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I was born, I'm currently living, and will eventually die. After that I face my judgment, and we'll talk then.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cardinals, Congregations, and Pontifical Councils

Recently, the Holy Father elevated several men to the rank of Cardinal. This is a privilege and a great responsibility, for being incardinated isn’t just a symbol of honor in the Church. The Cardinal helps lead the Church by advising the pope and electing the papal successor. The selection of cardinals reflects several aspects of a pope. The pope might select one man in tribute to his long devotion to the Church. He might select another because of his specialty in some area of concern for the pope. He might select another because the cardinal-designate is young, his beliefs more in line with the current pope’s beliefs, an advantage if the pope hopes to retain his policies in the Church after his death.

Confused yet? Don’t worry, it was much worse when six-year olds were awarded the red hat. But that’s a history lecture for another day.

Anyway, the new Cardinals named on November 20th have been assigned their membership in different Roman dicasteries (Congregations, Pontifical Councils, etc). Being as that only two of the cardinals are Americans, I will focus on their memberships, rather than examining the importance of all the other cardinals (though I’m sure many of them are important). I’ve met both of them at some point. Wuerl is the Archbishop of the Washington Archdiocese, where I live, and Burke visited and received an honorary doctorate from Christendom College, where I went to school, during the College’s 30th Anniversary celebrations (it was my senior year; I served Mass with Burke). So I have a special connection to both Cardinals, and it is with honor that I present their assignments.

Cardinal Wuerl is now a member of the Congregation for the Clergy and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. This makes a lot of sense, since he is the "go-to" guy for American Anglicans wishing unity with the Church, which is linked with Christian Unity. Likewise, as a member of the Congregation for the Clergy, Wuerl will be involved in educating and forming new priests, a cause that has always been close to his heart (he recently announced a new seminary in the Archdiocese of Washington). Education is a big part of Wuerl’s life, which I’m sure played a part in his assignment to the Council for Christian Unity as well, since sound faith education is key when unifying the Church with our separated brothers and sisters.

Cardinal Burke is now a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, the Congregation for Bishops, and the Pontifical Council for Interpreting Legislative Texts. This is exciting news for those of us with an even slight traditional bend in our liturgical and theological beliefs. Burke has long been a champion of the “Reform of the Reform” endorsed and really driven by Pope Benedict XVI both before and after his elevation to the papacy. As such, his inclusion in the Congregation whose SOLE PURPOSE is the worship of the Church is a welcome one. As a member of the Congregation for Bishops, Burke will have a say in future episcopal appointments. This is key, since the bishops of tomorrow affect the direction in which the Church turns. Burke’s appointment to the Council for Interpreting Legislative Texts goes almost without saying, since he is also Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, making him the highest Canon Law judge after the Pope. Since Legislative Texts are works of Canon Law, Burke rightly belongs as a member of that Council.

We, as faithful Catholics, should pray for our new Cardinals as they step into these new roles, praying that they might stay strong and not abandon their new responsibilities.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Beliefs of An Adventist Part 1

There are many Protestant groups throughout the United States and the world. One of the relatively unknown sects is the Seventh-Day Adventists. This is a shame, as it is growing in popularity and number (in 2007 it was ranked as the 12th largest religious group in the world with nearly 17 million members). Broken off from an end-of-the-world Christian group, whose prediction of an apocalypse in 1844 proved wrong, the group can claim 1863 as its year of foundation. Their original members included former members of other Protestant communities, leading to a variety of beliefs in the community’s early years. Eventually the leaders of the movement ironed out these doctrinal disagreements, and the Seventh-Day Adventists eventually received official recognition as a Protestant Church in middle of the 20th Century. Their beliefs were set down in 1980 in what is known as the 28 Fundamental Beliefs (it was originally 27, but a 28th belief was added in 1995).

Now what sparked this sudden interest in a growing yet relatively obscure Protestant group? Two students of mine, actually. They are sisters, one in 6th and one in 7th grade. The 6th grader, since I have her for Religion as well as Social Studies, frequently brings up what her Grandfather tells her, especially when what her grandfather tells her contradict what I am telling her. Who would have thought that my grade school students, not their parents or even high school students, would test my apologetic training? The source of apologetic discussion was the 6th grade sister, and I have had to approach her questions without properly knowing her own spiritual background.

I am working on learning that now.

It is with this student’s permission that I was graciously aloud to borrow a copy of the Seventh-Day Adventist equivalent to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is entitled, appropriately enough, Seventh-Day Adventists Believe: A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines. Written/Edited by the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, the book presents an in-depth examination of the different beliefs held by the Adventists. It is a must have for any who wish to examine and critique the Adventists’ point of view, as I seek to do in this series of blog posts. I hope to be fair, but firm, in my examination. It is my hope that, maybe, somehow, someone will get some use out of the series, and thus some souls might be brought to Christ.

I should note, at the onset, that Adventists don’t follow the Apostle’s Creed, as such; rather they “accept the Bible as their only creed and hold certain fundamental beliefs to be the teaching of the Holy Scriptures.” Therefore, it is a relief that they decided to lay out their fundamental beliefs in such a way. There is no recitation of these beliefs, as there is of the Catholic beliefs at Sunday Mass. As one goes through the beliefs, one notices that most are the same to other Protestant faiths, though there are some key differences.

Hopefully all will become clearer once this series is through. Hopefully, though I make no promises. . . .

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Advent and Christmas poems

Throughout Advent, I have been writing little poems to put in my Facebook statuses. It was fun and a good excuse to work on my poetic moves.

I've decided to post the poems here, starting with the earliest and concluding with the last, which was written in honor of Christmas. I have read over them and tweeked them a little from the originals on Facebook.

I hope you enjoy them.


“Preparing the Magi”

In silence I wait for Him,

trembling I search Him out.

Where will he be, I ask

my peers, who shout aloud

"Behold he comes!"

Seers seem so silly sometimes.


The angel told me patience,

and so I wait.

Moving slowly

from state to state

If God has come

to my own home

How will I greet Him?

With love full grown.

“The Annunciation”

Few would heed an angel's coming,

fearful of unwanted storming,

unpleasant pains, unwanted unrest,

when angels come with God's request.

Yet here she stood, most pure in thought,

and gave the word, her holy fiat.

“Ecce Leo Dei”

There is a hint of something coming

slowly, surely, but it is coming.

Can't you hear it, breathing strongly

a lion roaring, barely sleeping,

waiting, hoping to start leaping,

He is hunting, waiting, watching.

Deep in Judah there is a lion,

not tamed, but angry, vicious, and wild.

He stalks his prey, an impure child,

that runs rampant through defiled Zion.

He wants to feed on those converted,

but cannot if they aren’t herded.

”Beware,” the serpent's whisper still,

"Avoid the lion; liberty He'll kill."

Then the serpent ran away,

fearful of that dreadful day,

the lion's birthday come at last,

a living breath from God full blast.

"Ecce Advenit"

Who would listen to what we said,

an echoed voice from prophets dead,

He comes, He comes,

From Heaven to Earth

He comes, He comes.

the Way of New Birth.

Come Sinner! Come Saint,

Bathe in the glory.

A beautiful portrait His life will paint,

His Gospel, His story.

“To my Lady, Mary”

Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.

Hail my Queen.

Hail my Lady.

Hail my Hope.

Hail, Hail, Hail, O Mary

Full of His Life, Beautiful Rose

Purest one.

Stainless, Purest One.

Flawless Jewel, Shining Gold

Hail My Lady!

Sweet Perfection.


Rejoice o daughter, your Lord comes soon.

Beware, o evil, the coming monsoon.

A King is coming, not one to boast,

though he’ll expel thee, Satan's host.

Rejoice again, throughout the land,

Feel not far from God's own hand.

Hear now his voice, feel now his trust.

Let not your swords then turn to rust,

for a fight is coming, a war appears,

when even just deaths will cause hot tears,

when young and old die in battle fray,

And peace and calmness away do stray.

But Rejoice, again, for he that brings war,

Brings too hope and love and peace evermore.

“Silent Night”

You can feel the hush as the chill surrounds you.

It’s like dying.

Something died tonight: a growl was heard,

Echoing through the dead lands.

The war is reaching its climactic finally,

Rally, Rally, Rally the troops.


Behold, he is here.

Venite! Come, let us go to Him!

The only sound is our footsteps,

Winding towards the simple castle.

No guard guards, nor archer watches.

We enter in unharmed.

Draw breath and enter,

Cast the chill away.

Feel warmth, feel strength,

As Daylight shines at night.


Bow down, man, bow down.

Do you not see the infant king?

His eyes are deep, his manner meek.

His servants moo and even bleat.

Inhale the incense of his new abode,

The sweet smell of His own creatures.

Venite Adoremus!

Bow before Him, the KING of the world.

No ordinary king, to be sure,

But the King of Kings, the great High Priest,

A hero divine, a prince of peace.

Tremble before him, and know his mercy.

He takes away our sins. He breaths in us new life.

But not yet.

For now He sleeps.

He has years to save us,

Any moment he could do it.

But he will do it when he wills,

And not a moment sooner

Nor later.

Who do we tell of the glories of God?

Our neighbors? Our masters?

We tell our friends, who tell theirs too.

We are ready, for He comes, He comes,

Behold He comes.

Ecce Advenit!

We must tell someone.

And in the silence of the night,

The calm remains unbroken.

The still and silence breathes new life

Into the wayward world.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

upcoming posts

Before the year is out, I will post several new posts on the blog. One will involve something involving what I got for Christmas (maybe). Another will be the start of a series of articles examining the doctrinal differences between the Seventh-Day Adventists and Catholics (inspired by discussions with one of my students who is Seventh-Day Adventist, who let me borrow her family's book about the religion).

Also, I will post some of the essays from the exams for the class I recently completed (HIST 610).

For how, I will post a website that will be permanently linked on the sidebar of this blog. The Rambler, the student newspaper for the College, has put up a new website. The Rambler recently won an award for its layout editing. The award was from the Collegiate Network, a nationwide group of college student newspapers; the small Catholic college newspaper beat out newspapers from all over the country. If you like what you see, please donate to the newspaper, or maybe even order a subscription of the paper.

Until I post again, enjoy!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Vote for the CINO Award

Have you ever noticed that whenever someone says "Not to be mean. . . ," the next words out of their mouth will be offensive.

Not to be mean. . . . YOU should totally go vote for your choice for the CINO (Catholic in Name Only) this year. There's some good choices this year.

I won't tell you for whom I voted.

Go here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Book List post thing

I got this list through Facebook. Several of my friends have done it, so I’m gonna give it a go, so to speak. I find it annoying that they list a complete work collection, as well as an individual work (see the Shakespeare plays, or the Chronicles of Narnia). You think that they could come up with more books to fill in the gaps. Stupid BBC.

I’ve included my comments in RED.

I’m also adding something not there before. If I underline the book, that means I read it for school, any age.

The Rules

  • Copy this into your NOTES.
  • Bold those books you've read in their entirety.
  • Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read only an excerpt.
  • Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!
  • The BBC says that most people average about 6 of the following, -- Let's see how well I do!

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen [Who knows. Maybe one day I’ll give in to the girl pressure and read it.]

2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling [one day]

5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee [great book]

6. The Bible [I’ve decided I’m gonna try reading the whole thing this coming year. . . ]

7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell [One day. . . ]

9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens [the whole middle of my high school freshman ENGL textbook was this novel]

11. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare [One day, when I have money and time]

15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien [YAY]

17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk

18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger [Awkward. . . ]

19. The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch - George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald [YAY]

23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh [Top 3 favorite books]

27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky [Also in the Top 3 Favorite list]

28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll [My copy is currently in the possession of one of my students]

30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33. Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis [DOUBLE YAY!!!]

34. Emma -Jane Austen [yeah yeah, I read the girly book]

35. Persuasion - Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis [Actually, I don’t think this was my favorite of the series. I think my favorite was. . . oh well, anyway]

37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne

41. Animal Farm - George Orwell [One Day. . . ]

42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50. Atonement - Ian McEwan [Sexy. . . ?]

51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52. Dune - Frank Herbert

53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley [fun times]

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville [I read about ½ of it when I was in grade school]

71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72. Dracula - Bram Stoker

73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses - James Joyce

76. The Inferno - Dante [I did actually read the whole thing, at one point]

77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal - Emile Zola

79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession - AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87. Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White [Classic]

88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad [The horror. . . Well, it wasn’t that bad]

92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery [In a religion class, no less]

93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94. Watership Down - Richard Adams [Again, one of my students has my copy]

95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98. Hamlet - William Shaskespeare [The play’s the thing in which I’ll catch the conscience of the king]

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A post about "The Doer of Good"

Being as its been 2 months since I last post, I figured you need an explanation. Well, lets put it this way: I'VE BEEN BUSY! Get off my back!

Ok, well, nobody's been on my back.

Regardless, I feel as though I need to post something, so in light of not having anything else complete right now, feel free to read my paper for the Irish Literature/"Theological Applications in Irish Literature" course I took this summer in conjunction with my trip to Ireland. It is about "The Doer of Good" by Oscar Wilde. Enjoy!


Throughout his literary works, Oscar Wilde returns repeatedly to the theme of self-gift. He often includes characters who give of themselves for the sake of others. In this way, these characters are types of Christ, giving great gifts of life and love to a frequently ungracious soul. Though there are many Wilde stories that show this allegorical symbolism, one exemplifies the spiritual ramifications of such self-gifts, namely Wilde’s “Poem in Prose” entitled “The Doer of Good,” which depicts Christ’s encounter with some ungracious recipients of his love. It is a symbolism found in other Wilde stories, such as “The Nightingale and the Rose” and “The Birthday of the Infanta,” though it is in “The Doer of Good” that one sees the gifts so frequently rejected. Wilde’s purpose in this story clear: by rejecting the gifts of Christ, we are rejecting Christ as well.

“The Doer of Good” opens with a single sentence, one that introduces the rejection addressed in the rest of the story: “It was night-time and He was alone.”[1] The immediate image is depressing. The narrator never names the ambiguous “He” is in the story, though he must be used to companionship, for the narrator stresses that “He was alone,” as if this was abnormal. Likewise the narrator mentions, “It was night-time,” calling to mind an absence of daylight, another abnormality. Why is He alone at night? Where are his friends? The story does not say, though a closer examination of the He character might illuminate the problem.

It becomes clear early on in the story that the “He” is none other than Jesus Christ. On the one hand, Wilde capitalizes the “H” in “He,” giving right honor to Christ. His identity becomes clearer as He meets different people who have received gratuity from Him in the past, all of whom He had in some way healed. If one reads the story with Christ replacing the pronoun “He,” the question of why He is alone makes sense. Christ frequently withdrew from the crowd to pray and meditate. It is possible that this story, set at night, follows one of these personal retreats. This would explain why “He was alone.” One can find support for such a claim in the story’s next sentence, which reads, “And He saw afar-off the walls of a round city and went towards the city” (Wilde, 244). Christ is away from the city, possibly approaching after a day of meditation and prayer.

Since “He” is Christ, the clause “and it was night” takes on a new sense of symbolism. Perusing the Bible reveals several appropriate passages dealing with God’s light conquering the darkest night. In Isaiah 9:2, for example, the prophet notes famously, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” The Gospel writers filled their works with references to Christ as light. This is clearest in the Gospel According to John, where Christ refers to Himself frequently as “light.” For example, Jesus speaks of the dichotomy between the light and the darkness with Nichodemus:

And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. (John 3:19–21)

Later on in that same Gospel, Jesus states how He is “the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). He even compares his presence and absence from Earth to daylight and night respectively: “We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:4–5). Without Christ, then, nighttime drowns the world in darkness. Night becomes a time away from Christ, a time away from the light of God’s love and redemption, even a time of loneliness. Christ is ordinarily the remedy for such dark loneliness, but in “The Doer of Good,” Christ walks the dark night alone. Along his walk, He encounters the signs of a darkness even his presence cannot disperse.

He first meets a young man living in a luxurious palace. Wilde, with his usual detailed descriptiveness, describes the young man’s palace: “And He beheld a house that was of marble and had fair pillars of marble before it. The pillars were hung with garlands, and within and without there were torches of cedar.” The house is beautiful to the point of extravagance, an abuse against which Christ had preached frequently (see, for example, Luke 16:19–31). Now he enters a house overflowing with such excesses; the reader can almost picture a wave of despair washing over His face. His despair grows as he approaches the young host of the party, wallowing in the extravagance:

And when He had passed through the hall of chalcedony and the hall of jasper, and reached the long hall of feasting, He saw lying on a couch of sea-purple one whose hair was crowned with red roses and whose lips were red with wine.

And he went behind him and touched him on the shoulder and said to him, ‘Why do you live like this?’

The reader can almost hear the sorrow in His voice as he speaks, a sacrificial heart reaching out to one who needs such a gift.

The next line reveals that He has given the young man a gift, one of a new life: “And the young man turned round and recognized Him, and made answer and said, ‘But I was a leper once and you healed me. How else should I live’” (244)? The young man is one of the former lepers Christ healed in his public ministry. It could be the leper healed on his way to Capernaum:

And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’ And he stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.’ (Matthew 8:2–5; see also Mark 1:40–45)

Perhaps it was Simon the leper, in whose house a woman entered and anointed Christ’s head (Matt. 20:7, Mark 14:3). Luke 7:36–50 mentions that Simon is a Pharisee, and therefore a high profile man in Jewish circles. If he is the same Simon as Simon the leper, then this Simon is the bad host that did not show Christ the basic hospitality of the time. It may be that the leper in “The Doer of Good” is Simon, here continuing his bad habit of missing the greatest of gifts. Another possibility is that the young man is one of the ten lepers Christ healed on the way to Jerusalem (Luke 17:12–19). It may even be the Samaritan, the only grateful one of the ten. If that is the case, then the young man not only rejects Christ’s gift, but he is aware of how great the gift is. Regardless of which man the story depicts, he should know the goodness of God, and yet he persists in his excessive lifestyle.

Christ moves on from the ungrateful man. He encounters in the city a young painted woman of the night. Behind her is another young man, different from the one of monetary excess, obsessed with a different kind of excess. This young man lusts after the girl, who likewise encourages his bad behavior with her sensual walk and alluring dress. Wilde also uses religious language to describe the two: “Now the face of the woman was as the fair face of an idol, and the eyes of the young man were bright with lust” (244). The young man stares in lust; Christ’s condemnation of such behavior rings hollow in his ear: “But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). He is an adulterer, though he does not care. His passions so consume the young man that he worships the object of his desire, namely the girl, rather than God, the true object of worship. Lust is his only care, his perverted rite of worship.

Seeing such abhorred behavior, He intervenes. As with the former leper, this young man also recognizes Him, for Christ healed this young man as well. He was once blind, and like the young man before, he abuses the gift given to him by Christ. The biblical origin for this young man could be any one of the many blind men healed by Christ in his ministry, but it is most likely the man born blind in John 9, as it is perhaps the most famous example of a man born blind. As with the former leper, the former blind man has wasted his divine cure. “At what else should I look” (245), he asks, finding nothing more appealing than the sensual female form. He ignores the beauty in front of him, the glory of Christ there present. He received physical sight from Christ, but by turning away from Him, the young man becomes blind to God’s grace.

Jesus turns to the seductive woman, asking “Is there no other way in which to walk save the way of sin” (245)? As before, the woman turns and recognizes Him. Unlike the two young men, however, the woman laughs. “But you forgave me my sins, and the way is a pleasant way,” she replies (245). Again, there are several possible sources for the woman mentioned here. It could be the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1–11) or perhaps the woman who bathed the Lord’s feet with her tears (Matt. 20:7, Mark 14:3; Luke 7:36–50). If it is the second woman, the one who washed Christ’s feet with her tears, then the young man who was a leper might indeed be Simon, for it was in his house that the woman performed her original acts of kindness. Again, the complete rejection Christ’s gift leads to a turn towards sin and destruction. There is little meaning in the life of the woman, as there is little meaning in the life of the two young men, for they have abandoned the one who is Life, killing themselves spiritually.

In the woman, there a new stage of spiritual abandonment. She laughs at Christ, as if His shock is unexpected. It is only natural, she must think, to return to such a life, for Christ forgave her. In responding as she does, the woman represents the presumptuous people who believe that salvation is assured after their initial conversion. The two young men mentioned already in the follow this view as well, but only the woman expresses it. Nothing one does can remove the saving imprimatur. One need not live as Christ lived, or even follow his basic teachings. The initial baptism, or even a mere assent of faith, is all that one needs for salvation. How wrong these people are. How distressing is their situation. Christ cannot heal or forgive an unwelcoming host. He cannot give his gifts to those who do not want them.

With sadness, He leaves the city. The Gospels record another time where Christ left a city after facing the unwelcome reception of its people. In that passage, Christ rejects the suggestion of John and James to call down fire from heaven and destroy the city (Luke 9:52–56). In a later passage, Christ notes that it will be better for the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre and Sidon, than for a town which rejects Him (Luke 10:13–16). This town, likewise, has rejected Him, and He will hold the town accountable at the Judgment.

Outside the city, He finds the opposite end of the faithful spectrum. Outside is a young man weeping. As with the other three individuals, Christ approaches the young man tenderly. “Why are you weeping,” Christ asks (245). Like the others, this young man looks into the face of Christ and recognizes Him. It is with great sadness that one reads the last line of the story: “but I was dead once and you raised me from the dead. What else should I do but weep?” We know exactly which young man this is. Assuming that Wilde is referencing stories from Scripture, it must be the young man raised from the dead in Luke 7:12–15. The only other two notable instances of Christ raising the dead are a young woman (Matt. 9:18–26) and Lazarus, who was older (John 11). It seems that the young man, like the three before, has received a life changing gift from Christ. Unfortunately, he does not appreciate it.

The young man suffers from despair. If in the city the presumption of the people leads to their rejection of Christ, then outside the city this young man’s despair likewise leads to a rejection of Christ. Neither the young man at the beginning of the story nor the young man at the end has a properly ordered understanding of Christ’s mission for us. The first three sinners fall in one direction, assuming their salvation is guaranteed while they live lives of sin; this last sinner falls in the other direction, presuming there is no hope for himself or for others. All are sinners, but in a way, this last one is particularly upsetting, for by despairing and claiming that there is no hope, that there is no joy in this world, he also rejects heaven. If there is no good in this life, a prefigurement of the life to come, then the life to come must likewise lack goodness. Even if he weeps because he was so close to the glories of Heaven but was taken back to Earth, a resolute soul would see this gift of life as a chance to better himself, to be ever more ready for the eternal glories of the next life. This young man does not see the gift this way. He instead rejects the gift as a curse and weeps, as if weeping was the only way to live. In rejecting his gift, he is also guilty of rejecting Christ.

All four people met in this story share a common rejection of gifts. The first three reject their gifts of a new life by reveling in the excesses of the world, abusing the gift and rejecting the gift-giver, who is Christ. The last young man, rejects his gift of a new life by rejecting life itself, and likewise rejecting Christ. These four in a sense represent the entire human race, to whom Christ gives immense gifts of life. How often, then, do we reject these abundant gifts, and by doing so reject Christ? Though not a work of spirituality in the strict sense, Christians everywhere can draw spiritual water from “The Doer of Good” and meditate on their own acceptance of the Divine Will. The world needs to draw closer to Christ from whom all good gifts flow, so we might not end up like the sinners in this story, living lives without Christ.

[1]Oscar Wilde, “The Doer of Good” in Ian Small, ed. Complete Short Fiction (New York: Penguin Books, 2003), 244. All subsequent references to “The Doer of Good” are from this edition and are henceforth cited parenthetically in the text as follows: (244).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine Years Ago

Nine years ago, I was a Sophomore in High School. I went to a Catholic High School located just outside Washington DC in Virginia. Nine years ago today, I was sitting in class, Religion class, if I remember correctly. During Second Period, someone from the office came over the loud speaker and said, in a very serious voice, that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. That was all they told us.

Oh. I thought. That's sad for that pilot, thinking they were referring to a small personal craft. Why are they announcing it? Was it someone related in some way to the school? We said a prayer, but I at least wasn’t really sure what was happening.

Now even though it has only been a short time since then, everything about that day is a blur. The events from that second period to the end of the day are mixed up and unclear. But I’ll try and remember.

By Third Period we had confirmation that it was an airliner, and that there were two now. By 4th Period we were watching the news, catching a glimpse of endless smoke pouring out of the buildings. Ever so often, a child was called to go home. One by one, the classes dwindled. Schoolwork? Some of the teachers thought about it, but gave in, and turned on the TVs. We soon heard about the Pentagon, since we were so close to it. We sat in class and watched the screen. Down the first tower fell. Down it went, as if it were nothing more than a stack of cards.

Through all of this, I only had a vague understanding of what was happening. I couldn’t shake Pearl Harbor out of my mind. I knew how my grandparents felt. I knew what it was like to witness an attack on America happen, to experience the unsure horror of it all. I remained at school the entire day. Once I got home, I hugged my mom. The news was on the rest of the day. We heard Bush address the nation, and hoped that everything would be better soon.

And here we are today. My generation has been defined by that day. The so-called “Millennium Generation,” also called “Generation Y,” include all those who were born between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1990s, old enough to witness the 9/11 attacks first hand. That is our legacy. I am defined by that day of horror. And it is true. Look at the world around us, look at popular culture, of the political sphere, of recent American history, of religion and ecumenism, of international relations. The events of 9/11 have scared these realms. No where is safe. Men have made careers based on the events which unfolded that day. I’m not referring to military members, although anyone in the military between 9/11/2001 in some way owes their career to the attacks, and subsequent military force.

Look at the world of Pop Culture. Michael Moore, director of quite possibly the most influential documentary in recent years, 2002’s Bowling for Columbine, has revitalized his career as a result of the 9/11 attacks. Bowling for Columbine, although it only mentions the attacks briefly, connects the violence that day with the violence in this country’s recent history. Moore’s follow up film, Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), focuses on the controversy (“Controversy. . . What Controversy?”) surrounding the attacks and the subsequent invasion of Iraq, particularly by connecting President Bush’s family and Osama bin Laden’s family. It became the highest grossing documentary ever, and has cemented Moore as the documentary filmmaker for the liberal world. He is loved by some, hated by many, but unless he completely bombs at the box office (his most recent film, Capitalism: A Love Story, grossed over $14 million domestically), he will continue his rather successful career.

Likewise the music world has become saturated with anti-Bush songs, as well as pro-America songs (the latter mostly found on country music stations). The human struggle in Iraq and Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks bled into the natural disaster which was Hurricane Katrina. Both were blamed on President Bush and his policies. One need only listen to the American Idiot album by Green Day or Minutes to Midnight by Linkin Park to see such anger against the former president.

Many books and countless news articles have appeared, all because of the attacks and the history afterwards. It has become the standard, it seems, to hold Bush’s views following the attacks as wrong, and indeed they were not entirely correct. But the anger, the outrage which has persisted these last 9 years paints America as a country against itself. Having traveled to Europe, I know that, like us, they get the vast majority of their view of America from the popular culture. Who are Americans? We are the violent, pill popping, sex crazed monsters which infect our screens. We are closer to Hell than anyone in Heaven. This is our national portrait.

But that is not us. As the true history of our country these last 9 years shows, in the soldiers who have fought and died in the Middle East, in the men who have seriously taken charge when the road became rough, in those who remained faithful despite having seen their faith despised, we are not those monsters who inhabit our movies and TVs. We are better than that. We are the country that stood against our attackers and fought back. We are the country that said NO to another force of evil. We are the country that turned the tragedy of 9/11 into the a glimmer of hope. While we may not have done it as gracefully as one could, we did it.

So it does seem appropriate, then, that such an important event, my generation’s Vietnam, would define us as a nation. We are strong, we are brave, we are charitable. As much as men deny Christ, He informs us, making us the nation we are today.

Nine years ago, I never would have thought such a thought. I think it here today.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

an update

I have not forgotten my promise. Its just that I've been busy (Studying for my take-home Irish History final, for one thing).

Good News: I'm dating an AWESOME girl.

Other good news: I'm employed as a teacher again (expect more teacher stories)

More on Ireland later.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I recently returned from a two week trip to Ireland. This was my second journey to the Emerald Isle, and I enjoyed myself immensely. In honor of the trip, I will try to post some of my journal thoughts about the trip. I will edit out the really boring stuff. Perhaps I'll even include my digressions.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Irish Brigade at the First Battle of Bull Run/Manassas

In honor of the anniversary of the first major battle in the Civil War, I have decided to post a small section of my History thesis. The entire thesis, entitled "'Paddy's Jubilation': The Wide-ranging Patriotism of Irish-Americans in the North During the American Civil War", can be found in the Christendom College Library, where all the undergraduate thesis are preserved. The following is adapted from a section in the first chapter. The whole chapter deals with Irish in the North's military during the Civil War, and their patriotism. This section specifically deals with the events which occurred July 21, 1861. . . .

Other Irish regiments formed in other states, particularly the 69th and 116th in Pennsylvania, which fought at the Battle of Gettysburg along with the 28th Massachusetts Volunteers, and the 15th Maine.[i] However, none of these regiments ever approached the sheer size of the famous “Irish Brigade” from New York, the most famous Irish fighting force in the Civil War. The Irish Brigade was for most of its existence filled with soldiers from New York, particularly the famous “Fighting 69th” regiment, although other states were occasionally represented. Not only was this brigade the largest group of fighting Irishmen in the Civil War, dwarfing any regiment from other Northern cities, but it is also one of the best-documented fighting bodies in the entire history of the Civil War thanks to Captain David Power Conyngham. Conyngham, who had received a chest wound at the Battle of Resaca while working as an aid to the Brigade’s general, Thomas Meagher, wrote a detailed history of the Brigade soon after the Civil War ended.[ii] The work remains the standard volume on the subject.

The Brigade itself received praise not only from Irish writers and Union generals, but also from such strange sources as a writer from the London Times. This was, by all accounts, a valiant group of men, devoted not only to their adopted country of America but their mother country of Ireland as well. Conyngham notes that, “many a patriotic young Irishman wanted to learn the use of arms and the science of war, with the hope of one day turning them to practical use in his own country.”[iii] Others had fought for Ireland and had escaped the English by immigrating to America. General Meagher is a prime example. He had emigrated from Ireland after being arrested as part of the “Young Ireland” movement in the 1840s.[iv] He, like many of his troops in the Irish Brigade, saw the Civil War as a sort of stepping stone to fighting for freedom in Ireland. It was not as much a fight for one country or another, but rather was a fight for the high ideals of freedom and unity. He urged his men to fight not only as Americans, but also as Irishmen.

This is clearly shown in the Brigade’s martial performance at the First Battle of Bull Run (known as the First Battle of Manassas in the South), the battle of Antietam, and the battle of Fredericksburg, where the Irish fought with awe-inspiring bravery. These three battles, important ones in the Civil War, were also the three major battles that featured the Irish Brigade as a unified force. Later battles that featured members of the Brigade, such as Gettysburg, only featured scattered parts of the Brigade. However, these three battles from the first two years of the war capture not only the bravery of the Irish Brigade, but also the bravery of all the Irish fighting for the Union.

The First Battle of Bull Run, which occurred on July 21, 1861, near Manassas, Virginia, was the first major battle of the Civil War. It was here that the Union’s hope of a short war vanished. At the start of the battle the Union forces held their own, but by the end they found themselves retreating from a confident army of Confederates. Despite the loss, the Irishmen present rose to the occasion, harnessing their notorious Irish temper against the enemy forces.

The Battle was well underway when the Irish Brigade was sent in to attack. Conyngham’s portrayal of the battle depicts the Confederates as repelling, “charge after charge, regiment after regiment.”[v] The Brigade, primarily made of the “Fighting 69th" of New York, immediately faced enemy fire. Conyngham’s description, gripping and passionate, is as follows:

Stripped of knapsacks and overcoats, they swept up the hill, across the open field, on towards the wood, delivering fire after fire on their concealed foe. Batteries opened on them right and left, hurling grape into their very faces, while from the shelter of the woods a stream of lead was poured on them. It was a gallant charge, gallantly led and gallantly sustained. After each repulse, the regiment formed and charged right up on the batteries.[vi]

This continued on until the Brigade was ordered to retreat, which it did “without panic,” as Edward Spann describes.[vii] Even the Confederates were impressed with their bravery, with one commenting that, “‘The Irish fought like heroes,’ and at the end ‘did slowly retire.’”[viii] It was a performance that impressed General Irvin McDowell, Union General during the battle, so much that he personally rode over and thanked the Irish soldiers.[ix] That first battle caught the attention of generals, solidifying the Irish Brigade as a band of great warriors.

[i]Joseph P. O’Grady, How the Irish Became Americans (Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers, 1973), 46.

[ii]David Power Conyngham, The Irish Brigade and Its Campaigns (New York: William McSorley & Co., 1867. Reprint, New York: Fordham University Press, 1994), 12.

[iii]Ibid., 6.

[iv]Ibid., 533–535.

[v]Conyngham, 36.

[vi]Ibid., 36-37.

[vii]Edward K. Spann, “Union Green: The Irish Community and the Civil War,” in Ronald H. Bayor and Timothy J. Meagher, ed. The New York Irish (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 196.

[viii]Ibid., 41.

[ix]Conyngham, 37.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Catholic Schools Need Men

A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook recently. As a male teacher in a Catholic school, the topic intrigued me immediately. So I read it, and have decided to comment. I’m gonna try something different. I’m going to provide my commentary in the text of the article itself. I’m taking my queue from Fr. Z at What Does The Prayer Really Say?, using Red and Black in his honor. Black are highlights, Red are my comments.

Without further ado. . .

“Catholic Schools Need Men”
By Mark Judge

The Catholic schools of Washington should hire me -- because I'm a man.

When I started substitute teaching at St. Mary's, a Catholic school in Maryland [If he had included the city, I would know which school], two years ago, I noticed something that has become so common that it goes unnoticed. The Catholic grammar schools - like public elementary schools - are mostly run by women [Its like being run by nuns, but without the Orders]. In some of them there is not a single male teacher. In the archdiocese as a whole, the ratio is about 10-1, and it is similar in the rest of the country. This imbalance is terrible for a Church that is still stumbling through a sex abuse crisis and fighting a secular culture that grows increasingly misogynistic. Kids need male role models [True], and it's time for some affirmative action in Catholic schools.

This is not the usual conservative argument that too many women in positions of authority are bad for boys [Never hurt before]. I am the product of a family full of tough, smart, independent Catholic women, from my mother who was a nurse in Korea to my sister the single mother to my sister-in-law the pediatrician. I know better than to make the argument that women are lacking in any way intellectually or morally or physically (my sister's Catholic Youth League basketball team could run circles around us boys when I was a kid). Women who run Catholic schools produce brilliant, achieving women. That is not the issue.

The damage done by the abusive priests and the bishops who moved them from parish to parish has given the impression that the men who are leaders in the Catholic Church are duplicitous at best and iniquitous at worst. In order to get over this, the Church not only needs penance - she needs men in the schools who show children a model of male moral strength. Catholic kids need to see men who would go to their own death rather than see harm come to a child [AMEN! Kids in general need to see this].

A priest friend of mine agrees who runs a well-known parish in DC agrees. I went to see him a couple weeks ago, to ask him why I kept getting turned down for teaching jobs, and why they always seemed to go to women. He told me he himself was frustrated about it, and that I should write to the bishop. The priest and I had a man-to-man talk, as it were, which points to the other, perhaps more abstract, problem that the man shortage reveals: woman and men have a different rapport with children [Duh]. Children instinctively talk and act differently around them, and it is important that they have access to both sexes throughout the course of the day [Moms and Dads are nice]. This has nothing to do with the so-called "feminization of Christianity," an argument that holds that the "masculine traits" have been scrubbed from Christianity due to women controlling parish offices and schools [Haven’t heard that one. . . ]. If the masculine traits are bravery, toughness, strength and discipline, then many of the female teachers at St. Mary's have them more than I do. In fact, my first few times subbing their it was the women who helped me out with effective techniques to discipline kids, how to run the audio-visual equipment, and how to control the chaos at recess [That’s because, 9 times out of 10, the teachers either KNOW the kids better than the subs, or the teachers scare the crap out of the students].

The argument is not about putting Sylvester Stallone into eighth grade to make men outta the boys; it's having men in the schools who can reinforce a Catholic feminism [Wait for it. . . ]. This is the feminism found in the example of the Virgin Mary [YES]. It is a feminism that is tough enough to travel miles through the dessert on a donkey, and at a desperate hours bluntly ask God face to face to do something, as the Blessed Mother did at the wedding at Cana. It is the feminism that had the courage to stand at the foot of the cross when the men had fled.

Ironically, this is the kind of feminism that can sometimes be best delivered by a man. This year girls basketball team at St. Mary's won the league championship. As a reward the girls on the team got to come to school out of uniform, wearing whatever ever t-shirts they wanted to. The boys, whose team had not done as well, were sulking around school, bristling whenever the girls would brag. I noticed they were whispering to each other, "Yeah, but girls basketball is not a sport." They would never say in front of any teachers, 90 percent of whom are women. But then the sixth grade came into my classroom in the afternoon and, the boys saw me standing in the front and they let themselves go. "It's not a sport!" they cried. They called out, men to man, for validation - "Mr. Judge, girls basketball is not a sport! Right?"

I was surprised. I grew up in the 1970s, and even in those dark ages we would never have claimed that women's basketball was not a sport. Had thing moved that far backwards? Actually, I answered, not only is it a sport, it's a lot more interesting than men's basketball. Men's basketball has become a lot of dunking. In women's basketball there is strategy, jump-shots, thinking [I would have just said “Yes. Now sit down and do your work.”].

The boys looked at me suspiciously for a few seconds. But then they seemed to take it in.

I submit that to young boys, this message is different coming from a man. I was an athlete when I was younger, am an orthodox Catholic, love women and sports, and am unaffected by 1960s style rage feminism. Kids, who any teacher will tell you are the greatest BS detectors in the world, can tell when they are being propagandized and when someone is speaking from the heart [Not only that, but they for some reason think teachers don’t have any such detectors]. And if it is a man to boys, the message will take more often than not. It sound terrible, it may run me out of polite society, but I think that when boys spend all day every day listening to women, they do what girls do when boys go on and on about cars or sports. They stop listening [Not always, but it does happen].

What do you guys think. I know most of the people who read this blog are women, and I am particularly interested to see what you think.