Category Archives: Who am I?

2011 has begun.

Happy new year! It is 2011, and the continuation of year 33 for me: It is time for me to become a better person and to get started on my mission. I have several goals for this year, all of them involve being faithful to God’s grace:

To keep writing, prolifically; to work on my website that will incorporate my graphic design work; to maintain an orderly, generalized schedule of prayer, work, study and recreation; to be more thoughtful and prayerful. In a word,  I wish to share all that I have and all that I am with everyone I encounter this year.

It’s a working list right now. I know I can’t accomplish these or any other goals by myself. God’s grace is required. All I need to do is to cooperate with grace and for that I need grace. Fortunately, the year starts with promise: January 1 is always the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God… she will help me to receive the grace I need to accomplish everything I need to accomplish this year. I’m going to have her be with me as I embark on my journey through 2011 and the rest of my life.  Dear Holy Virgin, chosen by our Creator to be his mother, through you I have received Life,  through you I wish to live it to the fullest. I have work to do.

Please pray for one of my nurses–it doesn’t look good.

As you, my readers, know, i require home-health nurses to assist me during the day and at night. Since i’ve been on a ventilator for 6 years now, many nurses have come and gone; over time, some become friends. I have learned some very sad news about one of my friends: the night shift nurse who has been assisting me from the time tracheostomy tubing and ventilators were new for me, is in a diabetic coma. I was also informed that he suffered a sudden stroke that left him blind and paralyzed on one side. It’s truly shocking because he seemed so healthy.

Mr. C, as i’ll call him here, is in his early 60s and is a Vietnam vet–for six years he practically never missed a shift; once, he even pitched camp for three days at my house during a blizzard–nobody else would have done that. Because he had the time, he would even accompany my family and i when we traveled to New York to visit my sister–a very big help as you can imagine. We’ve had several interesting conversations on a wide variety of topics; he always asked me what i thought about the particular issue. In short, the man treated me like a son.

Please pray for him and his family. I don’t know what to do right now other than pray. God can do anything.

New wheelchair soon…

Just two minutes after two o’clock I realized that I had an appointment today… I was scheduled for a two o’clock assessment for a new wheelchair at  a rehabilitation center 30 minutes away! Thankfully,  the therapists waited for me and managed to work everything out. I will be getting an easier to maneuver control system which will enable me to drive my chair at the slightest push of a finger. It will take a lot of practice for me when I get it so please pray for me.

Essays, Nobel peace prizes, and Anglicans

It’s been a real long time since I actually posted more than one paragraph to this blog.

I have been busy with my English 101 class. As some of you know, I am taking some undergraduate classes with a view towards a BA in Theology, God willing. Anyway, I have been brushing up on my writing and critical reading skills.

Already I’ve written two essays, one of which is still in rough draft format. The first essay was a narrative on a personal experience that I had. The topic was about the consequences of being forced into religious practice. It was based on Mr. Langston Hughes’s essay Salvation in which he gives his experience of losing faith because he was forced into accepting Christ. My thesis was a complete opposite of this. I wrote about how being “forced” into accepting spiritual direction was the best thing that ever happened to me because it increased my faith by leaps and bounds. I hope to share a link to this essay very soon.

The second essay that I’ve written is a comparison-contrast essay on procrastinators versus non-procrastinators. This was very appropriate for me to write about since I have tendencies towards procrastination — as some of the readers of this blog can easily surmise. I also hope to share this essay as well — heck I could share all of them here.

I had wanted to write a little bit about current events that are happening in the United States as well as around the world. The first item was about the fact that our president received the Nobel peace prize. I was totally stunned when I heard that Pres. Obama had received this distinguished honor. I just can’t figure out what he did. I mean everybody knows why Mother Teresa got the Nobel Peace Prize. My question is what did our President to deserve such an honor? Talking about peace is well and good but the President didn’t do anything — not yet anyway. Moreover, the president wages war on unborn children in their mothers wombs… I seem to recall that Mother Teresa said the greatest cause of nuclear war today is abortion. Anyway, I think Mr. Obama should have turned it down. It would have been quite the noble thing to do.

Another event is the Pope’s invitation to Anglicans who are not happy with the state of affairs in the Anglican Communion to enter into the Catholic Church. Traditional Anglicans have actually talked the Pope about simplifying the process for them to enter. It’s estimated that around 400,000 Anglicans including priests and bishops will take the Pope up on his offer. Married Anglican priests have the option to seek Catholic priesthood once they enter the Church. Just a parenthetical reiteration — married men can, under certain circumstances, become Catholic priests but Catholic priests can never get married.

Well that’s all I really had right now. I’m going to work on assignment for my class now.

God bless.

PS: please continue to pray for abortion free healthcare for all.

Purchase Responsibly

I’ve been hunting for the lowest price on some graphic design software… Adobe Creative Suite 4 upgrade. The retail value is $699 until August 31 when it goes back up to $799. And we’re talking about the upgrade (from Creative Suite 2). The full version is $1200… something like that. Not cheap. Just the other day I saw the upgrade I was looking for on sale@Amazon.com for $599. Unfortunately it’s selling for $699 now. Instead of purchasing it when I saw the low price, I foolishly waited and looked for a lower price. I did not follow through. I did not prudently take the opportunity that God presented before me. God knows what we need even when it is a material good. Not that God is some kind of slot machine who gives us whatever we want whenever we want it just because we want it. I’m talking about when we need something in order to fulfill our duties in our state of life. (God wills that we do everything that we do to the best of our ability) He wants us to be vigilant in being materially responsible and in guarding ourselves from the greed of unbridled materialism.

Dominic, Grace…

Since today is the Feast day of St. Dominic, I would like to share the following reflection about my sister. What’s the conection? Read on…

My sister was vested in the holy habit of the Order of the Sisters of Life and received her new religious name on Thursday, June 5th. That weekend my family and i were able to visit the convent in the Bronx.

After the six-hour drive on Saturday, we were greeted by a group of happy nuns standing outside of the convent anticipating our arrival. I wondered what i would think to see my sister in a full habit. After about 5 seconds she looked perfectly normal; she was meant to wear that habit. “So who are you?” was the first question I asked her. “Sr. Grace Dominic”. It makes perfect sense for her to have that name extolling “the grace of the Lord” and honoring our mother. We proceeded to greet the other sisters and chat a little bit about the nearest White Castle (we were hungry) among other things. Sr. Grace Dominic excitedly showed me her new weapon, a St. Benedict medal crucifix attached to the rosary hanging from the side of her habit (please read about the significance of the medal here). Then we went to a nearby Italian restaurant for lunch.

The sisters live in a pretty quiet and peaceful neighborhood of the Bronx, NY. Their convent is right across the street from St. Francis de Chantal Parish and bears the same name. After lunch we came back to the convent for holy hour and Vespers with the sisters. Sister Mary Karen had arranged the evening prayers in the parish church because I could not get to the convent chapel. All the new novices and their families sat together as we prayed the rosary. During slient adoration I was struck by the majesty of the Eucharistic Lord in the tabernacle and felt at peace by the fact that he called my sister to be his very own. She is a sister of LIFE—Jesus is our Life. The heavenly voices of the sisters blended with ours as we joined them for vespers ( evening prayer of the Church) which followed holy hour In front of the Blessed Sacrament. It was all very beautiful.

That night the sisters had a cookout with all the families of the new novices. I met several of the sisters (some for the 2nd time) including the the five new novices who were invested along with my sister. I am still working on some of their names. Their families came all over—the closest family came from Canada and the furthest came from California.

Sunday was visitor’s day. Henrietta (Sister Grace) was happy to see some of her friends and local relatives. We went to Holy Mass and spent the afternoon with the sisters along with their friends and family members. Sr. Grace showed us around the convent… i remained on the lower floor (where the kitchen, laundry and rec room are ocated). I saw where they keep their books, bikes and desserts (they have more books). Sr. Michaela and i chatted for a while… we were joined by Sr. Mary Gabriel who shared some funny stories about the new novices. She said that they were all crying and hugging each other when they saw themselves with their new veils and habits for the first time. Sister Mary Gabriel also mentioned that she saw my sister do a double take when she passed by her own reflection exclaiming “I’m a nun!” I had the privilege of conversing with most of the nuns and i even got a chance to speak with the Mother Superior, Mother Agnes. They all love having my sister around. I was inspired, edified and consoled by all of them. Sr. Charlotte reminded me about how everything in this world is only temporary including the separations and suffering we experience. This life is short and we will all be inseparably united with each other forever where there will be no pain. And in the meantime, for those of us who are Catholic, we are all connected to each other every time we receive Holy Communion worthily.

It is truly a blessing for me that God chose my sister to be such a witness– a powerhouse of grace overflowing onto those who even look at her! That reminds me of the time that we were together driving or walking in the Bronx — a man standing on the street smiled in our direction, and then he bowed. I was a little perplexed as to what this was all about. It only made sense to me when I looked past my shoulder — of course! The habit! My sister is a nun! later, she told me that it’s common for random people to stop and notice her as she’s passing by.

Sister Michaela made sure I had sufficient time alone with my sister. Henrietta, with tears in her eyes the entire time, shared some of beautiful experiences and reflections with me. During the hair cutting part of her investiture ceremony, she saw Jesus ( with the eyes of faith) beside her stroking her hair and holding the scissors. In her heart she felt that she was giving everything to him even to the hair on head! She realized that it was all a matter of giving back the gift to the One Who had given it to her in the first place.

When it was time for us to say goodbye I was completely at peace–the kind that surpasses all understanding. As we were leaving the convent, Sister Grace Dominic shouted “for the glory of God!”

The Eucharist my Life

Sunday was the Solemnity of Corpus Christi—The day when the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Holy Eucharist, the Body of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine.

In the Road to Emmaus account of Easter Sunday morning recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke, the two disciples haven’t recognized that the stranger they are walking with is the Risen Lord. But when they stopped, they pleaded with him, “stay with us”. And so he did. And so he does. He was revealed to them in “the breaking of the bread”. That’s exactly how he answered their plea to stay with them—in the breaking of the bread. Jesus Christ stays with us in the Holy Eucharist!

When Jesus ascends to the right-hand God the father the disciples ask him “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

[7] He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.
[8] But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama’ria and to the end of the earth.” (Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 1)

Jesus ascends into Heaven as King and will come back as King. The kingdom has already begun. It is now. It is the Catholic Church. This kingdom is for every person. Christ’s disciples are the emissaries and soldiers to spread the kingdom into the whole world. Jesus is saying to them and to us — I’m sending you to build up the kingdom. The Holy Spirit comes with power to set this world ablaze.

So Christ ascended into heaven. He leaves but he never really leaves us. He promised the Holy Spirit– the power to live Jesus and spread him throughout the world. It is in the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus can still be with us—above all in His real abiding and substantial presence in the Holy Eucharist. The gift of the Holy Spirit enables Priestly ordination which ensures that the Risen Jesus—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—remains on this earth unto the end of the ages.

(Those were my thoughts around the time of Pentecost. The reason for my delay in posting them—I began struggling with a decision involving the change of nurses who work with me. Jesus knows all about it.)

What a great consolation that will be with us till the very end. It’s real consolation that I felt during our visit with my sister and the other nuns (upcoming post)… we had the opportunity for Adoration.

Eucharistic adoration was amazing… my soul was regenerating and I felt alive again. Being present to the one who is present did me a lot of good. And could have asked for more heavenly atmosphere surrounded by the religious sisters around me? It was cosmic.

Last Sunday when the priest was talking about the Holy Eucharist I realized the truth of his words— when I have a problem or decision I need to bring it before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. That is what Eucharistic Adoration is all about. Being present to the one who is present. And now that I’m struggling with the outcome of the decision I mentioned earlier, I know I need to bring everything to Jesus in this way. If I can’t make it to be right in front of him, I know that I can always make a holy hour spiritually.

Just another thought before I close…. A while back I was finishing up the Return of the King, the last book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The hobbits make their way up to Mount doom. Their quest seems almost hopeless.. so close yet so far. They went without food for days. If it wasn’t for the bread of the Elves that they consumed earlier, they’d have died a long time ago. Yet another type Catholic in the trilogy that left me astounded. God provides for us beyond what we can possibly imagine.

What technical difficulties?

Last Wednesday i got a call from the Apple Store that my computer was ready to be picked up. A few minutes later i got another call: “Don’t panic… i just broke your lcd screen while cleaning it… we have to send it back to be fixed”. Unbelievable… Thankfully my cousin was there and she told me not to accept but to ask for a new computer. So… i now have a shiny brand new Macbook Pro.

The Lord surpasses all expectations.

Technical difficulties

Apparently my computer has a hardware problem — it keeps freezing.  The hardware test that came with my Mac detected something wrong with the video card… I can really use it until I get this checked out.  So how am I writing this?  My cousin is letting me use her computer that has Dragon’s speech recognition. It’s scary fast and accurate.

I was at the hospital…

As I lay on the stretcher in the ambulance feeling high off of oxygen I was strangely at peace. As my mom and dad stood outside I smiled knowing that everything would be okay. All I heard my mom say was “wow.” I was so deprived of O2 that I was actually elated to be in that ambulance. Can you believe it?

It all started last Tuesday. I got my tracheostomy tube changed by my pulmonologist at Georgetown University Hospital. Usually right after the procedure I have a fever that goes away the next day. This time the fever did not go away. Something else was wrong—in addition to the fever, I had a sore throat, which for me is often a sign of a respiratory infection. My pulmonologist was out of the office so I talked to the doctor who was on-call. He prescribed an antibiotic (for seven days) with the words “if you don’t feel better in 2 days, go to the ER”. That was Thursday. On Friday I felt better but by Saturday I felt much worse. My natural oxygenation level had dropped. That afternoon I told my mom that I felt like I was dying. In a way I actually was dying quite literally. Another doctor who was on-call advised me to go to the ER immediately. And so we called for an ambulance: a whole crew of paramedics and firemen arrived. Later I reflected on this—I had once been rushed to the ER three years ago and I was not conscious. I received a card that read “behold I send my angel before you”. This time however I was fully conscious and it was a whole legion of angels that God sent before me.

Before the paramedics arrived, I got to speak to my sister.  I seemed to speak as if the end was fast approaching. She almost told me her chosen religious name but I stopped her. “Not yet”. The whole time I was in the hospital I felt that she was nearby. She had gotten all the Sisters of Life to pray for me…and some CFRs as well!

When I arrived at the hospital bearing the name of the holy cross I was met by a respiratory therapist who behaved rather gruffly I thought. Providentially though, another respiratory therapist came and really put me at ease. He turned out to be a real godsend throughout my time in the hospital. “We go back” he would say, all the way back to the ER”.

Sometimes the nurses in the ER can be real “you know whats”. As I waited in the ER—that ER bed was  very uncomfortable— rays of light shone through family members who were there with me.  Soon enough x-rays were taken and the doctor came by. Apparently I had a pulmonary infection in my left lung right below my heart. I would need to stay at the hospital to receive antibiotics intravenously. “Hopefully it will not be a long stay” I thought to myself.

As Lent began this year I wanted to be more fruitful than ever— this is not exactly how I thought it would turn out! The theme that I was given was from Galatians “I have been crucified with Christ it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me”

On Sunday the priest chaplain came and gave me the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. He was quite a funny guy.

Most if not all of the nurses in ICU were exceptionally kind and treated me very well. That and the presence of my family and friends really got me through the next few days.  I was incredibly struck with the realization that God works through people to show us how much He loves us. The awareness that God loves me never left me throughout the whole ordeal.  At the same time, there was a feeling of dread and darkness as the days progressed.

The roommates I had initially were very whimsical— three older gentlemen one after the other. They were really short… like less than 4 feet high. It was fun to see their interactions with the nurses and with their wives who were equally as tall as they were. But during the last two days it was as if hell moved in. The last roommate had a lot of issues from what I heard. Some of his phone conversations were let’s just say “less. What darkness he brought with him— it was disturbing in many ways.  I felt like St. Paul “I was given a thorn in the flesh to keep me from being too elated”

The best thing about being in a Catholic hospital was that I could receive our Lord in holy Communion every day. Strangely though the chaplain did not come during those last two days. On Tuesday I thought the doctor would send me home— but it was a day too soon. The doctor had seen the latest x-ray and said that it looked worse than the first! But he said that I was taking to the antibiotics very well and was very stable. He said that he would send me home on Wednesday and sure enough that is when I came home.

As I thought about it, God Our Father had everything in place for me. It was all divinely constructed. All the daily Scripture readings were pertinent to my situation. My family was there every day. The five days (three full days) were definitely not the absolute worst. As I was getting ready to leave, a sister prayed with me asking the father to receive all anxieties and troubles that remained. I’m glad that we prayed this because I certainly needed it. In fact, on my first full day home I was very depressed.  I talked to my sister a few times and that really helped. Just yesterday she got permission to come and visit me here at home! Mother Superior thought that it would help me recover quicker! And I’m happy that she’s here even though she has to leave tomorrow (Sunday). Pray for me. While I know that people need me, I am truly aware of how much I need them.

Thanks be to God!