By Daniel Tay
SINGAPORE – Almost 600
people attended the midnight Mass held on Jun 29 at Church of Sts. Peter and Paul which launched the Year of St. Paul in the Singapore archdiocese.
Pope Benedict XVI established the Pauline year to run from Jun 28, 2008 to Jun 29, 2009 to mark the 2,000th anniversary of the saint’s birth.
After reading aloud the message from Pope Benedict XVI for the Year of St. Paul, Archbishop Nicholas Chia opened the main door of the church with a golden key.
He then unveiled and blessed a
bronze statue of St. Paul specially made for the occasion. The statue of St. Paul now sits opposite the statue of St. Peter on the other side
of the entrance to the church hall.
Those who attended the
Mass in the fifth oldest parish in Singapore that night were brought
back to the "old days" without lights
and microphones when halfway through the Responsorial Psalm, the church building was plunged into darkness by a power outage.
A hushed peace descended on the congregation as each person remained completely quiet so as to allow all to hear the Word proclaimed from the pulpit. Power
was restored only during the homily
to the applause of the congregation.
During his homily, Archbishop
Chia exhorted Catholics to "look to the example of Paul" to bring the Good News to others. He asked Catholics to "bear in mind how enthusiastic St. Paul was and how he gave himself totally to spread the Good News".
Archbishop Chia also reminded,
"In order to fulfil this mission, we must first have Christ in us, then we can bring Christ to others."
During the Mass, Archbishop Chia announced that Catholics who participated in events connected with the Pauline year can receive a special indulgence.
An indulgence is a remission of
the temporal punishment a person is due for sins that have been forgiven. It can be granted on behalf of the individual petitioner or on behalf of departed souls.
The conditions for the Pauline
year indulgence include the normal
requirements set by the church for all plenary indulgences: that the person goes to confession, receives the Eucharist, and prays for the intentions of the pope.
• Those visiting the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome in the form of a pilgrimage must offer prayers before the Altar
of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and must recite the Our Father and
the Creed in front of the Altar of the
Confession, adding invocations to honour Mary and St. Paul.
• Catholics in Singapore can obtain the indulgence by participating with devotion in a liturgy dedicated to St. Paul in any sacred place on the opening and closing days of the jubilee year.
• Catholics impeded by sickness or other serious cause, as long as they have the intention of fulfilling the other conditions as soon as possible, can obtain a plenary indulgence by joining spiritually in a jubilee celebration in honour of St. Paul and offering their prayers and suffering for Christian unity.
Catholics can obtain more than one plenary indulgence during the jubilee year, but not more than one per day.
The parish of Sts. Peter and Paul will be having 52 weekly Bible study sessions during the Pauline Year.
Singapore Catholics who attend Mass at the parish during the year will be invited to take a pledge. Each pledge taker is required to read at least one letter of St. Paul during the Pauline Year.
At the closing Mass of the jubilee year, all the pledge sheets will be bound into a book and presented to the Apostolic
Nuncio to be brought to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.
Pauline day-camps will be held
throughout the year for children in the Singapore archdiocese. Catechists from any parish are invited to bring their catechism class to learn about St. Paul at these day-camps, especially during the school holidays.
Six documentaries on St. Paul will be screened at the parish
throughout the year. Each screening
will be followed by a talk by one of the priests of the parish. The first screening will be held on Sunday Aug 24 at 12.15pm.
There will be two full-day Pauline retreats conducted by Father Ambrose Vaz on the public holidays of Deepavali this year, and Vesak Day next year. Topics include what St. Paul teaches on marriage, occupation and career, nationalism, and living in the spirit of Christ.
Former parish priest Carmelite
Father Thomas Lim, hopes that all Catholics in Singapore will "offer support" to these activities in this year of St. Paul.