Monday, September 23, 2019

My 500th blog entry – the journey so far, and where to go from here

It has finally arrived – the day that I write my 500th blog on this blog site, which I have been hacking away at for the past eleven years, with the regularity of almost one essay or reflection every week. Like many endeavours in life, it didn’t start out with such grandiose intentions, that one day I’d be able to look back and say that I have done this with a dogged sense of dedication and tenacity. While it does feel like I have reached a milestone with this reflection, I also do not want to make it about me. This blog page and the effort behind it has never been about me.  It was meant to be some form of outreach platform, where visitors to this site who drop in to spend a few minutes of their precious day can, for albeit a brief moment, raise their minds and hearts to want to live their lives with a higher purpose and to look with a bit of seriousness at their own hearts to see where they stand in their relationship with God and with his Church.  

I went back to glance at my very first blog entry back in October 2009, and saw that I gave it a title ‘Moved and shaken’.  It was a bit like going down memory lane, and with some delight, saw that I had mentioned that in our spiritual lives, there is this dynamic of being moved and shaken by God, and that this journey is almost always a very slow process.  

Through the years of my reflection, prayer and writing, I have given countless examples of how this is so true in all of our lives.  The very fact that God is so patient with us in our response to his outreach to us is itself good reason for us to be patient with ourselves as well.  I am quite sure that one of the strongest reasons for my having featured this aspect of the spiritual life is because I have seen how this troubles many who embark on this endeavor of holiness with any degree of seriousness.  God has this knack of displacing us in life so that we can be in a better stead with him, and often it happens through forms that require us to even weep a little.

Those of you who are regular visitors to this blog will know that this isn’t really a light-hearted blog site.  There are plenty of blog sites out there in the world of the internet that provide the distractions that many seek in life, with some websites even providing harmful and unsavoury fodder.  Rather than being a source of distraction, this blog page is meant rather to attract – to attract the soul and the mind to live with a high purpose and to make it attractive to God and hopefully to be at the same time inviting, giving the reader a good reason to strive for sanctification, holiness and ultimately sainthood.  

In this social-media saturated world where the likes of Instagram are heavily used and promoted, it is not uncommon to see the word ‘influencer’ being tossed about, often by the younger set.  It appears to be something that the young, and some not-so-young aspire to become in life, and very often, lying behind it is the hope of either fortune or fame, or both.  These platforms thrive on the human person’s desire to build some kind of brand personality, and with the added incentive of monetizing their uploads through increased viewership, it seems to be a win-win situation.  Or so it appears.

The kinds of effort that so many put to making videos that are click-worthy are indeed commendable.  They boost creativity and they give many some sense of purpose, and the lure of lucre that comes with increased viewership, lead to the incessant cries to "please follow me on Instagram" and "like me on FaceBook".  It never fails to strike me as somehow odd that before the advent of the internet, just thinking of the phrase "please like me" was something that reeked of insecurity and shameless desperation.  But these days, it's being tossed about so often that nobody seems to think it sounds rather odd.  They want to, by their self-promotion and life-style, ‘influence’ their followers and make others like them in more ways than one. 

In this light, perhaps the many spiritual greats whom I often defer to, and myself in this blog effort of mine, are also in some ways hoping to be ‘influencers’, but with very different motives and ends.  There is no monetizing in this weekly effort of mine. It may be different if I were a writer of spiritual books because there is some income that is garnered from being published or if one is syndicated.  Yet, there is a certain push that we share, and this is where, I think and I hope, we veer very widely away from the influencers of the social media world. While they are social influencers, my aim, and the aim of spiritual writers and bloggers out there, is to be spiritual influencers.

I do want to influence others, but it isn’t something that I want for myself.  It is something that I have been called to by virtue of my baptism and the divine filiation that resulted from that Sacrament I was first graced to receive through the baptismal waters.  All of us baptized in Christ have been, by virtue of our baptism, been drafted into being influencers of others and of the world.  Not for fame, not for fortune, but for the Kingdom of God.  By being conscious of our need to bring our best Christ-centeredness to others through our choices, our actions, our thoughts, words and deeds and our joys, we are meant to influence the world to bring others to the awareness of the universal call to holiness and sanctification.  

But there is, and always will be, the challenge to not make ourselves take centre stage.  There will always be the temptation to turn whatever enterprise we are working on into a personality cult, where the ego overshadows the initially pure motivation. I am always very wary when I hear of parishioners asking what time is “Fr (insert name here)’s Mass”, because in truth, every Mass is the Mass of Jesus Christ.  It is never Fr So-and-So’s Mass, and should never ever be.  To say to anyone “come to my Mass” displaces the reason why there is any Mass in the first place.  

True, one may point to the many blog reflections where I had featured my own encounters with pain, afflictions and illness.  These were never meant to draw attention to myself, but to give anyone reading the reflections good reasons and motivation to face their own afflictions with tenacity and faith and trust.  I would only be speaking (or writing) from a theoretical vista, and I have realized that anyone who has read widely can do this, and quote what others have said if I hadn’t had those experienced myself in a very personal way.  But I have realized that people want to see and hear it from someone who has walked the walk before they talked the talk.  It is for this reason that I have always been grateful for all of my health (and other) challenges that have come my way.  They have become my teacher, and among the greatest lessons they have taught me are humility and gratitude.  

We are all called to mission in life, and mission takes on many different forms.  One of my own heroes of courageous mission spiritedness is St Therese of the Child Jesus. So desirous of being a physical missionary to be sent to faraway lands to spread the faith, she became stricken with tuberculosis at a young age and was confined to the world that was cloistered in her Carmelite convent in France.  But when she found that when she could accomplish heroic deeds by heroic love, she offered every effort, no matter how small, for the missions - even an act as small and insignificant as picking up a piece of litter from the convent grounds.  Her love for God and her love put into small acts, were gargantuan displays of love in God’s eyes, and this was enough for her.  Who would have thought that this little holy soul ended up being hailed as the Patroness of Missions and declared a Doctor of the Church, when she never stepped physically outside of her convent grounds but managed to send her love to the world?  

Perhaps it is my mission to something similar through this blog of mine.  I do not have a large number of readers, and it really isn’t about numbers.  I know some who do circulate what they stumble on, passing it on to others and in this way, some goodness gets to be spread.  I do hope that everyone who stops here to read will somehow be recharged in his or her love for God, and to make small changes in life to love God more and more in little ways.  There will always be room to experience growth and maturity in our striving for holiness, and I pray that each person who reads these makes some effort to want to pursue a path of sanctification in life – not just in a theoretical or idealistic way, but in concrete steps.  And if my reflections have given anyone reason to want to try, it would have served its purpose.  

Your life, then, would have been ‘influenced’.  


  1. Thank you Fr Luke for writing this blog. I am quite new to this blog. May God continue to give you strength in your mission.

  2. Dear Fr Luke,

    My daily morning prayer invariably contains a plea to hear from God. And your blog serves as one of several places I visit to try and hear His voice. Which I have. Through your words, God has provoked and challenged me to think deeper; inspired me with a fuller appreciation of His promise; and given me strength to overcome challenges. Thank you for this blog. Thank you for the 500 posts thus far. And I pray that God grant you the inspiration and strength to write another 500 (or more). I pray for your quick and full recovery, and for your safe return back home to Singapore.


  3. Thank you Fr.luke for your blogs. It has definetely influenced my faith. May God continue to use your blog to teach, inspire and guide our spiritual journeys. God bless!