Saturday, 27 February 2016

透过堂区牧灵的经验在圣德中成长



“你当在本身的立场成圣,而我当在天主安置我的立场成圣。
所以成圣并不是非凡的事。成圣也不只是一些人才能享受的。             
至圣是你我的简单职务。我们是因它而被造的。”
                                                                                                                  德肋撒姆姆

我们知道我们是受召成圣。“但要象那召叫你们的圣者一样,在一切生活上是圣的,因为经上记载:‘你们应是圣的,因为我是圣的。’”(伯前1:15-16)。有些人认为
圣就是时常祈祷、虔诚或甚至过着清苦的生活。虽然这些都是圣的表现,但只是外表的工夫。

然而,我欣然面对堂区生活的现实,接受堂区生活中的许多喜乐和痛苦,并学习在各种情况下去爱和服务所有的教友。以上是帮助我透过堂区牧灵的经验在圣德中成长的例子。

以下是以“H-O-L-I-N-E-S-S”的各字母组成我圣德在堂区成长的心声:

H = Holy Spirit
圣神
在家庭、基信团、堂区和社会里,在我们的圣德成长中圣神扮演了重要地位。
O = Old Testament
旧约
在旧约中,天主拣选了一个民族不因为他们是圣的而因为他们可透过割损和天主的诫命成圣。
L =Love
爱德
在成圣的过程中,我们以爱主和爱邻人两条并重的诫命去爱所有的人。
I = Internal Holiness
内在圣德
人着重外表,但是天主关怀我们内心的动机,这解释了我们的所作所为。
N = New Testament
新约
诫命是旧约的标记、而十字圣架是新约的标记。身为耶稣门徒,当我们背起十字圣架跟随耶稣时,该努力去聆听并了解天主的旨意。
E = Emptying oneself
空虚自己
在成圣的过程中,他应该兴盛,我却应该衰微。这意识是空虚自己,把一切荣耀归予主。
S = Service
服务
在成圣过程中,我们无条件地为人服务,因为如果要成为在先的,必须要先成为在后的,并成为众人的仆人。
S = Suffering
受苦
受苦是成圣过程中的一部分。我们“是天主的承继者,是基督的同承继者;只要我们与基督一同受苦,也必要与他一同受光荣。” ( 817)

Thursday, 25 February 2016

To Say "I Do"

The words "I do" seem easy to say, but there are far-reaching consequences when uttering those words. It is not enough to just say those words, since one should know what one is really saying, and not only know, but also be willing to hold on to those words till death do us part. Far too many have uttered those words, only to end up changing their tune and saying "I don't" when so called irreconcilable differences occur.

But does one really understand what these words mean? It seems so simple, but the words could also be just as complex and challenging to understand and to live out. "I" refers to a person: you, me, not someone else. "I" means an individual who is offering himself or herself wholely, totally, completely, fully. The "I" requires commitment, patience, persistence, for better or for worse.

"Do" is an action. When we "do," we are putting all our efforts, resources, gifts, talents, and time on the line. We cannot say "do" and hold back: it must be generous, abundant, benevolent. "Do" involves effort, for one cannot delegate it to someone else, one must be responsible, enthusiastic and dedicated in refining, improving and carrying out such an action for a lifetime. "Do" can be difficult, even painful, but when the going gets tough, one needs to keep going, keep doing.

In all this, saying such words could do with much help from the Lord. One could try to say and live such words, but the road could turn out rough, when you don't have the wings of His providence, and His gentle breeze calming the many storms that may come and go. When we turn to the Lord to guide us, the words become less strenuous, since one is uttering such words in His presence, in His care, in His love.

So consider carefully what you are about to say. Words are cheap, meaningless, lack substance, when one just say such words just for the sake of formality, or as some may say, "just to get it over and done with." May your "I do" be real, true, generous, complete, free, joyful and for a lifetime.

Friday, 12 February 2016

The Altar Server - An Overview

Altar servers are chosen from among the faithful who display a desire to participate in a more intimate way during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is an extreme privilege to kneel so close to the altar as our loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, becomes truly present in the Eucharist. Thus, it is both wise and necessary for a server to perform all assigned duties with attention, dignity and reverence.

Who May Serve

A server can be any baptised Catholic of good standing who has received at least first confession and Holy Communion. Each bishop of the diocese and each parish may have additional requirements but basically there are no other universal Church restriction about age or gender. The server leader should discern the reasons a candidate wants to serve and be reasonably certain that the candidate, and not parental pressures, are the main motivation. A reluctant or disinterested server is a distraction during the Mass and may have a negative effect on parish faith.

Basic Knowledge of the Mass

A server candidate is required to know the principal prayers of the Mass: The Gloria, Our Father, Nicene Creed, Lamb of God, Lord, I am not worthy and Holy, Holy, Holy to demonstrate they have sufficient interest in being a server. Not knowing these prayers usually results in a server who just stands in ignorance of what to do during these prayers and becomes a distraction to the parish.

What else should a Server Know
  1. All candidates should know the definitions of the liturgical items and their purposes.
  2. All candidates must demonstrate their ability to make use of the “tools of the trade” such as matches, candle lighters, books and candles, processional cross, preparation of credence table, chalice, Mass colours, etc.
  3. All server candidates must know the proper way to make the sign of the cross, kneel, stand and sit during Mass
What do Servers do
  1. A server is not a wall decoration. They are primarily there to assist the priest and to discern their vocation if they have one. Here is a short list of server duties.
  2. The servers duty is to set up for Mass, or if there is a sacristan present, to assist the sacristan in setting up for Mass. It is not the priest’s or deacon’s task to do so. The server must be willing to get to Church early, usually 15 minutes, to perform the appropriate setup for their parish.
  3. The Server must also stay after Mass to return the Church to its non-service condition. This includes offering help to store linen, books and other items in their proper places, if a sacristan is present.
  4. Servers should not handle any consecrated bread or wine unless specifically directed by the priest or deacon in an emergency situation. If the server suspects any consecrated fragments or wine remain on the sacred vessels they must inform the priest or deacon immediately.
  5. Servers must remain in the sanctuary during the entire Mass and are not to leave the sanctuary during Mass for any reason other than Illness or the direction of the priest or deacon. Altar servers are on duty from the time they enter the sanctuary at the start of Mass until the priest exits at the end of Mass.
  6. Servers have three primary positions when not performing a specific duty. These are standing, sitting and kneeling. In any of these positions they should maintain a straight formal posture.
    • In the standing position hands should be held in the praying position.
    • In the kneeling position hands should be held as in the standing position. You must kneel upright, not slouching or sitting on your heals.
    • When sitting the hands should be held on the lap or at the sides. Never slouch. Never play with your cinctures, pick your nose or otherwise cause a public reason to take notice of you.
  7. Remember, you are not on stage; you are serving at the altar of Our God.
  8. Every altar server must attend every Mass they are scheduled for. When a server cannot be present, that server must arrange for a replacement.
Proper Dress

 The server should dress in proper clothes and footwear for Mass. It is recommended that you wear solid colours, especially colours which would not reveal your insides, when looked at a certain angle and when there is certain lighting present. Likewise pants, dresses and skirts should also be of some solid colour. Proper shoes should be worn. Sneakers, no matter how expensive, are for casual dress and sporting events and have no place at the Altar of Our God. Servers must show respect for the Mass they attend at.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Musical Scribe

Whenever we read or hear of the word “scribe”, we naturally think of the scribes from the Gospels who seem to be constantly criticised by Jesus Christ. To be fair, a scribe is actually a person who is well versed in interpreting and teaching the Torah (the Law or the first 5 books in the Old Testament) as well as making copies of the Torah for distribution. Being a scribe is a vocation and it takes years of training and practice to be one. Unfortunately, the scribes mentioned in the Gospels deviated from their true calling, becoming aloof and corrupted instead of being fair and just to all.

What is a Musical Scribe?

A Musical Scribe is a person who is well versed in music and is able to compose or arrange a music piece. To compose a music piece means to write an original music piece whereas to arrange a music piece is to write an exact or similar copy of a music piece composed by someone else. In the past, the music piece had to be written or copied by hand; a slow, difficult and error-prone process. With the emergence of computers, the task is so much easier. The music piece need only be written once and it can be printed over and over again.

Why do we need a Musical Scribe?

Throughout this article, when I use the word organist, I mean any musician (for example, an organist, a pianist, a keyboard player, etc.) other than a guitarist.

In most parishes, there are hymns that can be played from hymnbooks such as the Sing Your Praise to God (SYPG). However, there are many other hymns or songs, Charismatic or otherwise, which cannot be found in any of the hymnals or songbooks available in the market. Quite often, only the words and chords are available. To a guitarist, the words and chords are usually sufficient but to an organist, the words and chords are not enough, especially if he or she is not familiar with the hymn. The musical notes are needed as well so that the organist will be able to play the hymn correctly. There are also hymns that can be found in other songbooks but the key for these hymns may be too high or too low for singing.

Besides that, some parishes are dependent on one or two organists and these organists are usually the only ones who know the hymns that are in words and chords form. What would happen if these organists leave the parish for good (they get married and settle down in some other place; they move to another place because of work or family commitments, etc.) or if these organists decide to retire and serve the Lord in some other way? If new organists are trained, then this may not be a problem but training new organists without music notes is downright difficult, if not altogether impossible. Besides that, it is not possible for a person to teach the new organists all the hymns that are in words and chords form because of time constraint and also because of the huge number of such hymns floating around.

As you can see, the above situations can cause these hymns to be lost if they are not written down and preserved for future generations. The church is gifted with so many beautiful hymns that are inspirational and educational. That is why we need people who are willing to take time and effort to write down these hymns so that any organist would be able to play them easily. These people are known as “Musical Scribes”.

What are the requirements?

To be a Musical Scribe, you need to meet the following requirements:

1. A sound knowledge of music, especially in the writing of music notes

2. A good understanding of chords, since most of the time, you will need to determine the suitable chords for the hymn.

3. Much patience, as it takes time to get the music written properly. This is not much of a problem if a computer is used to write the music.

4. Some basic knowledge of using a computer.

The fourth point here is optional but recommended as the computer is a real time saver when it comes to writing music notes. Of course, you do not need to use a computer to write music but from my experience, using the computer is more efficient and the hymn can be easily reproduced (try making copies of a hymn by hand and you will see what I mean). Of course, you can always make photocopies of the hymn but this is not always reliable because the photocopies could turn out not clear or if your handwriting is bad, the photocopies will not be of much help.

BO and MO during Confession?

Among the many challenges a padre has to put up with when it comes to confession, one which is just as potent and potentially pengsan-able...