Answer: How do I Find Time to Pray?

In the midst of homework, sports tournaments and practices and other extra-curricular activities, prayer tends to the last thing on a Catholic teenager’s daily to-do list. Not only is this the case for Catholic teens, but also the case in the lives of many adults as well. Prayer seems to become the bottom thing of the pile of work we do, and it gets buried in the dump. The irony is, prayer is an essential part in the lives of Christians, no matter what denomination you belong to. Even though Christians are divided in doctrines and teachings, the act of prayer is what unites Christians.

“How do I find time to pray?” some people ask me. Here is how I schedule my prayer life:

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My breviary during a retreat

Morning: I wake up, I try to remember to do the sign of the cross. If it is a school day, I do my morning hygiene and breakfast in order to head out to the bus stop to catch the bus. When I catch the bus, I take out my breviary to pray Morning Prayer. If it is a non-school day, I pick up the breviary and pray it first, before starting anything.  For some, it may be tempting to put your phone on your night table. For me, I keep my phone on my desk, on the other side of my bedroom. I keep my breviary on my night table, making it the first thing I pick up when I wake up either to pray it right away on the weekend, or reminding me to put it in my backpack on a school day. I also download the breviary texts on my phone via iBreviary, so if I forget my breviary on a school day, I still have texts with me to pray.

Midday: I always try to remind myself to at least do the sign of the cross before meals, especially before lunch when I would often forget. During lunch, I sometimes find my way to my school chapel just to visit the Eucharist, even if it just were a minute or two. Lately while working, I try to find a nearby church that is open. Most of the time, it is not possible as the churches are locked, but I have managed to find one for myself. It is very calming and prayerful environment, especially because not many people are present in the church building during noon.

Evening and Night: Our family prays together every evening, simply just a decade of the rosary and the reading of the gospel of the day, because as Fr. Patrick Peyton, the rosary priest said, “The family that prays together, stays together.” Sometimes, evening family prayer is the only time that recollects the family together after a busy day. Before I go to sleep, like the morning, I take out the breviary and pray Evening Prayer (even though it may be 11pm), but Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are the chief hours of the Liturgy of the Hours. Therefore, I strive to pray at least those two Offices.

A prayer routine varies from person to person. You have to find what fits for you. For me, I find a sense of renewal every time I pray the Liturgy of the Hours as it changes everyday over the course of four-weeks. I also like the fact that the Liturgy of the Hours is said universally as a Church along with the clergy and religious all over the world.

However, for some, praying the rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet may be one’s preferable style of prayer. Or perhaps singing along to praise and worship song can be one’s style. For some, painting icons is their preferred form of prayer.

Lately, I have wanted to be more prayerful. I have many “full-length” rosaries at home.

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My paracord decade rosary 

Inspired by the many paracord rosaries I have seen sold online though, I decided to make my own decade rosary a couple weeks ago.  A difficult part of the rosary was selecting the cross. I considered puchasing a new one. However, while looking for one in my collection, I came across one I knew would fit. The cross is contains not only the corpus, but symbols of the four evangelists. At the back depicts the 14 stations of the cross. I realized I bought the cross at a discounted price of $1.00 in 2016 at Marylake Shrine after crossing the holy door and found no use for it until now. I decided to add three medals: the miraculous medal in honour of Mary; a medal of St. Joseph, my baptismal name and patron; a medal of St. Anthony of Padua with a relic at the back… I have a deep devotion to him.

Making a rosary is a prayerful act in itself. Consider making one for yourself or make one to gift a friend in need. But making the rosary would be pointless if you do not pray with it. I have tried to use it while on the bus, subway or on a walk rather than being on my phone. 

Prayer is connecting with God. When we fail to place prayer at the centre of our daily lives, then we remove God from the centre and put Him to the side. Let us find ways to pray so to foster our relationship with God and therefore, strengthen our faith in God.

Read more: The Strength of My Day: Liturgy of the Hours

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Pilgrimage: A Journey

pilgrimage

This past Saturday June 09, 2018, the Vietnamese Catholic Communities of the Archdiocese of Toronto and surrounding areas made the annual pilgrimage to the Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ontario. I have been to the pilgrimage since I was only 5 months old, making this year’s pilgrimage the 18th one. The pilgrimage for me is a very important of the year and I simply cannot go through a year without going to the Martyrs’ Shrine.

However, it is during these days that I reflect on the meaning of the term pilgrimage. To make a pilgrimage to a holy site is a journey. It is not a field trip or a vacation. A pilgrimage requires both material preparation and spiritual preparation.

Material preparation refers to material needs required for a pilgrimage. Nowadays, it is the act of preparation for a pilgrimage financially. In the old days, pilgrims had to walk long distances to real holy sites and therefore, they had to prepare for the long journey including physical endurance, food and drink. Pilgrims today have it easy: purchase a plane ticket, board the plane and you arrive at your destination in a matter of hours. Spiritual preparation refers to the preparation of the inner state of oneself, including prayer, fasting, and the reception of the sacraments. It would also be appropriate to do some research on the history of the holy site so that one may be more connected and understand the historical significance.

I will be attending Chaminade’s 2019 Europe Trip during March Break. The itinerary includes many holy sites, including Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia and Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica, to name a few. I have never stepped foot in Europe before, let alone step foot in any of these churches. Yet, in order to achieve this goal, I have to undergo physical and spiritual preparations.

I can imagine the day that I step foot into St. Peter’s Basilica, at the site of St. Peter’s tomb, the heart of the Catholic Church. It is the site where the Catholic Church gathers for Canonizations, Holy Years, and papal funerals. I hope that making the pilgrimage of St. Peter’s will liven up my faith and my passion for Catholicism. As a toddler, I played with crosses, holy cards including one of Pope John Paul II and interested in anything Catholic. I even recall faintly watching St. John Paul II’s funeral on TV and nine years later, watching his Canonization.  This all connects to the beginnings of Catholicism: The cross: the symbol of the faith, St. John Paul II, the successor of St. Peter. Being at such site would bring liven up one’s faith in a tangible way, a culminating point in the life of a Catholic.

However, going a pilgrimage to a holy site is a reminder of our own earthly journey. Life is a pilgrimage, as we face many battles in our spiritual life, but we try to overcome those battles through prayer and perseverance. We are constantly on the pilgrimage towards the holiest of places, The Heavenly Jerusalem – Heaven. During these past months, with the passing of Mr. Nguyen, a friend, teacher and mentor, the theme of Earthly Pilgrimage has come up in my mind from time to time. Life is a pilgrimage, but how do we overcome our battles? Do we give up or do we walk that pilgrimage to the very end?

We go on pilgrimages in order to seek God through the saints. This, along with our ministry and everyday routine are segments of a larger pilgrimage to the Heavenly Jerusalem.

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The Six Month Journey with Thầy

RIP Thay

“Mr. Nguyễn was called to the House of the Father this morning,” I messaged to some people the morning of April 23rd, 2018.

I learned that a beloved teacher, friend, and mentor of mine, Thầy Tuấn was diagnosed with rectum cancer on October 14, 2018 as parishioners of both St. Cecilia’s and Vietnamese Martyrs Parishes were celebrating the centennial of the Fatima apparitions. I went home after having a celebratory dinner. My dad told me that night that Thầy Tuấn was diagnosed with cancer. I was shocked and was very sad.

Thầy Tuấn was noticeably thinner as the weeks went by. Despite his health, he still continued his usual parish duties, as a book keeper, catechist, music director and other administrative tasks. He did all the things he loved and did not let his health get in the way. From time to time, I still had a little laugh or talk with him, exchanging some thoughts.

Mid-February, I did not see him, probably days before the Family Day weekend this year, I did not see him at the Church. That was about the first weeks of Lent. I saw his wife coming by the sacristy after 1pm Sunday Mass with a pyx to bring the Eucharist to him on several occasions. The St. Cecilia Band, a band that he founded a little more went through the major Liturgies of the Paschal Triduum without his direction as it was during this time that his condition worsened.

I sent an e-mail to Thầy on Easter Sunday. I will never know if he ever opened it. However, just a few days after Easter Sunday, April 3rd to be exact, I learned that his condition has worsened and that the cancer has spread to the bone. It was a pain to learn of the news, knowing that he might not make it.

A day after Divine Mercy Sunday, Monday April 9, 2018, the Solemnity of the Annunication of Our Lord, I went with my dad to visit him at Sunnybrook Hospital. On the car ride there, my dad said that it would be likely be the last encounter I would have with Thầy Tuấn. I was heartbroken and sobbed on the way, asking my dad, “What do I say to someone who I am seeing for the last time?”

My father and I go into the room where Thầy was residing. His wife, cô Phương was accompanying him. Some parishioners and a Vietnamese school classmate was there before me. I went immediately to him and put into his hand a small holy card with the image of Divine Mercy. I recall him greeting me with the ever familiar greeting, “Hi Việt!” Thầy Tuấn was one of the only people in the parish to use my actual Vietnamese name. Besides, others used the name “Vinh” which was a nickname our Pastor used to refer to me, or by Vincent. It made sense that Thầy used Việt because his youngest son, a classmate of mine at Chaminade was also named Vincent.

It was very a very emotional visit that I will never forget. His wife mentioned that Thầy has already read a letter I wrote to him, that I asked a close friend he visited him very often to hand to Thầy. His wife said that Thầy was very proud of me. Thầy Tuấn with all his strength said that again to me and it was very humbling.

All present said the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the prayer that coincidentally, was on the Holy Card I gave him.

I cried for much of the visit since I just couldn’t contain my emotions. I did not know what to say but to thank Thầy for all that he did for the me on a personal level. He has helped me so much to put me in where I am today at the Parish. I assured him that his work has bloomed.

A promise I made to him that night was that: no matter what happens, I, along with the youth at the Parish will get the Youth Pastoral Plan completed. Early February when Thầy was still around, I talked to him how I will start to compose a Youth Pastoral Plan to keep the youth of the parish alive for the years to come. He agreed, saying that eventually, the current generation will be going off to University and for him, his health may no longer permit him to do what he was doing.

I made the promise to Thầy, and he said that God-willing, if he would be healed, he would help me 100% in its completion.

Before I left him, I asked him to pray for me and vice-versa, I would pray for him. I told him, “Let us all be happy”. That moment, I was referring indirectly to Archbishop Paul Đọc’s motto, “God is my happiness” (Archbishop Paul died early March during the Ad Limina visit of the bishops of Vietnam. I wrote a column about his death and that column was published The Catholic Register’s April 8th, 2018 issue).

As the days went by, I heard nothing about Thầy, except for the fact that he transferred rooms. I continued to keep him in my prayers and prayed to the Venerable, Francis Xavier Cardinal Thuận Nguyễn. In the letter I gave Thầy earlier before the visit, I included a second-class relic of the Venerable.

The evening of Saturday April 14, my dad said during dinner that according to his wife, Thầy only had a week left to live. I was heavy-hearted. Throughout the week, I prayed and thought of Thầy every moment. Wednesday of that week, April 18, two friends of his son, Vincent, two Chaminade student from the parish and the two chaplains of our school gathered in the chapel to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the same prayer myself and others gathered at his bedside said during that visit on April 9.

Saturday April 21, 2018, First Communion Mass at our Parish. As Mass was being celebrated, our pastor found out that his mother has passed away. In the sacristy, some people were expressing condolences to him. The pastor mentioned that the parish would likely be facing not one funeral, but two because Thầy Tuấn’s day was likely nearing.

The pastor was right. A little past 7:00am the morning of April 23rd, 2018, the phone was ringing. My parents were prepared to go to work. My mom picked up, and it was Thầy Tuấn’s wife. Thầy Tuấn passed away about 6 am. I quickly went down to ask my mom who was on the phone at such early of a time. She said that Thầy Tuấn just passed away. I didn’t cry right at that moment… absorbing the information.

I quickly sent out messages to my friends, some of Vincent’s friends and some teachers at Chaminade. I did not want to use the term death, or passed-away. Instead, I used the terms, supposedly used by John Paul II as he neared death, “called to the House of the Father”. As I wrote an e-mail, I cried.

FB PostThen, I quickly filtered through my picture archives and found a picture of Thầy handing out ice cream during one of the parish’s Ice Cream Sundays. I wrote, “Labourer in the vineyard of the Lord,” because that is what I believe Thầy Tuấn was at our parish.

I left my home at 8:00 am to head to school. On the bus ride with sunglasses on, I opened my Breviary, not reading the regular Easter Morning Prayer, but the Morning Prayer of the Office of the Dead. Throughout the day, my phone was flooded with messages about Thầy’s passing.

This past week, I just couldn’t keep my thoughts straight. All of my thoughts were about the memories I had with Thầy. I was so blessed to be in his Level 2 Vietnamese Credit Course class. His lessons that he taught I will treasure. Interestingly though, it was during this same time that Thầy talked about the theme of death as the Church reads the Gospel of Lazarus during a Sunday of Lent (I don’t remember).

Tuesday, a day right after Thầy’s passing, there was a Memorial Mass for him. The Mass was a weekday Mass but about 100 people showed up. The pianist was a close student of Thầy. The hymns were sung so beautifully by the congregation. I did not serve that Mass because I wanted to recollect myself.

On Thursday, my dad and I went to the Funeral Home for the viewing. I went up to the open casket and was a little sad that he did not look like the Thầy I knew so well. I went to the left and embraced his wife and his sons, along with the other family members.

The next day, Friday, I had an appointment after school but tried my best to make it to the Funeral Home to see Thầy for the last time. I led some of the prayers as I did on some Saturdays at the parish and I saw it as an honour.

Yesterday, Saturday was the Mass of Christian Burial (Funeral Mass) for Thầy Tuấn. I served this Mass as I do for major solemnities and Sunday as Vietnamese Martyrs Parish.  It was honestly the saddest Mass I have ever served and the first time I shed tears of sadness while serving.

The front door of the church opened as Thầy’s casket was being carried by the pall bearers. That would be the last time Thầy would enter the Church that served for over three decades. Then, the altar servers and I went back to the sacristy to process down with the deacon and priests down to welcome Thầy like the day he was baptized.

I have served some funeral Masses, but this one was one that I put my whole mind and heart into its texts and rituals. The celebrant sprinkled Holy Water on the casket and draped the white pall on the casket, symbols of baptism.

The hymns as I was told, were chosen by Thầy before he passed away. These were not the generic hymns used at our parish’s funeral Mass. I sung to the hymns as Thầy’s band, the St. Cecilia Band played with their whole heart.

The Liturgy of the Word was interesting at Thầy’s funeral Mass. It was probably Thầy’s intention to have a reading be proclaimed in English so to be inclusive to all present, especially the youth. The Responsorial Psalm used was not Psalm 51, as generic for our parish’s funeral Mass, but rather a joyful setting of Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd) that he taught the band to play for many years. The Gospel was the story of Lazarus’ death (cf. John 11:17-25) which I still remember vividly Thầy teaching my class about the meaning behind this specific Gospel. Msgr. Peter Bá Phạm was the homilist and spoke so well of all the themes of the lectionary readings with Thầy’s life.

Thầy Tuấn

Thầy Tuấn and I during a Choir practice, playing song, Lắng Nghe Lời Chúa.  (Credit: Martha T. Nguyễn)

Thầy’s son, Vincent, read the General Intercession. I teared up each time he said, “…bố con,” Vietnamese for, “…my father”. I was heart broken.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist was celebrated reverently, as I recalled all the part of the Eucharistic Prayer that Thầy taught the class last year. I knelt right behind the celebrant at that Mass, listening very carefully to all the prayers, realizing that this was the last Mass with Thầy Tuấn in the Church he loved.

The rite of Final Commendation followed the remarks by the family. This rite was presided by Bishop Vincent Nguyen, whom Thầy Tuấn served faithfully for him when he was still a priest, administrator of then, Mission of the Vietnamese Martyrs, during the young priest’s one year term with the community. It was touching as the Bishop sprinked Holy Water and incensed the casket.

The procession, led by the cross and candles processed out the church. The clergy sprinkled Holy Water for the last time on the casket of Thầy. Then, the pall bearers carried the casket out the Church. That time, would be the last time Thầy would step down those stairs of the Church which he had known so well.

The Rite of Committal and interment was at Assumption Catholic Cemetery in the area reserved for the Vietnamese people. Many attended the burial as Msgr. Bá presided over the Rite of Committal, bidding farewell to Thầy.

His band, the St. Cecilia Band was present to play last songs to him. Then, members of the youth choir and band stepped up to the area of interment as one of the youth represented all the youth and promised to continue to continue the mission of the Band, to (1) Serve the Sacred Music at Liturgical Services, (2) Be a place where youth can spend time together. Myself and many others cried our hearts out, knowing this would be the last time we would be able to gather around our dear Thầy.

The president of the Pastoral Council, bác Tạo, before departing said to the youth, that to the very end, the youth was in the heart of Thầy Tuấn. I cried at this, knowing that Thầy Tuấn loved the youth very much. Bác Tạo said that if we love Thầy, we should continue to be like Thầy and continue to listen to our parents so to be the future of the parish.

The Rite of Committal concluded with the singing of the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi (Kinh Hòa Bình). I saw a two fold meaning in the prayer. First, it was the fact that Thầy Tuấn lived out the prayer so well. He was so selfless and always at the needs of others. Secondly, the prayer was for the youth and those present, that we, like Thầy Tuấn can serve others selflessly.

***

This past week has been a very sad week for me personally and certainly the case for many who have known Thầy Tuấn.

I have been so blessed to have worked with this great man of faith. He was a faithful husband, father, teacher, catechist, friend and mentor. Whenever I approached him to ask for something, Thầy would find all the means to obtain for me what I needed. This even went to the extent of obtaining the Jubilee of Mercy banners at the church. I asked Thầy what happens to banners at the Church once an occasion is completed. He said that they usually just store them away. Thầy probably understood my intention. My dad went to the Church one night to assist in the taking down of the Nativity Scene. When my dad came home, his hands were full with two banners. I opened them up, to see that they were the Jubilee of Mercy banners that hung for a year at the parish. The next week, I thanked Thầy, saying that they are great souvenirs of the Jubilee, especially because this was an extraordinary Jubilee Year.

One day during summer about 2/3 years ago, I had to go to the Church to do something per a request. That person left me at the Church without any arrangements to go home. Thầy Tuấn was there, and said he would drive me home.

I was very blessed to be a classmate of his last year in his Vietnamese Credit Course class. He told many stories and learned so much from him, not only about Vietnamese culture, but life lessons. He only handed back two of my assignments, but the comment on one still sticks with me, can be translated as, “Very well done. Let’s talk about it when we have a moment” (Hay lắm Việt. Lúc nào rảnh nói chuyện thêm). Yes, I have talked to Thầy on uncountable number of occasions.

Thầy Tuấn was a very kind and humble man. He undertook very important roles at the parish. He was once the parish secretary. Then, he undertook another job but still continued assisting the current parish secretary, doing administrative tasks. He took care of the taxes and tax receipts of the parishioners. I have been able to learn much about the parish administration system, and the history of St. Cecilia’s Church.

Thầy always took time for me. I recall the day after Lễ Bế Giảng last June (2017), Thầy was in the Parish Office drawing plans on a form for the Annual Vietnamese Martyrs Shrine Pilgrimage. He was busy, but when I walked into the Parish Office, he said, “Hi Việt”, can explained some facts about the Lễ Bế Giảng the day before. Then, I asked Thầy in Vietnamese, “Thầy, did I do bad on the Vietnamese exam?” He said, “Certainly no! But why did you think so?” I answered that earlier that day, I went to check on MyBlueprint to see my Vietnamese Course mark, and saw that it was an 85. He quickly left everything and went to the other office to open his laptop to verify the mark he gave me was a 99. I was at relief. Then Thầy dug through the report cards, and noticed that my mark was somehow put on as an 85. He promised to change it. The following school year, September 2017, Thầy assured me that he will change it. He kept his promise and that was fulfilled in November.

***

Thầy Tuấn, I love you a lot as a teacher, friend and mentor. Thank you for all you have done for me. You have helped me be where I am today at the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish. I will keep my promise just as you have kept all the promises you have made to me: to complete the Youth Pastoral Plan, in the path you have envisioned as you have told me on numerous occasions during your lifetime.

Thầy, you stayed true to what you taught. Your life proved that. You were faithful to Christ until the end, even in pain and suffering, especially during the last six months of your life. Yet, even in death, you were giving others life as you donated your eyes, heart and liver to those who needed them. You are model of selflessness. Pray for me, for the youth and our parish when you are in heaven.

Requiescat In Pace, Thầy Tuấn.

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Paschal Triduum Message 2018

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Crucifixion, St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica, Toronto

Dear Friends in Christ,

With the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, we begin the most holiest days of the year called the Paschal Triduum. During these days, we walk with Jesus on “the way of love”, walking with Him through the Passion and His glorious resurrection.

Over the past two years, I have written three reflections on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil liturgies. This year, I urge you to immerse yourself in the Liturgical actions and texts. Continue reading

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Introducing a New Short Film: GIRARSI

Girarsi

As part a culminating activity for the grade 11 Communications-Technology course at Chaminade, students assembled in groups to create a 5-minute short film.

My group originally thought of an Italian Mafia-themed movie. However, the movie seemed to go beyond that theme, incorporating both mafia and Catholicism to the film.

Before I give any spoilers, take time to watch the film:

Short film website: https://girarsi.wixsite.com/girarsi 

The Director’s Commentary (please watch film before reading)

When the culminating activity was first explained with clear outlines, as mentioned before, the film was originally going to be an Italian Mafia movie, something like Good Fellas. However, a couple days later, I came across a 20-minute short film The Confession (with english subtitles) about the Sacrament of Confession. I really liked films with confessions like The Gran TurinoTherefore, I proposed to the team about a Mafia-confession theme.

Continue reading

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Vincent’s Top 5 Moments of 2017

2017

Last year, I started this website to have an online presence, a digital footprint and as part of my efforts to evangelize. Thanks to this website, I have been convinced at how powerful a digital portfolio can be. From time to time, I like to surf my own website, re-reading the old posts. By reading the older content, I can see areas of improvement in my writing but also the progress I have made.

During these last moments of 2017, I sit back to reflect on the top 5 moments of this year.

Continue reading

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Christmas Eve Mass Complexity (?)

Christmas eve complexity

Christmas is only a couple days away. Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year. Thouh that may mean a short Advent, there have been many who have been confused about how many Masses they have to attend on December 24.

I’ve seen several versions of this chart this past Advent season on several webpages :

December 24 Mass Combinations (from catholicherald.co.uk)

Many reading such a chart may say, “Oh, so confusing!”, or “Two Masses in a weekend?” The answer to that is simple. One has to fulfill both the Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Advent) and Christmas obligation. No shortcuts here.

However, I pose a question, “Why are we so concerned about how many Masses we have to go to?” For many of us, Christmas is a time to shop around, spend time with family, party, recreation time. Sadly, Christmas has been secularized today that it seems like Jesus has been forgotten on his own birthday. When I go through the Christmas card aisle at Walmart, I find it so difficult to find a Christmas Card with depicting the Child Jesus and/or the Holy Family. Rather, snowmen, Santa and his elves adorn the front of many Christmas Cards.

Going out into the streets, there are many beautiful displays. Yet, what percentage of the displays depict the Child Jesus or has some reference to Jesus? How many Nativity Scenes are displayed in public? Or is there that fear of discrimination or possible scandal among the public?

We as Catholics should bring Christ back into Christmas. However, that starts with ourselves. Why are we so concerned about the fact that we have to Mass twice in one weekend? Why do we see going to Mass as such a burden but going to a friend’s party a pleasure?

This last Sunday of Advent and Christmas, let’s resolve to do this:  Don’t go to Mass just to fulfill the obligation. Rather, go to Mass with your whole heart to give to the Child Jesus laying in the manger.  Also, don’t leave the Church early. Take time to go to the Nativity Scene set up at Church and look at the figure of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Often we complain about little things in life. But compare ourselves to the Holy Family and reflect on the obstacles they had to go through. The truth, the hardships they had to go through is nothing compared to the little we have to endure today.

Read more:

Vincent Pham’s 10 Ways to Celebrate an Authentic Catholic Christmas

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Reflecting on God’s Not Dead 1 and 2 and Relativism

God's Not Dead

Last school year in Grade 11 Law class, the law teacher lent me a movie titled, God’s Not Dead. Just a couple days ago, I managed to stream God’s Not Dead 2 online. Interesting enough, in my grade 10 religion class, the religion teacher (who was very good about apologetics) discussed the concept of God. For years, I have always loved the teachings of the Church. However, I never faced an argument and that religion prompted me to put myself in such position. I realized that perhaps I couldn’t argue the concept of the existence of God theologically, based on “the Church says this, says that”. In that religion class, I really learned about the existence of God not only theologically but logically based on reason.

Everything on earth is has a cause. For example, an apple came from a store, the apples at the store came from tree on the farm, the tree came from a seed, the seed came from an apple… so on and so forth. But that “backwards cause motion” simply cannot go on forever. If you can trace it back to the big bang theory, great! But, where did the big bang come from? There must have been a primary cause that started everything. We call that the prime mover. Christians acknowledge the prime mover as God.

Sometimes, we may encounter who may say, “I only believe in things that are scientifically proven.” That statement is simply baloney!  That itself statement cannot be scientifically proven! If you can prove that that statement is true scientifically, you would be very famous.

The God’s Not Dead movie series is a response to the growing philosophy of relativism present in the world today. Relativism is the philosophy that there is no absolute truth, no right and wrong in the world. Everything is subjective to one’s own feelings, one’s own preferences. By rejecting the truth, we reject the existence of God, who Himself is the author of reality, and in which Jesus, true God, said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14:6)

The victory of relativism is the hammer that crumbles the walls of society. When there is no absolute truth, no rights and wrongs in a world, everything becomes subjective to the human being. The legalization of euthanasia, abortion is the “fruit” of relativism. Human life has a purpose and the Creator has given it as a gift to human beings so the we can “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). That has simply been rejected now. In this relativistic society, human life has become something subjective to one’s own feelings and emotions. Through the legalization of euthanasia and abortion, we undermine the value of human life, putting it into our hands.

We must use our minds in which God has created to reason, not our feelings to determine right and wrong. We must recognize that morality is objective, not subjective to man.

“God’s not dead.” That statement is powerful, but how can we integrate it into society? Image result for God's not deadFirst, we must recognize the presence of God in our everyday lives through the people we meet, through nature, through His creation. Second, we must not be relativists. When we let relativism be the philosophy that leads society, we reject God because God is the author of morality. Relativists allow themselves to become their own god, in which there is no room for reason, for truth and therefore ultimately rejecting God.

Let us not fall into trap of relativism. Instead, let us follow the path of objective moral truth, which is the path that leads to God Himself on the last day.

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Meaning Behind a Sweater: Identity

sweater post

If you have met me in person either outside of school, at Church or just simply outside of home, you’ve likely seen me wearing Chaminade’s black Student Council sweater. I started wearing it after Council members bought one, custom made in June 2016. Just last June, another Council sweater was made (so I don’t wear the same one all the time)!

A sweater is a sweater, but such apparel bears great meaning behind it. I remember that story, The Hockey Sweater by Rich Carrier. The boy’s Montreal Canadiens sweater became small and his mom ordered a new one, only to get a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater. The boy, I believe was not upset about the wrong sweater, but was ashamed of the identity associated with the sweater. He wanted to be associated with the Montreal Canadiens like the rest of his peers, not the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Many secondary school clubs often have sweaters, t-shirts or other custom made apparel to first of all, distinguish themselves from a different club or sports team. Every group is unique and group members should always take pride in the great things that they do.

The Council sweaters I have are probably one of my most valued things. Perhaps it does not have much monetary value but it is the sense of belonging to a group, answering the call to serve in a specific group, in a ministry.

I find that it is the same meaning when I put on the alb and cincture (no stole and chasuble yet… for a long time 🙂 ) for the celebration of Mass of assist the priest. The alb and cincture are reminders of the one who serves that what they are doing is for the glorification of God and His Church through the celebration of Liturgy.

One can connect similar ideas to apparel of their profession. For example, scientists in the lab puts on a lab coat before work and police officers, depending on their ranking puts on the appropriate pieces of their uniform.

I reflect on my mission every time I put on the council sweater. I am reminded of my call to fulfill my roles on Student Council to the best of my abilities so that my brothers and Chaminade can have a great experience during their years at high school. A similar meaning goes for the alb and cincture when I put it on for Mass. I am reminded to be there to serve the priest, and faithfully assist in the Liturgy for the glory of God and His Church.

However, sweaters, albs and cinctures are all material things. Ultimately, in anything that I do, my first identity is that I am a child of God, a soldier of the Gospel. Do we ever realize or remember that? The “sweater” saying “child of God” was permanently put on our souls on the day when we were baptized. No one can take away or destroy that “sweater”. The “child of God sweater” is on us forever!

Do you not feel like you belong to anything? Remember always, that you always wear the permanent “child of God sweater”.

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