Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jonthan's Confirmation as a Catholic

Two Sundays ago, 18 January 2009 marked my son’s Confirmation as a Catholic, the fourth sacrament in the life of a Catholic. My son, who is sixteen and now in Form Five, had already gone through the Sacraments of Baptism, Holy Communion or Eucharist and Reconciliation. He has prepared for Confirmation for the last four years. In preparation for last Sunday’s ritual, he attended a one and half day camp and we, parents also had to attend a session with the facilitator over the weekend. It was an enlightening session and I must say that Martin Jalleh is a fantastic speaker and motivator. My youngest daughter, now in Form Three, is already looking forward to her Confirmation in two years time.

So what do we know of the sacraments of the Catholic Church. The Latin word sacramentum means "a sign of the sacred." The seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God's saving presence. That's what theologians mean when they say that sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God's grace. Here is the list: Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. For further info one can visit the website: http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Sacraments/default.asp on the Seven Catholic Sacraments.

For most of us adult Catholics, we would have gone through six of the sacraments before we die. Those who choose to give themselves to God and become priests and nuns would have the privilege of taking the full seven sacraments. We all want to lead good Christian lives. It’s a competitive world out there, the whole world is now a global village.
Here are some tips on how to be a good Christian taken from :
http://www.wikihow.com/Live-A -Good-Christian-Life

1. Follow Jesus' greatest commandment: Love God completely and everybody even if they treat you wrongly whether you know them or not. Jesus said "You have heard love your neighbor and hate your enemies, but I say love [be kind to] your enemies also..." (Matthew 5:43)

2. Acknowledge you're a sinner and then repent. Realize that conversion is not simply one act but the beginning of a life-long commitment. Don't be hard on yourself if and when you fail, pick yourself up, trust in God and go forward.

3. Read your Bible. You can really learn a lot from this. "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable [for something] for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;"(2 Timothy 3:16) If you open to a part that is not meaningful to you consider skipping a chapter or two and try again or close your Bible and open it again.

4. Set aside time for effective and meaningful prayer. Make intercession for people who do not pray enough for their own development, i.e.: children, cousins, friends, enemies and family, etc.
5. Try to see the perspectives (point of view) of others, even if you personally disagree with them. Of course, an answered prayer for peace for your enemies and that they would become blessed as children of God would help both you and them.

5. Be patient with people who anger you; work on trying to forgive those who may have hurt you. You must learn to love your enemies. God loves everyone, and we need to, also. Say farewell to selective loving. If you have a hard time loving your enemies, pray to God for help.

6. Work and pray for others to the best of your abilities to help others in many ways.

7. Treat others kindly as you would like to be treated. Even simple acts of kindness like holding a door open for someone are good deeds that can help you feel less paranoid--because then you feel that others should think well of you and of your testimony in Christ.

8. Volunteer to help people. For example, you could take a shift at a soup kitchen near you, help with a Christmas effort to give gifts to the poor on Christmas, or visit a people staying in a nursing home.

9. Remain conservative in your ethics, moderate and modest being sure to remember that pride can be dangerous. Pride may imply that you are judging others falsely, and is said to be the mother of all sins, because pride resides in each one of us. The source of all sin is oneself and not considering others (greed, lust, hate, murder, theft, etc.).
10. Share your beliefs so that you spread the good news. Remember, living the Christian life through your actions will make others want to follow God. Always stick up for your beliefs such as being conservative in good morals and liberal in giving your own goods--not being a Robin Hood or "welfare-pimp" or "welfare-monger" (profiting off poverty) or welfare-cheat, but converting others to Christ by grace through faith, and then into good-works.

11. Understand what Christians believe God said that you will be persecuted for your beliefs, so do not allow others' attacks to weaken your faith. Have the courage of you convictions to do well but not for judging others.

12. Make special efforts to fellowship with other believers. It is a wonderful thing that God wants Christians to unite in church and Bible study evenings--so do not think of others as hypocrites or hold yourself out as an example. Give the credit for any good that you may do to God and to God's blessing. You will find it a blessing to talk with Bible study members about the Christian life: but not sensationalism like argumentative opinions or sex-talk, of course... This may be called being accountable--being open to share your views or any misgivings and weaknesses.

13. Reform yourself: it's crucial--but not for salvation--only to do well and to be right (in line with the Truth). You must "put off" the old man and "put on" the whole armor or God. One may sin against himself and possibly against God's purpose and plan by just carelessly maintaining old habits. The Bible says "Therefore, rid yourselves of everything impure and every expression of wickedness, and with a gentle spirit welcome the word planted in you that can save your souls."(James 1:21)

14. Remember the heart of your faith should be love, not an obligation to check off these boxes but to live as Jesus--easier said than done--but as long as you are aspiring to be like him, you're on the right track. God will always be there to help you through it, one step at a time.
15.Fall in love with God, and trust Him with all your heart, mind and soul! He loves you more than anyone on the planet is even slightly capable of doing! That's worth everything!

16. Remember that being a Christian is a life-long journey toward benefiting others in Christ. Don't expect to be free from sin and error overnight and do not judge yourself or others harshly. Maintain good morals and good habits that glorify God in your body in everyday life--to brag or boast, but to glorify God.

17. Attend church and Sunday school to help learn more about the Christian life and what it means to practice your faith. Go to confession frequently if offered at your church. Some Christian faiths believe we all sin through our words, deeds, and even our thoughts, whether we realize it or not. As part of religious practice some faiths believe Christians should go to confession to cleanse their souls so they may grow closer to our Lord as part of their religious belief system. Remember though, don't be mistaken that it means you only have forgiveness if you do it through someone else... No! God knows your heart, and as long as you ask forgiveness for real, you're forgiven. God's always there for you!.

18.Never lose faith in God.(There will be times this happens in life, we are not perfect and not called to be) . Remember that God loves everybody, and we should too.

19.You can know a Christian by his fruits, but that is a positive statement not judging ill of another. Do not try to judge others to be unsaveable in any circumstances. There is one judge of all; love others as you love yourself.

20. Prayer is powerful; do not underestimate it.

21.When you are confused as to how to live right, you can ask God for help. "If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn't find fault with them."(James 1:5)

22.You can change a lot through prayer, but do not abuse it. God answers all prayers, and He will say "No," to any prayers that are unjust or hurtful. Pray that His will be done in you, because He wants the best for all of us, and He changes all bad things in our life to be good, if we'll trust in Him to do so.

23. Forgive and don't bring it up again--although you cannot change past events--but you can change your views and activities about the past and so (pray thankfully and really forgive). God forgives all manner of sin when we repent sincerely: be like God!

24.Realize that ill-health or illnesses like cancers, sugar diabetes, drunkenness, drug use, extreme obesity, other physical and emotional suffering are often related to personal choices that one knew were not conducive to health, good morals or character.

25.Do not bury your talents or exclude your goods from others--share as much as possible--give to those with less than yourself and serve as a guide giving aide to the less fortunate instead of judging them as lazy or as sinners because of their ill-fortune and poverty. Usually poverty is not a punishment from God, for example an extreme drought or terrible storms may bring starvation, disease and famine and they fall upon all in a state or nation even upon the good and the wise.

So many tips for us (not only Christians), to lead our lives as people should, love ourselves, our families, our neighbours and simply put, why sweat the small stuff when all around us, there is poverty, suffering and war…we should all pray for peace, for justice, for friendship, for harmony cos’ this life is only temporary! Let us all do the best we can to make the world we live in a better place for everyone. Remember, we are all living on borrowed time and our children will inherit this earth we leave behind. So what we do today will be there for them tomorrow.

So, I try to live my life as best as I can, though not perfect. I hope our children will make the right choices in their lives and lead better lives than we can.
Cheers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy New Year: Welcome 2009

Hello all,

Well, 2008 ended with a Bang so to speak. The world’s economy came crashing down, companies, firms all lost money, people lost jobs, many lost everything they have invested in, their life savings, their retirement funds and investments, even their homes and all that they own. For us in Malaysia, the gloomy economic atmosphere lurks menacingly: falling oil prices, inflation, unemployment, falling wages, , social benefits, sponsorship of charitable homes… uncertain future. Everbody seems to be of the opinion that the world’s is in deep recession and 2009 will even be gloomier, but for Malaysia, our economists are positively saying we will ride through it ok! Well, I hope so, for us all.

I was working right through the New year’s eve so didn’t have time to post any blogs on the New Year or resolutions. Guess where I am now, in Cameron Highlands, ya, so cool and relaxing. We decided to divert here after a New Year’s day wedding dinner of my husband’s nephew in Penang. It was a good decision, though it was a long drive via Simpang Pulai through relatively smooth. After the steam boat dinner last nite ,( not to KL standards), and the long walk through the Brinchang streets, sampling the fried delicacies (yes, there goes whatever diets I had in mind to start the New Year), through the drizzle and biting cold, we snuggled back to the warmth in our apartment. It was a three bedroom apartment, so comfort wise it was ok. This was my 2nd outing to CH but for my hubby and kids, it was their first. CH is still as cool as it has been propounded to be. One thing we didn’t like was the numerous vehicles that plied the narrow streets but I guess everyone wanted to get away from KL and likewise, so we did have to endure black soot and smoke as we walked.

Anyway, early next morning, we had breakfast in Tanah Rata, then made our way to the famous Sungei Palas Tea Plantation, stopping at various points for pictures, (albeit dangerously narrow roads), went for a tour of the factory, learnt all about tea making and types of tea, shopped at the tea shop, then had tea and cakes in the cafĂ©, besides snapping ourselves silly with momentoes. My kids enjoyed it all. We also managed to buy some vegetables, strawberries, jam and potted plants to round up our short holiday. CH isn’t too bad for a short get away, you should try it sometimes. The journey down via Tapah was a bit tricky with little pockets of land slides and rock slides and the continuous rain dan drizzle didn’t help. After an hour and a half we were down and had lunch at a small restaurant outskirts of Tapah. Then it was home sweet home.

So now back to my New Year resolutions. I guess I have conveniently forgotten what I wanted to do last year, but at the back of my mind, I guess what I am going to put down now, would be similar. I hope I will be able to make good of the resolutions this year, else as they say, why bother making them at all, if one doesn’t want to follow them. As I said earlier, change or be changed. I will not have any new resolutions but hold on to what I said in my earlier blog on “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. Most important, I will not let negative things make me unhappy, I will remain positive and look forward. I will look after myself well and also the welfare of those dear and near to me.

So to one and all, I wish you a good year and may all your wishes come true.

Cheers!