Showing posts with label Faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Faith. Show all posts


When I was in my teenage years, I had read the bible literally from cover to cover (Genesis to Revelation) over the course of a couple of years.  Although it was a good exercise and something that I can brag about (like what I'm doing right now 😉), I don't remember too much of it nor do I think I really benefitted that much.  It was probably because I had read it without much guidance nor did I really do much reflection of the text.

More than 10 years ago, I had enrolled in Regis College's (U of T) Master of Theological Studies and had taken a few courses on Scripture.  They were quite eye opening!  Unfortunately, I only finished about half the program and had to quit due to juggling of work and newborns which seemed to come quite regularly 😂.  After that point, I had rarely picked up the bible, which is always something that made me feel quite sad.

Fast forward to last year, the COVID pandemic has had quite a number of silver linings.  One of them was our discovery of Father Mike Schmitz on YouTube.  We alternated between masses said by Father Francis Ching (in Cantonese) and Father Mike when the churches were/are closed.  Both fathers have amazing homilies and I would recommend tuning in every Sunday.

Since the start of the year, Father Mike had started a Bible in a Year Podcast.  It's a daily podcast with Father Mike reading a few chapters from the bible and then reflecting on it.  Each day's show is about 20 minutes long and so it's not much effort at all to follow along.  The podcast is advertised as reading the entire bible but it's not quite that.  I don't think reading Deuteronomy on a podcast would be a great idea, except if the podcast was designed for insomniacs!  It will read through the most common books like Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Psalms, Luke, Acts, and Revelation.  You can take a look at the reading plan.  Father Mike is super charismatic and passionate and he has (re-)lit a fire in my heart!

So, this is my New Year resolution: to complete this Bible in a Year program and bring Scripture back into my life. If you're Catholic, Christian, or just curious, I'd encourage you to do the same.

I love Netflix's service.  I've been a customer since they became available in Canada.  The service is cheap, fast, and has increasingly delivered very high quality original content.  Renee loves to watch Korean drama.  I love to watch zombie shows.  When Netflix came out with Kingdom (a Korean zombie drama), we finally found a show that both of us can watch!

However, this post is not about Netflix's shows.  It's about a much more serious issue.  Recently, the state of Georgia in the US passed a law that disallows abortion on babies whose heartbeat has been detected.  This law is seen as a victory for the pro-life movement.  Unexpectedly, at least for me, Netflix entered into the scene.  They announced that they will be working with the ACLU to fight this law and will be reconsidering its investment in Georgia.

It is one thing for a company to voice its opinion on a matter; it is quite another to take an active role on such a topic.  I think Netflix has crossed the line for me.  If it continues down this path, I believe it would be morally unacceptable for me to continue both paying for its service and owning shares of the company.  After all, part of my money will be going to be used to fight against a pro-life legislation.

So, I decided to write a message to them through their investor relations page.  You can see it below. 

I will be watching this closely to see what actions, if any, Netflix will take.  If it comes to the point where I need to unsubscribe, it will make life very inconvenient for me.  I don't have cable; so what will I watch?  Maybe I can watch Disney+ when it comes out...but unfortunately, Disney is taking the same stance.  What is one to do in this secular world?  I guess this is a cross one must carry.

Hi Netflix,

I have been a Netflix customer since you came to Canada and have recently became a shareholder.  While I respect differing viewpoints on the topic of abortion, I am displeased by the recent announcement that Netflix will be using its resources, which partly comes from my monthly subscription fee and my investment in the company, to take an active pro-abortion role.  If Netflix continues down this path, I will be forced to both unsubscribe to your service and also sell all of my shares of NFLX.  I do not have a unique perspective on this topic; millions of your subscribers and investors, whether religious or not, are pro-life.  Please reconsider your position.  Thank you.

Felix Wong

Just this past Sunday, we heard the famous gospel passage of John 8:1-11, where the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who was accused of committing adultery, asking Him what they should do with her. Jesus responds by saying, "Let the one among you who is without sin 
be the first to throw a stone at her" (Jn 8:7), to which the crowd responded by leaving, one by one. Jesus then forgave the adulteress and let her go. This is the jist of this Gospel story, but there was always one part that puzzled me. It is the part that talked about how Jesus initially didn't respond to the crowd, but "bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger" (Jn 8:6). The gospel doesn't say what He wrote, which makes it the more intriguing.  All these years, I've wondered about it, but didn't do anything about it, until today.

Thanks goodness for Google, my answer came on the first page of the search results after I had searched for "ancient Israel writing on the ground".  I wanted to find some history on what the significance of writing on the ground was. Instead of some history site talking about ancient Jewish customs, I actually found a Christian site explaining this exact passage. The answer was very satisfying. As expected, the Evangelist wrote a well crafted account with much theological significance buried in the text.

You can find the article here:

I will just briefly summarize what is said there.

First, in ancient Israel, whenever a couple is caught in adultery (why only the woman was caught in this case is worth pondering), they would be brought to the temple gates, and the priest would write the law that was broken and also the name of the accused.  In the gospel story, when they brought the accused woman to the temple, Jesus proceeds to start writing on the ground.  Jesus' action seem to indicate that He was the priest in this instance.

Second, and more importantly, we need to look at Jeremiah 17:13, which is a verse that the High Priest recites at the end of Yom Kippur every year, "O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters" (Jeremiah 17:13 [KJV translation]).  And who would be departing the scene in this instance?  You got it...the scribes and Pharisees.  From this, we can deduce that Jesus was probably writing down the names of the scribes and the Pharisees.  The fact that they left the scene fulfills this prophecy that they have forsaken the Lord.

Third, if we look at John 7, the chapter just before the start of this gospel reading, it reads, "On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.'" (John 7:37-38).  So, St. John preps us for this story of the adulteress by telling us that Jesus is the "fountain of living waters", and if he is the fountain of the living waters, He is then the "Lord".  But do know this, the "Lord" in this case is YHWH (Yahweh), which is God Himself.  And if the reader knows Jeremiah 17:13, which most ancient Jews would, they would also know that the scribes and the Pharisees are the ones who will "be ashamed and...they that depart from [God] shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of the living waters."
Happy to be Going to School!

Wow!  Thanks to all who have donated, we have now surpassed the $1000 mark or 20% of our goal!  Looking at the contributions just opens our eyes to your tremendous generosity!  You have donated without expecting anything in return.  For this, we're deeply grateful!  Thank you!

For those reading about this for the first time, we're raising funds for the kids' school again this year!  Read about it here.  To up our game, we're doing a 5 km walkathon this coming weekend and I'll be running a half marathon in the Fall.  If we reach our goal of $5000, I will also be shaving my legs and head again...but these don't seem to be enough as some of you suggested.  My coworker and generous donor, Keith, has suggested that before I shave my head, I should wear a mohawk to work.  It may be a career-ending move, but if this is what it takes to get to our goal, I'm game!  I will also take a picture of me and the highest ranking employee in the company as proof.  (I work in the same office as the President.)

So, please keep those donations coming!  Thank you!

Donate Here:
It's me again!  Thanks to all those who have so generously donated, we have reached 8.2% of our goal in just a couple of days!

For those of you who may have missed it, I'm running a half marathon this coming Fall to raise funds for the kids' school!  It'll be a good challenge for me as the farthest I have ever run to date is around 8 km.  In addition, if we reach our fundraising goal, I will shave my head again this year!  Please help me make this happen!  Thanks so much in advance!

Donate Here:

See me like this again!  Donate today!

Hi Everyone! It's been a while since I've posted on this blog.  GDI (Ainsworth's parent company) decided to buy another company and merge us together.  It's been a grueling few months going through the transition and still feeling the effects.  Hence, I've been fairly quiet.

Didn't Know I Loved Running Too!?
As some of you may remember, our family raised funds for the kids' school around this time last year through a Walkathon.  With your support, we beat our goal and as a result, on top of the Walkathon with the family, I also shaved my head and legs!  This year, I am humbly asking for your help again!  On June 10th, the families of the school are participating in a 5 km Walkathon.

While shaving my head and legs were not on the top of list of things I had planned to do, they weren't terribly difficult things either.  To make things a bit more interesting this year for both you and I, I would like to ask you to sponsor me to run my first ever half marathon (21.1 km)!  Running has always been something that I liked to do, but it's not always something that I actually did.  I guess this was mainly due to laziness.  Just this spring, however, I started running more regularly, in anticipation of the fundraising event...that was until around the end of March, when my work hours just went out of control.  Things are getting a bit better now and I will resume my training again.

I'm aiming to do a half marathon in the Fall, around September or October.  I haven't chosen the actual event that I will be running at, but there's no shortage of them.  I'll keep you all posted.

Ok, It's Not All About Me!
Sorry, actually, the universe actually does not revolve around me!  Let's not forget the young ones that this fundraiser is all about!  Adele is finishing grade 2 and Athan will be graduating from Kindergarten!!  Lastly, since Renee returned to work in January, Audrey has been attending the pre-K classes.  They all enjoy being at school so much, but I think the most important part of all is the safe and caring environment that the school provides.  The teachers are all excellent and dedicated, and all of the students are so well behaved.

One of the things that, as a parent, we're afraid of is bullying at school.  I'll have to confess...there was a time when I was in grade 6 that I played the role of a bully.  It wasn't because I was intentionally malicious, but it was because a number of kids had been mean to this one kid, and that I somehow thought that being mean to him was acceptable and somehow in a twisted  And reflecting back to that, it was partly because the school culture did not promote a safe environment for the kids, where kids cared for each other.  We're fortunate that Guiding Light and the Heralds of the Gospel (the school and the religious order which co-runs the school) focuses a lot on the virtues of faith, hope, and most of all, love.  Renee and I would occasionally ask Adele if kids are mean to each other or if there are bullies at the school, and each time, she would reassure us with a confident "no".

Audrey's First Day of School...a Little Nervous!

Just a few weeks ago, when we were having pho with another family from the school, the kids spontaneously held hands and sang a grace before meals, without any reservation.  Thinking back to my days as a kid or even not so much as a kid, I would feel embarrassed to even make a sign of the cross in a secular setting, never mind break out in song.  I was so proud to see them as witnesses of the faith, much more so that I ever was.  Athan has also recently started genuflecting when he enters a church, without us ever teaching him to.  It's great to see the kids grow in faith and love!

Please Help!
We need all the help we can get to support the school and the Heralds of the Gospel in continuing to provide the education that will develop the Catholic leaders of tomorrow!

Our goal this year is $5000.  I'm sure with so many generous folks out there, this is absolutely an achievable goal.  But to give you some enjoyment, on top of just doing a 5 km Walkathon and running a half marathon, the following are the things I will be doing as we get closer to the goal:

$3000 - I will be shaving my legs again and posting a video of it on Youtube
$5000 - I will be shaving my head again and posting a video of it on Youtube
Other? - I'm open to suggestions to make things more interesting!  Leave me a comment!

As usual, you will be getting a tax receipt for any donation $20 or greater.  You get the receipt no waiting till tax time.  With most of you, you will be getting back around 40% of your donation through tax credits.

Thank you so much for your support!  Salve Maria!

All Saints Day Celebration - Even Renee and Anne Dressed Up!

God's Greatest Blessing to Me

Lately, I've been listening to Laura Story's song Blessings like know how when you loop one song over and over again?  It's such a great song!  Why is it great?  Keeping reading!

Laura Story has a very good voice, and the song just has a great melody.  Just listen to it!  More importantly, it's the message of the song that really makes it so great.  It tries to answer the age old question of why bad things happen to good people.  "If God loved us, why does he allow sickness, evil, and death to be part of our lives?"

I think what this song is saying is that when we ask this question, we've missed the point.  It is precisely because God loves us that he allows sickness, evil, and death to be part of our lives!  The song asks, "What if Your blessings come through raindrops?  What if Your healing comes through tears?  What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?"  The best line in the song, however, is the following, "What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy?"

And of course, isn't that what we Christians are taught, that we would not go through life without pain, tribulations, and even persecution?  And perhaps the next time we're in great suffering, instead of questioning God why, why not give thanks to Him for letting us suffer, just like how our Lord suffered for us on the cross?  Because humanity's greatest blessing also came from His suffering and death!


We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
Since the 1960s and arguably earlier, there has been a slow, but relentless deconstruction of traditional marriage in the West.  First, divorce went from a topic to be shunned to common place in our society.  Then, premarital sex became not only accepted, but pretty much encouraged, especially in pop culture.  Now, we're seeing the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex unions across the board amongst developed nations.  As most of you know, I am what you can call a traditional Catholic.  I agree with pretty much all Catholic doctrine/teachings.  However, I do not blindly subscribe to them.  Today, I will try to explain in layman's terms why the Church teaches what it teaches on the topic of sex and marriage (note that these are tightly linked together, as opposed to the contemporary understanding).  I understand this can be a touchy topic, but I feel that the media paints the Church as an archaic institution, which is set in its conservative views and is unyielding.  Yes, it is unyielding, but it is unyielding because of what it believes in.  And I will attempt to explain that here.

The Model of Catholic Marriage

Before we delve into the marriage itself, we have to see how the Church understands God and our relationship with Him.  First and foremost, Catholics believe that God is Love (1 John 4:8).  This is an abstract yet important concept. If there is any human concept that comes most closely to the concept of God, this is it.

To begin, let's talk about the Holy Trinity.  For those of you who don't know what the Trinity really means, it's essentially saying that there's only one God, but three different persons in that one God (yes, very trippy).  We know that the Christian God is a Trinity, but how many of us know why?  At least I didn't until well into my late 20s.  God is a Trinity precisely because He is love.  Without going too philosophical, I'll try to explain this.  Our understanding of God is that He is all-loving, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, has no beginning or end, and also that he is not "contingent" (or put simply, not dependent) on anything else.

If He is not contingent on humans or any creature, then how can He be love?  There is no one else to love and loving oneself can't really be love, right?  That is why God revealed to us that He is a Trinity.  God can only truly be love if He can love someone.  That someone is God the Son.  In fact, out of love between God the Father and God the Son proceeds God the Holy Spirit, such that the Holy Trinity is a family of love.  Further to that, God's love is so overflowing that He created the universe and intelligent beings (us) to be loved by Him.  We were created to be loved...Wow!

Now, back to marriage.  By now, I think you might be anticipating the next point, that the Church believes that marriage is modeled on God's love, or maybe more precisely, on God Himself, the Holy Trinity (CCC 2331 - By understanding this simple belief, we can answer all questions sex and marriage related.

Marriage as an Indissoluble Institution

Catholicism is one of the few Christian denominations that do not allow divorce.  It is not so much that the Church does not "allow" divorce as much as that it claims to have no authority to dissolve a marriage.  Looking at God as our model for marriage, this is a simple one to explain.  God's love is everlasting (Jeremiah 3:13). In fact, His nature IS love.  If human marriage is to be modeled on God, how can it not be indissoluble?  Moreover, it boggles my mind when I think about marriage vows.  Isn't a vow supposed to be a promise that is not to be broken?  I don't quite get a "vow" that only applies as long as both parties feel like it.  It'd be kind of funny (and sad) to say "till death or whenever we feel appropriate do us part".  The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony creates an indissoluble bond between the man and the woman that only ends at death.  Therefore, the Church has remained humble not to claim a power which it does not have.

Why Not Condoms?

The Catholic Church teaches against the use of artificial contraception.  The only forms of contraception that are acceptable are abstinence based methods, the most popular of which is Natural Family Planning.  In short, if you don't want to get pregnant, don't do it (at least not at the right/wrong time)!

This has been a difficult one for Catholics.  Depending on what sources you use, it is safe to say that a majority or large minority of Catholics use some form of artificial contraception.  I believe Catholics generally don't know of this teaching or believe it's generally a small enough sin that they can overlook it.

Regardless, let's see why the use of artificial contraception is incompatible with the model of love that God sets for us.  As we see in the Trinity and also in the very existence of ourselves, God's love is life-giving and overflowing.  It is so overflowing that God created us.  God has no need for creating the universe, much less for our existence. So why did He create us?  Let's look at it in another way.  Why does an artist paint? Why does a singer sing? Why does a writer write?  It is because there's something inside of each of them that wants to share their gift with others, to make the lives of others a little better.  That is the same reason for God's creative love.  He wants us to be loved!  The love for the Trinity is not enough for Him; He wants to share it with other beings as well.

And so, that is the same understanding of marital love.  A man and woman loves each other so much that this love is boundless.  They want this love to be extended beyond themselves to others.  The love is meant to be overflowing; it's meant to be life giving.  For us parents, that is easy to understand.  We look at our kids each day and know that there is a greater good that offsets the sleepless nights, the pee, the poop, the vomit, the heartaches, and not forgetting to mention, the money that goes into parenting.  Why on earth would we sign ourselves up to such lopsided relationships?  It is because we love and our love overflows to the point that we're willing to sacrifice our comfort and freedom, just so someone other than ourselves can experience our love for each other.  If we can understand marriage and parenthood, we can catch a glimpse of God's love for us.

So there, if you ever wonder why there are so many crazy Catholics (like us) who have such large families, this is the reason.  It is not because we need to multiply to rule the earth, though that would certainly be good ;) , it is because we try to love like God does.

Same Sex Marriage

Often times, the Church is seen as an archaic institution not willing to adapt to the times.  Why does the Catholic Church not embrace homosexuality?  Why can't 2 women or 2 men love each other just like a man and a woman do?  Why is it considered sinful to love?  They are not hurting anyone; so why is it bad?

Here, I will try to explain the Catholic view of hetero and homosexuality.  I understand this can be a deeply personal and touchy subject, but my goal is to show that the Church's view is not based on stubborn arrogance, but rather, is a logical conclusion that are drawn from basic assumptions of the Catholic faith.

Here again, we look to that God's love for an explanation.  The Catholic Church sees itself as the bride of Christ (CCC 789 -  It's never described as the groom even though half of the Church consists of men, and way more than half were the ones who developed Catholic doctrine over the centuries.  Why is that?

In the bible, Jesus is described as the bridegroom in several places (John 3:29, Mark 2:19, etc.).  Meanwhile, the Church is the bride.  What does that really mean?  Let's go back to the basics.  What role does the male play in a relationship?  For the most part, the man is the one who takes the initiative.  Although I would like to describe myself as a charming individual, it would be a huge stretch of the truth if I were to tell you that before I got married, Renee and my ex-girlfriends were the ones who threw themselves at me...I was primarily the one doing the courting.  Certainly, you don't need to be an anthropologist to know that in most cultures, men are the ones who have to pursue women and not vice versa.

God's love, also, takes on a male role.  He is the one who takes the initiative.  Out of nothing, he created the universe and us in it; He is the one who pursues us with His love.  He is the one who gives of Himself.  Humanity, on the other hand, is the receiver of this love.  Even in the very sexual act itself, the male is the one who gives (sorry for the graphic description).

Therefore, as the Church understands marriage as the reflection of God's love for us, it is then impossible for it to see homosexuality as compatible with this vision of marriage.  There is one person  in the relationship (the man) who, from his role right down to his very physical nature, reflects God's role.  Then, there is the woman, whose role and also right down to her very physical nature, reflects the role of the Church or humanity.  Due to this unifying understanding of God, His love for His people and its relationship with marital love, it is not difficult to see why the Catholic Church has not embraced homosexuality.  (And by the way, this is also partly why the Catholic Church only allows men to be ordained as priests).


Part of the reason I wanted to write this post was because of the numerous conversations I've had with my secular friends on love and marriage.  In most instances, I either don't fully remember all of the points I'd to make or I just don't have the time to make them.   Perhaps I can just forward this link to my friends in the future.

I'd like to think that post has helped some of you in understanding the Church, or at least how its doctrines on marriage were developed, a bit better.  The Church is really not that archaic in its thinking; it's just unwavering in its doctrine that is drawn logically from the basic assumptions of our faith (that God is love). It's been a long post and I congratulate and thank you for reading this far!  I will end with something Bishop Fulton Sheen once said, "There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be."

As promised, here is the video of the kids shaving my head!  It was fun, except for the moments when I see myself in the mirror!  Thank you all for getting us to our goal of raising $2000 for the school!

As promised, for reaching our fundraising goal of $1500, I have gladly shaved my legs!!  Enjoy!  Thanks once again for all of your donations.  It means the world to us!

We're only $240 from our goal of $1500!  We're truly humbled by your kindness!  Your generosity is proof of many things: i) how fortunate we are to have friends and family who time and time again have lent a helping hand, ii) the world is not such a bad place after all when there are so many great people like yourselves!  Please accept our sincere thanks!

For those of you who don't know what this is all about, we're raising funds for Adele and Athan's school.  Read more here.  If we raise $1500, I will be shaving my legs, and $2000, my head!  If you're able, even a dollar would help!  Any donation $20 or above will get you a tax receipt.  Donate here:

Thank you once again!  We love you!

Wow!  Thanks to all those who have contributed!  It's not even a week and we're at more than 40% of our goal.  My leg hair is trembling now!!  We are so grateful for all of your generosity!  Truly, "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).  May God bless you and your family!

For those of you who missed my previous post, we're raising funds for Adele and Athan's school, and if we reach $1500, I'm shaving my legs!  Help make that happen!!

Donate here:
(Bad Photoshop Job...but at least my face looks OK on Brad Pitt's Head!)

All Joy and No Fun
Many people ask me, "Is it hard to take care of four kids?" I usually half jokingly answer them, saying, "it gets easier once you realize you no longer have your own life."  For those of you considering parenthood, I'm sorry... What they say is true...sleepless nights, dirty diapers, dinnertime nightmares, etc. Renee and I average about once every quarter when it comes to going on dates, most of which is to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.  There's very little spontaneity as we need to plan ahead of time for most outings.  Luckily, my mom stays over on weeknights.  So, after the kids go to bed, we may sneak out to see a movie or grab a drink, but that only happens if neither of us have already collapsed into a coma after dinner.

But then again, for those considering parenthood, I'm also glad to tell you that yes, it's true too that having kids is perhaps the most meaningful and important thing you can do in your life.  A couple of years ago, I read a book by Jennifer Senior, called All Fun and No Joy (I recommend that all parents and parents-to-be pick up a copy).  Senior tells us that we can be pretty sure we're going to lose much happiness in our lives after we've had kids, but along with it also comes joy and a sense of meaning in life.  I think that's not a bad tradeoff.  One can really only enjoy so much fine dining, traveling, and other niceties that come with a childfree life.  Of course, this is coming from a guy who's got 4 kids... Maybe it's a bit of self consolation! ;)

Guiding Light Academy
As some of you know, we're sending Adele and Athan (and probably Audrey and Anne in the future) to Guiding Light Academy, a Catholic private school in Mississauga.  The name of the school was formerly Lumen Veritatis Academy.  It's somewhat a long story, but in short, the school was originally run by the Heralds of the Gospel (brothers in that religious order), but they are now partnering with Guiding Light Academy for a number of good reasons.  Lumen Veritatis is still very much alive, where the brothers are teaching religion and also helping establish a deeply Catholic culture at the school.

When Adele was three years old, we were deciding where to send her for daycare purposes.  We could have chosen a daycare centre, a Montessori, or even a home daycare, but it made the most sense for us to send her to Lumen Veritatis.  The tuition was very affordable and it was the environment we wanted her to be in.  I recall the first time we visited the school, Brother Gustavo, the principal at the time, brought us to the various classrooms.  When we went in, the class would stop whatever we were doing, turned to us, and said, "Salve Maria!" (literally "Hail Mary", but used as a form of greeting).  The students were so respectful and well behaved.  It brought back my childhood memories of schooling in Hong Kong, where respect was demonstrated by all at the school.  Renee and I were sold right there and then.

Picture of Guiding Light Academy students at Saviour of the World Church After Their Christmas A Performance

On the first day of school for Adele, she cried her head off (and did so for the rest of the week).  It sounded like she was pretty freaked out that day, but from what we learned that evening, many of the older students were trying to make her feel at home.  We received a few pictures and the one below was one of them.  I don't remember who the student was, but her act was the embodiment of the culture at the school, that of love for your neighbor, regardless of who they may be.  We knew we made the right decision putting her at the school and have never looked back.

Adele's First Day of School

Deep Roots
Putting Adele and Athan in a private school is one of the "No Fun" parts of "All Joy and No Fun".  I could quickly come up with many ways of spending the equivalent of the cost a compact car every year in tuition.  That compact car will grow into a midsize car pretty quickly when Audrey and eventually Anne enter school age.  However, this is one of the sacrifices that we've decided to make for the kids.  Some might think we've put them in the school for better academics, and sure, it is making a visible difference on many fronts (Adele just finished Little House on the Prairie in one sitting last weekend - I don't think I can even read that fast), but our main reason is that we want them to have a solid foundation in our faith.  In today's world, where the government is passing legislation that undermines traditional values every year, we believe that it is of utmost importance that they start developing deep roots from the beginning.

Help!  I Need a Reason to Shave My Legs!
Lumen Veritatis is helping out families by fundraising through various events.  On May 14, we'll be participating in a walk-a-thon along the Oakville lakeshore.  Our whole family will be participating in this 5 km walk.  We'll only bring 1 stroller, so there will be a lot of walking for the kids!  They're very psyched about this, because it's their first walk-a-thon.  This is where Renee and I humbly ask for your help.  Please help us reach our goal of $1500 by making whatever contribution you are able to make.  You will receive a tax receipt for any donation $20 or more, and you can be assured that all of the proceeds will go to helping us directly.

Donate here:

To raise the stakes, here's what we're going to do.  If we reach the goals below, we, as a family, will:
$1500 - Felix will shave his legs and post a video on Youtube
$2000 - Felix will shave his head and look something like the picture at the top.  He will also make a video of it and post it on Youtube.  Renee did ask that I do it after her sister Rachel's wedding? (Why?  I think I'd look pretty good with no hair in a suit, don't know?)
$2500 - Athan has agreed to shave his head
$3000 - Adele has agreed to cut off at least 8" of her hair and donate it to the Cancer Society
$4000 - Renee has agreed to cut off at least 8" of her hair and donate it to the Cancer Society

If you're not able to contribute, we understand!  Do consider "liking" my post on Facebook so more of our friends see this post on their activity feed!

We gratefully thank you in advance for your generosity!  God bless!

春曉 - 孟浩然

If you're 25 years or older, I'm sure you will agree that time appears to pass ever more quickly as you age.  I'm 36 years old now and half my lifetime ago was about the time I started university.  Seriously?!  I still remember those days so vividly that it must have not been more than a few years back, right?  As I write this, I still cannot fathom how quickly the latter half of my life flew by.  The first 18 years of life felt terribly long.  If I were to give it a subjective ratio, it would probably be somewhere around 3:1, where the first 18 years felt about 3 times as long as the last 18 years.

Long Summer Days
I will bet that all of us remember those long summer days as kids.  The 2 months of summer holidays just seemed to last forever and ever.  I have fond memories of my brother, Eric and I, playing endless hours of video games (was it Zelda II?) when it was too hot to go outside.  How I reminisce those carefree days when our biggest problem was figuring out how to get past those stupid armored knights in the game (if you're wondering, the trick is to have full health, jump and shoot a dagger out and then attack his feet at the same time...but I digress)!  Nowadays, summer is almost over, and I still haven't gotten used to writing the year "2015".  I remember sometime last year, I accidentally wrote "2012" in my notebook...I kid you not!

Spring Morning
So, to the Chinese poem that started this post.  If you're Chinese and have studied this poem, read on.  If not, see this link for a rough translation.  Having moved to Canada when I was 8 years old, I'm impressed I can even read all of the characters in this poem!  Aside from the content, this poem exemplifies how efficient the Chinese language is.  The poem is made up of merely 20 characters, and yet, there is so much depth.  I guess this is why this poem made it into the famous "300 Tang poems".

I don't claim to understand this poem fully, but I think I've got the jist of it.  It is a little funny, however, that most sites I visited talks about the poet's love for nature and springtime.  My interpretation is much different.  But as my English teachers of the past tells me, there's no right or wrong in, please don't correct me if I'm wrong! :)

In any case, I think it captures perfectly the subtle melancholy that I feel when I reflect on the passage of time.  When we are young (springtime), we see no need to treasure the time that we have here in this world (waking up after daybreak).  We're captivated by the busy-ness of this world (birds singing).  Before we know it (storm in the night), years have passed and we find ourselves spending the last days of our lives (flower petals on the ground).  How very sad!  Let this poem be a warning for all of us of the brevity of our lives.

I also found this video below.  It's beautifully made and similarly, it captures the melancholic feeling very well.  Note the duration between the candles.

There's Hope
There's a saying about parenting, "Don't blink or they'll grow up!"  I've surrendered to the fact that yes, my kids will grow up too quickly (maybe that's why we keep having them).  It is simply a fact of life.  I try hard (maybe not hard enough) to create as many memories for my kids as possible, but it's almost a lost cause.  Between the day-to-day obligations and activities, it leaves little time to really enjoy each other.  I always feel rushed to get here, go there, buy this, do that...I'm simply a hamster on a very intricate wheel!  But alas, there is hope.

What hope is there?  There is always but one source of hope and it is our Lord.  He tells us, "In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be" (John 14:2-3).  It's not in this life that we will ever have enough time to spend with each other, but the next.  The day I welcome my kids into the gates of heaven (God willing!) will be the day when they truly get the time they deserve of me.
Hello World!

We have started to inform our family and friends, but it's never official unless it's published on the Internet, right? Thanks be to God, we are expecting our fourth child!!  He/she will be due early January.  I'm writing this as I'm sitting at the Ultrasound clinic, waiting for my turn to see the little guy/gal inside mommy's tummy.

First or Last to Know
For all of the older three, we've found out what the gender was since Renee didn't want any surprises.  I wanted to keep it a surprise for Adele but Renee said to me, "You can either be the first or last to know, your choice."  I really didn't have a choice, did I?  Now, she wants to keep it as a surprise whereas I don't.  I have a feeling I  will have no choice again.  ...I'm now back home and the ultrasound technician said it was difficult to see between the legs...LOL!  So, it looks like it'll be a surprise after all.

Story Behind This Story
There is actually a story (well, there always is).  About half a year ago, we started discerning whether 3 was it.  So, we started praying, asking God for a sign. He was kind and gave me two signs.  The first one came from Father Terry Fay.  I had met Father Terry from my time doing my now abandoned Master of Theological Studies program at U of T (maybe when the kids are older, I'll resume).  He would occasionally say mass at Chinese Martyrs and I'd say hi to him every time.  One Sunday, he was there again, and when mass was over, he came over to say hi.  While Father Terry was asking how many kids I had now (and I said 3), fellow parishioner, Ricky, came by and said, "He should have more, right?"  Father Terry didn't even answer Ricky, turned to me and said, "Three is a sacred number," and walked away.  I was like, "no way...".

So, the unbeliever in me prayed to God that night and asked, "Lord, I'm not sure if that was a coincidence or not, but if it's not offending to you, please give me a second sign to confirm the first."  Then, a little while later, while Pope Francis was in the Philippines, I read this article, and it talked about how he didn't think Catholics needed to "breed like rabbits" and "said population experts advised three children per family."  Go read the article yourself...I don't make this stuff up!  Anyway, I was floored when I read it.  If these were not clear signs from God, I don't know what is!

Are Not You More Important Than They?
Well, as you already know, God has a sense of humour!  At first, both Renee and I were somewhat anxious.  My mom already helps out a lot with the kids, and it's definitely not an easy task.  She really is a super (grand) mom!  Would having a fourth mean Renee have to stay home?  It's not easy to get by with a single (or even double) income these days.  But it would be entirely unfair to just toss this burden at my mom.  She already drops off and picks up the kids to/from school and cooks.  So, after Renee's mat leave is over (still 16 months away from that), we're planning to enroll them in before/after school care.  Renee would drop them off in the morning and leave work late, where I would go to work early and pick them up after school.  I can probably take up more cooking duties as well since I'll be home with them early.  This summer has been a trial run (parents were in Hong Kong for a month), and honestly, it's not bad.  Or I might win the lottery sometime in the next 16 months and all will be fine!

This other thought did come to mind.  If Father Terry had said, "Four is a sacred number."  Or if Pope Francis had said "population experts advised four children per family," would I be as concerned or anxious?  Obviously now, having (at least) four kids is God's will, why am I anxious?  Just because I thought He said three doesn't change the fact that four is really what He wants.  I think I might have fallen prey to confirmation bias.  Perhaps I was looking for signs of "three" and ignored other signs telling me to have four kids.  So, naturally, when I heard "three", I  clung onto these "signs" and gave them more prominence than they had deserved.

All of this anxiety has actually passed and we're now very excited about our new addition.  The house will be crazy and that's all good.  In this day and age where people look at you like you're crazy when you have even just three kids, we will be "the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden" (Matthew 5:14).  I'm excited that we can be an example for the world that kids are wonderful and they are the greatest blessing that we can receive!

Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? (Matthew 6:26)
Euro Grad Trip 2002 with Archie and Kelvin

Technology is a wonderful thing.  Ever since I found out that I could borrow audiobooks from the Mississauga Library on my phone, I knew my 1 hour plus long commute (one way) would be more bearable.  The latest book I've read was The Angel Effect by John Geiger.  I picked it randomly from a list books that were not on hold at the moment.  It turned out to be a fairly good read (er...listen).  It talks about experiences of a "sensed presence" that many refer to as angels.  They typically occur during times of danger, stress, or sadness, and often results in miraculous survival or escape from danger.

I'm not going to be doing a book review here, but I did want to talk about 2 things.  First, in the last chapter of his book, Geiger gives a summary of the topic and there was one section which I found especially interesting.  It talks about the brain versus the mind.  Second, I'd like to share an encounter I had during my grad trip to Europe.

The Brain vs. the Mind
Geiger talked about one of the scientific studies that was done in relation to this sensed presence experience.  In the study, a scientist was able to reproduce this sensation of a sensed presence by stimulating a particular location in the left brain.  This correlates well with the data from most sensed presence occurrences, because a majority of people with these experiences claim to see the "angel" at the right side of their peripheral vision or have a feeling that someone is present just behind the right side of their backs.

At this point, some of us may stop here and dismiss these experiences as purely physical phenomena, where our brains trick us into thinking we're seeing an angel.  If we can isolate the part of the brain that causes this experience, does that not prove it to be something physical, and not spiritual?

In Catholic theology, we believe that the human person is both physical and spiritual. That is, we have a body and a soul.  This is precisely why we believe that at the end of time, our bodies will be resurrected and perfected.  Angels, on the other hand, are purely spiritual. Animals are purely physical.

The intersection between our immaterial soul/mind and our body is the brain.  Geiger sees the brain as a lens into our mind, rather than as being the mind itself.  Our consciousness and mind, through the brain, experiences the physical world.  And so, because there is an inseparable link between the mind and the body, any experience in either realm is manifested in both realms.  For example, when one trips and scrapes his knee, the physical experience is translated, via electrical signals in the brain, into a painful feeling within our consciousness.  Likewise, a purely spiritual experience can manifest itself into physical brain activity.  Therefore, just because this sensed presence phenomenon can be traced to a particular physical activity in the brain, it does not automatically mean the experience was solely a physical one or that the source of this experience was physical. 

I'm quite sure I did a poor job of explaining this, but the point really is this: God created the world in such a manner that He is able to manifest Himself to us, without breaking the laws of this universe.  For example, just because evolution is a product of probability and chance, it does not mean God did not have a hand in shaping the evolution of apes into humans.  In fact, I think this is the beauty in and also the definition of faith.  That is, faith cannot be proven.  God created the world such that He can never be proven to exist.  Otherwise, what merit would we have in believing in something that is true in plain sight?

Encounter with an Angel?
Enough with the philosophical discussion...I  will now tell of the experience I had, which to this day is vivid and also inexplicable.  It definitely does not fall into the same category of experience as the "angel effects", but there is a mystery that surrounds it. 

It happened during my grad trip in 2002.  +Archie Wong and +Kelvin Lai, and I did a whirlwind backpacking trip across Western Europe in 2 weeks.  We spent a few days in Paris, which was one of our last stops.  

Since we were poor university grads back then (I'm now a poor employed professional now), we utilized public transit as much as possible.  One day, while we were at a subway station, heading towards the platform, we heard our subway train approaching it.  There was a flight of stairs between us and the train.  Afraid of missing the subway (don't really remember why we were in such a rush during vacation...), I started running up the stairs.  Since I was still relatively fit in those days, I got to the top of the stairs first, with Archie close behind and Kelvin much farther back (lol... He still smoked at that time).  

That was when I saw a young lady who was standing inside the train, beside the door, looking at us.  The door had been open for some time now and we felt that it was going to close any second.  To my surprise, the young lady stepped out between the doors, as if she was going to keep the door from closing on us.  I got on the train quickly, and as I passed by the lady, I looked at her and said a quick, "Merci".  As I got on the train, I saw Archie do pretty much the same thing as I did.  Kelvin was still taking his sweet time, but eventually, he made it onto the train as well. 

The car that we got on was the first car of the train, and we got on through the door closest to the front.  Therefore, the only place we could go was towards the back of the train. And that was exactly what we did. We walked a few steps towards the back of the train, being still pretty close to the door which we had just gone through.  After we got settled, the train started moving.  At this point in time, we hadn't even had a chance to talk about what just happened, nor was I really thinking about doing that.  What my mind was thinking about was what a nice thing that lady did for us.  In fact, I wanted to get a good look at her.  I looked toward the spot where she was standing (next to the door), but funny, she wasn't there.   She also wouldn't have walked to the back of the car because that's where the three of us were standing.

So, I looked at Archie, and Archie looked at me.  Without even describing what was going through my head, I said to him, "Where did she go?" He looked at me and replied, "I don't know."  It was apparent to the both of us that we were both trying to find the lady who had just helped us.  So, we both turned to Kelvin and asked him if he knew where the lady was.  He said, "What lady?"  "The lady who held the door open for us," I replied.  "I didn't see anyone at the door," was his response.  "How could you not have seen her?  She kept the door open for us," my voice getting a little more excited.

In the end, we couldn't figure out where she had gone.  The only other possibility was that she got off the train after she kept the door open.  But yet, before she had stepped in front of the door, she had no intention of getting off the train; the door had been open for several seconds already.  It just didn't make sense.

But yet, it could make sense.  What if she was an angel, sent by God to protect us from whatever could have happened had she not stood in the way of the door?  But there was no imminent danger.  Worst case scenario is we missed the train or maybe got separated.  It certainly didn't seem like a situation where an angel needed to interject in our daily lives. And why was Kelvin not able to see her, while only Archie and I did?  

I cannot explain the events of that day.  The lady could have been just a really nice Parisian who Kelvin just didn't notice.  But I keep the possibility of her being an angel an open one.  I certainly wouldn't mind having such an experience, but I guess we will never know what really happened... 
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