Let me start by thanking you for your kind words and support. Just in case you may be wondering, I have been in Johor Bahru all this while. I had some enquiries asking if I am stuck in Kuala Lumpur. I want to be here to celebrate private Masses for the intentions which had been received before the MCO kicked in and also, to be available in cases of emergency.
We are creatures of habit, bad habits mostly. Many of us are! We are used to the kind of connexion which is superficial at best. Now left on our own and with few avenues to escape, we have the possibility of using social communication in a sustained and meaningful way. For example, instead of a hi and goodbye, we can take time to call those whom we have been meaning to connect with. Try to look out for relatives or friends who might appreciate a little bit of attention which in an otherwise busy world, we may not have time for. As for recreation, there are only so many movies that one can binge-watch. Hence, we can also be creatures of good habits. With extra time on our hand, God has given it to us to help us reconnect with Him. I hope our Parish daily Rosary initiative from 6 am to 8 pm (ending with the Chaplet of Mercy) is still on-going. For me, at 10 am, after the morning Mass, I stroll around the Cathedral praying the rosary with Bernard our Sacristan. We pray the four mysteries—the Joyful, the Luminous, the Sorrowful and the Glorious at one go. The prayer takes about an hour. At 1 pm, it becomes my turn to trail Bernard as he takes his slot to pray the Rosary. I am hopeful that many of you are doing exactly this—joining in prayer. These daily spiritual routines sustain us and will dispose us to recognise how God moves in our lives. God can make good come out of evil and here in the midst of this tragedy, He is inviting us in our solitude and solidarity, to turn back to Him in prayer.
I am glad to share that after the last pastoral letter, donations have started to flow in. We are still in the process of setting up “Jompay” or “Duitnow” to make it easier for those who would like to contribute for the parish upkeep as well as to help the poor. The formula is simple. For every RM1 we receive, RM0.75 goes for Church upkeep and RM0.25 will be used for the support of the poor.
Our Holy Week is almost at our doorstep and I would like to furnish you with some useful information. NOTE that whilst Masses have been suspended and the obligation to attend Masses has been abrogated during the period of the MCO, as your parish priest, I am obliged to celebrate Masses for the people (sadly, without the people being present). Hence, the times are posted so as to allow you to join me spiritually in offering the Sacrifice of the Mass. During such times, you can and should receive the Lord, albeit, spiritually. The great Redemptorist founder, St Alphonsus Ligouri composed this prayer which may help you receive spiritual Communion.
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
As the veiling of the Crucifix in Church reminds us, Christ has hid Himself from us. But, let us not hide from Him. Let us ask that He manifest Himself in our lives as we desire to live according to His will.
I am deeply conscious that Masses will be celebrated in an empty Church but I believe that the absence of public Masses has created a spiritual unity amongst us. Even though we are apart, spiritually, we are united in the Sacrifice of the Eucharist. I cannot wait for public Masses to resume and our Cathedral to be filled with the communion of joy and laughter of the brothers and sisters in Christ.
For now, this is the Mass schedule for Holy Week.
Palm Sunday at 9 am. Monday to Wednesday of Holy Week at 9am Holy Thursday at 7 pm. Good Friday at 3 pm (Service of the Cross) Easter Vigil at 11 pm. Easter Sunday at 10 am.
In spiritual union, let us pray that the Lord will bring an end to this pestilence, cleanse us of our sins and restore us to life.
God bless each and everyone of you. Padre
Post-script: Subsequent to the first pastoral letter, POHD has updated the list of names for contact should help or assistance be needed. They are available for interview and assessment. 1. Nancy - 01131663008 (E) 2. Bernard - 0167386202 (E) 3. Pauline - 0127117139 (E and M) 4. Stephen Wong - 0168851348 (M)
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.
SHC Parish Office | 圣堂办公室
+607-332 6831 +607-331 5511 firstname.lastname@example.org Office Hours | 办公时间表 Mon - Fri : 9.00am to 5.00pm (Lunch Break: 1.00-2.00pm) Sat: 9.00am to 1.00pm | Sun: 9.00am to 12.00noon Closed on Public Holidays