Georgetown Marian Procession

This morning I went to 7:30am Mass at Epiphany in Georgetown for the Feast of the Assumption. And at 7pm I walked back to Epiphany for their Marian Procession through Georgetown, from 27th and Dumbarton to Wisconsin, and then down Wisconsin and along M Street, and finally back up 27th to Epiphany.

We prayed the Rosary and at each decade the priests leading the procession offered a meditation on Mary as our mother. “Beauty is attractive,” it was said at one point, “but holiness is inspiring.” As we walked along, pointing in our way to Mary’s holiness, I thought about how far away from that I often feel. And as I thought this I heard Philippians: We’re here to work out our salvation. We sang between decades—Hail Holy Queen, Enthroned Above, and Immaculate Mary.

As we stood in front of Epiphany at the end, one of the women led us in singing the Salve Regina:

Salve, Regina, mater
misericordiae:
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra,
salve.
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et
flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia ergo, Advocata nostra,
illos tuos misericordes oculos
ad nos converte.
Et lesum, benedictum fructum
ventris tui,
nobis, post how exsilium
ostende.
O clemens: O pia: O dulcis
Virgo Maria.

Dumbarton Oaks Garden

I visited Dumbarton Oaks Garden today for the first time, alongside a friend whose idea it was to go. It’s in Georgetown, and only a few blocks from home, but it feels like you’re in the country:

In 1920, after a long and careful search, Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss found their ideal country house and garden within Washington, DC. They purchased a fifty-three-acre property, described as an old-fashioned house standing in rather neglected grounds, at the highest point of Georgetown. Within a year, the Blisses hired landscape gardener Beatrix Farrand to design the garden. Working in happy and close collaboration for almost thirty years, Mildred Bliss and Beatrix Farrand planned every garden detail, each terrace, bench, urn, and border. The upper sixteen acres were transferred to Harvard University in 1940 to establish a research institute for Byzantine studies, Pre-Columbian studies, and studies in the history of gardens and landscape architecture.

Scenes of Washington in August

I’ve been running a lot lately. I tend to run more often in August, probably because you start to have that sense that summer will end sooner than you’d like and that you should be outside as much as possible. Yesterday had a great nine mile run through Georgetown and then past the YMCA in Arlington and back. Today, I’m looking back on these scenes from the past few days.

This last photo is the facade of the National Press Building on F Street/Pennsylvania Avenue earlier this morning.

‘The things they did together’

I’m at Nationals Park this afternoon for Atlanta v. Washington. And I’m reading David Mills, who writes about masculinity and virtue:

I don’t disagree with all the talk about the challenges men face. Some writers may carry the idea too far, but our society offers no clear guide to what a man does and is. It speaks more clearly about men’s failings and sins than about men’s virtues and calling. Of course some men will feel lost without more guidance, especially if they grew up in a broken family. People sneeringat male insecurity are both uncharitable and unrealistic, and often trying to gain an ideological advantage, and often weirdly dependent on stereotypes. …

Better, I think, to find out what being a man means through friendship with other men. To do guy stuff not because you want to act like a guy, but because guys do guy stuff without thinking about it when they’re together. To find when doing men’s work with other men — to a great extent unconsciously — what a man does and is. …

This requires some care in making friends, of course, and in choosing the common interest which leads to standing side by side with your friends. The more virtuous and wiser the friends, the more they will show you about being men. The better and higher the common interest, the more pursuing it with them will show you about being men. …

The soon to be sainted John Henry Newman gives us a very good example of this. He was the virtuous and wise friend other men sought out, but he looked for religiously serious men and then carefully cultivated deep friendships with them.

The things they did together were worthy enterprises, beginning with he and his friends’ effort as young Oxford dons not only to teach but (because they were ministers as well as teachers) to form their students. Then came the Oxford Movement Newman helped lead, which tried to recover and invigorate what they thought was the Church of England’s essential Catholicism. A worthy work, one into which good men could throw themselves, if one he came to see was misguided.

You can see something of the effect of friendship in Newman’s final Anglican sermon, preached when he’d decided to enter the Catholic Church. It was a move that would separate him from many friends, such was the feeling about the Church in the world he was leaving.

He ended “The Parting of Friends” with a moving request. It indirectly says something about how a man may help another man be a man. [Newman writes:]

“O my brethren, O kind and affectionate hearts, O loving friends,” he begins, should you know any one whose lot it has been, by writing or by word of mouth, in some degree to help you thus to act; if he has ever told you what you knew about yourselves, or what you did not know; has read to you your wants or feelings, and comforted you by the very reading; has made you feel that there was a higher life than this daily one, and a brighter world than that you see; or encouraged you, or sobered you, or opened a way to the inquiring, or soothed the perplexed; … remember such a one in time to come, though you hear him not, and pray for him, that in all things he may know God’s will, and at all times he may be ready to fulfil it.”

Riffing off of Philip D. Halfacre’s Genuine Friendship, it can be tough to remember that it’s in the doing of things together that we have the chance to demonstrate virtue. In the real, concrete, and particular.

Potomac at sunset

What do you do in times when you feel absolutely alone?

I think we all have times where we feel this way—sometimes as a part of daily life, sometimes as a result of heartache, sometimes as a result of trauma, sometimes from a sense of failure or inadequacy, or other longing. I think most of us can identify on some level with C.S. Lewis’s observation that, “Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travelers.” A common part of aloneness is probably that feeling of “going nowhere.”

In reading Philip D. Halfacre’s Genuine Friendship today, I’m reminded that our way out of this terrible aloneness is, at its heart, in the striving for heroic virtue. It’s been said that “virtue is its own reward,” and I realize that doesn’t simply mean “doing good is good,” but that, because it is in our nature as human beings to relate to one another, virtue inherently involves right relating to those around us. Virtue is its own reward because it is the basis from which other goods flow.

In Genuine Friendship, Philip D. Halfacre writes:

There is a likeness, a similarity between God and us, and that similarity is found in our personhood. We have personhood in common with God; and persons, because they are persons, seek interpersonal union. The personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II provides fresh insights into the way we look at God and into the way we look at ourselves. It is part of the personalist philosophy that we acquire insights about ourselves by reflecting on the personhood of God and that we acquire insights about God by reflecting on human persons.

Because we were made in God’s image, we desire at our deepest level to live in union with other persons. The human person grasps long before the age of reason that possessing the good to the fullest cannot be done in solitude. As we grow and mature, our understanding of the role that people have in our lives develops more fully. This is more than saying that we humans are social beings. We desire to live in union with others not simply because it helps us meet biological needs, but as the bishops at the Second Vatican Council said, “man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.”

A principal theme of this book is that love is the gift of one’s self, a gift that brings about interpersonal union. This is how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit love each other. It is a love that unites. And, though not always felt, it is real. We must not make the mistake of reducing all love merely to the experience of feeling love. Love is the gift of self, and we can give a small gift or a large gift. When I was a boy, there was a retired gentleman who lived several houses down the street. I was about seven-years-old, and he was in his seventies. In the summertime, I would often go down to his house and sit outside with him. I even had my own little pint-sized chair. We would sit and visit. Though we did not think of it in these terms, we each made a gift of self to the other. It was a small gift—but a gift nonetheless. The experience of the gift of self and the interpersonal union that is created thereby is what I call intimacy.

Imagine two friends who have known each other for many years. They have reached the point where they have no fear of revealing their deepest secrets. Besides feeling free to speak about very private things, they are genuinely concerned about the welfare of the other and are willing to make personal sacrifices for the other’s well-being. Here we see a greater gift of self than in the previous example. The union is deeper, and so is the intimacy. Intimacy must not be thought of in an exclusively sexual or romantic way. There is certainly intimacy in sexual love—but non-sexual relationships can be intimate as well. The experience of intimacy is the feeling of being connected with another. It is the sense that somehow my life is a part of your life, and vice versa.

What happens when one experiences intimacy with no one? Then one has the experience, the feeling, of aloneness.

This is one of the most important graphs in the book:

Finally, healthy relating—the kind found in healthy friendships and happy marriages—is a matter of virtue. Great friends, great spouses, begin as great men and great women. It is hard to be a really good friend all the time. That is why we seldom see it. Great lovers love even when their love is not reciprocated. That is hard to do, especially over the long haul. And loving people well means loving them virtuously, which means that all love must be based on and rooted in truth.

Catholic University scenes

It’s been a beautiful week at Catholic University of America for the Civitas Dei fellowship, which has been taking place in Maloney Hall—the home of the Tim & Steph Busch School of Business. I haven’t been able to attend every session, but those I’ve been present for have helped me think more deeply and more seriously about the commitments we’re making (or not making) to advance the common good in our society.

What I haven’t captured here is the torrential rain that kicked off the week on Monday morning, that caused flash flooding across the city. But even when it has rained, it’s been that warm-ish summer rain that leaves you wet, but not miserable.

Civitas Dei

We spent Independence Day weekend in Virginia in Front Royal and Manassas, and I’m back in Washington tonight at Catholic University and the Dominican House of Studies. I’ll be a part of the Civitas Dei Summer Fellowship this week:

The Civitas Dei Summer Fellowship (sponsored by the Thomistic Institute and the Institute for Human Ecology at The Catholic University of America) supports rising scholars seeking to better understand the Catholic intellectual tradition. This summer’s program will examine the search for happiness as a fundamental end of the person and the polis. Applications will be accepted from graduate students and advanced undergraduates in all disciplines.

The week-long seminar will introduce students to foundational themes in philosophy, political theory, and theology, dealing with law, personhood, political life, and the search for happiness. The focus will be an introduction to foundations of political and moral theory of Augustine, Aquinas, and modern constitutional jurisprudence. The program will include visits to institutions in Washington, DC, as well as encounters with outstanding Catholic public figures. The seminar is an excellent way to think theoretically about the intersection of political theory, moral principles, and practical engagement, in the heart of the nation’s capital.

Adrian Vermeule
Ralph S. Tyler, Jr. Professor of Constitutional Law
Harvard Law School

Adrian Vermeule is the Ralph S. Tyler, Jr. Professor of Constitutional Law. Before coming to the Law School, he was the Bernard D. Meltzer Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. The author or co-author of nine books, most recently Law’s Abnegation: From Law’s Empire to the Administrative State (2016), The Constitution of Risk (2014) and The System of the Constitution (2012). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012. His research focuses on administrative law, the administrative state, the design of institutions, and constitutional theory. Having grown up in Cambridge and attended Harvard College ’90 and Harvard Law School ’93, Vermeule lives in Cambridge still.

Fr. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P.
Professor of Moral Theology, Dominican House of Studies
Prior of the Dominican House of Studies

Fr. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., is the prior of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC, where he also teaches moral theology. He obtained his doctorate from the university of Fribourg (Switzerland), defending a dissertation on St. Thomas Aquinas’s doctrine of the common good. Fr. Guilbeau has also worked for various Catholic media, including The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM Radio, EWTN Radio, and Aleteia.org.

Chad C. Pecknold, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, The Catholic University of America
Faculty Fellow of The Institute for Human Ecology

Chad C. Pecknold is an associate professor of systematic theology. He teaches in the areas of fundamental theology, Christian anthropology, and political theology, with a particular interest in Saint Augustine’s City of God. As a commentator on the Church and contemporary politics, Dr. Pecknold has appeared on a wide variety of other news programs from NPR and PBS, to FOX, CNBC, Voice of America, and the BBC. c policy to natural science, technology, and the environment.

Dumbarton birdsong

I was on Dumbarton Street in Georgetown, early one morning a few weeks ago, and heard the birds singing. Georgetown is a neighborhood that feels absolutely covered by trees, and so it’s like a refuse amidst the wider city (or at least compared to the downtown) where birds can rest and sing:

When is the last time you’ve made the time to hear the birds?

Leonine concludes

Since October, I’ve been attending monthly sessions of the Leonine Forum at the Catholic Information Center on K Street, along with about 45 other Washington fellows:

During a year-long program of intellectual and spiritual seriousness, the Leonine Forum educates these men and women in the core tenets of the Social Teaching of the Church and its practical application, and invites them into a larger community of Leonine Alumni and leaders committed To integrating those teachings within their professional and civic lives.

Intellectual Formation

In monthly sessions led by Catholic thought leaders from around the country, Leonine Fellows grapple with some of the most important questions at the intersection of faith and public life.

Spiritual Development

Living a fully-integrated Catholic life is an activity not only of the mind, but also of the body and spirit. Accordingly, Leonine Fellows will have the chance to supplement these intellectual endeavors with opportunities for Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, confession, and spiritual direction.

Cultural Engagement

Leonine Fellows have opportunities to engage with the broader culture as informed and articulate advocates through civic engagement, service work, and employment and networking opportunities.

Community Service

Understanding that we are called to love our brothers and sisters, Leonine Fellows and Alumni have the opportunity to participate in service work as a group on a regular basis.

Last night I attended the tenth and final session for our cohort at The Yard in Eastern Market. Leonine has been a great experience, with speakers ranging from Arthur Brooks and George Weigel to Mary Hasson, Fr. Dominic Legge, Carter Snead, Ryan Anderson, Stephen P. White, Chad Pecknold, Fr. Paul Scalia, and others.

I think applications are open for most, if not all, of next year’s cohorts.