Friday 9 February 2007

Friday Morning Prayer For 2 February 2007: Candlemas

Tongue warmer: How many days ago was Christmas?
Good morning! That was a very interesting question. How many days ago was Christmas? It was exactly forty 40 days ago. In the church calendar, we name this day: Candlemas. Christmas is the Mass of Christ. Candlemas is naturally the Mass of Candles. Why? Today, if you go to church, there is a special ceremony with candles. (We have one candle here.) In northern Europe, young women and girls would even wear crowns of candles. Kind of difficult to balance I imagine.
Anyway, the origin of the feast is like this: According to the Bible, 40 days after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem. Imagine this: Jesus being the true light brightened up the dark Temple. So to remember that Jesus is the true light, we celebrate Candlemas with lots of candles. Some of you may not know the story so please listen to Fr Roberto / Mr Mckenzie. You can follow the story on page _ of your hymnal. Please pay attention to the words in BOLD letters.
Listen to the Word of God. A Reading from the Gospel according to St Luke.
The time came for Joseph and Mary to perform the ceremony of purification, as the Law of Moses commanded. So they took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. They also went to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the law.
At that time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, God-fearing man and was waiting for Israel to be saved. The Holy Spirit was with him and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's promised Messiah.
When the parents brought the child Jesus into the Temple to do for him what the Law required, Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God:
"Now, Lord, you have kept your promise, and you may let your servant go in peace. With my own eyes I have seen your salvation.”
The child's father and mother were amazed at the things Simeon said about him.
Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, "This child will be a sign from God which many people will speak against. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart."
The Gospel of the Lord.
All: Praise to You Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you. This story is the basis why we have the feast Candlemas today. Now, a little poem here. This poem is written by Eve Forti, and it is called The Offering. You are going to see that this poem is retelling the Candlemas story in a poetic way. Instead of telling a story, the poet tries to talk to one of the person in the story: Simeon, the old man who took Jesus in his arms. Please listen to it – and please take a special note to the underlined words.
Poem: The Offering by Eve Forti
Old Man, you've sown the years longing for the harvest, hoping for the green shoot to appear.
Fragrant with perfection, He is here: wanting to be purified, waiting to be crucified.
And His mother, offering her Lamb, gives Him to your open arms
so you can finally die in peace knowing that the Promised One is born.
In gratitude you will whisper that her heart will break.
I don’t think I need to explain each and every single word to you and you can still understand a lot about both the poem and the original Bible story. Now, I would like you to take some time to match the poem with the story. I think it is not difficult if you try to match the keywords together.
Let us take 20 seconds to do this. [PAUSE] Let’s check the answer now:
Paragraph 1 in the Bible story matches with Paragraph B of the poem. The keyword is purification. Purification comes from the word PURE, very clean. To make something pure is to purify. E.g. You cannot drink water from the river unless it is purified. That means purification would make the water safe to drink.
Paragraph 2 in the Bible story matches with paragraph A of the poem. The keyword is waiting – and in the poem, the poet uses the phrase “longing for”. To long for something means to wait for something. E.g. Almost all students long for summer holidays.
Paragraph 3 in the Bible story matches with paragraph C of the poem. The key phrase is “in his arms”. Compare these two sentences: (Bible) Simeon took the child in his arms. (Poem) Mary gives him to your open arms. Well, I think Mary gave Jesus to Simeon’s open arms so Simeon took him in his arms. To take something in your arms means to carry something with your arms. Naturally you have to open your arms first.
Paragraph 4 in the Bible story matches with paragraph D of the poem. The key phrase is “in peace”. In the Bible, Simeon said he could now go in peace and that means exactly dying in peace. The author in the Bible story uses the word “go” instead of “die.” Some people do not like to hear the words “to die’ or “death”. Can you think of one word that means “in peace”? Yes, peacefully. E.g. My grandfather died peacefully. He died in peace.
Finally, paragraph 5 in the Bible story matches with paragraph E of the poem. Besides the phrase about how a sword would break the heart of Mary – that is obvious. In paragraph 5 of the Bible story, Simeon said to Mary. In the poem, the poet said: you will whisper. WHISPER means to speak softly. E.g. In the library, you are not supposed to talk at all. If you really have to talk, please whisper; otherwise, the library will become noisy.
To end our prayer – let’s say a prayer. I will say the beginning and you have to join in at the end.
Let us pray: O Heavenly Father, today we celebrate Candlemas and we thank you for giving us Your Only Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ who is the true light. We long for His love we long for a world full of life and joy. Please teach us to live in peace with each other, especially those we find difficult. Please teach us to open our arms to welcome everyone. We end now our prayer with the prayer that Your Son has taught us: Our Father…

Friday Morning Prayer for 9 February 2007: St Valentine / The Love of Jesus

The theme for today’s Morning Prayer is about love. Well, the love of Jesus, to be precise. But it is the love of Jesus that forms the basis of all human loves. As you can see from the title at the top of the page, we want to talk about love today because next Tuesday is Valentine’s Day – or the Feast of St Valentine. There is a saint by that name and there are various stories about how St Valentine has become associated with boyfriends and girlfriends and falling in love. You may find out more about that on First Class, if you log on to the Student Learning Area, there is a new forum known as Friday Morning Prayer.
Today, I would like to introduce a poem to you. Please follow the reading as printed in your hymnal to be read by Mr Mckenzie
I See His Blood Upon the Rose by Joseph Mary Plunkett
I see his blood upon the rose // And in the stars the glory of His eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows, // His tears fall from the skies.
I see his face in every flower; // The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but His voice – and carven by His power // Rocks are His written words.
All pathways by His feet are worn, // His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn, // His cross is every tree.
Not too many difficult words here.
3rd line: Amid – has the same meaning as “among.” It must be lovely to live in the countryside: having your home amid trees and farm must be better than amid high-rises and skyscrapers.
3rd line: Gleam: When eyes gleam, they shine in a way that expresses a particular emotion. The line “His body gleams amid eternal snows” means “His body shines among the snow.
7th line: Carven = carved: made by cutting: E.g., He carved her name on a tree. Her name is carven with love on a tree. Another example: For Halloween, people put a candle in carven pumpkins.
10th line: Stir = to mix a liquid by moving something like a spoon in a circular pattern: You can stir some sugar into the coffee to make it sweet. Another example: My heart stirs when I see how the national flag is flown everywhere on October 1.
10th line: Beat = to make a regular movement or sound: e.g. My heart beats faster than normal when I am excited. I need to take a rest now because my heart is beating very fast. So: Ever-beating sea = the sea with waves making a regular sound
11th line: Twine = to wrap round an object several times E.g. The vine twines around the branch. You can see that in the picture provided. Don’t confuse this word with the word TWIN vs TWINE.
So you understand the words, do you understand the poem? Let’s examine the first sentence again: I see his blood upon the rose And in the stars the glory of his eyes... Why would the poet see blood on a rose? I can think of two possibilities: One: Someone was hurt by a rose; perhaps a thorn has pricked his finger and his blood stays on the rose. Two: The poet is talking about someone whom he loves very much. This person has died and seeing a rose would remind the poet of this person. Yes, that would be the reason. Can you guess who this person is? If you remember at the beginning of the talk, I have told you today’s morning prayer is about the love of Jesus. So, the poet is saying: When he sees a rose, he would see the blood of Jesus. That’s why all the “his” in the poem should have been “His”. Can you please change that if you have a pencil handy? The poet would make that connection because, I guess, Jesus’ blood is red, and each drop of blood is similar to a rose petal. And, most importantly, the love of Jesus is as beautiful as a rose.
We can use this same idea to understand the rest of the poem: The stars in the sky would remind Plunkett, the poet, of the eyes of Jesus. The gleaming snows would remind Joseph Mary, our poet, how the body of Jesus shines. When the poet says: “His body gleams amid eternal snows” is really saying “When I see how the snow in winter gleams, it is like seeing the body of Jesus gleams”. And so on with rain, thunder and birds’ singing.
The climax is the last line: His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn, // His cross is every tree. You may remember that before Jesus died, someone gave him a crown made of thorns to wear. Imagine that would be very painful; but because of his love for us, Jesus endured the crown. So thorns become a symbol of Jesus’ love and that’s the reason the poet would see how the crown of thorns of Jesus would twin / mix with thorn on a plant.
Indeed, when you love someone, you would always think about him / her. And because you carry his or her memory with you so much, it is very natural for you to be reminded of this person by just about anything. So, from this poem, we know Joseph Mary Plunkett loves Jesus very much. But the truth is that Jesus loves us first. He carries us in His Sacred Heart. All our love for Jesus is only a return of His love. In the Bible, St John write: “We love because he first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19).
My dear friends, when you love someone deeply deeply, you would naturally see his / her presence everywhere. Can you see Jesus? Hopefully, today, you would see, you would hear or even you would touch Jesus – perhaps in every rose, in every tree and in each smiling face that you meet.
Let’s listen to the poem one more time and then we would pray together. [POEM] Please look up at the screen and say the prayer together. I would invite the prefects to step forward and look at the screen.
O Lord Jesus, we thank you for Your love for us. Please make us see your blood upon the rose and in the stars the glory of Your eyes. O Lord Jesus, open our eyes so we could see Your body gleams amid eternal snows and Your tears fall from the skies. O Lord Jesus, please make us see your face in every flower. O Lord Jesus, please open our eyes so we could see Your crown of thorns twined with every thorn, and that Your cross is every tree. We ask you to bless this day as we begin a new day of learning. You live forever and You are King eternally. Amen.

Friday Morning Prayer for 19 January 2007: St Anthony

Good Morning! If you come from 1A, 2A or any of the A classes, I am sure you know who the patron saint of your class is. Yes, it is St Anthony. Mr Tang has been sharing with you about St Anthony for the past few days. Why we talk so much about him this week? In 1946, 60 years ago, on 16 January, the Catholic Church made St Anthony into a “Doctor of the Church.” St Anthony is a doctor of the Church, that means he understood religious knowledge very well and his teaching is very valuable even for today.
As you can see on page 15 of your hymnal, St Anthony has once given a sermon and he talks about Jesus like this:
“The humanity of Christ is like the grape because it was crushed in the winepress of the Cross so that his blood flowed over the whole earth…. How great is his love!”
St Anthony talks about the humanity of Christ. HUMANITY is the human quality. We all know Jesus is God but he is human at the same time. God loves us so much that Jesus has become human to live among us. The interesting thing is that St Anthony says that Christ’s humanity is like the fruit, grapes. When you think of grapes, you may think of wine that is made from grapes. Now why would St Anthony use grapes as a way to describe Christ’s humanity? Being God, Christ would not have body or blood, unless he first becomes human. You see Christ died on the cross for us. When he died, his blood flowed from his body. Blood is a red liquid, very much like grape juice or red wine, which is made from grapes.
To make wine from grapes, one has to step on grapes to get the juice. We put grapes in the winepress first. You can see a little picture of a winepress on page 15 of your hymnal. That’s why St Anthony talks about the cross as a winepress. Grapes are crushed, squeezed in the winepress to make juice that makes wine; similarly it was on the cross that so his blood flowed.
Let’s learn a new song: The hymn we are going to sing today is Glory be to Jesus. There are several words, which I would like to go over with you:
Bitter: We say something is bitter when it has an unpleasantly sharp taste. We describe an experience to be bitter when it causes deep pain or anger. For example: Susan puts sugar into her coffee. Without sugar, black coffee is too bitter for her. // Calvin’s mother died recently and it was a bitter experience for him.
Pour: We pour a liquid when we make a liquid flow from or into a container. For example, Susan puts some sugar into her coffee first, then she pours milk as well. // We say: “Oh, it is pouring rain” when it rains so hard that it feels like water is being poured from the sky.
Sacred. We say something is sacred when we want to say it is holy. You may remember the phrase: The Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Vein. A vein is a tube in the body that carries blood. For example, Last week, Veronica went to Red Cross to donate blood and the nurse put a needle in her vein to draw the blood out.
Let’s look at the first verse of the hymn Glory be to Jesus. Please repeat after Mr McKenzie.
1. Glory be to Jesus, who in bitter pains / Poured for me the life-blood from His sacred veins!
Can you write down the word that rhymes with pains? (Veins)
Let’s turn to page 7 and learn this new song. Please now turn back to page 15 and say the prayer together.
(Everybody together) In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
O Lord Jesus, in bitter pains You have poured out your Most Holy Blood to save all humanity. Your blood flowed over the whole earth as a result of your holy love for us.
All: We thank you for your love that brings us new life.
Please help us to remain united with Your love.
All: We thank you for your love that brings us new life.
We ask you to help those who have to face bitter pains since you have gone through bitter pains on the cross.
All: We thank you for your love that brings us new life.
Please help them to experience the sweetness of your love.
All: We thank you for your love that brings us new life.
We ask this for You are God and King for ever and ever.
All: Amen.
St Joseph
All: Pray for us.
St Francis
All: Pray for us.
Thank you. In the Student Learning Zone on your First Class, you will see a transcript – that is the text – of all the morning prayers in English. There are some extra activities for you to do. If you do those activities, I promise you a little souvenir.

Friday Morning Prayer for 26 January 2007: The Most Precious Blood of Jesus

Tongue warmer: Introducing Fr Roberto to everyone and guessing how tall Fr Roberto is and where he is from.
Good morning everyone! I am very pleased to introduce one of our Franciscan brothers to you. He is Fr Roberto and you may have guessed it correctly about his nationality. Fr Roberto is Italian, and the name Roberto is the Italian form of Robert. Just like Maria is another form of Mary. Fr Roberto will be with us from time to time, mostly on Fridays, our English Speaking Days and you can talk to him in English just about anything. So, on behalf of everyone here at St Joseph’s, a very a warm welcome to you, Fr Roberto.
You were guessing how tall he is. Let him tell you the answer.


Thank you. That's pretty impressive.

Let’s start today’s morning prayer with a song that we sang last time. Please turn to page 7 of your hymnal. Let’s sing verse 1 altogether. [SING] Let’s learn the second verse. Please repeat after me. Please sing after me. [HYMN] Let’s turn back to page 19.
Please write down the word in verse two that rhymes with find. Five seconds. Yes, it’s kind. Look up and see on the screen are words that also rhyme with find: blind, hind, mind, rind. But how about this word? WIND. Does it rhyme with FIND? Well, it can rhyme! Because there are two ways to pronounce the word WIND. It is wind, which does not rhyme with the word FIND meaning the moving air, as a noun, but as a verb, it is wind, rhyming with the words such FIND and BLIND.. E.g. The river winds through the valley means There are many curves and bends in the river that runs through the valley.
Now back to our hymn. Please take a look at the line: Grace and life eternal in that blood I find. In poetry we sometimes mix the word order, we do not follow the normal word order so we can make words rhyme at the end. The meaning of the verse Grace and life eternal in that blood I find means I find grace and eternal life in that blood. That blood of course refers to the blood of Jesus. If you still remember, that’s what we talked about last Friday. In the Bible, there is a story about how Jesus’ blood came out from his body. Let’s have Mr Mckenzie read it for us.
Listen to the Word of God. A Reading from the Gospel according to St John.
One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to You Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear…Can you tell what does the word his refer to? Yes, it refers to the side of Jesus, as you can tell from the pictures. The soldier and his spear [SPEAR] can be seen in the picture at the bottom. The picture above has an angel using a cup to collect the blood that came out from Jesus. Why would Jesus die on the cross? Because he loves us no matter how much people do not love him. People do not like him, even to the point of putting him to death. That’s why we say his compassion is infinitely kind. Having compassion is being kind. But now, the author of this song said it is not just kind compassion but infinitely kind compassion.
Can you try to match the new words for today with the words and phrases on the right hand side?
I will give you 15 seconds. Here are the answers:
Eternal = Lasting forever: E.g. Jesus gives us eternal life, a life that is everlasting.
Blest = Blessed: My grandfather said that he has been very blessed all his life: although he is not very rich, he always enjoys good health and a happy family.
Compassion = A strong feeling of sadness for the bad luck of others: My compassion goes to Jane because her mother dies recently.
Infinitely = Very much: African countries owe a lot of money, almost an infinite amount. There is no end. Faced with such an infinitely large amount of debt, African countries are very poor.
Pierce = To make a hole: Joseph went to Red Cross to donate blood and the nurse used a needle to pierce through his skin in order to draw blood from his vein.
Mercy = Kindness: Although Peter failed in his exam, his teacher was merciful to him and gave him another chance to retake the exam.
Finally, let’s say the prayer at the bottom of page 19 together. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Lord Jesus, when the soldier pierced Your side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. In Your Most Holy blood, we find grace and eternal life.
For Your infinitely kind compassion, we give You thanks. Please help us to be thankful always for Your love and teach us to be as loving as You are to us.
We ask this for You are God and King for ever and ever. Amen.
St Joseph, Pray for us. St Francis, Pray for us.

Friday Morning Prayer for 15 December 2006: 10 more days till Christmas

Good Morning! Welcome to another Friday Morning Prayer and today is the last Friday Morning Prayer of December. You may remember that we are now in the time of Advent (the four weeks before Christmas), and actually there are only 10 more days left till Christmas. First, I would like all of you to listen to a passage from the Bible. You can look at page _ of the hymnbook.
Listen to the Word of God. A Reading from the Gospel according to St Matthew: Watch out, then, because you do not know what day your Lord will come. If the owner of a house knew the time when the thief would come, you can be sure that he would stay awake and not let the thief break into his house. So then, you also must always be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him. The Gospel of the Lord. [All: ]Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you know who the Son of Man is? Jesus is the Son of God but he calls himself the Son of Man as a sign of being humble. There is a 19th Century saint in France by the name of St Therese and she has made a statement like this. It is printed on page _ of the hymnbook.
"It's said in the Gospel that God will come like a Thief. He will come to steal me away very gently. Oh, how I'd love to aid the Thief!... I'm not afraid of the Thief. I see him in the distance, and I take good care not to call out: 'Help! Thief!' On the contrary, I call to him, saying: 'Over here, over here!"'
Do you recognize this picture of St Therese? You may have seen it in the lobby just outside the entrance to the school hall, above the computers at the Ground Floor IT Gallery. In the Bible, Jesus asks us to be ready just like someone to take caution, to take care, not to let the thief break into the house. Advent is the time to prepare for Christmas. It is not just a time make preparations for Christmas parties but it is also a time to be ready for Jesus’ coming. Jesus came to humankind at the first Christmas 2000 years ago; Christmas is coming again in 10 days time; and one day, Jesus will come back to us.
Jesus says we have to be ready as if a thief would come at an unexpected time. We know Jesus is not a thief. But Jesus will come at a time that we do not know, very much like a thief. We call this kind of writing a metaphor. A metaphor is a word or a phrase, which describes something by referring to something else that has similar characteristics. For example: 'The city is a jungle' is a metaphor. We know the city is NOT a jungle, not a forest, without animals, but the city is like a jungle because the jungle is full of excitement just like the city is. So to say 'The city is a jungle' is a metaphor.
St Therese says: Jesus will come to steal me away. She is playing with the metaphor of the thief. Jesus says we have to make ourselves ready because we do not know when the thief would come. The original metaphor is using the idea that both Jesus and the thief would come at an unexpected time. But St Therese says Jesus is a thief because Jesus will come to steal me away. So the metaphor is using the idea that Jesus and the thief would come to steal things. The thief would steal valuables from our house just like Jesus would steal us because we are valuable in his eyes too.
So how shall we get ready? If we know a thief is coming, we would not sleep and stay awake. The words associated with waiting are being alert and watchful. [alert] [watchful] Being alert and watchful is being quick to see, understand and act. For example: I'm not feeling very alert today - not enough sleep last night! I didn’t see the teacher coming into the classroom. If a driver is not watchful, traffic accidents may happen. So by being alert and watchful would be a way to prepare for Christ’s coming. One way to be alert and watchful is to know what our goals in life are. Another way to be alert and watchful is to pray always.
Let’s pray now by using the prayer at the bottom of page _ of the hymnbook. Please say the parts in bold letters.
It is time for us to wake from our sleep: the day of our salvation is near.
All: Lord, may your kingdom come!
Prepare us for the coming of your Word by opening our hearts to receive him. R.
Throw down the walls of hatred between nations, clear the way for those who work for peace. R.
Lord, keep us ever alert and watchful as we await the coming of your Son, so that, faithful to his teaching, we may go to meet our Saviour. We make our prayer through our Lord. Amen.
To end our prayer, let’s sing O Come, Divine Messiah. Just to go over some words which you may know already: Divine (holy), triumph (victory), flee away (go away). And I would also ask you to pay attention to the rhyming of the words: waits the day and flee away.

Friday Morning Prayer for 8 December 2006: Christmas is coming… 17 more days!

Warm-up: What would you be doing at Christmas? And how are you preparing for it?
Good Morning! Yes, 17 more days till Christmas! Aren’t you excited? I am. Welcome to another Friday Morning Prayer with me, Brother William. I feel like I must introduce myself again because I have noticed many students do not know who I am. So one more, I am Br. William. The short form for Brother is Br. So instead of writing Brother William, you can just write Br. William. The poet for today is by the name of Sr. Maryanna. The short form for Sister is Sr. The poem is known as Advent Prayer, an appropriate topic for today. If you remember from last week, we call the four weeks period before Christmas Advent. Please listen to Mr Mckenzie. Please pay attention to the meaning of the poem. Please try to think of to whom this poem is addressed. The poet, Sr. Maryanna is speaking to someone. Who is that person? [POEM.]
This poem is addressed to Our Lady, Mary, Mother of Jesus. The word thee in line 2, meaning you, refers to Mary and Him refers to Jesus. We know it has to be Jesus because this poem is about preparing for Christmas. The birth of Jesus is the focus of Christmas and the letter H in Him is capitalized because Jesus is God.
Although this poem is addressed to Mary, this poem is about Jesus and us. It is about making a room in our hearts of Jesus, as said in the fourth line. The word shrine means a very special house, mostly religious. It can be a church but it can be a temple too. For example: In Thailand, there are many famous shrines of Buddha where Buddhists go to worship. Some Chinese families keep a shrine to honour their ancestors at home, usually a red shelf with candles.
The first line of this poem talks about the foolish folk of old, i.e. the people in the past. If you remember the story of the birth of Jesus, this line refers to fact that when Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, they couldn’t find any room to stay. My dear teachers and students, do we all have a room in our hearts for Jesus? I hope we have the same desire to hold baby Jesus in our hearts.
Now, some interesting things about the English of this poem: Do you still remember what rhymes are? Rhymes are words that have similar sound.
The first language arts feature, which you should learn, is rhymes. The last word of each line rhymes with each other. The word be of the first line and the word thee of the second line rhyme with each other. Similarly, the word heart of the third line rhymes with the word apart of the fourth line. Can you all tell me which word in the fifth line rhymes with the word prayer in the sixth line? Yes, it’s care. Good! That means the proper pronunciation of the word prayer is not pray-er, like play-er but simply pr-air. Like air, stair, care, prayer. Let’s say these words altogether: air, stair, care, prayer. In the last stanza – that is the last paragraph of a poem – we have the rhyming words: start and heart. So the rhyming pattern of the poem is aa-bb-cc-bb: where aa means the words: be and thee; bb means the words heart, apart and start; and, cc means care and prayer.
The second language arts feature is the choice of words. You can see the modern equivalents at the right hand column.
Like foolish folk of old I would not be,
Who had no room that night for Him and thee.

See, Mother Mary, here within my heart
I've made a little shrine for Him apart;

Swept it of sin, and cleansed it with all care;
Warmed it with love and scented it with prayer.

So, Mother, when the Christmas anthems start,
Please let me hold your baby – in my heart.
I would not be like foolish folk in the past who had no room that night for Him and you.

See, Mother Mary, I have made a little church for Him here in my heart.

I have swept it of sin, cleaned it with all care, warmed it with love and made it smell good with prayer.

So, Mother, when the Christmas songs begin, please let me hold your baby in my heart.

From the hymn: O Come, Divine Messiah

Sweet Saviour haste (v.), come, come to earth; = Sweet Saviour come quickly, come to earth.

E.g. If you do your homework in haste (n.) (great speed), you will make mistakes.
In her haste to get up from the table, she knocked over a cup.His father had just died and he didn't want to marry with haste.

Let us pray.
Let your grace, Lord, light our journey in this life to the end.
Help us to prepare our heart for you.
Support us to sweep our heart clean, to cleanse our heart carefully,
to warm our heart with love and to make our heart smell good with prayers.
Please support us now and always as we wait, longing with all our hearts, for the coming of Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Friday Morning Prayer for 3 November 2006: Death, Be Not Proud!

Good morning! Last Tuesday, we celebrated Halloween. As you may know, Halloween has its roots in a Christian feast in the Church calendar. In the Catholic Church, November 2 is All Souls Day, a day when Christians remember and pray for the dead. Somehow, the ideas of dead people and ghosts got mixed up and now we have the silly idea of ghosts – real and unreal – going around, frightening people. Really, when people die, they do not become ghost – I repeat, dead people do not become ghosts. Today, Mr McKenzie would like to read you a famous poem on the theme of death. [POEM]
The first thing that you may have noticed just by listening is the rhyming pattern. Rhyming means having similar sounds: tree, me, three, key; cold, told, bold, sold; are examples of rhymes. If we look at the last words of the first four lines: thee, so, overthrow, me; you will see that the first and the fourth words rhyme with each other and the middle two rhyme. So, we call this pattern an ABBA pattern. In the left-hand column, the pattern is given to you.
Second, words like Thee, Thou, Soonest, Shalt are old English words. This poem is written in old English because the poet (someone who writes poems) lived in the 16th Century. You can see from the right hand column that in modern English, these strange words are words that you are familiar with. Let’s examine the first line: Death, be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so. In simple English: Death, do not be proud, although some have called you mighty and dreadful, for you are not so. Even if you don’t understand every single word, can you guess who the THEE / THOU (-meaning you) is in this poem?
Yes, it is death. The poet John Donne is speaking to death, as if death is a person who can make a conversation with him. In poetry, we call this personification, pretending a non-human object to be a human person. We know death is not a human person, death cannot be proud. But by asking death not to be proud, John Donne is pretending that death is a human person who could be proud. Here, John Donne is really talking about his own ideas of death. Can you guess where John Donne got this idea? I would now like you to listen to a passage from the Bible. The words mortal and immortal are important to understand the meaning of this passage: We describe something to be mortal when something has to die. Similarly, “immortal” describes things that can last for a long time or even forever. For example, We will all die one day because we are mortal beings. Lydia “Fatty” Shum is one of the immortals of Hong Kong television. When something that can last for a long time or even forever, we can also use the word eternal (the second last line at the bottom of the page). E.g. Mary is eternally cheerful. No matter what happens, she always looks at the bright side. Peter got an A in his exam because he eternally works hard. [Scriptures]
John Donne is speaking to death as St Paul did. St Paul also talks to death, asking death where its victory is and where its power to hurt is. Paul asked this question not that because he hopes to find the victory of death or the power to hurt. Paul knows very well that because of Jesus Christ, death does not win over us. So, we cannot find death’s victory or power to hurt. Because Christ has died for us and has risen for us, death is no longer something we need to be afraid of. That’s why we can be brave when facing death or dead people, or even ghosts. This is precisely the reason why on All Souls Day and during all of November, we remember the dead. Instead of being afraid of ghosts and dead people, we can even pray for them. So let us now pray altogether. Let’s say the prayer together printed on page 15.

Friday Morning Prayer for 24 November 2006: St Cecilia

English Tongue Warm-up: Who is your favourite singer? What types of songs do you like best?
Ms Ching: Good morning to you all. Why do we talk about music today? It is not just because I am a music teacher. Music is the theme for today’s morning prayer because this past Wednesday, 22 November, was the feast of St Cecilia. St Cecilia is the patron saint of music and all musicians. A musician is someone who plays a musical instrument. MUSICIAN. You may remember what a patron saint is. The patron saint of this school is St Joseph. Your patron saint prays to God for you! My name is Cecilia and St Cecilia prays for me. As the patron saint of musicians, St Cecilia prays to God for all the musicians.
Mr McKenzie: If you remember, on 3 November, I read you a poem by John Donne. Today, I am going to read you another poem, printed on page 25 of your hymn book. This poem, Hymn to St Cecilia, is written by W H Auden, a modern English writer. [POEM]
Ms Ching: Thank you. This poem originally has seven stanzas but we have only introduced three of them to you. STANZA – is a paragraph in a poem. You can see that above each line, the rhyming sounds are indicated. We can see that, for each stanza the last word of the second and the fourth lines rhyme. Like in stanza 1, the words psalm and calm rhyme with each other. Can you find out the word in stanza 2, that rhymes with prayer?
Mr McKenzie: That’s air. But actually, there are rhymes even within one line. For example, in the third line of stanza 1, swan and on rhyme with each other: like a black swan as death came on.
Ms Ching: You may also see from the picture printed, St Cecilia is shown to be playing an organ. She was born in the 3rd Century. That’s why in stanza 2, W H Auden talked about an organ – an organ is a musical instrument that can play very loud music, usually in a church.
Mr McKenzie: No one is sure if St Cecilia actually has constructed, has made, an organ. But we know for sure before St Cecilia was killed by the Roman soldiers, she sang a song. Singing and music makes praying even more powerful. That’s why Auden says: the organ enlarged her prayer. We know what large is. Enlarge means making something large. Two years ago, we enlarged the school by building the new wing that is in front of you now. So by saying the organ enlarged her prayer is a way of saying music makes praying powerful.
Ms Ching: St Cecilia was killed because she was a Christian. At that time, the government would not allow people to be Christians. We say that someone is a martyr when she dies for her religious faith or political beliefs. MARTYR. So we say St Cecilia was a martyr. You may also be familiar with the Seventy Two martyrs of the Yellow Flowers Hill -- Huang Hua Gang (黃花崗).
Mr McKenzie: Martyr can also be a verb, meaning kill. We can say St Cecilia was martyred. Seventy two men were martyred during the Guangzhou Uprising.
Ms Ching: The second stanza in the poem says: “the notes from the engine thundered out on the Roman air.” Here the engine means the organ, and organ music is usually very powerful and loud, so it is like thunder. Because St Cecilia was so brave to be martyred, her death became like organ music, so loud and powerful.
Mr McKenzie: Where do martyrs get their strength to be so brave? In the Bible, the Lord said: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you.”
Ms Ching: You may remember the word: eternal we learnt last time. God’s love for us is eternal – lasting forever, that is everlasting. Let’s say the verse of the week together. [REPEAT VERSE] Martyrs find their strength and can be brave enough to die for faith because they can experience the everlasting love of God.
Mr McKenzie: Lord Jesus Christ died for us – because he loves us with an everlasting love. We are going to say the prayer together. At the end of the prayer, we say that Christ lives and reigns forever and ever. To reign [REIGN] means to rule like a king. Christ lives and reigns forever because he is God.
Ms Ching: So let’s say the prayer on page 25 together now. [bell] In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. We praise you, Christ our Saviour…. Amen.
Mr McKenzie: St Joseph, [pray for us]; St Francis [pray for us]; In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Brother William Ng OFM

Friday Morning Prayer for 27 October 2006: St Bonaventure

Good Morning! Yes, that was a typing mistake: Instead of A reading from the Gospel according to St Luke, it's actually A reading from the Letter of St James. Let’s hear what St James would like to tell us. [READING]
You may see from the heading on page 46, the theme for today’s prayer is about St Bonaventure, the patron saint of all the B Classes. Why today? Seven centuries ago in 1267, on 23 October, on St Bonaventure finished his studies and received his Doctoral degree at Paris University. He became a Doctor. Here, I don’t mean he was a medical doctor but someone who has studied a lot, many years at university. A doctoral degree is a PhD. Some of you, when you finish secondary school, you may study at a university and after 4 years of university education, you will get a Bachelor’s degree. 2 or 3 more years of studying will give you a Master’s degree and five or six more years will give you a Doctoral degree.
Well, does studying a lot make a person smart and clever? Is being smart and clever the same as being wise? From the Bible reading of today, we hear that wisdom is pure, peaceful, gentle and friendly. Wisdom is the noun for the word “wise”. We call someone wise if he or she is full of wisdom. Being wise is more than being smart and clever. St James told us wisdom is “free from prejudice and hypocrisy”. These two are words describing really bad behaviour. How bad? If you are prejudiced, that means you show an unreasonable dislike for something or someone. For example: Although Norman, who has an Indian background, could speak fluent Cantonese, he has a hard time finding a job in Hong Kong because many people are prejudiced against South Asians. Hypocrisy describes someone who pretends to believe something that they do not really believe. For example: He's such a hypocrite: He always tells other people about the importance of honesty but he himself lies about his income to get welfare benefit from the government.
True wisdom is not just doing good deeds – i.e. doing good things. Bonaventure is well remembered not just because he was a scholar. He loved studying but he loved God even more. Let’s listen to his prayer to Jesus that he has written. [READING] From this prayer, we see how he really loved Jesus. Just take a look at the words in bold. Bonaventure used words dealing with food to talk about God. From the second paragraph, His soul may hunger after Jesus who IS the bread of angels, the refreshment of souls. Jesus is sweet and full of taste. The underlined “you” in the third paragraph refers to Jesus. Besides being bread, Jesus is like water. We know this from words like fountain and thirst.
Before we say the prayer together, I would just introduce some difficult words which you may find difficult. Please repeat after me: from the first paragraph: pierce (to make a hole), serene (peaceful), from the second paragraph: savour (taste), from the third paragraph: attain (achieve), meditate (think deeply), tranquillity (peace), fragrance (good smell). Now, let us all say the prayer together slowly. Everybody, OK? [PRAY TOGETHER]
To close our prayer, let’s sing Play Before the Lord on p. 8 of your hymnal.