25 Aug

Jesus is Lovable

Thomas Merton compared prayer to a firework.  Dialogueing or meditating is the shell being lit and sent up into the sky.  For the prayer to explode like the firework into the colorful pattern it must have love.  Whatever spiritual activity we may do, whether it is contemplation, rosary, petitioning, centering, lectio divina, it is not genuine prayer if we do not make an act of love for Jesus Christ.  Merton says the activity without love would be more accurately described as self-reflection or self-psycho analysis.  And this is merely the slight arc of a firework with no explosion; ultimately a dud.

18 Aug

Whatever happened to Shelly Pennefather

Villanova University has one of the best college basketball programs in the country.  Between the men and women's programs, 21 national championships have been won.  Many of the players have gone on to play in the NBA and WNBA.  The individual with the most points (2,408) in Villanova basketball history is Shelly Pennefather, who played from 1983-1987.  In 1987 she won the Wade Trophy, given to the best women's college basketball player.  She played professionally for a few years in Japan, as the WNBA did not yet exist, earning nearly half a million dollars in today's standard.  And then she disappeared.  "Whatever happened to Shelly Pennefather" read a recent headline. 

11 Aug

God's Gate

The most famous tower in the Old Testament is Babel, meaning "God's gate." It was man's attempt to reach God on his own ability.  This failed.  But there is another tower that can help us reach God, and that is the Tower of David—Mary.

The tower of David is a reference to Mary's physical beauty, her strength, security, steadfastness, and inaccessible womanhood.  Vigilance and ascent are other attributes of a tower.  We need to be vigilant in the spiritual life; on the lookout for pitfalls and sins that will lead us away from God and make us fall back into ourselves and, ultimately, into Hell.  We are, instead, to ascend upwards to God.  We cannot do this on our own, but only through the assistance of the Blessed Mother.  The Tower of David rises high into the Jerusalem sky. 

04 Aug

dit dit dit DAH

Among Beethoven's masterful innovations to music was making the final movement of a symphony as strong, if not stronger, than the first movement.  In the prior Baroque and Classical periods, the opening of the symphony was the tour de force and each movement slowly subsided in energy and ingenuity.  Most everyone is familiar with the first movement of Beethoven's 5th, in particular the motif dit dit dit DAH.  Following the tradition, Beethoven designed the opening to captivate the listener, to draw him in.  But listen to the fourth and final movement of the Symphony no.5 in C Minor (which happens to be one of my favorite pieces in all classical music).  People did not walk out of Beethoven's music hall ready for bed.  They were exhilarated. 

Is this not an analogy for the Catholic life?  Our baptism is the captivating opening movement.  We are drawn in.  The crescendo is initiated.  And just as that famous motif repeats throughout Beethoven's fifth symphony, the promptings of grace inaugurated at baptism resonate through our life, bringing us peace and joy.  At last, Catholics do not end their lives with a whimper, fading off into oblivion like the final movements of the earlier musical epochs.  No, we end triumphantly.  We are carried off to the ever-expanding Trinity from whence we came.  Our life lived in baptism and through the sacraments on this earth continues on into the next, now glorified.  The end of the Catholic life is even greater than the beginning, an ode to joy.