1. My views, reflections, statements, rants, and exhortations are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Capuchin Franciscans as a whole or the Province of St. Joseph. This blog is run by me, with the occassional input of other friars.

2. I am in the formation process to become a friar and then to be a priest (God willing). I appreciate concerns and advice regarding my formation, but please leave that to my Novice Master.

3. My experiences, my history, and my family have shaped my faith. You may find topics and discussions to be contrary to your understanding of faith. Please try to be friendly to people when you disagree.

4. This site is my diary, my meditation, and my sounding board. There are times when posts are raw, uncensored, and extremely real. This is a vocational blog in that I chronicle the joy, pain, love, hate, struggle, sadness, confusion, learning, and impatience of discerning a religious vocation. I apologize if you are offended by language; what I write is what is in my heart at the time.

5. If you have a prayer request, feel free to email me at vmartinez1337@gmail.com. All intentions will be added to our petitions during morning and evening prayer.
This week I got a promotion.

When Bossman originally hired me a few months ago, the plan was for me to be the Sales Manager of the dealership. Now, it's hard to be a manager when there's no other sales guys but yourself. I did financing, F&I, clerk work, and I sold the cars.

Yesterday we hired our first sales guy. He's a quiet guy that knows very little about selling anything. However he has two things going for him that always makes a sales manager optimistic: he's driven to work hard, and he speaks Spanish as well as English.

Bossman and a few others joked about the competition that would arise between me and my new sales guy. We're still a small car lot, even though we've grown since I started, both Newguy and myself will be working the lot to get deals done. Oddly enough, I'm not feeling jealous or greedy. In fact, I'm quite adamant about giving him most of the up's so he can learn the sales process.

While I still consider myself a workaholic, my determination has little to do with money. If Newguy starts to sell a bunch of cars, I'm happy for him. He has a family that lives below the poverty line, and I have first-hand experience on how a job like this can drastically change one's tax status. In fact, I want him to do so well that I don't feel obligated to stay...should God call me to a more religious life.

The boss of the Poker Room is offering me a top spot as well. I've dealt cards for him so long, I've learned most of the operation. Instead of actually dealing cards, I spend more time enforcing the rules, chatting with the charities, and managing paperwork. I suppose the title of pitboss is an appropriate job title, and hopefully something I can share with others later in life.

As I spend 18 hours a day working to pay off debt, I feel more like I'm using my debt as an excuse to bury my personal time with activities. Perhaps if I keep working, I won't have to make a decision. Maybe if I keep working, I won't have time to sit and reflect on how my grandmother's death really impacted my life. If I stay busy, I keep my mind focused on work and not on how hard it truly is to understand where God is supposedly leading me.

So for now I will work my two jobs, come home tired at 2AM, get up for work at 7:30, and do what I can to pay off my past debts...or at least that's what I tell myself. I've had weeks where I've made 1500, yet I have no idea where all the money went. I've not played poker in over a month (my new position restricts me from playing) no have I spent any real money on material things. As I mentioned before, my "success" is reminiscent of years past, where I'd make my money then simply spend without any thought of savings. This is a personal discipline I've tried to hold myself towards.

The oddest thing of all is that while Michigan's had the highest unemployment rate in the country (source) , I've been bombarded with job offers. Even when I tell people that I may not be in the workforce after next fall, they still topple over each other, trying to give me a job in some managerial spot. What's most ironic: even when I mention my vocational calling, people still try and tempt me with more money to go work for them.

Until later....

Fun at CARM.org

I have been busy, yet during the day I've found an interesting way to learn more about my Catholic faith while defending it against those that either don't understand or refuse to call me a Christian. Yes, I'm talking about the egalitarian site known as C.A.R.M.org

C.A.R.M. stands for Christian Apologetics and Research Ministries. The site's creator, Matt Slick, is the sole manager of the site. C.A.R.M. contains hundreds of pages about Christianity, defending one's faith against atheists, and the fundamental flaws with denominations such as the Later Day Saints and the Jehovah's Witnesses. It is an attractive site full of knowledge.

I first found the site last year when I became interested in the topic of Apologetics. I wanted to be able to defend my faith. I wanted to learn more about being Catholic. It seemed that C.A.R.M. was the perfect place to learn.

Of course, a Protestant website is a Protestant website, and I soon learned the utter disdain Matt and the other visitors had for Catholics. I couldn't understand why people would hate another so much based on their religion, despite a few theological differences.~

Despite the attitude that the site patrons have for me, I still continue to visit the website and the chat room to talk and learn from Evangelical Protestants. I've learned quite a lot, but probably not what Mr. Slick intended.

I wanted to list all the hate, personal attacks, self-righteousness, and absurd logic I've witnessed at the site, but God didn't make any of us perfect. We all have our flaws and imperfections. So rather than bash the website, I will give them my gratitude. Were it not for the questions raised while visiting www.carm.org, I would have never taken the initiative to look and truly understand some of the Church's doctrine. Because of them I've studied the CCC, I've read the Summa, and I've grown stronger in my Catholic faith and spirituality because of what I've seen. Most importantly, I've become more accepting of those, even outside my faith. We are all God's children, and even though some of us are not on the same page, we are all fruit of the same wondrous Creator.

If you ever get a chance to visit the site, I wholeheartedly encourage you to visit. As a result, you will learn more about your faith than you ever thought you'd learn.

And if you happen to stop into the Chat Room, keep an eye out for me. I still go by the same handle I've used for years: Severian

Discernment and Music: Freedom 90

I apologize for my break from blogging once again. Thank you for your prayers and messages of concern. I am doing well, in good health, and in a good place.

As of late, I find my life in the same position I was several years ago: making lots of money, excited about life, and with very little time for anything outside of work. Not only am I doing well selling cars, I am working as a pit-boss now for the charity poker room. I average about $700-$800 a week, have no car payment, and only pay $250 for rent.

Needless to say, that leaves me with a lot of extra cash, and a strong urge to spend money.

Money, popularity, and the pursuit of wealth are many things that drove my life years ago. While I am excited and happy to be doing so well again, I know that road is not the way I want to travel. I've been there, and unless you keep chasing and keep chasing, you stop being happy.

Sometimes we think we want everything, when all we really want is to be free of it all.

George Michael is probably too old for some of you to remember. In the beginning of his career he was a pop icon, perhaps the Justin Timberlake of the 1980's. He was a teen idol, was at the top of the record charts, was making a lot of money, and was always in the spotlight.

In 1990, after deciding that the none of those things were actually bringing him happiness, his attitude towards the music industry changed. He stopped doing record promotions, he stayed out of the spotlight as best he could, and he tried to move beyond his image as he tried to become a better person.

On the album Listen Without Prejudice, George made his stand in the song Freedom 90. The song was so popular that when MTV asked for a video, George Michael refused to even be in the video. Whether it was a large publicity stunt or his attempt to save himself from draw of money and fame...that's still up for debate. Either way, Freedom 90 is a strong testament against letting the chase for wealth and money control who you are.

It's good to be writing again, and I'm doing my best to keep my priorities in line.

I won't let you down
I will not give you up
Gotta have some faith in the sound
It's the one good thing that I got
I won't let you down
So please don't give me up
Because I would really, really
Love to stick around

Heaven knows I was just a young boy
Didn't know what I wanted to be
I was every little hungry schoolgirls pride and joy
And I guess it was enough for me
To win the race, a prettier face
Brand new clothes and a big fat place
On your rock and roll TV
But today the way I play the game is not the same no way
Think I'm gonna get myself happy

I think there's something you should know
I think it's time I told you so
There's something deep inside of me
There's someone else I've got to be
Take back your picture in a frame
Take back your singing in the rain
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes do not make the man

All we have to do now
Is take these lies and make them true somehow
All we have to see
Is that I don't belong to you and you don't belong to me
Freedom Freedom
You've gotta give for what you take
Freedom Freedom
You've gotta give for what you take

Heaven knows we sure had some fun boy
What a kick just a buddy and me
We had every big-shot goodtime band on the run boy
We were living in a fantasy
We won the race
Got out of the place
I went back home got a brand new face
For the boys on MTV
But today the way I play the game has got to change oh yeah
Now I'm gonna get myself happy

I think there's somethig you should know
I think it's time I stopped the show
There's something deep inside of me
There's someone I forgot to be
Take back your picture in a frame
Take back your singing in the rain
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes do not make the man

Well it looks like the road to heaven
But it feels like the road to hell
When I knew which side my bread was buttered
I took the knife as well
Posing for another picture
Everybody's got to sell
But when you shake your ass
They notice fast
And some mistakes were build to last

That's what you get
I say that's what you get
That's what you get for changing your mind
And after all this time
I just hope you understand
sometimes the clothes do not make the man

I'll hold on to my freedom
May not be what you want from me
just the way it's got to be
Lose the face now
I've got to live