Dec 22, 2005

The light of Christ

Was reading some news at Catholic Online when I got to this one Christmas lights are reminder that Christ is world's light, pontiff says. I found that the most interesting part is the photo of the Pope...

Isn't he CUTE? *giggled*

Dec 20, 2005

Forget not...

...the meanings behind each Christmas items and Santa Claus. Do you know where is the origin of the Christmas fir tree? How about the candles? The star we put on top of the Christmas tree? The candy cane, the angels, the bells, the wreaths? Yes, ever little item that we always use to decorate the Christmas tree has its own meaning, including Santa. Surely, the early Christians did not put those things there without a purpose!

I did not know, and did not bother to find out why those items exist. I just thought that, perhaps they are the creations of the commercial world, so why should I pay attention to those unimportant decorations? But I know that I was wrong when I stumbled upon this nice site, The Real Meaning of Christmas -- Teach the Children.

I strongly encourage teenagers, youths and parents to visit this site. And reveal the true meaning of this important event to everyone you know!

May God bless us all as we journey from Advent into Christmas.

Dec 18, 2005

Advent candles

The 4th Sunday of Advent is here. The last week of Advent before we welcome Christmas. The last Advent candle is lighted.

I have been wondering why there are 2 colours for the candles - 3 violets and 1 pink. (Silly me, I should have search for it weeks ago! Shouldn't have waited till today!) But thank God, I found a site explaining the meaning of the different colours. Click here for the detailed explanation of Advent wreath and candles.

For those of you who are like myself, here are the explanations:

Violet candles, symbolizing penance and preparatory sacrifices made at this
time, are lit on the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Advent. The rose
candle is lit on the third Sunday ('Gaudete Sunday', when the priest also wears
rose vestments at Mass), a day of rejoicing because the faithful have arrived at
the midpoint of Advent and anticipate Christmas.

God bless and have a great week ahead! ;)

Too early to sing?

As usual on every Sunday morning, I found my way to my favourite pew -- the choir's seat. I knelt down, thanked the Heavenly Father for the opportunity to attend this gathering of His people, then scanned through the song list and got the pages bookmarked, and got ready for the Entrance Hymn.

At 7.30am sharp, the priest signaled from the main door to the Commentator sitting right next to me, to start the introduction. The Entrance hymn was announced, the Choirmaster banged on the piano, the choir sang as the congregation followed. As always, I was busy making sure I
got the alto part correct so I did not notice anything. At the Lord Have Mercy, I just realised that something was wrong with the new projector and the choirmaster's son was doing his best to fix the problem. While I was singing Lord Have Mercy, my eyes fell upon the congregation. To my
surprise, they seemed so lost without the projector, but worse still, their mouths were CLOSED.

I wondered, was the choir singing so badly that the congregation could not follow, or they totally cannot do without the projector? We have been singing the Lord Have Mercy tune every Mass, so no matter what happened the congregation should know the lyrics (which is only the repetition of 'Lord have mercy' and 'Christ have mercy'). Even without the piano (or guitar or any musical instruments as accompaniment), the Mass tunes should not be a problem at all. But too bad, it is a problem in the local churches -- congregations do not sing.

As God's children, we are not supposed to be afraid when it comes to singing during Mass, or any time for the Lord's glory. Even if we are not familiar with the hymns, we still should try and sing along. There is nothing to fear. God's spirit in us will guide us, as long as we are willing to open our mouth and sing with our hearts. So said St.Augustine, 'Singing is praying twice'.

Perhaps some will complain that they do not have a good voice. Well, do you think everyone who is singing in the choir has good voice? No, not really. One good choir does not depend on the individual voices, or else it should not be called a choir. Instead it is the many individuals who
sing in one voice that makes the choir. So, not having a good voice is not a good excuse.

When we sing, we are not singing for ourselves, nor are we singing for the other brothers and sisters; we are singing exclusively for GOD. God and God ONLY. So do not bother at how you are going to sound. The only thing that matters to Him is that we sing with a sincere heart.

If you call yourself a child of God, then don't hesitate to sing His songs. You will find it easy to master the songs. ;)

Psalm 47:1 Clap your hands all you people, and shout to God with joy!

Dec 13, 2005

Invitation from Jesus

As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there is acelebration in my honor and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated.

During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer and closer.

It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me.

As you know, the celebration of my birthday began many years ago.

At first people seemed to understand and be thankful of all that I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the reason for the celebration.

Family and friends get together and have a lot of fun, but they don't know the meaning of the celebration. I remember that last year there was a great feast in my honor. The dinner table was full of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts and chocolates. The decorations were exquisite and there were many, many beautifully wrapped gifts.

But, do you want to know something? I wasn't invited.

The party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside, theyclosed the door in my face .. and I wanted to be with them and share their table.

In truth, that didn't surprise me because in the last few years all close theirdoors to me. Since I wasn't invited, I decided to enter the party without making any noise. I went in and stood in a corner.

They were all drinking; there were some who were drunk and telling jokes and laughing at everything. They were having a grand time.

To top it all, this big fat man all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the room yelling Ho-Ho-Ho! He seemed drunk. He sat on the sofa and all the children ran to him, saying: "Santa Claus, Santa Claus" as if the party were in his honor!

At midnight all the people began to hug each other; I extended my arms waiting for someone to hug me and do you know no-one hugged me.

Suddenly they all began to share gifts. They opened them one by one with great expectation. When all had been opened, I looked to see if, maybe, there was one for me. What would you feel if on your birthday everybody shared gifts and you did not get one?

I then understood that I was unwanted at that party and quietly left.

Every year it gets worse. People only remember the gifts, the parties, to eat and drink, and nobody remembers me.

I would like this Christmas that you allow me to enter into your life.

I would like that you recognize the fact that almost two thousand years ago I came to this world to give my life for you, on the cross, to save you.

Today, I only want that you believe this with all your heart.

I want to share something with you. As many didn't invite me to their party, I will have my own celebration, a grandiose party that no one has ever imagined, a spectacular party. I'm still making the final arrangements..

Today I am sending out many invitations and there is an invitation for you. I want to know if you wish to attend and I will make a reservation for you and write your name with golden letters in my great guest book.

Only those on the guest list will be invited to the party. Those who don't answer the invite, will be left outside. Be prepared because when all is ready you will be part of my great party.

See you soon. I Love you!

- Jesus

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How do you feel after reading this letter from the Lord? Please.. do not left Jesus out this Christmas. Remember, Jesus is the centre of Christmas. It's Him and Him alone. This is already the Third Week of Advent, get yourself ready for His coming this year if you haven't done so.

God bless!

Dec 12, 2005

Advent preparation

Finally, I made it to the confessional this morning. Waited for 1 1/2hours for my turn. Gosh the wait was torturing. I wished I could confess my sins right then. There were even people who cut the cue. I wasn't happy, but I knew that I was willing to wait no matter how long it would take me.

I couldn't help but shedding tears when I was confessing my sins. I felt really awful. Really, really awful to have hurt and disappointed the One whom I love so much. I've seen people coming out from the cubicle with red watery eyes, but I've never expected myself to be emotional during Confession. I wonder if my parents saw me wiping off my tears or not. I felt kind of embarrased.

Anyhow, it is wonderful to receive Reconciliation, my burden of sin has been totally lifted up! I'm freeeeee!!!! And I'm all ready to welcome the birth of Jesus... into my heart!!

For all of you who have experienced God's mercy, shall we send Him our greatest gratitude? "Thank You, Lord" by Don Moen... (if you don't know how to sing, just say it out loud!) =)

I come before you today
And there's just one thing that I want to say
Thank you lord, Thank you lord
For all you've given to me
For all the blessings that I cannot see
Thank you lord, Thank you lord

With a grateful heart
With a song of praise
With an outstretch arm
I will bless your name
Thank you lord
I just wanna thank you lord
Thank you lord I just wanna thank you lord
Thank you lord

For all you've done in my life
You took my darkness and gave me your light
Thank you lord, Thank you lord
You took my sin and my shame
You took my sickness and healed all my pain
Thank you lord, Thank you lord

Dec 11, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia

I didn't know that this movie has somewhat caused a little disputes, until I read the post by Mark.

Before I watched this movie, Protestant friends told me that it is a Christian movie and the lion, Aslan, represented Christ. When I heard that it reflected Christianity, I was really excited about it and went to the cinema yesterday for it. I really enjoyed the show! I loved the scene where Aslan gave up his life, out of love for Edmund, to the witch and his resurrection. It reminded me of Jesus' sufferings, His sacrifices and His innocent and shameful death, all out of love for mankind.

I totally agree with Andrew Greeley, that Jesus can never be compared to the lion Aslan in the film. But why not think of it this way: This film is a reminder for us (who have watched it) to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ this Christmas. He could have chose to come as He deserved, but no, instead He chose a humble birth into this sinful world; the only purpose, is to take our place at the altar of sacrifice.

It is never wrong to imagine, but our imaginations must be able to help us grow more in love with God.

Streets of Gold

It was only four days to Christmas and Pedro was doing last minute shopping in the crowded store, buying presents for people who mostly did not need them. Bored and tired, he pushed his loaded shopping trolley into the queue for the check-out counter, ready for a long wait.

In front of him were two small children, a boy of about six and a younger girl. Wearing ragged clothes and torn shoes they looked pale and hungry. The boy clutched a few dollar notes in his hand, while the girl carried a beautiful pair of gold-coloured slippers.

On finally reaching the check-out desk, the girl carefully placed the precious slippers on the counter, while the sales girl clicked the cash register and said, "That will be $8.50 please." The boy counted the crumpled dollar notes and searched deep into his pockets, but came up with a total of only $5.20. Sadly he said, "Sorry, I guess we will have to put them back."

At this the girl began to sob softly. "But Jesus would have loved these shoes," she cried. Putting his arm around her the boy whispered gently, "Don't cry! We'll find some more money and come back, maybe tomorrow." Quickly Pedro leaned over them and handed $5 to the cashier; after all it was Christmas! Suddenly a pair of small arms came around his leg and a little voice said, "Thank you mister. Mummy will be so happy."

Turning to the little one, Pedro asked, "What did you mean when you said Jesus would love the shoes?"

The boy answered, "Our mummy is very sick and going to heaven. Daddy says she might go before Christmas, to be with Jesus."

The little girl added solemnly, "And my Sunday School teacher says the streets of heaven are paved with gold, just like these shoes. Won't mummy look beautiful as she walks to meet Jesus?"

The teacher had obviously read Rev 21:21. Tears came to Pedro's eyes as he looked into the girl's innocent face and said, "Yes, I'm sure she will."

Set in the midst of mad consumer spending, this simple story says much about the true spirit of Christmas, which is not about expensive presents and sumptuous dinners. It is about the love in our hearts which leads us to share with others, as Jesus came to share himself with us. It is about simplicity and generosity, loving and goodness, caring and sharing.

It is not enough at Christmas to gaze in reverence and awe at the baby in the manger. We need to look beyond the romantic setting, the lights, decorations, colours and scenery, ans ask ourselves what was God trying to tell us in coming among us in such poverty and simplicity - a stable, a manger, animals and shepherds!

Indeed, the manger at Bethlehem contradicts all our fixed ideas about importance, success, protocol and power. If we could really understand what God is saying and if we lived by the Christmas spirit, in our values, priorities and relationships, what a difference it would make our personal lives, our families, our communities and our Church?

Christmas would not be just another glitzy festival, but a truly life-changing and enriching spiritual experience, enabling us to recognise Emmanuel, 'God with us' -- in the ordinary, the unexpected, the familiar. To see Him in the joys and sorrows of daily living and serve Him in the people who accompany us as we journey together towards the "streets of gold".

- Bro. Columba Gleeson

(Bro Columba is a De La Sale Brother who worked in schools in Sarawak from 1958-1987. From 1988-1997, he was the editor of Today's Catholic and was also involved in faith formation and catechetical programmes in the Archdiocese. He now works with the Brothers in Belfast, Northern Ireland.)

Am waiting...

...eagerly for my turn to be one of the members of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS)!! Dearest Lord, when will my turn come?

Making A Commitment to the Carmelite Way of Life

KUCHING:- On the Solemnity of Christ the King (20 Nov) four members of the OCDS in Kuching made their 1st Promise in the presence of the OCDS General Delegate from Rome, Fr.Aloysius Deeney, in a simple ceremony during the Sunday Mass at the Carmelite Chapel.

The four members - Adeline Ann, Alice Chew, Juliana Lim and Stephen Tai - had undergone a period of formation, which confirmed them in the certitude that God is calling them to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the world in union with Mary, Mother of God, and under Her protection, as Secular members of Carmel.

The four promised their Superiors of the Order of the Teresian Carmel to tend toward evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, obedience, and of the Beatitudes, for three years.

Meanwhile, on 19 Nov the General Delegate administered the Rite of Admission for one member, Jane Maken, to Formation in the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.

In this period of formation, she will descern her calling to be a Secular Carmelite. During the Rite of Admission she received the scapular as the habit of the Order of Carmel.

The General Delegate also talked to the whole community on Part III of the OCDS Constitution - Witness to the experience of God. This calls for a relationship with God through prayer by love, detachment and humility. He further encouraged all members to strive to grow as Carmelite Catholics with 'determined determination' as advised by St.Teresa of Avila in the Way of Perfect.

- Taken from Today's Catholic, Vol.17 No.9

Dec 2, 2005

Our Lady's Message from Medjugorje

This is for those who are devoted to Our Lady but do not know about Her messages that she will send every month on the 25th. Please heed Our Lady's call to prayers, especially during this time of Advent.

Message of November 25, 2005
"Dear children! Also today I call you to pray, pray, pray until prayer becomes life for you. Little children, at this time, in a special way, I pray before God to give you the gift of faith. Only in faith will you discover the joy of the gift of life that God has given you. Your heart will be joyful thinking of eternity. I am with you and love you with a tender love. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Man of Little Faith

I've just came back from a long and painful field trip. It was the toughest one for me. We had to walk for 4 hours to reach the village we were heading to, climbing up a lot of hills, which slowed me down. I have to admit that I'm getting older and my health is failing me. I almost lost my life if the Lord had not travelled with me. Blaming myself during the trip, I asked myself why I have to go through what I've been through. Yes, I started to lose hope and even faith. I wanted to give up.

But this particular song gave me a wake up call. The rough journey during the field trip represents the journey of life everyone has to go through. Life is not a bed of roses, but even if it is, roses have thorns and so is life. There is always ups and downs that we have to encounter.

Along life's road
There will be sunshine and rain
Roses and thorns, laughter and pain
And 'cross the miles
You will face mountains so steep
Deserts so long and valleys so deep
Sometimes the Journey's gentle
Sometimes the cold winds blow
But I want you to remember
I want you to know

You will never walk alone
As long as you have faith
Jesus will be right beside you all the way
You may feel you're far from home
But home is where He is
And he'll be there down every road
You will never walk alone

The path will wind
And you will find wonders and fears
Labors of love and a few falling tears
Across the years
There will be some twists and turns
Mistakes to make and lessons to learn
Sometimes the journey's gentle
Sometimes the cold winds blow
But I want you to remember where ever you may go

Jesus knows your joy, Jesus knows your need

He will go the distance with you faithfully

I know I'll be facing lots of difficulties in my thesis, and it has already started. Whether or not I can complete my work by the end of April, it all depends on my faith on the Lord. I'm praying that I will not think of giving up no matter what happened, 'cos I know that Jesus will be there all the time. Amen.