Why Study History?

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When I was a very young child, I visit my great-aunt in New York. Being a voracious book worm, I asked her to give me from her library. She gave me a large book called History of Your World. The book, as far as I can recall, was published by the United States History Society in 1972. I read it several times over and then graduated to other texts as I grew up. However,  I never would have become interested in history had it not been for that book.

Why study history? In order to understand ourselves, we must look at the past. The past has a great deal to teach us about the present day. By reading about presidents like Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln, we are able to compare today’s leaders and their policies to the great presidents of the past. By examining the conflict in Ukraine through a historical lense, we come to understand that the tug of war between Russophiles and Europhiles has been going on for centuries.

History provides the context that the political commentators, the pundits, and the media do not. However, most people today are not interested in contextualizing what they read and hear every day. Instead, they take everything at face value. For example, I have seen many people drawing parallels between Weimar Germany and Obama’s America. However, that parallel is not a good one. The Weimar Republic was beset by chronic political violence from its inception following the German surrender in 1918. Additionally, Weimar Germany suffered tremendous economic woes such as mass unemployment that cannot be compared with what has happened in the United States during the last decade or so.

Many people draw the analogy that somehow the current presidential administration is similar to Hitler and the Nazis. However, there is a key problem here. Donald Trump may say and do many outrageous things, but he is not Hitler. In the United States, there is nothing that is analogous to the Nuremberg Laws which discriminated against Jews. Immigrants being vetted is not the same thing as Jews being banned from German schools, being fired from their jobs, forced to work in factories making toilet paper, and being crowded together because their houses had become Aryanized.

The current administration has not undermined, to the best of my knowledge, or repealed various laws and legislation that makes it possible for people to live freely in this country. For example, people who are disabled are not murdered by the state because their lives are expendable. Homosexuals have not been sent to concentration camps either or forced to wear a specific sign that designates them as such. Even though the Affordable Care Act will be revised, I do not believe that it will be thrown away or jettisoned.

The recent banning of CNN and the New York Times from White House press conferences is not and cannot be viewed as an infringement on the First Amendment. If a person doesn’t want to give an interview to a certain news organization, he or she has the right to refuse that organization and not give the interview. The same is true for a presidential administration. If the Trump administration sees CNN and the New York Times as biased, then they have every right to ban them from press conferences.

However, this is not a Nazi or Stalinist tactic as some people like to claim. President Trump hasn’t sent his goons over to the CNN and New York Times offices to complete destroy their printing presses, cameras, and equipment like the Nazis used to do to their opponents. He has not gone after editors and reporters and thrown them in jail for doing their jobs. Nor has he rigged the United States judicial system so that those reporters and editors could be held in jail for the rest of their natural lives because of their opposition to the regime. Nothing of the kind has happened.

As I have pointed out, the parallels between the current administration and Nazi Germany are false. There is a massive difference between what happened nearly eighty years ago in Germany and what is happening in the United States today. It would be wise for us to read books about this period of world history and to draw our own conclusions rather than relying on newspapers, pundits, and cable television to tell us what to think. As the old saying goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.

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Not of This World

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One of the great myths that has become ever more prevalent recently is the idea that Christianity is the world’s most violent and oppressive religion. It is a notion that can be found almost everywhere on the internet these days. However, the truth of the matter is that Christianity is not a violent religion and has never been one.

When Our Lord came to the world, He did not come as a political or a conqueror. He was the reputed son of a carpenter from a small village in Galilee who was, in fact, the Son of God. In the Gospel of John, there are numerous times when the apostles ask him about the Kingdom of Heaven and Pilate does the same thing shortly before Jesus is scourged. Every time, Jesus replies that His kingdom is not of this world. in other words, it is not a political entity. The kingdom which He is speaking is the kingdom of heaven where He reigns, has reigned, and will always reign as king.

In the New Testament, politics is not something that is discussed fairly frequently. Christians are enjoined to obey the lawful authorities under whom they find themselves. They are told to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. When it comes to the actual preaching of the Gospel, we see that the apostles went out two by two into various distant lands. St. Paul did not carry a sword with him when he entered Athens and St. Peter didn’t bring a cohort with him when he went to Rome. They did not slaughter the unbelievers, but preached the Gospel to them. If they didn’t believe, then they shook the dust from their feet and moved on to some other area.

As the centuries have passed, Christianity grew. However, it must be stated here that there is a great difference between what people believe and what they do in the name of their religion. For example, a great deal has been written about anti-Semitism. Most Christians are not anti-Semites and the writings that are frequently cited as being anti-Semitic have absolutely nothing to do with that word in its modern sense. For example, St. John Chrysostom authored a series of sermons against the Jews. However, the translation here is inaccurate. St. John Chrysostom didn’t preach against the Jewish people, he was preaching against a group of Judaizers within the early Church who wanted to bring Christianity into line with Judaism.

Another frequently cited proof text for modern anti-Semitism is The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. This little pamphlet has been reprinted thousands of times and many people have claimed that it is a road map towards domination of the world by the Jews. The work itself was authored by a man named Sergei Nilus, a religious fanatic who was in the pay of the Tsar’s secret police. If looked at in the context of Nilus’s other works, which are also apocalyptic and laced with similar conspiracy theories, then it becomes clear that The Protocols are just another crackpot book among many and simply cannot be taken seriously by anyone.

Of course, there have been many wars that have been fought in the name of Christianity. There was the Thirty Years’ War which was fought between Catholic and Protestant nations and caused an untold amount of suffering in central Europe. Among others, there have also been the Wars of Religion in France and the Fourth Crusade that ended up sacking Constantinople. In all of these cases, the wars were conducted in the name of Christianity. However, and this cannot be stated enough, the core of Christianity has never incited people to fight one another, hate each other, or kill each other.

Perhaps, the greatest proof against Christianity being a religion of violence can be found in the lives of the martyrs and the lives of other Christians who have lived under various hostile regimes. The martyrs were killed for their Christian belief. They were beheaded, they were sawn in two, they were shot to death, or they were buried alive and tortured inhumanely. The martyrs did not fight back even when they were in positions of power. They knew that a greater reward awaited them in the next life rather than in this one and that was why they were so willing to cast aside their earthly bodies.

In various Middle Eastern countries, Christians have lived under a dhimmi status. This means that they are a tolerated minority, but toleration does not necessarily mean that they will not be slaughtered at the whim or behest of the local ruler. In 1915, for example, 1.5 million Armenians were butchered by the Ottoman Turks because they were Christians. They had done nothing to cause this calamity to fall on their heads, but they were slaughtered regardless or left to die in the Syrian desert. These men, women, and children had lived peacefully under the Ottomans until the Ottomans decided that they should be murdered because they were potential saboteurs.

As I have sought to point out, Christianity teaches meekness, love of enemies, and turning the other cheek. Violence has never been a part of the Christian and message and never will be. St. Paul wrote in one of his great epistles that “in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female.” Christianity has always been a great unifier rather than a divider. Let us remember that before we throw out the lie that Christianity is the most violent religion in the world.

When Dogs Became Better than Boyfriends

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It seems to me that one problem many millennials have is over sharing. It seems to me that we talk about everything under the sun on Facebook and Twitter. We share photographs of our lunches, dinners, and anything else that is important or completely irrelevant on Instagram. There is no real filter to any of this. If it looks good or sounds, it is good and so it goes. However, there is such a thing as too much information and there is such as the realization that when you’re talking to one person on the internet, you’re talking to thousands. My generation doesn’t understand this and an excellent example of the over sharing that I’m talking about is Lena Dunham.

Lena Dunham calls herself an artist. She believes with every fiber of her being that she is giving us windows into worlds that we have never seen before through her show Girls and her film Tiny Furniture.  Both of these works claim to be realistic depictions of life in New York City, but this is not the same New York City that Pete Hamill wrote about in A Drinking Life or Joseph Mitchell in Up in the Old Hotel or Henry Roth in Call It Sleep. It is a New York that is largely based around middle class women in their twenties or thirties who are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. The New York of the poor, working class immigrants and those that actually struggle to make a living in the city is nowhere to be seen.

The problem with Lena Dunham’s art is that it is as self-absorbed as its creator. When one watches Tiny Furniture, the viewer often feels like he is watching everything from a distance or through a window. The conversations that the characters have are so trivial and pretentious that the viewer feels excluded because he or she probably doesn’t have the knowledge to understand what the characters are talking about. In effect, Tiny Furniture is so that Dunham can show off all of the wonderful things that happened to her after she came home from college in the same way that a thirteen year old girl would gush about it in a diary.

Dunham claims that her art is realistic, but that couldn’t be further from truth. True realist art shows life in a way that is immediate and visceral. In Life and Fate, Vassily Grossman describes the transport of Jews from a ghetto to Auschwitz in such a way that the reader can hear the women’s cries, smell the excrement on the floor, and watch people falling to the ground from exhaustion. In Germinal, Emile Zola writes about the life of coal miner’s in France. The experience is so real, so harsh, and so graphic that the reader gradually becomes enraged at the lives that these miners lived and wants to do something about it.

Lena Dunham’s art is not realist in that sense. On Girls, her characters lose their jobs, go through unemployment, find jobs, and cheat on their boyfriends. Everything is nice, everyone is well dressed, even the drug addicts are loveable assholes. There is nothing here that speaks to the real life experiences of women outside of Lena Dunham’s own circle. Even the Brooklyn where her characters live is so free of the homeless and the poor, so that it looks like an advertisement for a Los Angeles suburb in the ’50s.

Dunham’s narcissistic navel gazing is most apparent in her main character Hanna. Hanna is a clueless, selfish, entitled nobody that is a probably a poster child for my generation. She is a writer who spends most of her time sleeping around and doing things that have nothing to do with writing. She supposedly matures in every season, but she always self-sabotages it. Her time as an MFA student in Iowa was, perhaps, the only time when the character was given anything remotely resembling emotional depth. There is very little to like about this character. There is very little about this character that puts her on the same level as Charles Dickens’s Esther Summerson in Bleak House or Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. She’s a spoiled brat who has to deal with her gay dad and her friends and lives life in a Brooklyn that has nothing to do with reality.

Hanna and Dunham are the same person. You cannot pry one away from the other. The character is so self-referential that she almost feels like a self-insert that you can find in the worst possible fanfiction on the internet. Yet it really doesn’t stop there. After all, Dunham has self-sabotaged her own career by saying things and writing things that are so beyond the pale as to be unbelievable.

Take, for example, the infamous incident when she said that she would rather date a dog than her boyfriend or when she put on a Planned Parenthood doctor costume for Halloween. In her own mind, Dunham probably writes all of this off as being witty or with it or trying to make a political statement. However, the truth of the matter is that there is nothing witty, or with it, or even remotely interesting about a grown woman acting like a child simply because she can. You can shock people out of the complacency of their lives without saying comparing your boyfriend to a dog or putting on a Planned Parenthood doctor’s outfit.

Dunham’s art is representative of the vapid culture in which we live in today. People are much more interested in watching Lady Gaga prancing around during half time at the Super Bowl and making memes about the President than sitting down and reading a good old fashioned book. If you like staring at a woman’s naked back side for hours, then I highly recommend that you watch Lena Dunham’s works. However, you should look elsewhere if you want art that enlightens and builds a person up. It still exists, believe me.

Universitas Vitae?

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As a teacher, I read a lot about college education and it seems to me that in recent years the college system has lost its way. When I went to college nearly twenty years ago, the emphasis was on learning how to think about the world around us. We were challenged to explore it, to ask questions, to debate our findings in a scholarly manner with our professors, and we emerged from our college experience being much more educated than when we went in. That is no longer the case in the United States. Instead of teaching their students how to think, colleges and universities are teaching them what to think.

For example, universities and colleges first started having safe spaces twenty years ago. Usually, this was a room or a house that was designed for minority students. It was a place where they could sit, shoot the shit, and study in a place that was welcoming. That didn’t mean, however, that someone  who wasn’t gay, black, or white wasn’t allowed there. A friend of mine, who was a staunch Catholic, worked at one of these places for an entire summer and, as far as I can recall, was never called out for his religious beliefs or the fact that he was a straight white male working in a safe space.

While safe spaces were once confined to a room or a house, it is now the entire campus that is a safe space. This necessarily means that there is more pressure on the faculty at a university to tow the party line. It means that scholars who are not politically correct in their views are forced to either be silent, to quit their jobs, or to acquiesce to the party line, or to face the consequences. The spirit of inquiry that has characterized universities for centuries has been stifled because of political correctness. Certain works of literature and art are thrown out the window because they are deemed to be racist or misogynistic, the same goes for history and psychology and almost every other subject that you can imagine. Censorship and trigger warnings run rampant and God forbid if someone decides to question what they are being fed. This person will be thrown out of the university without so much as an administrative hearing.

Following the election of Donald Trump, various universities sent out letters to their faculties asking them to be more sensitive to their students following the election and that they should waive academic standards for those that might have been triggered by it. I was in college during two election cycles. Nothing of this kind ever happened. No one went to the professor’s office, knocked on his or her door, and said that they couldn’t take a final exam because they didn’t like that George W. Bush or Barack Obama was elected president. Professors weren’t required by the faculty senate or the administration to be more sensitive. Life rolled on as usual and students continued to take their classes no matter what the election results were.

A similar story has to do with the renaming of Calhoun Hall at Yale University. Since Senator Calhoun was pro-slavery, his name on a building triggered certain African American students. They didn’t like this, protested to the university, and the university decided to give in to them and to rename the building in honor of an African American graduate instead. In the past, things like this wouldn’t have flown. If you didn’t like that a residence hall at a university was named after George Custer or Fr. Pierre Jean DeSmet, you kept your mouth shut and you dealt with it. The battle was not worth the fight and the university probably wouldn’t budge either because it had more of a backbone.

When I was studying for my Master’s degree at a Catholic college, there was an annual debate about whether to have The Vagina Monologues staged on campus around Valentine’s Day. This debate spilled into the student newspaper and it was hotly discussed at faculty senate and regents meetings. In the past, the group that sponsored and ran this play was forced to take it to an off campus location. The play, according to members of the faculty and the university, was deemed obscene. Today, the play can be seen at the university’s central play house and there is not a darn thing that anybody can do about it. The university president, the faculty and the staff, and the Board of Regents caved because if they didn’t allow the play to be hosted on campus, the university could be sued.

Professors are much more interested in protesting the latest political injustices now than they are in teaching. In California, I took a graduate level seminar on politics and literature during the Renaissance. For the most part, politics was what we talked about. We talked more about what The Book of the Courtier was about in terms of sexual mores than we did about the contents of said book itself. We read Utopia and we sat around the table talking about how to advise a politically correct Renaissance prince. The course culminated in a post-colonial discussion about Shakespeare’s The Tempest and the racist portrayal of Caliban in that play. Indeed, every subject imaginable is now viewed through a politically correct prism because every act is a political act.

A final problem with modern university education is that it doesn’t seek to educate the whole person. Many colleges have thrown out their core curriculums and honors courses because they are discriminatory against certain minorities. Education has become oriented towards the lowest common denominator and if a student wants to learn about Chekhov or Balzac or the structure of Wagner’s Ring, they are forced to do it on their own by looking up the books in the library, reading them, and trying to assimilate them without a helping hand from the faculty. Indeed, their university experience won’t change them or impact them in any meaningful way apart from them being brain washed, politically correct automatons.

The saddest part about university education today is that a safe space cannot possibly prepare a young person for the real world. The real world is not a safe space. There are many things out there that are offensive or microaggressive or however you want to term them. If a young person spends his or her entire life in a bubble during college, they will not know how to deal with anything or anyone outside of that bubble. Indeed, a university education today isn’t worth the student loans that young people shell out for it. It’s better to read the complete works of the great writers on a Kindle than to attend a university where politics is the name of the game.

Triggered to Death

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I first heard about trigger warnings on tumblr. I was in the independent roleplaying community and wrote various characters from comic books, movies, and classic works of literature. Trigger warnings didn’t become something I noticed on a regular basis until last year. That was when everyone except the old geezers like myself started using them. Everyone had their triggers listed in their rules and you were supposed to include their triggers in the tags whenever you posted something. I never used trigger warnings for a long time, but then I started getting hateful anonymous messages to either use trigger warnings or else. I did that for a long time until I quit the community altogether, but that’s a story for another day.

So, what are trigger warnings? A trigger is something that can cause discomfort, a panic attack, or some other adverse feelings in someone who is a victim of a crime, a member of a minority community, or suffering from a mental illness. For example, a person who has epilepsy is triggered by flashing lights, a person who was sexually assaulted by a family member might be triggered by incest, and so on. A trigger warning basically says that this content can be found in the media that is being consumed. On tumblr, we always used the following tags: “incest tw” or “incest cw” (cw = content warning). If something was mentioned, then it would be a _________________ (insert your favorite triggering topic here) and mention.

I have nothing against content warnings, but there comes a point where they become ridiculous. For example, I remember people putting trigger warning tags on gifs because, apparently, someone out there was triggered by them. There were also people who put trigger warnings on other things that, in reality, couldn’t have triggered anyone. For example, I remember someone putting a trigger warning on their blog and including the word bees. I’m allergic to bees and I’m afraid of bees, but a picture does not send me into a full blown panic attack. If it did, then yes, I would be triggered, but I am not.

Recently, trigger warnings  have made their way onto college campuses. At some institutions of higher learning, professors have to put trigger warnings on their syllabuses if a certain work of literature or art contains highly objectionable material. The same thing goes for history classes and psychology classes, I’m sure. However, how are students supposed to learn anything if they decide to abstain because a work of literature like Shakespeare’s Macbeth triggers them? How are they supposed to learn about vengeance and jealousy if they don’t read Shakespeare’s Othello? How are they supposed to have anything remotely resembling an education if all of it is censored by a professor who is deathly afraid of a backlash by the students or the university?

The reality is that they won’t. When I was in college, one of my favorite professors was an alcoholic who said nasty things about women. Many people in our class found his content objectionable. However, we had enough self-respect not to confront him directly in front of our classmates. We either went to the department chair and talked to him about it, we transferred to another Shakespeare class, or we just let it slide or skipped as many classes as we could without flunking. Of course, that wouldn’t happen today. This professor would be dragged through the mud, confronted in the classroom, videotaped making problematic statements, and then he would have to answer before the administration of the university for his opinions. And, no, he probably wouldn’t have put trigger warnings on his syllabus to warn little Suzy and Johnny that there would be all kinds of objectionable content in his class.

Trigger warnings exist because the younger generations want their college experience to be a safe space where they do not have to confront the realities of everyday life. The truth of the matter is that everyone is triggered by something every single day. We cannot censor all of the media that we consume. We cannot censor every newspaper or website because it contains materials that someone somewhere will find objectionable. That’s not how the system works, but that’s how these people would like it to work.

At the end of the day, trigger warnings are another method whereby our free speech can be controlled and censored. Instead of writing what we want, we are forced to cater to a few people far younger than ourselves. Instead of teaching the great works of literature as they are, we are told that we have to teach the Spark Notes version where all of the blood, guts, gore, and other evil behaviors are redacted. That’s not how it works and it never has. If we cannot have free discussions in our society, then we are living under a totalitarian regime pure and simple.

The Benedict Option

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“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of faith.” – Tertullian

Recently, there has been a great deal of discussion on the internet about the Benedict Option. The Benedict Option is a call for Christians to retreat from society and the public square in order to rebuild it.  The idea itself is based on the life of St. Benedict of Nursia and the Benedictines he founded. However, there are many aspects of this idea that have often struck me as being at odds with what I have learned about St. Benedict, the Benedictine spirit, and Christianity as a whole over the last few years.

First of all, St. Benedict did not run away from Rome in order to build monasteries. When he left, that was the furthest thing from his mind. St. Benedict fled because he wanted to save his soul. The call to monasticism is ultimately about this. It is not about fleeing the evils of the society in which we find ourselves. It is not about running away from our problems. It is about saving our souls first and foremost in silence, work, and daily prayer.

This is a point that cannot be overstated. The monastic  life doesn’t exist as a place where people can run away from their problems. As the Fathers have taught, a man who comes to a monastery to flee his problems will find them magnified once he enters and they will ultimately drive him away. There is no place in a monastery for political discussions. There is no place there for the concerns of the world that surrounds us. A monastery exists so that being isolated from the world the monks can save their souls.

Another glaring problem with the Benedict Option is the idea that Christians must retreat from society so that it can be rebuilt at some point in the future. During times of tremendous persecution, Christians have never hidden their faith. They may have gone underground and worshiped in the catacombs or in secret churches or in each other’s homes, but there has always been a witness to Christianity that has been found in the public square all over the world. Thousands upon thousands of martyrs have died for their the Faith and their blood has become its seed.

Christianity would not have triumphed all over the world without the blood of all those martyrs and confessors who gave their lives for it. If it had remained a small, underground Jewish sect, it would have vanished liked the Essenes did centuries before. The witness of the martyrs is one of the most powerful in the Church and goes back to its very beginnings to the apostles themselves. All of the apostles except St. John were martyred in some way. St. Peter was crucified, St. Jude was beaten with a club, St. Bartholomew was flayed alive, and St. Simon was impaled on a spear.

Our Lord said that we are a city set on a hill and the salt of the earth. A city set on a hill is not one that can be easily hidden. It is one that is seen by everyone in the surrounding area. It is a beacon of light and hope and salvation. We cannot hide ourselves if we are in that situation to begin with. We cannot climb down from the hill and live in the valley. We must stand where we are with our feet firmly planted in the ground and we must bear witness to that which we believe and which has always been believed by millions over the last two thousand years.

It is important and necessary for us to emphasize here that St. Benedict sent his two closest disciples St. Maurus and St. Placidus to evangelize the world and to build monasteries in France and southern Italy. Benedictine monasticism spread like wildfire not just because of the Rule, but because there were many people who were attracted to that specific way of life. The monks themselves led by example and it was that example that drew so many to join them.

The Benedict Option’s appeal, it seems to me, is for people who are tired of fighting the culture wars and who see the dark clouds gathering on the horizon. However, there will always be persecution. There will always be trials. There will always be temptations. Whether we live in the world or not, we are always going to be pulled in one direction or another. We cannot hide or retreat from that. We cannot put our lamp underneath a bushel or pray that clouds hide the city that is set on a hill. It is our duty to be witnesses and martyrs to Christianity. If we do not stand up for what we believe, nobody will.

The Call

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Septuagesima Sunday is the beginning of a short season in the Church’s calendar that prepares the faithful for Ash Wednesday and the Holy Season of Lent. During this period of time, the Gospels are about the different ways in which God calls each of us to serve Him. On Septuagesima Sunday, we hear the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.

As I meditated on this parable today, I thought about the many times in life when God has called saints to serve Him. There were some who were called as children and during their youth. There were others that were called in middle age. There were some who were called shortly before their deaths or when they had entered an age during which they thought that their conversion was impossible. Indeed, God calls all men and women to serve Him in some capacity.

The call to serve is not something dramatic. Usually, there isn’t an incident that happens on the road to Damascus where we are struck blind like St. Paul and see the error of our ways. Instead, the call is something quiet, but very persistent. It happens in the very depths of our hearts.  If we are truly called to serve God in some way, we will hear that call over and over and over again. Of course, we can drown it out by listening to music, trying to forget God’s existence, or living only for the pleasures of this world, but it won’t completely deafen it. The call will always be there.

One of my favorite stories about how saints have received their vocations is about St. Ignatius of Loyola. He was, to all intents and purposes, a very worldly young man. He wrote poetry, courted young ladies and princesses, jousted, and did all of the things that young noblemen were expected to do in Renaissance Spain. One day during the siege of Pamplona, he received a cannonball to the leg. That cannonball was an instrument of God’s providence. Eventually, Ignatius found himself lying on a bed with a foot that had not been set well by the doctors. He asked his mother and sisters to give him something to read, but all the family had were the Lives of the Saints and The Imitation of Christ. Those books changed Ignatius’s life, but he would never have heard God’s voice had it not been for that cannonball.

Another story that comes to mind is about St. John Baptist de La Salle, the patron saint of teachers. He was born into a wealthy aristocratic family, received his seminary education at Paris, and was ordained a priest. When he returned to Rheims, he thought he would spend the rest of his life as a canon at the cathedral reciting the Divine Office every day. One day, however, he was approached by a friend who needed a chaplain for a school. La Salle agreed to be the school’s chaplain, but then found that the teachers at the school didn’t know how to teach and that they didn’t have anywhere to live. He began writing manuals on education and housed the teachers in his own house where he educated them. That was the beginning of his work and we owe much of our modern education system to these humble beginnings.

Of course, there are the stories of the martyrs as well. Numerous times, there were ordinary men and women who saw a Christian being tortured in the arena or by a judge. By seeing the heroic example of these men and women, these bystanders were converted and announced that they too were Christians.  They too suffered and died for the Christian faith and their memory is kept by the Church in the Roman Martyrology.

Most of us will not receive the same calls as St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. John Baptist de La Salle, or the martyrs of the Early Church. However, each of us is called every day to live a holy and blameless life before God. We are asked, enjoined, and commanded to serve Him in this world, so that we may be able to see His glory in the next. It is our duty to discern the vocation to which we are being called by Him whether it be as religious, monastics, married, or single, and then we should say “Yes” and give ourselves wholeheartedly to whatever our vocations might be. Amen.