An Example of Catholic and Filipino Hospitality

During my seventh trip to Japan this year (and at the time of this writing, my most recent trip), I went to Mass on a Saturday evening on my last weekend for this trip. I elected to go Saturday evening knowing that I had to go to work the following day, Sunday. This particular Catholic church has a fairly strong Filipino presence, most likely because one of their priests is Filipino (the other is Australian!). It’s pretty small, but then again my home parish is huge.

Because I’m in the middle of renewing my Total Consecration to Jesus (through Mary), I brought my book with me to Mass with the intent of going through the day’s prayers and reflections after Mass. So I did. Continue reading “An Example of Catholic and Filipino Hospitality”

Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto

I’ve been listening to Christmas music since a week before Thanksgiving.  It hasn’t been too long, but I’m already jamming out to the usual classics while driving in my car. While at home, I start playing previously created Pandora stations for non-lyrical and jazzy Christmas music.

During the past few years, I’ve been playing and listening to the same types of Christmas music. The other day, when I was home at the intersection of procrastination and productivity for doing homework and studying for school, I decided to open Spotify to maybe find some good music for focusing.  Conveniently, Spotify has that category in their Genres & Moods. I was about to click on it when I noticed that Spotify added the Happy Holidays category! Obviously, I couldn’t resist.

In any of Spotify’s categories, you can find a lengthy list of genre-specific playlists and Happy Holiday’s is no exception. After clicking on it, I saw Snoop Dogg gracing the Hip Hop Christmas playlist.


Continue reading “Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto”

Just Relax



I’ve gone to Confession a few times while visiting Japan on business. I typically visit a particular church near my hotel because they offer confessions anytime—you just have to ask. Oh man, have I asked. Like, stalk-Father-30-minutes-before-Mass and ask. I’ve sat with and talked to the same priest every time. He’s Australian. Super nice.

He has a frequent saying in the confessional that it almost feels like a filler phrase, “just relax”, in-between pastoral nuggets in helping me by providing spiritual guidance. Though I’m 6000 miles away from home without really knowing this priest that well, I find that his grandfatherly demeanor (and Australian accent!), his openness, and his willingness to minister this Sacrament to be comforting and familiar.

Though I’ve been to Confession with him a few times now, I’ve never really truly understood why he keeps saying “just relax” because I’m not usually stressed out during Confession. Okay, maybe a little bit because I’m usually anxious to go with a high chance of having just battled rain, busy sidewalks, and busy subways just to get to this particular church in Japan.

During my seventh trip (and as of the time of this writing, my most recent trip) to Japan, I finally realized the practical potential of “just relax”. Sometimes I work myself up in response to stray thoughts about inner struggles (still keeping those largely personal) and that leaves me severely tempted to freak out. Such a state of freaked out-ness opens the door to make poor decisions regarding the state of my soul because I open myself up to near occasions. You classy Catholics probably know what I mean.

In the several times I really felt tempted to respond by actually freaking out this trip, I remembered Father’s words, “just relax”. So simple. So easy to remember. So impactful. These words helped me recall Father’s advice and helped me to chill out, internally. By chilling out initially, I find that it’s easier to respond to my struggles by remembering Christ’s love and mercy that leaves me with a sense of fulfillment and peace. A flow chart:

Flow Chart

I suppose these words alone and its directive are enough to help me in a practical sense, but it’s that spiritual sense where I find its powerful, practical potential. Why? Because I realized that intentionally calming down and relaxing paves the way for an intentional response to Christ’s love. Only Christ’s love can help me in the battle against sin, and it’s really hard to remember that when I’m really anxious and wanting to freak out.

I guess I see why Father says this phrase a lot in the confessional. It actually helps! So if you ever find yourself in near occasions of sin, anxious due to temptations, or nervous in a confessional—just relax! And remember Christ’s love for you!

“Our hearts were made for you, O Lord, and my heart is restless unless it rests in you”St. Augustine, Confessions

– JD

Pope Francis hearing confession from WYD 2013 // Diocese of Cleveland

Executive Decision: Going to Poland

Back in 2011, I made the executive decision to somehow get myself to Rio De Janeiro for World Youth Day 2013. That became realized in 2012 when I found out that my own parish would be going to Rio with another parish in the diocese.

So then, last summer I was able to go to Rio De Janeiro for World Youth Day. And that. was. amazing. Really awesome trip! I was the unofficial blogger for our group, and you can see our stories, pictures, and videos here: SEAS & St. Thomas Aquinas @ WYD Rio ’13.

We weren’t able to go the closing Mass at WYD Rio, but we were able to see some of the live stream at our hostel a mile away from Copacabana Beach (where the Mass was).  When we heard that the next World Youth Day would be held in Krakow, Poland in 2016, I immediately made the executive decision to go.

I kind of figured that attending these World Youth Days is a good excuse for me to travel the world and renew my joy for the Catholic faith as I deepen it with millions of others through an event of grand scale such as World Youth Day.

This time around, I already know that I’m for sure going (God willing!), and the wheels have already begun turning for me to go to Krakow in 2016.

Can’t. Wait.

A teaser video:


WYD 2016 Krakow // Seton Magazine