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Friday, December 31, 2004

The Lord Be Our Strength

"There is nothing I can say or do that can take away your sorrow..."

That was as far as I got in my attempt to console Catherine, the mother of Estella, the child who perished in the tidal wave tragedy in Phuket recently. The tears in her eyes was enough for me to hold back my words a while before I tried again to give her some encouraging words. The helplessness of the situation was apparent. Catherine then told me that it was consoling to note that Estella died on the Feast of the Holy Family, at such an age where the innocence of a child is there as a telling sign of family love and bond that manifest the love that exists between Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

The parents of Estella were at the parish office to make arrangements for their daughter's funeral this coming Tuesday at 2.00 p.m. I am to be the celebrant for the funeral mass. A large crowd of people are expected to be present and it is going to quite harrowing for me to remain calm and collected amidst the sorrow of having to say goodbye to someone so young. Estella, whom I baptised early this year. Estella, whom her parents had great hopes for her future.

I am going to be hard put as to what to say for the homily on an occasion like this when the question of God's fairness in allowing such an incident like this to happen can so easily come into the question. In about 2 hours from now, I have another funeral to do and am still recovering from the past weeks events of Christmas Masses and other festivities and now moving into the New Year.

I feel as though I am moving and just living this day that flickers in and out between the two extremes of happiness and grief that I don't know which is which anymore. The whole point to this matter seemed to come to its "comical" setting when, yesterday, as I was about to leave for a wake at Mt Vernon in a parishioner's car, another lady came running out to me and asked if I can be the celebrant for her wedding next year! And as if to add more farce to the matter, I had to pick up a call just now from someone asking if we can eat meat today (Friday) as it is the eve of the New Year... I literally had to control myself from shouting back at him some words which the residents of Hell wouldn't even want to use! I gritted my teeth and, as much as I can muster, told him calmly that of course he can eat meat, not because it is the eve of the New Year but more importantly we are still in the midst of Christmas Octave. But the chap didn't seem to understand what I was saying and kept asking if he can take meat because of New Year. I gave up and said Yes! and put down the phone.

Today is the eve of the New Year. I want to say "Have a blessed and fruitful New Year", but with the fragility of life and the uncertainties of what the future holds, I am not sure if it sounds hypocritical and hollow. Instead, let me offer this soothing passage from Habakkuk:
For even though the fig does not blossom...
even fields produce no harvest...
and stalls stand empty of cattle
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord
and exult in the Lord God my saviour.
The Lord God is my strength.

Let the Lord be our strength in these times of sorrow and pain.

4 comments:

Jude Gal said...

Pse lah, i started eating MEAT since last nte with my kakis. Try the Combo meal at Cartel.......pork ribs, chicken wings, sauage. NO BIG DEAL Wat???

i really dun noe earlier of wk read Newpaper dun noe y rather than read tat Estella's dad was getting ready to go for mass in Phuket (holidayed there 2 wks) dun noe wat got into me tat 'i had links with this little gal' those who noe ME well enuf noe i dun really fancy kids but Estella jus gve me the feeling tat she's 'related' to us rather than family catholic , while reading zis blog ok am fighting back my tears again. feeling very tired the ONI TIME I have TIME ALONE is a/f work where i can put my emotions INTO PLACE. i dun noe how long i can hang on, even asked mself am i taking advantage of the situation or can i juz take it as JOB-RELATED. juz renewed my contract 2day. 1stly i would like to THK FR ALOY for being there for the past yr i went through so much at work. and while toking to my mgr this am She was telling me next yr she wan me to "mentor" new babes in the sales team i was like??? are u sure??? helo??? oso to Thk Mther Mary for being there - Fr Aloy, "Bluf novenas" at hfc, times when even fr aloy goes sumthing like "u going novena",admit sumtimes i wonder wat the hell am i doing at novena, dragging mself but deep dwn knew wat i was doing there. was even too lazy to write petitions. but i noe SHE knew wat was on my mind lah.

oso Fr Aloy, am HAPPIE for u tat u are going through a ROLLER-COASTER Sum1 used to say LIFE IS LIKE A ROLLER-COASTER (He's in NEW YORK now lah). muz be like yr kitchen not the EAST COAST CONDOS type, how to cook? if yr life "messy" like kitchen, u are there - alrite. i oso dun noe how to explain to u least u experience and go through with wat u feel, dun have a chance till a/f 6pm every day. by then i am DRAINED..........Tired. Joys & Sorrows of a PRIEST Maybe..........Sweet and Sour, Hot & Spicy, different flavours u get to TASTE.

Every day i see frm my building - Red Cross with so many pple walking in to gve donations, even "snowing" voluteers are carrying umbrellas to direct traffic/cars who dropby to gve their donations.

Jude Gal said...

Merry NEW YR !!!

Just cme back frm my THERAPTIC Exercise...........wan to go out and PLAY liao.

2005 will be a BETTER YEAR for All of US !!!

PS: My mei2 was in Phuket i tink may or june she stayed by the SEASIDE bunglow. i tink now gone she was there for 1 wk. she has a CLOSE guyfren who was staying in patong beach for 1 over yr. i noe STARBUCKS at Patong beach used to be her hangout for 1 wk. her guyfren was transferred to Indonesia and she was keeping in touch with him i tink past few days by MSN or hp calls. he was feeling dwn as he hangs around patong beach and noe the local pple there, within 1 yr he learned to speak Thai. u noe every1 is trying to get out of PHUKET, mei2's fren anyway he works for our local airline.......HE HAS GONE BACK TO PHUKET ISLAND to assist/do voluteer work now. he called my mei2 and told her next 1 wk NO MSN NO HP CONTACT but to wait for him to call her she been very worried for him , he be helping out at Phuket. PSE PRAY FOR HIM. I believe my mei2 and him had shouting matches over the phone/msn coz he gve my mei2 INSTRUCTIONS wat to do if ANYTHING HAPPENS TO HIM. In the end, mei2 gve in to him coz she knw he feels a lot for Phuket having stayed there over 1 yr.

Anonymous said...

Thks Fr Aloy for asking me this am u went sumthing like "WAT HAPPENED??? 1stly i woke up 6plus stonning away b4 left home STARTED RAINING, I was like here am i wan to go bk hfc said my little prayer, pse stop the rain. managed to make it lah a/f mass rain started again. surprisingly rain stopped. told God plse huh i wake up 6plus to go mass, helo??? 2ndly mei2 cme back i tink past 4am and she asked me where u going??? it's oni 6plus i said church she was like u go i oink2.
now i understand y she so moody past few days, always on bbc, krabi website - latest updates. she was like screaming at her fren again sumthing like u come back and assist at SPH oso wat........come back lah, wat u doing in phuket??? i am oso on leave we can volunteer in spore 2gether or sumthing like tat. every other day they can contact each other sounds like 'lovers' tiff'. Pse pray for him.

Fr Pat misses Fr Aj huh??? heehee......

Jude Gal said...

Many Thks for all yr PRAYERS, My meimei's darling has gone back to Indonesia to work. if i not mistaken he assisted in PHUKET for 2 wks. no more shouting matches with him. The more u love the person the more u NAG AND SCREAM at him/her. Rite fr aloy???

 

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