Posts Tagged With: patience

Drunk in church & reflecting on my fast

Sunday – 9:00am – In the back seat of the old gray missionary van on the way to communion services in the ranchos – middle of nowhere, Coahuila, Mexico

Trying to write a journal entry in this van is like trying to build a house of cards during an earthquake. Very difficult to do. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but it is kinda difficult. ๐Ÿ™‚ But as you can see from the title of today’s entry, I got some pretty interesting stuff to talk about and didn’t want it to slip my mind. It also felt really strange yesterday not writing in my journal after having written everyday for the past 40 days. I can kinda see now how writing is therapeutic and can help you make sense of things a little better.

Now just to clear things up, I was not drunk in church, at least not on alcohol. But there was a drunk guy that wandered into Mass. I’m assuming he was a by-product of the concert last night at the Presidencia. Thankfully he was a very quiet and respectful drunk. You could definitely tell he was drunk though. His breathing was loud and labored. His walk and stance were a little bit wobbly. He weaved in and out of the pews a couple of times and had a couple of different seats before he finally settled on the same one for the rest of Mass. He also stomped his foot on the kneeler a few times. Oh, and at the end of Mass he walked up to the front pew and did a little dance too. To the credit of everyone there, they didn’t seem bothered or overly curious, with the exception of some stares by a few kids. What I felt kinda bad about was my initial reaction. I was worried that he’d be a distraction and that he shouldn’t be in Church. Wasn’t it Jesus that said he came to save the lost? Isn’t that one stray sheep just as important as the other 99? So for the rest of Mass I tried to pray for him instead of keeping an eye on him. Figured he could use my prayers more than my judgment.

Now that I’m a couple days removed from my fast I can also do a little bit of looking back on the experience. At this point I’m thinkin’ mainly of two things: guarding my growth and following my heart. When I think about the fast and all the graces I got during the fast, I’m amazed. The graces of chastity, patience, and perseverance are just a few that come to mind. I’m also thinking how awesome it was to have that sacrifice (hunger) to offer up. Now I’m realizing that I have to guard those graces. I have to continue to look to develop them. I’ve got to continue to look for sacrifices to offer up so that I have ammo against my weaknesses and temptations. Maintain the momentum. Yeah, that’s a good way to sum it up.

I’m also thinkin’ about the whole clarity thing, in regards to my mission post. When I started my fast, I was under the assumption that “clarity” meant figuring out which country I wanted to go to. Never did I thinkย  when I started my fast that it might actually mean figuring out whether or not I would even go back into the mission field. What does seem clearer is that I don’t think I’m at peace with going back out into the foreign mission field, at least not at this point in my life. Maybe later in life, once I’m married? Who knows…. My heart is ready to pursue friendship and see what develops. That’s alot easier to do if I’m stateside. Plain and simple, it’s what I want for my life. I believe it’s my calling and so not only do I want to pursue it, I HAVE to pursue it. I also don’t think it would be fair to mission partners and people that we’d be serving if I had a heart divided between missions and marriage. It seems wise to pursue the vocation of marriage with a single, undivided heart, and then whatever else is next will fall into place.

That being said, I pray for those of you who are also discerning your vocation in life, that you would be patient, persevere, and receive clarity and peace. Please pray for me too as I pursue friendship and ultimately marriage. Till next time, take care and God Bless!

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 24

Day 24 – Wednesday – 10/17/12

Had another opportunity to practice self-control last night and this morning. I continue to explore the cooking side of myself in little ways. Earlier this week I bought some peanuts because I wanted to make homemade peanut butter. Well, besides the fact that it is not as easy as I thought it would be, I also didn’t account for my hunger making it really hard to resist eating it. ๐Ÿ™‚ You’d think I would have learned by now. But I did sample a little bit last night and this morning and I’d have to say that I’m very pleased with the outcome. It’s not like what you’d buy in a jar obviously. I simply shelled the peanuts, stuck ’em in a blender, add a few spoonfuls of cooking oil for moisture and creaminess and voila! Only thing i’ll do different next time is maybe add slightly less oil and put some sugar too. And If pecans weren’t so much work to shell, I’d do pecan butter. But I promise you I do not have that kind of patience, especially not when I’m on a fast. It’d either be torture not being able to eat the pecans, or I’d be so dang hungry that I’d eat the pecans as soon as they were shelled. Alas, that’s the biggest dilemma I face in life right now, which means I’m VERY blessed.

To revisit what seems to be a constant theme of my fast, I continue to learn about areas that I need to work on, and I continue to be humbled by the generosity of others. What seems to be most on my heart at this point in my fast, is my somewhat negative tendency towards selfishness and self-preservation. I use things like “fairness” and “being broke” to try and justify my behavior. Seemingly little stuff like not sharing my personal stash of coffee or sugar. But my mission partners, probably unbeknownst to them, continue to humble me and teach me in these small ways. Me asking Luis to hold off on doing his usual email/internet stuff so I could watch a UL Ragin’ Cajuns football game on a live video feed. And he did it! I can’t say with certainty that I would also have done that. Albert, before he left earlier this morning to go to the States for a few weeks to do some fundraising (say a quick prayer for that), bought some Mexican coffee for me since he knew that we were almost out. Again, it seems small, but God is using these small things to powerfully touch and move my heart. And I know Albert will be back in a couple of weeks, but I’ll definitely miss him. We enjoy the energy and friendliness that he adds to the mix here.

And unrelated to the fast, but I just feel like talking about it, is my recent decision to rejoin CatholicMatch.com. It’s basically a relationship/dating oriented website for Catholics. I did it for awhile last year, and was taking a break. But I decided that I needed to give it another chance. It’s a great way for the Lord to be able to introduce me to like-minded Catholic women and to be able to enjoy their company, form friendships, and possibly more. I think too that this time around I’m a little more patient about the whole process, and a little more mature and realistic in my expectations and how I go about doing it. So far I have really enjoyed it. Having great conversations that I really, really enjoy, and I can see for sure that I’ve at least got some new friends already. We’ll give it some time and prayer to see if God blesses it to go any further than that ๐Ÿ™‚

Came across an AWESOME quote from Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) an encyclical by Blessed Pope John Paul II that I’m currently reading. “In particular, the life of holiness which is resplendent in so many members of the People of God, humble and often unseen, constitutes the simplest and most attractive way to perceive at once the beauty of truth, the liberating force of God’s love, and the value of unconditioned fidelity to all the demands of the Lord’s law, and even in the most difficult situations.”

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 18

Day 18 – Thursday – 10/11/12

Ah, that’s kinda cool. Today is 10 11 12. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s been an interesting day so far. Generally speaking, I’m feeling more of the hunger by doing the split-meal, which is great. Means I have more to offer up. Next week I’ll try the 3 small snack method, and maybe the following week 2 small snacks between lunch and dinner. This morning we did a communion service at one of our home visits. I love being able to feed others w/Jesus’ Body and Blood. Albert’s visiting the old folks at The Comedor.

I’m about to go start preparing the food I’m making for our missionary community dinner tomorrow night. Roasting some pumpkin seeds, attempting to make “dulce de calabasa” (lit. – “sweet of squash”), and some homemade chips. The “dulce” is actually more of a pumpkin than a squash, and I’m using my grandma’s fig preserve method to prepare it. Put some sugar in the pot and some water, then the pieces of pumpkin. Put it over low-ish heat until the water and sugar combine to a syrup-like consistency. The chips are easy to make. Bought some fresh corn tortillas yesterday, letting them dry out and get stale/hard. (I was told to do this by one of our mexican missionary wives.) Then fry ’em up! Lots of food related activities during my fast. How ironic…

Seemed like I had a few small things test my patience this morning. Heated my coffee too long in the microwave and caused it to boil over, thus losing a few precious ounces of Community Coffee, my favorite coffee in the world, of which I am running short and will probably run out before the groups arrive in November with more of it; bumped my head on a shelf in the office; got interrupted with whatever I was doing when one of the missionary couples knocked on our door. Very small stuff indeed. But it serves perfectly to highlight my struggle to overcome selfishness & not let small things get to me. I ended up stopping myself, recognizing that I was needlessly getting stressed, & offered up my fast/hunger as a prayer.

In regards to the missionary couple, for some reason I seem to always feel a bit impatient when they come over. Maybe it’s that whole “life on my terms, don’t interrupt me, I’ll come to you” struggle that I’m trying to overcome. Or maybe it’s because they need help with stuff more often than the others and that causes me to recoil and be impatient and selfish. But it’s odd that I’d react that way because they are very generous with us. Felt some more grumpiness again this afternoon. Not sure if it was because there was the usual noise and distraction at the prayer meeting we went to, if it was the hunger that caused it, or if the fast is peeling away the layers and revealing to me some things about myself that I need to work on. I definitely don’t WANT to be grumpy. Who in their right mind would want that? Regardless of the cause, I know it can be fixed, and that gives me hope (and a smile ๐Ÿ™‚ ). As I was reading Blessed Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Veritatis Splendor” (The Splendor of Truth), I came across a very encouraging Bible verse which seems quite appropriate for my situation: “As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” –2 Timothy 4:5–

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 16

Day 16 – Tuesday – 10/9/12

Well, the split-meal thing worked out ok, but I think I need to give it some more time to see if it makes a difference. I didn’t really notice much of a difference yesterday as far as feeling hungry is concerned. In fact, I think it actually lessened the hunger because even though I ate the same amount of daily food. I was eating more often. The only difference so far was that this morning I did feel slightly hungrier. Be interested to see if that lasts. Last night I regretted not having my daily mealtime at supper. Why? Tono’s family. ‘Nuff said. ๐Ÿ™‚ His family is from the town where we live, and they have been missionaries with FMC going back many years ago. They recently moved to another part of Mexico to be missionaries and are in town a few days to visit. We went over to their house after night prayer to visit because we didn’t know if we’d see them again before we went back to the states. Stupid gringo that I am. Shoulda known there’d be amazing Mexican food cooked by his wife Mari. 3rd stupidest thing to do in Mexico, is to visit Tono’s family while fasting. I did allow myself one flour tortilla and a few pieces of really good cheese some other lady made/brought. It really was good to see them though. I’m glad we got the chance to go, since we don’t know if we’ll see them again before we leave at the end of November.

On a more serious note, I realized two things this morning during my morning walk: 1.) I need to stop praying for humility and charity so that God stops testing me in those areas. Because we all know that when you pray for something like humility, charity, patience or whatever else, that he doesn’t automatically grant them to you. He tests you in those areas to help you develop in those areas. That takes work and time, and isn’t easy/painless. 2.) I’ve got a LONG way to go in developing love and concern for the poor. Obviously I don’t mean #1 literally, but it’s just hard to be tested like that. Number 2 is the truth for sure. This morning on my morning walk around the plaza in front of our house, I saw a lady I recognized coming in my direction. It pretty much looked like she was headed straight towards me. When I moved, she seemed to move in the same direction, almost as if she was actually trying to run into me. You know what I was thinking? “Lady, please get outta my way, stop trying to get in front of me. I don’t have anything (not true), PLEASE don’t ask me for anything.” Really cruddy stuff to be thinkin’. Especially considering that I’m a missionary, and I’m supposed to be an example of holiness and charity, and a servant of the poor. That lady was Jesus in disguise, and I walked the other way. :/

It’s like I still have that attitude of self-centeredness, that somehow I can’t be bothered. If it’s on my terms, I’m fine. But if it’s not, it gets me all twisted. That’s just it though, life and it’s needs and ministry opportunities are not “according to Sid”. They’re not on my time-frame, not on my terms. It’s GOD’s time-frame and terms that should be the guiding force. However, the paper-thin lining of this large gray cloud of self-centeredness that’s really obscuring the SONshine, is that God has blessed me to recognize that I struggle in this way. Now that I’m more aware, I can go to God and ask for his help.

I’ve also noticed one of the negative parts of being a poor missionary, at least as far as it pertains to me personally. It’s the whole notion of self-preservation or non-sharing. As a poor missionary whose funds seem to be perpetually VERY low, I find it easy to self-preserve and hard to share. After all, I don’t wanna give away everything and not be able to provide for myself, right? Well, that’s true but only to a certain extent. While I have to be able to provide for my legitimate needs, I also have to be willing to go out of my comfort zone to share with others and give out of my need (and not just my excess). This is the essence of true generosity. But I have not done this well, not at all. I have allowed myself to somewhat devolve into a justified existence of not really giving as much as I could/should, as well as becoming prideful and judgmental of those who ask for help, making it way too hard for them. All under the seemingly laudable guise of “prudence”. I’d like to think that the downturn in people who come to our door is because they know we aren’t just walking-talking wallets who give out cash willy-nilly. While that may be partially true, I suspect it’s more likely that they don’t want to have to deal with me. Even if you’re really in need, is it worth being humiliated or disrespected?

But as I alluded to earlier in this journal entry, at least I know this now and can begin to work on it. I also half-jokingly/half-seriously commented to one of my mission partners that I’m learning what NOT to do in order to fruitfully and effectively serve the poor. That’s why I wanna do a third year of missions. Now that I’ve finally arrived at the point where I know what to do and what not to do, I wanna be able to take that knowledge and put it into practice. The other thought that crossed my mind after all of this, is that The Bible says God’s power is perfected in our weaknesses, therefore we should boast of our weaknesses so that God’s power may rest upon us. If that’s the case, then my self-perceived self-proclaimed weaknesses make me one of the strongest people in the world! :p

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 10

Day 10 – Wednesday – 10/3/12

This morning I realized that even though I’m a “morning” person I can still be a little somber or grump-ish sometimes. It’s something I was reminded of this morning when we had to be at a 6am rosary at church. Another thing that’s been on my mind lately is how God changes us. It’s less of an instantaneous thing and more of a developmental process. Kinda like an athlete. An athlete doesn’t become good overnight with nothing but happy feelings. The excellence and satisfaction come after much hard work. I believe it’s ย the same in our spiritual life. When we pray for patience, he tests our patience in order to develop it. Right now I’m praying (as part of my fast) for an increase in humility and charity. I have not magically all of a sudden been filled with humility and charity while being able to practice them perfectly. Instead of giving me humility, he has first humbled me, in many ways. Instead of increasing charity in my life, he has first shown me where I fall short and do not practice charity. I think these are necessary stages to go through in order to truly receive those gifts and put them at the service of others.

Gold is purified and refined in fire. A metalsmith heats up metal from it’s cold, hard state until it is malleable. Then he hammers it into shape to create the beautiful final product. Another thing the good Lord reminded me of is realizing what we actually want when we pray for something. What we really want when we pray for patience is an easy day where we are not tested. What we really want when we pray for humility is not to be humbled. What we really want when we pray for charity is to feel good about having gifts to share without actually having to part with those gifts. And by the way, my self-control was tested this morning after the rosary. I had to sit and watch everyone else eat the delicious tamales Marta prepared yesterday. However I was able to take 3 of them home and eat them for lunch. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mother Mary and The Pyramids

Sunday – July 8, 2012 – 10:24pm – Casa de Misiones – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Well, it’s “only” been three weeks since my last journal, so I guess I’m gettin’ a little better with being more frequent. ๐Ÿ™‚ As you can see from my trademark time/date/place stamp, I’m back at the mission house. And boy did my time in language school go by fast. There are way too many small things that happened and that were good, and I can’t get to all of them. Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed language school. Enduring the difficulty of being in a place where almost nobody speaks your language, and having to learn a new one is not easy. There were times during language school when I was humbled by how much I was struggling, in spite of being self-proclaimed “good at languages”. But on my journey home from language school and here at the mission house I’m already starting to notice the difference. I’ve still got alot practicing to do, but at least now I’m somewhat functional in the language.

Even more than the places I saw and things I did, it was the people I met during my time in language school that really made the experience as wonderful as it was. Jeannie, the founder/director of ENCUENTROS language school, was the main reason I think I decided on that school. As an American ex-pat she was very easy to communicate with, prompt in her responses, and easy to work with too. All of my teachers/guides were super nice and helpful, and made learning a new language a pleasant experience. My host family, Mario and Marusa, displayed amazing amount of hospitality and patience. So many other friends that I made during my time there, especially my fellow students, made it something I’ll never forget.

Mike, Me, & his wife Ashley

Me and some of the students and maestras

The second most memorable event of the past three weeks was my visit to the pyramids at Teotihuacan. I tried to go visit them this past Wednesday, but ended up losing my wallet and didn’t have enough money to get in. I was sad not only for losing my wallet, but also because I had some so close yet so far. I could see the pyramid, I just wasn’t able to climb it. Only had enough money to get back home, and so I left with a sad, dejected feeling and thinking a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity had just passed me by. Well, once I got back home and got all my cards blocked and got some money wired to me, I started scheming. I told myself that Saturday on my way back, I was going to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Cathedral downtown. But then I got word from another student that Saturday there was gonna be a big protest of the results from the presidential elections from the previous week. Where? At the Zocalo (plaza) in downtown Mexico City right next to where the Cathedral is. Even if it was a peaceful protest, I didn’t wanna get anywhere NEAR that place. Then the next thought that came to my mind was “I’m not gonna let a lost wallet and failed attempt be the end of the story. I’m gonna go see those pyramids!

After I had calculated that I’d have enough time to do that and still be able to visit the Basilica before my bus left on Saturday night, it was settled. Just the sheer satisfaction of arriving at Teotihuacan Saturday morning, knowing that I had enough money to get in and see the pyramids was worth it. I really felt like I had conquered a setback and not let it get the best of me. And lemme tell you, my satisfaction and enjoyment level was much higher than it would have been on Wednesday. Another blessing of seeing the pyramids Saturday was that I made what Brad Pitt’s character in Fight Club would call a “single-serving friend”. You know, those really interesting people you meet on a flight or a bus ride. Have a great conversation and then you never see them again. This particular single-serving friend was Adam. Slightly taller, and lanky like me. Long hair and scruffy beard. That alone gave away his identity as a gringo, But as soon as I saw him reading a guidebook in English, I zeroed in. I needed to speak some English so I could unwind a little. Enjoyed our conversation and ended up hangin out and exploring the pyramids and the ruins together. Came quite in handy too when needing to take pics.

Just taking in the beauty of the place was amazing. Seeing those two massive pyramids. Exploring the many other ruins surrounding them. The beautiful weather. Loads of people. Dirt cheap and really cools souvenirs (en Espanol, “recuerdos”). It was good stuff. I count myself as truly blessed for having experienced it. Here’s a few pics for ya.

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La Piramide del Sol (The Pyramid of the Sun). It’s the 2nd largest pyramid in the world, only the pyramids in Egypt are bigger.

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La Piramide de la Luna (The Pyramid of the Moon)

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me and Adam, standing on the Piramide de la Luna, with Piramide del Sol in the background

The other amazing part of my day was spent at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. To me, this was equally if not more important than the pyramids. I’ve two amazing experiences at Lourdes and so I knew this was kinda like the Mexican version. The complex on which the basilica is situated is not quite as big as the overall size of the complex at Lourdes. It’s much more compact, considering that it sits in the middle of a city of 20 million people instead of in the quaint french countryside. It seemed like there were less vendors there than at Lourdes, but for some reason there was more noise, action, tourists, and just hustle & bustle generally speaking. Didn’t have quite the same feel as Lourdes. And maybe it’s not supposed to. It’s its own different place. Nevertheless, I still felt quite blessed to be there and knew it was a unique opportunity. Walked around the complex scoping things out. Saw the inside of the old Basilica and it was gorgeous. Typical old-school classic church design.The only problem is that because Mexico City was built on a lake, old buildings such as the original Basilica are in danger of sinking. In this pic it’s quite pronounced, as you can see, on the front left side.

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The new basilica is amazing too. It’s GINORMOUS! I think the seating capacity is in the tens of thousands. And even though it’s done in what I call the “post Vatican II” style of architecture, I still really like it. (usually tend to favor the more traditional old-school style churches). Flags of many different countries are hanging from flagpoles to the left of the altar. Massive organ to the right side of the altar. San Juan Diego’s cloak is smack dab in the middle, right behind the altar. It’s framed in a beautiful gold setting and is purty big. The story is that when the Virgin Mary appeared to him, her image was emblazoned onto his cloak as you see it today in the Basilica. Purty cool, huh? Got to go to Mass too, and it just so happened that it was a wedding Mass. Seems like weddings are pretty popular there. Got to see Juan Diego’s tilma up close from an observation below/behind the main altar. At the end of Mass I had some articles blessed for family members that I’m gonna give them to. Got to spend some time praying a rosary in the adoration chapel. All in all, it was a super blessed mini-pilgrimage and a great way to wind down my time at language school and a great way to pump me up for going back to the mission house. Here’s a few more pics for you to enjoy. Have a blessed and wonderful week! God Bless!

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World Youth Day 2011 Pilgrimage โ€“ Rome Sweet Home!

Friday – August 12, 2011 – 9:30pm – Domus Pacis/Torre Rossa Park Hotel – San Giovanni Building – Room #270 – Rome, Italy

Rome Sweet Home! Ladies and Gentleman I have crossed an item off of my bucket list. I have been to The Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica!!! It still hasn’t hit me yet. Too much in a state of awe right now. Probably the next time I see the Pope on TV is when I’ll realize where I just visited. ๐Ÿ™‚

So we started off our day at the Vatican Museum. Let me say that this was the first of many instances today where I had to deal with long lines and big crowds. Patience was something I had many chances to practice today. Most of what we saw in the Museum was neat stuff, but nothing that really gave me the wow factor. It’s probably because I’m not an art connoisseur. Anyhoo, I think we all know that the part I was most looking forward to was The Sistine Chapel. To see something so famous with my own two eyes was unbelievable. During our time in The Sistine Chapel I just closed my eyes and imagined Michelangelo and his army of artists creating that masterpiece. Or a roomful of bishops discussing things during Vatican II. Or a bunch of cardinals voting on the next Pope. After The Sistine Chapel we made our way into St. Peter’s Basilica. This was the real reason I’ve been so excited about this trip. The moment I first walked in was surreal.

It’s so stinkin’ huge and beautiful that words almost cannot describe it. We saw everything there was to see, but I’ll just list my highlights. ๐Ÿ™‚ #1 – The Cupola (huge ornate dome) which is right above #2 – The Baldacchino (sculpture-esque canopy thing above the main altar). The baldacchino is the one single image my mind was always first drawn to when I would see St. Peter’s Basilica on TV or think about it. Of course getting to observe the massive length of the church was amazing. They even have markers on the floor to show where the next 4 biggest churches in the world stop at. (The Basilica is the largest church in the world). The Holy Spirit window on the back wall was extremely beautiful. A huge blessing was getting to see another incorruptible, Blessed Pope John XXIII. Incorruptibles so far have been an awesome way of making the saints and their lives more real to me. After that was the famous Pieta marble sculpture (Mary holding Jesus’ body) Then, I got to see my first and most beloved Pope, Blessed John Paul II. I love Benny 16, but JP2 is my first love! ๐Ÿ™‚

After praying at his tomb, we celebrated Mass @ the San Giovanni side chapel inside The Basilica. Participating in The Mass @ The Basilica is something I’ll never forget. The our guided tour ended there. Me and one of the other pilgrims went to a souvenir shop down the main street (Via Conciliazione). Grabbed a drink after going to the restroom. Then we headed back to The Basilica to climb the steps to The Cupola. Got some great shots of it from the outside as well as alot of good scenery shots (including some of the big square/courtyard in front of The Basilica). Got to go inside the Cupola and THAT’S when I realized how big this church is. Yeah, it obviously looks huge from the ground up. BUT, to be inside the Cupola and see the people below look as small as ants, just blew my mind.

Then we made our way outside and took turns getting some good photos of each other with The Basilica in the background. Saw the big obelisk thing and got some good pics of that (it’s MASSIVE). Saw the Swiss Guard and their goofy outfits. The last noteworthy item of the day happened at supper @ the hotel earlier tonight. As we were eating, a group of WYD pilgrims form the states sat on the other side of the dining room. During a lull in the convo at my table, I look over to see them & who else do I see but Tony Melendez! He’s the Catholic musician with no arms that plays guitar with his feet and sings. I’ve seen him on TV and in books many times. I’ve also seen him perform at Abbey Fest in Covington when I was a seminarian. Ran to my room to grab my camera. Came back and talked with him and then got a pic with him. ๐Ÿ™‚ As you can tell it was an absolutely amazing/awesome day. One I’ll never forget. I’d better go get some sleep because tomorrow we travel to LOURDES!!!!

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I will refresh you with living waters

Wednesday – June 15, 2011 – 6:15am – Marian Home Chapel – Castries, St. Lucia

One of the challenges I’ve discovered in my first few months as a Catholic lay foreign missionary, is that even though you may have grown enough to the point where God can use you as his instrument, you still are not perfect. I also commented last night as our group of SSME missionaries did Night Prayer, that the Devil does not like what we are doing and will come against us however he can. (Our scripture for Night Prayer was the one that talks about being on guard because the Devil prowls like a roaring lion, seeking to devour its prey.).

Since we’ve been here, I’ve been reminded that I still struggle with a lack of patience, joy, zeal, and humility. And since a big struggle in the past has been chastity (or lack thereof), the Devil has been throwing those kinds of temptations my way. It almost seems like the more and more I strive to be chaste and holy, the more temptations are thrown my way, and the more lies the Devil tries to get me to believe. On top of that, it seems like now that I’ve achieved a certain level of victory over sins of the flesh, that “sins of the spirit” that I mentioned earlier (impatience, lack of zeal, etc.) come at me with a fury. (Disclaimer: Even though I realize I’ve achieved a certain level of victory against sins of the flesh, I realize in humility that I must always be vigilant and on-guard and humble so that I do not fall back into these sins again.)

So taking all of this into account, you can see how my beginnings as a foreign missionary, though blessed, have been challenging and frustrating at times. This morning, as I was about to take a shower before Mass, all of this was on my mind again. Even though the wheels are always turning in my mind, I was puzzled as to why God allowed this to be on my mind at THIS time of day. As I step into the shower, turn the cold water handle, and feel a blast of cold water hitting my head, I think about how good it feels after a restful but sweaty night of sleep. Then I hear the Lord tell me “I will refresh you with living waters”. A sense of peace came over me. Thank you Lord for telling me what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it.

(Interesting sidenote: Right before my shower, I was reading Mrs. Genie’s 2nd book, and was at the part where she relates the story of how God revealed to her what their family’s missionary newsletter should be called. Having just read that, and then having the experience I just had, I decided that my missionary newsletter will be called “Living Waters”. It just seems so right and that it’s the perfect fit. Praise the Lord!)

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Blows my mind to think that I’ve found grace in someone else…………

11-30-10 Tuesday – 9:57pm – In my bedroom in the trailer @ Big Woods (Abbeville, LA)

It’s almost ironic how prophetic our own words can be sometimes. I was sitting here, reading through a journal entry from earlier during Intake, and in it I was thanking God for all the struggles that would come. I did that because I knew struggles help me to learn, and grow closer to God. The Holy Spirit refines our souls as fire refines a precious metal.

My struggle lately has been in honoring my first-year singles commitment. Since me and (name omitted) have been visiting and praying together, we have naturally grown closer. And as you grow closer to someone you desire to spend more time with them. From a Christian perspective, the reason you want to spend more time with them is because God has allowed them to be a channel of his grace in your life. All of these things are true and good. However, I voluntarily made a singles commitment for one year upon joining FMC. After some community members drew our attention to the fact that we were not honoring our singles commitment like we should be, we realized that we’d have to take a step back. In order to be obedient and faithful, we now know that we have to limit our communication. As hard as this is, I know that it will be a source of grace for us during our first year of missions, so that we can focus on our mission work. Ultimately, I believe it will also serve to strengthen our friendship.

I’m also a little bummed out because (name omitted) decided to leave voluntarily for a few days. This past week she had a recurrence of a medical condition which was causing alot of stress for her. She felt like instead of dealing with it here and having it affect us too, that it would be best to go stay with her aunt. I recognize and appreciate her selflessness, BUT, it’s a little hard on me. When you grow close to a friend and suddenly they’re gone, it’s kinda sad. It reminds me of a bible verse from my entry on 9/17. 1 Corinthians 12 says “…if one member suffers, all suffer together…” I want so much and pray for her to be healed so she can follow God’s call to the mission field. The good thing is that later on in that chapter it says “…if one member is honored all rejoice together…” As I said earlier though, I think it’s a good struggle. Developing the virtues of patience and obedience will serve me quite well I think. It’s also good now to get used to not havingย  her around, because once we leave for our mission posts we won’t see each other for at least a few months and will probably at most only communicate once a week.

I have some other good news too. We (me and The Eckstines) finally got a response from Archbishop Revis in St. Lucia! He sent an email response to Mrs. Genie and asked her to send more info on me and The Eckstines. So we wrote about our formation experience, past ministry experience, and what skills and talents we have, as well as potential ministry we envision ourselves doing once we arrive in St. Lucia. What was also very encouraging was that the Archbishop seemed to be very eager to receive us. So, I’m going to step out on a limb here, without fear of “jinxing” myself, and say that me and The Eckstines are going to St. Lucia! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s such a relief to finally know where we’re going. I’ve also been blessed by my benefactors’ generosity. They have been very generous in both “treasure” and prayer. Since donations have started coming in, I’ve been graced to be able to do some thank you notes, because I sincerely want them to know that they are a blessing to me and that I am thankful. I also want to be able to in turn, support them by offering up their prayer intentions during my daily prayer time.

Oh wait…….What is that?…….I hear something. It’s my bed calling. ๐Ÿ™‚ So I bid you good night and adieu.

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So the other day I was in the confessional…………

So, yesterday I was in need of the Sacrament of Confession (what’s new, huh?). I started the day with plans to try and escape during my lunch break and hit up confession @ Cathedral. However, my dad called me and said “Hey, I got some missionary work I need you to help me with”. As a domestic missionary and future foreign missionary, I couldn’t say no, and I think it’s cuz he used the word “missionary”. Yeah, had he not used that word, I might not have been as inclined to help. But I think he knew what he was doing when he used that word. The great part about it was that besides helping do some maintenance and yard work for a family member, I realized my dad was associating what he does here in the U.S. as missionary work (praise God!). I also realized that he was starting to associate the word “missionary” with the word “Sid”. ๐Ÿ™‚

So I pull some strings with my other boss (mom), and leave the shop right after lunch. I go to help him do the work and without hesitation, but I still have in the back of my mind that I can be done early enough to maybe hit up afternoon confession @ Cathedral. As we work into the afternoon and I see how much we had to accomplish, I knew that Cathedral wasn’t going to be an option. This was mildly difficult for me, b/c when I need to receive God’s mercy in The Sacrament of Confession, I don’t play around. I go as soon as I can. But, I didn’t worry too much b/c I knew my delay in going to Confession was due to a worthy cause. I think it was also good because my eagerness to receive that Sacrament can sometimes cause me to get impatient when I can’t go right away. So,ย  I know the good Lord was teaching me patience. God was also putting it on my heart that the poor I will be serving on missions hardly ever have access to a priest or the Sacraments. It was God’s way of helping me to have compassion for them.

After we finished working, and ate supper at my parents’ house with my nieces, I get a hunch to drive to the Community of Jesus Crucified to see if one of the priests can hear my confession. Sure enough, Fr. Frey was more than happy to do it. After the confession, we chatted a little bit, and I asked him if they were still having night prayer at 9. He told me yes, and that he was gonna be saying a Mass immediately afterwards. Considering daily Mass time is at 6:15am, this was a pleasant surprise! In this small, humble little chapel, it was Fr. Frey, 3 other people & me. It was one of the most chilled, peaceful, relaxing, prayerful, and intimate Masses I’ve ever been to. Of course, Fr. Frey is so holy and dedicated and he’s a great homilist too, that any Mass he does is good. It was just kinda neat to see how I went from not thinking I’d get to go to Confession or Mass, to having both. Yet another instance of God loving me unconditionally and showering blessing upon me even when I don’t deserve it. In the interest of privacy, I simply ask you to say a prayer for this family member, for healing in all areas of life, and for a closer walk with God. Please say a prayer too that I would learn the guitar well (I’m teaching myself) so that I can use it as an evangelization tool in missions. Thank You & Praise God!

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