Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Ten Commandments: 7th Commandment: Don't Steal

"You shall not steal"

Why do people steal? So many excuses and reasons could come forth, but the root of it all is greed and pride. If we are content with what we have, then stealing should not occur. However, some of us may not be content or satisfied. The urge of having something more, or something bigger, better, faster, newer, etc. could lead us to stealing. People steal in so many ways, some obvious, some subtle. Some may think that those who are poor or needy are more likely to steal, but one would be surprised to learn that even the rich steal. Are there any among us who are guilty of this?

If we have:
  • Commit theft, either directly or through the assistance of others
  • Damage the property of others, either on our own or through the assistance of others
  • Do not pay just debts (for example, we buy items on credit but do not pay up when the time comes to pay, or we avoid paying taxes)
  • Do not return found or borrowed articles (especially if we know the person who owns the article) - in some cases, we may not know the person but even if the person is present and looking for the article, some may keep the article and pretend to look elsewhere
  • Give unjust measure or weight in selling
  • Do not pay just wages (paying less than what was agreed or not paying what others are entitled to or even witholding payment without a just or valid reason)
  • Commit or help others to commit bribery
  • Commit or help others to commit graft or corruption
  • Cheat others in whatever form or method
  • Commit or help others to commit fraud
  • Accept stolen property
  • Not giving an honest day's work for wages received, for example by procrastinating or wilfully slowing the work so that the amount of time needed to complete the work is extended
  • Violation of contract without a just and valid reason
  • The list can go on and on...
then we could be breaking this commandment.

  • Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need (Ephesians 4:28).
  • Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death (Proverbs 10:2).
  • For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs (1 Timothy 6:10).
  • Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions (Malachi 3:8).
Regardless whether the item is big or small, cheap or expensive, light or heavy; stealing is still called stealing. Let us walk in the right path of God and avoid doing such despicable things.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Ten Commandments: 6th Commandment: No Adultery

"You shall not commit adultery"

Someone once joked that if infants should enjoy their infancy, so adults should enjoy their adultery. While this statement may sound funny, it is certainly no laughing matter in meaning and practice.

If we have:
  • Had unchaste relations in thought, word and deed with another's wife or husband
  • Watched or shared pornography, bad movies or books
  • Uttered obscene speech
  • Entertained impure thoughts and actions alone or with others
  • Committed or encouraged masturbation, fornication, homosexuality, incest, bestiality, pedophilia
  • Committed immodesty with ourselves or others in looks, dress, words, or actions
then we could be breaking this commandment.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honour God with your body... (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)." Thus we ought to practise chastity and modesty in all our looks, words, and actions, while avoiding occasions of sin.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Ten Commandments: 5th Commandment: Don't Kill

"You shall not kill"

Would anyone in his or her right mind kill another person? Perhaps not. But there are ways a person can kill another person directly or indirectly, and we should be discerning enough to know and prevent such ways from happening.

If we have:
  • Wilfully murdered another person
  • Committed or attempted suicide or caused another person to do so
  • Caused the abortion of a fetus of oneself or of another person's
  • Committed or promoted euthanasia
  • Used or encouraged others to use artificial contraception
  • Caused the sterilisation of self or others
  • Used or promoted In vitro fertilization (IVF), where often more than one female egg is fertilised by sperm taken from either the husband or a donor, then only one female egg is placed in the woman and the remaining fertilised eggs are either discarded or given to other women, depending on the circumstances
  • Caused or promoted cloning, which involves IVF procedure
  • Endangering life and limb of self or others, including dangerous attempts of bravado or showing off
  • Caused fighting, anger, hatred, revenge, and bad example, which lead to death of self or others
then we could be breaking this commandment.

Society is promoting more and more a culture of death, where without morals, "it is the strong who decide the fate of the weak," and "Human beings therefore become instruments of other human beings" (Evangelium Vitae 3, 12). Let us put aside our self-centered ways and promote a culture of life, where human life at all stages from conception through natural death is sacred.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Ten Commandments: 4th Commandment: Honour father and mother

"Honour your father and your mother"

As children, we are often taught to love, respect and obey our parents. As we grow up, we are also taught to show obedience to lawful civil authorities, as well as obedience to religious superiors (especially with matters concerning faith and morals).

However, if some us have:
  • Shown hatred of parents and superiors
  • Abandoned or showed unjust anger or insult especially towards ageing parents
  • Shown contempt, disrespect and disobedience towards our parents or lawful superiors
  • Rebellious towards lawful civil authorities or lawful superiors
then we could be breaking this commandment.

Honour here does not mean blind respect or obedience. One has to discern and ensure that proper respect or obedience be validly given. Sometimes, it is difficult to honour our parents, especially if
they have been unfair or abusive towards us. However, we honour them not because they deserve it, but because God taught us to love all, even our enemies.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Ten Commandments: 3rd Commandment: Keep Holy the Lord's Day

"Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day"

Most of us are busy people, but we should take care not to overdo things. Sometimes we do too much at the expense of something else. Perhaps the something else could be our health, and all the effort in doing so much ends up in poor health or hefty medical bills. Perhaps the something else could be our strained relationship with family and friends. Or perhaps the something else could be our deteriorating relationship with God.

If we:
  • Skip or miss church through one's own fault (no valid reason)
  • Conduct unnecessary servile work
  • Perform unnecessary public buying and selling
  • And whatever else that may hinder proper observance of the Lord's day.
then we could be not keeping holy the Lord's day.

We ought to remember that the Lord's day is for all Catholics to gather for Mass to be nourished by the Lord. Just as God "rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done," human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord's Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.

There is more to life than just pursuing career, wealth, status and dreams. Let us not waste it only to one day regret that we could have done things differently to grow in our relationship with God and people. Are we willing to look at that person in the mirror and make the change?

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Ten Commandments: 2nd Commandment: Don't play play with God's name

"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain"

Some of us may be guilty of being too quick in saying something, only to regret later. Others may habitually use "flowery" words in one form or another, without realising or considering the degrading consequences of such words. As Catholics, we are reminded to show good example and preach the Good News by word and deed. However, when we commit one or many of these:
  • Utter blasphemy (the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.) by irreverent use of God's name, or speaking disrespectfully of holy things (Some may have said: "Oh my God! How can you be so stupid." or something similar)
  • Uttering profane words (cursing, swearing, using demeaning or degrading words: many of which are improper or blatantly disgusting to mention here)
  • Making false, rash, unjust, and unnecessary oaths or vows, and breaking of vows (either being unable to keep the vows or intentionally not keeping the vows).
then we could be breaking this commandment.

Proverbs 21:23 reminds us: " Watch your words and hold your tongue; you'll save yourself a lot of grief." Jesus also reminds us that "It is not what goes into the mouth that makes a person unclean. It is what comes out of the mouth that makes a person unclean (Matthew 15:1)." Let us take heed and be careful with what we say.

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Ten Commandments: 1st Commandment: God and God alone

"I am the Lord your God, you shall have no strange gods besides me"

Some folks think that just because they go to church, come regularly for Mass, help out in church activities; it seems unlikely that they could ever break this commandment. However, one might be surprised to discover that one could appear to be a "good Catholic" and still break this commandment. How so?

If you have:
  • Given a creature (any person but God) or creation (e.g. sun, moon, stars, "Mother Earth") or object (idols or images carved by men) worship which belongs to God alone; treating these as a god instead
  • Believed in or subscribe to superstition, spiritualism, seances, astrology, feng shui, bomohs, horoscopes, fortune telling, palm reading
  • Tried to communicate with the dead directly or through others
  • Got involved in occult practices in one form or another
  • Committed sacrilege (misused what is sacred), got involved in false worship
  • Presumption (jumping to conclusions or accepting that something is true until proven otherwise) and despair
  • Renounced the faith or given up Catholic practice for the sake of wealth, honours, society, or worldly pleasures
then we could be breaking this commandment.

Jesus reminded us that we cannot have 2 masters: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Matthew 6:24)" Which would you choose? God? Or wealth? God's ways? Or worldly ways? Sometimes in our pursuit of wealth, status and success in this world, we may place God as second place and less important, and elevate others as priority. When we put other things first and God second, then we are having strange gods besides God. Let us take heed of what Jesus warned us: "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)"

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Ten Commandments: A Refresher - Introduction

Some of us may have forgotten or are unsure what the 10 commandments mean. So, to help these folks, here is a summary of the 10 commandments to help us especially in preparation for the sacrament of confession.
  1. I am the Lord your God, you shall have no strange gods besides me
  2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
  3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day
  4. Honour your father and your mother
  5. You shall not kill
  6. You shall not commit adultery
  7. You shall not steal
  8. You shall not bear false witness
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods
If you look closely, the 10 commandments can be broken into only 2, loving God (the first 3 commandments) and loving each other (the remaining 7 commandments) (Matthew 22:37-40). In giving us the Ten Commandments God is not trying to take away our fun or our freedom. Instead He’s showing us how we were meant to live. So, if God is inviting us to live right, let us then live right and grow in relationship with Him and with others around us.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Praying Before Meals - A Refresher

Are we a thankful people, or have we taken a lot of things for granted? Sometimes I notice in some families, family prayer, prayer before meals, etc. are no longer observed. Everyone seems to be busy, tired, giving so many excuses.

We recall many passages in the Gospels where Jesus prayed and taught others to pray. Jesus taught us the Our Father, which we use in many of our prayers, including the Mass. When feeding the 5000, Jesus "took the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. (Matthew 14:19)" At the Last Supper, Jesus "took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, 'Take and eat; this is my body.' Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you...' (Matthew 26:26-27)."

Some people may say that they feel shy, pai seh, or embarrassed to pray before a meal. But the question is... why are you embarrassed or shy when what you are doing is thanking God for the food you are about to receive? Have some of us lack patience and gratitude for God's bounty? Perhaps, to refresh ones memory in case one has forgotten how to pray before a meal, one could pray as follows:

Bless us, O Lord, and these Your gifts, which I am (we are) about to receive, from Your bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

New Year Resolutions

Some of us make new year resolutions each time a new year comes along. However, how many of us make a new year resolution for the new year of the Roman Catholic Church (Latin rite) which starts on the 1st Sunday of Advent?

As we are approaching the Roman Catholic Church (Latin rite) new year, and whether you have made any resolutions or not, pray for God's strength and grace to fulfil such resolutions, if any, and remain faithful in His love. Otherwise we may be merely making empty resolutions we do not keep.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Where is the love?

Every once in a while, I come across people who are genuine in their love towards all. Doesn't matter whether the other is a friend, unfriend, good, bad, enemy, rival, associate, spouse, in-law, out-law, etc., these folks love not just by words but also by their actions. You can see love emitting from them without pretense and without condition.

Unfortunately, as we progress in our physical development, some of us may be lacking or falling behind in our spiritual development. As a consequence, love to us becomes merely a word. The meaning gets lost in translation. We focus on ourselves, on our happiness, on our growth, and while doing so, we may begin to treat others as an object, as a means to fulfil our objectives. Our friends are perhaps not true friends, but people who we deem are useful or helpful to us.

Have some of us become so self-centered and conceited? Look at our society today, how many of us can genuinely say that we love our neighbour and in doing so, love God? Some may think that neighbour merely means the people next door, but Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:43-48:

"You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Where is the love in our lives today? Has love become conditional? God loves us unconditionally, dying on the cross to save all of us. Are we willing to put aside our prejudices, our self-preservation, our pride, our ego, etc. and let God's love shine through us? A hymn titled "God is Love" comes to mind: "But only when we love all men (women included), can we partake of God's love." Do we mean what we sing? Let us take heed and change our lives, so that "They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they'll know we are Christians by our love."

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

To love 愛 or to love 爱; That is the Question

If one looks closely at the Chinese character for 'love', one can discover some interesting things.

In traditional Chinese, people write this character as "愛." Now it is simplified to "爱."

The parts of "爫" and "夂" in the traditional Chinese both mean actions. "爫" or "爪" is a chinese radical meaning claw, nail, or talon, similar to grabbing or holding. "夂" is a chinese radical meaning "to walk slowly."

"心" means heart.

So the Traditional Chinese character "爱" means to love people through your actions and with your heart.

In the Simplified Chinese character "爱", the upper part of the word 'love' is the same as the Traditional Chinese. However, the lower part of the Traditional "夂" character is replaced with the character "友" which means "friend." Moreover, the "心" character is missing.

This has some implications to the meaning of the word 'love,' as the Simplified character "爱" now means to love people as merely friends through your actions.

When we love others, do we love them through our actions and with our heart? Or has our love become merely a 'friendly,' heartless love?

Friday, 27 September 2013


1.忏悔者画十字圣号     「因父及子及圣神之名。阿门。」

2.忏悔者告明上次举行和好圣事的时期 「神父,上次我举行和好圣事是……前。」






Friday, 20 September 2013

Confess at Confession, Not Gossip

At times, there are some people who come to confession and when they begin, instead of confessing their sins, they start to confess other people's sins, or sometimes, they even start blaming other people for causing them to sin. They talk about what their husband, wife, children, parents, in-laws, out-laws, etc. have done; they talk about their colleagues at work or their boss; but they seem to be unable to talk about the sins they have committed. Some of them even say that they are the victim and others are being mean or unfair. This behaviour and attitude is merely gossip, where one tries to justify oneself and being self-righteous.

Confession is not an avenue for people to complain or grumble about other people but to humbly and repentantly seek forgiveness from God. Perhaps one should look clearly at oneself instead of being so quick to accuse others, as Jesus reminded us:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 or Luke 6:41-42)."

Are some of us becoming so insensitive to our own sins and take delight in accusing others? Do we value the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or have we become indifferent to its true value?

Thursday, 5 September 2013

How to Make A Confession: Some Helpful Steps

Many a times, I find some people coming for confession without having a clue about how to make a confession with a priest. I am not speaking about examination of conscience here, but about the procedure during the confession itself.

Perhaps it would be helpful if we refresh our memory on how it is done, especially if there are among us who have not been regular in going for confession.

1. Begin by making the sign of the cross, then say: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It is (or has been) …………weeks (or months, or years) since my last confession."

Note:  Often I see people coming for confession and omitting this step. Your parish priest or the priest hearing your confession would need to know when was the last time you made a confession so he can later advise you accordingly.

2. Say: "These are my sins." Then confess your sins. Do not hide anything. Let it all out but there is no need to go into too much detail, unless the priest feels it is necessary. For example, if you committed adultery, just say you committed adultery and say how many times it happened (once, twice, etc.). There is no need to go into the nitty gritty details such as how you did it, with whom, location, how you felt, how the other person felt, etc.

3. When you are finished, tell the priest you are sorry for your sins and ask for forgiveness for those sins as well as any you may have forgotten to confess.

4. The priest will then advise you accordingly.

5. The priest will then give you a penance to perform and will ask you to say the Act of Contrition. A simple form of the Act of Contrition is:

O My God, I am very sorry that I have sinned against you; Because you are so good and with your help I will not sin again.

6. The priest will absolve you of your sins through a prayer ending with words similar to this: “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  Make the sign of the cross as he does this.

7. The priest will then dismiss you by saying some variation of “go in peace.”  Reply, “Thanks be to God” and exit the confessional.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Liturgical Year - Determining the Sunday and Weekday Cycle

The Catholic church has got its own calendar, just as many other religions also do. This calendar is called the Liturgical Year (to be referred to as LY henceforth) and familiarising oneself with the LY would help one know and prepare the Mass, Prayers, Readings, etc. of the day.

The easiest way to know the prayers and readings of the day is to use an ORDO. The ORDO is a calendar (often found online or in a booklet form) which prescribes the Mass and prayers which is to be celebrated each day. However, if you do not have access to one, then you would need to calculate manually (which can be a rather messy task).

Basically,  the LY is broken into a cycle of 3 for the Sunday and a cycle of 2 for the weekday:

Year A - Readings taken from the Gospel of Matthew
Year B - Readings taken from the Gospel of Mark
Year C - Readings taken from the Gospel of Luke

Weekday (Mon to Sat. Note that Sat evening uses the Sunday cycle)
Year 1
Year 2

To determine which Sunday and Weekday cycle the present year is:

For the Sunday cycle
1. Divide the present year by 3.
If the division results in a balance of 1, then that year uses Year A.
If the division results in a balance of 2, then that year uses Year B.
If the division does not produce any balance, then that year uses Year C.
For example, if the present year is 2013:
2013/3 = no balance. Thus, the year uses Year C.

For the Weekday cycle
Odd number uses Year 1
Even number uses Year 2
For example, 2013 is an odd number. So the year uses Year 1.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Choosing Wedding Processional Music Wisely

On the wedding day, many couples use the Bridal Chorus by Wagner when the bride process into the church with her father or someone representing her father to be handed to the groom. After the wedding Mass or service, many newly-wedded couples process out of the church while the Wedding March by Mendelssohn is played.

Many people refer to "The Bridal Chorus" as the wedding march, but in fact, the "Wedding March" and "The Bridal Chorus" are two distinct pieces, each with their own histories. Both were originally written for use in the context of fictional weddings. Understanding the background behind each, may help you decide whether to use them in your own wedding.

The “Bridal Chorus” from Wagner’s opera, Lohengrin, actually accompanies the couple to the bedroom, not the altar! “Lohengrin” is a tragic tale of love between Lohengrin and Elsa, whose marriage is never consummated after their wedding and who are forever parted shortly after they wed (the bride Elsa dies). “Lohengrin” contains elements of intrigue, suspicion, lies and ill-will.

Mendelssohn’s incidental music to Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, the "Wedding March," accompanies a farcical (that which is ridiculously clumsy; ludicrous, absurd) wedding (the play is a comedy), between a fairy and a man turned into a donkey (ass or jackass).

Though there is no official ban or prohibition from using these music pieces for your wedding, looking at their background, would you still want to use them in your wedding?

Some possible alternatives to consider are:

Canon in D (J. Pachelbel)
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (J. S. Bach)
Air on the G String (J. S. Bach)
Air (G. F. Handel)
Hornpipe (G. F. Handel)
Trumpet Tune (H. Purcell / J. Clarke)
Trumpet Voluntary (J. Clarke)
Rondeau (J. J. Mouret)
Ode to Joy (L. Beethoven)

Friday, 2 August 2013

MyKad, Passport & Baptism Certificate

This posting is generally relevant only to Malaysians. There may be some other countries in the world which use an identity card of some sort; if so this posting may apply to them too.

Most of us are aware of the importance of our IC or Identity Card (also known nowadays as MyKad). The MyKad must be carried at all times. Failure to do so may incur a fine of between RM3,000 and RM20,000 or jail term of up to three years.

If you plan to travel to another country, you would need a passport. Without a passport, you could be denied entry into the other country and may face a fine, jail term, and deportation.

The church has also got an important document called a baptism certificate. The baptism certificate states that a person has been baptised according to the Catholic rite on a particular date, church, name of parents, name of Godparents, the priest or deacon who conducted the baptism, as well as the date the baptism certificate is issued. A record entry of when a person is confirmed and when a person is married is also stated on the baptism certificate.

Before you receive any other sacrament, you need to have been baptised. Baptism is the first part of initiation into the Church, into the Body of Christ. So Baptism is a prerequisite for the reception of other sacraments: for Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Marriage and for the making of profession of vows in an institute of consecrated life.

Prior to the reception of these sacraments, the priest must check that you have been baptised, and a baptism certificate is required here. For marriage, it is necessary to prove that you are free to marry and have a wedding Mass or service. In this case a recent baptismal certificate is required. When a person has passed away, a baptism certificate is required as proof that the person is a Catholic, otherwise a Catholic funeral cannot be granted.

It is strongly advisable for you to have a latest copy of the baptism certificate, especially after you have received the sacrament of confirmation, when you plan to get married, and after the wedding has taken place.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Marriage Preparation Course - Some Ramblings

I am noticing a trend nowadays... some people want to get married but when it comes to preparing themselves for marriage, they seem to want to have preparations done quickly (pronto... expresso... whatever).

Seems strange that these same people would go through great lengths and spend lots of time studying for exams, working towards Bachelor, Master or PhD Degrees; or even making great effort in impressing the boss with hope of better pay or promotion.

But... when it comes to preparing for Marriage? Attending a Marriage Preparation Course seems like such a difficult thing to do (as if one is having one's teeth pulled). No time... Busy... Work... So many excuses given... Seems as if marriage is no longer important or worthwhile to prepare for (especially spiritually and knowing clearly what is expected in a Catholic marriage). Getting a good restaurant for the wedding makan or dinner, finding a reasonable priced romantic place for the honeymoon, booking a nice hotel... all these seem to preoccupy the minds of some couples more than a Marriage Preparation Course. Some couples even want the course to be completed fast fast... as if spending an hour or two a week (that is only once a week for about 6 weeks) knowing what a Catholic marriage is all about is such a painful experience.

What is happening here? Do we value our marriage, which is a life-long commitment ("one and two, super glue" as my professor in Canon Law on the topic of Catholic Marriages likes to say), or have we become so influenced by the media, where glamour and materialism is more important? Do we care about our faith and the need to share our faith with our spouse and children, or have we become complacent with our Catholic identity?

BO and MO during Confession?

Among the many challenges a padre has to put up with when it comes to confession, one which is just as potent and potentially pengsan-able...