Archive for the 'Legion' Category


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.

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.

All I have is yours

This is the 11th Acies I have attended in my life. I have not missed a single one ever since I stepped into Legion. Every year both the senior and junior Legionaries come together to pledge our loyalty to our Mother. The handbook is very insistent on the attendance of members. It even condemns those who do not attend as lacking in Legion spirit and therefore worthless. Very harsh words. This is a hard saying, who can accept it?

But my best teacher and mentor Experience proves this right. Those who don’t come for the Acies, disappear soon or do not persevere. I am grieved at the thought of the my many friends who have come and gone like the wind. But we have to move on with the times. Times are different now. And we have to grasp with many questions and doubts: Are we relevant? Does our purpose still exist? These are questions that I struggle to answer.

One thing is certain: if we give up now it will be lost forever. We would turn into a piece of church history. We will be looked upon as commentators read ‘These are the ones who have tried and failed. The experiment was a failure.’ It’s time to know what’s at stake here. If we pledge to give our all into this but we do not work together, we will lose ourselves. We will not be able to live in peace with ourselves.

So friends, if you dare to say these words ‘My Queen and Mother, I am yours. All I have is yours.’, please reflect upon how you are doing in this your life.

Vexilla Regis Prodeunt

Once again, we had our annual Acies at the Church of St Peter & St Paul. As part of the procession into the church, all the praesidia and curiae had a representative to carry their vexillium during the procession. And as I carried the flag of our Junior Curia, the hymn for Passiontide came to my mind.

Vexilla Regis prodeunt;
fulget Crucis mysterium,
quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.

Abroad the regal banners fly,
now shines the Cross’s mystery:
upon it Life did death endure,
and yet by death did life procure.

You may listen to this hymn on Youtube here. No, we did not sing this hymn, although I wish we did. Incidentally it was also Palm Sunday, which we know as the beginning of Holy Week.

“Now shines the Cross’s mystery.” Together with Christ we are taking a slow walk to Jerusalem. Indeed this week we are all walking towards the Cross. From a triumphant entry on a colt into the city, to the Last Supper, to the agony in the garden, to a trudging walk towards Calvary. Towards death. This week we carry our Cross with Jesus.

At many times, the duty of being an office holder is very tiring. It feels as one is carrying a very heavy cross. One has to attend many meetings. One has to do much planning. One has to deal with pleasant and unpleasant people. Don’t forget that you have your own duties that your state of life commands.

You should never forget that you are first and foremost a child of God. Your first duty is to save your own soul. Our Lord has said, what good does it do if a man gains the whole world but loses his soul? The question in our context, as well as for all those who serve in the ministry or apostolate is, what good does it do if we gain the souls of others but we lose ours?

Burnout is a real danger. One can become cynical if not careful. We may even feel despair at times. We hurt others, and we too are hurt. Very often whether we question if all our work and efforts are in vain. We are in a very vulnerable state. How are we to help others if we cannot help ourselves?

In the Soul of the Apostolate, it recommends that we must develop a strong interior life. Not only will it serve as a protection to our soul, it will also enhance our efforts and undertakings. We must depend on God’s supernatural graces, which supports our human strength. Modern worldly feel good psychology will not suffice. Motivational posters will not suffice. The chain emails we often receive from well intentioned friends, these only offer a worldly hope. No, we must hope in God who is Eternal. Grace will sustain us.

But no doubt even if we are very holy, we still have to suffer. Let us follow Our Lord, who did not reject the Cross, but embraced it.  Sweetest Wood, sweetest Nails, sweetest weight is hung on Thee. Let us offer up our sufferings as mortification to the Crucified Christ. In the midst of my frustrations, a friend of mine advised recently, ‘Our office should not be the Cross. The Cross should our office.’

Yet not all is without hope. I see great potential in these young Legionaries. Many of them are hungry for the Word of God. They thirst for the truth. They have many failings, but they always try to be better people. They have the potential to be good Catholics. Some of them will become priests or religious.

But the turnover rate of our members is disturbing. Every praesidium has problems. Day and night I ponder on how to make things better. I cannot see any other way but to go back to basics. Indeed this is the theme set by Concilium.

When the doctrinal foundation of the Legion is obscured the Legion becomes weakened and vulnerable. We need to keep hammering at our call to complete union with Mary in order to be completely open to the Holy Spirit. Then the Legion becomes a school of holiness and the apostolate because that is how Jesus comes into our own lives and the life of the world.

We shall attempt to re-discover our foundation, or we will all fall down. And we must always, pray, pray, pray! O Lord make haste to help us.

Midway through Long Lent

Forty days in the desert with Our Lord.

The dryness is starting to get to me. The absence of a day job does this to me. The job hunt is fruitless so far. I had two job interviews this year, but no luck yet. So I reviewed my resume and decided to rewrite it. And continue applying for more jobs.

It is a great opportunity to put things in order. I am not doing well with my spiritual life either. Recently I have acquired The Soul of the Apostolate by Jean-Baptiste Chautard. This is an awesome book which teaches that those with a good interior life will be fruitful in evangelization.

One chapter entitled Action Made Fruitful attempts to categorize different kinds of souls.

Starting with the most sinful we have:

1) Hardened in Sin
2) Surface Christianity
3) Mediocre Piety
4) Intermittent Piety
5) Sustained Piety
6) Fervor
7) Relative Perfection
8 ) Heroic Perfection
9) Complete Sanctity, which is the most saintly state.

I seem to be alternating between 3 and 4, barely touching 5. I won’t type the descriptions of each state, they are quite long. Cultivating the interior life is so difficult.

There is a Legion Officers Training Camp next weekend. I hope it will be fruitful in passing on the values for these prospective leaders. Past generations have come and gone. When will there be a generation who will stay faithfully?

I’ve heard it so often: A vocation without sacrifice is not a vocation. Even a lay apostle must make sacrifices. How can I inculcate this spirit in my legionaries?

I am looking forward to the end of Lent. The end of Lent also coincides with the end of the current module I am taking.

Statistics is madness. I am not enjoying this module, though I’m forcing myself to. Why? I might need to use this in whatever occupation I take up one day. For example, biostatistics or public health. After not doing very well for the first test, I think it’s time to take it more seriously.

I need to find an alternative strategy to studying for tests and exams. I got a distinction for the first module Human Biology & Disease, and I think I’ll be able to scrape through Biological Organic Chemistry. I enjoy isolating myself in my room to study for hours, but when I get full time work I won’t have this luxury.

I hope all this is not in vain.

No swearing during Legion meeting!

Do we use vulgarities when we speak to our parents? Why do we avoid this? Number one: it is not respectful. Number two: we fear punishment.

The same principle applies to our heavenly parents, God our Father and Mary our Mother. It is absolutely unacceptable to swear during meetings. It is not respectful to God, Jesus, Mary and all the patron saints who watch over us. Holy names and swear words should never be in the same sentence!

Punishment will befall those who persist in not controlling their tongues. Your earthly parents may give you a whipping because you deserve it, but this is to prevent you from sinning again and losing your soul. Once you are in hellfire it will be too late.

In modern times where decency and custody of the tongue is thrown to the dust, and the advent of ‘free speech’, we must find a way to get rid of this bad habit and prevent it from taking root in our young. Mortification and good example will go a long way. Perhaps it is time for us to foster devotion to the Holy Name. Blessed be God. Blessed be His Holy Name.

First post of 2010

Ah, welcome to the first year of the second decade of the twenty first century.

After three months of being in a post-ORD  semi-employed state, it is time to find full time work. Based on the job ads I’ve been looking at, it seems like a lot of the better jobs in life sciences ask for experienced personnel. Well, I have to start from somewhere. It is time for me to accumulate some experience in this field. Stepping stones, that’s the right thing to call it. Besides, having night classes alone for the next few years seems to be a waste of time if I am doing nothing in the day. I need money…

When I do take on full time work, I’ll really have to manage my time very, very wisely. There are so many things to juggle, so many things to prioritize. I do worry about that from time to time. I tend to throw everything into my primary task, and sometimes neglect the rest. I hope I do not end up neglecting the needs of the ministry.

Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.

The Identity of a Legionary

Last week we had the handbook reading on ‘Material Relief Prohibited’. To summarize the reading talks about why the Legion does not give material relief in the form of money, clothes, food to those whom they visit. There are many reasons but I’m not going to talk about it. Today I am going to talk about our identity as legionaries.

The following passage from the handbook reading gave me food for thought.

Individual legionaries may plead the duty of giving charity according to one’s means, and may urge that they do not desire to give relief as legionaries, but in their private capacities. Analysis of this contention will indicate what complications must inevitably arise. Take the case – and it is the usual one – of someone who did not indulge in such personal relief-giving prior to joining the Legion. In his rounds, he comes across persons whom he deems to be in need in some way or another. He refrains from giving anything on the day of the official Legion visit, but goes some other day “as a private individual” and gives. Surely he is breaking the Legion rule as to the giving of material relief, and surely the double visitation only covers a quibble? He visited in the first instance as a legionary. The cases came to his knowledge as a legionary. The recipients know him as a legionary; and certainly they do not enter into the quibble. To them, the transaction is simply one of Legion relief-giving, and the Legion agrees that they judge rightly.

From this reading we can infer that a Legionary cannot divorce his personal capacity from his capacity as a legionary. Once we are identified by the world as Legionaries, that label will be stuck to us forever. All eyes are watching on us. Eyes are watching on good Catholics, more so for Legionaries. The chapter ‘To be in a sense always on duty’ is very good reading for all of us.

Duty means discipline. Being always on duty means unrelaxed discipline. Therefore, one’s speech, and dress, and manner, and conduct, however simple they may be, must never be such as to disedify. Persons will look for fault in those whom they observe to be active in the cause of religion. Failings, which in others would hardly attract notice, will in a legionary be considered disgraceful, and will largely spoil his efforts to do good to others. Nor is this unreasonable. Is it not just to require a goodly standard from those who are urging others on to higher things?

– Chapter 33, Basic Duties of Legionaries, To be in a sense always on duty.

Indeed, there are no off days for us. We are always at work. We must always be ready to perform our duty, regardless of the cost. All of us must inculcate the sense of duty in ourselves. In modern times, ‘duty’ is often scorned as a terrible burden that must be gotten rid of as soon as possible. As Christians we do not run away from duty, but embrace it. By doing so, we make the world a better place. The sense of duty is integral to the identity of the Legion.

Many times we are challenged to performed our duties, but we rather be else doing something more interesting. Our founder Frank Duff recognized this in his tract, ‘Can we be Saints?’

We are to do what it is our duty to do — and at the right time. Duty is not something which is to be thrown off with our working clothes, as so many people imagine. It is as strictly our duty to keep an appointment or a secret as it is to do our work. A duty goes before even “Devotions.” It is your duty to wash the dishes, do not run off to Benediction instead.

We must not be afraid to make sacrifices, whether it is an hour of entertainment, a date with our lover, or a few dollars from our wallet. But let us be realistic. Sacrifice cannot be forced upon us. Devotion cannot be forced upon us. As the love of God is made avail to us freely, so we also choose freely whether to make sacrifices or not. We should ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to make us ready for such a commitment.  Since we have freely chosen to be Legionaries, let us freely choose to be bonded to our duty.

Offering it up

Allocutio for Curia Meeting 19 July 2009

In the course of our work, we will encounter many difficulties. They may be big and small, but there is one thing in common: we like to complain about them. It is not wrong to release some frustration or to tell your troubles to a close friend, but sometimes we end up hurting others if we are not careful with our words. And the problem is nowhere to being solved because we are just so tired. Maybe we should learn to offer up our suffering. What does it mean? We can make an act of love by saying ‘My God I offer you my suffering’. We can also tie it in with an intention. For example, for someone’s healing or conversion. We can also this during the sacred liturgy especially the Holy Mass. As the priest offers up the holy sacrifice of bread and wine, we too must raise up our hearts ‘Sursum Corda’.

What are the benefits? We can cultivate the virtues of patience, resignation to the divine will, and perseverance. It gives us a sense of peace because our suffering is made holy; it is not in vain. We also avoid harming others. When we offer up our suffering to God, we can be sure that he is also watching over us, always ready to help.

Creative Despair

The ATEC wasn’t as bad as I thought. In fact, it was less tiring than the one I went for last year. Nonetheless, the conditions were far from ideal. Plenty of screw-ups before, during and after the exercise. One idiotic one was forgetting to bring the picnic lantern. How can anyone forget to bring the picnic lantern and set up BCS at night!? The weather on the first day was incredibly hot as well. We were so tired after setting up that we were all lying inside tent groaning and lamenting the heat. It was so bad that the Senior Medic and Signaller elected for a bag of Ringer’s Solution infused into them.There were some pretty comical scenes as well.

There was one time when me, two of the medics and the signaller went to dig the latrines. It was damn hot. So were taking turns with the ET stick and blade to dig two holes, when our signaller decided to take over. He was hacking away at the soil and began to to become frustrated because the rifle kept slipping down while worn in backsling. That annoys the hell out of everyone.

Signaller: Ok screw this, I don’t care if I get extras, I’m taking everything off. (Proceeds to take off helmet, webbing and weapon)

He continues hacking away for a couple more times when suddenly he faints and slams into the ground. We could hear the ‘Piak!’ sound generated by his body contacting the ground.

I looked at the other two medics and mumbled, ‘This is not good’. So the three of us starting shaking him and trying to wake him up. After thirty seconds he suddenly opens his eyes and swears loudly. Hahaha, it was really funny.

Upon returning to unit, I was kept busy with duties, preparation for brigade exercise and the usual torrent of paperwork. At least I managed to take some time off to do some of my personal tasks. The time off balanced out the looming datelines, irritating phone calls and obstinate arrows homing onto me. I managed to catch Detroit Metal City. I managed to apply for school as well. There’s a chance I might be going overseas for further education, but nothing is set in stone yet.

From 13th to 15th of March, I was running a camp for the new appointment holders in Legion. Their response was really promising. Some of them have really great potential. Yet it remains as potential because their time to lead has not arrived. Who will take charge of these little ones? My cohort will all be moving on to the next phase in their life, yet I seem to be stuck here.

I am terrified at the prospect of taking over as junior curia president. The curia president MUST be a member of an senior praesidium. I am not, therefore I will be forced to join an senior praesidium. I will be honest: their meetings bore me to death! I cannot believe that I must sit through week after week of such meetings. Let’s not get started on the way these people do things.

Perhaps I am biased. Perhaps I am not giving others a chance. But there is something I’m sure of, that is, I’m not really sure where all this is heading and what it is supposed to mean for me.Yet ten years in the junior curia must culminate in this moment of truth.

Oh, it was only yesterday that I was the idealistic sec one boy who joined for the wrong reasons but grew to love this. Seniors came and went. Friends came and went. Yet I am still here. All this is definitely part of God’s plan. It feels like I am inching towards the edge of the cliff, and being commanded to jump off. Alone.

When will I rediscover the joy of being in the Legion? At present it seems like a burden.


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