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.”

 

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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.

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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.

Evangelize From Anywhere

Some people have a problem with Disney and anything associated with them. To each their own. I’m not a huge fan but my family is and I enjoy seeing them happy considering how I failed to do so in the early years of being a husband and father and I didn’t make them happy then but that’s another story for another time.

People have their reasons for their dislike of Disney and some use their religion to push their agenda on others; “They support same sex marriage,” or “They support Planned Parenthood.” If those are your main reasons for not supporting a company, better do your homework Jack! There are many companies who do the same thing and unless you are living off the grid, you should re-evaluate your argument or learn what it means to be a Christian.

Christians should be able to evangelize from anywhere under any circumstances. What you do says more than what you say, you know the old cliché; “actions speak louder than words.”

While on our family break here at Disneyland, every time I saw a young couple (male & female) attempting to take a selfie while trying to capture the background, I stepped up and offered to take the picture. Each time the couples were ecstatic that I offered and were pleased with the photo(s). When I handed the phone back back I said the same thing, “have an awesome day and God bless you.” Simple right?

My bride and I walked around holding hands and by our actions, we showed our love for each other and what true Christian matrimony is all about. Simple, easy and fun to do.

So, whether you’re at Disneyland or out on the streets, profess your love of God. Bless others, express generosity, and be the person God made you to be.

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