Finding God in the digital world

In the age of ever-evolving technology, where everything is a click or tap away, we seem to have collectively become obsessed with instant gratification.  We complain when the internet lags, or if a video has to buffer while we are watching it.  We ask friends to send us their GPS location, it is much easier than reading a map anyway.

But God cannot be located with Google Maps; the closest I have gotten is locating the nearest Catholic Church.

And sure, there is a lot we can do to make the search for God a little easier.  The CCC is easily Googled, and the easier-to-read Compendium too.  There are all sorts of prayers of all sorts of website for all sorts of things, but no real treasure map to lead us to spirituality.

This leaves a lot of room for doubt.  If God is not on the internet, does He really exist?

But maybe we are looking in the wrong places, or not looking hard enough.  We seem to be stuck in a culture of waiting for miracles, when we should be identifying the small miracles that fly under the radar.  We cannot say that technology is evil and pull ourselves away from technology entirely – this is where most of society spends its time, and if we withdraw, we will not be able to properly relate to people.  While our devices seem to be good for nothing but distractions from a nagging hollowness, they can also be tools for meaningful connections.

I have seen my grandmother say the rosary with my aunt who lives an ocean away, all thanks to a video call.  My church’s youth ministry use social media to reach out to the people they minister to, and to draw more people to join them.  These are only a few ways that technology can help.

And these are all great things to do on days when you can remember that there is good in the world, but what about the bad days?  The days when the news of disaster and hatred and cruelty drown out everything else and make you doubt the existence of a good, benevolent God?

It takes a different set of glasses to see God in the people who volunteer after these tragedies, the stories that make your heart swell with new hope for humanity.  Or the small advancements in technology that allow wheelchairs to climb stairs, or to find God in the cat videos that make you smile on a bad day.

And on the days when you cannot find yourself through the noise of self-advertising on your Facebook feed, a digital Sabbath can do wonders.  Everyone needs a digital detox at some point, and the time spent away from a device can show you exactly how reliant you are on keeping yourself too preoccupied to enjoy the outside world.

And when you take a break from the busy world, He will come to you in the silence and the world becomes a much more beautiful place to live in. – Lauren Lopez @ CAN


Tawau lass returns to serve as local superior for the third time

Sr Maggie (2nd from L) replaces Sr Christine Sundin (4th from L) as superior of the Daughters of St Paul Kota Kinabalu for term 2018-2021.  The other sisters are Sr Laura Angie (L), Sr Jennifer (3rd from L), Postulang Aemy Soo and Postulant Laurin Devi (partially hidden) in a photo taken on the occasion of Sr Laura’s final profession in Tambunan in 2016.

KOTA KINABALU – Tawau lass Sister Magdalene Chong returns to serve as local superior of the Daughters of St Paul here for the third time.

Sr Maggie – as she is fondly known as – was appointed to head the local community by Provincial Superior Sister Delia Abian on 15 Aug 2018.

Born in Tawau in 1956, Sr Maggie entered the Daughters of St Paul in Petaling Jaya in 1979.  A year later she went to the Philippines for her formation.  She made her first profession in 1984 and took her final vows in 1990.

She served as superior in the KK community from 2001-2004 and from 2004-2006.  She was assigned to Petaling Jaya after 22 years in Sabah in July 2017 but has now been recalled to Sabah to serve as superior for a third term 2018-2021.

Reflection for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time B


First Reading
Proverbs 9:1-6
Wisdom has set a feast before us.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 34:2-3,4-5,6-7
A prayer of praise to God for his goodness

Second Reading
Ephesians 5:15-20
Filled with the Spirit, Christians strive to follow the will of the Lord.

Gospel Reading
John 6:51-58
Jesus teaches that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will live forever.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On this Sunday, we continue to read from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. Today’s Gospel elaborates further on the teaching that Jesus began in our liturgy last week. In that reading, the crowds wondered about how Jesus could say that he had come down from heaven because they knew Jesus to be the son of Joseph. In this Gospel, some have difficulty with Jesus’ teaching that he is the living bread sent from God. Recall that Jesus had told them that just as God gave the Israelites manna to sustain them in the desert, so now God has sent new manna that will give eternal life. We hear the concluding verse of last week’s Gospel repeated in today’s reading: Jesus himself is the bread sent by God; Jesus’ flesh is the bread that is given for the life of the world.

Among the stumbling blocks for those who heard but did not understand Jesus is the teaching that the bread that Jesus will give is his own flesh. In response to the people who quarreled over his words, Jesus teaches with even greater emphasis that salvation comes to those who eat his Body and Blood. Jesus doesn’t seem to answer the question posed about how salvation will come about, perhaps because this reality can only be understood after his death and Resurrection. Instead, Jesus teaches about the life that he will give to the world.

To many ears, Jesus’ words are jarring and difficult to hear. Many who heard Jesus could not accept what he said. Many today continue to struggle to accept these words. But they are important words because they reveal our intimate connection with Jesus.

This is the mystery that is at the heart of our eucharistic theology. In the elements of bread and wine, Jesus’ Body and Blood are made truly present. When we share in the Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus himself comes to dwell within us. This communion with the Lord makes us one body, brings us eternal life, and sends us forth to be Christ’s body for the life of the world.  –


Telupid youth organise second night of praise concert

The organisers pose for the camera after the youth concert, 27 July 2018, St Martin Parish Hall Telupid.

TELUPID – The youth of St Martin here organised a second night of praise concert at the parish hall on 27 July 2018.

It was organised jointly with the Telupid Event Management after two years of the inaugural concert.

Around 300 people attended the event including Father Jasery Gabuk,  Father Stanley Matakim,  parents, the Infinite Worship Band, and youth from other denominations.

It began with a welcoming address from organising chairperson Fettwinda Sipaan who thanked all those who came in support of the event.

In his turn, Fr Stanley urged those present to support the youth in all their activities before saying the opening prayer.

The concert was divided into First Wave (five songs) and Second Wave (seven songs) led by Infinite Worship Band of Kuala Penyu.

The objective of the concert was to invite the youth to be actively involved in church ministry and activities with the support of their parents.

The youth were given time before the concert proper to practise the different musical instruments and to sing the various songs of praise.

The event closed with a prayer-blessing from Fr Jasery who said he was delighted with the turnout of the concert.

Manila hit by floods, Card Tagle opens churches to those affected

Relief material being distributed to flood-affected people in the Philippine capital, Manila. (ANSA)

MANILA – Catholic churches in Manila were opened to accommodate thousands of people displaced by widespread flooding in the Philippine capital caused by several days of heavy rain.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila ordered parishes to open churches and urged people to help those in need.  He also encouraged contributions to these parishes and social action centres.

Cardinal Tagle noted that the floods — as deep as two metres in some places — might be a reminder from nature for people to care for what Pope Francis has described as “our common home.”

“Part of our call is for everyone not to add to what could destroy our environment,” said the cardinal.

The flood prompted the Catholic bishops’ conference’s social action arm to call on the government to fast track the creation of a government department in charge of disaster preparedness, mitigation and response.

Father Edwin Gariguez of the National Secretariat for Social Action said such a department was “very urgently needed.”

He said that while church organisations “have already carved out a way for a more responsive and integrated disaster response … there is a need to make these efforts more sustainable and spread out across the country.”

The southwest monsoon, boosted by tropical storm Karding, brought heavy rains and floods in different parts of Metro Manila over the weekend [11-12 Aug 2018], killing three people.

The rains and floods affected a total of 248,080 families or about 1.1 million people from 713 villages in Manila and surrounding regions.

Of the total affected population, 13,724 families or 59,108 individuals were displaced and took shelter in evacuation centres.

A total of 51 houses were destroyed and 3,127 others were damaged in the Ilocos and central Luzon regions.

The Philippine state weather bureau said several areas, including Manila, might continue to experience flooding in the coming days.

Classes were suspended on Aug 13 as authorities expect moderate to intense monsoon rains to hit the northern part of the country.

Meanwhile massive clean-up efforts are under way in Manila, with piles of garbage and debris having washed up on roads and streets as a result of overflowing major dams and rivers that serve the city.

Residents were seen trying to salvage whatever they could from the accumulated wreckage. – CBCP News/Vatican News

400 KSFX wardens attend recollection

Participants pose for remembrance at the end of the recollection, 28 July 2018, St John Biah.

KENINGAU – Some 400 wardens of Katedral St Francis Xavier attended a parish-level recollection at St John Biah on 28 July 2018.

The theme of the recollection was “Recognising others through Christ.”

In his homily at the opening Mass, Father Bonaventure Unting touched on the importance of the wardens’ ministry in welcoming and helping the parishioners to be part of the worshipping community.  He also touched on teamwork and hoped the participants would take the time given for personal reflection.

After Mass, Patrick Marius gave a talk on ethics and spiritual life of a warden followed by another talk by Severinus Jaitin on the role and responsibility of a warden.

The next recollection will be hosted by Toboh Baru Zone in 2019.

The Church marks 25 years of ‘Veritatis Splendour’

VATICAN CITY  – On August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration, the Church marked the 25th anniversary of Pope St John Paul II’s landmark encyclical, Veritatis splendor. St John Paul himself explained the reason for the encyclical: Although the Church has “at all times developed and proposed a moral teaching regarding the many different spheres of human life,” in our times, “it seems necessary to reflect on the whole of the Church’s moral teaching” which “risks being distorted or denied.”

To understand the main themes of Veritatis splendor, Vatican News spoke with moral theologian Dr Matthew Tsakanikas, the head of the Theology Department at Christendom College in the United States. Pope John Paul touches on many themes in the encyclical, he said, but went on to point out three of particular importance.

The first main point, Dr Tsakanikas said, can be seen at the very beginning of Veritatis splendor: All of us are called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. In particular, he said “That means that we are loved by God, that faith in Christ enables us to live a moral life, because we believe in God’s love for us.”

God’s love for us indicates a second main point, that “God only wants our good, God wants our happiness.” That naturally leads to the question, “What is our true happiness?” Quoting Saint Augustine, Dr Tsakanikas says “Happiness is joy in the truth.” True happiness, he explains can be found in healthy relationships, relationships of love and friendship with God and others. “This desire for truth and goodness is what leads us to recognise that the moral life is about loving others, and not using [them].”

The final point emphasised by Dr Tsakanikas (“although there are many more”) is that “there are freely chosen kinds of behaviours that are destructive to human fulfillment in union with God.” This, he said, “is the heart of what the encyclical wanted to bring to us and to recover in the Catholic tradition, that the ends can’t justify the means.” Pope St John Paul teaches that there really are “intrinsically evil” actions that can never lead to true happiness, and which can therefore never be chosen.

Although Veritatis splendor was specifically addressed to bishops, Dr Tsakanikas said the encyclical is definitely for lay people as well. “I would remind people there’s an intrinsic connection between the moral life and worship, and the moral life is what actually allows us to enter into authentic worship.” Entering into a loving and fruitful relationship with God requires us “to enter freely and surrender” our own will to God’s will – which is love.

He urged the faithful, to reflect on the teaching of Veritatis splendour especially in light of the Mystery of Jesus’ Transfiguration, which is one of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. Recalling that the encyclical was released on the liturgical feast of the Transfiguration, Dr Tsakanikas said John Paul’s teaching is “all about the light that shone from the Face of Christ… it’s referring to the Transfiguration, the divinity of Jesus Christ, who is truly God and truly man, this divinity shining out from His Face. And the moral life is all about that divinity growing in your soul by living a life in union with Him” precisely because “it’s your free choices that consolidate good will, or that bad will.” And so, he said, we should be resolving to grow daily, “to be choosing every day to be making acts of love through faith in Jesus Christ.” – Christopher Wells, Vatican News

Assumption of Mary (Day of Obligation)

Assumption Masses will be celebrated as follows:

Tue Aug 14
SHC 7:30 pm (Eng)
CMI 7:30 pm (Mand)
SP Dontozidon 7:30 pm (Kad)
Wed Aug 15
SHC 6 am (Eng)
SP Dontozidon 6:30 am (Eng)
Carmelite Chapel 6:30 am (Eng)

First Reading
Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a,10ab
The sign of God’s salvation will be a woman clothed with the sun.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 45:10-12,16
The queen takes her place next to God.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 15:20-27
Christ has redeemed Adam’s sin.

Gospel Reading
Luke 1:39-56
Mary greets Elizabeth and sings God’s praise.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s feast celebrates Mary’s Assumption into heaven. It is one of the four feasts that are Holy Days of Obligation for Catholics in Malaysia. The assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven has long been held as an important Catholic belief. The belief was not defined as dogma, however, until 1950 by Pope Pius XII. The dogma teaches that Mary, who was without sin, was taken, body and soul, into the glory of heaven.

The Gospel for this holy day recalls Mary’s actions after the announcement of Jesus’ birth by the Angel Gabriel. Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is also with child. Elizabeth greets Mary with full recognition of the roles they and their unborn children will play in God’s plan for salvation. Mary responds to Elizabeth’s greeting with her song of praise, the Magnificat. Both women recall and echo God’s history of showing favour upon the people of Israel. Mary’s Magnificat, in particular, echoes the song of praise offered by Hannah, the mother of Samuel.

The Gospel for this day reminds us that Mary’s Assumption into heaven is best understood with regard for the full spectrum of Catholic beliefs about the person of Christ and the person of Mary. Only Mary, who was born without stain of original sin—the Immaculate Conception—could give birth to Christ, who is fully God and fully human. This is called the Immaculate Conception. Because of Mary’s role in God’s plan of salvation, she does not suffer from the effects of sin, which are death and decay. Mary is the first to receive the fullness of the redemption that her son has won for all of humanity. The Church, therefore, recognises Mary as the sign of the salvation promised to all.

Today’s Gospel highlights Mary’s faith. Mary’s faith enabled her to recognise the work of God in her people’s history and in her own life. Her openness to God allowed God to work through her so that salvation might come to all. Mary is a model and symbol of the Church. May we be like Mary, open and cooperative in God’s plan of salvation.

Second Sook lad ordained priest

New priest Fr David Gasikol poses with Bishop Cornelius Piong and seven of his classmates after the ordination ceremony, 11 Aug 2018, Holy Spirit Sook.

SOOK – Holy Spirit Parish here hosted the priestly ordination ceremony for its second son on 11 Aug 2018. The first ordinand was Father Bonaventure Unting in 2001.

Some 3000 faithful turned up for the ordination ceremony of Deacon David Richard Gasikol, 33, officiated by Bishop Cornelius Piong.

Among the invited guests were his classmates – five priests and two deacons –  from Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching as well as his mother, siblings, and relatives.

In his address after the Mass, Bp Cornelius urged the neo-ordained to remain obedient after his ordination for he has observed that many priests turn “sombong” or proud after ordination.  One can only be obedient if one has humility of heart.

Born in Sook on 29 June 1985, the neo-ordained entered the aspirancy at the Catholic Archdiocesan Centre Penampang in 2010.  After a year at the Initial Formation House in Kota Kinabalu in 2011, he went on for his philosophical and theological studies at St Peter’s College Kuching from 2012 – 2017.

After ordination, the neo-ordained remains posted at the Katedral St Francis Xavier Keningau where he has been assigned since his diaconal ordination early this year.  He is also the spiritual advisor to the Keningau Diocesan Social Communications Commission.

Sook, 148 km from Kota kinabalu,  is a small town and district located in the Interior Division. It serves as a timber and agricultural town as well as a transit town for motorists travelling from Keningau to Tawau via the Keningau-Sook-Sapulut-Kalabakan-Tawau road.

MOT holds meeting to launch SYD-5

Members of the 5th Sabah Youth Day (SYD5) pose for the camera at their gathering at Kg Notoruss Penampang, 4-5 Aug 2018.

PENAMPANG – Members of the main organising team held a two-day meeting to launch the 5th Sabah Youth Day (SYD-5) on 5-6 Aug 2018 at the Bamboo House Riverside Kampung Notoruss here.

The 13 participants represented the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese and the Dioceses of Keningau and Sandakan.

The theme of the SYD-5 will be “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let what you have said be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

The gathering was a time for prayer, reflection and brainstorming on enfleshing the rationale and objectives of the youth event in countering the issues brought up in the March 2018 meeting at Pace Bene Papar.

The objectives of SYD-5 are threefold:  1) bringing the youth to celebrate their Catholic faith; 2) helping the youth to follow Mother Mary in obeying the call of God; 3) strengthening the youth to become witnesses to Christ in this millennium.

The Main Organising Team (MOT) together with Father Joshua Liew and Father David Garaman paid a courtesy call on Archbishop John Wong at his office on Aug 7.

Franciscan Sister Dora Obod, as SYD5 coordinator, presented the rationale, objectives and progress report to the prelate.  In response, the prelate expressed his support for the programme presented.

The launching of SYD5 will be at Holy Trinity Tawau on 22-24 Feb 2019, followed by the Journey of the Youth Cross and Marian Icon across Sabah until the culmination in 2020 at St Joseph Papar / Holy Rosary Limbahau.


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