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Remembering My Friend Phil

October 18th, 2014 | Posted by pmpax in Reflections - (Comments Off on Remembering My Friend Phil)

This is a post that has me going in two different directions. One the one hand, I have an obligation to write this, for I was asked to put down “on paper” some remembrances of my friend Phil who passed away recently. As you can presume, having to write about a dear friend who is no longer with us is tough, because the hard reality is that I won’t see his big smile or hear his hearty laugh anymore. These last few years have been one filled with a lot of family and friends who have passed away. I reckon I am at the age in life when this is what is more of a common occurrence, though it certainly doesn’t make it any easier. My prayer lists for those close and dear to my heart has been sadly increasing in length.

My hope of course is in Christ and in His Resurrection, that death has no more sting or power, for it has been soundly and resolutely defeated. That is the consolation that I have, that one day I will see my family and friends again in a place of peace, joy and happiness eternal. That is where my friend Phil waits for me and for his family and friends.

I first met Phil back in 1999, my first year teaching high school. Talk about a baptism of blood. It was absolutely brutal, but I made it through at the end. Phil was one of the reasons why I made it through that first year of teaching. He knew well the struggles that I was having trying to be a teacher without having any true or genuine experience or knowledge of how to actually do it. I remember well the first time we connect. It was during one of the faculty meetings. We were sitting by one another and he was making funny faces and noises which only myself could see or hear, being that he was covering his face so the administrator speaking would not be privy to what was taking place at the last table. Oh, how hard it was to not just bust out with an utter bellow of laughter. That is one of the aspects that I loved about having Phil as my friend, for he could just give a certain, particular look, something akin to say what Buster Keaton or the great silent comedic movie stars of a different age could do. He would have me laughing in no time at all, which of course he would start to laugh right along with me. The students would then give us quizzical looks as we walked by trying hard not to laugh, obviously not being very successful at it.

Before school, he would be in the copy room deep in study for one of his many MBA tests. I would come in and see him poured over his books. I could tell he was stressed, so I would sit down and he would look up and give a look of exasperation, which would slowly change to one of his comedic expressions and we would both start to laugh. It was salve that was much needed. He worked so hard to obtain his MBA. I know well how much of himself he put into obtaining that degree.

Besides his humor, he had a deeply reflective and introspective side. I think that is another reason why we hit it off so well, why we got so close. I shared with him my past of studying for the priesthood for four years within the collage seminary and how my Catholic/Christian faith meant much to me. It was the same for him. Phil was of the Egyptian Christian Orthodox faith. I can think back to times where we would go into the little chapel on the school campus and pray. We would come out and sit on one of the hallway benches and talk about God, life, meaning, purpose, suffering, all of the substantial and profoundly deep topics that are often seen to be too vast and personal to openly discuss with another these days.

Friday after school, a group of teachers would go out and “debrief”. We would alternate between a few of the local restaurants and have some drinks and food. Phil and I would sit there just start to laugh without any promo or anything being said. He would just look over at me and make one of his silly faces at me and that was it! Those Fridays are one of my most cherished memories, because of the camaraderie that was formed by way of going through a similar experience of being a high school teacher. Sometimes when everyone left, Phil and I would stick around and keep chatting. We would just hang out for an hour or so longer. Those “debriefings” are cherished memories to say the least!

One of the last times I saw Phil before he left to go live oversees for employment opportunities, he picked me up and we went to a local Carls Jr. to have lunch. For whatever reason, he was craving a Carl’s hamburger, so off we went! I can still think back to sitting in his car, driving down Pershing with the airplanes flying overhead as they had just taken off, the semi overcast beach haze was still hiding the sun. He was sharing his frustrations about how difficult it was to find a good woman to marry. He was telling me about some of his recent dating episodes. It goes without saying that he had me laughing at some of the stories he shared about going out with this or that girl. None of them were right for him. Naturally he was frustrated at not having someone in his life to share. I just mentioned how it would happen for him in Gods time, that he would find the perfect wife who God would send. Turns out I was right, for he did find the perfect wife. Suffice to say, Gods ways are not our ways and that it is all a mystery for us on this side of things.

Phil gave me a gift one day, an Orthodox cross that I have had within my room for all of these years. I see it everyday, for I have it in a prominent place. When I would see it, my mind would of course turn to Phil and I would wonder how he was doing, how I missed him. Now when I see it, I think upon our friendship and the dear memories I have of him.

A few months before he passed away, Phil kept coming to my mind when I was praying my nightly Rosary. I knew intuitively that something must be going on with him, but I didn’t have any idea as to the particulars. While it was uncanny that he would come to my mind when praying, I simply took it as a message that my friend needed my prayers. So pray I did. It was a few weeks back that I came home from being out and happened to check online, receiving a message from a mutual friend that Phil passed away from cancer.

I just sat in my chair, the answer finally revealed as to why I was being beckoned to keep Phil in my prayers.

A few Sundays back, I went out to the beautiful Christian Egyptian Orthodox church that Phil loved to go and pray in. I had the privilege to meet his older brother, sister and cousins, along with other close family friends who were family to Phil. I wish that I could have met them sooner, with Phil introducing me to them all. I wish that I could have been there for his funeral and to be there for his wife and young son.

Life is not fair and it certainly is a struggle in so many ways. Though it is also beautiful and worth every moment. While I don’t have an answer as to why my friend had to leave us too soon, I do know that I just have to accept it and recognize that it is ultimately part of God’s loving plan and providence.

Suffice to say, I am a better person to have known Phil and to have him as my friend.

God bless and keep him…and may we be reunited in heavenly joy one day.

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Good Friday (Christ on the Cross)

April 18th, 2014 | Posted by pmpax in Reflections - (Comments Off on Good Friday (Christ on the Cross))

Christ on the Cross - Albrecht Durer

Found a simple, yet deeply profound reflection upon Good Friday, which I posted upon my Saintland web page.

Link: Preparation For Good Friday

Lent Is Upon Us

March 6th, 2014 | Posted by pmpax in Reflections - (Comments Off on Lent Is Upon Us)

After having a way awesome Fat Tuesday, which included going to an all you can eat Mongolian BBQ restaurant (It was SO good!!!) with my friends Vince and Theresa, where we discussed G.K. Chesterton’s work Orthodoxy, as well as bouncing around various spiritual/religious/life topics. After dropping them off, I went out and picked up my buddy Matt and headed to our mutual friends Mark and Vanessa, where they made this massive spaghetti, salad and garlic bread feast (It was SO good!!!).

Following dinner, we watched the new Agents of Shield tv show, which had me both gripping the seat and yelling out loud at what was transpiring on the screen, the show rocked!!! Oh, lest I forget to mention, Mark showed us the Marvel short film Hail To The King, which was included upon the Thor Dark World Blu Ray. Without giving away any “spoilers” it was way fun and left me wanting MORE! And it even had this one actor who I will not mention even though I really really want to, because he was WAY awesome and I pulled a Sam Kinison when I saw him on screen…here is a hint: He was in Iron Man 2!!!!

It goes without saying that my Fat Tuesday was totally epic!!!!!!

Now though, it is time to get serious, for Lent is upon us.

Lent for those who may not be aware starts on what is known on Ash Wednesday, where we Catholics receive upon our foreheads ashes with the words spoken by the priest, “Memento, homo, quiz pulvis es, et in pulverem reversers.” That translates to :

“Remember, Man, that you are dust, and into dust you will return.”

It is a reminder for us that life will one day end for us, that we are to go before God and give an account of our life and how we have lived out this gift of His.

Thus, over a period of 40 days, it is a time to deeply reflect upon the essence of life, God’s goodness, justice and mercy, which is ultimately summarized through the Passion and Death of Christ upon the Cross as an offering to the Father Himself as the means of salvation due to the wages of our sin and disobedience. The fall of Adam and Eve within the Garden of Eden was one whereby they disobeyed God and ate the fruit which was forbidden to them, after which Adam had the gall to blame everyone other than himself, even God for his own failure and falling into sin!

I often wonder if Adam and Eve had just told the truth and come forward and told God what they had done right off the bat and that they were sorry, if God would have forgiven them right then and there and would have given them a lesser punishment.

Yet, the hard reality that we find ourselves in is that unfortunately sin and evil are very much something which we have to face and deal with within our lives, notwithstanding that we are also going to die at some point in the future.

God within the Garden said to Adam after eating the forbidden fruit, “In the sweat of they face thou eat bread till thou return to earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.” (Genesis 3:19)

There are other references to dust and ash throughout the Old Testament. The king who converted back to following God after hearing the preaching of Jonah wore sackcloth and sat in ashes as a sign of his repentance. When Abraham is talking with God, he says Him that “I am dust and ashes.” (Genesis 18:27)

The ashes upon our forehead are a means by which to remind us of hard truths, ones that is inescapable. We have and do sin, we will die.

They act as a symbol, as well as a reminder. There is a reason why they are placed upon our forehead. We are reminded to think!

In thinking we can reflect. Through reflection we can alter how we act. By changing how we act, we can adjust how we live our life.

During Lent, we can ponder Gods love for us, His sacrifice for us upon the Cross and how truly horrendous and detestable sins are to God. Christ took upon Himself the wages of our sins, which was the culmination of His passion and death in order to free us from death and eternal perdition. Christs whole mission is to restore us in relationship to the Father, so that we can have that intimate bond with which was lost back within the Garden of Eden. There can be no Easter without there being a Good Friday. There can be no Easter joy without there being a Good Friday Passion.

Lent is a time spent in mediation upon these sacred mysteries of the Passion, Death and ultimately the Resurrection of Christ. It is the greatest mystery of all mysteries.

I just learned that the word for humble comes from Humus…meaning lowly and upon the ground…upon the Earth…alluding and referring to dust! Humility is the polar opposite of pride, which is the very essence of rebellion and of being of hard heartedness. Sin comes forth from pride, whereas humility allows for us to acknowledge our sinfulness and our need for God’s mercy, so that our connection and innate relationship with Him (and others) may be healed and brought whole once more.

Upon my Saintland web page, I posted a sermon on The Holy Season of Lent. It is well worth the read.

As for myself, I shall do my very best to be faithful to my particular Lenten “goals”.

It goes without saying that the Season of Lent is quite the challenge! Please pray for me that I will be constant this Lent and I will keep you within my prayers as well.

May the peace of God and His mercy shine forth to you during this Holy Season of Lent.

adorationofthecrossb

RIP Paul Walker

December 5th, 2013 | Posted by pmpax in Reflections - (Comments Off on RIP Paul Walker)

Posted a short reflection and video that Universal released dealing with the tragic passing of Paul Walker.

Link: Paul Walker RIP

Paul-Walker-in-Fast-Furious

Down With Black Friday

November 29th, 2013 | Posted by pmpax in Reflections - (1 Comments)

A small, independent little company that I very much respect and support make non gmo energy bars, which I very much enjoy eating is called Larry and Lenny. They had a question on their FB page this morning asking,”What’s your opinion about Black Friday; Love it or Leave it?”

Here was my response:

Leave it to my way of thinking…without coming across all wacky taffy, I do believe that our society/culture is too materialistic focused. We don’t need all all this stuff to make us happy…we need to focus more on the simpler, deeper things…I can enjoy a gift and the thought and consideration behind the giving of a gift without all of the “hype” of the holiday season. I am all for the free market and for businesses to succeed, but I also believe that we need to also focus on what truly matters…the family, our friends, treating one another with courtesy and respect. How much courtesy and respect will be shown today in the shopping frenzy of today? I am going to spend visiting some friends today. Who knows maybe we will share a Fit bar*.

* One of the non-gmo energy bars that they make, which I purchase to nom on.

Link: Lenny and Larry

So what is your take on Black Friday?

Happy Corporategiving

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The Owls

October 16th, 2013 | Posted by pmpax in Reflections - (Comments Off on The Owls)

The other night, when all was quiet and still, I heard a sound which caught my attention. Stopping what I was doing at the computer, I turned toward my open window and listened for what I thought was a very faint, but unmistakable sound of one of my beloved owl. A number of moments passed without hearing anything other than a passenger jet plane taking off from the local airport. Still I listened. Then, there it was, the distinct, definitive hoot of a Great Horned Owl!

I immediately got up and went outside to the backyard, Jake and Bear my two dogs looking at me in wonder as to ask what was going on. Standing outside in the dark, I must have look like one of those “odd” and ‘peculiar” neighbors, especially with my hands cupped over my ears so as to better maximize my hearing. Way off within the distance, I could discern the unmistakable territorial hooting duet of a pair of the Great Horned Owls. Closing my eyes, so as to clear all visual and mental distractions, so I could just take in the sounds that I have missed for over a years time.

I can’t describe how much comfort hearing the owls brought me, for it means that they have found a suitable nest which replaced the ones that they occupied before the developer tore out the grand, venerable Eucalyptus trees behind the house and erected the new monstrous homes.

Mother Nature finds a way as the old adages goes. I went to sleep with my window open, listening to my beloved owls making known their stately and solemn presence to all within the neighborhood.

Suffice to say, I had a good, sound sleep knowing my beloved owls were close by.

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45 Lessons Of Life

April 11th, 2013 | Posted by pmpax in Reflections - (Comments Off on 45 Lessons Of Life)

I came across this little story about Regina Brett, who is 90 years old where she shares some of the wisdom she gained over the course of her life. Simple, wonderful pearls of wisdom that I know I need to better incorporate within my life.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short – enjoy it.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don’t worry, God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need.
42. The best is yet to come…
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

 

Christ Is Risen

March 31st, 2013 | Posted by pmpax in Reflections - (Comments Off on Christ Is Risen)

Christ is Risen!

Alleluia!

I woke up today after a very long, but awesome day yesterday walking around WonderCon with my buddy Matt, interviewing for our Matt and Pat show, all sorts of talented artists, writers, passionate comic and film lovers, as well as just some really neat and quirky people!

Afterwards, we had a sit down dinner with the 501st Legion members, who spent the day dressed up in their various Star Wars film accurate costumes performing their duties to raise money for charity. It was the type of meal which all meals should be, filled with good friends, amusing and lively conversation and most importantly truly a sense of sharing a meal together.

This morning, after a sound sleep, I awoke whereby my immediate thought was to say a simple prayer of gratitude to Christ and acknowledge the unique and significant meaning of this day of His resurrection.

It is by way of His resurrection that our faith in Christ rests. If there is no truth to the resurrection of Christ, then the faith in Him is all for naught. This singular moment some two thousand years ago marks the pinnacle and epoch of what the purpose and defining meaning of Jesus. He overcome sin and death, whereby He reconciles us to the Father.

If we were to take some time to reflect upon the full scope and magnitude of what He has accomplished by His life, death and resurrection, I content that it certainly would change not only our perceptions of life, but how we act towards those we come in contact with on a daily basis.

At some point in time, we too will take part within His resurrection as well. The depth and mystery of the love that God has for us and the awesomeness of that reality by way of what the resurrection truly means, I find to be overwhelmingly, wondrously staggering.

May your Easter be filled with love, peace and also a deep sense of inner joy at the salvation Christ has enacted on our behalf!

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Good Friday

March 29th, 2013 | Posted by pmpax in Reflections - (Comments Off on Good Friday)

Today marks one of the most significant days of the year for me, that of Good Friday. It is upon this day whereby God, who became man, died upon the cross for our salvation. This singular act of history is the summation of what defines love. Love is ultimately sacrificial, for it always proceeds outwards and towards the beloved. We are God’s beloved children, who even though we sin through all manner of degrees of selfishness and pride, He nevertheless lays down His very life for our salvation and freedom.

My hope and prayer for all is that today is one filled with the realization of the great sacrificial act of love that God takes upon Himself for us. May we be humble in our quiet reflections and know that the love God has for each one of us is unending and truly unconditional.

Good Friday2

Missing My Trees and The Owls

March 3rd, 2013 | Posted by pmpax in Reflections - (Comments Off on Missing My Trees and The Owls)

Yesterday evening, I went over to my friends Vincent’s place to watch a movie on Padre Pio. He was a Capuchin monk (an offshoot of the Franciscans), who was a mystic and one who had the stigmata of Christ. One of the enigmatic aspects of Padre Pio was the gift bestowed by God to “read’ the sins of those who he came into contact with. He would hear confessions for hours on end, oftentimes ten hours at a time. There are many miracles of healing and other such wondrous occurrences that are arbitrated to him as well. He truly lived a life devoted to Christ, which was filled with suffering in the midsts of his service to others. What I find so intriguing is that he is very much a contemporary of our times, since he lived between 1887 to 1968. I need to read more of his life.

It was refreshing to watch a movie that was “faith” based, for as much as I enjoy my action films, sitting down with a buddy and partaking a film that deals with the lifelong struggles of a man who is trying to follow as faithfully as he can the life of Christ. The life of a Christian is one lived within the shadow of the Cross, where there is the reality of suffering, ones own, as well as those around us. Yet, it is also coalesced with inner joy of doing our own little part within the much grander and mystery of this wondrous quilt that God is crafting throughout our life. Hope admixed with long-suffering, along with forgiveness and love in light of hurts and sorrows are the cornerstones of the Christian life.

While the film was four hours long, it totally held my interest as to what going to happen to Padre Pio as he tells these stories of his life to a visiting Vatican priest who is there to get to the truth of just who is sitting before him. I called how the film would end once the main antagonist confronted Padre Pio. Vincent remarked, “Oh, your good!”

Afterwards, I came home and went to bed, only to be awoken from a dream where I heard my mom call out my name. Towards the later part of her life, she would call out to me at night if she needed something, knowing that I would always awake at the sound of her voice. Oftentimes, it was just to sit there with her to help keep the loneliness and fear away for a bit.

After some time laying awake, just listening to the silence of the night, all was interrupted by the unmistakable drunk laughter of my new neighbor. It was at 2:30 am, when she, her husband and a friend of theirs must of come home from a night out on the town, for they cranked up some horrid music and let the alcohol flow.

I couldn’t help think of how I missed the beautiful and venerable old Eucalyptus trees that once stood proudly where now sits their “lovely, contemporary” home. I just laid in bed longing for the nights where I would hear the leaves rustling as the wind moved through the trees. I missed too hearing the family of owls that made their home within the strong, study branches, where they would call out at night for any who might hear their sonorous hoot…hoot…hoot.

Eventually, the little soiree ended. All was quiet and still once again. I wondered what Padre Pio would have thought. I wondered where my beloved owls have moved to and if they managed to find a good home for themselves. I wondered how mom was in the afterlife. I got up and sat with Jake our Golden Retriever. Dogs always are reassuring, just ask Charlie Brown.

I miss my beloved tress and the owls.

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