Thursday, October 5, 2017

Craving simplicity

For a time now I have felt bogged down by many things. Perhaps it is the constant bad news. Perhaps it is the feeling that I crave more simple things these days. Spending time with my kids. Walking in our neighborhood. Just reading a good book.

I have decided to take a break from all social media for a while. I need to be disconnected, or as disconnected as this world allows us. So check back every so often. Don't give up on me. I will be back in time to fill my craving to write. But for now, I crave simplicity and disconnect.

God bless you all. Pray for me.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The impotence Irma brings

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

As I sit here writing, my family is well on their way out of (Miami) Florida. Each in different directions, through different modes of transportation. After having lived the destruction of Andrew exactly 25 years ago, people are scared. It's that simple. People are scared!

Not everyone is able to leave. Not everyone wants to leave. Although the exodus is far greater than ever before and the possibility of Irma causing wide spread damage is highly probable, many are still preparing to batten down the hatches and wait for Irma's landing.  Of course, the news scares us. It keeps us hanging on to the edge of our seats, texting our families incessantly. Our minds whirl with the possibility of losing everything we have worked for. We sit and wait. We sit and turn off the television and just pray.

And that's all we can do at this point. There are probably no more flights leaving South Florida. Leaving by car is, at this point, is a huge risk since the highways are like parking lots and the gas is scarce and being gouged at every turn. So we sit and wait and pray!

There is nothing more debilitating than being completely impotent. The human person was made to fight, to survive. There is nothing like knowing all you can do is pray and stick it out to make us realize that God does in fact exist. I have heard, in the past 48 hours, people say they will pray; people, whom I have never heard say this before. This is God in action. This is the realization that all we have at this point, is prayer and hope.

Things will turn out. We pray for the storm to weaken and to go into the middle of the Gulf and dissolve. And just like Andrew, we will get through this. One thing that I clearly remember from Andrew is that not too long after the hurricane blew away homes, businesses and so much of what we called our community in South Florida, the churches were packed. People helped one another and the world, somehow, seemed like a better place. Despite the destruction, humanity seemed better off and somehow God was shining through. Houston is a shining example of this.

Let us sit and pray and let us remember that impotence is just a feeling and that real power lies in prayer!

Let us pray for all those who have suffered the loss of life or lively hood in the many natural disasters that have occurred throughout the world these past few weeks and those that we are still waiting to happen. And as today is the Nativity of our Blessed Mother, let us ask for a special intercession from Our Lady Star of the Sea!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Boredom, the key to a kids great summer

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Hi. Just a quick post here. I've been gone all summer but with a very valid reason. I have spent my whole summer with my kids. At first, I was terrified! What was I going to do with them? All. Summer. Long. But I survived and learned a few things along the way. The most important lesson? Let them get bored!

I've had my fair share of days of sitting my boys in front of a screen, in order to get a few things done. But overall I wanted to just let them play. At first, it wasn't easy. What with all the planned activities throughout the year, now there was nothing to do. Really. Nothing. There was just time to play. My only rule was, f it was sunny, they were outside. I was even inclined to lock the back door so that they wouldn't come back in.  It did cross my mind, several times.

What proceeded from this indoor embargo was that they discovered boredom. Heck, I even learned about boredom from a whole new perspective; as a mom. As I left them to their own volition, things got interesting rather quickly. That uncomfortable and irritating feeling of boredom set forth a lot of emotions. At first, it wasn't pretty. But I allowed them to seep in it; to bask in the glory of pre-creativity. I commanded they think outside the box. I waited and watched with bated breath. What ensued from that annoying feeling of just plain blah boredom was priceless.

It was only through boredom that my children began to come up with the most creative ways to pass the hot sticky days. The rocks lining the garden became stepping stones along a raging river. The garden shed became their fortress and the surrounding fence was their fortification that kept the neighboring enemy at bay. The branches were their swords and the garbage tops their shields. The swaying water from the sprinkler was the hot lava spraying from an active volcano. The bugs grew to giant proportions and were dangerous dinosaurs. I can go on for days, but I will spare you the ramblings of two boys who battle dinosaurs and turn into cheetahs at a moments notice.

Needless to say, our days ended with dirt encrusted nails, caked on sweat, scraped knees and loads of laundry. The darkened waters of their evening bath were proof enough of a satisfactory day of play. To boot, they slept better and stayed out of trouble, all because I allowed them to just get bored. This is the way children were meant to play. This is the way children should live their summers, as free from technology and scheduled activities as possible.

Nowadays boredom is frowned upon. If someone is bored, they are not being active or productive. Boredom is the antithesis of success and productivity. But is it? Boredom is actually the key to creativity. It unlocks the imagination and allows, especially children, to discover a world of pretend and adventure. Children need boredom. Once the fog of boredom lifts, the mind releases an onslaught of inspiration. It makes you wonder why we don't allow ourselves to get bored more often.

So for the few days left of summer, we will avoid screen time, postpone any playdates, cancel our errands and I'll just allow them to be bored. I won't interject. I won't fret. I will just wait, watch and witness how their creative juices begin to flow. Where ever their imagination takes them I will allow them to soar to new heights and discover new adventures. I'll let them get bored!

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hold on to the Barque of Peter

Photo by Stijn Swinnen on Unsplash

Scandals in and around the Church are not new. Since time immemorial there have been scandals within its walls and in the hearts of those who strive to follow her ways. So how do we deal with scandal? How do we process scandals involving clergy, Bishops, and Cardinals without becoming discouraged and well, scandalized?

First, let us look at the reason for our faith: Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ should be the only reason for our faith. Jesus Christ truly present in the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith and all else should only be secondary.

Jesus Christ was also surrounded by scandal in His time. As Jesus addressed the Pharisees he said: "You brood of vipers, how can you say good things when you are evil? For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil." Matthew 12:34-35 Nothing has changed. No new sin has been invented since the time of Jesus. Man's inclination to sin and concupiscence is the same today as it was yesterday.

Was Jesus scandalized? No. Was he merciful? Yes. Did he speak the truth? Yes. He addressed the issue and reprimanded those who, steeped in sin and arrogance, did not recognize their faults and led "the little one's astray". But to those who sought honest and genuine forgiveness, he showed great mercy. Jesus said about the sinful woman who bathed his feet with her tears, "So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven loves little.” Luke 7:47. For the root of sin is pride and so the only way to seek forgiveness for our sins is through humility.

What with the recent scandals in the Catholic Church I only see it one way: compassion must be shown for the downtrodden state of the sinner's soul; especially those steeped in addiction and vice. But to those who do not seek honest conversion in their life, little can be done for their souls. Pope Francis often addresses the clergy and hierarchy of the Church with words of reprimand. While to the little ones of his flock, those led astray, he addresses them with words of mercy. Why is it? "Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more." Luke 12: 48

Now is not the time to abandon the Church. Now is precisely the time to hold on tighter than ever. The scandals that the Church is facing, particularly the scandals from within her walls, those at the highest of levels, are the ones that should prove to us that the enemy is prowling close. The enemy is relentless, he goes for the helm of Peter's barque. The enemy only seeks to destroy that which goes against his kingdom of division and lies. The Church is a sign of hope despite the sinfulness of those who lead her, because it is Christ who is victorious and makes her holy! It is now, more than ever, that as lay people, we must pray for those who lead the Church.

Yes, we may be scandalized. Yes, we may be disappointed. We may even feel like giving up altogether but our faith is not in man, but in God. The enemy has infiltrated from within since the establishment of the Church. Judas was the first to cooperate with the enemy. We know the end of that story. But we are assured by Christ himself that the enemy has no hold over His Church. The enemy, even when trying to destroy from within, has already been defeated. He said to Peter: "...upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. " Matthew 16:18

Two thousand plus years have come and gone. Kingdoms, Empires, Kings, and Princess have all come and gone. Enemies have come and gone. The light has been cast upon the darkness that has operated from within her confines and yet the Church still stands. Our Lord is ever faithful because it is He who provides eternal life. It is He who made the promise, after asking us to observe all that He commanded us, "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20. It is He who is with us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; in the Eucharist; the sign of His everlasting love. Whether we receive Him through the hands of a holy or sinful priest, it is still Jesus! It is He who is the reason for our belief and our hope.

"Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame." 1 Peter 3:13-16

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Who is the Holy Spirit?

Now with Pentecost just around the corner, we can have a talk about the Holy Spirit. Just who is He?

The Holy Spirit is the love of the Father and the Son. The Father who begets (not made) the Son gives His eternal love to His Son and then the Son gives it back in return; this life-giving love that is eternally exchanged, that is the Holy Spirit. It is that simple. The Holy Spirit is the life and the love that comes forth from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son."

So how exactly does the Holy Spirit, the love of the Father and the Son, help us in our everyday? The Son, Jesus Christ, promised us a helper, the Paraclete. (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit is here to help us and to guide us towards the Son. We cannot even say Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3) without the aid of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit truly helps us to live the life that Jesus has called us to live so that ultimately we can dwell in heaven with the Father.

We receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism and this grace is deepened through the Sacrament of Confirmation. For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed."  (CCC 1285)

It is truly the Holy Spirit, like at the time of Pentecost, that comes to dwell in us. It is this love, this life that is from the Father and the Son, that comes to dwell in our hearts. It is only then that we can proclaim that Jesus is indeed Lord, furthermore, He gives us the courage to go out and proclaim to the all the nations this truth that transforms us from within.

It takes courage to tell others of Christ. With the many martyrs we are witnessing in today's age, we should but ask the Holy Spirit to give us this courage. It is by the Holy Spirit that we are brought to the realization that we are made new in Christ and so it is by the Holy Spirit that we can make known to others that they too can be made new in Christ.

This Pentecost, ask the Holy Spirit to come in your heart and renew your life. We receive Him at Baptism but we can continuously receive Him again and again and have Him renew us from within. Do not be afraid of the Holy Spirit for He is only love and life, sent from the Father through the Son.

More reading on the Holy Spirit? Go here.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Some Holy Week and Easter facts

As we prepare for Holy Week, here are a few tidbits about Holy Week and Easter that are generally misunderstood! A blessed and grace-filled end of Lent to you all!

1. Why is Good Friday "good"?

Well, although we remember this day in a solemn way without the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and in silence, it is good because simply put, Jesus died for our sins. What took place in the garden of Eden so long ago is made right again through the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. We lost our "good" way through our first parent's selfishness in that garden and Jesus made it all "good" again by being obedient unto death.

But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

2. So what really happened on Holy Saturday?

Jesus descends to hell and releases those imprisoned by death. From an ancient homily about Holy Saturday, we are able to conjure up images of Christ descending into the netherworld to release those held captive, such as Adam and Eve. With poetic language, we read that indeed God is sleeping and the world is silent. I often go back to this ancient homily to contemplate this moment, this time where we find all the tabernacles of the world empty and God asleep. "Awake O sleeper!" Jesus exclaims to Adam. That same hope is exclaimed to us every Easter as we too live in hope of our own resurrection. We will awake and arise and live forever with Christ!

The Lord's descent into hell

3. On the third day, He arose again?

If Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday, how does that make three days? Ancient jews counted their days much differently than we do today. For them, a part of today and a part of tomorrow were two distinct days; as opposed to us seeing it as just 24 hours. Jesus died around 3 p.m. on Friday and arose on Sunday. Friday counts as one distinct day, Saturday another day and Sunday, even though tradition holds he rose from the dead at dawn, was another distinct day. That makes three days.

Was Christ really in the tomb three days?

4. Easter is not just one day of celebration!

For many of us, Easter memories are filled with images of dressing up to go to Easter Sunday Mass followed by a great feast with family and hunting for Easter eggs while later stuffing our face with hollow chocolate bunnies. But Easter does not end there. Easter is actually 50 days long! Easter lasts from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. Easter Sunday to Divine Mercy Sunday (Instituted by St. John Paul II) is known as the Easter Octave (for 8 days) which are to be celebrated as an extended Easter Sunday. So celebrate and celebrate well for 50 days! This is the most important celebration of our Christian calendar, even more so than Christmas!

The 50 days of Easter

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Featured on Aleteia


One of the JPII generation pays tribute to the saintly pontiff

On, April 2, 2005, I was standing in St. Peter’s Square praying for our very frail Pope John Paul II.
Along with thousands of others, I had gathered to pray a Rosary led by a few cardinals. The prayers reverberating across the Square were a testimony from the throngs that had come to keep vigil, as we anticipated that our Papa was about to depart for his heavenly home.

He had a great love for the youth and his last words to us that evening were, “I have looked for you. Now you have come to me. And I thank you.”
We indeed had come to look for him, to say goodbye.
At 9:37 p.m. the light in his papal apartments went dark. The light that had always shined until the late hours of the night, had finally been extinguished.
The bells of St. Peter’s began to toll: 84 times for the years he had spent as a pilgrim on this earth. He had finally returned to “the Father’s house.”
Six days later I found myself looking across St. Peter’s again. The ocean of people stretched all the way down Via della Conciliazione and passed the Tiber. The people joyfully exclaimed, as their many signs read, Santo Subito! Sainthood Now!
St. John Paul II had already been canonized in millions of hearts around the world. His life had been proof that holiness was possible, even in our modern world.

To read more please click here.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Waffles for Our Lady!

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico source

Tomorrow is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. The day when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive a son, named Jesus. It is exactly nine months before the birth of Jesus. So do we know the exact dates when these events took place in history? No, although they did take place in human history.  We have record of the birth of Jesus outside of Scripture from non-Christian witnesses. Feast days, as we call them, are days set by the Church in order to commemorate important events in our Salvation history; or to commemorate certain saints.

On the Solemnity of the Annunciation, we celebrate the fact that Mary's yes brought about our salvation. Becuase of Mary, who was Immaculately conceived, God was able to be born and "dwell amongst men." God came amongst us! Can you wrap your head around that one? No other religious leaders in human history claimed to be God. In no other religion does God intervene in human history. He said, alright, you don't get this, you don't seem to understand my love, so I'll come and show you myself. That's it!

Here's a basic breakdown of the different types of feasts we celebrate in the Church from Catholic Straight Answers.

Solemnities are the most important celebrations. They begin at vespers (evening prayer) of the day before. During the Mass celebration, we say the Gloria and the Creed.  Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation (U.S. Holy Days of Obligation are: Mary Mother of God, Ascension, Assumption, All Saints, Immaculate Conception, and Christmas) are solemnities.  Other solemnities are St. Joseph (March 19), Sacred Heart of Jesus (Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi), and St. Peter and St. Paul (June 29).

Feasts are of second importance. They do not have a first vespers or Vigil Mass.  An exception would be the feasts of the Lord which occur on Sundays in Ordinary Time and Sundays during the Christmas season.  For example, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (February 2) has its own first vespers.  On these days, the Gloria is recited but not the Creed.

Finally, there are the memorials, which are classified as either obligatory or optional.  Memorials commemorate a saint or saints.  Obligatory memorials must be observed (meaning celebrated in the liturgy) whereas optional memorials do not have to be observed.  For example, St. John Bosco (January 31) is obligatory while the memorial of St. Blase (February 3) is optional.  Only the memorials of those saints who are of “universal significance” are observed by the whole Church and marked in the general liturgical calendar.

Other feast days would be local saints to a country, town, diocese or religious order. 

One note: often we will hear the word feast used to refer to any liturgical commemoration, such as the Feast of the Annunciation, rather than Solemnity of the Annunciation. It is still referring to the solemnity.

So how exactly do we celebrate this day? So up until now, we haven't really celebrated this day in particular other than going to Mass. But now, that our children are a bit older we would like to add on some new traditions to commemorate certain liturgical feasts. The richness of the Catholic faith is that everything has meaning. Some traditions are not necessarily universal and some we just kind of make-up on our own. The point is that we commemorate this celebration with something not only festive but memorable so that the children will note that it is a special day. That gives us parents the opportunity to explain why it is a special day. A teaching moment. Always great!

So on this day, we will make waffles! Yep! Waffles. Why you ask? It's kind of a silly and fun tradition. Why not! Well over at Catholic Cuisine she points out that in Sweden, it is known as Vaffeldagen or Waffle day which is similar to Varfrudagen, which means Feast of the Annunciation, or, "Our Lady's Day." So why not have waffles in honor of Our Lady's yes!

So have fun cooking up those waffles!  Only I used a Belgian Waffle recipe :)

Here's the recipe from

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
1⁄2 cup oil
2 cups milk

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Separate the eggs.
In small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
Mix together the egg yolks, milk and oil and stir slightly.
Add to dry ingredients and mix well.
Fold in beaten egg whites.
Cook in waffle iron.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Featured on Aleteia-For Her

I used to think I was just a chronic pessimist, until I discovered I had persistent depressive disorder.

I have battled persistent depressive disorder (PDD), previously known as dysthymia, for most of my life. It means that more often than not, I find myself in a low mood. I always thought I was just a chronic pessimist. Major life events, such as changes in schooling or friendships, exacerbated my condition. However, despite my persistent blues, I was resourceful and got by, even if gloomy clouds were never too far off.
After moving back from living abroad, I had a serious bout with major depression. I could hardly get out of bed in the morning. It was the first time in my life that I sought help for my depression from a medical doctor, and I was diagnosed with PDD. At first I felt a sense of relief. I was finally able to put a name to what I had felt for so long.

Almost immediately my doctor suggested medication. At first, I refused. Feeling defeated, I opted to seek therapy to sort through my emotions instead. It felt as if I had spent my whole life trudging through a dense jungle of emotions. Yet, armed with a machete of my persistence, I had managed to cut through the brush of despondence and survive. Yet, deep down I knew that therapy would not be enough.

To read more please click here.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lent Challenge: Be with your children and NOT technology!

"There are countless reasons you'll catch me on my smartphone
or worse, my laptop, during the day..."

There are still almost four weeks to go until Holy Week. It seems like an eternity, but this year I am taking it as a challenge, to become a better person. Lent, as we have seen, is a time of sacrifice and of prayer. Above all things, it is a time to focus on the Sacrifice of all sacrifices.

So, what is your greatest sacrifice? What is it that challenges you?

I want to challenge all moms and dads out there.

Here is the deal:

I have come across countless articles about how technology is ruining our children. There are a plethora of stats warning us how screen time can alter our children's brains. "Diagnoses of ADHD, autism, coordination disorder, developmental delays, unintelligible speech, learning difficulties, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders are associated with technology overuse, and are increasing at an alarming rate." (source) Yet, where are the stats of how our phone and screen time use impacts our children?

Does our use of technology affect our children? YES! YES! YES!

Meg Meeker, a wonderful best-selling author, and pediatrician points out that "...parents often showed annoyance at children when the parents were interrupted from their phones. And the little interaction that parents or caregivers had with their children were more negative or harsh. (source)

I am guilty of this. So, very, darn guilty! There are countless reasons you'll catch me on my smartphone or worse, my laptop, during the day. There are phone calls, texts, WhatsApp messages from distant family and friends, Pinterest, Facebook, work I have to get done, etc. Must I go on?

The truth is none of that is as important as my children. I will admit that without hesitation. Then why is it always pressing to answer that text? Why do I have look at facebook one last time before I finally set the phone down? Why didn't get my work done before my children got home from school? Yes, my friends, it is an addiction and it's not pretty.

"Do you find that putting the phone away equates to cutting off a limb, leaving you figuratively handicap and literally restless for the rest of the day?"

Here we are trying to protect our children from the horrors of screen. Yet, what kind of example are we setting if they see us using technology constantly?  The buck stops here! I am taking up my own challenge this Lent. How about you?

Do you see yourself caught up in technology? Do you not give your children the attention they desire and deserve? Do you find that putting the phone away equates to cutting off a limb, leaving you figuratively handicap and literally restless for the rest of the day? If this sounds familiar then I invite you to take up this challenge.

Put. Down. Your. Phone.

Put. Away. Your. Laptop.

Put. Away. Your. Tablet.

Just do it. Put it all away in time for when your kids come home from school. Let them have your attention. It doesn't mean you have to sit there and be at their beck and call. It means really listening to them and being there for them. It means not getting agitated when they interrupt our hundreth text of the day. It means playing with them for a bit. Going for a walk or a bike ride. Preparing dinner with them or simply sitting down and reading a book together.

Try to make all your important phone calls/texts while they are at school. Try to limit them while they are home. Make texting and posting on Facebook a big no-no while they are around.  You can even put your phone on "do not disturb" if you are brave enough. I place my phone in another room where I can still hear it if I need to take a call. I also tell my husband if he needs me (aka emergency) to call twice.

You will soon notice your children's behavior change, for the better. You will see a change in yourself and in your family all together. You will be more patient and at peace. Kids are worth it. Don't you think?  Let's be there for our kids. Let's show them that there is more to life than technology. Let's place family first and enjoy the simpler things in life. How do you want your children to remember you? Hunched texting on your smartphone? Or spending afternoons together enjoying each others company?

Technology can wait. Put your children first!