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

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.