Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent Resolutions

Advent Resolutions: David Warren suggests resolutions are better made by Catholics in Advent than at New Year's. We might start by resolving not to be governed by statistics.


In yesterday’s news: A new microwave technique will kill spores and keep bread mould-free for sixty days. Americans throw out 40 percent of the food they buy, including 33 percent of the bread.
The Euro zone unemployment rate has reached 11.7 percent, a new high. But the inflation rate dropped 0.3 percent in November. The German Bundestag approved a 44-billion Euro bailout for Greece by a vote of 473 to 100 with 11 abstentions. Ice sheet melting has raised world sea levels by between 7.3 and 14.9 millimeters since 1992.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, age 63, will pay out $6 million to a New York hotel maid, age 33, to settle her civil suit. At least 66 people died from 4 bombings in 3 cities around Iraq.
There’s more. The U.S. birth rate fell 8 percent between 2007 and 2010, overall, but 14 percent among foreign-born, and 23 percent among Mexican immigrant women. In 2010, it was 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age. It was 122.7 in 1957.
And that was the BBC. I hadn’t got to the news aggregators yet, being distracted. There were urgent emails; my website was under cyber-attack; the phone was ringing. My neighbor’s snooze-control works: the alarm goes off at 10-minute intervals, for hours. Is she in Florida, or should I call an ambulance? One email list to which I mistakenly subscribed offered the latest numbers from a “world freedom index.”
Gentle reader may perhaps detect non sequiturs in the narrative above (non sequituri?) – unless my argument is about what happens when one gets up in the morning, in which case everything follows naturally. Yesterday was the Feast of Saint Andrew, and tomorrow will be the first Sunday in Advent. Let us try to make sense.
For the Christian liturgical year is re-starting. Some decades ago, on the analogy of the secular New Year, I took it into my head to make annual resolutions each year on Saint Andrew’s. Partly, my reasoning was “Scotch,” and practical: better if Advent follows, than the New Year’s binge. One’s resolutions may have a chance of lasting through the first night.
Like most people, perhaps, I make approximately the same resolutions each year. And this, even though I resolved, around 1992, to make no resolutions about drinking or smoking or eating. Such resolutions are tawdry, I resolved. They play into the culture, in which guilt associated with dieting has replaced guilt associated with sin.
Resolutions should instead be directed towards personal behavior that is morally rather than physically deleterious. That in turn will help focus the mind on objects other than social disapproval. For given a culture like this, who needs social approval?
        Lancelot Andrewes, English School, c. 1660

Sound the gong for a subtlety here. One should, I am persuaded not only by my conscience but by my priest, try to avoid giving scandal. For if one is known to be “a Catholic,” one might just possibly have some slight exemplary influence on others reviewing their own denominational status, and should not go out of one’s way to give Catholics a bad name.
This alas cuts across my native mischievousness, which likes to leave an impression of scandal even where there is none in fact. (I inherited this from my father, whose indifference to public opinion was heroic.)
So let us consider a resolution inoffensive, yet not prim: “In the next year, I will try to ignore numbers.” Some may well prove impossible to ignore, and the perfect may be the enemy of the good. The telephone number to my ancient mama’s bedside should be remembered. Bank statements should be occasionally reviewed. The calendar itself contains numbers, and appointments are expressed in times of day.
One needs to specify disregard for the gratuitous numbers that fill one’s head from media and Internet: the ungodly “vision of the world” in which truth is statisticized. Through bad habit, one unconsciously buys into this vision of the world, in which death itself is replaced by numbers.
In my line of being, for reasons too boring to relate, it is not really practical to ignore the news entirely. But in the very reading of the news, a resolved, consciously enforced, growing disregard for numbers would be useful.
Quite apart from transferring one’s attention from what the media reveal to what they conceal (most even of diurnal reality), there is the moral issue of dependency: that craving for more numbers, numbers, numbers that corrupts the soul. Worse than “licker” or “backy” or saturated fats, it addles reason.
Conversely, where numbers are unavoidable, make them count.
Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline – to say nothing of Matins and the night watches. Somewhere in the monasteries, we believe on fairly good information, the Liturgia Horarum is still sung, descending from the Desert Fathers of Egypt.
As an Anglican, years ago, I became intensely aware of these Hours, my imagination captured by the Preces Privatae of Lancelot Andrewes. His comprehensive prayer, entitled “The Dial,” constructed entirely from Biblical passages and the old Greek Horologion, reviews the times of day mentioned in the life of Our Lord. It still wheels through my head. It begins, in the Brightman translation: “Thou who hast put the times and seasons in thine own power: grant that we make our prayer unto Thee in a time convenient and when Thou mayest be found, / and save us.”
Most of us do not live in monasteries. Some of us do not even get to Mass every day. Yet, as I found making resolutions many Advents ago, it is possible so to arrange one’s daily schedule that the Hours serve as breaks or bookmarks, and are acknowledged if only in one-sentence prayers.
Each year, it seems, I resolve anew to better organize myself around this temporal scheme, by which, even if they are inaudible, the bells from Christendom can still be heard.
 
David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and, until recently, a columnist with the Ottawa Citizen. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at: http://davidwarrenonline.com/
© 2012 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.org 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.
 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Voting with a Catholic Conscience

Courtesy of a priest friend of mine. He wrote the following in a FB status:

This time of the year can become very intense for all of us as we prepare to participate in the upcoming 2012 elections. None of us want to be told how to vote. Voting is a very personal and thought provoking duty when it is taken seriously. For the most part, we want our vote to be private, and this is all good. However, sometimes we do not realize that voting h
as a great effect, not just on us personally, but on our city, country, and in some cases, the world. It is for this reason, voting should be taken most seriously. As Catholics, we have the obligation to form our consciences well and to study the issues at hand. Contrary to popular belief, conscience is not our opinion, nor our feelings or thoughts. Conscience is informing ourselves correctly about the issues at hand, and then making a right judgment based on what we know to be good and true. Conscience is our Catholic Faith working hand in hand with our reason, to make good moral judgments.

Many people request or even demand that the Catholic Church stay out of politics, calling it a third party, or saying the Church has no place in the political arena. Holy Mother Church teaches us that this thought or demand is totally contrary to who we are as Catholics. "Catholicism is not a political philosophy or program. The Catholic Church is not a “third party” that mixes some politically liberal positions with some politically conservative positions. Catholicism is, instead, a two-thousand year old religious bearing timeless truth. After twenty centuries, the Church has done much teach regarding the application of moral principles to political questions.” (Catholic Bishops of Kansas) So, why would we not embrace the Church’s teachings and apply them to the formation of our conscience and take our faith with us to the polls on November 6?

One of the most pressing things most Catholics are very confused about is why the Church asks you to focus on abortion, euthanasia, and physician assisted suicide. We ask you to look at where candidates stand on these issues and if they promote them, we ask you not to vote for those candidates. Here is why: “This is because, in voting for such a person, you would become an accomplice in the moral evil at issue. For this reason, moral evils such as abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, are examples of a ‘disqualifying issue.’ A disqualifying issue is one which is of such gravity and importance that it allows for no political maneuvering. It is an issue that strikes at the heart of the human person and is non-negotiable. A disqualifying issue is one of such enormity that by itself, it renders a candidate for office unacceptable regardless of his position on other matters.” (Rev. Stephen F. Torraco, PH.D.) So, in essence, we are morally held accountable for the actions of a candidate we vote for that does take office. To put it bluntly, if a candidate condones and makes abortions, euthanasia, or physician assisted suicide more readily available, we too are accountable for those actions.

It is for these reasons that we take forming our conscience most seriously as Catholics; this is not just a matter of politics, or republican/democrat, liberal/conservative. This is a matter of the salvation of our souls. There are many different resources available out there to help us form our consciences. I have found two websites to recommend: www.catholicvote.org or www.focus.org/vote. In addition, you are welcome to pick up a copy of “A Brief Catechism for Catholic Voters” at the bulletin stands in church. All of these tools are great ways to help us to form our consciences with regard to our civic duty to vote.

I want to leave you with two thoughts to think about when voting in the upcoming election: 1) No president of the United States of America has ever won the presidency without the Catholic vote, and 2) "There are sixty-seven million Catholics in America-that's at least fifteen million more people than it takes to elect an American president." (Matthew Kelly) Make sure to join with me in registering to vote and voting with a good conscience. May the Holy Spirit be our strength in forming and following a good conscience so that we might reach our eternal reward in heaven. –Father Daniel Duling, Associate Pastor

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Life Teen Training Conference

So I'm at the Life Teen Training Conference in Boston, MA. Yes, I am here now! So Mark and I got in around 11:00am or so...and boy, were we tired. We almost missed our connection out in Philadelphia. We had 20 minutes to get there and we booked it across one terminal to make our flight with 10 minutes before take off....Holy Buckets!

Anyways, it has been great so far. I should have known that this would have tones of a retreat to it. Which is great, because Lord knows I always need to get my own renewal with Jesus! Ever since I was a teen, he's been important to me. We had Life Teen at my parish and now, I'm learning things to make sure we have a good program at my new parish!

The Catholic world is so small. Believe It because it is true. There are people here who went to college with me. There are people here who know my brother from this past summer. There are people here who are friends of friends. I mean, talk about crazy! Who would have thought we would all randomly meet each other! Really, I think God made it all happen. No coincidences here. Nope. They are all God-incidences. Oh, and even other people from our Diocese are here too. Shout out to St Anne's in Richmond Hill! Yup, Fr Joseph Smith is here too. Say what?! It was weird to turn around and see him! I totally yelled out loud in surprise.

Lots of great people. Young and...not so young! :D Hey, all to bring Teens Closer To Christ!! A lot of great points were brought up. Man, I cannot wait to see what these next few days will bring. Keep an eye out on IG, Twitter, and FB! 
The adults were invited to praying with the teens for their
Life Night

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pierced by a Sword!!

Okay, so there is this one book that I would  TOTALLY  recommend. Pierced by a Sword is probably one of the most fascinating, Catholic fiction books that I have ever read. I first picked it up about a year or two after high school and I have read the book several times since then. Why is it good? Well...

The author actually writes from a totally solid Catholic perspective and he writes his characters that seem to be very real. Ever heard of the messages given by Mary in her apparitions throughout the world? Well, within them, she warns of a global occurrence that could happen if people don't repent from their ways...and well, in this book...it happens!! 

What kind of characters are in this book? There is a troubled young securities broker from Chicago; a beautiful young woman, away from the faith since childhood; a fast-talking young priest from New Jersey; a drug dealer from Cleveland; a no-nonsense Irish Pope who drives his own car and travels in disguise; a soft-spoken, shy, former NFL football star; and...the Mother of God...

The book has a way of drawing people into it and thinking about the spiritual life in a new and different way...So much so that I remember the first time I was well into this book, I had put the book down and began praying...for the characters in the book! Hahaha I was drawn into the world of prayer so much so that I had begun to pray more spontaneously for everyone...lol...including the people in the book. I remember that I was on a plane when I realized what I was doing and I just began to laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of it. And yet it showed me that this book was great because I got so into it. 

DISCLAIMERS:
*A certain religion is depicted as having hierarchical power hunger (whether that is true or not, who knows? It's fiction. For all we know, the author could have chosen any other religion to write in that part of his story) 

*the first half of the book is written in a low-key, slow manner. Ever read Cannery Row or the Grapes of Wrath? John Steinbeck wrote those books in a way that you just "followed" the life of the characters. I liked those books and so the first half of the book didn't bother me at all because it was written like this. I have friends who hated that writing style and found the first half of the book so slow...but after you get passed that middle point, the book just TAKES OFF! These friends of mine were hooked!

Okay, so get the book...especially if you want something to read in terms of the Catholic faith...oh, and it's free when you get it through the website! They ask you to consider donating $1 for the shipping, but you really are not obligated to...so go ahead! Get the book!






"Macfarlane, the CatholiCity honcho, has written three novels so far, but his first one is, in my opinion, the best.(Others may disagree.)Pierced by a Sword is an apocolyptic thriller, and unlike so many 'End Times' books on the market, it's very, very Catholic. And, come to think of it, it isn't REALLY about the End Times at all -- it's far more optimistic than that." ~Healing Spirit of Faith

"Get ready for a journey of epic proportions--rather, cosmic proportions. This book is a little treasure, a marvel. This is an adventure, a comedy, a tragedy, a turbulent odyssey and a peaceful stroll. Most of all, this is a love story like no other I have ever read. A new kind of love story. I'll see you inside..." ~Michael O'Brien, author of Father Elijah

Friday, October 5, 2012

words filled with the WORD

I love being a Catholic priest. Sometimes, I guess, a priest can ask himself, is this worth it? What's the point of it all? And every now and then, there will be a random phone call where someone needs to just talk; there will be someone you run into at the store; there will be a student or a teacher that needs some direction in their current life; there will be a school Mass that needs to be celebrated...and out of nowhere, the Lord will touch someone the words that he gives us...even if we don't know it. The person will hear exactly what they needed to hear. Or it will be through our example that they will learn something about Christ.

And it is in those moments that we sometimes stop and say....wow....that was totally from God. I could not have done that on my own. The healing and peace that came from these spoken words are filled with the WORD of God...spoken before time...

Being a Catholic priest is pretty awesome. I laugh at all the attacks against the priesthood because most of them are based on misunderstandings of what the priesthood is. Sure, there are troubled people in it at times...but...these people are, at a deeper level, hurt or wounded in some way...and in reality, people with a broken, wounded, and hurt nature are found EVERYWHERE...not just in the priesthood. They can be your neighbor, your co-worker, your family member...your lawyer, dentist, cashier, or bank teller....

What makes the priesthood different is that, regardless of how hurt or holy the person is, Christ uses that man as an instrument for his healing and strength. He becomes another Christ for others. And if that individual cooperates with the grace and that reality, so much goodness can come forth into his life and the lives around him...but only if he is willing...

If he is willing...then his life and his words that are already filled with the WORD of God will have an incredible transforming effect on those around him.

 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dummy Defense

Yes...I played this game on my phone
Ya know, I'm  interested in exercising my brain, so I found this sweet game on my phone once: Dummy Defense. There's this dummy, kind of like a crash test dummy, who is in danger of being destroyed. The object of the game is to build a structure within a gridded area so as to protect the dummy. You build the structure based on a certain budget; it has to be strong, solid, and cheap! The dummy's name is Melvin and he has an archnemesis...Kelvin. When Kelvin is in the same scenario, you have to protect Melvin and ensure Kelvin gets hurt all the while staying within the budget! Confused? ha! sorry :p

So anyways, this was an interesting game because it had me thinking. Shocking, right? Ya know, sometimes we find ourselves in life just feeling completely defenseless.... right? Everyone has experienced it at some point in life...I mean it's like some metaphorical storm headed our way and we can't help but just find ourselves there...like deer and headlights...hanging around like a bunch of dummies! :p A crazy catastrophe is coming our way and all we can do is stand around not knowing what to do. 


Like what? Well, for some of us, it's as simple as a test or an exam we are about to take and we KNOW we are going to bomb and fail it for lack of studies; for others it may be simply an embarrassing moment; for others it's a scary event that has happened; and for some it may be something as serious as cancer. These events may be happening to us or sometimes to someone we know and or love the most. And for situations like these, there really is no way of preparing for that, is there?

There is no way to ever REALLY prepare for a crazy event. It's not like angels pass out a survey asking you which catastrophe you would like this month. No, catastrophes are just part of life...part of the wounded aspect of this world...but...that doesn't mean we can't fortify ourselves and place certain guards in our life to protect the inner peace we have with God when we grow closer to him. Part of our spiritual walk with God is meant to actually be fortifying. 
When we learn about our own weaknesses, come before God and ask him to strengthen us (regular Confession and going to Mass are ways we are strengthened) then we have those strong foundations and fortresses we can rely on. They protect that inner peace, that relationship with God when crazy events happen. Something else to think about is this: when LIFE happens, the devil sometimes will put his hand in things to target our weaknesses... ultimately... to draw us away from God. If he can draw us away from our Strength and our Life, then he can manipulate us to think less about ourselves. He will lie to us about what can make us happy and good (so basically, he tell us that living a sinful life is okay for us and it will make us happy...when it won't). Crazy thought, right? But it happens...I've seen it happen.

Now, if all God wants from us is to be "all that we can be", to be truly happy in life, to be "the best person" we were created to be (AKA to be "a saint"), then his desire to draw us closer to Himself in love, to make us holier, is really an act of Love. An act of love in trying to protect us...Out of love he is trying to fortify us with his spiritual helps (*grace*) and he is preparing us to know how to stand our ground when LIFE shakes us and tries to throw us off ... 
But understand this: our growth works only if WE make the decision to do something about it...he ain't gonna do all the work for you...uh-UH! So I ask you... "How have you been fortifying yourself? Has your spiritual life allowed you to grow stronger in your faith? or Are you just on 'cruise control' ...standing around....defenseless....like a dummy?"

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Kind of Life

I know it's been a while since I have written. So a lot has happened since last I wrote. I was able to visit my priest friends that I graduated with a year ago. That was A LOT of fun! We celebrated mass together in the cabin we were in. Afterwards we went out on the lake on a tiny boat and swam, hung out, water skied.... it was a good time. Yes, as priests we can do these kinds of things!! LOL we aren't forbidden to hang out with other priest friends, ya know :D


And this is my friend in the back...
Hilarious expression:
"duh...wha???"
There was a priest conference where 20 other priests from my diocese showed up. The bishop was there too so we had a great time joking and talking, but also listening to Fr Robert Barron. Man, what you hear on his website Word on Fire is what you get. He's great at engaging everyday life and cultural media to deliver the Traditions of the Church. 

And really, ever since I have been back, from the retreat of priests last week, I have just been enjoying my time being a priest. It's been hard though...especially when we are trying to find new accommodations for our mission church...gosh, my heart breaks to see the state of the pews and the classrooms...ugh...
Walls are damaged and pews are broken or have no padding on the kneelers
BUT, what is exciting is that we are starting to get some leads on where we can get a bigger and better trailer for the classrooms. It's like a scavenger hunt...except the reward is far more awesome. 

Meeting with couples, hearing Confessions, talking to the young people about the saints and the Eucharist...talking to the youth group, trying help my pastor meet the needs of the people....Man!! Can life get any better than this?! I SUBMIT THAT IT CANNOT! No one told me the priesthood would be so much fun...I mean, I would never have thought that ME, a kid from L.A. would be working the way I have been... I guess it really does make a difference when you are following the Lord's will. He'll take you where you need to be, where He wants you to be...and life will never be the same! 

The most difficult days will become the most rewarding....

One of the office ladies gave Danbo
some priest clothes!! LOL


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Priest-Bender

For those who don't know, this is a creative image someone drew based on a show called Avatar: The Last Airbender. For those who don't know much about it, one person briefly mentioned that "The plotting, while being a simple tale of the hero’s journey, and of war between an evil empire and disparate nations, only appears simple from the widest perspective."


I'm sure I looked like this guy
in mid air! 
Why am I bringing this up? Well hold on! Let me get to it. So Yesterday, I was invited by the teacher to come over and join her and the cross country students in a game of ultimate frisbee.  Well before we started playing, we started talking about Avatar and the Legend of Korra. We continued talking about various bending powers....

uh...okay...first off, yes I do watch cartoons...I always have...I do watch normal adult stuff too, lol, but I have always enjoyed watching cartoons for some reason...then I found out that cartoons and fairytale type stuff can actually be a good thing! Check this link out! So back to my thought...where was I? Oh! Bending powers!

So in this cartoon, people can "bend" or control various elements: fire, water, earth, or air. If one could bend water, they would be called a water-bender; air, air-bender; fire, fire-bender; earth, earth-bender. So we discussed which bending ability we would like...lol...then we were all kind of acting out various "bending" abilities, which was pretty fun at the time. After said conversation,  we played frisbee.

Once we were done playing and parents started to show up to pick up their children, two students came up and yelled out, "Father!!! You are a priest-bender!" I started to laugh..."What? A priest-bender?! What do I bend?!" I asked. There was a lot of positive feedback lately about the Mass and the homily this last Wednesday that it even influenced their next comment, "You can bend lectures!!! And make them fun and interesting." They said this with excitement and with an intense look...lol I laughed....my priesthood just got that much more fun...

So for now on, call me Fr Chris...priest-bender...lol

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mystical Body of Christ

The Mystical Body of Christ. What the heck is that?! Well, ya know it’s also known as the “Body of Christ”. It’s fascinating that the word “mystical” plays with our child-like mind, doesn’t it? And yet it sheds light on this reality. Something that is mystical makes us think of something fantastical and mysterious; something to be feared and yet revered with awe and wonder. So what makes the Body of Christ a mystical reality? In an all-true real way, when we are brought into the Body of Christ, when we are baptized, we all become connected to each other.  No, not connected in the sense of texting or skyping or any technological medium. From the very depths of our beings, as humans, we have the ability to relate, sympathize and empathize with, experience, and have an effect on others…and yet, as members in the Mystical Body of Christ, all Christians (e.g., that doctor you know, that nun in Asia, the widower-dad who has to raise his children, the migrant worker, the cafeteria lady, the homeless man, etc) are all united in such a way to actually have an effect on each other in a very real way. 

The very God-man, Jesus, unites us all into his Body into one living organism. And because of this, our prayers actually affect the lives of those who are within (and those outside) the Mystical Body of Christ. We are transformed by our incorporation into the Body of Christ by being given the ability to ask for graces and blessings to come into someone else’s life. Sound lame? Well what about these tv shows with witches who have the ability to change things according to their own decisions. Or fairies that have the power to change reality…we can stop and think”…wow…if only I can do that”. Uh, but I’m saying that in a sense, we CAN do that. It’s not fake like these shows. Now I doubt this means we can orb balls of fire or what not, but really, our prayer has the ability to reach into the depths of the very being of God and, if we are aligned with His will, cooperate in bringing about his very grace and spiritual helps into someone’s life so as to heal, strengthen, and give them hope when nothing else was able to do the trick.

Jesus Christ unites us into a living organism: his Mystical Body. We, mere humans, are united within and make up the body that the Son of God (who is still God, btw) took on. And we can be so united to God’s will and his very being that when we pray on behalf of others, we can actually have a real effect in their lives. We can help in directing the graces of God into somebody else’s very being. How more mystical can that sound? Sure we talk about Peter Pan and fairies and magic; all that sounds mystical…but a true mystical reality is the Body of Christ. United within HIS body, we follow his one will and receive his pulsating life. And united in a mystical way, we can actually have an effect on someone with our prayers…prayer is not so mundane now is it? Nor is our incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ :p


Saturday, July 28, 2012

You Call Me Master


Found this prayer in Poland. I'm working on the translation and finding a good image for it. Anyways, I want to make it into a holy card. What are your thoughts?

You Call Me Master
Author: Unknown

You call me master, but you don’t ask for advice
You call me light, but you don’t see me
You call me the way, but you don’t walk in my footsteps
You call me the truth, but you don’t respect the truth
You call me richly generous, but you don’t ask anything from me
You call me eternal, but you don’t search for me
You call me merciful, but you don’t trust me
You call me all-powerful, but you don’t appreciate me
You call me just and fair, but you are afraid of me

I am your God - I know more. You have faith - have courage! Your life will not be difficult, because whoever has my divine heart has everything. The world will pass away, death will take everything from you. There will be only one thing left in the end - Me…Your God.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Being A Martyr

So I read this the other day and thought, "Man, that's good stuff." So I pass it on to you for some food for thought. It comes from a blog called Young and Catholic.



Being A Martyr

If religion is just a game, then our generation just isn’t interested in playing.  You probably know this.  Why put on a phony face on Sundays if you’re going to break all of “the rules” throughout the rest of the week anyway?
No, if we are going to believe in something, we have to be all in.  We are passionate to the point of radical; it’s all or nothing.  And this is a very good thing when it comes to faith.  It’s probably what Blessed John Paul II had in mind when, addressed with the question of why he held World Youth Day, he replied:
“I have come to greet the martyrs of the third millennium”
We tend to think of martyrs as only belonging in history books or to cultures that lack the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom that we [supposedly] have.  But that’s not the case.  We’re called to a “white martyrdom” on a daily basis—to make sacrifices that may not be as drastic as our life, but that can still make it feel like the world, as we know it, is ending.  Sometimes it’s our popularity, sometimes it’s a relationship that is bringing us away from God, or sometimes it’s our own comfort.
Going to mass is easy.  Living out your faith?  That’s hard.  But in all of our struggles, we need not be discouraged:
Dear young people, in these noble undertakings you are not alone.  With you there are your families, there are your communities, there are your priests and teachers, there are so many of you who in the depths of your hearts never weary of loving Christ and believing in him.  In the struggle against sin you are not alone: so many like you are struggling and through the Lord’s grace are winning!
Today let’s pray for the courage and the strength to live out our faith with everything we are.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Carmelites

So I decided to visit the Carmelite Sisters before I had to leave. Fortunately for me, I was able to celebrate mass for them for about 3 days.  

Correct me if I am wrong, but a Carmelite monastery is affectionately known as Carmel...no, not as caramel candy! :p And, yes, they live in Savannah!

So, in my visit, I asked if I could take some pictures, and they were totally cool about it...and...I also to Danbo with me! Bahahaha...the sisters actually had a great time with Danbo Dashboard!


Danbo: Run, priest! These robed women are after us!
Me: Relax. These women won't harm you.
Ya know, these sisters have their meals just like everyone else!!! Oh, and they are also habited! They wear their religious clothes all the time...

Carmelite sisters have a different kind of spirituality. I'm not an uber expert on their spirituality but I do know that they are more contemplative. So they are all about silence and quiet time and Adoration...I found out that they actually have different associations which means various Carmelite houses may have a different emphasis and practice in their lifestyle than other Carmelite houses...

AH! Priest!! SHE HAS ME! SHE HAS ME!!
RUNAWAY!! BEFORE SHE GET'S US ALL!!
So if there are any Georgians who want to see some legit Carmelite nuns, you should visit these wonderful women. Though they are very reflective, they are full of love and joy. They are always willing to talk to young women who may be interested in living their lives as brides of Christ. And in case some of my pictures didn't convey this, they are also women who have fun. They are always laughing and giggling whenever we sit down to talk.

Oh...and if you google them for a website, you may not be able to open up their actual link. For whatever reason their website is no longer considered "theirs" so we can't access it. Hopefully they will get some tech savvy person to help them either "reclaim" it or create a new one.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Missionary-ish

I am missionary. No really, I am. Yes I am a priest, but I am very much a missionary priest. No, I'm not in Africa nor will I be going to a far off country...being a missionary doesn't mean you go to other lands to spread the Gospel. Being a missionary can be something we do here in the States or at home...


I mean, after high school out in L.A. (yes, I'm a West Coast Kid), I was part of a traveling youth ministry called NET Ministries. I loved it. I was a missionary. I went around the US putting on retreats six out of seven days of the week for 6th through 12th graders. I was living off of the goodness of families and traveling around with 9-10 other teammates. We were preaching the Gospel and trying to live out holiness all day every day...it was hard, but very rewarding...


I have heard and met missionaries who remain on a college campus and spread the Gospel by providing Bible studies and opportunities to grow in one's faith through fellowship: FOCUS.


How are you spreading the Gospel? Is it difficult to be a witness of the Catholic faith at home? with friends? at work? Well...welcome to the missionary's life. To go where no one would dare go and proclaim Christ through your life (and if necessary, using words) in all places even the most common places...THAT is what a missionary does. The light of Christ and his teachings are meant to inform every part of life.


When people find out that I'm from L.A. and they realize I'm living as a priest in Georgia, they seem to always say in one way or another, "Oh...I am so sorry that you have to be here. Wait a minute, why did you decide to come here?" Because it is about going where God wants you! Sometimes as a missionary we have to be ready to move at a moment's notice. We have to follow the will of God and remain in the PEACE he grants us.


So now I get ready for the missionary aspect of things in my life. I get ready to go where the Lord wants me; I continue packing my things so I can and head off...Just another week and a half or so left and then I'm off...
First I need to pack some supplies some friends
gave me for the trip! LOL

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Morning Breakfast with Danbo

Okay, so I'm back in my favorite coffee shop, Gallery Espresso. Just trying to do a little bit of work here.


Danbo: Work? Really? You took a picture of me, you were on Facebook, and you are eating a muffin and drinking coffee. Priest, you have a funny view of work.


Say "cheese"!
Danbo: I hate pictures, priest.
Woa, woa, woa! Danbo, do NOT diss my work space or work ethic! No seriously, I was doing work.


Danbo: How?


Well, if you were paying attention, you would have noticed that I had been seriously doing some article research/reading in preparation for a meeting tomorrow with someone who will be Confirmed. I just needed to get away and still be productive. Besides, I have been looking at my schedule and making some plans for some other things when I get back to my ACTUAL office. AND...people do contact me via Facebook rather than email. It's another forum for easy communication...


Danbo: Priest, your ways are not normal.

Ah Danbo, that is something many a friend has said to me :p Still, I need to plan my move and plan my packing-of-stuff.


Danbo: Priest, will you take me with you?


Why yes, Danbo. I will.


Danbo: I was afraid of that.


Danbo!! Sigh....Well, you know, hopefully you can help me recruit some missionaries into our diocese.


Danbo: Missionaries?


Yeah, we need men who are willing to step up in the priesthood and minister out here (and all over the South and US for that) where there is a great need to minister to the people in these rural areas. You'll see. I'll show you these next few years what life is like out there...in Southern Georgia...in the Diocese of Savannah. But for now, I need to go and get packing and what not. Ready?


Danbo: Very well.





Thursday, June 14, 2012

Random Thought

This is so true for me! I want to actually video record myself when I run because I am sure I will just start laughing so much! And actually, I went running today....and it's been a while since I have been able to be on a routine again...so obviously I was not at my best!


Isn't it funny that sometimes we get stuck in our own brains and we PERCEIVE something when in actuality it isn't the case? And the actual situation is possibly more funny or more ridiculous then what we have made it. When I run, I think, "I bet I totally look fit!" but then I see myself in some of the windows of the businesses on my route and I am humbled..."Oh Gosh....do i really look like that?" Hahahaha like today...I was like, "I'm so tired but this feels good" and I would notice that my posture and my image on the windows conveyed a tired-worn-out hispanic man who just wanted to die! hahaha


Still, our minds are fascinating in the way they work, right? The way our minds perceive something when it's not the case at all; and then, we believing that what we perceive is reality, we respond accordingly. I find myself always blowing things out of proportion, especially when I have a lot on my plate. How do I respond? I begin flipping out and get frazzled; I begin rambling and stop thinking rationally...hahahaha....my very close friends from seminary and college know what I'm talking about.  They have to be the ones to say, "Stop! Breathe...okay, these are your goals: A, B, C. Go do "A" first and then come back when you are done." They are probably laughing right now because they know this is a true scenario.


So what's the point here? Nothing really. I just find it fascinating how our brains work a certain way; and because of that, life is never really boring, is it?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Anniversary Thoughts


My pastor had a reception that celebrated 45 years of his priesthood...wow...45 years...Today is the official day of his priestly ordination...June 4th...and how is he celebrating it? *Chuckling to myself* He's celebrating it by running around in the office, making photocopies of this, that, and something else. He's answering phone calls, doing his duties as usual as the pastor of the Cathedral...*shaking my head* I don't know how he does it. Last night many people came to a reception for him...stories were told, people congratulated him, thoughts were shared, songs were sung...45 years...dang...and here I am...celebrating my first year as a priest...just a baby...lol...a baby-priest


Man! I'm a priest! Who would have thunk it? I mean, since the junior year of high school I had thought about the priesthood...but I'm actually here now; one year in...to be actually IN THE PERSON OF CHRIST! To be able to preach the word of God, to reconcile people back to God, to witness marriages, baptize, anoint, bring converts into the fullness of the faith...to...to bring the Eucharist into existence through my very being...I am no one, I am a broken man desiring only to please God in my lowliness...and HE chose me to be his priest...

and this is only the beginning

 
After being ordained a priest, I was able to go with my priest-brother to Poland to visit his family there. I was able to experience a Polish celebration of a man's ordination to the priesthood and I was able to concelebrate at Mass and say some of the prayers in Polish at Mass...lol 

Gallery Espresso, my fav.
I came to Savannah and began to really fall in love with this little city. City enough to appease the city-boy in this priest, and yet southern enough to give me the peace I desired. Being at the Cathedral allowed me to see the goodness of God and see how God touched the lives of many who came to visit my parish...

I suppose there is so much I can say about the things I have done, but I suppose that's what Facebook and Twitter is for..right?! lol...Oh yeah, and this blog too... :)

It just amazes me at what God has done so far in my life...GOD will never disappoint. You follow him and he will change your life. Sure He won't give you everything you want...why should he? :) He will answer your prayers, though. Sometimes his answer is just "No" and he gives you this answer because he desires something else for you...

Let's see...for those seminarians or newly ordained priests reading this...hmmm....Do I have any words for you, my brothers? Well, I'm not very wise...I can be very aloof, oblivious, and naive to situations and circumstances...lol...it's true...but I try my best to learn from my mistakes.

Humility is key, yet hard at times, especially when we are critiqued on how you celebrate Mass or preach... Remember, brothers that it will only be a few disgruntled people of God that will make their voices known. Why? I'm not to sure why, it's just the way it seems to work out. But know this, the other people ARE actually benefiting from your work. So keep going and take it with a grain of salt. Also, these grumpy people may have something worth considering. There is always SOME WAY we can do better, and though their presentation may not be the best, try to look past it and say, "What ARE they saying? What can I take away from this?" It's hard, trust me. But we can always improve in our ministry so long as we are willing to swallow our pride and reflect.

Conviction is necessary for our way of life...so compromise is not an option. Speak the truth. Be convicted of it. Teach the tradition. But PLEASE be sure to be pastoral about it. There is no point in yelling out the 10 Commandments at Mass if everyone is going to just tune you out. Know your audience. The early Church Fathers, and the great preachers/teachers in the faith knew how to speak to the people and pass on the Faith when they went outside of their own comfort zones and spoke the language of the people. Now, sometimes we do need to bring down the hammer :) but do it sparingly and in charity...still, never compromise. We as a people of God desire a standard worth living up to, so Be convicted of the faith you teach and people will see the goodness of God through it. Be it in teaching doctrine or teaching them traditional devotions, if they see your conviction, they will understand the goodness of it and follow.


Random duck from the reception
Joy. Never be afraid to have fun. A fruit of the Lord's presence is joy in our lives. So have fun. There are so many people who think that we are sad, depressed, bored, isolated, angry, people. And for those priests, seminarians, nuns, and other devout people reading this, you KNOW that is totally not true. There have been a number of saints that were known for their joy. They would play tricks on their friends. They would have fun doing recreational sports too. They would be witty and full of jokes...And it just makes sense, doesn't it? The Lord fills our life with goodness, so why wouldn't we be happy and full of joy? Allow the joy that God pours into your life be known to those around you.
I am excited to continue on in my priesthood. I am getting excited to go to my new parish in Valdosta. There will be more experiences there, I am sure. And I am sure you will be hearing about them. You will continue to hear my thoughts...the thoughts of a priest. And who knows, maybe the Lord will allow me to continue on for another 44 years...wow...44 years...Don't know what that will be like. Maybe in 44 years you will be able to just download my posts onto your chip that we will all have implanted into our brains! hahaha...oh gosh, i hope not! Anyways, I got to go and celebrate Mass on my anniversary day! Till then friends, remember:
by a student

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pink Nuns!!

They are rose colored,
not pink :)
Yes this is a nun...and yes, she is wearing a pink habit. No this is not a religious order gone crazy. This is actually a legit religious order that started off in Holland in 1896. Where are these sisters? Lincoln, Nebraska. Why am I here? Oh, I came for a friend's priestly ordination. I am really excited for him and I am super excited to be in the MidWest once again...I miss it, here. The families and the local church is just incredible. Hardworking people, hardworking priests...a different kind of life is lived here...
           I snagged a picture while no one was looking


Ever since I can remember, the guys at the seminary from the Diocese of Lincoln would always bring up the "Pink Sisters". I was like, "Say what?!" I wasn't sure what to think of nuns in pink...I mean, it sounds kinda odd, doesn't it? So today I decided to pay them a little visit after hearing so many good things about them. After lunch with one of my classmates from the seminary, I went over to see them. These nuns are known as the Servant-Sisters of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration.

There's Jesus! What a stud!
8 sisters

I found my way into their chapel of perpetual Adoration. These sisters devote their whole lives to perpetual adoration of Our Divine Lord, Jesus. Each sister "begs forgiveness for the world's coldness and indifference to this great Sacrament of love; she offers prayers of thanksgiving in behalf of all; she implores divine blessings and merciful forgiveness for all mankind. Every intention and need, every distress and hardship in the world find a place in her intercessory prayer. Payer and sacrifice for priests and the sanctification of the priesthood is a cherished duty."

Okay, so I had to nonchalantly get close to
snag a picture! hahaha...
"Don't mind the conspicuous-looking priest
 with his camera phone!"
Intense...I know...so, from what their pamphlet says, there are 4 cities here in the US that these sisters are located: Philadelphia, St. Louis, Corpus Christi, and Lincoln. They are also in Germany, Poland, Slovakia, the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, India, Indonesia, and Africa. Dang, these sisters are all over the place!

Ladies, if you ever thought about being a nun, but were convinced that your love for the color pink could never allow you to become a nun, well think again! The Lord may be calling you to be one of his "Brides" in this religious order!
I had turned around to look at something and when I turned back I saw TWO sisters!!!
So I took a shot before she left.
It was kinda like the "changing of the guards"




Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Got Your Back

So the other day...uh...yesterday actually, I get a random text from another priest in our diocese whom I am just now getting to know. Fun dude, even though he is like 1,000 years older than me! Haha, just kidding. Dude, if your reading this, you know I'm just joshing you. Anyways, the text read, "I will be celebrating this next Mass for your intentions." I then commenced in teasing and bantering him....but after that, I decided to rally all my thoughts and prayers for those people and situations that I care about and pray for regularly. Then after a few minutes I was satisfied that this would suffice as my intention list for the time being.


Sure we hear about the need to pray for each other, but growing up, I don't know if I ever heard of priests praying for each other...maybe I was never around or maybe at the very least I heard of prayers offered for priests in a general manner, but I never heard a priest say to another priest, "What do you want prayers for?" or "I will say my next Mass for you." Don't get me wrong, we do pray for each other...I pray for my brother priests, especially those closest to me.


Yet my inclination to do so has always kind of been an extension of my own spiritual background where want to pray for others. It made sense for me to do as a priest what I have always been doing as a practicing Christian-Catholic.  I don't know if growing up I actually heard a priest say to another that they will be praying for them. I never had that example. When I talk to my classmates from seminary, it's a little different (at least for me) because these are guys I knew before being a priest...


This was a first experience for me...to actually hear a priest say to me that he would be offering Mass for my intentions...that...that just really made my day...it put it into a cool perspective for me:


I, a priest, care about you as a brother priest enough to want to pray for you.


This was perhaps a great little reminder that as priests we pray for each other because we are in this together. The priesthood isn't game, it demands all of you. A good fraternity is always helpful when you are in this life. It's good to know that I got some brother priests who can say I GOT YOUR BACK by simply letting me know that they are praying for me...


Thanks a lot friend :)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Scary Night

So tonight was a bit scary. I was having dinner with a couple I knew. A very nice, solid, Catholic couple. We were out at a restaurant. The little newborn cooing away as we talked about their lives and my life as a new priest...and then the husband looked distracted as he looked above and past me...


He said, "I think she's choking." I turned around and saw an older woman standing up putting a cloth napkin to her mouth. A gentleman from her table was behind her giving her the heimlich maneuver. I was stunned. "What...?" I thought to myself. Then a woman from her table got up to take up the process in relieving this woman. "She can't breathe," said a third person from her group. Younger and bigger waiters began to come up and assist. A few people began to get up from their tables to come over to help out. The husband got up to join the group.


"Call 911!" someone shouted. A waitress from the back shouted out, "They are on their way!" The poor woman started to lose color in her face. Push after push against her diaphragm you could hear a slight gasp for air as her throat opened up just enough to allow for a little bit of air to come in around the lodge piece of morsel.


Everyone in the restaurant began move their attention to this moment. People began to watch in horror as the morsel of food remained unmoved.


I thought to myself, "What...can...I do? There are so many people gathering around, I can't do anything else." I sat there stunned as I watched the foreseeable outcome approaching. My lips began to move in instinct, "Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee..." The prayer to our Blessed Mother was really a plea for her to hear my intention: Help her out, Mother! Pray to God to save her, please!


Then...everyone stopped...the poor woman stumbled a little. The waiter behind her moved aside. The woman stood erect and leaned against the waiter that had dislodged the piece of food. "Praise God! What a blessing," said the young man who had left our table.


After that moment I started to think more seriously about life. "We really don't know what it will be that takes us from this life, do we? Hmmm...will we be ready when it is our time?"


What a scary night...but what a tremendous blessing this woman had in being able to have the morsel dislodged. As we got ready to leave, I walked over to the group of four. In my clerics, I turned to the woman and said, "Are you okay?" She was...a little shooken-up but thankful. "I heard your friend say 'what a blessing.' This truly was a blessing." I offered words of empathy and mentioned that I would pray for her this evening. They were very thankful.


Wow...