Category Archives: Monasticism

Crazy weather

[ now playing? ] Match Point OST – Various Artists | Telecoteco: um sambinha cheio de bossa… – Paula Morelenbaum

The weather the past week has been ridiculous. Mainly raining. Apart from a couple of days where it’s been humid like heck in the day followed by… oh yeah, that’s right, rain (again) at night.

Today has been stupidly wet. Some strong winds and heavy rain have made it a complete washout.

Nice to see Steph, Sime, Jacky and Phillip again today. =)

But today was the first week of the “two-church” approach to faith. EMP in the morning followed by 5pm Mass @ St. John’s. I would have stayed back for Choral Evensong at 6pm but alas, I had to get something to eat before my last meeting as secretary for the Worship & Music Committee. I am getting used to this split nature for church now. EMP is there primarily for the social factor (with faith formation too) but St. John’s is primarily for faith formation and music with the liturgy and the music program there each week. Will have to get used to choral evensongs at night instead of choral Eucharists in the morning now.

I’m somewhat relegating my hopes of one day celebrating a Eucharist as a priest to being down the drain for the moment. In vestments no less. *shrugs shoulders* Oh well. Dear God, it was fun while it lasted. Maybe in God’s time it will come back. Maybe it won’t. Studying theology hasn’t gone out of the picture though. And neither has my lay monastic sense of faith formation and spirituality that is probably a sharp contrast to the rest of my life. But I live with these inherent contradictions within myself. Deo gratias.

This past week I have been getting rather sick of the constant questioning from rellies about my lack of a marital status. Sure, there are some young women that I do like (some may even pick up on this) but I can’t foresee myself in a relationship with them. Whether it’s real concerns that I have or me just killing myself by a thousand cuts before the battle has even begun, I have no idea. Maybe this is my calling in life, as a single man. And while I have pity on myself, I don’t expect anyone else to have pity on me. I expect laughter at me and incessant questioning from relatives. If this is what it comes down to, all I pray is for grace. Lots of it.


Bryan’s post on Oct 7 has got me thinking. Especially with the church issues I’ve had over the last few months. He quotes from Merton in The Monastic Journey initially:

The real secret of monastic stability is, then, the total acceptance of God’s plan by which the monk realizes himself to be immersed into the mystery of Christ through this particular family and no other.  It is the definitive acceptance of his communion, in time and eternity, with these particular brothers chosen for him by God to share his sorrows and his joys, his difficulties and his achievements, his problems and their solutions.  It means the glad realization of the fact that all who are thus called together will work out their salvation in common, will help one another to find God more easily, and indeed that we have been destined from all eternity to bring one another closer to Him by our love, our patience, our forbearance and our efforts at mutual understanding.

He has some pointed observations next.

This vow of stability isn’t so much about my physical location but has more to do with where I am spiritually.  Am I dwelling in God?  Am I choosing to surrender my will for His will?

I love the last quote too . . . read it over a few times.  Do you have a “particular family” of people that you are working out your salvation with?  If so, how does that look?  What kinds of things must we be willing to surrender to live in this kind of communion?

And they are pointed. They cut to the very core of the discontent and spiritual malaise that has afflicted me intensely over the last few months and more generally over the last two to three years. I haven’t really been able to find a “particular family” (as Merton puts it) where I can be immersed into the mystery of Christ. Or maybe I have but haven’t realized it and it has been this last few year’s sojourn in the spiritual wilderness/desert (so to speak) that maybe God is slowly removing the scales from my eyes.

Is my fervent Anglo-Catholicism something that I can surrender to live in communion? Or is it an integral part of what makes me, well, “me“? Have all these years in an evangelical parish actually dulled the innate Anglo-Catholicism in me to the point where my time spent in the evangelical parish was actually a front, a facade with elements of the underlying truth visible in parts? And has it been this 5-6 months away from the evangelical parish that has restored the sanity and balance in my faith that was partially a facade before? Quite possibly.

Dwelling in God is not as easy as it sounds. At the risk of cutting it very finely on the line between faith and works, it does take effort to dwell in God. My own effort. If it’s effort through my own strength, then it is for naught. But, if it is my own effort through Christ’s strength, by gosh do I have a shot at dwelling in God then.


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3rd Tuesday in Eastertide

I’m a big fan of public broadcasting. Heck, if we had PBS here in Australia, I’d be watching that more often than I’d be watching NBC, CBS and ABC combined.

We however have the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and SBS (Special Broadcasting Service).

I’m a big fan of SBS. Huge fan. One, because they show Top Gear UK and Top Gear Australia (can’t wait for series 2 of TGA beginning May 11!) Secondly, they show possibly the best current affairs/news discussion program in Australia, Insight (well, next to Dateline, Foreign Correspondent, The 7:30 Report and Four Corners). Last week was all about work and the reinvention of ourselves during this economic downturn.

This week, Jenny Brockie and the team were talking about the issue of sleep. And why we all get less of it than we should. It’s a pertinent issue for myself of late given that I have been having disrupted sleep at nights (i.e. waking up and then not going back to sleep for a few hours) or my sleep is of a low quality (I’m more fitful than restful). And I know that if I keep this up, I will get sick more often this year (influenza vaccination notwithstanding). Plus be more grumpy than I usually am and lose my temper far too often.

I’m guilty of not setting myself more of a routine for my sleep. Given the lay Benedictine commitment I have made, the concept of balancing work, rest and prayer should feature more prominently. A lay Benedictine commitment comes with a responsibility of adapting the monastic work day to my life in the secular world. But it comes with a great deal of difficulty, though it is not such an impossible task.

I find that I go to sleep with far too much on my mind (like I will tonight as I have some work documents to read and edit before I hit the sack tonight). I can lay in bed for an hour waiting to drift off into slumberland, but I am restless. Why on earth I don’t actually get up and pray compline or vigils during that time for some contemplation and rest bewilders even myself.

All it does show is that I am not living out that lay monastic commitment as fully as I should be. And that if I am ever to be a priest, my work will suffer for it as my own self-discipline and askesis in these matters is lacking. Not for a lack of full commitment (be the half-assed commitment it is currently), but ultimately for a lack of love for God.

My lack of sleep always keeps bringing up in the back of my mind that little saying by St. Paul that our bodies are the temple of God and how we should not destroy God’s temple unless we want God to destroy us (1 Cor 3:16-18). Although primarily directed at the Corinthian church at the time (the “you” in the verse is plural after all), there is a great deal of application in these verses if we take the you to mean the individual person too (even though it is only a secondary meaning and interpretation).

The entire point of the Benedictine approach to life and faith is one of balance and harmony. Finding balance and harmony between the works of God and the works of man. In Chinese terms, to balance yin and yang. God help me.


It was rather good to catch up yesterday with my old high school principal, Fr. Paul for lunch in the city. Caught up on each other’s work, hobbies and my questioning him about life as an Anglican priest. I had forgotten that he likes reading Japanese literature, so his recommendations for some books are in the back of my mind as I head overseas in a few weeks time. KLCC Kinokuniya, here I come.

I will be hunting down a copy of Shūsaku Endō’s (遠藤 周作) Silence. And some stuff by Graham Greene too – like The End of the Affair and The Power and the Glory. And maybe to see if I can find somewhere online those brief sermons of Kierkegaard he mentioned were good too (unless he is talking about Kierkegaard’s parables, of which I have a copy of in my library). This was after I mentioned to Fr. Paul that the Christian existentialist view on despair and sorrow that finds its expression in Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death has been a formative influence on how I view and handle the despair, sorrow and sadness that resides within me.


In other things, please pray for the priest on duty today at St. John’s (Fr. John) as we had to stop the lunchtime Mass just before the prayers because he wasn’t feeling too well. I’m hoping that he didn’t suffer a mini heart attack or mini stroke there. In the end Fr. Rupert finished Mass for the small congregation present, but we all were hoping and praying for Fr. John to be well soon.

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Descubre tu presencia

Tuesday in Holy Week

San Juan de la Cruz – Cantico Espiritual


8. Mas ¿como perseveras,
¡oh vida!, no viviendo donde vives,
y haciendo porque mueras
las flechas que recibes
de lo que del Amado en ti concibes?

9.  ¿Por qué, pues has llagado
aqueste corazón, no le sanaste?
Y, pues me le has robado,
¿por qué así le dejaste,
y no tomas el robo que robaste?

10. ¡Apaga mis enojos,
pues que ninguno basta a deshacellos,
y véante mis ojos,
pues eres lumbre dellos,
y sólo para ti quiero tenellos!

11. Descubre tu presencia
y máteme tu vista y hermosura
mira que la dolencia
de amor, que no se cura
sino con la presencia y la figura.

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Another wedding

2008 Ordinary Time 32/Trinity 25 – Sunday

[ now playing? ] Sœur Marie Keyrouz SBC – Chants sacrés de l’Orient (tradition melchite) (Harmonia Mundi HMA 1951497)

Congrats to Peter and Jacey yesterday on getting hitched at CMCA-EMP. Joyous day indeed for the Tran and Ting families as well as everyone who attended the wedding and/or reception. The word that all of us who were at the reception last night took away to think about marriage was “Eternity” (*said in a ghoulish voice*, George was a crackup being the MC of the evening).

Continue reading Another wedding


Ordinary Time 28/Pentecost 22 – Tuesday

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

– The Gospel according to St. Luke, chapter 18, verses 9-14 (NKJV-Orthodox Study Bible edition)

I’m not sure where we get the notion that Christianity is safe or that Christians should play it cool. Growing up, I always thought that Christians were good upstanding citizens, but the more I get to know Jesus, the more trouble he seems to get me into. Søren Kierkegaard puts it well: “To want to admire, instead of follow, Christ is not an invention of bad people; no it is more an invention of those who spinelessly want to keep themselves detached at a safe distance from Jesus.” (Søren Kierkegaard, Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, ed. Charles E. Moore (Farmington, PA: Plough, 2002) @ 86).
Some Christians take so few risks, it’s no wonder folks have a hard time believing in heaven. Most of us live in such fear of death that it’s as if no one really believes in resurrection anymore. Sometimes people ask me if I am scared, living in the inner city. I usually reply, “I’m more scared of the suburbs.” The Scriptures say that we should not fear those things which can destroy the body, but we are to fear that which can destroy the soul (Matt. 10:28). While the ghettos may have their share of violence and crime, the suburbs are the home of the more subtle demonic forces—numbness, complacency, comfort—and it is these that can eat away at our souls.

Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), pp226-27.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God; have mercy on me, a sinner.
Domine Iesu Christe, Fili Dei, miserere mei, peccatoris.
Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν (Kyrie Ἰisoῦ Xriste, Yἱe toῦ THeoῦ, ἐleison me tὸn ἁmartolon) 

Jesus Prayer

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