Sunday, January 22, 2006

Out of my mind

"He went home, and such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind." (Mk 3:20-21)

Don't know why when i reflect on the readings these past 2 days, and when it is proclaimed at the mass, a seperate thing strikes me. Today, the last 4 words hit me as the finished the Gospel, and Father started out his homily with the same words. "Are you out of your mind?" We've gotta be out of our mind to be here. Considering some of the reactions I get when people find out that I'm going down this path, it does feel a bit that way. And so he preached about being "out of our minds" in a good way.

But what struck me about those 4 words, was being out of our mind in a "bad" way. Probably cos the awareness issue has been on my mind for a while, and at today's recollection, father gave out a handout on how to do the examen. Either my mind is out of me, or I'm out of my mind. And definitely most of the time God is out of it too. Like there was one day, after taking my food, I said grace, and was reminded by another brother that we had already said grace communally. And as I thought back, yah somehow, my mind wasn't there when we first said grace. Only the second time did I really thank God.

Well, something positive to take out of all this, is that I feel like I'm at spiritual BMT. Come in spiritually unfit, but which also means, that with constant exercise of my prayer life, would be able to see much growth. Praise God that He's making me aware of the areas I'm lacking in, so that I can work on it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Today's readings - Companions

Reflecting on today's reading last night, I focused on the bit on the call of the Apostles, and also on the jealousy of Saul and mercy of David. But this morning at mass, I was enlightened to see a link in both readings (1Sam 24:3-21 & Mk 3:13-19)

Just as Jesus gathered His companions by His side to train them and to send them out, both Saul and David also had their companions. I haven't read the preceding passage, but it can be seen that Saul's companion's sowed discord which fueled Saul's jealousy of David, and on the other side, David's companion's encouraged him to take revenge on the person persecuting him.

The first point for reflection is whether I am one of those who sows discord among others, sometimes even unknowingly biasing other people with my own prejudices. And also, do I allow other's comments affect my own judgement, without even searching the truth.

Second point, in contrast to the first, it would seem right for David's companions to encourage David to end their persecution since God had put Saul at his mercy. David was courageous enough to ignore the suggestions of others and do the right thing.

Reading Henri Nouwen's book "The Wounded Healer", the beginning covers the current generation, using the phrase "fatherless generation", where we are not so much concerned about what our parents or elders think, but on the opinion of our peers. When we are caught up with trying to be popular, cool and unique, peer pressure is so powerful, are we aware of the right thing to do in God's eyes, or just doing what the masses feel comfortable with.

The Gospel thus gives us the model of companionship, with Christ in the centre, our friendships should lead us closer to him, and yet also to be sent out, doing His will. In that sense it's a good thing that He died, and gave us the Eucharist, so that He can now be present in so many places at the same time. To give us strength and consolation to continue.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Today I can say, whatever was taught sounded greek to me. Had greek lessons for future scipture use. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, I keep imagining my CJC maths lecturer saying it in his hong kong accent. Have to memorise the greek alphabet, where 'z' comes between 'e' and 'ē'.

Well the other lessons have also been quite interesting. In the Intro to Liturgy, the one that struck me most was about the wedding at cana. This story of the wedding banquet can be seen as a symbol of Man in Life, where because of the Fall, are at a time where the wine (which brings joy) is finished, and the jars of water for purification were empty (Us and the emptiness in our lives). A bit like Narnia where it was always winter but never Christmas.

And so, Jesus comes to give us joy (wine) to the guest and host, restoring the Unity/Harmony. But for Jesus to perform the miracle, we must bring the water, not the empty vessels. Thus when we enter into Liturgy, we need to come (open disposition and desire) with our jars(ourselves) filled with water (our desire to be changed), for Jesus to turn our water into wine (Joy), for all the people to enjoy.

Another lesson, on the divine office, where we read the instructions to the divine office. Sad to say it's only in the book that the seminary gave us, not in the morning and evening prayer books that we normally use. I managed to find it online. Anyway normally these instructions are quite boring, and nobody reads them. But it contains quite a bit of mind-blowing writings on prayer and the purpose of prayer and some other stuff. Read only chapter 1, the rest as usual, quite technical

Next week latin, dunno how that is going to be... vale

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Urgent Request

I'm writing this at this moment, because one of my classes this morning was cancelled, due to the fact that there are only 2 of us in the class. It was the speech training class by Fr Simon, quite an fun and interesting, compared to the one later "Intro to Liturgy". Which reminds me, later when we "book out" I need to get some sweets or munchies to help me stay awake... There goes the diet.

But I digress... yah after the cancellation of the class I was just thinking, Jude and I are the only IY years, with 2 more from the franciscans and that's it. Some classes 4 of us, the others just 2 of us. No students from the carmelites, redemptorist, dominicans, verbum dei... Wah if this goes on next year, our 2nd year philo will also face the same situation.

So urgent request, to pray for and promote vocations. "Ask the Lord of the Harvest to send more labourers into the vineyard."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

No Change

Couldn't think of a new name for a new blog, so just decided to stick to this one. After all I did start this as my Spiritual Journal.

Today, first day of lessons since I left melb three and a half years ago. At that time, even doing one more year of honors was out of the question for me, and here I am going through 7 more years. Our God is a funny God. Well He brought me here, He will help me through.

One of the first assignments is to write out our vocation story. 1 sentence quite easy, He called me on my phone ;Þ But was reflecting on it during my prayer time, there are so many events and so many people who were involved in this call of mine. Just want to thank all of you for being part of my Salvation History. Oh yah that was my lesson today, and learnt that Salvation History is still taking place, cos God was, is and will always be acting in the world and in our lives.

Can't remember if I actually posted my vocation story before. If I did, would be a real help, will check tomorrow.

The other assignment is that we have to read one spiritual book a month. Starting with the 3 Thomas Green books, "Opening to God", "When the Well Runs Dry" and "Drinking from the Dry Well".

Monday, January 16, 2006


Today Sam asked me for feedback for the last recollection that we had last year. And all I could tell him that I remembered was that the soup on sat was superb. Then again before Vespers (Evening Prayer), he asked me whether I'm still in a limbo state. And I replied that I know that I'm here, but not settled in enough to fully BE here. And as I reflected, I guess continuing from yesterday's note on not concentrating on the psalms, currently in the seminary, I'm too caught up with discovering the things and doing things, to actually be aware of what I'm doing. Quite cheem, as I read what I wrote, not sure if it fully explains what I'm thinking.

Cos as I was doing the Examen at my night prayer, something I haven't done since the 8-day retreat, I was reviewing the day, and realised that I wasn't really aware of what I was doing, and less so of my awareness of God. At the moment I guess that most of the community prayer is technical for me. Only my night prayer is conversational and with full attention on God.

Praise God, that He has allowed me to realise it. I guess it's still all part of the settling/adjustment that I have to go through. Anyway tomorrow is my first lecture, Mystery of Salvation (aka Salvation History), by Mgsr Vaz, one of the few that I enjoyed last year when I sat in for some classes, so am looking forward to it.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Vision & Mission

Today was the final day of our community meetings where we were supposed to synthesize the discussions over the last 2 days and come up with this year's vision & mission statements for the seminary.

We all agreed to keep last year's Vision which is "Fidelity to our Identity as Teacher, Minister and Leader." As that is the fundamental overlying vision that we have to live out as seminarians and priests. The how to achieve that which is the mission statement took a while to come out with, cos we all gave our key focus, and from there tried to come up with a statement that would encompass it all. The process was kinda like MSC meetings, even had some parts of clarifying the language ;) And so we finally agreed and decided with the mission being "through Integral Formation and Growth in Pastoral Charity and Apostalic Zeal."

Personally the important part wasn't so much the statement even less the wording's used. Important part was the whole process of reaching that conclusion. The discussions and input really helped me to understand a bit of what integral formation, pastoral charity and apostalic zeal really meant. And so am going to write some points which I will try to focus on in my on formation this year, and hopefully look back at it at the end, and see how i've grown in these areas.

1) Firstly, definitely would be the Growth Factor. Something close to my heart, but always so hard to notice in myself. The word used commonly was interiorization, to make what we learn a part of our lives and transform us.

2) Integral Formation - the phrase might be quite vague to those reading this. What I do know of it, is that my formation has many different components, human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral/apostalic. Thus my formation here has to incorporate all this different components, but not only that, it has to be integrated and not compartmentalised. eg. The intellectual formation that I receive in my studies has to be integrated to the pastoral aspect of my life. Still have to find out more about the 4 components too.

3) Personalised - It was highlighted that integral formation and the word growth, pre-supposes it being personalised, but for me I guess it's a really important point. Firstly in the sense that my formation is my personal responsibility. Something that I'm glad that I'm reminded right from the start. And secondly that my formation should be tuned to who I am, thus of course it would mean self-discovery, and forming myself with my strengths and weaknesses in mind.

4) Pastoral Charity and Apostalic Zeal - In short to give myself totally to Christ, and also the passion for the apostalic mission.

5) Relevance to the current pastoral situation - The need to keep up to date, with what is happening with the people in society, and to develop myself to meet their needs.

That's all I got for now. And oh yah one thing I noticed about myself just now at evening prayer, was that I was too distracted with the chanting and singing to really concentrate on the psalms. But hopefully that will go once I get more familiar with the tunes.

Still haven't thought of a name for this blog.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Give us a King

Today's 1st Reading (1Sam 8:4-7, 10-22a) was quite a scary one, the prophet Samuel listed out to the Israelites all the things that the king they were asking for would take away from them. And as I was reflecting on it last nite, it seemed to be telling me what I would go through this time, when I made Christ the King of my life. That He would take away so many things away from me.

But I must thank God again for enlightening me again today at mass. It was at the consecration that all of a sudden I realised that Christ the King isn't one that takes away, but one that gives, when He gave us His Body and Blood. The Israelites were looking for an earthly king, and he is one who would take away their freedom, property. And Samuel was trying to get them to see who the real King was.

Then today's preparatory sessions were really good. The talks on the priestly identity, the vision and mission of the seminary, and the last one on formation and character gave me much to think about. Am really glad to have all that was brought up, right at the beginning before lessons start. Really challenged me to reflect on why I am here, and more importantly the mindset that I would take into the formation as a whole. The lessons, the prayers, the community life, the guidance.

1) The evangelical/mission aspect of the priesthood which is often lacking, many are pastoring, but forgetting the apostlate of spreading the Good News
2) Greatest challenge this year would be - Discovering my identity in Christ, and the priestly identity which I'm suppose to configure my life to.
3) To be formed to into the priestly identity, and also to learn how I am being formed, so that I would be able to form others, and also to discover the needs of the current society and how to be relevant and meet those needs.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

First day in the seminary

Officially moved in to the seminary today. It's wonderful how 3 of us begin another chapter in our lives on the same day. We sent Celine off at the airport, prayed over her, and got prayed over too.

The moving in process was quite smooth, thanks to Jo's well maintained room. It was only after the moving in that I had time to think of what I was feeling. Felt a bit alien to the place, a bit like how I felt when I did my stay-in last year. Kinda like just visiting. Maybe cos I haven't customised my room yet, or not used to the place. Many people were asking me how I felt coming in. Truthfully I also don't know how to answer them. Excited? Yes. Frightened? Also yes.

The last few months before coming in hasn't really been the ideal preparation I had in mind for entering. Actually a bit disappointed with myself, and which also led to doubts of whether I was cut out for this.

But was really affirmed by the Lord today. I was flipping through the affirmation book that MSC so lovingly prepared. And I read what Marie Low wrote, and she actually quoted 1Pet 1:6-9

"In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of (your) faith, the salvation of your souls."

I'm thankful that she remembered this passage, for this was the very passage that she used for the tues nite sharing the nite after I met Fr Ho 2 years ago, and I was feeling disappointed, and this passage brought me comfort. So reading this today brought back the same comfort. Not that I'm looking at my time in the seminary as suffering and trials, but more of a reminder of the call that has brought me here.

And What's more, when I was praying the evening prayer with Jude, this was the scripture reading of the day. Almost teared during the prayer. But yah praise God for his call, his guidance and his gentle promptings along the way.

Thus decided to start this new blog, to document this new journey. Not sure what to call it yet. Hopefully got some inspiration in the coming days.