Friday, October 30, 2009

Strategic running away!


I going on retreat this weekend!

Going on retreat with the Sisters of Life!

They are awesome!

So no computer until Sunday. So here is an old reflection for all of you reading this, both of you. Hopefully I will come back on Sunday with either:

A) Deep insights into who is God and the Gospel of Life.
B)I will be well rested from sleeping too much.

Either way it should be a promising weekend.

Here is the link for the Readings:

25th Sunday In Ordinary Time Year C

Here is the reflection:

In the Gospel the disciples are arguing who is the best.
Christ tells them to be first they must be last. They must be a servant to all. He then embraces a child and tells them to do the same and they will receive him and the One who sent him.

The second reading from St. James matches this perfectly in the first line "jealousy and self-ambition." We see that even the disciples are struggling with these very issues. The three disciples whom Jesus took up to the Mountain on the Transfiguration were St. Peter, St. James and St. John. The three disciples whom Jesus asked to come with him were St. Peter, St. James and St. John. St. James is writing from experience here. He is writing, it seems, from a very intimate place, a place where he himself has struggled with for a very long time.

St. James says that jealousy and self-ambition are not from God. But if something is from God it is "first of all pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy," it has consistency and sincerity.

Christ was and is consistent and sincere. He showed consistency and sincerity when told them to receive the child and reminded them the importance of taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves. The children. I am that child whom Christ embraces. Left to MY own devices and doing things MY way I will be unhappy and self destructive. That is the way it is for me. Since I realized my self destructive tendencies, I wished that I was not that way. But that is where I find Jesus. He is inside my deepest and darkest place repairing my damaged soul with His Love. IN my heart He paints "You are not alone. I will be with you until the end of time. Trust in Me." He reminds the disciples, by embracing others, that HE is in otHErs. "When you receive one of these little ones you received me and the One who sent me."

"Where do wars and conflicts come from?" Are they from God?
St. James tells me no. God is Unity and Oneness not division and separation. Diablos or Satan is that which divides. In the Hindu religion that which creates separation is Maya which means illusion. Maya is that which pretends there is not unity when in fact it is there. When I choose to go against the will of God in my life I choose to believe in the illusion of Maya or the Lies of Satan, because illusions are just that - lies. We see something which is not really there.

St. James then goes on to say: "Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war." He tells me that because of my passions or feelings I am in conflict with others. "That person makes me angry... I want that what they have because I want it (a feeling of entitlement that I am entitled to something without working for it.) I feel bad therefore I am a bad person. If I put someone else down I will feel better ( I am upset because I do not posses good self-esteem so I will try to take someone else's who seems that they are in a better disposition.) If I could just feel better then I would be better." This sort of thinking leads me to commit actions which would make me feel better. At one point for me it was drinking, or sex, at other points it was making someone feel bad so I could feel better. I would and will sometimes live in the lie that "if only I could have (blank) things would be different."

If only so-and-so liked me then I could be happy...
If only I had more money then I could be happy...
If only I had that job then I would be happy...
If only I was in shape then I would be happy...
If only... If only ... If only I would stop thinking "if only" then I would actually be happy.

My feelings are not a thermometer for my self-value.

Another interesting insight that St. James shares with me is that I do not possess something because I do not ask for it. When I do ask for it I do not receive it because my intentions are wrong and I would spend it on my need to feel better.

His comment on war reminds me of people who are "have-nots" want something that the "haves" have and war is started. Growing up for me it was a comic book I stole, or money, or candy, now I try to steal people’s self-respect and dignity. I cannot help but think about how this plays out on an international level with labor, human trafficking, oil, natural resources, land, food, medical supplies etc.

And even if I do receive what I ask for will I really use it for the great glory of God or the gods? Will I place what I have been given at the altar of Christ or the altar of myself or the gods I make in my life? What are my intentions?

St. James is writing from a personal experience. I wonder if St. James ever thought looking back now, "what did it really matter who was the best?" I wonder if St. James ever thought "maybe there is no best. If God already loves me and is in love with me fully and infinitely then maybe there is no best?"

I know from Christ's own words that my judgment will be on my own life, on my own soul. So God will not judge me on a curve. So in reality in our Christian tradition Christianity is not a competition. Christianity is not a competition. Christianity is not a competition. Christ tells me the measure which I judge others I judge myself. He does not say that the standards of others will be what you will be judged by. In essence competition is the way of the world and is not of God. Competition is "thinking not as God does but as human beings do. (Mark 8:30)" If Christ tells me that we are born in the world but are not of it, then we should leave their "values" behind.

I was instilled as a little child that I should be the best I can be. Fine. That I must be the best. Okay. That I be the best by stepping on the backs of others. Not fine. "First is best and second is the worse." "Good enough is never good enough." I grew up with images of the "cool guys" (cool=successful) gets the pretty girl. I was put in races during school. Made to feel bad when I didn't come in first and when I did win it was fleeting. My self-esteem and self-value became intrinsically linked with other people. Though I would never vocalize this, what I was really thinking was: I have less self-value because I cannot run as fast as... I do not make as much money as... I am not as smart as... I am not as good looking as... I am not as popular as... I am not as holy as...

St. James causes me to discern: is this competition from God? Well what is his measuring stick for things that are from God? Does me being obsessive about defeating my opponent, does this bring about peace? Is attacking myself because I am not good enough, is this gentle? The way I beat myself up for losing, is this full of mercy?

God gave me a grace in meeting the Jesuits. Anthony De Milo SJ has a great line:

You do not have to change for God to love you.

What a powerful message! It is something I just sit with in prayer. Anthony De Milo says to just sit with it like a seed and let it grow. I cannot force growth. I cannot pull a tree out of a seed. Since sitting with this saying a garden has flourished of a deeper understanding of God's love for me. I have learned that I change so that I prove to myself that I love myself. Changing for someone else is stupid and pointless. But changing for myself only has value. I want to change so I can be more open to God's grace, to my relationship with God.

St. James speaks from experience. He speaks to me from the time he was rebuked by Jesus for thinking the way human beings do and not the way God does. St. James, by his example, tells me not to make his mistake of comparing myself to others because this breeds jealousy and self-ambition...

Have a Great Halloween don't get too Mad this weekend!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

There is always room for one more...

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you,
how many times I yearned to gather your children together
as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,
but you were unwilling!"
-Luke 13:34

Today's Readings for 10/29/09:

Few Gospel passages make me hungry, this is one of them. I always think of chicken wings. I know it is bad but if you knew how much I tend to talk about hot wings, then you would get it. The other Gospel passage that makes me hungry is the feeding of five thousand because every time I think of the multiplication of the fish, I think of sushi.

Today was such a well balanced day for me, it felt like a pyramid of wellness. I went to class today and I am working on a group project where myself and five other people will be focusing on Young Poets in New York City. My fellow group members seem really excellent and I think they will be my second positive group experience in two months. My focus for this specific group project is going to be the importance of support networks for people, specifically young poets, and support networks as intentional family. More to come as this progresses.

Have you ever wondered, what do I write. I have and I am wondering it right now. I think it is okay not to know. One day I heard a very great priest mention in a homily that Luke's Gospel is about the poor. He said that we should have hearts that always had room for one more. He proceeded to tell us a story, I heard this when I was in the diocesan seminary about four years ago, of him going with his aunt to the beach. He said in the summer, when he was growing up, his aunt would come with her children to his house to pick up him and his sisters to go to the beach. They could fit four kids in the back seat of her LTD comfortably but there would always be one or two more than could fit. And his aunt would say every time, "There's always room for one more."
He continued, no matter how illegal it was she would pack the car with whoever needed to go and they would always make room for that extra person. I just remember thinking, how beautiful is that, to always make room in my heart because there is always room for one more.
(DISCLAIMER: I am not endorsing excessive occupancy of a vehicle according to the state's and manufacturer's guideline. Duh! Unless it is authorized for that extreme usage as per photo below.)

"There is always room for one more."

I guess I remember that because this same priest once gave a homily on Luke's Gospel and said, "John is my favorite Gospel, but Luke is my kind of Gospel." [Luke's Gospel has always been associated with Jesus directly effecting the lives of the poor, the down trodden, the sinners, the outcasts, the marginalized, and those people whom no one really gave a crap about. Well Jesus not only cares about them deeply but loves them infinitely. More healing miracles are in Luke's Gospel than any of the other three Gospel. Luke is trying to get a point a cross. Anyway needless to say I like Luke's Gospel a lot.] He then went on to say that he loves the image of Jesus wanting to gather us in his arms as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. And to be honest I almost lost it. If you knew the priest that I am bloggin' about you know the sincerity of his heart. I imagine the hen always making room for one more not matter how many chicks she has. I imagine Jesus doing the same thing, inviting us to be under his protection and in the embrace of His love. "There is always room for one more..."

Today was the kind of day where I remembered how many people have made room for me in their heart and who are in my heart also. I was able to see my former teacher at school today who has these eyes that let you know everything will be okay. She has these eyes which just look into your soul and accepts you for who you are just the way you are. Now granted I know she is human and that there are limitations but she challenges my already set limitations in an amazing way. I remember telling a classmate of mine that our teacher has these eyes that you just wanna blurt out your whole soul and cry in front of her and that would be okay. She laughed at me. Needless to say she cried the next time she spoke to her.

Today was the kind of day where I had two different friends met together for the first time and it worked beautifully. Just to show the range of these two friends, one is a priest whom I have known for six years and he was just ordained last year. He is Dominican and speaks Portuguese. I hope this is not too obvious but that impresses me because I DON'T know ANYONE who speaks Portuguese. So today he met my other friend who is a Holocaust survivor, she is truly a remarkable and inspirational human being who will be very upset at me when she reads this but, oh well, I think she will get over it... I hope...

Today was the kind of day where I wasn't rushed. I gave my self a straight razor shave in the morning and prayed as naturally as breathing today. At times I felt like my prayer was like coughing but none the less I prayed. The first reading for daily mass today is just amazing:

Reading 1
Rom 8:31b-39

Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us.
Who will condemn?
It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised,
who also is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us.
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
As it is written:

For your sake we are being slain all the day;
we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.

No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

They say a picture is worth thousand words so here ya go. I photo shopped Dali's Last Supper with a Motivational Poster and this quote from Romans.
(Here is a link on how to make your own motivational poster:
I hope you enjoy it.

Looks like there is room for one more at the table...

Hello my name is Louis N. and I am a Hope addict.


Hi Louis N!

So I should probably start by explaining my blog title. I have struggled with whether or not I have a vocation to priestly or religious life and my family knows this. Whenever I get dressed up or look clean-shaven my mom always tells me, "What a waste..."

I know she means well. It is funny, though sometimes she doesn't laugh as much as I would like when she says it, but hey what can I do about that. Nothing. (Insert raspberry noise or fart noise here).

This summer I read Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, which I thought was written so well, but I hated most of her ideas and philosophy. I did love the characters especially Fransisco D'Anconia and Ragnar Danneskjöld, they were just really cool. A traveling pseudo-playboy and a philosopher pirate... wow just awesome.

So the story hit me like the Taggart Comet going full speed on beautiful metallic blue Rearden Steel (which if you haven't read it, that is very fast!).

Reading about Dagny not being able to stay at Galt's Gulch, the place where she could truly be herself, because she was holding on to her company, Taggart Transcontinental, her last connection to the world, was exactly what I needed to hear in my life at that moment. Especially the way Ayn Rand described Hank Rearden's enlightenment moment is how I felt on August 15th, 2009 in Syracuse, New York at the First Vow weekend for the Society of Jesus. All I kept hearing from the Jesuits was, "It is all about falling in love with Jesus."

"Then- even though it was only a sentence he had heard all his life- he felt a deafening crash within him, as of a steel door dropping open at the touch of the final tumbril, the one small number completing the sum and releasing the intricate lock, the answer uniting all the pieces, the questions and the unsolved wounds of his life." -Atlas Shrugged, by: Ayn Rand

The only question that was/is left in my mind was, "Why wouldn't I become a Jesuit?"

I still don't have an answer... Thank God!

Fast forward to today. I have been taking Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, volunteering with the Sisters of Life and the Franciscan of the Renewal, I have an internship, am going to grad school to get a MSW and most importantly, I have a prayer life.

And my last Ayn Rand quote:

"Francisco, what's the most depraved type of human being?"
"The man without a purpose."

The possibility of becoming a Jesuit has given me purpose. I have started to change my life so that I might be a better candidate because now I have some idea of what God wants me to do with my life. The best part is that I haven't changed into something different, I just took away all the stuff that wasn't me.
So why a Jesuit and a Hope addict?

I think they are two in the same. I have worked with homeless populations before, and people suffering with addiction, I have some people in my life who suffer with addictions. I do not know anyone who conquerors addiction daily without hoping. Hoping for a better future, hoping for a better way to live, hoping to be free from their addiction just for one day.

As a Jesuit, I do not think one can live a daily life of following Jesus Christ without hope.

"I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head.
I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.
I hope I can make it across the border.
I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand.
I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.
I hope..."
-The last lines of the Shawshank Redemption.

I hope the Society of Jesus will accept me.
I hope that this is God's will for my life.
I hope to fall in love with Jesus more and more everyday.
I hope never to kick my hope addiction until I get to heaven.
I hope to make it there lol!
I hope...
-The last lines of this post.