Through Holy Week, I had been excited to pen down about Lent and Easter because I knew there would be so much to say! However, when I finally got down to it this morning, I was devastated to learn about the attacks on Christians in Lahore, Pakistan.
You know how often we lament “Christianity is an impossibility! I am exhausted, tired and pained to be a Christian. Why must I remain good in the face of people I feel <%#@*&%> about. Why must I pray? Why must I spend hours lingering with other Catholics who I don’t even know or like? What do I gain from all this?”
Just last week on Maundy Thursday, a friend of mine invited me to the Chrism Mass at St Joseph’s church. I have never heard of the Chrism Mass (link to 2015 write-up on SG’s Chrism mass) and I was slightly reluctant to go. I replied that I could only confirm on the day itself. Somehow on Thursday, I was able to make it. It was sweltering hot and I had to stand at the car park amidst the crowd, tip-toeing to catch a peek of the big screen in front. I could feel drops of sweat running down my back and legs and all I could think of was how smelly I would be when I return to the office!
On Maundy Thursday, I received a message from somebody in Treasure:
I think…quite paisehs to admit, but I never knew about this. In fact I have never been to Maundy Thursday mass before, and I never questioned why there is no consecration of the Eucharist on Good Fridays. I thought it was to save time because Good Friday service is already so long…
But having said that, I still wasn’t sure about attending mass on Maundy Thursday evening because I was meeting a friend for dinner who I haven’t met for some time. However, by some luck and grace, the dinner ended early enough and I had more than enough time to go home and prepare for mass. What’s more, the Maundy Thurday mass in St Anthony (5 mins walk from my home) was one of the later ones at 9:30pm! No choice but to go huh? =p And this wasn’t the end. Time and again I was revolving through my ups and downs on whether to attend the St Joseph’s Good Friday candle light procession (link to 2015 procession youtube preview) and Easter Vigil. But somehow, things always go so smoothly that I could participate in good time!
Easter Vigil was definitely the highlight of my first ever Triduum mass. I’ve often heard how priests appeal to people to come celebrate with our Elects as they join our church as Neophytes. I mean yes….I fully agree that I share in the joy of welcoming new people, but if I were to be very honest with myself, I didn’t quite understand how I could fully participate physically and emotionally if I didn’t even know them personally?
Nevertheless, I stepped into St Anthony’s church confused by the darkness. The main Parish hall had its shuttles down and everyone was led to the basement. I didn’t know why almost everybody had a candle in hand and I didn’t. I didn’t know why there was a big fire going on in the car park.
There were a lot of ‘don’t knows’ going on in my head, but I went with the flow. I loved the part when Fr Terrence held the Easter candle and walked around the congregation. The Elects wore a long hooded brown robe that shielded their faces. There was also a metal chain that ran around the back of their necks to their hands. They sat around the congregation and when Fr Terrence walked pass, they would follow the Easter candle. They walked to the front where they were baptized with water and released their hoods and chains. It was really a beautiful scene to behold and I was overwhelmed with how much love and mercy God has for us! For wherever and whoever we are, God will find us and bring us home.
In my joy I recognize that not everybody in this world is as lucky as us here. Even in our safe guarded environment such as one in Singapore, I dragged my feet and complained about the heat or mild discomfort during long services. I cannot even come close to imagine how the real Christians persist with such courage in places where your religion becomes a threat to your earthly life. Just 2.5 years ago in Pakistan, there was also an attack targeted at Christians in a church.
I don’t think I can confidently say that I will remain true to Christ in worse, or even in better. But I guess that proves even more that I need to pray, to participate with and to know Jesus so much more.
I pray that for every mass celebrated around the world, that we can get a little closer to God and for each mass to be cherished and treated so preciously in our hearts.
Just some more comments on participating in Mass ^^
Graces Derived from Assisting at Mass
Note: Assisting at Mass simply means attending Mass. By attending a Mass Catholics are actually assisting in Mass.
THE FOLLOWING IS FROM THE PIETA PRAYER BOOKLET, Published in U.S.A. by MLOR Corporation, 1186 Burlington Drive, Hickory Corners, MI 49060-9330:
1. The Mass is Calvary continued.
2. Every Mass is worth as much as the sacrifice of our Lord’s life, sufferings and death.
3. Holy Mass is the most powerful atonement for your sins.
4. At the hour of death the Masses you have heard will be your greatest consolation.
5. Every Mass will go with you to judgment and plead for pardon.
6. At Mass you can diminish more or less temporal punishment due to your sins, according to your fervor.
7. Assisting devoutly at Holy Mass you render to the sacred humanity of Our Lord the greatest homage.
8. He supplies for many of your negligences and omissions.
9. He forgives the venial sins which you have not confessed. The power of Satan over you is diminished.
10. You afford the souls in Purgatory the greatest possible relief.
11. One Mass heard during life will be of more benefit to you than many heard for you after your death.
12. You are preserved from dangers and misfortunes which otherwise might have befallen you. You shorten your Purgatory.
13. Every Mass wins for you a higher degree of glory in Heaven.
14. You receive the priest’s blessing which Our Lord ratifies in Heaven.
15. You kneel amidst a multitude of holy angels, who are present at the adorable Sacrifice with reverential awe.
16. You are blessed in your temporal goods and affairs.
In eternity, we shall fully realize that it was certainly worthwhile to have assisted at Holy Mass daily.
* Pray for priests that they may offer the Mass with holy love and reverence *