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……


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….


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!


Family vacation and Mass….Not mutually exclusive!

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


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 !