Friday, September 25, 2015

Working out tHAT Soul

I read @kevinostaj 's post today on instagram. He said, "If you have a heart beat, that means you have a purpose. You may not know what that purpose is yet, but eventually you will. You just have to keep going, no matter how tough your life gets."

He goes on to talk about improving yourself, eating right, and things will fall into place.

So true. As Christians, we will only know our purpose in life when we come before the Lord. He's always talking to us, and all we have to do is just sit in the silence, allow ourselves to be aware of the reality that he is there constantly loving us. Be receptive and listen to the silence. There, in that peace, we begin to understand who we are. It will be there, in the dark quiet of the soul that we will be given the ability to keep going, no matter how tough life gets.

Improve yourself through discipline. Prioritize and create habits. Be deliberate with one act, one decision. Then, repeat. Allow that repeated act to turn into a habit. It happens over time. Be patient with yourself. With grace and a faith-filled heart, that habit is transformed into virtue.

Feed your soul. We can workout so much, but unless you change your eating habits, it won't do you good. You can do all the right things in life, but unless you are feeding your soul with God's presence, the sacraments, prayer, will mean nothing.

Keep at it! 
Mediocrity is NOT an option!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

4 Years a Priest

Alright, so I've been bad about keeping up with this blog. Who would have thunk it that I'd actually be too busy to write something! LOL

It's been 4 years since I was ordained to the priesthood. I'm not really sure what I want to say in this blog entry, really...I mean, I'm sure I can go into the many different theological and spiritual reflections...I can go into the many aspects that were a growing experience and all...but...I think I want to say...

I love my family.
Now we weren't the holiest of families. No. We had our own problems. We had our own difficulties. Still, the Lord was not only at work in me when I felt called to the priesthood, he was at work in them. Going from moderate-lukewarm Catholics, he slowly began to transform us. At times we went kicking and screaming. Sometimes we were receptive. All the while, he never gave up on us. God didn't give up on my dad, on my mom, my sister, little brother, nephew, nor on me...He just didn't. He hasn't finished his work on us either. God was using each of us (is still using us) to bring out our identities as sons and daughters of God. Whether or not they realized it, it was my family that helped foster my vocation. It was my family that formed me. It was there, in the family, that I began to understand myself and where I began to understand how to live my life for the Lord.

I am a mess. I have always been a mess. Grant it, there are days that I'm just on it! I'm solid. I can make things work. I am organized. I can be articulate. I am the beacon of love and hope that the Lord needs me to be...and yet...most of the time, I'm struggling to try to make appointments, trying to not annoy someone, trying to clean up after myself, watching my words, organizing and structuring my thought process and my life...It just never ends. Lol.

At times I wonder, "Lord, did you know what you were asking when you asked me to be a priest...because...I'm just going to make a mess of"

And yet there are moments while in ministry that I think about my family life; I think about how I would have done things back at home if similar situations would come up. I come back to family experiences and lessons. What my mom and dad taught me. Work ethic is one of the main things that they brought out in me. To try my best (but to not be lazy about it); if I am, then I'll only have double the work to deal with as an end result: "El burro trabaja doble." That it's okay to mess up--learn from your mistakes, certainly, but it's okay to mess up. Think outside the box. There's always a way to do something. Leave something for a bit if you are frustrated and come back to it later. 
My parents taught me how to love. 
They taught me how to give myself.
They taught me that vulnerability is okay.
That there are days that you will be angry.
That you'll need to talk things out
and be reconciled.
There will always be something to do and to take it in stride.
That there is a right and wrong.
That it's okay to get dirty and messy.
That it's okay to be myself and enjoy life.
That being serious is too boring, so be weird. lol

My brother and sister have taught me how to love and communicate with others. They taught me that not everyone is the same and that there will be days that you will need to compromise and or cooperate so as to get your ideas or projects done. That there will be days that you don't get along but that in the end, you only have each other and you have someone to share your life with. There is a brotherly-sisterly friendship that cannot be undone and though there are days that you annoy each other, you have the common experience and growth to unite you. We have each other as a support system. We have each other to pray for each other.  And with a nephew and godson, I have the experience of having a fatherly-type role. 

I can watch this little guy grow to become the man God has created him to be. I'm excited to be part of his walk with the Lord. To help help be there for him when he needs the love, support, and guidance he may need in his life. Already I see a great heart developing in him. He is generous and kind. He is starting to take on the work ethic that is being instilled in him by my family (mainly by my dad). He's being formed to be a man of many skills and talents. His joy is contagious. He's a mesh of all of us (but from what I'm told, he's a lot like me!) He is growing into his own. I can't wait to see how the Lord continues to work in his life. 

I love my family. I miss them. It's not easy with "green martyrdom." You miss out on a lot. You are not around for the special days anymore. But I do carry my family with me. And whether or not they know it, the people I encounter and minister to actually experience my family more than me. They encounter my dad's patience, work ethic, and heart of a servant; they experience my mom's goofy-light-hearted approach to life and her love for those dear to her; they experience my sister's zeal and conviction, her abrupt and candor manner when something needs to be decided; they are influenced by my brother's need to get multiple things done as efficiently as possible; they experience the joy of my godson within a loving home. I miss my family. I love my family.
4 years a priest. 
I pray many more years to come. 
May the Lord continue to use my family and me as his instruments for his greater glory.
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, pray for us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

VessElS, HiPStErS, and MYSTERy

A past parishioner of mine---what an interesting use of verbiage; almost as if to convey that I'm talking about several decades back when I've only been a priest for 3 years now! ha ha --- is a wonderful writer. Yes, Dena, I'm talking about you. I've never done a post in response or commenting on another
other blog/article here it goes...oh, and don't worry, it's all positive. :)

Yes, I would agree with the Vessels article. There is as it were a reality of mystery and unknown that almost calls to the depths of who we are as humans. Almost as if "mystery" is calling out to the recesses of our hearts that are meant to be overtaken by "mystery-itself"...a cor ad cor loquitor of sorts.

You mention a few examples of vessels like small wooden boxes, "small paper packages tied up with string" (great reference by the way!), mailed hand-written letters, and real books; they are able to hide some thing and it is this unknown that draws us...that calls out to that part of us that desires to relish in a mystery that will be revealed. There's almost a relationship between the vessel and the reality within... as if the more vintage, authentically-made, or authentically-sincere a thing is, the more value  or more significant is the thing within...

There's this need to allow our souls to be independent of the confines and constructs of modernity to dive deeper to express, see and understand some thing. You know, there's been this Hipster lifestyle-movement-fad of sorts that seems to want to embrace this sense of mystery and or come back to something more authentically human; to go beyond the shallow confines and constructs of mainstream thought or work. Urban Dictionary defines a hipster as:
a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter...Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often be seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions...
Ok, grant it, the hipster doesn't talk about mystery in the same way as I did above, but if we just think about it for a bit, we begin to notice that there have been various movements throughout history in which the human person wants to dive deeper, understand and embrace the mystery of reality and the mystery of one's own self. Grant it, there are various ways the hipster lifestyle manifests itself; be it by acquiring vintage things like typewriters, going to artsy coffee shops, writing letters, brewing one's own beer, growing out beards, being unfashionably-fashionable with crazy socks, the hipster just wants to be authentic...

...and there is no greater authenticity found than within the source and font that gives meaning to all mysteries...namely, God.

Our Catholic practices can't be more vintagey. With all her Traditions, incensed ceremonies and rituals, candles and sacred vessels...we embrace the journey towards Mystery-Itself...the journey established by the apostles and the early Church.

Being Catholic, I'd argue, one can't help but be
 a hipster.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Call

 So I suppose one could say I've had a crazy last couple of weeks and or months. I haven't written much--or at all really. Ha! But I sure have had many thoughts running through my little brain. 

But I'll write a little on the diocesan youth conference we had this last weekend. I really had a great time being there with all the young people. I guess a part of me still hasn't grown up...maybe it's a Peter Pan complex or something, haha! Anyhow, getting to see the youth was affirming.

There was a giant beach ball I jumped on when no one was looking.  That was an epic fail as I fell onto the floor the first time. I nearly won the Ninja game against 15 teens. I snatched a teen from a crowd surfing moment (adult-leader's worst fear!) Saw some sick skills of art and talent.

But one of the things that stuck out to me was what we did at the end of the weekend. We had an altar call of sorts...well, more like a vocation call. I asked the young people to close their eyes and call upon the name of Jesus. The band quietly played Charlie Hall's  "Prepare the Way." I asked them just to sit there in the quiet, in the silence... 

And they sat there...and you can tell the Spirit was moving, moving in their the quiet...

In the midst of this quiet, of the soft invocation of Jesus, I asked them to think about living for Christ, not just in the usual way we do as men and women, but in an extra special way. "There is a calling that God has for some people. I want you to think about living your lives for Christ as a priest or religious brother or sister"

...and I asked them to listen to see if there was an inkling, a nudge, a tinge of the possibility that they may be called....

And with their eyes still closed I told them that the most bravest thing they could do was to answer the call to live for Him; to look into it to see if this is what he wanted; to pursue it and to find out if this was his will...and so, with the silence thickening with God's grace, I asked those that were experiencing this internal movement to stand up...

and she stood up...and so did he...and then another and another...

"Now open your eyes"

And there they were...about 8 young people standing...and the teens were amazed to see some of their own peers standing...and I invited these young men and women forward...

I had the bishop pray over them...and after his prayer...I saw them with tears in their eyes... and in my heart, when I saw the young guys in tears looking at me, I couldn't help but get teary-eyed and say to myself, " brothers..."
To look at the young ladies and think, " sisters..."

Not knowing if priesthood would be it, not knowing if some of these young ladies would become religious sisters or not...and yet, feeling so encouraged that they at least opened up to the possibility of a call to religious life.

I told some of them, "It's a discernment. It's a process."

So they begin taking it one day at a time, focusing on what's most important, a relationship with the one and only Jesus. And I pray for them now...and ask you to do the pray for our young people, that they may have the courage to look into the possibility of a vocation. That they may be graced with a strength to pursue it to see if this is what the Lord wants....

As priests and seminarians and religious, we can be kind of crazy, but we fully find ourselves when we embrace the Lord's will. Answering the call doesn't take anything away from us, but fulfills us.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

GoOD daY

Today is going to be a good day! 

I remember saying that to myself today as I took this shot. There had been several things on my mind, and after breakfast and a good little talk with my best friend, I was reminded that it was all about an attitude approach. 

I looked down at my feet and remembered the Chucks I had on and the fun socks I decided to wear regardless of my collar. Just for fun. I took the IG shot, "Yeah, today is going to be a good day!"

I decided to just make the best of the day and move forward. I had mentioned to my friend, "You know, as priests we just need a tap on the back every now and then..someone to tell us we are doing good. Not to pity us, but to affirm and encourage" and in retrospect it was like the Lord said, "Alright. No prob. I can take care of that right quick."

He freed up my schedule unexpectedly which allowed me to get some work done. All the while I got a fun conversation in with a parishioner. Heard that Ben Affleck appears in the area every now and then. Then, I found out that Jim Jinkins, the creator of my favorite childhood show Doug, works just a couple buildings away. This last little tidbit just floored me and got me soaring through the rest of my day! 

Again it was like the Lord thought to himself, "I bet he'll enjoy this next fun fact."

I got some admin work done. I had the opportunity to pray and have a fruitful time in Adoration. This was followed by the awesome celebration of Mass. Afterward a random man approached me. He was at Mass. Turns out he is ridding his bike down from Pennsylvania to Florida. He spoke to me and shared his prayer experiences--friends, holiness can very often be a brief and incredible encounter. 

He had asked for a blessing upon him and his bike as he continued his pilgrimage of sorts. He smiled as he pedaled away and referred to me as "Monsignor." I laughed. He stopped and looked back at me. He smiled again a smile that seemed to beam with a joy that wasn't really of this world...a bit mischievous like a innocent child who knows something that you don't and it brings him joy...with that smile, he turned away, pedaled and shouted "Goodbye Monsignor!" 

I'm not in it for the glory...puh-lease! I have other things to worry about...but the situation made me smile. You know that smile that comes about from just being amused by the little things? It was like was another little thing along with a chain of things today.  This whole day had just been...surreally-fun! 

One of my last conversations of the day was unique. I had not really shared too much when out of nowhere the voice on the phone said, "It's like every now and then, the Lord will shine his rays of goodness on you to simply affirm you and love you up." 

My jaw dropped. I was smiling like a fool. That basically summarized my day. The Lord was just giving me a good day.