By Marietta Mu
JULY 23, 2021: Paul Julianose is a 23-year-old from Batu Gajah, Perak. He belongs to a ministry called The Seeds Ministry, a Charismatic Ministry for Young People. He has one elder sister in his family and is currently studying in USM in Penang, pursuing a degree in social sciences.
“Normally, I would say that I’m a full time Catholic missionary who happens to be doing his degree part-time,” joked Julianose. He said that because he scheduled his time mostly to God, and put Him first. Besides being in the Seeds Ministry, he also speaks in the MOVE Youth’s platform once a month on the lives of Saints – a year-long programme. Occasionally, he also preaches at the youth or evangelisation events.
When Julianose and his brothers in his ministry heard about Exodus 90 from Catholic speakers in the US in 2020, they decided to go through the programme from January 4, 2021 to Easter Sunday. Exodus 90 is a 90-day spiritual exercise for men to overcome temptation, addiction, and passivity through daily prayer, asceticism, and fraternity.
In the programme, for prayers, they reflected and journeyed through the Book of Exodus by reading scriptures passages from it every day. Besides that, they did a Holy Hour every day. However, it wasn’t that easy from the beginning. That was why they started with 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, then finally, they could do the whole Holy Hour. “I’m sharing this because through the prayers and commitment for 90 days, the prayer life of my ministry members who joined, including myself, improved significantly,” explained Julianose. From there, they built a lifestyle of prayer, as it takes 21 days to build a habit and 90 days to build a lifestyle.
Besides that, they built a sense of community and fraternity. By meeting every single Monday and sharing with each other about how they did throughout the week. Asceticism is self-discipline by avoiding all forms of indulgence. Each of them decided to give up on certain habits, similar to fasting during Lent. “Instead, we used that time to pray and listen to God’s voice.”
“Even till today, our group is still going strong and we still meet every Monday,” Julianose expressed. After going through the programme, they’ve learnt to cut out on unnecessary things and do everything in moderation.
Instead of getting a negative response from his friends, when one of his brothers in the ministry refrained from drinking alcohol during dinner because of the program, two of his Christian friends decided to join him as well. That meant that they were supported throughout their journey and managed to influence the people around them positively as well.
One of their main challenges that they faced was cutting down on their screen time which was often a source of distraction and even temptation. However, despite falling a few times, they overcame the challenge by transparently sharing with each other and they were accountable for each other during their Monday night meetings. “We would encourage each other to do better, help each other find out what our triggers were so that we could address the root of the problem together, and even pray for each other,” said Julianose.
In their fraternity, they had their weekly meeting with the group and their daily check-ins with their anchor. Their anchor was like a one-to-one accountability partner where two young men would make sure that each other was doing well with their readings and Holy Hour.
“For the first 40 days, we were excited and pumped up about it because we were amazed by the outcome even though we were only halfway through the process. Even so, there was a certain point where I wanted to give up,” said Julianose. He explained that he started to feel that way when he got busier with schoolwork. Despite that, he said that his fraternity of brothers’ was what kept him going forward. Their testimonies where they talked about how the Holy Spirit worked through their lives in those weeks gave him the encouragement to persevere.
Throughout the 90 days, although they had their own busy schedules, the daily prayer, asceticism, and fraternity, allowed them to encounter God’s love so authentically that it spurred them on.
“One of the biggest lessons God had shown me through the program was that Catholic men needed to rise up,” said Julianose. He explained in his experience and from what he has observed, women were usually the ones in the family who played the active spiritual role, who take up prominent positions in teaching catechism and in the church. On the other hand, men were not stepping up to do it and instead took the more passive role in Spirituality. “Catholic men aren’t making God their top priority.” That was why after their program and they saw how powerful it was to put God first, they wanted to help other men put God first as well.
Since Julianose is majoring in anthropology and sociology, one of the findings he read about was that in the US, when the father in the family is taking the proactive role in Spirituality, the likelihood for the rest of the family to experience authentic conversion and living out their faith as well as staying in their faith is almost 97%, whereas if the mother in the family is the one who takes the active role, the probability goes down to around 30%. He explained that even though the mother or the children can be channels to convert their family, as God has ordained it, He wanted men to lead the family.
Coincidentally for him, on Dec 1, 2020, Mary Eberstadt released The Fury of The Fatherless where she spoke how the absence of fathers in families is the root to many societal problems she saw in the US. When Julianose read about that, he felt that was what was happening in Malaysia and Asia as well. A week after that, Pope Francis released that 2021 was the liturgical year dedicated to St. Joseph as the Spiritual Father, so his brothers in the ministry and him were astounded by all of that, which cemented his belief that they as men should rise up and take up the Exodus 90 challenge.
“For me personally, once we finished the Exodus 90 challenge, I looked back in hindsight and I realised that everything happened according to God’s timing. Not only did God ask me to rise up as a man, but God also led me through the process so that I can rise up,” expressed Julianose.
Since September 2020, Paul has been doing weekly podcasts on the lives of saints called Midweek With The Saints on his YouTube channel or any podcasting platforms.
On July 19, 2021, The Seeds Ministry celebrated its fifth anniversary. The Seeds Ministry is a ministry made up of youths and young adults who are responding to a call to bring as many souls as possible back to Christ. They will be announcing their Virtual Conference for Men which will be open to all men to join. Anyone who would like to reach out to them can contact them through their social media platforms.