Universalis

Do you pray in public?

Do you pray in public? If so, do you give thanks always and everywhere, as the Prefaces to the Eucharistic prayers suggest we should? Do you pray discreetly or do you always make the Sign of the Cross quite overtly?

I am usually make the Sign of the Cross before praying the Grace before Meals. Some of my friends do likewise. And I do this even if I'm eating in a Muslim restaurant, e.g. a prata shop or a nasi padang shop.

What is your practice of praying in public?

PS: The post title is a link to an article on the topic. Alternatively, you may click here.

Good reads: Other blogs; Teri Schiavo

I shared this with John Goh. Reading this brought tears to my eyes, especially near the end where the text of the Nunc Dimittis appears.

Here is something on the Teri Schiavo case. Never knew her real name was Theresa. The article is long, but worth the read. Gives a lot of background that the popular press omitted.

Two blogs that I'd recommend. Here is one by a priest, and here is one a Dominican novice.

Online Poll: What is your theological worldview?


You scored as Roman Catholic. You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic

93%

Neo orthodox

82%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

82%

Emergent/Postmodern

64%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

57%

Classical Liberal

46%

Modern Liberal

25%

Reformed Evangelical

21%

Fundamentalist

14%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Just took a quiz on my theological worldview. hehe..

Really, I dunno what it would mean to get 100% catholic. Would that mean i'm ultra conservative? Its interesting to note that I am supposedly 57% pentecostal, and 64% postmodern and thank goodness i'm only 14% fundamentalist, although I'd rather not at all.

Abortion, a necessary evil?

On behalf of La Bona, I've posted this up seperately so that anyone can comment on it. - CY

I am inviting your views on ABORTION in order to present a case to help those in the developing world.

I personally see abortion as a NECESSARY EVIL and that unwanted pregnancy is not only a personal problem and it is also a very real problem for the society at large.

Do you think it is right to burden say a 15 years old school-going girl with a new life when she is yet to have any economic mean to sustain herself and obviously, most girls of her age are not mentally ready for a family life. Furthermore, is it fair to rob her of her career, aspiration, dream etc., in the name of preserving a life that is yet to be fully developed?

If you have an opinion, please email it to me at divinetalk@gmail.com or if you wish, you may post your comment here: Your Opinion Counts!

Thanks,
La Bona

On the recent changes to the way we celebrate mass in Singapore

In recent times, notably after Archbishop Nicholas Chia was ordained, I have noticed a few changes to the way mass is celebrated.

The first change was when all the Eucharistic ministers were no longer wearing cassocks but only a white sash and long sleeve white shirts, black trousers and tie. They were also more often being referred to as extraordinary ministers of communion(EMOC). They were also no longer standing on the altar but had a pew reserved for them.

At communion time, it used to be that the celebrant and the EMOCs would give out communion. Now, all the priests are involved in giving communion.

As Chris had earlier noted, his choir has now started to sing the Pater Noster in Latin.

Overall, I sense that mass is being celebrated with an increasing awareness of the theology of mass and a better study of the Conciliar and post conciliar documents of Vatican II(VaII). But wait a minute, isn't singing the Pater Noster in Latin contradictory to VaII's decree for the mass to be in vernacular.

Frankly, we must be very careful about listening to anyone who refers to VaII and what it says. Unless it comes from a reputable authority, I feel it is still best to read the document yourself and come to some conclusion of your own. Take for example the introduction of the vernacular in our Eucharistic celebration. You probably have been given the strong impression that VaII says that the Eucharist should be celebrated in the vernacular, so that more people can participate and understand what is being said. That VaII states that the priest must face the people during mass (versus populum rather than ad orientem). That VaII says that we must join hands at the time when we sing the Pater Noster (Our Father).

The sad fact is that VaII and its documents has been severely misquoted at some points to support the "abuses" that have occurred in the way we celebrate mass.

I will only deal with the use of vernacular and the introduction of the Pater Noster in latin. Here is the often misquoted portion on the use of vernaculer.

Sacrosanctam Concilium, Chapter III on reform of the Liturgy, C) Norms based upon the didactic and pastoral nature of the Liturgy, point 36.

1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.

It is not difficult to see that it is not that Latin should be totally excluded from the liturgy, but that the vernacular should be included at certain points of the mass.

With the RE-introduction of the Latin chant of Pater Noster into our mass, there is seemingly a move to correct or find a equilibrium between the use of vernacular and the preservation of Latin, as was first deliberated upon in the document and the council fathers. Furthermore the use of chant was supposed to be given pride of place.

Sacrosanctam Concilium, Chapter IV on Sacred music.
116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.
But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.

117. The typical edition of the books of Gregorian chant is to be completed; and a more critical edition is to be prepared of those books already published since the restoration by St. Pius X.

I would not be surprised that we would see more Latin chant being introduced back, and the priest singing a bit more than usual. there is also talk about not joining hands during the Pater Noster (Do I hear gasps?) But more importantly, with the age of the internet and the increased availability of church documents, coupled with the higher education level of Catholics in Singapore, it is inexcusable if we were not more aware of what the council documents say and not more critical of abuses in the way liturgy is celebrated.

The re-introduction of Latin chant for the Pater Noster is only a superficial signal to the observance of the council's teaching on the liturgy and the norms that have been decreed. For everything that was decreed in the documents and the norms of the liturgy do not exist without a reason. Every action, every word uttered has a deep theological meaning that it gives expression to. I am personally beginning to discover more, the richness of our liturgy, and I invite you all to examine the documents and help educate one another on the highest form of our Catholic worship.

You can read Sacrosanctam Concilium or Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy at http://www.ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/v2litur.htm

I have also been recommended to read Pope Benedict's Feast of Faith, written when he was known as Cardinal Ratzinger.

Should Catholics read the Da Vinci Code?

I remember when the Catholic News first posted a writeup on The Da Vinci Code, it included a priest (can't remember who) who implied that a good Catholic should not read the book because we should not expose ourselves to falsehood. I disagreed very strongly with that point. A good Catholic should read the book (borrow, don't buy), because many, many people, Christians and non-Christians, have read the book and have formed opinions based on it. To be a Christian in touch with the world is to understand and be able to correct these misconceptions should the opportunity present itself. After all a true, strong faith is one that is forged in fire, and not one sheltered from infancy. It's ironic that the second article by CN is subtitled "some advice from Father Henry Siew to people who cannot resist reading the book".

Just as a point interest, my students in NJC are very much still interested in the book. We set them a response paper asking them to critique a summary of the arguments in the Da Vinci code. Many had excellent responses while some truly believed Dan Brown's arguments.

Also, being very much knowledgable of early Christian belief in the Eucharist, why did Leonardo Da Vinci leave out the chalice in The Last Supper?


Detail of The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci

Should we sing the 'Our Father' in Latin?

In the past few weeks, my church choir has started singing the 'Our Father' in Latin. I'm not sure whose decision it was, and whether this has been instituted in all the churches, but I'm not so sure that it is such a good thing, especially when one of the principles of the revised General Instructions of the Roman Missal is that "participation of the faithful is the goal to be considered before all others".

I quite like the Latin version in fact. I think that it is good to change things about the way we celebrate mass because as human beings we will eventually find things repetative and stale. But people need to be taught in a systematic way how to understand and pray the Latin words. Otherwise, it will become a rote song and a meaningless prayer. I also disagree if someone thinks that it is good to sing in Latin because we are returning to our traditional "roots" - the way it was sung 40 years ago. If they want that why don't we sing it in Aramaic?

Does your church sing the 'Our Father' in Latin? Do you think we should?

--
If you have not heard it before, I have a beautiful version sung by the late pope here. (right-click and save-as)

Pater noster qui es in coelis,
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum,
fiat voluntas tua,
sicut in coelo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
et ne nos inducas in tentationem
sed libera nos a malo.

How Catholic are our Catholic Schools in Singapore?

A concerned mother wrote into the Catholic News last week to say that Catholic schools (SJI and CJC in her case) were not open to accepting her son. The archdiocese has recently appealed to parents to give their children a Catholic eduction. These schools are made up of a large population of non-catholics - should not these schools make extra efforts to allow a Catholic child in, she asks?

I have been extremely priveledged to study in the Catholic schools mentioned above. I do know that in recent years SJI and CJC have raised their cutoff points at the expense of letting the weaker Catholic students in. I believe that it was necessary to the extent that Catholic education in general needed a boost in prestige and quality; CJC did have a reputation for being a lousy college academically and SJI could not compete with the top independent schools. They also rationalise that there are a whole range of Catholics schools that cater to all types of students.

However, I am truly curious as to whether the other Catholic schools offer a proper Catholic education as well. I have heard rumours that some Catholic schools are not very Catholic at all, being run by secular principals and all. Maris stella and St. Patrick's seem to have something in place; what about the rest? Is anybody able to share on this?

Interesting Gems in Catholic News June 26th

I found the June 26th 2005 edition of the Catholic News a rich read. It contained a number of good articles:

  1. One on why Colombo's Catholics are leaving the church for Pentecostal Churches because of "At the AOG(Assemblies of God) we are taught to pray with fervor and talk directly with God, instead of asking statues of saints to intercede for us. We are also taught the Bible, something the Catholic Church does not do," (pg 4).
  2. One titled "Decoding 'The Da Vinci Code'" and subtitled as "some advice from Father Henry Siew to people who cannot resist reading the book". (15)
  3. A piece on the revised general instruction of the roman missal. (16)
  4. And a forum letter from a mum that wanted her child to go to a Catholic school but was rejected by both SJI and CJ. (17)

So if you've missed this issue or glossed over it, maybe you would like to get your hands on a copy and take a look at these gems.

Desmond Tam

Last week, a person from my choir passed away suddenly. There was a writeup about him in the papers. Here is a eulogy written by my choir conductor. I hope he nor you all will mind that I post this up:

Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness and loss that I am sending this email. As most of our members here in Singapore will know by now, Desmond Tam passed away last Friday. He suffered a massive heart attack after an evening jog with Andrina. We share in Andrina's sudden loss and grieve with her over this tragic passing. Desmond was the only child and his parent's loss must be very hard on them as well. He was only 29 years old.

I remember Desmond as always being a smiling and enthusiastic tenor, even willing to cantor whenever we were in need of one. Together with Andrina, they helped make 2002's Car Rally a great success with their manning of the games section at St Bernadette. As a member of Catholic High School's teaching staff pointed out during his funeral mass, Desmond was always willing and responsible. His passing will affect all of us, especially those of us who had the privilege of having him and Andrina join us at choir.

According to Andrina, Desmond had a profound love for singing and thoroughly enjoyed the songs that the choir sang. Genesis Choir had the greatest honour in being able to bid farewell to him by sining at his funeral mass which was well and truly attended. Even my dad remembers him from his days as President of the Young Vincentians, a off-shoot of the church's St Vincent de Paul Society. Representatives of the Cheshire Home were also present at his funeral, paying tribute to the man who had so often and so unselfishly helped to wheel the handicapped from Serangoon Gardens Way to church for mass during those hot and sweaty Sunday mornings.

We mourn Desmond's loss and it is my hope that we continue to support Andrina who has expressed her wish to rejoin the choir. She had fulfilled Desmond's wish by singing with us at his funeral mass.

...

Eternal rest grant onto Desmond O Lord and let perpertual light shine upon
him. May Desmond rest in peace, Amen.

Jerry Tan
One of the songs we sang during his funeral mass was the Prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
To me, it describes Desmond so much and is so apt. I never saw this prayer in this way before. So give thanks and treasure your days; the Lord has called a good man home.