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Oct 29, 2011

Not alone

Have you ever wondered off from your group of friends as you didn't feel like talking or listening to them? Did you have that urge of being left alone while in a crowd sometimes, particularly when you're feeling down?

I have. In fact, I do that very often. I would rather be left alone than to feel alone when I'm with a group of people. The latter, some said, is the worst form of loneliness one would experience.

I enjoy every bit of being alone. It gives me an opportunity to talk to the Lord, and being rest assured that He is always there listening.


Sometimes, I wish I could see and touch Him. Why not? Being a human, no matter how strong a person is, he / she still needs companionship, a shoulder to cry on, a loving embrace. It is even more so when we've loved Him for so long, but never been able to see Him face to face. At least not yet, not now. But I believe that whenever we call upon His name He is there with us, with His hand on our shoulders. Even though alone, His presence makes us feel secure and peaceful amidst our suffering and sadness.

If you feel lonely one day, why not try to imagine He's there and talk to Him as you would to your closest friend. Give Him a chance to be your friend.

"Fear not, for I am with you." (Is 41:10)

Aug 22, 2011

Amazed and amused

As a Catholic, if this photo and video below fail to bring a smile on your face, I don't know what else would.

Pope Benedict XVI "plays" the piano cake during lunch with 12 young people on 19 August, World Youth Day Madrid11
I was simply speechless. No words could ever describe how amused I was (in fact, I still am!) when I watched the Holy Father pretending to play the chocolate cake piano.

Not just amused. I'm amazed at the same time! Amazed that His Holiness, as a Pope, the Successor of Peter, would unreservedly made himself available and open to the 12 young people present with him. Amazed that he could, with this little action, amuse the 12 youngsters.

I know that the Holy Father is an accomplished pianist, but I've never expected him to do such a thing... perhaps a bit silly to some, but to me it is a message from him: "Yes, I am the Pope, your shepherd here on earth. But I'm also your spiritual father and I'm concerned about you. I'm here for you. Please do not feel awkward. Make yourself comfortable with me. I love you."

That must have been the reason the twelve of them shared that it was just like a family dinner. Their conversation with the Pope wasn't planned beforehand. Just like family members at the dinner table. It was not so much about the food. It was the fellowship that counts.

Beautiful, isn't it?

I'm glad that the 12 volunteers enjoyed themselves with the Pope. And for me, I feel so touched when I saw the photo (above) and video (below).

Love you, Holy Father! Hopefully I would also have the privilege to have a meal with you someday. :)

Video of the luncheon:

Aug 12, 2011

A birthday party I missed

The best birthday gift
August. A very busy month for me. Even on my birthday which was 9 days ago, I wished that no one would remember it. I even rejoiced when I found out that it falls on a weekday this year, so that there would be no celebrations, no wishes, no presents, and definitely no chance for pranks.


Why? Because this year, I have planned to spend time with my First Love. I know He would be throwing me a special party - the Eucharistic celebration. The perfect party, the best Gift... and the perfect way to give thanks to Him who gave me life and who have journeyed with me everyday for 29 years.

Most unfortunately, I didn't make it to that party. It could have been a grand one - my birthday and the feast day of St John Vianney, the patron saint for priests.

It was a rare occasion when a friend of mine on MSN started to ask me about Christ and Salvation History. I was totally engrossed in explaining to her Christ's love for the world. An opportunity to evangelize! When I finally checked the clock, it was 15 minutes before Daily Mass at the closest parish from my office (also the one I've planned to go to) would begin. Usually it only takes me less than 15 minutes to reach that parish. But that day, the traffic was exceptionally heavy and it took me more than half an hour to reach the church. By then it was too late. The Mass would end in less than 15 minutes.

Even if I would have decided to join the Mass then, it is incomplete as I have already missed the Liturgy of the Word, even though I would still be in time to receive Holy Communion. **

I was really sad. I really didn't know who to blame. Should I blame myself, for not telling my friend that we would continue the conversation some other time? Or should I blame God, who put me in such a difficult position? Have I done the right thing, for making the choice to continue the discussion with my friend? Is that considered a sacrifice? But then again, how much did that conversation benefit my friend? I have completely no answer for these questions.

As disappointed and perplexed as I've been, I chose to trust in the Lord, to stand on His promises. For St Paul says, "And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose..." (Romans 8:28). Perhaps, He has His secret agenda which is yet to be made known to me?

Anyway, there's another special occasion for me to look forward to -- Confirmation anniversary on 23 August. Dear Lord, may it be your will that I could attend a Mass this day, to renew my commitment and my "yes".


 ----------
Footnote:
**From Dei Verbum: "A person should not approach the table of the Bread of the Lord without having first been at the table of His Word." This is not so much of a rule (that if anyone is late for Mass, then he/she commits a sin), but it is to stress that every part of the Mass, beginning with the Introductory Rites until the Concluding Rite (the final blessing), is equally important. Although the Liturgy of the Eucharist is the climax in the Mass, one should not come in only to receive the Holy Communion or/and leave right after that before the Final Blessing. As one complete Mass consists of 4 parts, i.e. the Introductory Rites, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Eucharist, and the Concluding Rite, therefore it is very important that we are punctual and prepare ourselves well for Mass.

Jul 22, 2011

Youths should anticipate YouCat!

One of the greatest advantages of working in the Archdiocesan Media team is the privilege to get news hot from the oven. And I'm very thankful to God for that blessing and privilege. :)

In February when I first read about YouCat, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) specially designed and produced for youths, I was very excited! For as much as I've tried to read the CCC, I still fail to totally grasp the details which are written in the so-called "church language", with a lot of 'big' words and terms. The CCC is never an easy book to read and understand, unless we are familiar with its language.

Unfortunately, not many Catholics in Kuching knew about YouCat. Even some Catechists and those who run Catholic gift shops have never heard of it today. Worse still, probably half of the Catholics here are not even aware of the presence of the CCC!

Anyway, I really envy those youths who are going for World Youth Day Madrid 2011 this coming August, for each of them will receive a free copy of YouCat.

What I really like about YouCat is none other than the language - simple and layman. Not only that, the whole chunks of texts we find in the original CCC are broken down into Q&A format, simplified and better elaborated.

Another point worth mentioning is the cute, relevant graphics that make YouCat much more attractive and appealing to the reader compared to the conventional CCC. This is exactly what it takes to attract young people -- colourful, graphical and simple yet compact and complete in its information.

Oh well, I might be the first person to find out about YouCat, but unfortunately I won't be the first person to have a copy of the book. Meanwhile, I'll just make do with with the old CCC. Fingers crossed, hopefully the wait wouldn't be too long!

Here is the trailer for the book.



Interesting, isn't it? :)

For everyone who don't have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at home, PLEASE remember to buy a copy of YouCat once it's made available in Kuching (or wherever you are). The Pope and his team have certainly worked hard to produce YouCat, therefore in the same way we should take this book seriously.

I totally agree with the Pope on this...
"You need to know what you believe. You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing. Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination."

Update 1 (13 August 2011):
YouCat has its own website: http://www.youcat.org/home.html. It's really neat! Check it out!

Update 2 (22 August 2011):
I've got my copy of YouCat! It's a birthday gift from a friend! :) Thank you, Lord!
All I can say is... this book is AWESOME!! And I really enjoyed reading it!

Jul 19, 2011

Prayer and our image of God

Some people reading the banners on Carmelites spirituality.

The Triduum for the Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel has just ended yesterday. Every year at this time, the Carmelite nuns would specially invite me to attend the Triduum, but unfortunately, I always missed it. In 2009, I was in Singapore with the Daughters of St Paul for vocation discernment. In 2010, I went to Kuala Lumpur for a short vacation scheduled well before the invitation came from the nuns.

Deacon Bro Kenneth (left) and Fr Gregory Hon OCD (right) sharing their vocation stories.

This year, however, I was blessed enough to attend one evening Mass on 15 July. On 16 July, I managed to be with the Carmelites for half of their sessions. And this morning, I was given the privilege to meet the Carmelite priest, Fr Gregory Hon and Deacon Bro Kenneth.

Let me share a bit on the homily by Bro Kenneth on 15 July about prayer, which made me look at my own prayer life.

What is prayer? Prayer is simply relationship with God. But before entering into a relationship with Him, we need to have a correct image of who God is. To understand who God is, we need to understand who Jesus is. And thus, it is also important that we have a correct image of who Jesus is as well.

Someone once said this to me: “How we pray reflects who God is to us.”

Looking back when I was a young Catholic, I saw God as someone big and powerful. I made sure I said my prayers very morning and night in hope to please Him. It was more of a one-way communication where I asked for His blessings and protection. But as years gone by, I no longer see God as someone whom I need to constantly please. He’s a God who is all-powerful yet so gentle, a Mighty Judge yet so slow to anger, the King of the Universe yet He came down to our level through His Son, Jesus Christ; we are sinners but He calls us friends. Gradually, I moved from reading “set” prayers in the prayer book to using my own words. It is more personal now; just like having a conversation with my best friend.

Bro Kenneth is right.

If today I still think that praying is a duty that I must fulfill everyday, then being a Christian would be a burden to me. If I see God as Someone who’s always awaiting the opportunity to vent His anger and punishment at me when I sin, then I would never be able to enter into that friendship which Jesus has come to establish. As Christians, we know that Jesus came so that we may have life to the fullest (Jn 10:10).

Likewise, if I knew that a friend is trying to get close to me so that he/she could persuade me to buy an insurance policy from him/her, I would certainly draw a clear line between us.

But how can we have the right image of who God is, who Jesus is? The Bible is definitely the best source, Bro Kenneth shared. Therefore, we should take the Bible seriously and spend time to read and reflect, with the help of the Holy Spirit. If we have questions, we can always look the answers up from books, internet, or priests and those who understand the Bible better than us. Bro Kenneth also encouraged all who were present to sign up for Bible study classes.

We know that a lot of Catholics do not read the Bible. I even heard some who said something like this, “I can’t understand anyway, so why bother reading it?” But St Jerome, a father and doctor of the Church in the 5th century AD said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Without having any knowledge on Christ, how is prayer possible?

I think it’s a matter of how willing we are to spend time reading, studying, reflecting and praying (Lectio Divina) – or like one of our diocesan priests used to say, “wasting time” with the Lord. And I believe that when we have done our part in the attempt to grow closer in our relationship with God, He would also do His part by revealing Himself to us.

That is what the Carmelite sisters do everyday – immersing themselves in prayer and reflection, and practising of the presence of God while they carry out their daily chores.

Coincidently (I believe it’s not a coincidence after all), I came across an article written by the Carmelite sisters from Los Angeles which is also on prayer, but slightly more detailed with more references from the Carmelite saints. Worth a read, if you have some time to spare.


Those who stayed behind after Morning Mass gathered around the Altar (top) to listen to the sharing of one of the Carmelite sisters (bottom)




Written on 18 July 2011

May 23, 2011

An Easter to remember

We are still in the Easter Season, so Happy and Blessed Easter, everyone! :)

It was a rather tiring Easter for me. Having to sleep late and wake up early for 3 consecutive days wasn’t that easy anymore when age has caught up on me. I was among the 880 youths who came from both the city and rural parishes in the Archdiocese of Kuching to attend Easter “Triduum Spirituality” which started from the evening of Holy Thursday to Easter afternoon. We spent 4 days 3 nights with the Archbishop of Kuching. “Triduum Spirituality” was a series of talks given by our Archbishop on the meaning behind Easter Triduum, their importance in our Liturgy, and how we could apply the message of these historical events in our daily lives.


Participants at TS in a discussion.

Believe it or not, this Triduum Spirituality (TS) programme was initiated by His Grace Archbishop John Ha (Archbishop of Kuching) himself. I had a shock of my life when I heard that he wanted to spend Easter with the young people. As far as I’m concerned, I wouldn’t have doubted if it was Blessed John Paul II who made such a request, knowing very well that he loved the young people. Even the Youth Leaders were surprised! But after attending the TS Servants’ Retreat (as shared by some friends) and TS itself, we were all amazed… not at the great wisdom and knowledge our Archbishop has, but the great effort he has put into TS preparation, which showed how important this event was for him, and his humility. Even though he’s our bishop, he came down to our (the youths) level and communicated with us in our language!



His Grace Archbishop John Ha speaking to the youths during the TS sessions.
I love his smile here. :)

As the mystery behind Easter was unfolded by His Grace, I (and many of us) experienced a more meaningful Easter. Perhaps, this was the best Easter ever in our lives. As for me, I somewhat saw a glimpse of Blessed John Paul II in our Archbishop (apparently, I still miss JPII very much!). I’m very thankful for what he’s done for the young people in the Archdiocese. And from a discussion I had with some of the Youth Servant Leaders (who went for the retreat prior to TS), I got to know that the Archbishop is very concerned of the youths in our Archdiocese. (I shall blog on the problems we recently faced in our country in a later post.)

Here I’m sharing some of the notes which I’ve taken down during the TS talks, and I pray that you may find them useful.


Holy Thursday (21 April 2011)
  • What is Triduum Spirituality? – We willingly allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into remembering our Salvation.
  • Passover is the greatest event in the Old Testament – the Israelites were led out of Egypt into freedom. Paschal is the greatest event in the New Testament – by Christ’s death and resurrection, we are all saved.
  • To remember an event = to make a past event present. The Paschal event is made present today through the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, we are able to experience God’s tremendous love for us and Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.
  • Jesus changed the Jewish Passover meal into the Eucharistic meal, which is His own meal!
    • The Meal was instituted by Jesus so that His Apostles could experience what would happen the next day, i.e. His passion.
    • Jesus asked His Apostles to remember Him and His sacrifice of Himself for the salvation of mankind.
    • The greatest gift Jesus gave us is His own body and blood. Whenever we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we experience God’s love for us.
  • When Jesus foretold His betrayal by Judas (Mk 14:17) at the Last Supper, His disciples asked Him, “Not me, surely?” (Mk14:19). The Twelve were not even sure if they themselves were to betray Jesus, because they were following Jesus in uncertainty. For them, Jesus was a political ‘messiah’ who came to free them from political powers (i.e. Rome).

Good Friday (22 April 2011)
  • The giving of the Body and Blood of Christ during Holy Saturday came into reality on Good Friday.
  • Why is Jesus called the “supreme high priest” (Heb 4:14)?
    • A priest – a person between God and man, the mediator who brings man to God and God to man.
    • In the person of Jesus, God and man are united (for Jesus is both God and human).
    • Jesus’ offering of Himself united (reconciled) us with (to) God.
  • During the arrest of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane: when the soldiers said they were looking for “Jesus the Nazarene” and Jesus answered “I am He” (or “I AM), He was saying that He is God, the same God who appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush (Ex 3:14).
  • The Cross is the sign of our salvation.
  • During the Veneration of the Cross, we are venerating Christ’s Cross, the one which Jesus died on more than 2000 years ago.

Holy Saturday (23 April 2011)
  • The meaning behind The Service of Light:
    • Before the world was created, there was darkness. So God brought forth light.
    • When man sinned, darkness came into the world.
    • God sent Jesus, who is the Light.
  • The Easter Candle symbolizes Christ, who is our light at the creation of the world until the end of time.
  • The significance of the baptismal pool:
    • When the candidate for baptism enters the baptismal water, he/she participates in the death of Christ. (the act of going down into the pool symbolizes one’s entry into the grave/death)
    • As the newly baptized came out of the water, he/she participates in the resurrection of Christ (the act of arising of the pool symbolizes one’s coming out of the grave into new life).
  • On Easter, the women went to the tomb very early in the morning because they were afraid to be seen. They met the resurrected Jesus, but they did not tell the Apostles that Jesus asked them to meet Him in Galilee.
  • Jesus started His ministry in Galilee, and He brought the Apostles all the way from Galilee to Jerusalem. After His Resurrection, Jesus brought the Apostles back to Galilee to start all over again.



Photos courtesy of Hobart Kho from the Empowered Youth Ministry. Used with permission.

Apr 16, 2011

Happy 84th Birthday, Pope Benedict!

A special video was made for Pope Benedict XVI's 84th Birthday, which is today.


To send the Holy Father birthday wishes, you can leave your message and prayers for the Holy Father through the Facebook page "The Papal Visit", or directly email your messages to benedict.xvi@vatican.va.

Do send him your birthday wishes to show your love and support towards him!

I happen to see this video below taken during the Pope's 81st Birthday at White House, US when browsing in Youtube.


Awww... so sweet!

Happy Birthday, Holy Father! We love you!!

Mar 12, 2011

Witnessing the First Profession of religious vow

How do you define beauty?

Some of us might say it’s the pleasing appearance, the physical attraction. Some say beauty comes from within the individual – inner beauty. Some of us recognise the beauty and awesomeness of Nature that is beyond words, which reflects the beauty of the Creator. Our Creator.

Whatever the definition of beauty is, I’ve seen the most beautiful “brides”, and no other brides or ladies in the Beauty Contests could ever replace that simplest yet unforgettable image imprinted in my mind recently.

On 7 March 2011, I was invited by the Sisters of St Francis of Sarawak (SSFS) to attend the First Profession of 3 novices (now junior sisters) in the convent. It was really a privilege for me as only the family members and close friends of the sisters were invited to witness the ceremony. The Mass was presided by our Archbishop John Ha and assisted by 5 other diocesan priests.

The Rite of First Profession began right after the homily. The novices were called forward; the Archbishop blessed the habits which were then handed to the novices and they left to get changed. As they returned, they were smiling from ear to ear! Then they made their profession. As I was watching them, I also felt touched and happy for the sisters, as if I was witnessing my own sister saying “yes” to her bridegroom in a wedding. The whole Rite concluded with the Archbishop blessing the crucifixes and presenting them to the newly professed sisters.

The Superior General handing over the blessed habit to the novice.

After Mass, everyone was invited for a sumptuous dinner at the hall. As I sat there alone enjoying my food (of all those present I only know some of the sisters and they were too busy attending to their guests, and I was also too shy to mix), I stole a few glances at the three newly professed sisters who were sitting with their family. Somehow, the three of them attracted me. They looked so different from the first time I met them when they were in their novice wear (I think they call it "the garb of probation"). The only word I had to describe how they looked at that point of time was "beautiful".

Really, they were simply beautiful. They didn’t put on any make-ups, nor did they have fancy hairstyles and heels and gowns; all they had were simple-looking white habits which also have their hair covered. There was no special adornment on them except for a plain-looking crucifix.

Posing with the three sisters, Sr Margaret, Sr Rose and Sr Mary Magdalene

They were certainly not the most attractive girls I’ve seen. But when they made their vows, at that very moment as they offered themselves body, heart and soul to the Lord, transformation took place. They chose to sacrifice themselves, surrendering everything they possess to embrace a humble lifestyle of “poverty, chastity and obedience,” with total submission to their Bridegroom in response to His call of Sacrificial Love. Through this act of consecration, they were embraced by Love in return; their hearts echoed with joy and peace, which was expressed through their beauty. That radiance I witnessed on their faces was just indescribable, so much so that I was gazing at them in awe! Seeing their beauty, I couldn’t help but praise and thank the Lord for calling them, setting them apart for His divine plan.

Maybe that’s why those who chose religious life are so good looking. If you ever noticed, most of those who are actively (and humbly) involved in the Church always don’t look their age. In the same way, I believe, Christians are called to put God first above all things, embrace Love and allow Love to mould us, making us instruments of His love as we radiate that love in our daily living.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel, "… seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Mt 6:33, NIV). We need not be too self-conscious, to the extent of forgetting our actual identity in Christ. Instead we should put our priority in nurturing our faith and grooming our inner self, for "people look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam 16:7). Eventually, our inner beauty will be reflected in our outward appearance, just like what I've witnessed in the three newly professed sisters.

As we pray for more vocations, let us also pray for ourselves, that we would courageously respond to His call to give ourselves unreservedly in the service of His people.

"Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led Him to bestow on us so many graces and favours, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return." ~ St Teresa of Avila


Flower photo courtesy of Ewa Wiƛniewska

Feb 19, 2011

Birth control using iPhone?

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this Durex advertisement.



And I just couldn’t believe it that the world has gone this far. To promote the use of contraceptives, they portrayed babies as nuisance and unwanted “objects” which can be prevented by simply using contraceptives.

Advertisement like this doesn’t just market a company’s product but at the same time destroys human dignity. Indirectly, it also encourages sex before marriage and probably abortion too. When people no longer regard babies as a precious gift from God, they would never hesitate to go for abortion.

Contraception is "any action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act [sexual intercourse], or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" (Humanae Vitae 14). This includes sterilization, condoms and other barrier methods, spermicides, coitus interruptus (withdrawal method), the Pill, and all other such methods. []
But looking at the bright side of things, this iPhone application could be a simulation to help newly wed couples experience parenthood and learn parenting skills to get them ready before a baby comes.

So let’s just pray and hope that this application would turn out to be an educational tool instead of what the creator intended it to be.

Update:
On a different note, I had the opportunity to ask an online contact who's an Indian Muslim about Islam's teachings on abortion. To my surprise, he told me that abortion is haram in Islam -- abortion is totally banned as life begins at the time of conception -- therefore abortion is synonymous to murder. This is exactly what the Catholic Church teaches. This account of his was different from what I've heard from other friends previously, that as long as the embryo has not taken (human) shape, abortion can be done.

I'm not sure which is the correct version of the Islam teaching on the subject matter, but still I thank the Lord for the non Christians who are fighting for the rights of the unborn.

Jan 31, 2011

Vatican announces beatification of John Paul II

I remember perfectly that I was on Twitter when I saw the tweet that went something like this: "Benedict XVI to beatify John Paul II on 1 May". And... I jumped for joy! (Luckily I was alone in my office, or else people might have thought that I was mad!)

But of course, to make sure that it was not another "prediction" of his beatification / canonization news, I clicked the link to read the full news report.

Indeed, it is true! Pope Benedict XVI approved the miracle -- healing of the nun from Parkinson's disease, and announced the beatification! It's a tripple joy ... John Paul II is also the official patron of World Youth Day Madrid 2011!



My Editor, knowing that I’m a huge fan of John Paul II, gave me the honour to be the first person to share my love for this great pope with Today’s Catholic readers, which will be published and on sale the second weekend of February. It took me almost two weeks to think of what and how to write. But then I think I've been wasting these two weeks because when I finally sat down in front of the computer, I was at a total lost again.

Anyway, I’m giving you the privilege to read my sharing first, unedited. (By the time this reaches the Editor, she would have cut it short already.) I'm not sure how many litres of tears I've shed when I was writing this. Sigh. I really miss him, you know. Sob.

So here's the short sharing:
As far as I remember, I got to know Pope John Paul II through the media. Back then, there was only the television, newspapers and church magazines.

While my parents told me “children should be seen and not heard,” John Paul II called the young people “my dear friends”. His appearances always drew crowds of young people to himself. I saw them cheering when he spoke to them. I saw them in tears of joy when he went around to greet his young audience. He showed great affection and care for the youths. I even read about how he forgave his would-be assassin.

But my first and deepest impression was him kissing a baby so lovingly. It reminded me of the story of Jesus welcoming children told by Luke (Lk 18:15-16). It must have been then that I started to be “in love” with him. Although too young to understand his messages, I learned about who Jesus is through his works and example. His passion for the people he met, especially the youths, the sick and the suffering proved his tremendous love for Christ. After the internet has become a necessity at home, I started to learn more about this Pope and his messages. I simply “clicked” with this Pope and he was a figure I always looked up to.

About seven years ago, I told myself that the World Youth Day would be the first international gathering I would go to meet John Paul II in person once I have a steady income. Unfortunately, that day never came.

On 2 April 2005, I woke up next to my computer at 3 am to check the internet for any updates on John Paul II who was very sick then. Finding none since midnight, I went to bed. The next morning during the Easter Mass, the Parish Priest announced the death of John Paul II. Upon hearing this news I was absent-minded throughout the Mass. When I reached home after Mass, tears started to pour. His last words to those who kept vigil in St Peter’s Square seemed to be also for me: “I have searched for you, and now you have come to me, and I thank you.” It took me more than one year to get over the pain and sorrow of losing him, my teacher and my friend.

Even though I never had the chance to meet him, I finally made it to World Youth Day Sydney 2008. I thanked the Lord for John Paul II and for this life-changing event which he initiated.

The news of his beatification is music to the ears of those who love him. As we count down to John Paul II’s beatification on 1 May, I also patiently but eagerly looking forward to his canonisation.

Dear Pope John Paul II, I will be there in Vatican to witness your canonisation!

P.S I just realised that my command of English has gone down the drain. But thank you for bearing with me! Oh by the way, is anyone planning to go to Pope John Paul II's canonization in the future? Let me know, maybe we could meet and say hello! ;)