Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
The whirling circle of the sacred year,
Returns me to the place where we began,
Familiar sights and sighs meet eye and ear,
Road markers on a path I did not plan.
Each bench is now a home to lingering shades
Which summon smiles and memories of light
That pierced our armor, leveled our blockades.
Your flame and mine unite to face the night,
Entwining youths: two souls, two lips both meet.
But candles sizzle out, smothered by night
And winter’s cold conquered love’s tender heat.
Our story but an interlude of light-
A tale cut short- it had but just begun
Will new dawn break or has the darkness won?
Friday, October 28, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
They're another person with feelings, thoughts, ideas, emotions, dreams, hopes and plans of their own. And some of them, unfortunately, may not include you, in fact may be contrary to your wishes for your own life. That's called Reality.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Fully intending to get to bed at midnight, I ended up staying awake until 3:00 am discussing life, God, the universe and everything with a friend. It was an incredible conversation, and I learned so much. But I got approximately four hours of sleep. This resulted in three things:
Firstly, everything was really, really funny. Our Capitol tour guide who was in love with Henry Clay was really funny. Every group inside joke was really funny. The hunky, rugged, mountain man of a congressional/legislative intern was really funny. The head of a moose named Oscar that was living on the wall of Senator Ayotte’s office was down right hilarious.
Secondly, those high heels I was wearing were a struggle. Oh they were a struggle. I wore those high heels the day before, and I was fine. But today. Today they were a struggle bus to Pain-ville. Our talkative tour guide was discussing the details of a faux-frieze painting, and all I wanted was to sit down.
Thirdly, I was falling asleep during an incredible talk by a USCCB representative. It was awful. We were all nodding off at different intervals-we tag-teamed asking questions, and pretending to pay attention. I pulled the “I’m looking at this pamphlet and really intensely studying it while letting my head rest on my hand.” My notes from that session are a bunch of random scribbles. I can make out “justification,” “pro-life movement,” “support,” and “exception.” Well done. We all thanked him profusely as we left, because we felt awful for not actually paying attention to his talk.
Fourthly, I was falling asleep at the dinner party we went to that night. I also felt awful, because it was a delightful party in an adorable dream apartment, with a ton of cool Notre Dame alums. It was a little slice of real life, and I loved it. But, it was 10pm and I was tired. My body had suffered through loquacious tour guides and painful high heels and very cold marble halls of justice. It was beddy-bye time for me.
One of the most productive activities of the day, which we did while waiting in the reception room of Senator Ayotte’s office suite was identifying what animal each member of our group was. It was quite enlightening. You can always tell so much about a person’s character by what animal they would be. Our group consists of a meerkat, owl, koala, dolphin, lemur, bunny, mama cow, fawn, foal, skunk, and lamb. Our leaders were a little more difficult to pin down. One of them is definitely a gecko. And then, walking up capital hill, we finally realized that the other is a lioness. They embrace their respective animals whole-heartedly. And we love them all the more for it.
I think the quote of the day is Chesterton’s: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” I think that encapsulates my attitudes now. I think so many people are afraid to seek the Truth because it’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s a dangerous thing, staking your life on a Truth. We often fail to live our lives the way we ought to. But just because we’re going to fail at living out the Truth, but that doesn’t negate the fact that there is a definite, objective Truth that we should strive for, even when its practical application is difficult.
As Richard Doehflinger of the USCCB said, there’s an over-arching teaching of the church, which is that all life is sacred, and that we should never deliberately harm innocent human life. And when we know that to be true, then we can approach difficult ethical situations with discernment and using our judgment. It’s a mature way to approach situations.
Highlight of the day: seeing the Senate in session. It was so surreal to see the government at work. It was incredible to walk through those winding halls back to the congress galleries, file in, and watch the politicians make some government happen. All the ceremony and ritual that surrounded it were so inspiring. I absolutely loved it. And of course, we were discussing our favorite Disney Princesses the entire time.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Our last stop of the day was the Supreme Court building. We had a meeting with Justice Scalia, which was fantastic. We were shown to a small audience chamber, and were told to wait for the justice. We were all sitting on edge, waiting for the man to walk into the room. It was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. As soon as he walked into the room, he emanated this power, and this confidence in his own power. He was blunt, and wryly funny, and very Italian. “What do I know about what the average American thinks?” said Justice Scalia, “I come from an elite group from the best law schools, stuck in a marble palace. What do I know about what the boys in the bar?” That quote really struck me. It conjured up a really Romantic image of a judge imprisoned in a beautiful cage. A sort of poor little rich man who wants to be a boy in the bar, but knows he can’t.
It was an incredibly rewarding day-we talked ourselves silly, and spent an hour discussing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the evening. What I find so incredible about this group is that they love these issues and they discuss them non-stop. We’ve exchanged so many ideas over the past few days. I’ve learned so much about how people think so differently. As in, people approach these problems with radically different mental mindsets, which accounts for the huge variety of views that exist around those life issues.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Started the day out right with a midnight tour of the monuments. There’s nothing like seeing the WWII memorial lit up at night-the water reflects off all the pools of water and the spraying fountains, and casts a golden light over the entire monument. It was absolutely stunning.
After a good night’s rest, we headed off to Mass at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Going back to the Basilica is always a special pilgrimage. In the crypt, there is a small, inconspicuous little side chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Slovenia. There, engraved on the wall in gold writing is a quote, which reads: “This is all I desire: to be where God wants me to be.” When I was college visiting, I saw that quote, and I felt such peace-I knew that all I had to find out was where God wanted me to be. Although it might seem easier to find out where I want to be, I don’t think that’s the case. Human beings are so notoriously changeable and trying to discern what we want is usually a supremely difficult chore. Asking God for guidance, and listening to His call is, in a way, much easier. Counter-intuitive, but true. And that’s how I ended up at Notre Dame. Last January, I was in D.C. for the March for Life, and I visited that quote again. Halfway through freshman year, I needed a reminder that that was all that mattered-to be where God wanted me to be. How blessed I am that Notre Dame is that place.
We had a long hard day of fun-visiting Smithsonians and exploring the city. We ended the day in Georgetown, eating dinner in the garden of an adorable little burger joint. We had dinner with some old Notre Dame friends. I was talking with one of them-also a PLS major-about life after Notre Dame. It sounded like a fairytale. She described the network of Notre Dame alumni, University of Dallas, Steubenville, CUA, all these students of different colleges and universities living together, partying together, talking about Aristotle and the Catechism together, and just in general sharing life together. It sounded too good to be true. It made me so happy. We walked back to the center, surrounded by the sounds and sights of the city at night. I love the city at night. It makes you feel so alive.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Hola, lovely peeps! This fall break, I’m embarking on a wee little adventure to D.C. Thirteen of us (oh for a Bagginses to round out the number) are travelling together, exploring the city, and eating together. And, most importantly, we’re figuring out what it means to for humans to live with dignity. What it means to have a right to life, who determines the quality of life, and how our society- cultural morés, technology, and human development-has impacted our view of life issues.
We left ND at 9:00 yesterday, and boarded an Amtrak train. The ride was absolutely, positively glorious. You could see the twinklings of stars and patches of clouds blotted against the pitch black night. We were all huddled out on the platform, breathing the crisp fall air, waiting impatiently for the train to come. Then, out of the still night came a shrill whistle. We all perked up, looked up, and saw the train barreling towards us. Then, we piled into the last car, handed our luggage to the attendant (who made mock sounds of annoyance everytime a student handed him another “brick”), and clambered up the stairs to our seats.
I settled down into a window seat, which was absolutely perfect. My Gypsy Mermaid friend sat down next to me, and we chitter-chatted away. We discovered how to lean the seatback back, and how to pull the footrest up-little triumphs, my friends, little triumphs. [Tangent: Those moments represent too well my attitude towards technology and machinery in general. Basically, every single piece of machinery poses a challenge to me-it’s a puzzle that I have to crack. It’s laughing at you saying: “Haha, stupid human, try to figure out how to work me. You might as well just give up, because it’s nearly impossible.” And then when you do find out how it works, a thrill of triumph fills your soul, and you want to proclaim: “I am human, hear me roar! My natural intelligence, innovation and creativity can conquer any freaking challenge posed to me by man or beast! Take that, Amtrak train seat!”]
Anyhow, we were graced with an attendant by the name of Jerry. GM and I decided our goal for the 16 hour train ride was to become best friends with Jerry. I think we succeeded. Jerry gave us his “taking-care-of-business-introductory-speech.” After learning the rules of the train, we settled down for pre-sleep chit-chat. After an hour or two of soul-sharing, it was time to hit the hay. Easier said than done. I think everyone tried at least five different sleep positions that night, as we tried to make ourselves comfortable on the extremely soft and cozy but awkwardly shaped seats. The ability of the human body to doze off more easily in an uncomfortable lecture chair at 1:30 pm rather than a soft lounge chair at 11:00 pm astounds me.
Next time, I’m sleeping in the observation car.
At 7:15 am the next morning, we awoke to the melodious sounds of Jerry’s voice announcing that “breakfast is being served in the dining car and has been being served since 6:30 this morning.” [Translation: “Breakfast has been being served for over an hour. Get the h-ll into breakfast.”] After spending a few minutes gathering ourselves together and admiring the beautiful autumn Appalachian scenery, we obeyed Jerry’s commands and wandered through about four cars until we finally found the dining car. There, GM and I had a lovely breakfast with our new friends Jennifer and Katria. They were heading into D.C. for the dedication of the MLK memorial. I felt like I was in the middle of an Agatha Christie novel-there we were, eating potatoes, eggs, and buttered biscuits with jam, chatting it up with two delightful elderly women, who were full of the bustling energy of active minds and spirits. They spoke about their philanthropic works, about their sorority work, and about their university life. It was delightful-it was the camaraderie of travelling. Much to our delight, Jerry sat down for his breakfast at the table next to us, and we talked with him after our lady companions left. Although he’d only slept two hours, Jerry didn’t drink a single drop of coffee with his food. I was impressed. Although GM only drinks water, the other three breakfast-ers of us at the table had all downed cups of the awfully watery coffee. Jerry’s drug of choice was Diet Coke. “I know you’ve got a stash of it back there,” he warned us. We protested that we would never withhold diet coke from our friend Jerry. Never.
GM and I wandered downstairs to the lounge car, and met Mike the Snack Shop owner. Mike asked us why we were going to Washington, and we explained the purpose of the seminar. Mike told us the story of his best friend’s dad who died in a car accident. He was brought life by the EMTs not once, not twice, but five times. And after he was left paralyzed, the family decided to put him to death. After withdrawing medicine, then oxygen, they finally upped the morphine intake and then cut-off the nourishment supply. Mike said: “It makes my skin crawl just to think about it.” I was so humbled and honored that he shared his story with us-that he shared the story of his friend and his dad with us. It was incredible to hear from a man who is frightened by the choices that technology puts to us. That was horrified not only that his friend’s family starved his dad to death, but the medical staff did so after resuscitating him five times. He kept on saying: “It’s not natural.”
After having the “best conversation of the week” with Mike, we went upstairs and sat gaping at the breath-taking scenery of the moutains. Craggy rock fixtures, brilliant fall colors, rivulets and mini waterfalls falling through the rocks, and brilliant sunlight streaming through the clouds gave the whole trip and air of complete wonder. Jerry came back to visit the car of rowdy Golden Domers, and GM offered him a Twix from her private stash. Jerry scorned the chocolate, and we spent a good half and hour becoming best friends with Jerry. Success.
When we arrived in D.C., there was a whirlwind of activity as we hustled off the platform, into Union Station, out of Union Station, across capitol hill to our little bug-infested seminar building. There was a spider in the bathroom, a dead roach by the TV, and a cricket named Henry on the couch, but hey, it’s home. It’s a home that had to be stocked with groceries. After visiting an adorable green café/fro-yo shop, we all split up, and I ended up with the grocery-buying clan. You learn so much about people when you grocery-shop. Grocery shopping says so much about your background, where you come from, what you value, how you grew up, and your lifestyle. It’s a side of people you rarely get to see on a college campus. It was fantastic. I was sorely tempted to buy a big box of Uncrustables, but I resisted. I’d rather spend the money on more localvore fare like the SweetGreens restaurant.
Day One of a fantastic week down. 5 more to go!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
"...There are words which serve only to amuse, as fleeting as an empty breeze; others, to an extent, inform us; those of Jesus, on the other hand, must reach our hearts, take root and bloom there all our lives. If not, they remain empty and become ephemeral. They do not bring us to him and, as a result, Christ stays remote, just one voice among the many others around us which are so familiar.[...]
Use these days to know Christ better and to make sure that, rooted in him, your enthusiasm and happiness, your desire to go further, to reach the heights, even God himself, always hold a sure future, because the fullness of life has already been placed within you. Let that life grow with divine grace, generously and without half-measures, as you remain steadfast in your aim for holiness. And, in the face of our weaknesseswhich sometimes overwhelm us, we can rely on the mercy of the Lord who is always ready to help us again and who offers us pardon in the sacrament of Penance.[...]
Build your lives upon the firm foundation which is Christ. This wisdom and prudence will guide your steps, nothing will make you fear and peace will reign in your hearts. Then you will be blessed and happy and your happiness will influence others. They will wonder what the secret of your life is and they will discover that the rock which underpins the entire building and upon which rests your whole existence is the very person of Christ, your friend, brother and Lord, the Son of God incarnate, who gives meaning to all the universe..."
Read the full text of the beautiful homily here.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.