By Marietta Mu
Dec 3, 2020
YEAR 1 (Oct 2016 – Oct 2017)
I was fresh-faced and ready to dive into the kind of university life that had always seen in movies. Parties, crazy nights, and BFFs. Though I didn’t know it then, I got all of them, just not in the way I had expected. After the Orientation Week, it was the week where Clubs and Society had their booths and students were free to join the ones they were interested in. (Ed: Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman or Utar, in the Sungai Long campus in Selangor)
As a cradle Catholic, I was never “into” religion. Sure, I prayed when I needed God’s help, but why would I want to be known as an intolerant crazy spiritual weirdo that mass media had painted Christians to be? However, my parents made sure I went to mass every weekend, despite me going begrudgingly. As I walked past the booth that said “Catholic Students’ Society”, my eyes caught the words “Free bus to church”. Maybe it was the “Catholic Guilt”, or maybe it was the Holy Spirit back then that was nudging me to take up the offer. It was free, after all!
I nervously went up to the people behind the booth and asked if I could go on the bus even if I didn’t join the society because I didn’t think I would actually join any of the activities. The two persons in the booth looked at me weirdly at first, but asked if I would like to just join them. I can be a pushover at times. I said yes and signed up. I was really nervous because of the bad experience I had with the so-called “Catholics” that I knew.
To my surprise, the people in CSS were some of the best people I’ve met in Utar! So much so that the activities, despite having a small number of participants, were exactly what I liked! It was a close-knit community and I felt at home. I let myself open up and joined more and more of their activities that I eventually became a committee member! In the beginning, I would normally try to get away from going to weekday masses, even Holy Thursdays because they weren’t an obligation day. But when I saw people my age signing up for the bus to go to church, I was confused and decided to go anyways because my friends were going! I always thought that weekday and non-obligatory day masses were just for aunties and uncles but I was wrong!
YEAR 2 (Oct 2017 – Oct 2018)
I met the love of my life. I’m not advertising CSS as a dating pool, but there have been long-lasting relationships formed among CSS members, and maybe those were part of God’s plan! When I met Raymond, he was completely different from my list of things I wanted in a guy. In fact, he was everything I didn’t know I needed. God-fearing, patient, and kind. Being a Catholic was not in that list because it was not a prerequisite but after dating him, I don’t think my relationship would’ve been as gratifying. I was able to talk about God with him and learn more about our faith.
My seniors at that time (including Raymond) said the Lauds and Vespers almost every day. After morning and evening prayers were said, they would go to breakfasts and dinners together to hang out! University can get a little lonely sometimes because it felt like everyone went back right after classes (for me anyway), so I was really happy to find a group of friends to socialize with and even study together!
As it goes with universities, most of us graduate eventually. When my seniors in CSS graduated, I was really bummed and knew I was going to miss them, but that meant I was going to have juniors. I was still in the CSS committee at this time and a new batch of students joined us. Remember the BFFs I talked about in Year 1? I didn’t know it at that time but I got close to a shy girl named Ariana and she eventually came to be one of my best friends! I’m a really open-minded person so I always thought I’d get along with most people, but I am eternally grateful to God for allowing me to meet such wonderful people and let me make the friends I really needed through CSS.
One of CSS’s major events for Utar, Joy of Christmas, was about to be held and Jonathan, the chairperson of the event, asked if I would like to be the Head of Decoration. I’m actually a creative person and to be honest, doing Mechanical Engineering did not really bode well with me. So, I was surprised and really appreciated the fact I could use my creativity in CSS, such as making posters for their activities as well as handmade bookmarks for fund raising!
YEAR 3 (Oct 2018 – Oct 2019)
Booth duty was never a bore during my time in CSS. Committee members always joined us at the booth whenever they were free and we would just play games and hang out. One time, Raynold came over and asked me if I would like to join Bible Study with a deacon. 1. I’ve never met a deacon. 2. I said yes because I’ve always had burning questions about my faith that no one seemed to be able to answer! The group met up in KFC and we started talking. Then I realized, I really really liked Bible Study. If you asked anyone who was there, they would tell you about the millions of questions I asked. Finally! Someone was able to answer EVERYTHING. My faith finally made sense to me. Of all the bible studies Deacon Adrian Ng facilitated, I joined all of them and loved every single one of them. I started forming habits such as reading the Bible (and it actually made sense to me!) and praying more to God (yes, during the bad times, and even the good times!).
In September 2019, I found myself in a group of people talking about spirituality. They knew I was in CSS and asked me questions about my faith. It was very scary because I thought I was going to say the wrong things as I’ve never done this before, but it felt as if the Holy Spirit guided my words. “Do not take a single word of your truth away from my speech.” – Psalm 119:43. Thankfully, I was able to give out most, if not all, of the answers and it shocked me. How did the person from Year 1 became this person I was then? It was by the grace of God and guidance of the Holy Spirit, of course!
YEAR 4 (Oct 2019 – Oct 2020)
In the first Bible Study, I remember there was a question asking me if I would ever tell other people about my faith. Didn’t living in Malaysia mean being tolerance and letting others be? But after I learnt about the importance of evangelization and to spread the Gospel freely without much reproach, I gained the confidence to do it again, and again, and again! It was such a thrill to be able to tell the good news I’ve been hearing about all my life, and finally understanding it! At this point in time, I could see how my relationship with Jesus was becoming closer. Closer than I have ever been in my entire life.
In December 2019, I completed one of the Plans in the Bible App because I was going through a rough patch and needed God more than ever. For the very first time, I was consoled by a Bible verse. It was Matthew 6:31-34. Every word of it felt like God speaking right to me. I started flipping the Bible and reading more of it. It felt like God knew exactly what I was going through, and He told me it was going to be alright.
Since then, I could always hear God speaking to me through prayers, homilies, and the Bible. After learning about the importance of the Sacrament of Confession again, I suddenly longed to go! One year before, I was someone who didn’t really believe in the importance of Confession, but somehow, God got through to me. From then on, I slowly began to realize the beauty of what it meant to be a Catholic, and why we do the things we did.
Remember when I mentioned that I met the love of my life in Year 2? Well, it turns out it was the Divine Office, but I just didn’t know it then. Year 4 meant even more free time because there was fewer classes. In between classes or whenever I felt anxious, the readings and psalms in the Divine Office always seem to know what I needed to hear. Most times, I couldn’t help but shed tears of joy, knowing that I wasn’t alone in this world.
In 2020, the infamous Covid-19 broke out and left most of us in lockdown. I was unable to go back to my hometown in Sabah, and ended up staying with Raymond’s family for the duration. Since his family was also Catholic, they prayed the rosary daily and asked us to join them. To be honest, I’ve never liked praying the rosary and was at a loss. I prayed to God about it and one day, I read in a Catholic forum about someone going through the same thing and they said that a holy priest once told them that they would receive even more merit saying it despite not wanting to.
One night, Raymond and I did something silly. We went Randonauting and it brought us to a cemetery. We got scared and quickly drove back home. We prayed the rosary. It felt like the rosary was always there to calm us down and make us feel safe. While staying with Raymond’s family, I had to undergo an eye surgery which scared me. I prayed the rosary because I wasn’t able to see much. To my surprise, yet again, I started liking saying the rosary.
This whole thing is supposed to be about how CSS changed me, but despite being in lockdown, we still had our Bible Study online. My faith got stronger as I learnt the Scriptures with like-minded people. Slowly, God moulded me into the person I am today. I am constantly striving the be a better Catholic and I don’t pray to God asking Him to answer my prayers, but for Him to show me His will, and to have the courage to do His will. I even thought about being a Carmelite sister and went to Seremban to see Sr. Clara! Nothing’s set in stone yet, but I can tell you that learning about their lives, even in enclosure, felt like such a dream. They spend their days with God, always thinking of Him and I thought that it was the most beautiful thing and probably the closest thing one could feel to being in heaven. I liked how peaceful it was, how free from distraction it was. The idea of being with God at all times, and not being distracted was very appealing.
The first year me that walked toward the CSS booth had no idea what was in store for her. I got the parties, crazy nights, and BFFs. Just not the ones I thought I would get – the CSS birthday celebrations, night-outs with my CSS friends, and my all-time BFF, Jesus. And I would have never wanted it any other way.
Marietta Mu, who turns 23 this month, recently started work at a construction company in Seri Kembangan. In the months after graduation she had a part-time job translating Mandarin webnovels into English. During her free time she either edits videos for her vlogs on her YouTube channel or does podcasts for Our Sim Experiences.
She was born in Kota Kinabalu and was baptised at the Sacred Heart Cathedral. She also attended mass at St Simon Church in Kota Kinabalu. Since 2016 she has been attending the Holy Family Church in Kajang which is close to her college. It was here that she started to attend Bible Study under Deacon Adrian Ng. These days she attends Divine Mercy Church after recently moving to Shah Alam.