Facing challenging times ahead

In the light of the ‘Allah’ issue and other insecurities minority religions are experiencing in Malaysia today, we Catholics must fortify and arm ourselves in anticipation of more to come.

Aug 07, 2014

Dear Editor,
In the light of the ‘Allah’ issue and other insecurities minority religions are experiencing in Malaysia today, we Catholics must fortify and arm ourselves in anticipation of more to come. Like a tsunami effect, we may not realize that our religious freedom and rights are gradually being eroded. We need to wake up from our slumber and proactively be prepared and be a force to be reckoned with. We can always adopt a ‘que sera sera’ attitude but in so doing, are we being true to ourselves and our children and grandchildren after us?

Being a communion of communities in a Modern World, we should work from the grass roots level to make a difference. We should search ourselves and explore what we could do as an individual, family, community, parish and diocese. We are the body of Christ and we each have to play a role in defending, preserving and propagating our faith in Malaysia. Here are some soul-searching questions to help us explore areas that call for improvement and action.

1. Am I content to be a submarine Catholic who only comes alive on Sundays?
2. Am I consciously growing in my faith by discovering and probing deeper into what I believe in and why I believe? Do I feel uncomfortable discussing my religion with others?
3. Do I keep myself updated on the current teachings of the Catholic Church and the direction in which it is heading? Do I read newsletters like the HERALD, periodicals like Catholic Asian News and familiarize myself with Catholic sites on social media? Do I know and understand Pope Francis’ vision for the Catholic Church?
4. When was the last time I attended any of the many seminars and talks organized by Church ministries like Youcat, Alpha, Catholicism, Oremus or Quick Journey through the Bible to deepen my faith? Have I ever attended a retreat in order to see the future more clearly?
5. Have I attended any inter-religious dialogues or read up on the other world religions to gain a better understanding of their doctrines and beliefs? Do I have a clear knowledge of other religions or are my views distorted?
6. Do I ensure that my family members are updated on current happenings on race and religion in the country like the Allah issue, apostasy, body snatching, religious freedom etc.?
7. Is there a need to review our Sunday school curriculum and syllabus to equip our children better to face the world? Are our Sunday school teachers trained adequately to provide a solid, religious foundation for our children to face the world of tomorrow?
8. Are our BECs still inward looking or reaching out to the non-Catholics in our respective communities?
9. On a parish level, do we know the statistics of the other religions within our parish footprint? Have we reached out in fellowship and dialogue with any of them?
10. How many parishes in Malaysia have a Parish Ministry of Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Affairs (PMEIA) to pray, reach out and dialogue with other religions?
11. On a national level, is the Catholic Church vocal enough to speak up and make a stand on issues that could impact Catholics nationwide?
12. Do we have enough Catholic leaders in politics brave enough to effect changes in government policies for the good of the whole?
13. Do we pray regularly for greater peace and harmony within Malaysia, privately or with others?

These are some suggestions that could arm us individually, and as a Church, to face greater challenges in the future. Let us be better prepared than we now are. We must prepare ourselves to face further challenges. There must be change and that change begins with us. As Michael Jackson says in the song “Man in the Mirror,” we must look at ourselves and make that change.

Angeline Lesslar
Subang Jaya

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