Help a poor Catholic school for immigrant children at no cost to you

Our parish school can receive $45,000 in repairs if we get enough people to vote. Your votes can put us on top. All we need you to do is two things:

1. Go to http://www.sanjuandiegoacademy.com/ and vote
2. Spread the word on facebook, twitter and Email.

Ready. Set. Go!
~TJ

Why interracial (and intercultural) marriage is WAY different than gay rights

I was on facebook the other day and saw these pictures used as a defense for gay marriage:

“In 40 years those who oppose(d) gay marriage will just look silly.” (paraphrased)

This post is not designed to defend or deny gay marriage, but this one was and I wholly agreed with it.  No, this post is to make the previous photo comparison look silly.

Note, before we begin, there are a few foundational basics you should know about me.  1. I’m Catholic.  2. I’m the second half of a very stable and loving biracial marriage. 3. I have gay extended family members and friends that I love very much. 4. I have biracial children who I also love very much and 5. I like to write in lists:

1. Gay marriage cannot produce children

Biracial babies are awesome.  Not only do they blend colors, factions, body types and sizes, but as all parents know they create inside of mom and dad a love that intesifies the husband wife relationship.  Yes, my wife taught me how to give myself entirely, mimicking God’s sacrifice to His wife, the Church, but the fruition of our love in our kids magnified our dependence on each other.  This love in its most natural, creative essence, has bonded us to God (since God is love) in a much more profound way than our sacramental union.

Gay marriage cannot produce this phenomenon.  Only a portion can be had through adoption or artificial insemination.  In each case, a biological parent is absent which as studies show isn’t the healthiest way for children to grow up. Granted, I know of many cases where having an absent parent is necessary for the well-being of the children, but even then the problems incurred by such an absence are undeniably present.

2. Interracial marriages make for good listeners (this one is more of a similarity than a difference)

I’ve told many people over the course of my married life to my Spanish speaking wife that falling in love with someone who speaks a different language is a great starting block for love longevity.  Why? Because when your significant other speaks (accent and all) you truly have to listen.  There is no ignoring in a bilingual relationship, just a lot of poor translations.  That means both need to interpret not only each other’s words, but what the other thinks their meaning is.

Beyond language, the acceptance (or sometimes the lack of it) of the minority race in the couple’s community can be just as important to the relationship.  A lot of time, the minority in the relationship receives the poorest treatment and the other must learn to accept the racism that surrounds them.  It then becomes the job of the majority to comfort the minority.  It also becomes the job of both to educate their children to love their enemies, which can be quite difficult.

Gay couples have a lot in common here.  While I am sure they turn into great listeners because of the amount of prejudice against them, they are fighting an endless battle with a loss of comfort on both sides.  When one member of an interracial couple suffers, the other is there to comfort as a distinct member of the opposite culture.  They are then able to educate their children in a bicultural environment by blending the best of both. Gay couples, on the other hand, both suffer because both parties are segregated against.  Children of gay couples then have a difficult education, one even more subject to spite than that of interracial children.

I’m not saying this is impossible  In fact, diamonds are created by great pressure. Take this video, for example.  To add, my second cousins who were raised by two mothers are also stand up individuals who I love very much.  Remember, my goal in this post is to make the distinction between gay and interracial relationships and not to prove or disprove the morality of either.

3. Gay rights are taboo in more lands than interracial mixing

The amount of people that are against gay marriage amount to more than those who are racist.  This is where the pictures come in.  The main reason why people oppose interracial marriage is because of ignorance and fear of a culture that is different from their own. The main reasons why people oppose gay marriage is because of ignorance and fear of a culture that is different from their own AND it goes against the natural order of procreation.  While racism still exists (and it has been institutionalized for a while now), keeping marriage defined as the sacred union between man and woman exists on a much larger scale.  Globally, people have learned to accept, even love people from other cultures because it is natural to do so.  However, people continue to refuse gay marriage and as a result, they also refuse to love gay people all together, which is the biggest disappointment of all.

4. Love is not defined by sexual attraction

I love my mexican soulmate and my tan-tinted kin more than life itself, but I don’t love them because of anything that I have done to deserve them.  No, I love them because I loved God first.  It wasn’t until I became “besties” with Jesus that He introduced me to my soulmate.  Sadly, I believe that most people, gay and straight, search for love without God in the same way our governments search for peace and justice without Him.  We are slaves to our passions until we become slaves for God and, until we make that distinction, we call love what it is not. We define it with our own definitions as opposed to His.

5. The Catholic Church is cool with interracial marriage and gay people, just not gay marriage

“The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

~Catechism of the Catholic Church p. 2358

6. One Final Note

In any relationship, the sacrifice of  personal desires is the fuel that fires the marriage machine.  As a spouse in an interracial marriage celebrated by the Catholic Church, I feel blessed to have been placed into this particular vocation.  Granted, it has its share of crosses to bear, but through this lesson of love I’ve come to understand the meaning of The Teacher’s words:

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11: 29-30

To gay people in the world, while I surely will never be able to understand your tendencies, I know that our struggles are similar and yet very different at the same time.  If the Church that was founded by Christ told me that I was unable to marry my wife because she was of a different race, I question whether or not I would be obedient.  But that is what makes interracial marriage and gay rights so different; I need not question my relationship.  My cross, although it is similar in size to those of gay people, is much lighter.  This means that gay people have a much better opportunity of becoming Saints than I do, for they have a lot more sacrifice to make.

The answer to both situations is God, the author of love, who has a specific chapter written for each of us in regard to how we should bear our crosses. At the end of the story, we can all be found crossing the finish line in perfection together, but only if we are able to leave behind that what keeps us from coming closer to Him.  His is true union.  His is true love.  Everything else is His icing on the celestial cake which we get to spend an eternity eating and a mere lifetime longing for.

When the Culture of Death Meets the Culture of Moral Relativism

A coupleweeks back, I informed my students of my Christmas vacation plans.  I told them I was going to Mexico and theywere thrilled for me.  “Enjoy the sunshine”, “Eat a lot of tacos” and “brush up on your Spanish” they told me.  I then informed them that I wasn’t going to the “nice” regions like Cancun or Acapulco.  Rather, I was going to Ciudad Juarez, the murder capital of the world.  They then pleaded with me, “No! Don’t go!  You’ll get kidnapped and we’ll never see you again!”
At that point I realized that I was heading deep into the heart of what frequent visitor to Mexico Blessed John Paul II called “the culture of death.”  What I didn’t know was how very distant this culture was in relation to the one that my own country suffers from- the “culture of moral relativism.”
Anyone will tell you that as soon as the sun sets in Juarez, no one should be out and about.  Others will even go as far to tell you not to go out at all unless it is completely necessary.  There are many reasons why they tell youthis.  Since the late 1990s, women have gone missing for years only to be found beneath the layers of sand dunes located just outside the city.  Also, since Juarez is a heavily populated border city with El Paso, U.S.A, it is a mecca for drug cartels looking to pass their mercancia to American addicts and dealers.  This business has become so intense opposing gangs slaughter each other on a daily basis attempting to gaincontrol over the city. It is not surprising to see the death toll higher thanthat of American soldiers being lost in the Middle East.  Police corruption fuels each side withammunition and hopes of city domination. Meanwhile, innocent victims get caught in the cross fire, the middle class tiendas and shops become victims of extortion and blackmail, and even the poor are mugged for the little they have.
When one enters into a city like this knowing all that happens, you might think them crazy or suicidal.  But this “culture of death” is nothing in comparison to the “culture of moral relativism” that is found within the souls of some people in the United States and around the world.  Sure, while at home, I feel free, more secure, more confident.  But for those very reasons, my soul is in danger.  Because I am secure, confident and free, I need not suffer, fear, nor question my interiorconceptions of morality.  In Juarez, right and wrong is defined every day. In the U.S., right and wrong need not even be contemplated as long as comfort and stability are not at risk.
In each culture, the majority of the population remains “good” while a small percentage ruins it for the rest.  Unfortunately, the majority fear doing anything to change their situations.  This fear settles for mediocrity and allows death and moral relativism reign.  In Juarez, we fear our physical destruction, which provides a tremendous outlet to spiritual conversion.  So why is it that in the U.S. we do not fear our spiritual destruction?

Summer Reading- Enrique’s Journey

We are a nation of Immigrants. Some of us are generations removed from our immigrant relatives while others arrive daily by risking their lives to cross the imaginary borderline that separates them from poverty and hopelessness in the native countries. Their story, and those of our immigrant ancestors is depicted in Sonia Nazario ‘s masterpiece, Enrique’s Journey.


While the story of immigration may be universal for all Americans, the specifics vary in detail. Most of our relatives came by boat from the Eastern Hemisphere while others, like Enrique, have traveled in a more contemporary, but equally dangerous route- atop the ever-curving train cars underneath the blistering Mexican sun.

From the beginning of this book, the reader is enticed by the sheer grit that Enrique must face to travel by himself to the united States from Honduras. While in his middle teens, he embarks on his journey not for economic stability, not for pride, and not for adventure- he does it for love. His mother left him to go al norte when he was just five. He misses her, and he wishes with all of his heart to be with her again.

The author tells Enrique’s story against the backdrop of factual information. She spent years traveling the route that most Central Americans take to enter into the country illegally. Using recent statistics, she paints a vivid picture that encompasses the ideological motives of those who seek a better life for themselves. She joins these ideologies with real life testimonies from those who have lived, and continue to live, through the struggle of globalized poverty.

This book does a fantastic job of joining the pros and cons of illegal immigration into a gut-wrenching love story of Enrique’s life. It is a must read for all teachers, especially those who serve migrant, children of migrants, and impoverished students with problems at home.

For more information on Enrique’s Journey, including pruchasing information, click here.

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

iQue Viva Cristo Rey!

In the early 1900s, Mexico went through a period of religious persecution.  Many people pledged allegiance to the Mexican government and helped injustice rule while others took the side of the Christian faithful and hoped that justice would prevail.  One religious congregation was seen by the Mexican government as a particular threat.  They were consecrated religious teachers called the Christian Brothers.  This group of educators refused to sacrifice their allegiance to God and continued to teach the regular academics prescribed by the Mexican government with the Gospel message sprinkled into every lesson.  When government officials spoke of their teaching methods, they would warn each other saying, “Watch out for those Brothers, they can find a way to teach catechism in math class.”
Although very few Lasallian Brothers were hurt dring this time, many other Catholics gave up their lives to ensure that Christianity would reign in their land and continue on in their culture.  As they made their heavenly transitions, many yelled their last words “Que viva Cristo Rey!” (“long live Christ the King!)
On today’s date, we celebrate the end of the liturgical year on the feast of Christ the King.  May our lessons, our teachings, our very lives be lived as if we were fighting for His glory to remain in our land and in our cultures like our Mexican Brothers and Sisters who paid the price so that Mexico, and all of Latin America could remain Holy.
iQue viva Cristo rey en nuestros corazones por siempre!

Catholic Schools for Immigrants

In a not so distant past, immigrants from Eastern hemisphere traveled long distances to reach the coasts of the United States. In hopes of a better life, they uprooted their lifestyles and planted themselves in the soil of freedom in the New World.

Now, those “uprooted immigrants” have grown tall and strong, and their seeds have fallen to the ground. These seeds are their second, third, fourth generation relatives, and they too have grown under the shade and protection our forefathers created for us. We are these rising seedlings and like our fathers before us, we too struggle to find answers to problems that are similar to theirs.

One of the problems that we face is how we should respond to an increasing rise in immigrant population. As children of immigrants, the answer should be easy, but sadly it is not. We are several different groups divided by language, social norms, and beliefs and we are posed to with proposition to live up to our nation’s name, and become one United States.

As Christian teachers, what should our response be to this issue?

On the public school side of our Education system, schools with newcomer programs are springing up more often than before. After school ESL programs and other organizations are reaching out to help the next generation, but funds in most urban areas where the need is most prevailent are low. For that reason, an immigrant child’s future is questionable in the hands of the inner-city schools that are trying so desperately to provide for them.

On the parochial side, however, there is hope. The University of Notre Dame has published a report on this exact situation. It highlights the need for a culturally accepting Catholic education for the present-day immigrant children. Statistics from the study state that immigrant children are several times more likely to graduate from high school if they go to Catholic schools. Similar numbers state that they are more likely to go to college than their Public school peers.

This study is merely the springboard for greater things to come. Sure, funding and language barriers will be an issue, but the report highlights methodology and framework for Catholic schools to overcome economic and academic obstacles. To do so, the Notre Dame task force focuses on flourishing schools systems that have experienced success in immigrant education such as the NativityMiguel Network (Lasallian and Jesuit), and the Cristo Rey Schools (Jesuit). With their efforts and all Christians nationwide, the future looks just as bright for our immigrant children as it was for our forefathers.

So what is our response? As Christian teachers, our response to the need of our immigrant brothers and sisters is simple: we must reflect the God-given light that our hardworking forefathers shined upon us and direct it towards the immigrants of today. With the right amount of light, they will build our Nation, our Catholic Schools, and the Church into the unity that both God and our forefathers have always desired. The Notre Dame report gives us the mirror we need to do just that.

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

Link to the complete Notre Dame Report: http://catholicschooladvantage.nd.edu/assets/19176/nd_ltf_report_final_english_12.2.pdf
Link to the NativityMiguel Network page: http://www.nativitymiguelschools.org/
Link to the Cristo Rey page: http://www.cristoreynetwork.org/