“This year will be remembered by many as the year where we all had to make radical changes. With many of our plans canceled, our schedules cleared, and friends and family members distanced from us, we are adapting to new norms of life. It is natural for us to ask, where is God in all this? Be assured that God is still with us. Though our lives might be in many ways stripped of normality, and so many laboring under new hardships brought about by this pandemic, God has not abandoned us”: this is what Archbishop Julian Leow says in a Message released for the 63rd “National Day” (Hari Merdeka), on August 31, which commemorates the Declaration of Independence of Malaysia, of August 31, 1957, and in view of the Celebrations for the 57th Malaysia Day, on September 16, which commemorates the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia, which took place in 1963.
This year’s theme, chosen by the entire nation for these celebrations, is “Malaysia Prihatin” (“Malaysia Cares”): is a reflection of the spirit of patriotism, unity, and love for the country which has especially been evident in the nation’s efforts in fighting COVID-19.
The Malaysian Catholic Church feels fully part of this spirit. The pandemic has affected every aspect of life with radical changes. “In the midst of all these new difficulties, the Archbishop, quoting the Psalmist, assures: ‘The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit’ (Psalm 34:18)”.