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!

 

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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……


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!


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!


It’s so much easier to just drop off our daughter….

September 23, 2012

The shame of it is that we are one of the few parents, and the only in my daughter’s peer group, that already raised a girl….now 23 years old.  That doesn’t mean we didn’t make mistakes then and that we don’t now….But if I had that resource of experience and knowledge in my parental peer group, I would certainly try to learn from their actions and try to understand their rules concerning our 13-year-old daughters….

Sunset Mall was also the location of choice 10 years ago when our first daughter was 13.  She wasn’t dropped off without supervision until the beginning of 10th grade…..  It seems my now 13-year-old, just starting 8th grade,  is the only one requiring adult supervision while at the mall.  It’s so much easier to just drop her off and let her fend for herself with other 13 year olds… 

Mind you, Sunset Mall is in a challenging neighborhood and police patrolling the mall openly talk about gang problems, drug use and petty crime. Plus, there is enough peer pressure on young teens.  Having them fend for themselves in an anthill of other teens and young adults is an unnecessary pressure on their young psyches.  There are two variables going on here. One is that with a parent close by, basic human psychology states that the young teen will be more wary of her decision-making with a parent close by.  The other variable is that if something were to happen at least a parent is in close proximity.

Regardless, it is our choice as a parent to not leave her alone regardless of how tired we are.  Yes, it’s a hassle, yes, it’s boring for the adults and yes, we rather be doing something else.. But what about parental responsibility?  Instead of helping ourselves and working as a team, covering supervised mall trips, sharing drop-off and pick ups….We will be forced to have our daughter choose a different peer group…A group more in line with what we believe to be responsible adult actions.

For at least the remainder of this year. my wife and I will go to the mall with our 13-year-old and have an old fashion date night.  That way we share some one-on-one time with each other and are there for our daughter as well….

Hopefully one day she will understand and appreciate the tough choices we make.  These choices however, shouldn’t be made tougher by parents that should be part of our support network….


Tweens and high heels….what a funny combination!

June 9, 2012

My daughter celebrated her 13th birthday last weekend….even though it’s not until August! One of her closest friends is also a summer baby and is leaving for Spain for the summer…So of course they came up with an idea of celebrating their 13th first teenage b-day together. She promises she won’t ask for another bash on her real birthday in August… wish me luck on that one!

My wife and I are on the same page in not allowing our daughter to wear high heel shoes….So our daughter, the lawyer to be, came up with a compromise – wear platform shoes! Hey, they are actually not heels, but still 2-4 inches high; depending on the type of shoe… Since my wife and I are learning not to make every decision World War 3 and trying to choose what battles to fight, we let her buy a pair of platform shoes….talk about viral communication…. Every single girl at their party had huge platform shoes!

It was hilarious to see the girl’s tower over boys of the same age since the boys have not yet begun to develop their bodies….yes ladies, I know, even as adults we still haven’t developed our brains……. We parents had a ball watching these otherwise coordinated girls trying to maneuver their platforms! It was a miracle there were no broken ankles! My wife went to the girl’s bathroom at one point and saw about 10 girls on the floor exchanging shoes with each other because they were so uncomfortable! About mid way through the night most of the girls were shoeless…beautiful, fanciful outfits and no shoes! I have to give my daughter credit though, she actually took a second pair, these were flats, and at least wasn’t barefoot the rest of the evening.

It was your typical pre-teen party, with the boys goofing off and the girls dancing by themselves. At one point there were around 100 tweens partying. My wife and I couldn’t believe we made it through that night! We learned one important lesson though. We could have been stricter with the heels issue, but we already raised one girl – now 23 years of age. We know we have many, many rounds of battles in front of us. Many battles we had with our eldest daughter were great learning experiences for us.…

Hopefully we are wiser with our youngest…. we are definitely more tired! But we learned that by giving in a little, with something that didn’t involve a moral issue, she had fun and learned a big lesson about heels, platform or otherwise!

In fact, this evening they are off to another birthday party and guess what! They are all wearing flats!