Friday, February 10, 2012

Deeper Sense of Vocation

I think i figured something out. I have been trying to figure out whether I am called to the priesthood or not and all this time its always been a roller coaster. There are some really nice times where the ride is smooth and some times where its a bit rough but overall, something has seemed to keep me here. Being at the seminary also helps me to look interiorly and I ask myself those tough questions that reveal who i am at a deeper level. I finally realized that who I am as a man should not change. I find women attractive, I wouldn't mind having kids, I see the idea of a family as a beautiful thing. Let me slow down and say that i am not thinking of leaving the seminary at this point and here's why: I love God and so far, i have discerned that God wants me here. I feel that God has called me to the priesthood. So just because I feel called doesn't mean that one day, these urges will go away. In fact, they probably wont EVER go away. After all, I am a man, so why should they? Its in my human nature to want these other things but there's a reason why i don't. Knowing who I am and who God is calling me to be (at the very least, he's calling me to holiness) has really helped. Now if I could get get a hold of my self discipline :)

1/20/2012 Vacay

Well it’s the first week of classes and the spring semester is under way!
Looking at this past winter vacation, I tried something different this time. I noticed that I usually get into some type of spiritual trouble when I go home. I think of it as I’m a sailor on ship-leave. Anything goes at times… THIS TIME, I prayed for a fruitful vacation. I asked God to keep me away from harm even though I may not want to do the right thing. Its tough going home because all of the old temptations come back (really fast) and well, I know that I had to prepare myself for these temptations somehow. So prayer really helped. It turned out great! I had a great time taking my friend from Portland around Southern California and even the Grand Canyon. I noticed that by hanging around my seminarian brothers, I could still have a great time and they too would help me keep away from my old ways. Please don’t get me wrong, I still hung out with all my old friends but it was even better this time around because I felt God’s grace keeping all of us safe. Yet it wasn’t surprising though because I’ve always felt like as if someone was keeping me safe my whole life. There have been many occasions in my life where I have sat back and said, “WOW.. either I’m really lucky or someone’s looking out for me”. To me, this is God.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

11/2/11 Year Two: All Souls day

Hey everyone happy All Souls day!

On this day of recollection, we are blessed to have a retired Bishop from the Yakima Diocese (Washington) give us a retreat and so far it has been on the love of the Father and trusting him. Or at least its what i've walked away with so far. It has been very helpful because first of all, sometimes it feels like my decision to come to the Seminary has been the biggest blessing and curse i've every had. haha The constant tug and pull of "finding" the will of God is tough. Or i should say that I make it tough because i still have trouble trusting Him. Bishop Sevilla gave us a few examples that really made me think about things a bit differently. His first example was of when he was a child and he was crossing a cable bridge. The water was so high that it would touch their feet at times and he said he was scared but then he realized that his father was holding his hand really tight and he was reassured. Like that, we too should always remember that our Father is holding our hand. The next example was that of a father teaching his son/daughter how to ride a bike. The father reassures his little one that he wont let go and they'll be okay. But when the child finally looks back because they realize they're going faster then their father could run, they realize that they've got it and they're riding the bike. And lastly, he gave an example of a new born baby. This one really hit home because my brother and his wife just had their first child and i got to hold her while i was in California. Anyway, he said that for the first few months the new born is always in someone's arms and that its good because the baby learns love and feels safe. But when the child is placed in a crib he/she will usually cry and whine because their alone and are vulnerable. Just as it seems that they are alone, the parents are teaching their child a new experience and although it may seem as the child is not loved because no one is around, It teaches the child that he/she is still loved even when the parents are in the next room. so too are we loved and so too is God teaching us to walk/ride a bike and He is teaching us to fallow him.

I hope I can just forget about the other things that hold me back. Like the lack of freedom in the sense of not being able to do everything i want, whenever i want. To know that it is all with a purpose and after all, i am happy here. I am grateful for my vocation and i need stop trying to run away and just trust in God that everything will be okay.

God bless all of you! much love to all!

9/28/11 Year Two: getting back into the swing of things

HEY EVERYONE! its been a minute since I've written any of these journals. So much to talk about but i know the time is limited to my own attention span and homework load. I hope this email finds everyone well.
     As for me, the first month in the seminary has been filled with ups and downs. torn between what my soul wants and what i want for myself. I have fallen in love with the academics here once again. Last year i wanted to leave because it wasnt challenging enough and this year, it is pretty tough. We're learning a lot more ancient philosophy and since i'm in between my sophomore and junior year, i am also taking classes like philosophical anthropology and modern philosophy. and since i've already taken medieval philosophy, everything is coming together very nicely.
     My own spirituality has been a challenge but i think I've got it under control now. When i was in NYC, i only went to church once a week and so i had to fight myself to get back into the daily routine. I've NEVER been a daily mass type of guy but if this is what i want, then i need.. i WANT to fall into a deeper love with God and so, i have to put in the effort. its like love with a person i guess. The couple never really wants to part for too long. then it grows into something deeper and more intimate.
     My parents came to visit me this past weekend and i really enjoyed their company. I was sad to see them leave but i know where i need to be and i've accepted this distance from everyone and well, it sort of keeps me going. I cant waste this time here because i feel as if it would be all for nothing if i let this opportunity slip by. Having my parents here really made me miss everyone back at home and every one of you who receive this email. Even though we may not speak, know that you are thought of and missed.

8/20/11 Year Two: Going back to the Seminary

So big surprise, I am home and ready to go back to Mt. Angel. I know I haven’t written in over a month so I am a bit behind but it has been such a crazy journey, I really had to step back and analyze everything in order to really put it all together.

School was turning out well until I realized I was not going to get the private student loan until the end of September. That wouldn’t have been too bad if my job would have given me the 40 hours a week they said they would. They changed their mind and said they would "eventually" give me the 40 hrs/week. Not only that, it was costing me $14/day just to get up and back from work. So most of my check went to traveling expenses.

Spiritually I also realized a lot about myself and what I truly am being called to.

1: I kept praying that God would open doors for me and well, I noticed that I was clearly looking for the wrong doors. Haha more about this to come.

2: I was laying in my bed one night and I kinda realized that the person I am would really fit the life of a person who gives their lives to a ministry such as the priesthood. As if I was made for more then just being a teacher/parent.Of course i have to mature a lot. but that's normal.

3: Even while I was in NY, I noticed that most of the time when I went to church, I could see myself as the priest behind the altar. I brushed it off the first couple of times this happened but I couldn’t ignore it after a while because I felt at peace every time.

And lastly, when I told Fr. John (my vocations director) about all of this, he offered to get me back into the seminary and pay for my flight back to California. I had to literally say that I wanted to return though. He makes us express ourselves accurately which is good because it helps us learn to express our spirituality. So I felt like Jonah wanting to escape God’s call only to be dragged back to where God wanted him. Haha.

NYC is amazing and I miss it already. I loved every moment of my time out there. From seeing an actual flash mob to walking the Brooklyn bridge. Running in Central Park to traveling 2 hours (4 round trip) to work 3 times a week. Even the trash can full of maggots that we found in our apartment. Teri told me to find those moments that we will hang on to for the rest of our lives and I did. I have enough memories to last me a lifetime.

NYC helped me understand God’s call for me and accept it at a deeper level. Last year I wanted to leave because I wanted to get married and be a teacher. Of course I would still love to get married. That feeling might  not change for a while; however I understand what God wants of me now and I know the sacrifice that every priest has to make. And I accept this for “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed”.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Last Journal

            So I made my decision official as of last Friday. I still feel comfortable.. I feel stress free.. I feel at peace with my decision and yes I am leaving the seminary after this semester which ends on Saturday. As I sit here and reflect on this year I can say that it has been the best year of my life and no one will ever be able to take this experience away from me. I’ve met some really holy people. I’ve gained great friends. I’ve lost a few too but only time will tell how that all turns out. I truly saw the beauty of the priesthood. I’ve see what it is to a servant and I’ve grown in holiness. 

            Three major things that I am leaving with: 

             I’ve fell in love with spiritual direction and cannot see my life without it. As soon as I get back, I will find a priest who can continue to help me see the road in front of me. I can best describe it by seeing a road filled with debris and as soon as I meet with a spiritual director, He helps me clean up the road so I can better fallow it.
            Another thing I am leaving with is the desire to learn and to give back what I learn. I am not the smartest man in the world but I know I am gifted and I am a good teacher. I just hope I can one day find a career in the education field. 

            Lastly, I’ve realized that I am called to one day get married. My spiritual director told me to be diligent so I will “be diligent” in finding the woman I’m supposed to marry. After all, I cannot find something I’m not looking for. I will be able to see God in this person and if I’m right for her, she’ll be able to see God in me. 

            So for now, I’m just relaxing and cherishing every moment I have with my seminarian brothers and I will pray each prayer as if it’s my last. after all it will be my last moments up here on the hill top. I’m excited to get life going outside the seminary because I have direction and I am confident in the person that I’ve become.
Thank you all so much for being a part of this amazing journey. I know its been like a Mexican tele-novela but its been well worth it. 

Much love and God bless you!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Holy Week

            So Lent is over and Jesus has risen from the dead. As He has risen, there’s a certain joy in the air. We as Christians are blessed to re-live these days every year because it reminds us what was given to us. The sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us in order to show us true love. 

I was able to spend Holy Week at home working at a local parish near where I live. The trip taught me a lot in so many different ways. I learned a lot about Liturgy and the importance of catering it to the community (when possible). I wanted to speak to my Pastor regarding my discernment process but I never got the chance because we were all super busy. The day that I had off, well, he did too.

 Now that I’m back in Oregon, I have 2 more weeks left. I think next Tuesday is our last day of classes, Wednesday and Thursday and finals, Friday is moving day (for everyone who is moving rooms) and Saturday is graduation. After Graduation we’re officially on summer break until August. I know I told everyone that I would post my decision whether or not I would be leaving the Seminary after Easter but I am waiting until my next journal.

This year has been one of my best years. There have been many ups and downs but I know that I’ve grown as a person. I’ve grown intellectually, I’ve grown spiritually and I’ve grown into deeper love for God. Granted, I still have my faults; I still can be immature and over react, but I know that I am a way better person now than I’ve ever been. And I will continue to grow no matter what road I take because I feel that I have learned how to ask myself questions and how to reflect on things in a way that will help me get out of those sticky situations that life can throw at us. Above all, I know God loves me and that He is always with me, especially when I’m down. There’s nothing we could ever do, that will make Him love us less.

God bless and I miss you all.