Editor’s Note

Come back to me with all your heart, don’t let fear keep us apart …. Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new lives .

May 13, 2022

Come back to me with all your heart, don’t let fear keep us apart …. Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new lives …

These lyrics from the hymn ‘Hosea’ aptly describe the call being echoed by the clergy to the faithful as we resume public worship in our churches, minus the limited capacity.

“Come back to church … come and serve in the ministries” are among the appeals being made to the faithful at every weekend Mass and in the parish bulletins. Observations have shown that the congregation have not returned in full force in some parishes.

This is a far cry from the time when the faithful were sending in appeal after appeal to the Arch/bishops to reopen the churches during the pandemic. Accusations were hurled at our shepherds for being afraid and not having faith in God. ‘How can you deny us the right to the Eucharist’ was one of the often repeated lamentations.

However, now that we are able to return to church, there appears to be a lethargy among the faithful. Gone are the images that we may have conjured up of people rushing in droves to attend Mass. A significant proportion of the faith community have opted to continue practising their faith online. They have found online worship simply more convenient.

Some people have unabashedly admitted to becoming so accustomed to attending Mass while seated comfortably on their couches. They have foregone the standing, kneeling, bowing and other gestures made at Mass. After almost two years of online service, they have transgressed from ‘attending’ Mass to ‘watching’ Mass, so much so that now having returned to church, they have to ‘re-learn’ or ‘re-condition’ themselves to become active participants.

So, it’s not a surprise that many parishes are now commencing ‘revival-type’ programmes, with the Life in the Spirit Seminars (LSS) being one of them. Bishop Sebastian Francis, who is the Episcopal Advisor for the Peninsular Malaysia Service Team, recently urged prayer groups to organise these programmes in the parishes and dioceses (see Run Life in the Spirit Seminars, Pg 5)

This begs the question, have the restrictions and SOPs imposed on church-goers during the pandemic broken our worship habits? Has it taken a toll on our faith life and weakened our connection to the Eucharist? (see Time for Catholics to return to Mass, Pg 8)

Sometimes, we seasoned Catholics can become jaded, or at the least, we fall into routine about the great reality of the Eucharist. Just think how our love for Christ’s great gift of Himself could be renewed if we can step back and look anew on the Eucharist — with the eyes of a child receiving his or her First Communion, or from the perspective of the newly baptised who have found Jesus.

On another note, news on the closure of Catholic News Service’s domestic operations in the US may come as a surprise to many (see Back page). To quote David Gibson, who wrote an opinion piece in the National Catholic Reporter …
‘Catholic News Service has been one of the most independent and highly regarded denominational news agencies in the US and the world; the tales of CNS editors, backed by a less compliant generation of Church officials, rejecting demands by angry churchmen to spike a story or rewrite it the way they like, are worthy of the best secular media legends.’

Indeed, as Catholic media, we sometimes face the dilemma of whether or not to run a story. We have to weigh the pros and cons of whether it will offend our Catholic community, or not. Will our actions lead to people losing their faith in the hierarchy or the Catholic Church at large? Will we cause unity or division?

At the same time, we cannot be seen merely as a tool for propaganda. We need to have a balance of positive and, what some may term ‘negative’ news about the Church. So it was after much prayer and discernment that we have decided to carry the news on the sex abuse case in Singapore (see Page 10).

Stories on sex abuse in the Church are nothing new – there are many ongoing cases which we read about, in both the secular and Catholic media. However, we may not have felt affected because many of these incidents happened a long time ago and happened in parts of the world distant from us. But now we hear of an incident which literally happened next door. This is indeed a wake-up call for all of us. The reality is that such dangers lurk within the Church in many shapes and forms (see I am an abuse survivor, Pg 11). So together, let us do what is necessary to protect the young and vulnerable.

We also ask for your continued support of HERALD as we aspire to inform and inspire the Catholic community.

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