Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Chewing photons for inspiration

I have been riding my bike to campus this semester. My route takes me through a stone archway and then to the top of the green that leads to the science building. The campus landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed Central Park (and the grounds of the now-closed Jesuit Center at Wernersville). When I hit the top of the hill I’m looking down an aisle of enormous oaks, their canopies merging in a magnificent green arch, a nave of a living cathedral. I never fail to take a deep breath when I see it. A literal inspiration. 

I can feel my shoulders relax, and all my anxiety slide off.  Is it all the oxygen those leaves are churning out, as they sit there chewing photons? Is it that the rest of my ride is downhill, away from traffic? Or is it awe?

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

An open window

It's the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council today. I don't remember the opening of the council, unsurprisingly as I was 4 1/2 (almost to the day).  

The late John W. O'Malley, SJ, who was Crash’s undergraduate thesis advisor, summed up the effect of Vatican II as a move from "commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from definition to mystery, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to dialogue, from ruling to serving, from withdrawn to integrated, from vertical to horizontal, from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from rivalry to partnership, from suspicion to trust, from static to ongoing, from passive acceptances to active engagement, from fault-finding to appreciation, from prescriptive to principles, from behavior modification to inner appropriation." I sometimes scroll through #CatholicTwitter and think how far we still have to go.              

I look at the photograph from the opening and see so many men — all men at the opening. But Pope Paul insisted on adding women auditors to the Council. And now the Secretary General of Vatican City is a woman, Sr. Raffaella Petrini. I got to meet her a few days ago, she oversees the Vatican Observatory. And for a few minutes I felt the stirrings of the Spirit, and the hope that Fr. O’Malley expressed so vividly flared into fire.