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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Inspiration from a Reader and a Bobblehead...

I'm going to pump you up!
Alright, so I'm already digging myself out of a hole, after promising to write more in my last blog.  I was called out on it by a reader named Norma, who wrote, "Blog more?  You've already failed, and it's only Jan. 29 ;-) I blog several times a day," and she'a absolutely right.

Unfortunately, my workload has been heavier than usual due to some personnel issues we've been dealing with and having to prepare for the upcoming ratings period starting next Thursday (which a good part of falls on me!), not to mention, employee evaluations, which have taken a great deal of my time.

I've also had to prepare a couple of discussions I led this month.  The first on Life in Christ and the Moral Law for the adult catechist class (RCIA) at my parish, where I discussed the Beatitudes, finding happiness and why we need to gear our lives towards the will of God.

The second was a discussion I led for my wife's Spanish women's group, which was only the second time I ever spoke to a group in Spanish (albeit a small group).  While, Spanish is my native language, it's not the one I am most comfortable with.  There I discussed my faith journey and elaborated on the meaning of the Mass, the Eucharist, how the Bible was canonized and the covenants that God made with mankind.  Although, it may sound all over the place, I was able to weave them in cohesively into my talk.

Still, I can also admit that those are not the sole reasons for my failure to write more often (This being just the third blog this month).  Part of it (and possibly the greatest part) has been pure and unadulterated laziness.  Sloth is another of my recurring sins in the Confessional!  Whether as a writer, as a husband, father or in fitness, which is obvious by my svelte and chiseled physique, I have a problem with inertia.

In any case, as I sit here in my home office looking at a bobblehead of a man with no shirt and rippled stomach that my wife got in the mail, as part of her burgeoning Beachbody coaching business (Doesn't every woman get a shirtless man's bobblehead in the mail?), and the toy's menacing eyes feel like they're looking at me in judgement, I realize the need to heed to Norma's admonition.

In fact, as I sit here with mister shirtless bobblehead looking at me, I think I'll go for a run as well. Thank you, Norma for the good kick in the butt.  Hopefully, it won't take me over two weeks for my next blog...
  


Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's High Apple Pie in the Sky for Me This Year...

Just what makes that little old ant think he'll move that rubber tree plant? 
Anyone knows an ant, can't move a rubber tree plant.
But he's got high hopes.  He's got high hopes.
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes
-- Frank Sinatra
High Hopes

Yes, it is... 
Ah, resolutions.

What's the start of a new year without resolutions?

Every year, at least half of the people in America resolve to lose weight (one of my favorites), to eat healthier (another one of my top five), quit smoking, work less, spend more time with family, drink less (never on my list), be less stressed, etc., etc.

The problem is that ninety percent of those people fall flat on their face, like the fat girl singing on a coffee table on YouTube, within first few months of the year.

In my case, except for the year I vowed to read the New Testament and finally finished it in early August, it hasn't been much different.  Except, I'm more like the girl with the clown mask singing Beyonce's Single Ladies by the TV set.  Smack!  Ooh, that's going to leave a mark!

Nevertheless, since I am a glutton for punishment, this is a New Year (you know what they say, "Hope springs eternal"), and I have a hard head (Just ask my wife), I thought I would set some new goals for 2016 and want to share them so you can hold me accountable!

In order of importance, I resolve to:
  • Continue to deepen my faith and study of Catholic Christianity.  Yes, I know; it's bit pious. But, this is one resolution that I have been putting on my list for several years and have done a decent job of fulfilling.  Still, I got a long way to go.  For me, it's about putting God first, since without Him, I am nothing. Among my concrete goals this year are to finish reading the Old Testament and various Church documents I have on my book shelf. Also, to re-listen to the dozens of faith CD's I own, which have gotten as much playing time over the past couple of years as RGIII did last season with the Redskins.     
  • Be the best husband I can possibly be. Instead of pictures of her running shoes and laptop, look for photos of my wife doing back flips tomorrow morning during her Beachbody work out!  I'll be honest, I can get lazy around the house.  It's one of my recurring sins in the Confessional.  I can do a better job to help my wife and can also be more attentive to her needs. At least until the baseball season begins! (Don't judge; it's about baby steps!)   
  • Be the best father I can possibly be.  Talk about absentee fathers, I was in total shock when my 8-year-old son didn't make his school's baseball team last year.  To him, it was no big deal and he forgot about it quickly but, for me, it was a reality check.  I have been in turmoil ever since, knowing that it was all my fault. I never have (or make) time to practice with the kid! This year, I hope to be less self-serving and pay more attention to my kids' needs, even when I'm tired!  So, whether that means going to pick up my teenage daughter at a party late at night, playing Life or Clue with my younger daughter or practicing baseball or flying a drone with my son, I plan to be more present.  At least, more than I have been.   
  • Be the best Managing Editor I can possibly be.  Let's just say, this has not been on my list in recent years (if ever) but I've come to term with the fact that it's what I do.  It's not who I am by any stretch but it's what pays the bills.  I need to be more focused, continue to be a stabilizing force in a very chaotic environment and control my frustrations.  Maybe, a good motto for me this year should be, "Lord give me coffee to change the things I can change, and wine to accept the things I can't."    
  • Blog more, which may conflict with the previous goals but I want to start setting time aside everyday to write.  I really enjoy it.  I like telling stories.  Maybe, it's why I got into news in the first place (or why I'm still in it!).  I want to start taking it to the next level this year. 
  • Be more generous of my time, talent and treasure.  Look, I am very involved at my parish in various ways and am a regular contributor.   But, I want to be more generous at home and with my friends as well.  I have a tendency of being selfish with my time and effort.  This year, I want to challenge myself to get off the couch and out of my comfort level to do things for others; even if that means, going for a run with my wife, or (say it ain't so, Joe!) going to one of her Zumba classes (Let's keep this last one to ourselves, just in case!).  
  • Be more grateful; have an "attitude of gratitude," as our Pastor says.  It's appreciating all the blessings that God has given me, especially my wife, my kids, my parents, my brother and his wife, my sister-in-law and her family, my mother-in-law, our health, my job, our small house, my faith, etc., etc.,  Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate them all but regularly take them for granted.      
  • And, since this is the Year of Mercy, I want to incorporate the corporal works of mercy in my life; i.e. feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit those in prison, comfort the sick, and bury the dead.  
I realize these are lofty goals and the odds are stacked against me making it without a bruise on my forehead or rear end from falling.  However, this year, I got high hopes (not that in previous years I didn't but...) and, maybe, just maybe, I can be like the little old ant in the Sinatra song that keeps trying against the odds, even if I stumble and fall at times, so that, as the year progresses, I can hear Old Blue Eyes singing in my head, "Oops there goes another rubber tree, oops there goes another rubber tree."...  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015: A Year to Remember for My Family...

Cheers...
"Manu, where are you?" I texted our eldest daughter (sadly, the best way to reach her!), in hopes she would join us to countdown the New Year.  She was lost amidst the throngs of people gathered at a party to ring in new beginnings and say farewell to old acquaintances, who would never be thought of again." (As the song says; although a bit harsh, don't you think?)

"Leave her alone," my wife insisted, knowing she was with a group of girls about her age somewhere in the house, or in the vicinity!

Listen, our daughter is a freshman in high school.  In four years, she'll be out of our house (not that I want it but she has her heart set on going away!) and who knows how long before she starts wanting to celebrate New Year's Eve with friends, somewhere other than with us.  I'm clinging to those last few years we have and, so, is it out of the question that I would want her to be with us, as the clock strikes twelve?

"I see mama," she texted back from somewhere in the crowd.  As I scanned the crowd like the Terminator scanning the landscape for the young John Connor (albeit without all the fancy computer data popping up in my viewfinder), I still couldn't see her.  Before I knew it, the fireworks started going off.  It was the new year! (We were at a party across from the Biltmore Hotel, which has a yearly fireworks display.)

La familia; notice the wine, cigar and cell phone... 
I kissed my wife and little ones, as friends hugged and kissed their families and everyone around them, ate the traditional grapes for each month of the upcoming year and drank champagne (neither of which I partook in because I was too busy smoking a cigar with a few male friends and, when we noticed the time, we had to scramble out to meet our families about five minutes before midnight!). In the haste to look for my wife and kids, I forgot to get my grapes and champagne!

In the midst of our celebration, pictures and selfies, I turned around and there she was; our lost sheep. We hugged and kissed her and took more pictures and selfies before I started calling my parents and brother on my cell.

Now, I'm sure for many, 2015 was a year of great loss, regrets and even some forgettable moments.

For the world, it was the year that ISIS became a household name; the bloody massacre in Paris that took the life of more than 130 people and injured another 350, the downing of a Russian plane, which killed over 220 souls on board, the indiscriminate slaughter and beheading of Christians, including children, in various Muslim countries and the escalation of the civil war in Syria, which left hundreds of thousands of innocent victims dead or displaced.

For the nation, it was the year marriage was redefined, reality TV stars Donald Trump (called the most hated man in America) and Caitlyn Jenner (the man formerly known as Bruce, who will unlikely become an unpronounceable love signal before turning Jehovah's Witness, but who knows?) jostled for media headlines, a white supremacist in Charleston massacred a prayer group at church, a reporter was murdered on live TV and the images posted on social media by the killer and an ISIS-inspired terror attack at a company holiday party in California.

Winston came to stay...
However, for the Espinosa clan, 2015 was a banner year.  It was a year of Sacraments (our oldest daughter, yes, the lost sheep, received her Confirmation and our son's and niece's First Holy Communion), a graduation (again, our eldest from grammar school), new beginnings (my brother finally got hitched at the tender age of... well, let's just say in his 40's, and the same daughter started high school; yes it was a huge year for her!).  We had an addition to the family; a furry Yorkie-like mix named Winston, and, to carry the banner theme further, after years of suffering and frustration, my New York Mets finally won the National League Pennant and made it to the World Series, though they lost!  (Not to mention, my Washington Redskins made the playoffs after most experts had picked them to finish last in their division, but who's counting?)

Furthermore, my wife's Zumba business took off.  She's become the fitness guru to a group of friends, which call themselves "The Mamitas."  Her translation company had another successful year, as she worked for one of the GOP presidential candidates in his bid for the White House.  And, to top it off, she started a Beach Body business as well. Now, that's not counting her day job or real estate business, which she put to the side this year, but what more can I say? My wife is an overachiever!

You already know about our eldest, but our younger daughter (and middle child) had a great year too. After recovering from a broken foot (she is the first ever to break a bone in our household) that she suffered while dancing, she recovered well enough to compete at Nationals in Orlando, where despite going up against much bigger schools, they ended up placing.  She went on her 4th Grade trip to St. Augustine with Mom and earned First Honors at school in her first semester in 5th.

Just chilling...
As a family, we had a busy summer.  We went on our annual family vacation to Sanibel. My wife, eldest and mother-in-law traveled to London for our niece's First Holy Communion.  The kids and my wife went to Orlando for the dance competitions and I took the kids to Ashland, Oregon, in what began as our own version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, for my brother's wedding.

Therefore, as the new year brings hope of greater things to come for most, I can't help but remember 2015 fondly.  It's going to take a lot to top it for us.  Yet, hopefully, God will continue to bless our family with good health, lots of love and plenty of peace.  In fact, maybe, the Mets will actually win the World Series!  And, then,  I'll be saying the same thing next year, as we celebrate with family, including our lost sheep (who will be one year closer to leaving home, yikes!) and great friends.

Cheers to 2016...




Friday, December 11, 2015

Uncle Billy, Goodfellas and God's Sense of Humor...

Uncle Billy, Mr. Potter has the money!
Yes, I'll admit it.  I can be a little absent minded.

I've been known to forget my kids at school, or to pick them up at my parents' house on my way home from work then having to backtrack to get them after driving all the way home.  I have forgotten my reading glasses on days I'm scheduled to read at Mass. And, of course, my wife's all-time favorite; I forget to pay the bills on time.  You can say I'm the It's A Wonderful Life's Uncle Billy of the Espinosa clan.  Although, I think our firstborn has inherited my prowess, or lack thereof!

Every Friday, for the past couple of years, I am the scheduled lector at morning Mass at my parish.  I can honestly say, for the most part, I have been very reliable, even on Holidays.  However, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, I completely forgot I had to read!  I woke up and went to the computer and realized I wasn't where I was supposed to be about twenty minutes after I was supposed to be there!

That following Sunday, my son was serving as an altar boy at the evening Mass. We got there early, so that he would have plenty of time to get ready and, as I sat there praying, about five minutes before the liturgy was to begin, one of the Eucharistic Ministers comes up to where my family was sitting and says, "Father needs you to be the lector."

Say what?  I looked at my wife with a face of horror.  You know, the kind of look a father might get when his college-aged daughter tells him she has a boyfriend she wants him to meet, which, I can honestly say, I'm not looking forward to!

Despite being a lector every week, I have a phobia about reading in public. My mind and lips are not always synchronized when I get nervous.  Maybe, it's a childhood trauma from grammar school that I have suppressed deep in my psyche.

In fact, in order to read, especially at Sunday masses, I prepare extensively.  I read the readings several times.  I do tongue-loosening exercises, which humors my kids, since I drive to church with a pen across my mouth and over my tongue, as I repeat in a loud voice, "Red leather, yellow leather." And, as importantly, except on Friday mornings when I'm usually scrambling, I try to get to church early to pray.  And, pray I do!  I ask for the intercession of the Blessed Mother, St. Thomas More, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine of Hippo, St. John Paul II, Sts. Peter and Paul, St. John the Apostle, St. John Vianney, Venerable Fulton Sheen and I can go on for a while, so that I'm able to read the words as they are written, and do so with poise, passion and love and without stumbling, or stuttering please!  I'm telling you, it takes a lot of mental, physical and spiritual preparation!

Ain't no angels...
So, there I was, in a dress shirt and slacks, mind you.  I wasn't even wearing a coat and tie!  I had to rush into the sacristy to skim over the readings (I had to do both readings because no other lector showed up), the prayer of the faithful and the announcements before the start of Mass and had five minutes to do it! Funny, funny Mr. God.

I got through it, to the best of my abilities, later noticing I had two huge circles under each armpit, but then, as if that wasn't enough to fill the halls of heaven with cheer, laughter and high fives (like the characters of Goodfellas telling war stories sans the alcohol and foul language!), on the following Thursday, He did it again!

I had our parish's men's group meeting that night.  However, it was raining and I left work late so I decided to blow it off. The next day, of course, I was scheduled to read.  Well, if I didn't want to get wet the night before, that morning, it was like a monsoon; cats, dogs and possibly a couple Shetland ponies.  It was terrible. The Big Guy is a riot!  I wonder if having Robin Williams around has anything to do with it.

In any case, my wife says I forget because I'm not paying attention.  The problem is that even when I'm paying attention, I sometimes forget!  Yes, yes; Uncle Billy.  I should start tying ribbons around my fingers but, in his case, he forgot what the ribbons were for.  It really sucks to get old...                    

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tebow, Chastity and Much Ado About Nothing...

The item that wasn't...
It was a short-lived relationship (if it had ever happened!).  The kind that kids have in grammar or high school; lasting about two months!  But, whether former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo and former NFL Quarterback Tim Tebow ever dated, rumors of their supposed breakup lit up social media and left fodder for tabloids and water cooler chatter across America.

Although, it was recently denied, the story that snowballed over Thanksgiving weekend was that Culpo dumped Tebow for refusing to compromise his values to wait until marriage before having sex.

Tabloids jumped all over it.  The New York Daily News ran an article headlined, "Tim Tebow still can't find the end zone as girlfriend Olivia Culpo breaks it off over lack of sex," which was followed by, "For once, it's not Tim Tebow who's having trouble scoring - it's his girlfriend."  Meanwhile, Us Weekly had it as, "Tim Tebow, Olivia Culpo Split Because of His Virginity Vow."

Soon bloggers and radio commentators were mocking the Heisman Trophy winner, who is regularly ridiculed for openly living his religious beliefs, and calling him a "sucker."  After all, they said, "Have you seen Culpo in a bathing suit?"

It was a story made in social media heaven (sort of like the Mets' Wilmer Flores trade that never happened, but with less tears and more moral consequences), for a culture obsessed with anything having to do with sex, especially when it involves other people, since it is the way that some justify their own moral behavior.  

Therefore, Tebow and many like him, including Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara (which was the subject of a previous blog), who are trying to live an abstinent lifestyle in a sex-crazed society, are often the targets of derision, since they represent a side of humanity that many people don't like; a side that says that unlike animals, we can control our hormones and libidos.

Let's face it, as a culture, we want to have it all.  We want to do whatever we want, when we want and without ristrictions; especially when it comes to sexual intimacy.  So, when someone else shows self-control and temperance, it ticks some people off because it means we have the capacity to do the same (if we really wanted to), and that's not a reality we want to face.  Hence, we want to watch the goody two shoes fail.  In fact, we root for them to fail.

Today, chastity is one of those subjects that makes many people feel uncomfortable and so it is mocked and lambasted.

Eduardo Verastegui and me...
Several months ago, actor/producer Eduardo Verastegui visited the TV station I work at, while promoting his latest film, Little Boy.

I highly respect Verastegui.  He wears his Catholic faith on his sleeve, rejects roles that conflict with his moral principals, and, after living a worldly life for most of his youth, has devoted himself to living chastely until marriage.

In his late 20's, Verastegui was a rising star in Hollywood.  He was once called the 'Brad Pitt' of Mexico.  However, after a successful telenovela career, starring in a Jennifer Lopez music video and posing for Calvin Klein, Verastegui had a profound reversion to the faith of his upbringing while preparing for his Hollywood movie debut Chasing Papi in 2002.  Since then, he has committed himself to living his faith to the best of his abilities, making movies with stories that he wants to share and speaking out against abortion.

After several co-workers and I posed for pictures with him, as he was walking out and a distance away, I heard a comment from a male colleague that bothered me.

"He says he's celibate and doesn't succumb to carnal pleasures.  He's probably gay.  In fact, you watch," he told another co-worker, "He probably says he doesn't have sex with women and then it will come out that he is having sex with men but will say it doesn't count."

"What a waste," exclaimed another male colleague, and a woman agreed with him, "What a waste!"

It is a sad indictment on the state of our culture when righteousness and virtue have become, not objects of admiration, but of ridicule and disdain.

It reminded me of the headlines in New York several years ago, when Mets' catcher Mike Piazza was accused of being homosexual, and had to publicly defend himself in the media, because after returning to his Catholic faith, following years of waywardness, he wasn't out gallivanting with the guys or seen with women about town.

As attractive as Culpo may be, and she is very attractive, as a father of two young impressionable girls, who I am already preparing by telling them that most guys are after one thing and will tell them anything they want to hear to get it, I would rather have my girls date a Tim Tebow or an Eduardo Verastegui then a "player."  I think most dads would agree.

As for the women of today who have no qualms about making it easy for the players (or the wannabe players), or take on the male role of pursuers of sexual encounters, Fulton Sheen once said, "The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women."

Hopefully, Culpo, whose last name ironically translates to "blame" in Spanish, and just came off a two-year relationship with Nick Jonas, who once promised chastity until marriage, but apparently gave in, is not in the level of women that the tabloids are making her to be.

As a matter of fact, TMZ set the record straight, stating the couple met at church and, while Tebow may have been smitten with the actress/model, it never went beyond several get-togethers with friends.  They actually never dated...





Monday, November 30, 2015

Tis the Season for Catholic Merriness...



"Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There's always laughter and good red wine.
At least I've always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!"



- Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), is considered among the greatest of English authors, poets and men of letters of his time, along with H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw and G.K. Chesterton. The son of a wealthy French lawyer and an English mother, Belloc was born in France.  His family was forced to flee to England due to war.  He became a naturalized British subject in 1902 and served as a member of Parliament several years later.  His deep-seeded Catholic faith heavily influenced much of his works, which included children's stories, poetry, books and essays on everything from faith, love, morality and humor to warfare, history and politics.  His Catholicism was uncompromising and he was known for his debating skills. Belloc was a friend and collaborator of Chesterton, another Catholic writing giant.  Their collaboration was coined by Shaw as "Chesterbelloc."      




Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Celebrity Priest, Pride and Prejudice...

Alberto Cutie...
In 2009, Fr. Alberto Cutie was a rising star within the Catholic Church.  He was a young, articulate, charismatic and good-looking priest, whose warm and charming personality made him popular among the young and old alike.

Having hosted an Oprah-style TV show, that reached millions in the United States, Canada and Spain, he was a media favorite; the go-to guy for anything having to do with Catholic Christianity.

He was making speaking and emceeing engagements, rubbing elbows with celebrities and the movers and shakers of South Florida and had amassed a faithful and loyal following.

In his day job, he was also the pastor of a growing parish in Miami Beach, the President and General Director of Miami's Catholic radio station and was a published author.  In effect, whether intentionally or not, he had become a "celebrity priest," despite the oxymoron.

Moreover, he was a staunch defender and promoter of Catholic orthodoxy.

Although, still young, his future was bright and a bishopric in some distant future would not have been out of the question.

Then came the fall.  Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he ate from the forbidden fruit; getting caught in compromising photos with a woman on the beach.

It was a scandal of seismic proportions that made national and international headlines on the heels of the priest sex scandal that had rocked the Church leadership to its core.

Soon more photos and videos surfaced, showing the priest frolicking late into the night at South Beach bars and restaurants with his love interest, Ruhama Buni Canellis, as the Church hierarchy scrambled frantically to figure out how to deal with this public relations nightmare.  The once shooting star came crashing down hard.

And, then, it got worse.

Instead of opting out, as many had done before him (albeit most of lesser notoriety than Cutie), and gracefully stepping down from his ordained vocation to get married and continue to practice his faith as a layman, like a husband who cheats on his wife and then blames her for doing it, he doubled down and went on the offensive against the Church.

Breaking away...
He denounced the Church's discipline of priestly celibacy and, in a carefully orchestrated media event, apropos for a man who apparently relished the public limelight, he publicly and defiantly joined the Episcopal Church, saying afterwards that he would continue to serve as a priest for Christ in the Anglican fold, and a month later marrying Canellis.  (It is ironic, or maybe not so, that he would choose the U.S. arm of the Church of England, since it was a faith started by a man, King Henry VIII, who also wanted to make his own rules when it came to marriage!)

In any event, today, almost seven years later, Alberto Cutie is now an Episcopalian priest and Rector, serving a small parish, St. Benedict's (named after a Roman Catholic monk known for his "rules" for spiritual balance and moderation), which is several miles north from St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, where he once pastored. But, more than that, he is a husband and father.  And, despite the distance from his past, the wounds from his life in the Catholic Church, where he was raised and formed, apparently haven't completely healed.

Cutie was recently featured in a series of reports on the local TV station I work at and, even though he was visibly happy as a priest and family man, claiming he was living the "abundant life," his prejudice and antagonism against the Church, he once strongly defended, was evident.

Aside from blasting Pope Francis for visiting Fidel Castro and calling Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski a liar, he compared the Catholic Church with Cuba's repressive government, "People make decisions. My parents left Cuba because they couldn't live in a communist dictatorship.  And, I was living in a spiritual dictatorship because that is what the Catholic Church is; a spiritual dictatorship, where they tell you, it has to be done like this or you're out."  He added, "I have many friends and love many people in the Catholic Church but I lived within a dictatorship, where there was no freedom to do things that are part of humanity."

To me, it's ironic (There's that word again!).  Nobody, not the Pope, not the Church, not anyone, forces or coerces a man to become a priest. He does so because he feels a calling by God and responds under his own free will.

It takes about nine or ten years to discern a vocation to the priesthood (4 years of college followed by 5-6 years of seminary), where the men have to ask themselves over and over again in prayer, if this is really what God wants for them and whether they are willing to make the sacrifice and commitment it takes for the rest of their life.  Many are called but few are chosen.  Some leave along the way.

So, I wonder, at what point did it become a dictatorship for Cutie?  Was it in the third year of seminary? Was it during the fifth year? Was it after ordination, or two, five or ten years into the priesthood?

The family guy...
He was a Catholic priest for almost fourteen years!  Couldn't he have figured it out somewhere along, let's just say, in the first five to ten years or so, that the priesthood and all that it required, was not for him?  But, I guess, it's easy for me to throw stones from the outside.  Maybe, and I don't mean this as a jab, he was too caught up in his own celebrity to want to step down.

Anyhow, now, or actually sometime before he left, he decided to change the Church.

"I don't think I am anyone to tell the Catholic Church what or what not to do.  I don't think that is my role or feel any responsibility whatsoever.  But, I feel shame that every single day, I get a call, a text or email from a priest telling me, 'Albert, I'm desperate'." (Meaning that they have fallen in love and are in a similar dilemma, which is the title of Cutie's tell-all book on the saga).  "When people stop giving money and get tired of giving money, then the Church will feel forced to make changes; when the laity rises up and demands that they want a priest, who is just like them, with a wife and a family and can share his life with them, when that happens, the Church will have to change."

Let's face it, blame is a natural human instinct based on pride that started from the very beginning of time.  When God asked Adam what he had done, he quickly pointed at Eve, "The woman whom you put here with me (In other words God's fault too!)- she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it."  And, Eve blamed the serpent, "The snake tricked me."

At its core, Cutie's story demonstrates the nature of humanity.  Left to our own devices, we can always find justification and reason for our actions and can convince ourselves that it's OK because God forgives us, since it's really not as bad as what other people are doing.

The problem is that the more we rationalize and justify our sin, the more we separate ourselves from reality and the easier it is to fool ourselves into believing it's alright to go farther from the Truth, which is the reason Christ established and left a Church; to safeguard the Truth.

In Cutie's case, truth, in his new "more democratic" faith, as he called it, is apparently determine by the church elders.  When asked if he believed in homosexual "marriages," the priest answered, "We here in our parish don't do it because the church leadership, which is comprised of the laity, have asked me not to do it and, out of respect to them, I adhere to it.  In my personal opinion, God does not discriminate against anyone and we still have to break those barriers; not just here but in all churches."

The series finished with the reporter asking Cutie if he was a rebel,  "I am not a rebel.  I just want to be free."

"Freedom," however, as Abraham Lincoln once said, "is not the ability to do what we want but what we ought."

I have nothing against Alberto Cutie the man.  He is still greatly loved and respected by many.  I'm glad he is now living the "abundant life" and he has a beautiful family.  In fact, I often pray for his return to the Church (as a layman).

Nevertheless, like every man, woman, priest, pope or bishop through the annals of time, and I'm sure he would agree, he is a sinner.  And, when we separate ourselves, through sin, from the Truth that Christ left the Church, we may end up making our own...