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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Matric Fair!

Heya! :)

I guess most of the NTU and NUS legionaries must be busy in preparing for the matric fair. A good time to recruit more members! A note of encouragement here.

About 5 years back when the NUS legion consisted only of 5-6 people, all members were needed to be down for the matric fair almost daily. Just because of our small numbers. But busy students as we are, understandably, not everyone can be there all the time so we had to resort to 'sharing one more legion slot' to the numerically superior CSS. It was good that we did that too because it utilizes the slots available more effectively.

What was good was that we all recognised that each of us knew we had to put in as much effort into matric fair because it was one of the greatest avenue to recruit members to the seemingly dying praesidium. And so we did. But we did it with the focus that we recruit members to be in a catholic community - we are not recruiting in competition with CSS. It was fun working with CSS in terms of sharing ways how each of us do recruitment. CSS did it with publicising the activities like mass, outings, CGs etc. Legion did it the 'book-barrow way' - giving out articles on the faith, distributing MMs and subtly inviting potentials for legion meetings.

Oh yea there were a long list of contacts after the week of matric fair. But it seemed that the CSS list was so much longer but it was also much due to legionaries selflessness in referring people over to a more encompassing catholic organisation. It is funny that we recognised that we needed people to fill up the ranks of the legion but at the same time, know that it is often better to place names in a ministry where people might be more interested at the first glance. Moreover, the legion is an 'acquired taste' where you can't expect people to know and love it almost immediately after a glance at the matric fair. Legionaries consoled ourselves then by saying that we are 'planting seeds', even if it was not for the legion at the end of the day.

As expected, we had only a few invitees to our meetings and not all of them expressed interest. The legion system weeds out those who are not suited to the ministry yet. And so we struggled with the low membership (but amazingly great attendance) and continued to do the work we are called to do.

Looking back, the subsequent spurt of growth in the legion was powered by an unseen force. People started joining from the oddest places - opus dei referrals, contacts in CSS, book barrow. One of them was special. There was a person we thought was a great legionary potential in CSS and she had a non-catholic friend. And so we wooed her like mad by following up. And not to make her non-catholic friend feel left out because they were together so often, we included her in our wooing as well. Guess who became the legionary in the end, and a good one at that.

The rambling above seems to derail from the topic of matric fair. But it is important also to see beyond the matric fair. Our seeds that we plant now would grow in unexpected ways and reap fruits unseen. Though the event might seem not to yield much from past experiences, you would never know if you don't try to put in that little bit more effort in just being present. Most of all, have fun at the matric fair! Because when you cast away your worries and let God do the recruiting, you enjoy what you do and do it well in God's name.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Clapping during Mass

Hold the Applause: Confessions of a Conflicted Clapper

Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of the liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.

The above words were penned by our Holy Father Pope Benedict the XVI, (then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) on p. 198 of his book entitled The Spirit of the Liturgy. I first read this book before our Holy Father became pope. The book did three things to me. First, it made me acutely aware that there was much about the meaning of the liturgy to which I was blind. Second, it deepened my love for the liturgy. Third, it put me in conflict with respect to how I needed to approach Mass. One area of conflict was in clapping at Mass.

Having read Cardinal Ratzinger’s words on clapping, I wondered how I could continue to clap at Mass in good conscience. As one who has been to Masses where there was clapping for just about everyone, from musicians, lectors, altar servers and church decorators to priests giving homilies and lay people giving testimonies, I began to wonder why we clap at Mass at all.

Read the rest of this interesting article here
Via the AmericanPapist

Imagine a state in Amercia with no abortion clinics

It's called "South Dakota."

Praise God.

From the AmericanPapist

Being little things

Last Friday our department had a day out at Changi Village Hotel. Lunch and dinner were buffet but since it was a Friday, I decided not to have the chicken and beef dishes that were available. Was rather hard actually and I was thinking if there was any other sacrifice I could do instead...but I guess it's when you deny yourself something when you really want it that it is actually a sacrifice.

That's not the point of this post though.

When I glanced across the table I saw Angie, a Catholic colleague, explaining to a Buddhist colleague why she wasn't having any meat dishes as well. That was encouraging!

But what I want to share is Linda, my Buddhist colleague's response:
"Oh I forgot you were Catholic"

It's when you work among non-Catholics that you realise that Catholicism is truly counter-cultural. We do some things differently...and people notice it.

Not eating meat on Fridays would seem something insignificant or ritualistic to a non-Catholic but it carries a lot of meaning for us, and it is also one thing that identifies us.

Remember how McDonalds had to introduce its Fillet-O-Fish because sales fell every Friday thanks to the Catholics who didn't visit its outlets because they abstained from meat? A huge fast-food company changed its menu just because Catholics quietly lived their faith.

Another colleague once asked me "Because you're a Catholic, you can't divorce or use contraception right?"
That's another thing that defines us...

Young minds through the ages have always looked to be counter-cultural, to be revolutionary. That's why Marxism used to be so popular on university campuses.
And one way they express this radicalism is by disobedience, disrespect towards authority...
Well...disobedience is not really radical anymore is it? It's pretty much the culture in many parts of the world.

Goodness, purity, obedience, loyalty, fidelity, respect...these are countercultural today.

It's Catholics who live these that make observers say "Oh they're Catholic...they do things differently"

And maybe in time they'll realise that the way we do things is in fact very beautiful.

"Whatever things are true, whatever honorable, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovable, whatever of good repute, if there be any virtue, if anything worthy of praise, think upon these things."
Philippians 4:8

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Feast Day of St Joachim and St Anne :) (26/7/08)

Hello everyone, today is the feast day of St Joachim and St Anne, our Lady's parents! So, if our Lady is our Mother, then....Happy feast day to our dear grandparents ...hehe :)

Sts. Joachim and AnneParents of Our Lady
Feastday: July 26

By tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of
Mary, the Mother of God. We have no historical evidence, however, of any elements of their lives, including their names. Any stories about Mary's father and mother come to us through legend and tradition. We get the oldest story from a document called the Gospel of James, though in no way should this document be trusted to be factual, historical, or the Word of God. The legend told in this document says that after years of childlessness, an angel appeared to tell Anne and Joachim that they would have a child. Anne promised to dedicate this child to God (much the
way that Samuel was dedicated by his mother Hannah -- Anne -- in 1 Kings).

For those who wonder what we can learn from people we know nothing
about and how we can honor them, we must focus on why they are honored by
the church. Whatever their names or the facts of their lives, the truth is that
it was the parents of Mary who nurtured Mary, taught her, brought her up to be a worthy Mother of God. It was their teaching that led her to respond to God's request with faith, "Let it be done to me as you will." It was their example of parenting that Mary must have followed as she brought up her own son, Jesus. It was their faith that laid the foundation of courage and strength that allowed her to stand by the cross as her son was crucified and still believe. Such parents can be
examples and models for all parents. Anne (or Ann) is the patron saint of Christian
mothers and of women in labor.

Parents of Mary, pray for all parents that they may provide the loving home and faithful teaching that you provided your daughter. Amen

Allocutio by Fr. Frans, 24 July 2008

Significance of the World Youth Day

The WYD event reminds us that all of us, whether we are lay people or religious, are called to be missionaries! The theme of WYD 2008, which centered on the Holy Spirit, recalled to the new Pentecost. Just as what we said in our opening prayers, Holy Spirit is the One to renew the face of the earth. This spirit teaches us how to live our life, to fulfill our human dignity to its fullness as daughters and sons of God.

The Church with all of her teachings, supports humanity by elevating the human value, the humanized and divinized humanity. God, the Father, as our creator, knows how we have to live best. The creation story portrayed in the book of Genesis showed how God changes the chaos to cosmos. It shows that when the spirit of God present, we become one family.

We, as young people need to have a guideline in our live since we are the architects of the new world in the spirit of brotherhood. We live to make the world as the Kingdom of God, to live as human just as how Jesus lives as human, and to spread the Gospel, with the spirit of the living God within us. May the Word of God become flesh and blood in our lives. Preach always, sometimes use words, but all the time using our lifestyle. Let's kindle the fire of His Love in our world!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Back from World Youth Day 2008

Hello fellow Legionaries! I just got back from Sydney after attending World Youth Day 2008. As of now, I am still sorting out my thoughts and the rotting emails I've received these past two weeks.

My mind is not yet capable to recap everything that I've experienced in WYD, so I guess my reflections will come in short blogs when inspiration (and memory!) prompts me.

Going to WYD has indeed been a blessing. Getting to know the people from CSS better and seeing the positives and negatives of everyone (including myself) has been an eye-opener. Many of us came with expectations and seeking to find answers. Some were perhaps waiting for some particularly miraculous or grand moment to help us in our renewal of faith.

But something Fr. Val said during the last mass he celebrated with us before departing Sydney, stuck with me. He said that whether we were disappointed or not, if there was one thing that we should have obtained after the whole thing, it should be a greater love for the Church. And I think that for me, personally, it has been the case. I renewed the fragile tie I had with my Lord. And after seeing so many nations united under one church, one faith, one shepherd, I was extremely encouraged and hopeful for the future of the the Catholic Church.

One amusing experience that I had was when my group boarded the train on our way home on the first day of WYD week. We were just talking amongst ourselves. Then suddenly one Polish Catholic introduced himself to us and just started talking to us. Then a priest from Colombia came in at the next station and we greeted each other as well. At the next station, some German pilgrims boarded the carriage and started singing "I love you, Jesus" complete with actions. And we started singing with them, without thinking that it was weird or strange. Afterwards, we talked to two guys from Melbourne about their own parishes. For me, that one night was very special. It may strike anyone else as mundane and insignificant but for me, I was just happy because we were strangers, and yet this one Church brought us together. Just as Pope Benedict mentioned during the Saturday night vigil at Randwick Racecourse, the Holy Spirit's "particular quality is unity."

Thanks to all the people who prayed for the CSS contingent and for the Holy Father and for the success of WYD.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Today I was rushing from Risen Christ Church to Ravenhal centre for the weekly doctrine class by Joel (since Alvin is away for WYD*) and Clarabelle saw me off from tao payoh. She was with me (details not important haha). From Toa payoh to Heng Mui Keng required numerous change of buses and I was already running late. She was really anxious that I will be late for the class and she continously check on my progress (hahaha more anxious than me haha). The journey went rather smoothly till the last change of bus. I need to take bus 151 in order to reach school before changing to an internal shuttle. I waited for a long while and the bus still would not come. Meanwhile, I was exchanging messages with Belle and informed her about the long wait that I'm experiencing. She replied saying that she pray that the bus comes now! I was rather taken aback and replied saying that her prayer seems rather demanding. While waiting for her reply, I'm contemplating how prayers should be made instead. A thought suddenly struck me, in the morning I was reading the book 'Christ is passing by' (it belongs to Dom haha) and in that book something made me ponder: to beg as little children beg. St. Josemaria was teaching us how to be like little children infront of God. I understood the part of to trust as little children trust, but to beg as they beg? I don't get it! And soon enough, my dear replied saying that struck me alot:

Nothing is too small to be asked dear.. It's like how u tell me no matter how small sth is if it's bother me, u would wan2 hear me rite. So i think God will b more than happy to hear anything even sth as trivial as wanting a bus to come. u know how He feels..... (the rest of the message is privilege and private wahaha).

Above is the extract of the message she sent to me. In the course my relationship with her, she would seem trouble but refuse to tell me what it is because she thought it was trivial. But it is her not telling me that trivial thing that really troubles me hahaha therefore she says I should know how God would feel if I feel something is too trivial to ask. Her message really made me understand what it means to beg as children beg, that in prayer we do not choose nice words but to speak from our heart. I really thank God for Belle, she was instrumental in letting me know more about God through my relationship with her. Just a sharing =).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another one on Tony Snow

This one's by Raymond Arroyo, the EWTN News Director

Tony Snow, Requiescat In Pace
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Like many Americans I am mourning the passing of Tony Snow, the journalist and White House spokesman who lost his battle with colon cancer on Saturday.

Tony and I had many friends in common and knew each other a bit. Years ago, before he joined Fox News, I met him in Washington and bumped into him occasionally on the road at functions and conferences. He was a class act and a passionate journalist. He was also a committed and practicing Catholic; though I hear little mention of it in the scant media remembrances.

Over the last few weeks another Sunday morning Washington institution, Tim Russert was saluted from all quarters for his civility and faith. Russert's Catholicism was highlighted in nearly every televised memorial. Not so with Tony Snow. And this is unfortunate.

Tony was not only a convert to Catholicism, but he publically stood with the Church on all those issues that separate the goats from the sheep. He was pro-life, an advocate for the less fortunate, and committed to the common good. Still, near as I can tell, no Cardinals came rushing forward to minister to his co-workers in the wake of his passing. As a friend observed recently, "When you do what you're supposed to do the praise comes in heaven."

According to Tony, his brush with colon cancer (which claimed his mother's life) deepened his faith and instigated a reappraisal of priorities. In 2007, during a commencement speech at Catholic University, Tony offered his thoughts on faith. He said: "Don’t shrink from pondering God’s role in the universe or Christ’s. You see, it’s trendy to reject religious reflection as a grave offense against decency. That’s not only cowardly. That’s false. Faith and reason are knitted together in the human soul. So don’t leave home without either one... Think not only of what it means to love but what it means to be loved. I have a lot of experience with that. Since the news that I have cancer again, I have heard from thousands and thousands of people and I have been the subject of untold prayers... never underestimate the power of other people’s love and prayer. They have incredible power. It’s as if I’ve been carried on the shoulders of an entire army. And they had made me weightless. The soldiers in the army just wanted to do a nice thing for somebody. As I mentioned, a lot of people — everybody out here — wants to do that same thing.”

As Paul said 'Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.' And once you realize that there is something greater than you out there, and then you have to decide, “Do I acknowledge it and do I act upon it?” You have to at some point surrender yourself. And there is nothing worthwhile in your life that will not at some point require an act of submission.”

Tony submitted himself to the Church, and later, in his struggle with cancer, to God's will. This later submission is difficult for us to accept, but it is perhaps Tony's last lesson for us. May we all follow his example and learn to accept God's Will with the same grace and consistency that he displayed in both public and private life. He will be greatly missed.

Rest in peace Tony.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Allocutio by Fr. Frans

The word Jesus 'exclaimed' - 'exclaiming' used in the Gospel shows a special excitement of Jesus. We can imagine how Jesus is excited to see how the Gospel works to tranform the people who hears it. This message is still relevant for us today, the message of the Gospel, that we have already had within us, is to bring about the changes in life, changes in the world, to bring the Kingdom of God.

Today's (Thursday's) Gospel reminds us to live as a children of God, with great simplicity and joy. Most of the time we need not to carry 'that much'. We need not to be weary, just simply and humbly ask for forgivenes and come to the Father. As Legionaries, we are to do our works with enthusiasm. Don't be afraid to face those who seem neglecting our enthusiasm. Jesus' and Mary's presence have made difference in our life. It is such a big treasure to be treasured in the whole of our life! Don't go weary. Imagine that God is an immense energy, like a huge sea and each of us is a drop of water. Let's put our burden on Him, the Immensity. Reflects on the immense energy in that drop of water and we can always do much more than we can imagine.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Today I was in the English communication class for the freshmen, as student assistant to help the teacher. One of the session was learning English through songs, as to reflects and share. Here is one of the songs that the teacher shared with us, she is a Christian. We were discussion some possibilities in which this song may be applicable. Yes, we mentioned parents, friends, best friends, teachers, and.... (even though most of them are free thinkers - we just can't not mention the ultimate Love.. G.O.D). This song has a beautiful meaning by itself, but I find it even more beautiful when we see it through our Faith :)


Love, love changes everything
Hands and faces, earth and sky
Love, love changes everything
How you live and how you die
Love, can make the summer fly
Or a night seem like a lifetime
Yes love, love changes everything
Now I tremble at your name
Nothing in the world will ever be the same

Love, love changes everything
Days are longer, words mean more
Love, love changes everything
Pain is deeper than before
Love will turn your world around
And that world will last forever
Yes love, love changes everything
Brings you glory, brings you shame
Nothing in the world will ever be the same

Off into the world we go P
lanning futures, shaping years
Love (comes in) and suddenly all our wisdom disappears
Love makes fools of everyone
All the rules we made are broken
Yes love, love changes everyone
Live or perish in its flame
Love will never never let you be the same
Love will never never let you be the same

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Legion Prayer

I've promised to post this for a while... hope it's not too late! This is a sharing on the Legion Prayer - my favourite prayer - which us auxies say everyday with much fervour and joy =)

We fly to your patronage,
O Holy Mother of God;
Despise not our prayers in our necessities,
But ever deliver us from all dangers,
O glorious and blessed Virgin.

(Invocation appropriate to praesidium)
Pray for us.

On all occasions other than praesidium meetings the invocation to be used by all members will be: –

This prayer has a rich tradition spanning more than 1,700 years – it is the earliest known prayer/hymn to our Lady, and has been found in a Coptic Orthodox Christmas liturgy dating to A.D. 250. When we utter this humble prayer wholeheartedly, we join ourselves with Marian Christians from antiquity in placing our trust in her marvellous patronage.

Incidentally, the title of this prayer in Latin is “Sub Tuum Praesidium” (lit. “beneath thy compassion”) which should ring familiar for us Legionaries! Here, we remember the Marian title we raise in honour of our Lady, which also serves to name our various praesidia.

Mary Immaculate,
Mediatrix of all Graces.
Pray for us.

This title, also portrayed in sculpted form through the statue of Mary used during Legion meetings, presents our Queen and General in her spectacular Christian persona: sinless, faithful, obedient – and thus made worthy to confer all of God’s graces upon us.

St. Michael and St. Gabriel.
Pray for us.

Protector and Messenger, “champions and princes, leaders of the heavenly army, captains of the angels, servants of the divine glory, guardians and guides of human creatures.”

All you Heavenly Powers,
Mary’s Legion of Angels.
Pray for us.

“Every legionary, active and auxiliary, has a guardian angel who fights blow for blow at his or her side.” We are not alone in our campaigns, and our earthly Legions only represent half the total strength! Let us march on in faith and perseverance like our guardian angels.

St. John the Baptist.
Pray for us.

The “First Recruit” of the Legion, employed by the General herself during the Visitation, the Baptist is a model legionary, exemplary in all his methods and mannerisms – even for this age.

Sts. Peter and Paul.
Pray for us.

Princes of the apostles, forefathers of our Christian faith, stewards of our precious doctrines, fervent guides of all Christians, tireless martyrs of the proto-church, living witnesses of Christ.

Confer, O Lord, on us,
Who serve beneath the standard of Mary,
That Fullness of Faith in You and Trust in her,
To which it is given to Conquer the World.

This is a prayer of petition, imploring our Saviour to grant this Gift of Faith to us, through the Graces of His Blessed Mother Mary who leads us through her most perfect example. We ask not just for a generic faith, but the fullness of Christian belief, an utter and inseparable bond with God, with complete confidence in Mary’s intercession and love for her children – this level of personal sanctification only for the purpose of conquering the world in Christ’s name.

The next 3 lines elaborate on some particular aspects of our faith which our founders have found pertinent to the ministry – I believe we could be inspired by this prayer format to create further prayers for others.

Grant us a Lively Faith, animated by Charity,
Which would Enable us to perform all our Actions
From the motive of Pure Love of You,
And ever to See You and Serve You in our Neighbour;

First on the list is liveliness – a faith to be lived out – fuelled by generous, giving love, so that all we do can flow forth from that profound connection with Christ’s earthly ministry. This, which we ask in humility, we hope will help us to accomplish one of our most important standing instructions.

This line always reminds me to pour more love in everything I do, to be more aware of the times I have held back, to ponder how to better express my love for Christ through bringing him to others.

A Faith, Firm and Immovable as a Rock,
Through which we shall rest Steadfast and Tranquil
Amid the Crosses, Toils and Disappointments of Life;

Next, we ask for firmness – to stand tall even as the world changes all around us, even as persecution, trials and failure besiege us relentlessly.

Here I always remember the times obstacles challenged my resolve, and whether I was able to connect it with the Cross of Christ. If I had fallen under its weight, could I climb back up with faith?

A Courageous Faith which will Inspire us
To Undertake and Carry Out, without Hesitation,
Great Things for Your Glory and for the Salvation of Souls;

Thirdly, a quality to move us: courage – for the sole purpose of advancing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, whether through small acts in the background or bigger ones in the open, in a manner so confident of our union with Christ and Mary as to negate all hesitation.

For me, hesitation is always a major concern. I would recall the times I doubted myself, and especially the times I doubted others. Was it necessary to ‘undertake’ (i.e. plan) further? Were my doubts merely obstacles? Do they glorify God?

A Faith which will be our Legion's Pillar of Fire:
- To Lead us forth United,
- To Kindle everywhere the Fires of Divine Love,
- To Enlighten those who are in Darkness and in the Shadow of Death,
- To Inflame those who are Lukewarm,
- To bring back Life to those who are dead in Sin,
And which will guide our own feet in the Way of Peace;

The Pillar of Fire alludes to the Exodus, when God led His people unequivocally and visibly, so we may remember His presence even as the world becomes increasingly fixated on the non-spiritual. The five points elaborate how we hope His Real leadership will manifest in our ministry – uniting, initiating, enlightening, refuelling, and resurrecting – so that we can march on with peace in His footsteps.

I tend to see these Five points as a checklist of actions – having received the gift of faith, these Five would follow. I offer up the times I have managed a glimpse of any instance of the Five, and I also offer up the times I failed, so I may be given a second chance.

So that, the Battle of Life over,
Our Legion may reassemble,
Without the loss of anyone,
In the Kingdom of Your Love and Glory.

“Once a Legionary, always a Legionary”, even unto death! The spirit of the Legion always looks ahead, full of hope, ever striving to reach Christ through Mary. With such an end in mind, we are strengthened and consoled!

Here I offer up the praesidia which I have had the honour of working with, along with the legionaries I can recall, especially those facing troubles.

May the souls of our departed legionaries,
And the souls of all the faithful departed,
Through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Having considered the future, the end times, we accept our mortality and the mortality of those who have returned to God before us. But we remain certain of the Father’s promise of eternal life in peace, as certain as the memories of the glorious dead which we share.

Here I recall the famous legionaries and those who have recently passed away, and I lift them up to the Father’s capable hands.

Then follows immediately the blessing of the priest.

The priestly blessing is enriched by the priest’s personal sanctification and prayers, a life consecrated to serving God and His people – and as such, his blessing is always strongly desired by the lay faithful who are faced with the temptations of secular life. Has your spiritual director been left out of late?

Yup, that's the long and short of it! Would you like to join us auxies in praying this most remarkable prayer everyday? You are most certainly welcome to try! In the meantime, I hope you guys would try saying the prayer a bit slower - I know at the end of meeting everybody just wants go off yea? - but don't let these fantastic words fly right through! It would be good if you could meditate on at least one stanza of the Legion Prayer every meeting: it would serve you well in your daily work!

love, gerg

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Tomorrow is the feast day of Our Lady of mount Carmel..
Here is a story about it


According to the most ancient Carmelite chronicles, the Order has its origins with the disciples of the prophets Elias and Eliseus. They lived in caves on Mount Carmel. They honored the Queen of Heaven as the Virgin who is to give birth to the Saviour. When the reality replaced the symbol, the pious ascetics of Carmel were converted to the Christian Faith. In the 12th century, many pilgrims from Europe who had followed the Crusaders came to join the solitaries. A rule was established and the Order began to spread to Europe.
Amid the many persecutions raised against the Order of Mount Carmel, newly arrived in Europe, Saint Simon Stock, General of the Order, turned with filial confidence to the Blessed Mother of God. As he knelt in prayer on July 16, 1251, in the White Friars’ convent at Cambridge, She appeared before him and presented him with the well-known brown scapular, a loose sleeveless garment destined for the Order of Carmel, reaching from the shoulders to the knees. It was given as an assurance, for all who died wearing it, of Her heavenly protection from eternal death. An extraordinary promise indeed, but one requiring a life of prayer and sacrifice.
Devotion to the blessed habit spread quickly throughout the Christian world. Pope after Pope enriched it with indulgences, and innumerable miracles put their seal upon its efficacy. The first of them was worked at Winchester on a man dying in despair, who when the scapular was laid upon him by Saint Simon Stock at once asked for the Sacraments.
In the year 1636, a certain gentleman, member of a cavalry regiment, was mortally wounded at the battle of Tehin, a bullet having lodged near his heart. He was then in a state of grievous sin, but he had time to make his confession. Afterwards a surgeon probed his wound, and the bullet was found to have driven his scapular into his heart. When it had been withdrawn he soon expired, making profound acts of gratitude to the Blessed Virgin who had prolonged his life miraculously, thereby preserving him from the irremediable death of his soul.
At Lourdes in 1858, the Virgin chose to make Her last apparition on July 16th, feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the day the Church commemorates Her apparition to Saint Simon Stock. And at Fatima on October 13, 1917, it is as Our Lady of Mount Carmel that Mary appeared when She said farewell to the three children. Throughout the ages, the Queen of Carmel has always kept a faithful watch over the destinies of Her cherished children on earth.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cancer's Unexpected Blessings - When you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change

Commentator and broadcaster Tony Snow announced that he had colon cancer in 2005. Following surgery and chemo-therapy, Snow joined the Bush administration in April 2006 as press secretary. Unfortunately, on March 23 Snow, 51, a husband and father of three, announced that the cancer had recurred, with tumors found in his abdomen—leading to surgery in April, followed by more chemotherapy. Snow went back to work in the White House Briefing Room on May 30, but resigned August 31. CT asked Snow what spiritual lessons he has been learning through the ordeal.

Blessings arrive in unexpected packages—in my case, cancer.

Those of us with potentially fatal diseases—and there are millions in America today—find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.

The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the why questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.

I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is—a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.

But despite this—because of it—God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.

To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life—and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts—an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live—fully, richly, exuberantly—no matter how their days may be numbered.

Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease—smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see—but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension—and yet don't. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.

'You Have Been Called'

Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. "It's cancer," the healer announces.

The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. "Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler." But another voice whispers: "You have been called." Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter—and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our "normal time."

There's another kind of response, although usually short-lived—an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tinny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.

The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing though the known world and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.

There's nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue—for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do.

Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.

We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us—that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God's love for others. Sickness gets us partway there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two people's worries and fears.

Learning How to Live

Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God's arms not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power and authority of love.

I sat by my best friend's bedside a few years ago as a wasting cancer took him away. He kept at his table a worn Bible and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. A shattering grief disabled his family, many of his old friends, and at least one priest. Here was a humble and very good guy, someone who apologized when he winced with pain because he thought it made his guest uncomfortable. He retained his equanimity and good humor literally until his last conscious moment. "I'm going to try to beat [this cancer]," he told me several months before he died. "But if I don't, I'll see you on the other side."

His gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn't promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity—filled with life and love we cannot comprehend—and that one can in the throes of sickness point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms.

Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?

When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it.

It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up—to speak of us!

This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.

What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don't know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place—in the hollow of God's hand.

From Christianity Today

Tony Snow: 1955-2008

Tony Snow (Robert Anthony Snow), the former White House Press Secretary and conservative writer and broadcaster who was a founding member of the Fox News Channel on television has died of colon cancer at age 53. Sadly, after Tim Russert's death, Tony Snow's passing marks the second time in just two months that a young, dynamic Roman Catholic newsman has passed away.

He too, from what I read, did not shy away from his Catholic roots and the teachings and guidance of the Church. One thing that was striking is how he called his cancer a blessing

Here's an tribute to Tony Snow from Catholic Online. Let's keep him and his family in our prayers.

Tony Snow


Tony Snow Dead at 53, A Tribute to a Catholic Journalist
By Deacon Keith Fournier

"It’s trendy to reject religious reflection as a grave offense against decency. That’s not only cowardly. That’s false. Faith and reason are knitted together in the human soul. So don’t leave home without either one."

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) – Tony Snow, whose Catholic faith, superb communication skills, and work ethic propelled him to prominence in the world of media, journalism and communications, has died after his courageous battle with colon cancer.

Honored by the Catholic University of America in May of 2007, Tony Snow gave the crowd which gathered for the 118th Annual Commencement Address: "Reason, Faith, and Vocation" much to ponder.

The title summed up his efforts to integrate his faith, his commitment to marriage and family, his political and policy convictions and a career of communications.

It was also characteristically blunt and practical while rising at times to the level of inspired insight. That was Tony Snow’s gift of communications. He used it throughout a career which was accompanied by earning the respect of his peers, even if they disagreed with his positions.

Robert Anthony “Tony” Snow was born on June 1, 1955. He earned a bachelors degree in philosophy and taught in Kenya before deciding on a career as a journalist. He married his beloved wife, Jill Ellen Walker in 1987 and they have three children, Robbie, Kendell and Christie.

Probably known most nationally for the last assignment of a memorable journalistic career, his brief stint as White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow has been a fixture in “conservative” politics and policy circles for many years.

He was a very popular syndicated columnist, an editor, one of the most popular personalities on the Fox television network, where he anchored “Fox News Sunday” and a radio host. His career spanned thirty years.

The President of the United States, George Bush, released a statement on Snow’s death in which he said: "Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of our dear friend, Tony Snow. The Snow family has lost a beloved husband and father. And America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character."

As tributes to this fine man pour in from all over the world, Catholic Online offers our prayers to his family and our deepest condolences on their loss. Tony Snow’s heroism in fighting cancer was another sign of the character which informed his stellar career as well as his commitment to family.

In his address to the graduates of Catholic University he spoke these words:

“Heed the counsel of your elders, including your parents. I guarantee you, they have made some howling mistakes if, like me, they were in college in the ’70s and ’80s. They probably haven’t owned up to them, but they might now, because they want to protect you. You see, they know that you are leaving the nest. And now that you’re leaving the nest, predators soon will begin to circle.

"Some are going to try to take your money, but the really clever ones are going to tempt you to throw your life away. They’ll appeal to your pride and vanity – or worse, to your moral ambition. After all, there’s nothing more subversive than the offer to become a saint. So think things through.

"Be patient. If somebody tries to give you a hard sell, you know they’re peddling snake oil; don’t buy it. If something’s not worth pondering, it is certainly not worth doing. And if your gut tells you something’s fishy, trust your gut.

"You know, hucksters perform an unintended service. Like everybody here, I’m sure you’ve all been conned. I am such a sucker that I get conned all the time. What happens is they make you look in the mirror and assess honestly the person on the other side.

"Now all of us love to delude ourselves, making excuses. But you know, the more we resist being honest and doing an honest evaluation, the sillier we behave. If you don’t believe it, think of any swinger you have ever seen in your life. Socrates was right: Know thyself.

But see, there’s more. Once you’ve gotten past the mirror phase, then things begin to get really interesting. You begin to confront the truly overwhelming question: Why am I here? And that begins to open up the whole universe, because it impels you to think like the child staring out at the starry night: “Who put the lights in the sky? Who put me here? Why?”

And pretty soon you are thinking about God. Don’t shrink from pondering God’s role in the universe or Christ’s. You see, it’s trendy to reject religious reflection as a grave offense against decency. That’s not only cowardly. That’s false. Faith and reason are knitted together in the human soul. So don’t leave home without either one.

... Think not only of what it means to love but what it means to be loved. I have a lot of experience with that. Since the news that I have cancer again, I have heard from thousands and thousands of people and I have been the subject of untold prayers. I’m telling you right now: You’re young [and you feel] bullet-proof and invincible.

[But] never underestimate the power of other people’s love and prayer. They have incredible power. It’s as if I’ve been carried on the shoulders of an entire army. And they had made me weightless. The soldiers in the army just wanted to do a nice thing for somebody. As I mentioned, a lot of people — everybody out here — wants to do that same thing.”

The manner and the message showed the mettle of the man.

In that address he also spoke of his sincere faith:

“When it comes to faith, I’ve taken my own journey. You will have to take your own. But here’s what I know. Faith is as natural as the air we breathe. Religion is not an opiate, just the opposite. It is the introduction to the ultimate extreme sport. There is nothing that you can imagine that God cannot trump.

As Paul said “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And once you realize that there is something greater than you out there, and then you have to decide, “Do I acknowledge it and do I act upon it?” You have to at some point surrender yourself. And there is nothing worthwhile in your life that will not at some point require an act of submission.”

We join our prayers to those of his family, friends and colleagues the world over:

“Eternal Rest grant unto him Oh Lord, and may his soul and the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace, Amen”

Saturday, July 12, 2008

When you see 'fear' in different perspective

Again, I was at Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Church (Yes, Lloyd! This time I saw you :P, so I expect you to elaborate this since I can only do a quick share for now..) and Fr Suyono's homily was interesting... :)

We heard the story about the prophet Isaiah (= God's salvation) in the first reading, and his calling to spread God's salvation among the people. He was married but God's called him to spread the Good News further, beyond his comfort zone. Well, just as what we will normally feel if we are asked to do something 'beyond' which may not be the same as what we want to do, Isaiah does feel the fear, unworthy, sinful,.. But he abandon himself on God's Will and.. here he goes, beyond, and became one of the greatest prophets.

Father was sharing to see fear in different perspective, so that it can be our tools to share God's salvation instead of become our obstacles to do so:
F - Freeing (from earthly attachment, false humility,.. )
E - Empowered (by God's grace)
A- Abandonment (? - I hope I remembered this correctly, Lloyd and Dom, correct me if I'm wrong)
R- Reconciliation (to bring peace and reconciliation among us)

This was God's calling for everyone, lay people, married, religious, legionaries, you, and me, to spread His salvation, to be generous to Him.

With these meanings, 'fear' is no longer frightening, isn't it : ) ?

God bless!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Prayer of Thomas Merton

I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you....

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Crossing the Tiber

I just read an interesting article. You might know that the Church of England is undergoing extreme internal division over issues like the consecration of women as bishops.
The more traditional Anglicans are quite appalled at the way things are going in the church. Here's an article about two bishops wishing to lead their flock to the Catholic Church as a result of what's going on in his own church. It's very interesting how he humbly requests the Holy Father, the Successor of Peter for a magnanimous gesture. Let's pray for them.

[Church of England] bishop will lead Anglicans to Rome
Tuesday, July 8, 2008, 04:30 PM GMT

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, is to lead his fellow Anglo-Catholics from the Church of England into the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Herald will reveal this week.

Bishop Burnham, one of two "flying bishops" in the province of Canterbury, has made a statement asking Pope Benedict XVI and the English Catholic bishops for "magnanimous gestures" that will allow traditionalists to become Catholics en masse.

He is confident that this will happen, following talks in Rome with Cardinal Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Kasper, the Vatican’s head of ecumenism. He was accompanied on his visit by the Rt Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough, the other Canterbury "flying bishop", who is expected to follow his example.

Bishop Burnham hopes that Rome will offer special arrangements whereby former Anglicans can stay worshipping in parishes under the guidance of a Catholic bishop. Most of these parishes already use the Roman liturgy, but there may be provision for Anglican prayers if churches request it.

Anglican priests who are already married will not be barred from ordination as priests, though Bishop Burnham would not be able to continue in episcopal orders, as he is married and there is an absolute bar on married bishops in the Roman and Orthodox Churches.

In his statement, Bishop Burnham explains why he is rejecting the code of practice offered to traditionalists by the General Synod last night. "How could we trust a code of practice to deliver a workable ecclesiology if every suggestion we have made for our inclusion has been turned down flat?" he asks.

"How could we trust a code of practice when those who are offering it include those who have done most to undermine and seek to revoke the code of practice in force for these last 14 years? ...

"What we must humbly ask for now is for magnanimous gestures from our Catholic friends, especially from the Holy Father, who well understands our longing for unity, and from the hierarchy of England and Wales. Most of all we ask for ways that allow us to bring our folk with us."

Via Fr Z

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Sleeping Giant..

I was at Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Church today, and found that this part from Fr Anthony's homily was interesting.

Have we ever realized that we, Catholics are like the sleeping giant? In terms of number, most probably, we are the biggest in number - even more, also counting our fellow Christians brothers and sisters. Nowadays, most people will be saying that we are living in a hostile, impolite world. World which fulls with sufferings, criminals, competitions, lack of charity.. Just imagine if each one of us tries to live our Christian Faith faithfully, what a change that we can make to the world? Isn't it such a big power if everyone make a little effort (oh well, hopefully bigger effort) to live the Christianity more?
Coincidentally (or by Providence), was kind of talking about the butterflies theory with Ferdinand, Dom, and Evan over dinner. Theory which says that something that you do, even a slightest thing, can affect others and cause a bigger thing.

Who knows our little effort to make a smile will brighten up someone's day? Or a small saying to remind someone that God loves them will stop them from being despair?

So, shall we wake this sleeping giant up :P ?


Duty and devotion

Paul once reminded some of us about the concept of 'duty before devotion' that the Legion espouses. This might seem confusing to some if we take it to mean that our work comes before our prayer-life. This obviously can't be true since we are always called to place God first in our lives.

I would suppose that the phrase critizes excessive devotion to the detriment of our duties. For example spending our entire day in prayer and spiritual pursuits while neglecting our studies (which is our duty as students) and our obligations to our brothers and sisters is wrong.
This tallies well with something St James tells us: "Show me your faith without any actions, and I will show you my faith by my actions." (Jas 2:18)

But the point I'm trying to draw is based on Chapter 11, Point 1 of the Handbook.
This tells us that personal holiness is both the object and the means of our Legionary lives.

Personal holiness could be taken to mean abiding in Christ: being in union with God.

The Handbook tells us that this holiness is our object: our duty as Legionaries is to promote holiness in our own members and in those whom we meet.

Holiness is also the means with which we are able to carry out our service fruitfully because Christ said "I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me, and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5). Without him our works will bear no fruits.

Thus, while it is true that duty comes before devotion, we cannot carry out our duties well without piety and holiness - giving God what is His due.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Photos! BBQ at Sharon's

Hello! Here are the photos I took of the BBQ last night. Many thanks to Sharon for hosting us and for the others, who did all the preparation. It was great fun. I loved the cheeeeeese.
Let's meet up again soon. Also, can we try to get together more often during term time? Nothing elaborate...just lunch once in a while.

Legion BBQ at Sharon's

A Date with the Lord

I came 45 minutes early for mass at my parish, so I was reading my Legion handbook while waiting for my choir-mates to come and for mass to start. Incidentally, a local Legionary who was also early for Legion meeting glanced upon the little red book I was holding and, after taking a moment to realize what it was, excitedly asked me, "Hey, you're Legion too?" That was the start of a memorable ten-minute conversation with the Legionary named Ed, my first official contact with the Legion in my parish here in Manila.

We talked about the usual things - our devotion, contact work, and other experiences in the Legion. He mentioned something which struck me: once, during one of his house visitations in the neighborhood, he came across a born-again Christian with a lot of questions. He told her he was no expert on doctrine because he wasn't a priest, but he did encourage her to go for mass. He advised her to imagine Mother Mary walking beside her each time she walks to attend mass, and to imagine having a date with Jesus who was waiting for her in the church. Wow. I was blown off by that thought! How beautiful it is to attend mass with this in mind - not even the strongest of winds or heaviest of rains could bring down one's fervor and one's eagerness to meet a loved one on a date, let alone to meet our Ultimate Lover at mass! And to have Mary bringing you to Her Son!

True enough, I found these lines on the Legion handbook:

"Her motherhood is particularly noted and experienced by the Christian people at the Sacred Banquet - the liturgical celebration of the mystery of the Redemption - at which Christ, his true body born of the Virgin Mary, becomes present.
The piety of the Christian people has always very rightly sensed a profound link between devotion to the Blessed Virgin and worship of the Eucharist: ... Mary guides the faithful to the Eucharist." (RMat 44) - Pt. 3, Chapter 8: The Legionary and the Eucharist

By the way, that born-again Christian eventually got baptised into the Catholic Church. It's always amazing how the Legion works through the ordinariness of its members. And thanks to my encounter with Ed, I was able to participate mass with a new sense of enthusiasm and purpose today - the beginning of many exciting dates with the Lord to look forward to.

Was Jesus' mother Mary divine or just human?

I just did an article submission for the topic above in a debate. You can see it here. :)


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Legionary Service: Allocutio by Sister Therese - 3 July 2008

When the great persecutor of Christians was thrown to the ground, he heard those words: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” These are the words which utter the doctrine of the ‘Mystical Body of Christ’ and it is on this doctrine that the legionary service is based upon.

The fruit of His Passion which brings about the Redemption is only made possible because the Head together with the Church form a single mystical person, such that the crowning of the Head which teaches forgiveness results in the redeeming act showered on all the faithful. He who teaches forgiveness suffered injustice. Yet the injustifiable death reconciled mankind to the Father and transcended life to us. Thence, if justice is to be upheld, is it then an absolute necessity to resort to the punishment that negates a transcended life and a transcendent dignity?

In the Handbook, it is mentioned that the special function of legionaries in the Mystical Body is to guide, console and enlighten others. It is further stated that this function can only be discharged adequately with the understanding of the ‘Mystical Body of Christ’.

The late Pope John Paul II in his encyclical ‘The Gospel of Life’ emphasized: “The life which God bestows upon man is much more than mere existence in time. It is a drive towards fullness of life; it is the seed of an existence which transcends the very limits of time: "For God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity" (Wis 2:23).”

Frank Duff described our Mother performing the role of the heart in the Mystical Body. She sends the blood of Christ coursing through the veins and arteries of the Mystical Body, bringing life and growth with it. The sacred heart of Christ leads this Body, a body less than perfect but through His grace is being mediated by her Immaculate Heart. A legionary service which mirrors this doctrine calls us to forgive the imperfections of the body and commands us to love every part of Her regardless of its significance.

In Evangelium Vitae, “the deepest element of God's commandment to protect human life is the requirement to show reverence and love for every person and the life of every person. This is the teaching which the Apostle Paul, echoing the words of Jesus, addresses to the Christians in Rome: "The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet', and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom 13:9-10).”

The transformation of Saul to Paul is an epitome of God’s magnanimity and His willingness to forgive. St John Eudes imagined us to be like the Christs upon earth to continue his life and actions. Thus, let us guide the precious souls we encounter to the Light, comfort those who are afflicted and preach Evangelium Vitae to enlighten those who are dead in sin.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Legion in Korea: not just for old ladies

Fr Zuhlsdorf usually has very interesting commentaries on liturgy and other Church issues. He's an ardent admirer of the Tridentine Latin Mass. However I found what he implied in one post going a bit too far:

John Carmel Cardinal Heenan apparently said this after attending the first demonstration of the Novus Ordo.

"At home it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday in the Sistine Chapel we would soon be left with a congregation mostly of women and children."

I scrolled down the comments and many where suggesting that the Cardinal was right and that the Novus Ordo Mass is somehow responsible for the decline in the participation of men in Church.

However, here's something elseI came across.

South Korea, where I currently make my home, unfortunately does not have the forma extraordinaria celebrated anywhere in the country, apart from the SSPX chapel in Seoul. The Mass, though, is celebrated with great devotion and reverence. Korean Catholicism, though, has not become emasculated. Indeed, some of the most active parishioners are men.

In my old parish in Gwangju (I now live in Seoul), we had many Legion of Mary groups, many of whom had quite a few men involved. I once attended a Mass at Seoul’s Cathedral where Legion of Mary groups from across the archdiocese were participating. So many men and women were there, many of them young. The Legion of Mary isn’t just a group for old ladies here.

Yay! :)

Mary's sacrifice

Man for man: Maid for maid: Tree for tree
Chapter 39: Cardinal Points of the Legion Apostolate

Whenever we think of Our Lady as the Co-Redemptress in Salvation, our minds usually wander back to the moment of the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel delivered God’s message to a young woman. God’s plan of salvation was put into action when she said yes. Be it done to me according to Thy Word.

But beyond the conception and birth of Christ, Our Mother also served as Co-Redemptress at the foot of the cross. I can only imagine the grief that Our Lady suffered. To live your whole life taking care of your only son, devoting all your waking moments to that one child, only to have him wrenched away from you.

Yet in the end, she denied nothing from God. She gave Him all she had. Her Son. And just like in the Annunciation, Mary replied with a “Yes” in Calvary, and the whole world was redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood.

"For as truly as she suffered and almost died with her suffering Son"-these are the words of Pope Benedict XV -"so truly did she renounce her maternal rights over that Son for the sake of our salvation, and immolate him, as far as with her lay, to placate God's justice. Hence it may justly be said that with Christ she redeemed the human race."

If you love someone, you love him, and when you have nothing else to give, you still gave him love. - Nineteen Eighty-Four

The Mystical Home of Nazareth

Reading the word 'home', the next word comes to my mind is 'family'.

As some of us have said in the previous blogs, I do think that the Legion has been more like a family than just a society. I think the word ‘family’ is very unique. It always refers to plural meaning, to the communion of people, yet it also reflects unity, its oneness in something that makes them can be called as family.

So are we, the Praesidium doesn’t refer to a single person (even our God is Trinitarian God), but we that form the Praesidium. Thus we have a different ability, strength, and weakness that have to complement each other. And what else can be more beautiful to unity us than to be united in Christ through Mary? Here is one image from the Handbook that I particularly like:

“A coloured glass will transmit only its own shade of light, obstructing all the other shades. But when glasses of all the different colours jointly project their shades, these unite to make the fullness of light. Similarly, when Christians in some number combine for the purposes of the Lord, their qualities supplementing each other, he is enabled through them to manifest his perfection and his power more fully.
So, when legionaries gather together in the praesidium in his name and for his work, he is present in that potent way; it has been made evident that power goes out from him there. (Mk 5:30)”

Just as a family will always have home, so are we as legionaries. Our home is to be the projection of the mystical home of Nazareth.

What make a place can be called as home? Sometimes it is not necessarily to be the place where we were born, or the place where we stay longest, sometimes there are some places that we can feel at home, comfortable to stay and live…Maybe because we are just familiar with it, or since we feel the family relationship so strong there, the atmosphere, or the love,… No other best way than learning from the Holy Family how they take care of their Holy Home…

“Also with Jesus in that little Legion family are his Mother and St. Joseph, who have towards the praesidium the same relation that they had to him; which permits us to look on the praesidium as a projection of the Home of Nazareth, and this not as a mere devotional exercise but as something based on reality. "We are obliged," says BĂ©rulle, "to treat the things and mysteries of Jesus not as things past and dead, but as things living and present and even eternal." Likewise we may piously identify the premises and equipment of the praesidium with the fabric and the furniture of the Holy House, and we may regard the behaviour of the legionaries towards those adjuncts of the praesidium as a test of their appreciation of the truth that Christ lives in us and works through us, necessarily availing of the things that we are utilising.
This thought provides a sweet and compelling motive for a bestowing of a careful attention upon the things that surround the praesidium and form its home.”

Let’s imagine how our Lady takes care of the Home. It may be far from elaborate, but full of refinement and is the most beautiful home ever. She – with St. Joseph also of course- must have take care each little thing so to allow her Son to begin the work of redemption. So are we, imitating our Lady, as to prepare a good home for our Lord to co-operate with His works of redemption. Maintaining a good home also reflects the love within the family. From the little thing, the Handbook starts by mentioning to take care the accessories we use in the meetings, the cheerfulness, the spirit (to work as a family rather than individuals – imagine parents who do not know what are their children pursuing now… - ), the love, so as to make those staying in that home (the members) and thus visiting the home (our contacts, visitors), may feel at home, just as our Father always draw His children back to be united with Him here on earth, and later in our Home - Heaven.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Candles offered up in devotion

It's been a long time since I blogged, but while thinking of how exactly I was to share what I wanted to share, I was stunned for awhile, not quite knowing how to start...being in the legion demands a strong devotion to Mother Mary, but to me devotion to our Lord and to our Lady has always been an extremely personal thing...something that I don't quite feel comfortable talking about to friends unless the subject comes up, spreading the gospel message and all is also part of the work of the legion, and yet sometimes I am tongue-tied...but deep down inside I know how essential it is for the legionary to never "give up" and continue trying anyway, and how better than to begin first through developing a love for our Lady. I guess when one is in love, then one cannot help but talk about all things good about one's lover, and I guess to me it is only when one is truly deeply in love with Christ and our Mother Mary that then the spirit can work within us and inspire our work as legionaries as well.

According to Chapter 5 of the legionary handbook, it encourages legionaries to have a "Devotional Outlook" - I always thought that it was important during cellgroup sessions in CSS to start and end with a prayer, and in the Legion the beginning and ending of the meetings with prayer that reminds us that Mary is mediatrix of all graces, and with the rosary, the catena etc. is something that I think slowly develops a stronger sense of devotion in each and every legionary...and also one of the reasons why I was drawn to get to know more about the Legion of Mary at first, being known as the "Rosary group" might be a misconception, but it's not necessarily a bad thing! I also thought that it was sweet to acknowledge the presence of Mother Mary in the room during the meetings, always starting the reports of the week with "Good evening Mother Mary," then "and brothers and sisters", and how important it is to remember that she is always there watching over us as we go about our daily work. Alone, I don't think I could manage anything at all! But the thought of our Lady being there with us through everything gives the confidence, like how a child learning to take one's first steps is gently guided by the hand of a loving and gentle mother.

Being away in France and visiting so many churches that are named after Our Lady, every other church in France in every little countryside town is a "Notre-Dame", reminds one that devotion towards our Lady is still very much alive! But exactly how active anymore, I wasn't sure...throughout my journey in France I was constantly reminded by my other 3 Catholic companions that France is becoming an increasingly secular country that is PROUD to be secular...
but during the Sunday masses, the churches are still filled with people. I'd like to be optimistic and think that the need to know that Jesus is still our savior and to feel the love of Christ through the Eucharistic celebration is still what is pulling Catholics back to church. At every church, even the tiniest village ones, there are still many many blazing candles that are offered up to our Lord and to Mother Mary as well, prayers of many believers who are seeking miracles, or seeking to know God better, or praying for their loved ones...that is most inspiring, that devotion towards Christ and Mother Mary will never flicker out, candles are being continuously lit, especially in this present age of increasing secularism, of wars, of divorce and a milion and one other things that causes people to hurt, one NEEDS hope.

In the legion handbook, on page 23, point 6, is the subtitle "If Mary were but Known!", "The argument of Father Faber is that Mary is not half enough known or loved, with sad results for souls", followed by point 7, "If devotion to Mary will work such wonders, then the great purpose must be to bring that instrument to bear, to bring Mary to the world." Indeed, I think that through Mother Mary people get to grow closer to God, I think that the number of converts that first came to know more about the faith through attending Novena at Novena church is testament to that...there's also that strange syndrome that sometimes where inviting friends to attend a half hour Novena on Saturdays is less daunting that asking for a non/lapsed-Catholic to try participating in a full Sunday mass...
But anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I like how the handbook emphasises in point 7 that devotion to Mary will work such wonders, and that it is through a lay apostolic organisation, like the legion, that such is possible, because it is through loving Mary, that we get to know our Mother better, that we get to know how to love better, and also learn to "involve the hearts of all others in that love; utilising all its avenus of action to fulfil this purpose" - of learning how to love, with the heart of Mary.

Hundreds of people at the evening procession at Lourdes

It's fruits are intense idealism and action

I'm in the process of reading Chapter 10 of the Handbook. Here's what point six had to say:

Again, the Church by exhibiting only a cautious routine would place the Truth, of which it is the custodian, in a very disadvantageous setting. If the young once form the habit of looking to purely worldly or even irreligious systems for the active idealism for which generous natures crave, a terrible harm has been done, for which future generations will pay.

When I read this, my first thought was to examine the Church and think, yes the Church should be providing the youth with means to channel their idealism. Otherwise the situation will continue to be that young people who are brimming with idealism, who want to change the world will look for ways outside the Church and even consider the Church a barrier to their goals. They'll be drawn to men like Senator Barack Obama who, in addition to portraying himself as a messenger of change and idealism, also seems to believe that it is bitter people who cling to religion.

In short, I thought the Church could be doing more.

Here the Legion can aid by making its programme one of enterprise and effort and sacrifice, such as will help to capture for the Church those two words "idealism" and "action," making them handmaids of the Church's doctrine.

On reading these next few lines I realized: we are the Church! And more interestingly, the Legion of Mary is part of the Church that I was just thinking could be doing more. We are specifically to be the part of a Church that provides great avenues for expressing one's idealism.

It reminded me of the danger of looking to see what the Church can give me, when I should be part of the Church's effort to give to others.

It also brought home the fact that as a Legionary we are very much in the centre of the Church's work. We are cooperatores veritatis, "co-workers of the truth", along with the Holy Father (whose motto this is), bishops, priests, and active Catholics everywhere. We are part of the effort!

Finally, I do see a lot of idealism in the Legionaries at NUS: real yearning to change how things are done - in the world and even in the Legion (changes to make Legionaries live more in accordance with the Legion system).
I think this is a gift and something that should not be allowed to die off. Let's not, as time goes by, become cynical about the world. Let's believe we can make a difference wherever we are and that no problem, no injustice, no wrong, is too big that we give up trying to correct it.

"It is a moral force, not a material, which will vindicate your profession and secure your triumph. It is not giants who do most. How small was the Holy Land! Yet it subdued the world. How poor a spot was Attica! Yet it has formed the intellect. Moses was one, Elias was one, David was one, Paul was one, Athanasius was one, Leo was one. Grace ever works by few; it is the keen vision, the intense conviction, the indomitable resolve of the few, it is the blood of the martyr, it is the prayer of the saint, it is the heroic deed, it is the momentary crisis, it is the concentrated energy of a word, or a look, which is the instrument of heaven. Fear not, little flock, for he is mighty who is in the midst of you, and he will do for you great things." (Cardinal Newman: Present Position of Catholics)


This is really heavenly!

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
ad te clamamus
exsules filii Hevae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.