Forever a Clone

I'm just a clone, talking away while nobody listens

Archive for the tag “Death”

Faith and My Journey With It

Do you ever get those moments of wonderment and at the same time joyous clarity over things in your life?  I do from time to time.  One of those moments happened over this weekend for me.  I did something that I rarely do, which was take a day off from work.  I didn’t do it for just sitting on the couch nexflixing or anything, but I took it off for religious reasons.  During a homily sometime within the last couple of months, the district superior priest for FSSP was visiting our apostolate here in El Paso when he mentioned that when he was a parish priest, he’d tell his congregation to take Good Friday off and spend that day with God.  Sure, I had done it in the past at my old neighborhood Novus Ordo parish, but I had never done it in the 3 years that FSSP has been in the diocese.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t for lack of interest in attending Mass or anything like that, but I just always would come up with some sort of an excuse to myself that was work related to get myself to not take that time and give it to God.  Without any hesitation I did it this year, though.  Quite honestly, I’m very glad that I did.

I’m finding that each passing day I get closer and closer to God.  I’ve had quite the journey to get where I am and a funny thing about it is that I’m not even sure, aside from Divine Intervention, about just how I formed such a close connection with our Lord.  I say it’s funny because when I look at my family, at least from my father’s side, nobody is Catholic.  Sure, my grandparents are in name, but they don’t attend Mass.  My father, well… that’s a long complicated story that I don’t think he’d want me sharing, my uncle is protestant, and my sister is protestant as well.  All of us were raised in the one True Faith, but as per the norm these days, they have all strayed away from Holy Mother Church.  I’ll be honest, even I did for quite a while.  Even as far back as my early childhood after baptism and first holy communion, I wasn’t a regular attendee of Mass.  Mainly it was because we had no means of transportation to get to the local parishes to make it to Mass.  Sure, we could have walked when we me moved to El Paso when I was 11, but we never really did after the parish finally got their land and stopped holding Mass at the school over the wall from my house.  I did my two years of confirmation classes, but I’ll tell you right now that I don’t remember one bit of any of it.  I wasn’t engaged in my faith at all.  I’d even go as far to say that I was an atheist and even read a bit of Anton LaVey’s books that a friend of mine had.  I had no reason to be religious.  I type that now and cringe, but it was true back then.  I wasn’t evil, violent, or anything like that, but I was just a normal teenage guy wanting rebellion for rebellion’s sake.  It was stupid.  It was only after I had graduated high school that I decided to attend Mass for myself because I wanted to.  I’d always run into my first year confirmation teacher and her husband who are now some of my dearest friends in Christ…  More about them in a bit.  Anyway, I’d always see them at Mass because they’d either be singing in choir or would be leading in some ministry or another at the parish and I’d always felt at peace when I was around them, as if God was telling me to follow their lead.  Well, sure enough, my faith would come and go as I’d find more important things to do as a guy in his early 20s would and I’d make rare appearances at Mass.

Now, here’s where I dabbled in Protestantism.  When I was 20, my right knee blew out.  I tore my ACL and I had a buckle tear in my meniscus.  I was laid out unable to move my leg at all because my knee was locked up, so I spent the entire spring stuck downstairs sleeping on the pullout couch.  I got to see every minute of MTV Spring Break (which was still pretty cool back then), and I had a lot of time to just sit there with my leg immobilized and think, miss walking, and read.  One of the things that I read was this Christian book about coming back to Christ.  There was some sort of protestant “come to Jesus” thing at the end of it and it put me to tears.  I know what had happened to me was a wake up call from our Lord to get myself on the straight and narrow path that I just decided to dance all around.  I went with my sister to her place of worship and found myself immersed in the overwhelming charismatic love for Christ.  I was buying in.  Why wouldn’t I at that point, right?  I never really knew my faith so it had no defense against it.  So, there I was listening to these strongly vocalized sermons and I was giving them the benefit of the doubt until I heard about 10 too many Catholic bashings.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  That’s not what Jesus Christ and His church was about.  There’s no hatred about it OR Him, so I bailed out and went back to the church which He founded on the rock of Saint Peter and started my journey all over again.

My friends were happy to see me, and I even got involved in groups studying encyclicals and books of the Bible and started to attend Mass regularly.  All the while, I was still living a crazy life doing stupid things that I’m not proud of AT ALL, but I could never really see the consequences my actions were having.  Years past with a few wake up calls from Christ here and there, but the one HUGE wake up call I had was in February of 2008.  I did something very stupid, but was lucky to escape from it unscathed.  Well, physically unscathed at least.  But this event finally woke up dumb ass up and got me to embrace our Lord Jesus Christ completely.  I made it a point to go to confession at least monthly, and became even more involved in prayer groups with my friends there at the parish.  I became so involved that I was even able to convince my mom to go with me to Mass.  I’m so grateful that that happened in those short 4 months because my mom ended up passing away in early June of that same year.  I’ll always have that happy thought with me, that my mom saw me finally turn my life around and give it completely to Christ.

That brings me to one of the points I wanted to make and I thought about.  I know some people of know of a lot of stories about where people lose their faith because of the loss of a close loved one.  I had the complete opposite effect happen to me.  Yes, I cried my eyes out as I told my mom how much I loved her as she slowly transitioned from this earth to purgatory… and even typing that out brings me to tears now… and I cried and cried when we got back to the hotel we were at in Lubbock where she passed away that night and did the same thing when we got back home and I saw her bedroom.  Heck, I’m crying right now as I take myself back to those moments and type it out here, but never for one minute did my faith waver.  All I cared about was getting a priest over to her ASAP to give her the anointing of the sick and to give her absolution so that I’d be assured she would be safe in the life after this one.  Once I knew that was taken care of, I left the rest in God’s hands.  Let His will be done.  At her viewing/Rosary and at her funeral Mass I felt sad (of course), but at the same time a resolve to make sure that I remained close with God.  There was never even a question about whether or not my faith was going to go under any test.  If it ever did, I passed it with flying colors.

In the nearly 9 years since my mom has been gone, I have grown more and more attached to God.  Thanks to His grace, he brought the aforementioned FSSP to El Paso and thanks to a Lenten retreat the year before that, I was able to experience the Traditional Latin Mass beforehand.  Me being able to experience that the year before FSSP came here was thanks to those friends I was talking about earlier in the blog post.  This couple, who are my parents’ ages have pretty much become like secondary parents to me.  For sure, I’d say true Godparents.  If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have the strong faith I do now.  They have enlightened me to many a things in this beautiful church we have and because of them I have learned a great deal on my own.  With that said, I’ve found that the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (as it’s also called) and the Traditional Catholic lifestyle is what I’ve always needed in my life.  Everything about it is so moving.  There is reasoning, history, and biblical meaning behind every single thing.  2000 years of tradition will do that, I suppose.  Attending Mass at Immaculate Conception Church has also helped me grow in and actually learn my faith even more than I already did.  I’m nowhere near apologetics level, but at least I know why certain things are the way they are and I know why things are done and the reasoning behind them.  It’s so funny because a few of my friends from work ask me why we do things from time to time and because of that, I’ve heard this from a handful of people now (or a variant of it), “Have you ever thought of becoming a priest?  You are so smart and are so kind, peaceful, caring, and understanding.  I could totally see you as a priest.”  Sometimes that last part is omitted, which I should start following up jokingly “why do you say that?  Because I’m a single guy?!  Might as well join the priesthood because I’m not married?!”  hahaha!

All kidding aside, maybe these people have a point.  Maybe God is calling me to the priesthood.  Maybe my sometimes insane journey these past 36 years has lead me on a lifepath to be a great priest.  That’s not what He’s told me in my heart, though.  My heart tells me that I’m supposed to get married and raise children.  At this point, better late than never right?  Honestly, I’m not holding out much hope.  I think years carry baggage and inherently being my age with no kids and never been married is a real turn off, I’m thinking.  Or perhaps the opposite sex thinks that I’m some sort of philandering d-bag just looking to get what gets looked for these days, if you catch my meaning.  A few… err… a WHOLE MESS TON of bad apples really does spoil the whole darn bunch.

I should just shut up about things now, but close by saying that in short, I am in love with my faith, Jesus’ church, and specifically the way I practice it within the traditional Catholic lifestyle.  If I can recommend one thing that I wish everybody could experience, it would be experiencing the Easter Tridium Masses, the Christmastide Masses, and the Requiem Mass (that is offered with a couple of variances on All Souls Day).  They are beyond words to describe the beauty of them.  I’ll also add that I’m by no means perfect and I still have a very long way to go, but I think that I am well on my way on the path that God intended for me all along.  Good things do come to those who wait.

 

Here for the party

The past few weeks, for as troubling as some of it has been, have also reminded me about how every passing day of mine is better than the day before. Each day off that I get to relax and take time out to just reflect reminds me about just how good I have things.

I’ll try my best to explain. If I look back at my life, I can clearly remember how misguided I was during a lot of it. I was angry and bitter about a lot of things in my life. I had a pretty bad mood. That’s nothing like what I am now, but when I think back to it, all I do is shake my head at the disbelief over how bad of an attitude I had towards life. I still don’t even know why I was like that either. Maybe it was the young me trying to find out just who the hell I really am. That mixed in with crazy hormones was probably a bad mix.

Believe it or not, considering my current stance on life, there was a time in my life that I desperately wanted to fit in with the crowd. I wanted to be part of the cool people and all that garbage. When I realized that I would never really fit in with all of my oddities, naturally I got frustrated with that too. Why wasn’t I getting the girls? Why wasn’t I getting the attention I wanted? Sure, I was funny and have that eccentric charm, but there are a few simple truths that killed my chance at popularity. Looks, money, and the desire to attain either of those. I was who I was, and come to think about it I still am that. I’m always going to be that short, fat, moron who will always try to find the funny in almost any situation.

With that said, over the past few weeks, I’ve thought about just how much more comfortable I am getting in my own skin. I have been occasionally taking time out of my free time to just sit on my couch and allow my brain to wander around and just do it’s thing. One of the things that got me to laugh was just how much of a contradiction my home décor is. Then again, it is completely and totally me. I have a lot of my wall space dedicated to music, with a Mötley Crüe poster and large pin, 3 Metallica posters and banners (in the middle of a LOT of Metallica memorabilia around it), my autographed Steel Panther stuff, and my Beatles poster all up on my walls. Next to that is my ode to my Catholic faith and family there, then followed by sports memorabilia, empty bottles of booze that carry memories in them, with it’s own space, a large metal cross that my late mother purchased and had up in our home, and finally a real Ocean’s Eleven movie poster that satisfies both my love for movies and my love for Las Vegas. It’s pretty clear that you see what really matters to me by spending two minutes in my living room. I laugh all time when I think about it because I can only imagine people looking at me in disgust saying “Jesus doesn’t mix well with your Metallica – Sad But True poster, dude… OR those empty Cabo Wabo Tequila bottles either for that matter. To me, it does. Everything about me goes hand and hand. I don’t fit into a single mold (shhhh with your weight jokes!).

I’m happy. I’ll tell you that right now and tell you that I’m honest about that fact. I really am happy. I’m happy with the person that I am and happy with where the situations and decisions that were put in front of me have placed me in my life today. Just yesterday, as a matter of fact, I found myself just completely happy over the fact that I woke up at 7am, for some insane reason considering that I was up late at Nocturnal Adoration with my Adoration brothers at my old Catholic Parish until about midnight, but happy at the time time that I did wake up so early so that I could get to the things I needed to do, like get my truck washed, go grocery shopping, cleaning my house, and doing laundry. All of that just brought me such joy. Cleaning up, organizing, and yes even grocery shopping has always just brought me peace and happy thoughts.

I know, at this point you’re probably wondering what the hell is wrong with me. Don’t worry, me too reading that back to myself. It’s just part of who I am. I kept posting updates on my social media outlets about just how much of a good time I was having. I bet people thought I was kidding about it, but I was being honest.

I was happy doing the things that made me happy. Oddly enough, I was talking to a friend of mine just this morning who recently has been down in the dumps and feeling lonely, etc. I don’t know why, but I had realized that this person has relied on other people to make them happy. Nothing that they have ever done for themselves had made them happy. Does that make sense? It’s nothing new in my observations, to be honest. Just to generalize (and I know I’m probably wrong and don’t have any scientific data to back this up) I always find people talking about doing things to make themselves desirable for another person. I ask myself, “For what?! Why not try and do something for yourself! Make yourself happy! You wanna do something for somebody just to have that one moment of temporary happiness, or those few moments of happiness? For what??!! Just to not have it appreciated later, or even worse just be pushed over or left behind? Then what, dude?!” I told this person to be happy with themselves instead. Do things that made them happy. It’s a crazy idea, but it’s true.

I realized that I finally learned that lesson myself about 3 years ago. I stopped letting the actions of others or others’ opinions of me dictate my happiness. I finally took control of that. Only I will control what makes me happy. Somebody doesn’t want to talk to me? So what? Somebody thinks I’m an idiot? Good for them. I’m going to keep being the weird dude I’ve always been, except now I’m not going to apologize for it or try and change to appease somebody else and have that control my emotions or my self worth. I am who I am and do what I do for me. I gotta say that I feel pretty happy about that.

So, there it is, peeps. Be happy for yourselves! Do what makes you happy… that is unless it harms somebody else. That’s a dick move. Don’t be that person.

A Sight For Sore Eyes

Well, this weekend worked out very differently than I thought it would for a few different reasons.  The one instance this weekend that I want to share with you, however, was a moment that I had wanted/needed for 8 years.  I finally got the chance to attempt to tell my mom just how much I miss her.  Honestly, though, it’s not something that I actively think about.  No offense to people not like me, but I really don’t like to dwell on anything negative much.  Bad memories, hurtful things, horrible experiences, etc… I let them go.  Now, that’s not to say that I’ve forgotten about my mom… and I should actually backtrack a bit and mention that my mom passed away in June of 2008, but I don’t go around living my life feeling sorry for myself or anything like that.  I know my mom wouldn’t want me to be that much of a wuss.  I know she wanted me to pick myself up off the floor, dust off, and soldier on.  I wouldn’t be able to live that way anyway.  What’s the point of being all emo for months on end about a passing of somebody close to you?  Yes, I know it sucks.  I know just as much as you do, but we all have to find solace in the fact that God has a plan for all of us.  The people that pass away in your life before you fulfilled their plan.  It’s as simple as that.  If we’re ALL good, we will see these people close to us again.

Anyway, forgive me as I step off of my soapbox and get back to the point.  I had my first real moment in 8 years with my mom at about 3:40am on Saturday morning.  I was deep in sleep when all of a sudden I found myself standing in a kitchen with brown granite countertops and beige walls and as I stopped focusing on the polished steel refrigerator I noticed that I was talking with my mom.  She looked like the last time I saw her relatively healthy, which was around April or May of 2008.  I can’t tell you what we were talking about, but when I noticed that I was actually seeing and speaking to my mother, I stopped her right in the middle of her sentence, held her hand and pulled her in for a hug as I told her “Mom!  Wait!  I need to tell you that I miss you SO much!”  I saw her face so vividly and I couldn’t even get the words out before I broke down crying.  I woke up with my eyes just flooding with tears and I realized what had just happened and I could still feel my hand touching hers and I looked up at the crucifix that was over her casket that is now hanging on one of my bedroom walls and audibly said “Thank you for that moment, Jesus.  Thank you so much.” And I just broke down crying.  I knew it was her and I knew that I had gotten the chance to see her, touch her, and tell her that I miss her so much.

I cried and cried for a good half hour just thinking about how much my mother means to me and how fortunate I was to see her again.  8 years is a long time and so much has happened since then.  I say that but say at the same time that 8 years is nothing either.  Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday that we were making our new creations in the kitchen, laughing while listening to music.  She taught me so much, and I took it all for granted.  I’m slowly learning and remembering all the things she taught and tried to teach me even to this day.

So, I’ll end my tale that I’m typing out with tears in my eyes to say to all of you to cherish the time you have with your loved ones.  Never take the people you love for granted and let them know each chance you get that you love them.  I know there are people out in the world that hate to hear that, “I love you”, but tell them anyway (What’s wrong with those people, by the way?).  But when they go, don’t feel too bad either.  If you ask, God may grant you another visit like He did for me.  If we live by God’s example and by the words of His son, our Lord Jesus Christ, we are assured to see them again when we pass on too.

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