8 October 2021

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Tags: Educators, Parents, Students

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Categories: Homilies / Messages, Reflections

In school, teachers often repeat learning points so that they will sink into our heads and hopefully surface when required. As we study at home, we memorise and exercise knowledge through repetition. This also applies to muscle memory, as exemplified in the 1984 movie The Karate Kid. Musicians, dancers and athletes train for hours, going through the same motions over and over again, until they perfect their performances. Acquiring basic life skills like cooking, riding a bicycle or driving a car also entails repetition, until the actions and knowledge involved become second nature.

The same principle applies in the spiritual life. In Jewish custom, ancient prayers like the Psalms are recited every day. Catholic monks and nuns continued this tradition through reciting the Divine Office eight times a day, praying all 150 Psalms every week in the Middle Ages. As laypeople were mostly illiterate and could not learn the psalms, they began to pray 150 Hail Mary‘s in honour of the Incarnation (based on Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:42), interspersed with the Our Father and Glory Be to the Holy Trinity. These are said while contemplating the principle events in the lives of Jesus and Mary. The Rosary is a thoroughly scriptural prayer.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus cautioned us not to pray “vain repetitions as the Gentiles do” (Matthew 6:7). He was an observant Jew and would certainly have memorised the Psalms through many days of prayer; indeed, He quotes them while dying on the cross. In this Gospel, He was warning His disciples against the superstitious ways of the pagans, whose idea of prayer and sacrifice was simply to appease their capricious gods by saying the “right” words, regardless of their inner dispositions.

 

Jesus goes on to teach His disciples to repeat His personal prayer, which we know as the Our Father or the Lord’s Prayer. In this prayer, we address God intimately, identifying ourselves as His children. The Our Father contains the four cardinal points of prayer: adoration, supplication, repentance and thanksgiving. By reciting this prayer with sincerity, we learn how to speak with God the Father as Jesus does; we are drawn into the divine life of the Holy Trinity. This simple prayer is so rich that the early Church Father Origen wrote a whole treatise on it.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen reflected on the Rosary:

‘The beautiful truth is that there is no repetition in, “I love you.” Because there is a new moment of time, another point in space, the words do not mean the same as they did at another time or space.

Love is never monotonous in the uniformity of its expression. The mind is infinitely variable in its language, but the heart is not. The heart of a man, in the face of the woman he loves, is too poor to translate the infinity of his affection into a different word. So the heart takes one expression, “I love you,” and in saying it over and over again, it never repeats. It is the only real news in the universe. That is what we do when we say the Rosary, we are saying to God, the Trinity, to the Incarnate Saviour, to the Blessed Mother: “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

Each time it means something different because, at each decade, our mind is moving to a new demonstration of the Saviour’s love.’

This month of October is the Month of the Holy Rosary. Even if you cannot commit to five decades a day – which takes about fifteen to twenty minutes – try meditating on one decade a day, perhaps while travelling to school. St Louis de Monfort suggested: “In each mystery, after the word Jesus, add a word to recall and honour the particular mystery. For example: Jesus incarnateJesus sanctifying, etc. as it is indicated at each decade.”

As St Josemaría Escrivá said: “Blessed be that monotony of Hail Mary’s which purifies the monotony of your sins!” The Dominican friar Lacordaire observed: “For Christians, the first of books is the Gospel and the Rosary is actually the abridgement of the Gospel.” Deepen your relationship with God and His mother with this timeless prayer.

27 September 2021

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Tags: Educators, Parents, Students

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Categories: Homilies / Messages, Reflections

September is the month of Our Lady of Sorrows, whose feast was celebrated on the 15th of this month, the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Mother Mary, the first disciple of Christ from the moment He was incarnated in her womb, is the pre-eminent example of compassion, the ability to suffer with another person. Her Immaculate Heart was pierced by the sharp sword of sorrow as she watched her only son, her beloved God, suffer and die on Calvary.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote in Calvary and the Mass:

“Have you ever remarked that practically every traditional representation of the Crucifixion always pictures Magdalene on her knees at the foot of the crucifix? But you have never yet seen an image of the Blessed Mother prostrate. John was there and he tells in his Gospel that she stood. He saw her stand. But why did she stand? She stood to be of service to us. She stood to be our minister, our Mother.

If Mary could have prostrated herself at that moment as Magdalene did, if she could have only wept, her sorrow would have had an outlet. The sorrow that cries is never the sorrow that breaks the heart. It is the heart that can find no outlet in the fountain of tears which cracks; it is the heart that cannot have an emotional break-down that breaks. And all that sorrow was part of our purchase price paid by our Co-Redemptrix, Mary the Mother of God!”

Today is the feast of St Vincent de Paul, a saint who also exemplifies compassion, known for his charitable works. Vincent’s father paid for his education by selling the family’s oxen. His father believed that a good ecclesiastical career would enable Vincent to be financially independent and help support his family.

Educated by Franciscan friars in France, the young Fr de Paul was captured by pirates and sold into slavery (like St Patrick). His third owner had forsaken Catholicism, but Fr de Paul brought him back to the faith; they fled by night over the sea to France, from whence Fr de Paul accompanied a cardinal to Rome. From there, in 1609 Fr de Paul was chosen to go on a secret mission to the court of Henry IV, King of France. That’s when he met Queen Marguerite and became her almoner, that is, a chaplain who is in charge of distributing money to the poor.

In 1617, Fr de Paul established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity, “whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city.”

Fr de Paul organised the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. Fr de Paul reflected:

“It is not sufficient for me to love God if I do not love my neighbour. I belong to God and to the poor. God loves the poor, and consequently He loves those who have an affection for the poor. For when we love anyone very much, we also love his friends.”

The Daughters of Charity were long renowned for their work in orphanages, homes for the aged, and hospitals. They were the first active Order created for women and their particular style of dress reflected the clothes worn by peasant women in St. Vincent’s native Normandy. Yet their most important contribution, perhaps, is the fact that they were among the first professional nurses. Until Florence Nightingale came around with the Red Cross, nursing was strictly an occupation that was left to women religious and others who could share in their work. In this, the Daughters of Charity were truly pioneers.

Here is a description of them:

The Daughter of Charity is one of the sights of Paris, the city of her birth. She is more omnipresent than the gendarme. In her billowing blue gown and white headdress she walks the boulevards, the back streets, the alleys. She descends into the depths of the metro and climbs to the heights of the garret.

She is never without the huge market basket slung over one arm, and packed with the foods and medicines of her trade, nor the black cotton protect her starched white linen from the sudden rain. She moves ceaselessly, silently, seemingly unaware of the bustle and roar about her, seeking her quarry; and her quarry is always the same: the poor, the hungry poor, the sick poor, the evil poor – but always poor.

Her convent is the house of the sick, her cell the chamber of suffering, her chapel the parish church, her cloister the streets of the city or the wards of the hospital; obedience is her enclosure, the fear of God her grate, and modesty her veil.

May we learn from St Vincent de Paul and his Daughters of Charity to be truly compassionate disciples of Christ, bearing love for every person. As the hymn to his compatriot Father Nicholas Barré says:

“Touch many hearts to follow in your footsteps
To dedicate their lives to youth and poor
Drawn by the Lord to make Christ known and loved
Fill us with zeal, humility and faith
Pure love and strength and courage without fear
To keep your spirit alive in our hearts.”

Such compassion is the fruit of a truly Catholic education.

 

 

15 August 2021

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Tags: Educators, Parents, Students

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Categories: Homilies / Messages, Reflections

The name of today’s feast comes from the Latin assumptionem, meaning to be taken up or received. Mary, as the Ark of the New Covenant, having borne the Word of God, the Lawgiver and the Bread of Life in her womb, is taken up to Heaven by God upon her death (Revelation 11:19).

If the patriarchs Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) were taken up body and soul into Heaven simply for their faith, obedience and zeal, what more the Mother of God herself? As God is outside Time, the saving grace of Christ’s sacrifice could be applied backwards in time to Elijah and Enoch, just as God’s grace applied to Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

This feast reminds us of our mission, to be tabernacles of Christ like Mary. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16) and we bear the image of God (Genesis 1:27). What a glorious identity and dignity we possess as sons and daughters of God. Yet, we often fail to live up to our calling. We still suffer the weaknesses of our fallen human nature, and it is easy to forget our eternal end in the midst of the stresses and distractions of life on earth. How then can we cultivate a mindset befitting our true worth and the worth of those around us?

A rich prayer life helps us be mindful of the presence of God at all times. Traditionally, Catholics prayed “mini-prayers” or aspirations throughout the day, calling God to mind. For example: May the Holy Trinity be blessed; O Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee; my God and my all; as the Lord wills! Some Bible verses are particularly suited for this mode of prayer: “O Lord, increase our faith (Luke 17:5); my Lord and my God (John 20:28); stay with us, O Lord (Luke 24:29).”

Another prayer tool to keep walking closely with God is the Divine Office, or the Liturgy of the Hours. Just as the Jews pray the scriptures several times a day, so do Catholics (Psalms 118:164). Monks used to pray all 150 Psalms in one week. Since Vatican II, the Liturgy of the Hours was reorganised so that the laity can join in this universal prayer of the Church as well, with the psalms distributed across four weeks. Making a habit of stopping throughout the day to pray helps you re-centre yourself in God and reminds you to offer every thought, word and deed to Him for sanctification.

Assumption of the Virgin – Painting by Domenico Capriolo (1520). Photograph: Didier Descouens

About half a century ago, Catholic schools in Singapore used to pause at noon to pray the Angelus, a short prayer with three Hail Marys in honour of the Incarnation. Although this has fallen out of practice, you can always revive the tradition with a group of friends, stopping by the school chapel to honour God’s great love. By remaining close to God, one day we shall be with Him in paradise, just like Jesus and Mary.

“Jesus rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. Then Mary, who received the Word of God and observed it, followed Him: she was assumed body and soul into heaven. Now, that’s God’s hope and plan for each of us: to receive Jesus into our souls, like Mary; to be obedient to Him, like Mary; and to be taken, one day, body and soul into heaven, like Mary.”

~ Archbishop Robert Carlson

6 August 2021

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Tags: Students

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Categories: Homilies / Messages, Reflections

Today is the Solemnity of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, when Jesus gave His three closest disciples a peek at His divinity, a confirmation of His identity as the Messiah (Mark 9:2-10). Universalis notes: “The true miracle of the Transfiguration is not the shining face or the white garments, but the fact that for the rest of the time Jesus hid His glory so well.”

In his book The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis reflects:

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.

“All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”

In the stress and hurry of everyday life, absorbed with studies and other activities, it is easy to forget  that the people around us, and indeed we ourselves, are destined for, as Loki likes to say, a “glorious purpose.” God created us in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26), and Jesus came to redeem us, restoring us to that original image of God, and enabling us to participate in the life-giving love of the Holy Trinity.

By practising little habits of respect and love for one another, we can maintain a sense of our ultimate destiny, allowing God to sanctify every action and moment in our days, no matter how mundane. The Franciscans of the Immaculate greet each other with the joyful words Ave Maria!, recognising the likeness of Mary – the beloved daughter of the Father, mother of the Son, and spouse and temple of the Holy Spirit – in one another. In this way, they also remind each other of their vocation, to become ever more like Mary, bearing Christ to the world.

Similarly, in Asian cultures we are expected to greet our elders; it is considered rude if we do not, which can be difficult for a shy child – but that simple act of greeting is an acknowledgement of the other person’s presence and their human dignity. We stand to greet our teachers as they enter the classroom, respecting their authority as our educators.

Greeting our parents, siblings and friends can be a simple act of love. I used to have an exuberant classmate, Vanessa, who bounded into class every morning with a loud, “Good morning everyone!” Her cheerful greeting set a positive tone for the start of each day, and became one of the rituals which cemented our classroom atmosphere of friendship and mutual encouragement.

What other small but important habits can you think of, which can foster an environment of love and respect in your classroom or at home? How can you help the people around you get closer to Heaven?

17 July 2020

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Tags: Educators, Students

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Categories: Reflections

By Seminarian Eugene Chan, former teacher in a non-Catholic mission school.

And Jesus came and said to them, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always to the close of the age.” [Matthew 28:18-20]

If you have ever caught the “Our Catholic Light” video, one can learn of the history of how Catholic Mission Schools first arrived in Singapore. Brother Nicolas Seet (FSC) shared how Father Jean-Marie Beurel (MEP), realising the need, went back to Europe and came back with six Lasallian brothers and four Infant Jesus sisters to setup the first Catholic Mission Schools in Singapore. This was a three-month journey by boat and during the trip, one of the sisters passed away just two weeks before they could arrive in Singapore. In 1852, St Joseph’s Institution was founded and two years later, in 1854, the first Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus began. For Father Beurel, these schools were especially for the poor for he saw the value of education and thus education was provided for free for children of any background.

A century and a half later, we acknowledge their sacrifices and rejoice at the fruits of the many Catholic schools with their rich traditions. What is more, we can empathise with some of the hardships that they faced as we all live through a pandemic that perhaps has changed so much of how we live. It might be timely thus to look back and examine just what brought us to our current school of choice.

For students, some might have chosen to come to your current school. For others, perhaps the school that you are in was the alma mater of your parent. For others still, perhaps this school was simply the closest within a one or two kilometre circumference of where you stay. Regardless of the reason, now that you are in a Catholic mission school, have you ever wondered just what difference does it make? What elements of your school’s tradition have you drawn closer to? What virtues or values has your school challenged you to grow in? Compassion? Humility? Integrity? Perseverance? Faith? Care? Honesty? Service? What difference has your time in your school made for you?

 

For as much as our world is changing, somethings will always keep us in good stead. The values and principles that your school champions, these will be the keys that will help you reach for the higher things in life. For what does it matter how many more zeros you can add to your bank account, if all you spend them on is yourself? What good would it do for you if all your achievements only resulted in you becoming universally despised, with not a single person you have ever worked with willing to ever work with you again? Would there be any lasting satisfaction for achievements gained through wicked means?

Reach higher, aspire for the things that last! Your founders built your school on their relationship with Christ, may you too discover just what adventures a relationship with Him may bring you to.

For teachers, perhaps this is your first posting or maybe you have become an institution or a “legend” in your time with your current school. Perhaps you are intending to apply at the next open posting or even at the next closed posting phase. Still, it is not easy being a teacher. It is probably even harder to be a good teacher in this day and age, whereby almost every word and action that you do and say are taken to task. And yet, this is the vocation which you have responded to. One that requires countless hours almost every day of the week. (Usually thankless, sleepless and without re-imbursement.) Not to mention having to navigate the twists and turns of your own struggles. Truly, few other jobs ask for this much and at such cost. Thank you, teachers.

As St Jean-Baptiste de La Salle would put it “the ministry of teaching is about helping the young cross the threshold, from ignorance into enlightenment”. In this Information Age, the Internet and technology have changed just what it means to be ignorant. To find out about the life of St de La Salle, one need not pour through a 200 page tome, but simply watch a one hour video. Yet, what then are they to do with that information? How will they make use of it? To paraphrase the Venerable Fulton Sheen, we need to ensure that the next generation knows more than just the “price of everything but the value of nothing”. How can we empower the next generation to resist the traps of social media, of cyber-bullying or of gaming addiction?

 

This ministry can only happen with a continuity of teachers. For to combat the evil of ignorance, teachers cannot just instruct but role model. The values of respect, responsibility and resilience are not just words and videos that are used for our class contact time but real mindset changes and actions that we need to live out. Our students know the difference. The de La Salle brothers would thus show the students how to pray, not just give them the prayers, explain the Mass, not just bring them to Mass. Religious instruction was simply to know and to love God and one’s neighbour and as we definitely familiar with; your life maybe the only Gospel that someone might ever read.

We cannot give what we do not have. If we are to give the gift of faith, we need to have a relationship with the One Whom it comes from. If we do not know how to pray, how then can we expect our students to stay silent when it is time for school prayers? Let us progress along the two rails of faith and reason as a mission school community, faithful to the vision and mission of our religious founders.

Ad Dei Gloriam.

1 December 2017

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Tags: Educators, Parents, Students

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Categories: Reflections

The Christmas light-up at Orchard Road signals the start of shopping frenzy for gifts, new clothes, decorations and the like. It is such an exciting period especially when you think of your loved ones and consider what gift they may want to receive this Christmas.

Hustle and bustle before Christmas
You pull your hair out as you get your Christmas shopping list ready. The excitement rises as you hunt for the perfect gift within your budget (a tremendous feat these days). Hour after hour spent in shopping malls. Aching feet from walking. Tired hands from checking potential gifts, carrying tons of items bought and wrapping them nicely. Decorating your home with fairy lights, Christmas trees and mistletoes. After going through these intense physical and mental exercises, you are a few hundred (sometimes thousand) dollars poorer. Sorry wallet.

On Christmas day, you sadly find yourselves exhausted. The “merry” in the typical greeting “Merry Christmas” seemed to have lost its meaning. Is there a better way to prepare for Christmas?

A meaningful way to prepare for Christmas
Our Church knows our struggles. That is why it designated the period before Christmas as the Advent season, a time to meaningfully prepare ourselves for Christmas. Although there are different ways to do this, one suggestion is to pick up a copy of the Advent reflection booklet from your parish or you can download a soft copy here.

Of course, doing your usual Christmas shopping and decorations will still be a part of your pre-Christmas celebration. But you will be surprised on how truly joyful your heart is on Christmas day. A little spiritual preparation works like magic.

4 May 2017

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Tags: Parents

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Categories: Events, Reflections

By Susan Ng-Thian, parent-volunteer

The School Chaplaincy Team Formation was held over three mornings from 19-21 April. As I am currently helping with the mass set-up in my youngest child’s school, St Joseph’s Institution Junior, I was quite interested to find out how the formation will help me in my vocation.

The formation course was divided into different modules, namely:-

  1. Understanding the Eucharist & Organising Mass in School
  2. Relating in a Multi-Religious Community
  3. Connecting with the Young and Mentoring Skills

Father Edward Seah led us in prayer each morning before introducing the respective speakers. Presentations by all three speakers (Father Ignatius Yeo, Gerald Kong and Brother Colin Wee) were not only informative but were very interesting as they also shared their experiences and answered many practical questions from the participants.

Father Ignatius, Chairperson of Archdiocesan Liturgy Commission, brought us through the history of salvation to show us the historical development of the Eucharist. He also explained the structure of the mass, all the way from the time of the Apostles, during the Persecution right up to the present day. He even explained in details the various parts of the Mass. These gave us a better understanding of the meaning behind the rituals and what is appropriate for the celebration.

In Module 2, Mr Kong, Executive Secretary of Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Interreligious Dialogue, explained to us how important it is be in constant dialogue with our brothers and sisters of other faiths, given the multi-religious nature of our country. Something new I learnt was that there are 10 official religions recognized in Singapore!

Brother Collin’s segment covered how we can connect with the young. He shared many anecdotes, based on his wealth of experience as Counsellor and Director of Hope House, working with many youths and young adults. His highly animated sharing had us breaking into laughter throughout his session.

All in all, I enjoyed the whole course tremendously. The information gained can and will definitely help in my vocation as a parent volunteer involved in mass set-up and in the way I serve. I would strongly recommend that anyone, whether you are a teacher or a Parent Volunteer involved in catechism in a Catholic School to register for this course whenever it is offered.

16 April 2017

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Tags: Educators, Parents, Students

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Categories: Reflections

By Errol Chang

When ice melts and green shoots spring from the ground, a very visible sign of change in season and new life can prompt us to reflect on the changes in our lives. Spring therefore, lends itself nicely to indicate the change from Lenten to Easter season in our liturgical calendar, where the resurrection is the pivot of this change. However, living in Singapore where there is no autumn and winter, spring is non-existent. Can this mean that there is no change in our lives and there is no resurrection?

Like any other believers, we had journeyed through Lent by praying, almsgiving and fasting. As teachers, we might have additionally prayed for our students, been charitable to our students and fasted from angry words during our Lenten journey. At the end of the Lenten season, is there a resurrection for us teachers?

Empty tomb – A sign of resurrection
The Easter Sunday Gospel reveals to us an empty tomb rather than a greeting from Jesus or revelation from the angels. The emptiness speaks volume and can throw us into disbelief – in either the positive or the negative sense of the word.

If by faith, the empty tomb prompts us to greater belief and conviction, what’s next? With resurrection, dawns a new beginning and new world of opportunities. With the resurrection, we have somehow landed ourselves a golden opportunity for personal growth and burst of energy to do good things. So what do we do? Let’s look at the Gospel account to see if we can emulate Jesus in terms what he did after resurrection.

Folded cloths – Stay healthy
The Gospel informs us that the disciples saw that the cloth which covered Jesus’ head was rolled up. If the body was stolen as some would claim, a thief would not take time to fold this piece of cloth. I have wondered why Jesus would have done that upon his resurrection. Is it because the blessed Virgin had trained him so well as a child that he instinctively tidies up his bed upon waking from sleep or in this case, from death?

At the same time, I wonder if it is just a simple exercise to get his newly resurrected body going, like how we would warm up before doing heavier exercises, especially after three days of lying dead stiff. Maybe with this, comes our first learning point applicable to a teacher. As we begin each day before dawn, do we take time to check on our physical condition before we go about our day? To be of service to others, it is important for us to be at tip top physical condition in order that we can be the best condition when we teach our students. I invite all of us this Easter, to start having a healthy regime of sleeping on time and staying healthy with sufficient exercise so that our physical body can support our mission of teaching.

Unfolded linen – Reflect on priorities
Other than the cloth which covered his head, there was another set of linen which was lying on the ground. Jesus, why did you fold your head covering but not the other linen? Is it because of priorities? Given that Jesus was crowned with thorns, his head coverings would have been heavily soaked with his blood and this makes this piece of cloth very important under Jewish tradition.

Here could be our second learning point as a teacher, check on our priorities. As a teacher who has to plan lessons, put together learning resources, carry out administrative duties, look to the needs of the children entrusted to our care, run core-curriculum activities and many more, we must learn to prioritise. If we decide to fold everything, we might end up just going through the motion and doing tasks after tasks, thereby losing our vision of why we teach in the first place. Yes, everything we do is important for our children, but are there some things which we need to pay greater attention to first in order to benefit our students more? The invitation is there for us to reflect on the priorities of our many tasks as a teacher, given the limited hours we have in a day. If we can prioritise, maybe our tasks will become more meaningful and our work more purpose-filled, rather than just routine running through the day from task to task.

Moved stone – A whole new world
Now that Jesus has resurrected from the dead, warmed up his body by folding his head covering and prioritised but not folding everything at once, what next? He surely did not stay in the tomb and sulk in despair over being rejected by nearly everyone as the Messiah. Instead, he is ready to go at it… again!

Here’s our third invitation this Easter as a teacher. After some self-care in the first learning point and self-reflection of priorities in the second, it is time to move the stone and go out into the world to be of service to others. Armed with the first two, the third hopefully, is not just about going out to earn our keep by running from task to task. In the spirit of Easter, it is to go out into the world with the belief and zeal of the resurrection. It is in this spirit and eyes of faith that the ordinary can transform into the extraordinary, that sadness can turn to joy and that death can give birth to new life. Would our colleagues and students who meet us feel more empowered, enlivened or resurrected after meeting us?

No spring? It’s alright, resurrection springs forth!
So coming from a place where there is no spring and no change in the weather, is there a change from Lent to Easter? Is there a resurrection for us teachers in Singapore? The possibility is definitely there and the answer depends on each of our responses. So for this Easter, I wish you a Happy Selective Cloth Folding and Stone Moving Easter! May these Easter invitations help us become better teachers.

5 January 2017

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Tags: Educators

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Categories: Reflections

By Melissa Dragon

As the year 2016 comes to a close, many are seizing the best bargains at “post-Christmas” sales in the malls. Just this afternoon, as I was at the supermarket purchasing some drinks for tonight’s Christmas party, I noticed that the Christmas carols which had been filling the air since October have already been replaced by Chinese New Year music.

For many, 26 December is the end of the Christmas season. For faithful Catholics, it’s only the beginning. Yes, while others are winding down their Christmas celebrations and gearing up for Chinese New Year, we are just getting started.

Even though the Christmas season begins at the tail end of the calendar year, it is a fresh start in many ways – especially for teachers in Singapore.

The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ to us marks a new beginning for the human race as God has come to earth to bring salvation to all mankind. The Catholic Church officially observes the season of Christmas from midnight of 24 December right until the Baptism of the Lord, which is celebrated on 9 January 2017. This means we have 16 whole days to celebrate Christmas.

For teachers, it is wonderful that we are blessed with the opportunity to bring Christmas into the classroom with us at the start of the new academic year.

While Christmas reminds us of the Infant born to us to fulfil His mission of love and salvation for the human race, it is also a special reminder of the personal mission of love to those who have been called and chosen to fulfil their vocation as educators to the young.

After the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, our Lord Jesus as the Infant King revealed Himself first and foremost to the lowly shepherds in His humble birthplace in Bethlehem.

“He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly.” – Luke 1:52

Let us remember, then, as we step into the classroom at the start of the new academic year, to bring the incarnation of Jesus to the last, the lost and the loneliest among our students – those whom God Himself has entrusted to our care. These students may have already experienced poverty in their hearts, lost hope in finding joy, peace and friendship among their peers, are lagging behind in their studies and have lost hope in getting back on track to succeed academically, or come from broken homes and misbehave as a response to their brokenness and need for attention.

As we step into the classroom of familiar and often unfamiliar faces, let us, as teachers, be living signs of the true meaning of Christmas to the “lowly” ones, to whom the Lord has often chosen to offer His presence and friendship.

Therefore, “give a shepherd’s care to the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, as God wants; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it. Do not lord it over the group which is in your charge, but be an example for the flock. When the chief shepherd appears, you will be given the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:2-4).

May you and your students have an especially blessed Christmas and a meaningful journey in 2017!

23 November 2016

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Tags: Educators, Parents, Students

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Categories: Reflections, Saints

By Bro Nicholas Seet, FSC

Nicolas Leclerq was born in 1745 in the northern coast of France in Boulogne-sur-Mer Boulogne, a major port. His family was well-off and dealt in food and wines. He studied in the same school as his father which was managed by the La Salle Brothers. As a young boy, he was fascinated by the lives of “God’s heroes” which he preferred to adventure stories. He finished school at sixteen and began his work apprenticeship hoping to be in the family business. He had written “I want to be like my teachers, the Brothers, following them in their piety, their austerity and their service to young people.”

So, he joined the Brothers at the age of 21 and took the name Brother Solomon. He started teaching at the age of 23. He sometimes had classes of up to 130 pupils, to whom he taught “reading, writing and calculus” Some of his classes included difficult teenagers, sent to the school for re-education. By the age of 27, he made final vows and later became Director of Novices. At the age of 32, he was in charge of a big educational complex, with around 1,000 students, including 150 “difficult” boys committed by the courts. By then his main work was that of administration.

Later, he was sent to Melun to teach mathematics in the teacher training centre for the Brothers. His good sense, simplicity, discretion and great ability were evident to his students, who appreciated his intelligence and skill in synthesising things and admired his perfect handwriting. In 1787, he was appointed Secretary to the Superior General, Bro Agathon.

With the French Revolution, like many of the Brothers, he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new state. Religious congregations were abolished, and the Brothers’ schools were closed. They were driven from their houses and reduced to total poverty. In his last letter, dated 15 August 1792, Brother Solomon wrote “We bear with joy and gratitude the crosses and afflictions that come our way. As for me, I do not seem to be worthy to suffer for Him, since up to now nothing bad has happened to me, while there are so many confessors of the faith who are in difficulty.” A few hours later, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Carmelite Convent in Paris. Having been interrogated during the night, he spent his final days without any food.

On 2 September, he together with others refused to take the oath to the Civil Constitution. After that, they were taken out into the garden and were met by their killers who killed them with swords and guns. He was beatified in October 1926 by Pope Pius XI and by Pope Francis on 16 October 2016.

For more, check out the Catholic News’ coverage of the celebration of Brother Solomon’s canonization in Singapore here.