Holy Week 2019

Sooooo how’s Lent been? Good? Ok. Well, for me it began fairly good. My husband was home from Iraq, we got news that we are getting to keep our house and all the bills were paid. It all seemed hashtag blessed.

And then it all went right down the tube because Lent is LONG ya’ll. Some stuff went down with my stepsons that I can’t really share on the blog but it was rough and then my husband went back to the sandbox so that sucked plus tax day was yesterday. Also, grief is weird. It sneaks up on you. Tomorrow will be the third anniversary of my Tio Roy’s death and it is the one that is taking a toll on me this year.

Monday I watched like everyone else as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris went up in flames and I lost it. I have not been to Mass in three weeks. I was sick, depressed and then one of the Sundays I didn’t go because I had not been to confession and at that point I felt so defeated that I didn’t think there was any use in going. I know I need to go to confession because I am starting to hate everyone. As I watched that beautiful Church burn what I saw was a vision of my faith since Anthony died. That day everything that I thought was real went up in flames. Up until that moment I really thought I was a solid Catholic. I knew my faith, I knew answers to difficult theological questions, I believed that if you served God, He would protect you and your family and I thought my goal in life was to be a speaker who told everyone about all the wonderful things God had done for me. I really thought that I was living the happily ever after fairy tale, sure there was suffering but suffering was a part of the deal and I would say stupid shit like “I fear NOT suffering”. And then Anthony took his own life and poof, it was up in smoke. I often look at my Facebook memories and see the fake piety I displayed and want to punch past Leticia in the face.

I cried in a coffee shop as the pictures of the fire flooded my feed. On Tuesday the picture of the inside began to go viral and there in the middle of destruction stood the Pieta. The Blessed Mother holding the body of her son Jesus. Me and that sculpture go way back to 2010 in Rome when I saw the original at St. Peter’s. I stood there staring at it wondering how it could be so beautiful when it was every mother’s greatest fear. Looking back on it now I can see that even then, seven years before the death of my son, I sensed something that connected me to that statue of the Mother of all mothers. And after the fire that was watched around the world, there she was again. I am also here holding the memory of my son in the middle of a Faith that has been charred by grief.

Then today I watched the Beyonce special on Netflix. It is her Homecoming performance at Coachella last year and it was an experience. She talks about the way her body changed after giving birth to twins and the challenge of being a mother, wife and Beyonce while creating something from nothing and the freedom that comes from having an amazing team part of which is her husband. You would think that a 42 year old grandmother of two, mother of four, grieving mother of one and a wife in the suburbs of Austin Texas would not get much out of the struggle that Beyonce has, but I do. Because it is all of our struggle. The struggle of motherhood is universal. The struggle to stand after a fire rages through our family. In her special Beyonce said that her family is her sanctuary. Just like Notre Dame had a fire rip through her sanctuary, so did I when Anthony died.

I have been hiding from all things Catholic this week, which is kind of difficult when it is Holy Week, but when you are bat shit crazy like me, you do things like that. God is so good and so amazing that He knew I was spiritually putting a hoodie over my head with shades on so He spoke to me the one way He knew would get to me, through a work of art like Beyonce’s concert. The entire thing was God saying He loves me and has always been by my side.

That’s how my Holy Week is going so far. I also read an entire book since I’m off social media. Which can be considered a miracle honestly. We will see what the rest of the week has in store for us all.

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Hate, Love, Darkness & Light

Here is my family’s make up: I am Hispanic. My oldest son Anthony is the grandson of a Mexican man who came here illegally and made a good life for his family. My youngest three children are half white and ethnically Jewish. My husband is white. His three sons are half white and half Hispanic.

This is a diverse family. I am Hispanic but I was raised in South Texas, my stepsons’ mother is from the Rio Grande Valley which is further south than South Texas but is The Valley, not “south Texas”. I know, it’s weird. Even weirder is that the Hispanic culture is totally different in The Valley than in South Texas and even more different than the Panhandle of Texas.

Both the men I married are white and both are honorary Hispanics. They were both raised with Hispanic friends, love Mexican food and fit right in with my family. More than I do even. But my ex-husband was raised in the city of Houston and my husband was raised in the country like me. Ben is a city slicker and Stacey is a redneck.

My oldest son Anthony was born in the ghetto and has always felt most at home among black people like me. But my three youngest kids are very suburban to the point that they pass as white and have to tell people they were raised by a brown mother.

All of this is to explain how diverse my family is and that is without even going into politics or religion. None of my children are practicing Catholics. My grandkids go to Mass with their mother who became Catholic after my son Anthony died, but my children are all over the place when it comes to both politics and religion.

In my opinion, what real tolerance and diversity and peace will look like is when no part of my family is being attacked for the color of their skin or their worldview. When the world is a reflection of my family, then I will consider that we have made some progress in creating a loving society.

Right now racists attack my Hispanic heritage, Trump attacks the grandfather of my oldest son, people fighting racism attack my white kids and husband, people equate redneck with Trump supporter and anti-antisemitism attacks the heritage of my children. Everywhere I turn there is some insult based on culture, skin color, social class, worldview, generation or heritage that insults someone in my family. It is getting pretty old.

Dr. King’s dream was not that people of color would one day outnumber or overpower white people so that we could insult them and their skin color. His “I have a Dream” speech ended with these lines:

When we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and
every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all
of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and
Gentiles, Protestants, and Catholics will be able to join
hands and sing in the word·s of the old Negro spiritual,
“Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, “We are
free at last.”

His dream was one where we all saw the dignity of each other. Where black people were lifted up as equals and who were judged by their character not by the color of their skin. Where their pain from what was done to them and is still being done to them was acknowledged. Where they were given a chance to lift themselves out of the poverty and trauma that was put on them by a system that dehumanized them. He never called for any of that to come as fruit of dehumanizing white people or religious people or non-religious people.

It is very fashionable to quote Dr. King on MLK day, but how many of us are willing to read the words of his “I have a Dream” speech and live them out in our everyday lives?

As Hispanic Catholic woman I ask that you do not claim your prejudice of anyone is in defense of me. Do not put that on me. I reject it a hundred times.

Sex, Marriage and Grief

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I have recently started writing again on my own website. I am still over at Patheos and plan to stay there but I also want to just write here as well. I don’t really know why I want to do both but I do.

Yesterday I realized that a lot of my very old and original blog posts are on this website and people are reading them. That is good because I love the traffic but it is bad because so much has happened since I wrote those posts. For one thing, my husband and I have been through a lot of shit.

When I first started blogging after my conversion I was very cheerful, happy and a bit full of myself. I was a new convert and a newlywed. My conversion was amazing. God moved mountains for me and I was feeling the love from everyone because my testimony is really miraculous. Plus I loved the Church, the pro-life movement and I was saying all the right things because I was new at everything.

I still love the Church and I am still in love with Christ to the max. But I have matured in a lot of ways, including how I talk on issues like marriage, sex, and the abortion. My politics have changed now that I realize you don’t have to be a Republican to be Catholic. The election of Donald Trump as President freed me from that lie, thank God for that.

I am still very much obedient to Church teaching on everything. Marriage is a Sacrament between a man and woman but I don’t feel the need to disown all my gay friends or to lecture them constantly on my beliefs. That is a good thing because it gives us a lot more time to love each other. I missed them so much!

I am still against abortion and believe that it is the ending of an innocent human life but instead of sharing all these angry posts on Facebook about it, I do what I can to support women in having their children. I support equal pay, health insurance, assistance for women in low-income situations, housing programs and whatever else I can support that will support women and families to thrive. And sometimes that means standing with pro-choice women in getting those things done. I have become so consistently pro-life that I can see the dignity of the human person, even the one who disagrees with me. I also believe there is so much more to being pro-life than abortion. I believe suicide, mental illness and the current situation with mass shootings are all part of the pro-life stance as well. I have lost a lot of faith in the Pro-Life Movement itself but I am still Catholic which is really the important thing. I have no use for pro-life celebrities to tell me what to think and do. I have a catechism and spiritual director to help me be holy, which is my end goal.

I no longer see sex as the most important thing in the life of a married couple. Most of my life has been centered around sex. That’s just the truth. Sex is a part of my marriage but it is not my marriage itself. I learned this the hard way the day that my husband and I stood over the body of my oldest son. What made that man a husband was him taking care of my son, standing next to me as I made funeral arrangements, and when he got me to eat and sleep for the year after we buried that boy. Marriage is so much deeper than I ever knew and I wish I had not learned it this way, but I did and I am so thankful for my husband. Sex is what we share with each other and nobody else but the real foundation of a marriage is serving each other in ways that you don’t serve anyone else.

Finally, I am not so chipper. That is not to say that I am not happy to be Catholic. I am. I am honored to be the mother of these children and to be a grandmother. My family makes me very happy and I have moments where I can feel the joy of God shining on my face. I can breathe. I can love and I am laughing again. But I also know that grief is real and it is also a part of life. I know terrible things happen in the blink of an eye. I know that there are days, weeks, months and maybe even years when some prayer intention seems to not be making it to God’s ear. None of that changes how good God is or why I am a Christian. If anything, it makes it more clear to me why I am one!

There is probably a lot more that I could clear up, but really, if you read my old posts, just know that I am so different now in so many ways. There is before Anthony died and then after. He died on March 8, 2017, for reference. If you read anything I wrote before then, chances are I have an entirely different view than I did then.