I’ve been blogging on and off now for about 6 years. In no Ernest Hemingway nor have I ever claimed to be. I’m just a regular man who wanted to share his faith journey when I started my original blog (Mi Viaje-My Journey).
Over the years many changes have taken place and I’ve also matured…for the most part lol; physically, mentally, and spiritually. With that maturation came an understanding that I could still enjoy some of the things and people that I did before I reverted back to Catholicism. For some foolish reason I had it in my head that it is one way or the other; secularism or Christianity. Man was I wrong. I can still serve God without placing labels and stipulations on people and places. Live and learn.
That brings me to the change. The page will no longer be just about my spiritual journey, it will be about various journeys that I’ve taken or will take. It’s about the passions that I have for music and cooking, particularly bbq. It will encompass various parts of my life, hence Mi Viaje-Mi Pasiones-Mi Vida; My journey, my passions, my life.
I’m a firm believer that we learn from each other’s words and actions. I hope that what I share with you will inspire you to possibly create your own blog where you can share your stories, your art, your advice, or whatever it is that you could share with the world.
What I want my readers to get the most out of my articles is fun! So in the words of my fellow Cajuns, “Laissez les bons temps rouler” Let the good times roll!
For those of you who still follow this blog, I’m shocked; I’m also sorry for not being consistent with my posts. I’m hoping to change that going forward and try to post at least once a month at a minimum.
So why the hiatus? I guess you can say it’s been multiple reasons; some good, some bad, but still, there were enough to keep me distracted from my blog. 2019 like any other year, has been a year of ups and downs; mostly downs though.
Earlier in the year, I dropped out of the deacon formation program and that sent me off on a tailspin. I never wanted to drop out however, due to circumstances beyond my control, it was in my best interest and that of my family, to get out. The healing from that continues though. A few months later, one of our fellow diaconate brothers who left the program last summer took his own life. It didn’t make sense then, it still doesn’t make sense and it probably never will. The healing also continues from that event. A couple months after that, our business loses our biggest client. Another situation that was beyond my control but, it still impacts us. There have been a few other business-related matters that have risen in which we will have to wait and see what happens going forward.
Needless to say, I started therapy earlier in the year. As it has progressed and times have gotten tougher throughout the year, my therapist and doctors have been a blessing. I believe that my diagnosis is spot on and there is a plan that we’ve implemented to help me address my issues and move forward to a more normal life. Baby steps. Please, don’t ever make fun of people who are seeking help. I used to be that asshole that did that and look at me now. This world can be pretty messed up to put it lightly and there are many of us who have grown up in non-typical environments that have left us bruised, wounded and scarred. Instead of making fun of us, take the time to get to know us and listen to us, if we are willing to talk.
My faith means a lot to me. Let me rephrase that, my Catholic faith means a lot to me. Ever since coming back to the Church in 2012, my faith journey has been a roller coaster of a ride, to say the least. This year really tested that faith, especially during that first half of the year. But I trust in Jesus Christ, my God, to get me through all of this as he has done before. Even if the outcome is not how I wanted it to be, I trust that it was His will that was done and not mine and that it was for the best.
So was it all bad this year? Absolutely not. I started playing with a couple of men back in March of this year just for rest and relaxation and it turned into a group. The name of our band is Cast No Stones and if you get a chance, check us out on Facebook. We played our first show in October to a packed house at the Little Toad Creek Brewery in Silver City, NM and it was a fun night. Our next show will be a private party at the Elks Club on New Year’s Eve. Playing in the band has been a form of therapy for me as well.
I also went with a good friend of mine and saw Dream Theater for the first time in October and I was blown away. Definitely, the best show that I’ve ever been to.
I had lunch with that friend of mine that I went to the concert with and we’ve decided to launch another Catholic men’s group for our area. We have a few men who are interested in joining to see what it’s all about. We truly believe that there are many men out there in the world who are hungering for something. They are trying to fill that hunger with other things in life and finding out that they are still hungry at the end of the day. We want to lead these men and ourselves to the living bread, Jesus Christ. As scripture says, “As iron sharpens irons, so one man sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17
So I take the bad with the good and I thank God for the blessings and lessons that he has bestowed upon me this year. I had to take time to sit back and think about what I was going to say and then I remembered; mi viaje – my journey, that is what my blog is about, my life and my journey and how I wanted to share it with the world. Please keep me in your prayers and know that I’m praying for you. Until next time, buen camino.
So since I last posted, I have made many changes in my life. Some good, some bad (working on the bad ones), ultimately, I’ve been trying to get myself to a place where I am happy…if that makes any sense? Let me elaborate on that a little more.
Changes In My Life
When I decided to leave the diaconate formation, it got me very upset, mostly at a few individuals and at the diocese itself. I feel that my reasons for being upset are justifiable however, my reaction to the situation was wrong. I’ve since corrected my errors and am working towards a more healthier outlook on the situation that transpired.
I also decided to remove myself from any and all church ministries and councils that I was a part of. I know, it seems very erratic and extreme but, hear me out. I came back to the Catholic Church in November of 2012 and right from the get-go I was involved in various ministries within my parish. I had this reckless mentality of all in or all out and I decided that I was all in and I often times took on more than what I should have. In the end, I ended up getting burnt out and dropped out of the ministries only to join another one down the road.
Since coming back to the Church, I never took time to just “go to mass” and just participate in mass that way. Just to sit in the pew and be there, with Jesus, no distractions. This Sunday was my first time getting to experience the mass in a whole new way, without worrying about helping or anything else. This is why I decided to get out of my ministries and such, to live my life with Jesus without distractions for now. And if and when the time comes that He should want me to do something within the Church, I will do so at that time but for now, I will continue in this new way for me.
Last year I gained 30 lbs. Why? Because I didn’t care or watch what I was eating, hence, I got to the heaviest point in my life, 320 lbs. Last Monday I finally decided that enough is enough and I need to take care of myself. I weighed in at 312 lbs. I started to watch what I was eating, keeping my carbohydrate intake to a minimum, stopped drinking diet sodas, and didn’t have a single “sugar” dessert for 6 days (Sunday was cheat day). This morning I weighed in at 308 lbs and I will start going to the gym today to work on my cardio and strength training. I’m not a spring chicken anymore (I’ll be 52 in May) so I better start doing something now before it’s too late.
For peace of mind, I started to go fishing again (it had been 7 years since I’d been) and I have been jamming with a few other guys (drums) and just having fun with it all. Being out in nature helps to calm the mind and places me at peace with God’s creations. Jamming out, on the other hand, helps me with my creativity.
Yeah, so that pretty much sums it up for now. I’m going to enjoy these changes that have taken place in my life, embrace them as best as possible and try my hardest to keep living the life that God created me to live. Until next time, buen camino and God bless.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.