Our Lady, Spiritual Vessel

 

Feels Like Forever. I attended the Novena mass leading up to the Feast of the Church of the Nativity and my family bought some flowers to give thanks to our Lady for the many blessings and to do a thanksgiving because nothing is possible without God’s guidance. As I placed the brightly colored yellow and orange flowers at the feet of our Lady, I felt a sense of peace in looking at all the neatly arranged flowers and stalks of roses, all the prayer intercessions offered to our Lady clearly shows the great devotion and faith that she will lift our prayers up to her son.

“The gospel opens by saying,”Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter,“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples,“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct (Matthew 16:21-27).”

I take everyday at a time, sometimes an hour at a time to get by because sometimes when the going gets tough, it is hard to focus and keep going. Having to suffer internally and to just push forward can be so draining. Suffering is part of life and through the gospel, we see Peter telling Jesus that he can make the choice to not suffer as without him, Peter feels that the spread of the gospel cannot continue without Jesus.

But Jesus points out that Peter’s thinking is that of man’s and not of God. We are called to take up our crosses and to look at the further picture- suffering brings about pockets of hope, happiness and peace. Are we able to think of not how the world wants us to be but of what God wants us to do?

Our Lady, Jesus’s mother, also suffered greatly through being told that she would conceive a Child, Jesus, the Saviour of the world, at such a young age. Mary must have known great responsibility and to have such great faith that God will provide. Even Jesus’s father, Joseph, who had not officially married Mary, must have felt anxious and worried about the Child. But they still accepted all these questions and raised Jesus to the best of their ability. They were prepared to take up the cross and ignore what the world would say and just carry out the will of God with unwavering faith.

I am learning and still trying my best to accept suffering as a daily process of life . Everyday an unspoken and unseen number of people around the world suffers too from so many aspects. Suffering has made me  more patient and tolerant. I just want to say that you are not alone in your suffering and we can pray to our Lady who is our mother, our protector and intercessor who will pray together with us.

May we have the courage and zeal to always have the faith to walk the road less travelled and bear our sufferings with more grace. Amen!

Also, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima which has been blessed by the Pope will be coming to Singapore to commemorate Our Lady’s Centennial Anniversary from 11 to 13 September. We always remember to say the Hail Mary because she always intercedes and comes through for us in sharing our joy and pain.

In closing, this hymn called “I Offer My Life” by Don Moen that is a show of surrender in everything, the best to the worst that he shoulders the cross with us and he makes our burdens light when we get weary. God Bless!

“All that I am, all that I have
I lay them down before You, oh Lord
All my regrets, all my acclaims
The joy and the pain, I’m making them Yours

Lord, I offer my life to You
Everything I’ve been through, use it for Your glory
Lord I offer my days to You
Lifting my praise to You as a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer You my life

Things in the past, things yet unseen
Wishes and dreams that are yet to come true
All of my hopes, all of my plans
My heart and my hands are lifted to You

Lord, I offer my life to You
Everything I’ve been through, use it for Your glory
Lord I offer my days to You
Lifting my praise to You as a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer You my life

What can we give that You have not given?
And what do we have that is not already Yours?
All we possess are these lives we’re living
That’s what we give to You, Lord

Lord, I offer my life to You
Everything I’ve been through, use it for Your glory
Lord I offer my days to You
Lifting my praise to You as a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer You my life

Lord, I offer my life to You
Everything I’ve been through, use it for Your glory
Lord I offer my days to You
Lifting my praise to You as a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer You my life
Lord I offer You my life”

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

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Keys To The Kingdom

 

Raid. Due to the challenging economy outlook, it is difficult to look for a full-time job and it is putting pressure on me to find one. For those that have watched the film, Indiana Jones, the lead character goes in search to find lost treasures and artifacts. Similarly, I have been finding for suitable job openings by going to many portals to apply- a job hunt in the hopes of applying for one. Hopefully, I can find one before the end of the year. I have been praying and trusting that the Lord walks with me and I will find that suitable job in due time.

The gospel begins by saying, “Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples,”Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply,”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

Jesus said to him in reply,”Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20).”

“Who do people say Jesus is?”- This is a poignant question and a personal one as we will need to have a personal relationship with Jesus for us to answer this question. However, Peter was the only one that recognized Jesus for who He really is because he was one of Jesus’s earliest disciples. Peter had been with Jesus since he began his discipleship.

Peter would soon become the first Pope when Jesus told him that he would build the first church and later through sainthood where he would become St Peter. He is depicted as the gatekeeper of heaven and that he is the foundation of the church- the rock where the first teachings of the church began.

Today, the church is made up of a community of people, a family that we can count on and a place of worship. The people contribute to the liveliness and meaning of spreading the modern sense of discipleship and service to the greater community.

I remember my time in Eastern Europe where there were many beautiful churches, but aside from tourists, there were few people in it praying. Many adults have stopped practising and it is sad to see that what is left are these magnificent structures. When we are most lost and uncertain, it is these structures that we can walk back into which will always be there. Like the good shepherd, Jesus always welcomes us back into the fold, no matter how far off we have strayed.

No matter the imperfections or times that they have let Jesus down due to sin or worldly distractions, Jesus still calls His disciples to go out and share the Good News. May we have the courage to stand up for our faith and the teachings of the church, because we are called and chosen to be the modern disciples of Jesus today. In the end, our heavenly reward awaits and may we be ready to receive joyfully the keys to the kingdom when the time comes.

Here is a prayer to ask St Peter to intercede for us when we stumble and are not sure which path to take, where we are going, the decisions that we have to make. May we always surrender to the will of God in having faith that we will see the light and to have a closer relationship with Jesus. God bless as we pray for one another that we are not alone for as a Church, we are a community in this journey together!

“O glorious Saint Peter, who, in return for thy strong and generous faith, thy profound and sincere humility, and thy burning love, wast rewarded by Jesus Christ with singular privileges, and, in particular, with the leadership of the other Apostles and the primacy of the whole Church, of which thou wast made the foundation stone, do thou obtain for us the grace of a lively faith, that shall not fear to profess itself openly, in its entirety and in all of its manifestations, even to the shedding of blood, if occasion should demand it, and to sacrifice of life itself rather than surrender.

Obtain for us likewise, a sincere loyalty to our holy mother, the Church; grant that we may ever remain most closely and sincerely united to the Roman Pontiff, who is the heir of thy faith and of thy authority, the one, true, visible Head of the Catholic Church, that mystic ark outside of which there is no salvation. Grant, moreover, that we may follow, in all humility and meekness, her teaching and her advice, and may be obedient to all her precepts, in order to be able here on earth to enjoy a peace that is sure and undisturbed, and to attain one day in heaven to everlasting happiness. Amen.

V. Pray for us, Saint Peter the Apostle,

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

LET US PRAY.

O God, who hast given unto Thy blessed Apostle Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and the power to bind and loose: grant that we may be delivered, through the help of this intercession, from the slavery of all our sins: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.”

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

O, How Great is Your Faith!

 

A Dry Spell. It took longer than usual to write this post as I have been experiencing a lack of motivation and ideas to write. I have many times wanted to write but I cannot seem to put them into words. Trying to find a full-time job can be tiring and holding onto the hope that maybe it is not the right timing. Since everything happens in God’s time and plan, I trust in You, Lord; and help me quell my fears and give the renewed strength to finish and start on new writing projects.

Last week’s gospel touches on Jesus’s many experiences as He encounters people of great faith amidst their difficult and sometimes hopeless situations. Many are non-believers, but they still hold onto the steadfast trust and faith that there is a higher power capable of helping them.

“At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,”Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,”Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”He said in reply,”I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply,”It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour (Matthew 15:21-28).”

Sometimes, when we pray, we are met with silence, and as there is no response, we think that Jesus is not listening to our requests. However, he is because he answers them in the least expected way that we want, because he knows the best timing to give us our answers.

Recently, I was very bogged down with work and most of the time, I would come home and immediately just hit the sack. Perhaps, indirectly, it was God’s way of telling me to get more rest and leave the writing later- it might be a good thing. A healthy mind and body means I will have the willpower to continue writing later.

God is so patient and compassionate that he never rebukes the woman in the Gospel, but instead heals the daughter who is tormented by unclean spirits. Though a non-believer, Jesus still allows them to be shown mercy and to wipe clean their anguish. Hitting a brick wall might seem like a dead-end, but look at the petition box and there are just so many answered prayer intentions that I feel grateful for both the good and bad things that might happen. We do know that gratitude is so overlooked.

Gratefulness means bearing one’s cross with patience and that is what the woman in the gospel did. She impressed Jesus with her undying faith that Jesus can heal and really no one is turned away at the table of the Lord. He dines with anyone, whether good or bad, for we are all sinners, and all he asks is for an understanding and repentant heart ,and the right disposition.

May we also turn to our loving and beloved Mother Mary to intercede for us as she knows that even though we falter, the prayer that she often pray (the Hail Mary) speaks the truth that she is with us even till the hour of our last breath. Our lady continues to intercede for us that our requests will be granted in due time.

“Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death . Amen.”

I would like to end this post with a hymn “Hosea: Come Back to Me“so that when we feel that we have lost faith and almost everything- we hold firm in the belief that Jesus, Mary and the Saints will guide and lead us to greener pastures and peaceful waters to lay our heads to rest and prepare for the journey ahead! God Bless!

May we continue to pray for each other to have faith that all things happen in God’s time and that He will increase our trust to not falter, but to continue seeking and carrying out His plan of good works. God Bless!

“Come back to me with all your heart
Don’t let fear keep us apart
Trees do bend though straight and tall
So must we to others’ call

Long have I waited for
Your coming home to me
And living deeply our new lives

The wilderness will lead you
To the place where I will speak
Integrity and justice
With tenderness
You shall know.

Long have I waited for
Your coming home to me
And living deeply our new lives

Come back to me with all your heart
Don’t let fear keep us apart

Long have I waited for
Your coming home to me
And living deeply our new lives

Long have I waited for
Your coming home to me
And living deeply our new lives

Come back to me with all your heart
Don’t let fear keep us apart

Long have I waited for
Your coming home to me
And living deeply our new lives

Long have I waited for
Your coming home to me
And living deeply our new lives”

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

To write or not to write

Talk about writing and one gets all worked up

simply because writing does seem more a chore

pleasant though it can be

rather than an exciting enterprise

 one that makes all things joyful 

causing one to think, to smile and to ponder. . .

Why is writing a chore

when you have been gifted

To use your many gifts is no chore

If you can try to see it as one of service     

Lord, Save Me! Save Us!

 

Pushing Through. I am back from my recent university trip to  Bangkok, Thailand, as part of the 8th United Nations Student Leaders’ Symposium. It is also my last major school related activity that I will be participating in as I need to detach myself from my university commitments. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the trip as it was my first trip travelling without my parents and having to be independent.

It was an enriching experience to look at another’s country culture, sights and infrastructure. Despite the huge rich and poor divide in the country which could be seen in the streets as I moved around the city, I could see the determined spirit of the people to make a living- pushing pushcarts around with food and some selling handicrafts in night markets.

Most of all this new found travel experience gave me new friends that I could count on and we bonded nicely during the trip. I did not want the trip to end as I felt relaxed and free. Now, I am back to the daily grind, trying to push through each day to meet society’s expectations. We definitely need to be the change that we want to see in the world.

The gospel reading opens by saying,“After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.

During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply,”Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. 

But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,”Truly, you are the Son of God (Matthew 14:22-33).”

Life has many storms, some mild, while others are huge which could catch us off guard. I can vouch for the storms that stirs the moment I start a brand new day and it can be tiring to go up against them head-on. I am reminded that even if I lose everything, I still have Jesus to count on. He says to each one of us,“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Relying on our own strength is futile because we falter and stumble, and we need Jesus to overcome our struggles and life’s challenges. Like Peter, Jesus provides a teachable moment when he outstretched his arm to save Peter from drowning in the deep waters of the lake. Jesus is with us and only when our faith is ultimately tested that we learn to trust and strengthen our faith, knowing that Jesus is there because he saves.

Walking along the streets of Thailand, I could see that many needed saving, from poverty, hopelessness and a lack of choice. They struggle to get by, but at least they try and that showed me the resilience present in the human spirit. They still try to make the best of their less than ideal situation to get by.

I have much to be thankful and grateful for, but I still hope for a society that has more heart and is willing to give freely and more lovingly to the people around them. A word of affirmation and encouragement could do wonders in lifting the mood of those around us.

This week, I had the privilege to meet a dear old friend and he loaned me a book titled, “The Way of St Francis” by Murray Bodo on The Challenge of Franciscan Spirituality for Everyone. I will be reading through this as I have always felt a strong connection with the Franciscan path of being grateful to nature and God’s creation.

Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon of St. Francis of Assisi

“Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.

To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth who sustains and governs us, producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.

Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.

No second death can do them harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.”

Let us continue to pray for one another and be reassured that Jesus is with us through life’s many storms, and all we have to do is call out to him! God Bless!

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Talk about being vigilant

 

Talk about being vigilant,

I am rather disappointed in some ways.

Why do you say this?

I have been coming to the website hoping to find

a post or two, perhaps an article or more

But it is not to be . . .

We have so many writers

but not everyone writes

and that includes

yours truly

I too am guilty.

This post simply talks about the feelings I have this morning and nothing more

And feelings, people say, are not totally reliable. . .

Still it is good to express myself and thus it gives me a chance to write.

 

Placing Flowers at the Feet of St Anne

 

Spoken & Unspoken Difficulties. It is going to be a long week ahead as I have an important work meeting tomorrow and after that I am heading over to Thailand for a week-long United Nations symposium conference. It is part of my efforts in closing my time as a student and moving out of the school zone. It has proven to be difficult as making use of opportunities does require alot of time management and logistics.

My family and I attended the St Anne’s feast day Novena celebrations as usual every year in praying for our own family intentions and participating in the fares that the feast day offered. It was Spirit-filled as you could see people putting their petitions in the representation of flowers at the feet of St Anne in the main church.

The novena follows 3 nights of prayers and devotion to St Anne in the theme of mercy in loving, caring and forgiveness. Forgiveness is the greatest act of mercy but the most difficult- it means letting go of what the person has done and moving on without bearing any form of vengeance or hatred.

The gospel reading says,”Jesus said to his disciples:”The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it (Matthew 13:44-46).”

The kingdom of heaven cannot be compared to that of the riches of the world. It does not even come close. It boils down to choice; do we choose the material heaven of this world or the eternal heaven that Jesus offers us?

Jesus calls us to forgive, love and care to attain the Kingdom of Heaven as we are created in his likeness. Therefore, we are called to let go and not retaliate, but just carry on with our lives. What matters the most is the treasure that we seek which cannot be bought by money nor material goods; it can only be bought by our sincerity and heart to attain it.

As we pray with St Anne to intercede with us in our petitions, may we also be joined in solidarity in lighting a candle with others in praying for a more peaceful and forgiving world – where restoration and reconciliation are possible, and to reach that heavenly goal together too. God Bless!

I close this post with a prayer to St Anne that despite all our sinful ways-like the prodigal son or the woman who committed adultery, that we may show compassion and love to ourselves and others caught in the stronghold of sin.

“Good St. Anne, you were especially favored by God to be the mother of the most holy Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Savior. By your power with your most pure daughter and with her divine Son, kindly obtain for us the grace and the favor we now seek. Please secure for us also forgiveness of our past sins, the strength to perform faithfully our daily duties and the help we need to persevere in the love of Jesus and Mary. Amen.”

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong