Archive for the 'President's Desk' Category

Fellowship

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.

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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.

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.


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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