Friday, October 9, 2009

Moved and Shaken

I am humbled by requests for my reflections and homilies to be made available on the expanse of the world wide web by my friends and parishioners. I realized that I could not just say ‘let me think about it’ and leave it at that. I had a few valid concerns, one of them being that sites like these are usually reserved for the cream, the erudite and the esoteric. Spiritual greats like Ronald Rolheiser, Robert Barron, Paul Coutinho or Joyce Rupp are the ones who have columns that people are interested in. But I am only a priest of 8 years of ministry experience! Wouldn’t that be considered over-confident, pompous or presumptuous at best? I brought this to prayer, and the peace in my heart prompted me to give this a try, and see if it works out. If not, and no one is really interested in it, it will die a natural death, and I can safely say that I gave it my best shot. So, here it is, the start of something that I only wish to offer up to God as something that can give him the ultimate glory, or as my Jesuit brothers say “ad majorem Dei gloriam”.

I have just completed the first part of my movement from the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the parish of Our Lady, Star of the Sea. That’s the physical move. These are two parishes in the island republic of Singapore, and though only about 25 minutes of driving time separates the two, I have come to realize that any kind of movements affect us in ways small and big. Living out of my packing boxes still, rifling through stacks of clothing to finally find that the one I really wanted was in another box altogether, seems to a daily affair. I long to be settled in properly as soon as possible so that my life can be ordered, organized and tidy. Bringing this ‘untidiness’ up to God in prayer and meditation set me thinking - is getting things “ordered, organized and tidy” really what life is about? I realised then that apart from a physical move, there's a spiritual move that one is invited to address.

There’s a part of my family that upholds cleanliness and orderliness, and I’ve inherited it in my genes. Though it can be a virtue, oftentimes, I sit back and wonder if it could be the very thing that prevents me, and many other compulsively disordered people from “living in the moment”? Far from being perfect, tidy, orderly and organized, surely life should be seen as more than only about making sense of the messiness that most of us find ourselves in.

After all, most people I know do not have the luxury of getting things all ordered and tidy and organized before their ‘work’ starts. Appreciating this reality in my life is akin to the kind of counsel that I have offered many of the faithful who walk into my life and my office, seeking some sort of “direction” in their lives to get rid of their mess and clutter, which come in so many different forms. As I pray with them, guiding them and directing them, they often get to see the truth that getting out of the mess and getting things “perfected” is not the solution. Rather, it is the discovery of finding what it is that God is drawing them to, or drawing out of them, from the situation of ‘messiness’ that allows them a new insight to life, and ultimately, God.

This messiness could be an illness, or a relationship crisis, or a work-related issue. If our spiritual lives are entered into some depth via these often unpleasant and ‘untidy’ situations that we find ourselves in, perhaps I too, should be challenging myself to see what God is telling me about my present ‘disorganized’ situation that I find myself in, in this new assignment of mine.

I have titled this, my first entry as “Moved and Shaken”, not because of the recent earthquakes in Sumatra, but because the term ‘movers and shakers’ in the corporate world refer often to the bigwigs who create ripples by the decisions that they make at the top, moving and shaking all those under them. I certainly don’t count myself anywhere close to being a mover nor a shaker, but in this movement of mine from one parish to another, I am rather, “moved and shaken”, and in the process, I am invited to see once again my love for God and his people being further purified.

Sisters and brothers, if this struggle is something that resonates with your lives, join me in my slowness, in lifting this up to God, and declaring “ad majorem Dei gloriam”.


  1. Hi Fr!

    this was a really good idea! seems more personable somehow. its been an enlightening read so far. looking forward to more posts!:)

    Kimberley:) (YC, IHM)

  2. Dear Fr L,

    I look forward to be moved and shaken by your blog. Thank you for opening this doorway of spirituality for me to discover God.

    For the greater glory of God.


  3. About bloody time?!
    We look forward to being shaken and stirred if not moved and shaken by your ruminations!
    Congratulations on this!


  4. Dearest Padre, thanks for starting this blog, and sharing with us your reflections and struggles. God be with you.

  5. How very true - ripple movement of the secular world is from top down - so weighty the pressure; - but yr take on e'quake may be closer to the truth - for it is from the "epicentre" of our being/our rootedness in Christ, that the ripples radiate outwards ( horizontally/spatially) to touch others .....bringing change & transformation. So if you're stirred, shaken & moved -then it is a good sign - we await with abated breath :=)Thks for the insight !

  6. Who says you have to be a Rolheiser or Barron to have a blog? The Rises of Singapore all have theirs in perfect Singlish what!

    Besides how many can relate to those esoteric gurus? we need our very own mediator with the Almighty above, one who can break open His Word and weave it into the fabric of our lives.
    Kopi See Kosong Ping.

  7. finally, you decided to let go your fears and jumped into the deep! ;-)


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  9. Thanks for initiating this blog to keep connected. As you “moved and were shaken”, those of us left behind felt its trem.ours. We too are trying to cope with the changes in the parish. I appreciate your generousity in sharing your “crosses” and thus encouraging us to face ours.

    In Christ's love, FHM

  10. Dear Fr L, What took you so long to start this blog? From the eastern part of SIngapore, we really miss your homilies. Jagar direh biak biak dari north of Singapura! God Bless! C

  11. Dear Fr Luke,

    Thank you for starting the blog and sharing your homilies with all your parishioners, and ex-parishioners.

    I couldn't agree more with you....that is, how many of us are held slaves to things/routines/obsessions, etc... which are often causing us to live "un-Christian" lives. For example, I like clean and neat homes, which is often not the case at our home. I then find myself nagging and shouting at family members, and feeling unhappy that our helper seems to always overlook the dust under the bed, the lizard droppings around the house, etc. So, now, I try to let go (ie "give it to God"). I have basically chosen to have a harmonious family life, over, a not-so-perfect household.


  12. Dear Fr Luke,

    Kudo for starting this blog. I appreciate your sharing of your feelings and thoughts with us, a move that not many priests and religious is willing to take for fear of exposing too much of their vulnerability to others. By revealing your inner self to us, it helps me to truly understand your struggles and challenges as a priest. If God ever chooses at least one of my sons to be His servant, I will be able to give him my fullest support, love and encouragement to persevere amidst the messiness of priestly life. As Mother Teresa said "God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful."


  13. YAY BLOG! :D
    will still be able to get your insights on happenings all around. :) thanks for the effort to set it up!

    ivy (ihmyc)

  14. Hi Fr Luke

    Thank you for sharing your insights. Your sharing have somehow inspired me. Cleanliness and orderlinesss are characterisitics I carry on my shoulder since the day I was born. I have always been bothered by these especially when those around me can live with messiness. Having read your insights, I have decided not to be too concerned with these but accept it instead of faulting others.

    I am looking forward to more spiritual insights from your blog.

    Thank you Fr.

  15. Hi Fr,

    Thank you for open this blog to keep us connected and be inspired by your words. Having been on canoes, boats, ferries & cruises, there was nothing can compare my unforgettable experience inside such a big ship, feeling so rocky and choppy by giant human waves and rapid emotional currents. But we believe God will calm the sea and shine the light to people with you.

    Peace be with you always!

  16. Dear Fr Luke,

    Brought a tear to my eye as I read your "moven & shaken" sharing.. and am at a public place using its many eyes around..wondering why's this girl tearing up..haha..

    Your current "disorganized" situation made me look at(reflect on) myself, who always seem to try to get things right, even the littlest of things..that I do miss out on alot of the 'presents' right in front of me..

    It's a constant struggle for me and Im glad your sharing made conscious again, my personal reminders on living life happy..esp in times of turbulence(whoever caused it)..when we scramble to get things in equilibrium once again.. to live and let live.. which seems to make me life..

    Life's really too short to keep focussing on getting things right and perfectly in order.. and in turn, lose the essence of the presence of God.
    We often forget this.. I speak for myself..=P

    Anyway, I'm glad you'll be sharing here..and am looking forward to reading more of your insightful and humourous, sometimes corny cheesy jokes and puns & of course homilies/sharings..=P

    Though I'm not much of a blogger, I will make it a point to read your blog..

    I'm sure you'll find your footing in your current disequilibrium soon enough..=)

    God Bless,

  17. Dear Father Luke,

    Thanks for this blog post, it makes me reflect upon my life and discover that every trial in life is actually a lesson where someone gets to know more about oneself and to be a better person.

    Trials used to be those things which i pray not to have to undergo but i'm beginning to learn to embrace such messiness in life as it makes life that more interesting, that more humane.

    Anyway, i would just want to tell you that i really appreciate your posts and it never NEVER FAILS to stop me in my tracks and to reflect more fully about my life journey.

    Thanks and God Bless!
    Stephen Lim

  18. Thanks Fr Luke for making available your insights and musings. Many people (especially me)will benefit enormously from reading them. God bless you!


  19. Dear Fr Luke, we do miss all your homilies and all those pointers that we used to bring home but God has to be fair, we have to share this with other churches and parishioners. It is great that you have started this blog so that we can continue to share in these reflections and be enriched. Much thanks and keep them coming. God bless, Hilda

  20. Father Luke thank you for making your "homily takeaways" available online so that your parishioners near and far can continue to "da bao" (cantonese) from you and feed our famished souls. Continue to feed your lambs. Cheers!

  21. dear Father Luke, this is a belated "goodbye" note to you. When i heard that you were leaving IHM, i was disheartened for myself and for you - that you and the parishioners have just warmed up to each other and yet Archie is taking you away. I want to express my respect for you in giving very good homilies and being so "regal" in your attire at the altar. Also for your trying hard to"train" the congregation not to hurry through our prayers at Mass. And of course your beautiful voice and diction. I also want to say that you gave a humble farewell speech after Mass, in asking us to pray for your holiness as a priest to serve us! Please be this extraordinary priest forever, Fr Luke!!