The voice of love and truth

Ervin TanFeature

Joseph (2nd from right) and his cell group in his working adult community formed by the Office for Young People. Photo: Joseph Tan

What Catholic200SG means to me: The voice of love and truth

As our Archdiocese collectively commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Catholic faith in Singapore, how can each of us contribute to building a more vibrant, evangelising and missionary Church? Joseph Tan reflects.

My Catholic faith is everything to me. By giving me an unchanging identity as God’s son, I have found the very purpose of my life.

My family shows me Christ

As a cradle Catholic, my parents have been my spiritual role models. They taught my younger brother and me how to pray, and led us in nightly prayers. They intentionally communicated their love for us, regardless of our mistakes or achievements. Their love formed the solid foundation for me to understand my “belovedness” as a child of God and the unwavering and unconditional nature of His love.

My mother is a piano teacher and music has been an important part of my life since I was little. It has played a central role in my walk with the Lord, so much so that I contemplate Scripture and praise Him most naturally through song. Coming from a family of teachers, I have found the most meaning in journeying with individuals, sharing truth and knowledge, and showing love to those whom the Lord puts in my life.

Thanks to my family’s influence, I am passionate about music and teaching, and feel that the Lord has really moulded my life around these two constants.

Our Church shows me Christ

In recent times, Singapore has been exposed to a greater diversity of ideologies and lifestyles. Without a firm foundation for determining what is good and true, moral confusion can ensue. For us Catholics, our Church is the rock upon which our beliefs are built. In navigating differing points of view, She teaches us to seek unity and offer correction with love, gentleness and humility, while acting to heal struggles and injustices present here.

For non-Catholics, I believe that the Church continues to help build a society that accepts and loves those of different religions and races. She also boldly proclaims the truth to all, in the hope that individuals in Singapore will flourish as God intended.

God has healed me from impure desires and protected me from heading down the road of sinful self-destruction. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, unique to the Catholic Church, is one thing I treasure immensely. I find the confessional to be a place of triumph where love is unconditionally and tenderly declared, and where I return to the embrace of God and His Church.

The Mystical Body of Christ has supported me constantly, catechising me during my childhood, keeping me tethered when my heart wandered, and opening my eyes to help me rediscover the truth of the Gospel.

St Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now but yours… yours are the feet with which He walks to do good… the hands through which He blesses all the world.” Indeed, the Church has been a sacrament of Christ to the world and to me. I would not have developed a desire for Him if He had not first loved and moved me!

My hopes for Catholic200SG

It is really poignant to recall the origins of our local Church. Our founding missionaries were men and women of such courage and conviction that they decided to leave home for an unfamiliar, distant country to share the Gospel with others who were ignorant of Jesus. Having studied in Maris Stella and Catholic High, their impact has been significant in my life.

I feel that the pandemic has caused our society to become more insular and self-protective, often at the expense of others. This makes the Catholic200SG events even more important. Isolated socially and perhaps spiritually from our brothers and sisters, we need reminders of how important our Church communities are to our formation and growth.

My hope is that this celebration will rekindle in us the knowledge of how precious we are in the eyes of God, and reawaken our collective desire to be sent into the world to joyfully proclaim Christ’s love to those in our lives. For my part, I will strive to continue building God’s kingdom on earth by seeking ways to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in their faith, and to remain open to the Lord’s call in my life.

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