A Battle

Pain blossomed across her torso as her opponent’s dagger sliced through her robe and bit deep into her skin. She gasped as she felt blood well up from the wound.

She managed to stammer out: “You . . . you used a real weapon . . . protocol demands that only . . .”

“Protocol?,” he sneered. “Protocol for my faith demands that we win at any cost.”

“Your ‘faith’ is a perversion of the Truth!” she shot back, as she eyed her opponent warily.

Holding a dagger in his left hand and his Consecrated Blade in his right, he paused in his assault as he continued lecturing: “Truth is a matter of perspective. Even good and evil are such . . . limiting concepts. Power, on the other hand – power is pure, and holy. Power is right. Power is adulation. And in the right hands, power is . . . victory.”

She raised her shield just in time, as his Blade snaked out at the word “victory”. But she was nearing exhaustion from the battle, and bleeding badly. Her Blade and Shield were wavering, while his burned brightly in the morning mist. She continued to block his attacks, but with each blow her arms felt more and more like lead. Any second now, and she would move too slowly to parry or block.

At least, she though, he stopped lecturing her as if she was a novice, and not an ordained Priestess of the Way.

And then it happened. His Blade pierced her Shield and hit her soul, causing her to black out and fall. He stood a moment, savoring the impending victory. As he lifted his arm for the killing blow, however, an bolt of emerald energy hit him from behind, sending sparks of pain shooting through his body. Her companion had awoken at last from his magically induced slumber. He grinned, silently saluted his opponent, and reached for his Temple, pulling himself back to the place of his Power. He knew they would meet again.

Blessings & Peace,

Photo by magia3e

Salmon Pattie Recipie

Cooking / Prep Time: 30 mins – 1 hour (depends how many you make at once)
Servings: About 5-8 for each can, depending on the size and thickness of the pattie

Must Have Ingredients

  • 1 Can of Canned Salmon
  • ½ a pack (not box!) of crackers (multigrain, plain, your choice of brand – we use gluten free crackers now)
  • You can also use other crunchy items – potato chips, Cheetos, croutons – experiment for different flavors and textures!
  • 1 Egg (premixed in a separate bowl for better results) (2 eggs if you like the taste and want a creamier finish)
  • Salt/pepper/lemon & herb seasoning
  • 2 lemons
  • Large Mixing Bowl

At your discretion ingredients

  • Chopped / minced garlic
  • Chopped / minced onions
  • Chopped / minced mushrooms
  • Anything else you feel like throwing in



  1. Preheat a large skillet on medium-high heat
  2. Drain the salmon can, keeping about 1-2 teaspoonfuls of liquid in the bowl where we will mix everything.
  3. Empty the salmon into the aforementioned bowl
  4. Using a fork, flake the salmon into small pieces
  5. Take your crackers and crush them in any way you like (I prefer just using my hands, but you can put them in a bowl and crush them with a blunt object of some sort)
  6. Add oil and/or butter to the skillet (I prefer a mix of olive oil with dairy free butter)
  7. Add the crackers to the salmon and mix lightly
  8. Pour the egg into the same bowl and mix all ingredients together well (I use my hands – you can use whatever favorite mixing implement you have)
  9. Add a bit of salt, pepper or whatever other seasonings and optional ingredients you want to use – mix well one more time
  10. The oil should be nice and hot by now
  11. Shape the salmon into small balls, then smoosh (yes, that’s a technical cooking term) them into flat patties (size is up to you)
  12. Lovingly put them into the oil (it’s hot – be careful!), and cook about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown (I like adding a bit more seasoning to each side as it cooks)
  13. Take out of oil and let rest for a few minutes (they’re tired!) inside of some paper towels (to soak up excess oil)
  14. Spritz with some freshly cut lemons wedges and enjoy!
  15. They make great salmon burgers, or you can pair them with some Jasmine or Basmati rice, or any other side dish you like 🙂

Blessings & Peace,

Photo by jeffreyw

Weapons of Mass Damnation

Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. – Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition

Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up. – The Message

In Jesus’ time there were very strict rules concerning what could and could not be eaten: certain foods could not be eaten at all, others could only be eaten if prepared for cooking a certain way, some foods couldn’t be prepared/eaten if they were paired with other food, some food could only be prepared in certain containers, etc. [Editor’s Note: Kosher is the word we’re looking for here :)] [Editor’s Additional Note: This still applies today for observant Jews]

If dietary laws weren’t followed, consuming offenders had both religious and sometimes corporal punishments to contend with (currently there are no religious or corporal sanctions I’m aware of, except for maybe feeling a bit guilty). Jesus was trying to get the point across that pin point accuracy in following external requirements in no way indicated a heart full of mercy, service and compassion; judging others according to their slavish and razor sharp adherence to dietary laws was not the best way to judge how accurately or faithfully a person was trying to follow the will of G-d. (There were also economic factors at play – if you were wealthy it was much, much easier to follow all of the dietary laws, both because you could read (or knew others who could read) the Torah & Talmud and because having wealth meant you could afford to buy the utensils needed to cook and eat Kosher)

So Jesus was saying that looking at a person’s (this is one of those times where I’m pretty sure I’m using actions towards other people was the best metric to use to judge their religious life.

(We now return to our regularly scheduled programming. Cue the Nugget of Uncleanliness! You might want to binge read that before moving on)

So our middle school protagonist was not doing well. Adults and kids had let them know, with both words and actions, that the NoU (Nuggets of Uncleanliness) were anathema and not to be tolerated. Tears were shed. Battle lines were drawn. Alliances were made and broken. Armchair theologians (heh – that’s me!) were quoting esoteric texts. Angels and saints waited with baited breath to see what would happen.

It should be noted that all of the kids involved were under fourteen years of age (why is this important? shame on you! Read here first, then come back)  except for one (and that one wasn’t a huge eater of NoU’s). Even if this was a Friday during Lent on the campus of a parochial school, they were well within their rights to eat NoU to their hearts content. But they were confused. Perplexed that one platter of NoU (Weapons of Mass Damnation!) (WoMD) could cause such panic.

What to do?

I ate a NoU (WoMD) dipped in Chick-fil-A sauce 🙂 (I’m not the biggest consumer of Chick-fil-A food – I much prefer anything made of cow – but that Chick-fil-A sauce has got to be what angels dine on in heaven)

And we talked about it. About how hospitality and compassion were kind of important. About how treasuring another person’s feelings was important. About how knowing their faith, and the rules that went along with their faith, were important, too (because then they could have proudly proclaimed that they were OK eating NoU. [Is the plural of that NoUs? NoUses?]) About how Jesus would never belittle a child over something so trivial (didn’t he get in trouble for something similar?) (Yes, yes – I know the context of the story is a bit different – just go with it for now). And about how our love for people must be greater then our love for rules.

And then we all feasted together on Nouses. And went about our meeting. And went about our day and ensuing weekend.

And I think heaven rejoiced that the heart of a little one which was crushed like dry bones came back to life that day.

I’m Catholic, and I do my best to follow the rules. In my role as teacher and minister I do my best to teach others the rules, and explain why it’s important to follow them. But if I’m trying to focus on the more important stuff, especially with the kids I work with, then I need to temper my own legalistic tendencies and work with them to see that there will be times when people (created in the image and likeness of God sound familiar? temples of the Holy Spirit? earthen vessels filled to overflowing with God’s presence? one of a kind collectible entities fashioned by the hand of their loving Father?) must come first.

Blessings & Peace,

PS: I spoke with the parent of the child in question that same day. Said parent thanked me for championing their child. It’s a good memory for me 🙂

Photo by my_amii

Dramatic Pause {In which a Large Number of Brackets (TM) (C) are used at once}

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this Lenten aside.

The (Western) (Latin Rite) (Roman) Catholic Church asks its members (14 years of age or older), during the season of Lent, to abstain from eating flesh meat (does it walk? does it fly? does it live on land? don’t eat it! {so cannibalism is definitely out} {hmm . . . so are zombies, I guess}) on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent. Furthermore, on those same days, adults (18+)  are asked to fast. Fasting, in this case, is pretty specific – one regular meal, plus two smaller meals that together don’t make up a regular meal (see? and people complain when they have to learn algebra in school – it could literally save your soul!), as well as no snacks in between meals.

[As an aside to this aside, Canon Law {<I’m running out of brackets to use!> the body of laws that governs the Catholic Church} says that every Friday should be a day of penance of some sort – the traditional sacrifice is no meat {all year long!}, but here in the US our Bishops asked for and obtained permission for Catholics to substitute another penitential or charitable practice {meaning you can take me out to eat on Friday – it’s charitable because you feed the hungry AND penitential because you have to listen to me talk!}]

Catholics who are 59 or older are exempt from these regulations; those who have very physically demanding jobs or who have health/medical/medicinal requirements that make fasting and abstaining impractical or dangerous are asked to substitute other forms of penance. It’s also good to note that these are minimum requirements imposed on us for our spiritual health. Just like doing one push up a day is good for your body (but not the greatest), Catholics are encouraged to add their own Lenten disciplines (what many Catholics call “giving something up for Lent”).

Now on to two pet peeves of mine. (Please note that this is not Catholic teaching, just my 2 copper pieces.)

Peeve #1: In my head, Lent is not an excuse to go crazy with seafood on Friday. Many times I hear people talk about Lent and it’s “We went to Red Lobster and I ordered the Admiral’s Feast last Friday for dinner; for lunch I had two double filet-o-fish because I was so hungry.” (Please note that I am not affiliated with Beyonce, Justin Timberlake or either of the aforementioned restaurants). If anything, Lent is a great time to eat simply (so that others may simply eat, to complete the awesome bumper sticker). For us (my wife and I, as our son has abandoned us for this “college” thing that all the kids are into right now) that means some white rice, maybe an egg or two, or some warm corn tortillas with butter (actually, that last one sounds pretty indulgent) for our dinner. Breakfast is two small corn tortilla egg tacos (with none of that sinful bacon or chorizo thrown in there). I challenge my kids at school to eat simply on Fridays during Lent as a way of practicing for their eventual 14th and 18th birthdays. I challenge myself to do the same.

Peeve #2: Giving stuff up for Lent – I like that Pope Francis (the cool Pope!) is encouraging us to not only give something up (no more Coke for me this Lent!) (actually, that’s a lie – I hardly ever drink Coke) (remind me to tell you my caffeine story some day) but to do something this Lent. Work on erasing a vice from our life. Practice one (or more) of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy (so apropos during this Year of Mercy!). Pray more. Read Scripture more. Attend daily Mass. Talk to that relative you haven’t spoken to in years (over some slight that can be forgiven). Come over and mow my lawn. But do something that will help bring forth the light that burns within us and can shine so brightly that others can begin to see the endless depths of love and mercy that God has hidden within our bodies, minds, souls and spirits.

I’ll finish my story tomorrow 🙂

Blessings & Peace,

Photo by wallyg

The Nugget of Uncleanliness

Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?

At the school where I work I’m the faculty adviser for an extracurricular group know as the Worship Committee. This is a group of 6th – 8th grade students who assist me in maintaining the religious atmosphere of the campus and working with younger students to get them ready to serve at our weekly school Masses, among other assorted tasks. We usually meet every Friday after school to plan, argue, and, sometimes, Get Stuff Done (TM) (C). Snacks are usually involved, as Middle School kids need a steady supply of calories and carbs to keep their energy levels going. 🙂

Last year during the Season of Lent a student volunteered to bring snacks on a particular Friday. It turned out that their parents were not available on that Friday afternoon, so another family member was asked to provide snacks. As can happen sometimes, the family member was focused on getting food for hungry kids to eat, and the fact that it was a Friday during Lent (where meat eating is not allowed) wasn’t anywhere near the forefront of their thinking. They defaulted to getting a Chick-fil-A nugget platter, as it was fast and portable, and then, not knowing of the coming storm, dropped it off for their unsuspecting student to inflict upon the rest of the gathered community.

[As an aside, it should be noted that while the kids are ready to go right after school, I have a responsibility to fulfill in my dismissal duty – so during the first 10-15 minutes of the meeting another staff member helps out by gathering the kids, getting them settled in our cafeteria, praying the meal prayer with them, then making sure no one is killed as they descend upon the snack like ravenous zombies straight out of the Walking Dead 🙂 But I digress.]

I came back to a house divided – there had been remarks made by kids and adult about the presence of chicken in our hallowed halls on a Friday during Lent. There were aspersions cast upon my kids, myself, and the whole structure of our Worship Committee. The child who had offered the nuggets of uncleanliness as a small repast was crushed that their fowl tithe was the cause of such consternation.

What to do?

Stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion of our poultrous conundrum!

Blessings & Peace,


Photo by my_amii

101 Uses for Shape Reality (Planeshaper 30)

When WotC shut down their forums (for very shaky reasons, in my opinion) I perused to see which posts I found interesting and wanted to keep for 4E D&D. I’ll keep backups of the ones I liked here 🙂 This is the first one 🙂 [This list is edited to I only see the ones I liked]

Note: You can get up to 4 extra minors per turn (in addition to a move/standard).  So you can fill 72 squares per turn with stone.  (and empty all as a minor).

1) Encase enemies in stone.
A lich is threatening to raise an undead army? Both lich and evil portal encased in stone.
A wave of marauding orcs is about to destroy a city? Not through that giant stone coffin.
Oh, you’ve got phasing? What’s your speed? Let me action point – nowhere for you to go anymore, unless you want to unphase in solid stone.
2) Remove a wall, blast, fill the wall back up.
3) Create a pit right under an enemy
4) Do a poor “animation” job on a giant golem.
8) Never get sunburned again.
11) Erupting volcano needs a giant stone plug
12) Disappointing lack of monolith to your greatness
14) Conjure metal cubes repeatedly to feed a Rust Monster, just to see how big it can get.
16) Turn a random village/city into a labyrinth over the course of a night.
18) Go and start building literal walls for the dividing lines of various countries.
19) Redirect a river to flood a non-aquatic monster cave via a trench and dam.
20) Start trying to make a direct tunnel straight to the underdark, from the bottom of the ocean.

Worship Committee Email – Backup Post

In case I don’t have your/your parents email address, or the email got lost in transit, here’s the text of the email I sent out yesterday:

Worship Committee – Happy End of Summer! 🙂

I’m looking forward to seeing y’all soon! Here are two items for next week:

  • Service Opportunity

Friday, August 14 (during the open house/orientation) Mr. Nava (our new Assistant Principal) needs some help:

9:00 am – 11:00 am: We need between four to ten students to show new families and students around the campus. If you speak Spanish we’ll assign you to Spanish speaking parents. We won’t if you don’t speak Spanish. 🙂

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm: We need two to four people to help show families how to log into Edline (there will be new laptops set up in the gym for this). Please only sign up for this one if you’ve logged in before and know how to use Edline! You’ll basically be giving a mini-technology class to the parents and students who need it.

You can’t stay in between (if you want to work both of them), and you must be in full Mass uniform. You can head straight to the gym when you arrive and look for Mr. Nava (ask another teacher you recognize!). I won’t be there, so he’ll be your contact that day. You’ll earn service hours for this (you’ll get your service booklet first week of school)


  • Bulletin Board & Morning Altar Preparation

Tuesday, August 11 from 2:30 – 3:30 pm I need around eight WC members to help set up the morning altar items and bulletin board, as well as fill all holy water fonts (and maybe sort some items if we get more then 10). Drop off is at the front office, and I’ll be up front to greet you (or upstairs in front of the bulletin board if you come in after 2:30 pm). Pick up will be on 11th Street.

I don’t have email address for several people (G., B. Saenz, A. Honrubia, A. Miner, R. Rodriguez, S. Cadena, D. Garcia & C. Robinson), so please call / face time / message / snapchat / tweet / stalk / poke them if you can and let them know about both of these please. Also, please get me email/cell numbers – it’ll make sending out info a bit easier – thanks!

Let me know by email or text (please tell me who you are!) if you can make either of those. Thanks! 🙂

Oh – put the first WC Meeting on your calendar for Friday, August 21st – pick up at 4:30 on 11th Street!

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III
Campus Ministry

Gluten & Dairy Free Products

My wife is very gluten sensitive and allergic to dairy as well (no peanuts either), so we’ve spent a few years looking for food she can eat that tastes good and won’t affect her health. Here are some of the items we’re using (all of them gluten & dairy free, most of them free of lots of other stuff, too, yet still tasty):


Udi’s makes several products, but this basic bread has been a godsend for my wife. It has to be refrigerated, but once toasted it makes great sandwiches and french toast. My wife uses this for burgers as well. We buy this at Sprout’s (health food type store) or HEB (grocery store) – only one HEB in our town carries it, so your mileage may vary. Aside from the need to refrigerate and then toast, this tastes and feels like normal bread

11065247_10152806045569426_183505946_oDaiya makes both blocks and shredded cheese in several varieties. My wife complains that the mozzarella doesn’t melt well, but the cheddar and pepper jack seem to melt much better. She uses it on salads and sandwiches, or just to snack on when she gets a craving for cheese. This is the closest we’ve come to a product that approximates the taste and feel of cheese.

H.E.B. makes a few varieties of gluten free pasta. We’ve tried several other brands both at HEB and at Sprouts, but all the others were too pasty, gummy and/or tasted terrible. This makes great pasta for salads, to add to Mexican dishes, and to make macaroni and cheese (along with the Daiya up above).

10860491_10152609074594426_1866980775_oKatz makes great large donuts. Like the bread above they must be refrigerated, but lightly toasting in a toaster oven or heating up in a microwave make them taste like they just came out of the oven (they’re good cold, too).


Pamela’s makes one of the favorite snack bars in our household – portable and great tasting! We have them on Subscribe & Save from Amazon (so we get six boxes every month or so), so we’re never without.

11794000_10153125286324426_724433884_oEarth Balance makes great tasting butter substitutes (we’re partial to the Soy Free variety), while Follow Your Heart makes great mayo (again, we’re partial to the soy free variety).

When it comes to milk, several varieties of coconut milk work for us. We’ve tried others (almond, soy, etc.) but this is the one that feels closest to milk in taste and texture.

And there you go – a nice starter pack for gluten and dairy free (tasty!) eating. Enjoy 🙂

Blessings & Peace,

Magic: The Gathering Summer School Handout

Why play Magic: The Gathering?

  1. Helps social skills / community aspect
  2. Brushes up basic math skills
  3. Improves reading & comprehension / vocabulary skills
  4. Good sportsmanship
  5. Resource management


For Brand new players

  • Basic decks (mostly creatures and basic land)
  • Mono colored
  • Explain Card Types
    1. Lands
    2. Creatures
    3. Enchantments
    4. Sorceries & instants
    5. Artifacts
  • Basics of combat
  • Key points to clear up are the differences in land and mana; attacking players, NOT creatures; one land per turn; life IS a resource (especially for the kids playing black); how trample, first strike, and double strike work.
  • Colors
    1. White: The color of Justice – White mages use superior tactics, efficient creatures, and the power of righteousness against their foes. Can focus on healing and restoration, with the ability to utilize many smaller creatures quickly.
    2. Blue: The color of Wisdom – Blue mages focus on using superior knowledge to gain control of a battle, and slowly gain the upper hand. The power of control. Blue is all about not letting your opponent make his moves, and ensuring your own. It also boasts some of the best draw power in the game.
    3. Black: The color of Ambition – Black sorcerers are willing to do whatever it takes to win a battle, even if it means sacrificing everything to do so. Black is about one thing, and one thing only: Winning. Even if it means having to hurt yourself in order to hurt your enemy more, or to hurt yourself to get more.
    4. Red: The color of Chaos – Red conjurers try to win as quickly and dramatically as possible, smashing and burning their way to a quick victory. The color of fire. Red has the ability to burn through your opponent’s Life quickly, and mercilessly. Red is all about impulse and passion. Act first, think later.
    5. Green: the color of Nature – Green shamans win duels through the brute force of mother nature, summoning giant creatures to squash their enemies. The power of nature and growth, green focuses on sheer brute force, and power-ups, with the drawback that some of these cards have high mana cost.


  • Standard deck building tips:
    1. pick your most powerful cards, and / or combo of cards.
    2. limit the number of colors – 2 is best
    3. pick a theme, or story
    4. choose 15 – 25 creatures
    5. add cards until you have about 36 creatures and other spells (be careful with too many spells that enchant your own creatures!)
    6. add around 24 land cards
    7. your final deck should be 60 cards, with no more than 4 of any card other than basic lands.
    8. play a few games
    9. refine your deck
  • Basic Deck Types
    1. Aggro – lots of damage as fast as possible
      1. Weenie (lots of small creatures, boosted with some enchants)
      2. Affinity (lots of artifacts that get easier to cast with more artifacts)
  • Suicide black – burn your own life plus mana to finish opponent faster
  1. Burn/Sligh – lots of direct damage to opponents health
  1. Control
    1. Mono Blue – lots of counterspells and bouncing
    2. Mono Black – card control, creature removal

RIP Robin Williams

Movies are a form of digital storytelling. As such, they have the capacity to move us, to form us, and to challenge us. The people who create these works of art, from the actors to the producers to the musicians – they all play a part, and in a certain sense they all take responsibility for the medium’s access to our heart, mind and soul. So it is that with the death of Robin Williams I found myself mourning, as several of his movies touched me deeply.

I find myself saddened that his unique and creative approach to comedy and life have been snuffed out. I think of movies like What Dreams May Come, Patch Adams, Good Morning Vietnam, Aladdin, Mrs, Doubtfire, and Dead Poets Society which alternatively challenged me, made me think, made me laugh, filled me with hope, and made me cry. I think of seeing him on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and thinking that I was watching a master improviser and comedian in action. As a speaker and teacher, watching him made me want to step up my game when I speak in front of an audience. I know it made all the other performers in that episode stretch to do their best as well.

I pray for him and his family, and I pray that even now angels and saints are welcoming him into the Presence of the Name, so that he can enjoy a well deserved rest. I pray for others who struggle with addiction and / or depression. And I pray for the countless people who were touched by the man, by his stand up, by his movies, and by his life.

Heh – I imagine Robin Williams – nowhere near a dour faced saint – enjoying the beatific vision and praising the Holy of Holies who created Joy and who let that joy be incarnated through his life.

Blessings & Peace,