Tag Archives: Catholic

Entertainment to Spark the Mind

Hello y’all!  I’m back with another posting.  I rarely do these types of posts, but I feel that I cannot help myself in this case.  I don’t know how many of you saw the Super bowl over the weekend, but I did and I happened to notice the commercial for season 3 of the Hulu original, The Handmaid’s Tale.  Now, I’ve been deeply involved again in my personal Star Trek journey as I’m trying to watch the entire series (from The Original Series all the way to Star Trek Beyond) chronologically and that’s really been all I’ve been watching on TV, but seeing that commercial reignited by interest in that show.  I remember seeing trailers for it at the movie theater and various TV programs in the past about season 1 and I wanted to see it then, but it wasn’t until after the Super bowl that I finally started watching it.  If you haven’t seen it, be prepared for an INSANE ride.

The synopsis as per Google is as follows: “Based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, this series is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state, and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. One of these women, Offred, is determined to survive the terrifying world she lives in, and find the daughter that was taken from her.” HOLY SMOKES, right?!?!

I won’t go into much detail about it aside from this.  As what’s said in that synopsis, the now former United States of America is now a totalitarian society named Gilead.  In Gilead, women are servants to men in all aspects of life.  There are different classes of women, but none of the women are allowed to read or write.  How insane is that, right?!  The women are also forced into Plain Dress attire, and the men are kinda midway through it themselves, and the most horrible aspects of this all involved the violence in the name of religion.  And violence in all forms as you’d suspect.

Now, for those that haven’t seen the show or read the book (I still have to read the book myself), all this happens over the span of about 5 years or so where rights are taken away and people start getting brutally murdered either by gunfire or hanging.  Throughout the show, I’ve been thinking to myself, “How the HELL did the people who didn’t believe in these crazy people’s beliefs not leave?!”  Well, the way it’s shown from the episodes I’ve seen is that people fought back and tried to maintain their rights as American citizens until it was too late for them to escape and they ended up in a life of slavery due to their non-conformity.  It’s brutal.  Catholics, LGBTQs, unmarried couples, divorced and remarried people, and basically anybody else that does not believe in that particular protestant sect’s beliefs are hunted down and publicly hanged, or shot for their beliefs or lifestyles.  In a particularly hard scene for me to watch during episode 2 of season 1, two of the main characters, handmaids, are walking down a street in Cambridge, Massachusetts (where the show mainly takes place) and see St. Paul Church, a parish church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, being torn down.  One handmaid tells the other that the régime also bulldozed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan to try to “erase” the fact that it ever existed.  Seeing that happen on the show just broke my heart.  I started to wonder what I would have done in that situation.  Granted, for at least the immediate future, I’ll still be here in El Paso where if something like this happened… wait, well first off, I think Texas as a state would throw up the proverbial middle finger to this protestant sect and go independent republic like we were from 1836-1845.  Granted, the Republic of Texas existed 183-174 years ago, that independent spirit of native Texans still is strong.  Anyway, with that said, again if Texas didn’t become its own republic again and instead became part of Gilead, it would be pretty easy for people here in El Paso to cross the border into Mexico and escape.

The question is, would people who didn’t believe in radical Gilead retreat or fight?  What would I do?  That’s really the question here.  What the hell would I do?  I didn’t give it much thought, I’d flee.  Now, that’s what I’m trying to figure out about how exactly to feel about my decision.  Does that make me a coward?  Does that make me a non-believer in Jesus Christ?  That’s what I’ve been struggling with.  I mean, sure, it’s said in a few scriptures to be willing to die for the faith, but at what cost?  It’s the double edged sword of laying down one’s life for Christ, but at the same time fighting for one’s life.  An argument can be made for both sides, in my opinion.  I have always just had a very strong sense of self preservation, so I’d find a way to escape and then find a way to fight back any way I could to overthrow evil.

With that said, my next question as I’m watching the show is “Why the hell didn’t these people leave in droves to escape either north or south?!”  From what it looks like to me, it went down like this:  First off, protests took place denouncing the beginning of the removal of rights, etc.  all the while, people believed that this protestant group wasn’t going to really take over the United States and as much crap as they were doing, the country would never cease to exist.  Next, and finally, when the United States of America ceased to exist, all the people who didn’t believe it could happen and fought back instead were then trapped and forced into either slavery, or outright murdered.  I could totally see this happening too.  I mean, who in their right mind would think that something like this could happen?  Ask the German people when the Nazi party took over in 1933.  Of course people say now that something like that will never happen again, but history has a tendency to repeat itself, and that thought alone terrifies me.

So, I’m going to keep watching The Handmaid’s Tale, as I’m on episode 7 of season 1 as of this writing, and keep wondering what I’d do in this world.  I love shows like this.  Shows that make me either think about my own life or make me dream about how I hope life will turn out for humanity as a whole is what sparks my interest.

Have y’all seen this show?!  What are your thoughts on the matter?  Do you question your life and the decisions you’d have to make if thrust into this situation?

Blessed be the fruit and praise be!

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What is Love?

2 blogs in one week?!  Oh yes, my friends!  I feel compelled to talk about something else that’s been on my mind a lot as of late.  I feel very uneasy to admit this because, frankly, it’s not something that I would have found myself saying even 5 years ago, but I’m finding that I am becoming a very conservative person.  Dun DUN DUN!!!!!!! Yes, I know!  I am a sellout.  I am becoming everything I hated, but alas it’s true.  I should clarify and say that I don’t go around throwing around the word “liberal” or calling people “liberals”.  No, those people are assholes.  I have no shame in saying that.  I don’t go around judging people based on their ideals… well for the most part I don’t.  The thing I do do, however, is live a conservative lifestyle and I have been for about the past 3-4 years.  Sure, I have my moments of stupidity every now and again where I let things get away from me and the way I am choosing to live my life goes by the wayside, but those moments have been few and far between.  I’m trying to live a true Catholic lifestyle and let me tell you this… I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my adult life.  I feel like I’m finally getting things right in my life, you know?

Ok, so you’ve gotten this far.  Don’t freak out on me!  If you know me in real life, let me assure you that nothing has changed.  I’m not going to treat you any differently than I have before.  I’m not, as what some people (me included on occasion) blast out, a “holy roller” or a “Jesus freak”.  I may, in fact be those things, but I don’t act them out as to be an attention whore either.  My favorite passage in The Bible happens to be Matthew, Chapter 6.  It’s really the foundation for my beliefs.  If you’ll indulge me:


Concerning Almsgiving

6 “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.2 “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Concerning Prayer

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[a] 7 “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:

Our Father who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done,

    On earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread;[b]

12 And forgive us our debts,

    As we also have forgiven our debtors;

13 And lead us not into temptation,

    But deliver us from evil.[c]

14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Concerning Fasting

16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Concerning Treasures

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[d] consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust[e] consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The Sound Eye

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Serving Two Masters

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.[f]

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

Footnotes:

6.6 This does not, of course, exclude public worship but ostentatious prayer.

Matthew 6:11 Or our bread for the morrow

Matthew 6:13 Or the evil one. Other authorities, some ancient, add, in some form, For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6:19 Or worm

Matthew 6:20 Or worm

6.24 mammon: i.e., riches.

Matthew 6:27 Or to his stature


 

I’ll give you the short meanings of each topic.  First off, don’t let anybody know of the good deeds that you do as in order to get praise.  Secondly, when not attending Mass, pray in private, man.  God will reward you there.  If you want the attention and people knowing that you pray to show them just how good of a person you are, then that will be your reward.  If you want a real reward, keep it to yourself, man.  Oh, and while you’re at it.  FORGIVE or else don’t expect to be forgiven when it’s your time to ask for it.  Oh yeah, and that thing we call money that we want to flash out to everybody so that they can see how badass you are?  Good for you.  Our time here is just temporary, man.  If you wanna party for a fraction of a second here, go ahead.  If you want to be invited to the real party, you’ll keep your stash in your savings account that you can’t access until you check out of this place first.  While we’re at it, you can’t serve God and seek to gain all the monies either, dude.  You gotta choose which one is more important to you.  Choose wisely, by the way.  And lastly, be cool, man.  God’s got you.  If you love him, he’ll never let you down.  He knows what you need to survive and you’ll have it.  Chill out.

That’s why I don’t wear shirts about religion, start conversations about religion, or blast these Christian pop songs.  Actually, to be honest, those “praise and worship” “Christian rock/pop” or whatever people want to call it is actually almost offensive to me.  Don’t get pissed off, let me explain.  As a Catholic attending a FSSP parish, I’ve been further exposed to Gregorian Chant.  Chant has been Holy Mother Church’s music for about 1,300 years and as my previous blog attests to, I live by the motto of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  To me, if you want to sing about God, He already gave us the music to play.  Leave secular music where it belongs… outside of the church.  I know, it’s just my opinion, but I got my reasons behind my opinion.  Actually, now that I think of it, an argument can be made that pop music for Jesus could go against the teachings from Matthew Chapter 6 that I just mentioned.  In any event, I don’t partake or listen to any of that nonsense or make it known unless asked that I’m versed in my faith.  I try to lead as much of a pious life as I can and know that each day that I do a good job at that, I’m one step closer to having a shorter term in purgatory when my number is called.

With that all said I have also made it a routine to visit Crisis Magazine which posts 2 long essays a day about various topics.  The authors of these essays brief biography is posted after each essay to let the reader know of their history and background to also solidify the fact that they do indeed have some knowledge about the topic they happen to be writing about.  Some of the essays, however, are still a bit much for me.  Mainly it’s the ones that blame the “liberals” or the Democratic Party (they use the terms interchangeably) for the faults of society as we know it today.  That’s where they get things wrong, in my opinion.  It’s not just the “liberals”, it’s everybody who decides to not follow their moral conscience and God knows that conservative people are NOT free of blame in doing shady messed up things either.  They are just as guilty as everybody else.  But, looking past that, I tend to be in agreement with every other article because these people actually know their faith.  The basis on their arguments that they made in defense of an action or a call to stop an action is based not only on Bible references, but on Church history, which is the way it should be.  The doctors, saints, confessors, and martyrs of Holy Mother Church and their stories and teachings are also points of reference in the faith and enrich one’s life in faith.

Now, the other day, this article struck a chord with me that has reverberated enough that I am writing this long diatribe now.  I was reading along to it nodding in agreement until just a few paragraphs into the essay, the author writes this:

“Has our culture now reached the place where the gold standard for “love” is uncommitted, easy, no-strings-attached infatuation?”

and further goes on about speaking about a protestant megachurch preacher (makes me wonder why she even watched/heard this unless it was just for further research for her essay) and his 45 minute talk about marriage that didn’t mention children once,

“It seems being a married couple need not have anything to do with babies, sacrifice, helping one another get to Heaven, or the multiplication of love. Marriage is, apparently, only there to make you feel good.  Heaven forbid you wake up one day with a stuffy nose, bad mood, or passing fancy, like Ms. Afont did, and discover you might just feel otherwise.”

I stopped reading right there and really thought about it.  The thought that came to me was “Man, she’s right.”  Men and women today don’t give a damn about anything but themselves nowadays.  There’s no family life anymore.  Hell, just look at the divorce rates!  There’s no yearning to live a good enough life to give yourself at least a fighting chance to make it to Heaven and live in eternal peace, happiness, and pure love.  No, most people and I’ll say society as a whole now just want instant gratification with no consequences for their actions.  “Here’s to feeling good all the time!” as Kramer once so beautifully said on Seinfeld.  Nobody wants to take the road less traveled, the difficult road, the whatever you wanna call it road that leads to the better prize.  Nope.  People want just a taste of the sweetness and not the whole thing.  Work for it?  Why the hell do that?  That’s crazy talk!

That leads me to my situation.  Not to sound like a narcissist, but that really can explain why it is that I’m solo deep.  Well, let’s not forget about the fact that I’m also short and fat, but that’s beside the point.  I’m not choosing the secular or protestant path.  I’m choosing the Catholic path and most people I know are a little averse to it, if you want me to be honest.  I don’t want to live a life filled with carnal pleasures just to have fun.  Honestly, I never have, but that belief is even more reaffirmed now.  I don’t want to get into a serious relationship just so that I can have relations regularly.  Ha!  Funny I even mention that because typing that out reminded me of one of my ex-girlfriends back in my early 20s.  She actually said something to the effect of “Well, that’s why you get a significant other, no?  for the guaranteed sex.”  Even then I said (or at least gave the facial expression of) “WTF?”  Ummm, no.  Sorry to ruin that idea for you that all guys want is sex.  I don’t.  I want to find a wife that will help me get to heaven.  God willing said wife and I will be blessed with children that we can also raise in the faith and teach them the ways to get to heaven too.  Yes, I would like to have similar interests as well.  I want a woman who will not look at me with some shocked face and call me stupid because I want to watch nerdy documentaries.  I want a woman who won’t judge me for going all over the spectrum of music when listening to it.  Oh, and aside from holy obligations, can it be cool to watch NASCAR, football, baseball, golf, and hockey too?  And while we’re on favors and holy obligations, can I also have a woman who won’t come up with excuses to not to go Mass on Sundays and other holy days of obligation?

My search continues.

Until next blog, y’all!

¿Who Dis?

This past week, for some reason, I surpassed the 100 follower mark.  Insane, right?!  I thank each and every one of you for following me, by the way!  In honor of that, and also in honor of a recent discovery and mutual follow and their “About Me” blog post, I thought I should do one of my own!  Just in case y’all are reading this through WordPress’ Following<Reader section of their website and that “About Me” section just isn’t really there.

Oh, still reading!  Whew!  Cool!  Well, hi there!  My name is David.  At least, that’s the handle my loving parents glossed me with.  For about the past 10 years, most people have known me by my band name, Clone.  Yep, I’m one of those imaginary rockstar dudes.  Even worse, I’m a drummer!  I know, the old joke is that drummers really aren’t musicians.  I get it, I get it.  Haha!  In any event, yes, I am a drummer in a band with my most of my best friends and our name is Searchlight Needles.  Look us up!  You’ll find our first album is up on all your favorite digital music outlets.  I’ve been a drummer nearly all my life.  Some of my favorite memories as a child were playing drums on my couch with flyswatters.  I’d be drumming along to 80’s hair metal, because that’s what I really loved back in my youth.  Well, I take that back.  I’ve loved all styles of music since I was young, if you want me to be honest.  That’s one thing that I can tell you right off the bat.  Music is my life.  I was raised on The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Grupo Mazz, Selena, Emilio Navaira, “King” George Strait, Reba McIntyre, The Judds, The Latin Breed, and Led Zeppelin just to name a few artists my parents exposed me to.  From there, my godfather (who is a badass, by the way.  I miss that dude and I need to really reconnect with him), dropped by the house one day when I was about 6 and brought me a stereo system.  It was one of those receiver deals with two separate speakers.  Not a boom box, this thing was legit!  Naturally, I just wanted to hear whatever songs the radio had for me.   Well, not too long after, I found it.   Mötley Crüe had a new single out titled “Girls, Girls, Girls” and I was in love.  From then on, it was a love affair with heavy metal music that continues to this day.  I got into the aforementioned Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Poison, Bon Jovi, Cinderella, and the list goes on.  Yes, Glam Metal!  It ruled!!!  That’s why I love the band Steel Panther so much too.  But that’s another story.

Where was I?  Oh yes, me.  So, yes.  Not only am I a musician, er drummer.  Whatever.  I’m also just your regular ol’ dude who is passionate about many other things aside from music.  One thing people will tell you about me who know me in the real world is that I’m passionate about the relationships I keep.  I love my friends and family.  Without them, I’d be nothing.  Most of them put up with my stupid qwerks, my crazy moods, and my tendency to find the joke in anything.  If I’m talking to you and I haven’t made at least 1 joke in about 5 minutes, you know something’s wrong with me.  I can have my serious moments too.  Take religion, for example.  That’s one thing I’m serious about.  I’ve blogged plenty about it, so take a look around at my previous posts and find out about that journey.  I think it’s kinda cool.

I suppose I should mention this too.  In an odd turn of events in my life, I’ve also never been married nor do I have any children.  I think that topic in today’s society deserves a blog all of its own, but yeah, I’m a regular guy living his life out solo deep.  To be honest, I always imagined myself being married and having kids as a kid myself.  I was always waiting for it to happen, as stupid as that sounds.  I think it actually gives me a nice prospective on life, though.  I’ve found the blessings in it all, so it’s not all that bad.

That’s really all I can think of about me that can’t be explored further here on my blog.  I’ve actually been blogging here on WordPress since November 5, 2011! I’m coming up on 7 years here!  94 posts (including this one) and counting!  Well, I actually had more, but I deleted some that no long had relevance in my life/didn’t represent me well.  I’m sure you’ll find something interesting about me in those other 93 posts!

So, thank you again for following me!  You keep reading, and I’ll keep on writing!

Adventures in Roadtripping

Hey y’all!  What an INSANE two weeks it’s been!  I’ve been meaning to write out this blog for just over a week, but holy smokes does life have me hanging by the tips of my fingers!  So!  To give you an update on the latest and greatest in my life, I actually took a vacation for the first time in two years about two weeks ago!  I had it in the planning stages for quite some time and it actually came to be.  Honestly, I’m surprised that I pulled it off.  Instead of going to my usual haunts, being Phoenix and/or Las Vegas, I decided to spice things up and hit up the greater San Diego area and spend some time at the beach.  Aside from about 30 minutes in December of 1997 in the Miami area, and about another 45 minutes in the Torrance, California area sometime around 2012ish, I hadn’t spent any time at any beach since my high school band trip to the island of Oahu, Hawaii in 1996. I was long overdue!  I tried to go to San Diego sometime around suicide time in 2011, but I chickened out for some stupid reason.  I really can’t remember why, honestly, but it’s been on my mind to go since then.  Of course, the heart wants what the heart wants, so I’d always make my way to my two favorite cities and I’d put the beach on the backburner.  Well, during the MLB playoffs last year when they released the schedule for what is now this year, I decided to pull the trigger and finally make that San Diego trip a reality.  I had already skipped seeing my favorite MLB team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, that season and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to go to a game this season, and I also wanted to go to one of the other NL West team’s stadiums (well, not Dodger Stadium because 1:  I HATE the Dodgers.  And 2:  They don’t take kindly to other team’s fans and I don’t want to risk my life or end up being disabled because of those moron fans of theirs).  My choices were really down to two.  AT&T Park in San Francisco, or Petco Park in San Diego.  Both of those stadiums look beautiful on TV, and the fact that I also wanted to spend time at a beach or two really made my choice clear.  San Diego it would be.  I got my time off scheduled and started to set the wheels in motion to plan out a rough idea of things then.

While committing to going on this trip of mine, I also wanted to make it a point to try and see more of the area than just San Diego, and thankfully hotel prices dictated that I found a pretty well priced motel in Oceanside to stay at.  I thought about how cool that would be because my dad was stationed at Camp Pendleton there in Oceanside when he was in the Navy and was actually there while my mom stayed behind back home in El Paso when I was born.  I know bits and pieces of the story of the day of my birth because my pop and his buddies bought a keg and took it to one of the beaches to honor John Lennon, who was murdered the night before I showed up, and to of course celebrate me being born.  I can just imagine how wild that party on the beach must have been.  LOL!

Well, after setting everything in motion, booking the room, and later on in February buying my seat for the baseball game I was going to attend, the time finally came for me to head on out.  Man, I was so excited!  This is a strange thing for me to be excited about new things too, mind you, because as I’ve grown older I’m finding myself not wanting to really do new things.  I know that sounds stupid, but I like having a set routine.  Not only set routine, but if I do go out somewhere, I like to escape to the places I already know and love.  I like to go camping where I like to go camping.  Why go to another spot when I’ve already found a perfect area?  Same thing with going out of town.  Why deal with anywhere east of about central Texas?  It’s too damn humid and I HATE humidity, so that pretty much cancels out a lot of places.  AND add to that that I already love Phoenix and Las Vegas, so why change that up?  Anyway, I digress, after a few stops along the way in the city, I made my way out to my first stop for the night, which was a small, middle of nowhere place called Eloy, AZ.  No offense to those who live or work in the area, but there’s really nothing out there.  The reason I stopped there, however, was because Eloy is where I-8 starts out from I-10 and I-8 takes you right into San Diego.  The drive getting out to Eloy from here was more fun than I thought it would be.  An INSANE storm system was passing through pretty much the entire southern portion of New Mexico and I ran right into it.  It was awesome to put my RainX application skills to the test because I had no problem seeing through the storm!  What sucked, however, was that the conditions of the roads in New Mexico caused me to damage my driver’s side front tire.  That would come back to haunt me later.  I stopped in Eloy and checked into my motel for the night and inspected my tire and deduced that I had probably gotten an impact break in the interior of the tire because it felt out of balance.  I thought as long as it didn’t get too bad, I’d be ok, so I got into my room for the night and wound down.  The next morning was going to bring me to Oceanside and the beach, so I only slept 6 hours before I was awake and ready to go again.  I couldn’t wait to get going, so I fueled up my truck and made my way down I-8.  I must say, if you’ve never made that drive from Eloy into California from I-8, it is quite an interesting drive!  It might be the desert rat in me, but I loved the scenery around me!  There were a lot of farms and dairies that I wouldn’t think would be able to survive in the middle of the desert, but there they were!  It was so cool to see life happening in small batches at a time.  Once I made it to Yuma, things got really cool!  Yuma is a border city, much like El Paso is, where three states and two countries meet.  Hearing Google Maps tell me “Welcome to California!” once I passed the border made things seem a bit more real knowing that I would be in Oceanside in a matter of hours.  Something I didn’t expect to see, however, were the awesome dunes just across the border into California.  Such a strange and bizarre gathering of sands.  I was fixated on them, actually!  Wondering why they formed in that specific area.  Then after passing those, I realized that the freeway was riding along the border of Mexico.  It was so cool to see a different part of Mexico than what I get to see here, which is Ciudad Juarez on my everyday drives.  The other thing that had me surprised was the weather in the area.  I stopped at a rest stop to stretch my legs a bit and grab a drink and was kinda amazed to find that it was about 100 degrees outside and very humid.  I wasn’t expecting that at all!  I kept going and found the road every changing from that point on.  I kept climbing and dropping thousands of feet in elevation going from at one point sea level, all the way up to 5,000 feet and back down again to 2-3,000 feet, all while going through mountains, sides of mountains, and Indian reservations, forest-like areas, and back into desert rocky landscapes.  It was very beautiful and awesome.

Finally, after climbing one last time to 5,000 feet, I made the decent down to El Cajon.  Now, this is where my love for NASCAR kicked in.  For those who don’t know, 7-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was raised in El Cajon.  I had always wondered what kind of a city it was and I was going to see it.  In a surprise to me, it was kind of a mountain town.  Totally different than what I had imagined.  Very cool though to know and to think about the whole time I passed through the city that Jimmie had grown up there.  I went from El Cajon, into Santee, Escondido, San Marcos, then right into Vista.  Vista is another place that is special to my heart.  Vista is where I lived for at least a few months after I was born.  Dad hasn’t talked about it much, only because I haven’t really asked him, but I felt like I had to take in all that I was seeing knowing that it was my home at one point in my life, even if it was only for a very brief moment.  I kept wondering if dad would recognize any of it since he hasn’t been there in about 30 years.  What were the streets like?  What buildings used to be where new ones stand now?  I was fascinated by it all.  Before I knew it, however, Google was barking at me to make sure I’d take the next exit to Harbor Drive because I was 5 minutes from my destination.  I was excited!  I was able to see an entrance gate to Camp Pendleton and wondered how many times dad went through there, then turned right onto N Coast Highway.  I was there, and it was there that I could finally get my first glimpse of the beach.  It was so awesome to see waves coming in, and to feel the energy of the people there on the beach.  I quickly checked into my motel, dragged all my stuff up to the room and changed into my beach clothing.  It was only a 10 minute walk to the beach from where I was staying and I was expecting madness because the front desk clerk told me that the beach was going to be crazy because of a very large women’s surfing competition starting that day.  How cool was that, right?!  Totally what I would have expected!  Hahaha!  As long as I found a spot to lay my bag of stuff, that’s all I needed.

After the 10 minute walk where I must have been looking around everywhere like some sort of thief, I made my way onto Oceanside Strand Beach.  Man, it was so cool to hear the people, hear the ocean, and know that I was going to be a part of that.  Turns out, as well, that the surfing competition was happening on the other side of the Oceanside Pier, so the side closer to me was all open to the public.  I wasted no time, set my things down, took some pictures and video, and then walked right into the waves crashing onto the beach.  I don’t think such a feeling of accomplishment has been felt by me like that in a long time.  Well, actually, I can tell you when.  Searchlight Needles recording our live album gave me that sense of accomplishment.  LOL!  But it felt like it was longer than a year and a few months ago!  Anyway, it was awesome to know that I was finally in the ocean water again, getting beat up by the waves.

Let me tell you this.  I had a moment with God while there in the water.  I felt his presence, actually, is a better way to put it.  These waves that didn’t seem so tough or anything, were throwing me around back towards the beach, but 10 feet at a time away from my spot.  I know, the atheists in the crowd are going to bust my balls over this, but each time I had to reset myself to be straight ahead of my bag after getting thrown by the waves, I thought about how awesome our Lord really is.  How powerful is He to create the ocean tides, the movement of the water, the creatures in the sea, everything!  How awesome is He to create that?  I just had to smile and thank Him for allowing me to experience that moment.

I spent two hours at the beach before the need for nourishment took precedence over enjoying the beach.  I hadn’t eaten since my customary meal at Whataburger back home the afternoon before, and it was already 6pm my time, so I made my way back to my room to shower back up and change into street clothes.  The city was bustling with traffic and people were just making their way to the beach.  It was so cool to see humanity in action.  After getting myself ready, I made my way back to the pier area to hit up a restaurant I had already investigated to go visit.  I was not disappointed.  The bar was a double sided bar with one side in the restaurant and the other out towards the open air and a view of the ocean.  Of course I sat facing the ocean and enjoyed a meal and some beers and took in a beautiful sunset.  I walked the entire length of the pier afterwards after sunset and found that at least a handful of people were into the night swimming action.  That was kinda crazy to me, but more power to them!

The next morning, I was up bright and early to hit up the beach again where I found that there were at least a few people like me who were early birds.  Some were surfing, while a handful of us were just swimming around in the water.  It was a very cool mix.  I spent about two hours there before I made my way back to the motel to shower up again and get ready for my drive down to San Diego for that afternoon’s baseball game.

That hour’s drive from Oceanside to San Diego made me realize things.  People in California are COMPLETELY INSANE drivers.  The motorcyclists out there do not give a DAMN about rules.  They ride the white lines in between traffic, and nobody obeys the speed limit.  At all.  People either go about 10-15 below it, or 10-30 miles over it.  I was questioning the logic behind Stone Cold Steve Austin and some other drivers I’ve heard who have claimed that El Paso drivers are the worst.  Hell no.  We may have an overabundance of jerk slow drivers in the left lane, but aside from that we are pretty consistent at driving either at 4 miles over, or way the hell over the speed limit.  OH!  And another thing.  What the hell, California drivers?!  Would it kill y’all to use your turn signals?!?!  9 out of 10 of them don’t.  Dangerous, dangerous drivers over there!  Lastly, please, people.  For the love of God.  PLEASE do not call turn signals “blinkers.”  Hearing or reading that term is like nails to a chalkboard to me.  Hahaha!

Anyway!  I made it to San Diego and found the I-5 freeway leading into the city to be one of the most beautiful drives in a major city I’ve done.  It was filled with twists and turns and elevation changes that showed and hid different elements of the surrounding area and it was pretty cool to experience.  The only thing that was concerning, however, was the area around Petco Park.  I don’t want to come across as judgmental, harsh, rude, etc, but the city doesn’t show it’s best side around that area.  It was littered with filth, smelled of old urine everywhere, and aside from a few buildings, it looked run down everywhere.  There was a large homeless people congregation around as well, and God bless them, but it’s not a pretty picture to paint for a first time visitor to experience on their trip.  I never felt unsafe, though, or maybe it was my firm belief in God and His will, but it sure was a bummer seeing all of that.

So, the game and the stadium itself was a big time treat!  Dare I say, that Petco Park was a prettier stadium than Chase Field.  EEEK!  Can I say that?!  I think I just did!  Chase Field just feels ordinary, if that makes any sense.  Maybe it’s because with the Arizona heat, it’s hard to have a game with the roof and the panels open, but it just feels like you’re in a giant box of a stadium most of the times I’ve gone there.  Still awesome, though, as it’s the home stadium for me, but seeing the bit of Petco Park that I saw, I felt like it was something kinda beautiful.  The lawn behind the outfield was pretty awesome, as was the statue for Mr. Padre AKA Tony Gwynn (R.I.P.), and the stadium itself felt pretty unique.  I thought I wouldn’t like looking into a portion of the cityscape from my seat, but I was wrong.  I thought it was pretty awesome to see that too.  The game was awesome, we won by the way, and I made my drive back to Oceanside that night happy that I experienced what I did.

The next morning started dark and early at 5am as that’s the time I thought I should wake up to have enough time to get dressed in my dress attire, pack a bag for the beach, and drive back to San Diego for Mass then a visit to Mission Beach.  Google wasn’t wrong.  I left the motel about 6:10 and made it to St. Anne’s Catholic Church with the perfect amount of time to go to confession, do penance, read the readings for the day, and fully participate in that morning’s Low Mass at 7:30.  It was the 3rd FSSP apostolate I’ve attended after my home parish Immaculate Conception, and Mater Misericordiae Mission in downtown Phoenix.  St. Anne’s was just as beautiful as Mater Misericordiae in Phoenix.  The altar and sanctuary were beautiful, and the ceiling was beautifully done as well.  After Mass, I made the 15 minute drive to Mission Beach hoping to experience the same nice experience as Oceanside, but I found Mission Beach to be too crowded and the beach itself to have a different texture of sand that I just didn’t care for as much.  I don’t want to hate on it too much or anything, but I was just kind of unimpressed with it all.  I tried to make the best of it and walked around the shops and restaurants that were built as tourist traps and even went into the one big restaurant to try and have a beer and some food.  After getting my first round, I seemed to have been ignored, which I found to be kinda odd.  You’d think a solo traveler wouldn’t cause too much trouble and wouldn’t be such a bother to either get another beer, or possibly order food right?  Wrong.  I was pretty much ignored.  That sucked.  On the bright side, having a clear shot towards the beach from the space I was sitting at at the bar was pretty nice.

Overall, my impression of San Diego isn’t a good one anymore.  The experience around the baseball stadium and the bad service I got at the restaurant at Mission Beach left me wanting to get back to Oceanside as soon as I could.  The shops were better there, the people were friendlier, and the place was a lot nicer.

After an hour and thirteen minute drive back to Oceanside, I made my way back to the Oceanside Strand Beach and spent another 2 hours there and really took in the experience knowing that it would be my last chance to be at the beach for my trip.  It was crowded, as it was a Sunday, but even then, I was able to find a spot to put my stuff and got back in the water.  The surf wasn’t as strong that day, but it was still awesome to be able to get slightly thrown around and enjoy the time I had there.

After freshening up again, I walked back near the pier to go back to the restaurant/bar I was at on Friday night.  Before making it there, however, I wanted to really solidify a new thing that I’ve started which is getting a magnet from the places and/or cities I’ve visited.  So far, I’ve gotten one from the Utah Olympic Park, Grand Canyon, a few from Las Vegas, and now Petco Park, Mission Beach, and two from Oceanside.  I was pretty stoked to have scored a second Oceanside magnet just for buying one.  That was pretty cool of the gift shop I went into to give me.  The afternoon into night was as awesome as I thought it would be and I called it a night pretty early that night.

The next morning brought my trip to Las Vegas.  I was pretty excited to make that drive too, because it was going to be my first time to drive north into Las Vegas.  I’ve driven south into town and also west into town, but this was going to be a treat to see parts of California I hadn’t seen before.  The drive didn’t disappoint.  Right off the bat, I got to see the naval hospital in Oceanside that looked really new, so immediately I thought my old man would have liked to see it, then after hugging the coast for a while and really enjoying that scenery, I made my way into San Clemente and near Dana Point.  As a former hardcore Jim Rome Clone (hey, I’m still a Clone, just not as hardcore about it because I can’t stream it at work), it was awesome to pass Dana Point which is right next to San Clemente too!  30 pieces of Silver!!!!  Right after San Clemente/Dana Point, I got into San Juan Capistrano which I had heard of thanks to the Rome show, saw signs for Laguna Beach,  Laguna Hills, and Mission Viejo, all of which I had heard of for one reason or another too!  Actually driving through them was pretty awesome!  The freeway took me into Irvine, and just at the outskirts of Orange, Tustin, and Anaheim, so that was awesome too!  After a crazy climb through mountains, the highway lead me down to Corona… another jungle town that I had heard of, then I got into Chino, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga (where most of the film Next Friday takes place!  LOL!), Fontana (Hi Natalie!!!  I wish I would have had the time to stop and meet up!), then a crazy climb into Cajon Junction (another gorgeous part of the drive), then into Victorville and Barstow.  The whole reason I mention these names in detail is because I think it was so awesome to drive through these cities I was only familiar with the names of.  Now I got memories to match up with those names.  Nothing particularly special about any of them more than any other city, but it was just awesome to drive through them and see them.  After brushing up against Death Valley and being able to see just how hot it was outside, at about 115 degrees midday as I was driving through, I made my way out of California and into Nevada.  It’s kinda cool seeing the large hotels in Primm from a distance and knowing that those are right on the Nevada border, by the way.

After making it into Vegas, things had gotten pretty crazy with my tire that I mentioned about 4,000 words ago. By this point, what started out as a small vibration had turned into a full blown fight with my steering wheel to keep the truck driving straight.  I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t make the time to get it looked at.  There was a place in Oceanside that I was going to go to to get the spare tire put on when I made it back from San Diego on Sunday, but they were closed on Sundays, which I found odd for California not being a blue law state, so I was going to do it probably on my way out of Vegas.

I made it to the hotel with good time, and after putting all the stuff I brought with me to the room, I set a place to meet up with some dear friends of mine who live out there.  I met up with them at my favorite bar in town and we had a great time catching up.  I gotta say I’m blessed to have such great friends in my life.  They made my day!!!  After my homegirl and I took a look at my dying tire, we noticed that the thing was cording, so I knew that it wasn’t going to last the drive back home.  There was a mom n’ pop tire joint right next door, but for some reason God was telling me to just hold back on it.  I made my way onto the strip after my visit with my friends was over and enjoyed my walk up and down the strip.  I couldn’t believe it, but after it was all said and done, I walked for about 7 hours with only one break to grab a bite to eat at Gordon Ramsay Burger and another quick snack at Hooters on the south end of the strip.  Let me tell you, Gordon Ramsey Burger was delicious, but I found it odd that you had to order your fries separately.  I didn’t because I assumed that the fries came with the burger, but oh well.  I should have skipped the fries anyway!  Hahaha!  Fast forward to 2am.  I made my way back to my hotel and enjoyed some music time while I watched life on the strip happen outside my window.  It was so cool to just watch life happen.  Granted, I couldn’t move anyway considering that my feet were dead by that point, but it was something I was planning on doing anyway.  My one night in Vegas ended with me happy that I made the extra trip out of the way to get there.  I got to spend time with friends whom I love dearly, got to walk the strip, eat at a new place for me, and ended it peacefully in my room.

The next morning was going to bring a quick trip to Bass Pro Shops because it’s probably my favorite store to visit in any location there is one.  I love to check out the uniqueness of each location, and I like to browse the camping gear imagining ways I could use them for my own camping adventures.  Same thing with the boats.  Man, if I could get a 26 foot pontoon boat, I’d be set!

So, all the while, I’m concerned with my tire again because even running cold the stupid thing was just a mess.  I knew I had to stop and change out the thing for a spare, but it was just a matter of the location I was going to get it done at.  Well, at this point, God stepped in and told me where this was going to go down.  I was in Boulder City, Nevada.  I thought, even though I hadn’t heard any news by then, that the Boulder City Bypass was going to be opened as it was supposed to be opened by the end of July.  It was August 1st, so it should have been done by then.  Wrong!  I was forced to go back up onto US-93 and I was initially bummed out that I wouldn’t get to experience the bypass for the first time, but that disappointment turned into a quick “YES!  THANK YOU JESUS!” moment for me as there was a relatively new firestone location off of Us-93 that I had not noticed on my very frequent drive through the town.  I thought about it for a quick second then made the U-turn to the store.  It’s a great thing that I did because after explaining that I just needed my spare tire mounted in place of my dead tire, it turns out that at some point within the past 3 or so years since I had to replace my tire wench, it along with my spare tire were stolen.  Can you believe that?!  I had no spare tire!  Now, at this point, I’m sure anybody would be pissed off at the situation I was made aware of.  Oddly, I wasn’t.  The Christian in me immediately thought that somebody in need for one reason or another stole my spare and wench.  They needed it more than I did at the time.  God didn’t let me go into harm’s way though, because I stopped where I did.  Two hours and a lot of laughs with the guys at the shop later, I was on my way.  It was 4:23pm pacific time.  I was feeling relatively ok, so I thought there may have been a chance that I could make it straight home without having to stop and sleep at a rest stop along the way.  I don’t know why I thought this, to be honest, because every time I’m driving back and once I get into New Mexico, I start to get extremely sleepy.  My brain, at that point, knows that I’m close to home so there’s no reason to be fully alert.  Google Maps told me I’d be home at 4am if I drove straight, so I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t make it because that would beat the previous record for the latest arrival from Vegas on a non-family trip by an hour.  Confidence was high!  I experienced beautiful driving having no tire issues anymore and before I knew it, I was driving through Phoenix by 9pm that night.  I was in full on driving mode by that point.  I wasn’t hungry, I was awake, and my goal was to get home.  I thought about stopping in Casa Grande for fuel and a quick necessity break which I got around 10pm and decided to push through.  I was awake, I got another round of Dr Pepper loaded up, and I went on my way.  Tucson came quickly and the boring part of the drive happened then.  Thankfully I did this at night because aside from the little scenery through Texas Canyon, then Willcox, there is really nothing out to see after the 30th time driving through it.  I thought if anything, if I went downhill quickly, I could stop in Texas Canyon or Willcox, but that didn’t happen at all. I had Google Maps running to share my drive and it adjusted by saying I’d make it home by 3:45am.  Sure enough, that’s the time I pulled into the parking lot at my apartment complex safe and sound.  I made the insane journey from Boulder City, Nevada to El Paso, Texas in about 10.5 hours with only one pit stop.  I felt pretty badass.  I crashed out very soon after that and dealt with the drive hangover the rest of the day.

So, there it is.  A trip report of my first real vacation in over two years.  It was a blast.  I cannot wait to get back to Oceanside again.  Or maybe visit San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point instead and see what those towns have to offer.  Point is, I can’t wait to do it again.  And now I’m back to my normal routine living out life in just-the-right-speed-for-me El Paso.  Livin’ my crazy life!

Until next time, my friends!

…You don’t have to tell me

Holy smokes!  Has it actually been since November since I’ve last jotted something down?  Man.  I’m horrible!  What has happened since then?  Well, a quick recap… I celebrated my 37th birthday with family and friends as I threw myself an ode to Kevin Smith party.  Christmas and the New Year were awesome, and the first quarter of this year was pretty ok too all things considered.  As always with my life, there are strikes and gutters (to use The Dude’s way of saying it) and I find my days to just blend into the next.  My life is a routine and I can honestly say that I love that aspect of it.  I know what’s coming each day to the next.  Some people would consider that a death sentence and would want desperately to get out of that rut, but I worked my way to comfortably get myself into the spot I’m in and I’ve been taking the time to let it all soak in.

The reason I mention myself being a creature of habit is because with the joking threat of violence on me (not seriously, my homegirl and I love each other and she just wanted to push me into a new adventure), I was talked into joining up those dreaded new aged dating apps/websites.  I’ll tell you, the idea of it at first sounds pretty fun, but then when you get into it you realize just how crazy things can get.  For example, on one of them, I am constantly bombarded with pornographic pictures for profile pics with these companies not even trying to hide the fact that it’s porn.  On another, they are a bit sneakier about their bad intentions, but I can sniff these fake profiles out from miles away.  And on the last one, that seems to be the most legitimate, even after verifying my authenticity, I find it to be a personal ghost town.  Wait; let me backtrack a little bit there.  When I boil everything down, all 3 are personal ghost towns which therefore affirms the fact that maybe I missed the calling to be a priest.  I say that half-jokingly because a lot of people have actually told me that I should or should have been a priest.  Anyway, back to the point… yeah… I don’t know what it is, but at first this social experiment brought on by one of my dear friends gave me an ego crushing that I knew was coming but didn’t want to see.  In a 100 or so mile radius, I got nothing.  I was avoided like a black plague.  I was shocked, amused, and saddened all at the same time.

I laugh about it now because it’s been a few weeks since that and still nothing, but it proved the point I had made to myself that I’m unwanted.  I don’t mean that negatively or anything so don’t try to say nice things to cheer me up or anything like that because I honestly feel ok about it all, but the truth is the truth.  The truth.  Heh.  That’s probably the biggest part of the problem there too.  I am very truthful in my profiles.  I put things there on Front Street.  I am a short, fat, traditional Catholic, INFJ introvert, nerdy, comic, musician.  That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.  Why try to say something I’m not?  I know at least being honest in saying all of it.  Not that I was a liar in the past, but I have been making it a point to be honest about everything in my life for a couple of years now.  Why hide stuff, right?  Why omit things?  I find just putting everything out there on front street in my life is the best way to go.  I know said friend told me that maybe I should spice things up or show some different side of me, or something to that effect after I said I struck out swinging, but in a moment of honesty I thought about it and said that there was no other side of me.  What you see is what you get when it comes to me.  I’m generally an even keeled dude who loves to joke around and enjoy life.  I’m serious about the things to be serious about (which is pretty much my relationship with God), but otherwise it’s jokes and taking it easy.  Why be wound up and stressed out over things, right?

So, with all that said, I’m going to take myself out on a dinner and a movie date tonight to break up my hospital cabin fever frustration (long story) and keep on doing my thing.  I’ll try and write more here, much to the chagrin of a few of my best friends, and continue down this path that God has set forth for me.  Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy St. Valentine’s Day, and Happy St. Patrick’s day to everybody out there!

Ragrets and The End

I’ve had a lot of strange moments in my life lately.  Mainly, they have all been brought to my attention thanks to my continuing chronological journey through Star Trek.  Here’s an example.  This is going to sound morbid, but I don’t mean it this way… BUT!  Has it ever crossed your mind, or have you actually done a goodbye video in the event of your death?  What brought this about was the death of a main character in season 1 of The Next Generation. The rest of the main cast goes to the holodeck where they are greeted by a hologram of the recently deceased giving a goodbye message.  I thought this was the coolest thing ever.  Now, I have seen about 88% of the episodes of TNG, this one included, but this time around I’m really paying attention and that scene struck a chord with me.  I started to think about it and I think that would be the thing that I would want to do.  Actually, I’d make two videos.  I’d make one for the people organizing my visitation/Rosary/Funeral making sure that they dressed me up in the tie I’d like to wear, make sure that they don’t have the Requiem Mass anywhere else but my FSSP parish and offered by one of the FSSP priests, and to make sure that the people I happened to mention in the second video would be present for said video if I did blast some names out.  THEN I’d go ahead with the goodbye video.  I think that would solve a lot of problems.  Gone would be the “In according to what we believe his wishes very well may have been…” business, it would be put right there on front street what I’d want.  Now, I know funeral planning and prepaying is a thing already, but I would like to add the personal touch of a video.  Some co-workers and I talked about that today and I was hoping they wouldn’t take it that I was morbid, but thankfully they fully understood what I was saying.  It’s not a bad thing to give at least a few passing thoughts about the end of the line here on this planet.  I know the important thing is to prepare for the next life after this one, but not dwell on it too much.

That quick conversation with the co-workers of mine brought another thought to me.  Regrets.  I know that’s a big word and people have even inked “No Ragrets” on their bodies and many a song have been written about not living wondering what could have been, etc., but if I’m being honest with myself, I have to say that not only do I have general regrets, but I regret the things that I think I could have achieved in my life through no fault of my own or my family.  Let me explain.  As some of you may know, I am a HUGE fan of NASCAR, and I enjoy other forms of racing as well, but for me stock car racing is where it’s at.  With that said, every time I’ve been in the informal positions of racing, I’ve always dominated it.  My hand and foot coordination has always been on point and as my pops and sister can attest and I’ve always been a natural driver.  Sadly, west Texas isn’t the most ideal place to get a racing career off the ground.  The way I understand it anyway is that most of the drivers that are climbing up the ranks of NASCAR have invested upwards of $200,000 to just have the chance at making it.  I know my mom (rest in peace) and dad love me and would do anything for me (within reason), but I wouldn’t allow them to find ways to help me get that insane amount of money together to chase a dream.  That’s just crazy.

Another dream that comes to mind is what is still a delusion of grandeur of sorts.  I think if I had the means and the effort put forth back in the day, I think I would have made it in the music business and made a career of it.  Don’t get me wrong, some mini versions of these dreams have come to pass.  In the two bands I’ve been in, I’ve played for crowds in the hundreds (yay me, right?), I’ve played mostly all the genres of music I’ve enjoyed sans jazz and hard rock/heavy metal, and I’ve recorded two albums to date.  That’s pretty good, I’d like to think!  BUT, there’s always that dream of being discovered, signed to a major label contract, and going on tour playing 20,000 seat arenas, and writing and recording music the way I’d want to with all the time needed in the studio to make my vision a reality.  Who knows, maybe it could happen.  Getting back out there and gigging at different places and continuing to write music needs to happen first.  Heh.

Point is, I do think of these “what if” scenarios often.  Well, maybe often is not the right word because it’s not like I live in the past questioning every step I’ve taken, but there are those occasional thoughts of “Damn.  I think I’m pretty good at ____.  I should have pursued that in my youth.  *sigh* Oh well.”  Things, in the end, are meant to happen the way they happen.  I’m a firm believer in God’s plan.  He knows what’s up.  I’m at where I am in the entirety of my life with reason and purpose that He knows.  It’s not my place to question it.

All Hallows Eve

I’ve been feeling like I need to put something out on Front Street.  What I’m going to talk about in this post may very well upset some people who read it and for that I apologize in advance, as these are merely my views and opinions on the matter, but I feel that I need to let them out or else they are just going to keep eating away at me.

So, as I write this out now it’s the eve of all hallows eve.  This past weekend was the weekend for Halloween parties to go down where people dress up in their best, worst, scariest, or skimpiest to have a good time boozing it out with like-minded individuals.  Cool for them, right?  But the question I have started to ask myself as I’ve continued on my journey of faith is “Why has the bastardization of Catholic feast days and holy days of obligation continued and even gotten worse as time has passed?”  I know, I know, you’re probably reading this and are saying something along the lines of “STFU YOU IDIOT!!!!!”  But, hang out.  This is what I mean.  What are three of the biggest non-holiday celebration days here in the U.S.?  Valentine’s Days, St. Patrick’s Day, and Halloween right?  Some would argue others, but those 3 are pretty big days here to celebrate for one reason or another.  Thing is for the secularized world, Valentine’s Day is a day where you have to get hearts, roses, chocolates, a card, some stuffed animals or whatnot, and go to a restaurant and wait in a long line with the rest of the people there either trying to impress their potential significant other, or go with the flow with their significant other/spouse (heck sometimes both at separate times on the same night!).  Little do people know or more than likely care that it’s a Catholic feast day venerating a saint.  Granted, St. Valentine and his history are a bit cloudy, it’s still clear that it is a Catholic feast day of a saint and he is the patron saint of love, marriages, etc.  Of course this has been twisted around by culture over the years to what we get now.

Same goes for St. Patrick’s Day.  People know it now as a day to dress up in green, wear shamrocks, claim to be Irish, and go out and party and get drunk on green dyed beers and/or other cocktails with a large swath of people.  What it really is, however, is a Catholic feast day venerating the patron saint of Ireland who converted nearly the entire country to Christianity.  How it came to what it is now is a long and wild story, I’m sure, but it just bothers me slightly that these two big “holidays” that are celebrated here are done now for all the wrong reasons.

The same goes for Halloween.  This one is just as bothersome to me as the previous two because Halloween came out of the day of anticipation for All Saints Day and had nothing to do with candy, booze, immodest attire, and partying under the veils of black and orange lights like it’s devolved into now.

I know this blog is coming across as a “come to Jesus”/”take a knee” moment, but I’m not really trying to go for that at all.  What I’m saying in the context of referencing my points is that ever since I started going to Traditional Latin Mass at my local FSSP apostolate, Immaculate Conception Church, I have found that I have learned as much or even more about my faith than I did in the previous 34 or so years before FSSP was invited here by our bishop.  Before this, I had attended 5 Masses in the Extraordinary Form all during a Lenten Mission and was immediately drawn to it.  Thanks to my very good friend Michael, who is in the know in matters of the faith here locally, he got word of FSSP giving us a one-night only Mass at one of the seminaries here in town to gauge interest, both by FSSP and our bishop.  Needless to say, we overflowed the chapel where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered and the bishop invited them to stay.  Anyway, my first Mass at Immaculate Conception was another holy day of obligation, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is on December 8th (the day before my birthday!).  The only reason I hadn’t gone sooner is because I was unaware that FSSP had been given the parish already as of that previous August.

That quick backstory about me leads me to my point.  I didn’t know my faith enough.  I wasn’t involved in the own salvation of my soul!  Did I know holy days of obligation? Did I know the history behind the aforementioned feast days?  Could I defend my faith against people who would try to convert me to protestantism (it almost worked once!), or just as bad, trash talk my faith to me expecting a defense?  Well… no, not really.  I wasn’t engaged too much.  Confessions started out as something I rarely did as a kid to something I did even less of in my teenage years.  I wasn’t even aware of what constituted a mortal sin therefore falling out of the state of grace.  It’s no surprise to me that a lot of people I grew up with going to catechism class, and confirmation class either turned protestant (a general term for anything else other than Catholic), or atheist.  Same goes with family and friends.  We weren’t being taught our faith.  That problem still goes on today with some of the things I see happening at Novus Ordo parishes (i.e. the behavior and dress… or lack thereof… of the laity, and even worse, things like yoga classes being offered at parishes!)  I feel like I’m the only one around of my peers that acknowledges the holy days of obligation, and the great feast days that people have twisted with time to where I feel like an outcast.  No matter though.  My goal here is to get myself ready at any moment to defend my faith, with my life if necessary, and to aspire to if not outright live a life of a saint and by God’s grace make it to heaven when I die.  I’m learning more and more each passing day about my faith.  It’s an ever growing, ever evolving thing in my life and for that I am grateful.

WHEW!  Well, with all that said I circle back to the timing of this blog post, Halloween.  I’m finding more and more each year that I really don’t care for it.  Bless the people’s hearts that do, as it’s a pretty intense thing for a lot of people, but ever since my late teen years and even more so now the past 3 years or so, the last day of October into the first two days of November have come to mean a completely different and deeply spiritual thing to me that does not involve ghosts (well, only one, the Holy Ghost), goblins, vampires, witches, the undead, naughty nurses/law enforcement officers, etc. It involves preparing for, first, the celebration of all of the canonized saints in heaven on November 1st, then the praying for all of the souls that have passed on on November 2nd.  I appreciate the invites to parties and I’m all for cosplay and stuff, but doing it around holy days of obligation and/or reverence has never really been my thing and even less now.