Friday, January 30, 2009

Omnia cooperantur in bonum

"Scimus autem quoniam diligentibus Deum omnia cooperantur in bonum his qui secundum propositum vocati sunt sancti"—Romans 8:28

And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.

Today I cannot write anything much, but this verse from St Paul kept coming back to console me and I ask whoever reads this to say a little prayer for me. Thank you.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

4 SSPX bishops "Un-Excommunicated"!!!

I just came back from a retreat over the weekend, and wondering if we have "missed" any big news, either from Singapore or from the world. Can you imagine my surprise when I read, from a blog, that Rome had lifted the excommunication sentence from the 4 bishops of the 'notorious' SSPX???

All week our priest spoke of St Paul as our 'role model' on various topics in the retreat. We also had prayed for "Christian Unity" 8 days before the feast day of his conversion. But this is more than I imagined the 'gift' would be!

Deo gratias!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hot off the 'oven'

I'm raising funds to go to grad school this Fall. I'm putting up "Catholic Mobile Prayerbook" - available for download here.

What is Catholic Mobile Prayerbook?

It is a small mobile application containing the common basic prayers that Catholics commonly say. From your all-time favorite "Our Father" to various devotions you can think of.

Why would I need Catholic Mobile Prayerbook?

For those times that you have to wait, it is a handy aide to help you pray. It'd be useful also when you forget the Act of Contrition in the middle of the confessional booth. Also, when you are asked to say grace before meal. Or to lead any prayer. Wherever. Whenever. One doesn't need a reason to pray.

What prayers are available inside?

The basics: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

Devotions to Our Lady: Memorare, Angelus, Hail Holy Queen, Rosary

Daily Prayers: Morning Offering, Spiritual Communion, Apostles' Creed, Prayers before & after meal, Thanksgiving

Special Prayers: Act of Contrition, Adoro te Devote, Prayers for the pope, Te Deum, Prayer to St Michael the Archangel.

To request for more prayers to be made available, write me

What languages is it available in?

English, Español (Spanish), Latin, and Bahasa Indonesia.

Coming Soon: Francais, Italiano and Deutsch.

Does Prayerbook support my phone?

Prayerbook is developed on Java ME Platform. Nearly all recent mobile phones support Java ME. Check here to make sure.

How do I install it?

  1. If you click the download link below, it'll take you to a payment page, and then ask you for your phone number.

  2. Enter your cell phone number as requested: Your country code, followed by your cell phone number.

  3. Eg: 441223472777 (if you live in the UK), or 6598765432 (if you live in Singapore).

  4. As soon as you enter your phone number, an SMS is sent with a link to the file.

  5. Click on the link to download the file.

  6. If permission is asked to open/run the file, do allow it: select "Yes".

That's it!

How big is it?

Depending on the version you download, it ranges between 60-80KB. That should translate to less than a dollar to download via your phone. If you'd like to save money on the download cost, download it to your computer and send it via Bluetooth!

It says installation was successful but I can't find it!

On different phones, Java applications are stored at different places. On most Nokia phone, click the Menu to see all the installed applications. Sometimes it will be shown under "Game", or "Application", or "Installations". On Samsung phone, do check out "Java World".

If you really can't figure it out, email me your phone brand and model, and the name of the file you downloaded.

How much does it cost?

A single-language version costs $1.99, a two-language version costs $3.00 and all-languages version costs $5.00.

To promote this amongst the Indonesian-speaking people, the Bahasa Indonesia version is now FREE!

Why do I have to pay?

As much as I'd really like to encourage people to pray, I need to raise some funds to go to grad school. So *PLEASE* support my fundraising effort! (The story of why I am going to grad school is topic for another post -- if you'd like to know, mail me)

For free download, I have made available a Rosary widget for Yahoo! Widget. Get it here.

I'm also available for any freelance work to develop web widgets, desktop widgts, mobile widgets, and mobile applications. Drop me a line if you'd like to help me put through grad school!

Download Section

To have me email it to you:

Single Language Version
Your Email (to which the app is sent):

Two-languages version
Alternative Email (in case your primary email doesn't work):

Alternative Email (in case your primary email doesn't work):


To Download directly to your phone: (pay via your mobile phone bill)

Single Language (USD$1.99)

Bahasa Indonesia (FREE)

Two Languages (USD$3.00)

English-Bahasa Indonesia
Español-Bahasa Indonesia
Bahasa Indonesia-Latin

All Languages (USD$5.00)


Learning Tip: document your steps!

These past few days I have been working on a little mobile app (J2ME / Java ME) that displays the various Catholic prayers and devotions. Simple stuffs like "Pater Noster" all the way to the mysteries of the rosary, and thanksgiving prayers, in multiple languages.

It started out pretty simply, and the complication happened only when I had to 'versionize' the source code and the resources used by different language versions. Some versions should be able to handle multiple-language requests from the user, some display only one language of choice.

Two problems: versioning and internationalization.

Internationalization has always been an interesting topic for most application developers because frankly, few of us bother to provision for Unicode display until the product is almost ready. Then began the scramble to make the application accommodate the havoc wreaked by the different encoding the input came in.

Versioning problems came about because I did not use CVS. Period. Well, there's more to the story than that, but bottomline is, there are existing tools that can track your files' changes.

During the course of this project, I have learned that Ant (which is the build tool I use to compile J2ME applications) is extremely nifty with multiple compilation paths. A little familiarity is required with the Ant build file, and more curiosity, to learn the various types of variable and property that are used to signal different customization and compilation paths.

For example (in J2ME Polish):

The element <sources> can be customized to point to different folders for different versions. So instead of re-naming your public classes, MyMIDlet_v1 or MyMIDlet_v2, you can stick with the same name in different folders.

The element <jarName> can contain references to other variables or properties, to be something like: "prayer-${}-${polish.locale}-${TwoLangCombi}.jar"

Those variables and properties can combine to indicate which resources folder you would like to use when compiling for a particular locale, or particular screen size, or particular handset brand.

Why am I writing this?
I have suffered greatly because I did not learn to use these 'best practices' in my daily work! I hope anyone of you who happens to read this and understand may benefit from my suffering and this little note ;)

Saturday, January 10, 2009


From the same book, The Soul of the Apostolate, I read a couple of stories of holy priests, both brilliant preachers, who each did seemingly "extraordinary" prayers and penances before their engagement commenced: a Father Lacordaire spent a long time before giving homilies and had himself scourged upon returning from the pulpit, while a Father Monsabre, was known to say all 15 decades of the Rosary on his knees before speaking at Notre Dame. When asked, he reportedly said that he was taking his "last dose of tonic".

Like many saints before them, these people have discovered the 'secret' to their 'success', in this case, in doing the apostolate of Christ, is to be found "at the foot of the Cross". Dom Chautard further added, that the Apostles were not asked to go to school in Athens, nor to study in Rome under the Caesars on how to conquer and govern empiers. Techniques of organization and fundraising and church-building and putting up school were not mentioned either. Only one thing is necessary: "Rogate" (Pray ye!).

Another modern apostle echoed the same sentiment, this time while encouraging us to have recourse to the Author of Grace Himself in the Blessed Sacrament:

It is impossible in human language to exaggerate the importance of being in a chapel or church before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow.

What I am expressing is not a pious practice or a luxury of the spiritual life. I am talking about its essence. Those who believe what I am saying and act on their belief are in possession of the greatest treasure available to man in this valley of tears. As by now thousands of saintly men and women have testified from experience, this is somewhere near the key to holiness. For this reason, I strongly recommend that each of us make a resolution -- no matter how much the decision may cost us -- to make a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved at least once a month or, if possible, once a week, and if we have the grace and our vocation in life permits it, even several times a week. Think of the empty hours that people spend weekly before the television screen -- an average I am told of some twenty hours per man, woman and child in America.

Someone may object, "But you are talking about mystics or saints, and I am neither. I am just an ordinary Catholic trying to save my soul." My reply: there can be no ordinary Catholics today, not with the revolution through which society is passing and the convulsion in the Church on every level. The Church today needs strong Catholics, wise Catholics, Catholics who are not swayed by public opinion or afraid to stand up for the truth. She needs Catholics who are willing to suffer for their convictions and, if need be, shed their blood for the Faith."

Read Fr Hardon's article here and an excerpt of The Soul of the Apostolate here.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Review: The Soul of the Apostolate

Happy New Year everybody! I know it is kind of 'early' to write about anything that says "you are dust and to dust you will return" - considering that Christmas season is still around for a few more days - but this is one inspiring writing quoted in the book I'm reading currently The Soul of the Apostolate, on the primacy of God in everything, and principally in the apostolic endeavor:

"[The apostle] acts as though success depended entirely on his own activity, but in point of fact he expects it from God alone.
He is always ready to say: 'O my God, Thou dost not will that the work I have begun should be completed. It pleases Thee that I confine myself acting valiantly, yet ever peacefully, to making efforts to achieve results, but that I leave to Thee alone the task of deciding whether Thou wilt receive more glory from my success, or from the act of virtue that failure will give me the opportunity to perform. Blessed a thousand times be Thy holy and adorable Will, and may I, with the help of Thy grace, know just as well how to repel the slightest symptoms of vain complacency, if Thou shouldst bless my work, as to humble myself, and adore Thee if Thy Providence sees fit to wipe out everything that my labors have produced.'"

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Is Christ in my city? Is Christ in my country?


Following up after the last post, I realized this Christmas, while spent also in the heat of Jakarta, is unique, like it has always been. My sister and I took the afternoon flight on Christmas Day and arrived before 3 o'clock in Jakarta. Apart from the usual spartan decoration of the airport and the occasional Christmas-themed advertisement billboards, there was little else to indicate that it was Christmas.

My dad was waiting for us with a huge smile on his face. My mom, as usual, was supervising wholesale distribution of all kinds of beverage at her 'shop' - come rain or shine, Christmas or no. So we spent Christmas at the 'shop', waiting for her business to conclude for the day and had a quiet dinner.

Grace awaited us
My confessor had reminded me to remember to pray while 'on vacation', so I went home with a little apprehension lest the laxity of being on vacation at home makes us forget Him. This year though, Grace came in a form of a person :) It was a friend studying in the university in Singapore, who also spent her Christmas with her family, in another city in Indonesia.

Daily she would text me with a short snippet of what is happening to her and around her. Inevitably it would contain a prayer request, a concrete reminder for me to not forget to say my prayers. Her first text message echoed my silent lament: In Singapore we were positively inundated with Christmas decoration at every corner of every shopping mall, albeit for commercial purposes. For a self-proclaimed secular country with a Muslim majority like Indonesia, Christmas atmosphere was strikingly absent.

A few years ago, I would have "complained" and told myself that it is not my fault if I can't "feel" Christmas back at home. If I did not feel particularly charitable nor joyful during these diebus nativitatis, I would have attributed it to the lack of Christmas atmosphere. I was naive and silly, indeed, for wasn't Christ born for all of us in the whole world? Not only for those who were fortunate enough to live in countries that celebrate Christmas properly.

Looking back at the story of my own conversion, I realize that Indonesia and Indonesian Christians have the missionaries to thank. It is these silent martyrs and heroes who, perhaps inspired to bring the joy of Christmas to the pagan East, brought the Good News to my country. The joy of Christ was not meant to stay only in Bethlehem, nor in Palestine, nor in Europe. In the stifling heat of Indonesia, Christ is proclaimed.

Soon night fell and my sister & I found myself waiting in darkness in the car with the radio singing quiet tunes. My parents were out buying the next day's supplies for their 'shop'. I could hear my sister's thoughts echoing my own and my friend's: what a way to spend Christmas day! Suddenly, as if upon a cue, the radio played a most beautiful rendition of Ave Verum Corpus! I didn't cry, but I must confess I leapt with joy upon hearing that hymn, for it was balm to a drooping spirit.

No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, I know that Christ is in Indonesia, Christ is in my city, and Christ is in my family!

'Twas the night before Christmas...

Here's wishing everyone a very joyful Christmas! And a happy New Year!

This post comes really, really late. I had been wanting to write before Christmas; but the days before Christmas were really busy and before we know it, the Christmas season is coming to an end this Sunday.

Every year Christmas brings a new wonder in my life. I don't ever recall spending two Christmases alike!

The Saturday before Christmas, my housemates and I threw a party. It was a pleasant surprise when I 'met' an old friend of mine online, and she agreed to come. While inviting your friends to a party through an IM client is not unusual, it is still a pleasant surprise to chat with her at last, because I haven't logged on to any IM in half a year, and I haven't seen this friend in at least 8 years! We hit it off as if we were never apart.

This year, I was asked to play the organ for the Christmas Midnight Mass. Since the usual musician was away, I had to agree and because it has been many years since I last played the keyboard, I was unquestionably apprehensive. To play for an audience was bad enough, but to play for Jesus in the Mass, and a solemn Latin mass at that, is even worse. So for a week before Christmas, we scrambled to put together the repertoire of songs appropriate for the occasion.

Soon the Christmas eve was here! Since our singing voices refuse to align to our ears, we had to transpose some of the songs so as to avoid breaking any glasses in the chapel. I discovered that music softwares are amazing! (I used Notation Composer) All I need to do was to load a MIDI file, and lo and behold, the score is nicely written out. A few more clicks and it is magically transposed to whichever chord you desire! Another click allowed me to annotate the score with the right chords. It really saved the day.

As for the Mass itself, I looked back to it with awe. We sang Puer Natus, Adeste Fideles, and all the sung parts in the style of Missa de Angelis. I personally spent two days practising those songs and 'finding' the right chords, and four weeks of Advent to welcome the Child who is our savior. Although my ears are better than my fingers and suffered much listening to my own crude playing, I must say I am very happy to be able to play for Him that night ;)