Expression of the Heart of Jesus: A journal entry after attending a Priestly Ordination

On Saturday March 14, 2022, the Archdiocese of Toronto celebrated the ordination of four new priests for the Archdiocese of Toronto at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. I have attended a number of priestly ordinations, each time I am reminded of what St. John Vianney has said, “The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. And I am reminded of this fact every time I hear and struck by what the presider says in the preface, “As they give up their lives for you and for the salvation of their brothers and sisters, they strive to be conformed to the image of Christ himself and offer you a constant witness of faith and love. That is, it seems, the very essence of the priesthood, to be a reflection of the image of Christ by virtue of their lives and I pray that everyday for our priests.

I share here a journal entry that I wrote at the start of July 2020, shortly after I partook in the Ordination of seven priests. This ordination left a special mark on me, because unlike the other annual priestly ordinations I attended in the Archdiocese of Toronto, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this one was celebrated in late June, just shortly after some lockdown restrictions were lifted, and churches in the Archdiocese of Toronto were opened for some months. Due to limited attendance, as part-time Sacristan at St, Michael’s Cathedral Basilica at the time, I had the honor of being able to serve at this ordination. It was also at this ordination that I was able to witness at close-range, the symbolism, actions and external signs of the Ordination rite very clearly.

“The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus.” (St. John Vianney)

Many emotions ran through me on June 27, 2020 as I participated in the ordination of eight men to the Order of the Presbyterate through the imposition of hands by Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto. It was my third priestly ordination I ever attended and probably the first one I actively participated in as sacristan and server for the Mass.

Often, an Archdiocesan Ordination would mean a packed Cathedral with “pomp and circumstance”, especially if it was a large ordinandi class like this year. Unfortunately, as COVID-19 swept through the world, that typical ordination was not possible. Originally planned for mid-May 2020, the ordination was postponed until June 27, 2020 – eight deacons awaiting ordination.

Continue reading
Posted in Catholic Reflection, Priesthood | Leave a comment

“Jesus, I Trust in You” – A Reflection on Our World at this Point in History

First, a story of a print of the Divine Mercy: Three years ago, I was in Europe with some fellow colleagues of Chaminade College School and we spent approximately two days in Florence, Italy. When we had time to do some self-discovery in small groups, before lunch, myself and some others came across a plain looking church (which turned out to be the church of San Remigio, with its current structure dating back to the 13th century). This church was not elaborate, but what was inside it was special. Not only was our Eucharistic Lord present (as in any church), but there were some second-class relics of Padre Pio, and a beautiful painting of the Divine Mercy… I’ll be focusing on the image of Divine Mercy in this reflection. I can recall, the church was dark, with some dim sunlight let in through the windows, with the exception of the crucifix in the sanctuary and the image of Divine Mercy which were lit with some spotlights. I remember walking quietly into the church and observing the simplicity of the church. There was barely any art in this church, so I spent a short while, a minute or two gazing at the Divine Mercy painting. Beside it, there were some complimentary prints of the painting, so I took one, carefully stored in a folder and went into my backpack. When I was back at my hotel, I wrote the date on the back of the print: “March 13, 2019.”

Continue reading
Posted in Catholic Reflection, Catholicism, Christian, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Quiet and Sacrificial Life of a Priest

Despite an already prepared blog to be published tomorrow, and some papers to submit in the upcoming days, I opened Facebook this morning to learn of rather terrifying news from Catholic News Sources in Vietnam, and later, the official Facebook page of the Dominican Order: Fr. Joseph Thanh Ngọc Trần, O.P. was murdered yesterday, January 29, 2022, while hearing confession. The exact motives of his murder have not yet been disclosed (still under investigation), though some speculate the murderer was drunk. Some have even went as far to call him a “martyr,” though I would not give such classification until we know of the motive behind such murder. However, what is clear: The young 41-year old priest died while he was celebrating the sacraments – in this case, the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Continue reading
Posted in Catholic Reflection, Catholicism, Christian, Priesthood | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vincent’s Highlights of 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on for nearly two-years, with the end seemingly long ahead as the world continues to face the complications set about by the omicron variant. However, while the media (I believe) persists on fear mongering, and yet while people should exercise prudence, we should be assured that we have progressed far with the pandemic, thanks to the efforts of so many people. Despite the lingering of the pandemic, I take a look back at 2021 at the top moments of the year.

Continue reading
Posted in Catholic Reflection, Catholicism, Christian, Retreats, Vincent Pham | Leave a comment

Where is the ‘Christ’ of ‘Christmas’?

For many university students like myself, the semester is now over with exams completed and now enjoying the two-and-a-half weeks of ‘Winter Break’. For high school and elementary school students, the Christmas Break has been well underway. For workers, Christmas is beautiful time to spend with family, even if that means smaller gatherings in light of the Omicron COVID-19 variant. Yet, as we take some days off of the year, have we missed out on including the ‘Christ’ of Christmas?

Having taken some university courses that had more secular viewpoints this past semester, I was enlightened on what many of my colleagues thought about the Catholic Church specifically and religion in general. It was this past semester that I understood really what some thought about the Church: corrupt, old-fashioned, behind with the times, needs to get up-to-date, unable to live up to its beliefs… It was difficult for me as a Catholic to hear what my colleagues had to say, but I never did react to what I heard because it comes to no surprise. As a Catholic, I speak to ethics on a natural law foundation, one that is founded upon God and I know it is viewpoint that has and will continue to be challenged by those who follow and find ease in following a secular agenda.

Continue reading
Posted in Catholic Reflection, Catholicism, Christian, Christmas, Ethics, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Truly Celebrating Sacred Liturgy as “People of God”

The school year is now well underway, and humanities students are writing paper after paper during this mid-term season. With that in mind, I thought it would be appropriate for me to share one of my papers I wrote last academic year.

In a year-long course I took last school year, titled Christianity and Society through the Ages, the course instructor, Professor Michael O’Connor encouraged his students to write a research paper about a topic in Church history (from the Middle Ages until the present day) that was of interest.

Continue reading
Posted in Catholic Reflection, Catholicism, Christian, Liturgy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“…and the greatest… is love.” – A Reflection on the COVID-19 Response of the Catholic Church in Vietnam

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthian 13:13

As Canada finds itself in the start of the fourth wave of COVID-19, looking at the brighter side of things, we at least have over 60% of Canadians fully vaccinated (as the time of this writing) and that will certainly mitigate the effects of this fourth wave. While health protocols will not be let down in the coming months, hopefully the high vaccination rates will avoid another lockdown. As of now, anyone above 12 years of age can get a COVID-19 vaccine, made accessible via mobile clinics or pharmacies. However, the gift of a COVID-vaccine is not made readily available everywhere in the world and the fourth wave is a completely different story in many countries.

Continue reading
Posted in Catholic Reflection, Catholicism, Christian, Ethics, Evangelization, Mission, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Comment on Recent Revelations on the Catholic Church and Residential Schools

There is no doubt that the recent revelations on the finding in unmarked graves on grounds of residential schools first in Kamloop, British Columbia, and gradually more and more discoveries around Canada, have sparked anger, disappointment, doubt, confusion and reopening of wounds of a dark chapter in Canadian history.

The Catholic Church, has made many mistakes throughout its 2000-year history. As Thomas Cardinal Collins has stated countless times in the past few weeks, the Catholic Church in Canada (i.e. its dioceses and religious orders) should have never participated in the call from the government to run this residential schools because it took children away from their families. Added on to that pain, the abuse of children, the conditions in which they had to live in were horrific and there are no words to describe the pain and suffering that residential schools brought upon Indigenous children. The Catholic Church was wrong. This is just one of many, many mistakes throughout its 2000-year history.

Continue reading
Posted in Catholic Reflection, Catholicism, Christian, Mission, Politics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Reflections of a Liturgical MC on Holy Week 2021

Today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Corpus Christi – the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. While Ordinary Time (part 2) started nearly two weeks ago, for me, this Solemnity closes the Easter celebrations as we return to green vestments on Sunday all the way till the Solemnity of Christ the King in November. We have been through much this year due to the effects and restrictions of COVID-19 Pandemic. However, it was was with these thoughts in mind that I composed the following reflection for the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement Kateri League-of-Chapter’s second issue of HIGHWAY magazine. I wish to share it on this site as well.

I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that over a year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, Toronto has been under a lockdown that has technically lasted nearly six-months long, meanwhile some dioceses south of the Canadian border have in recent weeks been able to take off signs and ropes on pews, restore hymnals back in the pews, fill the Holy Water stoups and most significantly, attend Mass in a back-to-near-normal manner. Churches throughout the dioceses in the province of Ontario are still locked as cases continue to hover around in this third-wave. While I honestly do speak much about this insane reality, it is reality, and we must face it. This narrative of “reality” is probably by now too familiar to us.

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Academic Year Gone Too Fast – Thoughts on a UofT Online School Year

My second year of undergraduate studies wrapped up last Friday with my last final assessment (a.k.a. exams). It was not a year any undergraduate University of Toronto (UofT) student, either first-year or fourth-year would have expected, with a full year of online learning. As a second-year undergrad student, I gratefully have had some experience on campus prior to the pandemic in March 2020 and had my share of campus life. I look back at this year with mixed emotions… not only because of the downs of online class, but also to the ups of the online university experience. Today I want to share five things I learned, a mix of pros and cons of this past online school year – a school year to remember.

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment