Monday, November 18, 2013

A sure way to holiness - deep co-operation and seeking our deepest calling everyday in contemplation

Before you, my dear reader begin to read this blog entry, may I pray with you?  It will set the correct tone for not just a reading, but hopefully, a truly attentive and prayerful reading.  If you have not really prayed for the day, make this your offering to the Lord.

Heavenly Father, open not just my eyes but my heart that is your doorway to my soul.  Let these following few minutes spent in reading the honest reflections speak words of truth that I will hear without prejudice, without judgment and most importantly, with compassion and charity.  If I am in a place where distractions abound, allow me to still be aware that what I am doing now is a good and holy action, and always let me be aware of my deepest calling in life, which is to live fully as your child.  Amen.

Thank you.  It is without doubt that every one of us encounters many different challenges, difficulties, successes and failures almost every day of our lives.  The more we are ‘loaded’ with our targets and work, fill our days with the various important activities on hand, and do our best to fulfill the needs of the home, hearth and family, the more easily it is to forget that there is a fundamental ‘target’ that all of us baptized Christians should be constantly aiming for as we live out our lives.  That calling is that we become fulfilled as God’s living, sacramental presence in the world not only to all whom we encounter, but that we are fully aware of this great and noble calling that comes from the grace of God.

That we love God first before anything and anyone else becomes then the "Gold Standard" of correct Christian living.  Yes, even for married couples.  Their love for each other and their families will only be truly healthy if each of them loves God first before their love for one another in marriage.  What is the fruit of this kind of living in full awareness?  It is undoubtedly that we will become a sign for the world around us that there truly is another way to live – 'no dog eat dog world', no living for the ego, no selfishness, no fear (except for a great and holy fear of the Lord).  There will also be a undiminished need to stand for justice, to speak the truth and to accept the consequences of living in such a freedom that threatens the world and it’s false-hood.

Getting to live like this is always going to be a challenge unless one has the key.  The tradition of the Church has always been that giving ourselves over to deep contemplation and reflection on a regular and daily basis is that key, where we enter into a meditative space to ponder anew over and over again what our deepest calling in life is.  There, at the heart of our very selves we meet the heart of God who reminds us, shows us and gives us the courage to not only admit to our falseness, but more importantly, to repent of acknowledged false living where often our false selves had over-powered our true and authentic selves.  When we emerge from this kind of genuine prayer, slowly but surely, we will begin to live as if we were spotlights of God’s presence in the world, which is our deepest present calling in life.  Why present?  Because we aren’t dead yet, but are on the way to the life of Beatitude in Heaven.  We are all on-the-way.

To transform the world (the salvation of souls) and to show to unbelievers that God is real and that we have a Living God who loves and cares for us despite our difficulties and challenges in life.  That’s what we are all called to do as baptized Christians.  It’s also a call to make the world holy.  But as I live quietly in the confines of my convalescence in safety of my home, and go deep into daily contemplation each early morning, it came to me that not all priests and religious have the desire to co-operate with God’s grace to transform their parish to real places of holiness.  I somehow hesitate to 'share' this revelation given to me, because I know I can be misunderstood to somehow show myself as 'holier-than-thou', which is not the case.  Something mystical is happening to me in my silent healing.  

Lately, it was truly revealed to me that there are very many good administrator-priests, even good pastoral priests who do very good ‘work’, priests who have been specially chosen by the Bishop to assist him (including those in his Executive Committee) who have all very good administrative skills, in the arduous task of running the entire Archdiocese of Singapore, but there are also priests who are very lacking in awareness that their great administrative skills are actually confusing the laity, and are not leading their flock to real intimacy with the Lord, leading to a truly holy parish.  Some are so interested in a numbers game, where they pride themselves with the large numbers that show up for the Masses which they celebrate are attracting to the parish. Little do they realise that some of the policies they put into place totally confuse the parishioners.  Somehow, they have lost their hunger for true holiness for the entire parish.  Sometimes it is their ego that causes them to add unnecessary words to the Liturgy, causing another layer of confusion to the parishioners.  What is their reason for adding their own words to the Liturgy?  Apparently, for many, it is to make the Mass more 'personal'.  The Mass IS God's encounter with His people!  How more 'personal' can your own shallow little words make the Mass?  Isn't this, dear priest, one's ego talking?  How does the parish become a truly holy place then? 

I know, it looks as if I am judging my fellow priest, and that I seem to have a certain ‘advantage’ over them as I am living silently as a hermit at home for at least a year.  Yes, it is a gift from the Lord to be able to be ‘removed’ from the parish setting, but in my contemplation, it has truly been revealed to me that if every priest realizes how effective he can be to truly lead his parish to great holiness, there will be a chosen people, a royal priesthood, God’s special possession (1 Peter 2:9).  What is the laity's role in this?  Two main stumbling blocks are apparently in front of each lay person facing such challenges, and no lay person is spared.  Firstly, there is scandal.  If you, a member of the laity are scandalised and can only complain and gossip about this or that priest to your friends, you are not doing a holy deed to help that priest.  Secondly, pray for your priest if he is in any way causing you to resort to this uncharitable and unholy act.  Love him still, offer Masses for him, lift him up to the Lord often.  But do not gossip and hope that others also dislike or disdain him.  He may have lost his motivation, and he needs a grace to recover his first holy intention as a seminarian, a young and enthusiastic priest, and he must have had a true quest for holiness at one point in his life.

Not every priest gives of himself to a daily holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, which is very much a gateway to true holiness.  No one can doubt this.  Not every priest prays the daily rosary for the souls in purgatory.  Not every priest is interested in true holiness either of himself, or his parish.  I felt so disconsolate when this was revealed to me in my contemplative hour.  But I also do know that this is a grace that was specially given to me and for this I am truly grateful to God.  It does seem that he wants me to be a certain 'conduit' but I am not certain how this is going to be worked out from my little 'corner' of my home.  God has his ways, and I am open to His grace.

So, I am praying at each Mass that I celebrate quietly on my own that more and more priests respond more and more positively to God’s deep calling to him to a life of real holiness.  There are many resistances to this, and the priest who is genuinely interested in becoming a conduit to the deep holiness of his flock will face loads of temptation and distractions.  He needs to overcome his own fragile ego, and if no one prays for him, it is going to be so easy for him to continue life ‘as is’, and there will be very little, if at all any real holiness of the parish and his flock. 

In the end, it is really about a holy co-operation, where the holy priest disregards his ego plans, and the laity truly live out their baptismal calling to the full.  This is what heaven-on-earth will look like, and we must strive for this, with God’s grace.  Where is your part as a baptised lay person?  You form the other very important part of the holiness equation where you pray for the desire to truly live the life of Grace.  It is not that you are second to the priest.  We are all priests through our Baptisms, and it is just that each of us have different roles.  No one better than the other.  No one higher or more important the the other.

Finally, apart from all that I have intimately shared in this blog, there really is nothing that is more important in life, if we are truly honest with ourselves.  All the other things that we face will simply become 'mere commentary'. Only attending to them in our lives will just mean that we are 'coasting along' in life, and have shallow, superficial earthly hope that we are just coping.  Is that kind of living truly fulfilling?  I think you know the answer.

May I ask for your continued prayers for me because I know that exposing my prayer life in this way will also mean that I will be misjudged especially by my brother priests.  I mean them no ill, no harm, I do not judge them, and only have their best at heart.  But we all know how evil works.  It must never have the upper hand in our shared quest for holiness and true transformation.


  1. Just wanted to share this ... it been running around in my head since i read it several days ago...

    In The Dialogue, Chapter 64 Catherine of Siena outlines what the Heavenly Father taught her about love of God and love of neighbor.

    “...I ask you to love Me with the same love with which I love you. But for Me you cannot do this, for I loved you without being loved. Whatever love you have for Me you owe Me, so you love Me not gratuitously but out of duty, while I love you not out of duty but gratuitously. So you cannot give me the kind of love I ask of you. This is why I have put you among your neighbours: so that you can do for them what you cannot do for Me – that is, love them without any concern for thanks and without looking for any profit for yourself. And whatever you do for them I will consider done for Me....”

  2. Praise the Lord for your healing, Fr Luke, & thanks for your honest & gutsy post today. Mother Mary once allowed me to feel her intense sorrow over people who turn away from her Son & over her beloved priests who have lost their way to Him. Since then, I felt a need to pray for conversions, vocations & holy priests. Priests are human beings chosen & anointed to be "another Christ". The Christ & the human ego in them (as in everyone) are like a see-saw: which is increasing? which is decreasing? The sacred & secular is also like a see-saw: how much of the sacred is imprinted on the secular space? how much of worldliness has nested in the ecclesial space in the name of relevancy to the times?

    I believe the Lord who has given you revelations will also prompt you how & when & to whom to communicate the revelations & prompt you to test everything with your SD. No one asks to be a prophet (just look at the scriptural prophets!) but when you grow in awareness & suspicion that you're being made one, blessed are you! Have you read 'The Elijah Task" by John & Paula Sandford (from amazon books)...

  3. Dear Fr Luke, Ave Maria. Is the Lord prompting you to live a vocation within a vocation of comtemplation?

  4. The church is primarily a spiritual organization.
    We have to question ourselves whether the church is increasingly becoming of the world.

    The Mass is where one can worship and meet the Divine liturgically –
    it is a Holy Sacrifice, never meant to be a religious extravaganza.

    The spiritual path is basically a path of ego reduction – so that God can be God in our lives.
    It is a path which concerns our souls.

    The role of priests and religious is to journey with our souls –
    helping us encounter his immense Love and experience his Grace whilst on earth.


  5. Don't worry Fr Luke Fong, will be keeping you in prayers. GOD is Powerful, HE keeps us safe.

  6. Hi Fr Luke,"May God's Holy Angels protect you from the evil one and use you as His Vessel to proclaim the Divine Message to the world at large.:)

  7. Dear frLuke, as i read your message and writing now, yes message and not reflection as i believed it is the Lord who speaks through you, my heart is filled with (i cannot describe the feeling) and my eyes teared. i thanked the Lord for your courage and faithfulness in prayer. As i was beginning to feel the discouraging spirit, the Lord has answered my prayer and spoken through you. Yes Lord, i will as what frLuke taught.

    And thank you frLuke, for being His instrument. With Christ's love,


  8. “The tradition of the Church has always been that giving ourselves over to deep contemplation and reflection on a regular and daily basis is that key, where we enter into a meditative space..............’’

    During my younger days, prayer was considered by most to be the centrepiece of the spiritual life and the clergy, religious and even lay-people like us were expected and encouraged to be conversant with the various forms of prayer........ liturgical as well as devotional prayers, formal as well as spontaneous, contemplative as well as charismatic. Yet – in its pure sense these are not actually prayers................( or so we were told much later at a Prayer Seminar) - for the heart of prayer is an encounter between two subjects - God and the self. One has to consciously desire and attempt to encounter God in mutual recognize a presence, an indwelling for prayer to take place. So the Rosary, Divine Mercy chaplets and Stillness are the “set-inductors” sometimes very necessary to help to prepare and put one into the mode for prayer – (the choice of which depends on individual inclinations.)

    It was the many episodes in the Gospels about Jesus seeking solitude/his time-out - amidst his busy ministry of teaching and healing that drew my attention to the necessity to carve out a time and space in my daily living for this God-and-me encounter. It is not easy to spend quiet time by myself for like Jesus in the desert, my inner desert is likewise inhabited by wild beasts. Though I still cannot fully understand myself, my life or God, I believe that during this Stillness, there is a positive step towards “integration” of self as opposed to “alienation” of self- especially so with the overemphasis on ‘externals’ ( prestige/status, possessions, power etc) to the detriment or neglect of the ‘internals’ ( detachment, humility, surrender) in our world today.

    I have found solitude to be both a requirement and surprisingly, a benefit of prayer, and this stillness opens me to a greater awareness and appreciation of the reality of God and His mysterious presence. These times can be seen as the “quiet hillsides of our lives” where Love seeps through every silent moment and one can re-emerge..............sustained and strengthened, re-focused and re-energized in love – to share Him with others. So, yes – I would recommend this solitude with the Lord not only to the clergy and religious but to all disciples of the Lord. Thank you for an interesting post, Fr.

    God bless you, Fr


  9. Dear Fr Luke, thank you for opening your heart up to have these elements of your inner life with all of us.

    'Never apologize, never explain'. I mention them because a scenario of concern exists where, despite pressure from certain quarters to justify yourself, you reserve the right to refrain from doing so. However, some things when fixed, are better then they were before. Think of how muscle fibres torn through weight lifting become bigger and stronger than they were once a repair process has completed. Sometimes, for something to improve, it needs to be broken and repaired first.

    We need to be shown a mirror capable to revealing how we appear inside. Our ability to see with as much clarity as we can of our outward appearance, our secrets which we conceal from others, the 'real' us. Yet a discovery (some mystical) shifts, and something inside you that creates a good 'work' connection with God.

    Thank you for your awesome sharing.

    May God Bless You.

    T. Dior