Tuesday, 31 March 2009

We are going green... not with envy but eco-friendly!

Wow! We just had a long community meeting amongst the students and I can say it was a fruitful meeting. One of the directives we had chosen to take is in line with what we did last Saturday (29th Mar 09). You might have read in the news that globally, people everywhere switched off their light for an hour.

You guessed it. We, in the seminary, did the same, switching off our non-essential lighting for an hour too. In addition, we prayed a rosary for the needs of the world.

In addition, at today's meeting, we have decided to have our categorized waste bins for paper, plastic bottles and aluminum cans. Though this is a small start to out eco-friendly effort, it is still a start nonetheless. It is said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I do pray and hope that the efforts of the community to conserve energy and be green continue on.

With this, let us remember our brothers and sisters who are deprived of their basic need because of one reason or another, and also pray that the people of the world maybe more concerted in their efforts to make the world a better place.

Remember the three 'R's

Reflections of the Seminarians' Retreat '09 (By Bro Joseph Zhang)

I Saw Jesus in him

We, the seminarians of St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary, have just finished our one week silent annual retreat under the guidance of Fr. Paul Goh (the assistant parish priest of the Church of St. Vincent de Paul). The things that touched me most during this retreat were: his familiarity with the word of God, his trust and reliance on God, and his humility. God allowed me to encounter Him by seeing Jesus in his priest.

In his introduction to the retreat, Fr. Paul Goh shared with us that when the seminary Father approached him and asked him to be the retreat master for this year he accepted the invitation and took it up as a challenge. He told us that he was only the loudspeaker of God in this retreat; the real retreat master is the Holy Spirit.

Many times during the retreat he told us that he did not know what to talk to us. He shared with us that before each talk he would spend long time in prayer asking God for inspiration and for guidance on the message that God wants him to speak to us. Jokingly he would tell us that all the things he talked were freshly cooked. Because of his trust and dependence on God each time he could share with us enthusiastically and with conviction. And his words were able to touch me.

What he shared with us was full of wisdom based on the scripture and his years of pastoral experience. He was very familiar with the scripture and many of the words that he spoke were from the word of God though he could not point out the exact books, chapters and verses that they are from. His frequent quotations of the word of God and his sharing of his pastoral experiences were like rain drops falling on and refreshing our hearts. “As the rain and snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty…” (Is 55:10-11) Fr Paul’s quotation of the word of God also spoke a lot to me.

In different occasions, Fr. Paul talked about the importance of humility. He always told us not to be proud, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk 18:14) Again on humility he quoted, “My son, be gentle in carrying out your business, and you will be better loved than a lavish giver. The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly, and then you will find favour with the Lord; for great though the power of the Lord is, he accepts the homage of the humble.” (Sir 3:17-20) Fr. Paul also told us that humility will make one sane and approachable. He not only talked about the virtue of humility to us, he lived it out.

He also shared with us the lesson he learnt as a priest by exhorting us, “Always live in the presence of God, prepare a sermon with prayer, read the word of God again and again and soak in it, proclaim the word of God and live out what we proclaim with faith, obedience, and humility.”

Although his talks were not very thematic in content he was very inspiring. On the fourth day of the retreat, I went as usual for the afternoon session. He started to talk. I did not know why but I sensed strongly God’s presence in him. I see Jesus living in him. I said to myself, “God is alive. There are holy priests in Singapore.” I praise God for this wonderful gift. I pray that all of us can be another Christ and live out the God-image in us by growing in Christ-likeness.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Vespers Reflection - Psalter Week 1 - Tuesday - First Week of Lent

Sometime I am asked the question, "Jo, do you trust God?", and almost immediately and unreservedly I would answer, "Of course I do!" Yet today whilst reflecting on Psalms 19 and 20 which speaks of the king's trust in God, I come to realize that inasmuch as that trust in God is seemingly a given, the real question that begs to be asked is, "When do I start trusting God?" or in another word, bluntly put, is, "When do i start letting go and allow God to take control?"

The kings of old in Psalms 19 and 20 placed their trust and certitude in God, and we too are invited to trust in God, and yes, sometimes we fear where this trust is leading us to, because it seems almost unknown and deep down somewhere in our hearts, we still want to be in control.

Sometimes I know where God is leading me to, but most of the time I do not know where this trust is leading me to, but I trust that God's love will lead me to where He wills and wants me to be.

Lauds Reflection - Psalter Week 1 - Tuesday - First Week of Lent

We are faced with words everyday. I can see it in my little black book on which I wrote this reflection, the words on our Divine Office which we will pray soon, and later we will face even more words when we have our lectures.

In Pslam 32, we are reminded of the type of words that God brings... "The word of the Lord is faithful", "By his word the heavens were made", "He spoke and it came to be, he commanded and it sprang into being". In short, God's words are powerful, and more importantly, it is life-giving.

We too are sharers of His word, and bearers of words. Let us consider how we have used words on one another. Does our words edify our fellow brothers or does our words destroy our brothers and one another? Let us pray and strive to be sharers and bearers of life-giving words to everyone whom we encounter.