and couple relationship – followed by celebration of Mass with renewal of marital vows for couples celebrating milestone anniversaries this year. The talks drew about 400 people while the congregation at Mass numbered about 700.

One of the speakers, Sister Una Boland, helped couples to understand that one of the best ways to maintain the "specialness" in marriage is through communication, the goal of which is revelation and not resolution.

Most often, it is when one reveals oneself to one’s spouse that there is a greater possibility for resolution to problems, as it is through revelation that the couple can reach an understanding of each other, she explained.

Another speaker, Adrian Lim, a counselling psychologist by profession, said the key challenge for families is to balance the needs, demands, wants, challenges, and responsibilities faced by families. Ultimately, the single most important factor that contributes to avoidance of unhealthy behaviours is a child’s connection with his parents, he said.

Father Michael Arro spoke on couple love and Father Paul Staes spoke on money matters.

FATHER MICHAEL ARRO’S talk on "Couple Love; Contagious Love" reminded couples, that in marriage both parties refer to each other not merely as "my companion", but as "my spouse", that is, one who loves the other most. He stressed that marriage is a process in which continued openness and communication is required for the two to be harmonized.

Being passionately in love means putting our spouse first, but there is always a tension between self-giving and self-taking. Father Arro offered four points to help spouses love each other in the way that he or she needs to be loved:

1. Make time to listen to each other. It is important to listen to what is being said and what is not being said.

2. There is a need to trust each other because of the love that a couple shares.

3. Forgive each other; continue giving to each other and give something extra.

4. We need to pray in order to have a mind that is free from prejudices. It is important for there to be couple prayer, in which spouses open up to each other and express to each other what needs to be said to and for each other.

Father Arro explained that couple love is contagious love because it affects the couple’s children, the people around them, and the people they interact with at work.

Father Paul say money matters

IN "MONEY MATTERS in a Christian Marriage", Father Paul Staes explained how control over money can lead to power struggles within the marriage or to financial and marital harmony, depending on how spouses resolve their different and frequently opposing views of money based on their values and upbringing.

He stressed that unity in marriage is the approach needed to tackle money matters such as the merging of finances, dealing with debt, keeping spending in check, investments, and emergency planning. He added that keeping big financial secrets from each other can ruin a marriage.

Father Paul reminded couples that the qualities for handling money matters in marriage are the same as those needed for a good marriage: commitment to unity, communication and openness, honesty and accountability, mature freedom and trust, flexibility and a sense of humour. n

 - By Daniel Tay

SINGAPORE – In Singapore, the church’s response to the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis is being coordinated by the Archdiocesan Crisis Coordination Team (ACCT) which was first established in 2005 following the December 2004 tsunami disaster. ACCT has liaised with Archbishop Charles Bo from Yangon and Archbishop Paul Grawng, President of the Conference of Bishops of Myanmar, on the situation in Myanmar to determine how the Singapore church can render aid.

Given the magnitude of the disaster, ACCT discussed with Archbishop Nicholas Chia who decided to call for a second collection that was made over the weekend of May 10-11 for the purpose of rendering aid to the victims of the disaster.

At the same time, several Catholic organizations (Good Shepherd Sisters, Myanmar Community in Singapore, Sisters of the Infant Jesus and Canossian Sisters) also embarked on activities to raise funds for the disaster. The Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore (CMG) and the World Federation of Catholic Medical Association (FIAMC) assembled a team of medical personnel ready to enter the affected areas of Myanmar once clearance had been obtained from the Myanmar Embassy.

The Myanmar Community in Singapore organized a Mass for the victims and for the people in Myanmar on May 11 at Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Myanmar Community will be organizing another Mass in English on Jun 8 at 3pm at the same church.

A coordinating meeting was held at the Catholic Social and Community Council (CSCC) on Saturday May 17 to share information, identify the needs on the ground as well as coordinate activities and support from Singapore Catholics. The meeting was attended by representatives from ACCT, CSCC, Jesuit Refugee Singapore, Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore, the Myanmar community as well as several religious orders which are currently maintaining a presence in Myanmar.

At the meeting, representatives from the Myanmar community as well as the religious orders gave an account of the situation on the ground and their needs. ACCT and the World Federation of Catholic Medical Association shared inputs received from both Archbishop Charles Bo and Archbishop Paul Grawng.

As at May 28, ACCT has received about $550,000. More is expected as not all parishes have submitted their collections.

So far, S$150,000 has already been disbursed to provide immediate relief. Of this, S$10,000 has been remitted to Mercy Relief and the remainder to the Myanmar Disaster Relief Committee established by the Myanmar church under the leadership of Yangon Archbishop Charles Bo and various Catholic organizations which are involved in immediate relief efforts.

The rest of the funds collected would be used primarily in the rebuilding of lives such as rebuilding their homes, their livelihoods as well as providing grief and trauma counselling to those affected and will also be made available to the victims and families of the disaster through the various organizations.

All requests for funds can be directed to the ACCT, 2 Highland Road #LG-01, Singapore 549102.

SINGAPORE – In its ongoing endeavours to further sensitize Catholics to their role in bringing the Good News of salvation to all stratas of life, the Archdiocesan Commission for Missionary Activity (ACMA) has organized a Mission Photo Competition as part of this year’s World Mission Sunday celebration activities. Mission Sunday is celebrated on Oct 19 in Singapore.

This competition is open to all Catholics in Singapore. Submitted photographs must depict the mission of the Catholic Church or what this mission means, and must be taken by the contestant during the course of local or overseas missionary activities.

ACMA explained in a written statement that all missionary endeavours should begin with the Lord, and should be inspired by the Spirit of the Lord who sends and empowers the missionary and the activity. The activity should lead, in one way or another, to a proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.

As followers of Jesus, we are not only mandated to continue his mission, but out of love and in union with him, we are to be co-workers with him, the statement said.

So, start reflecting on how this mission is being carried out all around you and start shooting! ACMA said attractive prizes will be given.

For more information call 6474 9184, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.catholicacma.org.sg. n

(To understand more about the mission of the church, you may like to read "Redemptoris Missio", an encyclical on missionary activity by Pope John Paul II. It can be found at www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0219/_INDEX.HTM.)

SINGAPORE – Jesus Youth Singapore and SACCRE Youth are organizing a three-hour musical outreach – "Destination Christ, Rexband Live in Singapore" – on Friday Jun 27 at 7.30pm at the Rock Auditorium at Suntec City Mall.

Rexband is the musical outreach of Jesus Youth, a Catholic youth movement with a charismatic spirituality. Jesus Youth began in India and is now active in 22 countries, including Singapore.

Rexband has performed over 500 shows worldwide over the last decade. It was the first Indian band to perform on the main stage at World Youth Day 2002 at Toronto. The band also performed at WYD2005 in Cologne, and has been invited for WYD2008 in Sydney.

The band consists of over 25 professionals (active in various fields) with a talent in music and theatre. They have banded together to take this gift of quality contemporary Christian music and its message to today’s urban youth. They do this through music albums, stage shows and encounter programmes.

Rexband has released 11 music albums in various languages over the past decade. One of these, "Quiet Waters", is a collection of psalms set to contemplative music. The latest album, "Destination Christ", includes a tribute to Pope John Paul II.

The typical three-hour Rexband show integrates music, choreography and contemporary theatre performances to present the message of Jesus in a powerful and attractive way.

Tickets to the Singapore show are priced at S$20. Call Shimy at 9648 5801 or Thomas at 9740 4797. To book tickets in bulk, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..