One semester done….

December 30, 2014

Like in all good things in life…they go by fast when you are enjoying them! When I was first told the diaconate formation program would take five years, I thought I would never get done. A brother Deacon gave me a major moment of clarity.  This “program” is a life long walk. The first five years are only part of that walk, not an ends to a mean.

I always admired my brother deacons. I do so even more now.  My closest friends tell me that because of my many faults, my five year program will actually take me ten years to complete! Actually, the first year is one of discernment.  Its called the year of aspirancy. After the first two semesters the aspirant applies for formal candidacy.  If approved, the candidacy takes the next three years.  After that, the archbishop has to accept the candidate as an ordinant; this final year gets you prepared for ordination.

My wife has been and will continue to be a partner in this walk.  Throughout this process the archbishop stays in constant contact with my life partner.  We were told from the first step that she is my closest and best advisor.  I have also been blessed by a wonderful spiritual advisor: Father Damian Flanagan.  We also chose a deacon couple to mentor us throughout this process: Deacon and Mrs. Raul Flores.  Deacon Roberto Fleitas and his wife Nancy, continue to be  an inspiration to Maxine and I throughout this process….

I know the Lord will rain blessings on us throughout this process.  I also understand the Evil one will do all possible to keep me from getting closer to my Lord.  Even though there are and will continue to be trials, at the end of the process, the Lord will always prevail.

One of my major goals, that my prayer is focused on, is on bringing some of my Emmaus and Knight brothers to this walk as future deacons.  There are many willing and few are called.  But I am confidant those few called will be part of my wonderful Emmaus and Knight community. I hope my calling can be an inspiration to my brothers and their families to step up their service to the Lord.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me….I once was lost, but now am found; was blind,  but now can see…..Keep my family and me in your prayers….

Your Brother in Christ; Vivat Jesus!

 


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!


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!


The end of the world with my brother Elias, lost in absolute darkness…!

December 21, 2012

So this morning at 5:30am our intrepid cycling club, termed the “B” team by our faster brothers and sisters, went on our morning ride.  This morning the B Team is down from our usual 3 riders to just Elias and I…. Our third brother doesn’t like to ride when it’s under 80 degrees or over 85 degrees or if it is a Monday or Friday…..! 

We began the year by riding 10 miles in an hour…  For those mathematically challenged, it works out to an average speed of 10 miles per hour.  The “A” team is quite concerned about that since they do around 25 miles in the same time span….  However,  now, by the end of the year, we are riding 14 miles in the same hours time!  I don’t know about you but in my book that’s progress…. Maybe by this time next year we can get it to 20 miles per hour…but I wouldn’t hold my breadth…. You see we do this more for the camaraderie of spending time with fellow Catholic men and the hope of losing a few pounds…Not necessarily with the idea of becoming Olympians…

Of course when we peddled off this morning our thoughts turned to the Mayan Calender predicting December 21st as the end of time….My 13 year old tells me that is because that’s when the calendar stopped…. except that recently the rest of the calendar was found behind someone’s sofa so life as we know it continues….

In order to boost our ride to 14 miles Elias and I bravely searched for a new route,  albeit in the darkness typical of Coral Gables streets before the sun comes up. So of course we get lost in a community we have lived in for many, many years…. You see instead of elevated street signs, the Gables has little markers on the ground level virtually  impossible to see in daylight, imagine in darkness!   

It is now heatedly debated who said what about having to go South when we needed to go North….  He mentioned something about checking our GPS but real men don’t do that… or so I claimed…  You see my brother Elias has a lot of wonderful qualities and like all of us he  has a few lovable personal characteristics as well… One of them is his ability to cry at a moment’s notice… So wanting to avoid that I relented and stopped and checked my GPS.  Guess what?  We were going the wrong way! 

And now you know the rest of the story as to how we got to 14 miles on the day the world was supposed to end!


Angel, Mario and Eduardo – the end of an era. May they rest in God’s glory!

August 17, 2012

Three best friends, one dream…. Now they are all gone. My father, the youngest of the three, was under the tutelage of the two older cousins; one whom I called my uncle.  When the United States invaded the Bay of Pigs, before President Kennedy lost the little backbone that he had,  the three of them had pivotal roles preparing for the invasion.  Angel and Mario were able to escape to Miami and evade Castro and Guevara, who were on a murderous rampage.  Eduardo, in charge of the CIA radio operations for the invasion was caught and served 18 years in one of the cruelest prisons known to mankind.

They ninicknamed him “El Abuelo” because he was older than all the other prisoners of conscience.  He became part of the original group of “plantados” nicknamed because of the way they stood firm against their jailers.  One of the plantados would later on become the Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission named by President Reagan;  a president with backbone to spare…. Ambassador Valladares wrote a tell all book of the horrific experiences of Castro’s jails:  “Against All Hope”.  It is a riveting account of these prisoners being abused physically and psychologically. Forced to go naked for months on end.  Sent to the firing squad then fired at with blanks. Sleep deprivation and lack of medical attention were the least of their problems.

Mario continued on the CIA payroll in Miami in charge of finances and benefits for those heroes that survived Kennedy’s betrayal.  My father Angel was an exemplary man as a father, husband and man of faith. A lawyer in Cuba, in Miami he washed dishes and worked odd jobs until he became a social worker. At the pinnacle of his governmental career he was named by then Florida Governor Ruben Askew as the Director of the Cuban Refugee Program; the largest of its kind in the nation. Meanwhile, Eduardo spent his most productive years in Catro’s hellhole. 

I remember like it was yesterday the day Eduardo was released then was flown to Miami. He walked into our house to hugs, kisses and tears.  He looked at me and asked my father if I was the one destined to become a priest! Eduardo’s psyche was intact and his spirit as as strong as ever.  Mario and my father Angel both passed away years ago.  Eduardo carried the torch for both of them and for all those in exile praying for a free Cuba.  We spent weekends suffering the Dolphins and weekdays lamenting the free fall of the Marlins….He was ever presnt at all our family affairs

I found out a few weeks ago that Eduardo was suffering from a blood disorder.  I had the good fortune of spending some time with him just two days ago.  This morning, Mario’s son, my cousin, called to tell me of Eduardo’s passing.  If I am fortunate to get to Heaven and even more fortunate to be able to quiz our Lord at that time….I will ask why men of God leave us so early while those that serve the devil tend to stick around for so damn long….

I know that the three cousins are now together and enjoying our Lord’s everlasting glory.  I pray that their dream of a free Cuba comes sooner rather than later and that their years of fight and determination are rewarded.  Eduardo’s passing brings to an earthly close the friendship of the three patriots that I knew and loved. It is up to my generation and that of my two daughters  – to contine the good fight…. Angel, Mario and Eduardo:  La Patria Los Contemplas Orgullosos….


Oswaldo Paya, RIP. Cuban, Catholic and Corageous….

July 24, 2012

I’ve admired Cuban dissident and practicing Catholic Oswaldo Paya for a number of reasons.  Not the least of which is that he decided to fight the good fight from within the iron shackled island instead of from the comfy land of exile. Paya was apparently silenced by being run off the road while driving in a remote section of Cuba.

Paya founded the Varela Project; named after now venerated Cuban priest Felix Varela.  Varela lived through the Spanish occupation and was credited for teaching Cubans how to think for themselves; independently of the Spanish Crown. 

The Varela Project collected signatures across the island in order to show the communist government a desire from the people for a new democratic and socially responsible constitution.  The petition was turned into the government never to be heard of again……

I spoke to a recent arrival and was told the vast majority of Cubans never heard of Paya and even less of the Varela Project.  Fewer still have heard of the Cuban Blogger Yoani Sanchez; whose blog is read by millions around the free world.   It is sad to think that in 2012 an entire society, only 90 miles away from the Southernmost point of the United States, lives in total darkness.  There is only one official radio station and television station and one newspaper. 

The Arab Spring had one major denominator that had a direct causal effect on their victory over a totalitarian government:  a vibrant internet community.  Twitter and Facebook played a dominant part in allowing the dissident movement to communicate their plan amongst each other.  Yoanni Sanchez hides in touristy internet bars in Havana while transmitting her most inner thoughts.  The ten million or so Cubans left in Cuba are forced to fend by themselves while the marxist government controls every aspect of their lives. 

Let’s pray that the heroic Cubans fighting from within find a small crevice to hold on to as they climb the wall of inevitability; a democratically elected government where freedom of speech and religion are in the forefront.  Paya’s dream will be fulfilled and Yoanni will be able to sit on the malecon in the open and blog to her heart’s content!


Brief posting by Manny! He made it to Routan!

June 23, 2012

After almost 3 days of not hearing from our seafaring banking brother…. He made a quick post to his FB of a picture of a marina at Routan, Honduras….  Apparently the internet communication at the island is very poor and he hasn’t been able to write  a full update… But at least we know he is OK!  More news to follow…..Photo: After 31 hours at sea after departing from Cancun, Mexico we finally arrived in Roatan, Honduras.  Next stop, the island of San Andres, Columbia.

Marina at Routan, Honduras…  the 37 foot boat keeps chugging along !


60 hours and counting….no news from our brother Manny.

June 23, 2012

Our brother Manny was supposed to reach Routan Island yesterday after leaving Cancun. The crew left at 2am from Cancun Wednesday morning.  The captain estimated it would be 30-36 hours in 5-7 foot waves to arrive to Routan.  This morning at 2am it was 48 hours  – so we are nearing 60 hours with no contact.

 It could be lack of internet access at the Routan marina..or not….They could have decided to stay the night elsewhere or may be going even slower than anticipated.

Keep him and the crew in your prayers! I will update the blog the moment I hear either way!


Post from our navigating brother: June 20, 2012

June 20, 2012

Good morning my brother.  We are still in Cancun, hoping for the wind to die down so that we can head out to Roatan, Honduras.  This leg of the trip is approximately 300 miles, and unfortunately we will have a beam sea, meaning that the wind will be hitting the boat on our port side, which will cause the boat to rock.  The winds are expected to be 15 to 20 knots with seas 5 to 6 feet for this leg of the trip.  No fun on a 37 foot boat!  As I mentioned in my prior emails to you, after leaving Roatan, we are heading to the island of San Andres, Columbia which is approximately 450 miles from Roatan.

Well after long deliberations the captain has decided to set sail for Roatan, Honduras at around 2:00am, Wednesday morning.   The winds have not let up since arriving in Cancun on Sunday afternoon, and they are expected to increase.  For that reason the captain has determined that this is our window of opportunity to set sail for Roatan.

We spent Sunday. Monday and Tuesday fueling the boat with diesel fuel, topped of the water tank, searched for provisions and made sure all engine parts were in good shape.  We also performed some minor repairs to the generator before we begin our 300 +/- mile trip to Roatan.  I am truly becoming a real first mate, performing duties that I had never done before.  I even did laundry this morning at the marina for myself and my 2 companions.  No, this wasn’t your typical touristy trip to Cancun!

On this trip not only has my faith & prayer life gotten stronger, but I am really beginning to let go and letting God direct the path my life should take.  I can honestly tell you that I truly missed being with my daughters on father’s day.  I thank God for my family, my Emmaus brothers & sisters, and my friends.   I feel blessed.  That doesn’t mean I am not concerned for the safety of the crew and for myself.  It’s just that I try not to focus on the long days and nights at sea.  I’m trying to take this adventure one hour at a time….

As I mentioned we will be departing from Cancun at around 2:00am.   As per my prior emails, the boat we are on is very slow.  We anticipate that it should take us approximately 30 to 35 hours at sea before we reach Roatan.  This should be a grueling trip with seas of 5 to 6 feet expected.  The wind is out of the east at approximately 15 to 20 knots.  Again, on a 37 foot boat!

I don’t know what plans God has in store for me, but I am ready to accept whatever at would be.  I know that there is a life lesson for me to learn on this journey.  I thank God for this opportunity that he had provided me with.  My professional life back home is very unsettled.  But out here I am trying to push the negative thoughts out. 

I am looking forward to crossing the Panama Canal, as it has been a long time goal of mine.  I had hoped that it would have been on my boat, but “se la vie”.  I also look forward to bring back home soon, and to personally sharing my stories with you and the other brothers. Please continue to pray for us as we enter the most grueling,  longest and dangerous part of our trip.

Your brother in Christ, Manny


No rest for the weary…Still day one!

June 15, 2012

After a tiring first day having traveled only to Key West, we found we had transmission problems. However we had no time to fix it because of bad weather prognosticated for the Yucatan Straits in a couple of days.  So instead of resting up over night for the long 3 days – we need to leave this evening!   I’ve had 4 hours sleep and one turkey sandwich – I am not a happy sailor right now!  So because of the transmission issue, we will have to travel slower, taking maybe 3 days instead of two, in the open water. 

I really haven’t had time to think, let alone meditate.  We are a 3 member crew. One captain, one mechanic and myself the first mate! We take 2 hours turns on the bridge navigating.  And can sleep only in 4 hour shifts. 

What have I gotten into! I have ridden a bicycle for 15o miles in one day but that is a kids game compared to navigating for 3 days non stop. I hate to sound like a whiner but I am exhausted and hungry.  The captain did have time to stock up for our food but doubt there are any churrascos on the menu!  Oh, and so much for seeing the Heat game tonight.

I will be without being able to email  for I don’t know how long.  I hope and pray we hit the next port in Cancun safely and don’t come across bad weather.  The other boats we are taking in subsequent trips have satellite communication and I will be able to communicate during the trips. But not this one. I have to wait to get to the next port. 

By the way, remember we have to take 2 more boats after we fly back once reaching our destination. The day after I get back from this trip I have a job interview for an accounting job.  God I hope I get that and not have to make the next 2 trips!  But first let’s get through this one.  

Don’t worry if you don’t hear from me by Monday.  Start worrying a little if I haven’t communicated by Tuesday – Really worry if you don’t here from me by Wednesday! 

Keep us in your prayers, please.


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