Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reflections & Homilies for Lent

Looking at my sitemeter, a lot of recent visitors have stumbled upon this blog looking for reflections or homilies regarding the feast days (St Joseph's, Annunciation) and the coming Holy Week. Writing daily reflection or homilies is unfortunately neither my charism nor my vocation!

May I refer you to this Dominican site (run by students, normally friars who are priesthood candidates) that puts up a light reflection daily for your Lenten companion? (Yeah I know it's a bit late now.. but it's never too late!)

Monday, March 26, 2007

On Beauty

Be present, drop your veil,
and let me die your beauty apprehending;
this grief that makes me pale
with love, can have no ending
without your presence, every joy transcending.
-- Spiritual Canticles, v.XI, S. Juan de la Cruz

Whenever I see a (latent) thread that keeps appearing in my reading back-to-back over a few days, I'd be intrigued to find out more about it. These past few weeks I've been encountering "Beauty" (outside of Dostoevsky, naturally): in the Pope's reflection on the Beauty of Truth, in the Pope's exhortation to the media to promote beauty, truth and goodness, and today, as the Church rejoices along with the angels upon hearing Mary's fiat, a "humble human event, hidden" that has since been commemorated by the entire Church with deep joy.

Tota Pulchra Est
Amongst those born of a woman, who personifies Beauty better than Jesus and His Mother? Contemplating Mary's fiat, it is easier to dismiss it as a superhuman feat that mere human conceived un-immaculately scarce hope to emulate.

I have struggled with Marian devotions; not in the way that evangelicals and Protestant converts struggled, but to cultivate affection for Our Lady as she rightly deserves from all of us her children.

This Sunday (the real date of the feast of Annunciation), I pondered this question: what can one do to one love our Lady more? How can we love one whom He loves so much? Not all Catholics, though famous for our Marian devotion, have a natural, innate affinity to Our Lady. How can we turn to Mary with confidence as we struggle with our own crosses? How can we turn to her who is a paragon of Beauty?

With these questions still fresh, I attended a little concert sung by the Cathedral Choir of Risen Christ (in which my sister sings) held at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. They sang beautifully as always, but most eloquently, they sang FOUR hymns to her: Schubert's Ave Maria, Fr Carey Landry's Hail Mary, Kachini's Ave Maria, and lastly, a sweet simple hymn of Stella Maris ("Sweet Star of the Sea"), which is the very first Marian hymn I ever heard! Just hearing this last song brought lots of memory & tears: I remember the time when my classmates at elementary school sang it loudly after the masses... with what love my Catholic friends, then little children, sang this! And I remember again the first time I said the Ave Maria. I remember again how sweet, how secure it was to trust a mother completely to help you in any kind of difficulty.

"Stupendous mystery of the faith"
Et verbum caro factum est— this pronunciation that is said at Christmas, can in fact be said for today! The "clump of cells" that formed in Mary's womb at Annunciation is indeed Jesus already—God's essence already manifested and growing until Jesus' birth.

Indeed, it is time to rejoice, for Hell trembles at Mary's fiat.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Novena: 9 days to April 2

Tomorrow is the start of a 9-day countdown to April 2, the day our late Holy Father JPII was 'called to the Father's house' two years ago. Though he's not yet proclaimed a saint, I think it's never too early to start praying for: (1) the repose of his soul, (2) his intercession, and (3) the cause of his beatification.

O Blessed Trinity
We thank You for having graced the Church
with Pope John Paul II
and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care,
the glory of the cross of Christ,
and the splendor of the Holy Spirit,
to shine through him.
Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy
and in the maternal intercession of Mary,
he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd,
and has shown us that holiness
is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life
and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.
Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will,
the graces we implore,
hoping that he will soon be numbered
among your saints.

Prayers (in other languages) and other information about the cause of his beatification can be found here.

Visual DNA, whatever that is.

A quiz for that slow Friday afternoon. My weakness? Beautiful Flash widget.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Feast of St Joseph

In celebration of the feast of St Joseph today, I have to defer to a much more inspired and enlightened mind:

Today we contemplate Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin, protector of the Incarnate Word, a man of daily work, steward of the great mystery of salvation.

It is precisely this last aspect which is given great emphasis in the biblical readings proclaimed a few moments ago, which explain to us how God involved St Joseph in the saving plan of the Incarnation. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). This is the incomparable gift of salvation; this is the work of Redemption.

Like Mary, Joseph also believed in the Lord’s word and came to share in it. Like Mary, he believed that this divine plan would be fulfilled through their willing co-operation. And this is what happened: the eternal Son of God became man in the Virgin Mother’s womb.

About Jesus — a newborn, then a boy, an adolescent, a young man, a mature adult — the eternal Father spoke the words of prophetic announcement which we heard in the first reading: “I will be his father, and he shall be my son” (cf. 2 Sm 7:14). In the eyes of those living in Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem, Joseph was Jesus’ father. And the carpenter of Nazareth realizes that in a way this is so. He knows it, because he believes in the fatherhood of God and is aware of being called, to a certain extent, to share in it (cf. Eph 3:14-15). And today the Church, in venerating St Joseph, praises his faith and total docility to the divine will.

Some more devotional links:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007's Coffeehouse

I found this video on Youtube, (yes, a little late) about a coffeehouse project by the team behind ( is run by the Legionaries of Christ). In Toronto 2002, they found that opening a coffeehouse for the World Youth Day pilgrims was a great "success." So they decided to do it again for Cologne. 'Tis a pity I didn't step into this coffeehouse when in Cologne then..

It was a simple enough concept: provide coffee and music for the pilgrims, throw in a few talks by bishops, priests, and married people. It drew a full house each day, closing (at midnight) with Benediction. At any time, there were never "less than 40 kids at adoration". The coffeehouse also made confessions available; it was so packed that there were lines of pilgrims outside, and priests were hearing confessions outside in the street, from morning until midnight!

After 11,000 pilgrims had visited the coffeehouse, Fr Emilio Diaz-Torre, LC, remarked, "What is God telling us? That they (the kids) like coffee? No, what they're looking for here, you know, is Christ."

Catholics in the Public Square

On Youtube there's a video clip of Fox News' Sean Hannity "talking" (more like, hurling a tirade) to Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer ("Fr E" in short). It was interesting to see how a "public" figure Catholic got himself rebuked by a priest in public. Some would say that a TV talk show is not the place to correct the errant sheep.

Apparently, Fr E had attempted to do just that (private fraternal correction), without success. This last bit of outburst was provoked by Sean Hannity's latest show where he 'apologized' in public for taking a few bites of chicken sandwich on Friday. Fr E wrote that not only his definition for sin was incorrect, he was displaying a superficial faith in the public about Friday meat abstinence when he is a publicly professing supporter of birth control and abortion for some cases.

Colmes: Let me ask you this, well known people like Sean who are Catholic and in the public eye… Should they be using their platform, necessarily, to preach the tenets of Catholicism when they are in the media. Is that something that one is obliged to do?

Fr. Euteneuer: No. One is not obliged to do that at all. One is simply obliged not to be a heretic in public. That’s the point. If he doesn’t agree with his Church on that matter he should not be pronouncing on the matter as if he was the authority on that matter. He’s not.


Fr. Euteneuer: Sean I’m just asking you for basic honesty. If you are a member of this Church you profess what the Church believes, if you don’t believe it don’t say anything about it in the public forum and scandalize people, that’s all.
(From Domus Dei)

The show is reduced to a hysteric match very soon after Hannity refused to remain civil and started saying how Fr E ought to take care of the sex abuse scandal instead of taking 'cheap shots' at public figures. It ended with Hannity asking if he'd be denied Communion if he goes to mass and Fr E answering in the affirmative! ("I would!")

I met Fr E some four years ago on his trip to Singapore; a very impassioned, pro-life priest who knows what he's teaching. I think he held himself very well in that short interview; he was uncompromising in his proclamation of Truth (see the bit on "[rolling] up their sleeves and defend the Church in private and in public"), and unflinching in his defence for the unborn.

Go listen to it yourself and pray for all the other Catholics who are in public square, and in particular, in the media business.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bishop Fulton Sheen on Confession

I wish I'd seen him speak on this topic.. it took me four years after baptism to make my first ever confession, and many, many years later to appreciate how important this sacrament is and what a wretched sinner I am.

I hope this helps someone out there this Lent!

More here, here and here.

For Hire!

I've been thinking of putting aside some time at the service of those who are looking for mobile application consultants :)

(Looking at the traffic to this blog, most of the visitors, are not here to see my occasional reflection or ramblings of the soul, but to find solutions to J2ME bugs/Linux-sysadmin problems that I've described and solved!)

So anyone who's seriously looking for a specialist (part-time/project-based only) in the following areas, please drop me an email or leave me a comment:

J2ME (5+ yrs experience):
- application design,
- application-server system interface design,
- user interface design,
- code implementation,
- code security,
- bug fixing, (!)
- on-device deployment,
- application signing,
- on-device installation & testing, AND
- application provisioning
(esp. Sony-Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung)

UNIX/*NIX sysadmin (6+ yrs experience):
- resource planning,
- installation,
- security/usage policy management,
- general security maintenance/fix,
- setup/install/performance tweak,
- application server administration (Apache/Tomcat/Sun AppServer),
- mail server setup/maintenance (Qmail/IMAP),
- database migration/upgrade,
- application versioning,
- application/server migration,
- load balancing,
- backup routine, AND
- disaster recovery
(on all flavors of Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris)

For a glimpse of some past problems I've solved, check out these: j2me, linux. Reference available upon request!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

On Conversion

Our dear Pope, ever the teacher, gave a wonderful food for thought and prayer in his address for Ash Wednesday this year, an extract of it here (bold typeface mine):

From the beginning, therefore, Lent was lived as the time of immediate preparation for baptism, which is administered solemnly during the paschal vigil. The whole of Lent was a journey toward this great encounter with Christ, toward immersion in Christ and the renewal of life.

We are already baptized, but often baptism is not very effective in our daily life. Therefore, Lent is also for us a renewed "catechumenate" in which we again go out to encounter our baptism and rediscover and relive it in depth, to again be really Christians.


But what does conversion really mean? Conversion means to seek God, to walk with God, to follow docilely the teachings of his Son, Jesus Christ; to be converted is not an effort to fulfill oneself, because the human being is not the architect of his own destiny. We have not made ourselves. Therefore, self-fulfillment is a contradiction and is too little for us. We have a higher destiny.

We could say that conversion consists precisely in not considering ourselves "creators" of ourselves, thus discovering the truth, because we are not authors of ourselves. Conversion consists in accepting freely and with love that we depend totally on God, our true Creator, that we depend on love. This is not dependence but liberty.

To be converted means, therefore, not to pursue personal success, which is something that passes but that, abandoning all human security, we follow the Lord with simplicity and trust, so that Jesus will become for each one, as Teresa of Calcutta liked to say, "my all in all." Whoever lets himself be conquered by him is not afraid of losing his own life, because on the cross he loved us and gave himself for us. And, in fact, by losing our life out of love, we find it again.

Read the rest here.

Note from a Lenten reading

To journey in the Lenten season, I am reading a book about (and thus transparently titled) the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. There was a passage reflecting on the discourse at the Last Supper, about falling to sin and ... rising again. It focuses on Jesus' warning to the two main protagonists in its corresponding passage in the Bible, the apostles Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot.

On the coming failure of the Twelve (pg 65)

After Jesus warned the Twelve that "the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed" when the shepherd is struck, Simon Peter, recalling times when Jesus had rebuked them for being 'of little faith', asserted that their loyalty remained with the Master. He was indignant that one of the Twelve should be declared disloyal; and furthermore, to be told that not one but all of them 'that very night' would desert Him. "Peter answering said to Him, Although all shall be scandalized in Thee, I will never be scandalized."

At first Jesus seemed to ignore Simon Peter's impetuosity. He loved Peter, therefore He could let his contradiction pass; in spite of all, He knew that Peter loved Him, and therefore in love He could speak to him. He would show Peter how much he was loved and cared for than Peter himself suspected. ... Until He is compelled, Jesus will not look at Peter the deserter, He will only consider the future leader of the flock:
'And the Lord said, Simon Simon,
Behold Satan hath desired to have you
That he may sift you as wheat
But I have prayed for thee
That they faith fail not
And thou being once converted
Confirm thy brethren.'

Strengthened by the Eucharistic meal and touched by the Master's humbling gesture of the washing of his feet, Peter made an offer of his life, very likely thinking this is another of such test, a trial of his courage, Jesus gave his response.

How easy is it to be brave when no danger is near us! How easy to be faithful when there is no temptation to desert, but only sweet attraction to draw us! But not in such a way may those be trained who are destined to guide others. For that end Peter must be allowed his lesson, which only a heavy fall would teach him. In the answer which Jesus gave him, there is irony, there is resignation, there is even hope, there is no less affection; indeed love is the more expressed by the repetition of the name.
'Amen Amen I say to thee Peter,
Today even in this night
Before the cock crow twice
Thou shalt deny me thrice'
'Peter!' Before He had said: 'Simon, Simon', now it was 'Peter!' Then his ordinary name, now when his fall is prophesied, he is called 'The Rock!' Such is the affectionate irony of Jesus Christ.

This section deals with the betrayal of Peter, and contrasting it to Judas', and the great irony given Peter's repeated declaration of loyalty.

Judas that night would betray Him but once, Peter would deny Him thrice. Judas had made no special protest of allegiance, Peter had declared his loyalty again and again. Judas had been entrusted merely with the common purse; to Peter had been given the keys, the care of the Universal Church! And yet, after their fall, how differently they were treated! Before a human court of justice Peter might well have received a greater condemnation; in the eyes of Jesus his offence was condoned. For those eyes see beneath the surface, they distinguish sin from sin, malice from mere weakness, heart from heart, where human justice is blinded. As they looked at these two, and beheld even their repentance, still they were not deceived. The one repented out of despair, the other, with all is weakness, had never ceased to love; and Jesus knew the value of them both.

I always find in St Peter, as a representative of the apostles, a figure of inspiration: for "[these men] loved Him, at least they wished to love Him,... and though that love would fail on trial, yet would it not die. It would rise again, it would rise again purified, taught by humiliation to know its own weakness, and then, when later the supreme trial came, it would not fail, they would not deny Him.... He would still be patient with them, as He had always been before; smoking flax He would not extinguish, it would yet burst into flame. He had chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong; therefore, because they were weak, until they learnt their weakness and where their true strength lay, it became their Master and Lord to bear with them, at whatever cost to Himself."