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.