Sunday, December 20, 2009

I've been a Catholic for 37 years...

I can't believe it. It's 37 years since I became a Catholic. I recently celebrated my Baptism anniversary on 17 December. In fact, it's the first time I ever did. No big deal. Actually I didn't even announce it to anyone except my husband Patrick.

To me, it was a day I remembered all things dear to me that my Faith had brought into my life.

There's too many to list - but definitely one major one this year had been Mary Isabelle Archibald - my beloved daughter.

Just a sharing - God really spoke to me through the 3rd Advent week and reassured me that barren women had a special place in his heart. One such reading especially was on the First Reading on Thursday of the 3rd Week of Advent (btw, 17 Dec 2009 was that Thursday).

Although that reading were not read in church as from Dec 17 till 24, because special masses are given and there are specially assigned readings read instead (well something I just discovered while reflecting the daily readings from the daily + Sunday missal - remember my new Liturgical Year resolution - for those following my blog), from that reading, I really felt that God wanted me to know that I'm special and he will love me even when there are times my husband seem not able to or when the "disgrace" of not being able to have my own children became too difficult to bear.

The readings through the Dec 17 to 24 period also that showed me that miracles do happen to barren women - one was the mighty and strong Samson's mom - Manoah's wife (19Dec - 1st Reading) and of course the other more famous one - St John the Baptist's mom Elizabeth (19Dec - Gospel).

These are messages of hope. And even if God has not awaken my womb as he did for these other people - he sent me and Patrick, Mary in the most amazing way (read my earlier post).

As time is running out as we are rush to go for mass (followed by a full day of fellowship and Christmas carolling in my BEC), I shall have to stop now.

My wish to all is to rejoice and have hope this coming 2010, blessed Christmas to one and all,
Hazel

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Misconception of the Immaculate Conception

Today marks the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A mouthful? Well, isn't that the signature or trademark of most things Catholic. And I'm beginning to love it.... yup, yup, yup.

Back to this post. Now I'm definitely NOT going to write volumes about what the feast day is about. You can easily google it. Instead, this feast brings back to mind a very funny memory from my teenage years.

I think I should be about Form 2 or 3, which means about 14 or 15 years-old. We were in our Catechism class in my school (sadly, a thing of the past. These days there are no more public missionary schools in Malaysia) and the topic of the day was Immaculate Conception.

Mrs Connie Chan (our teacher) decided to ask a class of cradle Catholics: "Who can explain what Immaculate Conception means?"

As usual, total silence (you can hear a pin drop, and girls start to look down in case they get called). What do you expect from a class of cradle Catholics. I think mostly the silence was because of indifference and of course ignorance. This round I think ignorance scored close to 100%.

Well, that day my friend Sophie Chen and I were feeling pretty brave, so she put up her hands and tried to answer. Out of her mouth came these words: "I think it is Mary becoming pregnant with Jesus, but she still remained pure (hehehe... think she was trying to use a word other than virgin, you know la, all girl-Catholic Convent school vocabulary in front of the teacher)."

Mrs Chan immediately said that it was not the answer. I did not know what spirit possessed me (I'm sure it was not the Holy Spirit, cos' it would have given the right answer) but I then blurted out that: "Mary was still a virgin although she had conceived Jesus."

And I could see some heads nodding in agreement but still silence loomed in the class, till Mrs Chan opened her mouth again, this time with a smile or perhaps even a little laugh.

What she said next I could not remember clearly, but this experience has definitely cured me of the misconception of what the Immaculate Conception is all about.

It is definitely not about Mary's virginity. Rather it's about Mary herself being conceived without original sin as she was already chosen to be Jesus' Mommy. So the Ark of the Covenant definitely needed to be a spotless vessel. That's what our Church believes and so should we.

And that's that.

Now why did I choose to share this embarassing blast from my past. Well, reason being many Catholics that I meet today still use the term Immaculate Conception to describe themselves or others getting pregnant without the presence of some sperms in the picture.

I do not know whether they do it because they were like me and Sophie many years ago or that they just came out with their own teachings (hmmm). Just kidding.

As a cradle Catholic myself I understand completely if you have been confused all your life about this or just know vaguely about most teachings of the Church.

However, having said that, perhaps this new Liturgical Year, you might CHOOSE to make a change? If your answer is YES, then great... I will have one more friend to journey with as I stumble upon many truths about this Faith I inherited from my grandparents and which now I cherish more with eash passing day.

P.S. Happy Birthday Marie... you are one Catholic who taught me much in my walk. Btw, she was named Maria Conception Valerio (hoped I got that right) - no brownie points for guessing why, right?

Time flies.... as always

I can't believe it. What seems to be a blink of an eye to me and already we have gone into the second week of Advent. I thank God, I'm still holding on to my new resolve to read the week day mass readings and reflect upon them (not just the Sunday readings - which we do as a team during our Music Ministry practice for Sunday mass).

This exercise for me has proven beneficial since it gives me a glimpse of heaven (especially from the first readings), a promise of things to come (amid the 2012 type of prophecy). A space where enemies on earth are friends on that plain... the new Jeruselam. Ahhh.....

I really needed this spiritual boost because of many reasons.

One is I have been suffering from this never ending cough and flu for the past week. The type that keeps you coughing till you're breathless. Worse, I can't enjoy most of the sweet smelling aroma from my neighbour's awesome cooking. Bummer,rite?

Well, that's why reading something uplifting like the Word of God and doing my best to prepare my heart for Jesus is my theraphy. I pray I can keep the momentum going (in the background now is Mary Isabelle wailing for some attention... hold that thought. Okay I'm back after putting her to bed.)

What I'm doing is to keep improving on my faith journey... willingly... without pressure from family or ministry, just my own freewill kicking in. It's the best way to learn....

Second, is it gives me the sweet assurance that after this life, we have a new and definitely much better one waiting for us. With so many people dying recently from disasters, accidents and diseases and old age, it's really good to know that heaven is a place call home.

Enough of rantings from me. For those of you who have popped by, pls do leave your mark by clicking FOLLOW or a comment. Just say hi or give me some feedback.

Looking forward to some of that for this new year, okay? Deal?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy New Year Everybody!!!

New Year signifies new beginnings... a new chance at life. I'm so glad I'm Catholic cos' I can now start my new year resolutions and when they don't work out so well, I have another shot at them come 1 Jan 2010... just kidding.

Yes, today marks the new Liturgical Year. Ah huh, Advent has started. Turn your Sunday Missal to Cycle C and Daily Missal to Cycle II....if what I'm saying all sounds like Greek to you, no worries. It was to me till very recently (almost 4 years ago and I've been Catholic for 37 years. Btw, Greek is one of the languages of our Faith, so if you thought Greek, it's a good sign..*wink*)

Looking back at last year, I had my shares of blessings + misgivings which I'm sure are there to teach + test me.

Major blessings:
Expanding our family unit with the arrival of Mary Isabelle Archibald, our beloved daughter
Experiencing motherhood with all its joys + pains.
Having a once in a lifetime experience to help + see the building of a brand new Catholic Church - which is my own parish.

Losses:
Lost two local spiritual leaders and friends from Servants of Yahweh Covenant Community - one was Ralph Curzon, who passed away earlier this year and just a few hours ago Benedict Lye. May their souls rejoice together with the saints + angels in the presence of our Blessed Trinity.
Lost my dog Rusty girl on 2 Oct. She died of a broken heart (since Mary Isabelle came home).

There's much more I would love to share. My new dreams, hopes and aspirations, but it's getting late and I need to sleep before mass in the morning.

Once again Happy New Year to all my fellow Catholics wherever you are....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas With CrisKroz - A Family Heartbeat

Last year's Christmas Battle Of the Bands champion CrisKroz is once again making waves during this Yuletide season. This time, they are launching their very first album entitled A Family Hearbeat on 3 Dec.
The official launch will be held in Wisma MAA at 3pm.

In line with the spirit of season, the album showcases 10 tracks of Christmas songs, of which two (Emmanuel and Peace He Will Bring) are original numbers written by the band's vocalist and song writer Cecelia Biggs.

CrisKroz was born as a result of the members' decision to take part in the Christmas Battle of the Bands competition held at the Central Market open arena last year.

Besides Cecelia, the group consist of Ravi Kana, who is not only keyboardist and vocalist, but also her beloved spouse. Then there's Aaron Ravi, their son and guitarist of the band. Other members are Aloysius John, who plays bass and Christopher Felix on drums.

With the RM10k competition cash prize in hand, and adding some personal savings, the group embarked on this album project, which they have dedicated to all families (thus the title of the album).

After winning the Christmas Battle Of the Bands, CrisKroz had also performed live for the Church Of Divine Mercy in the Families United concert.

Known for their unique style of Christian Praise & Worship music, their genre is classified under Contemporary Christian Gospel.

Why You Should Own This Album

Firstly, it gives a fresh prespective or twist to some golden oldies. Guess that was the element that won them the championship last year.

Second, there are not many creative Malaysian Catholics who release albums. So when they do, support them so that more talent will emerge and we will have a great pool. For so many years we have been always buying foreign and Prostestants, right? Nothing against that, but Belilah Barangan Malaysia, especially Katolik Malaysia. Isn't it fantastic?

Third, they are promoting good family values.

Fourth and most importantly, they are also supporting some charities - especially since one of them is the St Thomas More building fund... ha... ;-)

On a personal note, I'm also proud to say that two of the members are parishioners of St Thomas More and in fact one of them - the cute drummer Christopher is from our Music Ministry (girls I'm not sure if he's still available though. You gotta do some research yourself - sorry).

I've seen Chris grew up from a little boy into a young man whom God has blessed with the ability to play several instruments (drums, guitar, bass, piano... to say the least).

Aloysius is also a good friend, whose life testimony on God's providence will shock you into the faith if not anything. Besides that Aloy is also another one who plays several instruments well.

I don't really know Ravi's family that well but I'm sure they too have a compelling Faith story to share with us.

So if you guys want to know more - first get the album and then perhaps one day they might have a concert in a parish near you.

To order the albums, email: hazelong888@gmail.com

If you are from abroad (outside Malaysia), you can pay through PayPal. You can either have it shipped to you or you can buy it for someone you know in Malaysia as a Christmas present. We can include a card with your personalised message for them.

With that said, it's off to my own Christmas mass practice soon, not forgetting mass for tomorrow.

To all of you Catholic Christians out there - Have a fantastic Advent and a wonderful Christmas!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A challenge I can't resist

One-Minute Apologist
Click to order
My sister-in-law Bridget recently visited me at home and found on my sofa a book entitled "The One-Minute Apologist". She asked whether I could do a talk about Apologetics some day for her Sunday school students or something like that.

I couldn't believe my ears. Me to a talk on Apologetics? Well, I told her I've done testimonies and sharing about other topics but so far none on Apologetics though it is now my favourite Catholic subject.

So since it has become my new favourite topic, I told her that I'll take up the challenge. She said I might try to perhaps do some simple tracts on it for starters. I thought that it was a good suggestion.

Well, as long as God can use me as His instrument in any way, I shall be open to it. Please do pray for me....

Anyway, here is a link to Catholic Answers radio station and an interview with one of my favourite apologist Patrick Madrid.

Enjoy and learn...

With that I continue to pray for Pat's grandson Killian who's still fighting for his life - with God's help of course.

Goodnite my fellow Catholics and those coming Home soon... wherever you are.

(My all time favourite apologetic works. I'm a fan of Pat Madrid and Scott Hahn. Click below to find out more...)

Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming CatholicSurprised By Truth 2: 15 Men and Women Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons For Becoming Catholic. (v. 2)Surprised by Truth 3: 10 More Converts Explain the Biblical and Historical Reason for Becoming Catholic (v. 3)Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Creative Catholics - that's the new name for my online shopping blog

Yes! A little advertisement for my other blog - which showcase creative Catholics with something interesting to offer.

So far, I've only managed to put up my own Cradle Creations knotted Rosaries, but very soon, we will have other things available for your Christmas shopping, I pray.

One, will be very beautiful crafts from a charming lady from my BEC. Won't reveal too much till I release it officially on Creative Catholics (formerly, actually very recently - known as The Creative Catholic Centre).

Second, I hope will be a new Christmas album by a group of brillant Malaysian Catholic musicians and singers, comprising both adults and youths. Proud to say I know at least two of them personally cos' they come from my parish (St Thomas More).

I'm extremely excited. Life is full of surprises. I'd never guess that one day, I'll actually be doing craft for sale and to top it off - one with a spiritual and religious twist to it. Guess God is teaching me creative ways of evangelisation.










(Spreading the Catholic Faith to the ends of the earth thru craft...cool, rite?)
Enough said for now, have to catch up on my sleep...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Please pray for Killian Patrick - a very premature grandson of Patrick Madrid

Killian and His Daddy Timothy holding hands


Killian after the delivery


Before I blog any further, I just wanted to first offer a short prayer for Killian Patrick: "Abba Father, may you strengthen little Killian with his every breath. Heal him, build him up, this tiny cradle Catholic. May every single day of his life be a testimony of your amazing love for us. Amen!"

It has been ages since I had time to blog or read other people's blog, not to mention Facebook and Twitter after the arrival of my dear little Mary. However, I had to do some important thing on my other blog (Creative Catholic Centre) and that was when I chanced upon Killian Patrick's story on Patrick Madrid's blog.

As a premature baby myself (and so is Mary), Killian's continuing battle to stay alive touches me deeply. I thank God that both Mary and I were strong enough to breathe without the incubator.

You can follow Timothy Madrid's blog (Killian's dad) for the full story and updates.
http://timothymadrid.blogspot.com/2009/10/hopsital-update.html

Join me in prayer for this cradle Catholic. May he grow up to be a mighty man of God! Amen!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Through The Eyes of a soon-2b-Catholic


Hi all, I'm so excited now. My two month old baby girl Mary Isabelle is going to baptised in the next few hours.

As a mom, I'm overjoyed. The greatest gift my parents gave me was that they baptised me into the Catholic Faith.

Now relearning and rediscovering what I misunderstood and now understand about being Catholic, I've already started imparting my faith to little Mary. It's just so much better knowing soon she'll officially join this great big universal family of ours.

Come back in a next few days and read about Mary's own account of her Faith journey. Yes, even as young as she is, she already has a grand tale to tell and share. I hope it will inspire you already full-grown Roman Catholics to be in awe of our Faith once again.

See ya soon. We got to get ready now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Please welcome Mary Isabelle Archibald

It has been said that God works in mysterious ways ... actually in our case it was not so much the mystery but the many signs and wonders that have me in awe of Him - as always.

There have been many miracles in my life but the most recent one was how speedily and unexpectedly He sent my husband and I our beautiful and beloved daughter Mary Isabelle Archibald.

For those of you who do not know Patrick + I, we have been married for almost 8 years now. From the start we have been open to life, but of course, the first two years, we prayed that God will give us a natural honeymoon.

We were indeed happy that what we learnt during our BOM class proved helpful. Then our 3rd anniversary came, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th... and we both felt that the honeymoon has been extended a wee bit too long.

I must say that I was even ignorant that the Catholic Church was against IVF till I attended a talk in St Ignatius Church, Kelana Jaya, perhaps about 2-3 years ago. I'm glad because I had to admit that I was seriously considering it as an option prior to that.

Even after knowing, the temptation was very great to give into to the persistent persuasion of many, including Catholics, who believed IVF, was one of God's ways of helping couples conceive.

I'm glad that after lots of soul searching, Pat + I very recently (about a month ago) resorted to the final Catholic channel of having children - that's through adoption.

The moment we made that decision, I felt peace in my heart. We then started talking to the various Catholic-run adoption centres and made known our desire. We were given the usual thick application forms that enquired many questions at length about our biodata and reasons for adoption.

Not only that, with it comes the usual script about waiting for a period of time before a child may be available for adoption. From many of them and our friends' stories, it may take up to years sometimes.

So in my mind, I thought it may be good, to help us prepare emotionally, spiritually and definitely financially. Also logistic wise and who will assist me in looking after the child and so on and so forth.

I remember sharing our decision to my mom one day and she said: "What if God suddenly bless you with a child and by Chinese New Year, you will join the ranks of parents who will receive angpows because they have children,". She was saying it in jest and as encouragement that things will work out for us. Little did I know it was indeed a prophetic message.

Patrick was really very very "rajin" (diligent) and meant business after our decision. He was the one who had actively gone to the many centres to collect their forms and let them know we want to adopt both in West Malaysia and East Malaysia (where we travel regularly for work).

Just two weeks ago, I received a call from him while he was in Miri saying: "Are you sitting down," I said yes and the next few words that he spoke sounded so unreal..."They have a baby girl for us.

I can't believed it because only two days prior to the call, Patrick walked into the Human Life Service in Miri and they gave him the usual thick forms and script about waiting....
To cut a long story short, wee hours of Monday morning (6 July) we flew to complete the paperwork to officially turn Mary Isabelle into an Archibald. We went for mass on Tuesday morning and by about 11.30am on 7 July 09 it was done. Her birth certificate with us as parents would be ready for collection next month.
Patrick + I were overjoyed. Then the moment came to meet her for the first time... yes, we adopted the baby without knowing how she looked like. We just trusted the Lord's providence and proceeded despite some initial concerns from family members who knew about our decision.
Indeed, the Lord knows what is best. I was pleasantly surprised to find a baby who looked similar to me when I was a baby. That is definitely no coincidence - just God's plan, and His Plan is perfect.

Other things that made us know God's plan is perfect are:

Mary Isabelle is supposed to be due on 10 July, but she decided to come out early, so that Pat could walk right through the door of the Human Life Service Centre and become her daddy.

She is also a premature baby just like mommy Hazel.
Mary Isabelle was born on Pentecost Sunday this year (31 May 09). Definitely, the Holy Spirit's work. What a great day to be born - on the Church's Birthday!
Her natural mother only wanted Catholic parents for Mary Isabelle. When Pat walked in to apply, there were many other parents who were in queue before us. Since the criterion was Catholic parents, HLS called down and discovered the Catholics before us had changed their minds for different reasons and other potential parents were non-Catholics. So Pat's name was next in line, leading to that surprise phone call just within 2 days of our application. Boy, am I glad to be Catholic!!!
Our application and approval of adoption was on 7 July 09 which falls on my mother birthday. So officially Mary Isabelle became an Archibald on grandma Gladys' birthday. According to my mom, it's her greatest birthday gift.
I must say the first night as parents really made me appreciate my mother and grandmother for their patience in bringing me up. Mary Isabelle was up from midnight till 4am before sleeping.
According to my mom, Mary Isabelle is just like me when it came to crying till she turned red and shivering whenever she urinated, passed motion and was hungry. She sure has pipes for a cantor in church... fortunately, there were no complaints from other guests about her consistent screaming cries throughout the night.
I'm glad the second night she slept more and last night was much better as she only woke up twice to drink milk, then it was off to dreamland. Thank you Lord, we sure needed the rest.
I pray that God will continue to give us strength and enough rest to get through the sleepless night phase.
I'm sure He will continue to equip us with the right skills to bring up Mary Isabelle as a mighty woman of God - just like the two women she has been named after (Mother Mary and St Isabel of France).
Do come back and check the blog for more updates of baby Mary Isabelle ... As of now here are some of the many photos we took of her (just click on the word "her" - will lead you to her photos.
For those who have prayed for us all these years and especially the last few days ... thank you very much. God indeed answers prayers.

(You may want to prepare yourselves by reading up on what adoption is all about. Below are some recommended reading...)
The Complete Adoption Book: Everything You Need to Know to Adopt a Child The Complete Book of International Adoption: A Step by Step Guide to Finding Your Child

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gosh I'm back...

Hi all who follow my ramblings as a Re-learning Catholic of the cradle kind,

June was such a crazy month, in terms of work, travels and fund raising activities... and the inconsistent internet connectivity I faced at home. Indeed challenging.

Methinks, July might just be another similar month, if not worst in magnitude. But you know what, God is my strength and I shall survive and thrive in this journey call LIFE because of the Blessed Holy Trinity.

I was very happy last night that I delivered my very first handmade knotted Rosary which was ordered online (through gmail). It was so cool.
The person who ordered my Rosary actually blogged about my creations... I'm so happy about it. Thanks Suzanne. Check out her piece on my St Thomas More Rosary keychain (St Peter's keychain collection).

I'm also very happy that a couple from St Ignatius parish actually chanced upon my blog when researching St Thomas More, my parish patron saint. The great news is they saw my announcements about the two musical concerts and have shown interest to come for it with their friends....

Please Pat + Richard bring your friends and family... strangers... whoever. We need all the help we can get to build our new church.

From one Catholic to another - THANK YOU!

I truly enjoyed the choir camp I just returned from.... didn't manage to take many significant photos, but thanks to my other choir members, I get to savour the sweet memories when I see their photos of the event on Facebook.

I've so much to share today and yet time is running out.

Please pray for me and Pat. Pat and I are preparing ourselves for another phase in our walk as a couple. Will update you all soon.

May God bless you all abundantly in all areas of your life.....Amen!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy St Thomas More Day!

A Man for All Seasons (Special Edition)
More in DVD
I'm so happy that we are celebrated our very first feast of St Thomas More yesterday (a day earlier cos' it was a Sunday).

St Thomas literally lost his head for his faith when he was not in favour of his friend King Henry VIII's decision to divorce his queen and later to take an oath to renounce the Pope as head of the Church.

Fr OC Lim, who is a great fan of this saint, was aptly invited to celebrate mass.

May St Thomas More continue to pray for all the politicians and lawyers of our country. We surely need his prayers and intercessions especially for politicians in Perak (very sad that my homestate has become infamous due to a new species called the Perak frogs).

God bless!

P.S. In conjunction with this feast day, yours truly has specially designed a red Rosary keychain which doubles up as a wrist band (for those with small wrists - usually women + children). Check it out by visiting: http://creativecatholiccentre.blogspot.com/

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Unplanned "pilgrimage" up North

Hi everyone who follows me here.... I've been away on the road last week and even this week. Last week, Patrick and I went up north, all the way to Jitra, Kedah, for work.

The amazing thing was, along the way, we stopped at the St Anne's new church in Bukit Mertajam. Although, I've been a regular pilgrim to St Anne's, BM when I was a child growing up in Ipoh, that annual family trip to the extremely packed feast day ended when I grew up and left the nest.

My father said the reason we used to go to St Anne's yearly was because he prayed for a baby after I was about 6 years-old. That was of course followed by the conception and birth of my brother Nicholas Ong aka Point Blanc. Thus, the annual pilgrimage to St Anne's old church to fulfil a vow or promise he made.

I usually enjoyed the car ride, but things always got too intense for my liking when we entered the smaller old church which thousands throng. We packed ourselves like sardins with long candles burning and sometimes you can see people accidentally burn the hair of the person in front of them as they processed into the church.... painful, not to mention the odd smell. Sometimes people faint due to immense stuffiness of the extremely crowded space.

The old church which is just beside the new one

Besides that, you have all these devotees (my guess is almost half are non-Catholics, and could be Hindus and Buddhist - unofficial inter-religious thingy going on) begging outside the church with their handkerchieves - as fulfillment of the vow they made when their prayers were answered through the intercession of Jesus' grandmother (St Anne la - in case you are suffering from Cradle Catholic syndrome when reading this post).

A carnival atmosphere permeates the air as hundreds of stalls will be set up selling religious items necessary for prayers like candles and flowers. Of course, there'll also be a variety of food and drinks, toys and all sorts of everything.... which later leaves a trail of plastic bags littered all over the sprawling grounds.

The other thing I look forward is the climb up a small hillock where the grotto of St Anne is located at the peak. Well, usually a joy when it doesn't rain. The years when it did rain, my shoes and sometimes my clothes get covered in mud - yucks (guess you know now, I'm not much into jungle trekking and that sort of thing, usually). I shan't mention or describe the queue to the toilets now, would I?... guess not.

Hmmm.... am I painting a negative picture here? Well, the point I'm trying to make is that despite all the discomforts, I treasure the moments of deep prayer together with the thousands who converge in Bukit Mertajam every year.

Most people have their personal miracle stories to tell after their visit to this church and that's why St Anne's BM is such a popular site as pilgrims from around the Asian region are drawn to it.

It can also be because in the past, a few people, including Hindus had witnessed St Anne's appearance. Some who were very poor had prospered and now are diehard believers, coming every year to fulfill their vows. These stories were related to me by Patrick's uncle who is a local boy of mainland Penang.

So last week, when Pat, my mother-in-law and I were passing through this area enroute to Jitra, I suggested we stop and go check out the new church (which is built just next to the old one) so that I can pray a little while.
It was indeed a great decision. I felt such peace when I arrived outside the new church. It is a magnificent architecture. I felt like I was transported back to ancient churches in Europe. The brown stone walls, the bell tower (especially with the peeling, gives it an authentically old look), the lush greenery.... ahhhhh..

So if you can't afford a pilgrimage to Europe yet, a visit here gives you a foretaste of it, minus the cool weather unfortunately.


What a sight for sore eyes. Makes my soul sing for joy. If you haven't already guessed, it was my first visit to the new church. They had life-size Stations of the Cross and beautiful angel statues, not to mention mosaic art around the church.

























No excuses not to go for Confessions, as they have so many Confessionals.... waiting for you....










I took many pictures and surveyed the grounds (it seems to never end) but most importantly I spent some quiet time with St Anne, asking her to put in a good word for me. I just didn't have anything specific to ask... in fact I wondered why. Just put in a good word for me to Jesus and that He knows what's best for me was my ardent prayer.*shrugs*

Anyway, I thank my Abba, Jesus and of course the Holy Spirit for leading us there for such a sweet and gentle experience. It was btw, Trinity Sunday weekend (though we passed through on a Friday morning).

I look forward to coming back to this parish for mass.... I'm not sure whether it would be during the feast day stretch of 17July-26July 2009 due to the "madness" of the crowds, but I'll definitely be back.

Some more pictures for you to cuci mata (your viewing pleasure).























Thursday, May 28, 2009

Starting Them Young

video

Nak meluntur aur biar dari rebungnya...(if you want to shape a bamboo tree, it must be done when it is still a shoot - or something like that).

Bottomline of this malay proverb is, if we want our kids to learn the faith, please teach them when they are young - when learning is quick and easy.... before the karat (rust or bad habits and baggages) sets in.

Or as this proverb is taught, if you want to shape or bend it when it had become an adult bamboo plant, it can break... meaning it is harder for our children to change or learn when they have grown up (at least not so easy la hor). I'm still praying for a miracle in this area...

Which explains why Patrick (my husband) has memorized the Rosary prayers including the mega-lengthy Litany of the Blessed Virgin, the Angelus, Morning Offering, Divine Mercy chaplet, etc, etc, etc....

This is all thanks to the good ole Bukit Nanas Convent training of my dear mother-in-law Clara Archibald. She made sure the whole family had their family prayers every day no matter what - meaning sibling war or otherwise - family prayers continues.

Anyway, this little clip above was captured during BEC (Basic Ecclesial Communities) Rosary prayers which was held almost every other night in the homes Catholic families residing in our residential estate in Putra Heights.

God has really used the little ones and the younger ones to speak to me this May.

I'm so glad that my BEC decided to include the children during the Rosary prayers. A smile just forms on my face everytime they recite the Hail Marys... Starting them young is a very good strategy. It will surely increase their chances of memorising the Hail Holy Queen, Let Us Pray and Memorare and of course the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. But more than just parroting the prayers, at least I know they will know who to turn to and what to say in times of trouble and panic.

I'm grateful that I'm surrounded by good Catholic parents who will support Pat and I in raising more strong Catholic children in Putra Heights when our time comes.

Btw, I just found a teenager who also memorised the Litany. Anne Marie Tan (from SS19A+SS17 BEC) and my husband were trying to challenge each other to see who could say it faster. Me, I was just lost and all I could remember was - Ark of the Covenant somewhere in the list...phew!

Then there were the teenagers from Lifeline, a youth ministry for college and single working adults who inspired me so much.


Since falling in love with making Knotted Cord Rosaries, I had offered classes to groups for a fee to help my parish St Thomas More raise RM9.5mil for our new home (meaning church building. Now we worship every week in a badminton hall) which we pray will be ready by Easter 2010.

The Lifeliners from Sunway college invited me to share this craft with them, but in the process they truly touched me. These young students mainly from Indonesia and East Malaysian would meet almost every day in May to share the Gospel Reading of the day and pray the Rosary.

It put me to shame, but in a good way, cos' it has challenged me to raise my standards in my faith journey.

A big thank you all the children in my BEC and also to the Lifeliners of Sunway and also a few from the Angels of Yahweh, for enriching my Rosary experience. Amen!





Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Catholic Communication in a hi-tech world

Last Sunday, we celebrated World Communications Day and our Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam launched the HERALD's new website at the Church of the Divine Mercy, Shah Alam.
HERALD is a Malaysian Catholic weekly, which recently got controversial when it challenged the Federal Government's ban on its usage of the word Allah.

As a parishioner of St Thomas More which had been under the care of the Jesuits until very recently, we were used to Fr OC Lim's (a former lawyer) fiery sermons that we should fight against any form of subtle religious persecution which one of it is the stop on our usage of the word Allah in our publications and Bibles.
Fr OC Lim was recently interviewed by BBC (I wanted to link you to that video clip, which seems to be replaced by an advertisement now. Pat my husband managed to watch the clip on the BBC website yesterday) on the issue.

Since I started blogging, I've discovered so much creativity that Catholics have employed to evangelise our own and others. Below is such a funny one on the promotion of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, just before Easter.






In fact, Patrick Madrid is the one who taught us to reach out to ex-Catholics or soon to be Catholics through technology. He walks his talk. Visit his blog and website and you'll see how he maximises new media to reach out to a modern world.

You can download his podcast, mp3s and what nots. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

In fact, Pat Archibald (my husband) taught me how to download the daily and Sunday missal through Avantgo (universalis.com). Hmmm... don't seem to be working now? Anyone has any idea why?

Last year, I really benefitted a lot from EWTN personalities like Fr Benedict Groeschel. There's also a famous Sister Angelica but somehow I've not downloaded her mp3s before.

We also have a pocket PC version of the Bible in our ipaqs, so that the Word of God is always with us. It's especially helpful now, that I'm in my thirsting for knowledge phase.

Recently through the blogs, I've found so many inspiring conversion stories of people from anti-Catholic families. They just blew me away. I really see how the Holy Spirit moves in amazing ways.

If you've read my first posting you'd know what a katak di bawah tempurung (a sheltered ignorant fool) I have been, to think it's mainly a one-way traffic of Catholics leaving the Church. Praise God, Hallelujah!

Anyway back to communication using technology, I'm so proud of my parish St Thomas More (STM), we are the first I think (pardon me if we are not) in Malaysia to raise funds through sms (text messages via handphones/mobile devices).

If you are currently reading this (in Malaysia) and feel a sudden burst of generosity, pls type STM (donates RM10) or STM5 (donates RM5) and send it to 36655, to help us build our new church brick by brick.

Maybe STM should put those PLEASE DONATE sign like these on its website quickly so that Catholics around the world (especially those Malaysian ones who are working or are now living abroad) can help us build our new home - a permanent and visible place of worship:
















May Your Will Be Done (or in Latin Fiat Voluntas Tua) in our cyberworld...







It's Cool 2B Catholic, isn't it ?
God bless all those who visits this blog!!!!

LIFE = Living Is For Everyone

Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments Expanded & Updated
I've been a fan of Obama before he was elected President of USA. However, his stand on planned parenthood or pro-CHOICE has changed my mind. For many of you my fellow Catholics who were not aware of it, I hope this clip below helps.



Let's pray that if people prefer the term pro-CHOICE because it gives them a feeling of control over their "own" bodies, (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit and actually God's domain), that they will truly exercise the gift of free will (again a gift from God to them), with extreme wisdom and love.

If you have to choose, choose LIFE because Living Is For Everyone.

Over and out...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Defenders of the Universal Church



VOLTRON, DEFENDER OF THE UNIVERSE! Hoped you liked the video... It's a trip down memory lane for me - back in the days of my childhood to teenage years. Well, the reason I put it here is not to promote Voltron (hey, btw what happened to the movie?) but my mind seem to connect it to this bunch of great guys in our midst.

I'm talking about the defenders of our faith. To be exact, the defenders of our beloved Universal Church - the Catholic Church or as some prefer to call us The Roman Catholic Church.

If you have read my very first post, you would know that this blog was inspired by one such gentlemen. Yes! Patrick Madrid who is a world renowned Catholic apologist really made me remember how blessed I am to be Catholic.

A typical Cradle Catholic... I grew up taking a lot of things of my faith for granted. Being Malaysian and growing up in an in between period whereby children were just to follow what their elders did without much question, I just did what other senior Catholics did when I went for mass.

When they dip Holy Water and made the sign of the Cross at the entrance of the Church, I did the same. When they genuflect, before sitting down at the pews, so did I (another little Confession - didn't even know that the one knee bend action was called a genuflect until a few years ago - embarrasing, right? And if some of you reading now just found out... welcome to the club).

Most of my life I didn't even notice the beautiful Liturgical sequence of the mass. Although, I definitely paid attention about 60% of the time to the homily, the rest of the mass was just a blur. When the congretion stood up, sat down, knelt, I just followed blindly. My conviction to remain firm as a Catholic despite the many Protestants friends I have, who had invited me to their respective churches for numerous services and rallies - must definitely be the Holy Spirit at work.

As exciting as the services would be due to their music or dynamic preaching, I didn't feel at home and something was still missing.

I thank God every day that the Holy Spirit has never given up hope on me and in fact ka yau (Cantonese for accelerating His Work on me)the last 12 years since I moved from Ipoh my hometown, to the big city lights of Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya.

From attending the Life In The Spirit Seminar (LSS), to CHOICE, to Servants of Yahweh, a Catholic Covenant community, and now actively serving in my parish choir of St Thomas More, I am now starting to relearn and rediscover the many intricate and beautiful facets of my Faith.

God led me step by step through the process above and finally He is using the great apologists of my time such as Scott and Kimberly Hahn and Patrick Madrid to help me finally understand the many reasons why we do what we do as Catholics and why we are the true Church founded by our beloved brother and Saviour Jesus Christ.

During Pat Madrid's recent seminar at the Men's Conference in Miri early this year, he shared several reasons he chose to be Catholic when he can be anything else. Here are just a few of them which I still remember...

1. One True Church Established By Jesus Christ

Quoting Matt 16:15-19, the conversation that Jesus had with Peter in which Peter recognised Jesus as the Son of the Living God and that Jesus told Peter (the rock), that He will build His Church on this Rock (Peter) and that even Hell cannot touch it. Jesus also gave Peter the keys to Heaven, and that whatever Peter binds on earth the same will be done in heaven... you have definitely heard this I know.
This shows us that Jesus started our Church and chose Peter to lead, while other churches were started by men.

2. Communion of Saints

In short, there's only one Body of Christ. Some of us are still on earth, while some have gone to heaven, but we are still one Body. So we who are on earth are asking our brothers and sisters who are now closer to God to pray for us. It's the same as asking our friend who is still alive on earth to pray for us, only now our friend in heaven has everlasting life and bigger cables to God (hehehe).
And yes, we also pray for them who are in heaven with God, just like how we pray for other friends who are still in our midst.

3. Firm Moral Teachings

Prior to 1930s, all denominations believed that contraception was a grave sin. Today only the Catholic Church still dare to hold on to life - God's gift to us and not being popular and current. Respect!!!

4. Holy Eucharist

John 6:51 sees Jesus saying I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. Yes, the bread which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.
However, like the many Jews in the room who heard this proclaimed by our Lord, our separated brothers and sisters have also chosen to leave the room so to speak. As Catholics, just like the 12 apostles, we believe in our Lord that He is with us every day if we choose to or every Sunday in the flesh.
I wonder, how people who claim they believe everything written in the Bible, chose not to believe John 6:51, which is written so clearly in whatever Bible version. Hmmm, what happened to sola scriptura or do I detect plain Protestant tradition of I follow my pastor's interpretation.

Btw, I discovered that you can't find anywhere in the Bible that our faith is based solely on the Bible (sola scriptura), but you can definitely find in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 - so then brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us whether by word or by letter.. That's what our Popes have been doing for us.
Now how do you explain 2 Thess 3:6 - Now we command you brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks in rebellion and not after the tradition which they received from us.
As for private interpretation by so many different churches and pastors, the bible says: 2 Peter 1:20-21 - knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke, being moved by the Holy Spirit.
Enough said for this point...

5. Satanist couldn't care about Protestants
They know that Jesus is really in the Catholic Church and they send their kuncu-kuncu (members) to steal the Holy Eucharist so that they can perform black masses.
I've also noticed that fictional stories that attack our faith also target the Catholic Church. People attack when they are threatened.

Of course, Pat Madrid spoke in length while quoting the bible to strengthen his case, something which I pray all of us Catholics will be able to do as a second nature, at least by the next generation.

Thanks to Pat, Scott, Kimberly and a hosts of other apologists, I'm falling in love with my faith again. Seeing and experiencing it through the eyes of a child once more - in awe and wonder.

So thank you once more, all ye defenders of our great big Universal Church ... and bringing so many of our separated brethen home in the process...

Holy Spirit, as we will soon celebrate and remember the first Pentecost, may you once again open the eyes and heart of us all to the love and life of the Holy Trinity. Amen!

P.S. I can't believe the 50-day Easter season is coming to a close so soon. Time flies when you are having fun.

(Some of my favourite Apologetic works . As you can see I'm a big fan of Pat Madrid and Scott Hahn. Click on the books below and find out more...)

Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming CatholicSurprised By Truth 2: 15 Men and Women Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons For Becoming Catholic. (v. 2)Surprised by Truth 3: 10 More Converts Explain the Biblical and Historical Reason for Becoming Catholic (v. 3)Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism

Monday, May 11, 2009

Once an R.C, always an R.C.

St Peter's Basilica, RC hq

Are you an RC? Was a question I was regularly asked when I stayed in East Malaysia for about three months sometime last year. It was peculiar to my ears. Growing up in Ipoh for the first 24 years of my life, I've hardly, if ever, been asked such a question. Even after staying in the Klang Valley for the next 12 years didn't prepare me for it.

Well, I started getting used to it. East Malaysians, as I discovered, used the term RC to mean Roman Catholic. To me, I'm just plain Malaysian cradle Catholic.

Anyway, sometime early this year, we visited a friend who recently shifted into a neighbouring residential estate.

That visit although was initially a business meeting, turned out to be a gift from God. Bernard, who is also from Ipoh (wisdom must come from the Ipoh water too - did I say I was from Ipoh earlier...hehehe), shared with Pat and I something really good which I in turn would love to share with all of you.

You see, he is now teaching Sunday School in Assumption Church, PJ. This was what he shared with a Form 3 class last year. I think he started teaching Standard 5 this year.

Bernard told his class - once you are an RC, you will always be an RC.... (see how God used the East Malaysians to drum this RC thing into my head).

I then expected him to quote some theology to support this fact... but instead he cleverly used a play of words which proved much more interesting, easier to understand and brought home a point.

He said although people have left the church they will always be RC because they are just Retired Catholics.... this definitely piqued my attention.

He went on saying that at one point of his life he was away from the Church, but God had some tricks up his sleeves to pull him home, one of which was his cousin Anne. On his way home, he was a Returning Catholic.

Of course, today he is a self-confessed Romantic Catholic, choosing to practise the spirit of the Law and not focus too much on the letter.

Love, he said, is the most important part of the faith which he is doing his best to share with the young ones. He also chooses to be a Relevant Catholic - to teach the youth in ways they can relate to, which also involves sharing of ideas from them, instead of the old school way of I talk you listen and learn.

I really can't wait for Bernard and his wife Mae to come serve in St Thomas More (STM) next year.

Recently, we met up again, and he said we can add to the list of RC. And so Pat and I started to come up with some. So here goes:

RICH Catholics - three main categories

1) Rejoicing In Christ Hallelujah Catholics - The types that can never be beaten down too hard in life cos' they know Christ is their Saviour. Even when they are materially poor, they feel rich because Christ is the centre of their lives. No show, no act - the real McCoy. Sometimes, you can't stand them, cos' they make you feel like a prune in comparison. I think I need them to strengthen my faith.

2) Materially rich Catholics. Boy, do we in STM need them so much now. We need another RM9.5 million. If you fall under this category or have connections that can help us achieve this goal, please email me.

3) Rich both ways - Spiritually and materially they belong to Christ. They tithe, donate generously when needed and is always a cheerful giver. My goal is one day to be in this category. Unfortunately, currently I'm somewhere at (-1).

Rosary Catholics - two main categories

1) They know how to recite the Rosary by-heart and I mean all the prayers from the Apostles' Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, the Fatima Prayer, Hail Holy Queen, Let Us Pray, Memorare and even the Litany that follows. They also know which day is for what Mysteries and the respective Mysteries from decade 1 to 5. Gosh! My husband is one of those. They inspire me. Only thing is sometimes, the older generation who fall under this category tend to rattle the prayers in supersonic speed leaving the rest of us lost and distracted.

2) The type who meditates on each Mystery with reverence. Knows how biblical the Rosary is. Defends it properly when countered that we are praying to Mary. The late Great Pope John Paul II is such a person. Others that come to mine are Patrick Madrid, Scott Hahn and Fr Benefict J. Groeshel (He is another EWTN personality I like to listen to. I'm just beginning to read his book entitled The Rosary - Chain of Hope. Thanks Terence for loaning me the book). They have made the Rosary relevant to me.

On the side, I just needed to share this with you since this is the month of May. Many Catholics, even those who love the Lord very much, are quite lost with praying the Rosary... for example:

Another Assumption Church Sunday School teacher said she can never recite the - poor banish children of Eve prayer (Hail Holy Queen). She also shared that during a recent funeral wake (7-day prayer) in her BEC, one of the family members of the deceased kept starting with Our Father, instead of Hail Mary... and everyone was trying to say it louder than that person in order to get the prayer back on track.

During our good friend the late Ralph Curzon's 7th day prayers, his daughter very honestly shared that she really doesn't know what that perpetual, perpetual part is all about. (Leader:Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him O Lord, R: And let the Perpetual Light Shine upon him...)

Also one of her relatives, who was converted a few years ago said she quickly ran to the kitchen when she saw that it would soon be her turn to lead a decade of the Rosary.

How close to home all these sharings are to me, cos' just like them, I too, am lost if I don't have those prayers in front of my eyes. Sometimes Pat will just try to quiz me and I'll panic even more and what I know of the Hail Holy Queen, Let Us Pray and Memorare will just vanish from my memory.

Dearest Mother, help us poor banished children of Eve to be proud of the Rosary and soon learn to love praying it too.

Okay back to the RC story.... Pat added that we could become Recalcitrant (biadap) Catholics or Runaway Catholics, bottomline is we will always be RC and God will still find a way to lead us home - like Bernard, to become a Returning Catholic turned Romantic Catholic.... Ah....

P.S. I thought these Catholic advertisements were superb....check them out at: http://www.catholicscomehome.org/ look for Epic, Movie and Testimonials. Made me proud to be 100% RC.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Birth Of The Cradle Creations Knotted Rosary Workshop

























































Anne Marie and Juliet, our first two clients who signed up to learn how to make the rosaries (first two pix).

Kerry-Ann crafting a custom-made order for a sweet boy who bought a beaded cross for someone special, wonder whether it's for his mom or gf??? *wink wink*

Kerry-Ann and I posing before we tutup kedai (close shop around 1pm).

The close-up shot of the stock that was left when we ended.

Two satisfied clients, Mei (left, wearing the purple beaded cross made by Kerry-Ann) and Maria putting on her Olive wood cross Rosary (cross was bought and blessed in Jerusalem) - other parts of the Rosary was knotted by yours truly.

Last week was indeed a hectic week. In between work, a really good friend Ralph Curzon passed away, and then there was the St Thomas More parish Family Day in which our 100% effort was required to raise funds for our new home.

The great news is I heard all the RM50,000 worth of coupons were sold out. This meant we raised almost that amount - minus some cost here and there. Of course, the battle is not yet won. We are still very much in need of about or over RM9.5mil, with inflation always rearing its ugly head.

Good news is this 17 May, we shall have a forum to further discuss and brainstorm ideas to generate more funds (speedily, we hope) in order to make our new home a reality next Easter.

If you are a non-parishioner - we need all your prayers and most importantly your money (full story on my posting dated 25 April 2009).

Anyway, a personal note of thanks to the many people who came by my knotted Rosary stall - to either sign up and learn to make them or just to buy one. We raised about RM218. Not too bad la hor.

Anne Marie Tan from SS17 was my first client, while Angelina Bong, originally from Kuching, spent the most in our stall buying my Jerusalem olive wood cross rosary and a few beautifully beaded crosses made by my cousin and Godsister Kerry-Ann (sorry forgot to take your pix).

We realised that most people preferred to just buy the Rosaries instead of learning how to make them. In the end, what counts is STM gets the funding, right? Which is why I've decided to recruit Rosary makers after my class and then we can make more for sale.

Ready made designs should range from RM10-RM20 per rosary. If custom-made, then it could be about RM50 and above. For now, to order - please email me at hazelong888@gmail.com

All proceeds (minus the cost) will help build our permanent and visible place of worship brick by brick.

I was also very happy to have made friends with Juliet Lee, Marie Meity from Sumatra, Indonesia and Lifeliner, Alexis Ryan and Jacqueline, whom I discovered is also from Putra Heights. Ee Lynn, thanks for supporting the stall.

That's all for now... got to get ready for BEC Rosary tonight...which Rosary shall I bring tonight? Hmmm ... too many choices now.