Will vs. Work

Greg makes the distinction between the works of God and God’s will in this article.

Ora et Labora.

If you’re from a certain secondary school in Singapore (and even if you’re not actually), then this phrase might sound familiar to you! It is Latin for “pray and labor”. In actual fact, it is more than just a simple school motto. It was first written in the Rule of St Benedict for instructions to monks. It’s been a saying that has always spoken powerfully to me (more than simply because of nostalgia though I admit a part of it comes from that!). And even more so in this musing that I’ve had. But to understand where I’m coming from, we need to rewind a bit!

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A letter to Chris

Chris writes a letter to himself regarding burnout, disillusionment and the importance of self-care.

Dearest Chris from 2007,

Are you aware that the growing resentment that you’re feeling in your heart — that gnawing perception that you’re being used and abused by this ministry; that you’re only wanted when there is a problem to solve and when someone else is having a problem— is reflective of months (perhaps even years!) of pent-up frustration? Have you not realised that you’ve neglected your own needs for quite a while now? Don’t give me the “it is in giving that we receive” narrative that you have so often used to justify your supposed altruistic and selfless actions in this ministry. Stop trying so hard! Stop trying so hard to please everyone around you. Stop trying to cater to everybody’s needs whilst neglecting your own. That really is an impossible feat! No water can be drawn from an empty well; you cannot give what you do not have.
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The Legends of the Saints: A Reflection

Garrett shares about his love for the stories of the early Saints

One of the biggest blessings I’ve ever received in my life is a father who loved telling stories. It started with comics. He would tell me the origin stories of various superheroes from Spider-Man to Green Lantern, as I’d listen with rapt attention. But eventually, he started telling me stories of the Saints as well. There was, for example, St. Maximillian Kolbe, who so heroically gave his life for a fellow inmate in Auschwitz, and the three children in Fatima who received a visit from Our Lady. These tales were every bit as exciting to me as the comic book ones, and to me those Saints were every bit the heroes Batman and Superman were.

So having always loved the stories of the Saints, I eventually started to realize that some of the stories actually seemed to give them superpowers. From the ability to talk to animals to surviving grievous injuries, the further back you went it seemed like these stories grew more and more incredible. Then you start noticing strange things like the story of Saint Christopher – was his name literally ‘Christ-bearer’ even before his conversion? Were these stories true?

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Why Do I … Believe in a Holy Church?

Greg shares more about the blemished history of the Church and why he continues to believe in the Holiness of the Church

Now, I consider myself a bit of a gamer. (I say a bit because to be fair, I only play games during my semester breaks heh not enough to be considered a full-fledged gamer methinks) One of the games that I’ve always found incredibly exciting is Assassin’s Creed. I mean it’s hard for me to hate on a game that essentially allows you to be like a medieval ninja of sorts. However, one thing that’s always bothered me is how corrupt the Church seems to be portrayed in the games and now, in the movie. The worst part? It’s true. No, not the plot of the game but rather, the existence of corrupt and fallible Popes and bishops. Even now, the Church is facing scandals and accusations towards priests. How can we profess that the Catholic Church is holy when clearly, it doesn’t seem like it? For me, it is always a good reminder to look at our first Pope: St Peter.

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Turbulence

Chris draws some parallels between spiritual growth and his (negative) encounters with turbulence.

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:37-40)

I hate turbulence. Ever so often, a sinking feeling of dread and ambivalence surrounds me whenever I see the seatbelt sign light up and I hear the pilot’s steady voice explaining the current plight of the aircraft. Everyone quickly scrambles to take his or her seats and there’s an unmistakable tension in the air. During such moments, I seem to go through a ritual: I buckle up my seatbelts, compose myself mentally and psychologically, furiously grab my seat and brace myself for an unpredictable roller-coaster ride. And as the contents of my stomach tussle to make a second appearance on the seat in front of me, I pray as hard as I can. Turbulence is something far beyond my control. And that very lack of control scares the daylights out of me; it generates greater fear and insecurity on my part. Yet every flight that I have taken seemed to have some kind of turbulence, every journey that I have embarked upon seemed to have some form of challenging and potentially destructive force, threatening to push me off course, away from my destination and further from my endpoint.

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A letter to Garrett

Garrett writes a letter to himself regarding personal growth and the importance of trusting God when leading a campus ministry.

Author’s note: This is a little spiritual writing exercise we decided to undertake as our first article – a letter to our past selves just prior to undertaking a ministry role. Therefore, I decided to write to the Garrett of 2014, right before I took the reins as President of my university Catholic community. 

A funny coincidence was that I wrote this letter just prior to serving another year in the committee. Though I am currently serving in a different role, I find the advice I gave myself still rather poignant, and just as hard to put into practice. I guess it’s true that some lessons take a while to internalize! Nevertheless, I hope that if you ever served or are considering serving in any ministry, that you’ll find that this letter resonates with you. God bless!

Dear Garrett,

Congrats on your appointment as President! Perhaps the best way I can start this letter is to affirm you for following God’s will in your life. You saw all the signs, and you made that decision to follow accordingly. Not everyone can say that. But more importantly, that feeling you have that things are gonna spiral out of control real fast? Yeah, about that.. Buckle up, kiddo. You’re in for some rough sailing ahead.

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