Jun 28, 2006

Away for seminar


I just came back from the Seminar a few hours ago. The theme for the seminar is Fan Into Flame, with charismatic revival as the main topic. It was a shock because I've never seen another international catholic worship group that is really on fire for God... they are as good as those from Hillsong Australia! The speakers (from ELIM) told us what worship is all about and how one should worship; what it is to be spiritually revived, and what will happen when revival strikes.

The message from these speakers were so strong that all of us could feel the Spirit at work even when they were sharing (and not ministering). I was also personally touched by the Spirit during the worship session. I somehow was transformed to have a greater fear of the Lord.

Well, not yet... the best is yet to come. According to them, this was just a foretaste of God's glory. They showed us a video of their past seminars. All I can say is... AWESOME! We saw hundreds slained in the Spirit as the Elder of ELIM community, Bro. Willy lifted his hands to pray over the crowds. It was just AMAZING!

If you ask me what I am expecting in the next session, which is tomorrow, my answer is still the same: I don't know. Perhaps, after this first session, I will be expecting the unexpected from God. I will also try to take some photos tomorrow, if possible.

Please remember me in your prayers. Thank you!

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I will be away from blogging for 3 days, starting tomorrow.

I'm attending a seminar (28-30th June) by the ELIM group and GenRev from the Philippines for the whole day. I paid RM75 (equivalent to USD21) for the whole seminar, another half is sponsored by the choir fund (where the actual amount is RM150 or USD42 per person). I anticipated the seminar, but I don't know what to expect. Well, let's see what surprises God has in store for me for that 3 days.

For some pictures of GenRev concert (which we will be having too on the night of 29th & 30th June), pay a visit to my fellow church friend's post at Celt's Cryptic Sphere.

Keep me in my prayers! Thank you!

Changing religion

Another piece of news, similar but not the same with what happened in Pakistan. This time, it is happening in Malaysia. I heard about it in Sunday Mass, but I couldn't find the article or any report on it. As I reached home today and checked my mails, I received this in my mailbox. Thank you, Jude!

So here's the news, from Zenit:

Malaysian Woman Not Allowed to Abandon Islam
Prayer Campaign Launched in Her Favor

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, JUNE 26, 2006 ( Christian Churches in Malaysia have launched a prayer campaign to support a woman whose conversion to Christianity is prohibited by law.

Lina Joy converted to Christianity in 1998, and applied to the National Registration Department to officially change her religion from Muslim to Christian, reported AsiaNews.

She was refused then, and subsequently in a court of appeal, because as an ethnic Malay she is legally Muslim, and prohibited from changing religions.

AsiaNews reported that two legal systems coexist in Malaysia: one based on Islam and the other on the constitution.

The constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but Islamic law prohibits conversion to any other religion.

Religious issues involving Malays, including conversions to other religions, fall under the jurisdiction of Islamic courts and not under the country's general laws.

AsiaNews also reports that if Lina Joy is not recognized as a Christian, she can only marry a Muslim in a Muslim ceremony, and will be subject to Islamic family and inheritance laws.

Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing of Melaka-Johor, chairman of the Christian Federation of Malaysia, asked Christians to support Lina Joy with prayers, reported AsiaNews.

The prelate asked the faithful to call on God to support Lina Joy, whatever the judges' verdict might be, and grant the judges the wisdom they need to pass judgment in the case, and Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi the strength to "uphold the constitution."

It is expected that the federal court will decide this week if the law can or cannot recognize her conversion.
I humbly ask your prayers for Lina Joy. Thank you!

Jun 26, 2006

Our Lady's Message on 25th June

Message of Our Lady from Medjugorje:

“Dear children! With great joy in my heart I thank you for all the prayers that, in these days, you offered for my intentions. Know, little children, that you will not regret it, neither you nor your children. God will reward you with great graces and you will earn eternal life. I am near you and thank all those who, through these years, have accepted my messages, have poured them into their life and decided for holiness and peace. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Children Of Medjugorje, Inc.

Woman persecuted for leaving Islam

News reported by Compas Direct.

Happened in Pakistan just recently. It is really sad to know that persecution of Christians are still happening all over the world from time to time.

I had one encounter with a Muslim the other day when I was chatting in a Catholic chatroom in Yahoo. This guy popped up a question: Does anyone know how many Muslims have been persecuted by Christians over the centuries? And I responded by turning his question around: Do you know that how many Christians are persecuted by Muslims over the centuries up to today? He was rather mad with my respond. I believe that I didn't say anything wrong. That's a fact, and what happened to this woman who converted to Catholic proves it all.

The other thing that really saddens me is this:

The Christian couple stayed with the nuns for eight months but was eventually forced to flee after one of the sisters treated them badly and informed the Muslim community that Shafi was a convert.
Oh dear... that sister's action was so un-Catholic! She has indirectly betrayed Christ!!

Let us remember the couple in our prayers, may the Lord keep them safe under His care. Mary, our Beloved Mother, you and St. Joseph flee from Herod to protect little Baby Jesus, please pray and watch over this couple, Shafi and Paul and their two children, so that they can continue to evangelize and bear witness to the Father. St. Joseph, foster father to our Lord, pray for us. Amen.

via Kenny

Prayer Request

As I clicked the "Publish Post" button to submit my most recent post on homosexual march in Paris on 25 June, I received an SMS from my best pal. He told me that he would be meeting his 'boyfriend' today, and that he would be having a two-week 'honeymoon' with him.

I lost my sense of direction that very moment. I had no idea how I should convince him that what he felt for the other guy is not true 'love', which he's been searching for. Worse still, he is not a Christian. Using the Bible and the teachings of the Church to prove that what he's doing is wrong will never work.

As a Catholic, I disapprove homosexuality and homosexual acts; yet my best buddy turned out to be a homosexual. It hurts me so to see him going the wrong way, and all I can do is sit here and keep worrying and do nothing.

I humbly ask for a short prayer from all of you who are reading this post for this friend of mine. Please pray that he would not go any further in their relationship. And let us also join our prayers for homosexuality in our world today.

I thank you for your kindness and your prayers! God bless.

Lord, have mercy on my friend and show him Your tremendous love. Let Your Will be done, my Lord. Mary, our Mother, please guide your children who have gone astray!

What the Church says about homosexuality and a short reflection by Alan.

Jun 25, 2006

Homosexuals strike again

BBC News reported on the annual gay pride march in Paris today.

Marchers called for greater equality, the legalisation of same sex civil marriages and the right for homosexual couples to adopt children.

No matter how many marches as such will be carried out, and no matter how many people turned up to support the gay pride, the Church will never approve same sex marriages.

These are what Pope Ben XVI said regarding homosexuality and gay marriage:

Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered to an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder...

-- Letter to the Bishops, 1986, quoted in National Catholic Reporter

Above all, we must have great respect for these people who also suffer and who want to find their own way of correct living. On the other hand, to create a legal form of a kind of homosexual marriage, in reality, does not help these people.

-- Interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, 2004


Jun 23, 2006

A Boring Religion

I strongly believe that I'm not a Catholic by coincidence. I first came to know Christ not because I wanted to, it was because He first revealed Himself to me. In the same way, He revealed Himself to each and every Catholic christian out there. Therefore, the fact that we are Catholics this very moment is for a reason.

I heard many Catholics, younger and older ones as well, complaining that being a true Catholic makes life boring. Or let me put it another way. Mass is boring; the homily is boring; the Eucharist... well, it makes no sense; the Bible... what proof is there that it is really the Word of God; the teachings of the Church are boring and un-cool; following the teachings takes away our freedom to do anything we want etc. (Anything else to be added to the list?). And so, in a nut shell, Catholicism is a really boring religion.

Is that really true? How sure are you that it is true? Have you ever been seriously and faithfully observing the Church teachings? Have you ever reflected on a homily after Mass? If not, then please don't complain or say that the Catholic faith is boring, because you've missed all the goodies many faithful Catholics have found in the close relationship with Christ.

Living a life faithful to the Church and her teachings is not an easy job. It's very challenging. Much more challenging that you could ever imagine. It's not easy when everyone says "it's ok" but you say "it's not"; it's not easy to swim against the current when everybody else swim with it.

I think that the only reason behind this excuse is that people RUN AWAY from the challenges they are facing, because these challenges will cause them to be different and eventually, they will be excluded from their group of friends or society.

Long time ago when I first started to know God, yes it was boring for me too. But today, after going through so many ups and downs with Him by my side, I truly realized that our God is not a boring God, and in fact He's a very humorous and enjoyable Friend to be with.

Like Fr. Marcial's message to the youths, let us "be proud to be a Christian and to behave like one." It's time to take up the challenge.

Inspired by Life on The Rock.

Jun 21, 2006

Catholic Carnival is up!

This week's Catholic Carnival is up. Visit Catholic Carnival - Corpus Christi Edition for a good read!

Chastity and adultery

Some of my non-christian and Christian friends like to ask me the question about chastity.

I told them that keeping oneself chaste is important but not easy. However, if one really desires to live a life of chastity, it is not impossible for God willingly guides if only one asks.

To be honest, I too, have experienced difficulties in keeping myself chaste. In the past, I had a wrong concept about purity and chastity. I cannot deny that I've watched porn before, out of pure curiosity. And I thought that as long as I don't desire for it, it would be alright. But this is so wrong! Do you know that even the singles commit adultery? We sin even if we only fantasize about having an affair.

...this is also true for those who are single, for their Spouse is God. Any Christian who is not in a valid, committed marriage has God as their Spouse. Therefore, living as if married without being married is adultery against God.
That also means... I (and you) have committed an adultery against God too by watching porn, be it out of curiosity, for fun or any other reasons.

That's why Jesus is actually addressing everyone, single and married, when he spoke in Matthew 5:27-32.

Our eyes caused us to sin if we watch movies with lust-producing scenes, for example, when these scenes imbed themselves in our mind and affect our thinking. We must 'tear out and throw away' whatever endangers purity and holy thoughts.

Perhaps, there is only one way to make sure we live a life that pleases God, that is to always keep our eyes on Jesus and fill our thoughts with Him. Not an easy task, is it?

Inspired by Terry A. Modica

Jun 16, 2006

Being too 'salty'

Many many years ago when I just got to know the Catholic Faith better, I tried to talk a rather-close Catholic friend from mixing with a group of 'bad' students. When 'talking' worked no wonders, I used another tactic to keep her away from them: cold war. I refused to talk to her, partly due to jealousy (because she spent more time with them than with me), while another reason was to stop her from being one of them.

Little did I know that I've made a big mistake.

After a week or so, she openly declared that she belonged to the group and that I had no right to tell her what to do. She even threw me these words: "Is this what a Christian should be? To judge others and labelling them as 'bad'? They are human and they need friends too. If you're reluctant to be friends with them, then I'll be their friends." Words that cut deeply into my heart and my soul. Since then, she started to follow them in almost everything -- being underdressed, smoking, drinking, flirting with guys, showing disrespect to teachers and other students, and worst of all, she attended Mass less frequently.

This, perhaps, is my greatest regret in my whole life. Only after a few years did I realize that my approach was so wrong, even though I did have a good intention. Every time I saw her father in church, I felt so guilty... I could not forgive myself for doing what I've did - I caused my friend to go astray.

Today, after so many years since the last time I talked to her and her father, I met her parents while having a family dinner at a stall. They greeted us and even sat together with us at one table. I'm so glad that my friend is working in Brunei now, and that she's still single (I thought she might have gotten herself pregnant by her boyfriend, which happened to some other friends of mine). I thank the Lord for His constant watch over her and His blessings on her and her family. It's a relief and a joy to know that she's doing well.

The Gospel reading on Tuesday (Matt 5:13-16) mentioned about the role of Christians as salts of this world. We are not supposed to lose our 'saltiness', nor can we be too 'salty'. Terry A. Modica said it well.

As Christians, we have been made flavorful, that is to say, we have within us the fullness of the life of God's Holy Spirit. The useful Christian is one who evangelizes by adding the seasoning of Christ's love to another person's life. But beware of trying too hard! What happens when food is over-salted? It tastes horrible. No matter how good our intentions might be, if we come on too strong, we do more harm than good.

The lesson I've learnt from this mistake which I've made: never act without God. Since we call ourselves Christians and admit that God is our Father, we should also ask for His opinion and advice regarding the decisions we made, so that whatever we do, we do it for Him and under His divine guidance.

If the Lord would give me a chance to meet her again, I shall apologise to her for the hurt I've inflicted years back.

Inspired by: Tuesday reflection by Terry A. Modica.

Jun 11, 2006

The Mighty Hands

The Hands that made the world
and gave the sun and moon their light
are the tiny Hands of a baby born
one cold December night

The Hands that stilled the wind
and tamed the fury of the sea
are the calloused Hands of a carpenter
who lived in poverty

The Hands that held the power
to break the binding chains of sin
are the gentle Hands that washed the feet
of tired and dusty men

The Hands that cleansed the leper,
healed the sick and raised the dead
are the praying Hands of one who cried,
"Not My will, but Thine instead"

The Hands that shaped the universe
and flung the stars in space
are the nail-pierced Hands of a dying man
who suffered in our place

The Hands of our Creator,
Lord and King of Heaven above,
are the Savior's Hands forever reaching out
to us with love!"
~B. J. Hoff

...and also the Hands of my Redeemer dearest, who healed my illness and my pain!

I apologize to the faithful readers of my humble and nothing-special blog for not updating it for two weeks. I was sick with respiratory inflammation but I thank the Lord for the speedy recovery He granted me. I was 80% healed in just 3 days (praise the Lord!), but took a few more days off to rest and also to entertain some visiting relatives from another town. Please join me in thanking the Lord for His mercy and love He has shown upon me.

Thank you and God bless!

Jun 10, 2006

It's time to change... your lifestyle

I read a short reflection for some readings in May. When I contemplated on it, our lifestyle is one of the factors that have separated us from God.

Where did our money go to? What kind of food are we eating? How do we spend our time, more on God, or more on entertainment? What do we think about sex, and what is our perception on sex?

When the Gentiles were asked to "abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from illicit sexual union (Acts 15:29)," it is comparable to telling a modern person to stop buying certain foods, to quit eating meat or drinking caffeine, and to stop watching prime time TV with all it's pornographic innuendoes.

"Lifestyle is the false god of modern American church (and church all around the world). Our comforts, pleasure, and entertainment mean more to us than loving God. That's where our time and money goes, and God gets the leftovers, if there are any." - OBOB

Think about that.

Family Seminar 19-21 May

I attended a family seminar specially organised by our Parish, in our Parish, for our parishioners (of course, we welcome those who are not from our parish too!). The speaker was Martin Jalley, a well-known trainer and author in West Malaysia. He is also known for training and supporting Catholic Youths.

These were roughly the topics he touched on while he was here:
  • Catholic parenting - The 7 major threats on family life according to the teachings of Pope John Paul II; how to have a healthy relationship with children; influences on youths today etc.
  • Children/Youth session - What is life; how to make the most out of life; the role of children/youths toward parents; what is love, sex etc.
  • Family session - Make a difference; drama by youths etc.
Overall, I've learned a lot from this simple talk. I attended even the parents session - I wanted to know what Pope John Paul II had mentioned about family life, and I also got to know a little about Vatican II. And the most important thing I've learnt is that life as a Christian is never easy, especially in a world with so many false 'truths'. We as Christians should swim against the current. That is why most of the times I feel so left out... I say 'no' to what my non-Christian friends say 'yes'. Perhaps, this is a sign that I am travelling in the right path...

Here are some of the pictures taken during the drama participated by youths who went for the Youth session. We enjoyed ourselves!

Uncle Martin talking to the youths.

Youths in action!

David and Goliath.

"Trust in the Lord with all your hearts..." I'm at the first row, 3rd from the left.

Never ending Da Vinci Code

Yup. It's the Da Vinci Code again. But this time, I smiled when I read the news. I really wonder, if a country as conservative as China banned the movie to respect Catholics, why can't Malaysia do the same?

Here's the news.

Via The Da Vinci Code

China bans Da Vinci Code after all

Even though the movie has been playing in China for three weeks already, making over 13 million dollars so far, the Chinese government has decided to ban The Da Vinci Code after all. "The government wants to show respect to [the Catholics'] will and doesn't want to cause trouble because of one movie. The Chinese government has always been very cautious on ethnic and religious issues," was the official word. Sony is naturally dissapointed, but happy that the movie did a substantial amount of business before it was pulled.

Jun 2, 2006

My wedding fantasy

I had the opportunity to help singing for a wedding Mass yesterday morning. The Youth Music Ministry was supposed to be singing but sadly, only 3 of us turned up. I really pitied the couples. They are frequent Chinese Mass goers but they have to pick English hymns which they are not familiar with. So in the end, the hymns they picked were so out-of-place... they just didn't fit into the wedding Mass. I (we) did my (our) best to sing for them, despite my blocked nose.

I loved the part where the two of them exchanged their vows, and this time my mind started to wander...

Priest: Audrey, have you come here freely without reservation to give yourself to the Lord in marriage?
Me: Yes I have!

Priest: Roger, have you come here freely...
(My mind came back for a while...)

Priest: Since it is your intention to enter into marriage, join your right hands and declare your consent before God and His Church.

Voice: I, the Lord, take you, Audrey, to be mine. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.
Me: (my heart was melting, looking at the Crucifix) Me to, my Lord...

Voice: Audrey, take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Me:(Speechless. Eyes wet. Continued staring at the Crucifix)

Somebody nudged me.

I 'woke up', turned to the back and heard my friend saying to me: "Audrey, what's the next song?"

A thought came to me that night. Since I've got nothing to do now (am on holidays now, waiting for exam results), why not I stay at the Convent for a month or so to seriously think about my vocation? I need a quiet place with the correct environment so that I can spend the whole month in prayers and reflection. I really love the Lord, I love Him to the extend of leaving everything I have to follow His way of life - the life of holiness. I've been through the times when I totally excluded Him from my life, and it was really torturous and painful to live without Him. This is what you call LOVE, isn't it? The very force that lifts you up when everyone and everything else in this world let you down.

I'm still wondering... am I called to a single consecrated life or to a religious life? Please pray for me, and also for all those who are discerning.

I love You, Lord!