How to Celebrate St Patrick’s Day

St Patrick asleep, with a figure holding a book. France, 2nd quarter of the 13th century (London, British Library, MS Royal 20 D VI, f 213v)

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day––a feast day full of my favourite colour. There will be a parade, parties and drinking in Toronto. However, I wonder if we know who this St Patrick is; worse, do we know why we celebrate his feast day?

For many, Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland, and it’s a celebration of the Irish (culture, nation, beer, whisky, music, pub, etc.). But, Patrick was not even an Irish! In fact, unlike many other saints of the church, we know a good deal about Patrick, as he wrote a Confession, as well as a letter. Continue reading “How to Celebrate St Patrick’s Day”


God is my portion forever: a reflection on death

The preacher of Ecclesiastes famously stated, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; …a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” For many families, this past festival season was a time of heartbreaking and mourning. Two days after Christmas, I have been informed the passing away of Rudy Bauman, a man who had influenced my spiritual formation. This Tuesday, a day after Rudy’s funeral, I was told the death of Wilf Bauman, Rudy’s older brother, and a significant Canadian Baptist minister. In fact, earlier this year, I also heard about the miscarriage of my unborn nephew/niece. Death is undeniably the enemy we fear.

For both Christians and non-Christians, our physical failure and death are certain. In fact, death is not a thing only for older people. As I recall a conversation had with my surgeon, this well-educated man amazed me by admitting the universal acknowledgement of death. He told me that cancer is a way to die. With the improvement of medical technology, many deadly diseases (such as a cold or flu) is no longer a threat to our health and life. Nevertheless, men and women have to die. Continue reading “God is my portion forever: a reflection on death”

But sweet will be the flower

One hundred and ninety-seven years ago today, William Milne’s wife Rachel Cowie Milne died in Malacca and left one daughter (Amelia) and three sons (William Charles, Robert George and Farquhar) to William. Here is a memoir William wrote about his beloved wife.

God’s purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud that may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
(W. Cowper, “God moves in a mysterious way”)

God is glorified even in our weakness.

William married Rachel today 203 years ago!

St. Leonard’s, Shoreditch (photo by B. Andrew Song, 2013)

Two years ago (January 2013), I discovered in the 1812’s marriage record of St. Leonard’s, Shoreditch, an entry bears William and Rachel Milne’s names. It records that William Milne and Rachel Cowie got married at St. Leonard’s, Shoreditch, by the curate, Robert Crosby (1769–1837) in the presence of George Smith (a widowee, whose marriage record was to Milne’s), John Cowie of Hoxton (Rachel’s cousin), and E[lizabeth] Pates of Ilford, Essex (one of George Cowie’s sisters-in-law). Continue reading “William married Rachel today 203 years ago!”

Milne on Liang’s skill

In a letter to the LMS directors, as Milne persuaded them that “stereotyped blocks” are better than “moveable types,” being used in printing Chinese books (also as to impress Chinese readers), Milne said:

“The public would have been furnished with much surer data, had a specimen of the best and neatest the Chinese can cut been given…”

Continue reading “Milne on Liang’s skill”