Sunday, January 03, 2016

Little Update

I have just created a new blog for my reflections here.

New gust in my world?

I am thinking of doing regular postings again and so will try to do weekly postings.  I will not consider it my New Year's Resolution because blogging cannot be top in my priorities as a priest.  I wear quite a number of hats as a priest: in the parish, in the seminary and in the archdiocese.  As I am neither the official blogger nor spokesman of the parish, seminary or the archdiocese, I cannot put blogging above my primary duties.   So, it cannot be a resolution.  I will rely on God to help me be regular in my blogging.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Ugly Singaporean or merely poor

I am just now spending a few days with my family at Sentosa. I just saw something that I just had to post. A young mother had piled up lots of food and it was definitely too much for her family of four. Then she discreetly, or at least tried, to pack half of what she took into plastic bags. This was a breakfast buffet. She has at least 8 pieces of pastries, 4 pancakes, a large bowl of Vadai and another bowl of grilled salmon.  That was just part of the "stash" she collected. I am sure the servers noticed but she was a customer and hotel guest and so could not say anything. Her husband was with her and appeared to approve. Sigh!  As my mother would say in dialect, "Chau Kwan!"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stranded … or not!

As I write this, I am at Hong Kong International Airport. I was supposed to be on a flight back to Singapore after a short trip with my brother's family and my mother. However, due to something  "operational", the flight has been delayed for more than 5 hours.  The Captain of the flight had reported sick.  The airline was very gracious, giving us a meal (each person about HK$120), and trying to get people back via other airlines, etc.  What bugged me was that I had not activated my insurance.  On my other holidays, I had always activated my travel insurance but this time, it had slipped my mind because of the short notice.  My trip was only confirmed last Thursday and I flew to Hong Kong on Saturday.  Murphy comes through again!  Sigh!  I suppose I have to be thankful that it was only a delay and not something more serious.  Learning from Merlin Carruthers (I hope I got the name right), I still need to say, "Praise The Lord!"  At least I had more time to explore the airport … it's not as if I had money to spend on the merchandise in the branded stores ☺️.  Well I have another 50 minutes or so before boarding.  Better catch up on some sleep 😴

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Beauty & Beast in WhatsApp

I have had WhatsApp for quite some time now and it has been on limited use. That is because I cannot type as quickly as those who use text everyday. I was not used to the abbreviations that were being used. Even now, I tend to spell every word when I text. I have tried to use “CU” instead of “See You” but I just felt uncomfortable using the abbreviation. Every now and then I would garner enough courage … or would that be gall … to use one of the text abbreviations and then start worrying whether I used it correctly or whether I was understood correctly.

This brings me to my recent experience with WhatsApp. I had switched off the notification alert sound because it was getting on my nerves. It sounded just when I was at a meeting or at Mass. Every time I looked at my handphone, I see a list of messages; even when I had quit the app! As there were usually more messages I disregard than take note of, I had missed some important messages. It was like email with spam all over again. I had moved out of hotmail many years ago because it took me more time to scan the junk mail filter for authentic messages than to answer authentic mail. Now it appears in what I consider a very convenient, reliable, cost-saving and, dare I say it, time-saving app. The beauty of it is that when I am in another country, it is a useful, inexpensive and convenient way of sending messages. The beast is that I might have to rummage through all the messages to see which ones are relevant.

Being instant has its advantages: time is saved. Yet I may end up making a hasty reply that could inconvenient others. just now, my brothers had wanted to celebrate Mothers’ Day with dinner on 4 May. I know that Mothers’ Day always falls on a Sunday. So I just assumed that 4 May was a Sunday. Guess what? It’s a Saturday. I must have upset some plans because of my overly quick reply. Again the beauty of being a time saver but my impulsiveness had changed it into a beast.

I used to think that I would be okay with technology. As I grow older, I realise I get less efficient. Sigh!

Friday, April 12, 2013


I had some thought as I was watching the seminarians playing volleyball — the only game that the whole community can play together. It brings back memories of my difficulty with community games when I was a seminarian myself. I have never been very athletic. The only thing I was able to do at length was to swim. Even then, I would leisurely swim laps for three quarters of an hour. Team sports like soccer, basketball and hockey were distant dreams for me as hand-eye-leg co-ordination did not seem natural to me. I remember a soccer game in school where a classmate reminded me to keep to the opposite side of where uthe ball was.

Back to the seminary. Volleyball was and continues to be the community game of choice in the seminary. I would try my best and some brothers would cheer me on to keep me motivated. Some brothers keep to the principle of "playing to win" and express their displeasure at my clumsiness. There was one brother who was, like me, not able to play well and expressed the opinion that community games was not really important for priestly formation. After all, priests did not need to excel in sports to be a pastor. He kept coming for community games because he knew that the father formators placed some weight in community games. Except for him, those of us who were terrible in games tried our best and even tried to have individual training on days when we were allowed to have personal activities. We were quite serious in trying to help our team mates to win at volleyball. Nevertheless, whether we were serious about community games or not, we were ordained.

Looking at the seminarians now, I wonder whether the same thoughts are held by the seminarians of today. Community activities are important, even games. When I think of why I even trained, I realised the seriousness of fun. Ironic is it not? I wished that the community would have more fun during community games and so I took training seriously. You could say that I seriously wanted the community to have fun. Thus I worked at what seemed insignificant. Eventually, the 'not-so-fun' training sessions helped me to enjoy the game and because I could contribute a little to the game, I enjoyed the sweetness of the win and the agony of defeat with my brothers in the community. The importance of community games is the sharing of the self when one gets involved in the game. The more we are involved, the more we contribute to community. I believe that community was really important to me because I had involved myself.

The Church is community. Priests can be proficient, efficient and even perfect leaders. However, if they cannot understand community, they cannot be good pastors. Leaders ensure problems are solved and things fo smoothly in the community. Pastors are more concerned with the spiritual welfare of the flock than the efficiency of processes and tasks. I often like to express it this way. What is the use of a pastor who ensures the perfect running of a parish like a well-oiled machine but there is no heart. Better to have a parish with issues and imperfections, and caring parishioners working together to resolve them. This is, of course, my humble opinion.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Name Dropping

Warning:  The portion below is a rant.

There was a small ceremony of consecrating a virgin in the seminary today.  Coadjutor Archbishop William Goh presided over it in a small prayer room.  The lay staff in the seminary was not informed of this ceremony as it was supposed to be a quiet one.  There was a party of a few invited guests to that ceremony.  One of them was a lady in her late 60s.  She entered the seminary and asked where the chapel was.  The staff who met her replied that the was no booking of the chapel for anyone and asked if she had mistaken the venue.  The lady replied that the staff member "did not know anything" and that she was invited personally by Archbishop Goh.  The lay staff replied that the chapel was not open to the public and that a group of sisters doing a retreat was having a Eucharistic celebration at the moment and that the lady, whom she had addressed as 'sister', was mistaken as she would have been informed if something was to occur in the seminary chapel.  The lady replied that the staff "did not know anything" and just walked away in a huff.  Of course the lay staff in question was very put off by her attitude and was was very annoyed.  In a loud voice she proclaimed, "What kind of Catholics do we have here?"  Indeed, I felt her annoyance and empathise with her.  Even if she was a close intimate friend of the Archbishop, she should, as a good Catholic, understand that the staff was just doing her job. Dropping names, especially the way it was done, was just odious and rude.  I know that the Archbishop would not say anything about the offence because he tries his best to be amiable to all.  What makes me mad is that I cannot do anything either because I was not present.   How I wish I could teach this lady some manners?!!

NOTE:  I make a reflection on my feelings below.

Although there were occasions that I had expressed my displeasure over things, I had tried my best to be polite.  There were several times, I recall, that I was less than ideal, raising my voice and literally admonishing people.  After the emotions passed, I would sometimes regret my actions.  The question I would ask myself is, "Would a pastor with the heart of Jesus do things this way?"  I know that I would start thinking, "He/She should have done it this/that way ..." or "I would have done it this/that way ..."  By accusing someone of being rude and trying to correct him/her, was I not just like that person, not trying to understand why that person acted the way he/she did?  By accusing someone of being arrogant and rude, was I not being arrogant and rude myself?  When I say I hate people who practise name dropping, am I not the same when I expect to be treated differently when I am in my cassock?  Both cases are expressing one's self-importance to others.  It would seem that I should now add this act of hypocrisy to my list for the sacrament of reconciliation.