“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain,” (1 Cor 15:14). With these convincing words of St. Paul, we have celebrated Easter in a very simple manner but with deep faith knowing that Christ is truly risen from the dead. He is alive! We rejoice and are glad!
This year, we celebrated the Easter Triduum in our own homes by following the live streaming of masses / services, with our respective families. Although it seemed like a rather strange experience, it wasn’t an empty, meaningless or insignificant celebration. It was in fact a glorious celebration of faith in the Risen Lord which truly proved that our unfailing faith is not in vain. This unprecedented time of uncertainty has assisted us to go through a new reality of experiencing our faith. Today, we are one – one in the spirit of Easter Joy as we wonderfully exclaim – “Sing Alleluia, the Lord is Risen, He is Risen indeed, Alleluia!”
Since the beginning of the Lenten season, Masses were suspended in all churches. However, I was hoping that this global pandemic would have ended at least before the Easter Triduum. I was planning to have a beautiful Holy Week celebration with my Parishioners to mark the commemoration of the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (the Paschal Mystery). Unfortunately, it was not to be. I felt sad and perhaps a little lonely, celebrating the Easter Triduum Masses in an empty Church, which would, in normal circumstances, have been packed to overflowing with the faithful.
We are still unable to attend mass in Church, and every one of us is patiently waiting for the day when we can return to Church as usual for the Eucharistic celebrations, formations and other parish activities. For now, it looks like we may only be able to return to Church towards the third quarter of the year – which means that the Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Wesak festivals would be affected as well. I hope that God will continue to strengthen us and help us to keep our faith alive in this trying time. He still exists in our midst and He will not abandon his people as He says – “I will be Your God, you shall be My People,” (Jer 7:23).
The feast day of our Parish Patron Saint – St Joseph, the Worker, is soon approaching. This year, although we will not be celebrating the feast in church, due to this unprecedented crisis, I have planned something for 1st May 2020. It is meant to be a surprise, so stay tuned for further details!
We will begin the Novena to St Joseph from Wednesday, 22 April until Friday, 1 May 2020. I will forward the Novena Prayer to St Joseph everyday through WhatsApp for circulation among our Parishioners throughout the novena days. I am planning to have an hour’s Adoration with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, whilst incorporating the Evening Prayer (Vespers) from 5.00 to 6.00pm which will be live-streamed via Facebook live video (https://www.facebook.com/stjosephsentul/live/) throughout the nine days from our Church. (I will update you on this, once details have been finalised). Immediately after that you could follow the 6pm online Mass which is currently being live streamed everyday by the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur (tv.archkl.org). We must thank God for the development of the digital world and social media which enables us to participate in the Eucharistic celebrations online and stay united in prayer with the Church.
I believe most of you (if not all) are following the live streamed daily Mass. I still remember a few years ago when some Parishioners enquired about participating in online Masses – is this valid? Does the Catholic Church encourage online Masses? I firmly told them that the Catholic Church would never encourage this because there is a requirement and an obligation to attend Mass in Church, except for those who are homebound or for other health reasons. However today, due to this Coronavirus pandemic, following online Masses has become obligatory – at least until we get back to Church.
Ever since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced throughout the nation, life has become a little boring and emotionally challenging and many are growing impatient. Freedom to move around is restricted as we are mostly confined to our homes, albeit for our own safety and well-being. We are now in the third phase of the MCO, which started on 15 April and will go on until 28 April 2020. We have already completed 4-weeks of the MCO, and God willing this trying period will be over soon.
In the meantime, do take the time and make the effort to evaluate our faith, our lives, and our relationship with God as well as with own family members. Of course, this virus is threatening all of mankind, but it will put us in the right perspective in terms of our connection with God, humanity and the world. In this time of uncertainty, be assured that God will make all things beautiful. He will ‘reset’, ‘restart’ and ‘refresh’ planet Earth. It is like our gadgets – sometimes they stall or breakdown, and we need to refresh or restart them again so that it can go on functioning as usual. So, as we reboot our lives after the Movement Control Order (MCO), let us be wiser and remember to always grow and glow in the Spirit, to live a life as One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 811-812).