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Monday, May 27, 2013

Quick Interview With Anthony, Seminarian

I mentioned in a previous blog post about the reality of a small handful of my Catholic friends have gone and pursued religious vocations and Catholic priesthood.  Each of them have their own unique discernment journeys.  I thought it would be cool to ask some quick questions of one of the new seminarians I hinted at in that previous blog post.

Anthony Vecchio graduated from high school last year and spent this past year at community college while furthering his discernment towards diocesan priesthood.  Last year, my parish started hosting "Discernment Nights" whereby interested individuals could come and listen to consecrated or ordained members of the Church talk about their vocation story, and this also provided opportunities for interested participants to ask questions.  I met Anthony via one of our Discernment Nights, even though he's not from my own parish.  I later found out that he kept a Catholic blog around the same time I started really getting into my own blog.

His blog is Purely Catholic.  And I like reading his posts because he offers an often thorough examination of reflections, Church teachings, and commentary on various things.  I learn from his own knowledge and reflections, and it boggles my mind because most freshly graduated guys don't utter theology from the lips of their fingers to the level that Anthony conveys in his blog.  Check it out!

And so, again, I thought it would be cool to ask Anthony some quick questions and catch him before he moves to Holy Trinity Seminary.

First of all, since I know we both share appreciation in band nerdery, who is your favorite drum corps and why? And what was your most favorite high school marching band performance (whether your own or another band's)?
My favorite drum corps is hands down Carolina Crown. Their brass sound is impeccably beautiful and massive, and their shows are very quirky and nuanced. Like a bunch of Godzillas performing Swan Lake as they dance around the skyscrapers of downtown Tokyo. Yeah. As for my favorite high school marching band performance... I would say Richland's BOA San Antonio performance from this year. I am utterly amazed at the progress that they have been making with so many director changes. I'm very proud of them!
I've always wondered...why is your blog called "Purely Catholic"? What is the significance/motivation for it?
I'm pretty sure my blog title is "Purely Catholic" because that's the only semi-profound sounding thing that wasn't already taken. In retrospect, I could've done something snazzy like "Anthony's super-dee-duper, awesome, and totally readable blog", but I think that would confuse people. Because, legitimately, I read some of my old stuff sometimes and I have no idea what I'm saying. Said. Whatever. In short, just like Albert Camus' great meaning of life, there is no significance or motivation. It is absurd.
Are you active in any ministry or ministries?  What are they and why do you participate in them?
For a while (a year or so), I was an extraordinary minister at Good Shepherd. That was a wonderful experience. But the bulk of my donated time is eclectic in nature. I just do whatever people tell me to do, and try not to explode everything in the process. Some speaking events, some shoulder-rubbing events, some praying events, etc. It's fulfilling.
Just out of curiosity, who is your Confirmation saint and why did you choose that saint? Any other personal favorites?
My Confirmation saint is St. Anthony. Which is, (I bet you can't guess!) my Baptismal saint. I got very riled up in the process of selecting a Confirmation saint, but I discerned that God was calling me back to the basics. He does that a lot, because I'm mostly insane. As far as personal favorites go: St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Maximus [the] Confessor and St. Therese of Lisieux.
Most guys don't graduate from high school wanting to join a religious order or enter seminary to become a priest.  What sparked your interest in pursuing such a vocation?
In Mother Church, God chooses you! But as far as particulars go, I was most moved by USCCB's "Fisher's of Men" documentary. That moved me deeply--and really it was just a continuation of my sudden realization that I am called to be a saint (lower case "s"). God commands, not suggests but commands, us to love him and others as He has loved us. The most human response is "how is that? How will I take up my own cross?" When we see something profound, our hearts are moved ever so slightly, and we notice it every so slightly. But such a small movement can create a domino effect if the conditions are right, and following the trail of dominoes is like finding out what your vocation is.
What does your daily prayer life look like?
My daily prayer life, like my volunteer time, is very eclectic. Some days I read from my St. Alphonsus de Liguori collection (also a favorite saint) or my St. Therese of Lisieux collection, some days I meditate on Christ's life, or what is means for Christ to have lived the way he did, or who Christ was, and what that has to do with the Church, and why the Church is his Body, etc. Some days I just read straight up from sacred Scriptures, and some days I just stare in silence at the crucifix on my wall. In all my prayer and studies and musings, I've learned one thing: God is love. Such a statement is inexhaustible in expression, but those expressions nevertheless revolve around the axis of God who is love.
How often do you attend Daily Mass, Confession, and Adoration (if at all)?
I unfortunately do not own a vehicle, and I typically cannot use my parents' except on Saturday, so transportation is a hard thing for me. It is once in a blue moon that I go to Mass outside of the times my family goes. I go to Adoration at the very least once a month when I go to Confession. I sometimes am able to go more than once.
Since we know you're purely Catholic and entering seminary soon, what does "putting your faith into action" mean to you?
"Putting your faith into action" means nothing more or less than to love one another. Such a statement is simple, yet elegant. That is the commandment that Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another (Jn 13:34). We should love one another for the reason that we have been first loved by God into existence, and are being held there by that same love. True freedom consists of the ability to give oneself away in total self-donation at will, and this is the freedom that is so sought after by myself and all people. It is not a freedom stemming from isolation from other people, or a freedom stemming from human power, but a freedom enthroned in love; a love with a gravity so magnificent that it pulls people of all races, ages, places, and pasts into a single Church; a gravity that splits the veil of time and crushes death under its heels; where the life that Christ gave up is received by us, and we are made as if new. This faith in action is a powerful thing. If it is lived out as it ought to, it truly sets people and the world "en fuego". It demands the entire self, it is relentless, and unfettered. It is the fulfillment and calling of every person, and it demands every person--just as it deems every person willed, loved, and necessary. Faith in action is to love one another, even as Christ has loved you--that is, totally, fully, and really.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Gal 2:20)
Anthony Vecchio
I ask for your prayers on behalf of Anthony for his continual discernment towards diocesan priesthood.

St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, ora pro nobis!
- JD

Sunday, May 26, 2013

One of the realities of being Catholic... having really Catholic friends. But not just Catholic friends...rather, Catholic friends who end up being totally radical.
Multiple Math puns
And when I say "radical," I mean that in the "rooted" AND "departing from social norms" sense of the word.

Truly, a small handful of my Catholic friends have decided to live radical Catholic lives in pursuing a religious life of some sort. It's radical because your average person (and average Catholic...average Christian) doesn't consider dropping his or her current lifestyles in order to pursue a life lacking material, wealth, and seeking self. It's also radical because they can now live a really rooted Catholic life living an expression of the Catholic faith in community with others in the service of others.

When I graduated from college, some good acquaintances and friends from my college parish....

...joined the Apostles of the Interior Life.

...became a Jesuit to further pursue becoming an ordained Jesuit priest.

...entered seminaries in various dioceses.

(but that is just a mere taste of Aggie Catholics pursuing radical Catholic lives)

And just in the past few years that I've gotten really involved with my parish and getting to know some individuals... of my young adult friends joined the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal.

...two of my young adult friends will be joining the Franciscans of the Immaculate...the friars and sisters, respectively.

...three young men from my brother's high school class (different high schools) are going to the local seminary to further discern their call to the Catholic priesthood...though all three start(ed) at different times.

...I reconnected with a high school band alum who is several years older than me, and he was up in New York as a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal. Now he is discerning to be a diocesan priest and will be entering seminary sometime.

And these decisions to pursue such religious vocations, as we call it, do not come easily.  They all took time discerning what is God calling them to do with their lives, and they have freely and willingly answered this call after much prayer and guidance.

As Catholics, we celebrate joyfully the answering of this call to the religious life or priesthood primarily because it would be serving God in the way He intends; in the way He has called each of these individuals to live.  We share our joy in their joy.

So, why do I even care that I face the reality that my some of my Catholic friends are all like..."yo, I'mma be a brutha/sista!" or all like... "Dominus vobiscum!"? Simply because of their joy and youthful fervor in the Catholic faith. I also highly respect them for making such a life-altering decision to follow God's call in their respective ways, which go against the social norms.

And focusing on that youthful part...sometimes it is tempting to think of the Catholic Church as a bunch of old priests and greyhairs who sit in the front pew at Mass (and Daily Mass) or the angry nun with the witch-like voice and armed with a ruler, but that is simply not what I see and observe in real life.  All those individuals I mentioned above range from ages 18 to early 30's and are far from those stereotypes.  Hmm...the young Church...praise God that our 2000-year old faith comes alive through the youth of today because she is alive in Christ!

In an effort to humbly brag about some of these individuals and to convey a sense of their stories and personalities, I may highlight them further in my blog. Hopefully I can catch them before they move on towards their friaries, seminaries, and convents!

I ask for your prayers for vocations, especially for those I have mentioned above.  Thanks and God bless!

*90's voice* ...Radical!
- JD

Friday, May 24, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 5)

--- 1 ---
What a crazy week of intense weather!  Us North Texans and Oklahomans have not been so fortunate in dealing with the barrage of tornados recently.  A week ago, Granbury was ravaged by a tornado and that really worried me since it is not that big of a town, but I know some fellow Catholics who are from that town through diocesan events.  Thankfully, they're okay.  A few days ago, tornados ripped through central Oklahoma along with intense severe weather, and...the devastation got super real for me watching videos uploaded the day of the tornado that ripped through Moore, OK.  It is really sad to see all the destruction, but the positive stories that are a result of this tragedy are truly remarkable.  It's really awesome to hear about the teachers who did everything they could to keep their kids safe at the elementary school.  And then there was that interview of a woman talking about her lost dog when all of a sudden, the dog emerges!

St. Francis (like, of Assisi)...that clever ol' chap...

While I was fortunate enough to not have to deal with these crazy weather events at home, I was really concerned about work.  Simply because, my work is pretty much at the Texas/Oklahoma border.  Why would a commercial airline seat company be so far away in the middle of nearly nowhere...I'm not sure...'s so close to Oklahoma and they don't seem to get a break when it comes to tornado season...

Luckily, we do have flotation devices scattered throughout the plant.

--- 2 ---
Let's do take some time in prayer for the victims and families of those affected by the tornado in Moore.  It'll take time to recover, and it will not be easy.

Pope Francis invites us to join him in his prayers (via Twitter), as well:
I know many organizations on the ground helping with the recovery efforts.  Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is one of the many organizations receiving donations (all kinds) to help victims in the long haul. And it turns out my work is going to match employee donations up to $10,000 so that's pretty cool.

--- 3 ---
On a happier note, I went to my high school's jazz concert on Tuesday night.  I was in the jazz band my senior year of high school and ever since, I've grown to really love and appreciate jazz music. My brother was in jazz band in high school as well, and he's pursuing jazz performance on saxophone at the University of North Texas, which is basically known to have a really awesome jazz/music program...and he also went to this jazz concert because he helped with a rehearsal or two in addition to helping some of the jazz band members prepare through private lessons.

--- 4 ---
Speaking to my brother's friends and former bandmates, I started remembering my college years again.  They asked me questions, and much like Radio Shack, I had answers.  Strangely, I ended up in a group of new Fightin' Texas Aggies who are starting this fall! WHOOP!

But I realized in my thinking of my college years, I went through a lot.  And my Catholic faith definitely played a role in my college experience and so I ought to share that via my blog at some point.  Stay tuned!

--- 5 ---
I'm sooooo stoked for my trip to Brazil this July! Maybe I did start obtaining items that should help with the trip like...last that we're getting closer, I'm starting to take the packing list a little more seriously.  This has opened up a world of camping supplies (or the convenience of camping-caliber supplies) previously unknown to me.

I also started shopping around for small Texas giveaways to exchange with people around the world because apparently that's like, a thing to do.  Unfortunately, I don't really know of any Texas-centric stores other than at the mall.  I actually kind of dreaded going to the mall because traffic around the nearest one is terrible due to highway construction and ... malls are crowded...

Doing all the paperwork or obtaining of paperwork for my visa application was a bit of a hassle because I've never gotten something notarized at the bank before.  And yes, I did make newb mistakes like not actually bringing the necessary documents to be notarized.  Haha oh well, the end, I succeeded! The trials are worth it!

Future blog posts on this, for sure!

--- 6 ---
Grandma is gone and now my family has to get used to doing the simple things.  These things include but are not limited to cooking every meal, folding laundry, yelling at my dog in Tagalog, opening and closing blinds daily, and keeping up with Filipino soap operas (which my mom pretty much has that covered since she also queen of the DVR).

It was funny last weekend because my mom escorted my grandmother to Canada and so that left my dad, my bro, and myself to fend for ourselves in terms of meals.  Yeah, we ended up dining out for breakfast and lunch last Saturday...and I ended up cooking Hamburger Helper for the first time in my life for dinner. Milestone moments in life, I know.

It was good! And browning ground beef is pretty exciting!

--- 7 ---
The familiar awkward question was asked of me at the jazz concert that I mentioned in --3--.  A band parent I have befriended asked me how I was doing since it had been a while.  My tired answer to the question is that I'm doing well and ...busy.  So, naturally that led her to ask what do I do besides work.  And  I told her that I volunteer up at my church a lot.  I would expect the next question to dig deeper as to exactly what I do in terms of volunteering up at my church...but no.

Her next question was..."have you met a nice girl at your church?"  Ah yes, the question regarding my relationship status.  I told her that no, I haven't yet... with the assumption that she really meant "are you currently in a dating relationship with a nice girl at your church?"  There are a lot of nice girls who go to my church, but I'm not currently dating.

If only she was Catholic...then I think it would make more sense for her to know that...
I don't talk about my vocational journey on this blog enough (at all?), but I think I want to highlight others' first. More to come regarding that since...I found out in the past two weeks that FOUR of my Catholic friends are going to enter religious communities or seminary soon!

Dem takes are quick!
- JD

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff / Betty Crocker

Monday, May 20, 2013

I guess I care enough... be rather upset and shocked when praying in Jesus' very proximate presence.

How can this be?

I had just finished going to Confession when I decided to spend some time before Jesus to do my penance.  I was not at my own parish. And this particular parish I was at, like some others, has their tabernacle containing the Eucharist in its own chapel separate from the main sanctuary. 

I entered the chapel, and no one else was inside.  Not gonna lie, after praying silently for a bit, I was actually having a genuine moment (ie. nearly weeping (but that's okay since Jesus wept ... John 11:35)).

Looks more like a facepalm...
Then I heard voices outside. I knew that the start of Mass was approaching so it wasn't surprising to me to hear people in the main sanctuary.  But then...

...the voices came into the chapel.  It was a group of about 5 or 6 people. They walked in and didn't really acknowledge me kneeling there and praying.  No one in the group genuflected (or maybe they did when they entered the chapel and I didn't see them) or gave a solemn bow before the tabernacle containing Jesus. The head of the group, who appeared to be teaching the others about logistical Mass preparation things, nonchalantly walked up to the tabernacle and unlocked it.  Then she removed the ciborium containing the Eucharist (ie Jesus) and kind of let it bounce in her hands to let the others see how heavy it is.  Then she passed it around to the others to let them feel how heavy it is.

Someone had asked how many hosts could it hold, and the leader said that it can hold up to 600ish.  That's a lot of Jesus.  She also stated that the inside of the ciborium has numbered markers that help estimate how many consecrated hosts are within it.  And oh my gosh! She started spinning the ciborium around in her hands just to be able to show those markers to everyone.

Throughout all this I was just...shocked! Not that it necessarily weirded me out that they're having a teaching moment ...but...just the lack of reverence for Jesus truly present in the Eucharist.  I could just tell from their body language and actions that this was just no big deal.  They didn't act as if the God of Creation was in their midst and acted accordingly with reverence owed to Him.

Now, I was a little frustrated that my quiet prayer time was unintentionally, rudely interrupted. But again, I was more in shock about their lack of reverence in the presence of Jesus.

But I'm not judging them because I'm not sure how they have been formed in their Catholic faith.  Not every Catholic fully appreciates the Eucharist.  So as a practicing Catholic who cares and has a humble understanding of the Eucharist, I cannot affirm that the Eucharist is truly Jesus present body, blood, soul, and divinity unless I truly believe it and act accordingly.  That's where I'm at in my faith, and I simply seek to go deeper in that regard.

Equally as shocking is how God, who humbled Himself to be in the appearance of bread, puts up with us whenever we act irreverent, sinful, stupid, foolish, etc.  How great is our God, indeed.  I was recounting this experience in the chapel with a friend, and we both agree that it is doubly shocking how Catholics can be so ho-hum with the Eucharist and how shocking it is that God in His infinite mercy deals with us.

Lastly, I begin to wonder what the rubrics are on who exactly is allowed to access the tabernacle containing the Eucharist.  Honestly, not just anyone can walk up to the tabernacle unless they've been properly formed and educated to properly handle the Eucharist.  This requires further seeking of truth, on my part.

How can I inspire my fellow Catholics to better understand, know, and appreciate the Eucharist?  
- JD

"Jesus wept" / Flickr - Terry Alexander
Ciborium /

Sunday, May 19, 2013


In my quest to be cool by following what the other cool kids are doing, I am pleased to announce two new features of this blog:

Facebook Comments! Now every post can use Facebook comments.  This should be easier to post comments, especially since you're probably logged onto Facebook already.  But...I've retained the old commenting system for posterity, in case there are non-conformists out there.

You Might Also Like...the fact that at the bottom of every blog post are links to other related blog posts of mine.  This is in case that you are actually interested in my blogging...and for that, I'm grateful.    

Enjoy! Have a great day!

- JD

Friday, May 17, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 4)

--- 1 ---
Annnd...looks like my grandmother is first to completely move out of the house.  Well, my grandfather did last year, and now my grandmother will follow suit.  They moved in with my parents and me back at the beginning of the 1990's and have lived with us since recently.  They immigrated from the Philippines!  In recent years, my grandfather desired to move back to his home in Manila, and so my mom and her siblings have been working at getting the old house renovated.  My grandfather moved back last year to oversee the completion and now that it is done, my grandmother moved out today to go be with him.

It's hard to tell, but we are, in fact, in Canada. 2010.
But! She has a pit stop in Canada for like...a month.  My aunt and her youngest daughter is finally getting married up in Canada so she'll be there for that before moving to the Philippines.  Yes, I have Canada-pino family members.  Nearly all of my mom's siblings live up there. Cool, eh?

I don't know that it's hit me yet that it'll be really difficult having both my grandparents on the other side of the world and not being able to see them on a near-daily the very least...I'm truly grateful for having grown up with them so close to home (so close, hey were actually in my home).  Time for me to figure out how to cook Filipino dishes...

--- 2 ---
One of my Catholic friends invited me to this monthly "night of recollection for men" in the neighboring diocese.  It's hosted by Opus Dei (the real one...not the one where you have to crack Da Vinci codes) at a Syro-Malabar Catholic parish.  The zhwaa?  The parish intrigued me because it looked like a normal, typical Catholic parish but the hymns/books in the pews were totally a different language and some of the words seen throughout the sanctuary weren't even English.  I just looked it up and The Order of Syro-Malabar Qurbana is an Eastern Catholic rite that originated in India and is in full communion with Rome.  Intriguing, indeed.  I also noticed how there were absolutely no kneelers in the pews.  Just knees to carpet.  Good thing I've been practicing for moments like this.

This "night of recollection" involved a meditation led by the priest, who also heard confessions at points throughout the night.  There was an examination of conscience and classroom time to learn more about a topic, which in this case was the virtue of temperance.  It ended with exposition, adoration, and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  Apart from microphone issues at the beginning which made it was a good night to reflect and pray even though my schedule is busy enough as it is.  This experience reminded me a lot of that silent retreat I went on a while the space of a few hours.  Since it's monthly event, I look forward to going next month.

--- 3 ---
I've mentioned before that we Catholics are spoiled.  We're able to go to other Catholic parishes to partake in the sacraments if necessary.  Yes, I'm known to go to other parishes for confession because sometimes my own parish's times for confession don't work out with my schedule.  I'm beginning to consider to just sticking with my parish or spiritual director for confession because there's a particular parish in my circuit of backup-parishes-for-sacraments that something weird always happens every time I go.

Last weekend I went to this other parish for Confession.  And I was utterly shocked. And disappointed. But...I have a blog post waiting to be posted regarding that.

--- 4 ---
I think a good indicator of answering God's call and will for one's life is this certain, profound joy expressed that is noticeable and unique.  In a previous Quick Takes...I mentioned that my friend was acknowledged at an event of her answering the call to the religious life.  Well, yesterday my friend shared her story and journey on how she arrived to saying "yes!" to the call to serve as a religious sister with the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, a cloistered community of intense prayer yet with missionary outreach.  What really stood out to me was seeing her joy in finally arriving at this decision to enter into the religious life...not that it was easy to make this decision...but...experiencing the peace and joy in knowing this is what God wants her to do.

Smiling is a good habit. Not to be confused with habits.
Yes, so as long as this blog is entitled, "En Fuego"...and so as long as St. Catherine of Siena said "If you are who God calls you to be, you will set the world ablaze"...then yes, I'm interested in just trying to be who God wants me to be.  How do I figure that out? How do I know? ...stuff like that.  Some words of encouragement from a friend.

--- 5 ---
My Aggie Network seems to be increasing as of late.  No, I don't mean that I'm getting more sports coverage because the Aggie Network is not the same as the Longhorn Network (#joke...but it would be more like Texas Exes).  It seems as though my company likes to hire Aggies...and I'm okay with that because it makes it easier to talk to coworkers, haha.  I officially met three Aggies in the past few weeks...and two of them were in the aerospace engineering program as well!


--- 6 ---
Pope Francis canonized 800+ saints this past Sunday.  I addition to the individuals canonized, there was a collective group canonized as a whole!  Italian martyrs, because the Ottoman Empire apparently beheaded people who weren't willing to convert to their religion.

I bring this up because there's a lot of Christian persecution in that part of the world still...and subtlety here in the United States.  Is my Catholic faith worth dying for? Yes.  Is the world going to gun for me because I'm Catholic? Absolutely.  Am I ready to die for my faith? Not sure...will I ever be ready? 800+ Italians in the 15th century apparently were ready.  What a witness to their faith!  #inspiration

--- 7 ---
I was somehow invited to like...4 weddings this year and 3 of them are Catholic weddings.  I'm legitimately excited! The first of these weddings is next weekend and I think it'll be the most Catholic wedding I would have ever gone to.  Tune in later for more details!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

- JD

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Biblical 12th Man

I got a familiar story for ya, Ags! Now it was January 2, 1922 and Texas A&M was playing against Centre College, the nation's top ranked team at the time.  Coach Dana Bible was losing players left and right during this difficult game.  Down to no one left on the sidelines, Coach Bible looked around the stands and remembered E. King Gill, a former player and current basketball player, helping the reporters up in the press box.  The Aggies eventually won 22-14 and Gill was the only man left standing on the sidelines for the Aggies.  He later said, "I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not.  I simply stood by in case my team needed me." (paraphrase of "Twelfth Man")

This started the tradition of the Twelfth Man.  These days you'll find that current Aggie students stand during the entire duration of the football game except when the other band plays.  We stand in case our team needs us and to show our support for the Fightin' Texas Aggie team.


Well, yesterday (May 14) is the feast of St. Matthias.  Of course, on a saint's feast day, the Church remembers and honors their life in Christ.  And I mention the Aggie 12th Man because in a way, St. Matthias was the Biblical 12th Man.

If you recall, Jesus died.  Then He was raised from the dead. Then He chilled with His disciples for a while.  Then He ascended into heaven.  Afterwards, the apostles gathered in the upper room to pray.  Peter reiterated to the group gathered that Judas' betrayal was fulfillment of Scripture and he quoted from Psalms that Judas' needed to be replaced by someone who had witnessed Jesus' ministry.

Two candidates were named to replace Judas, and their names were Barsabbas and Matthias.  The apostles prayed asking the Lord who they should choose between the two.  Matthias was the one chosen, thus restoring the number of apostles back to twelve.  See Acts 1: 12-26.

His garb is arguably a faded maroon
While St. Matthias' story doesn't parallel that of E. King Gill's, I think it is safe to say that both men were standing ready in anticipation to serve when called upon.  For St. Matthias, he definitely was since he shared in the mission of the apostles to make disciples of all nations.  And in both cases, we see a lasting legacy evident today in their respective realms.

But hey! If the Aggie 12th Man ever were to have a patron saint, it would definitely have to be St. Matthias!

A quick note on Catholic doctrine...St. Matthias is an example of apostolic succession at work.  After all, he was chosen by the originals.

Again, the Church celebrates his feast day on May 14.  St. Matthias, pray for us!

- JD

E. King Gill picture /
St. Matthias picture / Wikipedia

Monday, May 13, 2013

Young Men Choosing the Priesthood

I saw an article being shared by, lol, a friend who is discerning religious life.  Ya know, with the vows and robe-like garb.

Some highlights:
...the number of men joining the priesthood is up.
And who is joining might surprise you. 
Brett Metzler bench presses 250 pounds, squats 305, and can shoot hoops with the best of them.
And he's quoted in saying:
 "There's a month when I was really excited to become a priest. And then just normal guy stuff kicks in.  I mean you want to get a girlfriend.  You're in college and there's thousands of beautiful women everywhere.  I mean you want to get a girlfriend, you want to get married.  I thought I was going to have hundreds of kids for my family with play with when I got older.  But the more you pray about it, the more time you spend in silence, the more God kind of reinforces that call."

You can read more here, "More Young Men Choosing Priesthood" by Tracy Kornet at CBS 11 DFW.

Watch the video too!

And oh yes, I am slightly biased in a non-Catholic way--Brett is an Aggie.

I think it's too easy to forget that Catholic priests and those wanting to become priests are just normal guys.  Just, they have obediently, freely, willingly decided to answer a call from God in this special way to serve in a special way.

I know some guys from my own church who are wanting to become priests and they are, in fact, just normal guys but striving to fulfill this call.  I'll blog about 'em sometime as well as my sisterly friends at my church who have also answered this call to live a religious life.  Also, Texas A&M seems to be a hotbed of religious vocations too...but that's another blog post, as well.

- JD

Friday, May 10, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 3)

--- 1 ---
Sometimes volunteerism feels like a second job. This past weekend had me wear some of my various hats. Such as...

Trying too hard
...I'm trained to train others on how to keep a safe environment for children.  This includes training adults and teens, and last Saturday morning I helped out with a teen class.  As mundane as it can be to learn it (or even teach it), the importance of such a thing is relevant in today's crazy world.

...and I'm a band booster though I have no familial ties to my high school band anymore since my bro graduated last year.  But I decided to help out one more year.  And JD back in August 2012 thought it would be cool to help out with band banquet again and signed up to help out.  But JD in May 2013 had some hesitations on whether to help out or not because of time.  But... I can decorate tables and put together props like a boss.

...But I was also invited to a baptism. And with some modifications to my bandquet volunteer shifts, I was able to attend the baptism.  It was for the baby daughter of one of my friends that I met through volunteering at my parish.

...and lastly, on Sunday I helped host our annual senior lunch honoring my parish's graduating seniors.  And all this in addition to my normal Sunday volunteering.

--- 2 ---
I'm intrigued by the concept of a band banquet that involves swimming.  For several years now, my high school band has held their banquet at Great Wolf Lodge, which that alone completely blows all my bandquets in high school into the water.  So, it's your standard formal banquet with food, presentations, a video, awards, and reviewing the past year.  Then dancing.  Then...time to enjoy a completely rented out indoor water park just for the banqueters.  And that's why no one tries as hard to get all did for bandquet because of the anticipation of going swimming.

I didn't chaperone the indoor water park because my decorating duties were two-fold: putting the decor up...and then down.  And if you recall from --1--, I also attended a baptism.  So I was there at the beginning and towards the end.

Going with the theme of volunteerism and wearing many hats...sometimes I wear the same hat to multiple places.  The overlap between my parental band friends and parental church friends is enough to have lengthy conversations about faith and life at (le gasp!) a band function outside of the church walls.  It was good #realtalk though.  It helps me understand why parents care so much about their kids, and I could only hope that I'll reach that point someday.

--- 3 ---
You know your baptism is intense when your godfather shows up in his officer uniform.

This was a private baptism so it wasn't done in the context of Mass. But, the priest still read from the Gospel and gave a brief homily.  Fun fact: the priest was Fr. Alfonse, who is one of my fav bloggers for his daily meditations on the Church's Gospel reading of the day. He's quirky and dynamic enough to be engagingly awesome every time he speaks.

--- 4 ---
At work this past week, I realized how troublesome it is to coordinate multiple departments together when trying to accomplish a task.  Thank goodness for patience and my customer service skills. I ended up doing a lot of work myself...and that's why I leveled up in my rivet gun skills.  Also, no composite material splinters! What rejoicing I had!

--- 5 ---
I've been training for my yellow belt this week. No, not my yellow belt for origami. Or Tae Kwon Do. Or arnis. Or akido. But rather for a certification at work.  My company is trying to get everyone trained in a form of Six Sigma.  Basically, I'm learning how to be more efficient and productive in processes and Six Sigma uses a belt system.  Maybe one day I'll be a black belt.
Oh hey! An actual yellow belt. How convenient! Don't mind my uhh...other belts.
--- 6 ---
So my bro is now back home from college! He was relatively easy to move back home simply because there weren't any stairs to traverse in his dorm as he was on the ground level.  I couldn't help but make the comparison to my own dorm moves from college and for some reason, it was so much easier with my bro than it was for myself.  Maybe his dorm is like...half the size of what I had...maybe he did most of the packing and I did nothing but loading...

It'll be great having my bro around at home again.  I love it when he practices his instruments because it's almost like a jazz concert. Every time.  Just not at 11PM at night because it's difficult to go to bed with saxy jazz going on downstairs.
--- 7 ---
The most thought-provoking thing for me this week is considering structural integrity of a chip when too much dip has been superficially applied to the chip.  My favorite morning radio show spent a good 10 minutes discussing this very thing...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

34 Filipino Signs

A friend of mine posted on my Facebook wall yesterday with this article, "34 Signs You Grew Up Filipino" ...

First, click that link to open a new window.  Then read it.  Then read my responses to each, below:

1. Yes! That is totally a normal breakfast. Although usually the rice is garlic fried rice.  Fried Spam is delicious!  My mom makes this least once a month.

2.  Tapsilog! I don't know that I would call it my actual favorite breakfast, but I've only ever had it at Filipino fast food restaurants and it's pretty good.  I'm diggin' the garlic fried rice.

3. Ah, this sweet bread is called ensaymada.  It's crazy because it is sweet bread made sweeter with sugar and topped with cheese.  What's crazier is that this picture is taken from Gemmae Bake Shop, which I always pass by when I visit my family in Long Beach because they live down the street from it.

4. Who makes rice on the stove?! The only way to make rice is to use a rice cooker!  But mine aren't flowery--they are metal.
The more adorable one on the left is what I used my senior years of college!

5.  Banana ketchup is a must whenever I eat Filipino-style torta (basically, it's type of omelette) and lumpia.  It's sweet!  And yes, the spicy kind does have a nice kick to it.

6.  Maybe I don't have a hundred...but I do have a collection of tsinelas.

7. "Anak" means child, and mom still calls me that.  Though, I'm lucky and have retained my actual name.  I think it helps having another sibling because "anak" can be ambiguous when mom is yelling from downstairs that dinner is ready.

8. Actually...perhaps this is just my family...but I refer to lolo and lola as "tatay" and "nanay"...  Lolo = grandfather, lola = grandmother...but tatay = father and nanay = mother.  YOLO.  (that's not a Tagalog word)

9. "Mano po!"... touching the back of an elder's hand to your forehead is a sign of respect.  Anytime I would go visit family or godparents, it would be proper of me to ask for their hand, or "mano."

10. Tita = aunt, tito = uncle.  Yes, because my dad is 1 of 8 and my mom is 1 of 5.  That's a lot of titas and titos.  Also, it is totally legit to call my parents' close friends as titas and titos as well.  What an awkward revelation finding out that I'm not, in fact, related to some people I've known for a very long time.  But perhaps that's the beautiful aspect of Filipino tight-knittedness.

11. I have so many relatives in the Philippines that one giant cardboard box would not be enough.  The only times I ever see giant cardboard boxes is when traveling back to the Philippines.  Usually these boxes are filled with things to be given to relatives back in the mother land.  Or sometimes my grandparents visit home (PS, they live with me), they go for months at a time and end up with multiple giant boxes to bring back with them. Such as these:
Nanay (aka lola) is going to Canada and the Philippines this summer!
12. Yes, I do.  Patented Filipino attention-getters.

13. I think my grandmother points with her lips more than my mom...

14. I'm actually sad that my Thanksgiving doesn't look more Filipino.  My mom usually sticks to the regular Thanksgiving spread, but! ...she usually does some sort of Filipino dessert. :-)   Also, that picture...I wouldn't call that Thanksgiving but rather ... a normal Filipino party.  Like, just a normal gathering at someone's house will have that kind of spread.  Not even joking.

15. Actually, I just had pan de sal yesterday morning for breakfast...with peanut butter! Pan de sal is the most versatile dinner roll on the planet.  It's good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner...and can be filled with anything from cheese to fried Spam!  But not all pan de sal is created equal.  So that's why we import ours from Long Beach, CA at Betsy's Cake Center.

16. One time, we took a family trip to Las Vegas just to shop at a Seafood City supermarket.  But whenever that's inconvenient, usually the Asian grocery stores in the area suffices.  Where else can you get banana ketchup?!

17. Ah Goldilocks! It's a combination restaurant and bakery...and it's a chain.  Some of them have invaded the U.S.  Pretty good, but...I still think Betsy's (see 15) has better pan de sal.

18. Halo-halo is soooo good on a hot summer day.  It usually has various fruit jellies, fruits, mung beans, shaved ice, coconut, cream or condensed milk, and sometimes found with ice cream on top.  Basically, like its name suggests (translated), it is a mix of various sweet foods in a cold tasty treat. Yes, Goldilocks sells 'em!

19. Well, considering all my relatives don't live in Texas now...we usually have Pacquaio fight watching parties at my non-relative titas' and titos' houses.

20. Hmm, if I had a Filipino flag meant for hanging in a car...I totally would.  But nah...Rosaries hang from all of my family's rearview mirrors.

21. Maybe I'm too Texan, but I only call it "air-con" when I'm actually in the Philippines. Or perhaps when referring to my car's A/C.

22. I have never heard of this one. O_o

23. I was such a band nerd clarinetist in high school and somewhat in college.  My bro on the other hand is versed in piano, saxophone, flute, and clarinet.

24. Hmm, but I don't want to give away our secrets.  Actually, that's probably why we have a large collection of packet condiments so we don't need to spend as much on the actual bottles of whatever? Or maybe that's why my dad is quite the handyman so he doesn't need to hire professional help?

25. You had me at "adobo"  -swoon-.   Pork or chicken marinated in vinegar and soy sauce...with white steamed rice... sooooo goooooood.

26. Actually, my mom didn't know what to cook for breakfast when I saw that she busted out the cans of corned beef. Unsurprisingly, this is usually accompanied by garlic fried rice or pan de sal.

27. I'm pretty sure my dad has been using the same Taco Bell plastic silverware for when he brings his lunch...since like...10 years ago.  We did have a boba straw collection for a little while...

28. I think I am too Americanized to fully embrace my Filipino "kamayan" skills. "Kamayan" refers to eating with your hands.  Hmm...I usually see my parents go kamayan style when eating crustacean seafoods.

29. Oh. My. Gosh. It is a very dangerous thing whenever my (actual) titas get together. So much laughter and talking loudly.  It's also a dangerous thing whenever my mom gets together with my (non-relative) titas. So much randomly breaking out into line dancing and laughter and talking loudly. Totes cray.

30. Actually...I wouldn't limit to just family gatherings that end up with karaoke.  Pretty much any Filipino party/gathering that involves food and drinking...will probably end up in karaoke.  I must stress that we created the original Magic Mic.  And I'm not talking about a male stripper.

31. Guilty.

32. Actually, I feel like I'm not FOB enough. And that's probably why no one calls me FOB. :-(   ... FOB = fresh off the boat, usually in the derogatory sense

33. Ay nako, it is very late now while I'm trying to sulat this blog post! It's past midnight! Gi-gising ako in a few hours! #Taglish

34. Watching this video is like watching my Filipino life. Truth.

- JD

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Stuff Catholic Guys Say

I find that I'm at a point where I have leveled up enough in Catholic nerdiness to appreciate these videos.  Yes, sometimes I do find myself saying Catholic things.

The second one features one of my friends with scapular problems!

Back to discerning because Audrey Assad is married...
- JD

Saturday, May 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol 2.)

--- 1 ---
Last Saturday, I got to hang out with religious brothers and sisters, priests, and other Catholic friends.  I've mentioned The Shepherd's Cafe before, and that's where I went this past Saturday.  They usually host a vocations night on their yearly anniversaries.  This is where those who have chosen a religious vocation have a chance to talk about why they chose such a life.  Not only that, but since The Shepherd's Cafe typically features entertainment following spending a Holy Hour with Jesus, some of the religious/clergy performed as part of the entertainment!

Some seminarians performed a decent cover of the 4 Chord Song, and my consecrated friends in Regnum Christi performed a beautiful song.

A picture of the religious and Shepherd's Cafe volunteers
Lastly, this evening was the first time I saw my friend who's been away for the past several months helping out with an urban mission effort called Christ In The City.  She just recently got accepted to join the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate in New Bedford, MA.  And she was recognized at The Shepherd's Cafe for having made that decision.  Please pray for her as she enters into the religious life!

Gettin' recognized!
--- 2 ---
I'm grateful for the truth!  It just seems like nowadays, you can't really expect the media/news to give truthful news especially when they talk about Catholicism or things Catholics like.  I would give the benefit of the doubt and assume that reporters don't usually take the time to learn the truly Catholic viewpoint on things.  I mean, this topic deserves its own blog post, but I'm grateful not only for the truth, but for us taking the time during class to inform our Catholic students that the media sometimes puts forth an agenda with bias and partial truths and that we should not base our understanding of Catholic truth in such un-grounded "Catholic facts."

I had another #realtalk group gathering this week where we talked about truth some more and the dangers of relativism.  As a topic for a good case study, we applied the conversation to abortion in light of recent news (or lack thereof).

--- 3 ---
Sometimes I get so tired that not even two cups of coffee helps me stay awake.  Maybe I built up my tolerance?  Apparently the only thing that I find that helps is taking a nap or using one of those "energy" single-serve drink mix packets to wake me up.  So, confession: I'm cheap and go for the Wal-Mart brand ones. tasty as they taste...they make me sick sometimes.  I must come up with a better solution and perhaps getting more hours of sleep is it. x_x

--- 4 ---
A recent tradition at my parish is to have a men's cold beverage night once a month.  This means going somewhere to grab some food and a cold, adult beverage.  I've gone to a few of them now and they're fun because it's a great way to just kick back and relax and just chill in good company.

Obviously, whenever you get a group of guys together, interesting conversations ensue.  But, not your stereotypical "oh here's a bunch of guys talking about guy stuff" conversations.  Yes, there were intros and "what do you do?"'s.  And yes, the Texas Rangers were playing and dominating according to about 10 TV's that were in the restaurant establishment. But, one of our men was a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal but now discerning to become a diocesan priest...and I'm pretty sure he was teaching some of the older men about Catholic things as well as telling his story about religious life.  I'm pretty sure that I was in a conversation about natural family planning for a good solid 15 minutes.  Apparently there's an NFP app (and others too)! And the guy sitting across from me teaches NFP with his wife!  While I couldn't relate since I'm not married like most of the guys present at the table...It's cool to hear the enthusiasm and success about NFP.  Something to look forward to, should I ever get to that point, haha.

--- 5 ---
I think I need a vacation.  For whatever reason, I haven't had a lot of time this past week to chillax.  And this weekend I seemed to have overbooked myself in things to it's pretty much going to be an action-packed weekend starting Saturday morning.  And then Sunday is always busy because my parish literally becomes my second home.  Needless to say...I think I was stressed this past week in not being able to properly prepare for the busy weekend.

Jesus' words from the end of Matthew 11 come to mind...
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." (NAB)
 Ah, maybe the reason I feel stressed is that I haven't devoted a lot of time resting in God this week....

--- 6 ---
I love how it is the beginning of May and we were totally enjoying nice, spring-into-summer weather and then all of a sudden...
BAM gets super-ridiculously windy and cold within a day.  In fact, it'll hit close to freezing where I work and people are Instagramming their snowstorm pictures from other parts of the country.

I mean, I don't mind the's such an outlier in the recent average temperatures, ya know?  Roses in bloom, I was totally rockin' flip-flops last weekend, and I could actually walk from the parking lot to work without a jacket on.  Not so much today.

But while this brief cold spell is upon us...I have to discern which North Face jacket to wear... #firstworldproblems

--- 7 ---
It seemed like only yesterday when my parents and I helped moved my bro into his dorm room.  But now, he's about to wrap up finals and thus completing his freshman year. Wow. Though it doesn't really make me go "whoaaaa where has the time gone" simply because my brother has been home seemingly every weekend for the past several months.  He goes to college like 30 mins away and it's halfway between work and home for me.  I offered to take some of his stuff back home today, and I'm glad that full-sized keyboards fit in my car. Haha. 

And he'll be home for the summer starting next weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

- JD