Fixing the Problem aka: I’m What!

 

Last week I had a really bad day, I was frustrated and angry at some things that took place over the prior weekend. The short of it, some people said some things that upset me. I was having such an issue with it that I called my deacon adviser to see what he thought. After telling him everything that happened, he did what he’s always done when I talk to him about situations like these, “Why is it bothering you John? It seems to be their issue but you let it bother you.” Now keep in mind, I purposely picked this individual because I knew they would be brutally honest with me and my journey into the permanent diaconate.

angry tony soprano

He then proceeded to tell me that I was not a nice or kind person, that it is just not in my nature, that I’m big and can come across as intimidating. He also said that if that is the way I am, it’s ok because not everyone can be all lovey dubby and huggy. On the outside I was like “OK” but inside my head ha ha ha, I was like WTH! I’m What! It was one of those moments where I just wanted to hit something, kinda like Robert DeNiro in Analyze This.

hit the pillow

He then continued to say, “It’s not in what they are saying or what the situation is John, it is all in the way you react to it. During moments like these you have to ask yourself, would Jesus react like this.” Of course the answer was no. He advised me to read a book called The Four Agreements. He said it helped him quite a bit because he too can be just like me. I think there are many of us who “over react” or “blow a fuse” more times than we would like to admit. So far, there are quite a few points in that book that make sense that I can and will apply to my life.

you

I was still kind of taken back by the statement he made of “You are not a nice or kind person” and that is because although I know I have a rough exterior at times, I am a nice person and I am kind too but, I can be ugly…but can’t we all? Then I thought, “maybe he said that just to shake me up?” Then my bride said, “maybe he said that to bring the conversation back to you instead of them!” Another Analyze This moment came to my head, “You! You! You’re good! Whatever the reason behind it, it worked. It has made me look at myself and the way I react to people and situations. Fast forward to lent which starts tomorrow.

lent

I, like many Catholics out there, will be doing multiple things for lent. There of course are the main 3 things that we should all do, Prayer, Fasting and Alms giving. But I am going to tailor these to my specific situation right now on bettering myself so that I can better serve the people in my life. For now I will share with you one of the prayers that I will be reciting daily to bring me back to earth, to ground myself and help me remember that “John, you aren’t special.” It is the Litany of Humility.

image12

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved…Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others…Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised…Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged …Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected …Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may increase and I may decrease …Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside …Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything…Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I,
 provided that I may become as holy as I should…Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

As always, pray for me and my journey and know that I am praying for you. May God continue to bless you and all that you do for his kingdom. Buen Camino!

Slow Down

In the military we were taught to eat our food without tasting it. “Hurry up and inhale that chow! Don’t chew!” That is kind of what Advent has turned into as well. We are in such a rush that we don’t get to savor the true meaning of the season. Society starts pushing Christmas on us in July (Christmas in July) and then goes full force in October and they completely and purposely leave out Advent.

Advent is a time of waiting, prayerful anticipation for the coming of Jesus Christ. We should take our time, slow down, enjoy the journey and savor each moment of Advent.

As we await the birth of Our King Jesus Christ, let us contemplate on how we arrived at this moment. Did we do so prayerfully? Were we slothful on our journey? Did we give into the will of society and bypass Advent all together?

For the remainder of the Christmas season, let us slow things down, rejoice the birth of Christ Our Savior, and prayerfully journey with him! Merry Christmas and may God continue to bless you and all that you do for His Kingdom.

It’s A Battle Out There Men. Fight!

 

maxresdefault

Real Christian men pick up their sword and their shield and go into battle daily. As a man of God, stepping outside your door is going into battle. Take a look at what society has deemed “acceptable” by today’s standards. I remember a time when if you heard the word “bitch” on television, it was scandalous. Now you hear so much more than that with the justification that it is on “cable TV” or that it is during “Prime Time” hours. There was a time when a long kiss on TV was “pushing the limits.” Now, people are having sex during “Prime Time” shows on cable TV. So yes, it’s a battle out there, a spiritual one where Satan is going to bombard you with everything he has in his arsenal.

hqdefault

What is your downfall? Lust, pornography, drugs, alcohol, money, fame and notoriety, whatever it is, Satan knows and he will hurl those temptations at you like grenades. Will you be able to shield them off or will you fall victim to them? Will you stand and fight against them or will you cower like Adam in the Garden of Eden?

il-ristoro-dei-templari

It is time to kneel before the cross of our savior Jesus Christ and answer the call to Christian Manhood. Devote yourself to being that leader, protector, provider, priest, prophet and king that God has called you to be. You are a son of the most high God, an heir to heaven! Isn’t it time that you start acting like it! Isn’t it time that you start carrying yourself like it! When you hear the voice of the Lord say “Whom shall I send?” You should answer just like Isaiah, “Here I am! Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). Go out there and fight!

landscape

And when your daily battle has ended, and you come home bloodied, bruised and tired, give thanks to God for getting you through this day. Wash yourself in prayer and spiritual reading and ponder on the things that you did right and wrong this day and make a vow to God that you will go out and do better tomorrow. Protect yourself, protect your family, protect the innocent so at the end of your war, you too will hear those words that we all long to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

What Does It Take To Be A Man?

2 emasculation

If you haven’t noticed by now then you must be hiding under a rock or are turning a blind eye to the situation at hand….the emasculation of men. Everyone has their own opinion as to how and when it started but quite frankly, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is how to put an end to this nonsense and have men start being men again. I know what some of you are thinking, “Ok, John is about to go on a rant about feminism and how women have taken over, etc… and you couldn’t be further from the truth. This post is aimed at the core of the problem…men!

2 adam

Seriously men, think about it. We’ve allowed this to happen to us. Now part of it is our fault and part of it is that we were set up for failure right from the start. Case in point: Remember when the serpent came into the Garden of Eden and tempted Eve with the apple and out of nowhere Adam came in with this huge boulder and smashed the serpent, killing it dead right on the spot? Yeah, I don’t remember it that way either. Truth is that Adam stood by and watched the whole thing happen without saying or doing anything to the serpent. It is what I refer to as the “Adam moment.”

2 relationship God

How many “Adam moments” have you had in your life? If you are like me, I bet you’ve had a few. But don’t fret, there is a solution. What is that solution you ask? Well it goes back to the first question that I posed in the title. What does it take to be a man? It takes God. We are nothing without God! Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” That was the call from God to Jeremiah but it is also a call from God to us. There are so many messages from God to us if we just take the time to read his love letter to us, the Holy Bible. There are other ways that God calls out to us but we have to be quiet and alert but most importantly, we need to have a relationship with God. A relationship is only as strong as the time, effort and commitment that is put into it. Men need to build a relationship with God.

2 think

I’m going to leave you with a few things to think and pray about.

2 scourged

Check your ego and attitude at the door – I don’t care how big and bad you might think you are, you are no Jesus. Jesus Christ, the epitome of masculinity, the main role model a man should strive to be. John 19:1 “Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.” I don’t care how many battles you have been through in life, you will never be as tough as Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:31 “whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” This verse right here men is the attitude that we should carry with us every day! Allow that verse to permeate into your soul and then go out and live it!

2 godly man

Be a man – Before King David died, the first instruction to his son was: 1 Kings 2:2 “Be strong and be a man!” As I said before, I’m sure many of us have had a few “Adam moments” in our lives and this is how we can avoid them, by being strong and being a man. A Godly man will stand up for and defend what is right in the eyes of God. Here are a few examples. When you are “out with the guys” and they start talking about their past conquests with women, be strong and be a man, walk away or better yet, let them know that what they are doing is degrading to women and detrimental to their own souls. When a male friend texts you a picture of a nude woman, be strong and be a man. Delete that text right away and let that man know that you do not approve of his actions and if you want to send more of a message, attach a photo of Our Blessed Mother with a copy of the Act of Contrition for them to say.

2 confession

Go to confession – The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year” (CCC 1457) If you think that you can get away with going to confession once a year, you are sadly mistaken. That is like playing Russian roulette with 5 bullets in the chamber. James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another.” Without getting into the Theology of this verse (That is for another day), the apostles (by todays accounts) were the ordained of their time and could therefore confess their sins to each other. In other words, get to your local Church and confess your sins to the priest who is In Persona Cristi at that moment. Humble yourself before the Lord. Do not be afraid to go, the priest is there to help and guide you. If it has been a long time since you’ve been to confession, then make an appointment to see your priest and he will take the time that you need and help you get through it to make a good confession.

2 pizza #1 dad

Build each other up – Look at the world today and how it views men. All you have to do is look at commercials on TV. We are told that we are too old, too fat, impotent, lazy and that we can’t even order a pizza.

2 encouragement

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up.” There is no room in this world for knocking each other down. We should be praying for each other and encouraging each other as the verse says. You don’t kick a man when he is down! Lift him up, even if he is your enemy, lift him up, dust him off and allow him to see Jesus through you. Remember, Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

2 jealousy

Push aside jealousy and envy – I don’t know when this all came about but all of a sudden it seems like men are more concerned about what they don’t have instead of being thankful for what they do have and if you have more than them, they have no problem letting you know by making snide remarks. Exodus 20:16-17 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” When you are focused on what others have you are not giving thanks for what God has provided you with. Instead of making insulting jealous or envious remarks, give that person praise instead. A simple “God has truly blessed you my friend. You deserve it” goes a lot farther than “Oh a new car! Must be nice to have a new car all the time!”

2 complain.png

Lastly, Stop complaining and give thanksPhilippians 2:14 “Do everything without grumbling or questioning.” Everybody is guilty of this one to one extent or another. It’s hard not to complain, look at the state of the world right? Yes, the state of the world can be bleak at times, sometimes more often than not but, we need to hold ourselves up as men and be that leader that our families are looking for. If our children hear us complain, guaranteed they will do the same. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” As much as there is bad in the world, there is equally if not more good in the world, we just need to take our blinders off so that we can see it. All good comes from God right? Then go out there, search out the good in the world and tell everyone about it.

buen camino

These are just a few things to get you started on the path to becoming the man that God has created you to be. I’m sure that if you sit down and think about it, you can probably come up with a few others as well. May God continue to bless you in your journey. Buen Camino.

Lost In Translation

1 wedding guest

There is a parable in the bible that I love and hate and that is the parable of the Wedding Feast from Matthew 22:1-14. The reason that I love it, is the message that it conveys about salvation and our choice in it. The reason that I hate it, priests use it as an opportunity to talk about “dress code” in their Church.

Last Sunday we heard this gospel and as I sat there in my chair listening to the homily, praying that this would be a different one that would stick to the readings of the day, I was sadly disappointed again. The priest started off well but went right into “dress code.” I don’t mind if a priest wants to push his personal agenda on his congregation but, do it afterwards or at another time, don’t use the gospel to relay a personal message or a pet peeve that you have otherwise the message of the gospel gets lost in translation.

1 God-Or-My-Agenda

If there is one thing that I’ve learned so far in my diaconate journey it is not to push a personal agenda. We haven’t formally begun to study homiletics yet but with the little bit that we are being introduced to, we have been instructed on what will make or break a good homily or reflection.

One of the previous priests from my last parish assumed just because I was a small business owner, I could afford to buy a suit or come dressed to Church in a suit. Most people that know me know that I dress simple. I like jeans and t-shirts and cowboy boots. For Mass though, I have a brand new pair of Wranglers that are pressed and used only for Mass and I were a nice western style button up shirt, shined cowboy boots but no tie. In the summer, it’s more of a clean pair of jeans or Dockers and a Hawaiian style shirt. I dress what I would consider, appropriately.

1901_Sartorial_Arts_Journal_Fashion_Plate_Mens_Golfing_Clothes-739x1024.png

Let’s be honest, do you really think that if Jesus Christ came down at that moment that he would kick me out of the Church because I could “afford” to dress up dressier? Do you think he’d toss everyone out that was dressed in jeans and t-shirts? I seriously don’t think that he would. Now is that to say that I’ve never worn a suit to Church? Of course I have but, it was during a time that I felt was appropriate for the attire, a special Mass, a special event in Church, etc… but I would never push that on anyone. I think Jesus is more concerned about people coming to Mass than he is with what they are wearing.

1 words

This is part of the “poor catechizing” that I talk about, especially in the area where I live. I’m not sure how it is where you live but where I’m from, in my opinion, our local area has been poorly catechized for a few decades in most, if not all of the parishes here. As priest, deacons and soon to be deacons, we have a responsibility not only to our parish and our diocese but primarily to God that we will go out and profess His message and not ours. Save your pet peeves and personal agendas for another time or do as our Blessed Mother Mary did and hold them silently in your hearts and pray on them. Or you can continue to preach from the gospel of Father/Deacon (fill in the blank) and continue to wonder why parishioners are leaving your parish or the Catholic Church. Stick to the script and let God take care of the rest.

Hope For A Hopeless Nation

 

635880637121482751123296126_lovehate

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how much we have been trained to hate and despise each other? Some might say that I am crazy and that it is only a select few who hate each other but I beg to differ. Can you honestly say that there is nobody, no group of individuals, no organization, no politician, etc… that you hate or despise? If you are honest with yourself, I’m sure your answer will be no, there is somebody or something that you hate or despise.

Brittney Cain-Conley

Hate is nothing new, it has been there from the beginning. Satan hated God so much that he would do anything do destroy what God created as he did with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). When hate goes unchecked it can turn into envy which can lead to death as in the story of Cain and Able (Genesis 4). Was this the case with the young man who plowed into a group of protesters in Charlottesville Virginia killing a young lady in the process? We knew he hated or despised the protesters that he plowed into or he wouldn’t have done so. Did he have some sort of distorted view of these individuals? Maybe he thought that they had more than him due to their ethnicity? Maybe he thought they were just a bunch of liberals who needed to be taught a lesson? I’m sure in the days to come there may be some answers but in the meantime, there is the life of a young lady that has been lost and the countless lives of family members, friends and a nation who mourn for her.

love-one-another-660x330

Are we that far gone as a nation now that all we see is color, political parties and ethnicity that we can’t move forward? No! There is hope and that hope is found in Jesus Christ. Is it really that hard for you to put aside your differences of opinion and say “I love you?” Jesus Christ didn’t ask us to love each other, he commanded that we love each other. John 13:34 – I give you a new commandment:  love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. Love! There are so many instances of it in the bible yet so few Christians show it. How can you consider yourself to be Christian if you do not love? Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect,* just as your heavenly Father is perfect. Pray for your enemies!

 

3443a0f6ee0dcf43bb1616a706a28d2e

 

If we want change, true change in this sinful world, then we must be that change. Nobody is born with prejudices, it is something we learn. We must come together not only as Americans but as children of God for that is who we are.

love-one-another

 

So today, go out and find someone who you’ve had a disagreement with, politically, personally or whatever the reason and tell them that you love them. Ignore the main stream media who in my opinion, feeds the masses the food of hate and lies and biases as they continue to pit us against each other. Love overcomes hate. We’ve seen it on the cross when Jesus Christ died for us…Love overcame hate. Will you do your part to overcome hate?

May God continue to bless you and all that you do for His Kingdom. Take Care.

 

 

 

Me? Why Me?

 

unnamed

All of us are on a journey of some sort. Some people know what that journey is and some people don’t have a clue but, they go with the flow. Which category do you fall into?

If you are on a spiritual journey, then there is no doubt that God is leading you where he needs you but, you must be open to what it is He wants from you and you must be ready to reply “Here I am Lord” when He calls. Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am” I said; “Send me!”

34931_He_has_chosen_you

Whether you know it or not, you have been chosen by God and you have been called by His Son Jesus Christ to go out and make disciples of all. Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” But there is something else that God gave you and that is “free will.” It is completely up to you if you choose to hear and answer Him.

Website_Banner_VineAndBranches

You might be asking yourself, “why me?” Why you? Because you were made for this. That was Gods plan all along and He sent His Son to prepare you for this. Just as in the story of The Vine and the Branches, Jesus has been pruning you, getting rid of the junk so that you can go out and bear good fruit. John 15:16 It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.

lion

So go out, be strong and have courage because God is with you, Jesus is with you and they are counting on you to go out and be that living example for others, to be that light shining in a dark world, to be a disciple. Joshua 1:9 Be strong and steadfast! Do not fear or be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.

May God continue to bless you and all that you do for His Kingdom! Viva Cristo Rey!