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.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Thursday, March 8, 2012
If only more men heard these words from their fathers. Or from their Father.
All men can learn a lesson from Simba. A true man, a true king, is only as much a man, as much a king, as he is ready to be a man for the right reasons. For love of people, for love of family, and for love of God.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
True love is the young girl who is saving every part of herself, even her first kiss, for the husband she already loves, the husband she loves before marriage.
True love is the woman who underwent the same circumstances as the woman mentioned above but survived, bearing a child who would go onto become a devout priest and inspire hundreds to the message of Christ, myself included.
True love is the Victoria's Secret model who quit lingerie modeling in order to better honor her Christian faith, her husband, and her body, blessed by God. (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2012/02/victorias-secret-model-quits-to-reserve-body-for-my-husband/ )
True love is another woman who walked out on a modeling job after realizing that her body was sacred, and worth honoring, not degrading, and now speaks to thousands of women a year in order to spread the message of purity. (http://www.catholic.com/profiles/leah-darrow)
True love is the hundreds of young women, some no older than ten years old, who gave their lives rather than their virginity in order to follow the message of Jesus Christ during the early Roman persecution of Catholics. (St. Agnes, St. Lucy, St. Ursula, St. Cecilia, etc., etc.)
True love is the virtuous men around the world who fight off the temptation to use and degrade women, whether actually or through pornography, and honor them instead in every way.
True love is standing by a woman even after she has become pregnant and supporting her to bear the child.
True love is any one who is willing to die for any one.
True love is the message of a man who was both willing and able to die for all of humanity and the sins of humanity, and to rise again on Easter Sunday to open the Gates of Heaven to us all.
46 Days until the celebration of Christ's Resurrection from the dead and the salvation of all mankind.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
There is no such thing as peace on Earth.It is an oxymoron.Philosophically speaking, at least, there is no possible peace on Earth. It is only as possible as immortality. And ironically enough, it is only possible through immortality.Let me explain:I am not against peace on Earth. In fact, I am very much so an advocate for peace on Earth. And I support organizations and administrations that endorse peace. The world is already a place filled with chaos; can you imagine if no one tried to help it? But what is peace? And at what cost are willing to attain it?As a Christian, I believe in an immortal soul that lives on after death in Heaven. I believe that Heaven is a state of being in which true Peace is finally attained. And I do not believe that peace on Earth is more important than Peace in Heaven.I am so tired of hearing how many people approach a controversial topic by making arguments based on "peace." The modern world defines peace as a world in which there is no war, there is no hatred, there is no illness, there is no hunger, there is no poverty; basically, a world in which no one has to suffer.What a terrible place to be! I would rather die than live in this world, but unfortunately, I wouldn't even be able to.I am not saying that I would rather see war, hatred, illness, hunger, poverty, and suffering. These are tragedies of the feeble broken human condition. They are a reality. And these tragedies will always exist. And I sincerely commend those who try to fight these tragedies. It is through their efforts that the suffering in the world is diminished. But not completely destroyed; never completely destroyed.Even worse, however, is the hypocrisy by which so many of these "peace-makers" approach their work. They tell us not to discriminate against any one different, but then they discriminate against those who don't share their beliefs. They claim that hatred is the ultimate evil, but they treat those who disagree with them with hatred.I have known specific "peace-makers" in our own nation who have told me that they are accepting of all religions and beliefs, and yet they won't accept Christianity because the religion has objective teachings, which are against their beliefs. Quite a conundrum, but a contradiction nonetheless. Others believe in total freedom of speech, but condemn those who speak out against them.This view is shallow. It is idealistic. I wish the world could be this way. And for a long time, I counted myself among these people. But I have learned that the world is not an idealistic one; it is broken. There is suffering and there is hatred.But with these, there is love.Suffering is necessary for love, and I would rather live in a world with both than a world with neither.These same "peace-makers" will declare that I only say this because I have never tasted war, hatred, hunger, poverty. And yet I am a lower-middle class, Catholic, Arab-American. And I may not have experienced a physical war of violence, but these same "peace-makers" war with me almost every day. My society condemns me for being Catholic. My government condemns me for being pro-life.But my family loves me. And my friends love me. And my Church loves me. My God loves me.That is all I need.I pray for these "peace-makers" every day. I hope they can bring true peace to this world and find true Peace in the next.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
My nation is dying.
Let me explain.
What is the
But strictly speaking, politically, the
1. Formed and held together by a Constitution.
2. The Constitution is interpreted by Federal Government.
3. The Federal Government is checked by the republic, the people, who give the representatives of government their power.
After the War for
The first ten amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. (The irony: I have just summarized a whole day's worth of history class in the American education system in one sentence.) And the very first...the very first...is this: (Note that this comes directly from the Constitution:)
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
There's your historical background.
What does this have to do with the death of the
The Federal Government has violated the Constitution to which we, the republic, the people, hold them accountable.
On January 23, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a statement requiring all medical personnel...all doctors...all hospitals...all medical care to provide contraceptives to female patients.
I have taken a specific portion of this document to analyze specifically.
"After evaluating comments, we have decided to add an additional element to the final rule. Nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law. Employers wishing to take advantage of the additional year must certify that they qualify for the delayed implementation. This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule. We intend to require employers that do not offer coverage of contraceptive services to provide notice to employees, which will also state that contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support. We will continue to work closely with religious groups during this transitional period to discuss their concerns."
What this says is that all religious institutions will be forced to comply with this new mandate by August 1, 2013.
We will have no choice.
This directly contradicts the very first amendment of the Constitution of the
But they won't.
The Obama Administration has supported the HHS and will continue to promote said mandate.
If this mandate is not overturned and religious freedom restored by August 1, 2013, the
Most Reverend Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr stated in a letter to the entire Archdiocese of Cincinnati that, “People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.” (see full letter here: http://www.stsusanna.org/Portals/0/Parish%20Office/hhs%20letter.pdf)
Dictionary.com defines a second-class citizen as “a person whose rights and opportunities are treated as less important than those of other people in the same society.” (emphasis added.)
People of faith will be made into second-class citizens if their rights to religious freedom are not observed.
We have to. We have to make that choice before that very same choice, the choice of the land of the free, is taken from us. Freedom of religion is dying. And if one amendment dies, they all die.
I love the
And unless we act now to overturn this law, then I will have no choice but to mourn its death.
But fortunately, I do have every choice to act against it, and I will not stand silently and watch my nation die. Not so long as the right to fight for my beliefs remains mine. And my rights come from God.
Friday, January 27, 2012
The following article is the first article ever to appear on the Above the Norm Revolution Blog that is written by a guest writer. I would just like to say that I am incredibly proud of this author, and I believe what she says has great weight and is definitely worth hearing.
With that, I introduce to you my beloved sister in Christ:
Nine brave characters volunteered for a suicide mission to destroy the Ring. Nine Nazgul chased them across Middle Earth. Nine West makes wonderful shoes. Nine years until the year 2021. And nine Justices currently serve on the Supreme Court, tasked with interpreting the Constitution of the United States, the highest law in the land. Nine unelected men and women appointed for life. Nine with the weight of responsibility resting heavily on their shoulders.
Now, let’s backtrack more than two hundred years. The year: 1776. The day: July 2nd. Our young country has been at war with Great Britain for more than a year now and our leaders have decided that it’s time to make our intentions clear. Obviously, since Mother England and her children are busy slaughtering each other, the time for a separation has come. So the thirteen colonies run away from home. Two days later, July 4th 1776, comes the announcement: “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.” (Yes, we are thinking of the same document; “the Declaration of Independence” is just our nickname for it. It would take Nicholas Cage way to long to say “I’m going to steal the Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.) Thirteen colonies became thirteen states, a small number soon to grow.
Most memorable among the many words of this timeless document are these: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” First graders memorize these words in English; high-schoolers sometimes memorize them in French; politicians yell them to frenzied crowds; and every American lives in the safe luxury provided by the nation this Unanimous Declaration presented to the world. Well, almost all lives.
Skip forward to the year 1787. The war ended with the baby nation victorious. However, the Articles of Confederation failed to hold the states together, causing them to look more like the thirteen colonies they had been. Our leaders called together the Philadelphia Convention, put their heads together, and emerged many months later with the Constitution of the United States. A fierce battle of Federalists, Anti-Federalists, and individual states ratification conventions ensued, finally ending in the ratification and signing of the Constitution in 1789.
In the years following, the Constitution was amended (beginning with our beloved Bill of Rights) as was the intent of its writers. The Fourteenth Amendment, in Section 1 says “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law,” reinforcing the motivational words of the Declaration.
So why am I telling you all this? Let me take you one more time jump forward: January 22, 1973: Roe vs. Wade. During the proceedings of the case, which lasted for three years, ancient practices, the Hippocratic Oath, English common law, English statutory law, American Law, and the American Medical Association were all consulted or discussed. Each had a different definition for when ‘life’ began, if they came up with any definition at all. “For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s attending physician...It is so ordered.” So began the legal slaughter of the innocents.
The reason Roe vs Wade was able to make such a statement, such an order, is because of two things. One, the Supreme Court (let me remind you who they are: nine unelected men and women serving for life) was allowed to effectually make laws by interpreting the Constitution. Two, because the Constitution was interpreted by the preconceptions of the justices instead of by original intent. The best way to know how our founding fathers wanted the Constitution to be interpreted is through documents they wrote: the Declaration of Independence is one of them.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our founding fathers were not by any means perfect men, but they knew, they told us, exactly when life started: the minute the Creator God creates it. If Roe vs Wade had been decided according to the original intent of our Constitution, according to the very values upon which America was built, imagine how different life would be today. Imagine how many more countrymen we would have, how many fewer broken women, broken marriages, broken lives would scatter these amber waves of grain. We know when life begins. And we’ve legalized ending it just months, weeks, days, or minutes later.
(Writer’s inspiration and education for this article goes to Michael Farris and his book Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens.)
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Look at the most popular musical stars of our time.
But I'm not going to make this post about how the media and society celebrate and promote binge drinking, drug use, sexual promiscuity, violence, materialism, and selfishness. (Though they do.)
I saw this on a friend's Facebook page, and decided to check it out. Basically, it's an article explaining in detail how Madonna has always offended the Catholic faith and many other teachings of Christian teaching as well. And now, she is going to perform for the Super Bowl half-time show. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you something I recently realized. The NFL would never choose a celebrity who has promoted anti-semitism, racism, sexism, or anti-homosexuality. So what makes it okay to select a celebrity who promotes anti-Catholicism?
We can do a lot more than we think. And even if we don't succeed, at least we've tried. Let's be heroes; let's fight the monsters.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
I grew so sick of hearing Tebow's name. But I couldn't tell why. Why was I still holding onto this grudge? Why did I continue to criticize him for not being a very good quarterback? My argument: if he didn't play so terribly in the beginning of the game, he wouldn't have to make all those comebacks.
The Greek word for honor is "timao," as in the Iliad where Achilles fights for his eternal "timae."