First Red Mass at St Simon Church

Feb 15,2014: Archbishop John Wong (seated at centre) with Rev Fr Cosmas Lee and Rev Fr Thomas Madanan in a group photo with members of the Bench and Bar of Kota Kinabalu.


 A sombre reminder on diminishing morality

KOTA KINABALU: Belgium parliament’s passage of a Bill on child euthanasia recently was a sombre reminder for the Catholic legal fraternity who attended the third annual Red Mass here on the diminishing morality of society.

St Simon’s Catholic Church Rector Rev Fr Cosmas Lee, who concelebrated the Mass with Archbishop John Wong alongside Rev Fr Thomas Madanan, addressed his concerns to some 50 members of the Bench and Bar during his sermon.

“The controversial law was passed in Belgium, one of the most Catholic and educated countries in the world,” Lee said, referring to Belgium being a society of staunch Catholics and home to world-renowned religious institutions.

According to the BBC, the Bill “allows euthanasia for terminally ill children without any age limit…Belgium will become the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice.”

“Relativism, subjectivism – has already entrenched itself in the teaching of the people in the Catholic university (in Belgium),” he said.

“This is not new in the history of humanity. Ever since the time of Adam and Eve, they could not resist the temptation to play God.

“Ultimately, whatever our laws are or whatever our lifestyle is, we have to be counted on the will of God, the Master and Creator of life,” he said.

“Even animals in the beastly kingdom do not kill their young, no matter how sick and handicapped they are. Have you ever seen a cow killing her little calf that is terminally sick?

“Lets pray that we may have the heart of God. That we may have compassion, we may feel for people and for the country. That we may see the needs around us,” urged Lee.

After the Mass, the Archbishop also addressed those in the legal profession to be the “salt” and “light” of the country.

“The knowing and this concept of God should set us apart from the people of other faith. We know that Christian love, when it is translated into action, is life-giving, hopeful as well as filled with God’s peace. It is merciful and also forgiving.

“When we put into teaching these practice and values, we should (enlighten) a society that is still governed and nurtured by selfishness, jealousy and hatred. And to a people that is gradually losing their fear of God.

“As Christians, though we are small in number, we are called to be the light and salt of our nation. To transform our society in holiness and righteousness. Our present pope, Pope Francis, is urging every Catholic in the world to protect the Gospel values in their lives.

“As legal practitioners, I think you would know how to respond to such call. I hope, whatever you do or decide to do, you will always be guided by the Scriptures and the Church’s official teachings.

“I encourage each one of you to always put justice and love before anything else. Even though it might cost you your personal life and comfort.

“As defenders of justice, each of you is called to put things right in society. This is especially so when the dignity and rights of a person or a community are being trampled on,” Wong said.

This calls to mind the words of St Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers and politicians, who said: “The King’s good servant, but God’s first.” Those words were uttered prior to his beheading in 1535 for standing up to his faith.

Before the Mass, there was a procession from the gate entrance towards the Church building. The Archbishop and his concelebrants, including the altar servers, choir and wardens, wore red vestments and garments to symbolise the “fire of the Holy Spirit’s guidance to all who pursue justice in their daily lives.”

Also present in support of the Red Mass, which dates back to the 13th century in Europe, were some 150 friends and relatives of the lawyers, judges and government officials.

The first Red Mass in Kota Kinabalu was held at the Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang in 2012 by Archbishop Emeritus Datuk John Lee, who was also the brainchild of the event.

The following year it was held in Sacred Heart Cathedral by the emeritus’ successor. According to records, Kuala Lumpur may have been the first in Malaysia to celebrate the event in 1995. – As published in Daily Express Feb 21, 2014

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