Sunday, 22 August 2021

Quotes and Anecdotes Throughout Ministry (The Story of our Lives so far)

Having been a priest for several years, I have from time to time come up with interesting quotes from different sources. Some of these quotes may seem familiar to some of you, since you may have encountered the persons who uttered them. Other quotes are peculiar to certain parishes or locations I have been. So, what are these quotes I am referring to? Well, here they are, in no particular order:

1.     I recall a professor in College General Penang who once remarked: “You know, when it comes to the religious, they belong to a certain religious order. For example, the Jesuits are known as the Society of Jesus, or SJ in short. The Carmelites are known as OCD, or Order of Carmelites Discalced. Whereas priests who come under a particular Diocese or Archdiocese are known as OOO. Do you know what OOO means?” Many of us cracked our heads trying to figure out what the initials meant. Then the professor said with a smirk: “It means Out of Order. Since Diocesans do not belong to a particular religious order, they are therefore “Out of Order,” Of course, the professor said this as a joke, and in reality, Diocesans do not have any initials after their name.

2.     An "ah pek" (usually meaning an older uncle in Hokkien) saying to some young men at church in a cheeky and questioning tone: "So you come to church to pray or to prey ah?" Naturally, this "ah pek" must have seen some "paktorlogy" attempts going on for quite a bit, which caused him to utter this. “Paktorlogy” here refers to efforts by a man and a woman to date for a certain period, with hopes of eventually leading to a proposal, a wedding and married life. This is where the term “earning a degree in ‘Paktorlogy’” comes from, where such a degree is attained when the marriage materialises.

3.     In a certain gambling institution, which happens to have a chapel, a padre commented: "So aaa... I hope you come to pray first and play later aaa." Apparently, this comment seems to work, since I too used it during my stint there as parish priest, and quite a sizable crowd came to the chapel for Mass, possibly hoping for some blessings so that they would stand a better chance in winning in the gambling games.

4.     Again, in a certain gambling institution which happens to have a chapel near the carpark on the lower floor, whereas the gambling area is at the upper floors, a padre remarked: "Welcome! Here downstairs you are at God's city, upstairs is sin city." This chapel had been in existence from the 1970s and it was a gift from the management for Catholic employees to attend Mass and for other religious activities. Next to the chapel was a Buddhist prayer room next to that was a Pentecostal prayer room. A mosque had also been built at a different location some time back.

5.     A jovial and elderly padre was driving, and I was seated at the passenger seat. Coming upon a big lorry in front of him, he remarked: "Oh oh! We better find a way to overtake this big buffalo, or else we will be stuck." This elderly padre had lots of other jokes and anecdotes up his sleeves, and I enjoyed the many conversations I had with him during my time with him.

6.     A padre who I was accompanying to a rural area for Mass remarked: "When you drive on this road aaa, you need to watch out for long thing, big thing, small thing and hard to see thing." I was puzzled what he meant and asked him. Here was his explanation:

a.     Long thing: snake, iguana, biawak

b.     Big thing: lorries, buffaloes, cows, other large animals or objects

c.      Small thing: people or animals, especially the younger ones that may be at the side of the road or playing near the road.

d.     Hard to see thing: Motorbikes, especially at night, where some motorbikes do not have sufficient lights on or lack enough reflective strips

7.     A monsignor, who is now retired and residing in a famous place which has a name that happens to be the patron saint of tools and carpentry, likes to end a life experience with a remark, “That’s the story of our lives.” And the response to that remark is: “And we’ll drink to that!” He said this in jest, not to take life seriously, and enjoy each other’s company with a glass of wine. Incidentally, the name of the place he is residing is called Sentul, which sounds like “Saint Tool.”

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Japanese "Jam" Anniewan (Anyone)?

Years ago, when I was working in a firm before joining seminary, I was entertaining a client from one of those countries in Eastern Europe (can’t remember exactly which country). Apparently the country the client was from did not have any Japanese restaurants there. A friend owned a Japanese restaurant, and my colleagues and I decided to bring this client to the Japanese restaurant to initiate him (the client was a guy) into Japanese cuisine.

At the restaurant, the client was looking through the menu, and feeling peckish, he asked whether there was some bread, since he saw what appeared to be some “delicious” looking “jam” at the side of the table. I looked at my friend, the restaurant owner, he looked at me, we shrugged and my friend said to me: “Bread? Japanese cuisine where got bread wan?” I told my friend: “Aiyah! Just look for some and give it to him lah”, not knowing initially why on earth he would want some bread for starters, especially in a Japanese restaurant.

The client took the bread, and to our horror, he used a spoon, rubbed some green “jam” onto the bread, and before we could stop him or warn him, he stuffed the bread into his mouth faster than a speeding bullet. Seconds later, a popular song from the Platters, began to unfold in front of us, as smoke got into his eyes 👀 ears 👂 and mouth 👄 and copious amounts of cooling liquid was consumed by the client, in an attempt to extinguish the “flames” 🔥.

Needless to say, not much could be done on that day, as the client needed to excuse himself and rush back to his hotel room to recuperate. Fortunately for us, he was quite a good sport, since he had mistakenly assumed that the green "jam" was harmless and could be relished with delight, only to discover the excruciating truth otherwise. My colleagues and I managed to secure a good contract with the client, and he became known as "wasabi king", having done where few have dared to venture.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Tom Yum on a Train Anniewan (Anyone)?

Many moons ago, my classmates and I took a train from KL to Bangkok for our retreat. When the train reached Padang Besar, which is the border of Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand, the engine and buffet coach were exchanged with their Thai counterpart.

After entering Thailand, my classmates and I decided to go look see (colloquial term for "have a look at") the buffet coach. There, we saw a couple from Suriname 🇸🇷 (a country at the north of South America) looking through the menu. The couple wanted to order tom yum and said to the waiter that they wanted to try tom yum, since the dish seemed foreign to them and they perhaps felt a little adventurous.

The waiter, a Thai, was not so good with English, and asked the couple: “You want tom yum 1... 2... 3... 4... or 5?” The couple thought 1 means lousy and 5 means very good, so they said 5, since they thought they would be getting the best and finest quality. When the tom yum arrived, it was super red, boiling and bubbling red in the pot, and there appeared to be volcanic eruptions. The tom yum seemed to have been transformed into a fiery angry dragon, full of brimstone and other nasty flame-like qualities ready to barbecue the taste-buds of anyone foolhardy enough to attempt a taste.

The couple offered my classmates the tom yum, seeing how scarily potent and vile it looked 👀. Naturally, my classmates politely said no and ordered their own meals instead. Otherwise, if they had attempted to savour such a dish, they would for sure "lau sai" ("keberakan yang tak terhingga", or "cirit birit", or a massive case of defecation in mass quantities, or acute diarrhoea) all the way to Bangkok. 🤔🤭😬 Having to run to the toilet to empty one's bowels every now on then, especially on a bumpy and moving train, would certainly be quite a preventable miserable experience.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Pemerhatian dan Pengalaman Tentang Sakramen Pengurapan Pesakit

Ini adalah isu yang sering berlaku. Berapa umat memaklumkan kepada paderi hanya pada saat-saat terakhir untuk pemberian Sakramen Pengurapan Pesakit. Lebih baiklah jika paderi diberitahu sebelum pesakit masuk hospital atau sebaik sahaja dia masuk hospital. Ada yang rasa, selepas pesakit diurapi, kemungkinan besar dia ‘balik kampung’ atau meninggal dunia; pernah dikenali sebagai “urapan terakhir” atau “extreme unction” – istilah yang digunakan pada masa dulu. Kini, sakramen pengurapan boleh diberi awal-awal lagi dimana kita meminta Allah melindungi pesakit dan menyembuhinya. Tidak bermasaalah jika situasi kecemasan di mana paderi dimaklumkan dan diberi masa yang singkat. Ini tertuju kepada umat yang sedia tahu – pesakit di hospital atau akan dimasukkan ke hospital tetapi mengambil masa yang lama atau hanya memaklumkan kepada paderi pada saat-saat terakhir semasa pesakit dalam keadaan tenat.

Bila paderi, tidak dapat memberi sakramen tersebut sebelum pesakit meninggal dunia, sesetengah orang akan menyalahkan paderi. Paderi dicaci dan ada juga diancam akan dilukakan secara fizikal. Bila maklumkan pada saat-saat terakhir, anda fikir paderi boleh terbang? Situasi ini boleh dielakkan sekiranya umat memaklumkan awal-awal lagi.

Ada pula umat yang menjangka paderi yang bertutur bahasa tertentu untuk memberi sakramen itu. Oleh kerana paderi khusus itu tidak dapat hadir, paderi lain yang mungkin tidak bertutur bahasa tersebut masih boleh memberi sakramen itu. Tetapi ini pula menimbulkan perasaan marah dan tidak senang hati. Pengurapan oleh seorang paderi itu tetap pengurapan, tidak kira bahasa pertuturan paderi itu. Umat harus bersyukur seorang paderi hadir untuk memberi sakramen itu dari berkeras kepala dan menunjukan perasaan marah.

Ada juga umat yang rasa mereka berhak untuk meminta hanya paderi dari paroki sendiri memberi sakramen itu. Kadang-kadang paderi dari paroki sendiri tidak dapat pergi dan paderi dari paroki lain dipesan mewakilinya, dan paderi dari paroki lain itu dapat pergi memberikan sakramen itu. Oleh sebab ini, umat itu naik marah dan menjerit-jerit pula. Sebenarnya, seorang paderi telah dilantik untuk memberi sakramen itu, Kan itu lebih penting – pesakit dapat menerima sakramen pengurapan?

Saya teringat satu situasi dimana, seorang ahli paroki dari kumpulan bahasa tertentu meminta seorang paderi yang dapat bertutur dalam bahasanya untuk pergi memberikan Sakramen Pengurapan kepada ibunya. Paderi yang dapat berbahasa tersebut sibuk pada masa itu. Pada masa itu, saya juga tidak dapat pergi kerana ada hal mendesak. Walaubagaimanapun, saya menghubungi paderi dari paroki lain untuk menolong kami. Paderi tersebut mampu memberi pengurapan untuk ibu tersebut. Tetapi ahli paroki berasa sungguh kecewa kerana kedua-dua paderi dari parokinya tidak dapat memberi sakramen itu sehingga dia berani menulis surat aduan kepada Uskup tentang hal ini. Saya sungguh terkejut dengan sikap ini. Di mana perginya budi bahasa, akal dan kesyukuran?

Mungkin, segelintir dari kita patut lihat diri sendiri dan sikap kita terhadap pemberian sakramen pengurupan pesakit. Jika orang kesayangan kita dapat menerima sakramen pengurapan dari seorang paderi, maka kita patut berterima-kasih dan bersyukur kepada Allah. Mengapa berkelakuan tidak senonoh atau hendak sangat paderi yang dapat bertutur bahasa tertentu, atau lebih mengelirukan, hanya paderi-paderi dari paroki sendiri memberi sakramen itu? Adakah ini bermakna hanya paderi-paderi dari paroki sendiri sahaja halal, manakala paderi-paderi dari paroki lain haram? Tidakkah kita patut hargai keadaan dimana kita dapat seorang paderi untuk menunaikan sakramen itu kepada orang kesayangan kita? Mana lebih penting...sakramen pengurapan yang dilaksanakan oleh paderi atau menunaikan kehendak dan jangkaan paderi tertentu untuk menjalankan sakramen tersebut?


这是经常发生的事情:有些教友在亲人病危时,也就是说在最后一分钟才通知本堂神父, 要求给病人傅油。我希望教友们能体谅神父。假如能在病人入院前或入院后立即通知神父为病人傅油,那不是更好?以前,曾经有些教友认为病人傅油是给病人办理临终仪式,(让病人安然回天国),但是现在的傅油圣事目的是祈求天主保佑及治愈病人,让他们你能早日复原,病好。当然,在紧急时通知神父是情有可原的。然而,一些教友已经知道病人的情况,在入院前或入院后还慢条斯理的不请神父替病人傅油,非等到最后一分钟才通知神父不可。


有些教友只请会讲某种语言的神父去替病人傅油,如果不是他们所要的特定神父,那么他们就不高兴。要知道任何一位神父都有资格替病人傅油而不是本堂神父而已。希望教友们秉着知恩图报的心理,感谢天主,至少有位神父替病人傅油,难道傅油不是更重要吗? 不要无理取闹了。



Thursday, 7 May 2020

Observations Concerning Anointing of the Sick

It is a perpetual issue, where some inform the priests of the parish only at the very last minute for anointing of the sick, instead of informing earlier, if possible prior to the person being hospitalised, or as soon as the person is hospitalised. Perhaps some think that anointing of the sick means the person anointed would quite likely 'balik kampung' (pass away) shortly after anointing; "extreme unction" as what it was once called. But this is no longer the case, as anointing can be given earlier, asking God to care for the person and heal him or her. I can understand if it is an emergency and the priest is informed at such short notice, but I refer to those who know jolly well that their loved one is hospitalised or about to be hospitalised, and they take their own sweet time to inform a priest, or only inform when the loved one is almost about to 'balik kampung.'

When the priest is unable to make it in time, and the person 'balik kampung' (passes away), then some begin to blame the priest for not being there to give the anointing, and the priest is "whacked" or verbally abused, and in some situations, even to the extent of being physically threatened. Hello! Last minute inform, you think the priest can fly? Be realistic and reasonable... inform early instead of informing at your convenience.

Also, some expect a priest of a certain language group to come give anointing, even though the priest is not available at that time, and other priests who may not be able to speak that particular language, could still give the anointing. This has led to anger and ill feelings among some, but what they should realise is that anointing is anointing, regardless of which priest administers it. Instead of stubbornly and vehemently demanding that a priest of a particular language group come, they should be glad and thankful that at least there is a priest to come give the anointing.

Also, some seem to think that they are entitled to having only the priests of the parish come and give anointing. When the priests of the parish are unavailable at that time, and a priest from another parish has been asked to give the anointing, such entitled persons scream and shout and get very angry that the priests of the parish are not able to come in person to give the anointing. The fact is, at least a priest has been arranged to give the anointing. Isn't that what is more important, that the person who is sick receives anointing?

I recall one situation among many, where a particular parishioner of a particular language group, had requested that a priest who could speak that particular language, go anoint the parishioner's mother. The priest who could speak that particular language was not free at that time, and he asked me whether I could go. At that time, I too was tied up with an urgent matter, and I called a priest in a different parish for help. Fortunately, that priest was free and he went to anoint the parishioner's mother. After that, the parishioner was so upset that neither the other priest nor me were free to go anoint the mother, and this parishioner had the audacity and gall to write a nasty letter complaining to the Archbishop about this matter. I was aghast at such attitude, wondering what has become of courtesy, common sense and gratitude.

Perhaps some of us need to look at ourselves and our attitudes towards anointing of the sick. If your loved one has received anointing of the sick from a priest, then you should be thankful and grateful to God. Why become so petty or have a sense of entitlement that a priest of a certain language group must come, or even more baffling, only the priests of the parish must come? Does it mean that only the priests of the parish is halal (permissible or lawful), and other priests are haram (forbidden, illegal or unlawful)? Shouldn't we learn to appreciate that at least a priest has come to anoint your loved one? Which is more important... the anointing received by a priest, or fulfilling one's demands and expectations of having a particular priest come to give the anointing?

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

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 (slang in Malay for likely a cause for one to faint) is the whole matter of BO and MO. In case you do not know what those acronyms are, BO is body odour, and MO is mouth odour. At times, the BO and/or the MO could be quite overwhelming, and some of us may need to look away, not because we do not like the penitent, but because direct inhalement of such "perfume" could result in temporary lost of attention and temporary deprivation of senses.

Sometimes, the cocktail of chemicals emanating from the BO and MO is excruciating, almost similar to traces of malathion, or even similar to the stuff used to fog away mosquitoes, and such "fragrance" could remain in the near-surrounding atmosphere for quite a while, necessitating in temporary interruption of operations, before the next penitent could be beckoned.

Seeing how such interruptions could lead to further delays in attending to many other souls looking to "cuci kolam" ("clean the pool," as what a certain "mother superior" likes to say, referring to confession), I implore such persons affected to have a heart and do something to make such scents a little less obvious. A "scent"-free environment would really help enable the process of reconciliation to be carried out smoothly, for the good of all.

Quotes and Anecdotes Throughout Ministry (The Story of our Lives so far)

Having been a priest for several years, I have from time to time come up with interesting quotes from different sources. Some of these quote...