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?

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...