Sunday, February 11, 2007

re: On naming and some personal updates

Well today I submitted a short story and my medical school personal statement (which I am proud to admit was once described by an interviewer as "The most literary personal statement I'd read in twenty years") to the Legible Script's medical student writing contest. Check them out at . The story is about the challenge of medical school. If it's published you can write to the kind people at the University of South Florida COM for a copy. Otherwise, assuming I retain publishing rights, I'll put it up here in the summer. On that note, this is an issue which continually confuses me. I mean, if I write something, should I at least have the right to use it as I wish?

At any rate, this week I'll be submitting an essay on Hippocratic medicine to the Francis A. Velay Humanism in Medicine Essay Contest sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation assuming of course my good, Catholic friend Blase Hennessy finishes editing it for me. He too is a writer and can be found at Check his writings out. He likes to write about politics and is quite good at it. Plus, the more hits he gets, the more likely he'll be to go national. At least that's what I'm hoping. Long story short, whether I win or lose, my essay on Hippocrates will be up if and when it's allowed.

Lastly, on a personal note. Any day now we are expecting the birth of our second child, a boy. My wife and I continually to be at odds regarding the name. In what can only properly be described as a burning bush experience or the guiding hand of Providence, since I was fifteen or so I have been utterly convinced that I should name my first son Augustine, after the great 4th century Church Father who was so influential in my own conversion to Catholicism. My wife on the other hand, does not like the name.

My dilemma is this. For me, there has never ever been another name. It was always Augustine. For her, she has a few picked out. I told her to name him what she wants to, fully knowing how awkward a position I would be placing her in. Problem is, to pick another name, in my mind, would be like Zechariah opting not to name his son John (cf. Luke 1:63). It's something I cannot as a matter of conscience do (wouldn't you like to be married to me?).

You see, I have good reasons for wanting to name him Augustine. When you name something, you "say what it is" in the words of Aristotle. Naming, in a way, is to define the essence of a thing. That is why the Jews of the Old Testament placed such a high premium on the naming process, and why every time a name is changed in the Scriptures it is for some theologically significant reason. Think Abram to Abraham, Saul to Paul, or especially Simon to Peter. Each of these says something about who the person is or ought to be.

Perhaps I sound pedantic, but this is something so important, it of necessity cannot be anything less than a well reflected upon choice. Moreover, a name is the first thing a father can give to his child. For a mother, things are different. She gives throughout the entire gestation while the father waits patiently (and admittedly more comfortably) in expectation of the day. That is why I want to give my son something important and significant: namely the name Augustine. By doing so, I would be saying, here is the legacy I want to leave you with, to carry on the work of our family begun in my life when I was received into full communion with the Church and to carry on the work of great saints like Augustine who is such a marvelous example of grace working in a human life. After all, he is know to the West as the Doctor Gratiae (the doctor of grace).

Since it is the father's task to prepare and present his children to the world, by giving a meaningful name, I would be giving him a way of being known by the world and a way of expressing himself to it. "Augustine" to those who hear it will first, stand out (laugh it ,if you must with tiresome jokes) and second intrigue and third reveal. It's unicity will spark questions. Oh what does your name mean? And immediately he would have the opportunity to share the story of one of this world's greatest saints. The name is also revelatory. It says, "I'm a Catholic" and not just any Catholic, a Catholic like St. Augustine of old, an intellectual powerhouse of fidelity and love.

All right, I'm rambling now. Any thoughts would be appreciated. I'll put up pics as soon as the little guy is born. For now, some wisdom from St. Augustine that has nourished my soul and guided my life as long as I have been graced to know it.

This is a prayer of St. Augustine's that I pray everyday:

O God, Full of Compassion,
I commit and commend myself to you
In whom I am, I live, and know
Be the goal of my pilgrimage and my rest by the way
and may my soul take refuge from the crowding turmoil of earthly thoughts
beneath the shadow of your wings.
And may my heart, this sea of restless waves, find peace in you O God.


  1. I have missed your commentary of late. Perhpas you are busier than usual with the arrival of a new addition to your family. I hope that mother, father and "Augustine" are doing well. You are in our prayers and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

  2. I let my wife name our children. When my older brother was born, my mother said that he did not look like a 'dadwithnoisykids,' and so he was named something else. When I came along, Mom said that I looked like a 'dadwithnoisykids' should look.

    I hope and pray that all is well with you and your family. Regarding medical school, just remember, the light at the end of the tunnel is just Internship, Residency, and (in my case) Fellowship!