Live Right!

Can’t explain why. Not important, really. It just “is” what it “is.”

A thought occurred to me this morning as I rose from the bed, “Live as you believe, otherwise, don’t believe!”

On the surface, one might consider that a harsh statement. I do not. I understand it as the truth. Here is the way I look at it, “If I am going to declare that I love God, His Church, and my neighbor, but act in any way that is not in communion with that love, then am I truly loving God, Church, and neighbor?”

Another way to look at it is to mean what you say and say what you mean, otherwise don’t say it all!

We have heard it said time and time again our actions reflect the truth of where we truly are in the present moment.

In other words, I say that I love my brother, however, my action(s) don’t necessarily reflect that love in the truest sense of the word. Therefore, “Am I truly loving my brother?”

My mind and heart say “yes”, however, my actions say “no.

The same is true in my walk with Christ. I say that I love Christ (and I do!), but am I truly walking with Christ? Do my actions truly reflect the “way” of the Lord or in reality am I acting like the Pharisees did in Jesus’ time — acting one way in public and another way in private?

It is time for me to live right and that begins with prayer, fasting, abstinence, charity, mercy, and love.

Always in His friendship,

Carlos Michael

On The Run!

I feel as though I am “on the run.”

Where I am running to or away from is an entirely different matter. The fact remains, is that I feel that I am always on the run.

Sometimes that run leads me away from myself, others, or uncomfortable, awkward situations. Other times, the opposite is true. I find myself running toward someone, something, or a fantastical life-changing experience.

Recently, I ran from a situational conflict related to a television movie. It was strongly suggested that I am not open to viewing a “decent” movie. I made the mistake of expressing the fact that I am generally not into musicals, and because I left the room (the movie being almost over) without saying a word.

Okay, I concede that the latter was rude and impolite. Fair enough. However, had I said something, this same individual would have said something to get me to stay until the movie’s end despite my feelings to the contrary.

I was tired. I wanted to go to bed. I wasn’t enjoying the movie, which is not to say that I did not attempt to watch the movie to its conclusion. I did try. In fact, in the spirit of Christian love and charity and in consideration of the others I was watching this movie with and not wanting to appear selfish, I tried to enjoy the movie for their sake.

However, in the end, while it had a great storyline, it just wasn’t my cup of tea as far as musicals go — something I have overlooked and endured in times past for the sake of that same Christian charity.

I fail to recognize the inference that I do not appreciate decent movies. I watch “Leave It To Beaver” — a show I enjoy watching very much. That is a decent television series, isn’t it?

I have watched more “family-oriented” movies in the past 20 years than I have in times past which is a far cry from the movies I used to watch — mainly horror, science fiction, and stupid comedies.

I have spent the last 20 years watching college sports, Hallmark and Lifetime movies, Hallmark Mysteries, the 50s and 60s Westerns, etc., — all pretty decent and favored or preferred by the accuser, and I am going to get berated for not being fully vested or interested in the last part of a Christmas musical that just didn’t interest me?

It reminds me of that one saying, “I was chewed out for the one thing I did wrong, but never mind the 99 things I did right.”

Ugh!

God is good. It’s time to forgive and move on.

In His mercy. Amen.

Random Tears: Sadness, Joy, or Gratitude?

+ In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Greetings, friends!

On Monday morning, Divine Providence provided an opportunity for me to have a conversation with one of my “offspring” (his word, not mine).

During the course of our conversation, the tears began to flow. I recall thinking to myself, “Crap! Here come the waterworks.”

Obviously, I was frustrated with myself. I didn’t want my tears to be construed as a sign of weakness. On the other hand, I didn’t know if they were tears of sadness, joy, or gratitude?

Speaking of random and having absolutely nothing to do with today’s post, the young man at the T-Mobile store on my last visit said, “Yeah…don’t clip your cell phone to your belt. It dates you.” As if that is a bad thing.

Okay…okay…back to Monday’s conversation.

While I will not go into the particulars, the bulk of the conversation was much about what I am not doing in contrast to what I am doing and where I can improve.

In my humble opinion which doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, the exchange was a generational tit-for-tat, pitting the old guard against the vanguard. There was clearly no winner or loser.

I suppose that is a good thing because I don’t believe in my heart that either participant was seeking to win or lose inasmuch as to explain and understand. It was a learning experience.

So, why the tears?

Concern for God and neighbor. I have let both down over the years — one sin or failure after another.

It was more about them than about me.

Serve them. Listen to them. Assist them…and you are serving, listening, and assisting God. Isn’t that all that truly matters?

“Not my will, but Thine be done!”

It’s true. I keep failing. After all, I am a sinner! But, I will also continue to believe and trust in God–with the intention of always improving.

To the question about the tears, I believe the short answer is, ‘All three!’

God Bless. Be a good neighbor. Trust in God. Pray for me.

Carlos Michael

Happy Father’s Day

OPENING

I have been thinking about the wisdom of the saying, “Less is more.” Perhaps it is time for me to share more by speaking less. Is that possible? We shall see.

01 Holiday Greeting:

Happy Father’s Day to all dad’s across the world.

02 Today’s Agenda:

Mass, breakfast, and rest.

03 Past Week:

Parish Mission on prayer. Going away party for Fr. Ken and Fr. Gabriel. Breakfast at IHOP and Village Inn. Lunch at “Fish Daddy’s.” Meeting at St. Thomas More. Watched movies.

04 Reflection:

Sin. Why do I sin? Why do I commit the same sin? How can I prevent this same sin from reoccurring again? I remain grateful for prayer and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

05 Quote:

“Have fun is my message. Be silly. You’re allowed to be silly. There’s nothing wrong with it.” (–Jimmy Fallon).

06 Image:

Reflections from a sinner.

“Wake up and smell the coffee!”

Idioms such as “Wake up and smell the coffee,” essentially mean that we should be aware of what is happening around us, and in particular, within us, and not necessarily wait until tomorrow to change what we can and should change today.

For instance, I am aware that I am a sinner. The same sinner whom Christ invited to follow Him but who He also told: “…go and sin no more!”

I am painfully aware of the fact that I am a sinner and that certain “triggers” of my present environment sometimes cause me to sin, although they are not and never should be an excuse for sinning.

While I have made great strides to reduce or remove those triggers that might cause the temptation to and thus ultimately fall into sin, there are others that are so woven into the fabric of the environment, history, and relationship of my present situation, I sometimes don’t know how to necessarily avoid or change that part of the environment without tearing a hole in the fabric itself.

However, I fear the Lord’s judgment because I believe in and love Him, enough to want to find a way through His grace, His Church, and the sacraments (reconciliation and the Eucharist), while trusting completely in His love and mercy, to “wake up and smell the coffee,” and sin no more.

Today is a new day. While I need to go to confession, I will embrace, welcome, and share the joy of this new day in Christ, with my neighbors.

— Carlos Michael

The Glue Trap

I have concluded that I am like an insect caught in a glue trap waiting to die.

Literally speaking, “I am stuck!”

Perhaps that is not a true or accurate statement. No one is truly “stuck” unless he or she “chooses” to remain “stuck.”

There is always an alternative option. It’s just that the alternative option isn’t always the best option.

Ugh! This has been a rough couple of weeks.

You win some. You lose some. Or in my case, I am always losing something. Still, God’s will be done.

God is good!

In The Moment…

Have you ever took a moment…I mean a real moment…to stop, take a deep breath, close your eyes and think about where you are in this present moment?

This was my recent experience.

I had just finished retrieving Mr. Man’s Oklahoma State University memorabilia that he wanted to place in a new curio cabinet I recently purchased for him from a local thrift store, when I looked toward the living room from my desk, surveyed the recent changes I had made (including rearranging the furniture), when the thought occured to me, “Where am I in this present moment; what can I do better, and how best should I live today?”

I suppose the thought occurred to me mainly due to the recent sudden death of friend of a friend over the weekend. This particular friend left California Thursday to attend a niece’s graduation in Nebraska Saturday afternoon when my friend received news that his friend had suddenly passed away.

I heard the words (when my friend told me), but my mind, I was having difficulty processing those words. “What!?”, I said to myself. “Bobby passed away!? That is insane.”

Naturally I focused on my friend and what he was feeling (in that moment) rather than the disbelief I was experiencing (in that moment).

The point of the matter is that we were both having an experience (in the moment), albeit different experiences that were both connected to the same news — the passing of a friend.

While I wasn’t necessarily sad for Bobby (the friend who passed away) because in transitioning into eternal life he is no longer suffering from the ailments that plagued him in life, I was grieving for my friend who had only recently spoke with his friend a few days before.

It was while I was in that present moment that I really began to consider the following: What am I doing (or not doing) to better my life and the lives of my neighbors, and what do I need to do moving forward (in this present moment) that God is blessing me with to improve my relationship with Christ, serve my neighbors, and to be a better neighbor to myself and my neighbors?

“What does that look like?”, I asked myself. I don’t know what that looks like (yet), but I am going to find out.

“What have I done!? What does it mean!?”

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), This film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king who has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the “real world.” When Jack accidentally stumbles on Christmastown, with its bright colors and warms spirits, he gets a new lease on life–he plots to bring Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus and taking over the role. But Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go seriously awry, (–Google, 2022).

The purpose of this post is not to promote the movie inasmuch as the message in the movie from a spiritual rather than a secular perspective, if that makes any sense?

The question I find myself asking relative to the film is, “What does it mean not to be in control, to let go, and surrender everything to Christ?”

How often do we, myself included, see the goodness of God’s love, thus giving us a new lease on life–how often do we make the mistake of trying to bring God under our control, rather than the other way around, by kidnapping God as it were in our vain attempt to take over His role, only to come to the realistic conclusion that we are not in control, we are not God, and everything is because of Him, not us?

If you will permit me to go a step further, “What does it mean to renounce self-will, take up our cross, and follow Him?”

I read a recent homily online where renouncing self-will is the topic of the homily. The homilist used as his example what it means to renounce self will as Clare of Assisi did.

According to blog.ctk.cc (2019), St. Clare was a young woman of Assisi who was born into a noble family. She became friends with St. Francis of Assisi. At age 19, she ran away from home, cut off her long and beautiful hair as a sign of her renunciation of the world and its vanity, promised herself to Jesus as His spouse, and put on the rough, brown habit of St. Francis and his followers to begin a great spiritual adventure

She renounced the world and its vanity, renouncing everything that would keep her from totally committing herself to her one love, Jesus Christ, (–blog.ctk.cc, 2019).

What a beautiful act of love to Christ–to give up everything, take up one’s cross and follow after Him. Imagine what that type of commitment, dedication, fortitude, and faith would mean to the culture of today. The horror of it all.

And yet, that is what Christ is asking us to do, in the same way that he responded to the rich young man who asked what more he could or must do and Jesus said (and I paraphrasing), “Sell all your stuff and come follow me.”

The young man could not do that. How much truer is that for many of us today? Let’s change the world by changing ourselves. Let’s pray for the grace to renounce ourselves and the world and give ourselves completely to Christ.

Amen.

Confused!

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and realize two things: a) I am older than I was the previous day, and b) I am a mess, confused, and not as intelligent as I pretend to be.

Okay, so that is four (4) things. So, sue me already (he writes with a smirk on his face).

The former I can’t do much about. Aging is a part of life. We can either embrace it or reject it, but we cannot change the fact that we go from being cute, snuggable, adorable infants whose noses and cheeks people want to kiss, to crotchety, wrinkled, bad smelling codgers who most people don’t want to kiss (He laughs to himself as he write this.)

The latter, I most definitely can do something about.

What can I do, you ask?

Well, I can start by accepting where I am in my present moment at whatever age I am with whatever ailements I have and be at peace with it. Being elderly is never anything any of us should be ashamed about.

It is a gift of God’s love to make it to the age we are right now. There are many who do not make it to this age.

Second, just as spitting up, bottle feeding, learning how to crawl, walk, and use the bathroom are part of being an infant or toddler–again, nothing to be ashamed about. Depends, doctors, wrinkles, grey hair, hunched backs, ugly toe nails, old person smell, walkers, canes, crotechy demeanors, and a boatload of pill popping prescriptions is part of growing old.

It’s all part of the growing process. We all have been there as infants, toddlers, or seniors.

All of that aside, I can still learn from my mistakes, read a book, and ask questions to grow my mind and expand my knowledge be it as a member of the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) or the high school student body.

I just have to ask myself, do I have the courage to walk with the same confidence in myself that Christ has in me? That, my friends, is where the true test of faith is found. I know you will, as will I, make the right decision. Not because of anything we do right, but because our God does everything right.

Ciao!

Do You Hear What I Hear?

You have to wonder to yourself sometimes, “Just how often we truly listen, myself included, whenever we are speaking with or listening to our neighbor(s)?”

Monday evening, during a monthly meeting I have been attending since 2017, I was asked why I am hesitant to participate in a weekend conference sponsored by the national office?

Great question. Here was my response:

“I am not interested in something at my current age that I certainly would have been interested in 30 years ago. By not interested, what I mean to say is this, ‘Other than the fellowship shared between friends, which in itself may be a good reason to attend (at least my mind is open), I cannot justify spending money and time on something I do not believe I need or will be of interest to anyone after the fact.’” 

While this response drew down the hammer of another member of the group. Thank you for the challenge! I did not mean to imply that I was feeling sorry for myself. On the contrary, I was answering the question based on the truth as I understood it.

Being same sex attracted is not something I give much thought to these days. It is not as if I have this insatiable desire to spend my life with someone of the same sex becuase of what I think I need from said individual emotionally or physically.

I don’t have that desire.

No more than I have the desire to celebrate “Pride” or draw attention to the fact that I am same sex attracted. No judgement against those who feel otherwise. More power to them. All I ask is that they respect those of us who do not embrace the lifestyle as they do and to not be so quick to dismiss us because we choose to live our lives differently from theirs.

How we choose to celebrate our sexuality does not preclude us from loving, knowing, and serving God by loving, knowing, and serving our neighbors–especially those who do not share our faith, values, or way of being.

We are all each other’s neighbors. Let’s practice what we preach. That goes for ALL of us.

Personally, I would rather be married (to a woman), employed, preparing for retirement, and enjoying time with family and friends. However, that isn’t my life. It hasn’t been since August 1996. Having said that, it does not mean that I desire to live as I please and to heck with everyone else.

What kind of neighbor or friend would I be if I truly lived that way? Not a well-liked neighbor, that much is certain.

Getting back to the main topic, I don’t believe I need to attend an “Alcoholics Anonymous” type meeting or conference because I cannot control my porn, masturbation, or excessive sexual encounter addictions. All of which can be part of but are not necessarily why I am same sex attracted. Thankfully, I don’t have those addictions, credit to the grace of God.

While it is true that I still experience physical urges and attractions (at times), they are not the center or focus of my life.

The Holy Trinity is the focus of my life. Living life, in accordance with the Father’s will, is the focus of my life. Prayer is the focus of my life. Serving God through my neighbors is the focus of my life. Attempting to repair and redeem myself as a father to my adult children is the focus of my life. Preparing to meet Jesus at the end of my life is the focus of my life.

At least that is what I believe is true for me today.

Had this individual said, “Carlos, the reason I want you to go is because I really enjoy your company, I would really love for you to go, and I firmly believe this would be an opportunity for you to take what you learn and share that knowledge with others through your podcast, video blogs or blogs,” that would have caught my ear — especially the latter…sharing with others because that is what I truly care about — the “others.”

Phrasing it that way takes the focus off of me and places onto those where Christ needs to be, with “the others.” If there is an opportunity to share Jesus where He currently isn’t and maybe learn something along the way in addition to developing new friendships, then I should put my pride aside and think about “the others” and why I should go, rather than place the focus on myself and why I think I should not go.

Spiritual laziness is never a good thing when the Holy Spirit is leading you to do something, which brings to mind the words I heard spoken in my heart in 2014. I asked God after being laid off from my dream job, “God, why did you let this happen to me?”

His immediate response was, “Carlos, who said this is about you.”

Enough said!

I sometimes forget and need to remind myself what this really is about–and it isn’t about me. My friends are right. I need to keep an open mind and take this to prayer. I also need to listen to the Holy Spirit. He won’t lead a stubborn fool to the will of God. He will lead an open and trusting heart to the will of God. God’s will be done. Amen.