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,

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?