Monday, April 27, 2009
Since this blog was written, I've been further inspired and have created many different variations from what you would read here. Best to visit Creative Catholics (just click on the link). Have a blessed day, Amen!
Before I blog further, let me show you a few of my limited edition Cradle Collection handmade knotted rosaries by yours truly, in the hope that you will sign up for my class this 1 May 09 ...
My second successful knotted Rosary after discovering the joys of making it when I returned from the recent RCIA retreat in Port Dickson. I use it to pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet these days.
Made this for a 50th birthday present to a good friend. It is a knotted rosary with a wooden cross made from Olive trees grown in the Holy Land - Jeruselam. For the first 3 people who pay and sign up for my class this 1 May 2009, you will receive a similar rosary as my gift to you for taking speedy action - which contributes towards building the St Thomas More church, brick by brick.
I used a Franciscan crucifix, similar to the one which spoke to St Francis of Assisi, to make this full length rosary. Remnants from it, was used for the little one-decade piece you see. The rosaries and medals were my gift to my newly baptised relative and Godsister Kerry-Ann.
Now, if you look at the right hand side of my blog, you will also see my entire collection (you have to visit my blog to see it cos' its now a constant gadget, below the FOLLOW button. While you are there, just click the FOLLOW button ;-) and follow me for updates on this blog).
As I'm not feeling too well, I shall keep this posting short.
May is just a few days away. Let us together seek our Loving Mother's intercessions to help us in our life journey.
I'm happy to share that my mother, who used to rarely pray the Rosary, is now praying it regularly. I'm very grateful as I'm one of the benefactors of her newly formed habit.
For those of you who are visiting the St Thomas More Family Day and are still wondering whether to sign up for the knotted rosary class, know that Mother Mary was said to have given a (could be the first) Rosary to St Dominic and it was of the knotted kind, perhaps similar to the one you will learn to make ... cool or what?
So see you Friday. If you are not coming, send someone to sign you up. If you don't know what I'm talking about, read my previous posting about the Family Day.
Cradle Collection Knotted Rosaries - Make Them, Pray Them and Help Us Build STM!
(You may find other high quality knotted rosaries here. Just click on the images below...)
Saturday, April 25, 2009
|More in DVD|
Being Workers' Day and a public holiday, most of us are encouraged to take our minds and hearts off our daily grind -blood, sweat and tears - and instead refocus on spending time together as a domestic family as well as the Body of Christ, celebrating mass in the morning, followed by makan (feasting) and games.
Every year, our respective BECs (neighbourhood small groups/cell groups) and ministries also take the opportunity to raise funds for our yearly activities. Yes! This is the time of the year when the bulk of funds flow in (well for most BECs and ministries anyway).
This year, I personally feel, our parish has a common vision and mission. That is to raise over RM10 million (just about USD 3 million - we accept all kind donations from our universal brethren throughout the world) so that we can finally have a permanent place of worship.
You see, before we became a parish (which was very recently this year - I can't really remember the exact date), we were just a chapel community known as Capel Kurnia Kristus (CKK - Chapel of Christ's Blessing, literally translated).
Just to sidetrack, our Archbishop Datuk Murphy Pakiam, prefers chapels to be named in Bahasa Malaysia (our national language) while saint names or Marian names are given to parishes.
Perhaps, His Grace, chose the name of St Thomas More for our parish because he (St Thomas)was a politician who stood up for justice until it cost him his life. Well, we in Malaysia definitely need such a role model for our politicians, especially now, with the kind of Perak "frogs" emerging (heartbreaking because it's my homestate).
Btw, who needs television anymore with the many Kisah Benar (true stories) happening around us, of which an international Mongolian spy was blown up into pieces after being at the wrong place, with the wrong person, at the wrong time. Many "famous" people were also ending up in the missing persons lists for short spurts and extended periods (for some, perhaps permanently). Only God knows and time will tell. We certainly live in interesting times. Great stories to tell our children and grandchildren.
Back to the original story, CKK started off as just a small group of Catholic families celebrating mass together in Subang Jaya sometime in 1981. Then it grew when the USJ areas opened up and the congregation, through God's Grace, started to celebrate mass regularly at two double-storey shoplots in USJ 11 sometime in 1995. As the numbers grew, as well as its activities, CKK officially moved into our current location in SS13, Subang Jaya (close to the Sunway area) since year 2000 (location map above). I was told recently, that the very first mass celebrated in our present home was sometime in 1999.
Ever since then, we celebrate mass in a badminton hall which is now part of the Sri Sedaya private school. Every Sunday, as early as 6am, a very committed team of people will dress up the hall and transform it into a church - equipped with the stations of the cross, altar, chair for the presider and the works in time for the 8.30am mass, while another team strips it down at about 1pm after the 11.30am mass.
I must say I'm proud of this odd arrangement at times as it shows our unity, creativity and persistance to hold on to the dream of one day celebrating mass in a permanent and visible church building.
As I write this post, I'm glad to say that the map above will soon be obsolete. We were informed that piling works for our new church building (located in the industrial around the area near USJ3, 4 and USJ 12), had already began. In fact, most of us were overjoyed when Fr Simon Labrooy, our new parish priest showed us an artist impression of our new home at the end of the Easter Vigil and Easter morning masses. It really wowed me (and I think the rest of the congregation).
Fr Simon's heartfelt prayer (and I think for most of us too) was to celebrate Easter 2010 in the brand new STM building.
The only thing left to make that prayer a reality is of course the extra RM9.5million. According to the financial report on the building fund we have ONLY raised about RM487,477.63 as at Feb.
Dear friends, fellow Catholics, near and far. We appeal to your generosity to help us build our church.
Besides pledges from STM parishioners, we had and are continuously raising funds through different activities. Will post them regularly as they come up.
As I mentioned earlier, our Family Day is a great event to help us cos' all proceeds will go towards building our new home. Every nasi lemak (SS19B BEC - my former BEC) or corn-in the-cup (Choir) you eat or game (Putra Heights BEC) you play will help us build our church, brick by brick.
For me personally, I shall be offering Knotted Rosary making classes - in line with praying the Rosary in May. Shall post more about it very soon (must advertise a bit la).
So bring your friends and family to STM this Friday morning. Join us for mass at 8.30am (if you can). Food, fun and games will commence from 9.30am and is estimated to end by about 1pm. Pls call me to book the coupons at RM10 a book.
To me, the new STM church will not only be a good thing for us parishioners, but actually a BIG victory for all Malaysians Catholic Christians and even non-Catholic Christians.
In times when getting approval to build a church is so hard to come by, STM will indeed be a great sign of our Almighty Allah's Awesome Power and Glory.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
|Click on the pix|
Okay, back to the real topic - Divine Mercy Sunday - which is the 2nd Sunday of Easter ever since year 2000 when the late Pope John Paul II canonised Sister Faustina Kowalska on 30 April 2000.
I'm sure you have heard the phrase that God uses the weak to perhaps shame the strong and arrogant. Well, here again is an excellent example.
Saint Faustina was an uneducated Polish nun. God chose to reveal to her a very special message which we now enjoy the fruits. After consulting with her spiritual director, she obediently journaled a 600-page diary on God's Mercy for humanity.
Even before she died in 1938, the devotion to Divine Mercy began to spread.
So what connection has A, B, C got to do with Divine Mercy?
Well, God uses easy steps to teach people through His creative people (remember the big Talent Pool, we have).
Two years ago, when Patrick, my husband, and I served in the Post-Confirmation class, Adrian Ng, who was our former full-time youth minister, played a video on Divine Mercy for the youths in our class.
Although I can't fully remember all the facts of the video, the conclusion was superb cos' it used the ABC to help us easily remember what this Divine Mercy is all about. In fact, it had become just a stored memory tucked somewhere deep in my mind till this morning when I celebrated mass at St Joseph's Cathedral Miri.
Printed boldly on the bulletin was the ABCs....
A = Ask for His Mercy
God is always waiting for us to approach Him in prayer, to seek repentance for our sins. He wants us to ask Him to pour His Mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
B = Be Merciful
God wants us to receive His Mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
C = Completely Trust in Jesus
God wants us to know that the graces of His Mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.
There you have it.
Before I end, I just wanted to add a personal sharing about my own experience on this devotion. To reiterate my earlier post, I'm not so into traditional devotions and repetitive prayers (for this I beg your Mercy Lord) till quite recently.
However, I can now see how God had been sending me all the right signals about this one.
Two clear ones are my grandmother and my dad. I remember even before year 2000, there was a great devotion building up in Ipoh. My dad's friend would gather a group who would pray the Chaplet regularly. That was sometime in the mid or late 1990's.
Prior to that, I've never heard of Divine Mercy (poor cradle Catholic, what to do). My grandmother was part of this group, if I'm not mistaken. She has always been good with the Rosary (which she prayed in the morning when she woke up and before she slept) and then she included the Three O'clock prayer + the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.
This group was overjoyed when JPII declared 2nd Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. Another victory for this group was when after 28 years of struggle with the government, finally the Divine Mercy Church in Shah Alam was built. In hindsight, the wait made the victory even sweeter. Pretty much like how Abraham waited so long for the birth of Isaac, I guess.
So now they organised pilgrimages to this church annually. Unfortunately, my grandmother who is now 81 is too weak to be part of it this year (just a few hours ago). Just a few years ago, she even visited the Divine Mercy church in Sabah if I'm not mistaken.
Then there was my cousin Angela's Confirmation. She was baptised as a baby but after her family shifted to Kuala Lumpur, she delayed her other Sacrements till sometime in the late 1990's (pls correct my facts if you ever visit this blog En Sze)
When it was time to choose her Confirmation name, grandma persuaded her to take the name Faustina after the saint of this mighty devotion. I think she prefers Tina for short, right?
Of course, there's my mother-in-law Clara Ferns (pic, with my sister-in-law Linda, a full-time youth worker at SFX, PJ) who also says the Divine Mercy prayers regularly herself and sometimes with her friends and sometimes with us her family members. She is really a good Catholic mom, cos' Pat and his sisters know these prayers by-heart.
Today, I said my 3 o'clock prayer at 3.20pm (overslept after napping) all alone in Miri, but I definitely did not feel lonely cos' I know other Catholics around the world were doing the same in their different time zones. How awesome is that? We are indeed a universal church.
I truly thank you Lord for Your abundant Mercy on me. I pray that You will grant me a merciful heart like Yours (scary prayer - as I know not what test will come my way after this) and I trust in You - that You know what I can or can't handle Lord.
To all reading this blog, may you have a fruitful journey with the Lord this Easter season. After 40 days of fast, He gives us 50days of feasting - isn't He a great God or what?
(If you are new to this devotion, you could use an audio CD to guide you if you are one of those who prefer to listen rather than read... click on the picture below for more details)
Friday, April 17, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
When I first started this blog I thought, hmmm ... I will just share it with my Choicee friends whom I have journeyed together with since 1998. We have served, laughed, cried, sang and celebrated many important days of our lives together - like weddings, birth of each others' children, birthdays and anniversaries and so on and so forth.
Many of them are cradle Catholics like me, who are on their respective faith journeys. However, a little voice said that I should start to expand my target audience to as many cradle Catholics whom I knew.
So on Good Friday, after I completing the posting of that day, I decided to search through my emailing list and started to send an invitation to both my family members and friends.
After I sent my first posting,I have no idea whether anyone would actually read my blog but soon after I started, two of my Choicee friends responded. They congratulated me and even identified with my blurness. One of them even said she hoped others might be evangelised through it.
Those first two emails were so precious to me.
To my surprise, soon I had emails from a friend I have lost contact with for sometime (he now works in Singapore), an active Kuching cradle Catholic serving in children's and youth ministries (who has invited me to meet up with his team), and a new Choicee (great to know you just attended the recent Choice weekend), who all seem to have benefited from reading my blog in some way or other.
God seems to like using the weak doesn't He. Over 2000 years ago he used poor fishermen, and one of them even became the first Pope of our beloved Church. Now, a blur cradle Catholic like me.
During Easter Vigil, at least two of my choir members also affirmed me. Thank you so much.
Yesterday, my mother called and told me that Patrick Madrid actually commented on my blog. I couldn't believe it, it made me so happy and excited. The moment I reached home I checked for his comment. Pat, if you ever check back on my blog, thank you very much for your encouragement. You are really good with your affirmations and it really meant a lot to me. Pat Madrid is also following my blog (you can do the same by clicking the Follow button - somewhere on the right side of the blog).
What surprised me most is that my mother, who is aversed to technology, read all my postings (with the help of my father) and she said she recalled this and that experience of mine, and also asked me how come I didn't invite her for the Chrism mass (opps, sorry mom).
I just received a comment from my elder sister-in-law that she is going to link my blog to those who are going to be Confirmed (Confirmants). Aiks! I really hope I can help them. I personally know that through my own strength, I can't do much, but with God's help anything is possible.
I must constantly remind myself that I'm doing all these not for the affirmation, but for His Greater Glory, and if I ever get big-headed about it, knock me hard on the head. I must confess (as we Catholics are to do regularly), it still feels good to be encouraged for good work done.
Once again to all who affirmed me, thank you so much for your kind words. Most of all, thank you Lord, who is worthy of all praise.
May the whole 50 days of your Easter experience be a fruitful and enlightened one,
P.S. Yes! The Easter season is 50 days long beginning yesterday (12 April) and will end on Pentecost (31 May). If you didn't know it till now, it's okay cos' I only found out last year - which is about 36 years after being Catholic... sad but true. Better late, than never, right?
Just Rejoice, Hallelujah!!!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Just wanted to say blessed Easter. May you find new life in Christ! .... Pat and I are leaving soon for the Easter Vigil mass.
Have a great time celebrating later with your family and friends!
Hazel Ong, your friendly neighbourhood cradle Catholic
Friday, April 10, 2009
In that instant, it struck both of us that God is reminding us of His Great Love ,as at 3pm Jesus His only Son died, crucified on the Cross over 2000 years ago. That shocking expression of His Love, was what saved us.
It meant that we can now go to Heaven and meet God again, after its doors were closed to us when dear Adam and Eve ate the forbiden fruit eons ago.
Just about then, (I kid you not), a new (to me anyway) and melodic tune on a Catholic radio station (from the Internet, in case you are wondering - Live 365) started to play. After listening closely, it was the Divine Mercy prayer.
I read somewhere (cradle Catholic syndrome at work) that at 3pm on Good Friday, many souls will be shown Mercy. Someone who knows this for a fact pls comment further on it. A quick google shows me that certain churches around the world are starting a Novena of the Divine Mercy Hour from today.
If I said in my early posting that I've still not fully memorised the prayers of the Rosary, my knowledge of reciting the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy is far worse in comparison.
As I write this blog, I can hear Pat playing the new Divine Mercy tune from the Radio. It is more comtemporary and may be just what I need to get me into the habit of praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
My stomach is growling a bit from the fast. My diet today is just the hot cross buns sold every year during the Holy Tridiuum. In many historically Christian countries, these buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the crucifixion.The buns (pix below) are sold at St Thomas More parish (Capel Kurnia Kristus (CKK)'s new name) to raise funds to build our new permanent and visible place of worship. We need RM10million or more, so do drop by our parish and buy some buns tonight. Got to go now, have to work before our Good Friday service at 8pm. See you there.
God bless, Hazel
Thursday, April 9, 2009
I must say that last year God blessed my Lent experience. It was so good. I went for daily mass. I read up so much about my faith - what it all meant. I even noticed the change of the Liturgical colours from purple to pink (on the fourth week - Laetare Sunday) back to purple, red (Good Friday), to white and Gold (Easter).
The Catholic faith is so rich in signs and symbols, which is great for me, as I connect to things like these and it helped me feel the different emotions as Christ prepared Himself for His Minisry from the start of His temptation in the desert (purple), and even in a period of disciplined preparation, there was a spark of Joy (pink) - which perhaps was so important to prepare him for the Day he shed his Blood for us (Red - formerly Black). He ends it with a bang of course - His glorious resurrection (White+Gold).
I remember wearing my clothes (as much as I could) to match the colours to anchor in all those change of emotions Christ went through.
I fasted, I abstained, I prayed, I participated in almsgiving. As I said it was a fantastic Lent leading to a joyous Easter. We even had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land before Easter.
That was last year.
I think God knew I needed the feel good of last year to prepare me for the chaos of this year. Indeed, if I were to write a full account of all the mishaps that happened to me - which sucked my being dry - it would take too long and would only bring you down too.
I call all these my Lenten experience 2009. I believe when I'm weakest He is strongest and for that I'm consoled.
Now back to tonight... I'm excited and overjoyed to be finally celebrating the Holy or Paschal Tridiuum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday)
Yesterday was Spy Wednesday - the day Judas became a spy and betrayed Jesus. This would then lead us to Jesus' great sacrifice for all of us. Btw, I never knew Spy Wednesday existed, till last year, remember my Faith Discovery Year. The Gospel is always on Judas selling out Jesus for money- thus its name.
This morning being morning of Holy Thursday, the Chrism Mass was supposed to be celebrated. However, in our archdiocese, our Archbishop decided to celebrate it earlier on 7 April at the newly renovated Church of St Francis Xavier in Petaling Jaya (picture above). It is usually celebrated in the St John's Cathedral.
It was a beautiful mass in a beautiful church. It was my first Chrism Mass and the first time I witnessed the oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick, and the oil of chrism being blessed by the entire clergy of my archdiocese led by His Grace Datuk Murphy Pakiam.
It was also the first time I celebrated mass with my entire clergy. It was a Wow! moment for me. The experience of being the Body Of Christ felt much closer to home.
Both Pat and I will have to get ready for Maundy or Holy Thursday mass soon. I feel so excited, cos' the song we will sing tonight are going to be so beautiful, moving and meaningful.
Maundy - means Commandment - Jesus' commandment to love one another as He has loved us.
Together, as a people of God, we will renact and relive Christ's last few poignant moments before His ultimate sacrifice. We will witness through my new parish priest Fr Simon Labrooy, how Jesus practiced servant leadership when he washed the feet of his 12 apostles.
On Good Friday, we will experience how through the selfishness of the people of His time (very much like us today) they will crucify Him on the Cross.
I personally can't wait to celebrate the joy of Easter on the Vigil as well as Easter morning, as we rise to New Life.
I really have to go now.... my prayer to all of you is that you will rejoice in Christ this Easter.
Blessed Holy Week!
Monday, April 6, 2009
God truly answer prayers. As a cradle Catholic who doesn't know much, God sent me to this retreat as I had recently prayed to understand my faith more deeply.
What started out as a favour to my relative Kerry-Ann (who's conversion story will be featured here soon, I hope), He turned it around as His Favour to me.
You see Kerry-Ann's Godmother and sponsor could not make it for the retreat and she needed someone to stand proxy. I agreed.
To cut a long story short, we were in Port Dickson from April 3-5, and I was reminded of the beauty of the Holy Eucharist, through a video of the few Eucharistic miracles in Italy. I felt so blessed to have personally visited the one in Lanciano (itself an adventure on its own) when Patrick and I backpacked around Italy back in 2004.
I also experienced a very short version of the Ignatian Exercise which I had wanted to attend many a times at the Marantha Retreat centre but somehow missed it due to something or other.
But what I really needed as a Catholic, and which was not even part of the retreat's main "menu" was my attention towards praying the Rosary.
You see, during the retreat, some of the facilitators were learning how to make knotted rosaries to keep themselves busy while Fr OC Lim was conducting the sessions. However, their enthusiasm in making the rosaries soon caught Fr OC's attention and ours.
For me personally, I was hooked. At every break, I would try to learn a little more how to make them. I even persuaded one of the facilitators to let me try a few knots on her piece. Unfortunately, because it became like a distraction to the class, most of the time, the few of us who became knotted rosary "junkies" had to cut short the lessons, when the sessions resumed.
I think it was all God's plan. Growing up in a lapsed Catholic home until my dad returned to the Church when I was a teenager, praying the Rosary to me, was something my grandmother and late grandfather did well. That, coupled with the fact that I somehow always just prayed to Jesus or My dearest Abba directly, made the Rosary less significant in my faith journey.
However, I can see that God has been trying to draw me to it. One of His many strategies was getting me hitched to Patrick my husband. Pat can recite the Rosary extremely well, thanks to his mother Clara Ferns, who brought him up well as a good Catholic boy.
This is great for me, as I can then simply bluff my way through when praying together with him. During parts that I don't know I just go silent especially some parts of the Apostle's Creed (I know, I know, shameful, right?), the Hail Holy Queen, Let Us Pray and Memorare.
Pat even memorises the Litany... while I still can't remember well which days are for what Mysteries and definitely not know what the mysteries are, decade to decade. Of course, Pat knows them all by-heart (perhaps, not the Luminous Mysterious - which had been newly introduced).
His other ways of drawing me to praying the Rosary in the past were:
Allowing me to witness deliverance from evil spirits through the praying of Rosary.
My personal experience of an evil force releasing me as I prayed the Rosary in my mind, while it gaged me.
My grandparents' strong devotion to praying to Mother Mary by reciting the Rosary morning and night.
My friends Victor and Joanne who own a business call Rosary Hub.
And many more to mention....
Now the fantastic news is - after learning to make the knotted rosary (picture above is my handywork) I've been praying it regularly. I am also making an effort to memorize those prayers that I have yet to commit to memory.
If you are a typical cradle Catholic who fits the ignorant about Praying The Rosary bill like me, perhaps learning how to make these knotted rosaries might be the antidote.
I would love to hold sessions to teach it. Maybe as a fundraiser for our St Thomas More building fund. We really need all the help we can to build us a visible place of worship. Let me know, yes!
Mother Mary, I hope we can start afresh this year, building a lifelong relationship together. Thank you for bringing back to your loving embrace. Amen!
Your Prodigal Daughter,
Update: To see my collection since then till Dec 09 - visit: Creative Catholics and click Cradle Creations from the Directory of Merchants....
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Although, I had heard about the Apologetics Ministry sometime back in 1996-1997, when I first came to Kuala Lumpur from Ipoh, it didn't pique my curiousity and interest so much till now.
When I returned to KL, I devoured Rome Sweet Home (the famous apologetic book by former anti-Catholic Dr Scott Hahn and his wife Kimberly Hahn) again. This round, I actually underlined the important scriptural references that made my faith so important.
God truly used Pat to inspire me. After the seminar I decided to start this blog. No more excuses. Of course, now, instead of just things I have learnt about my faith or my personal journey, it will include conversion stories of other Christians into the Catholic Church - Malaysian stories.
Sometimes it takes an immigrant to make the local see the beauty in his own land.
Indeed, I'm indebted to Dr Scott Hahn and Patrick Madrid, who made me see how awesome my Church is - the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ, my Lord, Saviour, Brother and Friend.
Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter!