Author: Anna Priore

Walking to Mass

First, the sun:

the long pink pit of the sky’s mouth.

The snow-capped peaks of Division Street businesses

are grey cutouts of the virgin gold sky.

Lights and televisions wink in windows.

Mothers reheating waffles,

children rustling plastic lunch bags,

and Dad

if there is a dad

remarking on the bitterness of the coffee

while slathering saltines in butter.

I move on.

The darkness seems uncertain

of where it wants to hide before

the dawn forces it to retreat

sighing

into basements and dark computer rooms.

But it knows its time will come again

as sure as my boots strike the asphalt,

as the white smoke escapes my lungs

and dissolves in the pure cold air

like a personal incense.

I am the only pilgrim

this brutally quiet morning;

on my knees as the sun ascends

from the black voids of hell.

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Letter to the Editor: October 17, 2014

I was saddened by the article “Pope’s leadership suggests modernized church” Sept. 26, written by Scott Johnson ’18. Johnson claims that the Church is still “living in the 10th century” by upholding its stance on artificial contraception and premarital sex, and that it had better “reevaluate” if it wants to survive and ensure its pew membership.

As a Catholic myself which I assume Johnson is not, I wish to clarify these common misconceptions. Yes, the Pope is initiating some much-needed changes, but Scott claims that if Francis slackens the Church’s stronghold on premarital sex and contraception, it will not undermine the core values of the Church. This is simply not true.

The Catholic Church has always faithfully upheld its doctrine on sexuality because marriage and the family are the basic structures for all of society. Dissolve the family, and there is no stability in our culture or our faith: children are slaughtered in the womb, single mothers abound, and fathers bed-hop with no sense of commitment. We have already seen these tragedies ravage our world, and the Church offers the only real solution by requiring men and women to take responsibility for their sexuality rather than using sex solely for selfish personal gain, as artificial birth control and cohabitation promote.

The number of practicing Catholics may be falling, but it is not, and never has been, the Church’s goal to be popular. The Church’s mission is to bring souls to heaven, and these “rules” about sex are not to suppress and control us, but to help us become responsible human beings who want what is best for one another. Catholic membership is not falling because the Church is backwards and irrelevant, but rather because most people don’t have the cojones to be a faithful follower of Christ. Yes, Jesus had mercy on prostitutes and tax collectors as Pope Francis does today but he also required them to leave their sinful ways and follow Him. The Catholic Church today is no different.

Also, Catholics are only against artificial birth control. Natural birth control, aka Natural Family Planning, is widely practiced by those who don’t want to have 15 kids or “protect” themselves with pieces of latex and harmful drugs. And according to a US News story from July 2013, a study conducted by the Family Research Council found that Catholics have better sex lives than any other demographic group; you can read the article at www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/07/17/devout-catholics-have-better-sex.

Please check your facts if you ever write about the Catholic Church in the future.

Anna Priore ’16 priorea@stolaf.edu is from Kenyon, Minn. She majors in English with a concentration in biomedical studies.

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The Table

The kitchen is on the north side of the house. The bay window over the sink faces the weathered but dignified rows of Norway pines that surround the back yard. In the corner of the kitchen there is a bowl of limes, hard as stones and brown with age, a pair of expensive binoculars for watching birds and a block of extremely sharp knives. In the other corner, on the south side of the wall, is a wooden table with three rush-bottomed chairs. The table has stains from watercolors and crayons. There are rings from scalding gravy boats and heavy cast-iron skillets. There are gashes from pumpkin carving knives and sticky spots from cookie dough.

Every night the four of us sit around the table and say grace and a Hail Mary before supper. There is a candle burning in the center, sometimes two, maybe a vase of flowers and always a statue of Mary or the Infant of Prague. Before broadcasting went digital, we had a little Sony TV with rabbit ears so we could watch the news and Paul Douglas on the weather channel. Sometimes during lunch the Andy Griffith show would be on, sometimes Bonanza, other times Star Trek, all of which went very well with our reheated leftovers.

As I got older, the table became a place of debate and discussion: if the music would ever get better at Mass, if the Democrats would win the presidency, if daylight savings time would ever be canceled. Other times, it would revolve around our cousins who were still living at home after college, if Dad would ever go to confession with the rest of us on Saturdays instead of watching Crime Story in the easy chair, if I would ever learn to think before I spoke. There were tears. There were fights. There were things I have purposely forgotten.

When I left home for college, I would always think of the table: my sister sitting where I used to be, Dad chewing loudly and never looking up, Mom staring straight ahead at the greasy white wall. I taste the difference between food cooked with love and food mass-produced by cafeteria workers. I think of our conversations while I sit at a single table and silently consume energy for studying. I think of the friends we have laughed with around that table, the guests we have tolerated and tried our best to entertain. I never knew how much I would miss a stained, warped, scratched piece of wood.

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Blind Tiger

They brought you to me writhing,

A frantic, incredulous prisoner of bloody darkness.

Two orbs of blue flint,

bulging in the rage of violation that no one could remedy.

My arm, sunglasses, a cane-you despised them all,

groping for your dignity in the crumpled blue suit

pulled so clumsily over your nakedness,

concealing shame in harassed hair you forbid me to comb.

I kept a vigil over your curses,

your tears wept in the false solitude of darkness,

refused to wince or protest under the desperate clutch of your hand

terrified of pity, terrified of being useless;

until you finally captured the light,

handcuffed it firmly in your narrowed eyes,

focused blankly on my face,

and continued to search

for the lovely Florence Nightingale you knew I had to be.

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