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.