You Can Act Like a Man – Sloth

When people think of the sin of sloth, they tend to think about laziness, idleness, or indolence. They are partly right because sloth is much more than that.

The Latin term for sloth is acedia which means “without care.” Spirituality it’s referred to people who’ve become indifferent to their obligations to God. Mentally, acedia has many facets; affectlessness, a lack of any feeling about a person’s self or others, a state of mind that welcomes boredom, apathy, and sluggish mentation.

In his Summa Theologica, Saint Thomas Aquinasdefined sloth as “sorrow about spiritual good” and as “facetiousness of the mind which neglects to begin good… [it] is evil in its effect, if it so oppresses men as to draw him away entirely from good deeds.”

In a nutshell, sloth is the sin of omission; failure to do the things that one should do, turning a blind eye to what is right. Sins of omission can be the worst because it is not what you do, but what you failed to do.

One of the best ways to combat sloth is to pray the rosary; focusing on each mystery of Jesus’ life. Contemplating on how Jesus lived his life, how he’s given us the example of what a prayerful man is. With that being said, let’s practice right now by saying the Lords Prayer slowly.

Our Father (pause)………..who art in heaven…………..hallowed be thy name…………………..thy kingdom come………….thy will be done……………….on earth……………as it is in heaven……………….Give us this day………………….Our daily bread………….and forgive us our tresspasses………as we forgive those………….who trespass against us……………..and lead us not………..into temptation…………..but deliver us………from evil……..Amen.

The “You Can Act Like a Man” series continues next Friday where the topic will be greed. Until then, Buen Camino.

You can act like a man – Pride

To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man. – Ric Flair

In order to change yourself, you have to acknowledge your brokenness and identify those areas.

Our first topic in the “You can act like a man” series is Pride.

Pride is sometimes viewed as corrupt or as a vice, sometimes as proper or as a virtue. … When viewed as a virtue, pride in one’s abilities is known as virtuous pride, the greatness of soul or magnanimity, but when viewed as a vice it is often known to be self-idolatry, sadistic contempt, vanity or vainglory.

When I came back to the Catholic Church in late 2012, the thing that held me back from going back sooner was fear. I was afraid to give my life to God. I was afraid that I would change and become less of a man, but I knew deep in my heart, that I had to make the move.

As I sat there in front of the tabernacle that day, I was having a long overdue conversation with Jesus Christ. I wanted to know why I wasn’t happy, content, and at peace with myself or the current state of my life. I was still fairly young, 46 years old, successful, had a good marriage, but yet, I knew something was missing. I knew the answer without Him saying a word to me. He, Jesus Christ, was the answer.

I asked Jesus to come into my life, to send the Holy Spirit down upon me. Suddenly, I started to cry. I could feel an intense love like I’ve never felt before. My inner cup was overflowing with His grace, and I knew, this was it, this was Him. I remember saying “if you come into my life, I will no longer live it for myself, but for you.”

For once, I humbled myself before the Lord. I’ve never been a humble person, and I still continue to work at it, but that day, I found something, someone, greater than myself, and I let go of my pride, and allowed Jesus Christ into my life.

The opposite of pride is humility, humbleness. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that approximately 80% of men today, know nothing or very little about humility. Take a look at the state of the world these days.

I’m a firm believer that all of the world’s problems are the result of men not knowing their role or doing what God created them for, but I’ll save that for later on the topic of sloth.

Humility and humbleness allow a man to realize that there is something bigger than him or his ego, and that there are others who need help, guidance, assistance, and love that he can offer when he’s not focused on himself. You may have heard the saying. “It takes a real man to recognize his mistakes.” I say that it takes a “humble” man to be able to identify, acknowledge, and work towards fixing those mistakes.

Look upon the cross and you will see authentic masculinity, authentic humility, from Our Lord Jesus Christ, who humbled himself to death, death on a cross, for all of us, and all of our sins. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

God, I am far too often influenced by what others think of me. I am always pretending to be either richer or smarter or nicer than I really am. Please prevent me from trying to attract attention. Don’t let me gloat over praise on one hand or be discouraged by criticism on the other. Nor let me waste time weaving imaginary situations in which the most heroic, charming, witty person present is myself. Show me how to be humble of heart, like you.

The Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

– Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val

Until next Friday, Buen Camino.

You Can Act Like a Man!

I firmly believe that if men would focus on becoming who it was God created them to be, then we wouldn’t be in half the mess that we are.

Remember when the snake came into the Garden of Eden and Adam rose up, picked up a stone, and bashed the snaked to death? Neither do I, because that’s not what happened.

Adam was given the task to ‘abad and shamar, to till and keep the land. He was not vigilant and the snake was able to slither in and disrupt paradise.

The big 7. These will be the topics for the next few posts. In the meantime, ask yourself this question, how can I be a better man?

Until next time, Buen Camino.

Finding God…again.

I’m on a new journey in search of God. Now I know that God is everywhere and, he is within us. However, over the past two years, I’ve allowed the secular world to cloud my vision. So what happened?

First was leaving Deacon Formation in early 2019. It was something that needed to happen but, it was still a hard pill to swallow. The hardest part for me back then, and still is today, is how can God allow evil into his Church? In the Catholic Church we have less than desirable clergy members who appear to be more concerned about their own agendas than with the Gospel. I know (now) that there’s nothing that I can do to change that or them, but I still wonder why God allows it. So why is there so much conflict within me?

2020 brought in depression and anger. Not just for me, but for many people that I know. It was the year of the COVID 19 pandemic that was hyper politicized and continued to divide Americans. I turned to music to escape but in doing so, I placed God on the shelf. It was another question; how could God allow people to be so evil with each other? I know that it’s free will but I know there is more to it. I love music. I love playing live or on Facebook. But I love God too, not like before but, I am trying to find my way back to God.

The longer I’m away from God, the easier it is to fall into sin. Sin is not a good place to be; it’s like wallowing around in your own feces, surrounded by demons.

On the Topic of Pro-Life and the Hatred Towards President Trump

When discussing pro life issues, stating that we should be concerned about the dignity of all lives is an imbecilic thing to say. We should always be taking care of our fellow man. We should always have in mind the dignity of our fellow man, be it the poor, the elderly, the immigrant, etc. By saying that the dignity of all lives matters is using it as a scapegoat to justify voting for a party who supports the murder of the unborn.

Once again I say, if we do not stress the importance of the dignity of life from the beginning, nothing else matters.

Mark 14:7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them.

Matthew 25:35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

The aforementioned scripture verses are examples of how we should always be taking care of our fellow man.

Now let’s look at a couple of other examples of scripture that refer to the laws of man and God.

Exodus 20:13 You shall not kill.

1 Timothy 1:9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient.

There are many “Christians” out there who absolutely, undeniably, and abhorrently hate President Donald Trump. To them I pose this question; how can you hate someone that you do not know?

What does scripture say about hate?

1 John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

1 John 3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Hate comes from fear. Fear comes from the devil. Ask yourselves who you serve?

I know hate. I know the evil of hate and how it can consume a person and blind them from the truth.

Anyone that I’ve ever “hated” in my life was a lie that was constantly being fed to me by the evil one. How could I hate someone I didn’t know? I couldn’t. The truth was I didn’t like the action(s) of the person and instead of saying that, I went beyond the dislike of an action to hatred for the person.

If someone brings up the name Donald Trump, and you cannot have a rational conversation with that person without allowing your feelings to get involved, pray. Pray that God will give you clarity. I had to because I was allowing my feelings to get involved while defending the President. Now, I point out what he has done to help our nation to try to become great again. Let’s face it, other countries used to look up to us or looked at us with envy and jealousy. Now they laugh at us and that was long before President Trump.

Do we take a chance and vote in a party who wants socialism to be the new norm? Or do we vote for the man who has his own “personal” faults that are between he and God, not he and me. The same man who has brought Christianity back into the vocabulary of politics. The same man who defends the dignity of the unborn and is not ashamed to say so.

Remember, 95% of what we say and do is based on feelings. Use that untapped 5% when it come time to vote. Open your eyes and your hearts. Do not trust your feelings when you vote but vote on the issues at hand.

30 Day Retreat

Picture yourself driving down a highway during the summer and it is early morning, the sun is beginning to rise. As you are driving you hear or see the splat of a bug hitting your windshield. If you’re quick enough you rinse the remains of the bug off. After driving for an hour you pull off into a rest area. You notice that your windshield is a mess. Bugs and remnants of them have left their mark on your windshield. You get back in your vehicle and start to drive away noticing the mess on the windshield. You can still see the road but it’s not as clear. You get to a crossroad and make a turn, the wrong turn because you could not see clearly.

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Sometimes we allow things to get in the way of our journey with Christ. People, material objects, vices, places, situations, they all can create a blurred vision of the path that leads us home to him. That is when we need to stop, clear our vision, and get back on track.

 

I am at one of those times in my life where I need to clear my vision. I need to get away from the world as best as I can, and clean my inner windshield. A friend and Catholic brother of mine introduced me to a program, “Freedom Through Christ” created by a Catholic Deliverance Ministry.

I saw the changes that he went through and although I know that I may not experience those same changes, I know that changes need to be taken in order for me to continue my journey with Christ. This is my time to reconnect with God in a deeper more intimate way than what I’ve ever done before.

Tomorrow July 16, 2020, I begin my retreat. I will be off the grid per se for at least 30 days, maybe more, I have no idea how this will go or where God will lead me during this time.

I’d like to ask you all to pray for me during this time. Pray that God will deliver me from whatever it is that is holding me back. Pray that his will be done in my life. I will pray for all of you and your intentions during this time and when I return, I pray that I am a better man than who I am today.

Thank you, God bless you, Buen Camino, and I’ll see you all later.

Fear of Truth

Psalm 27:2-3

When evildoers assail me, uttering slanders against me, my adversaries and foes, they shall stumble and fall. Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

zipped mouth

There are times when I am asked, “John, as a small business owner in a small town, aren’t you afraid of posting your religious and political views on social media? Don’t you know that people will use that against you and your business?” My answer is always the same, “I am not afraid to speak the truth.” Why am I not afraid? I think the aforementioned Psalm says it all; in a nutshell, God has my back.

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Why are so many “Christians” afraid to speak the truth? In a previous post I talked about Christian Passivity but I think it goes deeper than that. There is a certain fear that keeps people from speaking the truth. Fear of being labeled a bigot, a racist, a hypocrite, etc… If someone is placing a label on you and you know that it is not true, then why be afraid to speak the truth?

FearisALiar

Fear is not of God; fear is a lie and comes from the father of all lies, the devil. 2 Timothy 1:7 “for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” Don’t quote me but I believe the phrase “be not afraid” or others like it are mentioned 365 times in the Bible. That’s 365 instances of God letting you know that he has your back, be not afraid. Testify!

fulton sheen take sides

“The issue is now clear. It is between light and darkness and everyone must choose his side.” – G.K. Chesterton. Right is right and wrong is wrong, it’s that simple. When you are afraid to speak the truth, you allow the darkness to creep into the world that much more. Be not afraid, speak the truth boldly with fire and conviction.

Until next time, buen camino.

Passive Christianity

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Today is the 47th annual March for Life in Washington D.C. Let that sink in for a bit. 47 years of people marching for the dignity of life and, this is the first time in 47 years that the President will address the attendees in person! Yet, people still claim that President Trump holds no Christian values.

Trump praying

For a man who supposedly doesn’t have any Christian beliefs, then I suppose it is purely coincidental that he uses the words; “Jesus Christ, Christian, Christian beliefs, and Religious rights” so much. The man is not just a talker. He is not a passive Christian.

He has put his money where his mouth is and everyone hates him for it. No matter what good he does, those who appose him will always be critical of him and his actions. I’ve already seen people on social media saying, “Instead of addressing the people at the March for Life, he should be leading the march.” Good is never good in their eyes or never good enough.

NewsMedia21_1_

Do you know why those who hate and appose President Trump do so? Because they are told to do so by the mainstream media. These are people who can’t think for themselves. Don’t believe me, go online and look at some of the interviews that are conducted with these individuals when asked why they dislike our POTUS. Most can not come up with a coherent answer. It’s sad, disgusting and troublesome at the same time. When provided with factual information, they tend to get irate and immediately take to personal attacks on him and those of us who support him. But by all means, those of you who appose President Trump, keep following and listening to the media on how to live your life. Nobody will have the boldness to confront you. Why? Because they are passive Christians.

hell fall

The path to heaven is narrow and full of twists, turns, and obstacles; while the road to hell is wide and open. 47 years of marching and what have we learned? Instead of this country getting better we see Sodom and Gomorrah being revisited again. Why? Because we’ve allowed it to happen; passive Christianity. Nobody seems to have the fortitude to stand up and say “ENOUGH!”

Think about this; the LGBTQ movement. Within the past 10 years if not more, they have taken to the streets and demanded that their voices be heard. They’ve protested against the way they’ve been treated by telling some truths and some lies. 20 years ago before this movement we knew who were and weren’t homosexual and, it really didn’t matter to us. They were treated the same as any other person, equal. I personally have never seen a homosexual treated any differently in any Church that I’ve attended yet, there are all these claims on how the Catholic Church does not recognize the dignity of the homosexual person and how nondenominational Churches persecute homosexuals. LIES! Now, it’s thrown in our faces, demanding us to bow down to them and their way of life. Why? Because of passive Christians.

Michelle Lujan Grisham
Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham wearing the “pink ***** hat.”

How about another example of idiocy in our country. Let’s take a look at the “me too” movement or the “women right” movement. First off, it’s hard to take a person seriously who is wearing a pink ****** hat and yelling obscenities such as “My vagina my rights.” Once again, displays of incoherent ramblings by those seeking attention…AND IT WORKS! Why? You guessed it, because of passive Christians.

Now how about the women who are screaming, “Oh I was a victim of his sexual advances” such as those allegations made by actresses like Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan. Now I’m not saying that those men are innocent of their behaviors, they are sexual predators, but, why didn’t these women just say no? Because it would affect their acting careers that’s why. So in essence, their careers where more important to them, at the time, than their dignity and self-worth. And I’m supposed to feel bad for them because they were taken advantage of? I’m supposed to feel bad for these women who went on to make movies with nudity on their part…I don’t think so! But, like everything that is wrong with the world today, people will feel sorry for them, people will support them as they have and, nobody will hold them accountable for their actions. Why? Because of passive Christians.

christian vs secular

For far too long we, the Christian community, have stood back and watched as our nation falls to shambles. If we continue to do so, we will see our religious freedoms disappear. As in the picture above, we are always portrayed as the angry looking evil Christian when in fact, the picture should be one of a man, cowering in the fetal position, hiding behind his bible. Look at what is taking place in the Methodist Church. Look at the problems that we have with the “Lavender Mafia” in the Catholic Church.

What will it take? What else has to happen before Christians stand up and start to shout themselves that ENOUGH is ENOUGH and we will not tolerate our religious beliefs being trampled on as they have been? Hit your knees hard friends and pray. Pray for courage. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you and give you the words to defend your faith.

In closing, quit being passive Christians. Take a look at Jesus Christ on the cross. Does that look like a passive man? I think not. That is one thing that I’ve always taken pride in when asked why I wear a Crucifix when I do. It is because it is a symbol, a reminder of the courage, the perseverance, and the love that Jesus Christ has for us.

Until next time, buen camino friends.

 

When you start to lose your faith

man-praying-knees-sun-ftr

Coming back to Jesus Christ and His Church was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. I remember the tears of joy, the feeling of an enormous weight being lifted from my shoulders, the weight of sin and doubt; I finally felt free and felt loved

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Over the years after coming back to my faith, I got myself involved in many ministries; I believe I was trying to find a way to make up for the lost time and for not doing what I felt that I should’ve been doing for Christ all along. I got to a point where I overdid it and got involved in too many ministries and became overburdened. Another thing that happened is that I started to notice the people involved in these ministries, and what I noticed was not good. Over pious, self-serving, self-righteous, holier than thou individuals who were in these ministries for all the wrong reasons. All of a sudden there was too much noise, far too many voices of who was right and what was right. I didn’t realize then that I couldn’t hear or see God because of the static and that my attention was elsewhere.

The-Lost-Sheep

As I stated earlier, even I got involved for some wrong reasons, thinking that I owed Christ something for all of my wasted time. I’ve come to learn through time that I didn’t owe Christ anything. I’m sure that he was happy I, the lost black sheep, returned back to him. Remember, he also gave us the gift of free will to do what we want; to turn away from him or to turn back towards him. No matter what is going on in our lives, he is always there. “I will never forsake you or abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5

Wolves-Sheep

During this journey I’ve taken, I have met many people who are not the picture-perfect Catholic/Christian. Honestly, none of us are. What I’m talking about though are those individuals that I mentioned before, and then there are the supposed leaders, those who are supposed to be our shepherds, and currently, they are misleading the flock. Not all of them are bad but there are far too many who are noticeably wrong in their actions and words. When you are informing your parishioners that voting for someone who is pro-abortion is better than voting for an individual who has cheated on three of his wives, there is a serious problem there. When you admit to voting for someone who is openly pro-abortion, you have made yourself a part of their sin and are misleading your flock. When you are doing everything in your power to fast forward the agenda of the LGBTQ and use it to twist the words of Christ, you too are misleading your flock.

trust god

I’ve found myself being angry, disheartened, and depressed about my journey with Christ. Then like a rock falling on my head, (which is usually the way God has to get my attention), I realized that it is not Christ that I’m disappointed with, it is the men who are in leadership positions that are making me feel this way. I’m too focused on them and not focused enough on Christ. I’ve been focused far too much on what they are doing wrong instead of on what Christ has done right. When we place our trust in men, we will be let down for sure.

God is calling

So, once again, I am at the crossroads. Which way will I go? Will I continue to fall for the foolishness of men or will I return to how I was when I first came back, like a child yearning to learn, wanting to serve Christ as best as I can? How will I do this? I really don’t know right now. Will I start another men’s group or will Christ lead me in another direction? Only God knows. One thing that I do know is that I’m tired of being angry, disheartened and depressed about my faith and I refuse to lose it! I will do my best to serve, I will do my best to let my actions speak louder than my words, and I will do my best to spread the joy of Christ with others as often as I can.

I saw this passage today which served as my inspiration for writing this. I hope that it moves you as much as it moved me. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” 1 Corinthians 1:17.

Buen Camino & 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.

 

wwc fire

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.