Sunday 14 June 2009

Feast of Corpus Christi

Normally on a Sunday I would "say a dry-mass" at this priest-less mission in Sqi, a tiny cluster of dwellings of the Atayal people. But today being the Feast of Corpus Christi, it is the patron feast for the mission in Fuxing, and the parishioner from Sqi would go. So I was going to have a Sunday off. But our Provincial Minister is in Assisi for the General Chapter at this very moment, and he was supposed to show up at graduation of one of our high school too. Since he is no St Anthony so bilocation is out of the question. The Vicar Provincial asked if I would be interested. I was not interested at all. But at the end I changed my mind and decided to go because no one else could show up on his behalf. As part of the communiyt that runs Franciscan schools, I think I should share some of the responsibilities.
The graduation ceremony was very - homely? More like a Christmas Talent Gala with awards and prize giving in between, rather than graduation ceremony with entertainment in between.
Out of pure naivety, I actually prepared an A4 full page speech. I was told to be expected to say something. I remember when I was a teacher at SJSS, how graduation ceremony was done so I prepared my speech - till midnight.
I left the friary to go to the venue (not at the school) early in the morning. After getting off from the Highway, it has taken me 20 minutes to drive around the block to find the venue. I thought I would arrive in good time to be prepared. Well, at the end, as the representative of the Chairman of the School Management Board, I gave some prizes. I gave a very short version of my talk -since there was no podium and really by that time, I realized it was not appropriate for me to be preachy. The Vicar General of the Archdiocese came - on behalf of the Archbishop. He gave a little sharing and that was enough preaching for the day.
My reflection: why on earth would a Catholic School schedule graduation on Sunday morning?
I had to go to mass last night so I could go to this Speech Day this morning. I wonder if the Catholic principal or the teachers would do the same.
Some of the guests wore suit and tie. But not the teachers. The teacher who led singing the national anthem was wearing a polo and black slacks. Yes, smart casual but inappropriate according to my books.
When I was asked if I might leave early, I said surely. But it took me another 10 minutes to find my way back to the interchange.
On coming back, I had to take Raphael to the HSR station. I was tired and hungry and after more driving, I quickly devoured the dumplings for lunch and took a nap. At 3, I took Lorenzo and Francis Mary to a retreat house where they would be doing a week long guided retreat.
I dropped in to see our friars in Taishan - got my habit mended by an aspirant who was gifted in using the sewing machine.
After vespers, at dinner, I was introduced to Debbie Wang, an American who has this great heart wanting to do evangelization work for the Chinese in the Diaspora. Wow - a lay woman missionary! She even wanted to start a school to train other missionaries to do the same thing!
So after supper, I had a long talk with her and was just amazed by her zeal. God surely has a way to save His people. Debbie could speak wonderful Mandarin and her ministry is called Queen of China Ministries.
When I came back, there were so many cars that I couldn't get back to the exit lane and I missed my exit. So an extra 10 minutes on the highway. No wonder I am tired today....

Tuesday 5 May 2009

A song in Indonesian (Bahasa)

I am sure you all know this song...

Reff :Semua bunga ikut bernyanyi
Gembira hatiku
Segala rumput pun riang tia
Tuhan sumber gembiraku

Semua jalan di dunia menuntunmu ke surga
Desiran angin nan mesra mengayunmu ke surga—Reff
Semua lorong di bumi haruslah kau jalani
Bersama dengan sesama menuju pada Bapa—Reff
Semua pematang swah menanti telapakmu
Derita ria bersama meringankan langkahmu—Reff
Semua roda hidupmu mendambakan imanmu
Di perjamuan abadi Bapa sudah menanti—Reff

That's "All Flowers will Sing" - almost all Catholics in Hong Kong know this song in Chinese.

I believe originally it is in Spanish.

This Indonesian version comes from our Indonesian friars whom I met in India during our recent seminar. Funny how translated songs (not matter how well / badly translated) can be a means for trans-language communion. The other related experience was when I met an Italian friar who sang Do-Re-Mi (from Sound of Music) in Italian. Since then I have come across this song in Japanese and Mandarin too!

Do-Re-Mi in Mandarin-Chinese (sung to me by a Taiwanese friar)


A Japanese sister told me that THEY had a Japanese version too.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Stone, paper, scissors - no one wins....

came across this at The Writer's Almanac of 22 April 2009
Wayman is a Canadian poet. The poem is on justice using a favourite childhood game as inspiration.

Paper, Scissors, Stone

by Tom Wayman

An executive's salary for working with paper
beats the wage in a metal shop operating shears
which beats what a gardener earns arranging stone.

But the pay for a surgeon's use of scissors
is larger than that of a heavy equipment driver removing stone
which in turn beats a secretary's cheque for handling paper.

And, a geologist's hours with stone
nets more than a teacher's with paper
and definitely beats someone's time in a garment factory with scissors.

In addition: to manufacture paper
you need stone to extract metal to fabricate scissors
to cut the product to size.
To make scissors you must have paper to write out the specs
and a whetstone to sharpen the new edges.
Creating gravel, you require the scissor-blades of the crusher
and lots of order forms and invoices at the office.

Thus I believe there is a connection
between things
and not at all like the hierarchy of winners
of a child's game.
When a man starts insisting
he should be paid more than me
because he's more important to the task at hand,
I keep seeing how the whole process collapses
if almost any one of us is missing.
When a woman claims she deserves more money
because she went to school longer,
I remember the taxes I paid to support her education.
Should she benefit twice?
Then there's the guy who demands extra
because he has so much seniority
and understands his work so well
he has ceased to care, does as little as possible,
or refuses to master the latest techniques
the new-hires are required to know.
Even if he's helpful and somehow still curious
after his many years—

Without a machine to precisely measure
how much sweat we each provide
or a contraption hooked up to electrodes in the brain
to record the amount we think,
my getting less than him
and more than her
makes no sense to me.
Surely whatever we do at the job
for our eight hours—as long as it contributes—
has to be worth the same.

And if anyone mentions
this is a nice idea but isn't possible,
consider what we have now:
everybody dissatisfied, continually grumbling and disputing.
No, I'm afraid it's the wage system that doesn't function
except it goes on
and will
until we set to work to stop it

with paper, with scissors, and with stone.

"Paper, Scissors, Stone" by Tom Wayman from The Face of Jack Munro.

Sunday 22 March 2009

Poem by Billy Collins

came across this from The Writers' Almanac for today. What a delightful poem that helps me to appreciate the arts. I will use it in the future....

Introduction to Poetry

by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Friday 20 March 2009

Engineering Conversions (bad jokes...)

- 2000 pounds of Chinese soup: Won ton

- Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement: 1 bananosecond

- Weight an evangelist carries with God: 1 billigram

- Half of a large intestine: 1 semicolon

- 1000 aches: 1 megahurtz

- 453.6 graham crackers: 1 pound cake

- 1 million-million microphones: 1 megaphone

- 1 million bicycles: 2 megacycles

- 365.25 days: 1 unicycle

- 2000 mockingbirds: 2 kilomockingbirds

- 10 cards: 1 decacards

- 1 millionth of a fish: 1 microfiche

- 10 rations: 1 decoration

- 2 monograms: 1 diagram

- 8 nickels: 2 paradigms

- 2.4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital: 1 I.V. League

- 100 Members of Parliament / Senators: Not 1 decision

Monday 9 February 2009

Missionary one day...

It's almost 10 years since this was written. It's taken from our OFM worldwide newsletter, FRATERNITAS No. 45 - 07.1999. I still remember how I was astounded by the call. Since then, I have been thinking about missions. And I am still. Perhaps I should start seeing myself in Taiwan as a missionary?

"No one can stop the work of the Spirit"

Br. Giacomo Bini, speaking to the Provincial Ministers of Europe

In our franciscan vocation the Lord uses the most diverse circumstances and events to call us to Himself. Our journey takes place in a particular house, in a particular Province.

But the Lord has called us for the sake of his Kingdom, not for the sake of our Province.

Thus it was for the disciples in the days after Pentecost. Thus it was for Francis when he understood the nature of his vocation, after hearing the Word of God. Thus, too, for the first friars, still few in number; their "option for the lepers" took on a universal dimension of evangelization. They would go out to all the lepers of the world, not waiting until the lepers of Assisi were attended to first, the lepers of "one's own Province." We are not called to tend our own "closed garden" first, and only then to care for what is "outside!"

A local or provincial fraternity that is weighed down with too many things to do "at home," with too many personal projects - however good in themselves - loses out on its own vocation, which is to participate in the mission of Jesus: "Receive the Holy Spirit ... go out into the whole world!"

Many of our vocations are born from missionary experiences and missionary aspirations. Today, too, many young people carry in their hearts this desire/expectation which is failing to find expression. There are many friars, too, willing to take up again the itinerant path of evangelization.

The Order has initiated international missionary projects which are dying through lack of friars. In some areas of the world, of course, for various reasons, the Order's presence is declining. But does this allow us to betray our missionary evangelization? Are not the poor, perhaps, the most generous? Can a Minister Provincial, in the name of the needs of his Province, justifiably block a missionary call? Our Rule is clear: no one can impede the work of the Spirit!