Monday, January 22, 2007

Divorce rate alarming

Our spouse,a gift from God.

Bring Christ into our lives to stop divorce.

The divorce rate is increasing at an alarming rate all over the world. It is distressing to note that, in Malaysia, there were 19,800 cases of divorce in 2004 and this continues to increase over the years. Even among Catholics it is on the rise. What is happening to our belief that marriages are made in heaven? Where have we gone wrong in upholding the sanctity of matrimony?

As marriage is solemnized by a priest in the presence of Christ, it implies that it is sanctioned by none other than Christ himself. It should also mean that Christ has specially chosen the particular spouse for us who should be the best for us. It will therefore be futile and even foolish of us to leave them for someone “better” in the course of our life. If we really have the faith in Christ, as we profess we do, then we must accept this fact and abide by it. As sanctioned by God Himself, it is therefore sacred and its sanctity must always be safeguarded at all costs.

Today even among Catholics, divorce is slowly being accepted as a norm. What is frightening is that it occurs even after many years of marriage. If only the couples, who took their matrimonial wows, in the presence of Christ, understood that they were chosen for each other by God himself and that they are the best for each other, they would have never considered divorce as the solution to whatever problems that they encounter.

Very often we see only the defects in our spouse. In fact it is much easier to see the bad than the good in them. It is easy for us to say "Lord, I love you", and we do say that many times a day, but very difficult to say the same to our spouses even once. If only we realize that Christ reveals himself daily in our spouses, in their strength and more so in their weaknesses, then saying the phrase to our spouses will be become a joy.

Once when we are convinced that Christ would give us the best in everything, including our spouses, only then will we see the good in them and overlook their shortcomings. This would be the beginning of a lasting and unshakably strong relationship with them that will withstand the stress and strain which are common in the process of bringing up the family.

We preach so much about faith and trust in God and we often presume we have that faith in us at all times. It may be so when times are good but the real test of faith is at times when tragedy strikes and our lives are thrown into disarray.

That is the time we must recall our matrimonial wows we made to the person handpicked by God to be our partner in life, in the presence of His son, Jesus Christ, "I'll be true to you in good and bad times, in sickness and in health ….till death do us apart.".

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Is the Church relevant in our lives?

i agreed with your article BUt u are out of touch to speak of the "average man". did u mean "person"?

mim magu

Is the Church relevant in our lives?

Does the Church realise that women attend Church too? If you re read this article from the perspective of an active female who also manages a household and children; who is also a wage earner perhaps you will see why so many women get discouraged – we seem to be the invisible majority.

Have the bishops considered asking the Mass going parishioners about the relevance of the Church today? They would probably get similar results.

Mary Smith
Diocesan Director
Special Religious Education
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

Phone 02 4979 1329 - Mobile 0404 499 849
Dr Chris,

it occured to me many years ago, when people were already complaining the Church was irrelevant, that relevancy is a two way street. Who is to say the problem is the Church when it can as easily be the people?

One of my favorite readings is from Jeremiah. The Lord tells Jeremiah: generation after generation I have sent these people prophets. They did not listen to them, they will not listen to you either.

I am a great believer in Darwin and the survival of the fittest. Europe lost its faith and is now imploding demographically. Since they will not reproduce, they have no future. Not surviving proves they are not fit. Other Christians are going the same way.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Making the Church relevant today

Is the Church relevant in our lives?

Talk to any priest and his main complain will be the poor attendance at mass and poor participation of the parishioners in Church activities. In fact for every one who attends mass on Sunday, there are probably five others who do not. Why is this number of active participants dwindling over the years?
According to a new study commissioned by the Australian bishops, Catholics disconnected from Mass attendance and other parish life believe the Catholic Church is out of touch with the world today and is not relevant to their own lives.
This was according to the report “Catholics Who Have Stopped Going to Mass,” released by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference recently as reported in the Catholic Online dated 7 December 2006.(
According to the report, the three most commonly mentioned factors that had the most powerful impact on Mass attendance, were:
1. Misuse of power and authority at all levels of the Catholic Church.
2. Irrelevance of the church to life today, as an institution “out of touch with Australian society.” “In their eyes the church had lost its ability to connect with the day-to-day lives of ordinary people and as a result they no longer regarded it as having the authority to guide them in living an authentic life.”
3. Lack of intellectual stimulation, with several noting that the sermons delivered in their parishes “were of poor quality, being ill-prepared, theologically unsound, badly delivered and irrelevant.”
It is encouraging that the Australian Bishops are taking the results of the study concerning “disconnected Catholics” rather seriously to further understand the very complex personal, spiritual and cultural factors which have seen a decline in church-going over recent decades.
I am sure if we conduct a similar study of our own “disconnected Catholics” the reasons given will not differ much from their Australian counterparts. I am sure most of our Catholics, “disconnected” and even a significant number of “connected” will agree that the Church is slowly but surely becoming irrelevant to their lives.
It is timely now for our own bishops and clergy to review the situation in our own country and take proactive measures to make our faith more relevant in the lives of Catholics.
Today the average man is under tremendous pressures to cope with all the problems he is forced to encounter. The greatest challenge is to bring up children who would grow us as individuals with good human values, let alone Christian values.
There is so much crime, violence and vice in the world and our children get entangled in them as they are not given the proper guidance in the home and schools. We, parents and teachers, are all too busy trying to cope with the demands of society. The Church and the clergy are burdened with their own problems and in process our children are totally neglected both spiritually and morally.

Managing the family is an arduous task these days. Firstly there are the marital problems to handle with the spouse and the in-laws. The Church is against divorce but this is increasing by the day even among Catholics. Where does the Church stand with its anti-divorce preaching when its followers are not in a position to follow that?
Then there are the rebellious children under the influence a very materialistic and immoral culture. To them even their parents are becoming irrelevant because of out-dated moral values. Where does the Church stand in their lives?
The teachings of the Church regarding pre-marital sex, adultery and abortion appears to have insignificant effects on them as these vices have become so rampant that in many societies they are being accepted as the norms.
In addition to these are the financial burdens, increasing cost of education, health care, housing and lack of job opportunities. To make matters worse there are the discriminating policies of the government, in schools and offices. What does the Church have to offer to overcome these social problems?
How is an average wage earner going to manage all these? There is nobody to turn to for help and guidance. The government agencies are of no help. His Church which used to be the bastion of defense fails him miserably.
The priests make it even more difficult by imposing their own unrealistic conditions. They seem to be only interested in large crowds at the various celebrations to participate in the numerous rituals which are of no meaning to an already over burdened individual. Instead of reaching to these estranged Catholics, they in fact further isolate them by their unrealistic conditions.
Amidst all these problems, Christ may look irrelevant, as he was to the Jews. But definitely He was relevant to us in the past, He is relevant at present and undoubtedly He will be so in the future. It is up to us, the Christians, clergy and laity alike, to make Him relevant in our lives especially in this era of science and technology when man thinks he is almighty and does not need Him.
The Church must review its role towards this endeavor. It must change to be with the masses like Christ did, and not isolate itself with its outdated thinking based on human theology. It must get involved in the wholesome human development – spiritual, socio-economic, physical and moral. There is no point in the Church bent on singing the same old song to which less and less people are listening, let alone following.
Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, January 12, 2007

The parting of love for Uncle George

Parting with love in the twilight of life

Saturday,November 25 2006, must have been the most dreadful day for Uncle George.At about 5.30pm I got a call from him and over the phone between sobs he said “Doctor, Aunty Grace is dead.I’m all alone now”. He was not able to continue futrher.All I could do was to console him over the phone and headed to visit him as soon as I could.

When I arrived at his place he came forward, hugged and cried. That was the first time I have ever seen him cry. As I had said God’s greatest gift to him was his perpetual cheerfulness. Even between sobs I could see him trying to laugh.

He kept on repeating that he is all alone and there is no one to keep him company. After the funeral was over, he insisted to stay in his house all alone so that he could live with all the fond memories of his wife of 60 long years. In fact he had made arrangements to celebrate his 60th.anniverasary on 28 December 2006 but the Lord had other plans for him instead. I still remember what he told me at our first meeting,

“This year I am 86 and my wife is 82.If we can live till 28.12.06 we will be married for 60 years and we can live to celebrate our diamond jubilee. Yes, you know doctor true love begins when we grow old; I think I love my wife more than I first met her. But soon we will have to part”.

Yes, now the time he dreaded most had come. The dear love of his has parted and he is all alone in this world.

In the days that followed this elderly gentleman at the age of 87 kept on complaining he has no appetite and had sleepless nights thinking of his late wife. He kept writing to me week after week narrating how he was finding it hard to forget her which I think he should not. He prayed and prayed every night that God will unite him soon with his wife.

He even went to the extent in saying how he wished he could preserve aunty Grace in a glass coffin so that he can keep seeing all the time. I was really touched by depth of his love for his wife

As I have said the greatest fear of man is his loneliness, more so when it comes at the twilight of his life when you are drained out of all your physical strength.

Uncle George is just one fine example. There are hundreds, probably thousands of such lonely people around us - in our neighborhood, in our parish, in our place of work and even in our own families.

As Christians are we on the look out for such people who yearn for our company? Some of us may be too busy with our work that we do not recognize them although they are in our midst. All we do is recite a few decades of the rosary or offer a short prayer, but is that enough? Christ I’m would expect more from us than that.

In a world where marriage is not sacred anymore and couples resort to divorce for the slightest problem, the love of Uncle George for his wife of 60 years touched me in many ways. I am resolved to emulate him in my life as well. It further strengthens my firm belief that our spouse is Christ’s selected gift to us and we must treasure them till deaths do us apart.

I hope many, especially married couples, would visit Uncle George not just to console him but to learn from his experiences of 60 years of happily married life. Let us see Jesus waiting for us in the form of Uncle George to guide us with our matrimonial wows.

May God bless Uncle George with many more years of healthy life so that he can continue to be a shining example for all of us.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, January 08, 2007

Evangelism in the modern world

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The layperson and evangelisation

A lay-person has innumerable opportunities to share the Gospel of Christ in every situation he finds himself in (personal, familial, societal, political and economic). When he explains, defends and correctly applies Christian principles to them he is evangelising. With reference to the letter “Evangelise by living Christ’s love in our lives” (HERALD Dec 17) the above is true.
However, Christ’s command in Matt 28:19,20 is: “Go therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you….”
No! Evangelising is a command that needs to be carried out with zeal, enthusiasm and full faith to all people (as Scripture says ‘to the ends of the earth’)! It entails telling people about: 1) The good news about God (Rom 15:16); 2) The good news of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1); 3) The good news of peace (Eph 6:15); and “the everlasting good news” (Rev 14:6).
These bring conflicts and differences amongst laypersons for “they know not what to do”, being constrained by ethnic, religious, societal, economic and civil considerations. This hinders the Church from fulfilling her mission even assuming goodwill and a sincere desire to “Think with the Church” on the part of laypeople.
Well, well, well! It has been four months since the hyped scenario of the PMPC III.
Clarence Abraham

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Happiness is within us

Find happiness in what you are

A man who had been happily married and with a wife and son got fed up with life and wanted to join Buddha in search of peace and happiness.

Buddha advised the man “you have a have a family to take care. It is not right for you to leave them and become a sage.”

But the man insisted and finally Buddha gave in saying “You can come and join me tomorrow, but you must leave your family and all your belongings. The man happily went home and left everything behind and went and joined Buddha in meditation and prayer.

A few days later the man was seen with his dog. When Buddha enquired he replied that his dog was very close to him and it could not stay away from him so he allowed it to accompany him. Buddha smiled and did not say anything.

A couple of days passed, and then Buddha saw the man’s son with him and this time the man explained that the boy missed the dog so much that he could not be without it. Again Buddha smiled but kept quiet.

A week later Buddha noted the man’s wife was also there with the son and the dog. On questioning man explained that the wife missed the son so much that she just can’t bear to be without him.

Buddha called the man and told him “You must go back to the people who love you and depend on you. Lasting peace and happiness can only be found in fulfilling your responsibility to them. Everyone is given a role in this world and we must find satisfaction in being ourselves.”

Very often we are fed up being ourselves. We say things like “How nice to be in the place of people like Bill Gates or David Beckham or Miss World” or “If I was George Bush I would do this and that”.

We always feel that we can find more happiness in being someone else except ourselves. We often grumble that God has been unfair in creating others better than us. Is it so?

Yes, God has created every one of us differently in terms of intelligence, capabilities, talents, wealth and physical appearance. At the same time he has given us all the qualities to make ourselves happy as we are. It is up to us to tap the talents and gifts bestowed on us for a happy and peaceful life.

Dr.Chris Anthony