Saturday, June 23, 2007

Moving towards greater accountability?

Are we generous with our wealth as we are with prayer?

The statement of accounts of PMPC III presented in the Herald, June 17,is an encouraging move. We hope it is the beginning of an era of greater financial accountability of our Catholic Church in Malaysia, whereby all the dioceses and parishes make public their audited accounts every year.

This will go a long way in improving the accountability and transparency of all financial dealings in every diocese and parish thereby increasing the laity’s trust in the financial managers of the Church. In the long run this would help to further increase the contribution of the laity.

About RM 730,000 has been spent on the PMPC III.This to my mind is a very large sum of money. It is almost a year since the PMPC III and it is time to review and take stock of the benefits it has brought to our community. Are we better off now than before convention? Has it helped to make us better Christians?

No doubt some of the participants would have benefited but by enlarge the majority of ordinary Catholics were not even aware of the deliberations and decisions made at the PMPC III.Most of them were not even told of the plans formulated to encounter the numerous challenges we face in the country today. I do not see how in such an environment of secrecy, an ordinary member of the church could have benefited from the convention.

There are many among us out in the “wilderness” who are in great need of material aid - food, shelter, clothing, books, education and medical treatment. There are many more deprived of their rights to affordable quality education, healthcare, housing and even basic human rights.

As Christians we are often very generous with our prayers for them but unwilling to grant their material needs which is what they urgently require. As the Church, we have the resources to help but not the magnanimity to do so. We are willing to spend large sums on activities for ourselves but reluctant to spare some for others in need.

We are hesitant to help them because we are suspicious that they may be cheating us. We put up unreasonable bureaucratic conditions for approving such aid, just to make it difficult or almost impossible for these poor to get it.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fathers’ Day 2007

A tribute to all Dads

Let's treat them in a manner we will never regret later

We just celebrated Fathers’Day.There would have been many among us who traveled long distances to be with our fathers on this auspicious day. Many more would not have made it due to work commitments. Others may not see the need to do so. Whatever situation we may be in, it is undeniable that our fathers played a very important role in shaping our destiny and for being what we are today including our physical appearance.

Like all other events these days, Fathers’ Day too has become so commercialized that it seemed to have lost its true meaning and spirit. The business community has taken advantage to reap huge profits from the sale of gifts, flowers, food, beverages and other promotions.

Many of us may be fortunate to still have our fathers with us, alive and healthy. Others may not be that lucky, their fathers may be seriously ill, handicapped or even dead. There are others whose fathers may be in their death beds waiting for a last glimpse of their children who for some reason or other are unable to fulfill that last wish.

Some of us may be unfortunate to have fathers who are lazy,irresponsible,drunkards and tyrants, but by enlarge most of us are endowed with fathers with all the positive attributes – caring, loving, responsible and hard working. They toil day and night for our welfare.

What should Fathers’ Day mean to us? Should it be the only day in the year when we remember and reflect on the contributions and sacrifices of our fathers for us? Should it be the only day when we reward him for his sacrifices? Is the buying of expensive gifts and treating him with luxurious banquets the only ways of repaying his love?

Our fathers showered their love on us every moment of the day throughout the year and not just on certain days dedicated to us. Similarly it would only be fitting and just that we too shower him with love and gratitude every day of our lives.

On this auspicious day let us pause and relive the memorable days of our past with our fathers. Let us recall the pleasant as well the unpleasant experiences we had with him. Many of us are ourselves fathers today and only now fully understand the feelings of our fathers when they undertook the arduous task of bringing us up to what we are today.

Most of our fathers were simple and belonged to working class. They could not provide all us the luxuries of life. It is not the great material gifts they gave us that we remember most and cherish but rather their small sacrifices that really touched us that remain embossed in our hearts.

We remember the days when, rain or shine, they used to carry us on their bicycles to and from school. We can imagine the sadness in their faces when they are unable to give us our daily pocket money to school. We remember the smile in his face reflecting the pride in his heart when we excel in school, in examination or sports. We remember the touch of their hands that massaged our injured bodies.

We remember the sadness in his face when we left home for the first time for further studies. We remember the eagerness with which he waits for us each time we return home from college and the “elaborate” plans he has to spend our short holiday with the family.

We remember when some tragedy strikes the family, when the family breaks down, weeping and crying, he alone with great courage, conceals his emotions, to lift us out of the mishap. As fathers now, we understand the pain and agony that he would have endured to do that.

This is a day to reflect on how we have and continue to treat our fathers. Are we grateful for that they have done for us? Despite our elevated positions in life, do we still accept them as the respectable head of our family, seeking their advice on all important decisions?

We may not be in a position to repay them monetarily. In fact many of them may not be in a position to enjoy the luxuries of what wealth can provide. We can spend a little valuable time with them, basking in the memories of the past.

Our fathers may be advanced in age and infirm and we may not have much time left. Let us treat them in a manner which we will not regret later. We must not forget that our attitude and actions today will have a subtle but profound influence on our children on how they would treat us in the future.

For those of us who are not fortunate enough to have our fathers with us, let us not be mere bearers of their names but their virtues. Let us be the symbols of their values and principles in life for which they stood steadfast.

As Christians let us ask ourselves how we treat our own fathers? Do we treat them with respect and dignity? Do we accord them the importance they deserve and consult them on major decisions or brush them aside just because their opinions are not relevant anymore?

Some of us are willing to spend hours praising and worshiping our heavenly father, whom we cannot see, hear or touch, but ignore the pleas of our earthly fathers, living in isolation in our own homes. We leave them behind in solitude, as we go in search of God from one church to another, to celebrate the various feasts. We totally forget that Jesus is waiting for us in the form of our elderly and irrelevant father at home.

Dr.Chris Anthony