03/30/2018, 14.06
INDONESIA
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Catholics prepare for Easter with spiritual retreats and prayers (photos)

by Mathias Hariyadi

Many lay people take part in spiritual exercises in West Kalimantan and Tegal. The archbishops of Pontianak, Palembang and Semarang bring together the clergy for two-day retreats and Chrism Mass. Mgr Agustinus Agus focused on observing and experiencing “Christ’s love”. For Mgr Robertus Rubiyatmoko, “being compassionate towards others simply means” turning words into actions.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Over the past decade, more and more Catholic dioceses have adopted the tradition of preparing for the Easter Triduum through spiritual retreats, involving both lay and consecrated people.

Fr Andreas Mayong Acin, Capuchins provincial superior, organised a one-day retreat at St Mary’s Peace Promoter Church in Pontaniak, capital of West Kalimantan province. Some 400 people attended the event.

"The issue discussed at Fr Acin’s meeting was 'Faith and Actions',” said Sister Kresentia, a local Franciscan nun who spoke to AsiaNews. “The priest mentioned some of the qualities needed to be faithful to Christianity and the virtues to be attained."

In Tegal (Central Java), some 600 parishioners at the Church of the Sacred Heart attended spiritual exercises led by Fr Emanuel PD Martasudjito, professor of theology in Yogyakarta. The focus was on liturgical symbols and their definitions, in particular the Eucharist.

"I was happy to discover the great enthusiasm with which the parishioners of the Sacred Heart participated in this retreat,” said the local parish priest, Fr Yohanes Suratman PR. “Among the most satisfied were adults and seniors, but also young people, who now better understand all the liturgical symbols of the Mass."

A two-day retreat ended yesterday in Pontianak with the Chrism Mass led by the local archbishops, Mgr Agustinus Agus. Some 65 priests serving in the archdiocese attended the event.

Fr Yohanes Subagya facilitated the exercises. He is a former vicar general in Jakarta who currently teaches theology at the Catholic University of Atma Jaya in the Indonesian capital.

During the solemn Mass that brought the two-day event (pictured) to a close, Mgr Agus called on those present to "observe and experience" Christ’s love in the daily Mass, in their prayers and in their pastoral works.

Citing some key points in the archbishop's homily, Fr Ruben said that "Mgr Agus also invited priests to confess frequently, to experience God's mercy.”

Mgr Aloysius Sudarso, archbishop of Palembang (South Sumatera), celebrated the Chrism Mass in the parish of the Sacred Heart (pictured), at the end of a two-day retreat for consecrated persons.

His remote archdiocese covers a large territory that includes three provinces: South Sumatera, Bengkulu and Jambi.

Distances and difficult travel complicate priests’ pastoral work. Nevertheless, dozens of them did not want to miss the spiritual exercises.

"During the meeting, Mgr Aloysius Sudarso warmly recommended to all priests to remain intact in the different aspects of their lives,” said Fr Frans de Sales, head of the archdiocese’s social communication office.

The prelate, he added, encouraged them “to maintain deep respect for people, say nothing but the truth with a clear conscience, show compassion towards others, be honest and practise a simple life everyday.”

For his part, the archbishop reiterated the importance of "knowing oneself," urging priests to hold regular sessions with their spiritual mentor to "stay on the right path and not deviate."

Finally, after two days of spiritual exercises, Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko celebrated Chrism Mass in Semarang, Central Java (pictured) in a packed cathedral. As evidence of the large size of the local community, about three hundred priests and several hundred more worshippers took part in the service.

In his homily, Mgr Rubiyatmoko stressed the importance of the "synergy" and "personal integrity" of each priest, who must be able to turn his words into actions.

"Taking care and being compassionate towards others simply means this," noted the archbishop.

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