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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Day 3 ~ 8th Conference Catholic Women Of East Malaysia (27th August 2014)

Sandakan : The third day of the conference, 27th August 2014 began with the Eucharistic celebration, presided over by Fr Thomas Makajil, the rector of St Mary's Cathedral, con celebrated by Archbishop John Wong, Fr Rhobby Mojolou, Fr Rudolf Joannes and Fr Claudius Andrew.
Fr Thomas, in his homily touched on the Joy of the Gospel, the latest exhortation of Pope Francis. The Joy of the Gospel reminds us the need to return to the Gospel, the source of our joy and life.

'Women of God,' the theme of the Convention invites members to know more of oneself and understand deeper one's identity. He called on them to continue to be witnesses relevant to the current global situation, inflicted with conflicts and persecutions.

He said, 'Be not just relevant but effective catalyst in your family, community and the church. Be like the women in the times of Jesus.'
Rt Rev Cornelius Piong, Bishop of Keningau presented the 4th session, titled 'Go, Light the World.' The prelate cited EG (120), "In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples." All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization" 

In Genesis 1 : 31, he shared about the Creation story where man chose his own way instead of the saving plan of God. He cross referred to John 3 : 19, Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

True happiness can only be achieved if we have the right relationship with God and fellow being. As 'Women of God,' one needs to lean towards God and does His will. He urged everyone to remain united with Him, rooted and built up in Him (Col 2 : 7). With that, we would be light to the world; family and community.

He asked the participants to reflect on; 'Steps taken to strengthen our faith in the family' and 'How can we be light to others.' He shared on his 3 approaches that can make us, bearers of light to the world;
  • Choose and make time for the Lord
  • Pray and seek the Holy Spirit for strength, wisdom and discipline 
  • Lead a community life 
People around us will see, hear and touched Christ through us. Always remember to look to Mother Mary, our model of faith.
Bishop Julius of Sandakan spoke on "Catholic Family Spirituality" on the 5th session. He touched on the Christian Family, referring to Genesis  2 : 28, 'God made a suitable partner for man.' The two become one body and are to multiply. They form a life long union (Matthew 19 : 6). They are to give religious upbringing to their children (Eph 6 : 4) The sequence lays a stable foundation for the family.

The home is a mission base for evangelization. It is a training ground to encounter Christ, where they not only meet Him but live in Him. Family values must be strongly grounded and upheld, to ward off evil forces; contraceptive, abortion, divorce, extra marital relationship, cohabitation, same sex marriage, couples not wanting children, families not actively passing on the Catholic faith.

The prelate quoted from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, "The new evangelization depends largely on the domestic the new evangelization is inseparable from the Christian family." From Blessed Pope John Paul II, - "The future of the world and the Church passes through the families. Renewal of the families in faith would lead us to the well being of individuals and the eventual stability of the church."

The prelate invited participants to recall of their Sacrament of Matrimony, their commitment and the vows made during their wedding. All these lead to life-long relationship based on faith and love. Catholic’s family spirituality is about human, faith formation; promotion of the Gospel values in the family; promotion of culture of life and witnessing.
Fr Rudolf Joannes from the Diocese of Keningau presented the final, 6th session on 'Prayer, Faith, Action.' He touched on the general sense of prayer and in the Catholic context as a form of talking to God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary or to the Saints. Prayer is indeed the gate leading into faith.
The effort to pray daily is part of Christian life. Faith is knowledge and trust (of the things not seen). It has 7 characteristics:
  • Faith is a sheer gift of God, which we receive freely when we fervently ask for it.
  • Faith is the supernatural power that is absolutely necessary if we are to attain salvation.
  • Faith requires the free will and clear understanding of a person when he accepts the divine invitation.
  • Faith is absolutely certain, because Jesus guarantees it. (Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Mat 17:20).
  • Faith is incomplete unless it leads to active love
  • Faith grows when we listen more and more carefully to god’s Word and enter a lively exchange with him in prayer.
  • Faith gives us even now a foretaste of the joy of heaven.
Prayer requires action on our part. Too many who pray, fail to follow up their prayers with ACTION!  They pray and seek God for a need in their life, and then sit back waiting for God to meet their need.  Never forget that we pray out of faith, and true Biblical faith requires ACTION!
While the delegates were having group sharing / reflection,  the coordinators of the Catholic Women's Apostolates / Leagues / Guilds of the 5 participating arch / dioceses met to chart out their next course of action in preparation of the 9th conference. Archbishop John Wong presided the meeting, held in the late afternoon.
The day's program ended with a social evening, the  “Sarong Nite”at the pool side of the hotel.

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