Chance and Uncertainty – Our perennial obsession with probability

So I found myself writing codes to crunch statistical figures related to traffic build up’s in Singapore, hoping to predict traffic patterns across our roads.

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Such probability models help us answer 3 things

  1. WHEN
  2. HOW
  3. WHY

The incessant obsession with producing accurate results almost instantaneously is driving me insane (i shan’t bore you with my research project)

Data Analytics , Data Science, Machine Learning, Deep Learning

Geez – These terms have been liberally sprinkled across forums, government initiatives so much so that it is anathema to me

We live in a world where many things can happen.

We live in world where we want things to happen on our terms.

We live in a world where we want to be in control


SEE WHAT I’M DRIVING AT ?

Probability, statistics, causality, modeling, deciding, communicating, uncertainty. Everything HAS to do with evidence.Czm96iUWEAA6PRl

Certainty stems from prediction based on plentiful observations and simple premises.

So….. this how the (typical) story goes …… pardon me if I sound condescending or stereotypical

We find ways and means to plan………….

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SO WHAT ABOUT OUR FAITH ?

We cannot see, touch or hear* God 

*We can truly hear God if we pray, but that’s meant to be dealt with in another post

Perhaps, that what makes faith a struggle. Because we do not fully get an answer from God. download.pngWe don’t get immediate replies like a Google Search Engine does. We are blind in that sense.


Perhaps such is the nature of Faith – that it requires one to journey in uncertainty while constantly clinging on to Jesus.

It is through realizing our vulnerability and helplessness that we truly marvel at God’s grace in our lives.

If our faith life was so certain, I doubt one would truly treasure the relationship with God


Mark 5:21-43 talks about the healing of 2 individuals. 

Both the woman and the father of the little girl take Jesus seriously. Both believe that Jesus can restore their lives. Both kneel before him and are healed.

The Gospel of Mark awakens us to the abundant healing grace of God in Jesus. In Jesus, there is hope.

SO WHAT DO I DO ?

First, I must congratulate you for being so patient as to stay with me till this part of the post ♥

  1. Scripture

    The word of God is crucial to Faith formation. Read through the daily readings a few times
    (i’m sure you can do that – we pore through Great Singapore Sale adverts with surgical like precision and infinite patience)

    Unilever-CNY-Warehouse-Sale-2018.jpgIf a particular phrase / reading catches your attention , allow yourself to dwell over that. Think about WHY IT SPOKE TO YOU (It could be an incident in your life that that makes you relate to this reading)

  2. Prayer
    Find a quiet spot (not when the TV is on or when the camera zooms on a topless Ronaldo at the World Cup)

    Start off by thanking God for giving you this time to pray.
    Communicate your feelings with God
    Ask God to speak to you
    Than God for this special time with Him

    Prayer takes time. It’s repetitive and requires effort, but it pays off


It doesn’t mean that we don’t plan our lives :p

But when it comes to a relationship with Faith, relinquish that rein and allow God to work in your life

*The esteemed writer is an overtly caffeinated Engineering student who realized that Moses was the 1st individual with a Tablet to download data from the Cloud

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Seven Graces Day of Recollection 2018

Come, Blessed and be Blessed

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Seven Graces June 2018

It has been a journey of 5 months formation and here we are, enjoying the last bit of our Day of Recollection 2018 as a community!

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These pictures sum up our journey as a community, to celebrate each other’s presence and also to offer a toast to Christ – the one true God for who we come together to worship and praise!


Being Blessed

Backtracking, we gathered in the morning at 8AM to share in breakfast and adoration together. In the adoration room, we reflected as a community on what it means to be blessed. 

It is usual to rejoice in our earthly blessings and say things like “I’m so blessed to get a good job! I’m so blessed that I’ve recovered from my ailment!”. However, this brings about the question – if our earthly life doesn’t seem to be going well, if we lose a loved one, if we fall ill, does this mean we are no longer blessed?

What does it mean to be blessed then?

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

“Made holy, consecrated”

“Endowed, with divine favor and protection”

This brings about a great revelation – the definition of being blessed is not wealth or comfort, but rather to be “made holy”. Since we are made holy through salvation in Jesus Christ, in essence, the truest form of being blessed is to be made aware of our wretched state, led to repentance, sanctified for holiness, and to one day receive the crown of righteousness.


In community, we are helping each other to be a blessing and to bless everyday. We learn to receive blessings from the Lord and also to pass on this blessing to one another.

In our games and fun:

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In welcoming new members:

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In worship and action songs!

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In our sharing:

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In sharing our pain and praying together:

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Doing smelly things together (literally):

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We are glad that we are all here in this journey with Christ and together as a community! We are blessed!

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Taking The Long View

So for the past couple of weeks, I was feeling a little lost and directionless: It felt like I had a thousand things that were vying for my attention: My job, my blog, exploring data science, CTIS classes, growing a business, preparing for 7G sessions, going through courses, etc.

At Nox Gaudii at the Cathedral on Saturday, I asked Faith and Charmaine to pray for me and I felt a deep sense of peace. I didn’t have the answers to my problems then (in fact, I continued working all through Sunday!), but I had this feeling that God was going to answer my prayers.

And yesterday, while going through The Ignatian Adventure, a daily reflection based off St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises (here’s the online version if you wanna try it out), the day’s reading had this prayer which to me, was basically the answer to my confusion and frustration.

Sharing it here in case you are going through the same thing:

A Prayer for Oscar Romero and Other Departed Priests

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
Amen.

Salt and light

As we slip into the new year, the world becomes a little brighter and better. People take stock of what is in their hearts and minds, and bursting forth with hope, they pen down resolutions that serve as direction for the year.

The 1st weekend of 2018 saw our community ushering in the new year with new direction and new flocks to journey with for the next few months. And, coinciding with the Epiphany of the Lord, there was no better way for us to recognise and claim this Hope together.  The theme for our flock commissioning was ‘Salt and Light’ (Matthew 5: 13-16).

You are the light of the world

Above the lowly manger, shone a star so bright in the dead of night that attracted the wise men from afar to come and see. Upon seeing the Lord, their lives were changed when they left, “but in a different way”. This is the promise that Hope brings, this light emanates and illuminates,  attracting and guiding us out of our darkness and into His assuring light in 2018.

Light also radiates. It is not meant to be hidden; it is to be “placed on a stand and shared with everyone in the household”. I once remembered stopping short in a conversation to pray with a friend. Inspired, she went on to pray with her boyfriend and recounted her prayer moment to other friends the following day. Her friends listened and were likewise inspired to pray with their loved ones that very day . When she told me all these, she beamed and summed it up so simply, “It is like passing a light!”. And, indeed it is! Faith inspires faith. 

As we journey together in the new year, let us not forget to lean in, share the light with each other and together burn brighter in His Love.

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Our new shepherds and prayer companions receiving the Light of Christ before passing it on to their flock

You are the salt of the earth

Salt is easily dismissed as a basic commodity because of its abundance today. It is a key ingredient in dishes to provide flavour and depth. In our para-liturgy, we were each given a packet of salt symbolising ourselves. We were then asked to make a commitment to how much of ourselves did we want to give to God (through others), and how we could add flavour to lives of those around. Praying for others before self, de-cluttering of one’s life in order to offer more life-giving options to others and offering of committed time were some of the ‘added flavour’ that was shared.

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How much of yourself are you willing to offer to God?

Salt is also used to preserve food and prevent decay. And, in this day and age where ‘it’s my life’ mentality reigns, it is very easy for us to just sit back and mind our own business and shrug “Who am I to judge?”.  In community, we are “all part of one body”, we are all inextricably linked. And, we are our sisters’ and brothers’s keeper. It is not right for us to be mere spectators, but to be actively mindful of what we are doing to support, preserve and protect each other’s faith along this journey.
Together as community, let us hold tight to our hope for 2018. May we reflect the light of Christ not only in our darkness but to allow Light to radiate and attract more to the fore. And as we are led to more interactions with others in the next few months, we ask
for His grace to enrich the lives of others and point them all back to Him 🙂
Blessed 2018!

Just Five Minutes

Hello it’s Kim here, newbie 7G-er and blogger!

“Out of general politeness, two things that people don’t talk about are religion and politics.” I might be misquoting him a little, but on Saturday Father Luke Fong spoke about something along these lines during his homily.

Although I am a cradle Catholic, I have never been one to openly talk about my faith to my friends. If you looked at my Facebook feed, unless you are that big of a stalker and clicked my “Pages You Liked” tab on Facebook, you probably might not even know that I do go to church.

And yet here’s a post testifying about His great love, because, in this day and age, I’m sure He’s techy enough to use the Internet as an instrument to reach out to us.

On Saturday afternoon, I shared about what happened when I was in Amsterdam. An Asian girl, walking the streets of Amsterdam all alone, came across a sign on a shabby looking door that read “Just Five Minutes”. Given Amsterdam’s reputation, she, of course, assumed the worst and thought that the establishment was offering a quickie.

She only realised that behind that shabby looking doors was the Church of Saint Peter and Paul as there was a tiny Year of Mercy logo at the bottom. Curiosity got the better of her and she pushed those doors and entered the church.

For some strange reason, there was an elderly Dutch man sitting at the back of the church. I assumed that he was the caretaker and approached him to ask why they had that sign stuck on the door.

With the aid of lots of gestures and a very a sporadic handful of English words, he explained that all God asks of us is for us to give him just five minutes each day in prayer.

All God asks from us is just five minutes of our time.

Coming home on Saturday evening after mass and dinner, I received a text from Deanna telling me that the page, Blessed is She, shared about the same thing I did in their daily reflections – Just Five Minutes.

The 24 hours prior to my sharing that afternoon had been an emotional roller coaster ride for me. I found out that God had answered my prayers for something that I had been praying for, for a while.

With such a humourous God, He answered my prayers in a way that I least expected. He answered my prayers in such a way that seemed as though He was making things worse for me instead of better.

I wasn’t angry with God, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t anxious and fearful.

When I received Deanna’s text, I felt like my heart was in my mouth and that I couldn’t breathe. Too many thoughts and emotions were running through my head. I  felt like God was using social media to reach out to me, and reassure me that he’s with me every step of the way, telling me to trust in Him and His plans despite what our myopic human brain tells me.

I shared my experience in Amsterdam and gave God five minutes. In return, He graciously showed me that He knows my heart through and through and that He is journeying together with me.

To quote Albert Einstein, coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. Give Him five minutes each day and he will give you the reassurance you need to get through life’s very many hurdles.

The highest form of Worship

Question: Why do we consider the Catholic Mass the highest form of worship?

Because of the communion! Where indeed, the Catholic Mass is the highest form of worship man can give to Almighty God because there is nothing man can offer God except God Himself. 

Wow that’s pretty profound. Like I kinda knew mass is important (hence the Sunday obligation yes?) but I never really thought about it that way.

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Image Credits: cathedral.catholic.sg

So now that we know the Liturgy of the Eucharist is super duper important – so where does that bring us for the Liturgy of the Word? Is it just to make sure Catholics are at least forced to read the bible throughout the readings from Year A – C?

Liturgy of the Word

Most of us are familiar with this sequence:

  • First Reading
  • Responsorial Psalm
  • Second Reading
  • Alleluia
  • Gospel Reading
  • Homily

The homily given by the Priest usually focuses on interpreting the readings for the day. Typically this translates to how we are called to live out our lives as Christians. To each of us in the congregation, our hearts may be stirred to ponder about the teachings and how we can be better people.

So this begs the question: Is the homily instilled to make me a better person?

If we have the habit to sincerely do reflection of the readings and homily, yes, certainly it can and will make us better people. But as we learn in this session, this wonderful transformation that the readings and homilies can do to us – is still only a side dish. If we only focus on that, we miss the actual profound purpose of the Liturgy of the Word.

 

The Word is Jesus speaking directly to us!

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If we were to be aware of this fact – that Jesus is speaking to us directly at every single mass through the scripture – how much more awareness and reverence we will have for the Liturgy of the Word!

As good Christians (as I’m sure we all are =p), we often tell people, “You know. I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do in my life. I’ll just keep praying and see what God tells me to do.”

This desire to do God’s will is fantastic! But it also brings the danger of expecting or wanting God to give a clear sign – or better still, decide for us and tell us what to do exactly before we make any action on our lives. This is however, the exact opposite of what God wants to do because He cherishes our free will so much. God is like our loving Father who provides us all information that we need, all the help that we require and then says “Come my dearest son or daughter, I have given you everything you needed. You are free to choose what you want now”. 

So if today you are especially stuck with a big decision in your life, whether it is pertaining to vocation, to a major career switch etc, listen especially attentively at Mass because that is where Jesus will speak to you. In the Liturgy of the Word, we get to know the heart of God and discernment is to understand the heart of God and to align to that. 

 

The first Mass after the Resurrection

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Luke 24: 13-33 On the road to Emmaus

I’ll just conclude here with a mention to the first mass celebrated after Jesus’ resurrection.

#1 Jesus explains Scripture to Clopas and another disciple:

And he said to them “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?

And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

#2 Jesus broke bread

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

 

 

Thank you Lord for revealing to us Your heart. Your most gentle, wise and merciful heart. May we always be open to listening and to be guided. Amen! 

 

Why Self-Help Is Shooting For The Wrong Goal

You’ve probably heard of Tony Robbins.

He’s one the most successful gurus in the self-help genre today. He’s advised everyone from Bill Clinton to Serena Williams to Usher to Oprah.

He’s announcing his upcoming seminar in Singapore with big, inspirational posters like this one:

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WOW – with one “life changing” week (and an entrance fee of $1,497), you too can UNLEASH the power within and reach your fullest potential! What could be more important than that?

I used to buy into the whole self-help genre. In fact, I’ve written hundreds of articles on my other blog about how you can improve your wealth, health, productivity, and career.

For a long time, “self-improvement” seemed like a worthy goal to me. What else was the point of life other than to climb up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to the coveted self-actualization tip of the pyramid?

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It’s easy to see why this is attractive. It’s like when you started school in Primary One, and you can see a clear path all the way until graduation. You polish off Primary School, move on to Secondary School, tackle University… all the way until you reach the Nirvana of Self-Actualization.

There’s just one tiiiiiiny thing: This is completely off the mark. Here are three reasons why:

We Don’t Really Know What’s Best For Us

Last week, I was watching baby Theresa (one of the kids in our community) play with a straw. Theresa’s at the curious age where she loves holding stuff. So she gets hold of a drinking straw and starts playing with it. She’s having loads of fun.

She drags the straw on the ground, then tries to put it in her mouth. This is when her dad steps in and firmly says “NO”. Obviously, we don’t want her putting a dirty straw in her mouth.

Theresa starts to get upset. She cries, and refuses to let go of the straw. If she had her way, she would chew on that dirty straw to her heart’s content. But as adults, we know that babies sometimes want to do things that aren’t good for them.

We get this when it comes to kids, but when we become adults, we somehow tend to forget this lesson. Now, we know KNOW what’s good for us. Just check out some of the things you can find in self-help books today:

From The Success Principles – a best-selling book by famed Chicken Soup for the Soul author, Jack Canfield:

How do you reconnect with your real passion?  You start on the smallest level by honoring your preferences in every situation – no matter how large or small.  Don’t think of them as petty.  They might be inconsequential to someone else, but they are not to you.

From If Life is a Game, These are the Rules, by self-esteem and motivational expert Cherie Carter-Scott:

You deserve to have everything in your life exactly the way you want it.

At first, glance, these seem to make sense. But when you think a little deeper, it starts to get a little iffy.

deserve to have everything in my life exactly the way I want it? What if what I want isn’t actually right? What if I had the same preferences of Hitler or Stalin or Mao Tse-Tung? Does it mean that I should still “honour those preferences in every situation?”

The truth is, we don’t really know what’s good for us. Just like how adults know that putting a dirty straw in our mouth isn’t good for our kids, God knows that sometimes, what we want might not be what’s best for us.

(And the “wisdom gap” between God and us is much, much bigger than the gap between us and our kids!)

Soooo – the whole self-actualization thing? That’s a man-made concept. How do we know that’s actually the target we should be shooting for?

We Need Higher Standards

So if only God knows what’s best for us (after all, He created us), maybe we should check out what He says about what “success” really is.

And heyyyyyyyyy, surprise, surprise – Jesus teaches us that the goal is the exact opposite of self-actualization:

Whoever finds his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. — Matthew 10:39

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Jesus wasn’t just some guru who dropped wisdom bombs like Yoda: He lived it.

He didn’t come into the world to attain self-actualization. He didn’t become a billionaire philanthropist superhero, overthrowing Caesar, funding cancer research and helping the poor and founding SpaceX.

Nope. He said to His disciples: You know what’s the ultimate fulfilment of life in my eyes? Being crucified on the Cross, humiliated, rejected, having given up everything in the eyes of the world.

THAT’S the true standard that He’s looking for. It’s not about building yourself up and self-fulfilment; it’s about losing ourselves and giving up everything for Him.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta understood that it all boiled down to love:

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.

We Can’t Earn Our Way To Christ

As Christians, we know that the ultimate goal isn’t worldly success, but to get to Heaven:

For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? – Matthew 16:26

Let’s assume that you are just awesome at this self-improvement thing. You’ve “unleashed the power within”. You’re now a billionaire with a six-pack; you’ve found a cure for cancer, and millions of people adore you.

But that doesn’t make a single bit of difference on whether you can make it to Heaven.

How talented or amazing you are has no bearing on how “saved” you are. Christ has already redeemed us fully and entirely by dying on the Cross. There’s not a single thing more that we need to do to “earn” His grace. It’s done – it’s given entirely to us, freely, totally, undeservingly.

The root of healthy self-esteem is not to pat yourself on the back and say, “I’m awesome”. It is to be convinced that you worthy because you know someone loves you, and loves you even if others don’t and even if you are tempted to believe that you are not worth loving at all.

As Msgr Cormac Burke writes:

On this basis even the person with no sense of exceptional human talents (and perhaps especially such a person), can develop a full Christian life.

What a wonderful message of hope! Knowing that there is nothing we need to do to earn Christ’s love, other than saying “yes” to it and embracing it.

In Short…

Of course, I’m not saying that all self-help is wrong. There is merit to improving ourselves, our skills, and our lives so that we can better build God’s kingdom. But we need to remember that it isn’t the end goal.
Where I think we’ve lost our way is that we’ve become so focused on the self that we fail to see that we’re shooting for the wrong goalpost.
Today, let’s remind ourselves to remove our self from the centre of our lives, and replace it with the One who truly matters: God.
Inspiration:

Why I Started Taking Angels Seriously

When Majella’s flock gave a session about angels during yesterday’s community session,  I gotta admit: I was pretty skeptical at first.

It’s just that I’ve never really thought about them, y’know? It’s already a struggle to be aware of the presence of God, and the Saints, and the people around me… now I gotta think about my guardian angel too?

It’s a weird thought: I kept picturing this weird, humanoid-shaped sphere of light following me around everywhere I went. I was thinking “This dude needs to get off my case already!

I also couldn’t shake off my inherent skepticism about anything remotely mystical. To me, angels seemed like a convenient figment of human imagination – kinda like Zeus or deities or unicorns. That skepticism was compounded by the fact that I couldn’t see them, and I couldn’t feel their effects in my life.

But on Esther’s recommendation, I went over to formed.org (kinda like a Netflix for Catholics – OYP has a free subscription if you’re interested!), and downloaded the book Angels (and Demons) by Peter Kreeft to read more about these strange beings that we know so little about.

I’m just about a short way through the book, but I’m already intrigued. For example, here are some mind-blowing facts about angels that I took from the introduction:

  1. They really exist. Not just in our minds, or our myths, or our symbols, or our culture. They are just as real as your dog, or your sister, or electricity
  2. They are not cute, cuddly, comfortable, chummy or “cool”. They are fearsome and formidable. They are huge. They are warriors
  3. They’re present, right here, right now, right next to you, reading these words with you. (Lionel: Now that’s a slightly intimidating thought, isn’t it?)
  4. They can literally move the heavens and the earth if God permits them.
  5. There are also evil angels, fallen angels, demons or devils. These too are not myths. Demon possessions and exorcisms are real.
  6. We are on a protected part of a great battlefield between angels and devils, extending to eternity

The last point really made me think.

There’s a great spiritual battle being fought for our souls, even though we can’t see it. The spiritual realm is as real as the physical realm – just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Can a fish in a fishbowl comprehend the world outside it?

For all we know, maybe our guardian angels saving our lives every day. Maybe we could’ve been possessed by a demon, or succumbed to the devil, and all matter of horrible things… if it weren’t for our formidable, faithful guardian angel.

It made me feel especially ashamed about dismissing the importance of my guardian angel. And the least I could do for him (her?), who has probably been working crazily hard to protect and guide me, is to offer up a simple prayer:

Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love entrusts me here, ever this day (or night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

Today, take some time to thank God’s for His infinite love, and for sending us such formidable warriors to protect us. It’s awesome to be on His side 😀

Social MEdia

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This scene is, unfortunately, a little too familiar to most of us. Technological devices – especially mobile phones – have taken so much away from us.

 

 

  • Time from families & friends
  • Time from God – ever got distracted at prayer / mass because our phones vibrated?
  • Time from other things that we may need to do – study or work

Yeah yeah…I can almost hear the dismissive tone and eyes rolling. This is a dead topic! Not this “technology is a double edge sword and needs to be used wisely” article again. So this is not going to be that article. This writing will be more about how it creeps into us even when we are not using technology.

Credits: A lot of the topics discussed here has been extracted from Ju’s speech at OYP Nox Gaudii 15 September 2017.

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Credits: GlobalDirective

WORK

This is an essential and critical aspect as much of our time is spent at work. In fact, you should have noticed by now how much research and writings have been dedicated just to understand how millennials work.

Here is a typical example from Forbes.

The first few pointers are as such:

  • Millennials don’t just work for a paycheck ― they want a purpose.
  • Millennials are not pursuing job satisfaction ― they are pursuing development.
  • Millennials don’t want bosses ― they want coaches.
  • It’s not just my job ― it’s my life.
  • … … …

And the list goes on. Actually these are wonderful things. God calls each of us to do meaningful work with a purpose, to develop and to contribute to society. The desires and needs that Millennials have are not new – probably just starting about 5000-4000 BC.

Genesis 2:15 “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

Ecclesiastes 9:9b-10 “in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.”

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Certainly we are not saying what Millennials want are not good. The important issue here is how Millennials react when they don’t get what they want?

From a personal stand point, I suffer greatly when I find work stagnated. I crave so much for constant affirmation that I am doing good work, whether is it producing results, getting feedback from happy customers, from a happy boss, getting an increment, getting a promotion…anything. Anything that shows me I’m learning and progressing well. I strongly feel that my day to day purpose at work and happiness is the most fundamental and important thing I need every day at work.

But here’s the thing. I cannot get this all the time. There are times when a certain deal needs to be worked at and pursued for a longer period of time – say even years. Often times, in the middle of it, I would have lost motivation. I would feel that I’m losing out to my peers and that I’m wasting time when I could be doing something more productive. 

In some ways, in the pursuit of development and contribution, I have lost the ability to have patience and to persevere. Ju gave an insight on how this could have happened. In the world today, we are hardly bored. In a second of having to wait or when we have nothing to do (and unfortunately sometimes even in between a conversation), we turn to our phones. We scroll endlessly for new content and we glimpse at our phones every time there is a notification. We end up being edgey all the time, never being fully present but always looking out for something new.

When we post something on social media, we often times get instant gratification. Regardless if it is contributing to our online profile, generating likes / comments, generating comments for others…the list is endless! Quite unknowingly to most of us, these habits have crept into other parts of our lives. We call it YOLO, turning away from the slow and unfashionable and making the best of our time here on earth. In fact, we have rushed and packed so much that we are losing sight of the actual best things in life.

Gone are the days when we hold a conversation without interruption. Gone are the days when we arrive at an appointment punctually knowing there is no way to cancel or to inform that we are late. Gone are the days when we remember our friends’ birthdays by heart. Gone are the days when we reach out to people in person.

We are so used to the screen that sometimes we even speak more to people over chat than in person! It has trained us to be comfortable in being awkward in real life (if that is even possible). It has trained us to ‘like’ somebody’s depressing post without even speaking to the person.

Social media is probably here to stay, but we can all start by being more aware of how it may eat into the best parts of life. Perhaps next time you suffer some frustration or impatience with something, take some time to offer it up to God and ask Him to gently guide us to do the better thing =)

Mother Mary, Teach us how to say Yes to Jesus

Visiting the Church of the Annunciation in Nazaren, the home of Mother Mary. I can unequivocally say that this has been my favourite site in Israel to date!

We were able to visit this beautiful and majestic Basilica. To be honest, i’ve never been one to enjoy visiting churches. But this one was different.

1) Mary, Mother of us all

Just standing at the outskirts of the church, what went through my mind: This was the site where the history of mankind was written, because of a simple “Yes” 2000 years ago.

There was a deep sense of peace and love as i just looked and prayed to Mother Mary. To intercede for my loved ones and for their conversions. I just sensed the deep love of Mary for them. One that stemmed not from my own heart, but from hers. And i knew Mary was reassuring me that she loved them as their own children and that she would continue to intercede for us.

2) Mary who shows us how to say Yes

We all know the story of how Mary said Yes to the Archangel Gabriel when he told her that she was chosen to be the Mother of Christ. And sometimes, its so easy to simplify it looking at the bible and how it has all ‘played out’

But as we read in scripture (Luke 1), in her humaness, Mary was feeling confused at first when the angel first appeared. Yet the angel said to her “do not be afraid”, and she accepted the will of God, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word’

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I was drawn especially to this image of Mary outside the church that depicted a young looking Mary. And when you look at her hands, you see a disposition of openess to the Lord

And because she was open to God’s call, she has a special place in Jesus heart. Which was why 30 years on, when Jesus started his public ministry and performed his first miracle, at the Wedding of Canna, at the intercession of Mary. And just as she told the servants at Canna all those years ago, Mary wants to tell each of us today “Do whatever he (Jesus) tells you”

So for me, as I look at my life where the Lord is leading me in various aspects of my life. I too ask Mary to pray for me, that i may have the same openess, to say Yes to Jesus 🙂