Saturday, December 31, 2005

Hope for a New Year

I've read news I've been waiting to hear for four months now. Benson has said the Saints will return to New Orleans again next season. To practice at their Metairie facility and play games in Louisiana. Thank Heavens!

There's even talk of having the Superdome ready for mid-September 2006. So Christmas Miracles do happen, I suppose. There is always hope at the start of a new year. WWL-TV's Jim Henderson had it right when he described the Benson-New Orleans as a marriage of sorts in his December 30th Commentary:
And so it wasn't a divorce after all, just a separation these last four months between Tom Benson and the New Orleans fans.

[sic] behalf of those fans, I would say this:
As in any separation we both probably said and did some things during it we regret.


You without us and us without you wouldn't ever be the same.

You have wants and needs. We have wants and needs.

We can only hope that these last four months have given both of us greater wisdom to recognize the difference.
God willing, New Orleans will return to the great city it was and become even better in the days and years to come. For Auld Lang Syne and the new days to come. Cheers to New Orleans and 2006. Happy New Year!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Aggie Awakening #75

A.A. #75
Amazing, simply AMAZING! Each time, whether as a retreater or a staffer, the experience becomes evermore profound. Why you ask? Well, not to ruin it for those yet to experience it, but simply because of the profound impact this retreat has on one's faith life.

The retreat is a weekend-long retreat that occurs three times a year: in the spring, the summer, and the fall. The retreaters are put together in groups, or "tables," for the weekend and madness and mania ensue! I'm joking here, of course. There are talks and discussions, so come ready to share. Overall, it's an amazing experience and one that I will continue to cherish (and renew) each semester.
Christ be beside me; Christ be before me; Christ be behind me; Christ be within me; Christ in my sleeping; Christ in my sitting, Christ in my rising, Christ be in all hearts thinking about me; Christ be on all tongues telling of me; Christ be the vision in eyes that see me; in ears that hear me, Christ ever be.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

When the Saints Go Marching In

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.

Holy Virgin of virgins,
Saint Michael,
Saint Gabriel,
Saint Raphael,
All you holy angels and archangels,
All you holy orders of blessed spirits,
Saint John the Baptist,
Saint Joseph,
All you holy patriarchs and prophets,
Saint Peter,
Saint Paul,
Saint Andrew,
Saint James,
Saint John,
Saint Thomas,
Saint James,
Saint Philip,
Saint Bartholomew,
Saint Matthew,
Saint Simon,
Saint Thaddeus,
Saint Matthias,
Saint Barnabas,
Saint Luke,
Saint Mark,
All you holy apostles and evangelists,
All you holy disciples of Our Lord,
All you holy innocents,
Saint Stephen,
Saint Lawrence,
Saint Vincent,
Saints Fabian and Sebastian,
Saints John and Paul,
Saints Cosmas and Damian,
All you holy martyrs,
Saint Sylvester,
Saint Gregory,
Saint Ambrose,
Saint Augustine,
Saint Jerome,
Saint Martin,
Saint Nicholas,
All you holy bishops and confessors,
All you holy doctors,
Saint Anthony,
Saint Benedict,
Saint Bernard,
Saint Dominic,
Saint Francis,
All you holy priests and brothers,
All you holy monks and hermits,
Saint Mary Magdalen,
Saint Agatha,
Saint Lucy,
Saint Agnes,
Saint Cecilia,
Saint Catherine,
Saint Anastasia,
All you holy virgins and widows,

All you holy men and women, saints of God,
Pray for us.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Living with Dreams

Many forget that the sacrifices one must take in order to achieve ones dreams do not come without costs or without lost. It is with this in mind that one must dream big and never lose sight of one's goals.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Running Down the Batteries...

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

--Philippians 4:6-7

I am by nature an anxious person. I fret and worry about just about anything of least until I become immune to worry. Some times worries just need to be ignored or, better yet, left in the dust completely.

Case in point, take my car, a wonderful old (relatively speaking) clunker of a Ford (Found On Roadside Dead...FORD). I went out to my car tonight to go to a party and pick up next week's groceries before Midnight Yell, only to find my car battery completely dead and my car boxed in next to a gas-guzzling pick-up parked too close to my driver's side door. Trust in the Lord, and he will provide. Thank God for friends, I tell you!

Take another point such as classes or whatever causes stress. There are good stressors (eustress) and bad stressors (distress). It's all what you make out of it. Ever heard of the expression, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade?" Or any other derived saying? Of course! It's seeing the silver lining in all aspects of one's day whether it's 100 degrees outside in the blazing sun and getting a sunburn or if it's a task-driving course that seems to be beating you senselessly. It's all about seeing the good of the situation. It's all about perseverance.

Another Bible verse comes to mind for me in this case where we are told that God does not give us more than we can handle and that all that it takes is trust in Him, who has given us so much despite are ever-present unworthiness for His love.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Out of Darkness Comes Light

Finally a day with some cool weather. No rain to speak of from the Storm, just lots and lots of steady wind. Oddly enough it did feel like autumn, since we're already into our second day of it...supposedly. Nevertheless, it has been a very nice day here, much better than expected.

I have plenty to be thankful for. The day off we were given on Friday was a nice break. It allowed us students to volunteer at local shelters for those evacuating from the coastal regions. It also acted as a sort of second Saturday...three day weekends are always nice. That being said, after a productive day on Friday I've had a seriously lazy streak today. I haven't done much, but I'll get my act together for Monday. I moved the car from the Central campus garage this evening and couldn't help but notice the perfectly clear blue skies. It was about 7 p.m. when I passed by Kyle Field on my way to the Koldus garage, around the time the A&M football game was scheduled. It was perfect football weather, absolutely perfect fall weather. How ironic.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Today, everyone knows, is September 11th. It's the fourth anniversary of the horrific World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks. It is an also important day. It is a day for us Americans to reflect on how we should treat the rest of world, including the Muslims both here and across the world. How should we as Christians act? I don't be cliché like, but what would Jesus do? I ask this honestly. Should we treat hate with equal if not greater hatred? The answer should be apparent to you. NO. Revenge is best served on a cold platter, but it is something that should be removed from our vocabulary. Revenge is not reserved for us. God did not give us our gifts here, our one's here on an Earthly loan for the duration our lifespan, for hatred and revenge. Those are not the actions of true Christians. When I see overly judgmental, the ones who judge to a fault, I cringe. This includes myself at times. What place do we have to chastise our brother or sister if our own sins equal if not surpass our fellow brother or sister?

Take for instance the Gospel reading for Friday, September 9th:
Jesus told his disciples a parable:
“Can a blind person guide a blind person?
Will not both fall into a pit?
No disciple is superior to the teacher;
but when fully trained,
every disciple will be like his teacher.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”

--Luke 6:39-42

Another pertinent Bible passage on how we should handle hatred is the first reading from this Sunday's mass, of September 11th:
Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor’s injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the Lord?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.

--Sirach 27:30-28:7

How more true can this be? Hate not your neighbor. That's every neighbor, not just our Christian brothers. Do not cherish wrath as the others do, rather cherish love. Cherish God in all his glory.

May God give rest and repose to the victims of September 11th and strength of spirit to the their families on this difficult day. Amen.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Silver Taps

What a roller coaster of a time. One day I'm feeling on top of the world, the next I'm in the trash heap. What honestly gives? Silver Taps was tonight, Brian's Silver Taps. I felt so disconnected with the so many other Silver Taps I have attended over the past two years because I felt that I should know something more about those I come to commemorate.

Well, I know for a fact now that knowing them doesn't help any either. It allows the opening of old wounds, letting them fester in the harsh reality that is life now. I couldn't help but feel Brian's presence there. It was as if he was there still, like my first semester where he was directing our small games group for TAGD telling me not to worry. All I kept hearing was "Don't worry." The sounds of sirens blared in the background as we awaited the arrival of the Ross Volunteers. The sirens reminded me of those that I'm sure were present after Brian's wreck on Highway 6. The sirens came and went, but my replaying of the events around the time of his death only continued to bother me. I remember the wreck each time I drive that stretch of road. I will always have that on my mind. I just wish this was all a bad dream, and that I could wake up knowing it wasn't true.

But, it is true and that is something we all have to accept in the end. For we pray in the Lord's Prayer: "Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven." Plain and simple. His will is His will, come what may His will will be done. Nothing will change that.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

"I Still Heart New Orleans"

Today's daily mass reading that, although not originally meant for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, certainly now fits. May we do God's will in our actions and pray that God grant us the strength to persevere.

Brothers and sisters:
From the day we heard about you, we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

--Colossians 1:9-14 NAB

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Day of Prayer for Katrina's Victims

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco called for today to be a day of prayer for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. They opened up today's press conference with a set of prayers from the Archbishop of New Orleans Hughes and other spiritual leaders from the area. It was a very moving thing to see.

This is today's Bible verse from a Bible calendar I received over the summer is a very insightful and true statement for what the Lord will require of all us in the coming months of recovery from Hurricane Katrina. It goes as follows:

All that you have commanded we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. -- Joshua 1:16 NASB.

May God bless those affected by Katrina, those who are helping to bring things back to a sort of normalcy, and those who have perished because of this awful natural disaster. May God changes the hearts of those inconsiderate and greedy looters that their dangerous activities may cease so that peace and order can be returned to the ravaged communities. May God be with all today and every day. Amen.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

This is THE ONE. It's it, and there's no doubt about it now. I've been vigilantly watching it on the local CBS affiliate in New Orleans WWL-TV since I've learned of the doomsday track aimed at New Orleans Saturday evening. Surprisingly, I failed to keep my eye on the storm since it's beginnings because of my vacation and move back to College Station. My family and friends have since moved out of harm's way, thankfully, and now all we can do is watch now and pray.

160 MPH sustained winds and at one time stronger than Camille...may God have mercy on those still in the city there. A once-in-a-lifetime storm, thank God.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

St. Therese of Lisieux's Prayers

St. Therese the Little Flower, also know as St. Therese of Lisieux or St. Therese of the Child Jesus, is not the same person as St. Teresa of Avila. Teresa of Avila lived in the 1500's and did many great things. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order who re-introduced a more rigorous prayer and fasting in the communities she was associated with. St. Therese of Lisieux, also a Carmelite, lived in the late 1800's and did no huge things. She reveled in doing very small things and to the very best of her ability and offering them to Jesus as her sacrifice. She wrote about her "Little Way" of holiness in her diary, which her convent published after shed died of tuberculosis before reaching the age of 24.

Find out more on St Therese of Lisieux at the Society of the Little Flower, the largest organization in the world promoting devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux. The commune of Lisieux itself is in Normandy, France.

Below are two prayers attributed to St. Therese of Lisieux, and I thought it would be nice to share since it is so exceptionally simple and pertinent:

St. Therese of Lisieux & Her Prayer to Know God's Will:

Lord, grant that I may always allow myself to be guided by you,
always follow your plans, and perfectly accomplish Your holy will.
Grant that in all things, great and small,
today and all the days of my life,
I may do whatever you may require of me.
Help me to respond to the slightest prompting of Your grace,
so that I may be your trustworthy instrument.
May Your will be done in time and eternity,
by me, in me, and through me.


Another one that was sent to me by e-mail that I am not positive on the origin but is readily attributed to St. Therese of Lisieux:

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Phoenix Rising: NASA Out of the Ashes

I have looked forward to the day that the shuttle reached the heavens once more. Today is a glorious day. A new step into the greater expanse that awaits us as travelers amongst the starry expanse of space, this our limited stellar backyard.

Today's launch was imperative, even with its great risks and many delays, to return to our rightful place in space exploration--human space exploration. America cannot and will not be relegated to a has-been. It is our time once more to go boldly into our last frontier. Discovery is the first step back in the right bigger achievements on par with the Apollo years. I want to witness this history before our eyes and savor it the rest of my days. We should be proud in our accomplishments but not haughty, for we can be made lowly in an instance as Apollo I, Challenger and now Columbia has shown proven so evidently clear.

NASA is a Phoenix rising, out of its own ashes and into a new world of continued exploration. As I wrote in an English paper (of the same name as this post) in my first year in college on President Bush's new space plan:
Eugene Cernan, the last man on the Moon, said as he left, “We leave as we came and, god willing, as we will return, with peace, and hope for all mankind” (Bush). Space exploration has beckoned us once again, as in the distant bygone era of the "Space Race." We are not call to go there now just to visit but instead to stay, as Cernan said, "with peace, and hope for all mankind" (Bush). Although President George W. Bush’s new space initiative may need some financial reworking along the way, the stage has been set, which is the most important step of all. As an American people, all we can do now is dream, as before, the impossible dream.
Dreaming the impossible dream is what we as a nation need, for anything is possible if you only believe. That, my friend, is the first step. May God grant our astronauts safe passage back to Earth, back to their families, and back to their nation, returning home safe and sound.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Scuttle the Shuttle?

In remembering the Columbia tragedy of February 2003, I now reprint an op-ed piece I wrote for my high school paper, The Crusader, back in March 2003 in response to the tragedy and thus questioning of NASA's future. The title given above was that of what I originally wished to name the piece (and still do call it), but the newspaper moderator insisted that the word 'scuttle' wasn't proper for a spacecraft (despite the word having a definition in Webster's of "destroy, wreck; also scrap"). All of this coming from an English teacher, no less! Hmph! I personally like it better than that of her title "Shelf the Shuttle?" of which the article was printed as.

Without further ado, I give you my thoughts on the NASA program (circa 2003):

Scuttle the Shuttle?

Questions of NASA’s future are definitely not short in supply these days. The questions of the shuttle’s safety by those in NASA and elsewhere are not specifically on why the Columbia went down but on what happens next. The shuttle program is now in its twenty-first year since the first shuttle flight on April 12, 1981, and NASA is faced with a fleet of aging behemoth giants that the program must go on E-Bay to shop for shuttle replacement parts. What’s NASA’s recent solution? NASA wants to extend the life of the shuttle program for another ten to fifteen years past the original set retirement date of 2012.

In recent years, NASA has tried to develop various designs to phase out the shuttle but to no avail. The X-33 and X-34, eventually dumped by NASA for various reasons, were two possibilities for making space flight cheaper and phasing out the space shuttle. NASA’s solution for the moment is to stick with the aging, though remodeled, space shuttles that are becoming seriously outdated.

Funding for the agency has been top on the list of things that went wrong on and before February 1, 2003. Overall, each year for the past decade, funding for NASA has generally decreased with some exceptions, forcing NASA to go with the uncongenial slogan: “faster, better, cheaper.” The lack of funds for NASA has caused stumbling blocks for the agency notably in probe space exploration as well as development of new spacecrafts. The cause - the end of the Cold War. With no “enemy” to race against, NASA has been grasping for a new focus, which—for better or for worst—has ended up being the huge task that is the International Space Station (ISS). In light of the Columbia tragedy and the still incomplete construction of the ISS, NASA must focus their attention once more to the human element of space flight to stir interest and pride for the space program.

No matter what the cause of the Columbia disaster, NASA must keep a trained eye to detail, a detail that includes not only that of continuing manned space flight but doing so safely. Ironically, all of America’s space tragedies, NASA’s most catastrophic failures in manned space flight, have coincidentally occurred during Cape Canaveral’s coldest month, January. The first was the Apollo 1 pad fire on January 27, 1961, the second was the Challenger explosion on January 28, 1986, and the third was the Columbia crash on February 1, 2003, with its lift-off on January 16, 2003. The coincidences of the two shuttle accidents are abounding, but one must keep in mind the factors that caused them.

With the exception of the Apollo 1 pad fire, both of the shuttle accidents occurred in part as a result of freezing weather and mainly because of the duration of the orbiters left on the launch pad. For the Challenger accident, the launch date was originally set for January 22 but was pushed back a whole week because of an array of weather and hardware delays. Although the cause of the accident was linked to the faulty design of the rubber O-Rings holding the external fuel tanks together, the lengthy amount of time that the shuttle weathered in unusually freezing temperatures (as low as 8°F) was a contributing factor causing the cracking of the O-Rings and the subsequent loss of the Challenger, the first of the shuttle program’s two deadly failures.

Although without the significant delays of Challenger’s fateful 73-second flight, the more recent Columbia STS-107 had the similar cold weather of its foregone counterpart. Officials now wonder if ice forming on the shuttle and on the very debris, the iced filled chunk of insulation from the left external fuel tank that was determined to be “harmless,” was the actual cause of the loss of thermal tiles or the punctured hole of the craft’s skin and the subsequent loss of Columbia. For now we can only speculate, wonder, and think what might have been.

The failures of the shuttle cannot be pinned to exactly one reason but to a plethora of reasons: the appearance of ice in the insulation on the cold January morning, the notorious flaking of large chunks of insulation that has been a problem for the shuttle program from its inception, and the failure to adequately check the problem before reentering Earth’s atmosphere (the orbiter’s arm, capable of checking the problem on the underside, had been removed in order to do scientific experiments on this mission). Therefore, NASA must find a better way to get into space. This way needs not to be cheap but only safe and reliable for any new crews going up in knowing that they will safely return.

The tragedy that has beset the nation has hindered our dreams of space exploration, but it has not stopped the determination of many to keep expeditions and crews from touching the heavens and returning to Earth safely for all of us to benefit from. We must continue onward.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Fire in the Sky...

I found this song written by Jordin Kare shortly after the Columbia disaster in February 2003. It was reported that former astronaut Buzz Aldrin was moved to tears after receiving an e-mail the Saturday after the Columbia tragedy and reading the lyrics on NBC.

You can listen to it at Prometheus Music's web site by either streaming Real Audio or downloading it in MP3 format.

In honor of those fallen and those yet to go beyond "riding fire in the sky" I give you the lyrics to Fire in the Sky:

Prometheus, they say, brought God's fire down to man.
And we've caught it, tamed it, trained it since our history began.
Now we're going back to heaven just to look him in the eye,
and there's a thunder 'cross the land, and a fire in the sky.

Gagarin was the first, back in nineteen sixty-one,
When like Icarus, undaunted, he climbed to reach the sun.
And he knew he might not make it, for it's never hard to die.
But he lifted off the pad and rode a fire in the sky.

Yet a higher goal was calling, and we vowed we'd reach it soon.
And we gave ourselves a decade to put fire on the moon.
And Apollo told the world, we can do it if we try:
And there was one small step, and a fire in the sky.

I dreamed last night of a little boy's first spaceflight,
Turned into me, watching a black and white TV.
There was a fire in the sky, I'll remember until I die.
A fire in the sky...a fire in the sky!

Then two decades from Gagarin, twenty years to the day.
Came a shuttle named Columbia, to open up the way.
And they said she's just a truck, but she's a truck that's aiming high.
See her big jets burning, see her fire in the sky.

Yet the Gods do not give lightly of the powers they have made.
And with Challenger and seven, once again the price is paid.
Though a nation watched her falling, yet a world could only cry.
As they passed from us to glory, riding fire in the sky.

Now, the rest is up to us, and there's a future to be won.
We must turn our faces outward, we will do what must be done.
For no cradle lasts forever, every bird must learn to fly ---
And we're going to the stars, see our fire in the sky.

Yes, we're going to the stars, see our fire in the sky!
There's a fire in the sky, I'll remember until I die.
A fire in the sky, a fire in the sky!

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

In the Company of Good Friends

It's now been over a month since Brian's passing, and it feels like yesterday that I received the awful news. I've been so tied up with other commitments (my new summer work) that I've been unable to post further on that faithful week after his death, how his family and we, his friends, came together to commemorate, to remember, and to say goodbye to Brian.

I had left off in a previous post right before Wednesday and Brian's visitation. Tuesday was the last day of classes for the semester so things were beginning to finish up things for the summer. Wednesday and Thursday were "dead days" that were meant to be preparation for the finals that began that Friday. For me, there were other preparations and things I had to confront before even considering exams. By midweek I was beside myself, in the complete sense. His visitation was Wednesday evening at a funeral home in Bryan. Just the trip going there was surreal. I had never encountered such a scenario, of a friend dead, and then going to a funeral home for a visitation. When I arrived at the funeral home I was rather nervous in entering...not because it was a funeral home but because I knew so few others connected to Brian (such as from his church or his family). I had never met any of them, so trying to find someone I knew made me nervous. I found the TAGD group soon enough and was greeted by some others after entering, which eased my nerves and calmed my heart some. We even got to speak with Brian's father and stepmother some, and one of his uncle's spoke with us trying to find out more on how much Brian was involved with TAGD and game developing. His uncle's visit with us was a really special moment to me because it helped cement a connection with Brian's family I didn't have before. I also had a chance to see some of Brian's childhood pictures and things back from his home in Enterprise, Alabama. Very special, indeed.

Thursday was the day of Brian's funeral at Aldersgate Methodist Church. I did little before then that day. I came to the church a little behind schedule so I came in right before the service began. I remember Brian's eulogy given by his uncle (the same one that spoke with us the night before). He highlighted a post Brian wrote in his online journal, " If it's going to happen, it will happen now," where Brian spoke about becoming more committed to living his life for Christ. The entire service was moving--the hymns, the prayers, the eulogy, the community gathered together to remember Brian--but what moved me most of all were Brian's words read to us. That was the greatest reminder to me of how good Brian truly was. At that moment, I was proud to have known Brian and to have had him as a friend.

When we from TAGD were gathered that night before first at the funeral home, with Jacob Foshee and his friend Davanci all the way from Houston, to remember Brian with all of us, I felt a completeness to the loss of Brian. I knew in my heart right there that Brian would've have wanted this, he would've loved this...a TAGD gathering, something he wouldn't miss for anything! I know I felt a hole in the group there that night, I felt Brian's absence there when we were of the last to leave the funeral home. But I knew he was among us in our hearts, like how Christ is among us each day. For God is love, and love knows no boundaries.

The dinner we shared that night after leaving the visitation was a special one. We sat together not sorrowful because of Brian's death. Instead, we were growing in friendship with one another and having fun, something Brian would assuredly be a part of if he were still here. But, you see, that's what has been the silver lining in this tragic loss of Brian. Friendships have been renewed, and they have grown. In the greatest hardships come the greatest friendships, and so amongst death, life does go on.

I am reminded of the homily Father Kurt gave in the daily mass I attended the Monday after Brian's death, on the day I first knew. When I heard the homily I heard God speaking directly to my heart...I felt a direct connection to Christ. Father Curt spoke on the term "Paraclete", which is another way of saying the Holy Spirit. Father Curt spoke on how we should be the Holy Spirit through our actions and words. The Holy Spirit works through each of us to reach each other. In hearing the association of becoming a sort of "Paraclete" for another and for Christ's work in the world, illumination of Brian's death became clearer. Christ, with the Holy Spirit, was truly working through him. I remember seeing him tirelessly giving of himself for the group and being so passionate in all aspects of his life. After all, that's what friends are for: raising each other up in Christ. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Recalling a Difficult Week

This week has been such an upside down kind of week. Let me allow to recap the events so you, my dear reader, can be more in tune with what has transpired over this tumultuous week. Of course, this will be from my perspective, since this is my blog after all!

The week actually began on the previous Friday, April 29th. It was the end of the month, and the beginning of a weekend I was longing for almost a month. Mid-month I was elected recorder of my local Knights of Columbus council, Council 10624, out of wonderful College Station, Texas.

I was elected to the position of Recorder for this next fraternal year, and the officer installation and our first annual end-of-the-year banquet was that Saturday night, April 30th. So, it was Friday and it was the end of the last full week of classes for the spring semester. Laura, a friend of mine, really pushed me, after daily Mass the day before, to go to the Confirmation Mass that was this Friday. Now, I went to the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Mary's last year (the whole 2 1/2 hour affair) and was both exhausted and excited after it. After all new Catholics and Christians should get any Catholic in a good mood I'd say. So, when I was asked by Laura to come to the Confirmation Mass, I stopped to weigh my priorities of the day. For starters, I was free that evening since I finish work at 5 pm every week, I wasn't going out of town (since we had the officer installation and banquet that Saturday), and our bishop of the Diocese of Austin—Bishop Gregory Aymond would be celebrating the Mass. This was of special note to me since Bishop Aymond and I are alumni of the same high school. He graduated there back when it was Cor Jesu and I graduated more recently as it is now, Brother Martin, all the way back in my hometown of New Orleans. (In 1969 Cor Jesu and another school, St. Aloysius, merged into one on Cor Jesu's Elysian Fields Ave. campus to form Brother Martin High School.) This was hands down enough of a reason for me to go, so I planned to go to the Mass.

This is where my week began.

So I am running a little behind (it's 5:25) by the time I get to St. Mary's parking lot adjacent to the church. I land into my parking spot there, with the radio still playing. It's at that time, about 5:28, that the radio announcer mentions that a car accident put Highway 6 (our area's main North/South artery to Waco and Houston) at a complete halt. At point, I remember getting a chill because he said that the accident was going southbound. Now you must know that this is my regular route to down to Houston (which I've done on quite a regular frequency this past semester) to visit my grandmother down there. In fact, I had just made a trip down the week before to pick up a few things. Even more so, I meant to go this weekend, but because the banquet about a month prior, was moved back a week, from April 23rd to April 30th, I moved up my visit by a week. I only said to myself then, "Thank God I wasn't going down to Houston now," and thought nothing more of the event that evening or the rest of the weekend.

The Banquet was a wonderful event, living up to all my expectations and more, as did the Confirmation Mass Friday evening. Turns out my friend that I first met at our Fish Camp the summer before our freshman year was getting confirmed that evening, so there was a reason to go after all! I was ecstatic and practically beaming with joy for my friend’s further growth in her faith. I also got to converse with Bishop Aymond after the Mass and have a great faith discussion with a permanent parishioner who frequents daily Mass. I've seen her at each's amazing! So Friday was an overall good day...from my perspective then, at least.

So Sunday went well, 11 am Mass was wonderful as always with my cousin playing the piano with the choir. I was in upbeat mood since the weekend was going so smoothly, and I was glad for (what I then thought would be) a productive week ahead. The going away party for our Father Mike was after the Mass, so we had a great time remembering his hard work at St. Mary's and even got the lagniappe (extra, for all you non-New Orleanians out there) pleasure of seeing our Father Keith (who, by the way, is a Longhorn) sing A&M's school song, The Spirit of Aggieland, even doing the Aggie yell afterward! Great stuff...I'm sure we'll have pictures of that one day. Father Mike was made an honorary Aggie prior to the song, by the Association of Former Students, so that was the impetus of singing it. Once again, great stuff.

So, I went about my business Sunday evening preparing for the Dead Week we had ahead before finals. With my biological clock completely out of whack I was up until well after 3 am. I've done this many times before this semester for no apparent reason, particularly about the time of the Student Body President elections. So from prior knowledge I knew that the Battalion posts the online version of the day's paper at that time (after 3 am), kind of like Aaron Brown reading the "morning headlines" on CNN's NewsNight. Anyhow, Monday morning was no exception for me. I was curious to find out if there were any replies to my or two other of the Catholic Mail Call letters. To my surprise, there weren't any, but of course...plain on the home page I saw the headline: "Student killed in head-on collision." Well, that piqued my interest, since I remembered the accident mentioned Friday evening. Oh, was the news a doozy. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I was in total shock and disbelief.

I knew deep down that it was in fact Brian...I could see it clear as day. There were only two Nadeaus at A&M so it was him, but I couldn't accept it then. I freaked out, saying it couldn't be...but it was. I then went on a search to find anything to grasp on that he left on the Internet, and so I found his blog and posted my thoughts to him, which I also put here on my a feeble attempt to comfort myself.

Anyway, I knew him from TAGD (Texas Aggie Game Developers) from on campus. I hadn't made a single meeting the entire semester up to that Monday because of calculus reviews (and Knights of Columbus officer meetings) at the same time. However, I had to confirm the news...I knew I must, so I did it the only way I knew how. I looked up Luke's, this year's TAGD president's, phone number before going to bed and then begrudgingly went to sleep, although not soundly at all.

I gave Luke a call the next morning as I came out of my last geology class. He seemed at first rather surprised to hear from me but confirmed the news to me and confirmed that they were indeed having a meeting that night. I wasn't sure since things do start to wind down with organizations around exam time. What I wanted to hear the most, the times of the visitation and funeral, he told me were to be announced at the meeting that night. So, I dropped all my other plans, reworked my work schedule for that day, and headed back to my dorm. There I wept...wept as much as I did when I got the news of my great-grandfather's passing over 4 years ago. I knew that what could best help me at the time were two things: Church and friends. Luckily I was able to make it to Mass that evening and to the TAGD meeting where we had a remembrance, all of which helped my spirits greatly.

It was at then that I fell into a deep depression. It wasn't the fact that Brian died that I was so depressed about nor was it the way he died. It was the length of his life and his strong faith in Christ. I felt like such a great life was ended too soon, snuffed out before he could do so much more good in the world. I remembered how much he did the previous summer in mission work in Japan, which he loved doing so much. I was heartbroken at the loss, and what his family must have been going through. I then felt a case of "what if," since I could've been traveling the same road then if it weren't for the change of date for the KofC Banquet. That spiraled into contemplating my own demise and its aftermath. What kind of world would I leave behind? How would my family cope with losing me? The questions continued to rack my head the rest of Monday, then into Tuesday, and still continue only a little still today. Maybe, in hindsight, this has all given me a stronger feeling of morality and a greater appreciation for my relationships, with family and friends, than I had before. Monday though was my darkest day, but the week as a whole was a roller coaster altogether.

More on that in a future post.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Friends in Christ

I know now, after going through what myself and a number of friends of mine have gone through this past week with the death of Brian Nadeau, that my false assumption, which I have previously held, of the Catholic Church as the sole way to be united with Christ in Heaven was a false one. I have seen the changes Brian has made in others lives, his strong convictions, his love for and of the Lord. The sight and experience of his funeral at Aldersgate today was a moving one, the reminiscing of his passions, of his joys, of his pains, and of his love. I found a new respect for him as a person, as for those Christians who do not share the exact same beliefs but share his or her love of (and faith in) the Lord and are in the service of the Lord. It is the devotion to the Lord that I see present, and I cannot bash another brother in Christ for not seeing his interpretation the same as mine. I still hold true my faith, the Catholic Faith, to be the one true faith, but I cannot forget my fellow brothers in Christ and their service for the Lord. I will leave the details to the Lord and worry for my own soul from this day forward. All the while I will continue try to let God work His will through me.

The loss of Brian hasn't been something easy to come to grip with because it was like yesterday that I last spoke with him. Reading back on his LiveJournal posts has given me new insight into his life and greater appreciation for his part in mine. We were read a passage from his journal at his funeral by a family member. It was read as follows:

I've learned how to win at Generals and I've learned how to win at things like WoW. It took lots of failure, but eventually my talent and fighting spirit were replaced by talent, fighting spirit, and skill. You can't just will your way to the top because you want to win real bad. Everyone who wants to get to the top has that. You have to have the skills to get it done and the fighting spirit will propel that into victory. Ryoma Echizen proved that when he took town Jin Akutsu in the Regional Tournament. Akutsu sweats natural talent and ability, but not the will to win. Echizen did. However, if one of them wasn't truly skilled at what they did, it never would have been a contest.

In order to be a champion, it takes skill. It takes an indomitable fighting spirit. It also takes something else.

Scripture and revelation from God has given me the answer. Look at the two major personalities that define me. What makes Ranma Saotome the unstoppable fighting force that he is? It's his devotion to martial arts. That's all he does. He never slacks off on his training and he always goes at it win the intensity of a winner. What makes Ryoma Echizen the "Prince of Tennis"? Yeah, he's got talent. Yeah, he's got the "samurai spirit" to win... but it's his devotion to tennis that makes him the best. He plays all the time and improves. It's what he devotes his life to.

Chapter 11 in the book of Isaiah talks about one whom the Spirit of the Lord rests upon. Verse five says "Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist." Righteousness is an important thing that sums up several character traits we should aim for, but think about this "garment." Righteousness is held up by faithfulness! Being faithful to something is what keeps it held up. It's what brings everything together. That's the key! Right now, my commitments are too scattered and spread out to really be effective. If I want to be a winner, a champion that really makes a difference in the world, I'm going to have to pick some things and commit my life to them. That starts with a commitment (being faithful to) God, since His will is what matters the most anyway. But through that, what else? I can no longer say that since my life is devoted to God that all the things I choose to do - no matter how many things it is or what they are (which is the way I've been acting) - I will excel at since I'm doing it for God. That clearly is not the case. I'm going to have to chose a select few things and truly devote myself to them -- for myself and for others, but most importantly for the Glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom.

So the question then becomes... what will those things be?

You can read the entire post at his LiveJournal:

He shared many of the same difficulties I've experienced in Computer Science, namely the Calculus woes, and so I feel to have a greater connection to his life, if only by mere coincidence, if not more. I feel the connection to his reference of Isaiah 11:5, which is reminded me of my earlier blog post on living in the light. The verse especially Ephesians 6:14, "So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate." For righteousness and truth, the truth that Christ is our Lord and Savior, go hand in hand as does faithfulness. So for whatever caused me to connect Isaiah 11:5 and Ephesians 6:14, I am thankful to the Lord for.

Finally, I must track back to Ephesians 6, for which I have reread today. The final verse of the chapter, Ephesians 6:24, speaks out to me on how we all should approach our brothers in Christ, wherever they may be:
"Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in immortality."

This verse gives me comfort that he is with the Lord because I have seen Brian have such a love for Christ with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind. For this reason alone do I know that grace has been given to him. And for this I am comforted in knowing this.

Life is such a journey, with so many trials but so many gifts along the way. For this I pray to the Lord to give me strength along the way, so that I may better serve Him.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Saying Goodbye


Goodbye. I know that we haven't seen much of each other this past semester, but the news has hit me like a ton of bricks this morning. It is sad how things can be taken for granted.

All I can think now is the brevity that our lives can be. 19 years never seems to be enough time. It is always a wonder how some of us can go on to live for decades, and our friends aren't given even 20 years. My deepest sympathies to your family in this hard time. I know you are in a better place. Your memory will not be forgotten. God bless you, Brian.

Forever a Friend in Christ,

Friday, April 29, 2005

A Response to Daniel Bornstein's Comments

The Catholic Faith is a package deal and cannot be picked and chosen from, since to do this would inherently be heretical. The word, at its root, is heresy, which is taken from the Greek word ‘hairesis’ meaning “a taking or choosing.”

The Catholic Faith is not something to be arbitrarily toyed with. Rather, we Catholics are called to learn and grown in our knowledge of this great faith. Mr. Bornstein’s claim that “many Catholics” have a ‘liberal’ ideology is flawed because the Catholic Faith itself resoundingly calls for a definite Culture of Life in ALL respects. The Faith isn’t changed on political whims as the secular world is. John Paul II still is morally correct in erring on the side of Life.

It is a matter of sexual ethics that every person must be held responsible for their own actions, and we as a world have grown to treat sex as a trivial thing. This is the primary cause of the secular world’s Culture of Death, NOT John Paul’s stance on contraceptives and abortion.

The Battalion should have balanced Bornstein’s views with that of actual local Catholic leaders who are more knowledgeable in the Catholic Faith than he.

John Book
Class of 2007

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Habemus papam! The Election of Pope Benedict XVI

So quickly the Papal Conclave comes to a close. In one of the quickest conclaves, they have elected the German, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as our next pope, Pope Benedict XVI. I had a pretty good feeling from the onset of the Conclave of two things:

1) The Conclave would be at least as long as John Paul II's one, 3 days, or quicker. Which in the end, it was...and in that it surprised me a little this afternoon.

2) It felt as if Cardinal Ratzinger was the natural choice to become the next pontiff. Like many have been saying, he was close to John Paul II and share many of his ideological stances on Church policy, which I am in total agreement with. Furthermore, his choice was logical after he gave the funeral homily for John Paul II. It at least cemented in my mind that he was my favorite. However, that being said, I would have accepted with full grace if it was to have been another person.

Many around the world are upset for one reason or another...liberal Catholics here in America because he is conservative, Latinos in South America and Africans in Africa because their regional favorite did not become pontiff, or secularists in Europe because his call for an end to relativism in the Church. Of the last, I am glad he came out in beginning swinging on this issue against the relativism in the world today...there are absolute truths and we as a world must see and accept them for what they are....ABSOLUTE.

In the end, we as Catholics, must not complain about our new pope because he hasn't even been given a chance to do any good yet. Time is needed and those dissenters should unite under our one catholic (universal) Church. As a prominent Nigerian priest in the capital Abuja, Matthew Hassan Kukah, said, "This is not the finals of the World Cup. The sentiments are understandable, but this is the Catholic Church. We give thanks to God."

Rightly so, Father. And I give thanks to God for our new pope, Benedict XVI. Viva Benedict XVI!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Fighting the Adversities, Fighting the Good Fight

Friendships are born in face of great adversities. I can guarantee you no less. It is when the greatest of odds and the greatest of challenges do friendships truly and so evidently show themselves than at any other time that one's actions might even seem fool-hearted in nature. It is not the best of times you find your true friends, but it is in the absolute worst of times. It is like when Christ was crucified, all those many years ago, that He saw who his true friends were. It was not Peter, nor any of the other disciples, but that of His Blessed Mother, who stood through it all to be by His side until death and beyond.

So it was similarly this past week, in the student body elections here on campus. The allegations and arguments spewed forth well before the start of the week and grew to be tantamount to a feverish torrent of twisted lies and charges to defame the integrity and honor of a good and well-deserving person. Well before the start of last week, with the student judicial hearings but a week ago to the day, I joined her cause, Marcella Colbert's cause to clear her name. It was in finding that I sought her out, and with questions she in turn sought me out for my concerns. This encounter made a lasting impression on me, for her genuineness in her cause and in her general ethics of conducting herself. I needed no panel of student justices to prove to me, those three and a half days earlier, that she had conducted and continues to conduct herself with "the utmost integrity."

Still today I know she did the right thing in every manner, and I did the right thing to help her cause. Unfortunately, however, the student body did not give her a chance to lead, voting in a 3 to 1 favor of the other candidate, Jim Carlson. I find that her grace through it all has been the best thing to come out of the entire ordeal. It matters not that she won the contest now but that, in the end, she cleared her name, in spite of all odds and in spite of all enemies that have arisen. She's fought the good fight, and that is what matters most of all.

In that, I have found a good friend that I know I can trust.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Dona Nobis Pacem

Dominus exaudi nos
Dominus misrere
Dona nobis pacem
Sanctus, Gloria
dona nobis pacem
e dona eis requiem
inter ovas locum
voca me cum benedictis
pie jesu domine, dona eis requiem
dominus deus, Sanctus, Gloria

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Passing of Pope John Paul II

Today we have lost a great man, a great theologian, a great writer, a great thinker, a great communicator, a great man of peace. Thus I, as a Catholic, must mourn the passing of a great moral and political leader of the world and of a great leader of our Church. In his 26 years as Pope, he helped change this world, filled with so many maladies and so much strife, for the better and helped achieve peace in so many places and in so many lives. All know of him, and all will greatly miss him.

May God have mercy on his soul, and may Perpetual Light shine upon him. Dona nobis pacem. Amen.

"Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence." - Pope John Paul II

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Living in the Light

Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with the flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:10-17

Each day we must renew ourselves to live in the light of Christ. Daily we must put on our armor of God, or rather, the armor that is God. We are never always in the light of God, but it is a constant battle to be in the light of Christ, to be part of the one body. For we are never fully saved until we fully accept Christ, accept our armor of God, as just that and to live by, to live with, and to live through that daily. Our focus shouldn't be muddled in sin, rather we should rise above it and use our faith as a shield to block all that is degrading of our relationship with Christ. Only when we accept the armor of God do we become part of that armor.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

"Awake, O Sleeper...."

Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness
and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness;
rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention
the things done by them in secret;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore, it says:
"Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light."

Ephesians 5:8-14

We must awaken our faith, our love for Christ each and every day. Let not this day be one in which we fail to do so. God bless, and "Awake, O sleeper!"

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Harden Not Your Hearts

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun? One generation passes and another comes, but the world forever stays. The sun rises and the sun goes down; then it presses on to the place where it rises. Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north, the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds. All rivers go to the sea, yet never does the sea become full. To the place where they go, the rivers keep on going. All speech is labored; there is nothing man can say. The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor is the ear filled with hearing. What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, "See, this is new!" has already existed in the ages that preceded us. There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them. I, Qoheleth, was king over Israel in Jerusalem, and I applied my mind to search and investigate in wisdom all things that are done under the sun. A thankless task God has appointed for men to be busied about. For in much wisdom there is much sorrow, and he who stores up knowledge stores up grief. - Ecclesiastes 1:1-18

What has come to pass has passed, what is to come will come. Nothing more do we know, nothing more should we know. We should never forget where our lives, our essence comes from. We are nothing but crude matter; it is only through Christ and His sacrificial love do we come to know the Father and through the Father have life.

Nothing more, nothing less. May God bless you with a wonderful week.
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. - Psalms 95:7-8

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Dreary Rains of February

The day has been a soaked one. The rain system of Californian Mudslide fame has decided to occupy Texas with its daylong drenching rains. So be it.

Despite the elements, I decided—rain or shine—that today I needed to get a haircut...2 months since my last. Heck, I'm a college student trying to save a couple bucks. So I decide upon myself to trek across campus in the never-ending rains, those dreary rains of February. I wasn't totally crazy. I did have my trusty 3-dollar black Wal-Mart umbrella with me, while almost getting blown away it it a couple times along the way.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right...going across campus in the rain. By the time I reached the MSC (layperson's term: student center), I noticed a whole bunch of high school people. You know, munckins with big egos. Anyway, it turns out they were here for some sort of JROTC event or something with the Corps. We've been getting a lot more high school groups these days...the 'diversity' groups. Sbisa has been overrun with them around lunchtime. You can always recognize them...they're the ones that go straight for the pizza in the back. Never fails.

It's always so interesting to sit and watch the little buggers. Reminds me of how many years removed I am from their world...and how ever many more that I have left to be truly accepted as not just some "college kid." Those people irritate the hell out of me. Well, thankfully February is nearly over...maybe some sunshine is in store for Texas. Then again, maybe not.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Bon Mardi Gras Vous!

I'm sure that I butchered the title, but I figured if there was one day to do attempt it...and saying anything in French, it's today. It's supposed to be "Happy Mardi Gras to you," but the translation is up in the air. Take your best guess of what it really is. Anyway, if you don't know what today is, shame on you! You should get out more and head down to New Orleans (As the know-nothing Yankees pronounce it nu 'orl-y&nz or how it's supposed to be pronounced nu 'or-l&nz) for a good time and enjoy year. After all Mardi Gras is now all but done. For a good Catholic interpretation of the holiday (where it first got started, after all) go to the web site for the down low on a decadent holiday that, in the words of Frank Davis, has become "Naturally N'Awlins."

Today, however auspicious here in College Station, has not served much to appease any such Carnival Time that has transpired the past month or so in my birthplace. No less, I have gotten into the Carnival mood for one day, albeit without king cake or much fanfare, but it has made me all the better. It's been bright today and better weather. And if there's only a few songs from home to console me in my time away. Merriment isn't bad in itself, rather the debauchery that has come to be emblematic of the proceedings down in the Crescent City have done a disservice to a fun, friendly, and perfectly wonderful holiday of parades, a little excessive feasting, and the enjoyment of great company.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez, Y'all!