Posts Tagged With: Wisdom

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 25

Day 25 – Thursday – 10/18/12

Today is the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. Yes, that Luke, the one who wrote one of the four Gospels. And when I was praying morning prayer from The Liturgy of The Hours, the reading was from 1 Corinthians 15. The beginning of the reading is what really stood out to me: “Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and in which you stand firm. You are being saved by it at this very moment.” The fact that the Gospel has the power to be saving us at this very moment is awesome. Like I said, once I read that, I couldn’t shake it, couldn’t get it out of my head. Also, I finished reading Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) this morning. At the very end, Blessed Pope John Paul II quotes St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:17: we have been sent “to preach the Gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the Cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” This brings me particular comfort, as someone who has never been a very learned person, nor have I been eloquent with my words. But it reminded me of how Christ is the source of the power that flows when we preach the Gospel, not our own skills.

Later this morning, I’m gonna go do some home visits by myself. Luis left early this morning to bring a lady to the hospital in Saltillo, the nearest big city (500,000) about an hour away. As with all hospital visits, it might take quite awhile, so that’s why i’m flying solo this morning. Gonna try and visit the three home visits that weren’t home this week, and there’s one more we haven’t been to yet, can’t forget them either. Hopefully he gets back early enough that we can do our scheduled rancho chapel visits. This is our last week as a mission team to visit the ranchos, so we want to visit one last time, and say our “goodbyes” before the group gets here. That way, if we lead the groups to visit other ranchos instead of these, they won’t think we forgot to say bye.

Well, Luis ended up getting back alot earlier than I expected. He even got back before our normal scheduled time that we leave for home visits, so it worked out well. Our two rancho visits were also good. At our first rancho, Ojo de Agua, we had all the regulars and then some. And by the time we started, they had even brought food and some drinks! I was amazed. Some people might not think it’s a big deal, but these people are not exactly rich. And for them to even do something as simple as bring a 3-liter bottle of coke, or make some gorditos is a big, big deal. So what I decided to do before I started my talk was to put all of the food and drink on the altar. Then I explained to them about how it was not just something to eat and drink, but a gift and an offering to God. I also explained that it was an image of the early Church, when for the offerings of bread and wine, the people would bring the bread and wine themselves for the priest to consecrate into Jesus’ Body and Blood, The Eucharist. It was pretty amazing. Reminds me of one of our rancho visits yesterday too. Afterwards, an old lady, not much more than 4 and a half feet tall, no less than 80 years old, walks up to my mission partner afterwards and sticks a couple small coins in his hand. And I knew, I just knew instantly that I was witnessing the Bible story from Mark 12, where the widow put her two small coins in the collection, and it was a more generous gift than the many many coins that the rich people gave.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 20

Day 20 – Saturday – 10/13/12

Just a little tidbit from morning prayer I’d like to share. The second psalm had an introductory verse, Luke 21:15, which says “I will inspire you with wisdom which your adversaries will be unable to resist.” When I read it, it really hit me. So I started to think more about why that verse struck me as much as it did, and this is what I came up with. When we talk to others about our faith there are 3 factors that we rely upon. First is the personal, or subjective aspect of our experience. This includes stuff like our individual journey with the Lord and our conversion experience. It could also include specific ministry we support or are involved in, the church parish we attend, or our favorite Christian authors. Also, how we use all of this to talk about God, based on our own personal experience is part of it.

The second factor is the objective. This would include sources/influences such as The Magisterium, The Bible, Sacred Tradition, Church Documents, etc… Basically things that come from outside of ourselves, that will exist after we’re gone, which act as a constant and objective source of God’s truth. The third factor is the Luke 21:15 factor. In my experience the subjective aspect is helpful in some instances when trying to bring others into closer relationship with God, But it is not fail-safe. Inevitably you will run into someone who will not be able to connect with your subjective experience. This highlights the importance of factor two, the objective factor. But even though it’s a more reliable and steady source, neither is it fail-safe. The reason I say that is because also in my personal experience, I’ve seen that you can share all the teachings of the Faith as illustrated in the Bible, Church Documents, classes, books, etc… But if that person is closed-off mentally, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, or some other way, all the teachings in the world will not matter.

But, if your relationship with God is a Luke 21:15 type of relationship, where you have wisdom that noone can resist, then you truly have the most important piece. Because even if someone can initially discard your experience & the Church’s wisdom, someone who is truly in love with the Lord and full of God’s wisdom is irresistible.

Thinking back to last night’s missionary community dinner, it was another learning moment. I exhibited great control and restraint not to eat all day in order to observe my fast. But behind all that piousness was a not so pious motivation: I wanted to be REALLY hungry when we had all of that good food so I could eat alot. And eat alot I did. I was partially innocent, because when you’re that hungry it’s hard to pace yourself. For the most part though, mea culpa for sure! I wasn’t painfully full but I definitely felt very full. And because of the amount I ate (which included some sweets) coupled with the soft drinks I consumed then and for a snack later at night, I didn’t get tired until really late. Like 3am late. My sleep was a little restless as well, and I only ended up being able to sleep till about 8:15.

On the flipside, by staying up late I go to enjoy hanging out and chatting with Albert. My saving grace is that today is our weekly free day. So I will be able to take naps if needed. 🙂 Overall though the experience was good, because it gave me a deeper, more personal understanding of hunger, sharing, and self-control. One of the blessings yesterday was that my fast directly impacted my decision to help share food with a lady. I was tempted to say no because I didn’t have alot and was saving what I was preparing for supper. Yet, when she asked me, I could tell that she really wanted it and needed it. My next immediate thoughts were of my own hunger and how unpleasant it was, followed by the thought that there was no way in good conscience that I can send her away empty-handed. So not only did I manage to give her a small amount of my own food but one of my mission partners was able to give quite a bit to her.

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On the nature of Love & bein’ a country boy

Monday October 24, 2011 – 7:35am – Office @ Big Woods Mission – Esther, LA

“Learn where there is wisdom, where there is strength, where there is understanding, that you may at the same time discern where there is length of days, and life, where there is light for the eyes, and peace.”
–Baruch 3:14–

Last week I started getting the urge to do another journal entry. After all, it’s been over a month. (Where does the time go?) Thought that I’d get a chance Saturday during Desert Day, but I had a good distraction. A friend of FMC who attended our Life In The Spirit Seminar at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Lafayette stopped by. I had been corresponding with him to try and get a copy of Sarah Granger’s talk to him. Tried to get back to journaling later in the day on Saturday, but things kept coming up, and I didn’t wanna force it. Sunday I was gone all day. Caught a ride to 10am Mass in Richard with Kylie so I could hear Sammy and Lindsey give a talk for World Mission Sunday. Stopped at Candyland Cottage in Rayne after Mass, and then Uncle Donald’s after that.

Ok captain, time to land the plane and get to the point. So, two weeks ago, someone close to me told me she was doing a discernment retreat to try and get a handle on what God is saying to her about her next steps on her journey. Being the good influence she is, I was motivated to do one as well. I was discerning both missions and marriage. For missions, I was discerning my next steps for both long-term and short-term mission opportunities. For marriage, I was discerning the who/what/how/when factors. As far as my discernment of missions went, my desire to go to Asia at some point was confirmed. Seeing as how it looks like me and Luis might end up in Costa Rica, my time in Asia is looking like it will be with a short term mission group. I also discerned that if God puts me with a family again next year, that it would be with the Romeros. For short term missions a whole plethora of opportunities popped up. The Phillipines, St. Lucia, Ecuador, and Peru all came up. Already confirmed that I’ll be helping to lead a trip to St. Lucia in January. We’ll see what God does with the other three locations.

As far as the marriage thing goes, you didn’t honestly think I’d give you all the answers to that, did you? 🙂 It’s a private revelation from God sort of thing, where only the people concerned find out. However, I can say that I also did alot of reflecting on friendship and love, and the end of this entry I’ll include some of the nuggets of wisdom God gave to me. The realizations and revelations were a blessing to me and were proof of the Holy Spirit working through prayer.

Living out in the country has been really good for me. Yes, a big part of my season of growth right now has been due to community life. When you are surrounded by good people and a life of prayer, you WILL grow in holiness. But that’s not the only factor. Being surrounded by nature is good for my soul. Living in the peace and quiet instead of the noisy and fast-paced city is good for my soul. Seeing things like rice fields, swampland, horses, cows, pastures, fog, dogs, barbed-wire fences, & birds is good for my soul. Swimming in a muddy pond that is home to the occasional 3-4 foot gator is exhilarating…………….and good for my soul. Burning logs and branches is messy, and good for my soul. Killing wasp nests is good for my soul. Pounding on a pile of rock hard dirt, shoveling it into the back of a truck, dumping it into a hole, filling a wheelbarrow full of horse manure to fill said hole with “fertilizer” so grass can grow and thereby hold the dirt in place, is good for my soul. Riding my bike down a country road and seeing a beautiful oak tree draped with spanish moss is good for my soul. Working and sweating and getting blisters and sore muscles is also good for my soul. I love where God has me at right now. I love that I get to wake up and do this (and other missionary stuff) every day. I think perhaps the singular greatest blessing I’ve received since being back at Big Woods is being able to work with my hands and do manual labor. It has taught me so many things, including obedience AND knowing the satisfaction of a hard day’s work.

Lord Jesus, thank you for all of these blessings. Please continue to shower them down upon me. Help me to continue being open to your guidance. Bless us in all our missionary endeavors here at FMC, especially as Mrs. Genie prepares to go to China, and Intake prepares to go to Mexico.

Nuggets of Wisdom from The Holy Spirit about Love:

* be free to love * love unconditionally * draw close to me so that you can draw close to her * take a leap of faith * Friendship is not just a consolation prize, it is love through companionship. And marriage is the fulfillment of friendship * Instead of choosing good over evil because of an ideal, I can now choose good over evil because of someone. When I think in terms of people instead of ideals, love as a choice becomes real, and is easier to make * It should be a give and take, where you can savor the mystery * I need someone who brings out the best in me * I need someone who can bring me out of my shell * If you know the Lord has brought someone into your life, if you know you are drawn to someone because of a mutual love  for the Lord, then do not hesitate to grow close to that person! Do not be afraid that you are “deifying” them or “idolizing” them. Let yourself enjoy them and their company. Let yourself enjoy the love you give and receive. Draw closer to them by drawing closer to the Lord. That person is an instrument of God’s love in your life. To put them off due to a false sense of caution, humility, or discernment is a tragedy. By not putting your heart on the line and loving the person unconditionally, you risk losing out on the greatest treasure in life, LOVE.

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Vieux Fort Retreat – Week 1

Team Retreat/Mission Trip – Sisters of St. Francis Convent – Vieux Fort, St. Lucia – May 22-June 7, 2011

Since I will be journaling several times a week, and only posting the collections of these entries once a week as a single missionary blog post, I forewarn you that this entry is VERY long. But I do hope you take the time to read it and enjoy the pictures.

here’s the link to my picture album on facebook, you might need to copy and paste it into your broswer.

Day 1 – Monday, May 23, 2011 – 9:00pm – Upstairs Living Room

I’m sitting here, writing this at the end of our first full day here. We arrived here yesterday around mid-afternoon and spent the afternoon getting settled in, cooking supper, and discussing with the sisters some of the things we would be involved with while we are here. Supper was delicious, and I think God multiplied our pasta, because there’s no way I’d have thought one pan of pasta would be enough to feed 5 adults and 10 kids, but somehow it did. I also really enjoyed chatting with Sr. Francis. We chatted yesterday and today about all kinds of things: ministry, culture, missionary work, etc… It’s nice to have somebody that I can talk to and discuss things. After night prayer, me, Sister Francis and some of the kids played Rummikub, a board game based off of the card game rummy. It’s an opportunity we had because of not having as much access to the internet here. Back at the Marian Home, we basically have unlimited internet because of the wireless signal we get from the sisters upstairs. And although we try and limit ourselves in our usage of it, inevitably you devote a little more time to that instead of devoting a little more time to ministry and fellowship. So, that was a nice change of pace. I think it will also help me to appreciate the contact I do have with family and friends. Since I won’t have it as much, I’ll appreciate it more. I’ll also be better able to enter into the “retreat” aspect of our time here. Ended up getting to bed around 10 o’clock (early for me). That was also due to not having as much internet access, thus not putting off getting the rest that I need. And believe me I need it since I wake up at 4am. (4:30 back at the Marian Home). I have to wake up that early so that I can get in my personal prayer time and Scripture reading before I take a shower, get dressed, and then go to morning Mass.

Today was a really nice day too. Woke up refreshed, enjoyed my personal prayer and Scripture reading time in the chapel downstairs (which has a tabernacle with Jesus Body and Blood! 🙂 ), and then joined the sisters in their morning prayer before we went to 6am Mass. (It was actually a communion service and will be the same tomorrow, since the priest is out until Wed. morning). After breakfast and morning prayer, me and Mark walked with Sister Francis on her way to a lab appt. and then headed off to the Super J (grocery store chain) to get a few things. Saw alot of locals and their streetside “market” where they sold all kinds of diff. fruits, veggies, and other things they grow. Passed by the local independence monument, and kicked myself for leaving behind my camera, although it’s such a small town and easy to navigate that I’m pretty sure I’ll pass by it again. After we walked home, we decided on a whim to go to the beach for a short while, about an hour. Besides wanting to go to the beach, we wanted to investigate our beach options. Since Vieux Fort is literally at the southern tip of the island, when you look out the west side of the house, you see the Carribean, and when you look at the east side, you see the Atlantic. Today, we checked out the beaches on the Carribean side. First off, I gotta say that we enjoyed our time at the beach. The kids were able to swim and play in the sand. I was able to take a dip in the water a few times and got to lay down and catch some sun. However, it was definitely a missionary beach experience, not a ritzy touristy one. Our trek that led us to our spot on the beach led us past rocks, pieces of junk and trash (litter is a big problem in St. Lucia), and some less than ideal walking spaces for such a large group. One of the guys that gave Mark directions on how to get to our beach spot had the world’s largest joint in his hand. At one point on the path, we walked past a free roaming horse and her baby (forget what horse babies are called). And I’m pretty sure I caught the scent of horse poo several times while we were at the beach. Like I said, it was both enjoyable AND interesting.

Made our way back to the convent, did my daily workout and took a shower, and had a pretty normal remainder of the day. Aside from our normal routine, one of the things Sister Mary did was to introduce us to some young girls nearby. She’s going to have some of the older kids help the girls with tutoring and I think she also wants these local girls to have someone to visit with, as I’m sure they dont’ get that very often. Me, and 3 of the Eckstines also accompanied Sister Mary to a planning meeting for a fundraiser for the Vieux Fort Children’s Society. It’s a non profit that has been formed with the hopes of starting a children’s home. Currently, the only children’s home on the island is in Castries (in the north), so the kids down here that are homeless, abandoned, come from abusive homes, etc… have nowheres to turn to. The meeting was a perfect example of Mother Theresa’s saying “God calls us to be faithful, not successful.” Of course there were some minor details discussed that pertained to us, but 99% of our time there was spent watching and listening and doing nothing at all. I wanted to go because I had nothing else to do and wanted to spend my time as a missionary doing something constructive instead of being lazy. Another reason I was called there was to test my patience. I think too that aside from learning that and some other things from the people that were there, that hopefully they too were able to learn from our witness and presence. Came home after that, ate supper, and then did night prayer as well as some more retreat reflections and discussions.

The two themes that seemed to stand out today were Joy and God’s Guidance. Our scripture for God’s Guidance was 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5, & the passage that related to Joy came from our morning prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. The summary of my thoughts on God’s Guidance was “God will send us brothers and sisters in Christ who can strengthen our faith and He will direct our hearts to his love and Christ’s steadfastness.” In regards to Joy I wrote “If we welcome the Word of God into our hearts and seek after the right values, we will have abiding & eternal joy.” Then during our night prayer tonight 7 of us were a assigned a gift of the Spirit to read, pray, and reflect upon. I chose the gift of Wisdom, which is something I yearn for and which fascinates me. I found some great references (Wisdom 6:12-16 & CCC #474) and my nugget of wisdom was that “true wisdom comes from God & helps us to make good use of knowledge and understanding.” To demonstrate it, I came up with the following analogy: Knowledge is the certainty that the sun is bright and hot. Understanding is realizing it is that way because it is a gigantic ball of burning gas that emits heat and radiation. Wisdom is the ability to use that Knowledge and Understanding to warm ourselves, see where we’re going, or get a tan.

Day 2 – Tuesday, May 24, 2011 – 9:12pm – Upstairs Living Room

Really enjoyed the day today. The rain stopped us from taking a walk around town this morning. We were also gonna take a walk by the lumberyard to see what materials were available for the work we need to do on the blind lady’s house. Ended up staying home all morning and doing alot of journalling and some reading. Ate lunch and took a nap. Woke up, prayed the chaplet and then we walked around town just to explore and familiarize ourselves. Got to see the Indepence memorial monument. Then did my workout and took a shower before supper. Had two different times today that we did our “retreat” portion of the day. So far, I’m really diggin’ this retreat aspect of our time here.

The gift of the spirit that I had to report on was Wisdom. True wisdom comes from God (CCC #474) and helps us to make good use of knowledge and understanding. Reference Wisdom 6:12-16, Sirach 39, 2 Peter 1:4, Galatians 5:2-23, and Proverbs 2:1-15. Wisdom is being a good steward of God’s gifts in your life. Wisdom is know what to do with what you got. We need to be docile to the Spirit (malleable, flexible too).

Ministry reflection questions: 1.) What are my primary ministries? 2.)How are they going? 3.) Is what you’re doing what you thought you’d be doing?

1.) My ministries are primariliy visiting with the elderly at 4 different nursing homes, as well as having a ministry of prayer.

2.) They are going well. Both of them seem to fit well with my personality and gifts that God has given me. The necessity of both is evident. The elderly need someone to pray and visit with them. They need to know that they are cared for and not forgotten. My own life and spiritual journey, as well as the needs we encounter show me that my ministry of prayer is also important. I’m able to visit the Marian Home, St. Lucy Home, Adelaide Home, and Missionaries of Charity Home each week. Some of them I’m able to visit multiple times per week. On a typical day, my prayer ministry includes personal prayer in the morning (meditation, scripture, and intercessory prayer), Mass, grace at meals, morning prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, the Angelus, Noonday prayer, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and Night Prayer.  At first I thought that I prayed alot because I wasn’t yet busy with what God really wanted me to do. But then it occurred tome that I’m supposed to pray because without prayer, which is my connection to God, which is how I receive God’s grace, there will not be much fruit that’s born in my life and in the lives of all for whom I pray and with whom I am connected.

3.) What I’m doing is NOT what I thought I’d be doing. I thought I would be teaching in a school and leading a youth group at a church. However, i’m not disappointed that this has happened. I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy the ministries I do, and how much I’m motivated to do them.

Random Reflection:

I’ll spare you the details, but I’m in need of the sacrament of confession. It looks like that won’t happen until tomorrow since the priest is out ’till then. I’m so used to having this sacrament readily available as soon as I need/want it. That has been a huge blessing for me. On the other hand, being in a situation where it’s not as readily available really makes the priest shortage so much more real to me. It also gives me an increased appreciation for the priests we do have, as well as helping me to appreciate all those who support and promote vocations. And since this time of retreat and prayer cannot be put on hold until I’m able to receive absolution, I have to deal with it the best that I can. I’m forced to live with and reflect on the tension created in my life and soul that results from choosing sin over God. I have to live with not having the peace of heart and soul that I could have. It also increases my desire to restore right relationship with God. Another thing I’ve realized is that it has almost forced me to confide in the protection and intercession of the angels, saints, and Mother Mary to protect me and guide me until I can receive the sacrament of confession and not be at risk of dying in a state of mortal sin.

The whole experience has also humbled me. It seems like my thoughts, reflections, and journaling is the best it’s been in quite awhile. My first guess as to why this is happening is because whenever I’m not in a state of mortal sin, a subtle form of pride creeps in. I allow myself to rest easy. “It’s ok. I’m in God’s grace. No danger for me. I feel at peace. I like not having to worry.” Yes, God wants us to have peace, but the Bible also tells us that we have to always be vigilant on our spiritual journey. The moment we relax too much, lose focus, and think that we have “arrived”, that marks the beginning of our downfall. So in a paradoxical and ironic sort of way, I realize my need for God and his mercy while I’m in this state of mortal sin. And I think this has allowed me to receive the humility that has allowed my thoughts, reflections, and journaling to be what they have been thus far. And while I’m discussing sin, it also occurred to me how many of our battles with sin occur because of giving ourselves excuses to do so. Under the guise of false concern, a defeatist attitude, or some other weak reason, we give ourselves permission to indulge in sin by not fighting against it.

One of these excuses, which is itself a sin, is the sin of presumption. It’s the sin whereby we presume that God will forgive us for what we are about to do. In other words with this sin we say “God forgive me for what I’m about to do, because I’ve already sinned and I might as well do this too since I have to go to confession later anyways.” Besides selfishly distorting God’s grace and mercy for our purposes, this also means we’ve fallen victim to the lie that when we’ve fallen into sin, all hope is lost & there’s nothing good we can possibly do. True, we have separated ourselves from God by our own choice to sin. But, we are still his child and we also still have angels & saints as well as our own brothers & sisters here on earth to put us on the right track again and assist us in doing good works. This is one area where for the first time, I feel like I was able to make some progress. In spite of my intial choice to commit mortal sin, I feel like I’ve been able to choose not to add sin to sin. It feels really good. I have a hunch that if God’s grace has allowed me to advance to this stage, then I’m really close to conquering this particular sin permanently.

Day 3 – Wednesday, May 25, 2011 – 8:27pm – Upstairs Living Room

Today started off differently than I had hoped it would. Sister told us Sunday that we’d have communion services Monday and Tuesday since the priest was out, but Mass would resume today. Well, I get to “Mass” and out walks the same layman that officiated the communion service the previous two mornings. He begins by telling us that the priest missed his plane. I hope the priest is ok, and my second thought was I sure hope he comes back tomorrow. The rest of the morning was low key. Mark and Lora went to the resale shop run by the Vieux Fort Children’s Society and did some other errands. I stayed home and watched the kids. About 10:00, the little kids were being too noisy and woke up the baby. So, of course he’s cranky and not happy with the world. Ellie tried holding him, I tried. And when he was trying to throw a tantrum, I tried quieting him, even spanked him a couple times. He finally calmed down a bit, but I could tell he just needed to get back to bed. So, after imposing threat of “getting in trouble with mommy and daddy” to get the littles to be quiet, I began my odyssey of getting the baby to sleep. I don’t have much experience with kids, but this one sure does fight the sleep. I sang the chaplet. He calmed way down, and his eyes even got a little droopy. But, now and then, he’d get a little whiney. So I finally decided to lay him down in his bed. Had to keep a hand on him, not so much to hold him down but moreso to reassure him that someone was there. He’s one of those babies that always has to have some kind of contact in order to not be whiney or fussy when trying to put him down for a nap. So, after at least 30 minutes of tahtah-ing him and reading a book to pass the time, he FINALLY zonked out. Praise The Lord! The only other thing really notable about the day we me and Mark walking to the lumberyard/hardware store. Yeah, I know, that’s how you can tell i’m a missionary on retreat. When the highlight of my day is walking to the lumberyard! 🙂 We needed to check out their materials and prices so we could get an idea of what we were lookin’ at to be able to fix up that blind lady’s roof so it didn’t leak. Mark figured $200EC (approx. $70US), which is not bad at all.

My first spiritual nugget of the day was a quote from the book “Cursillos in Christianity: Leader’s Manual”. It states “….it is not likely that a person will love God unless he prays to him, unless he spends some time with Him as a person. It is the same with any personal relationship. Two people have to spend some time together or they will not develop a friendship and a love. The friendship will be broader than just the time they spend together. It will begin to penetrate all of their lives the deeper it becomes. But it is the time together that is indispensable for the forming of the bond.” I was drawn to this quote for 2 reason. First of all, it opened my eyes on how to approach my relationship with God. Do I really talk with God and spend time with Him everyday? Or do I just mentally acknowledge his presence, rattle off a few prayers, and call that a relationship? Second of all, it brought a whole new meaning to my discernment of marriage, and the process of friendship and dating that precedes engagement and marriage. It speaks to me of the importance of forming a friendship, a truly loving friendship that brings joy and happiness, and is centered on God. I also see in it the importance of devoting time to that special person. Of course, as a missionary, any friendships that I begin to form now will be long distance. But I feel like I can devote the time necessary to nurture these friendships, both in prayer and in conversation. Online chatting and video chat programs make it much easier to have some good face time. And in God’s time, I’ll have some actual face-to-face encounters as well.

Today’s gift of the Spirit was Understanding. During Ellie’s presentation of this gift, I came away with some good tidbits. I discovered that it is an intimate knowledge of God. Not just knowledge, but INTIMATE knowledge. (ref. Proverbs 2:3-13). Understanding will guard you. Understanding helps us to see what God is not; helps us to have a deep and abiding peace; helps us to be at peace with the mystery in life and to savor the mystery. I especially like the part about “deep and abiding peace”.

Well, I gotta go. Need to get MagicJack running on my computer so Sister Mary can make some phone calls home to the states. Then, gotta get back online and do some more researching of plane ticket prices.

Day 4 – Thursday, May 26, 2011 – 8:27pm – Upstairs Living Room

So, I’ve discovered that there are two reasons to not worry too much about what you’re going to do on any given day as a missionary. For one thing, it helps you to trust God and just be at peace with whatever he brings to you. It also saves you the trouble of saying that you’re gonna do something and then having to explain later why you didn’t do it! 🙂 Today was one of those days where I shoulda done that. It started off VERY well. I had been needing to go to confession since Monday, and as I mentioned earlier in the week, i was expecting Father to be back for Mass on Wed. morning. Well, since he missed his plane, I had to wait until this morning. He was very accomodating and agreed to hear my confession after Mass, and then even came over and met the rest of the mission team. We were also blessed to visit with Peter Fevrier this morning. He works for the Family & Life Secretariat here in the Archdiocese and was instrumental in getting us set up here with the sisters in Vieux Fort. Since the first day we arrived we were expecting him to come and visit with us. Today he finally made it here (he’s been VERY busy). I was thinking the whole purpose of him coming was purely practical. Maybe he was going to help us purchase supplies to work on Ms. Bibi’s leaking roof, or bring us food, or something like that. And while we did take a minute or two to briefly discuss practical matters, most of his visit was exactly that, just visiting. We must have spent almost an hour just talking about different aspects of pro-life ministry and things that are coming up soon. It was good just to sit there and visit with him, not have an agenda, and be blessed by his witness and enthusiasm. Later in the morning Mark mentioned that he and Lora would go by Ms. Bibi’s house sometime after lunch with the ladder to make some last minute assesments and then me and him would go to the lumberyard to get the materials we needed. Well, the rain changed those plans. Mark went to Ms. Bibi’s, by himself, without the ladder. And by the time he got back, the lumberyard was about to close, so we didn’t go. An unexpected blessing that I did receive came later in the evening. Sister Mary took me and Mark to visit a quadriplegic guy named Moses. He was probably close to my age. We briefly talked with his mom about building a ramp from their front steps out to the street, so getting him in and out would not be as difficult. Got to talk to him a little bit too. Understandably he wasn’t extremely talkative, but he wasn’t shy either. Sister even said that she was surprised at how talkative he actually was. I’m guessing he’s normally very quiet. Maybe having some guys there kinda made him feel at home and loosened him up a bit. I know Mark is the brains of the construction type of work, but i’m hoping to get a chance to just go and visit with him before we leave.

Our retreat time was good today, but we didn’t do quite as much as I thought we would. Can’t really explain why, except that it’s how rhythm of the day unfolded. In his homily this morning, father mentioned that “a wounded animal is the most dangerous. it’s desperate and has nothing to lose”. During our retreat time, Mark recalled this and posed the question to us: “how have we hurt or wounded each other?” Then as the discussion veered towards summer plans and what we would need for them to happen, Mark reminded us of Mr. Frank saying that we have to keep in touch with our donors, that way they can donate to us and so they can be blessed by our sharing and testimony. As Mark talked to the kids about whether or not they would be able to go to faith camp, he mentioned that if the Lord says no, then it’s a good thing. I echoed that by telling the kids how when God has said no to my heart’s desire (a loving relationship with a girl) he has blessed me with the incredible experiences of seminary and living life as a foreign missionary. Then I kinda reflected on all the wonderful things going on in my life right now, and realized that I am in a season of blessing. 🙂

Day 5 – Friday, May 27, 2011 – 9:34pm- Upstairs Living Room

Today was quite the day. Our team retreat this morning was really really good. The catalyst for the conversation was a question about how can things be improved. And that basically launched me and Mark on some really good reflections about what is so challenging about missions specifically for each one of us, and some of the things we hope to see happen in the next few months. It was very much a blessing to see Mark open up like he did, and Lora had some really good input too. I think it was the first time since we’ve been here that the three adults have really just laid it all out on the table. It’s not that we don’t like each other, but we’re at diff. stages in life and still learning how to interact with each other. None of us is particularly outspoken, so it’s hard for us to just come out and say stuff. We also finally got over to Ms. Bibi’s house to start fixing her leaky roof. She’s the blind lady I mentioned earlier in the week. After Mark assessed the situation, and even went there yesterday when it was raining, he couldn’t tell exactly where it was supposedly leaking from. So we bought some tar-backed aluminum tape, and covered the holes and seams that we could. We’ll probably go back in the next few days with another roll or two to see how much more we can do. Got some really good action pics and got a pic of me and Mark with Ms. Bibi too. Me and Mark also got the chance to visit Moses again. I hung out with Moses and chatted while Mark made some measurements for the ramp out front and went around the house while the mother showed Mark a few other things. It was really good to chat with Moses. I felt like just being there as a Christian and as a friend was helpful. Not sure how many visitors he gets each day, but i know i wouldn’t mind having visitors myself.

Had some good reflections today too. So, you know during Mass, the penitential rite where we confess our sins to God and community? (“I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, etc….”) As we were saying that during Mass earlier this morning, it struck me that I was just SAYING it but not PRAYING it. Then I got to thinkin’ about 2 things: 1.) How often do I say instead of pray? & 2.) Do I claim God’s forgiveness? What I mean by #2 is that this morning I noticed I was just saying the penitential rite instead of praying it. I wasn’t trying to claim God’s forgiveness and mercy. Naturally I then started reflecting on how many other times I’ve failed to claim his forgiveness. How much different would my spiritual  journey be if I did claim that forgiveness?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

“….loneliness is the greatest fear of humanity. In isolation people cannot be fully human. Our experiences of life confirm this. People inevitably form into groups, associations, communities, organizations. Some are temporary, some long-lived. They have a variety of purposes, but all prove man’s need for sharing and living his life with others.” –Cursillos in Christianity: Leader’s Manual–

Day 6 – Saturday, May 28, 2011 – 10:00pm- Upstairs Living Room

So the first thing in my notes said “My prediction for today is that either we have a cleaning/work day or a beach day. We’ll see what happens 🙂 It definitely wasn’t a beach day. The morning started out with me accompanying Sister Mary on a few errands to prepare for the St. Vincent DePaul Society meeting later in the morning. Had to pick up some snacks and a few things from the store. Came back just in time for the start of morning prayer. Afterwards I decided to hand wash my laundry. I wanted to handwash for a few reasons. First of all, when I saw the clothes that Mark washed in the washer the other day, some of the shirts had a ridiculous amount of what i’m guessing was lint all over them. Not a fan of lint, so that had me sold on handwashing. Second of all, I had some little packets of Tide laundry detergent that was specifically formulated for handwashing of clothes. I bought them back in 2008 when I went to Australia/New Zealand for World Youth Day and I figured I should use up some more of it. Third reason was that I needed something to do. There wasn’t really any other work for me to do, and I didn’t wanna be a complete slacker either. Also felt like handwashing would be a way to toughen myself up a bit and sacrifice the ease and comfort I was used to. So after filling buckets (2), suds-ing, agitating, wringing out, rinsing, re-wringing out, and hanging up to dry, I was done. Took me about an hour or so. Did alot of reading the rest of the morning. After lunch, I checked email and then took a nap. Woke up, prayed a chaplet of divine love for priests, took a shower, and then went back into the house. After supper we had evening prayer and our retreat time for the day. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my day.

(from earlier today) As I sit here, sippin’ on some coffee, doin’ my morning spiritual and scripture reading, a nice rain is falling. The doors and windows are open. A nice breeze is blowing. Several of the kids are sitting in the room, next to me, quietly reading. It’s one of those heaven moments 🙂

Oh yeah, one more thing. So as I’m sitting here, I’m wearing my Pope Benedict XVI shirt from World Youth Day 2008, and Isaac keeps pokin’ the Pope’s face and makin garbled goo-goo sounds. Methinks he likes the Pope! 🙂

Judging by the amount of good reflections I seem to be having and how having a small journal nearby makes it easy  to record them, I think I’m going to try and have some kind of little notebook on me at all times. Try to be more vigilant about rewriting these thoughts…

I was also doing some reflecting on friendships and relationships recently. I’m at that stage where my year-long singles commitment is almost up (Sept. 15th). And regardless of singles commitment or no singles commitment, I’m at that stage in life where it’s what I notice and think about quite a bit. My past relationships, my faith, and other life experiences have taught me alot about the opposite sex and how I interact with them and what to look for. One thing I’ve realized is that everytime I’ve acted unchastely or improperly towards or with a girl, it was simply a very misguided way of seeking true fulfillment. (If you’ve studied Theology of the Body then you’re familiar with this concept). It occurred to me that these actions represented my want and need to be able to open up to someone, for them to be able to see me as I am, and for them to open up to me too so that I can truly see them. I’ve also reflected on things I can use as a measuring stick for determining if I have a good connection with a girl or not. One of those is “Do I act chase with her, and do I also DESIRE to act chaste with her?” Chances are that if I don’t have unchaste desires or actions with her, then it means that she brings out the best in me, and that she’s a possible match. If however, I struggle with chastity in some way with a girl, then there’s a good chance that a good connection might not exist and that I need to be cautious.

I should be thanking God for my struggles because they show me what I need to work on. If these struggle were never made evident, then how would I know to correct them?

Romans 8:14-18

The gift of counsel makes us responsive to the enlightenment of God. It’s a good gift to pray for while at Mass, considering all the ways God enlightens us through the Mass.

When my mind wandered during our sharing, I used my ink pen to draw squares around all the freckles on my right leg.

You know, I kinda wish that one of the struggles I have right now, grumpiness, would disappear soon. No, I’m not one of those people that’s grumpy with the world. It’s just that being a missionary, even in a paradise like St. Lucia, is difficult. And i’m still working on trying to adjust to living with a family that has 10 kids. Sometimes adjusting to that plus dealing with my own shortcomings and struggles plus the normal stresses of mission life, it all makes me a little grumpy sometimes. I’m lucky that these kids being as good as they are, just kinda brush it off. But, they do notice it, and that’s what has me feelin bad. Whoever the patron saint of grumpy missionaries is, please pray for me! :-p

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Peace through presence (part 2)

Entry subtitle: God speaks to my heart through Scripture

8-7-10 (cont-d)

I thought the previous page would be my only entry today. When I finished, I really felt God calling me to read Scripture, specifically the prophet Isaiah. When I grabbed the Bible off the stand however, it was opened up to Proverbs 31, the passage about “The Ideal Wife”. As someone who aspires to the vocation of marriage, this made me happy and struck a chord in my heart. Here are a few verses from that passage that stood out: “When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life. Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel. Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her: ‘Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all.’ Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.” –Proverbs 31: 10-12, 23, 25-26, 28-31–

Isn’t it amazing how God speaks to us through his Word? And not just in a generic one-size-fits-all sort of way. He speaks specifically to our hearts: to our hopes, dreams, and desires. It’s moments like this that make me wish that I was already in the habit of reading Scripture as part of my personal prayer life. Reading God’s Word while I’m face to face with The Living Word, makes it even more amazing. St. Jerome once said “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Jesus, I don’t want to be ignorant of you. I want as much of you as I can possibly get.

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FORGIVE ME LORD…………..

Sunday 3/28/10 – 5:00pm @ CC’s Coffee on Johnston St.

I’ve been meaning to write in my journal for the past five days, but God kept presenting me with opportunities so I kept delaying it. I wanted to write about confession. I’ll spare you the details, but Tuesday I was in need of the sacrament of Confession. I couldn’t make it to noon confession @ Wisdom, so I tried going to Fatima after work, but the priest couldn’t make it. I know priests are busy, and he probably had a good reason, but this really frustrated me. It’s happened several times before. If it’s that much of a problem to be there, then don’t advertise that you will have confession at certain times on certain days. Anyhoo, so I pass by Wisdom on the way to Ms. Laura’s to see if I could catch Fr. Chester for a minute, but he was out on the road going to an appt. My chances for going to Confession were not looking too good. After our Coreteam meeting, I go back to Wisdom, catch the end of the Tuesday night Mass. I talk to one of the staff members to see if there was any chance I could pull Fr. Chester aside real quick to hear my confession. Instead of some nice, charitable, generic, non-commital answer that would encourage me to make the decision myself, she came at me with a stiff-necked response of “there are scheduled times when the priest is available.” No Duh!!!!! You think I don’t know that? Again, I didn’t expect her to ask the priest for me, but at least have some kind of decency and compassion in the way you respond to me. For God’s sake, I’m trying to restore a connection of grace between my soul and God.

You better darn well make that more of a priority of yours if you work for the Church. At this point, the disappointment was really starting to set in. Then I get the idea to go to the Community of Jesus Crucified to see if Fr. Frey or Fr. Champagne were there. Surely, they, of all people, would be available. Well, as my luck would have it, neither one was there. They were out and about on other priestly duties. At this point, I had just about resigned (consigned?) myself to not receiving the Sacrament. So I’m headed back home on Pinhook Road and I pass by St. Patrick’s. I see a car at the rectory, so I pull in to see if the lights are on. Sure enough, they are. For a split second, I ponder whether or not to disturb the priest. I decided that a slight inconvenience on his part is worth it, if on my part, my soul is restored to God. So, I knock on his door, and after I explain my situation, he mutters something about the situation being ridiculous (not joking, wish I could say I was) and then talks about how he just heard confessions for 2 and a half hours at a penance service, which was “scheduled to give people the opportunity to receive the Sacrament.” Well you know what, I couldn’t make it. Furthermore, ministry doesn’t always happen neatly on our own schedule. Sometimes *GASP!* you have to answer a knock on the door at night, after you’ve already returned home and become all comfy and relaxed. To the priest’s credit though, he allowed me into his house, heard my confession, and absolved me of my sins. As I finally achieved my goal of restoring my soul to God, I reflected on how I got to that point.

I deliberately chose to separate my soul from God by my selfish action. But I knew right away that I wanted to restore my soul as soon as I could into God’s grace and life. As I was making my attempts to go to confession and failing, I wondered if I was being impatient, and maybe if I should just wait until the next day. However, I realized that I can’t stand it when I’m separated from God. I also realized that we are never guaranteed our next breath, and that I might not live to see another day. That being said, I didn’t want my last day on earth to be one that was marked by giving up on trying to reconcile my soul to God. That’s why I drove all over town and went through all that trouble. And you know what? It was worth it. There’s nothing, and I mean NOTHING like experiencing the burden of sin being lifted from your soul through the sacrament of Confession. I felt like that whole series of events mirrored 2 separate bible passages. One was about the woman who kept after the judge to grant ruling on a decision she was seeking. She kept after him to do it. Finally, even if not because he desired to do it, he granted her a ruling because of her persistence. The other bible passage is Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” In other news, I feel like God continues to bless me as I journey towards my vocation as a foreign Catholic lay missionary. Right now I’m trying to live my life by learning to love where God has me at the moment. He is using this time leading up to my missionary training to teach me about patience and obedience.

I believe he’s also teaching me docility to the promptings of the Spirit. There have been so many opportunities in the small, normal, everyday circumstances for me to be a missionary. Sometimes, I’ve responded well, sometimes I haven’t. It feels like I’m doing an ok job in giving of my time and money. I’m not doing a good job of praying with others or having personal prayer time for myself. Being a missionary at work is really hard too. How the heck do I be Christ-like in a place I don’t want to be, and neither do I feel called to be there. However, even if it’s not my permanent calling, it’s where i’m called to be right now. And that means I need to be a missionary there. I know that’s what God wants, and if Jesus can do what he did, then surely I can receive graces his sacrifice to do the difficult things in life that I must do. I praise and I thank God for working slowly but surely in my life and helping me to grow and become a better person. I thank God for the many small victories and countless blessings in my life. I pray for the grace to be able to give my life to God and live on his terms and not mine. I pray for the grace to be able to TRUST him. Gosh, I know this sounds random, but I really do miss the people that were on the trip to Mexico earlier this month. Lord, help me to let friendships and relationships develop under your guidance, according to your plan, and on your timeframe. Thank you Lord for the many blessings of my life that have helped me to grow closer to you. Help me to bring others closer to you. Amen! Glory!

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MISSIONARY JOURNAL – MENDING FROM BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS

This first part of my 12/14 entry is 1 of 2 pages. Some of it may not seem like it has anything to do with my missionary journal, but i can assure you, anything that has anything to do with my personal growth (or lack thereof) is relevant to my missionary journey. Also, NAMES have been omitted to protect the privacy of others.

12-14-09 Monday / 6:15am @ CC’s Coffee on Johnston St

News to report! For the first time since we broke up back in the end of July, me and (name omitted) actually talked on the phone for at least 15 minutes and had a real conversation. It was a really huge blessing for me. Just knowing that we could talk as friends and knowing that life was treating her good was a good thing for me. The low points of the conversation were A) if felt at times a bit awkward and forced b/c it had been so long since we had talk and b/c the last time we talked for more than 30 seconds on the phone was when we had the “break-up” phone call, & B) I realized I’m still getting over her. It’s not like I WANT to not get over her, it’s not like i WANT to wallow in self-pity and regret. I truly don’t.

I want to recognize the blessing that it was and be able to move on. Sometimes I even feel like I idolize this problem (as I’ve done with other problems) by focusing so much on this “being unhealed” and struggling with it, that instead of receiving healing and moving on I end up using it (the struggle) as a way to hold on.

Back to positives, she asked again about my discernment of joining FMC for Intake 2010. It felt good to have a friend ask about me going into missions. Not to sound egocentric, but I love the opportunity to talk about it and share with others. It helps me to get excited and also by talking about it, it helps me to further discern and evaluate. The main points I touched upon were that A) I didn’t want to work at the shop and take it over, and B) going away on missions would help me to let go in faith and trust that God, on his time, will bless me with the desires of my heart. Last night we didn’t have a lifeteen meeting, and since I had seen my fellow coreteam members Friday and Saturday night for the Christmas parties, I decided to go to 6pm Mass at Wisdom.

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