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Monday, October 29, 2012

40 Days for Life 2012: Week 4

So this past time that I was at the abortion clinic...I ended up...being all by my lonesome.  For whatever reason, the other usual faces during my hour weren't there.  Umm.  Yeah, a little awkward.  A little bit concerned, I was.  And I prayed my Rosary like a paranoid Catholic looking around at least once every decade.  But I finally got through with praying a Rosary.

I finished praying my Rosary when I decided to sit down on the sidewalk and contemplate what I should blog about for this week.  I even got out my phone and pulled up my blogging app and stared at the blank screen thinking about what to blog about.  I think I sat there for a good solid 5-10 minutes.  Couldn't think of anything.  I just kind of figured that I wouldn't worry about it and blog about it later in the week...

...then I heard him.  Something incoherent, but definitely a voice coming up behind me in the lawn-that-must-not-be-trespassed (there's a private property next to the sidewalk across from the abortion clinic).  I look behind me.  I see an African-American man dressed normal, carrying a plastic bag, and asking me something.

Not gonna lie, I was thrown off for a sec or two because I wasn't expecting someone else to be around because I've been paranoid about looking around and saw no one.  He came up closer to me and he kept asking me how much longer this 40 days thing lasted.  So I answered him.  We have two more weeks.

Then he started going on a spiel about how he doesn't think that praying to end abortion is effective.  He says he's Christian and that he reads the Bible.  Then he quoted some Bible verses, which may or may not be relevant.  He kept going on about "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" ...which I didn't quite make the connection on how that relates to abortion and prayer.

Then he went on about how abortion is bad...but it's okay in the cases of rape or before the baby in the womb looks like a baby.  Then he talked about how he knows two methods of abortion:  pick and pull (I apologize for that not sounding scientific), and the pill.  I didn't bother with trying to enlighten him with the truth about how abortion is morally wrong in all cases since he kept on talking without really allowing me to reply with anything.  And besides that, the last thing I wanted to do was to get into any sort of argument with a complete stranger when I'm all by myself.

After talking about abortion, he tangented off with some other spiel about how he always gets stopped by the cops.  This was probably instigated because as we were standing there, a cop truck did pass by within a few minutes of him coming up to talk to me.  The policemen in the truck had their flashlights on.  And I haven't mentioned this yet, but there was a helicopter circling around the general area for a while.  I guess they were looking for someone.

Anyway, he gave some sort of back story that I couldn't quite follow since he was talking kind of fast and slightly incoherently.  I think, if I understood him correctly, he was a truck driver for a while and lived in Florida before coming to Texas, where he talked about some specific examples of why he was stopped by police.  He went on about that for a while.

Maybe like...10-15 minutes of listening to him, another 40 Days for Life person showed up (praise God!).  That's when the homeless man left.  It was at that point that I asked him what his name was--Frank.

So, he went walking off after the other 40 Days for Life guy showed up.  He did come back before I left but didn't stop to talk to any of us.

Not gonna lie, when he first showed up I was a little freaked out because I didn't know what he would do or say.  But after listening to him for a bit, I decided he was not going to hurt me.  I figured he just wanted someone to listen to him, and lending my ear was no problem at all.  He didn't ask for anything.  He just...talked.  A lot.  Animatedly, too.

I just think it's cool that...I was just sitting there wondering what to blog about for this week's blog post and BAM!  ...he shows up.  I guess I asked and then received, haha.

But I ask that you please pray for Frank!  For whatever reason, he has no home.  Pray that the very least that anyone he encounters can do is to give him his dignity and help him.  And also pray for him in regards to his views on the sanctity of life.  The fullness of truth demands that human life is precious no matter the method of conception.

Here's to two more weeks of 40 Days for Life!
- JD

Last year, I wrote an open letter to my spiritually adopted baby.  Click here to read.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Vow of Chastity by St. Faustina

I was at Confession earlier and...prior to going in, I was like..."Oh hey, I have the Diary of St. Faustina in my car...I should bring it with me!"

So I did.

I'm not very far in St. Faustina's diary because...she's...well, every entry is rather substantial.  I mean, there's a lot of meat to it.  At least, it seems so.  I feel like I need to be in the right frame of mind in order to fully appreciate what she's writing about.

But regardless, I came across the part where she offers a little catechesis on vows that religious take. keeping with a new tradition of thinking about Theology of the Body on Thursdays...I'll just echo what she wrote regarding the vow of chastity:

From #93
Q: What are the means by which this virtue may be preserved?
A: To conquer interior temptations with the thought of the presence of God, and moreover to fight without fear.  And for exterior temptations, to avoid occasions.  There are, in all, seven principal means, to guard the senses, to avoid occasions, to avoid idleness, to remove temptations promptly, to remove oneself from all -- and especially particular friendships, the spirit of mortification, and to reveal all these temptations to one's confessor.
Besides this, there are also five means of preserving this virtue: humility, the spirit of prayer, modesty of the eyes, fidelity to the rule, a sincere devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Temptations of the flesh are like shiny objects to our squirrely life.  So attractive.  And I like how St. Faustina speaks of conquering the interior temptations by filling yourself with God.  And for the exterior temptations...simple removal from those things that are tempting.

But, that's stuff I've heard before.  And I realize that this in context to the vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience that religious brothers and sisters take, but I still think this is useful.  What really prompted me to write this blog post was the five means she listed in order to preserve the virtue of chastity: humility, the spirit of prayer, modesty of the eyes, fidelity to the rule, and a sincere devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Cool stuff.  I know I need to work on some of these means  More prayer and reflection, that's for sure.

Challenge accepted.  St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, pray for us!
- JD

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Taste

Last week I paid off $700 towards my trip to Brazil next year for World Youth Day 2013.  Not gonna lie, I got pretty excited because that payment makes me somewhere halfway to paying off for the trip.  Pretty exciting!!!

And yesterday, I had a little taste of World Youth Day.  My diocese and the other major neighboring diocese hold their own smaller scale World Youth Day once a year at Six Flags Over Texas.  No big deal.  What a great way to test your faith and sense of mortality whenever you ride of some those roller coasters! Lol...

I had a lot of fun riding Mr. Freeze, Batman, the Shockwave, and Runaway Mountain.  Lines were long...all these Catholics were in line for some reason... Haha.

Six Flags Over Texas is a fairly large park, and it seemed like every other person was wearing some sort of t-shirt representing their parish.  I never fully grasped just how many people were there for World Youth Day until the closing Mass with the bishops.  I estimate something over 2000+ people were there for this event--kinda crazy.  Yet we fit inside of Six Flags' amphitheater.  A Mass gathering, if you will.

When I went to this event last year, that was my first time ever serving as a Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion during the closing Mass.  I was called upon to serve as an EMHC again for this year, and the opportunity is always so humbling because ...well...I'm not worthy that Jesus should enter under my roof, yet me, a lowly servant, must literally present Him to the faithful to share that intimate communion with Him.  Annnnd, not only that, I was part of an army of EMHC's because...there was this huge Mass gathering of Catholics.  Cool stuff.

Lastly, this was a significant event.  This is probably one of the last few (or THE last?) major youth event that we get to see Bishop Vann since he's going SOCAL on us.  A cherished moment in having him celebrate the Mass for us, for sure.  And I laugh because his homily was about Twitter, and he did his usual Confirmation routine of asking questions about if we could tweet today's message, what would those tweets be?

Anyway, again...Six Flags was but a mere taste of the big World Youth Day knowing that Rio's World Youth Day will be on a much grander scale.  And my excitement only grows from here!

Walk by faith.
- JD

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

40 Days for Life 2012: Week 3

Halfway there!

I saw a tweet earlier giving a sort of status update on how 40 Days for Life is going as a whole.  I didn't have time to read it the article earlier.  Something about 198 lives saved so far!  That's awesome!

And just now, I read the blog on the main 40 Days for Life page that says as of Day 20, 198 babies (and their moms!) have been saved from abortion through this campaign.  In 40 Days for Life language, they are a 'confirmed save'...meaning that volunteers and coordinators can confirm that the woman, in fact, did change her mind regarding abortion.

Too awesome!

You can read the blog post here, which includes some stories:

Also, I received an email in my Inbox giving me an update on the sidewalk counselor seminar that I'm attending this Saturday!  I'm excited! Yet nervous as to the responsibilities and care that such a role demands.  But, even though I don't feel confident in my ability...I'm available.

- JD

Last year's blog post from 40 Days for Life Week 4.

Friday, October 12, 2012

40 Days for Life 2012: Week 2

I want to begin by further reflecting on why I'm pro-life.  Because it's not as cool to say that I'm pro-death.  Because calling myself anti-choice is kind of awkward because I choose to be pro-life.  Because the vibrant beauty of this world resides in life itself.  How empty and boring this world would be if it didn't have life.

And how can I go against life?

I remember learning more about abortion when I was a youngin' in high school.  What sticks out to me the most was my youth minister's wife explaining the various surgical methods for abortion.  How grotesque they can be!  The use of chemicals, powerful vacuums, surgical instruments...blehhh.  And Planned Parenthood tries to sugar coat their in-clinic procedures when describing them.  Certainly, learning about these methods of abortion was enough to make me go pro-life.  But what really helped me enforce my pro-lifeness was learning about fetal development from conception to birth.  I found it fascinating really is a baby inside of her womb even if you can't tell that she's pregnant from the outside.  And I didn't know how early some of the organs and features began to form and develop.  Cool stuff!

But all that was not enough to make it really sink in for me.  "Because I know this, therefore I know that pro-life is the way to go."  How then, do I apply my pro-life knowledge expressed in a Catholic way?  Well, for praying and being a witness.  I distinctly remember my first time praying at an abortion clinic.  I went with my youth group.  My youth minister's wife is a trained sidewalk counselor so she stationed herself at the sidewalk next to the abortion clinic whereas the rest of us were across the street praying a Rosary.

And I saw that young couple walk in and ignore my youth minister's wife despite her offers to help them out.  And I remember thinking to myself, "omggggggg, she's going to get an abortion!"...and being legitimately upset by this.  A naive reaction on my part due to the shock of the reality of the situation my unfamiliarity with how common this happens, but still a genuine feeling of shock and being upset by this.  Like, I'm pretty sure I nearly cried.  Because in my mind I kept thinking how in the world anyone would subject themselves to get a surgical abortion and how violent of an act that is towards the baby.  Yeah, again...since this was my first time praying at an abortion clinic...I was genuinely upset.  Like, it was hard for me to get over that.  I tend to be sensitive regarding death...

After that, I think I only ended up praying at an abortion clinic one more time.  Then I graduated from high school.

Through learning more about life and growth in the womb and getting educated about what abortion really is...and for all that to be driven home and solidified in my mind by praying at an abortion clinic for the first time...that's what convinced me to be pro-life.

But it would take me years of going through college up until recently for me to perfect my reasoning for being pro-life.  I've gotten a lot better at recognizing the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death...and that represents a fuller definition of what it means to be pro-life.

As I write this a few days later from my hour of prayer for 40 Days for Life...I remember praying at Planned Parenthood the other night and thinking about why I'm pro-life for this blog post.  And I saw the coolest thing!

Next to Planned Parenthood is an overflow parking lot, and the other evening...I noticed some movement over there by a dumpster.  Apparently there was a cat and her three or four kittens over near the dumpster and the bushes.  As I was working on making a Rosary, I couldn't help but notice the kittens Running around, hiding in the bushes, and chasing each other for a long while.  And mommy cat was just chillin' letting her kittens be kittens.  I couldn't help but think how small yet beautiful expression of life this scene was for me.  It's just an interesting observation to make seeing a family of cats having a jolly good time because they are full of life...right next to Planned Parenthood, whose mission is not very convincing to me for the joyful expression of life.

So shout out to some cool cats--that even in the darkest of places, the light of their life and joy shines through...reminding me that yes, life is beautiful.

I'm pro pro-life.
- JD

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Life Chain 2012

In honor of Respect Life month, my parish usually holds a Life Chain up and down a nearby major thoroughfare and intersection.  People line up the sidewalk holding signs like, "Abortion kills children," "Abortion hurts women," "Life is the first inalienable right," "Jesus saves," and others.  Not just holding these signs for people to see, but to stand there in prayer as a witness to our peaceful stand for life.

I personally didn't get to see the full breadth of how widespread we were, but it seemed like more people participated this year than last despite the cold weather.  We probably spanned like three blocks or so.  And supposedly a fellow Christian church (non-Catholic) joined us in our Life Chain this year, so that's pretty cool!

For me, I stood out there with my sign that said "Abortion hurts women," and prayed a Rosary while kneeling on the sidewalk.  Not gonna lie, it was distracting seeing cars pass by.  Not gonna lie, I'm grateful for all those times I worked on my non-kneeler knees, because kneeling on the sidewalk during an entire Rosary wasn't so bad.  Builds character.

Anyway, it was rather distracting watching the traffic go by. the picture above was hard to tell if people were giving a thumbs up or a middle finger as they drove by.  I mean, abortion is a hot button issue, and some people are rather passionately opinionated about it.  But come on, don't tint your windows!  Then I really can't tell if that's a thumbs up or middle finger that you're shaking at me, even though I'm trying my best not to pay attention to you anyway! And many thanks and congrats to those who actually rolled down their windows...which most of those people with rolled down windows gave sustained thumbs in the upright position.  Approved.

In the area that I was at, only one guy shouted "F#@% YOU!!!!!!!" as he drove by.  Annnd he immediately became my intention for the Hail Mary I was on.

So Life Chain is great!  As long as the government doesn't attempt to breach our other First Amendment rights (of speech and assembly...but they've breached religious freedom)...we can continue to have public gatherings of prayer to send a message that hey, abortion ain't good--there's a better way.

Please pray for our country that we can inspire and educate others to make a stand for life because the right to life is sooooooo fundamental to our human experience.

- JD

Friday, October 5, 2012


Inside of St. Peter's Catholic Church in Lindsay, TX
Raise your hand if you go to church and there's a bunch of people at the church as well. Mmhmm. Thought so. Oftentimes whenever we go to the the church for whatever reason, there's at least several others also present.

But have you ever been alone inside of a church? Like, you are the only visible soul amidst the pews? No one else?

I have.

Plenty of times.

Praise God I'm Catholic! Why? Because as a Catholic, I believe in the Real Presence! That Jesus is truly present body, blood, soul, and divinity in the likeness of bread and wine in every Catholic church. So I've never been truly alone inside of a church because He's there too!

After I got Confirmed and received my driver's license back in high school, I found it necessary to go visit a church to just pray every now and then.  Dealt with a lot, ya know?  And sometimes, these times that I would go would be awkward enough to where there wouldn't be anyone else around. Just me and Jesus in the tabernacle. Or monstrance.

To me, this is a really blessed way to spend time with Jesus. It's literally just me and Him. Without the distractions of having other people around, the feeling of isolation helps with focus.

Spending time alone with Jesus is something that I even continued throughout college...mostly because I had a lot to deal with and I didn't know where else to handle what I was going through during times. Haha, I got good at sneaking into church late at night during high school and college.

And even today and recent times, I still find myself inside of a Catholic church alone with Jesus...but more for the purposes of deepening my spiritual life and less of reacting to the negativities of my life like in high school and college.

So, for whatever your purposes and motivation...If you can, I encourage you to go spend some time with Jesus. Alone.

Body, blood, soul, and divinity.
- JD

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


My Senior Design Project, the "Phoenix"
I currently work as an engineer for a company that makes commercial airline
seats. Now, even though my diploma says I'm an Aerospace Engineer, in
practice, my job calls for more Mechanical Engineering and Computer-Aided
Design work. Nothing flies. We just make things that go into things that

In a few weeks, I'll be celebrating having worked at my company for two
years. That's a decent amount of time to get familiar with everything
having to do with making a commercial airline seat. You'd be surprised and
amazed at all the (engineering) work that goes into an airline seat! Psh,
I'm amazed and surprised myself!

Did you know this is an emoji for iOS?!
Whenever you're in engineering/design, you spend a lot of time looking at
parts and learning how those parts are made. There are so many ways to
turn different materials into various shapes possessing the properties
necessary to make a particular design work successfully. As the engineer,
you have to know these processes and materials so that you can design a
part that performs predictably to achieve form, fit, and function while
keeping in mind safety and cost (and weight, because the aerospace industry
is always interested in dieting because more weight = more fuel = more

When designing a part, usually the engineer designs it with specific
intent. The very shape of the part is not arbitrary usually. The material
a particular part is made of usually imposes certain restrictions of the
size and shape of the part. I mean, this only scratches the surface of all
the considerations that an engineer must...consider...but the main point is
this: parts aren't designed out of the blue--they are purposefully designed
with particular intent!

With that said, since I've been working for a while in the industry, I'm
getting better at being able to discern the purpose and process of
individual parts that go into our airline seats. For example, there are
only so many ways to form plastic...but I can look at plastic parts and
judging from how it looks, I can tell whether it was created by injection
molding or through vacuum forming. Or maybe it was done via
rapid-prototyping (or "printed out" via 3D printing).

It's cool to look at hardware like screws, nuts, bolts, rivets, clips, etc
and be able to decide, based on the purpose of the hardware, the best way
to utilize the hardware to achieve the result that I want.  Sometimes a rivet makes more sense to install rather than nut and bolt.  For example, the skin and wings of older airplanes are just sheets of metal riveted together.  You don't want to use screws or nuts and bolts because they can loosen over time, but rivets act as more permanent clamps.

Anyway!  I could go on, but I would get too nerdy.

As much as I aspire to be an awesome aerospace/mechanical engineer, I'm always out-engineer'd by God.  I look at the birds in the sky, and they remind me how amazing of an aerospace engineer God is.  It took us humans a long time to figure out flight, and even then...the things we fly often has to be piloted.  Birds, on the other hand, are instinctively built to fly--they know how to fly and live flight.  Considering the anatomy of the bird, it is easy to see the bird's nature of being something-that-can-take-flight.

Which leads me to...the human body.  It is truly a marvel of divine engineering.  Every shape, part and process of the human body is purposeful, down to the last boson (hah, relevant vocab!).  You know, since God made us in His image and likeness (Gen 1:26), surely we can discern God's nature by examining the human body.  There is such a thing as a study of God through the human body.  

One guy talked about a "theology of the body" 129 times back in the 1980's:

Yes, Blessed Pope John Paul II spent a lot of time reflecting on what it means to be man and woman created in the image and likeness of God.  Because a creation should reveal something about its Creator.  And just as an engineer designs with does the Creator.

Nothing about the human body and the nature it reveals is arbitrary.  Humanity is God's finest engineering feat.

- JD

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

This post is about a decision.

I used to keep a blog under a different name...but...I realized that many of my posts for that blog ended up having Catholic undertones or purposes.  My life is Catholic.  So, I think I'll do some copy/paste-ing and repost those Catholic posts here with a fresh take on what I wrote previously.

I think of it as a remix.

-insert DJ sounds here-

- JD

40 Days for Life 2012: Week 1

Ahh.  I'm kind of excited.  I'll be leaving here in a little bit to go pray at  Planned Parenthood for my committed hour of prayer for 40 Days for Life.

But at the same time, I'm a little nervous.  According to the schedule, there's currently only one other person scheduled during my hour.  In the past two times that I've done this, I've had other people.  I just pray that nothing weird happens while I'm out there tonight.

Last year, I did some on-site reflecting and blogging, and I haven't decided yet if that is something I want to do again.  I have this other cool idea so we'll see what happens.

Time to ...make preparations.  ie, get dressed, take care of my dog, and then head out the door.

It took me longer to get here than I wanted to. Awkward traffic situations.

I got here right at 8PM. There were four others on the 7PM-8PM shift. I started praying a Divine Mercy Chaplet and after I had finished a decade, the others left. After they left, I decide to go chant style with the rest of the DMC. It's how I used to pray it in high school.

Annnnnd, I'm definitely all by myself out here. Every now an then some cars will pass by. But All of Planned Parenthood's exterior lights are on with the custodial staff working inside.

I decided what cool thing I'm going to do while I'm out here--make Rosaries.  How cool is that, to be making your own weapons at the front lines?  I have a history of making knotted Rosaries using nylon rope.

So two other gentlemen showed up at around 8:30PM and 8:45PM.  They caught me in the middle of my Rosary-making, but whatever.  I managed to get two decades made! W00t!

A new observation I'd like to make is the new (?) doctor's office next to Planned Parenthood.  I don't know what the building used to be, but now it's a Cook Children's building for pediatric optometrists.  Ya know, eye doctors to help kids see.  The signs for it stood out for me because they were lit.  I guess I haven't noticed them during the day when I normally go pray at Planned Parenthood during non-40-Days-for-Life times.  I just find it ironic (or something) that there's a place that helps kids out right next to Planned Parenthood who has no interest in helping any child out.  And I beg the question, when will parents see that their baby's life is at stake when going in for an abortion?  I hope and pray that our campaign, or any other time we're out there praying, is a witness that hey, there are options.  And I hope and pray that we have sidewalk counselors out there ready to reach out and help.

Earlier, when I was chanting the Divine Mercy Chaplet...I was alone.  No one else was around.  I remember thinking to myself earlier that the chanted version that I know has a hauntingly beautiful vibe about it in a different way than the normal sung version that me and the youth group tend to do.  Hmm, maybe it was because I was kind of in an eerie place...I dunno, but still.  Awesome stuff.  Note To Self: Teach people this version because guitars and djembes aren't always available.

And a stray thought crossed my mind this evening: why am I even pro-life?  I mean...personally.  Not just because Holy Mother Church says so or that God's creations are good...but...personally.  Why am I personally pro-life?  What even sparked my interest in being pro-life?  Hmm.  That's worth it's own blog post.  Maybe next time.

- JD