Saturday, August 29, 2009

Praying in Tongues

When I was growing up, my family always had evening prayers together. My spiritual life grew up like this. So as my turn came around to pray, I would begin like this.

"Dear Lord,

"Thank you for keeping Mom and Dad safe today. Thank you for keeping me safe today. Please give us a good night sleep tonight. Please make Grandma believe in you. Please make me grow taller."

Sometimes, my mom would suggest out some lines. And they weren't just suggestions. You'd actually have to pray them.

"Please don't let me be lazy."

"Please make me love my sisters more."

"Please take away my angry attitude."

Growing up on that. I then started to perceive her suggestions more as criticisms. And I suppose this is how we converse with each other.

"Lord, please don't let so-and-so be such a jerk."

But as I grew in years, my prayers still remained the same. Full of petitions and nothing else. Perhaps a bit of confession of sins here and there. But they were only a general confession rather than ones of specific measure.

After every one was finished, we would pray the Lord's prayer, and sing Hallelujah, thine be the glory.

Except... all of this was in Vietnamese. Now, I never learned how to read or write properly in Vietnamese until last year. Nor were my everyday conversations in Vietnamese, (except my prayers were). English was the rule. And as my vocabulary increased in English, it decreased in Vietnamese.

It wasn't until after entering college when I started to pray in English. Two reasons: 1. I didn't have to pray in Vietnamese since I was living away from my parents. 2. I had to pray in English so that my friends could understand what I was saying when I prayed with them.

Guess what happened? My prayer life exploded! I was able to begin expressing stuff that I always wanted to say but never found the right words to in Vietnamese to say so. I could begin expressing theological truths, talking about the Cross, communicating my hurts and joys to God.

Only after I came back from college to home did I noticed the difference. Evening prayers continued in Vietnamese. What the heck am I supposed to say? Thank you for teaching me to pray in English?

But the vertical divide on prayer and language is one thing. I realized then I can't communicate to my parents what God has been doing in my life while I was away either. But that's another story. Perhaps another day.

St. Cyril and St. Methodius, pray for us.
St. Jerome, pray for us.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Walking with Her

15th of September 2008, Monday

After talking with the Professor about some questions regarding his schedule and when we could meet up, I mentioned to him, with a smile, "Oh yea, I met a girl last week on Friday."

He looked at me, "Well, I can see that this is someone special, otherwise you wouldn't have tell me of the news."

Professor Budziszewski and I had a pretty close relationship. It was the beginning of the fourth year since I've met him in my freshman year. This year, I was preparing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, and he was my sponsor.

Taking his response as a cue to go on with my story, I told him of my reflections after meeting her. KC is a cute girl in my Vietnamese class. She got my attention the first day of class. It was her hair, mind you. Beautiful, long, soft and light tendrils that flowed from her face of glory. The instructor had us go around introducing ourselves. When it got to her turn, she introduced herself by her Vietnamese name, KC. Since then, everyone else knows her by her English name.

So I told the Professor, "After class ended, I left and walked down the sidewalk on Speedway and towards Inner Campus Drive where my class was. Sensing her behind me, I turned around and saw her. She smiled and I said hi. My heart leapt!

I asked her if her name was KC.

She replied, "You remember?! I never use that name." She goes by Lindsay in class and only introduced herself by that name on the first day of class.

I tried playing it off by saying, "Oh. I just know a girl who looks like you with that name in Houston."

She said, "You're from Houston then?"

"Yea," I replied.

"What year are you then? Freshman?" she quizzed me, "Sophomore?"

I raised four fingers, "Senior."

Surprised, she exclaimed, "But you look so young!"

I tried a half-hearted defense, "Well, I'm Vietnamese" with an apologetic smile.

"What's your major?" she asked. This was starting to feel like 20 Questions, but I was loving every moment of it.

"Government," I replied, "Well, I gotta go this way now. It was nice meeting you!" And with that she waved and smiled good-bye.

"Her smile is probably the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," I told the Professor, "Something that hits me inside and makes me lose my sanity and rational will, but at the same time, can't help but put a smile on my face because I know for one second that smile of joy on her face was mine, and it brings me joy knowing I was the cause of it."

I added, "I suppose that's how it works with God too. When you do His will, it brings a smile to His Face, and it's the most beautiful thing you'll ever see, and it will bring you joy, knowing that you've brought Him joy."

The Professor smiled. He asked, "Does she has a boyfriend?"

I hung my head, "Yea. She does."

"You may just luck out then," he laughed, "Have you read Dante's Divine Comedy? He talks about his beloved Beatrice. A lot of times when people fall in love, they see a glow around their beloved. Yes, it's true that there is a glow that the lovers are lost in, but for Dante, the glow he sees in Beatrice is because it is the light of God reflecting on her."

I was speechless. I just sat there, only nodding because it rang true for me. Her smile. Her hair. Her voice. I could die that moment already a happy man because in the most limited way, I saw God that day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Point Exactly!

Why Facebook is evil!

Dream I Had: The Gospel of Beer

Note: Names have been changed to protect identity.

I just had this dream, literally. It was scary enough to wake me up and make me write this at once, lest I forget it.

On the eve of Peter's birthday, a couple of my drinking buddies and I were out by the Drag. We had a couple beers with us. Before you think that I was leading a life of debauchery, I was actually praying the Rosary in the background, silently meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries of Christ. It was a Friday. I remembered I forgot a book to carry with me. So I went back to the apartment in West Campus to get Purgatorio by Dante, the second book in the Divine Comedy.

After I came back, I took out my beer to toast and cheer. My friend Peter looked at me. He smiled. I nudged him, come on man, where's your beer? He took out his bottle. It was empty. At that point, a snake rose in me. I wanted to strike him. He still held his beer out to cheer; I just sank to the ground on my knees, and the beer in my hand emptied itself into the storm drain.

The point of drinking beer isn't just to drink. The point of drinking is because you have someone else to drink it with. As we taste the bitterness of the cup, we share each others' sorrows. As we drink to our health, we shoulder each others' burdens. What a sad world this would be if there was no one to drink with. One of loneliness and despair.

Thankfully, there is One who has drank this cup, and He offers it to us. Let us take hold the cup of salvation. Let us share in the cup He gives us. He asks each and every one of us, "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" Our salvation consists of nothing less of dying to ourselves and being raised to walk in new life: the life of Christ. One might say it means being born again. For this is the way of the world: to share in the cup of suffering and to carry His Cross. I suppose the dream wasn't so bad if it led me to this new insight.

For Christ and His Church

E-mail to an Old Friend

August 17, 2009

Dear Sir,

I hope you're doing well! For the past two weeks and a half I was in Austin moving out of my apartment. I am now at home in Houston with my parents. While I was in Austin, I attended daily Mass everyday. It was amazing. I tried to go everyday while I was in Austin during the school year, but during the summer when I was home in Houston, I haven't been able to since I don't have a car.

I remember talking to you on the phone and you mentioned something about the Mass being central to one's life, the sine qua non. Well, last Saturday was the first time since I came back to Austin that I wasn't able to attend the Holy Mass. By the end of the day, I wasn't feeling that great. There seemed to be something missing. I then figured it out. I can't live apart from God. Not even one day!

Besides this discovery, last Wednesday, something really cool happened! Before daily Mass, as I was praying, I started to pray in Latin! It wasn't something alien to me, nor did it feel any different. As I was in prayer, Psalm 51, Miserere Mei, started to flow from my lips. I started to memorize this psalm since I heard the Latin chant during Lent. At that point, I knew that these were the very exact words I wanted to express to God. The sanctified words of the Holy Spirit given to me to offer back up to God the Father. It wasn't a charismatic gift or an outpouring the Holy Spirit upon me, but at the same time, I knew that the Holy Spirit was at work. I suppose in that sense, praying the psalms versus praying in tongues aren't so different.

This journey is so amazing! It rocks! I can't believe I've been missing out on the sacramental life for so long!

Peace be with you!

Daniel Bui

Dear Daniel,

God is so good. Amazing in the way we thirst for Him alone even when we don't feel thirsty. To have received the grace of the importance of the Mass is wonderful and much to be thanked for ... now learn the Te Deum! (in Latin!) if you have time and inclination.

Penetrate the Mass -- more and more --- forever. You cannot go wrong and it is the Way to the Father.

Now when you get the chance do your prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament ... and in front of the Blessed Sacrment exposed is a truly wonderful gift. Pray for a car! Then whole worlds open up for you! St Nicholas is the patron of gifts ! And this one is for Our Lord's sake! (Or a motor bike!).

Cheers and blessings.
And thanks for the news,
And asking for your prayers.


Worship Wars

Chuck Colson, a commentator on various topics, talked about good and bad worship music the other day. I think his arguments are pretty much in line with mine as well.

What makes worship music good or bad? I’ll tell you this—it’s more than simply a matter of taste. Find out why.

Pray without ceasing

This is a poem I wrote when I came back to Austin to move out of my apartment. Couldn't sleep that morning. So these words came out. After writing them, (it was about 5:30 in the morning) I went to the Mass at 6:30am at St. Mary's Cathedral.

Before the sun rises and it is dawn,
Before the moon sets and it is gone,
I will seek thee before thy mighty throne
and worship thy face, even if alone.

As the morning bird calls and lark answers,
And as the flowers bloom with morning dew,
So my soul rise to thee, lose its cancer.
Then shall I assume, I no longer doomed.

Rejoicing God thus, fly to heav'n shall we.
At the noon's day call, Satan's kingdom fall.
The Dragon defeat'd and justice meted.
Praising we him still, for this is most real!

Eternal rest, at day's end, do we pray.
Eternal Guest, come Jesus, we still say.
Be our Light, Lord and Master, move the wheels
of our hearts, with thy love, and lead us still.