Thursday, July 31, 2008

Let's go fly a kite

I don't know what kite boarding is. But apparently I am in the kite boarding capital of the world! So here I am learning how to fly a kite that would be used for this kite boarding stuff.

Don't think that I'll be getting out in the water to do that, but there will be more pics and videos to come from this adventure.

Tomorrow morning, I'm headed out with Blake to some Haitian worship service. Should be interesting.

Rest is highly under-rated

One of the things I'm most grateful for on this trip is the chance to relax. I slept in really my breakfast meal of the day is really lunchtime.

Last night we had dinner at El Bosque Cafe here in the Sea Horse Ranch where we're hanging out. The cafe is this tiny little hut that overlooks the ocean. It was cool hanging out Steve and Janis Maloy, who are sponsoring my trip, and Blake Wagner, the man responsible for organizing this mission trip.

Steve and Janis have such amazing hearts and will give the shirts off their backs to someone in need. And while I get to see that on a regular basis at St. James, it is very apparent here. And Blake has a boldness that is very inspiring to me. His motivation for starting this trip came while he was visiting the Dominican and mourning the loss of his 5 year old daughter. His ability to recognize the needs of others and to do something about it is very divinely inspired.

The beauty of suffering. Life from death. The paschal mystery.

So there will be more resting for me...much needed resting, I might add. I hope to get through Reasons to Believe by Scott Hahn. It's hot here, but not as bad as I thought. Guess that means I'll have to jump in the pool...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In the DR

After the long overnight flight and extended layover in New Jersey, I am now in the Dominican Republic (aka the DR). Boy am I tired, even after sleeping most of the way here. Spent the afternoon relaxing with the Maloy's in the pool and at their house.

Funny thing as we were driving in. The lushness and simplicity of the DR reminds of rural Philippines. Makes me wish I could be there soon.

The rest of the day will be spent resting. We don't move to Crossroads, the home base of our missionary trip, till Saturday. So the main objective until then is chillin'.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Do any of you think this is weird too...

Airports do not lack interesting-ness, and San Diego's Lindberg Field is no exception.

But the fact that the CPK Express serves breakfast pizza?


Now that I have that off my chest, this other thought has smacked me upside the head: I will be without my laptop and cell phone coverage for 12 days as I head off to the Dominican Republic for my mission trip. This makes me feel incredibly vulnerable. Vulnerable usually means an open heart, and an open heart is one of the most important things to pack on a trip like this.

(By the way, a mom just walked by me with her young son - 2 or 3 years old ish - walking in front of her tied to a leash. Now he's either a world class athlete in training or she thinks he's a pet. Talk about weird...)

I'm about to board. The craziness and stress of last week is starting to catch up to me. I hope I sleep all the way.

I'll post when I arrive in Newark at 6:00 am EDT (that's 9 am in the DR and 3 am here in SoCal).

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Impatience makes doubtful all certainty"

I'm as guilty as anyone of being consumed by the instant-ness of our society.  Even with things that are authentically good and holy.

As I reflected on this past weekend of being at the Steubenville conference, I decided that I want God's grace to work RIGHT NOW to make my life better, more pleasing to Him.

Then, as I was driving back from Mass this morning, this beautiful, prayer...from St. Theresa of Avila came into my heart: 

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.

I paraphrased these words and used them in my song God of Hope.  And when I wrote the words, I really didn't realize just how deep and meaningful they are.

Because the bottom line is that God's will is always done no matter what.  He promised that.  And if we believe His promise, then we need to be more patient.  Not just more patient while waiting in line to check out at the grocery, but more patient that good will come out of all of the hard, life choices we have to make every day.

And his grace is enough to make us more patient...and trusting.

I need more patience in getting ready for my trip to the Dominican Republic.  I leave tomorrow night for something I've never done, in a land I've never been to.  I'm nervous and excited.  I want to go really bad and want to stay home at the same time.  But I know that God wants me to be there.  He is desiring me to be a better servant.  And I will trust that this will be the place that I learn that.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stay tuned...

...for the Steubenville San Diego video, coming soon.

I do think so...

We just finished an amazingly long, tiring and powerful day at the Steubenville conference.

This wonderful Puerto Rican priest, Fr. Jose, taught us a simple reminder today in fighting against evil and temptation:

I don't think so, baby!

It's kind of like just saying no to sin.  And saying no to sin is the pathway to true happiness.

But, I'd like to think there is another side to this thought that makes it more complete:

I do think God revealed his presence to all of us in the beauty and simplicity of a piece of bread.
I do think God called us all by name, just like he called Mary of Magdala at the site of the empty tomb.
I do think tears are a sign of healing...and a promise to God to change.
I do think there is power in reverence and silence.
I do think there has been a lot of healing this weekend.
I do think there will be more healing to come.
I do think our Mother Mary looks out for us at every moment.
I do think we really need to respond with boldness and confidence when we hear God call our name.
I do think God really only humbles us only to exalt us.
I do think that sleep deprivation in the name of being closer to Christ is not just a bad thing.
I do think nuns are some of the coolest people on the earth.
I do think priests and seminarians are gifts that keep on giving.
I do think none of us will be the same after this weekend.  And that is a good thing.
I do think seeing old friends and making new ones is cool.
I do think we are more alike than different.
I do think we will change the world.
I do think God is love.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

God of Hope

I'm pretty humbled right now. All of the people who are in this picture inspire me by their joy, by their trust, by their desire to be closer to authentic happiness and love which is God.

I have been filled with hope, not just for these young people, but for me

I can't wait to see how the big (and small) conversions from this weekend at Steubenville will change your world and mine.

Not your ordinary kind of pilgrimage

It's very very VERY late.  And tired does not seem to fully describe my level of tired.  Now, you might be reading this thinking that I've travelled to some far away land like, say, Australia.

But, in reality, myself and 50 members of our youth ministry have made the short, half hour drive to San Diego State University for the annual Steubenville San Diego Catholic Youth Conference.

Steve Angrisano, the host of the conference, made an interesting point.  When we think of a pilgrimage, we think of the trip to a far far away land.  Yet, he offered us the idea that a pilgrimage is a journey into a holy place.  I'd say the heart of God is pretty holy.  And to think that the heart of God can be made manifest in a basketball arena is pretty darn cool.

We might not have travelled very far in physical miles, but the journey to encounter God is full of challenges and distractions from sin and evil that can drain even the most faithful Christian.

Did I mention I'm tired?

More to come from the conference (yay for mobile blogging)...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Music to my ears

I have a plethora of really good music on my iPod.  I just bought three new albums:

Where the Light is (John Mayer)
Viva la Vida (Coldplay)
3 Doors Down (3 Doors Down)

I really like the John Mayer album, which was recorded live in my hometown of Los Angeles.

However, my favorite of all three albums - in fact, my favorite of any album in my iPod - has been one with no notes and no lyrics.

I have found myself choosing the song of silence recently, especially in my car as I drive around.  So, I've been shutting off my iPod and just listening to much more than what comes out of my car audio.  

And I have to admit that I like the silence.  Helps me focus on where my heart is leading me.  Helps me to know my heart better.  Helps me connect with the One who fills my heart with love and mercy.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Will the real Batman please stand up?

I used to collect comic books.  I would buy different series, based on my interest and curiosity with different genres.  But, it's hard to be a comic book collector or even a super hero fan and not know the Batman character.

So it is with this context that I went to see the new installation of the Batman movies last night, The Dark Knight.  It is a wonderfully written and produced movie.  One of my friends who saw the film called Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker "brilliant".  And I'd have to agree with her.  The action is pretty sweet.  And, of course, Batman's toys are soooo cool.

But this movie challenged every notion I had of the Caped Crusader.  One of the interesting sub plots is the appearance of Batman impersonators.  Picture a Halloween party with a bunch of people dressed up as Batman, except those people actually believe (and act like) they are Batman.

You see, I saw Batman's life as simple:  hang out all day as a multi-bazillionaire, jump in the Batmobile and beat up on some bad guys, and keep all of it as separate and as secret as possible.  The quint-essential double life.

Ah, if only it were that easy.  For me, the darkness referenced in the title was as much about the battles of the heart as it was about the battles with the bad guys.  Christian Bale did such a wonderful job expressing this tension in his role as the main character.  I couldn't help but think that, with all the different versions of the character (not just from the comic books, but also the TV series and movie trilogy with Michael Keaton/Val Kilmer), this movie may have portrayed the most complete Bruce Wayne/Batman.  I think the real Bruce/Batman would have preferred to deal just with the Joker, his henchmen and the crime mobs of Gotham City, than the turmoil raged within him.

And what makes up his turmoil?  The opposition of loving and using.  Could be our turmoil too...

Friday, July 18, 2008

(Almost) Live from Sydney

It's been great catching the World Youth Day coverage from Australia.  But, it's even better to get e-mails and blogs and messages from people you know.

I mentioned Marko and Scott in my blog the other day.  Both of them are at World Youth Day right now.  They are friends in ministry who I have connected with over the summer to brainstorm and dream about an even more powerful youth ministry.

Scott is in charge of teen faith formation for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  He has some wonderful thoughts about how to make Catholic youth ministry work in today's context.  And Marko is the president of Youth Specialties, a San Diego-based publisher of youth ministry resources.  One of the coolest things about Marko is how willing he is to experience our Catholic tradition (he is not Catholic, but is attending WYD and has spoken at a Catholic youth minister's training sponsored by Life Teen).  

Both Scott and Marko have inspired me to think outside of the proverbial ministry box.  I pray that that process and discernment and the support I know they and others will give me will be close to God's Will.  Because doing God's Will always bears fruit.  And God likes fruit.

So, please check out Scott's and Marko's blogs from Australia.  They provide such a beautiful perspective for all of us not there.

I have to give a quick shout out to Maire, Leah, Sarah, Grant, Jon and everyone from the Gathering Youth Ministry who are in Sydney now.  Marie left this beautiful Facebook message for me this morning:

PAT!!! Australia is amazing!! I was 5 feet from the pope in his pope mobile!!!! I wish you were here!!! I'm soo pumped for steubenville!!! see you next week!!!

Oh, you NEED to go to Google Maps and get directions from San Diego (or wherever you are) to Sydney.  You won't believe your eyes....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Proud to be Catholic!

My parents, Vicente and Maria (seen on the left during our pilgrimage to Rome in 2005), are on a plane as I write this to visit our family in the Philippines.

I called them yesterday morning to wish them a good trip.  I was talking with them from a convent in National City (in southern San Diego County) where teens from my youth group and other members of St. James parish were helping the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity fix up their home.  

As I was talking to my Mom and Dad, they told me how proud they were of me for what we were doing for the sisters.  Of course, this made me feel very good.  Love and affirmation from your parents never gets old, even when you're 36.  But as the day went on, I reflected on why they both reacted this way.  It didn't really seem like that big of a deal.  Yet, it was, not just for them, but for me.

They are proud of their Catholic faith, especially when faith is lived out and proclaimed in truth.  They modeled that pride for my siblings and I as we were growing up and taught us the value of being faithful to our Catholic roots.  And now that my sister and brothers and I are all adults (or at least pose as adults), they make it a point to express their hope that we will continue to be proud to be Catholic.

But what exactly does this mean, this idea of pride in the church, pride in our religion?

After I returned home from working at the convent, I watched the coverage of the World Youth Day Opening Mass.  To see the thousands of people there and all the joy and faith (and wishing I was there) was pretty overwhelming.  One big Catholic party.

This only made me think more...

I feel proud to be Catholic.  I mean, I wear Catholic t-shirts, listen to Catholic music, I pray, I go to Mass, I read the Bible, I study up on church teaching, I try not to hurt people...that should be good enough, right?

Then Cardinal George Pell of the Archdiocese of Sydney shared his powerful words of faith, hope and love, and I couldn't help but feel like he was talking to me from 9,000 miles away when he said, "Don't spend your life sitting on the fence, keeping your options open, because only commitments bring fulfillment."

And that's when it clicked.  Showing your pride in your faith is about commitment to a person, Jesus Christ, who is made known and visible to us most powerfully and clearly through the Catholic Church.  

Wearing t-shirts, listening to music, participating in prayer and liturgy, studying, traveling to meet the Pope, even serving your community are powerful expressions of that commitment.  But if the commitment of the heart isn't there, those exterior signs have less meaning.

Pride is about still being committed even though we're not completely understanding or completely living the teaching of the church, but desire to grow closer to the truth through humility and conversion.  

Pride is knowing that the truth is a person, Jesus Christ, and that the truth loves us at all times.

Pride is understanding that putting on a Catholic t-shirt or listening to a Catholic CD or setting foot in a church for Sunday Mass carries with it a responsibility to be an outward sign of the invisible reality of God's mercy and peace.

Pride is acknowledging our Catholic faith as a gift given to us by Christ (through our parents, families, and parish communities).  It is living with hope that God will bless us in our faithfulness to Him, especially in our sin and brokenness.

While we can certainly agree that sharing our pride in our faith is challenging even in the best of circumstances, the reward that awaits us is worth all of our trouble:  Heaven.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Athlete chooses priesthood over professional soccer career

I'm not really sure that I need to say more than the title says.  You just need to read the article for yourself to know how powerful this is.

But while you're reading it, please think about this:  What are you willing to give up for Christ?

I can tell you that I'm asking myself that very question...

Monday, July 14, 2008


- I feel like I have a lot going on right now.

Getting ready for our annual trip to the Steubenville San Diego Catholic Youth Conference.  Some of you are laughing because the conference is being held in our backyard at SDSU.  While it isn't a trip in the sense of miles, it is a journey into the Sacred Heart of Christ.

I'm also getting ready to go on a vacation/missionary trip to the Dominican Republic.  I really am excited (and nervous) to go.  I'm struggling right now with that feeling of "oh-I-still-have-time-to-get-everything-done-before-I-leave-but-I-really-don't-because-the-trip-is-only-a-few-weeks-away".

- These two stories grabbed my attention today:

1. As you probably know, our world is celebrating the Summer Olympics in a few weeks.  The host country, China, has been preaching (and warning) visitors to be civil and kind during the Games.  Among the many rules include no spitting, no standing for long periods of time in the seating area, and no crossbows allowed (yes, you heard me, NO CROSSBOWS!).

This is all well and good, but aren't we supposed to be civil to each other all the time?

2. If you want to get someone to clean your room or house, give them free gas.  If you want to make new friends, give them free gas.  If you want to lead people closer to Christ, give them free gas.

- I've been blessed to meet a lot of amazing teens, families, young adults of all ages, priests, sisters and fellow youth ministers.  There are two brother youth ministers, Mark Ostriecher and D. Scott Miller, that are in Australia for the celebration of World Youth Day.  Marko and Scott will be blogging from Sydney and I'll be sharing some of their experiences with you (as well as how they've inspired me to be a better youth minister and a better man of God).

- This Friday, July 18, here at my parish, St. James, we will be celebrating the ordination to the diaconate of Ernesto Torres.  If you're Catholic and have never been to an ordination of any kind, you have a moral obligation to go.  OK, you don't have a moral obligation to go, but you really should if you want to see, feel and hear the power of Christ's grace in action.  One of the most powerful experiences in the life of our Church.  I hope to have a special blog on Ernesto later this week.

- A quick shout out to all of you who have been coming to Bible study over the summer.  One of joys of being a youth minister is praying, preparing and leading Bible study.  I hope that those who have been coming (and those who will be coming) have a powerful encounter with Christ.  I know I do.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Baseball, dying and nuns

I know what you're thinking: "What in the world do these three different things have in common?" 

Some God-inspired joy, that's what!

Think about these with me for a moment...

There is joy in baseball?  (with all the scandal and lack of virtue)  YES!
There is joy in the dying process?  (with all the sadness and suffering)  YES!
There is joy in being a nun? (living a life that is totally about the other and not you) ABSOLUTELY YES!

If you read the article/watch the video to Making Time Stand Still (a story from, you will see joy lived out in the lives of a group of people in Atlanta, brought together in the pursuit of a happiness that we cannot comprehend or create on our own.

And, you may just discover how God desires you and me to live lives of joyfulness, even in the midst of our own suffering and sorrow.

Why the dot dot dot?

For those of you who know me, I like technology.  Brings out my inner nerd.

And I'd like to think that goodness of technology - for all its imperfections and humanness (i.e. abuse and over-dependence by the very people who created and use it) - is that it gets people into relationship.

Perhaps we can think of this blog as a technology not just of communication, but a technology of, and for, relationship.

This blog is most certainly not about me.  I will share about everything from the people in my life to the joy of my ministry to my passion for sports to how a news story affects you and me to the out-of-the-ordinary thing that happened after I woke up today.

This blog is not only about my sharing my ever-evolving awareness of myself with you.  It is also, maybe more importantly, about you being drawn into a deeper awareness of and connectedness with your true, divinely-designed self.

This blog will be funny.  And sad.  And thought-provoking.  And informational.  And challenging.  And just straight-up random.

But, above all else, this blog will be about love.  Our intense need to receive it.  Our life-long mission to share it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It's nice to be home

I spend very little time at my house.  Except for today.  

I decided to clean out my office, finally get rid of my old computer and do a little bit of rearranging.  Not gonna lie...pretty proud of myself for doing that.  Definitely a long time coming.  Feels really good to get that out of the way

As a reward, I spent the evening in front of the TV (with a California Burrito from Roberto's).  I started out watching the 2003 version of The Hulk (which was pretty good, in comparison to the version release just this June).  Although, as I was watching it, I was really amazing at how the Hulk bounced around like an oversized, green kangaroo.

After that was over, I tuned into to tonight's Pardes game.  Actually, I really only tuned in because they celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the 1998 NL Championship team.  

It was really quite cool seeing all of the old players that showed up for the celebration.  I really remember that whole playoff run like it was yesterday.  Probably because I got to attend game 5 of the 1998 NLDS against the Astros at the Q.  Honestly, one of the greatest sports moments of my life.  It was SOOOO loud I had to yell at my friends sitting next to me.

On a different note, I'm very excited to follow all the happenings of World Youth Day in Australia.  Certainly a blessed time for all the pilgrims going there.  Certainly a blessed time for our whole world.

P.S.  Just finished reading this amazing book, Sword of the Spirit.  If you want some ideas on how to live true, authentic happiness here on this earth, you should pick this up.