Like old friends

The St. Francis of Assisi Church on 31 St has always held a special place in my heart. I guess it started when choosing a confirmation name I chose Francis in honor of my paternal grandfather. After doing some (required) research on the saint of my choosing I was blown away by the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Years later I would make the first of several annual trips to the steps of this church with the Holy Cross Youth Group to drop off food at the homeless shelter there. Over the last six years I’ve walked past the church countless times coming and going from work at all hours of the day and night. I’ve seen and spoken with homeless people sleeping outside the building when the shelters full, I’ve stopped to pray, and left food at the foot of the statue of Jesus as a homeless beggar, but I’ve never gone inside…until today. Like I had said the other day, just being in a church gives me a sense of peace and comfort, but this was different…better. As I stepped through the door into the nave I was overcome with a feeling of tranquility from the smell of wood and blast of warm air from oversized steam radiators that instantly made me think of my grandfather (mom’s side). After praying for a bit, I just sat back and took in the beauty of this place that I had been to so many times but had never seen. Realizing that I had to get to Penn, I said a final prayer headed back out into the chaos that is New York. Here’s where it gets pretty cool. As I was crossing over 7th Ave I hear “Hey leatherneck!” Turning to look it was the homeless marine I had spoken with last week. As I got closer by the look on his face he was genuinely happy to see me. I squatted down next to him and had a conversation like we were two old friends, as I heads out I said “I’ll see you next week” and down into Penn I went. Working my through the main concourse towards where I needed to be for my train I finally came to a stop by one of the message boards to wait for my track number to be announced. As I’m standing there in half awake state (thanks daylight savings time) looking at the sign I started to get a feeling like someone was staring at me. Not sure exactly how long I was standing there but as my track number came up I turned and saw one of the homeless guys I had met awhile back. With a smile and “fist bump” he says “Hey you remember me?” “Absolutely buddy, what’s going on?” I said back reciprocating the fist bump. For the second time in a matter of minutes, I was talking with someone who was just happy to talk to someone like old friends. After a little bit I shook his hand and told him I’d talk to him soon and literally had to run down the stairs to make my train. As I am sitting on the train I can’t help but feel like in some way I got to “see” Jesus, St. Francis and both my grandfather’s today. Pretty great Sunday afternoon. As always I’ll be praying for you all.
Remember to live the Faith.

God bless.

Spend it like it’s not yours

Mathew 6:24 Mathew 25:14-30

So I’ve received mixed reviews about my Lenten posts, ranging from supportive to questioning. The truth of the matter is, I actually enjoy when people comment on or question what I’m doing because it gives me yet another opportunity to share my Faith. I mean I even have a Christian Surfer “who do you surf for“ sticker on the nose of my paddle-board, just so as to not miss an opportunity to evangelize, even when I’m in the water. But all of the questions and comments made me think of the story of the three servants from Mathew 25:14-30. When I was growing up I never understood why the last servant got in trouble for being safe with the money. To be fair, when I was younger I was a pretty small person, so accordingly I faced my share of bullying, so I guess the safe route always seemed like the way to go. Fast forward a few years, a couple of feet, a lot of pounds, even more life experiences and I see and approach things a bit differently now. So obviously it’s a parable, but in my youth I found it difficult to separate the idea of money as Faith. Although, it does make you think, how many people cherish their faith as much as their money or materialistic things. Too often, I think, we take Christ for granted. But getting back to the story in Mathew I think there’s a few lessons we can all take for our everyday lives. For the sake of this I’ll give you three. First, God is always with us so, never let fear stop you from living your faith. Next, in the same way the master gave his servants money in the hope they would increase it, we were all given the Holy Spirit, and it’s our charge to share and teach our faith to others in words and more importantly, deeds. Finally, in the end we will all be judged in heaven by our how we live our lives here. So when faced with an opportunity to share your faith remember to be courageous and “spend it” like it’s not yours because that’s what God wants. I’ll be praying for you all.
Remember to live the Faith.

God bless.

My Fortress

It’s funny how life can come at you so differently from day to day. We all have our share of good days and bad days, then there are days like today. Not bad, but a day where it felt like I was being tested at every turn, so I decided to take a little detour on my way to Penn Station. When faced with any kind of bad moment, experience, or day it’s common for people to blame God. We all need to remember that God does not tempt us.
13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. -James 1:13
But it’s our own vanity and misconceptions that prevent us from seeking and excepting help from the only true place we can get it, our Faith. And although I am a believer in that we are the church, not the building, sometimes it feels good to just sit for a moment in the presence of Christ. So I headed to my “city church” after work. There’s something about stepping through the doorway that just feels safe. Like in Proverbs 18:10 where it says that “the name of the Lord is a strong fortress, the godly run to Him and are safe”. Now even though the tabernacle is in front of me, when I close my eyes to pray I feel like Christ is sitting next to me. It never ceases to amaze me the power we are blessed to have at our disposal, we only gave to accept it. After praying and simply sitting in His presence for a little while, as I opened my eyes it was like a weight lifted…which was good because I had to start running to make my train. I hope you all remember to always look to God whenever you need help, nothing is to large or to small for Him. I’ll be praying for you all.
Remember to live the Faith.

God bless.

Strength from weakness

I want to talk about weakness today. Lets be honest we all have them, so take a moment, stop reading and think about yours, however long it takes, I’ll wait. For obvious reasons, it being Lent and all, we have a tendency to self shame ourselves when our weaknesses get the best of us. We feel as though we’ve let ourselves, and more importantly, that we’ve let God down. Like most things in life it’s about perspective. For me, when I find myself closing in on the brink, and the devil is doing everything he can to ruin me, and my weaknesses seem like the strongest things I’ve ever faced…that’s the moment I feel the power of my Faith. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says …
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


Now this isn’t a get out of jail(hell) free card, giving cart blanch to sin at will. It’s just another reminder that the power and love of God is greater than anything we can face. And like the prodigal son, we will always be welcomed back when in our hearts we truly want to be. You see it’s really easy to be holy when our minds and spirit are at peace, our task is to find the Holy Spirit within us when our weaknesses start us down that slippery slope and we feel farthest from Him. And no matter if the sin is a momentary thought or full blown action we have to find the strength to let it go, put all of our trust in God, and simply Believe. No matter how dark it feels He is the light. I’ll be praying for you all.


Remember to live the Faith.
God bless.

Imperfect Perfect

     As I was finishing my lunch today a random person from work asked me if I ever felt hypocritical? A bit taken a back I asked what he was talking about, to which he said something along the lines of he saw me bless myself before I ate, but he assumed (correctly) that I sinned in other times of my life.  “Absolutely not!” I answered quickly, “I pray BECAUSE I’m not perfect”.  It was at this point that he probably thought he shouldn’t have tried being funny.  Over the next few minutes he got a quick spiritual life lesson. I told him that imperfections aren’t bad, as long as the end goal is perfect.  Lets be realistic,life isn’t Instagram.  These perfect little moments. Life is messy.  I took a picture out the window and then told him to take a look out of the same window.  In the pic the world is neat and clean…the cars, the sky, the water.  But that’s not real. In real life everything is moving in a chaotic manner.  Those cars are trying to get somewhere and eventually home. The sky, may cloud up and rain or be beaming sunshine, but either way that’s going to help things grow. And the water…well for me it’s going to keep moving until it finally breaks as perfect surf-able waves.  I finished up by saying that I, like the cars, am just trying to get home… Heaven. The sun and the rain, well I hope I can be the light for someone and maybe help them grow in their faith. And as for the waves, I just said surfing is awesome.  But more important than all of that, I told him that Christ came for those of us that know we’re sinners. 

32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”-Luke 5:32


I’ll be praying for you all.
Remember to live the faith.

God bless.

Hope

     Now I know it’s still winter, but as I was walking around outside today I couldn’t help but notice the trees starting to bud. Now I’m absolutely a “summer” guy but there’s something about the coming of Spring that reinvigorates my feeling of Hope. Watching as the trees start to awaken from their winter slumber is nothing short of inspiring. It instantly makes me think of what we’re told in Corinthians 13. And although it says “Three things will last forever-Faith, Hope, and Love-and the greatest of these is love” I believe it’s Hope that carries us through our darkest times. I mean Love is the Way…our greatest gift, and Faith is our strength, but Hope…Hope is our light when we struggle to see.  I’ll be praying for you all.  

Remember to live the Faith. 
God Bless. 

Be bold

     Well we’ve made it to the first Friday of Lent, so as we all daydream of cheeseburgers and steak, only because we can’t have it, I’ll leave you with this to strengthen you as those around us question why we do what we do…

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.        


                       -Romans 12:1-2


         Remember this, if for criticism or from curiosity you are questioned, take the opportunity to be bold and respond like it says in Peter 3:15 “ And if someone asks about your hope as a believer always be ready to explain it“.  As always, I’ll be praying for you all.


Remember to live the Faith.
God bless.
    

The way




Knock knock…how many people instantly thought/said “who’s there”? Sometimes in life we’ve done things for so long it just becomes “the way”. At times it’s something silly as a “knock knock” joke, but other times it can be how we interact, or see others interacting, with the world around us. There’s a saying that goes something along the lines of “the most dangerous phrase is: we’ve always done it this way”. Let me ask you how often do you act or react to certain situations based on that thought process. Now I know there are times when it holds true, but not always. The undertaking is learning when it’s not the case. One of my goals this Lent is to get myself back on the right path, because the truth is there is only one way…Jesus.


Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…. -John 14:6


So yesterday Kerri and I were talking about our goals for Lent and how daunting it was going to be so she suggests that if we feel like we’re going to faultier to say a prayer. I thought this was a brilliant idea, especially since how often was I really going to need it. After a little thought I decided if I needed it I would say an Our father for forgiveness and a Hail Mary for strength. No problem…well over the course of the day today I repeated this contrition six times! As 3:30 rolled around I couldn’t get home fast enough, so obviously there was delays on the subway. Accordingly by the time I reached Herald Square I was running down 34th St to make my train. In the midst of my mad dash, in the distance I saw a homeless guy struggling to stand up as the horde of commuters were pushing their way into Penn Station. As I reached that side of 7th Ave I stopped right in front of him. With my back to the oncoming crowd I reached my hand out and asked if he was ok. “All good now Leatherneck” was his response. Caught off guard for a moment, forgetting I am wearing a Marine Corps sweatshirt I snapped back with an “oorah”. After helping him up and off to the side, we spoke in the pleasantries that former marines do. Him asking if I was a “Hollywood Marine” because I’m wearing shorts in February and me responding that his softness was obviously because he wasn’t 3rd Battalion. We spoke for a minute or two but I had to resume my run to get to the train, so I handed him a bottle of water and said “Semper Fi brother”. He looked up at me and said “Marines never quit do we?” I shook his hand and said “no we don’t. God bless”, and was off. As I sit on the train now I wonder how many times have I passed that same man and never even gave a second glance. I don’t know if I’ll see that guy tomorrow or ever again, but what I do know is the way I feel after doing something so simple but at the same time so right makes all the difficulties that I went through during the day fadeaway. I’m honestly looking forward for the rest of this journey. Maybe just like the response to a “knock knock” joke this will just be the way.


Remember to live the faith.
God bless


40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[a] you were doing it to me!’ -Mathew 25:40

Cleaning the slate

Before I begin I just want to say that as I read the Bible whenever a certain chapter, verse, or line hits me I make a mark so I can go back at a later time to reread it. So as I was looking through my Bible to pick a topic to talk about today I opened to Mathew 6:22-23.

22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!     -Mathew 6:22-23 

After reading it a couple of times it hit me that it’s a pretty good passage to start our Lenten journey with because sometimes it’s difficult to truly see our own faults. We have no problem pointing out the flaws in others, but in ourselves….not so much. Or maybe we see it but brush it off because we’re “normally good”, and my favorite during Lent is the “well I messed up already today, I’ll just start again tomorrow” attitude. Unfortunately that’s not how this works, but when you can’t or won’t see the errors in yourself it becomes difficult to genuinely see right from wrong anywhere. But that’s the beauty of Lent. We’re given this opportunity to hit a spiritual reset button. To look beyond our own vanity, and humble ourselves to God. In baptism we all received the indelible mark on our foreheads, cleansing us of original sin… cleaning the slate. Today when we receive ashes on our foreheads, it’s a reminder for both ourselves and the world around us that we acknowledge that we are imperfect, but repentant, and we’re doing this because Christ sacrificed Himself for us…cleaning the slate. So as this journey begins, remember we are all in it together. I’ll be praying for you all.


Remember to Live the Faith.

God bless.

A Lent conversation

I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.-1Cor 2:5

     So every year around now as spring approaches I find my thoughts floating to topics like “when should I start seeding and fertilizing”, “how do I find a way to surf…everyday”, and of course “what do I give up for Lent?”!       A while back I had read an article about how people tend to try and keep God at a safe distance. Almost like we’re don’t want to get too close to him out of fear of what He’ll ask us to do. When I first read it I was moved by the idea, but quickly let the thought fade away. Then, as Ash Wednesday crept closer the typical “Lent” conversations that take place between Catholics began to happen and I was reminded of the article. Although there has been a few people that were truly looking to test themselves and sacrifice, most had a reserved or even nonchalant attitude about it. What’s funny is, as I would listen to other people talk, in my mind, I would pass judgment. Either commending them for being willing to do so much, or silently chastising for not. But it wasn’t until this morning that it all became clear. My judgmental thoughts were meant for me.  I realized that over the last year or so I’ve become almost complacent in my faith. And what I mean by that is for a long time I saw myself as someone who was, for lack of a better, aggressive with my faith.  But at some point I started living my faith based on the actions from the past. I’m not sure if it’s ignorance or vanity that somehow made me believe that my ideas, my thoughts, or my plans were somehow better or greater than His. That the view I have of myself has become so distorted to think that I can judge anyone.  The truth is I’m not worthy to judge myself, much less others.  Delving a bit deeper on this spiritual realization I thought of last Lent.  It was a less than stellar performance on my part.  The entire situation is truly disappointing when I put it all together.  So here we are, it all starts tomorrow.  Lent.  When I think about all the things I have asked of God over the course of my life, between daily prayers to the more serious pleas, then I can absolutely do something for Him for 40 days.  So as the sun rises on Wednesday I’ll be doing a little seeding and fertilizing on a spiritual level.  And like Peter in the midst of the wind and waves said…

                  28 … “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

                   29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 

-Matt 14:28-29 If Peter was willing to put aside his fears and bring God close to him and “surf” with Christ, then I will too…everyday. Last week I spoke with someone how aggressive I would respond when I felt that someone was attacking my faith. Looking at it now, “aggressive” doesn’t sound very Christ like, so now it’s a time for “active patience”. No judgements. No quick gut reactions. But absolutely living and sharing the Faith regardless of what or who is in front of me. After all the blessings that God has given me in my life I’m not gonna keep Him or His plan at a distance anymore. So if His plan has me and Kerri as missionaries, teaching the Word, a little of both, or just doing what I’m doing as long as I’m “surfing every day” it’s all good.
Remember to always Live the faith.
God bless.