“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.
As we begin the month of November, continuing the theme of justice in the world for the second time, it is crucial for us to understand the term Justice more deeply and in connection with our daily christian lives.
The Church received three very important teachings from Jesus Christ himself: 1) The mission of preaching the Gospel message, 2) Universal kinship and 3) A consequent demand for justice in the world. Out of which the Church tirelessly practices only the mission of preaching the Gospel, while the latter two are usually neglected. We as Lay faithful, often only follow the duties of attending Sunday mass regularly, joining in prayer services, participating in charitable and voluntary works lead by the church but never practice our faith beyond these matters mainly because we are not aware that it is our Christian responsibility to do so.
Paragraph 38 of ‘Justice in the World’ informs us that “The members of the Church, as members of society, have the same right and duty to promote the common good as do other citizens. Christians ought to fulfill their temporal obligations with fidelity and competence. They should act as a leaven in the world, in their family, professional, social, cultural and political life. They must accept their responsibilities in this entire area under the influence of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. In this way they testify to the power of the Holy Spirit through their action in the service of people in those things which are decisive for the existence and the future of humanity.”
Therefore we cannot simply neglect Jesus’ teachings of Universal Kinship and A consequent demand for justice in the world because, it altogether forms the core identity of being a true follower of Christ. As mentioned in the paragraph above we must act as a leaven (transforming influence) in our own little ways, accepting that achieving Universal Kinship (being inclusive and finding relation with one another as one family) and striving for justice through action inspired by love and right is our Christian responsibility.
Asian Lay Leaders Forum was able to complete another session of its online course on the major documents of Pope Francis – Gaudete Et Exsultate in October, exclusively for Vietnamese Participants. The Participants during this session enjoyed a fruitful Input Session followed by an interesting Question and Answer session for about 45 minutes which brought about a broader understanding of various concepts such as ‘Holiness’, ‘Mysticism’, ‘Practical Mysticism’and so on.
The final session for Pakistani participants could not take place that same evening due to an internet outage in Paksitan and awaits being rescheduled. Meanwhile Subscribe to our Youtube Channel and browse there to view all our recorded sessions.
This month IMCS AP’s CLAP program will be based on the theme Religion. It will take place between 12th to 29th November. Kindly join their session by registering at the link below. Last date to apply – 9 November 2021.
This is the subtitle of the third part in the document Justice in the World . It includes what I have already mentioned in the previous issue ‘the Church must first be just in people’s eyes when it says something about justice.’(no.40) The document also shows its support ‘diversity’ of the voices of the People of God by pointing out “freedom of expression.” “The Church recognizes everyone’s right to suitable freedom of expression and thought. This includes the right of everyone to be heard in a spirit of dialogue which preserves a legitimate diversity within the Church.” So the church should not be excluded such diversity, rather it promotes and guarantees plurality in ideas, interpretation and thoughts on church teachings and even dogma by learning to be “listening Church” stressed often by Pope Francis.
In the same line with Gaudium et Spes , the document on world bishops’ synod points out the principle of the Gospel when it comes to the relationship between State and the Church: “In regard to temporal possessions, whatever be their use, it must never happen that the evangelical witness which the Church is required to give becomes ambiguous. The preservation of certain positions of privilege must constantly be submitted to the test of this principle….”(no.47) The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World cleary supports the said idea right above: “[Church] will even give up the exercise of certain rights which have been legitimately acquired, if it becomes clear that their use will cast doubt on the sincerity of her witness or that new ways of life demand new methods….In this, she should make use of all the means—but only those—which accord with the Gospel and which correspond to the general good according to the diversity of times and circumstances.”(no.76.e)
Justice and Daily Life of the People of God
The document of the Justice in the World is quite meaningful for laypeople as itlinks justice to everyday life of Christians as a believer and a citizen at the same time. “Christians’ specific contribution to justice is the day-to-day life of individual believers acting like the leaven of the Gospel in their family, their school, their work and their social and civic life. …. Accordingly, educational method must be such as to teach people to live their lives in its entire reality and in accord with the evangelical principles of personal and social morality which are expressed in the vital Christian witness of one’s life.” (no.49) It goes on to spread and expand the ‘double membership’ as a faithful and a citizen to the extent of a world citizenship which concerns what happens in theworld today: “…This cooperation concerns first and foremost activities for securing
human dignity and people’s fundamental rights, especially the right to religious liberty. This is the source of our common efforts against discrimination on the grounds of differences of religion, race and color, culture and the like.
Collaboration extends also to the study of the teaching of the Gospel insofar as it is the source of inspiration for all Christian activity…”(no.61) The synod document notes that the principles it follows are found in CSTs from Rerum Novarum to the letter Octogesima Adveniens . There is a remarkable connection between the one of its most significant paragraphs and the one which
mentions “salvation by deeds of justice.”(no.56) The former is the phrase of ‘Action for justice as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel’(no.6) which is closely interrelated to the latter: In the better understanding of the world situation provided by Gaudium et Spes, “Christian works out their salvation by deeds of justice.” The document clearly mentions the principle ideas such as human rights, international justice, the right to development, political action found in Pacem in Terris, Mater et Magistra, Populorum Progressio , and Octogesima Adveniens respectively influenced by the Gospel itself and Vatican II, particularly Gaudium et Spes . It also put much emphasis on peace by saying that “It is absolutely necessary that international conflicts should not be settled by war, but that other methods better befitting human nature should be found. Let a strategy of non-violence be fostered also, and let conscientious objection be recognized and regulated by law in each nation.” (no.65)
ALL Forum invites you to join our Webinar for Peace in East & South East Asia
Conflict and oppression in the 21 st century has taken newer forms. Systems of Law, Order and Justice which were once the focal point for Nation building and prosperity have slowly evolved into oppressive mechanisms which control the liberty of fellow citizens in numerous ways.
In the light of such situations it is evident that we as Church must strongly participate in building peace for the world especially in Asia, inspired by the 1971 Synod of Bishops – ‘Justice in the World’ document (para 6), which says “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.”
Therefore, Asian Lay Leaders (ALL) Forum aspires to organize a one day webinar for peace in Hong Kong, Myanmar, Philippines, Korean Peninsula and the said region by commemorating the 50th anniversary of the important document ‘Justice in the World’, which requires the Church to be renewed and also reformed. It is so that we invite all the peace-loving people in Asia to understand deeply the situation unfolding in East and South East Asia and what role the Laity and Church must play in order to promote peace and justice
Join us on November 20, 2021 (Saturday) 5:00-8:00 pm Philippines time (GMT+8). Click the button below to register!
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
Asian Lay Leaders Forum was successfully able to complete 2 batches of its online course on the major documents of Pope Francis – Laudato Si in September, exclusively for Vietnamese and Pakistani participants.
Participants from both countries have expressed positive comments and feed back after joining us in the online course and have been contributing to us their experience and views with written and visual reflections as you can see them mentioned in the first section of the E-Newsletter.
We hope to continue to amplify the reach by doing many more batches of the online course. In this month of October we already have scheduled sessions for both Vietnam and Pakistan on another Major Document of Pope Francis which is Gaudete et Exsultate. Subscribe to our Youtube Channel and browse there to view all our recorded sessions.
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.
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
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!