Friday, November 26, 2004

Family of God

Our God is the only God who is a family of Three— the Holy Trinity.

This teaching of the Catholic Church, inspires many theological works, one of which is our Holy Father, John Paul II's magnificent Theology of the Body. I am now reading Scott Hahn's "First Comes Love".

Before I start writing this piece of short reflection, I'd like to state that I don't intend to start a proper blog— with regular postings and comments and all those. This is solely intended to contain my reflections on readings, or occurences in life where the theology illuminates the economy of God.

One day i must write a thank-you letter to Dr. Scott Hahn; it is through his writings that I first became aware of theology. No I don't mean theology as a branch of study, but theology as in the learning of who God is, to me. After many years of convent education, I still did not know, til today, that in Genesis, God revealed himself to be a plural God. In the Gospel, Jesus revealed the name of God, that is, "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

The connection between the Trinitarian God and the elevated status of sex and the family in the Catholic Church was made explicitly. I had never questioned this connection, but this simply means that when I fully accept this doctrine, I do not quite feel the elation that'd be felt by one who did not use to believe. Hahn's book restored that sense of awe for me.

I experienced a renewal of love when I read and understood for the first time how God sets Himself to be our Father, and receive us into His Family via a covenant, the last and the only one necessary of which, is Jesus Himself. Hahn wrote what the Hebrew notion of family is, why living members of a clan are considered mere trustees of the family— comprised of past, present and future generations, land, rights, titles and name. There's a sense of being completely loved and completely owned, when one belongs to a family as described. In today's situation, of course that view is becoming less practised.

Hahn made a memorable point: leading a Christian life means to participate in the life of the Trinity. "We are empowered to live and love in a godlike manner".

St. Irenaeus wrote: "It was for this end that the Word of God was made man, and He who was the Son of God became the Son of Man, that man, having been taken into the Word, and receiving adoption, might become the son of God."

How amazing it is that we, such sinful and lowly creatures, should be so much loved by our Father!

Thursday, November 25, 2004


In the past few weeks, I have been borrowing lots and lots of DVDs from this little rental store that's conveniently on the way home from the bus stop. The subjects of datamining and customer profiling have always fascinated me, and I realized one evening, on the way home after borrowing yet a few more DVDs, that a psychological profile could be compiled on me based on my borrowing records.

Discounting those who borrow for families and friends, individuals' records of titles borrowed do reveal quite a bit about the person. Let me recall a few titles I have been borrowing (discounting my sister's horror selections) recently:
The Alamo, Enigma, The Patriot, Saving Private Ryan, Daredevil, The Bourne Identity, Indiana Jones (all 3!), The Spy Game, X-Men 1 & 2, Casablanca, The Great Gatsby, Gosford Park, Quo Vadis, Brother Sun Sister Moon
(You could probably tell I love war, action and old movies!)

Retail sites such as are gold mine for customer profiling. I think thinks it knows me better than myself! It knows what books & DVD titles I have and what I thought about them. It makes recommendation based on my wish list, shopping history and items I already owned.

Back to the topic, how much information can make a customer happy? Is there a point where there can be too much information, and gets the customer uncomfortable? "Right to privacy" is overused and not well understood. For instance, why would it upset me to know someone knows I like action and war movies? It might upset me, if somebody associates liking action movies with support for war (or for George W Bush!), and spam my house with anti-war or anti-Bush flyers.

Mass consumer behavior is complex; the same folks who'd put up "Bush-Cheney '04" signs on their lawns (thereby announcing their conservative right-wing leaning or simply being fed up with the Dems) would cry foul if a website to which they subscribe begins profiling their surfing behavior and make suggestions!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

525,600 moments

This is another of those nostalgic moments before the frenzy of work gets hold of me. I found a curious instance of bizarre, amusing, and at the same time, pitiful snapshot of a woman who's been blogging about all her breakup and heartbreak and loneliness and longing at And more curiously, she landed herself a book deal, based on what she wrote there.

Not that i have anything against people who are honestly trying to get rid of the excess angst and bile in their life by venting it out at a public square (and a not-so-public square, like yours truly's blog). Recently I met up with a few girl friends who are going through a period of a need for affirmation; everyone is looking for the right person, some are looking to dump people they think are not the right persons, and others are asking whether going through this motion of questioning is worth the effort.

While I am very glad I'm not partial to generate much angst, I often wonder why not. The woman from the above mentioned blog was truly heart-broken. It's true I wasn't exactly in her position, yet I wonder whether I have spent the few months in my last relationship truly enjoying 525,600 moments of love? I think I didn't, and I hope that it is yet to come.

Perhaps that's the reason for the lack of angst. I now enjoy 525,600 moments in a year, with or without someone next to me. Man makes plans, God decides. My life is His to decide, including whom I'm with :)

Saturday, November 20, 2004

March of the Black Mountain

A poem by G.K. Chesterton (1913)

From uncle Gilbert... as we remember All Souls & Veteran's Day.
(Thanks to Sancta Sanctis!)

What will there be to remember
Of us in the days to be?
Whose faith was a trodden ember
And even our doubts not free;
Parliaments built of paper,
And the soft swords of gold
That twist like a waxen taper
In the weak aggressor's hold;
A hush around Hunger, slaying
A city of serfs unfed;
What shall we leave for a saying
To praise us when we are dead?
But men shall remember the Mountain
That broke its forest chains
And men shall remember the Mountain
When it arches against the plains:
And christen their children from it
And season and ship and street,
When the Mountain came to Mahomet
And looked small before his feet.

His head was as high as the crescent
Of the moon that seemed his crown,
And on glory of past and present
The light of his eyes looked down;
One hand went out to the morning
Over Brahmin and Buddhist slain,
And one to the west in scorning
To point at the scars of Spain:
One foot on the hills for warden
By the little Mountain trod;
And one was in a garden
And stood on the grave of God.
But men shall remember the Mountain,
Though it fall down like a tree,
They shall see the sign of the Mountain
Faith cast into the sea;
Though the crooked swords overcome it
And the Crooked Moon ride free,
When the Mountain comes to Mahomet
It has more life than he.

But what will there be to remember
Or what will there be to see--
Though our towns through a long November
Abide to the end and be?
Strength of slave and mechanic
Whose iron is ruled by gold,
Peace of immortal panic,
Love that is hate grown cold--
Are these a bribe or a warning
That we turn not to the sun,
Nor look on the lands of morning
Where deeds at last are done?
Where men shall remember the Mountain
When truth forgets the plain--
And walk in the way of the Mountain
That did not fall in vain;
Death and eclipse and comet,
Thunder and seals that rend:
When the Mountain came to Mahomet;
Because it was the end.

Turning Point (cont'd): Epiphany

A year had passed since I attended the first series of talks on the Catholic Church's teaching. Last Friday was the last of this year's series, and as I was talking to one of the (ACT) people who organized these, a question came up: "How do you become Catholic without [C]atechism?"

Catechism with capital C can happen anywhere I'd say. Let me explain a long story. (Well, I am the only intended audience — this post is fully meant to remind myself what I've gone through and where I'll be going — so any curious soul out there can skip this post rather than be misled into a maze :p) Parts of the following are taken from a correspondence with a priest:

I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and spent the last 11 years studying in Singapore. My parents were born into Taoist families, although my father was the only one out of 9 children who did not go to a Catholic mission school. All his siblings became Catholic, and my father sent me and my sisters to a convent school. You might've heard that autism in adults is often 'inherited' from their children (discovered in parents only when their children are diagnosed), and so similarly my parents 'inherit' Catholicism from their children.

Back home, we have religious education as a part of the vernacular curriculum, with state-administered examinations! In school, naturally, we began and ended each day with prayers, we attended Mass every wednesday, and First Communion prep classes were even held during normal class schedules.

Having spent 8 years in the Catholic school environment, I began to accept the teachings, and felt it was only a matter of time before i am formally received into the Church. My parents didn't share the same sentiment; and my mom was especially vocal against this. I left for Singapore upon entering secondary school, and what a difference it was — my school was highly secular and nearly all my classmates claimed no belief in God! I began atending sunday Mass at the Cathedral in 1994 with another non-Catholic friend, also an alumni of a convent school in Indonesia.

You can say that I was (and still is!) very much ignorant of the Church's teachings then, for despite being taught who Jesus is, and what the Eucharist and transubstantiation is, I never knew there was such a thing as RCIA! More than a year later, I told my parents that the time has come for me to profess what i believed in— and that is the Catholic Church's teaching. Being away from my parents accelerated that. My mother was particularly not pleased, and i expected a long uphill persuasion before she'd respect my desire. Each mass that i went to during that period beckoned me towards the Eucharist. There was a phrase spoken before communion that made me long for it: "Happy are those who are called to his supper."

One fine day a year later when I was home on vacation, we were baptized as a family. It was abrupt, and I was aught with guilt and doubt – not sure whether that baptism was valid for the huge lack of catechism. Those years in convent school no doubt helped; but there are many Catholic "traditions" that I never knew until I chanced them in my friends' behaviour, or in literature found distributed in the Church, or on the Internet.

From ACT and the pro-life movement, I have since found numerous sources of education from various sites on the Internet. I have followed closely the US election and the large-scale mobilization of the faithful Catholics to vote according to the Church's teachings.

So that's the sum of my Catechism: groping in the dark, not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I'm very firm that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For I know it is God whom I am journeying to.

Turning Point

I wrote some weeks back about going to this youth program weekend retreat called CHOICE. Well the activities did not cease after that weekend; in fact there are more activities now than ever. The majority of the people I met there are older than me, and every single one of them, to a certain degree, admitted that CHOICE brought about a "turning point" in their life.

My own turning point, happened quietly sometime last year. Around September last year, I began attending a series of talks about the Catholic Church and its teachings. Since then, I have noticed a change in my life — from priorities to readings to time management. Some things, have taken precedence over other things. CHOICE was a "visible" sign to an invisible change. Some would argue that invisible changes are harder to understand, harder to act upon, and could be as good as no change. That's why so many important, invisible things in this world require a conduit to express themselves to mere mortals with hardness in our hearts — such as the grace of Sacraments.

Anyway, I have not written anything much for a long time. It could be a good sign – it could be a bad sign. I could have been reflecting and mulling for a long, long time; and only now the fruits of that labor are budding. What I want to achieve in this post is simply a recognition that articulation of thoughts and changes need to be written in order for us to keep track of the direction we're going. I've never thought that blogs are private diaries – far from it – but as long as it serves the purpose of growth, I will write.