The 51ST International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu recently saw Catholics giving inspiring “witness” testimonies of the boldness and courage of Christians in Asia amid persecution and suffering.
Feisty 84-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, “the Cardinal Sin of Hong Kong,” gave a bold account of how Catholics in Shanghai, including children and youth, defied communist authorities and refused to renounce the faith.
Thai businesswoman Sarindhorn Mativachranon recounted how she was made to take the blame in the downfall of the company she headed during the crash of the Thai baht in the 1990s, which led to a nervous breakdown.
She was about to take her own life when she heard a voice stopping her. She traced the voice to the Christian God—her Buddhist parents having sent her to a Catholic school of the Ursuline nuns. She fought off the charges against her and was cleared in court.
She converted to Catholicism. “In Thai society, where the majority of the population is Buddhist and most Christians do not dare announce their religion, I try my best to live in such a way that people see Christ in me,” said the 66-year-old grandmother.
Faith tested by tsunami
Keichi Sugawara of the Diocese of Ofunato in Japan told delegates how the tsunami in 2011 tested everyone’s faith but provided a shower of blessing—the few Christians banding together that their numbers have increased: “From the ruins [of the disaster], we have been reaping and are still gathering a bountiful harvest of love, solidarity and friendship.”
Meanwhile, Belgian Marianne Servais explained how the joy of Filipino Catholicism made her convert from evangelism.
Argentine juggler and circus performer Paul Ponce presented his lovely family to congress delegates as an example of a practicing Catholic family.
Cardinal Zen and Latin Mass
One of the frequent discussions in the IEC was how to make the Mass more interesting and less “boring” to young people. There were suggestions to “inculturate” or culturally adapt the Mass to the different cultures.
But as if belying all of this, Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, celebrated the traditional Latin Mass at the Asilo de la Milagrosa in Cebu City.
A vocal critic of communist Beijing, Zen, 84, said he hailed from Shanghai where young Catholics in the 1950s refused to denounce the Church despite pressure and persecution by communist authorities.
He said Chinese Catholics grew up with the Latin Mass, which “fortified” their faith.
Caleruega, the picturesque convent of the Dominicans in Nasugbu, Batangas, a favorite of altar-bound couples, will be holding the Holy Week Retreat for Married Couples on March 18-20.
Speakers/facilitators are Fr. Allen de Guzman, OP, of the Caleruega wedding ministry; Fr. Filemon de la Cruz Jr., OP, vice rector for religious affairs of the University of Santo Tomas; Jun and Marion Cruz of the Ligaya ng Panginoon Community; Angelo and Bernadette de la Cruz of the retreat ministry of the Archdiocese of Manila; and Raul Roque of the retreat ministry of the Diocese of Caloocan.
Retreat fee per couple is P7,000 (early bird discount is P6,000). Fee covers board, lodging, food and retreat materials. Tel. 0921-8304226 or 0921-2709890; e-mail [email protected]
Perpetual rosary novena
The Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City is holding a perpetual novena to the Santisimo Rosario de La Naval de Manila every Saturday, 5:30 p.m. Holy Mass follows at 6 p.m.
Santo Domingo Church hosts the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary under the title La Naval de Manila, which commemorates the miraculous victory of the vastly outgunned joint Spanish and Philippine forces over the Protestant Dutch armada in the 17th century.
Mariologist and teacher Fr. Roland Mactal, OP, is prior of Santo Domingo Convent and rector of La Naval shrine.