Pope's remarks on Islam

Don't really have a proper commentary on this, but it seems that the recent incident of Pope Benedict's remarks on Islam is a positive demonstration of how we should handle matters that arise now and then in the public sphere. Bro. Micheal Broughton gave a very lucid and exemplary interview to the CatholicNews, which was reprinted by the TODAY newspaper. The CatholicNews should also be commended for coming out very quickly with a full spread of articles relating to the matter, the interview of course, as well as the Pope's full speech. Best of all, the archibishop issued a public statement, read at all churches, stating publicly our sincerity and apology. In my view, this whole affair was dealt with promptly, appropriately, gracefully, professionally. Well done. Let's pray that future affairs may be handled as such.

In fact, the pope's words seem to reflect a growing need for us to engage the public sphere, i.e. the rest of the word. His invitation to Muslim leaders, but more so his very initial words show that he is not afraid to speak out and take a stand on issues. Thus, there is a need for us to not shy away from the media but to learn how to use it effectively to engage others.

The pope's remarks are controversial, but thought-provoking. Fundamentally, it is a call to reason, or rather, a call to connect our faith and reason. Indeed, it is my belief that a lot of the worlds ills are caused by today's faithful disregarding reason, and today's thinkers disregarding faith. This is a rather deep point that maybe some of us can reflect upon. Have you thought and understood enough about your faith and the world?

This Blog is in Desperate Need of Spiritual Direction!

This blog is in desperate need of spiritual direction.

Please pray for us.

(and leave your comments if you have any)

Some links to ponder:

Gregorian Chant in September


21 September 2006

Feast of St Matthew
Mass with Gregorian Chant

8 pm
Church of St Teresa

24 September 2006

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Vespers and Compline

8 pm
Adoration Room
Church of Sts Peter and Paul

Translations are provided for all events.

Should the Catholic Church employ more professional laypersons?

One of the issues brought up in a previous post was that the Catholic Church should attract more professionals by offering them a higher pay. I would like to address this issue, as suggested by Chris, by bringing it up in a separate post.

FIRSTLY, the Catholic Church does employ a good number of people already, some with years (or decades) of experience in their field, often a very specific field, such as in pastoral care. Many of the people employed in the Catholic Church have a job scope that is specific towards the Catholic Church's needs, and there are very few people who meet those qualifications, regardless of their job experience in the secular world.

For example, if the diocese is looking for a highly qualified catechist, it would not offer an attractive pay even if its applicants are former teachers and lecturers of many years of experience, simply because while their experience in the secular world is of some use, they lack the specificity required in that particular job.

It is more than a mere job switch, it is closer to a career switch, since the aim, regardless of the job, tends to be quite different. As such, why should the Church pay a professional an attractive pay, if his profession is not exactly what the Church is looking for? Using the example of catechist, only one who has been trained in the specific field of catechism deserves such a pay.

SECONDLY, I certainly do believe that the majority of Church employees are already receiving a reasonable pay. If not, how would they be able to survive this long in such a job? Furthermore, how many Church employees have left their job solely because they are not being paid enough? None that I know of. Can anyone give a figure?

In the secular world, it would seem that many people never seem satisfied with their pay. People often leave their job for another because of a higher pay.

Some questions raised on this issue are:

- Is working in the Church just another job?
- How much does one consider a reasonable pay?
- Could one do with a lower pay by cutting down on unnecessary forms of expenditure, for example?

If insufficient pay really is the issue that makes working in the Church unattractive to some people, then I would say the reason for wanting to work in the Church is somewhat questionable. After all, what Church employees are paid is already reasonable, as shown in their length of employment. What may be a reasonable pay to some may be too low for others, but this is a subjective matter. Church employees have and still show that the Church does provide for them reasonably well.

THIRDLY and perhaps most importantly, a professional layperson is more valuable to the Church by being a Christian where he is in the professional world, than by being working in the Church. The laity is the front line of the Church in the world. If he is indeed a professional and good at what he does, then he will definitely do more good out there than working in the Church.

In an ideal situation, positions within the Catholic Church should be filled up by religious and priests. These minister to the laity, who in turn carry out the work of evangelisation. But we are not in an ideal situation, and we have far too few religious and priests, hence the need to hire laity to fill up roles that should rightfully be filled by the religious and priests.

The professionals, by virtue of their capabilities, belong in the secular world where they do the Church the most good there. This is, after all, the mission of the laity.

IN SUMMARY, the points are:

1. Lack of specificity in profession does not justify an attractive pay.

2. Using a higher pay to attract better workers raises the question of motive of working in the Church.

3. The mission of the laity is to be a Christian in the world. Professionals, by virtue of their capability, do the most good for the Church in the secular world.

What are your thoughts on this?

Singapore - The Malay Archipelago - Alfred Russell Wallace

I was reading this chapter on Singapore written by Lord Alfred Russell Wallace (Yes, the compatriot of Charles Darwin) who was in Singapore around 1854, and there was a quaint little entry about St. Joseph's Church! It would be lovely to get my hands on the recently published book about the history of the church in Singapore. Does anyone know the title and where to get it? Anway, click on the link above to read the whole of Wallace's chapter.

In the interior of the island the Chinese cut down forest trees in the jungle, and saw them up into planks; they cultivate vegetables, which they bring to market; and they grow pepper and gambir, which form important articles of export. The French Jesuits have established missions among these inland Chinese, which seem very successful. I lived for several weeks at a time with the missionary at Bukit-tima, about the centre of the island, where a pretty church has been built and there are about 300 converts. While there, I met a missionary who had just arrived from Tonquin, where he had been living for many years. The Jesuits still do their work thoroughly as of old. In Cochin China, Tonquin, and China, where all Christian teachers are obliged to live in secret, and are liable to persecution, expulsion, and sometimes death, every province—even those farthest in the interior—has a permanent Jesuit mission establishment constantly kept up by fresh aspirants, who are taught the languages of the countries they are going to at Penang or Singapore. In China there are said to be near a million converts; in Tonquin and Cochin China, more than half a million. One secret of the success of these missions is the rigid economy practised in the expenditure of the funds. A missionary is allowed about £30. a year, on which he lives in whatever country he may be. This renders it possible to support a large number of missionaries with very limited means; and the natives, seeing their teachers living in poverty and with none of the luxuries of life, are convinced that they are sincere in what they teach, and have really given up home and friends and ease and safety, for the good of others. No wonder they make converts, for it must be a great blessing to the poor people among whom they labour to have a man among them to whom they can go in any trouble or distress, who will comfort and advise them, who visits them in sickness, who relieves them in want, and who they see living from day-today in danger of persecution and death—entirely for their sakes.

My friend at Bukit-tima was truly a father to his flock. He preached to them in Chinese every Sunday, and had evenings for discussion and conversation on religion during the week. He had a school to teach their children. His house was open to them day and night. If a man came to him and said, “I have no rice for my family to eat today,” he would give him half of what he had in the house, however little that might be. If another said, “I have no money to pay my debt,” he would give him half the contents of his purse, were it his last dollar. So, when he was himself in want, he would send to some of the wealthiest among his flock, and say, “I have no rice in the house,” or “I have given away my money, and am in want of such and such articles.” The result was that his flock trusted and loved him, for they felt sure that he was their true friend, and had no ulterior designs in living among them.

The island of Singapore consists of a multitude of small hills, three or four hundred feet high, the summits of many of which are still covered with virgin forest. The mission-house at Bukit-tima was surrounded by several of these wood-topped hills, which were much frequented by woodcutters and sawyers, and offered me an excellent collecting ground for insects. Here and there, too, were tiger pits, carefully covered over with sticks and leaves, and so well concealed, that in several cases I had a narrow escape from falling into them. They are shaped like an iron furnace, wider at the bottom than the top, and are perhaps fifteen or twenty feet deep so that it would be almost impossible for a person unassisted to get out of one. Formerly a sharp stake was stuck erect in the bottom; but after an unfortunate traveller had been killed by falling on one, its use was forbidden. There are always a few tigers roaming about Singapore, and they kill on an average a Chinaman every day, principally those who work in the gambir plantations, which are always made in newly-cleared jungle. We heard a tiger roar once or twice in the evening, and it was rather nervous work hunting for insects among the fallen trunks and old sawpits when one of these savage animals might be lurking close by, awaiting an opportunity to spring upon us.