Feast of the Visitation - Journey with Mary

The main theme “Journey with Mary” was chosen for the 9 days’ celebration of The Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary which started on 23/5/22 and culminated in Holy Mass on the 31/5/22 in the Church of the Visitation, Seremban, N. Sembilan. The days leading to the climax of the Feast of the Visitation, various Priests were invited to celebrate Mass and deliver their homilies based on the sub themes chosen. They were Rev Fr Jestus Pereira (23/5/22) – Giver of self, Rev Fr Christopher (24/5/22) – Queen of the family, Rev Fr Lawrence Ng (25/5/22) – Joy of the spirit, Rev Fr Bonaventure Rayappan (26/5/22) – Queen of peace, Rev Fr Albet Arockiasamy (27/5/22) – Solace of sinner, Rev Fr Lionel Thomas from St. Peter’s Church, Malacca (28/5/22) – Strength of the sick, Rev Fr Michel Dass (29/5/22) - Queen of Saints and Msgr. Stanislaus Soosamariam (30/5/22) – Handmaid of the Lord. Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament and a short reflection on each of the sub theme by Rev Fr Xavier preceded the masses.

The principal celebrant and preacher on 31/5/22 was Rev Fr Surain Durai Raj and concelebrants at the mass were His Grace Most Rev Julian Leow, Rev Fr Xavier Andrew, Rev Fr Dionysius Mathews,
Rev Fr Albet Arockiasamy, the Carmelite Fathers - Rev Fr Kenneth Gopal OCD, Rev Fr Christopher Loh OCD, Rev Fr Nicholas Ho OCD, Rev Fr Philip Tay OCD and Rev Deacon George Ho Chung Jen OCD.
The 8.00 pm multilingual mass with the sub theme “Intercessor of Divine Grace” was attended by some 1,000 parishioners and was live streamed.

The Rosary devotion in 4 languages and Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament preceded the Holy Mass. Reflecting on “Intercessor of Divine Grace”, during the Adoration, Fr Xavier said that Mary was a woman full of grace (Luke 1:28) and filled with the presence of God and therefore is our intercessor. Her secret was the Word of God and later became flesh in her womb. God assured us that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) and therefore we should not worry about our weakness but instead to live in his grace as shown in and through Mary. Gradually our weakness, will fall away. The will of God will not lead us, where the grace of God will not protect us. In the midst of life challenges and trials, God will protect us, lift us up and comfort us because of our readiness to fulfil the will of God in our lives. Like Mary, when we are able to say ‘Yes’, God’s grace will abound in each one of us. The greater our faith, the greater is the graces that enable us to say, “Your will be done”. Grace is the voice that calls us for a change from sinful to Godly ways.

In his brief introductory to the congregation to the Mass of the day, Fr Surain welcomed all to the Feast of the Visitation of the BVM and ask them to continuously to seek Mary’s intercession as she points to Christ and that through her intercession we may gain the graces of God. The readings for the day was taken from the Prophet Zephaniah (3: 14 ~ 18) and The 2nd Letter of St. Paul to The Corinthians (12: 5 ~ 10) and was read in Bahasa and Tamil respectively. The Gospel reading was from Luke 1: 39 ~ 56 and was read by Deacon George in English.

Fr Surain then gave his homily eloquently in 4 languages. In order to make us understand something about the celebration, Fr Surain did a little demonstration. Holding a plastic bottle which was empty and with some stones inside, it produced noise when shaking it. To another plastic bottle which was completely full, it did not produce any noise when shaking it. He went on to say that the former was empty, noisy and not life giving, while the latter something to quench the thirst was full, silent and life giving.  The three qualities of the 2nd bottle - full, silent and life giving are the virtues present in the life of the BVM and also in the Gospel reading. F Surain when on to explain that in the Gospel, Mary becomes the God bearer. In the old testament, the priests would carry the Ark of Covenant into the city, but now Mary is the ark who carries not the tablets nor stones but the Divine child whom God has promised us through the Holy Spirit. Mary, said Fr Surain is a person who we do not hear much of her conversation in the Gospel text of the day nor the passages that follows because she is full and therefore silent. Her silent is a silent of reflection because the disposition of Mary in the Gospel text is someone who is waiting and knowing that God will act and it is reflected in the Magnificat. Mary knows with confident that God will act and hence waits in interior silence. Mary bears Christ and thus becomes life giving. Why are these 3 qualities being pertinent to us today, asked Fr Surain. He said that we live in a world that is full of noises. Though not all noises are bad because we are a people who communicates and are social beings and these communications get us and gets things done for us. However, there are other voices and noises in our society that indicates otherwise. Giving some examples of voices such as skimming, lying, gossiping, backbiting, empty promises, racial supremacy which is rampant today, boastfulness, arrogance and condescension, these he said indicates emptiness and we cannot be life giving. On the contrary, the Feast day that is being celebrated and the readings wants to remind us that like Mary, we are God bearers too. We carry Jesus with us. One way to know that we are mindful that God is with us, is that interiorly we are moved to a silent reflection. We want to listen to God because there is a God who is dynamic with us, thus we can become life giving to the circumstances surrounding us. Fr Surain concluded his homily by quoting the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, where he said, “Grace perfects nature, grace completes nature”. To understand this, Fr Surain said to change the word grace to God, and it now becomes “God perfects our human lives, God completes our human lives”. There is a God with us and we are His bearers and being mindful of this, we can be drawn to the same qualities of the BVM – silent and life giving because we are full of the presence of God.

Before the final blessings, Fr Xavier made some announcements. He invited the congregation to spend some time in silence before the shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Fr also invited all to the fellowship which was organised at the Recreation corner and a rendition of songs by 3 musicians and to mingle around. A limited copies of the image of Mary carrying the child Jesus, courtesy of Fr Christopher was mentioned and later given away to each family on a first come first serve basis. Fr Xavier went on to thank all the Priests who were present and the main preacher Fr Surain to the applause from the congregation. He also thanked all the various ministries who worked hard to make the 9 days’ feast celebration a success and meaningful. Also the various Zones and BECs who sponsored and organised the fellowships. Fr Xavier then invited His Grace Archbishop Julian to say a few words. His Grace thanked all to made the feast day a success and ask to reflect the significant of the feast of the Visitation. He said that the feast is to remind ourselves to visit one another given the recent 2 years of various movement restrictions due to the pandemic. This resulted in isolation from the community around us. This will be the best time for us to emulate Mary’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth and to visit the lonely, the lost and bring them back to the Church. His Grace thanked Fr Surain for the 3 virtues of the BVM and invited all to ponder and reflect on it.  (by Paul Peter Fernandez)

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