(Singapore) The Redemptorist confreres together with the faithful of St. Alphonsus Church, Singapore celebrated the birthday of our mother of Perpetual Help on 2nd of September 2018. The theme for our Procession this year is “Called to Love.” The Mission Statement of Novena Church says that we are a community under the care of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. But what does it mean to be devoted to Mary and to the Novena? True devotion must lead us to evangelization, authentic worship and service to the poor and the abandoned. The experience of the redemption of Christ and the care and intercession of Mary, call us to love. We are called to live our faith and share it with others; our worship and devotion must lead us to serve.
The Novena in preparation for Annual Procession was on Saturdays which continued for two months. The Theme for this special Novena is: “Called To Love!” The topics for the reflections were:
7 July: Love is always Patient and Kind
14 July: Love is not Envious
21 July: Love is not Boastful or Conceited
28 July: Love is not Selfish
4 Aug: Love is not Resentful
11 Aug: Love Delights in the Truth
18 Aug: Love is always ready to Excuse and to Trust
25 Aug: Love is always ready to Hope
1 Sept: Love Endures to the End
The solemn feast was celebrated on 2nd of September. The readings today helped us reflect on the relationship between devotion and mission. The ancient Israelites and the Pharisees were strict in their interpretation of the Law. However, some were smug in the assurance of God’s salvation. Sometimes, they were happy to follow minute details like washing dishes rather than showing compassion to people who were suffering. The Letter of James reminds us that we must not only be hearers of the word – we must be doers of the word.
In the same way, our devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help challenged us to live our Christian faith more fully. The blessings that we have received from God through the intercession of Mary inspire us and call us to love.
History of Novena and Annual Procession
Since the first Procession in 1953, the first Sunday of September has been the most anticipated day of the year for devotees.
The icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help holds a very important place in the spirituality and ministry of the Redemptorists. In 1866, Pope Pius IX entrusted the icon to the Redemptorists and commissioned them to “make her known throughout the world.” The Redemptorists began the Novena in Singapore 1949 and it has grown immeasurably from the little makeshift chapel where it started to the old church which was opened in 1950, and now, to this new church. The first Marian procession was held on the grounds of the church on the 21st June 1953. In 1959 the first floral wall was conceived by Bro. Casimir Godebye C.Ss.R. followed by the crowning of the Icon of our Mother of Perpetual Help outside the church. The last procession at Novena Church was held in 2014 just before it was closed for rebuilding and we have been waiting for four years for this day.
The Procession is a celebration of the icon and its message. What is the message of the icon? The icon expresses our faith in the redemption of Christ. Jesus looks ahead anxiously to the suffering that awaits him and clings to his mother’s arms. Mary shares in his suffering and she points us to him, our Redeemer. It is an icon of love, a story of how God chose to become one of us, to share our lives and to bring us redemption.
As the date coincided with the Corpus Christi Feast celebrated along the streets around the cathedral, the date was moved to the first Sunday of September in preparation for the feast of the Nativity of Mary. This then became an annual event.
The tradition of the floral wall and crowning with various religious themes was a regular feature for many decades until the last procession in September 2014 with the theme “The Joy of the Gospel with Mary”. The church was then closed for the building of the new church. This year, the procession resumes with the theme “Called to Love.”
Novena Youth Rally
The theme for the youth rally was: “Unstoppable Love”. The youths aged 13 to 30 were invited to participate. All joined for an evening of worship and praise on Monday the 3rd of September, from 7 pm to 10 pm, the day after our annual procession as we soaked in the plentiful, crazy and unstoppable redemption of our Lord. Love knows no boundaries and the LORD called all to experience Him in a special, fun and intimate way. All those participated, had a wonderful experience of God’s love and were changed by His love.
Gerard Louis, CSsR
Novena Youth rally link:
Mass and Procession in Honour of Our Mother of Perpetual Help;