We sow the seeds for tomorrow, today!

Through the span of my twenty five years, I have witnessed and participated in several exercises of futility. Let me tell you about one such exercise. Since last year we were involved in a very massive project that put us under a great amount of pressure in a small amount of time. When the finished product was released, we were all relieved, and we thought we could wash our hands of it. There was one thing however, and that was the sale of the products.

As we were preparing for the sale, to our horror we found a error in the finished product, and we had to make the corrections immediately by modifying the finished products manually. One. By. One. Naturally it took a great deal of time, in the span of days, and with many people coming to help out. We thank God for these saints in our time of need!

I came to realize that if the one person in charge of that one segment did not make that one mistake, we would not have to spend so much time, sweat and manpower in remedying it. But it was a great learning opportunity, although rather painful.

This reminded me of how my classmate and I used to copy each others assignments back in secondary school. It can be argued that many hands make light work. I offered my Chinese assignments up for grabs while I went to copy the Math ones. It was real fun. But it hardly made us learn with any understanding. Most of the time we were just preoccupied on finishing off the due assignment rather than learning the core material. Basically we had no idea what we were doing. And that made for a very, very shaky foundation for exam preparations. Most of us managed to scrape through the finals, thankfully. But today my Math skills are quite crippled and any further attempts at doing college level Calculus are frankly quite hopeless. If I didn’t copy so much homework, or at least made more effort to understand what the hell was going on, perhaps my life would be very different now. If there was more devotion and diligence, how vastly different the outcome would be for many of us. We may regret our past actions now.

In the mad rush of the moment, we may be forget about the meaning of all things. I believe the universe is made up of ordered things, and all things rest on the foundation of another. The things in our lives also follow as such. Our personalities and actions are all dependent on other things, such habits and acquired knowledge. One does not need to be Christian to know this.

Another consequence of the mad rush is the temptation to escape. Many of us in are prone to escaping. Some engage in vices, others their favorite hobbies. But no matter what we all have some bad habits or indulgences which we have recourse to. Running away does not bring us closer to our goal, but it is in fact bringing us further and further away. It may even bring us to the point where it is impossible to achieve our goals any longer.

Logically we can apply this principle to things in the Spirit. Very simply, this can be considered doing small things with great love. St Theresa of Lisieux and Mother Theresa of Calcultta carried out this philosophy very well. He who is faithful in small things will be faithful in greater things. Therefore there is an immediate implication for our final destiny. It has been often repeated that Grace is building upon nature, and is thus, brick by brick. What are we doing each day to build our future one brick at a time? Or are we often procrastinating and putting it off? If we don’t repent today and begin our penance, it will be too late tomorrow. Like it or not, we will be confronted with The Last Four Things: Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. We must prepare to die, today. Since purification is not instantaneous, but a constant process, we must begin as soon as possible. It is not wise to wait till the eleventh hour, even in achieving worldly goals. Keeping our eye on our final destiny reminds us this all this is not pointless. In fact, it even gives meaning to our suffering. Look on the bright side. Despite the terrible things we have gone through, you are still able to read these words today. It is exactly as what the World says, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ The scars of your suffering may remain, but if you do not wallow in bitterness you would have a greater sense of empathy and compassion for the brothers around you.

With our heavenly goal in mind, how do we keep our focus? How can we do this amidst the business and tension of daily living? If we practise the habit of recollecting ourselves often throughout the day, we will get there eventually. Let us learn to renew our better resolutions now and then, for they remind of the meaning of all this. Lastly, these habits will be strengthened if coupled with our prayer life. It is important for us to question the nature and purpose of things, but even more essential to live with purpose. Let our purpose and philosophy become  ‘Through Him, With Him, and In Him’ in the hope that we may one day achieve finality, not futility.

9th Saturday in Ordinary Time



From the Office of Readings

Psalm 131 (132)
The divine promise to the house of David

With an honest heart I have offered up all things joyfully, O my God.

O Lord, remember David

and all the many hardships he endured,
the oath he swore to the Lord
his vow to the Strong One of Jacob.

“I will not enter the house where I live
nor go to the bed where I rest.
I will give no sleep to my eyes,
to my eyelids I will give no slumber,
till I find a place for the Lord,
a dwelling for the Strong One of Jacob.”

At Ephrata we heard of the ark;
we found it in the plains of Yearim.
“Let us go to the place of his dwelling;
let us go to kneel at his footstool.”

Go up, Lord, to the place of your rest,
you and the ark of your strength.
Your priests shall be clothed with holiness;
your faithful shall ring out their joy.
For the sake of David your servant
do not reject your anointed.

With an honest heart I have offered up all things joyfully, O my God.

Ex-unemployed (Part 1)

I was unemployed for about eight months. Fortunately I was offered a position in August and I started my new job for a month already. Unemployment will be one of the phases in life that many people will have to go through, whether you are in there for a month or a year. The earlier you get out of it, the better for you and your family.

There is a great stigma attached to being unemployed. It is not very nice to tell people that you do not have a job. In fact, I have been in this situation more than once, and it can be quite embarrassing. In this society where people are judged by the work they do, having no work at all will obviously look bad. Even if you are a struggling part time student, you will still be judged and condemned. It does not feel very nice. Nobody cares that if you are doing well with your night classes; they see that you have no job, therefore you are bum. It’s a superficial and unfair way of looking at people but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Let us not be frustrated and deal with it one step at a time.

If you have just graduated, I  congratulate you. Unfortunately, you have just left the sheltered harbour of school, and you are about to enter into a treacherous job market. A good education is a mere stepping stone into a career. Even if you have a degree, you may not be able to find suitable work in your field. We may have friends or colleagues who are in totally unrelated industries other than the one they were originally trained for. There is nothing wrong with this if you have a plan and the means to achieve it. However based on my observation, I find that the mass majority of job hunters are very clueless. What do I mean by clueless? There is one simple question, yet it is difficult to answer. It is:  ‘What do you want?’

Perhaps along the way we have forgotten what we wanted to achieve, or we have made some irreversible mistakes that precludes us from taking certain paths. This is fine.  Career guidance is sorely lacking in schools as well. That’s fine too. What is not fine is that we are going through life everyday without any reflection on actions or outcomes. Personally I find it very scary. We have become walking zombies. It is time to stop wasting and start taking action.

Next time round we will discuss some simple methods of prevention, which may apply to you if you are young, otherwise it may be too late for you. Nonetheless I hope you will pass on the lessons to the young ones so that they do not make the mistakes that we have made.


张信哲 – 别怕我伤心



















我的爱也曾经 深深温暖你的心灵


别隐瞒 对我说


Wanfang Live Concert 2011 Esplanade Concert Hall

On 18 June 2011 I attended Wanfang Lin’s concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall. It was the first time I attended any musical performance in Mandarin. I must say it was pretty awesome. It was so awesome that I decided to write this review, which is rather unusual because I usually cannot be bothered about chasing the latest trends in popular music.

Wanfang is a music industry veteran who released her first album in 1990. It has been 21 years since then, but her career is still going strong. Her songs have become staples for wannabe artistes and karaoke practitioners. In fact the last time I checked, one of her most famous songs ‘新不了情’ is a top ten karaoke song at local KTV joints. It has also been covered endlessly by other artistes, which you can easily find MVs of on Youtube.

I wasn’t sure of what kind of turnout the concert would have. Most of the younger generation are not familiar with her music. Not surprisingly the audience seemed to be made up of people in their early 30s and 40s. Personally, I think I was one of the  youngest people in the audience. Anyone else there younger than me? You people really appreciate good stuff.

The opening song was ‘心像凌晨四點的天的藍‘, which is one of her yet to be unreleased songs. This song has a rather jazzy feel. I’m looking forward to the next release, which will hopefully contain this song. The repertoire was mainly consisting of songs from her album ‘One 芳’ and ‘我们不要伤心了’. It was a pleasant mix of both old and new tunes. I also came across some unfamiliar tunes such as ‘鐵罐咖啡’ and ‘知道不知道’, just to name a few. She performed so many songs, I cannot remember all of them. The vast range of songs was truly impressive. Rather than just playing based on the original scores or compositions, she has chosen to reinterpret some of her own work, resulting in a refreshing outlook.

During the performance there were few mistakes scattered throughout, which purists and perfectionists may have found inexcusable. In fact, there were times when she took control to stop the song and restart it with the correct tone. The poor pianist 阿鸡 was quite sorry about the mistakes, but she was patient and humorous about it. At a certain point she had to rally the band together for a heart to heart talk. As a consummate stage artist, she was able to turn the situation to her advantage.

Somewhere in between she even allocated time for her backup vocalists to present their own songs. Her two guest vocalists were Project Superstar contestant Kelly Poon (潘嘉麗) and indie vocalist Lisa Djaati (谢凌君). Kelly Poon is also under the same record label as Wanfang, Rock Records. Wanfang, as the eldest sister of Taiwanese pop music, seemed to be rather enthusiastic in promoting her juniors in the industry.

Originally Freya (林凡) was slated to accompany the performance but was replaced by Lisa as she had to attend the Golden Melody awards. Lisa is currently involved with her project Nature Morte ( 靜物樂團 ). The song she presented was titled ‘You’re My Dream’ (你是我的梦 ).

I was a bit taken aback that the two guests were allowed to promote their own work during her concert. I wondered if my fellow fans were thinking of this as well. Afterall, I don’t think it is very often that the main artist lets the backup vocalists present their original work. However, the audience was definitely not disappointed at any rate. The entire performance was expected to take up to two hours but lasted for three hours and fifteen minutes, including the encore of almost half an hour. It was a reward for us patient fans. The $148 for the Foyer Stall seats was well worth the money.

At the end of the concert, she had a autograph session. There was a rather long queue but it was worth the wait. It was another first for me, actually queuing up for an autograph though I was all the way at the back.

Throughout the concert, she took great effort to interact with her audience. Even though the concert hall is rather large, she was able to remain  intimate with the audience in engaging their interest. She took  many opportunities to share with the audience about her life journey, and how she composed certain songs. At some points, she encouraged the audience to sing along. To me, she comes across as very humble and genuine person. In this age of autotuned fabricated pop idols, real talent and sincere personality is rare.

Self-described as ‘怪女生’ (an eccentric girl), perhaps this is the secret ingredient that attracts many of her fans. Myself included.

Viewpoints: Putting Safeguards for Communion

My comments on the above article, posted on 16/06/2011

I agree with Dr Chung’s points on the reception of Holy Communion. We should bring back the use of the altar rail/kneelers and the communion plates. Every crumb of the Blessed Sacrament is still Our Lord.

As mentioned by Dr Chung, the position of kneeling during Communion facilitates easy administering of the Sacrament due to ‘better vantage and reach’. I am wondering why we have lost this practice over the years. At Papal Masses in Rome, the Eucharist is distributed on the tongue and kneeling, in line with the long standing tradition. Since our Holy Father is beginning to show us the ways of devotion to the Sacrament by his very example, perhaps it would do well for parishes everywhere to imitate.

Yet far from blindly copying, we should reflect on the significance of all these actions. Why receive on the tongue? Why receive kneeling? Surely there are good reasons for the Holy Father to be encouraging these small yet significant acts.

If we do not cultivate respect for the dignity of the Holy Eucharist, everything else is fair game. If this is not sacred, nothing else is. Yes, we should not aim to be scrupulous but aim to be sensible. If we do not treat the Holy Sacrament with a sense of sacredness, that is truly a senseless pity. We have received such a precious gift, therefore let us not take it for granted but treasure it.


I am beginning to rediscover the joys of fellowship since my early days in the Legion. It is very refreshing. I have not felt this in years. I have been quite used to acting as leader and mentor. But just lapsing into the capacity of friend, I find that I’m most comfortable here. For many years I did not seek joys or comforts in this place. Yet I am grateful for my friends here. I will take this as God’s gift and treasure it for a long time.

‘One by one my brothers left me.’ I lamented like this back in 2005. The feeling of seeing all your friends leave this ministry before you do, is not a very encouraging feeling. Senior departed; friend departed, lover departed. Everybody started to disappear and I soon wondered why I did not disappear as well.

Fellowship is a wonderful thing. It is something that we can never have too much of. But we mustn’t reduce it to simple tea parties or outings or the long gossip sessions. True fellowship is supporting one another through the rain and cold. True fellowship is helping one another through firestorms and artillery shelling. True fellowship ultimately must evolve into a sacrificial love for the sake of the brotherhood (and sisterhood, if you wish to nitpick).

No wonder we feel hurt or uncomfortable when our fellow members seems to leave one by one. Perhaps this is the nature of things. Perhaps we grow out of this, like a phase, or in the name of ‘moving on’. Nevertheless it is my duty to inform you that….

Young Legionaries, treasure and love your friends while they are still here. Make peace with your enemies. Yet do not leave simply because they are gone. Friends come and go and you can always make new friends.  Soldiers can die or desert but the battle for souls goes on. Ultimately you must recognize the reason for being here. Our work deals with souls, the most precious thing in the world. By the way if you didn’t know that, then I have really failed as your teacher and leader.

If it is any consolation, do remember that Legionaries never leave the Legion or die. In the end they merely go to heaven to regroup. Though my old friends are gone, now I have you, my new friends. I hope you will stay for the longest time. And may we all regroup at the end of our battle.

Exsequiarum Ordo

Rite of Burial

‘You need to say more prayers to St Michael, the rain is not stopping.’

‘Good idea, I will try the Latin one this time.’

One priest and four altar boys in a moving car under a darkened sky. Today was not a good day for a burial. It was pouring cats and dogs. We were hoping that the rain would stop before we got to the cemetery. Lim Chu Kang is home to farms, military camps and of course, dead people. It is very, very inaccessible. Thankfully we took Father’s car there. Still, the gravesite was not easy to locate. We had to make a few U-turns, even in the narrow lanes of the plot.

‘Are we supposed to turn right now? But it says Chinese Cemetery, not Christian Cemetery.’

The rain had not stopped by the time we arrived. There was little choice but to use the umbrellas, though they were of little help.  We carried all the liturgical items and vestments to a nearby shed, where we proceeded to vest. Fortunately we arrived before the hearse and the rest of the congregation.

The newly dug grave was on the far end of the plot, and we had to step over the existing graves in order to get to the other side. I felt mildly embarrassed for the poor souls. We gathered around the grave with our black umbrellas.

The grave is not a mere hole in the ground. It has concrete structures at the edges, almost like frames of a box. The soil was earthly orange. A large digging machine a few meters away was the instrument for this fine handiwork.

We first began with the blessing of the  grave. I passed the censer and incense boat to and fro from the brother server behind me. My hands were occupied with the bottle of holy water and a black umbrella. Father began with the prayers.

‘O God, by whose mercy the souls of the faithful find rest, vouchsafe to bless this grave, and appoint Thy holy Angel to keep it; and release the souls of all these whose bodies are buried here from every bond of sin, that they may always rejoice in Thee with Thy Saints for ever. Through Christ our Lord.’


The body was brought forward to the grave. It is not easy to lower a coffin into the grave. The eight gentlemen with the funeral company had attached two wooden spars to the coffin with an elaborate maze of ropes. This allowed the coffin to be suspended directly above the grave. It was not a pleasant or comfortable duty, especially not with this weather. They were dressed in white dress shirts and dark trousers but were totally soaked to the skin. They removed their shoes and socks as well. By comparison, I was reasonably dry under my umbrella.

Father began to intone the Benedictus antiphon, ‘Ego sum resurrectio et vita: qui credit in me, etiam si mortuus fuerit, vivet: et omnis qui vivit et credit in me, non morietur in aeternum.’

‘Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel…’

‘Requiem aternam dona eis, Domine.’

‘Et lux perpetua luceat eis.’ And once more the antiphon.’

‘Kyrie Eleison. Christe Eleison. Kyrie Eleison. Pater noster..’

I passed the holy water forward. And Father sprinkled the body. One normally sees the drops of holy water fly through the air. Not today. The heavy rain washed everything down. In any case, it was hard to distinguish the tears of the bereaved from the rain drops.

It was time for the burial. The gentlemen began to uncoil the ropes. I was amazed with the ropework. It was designed to lower the body bit by bit till the coffin touched the deepest earth.

‘And lead us not into temptation.’

‘But deliver us from evil.’

‘From the gate of hell.’

‘Deliver his soul O Lord.’

Once the concluding prayers were chanted, we turned away and returned to the shed. The mourners began laying flowers in the grave. Words of comfort and courtesy were exchanged at the shelter.

The work being completed, the rain finally began to subside. It stopped while we were driving out from the area. As they say, it never rains, but pours.

The Legion as a way of life

Last month we went to several parishes to carry out recruitment of new Legion members. Part of this includes visiting several catechism classes to introduce ourselves and our organization. Some of the encounters made me think very hard afterward.

At one particular parish, this was the last catechism class we were slated to visit. So I entered the classroom with 3 of my legionaries, and 2 of them were from that parish.  The catechist was this mustachioed man, that somehow reminds me of a sergeant major. So the first thing he asked was where we were from and why we were there. The second question was directed at one of my members. Why are you dressed immodestly? Are you setting a good example for these children here? Not that my member was dressed very scantily. She was wearing a dress, with bare shoulders. So we were left speechless for a while,  and obviously that visit to the class didn’t go very well. Well I am happy for that parish, at least they have one catechist who knows his stuff and expects high standards.

From this incident, we can derive much food for thought. When is it appropriate to dress inappropriately? We can even ask ourselves what manner of dressing is modest or immodest. But that is for another time.

But the point I’m trying to make is that, our manner and way of life is also linked to our identity as Legionaries. We are not merely Legionaries on the day of the meeting or on the day which we have an activity. We are Legionaries 24/7, 365 days a year. We are constantly being scrutinized. In this age of social media, the line between our private and public life is becoming blurred. We should learn to be prudent in what we express online.

The second thing that I was reflecting on is that, while we are taught not to judge others rashly, and not judge a book by its cover, we do live in an imperfect world, and we will in fact be judged by first impressions. We must be careful with first impressions. One of the most important lessons that I have learned from my uniformed group and army days is that bearing is extremely important. The way we carry ourselves shows a lot. Our outward behavior reflects our inward thinking, or even when we are not thinking.

At another parish I had to give a sharing to some confirmation year students. It was really difficult because I had to give the sharing in Mandarin. Sure, I can speak and write enough to get by, but it’s not exactly presentation grade Mandarin. I guess due to my nerves I was not natural enough and therefore I did not smile very much.

But I  did not realize until one of the catechists remarked that I should smile more and be more joyful. Fair enough, that’s something I can work on. People who meet me for the first time say that I do not smile. I have once been labeled as ‘The guy who does not smile’. There was once in BMT when my PC said to me, ‘You better smile! Or else!’

This is far cry from those who have seen me in my crazier moods, especially my Legion kids. Yet somehow I am a person who is seriously funny and so serious that it is funny at the same time.

This is a struggle for myself. Somehow I resist the idea of showing joy when I have not found it yet. This first half of the year has not been very joyful either.  But I will learn to take myself less seriously, in order to save a thousand souls and my own.

Dear legionaries, do not try to save the souls of others when you cannot save your own. May God have mercy on all of us.

Morning offering

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee my prayers, works and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Thy Sacred Heart, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for all the intentions of our associates, and in particular for the general intention recommended this month. Amen.


Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us

Stella Matutina, ora pro nobis

Our Lady of Perpetual Succor, pray for us

St Michael the Archangel, pray for us

St Jude, pray for us

St Benedict, pray for us

St Dominic, pray for us

St Anthony, pray for us