God Picks Your Mate, Not Your Mother

Mike, Father Leonard Mary of EWTN, and me
MECHA members

Mike and I had breakfast with Father Leonard Mary, from EWTN, this past Saturday. As we were sitting in the quaint Mexican restaurant in East LA, there was a gathering of MECHA members right outside the door.  The brown berets, the vest with special patches, the greeting with a fist pound brought me back to the feelings of my lost youth when I was president of MECHA.  I wanted to go out there and witness to them that God was the only answer. But I doubted that the fist-popping group would listen to anything I had to say. I wanted to yell, “Run! Don’t do it!” But they will have to figure this out for themselves.

Father Leonard quickly reminded me of the Blog I wrote about wanting my kids to marry Mexicans.

Just in case you missed it:

Part of MECHA’s presidential obligations
Sonja’s Ballet Folklorico Days

Having completed all relevant  courses at the Orange Diocese, I am now authorized to  minister under the covering of the Catholic Church. My last class, Pastoral Formation, helps develop attitudes and skills that pertain to effective ministry. The class is intended to train the student on how to handle matters that involve different races, cultures and ethnicities, and the differences on how people deal with situations. We all believe in the same God within the Catholic church, but people from Italy do not think the same as people from Mexico. We covered many subjects, but when it came to culture and heritage, my mind was flooded with the memories of raising two Mexican-American kids in Orange County.

When Mikos and Sonja (our children) were growing up, I did my very best to see that they stayed true to their Mexican culture. When after-school Spanish classes were offered in elementary school, I signed them up. They both complained about the instructor, and the only thing that they remembered about the experience was the title of the book “Churros y Chocolate.” I tried speaking to them in Spanish at home, but that too was ignored. Mikos recently asked me why I didn’t teach him Spanish!

When Sonja wanted tap and ballet classes with her little non-Hispanic friends, I signed her up for Ballet Folklorico. I had to drive clear across town to Santa Ana for her lessons, which didn’t matter because she was going to  be grafted into her “Mexican culture.” Sonja complained about the shoes, the extra-wide skirt, and the fact that none of her friends were taking the same dance lessons. Sonja’s experience was more traumatic than enjoyable, and after the only recital, Sonja hung up her dancing shoes for a while.

Mikos did not escape the culture wrath either. That boy was going to marry a Mexican if it was the last thing that he was going to do.

The “Ciriza” Porsche

When we moved to Orange, our neighborhood was mostly white, and we had two personalized license plates on our vehicles. “FAMILIA” was  on my Volvo station wagon and “CIRIZA” was on Mike’s Porsche. When we lived in the San Fernando Valley, this personalized license plate thing was no big deal, but in Orange County it was considered uncool.

The demographics of a mostly white school changed the direction of my plans for my children. I still had a little of that “Chicano Power” residue from my MECHA  days. MECHA was to Mexicans what the  Black Panthers were to the Blacks. I felt that in some way, I was melting into the Orange County stew. The more I tried to mold my kids, the more rebellion set in. “You are going to marry a Mexican!” were my words of love and direction…I so foolishly believed.

At that time in my life, I had left the Catholic church and was vacillating from Calvary Chapel, to Calvary Church, to The Vineyard and a host of other Christian churches. God must have gotten a good laugh at all the mindless efforts to keep culture alive in the “Familia Ciriza.”

Our beautiful Jenny
Our handsome Russ

Both Mikos and Sonja married out of our race. It was not to spite me, but rather because they fell in love. It was never my responsibility to choose their mates; this was just another ridiculous episode of a mother meddling into the path the God had already planned.

Mikos and Sonja both married Minnesotans, and every other Christmas, they return to their families and every summer they are in Minnesota.

I leave you with this thought. As mothers, all we can do is pray that God will bring the right helpmate for our children. We cannot control the hand of God, and if we intervene, we are messing with God’s perfect plan. Believe me, I understand how challenging it is not meddle,  trust God and He will see you through this. Remember St. Monica prayed over 30 years for her son St. Augustine to change. There is nothing stronger than the prayers of a mother.

Genesis 2:18  Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”



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