Saturday, October 10, 2009

He met Jesus in Jail

Imagine being away from your family at the age of 16 for a crime against the ones you love. Imagine being in juvenile jail with no contact with the outside world or your family for days, weeks, even months. Imagine sleeping on a metal bed sheet and having it to call it your bed. Byron, jake, and keshawn take me through their stores.

I was nervous my first day volunteering at the juvenile prison not because of the kids who might be there (I practically grew up with friends who went to prison) but because the Holy Spirit was using me to bring the message of Christ into a place where most people would dread to go. Now, however you feel about teens being in prison or “DO THE CRIME DO THE TIME” theory, it doesn’t change the fact that we as Catholic Christians should recall Matthew 25:36, "I was in prison and you came to visit me"… It doesn’t change the fact that we as Catholic Christians have a corporal works of mercy obligation to fulfill. It doesn’t change the fact that we as Catholic Christians are the light of the world and are called to bring hope to people’s lives. I decided to take on this challenge.

Every Sunday after Mass, I head over to the Indiana Juvenile Correctional Facility and wait for whoever is interested in talking about faith. Being the urban teens that they are, some take it as a joke or some don’t really care. We start off with a prayer and read the Roman Catholic Lectionary for Sundays Liturgy. They still chuckle away and get distracted of the other inmates throwing them signs and laughing at them for going to a bible study. I switch the gears of the group and look them in the eyes and say,” just because you had a hard life doesn’t make you better than me, I am just like you, I have sinned and now I need a savior.”….. “Let’s cut the mushy stuff, let me hear your story.”… So they begin… Possession of an armed weapon, running away, smoking marijuana, divorced parents, fighting in school, gang affiliations, holding their best friends life in their hands as they watch him die from a shot to the head…. They tell me with tear filled eyes,” all I want is for God to love me and forgive me”… After we talk about how merciful our God truly is and how much he loves them, they sense a little peace.

So what’s the difference between me (you) and them?......NOTHING! Every time we sin, we cuff our hearts close, we close that cell to our mind and we sleep on spiritual metal bed sheet and all we yearn for is the *key* savior. All we yearn for is peace and freedom in the heart of Christ. I’ve realized in this world there are many people who have eyes that cannot see and it will be the darkness that leads them to the light. I saw my own captivity through the stories of these juveniles but I also experienced my freedom in Jesus through these kids. Praise be to God, that he continues to reveal Himself through the daily experiences.

PS I am no way trying to promote releasing Juveniles into society without proper disciplinary actions for their consequences. However, I am trying to challenge you to be more aware of Jesus in your daily life.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My heart is ready....

WOW, so it’s been about month since I have left Phoenix, AZ and arrived at Notre Dame, IN. What a wonderful place. I would have never thought that I would see leaves changing or REAL lakes. I have a lake in my front yard it is awesome. All of these natural wonders-Who am I, that God would humble himself to be my friend? Not only is the natural environment different but the people are different. I must say, I am the only ghetto person at Notre Dame. I am the only one at Notre Dame who walks with swaggg..

I am so excited to see what God has planned for me this year. “Lord, I am ready.”.. To be ready for God’s plan, one must be ready to let GO and let God. One must learn how to sacrifice things in their lives that can be holding them down. I feel as if I’ve got rid of all little distractions in my life-whether it is personal impediments or people(so call friends) that would just bring me down. My heart is ready to serve…

I have Morning Prayer and adoration everyday from 720-8, then I have classes (major in Catholic Theology), I go to mass everyday followed by night prayer. A month in, I ask myself how could I ever go a day in my life without these gifts from God? It’s through these times of prayer and worship that God saturates my heart with His love.
I currently serve at The Catholic Worker every Saturday morn feeding the homeless. Mother Theresa once said,” Each one of them is Jesus in disguise” It is so true. I try to challenge myself to see Jesus in the poor, I love to be amongst the people-to chat and eat with them and hear their stories of struggles. I also, volunteer at the Indiana Juvenile Center. This experience has been my most fulfilling because I see myself and my friends in a lot of these kids that I deal with. All they want is to be loved by someone. It is so sad to see how many kids go through life feeling unwanted or unloved. I love All of these people because they walk like us, talk like us, scrap against the wall and fought like us…We should treat them like they are one of us.

Pray for me… until next time hallelujah hollaback.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Defend Life....

Love to be real, must cost, must hurt. It must empty us of self. Hungry for love, he looks at you. Thirsty for kindness, he begs of you. Naked for loyalty, he hopes in you. Homeless for shelter in your heart, he asks of you. Will you be that one to Him?

I walk down the pot hole, muddy street corners of Nicaragua. As I look across the street with my brother, we find 2 homeless brothers flagging us down as to get our attention. We approach the two brothers, and they greet us with a smi
le and laughter.I look over the youngest ones shoulder, (here in the pic, the one on the left with the sweet JO JO curls) and he looks over to his Mother, and his Mother looked like a walking skeleton. Her face was dirty, she was barefoot, she lived in a hut, she obviously did not have any money. She paused and looked dead into my eyes........ and smiled.

Why did she have these kids? they are poor, prob. without a father, impoverished, dirty, their life doesn't mean anything..... With the high rape crimes in NIcaragua she was prob. raped,They are going to live here forever and they will never get out. They will never be someone or contribute to this world. She should have aborted these kids. Why didn't she?

Hmmm maybe the same reason why Mary did not abort Jesus. Mary knew she wasn't going to have the fanciest camel in Bethlehem, or not the nicest manger. The same reason this mother knew she was destined for a lifetime of poverty. But they put their selfishness aside and knew that Life is up to the hands of the Creator. That life is the most precious gift from God. Trust me, i know all the opposing argu
ments and i can answer the pro-life positions with ease, but it comes down to Life and the Potential.

You see, it wasnt a mistake that those poor brothers encountered me and my brother. God was sending a message to both of us, that we are precious and honored, in his eyes and he loves u
s Is 40:3.How did God talk to us? through the smile and laughter of this poor family...

Here in America over 4,000 babies are slaughtered in their mothers womb, they never get that chance to smile and make others laugh. Having encountered many teens and kids in my ministry, i have been able to see the beauty in every single one of them, yes including my lil sis holding a fake baby in this picture(crystal). I have been able to see the extraordinary love that God has for them. The gift of Life. That is why we have to stand up for our brothers and sisters being murdered daily. We may
never know, that brother could have been my brother or sister who is giving the smile, better yet receiving the smile.

Well those two poor brothers turned to me and with a smile from Jesus, clutched their fist and embraced it with my
fist. Jesus looking at me and saying," Good Job you recognized me".

My Last Talk at Youth Group....

The Last Lesson This was my last lesson at Youth Group and the message is simple, the only thing we need is, To Know, Love and Serve God.

Well Youth Group has come to an end and it was a Beautiful Struggle

"If you are what you should be, then you will set the world on fire."
- St. Catherine of Siena

7 Long years in the Youth Group Ministry at St. John Vianney and it has finally come to an end. If i can sum up this remarkable experience it would be "WHOA". These past 7 years of my life have been the most precious and life altering. I have to admit, Jesus ruined my life. He ruined my life so much he left a scar of God's love in my heart. I have been privileged to work with some amazing young people, who are striving for a better and closer relationship with the Lord. I could not even fathom to count the day to day blessings I encountered with these amazing people.

As for myself, being a leader has opened up my eyes to experience the Youth of this society in a new light. In the midst of losing my self in this service of others, i was able to find myself in the midst of the teens. I would lose myself in the service of the poor, the homeless, the forgotten, the empty, the anorexic, the abused child, the kid who lost his mother, the teen who got pregnant, the son who has to watch his father beat his mother, the daughter who just wants her mother to get off drugs and alcohol, and the worst of all, the unloved. You see by being in the midst of the struggle, I had to join the struggle. By joining the struggle, I joined Jesus on the Cross. It was being crucified that meant, first i was facing one direction, second i am not going back and third i have no further plans of my own.

Its simple, i would have never experienced the true meaning of joy if i did not join people in their struggles. Besides, a life of J.O.Y is JESUS FIRST, OTHERS SECOND AND YOURSELF THIRD. It was in the struggles that i was able to touch the wounds of Jesus and become a believer. In conclusion, I would like to thank all the teens i have met throughout these 7 years of my life and thank you for showing me the way to the Cross. I would also like to thank my fellow leaders for keeping me on my feet and joining me in my struggles. It was in the midst of all this that I found Jesus, our Eucharistic Love. Please pray for me and my commitment to God, because the devil knows, if he can get the Shepard he can get the sheep, if he can get the leaders, he can get the followers.