It is clear how the secular world sees relationship with one another. We often hear and are guilty ourselves, of thinking that we are being kind when we say “I will give the benefit of the doubt to the person so that I would be happier”. It is as if the person has, out of our mercy, gained this benefit from us. This notion of “protecting ourselves first” in a bid to avoid getting hurt emotionally is actually a self-seeking attitude. In retrospect, if it is selfless love, we would embark on finding the truth instead of dwelling on a doubt in the first place. This self-seeking attitude is strongly reflected in our daily lives in various ways, especially, when it comes to the human body.
Everything we do in life revolves around the body. Birth, death, eating, sleeping, dancing, walking, smelling, hearing, and trips to the bathroom. Yet, we find the most confusing and troubling part of our embodiment to be the longing for union and communion.
Pope St John Paul II’s first major teaching during his pontificate, Theology of the Body, centralises on understanding that the human body includes, right from the very beginning, the capacity to express love – that love in which the person becomes a gift. And in being this gift, it fulfils the meaning of our being and existence. This was the very message that Raymond Hew, our in-house speaker on this topic, wanted to get across to a group of youth at the Penang Catholic Diocese Centre from 3-4 June 2017.
“If we want to know what is most sacred in this world, all we need to do is look for what is most violently profaned”, these words from Christopher West, one of the most profound advocates on Theology of the Body speaks of the reason why the human body has been confused for self-seeking reasons in our society. Yet the beauty of the body is that God chose to make His invisible mystery visible to us through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh – the embrace of God in man. God is love. For love to be love, it has to be given, it has to be received and it has to bear fruit. This is the mystery of the Trinity which our bodies make visible in the world, this living, life-giving communion of love.
How then did the “man of lust” take the place of the “man of original innocence”? During the original sin and the fall of man, Adam and Eve questioned the gift and love of God. They believed in Satan’s lies that God does not want them to be like Him, God does not want them to have freedom, and God wants to keep them from what they really want. And if they really want freedom, they would have to take it for themselves. It is like a child wanting to grab a cookie that the father wants to give him. This is the problem with us all; we do not trust our Father’s love enough that we attempt to create our own happiness.
This trust issue was illustrated in a game where the youths formed a ‘net’ for their friend to fall on. If we were the one standing there, chances were, we would not fully trust our friends to catch us. We would do something to help ourselves in case the person does not catch us e.g. stiffening our bodies or bending our legs.
Pope St John Paul II beautifully described love which is self-giving: “For love is not merely a feeling, it is an act of will that consists of preferring, in a constant manner, the good of others to the good of oneself”. How do we know that our love is truly self-giving and is like Christ’s love for us? The hallmarks include in being free, total, faithful and fruitful. Jesus came into the world to become man, he gave Himself on the cross, he was faithful in His mission to God the Father even unto accepting death on the cross, and His life and love was fruitful – giving us a new life, a new freedom, a life capable of pure love. In other words, Christ came as a bridegroom, to give up His body for His bride, the Church.
And who better as the ultimate example of this love than the perfect disciple of Jesus, Mother Mary. She freely said yes to God to be the mother of Christ, gave Herself totally to God – dedicated Her life to holiness and in being sinless, Her faithfulness in never turning away from God’s will, and was fruitful in being the mother of God who gave birth to the author of life, Jesus Christ.
This brings us to the reflection of how we could implement the virtues of a self-giving love in our own lives. Have we been caring for one another freely, or are we setting conditions on our relationships and friendships? Have we been giving to those in need or only when it is convenient? Have we been faithful to the truth or have we resorted to lies for the sake of protecting our reputation? Have we been fruitful in sharing God’s love to all we meet?
Other important points which were shared include how we are called to love as a man and a woman, and dating with purpose and purity. An exercise was to build an upside-down pyramid with small toy cups which is quite an impossible task to achieve. This was used to illustrate that there is an ideal order to dating and courting.
Aside from speaking on Theology of the Body, Raymond has also recently shared on the Eucharist in light of the recent Corpus Christi Sunday. Watch more below:
Our in-house speaker, Matthew Lo or better known among the Mandarin-speaking community as 罗楠毅 has been travelling around Southwest of Peninsula Malaysia to give the Mandarin version of our focal seminar of the year – Dialogue of Salvation (救世的交谈). He has been to Church of Christ the King, Kulai, Church of St. Louis, Kluang and is currently giving formation at Church of St. Henry, Batu Pahat as we speak! This is a great opportunity for the Mandarin-speaking community around the area to learn about the Catholic faith. Do come and visit! Entrance is free :)
Matthew will head north to Melaka for his final formation of the topic on 4 June 2017.
For more on the content of the formation seminar, please refer to the main article.
Catch the sneak peek here!
History tells us that the world is ever-changing in its way of living, its culture, and its beliefs. Yet, the Catholic truth has stood steadfast in its teachings. Although the Christian message tackles the most foundational problems in every generation, new ardour and methods are needed to bring this important truth forward to the people. It is no wonder Pope Paul VI read the signs of the times and emphasised a “New Evangelisation” in his encyclical, Evangelisation in the Modern World. Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have also made evangelisation a focus during their respective pontificates.
The Dialogue of Salvation seminar by Deacon Dr Sherman Kuek approaches the essential aspects of evangelisation and seeks to help the lay faithful to understand their roles in evangelising through dialogue and in the way we live our lives. The seminars were held at Holy Family Church (Kajang) and Jesus Caritas Church (Kepong) during 13th to 14th May and 20th to 21st May respectively. One of Deacon Sherman’s emphasis in all his formation events is that we need to share the Good News in its entirety and in all clarity.
It is our Christian obligation to share our faith with the rest of the world by virtue of our baptismal promise. St John Paul II says it clearly in his encyclical, Redemptoris Missio, that “No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples”. Some of the key ways highlighted by the Church in evangelising through dialogue include first understanding the people and their struggles. Evangelisation occurs most effectively when the Church engages the culture of those she evangelises. But first and foremost, all evangelisation must always be centred on Christ and His Gospel.
It is also important to understand that the sharing of the Gospel is not a task assigned to just the religious. The lay faithful are equally important in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Who else can meet the people in your workplace? To share our faith with the people in a personal way, we need to be genuine. Authenticity in the way we live our Catholic life is absolutely important, which becomes the most powerful way of proposing our way of life to others.
The Splendour Project sees secularism in the modern world as an urgent issue to discuss and have planned this series of talks (including in Mandarin) throughout the year around the region. The next ones in English will be held in Brunei from 4th to 11th June 2017. Click here for more information!
KOTA KINABALU – “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth.” This excerpt from Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Letter, Fides Et Ratio, says it well. Often when faced with questions challenging what we believe in, many of us turn to the popular answer: “We just need to have faith” or “It is a mystery”.
The Christian Truth seminar which was recently held at Sacred Heart Cathedral seeks to provide logical and evidential explanations to the most fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith. Rev. Deacon Dr Sherman Kuek approached some of these questions including “Has the Christian Bible been corrupted?”, “Is Jesus really divine?” and “Do Christians worship three gods?”. It is not surprising that many Catholics, even the most devout ones, struggle to give substantial reasoning to these questions. And yet, apologetics is most important in our demanding times of literacy and intellect. There is a misconception that apologetics is about engaging in arguments with people of different opinion. Apologetics is primarily about clarifying false perception about our faith using reason, logic and relating stories of faith encounter.
There is never a more crucial time than now to be clear on why we believe in the Son of God and to be able to dialogue with people about it. Apathy towards this matter will only see our future generation dissolve into secularism. The feedbacks from the seminar affirm the important role of formation in helping us to be confident in the Catholic Faith.
This seminar will be held again on 29-30 July in Bahasa Malaysia. Please contact any of the following for more information: Matthew (0195805126), Denis (0168435133), Joanna (0165095583)
This seminar was co-organised by the KK Lifeline Community, the KK Archdiocesan Pastoral Resource Team and the Splendour Project.
This article was also published on Catholic Sabah (7th May 2017). Read the full feedback from some of the participants after the picture!
We were also featured on Catholic Sabah's online site here.
It was an excellent seminar, one that not only gives you the facts and truth about our faith but also encourages you to respect and understand the perceptions of non-Catholics of the Catholic Church. While we may not agree with views from friends of other religions about our faith we can try to understand where the misconceptions come from and thus, identify how and where to defend our faith. And by that, doing so in a non-confrontational and respectful manner. Praise God!
This talk is very informative and educational in which, I, as a Christian Catholic who although am faithful to God know very little about Christianity.
The talk was very interactive and easy to understand. I find this talk to be very important for all Christians so that they know the importance of having knowledge of their belief, so that others may not easily influence them and become demotivated of their own faith.
Personally, should there be any talks like this in the future, I would highly recommend my Christian friends to attend, especially the new believers. God Bless.
The talk by Deacon Sherman was very concise, light, easily digestible and simple to follow. It has strengthened my Catholic foundation and reaffirmed my belief and faith in Christ and his Church. It has provided insight into current issues regarding our faith. It also has nudged me to continue in the direction of Christ. It has allowed me a more deeper reflection of my faith.
I really do hope Deacon Sherman will prepare a talk about secularism and a more aggressive atheism.
It’s always an eye-opening and mind-boggling experience after joining Deacon Sherman’s seminars. The Christian Truth was another paradigm shift seminar. Truly my understanding of the Catholic Church’s teachings and faith has widened and deepened to another level.
At times, we may know something about our faith, but do we know it thoroughly? The speaker, Rev. Deacon Dr Sherman Kuek, has effectively connected the dots between the biblical knowledge and the aspects of life in a dynamic and witty way.
The word “eye-opening” would not be able to fully describe the talk by Rev. Deacon Dr Sherman Kuek. This talk made me realise that each and every one of us plays a big role in the building of God’s kingdom on Earth. It also made me understand a little more about the mysteries of the Catholic faith. This talk was very different from the previous talks that I have attended because instead of using personal experiences and sharing, the points were presented with a lot of factual evidence to prove its accuracy. The points were also related with our day to day lives so that we can put into practice what we have learnt. Besides all that, the organising crew of this talk was also amazing. They were very helpful and effective. A large variety of reliable resources were also on sale. I would recommend this talk to my friends and families in the near future.
Deacon Sherman's presentation of the topic is amusing, focused and not straying from the topic at hand. His explanation comes together with the use of typical Malaysian jargon, making it relatable and understandable to everyone compared to the use of sophisticated English vocabulary. Explaining the truth of our faith has never been so lively and enjoyable.
His selection of the topic of discussion is customised to the current affairs of our times, especially in Malaysia which is relatable. His talk covers the many questions raised by our non-Christian friends. These questions are central to our Christian faith, yet most of us who call ourselves devout Christians are oblivious to the reasons and answers to these questions. Such are the very questions that some use to shake our faith.
Deacon Sherman was a very understanding person, especially when it comes to inter-faith dialogue because apart from answering these questions, he has also helped us to understand how their belief leads to the reason behind why they ask such questions in the first place. This in turn helps us to explain our faith with compassion and charity, instead of anger and annoyance.
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Jennifer is an engineer by day, daydreamer by night. Fatally attracted to bunnies, orange and nuggets (especially the chicken type). And occasionally chocolates. Everyday is an occasion.