Sunday, October 4, 2009
Today is the 4th October 2009. It is also the 27th Sunday in Ordinary time if you are liturgically minded.
So what’s so special about today?
Well, of course Sunday is always special. After all, it’s the Lord’s day and we should take the time to worship, rest and relax (in that order).
What makes it a bonus of course, is when you hear a homily which inspires and uplifts.
Well that was what I heard today. The parish was St Joseph’s Church (Bukit Timah). The mass was 11am. And the homilist was Fr. Alex Chua, Vocations Director and Chaplain for the Universities, Archdiocese of Singapore.
And he chose to preach about contraception, and why Catholics who use contraception should go to confession for they would be guilty of serious sin.
To be honest, it was simply a typical Sunday Mass for me. I arrived just in time, settle down to the pew, tried to follow the Gloria and the Kyrie as best as I could and sat down to listen to the readings.
The first reading was from Genesis 2, 18-24 where we heard that God created man and woman and that a man shall leave his father and mother and unite with his wife and the two shall be one flesh.
The Gospel was from Mk 10,2-16 where Jesus spoke against divorce and quoted Genesis 2, 18-24 to demonstrate God’s original plan for man and woman.
Fr. Alex Chua read the Gospel and proceeded to give the homily.
Fr Alex then recounted an incident where a woman who had three children complained bitterly to him that because of her “stupid husband”, she is now pregnant with her fourth child. She resents that and asked Fr Alex, “where in the bible does it say that couples cannot use contraception”.
And for good measure, she informed Fr Alex that she did ask a priest about this and he gave such a convoluted answer that it was of no help at all.
I cringed at the beginning of the homily, wondering where all this would lead. Would Fr. Alex proceed to attack the Church’s teaching on contraception? Would he disparage the clear teaching of Humane Vitae?
I saw my parish priest, Fr Edmund, a man known for his orthodoxy and fidelity to church teaching (he is never seen without his roman collar), squinting his eyes and listening attentively to what would be preached.
My fears were unfounded. What followed was a wonderful homily on the truth of marital love and conjugal union that I nearly wept for joy.
Fr Alex proceeded to give a learned scriptural exegesis on the Bible’s description of the conjugal union as a one flesh union.
“In the conjugal act”, preached Fr Alex, “it is an act of total and unreserved self giving.” “You are attempting to be one flesh with your spouse. How can you be one flesh when you refuse to give your spouse your sperms or eggs?”
Fr proceeded to share that the conjugal act possess two meanings, union and procreation. By separating the procreative dimension from the unitive, couples would fail to unite themselves completely too and that is a recipe for selfishness.
“Contraception is death dealing”, insisted Fr Alex, “we are people of life and true union is the goal of every marriage, especially in the conjugal act.” “What happens in the bedroom will affect what happens in the day to day of married life. If there is no union there, there would not be true union in a marriage.”
Fr proceeded to assure couples that the church does not insist that you must have as many children as possible but insists on responsible parenthood. “Every couple who marries ought to know about natural family planning. Please check with the parish secretary for NFP information.”
He subsequently shared that the woman who challenged him admitted that he did know the scripture after all.
And to end it all, he urged couples who are contracepting to throw away their contraceptives into the rubbish bin, begin dialogue with each other and come for confession and be reconciled with the Church.
Now I am paraphrasing what I remembered from Fr Alex’s homily and his homily is much better than what I have recalled. Will try to get the full text and post it in this blog.
And when i congratulated Fr Alex on a beautiful homily, he humbly said "well, with today's reading, what else should we priests preach on."
If you would like to thank Fr Alex, you can write to him here. SingaporeDiocesanVocation@gmail.com
Thank God for a courageous and compassionate priest! Deo Gratias!