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.