Sep 6, 2008

WYD'08 Syd II: Our Daily Journey

A lovely dinner with our host family in Sydney. Thank you all for your hospitality! Standing (left to right): Me, Shawna, Pete. Seated: Sarah (right) and her elder sister, Anne..

Last Monday was a holiday for all Malaysians for the celebration of our Independence Day. Sr. Perpetua, the Franciscan nun who went together with us to WYD invited a friend and I over to her place (convent) to have a catch-up session with each other. We had lunch and at the same time, we shared with each other what we’ve received from WYD08.

When it was my turn, I expressed my worries as to why my testimony was different from others. Most pilgrims who have been to World Youth Day would probably say that WYD is all about the Catechesis by the Bishops, the prayers (i.e. Station of the Cross, Taizé, etc.), fellowship with many other pilgrims from all corners of the world, the exchange of cultures, the journey from one location to another, meeting the Pope, and how these encounters actually touched them but for me, it was rather a different experience. According to Sr. Perpetua, it is more to the spiritual aspect.

From the first day I landed in Melbourne till the last day when I left Sydney, the journey we had was in a hassle. We had to wake up very early in the morning, rushed to the church for Morning Mass and after a fast breakfast, we rushed off to the venue of respective events. Those who were younger and stronger walked in front with faster pace, while the rest were trying to catch up with them. Occasionally, we had to stop just to wait for those who were far behind and because of that, those at the front were not very happy and made some nasty remarks. The whole journey on foot from one place to another was unpleasant, particularly when all of us had to rush and we could barely enjoy the scenery or observe our surroundings. The worst part was when we had to walk up a sloppy road, which left me breathless at one point of time and I was almost left behind by my group! Every night by the time we reached home (of our hosts), it was almost midnight.

Having our group photo snapped for remembrance at St. Joseph Church, Chelsea, Melbourne. Our priest in his (white) cassock is Fr. Simon.

This journey of rushing from east to west made me realize something: Life itself is a journey. Some people travel through life hastily, so fast that they let many beautiful moments pass them by. Some took their sweet time as they savour every moment of life, be it times of sorrow or happiness. Some others, even though they are way ahead, they are still willing to stop and wait, or even go back for their friends who are left behind. Of course, there are also those who refuse to wait and prefer to be Number 1 in everything, and they would do anything to reach their destination.

Someone told me that this is the reality of life; life goes on no matter what happened and it does not wait for anybody. Time and tide wait for no men, as the saying goes. Yes, this is true about our present life. However, I still believe that each of us does not need to follow the crowd and the worldly trend. We are all given the choice of how we want to live our lives. Why do we have to rush through life? Why need to compete with our fellow travellers? Is the final achievement more important than the process or the journey of getting there? At Judgement Day, would we be judged according to our achievement?

Life is short, and it is not easy to live a life we are called to live, especially with the presence of endless temptations and worldly desires that never fail to attack us everyday. Amidst all the difficulties we face, we still ought to live our lives to the fullest possible. One day at a time, one step at a time. We may be behind others in many aspects (e.g. wealth, career, knowledge, health, etc.), but what is more important is to take time to ponder and appreciate what we have gone through at the end of the day, and at the same time eagerly await to witness His glory again in the mystery of tomorrow.

Aug 18, 2008

WYD 08, Sydney I

Finally! How I miss blogging! I thank all those who came back to check out how I've been doing. Unfortunately, I haven't been doing too well after I came back from World Youth Day in Sydney. Work, especially; and I've fallen sick for the second time in 30 days. Not good, but I thank that Lord for never deserting me no matter what happened along the way.

I've written a short testimony below, which was published in our local Catholic Newspaper - Today's Catholic. It took me quite a while to come up with this testimony, as I really needed time reflecting on the whole journey... beginning with the night before we left for Australia to the time we finally reached home.

This was my first World Youth Day and hopefully there will be more to come.

What touched my heart was not seeing the Pope live, or meeting the other people from other countries, or attending the many WYD events. What really mattered was something deep within. The words of a parishioner from St Nicholas of Myra Church, "...thank you for making a difference," the hospitality of our host families and their wet eyes as they saw us leave, made me wonder. What difference have we made, besides making so much noise in the streets and disturbing the daily lives of our host families and the parishioners? A good friend of mine said it well, " did not make any difference, but it was God, through you, made a difference in their lives..."

She was right.

For me, World Youth Day is not only about meeting our dear Pope and other pilgrims, or participate in the prayers and other events. It is about how open we are to the Holy Spirit, and how ready we are to allow the Lord to use us to touch each other's life. As the theme of WYD '08 goes: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses..." (Act 1:8)

I welcome comments as well as your personal sharing if you were also there during World Youth Day Sydney. Or if you have a blog where you posted your testimony, let me know so that I can link your to mine. I will also be sharing about my other encounters and some photos as well in a few days from now. Stay tuned for more! *wink* Thank you and God bless!

Jul 24, 2008

It's a Hoax!

*Last update (23.10.09)* Unfortunately, this dough is still on the spread to Catholics everywhere in the world today. My advice to everyone: Do not be a blind believer, without first going through prayers and discernment. The best people whom you can go to for opinion are the priests and bishops. It is very dangerous when you believe blindly as you are opening the door to the Evil one to lead you astray. Think about it; if this is the miraculous dough as it claimed to be, then the Church would have accepted it since decades ago and Catholics / Christians from every corner of the world should have known about it today. I have said what I need to say. If you do find a document supporting this dough or words from priests that approve of it, do let me know by sending me an email. Thank you and God bless you all.

*Updated (24.7.08)*
I realised that this dough is still spreading among the Catholic faithfuls, so I've decided to move it up to the top of the posts. I sincerely hope that this post and its comments will be able to help those who heard or received this dough to make decisions. God bless.

I have posted on the miraculous dough which many local parishioners believe and even 'shared' with their friends. I took some home too, nope I didn't bake it nor followed its instructions; I just kept it there and let it be. After a while, I forgot about it totally.

When I suddenly realized that presence of the dough and the cake which I've brought back, it was already moulded. That was only two weeks after I brought them back. The pictures below were taken when I found them to be moulded.

The moulded cake. Third succession of bread mould can be observed.

Compared with the original dough, this one stink and its texture had changed - it shrunk.

I did a little bit of 'decoding' of the mystery behind the so-called "Miraculous Dough". It's based on my personal theory, so it might not be right. If you do not agree or have a better idea/explanation, feel free to leave them in the comment box.

The use of clean wooden spoon: No special purpose, but probably to avoid contact of dough with surfaces that might cause moulding, as it was to be kept for 10 days before it is baked.

The smell of the dough:
Its odour and form gives one an idea that it has yeast even though it does not.

I don't believe it is true. The smell might have come from a very small amount of yeast or/and a large amount of yogurt. Yogurt might be the reason for the dough to last for more than a week.

It will never mould:
Even though it is kept out of fridge it never moulded.

Look at the two photos above, and tell me, do you think this is true?

The history / origin:
It is also known as Pope Pius bread. The story is told that an Italian woman who was suffering all her life from illness that she could not even do her house chores. One day her daughter asked to bake her a cake. She refused more than once because she was unable to do it. The daughter insisted so much taht the mother felt she needed to bake that cake. She asked the aid of the Virgin Mary. As soon as she started to prepare the cake, the Virgin Mary appeared and she herself prepared the cake for the woman...

Again, I doubt it's true. I found out that the Amish Friendship Bread is quite similar with the preparation of this "miraculous dough". I had a discussion with a good friend, and both of us suspected that somebody adapted this Friendship bread and turned it into some kind of Marian devotion, for the purpose known only to that person who created it.

A few friends of mine, after reading my previous post on this dough and cake, told me that their mothers (strange, why is it always mothers and ladies who believed?) also took some home and bake it for the family. I got the dough and the cake from a physically sick sister-in-Christ. I even heard that this 'recipe' has spread to other churches in Kuching.

One vivid conclusion which we can make from this incident is that people are hungry for God. They are so hungry and desperate that they took the wrong measures to obtain His grace and blessings. They grab anything that claims to earn or that can bring His blessings without first investigate its validity.

I guess that the only way to prove it to those who believed is by showing these evidence to them.

Let us keep in our prayers all our brothers and sisters that our risen Lord Jesus Christ would send us His wisdom to show us the right path to the Father.

May 23, 2008

Whose fault?

I went to Mukah 3 weeks ago together with two colleagues and a Canadian (whom my boss hired to be part of our study team) to carry out survey for a project our company is currently handling. Working with a Caucasian isn't easy for me (first time!), but things were quite okay until the topic of homosexuality came into discussion.

And to my horror, the Canadian blamed it on the Catholic Church.

The discussion led all of them to an agreement, that homosexuality could have existed during the time of Napoleon and Hitler. It would have been the norm of the society then, until the Catholic Church interfered and listed it as a sin. And so were many other habits and acts, a good example being masturbation and the use of contraceptive methods. As they were having a good laugh while bashing the Catholic Church, I kept quiet all throughout dinner and tried to keep my anger down. Being the only Catholic girl among the men, what could I do besides calling to the Lord for help in my heart?

It was a surprise for me... people can be so wise but at the same time, so unwise! They can tell what the environmental issues are just through observation; they can make very accurate guesses just by talking to various agencies; they know how dirty politics are and can make wise judgements. At one point they did impress me with the knowledge they have, but once they started to touch on religion, I realised how little they know about the Lord and His wonderful laws.

Like many people in the world today, they seem to be contrasting themselves. They can go all out to ban activities that destroy the ecosystems; they urge others to recycle and protect the environment, they ban illegal poaching and put animals that are dwindling in numbers under the Red List or the Protected Species list; at the same time they proclaim that homosexuality, abortion, masturbation etc. are okay.

I cannot understand... people want to restore the environment to its natural state, but they live a lifestyle that is out-of-the-nature. When the Church took notice of their worldly lifestyle and pointed it out, they immediately put the blame on the Church.

"As we're sung to sleep by philosophies, that save the trees and kill the children..." Part of the lyrics for the song While You Were Sleeping by Casting Crowns, which has awaken me up from my sleep, making me realise how people contradict themselves.

Oh well, just a thought when I was upset.

There is a power so strong that it can become the driving force in our lives and in everything we do, if we allow it to. It is the power of God's love.

Apr 11, 2008

A smile to remember…

Photo source:pimp myspace

Do you believe that if God can work through a person, He can also work via a simple smile? Well, I do. I just never imagined such an incident would ever happen to me.

It was the 6th Sunday of Easter. After Morning Mass, I joined my good friends for breakfast and only reached home around noon. Haha, it was the gathering of single young ladies, so there is no way for us to leave right away after finishing our food. Seeing me opening the door and stepping into the house, mom was not very happy.

“So… looks like you haven’t forgotten the place you call ‘home’.” Her sarcastic, cold tone of voice gave me the hint that she was upset with me. I cannot remember what conversation I had with her before I went up to my room, but I know that her being upset made me even more upset. I stayed in my room until my parents went off to attend the Evening Mass.

I went downstairs to collect my files so that I could continue with my work. It was about 4pm or so that time. I came back to my room, continued with my work, and out of the blue… someone unexpected popped up on my Skype – the priest whom I’ve always wanted to meet (he initiated the online international Rosary prayer through Skypecast). At first, I thought that perhaps he has got something for me to do, or some messages which he might want me to convey to my other Rosary companions. At first, we were having a short and simple chat; he told me that he was at the airport and would be boarding the plane in 2 hours.

Weird enough, he asked me to give him a call on Skype, which I did and I was thinking to myself: “Okay, so what is Father going to tell me this time?” The connection was successful. I strained my ears, trying my best to detect his voice. When I failed to hear anything, I quickly typed to him in the chat window: “Father, I can’t hear you!” He replied: “Can you see me?” I quickly switched to the voice chat window.

To my surprise, I saw a man smiling at me through the window for webcam. It was Father Dominique! I was in tears… tears of joy that I finally had the chance to meet Fr. Dominique, whom I’ve listened to in Skype Conference and prayed together with almost everyday. And yes, that smile! That captivating, soothing smile planted not just joy, but also peace in my heart and soul that very instance! I just could not explain nor describe that joy I experienced. It was like… a foretaste of meeting Jesus in person!

It wasn’t too long when he finally waved me goodbye.

His smile changed my heart and took my resentment away. He made the rest of my day just by a simple but genuine smile. And this smile let me recognized the Man whom I’ve always loved – Jesus.

At the time my parents came back from Mass, I went out of my room to greet them. I have totally forgotten the unhappy event that happened in the day time.

I guess maybe that’s why we are encouraged to smile. Smile, God loves you. A familiar saying we all know, but we never know that God is able to use our smile to touch and affirm those who needed it. Perhaps, the simplest fact that God loves us no matter who we are and how we feel, should become our reason to share our smile.

Smile, God loves you!


I've finished this post a year ago but never had the chance to post it up. So here it is! Hope it will inspire you as you read it today.