Make Each Day Your Masterpiece

It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it. – Seneca

I was moved the other morning while listening to an interview Tony Robbins conducted with the legendary coach John Wooden. He recalled a seven point creed that his father had given him when he finished elementary school, and lived each day to it’s fullest. The one point that struck me the most, was “Make each day your masterpiece.” Tony Robbins, in recalling this interview even choked up as he described how Coach Wooden wrote a love letter to his late wife, every month for twenty five years until his own passing. This infinite devotion, and unfailing faith inspired me. And months since writing my last post and even posting our last recording, I felt it was time to put my heart to words once again.

 They say that things stay on the internet forever, and for that reason I continue to write to you. One day you may read these as I sit across from you, as I sleep in the next room or as I train or teach outside. There may also be a day when you find these messages far from where I am. You could even come across these words long after I have left you. But in all cases, like these words echo through the web, remember that I stay with you always. I can’t say exactly when, or with any certainty why it happened, but probably several months to a year ago I had a feeling that I would die. It wasn’t with any fear or dread, or even in a premonition kind of way. I just felt and thought that I would. Every day I wondered if that would be the day. If that would be the last day. And because of that I thought about three things. First, how would you remember me? In all ways, would you think of me fondly with golden nostalgia? Would you remember the things I did or the way I looked or even the last words I spoke? A few weeks ago I listened to this account of a retired firefighter that spoke of his last conversations to his sons, also a firefighter and a police officer as they headed into NYC on 9/11. It was his final conversation with both of them, and he was so grateful that he heard them tell him they loved him, and that he could tell them the same. Would you remember the last words that I said? And if so, am I always careful to speak in a way that I would want you to remember me by?

Second, how do you know me now? Am I your father? Am I your Daddy? Am I hard or stern or a disciplinarian? Am I a teacher? Am I someone that you want to love but barely know, someone that comes in day in and day out to provide you with food and money but never of self? Do you believe that I see you? Do you feel that I know you? Do you know just how much I love you? I think of these things, who I am to you today and who I want you to remember me by and I ask myself with every waking moment. Are they the same? And if they are not, it is my utmost priority to make that correction. I know it hassles you sometimes, but I will always say it. Every day. I love you. And I’m proud of you. If anything my children, if you know nothing else you must always know this and remember it. I don’t have a lot of time, whether it is because I feel like I could die any moment, or because I have come to realize that I myself waste much more time that I value in my life. If anything, if I have made any use of my time at all, know that in my deepest of hearts just how proud I am of you. How much I love you.
My master instructors in the Sayoc family frequently talk about how time is the one thing you can never get back, and that losing each other is always a part of our lives. And because of that we much cherish the time that we do have, knowing that at some point that time will come to an end. So third, do I cherish my time with you? Am I stuck on my phone or on this computer? Have I missed out on time because of work? Of all the things in life, work. When you talk to me, do I listen? With my heart as well as my ears? Can I live my days with you and sleep my nights with you like they are the last? Do I cherish each moment as if it is our last? Fr. Mike on his podcast once told of a college professor, a priest that was so moved by reading poetry that literally every lecture he wept. Do I have that passion inside to share with you?
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God. – 2 Timothy 1:6
The other night we watched Courageous. And when the father turns to his son, and tells him that he did not start well, but wants to finish well I felt my heart sing in agreement. I know I have been far from the best father, but I too want to finish well. I want you to not just know but believe and feel my love for you. I want to make each day a masterpiece.
I love you with all that I am, William, Gabriel, Matthew & Hope.

The Catholic Attic Episode 8: Inky

Brian and Joey sit down with Inky, aka Katrina Castro to talk singing, music, movies and more.  Originally from Queens, NY “Kat” grew up with the Marana brothers and now cantors at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Cockeysville.  She completed a puzzle at Awesomecon and for several years in a row we gave her The Lord of the Rings Extended DVD sets for Christmas.

Warm Up Suggestions from Kat

Transported Man

Open My Eyes

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church

Newsboys God’s Not Dead

God’s Not Dead 2

Open My Ears

My eyes filled with tears as I pointed to the words, helping you read and sing along.  I watched you, standing right next to you.  Your face was so serious, so intent.  But so purely in the moment.  I could hear your voice rise with the music, more confident with every word.  I was, as always, so proud of you.

It was just the day before that I said the same thing.  As we got on the road to run errands you called out from the back and told me that you said a prayer before we left.

“That’s great Matthew!  Thank you!”

I thought about how Mom does the same thing either before driving somewhere or shortly after starting.

“We’re very proud of you” I added.

You asked me why.  Your face was blank, staring at me from the rear view.  Waiting for my response.

“Well, because Mom and I really do try and cultivate your prayer practice.”  I could see you thinking.

“I’m not exactly sure what you mean, but that time you meant it.”
“Meant what?”

“That you’re proud of me.”

I thought of our conversation then, and there.  In the pews where we normally don’t sit, inside and not in the standing area in the back.  And instead of letting the blur drip down and out of my eyes, I raised my voice and sang with you.

“That’s why we, seize the moment try to freeze it and own it

Squeeze it and hold it, cause we consider these minutes golden

And maybe they’ll admit it when we’re gone

Just let our spirits live on

Through our lyrics that you hear in our songs”

– Eminem, “Sing for the Moment”

There is a little baby on our unit at work.  She is just a little younger than your brother was when he was born.  She’s the first one too, like Kuya William was.  One of our nuns came over yesterday and talked with the parents.  Family was here and there were lots of tears.  You don’t remember but when William was in the NICU it was very similar.  The day after he was born they told us about bleeding in his brain.  And so the next day the nurses in the NICU put up partitions for privacy and we called a priest and we gathered around his warmer to baptize him and be with him.  It hurts to remember it, even now.  It hurts to talk to them, and be in that room even today.

A few weeks later we stood in the pews at Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont and they started to sing the song.  And instead of understanding it figuratively, I thought of your brother and sang.  I sang for him.

“Open my eyes, Lord
Help me to see your face
Open my eyes, Lord
Help me to see

Open my ears, Lord
Help me to hear your voice
Open my ears, Lord
Help me to hear

Open my heart, Lord
Help me to love like you
Open my heart, Lord
Help me to love

And the last shall be first
And our eyes are opened
And we’ll hear like never before
And we’ll speak in new ways
And we’ll see God’s face in places we’ve never known

I live within you
Deep in your heart, O Love
I live within you
Rest now in me”

I wept then, right there in mass and I hold back tears sitting in front of this screen.  It reminds me of the very first time I heard Dick and Rick Hoyt’s story on Oprah.  Dick described the joy he heard from his son when they ran.  He said, “It’s a sound, I can’t describe it.”  “It must be the greatest sound in the world”, Oprah added and Rick’s dad broke down and could not complete the words from his mouth.

Song has often surprised me as the way my heart has heard God’s voice.  Last year, here in this very hospital when we met with the Order of Malta during prayer they thanked the Lord for your brother and how his life shows us God’s face.  But it is through you, and Kuya William and Hope, through your voices and questions, words and silence that you do the same thing.

I love you.  And I’m always very proud of you.