Tag Archives: loving Love

The center of the house

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According to Frank Lloyd Wright, the hearth is the center of the household.

According to a quick Facebook poll I took recently, the kitchen is–or wherever food is prepared. One person suggested the TV room, but the overwhelming response was the kitchen.

I’m inclined to agree with kitchen, primarily, simply because my family gathers in the kitchen to cook and eat and it’s directly on axis with the front door when you enter, so we frequently entertain in it as well. Also, the kitchen is where most families eat dinner, and eating together–maybe not as a whole family [1] but still in some kind of group–is a very common thing.

However, I see the argument for the TV room. At the house where I’m living for half the summer, we gather in the TV room to watch things and chat about them. Since beginning my time in this house, I have seen lots of things I wouldn’t hunt down myself: like Game of Thrones [2] or Mean Girls [3]. However, we did watch My Neighbour Totoro one day and that was pretty awesome. Nonetheless, I really enjoy getting a chance to just hang out with my housemates, even if I don’t often approve of their taste. But that’s a younger-generation thing to do, to gather in front of the TV, as far as I know. If we eat dinner as a house, though, we eat in the kitchen. It’s still a gathering place.

It makes sense for the place where bread is broken together to be the center of the house. In a sense, it’s the center of the Faith–the Eucharist [4]. House/family dinner is a chance for everyone to catch up with each other. The Eucharist is a chance for all the faithful to pray together, offering their prayers for each other. Because the Eucharistic Sacrifice exists outside of harmonic/monotonous time as we know it but is rather always happening at every moment, every time we witness it we are glimpsing the community of Heaven–and catching up with our heavenly Family. I can go to Mass on Saturday night and I will be praying with my friend who attends Mass on Sunday morning. We are united beyond time and space.

1. It’s a sad thing that many families don’t eat all together any more.

2. My best friend from high school calls it Boobs and Dragons. I’d be more inclined to call it Boobs and Violence, since I’m only in it for the dragons and they really don’t show up often enough to make it worthwhile.

3. Avoided this like the plague because I’d had horrific experiences during middle school. Lots of cultural references make sense now but it wasn’t all that good.

4. I know it’s MUCH more than just breaking bread together–but the communal meal is still a valid aspect, albeit played up way too much by feel-goods.

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Short Discourse on Love

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(This is a simul-post with Ignitum Today)

Disclaimer: I don’t like writing about love in a public forum.  It makes me feel vulnerable to public opinion.

Some time ago, I attended a conference in my home diocese.  Having connections with the organizers, I ended up attending the after-party as well, and had an absolute blast with some of the speakers and the other after-party attendees.  In the midst of the philosophical discussions that ensued (this after-party involved tobacco, alcohol, and Catholic people), I found myself talking to a group of young gentlemen a few years older than I about many heavy matters.  Along the way, we hit a number of topics, and spent quite a bit of time discussing love.  This is where I went a little crazy and got away from myself (it was late at night and I’d had an early morning; when I’m tired my mouth runs faster than my brain) and ended up lecturing this group of slightly-older-than-me young men on the nature of love and how it is more than an emotion; it is an act of the will.

“Well, we all agree on the fact that to love is to will the good of another, yes?”  Nods all around.  I shifted my sketchbook on my lap and gestured with my capped fountain pen as I spoke.  “And I’m sure you all have experienced that with your family.  Like, I love my little sisters and wouldn’t want any harm to come to them, but oh GOSH sometimes they drive me nuts and I don’t like them very much.  But I still love them.”

“Yeah, but I haven’t ever had that outside of my family,” one guy interjected.  I shook my head.

“Doesn’t matter, that’s the important aspect of love.  And some day you’ll find that person whose well-being you willingly–and happily–put above yours.  For that person, you’d do anything.  You’d give your own life if it meant they would be well and happy.  And each day it is a new wish for them to have a good day, or to smile, or to be well.  It is, as we’ve agreed, an act of the will.  You want nothing but the absolute best for that other person and will do whatever it takes to get them there.  You want them to be a saint.”

The rest of the story is unimportant and rather irrelevant; this discussion is what matters.  All that matters is this: you want the people you love most to become saints.

The one thing I can do

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It’s easy to be overcome by worries and cares, whether considering one’s own affairs or those of the wider world. This is especially the case, in my experience, when occupying one’s thoughts for any considerable amount of time on the present condition of the Church and of the wider culture in the West. Be it keeping up with blogs about the great spiritual and moral crisis we face today, or embroiling oneself in one of so many popular (and often quite heated) debates, it becomes easy to focus exceedingly on the wider, big-picture problems of today, often to the detriment of what God places immediately before us. Many of us will never engage with these culture-wide or international problems on a scale comparable to their own. Rather, for most of us our direct sphere of influence– at least as far as we’ll ever notice– will only ever extend to those whom we will meet face to face, those tasks which are given to us simply as duties to state. But once we remember that, each one of us must act on that knowledge: the decisions we make that will ultimately have the greatest range of consequences will often be those made closest to home.

That’s above all the case with how our actions affect us as images of God created to enjoy everlasting life. Each generation faces a different set of problems than the last, but the strong, loving hand of God guides each of them through its course. Throughout it all, what will never change is what I’m capable of: in the end, the only important thing I have any say in is what happens to my soul after I die. My actions may affect a great deal more, yes, but my actions must be framed by the knowledge that the best thing I can do with all my life is cooperate with God, who will provide all things for our salvation. Even if I spend my whole life in activism for all the right causes (all very good as far as they go, truly) but neglect to love the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, and all my strength– then at best everything I have done will have counted for nothing. But if I live in total self-giving to God, doing my best to seek Him and not myself, trust Him and not myself, love Him and not myself– then no matter of what little consequence my life will have appeared to be, if I have loved Him with all my heart, all my soul, and all my strength, I will have done the only thing worth doing; and, more likely than not, I will have given my neighbor the best kind of help there is.

There’s just no replacing personal sanctity. And, as the poet Charles Péguy once wrote:

“Life holds only one tragedy, ultimately: not to have been a saint.”