Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

31 July 2006

Ignatius Day!

Happy Ignatius Day Everyone!!!

On this date 450 years ago St. Ignatius Loyola breathed his last. Ignatius was a remarkable man, who went from a courtier and soldier interested in the glory of battle and stature at court to one of the greatest saints in the history of the Church. Any attempt I make out summarizing his life will be woefully insufficient.

The most fitting testement to Ignatius I can think of are his own words:


Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.

25 July 2006

Cheesecake


Today or rather yesterday was another good day in the life of Matt. Though this summer every day has been remarkably pleasant. Today I went to Cleveland in search of a replacement for my beloved "Kamp" bag. After three years of good service and trips all over the world, it has become faded, torn, and rather shabby looking. I had intended to buy a new one of the same model but sadly they don't seem to make them anymore. Sigh. I got a nice new black bag, only time will tell whether it can fill the hole left by my old khaki one.


Regardless, messenger bag shopping is not particularly interesting to partake in let alone read about. The manager of Cleveland Trunk, where I bought both the new and old bags, proved to be quite amusing. Normally I'm not very chatty when shopping, usually because shopping puts me in a somber mood. Today manager Lady and I got to talking. She asked where I went to school, I mentioned I had just graduated Catholic and was not heading to the Jesuits. Apparently her daughter was a Catholic grad and she once taught bacteriology at Georgetown Medical School. In a remarkable change of career she went from Georgetown professor to mall store manager or perhaps an assistance manager, she was clearly in some position of authority, though it looked to be more of a retirement job than serious work. She asked if I knew how to tell if someone was a Jesuit. Apparently, all Jesuits answer questions by posing different questions, rather than answering the original question.

While this has not been my experience with the Society thus far, if I begin answering questions with other questions you'll all know why.

After questioning whether this Lady actually knew what she was talking about. It was off to the Cheesecake Factory no question about it. Mmmmm Cheesecake.

24 July 2006

Civ 4 and the Meaning of Life


---Warning, those unfamilar with the Civilization game series may find the following confusing.---

Those long summer afternoons, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, I'm invading the Roman Empire. Yes, summer means it's time to play Civilization. Nothing makes those long hot afternoons pass quite so nicely as sitting in the air-conditioning with some Gatoraid (global conquest is thirsty work) playing Civ 4.

One of my favorite parts of Civilization is when "great persons" are born in one of my cities. These super citizens are either: engineers, artists, religious figures, or scientists. A limited number of them are named after historical great persons. Though I disagree with some of the categorizations, particularly Pascal, who civilization describes as an engineer I believe. To label him in this way is to neglect his important mathematical and theological accomplishments. In any event, I'll get over it.

When I first started playing, I found these great people vaguely frustrating. The rub with great people is they are one time use in Civ 4. They can be used to accomplish a great task but whatever that task, it "consumes" them. Besides losing a good unit, there was something vaguely unsettling about these greatest of all units coming and going so quickly, and only getting to do one thing. Surely a great person should do lots of things.

The more I thought about this little quirk of the game, the more it made sense. Perhaps greatness is being consumed by just one thing. Granted living requires many varied activities, the difference is not so much in the activity as the motivation; the difference between living for something and simply living. In the first case, whatever something is consumes you and worms eventually get a chance too, in the second case, only the worms.

With purpose comes hope, because to hope is to hope for or in something. Simply living is hopeless, without object or direction. The actions of life move us in a direction. Perhaps greatness involves moving in the same direction, fixed on a goal. What is even greater still, moving in the right direction. For instance using your "great scientists" to build an Academy in the city with the highest research output, thus increasing research productivity by 50%.

Better to be the "great person" unit consumed in one great task than the warrior which spends the whole game directionlessly languishing in one of the cities, consuming resources while posessing minimal combat effectiveness.

Yes computer games, solving all of life's great mysteries. Though probably not the one thing to be consumed by in order to obtain greatness, but I could be wrong.

23 July 2006

El Cardoner


"Moving along intent on his devotion, he sat down for a moment with his face towards the river which there ran deep. As he sat, the eyes of his understanding began to open. He beheld no vision, but he saw and understood many things, spiritual as well as those concerning faith and learning. This took place with so great an illumination that these things appeared altogether new."

-The life of Father Ignatius



After mass, our family friend and my father's colleague Melinda present my father and I with a vile of water from the Cardoner River in the south of Spain. Last year on our trip to the Holy Land we brought water from the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee for Melinda, she graciously returned the aquatic favor, having just completed an Ignatian pilgrimage.

The passage above is from the autobiography St. Ignatius dictated a younger Jesuit towards the end of his life. Throughout Ignatius refers to himself in the third person or simply as "the Pilgrim". Father Ignatius's pilgrimage of life lead him from the pomp and circumstance of the court to the glory of the battlefield to a sickbed and finally to the bank of this relatively unimpressive river at a place called Manresa. It was here, in this lowly place as a beggar that God filled Ignites with understanding. The Society of Jesus owes its existence to the grace shown to Ignatius that day.

Water though common is very precious. It gives life; it also takes life away. On the shore of the gardener, Ignatius was immersed in the love of God and the vocation to respond to this love. As I prepare to enter the company of men Ignatius founded, my prayer is the I and the whole Society of Jesus may be immersed in the same mission which Ignatius found on that river bank. To do all things for the Greater Glory of God.

22 July 2006

Beautiful


I saw "The Devil Wears Prada" last night. In my humble opinion, it was very good. Merly Streep played an excellent fashion diva, though Merly Streep does an stunning job with just about any role she plays. I was also impressed with Anne Hathaway and Stanley Tucci. It takes a real man to wear that suit. This film is well worth seeing; I highly recommend it.

The film got me thinking about fashion as it relates to real beauty. Oscar Wilde once remarked: "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." Despite the changeability of fashion there is something compelling when it is done well. There is a beauty of line, form, and color. At best it highlights the beauty of the human form. In the abstract, fashion with this goal is a praiseworthy undertaking. All things being equal, better to be fashionable than not; I say this as a reasonably unfashionable, though well meaning, person.

What is more beautiful than highlighting the human form is highlighting action. People can look beautiful, so too they can live beautifully. This is the better part.

Like so many good things in life, exterior beauty is only good in balance. To neglect it completely is unfortunate, to neglect higher things for it even more so. The devil probably does wear Prada. Saints might be able to wear Gucci from time to time though.

17 July 2006

Vacation Wrap-up

We returned to beautiful Ohio yesterday evening. One of the best parts of going away is coming home though it was an enjoyable trip. Though an unusual trip by Dunch family standards, we don't usually do road trips. This particular holiday adventure clocked in at around 2,050 miles.

We started out heading for a family wedding in Rhode Island. I have certain issues with the state of Rhode Island, firstly, it is not in fact an island. Secondly, it is too small to be a proper state. Despite these shortcomings, it was a lovely occasion. My cousin and his wife live in New York City but decided to get married in Rhode Island to keep things small and intimate, only about 50 people were invited. I was actually surprised I made the invite list, considering the number of family members who were axed. This wedding was a weekend long affair and since all the guests were staying at the same place, it was like some sort of bizarre slumber party with my grandmother and a large number of bohemian New Yorkers in attendance.

Other than eating and wedding attending, there was not much to do in this little corner of Rhode Island, so I was forced to go to the beach. Once again, my poor opinion of the beach was confirmed. It's hot, sandy, crowed, and totally unpleasant. Beaches might be pretty to look at but that's about it. Even the beaches in Hawaii where I visited last summer, while some of the nicest in the world, do not hold a candle to a good day of hiking. But I digress.

The wedding itself was lovely. It was a civil service, but was conducted with great care and dignity. The best thing short of a sacramental marriage. Much better to have a meaningful civil marriage than a half-hearted church one.

So there you have it. Gerad and Elizabeth Argeros. Aren't they cute?

Next installment... Quebec City

14 July 2006

Montreal

Greetings from Montreal!

I've been surprised by the number of opportunites to check my email, etc... this trip, though I haven't been responding. Opportunities are plentiful but time at each is limited.

Everytime we go away, something awful seems to happen in the world: from OJ Simpson to Kosovo to Lebanon.

I'll be home Sunday, hopefully the world will settle down by then.

11 July 2006

Je me souviens

Bonjour de Quebec!

I`m currently writing from beautiful Quebec City, which I has thus far surpassed all my expectations. It`s really a lovely place. Narrow streets, interesting shops, picturesque scenery, many glorious churches, this place has it all. Not to mention good French food. Even the hotel we`re staying at is impressive. Tres Chic.

Yesterday we explored the Bascilique de S. Anne, a beautiful shrine and major site of pilgrimage to honor the mother of the mother of God. I`ll post more about this impressive shrine later.

Today, we`ll be visiting la Musee de Civilization, la haute ville, and hopefully having another amazing dinner.

Bon journee tout la monde!

09 July 2006

Rhode Island & Quebec

I'm currently at the Shelter Harbor Inn, in beautiful Rhode Island. I would specify a town but Rhode Island is so small, I don't think it's really necessary. My cousin Gerad was married to the beautiful Elizabeth last night in a lovely cerimony. It was a small but remarkably lively wedding, more on this some other time. Best wishes to Gerad and Elizabeth on their life together.

After Mass, I'm heading off to Quebec for the week.

Happy Sunday!

04 July 2006

Vacation


Today was an unusual Fourth of July at the Dunch house. This was the first year in quite a while we decided not to have a big Fourth of July party, since we're leaving for a trip at an insanely early hour tomorrow. As it happens, the weather turned out pretty awful which would have put a damper on any party.

Outside, a many of the neighborhood kids are gathered down the street. Our house is situated next to a small lake (about two acres). Every Fourth, people come down with literally truck loads of fireworks and shoot them off over the lake. The picture is just a small fraction of the fireworks set off a few years ago. Those not involved actively in the pyrotechnics watch from our or our neighbor's lawn. Owing to the rain, many people stayed in this year, including yours truly--there were 24 DVD's to be watched, and it was raining.

While I'm away, it is unlikely I'll have the opportunity or inclination to post. Pictures will be forthcoming when I return in a week and a half.

03 July 2006

Pro Sit


For the Latin deprived, I thought a brief explanation of the title of this blog is in order.

'Pro omnibus et singulis' means 'for all and for each'. This blog is not meant to be that far reaching, my limitations as a writer and linguist will ensure a more modest scope. The title of this blog is taken from a traditional prayer after mass. Specifically, the response given by the altar servers after the priest says, 'pro sit', idiomatically 'may it be to you benefit'.

This is a wonderful, though often neglected little prayer. It capture succinctly the relationship at mass between the individual, the community, and the world. The mass transcends individual piety, it is 'for all and for each', faith is 'for all and for each', the justice which faith call for is 'for all and for each'. This little prayer should be a reminder that the very personal act of prayer must eventually go beyond the individual.


In other news, my cousin is getting married on Saturday in Rhode Island. We're leaving for the wedding on Wednesday. It's remarkable the number of people I know who are getting married this summer. After the nuptials, my family and I are heading up to Quebec for a week. I will pretend to speak French.

A bientot

01 July 2006

Fender Bender

This morning I had the disturbing experience of waking up to my Dad yelling for me to get out of bed. For the first fifteen seconds, his voice was incorporated into my dream, though I don't recall quite how anymore. My little brother had gotten into a very minor auto accident and called home. The site of the accident was within walking distance of the house. We arrived to find his car with minor damage to the rear fender. The other driver had hit him in the rear in the middle of an intersection.

Normally, I standing on a bridge next to damaged cars with traffic rushing by is not my idea of a good time. However, the guy that hit my brother proved to be enjoyable company. He worked as a machinist for an industrial manufacturer. While we waited for the police officer to write his report, he regaled us with tail of machine accidents he's seen throughout the years. Everything from lost fingers to getting thrown across the room by mighty machine tools.

The whole incident was remarkably pleasant considering it was a car crash. I now know all about the more gruesome parts of machining, and the old Volvo is even more ghetto fabulous than it was previously, the bumper is currently being held on by a bungee cord. Sadly, though the damage was minor, this is probably the final nail in the coffin for the old Volvo. Still it's had a good run, much like the B-52 bomber it outlasted the vehicle purchased to replace it.