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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas...very simply...Christ becoming man...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
 (John 1:1, Douay-Rheims)


In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
(John 1:4, Douay-Rheims)

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
(John 1:4, Douay-Rheims)



Here's wishing all pilgrims the world over, that somewhere over the rainbow of God's abundant grace showered upon us this Christmas, we will remember to live our lives more meaningfully and simply...and as pilgrims, always decide to trust Jesus Christ,...choose the divine quiet and sacred silence...against the distracting noise and seduction of the world...and most importantly, persevere in our journey, taking little steps to make a simple difference...simply because Jesus lives through each one of us and this amazing grace from God from the very first Christmas, continue to be radiated out to the world today through all our weaknesses, imperfections and foolishness...Blessed Christmas to all!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Marian "Apparition" or Reminder?...

“It was through the Blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world, and it is also through her that he must reign in the world.” (St Louis de Montfort)
After being away from blogging for such a long while but never losing sight and reflection of my simple journey, today, I share my reflection of a milestone as we cross over to the cosmopolitan town of Subang Jaya, in Malaysia, where the population of Roman Catholics remain a small minority, what seem like a tiny drop in the vast ocean…nevertheless, without this drop, the ocean would be incomplete.

There has been much talk about a supposedly “apparition” of Mary on the window pane of a private healthcare centre; Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC).  Only through the eyes of faith, can one can see the beauty of Our Lady and deep within the heart of faith knows that perhaps the Lord is reminding us and a stern call to the corrupt party of the day to change, or “ubah” as some would be more familiar.  

St Bonaventure asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the way which leads to our Lord…where truth, justice, integrity and humility prevail.

In the holy scriptures, we know that Mary, a young Jewish woman from Nazareth in Galilee, remained hidden during her life, poor and lowly, such that God was pleased to conceal her from nearly every other human creature.  Nevertheless, Mary was chosen by God to become the earthly paradise of Jesus Christ.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church sheds more light that what the Catholic faith believes about the all-holy, Blessed Virgin Mary is truly based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary’s divine motherhood, illumines its faith in Christ.  Mary is the Mother of our Saviour, the Mother of God (in Greek, Theo-tokos)…full of grace and enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role. 

God had initiated the work of mankind’s redemption on the basis of her cooperation.  By virtue of this, Mary becomes the spiritual mother of every human-being…we, thus, becomes her children.

Echoing the words of St Paul that, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has the heart of man understood…” the beauty, the grandeur, the excellence of Mary, who is indeed a miracle of miracles of grace, nature and glory.

“Devotion to you, O Blessed Virgin, is a means of salvation which God gives to those whom he wishes to save.” (St John Damascene)
Amidst much publicity of this “apparition” in an Islamic-majority country, where much of Christian literature, publications and scriptural texts are banned by the ruling party of the day, some still remain positive, brave and hopeful that justice will prevail, whereas others are sceptical and doubtful...easily seduced by money influence.
St. Louis de Montfort also dealt with true and false devotion to Mary.  Speaking of his own era he complained how, “The devil, like a counterfeiter and crafty and experienced deceiver, has already misled and ruined many Christians by means of fraudulent devotions to our Lady.”  Obviously “fraudulent devotions,” also includes the possibility of false apparitions, and if that was true three hundred years ago, then it is even more the case today, especially in the case of Subang Jaya.
He then goes on to make an extremely important point, one which clearly indicates that some modern apparitions must be false: “A counterfeiter usually makes coins only of gold and silver, rarely of other methods, because these latter would not be worth the trouble. Similarly, the devil leaves other devotions alone and counterfeits those mostly directed to Jesus and Mary...because these are to other devotions what gold and silver are to other metals.” 
Yes, fellow pilgrims, the Roman Catholic church continue to possess much treasures and richness of the apostolic faith, in this case, devotion to the Mother of Christ, which many others, if not all, new Christian denominations have conveniently cast or filtered away.  Now, what disciple of Jesus Christ would cast their own mother aside and then call themselves good Christians?  Jesus, himself loved his mother till the very end; even entrusting her to all of us.  To this end, only the Roman Catholic church has been faithful to this...still praying to Mary, the holy mother of God for her intercession for all our needs and the conversion of sinners.
Thus, unless the devil has radically changed his method of operation, which seems unlikely if not impossible, given that his opposition to the divine remains unchanged, then some of the modern alleged apparitions of Mary today may be false.  As is indicated in the section on biblical prophecy and apparitions the devil's usual approach is to copy an authentic prophecy, writing, movement or devotion and: “flood the market” with forgeries, thus sowing confusion and causing problems for the Church.
Thus it is certain that the authentic Marian apparitions have been counterfeited and that in all probability many, if not most, of the modern alleged apparitions are false.  This may seem like an extreme statement, but ultimately, the facts will surely bear it out.
To those simple minded people who have simply been touched and strengthened their faith in Christ by virtue of this Marian “apparition”, it can only be by the grace of God that your hearts be moved and your faith increase.
Make no mistake that St Louis de Montfort has always stressed that, “Christ must be the ultimate end of all devotions.  Jesus, our Saviour, true God and true man must be the ultimate end of all our other devotions; otherwise they would be false and misleading.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end of everything.
“We labour,” says St Paul, “only to make all men perfect in Jesus Christ.”  For in him alone dwell the entire fullness of the divinity and the complete fullness of grace, virtue and perfection. In him alone we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing; he is the only teacher from whom we must learn; the only Lord on whom we should depend; the only Head to whom we should be united and the only model that we should imitate.  He is the only Physician that can heal us; the only Shepherd that can feed us; the only Way that can lead us; the only Truth that we can believe; the only Life that can animate us.
He alone is everything to us and he alone can satisfy all our desires.  We are given no other name under heaven by which we can be saved.  God has laid no other foundation for our salvation, perfection and glory than Jesus.  Every edifice which is not built on that firm rock, is founded upon shifting sands and will certainly fall sooner or later.  Every one of the faithful who is not united to him is like a branch broken from the stem of the vine.  It falls and withers and is fit only to be burnt.
If we live in Jesus and Jesus lives in us, we need not fear damnation.  Neither angels in heaven nor men on earth, nor devils in hell, no creature whatever can harm us, for no creature can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.  Through him, with him and in him, we can do all things and render all honour and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit; we can make ourselves perfect and be for our neighbour a fragrance of eternal life.”
The salvation of the world began through Mary and through her it must be accomplished. As true disciples of Jesus Christ, in union with Mary, our Mother, we will crush the head of Satan with our heel, that is, our humility, and bring victory to Jesus Christ.
For the community in Subang Jaya, as pilgrims through life on a journey back home, simply feel blessed.  Whether or not this “apparition” is true, only your eyes of faith can reveal the truth known only to you.  As we can only call Jesus Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit, so it is with the same Sancte Spiritus that has graciously revealed the same to mere pilgrims in Subang Jaya.
Again, St Louis de Montfort reminds us that no other Catholic devotion calls for more sacrifices for God, none empties us more completely of self and self-love, none keep us more firmly in the grace of God and the grace of God in us.  No other devotion unites us more perfectly and more easily to Jesus.  Finally no devotion gives more glory to God, is more sanctifying for ourselves or more helpful to our neighbour…then our simple devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To the pilgrims at Subang Jaya and this blog…just two simple words… Fiat (yes) and Amen (“So be it”…a simple expression of faith that God will hear and act on the prayer)...
Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Dominus tecum,
benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus.
Sancta Maria mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae.
(to the gifted hands that took these phorographs, may the blessings of the Lord be with you)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Gift of Another Year...of Faith

In the quiet of this dark night, as I reflect on the past year...simply another gift of grace from the Lord, I offer thee Lord, another year of journey, my simple pilgrimage through this noisy world...that I may trust you more, allow you to lead me...that you may continue to walk with me, guide me, carry me, a sinner, when I fall...lead me back, when I am lost...
To the everlasting Father,
And the Son who made us free
And the Spirit, God proceeding
From them Each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.

Most of all, Lord, thank you for giving yourself to me, the ultimate gift...the gift of faith...the gift of the Most Holy Eucharist.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Simply Nostalgic Times...

Something simply nostalgic today...longing for the past...becoming spiritually sentimental...reminiscing the old times on this simple journey through life...we are, after all, mere human beings...yes, we are the world, we are the children...there are choices that we are save lives...  As Quincy Jones pleaded to all these participating artistes..."check your ego at the door"...let's check ours as and everyday...  Only then, we will truly make a better day...for all!  God Bless!


Friday, August 10, 2012

We are Soldiers of Christ...

There is a common tendency today, as it was for me, over the last couple of months, to become distracted and drowned by the noise around us; not noise, in the physical sense, but rather a kind of “noise” that stirs up the peace, harmony and equilibrium of the Spirit...a type of noise that many in the world have too often failed to feel or even recognize; almost accepting this as a secular way of life.

It is a “noise” that is always there waiting to seduce us, to tempt us and to possess disturb us...until we lose focus of the peace and calm which Jesus taught us.  Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, “Anyone who breaks off friendship with Jesus, casting off his “easy yoke”, does not attain liberty, does not become free, but succumbs to other powers.”

The noise of our secular jobs, careers, financial pursuits, desires, wants...the list goes on and on.  As mere human beings, created by a God who loves us, each day becomes a battle against these worldly temptations.  Prophet Isaiah goes further to remind us today...
“Yahweh called me before I was born, from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name.  ...Whoever walks in darkness, and has no light shining for him, let him trust in the name of Yahweh, let him lean on his God.” (Isaiah 49:1, 50:10, Jerusalem Bible)
I have been “SimplyQuiet” for quite a while and although, I myself continue to often read and reflect on this journal, reminding myself of my own thoughts and epiphanies past.  Yet, I have not found the spiritual discipline to reflect, share and put down into words much of my thoughts; mainly because, I have not made time to pause and to deeply reflect on them.

Breezing through life this way, without taking time to pause and reflect on the journey, I am reminded, has left a kind of empty void deep inside; it is a kind of emptiness and loneliness that is not easy to express in words.  Often, many people will simply brush it off...whilst others will realise that this emptiness results from our original belongingness to our loving Creator, who keeps calling us back.

This, as I have come to realise, is because, we are first loved by Him and to Him we all belong, we are the Lord’s and St Augustine could not have put it better when he shared that, “our hearts are restless, till they rest in God.”  Our hearts continue to have a deep burning love and desire for God, for oneness with Him, no matter how distant we have strayed matter how distracted we have become.
Nevertheless, it is heartening to see that, despite my having remained quiet; this simple blog-journal continues to draw pilgrims, by the grace of God, from all over the world.  It is a humbling experience to know that, even though I have not been blogging so frequently, at least my previously shared reflections continues to reach and touch others in ways which only God can do.  I guess this is what people call passive evangelization; no matter how “inactive” I have become.  Truly God is great to use a sinner like use a blog like this...I am truly humbled.
For me, I continue to remain a mere instrument simply at the Lord’s disposal, quietly reflecting on my journey and simply sharing it on the blogosphere whenever He moves me to, whenever He wills me to.

Earlier this month, I stumbled across an old second-hand book by a legendary author, born in 1380 at Kempen, near Dusseldorf; Thomas a Kempis...yes, “The Imitation of Christ”, this version being a translation by Leo Sherley-Price; an influential writing for over 500 years.
Believe it or not, this is one book which I have screened through time and again since my yesterdays of youth but somehow, never ever managed to complete it cover to cover.  Truly written with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the pages or even sentences always overwhelms my being...stirs my soul; reminding me of my mortality, my unworthiness and what a great sinner I have become...allowing myself to be polluted by the noises of the world.

Each page of this simple book glows with the reflected Light from the Holy Scriptures...the Word made flesh.  Writing, journaling or even blogging is so important in order for us to leave a legacy for others.  If not for Thomas obediently writing these down, we would never have been able to savour the beauty and wisdom of ‘The Imitation’.

In fact, Thomas also spent much of his time in the copying of the Scriptures; silence became his good friend, work his companion and prayer his aid.  Of Thomas’ outwardly life, little remains to be told......why today, he would probably have been labelled as an “anti-social”.

Yes, many saints have fallen in love with this book and even more have experienced a sense of nearness to God upon reflection of the spirit-inspired pages within this book; second only to the Bible, as many publishers would testify.

I am hoping that this book will also rejuvenate me spiritually, in ways that will help me better deal and cope with the “noise” of the secular world; to become more aware of my own dependence on God’s love and the empty futility of my journey without the companionship of this one loving God.  In short, to realize, live, love and work as if God is still fact, God must be seen to be genuinely relevant in our lives lived...otherwise, dare we call ourselves Christians?
In the days of old, where there did not exist as many technological gadgets like the photocopier machine, electronics like the laptop computer, communication tools like the new Apple iPhone, iPad, Android Tablets, what-have-you kind of instruments...people’s lives were much simpler then.  In the days of past, people read more, became interested in philosophy; essentially the simple love of wisdom (Philo = love, Sophia = wisdom).  Through this simple habit of reading, spirituality blossom, faith deepens, wisdom nurtured, not to mention, more acute awareness and reliance or dependence on God.
I cannot help but be convinced, through many experiences that there is a higher divine reason for each spiritual book that I stumble across and with each book-encounter, is revealed a hidden message that God would like to reveal to me at certain points of my pilgrimage through life; also for me to share with others.

These days, many people have fallen astray, drowned in their busy careers and personal worldly pursuit of so-called success, self-glorification and accumulation of material wealth.
Someone I know, who has been experiencing a steep rise in career, was recently diagnosed with Stage 3, colon cancer.  Time and again, we receive ‘reminders’ like these to steer us back onto the right path, the narrow path...where many will not or dare not, take.  Often, under such circumstances, our inner worldly voice would echo, “Where is God when you need him most?” or the cries of, “Life just isn’t fair!” resounds.
On the flipside, should not we ask and remind ourselves more often, “where is our gratitude to the God, who made us, blessed us, provided for us and continually love us?”
Although Thomas a Kempis returned to the Father a long time ago, back in 1471, the offspring of his thoughts, through the fruit of this book lives on...guiding us...providing us with the road map to being one with the Father.
It has almost been a year since I returned back to corporate employment.  To be precise, August 15 will be my first anniversary.  Throughout this duration, I have endeavoured to put into practice good Christian values and most important of all, surrendering to God all what I cannot handle as a mere human weakling.  So far, God has not let me down and my journey has found more meaning and richness, providing much opportunity for spiritual reflection, by God’s grace and naturally, choosing to reach out and touch lives in the course of my simple journey through life.

Experiencing the Stations of the Cross, the Way of the Cross, the Via Dolorosa, we are reminded each Lent, coupled with the strength that we can draw from the Passion of Christ is what makes being a Catholic, extremely privilege, special and exclusive.
Catholicism depicts such sacredness, holiness and richness in its Liturgy, the Mass and the Holy Sacraments; a well of strength we can draw upon each time we feel alone, fallen, isolated, unwanted or distracted by noises.  Whenever we seek quietness, simple guidance for a decision, God is there, God will be there.  Across the ages, Catholicism boasts of great authors, writings from the saints and mystics.

The book, “The Imitation of Christ” appropriately reminds us in these excerpts:
“If you knew the whole Bible by heart, and all the teachings of the philosophers, how would this help you without the grace and love of God?”
“It is vanity to give thought of this present life, and to care nothing for the life to come.  It is vanity to love things that so swiftly pass away, and not to hasten onwards to that place where everlasting joy abides.”
“Strive to withdraw your heart from the love of visible things, and direct your affections to things invisible.”
With such spirit-inspired gems on every other sentence, how can one ever finish a book like this?  But then, our God may not wish for us to just complete this book in one sitting, but rather, to slowly chew on the pages, digesting these whilst we reflectively journey through life; and like a mirror, reflecting his light to many others who are sent towards our path.
Until my next posting, God’s blessings to one and all...hope and pray that this simple blog has and will continue to attract more pilgrims of life and reach out and touch your hearts in any small little way, by the grace of God.  We must always remember that we have all been chosen as Soldiers of Christ...the earth, being our battlefield, where victory is dependent on the simple choices we make each day.

Therefore, just be “SimplyQuiet” amidst the more dominant seductive and corrupted noise and subtle temptations of the world.  St Augustine once shared:
“The devil does not sleep, but works hard to make you lose your soul.  Will you then continue to rest when your eternal salvation is at stake?”
Even Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta added:
“The devil tempts us.  His aim is death, not so much you or I: we are nothing.  It is about God, a hatred of God.”

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Experience The Holy Week...

Watch, listen and reflect on the journey of the Passion of Our King with Doug Barry of Radix...  I promise you a life changing experience...I promise you will be touched to the deepest corners of your heart.  Wishing one and all a Blessed and Meaningful Holy Week ahead.

"And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabacthani?  Which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?..." (Douay-Rheims, Mark 15:34)

This cry still echoes in our lives and in our world today...

Friday, February 17, 2012

LENT...Finding Life's Compass...

Not many days from now, on February 22, the holy season of Lent will once again dwell upon us...Ash Wednesday.

The events that preceded the death and resurrection of our dear Lord Jesus Christ will come upon us yet again; the Via Dolorosa...way of the Cross.  It is a season of gratitude.

This is yet another opportunity, graced upon us, to examine our own life, our determine those parts of us that need to we must let go...grudges, fears, laziness, resentments, old habits, etc...a time for us to repent.

It is also a time for each one of us to journey to Jerusalem with Jesus once again; renewing bits of ourselves, peeling away another layer of our human condition.  Each year comes and goes impatient as we all are...the transformation and birth of our true self only takes place in God’s time.  We must patiently and humbly wait for Him...but we must stay awake...we must be sensitive to God’s presence around us...we must learn to listen to His quiet whisper...most of all we must simply place our full trust in Him.

As I begin to jot down the above reflection, my thoughts rushed back to last weekend when I visited a terminally ill colleague.  He has been journeying or rather; crawling through life...battling and hanging on to whatever bits of life that remains in him; with Stage IV nasal cancer...which of late has spread to parts of his both his kidneys seem to be failing him.  His breaths are short and much weight has been lost.  Time seem to stand still...

Yes, cancer is such a cruel disease...created by does not does not warn the victim.  Cancer brings so much silent pain for the parent and family, but even much more hopelessness for the innocent victim.  Does God punish us?  How can one find faith and hope under such circumstances?

The seconds become minutes, the minutes spill into hours, the hours into days, days turn into weeks, into months, into years...into eternity...  What simple words of comfort does one offer such a friend?  The journey towards Golgotha seem endless...

Encouragement, strength, courage, a touch, a hug, a smile...most of all one’s humble presence...only the sacred silence where both human spirit simply and quietly reach out to bond as one creation... through Him, with Him, in Him but ever most of all, loved and cherished by matter how far we have drifted or turned away, no matter how broken our bodies have become...God will always love you!

My dear friend would surely swap his condition, just lying on the hospital bed, waiting...for the good health that most of us able-bodied take for granted day in and day out.  Through our daily actions and worldly pursuits, we display absolutely no gratitude for life...for God!

Such is the hopelessness and regret that is felt when one’s time on earth is almost up...when one’s breath enters into sudden death...not knowing the hour that is to come.  Soon the tiredness will be put to rest.

For most of us, who are truly “alive”, do we actually realize and cherish life as a gift? Are we conscious of our “alive-ness”?

Or, are we simply more distracted by how this “gift of life” is packaged?  Whether we have this or that, whether we are born into a rich and wealthy family, so many whether and what ifs.

The more that we come to the realization (and this is not simple) that life is freely gifted from God, the more our life will be a life of faith and spirituality; a life where we come to know God, where we journey in relationship with Him...where God becomes real in our lives.

As truly simple pilgrims through this life, the meaning of our short pilgrimage on earth must not depend on reaching any particular destination, accumulating a certain level of material wealth or striving to achieve any worldly goal...the world label this as success.

Very simply, it should instead depend on our humbleness, simplicity, openness, faithfulness, hope and trust...that God knows the way far better than we do – He will lead us, if we just let Him.  He will love us, if only we allow Him.

However, as prideful as we all are, in our entire majestic ego, we become impatient, restless, we seize control, we want control, we want worldly assurance...we want to become powerful in the eyes of the world.  In the course of this mad obsession, we put layers after layers upon us, until we lose our simple identity; we forget our humble roots, becoming deaf to the call to discipleship, blind to others, mute to sharing the goodness of God, losing our sense of direction...becoming out-of-touch with God.

This Lent, we must come back to the Gospel...diligently journey the Via Dolorosa with Jesus...He will surely give us hope, He will bring us home.  Trust Him with your entire life.  This is the best investment one can make...with guaranteed returns!

Hope does not pretend that everything will be alright.  Hope simply means knowing that Jesus will sustain us and walk with our faithful companion.  As I mentioned to someone recently, my simple view is that “God is good ALL the time.”

It is almost certainly the selfish acts of mankind, with its egoistic human condition, that causes chaos all around and subsequently, having to face drastic consequences of such actions...both from the past, but most of the time, changing the course of many generations into the future.

As I reflect on the Apostolic Letter entitled, “Motu Proprio Data” of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI for the indiction of the Year of Faith which is due to begin on October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013, I am reminded that the “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for each one of us.

“We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the Word of God faithfully handed down by the Church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples.”

The life of Christians, as pointed out in this simple Apostolic Letter, knows the experience of joy as well as the experience of suffering.

“This is a great joy to you, even though for a short time yet you must bear all sorts of trials; so that the worth of your faith, more valuable than gold, which is perishable even if it has been tested by fire, may be proved - to your praise and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  You have not seen him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him you believe in him and so are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described; and you are sure of the goal of your faith, that is, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6-9, New Jerusalem Bible)

This short papal letter moves on to remind each one of us that what the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people, like you and me, enlightened in both mind and heart by the Word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life...a life without end...a life that is journeyed with the hope of the resurrection...a journey travelled with Jesus as an Easter people.

As such, the trials of this short and finite life, while helping us to understand the mystery of the Cross and to participate in the sufferings of Christ, are a prelude to the joy and hope to which simple faith ultimately leads to.

Next week, beginning Ash Wednesday, onwards into the coming holy season of Lent, let us commit, discipline and entrust ourselves to the Lord Jesus, who is and will always walk beside us as our faithful Companion, as He always knows what we need and most of all, what is best for us.

Wishing one and all across the world, a holy and healing season of Lent, coupled with a meaningful Via Dolorosa with Jesus...towards the door of faith...  May the hands of the Lord touch your hearts in a way that will move you ever closer to Him.  Amen.