Monday, May 30, 2005

The Cup and the Bread of Life

Wah two posts in one day. Because I get the content from Zenit. Just want to share, and keep for myself, this sermon by Father Cantalamessa on the Many Dimensions of Communion. Father Cantalamessa is the preacher of the Pontifical Household, and his sermons are quite good.

John (6:51-58)

The Cup and the Bread of Life

The feast of Corpus Domini assumes an altogether special significance in the Year of the Eucharist. One of the fruits that Pope John Paul II (it is still difficult to believe that he is not among us) expected from this year was "to revive Eucharistic wonder in Christians," namely, wonder before the "divine enormity" (Paul Claudel) that is the Eucharist.

In the second reading of today's feast, St. Paul writes: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" The Eucharist is therefore fundamentally a mystery of communion. We know different types of communion.

One, very intimate, is that between us and the food we eat, because it becomes flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood. I have heard mothers say to their children, when they hug them in their arms and kiss them: "I love you so much that I could eat you!" It is true that food is not a living and intelligent person with whom we can exchange thoughts and affection, but let us suppose for a moment that the food is the living and intelligent one himself, would we not then finally have the perfect communion?

This is precisely what happens in Eucharistic communion. In the Gospel passage Jesus says: "I am the living bread, which came down from heaven. ... My flesh is real food. ... He who eats my flesh has eternal life." Here, food is not a thing, but a living person. We have the most profound, though also the most mysterious, of communions.

Let us look at what happens in nature in the realm of nutrition. It is the strongest vital principle which assimilates the less strong. It is the vegetable that assimilates the mineral, the animal that assimilates the vegetable. This law is also verified in the relations between man and Christ. It is Christ who assimilates us to himself; we are transformed into him, not he into us. A famous atheist materialist said: "Man is what he eats." Unwittingly, he gave the best definition of the Eucharist. Thanks to it, man truly becomes what he eats, namely, the body of Christ!

After St. Paul's initial text we then read: "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." It is clear that in this second case the word "body" no longer indicates the body of Christ born of Mary, but "all of us," it indicates that greater body of Christ which is the Church. This means that Eucharistic communion is always also communion among ourselves. All of us eating from the one food, form only one body.

What is the consequence? That we cannot have true communion with Christ if we are divided among ourselves, if we hate one another, and are not disposed to reconcile with each other. "If you have offended a brother," St. Augustine said, "if you have committed an injustice against him, and then you go to receive Communion as though nothing had happened, perhaps full of fervor, you are like someone who sees a friend arrive whom he has not seen for a long time. He runs to meet him, throws his arms around his neck, and stands on tiptoe to kiss his forehead. ... But, while doing this, he does not realize he is stepping on his friend's feet with shoes of nails. Our brothers, in fact, especially the most poor and abandoned, are Christ's members, they are his feet still resting on earth."

When giving us the host, the priest says: "The body of Christ," and we respond: "Amen!" Now we know to whom we say "Amen" -- that is, "Yes, I receive you" -- not just Jesus, the Son of God, but also the one who is next to us.

Crises of Faith and Morality

I just read an article on Zenit about a book published on the theological thoughts of the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

And one key concept mentioned was that "faith in Jesus Christ has different moments". And as I have been reading up on faith recently, I guess it's quite relevant to me at this moment.

"in the first place, faith in Jesus Christ is a gift"
I can relate to that part. Faith isn't something that we can earn, or get through our own efforts. As I have learnt on my own journey. Not sure if I have put my own "conversion" story in this blog yet. Must go and find, if not must put it in.
"in the second place, that gift helps us to stay with Christ"
Quite obvious... or maybe I don't really grasp the full meaning of this statement yet.
"in the third place, it becomes the way of understanding reality"
"Cardinal Ratzinger very much emphasizes knowledge of the faith which helps us to understand God, ourselves and the world; it is different from scientific knowledge." This is something that I am becoming more convinced of. Especially of late. It's only through faith that we can comprehend what God has planned for us. And only through faith, that we can see how these moral values all makes sense. Like taking sex for example(cos we had this discussion recently) given current society, other than our faith, what else is stopping us from having casual sex. Contraceptives, the media, all make it ok. But only when we look at the fruits of it, then we realise that God's way is indeed wise. But we have tried to seperate our faith from our morals. Faith becomes just believing that God exists, and that He is our saviour. But as the next point shows. It is more than that.
"in the fourth place, faith implies a free response"
here is where Cardinal Ratzinger specifies the Christian way of life, the following of Christ; and a way of advancing on that path is the morality he proposes.
The present Benedict XVI bases the following of Christ on what he calls the ethics of faith. For him, Christian morality must be founded on faith in Christ which stems from an encounter with him, not only as a personal experience but also as a reality full of meaning.
And this is the hardest part about our faith in Christ. To respond, freely and fully. To allow Him to transform us. And like we celebrated in yesterday's Corpus Christi liturgy, to become one with the Body that we receive. Hmm...maybe that is the meaning of the second point.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

7kg Overweight

We met Fr Ignatius Yeo or Fr Iggy at Bishop Yong's 80th birthday celebration on thurs. And we asked him why he wasn't eating, and he said he just went for medical checkup and found out that he was 7kg overweight. Looking at Fr Iggy who would ever think that he is overweight.

So we were asking how he could be overweight. And he jokingly replied, "yah, because of this invisible cross that I'm carrying"

Anyway, I chanced upon this Flash Animation which someone once sent to me, about the crosses that we carry. Quite nice.

If you can't view it, you can download it at

Friday, May 20, 2005

Reaching for the Invisible God

I'm just started reading this book called Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey. Yes, he is a protestant writer, and yes, I bought the book because the cover was attractive. But the most important reason was because I bought this book in the Philippines last year, and I was really wanting to improve my relationship with a God that I can't see.

But I never got down to reading it, until now. I took nearly a year to finally finish Purpose Driven Life. Jialat, how to go and study next year.

Anyway, I suck at doing book reviews. So if you expect an objective or informative review of the book, go search or something.

Just to share what I've read and reflected so far, we are all physical beings living in material world. And we want God to communicate with us in ways that appeal to our senses.

"We yearn for visibility, hoping to bring the supernatural down to our level of materiality"(pg 29)
No wonder people are always on the look out for miracles. The image of Mary appearing on a piece of toast, Mother Teresa on a cinnamon bun, Jesus on a fence in brisbane. And people will flock just to SEE a sign.

It just brings to mind the song "Down in Adoration Falling" that we sing, and the line that goes
"Faith for all defects supplying, Where the feeble senses fail."
And indeed the 3rd chapter deals with Faith and Doubt.
I shall just end of with a quote. And continue to read the rest of the book.
"without somehow destroying me in the process,
how could God reveal Himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt?
if there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me."
Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Eating Alone & God's Crazy Dog

Not sure if people notice this about me, but something I realised of myself recently. I don't like to eat alone. Especially eating alone outside. If ever I was alone, I would tapow and bring back to office or home to eat.

Maybe because I'm too into the table of fellowship concept, where mealtime is also for fellowship. But anyway, so this evening, I was stuck with the situation, where I didn't have food at home, and didn't have anyone to have dinner with. So the thought came to mind again. Grab something, go home and eat in front of the TV.

But then remembering that I have this wierd behaviour, I asked myself why. Maybe because eating isn't enough of an activity for me to do alone. I have to either have people to talk to, TV to watch, newspaper to read, or in the poly canteen days, girls to look at.

And so I decided to take a book along to read while I ate. It was quite a wierd feeling at first, sitting there by myself, and I started to look around at others. There were many groups of people, but there were 2 guys sitting alone. I even started observing what they did.

But then I told myself to just read my book. And surprisingly it was quite an enjoyable time. Just relaxing, eating, reading, being by myself. So enjoyable, that as I was walking home in my bliss, I forgot that I had actually parked my van at Jalan Nira. And just as I walked past my van, this mad dog in the house started barking crazily. And as I turned back to look at it, I saw my van.

Without the dog, I would have just walked home happily and totally forgotten about my van. Praise God, for using the dog to get my attention.

Psalm 34

Tues Nite Sharing
Last night's passage was from Psalms 34

Vs 1 of the Psalm struck me, "I will bless the LORD at all times", or at least I that was something that was in my mind the whole day, given the realisation on monday.

How hard is it for us to keep God in mind all the time.
In the morning I had a conversation with a muslim friend of mine from poly, and he was telling me that he is not a practicing muslim. And some part of the conversation, the topic of "external religious" & "internal religious" We focus on the external rituals, symbols, efforts because they are the visible signs. But what is most important is what is inside.

So that was how it started my day, looking at what it means being internally religious. Then I read one of the Pope's speeches.

We have to be His(Jesus) true friends, to share His feelings, to want what He wants and not want what He does not want."
Pope Benedict XVI, in his speech to the clergy of Rome"
I read the readings for the day, and it all kept reminding me of the same theme.
"Commit your life to the LORD; trust Him and He will act" (Psa 37:5)
And that was the exact phrase that Fr Ho started his mass with. And that was what I was reflecting on during the whole mass. Commit your life...your whole life...not 1 sunday a week, not 1 hour a day or 1 rosary a day, or even like City Harvest's Pastor Kong said "Not 10% of your salary". Wah to do man.

And then Fr Ho's sermon brought up the first line of the first reading. "When you aspire to serve the LORD, prepare yourself for trials." (Sir 2:1) He kept emphasising the word "aspire" and "aspiring" which made me listen up. and I guess that is the message for me. To aspire to serve the Lord, in everything. "To want what He wants, and not want what He does not want". And its not going to be an easy road. For I'm sure the devil has picked me up on his radar.

So please pray for me lots. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


WWJD - What would Jesus Do?
That is the question that has been coming up over the weekend. WWJD when confronted with a moral dilemma, WWJD at a PPC meeting, WWJD about dvd piracy and even as I found out last nite in the CAYC toilet, WWJD in the toilet.

So when Gerry posed this scenario to me, and asked What Would You Do? Inside me, was hmm what would Jesus have done?

Gerry : There was this priest standing outside the church, waiting for mass to end. Then he saw these two boys walking out of church with one party scolding the other, kept on scolding the other. He walked up to both the boys and asked what was the matter. The former then told the other boy, "you tell Father, you tell Father what in the world did you do just now?" The second boy kept silence. The priest's curiousity was aroused and he asked what was the matter again. The first boy got real fed-up and told the priest "Just now we went up for communion, this friend of mine isnt catholic and I told him to go up with his arms across his chest and ask for blessings. I told him repeatedly." Then when we walked up, when he saw everyone stretching out his hands, he too followed likewise and do so. Aiyo, Father, my friend not catholic, how can he receive the Body of Christ??" The second boy still kept silent. The priest was pretty amused and before he could react, the second boy stretched out his arms, opened his hands and said "Here, take your God back." so what will you have done in this situation?

Terence : said "no he is your God too"

Gerry : and? what are you doing to do with the host that is still in his hand?

Terence : I would take it from him, and use it to explain to him....not why he cannot receive God. but explain to him a bit about the eucharist. and ask him...if he wants to find out more about this God that loves him

Gerry : i see i see, thank you for your answer :)

Terence : model answer....steady right.
hope can do it if it happens in real life ;-)
And my last statement really made me think. Given this kind of scenarios or questions, we have time to stop and think, what is the "Christianly correct" thing to do. To think WWJD then. But if it were to happen in real life, would I be able to think that on the spot? Or would it depend on my mood that day.

Sadly to say, the "WWJD fad" came and gone. It was a fad, because it was just a fashion statement, all the accessories. It became the In Thing. But like I was reflecting last nite in the ador. Unless I constanly seek to do Christ's work in my life, its going to need a lot of reminders like a WWJD wristband to remind me. I won't be able to say all the right stuff to the young boy who comes with the host in his hand.

And I think the last line from yesterday's Gospel puts it quite simply "This kind can only come out through prayer." (Mk 9:29)

Drop a comment and share What would you do in the situation of the priest.