Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Sometimes social media is written off as either a waste of time or otherwise. Well, in my case, I can attest to the true power of Facebook, Twitter, even Email. Obviously these services can be addictive, yet at the same time, they can keep people connected, as well as connect to likeminded and sometimes even friends who have moved to different provinces or countries. Today is my birthday, and I am a seminarian, and thanks to the power of social media, I was blessed if not downright humbled by people taking time out of their day to send me a wish, Blessing or thought. I thought once again, who am I to receive this amount of love? I am a broken sinner, I have done too much… (Yeah, even a guy with 17inch arms can get a little emotional…)
As I reflect upon my journey, I can only see my smile widening. Obviously there are some issues that I still would like to resolve, and there are things that I did in my past that I’m not proud of. The ‘Marco’ that is being forced to die, is the self-centered, ego maniacal, marketing salesman, womanizing creature that can always come back to haunt me. God however, has provided me with a few guardian angels, and one of them is my roommate in the Rectory. A seminarian, who took a step back in the formation, but in reality is miles ahead of me Spiritually.(The REAL formation!) Thanks be to God for his presence, as without him, I could easily spiral and create the Marco centered universe. I am so blessed and truly so happy to be a part of this community! I also live and am being tutored by a Faithful Pastor and an unbelievable staff of Grace filled people who can put any seminarian/priest to shame! The ‘Missione’ is enabling me to re-activate my Italian, to adopt certain Salesian dimensions of Spirituality, and most importantly, to truly live out a relationship with Jesus!
How does all that have to do with social media? Well, the combination of old friends and new, some I never met, all wishing me well caused my heart to stir. I pray everyday that God will make me the Pastor that I am called to be. I pray that I am able to stand up for the Gospel, unashamedly. I pray that my past mistakes can be chalked up to experience. The old me, it seems will always be there, lying somewhere, I guess that is where the devil finds my ego to stir me up. Through it all though, these days finds me praying for the happiness of others, wishing success in families to friends who have moved on, wishing comfort to friends who need it, a good man to old girlfriends, and finally money to those who have none. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle at times, but again, nothing that my Spiritual Director can help me live with and control, through God’s power.
I am beginning to realize why sometimes Jesus leaves us with certain frailties. Perhaps if He gave us all the Grace we asked for, we would forget that it is He who saves us, we don’t save ourselves, and should we forget that? He will readily remind you!
Mary, Help of Christians,...................................................ora pro nobis!
Monday, October 20, 2014
Well I guess that my blog postings are becoming as rare as Big Foot sightings, but honestly time is playing a big factor. Where have I been? Am I still studying for priesthood? Am I still Catholic? Well the answer is YES. The reality that I am living however is a new one!
This year will be my third year as a seminarian, yet I’m considered a 4th year of formation and thus have been sent to live in a Parish for a year. This field work will allow me to truly experience and apply all the theory that I have accumulated. Actually it gives me an even greater chance to deepen my prayer life, get closer to Jesus and apply His pastoral style and less of my own. The spiritual life of any seminarian or priest is the backbone of his ministry. Being in seminary is great, but being close to God’s people is humbling and a truly Spiritual experience.
God has not taken away my manhood. My desire to be a father is expressing itself in another way, through the many people I’m encountering, the pastoral team, the Catechists etc…Sooo that being said, I still train and read comic books and love Transformers! All of these things will be put to good use within and at the service of Christ through the New Evangelization!
(By the way?? The Sacraments are essential, especially Eucharist and Reconciliation! You would be surprised to see who frequents the Sacraments!)
Check out the facebook fanpage and link up to great videos!
Don't forget to click like! ;)
Mary Help of Christians,…………………………………ora pro nobis!
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I have blogged before on this topic, and to a certain extent, this blog was born out of this topic. Still the question remains, what is going on with today’s men? How is it that men have become something that well, we are not supposed to be? All questions, good questions. Some of the questions I receive need to be brought out. When people who don’t know me ask, ‘Why do you want to be a priest?’ or ‘Are you gay?’ There is clearly a preconceived notion, in part perpetuated by the media and scandals that could easily lend to this notion. How do we fix it?
I am reminded of the quote from Pope Leo XIII, ‘Catholics are born for combat!’ If that is the case, then where did all the soldiers and warriors go? More specifically, where have all the men gone? What has happened to chivalry? Even in my pre seminary days, I was taught enough common sense, to give up my seat to a woman or to an elderly person, to hold a door open for the next person, to not use 758 swear words to describe in so far as much as a baby seal. If my then girlfriend was insulted or assaulted, I would defend! After meeting Jesus, and in discerning priesthood, I don’t think much of that has changed. Perhaps it is being purified? Lord knows I have many weaknesses and the seminary is a place of formation where God shows you those weaknesses CLEARLY! However, a coward I am not!
The time has come for men to pray, stand up, get a backbone, get off the porn, (which by the way, can turn a dude feminine), and join the fight! The fight is God vs the devil. To be frank it is Jesus who fights through us, but as men we need to be just that, MEN! At this point, I will speak from experience, that followers of this blog already know, but a few things about my leisure interests: I enjoy Martial Arts, particularly Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Sanda (Kung fu kickboxing), as well, I enjoy firearms, hunting and fishing! I also enjoy cooking! I do not enjoy finger painting or abstract ‘art’ or interior decorating. I don’t render judgement on those that do, but I would truly appreciate it that ‘they’ wouldn’t constantly render judgement on me.
My name is Marco, and as of my discernment Jesus is calling me to priesthood as me. He (Jesus) will amplify my strengths and purify my weaknesses in order to mold me into the priest that God willing He wants me to be. I remain to date a warrior faithful to prayer, Eucharist and the Blessed Mother! My mission to remain a faithful servant of Jesus Christ! To draw souls closer to Him, so that His Salvation be made known! My foundation is Jesus in the Eucharist! My weapons are the Breviary, and the Rosary! My enemy is the lukewarmedness/open hostility of the world. My request is that you continue to sustain me in prayer,…. Without prayer, I am dead corporeally and in the soul.
As Pope Francis said,................... 'Be a man!'
Our Lady of Fatima,.........................................................................................Ora pro nobis!
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
What a title! How does a seminarian come up with such a title? Well, my main enemy is ego and pride. Deadly sins, mortal sins. Jiu Jitsu helps get that issue under control. The ultimate release, Training! Getting on the mats and leaving it all there, the sweat, sometimes blood and the demolition of the ego. Ahh the ego,..my ultimate enemy!
Where have you been(?) has been the ultimate question, the last few months, as my blogging is becoming more rare than a Big Foot sighting. The truth is that, I sometimes, (nearly always,..) just don’t have the time to blog the way I used to. Another confession? I now blog for Jesus, and not for me. In the past, I blogged in the name of Jesus, but trying to build a name for myself. The past few months, well I have been changing, I believe for the better. Jesus wants holy priests, not internet/marketing celebrities!
To be a priest is to completely die to oneself. That being said, the ego remains the majour obstacle for any progression in holiness. The enemy, the devil, clearly knows this and is ready to exploit this. My strengths? The whole ‘in your face thing?’ Well, it is also my biggest weakness! I need to learn, to re learn, to practice and to accept ‘humility!’ Easier said than done! The question remains, where does BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) fit into all of this? Well,… The answer is simple. Pastores Dabo Vobis shows four key elements to a healthy balanced seminarian who will (God willing) turn into a healthy balanced priest! My ‘human dimension’ is In BJJ, you spar full blast, you realize that can never lose but only learn, however when you see yourself falling into the same routine and your side control defense needs work, or your defense from the mount position is mediocre, then you are encouraged to train from those positions!
That means you will be tapped and choked, (maybe even from the white belts!) BUTTTTT,.you will also learn!
Humlity? Loads of it! Think of St Dismas (The good thief on the Cross!)
St Dismas,................................................Ora pro nobis!
Thursday, June 12, 2014
I am beginning to believe that the crisis in manhood is hitting epic proportions. My job/Pastoral summer assignment sees me at the local cemetery, accompanying families for the final prayers when a priest or deacon cannot be present. It is humbling, and gives a foretaste of the Grace that God will give us to simply be present for families during this time. The public transportation that I use to get to the cemetery sees me gritting my teeth and refraining from interfering when I hear nothing but constant swearing and an overall lack of manners and common sense. I guess its part of a global phenomenon? This will be the subject of another blog post. Whatever the reason, a sense of decency is not the abnormal, but should be part of everyone’s formation.
Working at the cemetery allows me to crawl into people’s lives, sometimes by the toes. Our Lord has shown me incredible Graces, with all sorts of families. All have one thing in common, LOVE. The prayers at the gravesite are always full of love and appreciation, my presence in many ways is to show the Compassion and Mercy that God wants to bestow upon families at the time they need it the most.
Perhaps this blog is not as intense as what usually it once was??,.. Blame Jesus! Lol!!! Being a Seminarian is completely awesome!!!
Sacred Heart of Jesus,……………….Have Mercy on us!
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Where have you been? Did you stop writing? What about your thoughts on Utimate Warrior’s passing? (The last one being my favorite!) Well, I finished my second year as a seminarian candidate and my third academic year,..which means that I am off to Parish assignment next year! So some musings, thoughts and overall ponderings. A post without a thesis!
The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, God’s ultimate workout for authentic true discernment to practice the Call to Holiness, to work on/eliminate any distractions, and finally to validate the Call to priesthood. (In my case anyway..) The answer lies not so much in the movement and discernment of the Spirits of Good, bad, God or the devil, but in the exercise of silence so as to properly hear them!
Trying to find out who I really am, requires a deep spiritual journey, but one which is rooted completely in God’s abandonement. Faith becomes the cornerstone, my inadequacies the starting point and conforming my will to God’s, hopefully the end result. Obviously this is a lifelong journey, still we need to begin somewhere. Sooo, I am a temperamental, jealous, emotive, and insecure guy who according to wordly standards lived a rockstar life, thought I could find happiness through girls, money and power. God through it all starting speaking to my heart, and although it was happening, I learned to despise my vocation. This anger led to the above lifestyle. Then Sunday came around, I went to confession (sometimes), justified my behaviour, (I contented myself to believe) and paraded as a good Traditional Catholic. Talk about schizophrenia! Behold the Rich Young Man from the Gospel, Zaccheus up the tree, and Matthew, the Tax collector all rolled into one person. Oh wait, I also possessed Judas’s greed, Thomas’s doubt, and of course Peter’s collective stupidity and fear. Why in the blue hell is Jesus calling me to priesthood?
That young priest in the bookstore, what if I had never challenged him? I could have not said a word, what prompted me to? I was perfectly happy identifying myself as a thinking ‘catholic’ with all the accoutrements of secular humanism. Pro-choice? Sure! Pro-gay? Absolutely! (I had a gay friend, and he didn’t harm anybody), stem cells? Of course! Nooo, I was gonna save this poor confused man! Instead, I was launched headfirst into Aristotle, Aquinas, the Natural Law, Truth, JESUS! Still then had every intention of living my hedonistic lifestyle, but only one problem, I was no longer in invincible ignorance… My best friend and I would talk philosophy at times, he was a student as well, (eventually an accountant) yet gone was any appreciation for DesCartes, Kant, Spinoza, and Heidegger. We had trained years in Martial Arts, and Buddha wasn’t very coherent, despite being very ‘en vogue.’ I was learning Thales, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle! The Greeks would searched for ‘arche.’ I no longer had any interest in revolving around my belly button with Rene DesCartes! The Bible, Mass, the Eucharist, I remember it all being a flood! Another chance encounter with another guy from LaSalle,..’Greg, you are studying to be a what?!?!?’ (Fr Greg, ordained in 2010) Slowly I was bit by the bug…Oh yeah, that young priest from the store is now the Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal… Just sayin’…I tried to discern in 2007, but I never really put any effort into it. I always had an excuse,..’diocese too liberal’ (that was code for people will think I’m crazy and I like women!)
The answer, perhaps a mystery, or perhaps to show that He can act through a broken instrument such as myself? Not so sure, yet that fateful night negotiating my fate, preparing to explain to the girl I was dating that I needed to make a life changing decision, all of it comes rushing back full circle. I had told God that I would have given Him the permanent Diaconate! Apparently that wasn’t enough. I remember vividly searching to find any loophole to get out, and continually asking myself why the thought kept popping back in? I remember missing the company of a girl, and so I had asked myself if I’m on the right track? My thoughts rushing to images of me being a biological father, coaching some sports on Saturday mornings, the little voice then added to the angst I was experiencing,…’You could have it all again,..Go back to the way it was.’ The voice was seductive, yet there was no inner peace, joy or authentic freedom. I recognized that voice, didn’t realize that I had played for his team for too long. That woman who stayed with me, that living Saint who during my change tried as best she could to be there for me. Being diagnosed with clinical depression, and being not able to work for about 3 months, all because I didn’t want to accept God’s call in my life. My time as a trainer, acting like St Augustine (in every sense). Jesus continued to speak to me, and so did you! I grew angry with Liturgical matters, angry with people not following the Faith, angry with politics, yet my interior life was a complete mess.
Giving in? Not quite. Signed up as an external student. This way, I would know that there is no call to priesthood, that I’m not one of them! That ‘they’ are all socially awkward little weird possibly gay men, who don’t function in life, while I can work, make money and get girls. That I’m a regular dude who desires a family. (After sowing my ‘wild oats’ that is!) Too late, I remember the bottle of ‘Grey Goose’ on the bar, the cranberry juice beside it, and my buddies cruising some drunk girls…’Life sucks!’ That’s what I wanted. I remember, saying okay Lord, one last girl, then I’ll be yours. Guess it wasn’t to be, and after a brief stay as an external student, You, Jesus, eventually caught me, you win!…I’m yours. As for you satan, not today. My battle never over, but with Christ in me, you devil are powerless!
Just finished up my third year and next year I will be staying in Parish for the year. Throughout the hardships, and Lord, you know them! Going face to face with a drug dealer, or holding a girl who went through an abortion in my arms, crying with her… No, not just that. I’m speaking about the selfish stuff, the times of stress loneliness, the social media avenue allowing you to see old relationships move forward, and being happy for them in times of grace and being a man and sometimes envious in times of stress…
I guess you can tell that there was no real thesis to my blog post,..Oh well…
Our Lady of Fatima,................................ora pro nobis!
Sunday, March 23, 2014
There are days,.. Yup one of those posts. Sometimes I take strength in prayer and some days I feel as if Heaven is closed off to me. All normal, all part of the journey. I haven’t blogged in a while, because frankly I’m working on me, my weaknesses are of the emotive sort and everyday I die to myself, I hear the whisper of the enemy gently attempting to seduce me.
The Seminary is a house of formation, a time to grow and deepen one’s relationship with Jesus. Everyday, I am more and more certrain of this Call that for years I ran from. That doesn’t change the fact that I remain a man. Seeing friends with kids makes me wonder what if I would make a good dad? Would I be the early morning hockey coach dad? Bringing kids to sports, dance,.. Being involved in school, teaching them Martial Arts? Its also tough to see ‘Ex’s in relationships, ..Would I make a good husband? Then I find myself in ministry, in the field so to speak, and whether I am speaking to someone in jail, a gang leader, drug dealer, biker, doctor, lawyer or anyone, I realize that I have begun to love them. God is realizing my own paternity in a different way.
In all God has blessed me abundantly. Lots more work to do on me, and 2014 will see me change even further. The toughest thing has been ‘letting go’,..
Our Lady of Perpetual Help,...................ora pro nobis.
Monday, March 3, 2014
As a seminarian, there seems to be lots of things that annoy me and certain things that I want to do to be annoying, (I mean C’mon, I am a celibate man!!! For the love of all things, let me have some fun!)
…Before ordination to Priesthood, in the next few years, God willing, I think I need to get some stuff out of my system! Certain annoyances, wishes, pet peeves and what not; Soooooooooo here goes!
. Find all the people who leave shopping carts abandoned in Grocery store parking lots and take a key to their respective cars.
. Invite all the people who don’t wash, to not take public Transportation. Instead be forced to walk slowly through a full car wash…backwards
. Enter and leave every room in the house blasting Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’ complete with smoke and fireworks,.. pro wrestling style.
. Play really loud bagpipes, while walking through a public library…
. Answer 17! (Really enthusiastically )to the people at a restaurant who ask ‘How many ketchups do you want?’
Wear a DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince t-shirt in Harlem while quoting random ‘Arnold ‘ from Diff’rent Strokes,… ‘Whachoo talkin’bout Willis?’
. Feed red Skittles to 18 year old douchebags in the gym, telling them it’s a flavored pro hormone that will not only increase their size and strength but also their libido,…Sit back and watch placebo take effect…
. Introduce myself as George Costanza, representative of the human fund,.(to a newly arrived immigrant)
. Eliminate all pigeons. (Because they are kamikaze sky rats who will try to pick food off the street within an inch of the wheel of your car.)
. Find a list of all Jehovah’s Witnesses in the neighbourhood, ring their doorbells and hand out free copies of MAD magazine…
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Before I begin a dissection of Martial Arts, perhaps some commentary upon the Euthanasia bill currently discussed in the Quebec National Assembly. Sooooo,.. I guess that the whole ‘Charter of Values’ in Quebec was a smokescreen? Duh! So.. Within a few years, Grandma and the family dog, might both have the same rights…. Heaven help us and may God have mercy on our souls.
Stepping away from Theological issues and weighing in on a fun subject. One that is dear to my heart, the Martial Arts and fighting. Yup, I wasn’t always a passive seminarian who enjoys feeding the birds while writing poetry and sipping tea. :D (Actually, I still don’t write poetry, and even as a seminarian still avidly train!)
A post reflecting a post that I wrote years ago with regards to the now old argument of ‘Traditional’ vs ‘MMA.’ Which is more effective? First off, who will win? As I mentioned, the better fighter period! A person training traditional means that through his kata (Karate) or forms (Wushu), he will advance in belt rank or still sharpen his skills. This does not mean that he will be the ‘lethal weapon’ he was promised to be in the local newspaper ad.
We have all seen the Youtube video of the ‘Kiai Master’ getting brutalized by the MMA fighter. This sad reality is all too common place as guys training primarily in the traditional styles, (Taekwondo, Karate and Kung Fu) all seem to be manhandled by anyone with an elementary knowledge of groundfighting. What isn’t being said, is the cultural development of why these ‘traditional’ guys are getting destroyed. In the case of WUSHU, the empty handed fighting forms commonly known as ‘Kung Fu,’ you are learning a demonstration style which primarily finds its applicability inside a pure fighting style known as ‘Sanshou’ or ‘Sanda.’ This combat is comprised of stricking and throws(takedowns). A ‘famous’ Kung Fu fighter who has done quite well for himself would be Cung Le. There is also a grabbing perspective, in Chin-Na, you have seizing and grabbing, a pure form of grappling and control, which can immobilize through joint locks and with a simple ‘jerk’ seriously inflict damage.
Now onto the forms. The forms were practiced by the monks mimicking the movements of the animals. They comprise usually a predetermined set of movements, punching and kicking the air. Forms are fun, they are vigorously exhausting, require memory and make use of the basic skills. The problem is that most of these schools that are strictly form based, do not sparr or fight in a competition. This clearly can give someone a false sense of security. Great workout, but no fight experience= bad training!
Clearly, I will always defend Kung Fu. Although as of the last three years and right now, my style is primarily Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu allows for full sparring at 100percent!! I also have some experience in Judo and wrestling, so clearly I’m more of a grappler. Although I will always practise and consider myself a Kung Fu guy. The reason that I stepped away from it was from a theological perspective as there were some philosophies that were incompatible with my Catholic Faith. In recent times, I have returned to training from a pure kickboxing perspective and rehabilited the Kung Fu without the ‘buddha.’ Cross training has made me a more complete Martial artist.
Jesus calls all types of men to priesthood and again, our formation according to Pastores Dabo Vobis will always incorporate the human dimension. I say this because often people will ask how a seminarian is allowed to train and play sports,.. They are usually shocked when I give them a little Quebec history lesson showing how most boxing and wrestling promotions started in Church basements. ;)
Obviously, this post was more in tune with a sports/leisure/lifestyle dimension. I will be returning with more theological reflections in the future.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati,……………………………………ora pro nobis.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Upon much personal prayer, reflection and consultation with my Spiritual Director, it has become crystal clear that the character of Optimusmastro needs to cease so that Marco can truly be formed. Yes once again this will be one of those self critical examinations of myself that needs to be done.
When I rediscovered my Faith, I was infused with Grace but sadly, I didn’t know what to do with it or how to present it. The enemy however did! I was an angry young man. My Theology was pure head knowledge and my vision of God back then was almost as if He (God) was an accountant, tallying up my sins, and eager to send me to hell. By the Grace of God, my heart is starting to develop. When I travel back to my blog, to some vids, the way I used to present Jesus, I can hardly recognize that guy. I was at best, arrogant and at worst? Probably my own biggest fan. Simply put, my marketability was not centered on Christ, but upon my own ego driven narcissism. Truly amazing what two years of daily Holy Hour, daily Mass, weekly confession, daily Rosary and of course daily Breviery can do. Alongside an incredible Spiritual Director, …God has revealed things about myself, my temperament that need to be purified.
Optimusmastro was a cartoon, a simplistic ego driven amplification in a pro wrestling mindset. Instead of wrestling, I was beating people over the head with dogmas. The truth is that this character has been eclipsed for quite some time and doesn’t need to come back. What was the final straw? Well, when a young teenager asks you with all seriousness, ‘What does Jesus Save us from?’ Needless to say, fighting back tears was hard. Other issues from the past two years were working with Café Trottoir, (Feeding homeless, drug addicts, ) and realizing their proper humanity that they can love and be loved. Meeting the ‘Solitude Myriam’ and Danielle Bourgeois, a woman viewed as ultra Traditionalist, because she founded a community of divorced Catholics who seek to continue to live out their vows. All these are examples of mercy, an ongoing theme with Pope Francis.
I am a Catholic, a thomist thinker, that will not change. I love reverence in the Liturgy, and that will not change. However a few weeks back when the Pope referenced seminaries forming ‘little monsters,’ I recognized that a few years back, I was a potential ‘little monster.’ Make no mistake about it, there is a time and place for apologetics, but today's society doesn't know Christ, and if they have a vague idea of Jesus, He is spoken in the same light as the Easter bunny or Santa Claus. The danger is extremes. We cannot rely on a simplistic Marxist approach complete with a laboratory experiment liturgy and at the same time, we cannot present doctrine and morals to people who haven’t met the Risen Christ. (I had a conversation about the Hypostatic Union to an atheist.) St Paul is a perfect example of this, when he presents the Risen Christ to the Athenian people. The world today accepts all ideologies except Catholicism. Jesus is not presented to people, and often times the Gospel or mere mention of Christ can provoke a negative/violent reaction. In the face of all these issues, the urgent call to live the ‘Call to Holiness’ has to be applied to myself, before I can go out and present Jesus. So from here on out, some Carmelite Spirituality is gonna be added to my diet. To pray, fast and sanctify myself.
Sanctify yourself, I was told, then you will be able to preach and sanctify others. As for the blog? It will always continue, and I guess this is another step in the ongoing conversion. I will talk about Jesus, prayer, fitness, MMA and Jiu Jitsu. (Not to mention Transformers!)
St Jude,........................................................ora pro nobis!