Monday, September 24, 2012

What's Black and White and...

A Franciscan brother asked me, yesterday, quite casually "so, how long have you been associated with the Domincans?" We were drying some dishes together and puzzling out the various locations for spatulas and trays -- working in someone else's kitchen is definitely foreign country: everything has it's place but it's not where you would put it. And if you can't find where something belongs, you make a new home for it and hope that you've not just upset the kitchen's entire ecological system.

The question about Dominicans gave me a pause - but not because I think I have any calling to be a Dominican nun/sister. But I am always hovering around Dominicans and love many of them quite dearly.

I certainly miss those that I know from Rome. One Dominican priest gave chocolates out at our exams -- and, then, worried that the heat and the chocolate might make us uncomfortable, brought along a canteen of water so that we could wash it down. He would also make up prayers before each class such as "Dear Lord. Help us to know that you are not an abstract entity, but a real concrete Person who dearly loves us...Help us to grow in knowledge, and help us to know this. Amen."

In all, this is a beautiful approach to God. In the midst of study about abstract things - things furthest from the reaches of the sensible - there is the danger of getting lost and treating all things not-so-immediate as beings in the same category. And charity takes precedence over all!

So why not associate with Dominicans?

Holy association, after all, is quite important.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Super Good at Maths

This morning, Saturday, I rolled out of bed and stumbled in a daze off to the car and then to the market. Markets around here get nasty on Saturdays. Like so:

...In any case, I was picking up some cooking wine. Rather than going to two places, I decided to get the cheap wine where it was a little more expensive (but still cheap, relatively). "Hmm... $3.99? That's $1 more than the $2-chuck from [that other place]."  After I had purchased the wine, it occurred to me that my maths were not quite right.

In my defense, I had not had any breakfast, am in the grips of a horrible cold, and had been out drinking* the night before.

But this does not bode well for my math-GRE scores.

*1 whole beer! Plus a small cocktail, later. Over a 5 hour period. WHEW.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Aquinas on Little Old Women

Consider this dear brothers: there were many philosophers who spoke many things belonging to faith, and you will scarcely find two philosophers agreeing upon one opinion; and any one of them that did say something true, did not speak without an admixture of error. A little old woman now knows more about what belongs to faith than all the philosophers once knew. We read that Pythagoras began as a boxer; he heard his teacher discuss the immortality of the soul, asserting that the soul was immortal, and he was so enthralled that after having forsaken everything, he dedicated himself to the study of philosophy. But what little old woman is there today who does not know that the soul is immortal? Faith is capable of much more than philosophy, consequently if philosophy contradicts faith, it must not to be accepted, as the Apostle to the Colossians says: See to it that no one deceive you by philosophy and empty deceit. Let no one seduce you, willing, walking in the things which he has not seen, in vain puffed up by the sense of his flesh, not holding the head, that is Christ.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Tidbit

I had never heard of this before, but, apparently, Anthony of Padua's preaching was *so good* that St. Francis even miraculously popped by one time to hear him.


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Flowers and Booo-kays

On an errand for flowers, a huge homeless man asked me for some change and I indicated that I would have some on my way out.

On my way out, I did, indeed, give him some money and he was so delighted that, seeing my flowers, said enthusiastically: "I wish I could arrange a beautiful boo-kay for you that would last...A WEEK AND A HALF!" He then tried to help me with my groceries, but, there was only one bag so he gave up on that since there was no helping to be done.

But he did make sure that I was buckled up for safety (from a distance, as in "You buckled up? For safety? Good!"), and that everything was a-ok before giving a parting salute.

Remarking on his actions, he said "A gentleman and a scholar from the cap to the toe. Always a gentleman and a scholar."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Chesterton Conference in Reno

Eee. I'll be in Reno, next week. My objectives:

1. Eat lots of foie gras in Nevada since California has banned its sale.
2. Go to the 31st Annual G.K. Chesterton Conference.
3. Gamble.

Yes, I lead a life of dissipatio.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mumford and Sons Kick

The Earth is Full of the Goodness of the Lord

" abundantly clear that human beings do not will what a perfectly good God would will. Post-fall human beings have soaked the crust of the earth with the tears of those suffering from poverty, exploitation, degradation, war, and all the other horrendous evils human beings perpetrate on one another. It is a jarring understatement to say that our wills are not fixed on what is perfectly good.
   To the extent that they are not, however, our wills are alienated from God’s will, which is perfectly good. Unless this alienation can be overcome, we are at a distance from God. You cannot get personal relationship with another person just by being in the same place as that person. You need also to have some meeting of minds and hearts, and there cannot be any such harmony of wills between a perfectly good God and a person whose will is not fixed in righteousness."
-Eleonore Stump, Beauty as a Road to God
(Full ref: "Beauty as a Road to God", Sacred Music, Winter 2007 (134.4), pp. 11-24.)

The above reminded me of The Apology of Aristides, in which Aristides argued that the thesis 'the earth is a god' cannot be supported:

"Those then who believe concerning the earth that it is a god have hitherto deceived themselves, since it is furrowed and set with plants and trenched; and it takes in the filthy refuse of men and beasts and cattle. And at times it becomes unfruitful, for if it be burnt to ashes it becomes devoid of life, for nothing germinates from an earthen jar. And besides if water be collected upon it, it is dissolved together with its products. And it is trodden under foot of men and beast, and receives the bloodstains of the slain; and it is dug open, and filled with the dead, and becomes a tomb for corpses. But it is impossible that a nature, which is holy and worthy and blessed and immortal, should allow of anyone of these things. And hence it appears to us that the earth is not a god but a creation of God."

Thank God for the graces that allow us to surrender and unite our wills to His -- and thank God for filling the earth with His goodness! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Highest Good

It has been noted by people much smarter than I that Our Lady has a habit of appearing to children who are not always the most educated bunch. Perhaps she is following in the footsteps of her Son who revealed Himself to simple fishermen. Oscar Wilde says that no man grows up to be like his mother, but a mother can be like her son.

Knowledge is not necessarily something that deepens our relationship with God. There is a distinction between the powers of intellect and will. Knowing what is good does not entail willing the good that we know. Hence, we find the good man and the man of moral science: knowing does not a good man make.

"Will follows upon intellect" is a phrase common to Aquinas and he often repeats it (seeing as it has a double-implication for man-made-in-image-of-God)  -- but its significance escaped me for some time. But the idea behind it is rather simple: we must think something is good before we can pursue it. This means that there is (1) an object and (2) the subject and (3) the object affecting the subject and (4) the subject recognizing the object under the formal aspect of good and desiring it as such. Put in more basic terms: there is a lemonade stand down the street (the object). I (the subject) walk down the street one hot day and am parched from the heat and dust. I see the lemonade stand (the object affecting my sensory powers), and think "gosh, some lemonade would quench my thirst!" (the subject recognizes the good of the lemonade).

But what happens if I don't want what is good but what is EVIL? You see, I slipped The Good into the operations of will and intellect, saying that we must will something under the 'formal aspect of the good.' Aquinas states that this is because the will is the appetite for the good: the function of the will is to desire what appears to it as good (loosely speaking).

And we must have a reason for willing one thing more than another - and we will one thing rather than an other because we have weighed the options and judge one option to be better than the alternative in some respect, even if we are mistaken that x is better than y: we make a valuation.

And sometimes - often - our valuations are wrong. Ever hear of beer goggles? Well there are moral beer goggles as well. Yeah. Uh huh. So stay away from attachments to sin and bad habits!

But then there are also those who see the good, judge that the good should be done, but don't do it. St. Paul laments: "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do..." (Romans 7:19) It is God
who grants us the grace to effect the good - to be good - and Aquinas, rather bluntly, says: "It should be said that since there is no merit without charity, the act of acquired virtue cannot be meritorious without charity." (De Virtutibus 1.10, ad 4) Charity, being one of the theological virtues, is a gift. And it is the three theological virtues, poured into our souls, which enable us to not only do the good because but to know the true good as well. Wait. What? THAT'S RIGHT.

Structurally, we are created for a happiness that is beyond our nature: God wants that we should become like Him. Due to original sin, the power of the intellect was darkened and we no longer possess the ability to see and know God as the true good and, so, we can't act according to such knowledge unless we have the theological virtues infused into our souls. Faith allows us to know God as our highest good.

So, you see, knowledge does not a good man make -- but knowledge of God as the true good is necessary for salvation. And now, it is time for dinner. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Come On, Baby, Light My Fire

"This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made. But it always was, is, and will be: an ever-living Fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out... Fire in its advance will judge and convict all things. " -Heraclitus

I find it interesting that God speaks to Moses from the form of a burning bush. And God comes to bring fire to the world. 

Coincidence? I THINK NOT! 

Monday, June 25, 2012


Annnnnnnnnnnd. Licensed to philosophize! Graduated with a 9.33/10 - magna cum laude.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Happy Feast of St. Anthony of Padua!

It is the feast of the inspiration of my blog. Did you know that St. Francis wrote a letter to TonyP?

It said:
I Brother Francis send wishes of health to Brother Anthony, my bishop. It pleases me that you teach sacred theology to the brothers, as long as in the words of the Rule you "do not extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion" with study of this kind.
Teach and preach in the Spirit, baby.

Speaking of priest-y things, I ran into a priest-friend of mine: 
Priest: DEIRDRE! Have you eaten!?!?
Me: No, no. But I will eat.
Priest: Deirdre, you must eat!!! 
Me: I will eat at 1. I'm meeting someone for lunch.
Priest: Perhaps, I can bring you a little something from our (religious community's) lunch?!?!
Me: I'll eat! Really! I will! 
Priest: *eyes me skeptically* 
*starts walking away* 
*little old lady starts running after him to ask him a question* 
*priest proceeds to make fun of old lady's run by imitating it* 
*old lady has to stop running because she is laughing too hard* 

Friday, June 08, 2012

Pretty Much How I Feel

Comprehensive exams for the philosophy Licentiate, next week!

7 days, 5 hours, and 10 minutes until I'm done.

--- edit/update/change ---

I just ran a calculation (based on word-count) and found that, in the past week, I have written up approximately 120 pages, double-spaced, of practice essays, study summaries, and...even...a glossary of Greek, Latin, and English terms and their various connotations. MOAR STUDAYING!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere...

Some there are who forsaking virtue, and ignorant of what God is, and of the majesty of that nature which ever remains the same, imagine they are doing something great, if with surpassing curiosity and keenness they explore the whole mass of this body which we call the world. So great a pride is thus begotten, that one would think they dwelt in the very heavens about which they argue.
Augustine, De Morib. Eccl. 21

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
Psalm 25: 4-5

The Garden of Your Mind

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Aesthetics, AMV

When I get overwhelmed, I tend to watch anime music videos. This leads to just one thing: sketches. Q.E.D.

Anime music videos are like my kryptonite: on the surface, I am strong, muscular, and wear red boots. But put me in front of a green lump of matter from another planet and... Actually, I'm not really sure this can go anywhere.

I enjoy a proper sense of timing and drama. There is something very satisfying, both in dancing, singing, and the matching of movement to music via a visual medium, that is infinitely good. When you hit the right note, when you get the emphasis just so there is not-quite-a-smug-knowledge of the actuality that something - something - is exactly as it is supposed to be. True, it is a fleeting feeling, but it is a note of harmony struck in the universe. Sometimes, such notes can seem quite subjective. We do not always see the beauty and the horror, the power and the glory. In our limited capacities, influenced by moods, passions, and what we had for dinner the evening prior, we are more or less receptive to beauty, to pathos. And, yes, being susceptible or receptive to things means that you also risk making yourself ridiculous because you do not simply take what is presented by the exterior, to the non-judging and rude eye, but gather in the intentions of the people surrounding it whatever "it" is, mood, etc.: we can legitimately be attracted to something ridiculous and draw nourishment from it, provided that the work is purified (so to speak) by the intentions and orientation of the will of the creator. Come to think of it, many of the saints were simply ridiculous. I mean, riding across a lake on a sturgeon!?

Point is: sometimes we are moved by music, by a combination of music and images, by sights and sounds, by what is beautiful - but that not everyone can see what we see in something and that's ok to a certain extent (qualifier alert! Only to a certain extent. We may simply be stupid and not see that something is unfitting/unworthy/ugly.). I do not believe that beauty will save the world - but I do believe that God will save the world and uses the transcendental of beauty to attract people to Himself. The Greeks, in fact, tied the notion of beauty (to kalon) to the notion of correct moral act: and an act that is in accord with reason, that truly leads us to our final end, is a beautiful act because it is clothed in grace, in the charity of God, and is perfectly ordered, balanced, right. Acts that unite us to God are like this "ooooooh yeah....harmony" feeling  - though we are not always conscious of them.

Turning to aesthetic beauty, what we think is beautiful sometimes turns out to not be so beautiful. Our tastes mature. The image of Christ beaten and crucified is dearer and more beautiful than the aggregation of the works of the masters and replaces our earlier understandings of Christ as fair-haired and soulful looking and - ultimately - superficial figure. Which is not necessarily to denigrate the utility of the lower - it *can* (operational word being *can*) lead to the higher and God uses paths and ways that we cannot even begin to imagine in order to draw all things to Himself. The aesthetic order, in other words, can lead us to ontological realities, according to our mode of reception, the intentions of the creator of some work, and so on. But a caveat: I think that the intention of the creator finds its way into the work. So if the intention or the will of the creator is bad then it leaves some taint on their creation.

And it is still possible to say that things are more revelatory of being than others. In fact, we must say that some things are better than others, and that some things simply reveal more of God than others and that we must become accustomed to knowing, wanting, and choosing what participates more in goodness and beauty than their lesser counterparts. Why have a hot dog when you could have... a hot dog with...ketchup? 

This preamble is all to justify the fact that...I watch amvs:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius

At Mass tonight, there was an odd translation of the following lines from Adoro Te Devote:

Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur.
Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius;
Nil hoc verbo veritátis verius.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

It's not an accurate translation, perhaps, but it does express the profound - if there is no truth in what Christ says and offers (Himself), then there is nothing true nor can the possibility of truth even exist. Or, to put it less strongly but equally persuasively, there is little worth believing. 

Such is an attraction of Catholicism for me: it is worth believing. But I want to believe. I do not want to believe that man is fundamentally opposed to his brother and the world, solitary, and angry. I do not want to believe that we cannot know the truth of things. I do not want to believe that, ultimately, whether we kick or kiss someone amounts to much the same thing.

It is only through Christ that the world acquires meaning and redemption.

Also, this is pretty much my approach to cooking:

Monday, May 28, 2012


I often feel like the bug. BUT SOMETIMES I AM JAKE THE DOG! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pour fourth Thy Spirit and they shall be created - and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

It is difficult to trust in God. The final end, the finish line, the promised land seems so ungraspable; the world so full of pain and yearning, uncertainties, disappointments. God, infinitely knowable in Himself, is nonetheless, in His essence, mysterious and our senses and intellect cannot penetrate the Godhead. Even when He reaches to touch us through the sacrifice of the Son, we cannot satisfy ourselves as we do with empirical evidence, or with anything like a empirically derived science. We can never say "Lo! Look! Behold! How can you not see? How can you not know? It is evident!"

Aquinas describes us as being like owls in the light of the sun - we do not see because of our mode of understanding is so limited. Yet, it IS there, and the eagle (our glorified selves?) sees.

Yet, by the influx of the Holy Spirit, pouring the graces of faith, hope, and love into our soul, elevating, alerting, and awakening us to deeper realities, we can affirm that God is: we are not abandoned. God dwells in us intimately, sustains, encourages, and gives reason to all that we encounter, suffer, or find true, good, and beautiful.

Looked at from a naturally human perspective, the world is without sense, inchoate, and full of pain. The most we can hope for is a life of sensory satisfaction.

Looked at from the perspective of the Divine, in Whose mind all things pre-exist and Who yearns for us as we for Him, everything is terribly, frighteningly, comfortingly significant. The world no longer assumes a nightmareish aspect - it is tinted with purpose, filled with love, and permeated by the Spirit of God, inviting us to dwell in Him as He desires to dwell in us.

God invites, and sends us a Comforter. We are not alone.