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Happy Easter!
Time flies very fast, lent is just like yesterday and now is Easter Sunday.

We have completed our lent observant. Thank God for this fruitful lent season.
Its not because I kept a perfect score on my fasting or abstinence,but because He taught me few lesson during lent.

Repentance. I have heard about this word so many times, but more often i forget how important it is. More often I forget how much I have transgressed against Him. More often I forget about Him as my God, and my master, only!
This lent he taught me to remember more often.

Conversion. It is a result of repentance. It is a commitment to renounce sin and turn back to Him. It is about answering a vocation. It is about becoming a Christ like person. It is about being a saint.

Prayer. I noticed that I have a desire or rather an intention of doing God’s work but most of the time i was just working for God. The difference is as far as heaven from earth. Doing God’s work is working on what He wants me to do, His will be done. Working for God is doing what I want to do for God. So its either all about God or all about me. So far I only know one way to get a clue about His will, loving relationship in prayer.

Discernment. Life is like a journey. I am from somewhere going to somewhere. These somewhere most of the time are unknown to me. I need a map to know the way, I need to ask who is The Way. He will teach me about The Truth that will set me free.

Easter is a new beginning for me. A new hope for a new life. It is also an invitation to die with Jesus of my sinful life. Life is not easy, even Jesus had a difficult death, which become a reminder to me, before my death of my sinful life, I might need to carry my cross to the Calvary. This death creates a new life.

Happy Easter my friend.

Ash wednesday: A beginning

Today we begin our lenten journey. I attended mass at NTU, and I was quite surprised to see the lecture room was so packed ( I really pray that I can see this scene more often). I have decided to experience a better Lent this year. To be honest I did not experience Lent properly previously.

I tried to do better this year by searching few articles regarding lent. I have few questions such as What is lent. What is the origin and the history of Lent. What is the Church teaching about Lent.

I found three good articles from EWTN, New advent catholic encyclopedia , and catholic education resources centre.

My favorite article is the last one, by Father William P. Saunders with the way he answer my question ” What is Lent?”

Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter.

The word Lent itself is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words lencten, meaning “Spring,” and lenctentid, which literally means not only “Springtide” but also was the word for “March,” the month in which the majority of Lent falls.

Regarding the history, Lent was evidence in the early christian community and it was made official in the Council of Trent. If you read further on you will find out more about lent such as how it was practiced and how the practice of fasting also developed.

This reading is quite good to satisfy my curiosity and become a basic knowledge for me to prepare my self this Lenten period. As for the practical input, I am planning to do as what Jesus told us in today’s Gospel.

There are three element which I guess most of us know: almsgiving, prayer and fasting. I also observed something else in this passage, Jesus told us to do the three of them in secret. For me it is interesting, as we only have secret with someone special, someone whom we trust, someone who is close or dear to us. We won’t tell our secret to anybody random. This verse speak to me to have a special relationship with God, to tell my secret to Him, to do something that only Him will understand.

If i could have a wish or goal to achieve during this Lenten which is concluded during Easter, I pray for a renewed relationship with God. I hope today is the beginning.

Wealth and Prosperity

Happy chinese new year!! Gong xi fa cai!

As we celebrate and wish for a more prosperous Tiger year. I think it is good for us to ponder about the prosperity. In this long weekend, I read few books and article about wealth. These articles gave me new insights that help me in my reflection about wealth.

Let me begin with the definition of wealth according to Oxford dictionary. There are three meanings of wealth 1 an abundance of valuable possessions or money. 2 the state of being rich. 3 an abundance or profusion of something desirable. I dare to say that wealth is universally desirable by people. Most of us desire to be wealthy. I am currently working and I receive salary that I use to meet my need and also to purchase some properties ( not limited to the properties in most Singapore’s resident).

So I asked my self whether my statement is true or not, if yes, how can desire for wealth is universal? Is it just a social culture or trend? Where does this desire come from? We desire to eat because we feel hungry, we feel hungry because our stomach is empty, or our glucose level in our blood is below requirement. We eat to replenish our energy so that we can sustain our life. We desire to eat so that we can preserve ourselves. This desire to eat is innate in us, and something that is innate in man comes from the Creator. He created us in this manner so we will never forget to eat and perish.

“Self preservation is one of the first laws of nature, and it implies a legitimate self-love, for if we did not love ourselves we could not continue to live.” Peace of Soul, Fulton Sheen.

I read Fulton Sheen book entitled Peace of Soul, and I discovered some explanation regarding this desire of wealth or possession. On page 156 ” Just as we are free on the inside because we can call our soul our own, so we want to be free on the outside by calling possession our own. Personal or private ownership is natural to man, it is the economic guarantee of freedom as the soul is its spiritual guarantee.”  This desire of private possession and accumulation of wealth also come from God, as desire is a good desire. In the beginning the Creator commanded Adam and Eve to subdue the earth ( Gen 1 :28) which I also discussed in my previous post.

I also read Encyclical by Pope Leo XIII entitled Rerum Novarum which also stated “For, every man has by nature the right to posses property as his own ( paragraph 6). In paragraph 5, he wrote that the reason or motive of working is to obtain property and to hold it as his very own. As we are working we receive in return renumeration as the exchange of our strength or skill or knowledge in the work that we accomplished. This reward (a.k.a money) is used for the satisfaction of our needs, and the excess of it we save it or invest his savings in properties which is owned by us.  Lastly in paragraph 9, ” private ownership is in accordance with the law of nature.”

If this desire is good and it is from God, why there are many verses in the bible are written against wealth and prosperity? Why we have heard many teachings that we should be wealthy? Why wealthy people are connotated as bad people? Fulton sheen further elaborate in the same book that all the good desire that is from God can be perverted. The perverted version of desire for wealth is avarice. It happens when the possesion or wealth no longer become the object but the subject.It is no longer man that posses the wealth, but man is possesed by it. God no longer become God, but Mammon become god.

As it is in the beginning, God gave the earth to Adam and Eve, that they could subdue and eat all the tree, just except of one tree. I think it is also with wealth, that God gives us the good desire to accumulate wealth but not to let the wealth posses us. I realize that the question is not whether rich people are good or bad, whether wealth is good or bad, but whether we obey His commandment or not. To love one another as we love ourselves.

I am writing this not to justified my own intention or to undermined poverty because there are some holy souls who are called by God who take the vow of poverty for the sake of the perversion in the Body. In conclusion, as we are hungry for food, or hungry for possesion, we should be hungry for the Giver first.

But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well (Matt 6 :33)

Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum

This is a reflection from 1 Sm 8:4-7, 10-22a, which is the first reading on Friday, 15 january.

This is a story when Samuel was the judge of Israel who was preceded by Eli. Prior to Samuel time as a judge, Israel were defeated twice by Philistine and the Ark of the Covenant was stolen by them. Samuel reconciled the Israel before God and Philistine was defeated.

However when Samuel become old, the elders of Israel asked Samuel to ask God to anoint a king for them. This is what they say:

“Now that you are old, and your sons do not follow your example, appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us.”

This request somehow speaks to me when I read it. I relate this question to my life, many times I ask God to grant me something so that I can be like other people. What other people or the society values it somehow make me want to value it as well. For example, in the academic or research work, PhD degree is valued very high, and when I have the opportunity to do doctorate study, it somehow become my value as well.

Some people may call this a social pressure. So when I read this passage, few things come to my mind. First, I could relate what Israelites request to my life situations. I request another King but God, because I want to be like other nation. How tempting it is to see what other nations have when they are ruled by a king. Remember that at that time God is their King and the Judges are God’s representative.

Looking at my life, I feel that I need security which actually God who provides, but I request to God to give me a tangible or physical security, such as a lot of money, cars, house, etc. However, how many rich people who feel insecure?

When I compare to the other nations, I can sense the envy start to grow in me. They have what I dont have. They experience what I dont experience. They seems to be happier than me, which leads me to ask God, please make me to be like them. I want to be like them, I want to have a king like them. It blinds me to know that I have a King, the Almighty God.

Through Samuel, God has warned the Israelites what will happen if they are ruled by a king. God also warned me, what will happen if I make other thing become a king in my life. The Israelites did not want to listen to this warning, and thought that they can pay the price so that they can satisfy their envy to be like the other seemingly more powerful and prosperous nation.

This story helps me to reflect in my life, how many kings that I have enthroned. It is a reminder to me that there is a King which is the true King of my heart, of my body and of my soul. It helps to assure me, to belief that I have to enthrone only one King, the King who loves me unconditionally, who has made flesh his love and who died for me. This King rules uniquely and I sometimes become confused of His unusual way.

This is my homage to the King, Jesus the Christ.

Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum”

A Blessing in Disguise

I have been sick for 2 days due to gastritis. I couldn’t even sit for too long as I constantly feel headache if I do not laying down.

Fortunately this afternoon I feel much better. At least I can stand without feeling the pain in my head. Strangely I got an idea to attend daily mass at st mary of the angel church. Maybe I just want to give thanks to God or maybe I just want to meet him. I had no expectation but a simple and quick daily mass.

When I sat down and was about to pray I saw across of my seat there were many friars there. After I finished my opening prayer I looked at them one by one, I saw fr Jp, fr john wong, fr jivan, fr clifford, br derrick,br rowland,and many other friar that I dont know.

Then the mass was started, I opened the breaking bread while thinking what event is happening?
The altar servers entered the church, they are also friars. The celebrants of the mass are fr michael and fr paul, the head of custody of st Anthony ,and the provincial of Holy Spirit provice ( Ofm order for australia,malaysia,and singapore).

The mass is the ceremony of the first profession of the four new friars!

I have never attended a mass crowded by those number of religious people. They made the mass become special for me ( the mass become longer than usual :p).

I have never witness a holy profession like this before, and to share it here i took some pictures. ( I know I should turn off my mobile device while attending mass, please forgive me).

So it is a small gift from God for me to attend this special ceremony.

During the homily the priest mentioned about vocation, and he said that

What we are called by God is to Love God and to Love others

Christmas Recollection

In this post I would like to share about my experience attending a recollection organized by the Cenacle sister for Christmas preparation last December. There are 3 sessions which I will share one by one:

The Fidelity of Waiting

Many people understand how does it feel to wait. Some people wait with anxiety, because they don’t know whether the thing they are waiting for will come. Some people wait with excitement because they don’t know what will happen but somehow they have faith.

We wait because we are expecting, and in the context of Christmas we are expecting of the birth of Jesus. In the other context we are waiting for graduation, or for job offer, or for contract offer, or many other things that we are waiting for.

Waiting is not necessarily bad, because when the hearts wait, things happened, waiting is in between time. I learned from many bible stories where many people were waiting, John the Baptist was waiting for Jesus to come and Mary also was waiting to give birth to Jesus.

Attentiveness to the Gift of Light

While waiting, I also learned that I need to be attentive. I like to use the analogy of a farmer to illustrate this. After the farmer sow the seed, and tend the seed, there is nothing else he can do other than waiting for the seed to grow and become crops. When the farmer is waiting he needs to be attentive to the growth process of the crops. Being attentive when is the crops need to be watered. Being attentive if there is any weed that need to be removed.

let me end this sharing with a beautiful story:

Table for Two

He sits by himself at a table for two. The uniformed waiter returns to his side and asks, “Would you like to go ahead and order, sir?” The man has, after all, been waiting since seven o’clock–almost half an hour.

“No, thank you,” the man smiles. “I’ll wait for her a while longer.
How about some more coffee?”

“Certainly, sir.”

The man sits, his clear blue eyes gazing straight through the flowered centerpiece. He fingers his napkin, allowing the sounds of light chatter, tinkling silverware, and mellow music to fill his mind. He is dressed in a sport coat and tie. His dark brown hair is neatly combed, but one stray lock insists on dropping to his forehead. The scent of his cologne adds to his clean cut image. He is dressed up enough to make a companion feel important, respected, loved. Yet he is not so formal as to make one uncomfortable. It seems that he has taken every precaution to make others feel at ease with him. Still, he sits alone.

The waiter returns to fill the man’s coffee cup. “Is there anything else I can get for you, sir?”

“No, thank you.”

The waiter remains standing at the table. Something tugs at his curiosity. “I don’t mean to pry, but…” His voice trails off. This line of conversation could jeopardize his tip.

“Go ahead,” the man encourages. His is strong, yet sensitive, inviting conversation.

“Why do you bother waiting for her?” the waiter finally blurts out. This man has been at the restaurant other evenings, always patiently alone.

Says the man quietly, “Because she needs me.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Well, sir, no offense, but assuming that she needs you, she sure isn’t acting much like it. She’s stood you up three times just this week.”

The man winces, and looks down at the table. “Yes, I know.”

“Then why do you still come here and wait?”

“Cassie said that she would be here.”

“She’s said that before,” the waiter protests. “I wouldn’t put up with it. Why do you?”

Now the man looks up, smiles at the waiter, and says simply, “Because I love her.”

The waiter walks away, wondering how one could love a girl who stands him up three times a week. The man must be crazy, he decides. Across the room, he turns to look at the man again. The man slowly pours cream into his coffee. He twirls his spoon between his fingers a few times before stirring sweetener into his cup. After staring for a moment into the liquid, the man brings the cup to his mouth and sips, silently watching those around him.

He doesn’t look crazy, the waiter admits. Maybe the girl has qualities that I don’t know about. Or maybe the man’s love is stronger than most. The waiter shakes himself out of his musings to take an order from a party of five.

The man watches the waiter, wonders if he’s ever been stood up. The man has, many times. But he still can’t get used to it. Each time, it hurts. He’s looked forward to this evening all day. He has many things, exciting things, to tell Cassie. But, more importantly, he wants to hear Cassie’s voice. He wants her to tell him all about her day, her triumphs, her defeats….anything, really. He has tried so many times to show Cassie how much he loves her. He’d just like to know that she cares for him, too. He sips sporadically at the coffee, and loses himself in thought, knowing that Cassie is late, but still hoping that she will arrive.

The clock says nine-thirty when the waiter returns to the man’s table. “Is there anything I can get for you?”

The still empty chair stabs at the man. “No, I think that will be all for tonight. May I have the check please?”

“Yes, sir.”

When the waiter leaves, the man picks up the check. He pulls out his wallet and signs. He has enough money to have given Cassie a feast. But he takes out only enough to pay for his five cups of coffee and the tip. Why do you do this, Cassie, his mind cries as he gets up from the table.

“Good-bye,” the waiter says, as the man walks towards the door.
“Good night. Thank you for your service.”

“You’re welcome, sir,” says the waiter softly, for he sees the hurt in the man’s eyes that his smile doesn’t hide. The man passes a laughing young couple on his way out, and his eyes glisten as he thinks of the good time he and Cassie could have had. He stops at the front and makes reservations for tomorrow. Maybe Cassie will be able to make it, he thinks.

“Seven o’clock tomorrow for party of two?” the hostess confirms.
“That”s right,” the man replies.

“Do you think she’ll come”” asks the hostess. She doesn’t mean to be rude, but she has watched the man many times alone at his table for two.

“Someday, yes. And I will be waiting for her.” The man buttons his overcoat and walks out of the restaurant, alone. His shoulders are hunched, but through the windows the hostess can only guess whether they are hunched against the wind or against the man’s hurt.

As the man turns toward home, Cassie turns into bed. She is tired after an evening out with friends. As she reaches toward her night stand to set the alarm, she sees the note that she scribbled to herself last night. “7:00,” it says. “Spend some time in prayer.” Darn, she thinks. She forgot again. She feels a twinge of guilt, but quickly pushes it aside. She needed that time with her friends. And now she needs her sleep. She can pray tomorrow night. Jesus will forgive her. And she’s sure he doesn’t mind.