Friday, 19 December 2014

To convert or not to convert? That is the question!

Some of us in Malaysia are not aware of the implications of converting from one's religion to Islam. People do so for a variety of reasons, but before one does so, it is necessary for one to be aware of what one is getting oneself into, as the saying goes: Look before you leap. Note that this only applies to Malaysia, since other countries may have different variances or applications.

Thus, I have reproduced an article from the Herald (Catholic Weekly), published by the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur on 14 Aug 2005, for your information, understanding, continuing education, reference and awareness. The article is as follows:


If you convert to Islam, there are important changes in your legal status and what you can or cannot do. Your conversion to Islam will be registered with the Religious Department and the National Registration Department, both of which are computerised, so that access to this information is available throughout the country.

Under Syariah enactments of most of the 13 States of Malaysia:


  1. Conversion back to your former religion is either (a) not allowed under the law, or (b) a criminal offence which means you may be fined, whipped, detained or imprisoned under most State Islamic laws.
  2. If you are under 18 years of age, you require your parent's permission to convert to Islam.
  3. Your identity card will record your conversion to Islam. Therefore, even if you are no longer practising Islam, you may be fined, whipped, detained or imprisoned for violation of Syariah laws, such as praying in church, eating in public during fasting month, khalwat etc.
  4. You cannot marry a non-Muslim. If you decide to divorce and attempt to convert out of Islam, you will lose custody of your children because they are Muslims.
  5. Upon death, your non-Muslim relatives will lose their rights to any money, property, etc. that you want to leave to them. The corpse of a convert to Islam will be taken away from his or her non-Muslim family for Islamic rites and burial even if you have not been a practising Muslim for many years.
  6. In the event that your spouse converts to Islam, you may have no right to either your children or your spouse's property.
We know that certain Christians who convert to Islam for whatever reasons, are not aware of or do not consider seriously the implications of such conversion.

Hence the need to inform you. By this, we are neither against Islam nor freedom of religion, which is guaranteed for all Malaysians in Article 11 of our Constitution which give the right to an individual to freely choose his or her religion.

But to choose correctly, you need to know clearly what you choose and the consequences of your choice.


The above was a letter that appeared in The Herald (The Catholic Weekly) on Aug 14, 2005. It was signed by Archbishop Murphy Pakiam, Bishop Antony Selvanayagam and Bishop Paul Tan, SJ. Reprinted with permission.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Do we hear? Or do we listen?

Hear and listen are verbs we use when we refer to our sense of hearing - using our ears. But they have significant differences in meaning.

When we hear, it simply means that sounds come into our ears. Hearing is to physically experience the sense of sound. As long as one's ear and brain are capable of processing sound waves, one can hear. It may not be deliberate. We hear so many different things throughout our lives, throughout each day. When we listen, we try to hear. It involves effort and concentration. We pay attention and try to understand every sound. It is to deliberately apply the ability to hear. One who listens is thinking about what is heard, what it means, how to respond, and whether to continue to listen/pay attention.

In our spiritual life, we sometimes get too distracted. We are bombarded with all sorts of noises. We have so many things to do, so many issues to face, that our focus becomes divided. The Lord may be prompting us, talking to us, inviting us and beckoning us to sit by His side and listen to His words, just as Mary sat by His side while her sister Martha scurried about with so many things to do. Are we too concerned about things, about ourselves, to listen to Him? Have we become so task-oriented, that His voice is drowned out or ignored or inaudible? The Lord is inviting us to listen to His soothing words; words that nourish our soul; words that give us strength; words that help us grow closer to Him. Let us not waste the many opportunities God has given us to enjoy His company and presence.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Dressing Modestly and with Decorum in Church - A Wedding Drama

Every once in a while, I come across couples planning for their wedding and in some instances, the bride then asks whether she could dress a little more stylo milo in one of those modern wedding gowns. The bride is advised to dress modestly and conservatively, since the wedding is taking place in church and a certain amount of decorum is expected. After all, you wouldn't wear shorts and t-shirt, or some other inappropriate clothing, when you go to a banquet or attend a function where a VIP (Very Important Person), Dignitaries or members of Royalty, are present. So, in church, one should dress modestly, properly and appropriately.

However, sometimes I come across a bride who "berdegil" or is stubborn.


At one wedding day, a bride came dressed in a round neck strapless sleeveless wedding gown (similar to the wedding gown of this picture), supported only with don't know what item together with her upper anatomy (possibly trying to show off certain parts). As she was walking down the aisle, all of a sudden, the upper part of her wedding gown gave way and the whole thing dropped down. It seems that the poor lady was not wearing anything inside and everything above her waist was revealed. I quickly closed my eyes and looked elsewhere, not wanting to see the consequence of the clothing malfunction, but the cameras and video recorders, I am told, caught the whole sequence of revelation.

Naturally, the poor bride was red with embarrassment and in tears. Her mother at least had the presence of mind to get her husband's coat and cover up the poor bride. Then the sobbing bride was led away. The wedding certainly could not continue till a later date.

So, if you are planning for your wedding, just be mindful that unexpected situations could occur. As some may say, "malang tidak berbau" or "kejatuhan tidak boleh disangka" (loosely translated as "calamnity or accidents cannot be predicted and may happen"). Dress properly and modestly in church, as it is a sacred place and God's dwelling, and not some concert hall, fashion show or opera house. Later at some other place such as the wedding dinner or banquet, you want to dress shockalingam or stylo milo, that is up to you.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

“愛”或是“爱”成为我们今天的挑战

假如我们仔细观擦以上的繁体和简体字“愛”和“爱”的分别,你会发现到很多有趣的事情。

繁体字“愛”上面有“爫”或是“爪”,而下方有“夂”。上下两者都显示“动作”词。“爪”是动物脚趾或手指端长出的硬物体,有紧抓或是拿着的意思;致以“夂”的意义是“慢步行走”。“心”是人体重要的器官。因此繁体字“愛”告诉我们爱别人不但要以行动去表示,而且还要有一颗善良爱心,慢慢地开导他们。

致以简体字“爱”,虽然上面部分和繁体字“愛”一样,但是下面部分就不同了。取而代之的是个“友”字,而且中间的“心”字不见了。所以简体字“爱”就让人觉得我们现在爱别人只是当着朋友而已,并没有一心一意地付出。

让我们反省一下,在爱别人时是否真心相对?或者只是把他们当着普通朋友一般,缺少一 颗诚恳的愛心呢?

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

十诫:第九和第十诫:不可贪图人物或财物

第九诫:你不可垂涎别人的妻子。

第十诫:你不可贪图别人的财物。

什么是垂涎和贪图?这两个词语都有贪的欲望:可能羡慕美色或贪图财物。假如是名正言顺所得到的,正正当当的,那就不关痛痒了。当我们想拥有的人物或事物已经有了主人,而他们又不舍得放弃时,问题就出现了。

假如你有意图或是正在进行下列事项,你已触犯了第九和第十诫。
  • 对他人起了非分的想法。
  • 贪图他人的丈夫或妻子。
  • 不择手段的想把人物或事物占为己有。
  • 故意毁坏别人的财物。
在圣经里有很多篇幅,描述有关贪婪和意图不轨的故事;以下的章节可供给我们作参考或反省:

每个人受诱惑,都是被自己的私欲所勾引,所饵诱;然后,私欲怀孕,便产生罪恶;罪恶完成之后,遂生出死亡来。(雅各伯书1:14-15)

祸哉,那些在床上策划不义,图谋行恶的人!因为他们手中有能力,一到天亮,就去实行。他们想要田地便去霸占;想要房屋便去夺取;以暴力对付业主和他的家族,屋主和他的产业。为此,上主这样说:“看,我正在为这一家筹划灾祸,致令你们不能缩回你们的颈项,也不能挺身前行,因为那是一个灾祸的时刻。”在哪一日,人要作诗讽刺你们,唱这悲惨的哀歌说:“我们完全被抢掠了,我人民的基业已被人瓜分了,再无人归还;我们的土地已分配给抢掠我们的人!”因此,你们在上主的集会中,再没有拉绳测量和抽签的人。他们讲说:“你们不要说预言。”
“人不该预言这样的事,耻辱决不会来到我们身上!雅各伯的家岂可诅咒的?上主的气量岂能变为狭小?难道这是他的作风?他的话岂不是有益于以色列子民?”“但是你们正像敌人一样,齐来攻击我的人民,因为你们向没有短衣的人索求长袍,向平安走路的人索取战利品。你们驱逐我人民的妇女,离开她们快乐的家庭,从他们婴儿身上,永远夺去我的光荣。你们起来走罢!因为这不是你们安息之所。为了不洁,这地必要遭受不可挽救的毁灭。”假若有人随从虚妄而撒谎说:“我要对你预言清酒和醇酒。”这人必可作这民族的先知。我必要聚集雅各伯全民从,我必要集合以色列遗民,使他们合并在一处,有如羊栏里的绵羊,有如牧场上的羊群,不再怕任何人。开路者走在他们面前开道;他走在前面,众人随他穿门而过;他们的君王走在他们前面,上主亲作他们的向导。(米该亚2:1-13)。

“恶人因随心所欲而自庆,匪徒因轻慢上主而自幸。”(咏10:3)。

我们可以好好地应用和培养情感和欲望,来做伟大的事情,也能光荣天主圣名。当情感被滥用或是作为达到私人的利益时,我们将会触犯严重的罪行。让我们小心翼翼地处理私欲和情感,不要非分地占有人物或财物,避免害己害人,且破坏我们与天主的关系。

Friday, 13 June 2014

十诫:第八诫:不要欺骗

"不可作假见证"

欺骗就是欺骗,不管你说是白,黑,黄,橙等等.为了避免不如意的情况,一些人会讲骗话.也有一些人,不想别人知道他们是何方神圣而讲骗话.为了得到利益或权势,他们只好讲骗话。也有一些人为了避免受迫害或是危险情况而讲骗话。总之,千术百出。千万不要相信职业老千因为他们不可靠。

假如你曾经做或时常做以下的事项,那你已触犯了第八诫。
  • 以不同的方式欺骗自己或他人。
  • 诽谤他人的名誉。
  • 诋毁别人。
  • 为了自己的利益或其它理由,而做人身攻击。
  • 诋毁人格或声誉。
  • 讲是非,草率下定论,口是心非,秋后算账,轻蔑言论。
  • 不能守秘密。
我们是否应该学习观擦事情而聪明一些,在适当的时候道出真相,不然就闭嘴,一字不提。在适合的场所,应讲的就讲,不要为了取悦他人而口出谎言。耶稣提醒我们,“假如你遵守我的话,你是我的真正门徒;到时你将领悟真理来释放你。”
我们是否要靠主耶稣的真理来释放我们?

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

十诫:第七诫:不可偷盗

“你不可偷盗”。

为什麼会发生偷盗事件?每个人都会提出百般理由;追根究底,不外是贪婪和自私。假如,大家对自己拥有的,感到满足,那就不会有偷盗出现了。就因为有些人不满足自己的现况,而期望得到更大,更好,更快,更新的东西,结果,就出现了偷窃的念头。偷窃有不同的方式,有些很明显,有些暗地里行事。有些人认为只有穷困或有迫切需要的才会偷;但是一些富有者都干这一行。在我们之中是否有类似的贼出现呢?

假如你曾经或正在做以下事项,那么你已经犯了第七诫。
  • 通过别人的帮助,你直接或间接地偷。
  • 直接或间接毁坏他人财物。
  • 不还清所欠下的账目(例如:信用卡账目到期不付账,或是逃税)
  • 不归还找到的或是借来的东西(尤其是我们知道物主是谁),有些情况是不知道物 主的,就是知道,当事人可能当作没有一回事那样,把东西收藏着。
  • 在买卖时,使用不公平的方法。
  • 没有付出公平的工资(付出少过协议中所规定的或没有给工人应得的数目或无理 地扣押工资。)实行或助他人进行贿赂。
  • 实行或助他人进行贪污。
  • 以各种方式欺骗他人。
  • 私下或帮助他人设下骗局。
  • 收买贼赃。
  • 工作时偷懒而拉长时间,为了得到更多的工资。
  • 不遵守合约又没有提出适当的理由。
  • 还有一大堆其他事项。。。。。。。。。
在圣经有关偷盗的诸多篇幅里,以下各项可供给我们作参考或反省:

从前做小偷的不要再偷窃,要用自己的双手辛苦劳作,与贫穷的人一起分享所得。(厄佛所人书4:28)

不义之财毫无益处,惟有公义才能救人脱离死亡。(箴言10:2)

因为贪爱钱财乃是万恶的根源;有些人却因贪爱钱财而远离了信德,使自己蒙受了许多刺心的痛苦。(第茂德前书6:10)

人岂能欺骗天主?可是你们却欺骗了我!你们却说:我们在何事上欺骗了你?即在什一之物和应献的祭物上。(马拉基书3:8)。

不管所偷的东西是大或小,便宜或贵重,轻或重,偷窃就是偷窃。让我们走上天主的正道,避免做出卑鄙的手段。

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

十诫:第六诫:不可犯奸淫的行为

“你不可犯奸淫之罪”

增经有人说:婴孩应享婴孩时;成人应享成人戏。听起来蛮有趣。不过,事实上切应该避而远之。

假如你有经历以下事项,你已经触犯第六诫。
  • 曾经在思,言,行为上与他人的太太或丈夫有暧昧的关系。
  • 观看和别人分享黄色影片,不道德的戏剧或阅读黄色书本。
  • 讲述黄色性的话题。
  • 私自享受暧昧的思想和行为 或和他人分享。
  • 自行或鼓励自慰,通奸,同性恋,乱伦,兽交,娈童癖。
  • 自己或与他人在言行,外表或穿着方面不雅观。
“你知道吗每个教友的身躯是天主赐予的圣神的宫殿?我们不再是自己,我们是以高价被赎出来的。因此,要以身躯来尊敬天主。。。(格林多人前书6:19-20)

所以,我们要保持贞洁和谦逊,无论在言行和穿着方面,尽量避免犯罪的机会。

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

十诫:第五诫:不可杀害他人

“你不可杀害他人.”

正常人会否杀害其他人呢?我相信不会。然而,当今世界,杀人不一定要自己动手,借刀杀人,时有所闻。因此,我们要特别小心这类事情的发生,当然最好能够阻止事情的发生。

假如你犯了以下任何一项事宜,那么,你肯定触犯了第五诫。
  • 预谋杀害另外一个人。
  • 尝试自尽或自杀,或唆使别人自杀。
  • 堕胎或是替她人堕胎。
  • 自行安乐死或替别人实现安乐死。
  • 自己应用避孕丸或教他人应用人工避孕法。
  • 自行绝育或使他人绝育。
  • 鼓励或应用人工受孕法。(从丈夫或其它捐精者与卵子用试管授精后,把胚胎植入女人胎中。致以其它的胚胎,看环境所需,分配捐给有需要的妇女或被消灭。)
  • 鼓励或复制和牵连到的人工受孕法。
  • 危害自己或他人生命或肢体;包刮危险性的虚张声势和好出风头。
因为制造厮杀,愤怒,怀恨,仇恨和坏榜样而造成自己或他人的死亡。 今天的社会,越来越多人鼓吹死亡的文化;就因为缺乏道德观念,弱者的生命被取决于强者;而一些人就成为别人的工具(Envangelium Vitae3,12)。

让我们胆敢无私地鼓吹生命文化,不要忘了,人的生命由母亲的胚胎到自然诞生的过程都是神圣的。

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

十诫:第四诫:应当孝敬父母

“应当孝敬父母”。

长辈们教导小孩要爱护,尊敬及听从父母亲的话。我们长大后,更要尊从合法的民选政权;也要听从教会高层神职人员(尤其是有关信仰及道德方面)的教导。无论如何,你若触犯以下事项,你已经犯了第四诫命。
  • 怀恨父母和长辈。
  • 遗弃,生气和侮辱年迈父母。
  • 侮辱,不遵从或不听从父母或是法定长辈们的指示。
背叛民选法定机构或合法长辈们的政策。尊敬并非盲目听从或孝敬。我们要分析和确定所尊敬和听从的对象是否被公认。有时候我们很难尊敬那些不公平或是虐待我们的父母。不过,我们尊敬他们,不是因为他们值得我们那么做,而是天主告诉我们要爱众人,也包括我们的敌人。

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

十诫:第三诫:应当纪念安息日,并守为圣日或主日

“应当纪念安息日,并守为圣日或主日。”

我们之中有很多是大忙人,但是记得,不要忙过分。有时候我们忙得太过分,而忽略了其它事情的重要性。这些事情可能是健康;为了自己的事业而赔上了健康或是要负担昂贵的医药费;也可能因此造成家庭或朋友关系的决裂;或者是与天主的关系逐渐疏远。

假如你时常犯上以下的一些错误,你已触犯第三诫了。
  • 无缘无故地缺席主日弥撒。
  • 做工怠慢。
  • 实行多余的公开买卖。
  • 其它能够阻止你守主日的事项。
我们应该记着,每个主日教友到圣堂参与弥撒是为了要得到主耶稣祝福。既然天主“用了六天的时间来实践祂的工作而在第七天休息了”,人们的生活也应该有工作和休息的节奏。建立主日的原因就是为了要让人们有足够的时间,尽量地享受文化,社交,天伦及宗教上的生活乐趣。 人的一生不只是追求事业,财富,名利,地位和梦想而已。更不希望将来有一天你才后悔而发现,在百忙中更应该与他人和主修好关系。我们是否愿意照照镜子,让镜中的你作出一定的改变呢?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

十诫:第二诫:不可随意妄呼天主圣名

“你不可以随意妄呼天主圣名。”

很多人在未经过深思熟虑前就大发伟论,之后才后悔。有些人习惯上会用一些花言巧语,高谈阔论,熟不知所用的一些词语含有侮辱的成份。作为天主教徒,我们应该在传播福音时,自己的言行应成为好榜样。

无论如何,当你发现触犯以下任何事项,你已经犯了第二诫。
  • 当我们言行亵渎天主圣名或圣物时;例如:“哦,我的天啊,你为何那么愚蠢?”或是一些类似的言语。
  • 口出粗言或秽语(诅咒,发誓,或用其它侮辱的字眼:不便逐一列明)。
  • 做出不明智或是无谓的宣誓或誓言,不守誓言或无法履行誓言者。

箴言21:23 提醒我们:“谨守口与舌的,就可以保住自己免受很多灾难。”

耶稣也在马窦15:1提到:“不是入口的使人污秽,而是出于口的使人不安。

让我们多多注意言语方面的重要性。

Friday, 21 March 2014

十诫:第一诫:唯一的天主

“除了我,你们的天主之外,你不可有别的神。”

有些教友认为只要他们每主日准时参加弥撒,参与教会的活动,那么他们是不可能触犯第一诫的。虽然如此,那些所谓“好教友”的,竟然也触犯第一诫呢。为何如此?

假如你曾经做过或是还在实行以下任何一项事项,你已触犯第一诫:
  • 任何受造生物(除天主之外,任何人)或受造物(如:太阳,月亮,星星,“地球”)或者是一些东西(雕像或形象),除了朝拜天主之外,又把这些东西当着神明来供奉者。
  • 迷信或是相信招魂术,降头,占星术,风水论,巫师,占星,算命,看掌纹者。
  • 直接尝试与亡者魂魄沟通或者通过其它媒介者。
  • 参与任形式的邪教活动者。
  • 妄用任何神圣的东西,参与和朝拜异端者。
  • 草率地下结论和绝望者。
  • 为了世间的荣华富贵,名望地位和各种凡间的乐趣,而弃绝天主教的信仰者。
耶稣提醒我们不可侍奉两个主人:“没有人能侍奉两个主人,他或是要恨这一个而爱那一个,或是依附这一个而轻忽那一个。你们不能侍奉天主而又侍奉钱财。(马窦6:24),那么你要选那一个,天主或钱财?天主的圣训或是世间的花言巧语?有时候在我们追求名利与地位或是成就时,往往会把天主排在第二位。因此我们就触犯了第一诫。

让我们细心听耶稣在马窦16:26所提醒我们的忠言:“人纵然赚得了全世界,却赔上了自己的灵魂,为他有什麽益处?或者人还能拿什麽作为自己灵魂的代价呢?”

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

天主十诫─温故知新─简介

我们教友之中,很可能有些已经遗忘或不确定所谓十诫?为了方便教友们温故知新,以下这简短介绍会有很大的帮助,尤其是要准备办告解圣事的教友们。
  • 第一诫: 除了我,你们的天主之外,你不可有别的神。
  • 第二诫:不可 随意妄称天主圣名。
  • 第三诫:应当纪念安息日,并守为圣日或主日。
  • 第四诫:应当孝敬父母。
  • 第五诫:不可杀害他人。
  • 第六诫:不可奸淫。
  • 第七诫:不可偷盗。
  • 第八诫:不可作假见证陷害人。
  • 第九诫:不可垂涎别人的妻子。
  • 第十诫:不可贪图别人的财物。
假如我们仔细阅读,就可以把十诫规划成为两条重要的诫命:爱天主在万有之上(第一至第三)和 大家互相爱护(其余的七条诫命)(马窦 22:37—40)。天主颁给我们十条诫命并非要剥夺人类的自由或乐趣。反而,祂在教导我们如何在世上活的更有意义。既然,天主要我们生活的更有规律,那麽就让我们好好地听天主的话,和祂建立更好的关系,也不忽略和周遭人的情谊。

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Act of Contrition: A Requirement in the Sacrament of Reconciliation

A person must have a contrite heart for the sacrament of Reconciliation to be effective. A contrite heart expresses repentance, without which there can be no forgiveness of sin. Thus, the act of contrition was formulated to express the thoughts of such a contrite heart. It is a requirement of the Sacrament.

When people go for confession, some may have forgotten how to recite the "Act of Contrition" prayer. It is best if people can recite this prayer from the heart, but for those of us who are becoming less able to remember things, here are some "Act of Contrition" prayers to recite. You may wish to write one down or print it out for you to keep and bring around, so that it is convenient for you to take it out and recite when you go for confession.

In English (Choose one only)
  1. O, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you. I detest all my sins because of your just punishment, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.
  2. 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.
In BM (This prayer is for BM-speaking Catholics only) (Pilih satu sahaja)
  1. Allah yang Maharahim, aku menyesal atas dosa-dosaku, sebab patut aku Engkau hukum, terutama sebab aku telah menghina Engkau yang Mahamurah dan Mahabaik bagiku. Aku benci akan segala dosaku dan berjanji dengan pertolongan rahmat-Mu hendak memperbaiki hidupku dan tidak akan berbuat dosa lagi. Ya Allah, kasihanilah aku, orang yang berdosa ini. Amin.
  2. Allahku, dengan seluruh hatiku aku menyesali dosa-dosaku. Dengan berbuat jahat aku lalai untuk berbuat baik. Aku telah berdosa terhadap Engkau, yang seharusnya kucintai di atas segala-galanya. Dengan bantuan-Mu aku berjanji untuk tidak berdosa lagi, untuk bertobat, dan menghindari apa saja yang dapat menjerumuskan aku ke dalam dosa. Amin.
In Mandarin (选一个)
  1. 天主,为了我所犯的一切罪过,和我应做而没有尽到的本分,我全心痛悔,因为我得罪了你,极仁慈的天主。现在,依靠你圣宠的助佑,我决心悔改,善作补赎,愿永远生活在您的爱里。阿门。
  2. 我的天主,我的慈父,我犯罪得罪了您,很觉惭愧,也真心痛悔。 因为我辜负了您的慈爱,妄用了您的恩宠。 我今定志,宁死再不得罪您,并尽力躲避犯罪的机会,我的天主,求您垂怜我,宽赦我。阿门。
  3. 主,耶稣基督,你是除免世罪的天主羔羊,求你籍着神的恩宠,恢复我与圣父间的关系;在你为我所流的圣血中,洗净我的一切罪污;并为你圣名的光荣,赐给我新生。阿门。
  4. 吾主耶稣,基利斯督,造我养我,救我的主。 我重罪人,得罪天主。 今特为爱天主在万有之上,真心痛悔,恼恨我罪,决意定改,宁死再不敢犯天主的诫命,恳望吾主,念尔受难之功,可怜赦我的罪。阿门。

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Exchanging 5 c's for 2 c's

Living on this earth can be a struggle and a challenge. We face different obstacles along the way and sometimes, we feel as if we are being pulled in different directions. On the one hand, we need to make a living to survive. On the other hand, we also need to maintain a good spiritual relationship with God. What do we do? What are we looking for?

Some of us may be tempted in different degrees and at one point or another to pursue the 5c's: Cash, Card, Club, Condominium, Car. We see how others seem to be prospering and enjoying themselves and we may desire to be like these other people. However, in some cases, achieving such wealth and status may take a long time or may not be reachable to some. When faced with such obstacles, some of us may not be patient or content, and we may give in to less savoury methods to attain what we want. The question is this: is it really worth pursuing all these things in the long run? Will we be ever happy or content with what we have?

Jesus reminds us: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

While we need to survive in this world, let us also take time to ponder what we really want, what really matters, what really makes us happy and content. We are pilgrims in this world, and everything that we own, everything that we value, will one day be lost. We cannot cling on to what we have forever, and we certainly cannot bring these things with us when we die. We are constantly given opportunities by our loving God to be less dependent on the 5c's and embrace 2c's: Christ and the Cross. Embracing the 2c's may not be easy, as we may suffer or be ridiculed by others. People may say that we are crazy or silly, especially as the world seems to offer so much. However, let us not give up, let us persevere, for what we seek is not found in this temporal world. Are you willing to really take up your cross and follow Christ?


"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).

"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12).

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Advent or Lent Penitential Service: Some Observations

During each Advent or Lent Penitential Service, several matters keep cropping up and I feel it is necessary to take heart:

1. Come early. Some priests come from quite a distance and if that priest is the one you are comfortable going to, coming late means you might "miss" him. Moreover, coming early gives you more time to prepare yourself to make a good confession.

2. If you have young children with you, please get your spouse or someone you can trust to keep an eye on them and hold on to them if necessary so that you and others can make a good confession in peace. Some young children may be hyperactive and start running around, which may cause distraction to others who are praying or reflecting.

3. Be brief when confessing. The priest wants to hear your sins, not the elaborate historical background to what led you to sin.

4. Confess your sins, not other people's. Some folks come for confession and start complaining about their husband, wife, children, etc. The priest is not interested in listening to your gossip.

5. Reflect carefully before going for confession. In this way, you can discover what sins you committed, especially serious ones.

6. Stay calm and focused. Don't get distracted with other matters before, during and after confession.

7. Be courteous. This is especially important when parking your vehicle or waiting your turn for confession. Don't cause other people to sin due to your behaviour or attitude. For example, when you arrive, park your vehicle properly as there may be other people coming later. Some folks have double-parked or parked indiscriminately and caused others to fume in disgust.

8. Remember the procedure. If you cannot remember how to make a good confession, the priest will guide you. However, it is better to know what to do and what to say, so that the confession can go on smoothly, instead of holding up other people.

9. Try to control your emotions. We know that some of you may cry due to feelings of guilt, embarrassment, etc. But the confessional is not meant to be a counselling session. I have seen some people come, and while confessing start raining down buckets. If you are experiencing such strong emotions, it may be better and necessary that you seek counselling later.

10. After confession and spending some time in prayer, leave peacefully. Don't loiter around the church too long, especially where parking space is limited, so that others can park and go for confession.

There may be other issues not mentioned in this list, but we hope that all faithful would take note so that the Advent or Lent Penitential Service could proceed smoothly for the spiritual growth and betterment of all..

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Ten Commandments: 9th & 10th Commandment: Don't Covet Other Person or Thing

9th Commandment: "You shall not covet your neighbour's wife"
10th Commandment: "You shall not covet your neighbour's goods"

What is coveting? Coveting is a desire or yearning to possess or have something or someone. If what we covet is obtained through legal, proper, justifiable means, then that is not an issue. The problem begins when we covet persons or things which belong to someone else, and that someone is unwilling or unable to part with the person or thing.

If we have:
  • Unchaste or impure thoughts towards another person
  • Desire of another person's wife or husband
  • Desire to take or keep wrongfully
  • Wilfully damage property that belongs to another
then we could be breaking this commandment.

Among the many passages from the bible concerning coveting, here are some for us to reflect on:
  • "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death" (James 1:14-15).
  • "Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance. Therefore thus says the Lord: behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster. In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you and moan bitterly, and say, “We are utterly ruined; he changes the portion of my people; how he removes it from me! To an apostate he allots our fields.” Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the Lord..." (Micah 2:1-13).
  • "For the wicked boasts of his heart's desire, And the greedy man curses and spurns the LORD" (Psalm 10:3).
Passion and desire, when used and nurtured properly can be used to accomplish great things and give glory to God. When we misuse passion for personal gratification and gain, we may end up committing far heinous sins. Let us take care not to covet unhealthily only to ruin our lives and our relationship with God.

For the wicked boasts of his heart's desire, And the greedy man curses and spurns the LORD. - See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Coveting#sthash.1yAkFiY2.dpuf

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The Ten Commandments: 8th Commandment: Don't Lie Lah

"You shall not bear false witness"

A lie is a lie, regardless whether it is white, black, yellow, orange or whatever. Some people lie to get out of an uncomfortable situation. Some lie because they do not want others to know their true self. Some lie because they want to gain prestige and importance. Some lie to save one's own skin from persecution or danger. Others lie for some other reason or another. There are even people who are habitual liars, making them undependable for court and for other important matters.

If we have:
  • Lied to oneself and to others, in one form or another
  • Injured the good name of others
  • Slandered others
  • Committed character assassination of others through our words for one's personal gain or for some other reason
  • Committed detraction (derogatory or damaging comment on a person's character or reputation) 
  • Told tales, made rash judgment, commited backbiting, uttered contemptuous speech
  • Not kept secrets
then we could be breaking this commandment.

Are we wise and discerning enough to hold our tongue and be truthful at all times, even if the truth may hurt? Are we able to say what is necessary and when necessary, instead of trying to please others and make them happy? Jesus reminded us: "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Are we dependent on Jesus who has come to free us with the truth?

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...