I realised I did not post any New Year’s greeting in January.
I guess that’s fine considering it wasn’t a very “happy” year so far? Worldwide.
Some have even called for the year to be “reset” because there is a virus:
While a reset is not possible, I guess July can be considered a delayed “start” for the year 2020 – at least for us here in Malaysia and neighbouring countries who have none to little new COVID-19 cases daily. Let’s keep it that way! As for countries that are still registering 3 digit or more cases daily, I truly hope it will get better for you soon…
A week into the New Half Year, and I cannot contain how GRATEFUL I am that our Churches have begun to reopen on a parish by parish basis.
The parish I belong to reopened with a Carpark Sunset Mass last Saturday, 4 July:
A Carpark Mass is where the parishioners remained in their parked cars and attended mass from within their vehicles. The Altar was set up at the entrance of the Church, facing the parking lot of cars. Only the priest and those on duty (lector, commentator, extraordinary ministers, sacristans and wardens) are not in vehicles.
The Church was reopened for Mass on Sunday, 5 July, with new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs):
We have to queue first to “check-in” and get our temperature checked before we can enter the Church.
And then, the wardens will direct us where to sit – with spacing in between each parishioner indicated by a Saint on the left and right of us.
Being physically distant from others and not being able to gather together in big groups for the things we used to be able to do like prayer/worship and choir, it helps that we can still come together to worship and sing together in new ways:
This was FIAT Bintulu’s second Worship video project (the first was mentioned in a previous post) with a cover of the song titled “Kemenangan Terjadi Di Sini” (Victory Happens Here). The Choir Version and Lyrics with English translation are at end of this post.
A special Virtual Choir Project was also organised to coincide with the annual Harvest Festival that happen in Borneo during this time. Kaamatan takes place in Sabah on 30 & 31 May and Gawai takes place on 1 & 2 June in Sarawak. Normally, the local church would have special masses for the community, but this year, it was not possible. However, it was truly a blessing to join this project and lend our voices to glorify Him all the same:
This Kaamatan Gawai Medley was sung by 84 combined choir members from several parishes in Sabah & Sarawak doing a medley of “Apai Peda Kami Ditu”, a song in Iban, and “Ounsikou Ginawoku”, a song in Dusun. (Lyrics and English translations below.)
APAI PEDA KAMI DITU (FATHER LOOK AT US HERE)
1. Apai peda kami ditu (Father look at us here)
Deka muji nyembah Nuan (Praising and worshipping You)
Laban ti gaga samoa leman (Because you have created
Nuan pengaga O Tuhan, O Tuhan (You are Creator O Lord, O Lord)
O Dinga ka kami, O Tuhan (O listen to us, O Lord)
2. Kami ukai datai ngapa (We do not simply come)
Ukai muji nyembah aja (Not just praising and worshipping)
Tang ka madah ati gaga (But proclaiming our joyful hearts)
Madah pengaga O Tuhan, O Tuhan, (Proclaiming joy O Lord,
O Dinga ka kami, O Tuhan (O listen to us, O Lord)
3. Kami ditu balat richah (We here are excited)
Jari kaki ati nyembah (Hands, feet, hearts worshipping)
Malas budi Nuan manah (Reciprocating your goodness)
Malas pemanah O Tuhan, O Tuhan (Responding to your
goodness O Lord, O Lord)
O Dinga ka kami, O Tuhan (O listen to us, O Lord)
4. Kabuah kami patut pia (Why we should do so)
Laban nuan udah nempa (Because You have formed)
Utai ka guna nyawa mensia (Everything for our lives)
Utai ka guna O Tuhan, O Tuhan (Everything for us O Lord,
O Dinga ka kami , O Tuhan (O listen to us, O Lord)
5. Nuan Tuhan udu kuasa (You Lord are most powerful)
Tau ngampun samoa dosa (Can forgive all sins)
Dalam pikir, jako kerja (In thoughts, words, actions)
Kasih ka kami O Tuhan, O Tuhan (Have mercy on us O Lord,
During this time of pandemic and social distancing, everything in our life has had to adjust. Our work, our projects, our personal lives and our faith has had to adapt to new ways of doing things. With Masses being streamed online and even Choir is now a virtual project, it was only a matter of time when we (like so many other Christians all over the world) took our Worship online as well.
This is our group’s (FIAT Bintulu) cover of a worship song by NDC Worship called “Waktu Tuhan” (God’s Timing).
Lyrics in Bahasa (and translation in English) below.
Before COVID-19 and the Restricted Movement Order (RMO) started on 18 March, one of the activities I was involved in is that I am in the choir for our Sunset Mass on Saturdays. Of course, with Mass now only being live streamed online (with very minimum number of persons actually physically present at the Mass), there isn’t any choir for the Mass.
However, last week, our Diocese started this Virtual Choir Project where we could contribute towards the Mass in a more “present” way. The mechanics was simple enough and me and some Choir friends were super excited about it.
We would each record ourselves (voice only) singing while listening to an audio recording over our earphones/headsets. Our recording is then uploaded onto Google Drive and then someone would combine ALL the individual recordings into one audio file that would be then used during the live Mass.
How simple and awesome is that, huh?
This was some of us who uploaded for last weekend’s Mass:
I uploaded 2 recordings for the Opening and Offertory Hymns for the Mass in Bahasa and 1 for the Final Hymn for the Mass in English. You can click the link on the Mass to re-watch the Mass and listen to how the hymns sounded when all the voice recordings have been combined. It was, in effect, as if a Choir WAS present at the Mass.
Given the situation we are in, I just want to say KUDOS to whoever came up with the idea of the Virtual Choir Project! Thank You for allowing us who cannot be present physically at Mass to be even more “present” at the Mass (aside from joining the live stream Masses from our homes).
Thursday nights used to be Choir Practice night. Now, Thursday nights are spent doing Choir Recordings.
Christians all over the world, specifically Catholics, just celebrated the Easter Triduum over the weekend.
When the Restricted Movement Order (RMO) was extended the first time from 31 March until 14 April, I was crushed because it meant we would not be able to celebrate this important time in our faith together as a community of brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is to document how COVID-19 has affected our celebration of faith, apart from the fact that we could not go to church for Masses but only joined via live streaming. This is also to serve as a future reminder that we should appreciate the richness of the Sacrements and not take our faith for granted again…
And so the Triduum began on Maundy Thursday. On this night, we remember the Last Supper and Jesus’s washing the feet of his apostles. Due to COVID-19, and the importance of social distancing, the foot washing part was not done. (Although some families do opt to do the foot washing among family members that live together during the RMO.) After the mass, holy hour/adoration of the Blessed Sacrement was also done via live streaming.
On Good Friday, the last Friday of Lent, the last Station of the Cross was done via live stream and at the service where we remember the death of Jesus on the cross, the veneration of the cross is not done, except individually in our respective homes with our own crosses, while following the live stream.
On Saturday night, the grandest celebration of the Easter Vigil, when Christ rose from death, churches worldwide were empty and we can only participate via the live stream mass. The night that is rich with symbols of fire, water and light… could only be celebrated to the best of our abilities in our own homes.
To conform my surroundings to how it would be celebrated if we were in Church, I switched off all the lights at home where I was streaming the mass and lighted my candle after the Easter Candle was lighted, followed by the Exsultet.
Save for a dim yellow light from another part of the house, I listened to the seven Old Testament readings attentively and thanked God for the opportunity to listen to ALL of them instead of selected ones only (as is the norm at other times, especially if there were many people to be baptized).
When the Alleluia was intoned and the church bells rung, followed by the Gloria and the altar was set up, I switched on all the lights and also my altar light. It was a great reminder that Christ is our Light and He has risen! Of course, there was no baptism due to the current situation, but we had the blessing and sprinkling of the Holy Water and renewal of our baptismal promise. On my end, I signed myself with Holy Water and lit my candle for the renewal.
Alas, that was the best I was able to replicate since I did not have incense at home… and I have not received Holy Communion since the RMO began almost a month ago. But in faith, we believe that Christ is present with us and we make the Spiritual Act of Communion prayer during the Sacrament of the Eucharist every time we join the live stream masses.
Given the circumstances we are in now, I cannot be thankful enough for the graces to be found while joining the live stream masses, provided one truly participates in it as opposed to just “watching” it like you would any other video. One good that has come out of this is that I have committed the Spiritual Act of Communion prayer to memory by practice. Another is, I was able to join daily masses ever since the RMO as my “commute” to the altar was literally a few steps away. But the best thing that I have found during this period is, without a doubt, the closest thing to having Padre Pio’s gift of bilocation! Just with a few clicks, I can opt to go anywhere in the world for Mass – LIVE!