Two Years Down

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Two years down, two years to go. My journey towards becoming a permanent deacon has been…well, a journey. There have been highs and lows but the journey has been awesome so far.

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There’s an old saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I really wish I remembered that one before I started the diaconate formation program LOL. I had already started to plot out what I was going to do if and when I became ordained a deacon. I’m laughing about it now because two years into the program, I don’t have a single plan and I’m going to leave it all in the hands of God…just like I should have all along.

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Obedience & being a servant have been the keys all along. Being obedient to the changes that you need to go through, obedient and a servant to your priest, your wife, your family and others.

Some of the best words of advice in regards to diaconate formation came from my deacon adviser, he said, “Be like clay.” I try my hardest everyday to do just that. Everyday I learn something new about my faith and quite often, about myself. Today is a great day…it’s a great day to be a Christian! Buen Camino everyone & God bless.

2018: The Year of Lost Friends

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Any other day, I would be here at work with some music playing and going through my normal everyday routine but, today is different. It’s so quiet, you could literally hear a pin drop.

Yesterday my bride and I found out that a friend of ours passed away. This was all due to a freak accident. So yesterday we were in shock and today is no different. There is no making sense of this whole thing, this I know, but it doesn’t make it any easier knowing that.

I’ve lost two dear friends this year and the year is half way over. I’ve seen many people on social media say things like “I’m done with 2018” and messages that are more derogatory than that. It just seems that 2018 has not been a good year for some people and I get it. I usually don’t place any emphasis on a year, month, date, etc… based off of emotions or life events but I get why people do.

Keep this in mind people, we are only on this earth for a very short time. Even if we live to be 100 years old, it is minuscule compared to eternity. I for one believe in heaven and hell and I believe that what we do, what we say, how we live our lives to serve God will determine where we spend eternity. I truly believe that my friends are with God and I for one want to do what I need to so that when my time comes, I will be able to see them and my family members who have gone before them.

I know that God had his reason for taking her, the human part of me is angry because of it but I trust God and I know that all things are done for His greater glory and our friend believed that too. Her faith is what got her through life and I’m sure that she has heard God say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the kingdom.”

Life is precious, life is too short to hold onto resentment, anger, jealousy, etc… Jesus Christ gave us one commandment and that was to “Love each other as I have loved you” John 15:12. Love one another, forgive one another and pray for one another.

Rest In Peace, My Dear Freind

Evangelize: But be yourself

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Upon my return back to the Catholic Church, I came across an abundance of Catholic Evangelist that heavily influenced me during that time. Names like Joe McClane, Scott Hahn, Jesse Romero, Bear Woznick, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Fr. Larry Richards, Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers and many more. Their words, their charisma, their message, the whole package of what they had to offer inspired me and motivated me to do the same thing…go out an evangelize.

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The problem with that though is I was going out and trying to sound like them. My thought process was “If what they say has such an impact on me, I can say the same things they are saying to others and impact them!” WRONG! This is a cardinal mistake made by a person who is so full of zeal and so fresh into the Catholic Church or returning to the Church. That was me at the time. I should’ve been recommending people to listen to their message instead of trying to be a poor clone of them.

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Funny thing is that I see others doing the same thing. STOP! That’s not you. You are not Joe McClane, you are not Scott Hahn and you sure aren’t Jesse Romero. Just be you.

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I’ve since learned just to evangelize and to do it as John. That is who God made me to be…John. Not Father Larry or Deacon Harold, just John. And you know what? Evangelizing as just John is alright because that was God’s plan all along.

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Remembering to do His will instead of ours places the focus back on where it needs to be, the message of God and not the messenger. If we are truly to evangelize then we must realize that it isn’t about us…it’s about Him and His message. We are just the tools that He uses to get that message out to the people we encounter.

 

May God continue to bless you and all that you do for His Kingdom! Buen Camino.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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?

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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!

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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.”

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!”

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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.

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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.