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How I Am a Timelord (And So Can You!)

11 Jan

No, unfortunately it’s not because I have an old fob watch I peculiarly never open. And it’s not because I’ve finally moved into the realm of certifiable insanity. Well it could be that, but I guess what I’m really getting at, the real reason I’m a Timelord, and so can you, is this:

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Bam. Two hearts.

It took me a while to realize exactly how I wanted to present this metaphor and what it really means to me, but I kept stewing with it, because the idea of having two hearts has been basically stalking me. It first stems from my obsession with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and its impending artwork and devotion and utter amazingness, which is pierced and never dying, tortured and never faltering, burning and never consumed, with Love for us. In my spiritual life I have come to realize just how much I long to be close to that Heart, how much I would rather have it be the heart in my chest than my own. I’ve also realized how He has already promised me this:

“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  (Ezekiel 36:26)

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So the first way the metaphor works is this: He gives me His Heart as well. He has promised me communion with it and it comes to me physically in the Eucharist. When you receive Communion, you quite literally have two hearts in your chest, two presences in your very self. Both wholly physical and actual.

Hence, Timelord. Two hearts. His and mine.

BUT THEN…

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I kept thinking about it. It kept nagging at me. Am I a Timelord all the time, or just in the fifteen minutes after Communion that I am genuinely holding Infinity within me? There still seemed to be something I was missing, some way in which I got to be a Timelord all the time, without having to be institutionalized for delusional behavior.

And as I recently renewed my Total Consecration to the Jesus through Mary on December 8th, it hit me.

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It’s hers. Hers is my other heart. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a much gentler, more patient devotion. She will never force herself upon you, but instead waits in humility to lead you to her Son. Her heart, full of Mercy is the other gift that He gives us, if we will take it.

Hence, Timelord. Two Hearts. His and Hers.

This aspect of the metaphor is more spiritual and abstract than the first. The first is simply an observation about the freaky and enchanting fact that when you receive the Eucharist, you’re two and one at once, the Heart of our Lord genuinely existing in the same cavity as your physical heart. This second way of being a Timelord is much more constant, and more difficult. Because this second way you must work at.

What’s beautiful about being a Timelord? Why would a person even want to be one, you ask? Besides the obvious fashion benefits (bowties, suspenders, fezzes, Stetsons, trench coats, converse, leather jacket, glasses, etc), there lies in the Timelord the actuality of greatness, the potential to be splendid, to be merciful, to be hilarious, to be wonderful, to be compassionate and interesting and brilliant and totally yourself. But we normal humans cannot achieve this by ourselves. What it takes is realizing that your only power, the only ability you have to love others as they deserve, to be as wonderful as you deserve, to accomplish what the world deserves, lies not in your own self and heart, but in the hearts of Christ the King and the Queen of Heaven.

In other words, the benefits of trading in your own stony heart- that is, your own fixation with relying wholly on yourself- and instead throwing yourself fully into knowing and serving and loving the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, are immense. You will become a Timelord. When you pray for communion with the Hearts, asking continually and earnestly, you will learn to be yourself better, to see the world better, to love others better, and to be more joyful, more content, and more courageous.

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Sorry this is the most visually annoying gif ever. I couldn’t resist.

Devotion to the Hearts is your fob watch. 

Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You know you want to.

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How Jedi Knights are Less Awesome than Priests and Religious

25 Nov

In light of Disney’s recent acquisition of an entire solar system, history, and zealous fanbase,I decided I was going to write an article about the sheer awesomeness of the priesthood and religious life using the slightly less awesomeness of Jedis (Jedii? Jedipods?), which is something I’ve always pondered as a correlation but never really had the evidence to back up.

However, shortly after setting out in this endeavor, I came face to face with my own woeful inadequacy. I am nerdy enough to have a favorite Jedi (Obi Wan Kenobi, of course.) but not nerdy enough to remember what color his lightsaber is. And because I am 600 miles away from my little brother, I resigned myself to research.

And luckily, this project has coincided with my class on early Church history and my completely impractical acquisition of Cardinal Dolan’s Priests for the Third Millennium, which I purchased two weeks ago off of Amazon for $4 while spazzing over Dolan’s goobery wonderfulness. Because come on. Four dollars.

So here we go. Research.

Then about three seconds into a wiki-style (or… wookie-style…) website article on Jediism (which is apparently also a real thing, although, their whole creed seems to be “We’re not roleplaying”) I stumbled upon a quote attributed to “Unidentified humanoid Jedi, 5,000 BBY” and knew I was once again in over my head.

So this is me, admitting that I am totally incapable of writing this article with the expertise it deserves.

And this is me writing it anyway.

So besides the awesome similarities of the uniform, what is there?

How about morality, discipline, and self-sacrifice.

The first and most obvious similarity lies in the gift itself. Not just anybody can be a Jedi, and not just anybody can be a priest (or brother or sister!). Or maybe more appropriately, being a priest or religious makes you no longer able to be just anybody. Once you are in harmony with the Force of Christ in that manner (see what I did there?), you are changed. You are somehow above and beyond what you were before. You are no longer your own, and you serve a higher purpose. This specialness, this other-worldly nature, is what makes both parties so remarkable, and on top of that, what makes them so hard to beat. You can’t beat a handle of Jedi with an army of clones. You can’t beat a handle of consecrated celibates with an army of evil. They’re just.too.good. For every hour a padawan (or… seminarian) spends practicing his art, he is increasing in the skills necessary to conquer any evil with which he is met, to be indelibly good and moral and just, and take care of and guard those around him. They (and Catholics in general!) are given the entire arsenal of elegant weapons, from a more civilized age, with which to fight this battle for holiness and souls.

Secondly, discipline is necessary in both… orders. Since the earliest days of organized monasticism, St. Benedict recognized the absolute necessity for obedience and discipline in the life of a monk –not only for the sake of his own holiness, but for his brother monks’ as well. Without the continual subordination of the will to your spiritual Father (the Abbot, in their case, but only as a vicar to our Heavenly Father), you remain in a state of pride and self-reliance, and cannot reach your own potential. When Anakin refuses to subordinate himself to the wisdom of dear Mr. Kenobi, he is eventually overtaken by his own malicious pride. He cannot stand under the weight of all that power, in the same way that any given monk or priest could not stand under the weight of the grace given him without the continual spiritual humbling gained in self-discipline and obedience.

St. Benedict, the Original Jedi.

And of course, the total gift of self. When a man becomes a priest or monk, when a woman becomes a nun, they give their whole self to a cause worthier than they. It is a total outpouring of all their desires, wishes, plans, and lives. They give up their families (current and potential), careers, and sometimes even personal safety to become unlike anyone our society has ever seen. This act of total gift can only be embraced as a mirroring of the total gift Christ gave on the Cross, and for it, these remarkable men and women give up their lives. Jedi Knights give their whole selves to their art, giving themselves to die for the cause of justice and peace.

But ultimately, Jedi Knights pale in comparison to celibates. There is a Dark Side to the Force where there is no Dark Side to grace. They fight for temporal goods where others fight for eternal. And honestly, seeing a monk walk around in the rain with his hood up and his rosary in hand is about 8 billion times cooler than a Jedi in a kimono with a lightsaber.

Don’t deny it. You’ve made this joke, too.

PS. You are also allowed to use this analogy while having debates about whether religious should wear habits. Because if I’m gonna be a nun, I want to darn well look like a Jedi. (Wait… do normal students not have this debate? #catholiccollegeproblems)

PPS. This.

How Wes Anderson Films Reflect the Sanctity of the Family

23 Oct

“I wonder if the three of us would’ve been friends in real life. Not as brothers, but as people.” –Jack, The Darjeeling Limited

The distinct flavor of a Wes Anderson film is unmistakable, as any even remotely hipster college student can assuredly tell you. From the colors to the music to the plot, Anderson has a way of creating something absolutely singular in a world of largely repetitive blockbusters.

But amidst the ironically kitschy details and brilliantly funny dialogue, what is Anderson ever really talking about?

Family.

He loves to take the family dynamic, strain it, put it in a different country or under dire circumstances, and tell the story of what happens. As I’m writing this, it’s taking everything in me to not spout into line after line of the boys in the Darjeeling bickering, or Margot and Richie in the Royal Tenenbaums, or the awkward fumblings of Moonrise Kingdom‘s young lovers, and let them speak for themselves. Anderson truly has a gift for capturing the reality of family in all its totally annoying, surprisingly hilarious, completely ridiculous absurdity.

But what he’s really apprehending is a not so poetic reality long known by the Church: When your family annoys you, it leads you toward Heaven.

Anderson’s characters and their relationships between each other are always ultimately redemptive (even when the redemption is incomplete, or years late, or not glamorous) solely because they are family. Your family is the situation you were purposefully put into by the only All-Knowing Author, and it affects you, shapes you, and even can cause you to suffer far beyond what any other acquaintance or friend relationship can. No matter whom you consider to be your family, if they’re close enough to call family, they’re close enough to hurt you, build you, and love you more than any other people in your life. Family is permanent, regardless of death, distance, or disregard.

Family life is the constant state of the person, even regardless of to which vocation they are called. If you are called to start your own family with another person, you can rest assured they and your children will annoy you, madden you, love you, and increase your joy every day in the same way your parents and siblings did. (In fact, vowing yourself to one other person for the rest of your lives is essentially saying, “I want your particular ability to frustrate me as my daily opportunity for holiness.”) If you are called to a religious order, your brothers or sisters will undoubtedly do the same, maybe even to a greater extent than a nuclear family (more siblings, more opportunities!). And, despite it often being viewed as the loneliest vocation, with the priesthood there is absolutely no chance you’ll scoot through life without being totally annoyed, driven insane, frustrated, and ultimately redeemed by that one giant, universal family of the Church.

Family is family. In all its glorious weirdness.

No, unfortunately there is no escaping the annoyances and trivialities of the family existence. But the wonderful news is that that’s absolutely okay. Like Anderson understands, the family is where our sanctification immediately lies. God wouldn’t have given Adam an Eve at all if they weren’t ultimately better off putting up with and being bettered by each other’s seemingly insurmountable differences. Our families, in all their incomprehensible behaviors, quirks, and flat-out-aggravating-as-all-get-out personalities, are the unfailing opportunities for our holiness and sanctification on earth.

They are the constant chance for us to love someone we might not really like at that moment. Or ever. Our families are our first and foundational instances of self-sacrificial love in the community of saints, and learning this skill opens us up to loving the rest of the world rightly.

When Francis, Peter, and Jack have to put up with each other, they locate themselves. When Margot and Richie and Chas have to deal with their parents and brother-of-sorts Eli, they are able to embrace their true selves. Only after Steve loses his friend and has to learn to relate to his estranged family does he grows.

When, in Genesis, God decided, “‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him”, He created the first persons of a family unit, the first instance of true communion between persons. He necessitated for us the ability to relate to others, put up with others, and love Him through loving others, even if our attempts are imperfect in our fallen states.

And He also provided Wes Anderson with endless fodder for hours and hours of truly great cinema.

As a director, he’s sometimes criticized for making what is essentially the same movie again and again, just swapping out the soundtracks and placing it in a different setting (he even uses the  same actors in varied compilations every time). But, isn’t this really the only story we all know? Family, in its many and differing forms, is the only avenue by which we each have direct opportunities for sacrificial love. Sanctification of ourselves by way of the family is humanity’s built-in avenue to holiness and Heaven.

 Mrs. Fox: This story’s too predictable.
Mr. Fox: Predictable? Really? Then, how does it end?
Mrs. Fox: In the end, we all die. Unless you change.