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Pls note that there is no publication of the SIC Church Bulletin and Mass Intentions until further notice.

Discovering Deeper Meaning of Christmas

Christmas just a few days ago was extraordinary in many ways. Due to the unabating Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia and restrictions imposed on travelling, gathering & socialising, there was not much of the usual excitement this Christmas with the singing of carols in shopping malls & over the radio; last-minute shopping for Christmas presents; and for Catholics in particular – attending Mass.

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For the benefit of parishioners, St Ignatius Church (SIC) conducted live webcasts of Masses on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day with cantata & carolling, and videos of season’s greetings from church ministries & BECs. The church building was decorated and a crib set up for parishioners to pray & reflect from 1 pm to 7 pm on Christmas Day. Refreshments & finger food were also provided in the church cafeteria for a quick snack before parishioners leave for home.

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Below is an article titled My Five Minutes Before the Crib in St Ignatius Church on Christmas Day which describes the author’s visit to the crib & chance encounter with SIC Parish Priest Fr Andrew Wong CDD.

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I lost it when I stepped into the church after months of not being able to. Tears were just flowing. Our parish is St Ignatius Church in Petaling Jaya and the parish priest had gotten permission from the KL Archdiocese to allow parishioners to come and pray at the crib in the church on Christmas Day. And my husband and I grabbed the opportunity. This time last year, I was someone who took church, masses, the priests and Holy Communion for granted. There were times when I felt masses got in the way of my social life and church events were dreary. Not anymore.

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Tears started to flow as I walked into the church on Friday and looked up at that familiar sight – Jesus on the cross on the wall and the tabernacle. The Holy Eucharist. It felt like I had come home for Christmas. The tears were flowing fast and strong and the mask was getting soaked. I wanted to use up the five minutes allotted to us as much as I could. But no prayers or praises came out, only tears. Tears of frustration, anger and fear.

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The pandemic robbed me of all things normal and for months I had put up a brave front but when I knelt before the baby at the crib, I lost it. My facade slipped off and exposed my true feelings. He made me see that inside I was still holding on to so much anger and resentment. I was angry with just about everyone and everything for taking church away from me. A sense of helplessness came over me and made me see that there was nothing I could do about all this. More tears flowed.

Then something inside me asked: “How far was I willing to go for Christ?”. All those times I sang songs about giving everything to Him and surrendering myself to Him seemed empty now. Was I really truthful when I said I am Yours, Lord Jesus? My faith in Jesus cannot be conditional. Now is my chance to show that I am willing to let nothing get in the way of my faithfulness and obedience to Him. And what is outside will not diminish my love for Him.

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I picked myself up and walked away from the crib and out of the church, not sure when I’ll be able to return for masses again. But my heart was filled with the assurance that He who is in me is greater than anything out there. I am willing to face anything because He is with me. Our sacristan told us that our parish priest Fr Andrew Wong CDD was waiting in a nearby room with refreshments. We went there not knowing what to expect. And then we saw Fr Andrew. He had been there since 1 pm and it was close to 6 pm now. This was his chance to meet the parishioners for some personal time with them. He said he wanted to see us all personally because it has been a long time since he did.

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We took this time to find out more about Fr Andrew. There were only three of us in that room at that time with the buffet table between us. He told us that he left a high-paying job as a chartered accountant to serve God, and how his late parents were open to him dedicating his life to God although he was the only son. God’s only Son humbled Himself before the cross. The Wong family’s only son is serving the sheep in St Ignatius Church. And I was reminded of the question I was grappling with earlier – how far am I willing to go for Christ?

Videos & photos of Christmas Mass at SIC taken by the Parish Communication Team (PCT) are available at SIC Youtube Channel and Parish Life in Pictures. More faith-filled stories are available at Vanitha’s blog titled Journey With Us - Asia.

 
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