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), 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 at 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 - Malay for brain not entirely there); and may we always let God be our loving guide.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Computer Backup & Our Spiritual Care

Nowadays, many people own computers with lots of documents in them - Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, MP3 files, pictures, clipart, etc. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the importance of making backup copies of such documents. Should a virus or some disaster strike, months of work and effort are gone - wiped out.

Having a backup plan for your computer is essential, so as not to lose your valuable documents. One has many choices to select from. CDs, DVDs and Thumbdrives are common media used for backup. However, these can be easily scratched and damaged. Some people use external hard disks for backup. Though external hard disks are more expensive, they tend to be more reliable for longer term backup usage. Whichever backup media you choose, it is always a good idea to have at least 2 different sets of backup. This is so that in case one set is damaged or the data is somehow corrupted, there would be another set to fall back on.

Another aspect of backup is the type of backup software used. Some backup software make it very easy for users to do a backup at just a click of the mouse. These days, you can find free and paying backup software from the internet which you can use to assist you in performing backup. All you need to do is to search online and you would find various types of such backup software to choose from.

So what does backing up documents on a computer have to do with our spiritual care? We as Catholics also have got a backup plan, in the form of the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion. When we go for regular confession and Holy Communion, we are backing up and restoring our relationship with God. God is the ultimate backup and there are times when He is the only one with us. If we fail to backup and restore our relationship with God, then we risk losing our heavenly inheritance, especially when death suddenly strikes us. We do not know when we would die, so it is essential to be always ready, by being regular in our "spiritual backup." Let us take heed and not procrastinate, while we have time to make amends with God.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Viruses and Sin

When a person is infected by a virus, he or she would often quickly see a doctor and/or go to a hospital for treatment. This is because, a virus left untreated could cause serious damage to one's health, even death.

Computer viruses, once detected, are quickly removed using antivirus software, to prevent any further or possible damage of one's computer or personal files.

However, when a person has sinned, does the person immediately seek confession to prevent any further or possible damage to one's soul and relationship with God? Some people are regular in their confession, while others procrastinate, coming only once or twice a year. Both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI recommend weekly confessions to purify one's soul and to maintain right relationship with God.

In his 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (The Eucharist and Its Relationship to the Church), John Paul II warned: “I therefore desire to reaffirm that in the Church there remains in force, now and in the future, the rule by which the Council of Trent gave concrete expressions to the Apostle Paul’s stern warning when it affirmed that, in order to receive the Eucharist in a worthy manner, one must first confess one’s sins when one is aware of mortal sin.”

Let us therefore make every effort to examine ourselves and go for confession, while we are on this earth. Let us not wait to the last minute, for we do not know when death will take us. 

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...