Friday, July 30, 2010

A night with the Franciscans of the Primitve Observance

On Thursday evening God gave me another amazing opportunity to spend a day with the Franciscans of the Primitive Observance. Arguably, the strictest order of Franciscans in the Western world, I was a bit nervous before arriving because I had no idea what to expect. I have been following this group and reading about them for about a year and I was super excited to spend a day of recollection amongst their midst. However, there are a lot rumors in the blog world that these men are radical, crazy, misguided and are perverting the St. Francis spirituality. Well if you look at these men the way the "world" looks at them: radical and crazy indeed. But true followers of Jesus Christ in the manner of St. Francis of Assisi? Absolutely.( Pardon me, I did not take as many pictures for the sake of maintaining the Grand Silent that was being observed during my stay)
Co-Redemptrix Friary

As Br. Lawrence led me to my room I looked around....and looked for my bed....and looked for a lamp....and nothing.

I never felt so excited entering a room, because I had a sleeping bag waiting for me on the floor. Yes, these men are the real deal. They sleep on the floor! Matter of fact, they own no radios, televisions, I-pods, computers, or other worldly possessions. They own no bus pass, subway tickets or cars, they travel by feet. They also have no budget! So I spent the evening reading....After I finished Augustine's confessions for armchair theologians (a good follow up if you have read confessions)we had evening prayer and adoration for an hr. No chairs, or pews, just your knees. Also no shoes or socks allowed on holy ground-bare feet. As I watched them walk into the chapel, they bowed, kissed the floor and spread their arms as they begged God for his pardon and peace. WOW, such reverence and respect for Jesus in His home.

A day at the Friary looks like this: 1:30-2:00 AM Office readings,6:00 morning prayer, 6:30-7:30 adoration, 7:30-8:00 Daily Mass; then study work, noon, midday prayer and recollection, pickup lunch; 4:45 p.m., evening prayer in common, followed by one hour of silent Eucharistic adoration; 6 p.m.,evening prayer), the rosary and, finally, the Grand Silence (close of the day, normally around 9 p.m.) On Wednesday and Fridays are their fast days: Bread and water only! I only got to experience the night prayer, office readings and morning prayer, adoration and mass. But well worth the experience. Because of other obligations my opportunity was cut short but these hours I spent in silence with the Lord was truly a remarkable experience.

I ended my experience with mass by Fr. Pio
Lets Pray that these men may continue to prosper in vocations!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Have mercy on me a sinner...

Saturday I was invited by the Basillian Fathers (Eastern Melkite Rite, who are in union with Rome) to spend a day of recollection, prayer and silence at their seminary located in Methuen, Massachusetts. In the book written by Thomas Kempis called Imitations of Christ he states, “In silence and quiet the devout soul advances in virtue and learns the hidden truths of Scripture.”

Shortly after I arrived I was taken by a seminarian to my cell (for the day).

I spent the following 3 hrs reading, “The Confessions” by St. Augustine. I never spent a day alone in silence before so I was excited to see how much God would open my heart.

After reading, I napped of course and then met with Fr. Martin. The best way to describe Fr. Martin is having the insights of a saint, after a short 15 minute discussion with him, it was obvious he read my soul. So he gave me 4 scripture passages to meditate in the chapel for the rest of the day. For the next 8 hrs, I spent time in and out of the chapel.

Had time to Journal...

and said a rosary in their beautiful chapel!

As the day started to close, I met with Fr. Martin and he was able to offer follow up responses to the scripture passages I meditated on. He also gave me an icon of Our Lady of Vladimir and prayer beads that was custom made for him, so that I can start praying the "Jesus Prayer". It is not to be confused with a Rosary. I was so excited and blessed to have received these gifts. Basically, each bead you say, " Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Word on Fire..

Early this year, I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago for a basketball tournament. While I was there, Fr. Stephen Koeth CSC introduced me to Fr. Robert Barron.

Myself, Fr. Robert Barron and Fr. Stephen Koeth

Fr. Barron is a Catholic evangelist is considered one of the prominent theologians of the Catholic faith. He is also the founder of Word on Fire Ministries which is a non profit media organization that draws millions of people back into the Catholic faith. Soon he will release a Catholic ten part series that seeks to explore, through a global journey, the living culture of the Catholic Church. From the lands of the Bible, to the great shrines of Europe, to the shores and heartland of America, to the mysteries of Asia, to the rich landscapes of Latin America, to the beating heart of Africa - and beyond, witness the passion and glory of the faith that claims over a billion of the earth’s people as its own. Please take a few minutes to watch the trailer and pray that this video can reach the hearts of many!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ryan in New Hampshire!

Early Saturday morning, the SSLP team of Lawrence headed to a beach party at the Perocchi's house in Seabrook, New Hampshire. Mr. Perocchi is also the CEO of Pebble Beach and has two children who graduated from Notre Dame. He invited us over for a time of relaxation and enjoyment. It was truly an unforgettable and amazing experience. I arrived to their home and thought I was doing an episode for MTV Cribs...

It was truly a beautiful home. After my making my tour around the home, we went into the backyard...the beach?

The water was mad cold therefore I did not go in. After chillin' on the beach, we made our way to lunch and I was forced to try clams and butter straight from the sea...

I am Nicaragua (Hispanic) I am a mantequilla con pan type of guy! Not a fan of clams. After letting my food settle, I made my way to the front yard--a full size basketball court?

I even got a game in with the lil homie, and he killed him.

Is it a sin to be rich? NO! Being rich is not incompatible with true poverty of spirit. With great wealth comes an equally great obligation in charity. Mr. Perrochi a faithful Catholic has a very powerful story. Perocchi's mother died in a car crash when he was 9. His father, a World War II veteran, was disabled when a tree branch landed on his head. With little financial stability, Perocchi was just another child from the projects from Lawrence. He turned up at the Boys & Girls Club every day after school with dreams of something better. After several years of working hard—he is now a multi-millionaire! I asked him, do you ever get afraid of being around the wealthy? He said, “Ryan I am still the kid from the wrong side of the tracks in Lawrence who just got a break from God”. Every year he hands a check for 1 million dollars to the Boys and Girls Club to give to the next generation of poor children looking for a break. Certainly material wealth can be an obstacle.. It is a sin to put anything before God. Many people's God is money. Jesus did not say it's impossible for a rich man to enter God's Kingdom, but difficult. Wealthy people often think they don't need God; they have power, respect, and are fawned over by others. But Mr. Perrochi told me a prayer that serves as a friendly reminder to him: "God, keep me from being poor so that I am not tempted to steal, and keep me from being rich so that I will not forget you..."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Don't bite the APPLE Eve--A trip to New York

Last Thursday, I left from Lawrence Massachusetts to make my 4th appearance to New York City. After making my way through the Boston Commuter Rails and Buses I was in Times Square where I was awaited by my childhood friend Jordan Mckee, Domingo Pesos aka Gallo. Jordan and I have been friends since the 5th grade and we have always talked about being in New York together to experience the city.

Jordan currently goes to St. Francis in Brooklyn. Since I had only a day to spend with him, my time was short so we made our way to Brooklyn’s finest pizza spot and grubbed before heading uptown. It certainly was no Brothers Pizza but it was pretty bomb.

But we had one goal in mind- Harlem! Last time I went to Harlem, I stayed in Spanish Harlem but this time I wanted to experience the west side of Harlem and see the mural of one of my favorite childhood rap artist who was gunned down in 1999- Big L.

After our visit to the Big L mural, we headed to Rucker Park, the worlds famous basketball court. I grew up hoping to have my chance to visit Rucker Part and it was truly a touching experience. Home of Alimoe and Skip to my Lou from And 1.


I concluded my Thursday evening and got well rested for the following day to come. I finally made my way from Brooklyn to Times Square where I would meet Fr. Stephen Koeth C.S.C. aka the one who wrote the letter. I felt so proud of myself because I made it through the NY subways all by myself.

I was greeted by Fr. Stephen and finally was in his hood’ or neighborhood. After walking through bits of the city, we decided to go to the world famous Metropolitan of Art Museum. It was my first “official museum”.

Fr. Stephen must have been texting Jesus

It was a great experience not only because I went with an historian but most especially because of the mid-evil section that was displayed at the museum. It had Catholic written all over it. Followed this exploration of the museum, Fr. Stephen and I met Chris (Old Collegian) and Joey at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for mass.

Fr. Stephen Koeth Concelebrating!

Before we went back to Staten Island we made a pit stop enjoying Times Square!

The following day we toured the rest of the city including the World Trade Center:

Followed we ate lunch at the famous Katz's Deli-Best Sandwiches and Root Beer I ever had!

After wrestling with the humidity, and a long bus ride home, I made it back to Lawrence, Massachusetts.