Archive for the 'We aspire..' Category

9th Saturday in Ordinary Time

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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.

and you forgave the guilt of my sin

Psalm 31 (32)

Antiphon: Happy the man to whom the Lord imputes no blame.

Blessed is he whose sins are forgiven,
whose transgressions are hidden away.
Happy the man to whom the Lord imputes no blame,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
While I kept silent,
my bones grew old
as I groaned all day long.
While your hand lay heavy on me,
by day and by night,
my strength was dried up as if by summer heat.
I made my sin known to you,
and I did not hide my faults.
I said “I will bear witness against myself before the Lord,”
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
This is why every saint will pray to you in due time,
and even in the great flood he will not be touched.
You are my refuge, you will preserve me from trouble,
you will surround me with cries of deliverance.
I will give you understanding and teach you the path you are to follow;
I will keep watch over you.
Do not be like the horse and the mule,
without understanding:
if you approach them with bit or bridle,
they will not come near.
Many are the sufferings of the wicked,
but the Lord’s mercy will protect those who trust in him.
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you just.
Shout for joy, you upright of heart.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

Antiphon: Happy the man to whom the Lord imputes no blame.

and carry you where you do not wish to go

Friday of Seventh Week of Easter

John 21: 15 – 19
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
16 A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.”
19 (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Artist in the ambulance

Tomorrow will be the first time I step into a SCDF ambulance. This week we are posted out to various fire stations and hospital Accident and Emergency departments. On Tuesday and Wednesday I will be at Sengkang Fire Station. Thursday will be my off day. I will report to Changi General Hospital on Friday to Sunday.

I’m really not sure of what to expect. There is this feeling of excitement, yet a certain dread. Today our course commander remarked, ‘Gentlemen, in this line, we always say “No business is good business.” I somewhat think he is right. But I’m sure it will be an eye-opening experience.

Damn, I hope that my skills don’t fail me when the time comes.

I’ve had Saturday duty for the past two weeks. It is very draining. I spent most of Sunday asleep at home. On 26 April I attended Solemn Vespers and Benediction at SJI International’s chapel. It is a very nice place. Modern in design, yet faithful to rubric. Vespers was according to the extraordinary rite. The priests presiding were Fr Anthony Ho and Fr Augustine Tay. Wonderful, we should have this more often! Unfortunately, there are many people who rather see all this done away.

I have been missing Legion meetings for a long time, due to circumstances beyond my control. One week I was ill; another I had to attend a wedding; and for two weeks I have weekend duty. I will miss this week’s one because of the attachment. I feel bad for letting Joycelyn do all the work. Hang in there, girl!

I hate how these little things add to my confusion over my future plans. And how do we plan for tomorrow if we are not sure what comes? This is one thing that has always vexed me: uncertainty. It’s all very easy to say, ‘Let us have faith.’, but it’s harder than one can think. I have been vexed over many things in the past weeks. For instance, recently I’ve had friends in distress, yet my consoling and advice didn’t seem to help much. The only thing I could do is pray. I was also frustrated with my attachment to certain ideas, which I am trying to get rid off. Then my old habits all come into play as well. I am increasingly afraid that my aspiration is nothing but fantasy. Maybe I’m thinking too much. I don’t know. I often drift from a state of not thinking to thinking too much.

Angels preserve us!

SISPEC Week 8 and 9

Exercise Wanderer and Grandslam ended without any major problems. I didn’t even get any extras. Thank God it did not rain, or it would have been worse for everyone. There were a few close shaves though. I almost lost some important items, in the dark. Fortunately I managed to locate them in less than five minutes. If not for my section’s support I would be in real trouble. Thanks guys.

(I have to thank St Anthony and St Jude as well.)

We had three nights’ off this week. I didn’t leave the camp during any of them. I even offered to do CDT duty for my friend who booked out for nights off. I’m not sure; maybe I have lost interest in having fun. The COS asked me why I didn’t want to book out. I replied that I was not interested.

It doesn’t feel like Lent. I haven’t done much to change my ways. I haven’t fasted or abstained either. Maybe I had a bad start, using the Chinese New Year as an excuse. I never bothered with Friday abstinence ever since I entered the Army. But this is not the way. Since I have some free time now, I started praying the Office and the Rosary again last week. Lent is still here for two weeks. Surely I can do something.

On Saturday my section was having some perverse conversations, and I inevitably got dragged in. I took the opportunity to explain why pornography is sinful. Expectedly, I was laughed at by everyone. They said that I was abnormal, gay and mad. Terrible! I was not angry; rather I was sad. I had pity for all of them.

It looks like the conversion of the world will be an uphill task. But it is a mission that must be performed. I’m sure we can do it one soul at a time. Now, who wants to join in?

I’m still not able to clear my IPPT, and I only have a week left. Sigh. A part of me doesn’t want to fail the course; the other really does not care anymore. I’ve resumed reading My Daily Bread again. What I like about this book is that it always stresses that we should only be concerned with doing God’s will, and no other. God will still love me the same, even if I am a failure from SISPEC. Or have I displeased Him by not trying hard enough in my military training? If I fail now, will I fail again when I move to greater things?

Whatever the outcome, fiat voluntas tua!

Anno MMVIII: 2007 After Action Review

Oh yes, it has been an interesting year. Here are some of the events.

July – Graduation

September – Enlistment into National Service

I managed to achieve some of my personal goals this year, but failed at some.

Goals 2007

  1. Ensure survival of Legion – success! but with mixed results..
  2. Continued Discernment – success!
  3. Survive in NS – success!
  4. Get rid of repeating sins – failed!

1. Ensure survival of Legion

It is fortunate that we managed to get more members in 2007. Better yet, they are at a good age, around 13 to 14. I hope the trend will continue this year. The bonds between the members are also quite strong, especially during the camp.

The thing is, I don’t want people to come for the wrong reasons. The Legion is not a social club, it is a ministry. To reinforce this, we must start enforcing discipline and order from now on. We have to act on it ourselves as well in order to set the standard.

The two main things I have planned this year is to revive the praesidium at Nativity. The adult praesidium and the parish priest are quite supportive. I hope we do not disappoint. Alas, my schedule is making it very difficult to fit in with the other members, but with God’s help I am sure we can come up with a plan. The second thing is the proposed young adults praesidium. It will be under the jurisdiction of the senior curia. Our aim is to retain the matured youths in the senior Legion in order to fulfill the purpose of the youth Legion, that is, to groom members for the work of the senior Legion.

2. Continued Discernment

I have continued my discernment under the guidance of Fr Gerard. That settles one of my goals, which was to find a Spiritual Director. I should resolve to see him more often.

I haven’t visited the local diocesan seminary in a long time. I think the last time was Good Friday? I can’t really remember. Neither did I attend any of their recollections or retreats this year.

I have reflected on other vocations other than the priesthood. I have great esteem for Marriage. My own parents are proof that it is such a great thing, that demands untiring sacrifice. Still, I am not interested in pursuing relationships. People tell me that I ought to date in order to discern better, but then I feel that it is futile. I’ve gone on dates, but I come back feeling empty. I don’t know, it seems like a day within His courts is better than days elsewhere.

My experiences at work and in the army has also convinced me the importance of the lay apostle. With so many opportunities to reach out, the laity have really no excuse. There are so many people in need of Christ, of some hope in their lives. Who will pick up a man who has fallen into the gutter by accident? It is the passer-by, the average joe, the man in the street. I will continue my work with the Legion to further understand the lay vocation better.

There are so many questions to consider. Should I apply for the seminary after I finish my army? Should I finish my studies first? And should I work after that? What do I work as? When do I stop? Maybe I should just forgo my studies and go apply for a job.

So many questions, but in God’s time there will be clear answers.

3. Survive in NS

Thank God I did not get maimed or crippled, yet. I didn’t get into much serious trouble, despite some close calls. I hope it stays that way, because I have already served one extra on a Sunday. No more! No more!

The Army has made me physically fitter than I was in school. Still, I miss the standard often. I struggle with my Standing Broad Jump. I cannot clear the Standard Obstacle Course. It makes me wonder if I’m cut out for soldiering. Should I push myself more or take it easy? There are so many ways to justify either course of action.

But I remember praying the night before I enlisted, that I hope to be a good soldier to defend the ruling party people of this country.
4. Get rid of repeating sins

Where my physical health is pretty all right, my spiritual health is failing. Every week it’s the same sins being confessed all over again. I have not tried hard enough.

But I have a whole year to keep working at it. I shall!

Office of Readings for Tuesday 28 August 2007

Today is the Memorial of St Augustine of Hippo.

Reading from The Confessions of Saint Augustine

O Eternal Truth, true love and beloved eternity

Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my helper was I able to do so. I entered, then, and with the vision of my spirit, such as it was, I saw the incommutable light far above my spiritual ken and transcending my mind: not this common light which every carnal eye can see, nor any light of the same order; but greater, as though this common light were shining much more powerfully, far more brightly, and so extensively as to fill the universe. The light I saw was not the common light at all, but something different, utterly different, from all those things. Nor was it higher than my mind in the sense that oil floats on water or the sky is above the earth; it was exalted because this very light made me, and I was below it because by it I was made. Anyone who knows truth knows this light.

O eternal Truth, true Love, and beloved Eternity, you are my God, and for you I sigh day and night. As I first began to know you, you lifted me up and showed me that, while that which I might see exists indeed, I was not yet capable of seeing it. Your rays beamed intensely on me, beating back my feeble gaze, and I trembled with love and dread. I knew myself to be far away from you in a region of unlikeness, and I seemed to hear your voice from on high: “I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me”.

Accordingly I looked for a way to gain the strength I needed to enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who is also God, supreme over all things and blessed for ever. He called out, proclaiming I am the Way and Truth and the Life, nor had I known him as the food which, though I was not yet strong enough to eat it, he had mingled with our flesh, for the Word became flesh so that your Wisdom, through whom you created all things, might become for us the milk adapted to our infancy.

Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!
Lo, you were within,
but I outside, seeking there for you,
and upon the shapely things you have made
I rushed headlong – I, misshapen.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
They held me back far from you,
those things which would have no being,
were they not in you.
You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;
you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you;
I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;
you touched me, and I burned for your peace.

20岁操劳

My 20th birthday was last week. My brother congratulated me by saying, ‘Happy birthday! Another day closer to death!’ Thanks a lot. I needed that reality check.

I had dinner with Pei Suan on Thursday night. She said I look very 操劳. Alfred said the same thing the next day when we went to see the Bourne Ultimatum.

Damn, my eyebags are getting worse. It’s all those late nights man, I should have seen this coming. At least my acne isn’t too bad. I really need to go to bed earlier. The army’s sleeping hours are going to kill me. And I haven’t been exercising since I started work. I’m going to die on the island of rubber plantations.

I’m 20 already, and I should reflect on my life during the past two decades. Today’s Office of Readings are very timely.

120: The Chinese Martyrs

The Lord is the King of Martyrs, come let us adore him!

Being influenced by parodies of the excessively bloody film 300, I have created this.

Today 9 July is the Memorial of St Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions. They were canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paul II.

St Augustine Zhao Rong (1746-1815) is first on the list because he was the the first native Chinese priest to be martyred. He was captured and died in prison.

Other Martyrs include 14-year-old Wang Anna (1886 – 1900), who refused to renounce her faith. Before she was beheaded, she exclaimed, “The door of heaven is open to all”, three times murmuring: “Jesus”. She was beheaded by Boxer rebels on July 21, 1900, in Wei County, Hebei Province.

18-year-old Chi Zhuzi (1882 – 1900) was an illiterate peasant who at the age of seventeen decided to join the Church. His family objected and he suffered much. He was banished from his home and he took refuge in another village. When discovered, he was ordered back. On the way, the Boxers captured him and forced him to worship idols. He refused and admitted to being Catholic. They cut off his right arm and mutlilated him to death. His famous words were: “Every piece of my flesh, every drop of my blood will tell you that I am Christian”.

Foreign as well as native Catholics were persecuted. The Spanish Dominican Father Francesco Fernandez de Capillas was beheaded in 1648 while reciting the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. He is considered to be the Proto-Martyr of China, that is, the first martyr of China. The Dominican Fathers’ house in Serrangoon Gardens is named after him. Other Orders have illustrous martyrs as well, like the Paris Foreign Missions; Society of Jesus; Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, etc.

The entire list of the 120 martyrs can be found here. In total, 87 native Chinese and 33 foreign missionaries were killed between 1648 and 1930.

Recently the Holy Father has released a Motu Proprio on the Church in China. It would do everyone well to read it, especially all Chinese Catholics. This document expresses the Holy Father’s desire for religious freedom in China.

For centuries governments have tried to pit themselves against the Church by declaring the Church as an outsider. The Holy Father has stated, ‘No one in the Church is a foreigner, but all are citizens of the same People, members of the same Mystical Body of Christ.’ Indeed, the Body of Christ transcends all national, ethic, socio-economic boundaries. Let us pray that rulers will realize this.

The Holy Father has expressed a wish for dialogue with civil authorities in China. The prospect of negotiating with Communists may seem bleak, but great progress has been made with the government in Vietnam. Who knows if the same can be accomplished with China?

致命聖人之血乃信友之種籽。

Sanguis martyrum est semen christianorum.

The blood of maryrs is the seed of Christians.

The Holy Father has proposed that 24 May be made a day of prayer for the Church in China.

On that same day, the Catholics of the whole world – in particular those who are of Chinese origin – will demonstrate their fraternal solidarity and solicitude for you, asking the Lord of history for the gift of perseverance in witness, in the certainty that your sufferings past and present for the Holy Name of Jesus and your intrepid loyalty to his Vicar on earth will be rewarded, even if at times everything can seem a failure.

Therefore following the exhortation of our Holy Father, and in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in China, let us pray for them.

St Augustine and Companions, pray for us!

Our Lady of China, pray for us!

中華聖母﹐請為我們轉求﹗

Sources:

http://www.catholic.org.sg/cn/wordpress/?p=1678&page=1

http://www.chinesemartyrs.org/chinese_saints/index.htm

http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=7631

Office of Readings for Friday 8 June 2007

Reading: Job 40:1 – 42:6

The Lord turned to Job, and he said:
Is Shaddai’s opponent willing to give in?
Has God’s critic thought up an answer?

Job replied to the Lord:
My words have been frivolous: what can I reply?
I had better lay my finger on my lips.
I have spoken once… I will not speak again;
more than once… I will add nothing.

The Lord gave Job his answer from the heart of the tempest. He said:
Brace yourself like a fighter,
now it is my turn to ask questions and yours to inform me.
Do you really want to reverse my judgement,
and put me in the wrong to put yourself in the right?
Has your arm the strength of God’s,
can your voice thunder as loud?
If so, assume your dignity, your state,
robe yourself in majesty and splendour.
Let the spate of your anger flow free;
humiliate the haughty at a glance!
Cast one look at the proud and bring them low,
strike down the wicked where they stand.
Bury the lot of them in the ground,
shut them, silent-faced, in the dungeon.
I myself will be the first to acknowledge
that your own right hand can assure your triumph.

This was the answer Job gave to the Lord:
I know that you are all-powerful:
what you conceive, you can perform.
I am the man who obscured your designs
with my empty-headed words.
I have been holding forth on matters I cannot understand,
on marvels beyond me and my knowledge.
Listen, I have more to say,
now it is my turn to ask questions and yours to inform me.
I knew you then only by hearsay;
but now, having seen you with my own eyes,
I retract all I have said,
and in dust and ashes I repent.

A treatise of Bishop Baldwin of Canterbury
The Lord sees our thoughts and the intentions of our hearts

The Lord knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Without a doubt, every one of them is known to him, while we know only those which he lets us read by the grace of discernment. The spirit of man does not know all that is in man, nor all of the thoughts which he has, willingly or unwillingly. Man does not always perceive his thoughts as they really are. Having clouded vision, he does not discern them clearly with his mind’s eye.

Often under the guise of devotion a suggestion occurs to our mind – coming from our own thoughts or from another person or from the tempter – and in God’s eyes we do not deserve any reward for our virtue. For there are certain imitations of true virtues as also of vices which play tricks with the heart and bedazzle the mind’s vision. As a result, the appearance of goodness often seems to be in something which is evil, and equally the appearance of evil seems to be in something good. This is part of our wretchedness and ignorance, causing us anguish and anxiety.

It has been written: There are paths which seem to man to be right, but which in the end lead him to hell. To avoid this peril, Saint John gives us these words of advice: Test the spirits to see if they are from God. Now no one can test the spirits to see if they are from God unless God has given him discernment of spirits to enable him to investigate spiritual thoughts, inclinations and intentions with honest and true judgement. Discernment is the mother of all the virtues; everyone needs it either to guide the lives of others or to direct and reform his own life.

In the sphere of action, a right thought is one ruled by the will of God, and intentions are holy when directed single-mindedly toward him. In a word, we could see clearly through any action of ours, or into our entire lives, if we had a simple eye. A simple eye is an eye, and it is simple. This means that we see by right thinking what is to be done, and by our good intention we carry it out with simple honesty, because deceitful action is wrong. Right thinking does not permit mistakes; a good intention rules out pretence. This then is true discernment, a combination of right thinking and good intention.

Therefore, we must do all our actions in the light of discernment as if in God and in his presence.


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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