• Farmers Market at Monroe Street Market

    Monroe Street Market in Brookland is a special part of Washington, DC. Monroe Street Market was conceived and built starting about a decade ago by The Catholic University of America and Bozzuto, a redevelopment of the university’s lands that had run down dorms on them and little else.

    Today, Monroe Street Market is home to 500+ homes across four apartment buildings: Cornerstone, Brookland Works, Portland Flats, and Everton. It’s only a small part of the Brookland neighborhood, but it was built so thoughtfully that it has many of the qualities of the perfect town. It’s walkable, close to Metro, build with placemaking in mind from branding to permanent outdoor seating to fountains, and it has a variety of restaurants and shops (but not enough) open during much of the day.

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  • We walked over to The Catholic University of America’s Heritage Hall on Sunday night for “An Italian Evening,” a concert hosted by Catholic University’s Chamber Orchestra and the Italian Cultural Society of Washington, DC.

    Kendall Waters describes Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony:

    “Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony was composed not to introduce uniquely Italian melodies and forms to the rest of Europe but rather to provide the composer’s impressions of what he experienced during his Italian travels. What each movement might have been intended to represent, of course, is subject to speculation. The first movement, which opens with one of the most recognizable symphonic melodies in the repertory, seems to swoop and skip like leaves in the wind. The second, contemplative and solemn, might call to mind a religious procession such as those Mendelssohn witnessed in Rome. The third movement is more restrained than the boisterous fist movement, but it retains the light sweetness of the symphony’s opening. The final movement is a marked departure from European art music convention. Instead of utilizing an expected musical form, Mendelssohn labeled this movement a saltarello, a folk dance from southern Italy. By ending the Italian Symphony with a saltarello, Mendelssohn demonstrated that the use of folk music idioms could be an effective tool in a composer’s toolbox.”

    The concert program:

    Preludio to Act I of La traviata (Giuseppe Verdi)

    Marionette (Teresa Procaccini)
    Allegro spiritoso
    Tempo di Valzer
    Allegro brillante

    Concerto No. 2 in B minor for Double Bass (Giovanni Bottesini)
    Allegro moderato

    Symphony No. 4 “Italian” (Felix Mendelssohn)
    Allego vivace
    Andante con moto
    Con moto moderato
    Saltarello – Presto

  • St. Anthony of Padua’s Votive of Thanksgiving

    MaryKate (26) and I (34) were among the oldest present at the final extraordinary form mass last Tuesday at St. Anthony of Padua in Brookland in Washington, DC.

    St. Anthony of Padua has been our parish since we moved to the neighborhood last year and is one of hundreds of parishes across the United States where the mass of our ancestors—the extraordinary form, the Tridentine Mass, the Old Mass, the usus antiquior, etc.—has been suppressed as a result of Pope Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis Custodes. We’re not frequenters of the extraordinary form, but we have both been grateful for its accessibility, faithfulness, reverence, and vitality. We find our spiritual gaze elevated in distinctive ways through this liturgical expression of the mass. There is obvious loss in the loss of this mass, and so we wanted to be there for this final mass at St Anthony of Padua before restrictions took effect on September 21st.

    St. Anthony offered its final mass as “a Votive of Thanksgiving for all the graces poured out through the Old Mass in all the parishes of the Archdiocese.” The extraordinary form mass continues nearby at the Fransiscan Monastery, though this too may be suppressed when the norms are reviewed in three years.

    As a husband and father, I am now acutely aware of how crucial it is that the mass be as accessible as possible for the widest number as possible—especially the many young men to whom this mass speaks so powerfully. We’re living through a time of spiritual poverty on so many fronts. We need God. We need spiritual nourishment amidst the spiritual deserts of our culture.

    Trusting in God and in the Holy Father’s pastoral care, we can be content in knowing that God is always good and that time is a great thickener of things.

  • Near Leesburg

    Near Leesburg

    We spent Saturday out near Leesburg, Virginia in part for Leonine Forum’s Fall Picnic. The colors this time of year are fantastic, with the brightness of summer and the first hints of fall. We had to drive more than an hour outside of Washington just to start getting past grey suburbia.

    We picked up fresh honey on the way home, still with part of the honeycomb in the jar.

  • Nighttime McGivney Hall view

    I took these earlier this week, one night around 8pm when I was leaving McGivney Hall at The Catholic University of America in Brookland in Washington, DC. The first photo below shows the view from the front steps of McGivney, with a view of the Dominican House of Studies across Michigan Avenue.

    The second photo shows the view from the same front steps when looking right, toward the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

  • C&O Canal Towpath half marathon

    On Saturday I ran my first half marathon since the 2019 Georgetown Half. I ran the Abebe Bikila Day International Peace Half along the C&O Canal Towpath in Washington.

    It was a beautiful morning for a run, still feeling like summer. I started at 7am and finished just after 9am for a time of 2 hours, 4 minutes.

    I had registered for the full marathon—which I most recently ran at this event last September—but was not feeling well for much of the run and decided to call time at the half. I’ve completed seven marathons so far and want to run one more—that will have to wait for another time.

    Fletcher’s Cove, the starting/turn-around/end point for the run, was night-and-day different just before 7am and just after 9am. This is the view of the C&O canal—the Potomac lies just beyond the trees in the view from the second photo.

  • Campus walk in late summer

    One of the greatest benefits of living in the city is being able to walk—whether walking to run an errand or simply walking for pleasure. We live near The Catholic University of America and walking on campus is a particular pleasure, where traffic is at a minimum and there are plenty of green spaces. It’s a great place to walk to let your mind roam, to bring a laptop and work, to do calls, or whatever.

    We shouldn’t take for granted either the beauties of the places we live.

  • Dr. Peter Kilpatrick, the new president of The Catholic University of America, delivered remarks at the Mass of the Holy Spirit—a mass that marks the opening of the academic year—that took place yesterday in Washington, DC:

    Peter Kilpatrick has a background in the hard sciences but on Thursday, the new president of The Catholic University of America spoke about matters of the soul.

    Addressing students, faculty, and staff for the first time since assuming his new post on July 1, the 65-year-old chemical engineer discussed the importance of seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. …

    “The Spirit will not prey upon your insecurities or make false and overblown promises. Nor will the Spirit shrink your soul to fit worldly purposes,” he said. 

    “Instead, the Spirit of the Lord will show you your authentic worth and guide you toward true happiness.” 

    He encouraged students to ask “life’s big questions.”

    “Who are you? What is the meaning and purpose of your life? Where will your happiness lie? How do you become the person you most want to be?” he said.

    “These questions will determine the trajectory of your life,” Kilpatrick said, adding his recommendation to “ask them of the Holy Spirit.”

    The university’s 16th president, Kilpatrick, a Catholic convert, succeeds John Garvey, who led the school for 12 years.

    Kilpatrick previously served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Illinois Institute of Technology from 2018 to 2022. Before that he was a professor and dean at the University of Notre Dame and was a longtime faculty member at North Carolina State University.

    Meanwhile Catholic University’s brand-new Garvey Hall, named in honor of former President John Garvey, is a welcome addition to campus.

  • Bad, even in the best light

    I took this photo while at a red light on Leesburg Pike in Falls Church, Virginia near Bailey’s Crossroads.

    What we’re seeing is a whole built environment, an entire intentionally crafting landscape, in what is probably literally its best possible light. And still, nearly everything is still bad and suggests a lack of intention.

    A gargantuan, undistinguished, glum-to-look-at rectangular apartment tower, with another just off to the left. Super-tall highway-style street lamps. Traffic lights strung across suspension-wire. An intersection too large for the youngest and oldest living nearby to cross comfortably. A thin median offering no protection from oncoming traffic that might jump the meager curb height. A sea of asphalt.

    The trees and modest shrubs are arguably the only soft and attractive things in this scene. The apartment tower would look all the more titanic without those two large trees obscuring its lower floors.

    They’ll tell us this is normal, but all that has been normalized is banality.

  • Brookland neighborhood scenes

    After being away for most of the summer, it’s good to be back home in Washington and to be enjoying the last weeks of summer. I’m spending today working outside:

    A few Brookland neighborhood scenes.