Starting afresh

When couples marry, they look forward to building a loving family and growing old with their spouses. Unfortunately, in reality, it does not happen all the time. Divorce ends the partnership. So does death. The heartaches and turmoil that one goes through in a divorce cannot be described with mere words. Similarly, losing a spouse through death throws the other partner off his or her life course and creates a huge vacuum that takes a long time to fill. Whether it is a loss of a spouse through divorce or death, the experience is painful. It begins a tumultuous journey that is made easier with understanding companions who have also been on this journey of grief. Here are two stories of two single-again persons, and how they learn to build new dreams when old ones are broken.

On Beginning Again after the Death of a Marriage
When my marriage ended in a divorce 14 years ago, I was devastated. Festive seasons and gatherings with friends were especially difficult initially as my misery seemed to be magnified in the presence of my happily married friends.

Grief is a painful process. At times, I tried to bury it but it would come back and hit me unexpectedly. Sometimes, it felt as if the pain would never go away. I moved on with my life as best as I could but inside me, I felt as lifeless as a dead branch. As a single mother, the pain was doubled, for I carry a special heartache for my child who has to grow up without a father.

Many times, God was at the receiving end of my grief. I bargained with God to bring my ex-husband back to the family, and when that didn’t happen, I started doubting God’s love for me. I thought God was punishing me for something that I had done in the past, and became despondent and felt unworthy of God. I also felt guilty for failing to keep the marriage that God had blessed.

By God’s grace, I chanced upon the Beginning Experience (BE) ministry. After my first BE Weekend, I came away experiencing God’s forgiveness and love. Through that first Weekend, and many subsequent ones as a team member, my identity as God’s precious child was restored.

There is no greater gift than to receive affirmation of God’s merciful love during the devastating aftermath of a divorce. I no longer feel ashamed of being a Catholic single mother for I am assured of God’s unconditional love for me and my child.

Through the BE community, I have come to know of many single-again persons who persevere to keep their faith in God in spite of the immense pain that they and their children have gone through.

Today, I have come to accept my divorce. There are still struggles that I have to face as a single mother but I am now more aware of my own strengths that will not be taken away from me just because I am divorced. I trust and know that God is also helping my child through her grief journey just like how He has helped me in mine.

On Beginning Again after the Death of a Spouse
When my wife died after battling with cancer, it took me several years of ups and downs to finally accept the will of God and face the fact that she was gone. Looking back at my grief journey, I now realised that I had been in denial of my wife’s death for a long time.

I was working like a robot -- existing aimlessly without a sense of purpose. I was angry with God for taking my wife away. I pleaded with Him to take me as well so that I could be with her in heaven.

I also sank into depression and made serious mistakes at work which resulted in contracts being lost. I was spiritually, emotionally and mentally drained, breathing and yet not alive.

One day, when I was experiencing tremendous pain thinking that I was at death’s door, God woke me up with a question: “Joe, as your loving Father, how do you think I am feeling seeing you in pain and wasting your life away?”

By God’s grace, my late wife also reached out to me with the same question: “Joe, as your beloved wife in heaven, how do you think I am feeling right now seeing you like this?”

I finally realised the folly of wanting to die when God wanted me to live. I confessed my sin of committing spiritual suicide and asked God for forgiveness. I was truly sorry and asked for God’s grace and guidance for healing, and dismissing the thought of dying.

God led me to the Beginning Experience, a ministry for single-again persons. At the BE Weekend, I learnt to overcome my feelings of guilt for asking my wife to go through the chemotherapy which caused her tremendous pain and suffering but which did not cure her.

I learnt to forgive myself and allowed God to forgive and heal me. With God’s healing, I am able to reach out to others who are also mourning the loss of a spouse.

This article is contributed by Beginning Experience Singapore.

Peer ministry journeys with single-again persons to new Beginnings

Beginning Experience (BE) is a peer ministry that runs Beginning Experience Weekend programmes to help grieving single-again persons move from the darkness of their grief into the light of a new beginning and renewed hope. It helps participants deal with the natural grief process and offers an opportunity, through God, for turning the pain of loss into an experience of positive growth.

Though rooted in the Catholic tradition, BE’s open, ecumenical spirit serves everyone from all faiths.

The BE Weekend programme, a stay-in from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, is presented by a team who have suffered the loss of a loved one and are on the mend. The team willingly share their experiences to help others. The experience develops a sense of community in an atmosphere of care and concern – the hallmark of all Beginning Experience weekends.

To learn more about Beginning Experience, visit

“At times family life is challenged by the death of a loved one. We cannot fail to offer the light of faith as a support to families going through this experience. To turn our backs on a grieving family would show a lack of mercy, mean the loss of a pastoral opportunity, and close the door to other efforts at evangelization ... “Losing one’s spouse is particularly difficult ... From the moment of enduring a loss, some display an ability to concentrate their energies in a greater dedication to their children and grandchildren, finding in this experience of love a renewed sense of mission in raising their children ... Those who do not have relatives to spend time with and to receive affection from, should be aided by the Christian community with particular attention and availability, especially if they are poor”. - Amoris Laetitia, 253, 254

An excerpt from Amoris laetitia (Latin: The Joy of Love)
a post-synodal apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis released in April 2016.


Making the CaSE for Sexuality Education at Home

A handbook on sexuality education has been published to help parents on navigating this crucial topic with their children. Entitled “A CaSE (Catholic Sexuality Education) In Point for Parents”, it is designed to equip busy Catholic parents with the necessary information for their role as their children’s primary sex educators.

Written by Dr John Hui, chairman of the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family and a family physician, the handbook also features a consolidation of information from selected sources that are purposeful and relevant, merging faith and science.

Parents who are keen can obtain a copy from the ACF office:

Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre,
2 Highland Road #02-04, Singapore 549102
Tel: 6280 3057 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Recommended love offering for each copy is $5. All proceeds go to support ACF’s efforts in promoting family life.

Visit or
to find out more.

Divine Mercy Sunday

Claire after her first reconciliation at St Ignatius Church last month.

During Palm Sunday’s gospel readings, I was struck in particular by the strong reaction of the crowd in choosing to crucify Jesus instead of Barabbas. The reading tells us :

And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” (Matthew 27 : 25)

I was struck because I don’t think the crowd at that time realised what they were saying and how in God’s plan, they were saying precisely what was needed to save them.

God has a habit of using what was originally meant for evil, as an instrument for our salvation. He brings light into the darkness. He transforms that which wounds, into that which heals.

He does it time and time again. Adam’s “Happy Fault”, the Cross, the Spear that pierced our Saviour’s heart bringing forth the water and blood, the instruments of our salvation.

During one of the presentations in the Cathechesis of the Good Shepherd, called the Preparation of the Chalice, where we invite the children to discover the liturgy of the mass, the cathechist re-enacts what the priest does at every mass where he adds a little bit of water to the wine in the chalice before offering it up to God.

I am often struck by how that plain, simple, drop of water, that represents us, pierces through the surface of that wine that represents the immense love of God. I am struck by how the wine that will soon become Jesus’ blood, envelops the small drop of water, just as how God’s love envelops me if I were to fall into His embrace. I am struck by how that little drop of water mingled within that wine, will never ever be able to be separated from the wine, just as how we, will never be separated from the love of God.

It brings forth the truth that Kavin (my husband) himself discovered in his preparation for his first confession while journeying with the RCIA last year.

The truth being : God’s mercy is greater than our sin.

Just as the tip of that spear thrust by the Centurion on Calvary into Jesus was enveloped in the blood of our Savior’s heart, so too, our sin, our wounds, are enveloped by the love and mercy of God, should we choose to fall into that mercy and be washed clean in His Blood.

To be willing to fall into His Mercy implies a humbling of ourselves, a readiness to confess that we are nothing without God, a trusting that when we fall, we will be caught in His embrace.

Claire scraped her knee on the school yard gravel the other day. It bled for a while, but quickly started clotting up and forming a scab the next day. How amazing are our bodies. How amazing the blood that heals from the moment we receive a wound.

So too, the love and mercy of God. It is like the blood that gushes forth immediately to heal the wound that is afflicted.

Even though our sins be scarlet, even though our sin be as the wounds that scourged our dear Savior, His Blood is always there to heal. His mercy is infinite.

Claire had her first reconciliation about a month ago. Afterwards, she mentioned that she was struck by how kind the priest was. Indeed, Jesus Himself meets us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I remember too, when I was a child. My response to my first confession was tears. I was just moved by how much God loved me that he would wash His little lamb clean.

As long as we approach the font of mercy, we can avail ourselves of His Mercy. Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!

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