Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we draw to a close the year consecrated to Mary, Star of the New Evangelisation, let us reflect on where we are at in our efforts for the New Evangelisation and how we are to move ahead.
There is no doubt that we are living in tumultuous times of extremes. The pendulum has swung from secularisation, individualism and atheism on the one hand, to religious fundamentalism fuelling war and refugee exodus on the other.
Led by the Holy Spirit, our Mother Church has issued an urgent call to her members to be missionary disciples to stem these threats. This is only possible if we become the “salt and light of the world”,
as the Lord has called us to be.
This ultimately involves a renewal of faith among all Catholics – clergy and laity alike. We cannot be missionary unless we ourselves are first “converted” and then undertake the ongoing process of becoming missionary disciples so that we can evangelise the rest of humanity by being involved in the world, whether in culture, economics, politics, ecology, media, education, science and technology. For the Gospel of life must permeate every dimension of human life.
The New Evangelisation is thus the thrust of the Universal Catholic Church and not just a personal vision. In proposing my 10-year plan for the archdiocese, I have met with some resistance and opposition; and to say the least, indifference and reluctance.
Priests and laity are sceptical as to whether it could be possible to renew our Catholics and bring about a truly vibrant, evangelical and missionary Church. Some simply ignore the call, others go about doing their own thing; and many are oblivious to what the Church (Universal and local) are asking of our Catholics.
To cooperate in the work of the New Evangelisation demands that we acquire the same Spirit that empowered Jesus in His ministry. How is this Spirit given, if not through earnest prayer – individual, communal and intercessory – together with fasting and penance?
We need therefore to pray as individuals, together with the Church, imploring for God’s grace and the infilling of His Spirit, to renew the face of the Earth. For if we believe in the primacy of Grace and not on our own efforts, then prayer is the sign that we know that only God can bring about success in our ministry.
The world must see that what we do is not simply the work of a human institution, (powerful and global though it might be) but the marvellous work of God, in and through poor and inadequate instruments like us.
Consequently, through the consecration of the New Evangelisation to Mary, every Catholic is called to imitate Mary by being docile to the Holy Spirit, by cooperating with the grace of God through prayer and fasting so that with the Lord with us (as He was with Mary), we will be fruitful.
We remember this in His words, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5).
Yet, coming to the end of this year of dedication of the New Evangelisation to Mary does not mark the end. Rather, it should be ingrained in our minds and hearts, that in whatever we do, we must turn to the Mother of the New Evangelisation. For she remains for us a primary model, an inspiration, intercessor and, most of all, she is the Mother of the Good News herself.
From her, we learn to be a true disciple of the Lord and a co-operator with His grace. We are called to imitate her in bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world in words and in deeds. Hence, it is important to remember why we have chosen to dedicate ourselves and our work to her.
So, in the closing of this year, I would like to exhort you not to fall back into slumber but to continue with renewed passion and zeal in this work that we are called to. As St Paul says, “Awake O sleeper, rise up from the dead and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14).
Let us arise and throw off our cloak of pride, indifference, doubt and despondency and let the light of Christ shine upon us and through us to remove the darkness that surrounds us. We need to renew our faith and stand together as a people of communion in mission to proclaim like Mary, “The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy is His name!”
With the light of Christ shining upon us, may we radiate His light to the world. We must keep contemplating on her face and that of our Lord so that we will not lose our zeal and passion for the spread of the gospel.
Together with Christ and Mary in the work of New Evangelisation, I remain your servant of the gospel,
Archbishop William Goh
A Mass will be held at the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace on Oct 7 at 7.30 pm.