Solemnity of Pentecost and Feast of The Visitation - 31st May 2020

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The Church of The Visitation, Seremban celebrated the Solemnity of Pentecost and its Parish Feast of The Visitation on 31st May 2020. The multilingual mass to celebrate the birthday of the Church and the Blessed Virgin Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth was concelebrated by Priests from the Negeri District. They were Rev. Fr. Terrance Thomas as the main celebrant, Rev. Fr. Peter Anthoney, Carmelite Rev. Fr. Christopher Loh OCD and Rev. Fr. Xavier Andrew (Rev. Fr. Eugene Benedict and Rev. Fr. Dionysius Mathews were unable to attend in the celebration). Joining the Fathers at the mass were Deacon Philip Tay, Seminarians Bro. Michael Dass (KL Archdiocese) and Bro. William (Malacca-Johor Diocese). The 6.00 pm mass was preceded with the Adoration of The Blessed Sacrament in 4 languages led by Fr. Xavier and assisted by Deacon Philip. Both the Adoration and Mass were live streamed to viewers as the country was still under the Movement Control Order (MCO) since 18th March 2020. Parishioners were able to participate in the mass online except for those behind the scene, namely, a few members from the Liturgy team, the Visitation Media & AV team and the sacristan Anthoney.

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The readings for the day, taken from The Acts of The Apostles (2:1-11) and 1st Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (12: 3-7, 12-13) were read in Tamil and Mandarin respectively while the Gospel reading was taken from the Gospel of St. John (20: 19-23) and was read by Deacon Philip.

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Deacon Philip gave his homily in Mandarin. As Jesus was sent by the Father, we too are sent out on a mission to spread the joy of Christ. The presence of the Holy Spirit, he said, was to lead us as well as to guide us in our thinking, words and actions. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he added, we should offer ourselves for the service of others especially to those who are suffering and lonely without counting the cost. Deacon Philip said, “when Mary greeted Elizabeth, she was immediately filled with the Holy Spirit and recognised the Messiah in the womb of Mary. During the visitation, both women were filled with the Holy Spirit and overcame with joy, they looked forward to the fulfilment of God's plan for salvation”. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God, thus enables us to understand and experience God's presence in our daily lives and becomes a pillar for us. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are called to bring joy and hope that has been given to us to everyone that we meet. With the current MCO, we are to use other means to spread the joy and hope of God. He urged the faithful to pray so that the Holy Spirit will descend on them and give them the grace and strength, so that they can imitate the Virgin Mary. Deacon Philip concluded by reminding us all to strive to be agents of joy and hope in this darkened world.

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Rev. Fr. Christopher then gave a homily in English. After 50 days of Easter, he said, the Church celebrates Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descends on the apostles and all of us too. Like the apostles who were locked down in the upper room and living in fear and persecution of the Jews, we too are in a similar situation today since the announcement of the MCO on 18th March, where social distancing and wearing of face mask has become the norm to protect us from the coronavirus. During the current pandemic, many lost their loved ones, lost their jobs and resulted in them becoming worried, scared and frightened like the apostles. Fr. Christopher continued, many are worried that things will not be the same again after the MCO is over when the Church will not be operating in the usual manner like before, businesses will never be the same anymore. Priests are wondering if Catholics will come back to Church after months of lockdown and who have got used to following Masses online at home. Referring on the day’s Responsorial Palm, “Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth”, Fr. Christopher reminded us that the Holy Spirit we receive on Pentecost is not a spirit of timidity but rather a spirit that transforms us like the apostles to become courageous. He concluded his homily by asking us to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us and the words of Jesus to dwell in our hearts. Be courageous and just like the resurrected Jesus enter into the room where the apostles were. “Peace be with you” always.

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Rev. Fr. Peter gave his homily in Tamil. While the Mother Church celebrates her birthday on Pentecost, the Visitation Church celebrates her feast day. Mother Mary, said Fr. Peter, was an ordinary woman but was blessed by the grace of God to bear the Son of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the same way, her cousin Elizabeth was filled with the same spirit and began to praise God when she was greeted by Mary and exclaimed “How is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” In today’s Gospel, as the apostles were in fervent prayer, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them and they received the strength of the Spirit. The Lord gave his sign of love and peace to his apostles. Likewise, when we are one with the Holy Spirit, his blessings is bestowed upon us. During this time of MCO, we are unable to participate in Mass, but we can still bring the Kingdom of God to the people that we encounter for Jesus had said, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”. Fr Peter concluded his homily by urging us to work tirelessly to obtain a place in the presence of God and to receive His abundance grace.

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Lastly, Rev. Fr. Xavier gave a short homily in Bahasa. As Rev Fr. Dionysius was not able to attend at the eleventh hour, Fr. Xavier said he was not deterred but allowed the Holy Spirit to lead him to prepare the homily in Bahasa. Similarly, the Blessed Virgin Mary did not allow her state of pregnancy to keep her from visiting her cousin Elizabeth who was also pregnant, because she was prompted by the Holy Spirit who gave her the grace and strength to make the gruelling journey. Likewise, we too have been given this special gift of the Holy Spirit by God which dwells in our hearts. Sadly, we are not conscious of this gift within us as our focus has been on the external part of our lives, hence it weakens us. We need to allow the prompting of the Holy Spirit to stir our inner beings in order to transform and motivate our lives. Fr Xavier concluded his homily by urging all to allow the Holy Spirit to lead our lives and not be discouraged, but to be a people of hope.

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The usual order of the Mass proceeded after the homilies. At the end of the mass, Rev. Fr. Xavier who is the Parish Priest of The Church of The Visitation, on behalf of Assistant Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Kenneth Gopal OCD wished viewers a Happy Feast Day of Pentecost and Visitation. He said we should continue to pray and rely on God’s power and may the day will come when we can attend and participate in the Mass. Fr. Xavier also thanked the people who worked behind the scene and also the Fathers who celebrated the mass, together with both the seminarians.

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The live streaming of the Solemnity of Pentecost and Feast of The Visitation by the Media and AV team was the second in such live streaming in The Church of the Visitation. The 1st live streaming was conducted 2 years ago on 31st May 2018 by members from the KL Archdiocese Social Communication team, when The Church of The Visitation held a grand feast day celebration to commemorate the 170 years of its establishment since 1848. Below are some photos taken during the 2018 Feast Day celebration with His Grace Archbishop Julian Leow the main celebrant and concelebrated by 13 other Priests from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur and Malacca-Johor diocese.

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Acknowledgement:
A word of thanks to Deacon Philip Tay and parishioner Mrs. Josephine Bosco for providing the English translation of the Mandarin and Tamil homilies respectively. Parishioner, Vincent Yan for the 2018 Feast Day celebration photos and Visitation Media team for providing the 2020 Pentecost and Feast Day photos.