23 September 2015

Ramblings, journeys, and Knowing God: Su Santidad, el Papa.

Ramblings, journeys, and Knowing God: Su Santidad, el Papa.: Ok. Ok.  First of all, sorry that I've taken so long to write anything.  The reality is that I have had a complex mixture of emotions an...

Su Santidad, el Papa.

Ok. Ok.  First of all, sorry that I've taken so long to write anything.  The reality is that I have had a complex mixture of emotions and thoughts that have lead me to be in silent reflection.  First thing first.  Habemus Papem, in the U.S.  It certainly has been an interesting few hours, and to top it off, the Pope blew off a bunch of hoity toity Congress men and women to have lunch with the homeless of DC.  Impressive.  Point number two...  it's nice, but what does it really mean?  Everyone seems to making a big fuss over the crazy things Francis is doing that other Popes would never have done.  I mean come on, homeless over Congress?  I must admit, that while I am happy to see that Pope Francis is a very different person from previous Popes, I am challenged by my own skepticism.  Pardon me for saying this, but please remember, I'm a guy who very naively gave himself up to a system that eventually gave him a resignation date and a note to vacate the premises.  That aside, yes, there is a radically different pace that Francis has chosen to take, and I believe that it is born of a sincere heart, one that has experienced mercy.  At the same time, however, I want to yell out that the mercy Francis has experienced is one that was Church sanctioned.  What I mean by this is that a Jorge Bergoglio who would have acted beyond the parameters of the instituted church (I mean the political, backstage church) would have found himself beyond the merciful grasp of the Church's definition of mercy.  Perhaps I'm just bitter or venting, but while there is great joy that Pope Francis is offering mercy and love to so many, I myself am just beyond the grasp of that mercy.  You know, even if I were to go back to my superiors to plead for a return, IF they accepted me, I would never be able to serve as a priest again.  IF I were welcomed  back, I would be relegated to the position of Brother.  A unique vocation all its own, and yet a punishment for me.  Ok, venting aside, as I have taken to silence to reflect on the Pope, mercy and so much more, I am brought to a point where I do agree with Pope Francis,  and that would have to be that at a very profound (almost simplistic) level, Love is what beckons us to serve, and what calls us to act.  As I sit and read about the Pope, I am reminded that in his very public manner, he is acting from the very experience of love.  He, Francis, is personifying the action of Love as Christ calls us to.  Furthermore, as the readings tell us this next Sunday, we are to love above all else.  As St. Paul says, love is what lasts.  Love is what calls us to live and eventually, if we allow ourselves to truly be children of God, we find that love compels us to act out of an authentic sense of knowing Christ, and notice, I don't mean using Christ as our own puppet or lucky charm, but truly Christ as a model of authentic living.  And so, we see this jolly Pope celebrate life as he blesses children from his Jeep Wrangler Popemobile, and we celebrate, not because the Pope is here, but because in some way, we are reminded that sometimes love is just that simple.  No frills, just love.  No froofiness, just Love.  As always, thank you for your time, and know that I love you.  Peace to you.  Fr. Rick

28 August 2015

28 August, Feast of St. Augustine

Greetings.  Before I commence, I must be absolutely clear... I didn't really like St. Augustine (or for purposes of laziness, Gus)  Aside from the fact that I always felt that he had had all the fun in his life and then left us his theology which denied our own "having fun," I always felt that had I been at his side, I probably would've taken him out for a drink, or at least told him to take a chill pill.  Needless to say, I always felt a bit of remorse for Monica (Gus' mom) and felt that her Feast Day was always merited, August 27th.  I mean, imagine that poor woman having to put up with her mopey son.  Or not.  Maybe he became the way he was because of her, either way, I digress.  The reality is that for the first time in a long time, some of Gus' life and words have resounded deep in my heart.  The part that has especially shaken me is his beautiful realization:  "Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!  You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.  You were with me, but I was not with you."  For many reasons, these words have caused something within me to take leave of my daily routine and look once again toward the One in whom I had found my life.  I did.  I stopped, I reflected, I listened and I turned to God with the humility of a person who had thought himself in no need of the divine.  Much to my surprise, however, I did not encounter a god whose only vision was of me behaving badly (or unworthily of ministry), instead, I found that God was there, God had been there all along and not as a condemning judge who so readily declared me unworthy of His time, but a loving Creator who understood the paths I had taken and why I had taken them.  There, as I stood before the loving face of God, for the first time I saw God in a very different way, for the first time, I stood before the awesome love of God and realized, late have I loved thee...  For the first time, I came to understand in a real way, not the scientific theological statement which had been declared by Gus, but the profound emotional realization of a person who had found true LOVE!  I too have been humbled by the ever present and ever patient love of God, and now have a better understanding of how Gus must have felt.  Grant it, he left a worldly life and took on a life of holiness, whereas I had holiness all along, left it and have come to appreciate that once again.  Slightly different, but true nonetheless.  (If you're still with me and aren't scratching your head in confusion, kudos.  If I've lost you and you have no clue what I'm rambling about, my sincerest apologies.)    As I reflect on Gus for his Feast, I see for the first time in my life, not a guilt-ridden man who had chosen to inflict the church with chastity and penance, but a man who gave every bit of himself to the One True Love unlike anything else he had ever experienced.  And to some extent, that is what we celebrate, what I celebrate on Gus' Feast this year, the witness of a big brother who so radically and profoundly discovered what he had longed to know through so many other things that were created but were not the Creator.  We celebrate a love so profound and transcendent, that it accompanies us even in our darkest hour, but which does not impose itself on us.  We celebrate the face of God coming in to clarity, not just in the Sacraments and those things holy, but in our very being.  Today, Gus is that invitation to live a life so deeply rooted in Love that we quiver at the thought of never having known such love.  Gus wasn't about making everyone bitter, or making young seminarians do extra hours of homework, he was about witnessing to the beautiful love which he had discovered (according to him) so late in life.  It was as if he was telling us to take the path of Love and to know Love instead of having to waste our time with those things that weren't Love.  It was as if he was telling me to stick it out and see how Love was working in my life.  And yet, as I have come to realize, sometimes it is in the falling that the rising becomes so bittersweet.  I have fallen, but today, with Gus, I am happy to say that in my own feeble manner, I stand up again (and like Bambi when he is born) I walk once again with Love.  So may you also walk with Love, and in your journey, may you rejoice in having found and rediscovered Love as Gus did, and as I believe I have.  Late have I loved thee, O Lord, and yet, you were sitting right by my side all along.  Just smiling away and waiting for me to grow up.  I'm not fully grown up, but I know you are here.  Smiling right at me, loving me.  
As always, know that you are loved, and that you are beautiful.  I love you.  Fr Rick.

St. Augustine, pray for us. 

24 August 2015


Hello all.  Peace to you and blessings.  I haven't been on here for some time now, and trust me, while there is plenty that I have wanted to share, I have not been able to find the time to write.  For now, know that I send my warmest regards, and that soon, I will start this project up once again.  Until then, remember that I love you and that you are beautiful!

18 January 2015

A Letter to Someone Who "Cares"

Dear Bill,
Peace to you.
It has been a long time since I have had any communication from you or any other Oblates.  I presume that by now, decisions have been made about me regarding my standing as an Oblate and as a priest.  To my understanding, you and the Council have decided not to pursue any further contact, and have even excommunicated me or something of the sort.  I understand, and I am alright with those decisions (as silly as they are).  In spite of the things that know have decided were true about me, I am actually living a healthy, normal life.  I find it sad that in order to live, I would have to walk away from such a troubled group of men.  What disappoints me, however, is that having never done anything wrong, unlike so many others that both you and I know, I was treated like a criminal and pushed away.  I understand that you, the Council, and so many other "concerned" Oblates have an image of me that is quite horrible, I feel it necessary to explain who I am not.  (for your sake)
I am not a pastor or any church or organization or any other entity of the sort.  I also know that I am supposed to be a thief, I have never taken anything that wasn't mine, on the contrary, I often gave to churches where I was assigned.  I also never felt that I was sexually frustrated or repressed.  This also includes my belief that my sexuality was not your business, something that you and other Oblates so often tried to intrude upon.
Also, I am not, nor have I ever been in doubt of my priestly vocation.  I have no doubt of my call to service and love.  I was actually flourishing in the Diocese of San Angelo before the Oblates decided to revoke my faculties.
Overall, I believe that anything I say or write is of no importance to you.  Perhaps I should post it on Facebook so that this carries some weight, since I know that is where you have gathered your information about me anyway.  More than anything, I am saddened by the state of the Oblates U.S. Province, but even in all the mess that you have become, I forgive you.  I do not seek a response from you or anyone else.  Do not expect any further communication from you.

Peace to you,
Fr. Rick Lopez

08 January 2015

We are Charlie Hebdo... We are more.

For those who read this in an honest manner without ill will and negative intent, thank you.  For those who have taken my words to be what they are not, and who have used them against me or against those I love, here's more fodder.  (have fun!)

For those who have been following the saga that is my life, especially my service as a priest, last night I sat to write an angry letter.  As it turns out, my former Superiors all came together to make a decision about me and my standing in the Church.  As I come to find out, they used Facebook to search for evidence of my misdeeds or whatever they used.  (to my surprise, I thought those "superiors" were adults, but I guess they are teenagers with no other better resource for finding out information on people)  Whatever decision they made, no one bothered to inform me.  I guess that works too, my nephew does that (make decisions that no one else knows about)  but my nephew is 5.  Anyway, as it turns out, those priest and brothers used Facebook to decide that I was not worth talking to, they DUMPED me and I guess, in some realm, I was excommunicated or something from the church (woe is me!)  Getting back to my blog, last night I chose to write an angry letter to this secretive group of men.  I clarified for them who I am and who I am not.  I spelled out the details of my life that they were so anxious to know and as it turns out, my life is not that exciting.  I wrote until I had nothing more to say.  And then I said to them that I forgive them, and signed my name.
This letter will be refined and sent out, eventually it will make its way to this blog and beyond (I'm sure).  All this happened last night.  Then today happened.  Early this morning, I received a phone call from a dear friend.  Right away I knew that something was wrong, and when she came on the line, I mentioned two names.  Sure enough, it was Felix.  He was gone.  Shock took over and I went on a sort of autopilot that allowed me to do what I had to do the rest of the day.  Numbness was there, but more than anything, it was a sense of loss.  A friend, gone.  A friend, dead.
And then, the news about the massacre in France came across the news wire.  At first, I wasn't sure what was being said, but once I focused on the words and the sentiment that was being expressed, my shock was deepened by a profound sense of loss.  Throughout the day I have thought of why the France killings were so difficult for me, and while some would say that my friend's death plays a part in how I feel, I believe that there is more.  Especially since I left the active ministry, I have made it my goal to express a sentiment of joy and love to all.  I have encountered people battered and worn, and have shared with them as best as I can.  My mantra has become "You are beautiful.  You are loved." and I recite this (almost annoyingly) as often as possible.  And this is what scares me, not that I have chosen to take on a (as a priest once said about me) saccharine way of being, but that far too many of us mosey on throughout our lives just getting along.  In the past year, I have faced struggles, but when I wanted to quit, I made the decision to love.  To love myself.  To love my neighbor.  To love those who are difficult to love, and to love those for whom love has been limited.  This has not been an easy task because many people fear love, and expect that words of love are a primer for something else.  This is what bothered me so much about today, not that death took a friend, or that death was so prominent in the media today, but that for far too many, death is a selfish act that tries to replace love.  Death is a business, and just like my superiors, it is used to help those in power get their way.  As I reflect on Felix's loss today, and even the attacks of terror that take place far too frequently, I am reminded to love.  Love because I could go tommorrow, and love because death is too easy.  I don't know if I have made any sense, but I guess that the point I am trying to make is that love is the challenge in living.  Love is what makes us hurt when we lose someone, but love is also what reminds us of the good that can be achieved when love is shared.  Felix, I love you my friend, rest in peace.  And to you, the reader (whether good or ill) I love you too.  Peace and Good to you.  Rick.

15 September 2014

The Triumph of the Cross.

Today, September 14th, is the celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  It is a peculiar celebration, and surely, it would not have been considered a celebration in the early Church.  After all, the cross was too fresh a reminder of Roman atrocities.  This celebration, however, takes on a different meaning in today's world.  For me, the celebration of the Exaltation of the Cross is a moment to pause and take note of where we are, and who we are.  The cross becomes a reminder of those things that are important to our lives.  In a particular manner, this celebration is for me an opportunity to reflect on the freedom and liberty that the cross symbolizes for each of us.  First of all, this symbol of death and humiliation becomes the key reminder of the power that God's trans formative love.  Just as this heinous wooden cross was redeemed and made different, so too can I be touched by God's love and mystery and become more fully who God is calling me to be.  As with anything, however, the transformation that is to take place is not an easy one, nor is it gained 100%, all at once.  Instead, the transformative power of God's love takes time and patience.  More importantly, God's love takes a listening heart.  A heart willing to sit and listen to that which God has to say.  A heart that waits for the sculpture to emerge from the block of marble, a heart that awaits the breeze in which God is.  This patience though is what has become most challenging for myself (and I'm sure, many others) because all too often, I want God to do things now!  Or if possible, yesterday!  But what does it mean to be a child of God in today's world, certainly it cannot mean leading lives of contemplation and solitude as our religious brothers and sisters do.  Or can it?  I dare say, YES!  As I have come to know God more and more, and especially throughout my journey, I am more convinced that our relationship with God can only be strengthened through one major thing.  And that would be to tune our hearts to God.  The easiest way to accomplish this, is by a daily participation in the Sacraments, but clearly, this is not the only way.  While a Sacramental relationship with God is the pinnacle of being in the heart of God, there is another way that is more challenging, but perhaps even more rewarding.  That other way is to carry a heart that is open to the Sacramental needs of the world.  Yes, you read correctly.  The BIG challenge is how I carry God's love, as I have experienced it in the Sacraments, and carry it beyond the church walls, or my car or my house.  The big and difficult question is how do I bring love to others, how do I allow God's transformative love to touch me and others through me.  This is the difficult answer, but not an impossible one to attain, especially as we purposefully focus on God's actions in my life today.  As we turn more toward God and God's actions, we are touched, we are changed, and we become living witnesses of Sacrament, we become the presence of Love to all, and it is here that, like the cross, I too am transformed.  It is here, that I find my freedom, my liberty, and am able to live as God calls, no longer lost or condemned, but alive and loved.  Transformed like the cross, changed in God's Great LOVE, Jesus.  Be transformed.  As always, know that I love you.  Be blessed.  Fr. Rick