Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Four Ways

"The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly — and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being — must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter him with all his own self; he must 'appropriate' and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deeper wonder at himself" (Veritatis Splendor, 8)

In this quote, Pope John Paul speaks of the whole meaning of our lives, to be 'divinized" through the work of the Word Made Flesh. He came down to earth as a human, and he will bring us up with him to heaven to be like God. We are to be assimilated into the Person of Christ.

All very well and good, but as we see, there seems to be so many ways that people approach Christ in order to be united with him. Some are most closely drawn to our Saviour through the Liturgical practices of the Church, some through strong devotions such as the Miraculous Medal or pilgrimages. Some are able to come to Christ through intellectual work in Philosophy or the Sciences, some Sacred Doctrine or Theology proper. Now each of these ways have many subcategories of specific "religious experiences", but these four seem to be the broad categories into which they fall.

The problem is that we humans often think we have all the answers. So someone devoted to the Miraculous Medal could say to a Thomist "Come out of our dusty volumes and see the light." and the Thomist might answer "You are ignorant of so much of the theology, how can you say that you truly know Christ?"

And yet, they both know Christ in some way, as do those who find Christ most powerfully in the celebration of the Church's Liturgy and those who find Him in philosophical and scientific inquiry.

Because certain people see Christ more vividly in certain settings, they will do all in their power to see that those settings are not abused. The Thomist will try to quell all "pseudo-thomisms" which he feels are breaking from what Aquinas really meant. The liturgically-minded Catholic will flip out at the most minor of abuses because as we know, even a speck of dust can completely mess up an operation, and to them, the liturgical is the most important of all operations. To the pious practicer of devotions, any false devotions will be an abomination against the very person of Christ, for in true devotions is where he sees Christ most fully. To the scientist, who sees Christ in the workings of the world, false science and science that tries to obscure Christ will be shunned and hated. And yet, none understands the other. They are all doing the same thing, except in their own categories.

None of these categories is "correct", however, none should be done at the exclusion or rejection of the others. In other words, the pious Catholic should not say "enough of this intellectual work, just pray for the conversion of the world through these certain devotions which I know help." The Thomist should not say "He who prays without understanding is an idiot and not a true Catholic." If a Catholic's focus is not liturgy, should the liturgist say "He does not put his energy in the right place, what with this Rosary-praying or reading. He should be fighting for Good Liturgy"? What good does it do any of us to require the same focus from everyone? All of these areas must be sanctified and some are able to help in ways that others can not realize. With the rise in devotion to Our Lady comes a greater love of purity and thus the moral culture is transformed and with it an interior understanding of theology which Our Lady calls us to. With Her beckoning to Christ, we come to the Eucharist and understanding it better, we participate better. In the same way, when our liturgy approaches in its practice the most heavenly, we encounter Christ in new ways and are able to see him in the beauty of the world as the scientist does. This brings us into contact with the questions of the interaction between Creator and created which Aquinas discusses.

These are not opposing forces, they are unified in the person of Christ, and because of this, are one work.

Friday, December 17, 2010

So true...

So, finals week comes to an end. Here's a Joke from Ironic Catholic.

The Top Ten Ways The Bible Would Be Different If It Were Written By College Students

10. Last Supper would have been eaten the next morning cold.

9. The Ten Commandments are actually only five, double-spaced and written in a large font.

8. New edition every two years in order to limit reselling.

7. Forbidden fruit would have been eaten because it wasn't cafeteria food.

6. Paul's letter to the Romans becomes Paul's e-mail to abuse @ romans.gov .

5. Reason Cain killed Abel: They were roommates.

4. The place where the end of the world occurs: Finals, not Armageddon.

3. Out go the mules, in come the mountain bikes.

2. Reason why Moses and followers walked in desert for 40 years: They didn't want to ask directions and look like freshman.

1. Instead of God creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh, He would have put if off until the night before it was due and then pulled an all-nighter.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We're almost there, folks.

Not the usual fare, but the British are reporting that we are this much closer to taking over the universe.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stranger than Fiction

A new movie is coming out, or has recently come out, I'm not sure which: Tron: Legacy. It's a Dark Disney Flick about an boy whose father strangely disappears but leaves him with a legacy and strange instructions. After following these instructions, the son, grown up, finds himself in a virtual reality, almost a real life video game. And his Father is in some way the king. Unfortunately, as so often happens, the peace of the virtual reality is threatened. The main character must find some way of restoring peace through visually amazing stunts etc.

Why do I bring this up? Maybe because Hollywood may be good with coming up with plots, and it may not be. Inception, I thought, was brilliantly conceived. A new take on the tension between dream and reality (with architects, all the better). Some have said that it's just Matrix 2.0 and not even that original, as gritty and real as it may or may not be. Anyway, it occurred to me after glancing over the BBC News Home Page today that real life is so much "stranger than fiction". For those of you who haven't watched that movie, I'd suggest it. It's not brilliant, certainly, but it's an interesting concept.

On the BBC, there was one headline that got me: "Amazon survives Wikileaks attack"

Huh? Oh, wait, there's an explanation."Amazon has survived attempts to bring its site down as the pro-Wikileaks data army gains thousands of recruits." and "Wikileaks 'data war' gathers pace"

Apparently, there is a group of hackers which support Wikileaks. They apparently spend their time hacking the sites of companies such as Visa and Mastercard, the fallout being that Visa's site was down for two hours and messed with people's credit. Now, since Amazon has removed its support of Wikileaks, it was supposed to have been the next target. Apparently it didn't work. There must have been some angsty soul-searching dark brooding hero behind Amazon's survival.

I guess my main point through this all is that for all the attempts to come up with a convincing and original story, there's nothing that beats the drama and comedy and mythos of real life.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Small Workings of Providence

Today, after Psychology class, I headed, atypically, toward Geddes Hall. I thought to myself "Well, I'll just go up to the fourth floor where the Center for Ethics and Culture is and see if anyone I know is up there. Plus, I've heard it is a really dismal place." Well, I crossed the grass between the Library and Geddes and was joined by Leo (who is in Liturgical Choir with me) and we entered the building together. As he stopped by the chapel and I headed toward the elevator, he called out "Midday Prayer, five minutes." I said to myself, "Hmm, that's interesting, cause that sounds like something I'd like." Well, I went up to the fourth floor and it was basically abandoned. And dismal. So I went back down. As I passed the chapel, I thought I would enter it and join in this Midday Prayer going on. Although I didn't have a breviary, I went in. There were a couple people there already, and a few more joined in the following minutes. I shared a book with a couple guys and we prayed the Hour and then went on to Lunch at North Dining Hall.

I found out that they do this at Geddes every Monday Wednesday and Friday and in Alumni Chapel on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I had just been looking for this. It's amazing that at Notre Dame there is such a Catholic Culture present, but so often the different groups don't unite. This is a problem with the intellectual side of things as well as the devotional and liturgical side. It was great to hang out with some of the people that I know that I don't generally hang out with and who are quite as serious about the Faith as I am, just with a slightly different face. I hope that soon the different movements at ND may be united, and if I am to help in that, bring it on.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy New Year

Now starts one of my favorite parts of the year--Advent. Maybe it's because I'm such an impatient person, but the whole waiting thing is pretty important. Paul says in the epistle for today that our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. And that was way in the first century. Now almost 2000 years later, it seems kind of a cruel joke to still keep us waiting for the consummation of our salvation. I mean, we were all prepared to go on up to heaven, but now we've had to go through all sorts of divisions, heresies, scandals, and the world turning against us. Over and over and over again. Can't Jesus just come again?

Well, Advent is here to save us. We have a period of the year where we can focus on the graces of waiting patiently and the fulfillment of our wait. After all, people had to wait for a really long time for Jesus to come the first time. We better to expect to wait at least that long.

Or he might come tonight. Who knows? Stay awake, Jesus says. Always be watching.

Here's the thing, I don't like trips. It's because I'd rather be Here or There not in between. On The Way is my least favorite experience. I took a 9.5 hour bus ride to get back to Notre Dame today. It was awful. I would rather be resting in one place or the other. Now, I like road trips if I have someone to talk to the whole time, because then all the moments would be like being somewhere instead of being between places. It's all a matter of rest. We all want it. Augustine said "I am restless until I rest in you." It'll be great, but we don't have it. We want it, but we only get those small glimpses, like a good meal, a Great Conversation, a restful night, an enjoyable game. It's sort of like Lewis's thing with Joy. An intense longing for something that we don't have, but we get tastes of. We long for glimpses of what we're waiting for, and Advent and afterwards Christmas gives us that chance. Every year.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

In Historic 9 Year Battle, Troy Falls

It took Notre Dame 9 years to respond to USC's blatant provocation and winning streak, one year less than it took the Greeks to bring Troy down according to Homer's epic The Illiad. I guess Achilles is back in the game. In the post game interview, Brian Kelly, coach of the 7-5 Irish, used the word "battled" or "battling" or "battle" at least four times, highlighting not only how important the game was for him and his team, led by freshman quarterback Tommy Rees and stricken by injuries, but also how much comparison there is between this rivalry and the Trojan War of old. The leaders in today's game were Rees, Michael Floyd (Wide Receiver), and Robert Hughes (Running Back). You might almost call them Achilles, Odysseus and Diomedes, Floyd being Achilles. Last year Floyd was injured for the game against USC, a game that came down to the last second, made famous by the Notre Dame student cheer of "One More Second", which prompted the referee to put one more second on the clock and thus giving the Irish one more play. However, in that game, the Trojans came out on top. That was when Achilles was out. Now that he's in, Notre Dame is once again able to come out on top despite the rain and four interceptions and one fumble by Rees. It was a finish that Notre Dame fans were looking for, after an up and down season, Brian Kelly's first with the Irish.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baking is a science, but cooking is an art....

Only is Art means that you don't have to have any specific rules and a science means you have to follow the recipe or else God Knows What Happens.

Anyway, I baked two pies today for Thanksgiving. I've been saying it that way, with the emphasis on the first syllable this year. Kind of odd. Never done that before. I'll put up pictures of the pies soon enough, if I am resourceful enough to take them.

I started to read the Silmarilion in Earnest last night. I started it as a ten year old, or something, and there's this thing that happens after half a lifetime that changes how you view things. This is a case in Point. The reason I picked it up again was a) Charles was reading it at the insistence of Caramel (have I mentioned these two are an Item this semester? It really offers us great Frivolity and Amusement.) and b) I used the opening chapter for my paper that I presented at the Center for Ethics and Culture Conference last weekend.

I helped my mother and father move Mrs. P's stove out and move a new one in today, which involved returning to my former place of employment, Tudor Oaks Retirement Community. They've been working on a renovation for some time, and they're close to completing it. I will, God Willing, post a post about the architecture. I described is thus "There are some problems, but it looks nice" And by that I mean that there are parts that are pleasant looking, but all in all, not a well done design.

I showed my siblings the baby monkey song. If you have not seen it, you must. Now.

I will be leaving tomorrow for Blaine/Apple Valley Minnesota to Gloat about the Packers Skewering the Vikings to my Relatives eat Thanksgiving Dinner. That will be fun.

Oh, and on the subject of controversy, if there's any that you're interested in, you might want to go straight to the primary source, look at the grammar, examine the antecedents etc. You will find that controversy is really often unnecessary, as some have already realized. That is all.

Hopefully further posting forthcoming.

Ta ta.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Richard Armitage IS Thorin Oakenshield

Ok, so after some complaints by my sister as to how Richard Armitage could possibly play an old dwarf, here is a photoshopped image of what he could look like as Thorin.

h/t: theonering.org

I think this says it all...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rekindling the Spark

I have a confession to make. I listened to one of those talk shows on one of those radio stations. You know, the ones with relationship help? Well, I did it and that's that. I'm kind of thinking though that I got something more out of it than a normal 19 year old boy would.

The "Courtship Consultant" was talking about rekindling the spark in a relationship that had been going on for a long time. He said that we should ask questions again, discover new things about the other and in general treat it like the first date.

Now I was thinking, as I'm prone to do, and I decided that that is exactly like our relationship with God. When we first discover him, we're amazed and the flame grow and grows and grows, but after a while it just sort of becomes commonplace and the flame seems more like a spark. The more one loves God the more we see there is to love. How to rekindle that spark? Ask God questions, find out more about him. Delve into the Mystery of his Being and treat it like you don't know anything about him, which basically you don't, relatively speaking. I think it's Thomas Aquinas who says that we can't what God is (except by analogy) only what he isn't. And yet, those analogies are so helpful in understanding God as best we can.

Of course, this fits in very well with my last post. We are all in need of conversion. We are all in need of the rekindling that it only possible by throwing ourselves into God's passionate Love. To Love God we must know him. And knowing him will cause our love to flourish. Let us all, convert or no, abandon ourselves for a while into His arms. I think Dante had a dream about this once....recounted in The New Life. I might have to post something about that sometime.

Constant Conversion

So, of course one of the things I was most looking forward to on fall break was going to Mass at my parish here in Milwaukee, St. Anthony of Padua. It has always been the most enriching liturgical experience for me and plus we got a new pastor over the summer. And he's awesome.

He does this thing every once in a while, a Faith Formation talk after the 10:00 Mass. He's focusing on Nature and Grace. All well and good. In answer to a question about Conversion, he talked about how St. Paul's conversion wasn't just falling off a horse and hearing a voice in the sky. He kind of had to work on coming closer to, turning toward Christ. A constant conversion. He never stopped working because he knew that he would get sloppy and probably just fall into sin.

Anyone who isn't perfect needs to convert. That's all of us. All the time.

I went to a summer camp two summers ago and the chosen theme was "Saul II Paul" (Somewhat cheesily making the word "to" be roman numerals). It was all about conversion and how even "great" Christians have to convert their lives to Jesus Christ. It's a life-long journey/race/party/what have you.

I was once again reminded of this while reading Conversion Diary (the continuation of "The Reluctant Atheist" I posted about last time). Back in 2007, the author wrote this. It reminded me so much of the kinds of thoughts that pass through my mind concerning the amazingness of creation and the whole "Wow, all this science seems so symbolic of what I believe to be a super-scientific reality". Of course, that got me thinking about the differences and similarities between myself and the author of that blog, and the main one that struck me was she's a "convert" and I'm not. Yet we still have these similar amazing discoveries and thoughts about God and creation. Then it struck me. We are ALL converts. We never stop being, and even though at the time she had already been received into the Church and was pretty gung ho about things, she wasn't done by any long shot. And neither am I. The more we find out about God, the more we want to find out and the more we find that there is to find out. We are never completely there. That's kind of why the Incarnation had to happen, considering our distance from God. He had to become one of us to show us what perfect conversion looked like.

Well, if the life if Jesus is any indication, it's not going to be pretty, but Gosh I am constantly amazed at the beauty of the universe. Suffering can be beautiful too. In fact, it is the topic of so much beautiful art, it's easy to see why. In the "ideal" state of art, suffering is beautiful. In the same way, if we submit ourselves to The Artist, he can write our pain into beauty and the world will no longer look like twisted metal sticking out of irregularly shaped cement blocks, but more like the San Damiano Crucifix. Well, that's probably a topic for a whole 'nother blog post.

Over and out, fellow converts.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Reluctant Atheist

So, I recently found this blog and it's a fascinating read. I've found a new way to waste time, which it really too bad. I think.

Fall Btreak

It's that time of year again. Last year I was in no way looking forward to coming home. In fact, I complained about being home the first night home. This year, completely different. I couldn't wait to get back home so I could collect my thoughts, get some rest, and collect my thoughts some more. Not that it's been a particular stressful semester. I mean, there's the normal issues that occur when you have a lot of idealist Catholics trying to get anything done. Oh, and a lot of designing that stretches my abilities and mental presence to breaking point. I can see why the Post-Moderns said "To hell with this. I'll just design whatever I want." But like most things in life, the easy is rarely the good.

This semester hasn't been easy, but neither has it been bad. It has been challenging, but for those who know me, that's what I like. However, every once in a while, one just wants to take a break. Eat some doughnuts and drink some soothing non-caffeinated beverage (Actually, with the people I hang out with, that wouldn't happen. Caffeine all the Way!)

And it's not like I won't have things to do here. There's always driving for the Fam, writing a paper for the Center for Ethics and Culture Conference at Notre Dame, catch up on reading, sleeping, and eating, as well as catching up with the Sibs. Unfortunately we haven't had our regular SibChat for a while, which will have to be remedied. Oh, and I'm making Dinner in about 5 minutes. All in all, I wanted to come home this time, and I hope that's a sign of maturity. Or maybe I've just become a disillusioned cynical jaded college student.

Ha. Ha.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Observance and obsession

Look at it from the perspective of the generic "facebook stalker". Not really much harm in finding out more about this extremely interesting person. Oh look, she's part of the Chess Club!, She likes REM! Her birthday is in two days! She looks like she read a lot. She likes a lot of the same movies I do. Wow, I can find so much about her....I feel like I almost know her, but I can't let on I found this all out...

Ok, so maybe this isn't the best approach to a relationship. Wouldn't it be better just to meet this girl in real life, get to know her and through your interactions with her find out more about her? Of course, one of the main benefits to this is that on facebook, the discovery is made by yourself. The "joy" at finding out this information is for your personal enjoyment and pleasure. What if you found the same things out in conversation with her? You would SHARE the experience and your friendship would be solidified.

I would term the first situation as an "obsession" and the second one as "observance". The same can be applied to our life as Christians. There are so many rich elements in the Christian life: Beautiful architecture, beautiful prayers, beautiful religious art, beautiful symbolisms, beautiful devotions, not to mention the Eucharist and all THAT means.

Look at it from the perspective of the pious person. Not really any harm in finding out more about God, right? Oh, look, the Church sets up beautiful liturgies to honour this God. What a beautiful liturgy, what a beautiful prayer, what a beautiful painting, what a beautiful Church. God has the same taste that I do. Look at what a relationship with God allows me to participate in.

Ah, but there's the danger. God HAS given us these things to bring us closer to him. He does wish us to honour him with beauty which is his own gift to us. He does want us to be amazed by the world and his creation. But the focus shouldn't on the beautiful things, it should be on God. Our response should be "look at what I participate in allows me to do, come closer to a God that transcends even any of these things.

Now, far be it from me to suggest that we abandon the beauties and practices that have been established to give glory to God. Rather, we should be careful that the path to God does not become our God. We should not reject outward expressions for an interior personal relationship with God that had no visibility. As the pope has been making clear in his recent talks and homilies in Britain, We have a role in the Public Square, but this doesn't only mean getting involved in politics. Since Benedict XVI has a strong liturgical sense, I would say he's referring to liturgy as well. Liturgy means "public work" and if it is the public work of the church, it ought to be done well, as any work out to be done.

Our work is never done. I mean, it's all right to "Rejoice always, pray constantly", but of course that takes many forms. As the laity, we are called to apostolate, and that means getting our hands dirty sometimes. You can't work with clay and not get some on your hands. In this case, we're working with clay infused with the Holy Spirit, and we'd better be careful. If we say that God is the most important part of life and then our actions say that our relationship with God gives us all these beautiful things, thats putting the beautiful things on a plane higher and more important than God.

One of the main ways of apostolate is through friendship. The true friendship is one that is based on a common regard for the other's good. The good of every person is unification with God. Therefore every action in a friendship should not only not bring the friend away from God, but bring the friend closer. One of the most important ways of doing this is through beauty. To rejoice over beauty, to get excited about the good things in life. to, in fact, love life. The thing about a Christian is that he has a reason for loving life besides that he just has it.

One of the most beautiful things in the world is the Tradition of the Church. Imagine God's glorious goodness that allows us to receive his word through Scripture and through the Magisterium. Imagine the munificence of a God who remains with us always and guides us on the path to him. As a community. As a family. As a Church. It is beautiful. But we must remember that the point of this beauty is God. He is the end. He is the Telos. He is the ultimate beauty that all created beauty is a reflection of. Don't get caught up in the beauty of this world. It is the most deceiving of all false gods. Bring people to God through beauty, but the way people experience this beauty is different for different people. To enforce your experience of beauty on someone is emphasizing the means at the expense of the end. Help them discover their own experience of the Beauty of God. Then you will be a true friend, not a "recruiter". Teach them to observe the beauties of the Church in order to find out more about God rather than obsess over the specific beauties that have become ends in themselves.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rites and Responsibilities

Catholic puns are too hard to resist.

Over the weekend I attended a lecture here at Notre Dame on Religion and American Public Life that focused on the speech given by John F. Kennedy on the separation of Church and State. One of the panelists made the point that as religious people, we have the right to practice our religion and have our faith inform our decisions even in the public life, but in America we also have the responsibility to be good citizens. It's a two-sided coin (like a lot of things...) I did a write up on it that will appear in the Irish Rover, a student run publication here on campus.

Further thinking, of course, led me to think of this in terms of our Catholic faith. It is easy to take our religion for granted because of this freedom extended to us by the US of A. It is easy to go to Mass. It is easy to call yourself Catholic, cause it's just another religion that is tolerated here in America.

Notwithstanding the argument that this can lead to lackadaisical worship and/or lukewarm faith and practice of the faith, we as Catholics have this same two-sided coin. We have rights and responsibilities as well, within the Church itself. We have the right to go the Mass, to pray daily, to practice theology, to interpret scripture (within a framework set forth by St. Augustine). However, a lot of people would think that these are actually burdens set upon the shoulders of the faithful that they have to do in order to get to heaven. As St. Augustine knew, though, we don't deserve heaven. We can't do things and think we have the "right" to get to heaven.

What's kind of funny is that all of these "rights" that we have come with an integral responsibility. Just as the right to vote, or to protest in America must be done in a specific way, Mass, prayer, theology and scriptural interpretation must be done responsibly, within the framework of the teachings of the Church.

With that introduction, I'll dive into a specific question: The "right" to Communion. First of all, it's "Communion Rite", so now that we have that cleared up, we can discuss this thing.

I know that most of us have heard about the controversy of certain politicians receiving Communion. However, the question is broader than that. Who has the right to Communion? I think the simple answer is no one. No one deserves it. No one is owed it. We deserve damnation, not a foretaste of heaven. It is such an integral part of the Mass and so the faithful, understandably, think that to participate in the Mass we should get in line to receive the Eucharist as part of this participation. The thing that we often miss however is that that which we receive isn't just something we receive, but also something we worship. It is God. It is Jesus Christ Himself. If that's true, we shouldn't even THINK about approaching Him unless we have first washed ourselves in and out, unless we first let him purify us. There's a reason that we have Mass and not just a Communion Service. We need to be directed toward the worship of Him Who will soon be here. We need to be prepared to see him by purifying our hearts through a general confession, opening our minds through hearing Him speak through Scripture etc. There is a reason for the Rites of Mass. And it isn't just so we can get our "Communion Right". This is why the Sacrament of Penance is so important. This is why the "other-worldliness" of the Mass is important. It MUST be something different than what we are used to or we may take it for granted and not approach the Lord with a God-centered heart and mind. The only thing we have a right to do is fall on our faces and plea for forgiveness.

But God takes our hand and picks us up. He offers us what we have no right to. He gives us Himself in a way that we can take without dying from ecstasy (St. Immelda notwithstanding). His Grace is more than we deserve but he still gives it. We shouldn't take this for granted but should strive to make ourselves as interiorly ready to receive this Grace. Although he gives freely, it is up to us to freely accept it or reject it. And accept it in the fullness of its truth is what we must strive to do. This means sometimes not going forward to Communion. It is not our right, it is God's Rite and why should we sully it?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

What does it mean to labor?

I was having a discussion with Benzene last night about work. Specifically we were discussing doing work on Sunday, it being Sunday.

For a student, there are several different types of work. There is of course homework (which I awkwardly called "discipile work") which of course includes projects, papers, readings etc. I had just spent almost eight hours on my architecture project that day. (NB: This is normal). Also, however, there is scheduled work (at one of the many on or off campus jobs available to us). Cheng tutors freshmen football players. When they need it. Her schedule happens to be on a Sunday. Furthermore, there is voluntary work: Service of different kinds etc. Then there are "chores". This includes cleaning rooms, laundry and other things like that.

Now in my family, we often would "make sure the house was presentable" whenever we got home from Mass Sunday Noon. My parents would often say that this was a) to always have the house hospitable (charity) and b) for our own sanity and mobility.

The real question is what kinds of work is acceptable for Sunday? What is Sunday for?

Sunday is the Lord's Day and a day of rest. It is a celebration of the Resurrection and the New Creation....the Eighth Day.

Therefore, the work we can do must be either creative, restful, and/or prayerful. I defended my own work last night on the somewhat weak assertion that it was "creative" in that architecture is a creative practice. Obviously the real reason (or the one that was foremost in my mind) was because the project was due at 9:00pm. (I finished, by the way) If I had wanted to, I could have planned my week better to finish before the weekend, or at least by Saturday.

As far as work being restful, some people might actually enjoy certain chores, or certain activities that other find draining. In fact, these "labors" might be more relaxing than not doing them.

Finally, our work can be our prayer. As long as it isn't drudgery that lends itself to focus on the work itself as a hardship, it can perhaps legitimately done on Sunday.

Or, we can spend our Sunday in prayer, communion with Our Lord and each other, enjoying the New Creation.

Speaking of communion with others and God, stay tuned for my next post, hopefully on this very thing.

It's interesting that "Labor Day" is a Monday, the day after the "No-Labor Day" so to speak, but that it is a work holiday for most.

Well, not for us at ND. Got to split. Class.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reflections on Newman's thought on Faith and Reason.

Hence a lot of it is based on what Newman said. For more information on Newman and his importance to me, see this blog.

Reason linearly shows us the truth as a beam of light and Faith, through Grace helps us to experience, internalize and personalize the truth. Because our sight is blurred from sin, light helps us to see, but we can not see it fully, merely that it is there. We must approach the Truth in Faith and experience it. On the other hand, if we experience Truth in the dark, without Reason, it becomes superstition, something sensual. It is something we can close our eyes and still experience as fully as with our eyes open. We can easily become attached to it. Putting the light of human reason blurs the Truth slightly, because our reason is itself dimmed. With the Grace of God, our reason is brightened and Truth becomes more clear. Furthermore, the closer we are to the truth in our journey called Faith, the better we can see the truth. With both a grace filled reason and a faith enervated with Grace, we will discover the Truth as well as we can on earth. How does the objectivity of Truth relate to this? I appeal to the old parable of the blind men and the elephant. We call all see Truth, but it is always a little bit different view for each even though it is one thing. One aspect is much different than another, but it is the same Truth. Especially when we see with reason, these beams of light will illuminate different parts of the Truth. Only if we can find some source of information about the full Truth will we be able to see more. One way is inference. In this way, we can take what we see illuminated and infer what is right next to that part of the Truth. Another way is for other people to tell us what they see. Of course in our Catholic Understanding, God is infinite and in fact Truth itself, thus He will know the Truth better than anyone. If He tells us, it bound to be right. This is where revelation comes in. If god tells us something, we’d better listen and then we’ll be able to know the parts of Truth we aren’t able to see clearly or see at all. As long as we see enough of the Truth to see that God exists and knows the Truth, we will be able to listen to him to find out the rest. Of course the knowledge of God’s existence and His Infiniteness is only possible through this discovery of the truth through faith and reason in His Grace. One way His Grace works is through other people. Because they see a different part of His Truth, they will be able to get us a bigger picture. This is one reason why a faithful and reasonable education is essential. Our parents as our first teachers help us to see Truth for the first time. Then other teacher, friends etc. How then can we learn the whole Truth? One common suggestion is to seek out different cultures and see and understand their take on the truth. Good and well, especially if it is the context of objective and not subjective Truth. Cultural Relativism only breaks our faith and reason if we try to embrace all cultural “truths” and it limits them if we only embrace one cultural “truth”. The correct way to understand different cultures is to see them as illuminating different parts of One United Truth. Now this seeking out of different cultures and perspectives is good, but we must not let it become a “spotted” understanding of the Truth. If we can not connect the two perspectives of Truth, we are merely dividing Truth, maybe to the point of contradiction. The unification of Truth is only possible through some sort of authority. There needs to be some sort of standard on which to base this unity. Thus we not only need a set of standards or law, but we need authority. Thirdly we need some place where God gives us the Truth. Here we have the basis for Scripture and Tradition (God’s Word, written and oral), The Magisterium (the teaching authority of the church), and The Ten Commandments, Canon Law, and Dogmatic Teachings (Set of standards). Thus if we are looking for Truth, this is where we should look. Not only does the Church have the structure needed for an inquiry into Truth, but it also teaches the co-operation of Faith and Reason as well as the objectivity of Truth.

I’m pretty sure there was a reason that Christ established a Church.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Alex O'Donnell and the Forty Cyberthieves

Catholic Teen author Regina Doman has released another book. It is a modern re-telling of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. It involves such awesome things as 1) Catholicism 2) Ninjas and Samurai 3) Computer Hacking 4) a beat up Red Toyota.

I have read all of her other books in the series and while they're not Tolkien, they are quite a read. Specifically Waking Rose and Midnight Dancers , which Regina Doman edited for the stage for our homeschool group.

Alex seems to be one of the better ones. Mostly because it involves Techie-ness and real life drama!

I've only read the first two chapters, but I'm thinking that I approve.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Official Legit Week

I hereby proclaim this week to be Official Legit Week wherein the Band Known As Legit will practice and practice until it is crazy in preparation for its concert on Saturday. We will be singing something like 10 original song,

We are not ready.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Eucharist: A Participation in the Eternal Sacrifice and Eternal Life.

Today in our homily at St. Anthony's, Fr. Cliff Ermatinger, our new pastor, our new pastor gave a homily about hope. The reading were, of course all about the vanity of riches etc. and how they will pass away. The way we stay detached from earthly possessions is if we have hope in Christ and our heavenly possessions. He gave us the promise of Eternal Life (Through his sacrifice) and we hope in that. Fr. Ermatinger said that the Eucharist is the connection between The Promise and The Fulfillment as it is both the Sacrifice and a taste of the Fulfillment (which is perfect communion with God). As the Catholic Church teaches, it is the SAME Sacrifice as the one on Calvary. It is our way of uniting ourselves not only to the Sacrifice in a very literal way, but also uniting to the Person of Christ. Communion with the Sacrifice and the Fulfillment. It is truly a Sacrament of hope.

However, I was also thinking of the Eucharist as specifically and literally a foretaste of our Life in Heaven. St. Augustine says (I like quoting him) "How great shall be that felicity, which shall be tainted with no evil, which shall lack no good, and which shall afford leisure for the praises of God, who shall be all in all! For I know not what other employment there can be where no lassitude shall slacken activity, nor any want stimulate to labor." Our life in heaven will be one of action and rest. At the same time. Nothing will weary us, in fact the praise of God will fulfill our need to rest. I was noticing at the Consecration that it is truly the culmination and climax of the Mass. Any other time that there is silence, it is usually when the Priest is sitting. No action, just rest, or contemplation. However at the Consecration, the priest is acting in persona Christi to offer a Sacrifice to the Father. It is of course silent during the whole thing in the Tridentine Mass, but even in the Novus Ordo there is the silence at the Elevation and it is a silence of action, but also of resting in His Presence. It is active and contemplative. It is in fact a foretaste of heaven.

The Eucharist is truly awesome. Many thanks to Fr. Ermatinger and all priests for giving their lives to be God's instruments in bringing us this Greatest of Gifts.

Reposted: Knowledge, Truth, and Love

Quid Veritas est? What is Truth? It's what Pilate asked, and I don't know that the answer is very easy to come up with. Of course, it depends on what you mean by truth. Relativism being rampant in the current age, truth has sort of been pushed to the wings by the stage-stealer Personal Opinion. Well, truth hasn't flown away quite yet. Reality isn't really possible without it.

Knowledge is an internalization of Truth. To know something is to see its Truth. If 2+2=4, then when we know it, we are participating in its truth. To teach then is to give the Truth.

"I am the way, the Truth and the Life." Jesus is that Truth. He is also Rabboni, Teacher. He is what he gives. To know him then is to know the Truth. "Know love and serve God in this world and the next", right? It's one of the amazing things about there being a personal God. You can know him. He can give his life for you, you can give your life for him. He is a friend, a Father, a brother, a King. But whatever he is, he IS, and that's what matters. He is the Truth.

If he is the Truth, we can Know him. If we can Know him, we can Love him. You can't love what you don't know. Similarly, St. Augustine said at the end of the City of God: "[In heaven] we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise." Yes, when we SEE God we shall surely know him and we shall love him. But Jesus himself said "Blessed are they who have not seen and still believe. We are all in that position, and if we believe The Truth (for he himself IS the Truth), we are blessed if we believe in him, strive to know him and subsequently love him without seeing him. Of course our Knowledge and Love will be fulfilled in Heaven and we shall truly praise him, but why not start now, as soon as possible?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Three Day Weekend

I wonder what Jesus felt like on his three day weekend?

This weekend is about the longest break I've had from a schedule that makes me wake up, eat breakfast, work for 7 hours, come home, eat, go to rehearsal for three hours, come home, eat and go to bed. it's a busy life, but I am enjoying it. Jesus probably had it harder. After the Passion I bet it was a relief to go open the gates of Hell. After having to "suspend" his divine power for a while, he could show what he was REALLY made of.

On weekends like this, I like making things, creating things, writing, composing, drawing. If creativity is a participation in the work of God (opere dei), I too can show what I'm really made of.

I already fixed the lawn mower.

I may have to cut the lawn, but a weekend also gives me the opportunity to discover God in creativity. For that I am thankful.

Before Monday evening I have to a) record some music b) draft and abstract for a paper proposal and c) Design something. it's not quite Opening the Gates of Hell, but it's something.

Ta ta.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I wish...

...I could live in one of these cities. yes I know they're all quite different.

Word of the Day

6/13/10--17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Pseudo-profundity: n. A Quality that my statements often exhibit. Deep, huh?


Thursday, June 10, 2010


XKCD this link is a trap. you will never have a life again. don't do it. You HAVE to read it. It is SO funny.

Ok, so maybe not. Maybe you just don't get sophisticated intelligent humor.

Try Doghouse Diaries instead.This will consume your life and you will never get anything done ever again. Bring it on? OK. A little less nerdy, equally as funny

Or if you hate Twilight, love Harry Potter and want to hear all about people's lives, just go to MLIA You will hate yourself for doing this, but you will do it and you will find it strangely fascinating until you find something more time consuming, pointless and hilarious.

I have this strange love/hate relationship with these sites. I'm sure there are more.

Oh, and I think Doghouse is the best, jsyk.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pretty and Boring.

If I have one major complaint against modern man, it's that he is close-minded. And one of the areas I really notice this is in the area of music. I have talked to so many people (mostly teens, I guess, or at least from the ambiguous group "young people") that only value music from the last 20 years (in some cases 30). Within the last three decades, there has been a huge boom in the music industry. In terms of modern pop music, the industry has gone from producers like George Martin, who kept within the framework of previous musical traditions (putting together the music symphonically, so my dad always says.) to the seventies where true "mainstream pop" came into being. From there, it went through the eighties and nineties and finally reached the 2000s. At this point, the hip hop movement truly flourished. The sixties was where pop was going through adolescence. The seventies were the college days of pop. I feel like the 2000s are the decade of the mid-life crisis. Pop music was divorced from its roots in the long range musical tradition and is now finally trying to deal with it. And the children of this divorce are as dysfunctional as can be expected. Hip-hop, that gloriously gyrating musical style has captured the bodies of the faithful. And what better music to portray the horrors of the sexual revolution than that which focuses primarily on the body. Just listening to current dance music and hip-hop is enough to make one gag. Why would anyone WANT to hear about this stuff, except to inspire inappropriate actions on the dance floor and in the bedroom?

And then there's that strange phenomenon called "indie", the rebellious eldest child of Pop. Always disagreeing with the parents just to disagree, and expressing that through music's pretty easy. Just don't do what anyone else is doing. The greatest sin is to be mainstream. if you see a trend, reject it.

I'm kind of dissatisfied with where pop has gone. Lady GaGa and Ke$ha, Nickelback, and Green Day. Owl City.

Certainly not boring. Pop is anything but boring.

Unless you actually think about it. The fact that the levels of complexity, the layers of meaning, the depths you can plumb in this music are about between 1 and 2. Not a singer? No need to be. Auto-tune it. ANYONE can be a pop-star. It takes no musical talent to be a musician anymore. All you need is a desire to work the system and the money to do it.

Take Lady GaGa for instance. She started out writing piano-pop/blues songs. they showed her skill, and she could sing. Now, it's all about effects on the voice, ruining any chance to share her real voice, raunchy lyrics, which completely degrade her, and music to make the body respond. It's one dimensional, and it's boring.

And they call Classical Music, Chant, Polyphony, The Beatles, The Moody Blues, The Beach Boys Boring?

If we wanted to engage our whole selves in the music, we could find enough to interest us for hours. That's how interesting it is. We are multi-faceted people. We should have multi-faceted music.

But no, it's pretty, maybe, but boring.

So much current music is both not pretty and boring.

Pop music should learn from its elders.

I have nothing against Pop music, but when that's the only music you'll listen to, it gets pretty obnoxious. Learn to use your mind when listening to music. Learn to expand your knowledge, broaden your horizons.

Or am I just preaching to the Choir?

Or are Choirs outdated?

I'm just preaching to the Band.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A New Job: Reflections off the Subway

So, This morning, I got on the subway system here in Milwaukee. Actually, not because there is none. I was looking for jobs as I've been doing for the past couple weeks, and Subway seemed my last chance. turned out it wasn't, and I'm kind of glad because they didn't seem very friendly at any of the Subways I visited. Instead I am being employed, miraculously, by Summit Educational Association. It is program to help kids develop in three areas, I guess. Academics, Recreation, and Character Building. It involves things like field trips, career speakers and sports games. And most importantly, one on one interaction with the kids. I will be a "Senior Staff" member, meaning I will be in charge of a group of 9-12 kids (boys, probably fifth grade) for eight weeks, helping them with reading, math and sports. And then getting to know them individually. It's kind of funny. This is obviously a more important Work than working at subway (Pun intended. Summit is in some mysterious way affiliated with Opus Dei.)

In fact, this is one opportunity for me to imitate God. He is the only one who can know billions of people on a communal level and an individual level. At Summit, I'm supposed to know my team as a team and get to know each kid as well. In Time it's pretty hard. It's something that I'm willing to try though. It's on a much smaller scale, but everything we do is. We can't love as much as God can.

The only way I can do it though is to let God work through me. It's not My Work, right? God works in wondrous ways, and one of those ways is through people. Maybe, just maybe my work which is actually God's work will help a child see the good, the true and the beautiful.

All i know is that it's a good as heck training for fatherhood...

Bring it on.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Smoke on the Mountain

I like to act, in case you were wondering. I haven't really gone without it for the past three years...or more. This summer, it's a play with the Christian Theatre Company called Acacia here in Milwaukee. The play is ok, not a masterpiece or anything. A musical which consists mostly of spirituals accompanied my bluegrass instruments. I play an up and coming Baptist preacher named Dennis. We meet at the "Church in the City" which is an interesting building for numerous reasons. The most interesting feature is a Venetian looking facade. It's kind of depressing inside, and the exterior is this Venetian balcony slapped onto a normal brick building.

It's hard to switch gears so much, which is what I've had to do. Coming home, trying to find work, driving people places (I drove to Chicago for the first time today) and then this play. I've never been an extremely disciplined actor, and my heart isn't really in it, so I'll have to steer pretty constantly to keep on track with it all. Not to mention that I have some pretty major responsibilities around the house. I don't think I'll have time to settle down this summer, do watercoloring, hanging out with friends. We'll see. I'll probably be getting together with Legit, my band, tomorrow.

One wants control, but so often we don't have it. It takes a lot out of you.

But being IN control is even more stressful. when we're in control, we have to worry about things.

Now, about getting a job...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Knowledge, Truth and Love

Quid Veritas est? What is Truth? It's what Pilate asked, and I don't know that the answer is very easy to come up with. Of course, it depends on what you mean by truth. Relativism being rampant in the current age, truth has sort of been pushed to the wings by the stage-stealer Personal Opinion. Well, truth hasn't flown away quite yet. Reality isn't really possible without it.

Knowledge is an internalization of Truth. To know something is to see its Truth. If 2+2=4, then when we know it, we are participating in its truth. To teach then is to give the Truth.

"I am the way, the Truth and the Life." Jesus is that Truth. He is also Rabboni, Teacher. He is what he gives. To know him then is to know the Truth. "Know love and serve God in this world and the next", right? It's one of the amazing things about there being a personal God. You can know him. He can give his life for you, you can give your life for him. He is a friend, a Father, a brother, a King. But whatever he is, he IS, and that's what matters. He is the Truth.

If he is the Truth, we can Know him. If we can Know him, we can Love him. You can't love what you don't know. Similarly, St. Augustine said at the end of the City of God: "[In heaven] we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise." Yes, when we SEE God we shall surely know him and we shall love him. But Jesus himself said "Blessed are they who have not seen and still believe. We are all in that position, and if we believe The Truth (for he himself IS the Truth), we are blessed if we believe in him, strive to know him and subsequently love him without seeing him. Of course our Knowledge and Love will be fulfilled in Heaven and we shall truly praise him, but why not start now, as soon as possible?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

From the Rising of the Sun to its Setting: A new look at Marchiturgy

Here is an idea for a book I'm writing.

God has given us a body and a soul, two essential elements of our human person, and because they are both essential, we only fully realize ourselves when we use both. Two heresies spring up almost monotonously throughout the history of humanity: the first could be called the Soulist and the second the Fleshist. The Soulist believes the flesh and all matter to be inexorable evil and something to be shrugged off and the Fleshist believes that matter is the ultimate reality and that the spiritual world is merely an illusion. These heresies spring up in theology, philosophy, science, and art. The Docetists believed that Christ was a mere appearance of a man. Kant proposed Transcendental Idealism, stating that all matter was appearance. According to some, the problems of the body are really problems of the mind. The immaterial immediately becomes what is important because either the body is evil, or it doesn’t exist or it is irrelevant. The Fleshist takes the opposing view. Christ was just another man, not divine. Materialism is the choice of the Fleshist. He sneers at psychology.
Why do we do these things to ourselves? Why do we torture our minds and bodies with these divisions. Man is one substance consisting of a body and a soul and because of this, every one of our actions, to be truly fulfilling, must use both. I want to look at Music, Architecture and Liturgy from this standpoint. How each complement the others and how they all three can be truly human and give authentic glory to God.
I use the word Marchiturgy because of this close connection between the three. We’ve all experienced Marchiturgy. It’s that experience of the three either in separation from each other or in cooperation with each other. Good marchiturgy will bring all three elements together and make our worship both more human and more God-centered, for what is more human than to be God centered, we who are made in His image. Because of this, worship starts with God. Always. In Christian Tradition, God place is in the East. Christ the Sun rises and brings life to the world. Our beginnings are in God’s hands just as the beginning of the day is in the East. We start our worship with God, at the Rising of the Sun, in the East. But God’s love and guidance is throughout the whole day. His rays reach every part of us as we struggle in this life. He is also there at the End “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” If Christians truly seek salvation through Christ, they will end up with God. God then is at the setting of the Sun. The end of the day, the goal of our journey. Because of this, marchiturgy should reflect God’s prime importance, and his place at the beginning and the end.
We await the coming of the Savior. We await the time when he arises for the last time and establishes his kingdom. Hence, the architectural and theological concept of “Liturgical East”. If we are waiting for someone do we turn away from them? Do we go off to other tasks or do we not indeed always peek out the window, hoping beyond hope that we will catch a glimpse of the person we love. “To you, therefore, most merciful Father,” we look. We look to the east and await the coming of Love Himself, for where is there fulfillment but in the Divine Love?
This has several implications. In liturgy, it means that our words should reflect this God-centeredness and this awaiting of the Sun. We should always address God and when we talk to someone we do not look away, but instead try to face them. In this way, the liturgy requires the tabernacle where Christ Himself is to be visible and in a prominent place, and even faced. For why would we look away from our Savior when we are most in direct communication with him? The architecture of a building influences this highly. The East Window so common in many gothic style churches brings our attention to the East, to the coming of Christ. An orientation of the church that requires all to face in one direction--East. This centers our worship on Christ and his coming.
For many centuries, it has been the tendency to put ourselves first, center all the attention on ourselves. In fact, this is a general human tendency. However, it has become more and more prevalent to put Man first: Human achievement, Human work, Human thought. When our liturgy becomes “Man-Centered” then it suffers and becomes truly inhuman. This can be very easily seen in Sacred Music. A hymn for night prayer “O Radiant Light, O Sun Divine” is an obvious address to God, whereas the “hymn” “Take Me, Take me as I am” is a demand on God that is centered on ourselves. It is no wonder that the words later refer to God as “Mother” which is more or less problematic. Music can be us-centered, and not only in lyrics. In its presentation it can be showy and performance. Every time a piece of music does not focus our attention on the Source of all Music, it is a marchiturgical failure. It has ceased to be liturgical and cannot join with the architecture and bring out our worship in a truly human, that is God-centered, way. God song in each of us is our source of music, and to not direct our song toward Him is to not thank Him.
The peak of all three, Liturgy, Architecture and Music occurred in the centuries before the Protestant Reformation. Starting at the beginning of the Church, we can see development of doctrine, and with it development of liturgy, architecture and music. By the time of Aquinas, the emphasis was less on the development and more on the analysis and explication of doctrine. When Liturgy responded to all the doctrinal development and became a most complete worship of the Almighty and when architecture and music responded to the liturgical and doctrinal needs, then we, the Church, had the epitome of marchiturgy. To look back at the 12th and 13th centuries is not to “throw back” but rather to stay at the peak of the mountain. Once a climber has reached the peak and looks out at the vistas before him, he does not say “let us go back down and not look back. We must always move forward. No. He understands that the peak was his goal and only there is he truly fulfilled. The “progress” of liturgical, musical, and architectural “development” is merely this climbing down from the peak we already attained. What does it mean to the climber that he has to make the summit “relevant” to others? Does it mean he must leave the summit? If so, he may never find his way back there, and he can describe the beauty of it to people, but it will never be as vibrant and alive as the actual experience. Let others climb up to join him and they will discover the beauty themselves. It will be hard, but it is worth it. But he will not climb down. In this way, we can look to the marchiturgy of the Middle Ages and see the peak. Marchiturgy that allies itself to that peak is truly authentically human and we must seek it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The First Day Back/Commencement Weekend/Chicago Daze

I am back home on the shores of the great Lake Michigan. [Self-disclosure]I am beginning to see Milwaukee as either a really boring place or a really fascinating place. Compared to Chicago, its skyline fails, it's public transportation system is a drag and I don't think I've ever had a real adventure here to date. Yesterday was an 11 hour day of coming back to Milwaukee via Chi-town (It was 11 hours because of complications with helping Caramel get to Midway Airport), and it was one of the most intense and fun days I've ever had. It involved two trains, two subway lines, the elevated train, 3 miles of walking with way too much luggage. It resulted in: A visit to the Chi-town Cathedral, an omelet at a cafe that doesn't show up on googlemaps (in fact, in street view, the building is inhabited by a printing place)and an aching back. It was a great adventure, but now I'm home.

That was the second time in a week I'd been to Chicago, the first being for Choir Tour. On that same trip, the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir went to Milwaukee. Connie Jackie and I went to the Rock Bottom cafe on the Milwaukee River. It was great fun. Milwaukee is really a fascinating town with funny Ethiopian restaurants, tons of great churches and it's my home.

Anyway, it's great to be back, even if it means I have to look for a job.

The couple days before this all was Commencement Week at Notre Dame. The speeches at Commencement were great and the last night at ND I watched Avatar with a bunch of friends. All I know is that I can't wait for the school year to start again. I eagerly await August.

But I am so tired. So maybe it's a good thing that there's a summer...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

City of God

If I'm not mistaken, this was the title of a book by St. Augustine, one of the greatest Fathers of the Latin Church.

The reason I bring it up is that I have been reading Vitruvius for "Analysis of Architectural Writings" exam. He tells the story of the architect Dinocrates. Dinocrates was Alexander the Great's personal architect, and when Alexander came to Egypt he "ordered Dinocrates to lay out the city Alexandria in his name." Thinking about this, I realized that it is our job to build the City of God. God the Father has ordered his Son, the architect of Creation to lay out His Kingdom and we are the builders. However, if we are to be the builders, where are our Blueprints? Where are God's drafts?

Well, when an architect conceives of a concept, he sketches it out after thinking it through. He works the kinks out, finally coming out with a design that will work. Then he drafts it and presents it. God himself has sketched out his City of God in the Old Testament. It's where all the ideas go, but it isn't fulfilled until it's drafted. This final draft is the New Testament. Some people may interpret this to mean that we should not pay any attention to the Old Testament, after all, it's just a sketch. However, you can't draft something easily without it sketched out first. The sketch is necessary and sometimes tells something to the viewer that the draft doesn't always explain, but together the whole thing makes sense.

During the Early Church, the City of God was being rendered in color, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the early Christians messed up, spilled their washes, didn't get enough water on the paper, the paint sometimes went outside the lines. Even we do this sometimes. We are so concerned about a certain part of the project that the paint dries elsewhere while we're focused on that certain part. We are often too watered down to stay in the lines. The lines are after all there for a reason. The master architect will be able to make an excellent presentation even if we stray out of the lines, but it would be a better presentation if we stayed in the lines.

Now we are building the City of God, but this isn't a City here on earth, it is the drawing of all into the Master Plan of Christ. The Salvation of Souls and the Eternal Life of heaven. Currently, we have a representative from the Heavenly Firm, namely the Pope. What always seems to happen is that the on-site architect is blamed for any mistakes there are. If there is a collapse in the structure, the workers might get hurt, and whosever fault it was will possibly never be known, but still the architect is blamed. In the same way, the pope is often blamed for the mistakes of others, for not paying enough attention to everything. He takes the fall for his workers. In the end though, it's not the architect at fault. He can't be everywhere at once.

The Spiritual work of building the City of God is all of ours in different ways. Some are plumbers, some carpenters, some siders, some are landscapers, some are metal-workers. But no matter what we mess up, we have to get past it and continue on the work that is ours. The work to build what Christ has designed as set down in Scripture (Sketch, and Draft) and Tradition (Watercolor). He has truly laid out the City of God, and we must build it in his name.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Peace to Men of Goodwill

I contributed to society the other day.

Yep, with Jackie, Dillon, and Virginia I went to Goodwill and shopped, acquiring six or seven ties, two suit jackets (summer), Trivial Pursuit, a mantle clock, silverware for the room next year and a couple other things.

I actually don't feel like I even gave anything to the poor, seeing as I got so much out of it for like, nothing. All in all it was $20. Well at least it's something.

Charity is an interesting thing. People so often think of it as monetary gift to someone less fortunate. (as a disclaimer, I really am not a fan of the word "marginalized" I don't know why.) I think charity is much more. And I think to find out what it means, we have to look at examples. I'd suggest Mary, Theotokos

We first learn of Mary in Matthew's Gospel. Her first "scene" so to speak is when the Magi come to worship Christ. They came to the house and the found the child with Mary his mother. It is through Mary that we can approach Christ and worship him. I think we can take out first lesson in charity from this scene. Mary shows Christ to the Magi in the "epiphany" (or more precisely, theophany). Charity is showing Christ to others. He is Truth and Love. And He is salvation. If we show people all these things, we will have participated in Charity,

We also find Mary, after humbly accepting the Savior into her womb, going to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. Even though she herself will need care soon, and was probably a little overwhelmed by the recent actions of God, she still finds it in her heart to serve her cousin when she needed help. This is another action of Charity. It is often referred to as "Service". (Virginia will attest to the validity of this form of Charity) Direct, personal aid for someone with no return. It was not for bragging rights, not for money, not for a resume that Mary visited Elizabeth, It was because she cared for her. Our hidden service is Charity. Our ostentatious service is Pride, and although it may accomplish good, it is not a virtuous action in the same way that "secret service" is. To truly serve without notice is Charity.

At the wedding at Cana, Mary asks her Son to help her friends the bride and bridegroom. He does it. Now may people comment how this shows that Christ will do anything for His Mother, even the most mundane task of turning water into wine. I would take a different approach. If we are to imitate Mary, we must learn to intercede on the behalf of others, even in the everyday things, It is said that St, Therese converted more sinners by her prayer than Francis Xavier did in all his missionary work. This is truly the work of Charity, to devote time and energy to praying to God on others' behalves. Mary did it, and her Son listened. He will listen to our prayers of Charity.

The last example is more general. Mary's suffering. Of course she endures seeing her Son die on the cross, which in itself is probably the hardest thing. But besides that, she has to flee to Egypt, lose Christ in the temple, watch him be hounded by the authorities. Her life is full of suffering, However, she knows that she must fulfill God's will. If that involves suffering, let it be done. It is for the salvation of souls, the highest law. We too can suffer for the sake of others and especially for their salvation. This is charity.

It is only through God's grace that we can truly develop this virtue. Mary, Immaculately conceived, was "full of grace". She developed charity better than anyone else. Grace, the life of God, is breathed into us by the Holy Spirit and since it is a life of Charity, we receive Charity. This is the great thing about the sacraments. An outward sign of an inward grace. A source of Charity.

I think that no matter how important gifts of money are to helping the poor, and they are indeed very important, we cannot forget that the human person is more than the body. A person is a body and a soul. The soul needs salvation and life. To work with God in granting that salvation is the highest act of charity we can do, for only in salvation is a person fully happy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Current Reading Material.

Creepy Much? I think so. Dracula's a pretty disturbing book.

Kant, Can't, Chant

Besides just random musings on relevant topics, I will occasionally post something on Music, on Architecture, on Philosophy, or on Theology. In fact, each of these topics will have their own "Series". I've already started them.

For now, however, all I have to say is that I'm serving Mass tonight, and I'm sort of under the Clouds. Those vitamin (pronounced: vit-a-min, not vite-a-min) tablets seem to not be working. And I've been getting sleep. Oh well. Maybe I just get sick around exam time. Time to consume more Orange Juice.

Oh, and the lilacs are blooming. Right outside the Basilica. This is very happy news.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Come Sail Away....

So, last week I started a new architecture project. The assignment is to design a new boathouse for the sailing club here at Notre Dame. it's pretty awesome because for the first time I get to mess around with dimensions as well as detailing, style, and significance. My current plan is based in the numbers 17 and 43. Cecilia has an obsession with the number 43, and I have one with 17. It's working very well. I'm even going to incorporate the Golden Rectangle. I'll put pictures up when I can. It's mostly in the sketch phase.

Friday, April 16, 2010


In my last post, I mentioned the Emotionalization of Love. After a day of reflection (and reading Thomas Merton), I realized that this Emotionalism applies to almost every aspect of our lives. Every action can be emotionalized. Although there is also an "intellectualization" of actions, where the intellectual aspect overrides the will and emotions, my focus tends to be on emotionalism, since I kind of suffer from it more.

Very specifically, our Faith can suffer from Emotionalism. When we pray, we can sometimes want to experience a "feeling" of faith. Something like "I feel like God is with me, everything is alright and I have never been closer to God." If we want this every time we pray, we will be sadly disappointed. It then ends up being a desire for the feeling instead of a desire for real closeness to God. This is similar to the abuse of "Joy" in C.S. Lewis's definition. Lewis speaks of a burning sometimes painful desire for something that is not quite attainable. However, this is often at first combined with an intense feeling, and eventually, it can become merely a desire for the feeling and not the transcendent thing which is actually desired. This emotionalism is a wide spread disease.

Sometimes, you just have to do rote prayers, read spiritual reading that you don't feel like reading and that doesn't inspire you. Because it's the Right Thing to Do. Heaven and the fulfillment of closeness to God will be better than any feeling of closeness. In fact, it will be the fullest feeling that is possible. Such a feeling is impossible for us humans to experience in our current state.

I think I suffer from emotionalism.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Falling in Love...

I was talking to Caramel, Charles, Algernon, Jerome, and Dillon about...well, Beauty and the Beast. Disclaimer: I have nothing against Disney Movies, but am also not one of those people who almost worships them and believes them to be the best part of their Childhood cultural-wise. That being said, Charles was claiming that it was weird for Belle to fall in love with the Beast, because he was a beast. Of course, the whole

"he was rational"

point came up, followed closely by

"Yeah, but you wouldn't expect someone to fall in love with a talking animal from Narnia, would you?"

"No, but they were animals in their very being, and the Beast was a man."

"Yeah, but she couldn't tell that."

It eventually devolved into a discussion of different stories with somewhat strange love stories, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame came up (which, by the way, is on the Index). Then, the Disney Sequel, the Hunchback of Notre Dame II. We asked "Was it Esmereldas' daughter" And then, "Did Quasimodo fall in love with her?" And then Caramel popped the question. No, not that one. She asked:

"Is it possible to fall out of love with someone once you've fallen in love. After all, if it's true love, it'll last forever, right?"

So, that is the question that we discussed, and I will offer my thoughts to the world. Falling in Love, and What is True Love.

Well, if you asked a lot of people today, they would say that if you feel very strongly attracted to someone in one way or another, and maybe even "would do anything for him/her" then that is falling in love. Of course, this buys into the whole Emotionalization of Love. However, Love is primarily an act of the will. Do act for the good of someone else, and in the highest order, even at cost to yourself. However, what is Romantic Love? Because however you look at it, it must involve emotions, else the abuse of romantic love wouldn't be Emotionalization. The devil can never create something, only take what is there and distort it, in this case emphasize the emotional side too much.

Now, infatuation is purely emotional. You find something in another desirable, emotionally, and you become attached to that person, at least internally in some way. Now, there are intellectual attractions too, and these can lead to emotional responses, but generally, they would participate in a broader definition of love, such as friendship. Romantic Love especially seems to have an emotional element, or else sex would not have an emotional effect.

Love is, as I said before, an act of the will to do what is for the good of another. Now when these two things, infatuation and the act of the will coincide, I would call it "On the verge of falling in love" or depending on how much it involves the whole person, intellect, emotions and will, it could in fact be "falling in Love."

Now, for actually falling in love. I believe to have "fallen in love" with someone, you must have determined absolutely to stay with them through life, to live with them in sickness and health, etc. In other words, only through Christian Marriage is the state of "fallen in love" possible. The reason for this, of course, is that God is Love. Completely and totally. So to "fall in love" one must do so through God's Love.

Imagine this: God is his infinite self, yet somehow he's a Solar Object, or Star. We are all rushing toward him with our Trinitarian parts of Intellect, will and Emotions all trying to break away from the rest, or trying to redirect the course. We see others who are also traveling toward God. Now, there are our friends (Those traveling apparently parallel to us), our enemies (Those who are going perpendicular to us) and others around us. Now, there is one person nearby who, it appears, is going to meet up with you when you meet God (Or if you've changed direction, then whatever point you're going to meet at) There are a couple responses. You can: a) use your will, emotions or intellect to pull you into contact with that person before you would naturally meet up. This is unwise. b) You could wait until you reached God to see if you two met. And third, you can use your will intellect or emotions to run away. Now, eventually, you will meet at God and if you both meet God at the same place, you have "fallen in love" However, you may not meet in the same place, in which case, although you thought you were falling in love, you really weren't. Then again, you might just be going along your merry way, traveling parallel to someone, and it turns out that you were really just at such a close angle, that eventually you would meet at God. Sound familiar? So often we confuse friend for lover and lover for friend.

Thus, I would say that it is easy to stop "falling in love", but impossible to "Fall out of Love" for once you are united with your spouse in Christ, there is no backing out.

And then there are those people who kind of draw people into Christ. Since they're in the lead, they don't "collide" with anyone, but instead reach God first and delve deeper into his mystery. These are the priests and religious. And then, when we find the center, we will all be united and no one will marry or be given in marriage. All will be One in the Full Love of Christ. And No one will ever fall out.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Timelessness in Architecture

As many of you know, I am an architecture student at the University of Notre Dame. The program here is based in Classical ideas and technique. In other words, we follow the Vetruvian ideals of Firmitas, Utilitas and Venustas--Strength, Usefulness, and Beauty. All of them. We reject the modern tendency of just focusing on the utility. Also, a lot of the professors focus on Classical style as well as ideas. If you look at the walls in Bond Hall (the Architecture School building), you'll see buildings with columns of different orders (corinthian, mostly, or variations), arches, domes, vaults, pediments, ornate cornices. You name it. Not only are the ideas classical, however, but for the first three years, we don't touch computers. We do all hand drafting, plus water coloring. We do architect like the ancients did.

Well, maybe that's an exaggeration.

However, this is SO different from a lot of schools. Not everyone here is a die-hard classicist. So why do we do what we do?

The answer is two-fold, as is the question. The two folds of the question are as follows:
1) Why do we use classical ideas and style?
2) Why do we use old-fashioned technique?

1) The answer could lie in something that my professor said the other day in class. He's a young architect who graduated from the program about ten years ago. He's not a hard-line classicist, but he understands tradition as an important aspect of architecture. He was describing the different styles of architecture here on Campus, and he made the point that the first wave was "early French" and was very distinctive: yellow brick, mansard roofs, round arches etc. The second wave was the "collegiate gothic" movement. This included many of the dorms (including my own, Morrissey Manor, although Morrissey is considered "transitional"). Then, starting in the 50s and extending into the 90s, there was an era where Notre Dame hired firms (primarily Ellerbe and Associates) who put up buildings according to the trend of the decade (what other century had such a difference in trends from decade to decade?) Then, in the year 2000, the University started to return to collegiate gothic, although the architects that they've hired haven't yet perfected the style. So we get a "neo-collegiate gothic".

Now, some of these styles have stood the test of time. They are still standing, and many of them are still impressive, such as the Main Building. It's not readily evident when these were built, or what society they were designed for. They use traditional ideas and styles because they have come down to us over time. They, in other words, could be said to transcend time. However, the more "modern" buildings are very obviously built in the 80s, or 90s, or what have you. And for sure built in the 20th century. However, once a stylistic tradition has been started, and has stood the test of time (the column, for instance) then it ceases being associated only with one era, with one century, with one decade. However, the modern buildings have no distinguishing features, except simple massing, and very little ornament. Nothing sets it apart. Nothing can be handed down. Therefore, it can not transcend time.

This, then, is why we study older styles and ideas. They have lasted, and are now something that can be used in buildings without indicating any specific time. If we want our buildings to be able to be used for a long time, they must not "go out of date", they must transcend time. However, this is not to say that nothing can be added to the tradition. If there becomes a modern development of traditions, then so be it. However, up to the point of modern architecture, all architecture was merely a development of, not a break from tradition. We can find a modern architecture that is based in tradition. I firmly believe this.

2) Now, why old fashioned techniques? This is an easier question. Some people say that hand drafting is more time consuming. I've heard otherwise. Also, hand drafting has a more personal touch to it. You can be free to do exactly what you want in designing and drafting instead of depending on a software developer to create what they think you'll need. Now, Computers are very helpful, but they are not the whole answer to architecture. My professor (same one) said that hand drafting connects the spacial thought with the physical sight better than computer drafting because you are DOING exactly what your brain is telling you to, instead of just clicking and dragging. It is not only useful to be skilled at drawing (for purposes of quick sketches and drafts) but it gives you more freedom to add a personal touch and also to change the design according to the clients wishes. Finally, it is more healthy for the brain.

I sat in on a Sacred Architecture class today taught by Duncan Stroik, the Awesome. It confirmed everything I just said. Yes!

Take that, Modernists, or rather Post-Post-Modernists, which is possibly more correct.

This is a great School.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

St. Thomas More

LONDON-TOWN JUly 7th 1535--Over the past couple of the years, England has seemed in the throes of a disease. The King has assumed the title of Supreme Head of the Church in England, Queen Catherine of Aragon was put away and a prostitute is now the Queen. Unrest rules where Monarchy was once supreme. Only a strong ruler can get control. However, corruption is rife among the nobility, yes even the King is failing. Once strong, his desire for a male heir has turned instead into a Institution of Royal Prostitution. And probably the most disturbing is the Church's support for all this. Almost all the Bishops (besides John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester) supported the King's split from the Church, at least nominally. Churchmen are almost famous now for their tendency towards worldiness and debauchery. And now we learn that the last holdout against this corruption, THomas More of Chelsea has been beheaded. The world appears darker than ever, and there seems to be no hope. Either the King's Church will succeed and Christendom will be forever split, or else it will be put down, and the Roman Church, with all it's problems, will prevail. Is sanctity possible? Will anyone who is good ever survive? Why must the holy die? These are questions that we in England must ask ourselves. If our hope is in this world, the saints of our time are fools and even more hopeless than anyone else. If our hope is in the next, it would seem that it will never come. It is so hard to hope. May it be that the heavenly banquet is awaiting us, even through the suffering and evil of this world. Only then is Thomas More death meaningful. Only then is the death of the martyrs meaningful. If death is nothing but a door into the next world, it must not be feared. If suffering is not eternal, it must not be feared. It must have an end. And if it does, we can hope. But looking out at the world, it is so hard to hope. God save England!

The problems we face aren't exclusively ours. They've been around for a long time. I pray that Thomas More, a true Saint in the world, will intercede for us as we struggle to fine meaning in this life. God save America.