{ 7 Quick Takes - Vol 13 }

It's turned a bit chilly here in ATX and not knowing quite what to with myself I have decided to embark on a 7 Quick Takes that will be inspiring and uplifting to ones soul. A magnum opus that will inspire the hearts of downtrodden men.  A list so moving that people will contemplate its meaning in times of oppression if only to grasp an idea of a time long gone and draw hope...

Or...maybe I'll just let y'all know what's been going on. Ya. That will take a lot less time. 

 
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
— Charles Dickens 'A Tale of Two Cities'

-1-

Quick update to my last Quick Takes regarding photo backup. After searching around for a bit I came upon a service that I believe will give me some peace of mind. It's called Mosaic Archive and the two things I like most about it are 1) works right into my Lightroom workflow without requiring Lightroom to be open and 2) it allows for RAW backup. It's all backed up onto Amazon servers so no worries about server redundancy. Price is really reasonable and the only limitation that I really experience is the speed of my upload data stream. I've decided to stage the consolidation for now and only have brought together my existing Lightroom catalogs to begin key wording and editing (oh, if I had only started with a proper DAM workflow). What that means is that I've combined only about 28K photos so far and have only uploaded about 10.5K photos. Next step will be to gather iPhoto catalogs across different computers and any orphaned files that are all over my HD's. Baby steps...

-2-

I'm usually late to the party on many things but I just saw this. Have y'all seen this kid? Serious vocal chops!  Also, what a great song from the late Luther Vandross, "Dance with my father". Beautiful song.

-3-

Speaking (or is it singing) of Fathers I wrote a blog post earlier this week about being a Dad and some of the little moments of grace I've come across over the last couple of weeks. Feel free to chime in on how God has come to teach you how to be a better parent. I'd love to learn more on the things I'm missing.

Transient

-4-

Locally (Austin, TX) produced 'Two Guys a Girl and a Catholic Podcast' has released their latest episode (#93).  Check it out here or on iTunes.

-5-

For those of you who missed Anthony Esolen's article regarding the upcoming decisions regarding the Boy Scouts I urge you to read this piece and actually any other piece he has written for various websites.

-6-

For the iPhoneographers out there I seriously recommend checking out the iPhone app 645 PRO! I'll probably be putting together a post about it and what it offers but, especially if you want to take quality B&W photographs, this is a great app to have in your arsenal.  I started with film and sometimes miss film but this app allows me to have some of the controls and film grain looks of some of my old film stock.  Check it out!

-7-

Made it out to the Matt Maher concert last night and it was great.  Though I'm a big fan of Maher the one who stole the show for me was Chris August.  I was already familiar with a couple of his songs just from the radio - my favorite being 'Center of It' - but the set he played was really impressive.  Dude has some serious guitar and vocal chops.  His set up was basically a guitar, computer and microphone and he just laid a serious groove with a bluesy/gospel feel.  Video below is obviously not his song nor is he playing guitar but I really like the song.  Hope everyone has a great week!

Remember to check out other 7 Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary

{ Deus Caritas Est }

{ Confession, Grace and Fatherhood }

I love being a dad. It can be hard and frustrating at times. I will lose my temper or run out of patience. I can react without just cause handing out punishments that are maybe too harsh for the transgression committed. There are times when I don't give my children their chance to voice their case as I'm done with hearing anymore ... from anyone. In a nutshell, I sin.

I can offer excuse after excuse to justify my reactions...

"It's been a long day"
"I'm stressed about work"
"It's their fault. They just don't stop"
etc., etc...

And, sometimes these are true statements. But the real truth of the matter is sometimes it's simply me giving in to the struggle with my own weakness and giving myself permission to act as I probably shouldn't. I know this in my heart of hearts...if I allow myself the time to reflect on myself and my actions. That is hard. No one really likes to hold up the mirror to themselves to see their 'ugliness' but it is essential to continue to grow as a person. As a dad.

Aquinas tells us that grace perfects nature. This truth has become more clear every year. That this perfection of my nature is essential to not only my person as a child of God but also in the daily duties of my vocation as a father and a husband.

Since therefore grace does not destroy nature but perfects it, natural reason should minister to faith as the natural bent of the will ministers to charity.
— Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 1, Article 8, Response to Objection 2.

We are all called to holiness. This is easier said than done. Especially if you are the dad penning this post. I'll be the first to admit that it is easy to give myself a pass simply because I'm a dad. A dad with 6 kids. A dad with 6 kids who is not monetarily rich by any stretch of the imagination. Easy to give myself a pass because (fill in the blank).

The last few weeks have been a real period of introspection and, simply put, grace. A grace that has allowed me to see my own 'ugliness' and the grace to overcome some of it. 

One of the best analogies I've heard regarding sin and its effect on our soul is that our soul can be likened to a vessel and grace  likened to water. Now, sins effect on the soul is like a crack in the vessel. The larger the sin the larger the crack and as God tries to fill our soul with grace it it too damaged to hold that grace. In essence, the vessel has lost its ability to fulfill its nature. Confession returns the vessel to a state without cracks and therefore can be filled again.

Rembrandt_Prodigal son.jpg

One of my absolute favorite parables in the bible is 'The Prodigal Son'. It's a story that has always resonated with me since I was a young boy. Just last year Jenn and I attended a First Communion workshop with Dominic as part of his preparation. During one of the 'sharing' times I found myself recounting the story to him and not being able to hold back the tears as I got to the point where the father runs out to his son to embrace him and welcome him home. The father runs! 

But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
— Luke 15:20

One other thing that is not plainly stated but can be inferred by the phrase 'at a distance'...the father was always looking for him. Hoping for his return. Always looking out onto the horizon waiting for the day that his son would return. And with the return comes the embrace. The acceptance back into the family. The kiss. A sign of the forgiveness and love poured out by the father. 

In my own life I've always been like the son. Though sorry for my transgressions, my entry into the confessional has been more formulaic than anything else. There's a ritual to the sacrament and it is easy for me to come up with a way of confessing my sin using a sentence structure that 'softens the blow'. It confesses the sin but allows me to save face - something that is basically the opposite of confession. It is valid - and even heartfelt - though almost medical in its style of reporting the sin. A reservedness. I will share that I typically choke up during the Act of Contrition so there is contrition but that is still after a guarded confession.

All that changed a couple of weeks ago during my last confession. Something in me was tired of giving in to the weakness of my will. I entered into confession with a sense of abandonment. I was sorry, as all other times before, but this time I longed for a Father more than just the forgiveness. I longed for the person and not for just what that person could do. I confessed like no other time before. There was no selection of just the right phrase or turn of words. It was just a son saying 'I'm sorry and I need - truly need - your grace and though I am not worthy I still long for that love and compassion...a father that will run out to greet his son back into his arms'. 

Every human being comes from the hand of God, and we all know something of God’s love for us. Whatever our religion, we know that if we really want to love, we must first learn to forgive before anything else.
— Mother Teresa

I have two younger sons who are quick tempered and will lash out either verbally or physically depending on the situation. This is something that is common among boys and I understand this. What I do not tolerate is when they lash out at their mother. They both know this. 

One night a week or so ago one of them had lost his temper and made the unfortunate decision to take it out on his mother. I was not home at the time and therefore was not there to reprimand him. When I came home I found him sitting in one of our chairs just looking sad. After saying goodnight to everyone who already were in bed and Jenn explaining to me what had happened I walked back out to him to reprimand him. 

As I walked towards him I could see in his eyes and in his face that he was remorseful. Truly sorry. In that moment I knew that he didn't need me to tell him what he did was wrong. He knew that. What he did need was forgiveness. I picked him up in my arms and sat down with him in my lap and just held him. Embraced him. Kissed him. As the tears ran down his cheek and I could feel the tension in his body melt away I whispered to him, "it's ok. I love you" and we just sat there. Together.

You see all these years my perspective has been that of the prodigal son but within that moment with my son I was given the grace to feel the mercy and love of the Father for his children and in that grace to be a better dad. Grace does perfect nature.

{Deus Caritas Est}