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!
2 Comments | calling, catholic, Catholic Family Life, Deacon, discernment, Emmaus, Knights, prayer | Tagged: calling, Deacon, emmaus, faith, family, family life, God's plan, Gods plans, prayer | Permalink
Posted by Deacon Jorge
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……
Leave a Comment » | Catholic Family Life | Tagged: catholic life, family, family life, Iphone, morals, parenting, teenage, teens | Permalink
Posted by Deacon Jorge
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….
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Posted by Deacon Jorge
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….
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Posted by Deacon Jorge
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!
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Posted by Deacon Jorge
July 9, 2012
As we were nearing our destination of our first road trip this summer, we passed by a Catholic Church. My backseat was filled with two, just turned teen girls and my daughter, a soon to be teen. As I was focused on finding the hotel my daughter stated, as a matter of factly, that we were passing a Catholic Church and one of her friends asked me to drive slowly to see what times the Masses were on Sunday!
Now, I shouldn’t have been surprised and was in fact very proud that my wife and I apparently got through at some level to our daughter! And it speaks volumes of the upbringing the parents of her two friends had done. But I was surprised at this brief moment of religious clarity on their part. I had spent 3 hours hearing the latest music, most of it sung by the three at the highest possible decibels, listening to gossip on boys and of course the requisite whining on material items they wished they had.
But at that specific moment they had a beautiful pause, albeit it for a brief instance, to wonder about Mass times!
I remember not too long ago on my walk how Mass was reserved just for Sundays and when we took a vacation, it wasn’t only from work or school – but also from other “responsibilities” like Sunday Mass.
One of the first things we have done for years, is to seek out a local Catholic Church close to the area we are vacationing in. It has always been a wonderful experience. We learn about the universality of our religion and enjoy the different cultural differences each community has to express in a Catholic Mass.
In this past Sunday’s case the priest was there to greet each family before the Mass as they entered; not afterwards like at our parish. This parish has the custom of having all parishioners share in the Blood of Christ as well as in the Eucharist. We all share in the same faith but it’s really interesting to see how different faith communities worship – while still staying within the parameters set by the Catholic Church.
We had a wonderful, relaxing and fun vacation, including a spectacular sunrise enjoyed from our room every morning. The least we could do was to take an hour to thank our Lord for the wonders he has given us, as well as to thank Him for the opportunity to vacation as a family….
As this summer starts I hope we all share the same Mass opportunity with our family. I am listing below a link to be able to find a Catholic Church and Mass times in whatever area you are vacationing. Just input the zip code of the area you are visiting. Make this a natural part of vacation planning for you and your family! www.masstimes.org or 734-794-2100.
Sunrise at Melbourne, Florida
1 Comment | Catholic Family Life | Tagged: catholic life, Catholic values, children, daughter, family, family vacation, Mass, parenthood, prayer, teenage, teens | Permalink
Posted by Deacon Jorge
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…..
Marina at Routan, Honduras… the 37 foot boat keeps chugging along !
2 Comments | Catholic Family Life | Tagged: catholic life, faith, family, Manny, sailing, sailors, sea | Permalink
Posted by Deacon Jorge
June 3, 2012
On July 17, 2006, I was admitted to a doctoral program at Nova Southeastern University. At that point in my life I was winding down my lobbying business and was a finalist for a “C” level role at a prominent local health care facility. I remember telling my wife the shelf life for these type senior roles was 3 – 5 years and I wanted to be prepared to transition to life in academia as an exit strategy. I already had a MBA/MHA and was hoping a DBA would cement my future allowing me to teach or consult as I walked off into the sunset of my career.
During the 6 years while I was studying for the DBA:
- I wasn’t offered the “C” level job I thought was a slam dunk
- My finances went into a tailspin since most of my clients were affected by the sinking economy
- I lost my home of 15 years since the “equity” I thought I had disappeared like sand through my fingers
- Sent my daughter off to college to Los Angeles without the financial resources to support her
- Moved my wife and youngest daughter into a 1,000 square foot apartment – 3,500 feet smaller than what they were used to
- Spent 18 months underemployed – teaching college classes when available
- Was on unemployment – something I thought I would never have to do
- Started a new career – reinventing oneself is easier said than done
- My marriage survived. Thanks to the omnipresent Grace of my Lord and my God and the wonderful support of my brothers and sisters of our Emmaus Group
- And kept a 3.75 GPA throughout the entire DBA program leading up to the last course required
And that’s when the wheels fell off this armored truck I had been driving for the past 6 years…. The last course was offered by an instructor that exemplifies the frustrated academician – without a life outside of the ivory tower. I’ve tried not to sound like my 12 year old daughter whining about teachers she dislikes. The difference is I have a classmate that could not believe the obvious discrimination and badgering this instructor showed towards me. After all was said and done, she gave me a failing grade based on capricious and subjective grading. After 6 years of doctorate level statistics, operations theory, logistical planning and qualitative and quantitative analysis – she flunks me on the simplest course on organizational theories…
The Nova program has a 6 year window – concluding on July 17, 2012. The failing grade, my first since kindergarten – puts me in academic probation. Typically you have one year to retake the class and get out of probation. But since the program window ends this July 17th, I cannot retake, so….. I received a letter stating:
Your status will be changed to “Dismissed” on July 17, 2012……
I’ve blogged about God’s Perfect Plan. And how difficult it is to discern what he wants from us. But this is a really difficult pill to swallow. I’m trying not to let my ego show its ugly face – On one side I’m pissed and defiant, on anther I’m embarrassed, on another I’m depressed and yet on another side I am very, very confused.
I know God want us all to be successful and joyful and for our lives to be bountiful. I also know a Catholic life does not call for us to be patsies in the face of adversity or obstacles. I will pursue all administrative and legal options left to me. But what a body blow to my plans. I hate the fact that I will have to spend positive energy and very limited financial resources on litigation.
But what else to do……?
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Posted by Deacon Jorge
May 26, 2012
I know children’s prayers hold special favor with our Lord….But I have to think hearing a room full of grown men praying a Rosary must also command His attention!
Our parish men’s group is named Emmaus. The name is based on the biblical passage showing our resurrected Lord walking with two men on the way to a town named Emmaus. I dedicated this blog to my walk with the Lord and the many obstacles and challenges I face along the way. When the men’s Emmaus group meets, we always begin by praying the Rosary.
It never ceases to amaze me when I sit back and listen to the powerful male voices praying in unison to our Blessed Mother. I sense a feeling of raw power when we pray as a group one of our faith’s most traditional methods of prayer. We take turns offering each of the five decades to a personal petition. It’s awe inspiring to hear a man dedicate a decade of the Rosary to his wife, or to his family or for a sick child or friend…. I hear offerings for vocations, addictions and healing.
We Catholics have many forms of prayer, including the traditional rote, contemplative and thanksgiving ….to name a few. But the Rosary to Our Lady is a powerful, yet relaxing tool. Our non-Catholic brothers miss the point when they say they pray directly to our Lord…. We Catholics do that as well – but also pray to our Blessed Mother to intercede on our behalf with her son. What more powerful intercession than that of a mother to a son?
I look forward to these Emmaus group meetings in order to feed off of the exuberant faith displayed by my brothers. We are all challenged with day to day crosses we bear, however, when we focus on praying the Rosary we are strengthened in our desire to continue serving our Lord.
It serves our society well for men to take leadership roles in evangelizing to others. In a world of unhinged sexual desires and topsy turvy morals, we men of faith must show others the importance of walking with our Lord….
May we realize the wonderful gift we have in praying the Rosary…….And may we continue to be a light in this ever darkening world.
Maria, Ora Pro Nobis
2 Comments | Catholic Family Life | Tagged: Catholic, catholic life, family, leadership, men, morals, prayer, rosary | Permalink
Posted by Deacon Jorge
May 23, 2012
The physician taking care of my mother in law, an alzheimer specialist – inside a hospice unit in a university hospital – had just asked my wife what outcome she expected from his staff regarding her mom’s care. It broke my heart to hear her response; especially knowing her mom was in a rapidly declining state of alzheimer and dementia….
Her mom was an independent woman who raised three children and cared for an overbearing, cantankerous husband that had various failed marriages before he met this angel on earth. Her mom took an instant liking to me as I did to her. During the 27 years of our marriage she regularly cared for our two girls, volunteered in our various businesses and routinely traveled with us all over the world. When others complain or say bad jokes about their mother in laws I just smile and think how lucky I’ve been to have shared over half of my life with her.
When her mom decided to sell her house we jumped at the chance to have her live with us. She was never a burden; on the contrary, she was an ever present positive impact on those lives she touched. Once she moved in she became a fixture at our neighbor’s homes, bringing together a community like no politician could ever do. One neighbor has become a life-long friend because of my mother in law’s outgoing and caring personality. My mother in law later moved in with my mother when my mother was sick. She cooked for her, bathed her and became her companion. My mom passed away last June and it has been a steady decline in health for my mother in law since.
My wife is blessed with the opportunity to take care of her mother in her final days. She gets up in the middle of the night whenever she hears a noise from her mom’s bedroom, even after a long day of work and taking care of her immediate family. She spends the day catering to her mom’s every need, while she tries to juggle work and family. I don’t judge those that have their love ones live in assisted living facilities or other type of institutions during their final days. I don’t know what their work or financial limitations are. But the Lord knows what is in our hearts and at the end of our journey, we each have to feel comfortable with being able to discuss our actions with our Maker.
I know one thing for sure, if there is a fast lane to Heaven, my wife will be in it. Her faithfulness, unselfishness and loving example to our two girls, has earned her a special place in our Lord’s heart. Our girls have now seen how my father, my mom and her mom were taken care of by their children. Our marriage has had ups and downs spiritually, emotionally and financially. But I can say one thing now loud and clear….I’ve never been as proud of my wife as I am now. She is a woman of faith and truly understands that her mom will soon pass. Her mom will be in a place we all pray we could one day reach. Her mom will be at peace with our Lord and we will be at peace with each other knowing we made her last days as comfortable and loved fill as possible.
I could only hope that I am able to hold on to my wife’s coattails as she one day speeds directly to spend eternity with our Lord. In the meantime, I pray we can grow old together, while we continue on our walk during this wonderful journey of life….
4 Comments | Catholic Family Life | Tagged: catholic life, daughter, death, family, health, hospice, mother, prayer, senior citizens | Permalink
Posted by Deacon Jorge