Rejoice and be Glad! Pope Francis encourages us to be holy

Have you read Pope Francis’ latest apostolic exhortation: “Gaudete et Exulstate” yet?

It is an easy-reading and you’ll amaze of how you will easily relate it to your own daily life. It is worth of your time to read it.

The best way to find the official text in English is by visiting the Vatican site.

And if you need to read some commentaries about the document, Fr. Antonio Spadarro, SJ has wrote a personal comment yet quite helpful since he is one of several people who are close to the Pontiff in La Civilta Cattolica.

Other is one short article from CNA.

Even you may find more comments about it now in the internet.

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Prayer and Desire

Why in our fear of not praying as we should, do we turn to so many things, to find what we should pray for?

Why do we not say instead, in the words of the psalmist: “I have asked one thing from the Lord, this is what I will seek: to dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, to see the graciousness of the Lord, and to visit his temple.”

There, the days do not come and go in succession, and the beginning of one day does not mean the end of another; all days are one, simultaneously and without end, and the life lived out in these days has itself no end.

So that we might obtain this life of happiness, he who is true life itself taught us to pray, not in many words as though speaking longer could gain us a hearing.

After all, we pray to one who, as the Lord himself tells us, knows what we need before we ask for it.

By Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

Taken from “A Book of Quiet Prayer: For All the Seasons, Stages, Moods, and Circumstances of Life” by William Byron, SJ, pp. 153-154.

Taunggyi Tazaungdaing Annual Festival

The Tazaungdaing Festival (Burmese: တန်ဆောင်တိုင်ပွဲတော်), also known as the Festival of Lights, held on the full moon day of Tazaungmon, the eighth month of the Burmese calendar, is celebrated as a national holiday in Myanmar and marks the end of the rainy season. The festival’s origins predate the introduction of Buddhism to Burma, and are believed to stem from the Kattika festival, which honors the guardian planets in Hindu astrology. 

 

Although it is happened as the country’s festival, it is here in Taunggyi, it lights up brighter and more lively. When I write it as “lights up”, it should be understood as litteraly as it is. Taunggyi Tazaungdaing Festival is already an attraction to Burmese’s tourism. Try to google the words before the month of November each year, and you will find a lot of offers to have trip to Taunggyi to attend this festival. It is an unique one than other places since here, in Taunggyi, for about a week, each night in a wide open space or field, there is a temporary people’s night market which concentrated to fly up a huge gas balloon to the night sky. It carries a large amount of gas which produced from a fire stacked up at the bottom of the balloon. Then, on its tail, people hooked it with a large amounts of fireworks which will started to light and crack soon when the balloon fly quite high enough. Every night for about a week, at least 4-8 balloons will be flied up.

It really delights spectators, if it succeed to be flied. However, it does not mean to be completely save. There were many accident in the past, while the fire gas did not properly installed and started to burn the balloon while it did not fly high enough. It fell down quite fast while it was still burning, and to make it even worse, the fireworks began to light up and chase people on the ground. If it happens, it should be a kind of a temporary nightmares for the onlookers. Last Monday, it happened just like that. Twelve people were injured and two were killed, reported by The Irrawaddy News

Still, it cannot be stopped all of sudden. It links to a culture and tradition of Taunggyi’s residents. It is just like trying to convince a people in Indonesia to stop their annual habit of “mudik” before the Ied festival. It will upset their tradition and against values they strongly holds.
By writing this short journal, I never intend to speak against any cultural tradition. And if you able to witness the crowds that present on the field, you will know, it is not just a bunch of people who like to have meaningless parties. 

It has a religious meaning. If the balloon goes up and everything run to be completely well, it will be taken as a sign from above that their offering is accepted and they will receive blessings throughout the upcoming season or year. In other words, it is an act of faith which express their hope and confidence to the almighty. 

 

Friday, November 3, 2017 is the last evening of this celebration. Tomorrow and the rest of the day in the year, here in Taunggyi, life slowly will return to regularly quite and calm.

Memory of One Who Always Beloved

This week is particularly precious to me. 

A moment of silence on the all souls’ day reminded me of one beautiful person I knew. As I recalled members of family and relatives who passed away, I remember the late Rev. John Lim (+2011), the first pastor who ministered First Indonesian Baptist Church of Los Angeles (Lime Ave., Monrovia), who also is my beloved uncle. 

When I was born, he already was not around the house. At first, I knew him and his family through pictures he often sent us, especially to greet us with a christmas wish and blessing. But, I met them in person later when he regularly visitied his mother, my grandma. 

Somehow, I noticed, more or less, the memory of Uncle John indirectly contributed and formed a desire to follow my vocation as Jesuit priest. We may have different stand points in faith. But, surely I have so much respect and love to a humble presence of my uncle. I remembered my first meeting with him as a young jesuit’s scholastic. He embraced me and exclaimed how proud and happy he was that seeing me pursue the path to become a servant like him. 

It happened that the end of October of this year was a 500th anniversary of the Reformation which started by Martin Luther. It gives me even a greater joy to remembered well my late beloved Uncle John. 

May God the ever merciful one, whom you served and obeyed faithfully, dear Uncle John, grant your soul an abundant peace and mercy. May you be happily unite with your beloved mom, my grandma, Mm. Tjoa Lian Eng. 

Miss you and proud of you. 

A M D G 

The Irony of the Cross: Palm Sunday Homily

This post surely is a very late post.

However, it still worth for me to write it all here. It is a summary from a short homily I made for last Palm Sunday Mass.

Consider this imagining situation: a catholic needed a crucifix to be put on the wall of his/her house, or simply to use it as a necklace or similar. He/she would go to a devotional store, and when he/she have different kind of crucifix to be choose, we will find his/her decision would be ours too. Normally, we will busy to choose the good looking crucifix, not one looked ugly. We will consider it as a piece of art work, not a symbol to the reality of our faith.

The realm of crucifixion was really bad experience for human being to suffer. It is not about how badly the Lord have been beaten up physically, but also, how people turned away from him. How he had been humiliated after being received as a promising king by entering the Jerusalem’s door. Today’s prayer and celebration should be reflect as a celebration of an irony of the cross; a promising king who have been denied by his own followers because he chose to embrace love and humility instead of holding power and authority.

For Christ, the gate of Jerusalem was a beginning, not an end of his final journey. Therefore, we should look to Calvary during this mass. We do not ended our journey, furthermore, we are looking forward, reflect beyond today’s celebration and place our heart and faith to the passion week.

The irony of the cross is also put ourselves in our own crossroads: whether we wanted to choose or incline to our needs to be satisfied, or we are looking forward to be happy: to see and understand that we live our meaningful life by serving others, being altruistic and eager to make other people happy?

Very often, we will find our happiness when we go out and forget our demand to be complied. We will see that by doing good to others will satisfy us deeper than just busy to make ourselves rich, safe and comfortable.

Entering the Holy Week of 2015 at USD Campus Ministry

Sunday, March 29, 2015 will be a starting path to once again we closely follow Christ’s path going through his passion and his love for the salvation of humankind. I will try to write diligently this week of my own journey in serving our youth celebrating their faith, both as a priest of passion’s liturgies and a companion for them, helping the passion week committee to deepen their relation to the Lord as they work together as a liturgical team of Universitas Sanata Dharma Campus Ministry.

Tonight, after serving The Palm Sunday mass at Saturday evening, I realised these youth and students were eager and passionate finding the realm of The Lord’s Passion and its mystery. The two hours mass were celebrated solemnly and noticed by its deep silence. The youth really present themselves as those who really want to come to the church to deepen their connection to the Lord. It was not just another ordinary Sunday, when church just a part of their routine activities for the day.

Therefore, these upcoming writings should serve as a joint journey, not just my own path with the Lord. But, several from many feet which following closely the Lord’s journey at Campus Ministry of USD.

There is Rejoice in Darkness: Homily of Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 15, 2015 (Year B)

First Reading: 2 Chr 36: 14-16, 19-23
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 137: 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Second Reading: Eph 2: 4-10
Gospel Reading: Jn 3: 14-21

INTRODUCTION

Let us greet to each others as we gathered as friends, brothers and sisters, celebrating today’s eucharist.
The fourth Sunday of Lent is a day quite special to be celebrated. It is becoming a moment of pause from our journey throughout Lent. This Sunday called “Laetare Sunday”, means “rejoice”. By having this Sunday it also alerts us that now, we are only three more weeks ahead to Easter Sunday. It also means we are in the middle of Lent Season. However,
Moreover, Laetare Sunday prepares us to the coming of Holy week. The word “Laetare” means “Rejoice”, word that we consider suppose to be forbidden during Lent. But here, the entrance anthipon calls us “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning, exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.”
This is to address us to be full of courage and persistence in hope since from next week we will continue our Lent pilgrimage with different perspective, we will closely following the path of suffering of our Lord, which we call the fifth week of Lent as the Passion Sunday.
Therefore, we move forward in the beginning of our prayer by giving thanks to our Lord for every blessing and love we have received throughout our daily life.

….

HOMILY
Who are among you have a phobia to darkness? or cannot stand to sleep without light? or similar with it? Explain the symptoms and the reason. Which is most terrifying?

The reason of this phobia often can be accepted easily since most people do not like stay in darkness. Maybe because it makes us feel helpless. Consider this: if suddenly during this eucharist the electricity went out, we would immediately panic and even if we still can continue our prayer, without microphone and other electronic equipment, we would not enjoy our prayer as common as we used to.
But, is it darkness always take us to uneasiness? or to something might disrupt our regular and it is uncommon? even destruction?

Three weeks have past during Lent and from the day we started our self-examination to our conscience we may find that we are not so perfect as we think we are. It was not new as news, but it can be a good news, instead of a bad news, since it indicates that we still be able to acknowledge our weaknesses and our imperfection as human being. it is a gate that may relate us to be renew again and again as a person and member of children of God. However, to see the ugliness of our sins sometimes make us could not bear to see ourselves as it is. The choice is in ourselves.
If we could indicate the darkness of sins, it may helps us to indicate the light of God mercy. Three weeks long we contemplated our sins, and still God loves us. He still continue providing us with something most people needed: love. We have surrounded with parents, family, brothers, sisters, friends, lecturers and everybody around us who simply resonate the love of God in our interaction with them.
The relation may not always went well. But, this people still be around us, they may forgive our wrongdoings and they also need our forgiveness. That is love which make us capable to endure even in darkness of relationship. If we go back then, to our starting point to reflect today’s readings, we notice darkness not always lead us to something bad. It may reveal the very goodness of reality of love.
Jesus’ word today, strengthen us, giving us hope and more courage to embrace love. He asked us to choose to live in darkness or to live in his love, which able make us feel light even in darkness. The burdens we may carried, which cause many things that hurts us, will eventually heal us, if we allow to accept love. John the apostle was writing very boldly in today’s gospel: “(for) God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so everyone who believe in him might have eternal life.”
If you remember how it is feel to be loved, you will know the deepest meaning of this sentence. Recalled how your father and mother love you. They still love you, even when you doing bad things. Or when someone you like so much, indicating back the same feeling to you. Even when that person seems bad from others point of view, you may blindly love him/her and accept his/her weaknesses.

Returning back to theme of rejoicing, today we have been asked to rejoice in the middle of our sadness or grieves cause by our sins. We are choosing to be love and loving back God who loves us first. There are no guarantee that we may always able to choose what it is good and constantly a good person. We may fall again, now and then, but, today, we have been asked to say “I do” to God’s question to love him. It is our willingness that describe our option whether we are children of light or of darkness.

Let us pray that the Lord himself build up our willingness to life for goodness and make us stronger everyday. May he helps us to seek his counsel and comfort with prayer, and by doing so we may gain intimate relation to the Lord. Finally, we ask to be able finding our joy even in the darkness and hardship of life.

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam

Alb. Buddy Haryadi, SJ