Friday, June 29, 2012

"Soegija, Van Lith and the Christian Mission"





Synopsis:
Originally not from a Catholic family, Father Soegija finally converted to Catholicism after entering a teacher's school in Muntilan, care for Father van Lith. Following in his teacher's footsteps, in proclaiming Christianity, Soegija also used traditional media such as puppets, ketoprak, and slawatan.

IN
his book, Becoming a Witness of Christ in the Middle of a Compound Society, (Jakarta: Publisher Obor, 2004, pp. 15), Franz Magnis-Suseno SJ, writes: "In other words, the Church, we, proclaimed the glad tidings of the glad tidings, and the glad tidings to be disseminated. and the news about God because the Church believes and knows that knowing Jesus, allowing himself to be captured by Him, following His footsteps, is the greatest happiness one can experience. "

According to Franz Magnis-Suseno, every Christian is required to carry out his religious mission. "Wherever they are, Christians are sent to radiate Jesus' love for the poor, those who need help and the people of sin, their pure positivity. Exactly that is the mission, including in a Muslim-majority country." (Ibid, p. 20).


In August 2003 (7th print), Indonesian Bishops' Conference (KWI) - parent of Indonesian Catholics - translated and published "Encyclical (Circular) of the Holy Father of Pope John Paul II" with the title "The mission"(The Mission of the Redeemer). This encyclical is a speech by Pope John Paul II in Rome, 7 December 1990, at the commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Decree of the Second Vatican Council on Christian mission (Ad Gentes).


In his appeal, Pope John Paul II invited Catholics to direct their missionary tasks to non-Christian people. Because, after over 2000 years, it turned out that most people still have not received the proclamation of Jesus Christ. Pope John Paul II said:


"Population growth in Non-Christian countries in the South and East continues to increase the number of people who remain unaware of the Redemption of Christ. Therefore, we need to direct our attention to those geographical regions and cultural environments that still remain not affected by the gospel, all who believe in Christ should feel as an integral part of their faith, an apostolic concern to pass on this light and joy to others.This concern must be as if a hunger and thirst to introduce God, because that is the most widespread non-Christian world. " (p. 51).


Also, KWI has published Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Appeal about "Gospel Preaching Work in the Modern Age, (Evagelii Nuntiandi) ", which the Pope delivered on December 8, 1975. In this appeal, Pope Paul VI also emphasized the need for Catholics to direct their mission, especially to non-Christians. The Pope stated:


"The first proclamation was also aimed at a large part of humanity who embraced non-Christian religions. The church respects and respects non-Christian religions because they are expressions of life from the souls of a large group of human beings. These religions contain an echo of seeking God during thousands of years, an attempt to find something that was never complete but often carried out with great sincerity and straightness ... We want to show, more so nowadays, that both respect and respect for these religions, as well as the complexity of the problem the problem that arises, is not as an excuse for the Church not to proclaim Jesus Christ to non-Christians, on the contrary the Church argues that these people have the right to know the wealth of the mystery of Christ. " (Evangelii Nuntiandi, Jakarta: KWI, 2005, 24th print, pp. 44-45).


Many books explain the types and forms of Catholic mission that must be done. One of them was written by Rev. Widi Artanto, M.Th., through his book, Becomes a Missionary Church in the Indonesian Context, (Yogya: Taman Pustaka Kristen, 2008). This book formulates the forms of implementation of the Church's mission in Indonesia, namely: the mission of creation, the mission of liberation, the mission of servitude, the mission of reconciliation, and the mission of the kingdom of God.


*****


Of course, as a Catholic figure, Soegija's figure and work cannot be separated from his main duty to carry out a Catholic mission in Indonesia. In his book, Catholics during the Indonesian Revolution (Jakarta: PT Grasindo, 1999, pp. 40-41), Jan Bank relates that Soegija - his full name is Albertus Soegijapranata - born in Solo, November 25, 1896. He converted to Catholicism while studying in teacher school in Muntilan which was founded by Father Van Lith. In 1919 he was sent to the Netherlands and in 1922 entered the Jesuit Order. There he became a student of Chancellor Willekens. On August 15, 1931, Soegija was ordained a pastor by Bishop Van Roermond in Maastrict. In 1933, Soegija returned to Indonesia and in 1934, he was appointed chaplain (auxiliary pastor) in Bintaran, a village in Yogyakarta. Two years later, he was appointed as pastor. In 1940, he was made bishop.


The figure of Soegija cannot be separated from the figure of Frans Van Lith, a Jesuit figure who is very active in carrying out mission activities through Javanese education and culture. The book "Ragi Carita: History of the Church in Indonesia from the 1860s to the Present" by Dr. Th. Van den End and Dr. J. Weitjens SJ (Jakarta: Gunung Mulia BPK, 2002, p. 440) wrote a glimpse of Soegija's story of attending school and converting religion to Catholicism under the care of van Lith: "There are a number of things that are prioritized by Father van Lith: Muntilan students live in internaat-dormitory so that education really fosters mature adults, and the pastor often went to Yogya, Solo and other places to look for students: Kasimo and Soegija were among his well-known students. When he entered Muntilan, Soegija stated he wanted to go to school, didn't want to be Catholic, but on December 24, 1909 Albertus Soegijapranata was baptized. "


The position of van Lith's school of teachers (kweekschool) benefited from the policies of the Dutch colonial government, especially under the Governor-General AF van Idenburg (1909-1916) who strongly sided with the Christian mission in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). Graduates of this school are given the same rights as Dutch-owned schools to become teachers in public schools. It should be noted, that for the community at large, at that time it was a prestigious one if someone could be appointed as a teacher in schools belonging to the Dutch colonial government. In the book "Ragi Carita" it is mentioned, that the graduates of Muntilan Kweekschool "must dare to engage in all Indonesian societies, become yeast wherever they work." (Ibid).


Catholic development in Java is quite rapid. In 1940 there were around 500 Catholic schools, with around 56,000 students and more than 1,300 native teachers. In such a situation, on August 4, 1940, Pope Pius XII appointed Albertus Soegijapranata SJ, as the Apostolic Vicar of Semarang, as the first indigenous bishop. In 1939, Soegija was appointed as the first indigenous consultor (advisor) for Superior Society of Jesus (SJ). (Ibid, p. 442).


Regarding the mission strategy in bringing Javanese people to Catholicism, Frans van Lith emphasized the need for missionaries to learn local languages ​​and cultures:

"If missionaries want to bring non-Christians to Christ, they must find a starting point for evangelism. In their religion lies the heart of these people. If missionaries ignore this, they will also lose meeting points to offer good news in on their hearts, in Java, in particular, where the most advanced inhabitants of all the islands lived, studying Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Javanese culture was a necessity that could not be postponed.These religions had developed, but the original religion was not has been uprooted from the hearts of these people. " (See the book "Van Lith, Opening of Teacher Education in Java, History of the 150th Society of Jesus in Indonesia" by Fl. Hasto Rosariyanto SJ, Yogya: Publisher of Sanata Dharma University, 2009, pp. 151-152).

To ask for support from the Dutch government, Father van Lith had to go to Bogor to meet with Governor General van Idenburg. His hard work was successful, so on October 11, 1911, the Kweekschool-B in Muntilan received an official visit from the Governor General. A year later, this school received the status of being equalized from the Dutch government. The book "van Lith" tells us that the schools in Muntilan and Mendut were the destinations of students from various regions. They come with a desire: "get a quality education so that later you can get a better job." (Ibid, p. 162).


It was described, that at that time, in Muntilan there were 350 non-boarding students and 150 boarding students. The pattern of Christianization through education, as van Lith did, turned out to be quite effective. It is told in the letter of Father I. Vogels to the Jesuit Priests in Oudenbosch, dated October 24, 1910: "Last Friday there were 53 students who took the entrance examination, but only 28 were accepted because their capacity could not be more than 115 people. Until now these students came as Moslem and almost all of them later became Catholics. Also 28 students who had just been accepted were mostly still Moslem. " (Ibid, p. 162).


Father van Lith really emphasized the importance of the Catholic mission through education. In fact, he argues, the future of the Catholic Church in Indonesia will be determined by its contribution to indigenous education. Said van Lith: "Any mission work that does not start with or that is not rooted in education will fail." (Ibid, p. 206).


In carrying out his mission, van Lith was also very fanatical about Javanese culture and language while strongly criticizing the development of Malay in Java. In fact, at that time, Malay language increasingly became an important means to foster national identity among national movements. However, according to van Lith, Malay will not develop, and its role will be replaced with Dutch. In a Javanese congress, van Lith warned that Javanese should be proud of the Javanese language and remove Malay from schools. He adheres to the saying: "a nation that does not have its own literary work will remain as a second-class nation." (Ibid, p. 173).


When Christians or Catholics carry out their mission in Java, the Javanese people are actually Muslims. At least, Islamic culture has taken root in Java. In fact, the Dutch colonial government also considered "all Javanese are Muslims". Therefore, the Netherlands only gave authority to the chief to record marriage on Java. At that time, Javanese youth who converted to Christianity / Catholicism had difficulty managing marital records. In his letter to Mgr. E. Luypen, in 1902, van Lith said, that married Catholic youth eventually left the Catholic Church because after their marriage, "they became part of the Muslim herd." For this reason, van Lith requested permission from the Dutch government, so that he would be allowed to register the marriage. (Ibid, pp. 234-235).


Another example of the strong influence of Islam in Javanese culture is the problem of circumcision. Catholics in general, stick to Paul's letter to the inhabitants of Galatia (Gal. 5, 2): "Verily I, Paul, say to you: if you circumcise yourself, Christ will not be of any use to you." With a variety of considerations, van Lith did not oppose the practice of circumcision among Catholics in Java, because circumcision no longer has religious meaning. However, van Lith opposed the addition of Arabic prayers in circumcision or circumcision as a form of conversion to Muslims.


Since 1876, all Catholic missions have been entrusted to the Dutch Jesuit even though the Vicar is still a diocesan. In 1893, a Jesuit was appointed, Mgr. W. Staal, as the Vicar of Batavia. At that time there were around 30 Jesuits working in the territory of Indonesia. "Mgr. Soegijapranata is one of the first Jesuits to graduate from the Mantilan Xaverius College." (p. 91)


Mgr. I. Suharyo, in his article entitled "Reflections on the Journey and Future Directions of the Archdiocese of Semarang", mentions that Soegija very much planned the realization of the Church rooted in local culture. In 1956, Soegija allowed the reception of baptismal sacraments using Javanese or Indonesian. "Traditional arts such as wayang, ketoprak, slawatan are used as media for preaching. Gamelan is recommended for use in liturgy. All these efforts are supported by advancing the field of education which remains a field of service that will have far-reaching effects in the future."


Then, it was concluded: "What is aspired is the Church which, in the language of the Gospel, truly becomes salt in society. And should not be forgotten, the Church in the area of ​​the Archdiocese of Semarang is developing amazingly thanks to the blood of martyrs who have fertilized the seeds Christian faith, hope and love that has been spread by so many people. " (See the book Reflecting on the faces of the dioceses of the Indonesian Catholic Church, ed. Dr. F. Hasto Rosariyanto SJ, Yogya: Kanisius, 2001, p. 292). * / Depok, 28 June 2012



By:
Dr. Adian Husaini - Chair of the Doctor of Islamic Education Program - Ibn Khaldun University, Bogor. Weekend Notes [CAP] are the result of collaboration between Dakta 107 FM Radio and hidayatullah.com


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