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?