Friday, September 7, 2012
When I was 18, I sliced my right index finger open while cleaning the meat slicer at my dad's restaurant, the Madison Diner, the best restaurant this side of the Pacific.
My first thought was, "Will I ever be able to play guitar the same again?"
My dad half-led/half-dragged me to the van, put my seat-belt on because my hands were busy holding a rag on my finger, and drove me to Jewish hospital. He kept telling me to put pressure on it the whole ride, but didn't hesitate to remind me, "You'll never do that again."
While in the hospital, I was still distressed over the possible loss of my ability to play guitar. But my dad reminded me, "We've all done it. I've done it, your Gido's done it, your uncles have done it...it'll heal."
This June, I celebrated the first-year anniversary since the incident. It's been a crazy year since then.
I enrolled in a seminary (not just any seminar, Bishop Simon Brute College Seminary) around that time, and left for that seminary in the fall. I left behind many people that I loved.
While there, I began to discern whether priesthood or marriage was God's call for me in life. However, I also suffered from what I believed to be major homesickness.
I had left behind every one that I loved. I left my friends, my family, my way of life. I didn't even play guitar very often any more. Something in me was changing. I was growing more and more afraid. Of failing. Of dying. Of growing old and having nothing to show for it.
And then it happened.
I came home for Christmas break, and I began to believe that I would not be going back to seminary. What ensued was a series of talks between my father and I about my life decisions and my choice to live. I told him that I didn't think I physically had the strength to go back and endure another semester. I told him I didn't think I could make it that long.
He told me I didn't have to. I just had to make it the next day.
When mountain climbers become so exhausted and tired that they feel like they can't make it to the top, they find a rock or a crevase and they tell themselves, "I can make it to that rock." Then, when they reach that rock, they tell themselves, "I can make it to that next rock." And rock by rock, they make it to the top.
After telling me this, my dad pointed to the signs on the highway where we were driving. "See, you can just say, 'I'll make it to that next exit sign.' And then when you reach it, you can point to the next sign and say, 'I'll make it to that next sign.' Then when you reach where you were trying to go, you'll know that you made it."
See, that's what manhood's about. It's not about climbing mountains. It's about reaching the next rock.
Since leaving the seminary in January, I have had many trials. I had to experience life working full-time in the very same restaurant that nearly took my finger. I had to endure the loss of some of the people closest to me. I've had to watch as my friends left for college, while I stayed behind. But God blessed me with a friend who has become even more than that to me now. A friend I had once hurt. But this friend forgave me, and with that forgiveness came great love.
This friend I believe to be a lifelong companion, some one to have and hold and forgive and care for in the same way that she has loved, forgiven, and cared for me.
And this spring, I wrote that girl a song. On my guitar. With all ten fingers.
I have healed from my wounds. And I'll never do that again.
I do not know if this is God's path for me now. I do not know if this is the end I will meet. I do not know if I can reach the mountain top.
But I do know that I can make it to that rock.
I do know that I can play guitar with my right index finger. (I'm typing with it now.)
I do know that I can be a man like my father is.
And I want to be.
I believe God is calling me to this life.
I love my father very much.
I love my girlfriend very much.
And I love my life very, very much.
Friday, April 6, 2012
The second thing I would like to discuss is one that I was taught in Freshman year of highschool.
In the Gospel of Matthew, it is written: "About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?") (Matthew 27:46)
Is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and God Himself, the mighty Prince of Peace and King of Heaven and Earth, really just a man? Just a man who is crying out in pain to His Father in frustration and agony?
That's honestly what I used to think. And then I saw this:
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.[b]
It is the beginning of the 22nd Psalm. Jesus is not just crying out to His Father, but to His people. He is reminding the Jewish people of the passage with which they are all, as good and faithful Jews, familiar. Within the Psalm, this is also said:
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
Christ is telling His people that their prayers have been answered, and that He is their salvation.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the LORD,” they say,
“let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
It is obvious that they have mocked and despised the Christ. But remember specifically the words of the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders:
“He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of
Their words are prophesied by David in the psalm.
The psalm goes on to describe many great evils. One of these sections talks about dryness of mouth which, when seen in the light of Jesus’ words from the cross “I’m thirsty,” is revealed to be, in no way, coincidental. As we continue to read the psalm, we arrive at this point:
16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
Recall the scene in Matthew:
When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Matthew 27:35)
Again, the psalm is prophetic of Christ’s crucifixion.
Matthew, who wrote his Gospel with the Jewish people as his audience, knew to highlight the elements of the prophetic psalm that were fulfilled in Christ’s crucifixion. There are no coincidences in the Scriptures.
The psalm is a truly beautiful one, and I encourage you to read the entire thing. But here is just a snippet of the ending:
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you[f] I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
Finally, I would just like to end with an interesting tidbit of information that is unique to this year and something I found on my very own.
In Catholic tradition, the number 8 is symbolic of resurrection and renewal.
Easter falls this year on April 8.
God Bless you all this Holy Week!
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Something that I recently fell upon while reading Pope Benedict XVI's book, "Jesus of Nazareth: Volume 1" is the historical value of the Biblical figure Barabbas. In all of the Gospels, Barabbas appears during the trial of Jesus Christ when Pontius Pilate allows the Jewish crowd to select one prisoner to set free. They choose Barabbas, and Christ is sent to be crucified. What most people don't realize is that Barabbas was not just some common thief or troublemaker.
Friday, March 30, 2012
Headlining the rally was Richard Dawkins, a renowned British anti-religious advocate. The following paragraph is a part of his speech to a reported 20,000 people on the National Mall (significantly around 180,000 people less than are present for the March for Life, a significantly less publicized national event.)
“Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated, and need to be challenged – and if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”
Later, he told the crowd to ask a religious person to express their faith, saying:
“For example, if they say they're Catholic: Do you really believe, that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?”
“Mock them,” he told the crowd. “Ridicule them! In public!”
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The first one, chronologically, came when I was eight or nine years old and fell off a cliff I was climbing in a creek. Given, I was only about twelve feet off the ground, but I feel directly on my knee, splitting the skin in two places on a jagged rock.