Is Hugh Hefner in Hell?


Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine is dead.

The Catholic Church teaches that at the moment of death the eternal destiny of each soul is determined. You go up or you go down.

Hugh Hefner led a life that was not only sexually self indulgent, but it objectified women, glamorized sin and caused millions to dive into sin with carefree abandon. He not only hurt women, but helped in the breakdown of marriage, the destruction of the family and contributed to the culture of contraception, abortion and death. Predictably, he is being hailed as a trailblazer, a man ahead of his time, an entrepreneur and a great American.

“Playboy” was an apt name because his hedonistic lifestyle encouraged millions of men to treat sex as play time and to remain boys–addicted to adolescent fantasies about sex. A man who sold women? Entrepreneur is one name. I can think of a few others. A trailblazer? What he did may have been daring, but it was not new.

But let’s cut to the chase. The man is dead. The question remains– is Hugh Hefner in hell?

It’s not for me, or anyone to determine that. Any soul, at any time, up to the last moment may experience the grace of repentance and faith. He was ninety one. In his final years of old age did he have regrets? Did he turn to the light? We don’t know. We can hope.

Saint Faustina had a private vision in which every soul, and the point of death, saw the merciful Christ who asked three times, “Do you love me?” and only the souls who refused his love three times would depart into the dark.

Maybe those who would condemn Hugh Hefner can see beneath the celebrity fornicator a lonely little boy looking for love. Maybe when he came face to face with the source of Love he said “Yes, this is what I have been looking for all my life…”

On the other hand, St Faustina was no softy when it comes to hell, and we’re not to conclude that everybody will say yes to Jesus’ invitation. FAustina  warns soberly about the reality of hell and shares her vision of it. If you want to read what she saw go here.

Now, some have speculated that the choice St Faustina visualizes is the summary of all the soul’s choices on earth. If Hugh Hefner rejected his Christian upbringing and turned from the Beautiful True Love of Christ every time he was exposed to it in his earthly life, the hope that at the end he would make a different choice seems remote.

We don’t know. It is God’s mercy not our condemnation that matters.

Hugh Hefner’s death gives the opportunity to ask why the Catholic Church condemns pornography and the Playboy lifestyle.

“What’s wrong with looking at pictures of pretty ladies?” you might well ask.

There is nothing wrong with the naked human form as such. God made it and God doesn’t make junk. Certainly the classical understanding of the nude in art is that it is possible to appreciate the nude human form for its ideal beauty without eroticism.

However, this was not what Playboy was about and everybody knows it. This was not aesthetic appreciation of the human form, nor was it love. It was lust, and like all lust one thing leads to another. There is little doubt that we would be experiencing the epidemic of porn in our society if it weren’t for Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine.

Pornography is one sin in a long list of sexual sins: adultery, fornication, masturbation, prostitution, homosexual actions, pedophilia, artificial contraception, abortion…you know the whole list.

But why are these things wrong? Simply because some old men in red robes in Rome decided to come up with a list of naughty things to make people feel guilty about? Are they wrong because purse lipped puritans disapprove? Is it wrong because Christians think sex is dirty?

No. Something is wrong because it distorts or destroys something that is beautiful, good and true. Evil is nothing positive and good. It is always a good thing broken or twisted or destroyed. I explore this theme further in my book Praying the Rosary for Spiritual Warfare.

The sexual sins are wrong because they break the beautiful, true and good thing called marriage. God created man and woman to love one.another and give themselves to one another totally, and from this to bring forth new life and new eternal souls.

Marriage is a delicate and difficult gift. It breaks easily. It requires a lifetime of dedication, hard work and self sacrifice. A good marriage is a rare, beautiful and eternal incarnation of love in which both persons are treasured.

In sacramental marriage we experience the divine graces that give us a ladder to heaven. Marriage expresses the love God has for us. He is the bridegroom. We are the bride. Marriage is therefore a sacred, God given joy and the sexual act seals it and makes it complete. The sexual act is therefore, sacramental.

The sexual sins that Playboy promoted spit on all that. They trample that. They pull down the ladder to heaven and break it. The little boys playing with themselves and looking at pictures are avoiding true love and running from that sacrifice and that sacrament. The result is women treated as playthings. The result is unwanted pregnancies, abandoned women and aborted children.

Is Hugh Hefner in hell? I hope not.

If St Faustina’s vision is correct I hope he saw true love and said “I’m sorry. I accept your love. Let me go now and serve my time and be purified.”

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This article was originally printed on the website Patheos

Written by Father Dwight Longenecker

Fr. Longenecker is a former Evangelical, then an Anglican priest, now a Catholic priest. Fr. Dwight enjoys movies, blogging, books, riding his motorcycle and visiting Benedictine monasteries. He’s married to Alison. They have four children, named Benedict, Madeleine, Theodore and Elias. They live in Greenville, South Carolina with a black Labrador named Anna, a chocolate Lab named Felicity, a cat named James and various other pets. His website can be found here.


My Journey to Becoming a Jedi

catholic-jediFor the past 15 years of my life I have trained as a Jedi. I am yet far from being a master, and I will no doubt be in training for all the days I have remaining, but I can see things now that I did not see before, and I know things that have transformed me. It has not been an easy journey. It has been a formidable and merciless walk, fraught with disappointments and skin shredding sufferings but here I am today and I here is my journey.

Star Wars is a masterpiece. As a cult phenomenon, it has captured the hearts of generations. It is welcomed in any conversation, in almost any setting. It moves us to frenzy when we contemplate the interplay of light and dark, good and evil. It lifts us from reality and fills our minds with dreams of power and passion, battle and strength. Adventure stirs a longing for a world where we could engage the forces that threaten humanity, that seek to destroy all that is beautiful. The words of Yoda are clear:

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

“If you end your training now — if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did — you will become an agent of evil.”

catholic-jedi-4The journey to becoming a Jedi is one of mastering your emotions. The novice must come to a place where they are no longer swayed by their emotions, but have become masters over their emotions. A Jedi may feel the urge to act according to an emotion, but they have the strength to choose not to act. Emotions are natural and they are designed to help us. Love causes us to act for the good of a person we love. Fear causes us to avoid situations or people that may be dangerous to us. Emotions are good, but the Jedi is aware that they can also be treacherous. They can lead us into harm. Desire for Revenge can hurt us for example. A Jedi can decide freely to act or not, using reason. He has that power and freedom, because his emotions do not control him. The man who is not a Jedi is manipulated by his emotions. He has no choice, no freedom. He is a slave.

I awoke to the treachery of emotion after observing the behavior of my male friends years ago. Many of those men had girlfriends and wives. Some of them even had children. Yet in a typical night out with them I watched them fall to their desires, and often they took home other women while their babies slept sound in their beds. Something was wrong. Those men engaged in such behaviors even though their partners would have been devastated to find out. How could they not feel the humanity of their loved ones? Why were they driven to death?

I was lost. If I could not call their actions wrong then how could I stop anyone from treating me badly? I had to be able to say, “no, what you are doing causes destruction to your life and the lives of others and you must stop.” I had to have an ability to recognize good and bad. I needed a guide; a universal principle that applied to all humanity, because it’s absence meant all action, even evil, was acceptable. It was then, in those moments of confusion, that I picked up my sword, my rosary, and began to do battle.

Gradually, it came to me. My friends were not in battle. They had succumbed to their emotion. They were defeated. They had embraced the dark side and fallen to their base animal desires for self-pleasure. I do remember them getting into physical fights outside bars, but all that was a farce. Their punching others was a shadow of real masculinity. Their pathetic efforts had no struggle. It was easy. Their fighting was just another self-indulgent spectacle of pretend anger and pride. Emotion ruled them.

catholic-jedi-3In my battles I have witnessed an almighty struggle to remain true to the good while avoiding the seemingly easy fall to the dark side. Indeed, I have fallen often in weakness, but every time I have clambered to my feet and struggled on. My wife has needed me to be with her as we faced times of sickness and hardship. Her holiness was my only goal. My children were entitled to my time. I worked hard to hold them up and guide them in the light of Truth, the force. I could have left my home to find comfort in the pub. I could have closed myself in a room, hidden away, playing games, watching movies and avoiding the labour of family life. The temptation was real, but they needed me. It was my choice to give. I had to engage the force, prayer to God the Spirit who granted me the grace to know, and the strength to follow. My heart said “relax,” my conscience yelled “give.”

In monasteries throughout the world there are hooded men dedicated to a Jedi craft, of mastering emotion, of living with the force through continuous and self-giving prayer to God. He grants them strength and grace. Those men are true knights of the light. They battle day and night with darkness and they dispel darkness in our lives through a dedication to mastering their own emotional movements so they can pray for us.

Out in our world so many young men are victims to cultural influences. One perfect example is the use of pornography. Poor men are shackled to this insidious practice that eats their minds like maggots eat flesh. “It is harmless,” they say. “It is natural.” Ask them to stop for three months. They are powerless. Enslaved. It destroys their connection with others and their capacity for love. They are emasculated and their women weep.

catholic-jedi-2Becoming a Jedi is not easy but falling to the dark side is effortless. Truly becoming Catholic is near impossible, but it is the ideal we must always strive for. The only other option is the devil and he prowls like a roaring lion seeking to devour you and those you love. His tool is the manipulation of your emotions to entice you to engage in activities and thoughts that will ultimately destroy you. Your only weapons are prayer, the sacraments and sacrifice, entering into God, where He will protect you and give you the grace necessary to win your battles. It requires a willingness to suffer and to embrace actions that will be repugnant to the senses. Yet we must, for it is our only choice. The other side is too horrible to even contemplate, and living with that for eternity is a nightmare reserved for the damned.

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My Weekend in Portglenone Monastery

monastery-retroIt was a cold, dreary night in early December when I pulled up to the big white door of the Guesthouse, at Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey in Portglenone, County Antrim. I could see dim lights in windows nestled in far off corners, and I received the sighing wind, crooning through trees and unseen corridors. Nothing moved. Above me my Queen gazed down, and lovingly willed my entry with her Christ child’s blessing. I moved forward.

It was in the lobby that I met my counsel. A tall, broad man greeted me with a smile, a simple nod of the head and a thick Armagh accent. Several doors surrounded him leading off to unknown haunts and crevices. I took him for shy in a manner, as a man less accustomed to social converse, or at least more in favor of reservation, but I was wrong. What I mistook for timidity was later revealed to be a heartfelt humility and a longing for peace with our Lord. He was a man who knew much, and yet here he was taking time from his routine to receive me, with warmth as sincere as were he attending to Christ Himself. “Hello,” he said, “I am Father Celsus. I am the Abbot here. You are very welcome. How was your drive?” It was good.

monastery-4-retroHe showed me upstairs to my quarters and as we walked he introduced me to the layout of the building and the grounds outside. I was a good hour late, and by that time the Cistercian monks of the monastery were asleep, but Abbot Dom Celsus gave no indication of inconvenience. After I had settled my bags, he sat with me in conversation as I ate. He listened mostly. What were my thoughts? How did I come to be there? I talked as though it were important. He listened as though only One Will really mattered.

My night was short. After I retired to my room I sat on my bed savouring the absolute silence. Not even the distant sound of civilization was evident. I felt curiously restless and unsettled. I had been alone before and I even enjoyed my own company, yet here I was troubled by an internal something. I closed my eyes with an emotion of anxious anticipation. Having set my alarm for 3.00am, I awoke and rose after only a few hours. Tired though I was, Abbot Celsus had indicated the time for Vigils, Morning Prayer, and I wanted every opportunity to immerse myself as fully as possible into Cistercian life. I dressed and made my way outside. It was bitterly cold and the wind cut me, but the courtyard was absent of life, wild and raw. I traversed my path, down a stone corridor toward the immense grey abbey, which stood like a steadfast fortress against the onslaught of progressivism.

monastery-6-retroUp stairs and through passages, I finally found the palatial hall containing our King and there I knelt in veneration. “Oh God have mercy!” The monks shuffled in quietly one by one in their white and black attire. They held to their vow of silence. Something deep and ancient was occurring. They did not acknowledge me. They did not even look in my direction. They attended their places behind two long wooden rows of tables, obedient and intent. A large wooden crucifix hung above the altar. It bestowed an unmistakable essence filling the vastness of the room. To this day, the influence of that cross sears my memory and compels me back, as though my spirit dwelt with it. When in need of peace I close my eyes and rest there. The monks began simply and ended simply. Their elemental chanting of the psalms was profoundly moving. It was a place where no concern existed only God. God was the focus; God was the goal. As they recited, “Glory be the Father…” they bowed. I bowed with them because for those brief moments I was one of them; I was one with them, in Him.

I prayed many hours with those men in the presence of that cross and the Holy Eucharist. I attended all prayer times; Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline, savouring every moment. I participated in Holy Mass. When not in prayer, I worked with them. Even in work, God was present. I peeled potatoes and cleaned. I interacted with staff in the little gift store. I walked outside taking in the calm of the grounds and praying the Rosary. Although the monks took a vow of silence I had the opportunity to speak with several of them. One young monk in his twenties talked about his joy at living a life immersed in Christ. A second in his thirties was dedicating much time to reworking the beautiful Gregorian musical style of the chants I had been mesmerized by before. He had an advanced degree in music from Queens University and he spoke with joy at using his gift for God.

monastery-2-retroA third monk I spoke to was approaching his mid eighties. He was a brother and I was fascinated to discover he had not been outside the walls of the abbey in sixty years. I wanted to know everything about his life but he was unwilling to explore the past. His present was all that mattered and his future was given to God. Who or what he was before was in the hands of Jesus. He offered me advice about a vocation. He seemed to think that monastic life was my call and he assumed that I was discerning a vocation, so he offered me advice. “Your twenties is a good time to be entering,” he said. “At that stage you have experienced a little of life and you are more sure of where you are headed.” He longed for young faces to grace the walls of the monastery again. However, I feared he was unaware of the changes Ireland has endured in the sixty years he had been cloistered. Young men are no longer hearing God call them, being so engaged with a relentless and aggressive culture, which is determined to remove Catholicism.

Father Celsus found much time for me. He was often in deep contemplation, respectfully listening to my words. As leader of the monastery, he prayed for its growth that it might once again resound with the footsteps of young men, to carry it forth toward the future. Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey has stood in Portglenone since it’s founding in 1948 by the Trappist monks of Mount Melleray in County Waterford. The modern abbey has been operational since the 1960s. It sits on a site of 295 acres and the majority of that land is arable. It has all the elements necessary to support a family of people dedicated to living simply and independent of modern influence. People have become so busy today with technology and accumulating possessions, that they no longer know the peace of being free of responsibility and living for God alone. Certainly, the life of a monk involves work and sometime hard work, but it is more valuable than all the possessions in Ireland.

monastery-3-retroNot many people recognize the power of monastics in our world. While we busy ourselves with life and worldly care, those simple men are praying for us. I once heard monasteries described as the “powerhouses of the world,” as they keep the world alive with their prayers. If they were to disappear, our world would crumble, and yet today, many of the monks are aging and few young men are replacing them. How can we convince young men to give up so many modern comforts to replace it with something more difficult, but ultimately a life that would fill them with true and absolute serenity?

In today’s world, there is a great vocational crisis amongst young men and women. God is calling many to the priesthood, to monastic life, and yet those men cannot hear because the call is being drowned out by the noise of the world. It seems rare to find young men or women who take the time to be silent, and to listen to the voice of God searching, seeking relentlessly. We push Him away, we ignore.

monastery-5-retroAs my time at Portglenone monastery drew to a close, I considered the treasure I was leaving behind. My vocational call lay elsewhere. I knew that with certainty, but I also could not shake the voice of God imploring me to be silent and to listen. He was speaking, and he would lead me on. I could be afraid of nothing if I trusted Him to shepherd. God is whispering to us all, and if we would only let him in then the world would be healed.

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I was an Atheist Until I Read “The Lord of the Rings”

lotr-900x541I grew up in a loving, comfortable atheist household of professional scientists. My dad was a lapsed Catholic, and my mom was a lapsed Lutheran. From the time that I could think rationally on the subject, I did not believe in God. God was an imaginary being for which there was no proof. At best, God was a fantasy for half-witted people to compensate their ignorance and make themselves feel better about their own mortality. At worst, God was a perverse delusion responsible for most of the atrocities committed by the human race.

What broke the ice? What made me consider God’s existence a real possibility? The Lord of the Rings. I was a young teenager when I first read the Tolkien tomes, and it immediately captivated me. The fantasy world of Middle-Earth oozes life and profundity. The cultures of the various peoples are organic, rooted in tradition while maintaining a fresh, living energy. Mountains and forests have personalities, and the relationship between people and earth is marked by stewardship and intimacy. Creation knowing creation. Tolkien describes these things with beautiful prose that reads like its half poetry and half medieval history. Everything seems “deep” in The Lord of the Rings. The combination of character archetypes and assertive “lifeness” in the novel touches on an element of fundamental humanity. Every Lord of the Rings fan knows exactly what I’m talking about.

In my narrow confines of scientism, I had no way of processing what made Tolkien’s masterpiece so profound. How could a made-up fantasy world reveal anything about the “truth”? But I knew it did, and this changed my way of thinking. Are good and evil merely social constructions, or are they real on a deeper level? Why am I relating to ridiculous things like talking trees and corrupted wraiths? Why was I so captivated by this story that made fighting evil against all odds so profound? Why did it instill in me a longing for an adventure of the arduous good? And how does the story make sacrifice so appealing? The Lord of the Rings showed me a world where things seemed more “real” than the world I lived in. Not in a literal way, obviously; in a metaphorical, beyond-the-surface way. The beautiful struggle and self-sacrificial glory permeating The Lord of the Rings struck a chord in my soul and filled me with longing that I couldn’t easily dismiss.

My attempts to explain these problems in my naturalistic, atheistic worldview fell flat. The idea that being, beauty, and morality were merely productive illusions imposed on us through biological hardwiring crafted through the random process of natural selection rang hollow. If things so fundamental to human existence as meaning and morality are nothing more than productive illusions, what else is untrustworthy? Our five senses? Logical process? Our whole minds? If our being is nothing more than a collection of atoms reacting with each other in enormous complexity through cause and effect chains stretching back to the beginning, then we are floating blindly through space and time: there’s no rhyme, reason, or purpose. And, if that’s the case, then so much of what we consider essentially human is tragic a joke. After all, the human race, the earth, and the universe will go extinct. With a long enough timeline, what’s the point? Even the idea of accomplishing something is finally an illusion. At this juncture, the fruits of atheism were inevitable: nihilism, despair, and, most ironically, confusion.

Though seriously questioning atheism, I still had many objections. If God were real, why isn’t there more evidence for his existence? If God were real, why are there so many religions? Wouldn’t God want to clearly direct humanity to the source of truth? My doubts about atheism, however, continued to haunt me. If the supernatural does not exist, how can there be genuine moral obligations? The classic atheist response is that evolution has created a sophisticated herd instinct in the human race that causes us to want to be good to each other. Those people who lacked a moral compass were simply outcompeted by those of us with a sense of morality – those who could work together for our collective benefit.

Deep down, though, I knew this was specious. Even if it could fully account for our moral sense, which I questioned, it did not explain genuine moral obligations. Supposing the classic evolutionary theory of morality is true, it only explains why we perceive moral obligations; not whether (or why) there are moral obligations. Instead of explaining morality, it explains it away. The thorough-going immoralist could always object on the basis that he has been freed from the restrictive, outdated biological hardwiring of merely perceived moral obligations. My atheist friends and family would inevitably respond with something like, “Well, the immoralist’s position has never been fully successful, while there is historical evidence that generally being a ‘good person’ leads to a better ability to succeed, pass on ‘good person’ genes, etc.” Only sort of true. Much of history teaches that violence, greed, and domination pay off handsomely in the worldly sense.

But, the responses miss the point. Just because being a thorough-going immoralist hasn’t seemed to work to date doesn’t mean it wouldn’t later. After all, the hallmark of natural selection is random genetic change granting certain creatures a better ability to survive in a given environment. In the end, all the atheist can say to the immoralist is, “I disagree that your course of action will help the human race succeed.” That kind of statement, which is merely an opinion, is simply not what we mean when we say an action is immoral. Furthermore, who pronounced from on high that the success of the human race was the ultimate good? That itself is an assumption that cannot be empirically proven. Going back to the original problem, does “good” even exist? I realized that within the purely naturalistic worldview, all morality is finally a matter of opinion. All the moralist can say to the immoralist is, “My opinion is different than yours.” No more productive than arguing whether red is better than blue. I should clarify here that I never doubted the theory of human evolution. Nothing about it contradicts God’s order of creation. I’m also not saying that atheists are immoral. They just can’t account for the existence of genuine moral obligations. They are, like I was, living in great tension.

At some point the tension was too much: either morality is a farce, everything is random with no meaning, and the human mind is mired in inescapable confusion or atheism is false. I chose the latter. That was the logical side. On the emotional side, so many joys in this world have nothing to do with self-preservation or successful reproduction: art, music, a beautiful sunset, etc. I think deep down we all recognize that those kinds of aesthetic experiences may be the most joyful in this life, and these joys serve no productive purpose. The richness of life, which is on full poetic display in Tolkien’s Middle Earth, made me recognize that supposedly rational atheism did not reveal the truth of things; instead, it removed their intrinsic wonder and worth.

Having abandoned atheism, I still faced several objections to organized religion that are beyond the scope of this post. Suffice it to say that my critique of atheism gave me a natural monotheistic theology while The Lord of the Rings predisposed me to a sacramental spirituality. For now, however, let us remember the evangelistic power of beauty and narrative. Much like The Lord of the Rings, they are effective precisely because God is hidden and able to fly below the atheist radar that balks at anything overtly religious. In Middle Earth, the effects of a God-created universe are everywhere, but the source, God Himself, is hidden. No, it’s not that we believers understand The Lord of the Rings on some special level that the atheist does not. Just the opposite. The atheist who truly understands The Lord of the Rings is more of a believer than he thinks.

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This article was originally printed on the website Word on Fire

138Written by 
Fredric lives with his wife and their daughter in the Lansing, Michigan area, where he also works as an attorney. Born and raised in an atheist family, Fredric dismissed religion until his late teenage years when he abandoned atheism. He entered the Catholic Church in 2006 during his freshman year of college and loves sharing his story.

End of the Line

end-of-the-lineI locked in the last shovel-full of soil, and tossed it over my shoulder as wee Barney called me to grab my coat. He was a man pushing seventy-six years of life. Yet, here he was, spritely as a man half that, jumping in and out of the back of lorries and heaving even the heaviest loads. He had worked his days on some building site or other. He wore the face of a well-grafted soldier dedicated to his craft, and yet his craft was humble. He dug holes for a living, mixed concrete and shifted dirt. He did what he was toul’ to do, and he was known to have faced even the rancid jobs, that lesser men have ran from.

I watched him bounce into the trailer on the back of the oul’ blue lorry, now as old, worn and concrete covered as he was. The lorry stood in stark contrast with the dreary, rain-drenched, red brick buildings surrounding it. “Hi lad, com’ere and gee’ma hand,” he called over, with a cigarette danglin’ from his lower lip. I helped him pull the mixer on. He placed it. Then down he pounced, and up into the cab. They talked about him you know? “Good worker,” they said, and he was surely.

Barney’s fortune with health was short. He took a stroke not five years after that day, and it laid him up. It bound him to his home, and now he is rarely seen. The priest carries him Communion every Sunday on his rounds. He is taken care off by his son and daughter who live near by.

I listened to Barney all those days we worked together, me a young man earning my name, and him a forgotten hero with claim to fame. We became close as the days passed, for those situations tend to elicit an Irish man’s bond. We grafted together, allied in a common struggle to achieve our goal. He had such stories to relate and yarns to spin. He imposed upon me journeys of navigation and crimes of negotiation. He was a wanderer, a riddler, a rogue, and a swain. As truth attested, he was a fine footballer, and he even played for his county. He was a heavy drinker, smoked like a train and he certainly appreciated feminine affection. Indeed, what a life he led, and yet, in spite of his pride, here he was in the cab of our lorry, chowing down a sandwich and staring into some unknown place, exuding an underlying melancholic aura, which my younger mind was unable to place at the time.
endBarney had lost his wife not long before we worked together. He still had his children, but you could tell that losing her weighed heavy upon his breast. The more we sat together, the more he related to me the circumstances of her last moments. He harbored anger and resentment about the manner under which she went. Strong though he was, he was powerless to prevent it, and those that held the power had let him down. In his life, her presence had meant something profound to him, and yet he rarely noted it. She was always there for him, to take him back even after long absences, where he squandered his money and time on anything but his family duties. She was his home and his warmth.

When I think about Barney now I remember his deep regret at the way he lived his life. He had two beautiful children who longed for his fatherly guidance and masculine presence. He had a wife who could have benefitted from his friendship and support, his input into the running of important household matters. While he was out drinking, his boy was growing, playing football, getting involved in friendships and relationships that could have used Barney’s experience to help him traverse. His daughter was waiting, forming her image of male interaction and finding only the empty chair of a father who cared more for a glass of amber liquid. Barney knew he had let them down and he understood the consequences. He had awareness of how things should have been. I know he sensed that his role was to have been there. He should have been available for them when they needed him. He should have been there to shepherd them when they strayed and to hold them when they fell. Alas, they had to do it without him.

Giving up your life for others is never easy. It is far more enjoyable to sit in a pub with your buddies and to drink to the small hours. There is nothing hard about ordering a pint. It is never difficult to yell agreement with others, telling them exactly what they want to hear, so you receive a pat on the back or a laugh. How comfortable it is to leave the hard work at home and to abdicate your responsibilities to your family. While you sit on your padded bar throne swallowing to forget, your wife is wiping their noses, cleaning their wounds, tucking them to bed, reading them stories and answering their prayers.

Sitting in the cab of that old blue lorry, Barney considered what he had squandered. He had chosen a life of meaningless momentary amusements and lost what was worth all the gold in heaven. No doubt he had other men who applauded him and gave praise to his “independent living”, but the emptiness of their words echoed now like crackling frost in his ears. Finally, he recognized that strength is the man who gives his last breath to his wife and children, who places himself at the heart of his family and raises it up like a pillar. At last, he perceived that joy is the reward of a man to roll his children in his arms, to watch them bloom. Assuredly, he now comprehended that true comfort is to hold your wife, and love her. Oh God, if only more men realized this before it was gone. What a nation we would have.

Dedicated fatherhood breeds confidence in a child, admiration in a woman and unity in a family. It’s influence reaches beyond the walls of the home and instills a wider devotion to the good of the community. Neighbors commit to the good of neighbors because fathers committed to the good of them.

In silence, I pondered my old friend as he wrestled with his demons and I was sad for him. I wished he could take back his life and relive again. But here at the end of the line all he had were regrets, and recognition that his time was gone. My prayer today is for young men to awaken to the model of Saint Joseph as father and to rededicate their lives, no matter how hard or tiresome, to loving their families with an active and involved love. In that, they will discover the peace of the baby Jesus.

God bless you this Christmas!

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Ideological Desolation: The Darkening of the Irish Mind

sand stormFrom a third floor window, I leaned out slightly into the dull, rusty light of the evening. I did not expect to see or hear others. The shaking sides of the wooden building made me wonder, “Who could venture out?” I could barely make out a shape in the suffocated sky. Desolation abound. The sand swelled in leaps and swirls, consuming the trees. The pale light of street lamps barely protruded the darkened smother. The wind cursed the sun. Sharp, piercing particles bristled my beard and floated aimlessly upward, and down to the gloom below. How long had it been blowing? I was not sure now the time I had even been sitting there watching for life and movement. Nothing emerged. The dreary evening sobbed and croaked to it’s end, then from nowhere, a shuddering wail of a foghorn ululating, through the void. A great grey hulk, a ghostly ship proceeding forth from emptiness, unstoppable, unbreakable, bold and brawn. I watched it pass, and then back to emptiness it was gone.

We live in an ideological wasteland. We are wandering workers in a world of weeping. Wide-eyed wimps wield weapons of immense weight and we are mere spectators as the wild wind creeps forward toward us like a tide. Sometimes we have nothing to contribute. Our shallow efforts are miniscule sideshows to a giant impending theatre. Immovable and unchangeable, no dent is made upon the seemingly endless penetration of harsh indifference. What can we do but wait and wane?

I sat thinking about the world we live in today. I thought about my children and the choices I must make to ensure they grow to be strong, confident and virtuous adults in a world that often eschews virtuous life. I reflected upon the influences that will besiege them as they grow. In my experience, parental influence is surely important. However, as my children get older they will be increasingly affected by the ideas of their peers and, to a lesser extent but still significant, by the teachers who directly or indirectly present them with information. I am faced with the prospect that most people today no longer embrace a life fully directed toward becoming an ideal, virtuous person.

Let me be clear. My concern today is not that people turn away from virtue necessarily. What troubles me most is that, in today’s world, virtue is condemned and vice is celebrated. I sometimes have an overwhelming sense of helplessness when faced with the prospect of directing my children to effectively contend with ideas that encourage them to abandon the virtuous human ideal for lesser ideals, which direct them more toward visceral pleasure than virtuous joy.

Giant-SunAs any parent should, I love my children with absolute giving to the point that I would bequeath every effort for their good. However, I am faced with the decision of sending them to be immersed in a culture that promotes ideology contrary to perfection. It is not only that they will be exposed to arguments in favor of vice but also, it is almost worse, that they might be exposed to mediocrity or indifference to virtue. It is likely that they will rarely have enthusiasm for virtue expressed to them through the words and especially the actions of adults and peers outside their family. They will be presented with people living lives that contradict virtue, making it seem like vice is the proper way to live. Culture today regularly celebrates promiscuity along with overindulgence on alcohol and drugs. It praises abortion, multiple forms of sexual deviance including homosexual actions, cohabitation without marriage, sex without commitment and pornography. Culture promotes independence despite responsibility. It scorns holiness, as religion and virtue become mere sideshows to their depravity, something to make them feel good now and again.

At Mass my children rarely witness the wonder and awe that should be etched in the faces of adults who present themselves in a Church before the Blessed Sacrament, their God and King. As a parent, I can bend my knee and bow reverently before Jesus. However, if most other adults scoff at that reverence and my child’s peers laugh at such actions then how can my children harmonize with the beauty before them?

Every day we are besieged by ideology. It is communicated through multiple mediums: the news, politicians, academics, television, movies, social media. The ideology presented by these sources is overwhelmingly in favor of vice and in opposition to virtue. They declare vice as attractive and harmless. Rarely is their ideology challenged because those who wish to form the minds of others keep the voice of virtue as far from the public platform as possible. What is left is a massive collective mindset convinced by a popular thought and unmoved by anything contrary.

In Truth, the ideal we should be striving for is Jesus. If we are not continuously and constantly asking ourselves throughout every day how we can be more like Him then our lives are not good enough. Every waking thought should be focused upon how we can be more virtuous, more like Christ. If that goal becomes a sideshow for our life of pleasure then we have lost and if we allow out children to be immersed in that culture we have lost them.

What is the answer? I believe in the influence of holy parenting absolutely. Parents must equally be immersed in living lives of striving for ideal holiness. It is also vital that the father be completely committed to the holiness of his family. However, after that, I am convinced we need to introduce a more flexible education system in our country. Ireland, including the North of Ireland, needs to make independent schooling more available so that parents can form co-op communities as alternatives to the current entities that have lost their ability to direct the formation of children in virtue. We need schools that teach our children to question the current ideological climate and to think independently. We need our children to be equipped with the ability to hear an idea, question it logically, and either accept or reject it based on whether it is good for mankind or bad. It would be delightful if Catholic schools returned to the classical curriculum, the Trivium of grammar, logic and rhetoric, allowing children to examine and critique all ideas in light of Truth so that they can be sent into the world prepared to challenge and overcome all cultural trends with sound thought.

Think of your children, think of your land. Think of the fabricated gods who raise up the sand. Then play your hand. Our little ones are out there in the storm at the mercy of the elements as though part of them, one with them. Their faces are carried away with the sand piece-by-piece eroding into the sea. The attraction is compelling, to dissolve into the world. From dust we came, to dust we will go. We must not yield.

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The Persistence of Childhood

lonely teddyI watched the sun reflect off the old broken mirror in the hedge of my grandmother’s front garden. It was always there, though we never knew why. We never questioned its presence. Most Irish homes in those days had some odd knick-knacks or out of place bric-a-bracs tied up with bailer twine or stuck solid to dulled white washed walls. Our world was fascinating. Occasionally, my cousins and I would venture over to the mirror and peer inside. We would imagine another world in there with children and people just like us, watching us, wishing they could play with us, or that we could go on secret adventures into each other’s worlds. Those days never ended, for they were measured by life, not time.

I remember walks through the fields, discovering streams in our bare feet, getting stuck in the bogs, catching frogs, chasing our dogs, laughing, crying, panting, lying on the grass staring at clouds and feeling the breeze beneath fairy trees. Our parents were there, our grandparents, working, waiting and always welcoming our grubby little faces through the door for sandwiches and milk. My uncle would lift me on his shoulder; my aunt would wipe my hands with a wet face cloth and tell me what a great wee man I was, and would be someday. We would never feel so loved.

Many times, on evenings, I stood before the fireplace, having been beckoned to sing a song for the room. How I would push out my chest and roll off my best rendition of “The Foggy Dew,” while everyone sat around intently smiling, or just listening quietly, for in our house singing was a venerated matter. I always struggled to hold back the delight and pride on my face when the applause rang out and my mother rose to embrace me, and my father reached over to pat me on the back. How worthy I was. How cherished…

…and then I grew up.

I was very blessed to have been born into such a wonderful family that cared for me so. My siblings and cousins all knew warmth, joy and peace. I am very aware that, for many children, this is not always the case. However, today I want to refer to ideals; that in life there is a perfect way of family living to be. I also want to explore what I believe is an innate expectation in all human beings, an objective reality. We seem to have this sense that others should be perfect. When we meet someone we rely they will be a perfect person. We do not enter into a relationship expecting imperfection. Even though we may hold certain judgments and biases toward people, these judgments and biases are based on how a person falls short of some ideal we hold them to. That ideal is perfection. We are made for perfect, and that means we expect people to care for us perfectly also.

It occurred to me recently that ‘care’ is a precious commodity that we must never take for granted. As people care less, we feel less like we belong, and so grows our kinship with loneliness. As children, we are indulged with genuine care from family. Family members respond more affectionately to the movements of their own children and they affirm and encourage beautifully all the idiosyncrasies of childhood. However, it will come as no surprise to most that as we grow the interest of other people in our accomplishments and abilities decreases until eventually when attending gatherings of friends or family we are no longer invited to sing or play. Other children with other acts have replaced us on stage.

Why is this so?

holy abandonedIt is clear why our little children should endear us. That is no puzzle. What is confusing is why we stop being endeared by people as they grow older and also, to a greater extent, by those people who are not connected to us by the bonds of family.

Childhood is indeed a beautiful time. We should cherish it. However, when it fades away, we often spend the rest of our lives searching for it again. Our desire for it is always there. We long for others to embrace us and place us center stage with the same loving embrace of our family. We journey through groups of friends searching, seeking, desiring the same flame of interest we experienced from our parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. Yet it is rarely found again.

It is not wrong to expect care from others as our family cared. On the contrary, I propose this expectation to be a thoroughly natural hunger. I speculate that when we look to other people it is our innate expectation to find perfection; and that perfection should include a genuine love and care returned by those people. In an ideal world we would love each other perfectly and that would mean perfect caring between others and us. We would be just as welcoming, even to strangers, as a father or mother is to their child. It is natural for us to expect this from others because this is how humans should be. It was as we were before the fall.

Humans are fallen as a result of sin. We crave perfection in ourselves and expect perfection in others yet we rarely find it. People want to care. People try very hard to care. However, often their care is a shadowy reflection of what care should be when it is purified in the perfection of Holiness. If we were truly holy and those around us were holy we would experience always that same love and care we found in childhood. It is a love that is genuine, not superficial, and a love that has no self-motive behind it. That is a love we can look forward to in heaven, for in heaven our childhood experience of being loved will be magnified beyond what our minds can now comprehend. Alas, on earth, the residue of perfect childhood care persists. It draws us constantly, beckoning us to live as ideal holy families for each other.

When I visit the homes of friends and family today it is true I am no longer the main event. I no longer enjoy the doting of my aunts and uncles as they radiate their desire for my good. For all of us, there will always be a lonely longing for a perfect genuine caring response from others. It is a profound connection we seek and one that cannot be filled ultimately by others on earth.

Where then can we find that care on earth? Where can we be completely loved? There is only one perfect Person here on earth and our longing for connection is a constant reminder that if we want perfect genuine caring, it can be found only in He who is perfect, in Jesus. He is with us, present in the Holy Eucharist. He will always welcome us. He will always love. He will always care. With Him, you will always be His love. It is only there before Him, in His reflection of perfection, that we will encounter true and everlasting warmth, joy and peace.

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Irish Schools are (re)Making our Children (D)(N)umb

conformityOh how the rain falls o’er the fields as I peer out upon another dreary Irish evening. By my side this cup of tea befriends the laptop on my knee. Surely it must be the most dismal hour of the year, this January lull. The Christmas decorations have now lost their light and warmth. Disinterested, they have become clutter perched in corners awaiting their annual undoing, if only I could locate the impulse. A crow screeches above me heralding oncoming gloom. It is enough to give a man writer’s block.

A breaking rainbow catches the attention of my daughter who marvels and celebrates. A passing flock of sparrows alight momentarily upon our leafless tree, as if to say, “it’s all okay, we’ll return to see you another day.” So it is, the end of another advent season and emotional emigration once again from the peace and glow of the family hearth. Did it go faster this year?

I remember when I was a boy I would kick and scream at the prospect of going back to school after Christmas. We had this ‘genius’ headmaster who in his ‘preeminent’ wisdom required our school to return two days earlier than all other schools in the area. I yelled until two o’clock in the morning when my poor mother eventually relented and allowed me to remain homebound for just one more day. Now, I was not particularly spoiled. It was just that I could not abide people in positions of authority making stupid decisions that affected hundreds of people. I had no other way to protest and express my displeasure. In a sense this was my victory over the fella, my way of showing I would not accept his unwillingness to account for the situation of others. Of course today I firmly insist that my mother should have allied with me. She should have even encouraged my dissent, for anything short of boycott was only rewarding a tyrant and emboldening him to continue in his imbecility.

Indeed, I did not want to go back to school. It seemed so mechanical and dull. Children were lined up like cattle at a market and compelled to place their fingers of their lips, as though the sound of children laughing and having fun was some horrible occurrence to be deconditioned with every vocal effort. Herded around hallways, we were directed into boxes and forced to behave in a manner befitting adulthood. The farmers, trained in the distribution of information, then compelled us to accept their words and explanations without question. No protest was permitted; no alternative viewpoint tolerated for wrath was incurred, taking the form of silence, angry grimacing or ostracization.

My young inquisitive mind loved to learn, wanted to integrate ideas and understand the intricacies of life and the world we live in. I had many questions that were bursting to be acknowledged, to grow and blossom into thought. Yet, for decades my yearning to direct my energy toward the independent pursuit of wisdom would have to remain dormant as I followed the rote regulations of a system designed to create followers who obey authority, rather than leaders who could change the world.
classroomHere is the definition of education provided by the Encyclopedia Britannica:

“Many definitions have been given of the word education, but underlying them all is the conception that it denotes an attempt on the part of the adult members of a human society to shape the development of the coming generation in accordance with its own ideals of life”

When Plato first conceived classrooms, the student was an individual. He was seen as a human being with personal gifts and talents to be cultivated and mastered for the good of society. In time however, self-appointed wise men transformed education into a method of spoon-feeding ideas and agendas into impressionable young minds. Children were expected to accept and assume without questioning or seeking proof. Even nowadays in our Irish schools, and further afield, young people are taught to take orders rather than to decide independently through logical, reasoned enquiry. Our children have lost their identities. They blend into a cultural collective thought.

Today, the evidence suggests that few people know why they believe the things they do. Taking cue from the schools they knew, our children grew to become a nation of information farmers like their teachers before, expecting everyone else to accept the ideals they dispense without question. Any disobedience or protest is promptly extinguished.

This system plays neatly into the hands of those who wish to dictate or manipulate what we believe. Truly, parents who now seek a true education for their children in Ireland are met with the greatest impediments. Recently, an Irish mother of six children was jailed for daring to home school her children (Irish Mother of Six Jailed for Home Schooling). Governmental authorities shut down her parental right to decide what is best for her own children. Why do we stand for this? Why do we tolerate giving other people control over every aspect of our lives? It seems like these tyrants demand our children become educated according to their standards, so society is remade in their image and not for the good of our young. Ireland was once the land of saints and scholars, it has become a land of easily lead followers, perfectly contained so lesser control minded men can have their way unchallenged.

Are we going to allow it to continue? Are there people out there who can organize efforts to fight this madness? Are there groups in communities who can come together and plan methods of combating these autocratic laws designed to contain us like cattle? Our country has become an oligarchy. We no longer have true electoral choice. No matter who is in power, north or south, the situation never substantially improves. If we do not acquire the ability to educate our children as independent thinkers we will never raise up the great minds capable of dismantling the fabricated lies of a state repressing us. We should all be yelling and screaming to two o’clock in the morning that “No, we will not accept it, we will settle for nothing but liberty.”

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Time and the Man I Should Become

old man time

Alas, I have no friend or foe. Only you must I know. From there I must sow.

 It was on this day, in the year of our Lord, as I peered out upon a mild December morning, which appeared reluctant to cast off the shadows of autumn, I finally laid down my easel and attended to my morrow. Two hours of daylight had elapsed since I emerged from slumber and already I had been busy enriching nothing, neither another nor myself. No benefit forth came. I think sometimes man spends more time searching for books, than reading them, and so it was for me as I accumulated the inane and mentally copulated with idiots, my precious minutes drained away and became lost for eternity.

Certainly I was aware of it, because the claws of some unseen source scoured my heart, and obligation’s insistences signaled it’s intent to no longer tolerate my repressive persecution. I gazed upon the crowned Christ above my mantelpiece and acknowledged once more how, for the umpteenth time, I had betrayed him. I had laid aside my manhood at the altar of the pagan god Nihil.

Everything, everyone and every time are gifts given to me for the benefit of some unseen, unknown commission, but again I had misused a gift for the manufacturing of nothingness. What a sin. What a grave evil. Could I be forgiven?

One of the greatest tricks of the devil is to convince us that we require relaxation and comfort to make it through life. Indeed, relaxation and comfort are not bad things. Rather, they are very good. However, if we come to think ourselves hard done, by not getting them, if we become bitter and angry at those who impose their will in preventing us maintaining them, or if we have them, and we overindulge to the point of neglecting our life’s calling, then evil is triumphant. Saint Peter implores:

“Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)”

clocksOne of my greatest hero’s in life is my wife and I will tell you why. There is none so humble as the person who takes upon her the mantle of love, and who gives herself for the good of others. She rarely sits but in each moment she is giving something, small or large, for the fulfillment of her mission, to be mother, to be wife, to be a coworker, a sister, a friend. She works tirelessly, though she tires and yet she finds the strength to give. Her life is not focused on how she can find rest but upon how rest might be found for others. To her example, I fall gravely short, each and every moment I waste on the frivolous.

We all have our roles I suppose and her role may be slightly deviated from my own. We all have varying talents and her talents certainly are distinct from mine. What is important however is that clearly she uses her gifts for the exultation of others and she is focused every second on living for God. She lives, enthusiastically, the great weapons of war against the devil: conversion, penance and prayer.

One Saturday, at a friend’s house, I was supping whiskey with my friend Joe (The same Joe from my article “Ireland, Graveyard of the Unfinished Idea”). After him telling me about his plans for his new porch, he talked about the praying he was going to be doing on it.

“We should to be engaged with God no matter what we’re doing” he said.

“No doubt” said I.

“It’s not that aisy” said he.

“It’s not,” said I.

Every night, he said his daughter would come into the house and announce to the whole room, “You want to pray the rosary?” Prayerful and all that Joe is he still gets this sinking feeling when he hears those words. His eyes hit the floor. A voice in him says “Aw naw!”

“You’re right” I said. “It happens me too. I can’t work it out” What is it about prayer and going to Mass that causes us to feel like running away?

Then I said “Wait to you see this.” My wife was standing close by and I yelled to her “Hey Kate, do you want to pray the rosary?” Her eyes became wide and without hesitation she said “Sure. Let’s do it” Joe’s eyes hit the floor again. He shook his head. “Are you kidding me?” It was a fine illustration of how far we fell short as men.

What is our life’s calling? It is important for every man to know. What is our mission on earth? What are we good at and how can we use those talents to bring others closer to God, closer to heaven? A man can choose to spend his days sitting around the house or in a pub, getting old and fat, until one day he realizes his days are gone and no one cares. He can watch TV or search the Internet until his eyes shut and the darkness descends. Out there in the world every man exists to execute some goal. We are made for something great, an assignment to fulfill. If completed the world will be a better place. If not, we fail.

oldtiredman3We must be paying attention to our moments and constantly reflecting, “Is this what He wants?” Get to know Christ. Know Him intimately; who He is, His life, His way, His Truth, for He is the calling of a real man. Not believing in Him is too convenient, an excuse to never change. Accusing other believers is another desperate diversion to prevent us from making the effort. Men who do these things have abdicated manhood. They reject penance for the comfortable.

If you want to change for the New Year then for the love of God change, but change for others, change for Him and stop focusing on you. Go build the Kingdom.

Conversion, Penance, Prayer

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McGregor: The Warrior, the Man, the Image of Perfect

McGregor1The sun rises on a cold Dublin December and the arms of a warrior are held high in exultation. He is triumphant. He is glorified. He belongs to us. The hearts of a nation bleed in pride. The ghost of Cú Chulainn echoes through the centuries as his haunting voice chants our battle hymn, “As down a glen one Easter morn, to a city fair rode I…” For he has united us, and now we stand together behind him as he holds aloft his crown of victory.

McGregor, McGregor, McGregor

Your name will be as gold

And stories will be told

Of how you brought us forth from slumber

The fallen Irish of old

To make us kings again

We have rarely witnessed such greatness unfold in our time. It is real and we are to marvel at the strength. It is as though life has been breathed at last into the soil of our land and from the earth our legends have emerged to seize us back from the clutch of death itself. Our culture had disappeared into a fog of corruption and crisis, overwhelmed by the infiltration of foreign ideological invaders. Anglicized, Americanized, homogenized, delirious devils had deafened us to our authenticity, our Truth that we are a people of courage and vitality, rarely broken, with our own customs and values, perception and elegance. We are nobility, a unique presentation of power and humility, ferocity and patience in the mold of princes. We walk with intent toward our final rest.

But who is he really? Conor McGregor has, most assuredly, successfully embodied the essence of Irish and has lifted it proudly for the world to see. He has not yet completed his journey but he has cracked open the ancient chest where encased within lays the ingredients that could resuscitate the masculinity of a generation, which has sunk to wandering aimlessly in a catatonic dream. He is an ideal, an exemplar, with a seemingly unbreakable spirit and a passion for success not emphasized to this extent for centuries. Now, he is champion.

Every human needs this. Every person or people needs someone, something to lift us from our sense of nothingness, from our own broken fallen selves where we realize our own lack and inability to live up to our desired image of greatness. We are all called to greatness. We are made to radiate with splendor. Our emptiness is merely our souls reminding us that we are not yet there. If only we could rise to the level of perfection we were made for then our worlds would be complete and we would be united in utopia.

Every now and again people like Conor McGregor come along and remind us of what we could be and what we long for. We long for kingship. We cheer for it because when we identify with it, when we identify with him we become elevated a little as a people, as spirits journeying together to the consummation ahead.

irelandMcGregor has made great noise of his love for Ireland, of his love for its people and his love has brought him to tears. He would bleed for us, he would be beaten and broken and torn apart for us, to raise us up. He would never submit. He would never give up. The story of man, the story of who man should be. His people he would unite and the battle cries would resonate around the world.


Are you ready Conor? Can you make it? How far are you willing to go for your people, to be their model, their guide? Will you complete your mission? Can you? The top of the mountain is ahead. Your people follow you there. Can you embrace the call of manhood? Are you strong enough?

As you struggle stone by stone, clawing, crawling to achieve, to haul your way to the top do you see the finish line? Do you know the destination? Do you seek perfection for yourself? What does it mean for you to be perfect? Are you the greatest, or is there greater? Will you always be the greatest? You have so much. What is it for? When the time comes, will you drop to your knees and give it all to another for us? Could you?

When you look into the eyes of your fans do you see their humanity? Do you desire their good or are they there for you? When you look into the eyes of the beautiful women who adore you do you see their dignity? Do you intend to build them up or do they exist for your pleasure? Are you for us, or are we for you?

fogWe are all called to be great. When the time comes we are urged to be ready to give everything we are for the good of others. Every person is called to die to self and give everything for those he loves (and hates) including all his desires and dreams. Are we strong enough? In Ireland, the people have wandered so long in a fog of confusion. They have forgotten Truth. In their desperation for Truth they have filled their lives with things, comforts, idols or anything to make them forget the emptiness. Truth has become whatever we choose or feels good, not something specifically to be pursued. We build ourselves higher and greater. We look to others as examples of perfection. We cling on for dear life and we hope. Yet still through the fog the horn blasts loud and shrill and something, calling us to greatness, infiltrates our hearts. We search and seek. If only we knew where to find. That is Truth. Oh God help us! Oh God save us!

For there it is, Truth, before us always. In Him we are One, we are fulfilled, we are great, we are kings. In Him we struggle stone by stone, clawing, crawling to the top of the mountain. In Him we are stripped, beaten and broken, torn apart with Him, embracing our cross as He called, following Our True King, crucified for us, giving every last breath and He is notorious. He is victorious!

Are you there Conor? Are you ready? Are you a man?

And your anthem is heard…


As back through the glen I rode again and my heart with grief was sore

For I parted then with valiant men whom I never shall see more

But to and fro in my dreams I go and I kneel and pray for you,

For slavery fled, O glorious dead, when you fell in the foggy dew.


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