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, 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.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An institution of personal faith

Today, at the 11:30am Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, this awesome German bishop said Mass. In his homily, he talked about how the Church is not just a bunch of people who have their own faith, their own personal relationship with Christ, and neither are we just the institution, an impersonal community. We are a Communion of believers in the Body of Christ. This implies both a group relationship with Christ and a personal one. We need to find the balance, or if we don't know the English word (like the bishop didn't today) we describe it as best we can.

On a related note, one of the concelebrating priests was distributing the Precious Blood, and he kept hold of the chalice. The Precious Blood is not to be presumed upon. It is a gift. It is not something to be "grasped at". Thank you, awesome German priest.

Oh, and Caramel and Charles and I met the bishop after Mass.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Eight Days a Week....

"Eight Days a Week, I love you." said the Beatles.

I am in no way condoning everything the Beatles said or did. I like their music. But that's not why I'm writing this.

God loves us eight days a week. In other words, he loves us more than is possible in time...for eternity. This week, we celebrate the Easter Octave, an eight day period that is, liturgically, one day: Easter Sunday. To God, a second is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a second. Time is like a snap of a fingers. Eight days is no different to him than one day for he is eternal. This week, we celebrate the Easter Octave. This is a week of eight days.

Numbers are extremely important, for some reason. ONE God, THREE Persons. TWELVE tribes, TWELVE Apostles. SEVEN days of creation. But all this week, we celebrate with the number EIGHT. The "eighth day" of creation is the next "first day", the next Sunday. The reason Christians celebrate their Sabbath on Sunday is because that is when Christ rose: On the First Day of the Week. The Eighth Day. It is like the first day of creation except today is the New Creation: "Behold, I make all things new." God has recreated his people. He did not destroy the people, but saved them. He promised to Noah never to destroy the world again. But even at the Flood, he saved Eight people. A New Creation. But NOW is the Fulfillment of Noah. A New Baptism in water and the Holy Spirit. The Waters no longer destroy. "Behold, I make all things new."

A Baptismal font traditionally has eight sides.

This week, we celebrate with the number eight for the New Creation, the New Baptism, God's promise to love us "eight days a week."

Holy Week with Lit. Choir

I have spent the last eight days preparing music for the Easter Triduum with the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir. It was fun, stressful, tiring, and fulfilling. On a side note, it also gave glory to God. Oh, wait. That's not the side note. That is THE Note. (I hope it's not a c double sharp...)

The point of the Liturgical Choir, and this was a point made by the late Dr. Gail Walton, former director, is to give glory to God, and to help others and ourselves in worship of God. I know that our music helps people see the beauty of the liturgy and the wonderful gifts of God. I am currently trying to figure out whether it helps me enough for it to be worth it. Or maybe that's not what matters? I know that it is often distracting, but at the same time, it at some times lifts my mind to God in ways that are hard to find elsewhere....

Well, we'll see. There's a lot to go into these decisions.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April, come she will....

It's April 1st. For many that means April Fools Day, which has its origins in the Middle Ages, if I'm not mistaken. It is, however, another day that is more important. Holy Thursday, also called Maundy Thursday, a name which probably also has its origin in the Middle Ages. It's funny how much influence that unenlightened period has on us.


It's the day of the Lord's Last Supper. What followed for the next three days may have seemed like the cruelest of jokes to the Apostles. One of their own betrayed that Lord??? Now he's being put through a grueling trial for what? The Truth? "Quid Veritas Est?" as Pilate said... Now he's scourged and they're calling for his crucifixion. And the Apostles can do nothing but quake in fear. The cruelest of jokes. Now he's beaten down, forced to carry the undeserved cross to be killed between criminals, and even the earth is convulsing. Everything they've depended on is torn away from them...even the veil of their temple has been destroyed. All is over. The evil one has won. God is dead, oh God is DEAD? Now that it's over, and they are known as his followers, the chief priests might come for them next. They must hide. The cruelest of jokes.

But, that's not the end. Not by a long shot. God's got a better one up his sleeve. While the Evil One laughs maniacally at his Master Plan, The Christ comes and from under his nose takes the Righteous to their reward. And then, the clincher....What? The tomb empty? The Ultimate Sacrifice accomplished and returned 1000 fold? it is a joke that no one could have expected but the Father. The Joke is on the Evil One. Our Lady laughs in relief, St. Peter laughs, almost not daring to believe it. And Christ laughs with them, for he has conquered.

THAT is the joke. And He's given us the means to remember this Wonderful Joke. He gave it to us on this day...Holy Thursday

For April Fools Day, or Holy Thursday, remember this joke and why it's paradoxically called "Good" Friday. The Joke is better when seen in light of the failed joke of the Evil One. God gave us himself tonight and he will remain with us always.

A Grief Observed

I'm reading it right now. I have these spurts of Lewis that are always delightful, thought-provoking, and in the end pretty exhausting. He's so often spot on and this book is no different. He describes, or tries to describe his sorrow over the death of his wife. (His step-son, in the introduction makes the point that it is a grief observed...a specific one and not supposed to be a guide for any sorrow.) In the end, however, he realizes that Sorrow "turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history." The book relates this history--the history of the sudden sense of loss, a futile turn to God and the hopelessness of ever seeing the beloved again...a feeling that she no longer exists.

As he says, being a Christian, it was natural for him to think to turn to God when he was in trouble and wanted something...really....a lot. However, he felt like whenever he turned to God, the door slammed in his face. However, he later reflects on this and realizes how easy it is when we really want something, it is WE who are the obstacle: When we try to rush to get in the door, we often slam it shut instead.

He describes how he felt like his wife no longer existed, how no matter where he went, she would not be there. He wanted her back. But he then realized that we construct fictional, or at least distorted pictures of those we love when they are gone. Then he thought about whether it was better for HER to come back to him, and realized that it probably wasn't.

In the last chapter, he realizes that he started with himself, then from then talked about her and then about God. In his mind the wrong order of things. But then comes one of my favorite quotes, and one that shows the true nature of marriage, describing her as both a shining sword and a many walled garden he said:

Thus up from the garden to the Gardener, from the sword to the Smith. To the life-giving Life and the Beauty that makes beautiful.

Throughout the book, he basically embraces all the false feeling-based errors of the modern age and rejects them on experiential and philosophical grounds. It's interesting that he turns to modern errors because it demonstrates a tendency that he himself describes in his introduction to the writings of St. Athanasius. In every age, people are affected by the same errors and the same truths and it requires us to look beyond our era, in fact, out of time and into the eternal to discover these errors and learn the full truth. Each era has its own set of errors and truths that it tends to embrace, and to examine them all is to come closer to that eternal Truth that transcends all eras.