Top 10 Christmas destinations across the US

Sylvia Patterson

There’s no better way to get in the Christmas spirit than to explore a new city from a Christmas point of view. 

Make use of the vacation part of Christmas vacation and plan a getaway to a festive city. There, you can take part in local Christmas festivals, see spectacular light shows, and wander through the stalls at a European-style Christmas market. Where are the most festive places in the country? Look no further than this list. 

From the northeast to the southwest, and from big cities to small towns, here are the top cities to spend the holidays in across the USA.

  1. New York City, NY

New York City is without a doubt the ultimate Christmas destination. NYC offers many of the nation’s most famous holiday attractions, from the Rockefeller Christmas tree, ice skating at the Rockefeller center, the Nutcracker Ballet, and the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. NYC also has a Holiday Train Show, and a light show at the Botanic Garden, and the world’s largest gingerbread village, GingerBread Lane.

  1. Mystic, CT

The location of the film, Mystic Pizza, Mystic Connecticut is a charming coastal town, the ideal place for a small New England Christmas, and by the sea no less. Take a Lantern Light Tour of the Seaport Museum, watch the Holiday Boat Parade, or stroll through the historic village during the Festival of Lights.

  1. Bethlehem, PA

Nicknamed “Christmas City”, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania lives up to its namesake by embracing the Christmas season. Experience the Christkindlmarkt or the authentic German-inspired Christmas City Village, take a carriage ride through the historic downtown, and take part in the city’s most unique tradition, its nightly Live Advent Calendar.

  1. Alexandria, VA

Alexandria, Virginia is just a 20 minute drive away from DC, but has more authentic charm than the capital itself. Walk down the quaint streets of Old Town and stop at a charming cafe or visit the Holiday Market.  Be sure to do some sightseeing at the nation’s capital, too, especially the National Chritsmas tree and ice skating at the National Mall.

  1. Chicago, IL

The Windy City is one of the most enchanting places to spend the holidays. The city streets will be decked out in Christmas decorations and lights, in perfect contrast with the gray, wintery lakefront. Some must-see attractions include Michigan Avenue and the Macy’s window displays, the Christmas trees around the world exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, and authentic European Christkindl Market.

  1. Telluride, CO

Nothing beats Christmas in the snow-covered mountains. The mountain town of Telluride boasts a number of festive activities. From the lighting of the ski tree on Noel Night, to the Mountain Village Holiday Prelude which includes ice skating, train rides, and more, to the Christmas Eve Torch Parade where the whole mountain is lit up in fire light.

  1. Northfield, MN

Visit Northfield for a cozy small town Christmas in the heart of Minnesota, a true winter wonderland. The arboretum will be covered in snow, and main street will be decked out in holiday lights. Be sure to get tickets to the Christmas festival at St. Olaf College, involving a scandinavian banquet and a nationally acclaimed Christmas concert.

  1. St. Augustine, FL

Spend the holiday season in the Sunshine State with a stay in St. Augustine. The city embraces the holiday season with its award-winning Night of Lights Festival, which runs for two months straight. You can also take a historic trolley tour to see the decorations, and be sure to check out the Holiday Regatta of Lights, in which decorated boats put on a light show.

  1. San Antonio, TX

For a merry Texas Christmas, San Antonio is a must-visit city. There are numerous light shows, ice skating, the historic Alamo mission, and of course, the famous riverwalk will be illuminated with holiday lights. Everything along the San Antonio river will be lit up, from the branches of the trees, to the water itself. 

  1. Honolulu, HI

A Hawaiian Christmas is a once in a lifetime experience and the vibrant island life will certainly be a welcome change of scene. Live out the lyrics to Bring Crosby’s carol, as you look at the Christmas displays at the Royal Hawaiian Center, or enjoy live Christmas music as you stroll down the Waikiki Beach Walk. 

To Conclude

Whether you choose to embrace the winter season by heading to a snowy location, or head south to escape the cold, these cities are home to some of the best must-see destinations for the holidays. 

10 Festive Christmas Activities in San Antonio

Sylvia Patterson

As far as Texas goes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and what better way to get in the holiday spirit than to get off campus and do something festive? There’s something about the holiday season, with its festivity, anticipation, and sense of joy, that makes it the perfect excuse to do something fun with your friends or significant other. Even so, with finals approaching, it’s extra important to set aside time to reconnect with those closest to us as the semester comes to a close. 

In San Antonio, there are many ways to celebrate the season and get in the Christmas spirit. With decorations, lights, and nostalgic music everywhere we go, Christmas allows us to see the world in a more optimistic light. Make the most of the opportunities that Christmas has to offer and create some amazing holiday memories here in San Antonio. 

  1. Go Ice Skating

Ice skating is one of the most quintessential holiday activities and San Antonio has a downtown outdoor skating rink at this time of year. Getting out on the ice truly embraces wintertime, and modern technology makes this possible even in South Texas. There are rental skates available, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own. No matter your skill level, you’ll have a great time learning to skate or showing off your skills. Be sure to grab some cocoa to warm up afterwards!

  1. See a Movie

Watch a holiday movie to get in a Christmas mindset. There are usually a lot of movies that come out during the holiday season, so you could book tickets to see something new at the movie theater. Alternatively, you can rewatch a classic Christmas movie at home cozied up with blankets and snacks in your dorm.

  1. Lightscape

The San Antonio Botanic Garden offers an on-site light show every holiday season. Known as “Lightscape,” the event involves illuminating the garden with stunning Christmas lights when the sun goes down (on my side of town). Purchase tickets online, and you’ll be in for a magical night of festivity, lights, and music all in the dynamic setting of a Botanic Garden. 

  1. Visit a Christmas Market

Christmas markets can be found all around the world and are a fail-proof way to get in the Christmas spirit. San Antonio has a few, including the Christmas Market and the Christmas Market in the Park. You’ll be sure to find handmade goods, gift ideas, and a number of holiday snacks and treats.

  1. Italian Dinner Night

You can’t go wrong with the classic dinner date. Braza Brava has a classically romantic atmosphere and Barbaro is on the lively side. Both have great quality Italian food for a reasonable price. Order a pasta dish or share a wood oven fired pizza and antipasti, whether you go with friends or as a date night.

  1. Check out the River Walk

The city of San Antonio is famous for its River Walk and in the holiday season, it only gets better. From Downtown to the Pearl, the trees are strung with Christmas lights, and the river itself is illuminated in some places. Not only is walking good for your health, but it’s also the perfect time to econnect with friends and have a great conversation as you walk. There’s also a holiday boat show on the river, which is sure to be a magical experience.

  1. Look at Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are one of the surest signs that the holiday season has arrived. We’re all thankful for the people who go all-out with their Christmas decorations! The suburb of Windcrest is the perfect place to see over-the-top holiday decorations in the area. In fact, the neighborhood has a Christmas lights contest every year and people come from all around the San Antonio area to see the displays. For the ultimate San Antonio experience, the Alamo itself has a Christmas lights event if you want to see the famous mission in its holiday splendor.

  1. Bake Christmas Cookies

Baking something together is a great bonding experience. Make use of the communal dorm kitchen, go grocery shopping, and bake a batch of delicious and festive holiday sugar cookies. The scent of baking cookies is amazing, even if they’re frozen or from a mix. 

  1. Go Christmas Shopping

Get your Christmas shopping done on a weekend here in San Antonio. Visit the Quarry shopping center down the road or drive out to La Cantera for even more store variety. What’s more iconic than looking at the holiday decor and displays, shopping bags in tow, and Christmas music playing overhead?

  1. Get Festive Drinks at a Cafe

Find a quaint cafe or bakery, like Bakery Lorraine at the Pearl or Summer Moon Coffee on St. Mary’s Street. Order hot drinks, whether you prefer a latte, hot chocolate, or herbal tea and maybe a pastry too. Be sure to get something seasonal. You can go for a walk afterwards or bring a book and read.

To Conclude

Christmas is a season of joy and a time to show appreciation for those we love. Celebrate with your friends or significant other by exploring the Christmas-themed activities that San Antonio has to offer. Embrace the Christmas spirit and create lasting memories by doing one or more of these festive holiday activities. 

Best Off-Campus Dining Picks

Jenna Lee

One can only tolerate so much dining hall food! Whether you need a break from the same-old, want to save on meal swipes and dining dollars, or just want to explore San Antonio’s diverse cuisine, here’s a couple of the best restaurants around Trinity University. 

  1. El Milagrito Cafe ($)

El Milagrito, lovingly nicknamed “El Mil,” is less than a 5 minute drive from campus. It is best known for its authentic Mexican dishes and friendly staff. By far, the star of the show at El Mil is its breakfast tacos! With hot, fresh tortillas made in-house, fluffy scrambled eggs, and bacon and sausage hot off the griddle, you can’t find a better start to your morning. Some notable favorites include the taco feo, ham and egg taco, and the carne guisada taco. 

  1. Tacos El Regio ($)

Another off-campus favorite for Mexican food is the St. Mary’s food truck, Tacos El Regio. Just up the street from El Mil, El Regio is the perfect place if you need a late night snack. The truck is usually open until 3AM. Their delicious street-style tacos are an excellent way to wrap up a memorable night out. The mini tacos, quesadillas, and 3 taco plates are all must-tries. 

  1. Main Street Pizza and Pasta ($)

Main Street is a stellar pick for some quality Italian food at a great price. Main Street has a plethora of pasta dishes as well as different types of pizza. Each large pasta plate comes with a protein, like chicken parmesan, a salad, and garlic bread for $11! The pizzas are also fairly priced for each size. The cozy restaurant is an 8 minute drive south of Trinity. Main Street is the perfect place to visit if you are craving some comfort food!

  1. Pizza Classics ($$)

Heading down south of campus leads you to Trinity’s favorite pizza place, Pizza Classics. Only a 5 minute drive away, Pizza Classics offers a great BOGO deal on their pizzas. Their pizzas are quite large and can feed big groups of stressed-out students looking for consolation in pepperoni and cheese. Not only is the pizza to die for, their calzones are the best in San Antonio. Pizza Classic’s portions definitely live up to the motto, “Everything’s bigger in Texas!” 

  1. Ming’s  ($$)

Located on the outskirts of Downtown, Ming’s is a great option for Asian cuisine that is only a 7 minute drive from campus. Ming’s is a great sit-down option, as the service and ambience are very pleasant. The restaurant offers a large variety of pick-your-protein noodle bowls, bao buns, and teriyaki-style bowls. Ming’s combines healthy dining with delicious Asian flavors, there is truly something for everybody! Some of the best buns are the sloopy bun, bulgogi bun, and the pork belly bun. For noodles, try the Nuoc Cham bowl with Korean sweet-potato noodles! 

  1. Pho Kim Long ($$)

 Pho Kim offers the best Vietnamese cuisine in the city. In fact, it was chosen as a finalist    in The Top San Antonio Restaurants. Nothing beats a bowl of noodle soup on a cold fall night, as a reward for midterm week, or as a pick-me-up if you are under the weather. Also, Pho Kim is quite inexpensive to DoorDash compared to other restaurants nearby, so it is a great option for ordering in! However, if you choose to dine-in, the restaurant is about a 4 minute drive away from Trinity. Fan favorites include the grilled chicken pho, shrimp spring rolls, and stir fry.

  1. Chela’s Tacos ($$)

Chela’s Tacos is another well-recognized pick in San Antonio with glowing reviews from food reviewers. Chela’s has been called one of the best taco restaurants that the city has to offer. Not only does Chela’s offer a delicious wide variety of tacos and other Mexican cuisine classics, but their service is superb. Chela’s is the perfect pick for brunch, and even if you start your day on the later side, the breakfast items are available all day! Chela’s has multiple locations, one near Pizza Classics and one near UIW around 10 minutes away. Try the huevos divorciados, the taco plates, nachos, and the tortilla soup!

  1. Demo’s Greek Food ($$)

Nothing beats a hearty gyro wrap after a day of class. Demo’s is located on St. Mary’s Street, a bit south of Tacos El Regio. Demo’s Greek Food offers large portions of Mediterranean cuisine at fair prices. Demo’s is another joint with very low DoorDash costs, but do check out the inside as it is very uniquely decorated like a Greek villa. They offer customizable pitas, fresh salads, and large shared plates with fresh hummus. If you come at lunch time, they have a special lunch plate for $11 served with an entree, fries, salad, and a drink. Try the deluxe gyro or chicken wrap, hummus plates, and Greek Salad.

  1. SP Cafe ($$)

SP is another great pick for Vietnamese 15 minutes away from campus. The cafe has it all, from larger dishes like pho or banh mi to smaller appetizers and snacks. SP also offers traditional Asian pastries as well as macaroons. One of SP’s stars is their boba tea; they have tons of teas and smoothies to choose from and, the best part, the drink sizes are much larger than other boba chains with the same price. SP is the perfect place to grab a bite and get some reading or homework done as it is very quiet and cozy. Some stellar menu picks are their beef pho, grilled pork banh mi, and pork vermicelli. 

  1. Piranha Izakaya ($-$$)

If you’re in the mood for Japanese cuisine, give Piranha a try! Piranha Izakaya is located in the Quarry, roughly an 8 minute drive from campus. Although the restaurant can get busy, it is worth the wait. Piranha’s menu features a plethora of sushi rolls and sashimi along with ramen. They also serve mouth-watering appetizers you and your party will be sure to fight over as to who gets the last bite! Be sure to check out Piranha at happy hour for special deals. Getting quality sushi shouldn’t have to break the bank! The chicken or shoyu ramen, specialty sushi rolls, karaage fried chicken, and dumplings never disappoint.

  1. Tong’s Thai Restaurant ($$)

Continuing with another fantastic option for Asian cuisine, Tong’s features generous portions of fresh, healthy Thai food. Tong’s has all your favorite Thai classics like pad woon sen, pad thai, pad kee mao, and tons of curries and soups. Occasionally, they offer sushi on a special menu! Tong’s has a great atmosphere, with a large koi pond on their outdoor terrace and gorgeous decor inside the restaurant. Tong’s is 10 minutes away from campus on Austin Highway right across the street from Target; check it out the next time you work up an appetite from grocery shopping!

  1. Chas Market and Kitchen ($$)

Saving perhaps the best for the last, Chas is by far the best option for Korean barbecue near Trinity. Chas is right on the outskirts of downtown, roughly an 8 minute drive away. The restaurant on the outside is quite unassuming, as it occupies a convenience store. However, upon walking in, you will see state of the art electric grills and fans. If you are new to Korean barbecue, you cook your own meat accompanied by various side dishes. They have a $25 all you can eat menu as well as Korean staples that are already cooked like bibimbap. Their all you can eat deal is for a minimum of two diners, so be sure to bring friends!

Our city has an incredible variety of dining options. You name a cuisine, you can find it in San Antonio at various price points. We hope you enjoy our picks!

15 San Antonio Date Ideas for Trinity Students

There are so many date opportunities in and around San Antonio. If you are looking for engaging date ideas to get away from your routine, look no further than this list. College is a once in a lifetime experience with so many opportunities at our fingertips, often in a brand new city away from home. So, go out and make the most of the college experience by spending some of it getting to know your girlfriend or boyfriend better. 

From casual and low effort outings to ideas that require a bit more planning, these are some creative date ideas for every situation, schedule, and relationship stage in college. 

Get dinner at a food truck

This is a perfect way to grab a meal after a busy day and get off campus without the time commitment and expense of a sit-down restaurant. At the same time, an authentic food truck is better quality than fast-food. You can bring the food back to eat in a study room or find a picnic table outdoors if the weather is nice. One of our favorite places is Tacos El Regio on St. Mary’s Street.

Go for a hike

It’s always a good idea to get outside and be in nature, and a hike also presents a great opportunity to get to know each other as you talk while looking at scenic sights. Research city and state parks nearby to visit and experience the natural landscape of the region. Some recommendations include: Government Canyon State Park, San Antonio Missions State Park, and Denman Estate Park. There’s sure to be some great photo opportunities in these parks. 

Go Two-Steppin’

Go country dancing at a dancehall. Cowboys Dancehall plays the most popular new country songs and is just down the highway (it’s free if you get there before 8:30). Or, if you want a more authentic experience, plan a visit to the historic Gruene Hall or the famous Luckenbach, Texas for live music and a more laid-back atmosphere. It’s also the perfect occasion to get dressed up western-style. If you don’t know how to dance already, look into on-campus dance classes or clubs as a free way to learn how.

Go on a daytrip to Fredericksburg, Texas

Find a weekend when you’re both free and plan a trip to the historic German town of Fredericksburg located in the heart of Texas Hill Country. Spend the day trying the local cuisine, browsing the boutiques, and just exploring a new location. You can even visit Enchanted Rock State Park nearby. You’ll be sure to come back with incredible memories and photos of your adventure.

Go grocery shopping and cook a meal together 

Instead of going out to eat, plan and cook a meal together. Even going to the grocery store is exciting with someone you love. Make use of the communal dorm kitchen and follow a simple recipe. Creating and sharing food together is a true bonding experience. 

Go tubing on the San Marcos

Spending time on the water is an amazing way to get outdoors and change up your routine.  Rent innertubes and drift down the San Marcos River for a relaxing afternoon out on the water and under the sun. 

Get dinner at the Pearl and then go for a stroll on the Riverwalk

One of San Antonio’s best offerings is the Pearl, a revived historic brewery that’s now a center for dining and shopping. Get dinner at the food hall, which offers many different cuisines, and afterwards, buy ice cream and go for a stroll down the riverwalk. 

Go to brunch off campus

Often, we think of dining dates as just for dinner. For something new, on a Saturday morning, put on a pretty dress and go out to brunch with your date at a cute cafe or diner. Some great places to check out include Snooze Eatery, NOLA cafe, and Commonwealth.

Take a walk in a historic neighborhood

Find the historic neighborhoods in San Antonio for a walk to admire the mansions and upscale homes. Consider Monte Vista, Dignowity Hill, Tobin Hill, and Government Hill. Discuss the architecture and landscaping and pick out your favorite houses. What would it be like to live there?

Visit the botanic garden

Walk hand in hand amongst the beautiful flowers and plants of a botanic garden for a classically romantic date. Around Christmas time, the garden offers a lightshow every year, so be sure to check the garden out in wintertime, too.

Go to a play, concert, or talk on campus

Want to do something intellectual? Go to one of Trinity’s plays, musicals, or symphonies put on by the University’s own students. The University also has many guest speakers for different fields of study, so if one seems interesting, go together. Make use out of being in college and enjoy classical entertainment for free.

Go stargazing

Go stargazing with your significant other. Drive out past the city limits one evening, where the sky is clear and unpolluted from city lights. Pull over into a field or park to admire the stars. It’s a great time to ask each other thought-provoking questions, admire the constellations, and be amazed by the infinity of the universe.

Plan a picnic

Picnics are a timelessly romantic date idea. You get to share a meal outdoors, in nature, with someone you love. Plan and put together a meal that’s transportable, locate a picnic blanket, and find a pretty park to enjoy your picnic in. Other fun picnic ideas include listening to music, painting pictures, and petting dogs you see in the park.

Go thrifting 

Whether you need new clothes for an event or just in general, visit a thrift store and see if you can snag any finds. Create outfit ideas for each other just for fun. Buffalo Outlet is a good place to start and tends to have a good selection.

Visit the farmer’s market

A farmers’ market is always a great date idea. Visit the farmer’s market at the Pearl on Saturday or Sunday. It’s a great way to support local businesses while also enjoying quality produce and goods. Be sure to check out the Texas BBQ stand and the lemonade stand!

Closing thoughts

Dating in college is the perfect remedy to the busy school year. However, it’s all too easy to overlook creative ideas and opportunities. It’s crucial to take time off and make the time to spend one-on-one with your boyfriend or girlfriend. If all goes well, you’ll cherish memories from these first four years together for years to come. 

Perspective on Libertarianism

Being a libertarian woman, in my experience, is lonely. It’s like being part of a club with only three people, and one of them is your cousin. I’ve found myself running parallel to a lot of people in what they think and how they perceive me. I am close to being enough for either political party, but there is always a limit, a barrier, that keeps me from fully engaging. I’ve felt isolated from most political discussions since I was in high school. While I was accepted as democratic from my democratic friends, and conservative by my conservative friends, I felt like I could never be honest with either group out of fear of being judged.

 I can say, genuinely, that I have met very few women who were libertarian. Even professors I have had classes with consider libertarianism for men in their 20’s. It’s not that I am uncomfortable being a libertarian, it’s more so that I feel like I am being forced to either vanilla or strawberry ice cream when all I wanted was a chocolate bar. Most people I have been honest with typically consider me an anarchist. I don’t see myself as an anarchist, just as someone who wants options and variety in voting and representation. 

Just because I’m a libertarian doesn’t mean that I hate the government. Actually, I would like to one day work in foreign service. I don’t hate public schools, the USPS, or feminism. I’m this weird creature that exists in the rare forgotten, in between the two parties, without feeling myself in either. I can have a progressive voice while retaining certain conservative values, and I think that’s great. Again, I like options, but I wish more people saw libertarianism without thinking of a frat boy high on Atlas Shrugged.

I would like to comfortably say what I think without being labelled as a part of a “phase” or a “Texan version of a Democrat.” Is it really so erroneous to lie between the two extremes? I’m not one to be extremely political, and I don’t really believe in pressing my beliefs on other people. I don’t see organizations for libertarian women, instead we get grouped in with conservative women like we believe the exact same things.

 Most libertarians don’t bother voting in elections because neither party really exhibits their platforms. Voting for libertarian candidates is often considered a wasted vote. It’s unfortunate enough that the political system attempts to pull libertarians either way, but it’s worse to see it within your own friend groups. 

Many people like to think of politicians and Washington, D.C. as some distant and poor reflection of real society, but we as a community have internalized the same exact polarization. Before you as a reader dismiss this idea, think of this: How many friends do you still have that you disagree with either politically or religiously? Why would someone not seek these different ideas/ people out?

It’s lonely to be a libertarian woman because of these polarized groups we form amongst ourselves. It’s hard not to be enough for either party, not to feel comfortable voicing my own opinions when I know the social pressure tells me to go along with or accept things I disagree with. It’s hard to be dissected by people who claim to know your political identity better than you do. I’m dismissed by the political system, discounted as someone with a juvenile interpretation of parties, and shamed for wanting something more than what is offered. 

Even though I don’t always feel welcomed in political conversation, I like being a libertarian. I really enjoy having a foot in both doors. I like agreeing with some parts of liberalism and some parts of conservatism, it makes things more challenging and conversation on why I’m not socially conservative/ economically leftist more interesting. 

It’s kind of a problematic notion that someone should fit into two distinctive categories without room in between. In essence, I’m not going to change because someone wants me to, or because my demographic is underrepresented in elections. I would like to think that there is room for an “independent woman” in politics who believes in access to birth control and less federal tax. I don’t think libertarianism is as much of a fad as it is perceived as, if anything it is a change in generational thinking. 

An Interview with Daphne Dabney

On Sat. Dec. 19, 2020, outside of the chancery for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, the main office for the Catholic Church in San Antonio, a prayer rally was held in favor of a prominent priest who has been persecuted by the hierarchy, Father Clay Hunt. Fr. Clay was a priest in Del Rio and significantly grew the church in that area. More recently he served in prison ministry, before ultimately having all of his faculties removed. Here is a recent video of his sister describing the rally.

Below is an interview with Fr. Clay’s sister, Daphne, which took place on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020.

Q: What is Fr. Clay being accused of? 

A: I can’t speak on the details, but what I can say is that there are no sexual charges, there are no abuse charges, there are no major charges of substance in anything like that. And those are the things that get priests removed. When you think of a priest getting stripped of his faculties, what’s the first thing you think of? The main ones that you think of, those do not apply in this case. Any little thing that might have happened, they have brought that to light to make it seem like a huge thing, which is where we are now. There is nothing of substance of any major magnitude that they have against Fr. Clay.

Q: What do you think is the reason that they don’t like Fr. Clay?

A: Fr. Clay is faithful to the core to the teachings of the Catholic Church. His inability to be swayed and to be controlled and to have any other agenda put upon him but the agenda of leading people toward Christ, the inability of leadership in the diocese to do that, that is where the rub is. They’re given specific topics to not preach on, and those are the exact topics that need to be talked about. They are the things of the soul, especially in our times, when things are getting crazier by the minute, as far as morality goes. And, he’s the kind of priest that makes people squirm in their seat, because he tells it how it is. He’s not interested in being politically correct. He’s interested in leading people to Christ, which is the ultimate responsibility of a priest. Unfortunately, the leadership of the diocese seems to have other interests in mind, and more worldly views. It’s no secret that Fr. Clay tells it how it is. There are two resources that anybody needs to look at it to know the truth, and that’s the Bible, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Anything against that, he’s not gonna be silenced.

Q: As Fr. Clay’s sister, do you have any stories of his virtue when he was growing up?

A: Well one thing is, this guy doesn’t stop. He never stops. In fact, to the point that his family has been like, ‘OK, you have to sleep. You cannot keep burning the candle at both ends.’ He would completely deteriorate his own health before letting someone be without him. He would be at the hospital at all hours of the day and night. He would go to people’s houses. Of course this is before all this stuff happened, because now he’s literally shackled. But yeah we will tell him, look you have to take care of yourself, but he will just go and go and go. That’s always been very impressive to me. He puts himself last, after everybody else. On a more personal note, I was fortunate, as the sister 17 years younger him, to have been at home when he was discerning the priesthood and when he was in school. There was a period of time when I was in my most formative years, probably in junior high, when he was home for awhile, and he prayed with me every day. You know, when you’re a kid, that might not be the main thing you would want to do, but he would just be so encouraging and I knew that I didn’t have an option. It would be every night, we would lay on the couch together, and we would pray the divine mercy chaplet, every night. And he would say for the sake of his sorrowful PASSION! very loudly because I would fall asleep, and I would jump up awake again and say ‘have mercy on us and on the whole world.’ That’s a very endearing time to me, a time that I know my faith was being formed very solidly and solely because of him. You know, he’s wonderful with children, bringing the youth to the faith. It’s incredible watching him with young people and how influential he is with them. It’s very cool.

Q: Why are you having the rally tomorrow? What’s the desired effect?

A: So, for the rally tomorrow, really at this point, Fr. Clay’s faculties are completely removed. He can’t do anything as a priest, besides his own personal Mass that he says for himself every day. Being the kind of person that he is, that he puts everybody before himself, this is especially excruciating. Not because of any other reason than that he wants to serve. He wants to do what he was called to do, his mission that he was put on this earth for. I don’t think the leadership in the diocese realizes how serious we are about Father Clay. He is in danger of being completely removed from the priesthood, which in a way he is already, but is still technically a priest. But it is to the point that they want him completely out of the priesthood. So he could be completely removed. It is our time for us, as the laity, to come forward and say, ‘this is not ok. Enough is enough. This is a good priest, and he only wants to do good by people.’ It’s time for the voices of the people of the Archdiocese of San Antonio to be heard, and for them to see the impact that he has had and the amount of lives he has changed. Pope Benedict XVI said, ‘The laity is co-responsible for the Church’s being and acting.’ We have a responsibility to the church. We are co-responsible, with the leadership, the priests, the clergy, and the laity. It is time for us to step up, because the acting part right now, how the leadership is acting, is contrary to the mission of the church.

Q: Are you optimistic for Fr. Clay?

A: I’m very optimistic. Absolutely. I know, I know, we know, as faithful Catholics, as Christians, that the Lord has a plan. We know that. I believe that, Fr. Clay believes that, our family is very at peace knowing this, and also knowing the amount of love and support that he has. I truly pray that there is conversion of heart, and that the Lord softens hearts in the diocese who are responsible for these decisions, and that there is a reconciliation. That’s the ultimate goal in all of this, to have a reconciliation. I hope that we can co-exist and be in peace and on the same mission with each other. I have so much faith that he will have his faculties back. He has way too much good left to do on this earth as a priest.

Q: How specifically do you think a solution will be reached for Fr. Clay?

A: I believe that it has to come from the laity. From our prayers for the softening and reconciliation, but also in our voices. It has to. If we stay silent, this will get pushed under the rug, just like it has for many other good clergy in the diocese before Fr. Clay. I think they picked on the wrong priest, to be honest. I think the influence and love that Fr. Clay has with the people of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, I don’t think they considered that when starting all of this.

Q: What ministry do you think Fr. Clay would do well in if he could get his faculties back?

A: I know he would be so happy to serve anywhere. Just put him anywhere and he would be so happy and grateful for it. He was a missionary priest for many years, so he served in all different capacities as a priest, and he just loves to serve God’s people wherever he is. Personally, like I said earlier, he has a very unique perspective when it comes to the youth, especially the years when you typically make bad decisions. He was a wild child, and then he had a major conversion to come to the priesthood, and that shocked anybody who knew him. It was like, ‘what? Clay Hunt is becoming a priest?’ Because of those experiences and because he knows that life, he would be an amazing priest to have working with youth in any capacity. I think he would be incredible at college ministry, I think he’d be incredible at putting on retreats for the youth and just bringing people in. Because people love Fr. Clay for a reason. He’s real. He will not hide things from his past. He’s open about it and he shares so that he can spare others from making decisions that may be harmful. That is so needed with the youth, these days, especially now. Now, more than ever, we need somebody speaking major truths to the youth, whether that’s junior high, high school, college, whatever. Those years are so formative for the rest of your life. I think he would be incredible and the kids would love him. He would be really fulfilled by doing that work. When I was in college, my priest was not very good at all. He was like 90 years old and very wishy washy. I prayed, ‘man, we need someone powerful in here to share the gospel in a powerful way.’ So yeah, I think he would do amazing in that capacity.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: Well, just like I said, this problem is a lot bigger than just Fr. Clay. It’s something that even if people don’t know Fr. Clay, everyone should unite behind. The silence and oppression of the clergy is real. If we are going to uphold the integrity of the Church and be that co-responsibility in our acting and our being as a Church, we have to unite behind this. For all of them, not just for him.

Before the rally and Fr. Clay had his faculties removed, the Catholic Student Group at Trinity University requested to have Father Clay as a priest in three separate letters to the Archbishop of San Antonio. That request was denied.

A Review of the Scottish Play

From October 2 – October 11 and October 16 – October 25, the Classic Theatre of San Antonio performed Macbeth, directed by Joe Groscinski. This performance took on one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays–a tale of fatal ambition, mistrust, and ironic fate.

The stage lights up, a grim glow of green cascading across the platform. It has a ghastly hue, blending with the darkness of the outside theater. I adjust myself in the lawn chair, arms crossed, staring at each end of the green-tinted stage, a loud sense of foreboding filling the empty silence. 

I wait but a few moments, all but the timid sounds of the evening road defying the solemn silence. Suddenly, the theater erupts with noise. Foreign shouts fill the room, the metallic clash of swords and claymores jolting the audience. Actors and actresses rush out from either side of the stage, dressed in Old Scottish warrior garb. The dreadful silence moments before is dispensed, replaced by fury and war.

Then, as suddenly as it began, the noises fade. The soldiers swiftly leave the stage. The theater once again embraces a nothingness, as I wait with fevered anticipation for the first act to begin. 

From October 2 – October 11 and October 16 – October 25, the Classic Theatre of San Antonio performed Macbeth, directed by Joe Groscinski. This performance took on one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays–a tale of fatal ambition, mistrust, and ironic fate.

The play begins with three witches (Emily Huber, Alyx Gonales, Kayce Roye) discussing their plans to meet Macbeth (John Stillwaggon). After a battle with Norwegians, Macbeth and Banquo (Christina Casella) are confronted by the three witches, who tell Macbeth a prophecy of him becoming King of Scotland. He tells this to Lady Macbeth (Carolyn Dellinger) in the form of a letter. Lady Macbeth scoffs at the indecisive tone of the letter, hardening her own heart and ambition.

Lady Macbeth incites Macbeth to ruthlessly act on the prophecy, as they both plan a series of murders to gain the throne, such as the murder of King Duncan, his friend Banquo, and Macduff’s (Zach Lewis) wife and kids.

Sometime after his reign, Malcolm (Hunter Wulff), Macduff, Siward (John Manzke) and English soldiers march to confront Macbeth in Dunsinane. Shortly before the confrontation, Lady Macbeth kills herself, leaving Macbeth in a stupor before the battle. The forces clash, with Macbeth’s army being defeated, and Macduff killing Macbeth. The performance ends with Malcolm being hailed as King of Scotland. 

There is no doubt that Macbeth being performed in the month of Halloween was intentional, and the phenomenal portrayal of the three witches confirms my suspicions. Although I would hesitate to call this adaptation scary as a whole, it did frame the story’s themes of fate and ambition in a spectacularly grim way. This framing can be seen in John Stillwaggon’s profound portrayal of Macbeth.

Stillwaggon’s first appearance comes beside Christina Casella’s Banquo. Here, Banquo’s portrayal serves as a perfect foil, arrogant and haughty, to Stillwaggon’s mirthful yet reserved demeanor. But in their encounter with the three witches, I notice another trait within Stillwaggon’s portrayal: his innocence. 

His interactions are hesitant and wary, his speech and mannerisms filled with reluctance. Stillwaggon bears the mantle of an innocent hero skeptical to the allures of power.

And slowly, he tears this mantle down.

The gradual change from Stillwaggon’s noble portrayal of Macbeth to a murderous tyrant starts with his exchanges with Carolyn Dellinger’s Lady Macbeth. Dellinger’s first scene with Macbeth’s letter is admirable. The mocking tone she adopts when reading his letter compliments her visible contempt for Macbeth’s indecisiveness. Dellinger’s interplay with Stillwaggon is exceptional. She becomes a furious muse, the allure in her tone and speech descending them both into mad ambition. 

Stillwaggon displays the state of Macbeth’s mind to the audience, from his need to appease his wife, to the cascading madness that is accompanied with killing King Duncan. His portrayals of Macbeth’s emotions are so raw and genuine, that I could not help but briefly pardon the mad tyrant he would become. 

But Stillwaggon’s ebbing flow of happiness and guilt, remorse and pride, resolve and fear, is stopped upon news of Lady Macbeth’s death. From there, Macbeth’s famous “Tomorrow soliloquy” is recited.

I always likened the soliloquy to a descent–the first lines filled with frustration and fury, and the last words dying out with disheartened purpose.

But in Stillwaggon’s soliloquy, he presents a tone of disheartened purpose from the very first line. His delivery of each line is desolate and morose, every word like an echo, drawing from the broken will of a hollowed man. In this scene, I cannot feel any sorrow for Macbeth. I feel nothing, as I see not a soul in despair, but a man so hardened and consumed by his fate, he has no soul at all. 

Stillwaggon’s portrayal of Macbeth is profound, from his first appearance to his very end.

Besides the phenomenal acting from the cast, there are many other captivating things about the performance. The battle scenes are well done, with entertaining swordplay and excellent choreography. The appearances of the witches are exceptionally theatrical, with ghastly lighting, chilling sound effects, and their grim attire serving them well. Lastly, the costume and set design is remarkable, allowing the audience to engage with the historic backdrop of the play. 

Overall, I see the performance as a traditional adaptation of Macbeth. However, the individual performances of the cast members are uniquely remarkable, and to certain aspects, revolutionizing. 

Social Class in “Emma” and “Clueless”

Emma is not about Emma, but about class issues, social structure. It is a study of the interactions between individuals from various social classes and the rigid rules of society that constrain all interactions. Those are very difficult things to convey on-screen in a way that stays true to the plot while also keeping the audience’s attention.

Emma is one of my favorite Jane Austen novels. Despite its rather large cast of unlikable characters, the novel is delightfully clever and funny.  I enjoy watching as Emma Woodhouse grows up from a shallow and spoiled girl into a woman whom not only her friends and neighbors admire, but the reader as well. Her character growth is exciting to watch, and the reader cheers her on as she slowly grows and changes into a better person.

Although Emma Woodhouse is not entirely likable, she always tells herself that she is doing what is best for those around her. She involves herself in matchmaking for her friends and neighbors in Highbury. While the novel is, technically, about Emma, it is moreso about the society in which Emma and her neighbors live and the various codified interactions they have with those of different social classes. Emma is a novel about social structure and class, and the conflicts that arise when living in a society as stratefied as Regency-era England. 

Emma (2020) is the most recent adaptation of the classic novel. However, it struggles to compete with Clueless (1995), an adaptation of the novel set in the modern world and focused on the love-lives of privileged teenagers in Los Angeles, California. Although Anya-Taylor Joy is a good actress and does an admirable job in portraying Emma Woodhouse, Emma does not have a likable protagonist. This is, perhaps, the way in which the film stays closest to the source material. For most of the 2020 movie, Emma is an unlikable character, much as she is at the beginning of Austen’s novel.

I can’t lie. Emma is an aesthetically pleasing movie. Director Autumn de Wilde is most known for her photography, and her eye for a pleasing picture makes itself known in the film. The colors, sets, and cinematography are beautiful. The eye-catching costumes contrast beautifully with the neutral and more sedate backgrounds. 

But the theme of the movie feels all wrong. Admittedly, I couldn’t get myself to finish the movie. Although it felt like a waste of the $3.99 I paid to rent the movie, I had to turn off the movie three-quarters of the way in. I thought the movie was terrible. While the plot points were true to those in the novel, it all felt like it lacked Austen’s wit and humor. Sure, there were funny moments, and I appreciated how the score made several scenes ironic and laughable. 

But it lacked the distinct charm and relatability which makes both the novel and Clueless such classics. The characters are written and portrayed in such a way that it is difficult for the modern audience to relate to them, but at the same time, they’re not so antique-feeling that one can see them as charming vestiges of a long-gone era. 

Emma is a difficult story to elegantly and successfully adapt for a modern audience. At its core, Austen’s Emma is about social class. Miss Harriet Smith is potentially of high enough social status to marry the vicar, Mr. Eliot, but certainly not of the right social status to marry Mr. Knightley. Emma Woodhouse is of too high status to ever consider marrying Mr. Eliot, but of the right status to consider either Mr. Knightley or Mr. Churchill. And this list of overlapping social statuses goes on and on and dictates most–if not all–of the novel. 

An adaptation must handle these class issues in a way that makes sense to its audience. Emma features potential couples who are not only ill-suited because of their incompatible personalities and temperament, but also because of their vastly different social standing. 1995’s Clueless handles this issue by setting the scene in a system of semi-rigid social classes with which we are all familiar: Hollywood-imagined high school, riddled with stereotypical divisions of social standing. 

The newest adaptation of Emma does not handle this issue as elegantly. The social classes are unclear, although they are alluded to and somewhat illustrated by showing the differences in clothing, manners, and homes. Mr. Knightley does allude to Harriet Smith’s social standing when he tells Emma why the girl is foolish for turning down her first proposal. Still, he never exactly explains why, or that Mr. Elton is somewhere on the social totem pole below land-owning members of society like Mr. Knightey but above tenant farmers like the Martins. 

Emma is lacking a quality that I cannot explain in words. Unlike Pride and Prejudice (2005) or even Mansfield Park (1999), Emma does not make itself easily relatable to its audience. The struggles Emma and the other characters face do not become the struggles of the audience. Throughout the movie, I was struggling to make myself care about the plot and about each of the characters, and I’ve read Emma multiple times because I love it. 

Emma is, in my opinion, a much more difficult story to adapt to the screen than any of Austen’s other novels. Emma is not about Emma, but about class issues, social structure. It is a study of the interactions between individuals from various social classes and the rigid rules of society that constrain all interactions. Those are very difficult things to convey on-screen in a way that stays true to the plot while also keeping the audience’s attention. 

Clueless is able to do this so much more easily than Emma because of its modern setting. We are all familiar with the social structure and rules of hierarchy in Cher Horowitz’s life. Rather than being confused or annoyed at the ways societal expectations nudge characters in particular directions, we understand without the film having to deviate into a long-winded explanation. Emma lacks this ease, and honestly, it makes the film difficult to watch. 

Get to Know TU Clubs

This semester is a very strange one to be a tiger, especially for first year students. Rather than being able to attend the annual Student Involvement Fair and being overwhelmed by students handing out fliers, goody-bags, stickers, and cookies, the Class of 2024 attended an online zoom session with various clubs after watching their self-made introductory videos.

To help Tower readers–especially freshmen–find their niche on campus, I’ve interviewed officers from four different clubs to explain their club, how it enhances student life at Trinity University, and why new students should attend their meetings.

Tigers for Life is dedicated to discussing various pro-life issues on campus, educating members and Trinity students, and volunteering and engaging in activism to support the goals of the Pro-Life Movement. According to club president Angelique Lopez (Class of 2022): “Tigers for Life enhances student life at Trinity by bringing more diverse conversations about topics that are important yet a lot of people are uncomfortable talking about. By having weekly meetings and frequent information tables, we seek to educate and spread awareness about end-of-life issues such as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, In Vitro Fertilization and embryonic stem cell research. In addition, Tigers for Life seeks to enhance student life at Trinity with its new Pregnant on Campus Initiative which aims to make Trinity more inclusive to pregnant and parenting students. Hopefully, with this initiative, we can help end the stigma against pregnant and parenting students and eventually be able to provide some kind of financial aid for those students.

“If students are interested in learning more about end-of-life issues such as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, IVF and embryonic stem cell research, or would like to volunteer helping women with crisis pregnancies, Tigers for Life is a great group to join and welcomes both pro-life and pro-choice students. 

“Tigers for Life remains dedicated to our mission of defending the value and dignity of all human lives this semester, whether on or off campus. In accordance with this mission, the health and safety of our members, classmates and community are of utmost importance given the circumstances this fall. For the time being, we are hosting all club gatherings virtually, but we will adjust our plans in accordance with university guidelines to come and with our members’ circumstances and wishes.” Tigers for Life holds weekly meetings via Zoom every Thursday from 6-7pm.

The Young Conservatives of Texas is the only politically-oriented club on campus for Conservative students. They focus on discussions about both conservative philosophy and policy and often volunteer on various local campaigns. According to the current president, Nathan Darsch (Class of 2022), “YCT enhances student life at Trinity by giving students a place to listen to and be part of more conservative discussion that otherwise wouldn’t have been on Trinity’s campus.

“Any Trinity student can come to our meetings and join us in our discussions. We are actively looking for conservative or libertarian students that believe in the ideas and ideals laid out in the Constitution and by the Founding Fathers.” To keep their sense of community during COVID-19, YCT will “be holding meetings and many of our social events over zoom. Despite having to do most things over Zoom, we hope to still be able to do a few activities on and around campus so that club members can work together and feel like they are part of the community,” said Darsch. YCT holds its weekly meetings every Tuesday from 6-7pm via Zoom.

This semester is the first semester in many years in which Trinity University has had its own chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL). Club founders Zachary Neeley (Class of 2021) and Timothy Yen (Class of 2022) founded YAL “to provide an on-campus home for libertarian students at Trinity that could serve the two-fold purpose of talking about issues libertarians care about in a libertarian setting and acting as a way for libertarians to get to know each other in an open and friendly environment,” said Neeley. He and Yen both expressed that they had attended meetings held by YCT, but did not feel that they could talk about libertarian issues they cared about in the majority-conservative meetings. 

Yen said that YAL enhances student life at Trinity because their “approach to campus politics is very simple: cooperation. We want to engage with other clubs on campus, both political and non-political, in the areas where our values and positions overlap. Libertarianism is a political philosophy, but the paradigm of libertarianism, which I like to summarize as ‘don’t hurt others, and don’t take their stuff,’ can be applied to daily life as well. Recently, there has been a project called ‘The Trinity Way’ where students anonymously submit complaints and stories about their experiences at Trinity. I think many of these problems can be fixed using the libertarian framework of resolving issues outside of institutions of authority. We understand that we are not policymakers, but we would like to bring attention to certain issues that we care about as libertarians, such as the war on drugs and the atrocities in Yemen enabled in no small part by the United States.” 

While YAL is primarily made up of libertarian members, Yen said that YAL “welcome[s] all political ideologues to our meetings. We plan on being transparent with our meeting topics, so if anyone may be interested in a certain issue, or perhaps debate us on an issue, they are more than welcome to join us for those meetings. Libertarians have internal debates too, and we’d love to have Trinity students, both those who identify as libertarians and those who don’t, to weigh in.”

YAL holds weekly meetings via zoom from 5-6pm CST. In addition to this, Yen said that “We also have a GroupMe chat, where we often talk about politics, but we also try to build a community by talking about music, sports, and our lives outside of politics. We actually have a lot in common besides politics, and I feel very lucky that we have the infrastructure to continue our friendship and community while we are not together geographically. Additionally, we engage our members by giving them the opportunity to vote on what kind of posts we put on our Twitter (@TrinityYal) and Instagram (@yalibertytrinityu).” 

The Catholic Student Group (CSG) at Trinity does its best to foster in students both a deep love for Christ and a greater understanding of Catholic teachings. According to the current president, Alex Jacobs (Class of 2020), “CSG enhances student life at Trinity in several ways. First and foremost, we bring the sacraments to campus, primarily the sacraments of Confession and Eucharist. The power of these sacraments is eternal life, which is the greatest life enhancement you could possibly get. Although only a minority of the students on campus actually take advantage of these sacraments, the grace contained in them is the grace of Christ, which is infinite, and so their effects are not limited only to the people who receive them. The people who receive the sacraments on campus become beacons of light, through which God shines his grace on the rest of the campus.

CSG accepts all interested members, particularly “both Catholics and people who are interested in Catholicism. We have opportunities to learn about the faith and can provide any truth-seekers with ample resources to bring that search to term. We will have Mass regularly at 5pm in Parker Chapel. Furthermore, we plan to have some zoom events as well as some random outdoor gatherings with small numbers of people. We also have Bible studies that people are always welcome to join. Some of our zooms will be speakers.”

Saint Ignatius of Antioch: A Model for Our Times

Like St. Ignatius, do not be afraid. Do not worry about what people say about you for living out your faith.

What does it really mean to be a Christian? In other words, what does it mean to follow Christ Jesus? How do we know what is his will, and how do we act upon it? Well, first and foremost, we must acknowledge Christ. We must acknowledge Him as truly the Son of God, and we must do so before others: “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9). In acknowledging Christ, we must undoubtedly do so with our words, and we should not be afraid to do so. We should not fear those who can kill the body, but rather, the one who “can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Matthew 10:28). As a matter of fact, instead of being afraid of persecution for living out the Christian life, we should “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:13-14). This is the wonderful promise of redemption, and ultimately reveals the truth that Jesus, and only Jesus, can answer the suffering we experience in this world. The answer to suffering, in other words, is not to remove it from our life, but to redeem it, by uniting it to the suffering of Christ: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Today, we celebrate the feast of a true Christian, a man who followed Christ to the end, who remained “steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). This man is Saint Ignatius of Antioch.

St. Ignatius was what’s called an early Church Father, and the Church Fathers are absolutely necessary in order to understand what it means to be a Christian. The Catholic Church has, throughout the centuries, drawn on their writings for her theology, because they lived so closely to the time of Christ and were so united to the Apostles. If you have not read any of the writings of the Church Fathers, you really must do so, and St. Ignatius of Antioch is a great place to start.

St. Ignatius was born around the year 50 AD in Syria. He was the third Bishop of Antioch, immediately succeeding Evodius, who had immediately succeeded Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles. St. Peter was ultimately the first Bishop of Rome, also known as the first Pope, and was eventually martyred in what is now Vatican City. St. Peter himself appointed St. Ignatius to the See of Antioch. Because St. Ignatius received his consecration as bishop at the hands of the first pope, he was greatly honored. 

During his time as Bishop of Antioch, he spent much of his time encouraging his flock to be steadfast in the face of persecution. He gave the faithful of Antioch hope during the persecutions of Emperor Dormitian, who reigned from 81-96 AD. St. Ignatius himself escaped the persecution of Dormitian, but he was not as lucky during the reign of Emperor Trajan, who was emperor shortly after Dormitian. That is, if we should consider it lucky to escape martyrdom. St. Ignatius certainly would have considered himself unlucky if he did escape! In his letter to the Romans, in which he requested that Roman Christians not try to save him from martyrdom, he said: “I beseech of you not to show an unseasonable good-will towards me. Allow me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality it will be granted me to attain to God. I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.”

In the year 106 AD, Trajan mandated that everyone, regardless of religious belief, give thanks to the pagan gods for the success Trajan had over the Scythians. If anyone refused to worship these pagan gods, he would be killed. In 107 AD, Trajan was passing through Antioch, and he was told that St. Ignatius openly confessed Christ and preached against these persecutions. Trajan had Ignatius brought before him, and St. Ignatius eloquently, courageously, and even joyfully, rebuked the emperor and welcomed the threat of martyrdom. Trajan ordered that St. Ignatius be chained and brought to Rome, to be fed to beasts in the Coliseum. To this day, his relics are in the Basilica of St. Clement in Rome. 

One thing that is so clearly exemplified in St. Ignatius’s writings is the presence of Catholic doctrine. The Early Church Fathers in general demonstrate the reality that the early Church truly was the Catholic Church, the same Catholic Church that exists to this day, but St. Ignatius is particularly important, because of his clarity, bluntness, and temporal proximity to the Apostles. To take just one quote from his writings, he states in his letter to the Philadelphians: 

Make no mistake, my brothers, if anyone joins a schismatic he will not inherit God’s Kingdom. If anyone walks in the way of heresy, he is out of sympathy of the Passion. Be careful, then, to observe a single Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and one cup of his blood that makes us one, and one altar, just as there is one bishop along with the presbytery and the deacons, my fellow slaves. In that way whatever you do is in line with God’s will.

Let’s go back now to our initial question: What does it mean to follow Christ, and how do we know what is his will? Here, St. Ignatius gives a synopsis of what this means and how to live that out practically. He states very bluntly that those who join schismatic groups, in other words, those who break off from the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church founded by Christ, will not inherit God’s kingdom. The way one knows whether they are in a schismatic group, according to St. Ignatius, is if they are out of communion with the bishops appointed by the Church Christ founded. He states that people who break communion with the Church are separated from Christ’s passion, which is the only means of salvation. In addition, he notes the absolute necessity of observing the truth of the real, not symbolic, presence of Christ in the Eucharist. He states that the Eucharist is truly the flesh and blood of our Lord, and that we must be very careful to make sure we are acknowledging that reality, in accordance with the words of Jesus Christ Himself and the Church he founded.

This quote also demonstrates the hierarchical nature of the early Christian Church, which had an episcopate (the bishops), presbyterate (the priests), and the diaconate (the deacons), which is the exact structure that exists to this day in the Catholic Church, and all of the apostolic Churches, the Orthodox included. This is why reading the Church Fathers is so necessary: We must know how to follow Christ, not only in the way we ourselves interpret Scripture, but in the way that Christ himself intended us to follow him. And a good way to know how he intended us to follow him is to look and see what the earliest Christians thought, because they lived and worked with the Apostles. 

Do not be afraid. Do not worry about what people say about you for living out your faith.

Furthermore, if you find yourself in fear over the times we are living in, over the hostility to the Christian faith that pervades our culture, I want to encourage you. Do not be afraid. Do not worry about what people say about you for living out your faith. It is only natural that following Christ, we too, should be persecuted, just as He was: “If the world hates you, know that it hated me first” (John 15:18). Go out there and proclaim the truth, and proclaim it boldly, because if people do not know now, they will eventually, and now is better than later: “God greatly exalted him, and bestowed upon him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 4:9-11).