The beautiful, ancient, & reverent things that I loved about The Silmarillion, I also love about Advent & Christmas music. The songs played on the radio...well...they have their place, but they don't come near to moving me as these do. These are songs that, like the cold night air wakes my body, wake my soul to the things of God.

I wish I could type all the verses to all of them, but these will give a taste. [I've put links to some favorite arrangements, although it'd probably be safe to say that my favorite arrangement of every one would be: boys choir. Some of the videos are tacky, but it's the music that counts.]

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand.
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
for with blessing in his hand,
Christ, our God, to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.

The Breton Carol

A wonder sight to see,
Noël, Noël, Noël,
God's son for us is born and in a manger laid
by Mary, mother and maid,
Noël, Noël, Noël
[The Chieftans (in Gaelic)]


Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
ex Maria virgine, gaudete!
Tempus adest gratiae / hoc quod optabamus
carmina laetitiae / devote reddamus.

(Rejoice, rejoice, Christ is born
of the Virgin Mary, rejoice!
The time of grace has come / this that we have desired
verses of joy / let us devoutly return.

Of the Father's Love Begotten

Of the Father's love begotten
ere the world began to be
He is Alpha and Omega
He the source and ending, He
of the things that are, that have been
and that future years shall see
evermore and evermore.

Coventry Carol (Lully, Lullay)

O sisters, too, how may we do
for to preserve this day
this poor youngling for whom we sing
By by lully lullay (verse 1)

Herod the king, in his raging
charged he hath this day
his men of might in his own sight
all young children to slay (verse 2)

(I like to sing this especially on Dec. 28 - Feast of the Holy Innocents)

Riu Riu Chiu (Nightingale sounds)

Este qu'es nascido es el gran monarca
Cristo patriarca de carne vestido
hanos redimido con se hazer chiquito
aunqu'era infinito, finito se hizera. (Verse 2)

(The newborn child is the mightiest monarch
Christ patriarchal invested with flesh
he made himself small and so redeemed us
he who was infinite became finite.)

Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming

Lo, how a rose ere blooming
from tender branch hath sprung
of Jesse's lineage coming,
as men of hold have sung.
It came a floweret bright,
amid the cold of winter
when half spent was the night.

[John Michael Talbot]

(I love to sing this on Dec. 19 when we pray the O Radix Iesse Antiphon)

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter / frosty winds made moan
earth stood hard as iron / water like a stone.
Snow had fallen, snow on snow / snow on snow
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Angels and archangels / may have gathered there
Cherubim and seraphim / thronged in the air
But his mother only / in her maiden bliss
worshiped the Beloved with a kiss. (verse 3)

Noël Nouvelet (or "Sing We Now of Christmas")

Noël nouvelet, Noël chantons ici
dévotes gens, crions à Dieu merci.
Chantons Noël pour le roi nouvelet
Noël nouvelet, Noël chantons ici

(New Christmas, Christmas we sing here
devout peoples, let us shout our thanks to God
Let us sing Christmas for the newborn king
New Christmas, Christmas we sing here.)

Sussex Carol

On Christmas night all Christians sing
to hear the news the angels bring. x2
News of great joy, news of great mirth
news of our merciful king's birth! (verse 1)

All out of darkness we have light
Which made the angels sing this night x2
Glory to God and peace to men
Now and forevermore, amen! (verse 4)

The Wexford Carol

Good people all, this Christmas time,
consider well and bear in mind
what our good God for us has done
in sending his beloved Son.

With Mary holy we should pray
to God with love this Christmas day.
In Bethlehem, upon that morn,
there was a blessed Messiah born.

Above all is Handel's Messiah. Not only is it beautiful, the words are unmatched because they're from the mouth of prophets thousands of years ago. "Comfort ye my people..." "yet once a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land..." "but who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appears? For He is like a refiner's fire." "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it..." "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low..." "and he shall purify the sons of Levi..."

Did you see the meteor shower tonight? It was brilliant; I didn't even try to count the number of shooting stars. It was cold, but it was worth it to pray through the joyful mysteries there under the open sky. Do you know, almost every time I've prayed a rosary this Advent, I've been convicted about how shallow our observation of this seasons is. Not just with all the consumerism, but even with our attitude toward Christ's coming. We're so comfortable with it; it gives us nice, warm feelings of joy & peace, &c. &c. But really, how could we be so comfortable with Christmas? If the same God who created those stars really sent His Divine Son to be born in a cave on a cold winter's night, that should put us in awe, confusion, distaste, or anything but comfort. Oh, I wish I could tell you in a way that you'd understand: the quaint little porcelain nativity set isn't just quaint!

Those stars up there look so small & sparkly & even "cute." But they are made up of fire and power, larger than you can imagine and farther than you could begin to think. The Nativity scene is sweet to look at, perhaps peaceful and comforting. But if you would only think of what it's made of: the burning fire of love and the power that breaks death. If we could only see its mysteries!

I don't understand how people can attend the solemn assembly of the Christ Mass with such ease. The whole Mass is a challenge: a presentation of Christ's death-to-self and a call for us to die to ourselves. They don't hear the words? They don't see the sacrifice on the altar? Why do they go except to meet a cultural norm? How can something so mindblowingly intense be reduced to a meaningless cultural motion? Christmas is infinitely more!

I want you all to see the awesome beauty and mystery of Christmas. Look up at the sky and stare at the stars that have become so commonplace to dispassionate eyes. Don't let the Nativity become commonplace in your life, because it is anything but common. God touching man is supernatural. God becoming man seems totally unnatural, but it brings nature back to order, redeems from sin and makes us right again.

The Silmarillion was a book that heightened my idea of mythology and beauty. Sadly, I've read many books just to say I've read them. What do I really expect to get out of a book if my only goal is to finish it? I may have gone into The Silmarillion with this mindset, but it was quickly forgotten. The Valaquenta (about the first 30 pages) was overwhelmingly clear and beautiful to me, so much so that I just turned back to the beginning and read it again. It was like Greek mythology, but holier. There's something so attractive about ancient stories, ones that are told with homage and a sense of reverence. I had experienced attraction to these types of things in my childhood, but this was a direct encounter, and one that changed my perspective toward things. I began to look for pure, ancient, reverent, beautiful qualities in every part of life - stories, music, nature, art, architecture...and even little things like penmanship or turns of phrase. The was something in the aura of The Silmarillion that I desired.

I loved the stories of heroism and romance, the history, the symbolism, the conflict between light and dark, the graceful language (could anyone but a linguist have written so beautifully?).

The greatest reason why I love The Silmarillion is because it helped me realize what I already had. The recent daily Mass readings have been in Revelation - a story with unmatched epic proportions. Why was I so enamored with the the song of the Ainur? Perhaps it's because I long so much for the song of the Lamb. My heart swelled at every thought of Elbereth; then it burst at the thought of my own mother, the heavenly queen with a crown of twelve stars.

What could be a greater conflict than the one between Love and sin? What greater story of heroism than the King of All sending His Only Son to redeem men? What more ravishing romance than the one between the Lamb and His Bride? What deeper history or symbolism than that found in our Scripture? The Psalms are like poems from inside me that spring out when I hear them.

I gradually found that the things drawing me to The Silmarillion were satiated in Christianity, and it was sweet to my mind. But the sweetest thought is that it's only a taster; there is an infinite amount of Truth to be devoured.

What would I be willing to cut off if it would free me to grow closer to Christ? My elaborate wardrobe? My long hair?

Would I cut off my ego-feeding music or my lazy lingerings in bed? My self-absorbed facebook photos, my twitter?

Would I cut off ties from the world? from money? from my name?

I should be willing to cut off anything, because eternity is what I'm living for. These things are worthless. If you step back and look at them in the grand scheme of infinity, they really just become invisible. The only eternal things are our souls. I want to live for souls.

One night, I was stargazing and imagining what it would be like to have a lover next to me. I'm not a very romantic person, and I'm certainly not the mushy or swoony type. It's just that the stars have such an effect. Of all the beauties of the world, the stars are the most...perfect. No matter how much I fill my eyes with them, it's never enough. They're so incomprehensible, I think I could watch them every night for the rest of my life and still be awed.

Well, I was imagining what it might be like someday to have a jewelled ring put on my hand by someone in love with me. It's only the type of thing every girl dreams about. There's a deep desire in all of us to be loved and treasured.

But then I looked up. I realized that the Love I'd been seeking and the Person I'd been avoiding were the same. I don't think I'd ever felt stupider in my life, actually. I knew that God was the Love I wanted, but choosing Him seemed so big and hard that I chased after things the earth could give. But what's a diamond ring compared to a whole sky of stars? And he was offering them to me; He made them for me - the most dazzling jewels you could imagine.

Nothing compares to this Love.

Dear Friends,
I call you "dear" because I have so much love for you! I call you "friends" because I know we have so much in common - we have Christ in common. If only we could share Him in Communion. That's the reason for this letter.

I was raised in your circles and your language is my mother tongue. I have heard your sermons & your Sunday School lessons; I read your books & sang your songs. Today, I was in one of your Bible studies, and I heard you say again what I've heard a thousand times. I love you for saying it; in fact, it's one of the reasons why I'm alive this day.

You live on the Scriptures. It's so evident how much you love them! Today, you told me to "hunger for the Word of God," to "chew on it for a few minutes every day," to "digest the Word." You've told me that it "nourishes" and "feeds the soul," that I would die without it.

But oh! you don't know how sweet the Word really tastes. You gave me this to memorize years ago and I still remember it:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him a all things were made, and without Him, nothing was made that has been made.

I know you hunger for the written word because you love the true Word of God - the Living Word that came down from Heaven. Don't you know He offers us His flesh to eat?

How can I describe my discovery of this? I don't know how to explain it exactly, but it reminds me of The Giver by Lois Lowry. All the characters live in a world without color, but they don't know what they're missing because they've never seen it. It's like I was living in a 2-dimensional world and found depth. To find that all your beautiful symbols are truly literal is such a discovery!

What you have is good. Go deeper. When you desire the Word you truly hunger for the Eucharist. I love you and I long and pray for you to have this infinite, unifying gift.

Part of the reason why I love books is because they contain so many fascinating characters. There's a man in Around the World in Eighty Days named Phineas Fogg. Fogg is an appropriate surname because nobody quite knows how he functions; however, he always seems to be perfectly at ease, acting like he has the world under control, even under the most absurd of circumstances.

Far From the Madding Crowd contains a man named Gabriel Oake, a character whom I was attracted to because of his simplicity, honesty, and unassuming nature. He works hard and with patience, and his virtue is what brings him out on top in the end.

O Pioneers! is a story about a woman named Alexandra, whose fortitude and strength makes everyone around her depend on her.

Le Morte D'arthur tells the legends of King Arthur. Who can resist stories of a noble king, especially one who will be cut up in battle for the love of his people?

Edmond Dantes wasn't an interesting character until he was unjustly locked up in the Chateau d'If for 17 years. His suffering created him, and he in turn created one of the most intricate plots that has ever been twisted through my brain - The Count of Monte Cristo.

In The House of Seven Gables, all is darkness until Phoebe Pyncheon arrives. She spreads light wherever she goes, not being suffocated by the ghostly death all around her, but permeating the house with new life.

The main character of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett, isn't afraid to say what requires saying, no matter how unconventional or bold it may be.

And one of my favorite literary characters is Alyosha from The Brothers Karamazov. I love him because he has such sensitivity and gentleness, incredibly evident in the way he sees and interacts with children. The love he spoke to them in the final chapter resonated with me so deeply that I wept. And the children couldn't help but love him back.

These are unrelated characters from unrelated books, but they all have qualities about them that make their stories worth reading and remembering. Now of all the books I've read, there's one that stands above the rest--and that is because its main character is the most fascinating one I've ever encountered. Phineas Fogg doesn't hold a candle to the man who walked calmly across the thunderous sea. Gabriel Oake was a meek man, but he didn't bend down to wash the feet of his friends. Did anyone ever say to Alexandra Bergson, "to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life"?

Arthur Pendragon was a mighty king, but this man's kingdom "is not of this world." And out of love for his people he was cut up by a crown of thorns. The Count of Monte Cristo had a tragic, mysterious past, but what does it compare to the "man of sorrows...acquainted with griefs"? Betrayed by his friend with a kiss.

Phoebe Pyncheon brought light to a dark place, this man was called "the true light that gives light to every man." Lizzie Bennett had a sharp tongue, but she never turned the tables of the marketplace, accusing the people of making a "den of robbers."

Alyosha Karamazov is only a shadow of the man who said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

Every trait I have ever loved in any character is found in This One.

What if you fell in love with a literary character and found out that He was real, and that He loved you back?


The simplest way to say this is: Catholicism has blown open my spiritual life.

I tend to rationalize through my temptations; reconciling my mind to the sin. Imagine the weak mind and flesh reaching for some forbidden fruit, but then making the Sign of the Cross. It's a powerful, physical, paralyzing symbol. When I make it over myself I remember to whom I've entrusted body, and it saves me.

When I enter into the church to pray, I often come feeling foolish and ashamed for my selfish failings. Imagine entering, bent with the weight of self, but then seeing the font filled with Baptismal water. Immersing my hand and raising it dripping, I remember who washes me, and how He leads me to pass from old to new.

I hold a rosary and finger the beads; I walk between the 14 images of the stations of the cross; I touch a relic of the bone of a saint; I smell the chrism; I light the candle; I stand and bow and sit and kneel; I fast before every Mass to eat the Eucharistic meal.

Catholicism has captivated me with its corporeal symbols - its sacraments.

A sacrament is a visible sign of God's grace. The Blessed Sacrament is the ultimate sign of God's grace - Christ's tactile, physical body sacrificed for us. This is our Salvation! The Catholic Church constantly presents this Salvation over and over again through its sacraments.

It amazes me how such a huge, complicated thing like the Church can one single point to which everything leads. It's Jesus Christ, the man, the world's Salvation. And He is so real and tangible that we can feed on His saving flesh.

There's someone in my life who's very imperfect. But my idea of a man is someone who will return to Christ continually, despite failures. This takes humility.

When I think of the word "masculine," I think of my dad. He "mans up" to his failures because he knows the Truth. When someone knows the Truth, it should humble them, not make them prideful, because the Way, the Truth, and the Life is the powerful One to whom every knee must bow.

My dad taught me about how the Truth is infinite and perfect. If we're going to enter it, we have to be humble, or we can't be changed by Him.

I am a person who struggles with pride, and sometimes the monster seems so unconquerable that I imagine it's useless to keep returning to God. But my dad demonstrates to me that it is NOT useless - that, in fact - it is the returning to God that defines you, and not the sin. The faith of my father feeds me hope every day.

My idea of a man is someone who treats me as an unrepeatable soul. And my idea of a man is someone who can treat me like a sister. My dad does both of these things; he affirms me every day in so many different kinds of ways.
-hugging and kissing me
-thanking me
-telling me I'm pretty
-poking fun at me with his dumb puns
-working hard for me
-reading things I read
-reading things I write
-being honest and willing to address all problems (because he truly cares)

And he calls me his sister in Christ.
-he respects me & wants to know what I think
-encourages my femininity
-advises and prays for me

The most masculine thing that my dad does is lead his family toward Christ. Not just spiritually, but physically! He guided me to the Eucharist, and he leads all of us to the Eucharist every week. He's the one helping us to heaven and I love him for it.

The things I love the most about our faith are the things I don’t know. Mysteries the substance for which I hunger and feed upon. This is why the Rosary touches me in such a profound way. Only recently, while drudging my way through some novenas (yes, drudging) have I started to truly realize the value of its mysteries.

Besides the glorious, sorrowful, joyful, & luminous mysteries, there are also three little Aves at the beginning of the Rosary where (I’m told) we are to pray for the virtues of faith, hope, and love. These virtues are mysteries in themselves.

When praying these Aves, I would often have in mind 1 Corinthians 13:

At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially, then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Because love is the greatest, I used to pray more fervently for that virtue than for the other two. They didn’t seem as important. In fact, I sometimes wondered how faith and hope were even useful.

When praying my novena, which was for the faithless, I started thinking about faith in a different light. I realized that they were hopeless because they were faithless. They couldn’t have hope because they didn’t believe in it.

What do we have hope in? We hope for the greatest of these, the greatest desire of our hearts – Love.

So we must have faith in hope, and hope in love. They lead to each other, and they can't be separated. At present we know only partially, but someday we shall know fully!

The description for this blog is "these are the things that intrigue and inspire me." I suppose it's obvious that I'm mostly inspired by books, but there are an endless amount of things that catch my interest. One thing that's been affecting me lately is this painting by Ted Nasmith:

It's been my desktop image for a week, and I keep noticing more things I like about it. Aesthetically, I love the width of the landscape, the majesty of the mountains & clouds, and especially the depth & lustre of the sea. But more than that, I love how the light at the top of the mountain is bright, but hidden. You can see that there must be a great canyon beyond the brink, but that too is hidden. The scene is beautiful, but it heightens your desire to see more. I also love the subtle details like the waterfall on the mountainside and the birds flying between the ship and the shoreline. If you look closely, you can see figures on the ship, clasping each other with their arms outstretched toward the light.

The title of this piece is The Shores of Valinor. It is inspired by The Silmarillion (so I suppose it's literary as well as artistic...of course it would still have to do with books...) Valinor is, in some ways, the paradise of Middle-earth. What the painting signifies to me is the heavenly fulfillment of our desires for greatness & beauty. Heaven will be everything our hearts have ever longed for because it will be complete unity with God. When I was little, I remember not wanting to go to heaven because I didn't want to leave all the delights of earth. But what I didn't realize was that heaven is all the delights of earth multiplied by infinity.

The couple on the ship have made a journey - a long, difficult journey - and have depended on each other to complete it. They have two arms reached out in rapture and two arms grasping each other. To me it's a picture of true friendship. The aim of true friends is to help each other reach Heaven - union with God. And that's what a marriage of two souls should always be.

Those are just some of the things that have been going through my head as I've logged onto my computer every day. ;) It's good to have a constant reminder to set my thoughts on worlds far off / where we only cry from joy.
Set your sails upon the mighty winds of May
Set your sails upon the hope of June
Set your sails upon the air of warm July
Set your course for Heaven's shore!
- Future of Forestry
[Music is another thing that inspires me a great deal; I should write about it more often!]

People seem to focus so much on the future. Our vision is naturally horizontal -- looking at the things in front of us (or behind). Some of us fruitlessly dwell on the past, and others (like myself) have the tendency to dwell in our imaginings of the future. What I wish I could do is shift my eyes to a vertical perspective, one that moves along the x-axis of time, but is always fixed on the y-intercept of the present.

What I mean is, if we could look upward, focused on God and not on our own fates, our fates won't get messed up by our tainted, twisted selves. We don't live for the future; we live for the infinite God. Our lives shouldn't be directed toward our own pursuits; they should always be in pursuit of Him. I've come to realize that it doesn't matter much what happens to me as long as I am in union with God when it happens.

I came across this passage when I was re-reading The Screwtape Letters for my previous post, and I think it explains the "present" concept brilliantly:

The humans live in time, but [God] destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which [God] has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them.
Recently, I've been faced with many "coming of age" decisions, and to be honest, I've struggled a lot with entrusting them to God. But He has given me a great confidence because, even when I feel I don't know what to do with my life, I know that my life should belong to Him no matter what I do. I try to embrace that knowledge because it gives me purpose in the present.
So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?' All these things the pagans seek. Your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek ye first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you besides.
On a bigger scale, for the last 5 years I have wondered and prayed about my "vocation," whether I should serve God within a family, or consecrate my whole self as my patron St. Cecilia did. I have a deep attraction to both lives, and I have come to realize it is because they both have the same call - to live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up as a sacrifice for us. All lives have this same call, and when we answer it, we are fulfilled in the deepest part of our souls.
Our vocation is LOVE, and we are called to it NOW.

The rude, uncomfortable human self-portrait presented in The Screwtape Letters puts me to shame every time I read it. But it's the sort of healthy shame that I need provoked with - the fact that the Creator put in us dignity, purpose and love, and our sin and selfishness are perversions of that.

Lewis shows how "devils" love perversion, confusion, and vacant minds. Haziness and tepidity delight them. They love it when we make God little in our minds, defining our spiritual lives by emotions or social perceptions. But despite their diabolical power, they are entirely crippled by virtue, and especially sincere humility - what Lewis called the "real nakedness of the soul in prayer."

...if he ever consciously directs his prayers "Not to what I think thou art, but to what thou knowest thyself to be," our situation is, for the moment, desperate. Once all his thoughts and images have been flung aside or, if retained, retained with full recognition of their subjective nature, and the man trusts himself to the completely real, external, invisible Presence, there with him in the room and never knowable by him as he is known by it -- why, then it is that the incalculable may occur.
We so often forget that we are serving a fathomless, infinite, incomprehensible Being. If only we would worship Him with awe! The more we fear the Lord, the more we're aware of the stupidity of our sins, but the amazing thing is that the more we stand in awe of our Creator, the more we understand who we are, because we're made in His beautiful image.
Remember, always, that He really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd amount of value on the distinctness of every one of them. When He talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.
There are so many things addressed in this little book, but one that strikes me especially hard, especially during the season of Lent, is the importance of submitting the will to God. No matter how much I think or talk about loving Him, it's all for nothing if I don't actually obey Him.
The great thing is to prevent his doing anything. As long as he does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance. Let the little brute wallow in it. Let him, if he has any bent that way, write a book about it; that is often an excellent way of sterilising the seeds which an enemy plants in a human soul. Let him do anything but act. No amount of piety in his imagination will harm us if we can keep it out of his will.
The Screwtape Letters makes the list of my significant books because it opened my eyes to the constant raging of spiritual warfare and heightened my perception of God, not as a someone we define, but as someone who defines us.

In the weeks before Ash Wednesday, there were many moments when I got drawn into some kind of indulgence (food, internet, music, &c), and had the burning thought, "I need Lent!" It surprised me how much my soul longed for fasting.

There's a yearning again A thirst for discipline A hunger for things that are deeper (Cry in My Heart - Starfield)
When I depend too much on material things, my orientation turns back into myself, my image, my desires. The selfish soul is a miserable soul. Fasting is so powerful because it purges out the selfishness and turns the soul's orientation outside of itself--up toward God, and around toward men. I love that fasting is such a physical discipline. As corporeal humans, we need that. We can't forget that Christ is human as well, and He has physically sacrificed Himself for us in every way. Can't we be a little hungry for Him? Can't we endure a little silence for Him? A passage from St. Augustine's Confessions helped me think of it this way: if we can't have the physical discipline to get out of our comfortable beds in the morning, how can we have the spiritual discipline to get out of our comfortable sins? Getting up early is a denial of self-pleasure, but once you do it you really begin to live. Getting out of our sins is a denial of our flesh, but we can't truly begin to live until we wake up. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. The discipline of Lent helps us to lose our dependence on material things and become more dependent on the Word of God. This scripture has always meant a lot to me, but as a Catholic it totally blows me away, and here's why: Christ is the Word spoken by the Father, and He is the Bread that gives us eternal life. He is our literal nourishment. During Lent, my goal is to lose some of my attachments to worldly comforts and start really living on Christ.

Our bodies are designed to eat. Our mouths, teeth, salivary glands, tongue, esophagus, stomach...they all serve the purpose of nourishing us. When we don't eat, our bodies clearly communicate to us that something's wrong. They ache from pain and they yearn for food.

People everywhere are aching and yearning in pain from a different kind of malnourishment. They aren't doing what they are designed for, and they die.

Man has always asked what his purpose is. The question has existed for as long as man has existed. Why are we here?! What are we for, if anything? It's clear that we're designed for something larger than this life. Why else would we ache and yearn so much? We have so much desire inside of us that is almost always unsatisfied. Why? What do we desire?

We find comfort in relationships, in feeling wanted, and in feeling needed. We desire companionship, and most of all we NEED love. We find purpose and joy when we have love. It's the selfish, the lonely, and the closed souls who are miserable. To love is to have a healthy soul. To go without love is against our design, just like going without food goes against our design; it will make us sick and eventually kill us.

It's kind of like a love-shaped hole, but I wouldn't even call it a hole. I'd call it an existence. We're nothing without it.

We are nothing without the Creator. The Creator designed us in His image. Did you ever wonder what that means? It probably doesn't mean that he made us look physically like Him. I think that when He designed us, He designed us to love. That's His mark on us, because HE IS LOVE. And He didn't just put it in our souls, He did put it on our bodies as well. Sex is supposed to be a physical manifestation of love. That's why, when it's misused, it causes us so much pain.

If there is a heaven, then it must be made of love.

[Again, this series of Significant Books isn't necessarily my favorite books, but rather, books that have influenced me in my life or shaped my philosophy in some significant way.]

Nearly 6 years ago, I was sitting in my Baptist Sunday School class as the teacher was handing out blank cards to everyone. "We want to make this class interesting and relevant to you," he said, "so write down anything you might want to learn more about, and we'll try to answer your questions in the coming classes." I wrote down the weightiest question on mind--"What is the difference between Catholics & Protestants, and why are Protestants right?"

At that point, Catholicism was a large question mark in my mind--grown larger from my parents obvious interest in it. I knew it was controversial, but I had never heard a clear explanation as to what it was or why it was supposedly teaching a "different gospel."

I was probably more attentive during our next Sunday School class than I had ever been before. Afterward, I was unconvinced. I knew the arguments didn't hold water, and I was dying to know how to answer them. Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating was the first book Dad gave me to help answer my many questions. I ate this thing like candy. It solidified all that I knew was right, but couldn't explain till that point. It pointed out the Scriptures and gave a true representation of what the Church taught. For the first year of our conversion, as I searched the Scriptures with new openness, I used this book as a tool to understand what the Church taught about it and why.

This book really didn't change a thing about what I believed. I knew that I was a Christian and I wanted to follow God. But the Church gave me a fuller and deeper understanding of Christianity and the tools to follow God in even more radical ways. It made my Christian faith more of a reality.

The first half of this book exposes the holes in prominent anti-Catholic literature. The second half answers the common accusations against the Church. As I said, it was the first book of its kind I had ever read. It opened the door to MANY other books, and "Catholic apologetics" became one of my biggest passions. Catholicism and Fundamentalism will always be significant to me because it was a gateway for such a huge change in my life.

I am still very passionate about defending and building up the Church; in fact, it is one of the main reasons why I've gotten involved in blogging. After 5 years of being Catholic, I've received so many spiritual (and intellectual) gifts of God through the Church, and few things give me more joy than sharing that with others.

But really, the biggest thing that this book spurred on was not a desire to teach or explain Catholicism to others (though that goes along with it). The most amazing thing I've learned is that I can never stop learning! God is infinite, so we can go on learning about Him and growing closer to Him forever. I want to keep a hunger for the truth and an eagerness to share it.

I've decided that I'm fed up with the attitude of students toward school. There just seems to be constant complaining, as if education were this horrible thing that nobody should have to undergo. Yes, I know that school can be a drag. As a high school senior, I've had my share of late-night cramming, piles of tough homework, & substandard teachers. And yes, I also know that our education system isn't the best. But learning is good, and whether it's always pleasant or not is beside the point. We should appreciate what we have and take advantage of it as much as we can.

If only we could change our perspective! I admit that I've been pulled into the trap of cynicism over the past 4 years. It's hard to sing a different tune from everyone else. But really, school can be enjoyable and rewarding when you're in the right mindset.

Education is a privilege. Learning is a valuable formative process. Knowledge is one of the most powerful tools we can use in our lives. Study gives us a wider understanding of the created world, and of God Himself. <--that's the kind of mindset we should be trying to stay in.

Lately, I've been liking school more. Trying to communicate in a different language is challenging, but rewarding. Finding frequencies, wavelengths, & energy of rays takes work, but it's gratifying. Sitting through a class on Western Civilization might not be my first choice of things to do at 9 AM, but it's interesting stuff that's worth knowing.

I'm in an elite group of people--I get the chance to have an education that billions of other kids have never had--and I need to be more grateful for that.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home