Saturday, 28 February 2009

Good News for all Altar Servers !!!

Calling all Altar Servers out there! Is there one among you who seems to know all the rubrics of serving the altar? Someone who sets a good example and is a model whom you can aspire to?


The Serra Club of Singapore is have a competition for recognizing altar servers who have been exemplary in their service to the Catholic Church in Singapore. It is their way of showing their love, appreciation and encouragement for this special group of young friends of Jesus.

You can click on the posters above to bring you to their website where the details as well as the nomination form can be found.

Why are you still waiting? Go to the link, download the forms and start nominating right now! Closing date is 31st Mar 2009.


are you happy? :)

We seminarians/religious/priests are often asked the question:
“Are you happy in what you do?”
And I notice that some of us, realizing the reality that we’re always overtaxed with our studies/work/ministries, and that our life as disciples is not a rosy one, tend to give this typical reply:
“Well, we may not always feel happy in the worldly understanding of happiness, but we experience joy in what we do.”

Huh? Is this just a textbook answer? Are we just covering up the pains and struggles we experience in this way of life? If not happy then say not happy lah! So diplomatic for what?

In ministries, we encounter many problems – because we feel for the people and carry in our hearts their many problems in life, and it pains us to know they’re suffering so much. As if these external sources of pains are not enough, internally we struggle with our own problems, shortcomings, inadequacies, etc. And as seminarians in formation, some of us have to juggle all that with community living and of course needless to say, the pains of assignments and exams. Now, honestly, are we really joy-full? Is this happiness?

Well, it depends how we understand the terms ‘Happiness’ and ‘Joy.’
[Disclaimer: For the sake of clarity, we use the term ‘Happiness’ in a secular sense.]

We can of course refer to the dictionary and understand the technical definitions of these terms. Or we can also ask those people who always give the typical answer above for their perspective. But since I am the one writing this blog entry, you have no choice but to bear with my understanding and perspective of these two apparently overused terms :) My sharing is in the light of my limited experience in ministries and my life in these few years of seminary formation.

My mum has always been the one responsible for the upkeep of the house, from preparing meals to the laundry and all household chores. Now, let’s say that lately she is not able to do all these because of a recent hand surgery. And let’s say I really hate doing all these household chores. Now I have 2 options before me:
1. Forget about the chores and spend my time watching TV
2. Help mum upkeep the house by doing whatever needs to be done

Now at the superficial level, I know I’d enjoy myself if I make the first choice because I love watching TV, and would be feeling miserable should I decide to choose the second option.

However, at a deeper level, if I were to choose the first option, not only would I know that my enjoyment wouldn’t last too long, but my conscience would come and haunt me. Whereas if I were to decide to help mum with the household duties, I know I’d get a sense of peace within me although doing those things was challenging and not pleasurable at all for me.

The worldly understanding of happiness can be seen in the enjoyment I get when I spend my time watching my favourite TV shows. It is something I like to do and it feels good to satisfy my desire. But this pleasure is just a short-term gratification. It may even have a counter effect, especially when our conscience kicks in like the example given above.

On the other hand, joy can be found in the deep sense of interior peace and assurance I get when I help my mum with the household chores. I may not enjoy doing those things, but the consolation I experience is profound and lasting. It’s not a matter of doing the right thing, but a matter of being true to my identity as a son.

This analogy may be too simplistic, but I hope it helps us distinguish a bit clearer the difference between real joy and superficial happiness. I’m not saying that by being true disciples of Christ, whether lay or otherwise, we will not have a happy and enjoyable life. But if our Master himself doesn’t have a proper place to rest [cf Mt 8:20, Lk 9:58], who are we to ask for more? If this was a musical, I’m quite certain that Jesus would be singing, “I beg your pardon? I’ve never promised you a rose garden!”

My emphasis here is not whether we will suffer or be happy. What is more important is that as long as we are faithful to our identity and be the person we’re called to be, we will experience real joy, one that the world cannot give. This is what keeps most of us going and smiling :)

So are you joy-filled in what you do?
Or are you merely happy?

Reflections on Psalm 42

"Like the dear that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life; when can I enter and see the face of God?

My tears have become my bread, by night, by day, as I hear it said all the day long: 'Where is your God?'

These things will I remember as I pour out my soul; how I would lead the rejoicing crowd into the house of God, amid cries of gladness and thanksgiving, the throng wild with joy.

Why are you cast down my soul, why groan within me? Hope in God; I will praise him still, my saviour and my God.

My soul is cast down within me as I think of you, from the country of Jordan and Mount Hermon, from the Hill of Mizar.

Deep is calling on deep, in the roar of waters: your torrents and all your waves swept over me.

By day the Lord will send his loving kindness; by night I will sing to him, praise the God of my life.

I will say to God, my rock: 'Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning oppressed by the foe?'

With cries that pierce me to the heart, my enemies revile me, saying to me all the day long: 'Where is your God?'

Why are you cast down my soul, why groan within me? Hope in God; I will praise him still, my saviour and my God."


Memories have two purposes. It either reminds us of the good times that had since past and thus reinvigorating us in the present, or it reminds us from repeating past mistakes and thus preventing a perpetuating of errors. Both way, memory is good and it is a gift from God.

In Psalm 42, the Levite (who is in exile in Babylon) recalls the wonders that God had done despite him being in a state of desolateness, and how in that recalling of past memories, it made him cry out in hope despite the hopelessness that was presented before him. It must have taken tremendous amount of faith for the Levite to cry out in such situation, and most of us would greet his hope with wonder and amazement!

Are we able to recall the wonders that God had done and are still doing in our lives? God has gifted us with memory and it is indeed a powerful tool that He had placed within us, and let us recall as the Levite did, especially during the times when the goings get rough and tough, be it in our lives, relationships, studies, work and decision makings.

God is ever near and present to us. Just call out to him! For indeed "Why are you cast down my soul, why groan within me? Hope in God: I will praise him still, my saviour and my God!"

Friday, 13 February 2009

Coincidence or a sign of Hope and Blessing.....

Something happened 151 years ago......

Our Blessed Mother appeared to a young girl, Bernedette, in Lourdes, a small town in France. In our seminary, if you have noticed, we have a grotto dedicated to this aparation of Mother Mary.

Two days ago, we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and there was something different at the grotto...

The flower bed (more like the grass bed) directly in front of the statue was usually with any blooms but when I went to open the main gate early in the morning, lo and behold ! I saw not one but two flowers, fully bloomed and beautiful.

Is this a coincidence or is it a sign of the confirmation of the affections and blessings of Our Lady on her seminarians here..... only you can decide..... all I can be sure is that it made my day and showed me a little glimpse of the immense beauty of the Lord.