As I write this, the MCO has been extended. Without the extension, the economic impact is already felt by some people. Now with the prolongation of the mobility restriction, many more people will be affected. According to the Carmelite reformer, St Teresa de Jesus, “Christ has no body, none, but yours”. With enforced social distancing, this is the opportune moment where we can become His eyes, ears, hands and feet. It is time that we rally to those who need our assistance. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto me” (Matt 25).
At the Diocesan level, a Crisis Response Team has been assembled. The hotline is Majodi +60 7 283 0166, headed by Mr Albert Tan. It operates from Monday to Friday (9am to 5pm). For the Cathedral, the members of POHD are also at hand to take in calls and requests. For now, you can contact Nancy (011 3166 3008), Bernard (016 738 6202) or Pauline (012 711 7139). We have a food bank but it is depleting. Even with the lockdown, there are some who have continued to send rations for us to distribute. Please do not stop. We are thankful for your help.
I have been celebrating private Masses everyday. And praying that the Lord, who alone can do what we are not able to, will bring an end to this affliction. Some have attributed this as nature’s revenge. If nature has God as Creator, then this pestilence must belong to God’s permissive will. It therefore begs the question of the reality of our sinfulness for God to allow this affliction to strike us. In the Old Testament, scourges of God invite Israel’s repentance. It fits in with the season of Lent. We are invited to make reparation for our sins. It cannot be that Christ came to save a sinless people.
During Holy Week, there will be no public Masses as directed by the Pastoral Letter of the Episcopal Conference of Malaysia. If you were dismayed, know that I feel the anguish too--the excruciating pain of separation for you, my dear people, whom I have come to cherish. In the absence of Mass, what can you do? For those who feel the need to watch the liturgies celebrated, there will be live-streaming of Masses. English liturgy will be celebrated by Bishop Bernard Paul in Majodi. Mandarin liturgy is available from St Theresa’s Church, Melaka and presided over by Fr Thomas Chong, SJ. We will provide the links as soon as we can get them.
Other than live-streaming, you can still pray. There are many forms of prayers but the rosary is one which many of you are familiar with. The accusation that it is “repetitive” should not deter you because it is a powerful prayer in times of difficulties. The parish has organised the daily recitation of the rosary from 6am to 8pm ending with praying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. Even though you may appear to be praying alone, it is a form of solidarity because the entire parish is engaged in it. Furthermore, our good Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary are praying before the True Presence of Jesus, every day from 6am to 6pm. They are praying with us.
Finally, the parish depends and acknowledges your kind donations for her functioning. For the 5 Sundays without public Masses, the shortfall is approximately RM100K in contributions because Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are both days with exceptional collections. Even so, the parish will continue to pay her staff their monthly salaries as she should. I understand for some people, finances will be tight. But, this is also a time of generosity for those who can afford. In this regard I have received suggestions for those who are looking for the possibility of financially supporting the Parish. Should you so desire, please contact Mr Johnson David (016-7769396). He will furnish you with accounts details.
For myself, with the blessing of Fr Sebastian, the Jesuit treasurer, I have asked the parish not to pay my allowances for the months of March and April. It is the least that I can do for our beloved parish.
God bless Padre
Ps: As soon as we are able to set up a gateway for e-payment, we will alert you.
在写本牧函时，行动管制令已经延长了。就算不延长，一些人已经感受到了经济影响。现在随着行动限制的延长，将有更多的人受到影响。根据加尔默罗会改革者聖女大德蘭（St Teresa de Jesus）的说法：“基督没有身体，没有，但祂有你的”。随着社交距离的执行，这是我们成为祂的眼睛，耳朵，手和脚的适当时机。现在是我们去帮助那些需要帮助的人的时候了。“凡你们对我这些最小兄弟中的一個所做的，就是对我做的”（玛25:40）。
在教区方面，一个危机应对小组已经成立。甲柔教区中心咨询热线是+607-283 0166，由Mr Albert Tan领导。操作时间为星期一至星期五（上午9点至下午5点）。至于主教座堂，全人发展事工(POHD)的成员也可以随时接听电话和接受请求。目前你们可以联系Nancy (011-3166 3008) 或Bernard (016-738 6202)。我们有一个食物库，不过库存正在减少。即使受到封锁，仍有一些人继续向我们送来粮食供我们分发。请别停止。感谢你们的帮助。
最后，堂区依靠并感谢你们的奉献以继续运作。对于5个没有公开弥撒的主日，奉献金将减少约为10万令吉，因为圣枝主日和复活节是能够收到特别多奉献金的主日。即使这样，堂区仍将继续每月支付工资给工作人员。我了解对于某些人来说，财务会有些困难。但对于那些负担得起的人来说，这也是一个慷慨的时期。在这方面，我收到一些愿意在财务上支援堂区的人的建议。如果你们也愿意提供支援，请联系Mr Johnson David（016-7769396）。他将为你们提供银行户口资料。
The coming 5th Sunday of Lent coincides with the 1st Sunday of the ancient season of Passion-tide. Before 1962, our present 5th Sunday was called Passion Sunday (the week that followed was called Passion Week) and the subsequent Sunday was called Palm Sunday (which flowed into Holy Week). With the revised calendar, both Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday were brought together as the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. However, what has remained of the ancient season of Passion-tide is an option to mark the change of pace that began with the 5th Sunday. At the end of the Gospel of Passion Sunday (that is, following the old liturgy), the line goes like this: Jesus hid Himself and left the temple (John 8:59, also cf Jn 12:36b). Hence, the tradition is to veil our statues inside and outside the Church. This veiling is to remind us of the Redeemer’s humiliation so as to imprint the image of the crucified Christ more deeply on our hearts. It is also a form of fasting of the eyes. As Jesus hid His divinity to undergo the Passion, we deprive ourselves of His glory until we experience it at the Resurrection of Easter Vigil.
The veiling this year is particularly meaningful for us. Whilst we are fasting from God’s glory, and deprived of public Masses, the veiling is also symbolic of God’s silence. We are facing a health crisis that threatens every fibre and fabric of our social existence. Hence the veiling reminds us, both individuals and society, to turn back to God and to beseech Him to deliver us from the scourge of this pestilence. Only God can protect and save us.
As we endure the MCO, let us wait on the Lord by continuing with our daily rosary marathon. We beseech God that He may heed our prayers.