Saturday, November 26, 2005

Gospel Verse Birthday Meme

Found this on another blog. Quite interesting actually.
Find the verses in the 4 Gospels that correspond to your birthday.
Using your the Month for the Chapter and the Day for the Verse.

So for example mine is Aug 23rd thus Chapter 8 Verse 23 of the four gospels

He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. (Mt 8:23)

and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A squall blew over the lake, and they were taking in water and were in danger. (Lk 8:23)

He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on him and asked, "Do you see anything?" (Mk 8:23)

He said to them, "You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. (Jn 8:23)

Go and try it. And drop me a comment if you do. Would be interesting to see what other's have for their verses.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Technical Support

Most of us would have come across some hilarious anecdotes of the wierd questions tech support guys have to answer, where the problem lies between the keyboard and the chair(PLBKAC). I never expected it to happen to me.

Episode 1: Customer calls saying "My computer hung and is in safe mode. I need it desperately to do my assignment." So ok, I go down to the house. And I find the computer still in safe mode, and hung. Then it dawns on me, that she never even tried to reboot the system. So I power down, and turn it back on, and the system works fine. But not nice to charge her the service call fee, just to switch off and on the computer. So I helped her clean up the spyware in the comp which might have been the cause of the system hanging.

Episode 2: Customer calls saying
"Hi, I bought a computer from your company a year ago. Could you help me with this. My monitor has turned dark."
So I ask, "dark as in just a black screen?",
"No I can still see the display, just that its very dark."
"Have you tried adjusting the brightness?"
"Yah, I pressed the brightness button, and I see 0 to 100%, its now 13%, but i can't increase it, I press the other buttons but it doesn't change"
"Is there a dial that you can turn."
Sounds of delight "Oh yes, thank you."

Not sure why I'm putting this in my "Sprirtual Journal", I probably could use the second story to illustrate some Gospel message on blindness or needing the help of others. But other than that, it's just for entertainment value.

Oh yah, maybe its also to remember the time when I asked the stupid question. "Catholics go to church on sunday because that's the only day that everybody doesn't work right?"

"Guan Xi"

"Guan Xi", a Chinese word that literally means relations. But as most of us know that in the business sense, it goes way deeper than that. Especially with the chinese (from china). But it also happens here in singapore. An incident happened recently that made me think about it, thus this post.

In a pure sense, "Guan Xi" is about a personal relationship that is attached to a business deal. It is one based on trust, mutuality and even protection of each others interests. Benefits are that once "Guan Xi" is established, u enjoy better deals, the other party is willing to assist u when u have difficulty, they might even give u the deal despite someone else offering them more money.

But then "Guan Xi" can also be abused, leading to things like favouritism, nepotism and blindness to new opportunities. Ok, maybe I should explain what happened to me. I've taken over this IT job from another guy. And he used to get computers assembled by a certain store in sim lim. So when I took over I just assumed that we could still get from the same supplier. But yesterday when I tried to place an order for another comp, the guy said, "I'm sorry, we can't supply you the comp." And when I asked why, he just said, "Something happened which I can't say." Which was a nice way of saying "Take your business somewhere else".

My conclusion is that they had a "deal" with my ex-colleague, and now that he's gone, the "Guan Xi" isn't there anymore. So here I am, stuck... price quoted to customer already, so means still have to get a comp. Just that dun have the luxury of placing the order by phone and just collecting from sim lim. Now have to go there in person, choose the parts, pay the money and wait 1 hr to collect the comp.

So back to my reflection... Is this "Guan Xi" the right way to work? And does it happen in the church? It's so natural to rely on people we can trust, and also to be wary to others who haven't gained our trust just to protect ourselves. And sometimes we are prejudiced against someone even before we get the chance to know the person, just based on their looks, their behaviour, or worst from the words of others. Hmm...maybe I'm a victim of racism...Think i'll go and buy from one of the shops owned by indians.

I guess my conclusion is that "Guan Xi" in the way that the Mainland Chinese work is wrong, because it has taken relationships and perverted it to one where has to bootlick/buy their way into favour. Or at least it's not the way Christians should work. Does it happen in the church? Well least in the local church since we all have some of this typical chinese traits. Me not so much since 3/4 only...but something to be aware of. To treasure relationships built on trust, but to also be open to new opportunities, to not have prejudicial assumptions of others and also most importantly to be open to dialog....Not sure where the last one came from in this thought process, but yah tat's really important to clear up misunderstandings and to build better working relationships.

And just after I finished typing the above, and walked out of the room, I saw this scene...One of the youths talking to a senior leader of the parish, about the use of the PA system in the hall. (The following words are not exact, but the meaning somewhere there) "You all know how to use the system?", "Yes uncle, we had 3 of our members trained LAST NIGHT." And I couldn't believe the reply. "Trained doesn't mean know how to use". Brilliant right.

Ironically, I've never had any official training, but yet they trust me with it. Classic "Guan Xi" in action. Must understand their position... probably had some bad experience with the sound equipment before. But the youths think it's because they are youths...So told them they have to start earning the trust of the adults...but aiyah.... this is exactly what I'm talking about.....shouldn't be this way.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Recognising the Opportunity

Today's Gospel is one that is rarely read. It only appears in Luke's Gospel, and only read on the Thursday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time.

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, and came in sight of the city he shed tears over it and said, "If you in your turn had only understood on this day the message of peace! But, alas, it is hidden from your eyes! Yes, a time is coming when your enemies will raise fortifications all round you, when they will encircle you and hem you in on every side; they will dash you and the children inside your walls to the ground; they will leave not one stone standing on another within you - and all because you did not recognise your opportunity when God offered it!"

I remembered the last line and was reflecting on it during and after mass. Lo and behold, I went for PPC Ex-Co meeting, and as usual they started of with sharing on this Sunday's Gospel, which is on the Last Judgement.

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' "

So the one sentence from today's Gospel really summed up this passage. Jesus was saying the same thing, at the last judgement. To those on the left "all because you did not recognise me in your brothers, you did not recognise the opportunity." This is something that I've been trying to learn on my journey. To recognise God, and the opportunities He gives me to experience Him in my life. In "Reaching For The Invisible God", there is an earlier chapter on Spiritual Amnesia. We all know how easily we forget God, and there it tells of the remedy. Conscious Remembering.

Philip Yancy refers to a Brother Lawrence, a simple Carmelite brother, who wrote the devotional classic "The Practice of the Presence of God". Which I actually have, thanks to Pearl, who gave it to me when I left Gigatt. You can actually download the whole book from this website. It's quite a short book, consisting of a collection of his letters and conversations. Brother Lawrence talks about how amidst outward affairs and daily occupations, it is possible to cultivate a life of contemplation.

While we think that it's probably easier for a Carmelite, who's in a monastery in those ages to do it, but not us. Yancy illustrates that if we can check our sms and emails ever so often, habits that we are not born with. We can also practice checking God's presence in our lives. I shall just end with this quote

The depth of spirituality does not depend on changing things you do but rather in doing for God what you ordinarily do for yourself.
Brother Lawrence

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Freedom and Wealth Part II

In my rush to finish and get to sleep, I left out a part of my reflection.

One of the reasons why this topic was so striking, is because of the readings this week. The first readings are taken from the book of Maccabees, and it tells of how the Israelites were invaded and taken over by pagans, and how the king forced the Israelites to abandon their faith and practices. And yet there were people who were willing to give up their lives, willing to disobey the king then to disobey God. They were willing to give up the "freedom" that the king was offering them.

In tuesday's first reading, Eleazar, an old man, was given an option to live, but chose to die then to deny God and lead others astray. And as he walked to his instrument of torture, said

“The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that, although I could have escaped death, I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging, but also suffering it with joy in my soul because of my devotion to him.”

Eleazar made a gift of his freedom back to the Lord. And then in wednesday's first reading, it was 7 young men who were put to death in front of their mother. And despite the king offering them life, freedom and wealth, the mother offered these words of encouragement.

“Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe who shapes each man's beginning, as he brings about the origin of everything, he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.”

Sounds so much like Jesus saying "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." Which was actually in last Friday's Gospel. In the light of my reflection, it has really brought a new meaning to this sentence. In fact this sentence is so important, that it is featured in all four Gospels, twice in Luke. And of course it is always preceded by "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

So big challenge for me, to invest my freedom rightly, to pick up my cross daily. How far would I go to sacrifice my comfort, my freedom, my material possessions? Pray for me, and if you want me to pray for you, drop me a comment ;Þ Oh yah, I've been getting comment spam, so now if you want to leave a comment just have to enter the code displayed.

Freedom and Wealth

Yes it's been a long time. I guess after the 8-day retreat, I went back to using pen and paper. Also did quite a bit of reading at the retreat, and continued since then. I can finally say that I've finished one book, the one that I keep by the side of my "throne". And in the meanwhile I've started on a few other books. At this moment I have 8 books which I am reading halfway. More on that later.
But the last nearly 2 months has been quite interesting. October was my turn to do sunday sessions, did a session on Remembering. Also had rosary prayers every friday night organised by LOG, and quite a lot from all the groups turned up. So many youths hungering to grow in faith... Praise God!!! Was also busy rushing around to get the testimonials, and Fr Fossion's one was so cute. Probably scan it and post it up someday. Then, sent in the application forms, so do continue to pray for me. Went for the seminary day of prayer for vocations, Jovita led the P&W, think his first time, quite good.
November was Fr Mike's birthday, did a session for IHM's youth charge, can't believe that I gave a talk on Evangelization. But thanks to the Spirit, managed to pull it off, really surprised by it ;Þ Then I also started a new job. It's with a social enterprise, which is a company that is non-profit, all the profits go into its charitable works of running training programs for migrants and ex-offenders. The technical engineer was moving on to another job, and they needed time to find a replacement, and at the same time needed to maintain it's current contracts. So I told them I can help them in the interim... Quite fun actually. Get paid to do the stuff I do at home, maintaining my hardware, installing modems and wireless networks, updating websites.
Yup so that's what I've been doing... So now to the topic of this post. Which is the reason why I'm resuming blogging. Something I read today really struck me, and coupled with this new tool I'm trying out called Qumana, it's a desktop publishing tool, which means I dun need to login to blogger to edit and post. Something which might be useful when I don't use the internet that often. I'm that how to finish by midnite.
One of the books I'm currently reading is, Reaching for the Invisible God, which I blogged about when I started reading it in may, but still haven't finished after 6 months. But luckily this book needs to be read and reflected on. Like how it applies to your life, and so it's not so important to remember what was written in the previous chapters to understand the current one.
And today I was reading the chapters on the mature adult relationship with God (after the childlike relationship). The chapter starts with
"Wise parents nudge their children away from dependence toward freedom, for their goal is to produce independent adults. Lovers, however choose a new kind of voluntary dependence: possessing freedom, they gladly give it away... That adult relationship reveals, I believe, what God has always sought from human beings: not the clinging, helpless love of a child who has no real choice, but the mature, freely given commitment of a lover."
Further on, it talks about spiritual discipline, not out of duty, but out of desire to please and be close to God. And how the world can understand and encourage atheletes to devote their time and effort to train to be the best, but can't understand why a person would go for mass or pray daily. Now this is the part which struck me the most.
"Thomas Merton drew a parallel between freedom and the wealth a rich man enjoys. A rich man if he wants to can light cigarettes with dollar bills, and Merton before his conversion, squandered his freedom in the same way with his partying and drinking. A wiser rich man would invest his money so that he may reap the benefits later on, Merton too chose to invest his freedom by entering a monastery."
For me this concept of freedom being spent/squandered/invested like wealth really intrigued me. I guess I never really saw freedom as something to be used wisely. Talents and gifts, yes, like in sunday's and today's gospel. But freedom, was whether to use the talent or not. We often say offer your gifts back to God, or choose to do His will. That God GAVE us this freedom, has taken on a new meaning for me. Our freedom is a gift, and something which I can offer back to Him. Blows my mind thinking about it.
He goes on to say, how the holy people like St Francis, St Benedict, Mother Teresa, "investing their freedom in discipline, secure a deeper freedom unavailable elsewhere".
Ok it's near 1am, this is the reason why I didn't want to blog earlier. And I think this program isn't going to help either....The font is so small, doesn't seem like writing much. But I think when it's displayed on my blog, with it's smaller width and it's bigger font, would be really long. Hope you made it all the way to the end. Sorry for the long, irrelevant intro ;Þ

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Soccer Match Reruns

Last friday night, I read one of those daily devotionals I subscribe to, and saw an interesting article. Cause it used sports to link with faith, my favourite kind ;Þ

"some people like to watch great football and basketball games over and over again. Why? ... I think it is because the games turn out the way they want them to. They know how the game ends and even though there may be some difficult moments for their team they know it all works out in the end. As they watch the game over and over every play is a celebration and they enjoy the thrill of victory over and over again."
The article in summary talks about how ESPN shows reruns of past basketball and football games. And how it is the same with our faith, know that even though we may be down now or struggle, but we know the score at the end. Jesus won it all for us.

So it was quite interesting that on Saturday morning, I was channel surfing while eating breakfast, and as usual there's nothing interesting on TV on saturday mornings, I switched to one of the sports channels and they were showing a reruns of the 2000/2001 FA Cup Final between Liverpool and Arsenal.

Now, I've watched the match before, and I knew that liverpool won. So you might think that it relates with the article that I read. Problem was that I didn't remember... or at least wasn't sure if Liverpool really won. Because as I watched the game...I saw Ljungberg score in the 71st minute, and all of a sudden, I thought...hmm..was this the year that Arsenal got the double. And then as I looked at the Liverpool players, the manager, I remembered that they were the underperfoming bunch. Shit I think they lost it. Then in the last 7th minute, Owen scores the equalizer, and 4 mins later scores the winner with a wonderful goal. Disappointment turned to joy. Yup...they won this one...classic match, thats why the showed it again.

But after I switched off the TV, the article came to mind. Yah it was a rerun, and I knew the score...hmm...can I link it to my faith... And sad to say yah I can, just not in the way the article was talking about. Because this time, although I knew how it ended, but then, I forget, I've watched too many matches to remember. And when Arsenal scored, the doubts started coming in. I wasn't sure anymore, and the players on the field didn't really inspire much confidence either. (But then this is Liverpool, haha, the team that can come back from 3 goals down to beat AC Milan and win the Champions League)

So linking this to our faith, yah I've been distracted with life's other insignificant battles, that I forgot how this final battle ended. Especially seeing the "goals" being scored against the faith. Doubts start setting in. "How to come back like that" And then look at the "players" around now? wah piang...this useless bunch. how to ever turn the score? But a comeback is possible, even if we can't remember the result, and tats wat faith is. Despite all the doubts, the perserverence, trust, hope in the joy. The game is still going on, and each of us (I esp like this analogy) are players on that field, we just have to buckle down and carry on fighting. Cos it ain't over until the whistle is blown. Oh yah I learnt a new word for the end times : Eschaton

See wonderful right how the Liverpool team can link to the faith....Especially its motto "You'll never walk alone" And just realised that it links to the passages from the previous post . We walk with Christ, and we walk with each other. Those from COSDU will remember how we used it as the theme for the year when I was session co-ordinator ;Þ

Monday, September 19, 2005

Following and Being with Christ

This post is super late, wanted to do it on sat, but then have fallen ill.
But thankfully the delay also has its merits, as I just read something today related to the theme.

It all started with the Gospels of Last Thurs and Fri.
Thursday was the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, which Fr Ho pointed out follows the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross. The Gospel was

"Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home."
And Friday's Gospel was
"Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources."
As I reflected on the two Gospels, together with the comment by Fr Ho, I realised that they had a common theme. Both at time of Jesus' ministry and suffering, His followers were with Him. It wasn't so much that He was with them, but they were with Him. Mary was by the side of Jesus from His Birth to His Death. The disciples also gave up everything to follow Him.

So should our prayers be "Lord, come and be in my life", or "Lord, help me to follow You". Much as wanting God in our lives sounds good and holy, it can lead us to a self-centered thinking that God comes into our plan of lives. This can also lead us to feel that God abandons us when things are not going too smoothly. But when we change the mindset, that we enter into His plan for us. That we try to be close to him, in times of His mission and in times of His Cross, we realise that He is always there, and we can be by His side.

Which brings me to the article I read just today. "Where I am, there shall my servant be also" (John 12:26)" by our late Holy Father John Paul II. The servant is at the side of the Master, not the Master following the servant. This also reminds me of a letter by the head of the Dominicans, Fr Timothy Radcliffe, that I've been reading. In it he uses the bus as an example, as long as the bus is going in our direction we stay on the bus. But when the bus departs from the direction of my own journey, I will get off the bus, and carry on in my direction. So is Jesus a bus, which I stay on as long as its going my way? or do I stay on the bus, whether or not its going where I want to go?

He also talks about how always there will be differences between those in the Dominican order, but how they are all united in the same mission. And so we too as followers of Christ in general, have so many different ideas and gifts. Are we too united by the Master, united in the mission? but yet so often we choose to look at the differences and let that divide us.

I end of this post with the song by Don Moen, which came to mind when I was typing this post. Wanted to play the song in the background of this post, but can't seem to do it.
I just want to be where You are,
dwelling daily in Your presence
I don't want to worship from afar,
draw me near to where You are

I just want to be where You are,
in Your dwelling place forever
Take me to the place where You are,
I just want to be with You

I want to be where You are,
dwelling in Your presence
Feasting at Your table,
surrounded by Your glory
In Your presence,
that's where I always want to be
I just want to be,
I just want to be with You

I just want to be where You are,
to enter boldly in Your presence
I don't want to worship from afar,
draw me near to where You are

Oh, my God,
You are my strength and my song
And when I'm in Your presence
Though I'm weak You're always strong

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Long Overdue

It's nearly 3 weeks since my last post, and like that one, the last ordination we are having this year was a really good weekend.

Basically it was our parish Sec 2 camp, from saturday to monday. I won't really talk about the camp itself, but must say that this bunch of sec 2s really surprise me. It has ignited a spark within them, a hunger to know Christ better. Quite a number of them have been coming for evening mass everyday. During the school holidays straight after the camp, the church has seen a huge number of youths coming for daily mass. Lionel came on his birthday and was shocked to see the back half rows of the church packed with youths. He jokingly asked "Today youth mass ah?" But yah that day we had the sec 2s, sec 3s, LOG, YV and some not so young MSC members.

But that was all during the school holidays, so I thought that once school starts sure dwindle...but for the past 2 weeks, everyday there are a good number of sec 2s. Gracemary and Rachel, my group members, said they will come every tues and fri, cos the other days they can't. Quite amazing.

We really need to look at ways to help these young ones, walk in their faith journey, grow in the love of Christ and of others. Cracking my head to think of something for them during the hols. Really brings alive the words from Matt 9:37-38, "The harvest is plenty, but the labourers are few." And I guess, the answer really lies in the second part. "Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers for His harvest". Praying for 2 specifically, but yah...need many more.

Live Like A Jesus FreakWas just talking to Dennis too about his Sec 1 & 2 camp. And how the youths not knowing about the Holy Spirit, and catechism being boring, teaching about the "modern church". The real question of youth ministry is how to inspire them about Jesus as a living, loving person.I saw one of the youths carrying this book "Live like a Jesus Freak". And just as I went to amazon to download the picture of the book, I found out that this book is a follow up of the first book "Jesus Freaks: DC Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs - Stories of Those Who Stood For Jesus, the Ultimate Jesus Freaks". We Were ThereThis reminds me of the talk that Jude gave on the first night of the camp. And I think for most of the youths, yah it really challenged them. Why were these people willing to die for their faith? Why did they do things that doesn't make sense? Were they crazy? Delusional? Freaks??? Then Jude showed me yesterday something he found on the web, a collection of stories that priests wrote of their experience during Sept 11 2001, some risking lives, going out of the way, beyond "human duty" to carry out their ministry. WHY???

One conclusion that I've come to is that we are in a different generation from our parents. Sociology has the terms Generation X and Generation Y to discribe the different "mentality" of the different generations. For me, in terms of the faith, our parents come from the Generation X, where the X was a BIG NO! The church says "No this", "No that", and our parents just followed. Whereas our current generation, the Generation WHY, is all about "Why not", "Why can't". This is not just about the faith, but we just question (or rebel) anything that wants to have authority over our lives.

So we do question, why should we follow? Why should we believe? And the answers of our parents sometimes do not suffice, cos some of them themselves don't know the answer. Not sure if I blog this before, but the answer is really in what our Holy Father Benedict said to the young people before he left for Germany. To discover the faith as not about the laws of the church, but of the person of Christ, just as the Magi searched for the Saviour.

Wah really long post... Must be the verbal diarrohea from not blogging so often. Wanted to post another one, but shall do that tomorrow.

Monday, August 29, 2005

3 youths I met this weekend

Looks like every time there's an ordination, my weekend is going to be quite packed. Like the last one with the tridentine mass and bro tony's visit, and the Kenny's one, will be in the middle of the Sec 2 Camp. This weekend was also packed from sat morning all the way to sun nite. I think i'll still keep my title as it is, although now I'll add in more than just about the youths.

Sat morning started out with a visit to the Servants of the Lord house in Seletar hills. Brother Andrew invited us to drop by to have a look, and for me it was a time to find out more about what they are doing. The have 3 houses in singapore, one which provides daycare for old folks, another for abused women, and another for abused men. Shall not write too much about it, you can check it out in the website, and if you are interested to find out or help out in their ministry, you can contact them, or tell me, and I can arrange for you. But I came out in wonder of God's spirit working in the lives of people offering their lives in His service.

Then in the afternoon, I went to St Ignatius Church to help with a recollection for the post-confirmation group. And of all things, I was asked to do a testimony on the challenges of a disciple of God and how I deal with it. I must say that it wasn't easy... I rather do a teaching session then a testimony. And as I started writing my testimony, it started out out almost like a teaching session. I started listing the points that I wanted to get across, examples, scripture references. I could have given a 20 min talk, but then I only had 5 mins. I also realised that it was more a teaching than a testimony.

So I spent much time summarising it, trying to make it more a sharing of my life than teaching. But one thing I know about myself, is that I find it hard to prepare a talk by writing exactly what I want to say. Like the last time when I gave a testimony for vocation sunday. I don't like to just read what I write, although I try to write as if I was speaking naturally. But something I realised on sat, was that the writing down of my thoughts even though I don't use it when I speak, helps me to reflect, to identify my points and the flow, and forces me to go through the delivery. So its necessary, and I shouldn't get so uptight about it.

Anyway yup that's something I discovered about myself, but I also met 2 youths there which surprised me. Cos we had this praying session, where the youths were supposed to re-commit themselves to God as His disciples. The first guy I went to to pray with, after I asked him if he would like me to pray with him, immediately starts off his pray, asking God, for guidance, strength, etc.... I was like, wow... this guy is serious about being a disciple, his humilty in his prayer and self surrender.

So ok, the first guy was those quiet kind, so maybe quite prayful already so maybe the prayer was usual for him. Then I went to the next guy, this one altar server, quite "action" kind. I thought maybe tough nut, so I asked him if I can pray with him and asked him what he wants to pray for. He tells me, and when he finishes, he turns to me and asks me what I want to pray for, which totally caught me off guard. This supposed to be me praying for him, and here he is wanting to pray for me. So we ended up praying for each other. Both showed me signs of discipleship, one in his humilty the other in his generousity.

After that it was to Val's place for her 21st birthday party. A time just to relax, played a bit of card mahjong, not as fun as the real thing.

Sunday I woke up late. Excuse : Tired out from saturday's non-stop activity. Reach mass just at the Gospel. Then after that was the session with the sec 2 class. At the same time, the sec 3s were having their get together after confirmation. That caught my attention when I heard some voices saying "If anyone would like to join us ..." So I went over to see who was recruiting. And a few of the newly confirmed were standing in front of the class and suggesting starting a new group.

But the one youth who struck me this weekend was Mel's sister, I was asking her what they planning to do, and she said, "you guys set age limit, we can't join you", so I told her, "why you want to join us, we so much older, than like those people in NUS share about the struggles in uni, you all won't understand. Even I feel out of place" Her reply utterly shocked me. "We don't talk about school, we talk about God then all the same mah."

So that's it 3 youths, all surprising me with their words all in this weekend. Much for me to reflect on.

And to sum up my weekend, I went for the sacerdotal ordination of then Deacon Christopher Lee. A bit overdose, 4 in such a short space of time. But if these last 2 have given me stuff to think off, I look forward to next weekend. Who knows what else is in store.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Revelation - Looking Back

This post was supposed to have been posted last week after the tues sharing. But I guess its quite fitting for today also.

Last week's sharing was from Eph 1:15-23. For me, the verse that struck me was

"that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that with the eyes of your hearts enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you"
Because as in previous post, I was reflecting on God's revelation to me. And as stated in this passage, He reveals Himself slowly bit by bit as we come to know Him. Also I was reading this book "Joshua" (not the one in the old testament) which I hope to blog about in more detail in future. In it there's a story of a doctor, that can't believe that a boy he certified dead, came back to life, and he thinks its a miracle. But then Joshua comes and says he doesn't believe in miracles.
"A little thing like that stands out in your mind because you miss the much greater mysteries that take place continually every day. What happened the other day surprises you because it was unexpected. Look in the mirror when you go to your room tonight and you will see an evolution of wonders far more exciting than the healing of a broken bone and the revival of the spark of life. The whole course of each day is filled with endless wonder, which we take for granted because it all flows so smoothly as the ordinary course of life. But each tiny event, and each moment of time, is a miracle of creation."
All this brings to mind a quote by St Augustine on the miracle of Christ changing water into wine at the wedding in Cana.
We take for granted the slow miracle whereby water in the irrigation of a vineyard becomes wine. It is only when Christ turns water into wine, in a quick motion, as it were, that we stand amazed.
St. Augustine
And thus that's my reflection the past week, as I look back at the past year of my journey which I first questioned why I had to wait, and I am amazed at the small things that I've taken for granted, but on hindsight have helped me to grow, and to realise "the hope to which He has called me".

But then I just read this from the Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional on looking back. And so it's also a reminder, that as good as it is to look back at one's life, to see the milestones, we can't be caught up with sentimentalism and be stuck there. We have to also look forward to the future and also in the present, and try to be more aware of what God is revealing to us today.
But if we go back to try and recreate the past and hold onto it as long as possible, this is not productive. We never will be able to go back to an earlier time. Plows don’t plow backwards. They only dig ahead into open fields. So do God’s purposes for us.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Never put Christ in the center of your plan of action

Shocking title for this post. And I must say I'm amazed at this revelation.
To put you at ease, its not that I've decided to move away from Christ, on contrary its got very much to do with my discernment. The words in the title are just a part of a longer quote, so go figure what can you add to make it right.

It all started out at a small meeting with an old friend, updating on whats happening in our lives. So this guy is my age, and active in church. So comes the question of plans for the future, and whether he is discerning his vocation.

Anyway to cut a long story short, he's basically putting off discerning till a later time when he is more prepared. So the question of "Where is Christ in all this?" was put to him, and he answered with "In everything I do, I put Christ first, I pray before I do anything." Wah super model answer, stamp, chop, and send straight to sainthood.

And I don't find anything nothing wrong with the statement above, and its really the most basic that we should try. In fact I just realised that maybe I should say a short prayer so that my posts would be inspired.....ok done. ;Þ

But as we were talking on the topic of discernment and vocation, I realised that the statement was not the best approach. As I've learnt in Thomas Green's book "Weeds among the Wheat" on discerment, one of the fundamental things of discernment is "desire to do God's will". And as I was thinking of the statement my friend made, somehow felt that the 'I' came first, before Christ. As in I decide what I want to do, and I ask Christ to come and bless my work.

And just at that moment it dawned on me, that discernment was the other way round, to put the Christ before the I. So instead of "putting Christ into my work", it should be "putting myself into Christ's work". But of course I didn't say it out to my friend, as it might sound quite judgemental, especially as I don't really know him that well.

Then as I was sending another friend home, I shared with him what came to me during the discussion. And he asks me where I heard that from, cos he's heard that before from Fr Edmund Chong. And he shows me the message he keeps in his phone. So like I said, its a revelation for me, and I praise God for it. I shall end of this post with Fr Chong's quote as it's much nicer than mine ;Þ

"In all that you do,
never put Christ in the centre
of your plan of action.
Instead, put yourself in the centre
of Christ's plan of action.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Eventful Weekend - Part 2


Bro. Tony Clark was in town, on a stopover during transit, on the way back from Rome to Melbourne. Bro. Tony is a Marist brother, and he was attached to our chaplaincy to look after the Australian Catholics in the uni. But that didn't stop us from getting to know him, and for him to do sessions for us.

Bro Tony Clark, Adrian and Me

Anyway, it was really nice meeting up with him, he's a really holy guy, very approachable, somehow know that he plays some part in my own call, but can't place a finger on it. It could be the chats I had with him, or working with him on the camp and sessions. But I think most probably its the way he is, and the way he carries out his own ministry that is quite inspiring.

So yup was a good pick up from the "solemn" mood of friday. We went to Sim Lim to get a mp3 player for him. Tried my Jedi mind tricks on the sales girl, to get her to lower the price. Almost managed to get through her weak mind, but then she called her boss, who's got a stronger mind. But still quite a good bargain. And then spent the rest of the time, chatting and updating each other on our lives.


In the morning, Youth Vineyard did the confirmation prep session, and must say they were quite good. The p&w, was good, especially for justin and amanda who i've never seen lead before. And they were quite creative in their activity and skit.

Then in the evening, went for the ordinations of Damien De Wind and Valerian Cheong. Was really grand, the choir was really good, although some of the servers wore the surplice which brought back to mind friday. And the server with the thurible was so enthusiastic in swinging, that it burst into flames, just after the consecration. This uncle standing next to me, was wondering why I was laughing to myself during the Eucharistic prayer.

Met Jimmy and Irene there, and also Sean and Lucy. So nice to see people filled with joy and holiness. Especially evident from the newly ordained priests. So you readers, gotta keep them in your prayers.

That sums up my weekend. Tomorrow's a holiday, quite packed also, so see what God has planned.

Eventful Weekend - Part 1

The last 3 days was rather interesting.


In the eveing I went to Holy Cross church, to attend my first ever (and I hope last ever)Tridentine mass. If I were only to say anything good that I felt, is that I thank God that Vatican II took place, and the mass is what it is today.
I shall just list some things to get them off my chest.
  1. The priest's vestments really make him look like emperor palpatine from starwars.

  2. Doesn't help in that imagery when he speaks like he's from another planet.

  3. I know which choir to get to sing at my funeral to give it a solemn mood. (They stretched the 'o' syllable in one word so long that it took two breaths to get over it)

  4. On second thought, I hope my funeral would be a celebration of me going to heaven, not mourning the lost of my soul to hell.

  5. The setting of the mass, seemed like the priest was celebrating it privately, and we were just spectators.

  6. Not only because its in latin, but because most of the mass is said silently by him, with minimal responses by the congregation.

  7. The priest either speaks latin really fast(which defeats the purpose of the mass being solemn and sacred), or he skips some of the parts in the book.

  8. I think he just speaks latin fast, because when he gave us communion, he supposed to say "Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen." But he sounded like Harry Potter speaking parseltongue, cos he managed to say the whole thing in 1 second.

  9. I really couldn't see the grandeur that this mass suppose to bring. Maybe because the choir wasn't used to the style of singing, maybe because the congregation didn't know when to stand/kneel/sit, maybe because I treated it as part of the Vatican Art Museum package : Something old, to remember our history.
Well looks like too much on that one event, will write about the other 2 days in the next post.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Stocktake : Cluttered

Just did a stocktake of my life. And must say, doesn't look too good.
And it took a manifestation of my old dark side to realise how far i've gone.
Yesterday I went to do holy hour, after a really long time, so long that I can't even remember how long its been since I last went. Then I thought about the other stuff that I've slackened in.

  • Not gone for holy hour.
  • Not done my nightly reflections of the next day's readings.
  • Can't even remembered the last time I read my books.
  • Not even read the bible.
And I wasn't even aware of it all. Maybe because I was still going for daily mass, doing my DO, that's why I thought everything is still ok.

But things just happened, and cluttered up my time. The various sagas that has been happening, the meetings, the suppers, divine mercy triduum, blogging... Really need to stop, and take a look at whats going on. Yesterday and today, were my first free nights in a long while. And the next 3 days are going to busy again. Even this post, I sat down at my comp wanting to type it, but got distracted by emails, chats, other blogs...

Ok enough about the clutter in my life. I give myself 5 mins to be sorry for my sorry state, and then move on. Now an update of my life. I'm moving to a new tuition centre in the Marine Parade Town Council building. Sound like really far right, but its right in Serangoon Central. Yah trust our govt to put Serangoon under Marine Parade GRC. Click on the map to see the election boundaries.
Election Boundaries

Anyway, there's a cheap bubble tea shop there, and so close to home. So yah quite happy. Also I've been listening to some podcasts by this cool dutch priest while at work. For those who don't know, podcasts are mp3 files that can be downloaded into your ipod or mp3 player, and you can listen to it wherever you go. Podcasts can also be subscribed to, so that you get updated with the latests ones.

So this priests does his own "talkshow" on various topics, like on the Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter, his infatuation with Star Wars. And he also has stuff like Catholic Trivia, and sound-seeing tours of the vatican, Amsterdam. I'm listening to his past shows, and reached the time when Pope John Paul II passed away, and he actually was in Vatican at that time. So would be interesting to hear what was happening there.

Catholic InsiderYou can find his site at
or subscribe to the feed at

Now to find if there will be any podcasts from World Youth Day. ;Þ

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Tues night's sharing was taken from Mt 20:1-28 : The Labourers in the Vineyard.

My first thought was, yah its natural what... You work longer, you supposed to get more rewards. Where is the justice in paying all the same? Of cos I will complain. So what message was Jesus really trying to get across.

I looked at the few verses before this chapter and found this. Firstly, this parable was only addressed to the twelve. And secondly I think its really linked to Mt 19:27-30. Because there, the disciples were asking Jesus, what they would get, from leaving everything and following Him. And Jesus said that they will "sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel". They must have been quite happy about themselves, and that's how it led to James and John asking for the left and right seats.

Thats why Jesus follows that with this parable, and I feel He was trying to tell them, don't get so big-headed, and proud, just becos you were the first to follow me. All who follow me will get the same reward. Equality is the word that comes to mind. And we can't understand it from the worldly point of view of rewards. Where those who do more get more. Here the reward Jesus is talking about is eternal life, the fullnessof joy that we will have in heaven with Him. He already promises the full, complete joy. The disciples hoped to be "more full" than the rest. Br Michael Broughton used a scriptural example to explain this at the last Lumen Gentium. He said imagine the cup, and its filled to the full and overflowing, you can't add anymore to it.

And I think that Jesus was trying to address another worldly thinking that we have. That of the teacher and the disciple. Humanly, the teacher would not teach the disciple everything that he knows, for fear that the disciple will one day overtake the teacher. Like my father will teach his students only 9 of his 10 secret 'P' strategies. But Jesus is telling us, especially in His Great Commission : "Go make disciples... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." He's saying raise up equals, what's there to fear that they overtake you in holiness. Teach them all you know about me. If everyone kept a small part of the message to themselves as they passed it on, what little we would have now.

Actually have one more part here about teaching, but gotta go off...maybe blog it tonite.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tuesdays with Morrie

Yes I watched the show. Even though I missed it 2 weeks ago and last nite on hallmark. We watched it for session today. After watching 5 people you meet in heaven, I knew that it would be good. But its quite an amazing show. And knowing how a movie can never do justice to the book, will probably look at buying the book sometime soon.

Was thinking of putting some quotes in this post, but really there are too many. But must say, that watching it really reminded me of Fr Fossion. This humourous old man, waiting for the Good Lord to take him home. He spouting his words of wisdom everytime we visit him. And imagine the surprise I had, when I looked at my palm for this week's events, and I saw that Fr Fossion's Anniversary falls on Tuesday. Maybe will have a Tuesday with Fossion lesson.

The other thing is that Tuesdays with Morrie also has many lessons to teach for me for my future ministry. That fatherly figure, who puts much emphasis in relationships, in teaching his experiences. His openess, approachability also links with the polish priest who I blogged about that did the Divine Mercy triduum. Some of us met up with him yesterday, and he was really warm and friendly. In the conversations that we had, although we kept asking him questions about poland, he seemed more concerned about our lives, and getting to know us. Maybe because there are no chinese and indians in poland ;Þ

But yup, quite eventful and thought provoking 2 days. Had a long meeting but like Morrie said, he spends some time in "self-pity" on some mornings and then he looks forward to the joy the new day will bring him. Cheers!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

John Paul II Generation

Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for August 2005

General Intercession:
That World Youth Day may inspire or re-awaken in young people the desire to meet Christ and find in him the guide of their own lives.

Mission Intention:
That the priests, religious men and women, seminarians and laity from Mission countries who are completing their formation, may find their stay in the “Eternal City” a time of spiritual enrichment.
Anyway now about the title of this post : "John Paul II Generation"
I was just reading an interview in Zenit of the author of the book titled "The John Paul II Generation" which is on the effect the Polish Pope has had on the youth who were born during his papacy.
John Paul II was Pope for more than 26 years, the period of a generation. Therefore, all youths born since 1978 have been formed with his teachings. This is the John Paul II "Generation."

These are the young people of Pope Karol Wojtyla, who followed him to the end and to whom he himself dedicated his farewell phrase: "I have looked for you. Now you have come to see me, and I thank you."

This "John Paul II Generation" has a fundamental characteristic: It is the generation of young people who think in an affirmative way. It is the "yes" generation. "Yes" to life, understood as vocation and therefore as gift of God.

"Yes" to commitment, consequent to this vocation. "Yes" to Jesus Christ, that is, to the one who calls. "Yes" also to the Church, through the call. In sum, it is precisely that "yes" that John Paul II preached in the course of his pontificate, living them and witnessing them himself to the end.
How lucky I am to be part of this generation. Born the same year as he started his great mission.

And definitely one of the most important facet of this great man, is his passion for the youth. And not surprisingly this World Youth Day, is a continuation of the legacy that he leaves behind. So let us keep Pope Benedict's prayer intention for this month in our hearts, as the many youths travel and gather in Cologne, to share and celebrate their identity as the future of the Church. May they be touched and transformed to become Christians strong in faith, and passionate about the message of Christ. To say that "Yes" to Christ, and "Yes to following Him.

Divine Mercy Triduum

Ok last one before I go to sleep.
On wed and thurs nite, I went for the divine mercy triduum at CTK. It was preached by a polish priest, from the hometown of St Faustina. I can't remember how to spell his name, but will find out later today.

Anyway, he had many interesting stories in his sermon. Just want to record it down for future use, and share with my readers if there are any ;Þ

Bus Driver
There was a bus driver, driving his bus full of passengers into town, when he realised that his brakes were not working, thus not able stop the speeding bus. He saw a parking lot ahead, and decided to turn into it, as it was on a slope, and that would slow the bus down. Normally the parking lot would be deserted, but as he turned in, he saw a child playing there. Without brakes he only had to choices, to knock the child or swerve and kill the people on board the bus. (a bit drama..but tat's not the pt) So the bus driver kept his course and knocked the child over. When the bus came to a halt, the passengers asked him, "why did you knock down the child?" He answered, "I had no choice, the brakes were out, it was either he die, or you die." Then a passenger said, "you should at least have sounded your horn". The bus driver in tears replied, "it would have been of no use. The child is deaf." "How do you know?", They asked. "Cos he's my son."
I heard this story before, but can't seem to find it on the net. But yah, basically describes the father's love for us. Sounds like the other story about the family who had to give up their son to produce a cure for a plague.
Bend Down
When John Paul II was still a cardinal and the archbishop of Kraków, there was an occasion where a boy was reading a poem to him. But because of the noise generated by the crowd. Cardinal Karol had difficulty hearing the poem. So he asked the boy to read it again, because he couldn't hear it. And the boy told him "Bend down, so that you can hear".
The point the priest was bringing across here, is for us to listen to the voice of God amidst the noise of the world around us, we have to 'bend down', to humble ourselves, to put ourselves in a better position to hear God speaking to us.
Good Luck, Bad Luck
There were two polish neighbours, one day the horse of one man escaped, the neighbour said, "oh wat bad luck". The owner of the horse replied, "bad luck? maybe good luck." A few days later, the horse returned, the neighbour said, "oh wat good luck". The owner replied, "good luck? maybe bad luck". The next day, the owner's son was riding the horse when he fell and broke his leg. "Oh what bad luck." The neighbour said. "bad luck? maybe good luck." was the owner's reply. Subsequently the son was supposed to be called up to do national service, but because of his injury, he was exempted. "oh wat good luck" the neighbour commented. The father said "good luck? maybe bad luck".
This story can go on forever, but the point is, that bad things may be blessings in disguise, and good things may not be that good after all. God has a purpose for things to happen in our lives. He can bring good out of our misfortunes, even when we can't see it. We have to trust in him.

Ok... no more stories. But some interesting points he brought up.
Disciples in the Upper Room
The gospel he used on thurs, was on doubting Thomas. And father, suggested that we imagine that the upper room with the 11 disciples in it is actually our heart. In each of us, we have the doubts of Thomas, the weaknesses of Peter, the rashness of James.
Building up trust in God
One of the ways that father suggested for us to build up our trust in God, is to connect ourselves with others who also trust in God. He mentioned that the early christians had a practice, that they were to meet a fellow christian everyday. So that we can be motivated and inspired to trust in God more. We can also read the lives of saints to see how they led their lives. At that time, I remembered one of the few chinese proverbs that I know by heart.

Jin Zhu Zhe Chi, Jin Mo Zhe Hei.
"He who stays near Vermillion gets stained red:
He who stays near ink gets stained black."
Meaning : One takes on the colour of ones company.
My chinese not bad ah...can quote proverbs all. Anyway that's about all I can remember. Time to go to sleep. So I shall end of with some polish words :
Jesu Ufam Tobie
Jesus I Trust In You

Moses' Radiant Face

Wednesday's first reading Ex 34:29-35 talks about how Moses, after speaking with the Lord, came down the mountain and his face was radiant, and the rest of the Israelites saw it.

It reminds me of what I always think of when I read the passage of the visitation Lk 1:39-45. Mary carried in her womb, Jesus, and Elizabeth was able to recognise that just on seeing Mary. That's the transforming power of God, same with Moses, to be able to give people that peace and joy that just radiates out of the person.

Which reminds me of what Sr Theresa Ryan once shared with us. She said that even when she wasn't wearing the habit, sometimes strangers would know that she is a nun. And then don't know who was telling me, that for the canossian sisters, it is part of the spirituality or their rules to be joyful. No wonder so many of them are gila.

People always say that a pregnant woman has this 'glow'. And that's probably because of the life that she carries within her. But we guys only hope of glowing is to carry Christ in our hearts ;Þ

Parable of the Pearl

Delayed long enough. Had 3 posts in mind, but never got round to posting it. Hope it doesn't take too long.
Tues night's sharing was taken from Mt 27:45-56
And its been quite a few days, so hope I can remember what I shared. Don't know why I didn't record it in my palm.

The first thing that struck me, was the song we sang at the beginning : So You Would Come. Because on mon nite, I met a friend, who was telling me what Fr Luke preached on sunday. He asked the congregation to close their eyes, and think of the most holy, God-pleasing thing that they had done. After which he said, "God didn't love you any more because of that". Then he asked them to think of the most hideous, sinful thing that they had done. And "God didn't love you any less because of that". And immediately I thought of the lyrics of this song.

"Nothing you can do, could make Him love you more,
and nothing that you've done could make Him close the door.
Because of His great love, He gave His only Son
Everything was done so you would come"
And yes, thats the concept so hard to grasp. So often we want to gain God's love by trying to be holy, when actually it's because of His love that we want to be holy.

Then Fr Luke also talked about the parable of the pearl. Explaining how a pearl is formed. It starts out as an ugly piece of dirt. But by embedding itself in the oyster, it slowly gets coated, over and over again with nacre until it becomes a beautiful shiny pearl. And that is how we can also be if we allow ourselves to be transformed by Christ, by allowing ourselves to be coated by His love.

The last part of my sharing is using Fr Cantalamessa's sharing on the passage
"On the other hand, the parable does not say that "a man sold everything he had and began to look for a hidden treasure." We know how these stories end: One loses what one has and finds no treasure. These are stories of illusions, of visionaries.

In this story, a man found a treasure, and because he found it he sold everything he had to acquire it. One must first find the treasure to have the strength and joy to sell everything."
So look for the treasure. And once you find it. Do everything you can to own it.

Then someone in the group shared about the contrast between Jesus' death (light turning into darkness)
"From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon."
and his birth (darkness turning into light)
"And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Role of Parents - Ss Joachim and Anne

Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of Ss Joachim and Anne, parents of the blessed Virgin Mary. And something struck me in the course of my day which was linked to the first reading.

The first reading was taken from Sirach 44:1,10-15. What struck me was this

"Here is a list of generous men whoes good works have not been forgotten. In their descendents there remains a rich inheritance born of them. Their descendants stand by the covenants and, thanks to them, so do their children's children."
Sir 44:10-12
Father in his sermon preached about how parents hand down their faith to their children. And rightly so, as it is stated in the reading. It is a rich inheritance that they receive from their parents. And "thanks to them" they pass it on. Just like Ss Joachim and Anne, raised Mary up to be a holy girl, such that she was in the right disposition to respond to God's calling to be the Mother of God.

Now the sad thing is, todays parents may not be passing the faith on. Because of the fact that they themselves may not have it in the first place. Why I say this? Today in the tuition centre, my mum told me about this student. (She likes to inform me of the Catholic ones, just like my dad likes to tell others that I know Fr Brian, Luke and Mike, when others say they are from those parishes)

Anyway, she told me that this student said she couldn't come on saturdays because of catechism. That's the good part. So my mum asked when does she go for mass, and the girl replied, she seldom goes, because her parents don't bring her. And I told my mum, yah this happens in almost every parish. Parents drop kids for catechism, parents go for mass, after mass pick up kids from catechism and go home.

How is the child ever going to receive a rich inheritance from their parents? It reminds me of the term Fr Ignatius Huan always uses. Second-hand faith. And as it passes down, it becomes third, fourth, fifth-hand. The value keeps dropping. And that person becomes like what Fr Cantalamessa preached
"the man or woman who had the precious pearl and did not realize its value"
Thankfully by God's wonderful grace, there is hope for some, who search for the truth, or encounter "angels" who guide them back to the treasure. But sadly most will fall away.

So much to be done, but who and how? Sad!!!
May all parents follow the example of Ss Joachim and Anne, and help their children to grow in faith and love for God. Amen.

Zenit Snippets

After formatting and reinstalling my comp 3 times, it is back and fully alive.
Also had to finish my article for In Communion on Catholic Blogs.
And when I finally opened my gmail acct, I saw a whole flood of emails, especially the daily ones from zenit, purposed driven life and shorelines.

So here's just a snippet of the interesting ones.
1) Vatican Radio -
Vatican Radio's website allows you to download the programs they broadcast in mp3 and real audio formats. From reflections on the Gospels, to news, to faith issues. And it is daily, you can download it into ur mp3 player and listen where u go.

2) Catholic Insider -
This one is really a podcast, maintained by a Dutch priest, he takes excerpts from vatican radio, adds in his own comments. And for Harry Potter fans, he has quite a bit on the book.

3) Fr Cantalamessa - Sermon on Parable of the treasure and pearl
Very good sermon, talks about the other party who owned the field and the oyster, but didn't realise its value. Also about how we give up all after we found the treasure.

That's about all I manage to clear... See if anything else interesting pops up. And of course got to start reflecting on my own. And share some personal stuff.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Raising of Lazarus

Yesterday's Tuesday night sharing was from John 11:1-44. The story of Jesus raising Lazarus.

But this post is not a spiritual sharing, just put here to explain why I haven't been blogging. My comp decided to "die" on me... and so for the last few days I've been trying to resurrect it. Before that I was having reservist training the whole week.

So yah, I'm still around. Been meaning to add a post on leadership inspired over my ICT, but will do that once my comp is back to full functionality.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Poverty & Making a Difference

Over the last few days, the poverty in the world has kept ringing in my head. Mainly because the G8 meeting in Scotland, where they would be discussing about the situation in Africa. Thus the Pope has appealed to them to help ease the scourge of poverty. And while this is going on, here in Singapore, we are organising the IOC convention to decide which country will get to host the 2012 olympics.

This is something really hard to reconcile... On one side of the world, people are discussing how to reduce poverty in the world. And on this side, the same countries are spending huge amounts to kiss ass just for the right to host the olympics. If you know me, I've got nothing againsts sports, but I think the Olympics has lost its Spirit.

Talking about the Spirit, the last 2 days I've gone for the "Spirit Filled Church" Rally by Fr Jack Soulsby @ St Mary of the Angels(SMOTA). I'll keep my comments of what I think of the church for another post. But anyway, the rally was "different". Fr Jack's style is more like a motivational speaker that you find in those kind of seminars.

Although I found it hard to concentrate on what he was really trying to get across, one thing did catch my attention. When he talked about the ripple effect, how when we act in the Spirit, the people's whose lives we change, will also go on to change more lives. And then I came home and read Gerry's post on "Making a Difference". And oh yah linked with Tues night's sharing, where I really wondered what is my part in helping the poverty situation.

And then yesterday provided me an insight, of maybe bigger things to come. ;Þ Marie sent me an email from Chiang Rai, saying that Sister, just got a donation of a lot of jam. But the thing is, they have rice there, but no bread to eat it with. And would cost a bit to purchase. So she asked if I can get some donations. I then sent out an email to some people in church. And was shocked by the quick and generous replies. Praise God, for the blessings that he has bestowed on us, and for giving us a heart of love, to know that we are supposed to share His blessings.

Ok gotta go now and pack my stuff. Going for a short holiday in melacca, I pray that I keep the world's poverty in mind, and not spend excessively.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Pope's prayer intentions & Holiness

Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for July 2005

General Intercession:
That Christians be sensitive to the needs of every one, without ever hiding the radical requirements of the Gospel message.

Mission Intention:
That all the baptized be committed, each in their own state of life, to transforming society by permeating the mentality and structures of the world with the light of the Gospel.
Somehow this is quite in line with last night's Lumen Gentium session on Holiness. Baptism, commitment, state of life... In fact I just realise that we can add the tag "Holiness is" before both the intentions and it would be true.

I don't know why there's so much to write about on Holiness. I originally titled this post as Pope's prayer intentions & Lumen Gentium. But I read something in Zenit, and I don't know what made me turn around and pick up the envelope that a St Gab's teacher passed to me on Opus Dei, and there I also read something on holiness. Funny how He works.
"A problem arises when Christianity fails to propose the truth from within what it lives, accepting on the contrary the description made of it from outside."
This is the comment that I read in Zenit, and I guess it relates to what I wrote about in yesterday's post. When the world starts to dictate faith, rather than the other way around. How often I have heard the statement "I don't understand why the Church is making it so difficult to practice the faith.", with regards to things like homosexuality, abortion, pre-marital sex, contraception, euthanasia... And the quote above just sums up my feeling when I read the "Catholic Spain okays gay unions article". I really felt like saying to the spanish "catholics" please do yourself and the church a favour. If you are not living trying to live the faith, don't burden yourself with its rules, and also don't give the Catholic faith a bad name. I know it sounds judgemental, and I'm no saint myself. But we have gotta be striving to be perfect as Christ is perfect.

Some people find the faith the Church teaches too challenging, while some others think that the Church isn't challenging its people enough... The church isn't for wimps. As I was reflecting on the feast of St Peter, I was comparing him and Judas. Both betrayed Jesus, but one was a coward and took his life. The other accepted his weakness and became a pillar of the Church.

Which brings me to the Opus Dei article, or actually it's an article written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on St Josemaría Escrivá after his canonization. I will just give some extracts from it, but you can read the whole article here. It's quite a good read especially about what Holiness is, and how to live it in our lives. other words, being holy is nothing other than speaking with God as a friend speaks to a friend. That is holiness...

...Truly we are all able, we are all called to open ourselves to this friendship with God, not to let go of God's hands, not to give up, turning and returning to the Lord, speaking to him as to a friend, knowing well that the Lord really is the true friend of everyone, even of those who cannot do great things on their own...
For those who have read this far, congrats or actually thanks for reading. I doubt I would have made it this far, if it wasn't my own blog. Just want to end off with a personal thought. Cos Kenny affirmed me for blogging so much, and he said "when u think alot shows u pray alot n also reflects your life as pure n holy", makes me really wonder. Cos blogging really takes time. Like this article is already taking 1hr 20mins...given that I was reading other stuff for inspiration... but still takes time from doing other things. Like reading... I've stopped reading the Lumen Gentium document... The book "Reaching for the Invisible God" which I started reading on 18 May, and I'm only on page 125 1/3 the way thru, tat's like 3 pages a day. And praying... I've could have done 1 .5 holy hours. But of cos most of the time when I write my blog is late at nite when I can't go to the ador.. but yah maybe should pray more. But not that blogging isn't good. Aiyah...wat to do...

Friday, July 01, 2005

Queer Spain & It's Nominal Catholics

That's the headlines that announces this sad news in Today newspaper. And "HUH?" is the reaction I got from Adrian, who's at my place checking email as I'm typing this, when he saw the headline. Only when I said, it's Spain that has given it the OK, not the Catholic church, then he was a bit more relieved.

But then again, it really calls to question what the headline really implies. Spain is a country where 90+% of the population is supposedly Catholic. And when the papers put a statement like "Public opinion polls suggest that the majority of Spaniards, who describe themselves as Catholic, are in favour of gay marriages."what does that mean.

Our Holy Father, has spoken out against this current culture that Europe is moving or has adopted even before he became Pope. In his latest book, which was just launched, one of the statements was
"Europe has developed a culture that, in a manner unknown by humanity until now, excludes God from the public conscience,"
There was another article in Zenit, but I can't seem to find it, which the Pope talks about religious freedom, but that Europe has move towards freedom from religion. And in a sense I think Singapore might also be moving in that direction.

Which was why I put "Nominal Catholics" in the title. The website that I found the statistic on the Catholic population of Spain, stated that the population was 90+% nominal Catholic. And the meaning of Nominal is "Existing in name only". Or as Colin Ong says, hereditary religion. No wonder they can pass such laws.

So the question for us in Singpore, is are we nominal Catholics. Are we going to wait for this issue to come up before we do something about it? Or are we even convinced that it's something to take a stand on? It may not affect us, but we can't just care about things that affect our lives. It's so easy to be reactive, but by that time it will be too late. This issue is going to keep knocking on our doors. Spain is the fourth, France looks like it's going to follow suit. We are already starting to be more "open" about it.

To end off, to those who didn't study in australia...the reason why I used the word queer in the title, is because in australian unis, they have queer clubs. Or maybe just melbourne uni... But these queer clubs are for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex,..." I still don't understand why they would choose a word like queer to identify with. Maybe cos the whole concept is as queer to me as it is to them. I wonder if they are happy being gay?

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Paradox of Discipleship

The gospel is full of paradoxes.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. Matthew 11:29

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:25

He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach Mark 3:14
It was the last one that caught my attention today, when I was reading the homily of Pope Benedict on yesterday's Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul to "be with Him" and yet also "sent forth to preach". Both contradictory actions, but yet both necessary of discipleship.

We have to be with Him, to centre our lives around Him. But not to the extent of "Me and my sweet Jesus". We still have to bear fruit, if not we will be the branch that is cut off from the vine. Similarly we cannot go and preach, and not be with Him. If not who is it that we are preaching? Where would we draw our strength to continue?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Feast Days and Anniversaries

St.PeterSt.PaulToday is the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul.
Which makes it my feast day. What a great saint to be named after. Both pillars of the church. One for the Jews and one for the gentiles. One who denied and reconciled, the other persecuted then promoted the faith.

And from the second reading comes these inspiring words.

"I have fought the good fight to the end;
I have run the race to the finish;
I have kept the faith;"
2Tim 4:7
Sheer arrogance if I were to say those words of my life now. But truely he had led a life worthy to say those words. For me, I just hope to live my life, striving toward this high standard.

And two priests celebrate their sacerdotal anniversary. Today is Fr Aloysius Ong's 2nd anniversary, and tomorrow is our dear Fr John Sim's 21 years of serving the Lord in his church. May they both continue to grow in His love and be loving shepherds to God's people for many more years ahead. Till they too finish the race.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

What if only ONE can be found?

I was reading a post of Gerry's blog, about Abraham pleading with God, for the sake of the innocent people in Sodom. And it really struck me.

What if Abraham had continued to bargain with God? But as I read through the passage again, I found it funny that it said

"The LORD departed as soon as he had finished speaking with Abraham, and Abraham returned home." Gen 18:33
It was as if God didn't want to give Abraham any more chance to bargain down.

On a more serious note, I was reflecting...on this whole notion of ONE, "What if only ONE can be found?" Gerry wrote that if it was only for ME, ONE person, Jesus would still have pleaded, and God would not have destroyed.

But for me, that ONE person wouldn't be ME, I will be part of those in sodom, and I can just see Jesus, pleading with the Father, "What if only ONE can be found?" And the Father answered, "I will not destroy it", and the Christ answers, "I am the ONE."

devilAnd this image comes to mind, the one from "The Passion of the Christ", where the devil comes out to tempt Jesus in the Garden of Gethsamane. I can't remember the exact words, and I can't find my Pasion VCD to check. But it was something like "the weight of the sin of the world is too much for ONE man to bear." And that is for me the best revelation that I've got out of that passage linking the old & new testaments. Better than the one of Isaac carrying the wood up the mountain for the sacrifice, better than Moses with his arms outstretched during battle.

Dunno why today seem to have a lot of images in mind. The last one, is inspired by a verse in one of the new testament letters. Through one man's disobedience we have death, but through another's obedience we have salvation. And I'm just thinking of the judgement day... and the only ONE person fit enough to go to heaven is Christ. And I better be clinging on to Him at that time, if not I won't be going up with Him.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

You go into the vineyard too

Saw this in the latest Shorelines newsletter on the call to work in the Lord's vineyard.

"And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and to them he said, 'You go into the vineyard too'" (Matthew 20:3-4).

From that distant day the call of the Lord Jesus "You go into my vineyard too" never fails to resound in the course of history: it is addressed to every person who comes into this world.

You go too. The call is a concern not only of Pastors, clergy, and men and women religious. The call is addressed to everyone: lay people as well are personally called by the Lord, from whom they receive a mission on behalf of the Church and the world. Each person should take into account what he does and consider if he is laboring in the vineyard of the Lord
It was referencing the Apostalic Exhortation by Pope John Paul II on the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World. Was attracted to the beginning part about the parable and our call, but when I saw the length of it...didn't bother to read on. Some other time maybe.

The other thing is, today I went to CTK for mass, and since I was alone and I've not been to CTK for quite a while, when it came to the time for the Our Father. I found myself apprehensive. "To hold or not to hold hands???" All this talk about holding builds unity, should not hold as unity should come at the sign of peace, and much more. Both sides have their points, and I was reflecting....can we please be united, make a decision and just stick to it. It's more distracting and dis-united now, then it ever was before. Nobody seems to be following the "neither discourage nor encourage" decision anyway.

But anyway... it's not the most important thing. Shouldn't be thinking about it too much. Especially when there's a youth sub-comm meeting to prepare for.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Still on the topic of gifts, don't know why it keeps popping out everywhere. First when at evening mass at IHM, I heard the last line of the second reading

how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many.
And Yes, Jesus Christ is really God's greatest gift to us all. Everything else we have pales in comparison with our Lord and Saviour. And then I read the "Dear Padre" column in the bulletin. This guy preferred to give than to receive, and the question was "Is it more blessed to give?"

The Padre's answer was that receiving gifts is sometimes harder than giving. Sometimes we feel unworthy or paiseh to receive. Not so much because of the gift, but the love behind the gift. And that is one of the reasons we find it so hard to accept God's gifts to us, because we don't see ourselves worthy of His love. We can't believe that the Father will forgive us, that Christ could die for us, and that He trusts us to carry on His mission empowered by Holy Spirit.

I remember Celine mentioning something she learnt about receiving... It requires humility. And in addition, we need to receive the gifts with gratitude. Gratitude that acknowledges the love that is behind the gift and treasures it with respect. Which is why I found this Calvin and Hobbes strip in Friday's New Paper particularly apt.
"When you have something you take it for granted and its boring." That's so forget and take for granted the gifts. That's why we have to really be grateful for the wonderful gifts that our amazing Lord gives us.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Love the giver more than the gift

Yesterday at the end of Youth Fest 2005, after the mass, Bro Michael Broughton came on the stage to give a talk. But he delivered it in a very unique way... Almost like Baz Luhrmann's Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen), with very short sentances, but to the point.

But one thing which struck me, was when he mentioned the giver and the gift. I can't remember what exactly it was that he said, cos my mind went into overdrive cos it linked so much with the previous post.

So I came home and searched for quotes about the giver and gifts, and found two.

Love the giver more than the gift.

Brigham Young
The challenge here is to look at things as gifts. And of course with faith then we believe that there is a giver. And wow! as I'm typing this, I'm thinking that it links with the LISS testimony given by Alan Wee at today at the 9am mass. At first he talked about the healing of his knee, but then he totally dismissed that the healing wasn't important. It was his realisation of his lack of faith. His reliance on self that he had overlooked the giver of gifts. The discovery of God in his life.

It's so easy to get caught up with the gifts. Because its always there, tangible. It's like lets say I have a Godfather, who sends me a laptop for my birthday, I could really get caught up with it. And if he wasn't there at my birthday party, I might even forget to thank him for it. And most likely, over time, I would take for granted that it still IS a gift, not WAS.
For the gift without the giver is bare.

James Russell Lowell
In my cupboard, I still see two gifts, the hawaiian shirt that evelyn and gerald gave me for my 21st birthday, and a polo-T that the community gave me for my birthday. And upstairs in my box there are lots of stuff that I keep for sentimental reasons. Now the thing is to look at what God the giver has given me. The challenge to recognise the many gifts that He has given. To be humble enough to realise that EVERYTHING is a gift. Even to realise that is a gift of the Spirit - Wonder and Awe.

3 recent examples come to mind about gifts that we can get so caught up with that we forget the giver.
MONEY/WEALTH - This one is particularly hard to see as a gift, because it either comes from our parents or through our own hard earned work. And thus so easy to place it as our number one priority as it offers the "power" to be in control of our lives, to give comfort, things which the giver freely gives, not through our own efforts. (Last Tues Sharing)
PRESTIGE/SUCCESS - To be recognised, to be famous, to be successful, all appeal to our ego. Using the example of the triathlete twins, they have got the gifts to excel in sports, hopefully they keep the giver in mind.
MUSICAL TALENT - This a bit linked to the previous point, but I'm just bringing it up cos I heard our choir practising Christmas songs. In June!!! Yup they have the gifts, and yup they should use those gifts. But it's so easy to hide behind that gift and forget about developing the relationship with the giver.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Where your treasure is...

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
This verse has appeared twice this week. First at our Tues nite sharing passage from Luk 12:34 and again in today's gospel from Mat 6:21

It didn't strike me on tuesday but today, mainly because of an article that I read in the today's TODAY Newspaper. It was in the sports section and caught my eye because of the headline :
If you read the article, you would see how it ties in with the treasure and heart part.

These two 13-year old twin boys, who are so gifted in their athleticism, were called up by the Triathlon Association of Singapore (TAS) to join their junior training scheme. But the only day they can train for the cycling part is on sunday which clashes with their church service. Steady lah... finally someone or sometwos willing to put God first. (Had to be protestant. We Catholics have sat sunset mass)

But the most annoying thing in the article was the comment made by the TAS honorary secretary, Mr Stephen Lee.
"That's the problem we have in this country, It's disheartening when athletes can't sacrifice for their sport."
I've got so much to say about that comment that I don't know where to start. Maybe "It's heartening when christians don't sacrifice their faith." Kudos to the parents of Araunah and Ornan Wei and to the boys. They obviously know where their treasure is and where their hearts are.
Piece of Trivia
Araunah and Ornan are two different names given to the same person in the old testament. The same passage appears in 2Sam & 1Chr, but with the different names. Wow to the parents for knowing this and naming their twins so significantly
Now if only the bishop or a priest would say :
"That's the problem we have in this Church, It's disheartening when Catholics can't sacrifice for their faith/soul."
We Catholics are so good at this, put other things first and try to find God in it. I don't think its mere coincidence that Christ follows up to end Matt Chpt 6 with
"Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well.
Mat 6:33
Like Fr William Goh I think once preached, whatever you put as your first priority becomes your god. It becomes your master. And so I pray that I may always strive towards making God my Number One priorty.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Trust & Being Trusted

Tues Nite Sharing - Lk 12:16-34

One of my favourite quotes is from this passage.

Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?
The theme of the last 2 Tues Nite Sharings were on Faith, and it was what I was reading in "Reaching For The Invisible God". And I just realised, it's been nearly a month since I started reading that book, and I'm not even one quarter through it. But I guess it's good ;Þ, cos this tues sharing was on trust, and just so happen, the theme in the book also moved from faith to trust.
A faithful person sees life from the perspective of trust, not fear.
Philip Yancy
And he goes on to talk about faith being trust in a loving God. If we thank Him for the blessings He gives us, we should also trust Him that He will guard us during times of trials. After all He is sovereign (A term we never hear for quite a while) And we can draw a parallel of this trust that we should have of God, with the trust we have in a good friend. If we trust that a friend is reliable, and he doesn't show up at a certain time, that trust would tell us, that there has to be a good reason.

This was really put to the test over the weekend, while we were at confirmation retreat, we got news that Desmond Tham passed away. Shocking because he's only 29 and just married a year and a half. Here's a young guy who exercises regularly, compared with Fr Fossion who smokes, drinks, eats cheese & butter every morning. I was at a loss for words to say to Andrina. How do we see God in that? The only explanation or consolation I have is to trust God. As is said in the first reading of the funeral mass.
"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace."
Trust was also mentioned on sunday, at the closing mass of the Confirmation Retreat. But this time the sermon by Friar Michael D'Cruz was not about us trusting God, but that God trusts us too. Christ has entrusted us with His mission here on earth. He used the comparison of a mother "trusting" her child to go to the market alone, on an errand. Although not too sure if that's relevant to this generation. Maybe that's why most of them weren't paying attention.
Faith sees even the darkest deed of all history, the death of God's Son, as a necessary prelude to the brightest.
Philip Yancy