Sunday, 21 December 2014

The fight over the word "ALLAH"

Bear in mind, I have nothing against the use of the words “Allah” and “Tuhan” as long as we use them for the correct purpose and with a pure intention; I am neutral on this matter. Yet, on a private manner I do not think using the words “Allah” and “Tuhan” will make my Faith increase or make me a better Catholic; this is my point of view bearing in mind I received good education/I understand English (La Salle Schools) and I come from a urban/city environment.  

For those who received my weekly sharing years ago, you may have remembered that I mentioned of the day when the “Allah” issue will turn out for the worst; my predictions were correct after seeing the commotion happening in Malaysia recently. When these words “Allah” and “Tuhan” started to be fantasized by our local Church, I prayed about it and I observed (the spread of news from word of mouth and events). Seeing how these words were used, I knew it was not used totally as a means of reaching out to our Catholic community who did not understand English, I think I felt there were politics involved in the usage of these words; I always felt the insistence of using these words were not merely to assist those who were not fluent with English.
As a Catholic, living in this age in Malaysia, witnessing to the many noises I constantly see in the news and on social media about court cases to challenge the local government to allow the free use of the word “Allah”, Bibles confiscated and now returned, then again we hear that the Bibles were ‘desecrated’ and, most recently, Fr Cyril’s parish hymn books were confiscated and then returned. Honestly, I feel these events have no profound use for the Church and also for the process of ‘justice’ (if that is what as Church we are fighting for?).
I am not suggesting that the frequent noises we make in the name of the Church, and more importantly in the name of Jesus Christ, is bad; I am not saying the efforts the church puts into fighting for justice is bad.
My main concern is as much of noise we place in fighting over mere words, more importantly I hope and pray that we too as Church will stand by our own parishioners and the local people; it is life that we need to nurture and protect. Pope Francis, thanks to God, is constantly reminding the Church to first look into ourselves, make ourselves clean first, and make our systems and ministry more Merciful. This is a good call, because more than 10 years ago I desired the same, because I saw that as Church we have not put in enough effort to minister to our very own people within our church communities; there are among our ordinary parishioner who are elderly, hurt by the past (sometimes events done by the Church’s own ministers), the youths who desire a more wholesome Catholic education (better education system), parishioner who desire to be more committed to God but do not have the excess and means to do so, and health care.
As Church let us remember that, yes every religion is good, but when we represent the Church as baptised Catholics, we are called by God and Mother Church to work in the name of Jesus Christ; in mere words, we are called to work in the attitude of Jesus promoting values of the Gospel (peace, respect, love, hope…). Thus, can I suggest that we too pay as much concern and attention to the matters below:
         I.            Ordinary Catholic Parishioner (those who attend worships at our churches) – let us reach out to those who are not actively involved, those who are materially poor, those who are spiritually poor, those who have left the parish- let us go to them. We need each baptised Catholic, you, me and they are important people; we are all VVIPs in God’s Kingdom.

      II.            Youths – Regaining some, if not all, of our schools that were once run by religious. I think this is a worthy project when in Malaysia there is so much news about the need of better education system. Abandoned Brother’s and Sister’s Living Quarters can be converted to mission sites to run educational projects for our youths; please stop selling them away, when it is so difficult to buy lands for religious/religious-based missions – let us be creative and courageous to use abandoned religious buildings that once housed the religious brothers and sisters. We do need the youths; they are the future and life line of our Church. These abandoned living areas can also be converted to activity places for youths and the church to run projects for our own parishioners and even for the wider public.

   III.            Hospitals – Pardon me if I am wrong, but the few hospitals we have are now run as a corporation due to the dwindling numbers of religious. Yes, I admire the way the hospitals are run because it is more dignified, systematic and more professional. What I think we need to look at too is giving lay Catholics the opportunity to continue the work of Jesus Christ among the sick, the dying and the elderly? Also of concern is if there is any avenue that allows Catholics to work as volunteers, hand-in-hand with the staff of hospitals to spread the message of Jesus (and I do not mean converting people to Catholicism. I oppose this, as much as Pope Francis has advised); the message of Jesus Christ that is of God’s Love, that God cares for the sick, the dying, the lonely, the aged?
In union with Pope Francis, which is very much the desire of Jesus too, is we as individuals and, important too, as a CHURCH must behave in unison to spread the message of Jesus not through mere words, but more importantly by a Joyful way of life; a life that has Jesus within, a life that is convinced of Jesus and a life that can ATTRACT others to Jesus.

Thank you.
Bro Kenneth Mary Gan of Our Mother of Perpetual Help


Friday, 12 December 2014

Education: Poor English and why Jawi?

Genuine Sincere Concern for Education
“Let us remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God” is the manner that I begin every lesson at school. It is a La Sallian tradition to begin very lesson by a remembrance that we are in God’s Presence, and I am surprised that even in Malaysia’s Ministry of Education ‘devotion to God’ has a place.
Regardless of religion, language and background I tell my student that remembering the presence of God is an invitation to ask ourselves if we are genuinely ready to embark on the lesson or activity that we are about to start. Do we have, as a class, what it takes to have a complete and successful lesson? Do we have the right mind, good attitude and the necessary instruments to begin the lesson?
I am grateful that for the past few days, the Star has highlighted events related to education in Malaysia. As an educator, I must say what was made news about the teaching of the English subject has truth in them. Allow me to share what I honestly feel, as a young teacher returning from Australia only in 2011, after having thought in Malaysia for the past 3 years; I teach Science in English in both International and Private Schools.
Before I begin sharing my opinions on this matter, I will first mention that the frequent changes in the Malaysian Education system on the issues of teaching Science and Mathematics in English and changes in the PBS (School Base Assessment) make ordinary teachers lose heart. The focus of many teachers is consistently on a shift due to the frequent changes imposed on them by the ministry of education, resulting in poor productivity of teachers.
I think it is not fair to focus only on the teaching of the English subject when we talk about the quality of teachers and the standard of teaching. Quality of teachers and teaching techniques cover a wide scope because I have seen many occasions where subjects other than English were not taught well too. When we speak about the quality of teachers and standard of teaching in class we need to look at the standard of tertiary education these teachers received; the standard of entrance requirements into a teaching degree and the quality of education delivered at these local tertiary institutions.
Another reason for the poor standard of English as reported in the news is the ‘attitude of teachers’. In my own experience many locally trained teachers are very prone in using their own mother tongue while communicating to other teachers and students; Chinese will be used when talking to a Chinese, Malay will be used when talking to a Malay, Indian will be used when talking to an Indian. There were also reports from parents that teachers were teaching mathematics in Malay when it was the school’s and Malaysian MOE’s directives to teach mathematics in English; the principal investigated the matter and it was proven that the parents’ report was true. This only goes to show that locally trained teachers have no confidence in going the extra mile and to move out of their comfort zones. This shows that the level of tertiary education our teachers are getting locally is not sufficient and urgently needs to be improved.
Reported too is the fact that employers are noticing that fresh graduates are ‘struggling’ with English is of real concern for Malaysia. Teaching Science in English has been very easy for me, but not so for students because of their background. Majority of local students come from non-English speaking background, while those that do come from English speaking background are comfortable using broken English. I realized that students who made a choice to use broken English are influenced by other teachers as well as their parents at home. Sadly, living with tertiary students myself, it was reported to me that the level of English used by lecturers in local colleges and local universities are equally poor. Thus, this makes students less capable to face the reality on the importance of the proper use of English when they go out to work. Employers are not looking for graduates with perfect use of English, but my own experience have shown that the level of written English is below the standard acceptable level; I honestly admit that the level of written English is very poor, while spoken English can be considered as poor. This makes fresh graduates less capable to compete when placed into a local and international environment because English is still a language of importance when it comes to communication for business purposes.
Adding to the already poor standard of education, schools are now facing the hardships of the need to include Jawi on school signboards; at least this is only true for Malacca schools, for now. I have nothing against the use of Jawi, but to my question will Jawi serve any concrete purpose to the students educational needs?
As an educationist I feel that no one must take the full blame of the poor standard of English, because there are a range of reasons. More importantly I want to stress on the role of teachers, because teachers are very important to the lives of students. If we look at our young children, they spend at least 6 hours (if they go to a government school) a day in schools and within a week they would have spent 35 hours in school. In school our children come into contact with other children as well as with teachers.
Teachers you need to remember that you are important, because you play a very vital role in the life of every child. Education must never be taken likely by you, take your role as a role given by God to shape new lives for the life of the world. Education systems can change so often and demands made by the public on teaching quality will change, but remember that as a teacher you are to facilitate the teaching process of every child. Focus on this fact, that is as a teacher you and I only facilitate the teaching process of every child; as teachers we desire only the best for every child. In facilitating the learning process we touch the lives of children, so remember too that as teachers much is expected from us in terms of our attitudes and way of life.
Parents you too have a role to encourage and facilitate your children to become their best.
I hope the standard of English will improve soon. This I know will happen because we do have good and holy teachers around, though our numbers are very few.
Brother Kenneth Mary Gan

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Fast, Faster and Fastest....

Advent! Count down to Christmas begins, amidst the many reminders of Christmas portraying as if it has all begun.

Since returning from Australia 3 years ago, I am still troubled if I have any answer yet to this question - "LORD, AM I DOING YOUR WILL? AM I LIVING MY LIFE FULLY IN THE MANNER YOU WANT?" Till this day, I worry, I wonder, I try to seek for a good answer.

Looking around me, we have so much distractions. Not only the distractions of shopping malls, buying clothes, so many new cafes coming up. I also realise much of our lives are influenced by the so many people around us; many schools, companies are growing employing new employees. The faces of our friends and neighbours (work mates too) speaking about events and gossiping can very often pull us away from what is most important to us in life; we become lost in the happening around us and we end up living very artificial life. The many distractions all around us is so instantly and frequently available. Worst thing is at so many food eateries the Wi-Fi is instantly and freely available.

We end up with more questions and we are constantly restless until we rest totally in God.

Till today I am still restless, I feel as if I have not done enough for the Kingdom of God. I have the desire to do more, even when my mission work is going very well. I desire more, more, more...Many desire more money, more property. Myself I desire to become more holy, more efficient...This makes me restless. Like you, I find it difficult to settle to the reality that in a given day God has given me sufficient graces to do my best. In reality that is all God needs, God just needs me to do my upmost best for the day even when what I do seems little and insignificant. As Blessed Teresa said, "God has not asked me to be successful, but to be faithful." As a human being, I find it restless to accept the fact that very often it is faithfulness that counts, and not the significance of my duty/work/life style.

Advent to me is a season of waiting, but one that is different from Lent, because we await in HOPE for the coming of Jesus Christ. I hope that like me, many of you will observe fixed times for prayer, meditation and works of mercy. "I will observe 15 minutes of communion with Jesus in prayer every morning before my breakfast," is a good start. This Advent I hope to put in more effort to be at peace, to cease being restless, and allow myself to rest in a Faithful God.

'God is faithful,
and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.'
1 Corinthians 1:9

I hope that all of you will have a meaningful Advent

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Joy the key...Mercy the path

Dear friends in Christ,

I thought to give you a little sharing to aid all of us, official religious (public vows), laity and lay consecrates (private vows), in making this Year of Consecrated Life a meaningful one. Let us bear in mind, as we read this sharing, that though we are many we are ONE BODY in Christ Jesus. Let us bear in mind that each of us are different- various worries, various happiness. Yet, taking scriptures we remember that Jesus, Our Lord has invited you to unload your worries unto Him because He looks after you.

A True Story, 2014 (happening only like 3 months ago): A non-Catholic in a private school, he is the Head of Study for Science, after talking to me he immediately said, "USE YOUR FAITH TO WORK HERE!"

My friends, I use this real story happening to me, to invite you to challenge yourself about:
A) If you are a religious (public vows): "WHAT does it mean to be a religious? DOES it make any difference to take public vows today? Can I CONCLUDE that my life is significant for others?"

B) If you are a religious (Private vows): "WHAT significance does my vows bring to my relationship with others at work and in society? Analysing my life, can I add that I strive to perfect the living of the Gospel? Have I taken steps, despite the business of everyday life, to focus on prayer life?"

C) If you are a laity: "Is the role of religious in Church play any signficance for me? Does the presence of more religious help me? What will be my inspiration to promote or not promote an increase in religious life?"

You know, my dear brothers and sisters, the words from that non-Catholic teacher above, SHOCKED as well as INSPIRED me.
**SHOCKED because I never thought a non-Catholic will say such a statement to me, and adding to that I have NEVER HEAR that invitation from my Parish Priest, nor any religious, worst still not even from Catholics.
**INSPIRED because I am able to practice, put into actions, my Gospel convictions! In an environment (non-Catholic!!!!) that is modern, supportive and paying me better salary (supporting my life style).

The bottom line is, this Year of Consecrated Life, I am sure, was not called by the Pope for no purpose. The Pope has invited us as a Church, a SINGLE BODY, to reflect on the IMPORTANCE of religious men and women.

Personally, I feel the Church still needs religious...Not important if they are public or private profess. The importance is as what the Pope is calling for, "MERCY!"

As a Church have we ever said to a young man/woman, "COME USE YOUR FAITH HERE- HERE TO SERVE!" I think this is the only single thing we can honestly ask ourselves, because if your answer and my answer is "NO, I HAVE NOT AND WILL NEVER ASK ANYONE TO DO THAT!" Then, no point for us to think about the Year of Religious Life.

Happy Advent!

In Christ, St Francis and St Clare,
Bro. Kenneth Mary Gan

'Mercy is about forgiveness, kindness, good will - the principal path pointed by Jesus Christ'

Sunday, 16 November 2014

No Time?

His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant!'

Matthew 25: 26

Recently I had a conversation with a friend who was wanting me to join in with a group, to distribute food to the homeless in Penang. Thus, I questioned his activity of food distribution and found out it was as easy as just collecting money from each member of the group, drive down to town, open the trunk, the homeless will all queue up without any invitation, distribute and go back home. When I asked, "Is that what you call Christian Charity?" My friend replied, "We are all working people, so we have NO TIME."

I am sure many people are like that, and we cheat ourselves by saying, "I FEEL SO GOOD - I HAVE DONE 'CHARITY!"

Today's Gospel reading is again urging each of us to be good and faithful servants of the talents that has been given to us. The talents that we have are supposed to multiply - I am sure if we are good in something, we will want it to increase in numbers/influence. Many successful people do not keep their ideas and knowledge within themselves, but they channel these through their work, so that the benefits are seen. For example, I have students who are interested in basketball and how they channel this interest is by participating in a basketball competition.

Yes, to multiply the talents - God's gift to us - is not easy. Work can be difficult because people are always people, they will condemn you, judge you, persecute you. Just like what happened to many great people and Saints. Did they not crucify Jesus Christ? Did they not criticise and condemn holy men and women who did good for society and the Church?

That is why as the servants work to multiply their talents, Jesus also included the word "FAITHFUL". We each need to be faithful, to be consistent, in following the Gospel values in our quest to multiply the talents that we have. Work life does not need to be a place where we become cruel - many have the idea that in a workplace if we are Muslims, we cease to be Muslims, if we are Buddhist we cease to be a Buddhist...No! We each are individuals, and we are all different - differences are strength to a company/workplace; differences need not divide us! Differences when nurtured well and listened to can bring great success and reform to a workplace; many different talents bring progress.

Thus, as we work let us remember that we are called by God to multiply our talents for the success of the Kingdom of God. Work life and work place are avenues where we place our gifts at the service of others, in building up of a more just and peaceful world.

Therefore, the frequent reason given when people asked, "have we done charity lately?" must cease to be "I HAVE NO TIME." This reason of having no time, in todays technologically dependent world, is no longer valid. You can proclaim God, you can speak of goodness, in the very place you work and live.

Charity is putting God in everything you do and in everywhere you are present.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Saint or mere Soul?

Everyone who has this hope based on God makes himself pure,
as God is pure.
- 1 John 3: 3
Solemnity of All Saints (1st November)
It is a privilege for people, mainly my students, to meet me these couple of years. I am now a confident, courageous and contented young man. I am thankful of my gifts and I am passionate about life. Yet, many will never know the extent of the persecutions, set-backs, disappointments and daily internal pain I had to face everyday to be where I am today; many will never clearly know my past.
Have you ever thought why the Church remember the dead on two different dates - 1st and 2nd November? Why All Saints on 1st and All Souls on the 2nd? Yes, both of these days are of equal importance celebrating a human person who lived in the past; our relatives, friends, Saints.
I believe it is a choice for us to make on how we desire to live our lives? For a Christian, it is the time of the year to question our commitment to the Faith in Jesus Christ; are we fully committed Christians or a luke-warm Christian? Are we Saints or mere ordinary souls? A happy life pushed around by God or a life pushed around by the movement of the temporal world?
The Saints were very committed Catholic-Christians who suffered for what God calls them to do; they lived as closely as possible to the demands of the Call of God, some to the point of death - making them Martyrs. Bear in mind it is never easy to commit to God, as it always results in a very different way of life.
All Souls Day, on this day we remember our loved ones and friends. Yes, these people are also children of God. But what separates these souls from the souls of Saints, is the fact that many of us, ordinary souls, desire to be in control with our destiny. The Saints were willing to suffer for their Faith in God - Saints had both feet in the Faith and they surrendered their will to God. Ordinary souls, on the other hand, had one foot in the Faith and the other in the world; these souls were indecisive.  
Yes, hearing the sermon of the Priest, to be a Saint sounds simple but the living of that Sainthood is difficult! To be a Saint is possible if we are willing to LISTEN to the Word of God, and perform what we are called to do even when faced with difficulties. A Saint never gives up following God's Call even when it means insults from others, poverty (no luxury), condemnation from the Church, gossips by others...
Many will never know the extent of my suffering when I requested to respond to God's Call in Malaysia. Deciding to leave Australia was not easy, as it came with a Spiritual encounter; I experienced the presence of the Devil in the Friary (Religious House of the Brothers), I suddenly cried in front of the image of Our Lady when the Brothers were praying for me not to leave and my conversation with the Superior. Never easy, I knew I will miss out on the opportunity to become a great brother and, perhaps, a priest? But, I had to do what I knew to be right for me. I had to act upon what I prayed on in my discernment.
I choose to commit myself totally to Jesus when I was still a very young boy, when I was in Year 7; I commit myself to live according to Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, I  decided that Jesus is my Lord even before I got baptised. I decided to allow Jesus, to allow God, to surprise and capture me in His Love. That commitment was my desire to be totally captivated by His Love and to rely on God alone, and live committedly in God's ways.
Yes, along the way many saw my thinking and life style to be very extraordinary - very unusual, almost CRAZY; I was not like the 99% majority of people, who enjoys living life the way they feel like it. My life was not a careless life and I prefer to live out each day's activity in an attitude of reverence and holiness. My life was never a care-free life, just going with the flow, earning money, getting a nice car. On the other hand I put a lot of thought into my daily life style because I know the good I do will benefit others, while the bad I do may hurt others. I constantly ask God to guide and direct me, hoping that what I do is according to His will.
This extraordinary weird life came with a lot of persecutions, hardships, disappointments. In the past I was insulted by Brothers, Priests, my parents and even my good friends. They claim that:
  • My desire to serve God, that desire is from the devil
  • I am a fake monk
  • I will misuse money meant for the poor
  • I am traditional, too rigid
  • I must not dress in the religious habit
  • ......many more mind you! Lol!
Initially facing these insults, I thought WHY follow God when I can have a more peaceful, luxurious and 'happy' life denying God and going my own ways. What for putting up with these comments, when even the church (Brothers and Priests) insults each other and insults me? But, thank God I was always aware of His presence, and I was confident that all that God gives me is ALWAYS GOOD!
It was only in Australia, and after many years of formation and experience in Australia, that I knew I was correct in obeying the ways of God. I can never be happier! I am now very happy following God even though it means a hard life; lack of money, minimal luxury, prayer life, trusting in God even when the situation looks bad, insults from teachers...Not an easy life! Many will not do what I do, but I do it not for my Glory. If I had given up God's Call for me to be His Faithful follower, I think these will had happen:
  1. Lack of ONE man to be a good and holy educator
  2. Lack of ONE educator who is confident in his style of teaching, confident with his knowledge and starts each class with "Let us remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God"
  3. Lack of ONE religious man who is always willing to take the hard path; committed in the duty as an educator and in the service of the poor.
  4. Lack of ONE witness of the Gospel who will reach out to Church members; I am aware that even ordinary people like us need assistance. Not only the poor!
  5. Lack of ONE man who is passionate about life, and inspires others to do like wise
I stress 'ONE', because it is possible to take you alone to set hearts aflame with the Love of Jesus. The decision to be a Saint or a mere Soul is yours and mine to make. I choose a Saintly life, because I want to live life eternally happy, eternally full, eternally abundant! Life rocks!
All Glory Belongs to God Alone.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

All Things are Possible

"We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love."
-Saint Catherine Laboure
Holiness is possible! Do you believe? I guess so!
To some they think that holiness purely means: 1) praying the entire day, 2) visiting the Holy Land, 3) a must to be a priest or become a sister or brother....To me holiness is about living the entire moment of the day in the presence of God, able to savour the goodness that life brings to us, the good as well as the bad. Holiness is about having an encounter with the person of God through His only son Jesus Christ, sharing our encounter with God to others through the way we live.
St Therese

If we look at the past, many ordinary men and women have sensed the mystery of God, they have encountered God in extraordinary ways. To St Bernedette and St Catherine Laboure they both saw the vision of Our Mother Mary. To St Francis and St Ignatious, it was said that they started to change their life after a divine dream in their sleep. But to many too, the gift of holiness came to them in ordinary ways, the action of Grace.

I am sure at one stage of your life, and if it has not it will come with time, you will have a great inspiration where something or an event makes you think, "Ah, this is what I can do....!" That is your gift - a discovery of your self, the person you are meant to be as God created you.
St Bernedette
Did these ordinary men and women immediately become heroes and heroines? No! Definitely not! God or the mystery of life (to those who yet believe in God) does not push His ways forcibly on us. When God gift us the gift of holiness, it is up to us to accept that gift and with time we grow into what that gift is meant to do for us; each individual has a different way where the gift of holiness manifests itself. Also like you, many heroes and heroines of the past had to undergo hardships to send their message out. People, not even the Church, believed St Bernedette when this young girl ran and told the public that the Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared! Many could not take that 'unbelievable" statement! Only after many attempts, and to some it took many many YEARS, for their message to be taken seriously by others and the Church. Some of you today may face such situations where people cannot accept or understand the reason behind your way of life (job, thinking, life style...). But never give up! Trust me! If what you do is purely from God or is done in full sincerity you will with time achieve what you are meant to do.
So, believe in what you can do. If you have the courage to persevere and constantly believe in your call/vocation/dream you will eventually succeed. Yes, maybe the final product of your endeavours may not be like what others may think it should, but remember God give each of us a unique gift. You maybe given the gift of Knowledge but the field of Knowledge is so wide. It can be about science, or knowledge about the mystery of the human mind, or it could be about knowledge on paranormal activities. Yet, it is still knowledge! You may be given the gift of love for food, but the way this gift is manifested is wide. Maybe in your love for food you are called to cook for the poor, help in a soup kitchen, or set-up a restaurant and become rich by it?
Believe, believe, believe and have confidence in your unique giftedness. Do not let what others or the pressure of society cause you to lose hope. Remember what a Saint used to say, "All that God ask of us to do is GOOD!" Believe in your gift, in your purpose in life and stay strong, because what you have been given is always GOOD!
If you give up you will NEVER become the person you are meant to be, you will NEVER become a great Saint!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Homosexuals, single mothers/fathers, poor families... must be ministered too

I have called you by your name,
giving you a title, though you knew me not.
Prophet Isaiah 45: 4
Gospel for Mission Sunday/ 29th in Ordinary Time: Matthew 22: 15 - 21
This morning, in prayer, I reflected on Isaiah verse 4. I thought about the fact that, who am I that God has His eyes upon me; throughout my life I have only felt blessed in so many ways. At all the roadblocks in my life, I have never known great hardships because God's Grace was sufficient. God's Grace has been with me in bad times as well as in good moments.
I am only a speck of dust, an insignificant being among the billions of human being. Yet, God in His greatness has provided me, guided me and assured me of his presence. Who am I?
Do not call me a conservative/traditionalist or progressive/modernist, but together with the Roman Catholic Church I oppose the concept of homosexuality as a means in building a family. I do not claim to be an expect in sexuality, nor have the recent Vatican document been released. Yet, I have read past documents on Pastoral Care for Homosexuals.
As a Catholic religious man I cannot accept the fact that a man-man and woman-woman relationship is a life giving main factor, and must be recognised as a legitimate family unit! I cannot accept the fact that some groups are pushing for the Catholic Church to allow the Sacrament of Matrimony to be ministered on same sex marriages; a Sacrament is a means where God's Grace freely works, and in matrimony, it is meant to bless, sanctify and confirm a life giving family unit consisting of a man and a woman.
I agree that all Catholics must respect everyone despite them being homosexuals or heterosexual, but keeping in mind that homosexual activities are against the teachings of God and the Church. It is our duty to treat everyone with Love and Respect, never forgetting the dignity of each person be it old or young, man or woman, single or attached, capable or handicapped. God Loves us all with an equal love!
Together with many, I share an intimate sentiment that YES as people of God we need to give proper care to every individual. Not only homosexuals are suffering, but many families are suffering due to divorce, poverty, illnesses, injustice. The Church has been supportive in reaching out to such individuals, but, like the opinion of many, Yes I do feel much more must and can be done. Yes, our Priests, Brothers and Sisters and even you, ordinary people graced by God have much to do in respecting the dignity of every single human being created in the wonderful image of God. Much more can still be done in terms of pastoral care for families affected by hardships.
I admit, seeing my own Parish Church, not much is carried out in giving care to families burdened by hardships. I have hardly hear, maybe not frequently enough, of activities and support given to single mothers, to single fathers, to poor families, to ill members of the family, to homosexuals...Yes, preaching alone and just talking about issues facing the family is insufficient. We need a more active service towards families traumatized and scared by difficulties! Care, space, hospitality and attention must be offered to individuals coming from suffering families.
The recent Synod on the Family will close with the Canonization Mass of Pope Paul VI on Sunday, 19th October 2014. The ceremony is available for viewing on Youtube.