Friday, October 30, 2009

Our visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe


Last Saturday (10/23/09) Molly and I were able to arrange for my parents to watch the kids while we took a trip to LaCrosse, WI to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This was super exciting for us, as we had long wanted to visit the Shrine, not only for great opportunities for prayer but also to see the stunning architecture and beautiful art. Duncan Stroik, a classical architect from the University of Notre Dame who is renewing the Catholic tradition in sacred architecture, designed the Shrine, and Anthony Visco created much of the sculpture and paintings that are at the Shrine. This is as good a one-two punch as the Catholic Church in the U.S. can get.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is given the title "Patroness of the Americas" by the Church because of her fundamental role in the conversion of Mexico to Christianity. For background on the 1531 apparition of Mary to St. Juan Diego, I highly recommend doing the following:

1. First watch the movie Apocalypto, which sets the context of what was occurring in the early 16th century in Mexico just prior to when Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego. The seemingly endless daily slaughter of thousands of innocent people as sacrifices to false Gods was rampant.

2. Read the short book (119 pages) called Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness, which reads like a gripping novel and describes how the Spanish came to Mexico and what they found when they arrived and how Our Lord used the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to cause the conversion of millions to Christianity.

If you have less time, here is a good link with the story of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and here's a recent reminder of the fact that the image Mary left in Juan Diego's tilma is truly miraculous and "Completely beyond scientific explanation."

We once again put our camera and camcorder to good use when we were at the Shrine, and I put together the following summary of our visit:

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Evan's installation as acolyte


My brother Evan, a seminarian at the St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, MN, was installed as an acolyte a week ago (what might be considered the second "step" in a four step process of eventually becoming a priest - lector, acolyte, deacon, priest). Here are a few pictures of Evan (who now can wear clerics in certain instances!) and the chapel at the St. Paul Seminary.

The seminarians and candidates for the permanent diaconate pictured with Bishop Kinney from the Diocese of St. Cloud, MN (Evan in the center in the back row)

Looking toward the back of the seminary chapel

Me and Evan

Me, Molly, Evan, my Mom, and my Dad

As a bonus, if you've ever wondered what an actual ordination to the priesthood is like, you have to check out this fantastic video (only a minute and half in length). Enjoy!

Monday, October 19, 2009

10.19.09 Construction Update


Well, the concrete floor has been poured and now the radiant heat tubing that we installed is safely encased in a solid mass of concrete. Here's a short video update...

The project is mostly on pause right now while we wait for the structural insulated panels to be fabricated and delivered, which is actually great timing since it's going to be a wash out tomorrow and Wednesday for sure (and potentially it will rain the entire rest of this week). The great news is that the panels are actually going to be done and ready for delivery either toward the end of this week or early next week! Then framing will finally begin and the house will start taking shape.

In regard to another item, our well was also installed and completed last week. They ended up having to go 240 feet down (!) to get access to a big enough aquifer. This was bad news for us since you pay by the foot for the well digging, and we were budgeted for 100-120 feet. But, such is home building. Our dirt fill for the grading around the foundation came in way under budget, so in many ways it evens out in the end. One thing I'm particularly excited about is that we decided to invest a little extra money in the completely awesome Grudfos Constant Pressure Pump for the well.

This pump gives city water pressure even though you have a well, and constantly adjusts its pressure output to meet demand. It also has a two gallon holding tank that resides in the garage (or mechanical room) and holds pressurized water so that as soon as a faucet or shower turns on there is instant high pressure supply. Our builder has one installed in his well and he loves it, and also noted if we ever added a sprinkler system it is particularly handy.

As a mechanical engineer, the Grundfos pump upgrade was a no brainer :-)

Monday, October 12, 2009

10.12.09 construction update


Sorry for the lack of updates lately, for a while the "scene" pretty much looked the same as my last picture update. The septic system has been installed and inspected, plumbing lines to and from the house have been installed, floor outlets were installed, and gas lines were put in place. All of that had to happen in order for the floor insulation to be laid down and the hydronic radiant heat tubing to be installed.

Radiant heat tubing was one of things that I decided to do in order to save money, and this past weekend was free and the construction crew was able to get everything in ready for me and my brother Evan to work on Saturday. Molly even helped finish it off on Sunday!