My dear son…

Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about you because your 4th birthday is just around the corner. Your daddy and I hope that one day when you read this you will fully grasp how much we prayed for you. Six years into our marriage and our prayers were answered. The wait was worth it because it took God some time to make the most precious, loving, kind-hearted and happiest boy to bless us with. Know that although we spoil you a little there are things in life that don’t come easy. We work hard to give you almost anything your heart desires, but as you get older and understand better you better believe that you will need to earn things in life. 

The road to getting blessed by you was not easy. Daddy and I went through many tribulations and they told us we could never be parents unless we did IVF (I know you will research what this is, but know that it is against our Faith). Practically, the doctors told us that they were the only ones that can help and as good Catholics we refused that choice because our solution was not a man of science. We had other options. To adopt or keep praying. Although we were devastated to hear those news, we believe that God would make us parents someday. 

A few months after visiting that doctor or prayers were answered. You were conceived by love and Faith. It took you over 9 months to come into this world. You were too cozy inside my womb. Even upon the day of your most anticipated arrival you didn’t want to come out. You had a massive crowd of family and friends of ours waiting to meet you. You weighed 6lbs and you were 23 inches long! I knew the moment you came out that you were a gift and that you were special. Mommy and Daddy prayed the rosary every day from the moment you were conceived. You came to this world to do great things. You are already a man of God​. In time things will get hard and you will go through your own hard times, but if it is one thing you take from reading this is that we must always pray for what we want and have the Faith in God that it will happen. Not in our time but in His time. 

For the past almost 4 years your daddy and I have watched you grow, learn and flourish. You have made us the happiest ever. You are thoughtful, smart, loving, kind-hearted, handsome and an overall joy to have around. On your birthday not only do we celebrate you, but we thank God and Mary for you. We throw a huge celebration for life!!! How can we not thank God for you? All we wish and pray for everyday is that you are healthy, safe, know and learn more about your creator, learn to fear God, love our Mother Mary, be an example of good and kindness, be obedient, say your prayers, do great in school and have fun living this life. Remember that the middle is what matters. You must not look back or think what if? Why didn’t I do this? What if the future was like this? Will I ever accomplish this? What you do in the present is what matters. The rest will come in time, your questions will be answered and your dreams and aspirations will come true if you work for them. Nothing is free in life or easy.

Know that we love you so much! We are blessed beyond expectations. You are our greatest gift! On June 11th you will reach another milestone and we will celebrate you and life! We will pray over you, dedicate a rosary for you, go to Mass and thank God for you and lavish you with love!!! Happy early birthday my son. 

When you are the example of Faith to your child.

As a parent we want the best for our children. We know we do for Frankie. That is why it is essential that we lead by example. There are things that they might not like, not understand and things they do enjoy, but we must enforce it no matter what. We know at times it is tough even for us adults!

There might be some of you out the reading this who are not Catholic like us, or from a different denomination, religion or even orientation, but we can all relate that if it is kindness you show, your child will mimic that. If it is love, then love they’ll be portraying. If it’s telling, fighting and other horrible habits you show them then they will think it is normal.

We teach Frankie what we think is right as HIS parents. In our household​ we don’t eat until we pray. We don’t go to bed until we pray. We attend Mass every Sunday. Even while on vacation. Sure there has been times that we missed a Sunday or two in his whole 3 years of life and we make those decisions that later on we regret. We all slip and fall at times and what we have shown him is that we made a mistake, why it isn’t right and what we can do to make it right. We are almost sure that he might not fully understand, but we have planted that seed. Now it is our job to water it and it WILL blossom. Our Faith tells us it will.

This past Sunday for mother’s day we explained to Frankie that it was a day to honor the moms. He as a child felt joy because he thought that like any celebration we get to do fun things. We told him that first we go to church to visit Jesus and thank him for everything that happened and didn’t happen for that week. When he is reluctant about going we always remind him that it is just one hour that we get to spend with Jesus during the whole week. We were eating breakfast when he asked that if it was mother’s day then we should give my flowers to Mary. My husband sent tulips to my job earlier that week and Frankie thought it would be a great idea if we took them to Mary. I cut 6 tulips out if the arrangement and clustered them together and tied them with some ribbon. 🎀 He took them that morning before Mass to the statue of the Rosa Mystica. He loves that Mary and prays to her every week. He loves to take his coins, he puts them in and says a prayer.

As his parents these are the few things that make us proud because we know that we are skiing something right. Little by little we lead by example and we know it isn’t easy but it is what God wants.

Below are a few of the moments we have captured our son honoring our mother.

The ‘Salubong’: A Filipino Tradition

This morning I woke up at 4:30am to celebrate with our Filipino community. The Filipino Catholics celebrate Easter Sunday with ‘Salubong’. It is a reenactment of the Biblical account of the meeting of the Virgin Mary and the resurrected Jesus Christ. It’s a beautiful tradition that is celebrated in the Philippines and I feel blessed to have been a part of it. The Filipino community at our church of St. Bernard is very devoted and it’s tradition to our Faith is one to always be supported. It reminds me so much of the things and other traditions we do in my country of Nicaragua. The people are beautiful, devout, they go all out, yet are simple in their ways. I love that! It comes to show us that we don’t need riches, material things and other things to fulfill the love we have for our Christ. Next year I pray that our son is old enough to wake up by 4am and experience such a beautiful reenactment. 

Latin Low Mass

Today I (Alejandra) attended a Latin Mass. Here in Broward County,  Florida there is only 1 Church that gives us this privilege but only on the 1st and 4th Sunday of the month and at 7:30am. FYI, the Church is St. Malachy in Tamarac. It’s a beautiful thing to attend a Latin Mass and every Catholic should do it once every chance they get.  It’s sad though for many reasons that our Archdiocese doesn’t make this more feasible for their community.  It’s hard.  First of all,  finding a church that’s at least 15 minutes to 30 minutes away.  Second, a convenient time.  I would love to attend a Latin Mass with the whole family,  but lets be real. . . At 7:30am it’s out of the question to wake up my toddler at 6am to get him ready,  fix breakfast,  etc. My husband and I have to take turns too! Someone has to stay home with Frankie.  Ughhhhh, I just wish the Archdiocese would see what needs the young families have.  We want the tradition back in our church.  More Parishes should have a Latin Mass.  The times should be more convenient too. #bringbacklatinmass #bringbacktheveil 

Teaching your children to pray

Being persistent is important. Starting them young is important. Making it fun is essential. Don’t make it something you drill into them to do. They won’t like it. Prayer is talking to God. We tell Frankie that the same way he says good morning and good night to mommy and daddy everyday, then in the same manner he must do the same with God. Since Frankie goes to Catholic School they don’t eat until they pray and thank Jesus for the meal they are about to have so that is of great help in making sure he knows how important prayer is. Most important, no matter where you are or with whom, be an example to your child and don’t let them shy away from prayer.

Toddler behavior at Mass

A topic that my husband and I hear a lot is about children in the Mass, but more specifically the younger ones and even babies. First and foremost, I am writing based on my experience as a mother of a 3 year old and it is just my personal opinion on the subject.

It is very hard no matter how well behaved your child is to be with them at Mass for an hour and at times longer. Not only do we have to find a way to entertain them, but also be in the Mass and experience the Mass. This is very challenging and I could only imagine how other families with more children deal with it. My husband and I hear a lot of opinions on this matter from other couples. The popular one seems to be, “why even bother taking my kid to Mass if I can’t even pay attention?”. There has been times that I feel the same way. I think it happens to any parent and not just at Mass but at any public place.

We have been blessed that Frankie has been a pretty well-behaved little boy MOST of the time, but he has his days as we have ours. I think the best thing I can recommend is PATIENCE!!! As parents we have to be that role model to our children and if we “skip” church on Sundays because of the difficulty of not wanting to “deal” with a child there then don’t even bother going. But don’t expect your child later on to like anything to do with Religion and expect him or her to give you a hard time when it comes time to take them to Religious Education classes. And if your dream is to see them get married through the Catholic Church and the time comes that they don’t want to, then remember the times you “skipped” Mass because it was too much trouble.

My husband and I have come to the conclusion that we have to be mindful and respectful of the parishioners around us. We don’t like to go inside “the cry room”. We feel that we don’t enjoy the Mass in there, but if the time comes that we need to go in there then it has to be done. If your child is being loud, noisy, crying, etc. and your many evil stares, pinches and promises of treats is not working, then why bother those around you and take them away from the experience of the Mass. That is the time you or your spouse have to take turns in removing that child from the pew and taking him to the cry room, the bathroom, or what we like to do is take him outside for a breather and a few threatening words of why he should be behaving and voila! This seems to work like a charm.

As Frankie gets older we have incorporated him better in explaining what is going on and he seems to really like learning about different things. He particularly loves it when we sing out loud. He is loving and memorizing the songs. It soothes him when I pick him up and move from side to side to the beat of a song. He also loves to go around and give the peace to those around him. We also give him his very own envelope to put in the collection as this makes him feel part of the mass.

He looks up to our priest (Father Carlos Vega) and when the homily comes, we tell him to pay attention to what Father is saying that he is talking to him about God. We even ask him sometimes what Father is saying and although 90% of the time he doesn’t know it shows him that that is a moment we pay attention and be quiet. He also looks forward to the end. If it is Father Vega giving the Mass he loves to wait for him at the foot of the isle and he extends his hand out to walk out with Father. He feels special and I wish more priests would do this. Maybe have all the kids rounded up in the altar after the final blessing and have them all walk out with him. (Just an idea)

He also gets to hold a small basket and say “please feed the needy”! At every doorway we have someone collecting money for our St. Vincent De Paul food pantry. He loves to get the money, thanks people, and the older parishioners love to go to him to give him their spare change or dollars. If we start to incorporate our kids early on then they are heading down the right track.

As a parent, we all have a right to enjoy the liturgy. The parishioners have a right to welcome families with small children and also have the patience, but parents also have the responsibility to remove themselves of situations that disrupt those around them.  We have to be mindful that those around us want to experience the liturgy without being taken out of it due to distractions.

All in all, don’t give up parents. keep trying! Patience!

-By: Alejandra