Wednesday, June 6, 2018


The first half of spring break, Ethan, Nick, and I were in Poland. We flew into Warsaw on Easter Sunday evening/night and took a night-train to Krakow. We arrived in Krakow at about 3am on Monday. Because we had had a change of plans that let us arrive earlier, we had no lodging until Monday night; we ended up hanging out in the train station until we could hitch a ride on a train to Wieliczka--the town with the famous salt mines.

We arrived in the town and had an early tour of the mines. It lasted about an hour or an hour and a half and was very interesting. The best part (in my opinion) was the chapel in the salt mines. Everything in the chapel was carved out of salt, including several statues and chandeliers. It was very beautiful and incredibly impressive.

After taking a bus back to Krakow, we planned to go to Wadowice (Pope Saint John Paul II's hometown). We took a bus there and explored the town. We went to the church there; it was very beautiful, even though it was in a very small town. We also had lunch here. I had the largest kebab (a Turkish wrap, kind of like a gyro, but with a tortilla) I have ever had--it was at least a foot and a half long. We ended the visit with a trip to the JPII museum. That was also a very interesting tour (although the guide spoke in Polish, so I was limited to taking in pictures and captions).

We got back to Krakow fairly late and decided to check into our AirBnb and get food. We settled on burgers for the first night (they are easy and usually have English speaking workers). After eating, we turned in for the night.

The next day was an early one, as we wanted to get to Czestchowa  early. In that town, there is a monastery with the miraculous image of Our Lady (aptly named 'Our Lady of Czestchowa'). The monastery was very cool and seeing the image was awesome. We were there early in the day, but there were still a lot of people there (apparently several thousand people visit it every day). We then had breakfast (very cheap but very good) and started trying to get back to Krakow. This turned into a bit of an adventure. There was a train going to Krakow, but it was going to the wrong station for us, and it was leaving hours after we would have liked. We decided to try a bus. None of the ladies selling tickets at the bus station spoke English very well, and all but one did not even try to help (of course, none of us spoke Polish--but we are Americans, so it's to be expected). The one lady who helped us pointed us outside and seemed to give us a station number. We went and looked but found nothing. We then saw the lady motioning to us from a door on the side of the building. Not knowing what else to do, we followed her inside. She appeared to tell us to wait outside a door, and then she left us. After several minutes of standing in a very narrow hall with several doors along it, the door she motioned to opened, and a woman came out. I took that as our cue to go in, so we did. Inside were a couple of Polish women typing on very old keyboards. I greeted them with a 'dzien dobry' and was greeted likewise. I then asked if they spoke English. One of them said she spoke a little. I started talking to her, explaining that we wanted to go to Krakow. She understood and started typing stuff into her computer. She found us a bus and asked for our passports. We turned them over to her so should could get information for the tickets from them. Somehow, she put in our names in three different ways: I was Thorp Brendan, Nick was Nicholas Waddell, and Ethan was Andrews Ethan King. She then needed a phone number. While looking for the selection for an American phone (she had to scroll through all the countries of the world until she reached 'United States,' however, she decided to click the arrow all the way down instead of dragging the sidebar, which I think caused Nick great agony and distress to watch), she seemed to drop an expletive in English (I turned to the other two and said, "She speaks English"), but she got it done. She printed our tickets, we thanked her (jinkue or something like that), and we were on our way. After leaving, we realized that the tickets did not say where the bus would pick us up. We tried to figure it out, but to no avail. We walked back into the train station and talked to the first lady again. She wrote a '14' on top of our ticket, so we stood by station 14. Eventually, a bus pulled up; it was the correct one, and we made it back to Krakow.

That night in Krakow, we ate authentic Polish food. We spent the equivalent of about 10 bucks and had more food than the three of us could finish, and it was delicious.

The next day, our last full one in Poland, we spent the morning wandering around the city. We visited the cathedral (it is magnificent, rivaling even some of the churches in Rome), the castle in Krakow, and wandered the streets. I ate a paczki (a doughnut like Polish pastry) and ate food at a recommended German restaurant. Ethan and I each had a liter of beer (faintly banana flavored--also recommended by a friend).

In the afternoon, we went to Auschwitz. Needless to say, words are not really going to do it justice. I would recommend people go and see it--it is not something that should be forgotten--but be ready to get hit hard, particularly in a few places. The one light in that dark place is the cell of St. Maximilian Kolbe. The memorial to this great Saint is a beautiful site amidst so much horror; a reminder that, even in the worst times and places in history, there are still good and hope-filled people.

The next day was spent bumming around Krakow until it was time to leave for Ukraine.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Station Mass

For Lent this year, I made a commitment to participate in the Station Mass pilgrimage as often as possible (exceptions being when I was not in Rome and the unanticipated snow day). This pilgrimage was started by St. Phillip Neri after the Reformation as a devotional to early church saints and martyrs. Each day people would go to a different church in Rome for Mass in the morning, eventually visiting about forty of Rome's many churches. The practice died off, but was revived in recent years by the North American College (the college that houses seminarians from North America and Australia). It is a sacrifice of sleep (I got up at about five in the morning everyday that I went to Mass), but it was a beautiful way to see some old churches and celebrate Mass in English.

Many of the churches are basilicas that were built over old house churches (places that Christians gathered before they could legally practice the faith in the Roman Empire). They also often had crypts where older churches, art, and tombs could be seen; many of these crypts are only open to the public on the day of the Station Mass.

One of the great joys of participating in the Station Masses (aside from receiving the body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ) was hanging out with our chaplains afterwards. Many Masses were followed by breakfast with the priests and seminarians who served our program (more on them in another post).

It was also a lot of fun getting to know the other people who frequented the Masses. One of the girls in our group--who spoke German--ended up helping a lady from Germany film little videos that she would send back to her followers in that country after every Mass. There were also several priests and seminarians not from our group that we got to know fairly well.

If anyone reading this finds themselves in Rome during Lent, I would highly recommend making the sacrifice of a little sleep to go to the Station Mass for at least one of the days. It is a beautiful, interesting, and awesome experience.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

"Touch My Monkey" and Other Stories from the Land of Ukraine (Part Two)

The Second Part in a Series of Stories About Ukraine

"Touch My Monkey"
After the experience with the cab driver the night before, we needed to get more money. This meant that we needed to find an ATM, which should have been an easy task. However, the ATMs we found would not accept our cards Eventually, we found ourselves in an underground mall. I was attempting to pull money out of the machine when my two friends were accosted by two men; each man had a monkey on his shoulder--not a stuffed monkey, but a living, breathing, scurrying monkey. One of the men looked at Ethan and said, "Touch my monkey" (hence the name of the title of the story...see what I did there). Now, having been in Europe for long enough, the three of us knew that guys like this like to offer some novelty, acting really friendly, and then demand a ton of money for it. That being the case, Ethan said, "No thank you." However, after an exchange that was essentially just various re-phrasings of, "No really, touch my monkey," and "No, I really do not want to touch your monkey," the two men just put the monkeys on Ethan. Nick then pulled out his camera (after-all, it is not everyday you get to take a picture of Ethan with monkeys crawling all over him), which was exactly what the two men wanted: "Oh yes, take a picture, take a picture." At this point, there was no way to really back out of it, so Nick took the picture. The two men then put the monkeys on Nick and Ethan took a picture. Right on queue, the two men took back their monkeys and started demanding money. "You have pictures of our monkeys. You must pay." However, Nick and Ethan were broke. The two men then turned to me (I had just finished not getting anything from the ATM) and told me that I had to pay them for my friends pictures. I respectfully declined, as the ATM had not worked (not that I would have given them anything even if I had received money). They did not seem to understand (or they were just jack-wagons--likely the latter of the two) and continued to tell me that I owed them money. We were making our way out of the mall, but the two men continued to follow us. One of them pulled out his phone and said, "I am going to call security."

* * * 

Now here is the lesson for anyone who will be travelling to Europe in the future: people such as these two, or the "gladiators" (they are dressed as Roman legionaries, actually--how they could not know that is beyond me) outside the Colosseum, or the men who give bird seed to people to attract pigeons to them for a picture (why anyone would want those disgusting birds anywhere near them is a mystery--unless it is to kick them) are often doing "business" illegally. I have seen a number of the pigeon feeders kicked out of the area that they are "working" in by police, and our professor said that most people have been wanting to make it illegal (rather than just frowned upon) for the "gladiators" to "work" outside the Colosseum and other historical sites. Essentially, what I am trying to say is, if you are somehow goaded into taking a picture with someone like the "gladiators", or someone puts bracelets and weird charm things on your wrist, or someone covers you with monkeys, you do not have to pay them, even if they demand money (or another one of their tricks, say they need money for food (they will take back whatever "free" stuff they gave you if you do not pay them)).

* * *

What I was thinking in my head when the guy said he was going to call security was, "Oh, you'll call security. And then get arrested or at least kicked out of the mall." What I said was, "Sorry, I have no money," and kept walking. Of course, these guys could not actually do anything to us, so they stopped following us as we came out of the underground mall and back to the surface of the Earth.

But wait, there's more.

Upon emerging into the world,within a minute actually, we were approached by a man in a panda suit (not a man with a living panda, just a man in a suit). He said to us (this to be read in a Barney voice), "Hey guys, come take a picture with me." Obviously, after dealing with the monkey men, we were not having any of it; Nick looked at the guy and said, "I don't speak English" (in perfect English, I might add). The panda man yelled an expletive at Nick, and we continued on our merry way.

The Monastery
Most of the first day (after dealing with monkeys and a panda) was spent at a Ukrainian Orthodox Monastery. It was massive, had a half-dozen or more churches, and some of the most beautiful religious art I have seen. We were also able to visit the crypt, which was very dark, aside from the candles people lit in honor of the deceased monks. It was very interesting.

We were at the monastery for the beginning of the Good Friday service and heard some incredible chanting. Ethan enjoyed this tremendously.

On a less holy note (although more holey), the bathrooms were very fitting for a monastery; similar to the monastic toilets in Bulgaria, the toilets were just holes in the ground without a seat. Very simple and monkish.

"Cheer Up, Smile, Nertz"
Ukraine's economy is not the best (but that is to be expected when recovering from occupation by the Soviet Union and being saddled with all the debts from cleaning up a huge nuclear disaster (Chernobyl)). This means that their currency is incredibly devalued. One dollar is worth 27 Ukrainian whatchamacallits. This took some getting used to ("A BigMac for 90 things?! Oh, that is just over 3 dollars. That's a good deal.) I have a Ukrainian penny, which is a little piece of metal that is worth .00037 dollars or three hundredths of an American penny. It is probably worth more to scrap it, but I will keep it as a souvenir.

KFC (Kyev Fried Chicken)
While in Ukraine, we stuck mostly to fast food restaurants to make getting food easier. One of the places we (meaning Ethan and I) went to was KFC (usually referred to as Kentucky Fried Chicken, but we decided that this was Kyev Fried Chicken). At Kyev Fried Chicken, we ordered tacos (because why not got tacos at a KFC in Ukraine); they came in at a whopping buck-and-a-half for two of them. They were small, but good, and they gave us another funny story.

A side-note: Nick could not have KFC, because he is gluten-free (or gluten-intolerant as he likes to say it (although, is he not technically gluten-free if he does not consume gluten?)). Now, why anyone would be intolerant of gluten is beyond me; it is just inconsiderate. To quote Ethan quoting something else, "there are two things I cannot stand: those people who are intolerant of other people's cultures, and the Dutch."

Other Interesting Notes
Three other interesting things that do not really fit in anywhere else:
1. Ukraine uses an entirely different alphabet: the Cyrillic alphabet.
2. All three of us agreed that the best wine we had was in Ukraine and made in Crimea. Sadly, we cannot give a name, as it was spelled in a different alphabet.
3. The Eastern Church celebrates Holy Week the week after the Western Church (I do not know the reason for this), so we actually celebrated Holy Week twice. In Ukraine, we had their Easter Bread, which is pretty much just bread with icing and sprinkles (they even served it to us on the plane ride back to Rome).

Coming Soon...Chernobyl

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"Touch My Monkey" and Other Stories from the Land of Ukraine (Part One)

A series of stories from the trip to Ukraine with Nick and Ethan.

Getting There
Ukraine was the second part of Spring Break for Nick, Ethan, and I. We travelled there from Krakow Poland via a bus and two trains, totaling about 12 hours of travel. Originally, we were supposed to travel to Ukraine by two trains, but we were emailed a few weeks before Spring Break and told that there was work on the first train's line, so we had to take a bus first. On the day of travel, we were waiting at the bus station (it seemed like the appropriate place to wait for a bus), but we were not seeing any buses that were going to the city we were headed to. With about fifteen minutes until we were supposed to leave, we went up to the ladies at the ticket counter and were told to go to the train station. That did not make sense, but we rushed there to see if they could help. On the way there, I saw a sign that said "Rail Replacement Bus Service." That sounded right, so we started following signs in that direction. With about five minutes until our departure time, we ended up outside with a bunch of buses. The first one in line was headed to the correct city, thank goodness. But, as we approached, the driver pointed us down the line. Sure enough, down towards the end of the row of buses was another bus going to our city. We rushed over and showed the driver our ticket. He said (or rather communicated) that we were not supposed to be on his bus. Now we were panicking. We had minutes until we were supposed to leave and had been turned down by both drivers. We were about to rush back to the train station, when we saw two buses lined up in the street. We ran up to the first one, showed the driver the ticket, and were welcomed aboard with two minutes to spare.

The rest of the trip went smoothly, with one other funny incident. When we were on the train that would actually take us to Kyev, we had to go through Polish border security and Ukrainian border security. The Ukrainians were very kind to us, but, when they were leaving us, one of them called out, "Good luck," over his shoulder. Good luck. That is not what we wanted to hear, however, we decided that it was more of a 'break a leg' than a 'you have no chance;' he probably just did not know the connotation that 'good luck' can have in English. That was what we told ourselves anyways.

"50 Dollars"
Upon arriving in Kyev at about midnight, we left the train station. We wanted to find a taxi to take us to the place where we would meet our AirBnb host. That was no hard task, for as soon as we left the station, we were bombarded by cab drivers who wanted us (and everyone else) to ride with them. We found a place to look around, wanting a taxi that looked like an actual taxi, rather than some random guy with a car from the 90s. We found one, approached the driver, and showed him where we wanted to go. He said, "50 dollars," which we took to mean 50 Ukrainian dollars (I never actually learned how to pronounce the name of their currency--you can try if you'd like: Ukrainian hryvnia (rihv-nee-uh?) (I have no idea if what I am doing with these parentheses is grammatically legal, but it works in math)). We took the cab, and, upon arrival, discovered that he meant 50 US dollars (the equivalent of over 1300 rye-vin-ai-ay). This was an absolute rip-off (it was less than a ten minute cab ride and it would end up costing us less when we went to the airport almost an hour away), but we did not really have an argument against him. It was also late, we had been travelling for 12 hours, and none of us were in the mood to argue with a frustrated Ukrainian taxi driver. So we paid the 50 dollars worth of hurry-vee-nee-a and went on our way, although not entirely happy. (I am still confused as to why the driver would have assumed that we had 50 US dollars on us when we had just arrived in Ukraine via train. If it had been by plane, I could maybe understand, but we arrived by train--which means that we travelled from somewhere in Europe--so the chances of us having euros was pretty good, but the chances of us having dollars, not so much.

A Late Night Walk
After our taxi experience, we walked through a sketchy looking iron gate and past a guy (probably a little older than us) smoking a cigarette by a set of spiral stairs. The company we were renting our AirBnb from had a sign that said to go up the stairs, so we proceeded up them. The young guy followed us up and introduced himself (I do not recall his name, we will call him Yaroslav) and said that he would check us in. Yaroslav was very friendly and helpful, even going so far as to walk us to our AirBnb to make sure we found it and got in alright. He seemed somewhat confused as to why three American college students were in Ukraine, but he offered us advice and made small talk the whole way to the apartment.

It was a good thing that Yaroslav came with us. It was a somewhat confusing walk, involving a wall to climb (via stairs that were built in to the side) and another sketchy iron gate. The streets were also somewhat creepy, as it was not well lit and there was a lot of construction going on. However, we eventually made it to our room, ready to sleep.

Welcome to the Soviet Union (title to be read in a thick, Eastern European accent)
A few brief comments on our room. It was perfectly livable, but it was certainly an apartment from when Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union. It was very plain, had several spots on the wooden floor that were soft, a TV from the 90s at the earliest, and a washing machine that appeared to run on water from a filled bathtub. All-in-all, it was a wonderfully queer little place that we enjoyed staying in.

To Be Continued

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Benedict Today

Another short essay I wrote for class, this time talking about how the Rule of St. Benedict should be applied today and the lessons that people can learn from it.

The excursion to Subiaco was an awesome experience. Visiting St. Benedict’s first monastery, and being from a Benedictine University, was very interesting. It is in a beautiful, remote spot, and the monk who led us around was very friendly and very smart. However, the interaction with him does raise some questions about how The Rule of St. Benedict should apply to monasteries today. St. Benedict could never have imagined a world like the one we live in now, with cameras, cell phones, cars, etc. However, his rule is written in such a way that it should be able to be applied even 2,000 years after his death.
Dom Marizio, the monk with whom we interacted, was taking pictures (for the monasteries website) and making jokes all the while we were visiting. Based on all the places that St. Benedict writes that a monk should never joke or laugh and should minimize talking and interaction (even with guests[1]), it would seem that the monks of Subiaco are not living “true” to The Rule. However, in the Prologue to The Rule, St. Benedict writes, “we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service…The good of all concerned…may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.[2]” If the ultimate goal of The Rule is service of the Lord and safeguarding love, then it seems safe to say that The Rule itself should not get in the way of either of these things.

While there is certainly a place for a strict and absolute observance of Benedict’s rule—it is good to have people who are willing to make such drastic sacrifices in service of God—the monks of Subiaco, I believe, have realized that there is an opportunity for evangelization and education by opening up their monastery (it being of enough historical significance to have people wanting to visit it) and have decided that, for the sake of serving God and spreading His love, it is okay for at least one or two monks to interact with people, and to do so in a fun and engaging way. We read about a similar scenario in St. Gregory’s book, The Life of St. Benedict, as well. Benedict, desiring to strictly follow his rule, wants to return to his monastery immediately after his visit with his sister, St. Scholastica. Scholastica would like him to stay, so she prays and gets her way; a storm comes in preventing Benedict from leaving. St. Gregory writes that this was a lesson in charity for Benedict, showing that The Rule is important, but that it should never trump love.

It is ideas and themes such as these that (I believe) have led to the longevity of the Benedictine Order. The idea that rules should only be followed insofar as they encourage love and service to God is applicable to everyday life, even for the laity. The Rule is full of other provocative ideas, one of these being the interconnectedness of every part of a person’s life. Prayer (chapters 8-20), work (chapter 48), eating (chapters 39-41), walking (chapter 7), and talking (chapters 6, 7, and 42) can each influence each other and help or hinder a person on their path to Heaven (which is why they each have chapters about them in The Rule). The chapter on humility[3] probably shows this interconnectedness the best, tying together the soul, the senses, the will, the body, community, etc. in pursuit of God.

I have experienced this interconnectedness first hand throughout the Rome Program. While much of the modern world compartmentalizes everything (work happens at work, family is at the house, and religion stays at church) and keeps everything from mixing or relating with each other, the Benedictine Tradition and the Rome Program promote the exact opposite; prayer should influence actions, study should influence community, community should influence prayer, etc. This is exactly what has happened during my time in Rome. Topics and discussions in class become conversations for my friends and I. Conversations with friends often turn into conversations with the chaplains. Conversations with the chaplains often turn into questions or ideas to pray about. Questions or ideas prayed about (ideally) turn into actions. It is all connected, and each reading, discussion, experience, etc. leads to something else, usually (and probably happily for St. Benedict) culminating in prayer or new growth in love and service of God.

    [1] St. Benedict, The Rule of St. Benedict, translated by Timothy Fry, O.S.B. (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1982.), 75.
    [2] Ibid., 18-19.
    [3] St. Benedict, 32-38.

Monday, May 7, 2018

St. Benedict: The Man, the Monk, the Saint

I figured that--seeing as two of my trips were to Benedictine monasteries, and my school is a Benedictine university--it might be useful to present a brief biography of St. Benedict for those who do not know much about him. Most of the information I have is from St. Gregory's The Life of St. Benedict.

Benedict was born in 480 AD in Nursia, Italy. He had a twin sister named St. Scholastica. In his teen years, he went to study in Rome. He was disgusted by the lifestyles of those in the city and did not see a need to study pagan writers of old (not as old as they are now obviously). When he could take it no more, he fled the city to become a hermit in a cave near Subiaco.

As a hermit, he had a mentor monk who made sure that he had a place of seclusion for prayer, as well as food. However, he became famous for his holiness, working several miracles and overcoming lust by jumping into, and rolling around in, a bunch of thorns. Eventually, he was asked by a community of monks to become their abbot. However, these monks were used to being very relaxed in their disciplines, and St. Benedict would have none of it. The monks grew to dislike him, going so far as to try to poison him. They slipped poison into his wine, but the cup shattered when Benedict blessed it. Benedict then left these unfaithful monks, returning to his cave at Subiaco.

Benedict's reputation only continued to grow, and he eventually attracted people to himself. Benedict and his followers then formed the first Benedictine monastery at Subiaco. However, a priest who lived in the area and was jealous of Benedict tried to poison him (which failed), and then tried to seduce his monks with prostitutes (which also failed). Benedict decided it would be best for him to leave, so he headed to Monte Casino and founded a new monastery. At this time, he founded a total of twelve monasteries, and his reputation for holiness and miracles continued to grow.

Benedict cast out demons, raised people from the dead, read souls, converted barbarians, and was an all around saintly man. He is most famous for the rule of life he wrote for his monks (aptly titled The Rule of St. Benedict). His monks would go on to preserve much of Western thought through the Middle Ages (ironic considering Benedict's view of Western thought), so we have the Benedictines to thank for the preservation of Greek and Roman writings. Benedict died in 543 AD, but his influence and legacy have lived on even to the modern day.

If you want to learn more about St. Benedict, I would highly recommend reading St. Gregory's book about him (it is not that long).

St. Benedict, Pray for us.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Beauty and Sacrifice

This is a short essay I wrote for one of my classes in Rome. We were asked to write about something that moved us to contemplation of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.
In a place as ancient and grand as Rome there are countless beautiful and awesome sights to see, any of which could lead to considerations of the good and the true. The hugeness of the Colosseum, the marvel of the Pantheon, and the wonder of St. Peter’s Basilica are all inspiring sights in Rome. However, perhaps one of the most beautiful sights in Italy is in Nettuno. In this small, coastal town south of Rome is the cemetery and memorial for thousands of American soldiers who died in Italy during World War II. The area itself is beautiful, but the thousands of white crosses make it a sad beauty; in the face of such a site one cannot help but move to contemplation of things beyond lunch, sleep, and homework.
While visiting the cemetery, I began to wonder at what those white crosses stood for. Each one of those crosses was standing above a man of about my age. Each one of those men had decided that the war against Nazism was worth the possibility of losing their life and all the joys that come with it. And each of those men followed that belief to the end and gave their lives. It made me wonder what I would be willing to lay down my life for. Naturally, my thoughts jumped to my faith, but things are often easier said than done; in the moment when I am asked to die for my faith, would I really stand by Christ and not falter. So often, I cannot stand by Christ when much smaller things than my life are on the line. How can I say that I would die for Christ when I will choose just about anything over going to the chapel to be with Him? To paraphrase St. Paul, so often I do not do the good that I want to do, but the evil that I do not want to do. Can I really say that I am strong enough to give my life for my faith?
St. Benedict has an answer to this in the preface of his Rule where he is encouraging those that would join one of his monasteries: “What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”[1] By myself, I would certainly not be able to sacrifice my life for the faith. It is not a natural thing for a person to willingly give up their life; people do not give easily to begin with, so giving everything they have is not going to be an easy or natural thing for someone to do. However, with God’s grace, those things that are not natural or easy can happen.

As if to prove this, Nettuno holds another, even more beautiful, sight. In the town’s basilica lays the body of St. Maria Goretti. Her body is clothed with wax coverings where the skin would have been, allowing her body to be visible under the altar of the church. If she was stood up, she would probably not have been taller than my elbow. Yet this twelve-year-old girl sacrificed her life to preserve her purity. As if dying for the faith was not enough, while being stabbed Maria was trying to reason with her murderer and convince him to think of his soul. She then used her dying breaths to forgive her murderer. St. Maria Goretti’s life and death serve as proof that God gives grace to those who ask for it, and it shows what beauty can be accomplished by His grace.

One of the incredible things about beauty is its ability to draw people into the contemplation of the good and the true. The beauty of a cemetery and the tomb of a saint led me to the contemplation of sacrifice and God’s grace, things that I would not likely have thought of without the prompting of the beauty of the sights.

    [1] St. Benedict, “The Rule of St. Benedict,” Ed. Timothy Fry, O.S.B., (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1982), 18.