Saturday, April 19, 2008

I Must Do...

It is in a moving peace and a moving joy that I am called to action this day. I am a man who is not happy to leave good enough alone. I am at heart a doer. I don't necessarily want the answer I have to be the right one, but every day I feel I must move closer to that understanding.

I must accomplish progress in the plans set before me so that I might not become discouraged. In short, I must have hope.

But if I have not the faith in my heart that the hope of a new day is to come, then how am I to live? I must live with love. I must show, as Pope Benedict said in conference with U.S. Catholic educators Thursday in Washington, D.C., "intellectual charity" not only to my own work but that of my peers and my professors. It is needed in everything I do to make it an act of charity, an act of love. In all things love and prayer must pervade. That is the mark of a holy life.

Let us be moved each day to find peace and joy in pursuing intellectual charity in all its glorious forms.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Out of Chaos Comes Order

Some fellow peers and I had a discussion on whether there was such a thing as ordered chaos. I was firmly against such a notion simply because all I could see before me was chaos and no order to things lately. Slowly in the week since the discussion, I am finding the opposite to be true both in the physical and in the spiritual sense. Even though all has come from a chaos, it has been ordered in such a way even from the start by a hand so slight, a hand so delicate that the intricacies of what might look to be chaos but is truly order beneath it all.

I don't have another moral essay today as was the case this past weekend, but I am starting to notice that even in the most chaotic of times order—and therefore peace—can be found if only we rest our restless hearts and listen to the Word of God in the midst of our lives.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Embrace

These are just a few words from a writing session in the Commons from a couple of weeks ago... So much is left to be done and there's so little time to do it within. If I don't have peace, how can I give it? I'm still working on that one.
The Embrace

Quiet, silent
The winds of the Heart
Do blow...

With kindness
The words of the Heart
Do flow...

With patience
The will of the Heart
Is known...

With great care
The love of the Heart
Is sown...

All grace,
All mercy
From this Sacred Heart
Does flow.

How fair,
So very fair
Is this Heart,
One so eternally blest.

How saving,
So very saving,
In troubling times
Is this Heart of Mercy.

Glory and honor,
Worship and adoration,
Is due this Heart,
This Heart of Mercy.

Worthy of praise,
Endless praise,
Is due this Heart,
This Heart of Mercy.

Set me afire,
Heart of Mercy,
This very day...
Afire in love.

Grace me with a love
Blind to this world,
To give to this world,
No matter its Fall.

Grant me,
Sacred Heart Most Holy,
A calming peace to serve,
To serve you completely.

Give me peace
To accept this world,
To live in this world
But not for this world.

Give me courage
To love still more
Even after we part
From this sacred embrace.

Shower me in grace
To love this day
And every day from now;
Give to me this embrace.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

An Abandonment to God's Will

If there has been anything with resonance for me within the past week it has been this phrase buried within a weekday homily. The context of its placement to Scripture matters not as Scripture is wholly based on the concept and therefore would require me to quote the whole of it in order to grasp what is before me in the present.

The resonance is, in addition to this, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth, where in the first chapter he declares quite skillfully that man's innate desire is to know not so much his innocuous beginnings but what future is to become of him. So much so is this the case that man wishes to tear asunder the curtain to see the realization of his salvation. We are so much in search of the Prophet within our lives that we can often times lose sight of much else.

It is in contemplation and discussion that we see Jesus the Prophet come to bear His Truth. It is not an easy Truth to accept nor is it a popular one. The road is tough simply because of the fact that much of the time we don't realize we aren't on it and that we should be. We would much rather go through torment than apply our gifts of life because that road would appear to be the easier one.

I would suppose quite the opposite. I would say that we should take the more difficult of paths before us, the one that appears to be the harder of the two, not because the road would be the path of least resistance but because in that path of privation and uncertainty not only do we find ourselves and the meaning of ourselves but so too God and the meaning of God Himself—in some of the most ironic of ways.

We may laugh and we may cry on this path of privation for as it says in Proverbs, "Even in laughter the heart may be sad, and the end of joy may be sorrow" (Proverbs 14:13). However, it is in both sorrow and joy that we find our place amongst everything of Creation.

More often than not with the more answers that one receives, the more questions arise in one's heart. This has certainly rung true for me. I know not the route of this path of privation, but I do know that through a certain amount of abandonment of the extraneous excesses of worrying in life to God and His will while making willful choices in line with His teachings, I can find peace within Him and within His Divine Plans. These are not plans for fame or plans for fortune. No, desires of such things of lust ought to be left for the pettier of our kind. What we ought to seek for is the love of our fellow man.

Empathy is an oft-shunned quality amongst the most masculine of the world. They are somehow above or supposed to be above showing an honest and forthright concern not only for himself but for the Other in his midst. Man, in the modern sense, is meant to wall himself in a fortress impenetrable, on a fort atop a hill that cannot be breached by emotion. Ah, but when the walls of this mighty fortress are breached and the hillsides scaled, what a disappointing loss for this kind of man within!

It is the man who places himself like a city on a river without defenses, who freely trades with others on this body of water that is scoffed, derided, and laughed at in our society. He is the "weaker" of the two men. He is more open to attack and therefore defeat at the hands of his foe. And so goes the reasoning of our day.

But I ask of you this: which of these men are truer to his own self? Which is truer to his innate being? Who bears the face of Christ more?

I declare it to be the latter of the two. It is the man whose defenses are not walled up, who freely trades amongst the others upon the body of water and thus leaves himself open to attack.

All is not what it seems. Is the more defended one the man who spends all his resources of life to defend himself inside his inner keep and ready himself for a siege war that will last him his existence until he takes his last warm breath and expires from this earth? Or could it be the man who appears to be the weaker of the two who has a treasury not of bullets and bombs or machines and mortars but has instead a treasury of priceless gems and golden implements to ward off the despair of the looming attack?

It is the Pearl of Great Price that resides at the heart of the man of the second kind. He will not be overcome with defeat or slaughter. It is he who will rise above any challenge at hand.

And yet men of our day are cut down, are demoralized in the struggle, and lose faith in their way to greatness, to peace, and to salvation. We are the ones fed insecurity and concern of what the world thinks of our actions, our beliefs, and our very real and personal love for the Other in our lives. Somehow we must show the man of the first kind to the outside world but be the one of the second to only a select few confidants, a short list expected never to grow very large. How realistic is this even for the most "typical" masculine men of the current day's sense and all its varied sensibilities? None whatsoever.

We should reject this unrealistic and destructive demand upon our manhood. We should reject the demoralizing vices and temptations of lust and greed that pollute not only the judgment of our minds but the love of our hearts. We should reject the chains of sin to which we have bound ourselves in taking what appeared to be the easier road at the onset. How else are we to become the true men we are to be? How else can we be better examples of a fully sacrificial love to the Other in our lives? How else are we to be Christ to the Other in our midst?

There is no other way but to give in abandonment our selfish desires to God's will in order to fully transform what was once the broken man found in the archetype of Adam and thus be transfigured into a more Christ-like—and therefore more holy—example in a world beset with problems and very few men of good worth ready to solve these problems. It is in this transformation and transfiguration that we become those men of good worth to truly be the providers that we have been called to be and ought to be in a world torn asunder in strife.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Words of Kindness

Your words of kindness
Shower my heart with great joy.

Your smile of sincerity
Strengthens me with much peace.

Your eyes of compassion
Draw me even closer to you.

Your soft loving touch
Gives my heart warmth so great.

Inspiration you have given,
An inspiration to carry on.

At the start,
My breath was taken away;
Your beauty entered in.

But your words,
Those very sweet words,
Have been greater yet...
Planted in my heart which sings.

You compel me
To be a better man,
A better man than I am...

To grow more...
To give more...
To see more...
To be more.

So glad is my heart
That you are there
To so greatly brighten
Even the darkest of days.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Grace Is a River

Joy cannot be sustained by just willing it. Joy is being with others and changing others. Grace is a key component of joy...if one is not filled with grace how can joy enter into one's life?

Today has been a rather exhausting day of deadlines piling up, of expectations being blown away, and of an aching desire for the semester to go away and at the same time the wish it would be longer.

It seems I have no answers today, just questions, just pains. I have tried many ways to shake the questions, the doubts in my mind. I have come so far, but it seems not far enough. I am trying to assuage the doubts, the stress. I am finding new paths to relieving my stress as the old ones are dying away.

I am starting to focus more on the smaller things, especially on campus. They're everywhere now that it's spring, especially while walking around. I've noticed the sweeter smell of bushes I've yet to notice before. With the help of a friend, I narrowed it down to be Japanese Pittosporum, which has a sweet smell that reminds me of the gardenias from home.

I was entirely worn out this afternoon, so I went to the Commons after my last class because I had a hunch that someone would be playing the piano in the lobby. Sure enough there was a fellow playing and so I dozed...and dozed. The chords of music continued to float, to dance in my mind. I cannot play, but the music calms me even when I am the tensest. It also helps me in my writing moods, to bring together something so effervescent as words on one's breath. I then recalled the poem I wrote a few days before, which I have posted below.

I knew of a few things that could have made the moment better and that could have made the moment perfect. I hoped for it, but it didn't come. The only thing that came was the thought: not today. So I left to go home and for dinner. But I was stopped again, this time in the park between Langford and the O&M building behind the Administration Building. The sun caught my eyes like it does in the evenings. It was flooding the park in a most pleasing orange.

I took another nap on one of the benches, letting the orange sunlight flood my eyes as I looked up to the oak trees' branches overhead. All I heard were the birds' chirps and the quiet, cool feeling of the breeze. The breeze felt like it was an invisible blanket of comfort, like God was tucking me in for rest. I had finally relaxed. I had finally smiled for the day.

I felt compelled enough to go to the Bonfire Memorial for the first time this semester. I hadn't been there since my photography trip the Saturday morning before the A&M-Kansas football game last fall. I couldn't help but imagine that I was one of those fallen. That it was my name on the bronze plaque. I felt that would be easier than what is going on now. But their words gave me some peace, some perseverance to go on.

I don't want to leave this community, but I know I must eventually. I am being drawn to stay, to look closer at the small things, to breathe in the sweet smells, to go further, to go deeper in reflection and in love. I may be without much visible joy right now, but it is on shining the light underneath it all that my joy resides and shimmers. It may be buried, but it is not gone.

Joy is not about excluding the sorrows of life but accepting them and THEN rising above them. Joy is never to be a stagnant feeling...I just wish I wasn't so stagnant right now. My ship isn't moving on this listless sea. Maybe tomorrow will be a day where the winds take up my sails and move me forward to joy. Until then rest is my closest friend.

Peace is found not so much in happiness, but in an acceptance of what was, what is, and what will be. I am slowly finding that peace again.

Sweet Symphony

Raise, O Angelic Choruses,
Your voices in the heavens.
Show your boundless beauty
In voices ceaselessly raised
To the God of Endless Glory,
For through Him we are saved.

O God of Divine Mercy,
Give us voices worthy,
Worthy to sing You praise.
Give us the chords of love,
Chords in which to praise
The love You plant within us every day.

Strengthen our chords of love
Until we reunite in the Clouds above,
Where all sorrow is wiped away.
Lengthen our chords of love
So we may not only love our friends
But even our enemies to the very end.

Combine our chords of love
So that we may do Your will
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Bring together all our chords
So that they may be pleasing,
Pleasing in every way, O Lord.

Grant us Your mercy, O Lord,
In this world and the next,
Creating a sweet symphony so very blest.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Be a Light: Change the World

It is an amazing testimony to God's giving grace when a certain type of person just falls into one's life. When, all of a sudden, you find yourself presented a gift not of material form but of spiritual form, such that there is no physicality to the gift but it is wholly between two separate and distinct spirits.

God's love and glory does operate in mysterious and distinct ways, but it is Him through it all. These are not premonitions I speak of but actual distinct movements within one's life.

I have felt the movements; I have seen the fingerprints of His hands. I know not where this Force is pulling me, but I know of its quiet presence, even in the most innocuous of items in one's existence.

Just as a diamond has many facets to it, where the Light is reflected uniquely through each facet, so is it in this universe of ours.

The simple reality is that even with the smallest change to this universe an indelible change is made to what once existed. This is why I laugh so at the Back to the Future movie trilogy. Even with the smallest of changes, say a chance encounter never intended to occur or a subsequent rekindling of the connection, can ultimately and drastically change the way this universe is reflected. Notwithstanding are some micro-changes that do not trickle down in future realities, but in the end each of us is drastically effected in our lives by even the smallest of choices.

Do I go for coffee today? Do I make a weekend trip? These questions may seem trivial, but out of the infinite number of choices of possible actions, you've chosen this one—to read these words I have composed. Why?

Only God knows all things and only God can foresee all things. What this does to your future consciousness is unknown to me. All I know for certain is that we must be thankful for what we have in the present and in very small ways, make the necessary steps in one's own life to bring God's will out to bear and through this bear the fruit of His Word and His Spirit.

I am thankful for this gift of His Spirit, this gift that isn't rationed but given freely to us by God for us in word, deed and thought by so many who act according to His will. We cannot do big things. We can only do little things in Christ and—through those actions—change the world.

Be a light to the world and you will leave a mark, not your own but Christ's—a mark that is imperishable, a seed planted that will not die but will give life. It is through this that you will bear the fruit that will remain.

Praise be to God for true friends, for as it is written in Proverbs 18:24: "Some friends bring ruin to us, but a true friend is more loyal than a brother." True friends should be always treasured, for they are worth more than all the riches of the world and all the time to discover them. It is worth it all.

As Jesus said:
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another."
- John 15:11-17

In closing:
May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it. Brothers, pray for us, too.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23-25
Peace be with you, my friends.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Quenchless Light

A solitary flame,
Beauty, love the same,
Flickers in the night.

Its strength remains
Even while its wick wanes
And colors dance so bright.

Amid deepening darkness
The flame of yellow grows,
And flickers of light dance
To a silent score of might.

The light cuts the darkness
With an indomitable spirit;
The light conquerors the darkness
With a spirit that gives sight.

Quenchless is this flame...
Darkness has no chance
To win this eternal fight.

Forever burning bright...
Forever giving life...
Forever the quenchless light.