Tuesday, June 7, 2005

It's so hard to let go

God willing, I will be moving into a new apartment next weekend. I'm happy about getting to know a new neighborhood (especially one so slap full of little Taiwanese eateries!) and living alone will be a nice change. (Well, I guess Dane is technically a roommate... but I think I can handle him.)

A major consequence of the move will be that I have no Internet at home. Ideally, in terms of my spiritual life, this will remove root and branch the unquestionably largest timesuck in my already time-pressed life. Of course, this can't do much good for my blogging life, right? Well, ideally, maybe it will. The goal is not to stop blogging, but to stop having the CONSTANT ability and temptation to surf the Internet at any and every hour for any and every passing whim. Sleep and prayer simply have to get a leg up on the Internet. I hope to have only my bed and key devotional materials in my bedroom. The rest will be for the living room or my study. All hail Matthew 5!

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Ideally, I will continue writing blog-worthy shtuff and just posting in now and then from a flash drive at Internet cafes or friends' houses.

Along the same lines, I'm excited about the minimalism of new apartment: a few pieces of furniture, not much wall ornamentation -- functional, clean, monastic -- and in fact, ready for having people over for book/faith discussions. That's a goal of mine for next year, to set up a Catholic book discussion (or two). In addition to reaching out to non-Christians in Taichung, I really want to equip the faithful as well. I'm thinking of doing Thomas Nash's _Worthy Is the Lamb_ in the fall and Thomas Howard's _Being Catholic_ in the spring. I may also like to go through Thomas Dubay's _The Evidential Power of Beauty_, albeit primarily more for a non-Christian group.

Another good thing on the horizon is the opportunity to do a retreat at a Jesuit house in July. I'm really nervous about going through the Ignatian _Exercises_, quite frankly because, as the Exercises are aimed towards definitive vocational decisions, I'm sacred what God will tell me. Exercises or no, privately led or group-shared retreat, either way I'm STOKED about taking a vow of silence for at least a week. I am also considering working through Dietrich von Hildebrand’s magnum opus, _Transformation in Christ_, over the course of the (hopefully) two-week(-plus) retreat. Holiness is my one desire. God, how far I fall! But, O Lord, how low you steep to draw me up!

I should receive the sacrament of Confirmation by July, so I am eager to see how the Holy Spirit blooms in me on this (hypothetical) retreat AND at (the still technically hypothetical) World Youth Day. I am champing at the bit to DIVE into being Catholic. But it’s funny. I spent so much time an energy *becoming* Catholic, only to discover being Catholic largely means *continuing* becoming Catholic. One is, perhaps by definition, never catholic enough. To be Catholic is to admit one must still become Catholic.

The power of catholicity (kata holos = Gk., according to the whole)[1] is that it accomplishes two paradoxical but vital works in humans. On the one hand, the catholic (which is to say Catholic) truth draws us, as fragmented people, *in* to harmony with its total sacramental integrity, its intrinsic spiritual and moral completeness. On the other hand, simultaneously, catholicity draws us *out* into its pneumatically empowered unity with all peoples, places and times. Catholicity ties us together and, paradoxically, loosens us up.[2] The Catholic truth makes us whole – catholic – in the depths of our soul, while also making us full – catholic – in the growth of our consciences and experiences.

[1] Gus Portokalos: Give me a word, any word, and I show you that the root of that word is Greek.

[2] A helpful image might (?!) be that of a football spiral. The tighter the internal cohesion (and lacing) of the ball, the farther and better it travels to its goal. Another good image might be that of a bow and arrow, the “extrinsic”, progressive accuracy and range of which is directly related to its own “introverted”, regressive tension.

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