Rafael Morales is a graduate of the University of Houston. A parishioner of Holy Rosary in Houston, where he lives with his wife and three children. He is a church and school architect with Jackson and Ryan Architects.
Call me Rafa, that’s what my family calls me. Along with Chris, I host the Beauty Ever New podcast. There are three things you need to know about me. The first is that I was born in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato and spent the majority of my formative years in Mexico. Growing up I experienced the complex beauty of a country full of stark contrasts. Immense beauty in its natural and man made landscapes, mixed with great hardship and frustration in its people. Mexico left me with an indelible mark that tints the lens through which I view life. The second is that I moved to the U.S. when I was ten and now have spent the majority of my life in the states. This country has given me everything; an education, a beautiful wife and family along with endless opportunity. The third is that the constant in my life, unimpeded by borders, is my Catholic faith. This is the great song that spans and unites my whole life, my fire, my meaning, my purpose.
The Church has suffered tremendous setbacks in the last few decades, bringing it perilously close to the edge of moral bankruptcy in the eyes of many. From scandals, to inadequate responses to contemporary issues, to an inability to captivate and stir the hearts of men. As Catholics we have to begin from a full acknowledgment of what has happened, a collective examination of conscience as to how we got here. Then as St. Jose Maria would say, let us begin again. Begin to craft a renewed vision for a Church with an eternal message. Begin again every day, in how we live and in how we use the talents God gave us to make him present to those around us. Our time is one in which the church needs to reach a culture held hostage by relentless indifference. I feel that the Lord is calling me to act now. This podcast, among other efforts is my response. Ever since I was little I loved to think about how things could be. How could I change things for the better. This curiosity translated in adulthood, into architecture. This is my jumping off point for doing my part to renew the Church.
I grew up seeing the splendour of Mexican colonial architecture, from the small town church to the great regional Cathedrals. Beauty was something that was available to all and that rightly oriented people to the worship of God. The United States does not have the same architectural patrimony, especially in our beloved city of Houston, we favor the new and swiftly knock down the old. This combined with an insatiable appetite for fast growth, yielded a huge building boom of churches. In the post war years, churches took on all manner of shapes and sizes, in many cases completely departing from any reference to historical models. The results were far from convincing, the landscape is now dotted with tired, outdated buildings that seldom inspire an appropriate sense of beauty and awe. I grew up going to a church like this in a mediocre building but yet, full of wonderful people. Every Sunday I wondered how I could make it better, what could we do so the building reflected the beauty of the faith and its people? This question carried me into the profession and I have chosen to dedicate myself to the renewal of church architecture.
The answer to this question is complex, because good architecture is the coordination of hundreds of decisions and compromises towards a desired end. To begin we have to ask many questions and explore many possibilities. The world is changing fast, architecture moves slow, so we have to always think several steps ahead, ask the questions of tomorrow. This podcast is the avenue that we will use to ask questions, explore many solutions and God-willing provide real, tangible improvements to the design of our churches.
My partner in crime is Chris Duffel. A man that I met by Divine “chance” and found in him a great friend that shares a deep passion for his faith and a desire to improve churches to reflect the beauty of Catholicism. He brings talents that I do not have, an energy that is unstoppable and a torrent of great ideas that I struggle to keep up with. The quality that I most admire is his integrity and kind heart, he is a man of true conviction. I thank God for the opportunity to work together with him on a variety of projects and especially in this space.
Episode | May 10th, 2019 | Season 1 | 45 mins 14 secs
education, ihp, poetic, senior
The long awaited companion to the episode on John Senior is here! Join us as we talk with Joseph Leaño about the Poetic Mode of Knowledge. How to understand it, how to talk about it and most importantly how to live it out.
Episode | April 26th, 2019 | Season 1 | 39 mins 5 secs
architecture, church, sacramentality, tradition
Join us as we talk with fellow architect Michael Raia, founder of Studio io about the foundations of church design, liturgy and how tradition should inform our designs today.
Episode | April 18th, 2019 | Season 1 | 19 mins 19 secs
architecture, gothic, notre dame, restoration
We share our thoughts on the Notre Dame fire in Paris. Check out the rest of our episodes at beautyevernew.com
Episode | April 12th, 2019 | Season 1 | 31 mins 53 secs
art, beauty, nature
The conversation with Michaela Barta continues. This time we delve into the heart of the podcast. What is beauty? Why is it so tricky to define it? How does it change our lives and focus our perspective?
Episode | March 29th, 2019 | Season 1 | 48 mins 38 secs
Artists have a special relationship with God in that they share, in a certain sense, in the supreme creative act of God. Artists are given talents that they are called to develop, so that through them they may reveal God to the world through their work. Joins us as we talk with Michaela Barta about John Paul II's letter to artists.
Episode | March 15th, 2019 | Season 1 | 50 mins 51 secs
architecture, pottery, ryan, writing, zombies
How often do you notice the building you work in or live in? How does it shape or change your behavior? The truth is that architecture forms us in it's own silent but powerful way. Our guest is Ryan Trusell, an artist, a writer, an amateur theologian, husband, and father who knows first hand the importance of authentic and beautiful architecture.
Episode | March 1st, 2019 | Season 1 | 46 mins 26 secs
beauty, death, funeral
Encountering death is a difficult reality no matter the time or circumstance. No one knows this better than Joseph Earthman, a 4th generation funeral home service provider who helps families say goodbye to a loved one they have lost. Join us for a conversation on death, funerals and how to say a proper goodbye.
Episode | February 15th, 2019 | Season 1 | 46 mins 17 secs
Architecture is sick. Is it really? Why would architecture be sick? Chris and Rafael take a look at architecture in general and church architecture specifically over the last 80 years and discuss how the industrial revolution inspired a radical change in how buildings were designed.
Episode | February 1st, 2019 | Season 1 | 49 mins 24 secs
chant, memory, music, polyphony, samuel
Music is a transformative force. It speaks to us on such a deep level, that at times can shake us to the core. It can help define our identity, our memory and how we see the world. Join us as we talk with Samuel Sentmanat about the power of music.
Episode | January 18th, 2019 | Season 1 | 41 mins 42 secs
beauty, education, john senior, joseph, medieval, wonder
Our lives have become buried under the weight of constant distraction, so much so that we have lost the ability to fully appreciate the True the Good and the Beautiful. John Senior, a legendary educator, knew this better than anyone. Join us as we talk with Joseph Leaño about Fr. Francis Bethel's book, John Senior and the Restoration of the Real.
Episode | January 4th, 2019 | Season 1 | 48 mins
development, fundraising, vision
Beauty isn't free. Often times it requires great sacrifices on behalf of the artists and the patrons. On this episode of Beauty Ever new we talk with Andrew Robison about the ins and outs of fundraising. Together we try to demystify what can be a very scary situation, asking people for money.
Episode | December 21st, 2018 | Season 1 | 43 mins 29 secs
architecture, intro, personal
All podcasts have to begin somewhere. Tune in to get to know us, find out why we started the podcast and what our hopes are for Catholic Art and Architecture.