Thursday, October 10, 2013

A great read

I just finished reading this excellent piece. I am transcribing the first few, wonderful paragraphs...

Ever Ancient, Ever New: The Role of Beauty in the Restoration of Catholic Culture

When I began my seminary studies, I had only been a Catholic for a few years. I had converted to the Catholic Church during my undergraduate years at the University of Kansas through a course of studies in the Great Books called the Integrated Humanities Program. When I started seminary, I was still learning the ropes of Catholicism.

In my first semester, I discovered that new seminarians needed to find a spiritual director. A number of my brother seminarians recommended Fr. Anton Morganroth, one of our professors.

Fr. Morganroth was a Jewish convert to the Catholic faith who fled Nazi Germany with his family in 1938. He was a tall, imposing figure. He was both loved and feared by the seminarians.

One day I mustered up the courage to introduce myself to Fr. Morganroth and I asked him if he would take me on for spiritual direction. He gazed down at me in silence, sizing me up, and then simply said “report to my quarters next Tuesday at 7pm.”

After dinner in the refectory, Fr. Morganroth would return to his room to play his piano—he played brilliantly. If you had an appointment with him he would leave the door ajar. You were to simply push the door open and take a seat in a chair next to the piano.

I remember making my way down the hallway toward Fr. Morganroth’s rooms for the first time, hearing beautiful classical piano music coming from his room. The door was ajar. I stood outside the door for a moment and just listened to the music. Eventually I pushed the door open, entered the room and took a seat. He looked over at me from the piano and nodded in approval.

I sat there, listening to the music. There was a musical score on the piano—a Mozart sonata—but Fr. Morganroth had his eyes closed the whole time. He was not reading the music. A few minutes went by. Then five minutes. Then seven minutes. Finally ten minutes went by. He completed the piece and there was silence.

I’ll never forget that silence.

We were both caught up in the beauty of the moment. It was probably the first time I had ever really heard classical music at such close range. It was something like perfection.

After a few moments of silence, eager to get started, I broke the silence and said “so, Father, are we going to have spiritual direction?”

Fr. Morganroth turned. He stared right through me and said “son, zat was your spiritual direction, you can go now.”

I returned the next week and we began our regular sessions, which were wonderful. But it was the beauty of that music that led the way; that opened my heart and mind to the realities of the spiritual life.

... ... ... Continue reading this excellent by Bishop James D. Conley, STL piece here.

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