Being Holy in Daily Life

By: Tran Thi Hang

“Rejoice and be glad” (Mt 5:12) is the Exhortation on “the call to holiness in today’s world”. Pope Francis highlighted that holiness reflects the Beatitudes, holiness is Joy, and holiness is the Foundational Vocation. The pope invites everyone to become saints in a practical context.

So how do I live my vocation to holiness in my daily life? I am very happy to join the ALL Forum Online Course on the exhortation “Rejoice and Rejoice”, although I have also read, studied, meditated, etc. on this topic, but this online course has left me In my feelings, emotions:

I am more convinced that the journey which I am on with “A Cloud of Witnesses”, encourages me to know that many people of all backgrounds respond to the call to holiness. In communion, “Surrounded and led by the friends of God, … I do not carry alone what I cannot carry alone. All the saints of God are still there to protect and support me”, and because of this my life is lighter and more peaceful.

To become a saint is not to withdraw from work or to devote myself to prayer, but to become a saint is to live in love and bear witness to God’s love. I am called to this holiness in a very personal way according to my state of life and mission, as I live the present moment to the fullest; with love, trust and commitment to the plan which God has laid out. Due to which I feel that my life has meaning, happiness, joy, peace…

Furthermore, my degree of sanctification is determined by the degree to which Christ takes possession of me so that each day I become more like Jesus in the way I think, speak, act, and live my life expressed through relationships with God, brothers and sisters and creation. Gradually it formed in me a life of balance between contemplation and activity. It was Jesus Christ who contemplated me, sending me to my fellowmen, where I discovered His hidden presence, you in turn send me back to the contemplation of Christ. This invites me to try to see God in each person, in every thing (seeing God’s image in brothers and sisters, in the poor, in the sick, in the flowers, in the grass, in the birds… small everyday things with great love)

The more I become a saint, the more I have to bear fruit in my life every day. Every day I try to fight with my selfish, passionate, sinfulness… daring to go against the current to live the call to holiness. Although I still have many weaknesses and limitations, I am always convinced of God’s love and grace for me through the intercession of the saints.

Reflection: What do we need in order to practice Integral Ecology?

Reflection: What do we need in order to practice Integral Ecology?

By Susana Sitaresmi Kusuma Wardhani

Shallom Asian Lay Leaders Forum,

Recently, we are faced with one complex crisis in our world which is both social and enviromental. Actually, human development, peace and ecological issue is interconnected, we can not separated one from another and Laudato Si combines human development  and peace and ecology as integral ecology.

Environmental destruction by human beings always creates significant  economic discrepancy with the poor, we must understand that there is a relationship between “the cry of the earth” and “the cry of the poor people”. Therefore, it is very important for us to undertake development only by considering the true ecological approach and emphasizing on integral ecology.

In order to create this new model of development we need to focus on two key things. We must first focus on ecological community conversion. This conversion  calls us for a number of attitudes, gratitude and also feeling gratefulness towards GOD. The second one is to develop a sense of ecological spirituality or commitment which recognizes that “each creature reflects something of God and has a message to convey to us”. This is exactly what Pope Francis asks all of us Christians to recognize and to live fully this dimension of our conversion with an action plan, to start from something as little as a family, a church, parishes, school, college, health care, farms and province. Thank you

Two Touching Images from Evangelii Gaudium

Two Touching Images from Evangelii Gaudium

By Teresa Cao Le Huyen

I would like to thank the Organising Committee of ALL Forum for preparing and sharing this helpful program to Vietnamese Youth, especially to me. In my opinion, this program is indispensable. I immediately registered when I received the course’s invitation, one of the reasons is that the course objectives are my current interest. I believe that everybody thinks the same way.

Regarding the presentation on the previous day, about the Evangelii Gaudium Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis – The Joy of the Gospel, there are two pictures that really touched me . The picture of the Church and the other about the economy of exclusion.

The first image of Pope Francis saying that “I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center; which that ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures (n.49). I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security, poor Church for the poor”

When I read the words, I realized that a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because of protecting the poor, because of protecting love, is full of the Holy Spirit and brings to the earth great vitality. This is Jesus Christ on the cross. When I think of this picture, I ask myself: What does Church mean to me? Who is Church? Let us go forth, but who? Leaders in Church, or just for Priests and laity? Some ideas were raised in my mind that from the time when I was baptized, I became a part of the Church, I belong to the Church and the Church is me. When Pope Francis mentioned the Church, it does not mean the entire board of leaders but everyone. It is me and everyone around me. I was called to care about others much more than I do myself, in order to contribute to the development of  the social community. The Church would be more vivid and the World would be lit up if each of us could give more, go forth to offer.

The second image is about the economy of exclusion. “Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”. (no.53)”

This point has raised the very true problem of today’s world, happening in daily life. Humans are so self-centered, self-interested and self-serving so those excluded become the outcast. And I realized that the form of exclusion is getting more and more sophisticated in many respects. Those excluded are not only the poors who sit on the street, begging or selling lottery tickets but also even healthy, rich people in schools, in town, or at home are being discarded in some ways. Someone is being excluded in others’ thoughts, their opinions are ignored in the working environment, someone’s life seems not to exist in the community. I asked myself many times, in my community and my life environment, who is being excluded? Who am I ignoring? What kind of rejection? Could it be exploitation, boycott, outcast, results- oriented than people-oriented? Ignoring by the cold eyes, by the rude words? The picture of excluded people is so pathetic, and it is more pathetic for the one who are excluding others. Human hearts are getting colder and colder, emotionless and even more emotionless.

Through this session, I had a much deeper understanding of my identity – a Christian and by living my life as the ultimate expression of who I really am – let go forth, then, let go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ, knowing God, show love and respect to others.

I appreciated it a lot. May God bless and reward everybody in ALL Forum.

THE CHURCH AS AN EMERGENCY HOSPITAL

THE CHURCH AS AN EMERGENCY HOSPITAL

By Eliza Halim

Our beloved country Indonesia is currently facing the Covid-19 pandemic. Confirmed cases are increasing every day. This requires adequate health facilities, but hospitals in Indonesia are full of Covid-19 patients. This makes the government take various ways to overcome this problem. The government created  emergency or field hospitals for Covid-19. The first emergency hospital to operate was Wisma Atlet (Athlete’s House) Kemayoran. Apart from Wisma Athletes, several emergency hospitals were also prepared. Starting from the central government, local government and assistance from the private sector. The Athletes’ House was adapted in only four days to become a Covid-19 Emergency Hospital[3].

Even though it was built briefly, the Athlete’s House has all the adequate quality and facilities. In addition, 25 state owned companies supply medical equipment for this emergency hospital.

With the second wave of covid 19 (May 2021) the Indonesian government is using several more places such as the Pondok Gede Hajj Dormitory which began operating on July 10, 2021 to receive a booming Covid-19 patients, which according to some sources the number has now jumped to 10x in DKI and 5x in Bali [4]

We see this in our country, Indonesia, how about the situation in other countries? The New York Times and reported by AFP, Tuesday (7/4/2020): A large cathedral in New York, United States was converted to become an emergency hospital during the corona virus pandemic. The move comes as the state struggles with a crisis that has killed thousands of people.[2]

The Pope’s offer to see the Church as a field or emergency hospital actually loosens rigid institutional ecclesiastical barriers, so that they can resonate with people living today [1]

This unusual picture of the church actually offers a new and fresh perspective on the Church. There are at least four new perspectives that Pope Francis offers through the new ecclesiology [1]

First, the Church as an emergency hospital shows the aspect of flexibility to move true to its name emphasizing mobility. The second shows that the Church must be among the wounded. Three, that the visible churches need to reveal its identity so that it can be easily found by those who are suffering. Fourth, to empower citizens. The emergency hospital is a kind of pit stop, a temporary stop so that the injured can be treated, but after receiving adequate treatment, they will resume their struggle in solidarity with many survivors who share the same direction of struggle. This means that the ultimate goal of service is empowerment.[1]

Even though Pope Francis has made this appeal since September 30, 2013 in an interview with Antonio Spadaro, it is still very relevant to the current situation where the second Covid-19 pandemic is occurring in Indonesia. This vision was emphasized by Pope Francis in the Evangelii Gaudium document. He said, “A community that evangelizes engages with the words and actions of people’s everyday lives. This community bridges the distance, is willing to serve itself if necessary, and embraces human life, by touching the humanity of Christ who suffers in each other” (EG 24). A louder phrase emerges in this passage, “I prefer a church that is bruised, hurt and dirty because it has been out on the streets than a church that is sick of shutting itself in and comfortable clinging to its own security. I don’t want an ambitious Church to be at the center and end up caught in the trap of obsessions and procedures” (EG 49).

The church that is mentioned here is that we are all faithful Catholics, who are expected in a situation like this, to be among people who are suffering and in need of our help. We must not just focus on our personal affairs, but we also have to look at the situation around us, what we can do to help those who are suffering, especially the people who live below the poverty line.

Within our Catholic community there is no cooperation in helping and easing the burden of residents suffering from Covid-19, both Catholics and non-Catholics. We who are able to work together to collect funds to be donated to people in need and those who live around us, need to be provided with support and prayers to the sufferers. We must be steadfast, patient and surrender all our life problems to Jesus our Savior.

There are also Catholics in our neighborhood, who go around giving rice wraps in markets for the poor, and there are also Catholics who go around providing food and dry goods such as biscuits and other essentials as well as money to “ manusia gerobak” (a poor family who lives in a carriage).

Hopefully the Covid-19 pandemic will end soon so that the life of in Indonesian returns to normal and we all can live normally as before the pandemic.

Sources:

[1]5221_bambang_rohani__05_66_2019

[2]news.detik.com.internasional.internasional

[3]Republika.co.id/berita/qqf51n456/

[4]merdeka.com/peristiwa/satgas-sebut-kasus-aktif-covid-di-jakarta-naik-10-kali-lipat-sejak-18-mei-2021.html

My Reflection on Laudato Si : Care for our common home

My Reflection on Laudato Si : Care for our common home

By Merry Adriana

Here I was, on my second session of the online course. Although I had to struggle with my internet connection, which always sent me out of the webinar many times. Beside that, I couldn’t open my video so I only followed the course by listening. But it’s all right, I tried my best to follow and to listen the course carefully. I think it’s good also for my eyes. By closing my eyes I listened and plunged  myself in the  encyclical letter Laudato Si, care for our common home.

The Holy Father in this encyclical reminds us to consider our Mother Earth, so that she may continue to sustain us.  When God created man and other creatures (Genesis 1:26-30) He saw that all were good and beautiful.  He gave man the responsibility to take good care of what is around us, so we may live peacefully on this beautiful earth,  as we are all connected with each other and with the whole nature,  But, instead of protecting her we have come to see ourselves as lords and masters, who entitled to plunder her without control or limit. It seems we have forgotten that there are future generations, who will also need Mother Earth’s care. Nature is like a magnificent book, in which God speaks to us and grant us a glimpse of His infinite beauty and goodness. So, we have to pay attention  the message of the Holy Father and take good care of our common home, so that generations yet to come can experience that beauty which God was so proud of when He created this world and entrusted it to the care of man.

St. Francis of Assisi was very much aware of this. He wrote the Canticle of Creatures, so that every generation singing it, could be reminded of God’s beauty in every creature, big or small.  St. Francis also told us that if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, then our attitude will be like consumers and exploiters who are unable to set limits to our immediate needs. We become very greedy.  Actually we should  realize that when we hurt the Earth, we also hurt the poor, we cannot attend to the poor people without dealing with some of the root causes of poverty like the destruction of the environment.  Surely we can’t just stand and watch ourselves and other living things die if there is something we can do. We just all have to try to change our ways to help the environment and ourselves. Many people are now working out ways that are likely to help our environment. What differences are you and I making?

We should not think that our efforts – even our small gestures – don’t matter. We only need few courageous persons to take the initiative and the rest would see the sense and pick it up. We all need to have faith and strong belief that it is possible to bring about changes and arrest environmental destruction. Let us all be lovers of nature like St. Francis and let us give heed to the message of Pope Francis in his encyclical letter “ Laudato Si”  on care of our common home. Start small from the corner you are in and the change will be infectious.

Dive into the Social Dimension of Evangelization with Evangelii Gaudium

Dive into the Social Dimension of Evangelization with Evangelii Gaudium

By Willem L. Turpijn

As a Catholic youth minister, who is also involved in YOUCAT Indonesia; the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium is one of the most amazing Church documents for me. Being involved in YOUCAT Indonesia, which is a youth catechist movement for the entire Church with the spirit of New Evangelization, it compelled me to read this document. And as a companion for young people, I find that Evangelii Gaudium is an interesting, beautiful, and energetic document of the Church, with clear language, easy to digest, yet pumping motivation to animate the spirit of ‘The Joy of the Gospel’ in daily life, as well as in ministry work, in the midst of society and also amidst young people.

It is still very clear in my memory how I got acquainted with this document. Apart from getting it through the translation of the Documentation and Information Department of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, I also remember very well how I got acquainted with this document at the first YOUCAT International Congress forum in Tagaytay City, Philippines. One of the most highlighted aspect from this document is Pope Francis’ hope that young people can become the “street preachers”, or as in Spanish it is called, Callejeros de la Fe. Not only highlighted in the seminar sessions, but all participants were then sent to the streets in groups to practice how to become the street preachers. Some of us were experienced to draw murals, some were offering prayer through SMS services, some of us were playing a skit about Jesus in the middle of a crowded market, and many other activities. So, obviously this document is very impressive to me.

Evangelii Gaudium is often used by youth ministers like me, while conducting sessions in several cities of Indonesia upon the invitation of the local Diocesan Youth Commission or certain communities.

One of the most important point that I always bring up and emphasise during my session is the title of the document Evangelii Gaudium. I especially the emphasise on the phrase “Joy of the Gospel”, which has an internal nuance, rather than “The Happiness of the Gospel”, which is more external. That is, before proclaiming the Gospel, we must first be filled with the Joy of the Gospel, and that can only happen through our personal relationship with Christ, the Living Gospel.

However, a zoom session with Dr. Paul Hwang, Director of the Asian Lay Leaders Forum really moved me. There is a basic thing that apparently has escaped my attention all this time. Evangelii Gaudium apparently has a deep social nuance. Yes, with Dr. Paul Hwang, my eyes have been progressively opened to the social dimension of evangelism.

Steadily Dr. Paul Hwang helped the participants understand the relationship between one of the most famous documents of the Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes with the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, and then slowly began to introduce the dimensions of the Church’s Social Teaching which were also contained in Evangelii Gaudium, including how Evangelii Gaudium puts emphasis on attention for the poor. It’s like finding a sparkling gem that I’ve never been aware of.

When I was done marveling at how meticulously Dr. Paul Hwang pointed out the content of the Social Teachings of the Church in Evangelii Gaudium, he then presented something extraordinary which had completely missed from my reading of Evangelii Gaudium. This is the concept of Integral Human Development. As far as I know, this phrase, Integral Human Development, began to emerge during the pontificate of Pope Francis. A dicastery was even formed from the reforms of the fusion of several Pontifical Councils (Justice and Peace, Cor Unum, etc.), and later adopted the name Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. That’s all I know.

But with Dr. Paul Hwang this concept was completely dissected. He introduced the person behind the concept of Integral Human Development, who also turned out to be behind Gaudium et Spes, and how this concept has been found in several documents of the Popes, starting with Pope St. Paul VI, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and finally, Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium. Dr. Paul Hwang’s exposure is indeed very pithy and evocative, which is also closed with four important principles about peace, and how dialogue, especially interreligious dialogue, is a prerequisite for world peace.

I am truly grateful to have gained such valuable insight through this session. I am truly amazed by Evangelii Gaudium and also by Pope Francis who promulgated it. I think this concept of Integral Human Development is truly a breakthrough that the universal Church should strive for as it contributes to form a better world in the future, starting from now. And we, as part of the Church, should not wait for the situation to become an emergency first in order to start, or wait for the initiation of the clergy to start this movement. As part of God’s people who want to present the Kingdom of God in this world, through our daily work and service; of course, we can and must develop, the concept of Integral Human Development By getting involved in society, having dialogue with others, siding with the marginalized and the poor, or through other simple ways. We need to bring about a transformation in this world to realize the presence of Integral Human Development with what we have and with what and who is in around us.

As Pope Francis hopes, let’s move outside, move to the periphery, be brave and be ready to be hurt and get dirty, to meet and be present for them as part of the missionary disciples. Let’s develop the concept of Integral Human Development from now on and forever!

Reflection after joining Online course – Evangeli Gaudium

Reflection after joining Online course – Evangelii Gaudium

By Susana Sitaresmi Kusuma Wardhani

Shalom Asian Lay Leaders Forum, Thank you so much for allowing me to join with your first lecture Joy of the Gospel as a summary of Evangelii Gaudium from our Pope. Your explanations really helped me to understand about my faith and the presence of our Catholic church is not self-centered but reaching out for the poor people.

Your lecture about Evangelii Gaudium taught me the new concepts about integral human development and our church as a field hospital. I see the profound connection between evangelization and human development which much necessarily finds expressions and development in every work of evangelization and encourages all Christians to demonstrate it by their words, attitudes and deeds.

Only after which, we can make dialogue with science, society and have a conversation with other religions and our faith by not opposing them, but by knowing what we should do in our community and our life as a member of the Catholic Church.

A Reflection on Joy of the Gospel

A Reflection on Joy of the Gospel

By Rowena Suryobroto

After attending the first session, I realized how afraid our churches are and why we need the apostolic letter of the Pope to make us realize the true meaning of the gospel. Amid the pandemic a large part of the people in my parish have gone into hiding, refusing to serve others, even from the safety of their own homes. It seems as though we have made the pretext of the pandemic and the danger contracting the corona virus a reason not to help others.

I also realize that we are surrounded by the sick. Not just their bodies but also their souls and faith. But People today have lost the motivation to serve anymore. The altar boys and girls do not commune anymore, even via smart phones. Their parents refuse to allow them to serve in the church, even when the pandemic was slowing down a couple months ago.

Parents don’t see that the children’s spirits need to be together with their brothers and sisters who are fading away. And somehow it feels as if there is no way for us to grow it again. I feel hopeless. If the children who were active in the church are beginning to leave, then who is left to become the next generation of the Catholics? How are we going to help them? or cure them?

On the other hand most people believe that the virus exists only If they themselves or their close relatives have suffered from it, badly. If not, then the virus doesn’t exist.

Which is risking the life of the doctors and nurses who are trying to make them stay at home or isolated in the hospital.

If our children have not found a huge barrier in their life where they feel the need to return to the church, then what can we do?

I realize, just like a field hospital as Pope Francis has mentioned, we should do 2 things at once: (1) Is to be opened for the sick, opened to the possibility of contagions, opened to be dirty and poor, opened to the possibility of being an object of anger and frustration of the people we care for; and (2) to seek for the sick and to bring them into our field hospital, our church, to be cared for.

A Reflection on Interreligious Dialogue

A Reflection on Interreligious Dialogue

By Niru Maya Tamang

Interreligious Dialogue of Catholic Church is the most enlightening and informative session to me. The highlighted topic of this session attracted me to take part in it. It was my first online session from the Asian Lay Leaders Forum and I had mixed feelings of both excitement and nervousness. In the first week of the session when pluralism in the Bible was introduced, I felt I was not meant for this session because I was not able to understand anything.

The whole topic, terms and words used in this session was all new to me. I even planned to discontinue this session but I challenged my self and determined to pay good attention in the session and ask the the questions I if did not understand anything. I payed proper attention and found that Fr. Bagus was trying to make us understand each and every new topic in more simpler way, it was me who was stopping to understand that new words not that the words were too difficult. So, the session became more and more interesting with the new topic such as Vatical II, Abu Dhabi Document, Interreligious dialogue of Catholic Church with other religion and much more.

As Nepali Catholic girl, studying in an Islamic country, Bangladesh. In the beginning, found it very difficut to talk with Muslim students due to the stereotypical thinking which I had about them and that they were against christians and that they’re terrorists. I used to feel safe and had a feeling of family with any chiristian students despite of their nationality but used to feel that I was in another planet when I was with non-christian students. But this session especially: Interreligious Dialogue of Catholic Church with Islam and Abu Dhabi Document really helped me a lot to accept each and every person as a creation of God and to respect their religions too. Currently, I have a good relationship with other non-christian students in my university, thanks to this session.

The group discussion was my favorite part of this session because I got to learn and know different experiences and views of other participants in the group. Actually, I did not actively participate in the group discussion, and  sometimes when I did I found that other group members were very supportive, kind and passionate to hear my unrelevent explanation. This group discussion had taught me to open up my self mentally and spiritually and to be more confident in myself.

Lastly,  I used to feel that I knew about my religion: Catholic Church fully but from this session I learned that there are still many things left to be learned and that I did not know about my religion completely. Now I feel that I need to keep on learning about my religion and know about it completely so that one day I can really defend my religion with full confidence against the world of controversies.

Reflection on “Basic Knowledge on the Lay People in the World”

Reflection on “Basic Knowledge on the Lay People in the World”

by Jayani

Hello everyone. I am Jayani from Sri Lanka. First of all, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in the course “Basic Knowledge on the Lay People in the World” being held through the ALL Forum. Although I am studying for degree in Christianity at first I did not have a good understanding regarding Lay Theology, but after attending to this course I was able to gain a better understanding of Lay Theology.

This course had eight sessions. By participating in this course I had the opportunity to study new topics each week. Topics such as who is laity?, Aparecida document, historical signposts in the making of laity, Catholic/Ecclesial movements, Liberation of the Laity, Gaudete eat Exsultate by Pope Francis, etc. When we focused on Aparecida document, I learned about Kingdom of God. Besides I was also able to learn how to promote human dignity and how to put it into an action. Apostolical Actuositatem is the second Vatican council decree on the apostolate of the Laity. This was an important resource for this course. We discussed about different Catholic movements around the world. Gaudete et Exsultate is the third apostolic exhortation of pope Francis. It addresses the universal call to holiness, with a focus to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time. This course also focused on the various encyclicals presented by the Pope Francis.

I decided to take this course to gain a broad knowledge of this subject. The most highlighted event of this course was the group discussion. Because it enabled me to gain knowledge as well as share our ideas with members in other countries. Through this group discussion it was also possible to know others social information.

All these lessons were very well explained by Ms. Kochurani. Here I express my heartfelt thank to her. I would like to thank Mr. Neilan who managed this course very well. I also appreciate the support received from members in other countries for the successful completion of this course. Overall, this course was a great success! Thank You!