Friday, February 28, 2014

Holy Imagination

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
                The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.  He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
                And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father.  (John bore witness to him, and cried, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.’ ”) And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.”  John 1: 1-18

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” and the cosmos has never been the same.  All of creation cries out for joy at the saving act of Jesus.  He who is the light leads us out darkness so that we might not perish but know, love, and serve Him.  We are the children of God who seek deep, loving union with God.  We experience this union most especially in the celebration of the Church’s Liturgy, through the Church’s continual worship of God and the celebration of the Sacraments.  “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  The light shines to guide a path to the source, marking the pilgrim’s way to Heaven. 

I hope these writings may assist in that cause, guiding a pilgrim to Heaven.  Many months ago a religious introduced me to the phrase “the evangelization of the imagination”.  I have prayed with this phrase since.  I hope, in the coming months, to prayerfully consider God’s voice in the beauty of the world, to evangelize my imagination, and fall ever more deeply in love with He who first loved me.  Through a foundation in the Liturgy of the Church, I will use these pages to organize my personal prayer, reflection, and study; hone my craft of writing; and more deeply reflect upon the beauty of God made manifest in creation.  These pages are most importantly a tool in the pursuit of sanctity.

Let us pray.

Lord, open my lips and my mouth will proclaim your praise.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Silence in the Darkness

Awake my soul!

Some days you wake in fear, dread, doubt, and confusion. These mornings, though they may be bright and sunny, can be the darkest of human emotion. If only one felt hope, then the darkest challenge would be easier to face. If only one felt hope, then the good of the day would seem possible and realistic.

The foundation of correcting the lie is silence. If a sonic silence is not possible, then a silence of soul is required. In order for the physician to heal, the patient must ask for help. He must not just ask for help but let go. That is the scariest part; all that can be seen is darkness.

The Church offers a continual prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours, said around the clock, progressing around the globe, raising a voice of praise, adoration, petition, and thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity, a voice in the darkness.

Do I see, feel, touch, taste, or hear this Trinity? It is only in letting go into the darkness, a letting go that must take place again and again. We live in the reality of time and must let go into He who is outside time.

In the letting go, the repetition of psalms, the reading of Scripture and the writings of Saints, the consistent repetition of phrases of Truth, does the letting go become habit. In habit grows virtue; in virtue grows sanctity; in sanctity we find the Beatific Vision.

My heart is ready, O God,
my heart is ready.
I will sing, I will sing your praise.
Awake, my soul,
awake, lyre and harp,
I will awake the dawn.
-Psalm 57

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back to the Basics

Most people who have known me for almost any length of time at all, know I have a great love for the movies, especially old movies. Any amount of cable bill is worth every penny as long as I can watch TCM. I might even go so far as to say the liturgical year (in addition to Advent Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time) contains two more seasons: 31 Days of Oscar and Summer Under the Stars. In fact, a great romance blossomed for me during Summer Under the Stars just over two years ago: one with me and Lauren Bacall.

Imagine my joy when TCM began returning classic films to theatres. West Side Story was first for the film’s 50th anniversary. The film was meant to be seen on the silver screen. Many artistic aspects of the film from choreography to cinematography are done an injustice without the theatrical presentation. I fell in love with the movies all over again. What must all the other classic movies be like when presented in their original format?

Last week, TCM brought Singin’ in the Rain to theatres for a second time in honour of the movie’s 60th anniversary. I grew up with this film and have seen it dozens if not scores of times since I could crawl. I can quote lines, sing songs, and beat-box dance steps, right along with the most ardent of fans.

The best part of the movie this time, however, was not the dance, cinematography, music, jokes, or stars. The audience stole the show. My theatre, and theatres around the country, filled with young and old alike to share in a movie that had no car chases, explosions, cursing, sex, brutality, or lewd jokes. Don Lockwood blows a kiss to a girl in the crowd. She faints. The audience bursts into laughter. Don, Kathy, and Cosmo flip over the couch at the end of “Good Mornin’” and the audience breaks into applause. And of course, there’s Lina Lamont famous line: “What do you think I am, dumb or something?” I kept thinking all through the show: what could this movie have that keeps us so captivated? The answer came in one word: innocence.

Our world is broken; this is nothing new. To take a couple hours and immerse oneself into something that points to purity and peace – that is a luxury. I am not glorifying the twenties or Hollywood. I am also not saying one should suppress real life pain. I am saying that art can and should point to God and to the fullness and joy of what it means to be human. Clear definitions of good and bad, a truthful message, and just plain ol’ fun let us be who we are as though we were kids. We do not have to try. We just have to be who we are. For a little while we do not have to ask questions, look to find the path, wonder where our next step is in the darkness, or worry about falling. For a little while we tangibly realize what it means to rest in the arms of Jesus. Perhaps for a little while, the real truth of our faith becomes all the more tangible.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Life changes like the leaves of autumn

Life has completely turned over since my last post!

I have accepted a job in Campus Ministry at the University of Saint Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota as Coordinator of Liturgical Celebrations. I am back in St. Paul and love every minute of it. I think God each day for the blessings he has afforded me. I am nothing; He is everything.

We are a short two weeks away from the implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. I won't bore my readers with a theological exegesis but will direct you to Campus Ministry's website: for a brief overview. For more in depth materials check out:

A mere fortnight before the new translation also means we're a fortnight from Advent. I should begin my annual rant against all things Christmas before Thanksgiving...but won't rant this year since there is good news on that score! Nordstrom announced: "We won't be decking our halls until Friday, November 27. Why? Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time." Take a wild guess where I'll be doing my Christmas shopping.

For the first time in my whole short nearly 23 years of existence, I have my own apartment. Since I live, breath, and now WORK by the liturgical calendar, I have a decision to make about how soon I'll decorate for Christmas. The thought had crossed my mind to wait until right before I went back to Illinois to celebrate with my family. At long last I made a decision. In the readings and prayers at Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours, the last week before Christmas transitions into a true preparation of the celebration of the Nativity. I will make that same transition. December 17th is the date...which gives me the perfect excuse to leave them up through Candlemas or the Feast of the Presentation -- Feb 2nd.

Tomorrow the UST Chapel will celebrate the Rite of Acceptance for the RCIA candidates and catechumens. A week later we're pulling out all the stops for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King. (That also happens to be the last Sunday with the former translation...a pretty good send off, I'd say.) Stay tuned...

Now onto some letter writing: a friend in the Dominican novitiate particularly and anyone else who tickles my fancy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

August's Good News

Let’s be honest here: it’s getting more difficult to find good news in the media these days. Libya & Syria’s violence, Somalia’s famine, the US economy struggling, the stock market descending, the US credit score downgraded, the largest loss of US military life in Afghanistan…we’ve had a tough few days here. Let’s reflect on something positive.

Today (8 August) is the Feast of St. Dominic and the day a friend of mine from my semester abroad, Christopher Gautsch, receives his habit after beginning his formation to eventually become a Dominican priest. Check out the biography of Christopher and the other 12 novices on the “Friar Blog”.

World Youth Day kicks off shortly in Madrid, Spain on 16 August. I deeply wish I were travelling to WYD…start saving now for the next time round! I will join so many others around the world following on EWTN and online. All my friends who will be in attendance will be in my prayers in a special way.

This past Sunday’s Gospel (7 August) told the story of Jesus walking out to his Apostles on the Sea of Galilee. He beckons to Peter: “Come”. Peter hears and responds walking out on the water but when he suddenly realizes the full impact of what he’s doing he begins to sink into the waves. (This Gospel story of portrayed in a huge mural at my home parish, Saint Peter, South Beloit, IL.) The rector of Saint Peter Cathedral in Rockford, IL, Father Karl Beekman, gave a great reason in his homily on why Peter fell into the waves: isolation. Peter trusted at first but then instead of continuing to reach out to Jesus he focused inwardly on his human weakness and this disoriented focus got the better of him. I see this in my own life and am making more concerted efforts to overcome it…but this is just the preview to another blog entry, I think.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Word & Eucharist: Global Reflection

Two great pastoral messages were released this weekend. Combined they unwittingly dealt with both the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the Mass.

The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, asked for a pastoral letter to be read at all parish Masses within the diocese. The letter, which can be heard and read at the diocese’s website, reflects not only on doctrine of the Eucharist but the correct practice of recognition of this doctrine in devout reception of Holy Communion. His instruction is clear, precise, and a little surprising. His words should be heard not only in England and Wales but around the world especially the United States.

The Holy Father’s Angelus address reflected on and prayed for ministry to maritime workers. He acknowledged a particular need to pray for those who are victims of piracy. In his reflection on the Gospel for Sunday 10 July, he pointed out the necessity for the Word of God to be received and not just heard. A report on the Sunday Angelus address can be heard through Vatican Radio. This was the Holy Father’s first Angelus from Castel Gandolfo for the summer.

Monday, July 4, 2011

When in the Course of human events....

Another Independence Day, another moment to pause and reflect on what this country means and for what this country must stand. Let us recommit ourselves to building one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

This version of the National Anthem has become one of the best I've heard at a sporting event. Enjoy!

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton