Thursday, July 20, 2006

How To Start A Spiritual Journal

Someone asked me how I knew who visited my blog or what they searched to find my blog. And coupled with the fact that someone searched for "how to start a spiritual journal", and landed on my blog. I thought maybe I should have a post on what's available to for a beginner to start a spiritual blog.

Well first you get a blog. I recommend Easy to use and very used friendly. Just sign up, select a display template you like and you can begin blogging.

Blogger itself has a tool for you to insert images/photos into your posts. But I personally prefer A bit more complicated, but gives you more options.

If you want to know stats like how many people visited your blog, which country they come from, how they came to your blog, what browsers they use... I use the counter from You just sign up, copy the code generated and insert it into your blog template. It is quite interesting to see some of the stats. For example I will know when Fr Luke visits this blog, because he is the rare one who uses a Mac and Safari.

Talking about browsers, I've noticed more people coming to my blog using Mozilla Firefox. Good for you. For those still using Microsoft Internet Explorer, its time to change to a better more secure browser.

Another good tool, for reading blogs, is This is an online RSS aggregator, which means it will search your list of blogs for updated posts, and show them to you everytime you login. All you need to do is to add the RSS feeds of your favourite blogs to it, and you can check the updates macam like checking email. You can also put up Subscribe with Bloglines and RSS links on your blog so that people can easily add your blog to their RSS readers.

There are more stuff you can add to your blog, like changing the template, adding music, videos. Two things I'm thinking of, but haven't had the time to find out is adding categories and a tag board to my blog. Feel free to give me suggestions on how I can go about doing it. Thanks

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Where are my gold coins?

Went for OLPS Youth Mentors session last night. The sharing passage was the Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30).

The version that was read out was from the Good News Bible, and so instead of talents, the master gave out 5000/2000/1000 gold coins. And so when one guy shared that he sees the gold coins as the people we meet, it got me thinking. This was something new. We always looked at the parable as asking us what we are going to do with the gifts/talents that God has given us. Maybe its because most of the versions we read uses the word talents.

So lets say God has given me 5 friends filled with faith, do I just keep those friends for myself, or not even use them. Or do I use this group of people, to bring the faith to others, so that at the end of the day, I don't go back to God saying, here are the 5 friends you have given me. We went for mass together, prayed, I've kept them in the faith and we have kept your commandments. Then God says "You wicked, lazy servant!"

Unfair right. That's what one of the youths also remarked last night. I gave Him back all He gave me. I didn't lose a single one. How come God is still so harsh. I think it is really because of our understanding of being Christian. This reminds me of a previous post about the book "From Maintenance to Mission". Maybe we are just thinking of Maintenance, while God is looking at Mission. Maybe we are looking at how to keep members in the groups, Catholics in the faith, that we are falling short in terms of Mission.

Too often when I read this passage, I think of all the talents that God has given to me, and how I can use them to do His work. Maybe its time for me to see how I can use the people and resources He has sent me to also do His work. After all He does say that our faith is worth more than gold. How rich we are, when we look at all the "gold" around us.

On a slightly related note, someone once said that a priest affects the lives of 5000 people in his lifetime. Hmm...sounds like 5000 gold coins. Wah stress man, higher expectations.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Brownies

Found this interesting story in the S.A.L.T. blog. Hmm, gives me food for thought for the movies I watch.

Also reminds me of the wonderful (poop-free) brownies my sister makes which I have no doubt is part of the cause of my sore throat.

Two teenagers asked their father if they could go the theater to watch a movie that all their friends had seen. After reading some reviews about the movie on the internet, he denied their request.

"Aw dad, why not?" they complained. "It's rated PG-13, and we're both older than thirteen!"

Dad replied: "Because that movie contains nudity and portrays immorality, which is something that God hates, as being normal and acceptable behavior."

"But dad, those are just very small parts of the movie! That's what our friends who've seen it have told us. The movie is two hours long and those scenes are just a few minutes of the total film! It's based on a true story, and good triumphs over evil, and there are other redeeming themes like courage and self-sacrifice. Even the Christian movie review websites say that!"

"My answer is 'no,' and that is my final answer. You are welcome to stay home tonight, invite some of your friends over, and watch one of the good videos we have in our home collection. But you will not go and watch that film. End of discussion."

The two teenagers walked dejectedly into the family room and slumped down on the couch. As they sulked, they were surprised to hear the sounds of their father preparing something in the kitchen. They soon recognized the wonderful aroma of brownies baking in the oven, and one of the teenagers said to the other, "Dad must be feeling guilty, and now he's going to try to make it up to us with some fresh brownies. Maybe we can soften him with lots of praise when he brings them out to us and persuade him to let us go to that movie after all."The teens were not disappointed. Soon their father appeared with a plate of warm brownies which he offered to his kids. They each took one.

Then their father said, "Before you eat, I want to tell you something: I love you both so much." The teenagers smiled at each other with knowing glances. Dad was softening. "That is why I've made these brownies with the very best ingredients. I've made them from scratch. Most of the ingredients are even organic. The best organic flour. The best free-range eggs. The best organic sugar. Premium vanilla and chocolate." The brownies looked mouth-watering, and the teens began to become a little impatient with their dad's long speech. "But I want to be perfectly honest with you. There is one ingredient I added that is not usually found in brownies. I got that ingredient from our own back yard. But you needn't worry, because I only added the tiniest bit of that ingredient to your brownies. The amount of the portion is practically insignificant. So go ahead, take a bite and let me know what you think."

"Dad, would you mind telling us what that mystery ingredient is before we eat?"

"Why? The portion I added was so small. Just a teaspoonful. You won't even taste it."

"Come on, dad, just tell us what that ingredient is." "Don't worry! It is organic, just like the other ingredients." -"Dad!

"Well, OK, if you insist. That secret ingredient is poop.

Both teens instantly dropped their brownies back on the plate and began inspecting their fingers with horror. "DAD! Why did you do that? You've tortured us by making us smell those brownies cooking for the last half hour, and now you tell us that you added dog poop! We can't eat these brownies!"

"Why not? The amount of dog poop is very small compared to the rest of the ingredients. It won't hurt you. It's been cooked right along with the other ingredients. You won't even taste it. It has the same consistency as the brownies. Go ahead and eat!"

"No, Dad...NEVER!"

"And that is the same reason I won't allow you to go watch that movie. You won't tolerate a little dog poop in your brownies, so why should you tolerate a little immorality in your movies? We pray that God will not lead us unto temptation, so how can we in good conscience entertain ourselves with something that will imprint a sinful image in our minds that will lead us into temptation long after we first see it.

Why do we tolerate any sin? On the day of the Passover, the Israelites were commanded to remove every bit of leaven from their homes. Sin is like leaven - a little bit leavens the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6). And this is a good example of what a heresy is. It looks, tastes and sounds so real because it can be 99% true, just enough to grab our attention and distract us from the small percent that false/poison. And the small percent of poison ruins the whole concept/batch and leads us into sin. Satan is sly.
"Give Satan an inch & he'll be a ruler..."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

World Cup Fever

World Cup is over, but for me the fever is still on.
Have been down with the flu since the night of the finals.
Maybe cos neither brazil nor holland were in the finals.
But I think it's really the World Cup Fever, because my body seems to be on Germany time. I'm super tired in the day but now at night I can't seem to sleep.
What a way to be spending my holidays.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Why don't you want your son to join the seminary?

I was just looking through the stats of visitors to my blog, and I saw that someone searched Google for the term"I don't want my son to join the seminary". Sounds like a mother, and of all sites she comes to my blog. Hopefully it helped her change her mind, and support her son to join the seminary. Because if God has called him, living out his vocation would be what would make him truly happy, and for a parent I think that's all that they wish for their children.

But it got me intrigued to what other terms people searched for and came to my blog. And I found a few other interesting ones.

There were some others on spiritual journals, margaret halaska and the few song lyrics I put up. But lacking was any on vocation except for the above one "anti-vocation" one. Maybe should talk more on my vocation and vocations in general.

Friday, July 07, 2006

What went wrong in a relationship

Recently the parent-child relationship came up in my ministry. After that I found myself recalling an article I read that really turned the tables on the parent disciplining of the child.

Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K.Gandhi Institute for Non-violence, in his June 9 lecture at the University of Puerto Rico, shared the following story as an example of a "non-violent" approach to parenting.

"I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban, South Africa, in the middle of the sugar plantations. We were deep in the country and had no neighbors, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going to town to visit friends or go to the movies.

One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day in town, my father ask me to take care of several pending chores, such as getting the car serviced. When I dropped my father off that morning, he said, 'I will meet you here at 5:00 p.m., and we will go home together.'

After hurriedly completing my chores, I went straight to the nearest movie theatre. I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double-feature that I forgot the time. It was 5:30 before I remembered. By the time I ran to the garage and got the car and hurried to where my father was waiting for me, it was almost 6:00. He anxiously asked me, 'Why were you late?' I was so ashamed of telling him I was watching a John Wayne movie that I said, 'The car wasn't ready, so I had to wait,' not realizing that he had already called the garage.

When he caught me in the lie, he said: 'There's something wrong in the way I brought you up that didn't give you the confidence to tell me the truth. In order to figure out where I went wrong with you, I'm going to walk home and think about it.' So, dressed in his suit and dress shoes, he began to walk home in the dark on mostly unpaved, unlit roads for 18 miles. I couldn't leave him, so for five-and-a-half hours I drove behind him, watching my father go through this agony for a stupid lie that I uttered.

I decided then and there that I was never going to lie again. I often think about that episode and wonder, if he had punished me the way we punish our children, whether I would have learned a lesson at all. I don't think so. I would have suffered the punishment and gone on doing the same thing. But this single non-violent action was so powerful that it is still as if it happened yesterday. That is the power of non-violence."
What struck me was the father's statment "There's something wrong in the way I brought you up that didn't give you the confidence to tell me the truth." This was a parent who took his role of bringing up his child seriously. It was a questioning of the relationship more than the lie itself.

This got me thinking about how some parents bring up their children. Most of the time when we talk about how a child is brought up, its always about how they were disciplined. But the problem with that is the focus on the negative correction not the positive affirmation and inspiration.

And the reason why I mentioned in my previous post about this was the reaction towards that one article. Maybe if we look at ourselves for the reasons behind incidents first, instead of others, we might learn more. Same with the way we teach the faith to our young ones, the fault seems to be on them not being interested, on the society's pressure, but not at our own convictions, our own faith, our own methods. Definitely it will also apply to parents. The values that they unconsciously pass on to their children. The focus on results or money more on character and relationships.

Forgive the rant... was just quite peeved by the situation.

Waking Up Late For Mass

Haha, looks like I wasn't the only one who had alarm clock problems this morning. Fr Aloysius also woke up late for mass.

He forgot to turn on the button, as for me, my battery died. I woke up at 6.30 and realised that I was super late for morning mass at IHM which is at 6.15. I looked at my alarm clock and it showed 9.25. Stupid thing ran flat last night. More stupid me didn't notice it when I set the alarm last night. Unfortunately unlike Fr Aloysius, people don't wait for me to start the mass.

Anyway was supposed to go to IHM for mass because today is Fr Brian's and Fr Fred's Sacerdotal Anniversary. Fr Fred's 5th year as a priest and Fr Brian 4th Year. Fr Aloysius also celebrated his 3rd Anniversary last week. Happy Anniversary to all of you. May the Lord continue to bless you in your ministry, keep you healthy and happy.

Fr Aloysius also mentions the MICA/TODAY/Mr Brown Saga. Quite sad news actually. Mr Brown has been a really good source of entertainment over the years. I've been visiting his website since poly days, when it was a website not a blog. And like Kenneth said, when it was Singapore National Education which entertained us and kept us up to date on the happenings in Singapore, not podcasts.

Really interesting to see how all this blows up...I'm sure the spin doctors are going to have another busy time. Maybe this was part of the spin to handle the fallout of the elections. When will they learn. Hmm...This reminds me of another post that I wanted to put up. Shall get to it... My goodness I'm on a roll... Too much things wanting to blog about.

My Attorney

I got this in my email today. Almost thought that it was spam because of the subject and my friend was using an email I didn't know of.


After living what I felt was a "decent" life, my time on earth came to the end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a court house. The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defense table. As I looked around I saw the "prosecutor." He was a villainous looking gent who snarled as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen.

I sat down and looked to my left and there sat My Attorney, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed so familiar to me, I felt I knew Him. The corner door flew open and there appeared the Judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as He moved across the room I couldn't take my eyes off of Him. As He took His seat behind the bench, He said, "Let us begin."

The prosecutor rose and said, "My name is Satan and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell." He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole, and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed that I couldn't look at anyone, even my own Attorney, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about.

As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at My Attorney who sat there silently not offering any form of defense at all. I know I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life - couldn't that at least equal out part of the harm I'd done? Satan finished with a fury and said, "This man belongs in hell, he is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise."

When it was His turn, My Attorney first asked if He might approach the bench. The Judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan, and beckoned Him to come forward. As He got up and started walking, I was able to see Him in His full splendor and majesty. I realized why He seemed so familiar; this was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Savior. He stopped at the bench and softly said to the Judge, "Hi, Dad," and then He turned to address the court.

"Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned, I won't deny any of these allegations. And, yes, the wage of sin is death, and this man deserves to be punished." Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, "However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life and he has accepted Me as his Savior, so he is Mine." My Lord continued with, "His name is written in the book of life and no one can snatch him from Me. Satan still does not understand yet. This man is not to be given justice, but rather mercy."

As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at His Father and said, "There is nothing else that needs to be done. I've done it all." The Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down. The following words bellowed from His lips.."This man is free. The penalty for him has already been paid in full. Case dismissed." As my Lord led me away, I could hear Satan ranting and raving, "I won't give up, I will win the next one."

I asked Jesus as He gave me my instructions where to go next, "Have you ever lost a case?" Christ lovingly smiled and said, "Everyone that has come to Me and asked Me to represent them has received the same verdict as you,

~Paid In Full~
Stop telling God how big your storm is.
Instead, tell the storm how big your God is!

How Ironic

Yes I've not blogged for a really long time.
So long in fact that when I tried to log in to blogger, I forgot my password for a while. And so ironic also because I had more internet access in the parish than when I was in the seminary. Even more ironic that my last post was "Whatcha Thinking Of? - Nothing".

Not that I've not been thinking of anything. There's lots of things that have been happening, lots of things to think about, lots new experiences. In fact maybe it's because there were too many things to blog about that I just kept delaying. That's my bad habit, I always want to blog things in sequential order. I know I had quite an inspiration from the X-Men movie, which was during exam period. Hopefully I can get down to writing my thoughts on that. All the other posts were held up because I wanted to get that one out first.

During this last month, I was in OLPS parish for my pastoral attachment. The world cup was on. Watched less of it than when I was having exams in melbourne. Fr Luke has gone off to Rome to study. Scripture, with Greek and Hebrew... (Padre Luca, you are in our prayers)

So yup now that I'm back home, on holiday, will probably be flooding my blog with lots of stuff that I've been putting on hold in my mind, before I forget them.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Novena - Courage & Peer-Pressure

Below is my first homily I've ever given in church. Jovita lah, spoil market by doing novena last year when he was in the parish. When I first arrived at the parish, Fr Greg asked me to do it, and I told him that I don't really attend novena much less be able to lead it. Then after Fr Luke left, when we were at the weekly meeting, he asked me again to do it on my last weekend in the parish. That weekend, Fr Paul was preaching, Fr Greg had to do mandarin mass and bahasa indonesian mass. And I would have the opportunity to observe 2 novenas just to familiarize. So I accepted. Notified 2 weeks in advance, and stressed for those 2 weeks on what to say in the homily.

So just want to keep this in my blog, macam souvenior "My first homily".

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ. When Fr Greg asked me to lead today'’s Novena Devotion, my first reaction to him was, "“But Father, I don'’t know what to do."” You see I always was a Sunday Catholic, in church on Sundays, so I never attended Novenas on Saturdays. But Fr Greg said, "“Don'’t worry, it is quite easy, you just follow the book."” Sounds simple enough. Then I reached this part now, the homily, What am I supposed to talk about.

So I looked at this Sunday'’s readings for some inspiration, and I found the words that Jesus said to Jarius the Synagogue official "“Do not be afraid, just have faith"”. In this one sentence I found comfort and consolation, and I also found the theme for the homily. COURAGE!

I realized that in my preparation for this homily, I had many fears, and I really needed to ask the Lord for the gift of Courage. What was I afraid of?… That I might say the wrong thing, that I might do something wrong, that I might look stupid up here in front of so many people. Actually, the main thing is that I am worried of what all of you here might think of me.

It is just this worry of what others think of us that makes it so difficult to live our faith. The term that is used for youths is peer-pressure. Those of you who attended the Feast day novena last Tuesday, will remember the 2 skits put up by the youths from Revelation Generation (RG). The first skit was about 3 friends asking the a girl to lie to her parents to go out partying. The youths face peer-pressure to smoke, steal, drink, all just so that they fit in, so that others will think that they are cool. The second skit was about 3 friends talking about life after confirmation, how they can sleep late, go out on Sundays, and one of them stuck out like a sore thumb, saying how she doesn'’t find mass boring, and she can'’t wait to be confirmed to start serving in church. In that skit, we see how peer-pressure not makes people do bad things, but also how peer-pressure can make us not do good things, to lead mediocre Christian lives.

And although the two examples I used are from the youths because of the skits, peer-pressure also happens to adults. Although most adults wouldn'’t admit it. To them peer-pressure only applies to youths, who are not matured enough to make decisions for themselves. But adults are just as concerned about their image, about fitting in with their peers as much the youths. Why do you think the Plastic Surgery and Beauty Products industry is enjoying so much business. They worry about the cars they drive, the jobs they have, how well their child is doing in school.

In fact, it is only while preparing this homily that I realized that for myself. Take my joining the seminary, when I first told some of my friends, I faced quite a bit of being made fun off. Comments from "“Means cannot get married ah?"” to things like, "“So got chance to become Pope or not?"

Whether adults or youths, we all face peer-pressure from the people around us, because we are concerned about what others think of us. In the world it is not cool to be seen as holy. You ever noticed that when it comes to saying opening prayer, or leading in grace, we always are so shy to be the person to do it. In fact we are shy to even just be nice, that our Government has to encourage us to smile. When Fr Simon Pereira talked about it at the Feast Day Novena, he mentioned the word COURAGE. This got my attention, yes even to do a simple act like smiling to a stranger, takes courage. I did a small experiment, on myself, You see, when I am wearing this cassock, I feel like I have the license to be friendly to parishioners. I can smile and greet anyone, and they would respond, just because I'm a brother, or sometimes mistaken as a priest. But when I tried to do it without my cassock, I noticed two things. Firstly I was more uncomfortable smiling and greeting strangers. What would the person I was smiling to be thinking... "Why is this guy smiling at me?" And from the other side, people were also more reserved in their response to my greeting of "Good morning"

I also realised that little children smiled more easily than adults. (Just at this moment, a young girl walked past the sanctuary smiling - No she wasn't planted) So why are adults less friendly? Is it because we have been hurt in the past? the fear of rejection? suspicion of others? We have allowed our fears to stop us from loving, from reaching out, from responding to others.

My dear friends, we really do need to pray for courage. And we turn to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, for inspiration, for she too needed lots of courage to lead the life that was awaiting her when she said her "Yes". Remember that the words "do not be afraid" were also said to our Blessed Mother when the angel appeared to her. Today those same words come to each one of you. "Courage, do not be afraid". And as we continue with the benediction, let us humbly ask our Lord, in the Blessed Sacrament for that gift of courage, that we may face our fears, to love more and care more.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Whatcha Thinking Of? - Nothing

I remember one of Jerry Seinfeld's stand-up comedy acts, where he reveals to the women what men are really thinking about. NOTHING! In fact the Seinfeld series is known as the "Sitcom about Nothing".

Jerry : So we go into NBC, we tell them we got an idea for a show about 'Nothing'.
George : Exactly
Jerry : They say, 'what's your show about?' I say 'Nothing'
George : There you go.
Jerry : I think you may have something here.
In this last week, this has been something that has been coming again and again. It first started at one of the lessons, when the lecturer asked us about our prayer life. How we were praying, was it towards self or towards God. We were asked when we pray whether it was us talking/thinking. Going on to explain, we were told that even when we converse with God, abour things bothering us, or our questions or our thanksgiving, it is still focus on self. That got me wondering, because I'm so used to spending time with the Lord, thinking, offering my struggles, asking for enlightenment on various issues, asking for guidance. And then I was left hanging cos we went back to the actual subject for that period.

Then yesterday, we had the privilege of having Fr Laurence Freeman OSB, director of The World Community for Christian Meditation, give us a talk in the seminary about meditation. Meditation is the prayer of silence, the prayer of the heart. Meditation is the moving inwards, the mind going towards the heart. Sounds so much like what we were told during our retreat, but this time, giving us the actual method to.

The problem is the method. As Fr William Eckert says in his book "The Prayer of the Priest",
The discipline is simple but not easy

Simplicity is the essence, simplicity is the practice, simplicity is the mystery. They recommend doing this twice a day, 15-20 mins each time. Use a word like Maranatha, over and over again, just concentrate on saying the word, not thinking of the meaning of the word, not thinking of God, of Jesus. Basically not thinking of anything, or thinking of nothing.
  1. Choose a quiet place.
  2. Sit down comfortably, with your back straight.
  3. Close your eyes lightly.
  4. Sit as still as possible.
  5. Breathe normally, staying both relaxed and alert.
  6. Slowly and interiorly, begin to say your mantra or prayer word. Listen to the word as you say it.
  7. Continue repeating it gently and faithfully for the whole time of the meditation.
  8. Return to it as soon as you realize you have stopped saying it.
  9. Stay with the same word during the meditation and from day to day.
It is really not easy to just sit there and think of nothing. There are so many distractions, externally and internal thoughts. At today's rosary, I realised that even during the rosary, where we always talk about meditating on the mysteries, but my thoughts just keep running here and there, while reciting the prayers. Maybe that's the bad thing about our multi-tasking society these days.

One of the brothers asked a very good question. "If we are keeping silent, how are we to know what God is saying to us?" Fr Laurence's answer was that meditation isn't the one and only type of prayer, but it enriches lives and with it all our other times of prayer. In this meditation we just focus on being in the presence of the Lord that is within us. To pay attention. So we still do all our other devotions, scripture readings, mental prayer, intercessions... But to take time off daily, to really be still and silent with our Lord.

Somehow at the end of this whole time, all these separate events keep building on each other; the Thomas Green books, the annual retreat, the meditation talk. To empty ourselves more, and move towards God more, to let Him take control, like the example of Thomas Green - to float. I know it's not going to be easy, we tried it before, with Fr Fred in his office once, and found it so hard to think of nothing, to let go of all the distractions. I must go and finally take that book on "Centering Prayer" off the bookshelf and see if it is the same as this meditation method. Ok, I think I shall go to the prayer room to try.

Just a wierd thought, maybe when the desert fathers first discovered this form of meditation, the conversation might have been something like this
Desert Father 1 : So when we talk to the community, we tell them we got an idea for meditation on 'Nothing'.
Desert Father 2 : Exactly
Desert Father 1 : They say, 'what's your meditation about?' I say 'Nothing'
Desert Father 2 : There you go.
Desert Father 1 : I think you may have something here.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Be An Organ Donor

Got this quote from Melt and Reenie's adventure blog.

Be an organ donor
Give your heart to JESUS.
Wah it's been 2 weeks since the last post. It's been a really eventful week. Lots of things to blog about, but no time. There's the coming vocation recollection this weekend, and exams are next week.

So can only do short posts like this quote, cos not my own thoughts so don't need to stress on how to word it out properly.

Hope there's no exam for latin... ;Þ

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

*UPDATE - Something wrong with the website for my mp3 files. Updated the links. Should be ok now.*

Last night, I had a really unique dream. The fact that I even remember it so vividly after waking up shows the impact it has made on me. I was at a camp and I remember having certain things going wrong, not really having the best of days. And I walked into the session room, and I see a boy playing with my mp3 player. And then I just lashed out, "Why you touch my things without persmission... Mother never teach you manners ah..."

The scary part was that I know that I am capable of that. I know that in that spur of the moment, under stress or some bad circumstance, I could/would react that way. And it was scary also because the boy was a small primary school boy. Funny thing was that I was dreaming that after the scolding, I walked away and was reflecting on my reaction. I never dream of myself reflecting before, macam like I was seeing how my thought processes worked.

I woke up and just spent the whole morning thinking over the dream. And I think I know what caused it. On sat afternoon, after voting, I went to Raffles City for lunch before going to the Cathedral for the Eucharistic Adoration for Vocations. When I went to toilet to change to my clerical shirt (uniform for seminarians), I overheard this man in the next cubicle scolding his son. "Why you do that, so big already still don't know how to do properly. You know its so shameful...." When I came out, I saw that the boy had peed on his shorts. But he was just a small boy like maybe 3 yrs old, couldn't even talk to answer his father. And I was just feeling so sorry for the boy. The father was just concerned about the inconvenience it was causing him, calling the wife to tell her what her son just did.

Anyway back to my dream, after scolding the boy, I walked out and reflected, and realised that I was super wrong in my reaction. But before I could apologise, I woke up... And although I know it was just a dream, but then I felt so guilty. Because I know that the situation is so real, I know it has happened before in my life, and I think that it might happen in the future. And in the future, the impact would be even greater. With the apology even harder to say, even harder for me to be aware without justifying my own actions. Really have to pray, that God's grace will transform me. To help me not react in that manner, to be aware of my actions when I do, and to have the humility to apologise and reconcile when it happens.

Actually this whole post was inspired by Mr Brown's Persistently Non-Political Podcast No. 4, where he uses the lyrics of the song "Sorry seems to be the hardest word". I don't think he knew how prophetic he could be, especially in the following podcasts, with the famous quotes from the now infamous Bak Chor Mee and Tur Kwa episode

"Sorry not enough, you must explain why. (mp3)"
"Explain why, you say you tell me you don't want tur kwa (pig liver) when you didn't say you don't want tur kwa? (mp3)"
"Sorry also must explain (mp3)"
The Persistently Non-Political Podcasts provided me with much entertainment and laughs these last few days. Even yesterday, when we went for dinner, I had Bak Chor Mee, and I recalled how a friend of mine previously had some problems with the Bak Chor Mee man over pig liver. Not wanting a repeat of the event, he had Nasi Lemak instead.

While on the topic of the Persistently Non-Political Podcast, go and listen to No. 3 about the Greek gods. Luckily our God doesn't work that way.
"But if you don't support us, and give us your sacrifices, your area might have less rain next year. I mean I try to do my best, but I've got to give priority to the guys among you that are willing to support us whole-heartedly, so the rains will go to those who support us"

Selling Our Soul to God

Got this from CowPi's Blog. And I think it's a really wonderful way of explaining what I mentioned some posts ago about losing God to find God. Here God is inviting us, to release ownership of our lives, to sell it to him. Come to think of it, we always talk about people selling their souls to the Devil, how come never thought about selling our soul to God. I guess it really stems from our fear of losing ourselves in that process. But as in the poem, we can't understand how by selling it, we are actually gaining more, and not be kicked out of the house. Wah the more reflect on this poem... the more it strikes me. So many reflection points, God's desire for us, His patience, His promises, our fears and attachments, our slow journey of releasing ourselves, God wanting us to trust Him...

"Covenant" by Sr. Margaret Halaska
The Father knocks at my door, seeking a home for his son:

Rent is cheap, I say.

I don’t want to rent.
I want to buy, says God.

I’m not sure I want to sell,
but you might come in to look around.

I think I will, says God.

I might let you have a room or two.

I like it, says God. I’ll take the two.
You might decide to give me more some day.
I can wait, says God.

I’d like to give you more,
but it’s a bit difficult.
I need some space for me.

I know, says God, but I’ll wait.
I like what I see.

Hm, maybe I can let you have another room.
I really don’t need that much.

Thanks, says God, I’ll take it.
I like what I see.

I’d like to give you the whole house,
but I’m not sure—

Think on it, says God.
I wouldn’t put you out.
Your house would be mine and my son would live in it.
You’d have more space than you’d ever had before.

I don’t understand at all.

I know, says God, but I can’t tell you about that.
You’ll have to discover it for yourself.
That can only happen if you let him have the whole house.

A bit risky, I say.

Yes, says God, but try me.

I’m not sure—
I’ll let you know.

I can wait, says God.
I like what I see.

— Sr. Margaret Halaska

Friday, May 05, 2006

Energizer Bunny - Going on and on...

"You should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds" - Eph 4:22-23

"Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus" - Phil 3:13-14
Energizer BunnyAt yesterday's Holy Hour, while I was reflecting on these 2 passages, somehow I thought of the Energizer Bunny Advertisement, where the Bunny powered by Energizer batteries goes on and on and on... And I was just thinking of how wonderful that promise of Christ to give us that living water that we will not thirst again, bread that we will not hunger. For us when we allow the Spirit to work within us, to change and transform us, we too would be able to go on and on...

So I was quite surprised to see that today's Gospel was just about that, Christ giving us His Body and Blood.
""Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him." - Jn 6:53-54,56
The wonderful gift that our Lord Jesus Christ gave us, His own Body and Blood, that we may receive Him in such a physical and tangible way. Moreover today's challenge for me is to give thanks to Him during mass, to be aware that when I eat His Body and drink His Blood, I have His promise of eternal life. Not my former way of life, but as in the Eph quote above, I may be renewed in the spirit of my mind. That I can go on and on, straining forward to the prize of God's calling, because I am being nourished and energized by His Body, Blood and Spirit.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Darkness & Light, Imprisoned & Free

In today's reading and Gospel, I realised a similarity of the duality of darkness and light, imprisonment and freedom. The Sadducees did not like the apostles going around telling the truth, and tried to control it by having them imprisoned. But God sent His angel to set them free, and we see them teaching early the next morning, in the light of day, in contrast to the darkness of the night in prison.

One thing for me in this retreat, is to look back at the darknesses in my life. Things which I may have been unaware of, or intentionally hidden or pushed aside. To bring to my awareness the broken areas of my life, even things that I might have intellectually justified but have truly distanced myself away from God.

The next thing after the awareness, would be to surrender all these brokeness and sins to the Lord, to set me free from the imprisonment. To acknowledge that the Lord has the power to set me free from our entrapments and that He wants to free me, and to embrace His light. As I shared previously, it is a scary experience, and I think the Gospel verse describes it very well.

"For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. - Jn 3:20"
Sometimes God has already opened the prison door, but it is we ourselves who rather stay in the dark prison. Its like how after watching 2 hours of movie in the cinema, and then coming out to the bright sunlight really hurts our eyes. The thing is that we have to trust God, that He does what is best for us, and if we have to go through that pain, to burn away all our impurities, so that we can be transformed by Him, that is where faith comes in. Faith in the good times, more so in the bad times, and to see the goodness that comes out from the bad times.

My last reflection was whether I can accept that God is setting others free from their prisons. Do I still go to those prisons to look for them, do I still see them as prisoners. So often my prejudices, my first impressions, my images of what others are, prevent me from seeing the light in them, or even worst still, I might prevent them from growing, from being set free. So abstract yet so real. If I am a butterfly, and when I see a caterpillar, and I tell it, you are just a worm, I have forgotten that I was once that "worm", but through metamorphosis, or the Christian term Metanoia, I have transformed. And I must remember what the angel of the Lord told the apostles when they were set free:
"Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life." - Acts 5:20

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Joke - Confession

Now for some light-hearted religious humour ;Þ

Penitent : "Bless me Father for I have sinned, I had dirty thoughts."
Confessor : "Did you entertain the dirty thoughts?"
Penitent : "No Father, the dirty thoughts entertained me."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Retreat - The Dark Night

Retreat has started, and it has certainly been fruitful. Especially since it is continuing along the same line as what I've been sharing in my last few posts - the doubts that I had been having. One thing that I realise I forgot to blog about was the cause of my current state. After reading the book When The Well Runs Dry, I started to question myself.

  • Which stage of my prayer life am I in?
  • Is my dryness in prayer due to slackness?
  • Or is God testing me?
  • Or is He trying to teach me that consolation is not by my own effort?
  • Must I really go through the dark night?
  • Is it the only way?
  • Do I really love God that much?
  • Do I really desire to grow closer to Him?
  • Can't I just keep drawing water from the well?
  • Like I shared previously of the period of time where I doubted God's existence, did not feel His presence in my life. It was not a feeling that I would want to go through again. And now to tell me that it is waiting for me again, and even worst this time. The first analogy that came to mind was a girl telling the boyfriend, I think we need some time apart, so that our love can deepen. It doesn't make sense. But after thinking about it, that's a bad analogy, because the dark night makes sense in terms of purifying our love and relationship with God, and deepening our faith, but that doesn't make it easier or something to be desired.

    So this retreat looks like its going to be good, because in the first talk, our retreat master covered topics like the dark night, our human concept of God and His love differing from Jesus' understanding. How we have to lose God to find God. In one example, he used the story of Nicodemus, how he could not understand what Jesus was saying about being born again of the Spirit. And then we have the example of our Mother Mary, when the angel appeared to her, telling her that she was to conceive, she replied, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?". But after that through faith in God, she believed and accepted, and through the Holy Spirit, God was made flesh.

    The reason why I say the retreat has been fruitful, is because it is almost spot on with what I'm struggling with. And the retreat master in his sharing of his own life experience, has kinda motivated me to press on, to trust that the Lord will lead me to the dark night, to purify me.
    These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name. - Jn 20:31
    Finally, the above verse struck me, the last line from Sunday's Gospel. And this is the purpose for this blog, so that when I do go through that dark night, I hope that I can look back and draw strength from it, and persevere on this lifetime journey.

    When The Well Runs Dry

    This was supposed to be with the next post, but it became too long, so decided to seperate it.

    when the well runs dryI recently finished the book When The Well Runs Dry by Thomas Green. It is the follow up of the previous Thomas Green book I posted about - Opening to God. This book is about prayer beyond the beginning. In that post I quoted his example of the father and the baby, and how it is frustrating to crawl again after being carried. Well this book goes on to provide a "map" to what can be expected as a pray-er's prayer life grows.

    The first part of the book uses an example from St Teresa of Avila's writings, about us being the gardener watering the garden. The water we use symbolises the joy of our prayer, and the flowers are the virtues in our lives. In the beginning, we draw water from the well with a simple rope and bucket. This is us in the beginning of our prayer life, where prayer is a tiring process and we don't get much water/joy for our efforts. Then as we progress, we are given a pump, which means less effort on our part and more water. The 3rd and 4th stages are water from a stream, and rain. Basically, as we grow in our prayer life and relationship with God. The effort and "labour" on our side decreases, and the joys and consolations increases.

    All this is wonderful, and a wonderful motivation for me to continue in my prayer life, knowing that it will be easier and more fruitful as develop my "spiritual muscles". But as the title of the book hints, it does not end there. Thomas Green, calls that stage, moving from Knowing God, to Loving God. The next stage is to move towards Truly Loving God. And this is the part that provided me with much food for thought, leading to much doubt.

    In the next stage, the joys we get from prayer are interspersed with times of dryness or desolation. And as we go on, the periods of dryness will get longer, until it becomes the norm. He uses the example of human courtship to parallel this process, we have the initial period, where we Discover more about each other, then the Loving and spending more time together, and then after committing to each other in marriage, comes the Truly Loving, through good times and bad, sickness and health... and living life together, no longer about the thrills and excitement, but just really two becoming one.

    Thus this next stage is where our love is purified. The reason why this is necessary is that, our human minds and intellect cannot fully comprehend the love of God, and because of that we limit God and His love in our lives. And it will challenge us to lose our concepts of God and we would doubt His presence by our side. This is the dark night of the senses and soul that St John of the Cross talks about.

    This will definitely be a trying time, and he uses very illustrative examples of the potter and the clay, and that of the small child who does not understand the necessity of the pain of surgery to save his life. And it is only when we truly embrace that dark night, and trust in God that our whole being can be transformed.

    Lastly, he uses the example of floating to differentiate the different approaches to prayer that we take. While we are so used to being active in our prayer, judging our progress by our own efforts, as a swimmer, we still try to control the direction and the destination. But what we are called to do, is to float, and allow the Lord to guide and bring us to the destination that he chooses. To do nothing gracefully, totally surrendering our will to Him.

    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    I Also Don't Believe

    The readings of saturday and sunday keep bringing to mind the theme of unbelief. In Saturday's reading we see the priests, scribes, leaders who despite being amazed at Peter and John, and having no answer for the miracle performed on the crippled man, could not believe in the testimony of Peter and John. Saturday's Gospel strikes even harder, because this time, it is the eleven disciples who do not believe. First when Mary Magdalene said that the Lord was alive and she had seen him. Then the testimony of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus. And we see in Sunday's Gospel, Thomas, in the event which would make him forever associated with "Doubting".

    I questioned myself, why am I caught up with the disbelief instead of focusing on the more positive aspects of the resurrection, the wonder of God's power in the healing of the crippled, or the peace and commission given by Jesus to the disciples. And I found the answer in my reflection on thursdays Gospel.

    "Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your heart?" Lk 24:38
    Looking at my previous post put link here, I suddenly realise that there is a pattern. There is a questioning of my faith, my growth, or even my lack of questioning in my life now. Initiated by God, through inspiration by His Word. And I thank Him for that. Even this awareness of myself, I have to be grateful for his soft prompting and Spirit working in me.

    Suddenly I recall the last time I went through this process, of doubt, and then of his being by side. On the night of 10 Aug 2002, while in KL, when I was in my "I don't believe that God exists" state. The irritating nagging of my Youthworks friends. Not allowing me to sleep until I talk and express it out. I still thank God for being there for me that night, acting thru them sacrificing their sleep. Thanks guys, really see God acting in you all that night. Of course that is viewed retrospectively, but definitely a big part of my salvation history. Love you all.

    Anyway, just reflecting and typing our that last paragraph, has given me strength to carry on. Of course I also draw strength from the scriptures, where if the disciples who also doubted that much, and yet were the same ones who performed that miracle for the cripple, I trust that the Lord is still by my side, and that he will bring me through this, with an increase in my faith.

    Talking about doubt and the scriptures, another topic would be the latest buzz around: The Gospel of Judas. It's not that big a thing here in the seminary, maybe because our foundation is so strong here that it is not shaking our faith ;Þ, or more likely it is because we don't have cable here, so did not watch the National Geographic documentary. What we can gather is from the newspapers, and from our scripture professor, but of cos he gives us the Catholic point of view. But what I really want to know is what the people out there are thinking, doubting, questioning on this topic. So if there are any questions that you have or your friends are asking, drop me a comment or email. Also if you know how I can watch the documentary please tell me. Thanks.
    P.S. This post and the next few are going to be post-dated, mostly my reflections or things that struck me during the retreat. Hopefully I have time to do them. Now that retreat is over, means that back to studying...Greek and Latin await...

    Saturday, April 22, 2006

    RSS Feeds

    Kenneth posted about RSS before, but I recently discovered how it is making my life easier.

    Firstly, with RSS, I have been able to keep updated with the different blogs. But I was only able to do this once a week, because we have no internet access in our rooms, and unlike some of the other brothers with laptop, mine is a desktop, so can't just bring it to the internet room to logon. So I check my feed updates during the off days when I go back home. This is a bit troublesome, and also means I read slightly out of date stuff.

    But recently, I found out about bloglines from Kenneth, and its just amazing. An online RSS reader, where I can just put in all my feeds, and check it daily like my email. Warning, if you are planning to use it, some knowledge of what feeds are would be useful. The site does help make it easier to add feeds from popular blogsites like blogspot and easyjournal. But for other sites, you need to know the feed URL to add. Or the easiest way is if the blog you are interested in has a link, clicking on it will automatically add it to your bloglines list of feeds. My feed links are at the bottom right.

    And my last great discovery, is this website : It provides feeds to so many comics. I can now get my daily dose of laughter from my favourite comics.

    Friday, April 21, 2006

    Acknowledging God's Presence

    One common theme struck me in today's two readings, Acts 4:1-12 and Jn 21:1-14, the Acknowledging of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter testified to Christ's in the miraculous healing of the cripple, and John said "It is the Lord" during the miraculous catch of fish.

    This caused me to reflect on my own awareness of the Lord in my life. I identify with the disciples in today's readings and even in the rest of the readings this week. There is always the recognition of the Lord at miraculous events. Mary Magdala at the tomb, the breaking of bread at Emmaus, the appearance in the upper room. And yes in certain events in my life, especially when I need the Lord's help, like finishing an assignment or leading in a session, which is a miracle to me, I seek the Lord's help, and I realise His presence. But in my daily life, I am not that aware of His presence.

    At the beginning of the term, I blogged about the examen that we do at night. At that time, there was that conscious effort and struggle, to be aware of the presence of the Lord in my life. But as time went on, I have slackened. And thus today is a real wake up call, to strive once more to be aware of His presence in my life. In here, where there are so many fixed times of prayer, it can be so mechanical and routine, that it is easy to take for granted and just go through the motions.

    Then today at Salvation History class, we also covered the physical reminder of God's Covenant, circumcision. Abraham and all his descendants were to be circumcised as a sign of their covenant with God. A physical mark, reminder of God's promise and of their response to God. Well that is no longer necessary, but it got me thinking of a tangible reminder for me of my covenant with God, to help me remember His presence in my life. For me, it is my rosary ring, which I bought at Holy Spirit Church on palm sunday to replace the one I lost in IHM last year. And when I looked at my hand, it wasn't there. I had left it at the sink when I washed up this morning. And of all days for it to happen it had to be today. Maybe because I already had a reminder at mass, so I didn't need it to remind me today.

    Anyway, that's my challenge today, this week, and hopefully next week during the retreat, to be aware of the Lord's presence in my life. I know I will slacken, but hopefully I will keep getting reminders, to start again, and strive on.

    Wednesday, April 19, 2006


    I like the comic B.C. Every once in a while especially on Easter and Christmas it has some Christian message to it. Saw this one for this Easter. Enjoy.


    Think this is my shortest post ;Þ

    Saturday, April 15, 2006

    Holy Week

    This Holy Week has been good, not the best, but still one of the best. This year, we had the Easter Triduum celebrations in the seminary itself. So the celebration of the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Passion and the Easter Vigil was all done inside with the seminary community.

    It has been a very different experience, I think because of the change of state and environment. It all began with the Chrism mass in the morning at CTK. As one priest remarked, our first official "public" mass (not counting the Serra Club initiation mass). Walking in procession, sitting behind the priests as they stood up to renew their vows, on one hand enjoying the novelty of it, on the other, wondering when that novelty wears off, if it will just become routine.

    Then in the evening we had the Mass of the Lord's Supper, and we rang the big bells outside during the Gloria. The neighbours must be wondering what the commotion was all about, considering that those bells have not been rung in such a long time. They sound like those bells in the villages when there is a fire. Then I had my feet washed, and I guess that was the start of my reflection of being a disciple.

    After the mass, we had the procession of the Eucharist out to the Grotto outside the Chapel, and adoration until midnight. It was a wonderful experience, so different from in church. Sitting there, feeling the wind, hearing the lizards and cricket chirping away. The darkness only broken by the flickering of the candles. (It looks so bright in the photo only because of the long exposures) Really, felt like being in the garden with Jesus. And of cos the disciple experience wouldn't be complete with out the falling asleep in the garden ;Þ


    Then at midnight, the Eucharist was brought from the the Grotto and kept. This time it was just accompanied by single lamp-bearer. So contrasting with the grand procession we had from the mass to the garden with the incense, and everybody singing. Which in itself was so symbolic, how Jesus went from the last supper to the garden with all his disciples, singing. But when he was arrested, he was left alone.

    Cimg3975During that time, while I was taking photos, I saw the moon in the sky surrounded by clouds, and so took a photo of it. It was so eerie, when on Good Friday, I was watching the Passion of the Christ, at the beginning in the garden of Gethsamane, they showed the moon shining through the clouds, much like what I saw that night.

    For Good Friday, we had stations of the cross, inside the chapel, as it was raining as it always does on Good Friday every year. I also watched the Passion of the Christ, before we celebrated the Lord's Passion at 3pm. That really helped me reflect even further. Seeing the expressions on the faces of Peter, Judas, John and Mary. The actions of Veronica, Simon and the repentant thief. My "Crucify Him" at the Passion Gospel, the same as that shouted by the chief priests.

    Life of ChristAnother thing that helped was reading was Archbishop Fulton Sheen's Life of Christ. The chapter "The Seven Words from the Cross" gave me much to reflect on. Enough to have a separate blog post by itself.

    But I guess the biggest realization for me, is to treasure this experience. It's not every year that we will be celebrating the Triduum in the seminary, which means there will not always be such a personal, cosy celebration. And also the amount of time spent in prayer. More so life after the seminary. After I watched the Passion of the Christ, which I have for the last 3 years, I couldn't help but wonder whether that will be possible for a priest. The many services, preparing sermons, the whole liturgical preparations. A reminder not to get so caught up with activity and routine, forgetting the essential stuff which makes Holy Week, truly holy and glorious.

    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Emptied, Cleaned and Prepared

    Say to the master of the house, "The Teacher says, 'Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?'" Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.
    This morning as I was reading and reflecting on the long gospel passage of Palm Sunday, this line struck me. It reminded me of an image that came to my mind once during praying over at one of the camps. This image of our heart being the upper room with the disciples gathered there. And so in that room, we had the rash Peter who denied, the Thomas who doubted, the Judas who betrayed, the rest who ran away.

    So as this image came to my mind, I somehow felt the Lord asking me "where is my guest room this holy week? Is it prepared?". And as I looked at my lent, I won't say it's the best, but quite acceptable, and felt confident enough to say, "Yes, the room is ready.

    Then I moved into a more meditative mood and started to look for the preaching point of view. And I realised that there are two parts. Firstly that the master of the house, must have emptied the room, cleaned it and arranged the furniture in preparation. This I related to our lenten sacrifices (emptying), the sacrament of reconciliation (cleaning) and the reflections on the themes in the readings of lent (arranging furniture). And using this as my guide is why I can say, "ok lah, quite prepared."

    But there comes the second part, despite the room being ready, Jesus still tells the two disciples to make the preparations there. There is more to the preparation than just emptying, cleaning and arranging furniture. There is the whole preparation of the meal and the setting for the celebration. I saw that as God's invitation or reminder, to use these remaining days, to fill the place, to do the necessary for a fitting celebration. I was reflecting at this holy week, compared to the previous ones, and this one seemed a bit empty at first. But I came to the conclusion that it was because of all the activities we always had during this period. Here in the seminary, things are a bit quieter, and so the challenge for me is to really make full use of the next few days, to prepare myself.

    Already as it is, I find myself looking forward to the Gloria and Alleluias. I've never felt this way before, seems quite wierd. I guess my "appetite" was whet today at Holy Spirit, when I heard the children's lit sing the Gloria, and the choir practicing Handel's Alleluia Chorus. And if seminary is anything like the parish, yah I know I'll get a bit sick of the constant Alleluias in Easter, but not really concerned about that now.

    Saturday, April 08, 2006

    Broken Clay

    Truly God works in His own time in His own ways.

    wellrunsdryToday I was reading the book "When The Well Runs Dry" by Thomas Green, as part of my IY formation. And I had just started reading Chapter 4 - The Potter's Clay, when I heard a song playing on my comp in the background. The song is "Broken" by Kristy Starling, from one of the CDs that we were given at the Serangoon District Youth Rally.

    All I could hear from my bed was "mold me, put the fragments of my life back together again, Cause I'm broken". This got me out of the bed, and I went to the comp to turn up the volume. And surprisingly the song matched what I was reading so well.

    In the chapter I was reading, Thomas Green was using the passage from Jeremiah 18:1-6 to explain what to do in the dryness of our prayer life. "Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel." The reason why we experience dryness, is that God is teaching us to let go, to let Him take charge, to allow Him to transform us to what He intended us to be.

    But how painful the transformation will be, depends on how much we want to allow Him to mold us. If we are hard and contented with the shape we are now, it would be hard for God to transform us. But if we allow ourselves to be soft, malleable clay, then his gentle hands will transform our shape, disfigured by sin, into His design.

    It is just that we fear that change. Thomas Green also uses another example, that of a small child who has to go through surgery to save his life. He doesn't understand why his parents make him go through pain. If only he can be brought to understand the good that will come out of the pain. So often we are like that child, not understanding why the dryness, the suffering or the pain. And God is there like the parent, telling us, it’s for your own good, don't worry, trust in me.

    And that is why I found the song so meaningful. In the lyrics, was the theme of confusion, brokenness, doubt. Especially in the last 2 verses and the chorus. That is what we are called to be, broken clay in the hands of the potter. And the last line just sums up what I felt today, God calling me to do. "My will to You, I surrender. Oh, I surrender"

    "O Lord, it is so easy to say I want to be the clay in your hands, but so hard to let myself go. I know it up in the head, but so difficult to follow. I know it is a life long journey, so I ask you to grant me the strength and perseverance. Help me to be open to your loving touch that will expose the hard areas in my life, and grant me the grace to release it for you to transform."

    Kristy Starling

    Broken - Kristy Starling

    "You said I'd have no more
    than I can handle
    But everyday seems to be
    getting harder to make good
    Through You, You said that
    I could do anything, oh anything
    But sometimes, I feel like
    I can't do it at all

    I've been knocked down
    and dragged around
    And now I don't know
    which way to go
    All I need is one small sign
    to put me to where,
    Where You want me
    I'm confused so I'm calling on You

    Cause I, I'm broken
    And I'm ready for you
    to pick up the pieces
    Won't You direct me, hold me,
    accept me, and mold me
    Put the fragments of my life
    back together again
    Cause I'm broken

    Somewhat embarrassed to admit this
    But I wonder if it's the other, or if it's You
    Is it trying to tempt me, or is it You
    Who strengthens me
    I'm weak, so I'm confessing to You

    My pride has been bruised
    I suppose that's good
    My will to You, I surrender
    Oh, I surrender

    Thursday, April 06, 2006


    Just had our holy hour today, and I was one of those on duty to prepare and conduct it. It being the week before holy week, it was also our community reconciliation night. Of all kinds of session to do, this has to be my first...

    Anyway we ended with the whole chapel filled with smoke that we could hardly breathe. Funny thing is after dinner, we were watching this show called earl"My Name is Earl". And this episode was about reconciliation, Jesus and smoke. The show is about a guy who realises his life is in a mess, and decides that it is because of the bad karma accumulated because of his bad deeds. And so he makes a list of bad things that he did before that he wants to make good. Today's episode, was that he had to confess to an old friend who went to prison for something that Earl did. Another thing he had to do was to quit smoking. He was initially afraid to go and confess, cos the guy, Donny, was quite crazy, so he tried to quit smoking instead, without success. But the beautiful yet funny thing is that, when Donny went to prison, he discovered Christ, and he turned over a new leaf. And when he found out that it was Earl that caused him to go to prison, he was angry at first but then looked at the tatoo of the Crucifix on his body and asked "what would Jesus do", and then he said "I forgive you".

    The show made me reflect on certain things. Many times we find it so hard to reconcile with people we hurt, prefering to focus on things like stop smoking, stop swearing. Sometimes we need the help of others to start that reconciliation process, and sometimes we need to help others. And lastly maybe I should also get a tattoo of the Crucifix on me, so that I can always ask Him, "What would you do?"

    Nah, I think I'll just stick to a nice metal crucifix. But praise God for the recon session today. Good thing we dun believe in karma, we would never be able to atone for all the wrong that we have done in our lives.

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    100th Post - Here Am I

    Here_am_I_Send_meWah finally, I reached 100. Took me 2.5 years. But anyway wanted to make it a special one. And God sent a wonderful gift to me.

    I was looking at the website I featured in my last post, I found a link to another website, with other videos. And of all things I find there, the music video of Mercy Me's "Here Am I".

    This song has a special place in my heart, as I would call it my "calling song". 2 years back around this time, Ernest introduced the band Mercy Me to me. And this particular song struck me, the lyrics caught me, and coupled with the phone call... well Here Am I today.

    Praise the Lord for this nice reminder, the timing was just fantastic.

    Mercy Me - Here Am I

    On the other side of the world
    She stands on the ocean shore
    Gazing at the heavens she wonders
    Is there something more
    Never been told the name of Jesus
    She turns and walks away
    What a shame

    Just across the street in your hometown
    Leaving from his nine to five
    Gazing down the road he wonders
    Is this all there is to life
    Never been told the name of Jesus
    He continues on his way
    What a shame

    Whom shall I send
    Who will go for me
    To the ends of the earth
    Who will rise up for the King
    Here am I send me
    Here am I send me

    Whether foreign land or neighbors
    Everyone's the same
    Searching for the answers
    That lie within your name
    I want to proclaim the love of Jesus
    In all I do and say

    How beautiful are the feet
    of those who bring good news
    Proclaiming peace and your salvation

    Nicole Nordeman - Why

    I received an email from Colin with this link to the Nicole Nordeman song "Why". With a clip from the Passion of Christ playing on one side and the lyrics on the other. I think the song is quite nice, and very meaningful as we prepare ourselves this week, to enter into the Passion of Christ.

    I won't put the video on this blog. But you can download it from this website

    Nicole Nordeman - Why

    We rode into town the other day,
    just me and my Daddy.
    He said I'd finally reached that age,
    and I could ride next to him on a horse
    that of course was not quite as wide
    We heard a crowd of people shouting
    and so we stopped to find out why
    There was that man that my dad said he loved,
    but today there was fear in his eyes

    So I said Daddy why are they screaming?
    Why are the faces of some of them beaming?
    Why is he dressed in that bright purple robe?
    I bet that crown hurts him more than he shows
    Daddy please can't you do something?
    He looks as if he's going to cry
    You said he is stronger than all of those guys
    Daddy please tell me why,
    why does everyone want him to die?

    Later that day the sky grew cloudy
    and daddy said I should go inside
    Somehow he knew things would get stormy,
    boy was he right
    But I could not keep from wondering
    if there was something that he had to hide
    So after he left I had to find out,
    I was not afraid of getting lost
    So I followed the crowds to a hill
    where I knew men had been killed
    And I heard a voice come from a cross:
    And it said:

    Father why are they screaming.
    Why are the faces of some of them beaming?
    Why are they casting their lots for my clothes??
    This crown of thorns
    hurts me much more than it shows,
    Father please can't you do something?
    I know that you must hear my cry
    I thought I could handle a cross of this size,
    Father remind me why,
    why does everyone want me to die.
    When will I understand why?

    My precious Son,
    I hear them screaming.
    I'm watching the face of the enemy beaming
    but soon I will clothe you in robes of my own.
    Jesus this hurts me more than you know
    But this dark hour I must do nothing.
    Though I've heard your unbearable cry
    the power in your blood destroys all the lies,
    soon you'll see past their unmerciful eyes.
    Look there below see the child
    trembling by her father's side.
    Now I can tell you why,
    she is why you must die.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Toys R' Us Kid

    Last week during our Personal Growth and Relationships class, somehow the topic of discussion moved towards maturity and growing up. You know how sometimes we remark to someone, "Why don't you grow up?", to tell him to be more matured or to act his age.

    My point in the discussion, was that in current society, we no longer know what it means to be a grown up. Come to think of it, I don't think that phrase is used anymore. Previously, a child knows he is a child, and knows that an adult behaves in a different manner. And normally we have the "coming of age", like maybe the 21st birthday, where society acknowledges us to be adults, and thus more is expected of us, in terms of responsibility, accountability and behaviour.

    But somehow, now that doesn't seem to be happening. There doesn't seem to be a transition from childhood to adulthood. Maybe it's because of the society that we live in. Because at the age of 24 some of us are still studying, which of cos is unconsciously linked to children. toysrusOr maybe we are the Toys r' Us generation, and the song "I don't wanna grow up", has assured us that we can still be "young at heart". For those who don't know the song, you are still young.

    Sad to say, this is not me criticising the world, cos I see that in me. And just now as I was doing reading an article for my methodology assignment, talking about vision. Don't know why, my thoughts went back to last week's personal growth discussion, and I started to question and reflect on my own vision of adulthood. And when I thought back to what I as a youth or teenager had in mind of what a 28 year old should be, I find my current life differs so much with my original vision.

    I still remember when youthworks first started, there was one session that Gary did, and he asked us to write down how we saw our lives in 5, 10, 15, 20 years time. I think I was 20 then, and at 25 I hoped to be married, 30 to have a stable job, 35 maybe a car to send my kids to school... Of course now my life has taken a different path, I still see myself in growing in stability in terms of my vocation.

    But yet there is still this other part of me which doesn't match my idea of an adult. Maybe cos I've been hanging around the youths too much. One thing which for me was a sign of age, was dressing, different age groups have different dress styles. But my dressing has been pretty much the same, still t-shirt and jeans. Maybe now I wear more polos than before. And I think I can understand why some of the "aunties" in church find it wierd that I still call them "aunty".

    I have grown intellectually, in understanding the workings of the world, in self knowledge. Retrospectively, I think I have grown. Maybe I see myself everyday (duh!), thus don't see the growth. Or maybe I can't see myself behaving like those older than me, forgetting that they are also growing, and thus, I should not compare myself with them, but with the younger versions of them.

    I still remember the conversation I had with Janet Ang, one of the catechism teachers. At that young age, I saw her as an adult, active in church. But only last year, when she was back in singapore for a while, she remarked that I was doing what she used to be doing. Inside me, I couldn't see it that way, cos I always had the impression of her being older. Maybe I just don't want to grow old ;Þ

    I guess it's just a wake up call, as I go further into this journey. To be more aware of myself, my growth, my age, and whether I'm acting my age.

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    Never be Discouraged

    In my last post I mentioned about the wasp building its nest on my door. On the left is the picture of the nest that was built on my door on wednesday. After posting that blog, I went to scrape it off.

    Then on thursday, after lunch, when I went back to my room, I saw this on my door (1st picture). The wasp was back! I took a photo at 2pm, then had to rush off for a meeting. When the meeting ended at 4.30, I came back, and found that it had built up even further (2nd picture). And it was still building, flying out to get more mud and coming back (3rd picture). Managed to get a nice picture of it. Had to go for manual labour and community games. And when I came back at 6.30. The nest was built and sealed. Which means that the wasp had laid its larva in it (4th picture).

    Sad thing is that one of my brothers has this extreme dislike for God's wonderful creation, and so I had to remove the nest before the larva can develop into a full grown wasp, "and kills somebody".

    So I decided to do some scientific research, and opened up the nest, and see what was inside. To my amazement, I found that the wasp had laid its larva inside, and had put in a spider for it to feed on. Then that brother sprayed my door with insecticide, and told me it said on the can that the effect guaranteed to last for 3 months.

    But then on friday, the wasp returned again and started building right on the same spot of the other 2 nests and where the insecticide was supposed to be. This time the wasp crossed path with that brother with insecticide in hand, and the picture on the right is the sad end result. I'm keeping the foundation of the 3rd nest on my door in remembrance

    On a brighter note ;Þ over that friday and saturday, we had 15 young men come to the seminary for the vocation recollection. Many new faces. We were quite surprised at the number, Praise the Lord. Now hopefully they continue to come, like the wasp, and hopefully there's no one there to "kill" their vocation.

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    My dog ate my homework

    Yah I know I've not posted anything in a while, but I have a reason. "My dog ate my homework". Actually mine is the more updated version of that reason. "My thumbdrive died on me".

    I'm not kidding, I came back to seminary after the mid-sem break, plugged my thumbdrive into the comp, and it refuses to read. Even the LED light that shows activity does not come on. And so all my data inside is lost, including a few posts that I had written. And oh yah my greek homework which I started on at home. Now gotta re-do. Imagine if I go to class on thursday and said, sorry father, "my thumbdrive died on me".

    Quite sad actually, cos I had 3 posts with reflections on the SYD Rally, Gerard's ordination to the diaconate and other stuff, which I can't remember now. So won't bother about it. No use crying over spilt milk.

    Although I won't try and recall what I wrote on the SYD Rally, I would do it great injustice not to mention it. Kudos to the SYD team, for the effort and fine work that they did. All of us were quite impressed with the program and the turn-out. Must have truly been a wonderful learning and serving experience. And just looking at how it has brought the youths of the various churches together, working together for Christ, shows how the Holy Spirit works in us when we are open to him.

    Talking about how the Holy Spirit works, despite the "sorrow" of the loss of my thumbdrive, there is cause for much rejoicing. As at this moment, there are 14 young men coming for the vocation recollection this weekend. One guy just signed up. Who knows if more will come.

    Please pray for these young men, and also for us and the priest, that this recollection would be an intimate encounter with the Lord, and help them in their journey of discerning their vocation.

    Gotta go now. Some wasp has decided to set up it's nest on my door. The mud is still moist, so going to remove it before it hardens. Might post up a picture of it in the next post, which might not be so soon, cos of the recollection, and oh yah my greek. Better get down to my homework. Don't think "my thumbdrive died" is a valid reason. ;Þ

    Saturday, March 11, 2006


    Today we went to Holy Trinity. A very big parish in terms of population, the biggest actually, with 13,000. Since they cover the whole pasir ris, simei and tampines area. So its a good thing that they are building the new parish in Pasir Ris. Compared to St Stephen's last week which has a population of 1,008 (So small they can be so exact with the number)

    Trinity has a relatively young congregation. During the morning that we were there, we saw many children, youths, young adults, young parents. Few elderly as compared with the other parishes. Logistically I think it's quite a nightmare, they had so many classes for catechism with many sessions. But they are quite blessed too, because they have quite a few young catechist.

    maintenance to missionFr Johnson was telling us about catechism, and showed us a book, From Maintenance to Mission: Evangelization and the Revitalization of the Parish.(The book looks quite interesting, reading the few sample pages on He mentioned something quite interesting. Too often we baptise our kids, teach them the commandments, but we do not make them disciples. And he said, we need to be re-born, like in the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3:1-8. This struck me quite a bit, and was my point of reflection the rest of the day. It reminded me of my own "re-birth", and I just felt that whole sense of gratitude for that transformation in my life, and that I should be ever thankful, and not take it for granted.

    Now the problem is how do we bring about that re-birth and discipleship element into the catechism class. I know teaching catechism isn't easy, and the problem isn't just changing the catechism program. The environment the kids are brought up in, at home, and in the parish community. The mindset and knowledge of the catechists, in fact of the adults in the church. We can't give something we don't have. It's a vicious cycle, kids who are not brought up in the faith properly, will become adults who do not see the need to grow in their faith. And thru their actions, and if they become catechists - the cycle repeats itself.

    Friday, March 03, 2006


    Lent is here, and we are still trying to remember not to say the alleluia at the beginning of the Divine Office.

    I was trying to settle my lenten sacrifices, albeit a bit late, but this year I am inspired to really benefit from the sacrifices. This theme of "It's not what you give up, but what you embrace" keeps ringing in my head. It all started with last sunday's sermon at St Stephen's church, by Fr Paul Staes, CICM. (Oh yah which reminds me, I didn't pen down any reflection on that visit)

    The only part I remember about his sermon was, "Some of you will give up watching tv. But maybe instead of giving up tv, you should watch, but be selective of what you watch, and use it to increase your faith. Maybe borrow a inspiring movie, and use it to bring you closer to God." After that my mind went on thinking on that statement, and I didn't listen to the rest of his sermon.

    Then at yesterday's evening prayer, the scripture reading was from Jam 4:7-8,10

    So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds.
    Which brought to mind Fr Ignatius' sermon some weeks back on the Gospel about the unclean spirit that was cast out and returned back with seven more. I never understood that passage, until he explained that, when we "cast out" our sinful ways, there is an void left in us, and unless we fill it with God and His love, the sin will return and even stronger. And so this passage from James really summerises the 2 dimensions I have to consider in my lenten sacrifices. How are my sacrifices helping me stand firm against the devil? and how are they helping me to draw closer to God?

    And then today's mass readings.
    "Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me?" - Isa 58:7
    "For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept. My sacrifice, a contrite spirit; a humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn. - Psa 51:18-19
    So this lent, I can fast, I can give up entertainment time, I can spend less on "comfort items", even give up my "bookouts". But what I am going to fill in those voids with. The obvious answer is God. But what practical ways can I do that.
    "Lord, grant me the grace to see the world thru your eyes. Give me the strength to persevere in my lenten sacrifices, to stand firm against the devil and his temptations. Show me how to fill myself with your Love. And above all, grant me a humble and contrite heart, to draw myself ever closer to you. That after these 40 days I may celebrate you resurrection with a resounding Alle---a"

    Tuesday, February 28, 2006

    Opening to God

    I just finished a book review on Thomas Green's Opening to God. This book was highly recommended to us by our Initiation Year Director, and now after reading it, I would also highly recommend it to anyone who wants to deepen their prayer life, or just trying to even make sense of prayer in their lives.

    For a person picking up the book, trying to find a sure-fire way to encounter God, he will be sadly disappointed. Which is why the author devoted the first half of the book, to clarify what prayer is, or more importantly, what it is not. Through his experience giving spiritual direction, he knows the struggles we face in our spiritual journey. Thus in “Part I – The What and Why of Prayer”, he corrects many of the misconceptions and answers many questions that the person in this modern era would face regarding prayer.

    After changing the mindset we have in the first part, that prayer is really an encounter with the Lord, and it is a response on our part to His drawing, the author suggests a change in approach. In the second part “The How of Prayer”, instead of the things we should do, he focuses on what we should be: “A better approach would be to define prayer as an opening of the mind and heart to God. Opening stresses receptivity, responsiveness to another.” Using his knowledge from the writings of the masters of prayer, Sts Ignatius, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, he puts it in simple language, that is easily understood by a beginner to prayer.

    Personally, reading this book, has given me much to reflect on. I could identify with the person who used to think of prayer in terms of the categories: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication. And now as I move from the devotional faith, to discovering the relational aspect of prayer, it has highlighted some stages and difficulties on this journey that I was unaware I had or am going through. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, it has reminded me that the growth in my prayer life really requires time and effort. I am reminded once again not to be so impatient, expecting to bear fruits through my own effort, and not to be impatient with a God who cares for me.

    The most striking part of the book has to be it’s ending, because it describes how I’m beginning to feel about prayer. That when it seems that we have truly learned how to pray, we are actually “only beginning to discover what the Spirit has to teach us of God – but it is a very good beginning.”

    "The image I often use is that of a father and his year-old child. The baby has learned how to crawl, and become a very skilled crawler. Then one day the father decides to carry the baby for a walk. Suddenly the baby sees the world from the father's shoulders and moves with the speed of his father's speed. When they return home, the father puts the baby down on the floor again, and the baby is frustrated because he can only crawl. Now he knows something better is possible, and crawling is no longer satisfying.

    It is like that in the early stages of our life in prayer. When we begin to make progress, it is not because we have learned to walk, but because God is carrying us. Like the baby, however, we tend to think we have really accomplished something ourselves.

    Prayer becomes a joy and our faults disappear, and we think we have really learnt to walk, but the reality is that our faults have not been eliminated, but merely temporarily masked by God's grace. And when he sets us down again, prayer becomes difficult, and our failings return, and we find ourselves frustrated."

    Epilogue - Opening to God
    The image of the father carrying the child and walking, and the disappointment when the child is put back down to crawl, encourages me to be aware of that during my own journey, and to carry on relying on God and not be disappointed.