Monday, June 18, 2018

Leaving Rome: A New Beginning




The last week of Lent is an eventful one; there is the celebration and bustle of Palm Sunday, and then there is the solemn quietness of Holy Thursday through Holy Saturday.

At the beginning of Holy Week I had almost forgotten that our time in Rome was nearly at an end, but as the Triduum drew near I remembered it more and more with each passing day. In another week we would all be off home, or away on new adventures traveling around Europe. The togetherness we had all shared during the past weeks in the Eternal City would be gone, and while we were sure of seeing one another back at school, it would not be quite the same.

The thought of returning home is bittersweet. It is always a joy to return to the familiar things that one is used to, but on the other hand leaving Rome is something that for many of us will not be easy. What will home be like after having lived in the heart of the Church for so long? What will it be like to walk down a street without seeing a myriad of churches, or without catching a glimpse of some tantalising dome in the distance? What will it be like not to awaken early in the morning and hear Mass at St. Peter's Basilica?

Going home will be like starting afresh; you will wander about in a daze as you are reunited with your favourite old haunts. You will become aware of things that you never really noticed; the colour of that wall in the sun, the way that branch has always hung over the path. Yes, home and family will be sweet, but there will always be a slight shadow of what has been left behind.

In the joyous Easter season, as we celebrate Christ risen from the dead, we must also be joyous about returning from Rome, the city that has given us so much. After all, the time after Easter is one of rejoicing and giving thanks. I will rejoice at my return home and I will give thanks for the time here in Rome, but part of me will always look forward to another new beginning in the Eternal City.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Anyone who has had access to the internet within the last several weeks knows about the abortion debate in Ireland. On May 25th, the fate of the country will be decided: either the majority will vote no, and the 8th Amendment protecting unborn babies will stand, or the majority will vote yes, and the lives of innocent children will be thrown to the winds. The latter situation is a difficult thing for many pro lifers to face, but sadly this situation may become a reality very soon.
Like almost every other young person living in this day and age I have various forms of social media. I follow my cousins (very many) on said social media. My cousins are young people living in Ireland. Every single one of them is voting yes in the referendum.
Why? Surely they were all raised Catholic, nominally at least.  
Young people in Ireland are voting yes because Ireland is already secularized to the point where the youth take as a guide not the precepts of the Church but whatever is against those commandments. Keep holy the Sabbath Day? Kids don’t go to Mass. You shall not commit adultery? Everyone lives with their boyfriend/girlfriend before marriage. You shall not kill? Now everyone is clamoring for the “right” to kill a baby in the womb. Yes, it is a baby. My cousin is a midwife. She delivers babies. Guess what? She’s voting yes. My other cousin is a teacher who works with kids every day. Guess what? She’s voting yes.
I am writing this because I fear that soon there will be many murders of innocent children in Ireland. These children will never be able to go to school, ride a bike, or make friends. They will not be able to run races or laugh in the sun. They will not be able to hug their mothers and tell them they love them because these children will be dead. Because they will be dead they will not be able to talk. So today I am speaking for these children, because it seems that hardly any other young Irish person will do so. I cannot vote as I do not live in Ireland, but I am praying today, tomorrow, and always--no to abortion in Ireland and all over the world.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Una Vita Non e Basta: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Time In The Eternal City


     Rome is not a terribly big city, but it contains a staggering amount of history, great architecture, magnificent churches, etc. Needless to say this can be extremely overwhelming, especially if you are only there for a few days. Here is a list of things you should know about Rome, including:

Transportation

Money

Food

Places to visit

Things I wish I’d known about Rome before going



                                                                 Transportation


     The transportation system (Roma ATAC) in Rome is actually very good. They have trams, buses, and a metro system. There are taxis but I never used one of those; however, I have heard that they are not wildly expensive. You will probably be using the system a lot if you are there independently without a tour and a bus, so depending on how long you are in Rome I would recommend the 7 day unlimited ticket which is 24 euro or the month long card which is 35 euro (card is 5 euro and filling it is 30 and it is 30 for each month after that). This allows you to travel as much as you want for 7 days/30 days WITHIN the walls of Rome. If you are taking the metro to/from Fiumicino International Airport you will have to purchase a different ticket for about 8 euro. If you are taking the bus to Ciampino Airport you technically have to purchase a ticket of 1.50 but I never actually bought the ticket. The conductors do not often check tickets, especially on the buses, but if you are found without a valid ticket you could be subject to a hefty fine of up to 800 euro. Better safe than sorry; buy the ticket. Bring comfortable walking shoes! Some days the tram/bus/train drivers go on strike; however, it is a very accommodating kind of strike; they run commuter buses in the early morning and evening so people can get to and from work. They usually announce the strike on the Roma ATAC website a few days before but sometimes they are random.

                                                                        Money

     Do not carry large amounts of cash as Rome is absolutely full of pickpockets. In fact, Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world because of the pickpocket problem. There are plenty of ATMs around Rome, and they have English language options. If you want to be extra cool, find the ATM in Vatican City where the language options include Latin! Carry your wallet in a crossbody handbag if you’re a woman; gents are advised to carry theirs in an inner coat pocket or front jeans pocket, somewhere where they can feel it in contact with their body. Crowded buses/streets/lines are the places pickpockets target the most. I personally never had a problem with someone trying to take my things but some of my friends did.

                                                                           Food

     Food in Rome is often touristy and overpriced; however, authentic Italian cuisine can be found if you know where to look. Suppli Roma (just off Piazza di San Cosimato (side note: there is a farmer’s market in San Cosimato and they have great local fresh produce!)) in Trastevere was my favourite. They have SO many types of pizza; pizza with ham, pizza with grated potatoes, plain pizza, Margherita pizza, zucchini flower pizza, anchovy pizza...and they make it right there, you see your pizza come out of the oven and onto the counter! They also sell suppli, as per the name of the shop. Suppli are not Italian, they are ROMAN. It is a fried ball, the outside breaded, the inside rice and marinara sauce with a ball of mozzarella cheese in the middle. Other places sell them too but Suppli Roma has the biggest ones for the smallest price. They are great if you want a cheap lunch on the go.
     If you are returning from a night out on the town and everywhere is closed, try Istanbul 34 right next to Stazione Trastevere (Trastevere Train Station). They sell amazing kebabs for 4 euro; one of them lasts me two meals! They also hand you falafel as soon as you walk in the door. It is a great place apart from the fact that the proprietors are Muslims from Turkey and the younger guys may flirt with you and ask you back to Turkey to be their wife even if you have a man and they know that. But hey, then they give you free food!
     The Food Factory in Trastevere also sells very cheap food; maybe it is not the best, but it is extremely affordable, so if you are strapped for cash (hello, college students) you can definitely find some fresh homemade lasagna there, a full plate for 4 euro.
     There is also a pizzeria called Carlo Menta; I never actually got to go but it’s well known that they have really good pizza and it’s affordable. A good place for dinner with friends.
     For drinking and eating, The Abbey Theatre Irish Pub is definitely the best! They have excellent Guinness and student discounts on mixed drinks. They have a thing called Taco Tuesday where you get a plate of 3 tacos for 3 euro and you can get nachos for about 4. They have dinner food like burgers and they have sides like fries, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, etc. It is the best place to go for a date or something. Getting there: take Tram 8 to Piazza Venezia and walk straight down the Corso di Vittorio Emanuele, and you will see signs telling you when to turn.
     And finally, no visit to Rome would be complete without gelato! Del Viale Gelateria is THE BEST place for gelato ever. It cannot be topped. You have the option of either a cone or a cup in varying sizes and there is a multitude of flavours to choose from. It is all homemade and the little shop is decorated inside with pictures of Audrey Hepburn. Getting there: it is just before you cross the Tiber River, just across from Piazza Belli.
     Coffee: I was not really a coffee person before Rome. Jake was even less of a coffee person. But...there’s such a vibrant coffee culture in Italy, it’s almost impossible not to be sucked into it. The Thomas More kids all frequent a small, out of the way bar (coffee shop), on the Via di Affogalasino, Bar Indian e Squaw. Cappuccinos are very cheap there and extraordinarily good, even better if you ask for a cappuccino con Bailey’s! Another good bar is the Wine Bar right near the Vatican; you exit St. Peter’s facing down the Via Conciliazione and turn right, and soon you find the Wine Bar. They have a very good selection of cornetti (pastries) there. We always went there for breakfast with our seminarians from the Pontifical North American College after Friday morning Mass in St. Peter’s.

                                                                Places to Visit 

     You can read many lists of places you must see in Rome, but in fact many of the things most worth seeing are not going to be on any of those lists and vice versa. I had always heard about the grandeur and magnificence of the Coliseum and the Roman Forum, but when I went I was rather disappointed. The Coliseum is not like what you see in the movies any more; much of the central arena is buried, and the bleachers are crumbling hills of stone. Of course, it is beautiful, but I am glad I went on a free day and didn’t have to pay the hefty entrance fee. So, go to the Coliseum but you don’t need to go in; your visions of splendour will be shattered. From the outside it is far better.
     Definitely go to the four major basilicas: St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, Saint Mary Major, and Saint Paul Outside The Walls. St. Peter’s is obviously in Vatican City, but St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major are also part of the Vatican as they enjoy extraterritorial membership of said country.
     I really cannot say enough about St. Peter’s except to reiterate that it is the most majestic, grand, and awe-inspiring structure I have ever seen in my life. I saw it for the very first time on a freezing cold morning in January; it was raining, and the cobblestones of the piazza were wet. The colonnade stood tall and majestic around the square, and in front of us the basilica itself glowed with an unearthly, heavenly light. No matter that it was 6am and I was shaking with cold. An eternity would not be enough to take in even the beauty and intricacy of the facade alone. Inside was equally splendid, perhaps even more so than the outside due to the colourful marble, the statues, the paintings, the intricate side chapels, etc. If you want to get a visual representation of the power and stability of Catholicism, look no further than St. Peter’s Basilica. It is, to me and a few others, the most beautiful and special place in the world.
     In the area of St. John Lateran are two other places; Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and the Pontificio Santuario della Scala Santa. Santa Croce was founded by St. Helen, mother of Constantine and finder of the True Cross, which resides in Santa Croce along with the Nails, Titulus, Crown, and the finger of Doubting Thomas. The Scala Santa, or the Holy Steps, were brought from Jerusalem and set up in Rome. They are the steps up which Christ walked up to the praetorium when He was sentenced to death. It may seem tedious, but there is a pilgrimage option: climbing the steps on the knees. In fact, this is the only way you are allowed on them. I highly recommend it. Do it.
     The Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museum) is also worthwhile. There is so much beautiful art, and the Capela Sixtina is in there too. Just plan to be there VERY early (I would advise 7 am) as the lines are extremely long and crowded museums are not fun.
     Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere and the piazza (Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere) are absolutely iconic. The church is the first church in Rome dedicated to Our Lady and it dates from the 300s. The flooring is original Cosmati and the mosaics in the apse are truly legendary. The piazza is the centre of traditional Roman nightlife; surrounded by bars, a gelateria, etc., it is rarely quiet. In the middle of the square there is an enormous fountain with steps to sit on. If you are grabbing lunch from somewhere local (hint hint, Suppli Roma!) this is a great place to sit. Who knows, you may even see Dr. Connell passing through on his way home, or to San Cosimato to buy clementines, or to pick up a simple porchetta for lunch.
     If you like vintage shopping, very near Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere is a vintage shop called Twice Vintage. It’s on the Via di Francesco a Ripa and has a great selection of clothes, shoes, bags, etc. I got a great dress there, cream coloured with a pink floral pattern.
     Definitely spend some time by the Tiber River. There are many bridges and each holds a distinctive charm. The Ponte Sant’Angelo is my personal favourite. As the name suggests, it is lined with statues of angels. If you look closely, each angel is holding one of the instruments of the Passion, and on the pedestal of each statue is a Latin inscription pertaining to each instrument (e.g., the angel holding the spear has inscribed beneath him: “Vulnerasti cor meum”, which translates to “Thou hast ravished (or wounded) my heart”). I would suggest this particular bridge as a good place to meditate on the Passion while walking across, however, this is the bridge that leads directly to Castel Sant’Angelo and the Via della Conciliazione which is the broad avenue leading to St. Peter’s Basilica, and as such is swarming with pickpockets and illegal vendors who can get quite aggressive. So keep your wits about you if you do decide to pray on this bridge.
     Sant’Andrea della Valle boasts the biggest dome in Rome besides St. Peter’s. Jake and I found this quite by accident but boy oh boy, weren’t we glad we did! The ceiling is highly ornamented, the large dome and smaller secondary domes are dazzling, and towards the vestibule is a mirror tilted so that you can gaze at the majesty above you without getting a crick in your neck. They have really sweet people working there, all volunteers, who offer free audio guides. No donation is asked, but you can put a few coins in the poor box. This church is also important to music fans, as Puccini’s famous opera Tosca opens in a side chapel of this church. It’s right on the Corso di Vittorio Emanuele. Actually, any church on the Corso is worth popping into. I have yet to find a church in the city of Rome that I have been disappointed by.
     Santa Maria sopra Minerva is enormous! It was one of the first churches I visited in Rome and I was absolutely blown away. It is the only original Gothic church in Rome and it is so vast that I literally got lost in there once, only for a few minutes, but that should give you an idea of how large it is. This church holds the tombs of Fra Angelico and St. Catherine of Siena (although her head is in her hometown) among others. There is a Michelangelo up near the altar, Christ The Redeemer holding a cross. It is not usually very busy in this church either, so it is a lovely place to pray the Rosary.
     Santa Maria della Vittoria: I only was here for ten minutes one day towards the end of my stay to see my all time favourite work of art, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Gian Lorenzo Bernini who is also my favourite artist ever. This sculpture is the centrepiece of the Cornaro chapel which is to the left of the main altar. It was so lifelike and so sublime and perfectly beautiful.
     Santa Maria in Cosmedin is somewhat of a tourist attraction as it is the home of the Mouth of Truth. It is also the home of something far more important; the head of St. Valentine. We got to go there on his feast day (which also happened to be Ash Wednesday) and while there was an enormous line outside, it was for the Mouth of Truth and not for the relic of Rome’s most famous martyr. I do not know much about the church but from the quick glance I took it looked to lean towards a traditional Greek Orthodox style with many beautiful icons and a partial screen before the sanctuary.
     Chiesa di San Luigi della Francesi is home to not one but three famous Caravaggios; The Calling of St. Matthew, The Inspiration of St. Matthew, and The Martyrdom of St. Matthew. Scholars over the years have debated which figure represents Matthew in the first painting; I personally have an unshakeable belief that Matthew is the figure bent over the table counting the money. That is him and that is that. Everyone else is wrong.
     The Piazza di Spagna is so beautiful! It is home to the Spanish Steps where a part of Roman Holiday was filmed and obviously it is very very popular with tourists and locals alike. It is on the most famous shopping street in Rome, the Via dei Condotti, which is home to stores such as Gucci, Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, Tiffany’s, and Burberry. If you are visiting the Spanish Steps be ready not only to climb many steps and admire the beautiful view, but also to hold your own against relentless sellers of selfie sticks and Pakistanis offering “free” roses.
     Piazza Garibaldi on the Janiculum Hill has the best view of the city and the broad wall surrounding the square is the perfect spot for a picnic with friends. After the picnic you can either walk down one side of the hill into Trastevere or down the other side into the area surrounding Vatican City. I like the Janiculum because the first time I went there I looked at the beautiful and eternal city of Rome spread in front of me, and I saw all these fantastic monuments and domes and such and I didn’t know what they all were. The last time I went to the Janiculum I looked again at Rome, and this time I had been under almost every dome and had visited almost every monument. So the Piazza Garibaldi on the Janiculum Hill is a very special place for me.
     There is a great flea market in Trastevere, the Porta Portese. You can find basically anything here, from leather jackets to antique bedpans to olive wood crucifixes. Even better, you can barter with the vendors if the price is too high for you. I once bought a good sized leather satchel for 17 euro when the vendor asked for 35!
     Every girl who visits Rome brings back a few scarves; I brought back three. It is best to buy these from street vendors rather than from in a shop as, like in the Porta Portese, you can haggle them down several euro. Altogether the three pashminas I got were around 20 euro.

                Things I Wish I’d Known About Rome Before Going
     I wish I’d known that if you don’t at least make the effort to speak Italian you will be openly mocked and laughed at by locals. I was in Suppli Roma one day ordering pizza and the pizza man gave me a piece with zucchini blossoms instead of plain cheese. I said, “Oh, can I actually have the one with cheese instead of the one with zucchini flowers? Grazie.” The woman next to me turned and said, “What? No Italian? Is it that hard for you to even learn a few words?” She then pointed her finger at me and laughed loudly in the middle of the shop. Now you do not need to learn how to speak the language fluently; just a few words are fine. But I wish I would have known that.
     I wish someone had told me that the best place to buy rosaries is in the gift shop of John Lateran! I spent 20 euro on a lovely pearl one in Santa Maria in Cosmedin on Ash Wednesday (worth it, by the way) and a few weeks later went to John Lateran and saw the same one for about 10! Wow!
     I wish someone had mentioned that if you have an old smartphone to bring it so you can get service and use maps when you inevitably get lost. Also, then you can text/use WhatsApp on the go. Useful.
     I really REALLY wish someone had mentioned the pedlars who are literally EVERYWHERE and who never stop trying to sell you things! The worst ones by far are the black gypsies; Jake and I had an unnerving first encounter in Piazza Navona where one of them gave us a load of bracelets “for free” and then demanded money for his “baby”. When we refused to give him anything he took back his stuff, cursed us out, and left to find a new victim. When you see someone coming towards you with an armful of African elephant bracelets DO NOT make eye contact and keep walking. Something I learned in Rome is that having a strong and impenetrable RBF and being rude can be acceptable at times. There are also the Pakistani vendors who go round shoving selfie sticks in front of you. No thanks, my hands work fine and there are far more beautiful things to photograph in Rome than my own face!
     I already knew this but I am putting it in anyway: bring a water bottle!!! Rome is famous for its many fountains and unlike other fountains I have tasted the water from these ones is clear and sweet and has no taste of chlorine or mustiness. It is thirst quenching and is absolutely and without question the best water I have ever tasted. Bring a nice glass bottle so your water will not get a nasty plastic savour after you carrying it about on a warm day.

     And so, I think I have said at least a fraction of what needs to be said about Rome. Then again, one can never finish speaking of this marvelous city; I have been away from there for several weeks now and I have my family bored to tears with my incessant chatter of this Rome thing and that. A visit to Rome leaves a mark on the heart that cannot be erased, and it left with me, at least, a yearning to return some day, God willing. But for now I am here and I do not know for sure when I will go back; maybe in a few months, maybe in a few years. And when I do go back, I look forward to beginning again in the Eternal City. Semper incipit!


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Does The Church Need To Be Updated?

When I was in Ireland recently I had a very interesting discussion with a priest. As usual, the subject of the Traditional Mass vs. the Novus Ordo came up. Being a staunch supporter and attendee of the Tridentine Rite (and besides having just met this priest and being a guest at his residence) I kept my mouth shut and listened, but although I did not speak I did think a great deal, and here is some of what I thought. I will give a summary of the things that were said and a few of my thoughts in reply.
    It must be noted that this is not an Irish priest I was speaking to. I doubt that many of the priests here, having been beaten down by Maynooth Seminary, would harbour any absolute opinions, even if they were erroneous ones.

I will leave remarks on the Pope out of this post.

    First of all, it was said by this priest that the Church was in an apparent age of decline, and that this decline, when over, brings the Church back even stronger than ever; that since the Church has survived this long it will survive infinitely. This is the only view I could see any sense in.
    Second of all, the argument put forth was that the Church absolutely MUST change with the times; that it must update and that tradition must be abolished as the world has changed and the Church must accommodate that change with change within itself.
    Thirdly, that Confession is not an opportunity to ask God's forgiveness, but a chance to be grateful for His abounding mercy; that penance is unnecessary as God has already determined our place in Heaven or Hell, and that we cannot change that.
    Fourthly, that the “felix culpa” of Adam that brought us the Incarnation was not really a happy fault, as we are all made in the image and likeness of God and what more do we need than to look at one another; also that it is not necessary to go to church to pray to God as we can see Him in everyone and in ourselves.
    I will respond to the first and second together as they are related. One must wonder, what has kept the Church surviving for so many years? That I can tell you in one word; tradition. And it is precisely because tradition is being abolished in this world and this papacy that the Church is struggling. So we can see that the argument against tradition makes absolutely no sense and yet it is the biggest argument undermining the Church today. Also, tradition is important. Why else would it have lasted for so long?
  In response to the third point, I honestly think it is dangerous not to view Confession as a chance to apologise for our sins. Yes, God's mercy and grace are infinite and we can always depend on them being there for us, but humility is also important. We have fallen natures and it is nothing short of hubris to disregard penance and call it unnecessary. Humility is something that Jesus Himself always showed to us, and what better person to emulate than the Son of God? As to the belief that we can do nothing about our place in Heaven or Hell, this hints strongly at predestination, a distinctly Protestant notion, and eliminates the need for good works. After all, if we cannot change whether we go to Heaven or Hell there is no need to care about what we do.
    To the fourth point, the sin of Adam is indeed a happy one. Now I am not saying that it is good to sin. I am saying rather that the outcome of this sin is happy because it brought Christ, the Son of God, to  dwell with us in a human state. To say that this is unnecessary is as good as refusing the gift of the Incarnation, which is literally the greatest gift mankind has ever been given. To wave this away and instead insist that we need only look for God in ourselves is a gross kind of self sufficiency.
I make no pretense at being omniscient or anything like that, but I have enough common sense and knowledge of my faith to know when certain opinions are getting out of hand. That is all.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Some Thoughts On Liberalism


Image result for american flag

In the weeks leading up to, and the days since, the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America, I have noticed more than the usual display of aggression and hate towards those of a conservative mind. The perpetrators of this often pugnacious mindset are (except perhaps for a few isolated cases) hardcore Liberals, persons who are anti-Catholicism, anti-traditional marriage, anti-birth control and abortion, and who are basically against everything which has generally been held as common sense and standard moral behaviour. The amount of people I have observed who have asked others to break a Facebook friendship is really ludicrous; if a friendship is true, it should go beyond whatever political mess is thrown into our laps. So many friendships are broken, trust is doubted, and anyone who dares to stand up for what is right and just is attacked.
It seems that the concentration of all this hate is Donald Trump. He, in a way, stands for conservatism, for old and traditional values. He is despised by Liberals, and so are his supporters. Any time I look at any social media page--Instagram, Facebook, or even Snapchat--all I see is hate.
This is particularly paradoxical, because hate and hate speech is what the Liberal Agenda proclaims to be so against. They pretend to be a cult of peace and acceptance, but they are not. You can believe what you like, say anything you like, love whoever you would like--but may God help you if it is something Liberals disagree with. They claim to be about freedom to choose whatever you want to think--so long as it doesn’t disagree with their twisted political ideals. For twisted they are, and more corrupt than any other cult that has ever raised its head.
As for believing whatever you would like, those of us who do not believe in abortion and contraception are accused of oppressing women. Really? I do not feel oppressed by that. Rather, what is oppressing is the fact that, from a very young age, girls are sexualised and taught that their bodies are vessels for pleasure; they are encouraged to go on the Pill, to practice “safe sex”, to do whatever feels good. This is fast becoming not so much of a choice, but an expectation. There is nothing liberating about being expected to use yourself so shamelessly. Liberation is self-respect, and tampering with your body is not self-respect. It is a widely known secret that abortifacients and such cause a myriad of diseases, including cancer--but at least the baby is dead, I guess, and surely cancer is better and less disturbing for the mother than holding a lovely baby in her arms.
Saying what you like is as bad, if not worse, as believing whatever you would like. Words have power, a power that many resent. It is one thing to have opinions, but another thing entirely to give voice to them. When it is the majority who voices opinions, they do not fear, and they can hold sway spouting whatever ridiculous nonsense they please; but when it is a minority who stands strong and voices their opinions, then Liberals fear that minority with a cold and gut-wrenching dread, for they know that if but even a mere few find the bravery and moral strength to stand for what is right, they will do more than just voice opinions; they will act on their words. So to appear unafraid in the face of what they know in their heart of hearts to be justice, Liberals turn to hate instead of reason to combat Conservatism. They shut their ears and eyes to logic because they are afraid to admit to the truth.
And, as for loving who you would like, this is permissible only when you accept and laud, without question, anyone who any other given person has chosen to “love”. I put love in brackets because sometimes people confuse love with mere physical, sexual attraction. The traditional, natural order of love and marriage has been frowned upon and rejected by much of the modern world. Following in the footsteps of Lucifer, God’s creations are not happy with the way things were made, and they seek to twist and pervert, crying “Non serviam!”, as did the most beautiful angel, who succumbed to pride and cast himself away from God forever. Pride is precisely the sin that afflicts those who pander to the trend of sexual diversity; they reject order, as did Lucifer, and seek to lead themselves. In so doing, they profane the sacredness and sanctity of love. There is no quiet patience, everything is about instant gratification. And now, with the near abolishment of abstinence until marriage, those who actually do believe in waiting are frowned upon as old fashioned. It’s not even just about self respect, it’s about respecting your future spouse. You would not relish the idea of your husband sleeping around with a load of women, (I know I wouldn’t) and he would be as equally opposed to the thought of you doing the same with men.

To wrap up these few paragraphs of my probably very controversial thoughts, I would like to say that I am very glad Donald Trump was elected president. I do not like him as a person, I do not like some of the things he said, but at least he is not Hillary Clinton. Our country may be doomed, but at least with Trump we have a small shot at survival. Under Hillary, we would be drawn with no small speed downwards into an abyss of corruption from which we might never escape.

By Maura Tuffy

Thursday, May 5, 2016

An Apple is Eaten, and the Hope of God is Gone

"An apple is eaten, and the hope of God is gone."
---G.K. Chesterton, from Orthodoxy 

There is no person of my acquaintance who is entirely ignorant of fairy tales.
I am very sure of this statement, for the simple and apparent reason that the very natural order of life is one great and vast fairy tale, encompassing the world, from the day of Creation to the day when we will all stand before the throne of God.
Everything about the natural order once fitted together with an almost ridiculous perfection; beauty abounded; everything was luminescent with the pearly light of truth; a terrible goodness swam over the brow of every green hill, and we drank it in with the sparkling, clear waters of the first effervescent streams. We sang joyfully in our harmonious voices as we thanked God for this paradise, and He acknowledged our thanks, and blessed us with a wondrous garden in which each leaf seemed freshly watered from the wellspring of hope, so perfect and pure did they appear to our clear eyes, which then only desired to see things in the light of truth.
This garden was the most blissful and peaceful place imaginable; it was all fair, and there was no stain in it. It was bright, but we could withstand the brightness, and we desired nothing but that brightness.
I have said there was no stain, but there was one, one that needed human permission to spread, and we vowed not to approach that stain for fear of besmirching our beauteous home. But, as it must, curiosity prevailed, and soon we had eaten of the apple, and at the moment the fruit passed our lips we knew, with a dreadful and chilling thrill that rang upon our ears like a death knell, that we had abandoned Virtue for the cold and brutal path of Pride and Vice.
The brightness became too much for us and so we left the Garden, and sought other realms. Our voices, no longer harmonious and loving, rose shrilly as we squabbled over the most ridiculous and petty notions; we were so occupied in fighting for what we thought would make us happy that we forgot the melodies we had once taken delight in, melodies of praise and thanksgiving. We travelled far, and farther yet; but for all our journeys over hills, through valleys, and even across bitter and salty seas, we could find nowhere near as fair as the place we had selfishly left for a bite of fruit, said to make us happy.
It had not made us happy. We were mean and selfish, and our sharp words hurt ourselves and each other, so that in secret, we cried tears as bitter and as salty as the seas we had crossed in search of a new Garden.
After a time, God took pity on us, and sent His Son in the form of one of us to give us a new chance at sanctity. His kind words touched our hearts, and we remembered the Garden with still greater fondness. Some of us strove to follow this Son, and to become even a little bit as we were in the old days, before the advent of the serpent and the apple.
But the fangs of the serpent had poisoned the apple we had eaten, and not all of us wanted to be good and just. With a dreadful and sickening act of defiance, the Saviour was hoisted up on two beams of wood, and left there to gasp out His life. A few bemoaned His loss, and for that He was thankful, and showed it by returning for a brief time to strengthen our wills against the struggle that is even now looming large on the horizon of our times.
For a while, sin was seen as shameful. We presented our best faces out of doors, and tried to hide our transgressions behind the gates of good will and kindness. Perhaps we had a vague memory of a beautiful place, crystal-cut and shining bright, with voices thrumming through the air in songs whose melodies ran as straight and true as the precise flight of the hummingbird.
Soon, however, the ugliness began to creep along, as stealthily as the slow movements of the most insidious serpent. It began with a look, a few words; it always does. Then, it began to force itself out with actions, so despicable and perverted that we felt ashamed to call ourselves human. But it is not given to us to choose who we are.  
But it was not to be that the sickness of sin could be shamed out of us; instead, people began to take a kind of blatant pride in their transgressions, plastering the gaily coloured ribbons of their horrifying indignity on flagpoles, walls, doors, and everywhere our once-pure eyes turned.
It only became worse. The most awful and impure acts were lauded, praised, openly commended. Anyone who spoke out or even speculated against them was mysteriously put to silence, and now we have come to the dreadful part of the fairy tale that is life; the part where fairy tale turns nightmare, the part where all that we loved, that was once so pure and inviolate, has been exchanged for all that is vile and disgusting.
And all this because we ate of the apple from the Tree of Knowledge...once upon a time, in a land of an almost ridiculous perfection; where beauty abounded; where everything was luminescent with the pearly light of truth; where a terrible goodness swam over the brow of every green hill, and we drank it in with the sparkling, clear waters of the first effervescent streams.

By Maura Tuffy

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Rose

              


The rose that grows on yonder thorn
And glows a fervent red,
Sprouts petals like the drops of blood
Around a sacred head.


The cedar on the hillside bare  
With boughs that reach the sky,
Shows us with its bare, tall, frame
The way One of us died.

The sun, now hidden by grey clouds
Now here, now there, now gone
Is to us as the love of God,
Which came to us unbidden.

The child upon his mother’s knee
Whose hair glows as the sun,
Is as He came to us one night,
As one of us, true born.


Remember that God’s Son came down
To save humanity;
We see in every rose His blood, 
His cross in every tree.

Maura Tuffy