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Hello everyone! I hope everyone is doing well. I just wanted to come on here real quick to talk to you guys about something non-schoolish. A while ago, I wrote that I was thinking about starting a non-school blog. Well, I just launched it a few days ago! The blog that I have been working on is called “A diary of a Catholic teen.” It’s probably pretty obvious from the title, but my blog is a Catholic blog where I post about my faith. Feel free to follow, regardless of your faith!

Here’s a link for you guys!

I hope to see you there!

Speech 14: summarizing the first season of Stranger Things

*WARNING. This speech contains spoilers for season 1 of Stranger Things! If you haven’t seen the show and do not want to be spoiled, don’t watch this speech.

For those who have seen Stranger Things, what did you think of season 4? That season was just. . . Wow. It was phenomenal and definitely worth the wait! (Although, three years is a long time to wait for anything, even when it’s Stranger Things)

Did the Little Flowers provide the common man with confidence about obtaining Eternal life?

“Little Flowers” displays the many saintly stories about St. Francis and the early years of the Franciscans. The author provides the reader with the many miracles and divine experiences that many of the friars witnessed and experienced. The Franciscan friars lived very rigorous lives. The order greatly emphasized poverty and humility. There are many instances in the book where various friars take part in extreme forms of penance, self-punishment, and self-mortification.

St. Francis and many of his fellow friars lived extremely holy lives. Sometimes it’s hard to find the confidence that we, as mere common people, will ever reach that form of holiness. After reading this book about St. Francis and the Franciscan friars, many people probably hold the belief that the “Little Flowers” does not provide the confidence the common individual needs about his/her life beyond the grave. I don’t think that was the author’s intent, however. Yes, St. Francis’ life was an absolutely extraordinary one. Many of the saints’ lives look similar. It is safe to say that not many of us will receive the stigmata (wounds) of Jesus Christ like St. Francis did. Not many of us will probably reach the holiness that St. Francis had. But, I don’t think that the author of this book of extraordinary stories was trying to discourage us from obtaining Eternal life. The stories of various saints aren’t meant to do that. The saints’ lives aren’t meant to make us feel bad about ours. Their holy lives are meant to give us the motivation to try to do better. To try to become saint-like. To become a saint. That is one of my favorite little reminders and sayings. We should all strive to become a saint. Obviously, we aren’t going to achieve the level of holiness we read about in these saint stories right away. But St. Francis, for example, wasn’t born a saint. For much of his youth, he partied and lived a carefree life, very different from the life we read about in “Little Flowers,” God was often put to the back of his mind. It didn’t stay like that for long, though. God called Francis, and he listened. God used him to touch so many lives; St. Francis was willing to be used by God, even when he didn’t know exactly where God was taking him. Let us all be like St. Francis, submitting ourselves to God and trusting in his plan.

Something that many people took issue with in this book (particularly the course teacher) is how in a handful of chapters the author wrote that some of the friars had gone to Purgatory and not directly to Heaven. Personally, I didn’t feel the same way as my teacher and many others. Some people took issue with the fact that if these holy friars had to go to Purgatory for a short time, would we even make it to Heaven? First of all, not all of these stories in “Little Flowers” are one-hundred percent true; some of them are based on legend. We can’t take everything from this book to heart. Second of all, Purgatory is not Hell. Nothing unclean is able to enter Heaven. Therefore, Purgatory may be necessary if we still have some non-serious sins on our souls when we die. Even though these friars were very holy people, that’s not to say that they were completely ready and clean enough to enter God’s kingdom. What about us? Most of us aren’t as holy as these Friars. How long will we spend in Purgatory? Ultimately, that’s all up to God. God has the final judgment. God knows our hearts. We might not live a rigorous life like many of the saints, but we can do what we are capable of. God knows our true intent. We don’t have to perform big miracles to enter God’s kingdom. Look at St. Therese the Little Flower. Her way to eternal life was not by performing huge saintly acts but instead by living her life doing the little and simple things.

In my opinion, “Little Flowers” is not meant to discourage the common man with the holiness of these friars. Instead, I believe that the book, like many stories of the saints’ lives, was meant to bring to light the life of St. Francis and the holy friars. The book is meant to inspire and motivate us to live a life that will get us to Heaven. It is meant to encourage us to live Christ-like lives, and by living a Christ-like life, we are guaranteed a place in Heaven.

The Hundred Years’ War and John Wicklif

The Hundred Years’ War

Many things happened during the 14th century that shaped the western world greatly. The Hundred Years’ War was one of those significant happenings. The Hundred Years’ War was, just like it sounds, a horrible war that lasted over a hundred years. The War was a war between England and France and had to do with a conflict as to who deserved France’s throne. The War took place from 1337 to 1453. The main cause of this war was the dispute between King Edward III, the king of England, and the King of France. Before the War started, France was going through a confusing time in terms of who should rule France. King Edward thought it should be him, as his mother was the daughter of King Philip IV. However, due to the fact that women were not considered legitimate rulers at that time, and therefore a person could not inherit a throne from a woman, the French disagreed.

Even though this war lasted more than a hundred years, it didn’t include constant fighting. Sometimes there were long truces before the fighting resumed again. The English won most of the battles, which greatly surprised and angered the French. They had more resources than the English and couldn’t understand why they were losing so badly to the English. The loss of battles on France’s side was probably due to France’s disarray and disorder. Ultimately, despite England’s many battle victories, the French won the war and drove the English almost completely out of France, which was very significant. England, even before the war, controlled many parts of France; ever since William the Conquer, English kings had a connection to France. By the end of the War, England lost all control of France except for a small portion of France known as Calais, which is on the English Channel. St. Joan of Arc played a part in France’s victory as she was responsible for many of France’s victories in battle, which turned the tide in the war.

John Wicklif

John Wicklif (1320-1384) was a great many things: a bible translator, philosopher, theologian, reformer, and priest. Even though John Wicklif identified as a Catholic priest, many of his views and beliefs contradicted and differed from those of the Catholic Church. Wicklif believed in predestination, meaning before all time, where your soul would end up was already decided by God. Essentially, he believed that we didn’t have free will; the only humans who possessed free will were Adam and Eve. He also didn’t believe that the sacrament of confession was necessary, claiming that all Christians were priests and, therefore, we can just go directly before God. There was no need to confess your sins to a priest. Wicklif was a strong believer in the supremacy of the State over the Church. He didn’t think the clergy should own property, and if they did, the government should have the right to take it from them. John Wicklif was known to attack both the papacy and monasticism. He argued that the Scripters should be the authoritative center of Christianity; the papacy, he claimed, was invalade. When it came to monasticism, Wicklif called monks “Pests of society and enemies of religion” (ouch, that’s pretty harsh).

John Wicklif is considered to be a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation. A lot of his ideas are very similar to those of Martin Luther and some Protestants today. Despite the fact that he called himself a priest, his beliefs were very different from the beliefs and teachings of the Church.

Saint Francis’ approach to gain eternal life

Saint Francis of Assisi is an extraordinary Saint in the Catholic Church. His life is a life worthy of our embrace and adoption. Saint Francis lived during the 13th century. He lived much of his youth with wealth and finery and spent much of his time at parties. One day, though, Francis’ life drastically changed when he experienced an extremely clear calling to a very different life. Saint Francis changed his life radically when he decided to live a life of extreme poverty and self-denial. Francis started a religious order, still around today, called the Franciscans. He started out with only twelve men, just like Christ’s twelve disciples, but the Franciscan order soon grew greatly.

“Little Flowers” is a book depicting the life of Saint Francis and his followers and was written towards the end of the 14th century. The book is composed of several short chapters and portrays various stories about this truly magnificent Saint. By reading this book, I have been provided with a lot of understanding and insight about Saint Francis and his approach to gaining eternal life. Saint Francis’ goal in life was to get to Heaven, as it should be for all of us. Eternal life with Christ was the main goal derived from “Little Flowers.” Shouldn’t every single person on this earth be fighting and working towards eternal salvation? Shouldn’t obtaining eternal life be everyone’s goal? Unfortunately, the way to Heaven isn’t a path of ease and simplicity. The path isn’t devoid of hardships and struggles. “So,” some might ask, “What you’re saying is that God just wants us to suffer?” No. God hates to see us suffer. He hates death and pain and sin. God is merciful and loving. That’s why He gave us the gift of free will, but because of that gift, Adam and Eve plagued humanity with their abuse of this great gift. Christ never promised an easy life. He instead told us the following: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”(Luke 9:23)

How do we exactly obtain this eternal life? According to “Little Flowers,” the way to Heaven is by living a life full of good works and self-denial. Like Jesus said, If we wish to follow Him, we must deny ourselves and take up our crosses. We must die to ourselves. We must take up our crosses, whatever they may be, and follow after Christ. Saint Francis’ approach to gaining eternal life was to live a life of extreme poverty, self-denial, charity, and humility. Obviously, living that type of rigorous life isn’t going to be possible for everyone. Living a life that will lead to Heaven will look different for everyone. As long as we use Christ as a model in our lives and try our best to follow His example, we are on the right track to obtaining eternal life.

To sum up, the way to Heaven is to essentially live Christ-like lives. Christ is humble, charitable, and obedient. Jesus possesses every good attribute and virtue. He is the absolute perfect model for us to follow. When we are about to do something, we should think to ourselves, “Is this something Jesus would do?” If the answer is no, then the best thing for our souls would be to not do that thing. It may not be easy, but, in the end, it will be totally worth it.

The Black Death and the conflicts between Philip the 4th and Pope Boniface the 8th

The Black Death and the effect it had on Europe

The 14th century was a difficult time for Europe. Along with war and famine, the Black Death was another plague Europe unfortunately experienced. The Black Death, the most fatal pandemic recorded in history, occurred from 1346 to 1352. The Black Death wiped out nearly 1/3 of the European population. This horrible plague was the combination of two different plagues: the bubonic plague, which was spread via fleas, and the pneumonic plague, which was transmitted by sneezing and coughing. The Black Death’s reign was a very chaotic and terrifying time for all of Europe. The urban areas experienced the worst of the Black Death due to the crowdedness and lack of hygiene. The plague spread very quickly and brutally. There was almost no escaping the disease.

The Black Death caused many problems to appear in Europe. Not only did the Black Death wipe out a significant amount of Europe’s population, but the plague created social, political, and economic upheavals for Europe as well. After the Black Death, much of Europe experienced shortages of labor. Due to the fact that many people had lost their lives to this deadly disease, there was a substantial loss of workers. Because of this, pretty much everything skyrocketed in price. The time after the Black Death was an especially trying time for the peasants due to the fact that they were often treated very horribly.

The Black Death took its toll on Europe. The 14th century was truly a very terrifying, confusing, and chaotic time for Europe and its inhabitants.

The Conflict between Philip the Fair and Pope Boniface the 8th

The Church and State continued to face chaos and turmoil, which wouldn’t cease until a couple hundred years later (that’s not to say the difficulties between Church and State have completely vanished). This conflict between a King and a Pope basically started when Philip the 4th, in need of money, started taxing the Clergy without the Pope’s permission. This greatly offended Pope Boniface. He threatened to excommunicate Philip, but Philip the 4th returned the threat with one of his own. He threatened to cut off all income from Rome. Pope Boniface backed down after hearing this, but this only fueled his anger. Philip continued to assert control over matters of the Church. He imprisoned many bishops without the authority of the Pope. Obviously, this greatly angered the Pope.

In the end, Pope Boniface died shortly after an alarming confrontation with the King’s soldiers. Pope Boniface was replaced by Pope Clement the 5th, one of the weakest Popes in history. He submitted to the King’s demands, usually without a fight. These many conflicts between Church and State are what ultimately led to a very confusing time in European history, known as the Great Western Schism, which, in turn, led to the Protestant Reformation.

The Song of Roland

The poem known as the Song of Roland is far from perfect. As I said in one of my previous essays, Song of Roland is a long poem following the noble knight, Roland, his trustful friend, Oliver, and Charlemagne’s army as they wage war with the Muslims in Spain during the 7th century. The main plot of the story was a decent one. I think the story itself had the potential to be a very good poem. Song of Roland is a war story and glorifies courage and bravery. However, the little details in the poem are what caused this poem to be inconsistent, confusing, and problematic.

The lengthy poem is undoubtedly not counted among the significant and well-esteemed pieces of literature written around the same time. At least, in my opinion. This poem contains many problems and discrepancies. Often, while reading this poem, I found myself bored and confused. There are many things in this poem that entirely contradict other things previously mentioned by the author. For example: At the beginning of a battle, the Franks had 120,000 men, but 20,000 left to assist in another battle. So, that leaves 100,000 Franks left to fight a large army of Muslims. But here’s the inconsistent and confusing thing: Towards the end of the battle, the author wrote that there were approximately 335,000 Franks left! Where did those men come from? They literally appear out of nowhere! The author gives no explanation concerning the sudden appearance of extra Frankish warriors.

The Song of Roland is full of discrepancies. It is poorly written. The author clearly did not thoroughly think his words through. He wrote something and then completely disregarded it later on. The author surely did not put his heart into his poem. In my opinion, it felt like this book was a half-hearted attempt. I think the main purpose of this poem was to encourage and motivate people to participate in the Crusades that were going on around the 11th century. Song of Roland was essentially propaganda.

With the problematic aspects of Song of Roland in mind, would a typical reader notice them? That depends on many factors. First of all, it depends on the person. Some people have a very keen eye when it comes to recognizing details, while others may brush past the details. Some people may have been reading this poem and noticed all the discrepancies. Others, like me, probably weren’t as observant and needed the course teacher to point them out. Another factor to keep in mind is the point of time this poem was read. Nowadays, many people most likely will notice the issues this poem has. But if it were, say, the 11th century, I’m sure the majority of people reading Song of Roland would have been ignorant of the problems it contained. Why? At the time, everyone was very wrapped up in the Crusades. Because of that, I’m sure most would have turned a blind eye toward the problematic aspects. Most would have seen a story about Christians fighting against Muslims and nothing else. They would have seen a story from which they could draw inspiration and motivation. I’m sure there were people back then who did notice the various details that failed to make sense, but for the most part, in my opinion, most wouldn’t have even noticed.

The conflicts between the emperors and the popes.

During the middle ages, around the 11th and 12th centuries, the emperors of Europe, and the various popes of the Catholic Church, were almost in constant conflict with each other. Almost. Some of the emperors and the popes did get along very well and had no incidents of major conflicts or arguments. However, there were many incidents recorded in history that displayed said conflicts and disagreements. These conflicts ultimately led to a group of Christians splitting off from the Papacy, refusing to be ruled by a pope. This event is known as the Protestant Reformation, which I’m sure will be covered in a future essay.

What is the reason behind the conflicts between the emperors and the popes? I don’t mean the little reasons, like an emperor abusing the Church or going against the things a certain pope might have decreed. I mean the ultimate reason behind these conflicts. I think it all boils down to authority. Throughout the middle ages, a struggle for power between the popes and emperors became more and more common. There was a constant struggle between Church and State. At this time, much of Europe was a very Christian area. The majority of the population, including the political leaders, were Christian. While that may sound like a good thing (and for the most part, it was), it also caused some problems between Church and State. With Christian emperors in charge, there were various incidents of them abusing the Church. Because of their position of power, many emperors used their authority to control the Church. They held too much power over the Church. On many occasions, the popes had to step in and intervene. The emperors wanted to have power over almost everything, including the Church.

Now, I’m not saying that the popes were completely faultless while the emperors were the only ones to blame. Some of the popes had started to hold too much power over the State; more than the emperors would have liked. Whenever many of the emperors felt the slightest threat to their power, a fight almost always broke out.

The reason behind these many conflicts between the popes and the emperors pretty much all boils down to authority and power. The emperors wanted power over both their country and the Church. The popes wouldn’t stand for this. They believed that they should govern the Catholic Church while the political leaders governed the Empire. However, at times, some of the popes did get a little carried away with their position of power, and a few started to hold too much authority over the State, especially due to the fact that the ”State” was a very Christian one. The line between Church and State was not very distinct at this time, and that caused a lot of problems.

Oliver’s view of military goals vs. Roland’s

The “Song of Roland” is a lengthy poem written around the 11th century. The “Song of Roland” follows Charlemagne’s army as they wage war against the Muslims in Spain during the late 7th century. While this epic retells actual historical events, such as the 778 Battle of Roncevaux Pass, much of the poem is fictionalized and greatly dramatized. At the time this poem was written, the Crusades were going on. I think it’s very likely that this written work was used to especially encourage and inspire people to participate in these Crusades.

The poem follows Roland, a Frankish military leader, and his friend Oliver. These friends have very different personalities. Roland and Oliver’s views of military goals differ slightly from each other. Towards the end of the book, Roland, who is Charlemagne’s general, leads his men into battle against the Muslims. As the battle wages, the Frankish army realizes they are outnumbered and losing badly. Or, should I say, Oliver realizes it. Roland is so caught up in wanting to be honored and valiant. Several times Oliver urges Roland to sound the horn that would call for aid from Charlemagne. Roland refuses stubbornly and urges his men to keep fighting for honor and glory. Much later on in the battle, Roland, however, realizes that they are indeed losing badly. Reluctantly, he sounds the horn, calling for aid. But he’s too late. Oliver reminds Roland that if he had sounded the horn earlier when he urged him to, they would not be in this predicament. Charlemagne’s army would have most likely succeeded in arriving in time to offer aid. Roland was just too stubborn and proud. He put too much confidence in his army, assuming that he and his army would be victorious, even when they were outnumbered. Roland, it seemed, was afraid of being seen as a coward. He didn’t want his name to be known as a dishonorable one. Achieving great acts of honor and valor was Roland’s goal.

Oliver was very different. Early on in the battle, he realized that his army would not last long. He thought it wise to call for aid before it was too late and things got worse. Oliver had a very logical personality. He wasn’t rash or headstrong like his friend. I feel like Oliver would be the type of person to regard a situation carefully and logically before he proceeded. Roland would be the type of person to just jump into the situation without thinking. The author of “Song of Roland” pretty much summed up these two men in one short sentence: “Roland is valiant, Oliver is wise.”

Oliver and Roland had different views about military goals and success. Roland was all about honor and glory. If he was unable to achieve the honor he was seeking by winning a battle, dying an honorable death would have been his next choice. Roland believed it to be more important to die an honorable death than survive by cowardice. Oliver was a little different. Like Roland, he wanted to be known as an honorable person. Oliver wanted to achieve honorable deeds as well, of course. However, he possessed slightly more sense than Roland. Oliver would try to win the battle in the most efficient way, even if that meant calling for aid and being seen as a coward. In the long run, Oliver believed that winning the battle, even if it wasn’t the most honorable way, was more important than being seen as a valiant person.

These two men had very different personalities. Both had flaws and strengths. Roland was stubborn and valiant, while Oliver was logical and wise. Despite their differences, Roland and Oliver were great friends and were very loyal to each other.