Building Youth Communities – Jeff’s Sharing

Many of us understand what community is, but what does it really mean to be in a community? I recently went for a retreat conducted by the youth groups in SFX, Building Youth Communities retreat, and it was there I learnt how to build a community and also how to BE in one.
Growing up in church, I always longed to belong somewhere. That was my motivation to join the various ministries in Holy Family. I was an Altar servers and a Youth Facilitators for a time, but they were more like a ministry and did not provide me with a community that I longed for. We only met up because we had a certain purpose, a ‘function’. If there was no work to be done, there was no reason for us to meet up or interact. If it was not for the friends that were there with me, I would have left those ministries much earlier, I may have even stopped coming to church. I think that is the reason why most members of our church leave, teens after confirmation find no meaning to come every week for mass, of course they would rather spend time with their friends. Even adults that don’t have a family to accompany them will soon disappear from our pews. How then do we keep them from leaving?
I am now part of the YOUhf Community, a group of us youths that meet every Friday for praise and worship, fellowship and to share with each other our faith journey. Of course like any young community, we are far from perfect; this was what led me to search for a deeper understanding of community living.
I went to this retreat about building communities alone, ironically, as most of my friends from YOUhf were busy. I only knew a couple of faces there so I was pretty insecure at first. That feeling of being alone, not knowing who to sit with, or who to talk to, I am sure everyone can relate. Surprisingly, that feeling went away pretty quickly because the community there was so welcoming. We
experienced a little bit of what that community would on a typical weekend. We had bible sharing and fellowship together. We were also invited to one their houses for a session, we even watched a movie and ate KFC together. It was surprising how much fun I had, and how much I learnt from others like me who were struggling in their own parishes to build a community.
Through experiencing that retreat alone I realised, how important community is to a person. It brings life to a person. No man is an island, the reality is we are all human, and we desire to form connections, bonds and relationships with other people. That is when I realised that our church, our faith is not about teachings, doctrine or liturgy, they are important yes, but the core of our faith is its people and God right at its centre.
How many times have we drifted apart from groups of friends, ones we thought we would stick with for the rest of our lives. When these relationships are only held together by temporary circumstance, like school or work, time is all it takes for that friendship to fade from memory. However, when a friendship is built on a foundation so firm, like God, it can last for a lifetime. Our search for God is an eternal quest, and thus it only makes sense to hold on to companions that are on the same journey as well. No matter the distance, or whatever path life leads you, you will always go back to them. This was exactly what I observed these communities had that made them so bonded.
Community is about being there for each other, in good times and in bad. To be there to comfort someone who grieves the death of a loved one and witness the birth of a child. The same way the disciples were there to console Mother Mary during the death of Jesus, and were there to witness the rebirth, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In that way community is like a family, that last for a lifetime, and maybe even long after. It is a safe place where we all can be ourselves. It is quite unlike a club where your membership, your worth, is justified by your contributions to the group. It keeps us coming back to church, not out of obligation to do God’s will, but out of obligation to be God’s people.
Of course being in a community would not be easy. Although we do not need to contribute anything, the only requirement is to bring all of yourself, even your insecurities and emotional baggage. We usually try our best to hide these feelings of insecurities when going into a new relationship only for them to inconveniently resurface, but a Christian community flips that idea on its head. It is a place where we can be honest with ourselves, and everyone else, where we can be comfortable in our own skin. Jesus and his disciples are the best example of a Christian community, the very first. Jesus himself called people who were far from perfect to be in his ‘community’, in the same way our church should be follow in his example.
I truly believe this is what our parish needs, and should strive for, not just for the youths but for everyone who belongs to this parish. Only then can we experience fully the Holy Eucharist together, in communion with God, and with each other.

Press Pause

Well, I don’t exactly have a full page essay of any sort to back up this quote, but it got me thinking & Reflecting.
In this terribly fast paced world, it’s always all about being the best in everything & getting all great stuff. 
But I guess once in awhile we just need to pause for a moment, and give thanks to all the little microscopic details & minute things we have in life. 
I came home to a bed covered in a set of new Pink bed sheets & Pink Pillow cases, that was neatly arranged by my mommy to welcome me home after a long day’s work.
They were scented with Mother’s Love.
Thank you mommy.

Hello 2014!

Yesterday was awesome! I became a Godmother to two lovely kids, and I got my hands on the new Acer Chromebook, which is free! Simply because I signed up for Starhub cable broadband.

Anyway, Praise God that my brother and his whole family came for mass yesterday with us! I was fretting about things like what if they don’t understand, what if they are not used to it, what if they’re lost, and many more what ifs. It then went on to should I sit with them instead of with the choir? Blahblahblah. But as though sensing my dilemma, my mum told to go ahead to sit with the choir. After which I felt a voice telling me to let go and let Him take over. When I surrendered my worries, I felt so free and at ease. Then I realised that some things are beyond my control and my lack of trust in God. Why all that worry when God would make things way better than I could. Once again, God works in mysterious way, this time to remind me to letting go and trusting in Him.

Let go and let Him :)

Baptism of Our Lord

we celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord this Sunday, we remember the ‘initiation
‘ that Jesus started his public ministry. We too, have experienced this
same Baptism: our first Sacrament of Initiation immersed us into the life of
Christ. At our Baptism, God the Father says to each of us, This
is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.
Ever since my initiation, I have been given the eyes of faith
which has reminded me constantly that there is more than meet the eye, more
than the physical realm.
The Bible is more than just a book. It is the Word of God
which inspires me to live my life meaningfully and purposefully. Every time I
read it, God speaks through the words to me in the present moment of my life.
Our God is the God of the present.
The crucifix is more than Jesus hung on the cross. It a
reminder of the power of sacrifice. The sacrifice that God has done for me and
the sacrifice that I can give. A great reminder for me to always learn to
surrender and let go of my problems and trust that the Lord knows what is best
for me. By listening to him, I learn to be the best I can be.
The candle is more than a mere light
but a light of hope. A flame that burns despite the winds and difficult times.
It is a reminder of the power of the Holy Spirit. When I have the power of the
Holy Spirit, I am burning with the love of Christ in my heart to help and
empower others. As others have been a light to me, I too can be a light to

are so many other signs and symbols of our faith that point to something
greater than the physical world. What are they? This video reminds us of our
lives as being something greater.

How can I learn to live and
extraordinary life?
How can I remember my identity as a beloved son/daughter of God more and more?


“Grace gives us the strength to stand up again for Him”

Last Friday, I was really struck by His Grace. 
Fridays are the time people can usually see me really excited and although everyone can clearly see the dark circles underneath my eyes, at that time of the night, before session starts, those are usually the heaviest of my day. I think last friday, my dark circles were the lightest of my day (haha).
Recently, I’ve felt my faith has been tested and the feelings that usually follow once I fail are the feelings that I can’t be forgiven because not only have I let down God but myself as well. So how could God forgive me when I can’t forgive myself? I think what I really needed was God’s grace here. Simple things like how I used to go regularly for daily mass (bgi: I live five minutes away from church so it’s no biggie for me to go) and now every time I reach home and I can make it, I decide not to. Why? Even when I want to go and I feel like going, I somehow manage to find some excuse not to. Like I’ve too much work, I really need some rest or I need to spend some time with my family instead. Ironically, I don’t usually follow through with getting rest or doing work and I could have spent it more productively by going to mass instead of wasting my time away. 
Even in school, I can’t bring myself to be disciplined and I curse and swear and complain about the workload that keeps piling up and I couldn’t understand why I was undermining my many months of trying to trust fully in God and having faith that everything will be okay. I simply refused to turn to God in my moment of need.
So, coming to this Friday’s session and being well a part of it, I could feel my faith being tested once again. I was feeling rather impatient and annoyed with people and myself included. However, listening to the word and watching the skit.. seeing Peter deny Jesus three times when he was so sure of his faith, so ready to love Him and go to death for him. I was reminded once again of how Jesus forgave him. How Jesus still loved him through it all and had faith in him. Thinking about it, even if I’m not sure why Jesus gives us His grace, one thing I can know for sure is that He knows me better than I know myself.
I think these recent events, although small but still troubling are part and parcel of my Catholic life. My faith will be tested and yes, sometimes although I deny Jesus in the littlest things, in allowing Him to enter my life and take the wheel, He forgives me and gives me His grace to acknowledge Him. I know that I need to go to Him in my times of trials. Lately, I’ve been asking God for lesser burdens but I think instead of asking for a lesser burden, I need to pray for broader shoulders -i’m going to be a great swimmer at this rate hehe :-) 
Also, sharing a really great song I’ve been listening to that helped me get through my week:
Left my fear by the side of the road
Hear You speak, won’t let go
Fall to my knees as I lift my hands to pray
All I need is You