Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Life Out of The Spirit

Its been a while since my last posting.
Last week for me was a real Life Out of The Spirit experience.
And it was only when I went for the Life In The Spirit Seminar (LISS) that I realised it.

Firstly Uncle Francis and Aunty Catherine our sacristians went to melbourne for their daughter's graduation. So I helped to cover their duty for the evening mass. This meant i couldn't spend my 1 hour with the Lord before mass. And coupled with that every nite I had LISS, sharing, open house meeting, parish council meeting, ppc meeting. Couldn't go for to ador in the nights either. Actually it was more of a didn't want to, after late meetings, just want to go home and sleep.

And to top it off, things like the problems with the catechist, and the direction for MSC didn't help much either.

The end result was that I didn't pray much except for the morning and evening prayer. Totally stopped reading the PDL, in fact stopped reading pretty much everything.

And then something happened which hasn't happened in quite a long time. impatience and frustration reared its ugly head. Things were said and done which I'm not proud of.

Then monday's LISS was the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and I left that night with the whole feeling of struggling. And at first I thought that it was because of the way that Charlie Goh and our charismatics did it, and their whole focus on the gift of tongues... But on reflection, I think its also because I have not fully prepared my self for it. Not doing the reflections, and not praying, didn't put me in any position to be receptive to the Holy Spirit into my life.

Well, I can't say that the Holy Spirit is not in my life, and that He has not given me gifts. But I guess, I have to start doing my ministry and exercising my gifts then I will find out what they are.

And so today's PDL chapter which I finally got around reading was on how I am shaped to serve God. And linking it with last saturday's recollection, the theme "Generosity" is a real challenge that I have to live up to. Probably my next posting will be on that.

Oh yah, the one thing that I've learnt from this whole saga is "Discipline". I can't blame the whole thing on being busy. Like Fr William Goh said, everything can be sacrificed to do God's work....except Prayer. And in my prep for the confimation camp, I've come to realise the link between discipline and being a disciple.

Monday, August 16, 2004


I woke up one day last week to the song Angels by Jessica Simpson, cos I use my radio as an alarm clock.

And through it all
He offers me protection
A lot of love and affection
Whether I'm right or wrong
And down the waterfall
Wherever it may take me
I know that life won't break me
When I come to call
He won't forsake me
I'm loving angels instead

When I'm feeling weak
And my pain walks down a one way street
I look above
And I know I'll always be blessed with love
And as the feeling grows
He breathes flesh to my bones
And when love is dead
I'm loving angels instead

This is of course a cover version of Robbie Williams' Angels. But I guess the thing when she sang it, the "she" became a "he". And in the blur state of just being awakened, the words of the chorus just made me think of Jesus. "He offers me protection A lot of love and affection", "He won't forsake me".And just changing the word "angels" to Jesus, this could be a Christian song ;-Þ

This is as much inspiration as I've gotten over the last few days.... My personal prayer life, short of the morning and evening prayers, has been quite bad. But I know I can't use work and time as an excuse.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Stewards of the Mysteries of God

Tues Nite Sharing
Tonite's passage was from 1Cor 4:1-21

The first two verses struck me immediately. The word "Steward" keeps appearing.

Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.
(1Cor 4:1-2)
Sunday's Gospel also mentions the "Steward"
And the Lord replied, "Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.
(Luk 12:42-44)
The role of the "Steward" is one who is trusted by the master and put in charge to manage his property. This is futher illustrated in the parable of the talents Mat 25:14-30. Where the 3 stewards were given charge of property by the master.

Celine told me this story which really illustrates the amount of trust our Lord has in us in spreading His Word and building His Kingdom.

When Jesus ascended up to heaven, the angels threw a big party to welcome Him back.

One angel approached Jesus and asked Him, "Lord, now that you have conquered death, what are you going to do next?"

Jesus replied, "Nothing. My disciples are going to spread My Word and bring the people back to My Father."

At this the angel was shocked. "But Lord, that's a bunch of fishermen and a tax collector. One has betrayed you, and another denied you. What if they fail? What is your backup plan?"

To this Jesus said, "I have no other plan."

And this is what has been entrusted to us. The last 2 verses in Matthew tells us what we are supposed to do.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
(Matt 28:19-20)
Now for the scary part. In the second part of sunday's Gospel, it says if the Master comes back and finds the Steward doing his job, he will be rewarded. But "That servant who knew his master's will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master's will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly." The same thing applies for the parable of the talents

This brings to my mind a few questions
1) Is Jesus really my Master, Lord of my life and my Saviour?
2) Do I know my Master's will, and what is expected of me?
3) Am I choosing to follow His will?

Will go and think about these questions. then will write the answers in another posting.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Light and Joy

This is a backdated post... been wanting to post it since fri, but just had too many meetings with the confirmation camp, church opening and the PPC Prep session.

So anyway, the words Light and Joy both kept coming back to me on thursday and fri.

On Thursday, I went for a talk, and the speaker mentioned that we are called to be "light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden." (Matt 5:14) A sign of contradiction in living out the Gospel in our daily lives.

And then Fri was the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The 2nd reading (2 Pt 1:16-19) mentions "a lamp shining in a dark place" and the Gospel Reading (Luk 9:28-36) says that "While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white."

Looking at the meaning of the word "transfiguration"

a. A marked change in form or appearance; a metamorphosis.
b. A change that glorifies or exalts.
Then there is the verse from 2 Cor 3:18, which says
"All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit."
And thus that is what we are all called to do, to allow ourselves to be transformed into the likeness of God. And this is where Joy comes in.

Jude and I followed Fr Brian to the wake of our parishioner who passed away from cancer. And I guess the thing that touched us most was our conversation with the lady's husband. He told us how his wife even though was suffering from cancer, but she was always cheerful. And those who attended the daily morning mass remembered the joy and peace that she seemed to radiate.

This also brought to mind the story Sr Theresa told us that even though she doesn't wear the habit, people she doesn't know would ask her if she was a nun.

And the ultimate story about us radiating Christ's presence in our life would of course be that of our dear Mother Mary. When she visited Elizabeth, even John the Baptist inside her womb was able to sense the presence of God in Our Lady.

And that I guess is my personal challenge. Is Christ really present in my life. Do I feel the joy that He is my Lord and Saviour. And how am I changing or transforming myself to really reflect Christ in my life, such that others will know.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Doers of the Word

I was thinking the whole day trying to think up of a nice title for this post.
And Mel Tan chose the passage Jam 1:12-27 for the tues nite sharing, which I guess is really appropriate.

After last night's Life in the Spirit Seminar (LISS) talk by Fr William Goh. It has got me thinking about my previous posting on devotion. Because Fr William Goh mentioned that the one who has all the intellect but no heart can't compare with the one with simple faith but who leads a life of Christ. And it got me thinking if I was too judgemental, and spiritually proud. But after tonight's sharing, it has reassured me that I'm on the right track, although I'm not there yet.

It might be ok for the older generation to be devotional, and most do live simple lives following Christ. But for us younger ones, living in this present society, we really have to be people of action, a sign of contradiction to the ways of the world.

"But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does."
(Jam 1:25)
Devotion has got to lead to action. The current culture of Catholics focus so much on devotion, mass, sacraments but forgets the second part of putting Christ's teaching into practice.

The gospels all talk abt action - "Go make disciples", "feed my lambs", "feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, welcome the stranger". Even the first book after the gospels is called the Acts of the Apostles. But of cos our service has to be together with prayer. The gospels also tell us that just as Jesus performed many miracles, His ministry was always strengthened by his prayer. He was always either climbing mountains or sailing in the boat to pray. Similarly we have to base our ministry on prayer. Thus every time we go for the eucharist, as much as it is a community celebration of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, we also get our spiritual nourishment there, to strengthen us on our mission outside of the church. That is why at the end of mass the priest ends of with "Go in the peace of Christ to love and serve the Lord and to love and serve one another" And like Fr Erasto's talk, just as Christ broke His Body, and gave to his Disciples and us, we being the Body of Christ, also have to break ourselves and give to others.
I just end off with a quote from the Holy Father, which came so nicely in my email today.
“It is unacceptable, being contrary to the Gospel, to attempt to restrict religion to the strictly private realm, paradoxically forgetting the essentially public and social dimension of the human person. Go out, then, into the streets, live your faith with joy, bring to others the salvation of Christ which must find its way into families, schools, culture and political life.”
(John Paul II)

Friday, July 30, 2004

Vines & Branches Part 2

This post is the second part of my eventful day.

Its called Vines & Branches Part 2, cos just 2 days after my wake up call to go and evangelise, our Good Lord gave me the opportunity to try and bear fruit.

I was going for Julia's birthday dinner, where I knew no one else. So I knew its going to be the usual getting to know new people and small talk - what are u doing now? how did u get to know Julia, and maybe the usual guy bonding stuff like army or football or finding out that we had mutual friends.

But I remembered what Ivan from the Youth Centre said he does when he has to go to wedding dinners and sits with people he doesn't know. So I did the same, and prayed before I entered the restaurant, telling God that I know that He has a purpose for me, and to show and guide me in what He wants me to do.

Dinner started with the usual introductions, and since I was the only one there who didn't know anyone else, felt out of place. Especially since most of them were from the same industry.

So conversations went that way for a while, until Julia mentioned that the girl sitting next to me was also staying in serangoon gardens. Wow...small world. But things then got interesting when I found out that she also studied in melbourne, and then that she was Catholic....

Then found out that she stopped going to church since sec 4, and never got confirmed. So was talking to her about God, when the guy opposite me, overheard and joined in the conversation. Apparently he's from Christ the King, was ex-president of the servers, but also left church.

Both struggling with their faith, both gave identical reasons why they left the church, and also that their parents "nag" them to go back to church, so they don't want to go back and make it seem like their parents were right.

Anyway, am amazed at their openess to share, and also amazed that of the 14 people there, the 2 other Catholics were sitting next and opposite to me.

Praise and Thank God, for making this dinner a fruitful one, and for answering my prayers.

Obedience & Devotion

Today is a really eventful day.

Thought that I had one think to write about, but the Lord works in the funniest of ways, So will split up my post into 2.

Today was the funeral or requiem mass of Fr Barthoulot. And in the church they gave out a remembrance card with his picture on the front and a reflection on the back.

To obey, it is not enough to do
what obedience commands
It is necessary to do it without
reasoning about it.
Be convinced that whatever is
commanded is the best thing
that can be done.

We are naturally inclined to
command and often unwilling
to obey.

Yet it is certain that to obey is
more advantageous that to
(Fr Barthoulot)

Challenging words by the man, who trained many bishops and priests from singapore and malaysia.

After the funeral mass, I stayed behind in town, since I was going to have dinner in town. So did my holy hour in St Joseph's church (Miss the aircon comforts of our adoration room - don't think i'm spoilt, but it was really hot). Anyway decided to go St Peter and Paul for evening mass at 5.30, hoping that Fr Thomas Lim would be celebrating Mass.

1st Lesson I learnt today - Never go for evening mass at St Peter and Paul (SPP) on a thursday.
They have the novena for the adoration of the Infant Jesus of Prague before the mass. So mass only started at 6.30 and ended at 7pm.

2nd Lesson I realised today - Why the church in singapore is so devotional.
As I walked into the church, i thought i saw the warden giving me a funny, curious look. Then I saw that the church was packed, which is unusual for a weekday mass at SPP. But then it occured to me why the warden gave me the funny look. Cos almost all the people in the church were old. I felt the same way the two girls must have felt when the walked into the gay bar in tanjong pagar (Long story, tell u another time)

So as I was sitting there, following the novena prayers, it dawned on me, that the older generation of Catholics in singapore are very devotional. They like the rosary, divine mercy, novena, infant jesus kind of prayers.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against these devotional prayers. But these devotional prayers are ok for the older generation, who are less educated, less materialistic, and had less distractions when compared to the more educated of today who live in a more materialistic & morally challenged society.

Devotion is not an end, but a means to an end. Just as the rosary should lead us to a closer relationship with Jesus, not just to Mother Mary.

Like what Fr Erasto was saying, we have got to move from just being a devotional church to one of action, actively becoming the body of Christ, broken and given, in our daily lives...not just in church. Hopefully the Carmelite Fathers, are able to use this devotion, which is able to bring so many people, through their sermons to encourage people to live a true Christian life outside of the church.

Second part to follow

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Vines & Branches

Tues Nite Sharing
Tonite's passage was from Jn 15:1-27 - Jesus the True Vine

This story made me think which branch I was, the one that bore fruit or the one that bore none.

He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. (Jn 15:2)
On Sat, my army mate called me, to ask me to go for a musical in his church. Just a background on this guy. He was the last guy I would ever think would convert to be a follower of Christ. He's the typical Ah Beng, smokes, speaks hokkien. And on sat, he actually said this "I live my life for God". He's so involved in his protestant church, and he was trying to give me tickets which he said were free for the "unsaved". But I declined saying that I shouldn't take it, cos I'm already saved....Same God anyway.

But this got me thinking, and I became quite disappointed with the Catholic Church at why we don't seem as vibrant, and evangelising as the protestants. But I started to realise that I was in fact most disappointed about myself. For not having a part to play in my friend's conversion and not being a good enough example of Christ to others. In total to date, I have introduced 0(zero) "unsaved" people to the faith.

I'm the branch that is not bearing fruit & to be taken away.

But this is a wake up call for me, to start living my faith to the fullest. Jesus' message is two-fold, to remain in him, and to bear fruit. Cutting & pruning of branches involve the same action but one is to condemn the other is to encourage growth. I can only take my past 25 years of my life as being pruned & encouraged to be a branch that bears fruit.

Praise The Lord for this wake up call.

Time to get started

After 9 months and 27 days, I finally put up my second post. When I first started this blog, I thought that I would use it frequently, but when u are in a job where u face the computer the whole day, logging on to the comp to do a journal is the last thing I want to do.

But anyway, 6 Reasons why I'm starting again.
1) Cos I'm no longer in that job, and its a joy to use the comp again.
2) Cos someone told me to go check out a blog by this girl from St Bernadette's Church. And was inspired by how she shared her own faith story.
3) Cos Raymond said that its a good way for friends overseas to keep up to date.
4) Cos I know that it forces me to reflect on my own life. And putting it into words is going to help me in my ministry in the future.
5) Cos one of the new names suggested for my community was "Parables" becos Parables are stories which Jesus used to convey certain messages. Similarly, each of our lives are a story of God's work and blessings. In the same way, we are called to convey God's message to others by our lives
6) Cos I was praying in the adoration room, and felt that because of the above reasons, God was telling me that it was time i continued what i started. (How to argue with God)

So I will try to update this regularly, although i don't think as much my sister does. But yah to all that visit my blog. May the Lord use my simple life, thoughts and words to spread His Word to everyone.