After recitation of the rosary together as a church community, BEC core team members gathered at the Costantini Commnity Centre car park and processed into church to signal the start of this year's Parish Feast Triduum on Thursday 31 July. The Novena to Saint Ignatius of Loyola was recited followed by High Mass with Fr Edwin Paul (Parish Priest, Church of St Paul The Hermit) as the main celebrant and SIC Parish Priest Fr Lucas Ng as concelebrant. As the parish pastoral theme for this year is Caring & Sharing, United in Christ, Fr Edwin preached the Caring aspect during his homily. He pointed out that In the information age we live in today with so much bad news, we have become insensitive. To be caring is to be sensitive to the needs of others and what is happening elsewhere. We can also become so self-centred and comfortable that we cannot go out of ourselves. Even worse is self-absorption – to eat (kill) oneself – akin to a cancer. A lot of self-absorption is present in families and BECs, which makes BECs almost impossible.
Fr Edwin used the Parable of the Good Samaritan to emphasise that pains and prejudices can also stop us from caring. An example of our prejudice is our lack of care towards migrants or those belonging to a different religion. The world needs us as followers of Christ to start to care by moving out of self-absorption, to be aware of what is happening around us. We have to start thinking of the people we need to love or care. In concluding, Fr Edwin urged parishioners to Dare to Care. Care will make the world, parish, BEC, family and neighbourhood a better place.
On the following night, it was the turn of representatives from church ministries to form the procession into church after reciting the rosary. As was done on the day before, the Novena to Saint Ignatius of Loyola was recited followed by Mass with Fr Edwin as the main celebrant and SIC Assistant Parish Priest Fr Andrew Wong as concelebrant. In his preaching on the Sharing aspect of the Triduum theme, Fr Edwin said sharing is the other side of caring – there is no caring without sharing and vice versa. As God's people, every Christian is a sharer in God's divine life and what He gives. At every Eucharistic celebration, we listen to and share in His Word.
Fr Edwin opined that the teaching and nursing professions are amongst the least desired nowadays as, apart from work pressure and dealing with difficult students and patients, teachers and nurses have to serve and care in the most vulnerable situations. Teachers are present in the sunrise of our life whilst nurses are there in the sunset. These two professions have a lot of elements of service in them. Another example of a less-desired profession is that of care-givers in nursing homes taking care of the aged. There are many nursing homes nowadays because we ourselves are not ready to care, so we outsource the caring to others. Fr Edwin also gave several examples of the dimension of sharing by the Catholic Church. They include collections for Peter's Pence, upkeep of the Holy Land, Lenten campaign, migrants, and outreach activities by BECs and ministries.
Fr Edwin encourage parents and grandparents to continue teaching their children and grandchildren to share. He gave the example of children handing over money during collections in church as one aspect of learning to share. The social dimension of sharing is very strong in the Catholic Church, with parishioners willingly donating money for disaster and humanitarian relief efforts, for instance. Fr Edwin encourage all to continue uplifting humanity which is created by God, whether the poor, destitute, migrants or abused – because we are working, sharing. To make his point further, he pointed out SIC patron saint's wise words: Love is shown more in deeds than in words. Another type of sharing is to share in the pain of our family, friends and those closest to us. We do this by listening to their burdens and struggles in order to uplift them. Concurrently on the first two days, Fr Simon Ee CDD was the celebrant at the Triduum Mass for the Mandarin-speaking community at Costantini Community Centre.
On the final day of the Triduum, the bilingual High Mass was celebrated by Fr Edwin and CDD Frs Simon, Lucas and Andrew were the concelebrants. Explaining the final part of the theme - United in Christ - being United is to be gathered together light at Mass. To be united is something very fundamental to any group. There is, however, much disunity in the world today with one country against another, one social group against another, and so on. Unity is also important in the Church. It is relational, not just doing things together. Faith is the relationship that we have with God. This faith is brought up at different levels – love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. Be in harmony with God, with others and ourselves.
In Jesus, strangers become friends. And this group of friends is the Church, the Body of Christ, a life-giving community. For unity to be sustained in this Body of Christ, there must be mutual respect, trust, love, understanding and forgiveness. Jesus prayed that we as Church have this unity, as he has prayed to the Father that we may be one as the Father and him are one. God wants us to be united – no unity, no Christianity. Unity makes us a caring person, vice versa a caring person makes us united. Same for sharing.
In closing, Fr Lucas thanked Frs Edwin and Simon for helping to make the Triduum a success. Fr Lucas was presented with a surprise birthday cake and song after Dismissal. Priests joined parishioners for a fellowship meal after Mass.
Click here to view more photos of our Triduum.
Photography: John Ari Ragai & Peter Law