ISSUE #9: FISD Candidate Interviews & Capitol Mayhem

Meet the Candidates

The YRs reached out to the five candidates running for FISD school board in the upcoming local May 6th election. Here they weigh in on various questions. *Responses are recorded in order of last name, alphabetically.

Can you give a brief background about yourself and where voters may have seen you around the community?

Keri Hensley: Jason and I moved our family to Fredericksburg in Fall 2018. I grew up in Miles, Texas, attended Texas A&M University and graduated in 2006 with an BS in Agricultural Economics. I worked in mortgage lending and then in real estate development until 2010 when I was hired as the Calf Scramble Coordinator for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. In 2014, I was promoted to Managing Director of Auctions. During the next 5 years I worked with over 600 volunteers and oversaw over $40M in charitable contributions to the youth of Texas. I am a small business owner where I serve as CFO. I am involved with Bethany Preschool, the Fredericksburg Junior Golf Foundation and Hill Country Church. Voters may have seen me chasing our three kids playing baseball, soccer, t-ball, basketball, golf or attending 4-H meetings and events.

Brian Lehne: I have served on the FISD Board of Trustees for the past 5 1/2 years. My family has resided in Fredericksburg for 23 years, and we’ve raised our children in FISD schools. Our oldest son is a veterinarian, our daughter earned her RN/BSN in Nursing, and our youngest son will graduate high school in May and will further his education at Redlands College in Oklahoma, joining their livestock judging team, and then on the Texas Tech University. My wife and I own Lehne Construction, Inc., and we have been in business for over 25 years. I am a board member of the FISD Education Foundation, the Fredericksburg Education Alliance, the Hill District Grandstand Show, the Lone Star Cattlemen Foundation, and Rodeo Austin.

Dennis McCanless: I was born in St. Petersburg, Florida and came to Texas in 1985 to attend Texas A&M University where I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering. After graduation, I spent the next 33 years (and counting) in the oil and gas industry working all over the great state of Texas initially as a systems engineer in the field, to a Partner in one of the energy industry’s leading private equity firms, to eventually the CEO of several successful energy related organizations. Along the way I also attended night school and earned my Master of Business Administration degree with honors from the University of Houston in 2000. I am devoted to my faith as a Christian, my amazing wife, and our five children who range in age from 16 to 27 years old. My wife and I live on acreage outside of town and are active members of the Hill Country Church, the Gillespie County Republican Club, and the Fredericksburg Tea Party. Most recently I was on the Gillespie County GOP Resolutions Committee in 2022 and was elected to be a Gillespie County delegate to the State GOP Convention held in Houston this past summer. My wife and I also attend FISD school board meetings on a regular basis and are attendees at Fredericksburg City Council meetings when time permits.

Taylor Ward: I grew up in Fredericksburg and graduated from FHS in 2005. My wife and I moved back from West Texas in 2016 and I have been an active advocate for our local youth since that time. I’ve served on several local boards including Boys and Girls Club, Middle School Bond Committee, 100 Men, Little Hearts Foundation, as well as the FISD Education Foundation. I’m also a member of Hill Country Church, stay active with my children’s youth sports, and will be a 2023 graduate from the phenomenal Leadership Gillespie County program through the Chamber of Commerce.

Jake Whittington: I am a self-employed CPA, so I have worked for a lot of different people in Fredericksburg over the last 20 years. I have also been in the Fredericksburg Morning Rotary for almost 19 years. This has given me many opportunities for community involvement. I have helped organize the Oktoberfest Kraut Run for many years and have met a lot of new people through that effort. Having a high schooler, a middle schooler, and my 3 year old daughter in mom’s-day-out, I am always meeting new people through my kids’ school activities. I have coached T-ball and Little League a number of times. I have also helped with my son’s basketball teams a few seasons. I was a Young Life volunteer and met many families and community members through that organization. I have also been involved in volunteering at church throughout the years. If you are interested, you can get more of my background information at:

Why are you running for FISD school board?

Keri Hensley: I am a mom of three children; two attend FES and our youngest will start Kindergarten in the fall. I care about our students and love our community. I believe in this community and believe we can come together to do better in our school district. We have real challenges, but I am hopeful that if we acknowledge and tackle them head on we can move the district forward.

Brian Lehne: Throughout my tenure as a school board member, our team of 8 has lowered tax rates by 18 cents since 2018, given staff raises, and, through community involvement and a team effort, passed a bond for a new middle school and other campus improvements that were greatly needed. As mentioned above, I am also a part of the FISD Education Foundation and assist with the Fredericksburg Education Alliance. This alliance is working diligently in Austin to get relief on the tax money that is taken from FISD for Robin Hood, and I am compelled to be the voice to help make change to current legislation that is vital to our programs and our community. Working with the current FISD School Board, we have made great strides. I want to continue to serve so I can focus on seeing through these accomplishments and continue to ensure that we, as a board, are remaining focused on doing what’s right and beneficial for ALL the children in our schools and ALL the people in our community.

Dennis McCanless: I am running because I believe that we can do a better job of protecting and educating our kids, as well as providing much needed transparency to parents and taxpayers. I am running because I care deeply about the welfare of children and in providing them with the best possible tools to succeed in life. That starts with the highest quality education that we can provide by teaching them the intellectual skill sets that they will need to be independent, productive citizens regardless of the path in life that they choose after high school. I am running because I believe that our schools and therefore, our kids, are at a crossroads in this country and the government-run public schools are at the epicenter of a cultural shift away from the traditional academic education, the importance of family, and parental rights–and commonsense leadership is needed to help get things back on course. I am also running because I am at a place in life where I feel that I can use my experience and skills to serve the community that I love for the purpose of helping kids grow up to lead productive and successful lives. In my heart, I believe nothing we can do as adults is more important than that.

Taylor Ward: Above all, our local children are the greatest resource we have for a brighter future. The decisions we make today can have a ripple effect on those young lives for decades to come. As a community leader, I believe that I can make the best decisions now to help these children prepare for the future. As a young leader in the community, I can offer a fresh perspective and ideas to help advance our local education system forward.

Jake Whittington: I want to help make our schools the best they can possibly be, not just for my children, but for all children. I want FISD students to have every opportunity to be prepared for life after FISD in the best way possible. I want to serve our students, teachers, parents, staff, and administrators in any capacity that I can with my gifts and abilities. I will strive to help make our schools the best in the Hill Country.

What would be your priorities for your term if elected in May? What challenges do you foresee in serving on the school board?

Keri Hensley: Recruiting passionate teachers and retaining our current hard-working teachers and staff. My number one priority is improving the education of and outcomes for our students and I believe this is best done by having a passionate, engaged staff.

Brian Lehne: As a board, we have work to do to continue to improve school finance, and housing costs are out of reach for our teachers and staff. Unfortunately, the raises I mentioned earlier means we’re headed in the right direction, but it’s not enough due to 35-39% of our money going back to Austin. If we expect to properly prepare our children for the future and continue a strong community, we MUST take care of our teachers and staff. Also, we must remain nonpartisan when it comes to our schools. Politics have no place on our school board or in our schools. Again, as parents and the school board work together, we must make decision that focus on preparing and motivating our youth, as a whole, to take that next step, and we must give them the tools and support to do so.

Dennis McCanless: My top priorities would be: 1) Protect the kids from physical, mental, or emotional harm and ensure that they have an educational environment that promotes the traditional academic curriculum free from political activism and indoctrination policies. 2) Provide parents with the respect that they deserve and full transparency in the progress of their child’s education, what they are learning, and what resources and materials are being placed in front of them. 3) Make it top priority to provide accountability and transparency to the taxpayers of this district and look for ways to allocate, even reallocate if needed, budget dollars to the things that truly drive a quality education such as increasing the salaries of our best teachers to make FISD a more attractive job market to hire and retain the highest quality educational personnel we can afford and still live within our financial means. As for school board challenges, I look at the fiscal challenges that we have with Robin Hood in a wealthy school district and the fact that we continue to struggle with paying our teachers a competitive salary that allows them to afford to live here in Fredericksburg and prevents us from attracting and retaining additional great teachers. We must also think about how we as a community can come together for the greater good of the education of our children and provide them with the skills and resources they will need to be successful in whatever they decide to do beyond high school. That is the primary goal of the K-12 education system, and my desire is to make sure that happens for all students.

Taylor Ward: The issues facing FISD are compounding and most of which are not easily solved. The three challenges I would like to focus on improving include school safety, structuring appropriate curriculum, parental engagement and communication, and the overall health of our students and faculty. Larger challenges that will also need to be overcome include school finance (recapture), teacher retention, average daily attendance, education savings accounts/vouchers, and striving to improve our district grade.

Jake Whittington: In my opinion, FISD’s biggest challenge is teacher and staff retention. I think there is a lot of appeal for teachers and school workers to want to be in Fredericksburg, but the cost of living here is a challenge that is hard for many to overcome. Because of the financial limitations put on FISD by Robin Hood, it is critical that FISD offers the best intangibles to our teachers and staff. They need to feel supported, respected, safe, secure, and recognized when they excel. While making the working atmosphere great is of first importance, it is also very important that we are always striving to give pay increases and incentives when funds are available. Helping our great teachers and staff keep up with the cost of living must be a priority. A financial review was completed at the end of last school year that resulted in a substantial, across-the-board raise in excess of 7% for every teacher. This is great, but we definitely shouldn’t stop there. Following that success, I’d like to see such a review become an annual process. Filling jobs has been a challenge for a while, but it has been especially challenging the past couple of years. From bus drivers, to coaches, to janitors, to substitute teachers, many of our teachers and staff have been filling multiple roles in order to keep the wheels of our schools turning. It would be my hope that we can begin to get back to a place where we can hire and retain enough qualified people to fill the various roles so that there is not such a heavy burden on the current employees and administration.

What do you consider to be your qualifications for this position?

Keri Hensley: I consider myself a good listener, a willing collaborator and someone who fulfills their commitments. I have a passion for raising our youth to be thriving and productive members of society who are independent thinkers and capable of tackling challenges in their future. I love talking with other parents and learning about practical ways we as community members can strengthen our kids.

Brian Lehne: I have served on the FISD School Board for the past 5 1/2 years.

Dennis McCanless: My lifelong concern for the well-being and success of kids and my extensive experience in leadership and business provides me with the insight, skill set and a fresh, outside-of-box viewpoint to be an active participant in solving problems within FISD to help make it the best it can be. As a leader, I am more than capable of making tough decisions when needed, being an advocate for students, parents, and teachers, providing fiscal responsibility towards spending taxpayer dollars, and playing a positive role as a school board trustee towards improving the educational service which we provide Gillespie County.

Taylor Ward: I received my degree from Texas Tech University with a focus on Agriculture and Applied Economics. I’ve been in finance for 7 years and understand weighing the pros and cons in every decision. Serving on the Middle School bond committee gave me a deeper understanding of the school finance issues we face here locally regarding recapture. Lastly, I’m a proud parent who wants the best public education possible for my children and every child within our district.

Jake Whittington: As a CPA, I think my skill set would be a positive addition to the school board. I am willing to turn over a lot of rocks in search of the best answer. I am trained and qualified to research and figure things out. I have had to make well-reasoned decisions for over 24 years. Over the past two years, I have attended most school board meetings and had numerous meetings and conversations with current school board members, FISD administration, teachers, and other school staff. In doing so, I have had the opportunity to have discussions about and understand many of the challenges facing our schools. Lastly, I have the desire to take on this role. While I know that desire alone doesn’t qualify me, I do think that my desire to serve others and improve our district combined with my other qualifications and skillsets will make me highly motivated to work very hard in serving FISD and our community.

What is your stance on:

a. CRT?

Keri Hensley: I think that CRT is a nuanced issue and to try answer the entirety of the issue in a snippet is intellectually dishonest. Do I feel the tragedies and transgressions of our past regarding racism should be taught? In short, yes. Do I think our forefathers and the achievements of our nation to date should be denigrated in pursuit of some of sort retroactive justice? No. I believe justice for all is an ideal our nation is working toward. We are a great nation and our continued progress and way forward is where I think we should shine a light. At a district level, it’s quite simple, a CRT centric curriculum is not legal in the state of Texas and FISD should adhere to this.

Brian Lehne: Critical race theory is an ideology that teaches individuals should be promoted because of the color of the skin and assumes that any racial disparities are evidence of systemic racism. In 2021, Texas legislatures attempted to address CRT by passing a law restricting how teachers could talk about topics such as racism. My stance is that we must follow the law and promote characteristics such as a strong work ethic, collaboration, and creative thinking in our classrooms, so students can learn to rely on being self-sufficient rather than banking on a concept that creates two groups: oppressors and victims. If there is instruction in the classroom that may cross the line, I would expect that administration is made aware so they can address the concern.

Dennis McCanless: I believe the education system needs to protect our kids from divisive political ideologies like CRT and return to its primary role of providing children with a well-rounded traditional academic learning environment that allows them to develop the fundamental educational skill sets needed to be able to think intelligently, critically, and independently about issues and understand the values and purpose of being a morally decent person regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Taylor Ward: The oxford dictionary defines critical race theory as “being a set of ideas holding that racial bias is inherent in parts of western society, especially in its legal and social institutions, on the basis of their having been primarily designed and implemented by white people.” The teachings of CRT are typically used in higher education courses specifically in law. There is no denying that racism exists in America and has been in existence long before the founding of our country, but the teaching of systemic racism in K-12 would only serve to divide our student base by teaching them that skin color has placed one or the other at an inherent disadvantage. I think it’s important that students learn at an early age that they should not be judged on ethnicity but rather instill a sense of work ethic that will eventually lead to development based on the merits they have achieved.

Jake Whittington: To say that racism is inherent in legal and other institutions in the U.S. is not something I agree with or agree with teaching our children. The theory, in my opinion, only furthers racism. I think it is far better to teach our children the good and bad of history, but ultimately, that we should treat others with respect and fairness no matter the color of their skin.

b. Selecting curricula?

Keri Hensley: FISD is required to teach TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) as directed by the Texas Education Code. It is my understanding that FISD teachers work with the Teaching and Learning Department to select textbooks and new curricula. Once the new curriculum is selected, it is presented to the board with reasoning behind the selection as well as the overview of costs. I am comfortable with this process.

Brian Lehne: Below is a portion of Legal Policy EHAA: As a condition of accreditation, a district shall provide instruction in the essential knowledge and skills at appropriate grade levels in the foundation and enrichment curriculum. Education Code 28.002(c); 19TAC 74.1(b). A district shall ensure that all children in the district participate actively in a balanced curriculum designed to meet individual needs. Education Code 29.002(g). A primary purpose of the public-school curriculum is to prepare thoughtful, informed citizens who understand the importance of patriotism and can function productively in a free enterprise society with appreciation for the fundamental democratic principles of our state and national heritage. A district’s local instructional plan may draw on state curriculum frameworks and program standards as appropriate. A district is encouraged to exceed minimum requirements of law and State Board rule. Before the adoption of a major curriculum initiative, including the use of a curriculum management system, a district must use a process that: 1) includes teacher input; 2) provides district employees with the opportunity to express opinions regarding the initiative; and 3) includes a meeting of the board at which information regarding the initiative is presented, including the cost of the initiative and any alternatives that were considered; and members of the public and district employees are given the opportunity to comment regarding the initiative. FISD provides foundation curriculum for PreK-12 in English Language Arts and Reading, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. We also off enrichment curriculum in many areas including physical health, languages other than English, fine arts, career and technical education, and technology applications. This cycle rotates subjects for adoption throughout the years. Next year we will go through the adoption processes/steps listed above for K-12 Science, K-8 Technology Applications, and possible some career and technical courses (TEA has this listed as TBD).

Dennis McCanless: Outside of state directed TEKS curriculum, teachers should have the flexibility to set student curriculum based on their subject of study and the academic level of students that they are teaching. However, that curriculum needs to be centered on the traditional academic education and not promote political activism or ideological indoctrination. As school board members, we have the responsibility of setting the academic goals of the district and holding school officials accountable to those goals.

Taylor Ward: In many ways, the selection of curriculum must meet State Board guidelines and adhere to State Law. That being said, I believe it is important that we function accordingly within that framework to select the appropriate material based on the viewpoints of our administration, teachers, and parents.

Jake Whittington: It is my understanding that FISD’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning ensures that all curricula meet the TEKS standards. FISD administration has committees in place to make certain that curricula is properly reviewed and vetted, subject appropriate, age appropriate, meets the standards of the state, and lines up with the values of our community. These tasks are done by qualified people that have been hired to manage this process and who have the expertise to manage this process. If questions arise regarding the curriculum, the board of trustees can certainly inquire about these concerns. Ultimately, there is a level of trust given to administration, but the board will always be there to provide checks and balances where necessary.

c. Removing library books from circulation?

Keri Hensley: I would like to remove pervasively vulgar content (pornographic material, rape, and incest) from primary, elementary, and junior high campuses. I would like to implement parental consent for books identified to have mature themes or passages at the high school level. Our children mature at different rates and I believe a parent or guardian is best equipped to determine when a young person is ready to and capable of grappling with all that exists in the world.

Brain Lehne: Past and current policy allows for a review to occur when a book is challenged. Past policy allowed for a committee to be created at every school, but we approved a policy that allows for the creation of one elementary committee and one secondary committee to ensure a united decision is made at our campuses. We depend on the thorough review of the committee members. A lack of clear guidance by the state has impacted school districts throughout the state. Proposed legislation is attempting to address the issue.

Dennis McCanless: Parents of students in FISD need to be respected as the primary voice in their child’s upbringing and kids need to be protected from materials which promote ideologies and sexual indoctrination that go against family and society’s values and moral ethos. This includes sexually explicit library books and other school materials placed in front of students. The education system exists to educate not to indoctrinate, and parents, not librarians or educators, have the sole right to determine what is acceptable for their children and their voices need to be heard.

Taylor Ward: Historically, the removal or banning of books from circulation is seen as a way to promote specific ideologies. The book review system that was put in place by the current school board can be improved upon but ultimately is a sound practice to limit access to the immoral and unethical material from minors without infringing upon their first amendment rights to freedom of press. This could potentially be a moot point as the State Legislature currently has support for H.B. 900 which would give the State control as to what is available in our public school libraries.

Jake Whittington: It is my position that vulgar, profane, and sexually explicit books have no place in our taxpayer funded schools.

d. Prayer in school?

Keri Hensley: Yes.

Brain Lehne: By law, a teacher or other school official is not allowed to suggest or endorse prayer, as this violates the First Amendment, but I believe in providing every opportunity for prayer within our school district. If a teacher or school official chooses to suggest or endorse prayer, as a Christian, I will support them and assist with any consequences. As a Board, we value the power of prayer and begin our meetings with prayer.

Dennis McCanless: As a Christian devoted to my faith, I am fully aware of and grateful for this country’s founding principles that are tied to Judeo-Christian values and purpose. I believe that prayer is an individual freedom protected under the US Constitution and I would respect the right of anyone who chooses to exercise that right.

Taylor Ward: As schools are funded using taxpayer money and governed by the State of Texas, there is by law, a separation of church and state. I also am a Christian and a member of Hill Country Church. If a student, teacher, or faculty member wants to pray on school grounds, I would openly support those individuals.

Jake Whittington: I support prayer in school.

e. Communication with parents when a student requests a different-gender pronoun?

Keri Hensley: Absolutely. Parents should be made aware of what is happening with their student at school.

Brain Lehne: Parents have a right to know every aspect of their child’s education while in our public schools, including any request to have a different gender pronoun to be used.

Dennis McCanless: Parents must be respected as the primary caretaker of their children and need to be provided with full transparency from the school district regarding all matters that involve their child. This includes their educational progress and well as their mental and emotional status if such information becomes available to school personnel.

Taylor Ward: If a student expresses interest in choosing their own pronouns, it would be very important to schedule a meeting with the parent alongside a counselor and discover why that student has elected to be addressed in that manner. The parent has the ultimate right to know what is going on their children’s lives in every manner when it comes to their actions and education.

Jake Whittington: Parents should be notified immediately if their child were to make this request.

f. Genderless bathrooms and locker rooms?

Keri Hensley: I am firmly against genderless bathrooms and locker rooms at FISD.

Brain Lehne: We do not support the promotion of genderless bathrooms and locker rooms. Our current arrangement has restrooms for males and females and I will continue to support such a system while I am on the Board.

Dennis McCanless: The paramount job responsibility and moral obligation of school personnel is to protect all children from physical, mental, and emotional harm in the education system. Exposing biological males or females to the opposite sex in bathrooms and / or locker rooms goes against this obligation and responsibility and is unacceptable.

Taylor Ward: I will not support anything other than Male and Female bathrooms and locker rooms. The only other type of bathroom available should be a family bathroom with a changing table and handles for those that may have a disability.

Jake Whittington: This would not have my support.

Why do you think you can serve our community better than the other candidates running?

Keri Hensley: Two of the three women serving on the board are rolling off. I believe I can represent the perspective of a young mother in our community as well as bring my business acumen to tackle difficult decisions and creatively problem solve.

Brain Lehne: The fact that I am an incumbent gives me insight that the others may or may not have. However, any candidate who has an open heart and open mind, with no agenda, who simply wants what’s best for our youth and our community, would be suited for this position. When I was running for this position a few years ago, I promised I would listen, and if someone has come to me, I’m certain they would say I have kept that promise. Listening to teachers, staff, parents, and students is imperative to making, implementing, and standing behind informed decisions. We must develop a team that brings solutions to the table, because I am a firm believer that, if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. I plan to continue to fight in Austin for our rights as taxpayers and bring our tax dollars home so that we can do what is in the best interest of all children in the district and benefit teachers, staff, and administrators.

Dennis McCanless: I am 100% about protecting our kids and as the parent of five children, I know how important that is. My primary goals, if elected, are to put the protection of kids, the respect of parents, and making the most of our taxpayer dollars for the maximum educational benefit of the students and teachers back into the mainstream conversations of education here in Gillespie County. I believe that my conservative, commonsense values, broad analytical skills, and business experience in successfully leading organizations allows me to help make those goals a reality and sets me apart from the other candidates. I have a history of working successfully with people from all types of backgrounds and values towards a common solution and that is what is needed to make FISD one of the best and educationally rewarding districts in Texas.

Taylor Ward: Every candidate running is more than qualified to represent FISD in a positive manner. I’m proud of the five individuals that stepped up to lead the 3,300 +/- students and faculty members for the next three years. With the current environment, we all know what we are up against if elected and how important it is to have a strong, cohesive, and supportive Board of Trustees. I am not better than any candidate running. I was called to serve and answered the call.

Jake Whittington: I don’t feel it is my place to say that I am or am not more qualified than any of the other candidates. I do feel that I can provide pertinent information about myself in order for voters to make the most well-informed decision that they can make. I think I am qualified for several reasons. Again, I have attended most school board meetings and had numerous meetings and conversations with current school board members, FISD administration, teachers, and other school staff over the past few years. In doing so, I have had the opportunity to have discussions about and understand many of the challenges facing our schools. Additionally, my 25-year career as a CPA and accountant would be very favorable in helping me to adapt quickly to dealing well with school finances, education law, and the unique, complex local issues going on currently and others that will most certainly arise.

Any additional comments or issues not yet addressed?

Keri Hensley: Much of the rhetoric being thrown around at myself, the other candidates, and the current board of FISD has to do with politically charged issues. While these issues are important and I believe our schools should reflect our community values, I am concerned these issues are drawing our attention away from the north star of education. I believe improving the quality of the education being received in Fredericksburg schools is priority one. Should we have success with this, we will see our town flourish from within led by a next generation of determined, smart, self-sufficient and independent minded citizens.

Brain Lehne: May 6, 2023 is an important day. Please get out and vote. I am committed to continuing my efforts as an FISD School Board Member.

Dennis McCanless: As a businessman I am pro school choice because I believe that free market competition works to improve the products and services that are being provided. In education, our sole function is to provide a service that helps to develop our youth into people of purpose and intellect, so they have opportunities in life to succeed. School choice also respects the parent’s right to choose what educational path is best for their child which is incredibly empowering. My job as a FISD School Board Trustee, if elected, is to embrace the challenges that school choice will bring into the public school system and do everything in my authority to make FISD schools competitive with the private and home-schooling alternatives.

Taylor Ward: Get out and vote. Let the candidates know who you entrust the future of our school system to by getting as many people to the polls as possible.

Jake Whittington: Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions.

Mayhem at the Texas Capitol – Firsthand

by Heath Bell

On Monday, I was asked to testify on behalf on the Texas Young Republican Federation in support of HB 1686, a bill that seeks to end gender modification practices on children. To me, it’s pretty simple: a child does not have the capacity to consent to permanent, experimental, and often extremely damaging surgical procedures. However, perhaps I should have presumed that the issue was not clear cut to many…

I arrived to the Capitol at about 6:30 AM, at which time a sizable crowd, including journalists, was already present. The common use of the term “trans healthcare” told me what I needed to know about their views.

Along with the rest of the crowd, I signed up as early as possible to testify. Eventually, the numbers began to make themselves clear: those for the bill were outnumbered in Austin, and by a lot. By the end of the day, 92 had signed up to speak for the bill, and 2,722 against; almost 30 to 1.

Despite the odds and protesting, numerous speakers bravely testified for the bill, ranging from medical experts to detransitioners themselves. During the testimony, detailed (and in some cases very personal) information was presented to the Committee, including 3 notable takeaways:

  1. Medical professionals may be putting their careers on the line by speaking out against trans ideology, including childhood surgeries
  2. Much of the current public facing “trans community” is carefully manufactured, though will nonetheless systematically bring in vulnerable young people online and teach them exactly what to say in order to get hormones or be allowed to socially transition. Despite the previous point, they are also highly liable to spin into insanity easily, i.e. discourse about “trans genocide”.
  3. Detransitioners are suffering more than anyone is currently talking about or admitting. There is no aspect of their lives that is not affected in some way. Worse yet, there doesn’t seem to be a single case in which a doctor will help their patient detransition if desired, rather, they will tell them to find someone else. There is currently no doctor that specializes in detransitioning.

Despite these things, nobody testifying against the bill seemed to even care at all, and the leftist members of the Public Health Committee illustrated this perfectly. Their response to point 1 was, “Well I think you’re homophobic”, their response to point 2 was, “This isn’t happening, but there is a ‘trans genocide’, and their response to point 3 was, “This isn’t happening”.

Obviously, I came away realizing that those in favor of transgenderism quite simply do not care. They don’t care about whether they actually are grooming children, or who gets permanently injured, or how increasingly radical their movement gets. Speaking of which, an important detail of this day’s discourse is that the Nashville shooting occurred that day, and people began to hear about it and bring it up.

This leads me to the end of the night: midnight, at which point Chairwoman Stephanie Klick ended testimony. Immediately afterwards, pro-trans activists began to fill the halls of the Capitol outside the Committee room.

They then engaged in a “die-in”, laying on the floor and pretending to be victims of some crime. This trapped certain Committee members inside the room, later being escorted away by Capitol security.

However, my main realization was this: this die-in was a kind of mockery of the victims of the Nashville shooting. The perpetrator committed the act for explicitly political reasons, subscribing to the idea of a “trans genocide”. Instead of disavowing this criminal, the “trans community” has not for a moment countered any notion of the perpetrator’s innocence. Not only has the perpetrator been publicly counted among the victims, this community has insisted that she, and they, are the true victims. Thus, they lie screaming upon the Capitol floor.

The federal government’s reaction has been even more disturbing. A few days after this shooting, the administration declared a “trans day of visibility”, openly avowing the idea that the shooting’s perpetrator was a victim. This has, of course, only emboldened the “trans community”, but one thing is certain: SB14 and HB1686 will pass out of their committees, be signed into law, and child gender modification will be banned. The moral of the story is this: the sharpest weapon against indescribable evil is perseverance.

Who’s In Town? – Gillespie Co. EEA

by Amy Heimann

Many years ago, in little communities in counties all over Texas and beyond, ladies got together for regular meetings as a chance to keep up with the latest homemaking trends and skills, and as a chance to leave their rural houses to socialize. These independent organizations soon become known as the Education Extension Association. Not many EEA chapters still exist in the state today, presumably because women have joined the workforce in great number, but Gillespie County still hosts a group going strong.

The EEA, while remaining focused on fun and education, is no longer the home economics club it used to be. Open to men and women of all interests and occupations, the EEA schedules monthly programs in a variety of topics: growing plants, making charcuterie boards, the automobile industry as seen by Fredericksburg local Milton Crenwelge, and more. Ideas for the programs come from the members themselves and not much is off-limits. Members contribute to the meetings additionally by bringing potluck refreshments to share. Also special about this group is their priority of aiding high school seniors with college scholarships.

Dues for the county EEA is $15 a year and meetings are typically held the second Friday of each month in the morning at the Agrilife Extension Office. A notice will run in the Fredericksburg Standard announcing upcoming meetings. Anyone interested in joining can contact the extension office at 997-3452. Someone will also be happy to talk to you at the annual BBQ lunch scholarship fundraiser on Thursday, April 27th. See you there!

Book Review

A Song to Die For by Mike Blakely.

One-hit wonder Creed Mason and retired legend Luster Burnett assemble a band for a comeback tour that runs into trouble almost immediately. Meanwhile, mobster Franco Martini begins a chase from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Austin, Texas, in an effort to eliminate wayward relative Rosa and a leak that jeopardizes family operations. Texas Ranger Hooley Johnson is called in to investigate the carnage left in Franco’s wake. After the band gets a deal to play the Castilian in Vegas, the future looks rosy; but Franco has other ideas.

Sound interesting? If you enjoy reading about country music, mobsters, Texas Rangers, love, and/or mystery, you may want to check out this winning crime novel set in central Texas in 1975. A Song to Die For is written by Fredericksburg’s own Mike Blakely, a highly esteemed storyteller and songwriter who plays regularly at Western Edge on Main Street and for other local events. Master narrator that he is, Blakely creates this work of fiction with details in mind, drawing the reader into a well-formed plot full of characters easy to know and love- characters with very human flaws. This book is a page-turner that keeps its audience on the edge of their seat throughout the wild ride, right up to the end. That end, of course, will come as a surprise.

Check out Mike Blakely’s A Song to Die For at the Pioneer Memorial Library.

Die Deutsche Ecke

I’m in love- with German nouns. Compound nouns, specifically, and the longer the better. As mentioned last month, Germans don’t waste much time in naming objects with flowery, flamboyant, or frivolous strings of letters: they call a thing as it is. English does this occasionally, (‘fireplace’ for instance) where a name fairly encompasses its definition, but this is not practiced to a great extent. Usually, English nouns are not compound, so there is little possibility for figuring out new words outside of context.

One example I like to use in contrasting the two languages is the noun ‘ambulance.’ If you did not know what this object was, could you decipher anything about it based on its name? Assuming the root word is the same as that for ‘ambulatory,’ you can reason an ‘ambulance’ is either something that moves or something that can be moved. Past that is anyone’s guess. But the Germans are like, “Pshaw, we got this. Es is ein Krankenwagen. Done.” They have literally named the object a ‘sick-vehicle’, or a vehicle for the unwell.

Again, the English word ‘beef’ stems from the French ‘boef’, which stems from the Latin ‘bōs,’ meaning cow. How many people know enough of the romantic languages to figure this out? But the Germans are like, “Rindfleisch. Duh.” Literally: cattle-flesh.

What are ‘drums,’ you ask? Schlagzeug. Literally: hit-stuff. What is a ‘glove’? Handschuh. Yep: hand-shoe. ‘Refrigerator’? Kühlschrank. Cool-cupboard. ‘Slug’? Nacktschneke. Naked-snail. ‘Umbrella’? Regenschirm. Rain-shield. ‘Vaccum’? Staubsauger. Dust-sucker.

I often hear German nouns taking flak (Flak, by the way, is an abbreviation of the compound noun Fliegerabwehrkanone = air-attack-defense-canon) for how long they can get. Indeed, the longest German words are easily twice as long as the longest English words (think 60-80 letters compared to 25-35). But just like “antidisestablishmentarianism” or “pneunomounltramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis,” German nouns are fairly simple to break down into smaller chunks. For example:

Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän’ is Donau (Danube) + Dampf (Steam) + Schiff (Ship) + Fahrt (Ride) + Gesellschafts (Company’s) + Kapitän (Captain). The 1999 German Word of the Year ‘Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz’ is broken down as follows: Rindfleisch (Beef), Etikettierung (Labeling), Überwachungs (Monitoring), Aufgaben (Duties), Übertragungs (Transmission), Gesetz (Law). This is the law on delegation of duties for supervision of beef labeling. Arbeiterunfallversicherungsgesetz is a little easier: Arbeiter (Worker/Employee), Unfall (Accident), Versicherung (Insurance), and Gesetz (Law).

Okay, I see I have created a headache for you, so we’ll go back to reasonable words.

Compounding nouns have a beautiful upshot that I love most. It is the creation of terms that exactly describe emotions and emotion-related states. Oftentimes, English does not offer synonyms for the best of these. Fernweh (Distance + Woe) is the yearning you get when you wish you were somewhere else. Fremdscham (Foreign +Shame) is the vicarious embarrassment you have watching someone else be made a fool. Kummerspeck (Sorrow + Bacon) is excess weight gained from eating comfort foods. Torschlusspanik (Gate + Ending + Panic) is the fear of knowing that opportunities are quickly running out. Perhaps the best-known term in this category is Schadenfreude (Harm/Hurt + Joy). This is the feeling of glee you may get when another person experiences pain or harm. I had Schadenfreude the other day when I saw someone get ticketed for making a U-turn in the middle of Main Street. Not really even guilty about that, either.

The Good News

Homily on the passage (Matt. XXVI. 19) “Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me.” By St. John Chrysostom.

What then is the meaning of the passage which has been read “Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me?” What does the saying mean? For we ought to unlock the passage by first giving a clear interpretation of the words. What then does the saying mean? “Father if it be possible take away the cross.” How sayest thou? is he ignorant whether this be possible or impossible? Who would venture to say this? Yet the words are those of one who is ignorant: for the addition of the word “if,” is indicative of doubt: but as I said we must not attend to the words merely, but turn our attention to the sense, and learn the aim of the speaker, and the cause and the occasion, and by putting all these things together turn out the hidden meaning. The unspeakable Wisdom then, who knoweth the Father even as the Father knoweth the Son, how should he have been ignorant of this?  For this knowledge concerning His passion was not greater than the knowledge concerning His essential nature, which He alone accurately knew. “For as the Father knoweth me” He says “even so know I the Father.” And why do I speak of the only begotten Son of God? For even the prophets appear not to have been ignorant of this fact, but to have known it clearly, and to have declared beforehand with much assurance that so it must come to pass, and would certainly be.

Hear at least how variously all announce the cross. First of all the patriarch Jacob: for directing his discourse to Him he says “Out of a tender shoot didst thou spring up:” by the word shoot signifying the Virgin and the undefiled nature of Mary. Then indicating the cross he said “Thou didst lie down and slumber as a lion, and as a lion’s whelp; who shall raise him up?” Here he called death a slumbering and a sleep, and with death he combined the resurrection when he said “who shall raise him up?” No one indeed save he himself—wherefore also Christ said “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again,” and again “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” And what is meant by the words “thou didst lie down and slumber as a lion?” For as the lion is terrible not only when he is awake but even when he is sleeping, so Christ also not only before the cross but also on the cross itself and in the very moment of death was terrible, and wrought at that time great miracles, turning back the light of the sun, cleaving the rocks, shaking the earth, rending the veil, alarming the wife of Pilate, convicting Judas of sin, for then he said “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood;” and the wife of Pilate declared “Have nothing to do with that just man, for I have suffered many things in a dream because of Him.” The darkness took possession of the earth, and night appeared at midday, then death was brought to nought, and his tyranny was destroyed: many bodies at least of the saints which slept arose. These things the patriarch declaring beforehand, and demonstrating that, even when crucified, Christ would be terrible, said “thou didst lie down and slumber as a lion.” He did not say thou shalt slumber but thou didst slumber, because it would certainly come to pass. For it is the custom of the prophets in many places to predict things to come as if they were already past. For just as it is impossible that things which have happened should not have happened, so is it impossible that this should not happen, although it be future. On this account they predict things to come under the semblance of past time, indicating by this means the impossibility of their failure, the certainty of their coming to pass. So also spake David, signifying the cross; “They pierced my hands and my feet.” He did not say they “shall pierce” but “they pierced” “they counted all my bones.” And not only does he say this, but he also describes the things which were done by the soldiers. “They parted my garments among themselves, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.” And not only this, but he also relates they gave Him gall to eat, and vinegar to drink. For he says “they gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” And again another one says that they smote him with a spear, for “they shall look on Him whom they pierced.” Esaias again in another fashion predicting the cross said “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, so openeth he not his mouth.” “In his humiliation his judgment was taken away.”

Now observe I pray how each one of these writers speaks as if concerning things already past, signifying by the use of this tense the absolute inevitable certainty of the event. So also David, describing this tribunal, said, “Why did the heathen rage and the people imagine vain things? The Kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ.” And not only does he mention the trial, and the cross, and the incidents on the cross, but also him who betrayed him, declaring that he was his familiar companion and guest. “For,” he saith, “he that eateth bread with me did magnify his heel against me.” Thus also does he foretell the voice which Christ was to utter on the cross saying “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?” and the burial also does he describe: “They laid me in the lowest pit, in dark places, and in the shadow of death.” And the resurrection: “thou shalt not leave my soul in hell, neither shalt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption;” and the ascension: “God has gone up with a merry noise, the Lord with the sound of the trump.” And the session on the right hand: “The Lord said to my Lord sit thou on my right hand until I make thy foes thy footstool.” But Esaias also declares the cause; saying, “for the transgressions of my people is He brought to death,” and because all have strayed like sheep, therefore is he sacrificed.” Then also he adds mention of the result, saying “by his stripes we have all been healed:” and “he hath borne the sins of many.” The prophets then knew the cross, and the cause of the cross and that which was affected by it, and the burial and the resurrection, and the ascension, and the betrayal, and the trial, and described them all with accuracy: and is He who sent them and commanded them to speak these things ignorant of them Himself? What reasonable man would say that? Seest thou that we must not attend merely to the words? For this is not the only perplexing passage, but what follows is more perplexing. For what does He say? “Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me.” Here he will be found to speak not only as if ignorant, but as if deprecating the cross: For this is what He says. “If it be permissible let me not be subjected to crucifixion and death.” And yet when Peter, the leader of the apostles, said this to Him, “Be it far from Thee Lord, this shall not happen unto Thee,” He rebuked him so severely as to say; “get thee behind me Satan, thou art an offence unto me, for thou savourest not the things which be of God, but those which be of men:” although a short time before he had pronounced him blessed. But to escape crucifixion seemed to Him so monstrous a thing, that him who had received the revelation from the Father, him whom He had pronounced blessed, him who had received the keys of Heaven, He called Satan, and an offence, and accused him of not savouring the things which be of God because he said to Him, “Be it far from thee Lord, this shall never be unto Thee”—namely crucifixion. He then who thus vituperated the disciple, and poured such an invective upon him as actually to call him Satan (after having bestowed such great praise on him), because he said “avoid crucifixion,” how could He desire not to be crucified? and how after these things when drawing the picture of the good shepherd could He declare this to be the special proof of his virtue, that he should be sacrificed for the sake of the sheep, thus saying, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep?” Nor did He even stop there, but also added, “but he that is a hireling and not the shepherd seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth.” If then it is the sign of the good shepherd to sacrifice himself, and of the hireling to be unwilling to undergo this, how can He who calls Himself the good shepherd beseech that he may not be sacrificed? And how could He say “I lay down my life of myself”? For if thou layest down thy life of thyself, how canst thou beseech another that thou mayest not lay it down? And how is it that Paul marvels at Him on account of this declaration, saying “Who being in the form of God counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.” And He Himself again speaks in this wise, “For this cause doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again.” For if He does not desire to lay it down, but deprecates the act, and beseeches the Father, how is it that He is loved on this account? For love is of those who are like minded. And how does Paul say again “Love one another even as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us?” And Christ Himself when He was about to be crucified said “Father, the hour has come: glorify thy Son,” speaking of the cross as glory: and how then does He deprecate it here when He urges it there? For that the cross is glory listen to what the evangelist says “the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Now the hearing of this expression is “grace was not yet given because the enmity towards men was not yet destroyed by reason that the cross had not yet done its work.” For the cross destroyed the enmity of God towards man, brought about the reconciliation, made the earth Heaven, associated men with angels, pulled down the citadel of death, unstrung the force of the devil, extinguished the power of sin, delivered the world from error, brought back the truth, expelled the Demons, destroyed temples, overturned altars, suppressed the sacrificial offering, implanted virtue, founded the Churches. The cross is the will of the Father, the glory of the Son, the rejoicing of the Spirit, the boast of Paul, “for,” he says, “God forbid that I should boast save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The cross is that which is brighter than the sun, more brilliant than the sunbeam: for when the sun is darkened then the cross shines brightly: and the sun is darkened not because it is extinguished, but because it is overpowered by the brilliancy of the cross. The cross has broken our bond, it has made the prison of death ineffectual, it is the demonstration of the love of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that everyone who believes in Him should not perish.” And again Paul says “If being enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.” The cross is the impregnable wall, the invulnerable shield, the safeguard of the rich, the resource of the poor, the defense of those who are exposed to snares, the armor of those who are attacked, the means of suppressing passion, and of acquiring virtue, the wonderful and marvelous sign. “For this generation seeketh after a sign: and no sign shall be given it save the sign of Jonas;” and again Paul says, “for the Jews ask for a sign and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified.” The cross opened Paradise, it brought in the robber, it conducted into the kingdom of Heaven the race of man which was about to perish, and was not worthy even of earth. So great are the benefits which have sprung and do spring from the cross, and yet doth He not desire to be crucified I ask? Who would venture to say this? And if He did not desire it who compelled Him, who forced Him to it? and why did He send prophets beforehand announcing that He would be crucified, if He was not to be, and did not wish to undergo it? And for what reason does He call the cross a cup, if He did not desire to be crucified? For that is the word of one who signifies the desire which he has concerning the act. For as the cup is sweet to those who are thirsty so also was crucifixion to Him: wherefore also He said “With desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you,” and this He meant not absolutely, but relatively, because after that evening the cross was awaiting Him.

He then who calls the thing glory, and rebukes the disciple because he was trying to hinder Him, and proves that what constitutes the good shepherd is his sacrificing himself on behalf of the sheep, and declares that he earnestly longs for this thing, and willingly goes to meet it, how is it that He beseeches it may not come to pass? And if He did not wish it what difficulty was there in hindering those who came for that purpose? But in fact you behold Him hastening towards the deed. At least when they came upon Him He said “Whom seek ye?” and they replied “Jesus.” Then He saith to them “Lo! I am He: and they went backward and fell to the ground.” Thus having first crippled them and proved that He was able to escape their hands, He then surrendered Himself, that thou might learn that not by compulsion or force, or the tyrannical power of those who attacked Him, did He unwillingly submit to this, but willingly with purpose and desire, preparing for it a long time before. Therefore also were prophets sent beforehand, and patriarchs foretold the events, and by means of words and deeds the cross was prefigured. For the sacrifice of Isaac also signified the cross to us: wherefore also Christ said “Abraham your father rejoiced to see my glory and he saw it and was glad.” The patriarch then was glad beholding the image of the cross, and does He Himself deprecate it? Thus Moses also prevailed over Amalek when he displayed the figure of the cross: and one may observe countless things happening in the Old Testament descriptive by anticipation of the cross. For what reason then was this the case if He who was to be crucified did not wish it to come to pass? And the sentence which follows this is yet more perplexing. For having said “Let this cup pass from me He added “nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt.” For herein as far as the actual expression is concerned, we find two wills opposed to one another: if at least the Father desires Him to be crucified, but He Himself does not desire it. And yet we everywhere behold Him desiring and purposing the same things as the Father. For when He says “grant to them, as I and Thou are one that they also may be one in us,” it is equivalent to saying that the purpose of the Father and of the Son is one. And when He says “The words which I speak I speak not myself, but the Father which dwelleth in me, He doeth these works,” He indicates the same thing. And when He says “I have not come of myself” and “I can of my own self do nothing” he does not say this as signifying that He has been deprived of authority, either to speak or to act (away with the thought!), but as desiring to prove the concord of his purpose, both in words and deeds, and in every kind of transaction, to be one and the same with the Father, as I have already frequently demonstrated. For the expression “I speak not of myself” is not an abrogation of authority but a demonstration of agreement. How then does He say here “Nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt”? Perhaps I have excited a great conflict in your mind, but be on the alert: for although many words have been uttered, I know well that your zeal is still fresh: for the discourse is now hastening on to the solution. Why then has this form of speech been employed? Attend carefully, the doctrine of the incarnation was very hard to receive. For the exceeding measure of His lovingkindness and the magnitude of His condescension were full of awe, and needed much preparation to be accepted. For consider what a great thing it was to hear and to learn that God the ineffable, the incorruptible, the unintelligible, the invisible, the incomprehensible, in whose hand are the ends of the earth, who looketh upon the earth, and causeth it to tremble, who toucheth the mountains, and maketh them smoke, the weight of whose condescension not even the Cherubim were able to bear but veiled their faces by the shelter of their wings, that this God who surpasses all understanding, and baffles all calculation, having passed by angels, archangels, and all the spiritual powers above, deigned to become man, and to take flesh formed of earth and clay, and enter the womb of a virgin, and be borne there the space of nine months, and be nourished with milk, and suffer all things to which man is liable. Inasmuch then as that which was to happen was so strange as to be disbelieved by many even when it had taken place, He first of all sends prophets beforehand, announcing this very fact. For instance, the patriarch predicted it saying “Thou didst spring from a tender shoot my son: thou didst lie down and slumber as a lion;” and Esaias saying “Behold the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call His name Emmanuel;” and elsewhere again “We beheld Him as a young child, as a root in a dry ground;” and by the dry ground he means the virgin’s womb. And again “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,” and again “there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall spring out of his root.” And Baruch in the book of Jeremiah says “this is our God: no other shall be reckoned by the side of Him: He found out every path of knowledge and gave it to Jacob His servant, and Israel his beloved. After these things also He appeared upon the earth, and held converse with men.” And David signifying His incarnate presence said “He shall come down like the rain into a fleece of wool, and like the drop which distills upon the earth” because He noiselessly and gently entered into the Virgin’s womb.

But these proofs alone did not suffice, but even when He had come, lest what had taken place should be deemed an illusion, He warranted the fact not only by the sight but by duration of time and by passing through all the phases incident to man. For He did not enter once for all into a man matured and completely developed, but into a virgin’s womb, so as to undergo the process of gestation and birth and suckling and growth, and by the length of the time and the variety of the stages of growth to give assurance of what had come to pass. And not even here were the proofs concluded, but even when bearing about the body of flesh He suffered it to experience the infirmities of human nature and to be hungry, and thirsty, and to sleep and feel fatigue; finally also when He came to the cross He suffered it to undergo the pains of the flesh. For this reason also streams of sweat flowed down from it and an angel was discovered strengthening it, and He was sad and down-cast: for before He uttered these words He said “my soul is troubled, and exceeding sorrowful ever unto death.” If then after all these things have taken place the wicked mouth of the devil speaking through Marcion of Pontus, and Valentinus, and Manichæus of Persia and many more heretics, has attempted to overthrow the doctrine of the Incarnation and has vented a diabolical utterance declaring that He did not become flesh, nor was clothed with it, but that this was mere fancy, and illusion, a piece of acting and pretense, although the sufferings, the death, the burial, the thirst, cry aloud against this teaching; supposing that none of these things had happened would not the devil have sown these wicked doctrines of impiousness much more widely? For this reason, just as He hungered, as He slept, as He felt fatigue, as He ate and drank, so also did He deprecate death, thereby manifesting his humanity, and that infirmity of human nature which does not submit without pain to be torn from this present life. For had He not uttered any of these things, it might have been said that if He were a man He ought to have experienced human feelings. And what are these? in the case of one about to be crucified, fear and agony, and pain in being torn from present life: for a sense of the charm which surrounds present things is implanted in human nature: on this account wishing to prove the reality of the fleshly clothing, and to give assurance of the incarnation He manifests the actual feelings of man with full demonstration.

This is one consideration, but there is another no less important. And what is this? Christ having come to earth wished to instruct men in all virtue: now the instructor teaches not only by word, but also by deed: for this is the teacher’s best method of teaching. A pilot for instance when he makes the apprentice sit by his side shows him how he handles the rudder, but he also joins speech to action, and does not depend upon words alone or example alone: in like manner also an architect when he has placed by his side the man who is intended to learn from him how a wall is constructed, shows him the way by means of action as well as by means of oral teaching; so also with the weaver, and embroiderer, and gold refiner, and coppersmith;—and every kind of art has teachers who instruct both orally and practically. Inasmuch then as Christ Himself came to instruct us in all virtue, He both tells us what ought to be done, and does it. “For,” he says, “he who does and teaches the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Now observe; He commanded men to be lowly-minded, and meek, and He taught this by His words: but see how He also teaches it by His deeds. For having said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek,” He shows how these virtues ought to be practiced. How then did He teach them? He took a towel and girded Himself and washed the disciples’ feet. What can match this lowliness of mind? for He teaches this virtue no longer by His words only but also by His deeds. Again He teaches meekness and forbearance by His acts. How so? He was struck on the face by the servant of the high priest, and said “If I have spoken evil bear witness of the evil: but if well why smitest thou me?” He commanded men to pray for their enemies: this also again He teaches by means of His acts: for when He had ascended the cross He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” As therefore He commanded men to pray so does He Himself pray, instructing thee to do so by his own unflagging utterances of prayer. Again He commanded us to do good to those who hate us, and to deal fairly with those who treat us despitefully: and this He did by his own acts: for he cast devils out of the Jews, who said that He Himself was possessed by a devil, He bestowed benefits on His persecutors, He fed those who were forming designs against Him, He conducted into His kingdom those who were desiring to crucify Him. Again He said to His disciples “Get you no gold nor silver neither brass in your purses,” thus training them for poverty: and this also He taught by His example, thus saying, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” And He had neither table nor dwelling nor anything else of that kind: not because He was at a loss to obtain them, but because He was instructing men to go in that path. After the same manner then he taught them also to pray. They said to Him “Teach us to pray.” Therefore also He prays, in order that they may learn to pray. But it was necessary for them not merely to learn to pray but also how they ought to pray: for this reason He delivered to them a prayer in this form: “Our Father which art in Heaven hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come: Thy will be done, as in Heaven, so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread: and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors: and lead us not into temptation:” that is into danger, into snares. Since then He commanded them to pray “lead us not into temptation,” He instructs them in this very precept by putting it in practice Himself, saying “Father if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me,” thus teaching all the saints not to plunge into dangers, not to fling themselves into them but to wait for their approach, and to exhibit all possible courage, only not to rush forwards themselves, or to be the first to advance against terrors. Why so, pray? both to teach us lowliness of mind, and also to deliver us from the charge of vainglory. On this account it is said also in this passage that when He had spoken these words “He went away and prayed:” and after He had prayed He speaks thus to His disciples “Could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” Seest thou He not only prays but also admonishes? “For the Spirit indeed is willing,” He said, “but the flesh is weak.” Now this He said by way of emptying their soul of vanity, and delivering them from pride, teaching them self-restraint, training them to practice moderation. Therefore the prayer which He wished to teach them, He Himself also offered, speaking after the manner of men, not according to His Godhead (for the divine nature is impassable) but according to His manhood. And He prayed as instructing us to pray, and even to seek deliverance from distress; but, if this be not permitted, then to acquiesce in what seems good to God. Therefore He said “Nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt:” not because He had one will and the Father another; but in order that He might instruct men even if they were in distress and trembling, even if danger came upon them, and they were unwilling to be torn from present life, nevertheless to postpone their own will to the will of God: even as Paul also when he had been instructed practically exhibited both these principles; for he besought that temptations might be removed from him, thus saying “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice:” and yet since it did not please God to remove it, he says “Wherefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in insults, in persecutions.” But perhaps what I have said is not quite clear: therefore I will make it clearer. Paul incurred many dangers and prayed that he might not be exposed to them. Then he heard Christ saying “my grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” As soon then as he saw what the will of God was, he in future submitted his will to God’s will. By means of this prayer then Christ taught both these truths, that we should not plunge into dangers, but rather pray that we may not fall into them; but if they come upon us we should bear them bravely, and postpone our own will to the will of God. Knowing these things then let us pray that we may never enter into temptation: but if we do enter it let us beseech God to give us patience and courage, and let us honour His will in preference to every will of our own. For then we shall pass through this present life with safety, and shall obtain the blessings to come: which may we all receive by the favour and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom be to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, glory, might, honour, now and forever world without end. Amen.

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