Convocation 2011 with Irene
July 2011 I had 2 big events happening. It is like a month of harvesting. Other than going to India to witness the first human trial using the robot that I developed, I also attended my 2nd convocation in NTU.
I would like to dedicate this to Irene and my family. Who have continuously supported me, thank you.
Convocation 2011 with my family
I have been waiting for this time. A time when I achieved one of my dream, to use my engineering knowledge to create something that can be useful for people.
After I graduated in 2007 I chose to join a research group. In this group I have been developing a robotic system that is dedicated to help a gastroenterologist to perform complex and difficult surgery. Basically a gastroenterologist is limited to perform a therapeutic procedure as compared to a surgeon. A surgeon has two hands to do surgery, where a gastroenterologist use an endoscope. Or you also can read my previous post (Robot in the stomach). We can imagine a doctor who uses an endoscope to perform a surgery is similar when I ask you to eat using a chopstick by using your leg. It is possible just extremely difficult.
After many development of prototypes and refinement. Last week we went to Hyderabad, India to test the robotic system on human. In the past it has been tested on porcine model both death and alive. I was very excited to see the robot being used on real patient. It is one of my dream, to see this robot enter human stomach and remove a tumor or cancer.
I can freely write about this project now because there are many newspaper write about it as well. It is quite interesting to see our robot in the news paper. These are the list of online news coverage of the latest human trials that we conducted:
I can say that having my first “baby” to be used on real patient has accomplished one of my dreams. If you are interested to find out more about the robot you can let me know. I will be very happy to write more about it. For technical stuff there are many technical papers published, I will make the list on the next post.
Benedict XVI recently gave a new series of teaching on the subject of prayer. I found out his teaching articles from Oka’s blog.
Prayer is one subject that I have known for some times,but still struggling to practice it as part of my life. We won’t pray unless we understand how important prayer is. Until we are really convinced that praying is very important.
I find praying is becoming more important in my life especially when I am reflecting and contemplating on my life. I have many questions that are not answer yet such as:
- What is the meaning, the aim of my life?
- Which is the road to true happiness?
- Why do we suffer and what purpose does it serve?
- Whence do we come, and where are we going?
In the second teaching entitled On the Universal Religious Sense ( Man Bears within Himself the Desire for God), he mentioned that
Man bears within himself a thirst for the infinite, a nostalgia for eternity, a search for beauty, a desire for love, a need for light and truth, which drive him toward the Absolute; man bears within himself the desire for God
Perhaps this is the reason behind my questions, and if it is true, I believe these questions do not belong to mine only but universally asked. I have been trying to find the answers of these questions from many sources, but recently God reminds me where to find the answer, in Him.
For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart,
I will be found by you, says the LORD
Jeremiah 29 : 11-14
There are three things that I learned from this teaching:
1. Man has the desire for God, and it is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God (CCC No. 27)
This statement affirms on my life experience. My desire for God, or perhaps curiosity arose internally. I dont buy the idea that if we dont pray then God will punish me. I was attracted to God because of His love not His power. I believe this statement is universal, applicable to everybody. We are not God’s toy that we have no other choice but to come to Him, indeed we have this grace that comes from God himself called free will.
2. Prayer is an interior attitude, rather than a series of practices and formulas, a way of being before God, rather than carrying out acts of worship or pronouncing words
I used to believe that there is a killer method to pray. I thought prayer is like a direct line to heaven, such that anytime I want I could just call and there will always someone pick my call. But God is not a call center or customer service officer. Especially after reading opening to God by Fr Thomas Green, I learned that prayer is more like a face to face meeting.
3. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation (CCC No. 2567)
I lost count how many times I missed my daily prayer. But there were times when I felt so strongly the desire to pray. When I was having exam, or job hunt. When I was sick. When I was in desperation. When I was losing my sense of direction in life. When I felt lonely. When I was surmised by many good things that happened. When my prayer was answered.
I am very grateful above all that God never give up calling me back to Him.
And even if man forgets his Creator, the living and true God does not fail to call man to the mysterious encounter of prayer.
We all have a longing for Love, a desire to an Infinite Beauty, a thirst and hunger for Truth. Let us acknowledge this desire in us. This desire for God is the soul of prayer. Like what St Thomas Aquinas said about prayer ”expression of man’s desire for God.”
Lastly I would like to extend Pope Ben invitation to all of us:
Dear brothers and sisters, let us learn to spend more time before God, let us learn to recognize in silence the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, to recognize in the depth of ourselves his voice that calls us and leads us back to the profundity of our existence, to the fount of life, to the source of salvation, to make us go beyond the limits of our life and to open ourselves to the measure of God, to the relationship with Him who is Infinite Love. Thank you!
An article as published in Tomorrow newspaper by St Mary of the Angels, bukit batok, Singapore.
We are quite familiar with the Feast of Palm Sunday. We would go to get a palm leaf at the church, get it blessed and put it at our crucifix at home for one year. Maybe we are not quite familiar the history behind this feast. Why would Jesus ride a colt? What the crowd where shouting? Let us together take a deeper look from the scripture perspective on the feast of Palm Sunday.
The celebration of Palm Sunday, commemorates the entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem. It was recorded in the four gospels (Matthew 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19: 28-39, John 12: 12-18). His entrance to Jerusalem is the fulfillment of the prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. Zechariah prophesied to Israel that their King would be coming triumphantly to them riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey instead of war horse. The colt signifies the humility of the King. The third king of Israel, Solomon also rode a mule when he was anointed as king (1 King 1: 38-40). A humble King is coming to us; He is coming as one of us. Perhaps this will help us to embrace Him better, to allow us to get closer to Him.
The crowd responded to Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem by taking palm leaf and shouting “Hosanna!, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” This is a direct quotation from Psalm 118:25-26. The word Hosanna is a Hebrew word which means save us. Psalm 118 is part of the Hallel, a Jewish prayer for praise and thanksgiving. It consists of Psalm 113 to 118. We may not be able to appreciate this psalm as our Jewish brothers and sisters do. Perhaps because we don’t have a deep longing for a Messiah as they do. Most of us no longer know about slavery, maybe because we don’t have a known history of slavery in our family. But maybe we are in a spiritual slavery; maybe we are being enslaved by pride, lust, greed, sloth, hatred, or sin. When we realize that we are enslaved, we will have desire to be free, we will long for a messiah or savior.
The Israelites were completely free from slavery when they were a strong nation led by King David. We would be completely free from the slavery of sin if we allow our life to be led by King Jesus. Allowing Jesus to reign in our kingdom is not an easy task but at least we can try to do the first step, to realize that we are in a slavery of sin and we have this desire to be free. Let us take a palm leaf and embrace Jesus’ entrance to our life, our Jerusalem, and shout to him “Save us!”.
Last Thursday, I went to the penitential service at st Mary of the angels. It is a communal Sacrament of Reconciliation which is usually held a week before the Holy Week. It is an invitation from the Church to all its family member to confess their sin as a preparation for Easter. The different as compared to the usual confession is that at the penitential service the parishioner come together and pray together before they will go individually to confess their sins to the priest. So we can see the church full of people to confess their sins.
We confess our sins, of course because we committed sin before. We may have different understanding regarding sin. Perhaps it is about breaking God’s Law, or Church Law. Perhaps its about hurting other people. But let us take a look at the definition of Sin given by the Church. Its taken from the catechism paragraph 1849-1851
II. THE DEFINITION OF SIN
1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”121
1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.”122 Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”124 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.125
1851 It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery by the leaders and the people, Pilate’s cowardice and the cruelty of the soldiers, Judas’ betrayal – so bitter to Jesus, Peter’s denial and the disciples’ flight. However, at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world,126 the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly.
We may think committing sin is when we crossed the line. Well in reality I believe the line is drawn for my own sake. I must thank the Church for drawing the lines for me. Even though some people would think that the Church is just trying to control the people, in contrary I feel the Church is trying to prevent us from inflicting wound toward myself and other people. When I crossed the line it means I chose darkness over light. I chose Not-Love over Love. I chose immediate selfish gratification over eternal life. I chose FEAR over Courage and truth.
Penitential service give me a consolation, that I am not alone. Together with my other brothers and sisters in the church we pray together, and confess our sin to receive the forgiveness of our sin. I am very grateful for the blessing during the service, as I confessed my sin, God showed His love and forgiveness through His priest. God invited me to love Him more by repenting from my sins. So its not merely about doing right or wrong but about loving or less/not loving. Loving someone can be difficult.
We crossed the line when we commit sin, but through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are invited to repent, to turn back on our sin path and come back to God. We are invited like Peter when Jesus conversed with Him beside the campfire. We are invited to walk and cross back the line and to come back to the Light.
I pray for the Holy Week, so that we may love God more and encounter Jesus in our life.
This one is a small plant that grow at the side of the bricks wall. At first I was interested because there is this sense of resilience. Then it reminds me of this verses from Phil 4: 10-14
“Rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me; you were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.
Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.
I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want.
I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.”
The title for this simple picture is Strength. The small plant shows me that it receives strength from God. We may have some difficult situation in life like this small plant. It seems have no opportunity to grow, being crowded with other bigger tree and the bricks. It may experience malnutrition, but it doesn’t complain keep growing. We too I believe can be like this little plant, learn how to draw strength from God, and proclaim God’s glory.
Once open an URL from one of my favorite website Ignatianspirituality.com , and there is one section called Picturing God. I was inspired to capture several image where I could relate to God, or where there is this sense of God image.
Perhaps it is true that a picture could speak a thousand words. Photo taking is good to express my creativity especially when I dont have enough skill to draw. There will be several photos that I will upload occasionally. I do hope you enjoy both my writing and photo. Indeed we can find God in all things, maybe that is why we say that He is omnipresence. Not just to believe that He is everywhere but to encounter Him and Find Him.
I only knew 5 things about him:
1. His name is Anthony
2. He is Not from padua (thanks to Valent, who told me that he is from Lisbon, Portugal, but died in Padua, Italy)
3. He is canonized as Saint
4. He is a franciscan friar
5. He is a patron saint of lost item, I think this is one of the reason why he is famous.
I have never prayed to ask for his intercession before, until my mother lost something important that had made her super panic and depressed. I tried to help her, I did what I can. Then I remember when Irene pray to ask his help to find many small things that she lost. So I asked her to pray for my mother so she could find the thing.
Then I search in google, “st anthony of padua prayer” then I prayed in fron of my office desktop, to ask his help for the first time, to help my mother.
Now I have six things that I know about Him. He really intercede my prayer and help my mother to find the thing. HE ROCKS! Now he is my Hero.
Thank you St Anthony, please keep interceding and praying for me from heaven.
Happy Chinese New Year! May you have a prosperous year ahead! This year I do like most other people do during chinese new year, Dinner.
I went back to my home town, Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia. Yes I was born there. My family moved to Jakarta when I was in primary school. As I could remember, the last time I went back was in 2006. As my friends know me, I dont regularly going back for chinese new year, the air ticket price is getting expansive.
However this year I decided to go back, and I didn’t regret any single dollar, and second that I spent at Palembang. Let me tell you why.
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Happy New Year!! (Its not the chinese new year). I know its quite late now, but its better late then never. I took there is never too late for anything. New year is always been a good day for me. Near the end of the year I like to reflect back over the year what I have been doing, what are the things I have achieved as I look backed to my goal list of the year.
When new year come in I like to make a new year resolution and a new goal list. Maybe you have finished yours, but mine is still on progress. I would like to apply the marathon principle, start slow, increase slowly, and keep steady.
For those who are still working on their new year resolution, I would like to share this great video, a talk by a legend in the field of psychotherapy, dr Viktor Frankl (wiki link).
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