Tuesday, February 9, 2016

撕裂的是我们的心



2016年圣灰礼仪

今天是四旬期的开始。在四旬期的时候,我们通常会联想到什么呢?或许,我们会想起以下种种:圣灰礼仪时涂在我们额头上的圣灰;每星期五的拜苦路;在某些日子和每星期五守的斋戒;圣枝主日时挑选最好的圣枝;确保自己在耶稣受难日参与圣周五的礼仪,祈求天主宽恕我们在过去一年所犯的一切罪过。

每当我们想起四旬期,就会联想到这些事。但这些事代表什么呢?它们都是外在的行动。然而,这些外在的做法却有深一层的意义,这就是今天的读经所要提醒我们的。当我们陷于各种外在的虔诚行动时,我们绝对不可忽略其内在的意义 ,那就是内心的皈依。

我们也许虔诚地遵守所有的规条 ,例如: 从不错过每星期五的拜苦路或守大小斋;然而,如果这一切外在的做法对我们的生命没有任何效果的话,一切都是白费的。四旬期善功的目的是引领我们去修和我们与天主以及我们和他人之间的关系。圣保禄宗徒在读经二中提醒我们:如今正是适合悔改的时期 - 这是救恩的时日 - 这正是与天主修和的时机。

四旬期的三项主要善功 :那就是祈祷、守斋和施舍又是怎样的呢?福音再次提醒我们这些做法应该引领我们产生内在的改变。祈祷带领我们与天主重新建立关系。祈祷与念经有很大的差别。我们或许常在家中虔诚地念经,但这是否有拉近我们与天主的关系?我们念经是否只因为它是由父母或祖父母传下来的习惯呢?然而,这都不应该是我们祈祷的原因。祈祷应该有助于加深我们与天主的关系。祈祷应该引领我们加深对天主的信赖,并促使我们把生命交付给天主掌管。祈祷改变我们,但它并不改变天主,祈祷也不是让天主依照我们的意愿成事的魔术。

守斋并不是要惩罚我们肉体的一种做法。天主不要我们遭受不必要的痛苦。首先,守斋代表灵魂对天主的渴慕。食物的斋戒象征我们对天主的渴慕。为此,守斋引领我们去检讨生命的价值观。守斋应该指引我们把天主放在生命中的首位。守斋帮助我们抗拒诱惑 ——尤其是满足私欲的诱惑。守斋能使我们摆脱贪婪的欲望,而且能敏锐地觉察他人的需要。

因此,祈祷与守斋带我们进入第三个四旬期善功 —— 施舍。施舍帮助我们重新整顿弟兄姐妹之间的关系。施舍并不是因为我们同情那些贫穷或较不幸的人们。我们施舍是因为它提醒我们有必要与每一个人,尤其是穷人合一共融。施舍也提醒我们一切都来自天主,没有什么是属于我们自己的;为此我们不该自私地抓住外在的财物不放。施舍提醒我们:人比任何东西都来得重要。
在这四旬期里,让我们祈求天主加深我们的祈祷生活,赏赐我们勇气和自律守斋,并且能慷慨无私地与贫穷者分享。愿我们的四旬期善工并不是外在的行动而已。我们祈求内心的改变,一个“归向上主你们的天主”的改变。让我们“撕裂的是我们的心,不是我们的衣服”。

Let our hearts be broken



Ash Wednesday 2016


Today marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Catholics often kick into high gear during this season with a flurry of activities – ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday; Way of the Cross every Friday, Fast and Abstinence, picking up the best palm leaves on Palm Sunday and making sure we attend the Good Friday service. For many, this would be the one time in the year where they hope to get bonus brownie points and make up for the poor mass attendance and the generally bad behavior of the previous year. The point is that for most people, Lent seems to be time where we are most “active”, and “activity” seems to be equated with piety and holiness.

There is nothing wrong with all these pious practices and “activities.” Faith that is not translated into good works would not amount to much. Equally for a pious Jew, righteousness meant more than observance of the commands of the written Law. It also encompasses a number of pious practices, chief of which would be almsgiving, prayer and fasting. It is no wonder that at the beginning of every season of Lent, the gospel reading that is chosen speaks of these three pious practices. But what seems strange is to hear the Lord’s seeming disapproval of these outward actions. Is the Lord and the Church counselling us to avoid almsgiving, prayer and fasting during this season? Definitely not. In fact, the season of Lent should be an opportunity to intensify our practice of these pious acts.

The general principle enunciated by Christ in today’s gospel, however, is this: religious acts should be done to honour God and not simply better one’s own reputation. Pious self-display or showmanship is criticised, not the pious actions in themselves. Doing the will of God and pleasing Him does not need to be translated into a showy display of virtue. A disciple of the Lord should indeed practice piety with an eye to his audience, but his true audience is his Father in heaven, not his fellow men. The stress on the Heavenly Father puts the reward idea into the context of personal relationship and dialogue; it stresses that God takes man seriously and responds to his acts. The whole point is that God cannot reply to man’s actions in the dialogue of religion if man’s actions do not speak to God but rather to other men.

As we examine the three pious practices, we begin to understand the importance and value of each of these actions in the life of a person as well as his community. What must avoided would be “hypocrisy”. These pious practices in themselves, however, are not evidence of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the split in a religious person between outward show and inner reality. Their actions do not correspond to their interior life. In spite of all these pious actions, there is no evidence of true inner conversion. So, the words of Jesus are not be interpreted as a disavowal of external actions but an invitation to match external actions with interior disposition. Our charitable acts must flow from a heart that is truly charitable and not only because we wish to earn the praises of others. We are reminded that the God who sees acts hidden from human sight will surely reward our devotions given without fanfare. By leaving the question of reward to God, one is set free for the concerns of others.

Giving alms or charity helps us to reorder our relationship with our brothers and sisters. We give alms not because we pity the poor or those who are less fortunate. We give alms because it reminds us of the need to be in solidarity with everyone, especially with the poor. Giving alms reminds us that all things come from God. Nothing belongs to us and therefore we should not selfishly cling on to these things. Giving alms remind us though material things are good, they are much more valuable when given to others.

Likewise, when the Lord speaks of prayer, what is being condemned is not just repetitive prayer but making a public spectacle of oneself in prayer. Indeed, prayer offered to win human praise is not prayer at all. In Jewish piety, the prayer of petition was very important, and Jesus’ disciples are warned not to confuse quantity with quality. God as a loving Father knows the needs of his children even before they make their requests, but he wants them to ask in confidence and trust. In petition, we do not so much inform God of some situation as express our dependence and faith. The Gentiles babble on when they pray, reciting an endless list of divine names, hoping they will hit on the secret name which will force the god to act.  There is only essential requirement for prayer that is to trust in the Father’s loving providence. The model prayer par excellence is the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father. Here, we come to recognise that prayer is never about arm twisting God but a humble and confident submission to the will of God who provides for our needs, who forgives us our offenses, and protects us from evil. Prayer leads to change. Prayer changes us. Note that prayer does not seek to change God. To do so would be magic.

Finally, we are treated to the third pious practice that is most associated with Lent – fasting. Our modern notions of fasting is that it is a form of masochistic self-deprivation to appease a sadistic God who derives pleasure in seeing us suffer. Fasting’s association with suffering is secondary. What is primarily expressed by fasting is the intense longing for God’s salvation. In other words, fasting is prayer in action. It is an urgent invocation for God to intervene, for the inbreaking of his Kingdom or His Rule. Once again, the Lord provides a corrective to the way we look at this practice. Far from considering it as a good work which forces God’s hand, the gospel sees fasting as a concrete expression of conversion to and dependence on the Heavenly Father. Therefore, fasting leads us to review our values in life. Fasting should lead us to place God first in our lives. Fasting helps us to reject and deny the lures of temptations – especially the temptation to satisfy our own wants. Fasting sets us free from greed, and makes us more sensitive to the needs of others. Once again, fasting as a practice is not criticised but the public display of it. In the first reading, we are reminded that the prophet had already rejected fasts which did not reflect an inner hunger for social justice.

During this season of Lent, let us ask the Lord to deepen our prayer life, to grant us the courage and self-discipline to fast and the generosity to share with the poor. Let our Lenten practices not be mere external actions. We pray for a change of heart, a “turning to the Lord your God again”. Let our “hearts be broken not (just our) garments torn.”

Sunday, February 7, 2016

信仰与文化



 2016年华人农历新年

在所有的华人传统节日中,农历新年可说是最大的节日。这就是为什么今天我们华人天主教徒会选择庆祝这个传统节日。文化赋予我们的生命意义;文化也象征着我们的身份。在座的各位都和我一样,有着多重的身份。我是一个华人,但受英文教育。我是马来西亚华人,这使我和中国大陆及台湾的华人不太一样。还有,我也是个天主教徒。这些不同的身份不仅让我成为不同团体的一份子,也影响了我的个性和选择。一般上,这些不同的团体有各自的生活方式,彼此间不一定有任何关系。可是身为一个天主教徒,却把这些不同的身份及文化融合在一起。

我们很难给传统文化下个定义。文化就像我们所呼吸的空气,虽然知道它的存在,但是却不以为意。只有当我们被其他人问起这文化到底是什么的时候,我们才会说一说。大多数的人理所当然地会把传统文化与服装、语言、音乐、舞蹈及庆节联系在一起。可是如果我们以为就因为一年才穿一次的传统服装或播放一次某种乐曲能表现出某种文化的话,那就对文化有欠公平了。这就是我所说的“旅游业”——它只为做“表演”用途而已。真正的文化能影响我们的价值观及左右我们的生活方向。真正的文化就好像是一个镜片,让我们能窥探这世界。

教会怎样看待文化呢?信仰与文化之间有着什么关系?其实,教会对文化有着正面的看法,因为文化来自人最好的一面,是人的内在及外在最佳的成就。教会使用人的语言及文化标记来宣扬主耶稣基督的福音。就如圣言成了血肉,为我们启示了天主的救恩计划;福音也得透过人的文化语言来与人沟通,使人明白。

换句话说,信仰与文化不是互相对立的。我们可以从文化中学习到很多东西;我们的文化也能从信仰中得到很多的学习。信仰教导我们,有主在内运作的文化,就是最好的文化。信仰能够净化文化,并帮助人看清最好的东西不是个人的成就或传承。信仰能够帮助我们看到;当朝拜天主时,人就可取得最好的成就。信仰也能够厘清我们应该关注的优先事务;那就是把天主放在先,其他的第二,而我们在最后。曾经有一位刚领洗的印度教友告诉我说,他以前的宗教教导他生命中最重要的价值有三个:那就是母亲、老师及神。但自从他领洗成为天主教徒之后,他才理解了他的优先选择:那就是天主应放在第一位,其次是母亲,老师则排在第三位。我们千万不能忘记,如果天主不在我们的文化和传统中,最后就会演变成朝拜文化。当我们朝拜文化时,最终就是朝拜人,而把天主给遗忘了。

这就是为什么我们的传统庆祝要以弥撒庆典作开始。我们应当提醒自己,凡是最好的一定要先奉献给天主。在每一台弥撒中,天主受光荣;而人则得到圣化。弥撒并不是光荣人或文化,它也不是为了展示人类的文化。弥撒是为展现天主的大能,为显示天主至高无上的权柄及无限的恩宠。弥撒超越人的文化,它是整个教会的庆典。这个庆典不单只为华人,但也是为全体信友而举行。因为在基督内,没有所谓的犹太人或外邦人,奴隶或自由人,男人或女人之分;所有的人都在基督内合而为一。

今天,文化与信仰都遭受到现代生活方式的冲击。不论来自哪一个种培育成长的文化环境,现在的人都生活在一个和以前很不同的社会环境里。华人重视孝道和家庭观念,因此对我们华人来说,父母与家庭都是很重要的。可是如今住在老人院里的老人,多数都来自华人社群。为了

不让这优良的传统文化价值逐渐变质,我们应该坚强我们的信仰。信仰与文化是息息相关的。信德坚强的人会孝敬父母,因为孝敬父母是天主十诫中的一条诫命。

今天的弥撒结束后,我们将进行祭祖仪式。在祭祖之前,我们必须先清楚地了解几样事情。虽然我们从传统文化中得到很多的学习,但是我们的理解却和非天主教徒很不一样。身为天主教徒,我们不是朝拜我们的祖先,也不是朝拜附在灵位上的祖先灵魂。身为天主教徒,我们为亡者祈祷,因为亡者已经没能力再为自己祈祷了。天主教徒能够给他们最好的祈祷就是奉献弥撒,因为主耶稣基督在十字架上的牺牲拯救了他们,也拯救了我们。我们的信仰教导我们,当我们在向我们的父母、祖先、甚至是圣人行敬礼的时候,我们也在光荣天主。当我们在为先人及圣人举行敬礼的同时,就是在朝拜天主。所以在今天的祭祖仪式中,我们必须清楚明了朝拜唯一天主以及对祖先敬礼之间的差别。而且在祭祖仪式中,我们不可忘记天主;我们应以天主为先,祖先第二,我们则排在最后。

今天,当我们与华人信友团体一起庆祝这感恩弥撒之际,让我们不断地光荣天主,并为所有的事物赞颂祂,就连我们在庆祝这传统节日及祭祖的同时,也一样地赞美天主。圣人依肋内曾提醒我们:“人的活着,就是天主的光荣;当人朝拜天主时,才算真正地活着。”