Thursday, December 17, 2009

That Dreaded Time of the Year

Yes its Christmas in a weeks time.
Which also means its the time when parishes are having the penitential services.
For some going for confession is like the dreaded exams that we have before we can enjoy the holidays.
Why do we have to go for confession twice a year before Christmas and Easter.

Fr Luke Fong started his blog two months ago, where he puts up his reflections once a week. And in his latest post he comments about the sacrament of reconciliation. He uses a story about "Sally and the Pearls" to explain the purpose and beauty behind the sacrament.

For myself, I too used to find it so difficult to go for confession. But after my wake-up call, I started to question all the rituals and practices I followed as a Catholic. And confessions was one of the hardest to come to terms with.

I remember there was the comparison of confession with taking a bath. Where we have to wash away our sins regularly. But somehow that analogy just did not cut it, or make me want to go for it any more than I had to.

It took me many years, but I finally realised how to make sense of confessions. And the answer did not lie in the confession itself, but in my understanding of our faith.

For most of my life, I have come to understand sin as bad actions, with bad consequences to the party that I've sinned against and also to myself because God does not like sin. But as I grew in my faith, I realised that its so easy to get caught up in the religious practices and the rules and regulations of the faith, that I was not aware that the most important element of being a Catholic is my relationships, with God and with those around me. That is why it is a faith more than a religion.

It is only when I started to look at Catholic faith from the relationship aspect, then I realised that sin wasn't so much a bad action, but anything that breaks my relationship with God, and others. And thus comes the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Too often we call it confession, which highlights just the act of confessing our sins, but we miss out the elements of repentence, and more often that it is a restoration of our broken relationship with God.

These days, I still have the uneasy feeling when I have to make my confession, because of the shame of sin and having to confront my own weakness. But what drives me to go for it regularly, is not about being washed clean from being dirty, but of how important do I see my relationship with God, and am I willing to confront the broken relationship and allow restoration and healing to take place.

I found this interesting cartoon on this guy's blog

I especially like this quote of his

I once heard somewhere that Confession is like the direct opposite of sinning. When you sin, you tend to want to do it, you feel good doing it, and you feel bad after. Confession, on the other hand, you don’t want to do it, you feel bad doing it, and you feel awesome after. I’d much rather go to Confession.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Offering video by eXcess

The eXcess Youth Ministry in Christ the King recently posted up a video that was made by their Media Team. Quite a simple theme and very catchy background song.

Youtube Link to watch the video

It brought to mind the movie Pay It Forward where one act of kindness results in another act, and it goes on and on. Ironically I also saw an ad today titled "It all comes back to you", on how our bad acts can eventually come back to haunt us.

Youtube Link to watch the video

So the question is, are we passing on acts of love, care and kindness or acts of hate, anger, selfishness?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Butterfly Circus

I just saw this video from a link on XT3.
Yup I still do check that social network site once in a while.
Cos it has great stuff like podcasts, videos and articles on the faith, that I use for my own personal spiritual growth as well as for my sessions.

Nick Vujicic Anyway I saw an article on the site about a short movie which won an award on the theme of hope. Then I saw that the lead actor is Nick Vujicic, and I knew it would be a good one. Nope, Nick Vujicic is no famous actor, he was born without limbs, but has found God's purpose for him in his life and goes around bringing hope to others through the faith and strength that he has coping with "situation".

So I watched the movie, and found it inspiring and it is actually quite a good one to show as an introduction to the other clips of Nick that can be found on Youtube.

Butterfly CircusSo enjoy the movie and spread it around.
You can even download it if you want.
The Low Res Version is 109MB (but still very good quality)
The High Res Version is 193MB

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fr Stephen Yim Blogs His Homilies

Fr Stephen Yim has decided to enter the cyber realm.
No he hasn't joined facebook, but he has decided to post his Sunday Homilies on a blog he created recently.

Sunday Homilies
Since he already types out and prints all his homilies when he preaches, and at the many requests and positive feedback he gets from the parishioners, a simple process of copy and pasting, allows him to share his preaching in cyberspace.

For those who attend Mandarin Mass, Fr Stephen also posts up his Mandarin homilies on another blog.
I tried to put his Mandarin homily through Google translate, and got some quite hilarious results. Like "我会先救火" which means "I will first put out the fire" is translated as "I will fire you."

So far the online feedback about the blog has been rather positive, with a few who said they were glad to be able to read the homily online, either because they are out of the country, or had to attend Mass at another parish for some reason or the other.

My recent post on taking notes at Mass, mentioned that the Pope didn't need to take notes during Mass, because all the homilies he listens to can be found online. Now with Fr Stephen's blog, those attending the Mass would also be able to read and reflect on his homilies further after they go home. Although I hope it is not a reason to not pay attention when he is preaching at Mass. And it doesn't mean that we should stop writing down our reflections at Mass, as it includes our own reflections, or words from the readings that may not be in the homily.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Dancing With The Angels

I heard this song at a funeral today. Simple song with meaningful lyrics. It reminded me of this post I read on a blog, about the new version of "Footprints in the Sand", where the guy and Jesus ended up dancing.

May we too look forward to our true home where we will be dancing with Jesus, the angels, and all our loved ones.

Dancing with the Angels
by Monk & Neagle

Memories surround me
but sadness has found me
i'd do anything for more time
never before has someone meant more
and i can't get you out of my mind
there is so much that i don't understand
but i know

you're dancing with the angels
walking in new life
you're dancing with the angels
heaven fills your eyes
now that you're dancing with the angels

you had love for your family
love for all people
love for the Father, and Son
your heart will be heard
in your unspoken words
through generations to come
there is so much that i don't understand
but i know

we're only here for such a short time
so i'm gonna stand up
shout out
and sing hallelujah
one day i'll see you again

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Taking Notes During Mass

Got this story in my email recently.

A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. 'I've gone for 30 years now,' he wrote, 'and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all.'

This started a real controversy in the 'Letters to the Editor' column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:

'I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this ... They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!'
And then Daniel does a post on his blog "Digital Donkey" about a conversation we had, where I shared with him an encounter I had with two girls who were using their mobile phones in church. (click here to read the post)

So here are my thoughts on the matter. I first started taking notes at mass after I had my spiritual conversion, and decided to take my faith more seriously. As a young boy I didn't understand the homily; As an Altar Server I was paid more attention to my sitting posture and thinking of what needs to be done on the altar; In the Army, homily time was for me to catch up on lost sleep. But it was only when I started to question and learn more about the faith and the Mass, that I realised that there was much more to the homily than I ever realised.

There are those preachers who keep you awake with the jokes and stories, but thats about all you remember of the homily. But when I started to ask myself, "what is God trying to speak to me in His Word today?", that I found many pearls of wisdom in the content that was preached.

I started out by scribbling short notes on the church bulletin margins. Then realising that I often misplaced or threw away the bulletins, I started to write them in a little notebook. And when I started to blog, and wanted to post my reflections up. I decided to write them straight into my PDA. Of course I got strange stares from the people around me, wondering why I'm playing games during mass. But luckily I was always around friends, so they knew what I was doing, and left me alone.

Here I would want to clarify on the term "Taking Notes". I did intially start by taking notes on the homily for later reflection. But then it progressed to recording down any word, phrase or even my own thoughts that struck me at the Mass, that I would like to bring back for further reflection. Thus the Mass and homily became not so much instructional as reflective and inspirational.

This is the reason why I quoted the story above. While the story counters the first man's argument that he does not remember the sermon. It kind of sounds like it's ok to forget about what the priest is preaching about. But why shouldn't I remember something from the sermon? Wouldn't it be great if we do bring home something from each Mass that will nourish our faith? Much has been said about the importance of both parts of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Shouldn't God's Word and the priest's homily also be as life transforming as receiving the Eucharist.

Of course there will be the argument that if it was that important a point or something that really strikes us, we will be able to remember it after the Mass. But the reality for me is that after the Homily, there are so many other things like the creed and the eucharistic prayer, that require my concentration, that I soon forget what was said in the readings and the homily. So for my own spiritual benefit, I choose to record down things for me to take home.

I wonder if the Pope writes anything down during Mass when someone else preaches. But then again, the homilies preached can all be found on the net, especially those by the Preacher of the Papal Household, Fr Canatalamessa.

On a final note, although not a very good reason. Just as in lectures, I find that when can write down things, it does help me to keep awake and pay better attention. And so while there are differing schools of thought about "taking notes" during Mass, I believe... No, I want to get the most out of each Mass I go for, and if by taking notes it is going to help me grow in my spiritual life and let the Word of God transform me, I think it is a good practice for me. Although I'll probably stick to Pen & Paper, because I don't want to be a bad example for youths and also adults to think that it is ok to be smsing during Mass.

(My phone not so hi-tech, so this post has been blogged from my computer ;)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Violence Against Women

I saw this post on Sr Rose's Blog about the Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in LA having a Chapel of Violence against Women. It brought to mind the first time someone shared with me that she was verbally and physically abused by her husband at home.

The sad thing was the fear and shame that had prevented her from letting anyone know about it. Fear of how her husband might react if he found out that she had told someone. A fear so strong that she wouldn't even consider stepping into a counselling centre, afraid that the husband might find out. Shame of how others might see and judge them, their marriage and their lives which look perfect by worldly standards. And so she has had to put up a strong front, as if nothing has happened, when she is around her friends and even family.

As I spoke to her, I went from feeling the pain she's been suffering silently these year, to the anger at a man who would do that to his wife, to the helplessness of what more could I do, other than listening and offering her some professional options to find counselling and support.

As I kept her in prayer, the thought also occurred to me of how many more other women, whose marriages look perfect on the outside, but are suffering silently from an abusive husband. I used to think that it was a problem which was easily identifiable...if the husband is alcoholic, there's a high chance of domestic violence. But now I realised that anger and rage does not need alcohol to fuel it. We've seen in the papers in the last few years many cases of maid abuse. But the subject of domestic violence has not really been highlighted in our media.

Talking about media, there have been campaigns against domestic violence in the US, UK and Australia. A recent ad in the UK featuring actress Kiera Knightley caused a controversy for being to graphic and violent.

Youtube Link - Kiera Knightley - Cut Movie

Here's another ad from Australia

Youtube Link - Domestic Violence Commercial (Australian)

And another one from Canada

Youtube Link - Domestic Violence (Restaurant)

In Singapore we also had a series of ads on Verbal Abuse
Domestic Violence - Verbal AbuseDomestic Violence - Verbal AbuseDomestic Violence - Verbal Abuse

Finally if you do know of families with domestic violence issues, here are a few places that will be able to provide help.


Shelters for Abused Women

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Does Jesus celebrate Fathers' Day

Just saw this cartoon, and found it quite hilarious.
It is quite providential that the start of the Year for Priests, and Fathers' Day falls on the same weekend this year. In CTK, the Maranatha Prayer Ministry were selling photo frames with on the spot photo taking and printing, for parishioners to buy and give to their fathers as a gift. Not only did families take photos with their fathers, there were requests to take photos with the priests of the parish.

Another surprising thing that came to my mind, was the link and continuation between the previous Year of St Paul with the Year for Priests. In his letters to the Corinthians and Thessalonians, St Paul tells us how he saw his role as a spiritual father to the people that God sent him to.
Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 1Cor 4:15

As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you conduct yourselves as worthy of the God who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 1Thes 2:11-12
And so as we begin this Year for Priests, let us reflect on the role of the priests as our spiritual fathers. Have we allowed them to minister to us? Have we supported them in their vocation and ministry, through prayer, affirmation, encouragement, constructive criticism and love?

Happy Fathers' Day to all Fathers!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Growing Old

Ever since watching Tuesdays with Morrie, the idea of growing old has been something that has puzzled & intrigued me. How will I grow old? Grumpy? Eccentric? Lonely? Forgetful? Hard-of-hearing? Dependent? Child-Like?

That last 2 question was something that came to my mind as I watched my little baby niece grow over the last few months. And I realised that the needs of a infant change inversely with age. While a baby grows stronger and more independent, the elderly return to being weak and dependent on others.

I recently saw this short film on youtube which was really touching and highlighted the similarities.

It also highlighted how blind we are to see it in the realities of our lives, reflected in the different attitudes we have to the young and the old. How easy is it for us to be patient and loving to a small baby, but quick to be frustrated at the elderly. How fast we forget the care shown to us by our parents when we were babies, probably because we can't even remember it, when it is the same care that they need from us as they grow old.

Maybe some think economics when it comes to family, seeing children as an investment for the future, while the elderly are burdens or losses that need to be cut. Not everyone is going to be like the father in the film, keeping a diary of these little events with love, and be of sound enough mind to show it to their children.

This is a wonderful short film, with a real powerful message. Do pass it around. The link is
God Bless.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

World Communications Day

Sunday 24th May was World Communications Day, where the Church reminds us to use whatever means of communication to bring the message of Christ to the world, and to use it to foster closer relationships among each other.

The theme for this year is "New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship.". You can read up more about it in the Pope's Message.

At the Parish of Christ the King where I'm doing my pastoral attachment this year, a group was set up to see what can be done to promote this awareness of World Communications Day to the Parish.

Firstly we decided to do a website with links to various online resources that people can use to grow in their faith -->

Next we decided to encourage people to send out messages of love and blessings to their friends and loved ones. And since SMS is the most widely used means of communication these days, we printed out 10 different SMS messages onto bookmarks and distributed it at all the sunday masses --> Click here to See SMS messages

This was my favourite design

We also set up a Facebook group for the parishioners to join, with the idea of using it to communicate and promote the various parish activities through it. To date nearly 250 members have joined.

Lastly, we conducted a survey on how people are using various communication technologies and how the Church can more effectively use it to reach out and communicate.
Today as I read this week's issue of the Catholic News I saw that Vatican also did something similar on World Communications Day.

They have a website, a facebook app through which you can send the Pope's messages to your friends. Only thing we didn't do was a youtube channel, iPhone app and a wiki site. Well not too bad for a small parish compared to Vatican.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Enlightening Moment

A funny thing just happened.
I'm in my office touching up my slides for tomorrow's RCIY session, when I get a knock on the door.
I see this guy wearing a headband and his singlet is drenched with sweat.
I'm wondering what he could possibly be looking for at this time of the night.
And the first thing he says is "I just came to tell you that the light for your cross on the church building is off, I've noticed it the last few days."
I thank him and assure him that I will have it looked into.
Out of courtesy, I ask him his name and if he is a parishioner.
Turns out he stays next to the parish, but he goes to New Creation Church.

It is impressive that even while he is jogging, his mind is on God, that he even notices that the light of the cross on the house of God is not turned on.
It reminds me of a time when a few of us took a cab to Holy Trinity Church. Most of the time when we tell a taxi driver a church name, we still have to direct the way. But this time as we tried to give directions, the driver assured us that he knew the way. So I asked if he was Catholic, he said he was protestant, but not to worry, as long as it is a House of God, he knows the way there.

Amazing how much respect that these two protestant gentlemen have for the House of God, one bothering to look at it while jogging and notice that Christ's light was not shining out, and another who knows the locations of the churches, not because his profession requires it, but that because it is a Houce of God.

The fact that the light of the cross is not shining out may be reflecting something deeper, but I think I'll keep that to another post, and get back to my powerpoint slides. Really takes a lot of time and effort to do.

Oh yah, I know that I stopped at the 4th last word of Christ on the Cross reflection. Really mis-calculated the timing. I still managed to complete my reflections on all seven words by Good Friday, but to put it down in a blog post really takes up so much time, that I was not able to do it once the busy schedule of Holy Thursday onwards began. Its a hectic two weeks after Easter with sessions and retreat to plan and conduct. Hope I make it out alive. ;Þ

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

4th Last Word of Jesus - ...why have you forsaken me?

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Mk 15:34
One way of looking at this was that Jesus was reciting the first line of Psalm 22 which contained prophecies that were fulfilled at his passion (the enemies jeering, dividing of clothes and gambling for the tunic). Or that Jesus was experiencing the consequences of our sin, that disconnectedness with God, that he took upon himself willingly, and so he was voicing out the anguish that he was feeling with the words from the psalm.

As I reflected on the word forsaken, and I looked at my life, I don't think that I have ever done what Jesus did. In times when I'm down, I seldom turn to God until I'm really desperate. I can't say that I've ask God why has he forsaken me because I know its always I who have forsaken him first. It shows the shallowness of my faith and relationship with God.

In my first year of seminary, I read a few books by the Jesuit priest, Fr Thomas Green, on prayer and the deepening of our relationship with God. I wrote a few reflections on my blog on what I had learnt. In one that I wrote in lent 4 yrs ago, I wrote about what spiritual consolation and desolation was. And my second last paragraph, I said that I had not experienced full desolation yet, concluding that I'm not holy enough. Maybe now still not holy.

Read the post if you are wondering why holiness leads to desolation (a sense of abandonment by God). St John of the Cross calls it the Dark Night of the Soul. While deepening of spiritual life one will encounter spiritual dryness, desolation. Mother Teresa went through years of desolation, as revealed in the recent book "Come Be My Light". When the book was published, it sparked off many comments from the secular world, that she didn't believe in God, that she was a hypocrite professing a faith in a God she didn't believe in. But this spiritual desolation is not something that the world will understand. Even most Catholics do not know or understand that there is such a thing or that it exists.

Luckily God only allows it to happen to those who he knows are strong enough to perservere through it, and those who are willing to lay down their lives for him. It is a means through which God purifies our soul, to love him as he loved us. A test of our faith, whether we will still be faithful to seek him even if we do not have the good feeling that spiritual consolation brings. It brings to mind the faith that Abraham had. He was probably in highest consolation when God granted him a son in his old age. But what must have gone through when God asked him to sacrifice that same son.

In my younger days, I remember borrowing a question and answer book from the church library that had this question - "What if I scold God?". I remember that the answer started by saying that its ok, because at least you still have a relationship with God, that you still believe in him enough to expect something from him, and that you can get angry with him.

On a final note, I realised that I haven't reached a familiarity with the scriptures to be able use it in my prayer with God. I am probably like the bystanders who didn't know their psalms enough to recognise what it was. And that the last part of the psalm praises and glorifies God for the deliverance that he has granted.

The 5th Word for tomorrow's reflection is
"I Thirst"
Jn 19:28

Monday, April 06, 2009

3rd Last Word of Jesus - Woman, here is your son...

"Woman, here is your son...
Here is your mother."

Jn 19:26-27
One reason why I like to read Archbishop Fulton Sheen's writings, is his ability to see scripture from a different perspective. When I look at this passage of Jesus giving his mother to the disciple he loved, I see it from two points of view. One that despite his own suffering, Jesus was worried about his mother, that he entrusts her, a widow, into the care of his disciple. The other viewpoint is that the disciple was not named, so that he represents all of us, to whom Jesus gives his mother.

Bishop Sheen being from America, would have used the New American Bible translation, and the word used there is "Behold your son". In this day, we don't really use the word "behold" anymore, so the other translations use "this" or "here". But the word "behold" has a richer meaning than "this" or "here". More than just a statement, it is command to see and look. It is used in John's Gospel when referring to Jesus by John the Baptist "Behold the Lamb of God", by Pilate "Behold the Man", "Behold your king!". And here Jesus is telling Mary to see and look at her son. If the words were to come out from anyone else, Mary would have looked up at Jesus on the cross. But because it came from Jesus, he was telling her to look at the disciple and to see her son Jesus, in the disciple. As the unnamed disciple represents us, Mary sees her son Jesus in each and everyone of us. We are called to be one with him, and he with us, showing his face to the world.

Bishop Sheen also mentions that just prior to this scene, was the dividing of Jesus' clothes by the soldiers. He uses the seamless tunic, most probably woven by Mary, as the link to Jesus' speaking to his mother. But as I reflected on it, somehow I got de-linked from the cross to focusing on the soldiers gambling. Much like the reflection on the two thieves, I found myself wondering what must have been going on in the minds of those soldiers.
"Just another days work"
"Lets get it over and done with"
"Sky getting dark, looks like is going to rain"
"Look at these Jews, fighting among themselves"
"Come lets have some fun and gamble for this tunic"
For them, there was no mystery, no sacrifice, nothing special about that day. In contrast to what the good thief experienced, to what the disciple and women at the foot of the cross were going through. Similarly, this week, from Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, which one are we going to be? The women, especially Mary, pondering on Christ's passion and death? Or the soldiers, where it is just another day, in fact better still, a public holiday? Whats going to be my focus, and how am I going to spend these 3 days?

The 4th Word for tomorrow's reflection is
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Mk 15:34

Sunday, April 05, 2009

2nd Last Word of Jesus - Today you will be with me...

"Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise."

Lk 23:34
PhotobucketA reflection that I read from another book on Jesus' Seven Last Words gave a very interesting insight on the role of the thieves that were crucified on either side of Jesus. The first thieves in the world were Adam and Eve, when they stole the fruit from the tree of knowledge.
God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.'...
the woman saw that the tree was good for food... she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. - Gen 3:3-6
And when the good thief said "we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.", it goes further than just the theft that the two thieves committed, to the theft of the First Adam, to our sin, for which we deserve the condemnation. The thieves represent all of us, who should be "justly condemned", and yet the sinless one, the Second Adam, tells us that today we will be with him in paradise.

It was quite consoling to dwell on the hope that we too are like the "good thief", being forgiven and told that we will be with Jesus in paradise. But as I reflected further, the realisation of both thieves as representing us set in, yet only one was given that hope. It brought to mind a discussion that we had at last weeks Alpha, where one participant shared that his friend told him that he can enjoy life right now, and wait till before he dies to repent, and he will still go to heaven. After all whether we enter the vineyard at the 1st hour or the last hour we will still be paid the same. Our God is a generous God.

We all know that that is not the right way to live out our faith, but I'm sure that we all have thought about this loophole in our lives, and definitely we still use it when we consciously decide to sin, with the intention of going for confession later. But the stark contrast between the good thief and the other thief is the reality that I may reach that final day and not be able to repent, not able to recognise Jesus, not able to ask Jesus to "remember me when you come into your kingdom". Sin has the effect of darkening our soul, of covering our eyes. As St John says those who do evil will run away from good.
this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. - Jn 3:19-20
The last point of reflection that I had was on the word "Today". Another time that Jesus used the word "today" was when he told Zacchaeus "Today salvation has come to this house". Both times salvation was declared on a person, because of their words and action, but most importantly because of a change in their heart. In the good thief, we have one example of a man who at his dying humbly embraced Christ. In the other thief we also have a man whose heart was hardened that he mocked Christ even as he was dying. And in Zacchaeus we have one who while living encountered Christ and changed his life, and received salvation.

In our current lifestyle, we always want things immediately. We want the good stuff and we want it now. But yet when it comes to Salvation, we don't mind waiting. Maybe it is because we think that Salvation and the Kingdom of God is something associated with life after death or the last days. But in fact Jesus tells us "the kingdom of God is among you. - Lk 17:21". Don't wait any is the day.

The 3rd Word for tomorrow's reflection is
"Woman, here is your son...
Here is your mother."

Jn 19:26-27

Saturday, April 04, 2009

1st Last Word of Jesus - Father forgive them...

"Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing"
Lk 23:34
The first Last Word that Jesus spoke was to ask for forgiveness on our behalf. Not only was he asking for our forgiveness, but he was giving us the reason/excuse that we should be forgiven - because we do not know what we are doing. Jesus could say that about the soldiers nailing him to the cross, because they did not know him as the Son of God. But how does this apply to us. Don't we know him as the Son of God, as our Saviour, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thus when we sin, can we say we do not know what we are doing?

Yesterday we had the penitential service at CTK, and I found myself wondering whether the priest were hearing new terms for the sins being confessed. Such as:
Being economical with the truth
Deliberately misleading
Withholding information
These were the words being used to describe the actions of Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren Team in the Formula One race in Melbourne last weekend. When asked if they instructed Hamilton to slow down for the Toyota car to pass him, they said that they did not, despite having done so.

The many fanciful terms being thrown around to describe an act which is basically lying is in fact one of the ways that we try to bluff ourselves that our actions were really not that bad. In the past few weeks, the topic of confessions and sin has occurred a few times at the retreats and conversations with various people. Some have mentioned that they have no sin, no big sin or always the same sins.

I've been there and done that, and thus I can't fault them. We like to forget the bad that we have done, or more likely, we are not even aware of the many sins that we have and are committing. Like I shared earlier on the parable of the wicked servant I don't really know what my full debt/sin is.

Fulton Sheen calls it the ignorance of evil, and it is because of this ignorance that Jesus is asking the Father for our forgiveness. Often we are not aware of our sin, or we are deceived into thinking that we have not sinned, or we water it down by making it sound not as serious. There are other times that I'm not aware of the consequences of my sin, thus if I don't see the consequences, how can it be wrong? Jesus always criticised the Pharisees for exploiting the loopholes in the Law, and we too do that, by using our intellect and reason to worm our way out of our dirty deeds.

Talking about dirt, yesterday a priest shared a story of a wedding he attended, where the bride was eating Kueh Ko Swee, and as she bit into it, the brown sugar burst out onto her white gown. What a shock that might have been. Imagine if that had happen when you were wearing an old t-shirt that you use for painting the house. It wouldn't be much of a bother since the t-shirt would probably be dirty already. Fulton Sheen says that people living in dirt don't realise how dirty dirt is, similarly people living in sin don't recognise sin for what it is. It is only when we try to become clean, then the sin becomes more apparant. Like if I'm wearing a white shirt and eating laksa, I will definitely be more careful about not getting laksa sauce on my shirt. Just like after going for confession, there is the grace that makes me not want to sin and dirty myself. Thats why regular confession not only makes us reflect and aware of our sins, but helps us not to sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. - 1 John 1:8-10
The 2nd Word for tomorrow's reflection is
"Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise."

Lk 23:43

Friday, April 03, 2009

Seven Last Words of Jesus

Dying Jesus, let us ponder
Your last seven words, and wonder
At the love of God made Man.
This is the verse that we always sing at the Twelfth Station - Jesus Dies on the Cross. As a young boy, as far as I can remember, I wondered what these Last Seven Words of Jesus were that we were supposed to ponder. One day when I saw in the reflection passage for the twelfth station the line that says.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, saying,
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."
Lk 23:46
So the Jesus' last seven words must have been "into your hands I commit my spirit" I was quite proud of myself for "figuring out" those last seven words. (of course that was in the days before the internet, and before I ever bothered to do any research on church stuff)

But I could never ponder and understand why those last seven words were so important. Until I saw the book "The Seven Last Words" by Fulton Sheen. Only then did I realise that the "Words" were actually "Sentences" said by Jesus. A person's lasts words are normally what he feels really important to tell others. Such as "I love you" or "please forgive me". You can imagine Jesus in his agony on the cross, must have really used up his strength to leave us with these seven "words" to ponder on. So my Lenten project starting from tomorrow, will be to reflect, ponder and hopefully blog on one "Word" per day up to Good Friday. I invite you to join me, and send me a link to your blog if you decide to blog about it too.

The 1st Word for tomorrow's reflection is
"Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing"
Lk 23:34

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Florida Court Sets Atheist Holy Day

In Florida, an atheist created a case against the upcoming Easter and Passover holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians, Jews and observances of their holy days. The argument was that it was unfair that atheists had no such recognized days.

The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring, "Case dismissed!"

The lawyer immediately stood objecting to the ruling saying, "Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and others. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, yet my Client and all other atheists have no such holidays."

The judge leaned forward in his chair saying, "But you do. Your client, counsel, is woefully ignorant."

The lawyer said, "Your Honor, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists."

The judge said, "The calendar says April 1st is April Fools Day. Psalm 14:1 states, 'The fool says in his heart, there is no God.' Thus, it is the opinion of this court, that if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court is adjourned."

Happy April Fools!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

True Story

One day, a man went to visit a church..

He got there early, parked his car, and got out.

Another car pulled up and the driver got out and said,

'I always park there! You took my place!'

The visitor went inside for Sunday School,

found an empty seat and sat down.

A young lady from the church

approached him and stated,

'That's my seat! You took my place!'

The visitor was somewhat distressed

by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday School, the visitor went

into the sanctuary and sat down.

Another member walked up to him and said,

'That's where I always sit! You took my place!'

The visitor was even more troubled by this

treatment, but still He said nothing.

Later as the congregation was praying

for Christ to dwell among them,

the visitor stood up, and his appearance began to change.

Horrible scars became visible on

his hands and on his sandaled feet.

Someone from the congregation

noticed him and called out, 'What happened to you?'

The visitor replied, as his hat

became a crown of thorns, and a tear fell from his eye,

'I took your place.'


Solving one problem with another

Some of the news that I've read today brought about a small enlightenment and a wonderful analogy to explain the controversy over the use of condoms to prevent AIDS. Today's Today Newspaper had an article entitled "Texas considers allowing guns on campuses". Apparently some politicians are trying to pass a bill in Texas to allow students to carry concealed guns on campus, to prevent another Virgina Tech incident from happening. In the article, the VP of the campus puts it so gently that "permitting guns would introduce a new set of potential challenges to campus safety" at the Waco university, "and therefore we don’t believe guns on our campus are a good idea generally." In another article, faculty staff members were considering the situation of "passin out Fs and Ds with somebody in the classroom having a gun".

"It’s basically just allowing the people who have concealed weapons to protect themselves wherever they go" - Joe Driver who is championing the bill.
The logic here astounds me. He is recommending that because there is a danger of someone bringing a concealed weapon into the school, others should be allowed to bring concealed weapons to protect themselves. The logical solution would be to ban guns (which kill people) so that I do not need to be afraid of someone bringing a gun to school. My self-protection would be my fist, because all the other person has is his fist. But of course that is the thinking of someone who comes from a society that has not allowed private ownership of guns. But in the USA where owning a gun is a constitutional right, gun control has been a big controversial issue with parties lobbying on both sides. So the best solution they can offer, would to be create an environment of danger where anyone can carry a gun on campus. Luckily the smarter people are on faculty and not in politics and realise that this bill would allow teenagers who get drunk and rowdy, and not fully in control of their passions to carry arms, which may result in more harm than good.

To me, this proposal was similar to the approach towards trying to control the spread of AIDS through the use of condoms. Instead of Safe Sex, lets promote a Safe School where everyone has "protection", just that the protection here is a gun instead of a condom.

But one thing that I realise from the gun control issue is the US, applies to the condom/AIDS issue, is that both sides have different views of what is a Right. For some carrying a gun is a Right. For some to have sex with anyone they want is a Right. So if I think that having sex is a Right, I can't propose to another person that the best solution to preventing AIDS is not to have casual sex, because I will be denying that person his/her Right. All I can do is make it as safe as possible. A Harvard Researcher which agreed with the Pope used the term Risk Compensation, where if through the use of technology the risks can be lowered, people are willing to take a higher risk, which erases the benefits.

Problem is the solution is to promote a value - abstinence. In this day, values are the hardest thing to try to teach or to get people to live out. So the easy way out would be to allow sin to corrupt people and say that there is nothing we can do about, so lets make it as harmless as possible, thus promoting immorality. So instead of helping people be in control of their animal passions, we deem them as animals unable to control themselves and give them "protection".

I probably am naive about the situation in Africa, and all that the health workers are trying to do. But I am actually referring to the state of the "western/liberalised" society that has given up its values and embraced a hedonistic life. Something which the Harvard Researcher article mentioned about showed that maybe the western aid they are giving is doing more harm. By promoting condoms, they were promoting their liberalised mindset towards sex. As Nike's famous tagline - "Just do it".

Just like the gun issue, if everybody was carrying "protection", doesn't it increase the likelihood that the protection will be used. If they can see that allowing students to carry guns would result in more harm, why can't they see that promoting condoms is going to encourage casual sex, the very thing that is causing the spread of AIDS. But then again, not everyone sees casual sex as wrong.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Crying in the Chapel

I always amaze myself that I can listen to songs and not notice what the lyrics are. So even for songs that I like, I'm quite clueless of the lyrics and meaning of the song.

Today I saw the lyrics of an old Elvis song "Crying in the Chapel", and I finally realised what he was singing about. All this while I thought it was some love song or heartbreak song. Makes me wanna go to the chapel ;Þ

Crying In The Chapel

You saw me crying in the chapel
The tears I shed were tears of joy
I know the meaning of contentment
Now I'm happy with the Lord

Just a plain and simple chapel
Where humble people go to pray
I pray the Lord that I'll grow stronger
As I live from day to day

I searched and I searched
But I couldn't find
No way on earth to gain peace of mind

Now I'm happy in the chapel
Where people are of one accord
Yes we gather in the chapel
Just to sing and praise the Lord

You'll search and you'll search
But you'll never find
No way on earth to gain peace of mind

Take your troubles to the chapel
Get down on your knees and pray
Then your burdens will be lighter
And you'll surely find the way

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How much do I owe?

As I was reflecting on tuesday's Gospel passage on the parable of the unforgiving servant (Mt 18:21-35), the words "ten thousand talents" struck me. Looking at the footnote in the NRSV bible, it said that 1 talent was worth more than 15 years of wages. This sparked off the mathematician in me, to compare the amount the wicked servant owed the master with the amount his fellow servant owed him.

Checking the Bible Dictionary, I found that 1 talent = 6000 denarii.
This meant that the wicked servant owed the master
6,000 x 10,000 = 60,000,000 or 60 Million Denarii,
meaning he owed 600,000 times what was owed to him.

Now that the difference has been put into perspective, it basically means that it was a huge debt. This idea of debt brought to mind the conversation we had at the breakfast table, when we saw the front page of the Life section - Travel Now Pay Later. My first reaction was this was how people accumulate debts. We live in a culture of credit spending.
Buy Now Pay Later Fly Now Pay Later 0 percent credit

I was quite surprised when I typed in "travel now" into google, the autocomplete immediately brought up "travel now pay later" with 7 million websites. No wonder we are the financial state that we are in. Companies encouraging us to spend first and pay later with their 0% interest monthly instalments. Credit card companies tempting us with their freebies. And the one that bugs me the most, telemarketers calling me up to offer me ready cash up to 4 times my monthly salary. Mr Brown recently posted a video on his blog explaining how credit and greed brought about this whole recession.
Back to my reflection on the passage. The credit spending lifestlye we have accumulates big financial debts before we realise it. Similarly in my life I have also a credit sinning lifestyle. Since there is always confessions, I can sin now and confess later. Thus not realising the enourmous debt that I have accumulated. The NAB version says that the servant owed a "huge amount". I know that I owe God a huge amount, but I don't really know how huge that huge amount is. If I did, I think I would be like that servant begging for God's mercy.

This probably the wonder of Lent, through the readings, fasting and prayer, we realise our nothingness, our sinfulness, our indebtedness to God and realise that in our lifetime we will never be able to "pay back" his love for us and forgiveness. We can only pray that we may have the grace to be mindful of what we owe when we consider what others owe/hurt us and forgive.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why Wait?

Just saw an article on about Lent and Confessions. In it the writer talks about what has been happening in various dioceses in the US, and the steps that they are taking to encourage the Sacrament of Reconciliation, especially during ths time of Lent. Some examples are adverts on billboards and in the papers to encourage reconciliation with God, having 24-hour confession days, dedicating one evening per week for confessions and even the priest going out into the street to invite people in.

While reading it, it just brought to mind some things that I have realised about the Sacrament of Confession in the last few years since I started to take my faith more seriously.

Firstly that I was brought up with the "Tradition" that we have to go for confession twice a year - before Easter and before Christmas. Then I discovered that the Catechsim of the Catholic Church (CCC) states that we are required to go for confession at least once a year. But that's like the mininmum requirement.

As I continued to grow in my faith, I realised that my sins were the obstacles in my relationship with God. And I discovered the beauty of the sacrament and the graces that flowed from receiving it strengthened me on my journey and my struggle with sin. While it is definitely uncomfortable to have to confess our sins to another person (especially now that most of the priests know me), it makes me confront the sins in my life. No longer can I sweep them under the carpet as if they did not happen. By voicing out my sins, I'm bringing these sins into the light and not allowing them to have control over me - Confession sets me free.

Pope John Paul II made his confession daily, Mother Teresa weekly. While I'm not saying that we all have to be at that frequency now, it would be good to increase our frequency of confessions from the once or twice a year to maybe once a month or once in two months. And grow from doing it out of obligation (easter & christmas), but because it helps our soul in our relationship with God.

The second "Tradition" that I had from young, was that I had to go for my confession during the penitential service held in church before Easter and Christmas. I would never miss it, and if I missed the one in my parish, I made sure I went to the one held in another parish. Of course for me, it was because confession was a tradition to be done before Easter and Christmas, so if the parish organises a penitential service, that would be the best time to go for it. Whats more there were priests from other parishes, so I didn't need to go to my own parish priests. Also because all my friends will be there, and we will go for supper after that.

But with my change of mindset of confessions, came the realisation of why should I wait for the penitential service to go for my confession. There is confession available before every weekend mass, or daily at Novena church (WARNING: Long queues). Why add to the number of people coming on that one night? I still go for the penitential services though. Not for my confession, but to celebrate the many people who are reconciling with God, and to pray for them. Also because it is "Tradition".

For those who still need the small push to take the first step to go for confessions, watch this video of the song by Phillips, Craig And Dean - When God Ran. We may be taking a step towards God, but He is running towards us. Why wait any longer?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thank Him For Your Thorns

Saw this story on a friend's Facebook profile.

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.

During this Thanksgiving week, she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren't enough, her husband's company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What's worse, Sandra's friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer.

"She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder.
Thanksgiving? Thankful for what? She wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

"Good afternoon, can I help you?" The shop clerk's approach startled her.

"I....I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.

"For Thanksgiving? Do you want beautiful but ordinary," asked the shop clerk, "or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving 'Special?'. Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong." Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the shop clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."

Then the door's small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, "Hi, Barbara...let me get your order." She politely excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped; there were no flowers.

"Want this in a box?" asked the clerk.

Sandra watched for the customer's response. Was this a joke?

Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.

"Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile.

"You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again." She said as she gently tapped her chest.

"Uh," stammered Sandra, "that lady just left with, uh....she just left with no flowers!"

"Right", said the clerk, "I cut off the flowers. That's the Special. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet."

"Oh, come on, you can't tell me someone is willing to pay for that!", exclaimed Sandra.

"Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling much like you feel today," explained the clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery.

"That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk, "and for the first time in my life, had just spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.

"I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for good things in life and never to ask Him why those good things happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important.
I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort.

"You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."

Just then someone else walked in the shop. "Hey, Phil!"
shouted the clerk to the balding, rotund man.

"My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement...twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind me asking why she wants something that looks like that?"

"No...I'm glad you asked," Phil replied. "Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem. He rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from "thorny" times, and that was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us."

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"

"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life." Sandra said to the clerk. "It's all too...fresh."

"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don't resent the thorns."

Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. "I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.

"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."

"Thank you. What do I owe you?"

"Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year's arrangement is always on me." The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."

It read: My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."

Praise Him for your roses, thank Him for your thorns.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Perfect Number Seven

Having to prepare a session which includes the Seven Deadly Sins has been quite a good reflection exercise for me this Lent. Going deeper into the meanings of Pride, Greed, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, Envy and Anger has given me much fruit for thought with regard to my own relationship with God and with others.

I won't share my own discoveries and reflections here as that is not the intention of this post, but to encourage others to go and research on these Seven Deadly sins and reflect on them in your lives. Together with the corresponding Seven Virtues of Humility, Charity, Temperance, Chastity, Diligence, Kindness and Patience, it makes for a good spiritual exercise to go through this Lent. Maybe you can take one Sin & Virtue to reflect on each day of a week. Just Google "Seven Deadly Sins", and you will find a lot of information.

To add on to that spiritual exercise, there are Seven Penitential Psalms you might want to pray, one for each day. Although they are not directly related to any particular Deadly Sin, still they are good scriptural readings to reflect on our sinfulness and need for God. The Psalms are 6, 31(32), 37(38), 50(51), 101(102), 129(130) and 142(143) [Numbers in brackets depending on your bible]

Have a good week of reflection, not just on the Sins, but also on the Virtues, and pray for the grace to break out of the Sin and to cultivate the Virtues in your life. God Bless

Friday, March 06, 2009

Did You Pray For Grace?

Reflection from Word Among Us Lent 2009 Issue
As we are praying for healing, we also face a crucial question: If I am meant to embrace this cross, will I do it out of a “noble” position of faith or through an “empowered” position of faith? There is an important distinction here: A “noble” person who accepts a cross does so with good intentions, trying his or her best not to complain or give in to self-pity. While this is the right way to embrace the cross, if it is done solely out of our own noble intentions and human strength, there will likely be some degree of discouragement, anger, or self-blame attached. After all, some crosses are downright heavy, and their burdens are just too painful to bear on our own.

This is where the “empowered” position of faith comes in. God wants to give us his own divine grace to help us embrace the crosses of life. Jesus once told St. Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” These words so moved Paul that he was able to write: “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” ?(2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Embracing a cross with the help of God’s grace is quite different from nobly trying our best to accept a cross without grace. Those who embrace a cross through grace find themselves depending on God more and more each day. They find reserves of strength, trust, and surrender that they know are not their own but that come from a loving, merciful God. Rather than dwell on their own sufferings, they find themselves moved with compassion for other people, even as they themselves endure pain and difficulty. In short, they become more and more like Jesus.

This is the paradox of the cross: We accept suffering not because it is good and not because we like it but as part of our vocation as followers of Jesus Christ. These crosses can become opportunities for us to grow closer to Jesus and give him glory.
Saw this on my friend's blog and realised that it put across very nicely a point that I forgot to write down in the previous post due to the exciting discovery of the auntie walking through "walls".

The last two lines of the first paragraph sum up the feeling that I had when I attempted to keep my resolutions by my own strength and effort. Other than the realisation that these resolutions were to bring me closer to God. I also realised not to see my resolutions as means to reach an end, but as processes that I need God's graces to help me carry out to deepen my relationship with Him.

It brought to mind the question that my SD for my 8-day silent retreat kept asking me everyday. "Did you pray for Grace?"

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Excuse me, are you an angel?

Lent this year has been a surprisingly new experience for me. Normally I would approach Lent like one going for chinese tuition class, dreading and dragging my feet. But I'm not sure why this year, Lent looks to me like a 40-day retreat. A time to really spend time with my Lord and renewing my relationship with Him.

Another different thing about lent for me this year were my resolutions, or more like how I was approaching the carrying out of my resolutions. Year after year, I would begin with hope of keeping all my resolutions for the whole 40 days, but along the way, a minor hiccup would throw it all into disarray. Disappointment sets in, doubts start to seep in, and I'll be convincing myself that I've set the standard too high, or that I just don't have the discipline to see it through. But this year my focus for my Lenten resolutions has been on the end which is Easter. My resolutions should be preparing me spiritually for Easter and beyond. Much like a retreat builds up and culminates on a high, these 40 days and what I do in this time was to help me reach that high in my relationship with God. And that is a gradual process, not one that I can expect right from the beginning.

CTK Adoration RoomThe above realisation came to me one morning when I was in the adoration room (one of my resolutions to begin the day). The room was crowded, so there was no space for me to lean against the bench and face the Blessed Sacrament. So with my back to the side wall, I sat facing the door of the adoration room. While I was thinking through this issue with resolutions (obviously because I encountered a minor hiccup), one of the morning mass aunties got up and walked out, and what she did surprised and amazed me.

CTK Adoration Room

From the photo you can see that there is a curtain that shields the inside of the room from the eyes of people walking outside, forming something like a false wall. And almost everyone coming into the adoration room or going out would walk around it going through that small opening on the left, as if it was a real wall. But this auntie took the direct route to the door, walking to the right side where the curtain meets the wall, gently pulled it aside and walked "through" the "wall". This reminded me of the common phenomenon I observed in the church canteen. If there are two doors at the entrance, and one of it is open, everyone would walk out the open one, and nobody would open the closed one, even if it was crowded.

And it just occurred to me, that so often we see an obstacle in our spiritual journey, and we assume it to be a wall, or we fail to see that it is just a curtain and choose to go around it and avoid it. In actual fact the obstacle is not as difficult as it seems, but because there is the option of going around it, we choose it because it is easier.

I walked out of the adoration room, heart lightened, and encouraged to perservere on this Lenten journey. That night I was going for a meeting, and the girl who was to bring me to place of the meeting told me she went to the adoration room while waiting for me. So I decided to share with her this revelation that I had gotten in the morning. Her first reaction was "Oh my, are you an angel or something", because she had just been praying of some obstacles in her own life. That's the first time in my life that I've ever been called an Angel. Praise the Lord for sending me an Angel in the morning, and allowing me to be an Angel at night too.