The season of Waiting

We aren’t strangers to waiting 

Whether it’s for this

Bildergebnis für li ho tea queue

THIS….. 

Bildergebnis für Polyclinic queue
OR THIS (Trying my best to not sound like a disgruntled bourgeois)Bildergebnis für queuing up singapore

Being rather practical people, one would often find ways around waiting by either leaving earlier or taking an alternative route.

But what if it’s concerning our Spiritual Journey ?

Humanly, one would be predisposed to be frustrated during this journey. Prayer’s aren’t always answered. We have to wait ( and wait..) for a response from God

Psalm 13:1–2 writes:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
And i’m sure we must have all felt this way before.
I struggled with a lot of insecurities & fears. I’ve often prayed to God for an answer, a remedy of sort regarding my father, my addictions etc
But all I often got in return – Silence (And I would get angry with God)
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There have been moments where Jesus has waited for us, but we have ran away either in fear or our own laziness
It’s really hard to quantify or even pen down how a relationship with God can be built through waiting
I’ve realized that waiting is a means to forge our faith.
To make us attentive to his voice.
To deepen our relationship.
To solidify our trust.
To prepare us for ministry.
To transform us into his likeness.
During this period of waiting, a great deal of self reflection can be done
– To understand why we feel a certain way
– To “cool down” and  allow ourselves to be more objective
– To foster a spirit of discipleship and trust in God (INSANELY DIFFICULT)
And as we gear towards welcoming the new enquirers, may we mindful that these group of people have been waiting too in their search for answers, a deeper meaning in this Spiritual Journey etc

And as we continue to wait, I invite you to meditate on this bible verse 

Ecclesiastes 3 – A Time for Everything

Community Living – Part 1

I joined Seven Graces (or Budding Community as it was called then) in December 2014. I remember being extra nice, gentle and smiley to everybody because isn’t that what is expected of a Christian? <Inserts beaming face here>

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We are smiley people! Taken at Seven Graces retreat 2017

That exactly were the expectations I was subconsciously bringing with me into community! And of course, everybody was being super nice to me as well – a new girl in the community.

Anyway, at this point, I would like to introduce to you an excellent book by M.Scott Peck called The Different Drum. You could get a copy on Amazon here. (Get the kindle one, it is cheaper =p)

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According to M. Scott Peck, any group of strangers coming together to create a community goes through 4 distinct and predictable phases. The very first phase is “Pseudocommunity” of which the essential element is conflict avoidance.  Here are more details about what that entails:

Pseudocommunity

Members are extremely pleasant with one another and avoid all disagreement. People, wanting to be loving, withhold some of the truth about themselves and their feelings in order to avoid conflict. Individual differences are minimized, unacknowledged, or ignored. The group may appear to be functioning smoothly but individuality, intimacy, and honesty are crushed. Generalizations and platitudes are characteristic of this stage.

That exactly depicts what I felt on my first few weeks in community! And actually to be frank, in any new setting in my life. Everybody seems friendly and nice and you naturally want to do the same for others too. The problem only starts when you are not ready for the next stage of community living.

Chaos

Once individual differences surface, the group almost immediately moves into chaos. The chaos centers around well-intentioned but misguided attempts to heal and convert. Individual differences come out in the open and the group attempts to obliterate them. It is a stage of uncreative and unconstructive fighting and struggle. It is no fun. It is common for members to attack not only each other but also their leader, and common for one or more members–invariably proposing an “escape into organization”–to attempt to replace the designated leader. However as long as the goal is true community, organization as an attempted solution to chaos is unworkable.

Chaos is not necessarily bad in this case, and in fact to be encouraged because a community can never really grow if it stays within the pseudo community stage. Most importantly, why would one prefer to be in a community where people are not free to show their individual differences? Of course, this is not to be confused with excuses for our own failings and be condoned for hurting one another. Instead, we should recognize the necessity to work through our differences together, learn more about one another to take that extra step daily to avoid hurts and to love one another authentically for who we are individually.

There are two more stages as described in the book above, but I’m going to keep that to the next post. Keep watching this space for more updates on community living! =D

 

Evangelisation

This morning there was a new guy in the office. A fellow Christian sister in my office then quickly asked me if I knew he was Christian and the conversation went something like this:

Colleague: “Is he Catholic?”

Me: “Nope, he isn’t Christian. I know his wife.”

Colleague: “Is the wife Catholic?”

Me: “Nope, they are both non-Christians.”

Colleague: “Then we must bring them the truth! We must evangelize to them!”

Woah woah woah hold on there. Alarm bells went off in my head. Isn’t that too in the face? Haven’t we been scaring and pushing people off the church because we are too aggressive? Will they find it a turn off? Question after question just started popping in my head.

Very quickly I started judging how I think she may be pushing people away from the faith because of the “aggressiveness”. Then I kind of dismissed it and went along my day.

Well, at least until tonight. I attended the talk Living with Passion organized by OYP. Fr Jude did an opening sharing and this line struck a chord with me.

“You know inside we all wish to be mediocre, because we are so comfortable with everybody being okay, you okay, I okay, we all okay together.

Then we meet somebody living with passion and we call them so ‘in the face’. But we are so uncomfortable precisely because we know they excelling so much more than us in that aspect.”

Disclaimer: I have paraphrased his words due to poor memory.

I realize how true that is. What my colleague was capable to do to evangelize was beyond my means. I have recognized how I fell short of that passion for God and the courage to share it.

Have you ever had good chicken rice and you found yourself dying to share it with everyone? You try to persuade them to go and if not, you find yourself dragging them to eat it with you and you won’t give up until they give you that nod of agreement that the chicken rice is the best.

I hope one day to do the same with Jesus.

It was one of my prayers that I brought to WYD 2016 and held on tightly to – for Jesus to help me know and love Him better. I knew my hesitation to share about Jesus had strong roots in my lack of a real relationship with Him.

I think while we can take baby steps to evangelize – such as what they call passive evangelization. To lead a Christ-like life so that people may observe us and attribute our good life decisions to having Jesus in our lives. But beyond that, let us also build up our relationship with Jesus, through prayer, through action, through dying to oneself and then sharing about this best thing that we have with everyone we meet.

 

We were made to thrive

“If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

                                                                                                           – Marc Anthony

I’m sure the thought of not having to work has been enticing to most of us at least at one point of our lives. We probably dreamt of the things we would or could do – travel the world, pursue a passion, learn a new skill, etc. With the presence of social media “Influencers”, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine how easy and carefree our lives could be if we never had to work.

I used to have mixed feelings about this idea of “not having to work” because I genuinely love what I do and I work in healthcare where the “work” in itself is already meaningful. Despite that, there have been times when I played with the idea of what my life would be like if I could spend at least a year or two traveling the world and exploring. After all, St Augustine himself said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”.

But as much as I would love to travel, there is another part of me that feels that I might find this idleness less meaningful and I’m not quite sure if I will truly be happy with that kind of life. “So what does our faith say with regards to “work”? What is the relation between work and our faith? Is there even a relation to begin with?”

Last Saturday, a number of us attended a talk by Father David Garcia about “Spirituality at Work” which addressed some of these questions and perspectives. To be honest, Father Garcia didn’t give us all the answers. Instead, he shared his perspectives and posed the question back to us on how we can integrate our faith into our “work” and more importantly our lives.

Whatever stage of life we are at, I’m sure the main struggle of being a Catholic is truly in the being – living out our faith in our daily lives in AND out of Church, in the everyday things and encounters. It just so happens for any working individual, a large majority of our time is spent at the workplace.

So what is “Work”?

Immediately, what comes to mind would be our jobs and our activities. But did you know that in 1981, Pope John Paul II wrote an encyclical on the issues on Human Labour entitled “Laborem Exercens (On Human Labour)”? Essentially, we are challenged to broaden our perspective to view “Work” as what we do with what He has entrusted to our care, just like Adam and Eve.

“God took the man and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it.”

(Genesis 2:15)

In their case, they were given the Garden of Eden but if we look at the bigger picture, God calls us to cultivate and look after our environment, our personal relationships, our talents, our bodies and ultimately our lives!

If we look back at the beginning in the Book of Genesis, even God worked. Since we are made in His image and we are called to be like Him, we too are called to carry on His work of building His kingdom not just by words but also by action, by using what He has given us and making them and the world better.

Work vs Toil

If we are made to work, then why is it so hard? This is because many of us mistake work for toil and this is one of the key messages that I took away from the talk.

Toil is the result of Man’s sin, not work. We were made to work because work give us meaning and purpose, but toil makes the work we do hard. So, if we are able to find meaning in what we do (be it work or our personal relationships), if we see how our small actions can have a greater impact on the people and the world around us, that’s when we can focus on the work and not the toil.

What is meaningful work?

How then do we find meaning in our work? Is it about the work we do or is it knowing how we fit into the bigger picture? Perhaps this little story will shed some light:

“President John F. Kennedy was visiting NASA headquarters for the first time, in 1961. While touring the facility, he introduced himself to a janitor who was mopping the floor and asked him what he did at NASA. The janitor replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon!”

Likewise, not everyone is called to be an astronaut. We are all blessed with different gifts and talents and if we all have the perspective of the janitor and see the value in what we have to offer, that makes all the difference.

Just like we have a duty to work, we also have a duty to rest.

I suppose being Asians, we are no strangers to working late in the office. I, for one, am guilty of this, especially in my line of work where we are working for “the greater good”. I always had the mind-set that because I deal with people’s lives, skipping lunch and staying back late is a small sacrifice.

But through the talk, Father brought up the example of how even God rested on the 7th day, He rested with the intention of working again the next day; and it is precisely because the work is so important that we need to ensure that we are well rested so that we can do our work well!

It is in recreation that we can re-create and renew ourselves so that we can be better. And if you think about it, if we are called to take care of what God has given us, then we too have a duty to take care of our bodies, our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being!

So perhaps Marc Anthony was right, perhaps what he meant was that,

”If you find meaning in what you do, you’ll never have to toil meaninglessly a day in your life.”

If you think about it, whether or not you toil, how “hard” we perceive the work to be is really about perspective. It is about how we approach the “work” (be it in our jobs or other responsibilities) and whether we are able to find the meaning in it, whether it has a greater positive impact on the people and the world around us.

And instead of looking upon the instagram feed of famous influencers with longing and envy, maybe we can think about how we can be the influencer for our current lifestyle – the lifestyle of what it means to be a daily Catholic and the true joy that brings, the knowing that we are made for so much more, that we are made to be more.

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For those of us who are at crossroads, discerning about our current career or vocation, I shall leave you with the 3 questions Father Garcia shared with us:

  1. Does it (directly/indirectly) contribute to the common good?
  2. Does it make you a better person?
  3. Does it make your personal relationships better?

How Do You Know If What You’re Discerning Is Truly From God?

 

Yesterday, we covered Part 2 of our Discernment series where we walked through the 4 steps of discerning a major decision:

  1. Purifying my heart
  2. Inviting God to speak
  3. Testing the Spirit
  4. Acting with wisdom and courage

This week I’d like to focus more on #3: Testing the Spirit.

Specifically, that could involve a couple of things:

  • Seeking counsel from other mature Catholics (which we talked about in last week’s post)
  • Doing the “Deathbed Exercise”: If I died and was standing in front of Jesus, what would I say to Him about the decision I made?
  • Praying over, and letting the Spirit speak to us

The first 2 lean a little bit more towards the logical side, which appeals to a hyper-rational guy like me.

But sometimes, praying over can be an even more powerful and convincing way to discern.

For example, I was discerning yesterday on how I should serve God: Should it be in a pastoral role, like a shepherd or a Treasure facilitator? Or should it be through communicating my knowledge: Blogposts, social media, and conducting lessons?

The latter seemed closer to my natural talents. I liked writing and speaking. But I also didn’t want it to be driven by my human needs for affirmation and achievement.

So I went to the adoration room to pray, and one question that popped up was: Should I even continue blogging? Is my blog taking time away from my family and community, and does God even want me to serve Him in this way? I left the adoration room feeling even more confused than ever.

Then we had the pray over session. We didn’t tell each other what we were discerning about, but instead left it to the Spirit to guide our messages to each other. What happened next blew me away.

As my prayer buddies prayed over me, both of them talked about the blog. They both said that it that it brought joy and hope to others, and that it was a great channel to bring God to the rest of the world. An opportunity that not many people had.

In the past months, when I was doubting whether I should even continue blogging, these messages affirmed what I was doing.

Of course, it doesn’t end here. I’ll need to continue purifying my heart, inviting God to speak and testing the Spirit to make sure that this is TRULY from God. But yesterday’s pray over session really gave me a renewed sense of hope and a clearer sense of mission.

Never underestimate the power of prayer. You never know what the Spirit will say to you!

Image credit

3 Ways To Discern Better

I used to be skeptical about discernment.

To me, “discernment” was about audibly hearing God’s voice. I’d imagine the Holy Spirit whispering into someone’s ear and saying stuff like, “Hey go speak to this person!” or “Hey write this down!“. And the person will be like, “Oh yeah, that’s good! Keep telling me what to do next, God!

Or sometimes, I’d think discernment would be about praying hard about a decision: Should I marry this person? Should I take this job? And then suddenly the heavens will open and there’d be a flash of clarity with the right choice illuminated like a jackpot machine.

Unfortunately, I’d never experienced either of those situations. So I was skeptical: Maybe discernment was only for the chosen few – those imbued with the gift of listening to God.

And so I’d continue making decisions like how the rest of the world does: Based on my own logic and common sense. I’d take the job because it offers me more money. I’d be friends with this person because I liked his personality. Sometimes, I’d make a decision, feel unsure about it, then turn to God and ask, “Lord, please show me whether this decision is right… I THINK it’s right? It makes sense, right?

So when we had Part 1 of our session on discernment yesterday, it blew my mind that I’d been thinking about discernment all wrong. I was so grateful to learn what discernment was TRULY all about from those who were a lot more experienced than I am.

We covered so many great points during the sesh (that’s how the cool kids say “session” these days) on how to better discern God’s will for us, but here are just 3 of them:

Purify Your Heart & Intentions

Sometimes, it seems like I’m doing God’s work. I’m getting up on stage and speaking about theology, right? I spent my week preparing for this talk! I’m awesome! I’ve totally discerned that God wants me to do this!

But waitaminute – am I doing this because it’s really what God wants me to do, or because it strokes my ego? Does it glorify God, or glorify me?

Before we even start discerning, we as Christians need to look deep into our true motivations behind a decision. If our motivation is something contrary to what is Christ-like, it’s gonna cloud our discernment. Our human motivations are gonna take over. And like the hymn goes, “And God’s soft promptings can be easily ignored.”

Be Humble And Seek The Counsel of Mature Catholics

This one really surprised me when I heard it. Discernment isn’t some woo-woo metaphysical process between me and God – it involves other people as well!

But when I thought about it, it actually makes sense. After all, as Catholics we know that we can’t have a solitary prayer life – we need community as well. So why should discernment be any different?

Several years ago, one of our brothers was discerning whether he should go for a mission trip. He was torn between the practicalities of being a responsible Asian husband, and the call of spreading God’s word.

So he prayed, and he read the Bible, and he prayed some more. But he didn’t just stop there – he asked everyone around him for advice! First, he asked those around him who were mature in their faith: His spiritual director, his spouse, his friends who lived Christ-like lives.

But he didn’t stop there – he also asked his non-Christian colleagues, his friends and relatives. Everyone gave their perspectives: Some from a spiritual approach, some gave practical advice, some using moral logic.

By listening to a multitude of opinions and perspectives, and combined with the power of prayer, he was able to make a more informed decision on whether he should stay or go. (He went. And it bore fruit for years to come!)

Discernment isn’t just about prayer and “feeling”. It’s also about fact-finding, information-gathering, and logic. God speaks to us not just in prayer, but through those around us as well.

Understand God’s Character

Jason, who gave his testimony yesterday, gave this one analogy that I really like:

It’s like a husband who knows exactly what his wife likes and doesn’t like. When a waiter asks them for their drink order, the husband already knows that he shouldn’t order Coke, because his wife likes Sprite with lemon.

Sometimes, discernment isn’t about hearing God’s voice in an audible manner. Instead, it’s about acting in accordance with what you already know about God’s character.

A husband can only know – truly know – his wife by spending time with her. In the same way, we can only know God by being familiar with Him. Reading the Scriptures and listening to the messages within. Spending time in Adoration. Reflecting on how much He loves us by sending His only Son to die for us.

And above all, falling in love with Jesus.

When we go deeper than just a superficial knowledge of rules and rituals, when we actually fall in love with Jesus and truly know Him – That’s when we can start to discern His will for us. We can say, “Hey, I know this seems to make sense from a worldly perspective, but based on what I know about God, I don’t think this is something He’d like me to do.

Many of us still have a long way to go before we get there (I know I do!). Many of us need to learn how to love Jesus over and over again.

But what’s important is that we keep our hearts open, continue to pray, and persevere. Have a great week ahead 🙂

Blessed Matrimony Glenn & Christina!

Today as a community, we celebrate once again a marital union of 2 of our members!

CONGRATULATIONS GLENN & CHRISTINA!!!

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Just like what Fr Jude said, it has been quite a journey with these two in Seven Graces! From the time Fr Jude met Glenn outside the Church toilet in Easter 2015, Glenn coming shyly to Budding Community (the old Seven Graces), pulling Christina to Seven Graces sessions as well…. till today, where our community come together in joy & excitement to celebrate the wedding!

I remember fondly the time when Christina & Glenn did their first session for Seven Graces in SPP. Aptly, the topic was on Love – a sharing of the pearls of wisdom they received from MPC (Marriage Prep Course). It was a really enriching session – a session of hope and also of challenging oneself to love one another authentically and in God’s plan and way. I also remember how Glenn was perspiring in the air-con room, all frantic and nervous for the session =p

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Here are our very own Seven Graces musicians and singers coming in early and getting all ready for the wedding mass! And look at Glenn & Christina looking all serious waiting for us to pray over them and asking God to bless them in their marriage =)

So congratulations once again Glenn & Christina! May you both always live out marriage as God’s plan is for you – of serving and surrendering to one another.

Enjoy a lifetime of learning to love one another more and more each day, to bring joy and wonder to each other, to be fruitful and multiply and most importantly, to hold each other’s hands while bringing each other a step closer to God each day for the rest of your lives =)

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Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual warfare is a fairly new term to me – it could have just been a year since I first heard it. And it has always been a very scary phrase to me. Just the word war conjures images of dramatic fighting, violence and pain.

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Credits: Pinterest

The adjective, “spiritual”, makes it worst. It makes me think that the war is fought against something that is dark, terrifying and elusive. Something you can hardly grasp nor identify tangibly.

So what is Spiritual Warfare? I like in particular this description of spiritual warfare taken from Fr. Robert J. Carr.

Do you ever think of yourself engaged in spiritual warfare? Often times those words bring up thoughts of exorcisms and heads turning around three hundred sixty degrees. However, in reality fighting temptation and living the gospel are themselves forms of spiritual warfare.

Therefore, believe it or not we actually engage in this battle everyday. Further, do not forget that the prize is the most precious treasure we possess, human souls. Our own and those of others.

And we cannot kid ourselves. Spiritual warfare is very real and could be very serious (we often diminish the seriousness of our sins but that is a whole new topic). But the whole idea is not to dwell on the difficulty and fear of spiritual warfare, but to recognize that God is bigger than any of that.

In necessity, in spiritual warfare, a response is needed. More specifically – a response to cooperate with God is needed.

What if war actually looked more like this?

spiritual-war

Credits: propheciesofrevelation.org

 

Sometimes I fall short of that as well. When I feel strongly tempted by something, a draw to sin, I start fighting this battle inside my head. (You know those cartoons with the mini angel-you and mini-devil you debating over what to do – yeahhh that’s exactly how I feel). I often end up with a headache and no further from sinning. Perhaps it is just as simple as to turn to God and ask Him for guidance and strength.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Be constantly aware of your weaknesses – as the evil one is sly and will attack your pain points.
  2. Pray & fast – so as to deny yourself of your selfish and disordered desires
  3. Repent & rectify

 

It is also important to recognize that losing in the spiritual warfare doesn’t always entail doing something. If not, we would not be reciting how Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate every Sunday in the Creed when Pontius Pilate decided to ‘wash his hands’ off the matter.

Sitting on the fence gets our butts poked.

So in conclusion, be hyper alert to little voices in your head and to know if they come from God or from somewhere more sinister. God’s call is always a call to love.

Be the Lighthouse

WHO WAS I?

I was Zacchaeus, perched up on a tree, searching… I was the prodigal son, wasting away my life, wandering too far to go back… I was the woman at the well, shameful with sins, lost and lonely… I was the disciple during the storm, holding on to hope desperately, fearful…

 

At that point, I used to think that I’ve gone too far off to be redeemed. Humans are weak like that. We were told the many saving graces of Christ, that He would never let go of our hands. While faith is about believing without seeing, how many people actually embrace that thought? In these moments of desperation, where do we look for Christ? Naturally, on fellow human beings. We are sensitive beings constantly looking for empathy and common understanding. We would want to seek advice from people who have walked in the same shoes before. God knows of this fact very well. I mean, how couldn’t He, when He was the one who created us? Thus, He places vessels all around to help illuminate His light. I call them God’s lighthouses (some call them human angels of God). Not perfect, shiny and holy people, but broken, beaten people who have experienced God’s grace and mercy. You and I.

 

If it wasn’t for God’s lighthouses, I wouldn’t have known, that Jesus was there, holding out His hands, asking me to come down from the tree, and inviting Himself into my home and my heart. I wouldn’t have known, that Jesus was waiting with open arms, and He was more joyful than anyone when I returned. I wouldn’t have known, that Jesus was ready to offer me the water of life, to free me from all bonds. I wouldn’t have known that Jesus was there, all the time, and there’s no reason to be afraid at all…

 

I felt very blessed that the community I’m in recognizes its importance. I’ve gone through 2 sessions of testimony sharing throughout this formation period, and there’re some things that’s been planted deep into my heart.

 

Every time someone shared their life stories, I was amazed by how much courage they have. “Why?” You would ask. Well, to put it simply, when you’ve found something wonderful, wouldn’t you want to share it with your loved ones? The joy of it is just too immense that you’re shining from the experience. When you’ve received something so beautiful from God, you’d really want the people dearest to you to know too. Every time after people shared all the amazing things God has done in their lives, I was thrown away and overwhelmed, and my inner monologue is always, “GOD, WHY ARE YOU SO GOOD?”

 

And to be able to disclose some of their most sensitive and intimate secrets, it dawned on me on how much they trust their community to keep these secrets within the divine confidentiality we’ve promised each other, for them to share so comfortably, to shed both tears of joy and sadness, to request for prayers and intercessions. It also showed that they have come to terms and have been healed to be able to say it out loud. I felt really warm and blessed to be part of this circle to witness all these.

 

Finally, I saw how the community grew through the sharing of testimonies. We were united through our vulnerability. We laugh and cry together. We understand where each of us come from and the circumstances that surround our spirituality. I realized that we’re all just the same. We’re all sinners, all searching for God, and all growing together. There’s no one who’s more righteous than another, or more “holy”. We learnt how to not judge others, and develop empathy to the members of the community. We’ve CHOSEN to become each other’s LIGHTHOUSE.

 

I tried but failed miserably to put into words how beautiful this process is, to share your life with other people who you see as dear. I’ve gone from feeling distant, rejected and awkward to feeling warm, accepted and belonged.

 

Will you be willing to help carry the light of Christ? Will you be a LIGHTHOUSE?

lighthouse

The Year We Walked In Faith

One year ago, I was at the Church of St Francis Xavier, where I had dragged my then-fiancee Pei Shan to attend the Easter Virgil Mass. I remember feeling very moved during the Mass, yet feeling a tinge of sadness. Pei Shan was not yet baptised, and showed no signs of accepting the Catholic faith anytime soon.

As I watched the Catechumens being baptised, I said a silent prayer: “Lord, you have entrusted me with Pei Shan’s life. I want to take her to Heaven so she can be in full communion with You. But I have absolutely no idea how.

It’s true: I wasn’t passionate or charismatic. I had only a basic, Sunday School understanding of theology. Even though I had been Catholic all my life, I had no idea how I was going to share my faith with my future wife.

But God already had a plan.

The Challenges

At that time, Pei Shan was attending a Protestant church but wasn’t baptised. To her, it was just a formal procedure, a ritual. If she already loved God, why did we need to bother about baptism? That simple procedure wouldn’t make much of a difference.

I tried explaining why I thought baptism was important, but it was tough because I was baptised as a baby. I didn’t have a choice, so what did the act really mean? Not to mention the millions of cradle Catholics who were lukewarm about their faith – hardly a resounding testimony.

Baptism wasn’t the only thing that I struggled to explain. In the past year, we had long, intense theological debates from the accuracy of the Bible (“It was written thousands of years ago and based on a bunch of stories, how do we know if it’s right?“) to whether Mother Mary was truly sinless (“Didn’t the Bible say that Jesus was the only sinless person?“).

We once debated on why Catholics go for Confession, and I showed her this article. She rolled her eyes and said “C’mon, that’s a terrible answer”. I had no idea how to respond.

Pei Shan and I struggled about the role of the Church. Compared to Protestant services, she felt that Catholic Masses were so boring and that she simply couldn’t connect with them. Why did we need the Mass or the Church? Why couldn’t she just worship God on her own, without being tied to any particular faith tradition?

I was grateful that even though she was skeptical (and rightfully so), she wasn’t closed. Every week, she followed me to RCIA on Tuesdays, 7G sessions on Saturdays, and Mass on Sundays.

Still, I felt a little sliver of heartache whenever she didn’t make the Sign of the Cross, didn’t say the Hail Mary, or didn’t kneel during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

I felt like a little kid who wanted to show this beautiful hidden treasure to his parents who just couldn’t see it. I wanted to scream, “This is beautiful and sacred and wonderful and I want to share it with you!!!” But I had no idea how to articulate my love for these Catholic concepts to her.

God Steps In To Help

Thankfully, God never leaves us to complete His mission on our own. In fact, He did most of the heavy lifting and slowly revealed Himself to Pei Shan.

7g_baptism

First, there were the people He sent into our lives:

  • There was Fr Jude, who asked the hard questions and broke down tough concepts during his fiery homilies.
  • There was Keenan, who sat down and patiently explained to us whenever I scurried to him with questions like “Why is the God of the Old Testament so vengeful?”
  • There was Yao, who pestered Pei Shan to attend RCIA and even drove her down to session when I couldn’t be there
  • There was Ian, who doggedly asked her to go for weekday Mass, no matter how many times she said “no”
  • There was Matilda and Esther, who lent her a whole bunch of childhood books about the Saints and their lives when Pei Shan was struggling with her baptism name
  • There were the 7G community members, who invited her to go for weekday masses, got her involved in service teams, and SHOWED us what it really means to sacrifice their time, money and lives for the sake of God

Indeed, it was an entire CHURCH that got involved to bring this one soul into the family. I probably missed out a bunch of people, but almost every week, there was someone, somewhere who brought Pei Shan closer to the Church.

Next, there were the spiritual encounters. Knowing the answers to theological concepts was one thing, but true transformation crept into Pei Shan’s life only after she encountered God.

We attended retreats and events: Treasure, RCIA retreat, the 7G retreat, OYP’s Stations of the Cross, Nox Gaudii, Jason Evert. At each of these events and retreats, God sent her a little message saying, “Hey, I’m real. I’m here. And I want you to be with Me.

I still remember the various uncanny encounters where God kept bringing up the image of St Peter to her: A vision at Treasure retreat. A randomly-picked scroll at a Sacred Heart Mass. An offhand comment during a conversation. A validation during the 7G retreat about her baptismal name – Faith – and how it could be stronger than her fear.

It didn’t happen overnight, but I could feel something change inside Pei Shan. She went from being skeptical, to curious, to desiring this immense great love that Jesus has for us, His Church, and the entire world.

The Walls Come Down

I remember the first time she knelt down beside me during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. I didn’t ask her to, she just did it. When I asked her why she decided to kneel, she said, “I just have to surrender.

I was blown away and overjoyed. My heart was so immensely happy and I didn’t know how to express it, so I just kept quiet.

She started to listen to podcasts by Fr Mike Schmitz. She started reading books about faith. For someone who couldn’t even get through even one book before, she suddenly devoured a biography of St. John Paul The Great by Jason Evert, Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn, and is starting on The Lamb’s Supper.

She started going for Adoration and weekday Masses by herself (no need Ian to drag her anymore!). She took leave to attend the Chrism Mass and stood for 3 hours to witness it. Heck, she was becoming more Catholic than me!

Seeing her draw closer and closer to Christ brought more joy to my heart than any promotion or material riches. I felt like the merchant who found a great treasure in a field and sold all his wealth to buy the field. Nothing made me happier than seeing the person I love the most walking towards her spiritual home.

The Joy Of Easter

Which brings us to today – Easter Sunday – the day after Faith was baptised into the Catholic Church, during the same Easter Virgil Mass I attended a year ago. The same Mass where I whispered a prayer asking God for help, which He lovingly answered.

peish baptism

As I look back, I can appreciate how much of a struggle it was in the journey towards Faith’s baptism. But I can also see that we were never alone. We had the Holy Spirit and the Church. We had the Sacraments which – rather than being a mere ritual – held a real, tangible power in Faith’s transformation last night.

And most importantly, we had Jesus who died on the Cross, who paid the price of his very life for us. Us! We bratty, sinful, undeserving kids who don’t even deserve it, but He chose to die for us all the same, just because He loves us.

That’s not to say that we are “done” in any way. Baptism isn’t the goal; it’s just the beginning. In fact, maybe things will get even more challenging from now on.

In the past year, God’s mission for me was to journey with Pei Shan towards baptism. But now, what are His plans for us? How does He want us to serve Him? How can we share the joy of His love that we’ve experienced this year?

I know it’s not going to be easy, but if this year is anything to go by, I know that we aren’t alone in our journey. Jesus is risen, He has conquered death, and he walks with us.

Have a very happy Easter, everyone!