“Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.”
- Arno Penzias (Nobel-prize winning physicist)
Today the world lost a wonderful man who was so influential in forming the lives of so many people. I owe a great debt to Jim Gonzales and the Gonzales family for helping bring me to God and for showing me what it meant to be a good man when I was desperately in need of such a role model. My prayers go out for Mr. Gonzales, his wife and his children. For Mr. Gonzales as he journeys deep into the heart of God, may his guardian angel and the sweet voice of Our Lady guide him there swiftly. For the Gonzales family as they transition to forming a new relationship with their father and husband in prayer, that they know that in Christ and through Christ we are people of the resurrection. I take consolation in the fact that when Christ was on his cross, he didn’t see the cross and yet it was holding him upright and bringing about our salvation. Though we can not see those we have lost, in our suffering they hold us upright and Christ is there as a bridge between heaven and earth keeping us together.
A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Peter Kreeft, a philosophy professor from Boston College and King’s College New York. To structure his lecture, he had us each write down a word that we associated with beauty. The first word that popped into my mind was truth, which seemed cliche. So, I thought about great art and realized that beauty is in the frame. That the boundaries defined what is beautiful and directed our attention to it. But, then I thought about the actual object of beauty that was framed and felt that the object, like a frame, directed us towards something else. It seemed to me that beauty needs to open a new world to us. It needs to get us thinking, to show us something beyond the object itself, something beyond ourselves - much like a window. So that was it, I wrote down window.
Here is what Dr. Kreeft had to say:
Window is quite profound. What is beautiful about window is that you don’t see it, you see through it. You see something that is much more beautiful than the window itself.
You see, there are two types of consciousness: you can look at something, or you can look along it like a sign. And, they are both good. But, if you look at somebody, all the good and beauty in that person can be seen. It is finite. There is a limit to it. But, if you look along somebody as a sign, a sign points in a certain direction, and you never have to stop - you can keep going and going and going. If you look at all the things in the world as signs and not just as things, that is like looking at windows. You look through them, not just at them. And, if you do that, you will see all sorts of beauty that you could have never seen before.
-Dr. Peter Kreeft, July 2012
About a year ago I adopted two dogs. In the past year, these dogs have taught me a lot. The most profound being a theological lesson in human nature and our relation to God. When I adopted my dogs, they had unique personalities but for the most part were wild animals. Within a year, they are now trained and beyond that, I catch them trying to be human. One walks on two legs to mimic me and they even try to sound like they are using words when they want something. What I realized is that through recognizing me as their master and the provider of good in their lives and my love for them, my dogs take on human qualities. I then thought about how powerful God’s transformative love is with us. Through recognizing Him as our master, the provider of all that is good in our lives and his love for us, our nature is transformed into the divine. When we meet God as our master and enter the school of the Holy Spirit, God fashions us into other Christs. He joins us to the mystical body - to Christ himself.
Knowing that, why am I so stubborn? Why do I fight his transformative love so often? My dogs are more loyal than me, they are happier than me, more forgiving… Sure, they get into trouble, but they run every time I call them. If only I ran every time God called my name. They are so excited every time they see me. If only I had such enthusiasm. If only I were so good to my master. Lord, make me a dog.