Stay and Suffer

This writing comes from the heart of a relatively young person whom I have much to learn from.

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I am a recent convert, and after my baptism, decided to join a ministry. To my horror, there is much judgment and politics and my first reaction is to fight or flight. Fight is not really an option and flight is rather cowardice. Then a fellow brother-in-Christ came to me and suggested – there is a third option: why don’t you choose stay and suffer?

Stay and Suffer? You must be mad! Why would I submit myself to further harassment and humiliation? Why would anyone deliberately choose to suffer?  It is against human nature!!!

Or is it? As I cooled down and contemplated about it, there are indeed people who choose to stay and suffer.

Whether it is the mother who stay and suffer for her autistic son, or the wife who stay and suffer for her cancer stricken husband, or the son who gave up marriage to stay and…

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There was a time

Another beautiful piece. Praise God for Ambrose!

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There was a time.

There was a time when people said Singapore won’t make it. But we did.

There was a time when troubles seemed too much for us to take. But we did.

As the nation celebrates her Jubilee birthday, there seems to be an atmosphere of jubilance. So much so, that it is a little choking, a little forced, and a little overwhelming. It is as if, as Singaporeans, we have to soak into this atmosphere, that if we don’t, we aren’t Singaporeans.

There was a time, when I looked forward to National Day Parades. There was a time, I would stand up at attention to sing the National Anthem. There was such a time.

Make no mistake. I am not unpatriotic. I have taken part in National Day Parades before as part of a marching contingent years ago.

But somehow, the NDPs mirror our nation’s progress. Every general who…

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One more goes Home

In all these years, I have attended more funerals than birthday parties or even wedding ceremonies . . . I  served for a few years in the Lazarus Choir.  We sing. We read the Word. We pray for the souls of the faithful departed. I still attend funerals and I still go to wakes and the crematorium. It is always a reminder for me. One day, I too will go the way of the faithful departed.

I have attended a funeral with many priests and large numbers of people.  But it is  the same. One priest or a hundred priests, the Mass remains the same in its efficacy. I have also attended a funeral with only four persons – a couple, the priest and myself.  Today there were seven priests and hundreds of young men and  women. It was the lunch hour but  no one minded.

We had all come to send off a young man, and he used to be one of the active members in the youth groups. I did not know him personally. I do not even recall having seen his face. But I was there, and I wanted to be there at the funeral. It seemed meaningful for me to render support and to be there for the young people. One of them was shedding tears as the Mass went on. He was sitting just in front of the pew where I was, and he was someone I personally know. I thought it was good; it makes one more human. After all, we have blood coursing through our veins. We are human!

Twenty four going on to twenty five ( 1990 to 2015). At the end, we were given a slide show with lots of photos. As I gazed upon the young faces, I thanked God for the gift of the community. We are church. We are one. When one part is hurting, the other parts are affected. That is why so many had come today, and it was especially meaningful for several . The young man who gave the eulogy surprised me with his eloquence. His sharing of two stories was meaningful. He could say that he had known the deceased brother in Christ from childhood. They were neighbours and they had grown up together; so the eulogy proved to be meaningful.

(The following day, I wanted to give him a note of affirmation. He did speak with passion and he did well; and  I wanted him to  know that. Praise the Lord!)

Perhaps the point to ponder over is not to question how the young man had left us.  More than that, I ask myself: what ran through the minds of the young people present? A young man with whom I am acquainted was sitting in front of the pew I had chosen. He was weeping – silently. There were others too, and some did so without trying to hide the fact that they were sad. Tears flowed freely down cheeks, perhaps making the entire hour or more easier to share.

The young priest gave a powerful homily. How does one live out one’s faith? We are all so human. It is  never easy. It is always challenging. Let us not fool ourselves. Starbucks was where he used to go. Just across the road. Questions. Answers. Doubts. Promises and sacrifices.

I fully agree. Each day is a struggle. . . and rest will come only when the Lord summons. O death, where is your sting? O death, where is your victory? The most reassuring message is that when life’s journey is done on earth for a Christian, it is not ended. Life is changed. . . .

Better still, we are all on the way. Some have gone on ahead of us. We are  still on the way. Companions. With hands raised in praise to our God who is preparing for each a mansion in his heavenly kingdom, let us shout out loud

Our God reigns! He reigns forever and ever!

This evening, as I sit here typing this, a requiem mass is being offered up for this young man. How thoughtful! What a great gesture too!

Spontaneity

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A child is usually found to be

Unaffected

Untainted

Spontaneous

Natural

Free

Without reservations

Totally expressive

Let  the ones who have lost their childlikeness learn

Let those who are self conscious admire

What it means to be childlike

To them our Lord says

Keep not the little ones from Me

Praise God!

 

St Joseph, pray for us

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30-day Novena to St Joseph in honour of the years St Joseph spent with Jesus and Mary. [For Any Special Intention]

Ever blessed and glorious Joseph, kind and loving father, and helpful friend of all in sorrow! You are the good father and protector of orphans, the defender of the defenseless, the patron of those in need and sorrow. Look kindly on my request. My sins have drawn down on me the just displeasure of my God, and so I am surrounded with unhappiness.

To you, loving guardian of the Family of Nazareth, do I go for help and protection. Listen, then, I beg you, with fatherly concern, to my earnest prayers, and obtain for me the favours I ask.

I ask it by the infinite mercy of the eternal Son of God, which moved Him to take our nature and to be born into this world of sorrow.

I ask it by the weariness and suffering you endured when you found no shelter at the inn of Bethlehem for the holy Virgin, nor a place where the Son of God could be born. Then, being everywhere refused, you had to allow the Queen of Heaven to give birth to the world’s Redeemer in a cave.

I ask it by the loveliness and power that sacred Name Jesus, which you conferred on the adorable Infant.

I ask it by that painful torture you felt at the prophecy of Simeon, which declared the Child Jesus and His Holy Mother future victims of our sins and of their great love for us.

I ask it through your sorrow and pain of soul when the angel declared to you that the life of the Child Jesus was sought by His enemies. From their evil plan you had to flee with Him and His Blessed Mother into Egypt.

I ask it by all the suffering, weariness, and labours of that long and dangerous journey.

I ask it by all your care to protect the Sacred Child and His Immaculate Mother during your second journey, when you were ordered to return to your own country.

I ask it by your peaceful life in Nazareth where you met so many joys and sorrows.

I ask it by your great distress, when the adorable Child was lost to you and His Mother for three days.

I ask it by your joy at finding Him in the Temple, and by the comfort you found at Nazareth, while living in the company of the Child Jesus.

I ask it by the wonderful submission He showed in His obedience to you.

I ask it by the perfect love and conformity you showed in accepting the Divine order to depart from this life, and from the company of Jesus and Mary.

I ask it by the joy which filled your soul, when the Redeemer of the world, triumphant over death and Hell, entered into the possession of His kingdom and led you into it with special honours.

I ask it through Mary’s glorious Assumption, and through that endless happiness you share with her in the presence of God.

O good father! I beg you, by all your sufferings, sorrows, and joys, to hear me and obtain for me what I ask. [Here name your petitions or think of them.] Obtain for all those who have asked my prayers everything that is useful to them in the plan of God. Finally, my dear patron and father, be with me and all who are dear to me in our last moments, that we may eternally sing the praises of JESUS, MARY and JOSEPH. “A blameless life, St. Joseph, may we lead, by your patronage from danger freed.”

This prayer may be said during any 30 days of the year. I love this novena to St Joseph because it always makes me grateful and thankful for the events that have taken place. Imagine the love with which St Joseph showed from the moment he was chosen to take care of our Lord Jesus and Mother Mary. I love the many events mentioned, from the time Joseph was called to give up his will and to live in accordance to the plan of God. To St Joseph was given the task of taking care of both Baby Jesus and our Blessed Virgin Mary. To St Joseph was given also the joy of living under the same roof as our Blessed Lord and our Blessed Mother of God.

I remember a time when I was making a retreat. I had been told to visit the Holy Family at Nazareth. I remember too the time when my meditation was focussed on how Joseph could not get a room for our Lady with Child. Every door was shut in his face. When Joseph returned, I told him that I would like to try. I recall going and  having every door slammed in my face too. How bad I had felt! I remember crying. I remember too how I had then realised that it was not really me, a nobody, that people were rejecting. It was Christ, the Saviour of the world.

Lord, be praised! Thank you for this novena to St Joseph. Thank you for inspiring the one who has put this novena together. Praise God!

The photos show a statue of St Joseph the carpenter and the young Jesus. It is already old and broken. I picked it up from a building that had been demolished. Proper disposal of the statue involves burying it in the ground.  Praise God!

 

Pot Luck (2)

A meaningful time was had by all. I am so grateful to our Lord for the three hour gathering we had. Again, there was an abundance of food. I thank God for the generosity of all who came. This time I did not try to take pictures. We had lots of food. We had a fruit salad, with blue berries, kiwi fruit, dragon fruit, persimmon, carrots and roasted almonds. There was soup made with pork ribs, two kinds of rice (basmati and white) and chap chye (mixed vegetables with black fungus, mushrooms and what not). We also tucked in lots of chicken curry and deep friend salmon belly seasoned with some salt, pepper and another spice. My eldest sister baked a cake and made some dessert. She also got some wan tan noodles that were really delicious. The youngest one came with soya bean, curry puffs and some other snacks. All in all, I have to confess that I sinned today – Gluttony.

Lord, be praised for your divine providence! I had so much to eat and so much to drink as well. Chinese tea and herbal tea and coffee. . . . Praise the Lord!

The most important thing about this monthly gathering is the bonding. Although we don’t talk too much, it was good to be helping out with the preparation and the cooking, and then the eating. A sense of camaraderie was certainly present, and this can only get better.

One highlight of today was my little godson who came and spent time watching you tube videos on animals. He also made some clay models and left them behind without a trace of being attached to them. When he left, he told me to present them to my young friend.

She came, as agreed upon, soon after the rest had left. We had a swell time eating and sharing, and talking about what we were reading. Spiritual direction and other topics came easily in our conversation. But the best thing is that we had a time of praying together. It was, after all, time for Vespers. We  also had a short session of  ping pong praise. I started to praise God spontaneously and she simply followed. Like the game of ping pong, we raised our voices to praise God with gratitude and thanksgiving in our hearts. That was cool!

I enjoyed praying in the spirit with my young friend. She also helped me, in the two hours she spent with me, to do some tidying up of my cupboards. I am so glad that the cleaning up led to some clearance. I parted quite gladly with several items. I realise that I tend to keep things with the thought that I might need them or that I could always recycle them. In actual fact, the items I kept are useless. They have been collecting dust and I have not tried to use them. So, good bye to bad rubbish!

Praise the Lord!

 Next month we will all meet to celebrate the Birth of our Saviour. We will have our celebration on Sunday 21 December.  The fact that we have it on the calendar as 25 December is not so important. I say this because the Day our Lord came to earth is so crucial. It is important that we be ever grateful and never forget what He has done, and continues to do for us. So how can we forget that He came while we were still sinners, that He died and rose again to gain for us our salvation, that He loves us dearly, dearly…..Yes, God so loved the world that He sent us His only begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ. To all who believe, there is hope of eternal life. To all who believe, He gives us power to become kingdom people, and thus, to be children of God!

Onward Christian soul!

sail blowing

This sailing boat reminds me of our journey.  A faith journey. A leap in the dark. A courageous step forward day by day. There is no turning back. There is no hesitation. One moves on, confidently. One pushes on, knowing that one goes not alone. First we remember that we each have been assigned a Guardian Angel.

Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. . . .

One not only has the Guardian Angel but also the company of saints.

I believe in the communion of saints…. we say that in the Creed.

Praise the Lord!  

We have each other, all our companions on the way and as a family of God, we are the Church, the people of God, our Pope and the bishops and clergy and lay faithful….

Onward, Christian soul.. . . with courage!

And Jesus says: I am with you always, yes, to the end of time! Amen.