St. Anne’s Feast Day 2009

St. Anne's Shrine Bukit Mertajam
St. Anne’s Shrine Bukit Mertajam.

St. Anne’s Feast Day falls on July 26. The celebration usually begins well before that. Wuan and I were fortunate that we made the trip back to Penang just as the celebration began. We went to the Church of St. Anne in Bukit Mertajam on Sunday with my two maternal aunts. These two plucky septuagenarians are my mother’s younger sisters. Most of the relatives on my mother’s side are Roman Catholics.

Statue of St. Anne with a young Mary inside the St. Anne Shrine
Statue of St. Anne with a young Mary inside St. Anne Shrine Bukit Mertajam.
Photo by Wuan.

The church compound was not crowded. It was very hot though. It had rained a while before we arrived. With little cloud cover, the sun bore down hard on us. I had gone up to the shrine two years ago for the first time since using a wheelchair when Bryan and Reallybites went with us. It is a long steep path from level ground.

The Ten Commandments carved into a rock near St. Anne's Shrine Bukit Mertajam
The Ten Commandments carved into a rock near St. Anne’s Shrine Bukit Mertajam.
Photo by Wuan.

It would take a lot of effort for Wuan to push me up. So we gave going up to the shrine a pass. Instead, we checked out the makeshift stalls set up at the car park to sell candles, flowers, statues, religious items, books, and snacks and drinks. My aunts bought a box of candles each and slowly limped their way up the granite steps to pay homage to St. Anne inside the shrine. Wuan and I browsed through the books at the Daughters of Pauline stall.

Fifteenth Station of The Cross - The Resurrection of Jesus at St. Anne's Shrine in Bukit Mertajam
Fifteenth Station of The Cross – The Resurrection of Jesus – beside St. Anne’s Shrine Bukit Mertajam.
Photo by Wuan.

I got myself the Saint Joseph Personal Size Edition of The New American Bible and a PVC cover to protect it. I have been looking for one that I can take with me whenever I travel. We also bought a few Rosaries. Among them were two rose scented Rosaries for Wuan’s parents who were baptized earlier this year on Easter. After that, Wuan took the camera and went traipsing around while I took shelter beneath the shadow of the stalls and observed the activities of the growing crowd as the sun began to set.

When You Do Not Respect My Religion

How do you expect me to respect you as a person and the religion that you claim you profess when you so blatantly disrespect the Body of Christ that we Christians hold so sacred in our hearts? It is sacrilege of the utmost degree to desecrate the Host by spitting it out, take a photo of it and then put it up in your magazine for all to see. Did your religion not teach you to respect other people’s religions?

In response to this desecration, I implore my brothers and sisters in Christ to lodge their strongest protest with the authorities and the publisher of the magazine for this grave insult. At the same time, I also urge my brothers and sisters in Christ to keep their hearts open for forgiveness and pray for these lost souls to be enlightened of their errant ways. Having said that, I am also proud and blessed to count among my friends Muslims who respect my faith as much as I respect theirs.

Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.’ Then they cast lots to share out his clothing.
(Luke 23:34 NJB)

Blogs with related posts:
Screenshots – Do you read Al-Islam?
Dustyhawk :: Broken Mirror – Ravenous Religious Bigots

Read this, this and this for context.

Update:
Sunday March 7, 2010
Al-Islam apologises for hurting Christians’ feelings

KUALA LUMPUR: Al-Islam magazine has apologised over a special report last year for “unintentionally hurting the feelings of Christians, particularly Catholics”.

The apology was posted on the website of its publisher Utusan Karya on Friday.

It said in a three-paragraph statement that the report was to investigate allegations of apostasy and the actions of its journalists “were never intended to deride the Christian faith, let alone desecrate their house of worship”.

“The two reporters involved also tendered their apology for not realising that what they have done in the course of their assigment has offended the feelings of Christians. Al-Islam hopes that such a thing will not recur,” it said.

The magazine stated that the apology would be published in next month’s publication.

The report entitled Tinjauan Al-Islam Dalam Gereja — Mencari Kesahihan Remaja Melayu Murtad (Al-Islam’s investigation in the church — finding the truth on teenage Malay apostates) was published in its May 2009 issue, in which its journalists had posed as Christians and participated in a mass at the St Anthony’s Church in Jalan Robertson near Puduraya.

The reporters were said to have admitted to receiving the Holy Communion then spitting it out, an act Catholics consider a sacrilege.

Kuala Lumpur Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam had on Thursday said the church would not pursue legal action against the magazine nor its reporters if a public apology was offered.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had said stern action would not be in the interest of justice, peace and harmony at this particular time, adding that the reporters “did not know the significance of the white bread”.

Reverand Murphy said he was pleased with the quick response by the publishers, editors and authors.

“We accept their apology and extend our hand in peace. The Catholic community is now at peace following the apology. May God bless our country,” he said.

Living In Mortal Sin

Today, I was made aware that as long as my marriage is not blessed by the Roman Catholic Church, I am living in mortal sin and can no longer receive the Holy Communion. The civil marriage that I went through is not acceptable in the eyes of the Church.