the long goodbye

Note: I try to make this site useful and interesting to the general public but every so often, I just want to have a personal post. This is one such post.
I have known for a good while that many people close to me would be leaving at the end of this semester. This reality is now coming home. Tonight, the remaining roommates met to discuss the final arrangements; I say remaining as our fifth guy moved out already. In a week, we’ll all be gone.
Virtually all of the people close to me are moving on to the next stage of their lives. They will leave Austin leaving me inspired to be a better person; resolved in the knowledge that hard-working, faith-filled, intelligent, social, beautiful people exist who have nothing but a desire to see the world a better place; dedicated to figuring out who I am, who I want to be and how to keep advancing towards that.
A deep void will exist where the all-nighters, dinners, Good Stops, debates, late night 7-11 runs, weird e-mail exchanges, giving and receiving advice, Metro stops, sleeping on someone else’s floor/couch, random road trips, planning road trips that never happened and whatever else we shared over the past three years. As with all things, we’ll adapt to our new situations, but nevertheless, I will fondly remember the years I were blessed to share with all of them at The University.
I have always have trouble keeping in touch with people. I intend to examine that next year and figure out how to better myself in regards to that. People say that the friends you make in college are the friends you’ll have for life- I intend to make that a personal truth.
I still have years left at The University and so this is not a de facto new beginning for me. It is no secret, however, that I wish to be in a different place than I am now and so I want to make this a new beginning.
This is something that has been a long time coming and what better time than now? I heard two speakers this weekend who further inspired me. The first was Roy Spence, President of GSD&M advertising agency. The second was Sara Martinez Tucker, President and CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. At 5:30 in the morning, I can’t recall what in their speeches called out to me, but they did. Roy Spence’s speech made me excited about graduating with a degree from the College of Communications. I didn’t graduate at all and I’ve never been a student in Communications before. Sara Martinez-Tucker’s speech helped me to realize that I lack motivation.
How to rediscover motivation? I don’t know but I’m going to find out.

the socially constructed sex

Looking at sex and sexuality as simply a socially constructed device is fundamentally flawed. The failure to look beyond that when determining what exactly sex and sexuality is a failure to actually attempt to determine anything.
Looking at the sexual aspects of religion as simply devices of oppression is also fundamentally disordered and causes great disunity between the true nature of both religion and sexuality.

online interaction

Wired News has a editorial regarding online relationships that I found very interesting.
In my very limited experience, having a relationship via instant message, whether that is friendship or something more, is an extremely powerful medium. I’ll completely grant that it lacks the personal interaction, the personal touch. It lacks the ability to hear the sound of their voice, to see the twitches of the other person face and the “sense” that you experience when in the same room as someone.
At the same time, without the ability to be distracted, a solid conversation with someone online is pure. You can’t be distracted and point out some random person walking by. You can’t sit in silence, there is no silence. Sometimes it is easier to open up to the screen; you forget there is someone behind the screen on the other side. That ability to open up, without distraction, can bring people closer in new and profound ways.
I think, with fondness, of a friendship that I had that grew primarly through AIM. We knew each other in person and saw each other in person often; however, at night online, we discussed our days. We shared our joys and sorrows in such a deep and profound way that I can say that I knew that person better than I knew virtually anyone else, even myself. We never restricted our communication to IM. We used text messages, e-mail, phone, in person- alone and in groups. With all of that, IM communication was very important to enabling us to keep close connections to each other. Busy working on a paper? The IM window was still there.
Equally, with the changing dynamics that online communication is bring ing to us, it makes the traditional that much harder. As mentioned in the editorial, when a relationship- friendship or otherwise- dissolves, it is much easier to move on to the next day. There are fewer things to remind you of that person. I think this is a sad loss. While it is painful to be reminded of someone loved and lost, it strengthens us in a profound and special way. It reminds us of our true humanity, as scary as that is, and helps brings us to a more mature state of understanding that humanity. Or at least, it can do that if we are properly prepared to experience the mysteries of man.
Communication is key in any relationship. I truly believe that using our new means of communications can very much help build that foundation of trust that communication develops. It must be kept, as all the older forms of communication as well, in the proper context of who we are as a people and what is best for us to help guide us to true happiness.

Holy Saturday

Today is Holy Saturday. The Church throughout the whole world is silent today. Most all sacramental functions are forbidden- even Holy Communion may only be given as Viaticum. The Church is silent today as we, in solidarity with the original disciples, wait and pray for the return of our Lord. 2000 years ago, the apostles were frightened for they had not understood the lessons Christ gave to them before his death. They did not fully understand what his death meant for him or for them. On this day, after his death and before his rising to new life, they sat and prayed.

The prayers of our Sacred Triduum are on-going. We started this season on the evening of Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. We departed in silence and we gathered again on Good Friday. Without any introduction, we began to pray again as we recalled our Savior’s Passion. We left again in silence. Tonight, we will gather again in darkness without fanfare or introduction. We gather together to hold vigil for the return of Jesus the Christ.

We are lucky for through our place in time we know that the death of the Son of Man was not an end. We are lucky for we know that it was only through his death that the beginning of new life may be found. The death he died he died to sin once and for all. Today, we join outside the bounds of time with all the Christian faithful before and after us in praying for the rising of Christ to new life. Just as in Advent as we pray for the coming of the Lord through both his nativity, as a reminder of what happened 2000 years ago, and also his Second Coming, so we too during this Sacred day pray in silence for his light to shine in the world once again. 2000 years ago, they prayed for his return to life. Today, we pray that the Light of Christ will shine in us again. Today, we pray that the Risen Lord will again conquer sin and death and enter into our hearts.

Below is a beautiful ancient homily on Holy Saturday. In it, Christ decends to find all those who had fallen to the sleep of death and he finds Adam. Christ explains his sacrifice to him in great symbolic language.

Something strange is happening–there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Our shepherd, the source of the water of life, has died. The sun was darkened when he passed away. But now man’s captor is made captive.
– This is the day when our Savior broke through the gates of death.
He has destroyed the barricades of hell, overthrown the sovereignty of the devil.
– This is the day when our Savior broke through the gates of death.

— From an ancient homily of Holy Saturday, Office of Readings

in the beginning was the word

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 came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

— Jn 1:1-5
This hit me in a unique way last night. In reflecting upon the opening of the Gospel according to St. John, we are first called to the Word- the Logos. The Logos, who we later learn in John to be Jesus Christ is also the Word spoken by God. If you recall the Genesis story of creation, God said let there be light; God spoke the Word and it came into being. Everything came into being by the Word, the Word which is Christ Jesus who is God.
All that was created was created through Jesus Christ. In the beginning, when man and woman were formed in God’s image, we lived with God, in God. Through the fault of man, we forfeited this reality. We gave up our existence with Him and in Him. We destined ourselves to the eternal fate of being separated from the Word which created us.
God saw that this was not good and not pleasing to him. In the due course of our salvation history, God willed that his creation- what was created when he spoke the Word- should be brought into communion with Him. The terror and tyranny of sin should no longer be able to stake the preeminent place it had claimed since the fall.
But how was he to save us from our own faults? Man lost our place with God, man had to gain it back. Yet, through human nature, we are not able to fully and completely resist the temptation of sin. How then are we to be saved? How can God work through creation, fulfilling his covenants with the limitations of man? He promised Noah he would no longer simply wipe us out and attempt to start fresh. How is God, in his infinite goodness, able to save us from ourselves?
The Word. The Word through which we were created, initially giving us unity with God, was needed to sanctify humanity again. But, it is man who must save man? God so loved his creation that he spoke the Word, accepted by man (Mary), so that the Word may be born as flesh. The Word became Man, being both infinitely God and infinitely man, was able to reconcile all things in Him. The Creator and the Created, together in being, in one flesh, is the only way the fall of man can be reconciled to the holiness of God.
In the middle of looking at this, we are not to say that previously man was void of God- void of holiness. No, God still rested with man but our fall, a “mortal sin” in the language of modern hamartiology, destroyed “charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turned man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.” (CCC 1855). Our violation of God’s law kept us from enjoying the rewards of Him. We could still be holy men before the Word was made flesh, but we still had the stain of sin upon our souls and thus unable to enjoy in the forfeited fruits of the Word.
Now, our salvation history progressed to where the Word was Flesh. The Creator and the Created in the same being now existed. A Man was born who was perfectly without sin by His own doing (only because He was also infinitely divine). The Adam of Old lost for us the fruit but now existed a new Adam. The newly firstborn of creation. We are all, however, children of the first Adam. We all have original sin because of this. Simply God’s existence as Man can not reconcile this.
God, the Logos made flesh, desiring to reconcile all things in Himself according to the will of the Father (since after all the Father spoke the Word, thus the Word is at the will of the Father), had to offer up the ultimate sacrifice: a sacrifice so great that it counterbalanced the Great Fall.
The Word, by the hands of men, sacrificed Himself to the Father. The greatest action of God, short of creation itself, to that point in human time, the incarnation of God in Man, was forfeited by the Incarnate Word. In the final action of Jesus Christ through his earthly body was to extend that flesh as the bridge between heaven and earth. Being man without sin, his sacrifice was what was needed to bring all men back to God.
So again, the life, the light of the human race, was able to shine forth through Christ.
Our salvation history is a long, complex yet simple history. God made man. Man turned away from God. God attempting to reach his people over and over and constantly having man turn away. God sending himself as the everlasting covenant. God and Man in the same being, the new Adam who cannot, will not, turn away from God. We, being children of the Fallen can now, through baptism, join the washing away the sin of the old through the blood of the Cross and enter the brotherhood of the New Adam.

let us show each other god’s generosity

The Second Reading from the Office of Readings today (the Monday of the First Week of Lent) was from St. Gregory of Nazianzen and was particularly proper for today.
In the cycle of the church calendar, fixed dates do not reoccur in any real, usual fashion. For example, today is both the first Monday of Lent and February 14th, the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius or traditionally, St. Valentine’s Day. The first Monday of Lent and St. Valentine’s day are seldom the same day.
But today, it is and the second reading, on the subject of showing one another God’s generosity, is perfect for today. It starts with:

Recoginze to whom you owe the fact that you exist, that you breathe, that you understand, that you are wise, and, above all, that you know God and hope for the kingdom of heaven and the vision of glory, now darkly as in a mirror but then with greater fullness and purity. You have been made a son of God, co-heir with Christ. Where did you get all this, and from whom?

We are given all things and can do all things through God. Our ability to one day reach the fullness of existence with and in God the Father is only ours because of Jesus Christ. Our existence, in any form, is only because of the gift of it from God.
On Valetine’s Day, as a culture, we celebrated eros, as I mentioned in my previous post. On a different, higher level, we celebrated, as we celebrate everyday, a gift from God. God has given us the ability to experience love for him, love for our brothers and love for our lovers.
St. Gregory continues:

Brethen and friends, let us never allow ourselves to misuse what has been given us by God’s gift. If we do, we shall hear Saint Peter say: Be ashamed of yourselves for holding on to what belongs to someone else. Resolve to imitate God’s justice, and no one will be poor.

Initially, we think of material possessions- our wealth and our call to give more alms during Lent. But in light of Valentine’s day, may I suggest that we look at this in the context of love?
God has given to us infinite love. His love extends to us in so great a fashion that not only did he send his only Son to us but he died for us. Our creator loved his creation to the point of sacrificing himself to ransom back for us the life that we forfeited through original sin.
There are those who live amongst us who are poor in spirit. Not only have we recieved God’s love, as have those who are poor in spirit, but we know of this love. Who are we to contain it only in ourselves?
As Christians, we are called to preach the Good News to all through our thoughts, words and deeds. While this calling is universal to all who have been washed of sin through holy baptism, on this day in our secular culture we are called to preach it evermore so. Our culture has a special knack for getting so close to expressing an universal truth- love- yet falls so far by forgetting the faith that it must be rooted in.
On this day of love, we are called to spread what we have been given- God’s love- and, by our actions, show the world the love which has been given to all of us. “Let us put into practice the supreme and primary law of God. He sends down rain on just and sinful alike, and causes the sun to rise on all without distinction.” So we too must spread the love and knowledge of God without distinction.