CUE Ministry Retreat 2019: The Riches of Catholicism

ROC Group

On the 9th of August (Friday) till 12th of August (Monday), 18 youths spent the long weekend at the Gethsemani Formation Centre in Cheras to participate in the first-ever retreat organized by the College and University Edition (CUE) ministry. The primary focus of this retreat was on the teachings and traditions of the Catholic faith based on the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Instead of inviting external speakers, we had a few of our own amazing youths who took the lead in organizing this retreat, one of them being Marcus Leong, who is currently studying philosophy in The Catholic University of America. Marcus and the organizing committee had done thorough research on the topics and utilized resources such as the Catechism of The Catholic Church (CCC) to ensure the information provided were genuine and on par with the teachings of the Catholic Church. We had Tomas Dourado and Adriana Ang who handled the logistics part of the retreat. We also had the company of our parish priest, Fr Michael Chua throughout the retreat to watch over us and to answer any questions by the youths.

We arrived at the centre on Friday night, where a brief introduction to the retreat was given before we prayed the liturgy of the hours which was prayed throughout the whole retreat. The real excitement began on the 2nd day, when Marcus gave us a session on St. Thomas Aquinas and the Natural Law. We learned about how all living things have souls and yet the human soul differs from that of a plant or animal, as we have the ability to think and rationalize. After lunch we departed to the National Art Gallery to see the Italian multimedia project 'Leonardo Opera Omnia', which are High Definition digital reproductions of the catholic artist, Leonardo Da Vinci.

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Upon returning to the retreat centre, we continued with the 2ndsession which was on St. Thomas Aquinas and the Existential Proof for the Existence of God. We had an insight on how every living being has essence and existence. Essence represents what living beings are in nature, existence allows us to exist in this universe. However, the existence of every living being except God is dependent on other living beings, with God being the primary existence. Therefore, God is the only being in the universe where His essence is existence, and without God, the existence of other living beings would be negated.

The last session of the day was conducted by Gwendelynn Albuquerque, who gave us a talk on Divine Revelation. She explained to us the 6 covenants in the Bible. Covenant being the forging of a divine family by God, which started from Adam & Eve leading up to Jesus and His Church. In regard to Divine Revelation, it is transmitted by Apostolic Tradition, which contains 3 major aspects: Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium. This is what differentiates Catholicism from Protestantism, where the latter only focuses on Sacred Scripture alone, disregarding the Sacred Tradition and denying the authority of the Magisterium. The day ended with benediction in the Franciscan Friars Oratory.

The 3rd day began with the recitation of the rosary which was followed by a talk by the ministry's chairperson, Ian Ho who gave us an overview on the 4 Marian Dogmas of Mary, Mother of Jesus. The dogmas consisted of Divine Motherhood, Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception and The Assumption. He also explained further on the very interesting stories of Marian Apparitions of Fatima and Guadalupe. The main topic of the session following was on the Mass, conducted by Fr Michael Chua. He gave us a detailed explanation on every part of the Mass, including the rites, the liturgy and the sacraments which was then followed by mass. After dinner, we had a Q&A session with Fr Michael Chua and our assistant parish priest Fr Dominic Tan. The two priests answered all of the questions that the youths had.

The last day of the retreat began with an outdoor stations of the cross around the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. We then had our final session on the Progress of Spiritual Life which was delivered by Marcus. He mentioned that the end goal of our spiritual lives is the configuration to Jesus Christ, and the obstacle to that path is none other than sin itself. Sin is the rejection of God’s love and the destruction of our soul. Only through mortification, where we increase our Christian virtues and reject our self-indulgent desires can we truly receive God’s love. The sacrament of Baptism and Reconciliation exists for the sole purpose for us to return to God again.

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This retreat was undeniably a unique experience with the liturgy of the hours, daily mass with Latin ordinaries and traditional hymns which was an eye opening experience for many of us. It has given us a good insight and appreciation of the essence of Catholicism and our identity as Catholics. The world as we know it has changed dramatically throughout the years. Despite the conflict and chaos that sprouts from every generation, we must never forget our roots with Jesus Christ, we should be determined to pick up our own crosses so that we may live with Him in paradise.

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