Saturday, June 19, 2010

El cuerpo de Christo.

Eating your body, drinking your blood, WE BECOME WHAT WE RECEIVE...

O sweet mother! font of love,
touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ, my Lord.

So this is Boston huh?

This morning, six of us headed towards Boston, one of the oldest cities in the United States. If you know me then you know how much I hate driving, so of course the girls gave me the keys to drive to the city. Boston's freeway system is insane. It was clearly designed by a person who had spent his childhood crashing toy trains.

As soon as we made it to Boston, you know we had to get something to eat, so Spikes it was, known for its “Junkyard Dogs”. And boy did it live up to its name.

Best Hot Dogs ever... Okay back to the city. We made our way across the Charles Basin River.

It was truly a refreshing sight. After spending several years in AZ, any body of water is truly a blessing. We continued on with our Boston tour and made our ways through several streets, and tall buildings kinda looked like New York City.

but the people were much nicer, a bit too nice. We then made our way to Boston Harbor, where Kevin, Emily and I posed for a picture..

We then we to Faneuil Hall, which is like a big market place. Basically for us on the Westside, the swap mart, but not as hood.

We were also entertained by a street performer who juggled swords, all while spinning a blade from his mouth?

We concluded our day by passing by Boston Gardens... Sorry Boston but I'm from the West- GO Kobe!

Overall not to impressed. Once you see one big city, they all start to look the same. However, I am grateful for this opportunity to experience a new city. Next week I will be returning to the Rotten Apple- Brooklyn, Harlem and Staten Island:)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oh the places we’ll go….Lawrence, Massachusetts.

"I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet. You, then, should wash one another's feet. I have set an example for you so that you will do just what I have done for you."
- John 13: 12-15

I arrived in Boston International Airport at 10:37 pm. As I was walking to the baggage claim I was to look for a man with a Notre Dame hat. As I was looking around; I saw many different backgrounds, specifically, a lot of Hispanics. Home did not seem so far away anymore. Suddenly, I was greeted by a Caucasian family, Mr. Gorrie and three little girls. Two girls belong to Mr. Gorrie and one of the girls belonged to Bob Troiano (the house where I will be staying). I knew at that moment, I will be once again entering into another “world”. After making our way through back roads…

We finally arrived to Mr. Troiano's in Andover, Massachusetts.I had no clue that the neighborhood in which I would be living in would be far off from the city and into the woods.

As I looked down to check my phone, I noticed there was something that I have always dreaded, “No Service”, you have to keep in mind I have had my phone next to me since I was in 8th grade. So I was rather upset and regretted every moment being here, but after gathering my thoughts and disappointments in prayer, I was reassured that God was taking my phone away for a reason. It’s not like my service is totally neglected because I do receive service in the city but I do not receive service in the home I will be staying.

I also had the privilege of getting to know my math whiz roommate Kevin. Kevin is from San Antonio, Texas and is a junior and will be majoring in Math and Theology. Also I had the privilege to know Perrin the son of Mr. Trioiano who has Cerebral Palsy and soon realized that my patience will be tested dearly. The Images of God.

I travel every morning to Lawrence, Massachusetts , which is considered the 22nd poorest city in the country. Matter of fact, in 2007, only 47% of the students graduated from High School.

Lawrence is made up of Dominicans and Puerto Ricans immigrants who are desperately looking for work, food and a place to stay. I spend half of my day working at Lazarus House which is a shelter that has 31 emergency beds for families who are looking for homes. They are provided with three meals, a place to sleep, showers and laundry services, as well as counseling and referrals for community support.

Also I work side by side with the Franciscans of the Primitive Observance, at a thrift store or the food pantry which supplies emergency food for as many as 300-500 families each week. Every Wednesday afternoon men, women and children line up outside the front gate of Lazarus House to receive enough food to last them up to four days.

But wait what are so special about these Franciscans? They are one of the strictest religious orders in the Catholic Church. For example, they wear a rough wool habit and live in simple wooden cells with only a desk and table. Heat is provided by coal and wood fired stoves. They are serious about obedience (you need to ask permission to use the bathroom when outside the monastery) and contemplation. They own no radios, televisions or other worldly possessions. Meat, sweetsand snack foods are not in their diets. They sleep on the floor and rise in the middle of night to pray at 2am. They have no mode of transportation other than their feet. And they operate with no budget; there's little to account for besides spiritual formation and growth.They are the most hardcore of the Franciscans. While other Franciscans are watching satellite TV on big screen TVs, they are doing penance. I asked him how do you get vocations? And they told me Mary was their vocation director and they don’t find people, people find them.hmmm…

Anyways, starting next week I will be spending my evening time volunteering at Corpus Christi AIDS Residence And Bethany House, which is a house that helps local HIV/AIDS patients to achieve a healthy and independent lifestyle.

After spending half of my day with Lazarus House Ministries, I head over to the Boys and Girls Club with about 500 screaming kids……….no comment. Jk it has been a true blessing, interacting with these lil hood kids while they make fun of me at my attempt to speak Spanish. They reassure me that I should be a shame of myself for not knowing the language (Thanks mom and dad). Don’t worry I get the kids back and tease by letting them know they just got schooled in basketball by a future priest.

After a long day of puzzles, games, and basketball, I head back to the Troiano’s to hang out with Perrin. I was nervous at first hanging out with Perrin because I never encountered a kid with Cerebral Palsy but after a couple of days, I could see myself growing in patience and…...losing in Monopoly.

I recall in the words of Bl Mary of Jesus Crucified, “Always remember to love your neighbor; always prefer the one who tries your patience, who test your virtue, because with her you can always merit: suffering is Love; the Law is Love.”Since I am going to be living here for 2 months I asked God, what role should I play in Perrin’s life and I think God is just asking that I be a shoulder for him to lean on….

Or climb on.

Ps. My e mail is if you are trying to contact me…no more cell phone!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My class schedule for Fall 2010

Latin American Lit
Contemporary Philosophical Problems
Modern Philosophy
Church History
The Church

Don't Watch the Clock; Do what it does. Keep Going.

Philippians 3:13-14

13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I once heard a priest describe his ministry in the church as a car on a freeway. If you are old enough to drive then this analogy is quite simple. When you get on a freeway, you quickly find yourself riding along other cars. Some pass you up and some stay behind you or some ride along the side of you for 2 miles, 7 miles, or longer. Eventually, you reach your exit, merge off the freeway and keep driving.

There are times that I sit in prayer and think of all the people who have wandered away from me. I remember all of the people that I have wandered away from. It’s when I reflect on these moments that this simple analogy becomes real in my life. It is true, there are people who have ridden along my side for quite some time. Some stay a year, some a week, some long enough to read this post. The reality is that friends come and friends go, but true friends stay to watch you grow. I sit back and wonder, will there ever be a time when we might reconnect? Not just for a ‘blast from the past,’ but a real reconnection, a rejoining, a resumption of the friendship routine as if the split had never happened. Probably not, but I pray and hope that it might happen again.

Then there are the ones who are in it for the long haul, the people who are in the car with you; Jesus (the driver), family and true friends. Yes, sounds like a Mexican car in Phoenix but that’s beside the point lol. The ones who stick by you and not only help you figure out your Cross but help you carry the Cross as well.

The Simon’s of Cyrene (Fifth Station) of your life. The friends, who are not afraid to help a scorned person, carry his humiliation in front of a jeering crowd. The friends who does not ignore when he hears a whisper “It’s a crucifixion”. The friend who is not afraid to take on four soldiers, one criminal, four spears and one cross. The friend who is not afraid to saddle the inside corner of the cross on his shoulders. He knows the base of the cross will eventually drag through the dirt, the top will teeter in the air, but the friend knows that I am trying the best I can to steady the cross. The friend knows that I will stumble beneath the weight of the Cross but I will push myself back on to my feet before I fall again.

As I depart to Lawrence, Massachusetts to embark in a new and exciting chapter in my life, I am thankful and grateful for my family and friends who have helped me get to where I’m at. I do not know what God will bring next in my life but I do know that I will not stop wanting more of God’s love for NO ONE; My motivation? Jesus Christ! There have been many people throughout my life who have indirectly or directly try to stop me, but I recall St. Paul’s words, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” in the words of Fool Gonzales “and the Goal is Heaven!” I will keep moving forward, forever forward, towards an endless Heaven and a Loving God.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Facebook Era

It seems everyone is on Facebook these days: your co-workers, your best friend from third grade, your mom, your parish priest. According to the statistics page on there are currently more than 400 million active users, 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day and people spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook. Those numbers are staggering. I am a former member of this social network for reasons that I will explain later. I guess what attracted me to Facebook was that it was really fun to reconnect with people from the past, quickly and without ever having to see them-in person haha. I use to check my Facebook account twice a day and I enjoyed reading the updates of friends. It was a great instrument for sharing photos and seeing the photos of my friends. Besides the corny pictures people take of themselves in the bathroom or the feeling of “accomplishment” from moving up from MySpace, there was something exciting about being connected to the virtual world. But most importantly it was a great way to evangelize and spread the message of Christ to all people by using modern technology in a new and engaging way.

Pope Benedict XVI told young Catholics in his message for the 2009 celebration of World Communications Day to “use their computers, Facebook accounts, blogs and Internet video posts to share with their peers the joy of faith in Christ.” There is no doubt that if used properly, Facebook could bring many people to the Hope and Love of Jesus Christ.

However, as I logged onto my friends account to see “what was going on” I was deeply concerned by how much time was actually being spent on Facebook. It almost looked as if Facebook was becoming like a “god”, a “virtual god”. I talked to my friend the other day, and I asked her to walk me through her day and she said, “I get up and check my Facebook, take a shower and get ready for work, and during my lunch break, I check my Facebook again. I then go to class and when I am bored, I log on to the internet with my phone and check my Facebook!” Before I even let her finish, I knew there was something wrong. I understand that this is an extreme version of FBA (Facebook addiction) but I am easily convinced with my own experiences of being around friends and peers that people are overly using Facebook.

So what is up with Facebook? Pope Benedict, in his wisdom, also addressed to the young Catholics, "If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development”.

The keyword is silence! I know this was particularly true for me. I deactivated my account because it was getting in the way of me being able to be silent. The reality is that it is not easy to discern your vocation. Why is that? I strongly believe it requires fervent, personal prayer to our Lord and the ability to quiet down and listen to His voice. At least that was how I came to discover my vocation when, during my first year of college, I became serious about God’s will’s for me. It was by removing myself from distractions that I was able to listen to the Lord more clearly.

One of my most favorite quotes by Mother Theresa is,
“In silence He listens to us; in silence He speaks to our souls. In silence we are granted the privilege of listening to His voice.
Silence of our eyes.
Silence of our ears.
Silence of our mouths.
Silence of our minds. the silence of the heart
God will speak.---Mother Teresa, from No Greater Love

This blog is not to judge or condemn anyone on FB because I think it is a wonderful tool to get the message of Christ out but I challenge for those who are on Facebook or any other social network, in my case-texting, to “match the minutes in prayer”-meaning if you are going to spend 30 min a day on Facebook, you better be willing to spend 30 min in prayer. If you are going to spend 4hrs day on Facebook you better be willing to spend 4hrs a day in prayer. I think we owe the Lord that much. Just imagine and let’s cut the minutes in half…what if 400 million people spent 250 billion minutes in PRAYER?