Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Abuses by priests: Facts and Trends

I found this interesting summary of figures and trends of the sex abuses committed by priests, posted by Gerard of The cafeteria is closed.

Definitely not an apologia for abusing priests, but a great defense of our late Pope JPII-the-Great whenever you meet someone who claims that he "let them happened."

Monday, May 29, 2006

A little slice of love

Disclaimer: a lot of these thoughts are private & personal, I only put some of them here because they are background of a story I think I'd like to give witness to. You have been warned.

These past few weeks in the Easter season, I felt such dry-ness that was never before so apparent. Each day was as bad as the one before: my grandmother came to visit the whole of last week; I still went for masses & confessions. But only part of me seemed to live. Fast forward to Monday (today): another long day of bug-fixing, constantly interrupted with mundane requests to perform yet more fixes that should not come to me because I'm running a tight schedule on another product. It was 21:45, time to go home; I had lost my temper a few times that day and productivity was going down. Another day of half-consciously-lived life.

On the way home I thought, how on earth did this happen? How did I suddenly find myself unable to see, feel, taste, hear or touch the love of God? How was it possible that I can not feel much compassion for pretty much anything? How much longer must You hide Your face? I found myself asking. How much longer must I walk in this shadow? I was afraid my faith would wither and die due to lack of light. (I confess I have said more things more embarrassing than those!)

When I received in my inbox today's commentary of the daily Gospel reading, I was astounded to read this:

“That you may find peace in me”

“Lord, since the days of my youth my mind has sought an I-don’t-know-what with impatient thirst. So what was it, Lord? I still haven’t understood it entirely. It is many years now that I have ardently desired it, and I have not yet been able to grasp it… And yet that is what draws my heart and my soul and without which I cannot settle down in true peace.

Lord, I wanted to find happiness in the creatures of this world, as I saw so many people doing all around me. But the more I sought, the less I found; the closer I got, the further away I was. For everything told me: “I am not what you are seeking.” So is it you, Lord, whom I have sought for so long? Has the attraction of my heart always and constantly been struggling to reach you? Then why did you not show yourself to me? How could you put off this meeting for so long? On how many exhausting paths have I got bogged down? For the person whom you anticipate with so much love, is truly happy, the person whom you do not let rest until he seeks his rest in you alone.
—Blessed Henry Suso (around 1295 – 1366), Dominican
The Book of Eternal Wisdom

Is this walk in the shadow a part of His answer as well? Blessed Henry Suso certainly believed so!

As I arrived home, too tired and preoccupied to prepare dinner, I saw a little box of lapis surabaya (three-layered sponge cake: yellow, brown and yellow) that my mom gave to my grandma to pass to me. Although I don't have a sweet tooth, I recall with some sadness that I would normally refuse to carry lots of food my mom prepared for me whenever I am leaving home. Today this little slice of my mom's love tasted so smooth and sweet, as if it was God's own gracious answer to my plea: indeed, I had a taste of the love of God tonight. Deo gratias!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Earthquake in Yogyakarta

More than 2,700 people have been reported dead after an earthquake struck Yogyakarta, a densely populated capital of Yogyakarta province, at dawn today. The earthquake's epicenter is close the tumultous volcano Mt. Merapi which has been pouring lava and spouting smokes and debris. One town near Yogyakarta, Bantul, has been flattened. It is feared that this earthquake may increase the activity of the volcano and thus worsen the situation.

News here and here

My friends in Yogyakarta are safe, although there is chaos everywhere because the electricity supply has been cut off. The airport is closed because the runway is cracked. Prayers and help needed. Will post more details on how we can help soon.

UPDATE: links to donate below

Catholic Relief Services is already there; they've been stationed to anticipate the volcanic eruption.

(For those who can read Bahasa) Dana Kemanusiaan Kompas


IDEP Foundation


The day our PC applications run off the Internet may finally be here! Google now has Dell pre-shipping its softwares on PCs sold to home & SME customers.

Just last Friday, we had an effective 'shutdown' when the company I consult for had their Internet cut off because they forgot about the bills. The few of us in the office literally could do nothing because everything, and I mean everything, is either on the 'Net or needs the 'Net. Already (on Windows) I don't use any app other than Mozilla Firefox, Secure Shell, IM clients (which now can be connected to over a browser) and Office suite.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Awakened from vegetative state

Scientists have managed to rouse a small number of people from a permanent vegetative state using the insomnia drug zolpidem, giving hope to the relatives of those in such a condition.

Original article here:
Sanofi-Aventis’s drug zolpidem wakes patients from a vegetative state.

Methinks there are many more conscious, living & breathing people who needs to be awakened from a spiritual vegetative state! Jokes aside, read the article & what do you think is the catch ;)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Preparing for Pentecost

Moneybags at A Catholic Life is carrying out a very interesting devotion. Earlier, he promoted the "Saint of the Year" devotion—allowing the saints to pick us for a change—and now he has this devotion:

The creator of that devotion (ed: Saints of the Year) had the brillant idea of starting another devotion where we receive a fruit/gift of the Holy Spirit. With Pentecost approaching, it would be great not just to pray for all the gifts/fruits but to focus on one special one.

Traditionally, the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, and chastity. These are human qualities that can be activated by the Holy Spirit. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These gifts are supernatural graces given to the soul.

When was the last time you thought about these blessing bestowed upon you? Have some of your "fruits" rotted or dried up? Are your gifts sitting on a shelf, collecting dust?

To commemorate Pentecost, how about asking the Holy Spirit to look inside you, deep inside you and pick out one particular fruit and one particular gift that is unique to you that He wants you to pray about? He may want you to develop this gift and fruit. He may want you to share this gift and fruit. He may want you to be an example of your fruit and gift. Only you and the Holy Spirit will know.

Well, Moneybags' friend did draw for me and I'm going to start reflecting on the gift of knowledge and peace. Do check it out, and I pray you may grow ever closer to God.

Ascension of our Lord

"In my Father's house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be."—John 14:2-3

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I don't normally listen to that many podcasts. But some of them are good & may be of interest to you:
Cardinal Arinze's Podcast
¿Habla usted espaƱol?

I love Cardinal Arinze's style: he doesn't mince his words! I've never laughed so hard and understood so clearly what he explained by mortal sin (as opposed to what some theologian seemed to claim—that the sinner's lack of intention to 'break' completely with God means the sin is not mortal!)... you have to listen to him yourself!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

On receiving communion host

Since reading about receiving communion host on the tongue from Angry Twins, I've found out more about the practices of communion over the years and believe that between receiving our Lord on the tongue and on the mouth, the latter is definitely more reverential. (Also, not to mention, we will avoid scandals like selling of John-Paul-II-consecrated-host sale on eBay!)

So, in my effort to draw closer to Him, I started receiving the communion host on the tongue. It was awkward the first time; but I believe it to be a more reverential attitude and stuck by it. Some few weeks ago, however, the eucharistic minister at the Church of the Holy Cross began denying this practice, forcing me (and perhaps a few others) to receive the Lord on our hands. It was upsetting, but I thought better than to raise a scene (or I was just being a wimp!). So that's just one guy. The next mass I went, another eucharistic minister placed the host on my tongue. The next one, another one denied me. And the next one, the priest himself forced me to take the host on my hand. I did not understand and went for mass at the Cathedral instead.

Today, the parish priest announced that the "ban" on receiving communion host on the tongue has been lifted. I do not understand how could such thing be subject to a ban! I am puzzled, indignant but relieved nevertheless!

Friday, May 19, 2006

On finding Love

Sometimes despair can catch up with someone so unexpectedly, so stealthily, that one doesn't realize what hit them until it's over, for better or for worse. So I had my knockout 'moment' last week, when it seemed like everything good was out of sight, out of hearing and out of touch.

All those years of reading about the saints and their writings and their exhortations couldn't remind me what it means to love. Their words came all right: "See Jesus hanging from the Cross, see each one of his wounds, see his blood shed for us and see the ultimate meaning of love." In the Eucharist also, Christ who is so vast that the universe cannot contain Him, humbled Himself to be present in a tiny piece of bread; yet most of the times, alone and forgotten in the chapel until Sunday comes and a few people come to acknowledge Him. The omniscient and omnipotent God gave His Son to die for the bloodthirsty race of Mankind. What could be greater than this love? What indeed, is greater than God who died to save us?

But most of the days I work, I could not see this. I could not see Jesus in the people and in the situations around me. I do hear news, I do see & help people whom I meet who seemed to need help. Sometimes, all I could do is to offer my action & my prayers. Sometimes, there are situations at work where there is a conversation about our Faith and I would try to my best ability to defend the Truth, and pray that our words and actions may lead them to the Truth too. But otherwise, there is nothing in my work that reflects any of His Glory.

I realize that being a Christian must necessarily mean to belong to a community. How could a single person living an isolated life possibly be living a Christian faith? It must be lived with respect to other people!

As the Da Vinci Code movie sets to open this week, the hype it creates is in crescendo. Being Christian and Catholic, I feel pain each time the news report quoted that a member of the clergy 'attacked' the Da Vinci code; like the pain one feels when someone dear is getting hurt. There are fellow Catholics who could not realize what a grand blasphemy Da Vinci code is to the One that is our dear Lord. There are our brothers & sisters who could not freely live their Faith (or live it in fear) in many places like Indonesia and China. There are poor people, lonely people, lost people amongst us. There are many souls in purgatory to pray for. While I may not 'feel the love', I believe that love is an action before it is a feeling, and I have hope that the fruits of love is more than just a feeling!

A priest I spoke to last week advised me to keep faithful, cultivate better prayer life and pray even more earnestly. Here's a lovely passage from St. Josemaria Escriva, on finding our Lord, who is Love:

For myself, the only fear I can imagine is that of turning away from Love. God Our Lord certainly does not want us to be inhibited, timid or lukewarm about our dedication to him. He wants us to be daring, courageous and refined. When the sacred text speaks of fear here I am reminded of a complaint we find elsewhere in Scripture, 'I searched for my heart's love, but found him not.'

This can happen, if one has not yet fully understood what it means to love God. Then our hearts can be swayed by things which do not lead to Our Lord and so we lose sight of him. At other times it may be Our Lord who hides himself. He knows the reason why. In such cases, he will be encouraging us to seek him more earnestly and, when we find him, we shall be able to cry out with joy, 'I took hold of him and I will never let him go.'

—from: Friends of God: Mother of God and Our Mother, #277

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"Where is the love?"

People killin', people dyin'
Children hurt and you hear them cryin'
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us
Send us some guidance from above
'Cause people got me, got me questionin'
Where is the love...

There is something I have been feeling for the last year or so, which I am afraid to admit. I think it started towards the end of '04, when I read about acedie from a series of posts at Flos Carmeli. It is that creeping sense of cold that catches one unaware and jolts only when half of one's body is paralysed... Perhaps I'm being a little too dramatic here; but read the description of acedie and tell me whether you have never felt a moment like those?

This Easter, I wrote, I felt a sense of joy that comes from my faith that Jesus is indeed risen from the dead; He has assumed flesh so that we may become divine. This ultimate sacrifice I believe in; this ultimate union brought me joy. Yet, at moments when I feel utterly drained after a long day at work to an empty room, and strangely also helpless, because none of what I do seem to benefit anyone, I ask "Where is Joy? Where is Love?"

I must admit my taste for music veers towards the classical & oldies, and Black Eyed Peas isn't the normal kind of songs I hear. Sometime last year, I went out singing karaoke with a group of friends from CHOICE and saw their music video complete with their song's lyrics. Everyone was struck silent for a moment after this song played.

"Where is the love" indeed. In a world that seemed stricken with suffering, the singers ask where is the love. A cynical reader wrote: "There is war and young people are dying. And what is the Catholic Church worried about? 'The Da Vinci Code.'" While I don't agree with the writer, I do think many times, we often get our short-term priorities mixed up. For a while now, I've been trying to discern in what situation would I serve God best: leave, stay, or stay & do something else, and I came to realize I need to pray more and pay attention to my surroundings to discern what God has to tell me.

Reading Pope Benedict XVI's Deus Caritas Est, I felt distressed that I was unable to comprehend what is this love he was talking about, and worse, I could not feel what love is. What is love? What does it mean to love? The Church teaches that Jesus dies on the Cross because He loves us and He obeys the Father's will. So love means doing the will of one whom we love. Does one feel love when performing an act of love? If one does some action or sacrifice for the good of others but does not feel that 'warm, fuzzy feeling', does that mean it is not done with love? If one prays out of concern for others but does not feel that love, does that mean it is done with love? If one prays for God's will but does not feel any warmth, does that mean it is not done in love? Is it love that one feels when we prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament?

I came to a horrible conclusion I might have lost that capacity to love a lot of things, and I suspect, people too! I've never been an overly warm person, but this latest bout... Can anyone lose a capacity to love while still alive? (Only in Hell there is absolute rejection/absence of love)

(I'm going to bed now.. I pray and believe that each day brings every man a new hope!) O Jesus who is all Love, teach me to Love!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Good Shepherd Sunday: day for vocation

Last Wednesday, I was preparing a prayer meeting which took its reading from the coming Sunday's Gospel. It was a reading about the Good Shepherd. After a round of reflection about the various elements and characters of that Gospel reading (such as Christ as the Door and the Shepherd, the gatekeeper (who do you think He is?), listening to the true voice of the Shepherd, and being a sheep and being a sheepdog to each other!), one of us reminded us that this Sunday is also the 'vocation Sunday'.

"I am reluctant to pray for vocation this Sunday," he shared. He went on to share the dire state of the Church from the way he saw mass attendance and therefore how unsurprising it is to experience a 'drought' in the number of those entering the priesthood in Singapore. Is Latin mass the answer? Is having a smaller, but more devoted Church the answer? Should we 'let go' those who are not really interested to be in Mass, especially those who come dressed in beach attire and teenagers looking bored "as if they are doing God a favor by attending Mass"?

I expressed my optimism in the future of the Church, from what I see, hear and experience around my own friends and my trip to WYD in Cologne last year. I have encountered people, my age and younger and slightly older, who take their faith seriously enough to commit their lives to celibacy for studying and reflecting on the Word and to serve the community! I have encountered young people who pick up Latin in order to experience the unity of the universal Church and understand better her beautiful liturgies. I have encountered young people who read the CCC because they want to understand the Church and their faith more than what meagre catechism lessons offer them. I have encountered young people who believe and staunchly defend the Church's teachings on the sanctity of life from conception until natural death. I have encountered many, many young priests and seminarians during the WYD and also young people who have entered the seminary after the WYD. Rejoice, for it is springtime, indeed!

Easter time is time to be joyful and hopeful. It is not enough to pray for vocations only on Good Shepherd Sunday every year, I told him. We do not pray for vocations only to happen to somebody else, or somebody else's sons. We do not only pray just so that 'suitably prepared' young men and women 'fall' into religious vocations. We pray that God may use us as instruments to prepare better environment ('more fertile ground') to groom future holy priests and religious, and also to find vocations in our secular lives! Amen.

Everyone has something to do for God—Pope John Paul II the Great

PS: Here are three videos I found on YouTube that promotes priesthood by two seminaries & one for consecrated women. The second one especially struck me how these young seminarians aspire to be holy, and how joyful and genuine is their testimony to serve God's call.

Christ the King Seminary

Legionaries of Christ

And lastly, Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi,

(Now, I think Singapore's seminaries could also make similar videos; but more prayers and actions are required to make our grounds more 'fertile' to answer the calling of God!)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

J2ME Midlet signing

I've been searching the 'Net for procedures and guidelines procuring a real digital certificate to sign mobile codes (in our case, Symbian .sis files and J2ME .jad & .jar files) before they get to our customers' mobile phones.

Not having much cash at hand, it's a little difficult for my company to pay a lot (between US$199-$500 annually) just for a piece of document (a digital one at that!) that basically ascertain you are who say you are on the 'Net. For some environments, it is becoming necessary to have a certificate before our code (application) will run at all. For others, like J2ME, it is simply to save all that hassle on the part of the users, who have to say "Yes" to every operation your app is meant to do on the mobile phones, such as taking picture, listing down their files, and connecting to the 'Net. What started out as a security requirement has become an obstacle to rolling out good, smooth user applications (who wants to say yes a hundred times just to display a hundred files?!)

In any case, here's summarizing what experience I've gathered from the people who've tried and sometimes succeeded, sometimes didn't:

  1. Don't get your hopes up eliminating ALL those pesky pop-up permission windows

    Sometimes, not all the permissions requests you have indicated will be granted. Some handset firmwares/operators will relent enough to give you blanket permission; some will merely relent to ask the end-user's explicit permission only once at the beginning of the session. AFAIK, midlet signing is very useful when your app runs JSR-75 (so that your end users are spared having to click 'Yes' to every file/every contact in every folder that is about to be listed). You have been warned.

  2. Expect different performance raise (or non-raise) on different manufacturers' (Nokia handsets should perform reasonably uniformly) and different handset models

    Same handsets in different countries and running different operators' SIM cards may end up giving you different behaviors. Some might 'repress' the permissions you requested. You have been warned a second time.

  3. Make sure you get the right certificate: code-signing cert, not the SSL type!

    It might waste you a few hundred dollars if you get the wrong type. Also, not all Certificate Authorities (CAs) have their code-signing root certs already preloaded on the mobile handsets your app is meant to run on! Check and double-check! You have been warned a third time.

If you find this summary relevant but too short, here are tutorials & troubleshooting and helpful links to better, longer discussions on midlet signing issues. And I wish you success in your applications' launch!