Nox Gaudii (Night Of Joy) 2015: You will be my people, and I will be your God

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In 2007, I made my first visit to Bintan's Tanjung Pinang Asrama Putra Boys Home. It was a mission trip with STYG to expose our youth to the poorer living condition just a couple of hours from the shores of Singapore. For the first time this year, we made arrangements to invite the Asrama Putra Girls over to our sunny Singapore island. After much difficulties with finances and paperwork to leave the country, we finally played host to 4 teenage girls (Maria, Afni, Kristy, Sherin) and their mission leader, Manuela. The objective of the visit was to allow the girls to experience the diverse culture, lifestyle and food offered in Singapore.

Awaiting the start of Praise at Nox Gaudii

Among the tightly scheduled program was a trip to Nox Guadii (Night of Joy) August. We wanted the girls to have a taste of young catholic people from all parishes coming together to Praise and fellowship. Nox Guadii in the month of August; following all the festive filled SG50 National Day celebrations, was naturally dedicated to the Nation Jubilee theme of "You will be my people, and I will be your God - Proud to be Catholic, Proud to be Singaporean".

Fr. Derrick Yap who lead the JOY SG50 Thanksgiving Mass at the National Stadium in July was invited to preach on the theme.
He started with - Have you chosen to follow Jesus? To choose is to believe. "You will be my people, and I will be your God" is both a statement and a choice.
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." - Philippians 3:20-21
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." - John 6:68
God is Home, truly.

In this double bill SG50 Nox event, we not only had Fr. Derrick, but also acclaimed singer and songwriter, Corrine May who graced us with her time to share her journey in writing Bless Our Singapore.

Corrine shared about how she was lead to write a song about sanctification, a process of being made holy. The song reflected the image of a garden of our soul.

And we got a picture with the very talented, Corrine May

Both sharing by Fr. Derrick and Corrine were very localized, which turned out challenging for the Asrama Putra Girls to understand both for its context and their command of the English language. I believed the girls did enjoy Praise and adoration of the Eucharist.

More Nox Gaudii (Night Of Joy) 2015: You will be my people, and I will be your God Pictures

STYG Tanjung Pinang Asrama Putra Mission
The Tanjung Pinang Mission
Giving Back at the Missionaries of Charity
JOY SG50 Thanksgiving Mass
Nox Gaudii (Night Of Joy) 2015: Being A Church On Fire
Nox Gaudii 2015: Behold I Make All Things New

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JOY SG50 Thanksgiving Mass

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We came together, as ministries, as classmates, as friends, as families, as church and as Singapore. Catholics and non-catholics from all over our island graced the special JOY SG50 Thanksgiving Mass in celebration of our little nation's Jubilee celebration. 10,000 strong filled the Singapore Indoor Stadium as we gave thanks for 50 abundant years in Singapore's nation building.

Celeste and I didn't get the bid for the National Day celebration balloting this year, so she was determined to get tickets for the JOY SG50 event. And what a celebration it was! With a star studded line up from Gold 90.5 radio presenter, Joe Augustine, Channel NewsAsia caster and friend, Augustine Authuvan, singer songwriter, Corrine May, favorite Daughters of St. Paul nun, Sr. Wendy and all those ridiculously talented religious and friends from various music ministry that took the stage. In all honesty, I couldn't recall a "catholic" event of such scale that was put together with such quality and fluidity. This one pulled together all the tricks of a combined youth orchestra, band, choir, praise and worship singers, hip hop dancers, video production (with Red Dragon 4K cameras), stage lighting, live online video streaming and everything behind the scenes we couldn't see. It felt profession, it felt massive, it felt WOW! It felt like I was attending a protestant event, just that it was Catholic! It felt strangely comfortable celebrating mass, worshiping God and being surrounded by so many familiar faces. It was the taste a rejuvenated church on fire with Jesus!

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long who graced the event commented that when he heard of a Catholic Thanksgiving Mass, he thought of a gathering at St. Peter and Paul's Church and not a filled Indoor Stadium.

As many religious groups organised thanksgiving events for SG50, PM Lee took the opportunity to hype up religious harmony and at the same time rally himself into the good books of the upcoming Singapore election.

A special Singapore Catholic Church History video by PixelMusica was screened in the presence of PM Lee showcasing the stories I have come to know very well from Pilgrimage In My Backyard (PIMBY).

Our Catholic Light is a film that tells the story of how missionaries such as the Paris Foreign Missions brought the Light of Christ to Singapore, to serve the needs to the people through the Catholic Church. Since 1821, the Church has played a pivotal role in Singapore’s nation building through its work in education, healthcare, and social services, serving people regardless of religion, race or language.

The story is told through the lives and personal testimonies of 25 priests, religious, church workers and volunteers. More than a thousand man hours of work (research, pre-production, production and post production) went into the making of this film.

Corrine May performed her World Premiere song dedicated to the country - "Bless Our Singapore"
The lyrics to the song - heartfelt, sincere and truly a blessing. Corrine May is such a beautiful talent, allowing Christ to shine in her song, voice and music.
Bless Our Singapore

O Lord, hear our prayer
Bless this land where we stand
May we be light for our nation
May we be salt for this land

To this land, you sent our Fathers
For the church their blood was shed
They served the island's sons and daughters
Like the wheat that forms the bread

On this land, you grew a garden
From the toiling of our hands
We thank you Lord for every blessing
Trusting your eternal plan

Holy Spirit light the way
Keep us faithful, this we pray
Till we reach Heaven's shore
Bless our Singapore

On this land, you choose to feed us
on the altar of our hearts
May we be Christ for one another
Never fear to bear the cross

Holy Spirit light the way
Keep us faithful, this we pray
Till we reach Heaven's shore
Bless our Singapore

Holy Mary, full of grace
Help us give Him, all our days
Till we reach Heaven's shore
Bless our Singapore

Till we reach Heaven's shore
Bless our Singapore

Little voices from CHIJ Kellock Choir joined together to perform "You Are Mine". Can't help but gleefully grin with pride as I was once (many, many years ago) just like them. That blue pinafore and white blouse followed me 10 years of my life!

The finale brought to stage priests, religious and all the performers in a resounding praise and worship medley ending with "Shine, Jesus Shine". Confetti shot to the air as the event drew to a close.

Thank you church for sharing Christ's JOY this SG50!

More JOY SG50 Thanksgiving Mass Pictures

Category: Faith
Category: Special Events

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STYG Lenten Play 2015 Performance

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This video took a little too long in the editing room due to my commitments with school and work *classic excuses*. But Hey! Still it's better late than never.
I cannot be more proud of the youth who spent weeks rehearsing and putting this act together for the children at Good Friday.

Presenting to you - St. Teresa's Youth Group's (STYG) Passion Play 2015!

Behind the Scenes

Final briefing before the start of the performance

Backstage dressing room

Final thanksgiving prayer. it's a wrap!

More STYG Passion Play 2015 Pictures

STYG Lenten Play 2015 Performance
STYG Lenten Play 2011 Performance
STYG Lenten Play 2011 (Full Dress Rehearsal)
STYG Lenten Play 2011 Rehearsals, Props & Costumes
STYG Lenten Play 2010 Group
STYG Lenten Play 2009 Group
STYG Lenten Play 2008 Group
STYG Lenten Play 2008 Video
STYG Lenten Play 2007 Video
STYG Lenten Play 2007: Behind the Scenes
Youth In BLACK!

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Nox Gaudii (Night Of Joy) 2015: Being A Church On Fire

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Nature has a way of reacting to its surroundings. A flame will bring light to its environment and in addition, warmth. A flame when kindled will burst into a fire. Fire can transform, it can destroy or it can cleanse. I am always mesmerized by the burning flames of fire. At camp bond fires, I can stare endlessly into the flames that dances in shades of red, orange, yellow and blue. The warmth, the sound of crackling wood and the smell of char burnt remains. The element of fire reminds me of such beauty and at the same time such danger.

Unlike other evangelical or charismatic christian denominations, the Catholic church locally is known to be traditional and often subtle in our outreaches. We are commonly described as lukewarm or reserved. I'd like to think that each of us has a little flame in us from Pentecost. If many little flames come together for the mission of Christ we will burst into a raging fire - fearless, swift and powerful to spread the gospel.
"I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!"
Luke 12:49
This is the fire of faith, the fire of passion, the fire of conviction, the fire of love, the fire of holiness, the fire of hope. When this fire touch our lives, it changes us forever.

We are called to come together to be a fireplace. Many in our church have yet to meet Jesus. Can we be a fireplace to grow friendship and to share our lives?

Fr. Jude David's preaching on Being A Church On Fire
"If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames."
1 Corinthians 3

My little handmade flame after Nox Guadii with a personalized message

"We know we were made for more than ordinary lives
It's time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive!"
Thrive, Casting Crowns
Burn with praise!

Nox Gaudii 2015: Behold I Make All Things New

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10 Habits of Genuinely Charming People

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Sure, everyone knows blunt, impolite, and even rude people who are somehow extremely successful. (I know a bunch of them.)
But since we're all more likely to build professional and personal relationships and do business with people with people we like, we're naturally drawn to individuals who are polite, modest, agreeable, kind.

In short, we're drawn to people who are charming.

I know a bunch of them too, and here's how they do it:

1. They willingly show a little vulnerability
Charming people don't try to win any unstated competitions with people they meet. In fact, they actively try to lose. They're complimentary. They're impressed. They're even willing to admit a weakness or a failure. It's really easy. Say you meet a would-be Donald Trump and he says, "I just closed a fabulous deal to build the world's best golf course on the most amazing oceanfront property on the planet." Don't try to win. Instead say, "That's awesome. I'm jealous. I've wanted to build a small recreation facility for years, but can't line up the financing. How did you pull off such a huge deal?" Charming people are confident enough to be unafraid to show a little vulnerability. They know that while some people may be, at least temporarily, impressed by the superficial, everyone sincerely likes and appreciates the genuine.

2. They show they're genuinely glad to meet you
They maintain eye contact. They smile when you smile. They frown when you frown. They nod their head when you nod. In simple, nonverbal ways, they mimic your behavior - not slavishly, but because they're focused on what you're saying. That feedback loop helps two people bond - and the ability to bond is the essence of charm. (If you want more ways to be likeable, check this out.)

3. They search for agreement instead of contradiction
Unfortunately going contrary is an easy habit to fall into. It's easy to automatically look for points of disagreement rather than agreement. It's easy to automatically take a different side. And it's easy to end up in what feels like an argument. Charming people don't actively (or unknowingly) look to disagree; they look for points of agreement. Then, if it's appropriate, they gently share a different point of view - and in that way, help create an outstanding conversation.

4. They (selectively) use the power of touch
Nonsexual touch can be incredibly powerful. (I'm aware that sexual touch can be powerful too, thanks.) Touch can influence behavior, increase the chances of compliance, make the person doing the touching seem more attractive and friendly, and can even help you make a sale.For example, in one experiment the participants tried to convey twelve different emotions by touching another blindfolded participant on the forearm. The rate of accuracy for perceiving emotions like fear, anger, gratitude, sympathy, love, and disgust ranged from 43 percent to 83 percent - without a word being spoken. Say you're congratulating someone; shaking hands or (possibly better yet, depending on the situation) patting them gently on the shoulder or upper arm can help reinforce the sincerity of your words.

5. They often dine out on their foibles
And they're also not afraid to look a little silly. Skating in a cowboy outfit may be a little extreme, but charming people don't mind occasionally being in a situation where they aren't at their best.
And oddly enough, people tend to respect them more for that - not less. When you genuinely own your foibles, people don't laugh at you. They laugh with you. And they realize it's OK to let down their own guards and meet you at a genuine level.

6. They're masters of social Jiu-Jitsu
Some people have a knack for getting you to talk openly yourself. They ask open-ended questions. They sincerely want to know what you think, and that makes you open up to a surprising degree. You feel like the most interesting man (or woman) in the world. And you like them for making you feel that way. As soon as you learn something about someone, ask why they do it. Or how. Or what they like about it, or what they've learned from it. Charming people ask sincere questions that make it easy to answer in a thoughtful, introspective way. They make you think, in a good way, about yourself, and in the process make you feel charming too.

7. They always pass the "server test"
(You know how you go out to eat with someone and they're nice to you... yet dismissive of the server? That's the server test.) Charming people treat everyone the same way: as deserving of respect and kindness.

8. They're great with names
Charming people remember names and even small details, often to a surprising degree. The fact they remember instantly makes us feel a little better about ourselves -- that means we, even in a small way, we matter. And that makes us feel better about the person who remembers us. Yet even though charming people remember names...

9. They never name drop
I have a friend who can somehow squeeze the fact he once met Jeff Gordon into almost any conversation. "I'm planning to stain my deck this weekend," I'll say. "Hey, I was sitting on my deck listening to the race last weekend. Jeff Gordon was leading for a while but then he had engine trouble. If I know Jeff Gordon -- and you know what, I kinda do - I bet he was pissed." (Granted I've done that too, but hopefully for a good cause.) Charming people may know cool people... but they don't talk about it. And that only adds to their charm.

10. They always let you talk more
And that makes you feel important.

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Lent 2015

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And here we are again, another start to the Lenten season and also the start to Lunar New Year to usher in the year of the Goat. This year we start lent in the festivity of Chinese New Year Eve, a night of celebration where the entire family gathers for the traditional reunion dinner feast. It was almost impossible to fast and to think that the one full meal of the day will be a glorious feast just did not feel right. Still we started lent, in preparations midst the festivity with the anointing of ashes and 40 days leading to Easter.

As far as I can recall, this is probably one of the most challenging Lent. There was an occasion or two that Ash Wednesday was actually postponed because it fell within the festive period. Not this time around with Archbishop William Goh. Over lunch with my Chaplin, I was sharing how this occasion really makes us think about our priorities in life and where our faith stands. Is our faith one of causal convenience and one that happens to suit our lifestyle?

As in every lent, I try to focus on the traditional Lenten pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Earlier this year, I have been spending some time daily on Psalms and Proverbs. Prayer requires commitment and discipline. As St John Paul II says,
“Our witness would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated his face. Prayer develops that conversation with Christ which makes us his intimate friends: Abide in me and I in you.” (Jn 15:4).
The busier we are, the more we must pray, so that we will find strength and discernment to tackle what lies ahead of us.

And as much as I am aware that effective prayer must be accompanied by fasting, I admit (time and time again) I don't do well in this department. However, I do want to take on the challenge and invitation set by Archbishop to fast on Fridays for the New Evangelisation. There goes TGIF! Perhaps with the support of the larger church community, we can through our actions and prayer, proclaim the Good News about Jesus, who is the Truth, the Way and the Life. And in the words of Archbishop William Goh,
Fasting also enables us to listen more attentively and to be more docile in obedience to the Word of God. Fasting is therefore the soul of prayer and the answer to our prayers because it shows our sincerity in asking for what we want from the Lord. Fasting bears no fruits unless it is watered by mercy and charity. More importantly, we are called to fast from our sins – especially the capital sins of pride and arrogance, envy and jealousy, anger and unforgiveness, sloth and irresponsibility, gluttony and the destruction of one’s body and soul through lust, pornography, greed and hoarding.

This lent, I pray for a deeper prayer life, a greater appreciation of the love of God, a more generous heart and with the church - a new evangelisation spirit.

Lenten Reflection - Priest, Prophet and King #1
Lenten Reflection - Priest, Prophet and King #2
Lenten Reflection - Priest, Prophet and King #3
Lenten Reflection - Priest, Prophet and King #4
Fasting, Prayer & Charity
Lenten Reflection 2009
The Start of Lent
Getting Lent Right
Getting "Ashed"
The Passion
Lent 2004
Into Lent

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