Friday, October 10, 2003

Suum Cuique
The rain has spoiled the farmer's day;
Shall sorrow put my books away?
Thereby are two days lost:
Nature shall mind her own affairs,
I will attend my proper cares,
In rain, or sun, or frost.
     -Ralph Waldo Emerson
On being a faithful witness...
You live in the service of love. You are servants of love for love of Christ. In this way you achieve the maturity of human beings who offer God their own freedom and use it in his service. Therefore, every day meditate on and renew the reasons of faith that motivate and sustain your life, your devotion, and your faithfulness, which is joyous and fruitful, though offered in sacrifice. And when you confirm in the silence of prayer - which is indispensable for you - the full validity of your life, thank the Lord for his marvels. Proclaim by your holiness that his name is holy.

Christ calls you to be his faithful witness, to be the channel of his saving love in today's world, to spread his mercy, which extends from generation to generation among those who fear him. Hence the shared concrete task of your service is to fulfill the divine plan of salvation: to make present the Kingdom of God, which is the Church; to make it present in your life and your environment, in the school, in the family, among the young, in service to the sick and abandoned, in charitable institutions, in works of social benefit, and, above all, in parish and catechetical initiatives, in order to bring to all the love of Christ and through him love for mankind.

And do not forget the influential world of culture, which is vital for evangelization and the creation of a just social system. Thus the Gospel will be incarnate in the life and culture of your people, affecting the various social classes and promoting true human and Christian values.

     -Pope John Paul II, message to Venezuela, January 28th, 1985

Thursday, October 09, 2003

If you're going to San Francisco...

... toss the car and bring a good pair of walking shoes.

I just returned from a very spontaneous three day excursion to downtown San Francisco for a UC Berkeley Extension course on Embedded and Real-Time Linux. The course itself was a lot of fun and very interesting, but I also got to see a lot of the city while I was there. I had been to San Francisco probably three times prior to this without a lot of opportunity to get in the trenches and experience the San Francisco city life myself, but this time proved different. The last time I was in San Francisco, I didn't like it much. Without a map, my friends and I got so lost and were eternally frustrated at the high parking rates that we vowed never to return. I was more used to Los Angeles where a car is often necessary because the city is so spread out. This time I now know - when in San Francisco, toss the car.

Flew in Sunday night and took a cab to the hotel. Class began early monday morning and went until about 5pm. Even though my coworker had rented a car, we agreed it was best to leave the car and walk from the hotel on Cyril Magnin St. (near Market and 5th) down to the UC Berkeley Extensions center on the corner of Market and Fremont. That night, I met an old friend and ventured into Chinatown and later to North Beach, the Italian district (Little Italy), for dinner at Steps of Rome.

Tuesday, again we had class early in the morning until around 5. After I got back to the hotel, I set out on foot for my own walking adventure to see Union Square and the surrounding area. Finding Bush street, I decided to walk down the street to St. Dominic's Catholic Church, renowned for its High Mass Schola Cantorum. They had actually planned a Choral Music concert that evening, but I didn't intend on staying since I had to walk back to the hotel. However, when I finally got to the church, I could not pull myself away, especially when I found out what the content of the music concert would be. So I convinced myself to stay. No regrets. The choir was positively magnificent.

Some pictures of St. Dominic's:

The concert began with Leon Boellmann's composition of the Prière à Notre Dame and also included several compositions of the Ave Maria by Tomas Luis de Victoria, Robert Parsons, Igor Stravinsky, Anton Bruckner, and Franz Biebl in addition to other motets, such as Bogoroditze Dievo by Sergi Rachmaninov and the Totus Tuus by Henryk Gorecki. The concert ended with Leon Boellmann's composition of Menuet Gothique. It is a little known fact that de Victoria's Ave Maria is one of my favorites. After the concert, I made my way back to the hotel to enter back into what was going on in the world around me.

On Wednesday, my last day, we checked out of our hotel and again went to class until 5pm. Afterward, my coworker and I cruised the streets of SF in our rented mustang convertable, top down of course. An unusually beautiful and clear day in SF allowed us to see the fully city and bay with remarkable ease. Our driving excursion ended with me at the airport ready to fly back in to Santa Barbara.

A lot more walking than I was prepared for, and lots of hills no less, so needless to say, I am perfectly exhausted today. I wish I would've had more time to explore the city and visit with all of my friends up there!
Mel Gibson and Opus Dei

Over the last several months, I have received dozens of visitors who were referred to this site from search engines using the keywords Mel Gibson and Opus Dei.

Puzzled, I ran into another fellow at St. Blog's, Matthew Collins, who also happens to be a member of Opus Dei and has composed this little Opus Dei FAQ. He has also received these visits. He even went so far as to ask what these folks were looking for, and their question appeared to be that because Mel Gibson is said to be a radical traditionalist, and Opus Dei is also considered by some to be radically traditionalist, is Mel Gibson a member of Opus Dei? Matt's FAQ answers the question.

For those folks, let me set the record straight. Mel Gibson is not a member of Opus Dei. Secondly, in my opinion, Opus Dei is far from being radically traditionalist. Though it probably isn't for everyone, I would consider it orthodox and pretty mainstream, actually. As I understand it, the primary message of Opus Dei and its founder, St. Josemaría Escrivá, is the idea of the universal call to holiness, including that of the laity of our church. As ecclesiastical movements go, this is a popular idea. The whole idea of the universal call to holiness is the emphasis behind such Vatican II documents as Lumen Gentium. I also understand there are a number of myths associated with Opus Dei that I won't get in to here, primarily because I have had very limited exposure to them and am not a member myself. But Matt can answer these questions, and I'm sure there are many out there who can explain them.


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