Dear Muslim friends,
Hari Raya Aidil-Fitri! We rejoice with you as you celebrate the end of your holy month of Ramadan with prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Indeed, these are wonderful signs of your desire to be holy through a life of obedience and charity and reverent worship of God, and a great witness to the world of your faith in Him.
We Catholics too are called personally by God to holiness: “Be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44). Pope Francis has just reminded us in his most recent Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad) “On The Call To Holiness In Today’s World”, that holiness is to be found not just in the saints and martyrs who made great sacrifices for their faith, but also in the small everyday things of common life that are said or done by our next-door neighbours – whether they are Christian, Muslim, or of other faiths. These ordinary people living in our midst profoundly reflect God’s goodness and mercy in little gestures and details of love.
The Pope describes five great expressions of the love of God and neighbour that can be found in what he calls the “middle-class of holiness:” (i) perseverance, patience and meekness; (ii) joy and a sense of humour; (iii) boldness and passion; (iv) community; and (v) constant prayer. He reminds us that holiness is not confined to an individual effort, but a journey in community, side by side with others.
We rejoice and are glad, dear friends, that we have the privilege of journeying with you side by side in our endeavours to break barriers, to build bridges and bonds of friendship and fraternal charity in our nation. With you we share the same journey of holiness through love of God and our neighbours, in mutual respect, compassion and forgiveness. Despite the circumstances of today’s world, where there is so much fake news, stereotyping and prejudice, suspicion, individualism, isolationism, indifference, complacency and even defeatism, we have endured and persevered boldly in our interfaith mission to forge lasting relationships of trust and safety in our common spaces with humility, patience and perseverance. Most of all, we believe in the power and importance of constant prayer and reverence for the sacred word of God, for holiness is the work of God within us. We now wait patiently with expectant faith for the transformation of hearts and minds of those we constantly pray for, but which we surrender to God’s providence.
Once more we are grateful to God and you for being such faithful and faith-filled companions on this journey of holiness – let us continue to encourage and inspire each other in making visible our transcendent God’s presence in our material world. May we always stay joyful and light-hearted as we cooperate, collaborate and celebrate even the smallest victory together!
On behalf of the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, we send our heartfelt wishes to you and your families for a very happy and holy Hari Raya Aidil-fitri!
Most Rev William Goh, D. D., STL
Archbishop of Singapore
Msgr Philip Heng, S. J.
Vicar General (Interreligious Relations)