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: 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