Thursday, 13 August 2015

Some news and many feels: Residency, the Little Office, and other things

I've been meaning to post this for awhile but didn't get around to do it, partly due to my busyness and partly do to my laziness (yes, I can be contradictory sometimes, I'm an INFJ!). But here's some news:

1. Residency

Oooh yes. This is The Big Thing of the year. I've been accepted into Universitas Indonesia for psychiatry residency. *insert a loud hurrah here* For those of you non-Indonesians, let me tell you how this could be a-something: UI (pronounced OO-ee, not you-eye) is the oldest state university in the country, and consequently also the most prestigious and of the highest quality. [*Note: I'm speaking in general terms here; there are other centers with their own nationally-acknowledged excellence]. Its teaching hospital, RSUPN Cipto Mangunkusumo (abbreviated RSCM), is likewise the oldest general hospital and functions as the national referral hospital. So it is a big deal to be able to get into any one of the UI-RSCM programs. It's like getting into Harvard, really, but without breaking the bank and without the chilly winter.

The hospital face. The medical school face is on the opposite side. The whole area measures 12 acres. Inside there are libraries, canteens and cafés, a bank, plenty of photocopy kiosks, and many other supporting facilities.

As proud and happy as I am though, I also realise what a great burden (read: cross) this is. Hard to get in can also mean hard to get out. And then there's also the high expectation from people towards UI alumni and RSCM doctors. By entering their system, I will forever bear a great name in addition to the privileged identity as a Christian. Maybe I'm being too apprehensive and I'm thinking too far ahead, but surely a little healthy anxiety helps me prepare?

I will begin on August 31, and from that day forward there's no stopping it, so pleaaaaseee pray for me!!!

2. The Little Office

I still couldn't navigate the Divine Office—sad!—so I decided to get myself a copy of the Little Office. I was hoping that it would spare me the confusion and the headache >.<

My copy is from Baronius Press. It is a neat little blue book, slightly larger than pocket size. The edges are beautifully gilded, the cover is navy blue faux leather, and it's completed with two ribbons of yellow and blue. The book doesn't just contain the Office proper (in Latin and English), it also contains notations of the hymns and six appendices of stuff like the history, how to use, types of intentions, indulgences, a liturgical calendar, and the Litany of Loreto. This book is AWESOME! And it's so pretty!!! All prayer books in the world should be made just as this!!

I hope someday I'll be able to recite the Divine Office too, but for now I'm content with devoting myself to the Little Office =) Even with this Office it's already difficult to get into the habit. I'm setting a modest target first: that is, to regularly pray at least one hour, any hour, every day. I'm curious to know how other people get into the discipline. Do share your experiences!

3. Former priests in the community

I was a little taken aback when I learnt that my Lay OP chapter has accepted four former priests into the community. FOUR.

I have mixed feelings about these ex-priests. Granted, I haven't known them well enough. I only know that their intention in joining the Lay OP is not entirely pure—they want to be buried in the habit. However, my conscience is disturbed because, these people seem to take pride in their status as ex-priests. They don't try to hide it. One of them, let's call him M, even accepted interview requests from Catholic magazines, and there he stated quite clearly that he was once an anointed servant of the Lord. He is married now with three children if I'm not mistaken, and he's super active in various lay apostolates. He even founded the charismatic movement in Surabaya, a city in East Java known for its orthodoxy and strictness in liturgy. I have a strong reason to be worried and doubtful of M's own orthodoxy. But let's wait and see, shall we?

But one thing is obvious: being laicized is definitely not something to be proud of. On the contrary, it's a disgrace, both for the priest himself and for the Church as a whole. After ordination, the priest becomes eternally "married", so to speak, to the Church. Note that this "marriage" is eternal; in the netherworld he will still be judged as a priest. The mark of the priesthood is indelible on his soul. Therefore, when a priest is laicized, the only way of life appropriate to him is living in penance. And yes, still celibate. This is not a written rule, of course, but one with a clear conscience and understanding of the natural and supernatural orders is bound to think so too.

Additionally, I'm also worried that people—in this case the Lay Dominicans and even the sisters perhaps—will tend to inappropriately regard these ex-priests as priests still. Indonesians have such a tendency. I can already predict, for example, if I teach A which is the correct teaching of the Church, and M teaches B which is a heterodox teaching, people will tend to favor M's teaching just because he's a [former] priest. Or, they will reluctantly accept the truth, and may do or speak something in order to be "inclusive" to the misinformed ex-priest. I'm not speaking this out of early prejudice; I'm Indonesian and I know how Indonesians behave. It has happened before, so many times and in many other occasions.

I trust that God will bring something good out of this terrible mess. For one thing, I can further train myself to be humble. But to be really honest, I'm worried that the presence of these ex-priests may do more harm than good to the souls of my lay brothers and sisters.

4. Back to the Doctors project

My laziness—mea culpa—took the better of me, but now I'm back doing this big project!! I can't remember having explained this in my blog, so here it is.

For some time now, I've been working with (or for?) a theologian couple, Stefanus and Ingrid Tay, who founded It is a large, well-built, well-researched catechetical website; might as well be the largest and best one in the country. Maybe like Catholic Answers, though not that big just yet. But Stef and Ingrid do have an ambitious long-term goal to make it so. My BF has been hired to help them realise their catechesis system which they hope will be implemented across dioceses and parishes. Meanwhile, I was asked to do a side project, writing a definitive book on the thirty-six Doctors of the Church.

I was initially excited about this project, but excitement gradually went down and it was replaced by a panicky feeling. What if I can't finish the book satisfactorily? What if I don't measure up to their standard? What if there are fatal mistakes in the book that harm the souls of my readers???

My personal aim with this book is to portray the Doctors three-dimensionally, that is, to present them as who they really were. The images of saints have been saturated with overly sentimental, feel-good, feel-nice portrayals, so much so that they seem impossible to imitate. I don't want that. I want realistic saints that people can relate to. I want to make people realise that saints too, had struggled, suffered, cried, moaned, doubted, angered, been confused, been wronged, been upset. I want these saints, these illustrious Doctors, to rival popular fiction characters that people young and old so idolize.

So far I've done St. Ephraim and St. Catherine of Siena. St. Catherine took up the most time; she was a great personality in medieval history and politics. I had to research her time and place first in order to write well about her and her contributions. Writing these Doctors is as fun as it is exhausting. But I guess in the end it will be worth everything I sacrificed.