Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Celebrating 200 years of the Catholic Church in Indonesia (1)

I thank Ony Suryaman for sharing his blog with me. This post is my part of sharing after reading his post. It is also my way to celebrate the 200 years of the Catholic Church in Indonesia.

Ony’s back ground seems closer to my husband’s back ground than mine. Chinese Indonesian could be grouped into two groups; peranakan and totok. The Peranakans usually use Indonesian regional dialects, while the Totoks are still attached to their ancestors’ dialects/ languages. There should be more history and stories behind these two names, I could write about it another time.

Actually some Chinese Indonesians are also Moslem. Some of them become Islam recently, but some others are Islam from the beginning because their tribe is holding this religion from their Chinese ancestors. But the majority of Chinese Indonesians are Christians (including Catholics) and Buddhists. Under the Buddhist identity are also those who belief in Confucius teachings.

Everybody has their own perspectives; that is why the world is so colorful. A year being a catechumen was not heavy for Ony, but was an obstacle for my husband Kurnia (my boy friend at that time). He was not able to provide the time needed for the meetings though it was after office hours. So we went to Father Frans Pranata PR to have special Sunday classes.

I remember what Father Frans said to Kurnia,” Whatever reasons are behind your decision to be a Catholic is not important. What important is the fact that you will commit to His love, and keep looking for Him by conducting acts according to His teachings”.

There are a lot of ways to go to Rome. May be his decision to be a Catholic was linked to his relationship with me, but the decision and all the consequences are on his own. I even stated that I would not commit to marry him even if he become Catholic.

He did have questions. I remember some of it. One important thing is “If God is so kind and merciful, why did He create us in different backgrounds and situations. Why are there miseries in Africa? They’ve got hard life!” It was about fate and destiny. I could not answer it. I was also searching the answer as ‘Why Judas?” (Read my meditation blog for more readings).

I would not compare religions, may be because I have never been confused in my own religious life. My husband’s auntie has changed her religion several times. It is a search of her lifetime! I had the chance to go to a Sunday school conducted by our Oikumene (Christian and Catholic) community. When I did have questions on different teachings (Christian and Catholic basically different in our way to honor Mother Mary) I always ran into my priest from my own KKS (Klub Kitab Suci, Bible Reading Club) in my church. I thank Father Wolff who was always patience in explaining things.

My grandmother was a Confucius’ believer, she did her pray for our ancestors. I do not really know if she did her prayer to the God and Goddess too. For me, the prayer time was a party time, after the prayer we were going to get delicious food and fruits. It was not long until we (the grandchildren) tried to escape from the obligation to pray with hio (candlesticks). I, myself, felt awkward to do it as it is not serving my religious thought. I thought I betrayed Jesus by doing that gesture (we were never taught to say anything, just did the three times adorations). We were hiding during the prayer time. Grandma was always disappointed and later on she decided not to search us for praying. My mom scolded us and told us that we were not serving grandma’s belief, but we should do it to make her happy. It is not for the death but for our grandma’s sake.

My grandma became Catholic now. My Buddhist aunt continues the ritual. Yet, my story with hio doesn’t end here, as my husband’s father does the same ritual. I now pray in my heart in a Catholic way when I did the prayer. I believe that I address my prayer to God. I let my children being excited to this other way of praying. They will ask in their time. So let it be…

I did question the Church on their gender preference. There were no Putri Altar (girls serve the altar) at that time. So when the late Father Hadi (he became a bishop afterward) asked me if I’d like to be a nun, I mockingly answered “No, I’ll be a priest if I may”. Now, understanding all the differences between Mars and Venus, I am not protesting their gender preference anymore.

The circumcision is something healthy, so it is not weird to have a Catholic seeks for circumcision nowadays. I do not consume pork and alcoholic drink but it is not according to the religious law. People made and changed the law, but we should never rely on people. Even a priest is a human being. Sometimes we found their wrongdoings too. Although we need to remember to share His love to other peoples to show the essence of our religion, we should be careful in judging a religion through the conducts of its believer. We should remember that God through every religion teaches only good deeds, it was human being who corrupted it.

I’ve noted that most sacred buildings for prayer like mosques, churches, or temples were not destroyed during the tsunami. May be I was wrong, but for me that is a hint that we are all serving the One and Only God!

I never had the impression that Hinduism and Buddhism are considered second class religion as they believe in Gods and Goddess. May be they are minority that is the real reason. Sometimes public school could not provide any teacher so the students are leaded into the majority of the class. I do not really know how Ony got this impression. He is almost ten years younger than me and I never really went into a public school (I only mingled with friends from public schools). I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a good Catholic school with good teachers (Catholic, Christian, and Islam. My eldest son is now in a Catholic school, he was also taught by a Hindu teacher. Not on religion off course, but having the chance to share empathy on their teacher religious holidays is something valuable).

Providing good teachers are really important for Indonesian education. We are now facing the globalization. While at the same time we are trying to strengthen our religious life to face the globalization, we should be careful not to loose our unity due to fanaticism in religion.

I do have some more notes on his post, but I will share it in my next post.


Oni Suryaman said...

Thanks God, that you don't share the same bigotry to say that Hinduism and Buddhism are second class religion.

This thought is the bias from monotheistic form of religion. Monotheistic religion tend to look down on polytheism religion (or sort of, because Buddhism is an atheistic religion really).

This is a common thought in our bureaucracy and among religious teachers.

krismariana widyaningsih said...

I like reading your posts! :)

Retty N, Hakim said...

Thanks for commenting. This is why I like citizen journalism website, I get to know people who read my thought and know how they feel about it. Now, it drives me into blogging. Please keep commenting, and share your blog too.