Friday, November 26, 2010

Pax Sinica Article (2010年11月29日): How to Grow in Faith 如何增長信德

We have just begun the season of Advent, to prepare for the coming of Christ. During this time we use the Advent wreath, with three purple candles and one rose candle.

These candles symbolize the four weeks of Advent. They are also symbols of faith, hope, charity, and joy. In these four weeks we will explore these four spiritual topics as preparation for Christmas. This week we are going to explore "faith."

Supernatural

Faith is a supernatural virtue by which we firmly believe all the truths which God has revealed to us, and which He teaches through the Catholic Church.

The virtue of faith is "supernatural" in its principle, object, and end. The principle of faith is grace; the object of faith is revealed truths; the end of faith is eternal salvation.

Faith involves grace, will, and intellect. The grace of God moves the will, and the will moves the intellect to give assent to revealed truth. Hence, to increase our faith, we must work on the three areas of grace, will, and intellect.

Grace

Faithfulness to grace will lead to an increase of faith, whereas abuse of grace may lead to unbelief. Prayer and the sacraments are the main sources of grace. Faithfulness to religious practices such as Sunday Mass, confession, and daily prayer is very important for preservation of and growth in faith.

Resistance to grace leads to darkness of the mind and hardness of the heart. We need to open our hearts to co-operate with the grace of God, so that we can have greater confidence and devotion in the practice of faith.

Will

An upright will which is faithful to grace welcomes the practice of virtues (e.g. humility and purity) which are required by faith, and are involved in sacrificing our natural feelings.

A perverse will shuns sacrifice, and gives in to evil passions like pride, avarice, and sensuality. These evil passions darken the mind by inclining it to errors which feed its pride, and by binding it to earthly concerns, at the expense of ignoring the spiritual.

Charity gives life to faith. Hence living faith is accompanied by observance of the commandments and dead faith is not accompanied by observance of the commandments. A person in the state of mortal sin has no living faith.

Intellect

A deep study of Christian faith helps us preserve and increase our faith. Study leads to a fuller and more explicit knowledge of the truth.

Traditionally we make a distinction between the remote and the proximate rule of faith. The remote rule of faith is the word of God in Scripture and Tradition. The proximate rule of faith is the authority of the Church, the infallible interpreter of Scripture and Tradition.

In our study of the faith we must first familiarize ourselves with the proximate rule of faith by the study of the Catechism. The study of the lives and writings of the saints officially proposed to us by the Church is very helpful to the growth of our faith.

For our deeper study of the faith we should go into the sources by familiarizing ourselves with the Bible and the writings of the Fathers.

We have a moral obligation to protect our faith by avoiding reading materials that are dangerous to faith. It is very important for parents to safeguard their children from inappropriate materials.

The Advent season reminds us of Our Lady, who prepared for the coming of Christ. She is the woman of faith. With her help let us strive to deepen our faith by prayer, doing good, and study.

我們剛踏入預備基督聖誕的將臨期。將臨期共四週,以燃點四枝具有象徵意義的顏色蠟燭 —— 三枝紫色、一枝玫瑰紅色 —— 反映我們應以怎樣的心靈,迎接救主耶穌的降臨。而這四枝蠟燭,亦代表了信德、望德、愛德與喜樂。本週,讓我們先探討一下「信德」。

超性之德

信德促使我們深信天主所啟示的真理,及祂藉聖教會授給我們的信條。信德是超性之德,因為它以: 一、聖寵為根本;二、啟示真理為對象;三、永生為終向。天主的聖寵推動人的意志,意志推動理智去認同啟示的真理。故此,要保持和增長信德,則要從聖寵、意志和理智著手。

聖寵

善用聖寵能增加信德,反之,濫用聖寵會造成對天主背信棄義。祈禱與聖事,是獲得聖寵的主要方法;因此,聖功如彌撒、告解和日禱,為保守強化信德非常重要。我們絕不可忽視祈禱與聖事。拒絕順從聖寵會導致思想不清、心靈頑硬。我們需要開放心扉,與天主聖寵合作,以期用更大的信賴和熱誠,活出信德。

意志

正直的意志會忠於天主的聖寵,並樂於遜守其他幫助信德的德行(如謙遜、貞潔);實踐這些德行要求我們克制本性的情感。

任意妄為的意志,迴避了克制的精神,沉溺於偏情如驕傲、貪婪和肉慾;令自負彌漫著思維、俗性瞞閉了超性。

愛德給予信仰生命,所以,恪守天主誡命與信德是不可分割,否則,信仰是死的 —— 犯了大罪的人的信仰是沒有生命的。行善避惡的意志為保守強化信德非常重要。

深入地研讀道理能幫助保守和增強信德。研讀幫助對真理有更明確的認識。

傳統來說,信仰的規律可分為「遠」和「近」。遠的信仰規律源自聖經和聖傳,近的信仰規律便是遵從聖教會的訓令,因為聖教會能「不能錯」地詮釋聖經及聖傳。

學習聖教會要理是最有效塑造信德的開始。閱讀聖教會聖人們的傳記和著作對培育信德大有稗益。此外,熟讀聖經和教父們的文獻指導,能加深對啟示的真理的認識。

我們有義務保守信德,避免危害信德的言論或報刊荼毒理智,父母有責任以相應的行動,防護子女的信德。

聖母是信德的典範,將臨期更提醒我們,聖母是如何準備迎接耶穌的降誕。藉聖母的助佑,讓我們以祈禱、善功和學習,去堅強我們的信德。

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pax Sinica Article (2010年11月22日): Our Lady of Soufanieh appeals for unity of Christians 索菲尼聖母呼籲基督徒合一

Over the last three weeks we have been looking at different approved apparitions. This time we are looking at the apparitions of Our Lady of Soufanieh in Damascus, Syria. This private revelation has been approved by both Catholic and Orthodox bishops.

On Nov. 22, 1982, Mirna, a newly wedded young lady, prayed for her sick sister-in-law, Layla. Oil exuded from Mirna's hands, and Layla was cured. On Nov. 27, oil started to exude from an icon of Our Lady at Mirna's home.

Apparitions of Our Lady

Our Lady appeared five times to Mirna. The first apparition was on Dec. 15, 1982. Mirna was frightened by the apparition. A priest encouraged Mirna to prepare for the return of Our Lady with fervent prayers.

Our Lady appeared again on Dec. 18, 1982, and gave the following messages:

"My children, remember God, because God is with us."

"Do good to those who do evil, and do not harm anyone."

"Repent and have faith, and remember me in your joy. Announce my Son the Emmanuel. He who announces Him is saved, and he who does not announce Him, his faith is vain."

"Love one another. I am not asking for money to give to churches, nor for money to distribute to the poor. I am asking for love. Those who distribute their money to the poor and to churches, but have no love, those are nothing."

The third apparition was on Jan. 8, 1983. The Virgin Mary was crying. She appeared again on Feb. 21 with the following messages:

"Do not insult the haughty who are devoid of humility. The humble person craves other people's remarks to correct his shortcomings, while the corrupt and haughty neglects, rebels, becomes hostile. Forgiveness is the best thing."

"He who pretends to be pure and loving before people is impure before God."

"I would like to request something from you, a word that you will engrave in your memory, that you shall always repeat: God saves me, Jesus enlightens me, the Holy Spirit is my life, thus I fear nothing."

"Forbear and forgive."

The fifth and final apparition was on March 24, 1983. Our Lady gave this message on unity:

"The Church that Jesus adopted is one Church, because Jesus is one. The Church is the kingdom of heaven on earth. He who has divided it has sinned. And he who has rejoiced from its division has also sinned. Jesus built it. It was small. And when it grew, it became divided. He who divided it has no love in him."

"Gather! I tell you: 'Pray, pray, and pray again!' How beautiful are my children when they kneel down, imploring. Do not fear, I am with you. Do not be divided as the great ones are. You, yourselves, will teach the generations the word of unity, love, and faith."

Ecstasies and stigmata

Mirna experienced ecstasies 37 times from 1983-2004. During ecstasies she saw Jesus or Mary. The messages she received during ecstasies summed up important Christian messages like Trinity, Incarnation, repentance to the Lord, mediation of Mary, prayer and fasting, sanctity of marriage, and unity of the Church.

As a sign of unity, Mirna had stigmata when Easter for the Western Church and the Eastern Church landed on the same day.

本週,我們再看看天主教和東正教主教同時所確認的一個真實聖母顯現個案。這次是敘利亞、大馬士革的索菲尼Soufanieh。

事情發生在一九八二年十一月二十二日,結婚不久的穆妮Mirna,正為生病的妯娌、妮拉Layla祈禱;穆妮的手突然滲出油劑,妮拉卻又突然痊癒過來。十一月二十七日開始,穆妮家中的聖母圖像,滲出油來。

聖母給穆妮顯現了五次。一九八二年十二月十五日的首次顯現,倒把穆妮嚇呆了,神父鼓勵她以熱切的祈禱,準備聖母另次的顯現。十二月十八日,聖母果然再顯現,並給穆妮以下訊息:

「我的孩子們,要記得天主,因為祂常與我們一起。

以德報怨,不要傷害他人。

要有信德,要悔改!在喜樂中記得我。宣示我兒厄瑪奴爾。宣示祂的人會得救,不宣示祂的人的信仰是徒然的。

要互愛。我不要求你們捐獻教會,也不叫你們施捨窮人,而是去愛。捐獻或施捨,假如沒有愛心,都是徒然的。」

翌年的一月八日,聖母第三次顯現給穆妮 —— 穆妮只見得聖母在哭。二月二十一日,聖母第四次顯現時指出:

「不要指罵傲慢和缺乏謙卑的人。謙遜的人喜愛別人指出自己的短處;然而敗壞傲慢的人會忽視、反叛、和充滿敵意。寬恕是最好的選擇。

在別人面前偽裝純潔和仁愛的人,在天主面前是污穢的。

妳銘記這經文,並經常祈禱:天主拯救我,耶穌光照我,聖神是我的生命,我無所畏懼!

要克制、要寬恕。」

同年三月二十四日的顯現,是最後一次。聖母呼籲合一:

「耶穌創立的教會是唯一的教會,因為耶穌是唯一的。教會是地上的天國,分裂教會的人犯了罪,喜歡教會分裂的人也犯了罪。耶穌建立教會,她原本很細小。她增長,人們卻分裂她。分裂教會的人,心中沒有愛。

我說:要團聚。要祈禱!祈禱!祈禱!當我的孩子跪下來懇求,那是多麼的美啊!不要怕,我與你們在一起。不要像那些大人物,互相分裂。你們自己要以合一、愛德和信德的言行,世代孕育。」

神魂超拔和五傷

一九八三年至二零零四年間,穆妮共有三十七次神魂超拔,並見到耶穌或聖母。他們傳遞給穆妮有關基督徒重要的訊息,例如:三位一體、聖言降生、歸依天主、聖母的轉禱、祈禱與齋戒、婚姻的神聖,和教會的合一等。

為象徵合一,當天主教和東正教同時慶祝復活節時,耶穌苦難的傷印在穆妮身上出現。

讓我們遵從索菲尼聖母的吩咐,為基督徒的合一,多祈禱和多行愛德善功。

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekend (Nov. 13-14)

Day of Recollection for members of Catholic Women League from St. Francis Xavior (Chinese) Parish.

  • Talks on approved apparitions of Our Lady and the Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope, & Charity)
  • Exposition of sacred relics, with explanations, veneration, and blessing
  • Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confessions

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Late last night--- watched the latest episode of Catholic Investigative Agency on Rebellion in the Church. The point they made at the episode is “The Catholic Church is being torn apart by traitorous clerics within Her own ranks who have succumbed to humanist philosophies out of cowardice, lust and pride.”

The episode is very informative and thoughts provoking. In fact, the attitude of rebellion against authority began by Martin Luther has been the source of much evil in the Church and in the world. In recent years, rebellion against authority on moral issues has brought disasters to the Church (e.g. the sex abuse scandal).

Please click HERE to watch the episode.

The Readings of today’s Mass reminded me of the testimony of Gloria Polo from Columbia. She was struck by lightning and had a close to death experience. She experienced hell and judgment, and is now (with the approval of her local Bishop) sharing her experience with others.

You can download her “testimony in word” HERE.

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 Baptism of a baby girl (Nov. 14)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pax Sinica Article (2010年11月15日): Lessons on prayer and peace from Our Lady of Nicaragua 尼加拉瓜聖母對祈禱與和平的指引

In the last two weeks we looked at two approved Marian apparitions. This week we are going to Central America, where Our Lady appeared to a humble and poor man, Bernardo Martinex, in Nicaragua in 1980.


Pray Rosary well


   The first apparition took place on May 8. Our Lady told Bernardo that she wanted the Rosary to be prayed every day. She recommended praying the Rosary with the reading of Bible citations, and told us not to pray in a rush. Our Lady also asked us to renew the Five First Saturdays devotion. She told Bernardo to spread the message.


   On May 16 Our Lady appeared again to encourage Bernardo to spread the message and to tell the priest.


   Our Lady appeared the third time on June 8. Bernardo saw visions of four groups of people. The first group was early Christians.


   People from the second group were dressed in white (probably Dominicans). When they prayed the Rosary, one of them first read from the Bible, and then everyone meditated silently on the words. Then they prayed the Our Father and 10 Hail Marys.


   The third group was Franciscans, and they received the Rosary from the second group. People from the fourth group were in normal street clothes and carried rosaries.


   On July 8 an angel appeared to Bernardo. The angel made a number of prophesies which all came to pass. He foretold the release of a boy from jail, the abatement of the drinking problem of a man, and the killing of Bernardo's cousin.


   Peace and patience


   The fourth apparition of Our Lady was on Sept. 8. A man had given Bernardo some money for the building of a church, and so he asked Our Lady if she wanted a church built in her honour.


   She said, "No! The Lord does not want material churches, He wants living temples, which are yourselves. Restore the sacred temple of the Lord. In you is the gratification for the Lord. Love each other. Love one another. Forgive each other. Make peace. Don't just ask for it, make peace.


   "From this day on do not accept even one cent for anything. Always continue firmly in the catechism. Little by little you will comprehend all that the catechism signifies. As a community group meditate on the beatitudes, away from all the noise. I am not going to return on the 8th of October, but on the 13th."


   On Oct. 13 everyone saw a big luminous circle on the ground. Our Lady appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows and gave the following messages: "Pray the Rosary. Meditate on the mysteries. Listen to the Word of God spoken in them."


   "They ask of me things that are unimportant. Ask for faith in order to have the strength so that each can carry his own cross. The suffering of this world cannot be removed. That is the way life is.


   "There are problems with the husband, with the wife, with the children, with the brothers. Talk, converse, so that problems will be resolved in peace. Do not turn to violence. Never turn to violence. Pray for faith in order that you will have patience."


   "Nicaragua has suffered a great deal since the earthquake, and will continue to suffer if all of you don't change. If you don't change you will hasten the coming of the Third World War.


   "Pray, pray, my son, for all the world. Grave dangers threaten the world. The mother never forgets her children, and I have not forgotten what you suffer. I am the mother of all of you sinners."

過去兩週,我們談及教會確認兩宗真實的聖母顯現。本週我們來到中美洲,看看聖母在尼加拉瓜,顯現給謙遜和貧窮的納鐸.馬天力Bernardo Martinex的個案。

唸好玫瑰經

一九八零年五月八日的首次顯現,聖母告訴納鐸: 她希望人們每天誦唸玫瑰經,並勸勉在唸玫瑰經時誦讀當中奧蹟有關的聖經章節,切勿趕急馬虎地唸。聖母重申要求履行連續五個首瞻禮七(星期六)對她的敬禮。她告訴納鐸去傳揚信息。

五月十六日,聖母第二次顯現給納鐸,鼓勵他如實告訴神父,把她的訊息發佈。

第三次顯現在六月八日。當時聖母給納鐸看到有四群人:第一群是早期的基督徒;第二群是穿白袍的人(道明會會士),有一人首先道出玫瑰經一端的奧蹟,隨即朗誦一些聖經章節,其他人則靜靜地默想這些聖言,然後他們齊口誦唸一遍天主經和十遍聖母經;第三群是方濟會會士,他們從道明會會士接受了玫瑰經的敬禮;第四群的人,穿著一般衣物,手裡拿著玫瑰唸珠。

七月八日,有天使給納鐸作了一些預言:有一名孩童從監獄中被釋放、兩名酗酒者有所改進,和納鐸一個表親被殺。這些預言後來全部應驗。

和平與容忍

有人奉上金錢,請納鐸建造一座聖堂,納鐸請示聖母。九月八日,聖母第四次顯現,囑咐納鐸別為恭敬她而建堂,相反,指出天主不要人手建造的聖殿,而要人重修內心的聖殿;天主能臨在人心的聖殿於願已足。聖母續說:「你們要互愛互諒,不要只祈求和平,而要締造和平。從今天起,不要接受任何金錢。謹隨教理,你自會漸漸體會教理的指引。要在一個靜寂的環境,一同默想真福八端。下月的顯現不會在第八天,而是十月十三日。」

如期的顯現,在場人士都看見地上有一個大光環。聖母以痛苦聖母的形像顯現給納鐸,說明要誦唸玫瑰經、默想玫瑰經奧蹟,聆聽奧蹟中的天主聖言。聖母道:「告知他們,他們所要求的並非重要。祈求堅強的信德罷!信德能賦予背十字架的力量。塵世旅途間的痛苦不能免去。人生就是這樣。夫婦、子女、兄弟間會有困難。要以對話和溝通,才能和諧地解決,切勿演變成暴力。為自己的信德祈禱,旨能增進內心的容忍。」

「尼加拉瓜自地震以來承受了極大苦痛;你們如果不悔改,苦痛將會持續。世人如果不悔改,終會速成第三次世界大戰。我兒,為世界多多祈禱罷!世界正面臨莫大的危機!母親永不會忘記自己的兒女。我不會忘記你們的痛苦。我是你們眾罪人之母!」

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day Trip with Prayer Groups Members (2010年11月11日)

I was happy to spend a day with members of my 3 prayer groups on a day trip of prayer and fellowship.

We began our day with 8:15 Mass at St. Patrick’s. Then we drove in 2 buses to the Garden of Gethsemane (Catholic Cemetery & Mausoleum). We prayed the 5 Glorious Mysteries at 5 locations with blessing of graves.

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Lunch at Crescent Beach. Too bad, many restaurants were closed. It was good that a few of them still opened.

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Prayed 1st Sorrowful Mystery outside Holy Cross Church at Crescent Beach.

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Visited Good Shepherd Church in Surrey, listened to the vocation story of Father Edwin Kulling (ordained on May 22, 2010), received blessing from Father Edwin (with relic of St. Martin of Tours), and prayed the 2nd Sorrowful Mystery.

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Visited St. Bernadette’s Parish in Surrey, listened to the vocation story of Father Rodney Nootebos (also ordained on May 22, 2010), received blessing from Father Rodney (with relic of St. Bernadette), and prayed the 3rd Sorrowful Mystery.

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Visited St. Joseph’s Parish in Langley, prayed the 4th Sorrowful Mystery, followed by blessing of Mary Help of Christians.

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Visited St. Paul’s Parish in Richmond, listened to the vocation story of Father Swann Kim (also ordained on May 22, 2010), received blessing from Father Swann Kim (with relics of 5 saints inside a crucifix), and prayed the 5th Sorrowful Mystery.

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I also blessed the members with relics of St. Anthony and St. Dominic.

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After returning to St. Patrick’s, some of us went out for Chinese dinner.

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We are very grateful for the opportunity to pray for the dead, and to meet the three newly ordained priests of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.