Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Fulget in caelis - a hymn in honour of St. Augustine

Happy Feast of Our Holy Father Saint Augustine!

To the Order of Preachers, he is specially honoured as one of the holy fathers because St. Dominic adopted Augustine's Rule as the Dominicans' rules of life. To me personally, the image of Augustine has always been passionately romantic, thanks to his Confessions, a remarkable work that shows his deep love and longing for the Ancient Beauty. I mean who doesn't love his profoundly sentimental lament that precedes with "Late have I loved you"? It goes like this:
"Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace."

(Note: With a passion like this, I'm pretty sure Augustine himself was a rather fine young man back in his days. Pity he was a thug.)

I would like to share today's breviary hymn specially dedicated to the Doctor of Grace. This hymn was originally titled "Fulget in caelis" and was dedicated to St. Gregory the Great; the new translation added Augustine's name in the lyrics. I was immediately captured by the first and third stanzas: although they are about Augustine, they are also a good reflection of the Dominicans' zeal for preaching the truth, and so contemplating on this hymn has renewed my own spirit!

Here is the hymn. Enjoy!


Those who teach others sound and sacred doctrine
Shine, say the Scriptures, as the stars of heaven.
Such is Augustine, shedding light unfailing
Down through the ages.

City of Zion in the joys of heaven,
Praise the almighty Lord of true salvation,
Who led Augustine through such restless seeking
Safe to your heaven.

Earnest defender of the faith he treasured,
Dauntlessly checking all attacks of error,
Morals and virtue grew in strength and luster
From his clear teaching.

Vigilant pastor of your flock as bishop,
Light and example for both monks and clerics,
Pray for us always, so that God our Father
Ever may bless us.

Praise to the Godhead, Trinity most holy,
Whose divine Essence formed your chosen study
Even while earth-bound, what must be your rapture
Now in high heaven! Amen.

Melody: Herr Deinen Zorn
Music: Johann Crüger, 1653
Text: Fulget in caelis, T: Eckbert Scönau, 12th century
Translation: the Benedictines of Saint Cecilia's Abbey, Ryde, UK

*Credit of the above image goes to my friend, brother, and future Dominican friar, Harry Purnomo.

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Mantilla Post

I veil.

That's it. I've said it.

No, I'm not a pyromaniac religious extremist. How can I?—my pretty mantilla will catch fire! *shudder* Nor am I a "traddie" who thinks that there are two kinds of Catholic Church, pre-Vatican II (thumbs up) and post-Vatican II (thumbs down).

I do, however, think that the Church's tradition of veiling is too beautiful a tradition to be lost. A woman who veils immediately sparks the sense of sacredness and mystery inherent—but often blurred or distorted—in her. Of course, veiling the head must also be accompanied by a proper veiling of the rest of the body. I'm not talking about a head-to-toe niqab, but simply clothing suited to the time and occasion. You don't combine a reverent lace veil with a mini skirt or a pair of fishnet stockings, do you? (No you don't.)

The History

I first knew about the mantilla when an acquaintance invited me to my first Tridentine Latin Mass. He said veiling was preferred for this form of Mass, although not veiling was to be tolerated because at that time the TLM was still being slowly introduced to the public. I thought the idea of veiling was interesting, so I borrowed my mum's. She is a convert from Islam, so her veil is a "real", large veil that is meant to be wrapped around your head to form a hijab.

Over time, as I knew and grew more in the faith, and after seeing pictures of modern women regularly veiling at Novus Ordo Mass (yes, South Korea, hats off to your ladies!), I began to veil again. Now I've been veiling regularly at Mass and Adorations for almost two years.

The Style

This is a flesh-coloured mantilla I bought during my recent trip to Greece. I'm guessing that it must be an Orthodox veil (if there's such a thing) because I bought it in an Orthodox monastery. It's triangular, with very long front ends relative to the back tip. This veil has become my regular veil because its muted colour makes it less distracting.

This is the white, "classic" lace veil in a semicircular shape. Before I had the flesh-coloured mantilla, this veil was my staple, but now I wear it mostly for solemnities. Since I'm an aspirant of Lay Dominican, I will also wear this veil during Dominican special days, like the birthday of the order, and the feasts of our Holy Fathers Saint Dominic, Saint Francis, and Saint Augustine.

And finally, this is the black lace veil. It's not completely black, it has "spots" of blood-red flowers on it. I wear this one during Lent and Advent, although I may also be found wearing it during Ordinary Times when I forget to replace it with the white or the flesh-coloured one. This veil is also semicircular, but smaller in size than the white veil.

The Logistics

It's difficult to find real mantillas in the country, even in Christian or Catholic shops, at least the ones "on the land". There are veils, but these are Muslim-style veils that are quite large and long. I ordered my white and black mantillas from an online shop. I actually don't like ordering clothing articles from online shops because I can't touch them (I have sensitive atopic skin that can't tolerate certain fabrics) and I can't try them on first. But since these were veils, I figured I would just try and order them. I wasn't disappointed :)

The Experience

VERY self-conscious at first! O_O I could FEEL people staring at me! (yes I'm a Jedi) I tried hard not to be fidgety with the edge of the veil. The veil is supposed to make you more focused to what happens at the altar, not to yourself!

But as I've become accustomed to the habit, I now feel naked if I'm not wearing it in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I don't fidget anymore, I am much more relaxed, and I don't worry so much about the staring (I think the congregation has already familiar anyways with this weird veiling girl in the parish). Plus, the way that the left and right edges of the mantilla fall slightly in front of the corners of my eyes, physically acts as a barrier against my surrounding, thus helping me to keep my attention to the altar and to the song booklet.

Once, for fun, I put up a picture of me wearing the white veil as my Blackberry display picture. I wanted to know if there would be reactions. Oh yes there were. My Muslim friends passionately asked me if I had converted to Islam! I happily explained the tradition of Catholic veiling and although they seemed to be a little disappointed (sorry guys, a troll is a troll), they were positively approving of the tradition. A nice evangelisation starter, no?

To be honest, there's still a teeny wee concern with veiling, that is, I'm afraid that people will view me as holier-than-thou, especially because I receive on the tongue as well (I don't know what would become of me if I also receive while kneeling!). For me, though, the act of veiling—and receiving on the tongue—is a beautiful physical reminder of my submission to the Lord. It makes me more feminine, in the way that I become more receptive of Him and His graces.

Truly, what you do with your body expresses the sentiments of your heart.


Thanks to Call Her Happy for her mantilla link-up, which inspires the uninspired! :)

Friday, 23 August 2013

3 pits set by Satan against goodness, according to Saint John Climacus

Hello everyone! Time for some depressing thoughts on demons and demonology! (Demonology is one of my favourite topics in theology (I know. Freaky). I'm not obsessed with it, I simply treat it as a piece of spiritual and practical knowledge, because hey, the Devil exists!)

Saint John Climacus, also known as John Scholasticus, John Sinaites, and John of the Ladder, was a 7th-century monk who lived on Mount Sinai. He is famous for his classical writing The Ladder of Divine Ascent or simply the "Climax". The Ladder is an ascetical treatise on how to reach a state of "feelinglessness" vital to the monastic life. While many things in the book are not immediately practical and need to be greatly adjusted to the modern life, his reflections on the nature of temptation do help us become more aware of the snares of our terrible Enemy.

Here are the 3 pits set by Satan against goodness, according to St. John Climacus.

1. Prevent good from being done
This is the first and most obvious trick of Satan. He will set external circumstances so that they become barriers for good things to occur. Or, he will trick us into thinking it is impossible to do good. We get fatigued, frustrated, discouraged, and finally we choose not to do it at all. If this discouragement persists, we eventually become a pessimistic soul. We no longer see the use of trying, because we are convinced that the poor will still be poor, natural disasters will still happen all the time, and undeserving people still get rich and popular.

2. Ensure that things are not done according to the Will of God
This pit is more difficult to discern unless we have known God and His ways in our life to a certain extent. Maybe we desire to do certain good things for the society. We may even dream of doing great things for the world, noble things that we think must be pleasant to God and beneficial to others (which, in themselves, may indeed be pleasant to God and beneficial to others). Armed with this confidence, we push through boldly, not caring about what other people say, not listening to our heart, and consequently we become dangerously stubborn.

There are as many ways to do good as there are charisms and vocations - from renouncing all material wealth and living in a secluded monastery, to remaining as a CEO who implements Catholic moral principles into the company's rules and uses personal income to help build an orphanage, to becoming a devout housewife and homeschooling mother. Not everyone is called to be a Mother Teresa, a Joan of Arc, or a Padre Pio. Sometimes our true vocation may not be likeable or may even be alarming to us at first. But we need to keep in mind that doing God's will is what pleases Him the most and what will give Him the greater glory. We are all called to holiness; the question is, how we get there.

3. Drag us down through pride
If we have successfully navigated our way to a godly life, the last stumbling block to holiness is pride. Pride is the sneakiest, most dangerous sin, because it can seep into all the seven virtues. The temptation can take many forms: well-meaning compliments from others, admiration from the society, certain fortune after we do good, or just a general sense of accomplishment that swells in our heart. We start to rationalise our behaviours and our thoughts, and we no longer feel the need to go to confession. Nothing gives the demons such power over us as nourishing and hiding them in our heart unconfessed.

We must be wary of this last pit, the pit of pride, because it is like a worm hidden inside the fruits of our good work.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Hymn: "Who Are These Like Stars Appearing?" by Frances E. Cox, 1841

1. Who are these like stars appearing,
These before God’s throne who stand?
Each a golden crown is wearing;
Who are all this glorious band?
Alleluia! Hark, they sing,
Praising loud their heav’nly King.

2. Who are these of dazzling brightness,
These in God’s own truth arrayed,
Clad in robes of purest whiteness,
Robes whose luster ne’er shall fade,
Ne’er be touched by time’s rude hand?
Whence come all this glorious band?

3. These are they who have contended
For their Savior’s honor long,
Wrestling on till life was ended,
Following not the sinful throng;
These who well the fight sustained,
Triumph through the Lamb have gained.

4. These are they whose hearts were riven,
Sore with woe and anguish tried,
Who in prayer full oft have striven
With the God they glorified;
Now, their painful conflict o’er,
God has bid them weep no more.

5. These, like priests, have watched and waited,
Offering up to Christ their will;
Soul and body consecrated,
Day and night to serve Him still:
Now in God’s most holy place
Blest they stand before His face.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

St. Francis and St. Dominic: When opposites attract

Our Lady enthroned with Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic

"Francis is the easiest saint to understand and love, while Dominic is the most difficult," thus saith Chesterton.

This is sadly true for many Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Picture the typical image of Saint Francis of Assisi: a joyful ever-smiling beggar standing in a lush garden, surrounded by birds, rabbits, and a tame wolf. Everything about Francis has been positive: his preaching to the birds, Canticles of the Sun, and even the newfound love for Pope Francis has propagated this pleasant image of the humble saint.

But Dominic. Who is he? Isn't he that stern-faced preacher wearing a regal black-and-white robe who always carries a book? And wasn't he an Inquisitor? Maybe he was a great thinker, alright, but not much of a likeable guy, was he?

Perhaps this is why the story of their special friendship will likely take many by surprise.
One summer night in 1215, during his stay in Rome, Francis had a vision: he saw Our Lord prepared to unleash the most terrible chastisements upon the world. His Most Holy Mother was making an effort to placate Him, asking His mercy and forgiveness. For this purpose, she presented two men who would labour for the conversion of the world and return a countless number of lost sheep to the fold. Francis recognised himself as one of these apostles. He did not recognise the other one, however. 
The following day, he was in one of the churches of Rome when suddenly an unknown person came up to him, embraced him, and said: “You are my companion, we will work together, supporting one another toward the same end, and no one will prevail against us.” Francis recognised him as the other man in the vision. It was St. Dominic, who had also received a similar vision before the meeting. When he saw Francis in that church, he immediately went to greet him, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
"Meeting of St. Francis and St. Dominic". Artist: Fra Angelico

While in reality Dominic loved peace and the poor as much as Francis did (Dominic sold his expensive and rare theology books to feed the victims of famine!), and both had a profound Marian devotion, Francis and Dominic were indeed two very different personalities, and consequently they infused these different characters into their respective orders. The Franciscan Order is known for their simplicity in approach to life and faith. The great conversions of the Franciscans came about through the consideration of the Wounds of Our Lord, His Passion, His poverty and spirit of sacrifice. They preach with zest directly from their fiery souls, for they aim to move the will through the heart.

Meanwhile, the Order of Preachers—or the Dominican Order—is the "scholarly order"; to his friars Dominic always emphasised study, because he believed that solid evangelisation wouldn't be possible if they hadn't studied first. The Dominican mission is an intellectual work, that is, the study and teaching of philosophy, theology, and apologetics. St. Dominic was known to spend sleepless vigils poring over his books, and later in life these study sessions transformed into nights of thorough preaching and conversions. Indeed, the Dominicans move the will by appealing to the mind.

A great similarity leads to friendship, but so also does a great dissimilarity when it is not the dissimilarity of opposition, but rather one that is complementary. One had something that the other was lacking. Together they constituted a harmonic ensemble. For this reason, they admired one another. These two holy men embraced each other and were enthusiastic for each other's mission, because although they had different approaches, their end was essentially the same: the conversion of souls and the building of the Kingdom.

To this day, the two orders enjoy a unique and special relationship. The Franciscans celebrate St. Dominic as a Feast, and likewise the Dominicans honour St. Francis of Assisi in their calendar of saints. A Dominican event can be led by a Franciscan friar, and likewise a Franciscan ceremony may be led by a Dominican.

If you want one more proof of their friendship, check out the Litany of the Saints: the names of St. Francis and St. Dominic are mentioned together!

PS. But wait, there are more similarities between the two Holy Fathers than you might think! Go read Francis and Dominic: One Heart and Mind to satisfy the Devil's advocate in you!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

14 Most Common Indonesian Independence Day Games

Happy Independence Day, Indonesia! It's been 68 years! :D

Today's special article will talk about 14 most common games/competitions played during the Independence Day celebration. Here they are!

1. Eating crackers.
Indonesia has a specific type of crackers, called kerupuk putih ("white kerupuk") or simply kerupuk. It is made of tapioca and has a woven look. In this timed game, kerupuks are hanged on ropes and each player will try to eat his kerupuk without using hands. The winner is the one who can finish his kerupuk the most.

2. Transferring eels.
In this game, players transfer eels as many as they can from a bucket into another bucket, or sometimes into a bottle, for added difficulty. The second row of containers are placed a few meters across the first row of containers so players must race each other without dropping the eels. Usually smaller eels are used, and eels being eels, they are pretty slimy; there will be some poor eels that get dropped and lost in the grassy ground.

3. Inserting a nail into a bottle.
Each player will have a rope tied around his waist, with a nail (or a pencil or a pen) dangling from the back side of the rope. Players must race each other to the end of the yard, where they will try to insert their perpetually swaying nails into open bottles.

4. Marble race.
In this game, each player will race while carrying a marble. The catch is, the marble will be placed on a spoon, which must be carried by mouth, which must be transferred onto another player's spoon waiting a few meters across, who must carry the marble to the Start line again. Depending on the rule, if a player drops his marble, he may have to go back to the Start line and restart the race, or he simply needs to put the marble back onto the spoon. Some versions of the game also require the players to scoop up the marbles themselves from a plate, using the spoons in their mouths.

This game is very popular with the kids, but I personally think the transferring marble part most entertaining when performed by adults.

5. Sack race.
I'm sure the sack race is familiar to many people around the globe, so no need to explain it further. But here's a beautiful black-and-white picture of boys competing in the race.

6. Bakiak race.
A bakiak is essentially a wooden sandal, like those worn by Japanese geishas. The bakiak in this race, however, is made of a long block of wood with *at least* three rubber or fabric loops serving as the footing. The bakiak race is a team game and requires good cooperation. One player will be made leader of his team, and the leader will be in the front shouting commands like "left, right, left, right" to the players behind him. Eventually there will be teams who stumble, but the trickiest part is actually when they have to turn around and go back to the Start line! The winning team is the one who cross the Start line first. Teams who stumble and fall in the middle of the race are not usually disqualified.

7. Egrang (stilt) race.
'Nuff said.

8. Bolster fight.
This is my favourite Independence Day game because it's very, VERY fun to watch! Opponents will sit facing each other, spread-legged, on a pole of bamboo suspended above a body of water, and they will fight each other using bolsters (or pillows). A player loses if he falls into the water. The catch is, and what makes it even more hilarious, sometimes you fall not because your opponent hits you, but because you lose balance on the bamboo!

9. Popping balloons.
Each player will have a balloon tied to his ankle, and at the sound of the whistle, will have to try to pop the others' balloons. The winner is the one whose balloon remains intact. I have personally participated in this game when I was like 8 years-old, and I can proudly say that I was one of the last two persons standing! (the other person eventually beat me, but he was a boy, so I can still have my credit, can't I?)

10. Dancing while balancing balloons.
Another hilarious game to watch! Each player and his partner (preferably with the same height) have to balance a balloon using their foreheads, and dance to music! Sometimes oranges instead of balloons are used. The winning couple is the one that can dance the longest without dropping their balloon/orange.

11. Men's football (soccer) in nightgowns.
Guys like to take pride in their football (soccer) skills, but can they do it while wearing women's nightgowns??

12. Blindfolded makeup.
In this timed game, teams made up of two persons will try to apply makeup to each other in turns. The one who applies will have their eyes blindfolded. I personally have never seen this game, but I saw it once or twice on the TV. For added fun, a rule can be made that a team must be of a husband and wife.

13. Tug of war.
Very popular with the school kids, office employees, and military folks. No need to explain this one, so I'll just give you a picture.

14. Pole climbing (panjat pinang).
This is the ULTIMATE game in any Independence Day celebrations. Traditionally, it uses pinang trunks (hence its name "panjat pinang" = pinang climbing), but regular poles can also be used. On the top of each pole/pinang are prizes of various values, from a plastic bucket to a television set, from a pair of flip-flops to a bicycle.

Pole climbing is usually reserved for adult men, although older boys may also participate. This is because the game is pretty physical; the players will have to make a human ladder so that one person can climb his friends towards the hanging prizes. This is not a rule, however. A person is allowed to climb by himself, if he can :p But this is almost impossible because the poles will usually be smeared with oil to make things even more difficult.

So, Happy Independence, Indo bros and sis! MERDEKA!!*

*merdeka = to be free, to be independent. A slogan yelled during Independence Day.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

My debut on Catholic Lane

Hey guys? Guys? The awesome Chelsea Zimmerman (Reflections of a Paralytic) has accepted my article to be featured on Catholic Lane! And starting today I am a CL contributor!!! W00t w00t! Here's the link to the article: Five Commonalities Between Christianity and Islam.

Actually, I also have to thank Jason Hall, one of the editors on CL, for inviting me and for recommending me to Chelsea. I knew Jason from Twitter (yes, I'm the typical Generation Y) and we had been acquainted for some time before he offered me this opportunity. Thank you, Jason! Thank you, Chelsea!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Thomas Merton's Prayer

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

We see the present clearly, but He sees the first and the last.
(Trust His Heart - Ray Boltz)

Sunday, 4 August 2013

My ideal saintly family

In my ideal world, I am allowed to choose people to be my blood relatives. If you were my friend in that ideal world, I would love to introduce the following men and women as my family:

My grandparents

Jorge Mario (Pope Francis): he is the wise, warm, and ever-smiling opa. His laughter contains all the joys in the world and he loves all his children and grandchildren with heart-melting, soul-building love. He never doubts, knows his ways, but is always patient with people, especially with his three children: Joseph, Francis, and John Ronald.

Teresa (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta): an equally patient and warm woman, Oma Teresa is the female version of Opa Jorge Mario. She is quick to help those in needs, and she understands the values of family. She may be old but her mind is as young and daring as an ordinary teenage girl.

My parents

Francis (St. Francis de Sales): my father is a patient and calm man who can be surprised by nothing. He seems to have so profound an understanding of many human problems that whatever bizarre deeds and thoughts we have can be understood easily by him. He can be stern too, however, because he is very adamant that we go to Confession regularly and particularly when our attempted sarcasm is not very holy.

Martha (St. Martha): my mother Martha is an active type of woman who likes to serve her family and guests. She does not like to be idle and always succeeds in finding things to occupy her mind and her hands. Sometimes she wonders why her husband and her children can spend time reading and writing in solitude, but she nevertheless takes pride in their achievements.

My siblings and me

Thomas (St. Thomas Aquinas): Thomas is my nerdy religious brother who is too smart for anyone. I admire and even envy him a little, with loving filial envy. He's like a walking encyclopaedia; every question and doubt I have, he apparently has thought about and answered it before it got to me. The most awesome thing is how he still keeps his humility, calling his work "straw" compared to what will be revealed to him. He's really that cool. Oh and he's also a dog person.

Me: Caught between two brilliant thinkers and prolific writers, I can't help borrowing a bit from both. Sometimes I don't know what to do about my overly-talented siblings. Needless to say, I'm their #1 fangirl. While I sometimes have to endure Thomas's "tall" language albeit fascinating explanations on things, Gilbert keeps me sane with his ridiculously logical sarcasm.

Gilbert (G. K. Chesterton): My funny younger brother. His wit often annoys the serious Thomas, although they essentially agree to the same things. Unlike Thomas who studies theology at college, Gilbert begins his writing career by sending jokes and satires to local newspapers. While Thomas decides to pursue religious life as a Dominican priest, Gilbert is off to a good, happy, fat life with steak, wine, and cigar.

Cecilia (St. Cecilia): In a family of writers, Cecilia is the pretty little enigmatic child because she is the only one with musical talent. As the youngest child she often feels insecure because her friends keep asking her which side of the family she gets her talent from. Well there's one in every family, right?

My uncles and cousins

Joseph (Pope Benedict XVI): Uncle Joseph is the eldest of my father's siblings. He is the grumpy-looking but kind-hearted uncle. My grandfather, Opa Jorge, often tells him to relax a little bit and go out and play with his nephew Karol, but Uncle Joseph prefers to be inside his vast home library surrounded by his thick books and equally thick cats. He tweets sometimes, though, and he always has excellent advice for everyone. I always go to him whenever I feel the need to nourish my mind with sound perspectives on life.

John Ronald (J.R.R. Tolkien): Uncle John Ronald is my father's younger brother. He tends to be quiet like Uncle Joseph but is more laid back. He enjoys storytelling and his eyes always seem to wander to faraway lands only he can imagine. I like visiting his house because it always smells like tobacco from his pipe, and his small library is full of classic literatures from around the world. Uncle John Ronald is also a closet-cartographer and linguist; he makes detailed maps of imaginary countries and invents languages of strange nations. Spending a day in his house is like spending a day in a world of elves, dwarves, and giants who speak with depth and substance.

Elizabeth (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton): my Aunt Elizabeth is probably the picture-perfect homemaker. I cannot imagine her doing anything that is not of a motherly role. Aunt Elizabeth homeschooled all her three children. She also has a talent in nursing: she works part-time as a volunteer at a nearby hospital and retirement house. In my opinion, she works better than most of the nurses there.

Karol (Blessed Pope John Paul II): Karol is my favourite cousin. He's older than me but we share the same energy level and enthusiasm about nature and poetry. We like to take long walks in the gardens and some serious hiking. Karol participates in a lot of sports like swimming, cycling, and running, but he also values his down time by the lake. I love the way he describes beauty and love: it is, in itself, so beautiful.

Dominic (St. Dominic Savio) and Maria (St. Maria Goretti): Dominic and Maria are the goody two-shoes twins whom everyone loves. They are not too sporty like Karol, but they have his calm and contemplative nature. Like any other little kids, Dominic and Maria often talk in their own "kid's language", probably discussing about stories, games, and last Sunday's homily.

My brother Gilbert's family

Brigid (St. Brigid of Kildare): Brigid, my sister-in-law, is Gilbert's cheerful wife. She shares Gilbert's love of good classy wine and she even composes a poem about beer. She takes joy in everyday life and she lives by the principle that everything is a miracle. Brigid sometimes brews her own beer, especially when welcoming Joan's friends from the military.

Joan (St. Joan of Arc): Joan is my tomboy niece. She joins the military where she becomes a grade-A soldier under her boss Michael (St. Michael the Archangel). Her military friends include George (St. George), Martin (St. Martin of Tour), and Longinus (St. Longinus), whom she often invites home for dinner, much to the excitement of her younger brother Lawrence. In her free time, she likes to learn French language and culture, and fights with the neighbourhood's thug Moses (St. Moses the Black).

Lawrence (St. Lawrence): Lawrence idolises the heroic personality in his sister Joan. He loves it if Joan comes home with his military guy friends because then Lawrence can learn some battle tactics from them. Lawrence is a self-proclaimed rebel and pyromaniac and he often uses his love for fire to cook delicious barbecue for his family.

I also make a pedigree diagram of my saintly family. Yes, I'm *that* geeky.

PS. I know Chesterton, Tolkien, our Pope Emeritus, and Pope Francis are not saints (yet), not even declared servants of God (yet), but their works are such an inspiration for all souls, especially the Catholic souls!