Posts Tagged With: happiness

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 11

Day 11 – Thursday – 10/4/12

So, I think one of the fruits of my fast that I’m already beginning to see is an increased level of appreciation. Just in general. I seem to be appreciating stuff more. It also seems like my general/overall “happiness” level is up too. At noon today is the first of two St. Francis feast day Masses at our church parish, San Francisco de Asis. And the retired Bishop Emeritus, Francisco Villalobos (who sounds like the voice of God when he talks and reads) will be celebrating Mass. Kinda neat that Francisco is celebrating Francisco’s feast at the parish of Francisco. Feel like that’s Catholicism’s way of ensuring a gaping ripped hole in the space-time continuum that will create a massive black hole that will swallow us all and send us to a much earlier than anticipated meeting with our maker. (edit: as you can tell, the whole “rip in the space-time continuum black hole” thing didn’t happen. But what did happen is that I got to briefly chat with the “voice of God”, aka Bishop Villalobos briefly after Mass. Super holy, super nice dude)

He’s a really good friend of our missionary company’s founders, Frank and Genie, from way back in the day when they first came here and he was the bishop. Speaking of fasting and eating, maybe if I play the “I’m Frank and Genie’s missionary” card, he’ll invite me to eat a delicious lunch with him. I mean, bishop’s gotta eat, right? So why not eat with him? 🙂 We’ll see…… (edit #2: didn’t get to play that card, so I’ll never know. Ended up eating 7 missionary hot dogs for lunch. A missionary hot dog is a hot dog that uses a slice of wheat bread for the bun instead of a regular hot dog bun. Ends up be a little healthier and ALOT cheaper)

I think aside from clarity being a product of my fasting, I’m also starting to notice that I seem to have more spiritual insight. Lest I be mistaken as prideful, I can assure you that any and all insight is a gift from God and has nothing to do with me. For example, when we comment on the scripture reading during our community prayer, I feel like the scripture is more alive and that I have more to say and share. And of course I also seem to have more spiritual insight in regards to my own personal journey with the Lord. Well, I’m off to enjoy the singing, dancing, and other fesitivities that lead up to the main event later tonight, the fireworks! 🙂 As a near and dear missionary brother of mine says, Hasta La Pasta!

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I’m back, and then I’m gone again

Saturday – June 16, 2012 – 6:37pm – Cafe Calibri on Rufino Tamayo St. – Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico

How the heck do I manage to go a whole month without journaling? I always lament that fact each time I journal and silently promise myself that I’ll do it more often. But do I? Well, lemme put it this way. If journaling equaled oxygen I’d be gasping for air. Anyhoo……..

So I’m really diggin’ this little cafe. Reminds me alot of CC’s back home. And if you know me, you know that CC’s is my 2nd home. So I’m glad I discovered this little place. Good place to come and journal, read, or hang out. Maybe when some more students arrive next week we can come hang out here. The drink I ordered is kinda like a Mochasipi @ CC’s, except bigger, and it’s got a scoop of ice cream with sprinkles on top. AND, it’s only $34 pesos. Divide by 14 and that’s one really good coffee drink for really cheap. The best part is that it’s only a few blocks away from the house I’m staying at. But enough about my environs, let’s get to the really good stuff.

You know another thing I (to use Mrs. Genie’s phrase) “do not prefer” about infrequent journaling? It’s trying to figure out how to talk about all that’s happened since your last entry without writing 27,000 pages. Lots has happened since my last entry in Lafayette. For one thing I returned to Mexico. I had been away for almost 2 months. When I left, I had a girlfriend at the time and was convinced I wouldn’t return to Mexico. I’d even been away for so long that I was beginning to wonder if I even wanted to come back. Sure, I no longer had a girlfriend (we decided to go our separate ways), so that wasn’t a factor. But I just wasn’t “feeling” it. Didn’t see myself getting enough money to go to language school. So why would I want to come back to a place where I couldn’t communicate with the people I’m supposed to serve?

I was also able to think of at least 20 other mission posts I’d rather go to. But then something happened. First, some fellow missionaries that had surplus donations gave me money to attend language school. Then, I had a good talk with one of our other missionaries. He helped me to realize that in the long run, not going back to General Cepeda would not help me all that much. It actually would deprive me of the chance of practicing faithfulness to a commitment, which is something I knew I needed to work on. So even though I had my doubts, I decided to come back. I’m glad I did. It was a little weird at first being back. But there’s nothing like a group of 50 visiting short term missionaries to lift your spirits and help you get settled back into your home. 🙂 Having that group was amazing. All the happiness, energy, action, and liveliness was priceless. They were really good sports about everything and jumped head first into everything that we did. Being back also gave me the chance to reconnect with our Mexican missionaries and other friends in town. Surprisingly, for someone who didn’t want to come back, I was really glad to see them. The fact that I was happy to reconnect with them was yet another sign that I was in the right place.

A week after the group left, Odilio and Stacie and the kids prayed me off on my way here to language school. Took an overnight bus from Saltillo to Mexico City and then to Cuernavaca. Ended up arriving early in Mexico City which allowed me to get on a 7am bus instead of my originally scheduled noontime bus. My house parents, Mario and Marusa Quinones picked me up from the station and brought me to the house. Got settled in, took a shower and then we headed to 1pm Mass at San Miguel. It’s a small but beautiful church, with an active and tight-knit community. The priest, Fr. Alvaro, is a good dude. He’s young, and holy, and orthodox, yet friendly and approachable too. Good combo.

The week was a busy week. Besides getting oriented at ENCUENTROS, I had double the amount of classes than I normally would, as I was the only student this week. Jeannie, the director, figured that since I was slightly above the “beginner” level, and because I’d have plenty of time in the following month to do extra-curricular stuff, that I could forego some of the normal activities. Partially out of necessity, because it wouldn’t really work with just one student. That gave me the chance  to do 2 class periods each day, for a total of 4 hours of class. It was intense. Lots of info crammed into my head. A few times in class it was exhausting. But I learned alot. And it also advanced me enough that I’ll be able to have another student with me next week. (If no other student is at your level, they give you your own teacher. Good for your learning. Bad for your sanity. 🙂 ) Some of the highlights at school this week included playing with Max the Rottweiler (house pet), movie night, and getting to tour the Cathedral and downtown area.

God has also given me a few ministry type of opportunities. Those have been a huge blessing. It’s hard in a city this big (900,000) to feel the same missionary “atmosphere”. Sure, people who aren’t poor need Jesus too. But General Cepeda and our Casa de Misiones are so special that it’s hard to readjust. As I said though, God has provided. A couple of street ministry opportunities with the homeless. Conversations with some of Mario and Marusa’s house guests. Speaking briefly in front of the congregation at San Miguel’s at the end of a weekday Mass. Assisting Fr. Alvaro at a funeral Mass. Next week I’ll have the opportunity to speak at a prayer meeting at San Miguel. Please pray for that. For the people to  be able to understand my simple Spanish and for them to be blessed by whatever the Lord says through me. In the few conversations I’ve had with Father Alvaro, it also sounds like he wants to make use of me while I’m here. Please pray for that to be fruitful as well.

On a random sidenote, the barista that took my order and brought me my drink is gorgeous. Not an unapproachable type of gorgeous, but more of a cute type of gorgeous. She actually looks like the actress Eva Mendez, which is a GOOD thing. 🙂 I won’t get my hopes up though. I can barely speak and understand enough to order a coffee drink. Don’t think my fluency is to the point where I can sweep her off her feet. So for now, it appears that there won’t be any little half-Mexican Sidneys in my future! Well, my butt hurts from sitting for so long, and my drink is melted, so I better go. Until next time…………

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my classroom at language school

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Max

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da Cathedral

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Passing the baton……………….

Saturday July 23, 2011 – 5:15pm – Main Chapel @ Camp Hardtner – Pollock, LA

So we’re sitting in the Camper’s Lounge and it’s right after our movie ended. We decided on doing a matinee so that we didn’t lose the entire evening. Watched The Truman Show. After the counselors did a hilariously creative upfront, they divided the campers into boys and girls to start figuring out who was on each team for the upcoming game. Amidst the din of noise and organized chaos, I just sat on the couch in the back and was soaking it all in. And for some reason I happened to glance to one side to see Nico, one of the counselors, painting faces for one of the teams, and suddenly I was struck with this feeling of happiness.

Happiness on a very immediate level because of what was going on. But on a deeper level I realized yet again that these counselors were carrying on the Hardtner spirit and traditions. They also used to be my campers when I was a counselor. Just knowing that I played some small part in carrying on the Hardtner spirit, passing it onto these young adults, and seeing them pass it on to today’s campers was awesome. It was a heaven moment for me. It also makes me thankful for all the campers and counselors who came before me and those who were at camp the same time as I was. Without them, I would not be here.

Of course when I think about the future anytime I’m here, it makes me a little sad. I never know if this is my last time or not. I never know if I’ll ever see these people ever again. Camp itself has to move on. It has to breathe and live. It has to evolve and grow. If I keep a stranglehold on it, then it will cease to be the place it was meant to be. But this place is in my mind and on my heart. I can literally close my eyes, and no matter where i’m at, visualize myself at Hardtner and walk around the entire camp as well as go into every room in every building. A great way to end this entry is to revisit the Hardtner reflection that I wrote, which I’ll be reading at the healing service tonight.

God Bless!

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A Joyful Meeting, A Joyful Apostolate………

So, I’m sittin’ in the Chancery waiting for the Vocations Commission meeting to start, when I spy this little magazine titled “The Voice of the Legion of Mary”. In it was an article, “The Joy of Being Catholic”. The whole article was fantastic. However, I was particularly fascinated by the two sections whose titles form the title of this post. I present them to you below.

A Joyful Meeting

The meeting should be the breeding place of Christian joy, and what Frank Duff calls “Legion Humour”.  It is at our meeting that we share the joy of the apostolate we undertake. Because of the harsh realities of some conditions met on Legion work, this makes it all the more important to develop his idea of a joyful attitude, in our fellow legionaries. He entitles a chapter of his book Woman of Genesis (published 1976), “Legion Humour”. In it he gives an explanation of the importance of humour in the Legion.It is in order to encourage at our meetings joy, happiness and openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit where a joke/humour is concerned. A “heavy” meeting, in the eyes of a new recruit, could be transformed into being “not so bad” or even “good” by the delicate touch of Legion humour. The President of each praesidium is encouraged to rise about the tiredness of a busy day or sleepless night and be the leaven that raises the mood of each meeting. This is true of all the members and not just the officers.

A Joyful Apostolate

Our Apostolate should know no bounds. According to Frank Duff, one should be willing to walk the ends of the earth in pursuit of a single soul, but are we willing to smile? In his first publication, he emphasizes how much a joyful disposition can contribute to an effective apostolate. For him a “smiling face” and “cheerful words” will help those you visit to really look forward to your return. In his Encyclical entitled Christian Joy, Pope Paul VI speaks of the Joy we receive from having faith and he calls us to be Apostles of this joy, He says: All those who believe in Christ are called to share this joy. Jesus wishes them to have in themselves His joy in its fullness.

I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them. –John 17:26–

Our apostolate must be approached in the way of building relationships and no better way than with humour.

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The blessings of friendship (with the opposite sex)……

Tuesday 7/6/10 – 3:30pm @ Awardmaster (my place of employment in Lafayette, LA)

I find myself reflecting today on the blessings of friendship. Recently, I met up with a friend of mine (who happens to be a female) to go jogging at a local park.  I needed to exercise (hadn’t in over a week) and also wanted to spend some time with her. Now, typically, it has been very hard for me to visit with a female friend and not think ahead of myself (if you get the hint). My tendency is to think light years ahead at the possibilities instead of immersing myself in the blessings God has for me at the present moment.

In this case, the blessing of the present moment was enjoying the company of a friend, with no strings attached. It was AMAZING how much I enjoyed myself. Society, as a whole (myself included), has largely forgotten the value of friendship. Even within the youth and young adults of the Catholic Church, I think we tend to skip the friendship phase because we are so in love with “being in love”. I’ve heard from many solid married couples that say “I married my best friend.” Ergo, I draw the conclusion that friendship is a wonderful foundation for a possible future relationship. Even better is the fact that if a relationship/marriage does not happen, you still gain a friend. And frankly, who couldn’t use more of those? Someone whose company you could enjoy, whom you can confide in, someone to socialize with, the list goes on and on.

Anyhoo, I hope that my reflections have maybe reawakened the grace of friendship in your life, or that maybe I planted a seed of friendship and an appreciation of it. Another reason (as alluded to earlier) that friendship is on my mind is because of the struggle of a close friend of mine. To be fair, I also used to struggle with the same thing quite a bit, and though I’ve come far, I still have a ways to go. Plain and simple, he is just trying too hard to be in a relationship. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy, my best friend actually. But he just keeps desperately grasping for this miracle, wonderful, “OMG it’s so great” relationship that will just make him forever content.

I’ve learned that relationships/marriage, if we’re called by God to that vocation, are like sand or putty in our hands. First of all, it has to be placed there by God. Second of all, if we don’t wait for God’s timing and try to grasp at it ourselves, it will always elude, only serving to further the frustration and desperation we feel. If in our attempt to grasp at a relationship we somehow succeed, then our tight grip will only cause it to slip between our fingers and cause us to lose it. It’s so hard to watch my friend go through this because everytime some sort of date or meeting is setup and doesn’t work out, he get’s so aggravated and depressed.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this, it’s that God alone is our source of happiness. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we will be happy, no matter what our relationship status is. It also means that we can truly let go, let God take control, and trust that he will bless us with the desires of our heart on his timeframe, not ours. My hunch is that when we let go, and when God finally fulfills the holy desires of our hearts, we will know a joy that can’t even compare to a thousand forced & failed relationships.

It seems to me also that women/relationships are like feral cats.  You cannot force things or just lunge at what you want, or else they will just scatter. They (both feral cats & women) can usually sense someone who’s desperate for attention and will steer way clear of them (I speak from experience). However, if you are patient, and take your time to gain their trust and treat them right, you’ll eventually have a friend for life and possible more. Let me leave you with a random missionary-themed bible verse, that coincidentally is one of my top choices for my next tatoo on my left foot: “How beautiful on the mountains, are the feet of the messenger announcing peace, of the messenger of good news…..” Isaiah 52:7

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I’M FULLY ALIVE!

3/10/10 Wednesday – Chapel @ Casa de Misiones in General Cepeda, Mexico

So I’m sitting here, urgently trying to remember what it is that I wanted to write in my journal today. “Lord help me to remember, Lord help me to remember.” And all of a sudden it dawns on me “I’m fully alive!”. Being on mission again this week has caused me to notice a few things about myself. There’s a certain happiness, joy, and energy. Things that would normally bother me, don’t. Things that I wouldn’t normally do, I do. Certain behaviors and character traits I’ve noticed before in bits and pieces, I’m noticing alot more of.

Does this mean I’m a poser, being someone that’s not really me? Am I being a fake? My answer is no! I don’t think that’s it at all. I think what is happening is that I’m more fully myself. This is who I really am, and I like it. I’m more patient, more charitable, and an all-around better person. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, and I’m thrilled. I’m having heartfelt conversations with my fellow missionaries this week, and it energizes me. Everything that has happened this week has given me joy. It almost feels like I’m running out of words and ways to say it. I’M MORE FULLY ALIVE! My prayer now is that God takes this newfound vibrancy and help me to continue doing his will.

Lord Jesus, I ask and pray that this new beginning lead to a greater level of commitment and faithfulness. I pray Lord that it lead me to the knowledge that you love me with an undying love, and that you only want the best for me. Lord, I pray for the grace to trust in you. Thank you Jesus for loving me and helping me to love others. As you have blessed me, help me to bless others. Praise God! Amen!

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