The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You

In the news recently is a group of Longhorns student-athletes who, among other things, have asked The University of Texas at Austin to stop singing The Eyes of Texas.

The Eyes of Texas is rooted as satire making fun of then-University President Prather who used the phrase “The eyes of Texas are upon you” in speeches to the University community.

He took the phrase from General Robert E. Lee, while he was president of Washington University where Prather was a student, who said “the eyes of the South are upon you”. After research by the UT-Austin commission on the song, they determined that the story of the origination of the phrase “The Eyes of Texas are upon you” coming from Lee’s “The Eyes of the South are upon you” is not correct with no evidence to support it.

The song itself was written and sung by a group of university students who first performed the song at a minstrel show, which means it is pretty likely that it was performed in blackface.

On one hand, I love the notion that “the eyes of Texas are upon you”. Prescribed by the state’s constitution, we are the state’s first-class university, meant to be the crown jewel of the higher learning of Texas. The notion that the entire state looks at what The University is doing resonates with me.

The tune itself is just I’ve Been Working on the Railroad—which is not that interesting musically and, notably, not without it’s own controversial minstrel origins.

Alternatively, “What Starts Here Changes The World” has been the University’s slogan for nearly 20 years now and celebrates UT’s role as an international university of note. The eyes of Texas aren’t all that are upon us.

At the end of the day, the University is a living organization. Traditions change over time. Some of them we can remember and acknowledge that maybe they weren’t the best idea. Some of them can change over time.

My affiliation is first to the friends I made while at the University and to my own evolution that took place there. Secondly, it is to the institution as it is now—my role as an alumnus to support the next generation and to learn from them. Lastly, it is to the traditions that existed in my time.

I’ll always have my memories of those traditions and what they meant to me at the time. I’m not ashamed of my ignorance at the time. As an university of the first class, meant to be an intellectual beacon of exploration, I would be ashamed if the University refused to advance forward.

Happy Annunciation!

Normally, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the celebration of the angel visiting Mary and asking her if she would bear Jesus, is on March 25th. Liturgical pregnancies are always nine months long (March 25th to December 25th, or the birth of Mary is celebrated nine months after the Immaculate Conception).

This year, though, the celebration is transferred to April 9th. Why?

Calendar rubrics FTW. The vast majority of liturgical celebrations are simply not celebrated when a “higher ranking” feat takes place on the same day.  The memorial of St. Ceallach in Ireland is usually celebrated on April 1st, but wasn’t celebrated at all since that was Easter Sunday. Solemnities, however, are transferred forward to the next available date that does not outrank it.

In 2018, March 25th fell on Palm Sunday, so the Annunciation would be pushed forward to Monday, March 26th. All of Holy Week, however, outranks the Annunciation, so it would to be pushed forward to Sunday, April 1st, which being Easter obviously outranks. The entire octave of Easter (the eight days from Easter to Divine Mercy Sunday/the 2nd Sunday of Easter) share the rank of Easter, so the Annunciation had to keep moving forward. The Monday of the 2nd week of Easter is known as “low Monday” from the Extraordinary Form where a “low Mass” would be celebrated for the first time in awhile. Be it a regular weekday of Easter, the solemnity outranks it and Mary’s visit from an angel found a home for 2018.

For your own edification, the Table of Liturgical Days is available from the Order of St. Benedict site. The table originated in Pope Paul VI’s Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar which is what guides local bishop conferences and how all those calendar printers get things right.

The Bartender That Knows Everyone’s Name

Murf’s “favors” sometimes register as tough love, especially when he’s trying to protect students from recklessness. “When kids come in on their 21st birthdays asking for shots, I don’t do it. I’ll make them a drink, but I won’t pour them shots.” In Murf’s view, shots are for “getting stupid,” and he won’t allow Notre Dame students to get stupid on his watch.

Mike values Murf’s egalitarian approach to service. “I’ve been in here at nights when there are trustees, and I’ve thought, ‘Well, we’re gonna take a backseat.’ Not the case at all,” he says, shaking his head. “Not the case at all. Murf has made me and all my ministry friends feel like a part of Notre Dame. He would treat us exactly the way he’d treat a trustee.” He handles guests, Mike says, as “a virtuoso handles the different sections of an orchestra.”

Source: Murf // News // Notre Dame Magazine // University of Notre Dame

The Notre Dame Magazine, the alumni magazine, has this lovely story about Murf, the long-time bartender at the bar inside Morris Inn, Notre Dame’s on-campus hotel.

I grew up watching Cheers and always enjoyed the idea of communal drinking establishments—public houses, beer halls, and the like—places that truly are that “third place” separate from home and work where you socialize, intentionally with friends and randomly with people present.

Notre Dame is a special place because of people like Murf who keep the human side of the institution front-and-center.

Who Owns the Dead?

Cotton Balls
For decades, Americans have been increasingly distanced from the dead. A small group of women is working to change that.

Source: Who Owns the Dead?

This article from New Republic is pretty incredible. Vanessa and I have talked about our desire to, as much as possible, not leave a body alone between death and burial, but these folks have taken that idea much further than either Vanessa nor I had considered before.

In a perfect world, we would want to have a wake—with the deceased—at the house surrounded by family and friends as the final personal send-off and remembrance before the funeral and burial. I recall with my dad’s funeral spending quite a bit of time at the funeral home, sitting out back by the hearses with my mom (where they had a smoking station), playing around in an empty office, generally trying to get some sense of what had happened. The funeral home or funeral parlor, so named because it replaced the family home or the home’s front parlor as where family or friends would gather to spend the person’s physical remains last moments amongst the living.

Returning back home after all of the events, during which I slept at my sister’s house, was an unsettling experience. The last time we were all home together, it was as we were walking out the door to the ER. I don’t know if having a sense of closure at home would have changed anything, but I’m open to trying it.

All that said, I’ve never felt the desire to go to the extremes (by today’s standards) of the families in the article. I’m a-okay letting other people prepare the body and generally following today’s norm with using a funeral home—just with having a wake in a more familiar setting.


Our problem is we always spend Christmas with extended family. We may travel to Houston/El Paso/Wichita Falls, we may have two to 14 people (and a dog!) come stay with us. We might be in Austin alone (doubtful). We want to create a stable, family tradition, but it’s hard when the expectation is to either host a big group or travel.

Epiphany is our solution.

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The Twenty-fifth Day of December

photocredit: flckr/fotokatolik

The Twenty-fifth day of December

when ages beyond number had run their course from the creation of the world, when God in the beginning created heaven and earth, and formed man in his own likeness;

when century upon century had passed since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood, as a sign of covenant and peace;

in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith, came out of Ur of the Chaldee;

in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses in the Exodus from Egypt;

around the thousandth year since David was anointed King;

in the sixty-fifth week of the prophency of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninty-fourth Olympiad;

in the year seven hundred and fifty-two since the foundation of the City of Rome;

in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus,

the whole world being as peace,

JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal father, desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence, was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

and when nine months had passed since his conception, was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah, and was made man:

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.