Friday, September 30, 2011

What's to a Name?

Hello, all ye faithful readers, (I’m listening to the theme from Superman, and I’m feeling all regal and such…thus the “ye.”)

Just this past Thursday, September 29, was the Feast of the Archangels in the Roman Catholic Church. As such, I’ve always found this feast interesting. The topic of angels is inexhaustible, and I’ve always found it quite fascinating. But before I get too off-track…to the point:

The names of the three Archangels have always fascinated me. Not so much the names as their traditional Hebrew meanings. I will give the meanings below, but first a note on the importance of names.

The name we give to something has such an incredible impact on the thing itself. Names define it. It gives it meaning. It allows us as humans to understand the things that are named. Whether it be people, places, things, descriptions, concepts, ideas; the reason we know what these things are is because of the name that is given to them. The name of a thing is the word that describes what it means to be that thing. The study of etymology, or where a word comes from, is a fascinating one. For example, the very word etymology comes from the Greek word etumon meaning “true meaning” and the Greek word logia which is itself derived from logos meaning “word, speech.” So, we get the study of the true meaning of the word. Another favorite of mine is circumbendibus, which comes from Latin roots, and is defined as, “a roundabout way of saying something in a roundabout way.”

For personal names, the meaning of the name gives it all that much more purpose and depth. I recently wrote an essay on the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, and discovered for myself the importance of the Name. To know one’s name is to know one. In the case of Christ, this is no different. Of course, I pray the Name of Jesus, not the name of Steve (or Chad or Greg or Melanie, for that matter.)

I encourage you to think about this. Ponder the importance of the name of Jesus. Pray with it.

Below are included a list of just a few Biblical names and their meanings.

Michael: From the Hebrew Mikha’el, meaning, “Who is like God?” A rhetorical question, the name implies that there is no one like God.

Gabriel: From the Hebrew Gavri’el, meaning, “Strength/Strong man of God.”

Raphael: From the Hebrew Rafa’el, meaning, “God’s healing.”

Samuel: From the Hebrew Shemu’el, meaning, “God has heard.”

Emmanuel: From the Hebrew Immanu’el, meaning, “God is with us.”

Adam: From the Hebrew word for, “Man.”

Andrew: From the Greek Andreas, derived from aner, means “Man."

Peter: This one is just too cool. So, in the Bible, Jesus tells Simon that he will be called Peter, the rock upon which the Church is built. In the original Aramaic, the name was Cephas and it means, “rock.” The Greek word for rock is Petras, where we Anglos get Peter. The Spanish word for rock is Pedras, where they get Pedro. The old French word for stone is Pierre.

Matthew: From the Hebrew Mattiyahu, meaning, “Gift of Yawheh.”

Jesus: From the Aramaic Yeshu’a, derived from Hebrew Yehoshu’a, meaning, “Yawhweh is salvation.”

For more names and their meanings, visit this website: Leave a comment if you find your name and its meaning.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Rather Yummy Thought

I was recently talking with a friend of mine about discernment, and I happened to stumble upon this analogy.

Maybe it was the picture of Pope Paul VI that my pastor gave me which is hanging in my room and staring down at me.

Maybe it was the Scripture passage lingering in my friend’s mind, the passage of Peter going out to meet Jesus walking on water.

Maybe it was because I was really hungry and forgot to eat lunch. (Note: most likely.)

But I thought up this analogy.

First, some background.

Being in the Bishop Simon Brute college seminary, I have been both discerning and not discerning at the same time. Discerning by nature that I am in a seminary for at least one purpose of discerning my place in life as called by God. Not discerning because I am simply trying to live the life and discern passively, not got too caught up in where I’m going so much as where I am. For me, the essence of discernment has to do with the question, not the answer. I believe that I will find the answer; I am searching for the question. To find the answer, I must first seek the question.

All that fun stuff.

Now, as I spoke to my friend, we were talking about how to discern when the discerning gets tough. When the pressure comes crashing down, and you need to make a decision and make it soon. How does one continue to trust in God when one feels completely and totally lost? How do I trust in God to guide me when I have no idea as to where I am or where I’m going?

The answer:


I love cake. I adore cake. I see cake as a higher calling of dessert, a unique and beautiful creation, flour-based, butter-enhanced, sugar-coated. My family has an unnatural and possibly unhealthy passion for those little icing flowers they put on cakes. It’s a fight…literally, a battle…over who gets to eat the flower off the cake. My dad almost always wins.

We are very much like cakes.

At least, the really, really weird ones.

Like banana cake. It’s mushy, it’s sticky, it spends more time glued to your teeth than it does on your taste buds.

Or Jell-O cake. Jell-O is Jell-O. Cake is cake. You don’t mix these things.

Or carrot cake. How can a cake made out of vegetables be any good? It’s an oxymoron.

Yet these are my father’s three favorite cakes (in order of least to greatest), and I can’t say I necessarily despise these (I can say I would risk facing my father’s wrath to eat the last piece, such is my love for them.)

But there are even weirder cakes. For example, lime-flavored strawberry dacqueri creampuff crumble cake (the example I gave my friend.) I have never in fact eaten this cake, (it sounds amazing) but you all know that one person who tries to make really weird cakes like that. But how do you think that person must feel when he’s making the cake? (For the sake of political correctness, he’s a ‘he,’ and his name is Herbert.)

Herbert is making the cake…but he has no idea what it’s going to taste like. He really hopes it will be good. The “creator” of the recipe said it would be. He wants to trust the creator, and he believes throughout the entire time he is preparing the cake, that it will be good. Occasionally, Herbert may feel the need to improve on the recipe by adding something different. But throughout his preparation, his seeking for this delicious flavor, his discernment of the cake he feels called to prepare, he believes that it will taste good.

And when Herbert takes it out of the oven, he tastes it.

And it was good.

We are like cakes. We do not know what we are called to be, we do not know how we will be made good. But we trust that we will be made good, and we try our hardest to be made good, like when Herbert added something that he thought would make the cake good.

Another thought:

Peter is the ultimate cake. Throughout Scripture, he is the ultimate flub. He doubts. He questions. He bursts with uncontrollable passion. He sins. He falls.

But in all this, Peter continues to strive for goodness. His hope in the Lord brings him through all these, and in the end, he is made good. He is made into the basis for the entire Catholic Church, the foundation, the rock. Peter represents the Church, the pope, all bishops, all priests. Peter represents us, the Church, in all our faults, in all our failures. But with the hope of God, we are made good. We believe that we will be made good.

We are cakes.

Mmmmm, cake.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Insights into Love

I like to journal sometimes when I pray. This is what come up in my journal this week. Not really sure what it means myself, but it's quite thought-provoking. Intriguing at the least. Give it a look.

I cannot love beyond what You loved. I cannot suffer beyond what You suffered. But then, it is Your suffering that allows me to love; and it is Your love that allows me to suffer. Why should my love and my suffering not be fulfilled and strengthened by the love and suffering by which I am made holy? And why should my love and my suffering not reflect , to the fullest, Your love and Your suffering?
Lord, let me love to the point of suffering, the point to which You loved, and let me suffer to that same point of love.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I’ve always thought of my life as being some legendary epic, a battle between forces of good and evil, a romantic love story between myself and whatever might be the object of my love and passions.

Then I realized the truth.

It is. And Disney knows it.

See, every one has these moments in their life. Whether or not they’re accompanied by brilliantly composed and excessively choreographed musical numbers is up to you (and how much you’re willing to look like an idiot in front of people.)

Life is a cycle; every one lives, every one loves, every one sins, every one ages, every one suffers, and every one dies.

But, every one also rises again.

I know I’m only 18, but I’m beginning to recognize this cycle of life, death, and resurrection in every good major literary work, artistic product, or even movie that I watch. (Note: keyword is “good.”) Specifically, I’m seeing this pattern in Disney movies. While the nature of these movies is children-oriented and, therefore, the good guys never die and the bad guys always lose, the cycle still applies. Take a look at the pattern of songs again.

The Prerequisite: In the context of life, this would essentially be birth and discovering the world around you.

Ambitious Song: This kind of takes place in late childhood/early adolescence. We begin to discover who we are and what we want to do, namely in general terms such as do good things that we enjoy.

New Beginning Song: Adolescence. The teen years. It’s like a whole new world. (haha…haha…haha…nobody?) It’s a new beginning in the biggest sense of the term. This is when we finally become who we were meant to be, and we’re ready to take on the world.

Love Song: In contrast to the above statement, this is when we all decide to forget about taking on the rest of the world and just focusing on one, really small (albeit usually very beautiful) part of it. Falling in love is a practically universal experience, so I don’t think there’s much need to elaborate here. You all know what I’m talking about.

Bad Guy Song: Okay, so…maybe we don’t all have one guy in particular who wears a lot of dark colors, has a deep and eery voice, is prone to cackling, hangs out in evil lairs with an evil henchman of some sort (often animal in nature), and plots against our lives and well-being. (Although, I’m pretty sure I do, and its name rhymes with Nathebatics.) But this is more representative of the moment when evil really finally enters our lives. Every one has their one cross, their one bad habit, vice, sin, that they deal with through their entire life. Sometimes it changes with time, but there’s always something. So, ergo, a bad guy.

Conflict Song: This one reoccurs often, whenever we get beat down by life and feel like giving up. But, like heroes of old (be it Homeric or Disney), we don’t give up, and that’s what counts. It’s not how many times you fall down, but how many times you get back up. That kind of thing.

Renewal Song: So…this might sound harsh, and maybe even kinda grim, but…this victorious anthem of joy never really comes in life. Death is the renewal. But it’s Christ’s victory over the grave that allows us to achieve that ultimate renewal and happiness in our resurrection at His hands.

And, so the cycle goes, again and again. Generally, in every life, from birth to death to renewal; life to death to resurrection. But also, in small things. Childhood. In a sense, we die to childhood. It passes, and we can’t go back. But we’re born into adolescence. Then, we die to our teenagedom and are born into manhood. Then die from manhood into elder age, then from elder age into Heaven.

But it’s not a grim or dark thought at all. This is life. And it’s beautiful.

I hope this hasn’t been a total waste of your time. Just some thoughts I had while reflecting on the Christian life while, at the same time, listening to Disney music.

God Bless your life, your death, and your eventual resurrection in Christ!