‘Sequela Christi’ translates into: following Christ.
St. Francis was a great lover and imitator of Christ (Imitatio Christi), conforming to Him not only inwardly but also outwardly (by receiving the Stigmata). This is an annual pilgrimage where members of the Fraternitas – Franciscan Young Adults (FYA) embark on a spiritual journey to receive the Child Jesus in a special way over Christmas in Franciscan Italy.
There, they follow in the footsteps of St Francis and the other Franciscan saints who have gone before us, and find the same humility and joy of the Gospel that he was deeply conformed to.
This video is brought to you by Fraternitas – Franciscan Young Adults(FYA).
FYA is a fraternity of Catholic young adults based in Singapore and led by the Franciscan Friars. FYA meets every Monday 8pm for Lectio Divina, every first Monday of the month for Franciscan Book Club, and every few months they host speakers from around the world in conversation on topics related to Franciscan Spirituality – from social justice to social media, from aesthetics to contemplation.
On 8 October, the Church of St Mary of the Angels will reverberate with song as youth and the young at heart lift their voices in praise of God. Featuring a number of youth praise and worship bands and Friar Derrick Yap OFM singing with Mystic Font, the inaugural Festival of Praise will hopefully be an annual event on the Saturday following the feast of St Francis.
This concert will be a celebration of the gift of St Francis and his spirituality for a contemporary church. It is a time to come together after isolating for the last two years, and what better way than to gather to lift our voices in praise of God for the gift of faith and of Fraternity!
This event is the first presented by Fraternitas, a ministry of the Franciscan Friars to youth and young adults. Fraternitas aims to bring together creative talents from around the Singapore Catholic Church to share and celebrate as one Church. With the concert, Fraternitas hopes to encourage youth bands from around the country to gather in song and music to celebrate what it means to be Church in Singapore.
To compliment the evening of song and music, volunteers from the parish of St Mary of the Angels will hold a food fair pre- and post-concert. The food fair will begin at 5pm.
At this event, Fraternitas will also launch “Canticle”, another community under its wings. Through Canticle, Fraternitas hopes to invite young creatives – musicians, composers, singers, dancers, poets, painters and more – to form a fraternity to journey together in faith,celebrating the gift of their talents.
A series of workshops and retreats is planned for this fraternity in 2023, and from this may spring forth new acts and items for Festival of Praise 2023.
In June, four student friars were sent to Sabah for Mission Exposure. Friars Timothy Fong and Sylvester Singh had a pastoral attachment with Montfort Youth Training Centre (MYTC) in the town of Kinarut, working with the staff, trainees and young adults. Friars Marvin Voo and Julian Chua were assigned to assist the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC) with their youth apostolate, migrant and parish ministries across Kota Kinabalu, Keningau, and Sandakan. They each share a little of that three-week Mission Exposure experience from 12 June to 1 July.
Psalm 100 serves as a solid basis for preaching the Gospel. The joy of the Good News is becoming aware of our relationship with God. If this is not the foundation of the desire to share our faith with others, then inevitably, we are going to push our own agendas. Our own limited versions of spirituality become unstable ground for others, leading to their inability to attain the relationship with God celebrated in Psalm 100.
When “gaining souls” is about checking boxes, making sure that people know how to recite the right prayers properly, this can lead to a shallow faith that does not support living in a world that is confusing and frightening. The faith is reduced to a series of performative actions rather than an expression of joy— joy that we belong to God.
Regretfully, homilies can often be about pushing the preacher’s spirituality onto captive congregations. The preacher’s political stance or his own religious propaganda can hijack the message of the Gospel completely. Or, just as unfortunate, pulpits can become platforms for theatrical displays that distract the people from the mystery of the Gospel, a mystery that requires careful attention and resolute belief in action. Perhaps “the agenda- driven” homilies stem from a fear that the faithful will walk away otherwise.
As Pope Francis made his penitential pilgrimage to Canada to apologise for the harm inflicted by Catholic institutions on indigenous people and their children, a religious scholar, Sister Nuala Kenny, raised some deeply troubling questions in an article* published in La Croix International:
Why were the schools such a profound contradiction to Jesus’ teaching and revelations of a loving God for all persons, lands, and times?
How did evangelisation and colonialism become so maliciously intertwined as early as Pope Nicholas V’s 1455 Doctrine of Discovery, establishing undiscovered lands as terra nullius or nothing until discovered and occupied by Christians?
Can we accept that this established white Western privilege and racism at the heart of the Church in Rome?
Sr Nuala added.“In the schools, there was a forced Christianisation to ‘civilise’ the Indians and formal baptisms, but no true catechesis where students were led to know Jesus and Gospel values.”
How did some preachers of the Gospel get it so wrong? In preaching the word of God today, is there a sincere intention for true catechesis where children,catechumens and even baptised Catholics are “led to know Jesus and the Gospel values”? Do Christians, especially preachers, know and espouse the Gospel values?
In another La Croix International article**, Michael Dyer added to Sister Nuala’s questions:
How did the bishops,superiors of religious orders, government officials and police manage to turn a blind eye to such abuse?
What factors contributed to a toxic culture where human beings did evil things, but thought they were doing good?
How do I personally, and as a member of the Mystical body of Christ, the people of God, make reparation for what is not only individual, but social sin?
The third question is personally troubling. Was it solely the Pope’s responsibility to make the reparation? What about the Mystical body of Christ that is living the Gospel in this part of the world? This surely cannot just be someone else’s issue.
Many people attend church services seeking to hear a message that will give them the will or the strength to live courageously through their difficulties and challenges. If only they are able to depart from church services with hearts made joyful by authentic preaching. If only the truth that we unconditionally belong to and are loved by the Divine anchors them in their actions. Then they will meet each day with the heart of Psalm 100.
When the friars from Malaysia and Singapore gathered for our assembly in July, we were encouraged to restore the Gospel within us. The message was simple: we cannot preach what we do not have. We cannot bring the joy of the Gospel to others when we ourselves do not know what this joy is. We may have the ability to preach or perhaps a reasonable knowledge of the scriptures, but these can distort the message of the Gospel when there is a great divide between the lived faith and preached faith.