Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Monday, 14th Week in Ordinary Time

I went to confession again, today. This is the third time in seven days. What a wretch I am. The Lord knows I’m a sinner, and I’m ashamed that I have been falling into mortal sin so frequently.

These feelings of shame are counter-balanced with feelings of gratitude. I am grateful for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. What an incredible mercy that God gives us! I commit a mortal sin, deserve to be cast into Hell, despite living an otherwise righteous life, but this Sacrament is here to wipe my sins away, again. Oh, Lord you are so merciful! How can this be? I don’t understand this love you have for me, but I’m grateful.

Inspired by the diary of Saint Faustina, I asked the Lord to be one of His Chosen. He asked me if I knew what I was asking for, and I replied that I do not know but I completely trust in his Mercy and will accept what he gives me. My prayer life was increasing in intensity, and God allowed the old temptations to come back in order to test my resolve.

Obviously, I failed. Yet, God was teaching me that I have yet to rely on his strength. If I want to be one of His Chosen, then I need to turn to him always. I still need to learn how to fight my basic temptations. These old battles need to be fought again before my Lord and Commander gives me more difficult assignments. The Holy Spirit is revealing that my old weaknesses are still there and may never go away. So I need to learn to rely on Christ always. 

The enemy will set traps and I need to be vigilant. The enemy knows my weaknesses, too, and will exploit them. The only way I can defeat their efforts is to struggle with prayer during those moments of temptation. If there Our Fathers is not enough for those temptations to subside, then say a whole rosary. If a whole rosary is not enough, then kneel and do a chaplet of Divine Mercy. I have other spiritual weapons at my disposal and I should familiarize myself with them, as any good soldier would before battle.

I will be mortally wounded, like I was yesterday. Whether the death was by the enemy or by my own carelessness doesn’t matter. There is no need for me to walk around dead, like a zombie. I can be healed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I can always start over after a mortal “game over” until the power that keeps my physical body alive is shut off. Praise be to God. Have mercy on me. Train me to be a better soldier. I want to do battle for you.

Midnight Apostolate

This is a midnight apostolate.  Anyone who has ever maintained a blog will know how difficult it is to regularly post engaging content.  It’s not easy and so many forces work against us.  Thanks for coming back, again.  I’ve been gone for a while.  I hope Our Good Lord has blessed you and that you’ve fallen more in love with Our Mother.  May the Virgin bless you with her maternal smile, save you from unnecessary suffering, and bring you consolation in times of difficulty.

How was your Easter?  I celebrated my sixth anniversary as a Catholic Christian.  It was my third time going to the Vigil Mass and I chide myself for not going every year.  It was so beautiful.  There is something incredible about that experience… the anticipation which culminates in a community outpouring of love for our Lord, Jesus Christ.  And, it’s not a spontaneous, chaotic outpouring of ecstatic praise, but a unified chorus of prayer.  It’s the liturgy.  Have you ever really paid attention to the Easter Vigil Liturgy?  You can’t read about it.  You can’t have someone else tell you what it’s like.  You have to pray and prepare yourself to receive this generous gift — the gift of the Easter Liturgy.

I want to get back into the habit of writing to you.  This time, though, I will pray for you, as well.  It’s so important to know that we are loved here in this world.  And, if you happened to have stopped by this corner of the Internet, please know that I’ve been praying for you.

Where are you in your life?  Do you believe?  Do you hate God?  Could you care less?  Whatever the state of your soul, know that this anonymous stranger is and has been praying for you.

I do this because my love for God is overflowing from my family life into other areas.  I no longer want to offer just my Sunday mornings, but every moment to God.  This has led me to pray more.  And, so I’ve prayed for strangers.  I’ve prayed for friends, family, and co-workers; for my parish; the Pope’s intentions; for the victims of tragedy that I read in the news.

As my prayer life grows, I feel this need to love more and more, to give more of myself.  I’m restless with love.  So, instead of going to sleep next to my family, I have this midnight apostolate where I pour out my thoughts into these posts.

Pentecost is coming on our liturgical calendar.  Isn’t our calendar amazing?  It’s like we can be sure to see the sunrise again tomorrow in case we missed it, today.  It’s the same with our Catholic liturgical calendar.  If you missed something, then you can be sure it’ll come again next year.  Over a lifetime of the liturgical seasons, we will see so many Lenten sunsets and Easter sunrises.  Oh, and all the lovely moments inbetween!

Thanks again for stopping by.  God loves you.  I will pray for you.  Let me know in the comments if there is a special intention you’d like me to pray for.  May the Lord bless you, protect you from evil, and bring you to everlasting life.  Amen!

New Look for 2015

Do you like the new look?  I wanted to simplify the blog’s look for 2015.  I’ve had the same theme for two years; it was nice but I want a layout that focuses more on the words than on the image.  I can do more image-intensive posts for the Facebook Page.  For those of you who’ve visited before, let me know if you prefer the old theme.  God bless you.

Pillow Talk with God

I am not alone when I pray.  The Holy Spirit is there to guide me.  My friends, the saints whom I often turn to are there (St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Joseph, St. Thomas More, St. Jose Maria Escriva).  Prayer is a solitary activity, but I’m not alone.

I learned this past year the importance of liturgy in my prayer life.  While personal prayer is like pillow talk between God and I, active participation in the liturgy is prayer at a higher level.  Praying through liturgy is transcendental.  I am part of something greater than myself.  It is the spiritual equivalent to the conjugal act between husband and wife — it’s happening between Christ and His Bride, the Church!

Communion at Mass is more profound than sex.  Christ enters every member of His Bride, and His Body and Blood is absorbed into each member of her body, the Church.  The very divinity of Our Lord seeks to enter each soul, to unite with each member of her body.  This transforming union takes place to the extent that each member is holy.

That’s why I pray.  That’s why I want to be holy.  to be united with my beloved through the Church.  I am nothing on my own, by I am everything when I am with God in the Church.  Great sex with our spouse is only a shadow of the ecstasy we will experience in the transforming union with God.

Reading Fr. Thomas Dubay’s “Fire Within” has been the spiritual direction I needed.  It’s not the same as having a real-life coach, but the book is a stop-gap until God connects me with one.  Discursive meditation should lead me to simple contemplation.  Increasing distraction should be normal.  Feeling like I’m failing at prayer is also normal — although, I admit, I haven’t really experienced that aridness, yet.  When I do feel dryness in prayer, I should persist.  God doesn’t ask for us to “feel it” during prayer.  He asks us to be faithful.  I don’t have to feel like going out on a date with my wife.  I just have to do it faithfully, regardless of my feeling at the moment.

When I finish “Fire Within,” I should refrain from jumping to the next book.  I should instead put more time towards contemplation.  I should use the Liturgy of the Hours as a springboard to lectio divina.  I suspect the Office of Readings will be particularly fruitful.

Dear Holy Spirit, I do not know how to pray as I ought.  I fear that I am not advancing in my prayer life.  I seek to be united with you in the Most Holy Trinity.  Show me, Most Holy Counselor, how to grow in contemplation.  Help calm me if I fret.  Remind me that the process takes time, that this kind of prayer is less about effort and more about fidelity.

Help me, dear Holy Spirit, to be more detached to the creations of this world.  Reveal to me my hidden faults.  Purify me.  Burn away my imperfections so that the windows of my soul can shine your light without filter.

I love you, my Lord.  Abide in me and help me abide in you.  Amen.

Vanity, All is Vanity

My Facebook Page now has over 1,000 followers.  I feel validated.  It’s certainly better than just 44 of my Catholic friends and family.  Then again, they’re not friends and family.  What’s the point of having a thousand followers on Facebook?  Does that help me get closer to God?  Does it help my Page followers?  How are we any holier because of it?

The honest answer is that my soul is in danger of being distracted from focusing on God.  The more followers I get, the greater the temptation towards vanity.  As I reach greater milestones, I will trick myself into believing that I’m engaging in the New Evangelization when in reality I’m sculpting an idol to worship with my own hands.  How do I fight pride when the Page has more than 5,000 followers? 10,000?  The temptation would be strong to commit more time and resources to support my vanity.  This will take away time from prayer, from my vocation as a husband, father and a U.S. diplomat.  Instead of being more active in my parish, I will exalt myself in my own virtual congregation.  Instead of helping U.S. companies, I will use my work time to maintain the Page.

So, what do I do?  Delete it?  That’s a possibility.  Can I somehow give glory to God?

My spiritual friend suggested I be a genuine voice in curating Catholic content.  How am I living out my Catholic faith?  How am I growing in prayer, growing within the Church?  There is tremendous value in faith-sharing within a spiritual friendship.  Can it be translated into a social media environment?  I do not know.  The authenticity of my soul combined with a personal reach to my fellow pilgrims would be a generous act, worthy of God because it requires sacrifice.  It’s a lot of work to reach out personally to each Page follower.

The goal now is not to get more followers, but to get to know each one as a son or daughter of God.  Each one has an immortal soul.  Seen that way, how awesome is that?  Each person deserves to be known for who they are and not just to be used as a number to boost my pride.

This means I will have to make myself vulnerable.  Scott Hahn showcases his life like a Catholic billboard; he can be a model.  I will have to use my personal account to “friend” these Facebook followers.  And I think AgoraPulse is just the right tool to help me determine who to reach out to first.

Glory be to God!  Dear Lord, may my activities only be pleasing to you.  Teach me if they displease you.  If my blog or Facebook Page or anything takes me away from you, correct me.  I’ll delete my blog and Page if that is your will.  My desire is to love you more and more is greater than these tools.  Save me, keep me from making these tools into idols.  I humbly ask this in Jesus name, together with you and the Holy Spirit, one God.  Amen.

Taking Up the Pen, Again

A friend of mine shared a blog article from “The Art of Manliness” that inspired me to take up writing in a journal, again.  Pen & paper, old-fashioned writing.  The article was about penmanship, and it was compelling.  Poor penmanship is common because schools no longer want to teach cursive.

While penmanship is a good reason to pick up journaling again with pen & paper, there was one particular section in the article that really was the impetus for me to start:

We’re big proponents of journaling around these parts. While I’ve experimented with digital journals, I keep coming back to my trusty paper journal. And I think it has to do with the meditative qualities handwriting has, particularly cursive writing. Synchronizing continuous hand movement with thought puts me in a state of flow that I can’t get with typing or even writing block letters. Whenever I’m typing, I have a tendency to second guess myself and hit “delete” when a sentence doesn’t come out right. Because there’s no delete button with cursive handwriting, I spend less time judging what I’m writing and more time just getting lost in the process. The result is a feeling of calmness and flow.

The quality of thought is higher when we write the old-fashioned way.  We can solve nagging problems and overcome writer’s block.  I don’t need to boot up a computer or deal with the cramped space on a mobile phone when writing with pen and paper.  I just pick up a pen and write.

I figured I could better fight what Stephen Pressfield calls “the Resistance” if I can keep a journal around me and find time to just write two-pages in it a day.  Whatever I write can be transcribed to my blog.  So, I’ll have regular content.  The added bonus is I get to practice my penmanship, again.

Dear Holy Spirit, bless the author of the article and my friend who shared it.  I pray that you will find my journaling an acceptable form of prayer.  If so, please give me the grace to persist in it.  Help me reflect, through journaling, on the Word of God and my conscience.  I ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.  Amen.

United by the Spirit of Christ

My family and I are getting ready to go on a long flight back to the U.S.  In case God decides to call us home, I wanted to say “I love you” even if I’ve never met you.  We will meet each other, some day.  I am praying for you, and I hope you will pray for me, too.  This is one of the many beauties of our faith: we are united in Christ’s One Body.  When we receive Communion, know that there, in that moment, we are like the hundreds of millions of cells that make up your body, but animated and unified by your soul.  As your cells are united in will by your spirit, so you and I are united by the Spirit of Christ.

Oh, how I love our faith!  How I wish I can share my excitement with you!  There is so much treasure kept within the Church, and I hope you will be inspired to go and explore.  Read “Rediscover Catholicism” by Matthew Kelly, or “Life of Christ” by Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  Read anything written by Scott Hahn.  Subscribe to Lighthouse Catholic Media.  Buy the Lighthouse Catholic Media app and purchase the Ignatius Study Bible in the app.  Pray the Scriptural Rosary that is explained by Dr. Edward Sri.  Go to one of the Steubenville Conferences.  Pick up Dan Burke’s “Navigating the Interior Life” and join the book club at his website.  Above all, go to Confession.  If there is one thing that has helped me grow the most spiritually, it is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I try to go weekly.  The supernatural grace that is bestowed on one’s soul is indescribable.  Imagine having the power to consistently resist mortal and venial sins.  Imagine the freedom of your soul to do what is good.  Imagine the possibility to become, really truly become, the best-version-of-yourself.  It’s possible.

Oh, how I wish I can share this love with you!  In a few short months after weekly Confession, don’t be surprised to find yourself praying more often.  Don’t be surprised with finding yourself thinking about God in every spare moment.  Wealth, pleasure, power, fame… those drugs that were once so addictive, so alluring, finally lose their hold.  Don’t be surprised if you don’t think about them very much anymore.  You will be so hungry for God.  And you will likely feel like you’re alone.  Even if you are surrounded by people you love and who love you in return.  Even when you meet another pilgrim who is on the same path, your own journey is made in solitude.

If you sin, don’t worry.  It’s like falling into a ditch.  The more you try to escape, the deeper the hole seems to get.  The best thing to do while waiting for temptation to pass is to pray ceaselessly in the midst of it.  Go to Confession.  The Holy Spirit will lift you out of the ditch Himself.  He will comfort you.  Do penance.  It works.  Do penance and don’t stop praying.  Find more time to pray.  Quit Netflix.  Quit video games.  Cut back on Facebook.  Find more time to pray.  Pray while you’re on the toilet, while you’re taking a shower, while you’re on your commute.

There is so much more I want to say, but I will have other opportunities.  Just know that you are loved by God more than it is possible for us to understand.  A single soul is worth more than the whole universe in the eyes of God.  Do you believe that?  Believe it: “For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” (Mark 8:36)

The Wedding at Myrtle

Last weekend (Oct 11-12), I attended the wedding of a friend whom I served with in Peace Corps Guatemala (’05-’07).  Aside from sharing a wonderful moment in the life of a friend, I was also deeply grateful to see my other friends.  Some became parents or will soon be parents.  Others were engaged.  All were brought together because of this wedding.  The Bible refers to Heaven as a wedding feast (Mt 22:2, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son”).  So, I felt like I was in Heaven.  I remember having the same feeling when my family went home this past winter.  I wrote a letter to my family and friends:

I imagine Heaven is like the conversations we had, the food we ate, the places we visited, the movies we watched, the games we played… except there would be no limit to space & time.  We can cook all our favorite recipes together, eat the dishes and pair it with the most amazing wines, and not worry about it “getting too late” or “eating too much” or ”being too expensive.”  We would share our experiences of all the wonderful places we’ve been and even re-visit them together (who needs planes when we have wings?)  In the course of a conversation, we might mention a great book or a well-made movie — I’d blink, read the book or movie you recommended, and then blink back to our moment to say, “Yes!  It was great!” Or, “Mmm… it wasn’t for me.”  In short, I imagine Heaven as being able to spend an eternity in the pleasure of your company.

I regret that we didn’t have enough time.  My jetlag also didn’t help me be at my social best.  I kept on falling asleep at the reception.

I miss the genuine friendships that were formed during those couple of years in Guatemala.  A lot has happened since then and everyone’s lives have basically moved on.  Things are different, but my affection for them stayed the same.  I truly do hope for Heaven, when I can catch up with them without earthly restrictions like time and stamina.  God bless my friends and may they make it to Heaven so we can spend an eternity having fun.

Myrtle Beach