Walking the Way of Beauty: Speak lord, your servant listens


In this period I have recalled several times the need for every Christian, in the midst of the many occupations that fill our days, to find time for God and for prayer. The Lord himself gives us many opportunities to remember him. Today I would like to reflect briefly on one of these channels that can lead to God and can also be of help in the encounter with him. It is the way of artistic expression, part of that “via pulchritudinis” — the “way of beauty”, of which I have spoken several times and whose deepest meaning must be recovered by men and women today.” – Pope Benedict XVI (31, Aug. 2011)

Usually I change my blog design in the Spring, something new, fresh, etc. This time, I took it a step further and changed the name and design of my blog completely. Those who know me will tell you that I love beautiful things. I love art, music, architecture, liturgy, woodworking, flowers, etc. For me, beauty has always been a lens through which I am able to see God in my life. Whether it be through the beauty of human achievement and the powers of the mind and intellect or a walk through nature smelling the scent of fresh lawn clippings or feeling the warmth of the sun on my neck through my window as I drive down the road I always find myself smiling and saying: “Thanks, God!”

Beauty is a very prevalent part of what I would define as my spirituality, how I experience God in my life. As I continue through seminary I am constantly amazed at the ways in which God works through our lives. His plan which covers everything down to the most minute detail leaves me speechless at times. In the first reading from 1 Samuel we hear at Mass today of the way in which our Lord called Samuel and the somewhat lengthy way it took for him to finally realize who it was who was speaking to him. In Seminary we listen to his call, we try to interpret it, with the aid of our Spiritual directors, formators, brother seminarians, Bishops, etc. For me, beauty is a way in which I hear Christ speak and call me. It’s no mystery that one of the major factors that drew me to consider a vocation to the priesthood was my involvement with beautiful liturgies growing up. To take something created by God, sometimes imperfect-ed by our human hands, and offer it back up to him in thanksgiving, love, and worship has such a powerful influence on me.

Pope Benedict continuing his address discussing the “via pulchritudinis”  explains how “A work of art is a product of the creative capacity of the human being who in questioning visible reality, seeks to discover its deep meaning and to communicate it through the language of forms, colour and sound. Art is able to manifest and make visible the human need to surpass the visible, it expresses the thirst and the quest for the infinite.”

He goes on: “May the visits to places filled with art, then, not only be opportunities for cultural enrichment — that too — but may they become above all moments of grace, incentives to strengthen our bond and our dialogue with the Lord so that — in switching from simple external reality to the more profound reality it expresses — we may pause to contemplate the ray of beauty that strikes us to the quick, that almost “wounds” us, and that invites us to rise toward God.

I end with a prayer from a Psalm, Psalm 27[26]: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and contemplate his temple” (v. 4).

Let us hope that the Lord will help us to contemplate his beauty, both in nature and in works of art, so that we, moved by the light that shines from his face, may be a light for our neighbor.”

At the end of the Gospel today we hear: “Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.” May we be able to listen to our Lord’s call in our own lives, may we who discern his call to whatever vocation he asks respond with Mary’s humble “yes.” And may we who contemplate his temple see the beauty that exists in our world and walk this path, this way of beauty which leads us to him, to God, May the beauty that we create and experience always lead us closer to him, the source of beauty.

So this is the new design for my blog and hopefully more of the path in which I hope to take it. Let me know what you think. Pray for me and I will pray for you as we walk the way of beauty together.

Check out the above video for an excellent organ-based musical piece, from one of my favorite movies.

Water into Wine; a commentary on Christ’s first miracle


The following is the story of  The Wedding at Cana; found in: John 2:1-1. My commentary is amongst the text in red.

On the third day (Remember the third day when Christ rose from the grave and was revealed in his glory? Well, here is an example of how Scripture uses somewhat the same format and references things that have happened in the past or in the future. In this case, Christ is revealed in his first miracle) there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”(Mary, of course is being the good Jewish mother and knows that without wine, the celebrations cannot really continue.) [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? (Whoah! Did Jesus, just call his mother “woman”? Yes, I think that he did. Maybe next time, my mother tells me something I will, just say “Woman, how does your concern affect me?” and try to ward of a big smack that I deserved, by saying: “well if Jesus can do it, why can’t I?” Though, we have to remember that Jesus is now a grown man, who loves his mother very much, but is starting to recognize what his will is from God. So he basically tells her: “Mom, dad said not to do anything yet, because it’s not his will.”) My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” (Now, there’s a good Jewish mother for you. Sticking that motherly command right in there and saying: “Mister, if I say they are out of wine, you are going to do something about it. I’ll just let you deal with the servers and the ordeal” These five words are my favorite part of scripture, “Do whatever He tells you.” Such powerful words that our blessed mother gives us. She tells us exactly what we must do in order to enter Heaven, find God’s will for us in our life, and to be eternally happy. That is; to do whatever the Father wants us to, and to place ourselves in his hands. In a sense to humble ourselves to the will of one greater than us, so that we in turn might receive his peace.)Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim.Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”* So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

Imagine about how Christ’s first miracle was worked, because His mother told Him to. What type of humility would that take for Him? He had to submit Himself to the Fathers will, and humble himself to his simple human Mother’s will. He who was both God and Man (The Hypostatic Union) submitted Himself to a woman. What a sense of humility it must have taken for Him to do something like that. Now we, knowing the full power that Christ has given to his Mother, know that she can work wonderful things through His name. But, it is important for us to remember the “why” we ask her to. The fact that she commanded and he did it. This is why when we are in need of something we can always utter the name of Jesus and it will be done. But when we humble and lower ourselves and like Christ did, submit to his Mother and ask her to intercede for us we become like the sick child receiving medicine on a spoon from their mother. It is not only a humbling experience, but it also has a more direct route to Christ. Christ, obeys his Mother, just like good children do. So when we ask Mary to intercede for us, we are asking her, who is closest to Christ to beg for it for us from him.

Mary is such a great role model for each and everyone of us. There isn’t a day that goes by in which I don’t pray multiple Hail Mary’s or ask her to help me with something. When Christ gave her to us from the Cross. I try to take full advantage of that and ask for her help. Going through High School, I would say one Hail Mary between each class, others during class. And never once was I late, or didn’t have what I needed. She as always there; watching over and protecting me. Now as a seminarian I ask for her help each day, that I may do what needs to be done, that I might have the strength to carry on, that I might do whatever He tells me…

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.