Jesus answered: ‘Will you lay down your life for me?’ - John 13:38

Support the Holy Father and pray with him!

"Young people in particular, I appeal to you: bear witness to your faith through the digital world!"

-Pope Benedict XVI

Pray for Pope Benedict's prayer intentions for this month. Find out more here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

O God, thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small

The above was a plaque that US President John F Kennedy had on his desk in the White House.

Here's the entire poem, by an unknown author:

Thy sea, O God, so great,
My boat so small,
It cannot be that any happy fate,
Will me befall,
Save as Thy goodness opens paths for me,
Through the consuming vastness of the sea.

Thy winds, O God, so strong,
So slight my sail.
How could I cub and bit them on the long
and salty trail,
Unless Thy love were mightier than the wrath
Of all the tempests that beset my path?

Thy world, O God, so fierce,
And I so frail.
Yet, though its arrows threaten oft to pierce
My fragile mail,
Cities of refuge rise where dangers cease,
Sweet silences abound, and all is peace.

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"Storm at the Sea of Galilee"- Rembrandt

The Year of St Paul

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On the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul

It's a glorious feast day today. And the Church always gifts us with beautiful and profound words to contemplate in the liturgy. Here's what we have for today's Preface:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks.

You fill our hearts with joy
as we honor your great apostles:
Peter, our leader in the faith,
and Paul, its fearless preacher.

Peter raised up the Church
from the faithful flock of Israel.
Paul brought your call to the nations,
and became the teacher of the world.
Each in his chosen way gathered into unity
the one family of Christ.
Both shared a martyr's death
and are praised throughout the world.

Now, with the apostles and all the angels and saints,
we praise you for ever.

Also, here are two responsories I came across:


Seek ye a patron to defend -
Your cause? - then, one and all,
Without delay upon the Prince
Of the Apostles call.

Blest holder of the heavenly keys,
Thy prayers we all implore
Unlock to us the sacred bars
Of heaven’s eternal door.

By penitential tears thou didst
The path of life regain;
Teach us with thee to weep our sins,
And wash away their stain.

Blest holder, &c.

The angel touch’d thee, and forthwith
Thy chains from off thee fell;
O, loose us from the subtle coils
That bind us fast to hell.

Blest holder, &c.

Firm rock whereon the Church is based,
Pillar that cannot bend,
With strength endue us; and the faith
From heresy defend.

Blest holder, &c.

Save Rome, which from the days of old
Thy blood hath sanctified;
And help the nations of the earth
That in thy help confide.

Blest holder, &c.

O, worshipped by all Christendom,
Her realms in peace maintain;
Let no contagion sap her strength,
No discord rend in twain.

Blest holder, &c.

The weapons which our ancient foe
Against us doth prepare,
Crush thou; nor suffer us to fall
Into his deadly snare.

Blest holder, &c.

Grant us through life; and in that hour
When our last fight draws nigh,
O’er death, o’er hell, o’er Satan’s power,
Gain us the victory.

Blest holder, &c.

All glory to the Father be;
Praise to the Son sin who rose;
Praise to the Spirit Paraclete;
While age on ages flows.

Blest holder, &c.

Glory be to the Father, &c.

Blest holder, &c.

Ant. Thou art the shepherd of the sheep, Prince of the Apostles; to thee were given the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

V. Thou art Peter.
R. And upon this rock will I build My Church.

Let us pray.
O Lord, we beseech Thee, raise us up by the Apostolic might of Blessed Peter Thine Apostle; that the weaker we are in ourselves, the more powerful may be the assistance whereby we are strengthened through his intercession; that thus, ever fortified by the protection of Thine Apostle, we may neither yield to sin, nor be overwhelmed by adversity. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Tears of St Peter - by El Greco


All ye who groan beneath
A load of ills oppress’d,
Entreat St. Paul, and he will pray
The Lord to give you rest.

O victim, dear to Heaven
O Paul, thou teacher true
Thou love and joy of Christendom,
To thee for help we sue.

Pierced by the flame of love,
Descending from on high
Twas thine to preach the faith which once
Thou soughtest to destroy.

O victim, &c.

Nor toil, nor threaten’d death,
Nor tempest, scourge, or chain,
Could from th’ assembly of the saints
Thy loving heart detain.

O victim, &c.

O, by that quenchless love
Which burnt in thee of yore,
Take pity on our miseries,
Our fainting hope restore.

O victim, &c.

True champion of the Lord,
Crush thou the schemes of hell;
And with adoring multitudes
The sacred temples fill.

O victim, &c.

Through thy prevailing prayer,
May charity abound
Sweet charity, which knows no ill,
Which nothing can confound.

O victim, &c.

To earth’s remotest shores
May one same faith extend;
And thy epistles through all climes
Their blessed perfume send.

O victim, &c.

Grant us the will and power
To serve Thee, God of might;
Lest, wav’ring still and unprepar’d,
We sink in depths of night.

O victim, &c.

Praise to the Father be;
Praise to the Son who rose
Praise to the Spirit Paraclete;
While age on ages flows.

O victim, &c.

Glory be to the Father, &c.

O victim, &c.

Ant. This is My vessel of election, to carry My Name among the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.

V. Pray for us, O blessed Apostle Paul.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
Almighty and Eternal God, who in Thy divine compassion didst direct Thy blessed Apostle Paul what to do that He might be filled with Thy Holy Spirit; grant that we may be so counselled by his teaching, and aided by the suffrage of his merits, that, serving Thee in fear and trembling, we may be filled with the consolation of Thy heavenly gifts. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
St Paul - by El Greco

Solemn Blessing:
The Lord has set you firm within his Church,
which he built upon the rock of Peter's faith.
May he bless you with a faith that never wavers. Amen.

The Lord has given you knowledge of the faith
through the labors and preaching of Saint Paul.
May his example inspire you to lead others to Christ
by the manner of your life. Amen.

May the keys of Peter, and the words of Paul,
their undying witness and their prayers,
lead you to the joy of that eternal home
which Peter gained by his cross, and Paul by the sword. Amen.

"St. Peter, as prince of the apostles, is pre-eminently the patron for an apostolic organisation. He was the first Pope, but stands for all the illustrious line of Pontiffs, and for the present Holy Father. In invoking St. Peter, we express once again a Legion's loyalty to Rome, the centre of our faith, the source of authority, discipline, unity." (Decision of the Legion placing St. Peter's name in the list of invocations.)
The feast of Saints Peter and Paul occurs on 29 June.

"And I tell you, you are Peter,
and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Mt 16:18-19)


A soul that is to win others must be great and wide as the ocean. To convert the world, one's soul must be greater than the world. Such was St. Paul from the day when a sudden light from heaven shone round about him, and threw its radiance into his soul, and enkindled therein the burning desire to fill the world with the Name and Faith of Christ. The Apostle of the Gentiles - his work is his name. Untiringly he laboured till the sword of the executioner sent his indomitable spirit to God, and then his writings lived on, and ever will live, to continue his mission.
It is the way of the Church ever to join him with St. Peter in its prayer, which is praise indeed. It is fitting, too, for together these two great ones consecrated Rome by their martyrdom.
The Church celebrates their feast on the same day.

"With far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death. Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked." (2 Cor 11:23-27)
~ Legion Hanbook, p144-5
Have a blessed feast!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

St Paul: Allocutio by Brother Paul- 25 June 2008

Who was St Paul? He is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles. His work is his name: he was the spiritual father of the gentile Christians - and that includes every one of us. And so we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

It is interesting to note that St Paul is the patron saint of the lay apostolate. Let us examine why this is so.
He was a tent-maker. He did not abandon this livelihood after his conversion to Christianity. Along with his vocation as an Apostle, he was also a worker who earned his living. In Corinthians, he states this fact very clearly and very proudly: that though he had the right to material support from the churches he founded, he does not accept such support.

He thus identifies himself with the life of the layman and with his daily toil to earn a living. In fact, he instructs the faithful to work hard to earn their bread and he orders that those believers who (in anticipation of the imminent second coming of Jesus) consider work futile, not be given food. St Paul thus teaches us the value of honest work.

Also St Paul was not exclusive in his dealings and habits:
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
~ 1 Corinthians 20-23
And thus as the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul approaches, let us look to these, our great generals, for inspiration. Let their zeal for souls and their love for God be examples for us to emulate in our Legionary lives.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ad Jesum per Mariam

The name of this blog is Totus Tuus, which means ‘I’m all yours’ in latin. Every year around the 25th of March, we legionaries all around the world would gather together to renew our consecration to our Queen and Mother. This event is known to us legionaries as Acies which is another latin term, meaning ‘as it does an army ranged in battle array.’ (Functions, The Acies, Chapter 30, p.173)

‘The Acies is the great central annual function of the Legion, so that it is necessary to stress the importance of attendance on the part of every member. The essential idea of the Legion, upon which all else is built, is that of working in union with and in dependence on Mary, its Queen. The Acies is the solemn expression of that union and dependence, the renewal - individual and collective - of the legionaries declaration fealty.’ (Functions, The Acies, Chapter 30, p.173)

In the Acies, we line up singly (or in pairs when the numbers are great) and approached the Vexillium (a larger version). Upon placing our right hand on it, we recite our consecration: I’m all yours, my Queen, my Mother, and all that I have is yours. This act of consecration is greatly influenced by De Monfort’s spirituality – Ad Jesum per Mariam (To Jesus through Mary). This is also the motto of the Servant of God, Great Pope John Paul II. The handbook says that ‘working in union with and in dependence of Mary’ is what the legionary work is built upon. These may sound really scary to a number of the faithful, but St. Josemaria (founder of Opus Dei) had these to say:

‘Our relationship with our own mother may show us how to deal with Mary, the Lady of the Sweet Name. We have to love God with the same heart with which we love our parents, our brothers and sisters, the other members of our family, our friends. And we must love Mary with the same heart, too.’ (excerpt of a homily given 4 May 1957, and reprint in Christ is Passing By, nos. 142-145.)

He added further:

‘Those who think that devotions to our Lady are a thing of the past seem to have lost sight of the deep Christian meaning that they contain. They seem to have forgotten the source from which they spring: faith in God the Father’s saving will; love for God the son who really became man and was born of a woman; trust in God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us with his grace. It is God who has give us Mary, and we have no right to reject her. We should go to her with a son’s love and joy.’ (excerpt of a homily given 4 May 1957, and reprint in Christ is Passing By, nos. 142-145.)

Therefore we legionaries and other faithful should go confidently, with best of our effort, to unite ourselves to her. Remembering our Legion Promise:

‘So that I with her, his Mother, may bring him to the world and to the souls that need him. So that they and I, the battle won, may reign with her for ever in the glory of the Blessed Trinity.”

‘And keeps our line as on we march with Mary, To work your will, to operate your miracles of grace, Which will renew the face of the earth, And established your reign, Most Holy Spirit over all. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.’ (The Legionary Promise, Chapter 15, p. 90-92.)

The first pope to forgive sins?

By Sean M. Wright

Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood has excellent acoustics. I know this only too well.

June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, falls on Sunday. By a trick of the calendar, exactly 50 years earlier, June 29, 1958, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul was also celebrated a Sunday and, because of its high ranking, the feast superseded the Mass of the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost.

That Sunday morning, at the 9 o'clock Children's Mass, Yours Humbly, a third grade student at Immaculate Heart of Mary School, all of eight years old, was listening to the Epistle and Gospel delivered by crotchety old Father John O'Donnell.

Short and feisty, his bald head circled with snowy white, puffball-hair, Father O'Donnell, the very Irish pastor of Immaculate Heart looked benign. It was a sham. We shunned his confessional because he'd ask if we had a rosary handy. It always turned out to be the penance.

Following the reading of the Gospel ("Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church"), Father O'Donnell made announcements that always ended with recitation of the Hail Mary "for those who have died in the service of our country." A long list of names of the honored dead from the parish stood at the foot of the statue of the Sacred Heart for all to see.

Warmed up for the main event, Father O'Donnell began his sermon. At the Children's Mass this took the form of quizzing the students gathered in the front pews. Father O'Donnell fixed his blue eyes on us and leaned forward, his arm resting on the rim of the dark oak pulpit.
"Who was the first pope to forgive sins?"

There is a rather neat symmetry to the question. Well, I'd made my first Communion. I was no dummy; I had listened to the Gospel about who had been given the keys of the kingdom. The answer, of course, was St. Peter. My arm shot up.

Father O'Donnell called on me. I stood. Little did I realize I was taking the bait in a fowler's trap set for the unwary.

On top of that, I misspoke and confused the name of the Prince of the Apostles. So, instead of answering "St. Peter" as I had intended my eight-year-old voice rang out loud and clear, enhanced by the lovely parish acoustics: "St Patrick, Father."

As the words fell from my lips, I knew I was undone.

For those of you used to applauding and chatting in Catholic churches, I should explain that no one in America ever thought of intentionally making noise in church in the 1950s. Parishioners never spoke aloud in church. For sure, no one ever clapped and, even more certainly, people never laughed aloud in a Catholic church for fear of losing their immortal souls.

But on this day, the parishioners' side-splitting laughter erupted with a spontaneous hilarity that was thunderous and prolonged.

Father O'Donnell, with superb timing, allowed the mirth to subside before answering in his thick brogue, "Well, I won't say you're right … but I won't say you're wrong."

More merriment. My face was ten shades of scarlet.

A fifth grade boy gave the right answer: No pope ever forgave sin, only God can forgive sin. Father O'Donnell nodded, emphasizing, "No priest, no bishop, no pope ever forgave one single solitary sin. Acting for Jesus, we grant absolution in His Name but only God can forgive sins."

Eh? What's that? I thought. O Lord, that's right. I was doubly undone and thoroughly mortified. Other questions were asked, other answers given; the rest is a blur. My mother understood my embarrassment and hugged me close as I rejoined her at the conclusion of Mass.

The incident passed into family legend, becoming one of my father's favorite recitatives. A member of the choir, descending from the loft he found Father O'Donnell and apologized for my being "fresh."

"No, no, no," the pastor told him. "Don't you worry about your son. He gave me an opportunity I'll never have again in a t'ousand years!"

In the schoolyard the next week he spoke to me kindly. I tried to explain the mix-up with the names Peter and Patrick. Father O'Donnell said that he understood adding, "Don't ever be afraid to speak up. If you're wrong, I'll set you straight. If you're right, so much the better. Either way, one of us will learn something."

Looking back at the joys given me by my own son, DeForeest, now 18 and away in college, I certainly understand. No wonder Jesus loved children so much. Parents, pastors, teachers --- enjoy the children entrusted to your care. Cherish their mistakes as much as their achievements. We all will learn something.

Sean M. Wright, a lector at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Santa Clarita, conducts workshops, enrichment classes and missions on sacred symbolic art and other Catholic topics throughout the archdiocese.

The Holy Father on lay evangelizers

"Through the testimony of their Christian life, they can carry to all sectors of society the light of Christ's message, attracting to the ecclesial community those whose faith has been weakened....Therefore, the lay faithful need to intensify their relationship with God and acquire a solid formation, especially in regard to the social doctrine of the Church....Thus, as leaven in the dough, they will be able to fulfill their mission to transform society according to the will of God."

~Pope Benedict to the bishops of Honduras

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Transforming the world from within

Fr Joe Lopez quoted this passage from Pope John Paul II during his homily at St Josemaria Escriva's feast today. I think it applies to us Legionaries too. :)

To elevate the world to God and transform it from within: this is the ideal the holy founder points out to you, dear brothers and sisters, who rejoice today to see him raised to the glory of the altars. He continues to remind you of the need not to let yourselves be frightened by a materialist culture that threatens to dissolve the genuine identity of Christ's disciples. He liked to repeat forcefully that the Christian faith is opposed to conformism and interior inertia.

Following in his footsteps, spread in society the consciousness that we are all called to holiness whatever our race, class, society or age. In the first place, struggle to be saints yourselves, cultivating an evangelical style of humility and service, abandonment to Providence and of constant listening to the voice of the Spirit. In this way, you will be the "salt of the earth" (cf. Mt 5,13) and "your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (ibid., 5,16).

Those who want to serve the cause of the Gospel faithfully will certainly encounter misunderstandings and difficulties. The Lord purifies and shapes all those he calls to follow him with the mysterious power of the Cross; but "in the Cross," the new saint repeated, "we find light, peace and joy: Lux in Cruce, requies in Cruce, gaudium in Cruce!"
- Pope John Paul II, homily at the Mass of Canonization of St Josemaria

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In Union With Mary

This is the phrase that attracts me to the Legion of Mary ‘in union with Mary’

I remember clearly how hesitate I was when I was about joining the Legion of Mary. Reading this third point of the Standing Instruction,
“Third, the performance of a substantial active legionary work, in the spirit of faith..”

and later on, this sentence when I took my Promise,
“I take my place in the ranks of the Legion, and I venture to promise a faithful service”
made me feel afraid. Who am I to promise that kind of ‘substantial’ and ‘faithful’ legionary work? How if after I join then I can’t do the work?

But, reading the continuation part of the third point of the Standing Instruction, comforts me…
“…..and in union with Mary, in such fashion that in those worked for and in one's fellow-members, the Person of our Lord is once again seen and served by Mary, his Mother;”

and it still is one of the most beautiful spirit that I find in the Legion,
“….in union with Mary”

The Handbook also says that it is indispensable spirit of the Legion. Here is one sentence from our Legionary Promise that we address to the Holy Spirit,
“And I realise that the secret of a perfect legionary serviceConsists in a complete union with her who is so completely united to you.”

In union with Mary is how we as legionaries should do our works, services, and furthermore live our life. She is the one who knows how to serve our Lord best, and She has no other desire in Her life other than to please and serve her Son. I find it is the beauty of the legionary service, to see others as Mary sees Christ and to serve others as Mary serves Christ, with the same love which our Lady has for Christ.

Somehow I also find it not easy in the same time.

To be in union with Mary means to do everything also with the same humility and purity of intention as She does. There are times when I do question myself if all I do is only for God’s glory, or for my own pride and purposes. ‘In union with Mary’ also means to do our Legionary services with the same intensity of love, courage, and faithfulness as She does. Most of the times, it is easier to serve the ones we love or like than to serve those we don’t. It is easier to serve when we have more time and comfortable situation than we don’t. But for Mary, it still is to be done with the same Love, for it is done for the same Christ.

On the other hand, I’m glad (and thank God) that Mary is also our Mother. She knows what Her children need. Just as we know that if our mothers want us to do something good, it is absolutely not a wrong thing, even it is a ‘have to do’ thing, to ask her help, to teach us how.

‘In union with Mary’, as Her children, to whom we have pledged ourselves, we are to be daring to ask Her help (in fact, we are to ask Her help since we are in union with her) in our services, to let Her – together with the most Holy Spirit, with whom she works in inseparable union – perfect our imperfections.

And yes! actually we need not to fear if it seems that we are alone in doing our Legionary works since She will always be there to accompany us and unite us with the countless hearts in who love Christ.

Here is a quote in the Handbook at the end of the Standing Instruction:

"Through me, Mary desires to love Jesus too in the hearts of all those whom I can kindle with love as the result of my apostolate and my perpetual prayers. If I wholly identify myself with her, she will so flood me with her graces and with her love that I shall come to resemble an over-brimming stream, that in its turn will flood the souls of others. Because of me, Mary will be enabled to love Jesus and to fill him with joy, not only through my own heart but also through the countless hearts that are united with mine."
(De Jaegher: The Virtue of Trust)

After all, we are all just instruments. She can perfect us and teach us how only if we let Her to do so, humility..

“But there can be no union with Mary without some likeness to her, and there can be little likeness to her in default of her special virtue of humility. If union with Mary is the indispensable condition - the root, so to speak, of all legionary action, then the soil on which these roots depend is humility. If that soil is deficient, the legionary life will wither.”
(From the Chapter of ‘The Duty of Legionaries toward Mary’ point 2)

So, what a privilege for us, not to be just the imitation with Mary, but also to be in union with Her always, in Her army, as Her children, as a family!

"With Mary live joyfully, with Mary bear all your trials, with Mary labour, with Mary pray, with Mary take your recreation, with Mary take your repose. With Mary seek Jesus; in your arms bear Jesus and with Jesus and Mary fix your dwelling at Nazareth. With Mary go to Jerusalem, remain near the Cross of Jesus, bury yourself with Jesus. With Jesus and Mary rise again, with Jesus and Mary mount to Heaven, with Jesus and Mary live and die." (Thomas à Kempis: Sermon to Novices)

Ps: sorry for no page number of the Handbook attached for I use the online version :P. But basicly it comes from the Standing Instruction point 3

The Standard of Legionary Service

The Handbook speaks about martyrdom - the total giving of one's life, just as the Lord laid down his life for us. Today, martyrdom is not likely to involve being stoned to death or being thrown into a lion's den. We face a different kind of martyrdom when we face the world as Legionaries - ridicule, rejection, prejudice, criticism, failure. Legionaries must learn to be brave and courageous, always pushing forward without fear. At the same time, we need to be "comfortable" outside our comfort zones - to be ready to face new challenges, thrive in difficult circumstances, and take on new responsibilities - all in the name of our Lord.

Speaking of "comfort zones",I realized how much I had been living within my comfort zone of *good* (i.e. viceless, responsible, mostly Catholic) friends when I was invited to a friend's birthday party last week. Upon entering their house, I was face to face with a catered bar complete with bartenders who never ran out of potent cocktails, a living room turned "den of vices", boisterous laughter from smokers and hard drinkers barely out of school, stories of former classmates getting pregnant/married. It was impossible to refuse drinks, with the host even personally insisting that I try out the so-called "flamer" - a shot of vodka set aflame in your mouth. I have to admit, it was an eye-opener for me to be exposed to the subterranean youth culture for the first time that night. But this is reality - most young people succumb to materialism and vices, and there is a need for us to bring God back into their lives.

4 Must "live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us." (Eph 5:2)

While setting questions on 1Corinthians for the Bible Quiz, I came across Paul's repeated admonitions to the Corinthians to set love as the highest standard in doing all things such as in making decisions about liturgy, regulations on marriage and roles within society. This rule hasn't changed after two thousand years. Our encounters with people must be loving encounters - never judgmental, never insincere, never harsh. From time to time whenever I feel drained or burned out and find it difficult to love, I look back at my personal encounter with the Lord several years ago and recall how much He has loved and cared for me through the people around me. Usually it helps me recharge myself and be able to draw energy to do my task of loving others as well.

5 Must "finish the race" (2 Tim 4:7)

It is for man to start, but for saints to finish. I think it was St. Josemaria Escriva who said or wrote that line in one of his books. It tells us to be faithful to the task at hand, to not lose hope and abandon the work halfway because we do not see any fruits from our labor. There have been many instances in the Legion where our activities do not go as well as we wanted them to, but we don't allow these to get in the way of our enthusiasm. We learn from failures and improve each time. We recognize that as long as we put in the best of our efforts and make God the center of our work, there will always be fruit.

While it is true that Legionaries have to follow a seemingly lofty set of ideals, countless members worldwide have shown that it is possible. Just look at the indomitable Venerable Edel Quinn, or Servants of God Alfie Lambe and Frank Duff, our founder. Support from the members of the praesidium is indispensable for a Legionary to persevere through challenges and downfalls and live according to the Legion's standards. That is why it is important to foster close friendships within one's praesidium. It is comforting to know that one is never alone in the battlefield; a Legionary is always united with other Legionaries and with Mary our Queen in work and in spirit.

Take One Step

Was going thru one of the cardinal points of the Legion Apostolate which mentioned abt dividing impossibilities. It says: " the teeth of your difficulty, take one step. There is no need yet to worry about the next step; so concentrate on that first one. When taken, a second step will immediately or soon suggest itself. Take it and a third will show.."

When faced with seemingly impossible issues, this passage can encourage us not to be self-judgemental. In the midst of such difficulties, we grind these matters one mouthful at a time. In the situations when the many steps one needs to take cannot be foreseen, Take One Step.. For He will always lead us to the next..

And each of these steps should be taken in the spirit of Mary, symbolical of her courage and humility that entails stepping forth with amiable trust in her Son. St Thomas More advised us to pray for His graces that we may labour for our prayers. With humility, we ask for His graces and in exemplifying her courage, we make each step a symbol of love for Him..

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Learning Spontaneity - Freedom and Choices

Freedom in today's society seems to only refers to the ability to choose between alternatives. In the Western world, freedom is measured by the freedom of speech, movement, voting etc. Freedom is personal autonomy. Yet strangely, our world is still haunted by a lack of freedom. We are mentally imprisoned by drugs, alcohol, money, poverty and loneliness. What the world needs is our gospel freedom because our faith in this Christian religion invites us to a peculiar freedom.

In Galatians 5:1, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery".

Yet before we can speak of freedom with conviction, we need to be liberated from whatever holds us captive.

There is no explanation of Christian freedom, but we can look at it in action at the Last Supper. This sign of hope is the freest of all acts. Passover meal was the feast of Israel's liberationfrom slavery in Egypt. The Last Supper invites us to deeper freedoms - the freedom of spontaniety and ultimately, the freedom of giving away our lives.

Ultimately freedom is about acting from the very core of one's being. A deeper freedom which we must identify is being who we are. The virtues are roads to freedom, and our deepest freedom is spontaneously doing what is good, because it is what we most deeply desire.

Certainly one may ask how can we be free, especially in the Catholic Church where we have got so many laws and teachings that we are to adhere to. How the commandments do not seem to have any freedom. Yet exactly, these laws and teachings are there to teach us freedom, and to remind us of what we most deeply desire. They are really our moral guide- to guide us in choosing something which we most desire because it is the best thing to do.

Citing an example about the boycotting of the Da Vinci Code film 2/3 years back. The Church has officially issued a boycott on this film but many felt that it shouldn't have been the case. Their rationale was that by boycotting it, people would only want to watch it even more ( a case of eating the 'forbidden fruit'). There is then the issue of freedom to watch anything we want. However, if the Church did not issue a boycott, we would not know that watching this film is wrong. The Church's teachings are our moral guide, guiding us in choosing what is best for us, even when we fail to understand it.

We need rules and commandments just as a pianist needs a scales. Ethics is entirely concerned with doing what you want, that is to say with being free. Most of the difficulties arise from the difficulty of recognizing what we want.

Yet spontaneity is not doing the first thing that comes into one's head. It is acting from the core of one's being, where God is, sustaining one in existence.

Look at Jesus - he did everything spontaneously. He sees the disciples on the shore and he calls them. He had not made a mental note to find some disciples, and then considered whether these men might be suitable candidates. He sees the young rich man, and he loves him without hesistation. He sees Zacchaeus up the tree and immediately he says 'Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your home today'. Jesus often acts with speed. It is not that Jesus is hurried, but rather his actions are unhesistating and sure.

For us, such spontaneity is the fruit of a deep travail, of rebirth. Think of the Fransican in Aushwitz, Maximilian Kolbe. One day in the summer of 1941, three prisoners escaped from the concentration camp, so the Gestapo decided to kill ten prisoners in return. Where these were lined up, Father Kolbe suddenly stepped forward and pointed at one of the men, who was married and had children, and took his place. Kolbe was excuted. It was the spontaneous act of a deeply free person. It took years of small good acts to learn to do that, making mistakes and trying again, practising the scales of spontaneity.

It is then usually assumed in our consumer world that the more choices one has, the freer one is. It one can choose between ten sorts of drinks then one is freer than if one had just two brands. But when one has grown into that deeper freedom which is spontaneity, it may become the other way around. There are just a few deep and fundamental choices to be made and these are concerned with becoming free and happy in God. There is one single long-term goal, which shapes one's life and gives it coherence. So one has to opt for certain choices because they are simply part of being oneself. Jesus is definitely the best example where his deepest freedom was that he could do no other than the Father's will.

Entering into that freedom, which is Christ's own gift, requires that we be liberated from the wrong idea of God. We must destory the idol of God as a big, powerful person, who bosses us around and tells us what to we must do if he is to like us. We must discover the God who is the source of freedom bubbling up in the very core of our being, and granting us existence in every moment.

Let us always remember this verse from 1 Corinthians, "If in freedom we do not live for God, we risk falling back into the slavery of sin."

This freedom that we have, is meant to do God's will and for the needs of our brothers and sisters. For in Galatians 5:13 it says, "For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead use your freedom to serve one another in love."

So let us be free from sin and always be spontaneous to do what is right and what is just.

Bonding in the Legion

As promised in the Curia Bulletin, I'm posting my reflection on the subject of 'bonding within the legion' after mulling about it from sometime.

I guess 2 words sum up my thoughts on this. These 2 words are common and perhaps many of you would have thought about them as well. But I get the 'universality' of the words give them more weight in practical sense. The 2 words are ....



Identity is what makes us Legionaries. Our identity can consist of many things or facets. Things like our affinity to our Lady, our love (perhaps for some, dread) for the rosary, love for the legion system, belief in the good of the system, doing things together, common friends, situational circumstances etc. But i must say the earlier-cited examples have more holding power than the later ones.

Without having an identity with the Legion, it's easy to fade away and leave the Legion system. It is important to have this identity in whatever you do as a legionary. Be it catechism, warden, an exco-member in a student society. You are a legionary who does all of the above, not a catechist, a warden or an exco-member who is also incidentally legionary.

This is not to say that being legionary excludes us doing our other duties or make them lesser but rather, it is recogizing that it is the spirit of the legion that drives us to do these other stuff (a lot better).

Perhaps the lack of an identity leads some praesidia to falter and shrink. (It's only my conjecture). Careful observation seems to associate stronger praesidia with more inflamed legionaries who are proud of their legion identity and are eager to do much, both for our Lady and for the "fun of it". Indeed how queer to see legion work as fun, but it seems that way for some fiery legionaries.

Identity needs to be cultured and grown. It can be infectious when you have a certain level of critical mass of enthusiasm that drives it. Identity is not about one person or an officer but it needs several people who believe in it and continute to propagate it. Sounds tough but if the necessary ingredients are in place, of which are - the love for our lady, the desire to be better Catholics through work and prayer and belief in the legion disciplinary system - all will fall in naturally.


... to be continued

(look out for my next posting) :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Living the Legion

It is necessary, therefore, to emphasise a principle which must govern the attitude of the legionary towards his work. It is that legionaries are no mere instruments of Mary's action. There is question of a true co-operation with her for the purpose of enriching and ransoming the souls of men. In that co-operation each supplies what the other cannot give. The legionary gives his action and his faculties: that is all of himself; and Mary gives herself with all her purity and power. Each is bound to contribute without reserve. If the spirit of this partnership is honoured by the legionary, Mary will never be found wanting. Therefore, the fate of the enterprise may be said to depend entirely on the legionary, so that he must bring to it all his intelligence and all his strength, perfected by careful method and by perseverance.
~ Handbook Chapter 6. Point 4

I was just reading an article about Brother Alfie Lambe in this month's Maria Legionis. There's one quote in big bold letters that says "Living the Legion." It was a favourite phrase of Alfie's and by it he meant allowing the spirit of the Legion to touch and influence every aspect of his life.

Isn't that an inspiring and profound idea. In a way this is linked to Paulie's post this morning. We must live our Legionary spirit, our Legionary vocation (if I may call it that) in our everyday lives, and thus make all our secular activities part of our Legion duty of sanctifying ourselves and pointing others along towards the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Paul also once told me (and I mentioned it in a previous allocutio) that the Legion is not really like other church ministries. It's more of a lifestyle that a ministry. We are not members of the Legion only during our meeting and during our contact work. It is a life to be lived in imitation of Mary, proclaiming Her to the world, living lives that would make Her proud, supplying Her what She needs in Her mission to be Mother to the world - hands, feet, mouths, eyes and ears.

Alfie Lambe, the article says, "would have us believe that the Legion of Mary is to become a legion of Marys." His faith allowed him to believe that nothing is impossible and that "all could be achieved if only we do our best now in the situation and the circumstances we find ourselves. His approach was not to see the problem, rather to bring to bear the solution." With this hope and trust, Alfie Lambe was able to tranform people and places that had been, until then, closed to the Legion. Nothing could resist this zealous Legionary's "energy of faith." The same could be said about us, and our field of enterprise - NUS.

I'm digressing from where I started, but this reminds me of what Robert F Kenendy (brother of President John F Kennedy, former US Attorney General, and possibly President too, if he had not be shot and killed while running for that office) used to say:
"Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not."

I think such idealism is absolutely essential, whether we are trying to change a country, or just responding to the little challenges and opportunities we find along life's journey. And I also believe that a Legionary cannot help having such idealism, because, in the end we can count on the support of Someone far greater than us.

Remember, "Mary will never be found wanting"

A small reflection I had

This is really a belated blog… I have been pestered by my president for a long time and have no time to really pen down something. Well I have some insight after attending on lecture on conservation of biodiversity and would wish very much to share it around. What has conservation to do with the Catholic Faith? Well conservation of biodiversity is very much part of our Faith since in Genesis we are made stewards of this earth; we are masters of the birds of the air, creatures of the sea and beast of the earth (Do you notice how I leave plants and insects out ahaha… don’t really like plants and insects but yeah they are very much important). Yet if you take time to admire the natural world around, you would very much be left with awe and wonder (I know of a person who would disagree haha… but really most would) and thus I always thought that it is really a privilege for us to be made masters of this wonderful world that we are indiscriminatingly destroying. I would not elaborate the wonder of nature (as that can bore some of you) the purpose of this blog is to share with you about that lecture.

The lecture is on the conservation of biodiversity in Singapore and it was delivered by Mr. Sivasothi (aka the otterman; he studied otters u see). The case in study was Chek Java and as many will know, it was planned by Urban Redevelopment Authority to be reclaimed. Chek Java is a jigsaw of many different coastal habitats (from seagrass lagoon to coral reefs and mangrove habitat). When nature lovers (led by Mr. Sivasothi) heard about the plan to developed Chek Java, they hastily self-organised numerous nature tours to Chek Java, thinking that if the place is to be reclaimed at least the beauty of that place is shared with as many people as possible. People came in drones and were utterly amazed at the beauty of that place (I can attest to the beauty of that place). This spark a chain reaction which got the whole nation involved. A scrapbook containing the reflection of the public on Chek Java was complied and sent to the government in hope that they could initiate to save the place. Guess what? It works! It is a historical moment for Singapore, where plans to develop a place is halted to preserve the natural environment. How did Mr. Sivasothi do it? Well firstly he loved cycling and blogging. Riding on that, he used his hobbies to interest his friends about the beauty of nature and the importance of saving it and his friends helped him spread it around. In time to come numerous people became aware of it and thus took active step towards saving the environment.

Guess what I’m going to say next haha… Well I was very much amazed at his sharing because it dawned upon me that was not it the same for us legionaries or even ordinary catholics? Just as how Mr. Sivasothi managed to spread the message of saving the environment to all his friends through his hobbies, shouldn’t we too as ordinary catholics try to spread the message of the Love of God to all our non- catholic friends. Surely each of us has a hobby or two and each of us has a bunch or two of non-catholic friends. All we need is the zeal that Mr. Sivasothi has (he has it for the environment, we have it for our God). He (the otterman) was telling us that we should use every means to reach out to people about the importance of saving the environment. As an example, he said that if we like food, we should join a food club and then inspire people about the environment. I think then as legionaries we can add on further and to inspire them about the Love that God has for each one of us too =). Cool eh we can learn from the secular world too! Can imagine Dom nodding his head for he once told me secularity (the way of the world) do not equate to secularism (absence of God).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Curia News of the month - June

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Just some news: NUS legion has just created a user-generated content blog. ( where members can contribute. NYP also has one (

We’re at the halfway mark of the year. Time flies. To keep in perspective, we only see other Curia officers 12 times a year. That is if each of attend all the Curia meetings. Is this sufficient to create a bonding strong enough for each one of us to look forward to Curia meetings monthly?

Brother President of Senatus in his note below mentioned again the trend of ‘absenteeism’ at council meetings. Indeed that there are valid reasons of which officers are unable to attend, but I think they should not come with a “punch in the air and a yell that says ‘Woohoo! No need to attend council meeting again’.” What matters more is the heart.

I must truly share this inspiration which I felt when I think of Sr Josephine of North Curia. As some of you will know, she is down with cancer and had to seek advanced treatment. This disallowed her to do many of the things she was previously doing, especially in the Legion. But with an indomitable spirit like Edel Quinn, she was accountable in the most perfect way in her duty as a correspondent with Kuching Comitium and as an ordinary member in Legion.
During the periods of her absence in Senatus, she said she was regretful that she could not attend. Clearly on our side, her vibrancy and presence was sorely missed too.

Perhaps it’s not the quantity of meetups that matters but the quality of our relationships that matter. What else could we do to create the type of bonding Sr Jo has with Senatus? I’ve been mulling about this and probably you could too. I'll post my reflection about this soon on the NUS blog. So do check it out. ☺

Keep faith and Cheers,
Your brother in Christ,

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Isn't it very heartwarming knowing that through prayer, we always have our Daddy's arms hugging us? :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Legion Handbook: Allocutio by Brother Dominic - 19 June 2008

To one who said to me, "How can I be a really good Legionary?" I would reply: "Begin by studying the Handbook in a reasonable appreciative way. That is the first requirement. If you want to do good through the Legion, first of all know the Legion. You cannot work the system unless you understand it. The Handbook is a comparatively short document. You could get through it very quickly. There is no profession in the world which summarises into so few pages - about 300 - all that is really necessary to know about the organization. Imagine any student being told he can learn all the essentials of his science in about 300 pages! In one week he would have it off by heart. Imbibe not only the doctrine but what is the outcome of it the mentality of the Legion, it's characteristics, methods, worlds. If you are in earnest, this going through the Handbook should occupy you only a short time.
- Francis Canon Ripley, Jubilee Talks to Legionaries.
Religious orders each have their Rules which define their charisms and their unique characteristics. Every country has its constitution against which all other laws, and the actions of all citizens are measured. The Handbook is like our Rule and our constitution. And it's a document we should be proud of.

Canon Ripley says we should read the Handbook because
1) it is our rule
2) it is a fine manual of spiritual direction
3) it is a splendid guide to the technique and method of apostolate
4) it is a book for prayer and meditation
5) it is already sanctified by its association with the Legion all over the world
6) it is a fount of sound doctrine
7) it is a manual of devotion to Our Lady

So much treasure in between those two red covers!

If we love the Legion, we should want to know more about it. Very importantly, we are warned not to allow the Legion system to be tampered with. Deviation would lead to failure and we can no longer legitimately bear the name Legion of Mary. How would we know if we are tampering with the system if we do not know what the system is in the first place?

For example, the Handbook prescribes the length of the Legion meeting. And Canon Ripley tells us that allowing the praesidium meetings to last about two hours is "flagrantly against what is clearly laid down. It must not be tolerated." (we must work on this ok? ;))

Now the meeting duration is something we know about. And it's still hard to follow. But there's the strictest requirement to do so. There are probably many other such requirements that we are not even aware of.

In fact, the President of Curia, Brother Endang just mailed us this:
Handbook pg. 165:
"14. An agenda for the meeting shall be prepared beforehand by the Secretary in consultation with the President, and circulated to each Spiritual Director and each President previous to the praesidium meeting immediately before the Curia meeting.
He realized this last week when the passage was part of the Spiritual Reading for the Senatus meeting. So the Handbook has a lot of important stuff hidden inside it!

Fervour and enthusiasm can keep us going for a a while. We can work because it satisfies us and we love what we're doing. But when, for some reason, that fervour dies off, and we aren't imbibed with Legionary values and principals, we'll either leave the Legion or - perhaps worse - sink into lukewarmness. On the other hand, if we are steeped in the values that the Handbook offers us, if we understand and value the Legion system, our service will continue (difficult though it may be) through the dry periods, because we'll know it's right, even though it won't feel good at that time.
That's how the saints endured their dark nights of the soul - by clinging to the basic doctrines of their faith because feelings were no longer there to aid them.

Probably the most common complaint about the Handbook is that it's too dense and complex. Some people might legitimately put forth this complaint (though it is still not a valid excuse: they should at least try). But we at NUS cannot dare hide behind this. As university students we read academic literature far more complex and mind-boggling than the Legion Handbook.
Also,who, if not us, should be expected to read and assimilate the Handbook? The junior Legionaries? Elderly Legionaries? Not even working Legionaries with families actually because their time is much more limited than ours. So we have no excuse.
Finally, can't we be certain of the aid of the Holy Spirit (after all He inspired the Handbook) and our Lady, the Seat of Wisdom to help us?

So, if we love the Legion and are serious about our commitment to the System, let's determine to read our Handbook. Just one or two pages a day would suffice.

"The more we know it, the more we love it and the more effective our work will be"

Again, from children...

I just really find these poems really... simple... and.. loving as well :)
(there are some more here

Going to School

Dear Lord Jesus take my hand,
I'm going to a foreign land.
One not ruled by king or preacher,
but someone with the name of teacher.

My mommy says that I'll have fun;
I'll sing and skip and play and run.
But I am scared 'cause I don't know
just what to do or where to go.

So please Lord Jesus hug me tight
and keep me in your loving sight.
For with you by my side today,
I know that I will be okay.

--Margaret Kennedy

Thank You, God

The sun so bright up in the sky.
The moon I see way, way up high!
The soft green grass, the plants,
the trees are special gifts
God made for me.

All the people that I love
are blessed by Jesus up above.
My neighbors, friends and family
are special gifts God gave to me.
What gift can I give you my God
in heaven up above?
The thing you want the most from me
is pure and simple...

--Margaret Kennedy

When Children Learn How to Pray...

Children are special of their simplicity.. I came across this site of 'Children Learn to Pray' (inspired by Krizia's post :) .. It has a really easy to be chewed understanding about Hail Mary when children learn it.. Maybe it also good for us to once rediscover our faith, in a simple way like a child... Isn't this prayer like saying " Hi, Mommy.........!" :)

The Hail Mary
by Victor Hoagland, C.P.

In heaven God said, "One day I will send my Son to help all people and show them how to live. And I choose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, my Son. So God sent his angel Gabriel to Mary and the angel said:

Hail Mary,

The angel Gabriel visited Mary in Nazareth, in Galilee. The angel said to Mary that God loved her. She was
full of grace,
The angel Gabriel told Mary that God, who was in heaven so far away, had come to be close to her. She was to be the mother of Jesus. The angel said,
the Lord is with you.
After the angel left her, Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. her cousin knew how good God was to Mary. Elizabeth said,

Blessed are you among women

Mary's cousin Elizabeth knew that Mary was going to be the Mother of Jesus Christ. Elizabeth said,

and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

We pray to Mary because she is so close to God, and because she is so close to her Son, Jesus Christ. And so we say,

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners

Like a good mother, Mary always hears us when we call to her. She hears us now, at this very moment; and when we come to the last moment of our life. And so we pray,

Now and at the hour of our death.Amen.
And it has some deeper reflection for those consider themselves adults too :)
God bless!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Angelus

I opened the blog meaning to post this video which I had just used to pray the Angelus. Was surprised at the coincidence that Krizia was talking abt the Angelus too. The pace of the prayers is a bit slow but that's good since I sometimes rush my Angelus and that's not good.

I also really like the explanation provided:

We rightly admire Muslim neighbors and co-workers who put everything on hold five times a day in answer to the "call to prayer." But Christians have a "call to prayer," too! It is the Angelus. Three times a day (at 6:00 a.m., noon and 6:00 p.m), we pause to reaffirm our faith in the Incarnation: that "God so loved the world he sent his only Son" (Jn 3:16), who "worked with human hands, thought with a human mind and loved with a human heart." God knows what life on earth is like: he lived on this very planet of ours! And so "it is right to give him thanks and praise" for "having not spared his Son, but delivering him up for us."

This video was prepared to help you learn and pray the Angelus. Once you have made this practice part of your daily prayer life, you can use the video to invite others to renew their faith in this "pivot point" of the Christian creed, in which the mysteries of the Trinity and of our Redemption in Christ come together. If we are Christians, we need to "know him whom we have believed"! The Angelus can help."

Teaching Kids to Pray: A Closer Look on Spiritual Maturity

These days, while spending my school holidays in Manila, I work as an assistant at a friend's tuition center. I handle a small class of 10 primary one kids from my alma mater, one of the more prominent Catholic schools here. Although I knew that handling small kids isn't an easy job, I was fairly confident that I would be able to find it easy to teach them since the subject matter is pretty easy. As it turns out, I ate my words when I tried teaching them two prayers that were assigned for the day - the Angelus and the 3 o'clock prayer (a.k.a. the Divine Mercy prayer).

I didn't realize it was so difficult to teach and explain formulated prayers to kids until I tried it last evening. They were supposed to memorize these two prayers as their homework today (this is a Catholic school after all), and we (the main tutor, and I, his assistant) didn't want to let them memorize without trying to make them understand what the prayers mean. Because I had not known beforehand that they were going to be assigned to memorize these prayers for the day, I was not able to prepare for it. Although I do know the Angelus by heart, it was a different thing trying to explain why we have this prayer and why it is recited at noon. And the "Pour forth we beseech you O Lord..." part was simply too much for a first grader to comprehend (they couldn't even pronounce "incarnation" and "resurrection"). The 3 o'clock prayer was even worse. The tutor handling the class gave up on the first sentence ("You died Jesus, but the source of life flowed out for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world"). In the end he just said that the prayers were too complex to be understood by kids, and I ended up asking them to read the prayer aloud over and over again for them to be familiar enough with it. After two hours they were barely able to remember the short responses in the Angelus, and wanted to give up on the intensely literary 3 o'clock prayer. These kids haven't even started formal Religion classes yet (here we call them Religion class instead of catechism class, and it's one of the subjects taught in school), so words like "grace", "mercy", and "sacrament" are lost on them. One kid even asked if it was okay to become a Buddhist when he grows up. :P

Our classes are pretty amusing, but this experience made me think of my own experience learning the basic prayers of our faith when I was a kid. I must not have understood or tried to understand my Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Bes until I was perhaps Primary 5 or 6. At that time, whatever I learned about my religion was mostly head-level stuff that we had to memorize in order to pass Religion class. I was going for morning mass at school everyday because I was always early and even learned the Monday Holy Spirit novena, Wednesday Perpetual Help novena, and Friday Sacred Heart novena because I was usually picked to lead them during mass. I was religious in that sort of way - I knew the workings of the liturgy better than the older lectors who only came whenever they were rostered to read, and I learned how to prepare the altar and light the candles. Going to daily mass became part of my school routine. That went on for about four or five years before I had a personal spiritual encounter in Sec 2, and from then on I started paying attention to what my faith was all about, including the prayers that I had learned from my childhood. Today I can't say that I've matured fully in my faith but at the very least I can say that I'm growing, thanks to the Legion of Mary and my parish youth group.

What about the others? I thought. I know of a lot of people who have been Catholic since birth but remain blissfully ignorant about the meaning of their religion that they don't progress beyond the spiritual childhood they've been in since they were children. Perhaps it is unintentional on their part due to a lack of proper formation from their family and community. Perhaps they have given up on religion after being exposed to the materialistic wiles of the world - career, money, relationships, power, popularity, etc. Perhaps some are hurting and traumatized after a bad experience with a Church authority. There are many possible reasons, but in the end, it is always a loss for a person to remain stagnant and stop growing in faith.

John Westerhoff in his book, Will Our Children Have Faith? (New York, Seabury, 1976) offers an enlightening theory on the different stages of faith development, which I think is quite relevant and applicable to most people. The first stage is what he terms experienced faith, which is characteristic of young children. In this stage, children participate in the rituals of the liturgy of the Church without understanding them. It is important for them to feel loved and accepted since this is where they start associating themselves with the community and placing importance on going to Church. This lays the foundation of our faith and our belongingness with the Church. So this is where my kids are!

The second stage, affiliative faith, is usually developed in early adolescence. In this stage, a person seeks to join a community and deepen his/her relationships within the group. Experiences like youth camps and retreats are especially meaningful at this stage. Support from peers help build up a strong sense of belonging to God's family.

The third stage, searching faith, corresponds to the shift in intellectual capacity that naturally occurs in late adolescence and early adulthood. It is a process of questioning and internalizing what one has been taught. Usually a person at this stage tries to know more about his/her faith by reading up on theology and spirituality and engaging in debates and discussions on topics such as the existence of God. It is also a risky period because this is when a person chooses to accept his/her faith as his/her own, or abandon it altogether.

The fourth and final stage is termed as owned faith. By this stage, one's faith becomes one's own and not that of one's parents or friends. A person believes because he/she wants to, and goes about witnessing to others this faith in daily life through his/her decisions and actions.

Owned faith is God's intention for us, but most people get their faith arrested at the first or second stage. It is sad to realize that a lot of born Catholics are at the same level of faith as the primary 1 kids I'm handling.

The challenge for us is to bring our lapsed brothers and sisters back into the Church, perhaps by being friends sincerely with them and introducing them to members in the community to let them feel a sense of belongingness once more. Perhaps they need to have a fresh experience of God in their life through us journeying with them in friendship and in worshipping together. Perhaps they need to hear our testimonies, or need our companionship and encouragement in their personal struggles. Whatever the case, it seems that a person needs to belong before he believes. And it is up to us to reach out to them as instruments of God's love to awaken and nourish the seed of faith in them, and to do so without watering down the faith.

Meanwhile, I need to think of a way to get my kids to memorize the Angelus and the 3 o'clock prayer. :P

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Allocutio by Brother Dominic - 12 June 2008

Regular attendance at the Legion meeting and our weekly contact work are essential to our Legionary lives. Without an effort in these, we cannot honestly call ourselves Legionaries.

However, while these are necessary - absolutely necessary - they are not really sufficient if we want our praesidia to be successful and vibrant.

Usually, one problem with praesidia that are struggling is that their members don't see the point being Legionaries. In short they don't have the 'Legionary spirit'.

What is the Legionary spirit? The Handbook gives us a beautiful answer: "The spirit of the Legion of Mary is that of Mary herself." (p12)
Canon Francis Ripley (in his Jubilee Talks to Legionaries) says that "If in any place the Legion is not all it ought to be, it is usually because that sentence is wholly or partly ignored"

Let us examine a few aspects of the spirit of Mother Mary. She is Mother of the Church - She is universal. She didn't remain just a mother in Nazareth: "the world is their [Jesus and Mary] country and each place their Nazareth (p76). Similarly, we Legionaries cannot afford to be bogged down only with ourselves, our concerns, and even just the concerns of our own praesidium. We should be intensely concerned about other praesidia, our Curia, and the Legion worldwide.

Our Legionary work cannot only consist of personal contacts. True, this is our main avenue of apostolate (in fact I have sometimes discussed with others whether the book barrow and crowd contact are effective on campus). But remember: the Legion is formed to weld together each of our individual efforts. In fact when we took our Promise, we vowed to "submit fully to [the Legion's] discipline, which binds me to my comrades and shapes us into an army."
So our praesidia should have an overall direction and goal and much of our individual efforts should lead towards these. Our meetings should not only be a place for reporting work, but a place from which work flows out.

Another important point in developing a Legionary spirit is in how we relate to each other. At the FOC Paul stressed on the family aspect of the Legion. I grew up for thirteen years with the same group of classmates. They're good friends, but i wouldn't call them family. I've known you Legionaries for three years. And I can truthfully say, you are my family: second only to my bilogical family. As a family, we should feel comfortable enough to share our troubles, our worries, our hopes with each other. I found this in the Legionaries when I first joined, and my first year would have been very much harder if it had not been for you all. Let's ensure that this idea of the Legion family isn't lost.

During one retreat - which Keenan and Paul Wong organized for us - Keenan gave us a session on how God, throughout salvation history, has made covenants with families. And he told us to be proud of the fact that we call each other brothers and sisters.

Being a Legion family requires effort. Every family must take the effort to spend time together - family meals, family prayer and so on. And unlike our own families, we don't see each other every day. So we must take the effort - that little extra - to come for our gatherings, our events, our retreats. If we come only if it's convenient, or if we foresee that it'll be fun, what use is that? A member of any CCA would do that. Paul once told me that our Legionary lives do not begin and and at the weekly meetings. Our duty to the Legion and our fellow Legionaries is a continual one.

As Legionaries, our devotion to our praesidia, and our curia must be something special.
Canon Ripley says "One who has the genuine spirit of the Legion of Mary, continually asks, 'How much can I do for souls?' never 'How little can I get away with?'"

A final point on keeping alive our Legionary spirit is the necessity to read the Handbook. As university students who read very heavy academic work, we really have no excuse for neglecting this. Also, the Maria Legionis:
"We should regard our quarterly Journal as a valuable supplement to our Handbook. If we love the Legion we should be interested in all that the Legion is doing everywhere in the world. We should also be anxious to drink in more of the spirit of the Legion from the writings of those who are convinced of its value, and especially from the writings of our Founder who has undoubtedly been given special charisms to fit him for his great vocation. Maria Legionis is not meant to be light reading or recreation. It is not meant to be a popular magazine. It is meant to be an instrument for deepening the spirit of Legionaries and arousing, maintaining and increasing the interest of all, particularly our Auxiliary Members."

Canon Ripley says in another part of his book,
"It is so very easy to settle down to routine - but to do that does not show Mary's spirit does it? Praeisida can exist like skeletons, like bodies without souls. That happens when work is put before spirit, parochialism before universalism, self-interest before sacrifice."
and finally

"The basic demand today is for white-hot zeal. The world needs it, the Legion needs it, the Church needs it. Thus is what Jesus and Mary are asking of the lay Catholics in this 2oth century. Are they to be disappointed?"

Let's make sure they aren't!

Domine Iesu, noverim me. Lord Jesus, Let me Know Myself

St Augustine is one of the Saints that I admire the most... He and his mother, St Monica, really have a deep love for God..
Here is one of the prayer he wrote.

Domine Iesu, noverim me
Lord Jesus, Let me Know Myself

LORD Jesus, let me know myself and know Thee,
And desire nothing save only Thee.
Let me hate myself and love Thee.
Let me do everything for the sake of Thee.

Let me humble myself and exalt Thee.
Let me think of nothing except Thee.
Let me die to myself and live in Thee.
Let me accept whatever happens as from Thee.

Let me banish self and follow Thee,
And ever desire to follow Thee.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in Thee,
That I may deserve to be defended by Thee.

Let me fear for myself,
let me fear Thee,
And let me be among those who are chosen by Thee.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in Thee.

Let me be willing to obey for the sake of Thee.
Let me cling to nothing save only to Thee,
And let me be poor because of Thee.
Look upon me, that I may love Thee.
Call me that I may see Thee,
And for ever enjoy Thee.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Being an Ambassador

On the 13th of June, the US TV network NBC's Washington Bureau Chief, Tim Russert died suddenly of a heart attack while at work. He was only 58. I read up a bit about him, and watched some clips on him and learned that he was greatly respected as a journalist (he was the longest serving host of NBC's famous Meet the Press programme and was known for being a very meticulous researcher, a hard worker and someone who wouldn't let politicians get away with their usual fudging about) and as a good man.

I was also very glad to discover that he was a Catholic. And unlike many Catholics in the public sphere he lived his faith. He was proud of his Irish Catholic roots and his Catholic education. It's refreshing to see public figures who live by their Catholic faith.

He said that his father, a sanitation worker who never finished high school, "worked two jobs all his life so his four kids could go to Catholic school, and those schools changed my life." He also spoke warmly of Catholic nuns who taught him. "Sister Mary Lucille founded a school newspaper and appointed me editor and changed my life," he said. Teachers in Catholic schools "taught me to read and write, but also how to tell right from wrong."

He arranged Pope John Paul II's first interview on American TV.
And when Pope Benedict visited the US, he and another senior newsman, Wolf Blitzer (from CNN) got to have an audience with the Holy Father:

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, also from Buffalo, told the Tribune that as they waited for the Holy Father to arrive, “Russert was excitedly clutching his rosary and beaming.”

“This wasn't Tim Russert, the powerful anchor and moderator of 'Meet the Press,' it was just little Timmy from Buffalo.” Blitzer continued, “He looked at me before the pope came in and said, 'Can you believe it, two kids from Buffalo are about to meet the pope?'” also reported that during a graduation address Russert gave last year to students at Washington University in St. Louis, he described meeting John Paul II. “As the Pope approached me, you heard this tough, no-nonsense, hard-hitting moderator of ‘Meet the Press’ begin our conversation by saying, ‘Bless me, Father.’ And he took my arm and said, ‘You are the man called Timothy from NBC.’ I said: ‘I am YOUR GUY. Don’t forget this face.’

Here's a very inspiring clip.

The gentleman being interviewed says that though he's a Jew, if he ever considers becoming Catholic, Tim Russert would have been the best advertisement for his Catholic faith, a great fisherman for the faith.

And he did this just by living his faith in his every day life.

I was telling Paul yesterday that it would the greatest honour if, when we die, non-Catholics could say about us, that we lived our Catholic Faith in such a way that those around us were inspired to take a second look the Faith and judge it well based on our actions.

So let's pray that we can be good ambassadors of our faith.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hello Stranger!

Talking to strangers can be a most delightful experience. It scares me a little to think that lil-o-me should say such a think, especially when I recall breaking into tears every time the teacher asked me for an answer in class, or the time when I ran away to escape being introduced to my parents' friends.... Intimidating experience? No doubt. Yet I've come to realise that talking to others; engaging them; building bridges, this is an art. Perhaps one thing that I’ve taken away after being in the legion for a while is learning how to speak up. Have you ever wondered why you have to make “… a substantial and audible report…” at every meeting. I mean why can’t we just write out our reports each week and submit them to the president; or better yet why don’t we have a blog for reports done. I mean it would sure save a lot of time with everyone reporting online. Yet we have this system; we bring back whatever we’ve accomplished for the week, and we present it to everyone there in a loud audible voice – guests/visiting legionaries/new faces/old faces/strangers. It’s not all that easy, and I think you guys know what I’m talking about :) In fact making a good report is tricky in itself, the handbook will have its guidelines, but the practical aspect always takes some trial and error. The report has to be both a sharing and an hmm… “report”; swaying too much either way leaves you with either a never-ending-story or a market report off BBC. In short the audience loses attention and maybe wants to hit you for taking so long or starts feeling uneasy because it feels like it’s in court. Well practice does make perfect, and the benefits are substantial. I’ve learnt how to express myself more clearly, make better presentations (ppt, class stuff, speeches…), be more sensitive to my audience, and yesh… learn how to talk to strangers (its still a struggle, but hey at least now I know I can).

The secret? There is no secret really. After a while you realize people are messes (like you), not that we should all be mopped up and thrown away, but well everyone has silly insecurities and is afraid of strangers; and needs to be reminded now and then. You really don’t have to be afraid because he/she is probably just as afraid of meeting you. Yet I’ve noticed this too, the closer the stranger is to God (whether they know it or not), the more at ease they are with allowing you to “intrude” into their space, or “intruding” into your space! End result – Respect; wonderful, open and light-hearted discussions about anything under the sun. The secret then is allowing yourself to be the child you hide; the tender child; the simple child you fear being. No one wants to laugh with a “scholar”, they may marvel at what you have to say, but at the end of the day, people only want to laugh/cry with the child in you. Give them the opportunity to be children too, be you. That’s the art then, learning to be you. And when the stranger is depressed, rejected and unwanted, remember too that, that’s when God holds them in special closeness. Those are your wonderful strangers; very easy to talk to because they are very close to God. Really! May our faith and love be real, the way He would want us to be.

The Rabbi asked his students: “How can we determine the hour of dawn, when the night ends and the day begins?”

One of the rabbi’s students suggested: “When from a distance you can distinguish between a dog and a sheep?”

“No,” was the answer of the rabbi.

“Is it when one can distinguish between a fig tree and a grapevine?” asked a second student.

“No,” the rabbi said.

“Please tell us the answer, then,” said the students.

“It is, then” said the wise teacher, “when you can look into the face of another human being and you have enough light in you to recognize your brother or your sister. Until then it is night, and darkness is still with us.”

[An old Hasidic tale as related by Henri Nouwen]

The Pope and the President

President Bush visited our Holy Father at the Vatican yesterday. He received a very warm welcome, more than other heads of state usually get. He got to walk with the Holy Father in the Vatican Gardens.

Here's a picture of them seated at the Lourdes grotto in the gardens.

The Holy Father seems to be explaining to Bush about the apparition. Nice right? President Bush is is "non-Catholic contact". :p

Actually there are rumours that Bush might convert, like PM Blair. But maybe that's all they are: just rumours...
His brother Jeb converted when he married a Catholic.

Pope Benedict XVI and U.S. President George ...

Do be reminded however that the Pope disagrees with many of Bush's policies, including the use of the death penalty, torture, the use of cluster bombs, his overall war-like ideology.
That's important because many non-Catholics (especially people in Muslim countries) who see pictures like these would love to jump to the conclusion that the Vatican is very much in support of the US's policies in the Iraq and elsewhere, while this is certainly not the case.

Friday, June 13, 2008

To the Holy Spirit

Come, O true light!
Come, O eternal life!
Come, O hidden mystery!
Come, O indescribable treasure!
Come, O ineffable thing!
Come, O inconceivable person!
Come, O endless delight!
Come, O unsetting light!
Come, O true and fervent expectation
of all those who will be saved!
Come, O rising of those who lie down!
Come, O resurrection of the dead!
Come, O powerful one,
who always creates and re-creates and transforms
by your will alone!
Come, O invisible and totally intangible and untouchable!
Come, O you who always remain immobile
and at each moment move all,
and come to us, who lie in hades,
you who are above all heavens.
Come, O desirable and legendary name,
which is completely impossible for us
to express what you are or to know your nature.
Come, O eternal joy!
Come, O unwithering wreath!
Come, O purple of the great king our God!
Come, O crystalline cincture,
studded with precious stones!
Come, O inaccessible sandal!
Come, O royal robe
and truly imperial right hand!
Come, you whom my wretched soul
has desired and does desire!
Come, you who alone go to the lonely
for as you see I am lonely!
Come, you who have separated me from everything
and made me solitary in this world!
Come, you who have become yourself desire in me,
who have made me desire you,
the absolutely inaccessible one!
Come, O my breath and life!
Come, O consolation of my humble soul!
Come, O my joy, my glory, and my endless delight!
I thank you that you have become one spirit with me,
without confusion, without mutation,
without transformation, you the God of all;
and that you have become everything for me,
inexpressible and perfectly gratuitous nourishment,
which ever flows to the lips of my soul
and gushes out into the fountain of my heart,
dazzling garment which burns the demons,
purification which bathes me
with these imperishable and holy tears,
that your presence brings to those whom you visit.
I give you thanks that for me
you have become unsetting light
and non-declining sun;
for you who fill the universe with your glory
have nowhere to hide yourself.
No, you have never hidden yourself from anyone
but we are the ones who always hide from you,
by refusing to go to you;
but then, where would you hide,
you who nowhere find the place of your repose?
Why would you hide,
you who do not turn away from a single creature,
who do not reject a single one?
Today, then, O Master,
come pitch your tent with me;
until the end, make your home
and live continually, inseparably within me,
your slave, O most-kind one,
that I also may find myself again in you,
at my departure from this world
and after my departure may I reign with you,
O God who are above everything.
O Master, stay and do not leave me alone,
so that my enemies,
arriving unexpectedly,
they who are always seeking to devour my soul,
may find you living within me
and that they may take flight,
in defeat, powerless against me,
seeing you, O more powerful than everything,
installed interiorly in the home of my poor soul.
Yea, O Master, just as you remembered me,
when I was in the world
and, in the midst of my ignorance,
you chose me and separated me from this world
and set me before your glorious face,
so now keep me interiorly,
by your dwelling within me,
forever upright, resolute;
that by perpetually seeing you,
I, the corpse, may live;
that by possessing you,
I, the beggar, may always be rich,
richer than kings;
that by eating you and by drinking you,
by putting you on at each moment,
I go from delight to delight
in inexpressible blessings;
for it is You, who are all good and
all glory and all delight
and it is to you,
holy, consubstantial, and life-creating Trinity
that the glory belongs,
you whom all faithful venerate, confess, adore, and serve
in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

St Symeon the New Theologian

"Do not say that it is impossible to receive the Spirit of God. Do not say that it is possible to be made whole without Him. Do not say that one can possess Him without knowing it. Do not say that God does not manifest Himself to man. Do not say that men cannot perceive the divine light, or that it is impossible in this age! Never is it found to be impossible, my friends. On the contrary, it is entirely possible when one desires it"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On the Fittingness of the Women's Veil

Got this article from a friend, which I thought is pretty good in explaining the need for girls to wear a veil. I am not particularly comfortable with it yet, but this article did indeed encourage me to take that step forward and attend Mass with a veil. :)

The wearing of the head veil by women at the holy Mass is an ancient tradition. St. Paul writes of this practice in the eleventh chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians.

He begins the subject this way, “Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ. (2) Now I praise you, brethren, that in all things you are mindful of me: and keep my ordinances as I have delivered them to you. What are his ordinances?“(3) But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (4) Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered, disgraces his head. (5) But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered, disgraces her head : for it is all one as if she were shaven. (5) For if a woman be not covered let her be shorn. (6) But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn or made bald, let her cover her head. (7) The man indeed ought not to cover his head because he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man. (8) For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. (9) For the man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man. (10) Therefore ought the woman to have a power over her head because of the angels.”

In the public worship of God, a woman wears a veil to show her subjection to the husband as part of God’s divine order; this hierarchy is even acknowledged by the order of angels.

But there may be another reason to for wearing the veil. St. Paul continues, “(11) But yet neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord. (12) For as the woman is of the man, so also is the man by the woman, but all things of God.”

In the beginning, Eve came from Adam and so there is a hierarchy of man over woman; but as now every man comes from the woman so the woman wears a veil to indicate a mystery.

For these reasons, St. Paul tells us that God has given a natural veil to the woman.“(13) You yourselves judge : doth it become a woman, to pray unto God uncovered? (14) Doth not even nature itself teach you that a man indeed, if he nourish his hair, it is a shame to him? (15) But if a woman nourish her hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.”

Finally, should anyone find reason to argue differently, St. Paul writes, “(16) But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor the Church of God.”

Following St. Paul and the ancient practice of the Church, the 1917 Code of Canon Law required women to wear veils at liturgical functions,“Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.” (Canon 1262, para. 2)

In recent times the head covering is not a common practice. What happened? In 1976, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the decree, “Declaration on the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood” (Inter insigniores) which outlined why women cannot be priests. In this decree we read, “... it must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed on women to wear a veil on the head; such requirements no longer have a normative value.”

Since that time, the new Code of Canon Law (1983) omits the requirement for head coverings... thus, today, in the Church at large, wearing of the head veil by women at holy Mass is rare.

This ought not be so. And I think if the matter were better understood, women would find in wearing the veil a dignity good for them individually and good for society.

In explaining my opinion, I will not address wearing the veil for reasons of modesty or subjection, but only as it relates to a great mystery.

St. Paul tells us that woman came from man and as man came first so he has a headship over the woman... thus she wears a veil to reveal her submission to him. It is also true, however, that since Adam every man now comes from a woman and she should wear a veil for this reason too.

In every conception, the divine Visitor enters the woman alone to create a new person Only in her does God descend and, like another incarnation, touch the womb, and implant a new and immortal soul. Now this is a great mystery. And how do we show mysteries? We veil them.

A mist covered the earth at its creation; smoke veiled Mount Sinai when Moses received the tablets; a cloud received our Savior at His Ascension. The sacred is veiled so that we might be drawn to a deeper reality. At holy Mass, the Tabernacle is veiled because it contains God and the chalice is veiled for it will contain God. Just as there is a great mystery of God becoming present on our altars - which we “see” by Faith - so covering the woman by a veil makes her life giving role and unique dignity more evident... only she has been chosen as a vessel for new life.

But what of those women who cannot bear children, the old or young or sterile, should they wear a veil? They should. For the old or young or sterile still share the nature of woman which is a nature identified with bearing new life... and natures do not change.

If we follow this logic of wearing the veil which points to the mystery of the woman, then we can properly understand the churching of woman after childbirth. This sacramental is not only an act of thanksgiving but of purification. Now the purifying is not to cleanse a dirty object, but to cleanse a holy one before it is returned to a common use. At holy Mass, after Communion, the priest purifies the chalice. He does this not because the chalice is dirty, but because God has been there. So the woman is purified, not because she is dirty, but because God had entered her, touched her womb, and through her put another immortal soul into this world.

To close, in my opnion, all women should wear a head veil at holy Mass as a visible witness of her unique privilege and dignity. If all women understood themselves better, I believe they would value themselves more and appreciate more their unique maternal nature... too much abused, abandoned, and warfared against in our day. Moreover, if woman recognized her unique privilege, she would defend her dignity by protecting herself against immodest dress, by avoiding bad companions and places, by hating to be reduced to a toy for man’s lower pleasures.

Of all reasons, if all women understood the sacred mystery of their womanhood, they would wear the veil at every holy Mass happily, eagerly, and with honor. And great good would return to this poor world too much in the dark about the true purpose, happiness, and goal of life.