Tuesday, October 27, 2009

God is LOVE... U & I are made by God out of love... & we are meant to love

In my prayer lately, I have been asking God to refine my heart. That He make me a better daughter of His. I have been more critical of myself lately, seeing that I still have many faults, many hangups, etc. And I have been desiring to be a better person, and God knows, and the people closest to me, who need to deal with me day in and day out, know that I have a lot of things to change. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying I have an awful personality, yet I acknowledge that I need refining. I need cutting off of some rough edges.

Rough edges that need to be cut:
1) Be more loving in how I react to conflict
2) Not be late
3) Put more order in my personal things
4) Have a more loving, giving and open heart
5) Be less insecure

I am sure there are more things to be refined in me, but these are the things that I wish to change as of now. And mind you, they are pretty difficult things to do.

From the 5, I would say I have been making improvements with #1. For the dear readers to understand how I, Cay, handles conflict, let me tell share. If I come into an argument, or if there is something wrong, these are my following reactions:
1) I turn quiet
2) I begin to ignore the person I am upset with
3) My being upset keeps replaying in my mind... and the ignoring continues
if you are my Mom, Dad or Vince - let us then proceed to #4
4) Once its all bottled up and it is about to pop, I blurt out my thoughts... and I do it in a very unloving way. I may start to raise my voice, and shout.
5) Then I argue, argue, argue and argue... I will defend my point as long as I can (there are times I think that I should have studied law, coz of the way I defend myself lol)

Anyway, these past weeks, but especially these ast days I have made improvements. They may be small, and they may not apply to all situations yet, but they are changing.

My biggest victory yet was on Sunday. I was upset about something... and I was tempted to start ignoring Vince. BUT I caught myself just at the right time... and I decided to not ignore him. What did I do:
1) I calmly opened the topic and told him what bothered me...

AND oh my did that do me good =) Notice how there was just one step and nothing else followed... coz of that ONE step... "calmly opened the topic of what bothered me", that one step led to a good conversation, which ended up, us affirming each other and allowing us to talk about the issues.

It is soooo humbling to just blurt out, in a loving way, the thing that bothers you. But you see, it is important to do so, because the other does not have super powers and cannot read your mind, like Parkman does in the series "Heroes". You may have to admit to the most lame things that bother you... but it doesn't matter... it needs to be said. And then, you get affirmed that what you are thinking is wrong... and you don't waste your time consuming your mind with the thing that bothers you.

Be sure to build up an open communication. If you do, then you have more opportunities to love! God is love... and you and I are made by God out of love. So our very essence is to be beings who love.

"There are men who would quickly love each other if once they were speak to each other; for when they spoke they would discover that their souls had only separated by phantoms and delusions." -Ernest Hello

Monday, October 19, 2009

Faith in Prayer... and Apple Pie

Greetings world,

As I am writing this I am listening to a lecture on Vatican II. Boring. Just kidding, please, if their are any bishops who were present at the ecumenical council of Vatican II that are readers of this blog, please excuse the comment. However, I must say that when you write documents you should try to use less words. It's taking me forever to read through these freaking documents.

Anyways... I was in prayer today, which was very interesting. I made the mistake of having espresso and tea all within 3 hours of my prayer time. I felt like an 8 year old who just had 5 Twix bars. I was off the wall in the chapel. I think I had enough energy to power a small house. However, I was able to get something out of prayer that was actually quite profound.

Let me ask you folks to break out your Bibles. Yes, it is a good thing. To use my current class that I am taking, Dei Verbum writes that we are to frequent Scripture in order to come to a "greater knowledge" of Jesus Christ; for "ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ." (Dei Verbum, 25.).

In other words, know your Bible if you want to know Jesus.

So the Lord told me through Scripture today that we need to be people of faith. When we pray we have to believe that it is going to come true, granted that we are praying for something that is good. (Wishing for a billion dollars, although a cool idea, may not be the best thing for us in the long run - see Matthew 19:24). Like when we pray for things like jobs, or vocations, or for our family members who are dying, we need to pray with the belief that the Lord is going to deliver!

Check it... Mark 11: 22-24
Jesus said to them in reply, "Have faith in God.
Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him.
Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be your
I think that sometimes we pray for things just for lip service. Maybe we think its like a pipe dream or that the Lord might hear us, but chances are He doesn't really care or whatever. I think we need to wake up and realize that we have a God that loves us immensely and unconditionally. He hears our prayers (even when we are vamped up on caffeine and fidgeting around in the pew) and answers them!

Ok... part 2 of my post.

Over the break I came up with an amazing invention. It's called Vince's Granola Apple Pie. I am using Nelia Santayana (my lovely girlfriends lovely mother as our guide). I helped Tita Nel bake her first pie this past week and it turned out fantastically.

Vince Granado's Granola Apple Pie:

Pie Crust:
2 cups of sifted flour
2/3 cup of vegetable oil
1/3 cup of butter milk
pinch of salt

Pie Filling:
5 apples (preferably Granny Smith or any other tart apple), peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
1/2 of salt
1 tbls of lemon juice
2 1/2 tsp of cornstarch

Pie Crust:
2 3/4 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup of flour
3/4 stick of unsalted butter
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of diced walnuts
pinch of salt

1) Preheat the oven to 190 Celsius (370 F). Make the crust by mixing the flour and salt in a large bowl. Then add the oil and buttermilk to the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and chill the dough for 20-30 minutes in the freezer. Remove from freezer and work the dough into a pie pan. I like to use a 9inch by 1 1/4inch pan (23 cm by 3.1 cm). Make sure it covers the pan evenly and that you get some to cover the top edge of the pan. I like to use a fork to get ridges at the top edge of the pan. Set the pie crust aside in the fridge.

2) Take your apples and place them into another large bowl. Add your lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg. Now mix. Lastly, add your cornstarch. Do not overmix this, just make sure the apples are evenly covered. Set aside on the counter.

3) In another bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt. Cut in the butter and then proceed to mix with your hands. Mix until it resembles a clump, but do not overmix or the butter will melt in your hands and ruin the topping.

4) Add the apple filling to the crust.

5) Take the oat topping and distribute evenly across the top of the pie. Lightly press it down if you desire.

6) Bake pie for about 30-45 minutes.

7) Remove from oven and cool.

8) Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream. Yum.

9) Pay respect to the name of the pie: "Vince Granado's Granola Apple Pie." The Lord is watching you :-)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hotel Guest Vince Granado

Good evening people of God,

I am one tired mess. I haven't gotten a lot of sleep these past days. And who is to blame? HEROES! (The television show). However, I am not here to whine and complain.

As you have read in our last blog, Vince spent his 10 day break here in Vienna, in Hotel Santayana. And you know what? It was just amazing to have him here each day. I hardly spent time with him because I would be at work for like 10hours per day, and so we would just have a few hours left, but it didn't matter. It was still perfect! I am just thankful for these breaks that he has, because it is rare that I get to see him day after day.

My favourite things we got to do this week:
1) Cook and eat splendiferous food
2) Spend time with JD, Anness & KC
3) Watch Heroes
4) Adoration
5) Have dinner with my parents
6) Watch Heroes
7) Have SFC household
8) Eat
9) Have dinner with Maria & Tom
10) Watch Heroes
11) Celebrate Gaele's bday
12) Play billards for the 1st time
13) Pray the rosary together
14) Talk about life and other important things
15) Watch Heroes

and there were so many other things we wanted to do but didn't get to:

1) Visit the Precilla's
2) Go to the movies
3) Wash my car

Oh well...

Lord, thank you for this time together. I cherish it so much, since it is not something we get to do much, spend an entire week together. Thank you God! We may not have had the amount of time we wanted to spend together and we may not have gotten to do all the things we wanted, nontheless, it has been a perfect 10 day break for Vince and for me.

Family & friends, cherish each moment given to you by the Lord to do the things you love! It's a blessing and a privelege. Never take things for granted! Enjoy, savour and be thankful for the things, people and experiences the Lord gives us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Vacation at Hotel Santayana - Day 1

Greetings world,

I am never sure what to think about vacations. When I was young, vacations meant that we pack everything we could and then listen to my family complain about things. Ok, it wasn't exactly like that the entire time, but I felt that by the end of the vacation I wanted everything but to be on vacation anymore. Even later, I found vacations to be filled with too many activities (snorkeling, hiking, surfing, going here and there, etc.). Too much stuff to do and very little time to actually rest! But more recently I have had the opportunities to be on vacations where I actually got lots of opportunity to sleep. I have discovered that my favorite activity to do on a vacation is sleep. Why? Because I never get enough of it.

Currently, I have one week of vacation, and I have made it a point to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. I am staying at the Santayana's residence in Vienna and it has been a treat!

Here is what I did today:

1) I slept for 11.5 hours last night
  • I went to bed at around 12:30am
  • I was woken up by my boss at around 9am, but then fell back asleep
  • When I woke up I felt like I was a completely new man. I also felt a little dizzy.
2) I woke up and had coffee, and then started working on my Master's papers
  • Nothing beats having coffee first thing in the morning, er, afternoon.
  • Tita Nel started making lunch and it smelled amazing.
  • I love writing about Theology, but I hate having to set aside time. It's one of the difficulties of my life, trying to fit in time to do things. I know that everyone has the same hours in a day, but don't you ever wish you had like 3 extra hours?
3) I went running
  • I was energized off the coffee and feeling good. Oh yeah.
  • I love running, also something that I have had a hard time scheduling in my life recently
  • I pumped some good tunes through my Ipod (Beach Boys, Black-eyed Peas, Jason Mraz)
  • I though of the delicious lunch that was awaiting me
4) Had lunch and then started baking an apple pie
  • Lunch was fantabulous. Shrimp pasta with basil and oregano with a Rucola salad. Life is good.
  • I made an apple pie. I love baking and cooking. To me that is therapy. Some people like painting, and some like shopping. Me, I like cooking and baking.
5) I went to Mass, Confession, and Adoration
  • Could my day get any better? Three pillars of my spiritual life. Getting to go to Mass, confess my sins, and then sit with the Lord. What more could I ask for?
6) Met up with my lovely girlfriend and some friends for dinner.
  • After adoration we met up at Stephansplatz in downtown Vienna. We headed to a restaurant called Fresco Grill. It is like a Qdoba or Chipotle. It made me miss the USA. I even had a Dr. Pepper (which is difficult to find here in Europe). The burrito I had was excellent, and I'll probably be working it off for the next week.
  • After dinner we venture the cold weather in hopes to reach this Austrian restaurant for beer, however the public transportation was having technical problems and we settled for TGI Friday's instead. I had the Oreo Madness and a hot chocolate. Like I said again - Life is good.
  • From Friday's we walked back to Stephansplatz and headed home. Cay fell asleep in the car. It was cute.
It was an extremely productive day despite me waking up at noon. What is the moral of the story? Don't wake up until noon everyday. No I am kidding.

But seriously, when you have the opportunity to get lots of sleep. Do it. You will be so much more productive. I think.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Beauty in it's Purest sense...

Dear family & friends,

I sit here at the dining table, waiting for dinner to be ready. And I have finally taken the time to write my next entry. It has been a quite delayed entry, I just really couldn't find the time to write. I have though, "written" my entry in my mind. I would find myself thinking of the things I would say in the blog.

My entry will take us back to October 2-5, 2009, to one of my favorite places in the world, Gaming in lower Austria. I try to get-away from the city life during weekends and go to a peaceful place. And that is what Gaming offers, it is my peaceful weekend get-away. I will never tire from bragging about Gaming, it just is really a perfect place to experience God, His beauty in creation and His beauty in the people He created.

This weekend in Gaming, I spent Saturday early afternoon accompanying Vince and one of the Franciscan students for a hospital trip. Many of the Franciscan students have been falling ill these past weeks and Vince has made numerous trips to the hospital in the next larger town, Scheibbs. So this trip was I believe, his 6th or 7th of that week. And by the nth number of trips to the hospital, the nurse at the reception already knew Vince :-)

Just to side track, the hospital was nice. All the staff we encountered there were really nice and accommodating. They all spoke English, which was great for a sick student who already felt like crap.

Anyway, my blog is not really about the hospital trip, rather it is about the trip from the hospital back to Gaming. Vince was driving, the student was quiet in the back seat, and me, Cay, in the front passenger seat. What I like doing when driving towards Gaming or from Gaming, basically the time between Scheibbs and Gaming (15mins), I try to enjoy the beauty of God's creation. And on that Saturday afternoon sitting in the front passenger seat with quiet car mates, I was doing that very thing, laying my eyes on God's trees, mountains and skies. I allowed my eyes get lost in the beauty of nature, and thus my thoughts too. I sat there, gazing into the vast greenery, and said to myself, "These mountains are beautiful. The sky looks heavenly. And look at those beautiful, healthy, green trees. Gosh, they have grown to be so beautiful!"

That very thought led me to the next one, "There is no "gardener", who looks after these trees. They simply grow on their own, no one in charge of watering them, trimming them, etc."

Then I thought, "These trees don't have to worry about looking good. They don't need to add something to them in order for them to be beautiful. They don't even worry about what they should eat, or what they should do for the day. And still, they are so wonderful to eyes of man!"

After deducting all this, I began to think, "Why then do we humans worry so much? We worry about what we will eat, how much money we will have, what to wear so we look good. Basically we worry about this and that... and the worrying never ends.

My dear family and friends, we have a heavenly Father who cares for us. He will never abandon us. Look at the mountains, they just look majestic without them having to make themselves look majestic. Our Father allows them to be amazingly beautiful. His creation can be beautiful in its purest sense... no artificial substances, make-up, fashionable clothes, no need for them to change themselves to be accepted... they can just BE beautiful! It is the loving Father who makes all things beautiful!

Our business in this world is to make ourselves, our hearts, souls and minds beautiful for the Lord. If that is our goal then be assured, you will be taken cared of and you will radiate beauty in its purest sense. The beauty that God laid into your very heart will be the one radiating from your soul. And it will be the beauty that cannot be made beautiful through the worldly ways, but it is simply BEAUTIFUL, because it springs from the The most beautiful among us... OUR GOD!

Friday, October 2, 2009

The trip to Poland (part 3)

Hello again,

This is my second post tonight. But I wanted to post something that showed the beauty of Poland and the vibrant things that are happening nowadays. With the Nazis and Communists behind her, Poland is striving to move forward and rebuild. We were able to spend some time in Krakow last weekend, which was incredible! The city is beautiful. It has an old world charm, with a young twist. I think the twist is due to the very active University located in the central part of the Old Town. The city is literally busting out of the seams with young students. It is the hope of the nation; we just need to pray that the youth have learned from the past and are making advances in their academics that will benefit the society by bringing about a fair and free leadership.

To the right are pictures of Perogis. I think this might be my favorite Polish food. So good! We found this posh little Polish restaurant off the main street in the Old Town. The cool thing is that the place is open 24 hours. Gotta love that especially in Europe where 24 hour places are a rare find.

The second place I went to eat was on Sunday after Mass at the Cathedral. The name of the restaurant was called Stare Mury. Fantastic food! I had a nice cup of coffee, eggs, and what else but, Perogis! However, I must say that the place I went to previous had better Perogis.

Okay, so you might be asking, where are the rest of the pictures. I am sorry, but I must confess I am a man lead by my stomach. I know it's sad, but I love food! To me food is the most important part of a culture. I think you can tell A LOT about a culture based on it's cuisine.

The trip to Poland (part 2)

Greetings world,

I am writing this blog entry as a follow up to the previous blog on my recent Poland trip. I want to show you some of the pictures of some of the things I saw. I'll add a little commentary to help you understand a little more about the trip. Here we go...

To the left is a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa. This image of Mary is one of the most venerated images in all of Europe. Every morning at 6am, the image is unveiled. But it is not just a normal unveiling; there are trumpets and singing and the works. It is such a beautiful ceremony, and a sign of the devotion that the people of Poland have for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Here is a picture of the main street in Czestochowa. This city is one of the most visited Marian Pilgrim areas in Europe.
Here is an action shot of our beloved Father Brad celebrating Mass in front of the image. Very cool.

Here is a shot of Auschwitz. Perhaps one of the most haunting images in my mind from the camp. The sign reads: "Arbeit Macht Frei" - Work Makes you Free. I can't even begin to imagine what it was like for the prisoners to read this sign as they entered into this place of death.

This is the second time I have seen this quote from George Santayana. It rings truth, and the inscription needs no commentary.

In what the Nazis called Auschwitz II, located in Birkenau, some 100,000 prisoners were confined into horse stables. The stables were meant to hold 15 horses. The Nazis squeezed 400 men and women into these compartments. Here is a shot of the bunk beds that would be used by the prisoners.