Since my conversion to Christianity, I had tried escaping from anything related to my previous faith. Usually it is to avoid my relatives. I never know what they will be thinking. If I pick up the joss-sticks, they may think I am a half-half. If I don’t then, they will probably say, “cheh, what for come?”
For e.g., no matter how many times I had told my sister that Christians do pray for their deceased families members, she would inevitably come and ask me the same question again and again. ‘What do they eat if you don’t pray and offer food?’ I told her that we pray every day or at least, weekly in our mass. I assured her that we believe and have faith that God will provide everything, including food, clothings and lodgings, like Club Med.
But this same question will crop up whenever I meet up with her. Her son is marrying a Christian girl and she had asked me what will happened to all the prayers, offerings of food and other stuffs that she is carrying out. Being 14 years younger than her and being me, I would give a loud laugh and told her to stop worrying! No one is going to starve. But trying telling her. She will probably think in the same line again – no one will offer the mandatory tong yuen, bak chang, etc to her in-laws, my parents etc.
Because of this, I usually do not join my siblings whenever they go to the temple to pray my parents. In fact, I had never openly participate in any prayers for my parents or in-laws after Vincent’s death.
All of us bereaved parents went through this some part of our life. It is like the feeling of getting a nick on your finger and then, getting a bigger cut. Hence, you can’t feel the pain of the nick temporarily.
Today is my mom’s 9th year death anniversary. My kids dragged me out of bed at 9 am to go the park. After that, I decided to make a de-tour to the Phor Tay Temple where my parent’s tablet is placed.
I went in, grabbed a bunch of joss-sticks. Burn it, go to the urn outside the temple. Held the joss-sticks high up, close my eyes and heck, for a few seconds, I don’t know whom to address! As a Buddhist, I used to call on Thnee Kong. (heavenly god) I keep my eyes shut (for better concentration or else I will be looking at birds in the sky or cars passing by) under the hot sun for a while. And something dawned on me. I call on Jesus to bless all my deceased love ones souls and give them a place in His Heavenly Kingdom. It was a big burden lifted off me. I put all the joss-sticks into the urn (usually it is to put three only and keep the rests for the deities and deceased souls in the temple) and know deep in my heart that I am a Catholic.
After that, my kids and I said a short prayer for grandma in front of the ancestors tablet and finished with a loud Amen!
Every Hungry Ghost Festival, the temple will hold a ‘buffet’ for the deceased souls. I used to pay RM45 per year (prayer for 2 weeks) where they will write the names of my parents and place the name on this special table laden with foods and fruits. It is really like a buffet. Only thing is – I notice they even put little bottles of milk with teats as offerings apart from the Chinese wine and tea. That – I find it hard to swallow. I don’t want to believe that helpless small babies died and go to Heaven and remain as small helpless babies. I believe through and through that everyone of us died, regardless of age and go to Heaven as a complete, healthy, youthful, vibrant person. There is no age. Just young and youthful. We will be of the same age.
All comments welcome but don’t anyone try to question my faith or accuse me of anything. Comments are moderated.