Archive for December, 2005

Christmas

29 December 2005, 5th day within the octave of Christmas

Christ has been born for us: come, let us worship him.

Merry Christmas to all readers! I hope the reflections posted in the past few weeks were useful to you. As for now, we celebrate the arrival of the infant Christ. Rejoice, sinners! Salvation has arrived!

Christmas was all right. I went to a family friend’s place for dinner with my family. There was lots of good food. There was ham, turkey, roast beef… Tasty! I went for midnight Mass with Pet, Robin and Angela at OLPS after that. The Christmas pageant at OLPS was well done I must say. The singers and choirs obviously put in a lot of effort. Oh, I saw some of the seminarians at OLPS, so I decided to wish them Merry Christmas.

The part I like about midnight Mass is that they will ring the bells for 3 minutes during the Gloria, at twelve o’clock sharp. It was funny to see the altar boys trying to muster their arm power to shake the handbells for 3 minutes without stopping. The look on their faces every year never seems to change. The poor guy probably must be thinking of giving up midway, but perseveres when the hymn is ending soon. Kudos to all altar boys everywhere!

The 4 of us had supper at a hawker center near Angela’s place. Winson didn’t join us. I think he was too tired after work. We sat and talked at one of the void decks till 4 am. Ah, it’s so good to see them after so long. The taxi fare was a killer though.

I reached home at 4.30 am and I woke up at 3 pm. My family attended some relative’s wedding dinner. Due to this, we didn’t have the customary Christmas meal cooked by my grandmother. Ah well. But the food was good.

So much food this season! I’m getting fat!

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Advent Child: Not your average Final Fantasy (Week 4)

Veni clavis Davidica;
Regna reclude caelica;
Fac iter tutum superum,

Et claude vias inferum.

Gaude, gaude! Emmanuel
nascetur pro te,
Israel.

Fourth Sunday of Advent, 18 December 2005

We have now entered the fourth week of Advent. In today’s Gospel reading, we hear the story of the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel comes to Mary to declare that she will be the mother of Our Lord.

Luke 1:32-33

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

If Mary was given such an important role as the Mother of God, it is clear that she is definitely part of God’s plan to save us. Mary is no longer a mere character in the Bible, but an integral part of Christianity. How long more shall Christians everywhere continue to ignore the role she played? How long can we continue to ignore her, when she is the perfect model of Christians everywhere?

Luke 1:38

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”

In praying these words, she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mary willingly accepted God’s will to be His instrument in our salvation. She did not understand much, but she had faith in God and followed anyway. She pondered all these things in her heart, and followed His will. We must imitate her example, in order to reach perfection in Christ.

If we were to read the Gospel further, we would go on to the Magnificat:

Luke 1:46-48

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

Mary was just a lowly human being like us, but she allowed herself to be part of God’s plan. We should surrender our wills to God like she did, and do whatever he wants of us. Furthermore, scripture demands that we must call her blessed. She placed herself as the lowly, but God raised her up. If God allowed this, so must we. Let us not be afraid to honour her as the perfect vessel of the Christ.

Oh, come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home:
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! O Israel,
to thee shall come Emmanuel!

 

Advent Child: Not your average Final Fantasy (Week 3)

Veni, o Jesse Virgula;
Ex hostis tuos ungula,
De specu tuos tartari
Deduc et antro barathri.


Gaude, gaude! Emmanuel
nascetur pro te,
Israel.

Third Sunday of Advent,
11 December 2005

The Jews in the Gospels did not know how the Messiah was to come. They were expecting him to come, but did not know who. When Christ finally came, they could not believe it. They thought, ‘How could a baby born in a dilapidated shack, a bastard child of a teenage girl be the Messiah?’ The people of
Israel at that time were being ruled by the Romans, and expected a militaristic saviour to liberate them. They thought the Messiah would suddenly descend from heaven and establish his reign by destroying the enemies of Israel.

But this was not to be. Christ instead came to free us from sin, not material poverty. Since we are free from the shackles of sin, it is then our turn to free others from poverty, both material and spiritual. Today’s first reading says,

Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11

‘The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.’

Can we not see that everyone is made in the image of God? Yes! The beggars, the homeless, the old and lonely. Even the filthy backstabber in your class and the poor lonely kid you always pick on. We must begin to reach out to these people no matter how difficult it is. And we must always use love and peace. We are not expected to like our enemies, but we are expected to show Christian love for them.

Oh, come, strong branch of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satans tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! O Israel,
to thee shall come Emmanuel!

My dear, why did it all fall apart?

Wednesday was a slack day. We started class at 8 and ended at 11. A few of us had lunch at Mac. Arden, Allison and I went to watch Zathura at Cineleisure. Actually, we wanted to watch Pride & Predjudice, but it’s only coming out today. We spent a lot of time walking around town. I went for Mass at St Peter and St Paul’s nearby after the show. I couldn’t understand what the priests were saying. Their Taiwanese accents were too strong. I went home for dinner.

Zathura was a good show and it certainly made my money’s worth. It reminded me about how brothers are supposed to take care of one another. The starting part was funny when the younger brother shouted at him, “You are such a dick!” Haha, this reminds me of how I have to swear at my brother if I have to get him to do something. Yeah it’s a bad habit, what can I say?

The sociological situation in my class is changing rapidly. I expect to see a radical shift by the end of this semester. Another thing I realise is that no matter how nice people may seem, they inevitably will contain some character flaw. Let me use myself as an example; I have been described by some of my peers as arrogant. After some self-reflection I realise that I have to be more humble.

Well, nobody is perfect. It would not be right if I condemned anyone. Why should I condemn anyone if I myself am not perfect? But does this mean I will ignore their flaws? I’ll close one eye, but not both. We won’t get any work done if we are without sight.

Isaiah 40: 31
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.

This is the last line of Wednesday’s first reading. It is also the biblical quote which a friend of mine delivered to me with a set of paper cranes. Incidentally we talked about this friend of mine today.

Oh why did it all fall apart?

Advent Child: Not your average Final Fantasy (Week 2)

Veni, veni Adonai,
Qui populo in Sinai
Legem dedisti vertice,
In majestate gloriae.

Gaude, gaude! Emmanuel
nascetur pro te, Israel.

Second Sunday of Advent, 4 December 2005

We are now entering the second week of Advent. In today’s Gospel (Mark 1:3-8 ), Jesus’ forerunner John the Baptist cries out in the desert,

‘A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.”
John the Baptist appeared in the desert
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.’

This is predicted in Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11, where it mentions,

‘A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!’

Clearly the idea of preparing the way of the Lord is not to be dismissed easily. But what does it mean to prepare the way of the Lord? Yes, it is to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. At the end of time we will face a second judgement, and we must be ready. As it is mentioned in today’s epistle (2 Peter 3:8-14),

‘But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,
and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar
and the elements will be dissolved by fire,
and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.’

Indeed we do not know when the end of time will come, so we should start preparing now. As mentioned in the previous week, Advent truly is a time for preparation. But we should not forget that though Jesus is not physically here, he is present in the tabernacle of our churches. He truly is present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Perhaps we can take some time during this season to visit him. We must not only be generous with our material goods, we must also be generous with our time.

Another way of preparing the Lord’s way is to share the Good News with others, through words and actions. There are so many opportunities for us to do so, be it at school or work. But beware; followers of Christ will always be persecuted. They can expect to be ridiculed and mocked at. After all, even John the Baptist himself was beheaded. The prophets were also not welcomed in their own hometowns. You can expect resistance and anger from your family.

This is such if we are to proclaim Him. But do not fear, for the Lord is here!

Oh, come, oh, come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In Ancient times once gave the law
In cloud, and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! O Israel,
to thee shall come Emmanuel!


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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