Saturday, 31 July 2010

God's Gifts

When God created people, He made us packaged with different strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has a particular area of strength - be it to play the piano, to cook, to play basketball, to listen to others' woes, etc. He meant for us also to love Him. And in loving Him, we are called to use our gifts to serve Him not only in different ministries in the church but also in the lives of others. When we serve others out of our love for God, we are serving Him. What is the use of being given gifts when we hide them in the cupboard or use it partially in the name of "modesty" or simply out of laziness? 

When we realise that our gifts and talents have been given to us for a specific purpose and when we grow in our love for God, and thus, develop an enthusiasm and yearning to serve God, we will act responsibly by using our talents for His glory. When we realise our gifts without growing in our love for God, we will only what we've been given to glorify and beautify ourselves as if we were the benefactors of our own gifts. There will not be lasting fruits from such acts. Needless to say, there will not be real fulfilment and lasting joy within our hearts. We will be left empty unless we empty ourselves for God who can then nourish and fill us entirely. 

This weekend's 3 readings all warn us about setting our sights on things that seem to matter but essentially, by God's standards, don't. Jesus's parables are applicable to us even in our times, 2000 years after Him. What is the point of spending our lives building up a career, earning big bucks but in the midst of it, foregoing a whole lot of other things that are far more lasting and life-giving? It does not mean we slack, go without a job or do badly in our careers. Rather, it tells us to draw the line. It tells us that while we go about our daily work, we must strike the balance to know that while we can build up a huge bank account, when we pass on from this life, this huge bank account will then cease to be ours to own but will come into the possession of someone else. 

Why then do we spend so much time at work that we neglect our family, our children, our parents, our friends, our God and most of the time, ourselves too? Why do we work so hard that we have no time and energy to serve God, to nourish ourselves spiritually, to pursue our hobbies, or simply to rest? Why do we, in the name of being successful, tell lies to cover up our mistakes, back stab and play politics, all of which robs us of our conscience? If we realise what is really important to us, if we realise WHO we are ultimately returning to and if we realise the "nothing" but our lifetime of deeds that we can bring along on our judgement day, then perhaps, our choice of activities and attitudes towards them would take a whole new paradigm shift to be more God-centred and loving. 

31 July 2010
(It's the Feast of St. Ignatius)

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Relativity of Goodness

What is good or bad may seem to be relative and subjective to many. There are countless and varying individual, personal interpretations about what is good, what is bad. Then, as we see in the media created by society, there is the secular world's definition too. To the slimming companies, being slim is something good and all people who aren't should go to their centres to lose weight. And so it applies, too, to the gyms and fitness centres. To the top-notch restaurants, satisfying the taste buds is a privilege we need to pay a great deal for. The list goes on.

For Catholics, there is no confusion or disparity. We have one united teaching of good and bad. By whose standard and benchmark do we follow? It is not ours but that of Christ. Being Christians, we take our example from Jesus Himself. He is our perfect role model for goodness. What He does not advocate, is naturally bad. But as finite creatures, we cannot entirely know the full extent of His goodness. We can only slowly discover as we get to know Jesus more through prayer and meditation. By the granting of the Holy Spirit upon us, we have a conscience to tell us what is right and wrong. We take the examples of the saints and holy people whose lives touched many and converted sinners to followers. We take the examples of Jesus Himself and also we learn from His teachings to tell apart right from wrong. The dilemma faced with is more of the obedience and discipline to do what's right and not do what's wrong rather than a lack of knowledge of it. 

The tricky thing about our conscience is that while God has implanted it into all our hearts, over time, we can choose reasons to justify our wrong acts or excuse our misdeeds. This dilutes our conscience bit by bit. E.g. telling a white lie to prevent someone from getting hurt. Lying is wrong. There is no exceptions. Lying is hiding the truth in the dark for whatever "good" intentions we may have. What is hidden and kept in the dark cannot see the light. We are responsible for revealing truths. It is the other person's responsibility to handle the truths and we can assist the person in our support, encouragement and acceptance. When the conscience is diluted, we can only reform it by repentance, constant prayer and the pure intention to want to do good. 

Perhaps we need to make a stand for ourselves. We need to make a firm decision on what and whose standards of goodness we are following. Is it the world's, ours, someone else's, our family's or God's? Without a firm and right stand on this, we are not equipped to face the moral challenges of the world we live in. We will be fishing with a broken net, or like a child learning to ride a bicycle without the 2 supporting wheels. We are bound never to catch anything; we are bound to fall, to fail. 

28 July 2010

Sunday, 25 July 2010

God Gives The Best

"What father among you, if his son asked for a fish, would hand him a snake? Or if he asked for an egg, hand him a scorpion? If you then, evil as you are, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

God gives us what is best for us, which is not necessarily what we ask of Him. Fr. Philip Heng,S.J. said in his homily this evening that if God were to answer all our prayers, we will have a lot of conversions to the faith but none who really take an interest in the relationship with God. All will be superficial believers. Truly, by our infinite wisdom, in the absence of proper guidance, we will tend to choose things we want that are superficial and materialistic, e.g. wealth, luxury, good looks, etc. All these do not benefit us one bit. For us to accept God's will, which entails we will not get everything we want, we need to acknowledge our limitations and be humble about it. Only then can we allow ourselves to trust in what God wills for us and accept with open and obedient arms what He gives us in our lives. 

If we trust that God loves us, then we will trust that what He gives to us are the best we can have. Not perfect but the best for us. Many times in life, we want what is perfect - the perfect spouse, job, house, car, parents, siblings and thus, expect everything to be in harmony. But humans are imperfect and so are the things produced by humans. Expecting our parents to never argue or fight is not realistic. Expecting our spouses to love us the way God loves us unconditionally and infinitely is asking them to be God. It just cannot be. 

Look at our parents. No matter how imperfect they are, God has given them, of the millions and billions of parents in the world, to us. He probably went down the long list of names of parents before He picked our moms and dads for us. Look at our siblings. No matter how many times they have said nasty things to us or they were our parents' favourites over us, God still gave them, over none or all the other people in the world, to us. He must have hand-picked them cos they were just the best for us. Hard to believe? For many families, where sibling rivalry destroyed the peace of their families, it is hard to believe or comprehend. But to trust is to trust 100%. Trusting 99.9% is no longer called trust. It is man's failings to choose God as their focal point in life that creates unhappiness, disharmony and hatred. 

Let's begin first with the family. Take a good look at our family members and recognise their imperfections. Yet, look beyond to accept that our limitations disallow us from seeing God in them. Yet another step ahead, pray for God's graces to recognise and accept that though imperfect, these people who we cannot choose right from birth, have been given to us by God. They MUST be the best for us. How do we make our daily choices in response to these family members to bring peace, joy and love within the family? Perhaps, God meant for us, precisely, to have this variety of characters in our families to teach us the ways to be instruments of peace, joy and love. Are we teachable to learn? 

25 July 2010

Friday, 23 July 2010

Focusing on Others or Self

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
This is exactly what (though not exhaustive) makes a good friend. A good friend focuses on the other party and not on himself. He is always on a lookout for his friend rather than for himself. He is always there to console rather than needing consolation.

To seek consolation directs attention to oneself, as opposed to seeking to console, which entails focusing out our attention onto others. To seek consolation is something we do almost everyday. At work, when we are facing some difficulties or when we cant see eye to eye with the management or customers, we feel ill treated and that justice is not done, we head out for lunch, tea time and we start to gossip and complain about our displeasures. Having others complain about the same people or event as us gives us consolation. Having others empathize with our unhappiness makes us feel consoled. The energy in us is focused on gaining attention and easing the negativities within us, which would actually dissipate on its own too over time. Hence, it serves no purpose and brings no life to anyone whatsoever. 

Wanting, instead, to be a source of consolation to others would take on a 180deg change in mindset. This time, it directs all our energy and attention onto others. We make ourselves available to others in need in the spirit of charity. We set out to ease the sadness and loneliness others may feel in their adversities. We convey God's message by our consolation to others that God has not abandoned them. We extend love to them and make them feel that all is not hopeless; God has seen them and their worries and will take care of them. When we seek out to console, we are saying "yes" to being God's instrument of love, peace and joy. What better and more satisfying purpose is there than to bring back a smile upon another's face; to know that we have made worth our lives for the betterment of another? What gives us a stronger reason to be alive? It does not mean that we ourselves have lives filled with roses. It just means we've made the choice to carry our crosses; not lament or whine about it or boast about it to gain attention, but to see our neighbours as important as ourselves. It doesn't mean that if we don't seek attention and consolation, that we do not love ourselves enough. In fact, it's the contrary. If we really love ourselves, we would go all out to ensure our happiness and if we are really honest to ourselves, we would recognise that by being the source of joy, peace and love to others, only then can we be joyful, at peace and feel loved ourselves. 

It all coincides with the later part of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, "It is in giving that we receive." 

23 July 2010

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Every Breath We Breathe

Today, someone got killed on the road. It was not because of a traffic accident or any fault of his but he was crushed under a fallen tree upon his car. If we were the family of this man, when we get a call out of a sudden to inform us that this family member has met with such a tragic end, what would be our reaction? "Devastation" comes to my mind; a feeling of disbelief, perhaps. It would take a long while to first absorb the truth, then accept the truth by force and then go through the whole grief process. It sounds like a very technical process here but in reality, we know in our hearts that the realm of emotions that will strike us would be so immense and intense and we know we never want to be found in such a situation. 

For one, no one will ever know what is to come, what is to happen to us or anyone we hold dear to our hearts. We will never know when anything bad would happen to. It teaches us to always say our goodbyes cos we will never know when it'd be our last. It teaches us to always appreciate the people around and never take for granted their presence, even if we've been pretending that their presence is so insignificant in our lives. It teaches us to always be our best towards these others. It teaches us the urgency to say, "I forgive you" and to seek forgiveness for our own faults. It teaches us that the moment to love is not when my anger has subsided but essentially, the moment is NOW. But we cannot possibly allow ourselves to learn the easy way by others' sad encounters if we do not reflect and come to a deep realisation of 1) how precious our love ones are to us 2) how unpredictable life is 3) if someone's father, husband, brother and son can be killed in an instant without warnings, so can ours. 

It also brings to mind our own selves. No one put a "guarantee" stamp on our birth certificate that we would live till 80 or 50 or 30 for that matter. No one knows how long their lives will last too. We never know when is the day, the time, the place, the moment that we will be called to meet our Maker. For the fact that I am typing this now, God is giving me breath after breath. It is easy to breathe in and out so many times in a minute. It is easy to have our lungs taking in all that oxygen. When we listen to our breathing, do we imagine what it'll be like if after this next breath we take, there will not be another "next"? How many things we have dreamt of doing, words we dreamt of saying, successes we have dreamt to achieve? 

Can we find ourselves praying every morning, afternoon and night, thanking God that we are still alive? Or have we also conveniently taken our own lives, our own continuous breaths for granted? If we but live every moment as if it were our last; the end; no more chances anymore, would we still make the decisions we have been making? Would we still hold on to anger and refuse forgiveness? Would we still reject someone in need of our help? Would we turn a deaf ear and feign ignorance towards a person who needs acceptance, love and a friend? We cannot tell our time and certainly cannot fix the details of our death (unless a suicide). We cannot say we are going to die on this day, at this particular time and thus, from now till 5 minutes before this time, I will not be bothered if I'm leading my life well or otherwise. What makes us think that now isnt the start of that 5 minutes? Instead of being caught unprepared and unwilling, why don't we grab every breath that God allows us to take and live out our lives to the fullest? Only then will we always, at all times, be ready to meet our Maker. 

20 July 2010

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Drain to God

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From the homily sharing by Fr. Heng  on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, I would like to extract this: 

There is a story of St Augustine of Hippo, the great philosopher and theologian, one day walking along the beach as he was pondering on the mystery of the Trinity. He passed a child who was running to-and-fro from the sea to the beach trying to scoop buckets after buckets of sea water and pouring it into the hole that he had dug. Being curious St Augustine asked the child, “What are you trying to do?” The child replied, “I am trying to fill this hole with the sea.”
We all know that what the child is trying to do is an impossible task because it is humanly impossible to empty the billions and billions of gallons of sea water into a hole with a small bucket. First, the bucket is too small. Second, it will take all eternity to do so. Likewise, if we were to rely on our own limited human capabilities, like the child relying on his small bucket, it would be impossible for us finite human beings to try to understand fully the infinite mystery of God in the Trinity, with our small minds.
We know that it is impossible for the child to fill the hole in the beach with the sea through the buckets of water that he scoops from the sea. However, if he were to dig a drain to connect the hole to the sea and allow the sea water to flow in and fill up the hole, then in some way he is able to fill his hole to the brim with the sea. Likewise, if we want to be filled with the mystery of God’s Truth, we must also, with God’s grace, try to “dig” into His mystery and be connected to God through the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent us after His Resurrection. The more fully we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our minds and hearts with its Truth, the bigger would be the hole we will be digging to allow the “sea” of God’s infinite mystery to fill us with its Truth so to speak.

God is the ocean and the emptiness in our lives is the hole we are trying to fill. The meaningless activities in our schedule is like the gas we are trying to fill this hole up with. As soon as we try to pour this gas into the hole, it escapes back into the air. What's left is the empty hole - the same emptiness and void in our hearts. 

Many people, after school or work, return home, switch on the computer, go onto Facebook, chat online, play games, watch movies, tv dramas, etc. A living testimony is myself. Boredom overwhelmed today and no matter how many games I played, it just could not give any concrete joy, peace or meaning. Nor did it succeed in ridding the boredom. Read a magazine to pass time and I fell asleep on it. I was so tempted to drive out to buy the Nintendo Wii!! I pretended that all these would get me pass the boredom and empty feelings but I knew well enough they wouldn't. How unwise and unloving of me to refuse myself the connection with God. How foolish of me to block the drain I had begun digging and prevent the "sea" to fill this empty "hole". 

The more years we spend on earth, the more we come to know of what can fill our lives and what cannot. But we can also grow in our ability to live in self denial of this fact. At each dawn, it is yet another opportunity God gives to us to build this drain and connect with Him so that He can guide us and reveal Himself to us and so that we may grow to love Him and walk in His ways. Pray for wisdom and faithfulness to dig this connecting drain and to clear it of leaves and trash that clogs it all so frequently, so that God's teachings, message, peace and joy can continuously fill our hearts, minds and souls; that this emptiness will be filled to its brim and remain full always.

19 July 2010

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Friendship or Acquaintanceship

Imagine this. You went to the book store today and bought a copy of "Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew". In all eagerness to learn about his life and the stepping stones he laid to path out his successes, you picked up the book as soon as you got home and started reading about his birth, growing up days, family background, schooling, beliefs, values, words of wisdom, pitfalls, challenges, and then onto the overcoming of the difficulties, rising above adversity and hardships, etc. You experience a whole spectrum of emotions from moments of admiration to respect to an apparent understanding for this person you've seen so much of on the screens, heard of and even studied about in the history books. The knowledge you have of this person called Lee Kuan Yew has increased exponentially with all the facts, figures and accounts recorded in the book. You may even memorise all the details. Wow!! This person you have had no direct encounter with is suddenly living in your mind and admiration. But do we really know the minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew? Perhaps, from the book, we would only know about him. We would only truly know him if we work with him, interact with him or live with him. 

An answer to the questions in my previous entry...

In the same way, when we base our faith in Jesus and our understanding of Him on, solely, the bible, then we can only get to know about Jesus. We can read up about Him, study His life, analyse His values and teachings, formulate His family ancestry and traditions and know every detail about him as far as it has been past down the generations. Are these knowledge and information sufficient to fuel our faith in Him? Would He really matter to us and would we feel of this Jesus as someone who is highly significant in our lives? 

We all have been through school, made friends that have been demoted to mere acquaintances, and along the way, sticking by several close friends. At some point in our lives, we will see familiar faces in the obituary section of the papers. We will see names that ring a bell and we will see names that make us reminisce. Needless to say, unless we have walked through life and have braved through life's ups and downs with a particular person, and whose life intertwines with ours year after year, we will not feel very much with the person's departure. Within a family, at a funeral wake, we don't see every single relative of the deceased mourning and weeping. Those who do so are the ones closer to the deceased. Their paths crossed, their lives intertwined. They shared a special relationship, one with interaction, communication and love. 

Why doesn't God mean much to us even though we know right well He should mean more than the world to us? Why can we know of His love for us and yet go on making daily decisions as if He never existed? Why is it such a challenge to just remember Him throughout the day? Many times, we choose a whole load of other activities over spending 15 min a day in silence with Him, and there is never a lack of events to justify our lack of time. In the first place, there needs to be a relationship with God; interaction, communication and through a consistent persistence in prayer, listening to God in that silence and hearing His instructions for us. As God reveals Himself to us in His time, in His ways, we will come to know this God for real, not for what is written in the bible or any other books, not for what others tell us about Him but for who He really is to us, individually, personally. And it is only when we've come to know Him, walk with Him, in friendship, can we fully take an interest in this new found friend. It is when our lives and His intertwine in a two-way relationship can we fully come to the realisation of the significance of His passion and death and acknowledge the importance of Him in our lives. Then, only, will His sufferings have any impact on us and will His love stir in our hearts. 

When a child asks another, "Can I be your friend?" and the latter accepts the request, they do not automatically know what to say to each other or enter into a close friendship. They have to get pass the initial awkwardness, uncertainty, shyness and apprehension, open up, communicate, find out more about each other and then little by little, establish their understanding and acceptance of each other. Our friendship with God is as such. In the beginning, it is odd, uncertain and we will struggle to find a comfortable way of interacting with Him but we must pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us, move us into stillness, fill us with God's presence and to reveal God to us. And we can form friendships with Saints we can relate to and through them, we be inspired by their holiness, thus creating a bridge between us and God. Not forgetting, Mary is always here for us, to intercede for us. Implore her help to be our connection to her Son. 

18 July 2010


Friends are placed into our lives for specific purposes. They help us along in our daily struggles and provide the companionship we need as social creatures. They extend acceptance to us and make us feel loved. Close friends are those who have shared with us a friendship that stood the test of time and have braved through the furnace and thereby, transforming what was unstable and vulnerable into a firm relationship that is hardy and solid. Close friends know us inside out - our good and bad sides. They love us for the good in us and accepts the bad too. They are well aware of our limitations and shortcomings but have chosen against judging us. Instead, they are patient with our failings, forgiving and gracious enough to still love us for who we are. 

In the same way, Jesus is such a close friend. The thing is, this friendship is not always mutual. He is always a close friend to us but are we such a close friend to Him? Not that He has shortcomings we need to be patient about, forgiving or gracious towards but are we there to walk with Him in His sufferings by the crosses we face daily? In short, in the face of our crosses, do we willingly carry them and walk on with the suffering Jesus or are we the kind of friend who is only there when there're personal benefits and who abandon Him when the going gets tough? Do we accept what He wants of us or do we do as we please? Do we consider His feelings first in the things we do or do we make our decisions solely on our own whims and fancies? 

Two people are deciding on a dinner place. One is craving for international buffet and the other is craving for local delights at a coffee shop. If both insist on satisfying their own cravings, they will end up having dinner on their own. Similarly, if we insist on living life our way based on our wants and desires, then we will end up living our lives alone; not because we have been abandoned by God but because we refuse to trust in God's ways and be obedient to His will. We ourselves deny God of the friendship He gave us the freedom to choose. And the further we walk away from this friendship with God, the least satisfied we are behind the mask we put up and the harder it is to build back the broken friendship when we one day decide to turn back to Him. Above all, we would really be hurting this Person who has the purest of love anyone could have for us. It is sadder and more painful than a husband or wife cheating on each other, than a son disowning his own mother, than a mother witnessing the death of her baby, than a child becoming an orphan. God wants us as His friends, like how a mother yearns to watch life unfold in the tiny child she has just borne, like how a child yearns for his parents' love. Such passion, hope and intensity in the longing, with arms outstretched. How are we going to respond to this call to friendship? By not making a decision to respond, we have already made a decision to ignore and play indifferent. How agonizing it is a feeling to be left hanging and waiting for an answer. But God knows not to wait for answers. He knows our answer already. He only waits for us to change our minds and start taking seriously this friendship. 

How do we build a friendship with Jesus?
Can we truly love Jesus if we do not have this friendship with Him? 
What happens if we want Jesus to mean the world to us but honestly, we know it in our hearts, embarrassed as it could make us feel, we just cannot feel this importance of this Jesus? 

18 July 2010

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Searching for Meaning

Everyone searches for a deeper meaning in life. The things we do are our attempts to find our purpose - looking good, feeling good, eating awesome food to please our taste buds, climbing up the corporate ladder, buying a big house, driving a cool car, etc. Perhaps, these things can give us some "happiness" but such feelings are short-lived. When we buy a car, we feel good driving it. Days may pass and we're still on the high. But as months and years go by, we don't feel that initial zest towards the car, especially if another newer model has caught our attention by then. 

We search for this deeper meaning to feel the sense of purpose in our lives in the malls, pubs, discos, at the beach or spa, etc. The funny thing is that if the mall were to provide us with this meaning, we would have found our meaning on our first visit. If the pubs could offer us the meaning to life, we would have found it the first time. Need we keep going back again and again to search again? Or is the "purpose" so short-lived that it cannot last a lifetime? 

Perhaps we've deliberately denied our realisation and hid it in our UNconscious that these places and activities really do not lead us to our life-purpose discovery. Why search for happiness in places and activities that cannot give substantial and long lasting happiness? If our life's purpose is to stand the test of time, then it must be found in the one source that has stood the test of time. What other source is there but in Jesus? In Him, who was, who is and who is to come, through all eternity, can we find our purpose. It is He who has put us in this world for a reason. There is something out there in this world we were meant to contribute in for His kingdom building. And we know it right well that it is when we've found God's reason for our existence and answer to that call to live out His purpose for us can we find peace and true satisfaction and fulfilment. It is then that we can really live a life fully lived. We have to seek our purpose in the direction of God and let Him lead us to His truth and will. 

15 July 2010

Monday, 12 July 2010

Shepherd of My Soul

Shepherd of my soul
I give you full control
Wherever you may lead, I will follow
I have made the choice to listen to your voice
Wherever you may lead, I will go

Be it in a quiet pasture or by a gentle stream
The shepherd of my soul is by my side
Should I face a mighty mountain or a valley dark and deep
The shepherd of my soul will be my guide

When we are lost and every step seems to be wrong, take strength from this shepherd who will lead His flock. When we are feeling helpless that things are at its end with no way of turning back, focus on this shepherd and hold on to faith. When we are feeling tired and drained out, rest in the presence of this harmless, loving and tender shepherd. When we need a shoulder to weep our hearts out on, rest on the compassionate and understanding shoulders of this shepherd and cry it out. Deny no more the hurt and pain within. Face up to what's been buried deep under the layers of dust, dig them all up so that we may give it proper burial. When we feel that all we need is for someone to be there beside us, to hold us and to understand without a word uttered or a judgement passed, Jesus is always there to hold us firmly in His mighty yet gentle and accepting arms. Why look upon man for peace when man is not the source of peace? Why look upon man for understanding when man seek to be understood themselves? Why look upon man for happiness when happiness is not man's to give? Look to Jesus for what the world hasn't the capacity to provide. He may not point out the direction in our time but in His time, He will. We need patience. 

12 July 2010

Thank You Buddy

Special thanks to my buddy Jared for taking time to photoshop the photo taken at San Damiano, and dont know what else he did to the picture... 
But it's up and looking far better than when it was first up. 
God bless my buddy

Saturday, 10 July 2010


The task of doing and saying what God wants instead of what we personally want is truly very difficult. Naturally, our minds, which are always grinding with thoughts, will direct us to think about something, be it to say or do or just a mere thought. How easy it would be if we had a switch to turn our brains off and on whenever necessary. Without this switch, it is a skill to master over time. 

Being able to do what God wants takes a total surrendering to Him. It requires a lot of self-denial. When one wants to do God's will but the mind points to another direction, one must deny oneself and pray for the grace to stop thinking and let God take over. 

What is surrendering? In a war, to surrender to the enemy would mean more than just raising the white flag. It is an acknowledgement that we cannot win the war, that we are less powerful and able, that the enemy is far stronger and superior than us. We know that we are at their mercy and they can use their authority over us to do whatever they want of us. If we retaliate further, we will surely be punished. It is a total submission to the enemy's authority over us. They can choose to let us free, enslave us, force us to do a whole load of things if we want to keep our lives. 

The difference between surrendering to an enemy in a war and surrendering to God is that He is not our enemy but our help. But what's similar is that when we surrender to Him, it really means to let Him take complete control over our lives. We accrue to Him entire authority over us, that our lives no longer is ours to keep but His to use. Without the knowledge and acknowledgement that God is the superior Being, far more powerful than we ever are, we can never entrust ourselves to this God in total submission. And it is a humbling process that we need to go through for us to be able to submit to anyone. To acknowledge God as superior, we need to first acknowledge our failings, weaknesses and limitations. We need to be humble, to strip ourselves of all traces of vanity, pride and falsehood. We need to get real of who we really are with the wisdom that God cannot be fooled; even if we may fool the world about what lies in our deepest corner of our hearts, God sees it all and knows it all. 

Surrendering to God is a total letting go of oneself. Without letting go of oneself, there is no space within us for God at all. God cannot possibly enter into our hearts if our hearts are so full of ourselves. In all humility and honesty, empty our hearts completely of things of this world that cannot stand the test of time, and then let God fill these hearts with His love, goodness and peace. 

Friday, 9 July 2010

Giving & Receiving


I got this from Br Adrian Danker's blog

In the prayer written by St Francis of Assisi, one of the lines read "It is in giving that we receive". 

How is it that we receive when we give? Perhaps it's similar to the saying that we can only love if we have received love. We know love when we have experienced love. We know pain when we have experienced pain. In extending of our selfless love to others, we become more familiar with what this love is like and when we receive it, we are not blind towards it and are able to recognise it and thus, receive it. Many people are loved but few are really able to receive of that love. "Receiving" is not just about being at the other end of a giver's act but more significantly, it is the internalisation of the act into our hearts. When we don't give, how do we know to recognise what we actually have? When we don't give, perhaps more often than not, it is because we do not know how wealthy we are, we do not know what we possess that we can give to others. We are "poor" and are unable to recognise goodness. How, then, can we possible know to identify and truly receive goodness others extend to us?

Most of the time, we do not quite expect to receive what we have given. When we give, we give out of our richness. We get wealth tenfold. Literally? Not quite. A person once made a little coin bag out of paper and had a dollar coin dropped into the bag everyday. When it accumulated to $50, she took the money, went to a blind man who was always selling tissue and snacks week after week, rain or shine, and gave this blind man the money. It would not be sufficient to buy him a car, a house or even to pay his meals for the month. Yet, it would certainly ease off some worries to pay the bills and most of all, it would certainly convey the message to this man and his family that someone loves him and most of all, God has not abandoned him. The girl walked on with a smile and a deep peace in her heart. A peace that money cannot buy. This peace came from deep within, from the saying "yes" to God to be His instrument of love, kindness and peace. This peace came because she knew, though in such a small and insignificant way, she had made someone happy that day. She gave just $50 but received a peace and joy that was priceless. It is in giving that we receive. 

When person A keeps giving selflessly to person B, it is just a matter of time that person B will start to experience this selfless love, peace and gratitude. When person B becomes more at peace, person B can now extend the kindness to person C. If this chain of infection continues, more and more people will get the opportunity to experience these goodness and spread it. And so the saying goes "What goes around, comes around". Person A will one day receive the kindness he first spread by someone who received that kindness directly or indirectly from person A. Although an ideal situation most would shudder it off as an impossibility, being a disciple of God IS about striving towards the most ideal - sainthood, a total giving of ourselves to God through His people and in turn, receiving riches untold and which the world cannot give. 

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? 
What is the point of refusing to love and thus protecting ourselves from being rejected and hurt, and lose our sanctity?
What is the point of back-stabbing and thus, climb up the corporate ladder faster, and lose our integrity?
What is the point of driving way beyond speed limits, thus building up a thick layer of ego, but lose the preciousness of lives?
What is the point of telling lies to cover up our errors and have things go our way but as a result, lose the peace within? 
This whole giving and receiving that we go through subconsciously everyday - so often, what we think is us receiving, is in actual fact, us losing. 

09 July 2010

Thursday, 8 July 2010

There is a Time

There is a time for everything; There is a time to play, to work, to eat, to rest, to interact, to cry, to be silent and to pray. And all in life happens in God's time, not ours. In a minute, He can want something of us and in another minute, change it to something else. Do we have the wisdom and obedience to go along with God's time and will or do we stubbornly follow what we want to do in our own time? Do we need to make sense and understand why God changed His mind in a flash to buy His idea? Perhaps, it takes humility to recognise that surely, God knows better what is good. At the foundation, it takes awareness to realise if we are doing something in sync with His plan by that familiar feeling of "affinity" and "peace" in doing His will. If there isn't that peace within, then we'd better move fast according to His promptings. A distracted and noisy mind can never sense God's promptings to do what He wants us to do. Going against our nature of obeying God's will dilutes the peace we have in our hearts as we are not in sync with what we are called to do, our very core purpose to fulfil, given when God first breathed life into us. 

The fight against the increasing lures of the world and noises to break our focus requires much discipline to prayer and the humility to acknowledge that we have lost our focus on God throughout the day's busy schedule and we need time at the end of the day to sit in silence, be still and get lost in the presence of God. We need constant intervals during which to make the deliberate effort to inject God back into our lives before we slowly forget about Him and leave Him out entirely eventually. 

What does it take for us to have God in our lives? We have so much on our plate everyday and yet, do we still have to find time for this God? Much to our surprise, it is precisely that we have so much on our plate that we need God to keep us sane! Before Him, we can finally pull down our defences, our pride and ego, our hurts and pains, our need to appear strong and confident, and we can be who we really are, as we really are. Isn't it pointless ever trying to fake a front before God who knows our every thought and feeling? Getting in touch with who we really are brings us back to the knowledge of ourselves and we can see better our faults and weaknesses. The journey from the brain we use too often throughout the day to the heart grounds us in the reality that we are humans, creatures, in a relationship with our creator - God. We return back to the core of our being and here in this core, in this relationship and connection with God, we find ourselves and we find peace.

08 July 2010

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


Peace, more often than not, is confused with harmony. Yet, they are two vastly different things altogether. When countries' delegates engage in peace talks, what they are actually talking about is maintaining harmony between them. They are actually saying, "We're different but so as to maintain the undisturbed routines of our daily lives and not have any disputes that could lead to a disruption of that harmony, we need to close both eyes and remain in this harmonious state of relationship." What is there a need for peace-talks if there is peace on earth? What is there to talk about maintaining a "peaceful" relationship if there's peace already in man's hearts? 

Peace is not given by the world. In its most perfect state, it is still unable to grant peace to us. Because peace is only given in the Holy Spirit. When we enter a place of sacredness and of worship, at times we feel that the place gives us the sense of peace and we are able to pray with more fervent hearts. Can a building give peace? Can a stone bring peace? Even before a holy saint's tomb, can it bring peace? No. Peace comes from the Holy Spirit. Where the Spirit is, there is peace. A place is made sacred because the Spirit is present. When we erect a monastery or a building we intend for religious purposes, not every such building illuminates with such peace. When people pray with their hearts and souls, when they invoke the Holy Spirit into their midst, when sincere hearts move the Spirit to be in their presence, and God grants the Holy Spirit, then peace dwells in not just the hearts of these seekers but in the place made holy by the constant prayers of believers. 

Indeed, God wants to give us peace but when we go about our daily lives, especially in fast paced societies, this peace can be lost in a flash. We must fight hard and strong for this peace to always be kept in our hearts. It is a tough fit with all the distractions and frustrations thrown in our every day lives in the aim of robbing us of that peace. It is only through constant and daily prayer, made possible only by commitment and faithfulness to God, can we, by Divine Intervention, have the graces to hold on to this peace. We break the cycle of prayer and we break the peace in our hearts. 

What then is this peace? Have we really experienced what it is or have we only tasted what it is to be in harmony? When we are at peace, we are at peace with everyone around us and with the environment and situations we are in. It does not mean we are happy that life is rosy and thornless but rather, in the midst of a war, in the midst of disagreements, of disappointments, despairing moments and failures, we are still able to be still and know that He is God, the creator and ruler of all, of us; that He is the largest power that controls the stars and planets, the moons and suns. He who knows us better than we ourselves do, the One who we can never lie to or manipulate, the One who waits for us to return to Him. He is the Divine Mercy; the source of love, mercy and forgiveness, the source of life, of healing and of recreation, the mender of brokenness and the healer of sadness. He is the hope in despair and the light in the dark. For He alone knows all things and He alone loves all things. He alone is omnipotent. He alone knows our every need and sin. He alone is the source of goodness and to Him alone, nothing is impossible. His power knows no boundaries; extends beyond the mountains and the universe. He who conquered even death has power to set us free of the bondages of worries and sadness. He can give us peace to settle our weary hearts. If we but seek Him with all our hearts, minds and souls. The Lord of mercy will grant us peace that the world cannot give and cannot take away. We must want it and ask with sincere hearts. Peace is ours.

6 July 2010

Sunday, 4 July 2010

God So Loved The World

This song "God so loved the world":
It's a song that one would not attach any feelings to and relate to without a significant experience of God's love. Yet, in fact, God is always loving us. It is us who are unappreciative and too proud to see and acknowledge His love and blessings. The lyrics run...

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son
That who so believeth, believeth in Him
Should not perish but have everlasting life

If God, in His ultimate goodness and mercy, and pure in His love for us, is someone we can take for granted, then we can be sure we will take every single person in our lives for granted. 

If God, with His unconditional love, who paid up His own life for ours, is someone we make use of for our needs, then we can be sure we will manipulate every single person in our lives, love ones or acquaintances, for our own benefits. 

If God, with His faithfulness to us even to the point of a humiliating death on the cross, is someone we abandon in our good times and betray for our worldly pleasures, then we can be sure we will certainly fail in faithfulness to any one person in our lives. 

If God, who stands by us as immovable as a rock even when we seem to have thrown Him out of our minds, and who is perfect in all ways, is someone we cannot commit the steadfastness of our faith to and put our complete trust and believe in, then we can be guaranteed we will never be able to trust any human person who is flawed as we all are.

If God, who gives us more than we can ever deserve, is someone we cannot love everyday, every moment, wholeheartedly without expecting anything from Him, then we are incapable of truly loving any human person.

If we cannot love this God who watched His only beloved Son be tortured for us sinners, how then can we love anyone else? It is only when we come to realise the perfection of God's love in our lives that we are able to learn this love and in turn, extend this love unto others. Perhaps, in this lifetime, we may never reach the total instillation of this love in our lives and thus, never reach the ability to extend the purest of love to our neighbours. Nevertheless, our lives are but a pilgrimage on earth and our final destination in heaven is something we cannot alter. Without feeling despair, we could strive with each day towards the perfection of this love as we take every day that the Lord grants to us as a renewed opportunity for us to love purer than the day that's passed. Perhaps, this would prepare us more readily towards our purification to meet Jesus one day.  

4 July 2010

Physical Pain

Physical pain is something that everyone will have to go through in life. Some start their suffering young and others, in their later years. It is human nature to dislike suffering but is it all that meaningless? I'm still trying to embrace physical pain and go without painkillers but when the pain hits, I throw up and my body shivers, my mind goes blank and all I hope for is for the pain to go away. 

But I do know the preciousness of pain and suffering. 

It humbles a person.
No matter how rich a person is or how successful, when he is in pain, he is weak and vulnerable and has that nagging pain as the common ground with everyone else. He knows he is human and needs help. He becomes reliant on other people and things like doctors and medication or even a family member by his side. He becomes aware of his limitations and inabilities when he hits his threshold for pain and realises there are things in this world he cannot withstand. He becomes more compassionate towards others if he remembers his sufferings following his recovery. He becomes appreciative of every other moment he does not feel the pain and of the people who cares for him. However, these are not possible if he does not look deeper inside of him and simply let this experience pass him by. 

It connects us to God.
God in His goodness sent His son to die for us. As a father looking down upon the suffering son, the emotional pain extends beyond any physical pain. And for Jesus who took the rap for us sinners, He went through intense physical sufferings throughout the entire persecution and crucifixion. Our sufferings unite us with the suffering Jesus. In our sufferings, we remember Jesus's sufferings and we get a taste of what He felt. We establish that common ground with this otherwise abstract person, knowing He was human just like us. Like how His pains were a ransom for our souls, so can we inject a purpose to ours. We can, as we experience the pain, offer it up for a particular intention, and in our embracing our "crosses", we pay a ransom for someone else. 

While it is humanly impossible to embrace what the human nature naturally detests, we can pray for strength, courage and obedience to carry our crosses each day with the acceptance that God wills it as a platform for us to grow stronger and humbler, and to learn to think of others selflessly even while we're most in need. 

4 July 2010

Friday, 2 July 2010

My Little Window @ San Damiano

An Intro:

In Umbria sits a town called Assisi. On the highway, afar, the town appeared to be a large white patch of buildings on the slope of the mountain. That was my first glimpse of Assisi. It looked magnificent. In store for me was a deeply significant personal experience with the saints and through the saints, with God. 

Somehow, Italy is overwhelmed with the sacredness that I cannot find in Spore. Here in Assisi, I touched the stones that surround the tomb of St Francis of Assisi within, prayed in the Basilica of St Marys of the Angels and the little chapel used by the early Christians that was kept right in the middle of the Basilica itself. I saw the thornless rose garden and the 2 doves that never leaves St Francis's statue. I prayed at St Ignatius' tomb and knelt in awe of the uncorrupted right hand of St Francis Xavier. I stared hard at the crucifix in a little chapel in the Basilica and words cannot describe how I felt at that moment with the choir singing "God so Loved the World" at the main altar. I prayed at the death spot of St Francis of Assisi and most of all, I found deep serenity in the little room St Clare passed on. From the little window of that room which overlooks the small garden 1 storey down, the roof of the next wing and beyond, the mountain, I sat on the concrete slab and I could stay there all day long, everyday, alone, singing of God's praise and mercy. 

The start of Rome sent me on a stairway to paradise. All that happened during the trip were part of God's plan to get me centred for prayer. I had a lot of problems with my camera and half of the time, I did not take pictures. That was one distraction taken care of. And I was left with no choice but to use my biological camera consisting of my eyes, memory and heart. I took pictures of the highlights with my eyes and kept the images and feelings attached to them in my heart. Now, I'm happy my camera gave me all that headaches. Pulling out pictures taken with my own eyes far outweighs looking through the digital photos I've taken and stored in my hard disk. 

Recognising God's Hand in All:

I thank God for the wisdom He gives me to see that all these events and others in the trip were at that moment of happening deemed as "bad" things are now so obviously His blessings. I wonder how many other blessings He's given to me in my life that I've not paused, opened my eyes and SEE.

On the day I went to St Peter's Basilica, my camera totally played me out. Tonight, at the prayer session in Novena church, as I prayed, I could close my eyes and place myself back at the spot I stood for so long, capturing the magnificently mesmerising decorated altar. I was back in that awe. I was so worried at that time that I would forget how it looks by the time I get back to Singapore but I did my very best to remember. When I went back to the Basilica before heading home, I had my functional camera but I did not take any pics as I thought I would have. I trusted. 

Seeing how God works in my life makes me feel blessed, loved and watched over. I thank God for this experience to travel with the choir to Russia and Rome. I never thought I'd gain anything besides musical experiences but I got so much more instead. I experienced the  true essence of  "friendship", "buddyship", "sainthood", "blessings in disguise", "reverence", "serenity", "gratitude" and "peace". I got to reconnect with the God I've abandoned for so long. I prayed then that when I returned home, I would still hold onto the experience and continue in this journey. I was worried I will lose it. But now being home, I realised it's a constant reminder to keep at it and never let myself loose.