It has been a long time since I ever wrote something for this blog. It has been a year since I enlisted into National Service and dropped everything: this blog, my hobbies and even my faith in the Lord. A Whole Year away from the community, the loving family of the house of God, away from the friends that used to keep me in check morally and who had counselled me. A lapsed christian I had become, the thing and type of person I feared turning into. Elizabeth and Josephine were right; once you took a “break” from church, you broke apart entirely.
I remember writing that my father and brother were lapsed Christians; now the table has really turned around, at least for my father. My father has come back to join the community. Praise the Lord! Me? I broke apart from church, rather believing that though there is a God, things would still happen for a reason. I believed that words, words from men were not 100% in truth, even if he was a Priest of the Lord. After all, there is that slight imperfection in humans, that no one can be totally perfect or totally holy. The only words that are to be believed in full are the words that come from the mouth of the Lord. I guess that was one of the reasons why I decided to go out and admire the goodness and grace of the Lord of all things that are good outside. Or it could be that due to my own bias I would state that as an excuse although in fact I was completely overtaken by sloth. Right now, I am attempting to take baby steps into returning home while fighting against my own procrastination.
As I have written earlier, I am currently serving National Service, enlisted in the Army for 2 Years. I have ten months till my Operationally Ready Date in April next year, when I will be discharged after completing that tiresome though vital two years. National Service has been helpful in my character development, and unexpectedly growing in my faith even though I did not practice it that much during this period. My excuse is that I was tired and always focusing on the ‘now’ that I dropped everything and stopped going to the church. In the first phase of NS, Basic Military Exercise, they switch your Pink Identification Card with a Military green coloured one and switch your crucifix with an ID tag that you wear over your neck.
Still during this one Year, I met several like-minded individuals whom I had the honour of talking about the faith. Two protestants, one Catholic and a person who was agnostic but had felt the Lord’s grace. Let me tell you, friends, if the Christians from our sister churches can openly spread the Word of the Lord, why can’t we Catholics, we who pride ourselves as the Original first church do the same? In BMT, I had a section-mate named Alan who was a Protestant who preached about the faith to our entire section and chided me for not taking the faith seriously. Then after my Passing Out Parade, I was posted to a prestigious unit that I didn’t expect to be in – the Singapore Armed Forces Commandos, as a clerk.
In the Unit phase of NS (so far), I met another Protestant, Darren, who goes to City Harvest Church, a megachurch in Singapore. He talked everyday non-stop about the grace of the Lord and even could recite verses from the Bible, that at times I found it annoying as I had enough of theology and debate of what God truly is for one day. But I found it encouraging that there was still hope, that even away from church, I met other people, and even though they were from other denominations of Christianity, they did help me back on the path of faith.
Speaking about what God truly is, Father Ben used to say: search slowly, pray, meditate with the Rosary and read the Gospel and like flowers blooming, you shall discover the beauty of Christ.
And so it comes down to my true to the faith Catholic friend, Matthew. I just realised he was named after St Matthew. I figure that Matt was the ordinary Sunday Catholic. But hey, at least he turned up every weekend for Mass, attended the important masses such as Christmas Eve and Easter and the Obligatory Masses. I didn’t turn up for any, not even Christmas or Easter. When I talked to him about the faith and told him I was skipping weekend masses, he chided me. He said that attending Mass on Sunday is Obligatory, even for a Catholic of little faith. It has been tradition since the beginning of time, that the Sabbath is the day that you take a break from everything (even video games) and devote the day to the Lord. My excuse would have been that Life now is not as easy as Life was 1000 or 2000 years ago. The Christians were forever the target of the Romans and the other societies, and where they lived, they hated them until Christianity was finally accepted into society. It was then sealed when my patron saint, Constantine the Great signed the Edict of Milan. Sure, they were doing simpler chores like farming rather studying their brains out pursuing Diplomas and Degrees. They had their own risks, even after the age of martyrs had ended. Outbreak of Wars, the Crusades and when the Church had grown too powerful and some false prophets were accidentally ‘chosen’ by the Papal Conclave to be Leaders of the entire Church.
And yes, not forgetting my agnostic friend, Wesley. He shared about a time when he was really sad and angry and he was thinking of doing some terrible things. He felt calm all of a sudden, in that moment of sadness and anger. He then felt really better. Wes – he is quite a unique guy. He was brought up as a Buddhist, but he did not practise it in the end. He had gone to both Churches and Mosques, discovering the different faiths, trying to figure out something to believe in. It was at church he learnt about the grace of the Lord. That was at that moment, he figured that ‘calm moment’ as the grace of our Lord God. Yes, indeed the grace of our Lord is plentiful and immeasurable. But let us not take his grace for granted, Brothers and Sisters.
Eugene had always said that he was also a lapsed Catholic and that during his time in National Service, he grew deeply in Faith. Now I guess I could say the same too.
Yes, the journey outside has been a very interesting one allowing me to also grow in faith and learning how to face the obstacles that block one from growing in faith and morality. Life is full of highs and lows. The World is a decrepit shell of its former self, but remains of the beautiful Garden of Eden remains. Nature still blooms while the World advances forward every day. You will meet nasty people, ungrateful individuals, back-stabbing opportunitists, and facing workplace politics if you are working. However you will meet good people, helpful individuals, and colleagues who believe in working together.
I yearn to be back in the House of God, in the Great Hall of the Feast. Pray for me brothers and sisters & for lapsed Christians just like myself. Pray for your friends, your family and even your enemies. And pray for the hope that this world and all of its problems will be aided by the One Who is Holy, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.