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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meditation on a Daily Meditation


I really miss shooting my bow.  Like, a lot.  Like, it's just sitting in my closet collecting dust.  Yet I hear it calling my name.  But I don't have the time to answer.

But if I did, I wouldn't just jump back into shooting a bunch of arrows at once.  You see, I shoot a 38lb bow.  I have terrible upper body strength unless I practice.

And I have to practice a lot if I am to hit the bullseye 3 times like what is pictured above.  Ultimately in archery, you want to be hitting the bullseye because that nets you the most points.  And to hit such a small target from a distance is a testament to one's strength, skill, and focus.  A measure of success, for sure.

But, we live in a crazy world.  There are some of those out there that would say that I should redefine the meaning of the bullseye so that any time my arrow hits the target, it is a bullseye.  That's ridiculous!  That's cheating!  You can't just...change what the bullseye is just so you can score a 10 to to say "hey, I'm doing better!"  The Olympics committee wouldn't find that acceptable!  That wouldn't fit in with how they have defined the bullseye in order to win a gold medal at the summer games!

A quote from Fr. Alfonse:
"There are two ways for an archer to hit his intended target: either by shooting an arrow through it or by changing his mind.  The only reason why we keep thinking we are doing better is because we keep redefining what 'success', 'life', 'marriage' and 'family' mean.  But beware!  If we can play this game, then others can too, and with words like 'freedom' and 'liberty'. "
 Something to think about.  And I love archery.
- JD

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Our Lady of Walsingham

Earlier this weekend, I blogged about how I'm out of town for the weekend due to a friend's wedding.  In this previous blog post, I also mentioned that I'd make it a point to go visit Catholic churches whenever I'm traveling about by myself.

So, the main motivation behind this idea was to go visit Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church in Houston, TX.  An old-but-new-friend now calls that parish his home--Father Chuck Hough IV.  I had the pleasure of meeting Fr. Chuck a year ago when he landed a job in religious education at my home parish. I met him and his lovely family at a backyard party, haha.  Fun facts: a) we both went to Texas A&M, b) my current spiritual director is his former spiritual director.  Lastly, he grew up in the Anglican Church.  He was ordained as an Anglican priest and after conversion and discernment, has been welcomed into the Catholic Church.  He was recently ordained as a Catholic priest (see Bishop Vann's blog on that here) and his Ordinary assigned him to Our Lady of Walsingham.  Kind of big news in the Catholic world because in addition to him being ordained, his father, Chuck Hough III, was also ordained as a Catholic priest.  Father and son. Catholic priests.  A rarity, for sure!

So, in my travel worked out best for me to fly in and out of Bush Intercontinental.  And a few days ago, the idea popped in my head that I should go visit Fr. Chuck IV since I'd be in town anyway.  Yeah, the church is out of the way coming from the east towards Houston, since it's on the west side and the airport is on the north side.  But ...I figured...why the heaven, not? Haha.

This morning, when I left my hotel at Orange, TX ...I thought to myself, "Self, hey...I should try to see if I can sneak in a confession before the 10:30AM Mass at Our Lady of Walsingham..."  So I check out and leave Orange, TX at 7:30AM.  Two hour drive later, I'm at the church.

I get there right as Mass ended.  I awkwardly walk around trying to look like a parishioner and know what I'm doing, but I don't know where I'm going...but I find the narthex of the church.  And I see Fr. Chuck IV conversing with members of the parish.  I awkwardly stand there until he notices me.  And finally he does! Fightin' Texas Aggie handshake (normal, but joyful and intense).  Exchange of "how are you?s" After he wraps up conversing with other parishioners, he takes me on a tour of the church and grounds.

A bullet list of what he showed/told me:

  • Our Lady of Walsingham's architecture replicates the style and format of 11th century churches in England.  What that means exactly and how do I describe that, I'm not sure.  It looks like a castle on the outside?  The inside has huge pillars outlining the perimeter.  
  • The altar is right up against the tabernacle because Mass is celebrated ad orientem, or "to the east."  In other words, most of the times, the priest and deacons have their back to you.  
  • There is a choir loft.  In other words, the choir is up on the balcony and you cannot see them.  Organ is up there as well.
  • One of the trancepts of the church is actually a chapel whereby the chapel is a replica of Mary's house in Nazareth.  Same dimensions.  He showed me inside, and in addition to the tabernacle, he pointed out the statue of the image of Our Lady of Walsingham, which her most prominent feature is that she's wearing a crown.
  • The chapel connects outside and you can see the shrine, pictured below.  It's a replica of the real shrine in England.

Half-size Replica of the original Our Lady of Walsingham Shrine in England
Courtesy of
Cool.  After showing me around, he tells me he'll start hearing confessions after he takes like a ...10-minute break.  So I go back into the church and get in the confession line.  I pray for a while.  I actually was one person short of going to Confession because Fr. Chuck had to prepare for Mass, so I didn't get to go.  But he said he could resume Confession after Mass.

So, I move up further in the pews and prepare for Mass.  Now,  I must say...Our Lady of Walsingham used to be an Anglican church.  I'm not sure on the history, but the community converted to Catholicism at some point, and they received permission from Blessed Pope John Paul II to continue using the Anglican way of doing Mass.  It's called "Anglican use."

Now, I'd like to describe the things that make this particular Anglican use Mass unique compared to what I'm normally used to at my own parish.

Bulleted form:

  • I participated in the Solemn Mass at think that's their equivalent of our High Mass.  
  • During the procession, altar servers carry the cross like normal, but are then followed by the choir, the rest of the altar servers, then the clergy.  I thought it interesting that the choir would be part of the procession.
  • Choir sings the antiphons prior to each section of the Mass
  • Readings are the same, but a different translation is used
  • Every time the name of Jesus Christ is said, the whole congregation bows their head in honor 
  • The Penitential Rite, though different, was recited while kneeling, and was recited AFTER the Nicene Creed, whereas we normally do it at the beginning of Mass after the opening prayer.  Then after being sorry for our grievous faults, then came the "peace be with you"s, normally done after the Our Father at my parish.  Haha that was awkward for me...
  • Announcements and birthday/anniversary blessings were done prior to the Offertory
  • During Intercessions, the response was "Lord, have mercy" instead of "Lord, hear our prayer."
  • In general, the liturgy uses an Anglican translation of the Latin Mass.  These translations are older than the translation used after Vatican II.  So,  you can hear and say words familiar to us with the new translation.  However, because the Anglican church originated in England, you'll find more ye olde English in the missal.  Ex. "And with thy spirit"  instead of "And with your spirit."   So there's definitely more thee's, thy's, etc.  I'm not sure to what extent the new translation of the English Mass had on the liturgy in Anglican use churches.
  • There were no Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.  Only the ordained ministered the Eucharist.
  • The Eucharist is given to the faithful via altar rails and by method of tincture.  So, in order to receive the Eucharist, you have to kneel at the rails located at the front of the sanctuary.  Tincture is where the Body is dipped into the Blood before ministered to the faithful.  The deacons and altar servers carry a plate and hold it below so as not to spill either species.
  • In general, a lot more words/prayers were said during this Mass.  And the postures and gestures were different or rather, more deliberate.  Like, you make the sign of the cross, kneel, bow, genuflect more often during the Mass.  I noticed that where it's usually optional for us, they normally do it anyway.  Like, it's just...part of what they do.  

I'm sure I'm forgetting other little differences...if I remember, I'll add to the list and make it obvious that I updated.

After Mass concluded, I awkwardly waited around for Fr. Chuck to finish catching up with parishioners and he finally heard my confession.  We briefly talked and he asked me what I thought about the Mass.  I told him that I was impressed by the level of reverence from the congregation--something often desired in Catholic Masses that I've been to.  Just with all the solemn prayers and gestures/postures, ad orientem-ing, and ...just everything...  He acknowledged that Msgr. Hart, my pastor back home and his former boss, is aiming to bring about a more reverent Mass experience...slowly, but surely.  You can't just throw mandatory changes all at once.  That would be too much of a shock!  And yes, I can vouch...SEAS definitely has a more reverent feel to it than it used to, thanks to the slow changes that Msgr. Hart has brought.

Anyway, this was a really cool experience--to visit a new church to visit with someone from "back home" and to experience Mass in a different way.  I'm grateful for the opportunity!  Even if it required me to cancel my flight plans because the whole visit lasted way longer than I originally planned on...but it was worth it.  Not even mad.  I'd take a Mass and freshly clean soul over catching a flight, haha.

Annnnd, I have legit reason to go back and visit...after all, I couldn't receive the Eucharist ...via tincture, for that matter.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us! That we be made worthy of the promises of Christ!

- JD

Saturday, July 21, 2012


One does not simply have GK Swag.
I just finished G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy this past week. For those of you who don't know, Chesterton was an English writer and philosopher at the turn of the 20th century. Catholic. And he wore his apologetics hat very well, if you conclude that he wears hats at all.

What prompted me to read Orthodoxy was a quick browse through the Kindle store and noticing that some of Chesterton's works were free. So I thought, "oh why not! It's free anyway!" Boom. Downloaded.

But you see, I wasn't quite prepared to handle reading Chesterton just yet. Up until then, to me he was just a popular name that came up every now and then when I hear Catholics quoting Catholics. No big deal. I started reading Orthodoxy without really knowing who Chesterton was. And to my asking and receiving, Orthodoxy is essentially his arguments as to why he converted and why orthodoxy is necessary.

Man. He's an intelligent fellow. To be honest, it was a little difficult to follow with what he was saying throughout the book because he writes with English wit, paradoxes and referenced a bunch of other writers and philosophers that I'm unfamiliar with.

I will say though, he does offer a different type of perspective on Catholic orthodoxy. He, like, compares the philosophy of orthodoxy to other philosophies to show the fallacies or shortcomings of non-Christian ideals. And he says everything with that English wit. Awesome.

I'm probably going to read this book again down the line when I've matured a bit more in the Catholic faith.

Mmm. Orthodoxy.
- JD

Friday, July 20, 2012

The 5th Joyful Mystery

I'm currently out of town for the weekend since I'm a groomsman for a college friend's wedding in Orange, TX.

A little while ago on Facebook, I decided that whenever I'm out traveling on my own to different places, I'll make it a point to go visit a Catholic church for a while knowing that the I'd find the same essentials no matter what Catholic church I end up visiting. I think that this brings about a sense of Home away from home.

The other day, I had the crazy idea of doing just that so I Googled what and where the local Catholic churches are in Orange. And I came across St. Mary's Catholic Church. And what caught my eye was that their chapel has perpetual Adoration! Score!

A little strange, but St. Mary's perpetual Adoration chapel is connected to their parish office across the street from the church. But that's ok. Luckily, I didn't have to type in any fancy codes into the door to get in.

So here I am now, blogging with Jesus.

He says hi
Finding Jesus in the "temple," indeed.
- JD

Sunday, July 15, 2012

DCYC 2012

Whew.  What a weekend!  I had the opportunity to chaperone our high school and middle school youth to our Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference.

DCYC offers several keynote speakers and a variety of workshops for youth and their leaders to grow deeper in ways to live an active Catholic life--all centered around the theme, which for this year is "Ignite my heart, I burn for you."  

I think this is a great theme because I have a thing for spiritual fire.  Hence, this blog's name, En Fuego.  I like how the keynote speakers and Bishop Vann brought the idea that if you're spiritually on fire, you have to do something about it.  The Holy Spirit burns brightly within us all and ...what, then, is our response?  And DCYC this year got us thinking more about what our response could be.  Just don't stand near candles lest your garments be on fire literally, as advised by Bishop Vann haha!

But, I don't want to focus so much on what was said by the keynote speakers.  Besides, I cannot hope to recreate in typing of words their energy and fire for I can't do it any justice.  Rather, I want to focus on my observations of seeing the Catholic youth...particularly the youth from my own parish...and other cool things that have all to do with the meat of the weekend's experience.  While DCYC isn't really meant to really dig deeper in Catholic spirituality, the various events offer ways to just...get excited about being Catholic which hopefully leads to a desire to grow deeper in the faith.

This is my second time going to DCYC, and after this year I definitely see its value of how it can bring a group together closer by building community and sharing in the Catholic faith doing Catholic things.  This is especially true of our youth at SEAS.  

Friday Night
I arrived late since I came straight from work, but I picked up pizzas.  Then delivered the pizzas.  Many from our youth group came to the table of plenty of Cici's pizzas.  There was bonding in each group over cheese and pepperoni.  And sausage.

We went through night prayer and the first keynote speaker.  Had a mini dance party with DJ Bill Lage of Catholic Dance fame.  

Gathered up again after Friday's events.  There was a reading from Jeremiah 1 for night prayer service that we felt like deserved digging deeper into and really chewing on the message of that Scripture passage.  So when we gathered back before bedtime, our youth minister led us through a sort of Lectio Divina, reflecting on the words from Jeremiah 1.  God knew us before we were formed in the womb, and even before He formed us, He called us.  We are set aside as prophets to proclaim the Good News.  

I don't know when...but at some point on Friday night we apparently adopted Sr. Giovanna Mariae and Sr. Grace Dominic of the Sisters of Life.  Just to take care of them and hang out with them and invite them to things that we're doing for the rest of the weekend.  They were grateful for our invitations and hospitality.

Lastly, bed time.

This day was workshop day.  Everyone could go to various workshops on their own, so it's impossible for me to recount the experiences that anyone experienced through these workshops.  After all, I'm only one person and cannot multi-locate and can't be everywhere at once! (#piojokes).  However, there is one workshop I can speak for--the one that I helped lead. ;-)

Gabe and I led the "Man Up! Exploring the Role of Men in Relationships and in Society" workshop.  The workshop went really well! We asked the guys that attended (who were of different parishes) to partner up and talk about the manliest movies they've seen, and the manliest characters they know of.  Then we discussed what makes these manly characters...manly.  After that, we had a slideshow displaying various manly images.  The cool thing is...the slideshow goes from images that focus on steaks and strength, then crescendos to fatherhood and ultimately to Jesus Christ on the cross.  I then talked about interior strength and its importance.  Gabe focused on who men are for women.  And I think the most fruitful thing we did in our workshop was splitting up the crowd of guys 8 ways and provided each group with a different situation that tested how they can man up in that situation.  Example:  You're alone with your girlfriend in her house and the temptation and opportunity are there to go further--how do you man up?  After sharing everyone's answers, we provided them with the link to, which is an online group of men dedicated to loving the women of their lives (especially their wives) as Christ loved His Church (as in, Ephesians 5).  Boom roasted.  Annnnd the cool part was...we got a lot of positive feedback from the adults and young men who attended that workshop, many handshakes from guys, and one or two guys even stayed longer to ask questions on how to deal with a situation.  Beautiful.  I loved seeing how fired up the guys were towards the end!  Ignited their masculine hearts, perhaps? :-)

Insert more workshops and keynote speaking here.

A tradition that we have is eating dinner with St. Ann's of Burleson on Saturday evening of DCYC.  In DCYC prep meetings, we had a group of guys plan some ice breakers to play with St. Ann's youth.  And that's exactly what we did!  After a while, we even got some of our chaperones and Srs. Giovanna and Grace to play with us!  After playing several games, we feasted on Spring Creek barbecue and Chicken Express.  And there was much mingling.  Oh, and the band Jesus Team A was having their sound check like...the whole time while we were playing games and eating dinner.  

St. Ann's leaves...and we tried gathering our SEAS youth into the corner of the room to have a mini-meeting and announcements.  We gather into the corner...and zomg.  For whatever reason, everyone started busting out singing "Lean On Me" !  Jesus Team A decided to start providing music to the youth singing.  Then ...the whole ordeal evolved into a dance party for a good solid 15 minutes with Jesus Team A doing "Lean On Me" and "Hold Us Together" and other songs.  A dance party!  It just...happened.  Like, no one said "hey let's have a dance party!"  Totally organic in how it happened.  Freakin' awesome!  

We finally had our announcements.  The rest of the evening was a sort of free-for-all of what you wanted to do because various activities were available like board games, movies, dancing, talent show, praying, etc.

Here's what I did and saw:
I went over to the Prayer Room because I wanted to join in on praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet let by another parish ... in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  Unfortunately, I caught the last decade...but that's okay!  I still stuck around for a good long while in Adoration.  Since I could see the door to the room out of the corner of my eye while facing Jesus...I could see who walked into the room.  The cool thing is, whenever I walked in, there was already a good group of our SEAS youth.  And when we finished the DMC, there was a constant trickling in of different SEAS people, youth and adults.  Groups of our youth, too!  Especially the younger ones and the ones that I don't know very well.  SEAS made sure not to make Jesus feel lonely, and I just think it's awesome that we were well-represented in keeping Jesus company.  I left after a while then hit up the talent show/coffee house.

I really needed coffee at this point and I knew that the talent show had some while they were also having a talent show.  This is where I spent most of my time because some of our youth participated in the talent show.  Let me just say, after seeing our youth perform...I'm impressed!  One of our guys is pursuing a career as a professional rappper and he performed a rap that he had just written the night before.  And oh my gosh, it was so good.  I could really feel the passion in his rap about how things are going bad, but there's redemption in it all.  One of my fellow young adult chaperones shed some tears because it was that good.  Awesome.  Another one of our guys likes to sing.  A lot.  He performed "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz and he has a really good voice!  I was impressed.  Another group of our guys performed with some of their Camp Fort Worth friends a cover of Paul Kim's "From Shore to Shore."  That's when I found out that one of our guys can do spoken word rap really, really well.  Like, whoa.  I, too, was impressed by that.  These same guys, minus their CFW friends, also did their own performance of the "Catholic Pick-Up Line Song" by David Casper (a fellow Aggie Catholic).  That was awesomely hilarious.  And ironic, too, if you know those guys.  I'm inclined to tell a Catholic girl that I'd be her second class relic if she just gives me a kiss on the cheek.  Haha anyway...

Also, there was a Franciscan Friar sighting at the talent show.  Fr. Pio, in fact.  He was swarmed. 

We concluded the conference night with another big dance party with DJ Bill.  I realized I need to work on my Bernie dance, but it's hard to do without punching someone accidentally.  

Like the night before, we gathered as a group again.  This time we prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet in our usual sung version.  Oh my gosh!  I think the combination of most everyone knowing how to sing the Chaplet, the acoustics of the room, and just the movement of the Holy Spirit made for a really, really, really beautiful praying of the Chaplet. We sung the Salve Regina after the DMC and that was really beautiful too!  Like, truly, a blessing to have a solid group of youth who can sing well and so beautifully.

Then bed time.  Kind of. Stayed up late doing chaperone things.  To our youth that is reading this blog post...I don't apologize for listening to your door to make sure you're asleep and not making noise.  But believe me, I was sneaking around like a Catholic ninja in the hallway.  :-D

Sunday (Today)
By today, I could tell that most everyone in our youth group has bonded such can tell that everyone is comfortable and friendly with each other.  

I think the one really cool thing our youth did today was...worship disobedience.  You know, tis hard to find a venue to hold ~1500 people, and thankfully the hotel's ballroom has enough space for chairs.  An announcement was made prior to Mass that because the space is tight (which it wasn't), it's okay to stand during the Eucharistic Prayer (in other words, stay standing after singing the Holy, Holy, Holy).  Believe it or not...I didn't have to look around and give looks of "umm...that's going to be awkward" because there was already a group of youth around me saying that they're going to kneel anyway.  And within a minute, the memo of "we're still going to kneel" spread throughout our group.  So, when it came of us kneeled.  And I'm pretty sure our group was the only group kneeling in that part of that room that I could see.  Awesome.  I think that just speaks loudly of how our youth approaches Liturgy and the Mass...that we know what's going on during the Eucharistic Prayer and that we have a genuine desire to revere Christ in humility.  We kneeled not because we know it's a rule or ordinary practice, but because we wanted to...  Besides, there was room to kneel.  But...bottom line...that was really wonderful to see...because we know.  We know Who becomes truly present during the Consecration.  And that's the time to be reverent and focused.  :-)

(Disclaimer:  While I haven't looked up whether you HAVE TO kneel during the Eucharist Prayer in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, I would imagine that the GIRM allows for flexibility depending on circumstances...But, the whole point is...SEAS is just doing what we do normally, even if told otherwise).

Anyway, after Mass and during dismissal/parent pickup...a lot of us said goodbye to the Sisters of Life...a good group of us befriended them and made them feel welcome to our group.

All in all, this was a really great weekend for our youth to bond together.  Actually, not just the youth.  I feel like I've bonded with the other chaperones too.  We have some new faces and I feel like that serving the youth helped us bond together too.  :-)  I'm seeing posts on Facebook and Twitter about how positive an experience it was from some of our youth already! 

So yes, our hearts were ignited through sharing in the Catholic faith this weekend.  Hopefully we keep the fire burning as we continue to do our SEAS things for the rest of the summer...and now I'm getting more pumped for the start of another year as a volunteer!  After all, being on have to do something about that. ;-)

Oftentimes, I feel truly blessed to be part of SEAS Youth Ministry because...I don't know...the way we bond together and our appreciation for orthodoxy ...and just how brightly our hearts's just really really awesome to see that. Inspiring.  And this weekend was just another affirmation of that.

Ignite my heart.
- JD

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


No, I'm not talking about a line of cologne for men.

But rather...I was just thinking back to a comment on one of my Facebook posts.  Perhaps I like posting Catholic things regarding sexuality and things of that nature on Facebook/Twitter.  But I haven't in a long while... And people like confronting me about those posts.  Which is great!  I like a challenge.  But long story short...this one time, a friend of mine brought up that the Catholic Church's obsession with sexuality is unhealthy.  I didn't take offense to this.  And I don't think I ever responded to that.  But I've given it some thought since then.

Honestly, I think the Catholic Church's obsession with sexuality isn't unhealthy...rather, it's the general lack of obsession of sexuality in society that is unhealthy.  In the sexually-saturated world that we live in, you're probably thinking, "wait, aren't we pretty obsessed with sex?" ...and to that, I would agree!  But, not fully.  Because the general obsession with sexuality that I see out there in the world lacks the fullness of authentic sexuality.  In other words, the world is obsessed with sex! Yes! But only some reduced or twisted form of it.  And that's not Catholic.

You see, the Catholic Church is obsessed with the beauty and truth of sexuality as God intended.  And we can reason what the purpose of sexuality is based on natural law, which examines the human body and we can use reason and logic to conclude why male and female and sexual union.  Ultimately, because we, human beings, are God's creation...our very being, our bodies...point towards God and His Love.   The one flesh union between man and woman in the marital embrace speaks the language of God's love.  That's Catholic.

Sex is a beautiful thing.  And anything that takes away from its beauty is most likely not in line with what the Catholic Church teaches on sex.

So yeah, obsession.  The Catholic Church is obsessed with sex because the current worldview isn't obsessed with it enough.

All of this deserves more reflection and explanation, but...not in this blog post.  I'm just thinking about obsession.  But thankfully, much of that reflection and explanation has already been done.

In the unending search for truth in sexual obsession, Catholic-style, here are some topics/people worth Googling for more info:
Theology of the Body and Blessed Pope John Paul II
Christopher West
Jason & Crystalina Evert
Humanae Vitae by Pope Pius VI

Faith. Hope. Charity. Obsession.
- JD

Sunday, July 8, 2012

But how?

You know, I have several Internet-connected devices with access to my blog, and I don't do a good job of blogging on a whim because my life is Catholic and I think about being Catholic a lot of the time....and I don't type it out. Or write it. Or whatever.

Anyway, I was just pondering about love. Often times on the Internet and on Facebook you see people making the argument that "God loves everyone!" Which is true. But isn't fully True, even if one or two verses from Scripture is thrown around. And I say that because no one cares to explain how God loves. One needs a fuller illustration of what "God loves everyone!" means. And you can't really squeeze that in one or two verses. You need like, two testaments, in order to do that.

So since God IS love...and we know this...we should explore HOW He loves.

I think what I'm trying to get at is my dissatisfaction with the argument that "God loves everyone!" without being able illustrate or show how He loves everyone.  I almost would challenge the person the next time I see it posted and ask them how does He loves.  Make 'em quote Scripture.  Whole chapters, not single verses.  Make 'em tell me how it applies to their lives.  But I need to be fluent in how God loves, myself. So much to pull from!  And there's a lot to learn. And praise God I'm Catholic with the desire to seek Truth and Love so that I can spread Truth and Love.

Pray on this, I will. You should, too! :-)

How He loves us so.
- JD

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Catholic Partyin'

Nuns have fun too, but this blog post about being Catholic at a bachelor party.

I'm currently sitting at an airport in Corpus Christi, TX waiting for a flight back home. I just got done spending time with two of my college buddies and their friends for my college buddies' combined bachelor party. They're getting married in a month and their weddings are two weeks part. Fun fact: they are each others' best man. Crazy, huh? I'm quite blessed and honored to be a groomsman in both of their weddings. I love those guys in a total bro way.

In summary, we didn't live out a plot line worthy of The Hangover 3, but the weekend was still full of adventure and some stereotypical bachelor party things.

I'm grateful that nothing crazy happened like someone harmed themselves or others from being too drunk, no wild cats ended up locked in the bathroom, no one got arrested, no nudity, no one got eaten by sharks, no one got mauled by seagulls and everyone still had lots of fun. I survived the weekend without a pressing need to make an appointment with a priest just to go to Confession, haha.

But without wasting time divulging the details from this weekend, I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I saw, heard, and experienced.

Because, being where I'm at now in my Catholic's difficult NOT to see the world through a Catholic lens. Even at bachelor parties.

This weekend made me think more about what it means to be a man. Not just any man, but man created in the image and likeness of God. How should he act and think? Does his outward expressions reflect his interior?  Questions like that. I know that, being a guy, we're built to be easily captivated by woman and her beauty, but it is easy to fall into wanting to satiate selfish desires. Too easy to view her as mere piece of flesh for the eyes and imagination to devour rather than seeing her soul past her outer beauty. And too much alcohol clouds the mind, the heart, and the eyes.

Also, this weekend made me think more about the vocation of marriage. It's interesting because for the man-about-to-be-married, he realizes that he must share in the life of another person and through that love...ANOTHER person comes to be. But sometimes I get the vibe from couples that married life is more about the husband and wife and not their future kids. And that's awkward to me. Really awkward.  Also, for the single guy or guy in a somewhat committed dating relationship with friends about-to-be married, it seems that the idea of marriage is like death.

(awkward pause where I don't do more blogging on the 45-minute flight back home because I'm an aerospace nerd and I was marveling at the wing and engine outside my window and then appreciated the tracts and tracts of land devoted to agriculture as observed from my vantage point thousands of feet in the air)

Why, to some guys, is marriage akin to death, worthy of the funeral march instead of wedding bells?  Is it because a married man is no longer a man free to do as he pleases?  That he can no longer enjoy non-commitment?  That his bros are no longer his highest priority?  Perhaps there is an element of truth of how getting married is like death.  No, it IS death--the death of self.  A man, if is he to live out true masculinity in marriage, needs to be willing to sacrifice his selfishness...his ego...his self-centeredness...his life...for her.  For her good.  To place her above himself.  To heaven.  It's not easy.  It's supposed to be difficult.  Where's the sense of adventure when he takes the easy route of looking and behaving inwardly?

Anyway, in brief summary...there's a lot to be thinking about in terms of what it means to be a man and what marriage means whenever you're at a bachelor party.  Worthy for other blog posts, undoubtedly.

Besides all that, there was other Catholic winning this weekend!

A friend I hadn't heard from in over a year...randomly calls me an an opportune lull in our bachelor partyin' to let me know that he has opened his heart to learn more about Catholicism.  Needless to say...I kind of disappeared from the rest of the guys for a while and ended up talking to my friend for over and hour to see where he was at and talk more about Catholicism.  Pretty dang awesome.  I'm so stoked to hear about stuff like that!

I feel like I should have blogged about or posted this somewhere...but...part of my devotions in participating in Fortnight 4 to pray a Rosary each day of the fortnight.  I have grown lax in my devoting a Rosary every day lately, and I have a renewed sense of commitment during this fortnight.  Not even a bachelor party stopped me from taking some time to do a Rosary each day!  What was really cool is I even got one of my friends who is getting married to join me for some Joyful praying ;-)

Lastly, I heard a Matt Maher song playing on the radio while on a Whataburger run this morning.  Sometimes all you gotta do is turn around!...and head back to the condo after securing some breakfast sandwiches...haha.

In conclusion, I had a pretty awesome weekend.  I hardly get the chance to hang out with my friends from college, and I'm grateful I had this opportunity to spend time with them before I show up as a groomsman for both their weddings next month.  Through stereotypical guy talk and life talk from a guy's perspective, I'm able to see the wisdom in having a Catholic perspective.  And it's not that hard to live out my Catholic faith in simple ways so as long as I will it and commit to doing it--while being receptive to those random out-of-the-blue moments, of course.

For ye-who-readeth this blog post, please keep my Future-Catholic-Friend-On-The-Phone in your prayers, that he continues to be open and receptive in all that the Catholic faith has to offer and that his desire to seek truth leads him closer to the greatest Truth of all--God.  Also keep my two College-Buddies-Who-Get-Married-Next-Month in your prayers, that they become prepared to take on the adventure that is marriage that images God's love.  Lastly, keep the rest of us guys also present at the bachelor party in your prayers, that we learn to live out authentic masculinity.  Deep down, that is what we, guys, all desire to do--to live as real men.

My life is Catholic.
- JD

The Way

The other day, I had the opportunity to watch The Way. The glorious thing about half-days at work with dentist appointments is that you end up having some time to watch Catholic movies! :-D lol

The Way is about a father losing his son who was on a pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago ("the way of St. James"), which is an 800km path beginning in France and ending in Spain where St. James is buried.

Because of the death of his son and learning more about El Camino, the father is motivated to complete the pilgrimage. Along the way (pun intended), he meets and travels with other pilgrims who are on El Camino for their own motivations.

While not as full of action and drama as For Greater Glory, which I saw last weekend, I thought that The Way was good. It showcases many of the sites along El Camino and the journey from town to town that the pilgrims have to make. And I think it also does a good job of developing the theme of the universality of the Church and her knack for drawing in outsiders as you see the characters develop in the movie.

Though it is a good story, probably the one take away from The Way is that it really makes me want to go on that pilgrimage myself!

So, I've added that to my bucket list.

Anyway, I recommend it!  The movie!...I'll get back to you on if I recommend going on the pilgrimage after I have first-hand experience. ;-)

Faith. Hope. Charity. Buen Camino.
- JD

Viva Cristo Rey

Last weekend I had the spur of the moment opportunity to go watch For Greater Glory. My friends and I caught a last showing of the movie that required us to drive like 30 miles from where we were at.

I had heard great things about the movie when it first came out, but due to my schedule, it's been really hard to go watch it with fellow Catholics.

But! By God's will and my sense of adventure, I was able to see it! Missed the first ten minutes but that's okay!

I don't want to give the details of the story away...but man. What a great movie. After watching it, I have a better idea of the sort of things that Catholics in Mexico had to deal with in the early 1900s. Quite honestly, it is terrible that their own government would actively persecute Catholics and prevent them from exercising their religious the point of outright killing them.

Given the current social, political, and religious climate that we're in right n now, the release of this movie could not have been more timely. While I don't expect the United States to sink low enough to start killing us for being Catholic, our government sure is making it difficult for us to exercise our beliefs freely by forcing us to go against our conscience.

I won't spend the time commenting on all that in this blog post and besides, I think you can find more eloquent and compelling commentary elsewhere.

But, I just to have to say... For Greater Glory inspires me. Am I willing to stand up for religious freedom, even staring death in the face if necessary? My answer approaches "yes." But I'm discerning the best approach.

There are reasons why there are a good handful of Cristeros who are on the road to be canonized or have been canonized already. For Greater Glory highlights some of them, especially in the credits.

I think every Catholic should watch For Greater Glory. Do we ask ourselves enough the question: what is the price of freedom?

Either way...

It's a good movie.  We have a legit cause to fight for.

Now is an exciting time to be Catholic. :-)

Faith. Hope. Charity. Religious liberty.
- JD