Music

Never before in my life have I recalled a time where music has been so important to me than now. I started to notice it more when I started playing in a band again earlier this year and after seeing Dream Theater in October. Dream Theater is a progressive metal band for those of you who may not know. Their show was mind-blowing. Not because of special effects, pyrotechnics, or any sort of glitz and glamour, it was because of their musicianship. They are absolute music virtuosos. It was refreshing to see that and it was a night where every emotion was stirred…by their music, their talent, and their love for music.

For those who don’t know, I play drums and I’m a co-lead singer for our group Cast No Stones. I consider myself to be a fair drummer and singer. It’s hard to put into the words the feeling I get from using all of the limbs in my body to create music from an inanimate object. The snap of a snare drum, the crash of a cymbal, the thump of the bass drum, they all awake the sinews throughout the body and loosen them up and enable me to bring my drum set to life.

Mark plays guitars and when I say he plays guitars, that’s an understatement. He is a genius when it comes to guitars. We are a trio which makes us limited to what music we can play…or so you’d think. Mark has a way of implementing the guitar in place of keyboards in certain songs, so much so that you don’t even notice that they are missing, unless you are a keyboardist lol. Mark is a true master of the guitar.

Steve plays bass guitar and is the other lead singer of our group. Both of us are new to lead singing but we bring different voices to the music we play and in the end, it works. Steve has a deep voice that works perfectly with the outlaw country and older country music that we play. He has commanding yet smooth voice and if you were to close your eyes when he sings, you’d swear that you were listening to Chris LeDoux. Just like his singing, his bass playing is powerful yet subtle when needed, a true master of his art.

 

Music has a way of stirring the soul. No matter what kind of music it is; if it moves you, it moves you. Music has always been a part of my life. I can remember the voices of Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Johnny Rodriguez coming from the record player in our living room as a child. I remember the sound of the cannon blast coming over the AM airwaves from the Mexican radio station “Radio Cannon” the closer that we got to El Paso, TX while going to visit my grandparents. I’ve had thousands of moments and memories like this throughout my life that I will always cherish and it is all because of music.

piano

Although my parents may have been the first ones to introduce me to music, it has been God who gave me the gift to play and appreciate the beauty that lies between the notes. So today my friends, go out and find that song that moves you. Let it stir your soul as you feel your heart race. Don’t just listen to it, feel it, and allow it to move you to a better place.

Until next time, Buen Camino!

 

To Blog or Not to Blog

I'm sorry

For those of you who still follow this blog, I’m shocked; I’m also sorry for not being consistent with my posts. I’m hoping to change that going forward and try to post at least once a month at a minimum.

where-have-you-been

So why the hiatus? I guess you can say it’s been multiple reasons; some good, some bad, but still, there were enough to keep me distracted from my blog. 2019 like any other year, has been a year of ups and downs; mostly downs though.

Earlier in the year, I dropped out of the deacon formation program and that sent me off on a tailspin. I never wanted to drop out however, due to circumstances beyond my control, it was in my best interest and that of my family, to get out. The healing from that continues though. A few months later, one of our fellow diaconate brothers who left the program last summer took his own life. It didn’t make sense then, it still doesn’t make sense and it probably never will. The healing also continues from that event. A couple months after that, our business loses our biggest client. Another situation that was beyond my control but, it still impacts us. There have been a few other business-related matters that have risen in which we will have to wait and see what happens going forward.

therapy

Needless to say, I started therapy earlier in the year. As it has progressed and times have gotten tougher throughout the year, my therapist and doctors have been a blessing. I believe that my diagnosis is spot on and there is a plan that we’ve implemented to help me address my issues and move forward to a more normal life. Baby steps. Please, don’t ever make fun of people who are seeking help. I used to be that asshole that did that and look at me now. This world can be pretty messed up to put it lightly and there are many of us who have grown up in non-typical environments that have left us bruised, wounded and scarred. Instead of making fun of us, take the time to get to know us and listen to us, if we are willing to talk.

faith

My faith means a lot to me. Let me rephrase that, my Catholic faith means a lot to me. Ever since coming back to the Church in 2012, my faith journey has been a roller coaster of a ride, to say the least. This year really tested that faith, especially during that first half of the year. But I trust in Jesus Christ, my God, to get me through all of this as he has done before. Even if the outcome is not how I wanted it to be, I trust that it was His will that was done and not mine and that it was for the best.

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Cast No Stones

So was it all bad this year? Absolutely not. I started playing with a couple of men back in March of this year just for rest and relaxation and it turned into a group. The name of our band is Cast No Stones and if you get a chance, check us out on Facebook. We played our first show in October to a packed house at the Little Toad Creek Brewery in Silver City, NM and it was a fun night. Our next show will be a private party at the Elks Club on New Year’s Eve. Playing in the band has been a form of therapy for me as well.

Dream Theater

Dream Theater – Distance Over Time Tour October 26, 2019

I also went with a good friend of mine and saw Dream Theater for the first time in October and I was blown away. Definitely, the best show that I’ve ever been to.

catholic-men-praying-together

I had lunch with that friend of mine that I went to the concert with and we’ve decided to launch another Catholic men’s group for our area. We have a few men who are interested in joining to see what it’s all about. We truly believe that there are many men out there in the world who are hungering for something. They are trying to fill that hunger with other things in life and finding out that they are still hungry at the end of the day. We want to lead these men and ourselves to the living bread, Jesus Christ. As scripture says, “As iron sharpens irons, so one man sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17

So I take the bad with the good and I thank God for the blessings and lessons that he has bestowed upon me this year. I had to take time to sit back and think about what I was going to say and then I remembered; mi viaje – my journey, that is what my blog is about, my life and my journey and how I wanted to share it with the world. Please keep me in your prayers and know that I’m praying for you. Until next time, buen camino.

TRUST

trust-resized

Trust is not something that is handed out on a silver platter, it is something that is earned. Trusting people, especially these days, is getting harder and harder to do. There once was a time where a man’s word was his bond and a handshake is all that it took to seal a deal. Now there are lengthy contracts drawn up by corporate lawyers and professional courtesy is no longer the norm. If we take the time to look at ourselves, I’m sure that most of you, like me, will admit that we aren’t as trustworthy as we think we are. I’m sure there are plenty of times, like myself, where you don’t stick to your word. It is an area that I need to work on again, to stick to my word and mean what I say.

john14 1

Imagine if God was not a man of His word. Thankfully, we don’t have to imagine that. He is and always will be a man of His word. If we take the time to read the bible, we can find multiple verses where we hear about his trust and how we should trust in him. Here are a few examples from the book of Psalms.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act Psalm 37:5

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5

let go let god

Sometimes the hardest person to trust is ourselves. Think about it. How many times have you trusted your “instinct” only to find yourself knee deep in…trouble? I can’t tell you how many times that has happened to me. There are also times when I remember to place my trust in God, lift my prayers to Him, and I am amazed at the results. One of my favorite verses about trust is this one; Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6. It is the perfect example of what not and what to do.

trust-torn

There is a massive lack of trust in the Church today, it has been torn. In my opinion, I feel that it is due to our Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons who have “leaned on their own understanding” instead of on God’s. Speaking for myself, there are many of those men listed above who I’ve lost trust in and it will take time and action for them to regain my trust. I’m sure the same can be said for many of you who have been hurt by someone in the Church. Let us ask God to help us to forgive these individuals, to pray for them to be better shepherds, and to give us the courage to stand up to them and respectfully hold them accountable when they are leading us astray or breaking our trust. And, let us continue to work on ourselves, to be the best version of ourselves, the one that God created us to be. Let us with the grace of God, continue to work on our integrity, sincerity, reliability, consistency, commitment, and competence so that we may regain the trust that others have lost in us.

Buen Camino & God Bless.

When you start to lose your faith

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Coming back to Jesus Christ and His Church was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. I remember the tears of joy, the feeling of an enormous weight being lifted from my shoulders, the weight of sin and doubt; I finally felt free and felt loved

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Over the years after coming back to my faith, I got myself involved in many ministries; I believe I was trying to find a way to make up for the lost time and for not doing what I felt that I should’ve been doing for Christ all along. I got to a point where I overdid it and got involved in too many ministries and became overburdened. Another thing that happened is that I started to notice the people involved in these ministries, and what I noticed was not good. Over pious, self-serving, self-righteous, holier than thou individuals who were in these ministries for all the wrong reasons. All of a sudden there was too much noise, far too many voices of who was right and what was right. I didn’t realize then that I couldn’t hear or see God because of the static and that my attention was elsewhere.

The-Lost-Sheep

As I stated earlier, even I got involved for some wrong reasons, thinking that I owed Christ something for all of my wasted time. I’ve come to learn through time that I didn’t owe Christ anything. I’m sure that he was happy I, the lost black sheep, returned back to him. Remember, he also gave us the gift of free will to do what we want; to turn away from him or to turn back towards him. No matter what is going on in our lives, he is always there. “I will never forsake you or abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5

Wolves-Sheep

During this journey I’ve taken, I have met many people who are not the picture-perfect Catholic/Christian. Honestly, none of us are. What I’m talking about though are those individuals that I mentioned before, and then there are the supposed leaders, those who are supposed to be our shepherds, and currently, they are misleading the flock. Not all of them are bad but there are far too many who are noticeably wrong in their actions and words. When you are informing your parishioners that voting for someone who is pro-abortion is better than voting for an individual who has cheated on three of his wives, there is a serious problem there. When you admit to voting for someone who is openly pro-abortion, you have made yourself a part of their sin and are misleading your flock. When you are doing everything in your power to fast forward the agenda of the LGBTQ and use it to twist the words of Christ, you too are misleading your flock.

trust god

I’ve found myself being angry, disheartened, and depressed about my journey with Christ. Then like a rock falling on my head, (which is usually the way God has to get my attention), I realized that it is not Christ that I’m disappointed with, it is the men who are in leadership positions that are making me feel this way. I’m too focused on them and not focused enough on Christ. I’ve been focused far too much on what they are doing wrong instead of on what Christ has done right. When we place our trust in men, we will be let down for sure.

God is calling

So, once again, I am at the crossroads. Which way will I go? Will I continue to fall for the foolishness of men or will I return to how I was when I first came back, like a child yearning to learn, wanting to serve Christ as best as I can? How will I do this? I really don’t know right now. Will I start another men’s group or will Christ lead me in another direction? Only God knows. One thing that I do know is that I’m tired of being angry, disheartened and depressed about my faith and I refuse to lose it! I will do my best to serve, I will do my best to let my actions speak louder than my words, and I will do my best to spread the joy of Christ with others as often as I can.

I saw this passage today which served as my inspiration for writing this. I hope that it moves you as much as it moved me. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” 1 Corinthians 1:17.

Buen Camino & God Bless

The Obstacles of Forgiveness

Managing-Adversity-100Pedals1

More so than not, I find that the road to forgiveness is a long one for me, filled with many obstacles and hurdles to overcome. When someone does me wrong, and I mean really wrong, it takes some time for me to get over the hurt, the distrust and the circumstances surrounding the reason. I know it’s not healthy for me mentally or spiritually to hold onto the transgressions against me so I’ve taken steps to help me forgive the people who have wronged me so that I may get past the transgressions and onto freedom from them.

baggage

We all have baggage that we carry with us, whether it be from our childhood, adulthood or both, somewhere along our journeys, somebody has caused some form of grief in our lives that we have a hard time letting go of. Some people are able to forgive the people who have done them wrong and move forward, while some of us have a harder time doing so. Holding onto this baggage, these transgressions against us, will take its toll on us, weigh us down, and in time will hinder us more and more unless we get rid of the baggage.

forgiveness

Forgiveness is not a feeling, it is an action. We will always remember the situation that happened and that in itself will create feelings of hurt, pain, anger, etc… from within. When we forgive, it doesn’t mean that we forget, nor does it mean that we have automatically reconciled with the people we have forgiven. We don’t have to return to the same relationship or accept the same bad behaviors from those who have hurt us.

openbible

Even if you are seeking professional counseling like I am, we must turn to God and ask him to help us with forgiveness and turn to scripture to guide us as well. Here are a few scriptures that may help you along your way:

Colossians 3:12-13 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.

Ephesians 4:31-32 All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

Luke 17: 3-4 Be on your guard!* If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.”

Matthew 6:14-15 If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

Until next time, buen camino & God bless.

Time Marches On

Time

So since I last posted, I have made many changes in my life. Some good, some bad (working on the bad ones), ultimately, I’ve been trying to get myself to a place where I am happy…if that makes any sense? Let me elaborate on that a little more.

CHANGES

Changes In My Life

Spiritual

When I decided to leave the diaconate formation, it got me very upset, mostly at a few individuals and at the diocese itself. I feel that my reasons for being upset are justifiable however, my reaction to the situation was wrong. I’ve since corrected my errors and am working towards a more healthier outlook on the situation that transpired.

I also decided to remove myself from any and all church ministries and councils that I was a part of. I know, it seems very erratic and extreme but, hear me out. I came back to the Catholic Church in November of 2012 and right from the get-go I was involved in various ministries within my parish. I had this reckless mentality of all in or all out and I decided that I was all in and I often times took on more than what I should have. In the end, I ended up getting burnt out and dropped out of the ministries only to join another one down the road.

Since coming back to the Church, I never took time to just “go to mass” and just participate in mass that way. Just to sit in the pew and be there, with Jesus, no distractions. This Sunday was my first time getting to experience the mass in a whole new way, without worrying about helping or anything else. This is why I decided to get out of my ministries and such, to live my life with Jesus without distractions for now. And if and when the time comes that He should want me to do something within the Church, I will do so at that time but for now, I will continue in this new way for me.

 

Personal

Last year I gained 30 lbs. Why? Because I didn’t care or watch what I was eating, hence, I got to the heaviest point in my life, 320 lbs. Last Monday I finally decided that enough is enough and I need to take care of myself. I weighed in at 312 lbs. I started to watch what I was eating, keeping my carbohydrate intake to a minimum, stopped drinking diet sodas, and didn’t have a single “sugar” dessert for 6 days (Sunday was cheat day). This morning I weighed in at 308 lbs and I will start going to the gym today to work on my cardio and strength training. I’m not a spring chicken anymore (I’ll be 52 in May) so I better start doing something now before it’s too late.

For peace of mind, I started to go fishing again (it had been 7 years since I’d been) and I have been jamming with a few other guys (drums) and just having fun with it all. Being out in nature helps to calm the mind and places me at peace with God’s creations. Jamming out, on the other hand, helps me with my creativity.

sums it up

Yeah, so that pretty much sums it up for now. I’m going to enjoy these changes that have taken place in my life, embrace them as best as possible and try my hardest to keep living the life that God created me to live. Until next time, buen camino and God bless.

 

End of One Chapter

diaconate

This may come as a surprise to some of you and then again, maybe it won’t but, my journey into the permanent diaconate has come to an end. Based off many variables, my bride and I have decided that this just isn’t the time to continue that journey.

 

wwc fire

This is a good thing for me. I learned a lot about my faith during these past two and a half years and it will help me further along in my new journey of forming another men’s ministry. My passion has always been in men’s ministry; encouraging men to grow closer to God, encouraging them to go back to Church and get involved, and encouraging them to become the leaders, protectors, providers, and priest of their homes.

mark and john

Me, Deacon Lou, and Mark

What I’m going to miss the most though are those interactions with my brother Mark. Know that my prayers are always with you and your family as you continue the journey.

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For all of you who prayed for my family and me during this journey, “Thank You” very much! I ask for your continued prayers as I try to work on the next part of my journey. Until then, keep both eyes on the path and watch out for that chicken. God bless.

 

PS: Stop by and visit www.wwildwestcatholic.com when you get a chance.