Pray it forward

How many times have you walked past a homeless man? How many times have you walked past a crying woman? Did you give them anything? Did you say anything to them? I’ve walked past so many of these broken people, and yes, I’ve never given them money or talked to them. I might’ve given them some food on occasions that I had some with me, but that’s all.

However, I gave something even more precious than cash — I gave them a small smile and a short prayer.

Plenty of times I’ve asked friends to say a short prayer for me or a loved one, and they’ve kindly done that for me. Apart from praying for them in return for the favour, you can pray it forward. There are so many people in need around you. Not only the victims of war-stricken areas and terrorist attacks, incurable sicknesses and dying people need your prayer. Just look around you — there is someone who needs your smile, someone who needs your prayer.

Praying forward is as simple as:

  1. praying for a man waiting in the rain without an umbrella for his tram or bus to finally arrive
  2. praying for an elderly to have a wonderful day
  3. praying for a colleague who rarely smiles to have something to smile about
  4. praying for a lady who’s clearly in a rush to get her order at KFC
  5. praying for a mother to be able to calm down her agitated child
  6. praying for a man who has a nasty cough
  7. praying for the tram driver to stay awake and alert during his/her night shift
  8. praying for a pedestrian who’s been patiently waiting to cross a busy road without zebra crossing or traffic lights
  9. praying for an aeroplane to have a safe and hassle-free trip
  10. praying for a neighbour’s clothes to dry on a chilly winter’s day

It won’t take you 30 seconds to say a prayer for these people. Plus, without being intrusive you’ve helped a stranger in your own little way. In a day, you can easily pray for 10 random people. It’s so easy. Oh and don’t think God is busy handling more important stuff. I’m sure our God is big enough to answer all our prayers, especially if it stems from the kindness of our hearts. Together, let’s pray it forward. 🙂

Please add more Pray-it-forward intentions you can think of in the comments box. Thanks! 😇

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No Meat on Good Friday

Why can we only have fish? Why do we have to stay away from other forms of meat on Good Friday and Ash Wednesday? Why oh why?

I think it’s because fish is considered inexpensive in the olden times, therefore, less exceptional compared to other forms of meat such as pork, beef and chicken.

I’ve just browsed yesterday’s posts on Facebook and saw a lot of mouth-watering fish and seafood dishes. Allow me to ask the million dollar questions: Are we really meant to abstain from pork, beef and chicken, or are we supposed to deny ourselves of something extravagant that we truly like to be able to experience a minuscule level of Christ’s sufferings?

Before I get jeers, let me explain myself: I am not questioning the people who have joined the bandwagon of banning fish on Good Friday; I’m merely putting things in perspective. Truth be told, even I have a few questions about what I ate yesterday.

Yesterday, I had one small meal for the whole day. I had a banana, an egg and a can of tuna. Good girl! But, wait… Purists might question two things: First, I might’ve eaten too much by other people’s standards when I was required to fast. In my defense, I have an appetite of a beast. Those three aren’t enough to satiate me for lunch or dinner, let alone the whole day. My stomach can confirm that. Second, I had a boiled egg because I didn’t consider it to belong to the elite group of meat. I might just do without it next year.

My real issue is I like beef, pork and chicken, but I love fish and seafood. Big dilemma, eh? I want to commemorate Christ’s passion, but what can I eat? The sticklers to the rules will say that I should eat fish because that’s what the priests say. By doing so, I’m being a good, practising Catholic. I vehemently shake my head to this point of view. Eating fish brings a smile to my face. Whilst I was eating from a small can of tuna yesterday, I found myself smiling, and it wasn’t because it was my first solid intake; it was because I loved it! Yes, I am guilty as charged.

For the people who wanted to commemorate Christ’s death by having delectable big meals with fresh and well-cooked salmon, barramundi, crabs, prawns, calamari, mussels and lobster, I laud the intention, but sad to say, you fell short in the execution. Nevertheless, ignorance is bliss. Pray you don’t read my blog. However, if you do, I hope you’d put some effort into making the necessary adjustments next year.

I myself have to rethink my Good Friday menu. Maybe, I’ll just have 3 bananas next year. The monkey in me will be ecstatic, I’m sure.

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The Ageing Catholic Churchgoers

Just got back from the Good Friday service in Melbourne and I couldn’t help but notice that the 15-35-year-old age group wasn’t well-represented. I know it’s a long weekend and that’s probably the reason behind their lack of representation. However, I must admit that it is common for their group not to turn up to Sunday masses as well.

How old must one be to start going to church? I suspect the younger generation go to church with their families up to some point that they can either be left at home or are brave enough to tell their parents that they’d rather sleep in or check their Facebook than to spend an hour with the Lord.

While some people carry on practising their faith all throughout their life, some return to the fray after years of absence. Catholics tend to take a leave of absence for a few years and come back when their silver or grey hair start to appear. I don’t think they stop believing in God in all those non-practising years. It may be just because they’re too busy or exhausted to come to church on a regular basis. Could it be that they feel invincible and the concept of being dependent on a higher being seems ridiculous? Could it be that Catholicism is no longer enough for them? I don’t know.

Over a year ago I was invited by a friend to join her in a Hillsong service. I was very reluctant to do so as I had a fair idea of what happens in their days of worship. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), it was her birthday so even if my whole being was telling me to say ‘no’, I said ‘yes’.

The first part of the service included a few people watching a video of a preacher talk about prayer. After that, we were put into small groups and asked to share our thoughts on the topic. My friend knew I wasn’t comfortable talking to strangers, so she tried to shield me from this. I, however, impressed her by sharing a few of my own.

The next part was the main service, which included a lot of singing (and dancing if you wish) and preaching. You can liken it to a big production concert, complete with solo and band performances, lights and sound system, audiovisual presentations, and most importantly, audience participation. I felt like a fish out of water the whole time. Praying, singing and dancing with about 500 people, mostly composed of 15-35-year olds, aren’t normal to me. I was greeted with so much fervor to praise and know more about the Lord. I saw people not only listening attentively but also taking notes during the worship. They were nodding their heads in agreement and responding with so much energy. I hate to say it, but I’ve never attended a Catholic mass that was oozing with this much passion. So although I found it strange to be in their presence, I somewhat envied what their Christian group possessed.

I only went to a Hillsong service once and have yet to return since. I have no plans of going back either. I don’t think their way of praying is wrong, it’s just not for me. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the Catholic services I grew up attending every Sunday.

I know that the Catholic Church may need to up their game if they wish to attract or retain the teens and adults group. However, we all know you can’t please everyone. Moreover, I guess as long as we believe, pray and love one another as Christ has loved us, then it doesn’t really matter which church we go to. Amen?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Good Friday

Indeed, today is a good Friday for everyone. People may have different reasons to say this as not all of us believe in the risen Christ or can’t really be bothered to think about the main reason behind the public holiday. I am not a preachy person, but I do believe in God. I’m most thankful for the days off and I try to use this time to pray a little bit more (not every minute, but a little bit more).

My definition of prayer

I used to berate myself when I didn’t pray ‘properly’. I grew up reciting all the standard prayers, but never really dissected each sentence. Before I reached the third line, my thoughts had already floated away, thinking of so many more interesting things other than the words that were coming out of my mouth.

As I gingerly approach my 40s, I have changed my definition of prayer. I still read prayer books and leaflets and recite prayers (and my mind still deviates), but I’ve stopped berating myself. I don’t celebrate myself for my lack of inattentiveness, but I’ve learnt to rectify the situation by, yes, trying harder, and my talking to God a bit more. There have been nights when I didn’t feel like reading my prayer books, so I just talked to him until I fell asleep.

Prayer topics

We see people in church who sit there for hours. How do they do that?!? It’s easy. Just talk to him about your day, your job, your dreams and desires, funny situations, the food you had, your bus ride, whatever. Just tell him anything and everything, even if you know he already knows. It’s comforting, relaxing and addictive. I know it’s so much easier to talk to him when you have problems, when you’ve hit rock bottom. But make sure to tell him about your good news as well. He wants to hear it all from you.

Try to balance out what you tell him — don’t just keep asking. Imagine yourself talking to a friend only when you need help. How would that person feel? Jesus is a friend. Treat him as such.

Asking questions vs. Questioning his will

I remember being told that we should never question God’s will. I, however, continue to ask questions. I don’t question his will. There are so many things in this world that I don’t and will never understand, and I’m comfortable with that. That doesn’t stop me from asking why as I want to understand the situation a little bit better. I never think and tell him he’s wrong (mainly because I don’t think he is and will never be), but I do ask questions with the innocence of a child. “Why, Papa God? Why Kuya Jesus?” Sometimes, I get answers whilst I’m talking to him. There are times when I get his response days, weeks or months after. However, I still have heaps of questions that are unanswered and I look forward to getting the answers.

The language of prayer

I must admit I pray more in English now. I don’t have to because there isn’t a standard language of prayer. I probably just do so because I’ve lived in Australia since 2009. However, more than the language used in praying, the conventions of a good conversation is by far more important. I talk, and Jesus listens. Then, Jesus talks, I listen. You won’t hear a thunderous voice from above responding to your queries, but somehow you’ll just know. Try it.

My Good Friday

As I watch episodes of The Flying House and write this blog, I know I’m having a good Friday myself. By 3 o’clock, I’ll be in church with other believers to commemorate the death of Jesus. I’m walking to and from church today and listening to Christian songs or simply talking to him. It’s cloudy in Melbourne today, with an average temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. It’s going to be a noice walk!!!

See you in church, fellow believers. 🙂 For now, watch some episodes of The Flying House on YouTube. Here are some of the links:

 

The Betrayal

The Crown of Thorns

The Crucifixion of Christ

 

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Who to invite to your birthday party

Children really think and say the toot-est things. On an inspired day, words that come out of their mouths can be either clever, hilarious or offensive. You, however, cannot fault them for they’re just being honest. I’d say way too honest at times.

Take for example my 5-year-old student who was finalising his list of invitees for his birthday party. I called him over and asked who he wanted to partake in his special day. Here is an excerpt of the moving conversation between two 5-year-olds witnessed by Moo, the snoop teacher:

Moo: Who are you inviting to your party?
Dave: Uhm… Rick, Mike…
(Moo sees Mike.)
Moo: Mike, come here for a sec.
(Mike runs towards Dave and Moo.)
Moo: Dave is inviting you to his 5th birthday party.
Mike: Wow! Are you inviting Leo?
Dave: No, ’cause he’s still a baby.
(Now, Leo is only 3 years old.)
Mike: He’s not a baby.
Dave: He is!
Mike: He’s not!
Dave: He can’t even say “Happy Birthday”.

Awww! Such a major decision to make! This only proves that the gravity of friendship can be overlooked by one’s inability to say “Happy Birthday”. Makes sense to me.

In the interest of confidentiality and in the spirit of Christmas (huh?!), all the names in this recount have been changed.

Late post: 2010

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Odd for AUD

The Odd jobs I did for extra AUD (super duper late post – 2010)

Difficult. The best word to describe my transition from a Class C citizen in a Third World country to a Class DE citizen in a First World country.

When I moved to Australia, I brought with me cash to help me survive while I went back to uni and invest in a new career. Thanks to my parents who didn’t kick me out of their lovely abode while I was in the Philippines and my stingy lifestyle which has earned me the much coveted title “Anghel ng Pera” (Angel of Money), I had enough cash to get me by until I graduated the year after.

Fast forward now… (SFX: chimes, please)…

A year after, I had a teaching degree and a sad piggy bank. After barely feeding my pig for a year, it started to show signs of deterioration. What was once pink and bouncy was now brown and flat. I knew that once I get my teacher registration, everything would be smooth-sailing. But I was wrong. So much for the promise that there are a lot of jobs for teachers in Brisbane. Duhhh… And so in my quest to resuscitate my ailing porky, I entered the world of the ODD Jobs.

First on the list is my weekly delivery of junk mail. Being a junk-ee isn’t all too bad. It means I have to sort the mountains of brochures while watching TV the night before the real gig. This normally goes for 1 to 2 hours, largely due to the distraction presented by The Simpsons, Masterchef and the like. I get up early the next day, with my fingers and toes crossed, hoping for a lovely sunny day — or else I’d have to battle against the diversity of reptiles and amphibians this lovely continent is oh so proud of. The hazards of this job includes back pains, encounters with killer dogs (big and small… woof!) and possible “detours” (for me, it’s pretty often) when I don’t pay attention to where I’m going. Income from this job depends on the bulk of junk mail. The more back-breaking days allow me to cash in A$35, while the skippy-skip days earn me a measly A$17.

Second on my list is the transcription job, the 8-5 or 8-8 job that pays me a remarkable amount of $10 a day. Mind you, that’s in USD. Whoohoo! I will never forget that rainy and cold spring morning when I got up at 5AM to get a headstart on the project. I toiled until 3PM. Only my filled up wee bladder and tummy singing “Papa, can you hear me” were the only valid reasons for me to take a breather. Working in the comforts of my double bed, my slide count (the number of times my back slid from the wall to my bed) totalled at least 25 times for that day.

Third on my list is responding to online surveys. This is an extremely easy but time-consuming task. I think my blood pressure dropped way below normal levels due to the boring nature of this job. All I have to do is answer surveys for 30-45 minutes and get about 300 points for that. However, I can only claim my precious $5 (again in USD) when I’ve accumulated 575 points.

Fourth on my list is my translation job. After many online applications that I’ve lost track of, I was surprised to get a job order from a New Zealand company. Thinking it might be just another dodgy project, I asked them how they got my email address. Their answer put my paranoid self at ease, so I took on that job and many jobs after. What’s required of me is to check the translated document in Filipino against the original in English and give suggestions if I think the translation isn’t conversational enough. For a one-page document, I get A$20. Aaaah. Finally, not bad!

Fifth and final on my list is my Filipino/Tagalog teaching job — the job of my dreams! Who would’ve thought that someone (in their right mind) in this First World land would want to learn a language spoken by just 90 million people. Actually, maybe even just 30 million, since many Filipinos don’t even speak the national language! For an hour of teaching, I sometimes get $50 or $40. But, I haven’t been always lucky: Sometimes, they don’t pay. Argh. Nonetheless, amazing, eh?

Now, I’m in between jobs. Bummer. I continue to do odd jobs from time to time. After all, I gotta do, what I gotta do, all in the daring quest to earn the elusive AUDs.

How I wish I’d finally land a good teaching job and have a career shaping the minds and hearts of these Oi! Oi! Aussie kids! This way, too, I can also go back to being a Class C citizen, but this time, in a First World country. Shalala…

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Panorama-rama

Panorama-rama

I joined the rest of the world when I got myself a nice, small camera in June. I still love and intend to use my Nikon DSLR for big trips, but for bushwalks, numerous visits to the same place (but still hopeful to find something interesting to take a photo of), and other random trips, I now take with me my Sony Cybershot.

One of the reasons I picked the Sony Cybershot was its ability to take superb panoramic shots. I find it perfect because it doesn’t require too much effort on my end — meaning: I don’t need to keep my hand still as I move the camera from left to right, and stitching photos as I moved!

In my recent trip to Mt Tamborine I experimented and took a photo of a busy road. The photo is not in any way a reflection of my outstanding ability to use the camera’s panorama feature. Haha. At least now I know (and you know!) what will happen if I take another panoramic shot of a moving subject.

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