So my wife asks me to run home because my daughter may have hurt her foot…..

August 8, 2014

They played an April fools joke but in August! When I arrived they had opened the letter from the archdiocese and read me aloud my acceptance to the diaconate program!  Once I got over my daughter not being hurt, I was ecstatic about the acceptance! As I explained in my most recent blog, this is a calling I have felt for most of my adult life.  My wife Maxine also decided to make a big commitment to her faith by agreeing to join the Archdiocese Adult Lay Ministry Program.  This will help us both continue to grow in our faith and as a couple.  Both my daughters, Cami and Isa are very happy for me as well.

I know this new path will be challenging – but also know the many blessings that will flow.  I have been blessed with a wonderful prayer community.  My Emmaus brothers, fellow Knights and the couples of the marriage encounters have all been a source of inspiration for me. Their prayers have strengthened me and will continue to do so.   I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of my mentors Deacon Flores and Deacon Fleitas.  They too have been inspirational examples of Catholic men.  My pastor, Father Michael Davis, wrote a beautiful recommendation letter for me and I hope to make him proud as well…..

I start on Saturday, September 13th.  Stay tuned as I update my blog while I go through this wonderful new challenge!


The Diaconate chooses you……

July 27, 2014

In order to put into perspective my walk towards the diaconate calling, it’s important to let you know a bit of the background leading to this decision…. I want to share my walk during the  5 years the diaconate program takes with you and promise future postings will be shorter!

In my late teens I experienced what I thought to be a strong calling to the priesthood.  While growing up I had been blessed with great  examples of Catholic priests.  At church, at school and even at home, I interacted with men that gave their life to Christ.  I was guided in my discernment to the priesthood by a wonderful priest with a deep spirituality.  I announced my decision to the world, including my parents.  After a few months of discernment I realized the priestly life wasn’t for me.   I remember like it was yesterday telling my father I had changed my mind.  He took it stoically but am sure at some level it must have been a disappointment.  I found out later in life my father and uncle had anointed my future as a priest when I was first-born!

I was fortunate to find a life partner that had a similarly strong yearning to walk in the Lord’s path.  Yes we struggled and had our valley’s and very dry desserts, but our faith always gave us the fuel to keep on trying to figure out how to grow old together with the Lord.  After our first daughter was born, Cami, I felt another tug towards a deeper calling.  I applied for the diaconate to become an ordained Catholic deacon.  The powers to be at the time were much wiser than I and realized I was too young, 35 years old, and my daughter was too young for the demands of this calling.

Throughout the years I was blessed because of my involvement in the Emmaus men’s ministry, the marriage teams in our parish, the Knight of Columbus and the Retrovaille marriage experience.  Retrovaille gave us the tools necessary to avoid a difficult patch  in our marriage that could have led to divorce.  We now have another beautiful daughter named Isa.  The girls are now 15 and 25 respectively.  A few years ago I again felt the calling to a more devoted life in my faith.  With a lot of enthusiasm and sure that the third time is the charm, I called the archdiocese office to apply for the diaconate program once again.  It turned out to be an anti-climatic effort. The archdiocese was in the middle of a top down review of the entire diaconate program!

As I mentioned earlier, I am blessed to be involved with a great group of ministries.  I threw myself into serving the best way I knew how.  This past May, speaking to one of the deacons at our parish, he mentioned the program was back on and that the director of the program had asked the deacon to contact me because he had misplaced my information! This time I really felt it was going to happen.  I prayed al lot and asked my wife to be part of the decision-making process during my discernment.  The archdiocese, to their credit, makes sure the spouse is a big part of the decision-making process.  In fact, one cannot even begin the program without her written approval.  Her approval is required after the first year of the aspirancy program, then again throughout the 5 years.  Before the ordination, my wife has to sit down with the archbishop and give another written permission for me to go ahead with the final step.

The discernment process brought a lot of second guessing because the program is so time intensive that I would have to stop participating in all the ministries I am involved in.  My wife and I are in the best place we have ever been in our marriage and that is because of our working together in the marriage parish teams and in Retrovaille.  I would now have to give those up somewhat, as well as giving up my service to my beloved Emmaus and Knights.  You see the diaconate program is 5 years long.  The first year is called aspirancy.  During that year, all involved,  my wife, my pastor, the archbishop and myself have time to evaluate fi this is really for me.  Then you start 4 years of continued education and training leading to your ordination.  The 5 years involves:  one weekend a month at the major seminary in Boynton Beach, every Wednesday evening and 3 Saturdays a month at the minor seminary at St. John’s Vianney in Miami.  Intense research and projects are involved during the time one is not in class.  As you can see, this leaves little tine for family, let alone other ministries.

My wife and I spent an entire day at the beach with a deacon and his wife talking about the challenges of the program.   Nothing was whitewashed.  It is a very intense commitment and it will take me away from family life.  But the blessings bestowed are far superior to any of the negatives that may be involved!  After we left the beach that day we were convinced we would embrace this calling together and enthusiastically!  The application process involved a recommendation letter from my pastor.  I was told that was the determining factor as to whether you were accepted or not into the program.  I was very blessed to have received a strong and heartfelt letter from my pastor to the archbishop.  I had the entire packet into the archdiocese by June 1st for a July 1st deadline. And then the waiting began!

By July 20th I hadn’t heard a word and the Devil was having a field day with my psyche.  I began to fill my mind with second guessing and self-doubt. I couldn’t believe how much the uncertainty of not knowing if I was selected controlled my brain.  Thoughts about not hearing anything from the archdiocese filled me 24/7!  I started thinking who was I kidding wanting to become a deacon, maybe there are better candidates and I was especially bothered that I told so many people! What if they said no, I wasn’t prepared?  What a  man of great faith! As God usually does with my life, the moment I put the entire process in His hands and trusted….I was called by the deacon in charge of the program to tell me I was an excellent candidate and that the archbishop would have the final say on August 1…!

So…. I will continue to pray and be thankful that the Lord may want me to serve in a deeper capacity as a deacon and if He doesn’t it is because there is so much more work for me to do in my current ministries….Stay tuned!

The first martyr of the Catholic Church is believed to be Saint Stephen; the first ordained Deacon of the Church!

St Stephen the Martyr First Deacon of the Church

 

 

 


33 days to Morning Glory

February 6, 2014

Our non-Catholic brothers are missing out on one of the greatest blessings we enjoy as Catholics, our Holy Mother.  One tends to over hear the oddest comments in busy restaurants.  The other day (not meaning to eavesdrop but she was so loud! ) I overheard a diner state:  Oh Mary is no big deal; she was just a vessel… That comment shook me to my core.  She was just a vessel the same way Jesus was just a prophet!

On October 16, 2002, the 24th Anniversary of his election as Roman Pontiff, Blessed Pope John Paul II signed the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (the Rosary of the Virgin Mary) that presents the Rosary as an outstanding way to contemplate the face and mysteries of Christ. He also proclaimed a “Year of the Rosary”, which extended from October 2002 to October 2003.

For 900 years there have been three series of five mysteries in the Rosary: the Joyous (the infancy of Jesus), the Sorrowful (the Passion of Jesus), and the Glorious (Christ and Heaven). Given that in these 15 mysteries prayed up until now the great events of Christ’s public life were not contemplated, in the new apostolic letter the Pontiff adds five mysteries, which he calls the “mysteries of light”: 1) Jesus’s Baptism in the Jordan, 2) His self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana, 3) His proclamation of the Kingdom of God with the invitation to conversion, 4) His Transfiguration on Mount Thabor, 5) His institution of the Eucharist. (http://www.michaeljournal.org/rosary.htm),

Mary was the chosen one.  Just as the prophets before and the disciples afterwards.  Mary was chosen by God to give birth, raise, nurture and be part of the death and resurrection of our Lord.  Mary has been present through various apparitions being there to console and prod us in our faith.  Father Michael E. Gaitley has published a treasure of a book allowing us to learn more about the Holy Mother and to consecrate ourselves to her.  33 Days to Morning Glory has 33 short daily reflections.  These reflections are from devoted Marians including Blessed John Paul the II (to be canonized April 22, 2014).

There is one particularly powerful reflection in the book.  It hits home because we have a daughter living in Los Angeles that we are constantly praying for.  St. Maximilian Kolbe calls us to put our prayerful petitions in the Holy Mother’s hands.  Then he goes a step further.  He tells Her to use his prayer and sacrifices and use them for someone else in more dire need.  Having full faith that Mary will get to our petition when it is really needed.  That has helped me immensely.  Even though we fear for our daughter’s safety I now put those fears in Mary’s hands.  I pray to Her to first help those girls more in need than my daughter with the full faith of knowing my daughter will be protected when need be….. This reflection has brought great peace to me.

I was blessed that my father was a Marian devotee and hope my example awakens in my daughters the same love of Mary.

33 Days to Morning Glory

Mary Queen of Peace, pray for us!


Iphones and teens, not always a good combination…..

February 1, 2014

The ostrich effect is the easiest parental theory to implement. There are so many heart aches avoided, so many disappointments averted and peace reigns in our home. It’s just so much easier to look away. It’s so much easier to hide under the pretense that teens need to be trusted. It’s just so much easier not to pry…..

But my wife, bless her heart, pries, sticks her head out of the sand and pokes, pokes and pokes some more. She casually mentioned to a close friend the other day to check her daughter’s texts and Instagram in order to be aware of what her daughter is being exposed to. Her friend responded: But you need her Iphone code to do that!

I have a friend that says when everyone around you seems crazy, maybe it’s you that’s really crazy! My wife and I are in the minority regarding monitoring Iphone use for our teen. The Iphone is a wonderful entertainment piece and a very efficient business tool. However, it is also a conduit to all that is dangerous with the internet.

We have been flabbergasted with the texts we have read and the pictures we have seen from girls we thought were prim, proper and respectful. Many texts each other with regular use of profanity. They send provocative pictures that would destroy their reputations if posted on one of the many social media sites available.

They seem innocuous to the ramifications that could come about with their Iphone activity. Colleges are now scouring social media to find out more about applicants. Employers are doing the same. Schools have joined this effort to monitor for inappropriate behavior. The consequences are dire.

I know it’s easier to look away, but we MUST get involved. No, a young teen has not earned the right to be fully trusted. No, they do not have the life experience to properly asses a situation and deal with it accordingly. We are abdicating our parental responsibilities by turning a blind eye to the unfettered power of the internet.

You pay the Iphone bill, you have ALL the right to monitor its use. A few tips:

  • Get the code and forbid them to change it without giving you the new one.
  • Take the phone away for an hour at a time while at home.
  • Do not allow the phone in the room while they are sleeping. Group chats keep them awake for hours!
  • Do not allow the phone at the dinner table. Today’s teens have lost the art of looking people in the eye and holding a conversation.
  • Use the taking away of the phone as a way of prodding the type of behavior you seek from them. Take it away for a week so you will see the attitude adjustment that creates!
  • On a weekly basis take the phone away without forewarning. Look at the text threads, look at Instagram and Twitter. Search her camera roll.

Parenting is a full-time job. Teens need parameters now more than ever.  They need our life experience to teach them how to deal with the constant moral threats they are receiving.  At the end of our life, we will partake in the ultimate exit interview and final entrance exam! We will be asked what we did as parents to bring our children to God. What did we do to warrant the beautiful blessing we were given? How did we protect them from harm?  Did we pry and poke?

I for one do not want to fail that exam! Eternity is in the balance…..

Mother Mary pray for us……


Empowering teens versus abdicating parental guidance….

January 27, 2014

My wife and I already raised one daughter through adolescence, high school, college and graduate school. Every now and then I beat myself up over what I could have done different.  But one thing is for sure, we did the best we knew how to do and that included a lot of prayers and discernment on what was the best for her. I will never criticize a parental decision concerning their children – except when that decision is given over to the teen to make.

I am convinced teenagers desire structure, guidelines and parameters.  We have been entrusted by God to raise these precious creatures.  Sometimes, in fact many times, that means making tough and unpopular decisions on their behalf.  Choosing a high school is one of those life changing decisions.  I was flabbergasted by otherwise caring and intelligent parents and how they turned such an important decision over to the hands of a 13-14 year old.  Since when do they know at such an inexperienced age what is best for them?

I heard time and time again:  Well she wants to go to this high school so I guess it’s OK with me…… The other day I overheard a parent telling their teen:  It’s OK if you want to leave your current high school to go to another… The imortant thing is that you are happy….. Teenagers are not equipped to make life altering decisions.  Especially when there is a parent or two, with much more life experience available, to guide and give advice.

Imagine allowing a teen to leave a high school because it may be perceived to be  too difficult?  What happens when the next one is “difficult” as well?  Move them again??!!  One of the few exceptions I can think of is when the teen has an exceptional talent.  There are high schools tailored to specific talents.  I can see a parent collaborating with a teen on attending a high school because of a passion and/or talent the teen may have.

We have to be careful with the slippery slope of giving teens too much latitude on decisions regarding life.  We are on this Earth as parents for a reason, if not, then why are we parents?  Just leave the teens alone to go about life?  They will have ample opportunities to make mistakes and correct the same, when they become young adults.  In the meantime they rely on us to guide, correct, discipline, act as cheerleader, support and pray; to guide them along until adulthood.

May God give us the patience, wisdom, discipline and Grace to realize we have been given a great responsibility and blessing that cannot be abdicated.  It is ours to lose, in more ways than one.

Our Lady and St.  Joseph, parents of our Lord, pray for us!


Governor Huckabee and a women’s libido…..

January 26, 2014

Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on Thursday said, “Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything that anyone else can do. Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war on them. It’s a war for them.”

He added, “And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government, then so be it.”

Then the Twitter firestorm began, lead by erroneous comments from the liberal press…..NBC’s Kasie Hunt and CNN’s Dana Bash immediately tweeted: It was Huckabee’s opinion that women couldn’t control their libidos!  By the time Hunt and Bash (what great liberal journalist names!) apologized, it was all over the mainstream press… . Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood called his remarks “chilling”.   And she never heard those remarks directly from Huckabee!

Jaqueline Alemany from CBS News stated:  Many Republican leaders are concerned about Huckabee’s remarks”…. Since when can one trust what anyone from CBS says?  Oh yea, not since Dan Rather fabricated a story on former President Bush (43).

Sharon Day, a Republican National Committee co-chair,  emphasizing the importance of winning back women for the Republican Party saying, “Women are not a coalition, we are not a group to be outreached to — we are 53 percent of the vote.  And winning back they are.  That is why the Democratic Party liberal press (before Fox that used to be a redundant statement) are so concerned with likable Republican leaders such as Mike Huckabee.  He scares the beejesus out of them with his folksy style and religious views.

Huckabee defended his remarks Friday night telling Fox News, “In fact everything I was accused of saying, I was actually saying the polar opposite. This was an affirmation of the intelligence, of the capability of women.”  Sorry Governor, as long as the Liberal press runs scarred, the disinformation and campaign to destroy will continue…. Bring on the mid-term elections…. the liberals are running scared!


To blog…or not?

January 22, 2014

Two Catholic men who I admire because they not only talk the talk – but walk the walk, are avid bloggers.  I started blogging last year with much enthusiasm, then little by little came to a stop.  I read their blogs with great enthusiasm and realize it is number one, a cathartic experience for the blogger and number 2, a great way to let others know they are not alone!  Thanks to these two men and hopefully for the greater good, I will restart the blogging engines….The Catholicmanblog is back!


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