Picking up the Sword Again

After I said good night to my mother, she asked me if I still prayed the Rosary, to which I responded that I hadn’t due to my mind wandering to less than Holy places during the Rosary, and that the regular prayer is more intimate and helpful to me. But she suggested that I take it up again because it’s not about me, but it’s because God wants us to.

In my prayers, I’ve always asked to be a good man in God’s eyes, and when I wasn’t, to guide me back to being one through whatever means. And in one way or another, God provides me with an opportunity, sometimes, I’m wise enough to see it, other times, I’m not.

So after this hiatus, I think I will pray the Rosary tonight, I do need to find ways to follow Christ and become closer to Him. If I can just focus on that, and use all of my skills to maintain that focus, I should be able to not wonder into sinful things.

I’ve always liked the Rosary, and even though I have a necklace version of it, I have always maintained the idea that it’s a tool, not a piece of jewelry, utilized for strength, courage, need, balance, and overall faith-building… Heh, all of the things that I’d like present in my own life.

If I really think about it, I have a lot of things to pray for, in nearly all areas and levels in my life, and yet, at the same time, I would feel somewhat guilty praying for myself. I’m not praying for anything petty, like money or fame, I’ve prayed for forgiveness, strength, courage, wisdom, and not just for me, but for my family and friends as well.

Maybe tonight, this is what I should pray for: Clarity. The clarity to see my faults and to fix them, not just for my sake, but so that I can be the best man that I can be.

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A Heart to Heart with Myself

Heh, I got into another argument with Siry yesterday, and the question my sister asked me afterwards was, “How can you let a 10 year-old get under your skin?” The exhaustion throughout was driving all of us to the point of frustration, so naturally a heart-to-heart talk arose. My Sister, my Bro-in-Law, Greggy, and myself were all trying to find out what it was, that was causing my short fuse, my lack of patience and what not.

After about 3-4 hours of conversation, we wound up at the discovery that I need to learn to let go and let God guide me.

Now this is something that resonated with me… Well, more like slapped me in the face.

“To let go” and have God guide my every step, to disregard all of my plans (what little plans I had) and to just live? All my years of praying and volunteering, thinking that this is what would bring me closer to God and that… isn’t it.

That is to say, that these aren’t good things, because helping others is always a good thing, however, the question here is internal, it’s spiritual. My prayers were always ritualistic, I prayed the Rosary every night, that would be perfect if my mind didn’t wonder onto random things during the prayers, which would make the words I spoke empty. So it’s not like praying a Rosary was a bad thing, but it wasn’t the best thing for me either. I was wondering which was more significant, a normal prayer or a Rosary? And as it turns out, a heartfelt prayer, however brief, was far greater than an empty Rosary, as my words were genuine and not simply straight from rote memory.

But my answer lies elsewhere. I’m not letting God in the right way. There’s a part of me that’s hesitating as to what to do, and my logical mind isn’t helping either. I would think “to let go” would be to relax muscles or to take deep breaths, but that’s only the physical part, I need to let God take over my life and my decisions, but why am I having such a hard time trying to do so? I’ve looked up several ways to let God into my life, but I’ve yet to come up with a solution for me.

I’m going to take the next couple of days to reflect and find out exactly where I am with God, for I owe him everything.

The Source of My Wrath

I was praying the Rosary last night, and various scenarios came across my mind, involving someone close coming to me asking me for advice for their problems, and they’re frustrated, and acting in their usual manners, but something occurred that troubled me. You see, it’s natural for them to be frustrated and angry and ignorant to the advice given to them, but in each scenario, my voice was raised, my words became sharp, and I became angry, I snapped at whoever came to me.

And it was most troubling…

I remember just a few years ago, I was perfectly fine when facing a frustrating person, I was calm and collected. So why are my thoughts full of anger right now?

I found a prayer card we printed when my Father died, it was the St. Francis of Assisi prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

My father always liked St. Francis more than the other saints, so we chose this prayer. So when I read it again after sometime, the very first line echoed with me, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace” Peace. Not wrath, not anger, not frustration, peace.

So, the question rises again: Why am I so angry?

Am I just around angry people? or is it something more? Granted, I suffered a rather serious defeat with a bad MCAT score, so my path to Med school, is delayed a bit. And I’m well aware that there are plenty of people younger than me who have already achieved what I want, and whatnot. Basically, I do have a lot to be frustrated about, but what’s concerning to me, is that I am frustrated about it. Usually, I hold no frustrations in my mind, nor in my heart.

So how did this happen?

I guess, my mind is looking for something, I don’t know exactly what, but it’s obviously something important, to help balance me out. Perhaps it’s interaction, before, I had many people to interact with people which different energy, and it was refreshing, now that I’m done with school, my interactions with said people is now almost non-existent, so all the people that I have left to interact with, aren’t people I’d normally interact with simply because I know their history, and their mannerisms, but now I have no choice, because I have no reason and often times no choice to leave the house.

Sigh…

Regardless of the reasons, if I’m angry here, who’s the say I won’t be angry when facing the patients, the very people I’m going to swore to protect. I need to gain better control over my thoughts, and find reasons to not be swayed by the frustrations of others. It’s all in the Head, as the old saying goes. If I simply stick to what I know is true, and what I know I’m supposed to be doing, the Right thing, so to speak, then regardless of how my grant my internal struggle is, I’ll find the Will power to contain it, until I can find a proper vent.

Shield and Sword

Last Sunday, I was initiated into the Knights of Columbus, for particular reasons, I cannot disclose exactly how the ceremony went and what not, but I thought it was pretty cool! And the other Knights, who were older men, were glad that I joined their ranks. In the end, I got a Pin and a Rosary, heh, a fifth Rosary. But What they told me was rather interesting, they said, if I remembered correctly, that the Rosary is our Shield and the Prayers are our Sword, against Evil.
Shield and Sword… Hmmm…

Shield… Defense, Defend, Structure, Support, Pillar, Strength, Fortitude, Security, Secure, Home, Castle, Family.

Sword… Attack, Advance, Forward, Formation, Form, Skill, Discipline, Master, Teacher, Friend, Honor, Brother,  Brotherhood.

Shield and Sword. An object of defense, and an object of offense, or rather, protection and advancement, To protect yourself against the evils of this world, while advancing in it all the while. This reminds me of the passage, “Be not overcome of Evil but overcome Evil with Good” Romans 12:21, I’m reminded of this because I think it reflects it, but not exactly perfectly, the Shield and Sword, at least not without some sort of explanation.

To not “be overcame with Evil”, one must protect oneself externally and internally: Externally, by staying fit, eating right, not smoking or drinking, excessively, and so on; maintaining the body in it’s optimum state and all of the actions tied to it, therein. Internally, is where the Mind and the Soul lie. Watching the thoughts and emotions, trying to make sure that there is a good sense of morality and ethics, of solid belief, be they religious or otherwise. This is how you defend yourself, how you shield yourself from being overcome by Evil. By making sure your Shield: what you stand for, what makes you happy, smile, feel safe, stay strong and focused, is ready to withstand everything that’s going to make you question your beliefs, second-guess yourself, hurt or alter your bonds with those that you care about, all the while, staying flexible enough to adapt to new situations.

To “overcome Evil with Good” is far harder to accomplish. Because the Evils of this world have begun their barrage against you, the moment you’re aware of it, and most definitely when you’re not. To fight back is to make particular decisions in circumstances of varying degrees of difficulty from, “Pfft, this is easy.” to “So what do I cut off first? My arm or my leg?” To fight back the Evils, there are several Swords to use…. errr, methods:

1) Mirror Sword: By being the example for others to see, using your actions and words as a means of reflecting yourself against the Evils, also like a Spiked Shield, what you stand for and represent, is shown by your personal choices.

2) Soldier Sword: By joining a cause, or an organization, becoming a part of it, and using their morals and beliefs to do good in this world. Often times, those who excel at this, are recognized and often times honored, and their personal beliefs reflect that of the cause/organization, but it’s ultimately who they represent that is benefited from their actions.

3) Crusader Sword: Much like a Mirror Sword, one is using personal stances to advance in this world, but the wielder of the Crusader Sword, goes further and above and beyond than what is asked of him/her. The wielder can be anyone from the mother who raises 2 kids to become successful in life, all without being able to read to someone who has done the world a great service by finding the cure for an illness that plagues the world.

This is all I can come up with at the moment, but still, each of us uses one or more of these swords and methods to ward off Evil. However it’s sad to say, that most times people just find balance between just enough Evil and just enough Good in their lives, “A little evil to do some good” so to speak. And I often think that such a thing would wind up leaving regrets, because the ‘good’ is no longer pure, it’s tainted, acquired through less-than-reputable means, and this will eventually lead to the kind of ‘good’ that’s represented in ‘Too much of a good thing, is a bad thing.’

So now all that’s left is to decide and answer how strong is my Shield and what Sword am I using to advance with? Am I even advancing at all against the Evils of this world? Evil comes in many forms and has many weapons at it’s disposal, some of them can even look like a good thing to this world, but as I have learned long ago, the Devil’s greatest form isn’t red with horns, no, it’s the form of the most beautiful angel, with a voice like silk.

So ultimately…

“Each Man stands in the Light of his own Sword, ready to do what a Hero can.” – Elizabeth Barret Browning.

Choose Your Weapon

The Fourth Rosary

After my Father had passed, my Mother’s friends came by one day and handed us a brown paper bag. In it, were containers of rosary-necklaces, there was many and all of them were one of 3 different styles and sizes. My mother showed me the contents of the bag and spread out the Rosaries allowing me to see each of them in detail.

“Take whatever you want.” She says to me. and I reached down and grabbed a single container, and added to my collection of Rosaries. This is what I’ve chosen:

Rosary for my Father

To this day, in my possession, I have a total of four Rosaries that I pray with:

  1. The large dark colored Rosary, my first Rosary ever, given to me by a friend when I was in my Youth Group, I pray with this Rosary, everyday.
  2. The Wooden Rosary, given to me by another friend some time after the first, while I was still in my Youth Group. I was told it was made by Nuns in Jerusalem, I pray with it every Sunday.
  3. The small Mini-Rosary, with clear blue-green beads, given to me by my Hermanita. I pray with it, whenever I’m away from home, yet I carry it with me everywhere I go.
  4. And finally, I have the White and Silver Rosary Necklace, as seen above, I only pray with this on September 3rd and November 10th, the days of my Father’s Death and Birth, respectively.

Faith. My Father was always certain about faith, He always made sure we went to the Mass every week, and usually we go on Saturdays (which make people scratch their heads, oddly enough) yet if we were preoccupied on Saturday, then he’d make sure we go on Sundays, and in extreme cases, we’d watch the Mass on TV. We always prayed before eating as well as whenever we go on the Freeway or on long journeys, we’d pray for everyone in a small prayer.

And we’d always do the little Catholic rituals that was tied with our heritage, Christmas time would have us carrying the Baby Jesus around the house, while singing him to sleep, obviously saying grace before the Holiday dinners.

And from him, I’ve learned to maintain a solid foundation of Faith. Although my Faith is mainly credited to my Mother, I saw my Father live his life in doing what he thinks is right under the eyes of God. Although I never saw him pray without the family present, I saw traces of what religious activities he’s done when alone. During the times when he had to spend 2-3 days at work, He had a CD player, and the only CD’s he had in the van was the audio Bible, there was a magnetic lil crucifix on his dashboard, and he always wore a Scapular underneath his shirt. In his wallet there was various religious objects such as saints medals and crucifixes.

I never had a religious conversation with my father, yet from him, I saw that one’s religion was a personal path. Although the Gospel should be preached wherever one goes in life, the bond between one and God was always private, and only for the parties involved, never a show to be seen by others. I remember there’s a passage that says, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” – Matthew 6:6.

I realize now that my Father embodied that passage. And it’s really true, to the extent when it was only on rare occasions that I ever saw him say a prayer either before going to work, or before leaving to go somewhere. Granted one can share one’s faith with others, yet, it’s your faith, your ties with God, that will always remain. Everyone has to stand before God and be judged on the life they have lived, there will be no one else standing beside them, no space between Judge and the Judged.

I suppose I developed that from him, however that’s a bit hard to argue since I’ve been praying in solitude sometime before I saw him pray in solitude. Then again, as his son, ideals and mannerisms can be passed down genetically.

In either case, I’m glad to say that my Father was a good Catholic man, and as such, it gives me great relief to know where we all go whenever we’re good on this mortal coil. I will pray for him.

“It is your turn to save the world”

I wrote this on a UNICEF Post-it at 0113 hours this morning, after my rosary, in the dark, right before I went to sleep.

Before I wrote this, I was in the middle of my rosary, thinking about my purpose. What I intend to do with all of the responsibilities and ‘powers’ of being a doctor, and how exactly I’m going to do it. I’ve always planned to become an asset for UNICEF, by donating as much Time, Energy, and Money as possible… Yet, I cannot see a plan forming between paying for Loans and other things, Saving money, and making regular activities for UNICEF, all while diving into helping others as much as I can via Giuseppe Moscatii, by inviting those who have nothing to pay with, into my own home. So then I remembered the KoC, and I wondered how they do charities, and would they be able to allow me to perform charities of my own, or at least help me in these manners. And as the rosary kept going, I remembered inspiring quotes from XKCD, a rather fascinating web comic, and one that resonated with me was, “We’re grown-ups, and it’s our turn to decide what that means.” Although the comic was written some time ago and was funny as a whole, those words stayed with me, and started to blend with those feelings of charity that were floating above my head.

And soon, I started to imagine myself in an interview, faced with the question of, “Why do you want to become a doctor?” Granted everyone wants to help people, but what makes YOU (or me, rather) so different? and why take the path of a doctor? You (Me) can help so many others through other means, like Fireman, Police, Nurse, etc. Why be a doctor?

Brutal questions, to say the least, but I started forming my answer…

… But something’s wrong… It’s broken up, bits and pieces… It’s… incomplete. This is what I have so far.

I want to become a doctor, because I want to be able to help people, not just in this hospital, but throughout the world… My desires to help others stem from my own background, when I was one of them, I was on the other side of this interaction, and because I still have that experience I can provide the best services to everyone… I’ve suffered the pain of loss, so I do not have grandeur dreams of being able to save everyone who crosses my path, yet I will try to help as many people as possible… Because I want to be someone who can be an example to all of the people, and with the authority of a doctor I can help people… It’s my turn now to decide how I am going to do this…

…And that’s all I got. That’s pretty discouraging, seeing that the fact that I’ve more than enough experiences to inspire me to pursue this to the bitter end, yet, my answer is still incomplete, I’m still missing something. And as I approach the end of the rosary, all these thoughts and reflections start blending together, and eventually, I came up with this:

IT IS YOUR
TURN TO
SAVE THE
WORLD

… ‘Save the world’? Heh, who am I to save anything? But that’s the problem, isn’t it? I’ve always cut myself too short. I have these desires, this heart that wants to help people, the experiences that help me form who I am, I have no dreams of prestige nor of wealth nor of infamy. I just want to help. I want to be a good man, I want to embody the song ‘Simple Man’ by Lynard Skynard. I want to see the world and help people along the way, I want this world to be a better place leaving it than coming into it.

I’ll write more about this next time. For now, I need to sleep.