Friday, 21 July 2017

Be a "Common" Carer

I believe most of us know how to take care of our personal belongings. Surely we would not want to abuse or excessively use our stuff, to the point that it breaks down, becomes damaged or less usable, or even to the point of it becoming so severely impaired that it can no longer be used.

However, I wonder how much care do we take towards items or facilities which are for common use. Do we ensure that we do our part to keep the facility or item clean and in working condition? Or have some of us become so self-centered or not the least bit bothered, couldn't care less about others and using such items or facilities as we please, and should there be a problem with such items or facilities, have we become so indifferent and leave the item or facility in a deplorable state?

One example of how some of us have become disgustingly indifferent towards common items or facilities are the toilets. I marvel at how some could be so inconsiderate in throwing excessive amounts of tissue, sanitary pads, or even hard items into the toilet bowls, causing the toilet bowls to clog. Some even don't bother to flush or clean the toilet bowl after they have done their "small" or "big" "business," leaving behind a trail of urine or faeces (that's "shit" or "poo poo" for those of you who do not know what "faeces" mean). Yucks! So disgusting and repugnant! And yet, there are some who seem to be disgustingly recalcitrant, preferring to leave behind their "droppings" for all to see.

If such persons have such attitudes when it comes to common items or facilities, one wonders what sort of attitude such persons would have towards their spiritual lives or relationship with God. After all, being clean is a sign of spiritual purity or goodness, as in "Don't forget to wash your ears" - cleanliness is next to godliness (This phrase was first recorded in a sermon by John Wesley in 1778, but the idea is ancient, found in Babylonian and Hebrew religious tracts. It is still invoked, often as an admonition to wash or clean up.). If one cannot be responsible in caring for what is meant for common use, I wonder how one could be just as responsible in caring for one's spiritual progress.

May we do our part in not only keeping such common items or facilities clean and operational, but also teach our children and others to do the same. Should we come across common items or facilities which need repairs, may we not look the other way, but notify the relevant authorities so that, hopefully, such common items or facilities would be fixed accordingly. Of course, catching such persons who commit such reprehensible acts towards such common items or facilities is certainly not easy, since we may not be able to install surveillance equipment, especially when it comes to places like in the toilet, but let us be vigilant, with hope that we would collectively and effectively reduce the possibilty of such crimes from happening again.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

PhD or phd or PHD?

Every once in a while, I come across people who claim to be intelligent or learned, even to the point of achieiving high academic status, and yet the person's attitude, character and behaviour seem to render one's intellectual capabilities irrelevant, or even to the point of being obnoxious. Perhaps some of you may have come across such a person or persons before, who may have a PhD, but who may actually be more of a phd or PHD.

Now some of you may be wondering... What difference is there between the three? After all they use the same letters, except for the fact that some are in uppercase and some in lowercase. So what's the big deal here?

Perhaps, if I may, clarify what the three acronyms mean, then you may get my drift:

PhD - A Doctorate in Philosophy, usually the highest level to be achieved in academic circles.

phd - permanent head damage, as in the situation some individuals around us may be experiencing, either physically or in one's attitude or behaviour.

PHD - this is where it may get interesting, where PHD stands for:
P: Prasangka - prejudice or preconception
H: Hasad - envy
D: Dengki - jealousy

When one has become consumed with PHD, one becomes easily prejudiced towards others, envious towards other people's abilities and even jealous towards other people's good works or efforts. This could cause one infected with PHD to resort to unsavoury or extreme measures to put down the other, or even destroy the other's reputation, or even to the point of committing character assassination, in an effort to puff up one's image, pride and ego. The question is... would one ever be content or happy; or would one end up excessively fearful of one's shadow, or petrified that the next corner may reveal more so called "enemies" to be dealt with? Would one fall into the abyss of insanity, obsessed in protecting one's image and status at all cost?

So how do we prevent ourselves from falling into the snares of PHD? In a word: humility. When we embrace humlity, we begin to realise that we are not the ultimate and that is okay. We realise that the world does not revolve around us, and we come to understand that we are merely pilgrims, contributing in whatever way we can for the good of all, and for the benefit of generations to come. Are we willing to let humility flow throughout our veins, or have we allowed the rot of PHD to overcome and engulf us in its treacherous grasp?

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

四旬期是教友反省的好时期。

四旬期对我们有何意义? 有些教友认为要守大小斋,有些认为每个星期五参加拜苦路 或是去任何圣堂办告解圣事。这些都是很好的虔诚心,不过是外在的表现而已。如果在四旬期只是这些表现, 那么我们将会失去渡过四旬期的真正意义了。其实四旬期教导我们如何与天主和周遭的人达至和好的关系,因而让我们能进一步得到内心的悔改,心灵的洁净。除此之外,我们该反省一下:到底上述的四旬期活动或节目是否足够?或许在四旬期里,我们需要重新注意以下三项事情:祈祷,守斋和行善。虽然听了很多篇但是真正了解的教友们可能是寥寥无几。

当我们祈祷时,我们因该和天主建立更好的关系。很多教友对于念玫瑰经,慈悲串经或是敬礼耶稣圣心经文都已背的滚瓜烂孰;但是这些经文都是传统祈祷,因此教友们只是习惯孰念而没有体会其中的意义,更何况要和天主建立良好的关系?祈祷应该让我们和天主的关系更接近,不只是口中念念有词,心思云游四海的方式。

守斋并非自残身心或是为了要达到减肥的目标。我们守斋因为渴望天主,让他成为我们生命中的动力。守斋也让我们体会到生命意义和价值,同时引导我们远离罪恶的诱惑,避免遍情私欲。守斋也帮助我们不要贪婪,更要关心别人的真正需要。

每个人行善的目的是关心不幸的群体或是穷人,因为我们都是天主的子女,受造物;万物都由他而造成的。因此不应该把资源或食物占为己有,应该了解到人比物质更重要。

让天主在我们日常生活里增进祈祷的素质,也引导我们更谦虚和慷慨与穷人分享物质和资源;不自是空谈守斋而已,而是要如何与天主拉近关系,让祂指引同祂走向康庄大道。这些好习惯不只在四旬期得以表现,更要长久的实行,让别人看了也能彰显我们在基督内是兄弟姐妹,让他们也赞扬,感谢天主的伟大,慈悲与善良。

Monday, 6 March 2017

有关将临期或四旬期举行忏悔礼仪时的点点滴滴。

在过去所举行的忏悔礼仪中,我发觉到一些重复又重复的事情值得我们去探讨和改进的:
  1. 预早到教堂:通常为了办个好告解, 教友必须有充分的时间去准备,更何况教友对远方来的某某神父有所选择时,他们可能因迟到而不能见到该神父来办告解,那是多么可惜的事!
  2. 假如小孩也在参与时,请你们或是可靠的朋友轮流看守他们,以免小孩到处乱跑而干扰其他教友准备办告解,祈祷或是默想。
  3. 告解时要简要。神父们想知道的是你犯了什么罪而不是听你讲故事或是罪的源由。
  4. 所告的是自己的罪不是他人的。有些教友所告的并非己罪而是诉说丈夫,太太或是孩子们的不是。因此不合逻辑。
  5. 告解前要谨慎反省所犯的罪过,才不至于遗漏严重的罪过。
  6. 在告解过程中,由始至终都要保持冷静, 不要受其他事物的干扰。
  7. 秉持谦虚礼让的态度。这种品德尤其是在泊车或排队办告解时,更是不可缺少;重要的是不要因你的鲁莽无礼而使他人犯罪。例如把车子泊在格子里而不是泊在两格中间,让后来者也有地方停车而不至于他们怒气冲冲的进教堂。
  8. 切记告解的程序。当然神父会引领你办告解的程序假如你忘了。为了避免浪费他人的时间,最好记得告解程序。
  9. 切记控制自己的情绪。可能有些教友在生活上受到很大的创伤和刺激,告解时不免会情绪失控。但是,告解厢不是咨询的场所。如果教友面对类似的情况时,最好是先寻找咨询专家。
  10. 告解后找个清静的地方祈祷默想。过后静悄悄地离开,让别人也可以有泊车位而去办告解, 因为一些堂口的泊车位有限。
当然还有其他的琐碎事情不在本文中一一列出,但希望教友们多多注意以上各事项,让大家一起建立更理想的告解环境,希望藉此也能促进彼此间在灵修上进展。

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Season of Lent: A Reflection

What does the season of Lent mean to you? Some of us think about abstinence and fasting on certain days, some think about the Way of the Cross which is usually held on Fridays during Lent, some even think about making a confession at one of the churches having penitential service. All these appear to be good practices, but these are merely external practices of piety. If we get caught up with only such external practices, we may end up losing the whole point of Lent, and that is to lead us to reconciliation with God and with each other, and eventually lead us to an inner conversion.

The question is, are these practices already mentioned enough? Or is there more to these practices than meets the eye? Perhaps we need to relook at three practices which we often hear about especially during Lent, but we may not have fully comprehended or understood what they mean. The three practices are prayer, fasting and giving alms.

When we speak of prayer, we are talking about establishing a closer relationship with God. Sometimes we may have become so used to rattling out prayers such as the rosary, the divine mercy, prayer to the Sacred Heart, or some other form of devotion, that our prayer is prayed out of habit or out of a tradition that was passed down to us from our elders. But by praying such prayers, are we really growing closer to God? Prayer should change us and lead us to trust more in God and to place our lives in His control. Are our prayers enabling us to do so? Or have our prayers become a form of babbling, saying so many things but without meaning?

When we speak of fasting, we are fasting not because we want to torture or punish our bodies, and fasting is not meant to be used as an excuse or a means to lose weight. We fast because we want to thirst for God, and place God first in our lives. Fasting helps us reconsider our values in life, and guides us to reject and deny the lures of temptations, especially to satisfy our own wants. Fasting sets us free from greed, and makes us more sensitive to the needs of others.

When we give alms, we do so not because we pity the poor or those who are less fortunate. We give alms because it reminds us of the need to be in solidarity with all, especially with the poor. Giving alms reminds us that all things come from God, nothing really belongs to us, and thus we should not cling on to these things selfishly. Giving alms remind us that people are far more valuable and important than things.

Let us take courage and let the Lord help us deepen our prayer life, and help us to be humble and docile in our fasting and also in our generosity to share with the poor. Let us do these things not because they are merely external practices, or to show off, but because we want to grow closer to God, walk in His ways, and let Him be our providence and guide. Let us not only confine such practices during the season of Lent, but throughout the year, so that others may truly see and give thanks to God, on what it really means to be brothers and sisters in Christ.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

A Bollywood Scene? Perhaps

Seems strange that there are some people who get so emotionally charged over what seems to be the smallest matter, and then expect the priest to solve their problem for them. I recall in a not too distant past, a couple (presumably boyfriend and girlfriend - whether or not sudah kacau I do not know lah), coming to see me with their whole family, because of what I perceived to be a small matter.

It seems that the boy had tried to be a little "fresh" with the girl, by putting his arm around her shoulder (I am told that he only put his arm around her shoulder, and he vehemently insisted that he did not venture further) during one of their "paktoring" endeavours. The girl went home and divulged the development with her mom, and guess what? Her mom was much displeased, told her dad and the news spread to other relations, both internal and external. This led to volcanic eruption and earthquakes of unimaginable proportions, and both families began to "naik bukit, turun bukit, seberangi sungai, seberangi laut, kelilingi coconut tree" in hurling angry utterances to each other.

Surely a matter like this could have been discussed in a civilised manner, perhaps with some tea and vadai or cookies laa. Why do some get so worked up over this, I wonder.

A Thin Line Between Sane and Insane

Every once in a while, I come across people who hope and dream that their offspring would one day become doctors or engineers or even lawyers. While these professions are good, one ought to also consider other professions which are becoming more and more in demand or need. For example, as people become more and more stressed or emotionally challenged, and life becomes more and more hectic, we may need more and more psychiatrists and psychologists to help people in their mental health.

A case worth noting happened not too long ago where a lady, looking possibly in her mid-thirties, came to my office.She looked quite distraught and the moment she sat down, she began to sob profusely. I had a box of tissues at the front of my desk, and to my alarm, she began to soak so many tissues as if they were going out of style. Before you knew it, she had used up an entire box of tissues, 150 ply, and was still crying. I could not get a word from her, as she remained seated, sobbing and looking miserable.

I stood up, and walked behind her to see whether there was some sort of pipe or water system hidden near her ears (of course, I was being cheeky, but I could not fathom how a lady could cry so much.... it was like looking at a waterfall or flowing river, so to speak). By the time she slowed down her tears, she had used up and thoroughly soaked 3 boxes of tissues, 150 ply per box! Goodness gracious me!

The lady then stood up and walked silently from my office. I had no opportunity to chat with her, as she remained mute, and left without even a word or a glancing look. Could a psychologist or even a psychiatrist have helped her better, given their qualifications and training? I do not know, but I suspect that such situations may occur even more, given the living situation we are generally in.

I never came across that lady again, she could have been a parishioner attending one of the Masses, but until today, I have not had any chance or success in locating her to see if she needed help. I pray that she would be alright, and I hope that as time goes by, we would take more notice of our mental health, and take necessary steps to care for our mental health. After all, there is a fine line between sanity and insanity. This brings me to an e-mail which I received a while back concerning sanity:

A motorist was driving past a mental hospital when he gets a flat tyre. He goes out to change the tyre and sees that one of the patients is watching him through the fence. Nervous, and trying to work quickly, he jacks up the car, takes off the wheel, puts the lug nuts into the hubcap and accidentally steps on the hubcap, sending the lug nuts clattering into a storm drain. The mental patient is still watching him through the fence. The motorist desperately looks into the storm drain,but the lug nuts are gone. The patient is still watching. The motorist paces back and forth, frantically trying to think of what to do. Then, all of a sudden, the patient says, "Take one lug nut off each of the other tyres, and you'll have three lug nuts on each. Then drive to the nearest tyre shop to replace the missing lug nuts to secure the tyres." "That's brilliant!!!" says the motorist, "What's someone like you doing in an asylum?" "Hey pal," says the patient, " I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid."

May we stay sane and take care of our mental health, and not end up with a PhD (permanent head damage) or OKU (otak kurang upaya); and may we always let God be our loving guide.