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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Talking about the Pallium…

pALLIUM

On June 29, Pope Francis will bless and give the pallium to new Metropolitan Archbishops to be imposed by the Apostolic Nuncio on their own dioceses. Prior to 2015, the palliums were imposed on Metropolitan Archbishops at St. Peter’s Basilica on June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. However, Pope Francis changed the tradition by having the pallium imposed on the Archbishop in their own dioceses, therefore only blessing the palliums and concelebrating Mass with the new Archbishops on June 29.

Many may be asking, “What is a pallium and what does it symbolize?” A pallium is a band of white wool with two pendants embroidered with six black crosses. The ends of the pendant are black. The pallium is worn around the neck with one pendant hanging from the front and one hanging on the back. Special pins are attached onto the crosses on the top cross of the two pendants and the left side cross. The pallium itself have gone through significant development in its shape. In the past, a pallium was a very long stole of wool that was wrapped around the neck with its ends suspended on the left. Then, the ends of the pallium were slowly moved to the centre. Eventually, the pallium became a circular band with the pins added only for decorative purposes, no longer used for its practical purpose. Then, the two pendants became shorter, and shorter to the size it is today.

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Figure 1: Development of the Pallium

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Figure 2

The pallium used today did go through some interesting times. Once during the Pontificate of John Paul II, he used the pallium with two long pendants and red crosses (see figure 2). However, he used the standard pallium like other Archbishops throughout his Pontificate. The pallium became quite interesting during the pontificate of Benedict XVI. During his installation, Benedict was

pallium

Figure 3

given the “old-style pallium” with the ends suspended on his left shoulder (see figure 3) and decorated with five black crosses. That pallium was later changed to a new one that had red crosses in 2008. Pope Francis wore that “revised” papal pallium until June 29, 2014 when he reverted back to the standard pallium that was given to Metropolitan Archbishops and he has kept that style since.

The wool of the lamb traditional comes from two lambs who has been blessed by the Holy Father on the feast of St. Agnes (January 21). The blessing of lambs is to commemorate the martyrdom of St. Agnes whose name means “lamb”. Obviously, the wool must have come from other lambs too since the wool of two lambs would not be enough to make palliums for almost forty bishops.

The pallium bears two meanings. First, it is a symbol of the union of the Pope with its

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The pallium is a reminder for the Archbishop to be like Christ, a good shepherd

Metropolitan Archbishops in taking care of the Catholic Church. Metropolitan Archbishops may only wear the pallium in their Metropolitan See, in their boundaries. The Pope however has no boundaries and may wear his pallium universally. The pallium is a symbol of the good shepherd. Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago explained his his Pallium Mass homily, “Made of lamb’s wool, marked with crosses and stained at the ends in black to resemble hoofs of the sheep, it is placed on the shoulders reminding the one who wears it and the entire church he serves that we are a community that goes after the lost sheep.” The pallium is a representation and reminder of the lambs the Archbishop must carry upon his shoulders. In union with the Holy Father, he must guide the church in faith, hope and charity and like Christ the good shepherd, bring home those who have gone astray, therefore ultimately glorifying God.

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Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago receiving the Pallium from the Apostolic Nuncio in 2015

The pallium is a very interesting vestment and rich in symbolism. We pray that the Archbishops who wear the pallium may be reminded to be like Christ, the good shepherd, seeking out the sheep who have gone astray and with the Holy Father, guide the Church in the right path, the path of faith, hope and charity.

 

 

 

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ICS Video Game: Mario Bros, Vati-Run Edition, v. 1.1

In my Introduction to Computer Science Course (ICS) at Chaminade College School, as part of the Independent Study Unit, students were required to create a video game on Scratch, which is a “free programming language […] where you can create your own interactive stories, games, and animations.” 

The Planning Stage – As part of my brand The Catholic Man, I want to create a game that has a Catholic aspect. I was thinking for sometime and suddenly, the image of St. Peter’s Basilica popped up in my mind. “A perfect game setting”, I thought. I also wanted to put include an aspect of Christianity today, the many persecutions that occur. Interestingly, I happened to bump upon an article recalling how a seminarian saved the Eucharist from ISIS and later on returns to the area as a priest. Therefore, the goal of the game is to collect all the Chalices but at the same time dodge the rocks. The rocks are a symbol of persecution. St. Stephen was the first martyr and he was stoned to death (cf. Acts 7:54-60). Today, there are many more gruesome forms of persecution of Christians. Mario also collects the flames, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. In the midst of persecution, Jesus reminds us, “…for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Mt 10:20). In the end, after completing all three levels, each one progressing in difficulty, Mario sees Jesus whom He calls Mario, “good and faithful servant” as mentioned in the parable of the tenants Matthew 25:23.

Preliminary Sketches

 

Level1

Level 1 – Originally, I planned to use a various number of Sacred Objects that Mario should catch. However, I figured that collecting one specific vessel would be more meaningful. In my plans, I intended to have the devil popping up at random moments. After some time thinking about it, that feature was scrapped from my plans.

level2

Level 2 – In level 2, I planned to have Mario catching stars, a Marian symbol. However, it would not seem reasonable to have stars falling from the sky. Level 2 was going to take place in the Crypt Chapel where the tombs of most Popes are located in St Peter’s Basilica. It was impossible to find a panoramic background of the Crypt Chapel and therefore, I had to change the setting for Level 2.  I also intended for my game to only have two levels. The two levels seemed too easy. Therefore, a third level was added which was a little bit more difficult.

Sprites

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Mario – He is the main character of the game. His mission is the save the Church from persecutors and from destruction.

 

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Rocks – Mario must avoid these rocks. Rocks in the context of this game is a symbol of persecution.

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Fire – Mario can collect these to boost up his scores if he is hit by the rocks. They are a symbol of the Holy Spirit which gives the Christian People strength to withstand persecutions.

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Chalice – Mario must collect all the chalices in each level. They are a symbol of salvation, “The Cup of Salvation” (Psalm 116).

Jesus Risen

Jesus – After achieving the goal, after dodging much persecution, Maria sees Jesus, the “pot of gold”, Salvation. God is our goal in the after life after overcoming the many challenges of life… to meet God face to face in Heaven one day.

Screenshots

 

 

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Box Art

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled at EB-Games as this might appear on the shelves one day!

Mario Vati-Runs box art

 

Download

Well, the game might not be at EB-Games right now, but you can download it free-of-charge in the link below!

  • Version 1.1  << CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD >>
    • First edition of Mario Bros. Vati-Run Edition
    • First time Mario completes a mission through one of the holiest sites in the world!
    • Download the Scratch file and open it in Scratch
    • ***Minor glitches and notes*** (Please read before playing) 
      • The game may be run very slow. Please use a fast computer.
      • If “green flag” is pressed the first-time and things seem to be a little bit messed up, press the “green flag” again and everything should function correctly. It has been an error I have been unable to diagnose.

Credits

A special thanks to the following individuals who helped me throughout the process to make this edition of the game possible:

  • Mr. Mason (ICS Teacher)
  • Tyler Nguyen
  • Joseph Tran

 

Closing Remarks

Any recommendations? Leave them in the comments below!

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A Catholic’s Call To Serve

Service

As my grade 10 year at Chaminade College School came to a close, I once again ran

Vote for Vincent Pham

My campaign poster

for Student Council hoping to continue with a third year on the Council for the 2017-2018 school year. I have been involved in Student Councils ever since Elementary School. From the moment I walked through the doors of Chaminade College School in September 2015, I knew I wanted to participate in Student Council and other religious activities. I was elected by my peers to be one of the two gr. 9 representative. In May 2016, I was re-elected by the student body to be part the Student Council for the current school year, 2016-2017. This past Wednesday May 24, 2017 was the elections for the Student Council for the 2017-2018 school year. The results were announced yesterday morning on the announcements yesterday Thursday May 25. I was surprised and humbled at my election to vice-presidency (vice-chair) of the Student Council, something I would have never expected since I stepped foot into Chaminade College School almost two years ago.

Going through the halls with others recognizing who this, “Vincent Pham” guy was, I was humbled. I have informed my friends that I am still the same old Vincent Pham, vice-president or not. I never expect to get high positions or even to get many votes. I entrust everything into the hands of God and go with His will. Now that I look ahead into the future with responsibilities in my hands, I have reminded myself of that call to serve others in faith, hope and charity. It has come to my attention that the higher your position is anywhere in life, the more you must serve others, not the other way around.

“…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Mt 20:28) I believe this will  be my motto for the remaining of my time on Student Council. Many people often want to seek high positions, or what many call “rankings” in a hierarchy. The key that many want is power because with power, one can control other people with it so other may go with their wants, their taste. Yet, Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:25-28) Jesus, most supreme in power because He is true God, did not come so that others may be His servants. Rather, Christ humbly came to earth without majesty, “taking the form a slave” (Phil 2:7). This was evident through Jesus’ act of washing the feet of His disciples before the Last Supper (cf. Jn 13:1-17). 

All of this brings me back to an event I took part in last year. The one-day program hosted by TCDSB called, A Catholic Call TServe (ACCTS) was not only a day of prayer, Mass and discussions. However,it was a day I really learned the true meaning of Catholic service. Students were assigned to volunteer at different charities and shelter in Toronto. I was blessed to volunteer at Mary’s House in Downtown along with some other of my brothers and Chaminade College School. I do have to comment that the work was not as easy as I thought. We were to clean the baseboards of three floors. Each student wore gloves and used sponges to scrub those baseboards. Afterwards, I commented jokingly to one of my friends, “Today was one of those days when you really don’t want to be a Catholic (LOL)!” I went home that day reflecting on what I have done that day and realized that Jesus did similar acts too.

The higher the position one is in, the more service they must do. Those ordained to Holy Orders are called to serve. Priests, though they are called “Father”, wears beautiful vestments for Mass and using such fancy chalices, all of that would mean nothing without service. Same with Bishops and above. They are called by the people as “Your Excellency”, wear such beautiful mitres, hold elaborate croziers and wear elegant pectoral crosses, these insignia would mean nothing without service. We can see in the Popes after the Second-Vatican Council, especially in Pope Francis. Those days of the gestora and the Papal Tiara are now gone. The vestments worn by the Pontiff are much simpler. Yet, their acts of service are great and becoming more visible to the Christian people to show that even those of high authority are called to serve the people, not to be served. This should be the case not only with the Supreme Pontiff but with ALL World Leaders and those with authority. Prime Ministers or presidents and their companions should be the ones serving the people of the country, not to be served by the people of the country. Sadly, this is the case in many countries where citizens are forced to work for the glory of the government.

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Cardinal Blase Cupich serving food (@CardinalBCupich Facebook) 

Since my time on the Student Council, I have looked up to Cardinal Blase Cupich, now Archbishop of Chicago. He was student council president in his senior year of high school in 1967. Now he is now Archbishop and was elevated to the College of Cardinal in November 2016.  According to Fr. James Martin S.J., he is one of the most influential men in the U.S. church. With all the titles, Cardinal Cupich has never failed to stop serving. To me, he is, like Pope Francis a model of humble service.

I believe that service should be placed at the centre at a leader’s life. One should use their high position in an organization to do what is best for the community, not self centred. Christ could had come to make all of us serve Him because He is the King. Yet, Jesus did not do that. He said, “I do not call you servants any longer[…]but I have called you friends” (Jn 15:15).  Those days of servant and king were gone. We must be people of service because, “whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35).

 

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