The Obstacles of Forgiveness

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

Noise

When was the last time you lived? Sounds crazy because you are alive right now if you are reading this right? But what I’m talking about is living your life, when was the last time?

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We have so much noise in this world, the noise that keeps us away from experiencing and living our lives to the fullest potential that God created us to live it. Most of the noise is not audible noise at all but just distractions that keep us from living our lives and from listening to God. Our phones, computers, tablets, etc… God forbid we don’t see what’s happening on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other social media platforms. What about the noise inside our heads? We are a people of worry, doubt, skepticism, just to name a few. We go about our day planning the next step, the next project, the next hour, minute and second.

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Instead of picking up our phones to check social media, instead of worrying about what’s in store for today, we should be picking up our bibles and reflecting on what it is God wants to tell us. “The human heart plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.” Proverbs 16:9

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Allow God to direct your steps, he knows exactly where he needs you. Trust in his will to be done instead of yours. Yes, go through your day but know and trust in God that he is in control. Also, take time to put social media aside and look and listen to what’s going on around you. What are you seeing? What are you hearing? Is it a mountain full of trees where you hear the wind blowing through the branches or is it the sound of the city waking up and coming to life?

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When you get a chance today, set aside all distractions and spend some time looking at your surroundings. Take some time to listen to all the sounds that are around you. And, take some time to just sit there with God, don’t say anything, just sit there and be with him.

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Enjoy the journey and may God continue to bless you and all that you do for his kingdom.

Negative Influences

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This is the day. This is the day that I say “NO” to negativity! This is the day that I stop falling for the nonsense that enters into my life. This is the day that I stand by Jesus Christ and ask him to help me be a better man.

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This journey with Christ has not been an easy one but then again, nobody ever said it would be. As a matter of fact, some of the most influential people that I have met so far in my journey with Christ have told me how hard it is and how much harder it will get for me. One of my earlier spiritual directors told me, “The closer you get to God, the harder Satan will try to trip you up.” Some days the devil can’t trip me up for nothing, and others days, it’s not even a challenge for him. So what is a person to do?

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Ugh. There he goes again

There are some people in my life who I dearly love but at times, they can be a negative influence on me. I fall into their trap and end up acting the fool. I know the problems that have been plaguing me lately. Listening to gossip or doing it myself, feeding into negative actions such as cursing and being inconsiderate towards others feelings or being spurned onto these actions by friends and family. It’s as though I can hear my guardian angel say, “Hey look out there’s a ….. never mind, too late” and I fall again. This is the day that it ends. As my bride likes to say, “one can not walk with the Lord while holding hands with the devil.”

 

sin kills

Sin kills. When we give into what the devil is feeding us, we die. Sin kills, plain and simple. Have you ever payed attention to your sinful patterns? One little venial sin here, another one there, and another and another and another until there is this big pile of venial sins. When there is no more room for venial sins we end up giving into mortal sins, sins that separate us from or push us away from Christ. The more we give into venial sin, the easier it is to fall into the trap of mortal sin. Sin is the thing that keeps me away from the peace, the peace of Christ that I am looking for. That quiet, peace. Only through the grace of God will I be able to turn over a new leaf. And although I have calmed down quite a bit compared to my old self, that “old self” likes to try and sneak in from time to time to cause havoc.

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I want that peace of Christ and I want it now. In a world full of noise, sometimes noise that I create myself, I want peace. I’m tired of the negativity. It’s like carrying a heavy load and I don’t want to carry it any longer. So, to my family & friends who are having issues in their lives, I’m sorry you are going through what you are going through and I pray that you get through it soon, but your negativity is not helping me so I will take a step back, I will pray for you, and I will be there when you need to talk. If I want to find peace in myself, I need to look for it through and with Christ. You are always welcomed to join us.

 

 

 

 

One Size Does Not Fit All

 

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One Size Does Not Fit All

One of my favorite experiences along my journey with Christ so far has been attending a men’s retreat. The funny part of it all is that “retreats” are also a pet peeve of mine when it comes to our Catholic Faith. Let me explain why.

My first men’s retreat was Into the Wild, a retreat put on by The King’s Men (TKM); a Catholic men’s lay apostolate created in PA. I absolutely loved it! It was rough, manly, and rugged. It was Christ centered and it revolved around male spirituality and the lack of it in the Church today. When the time came that Into the Wild would be holding a retreat near my neck of the woods, I invited a few men from our local TKM group to attend. I showed them the video explaining what Into the Wild was and they said yes.

When it was all said and done, a couple of the men who had been to other retreats before didn’t care for Into the Wild and a few who had never been to a retreat loved it.  When I asked the men who didn’t enjoy why they didn’t enjoy, they told me why and I said, “Cool. I understand” and I thanked them for joining me during that weekend.

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I’ve been approached to attend other retreats and when I respectfully decline, I am looked upon as though I am lacking in spirituality and in some cases, I have even been told that, just because I declined to attend. I can appreciate the zeal that these individuals have for the retreat that they are trying to promote but to demean a person because they don’t want to attend is not Christian at all.

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Retreats are a great tool that we can use in our walk with Christ but they are by no means the “be all end all” of a Catholics spiritual life. They are a tool and should be used just as that, kind of like a walking stick.

A walking stick can help lift you up when you fall, it can help you to keep your balance, it can help you climb those hard paths, and it can be used to rest on when you need a break.

walking stick

When it comes to retreats, one size does not fit all and if you are involved in planning or running retreats, here are a few things to remember:

  • Retreats aren’t for everyone. Just because a person doesn’t want to attend a retreat does not mean they are lacking in their spirituality.
  • Don’t Be A PUSHER! It is great to be excited about your retreat but don’t push it on people. Invite them and be ready to answer questions they may have about the retreat.
  • Don’t be secretive. There are a few retreats who would rather not tell you what goes on at their retreat and will use terms like “you have to live it” or “I can’t tell you about it.” You can sell a product easier when you are able to list all the highlights about it. The more questions you answer the better the chance that someone will take interest in attending.
  • Be helpful and attentive to the needs of the individual during the retreat. Be observant of what is going on with each individual and if they need time away for reflection or a break from activities, don’t force them to adhere to the schedule. They are on a spiritual retreat that works on Gods time, not yours.

So the next time you are asked to go on a retreat or you are the person doing the asking, I pray that it is a positive experience.

A Time For Healing. A Time For Action.

Yesterday my fellow brother candidates and I were installed in the Ministry of the Lectorate. It was another great day and another accomplishment on our journey towards the Holy Order of Deacon.

As we sat and listened to a Bishop Cantú’s homily, he reminded us that we are to go out and “profess the word of God” and how we need to do so, not only by words but through our actions. Our lives should reflect the word of God in everything we say and do, in every aspect of our lives, at home, at work and in our communities. This isn’t just a good reminder for us deacon candidates but for everyone especially during this dark time of the Church.

This is a time where we need to step up and lead the Church back into the light, to encourage others not to despair and to be that light of Christ for others to see the path that leads back to Jesus Christ and His Church. This is not a time to sit back and ignore what happened, nor is it a time to remain in despair because of the horrific actions that happened at the hands of a few. I am not diminishing the events that took place. Even if it was one person who committed these acts, that is one too many. It is time to start the healing process.

Let us pray for those who were victimized, that God will heal them. Let us pray for those who committed these atrocities, that they will ask for forgiveness and atone for their sins. And finally, let us pray for our Church, that during these dark times people will turn to Jesus and his Church instead of turning away because of what the world says. The voice of a God speaks louder than the voice of man.