Friday, February 22, 2019

Music at the Palace of Versailles

From San Francisco Classical Voice:
With the Opéra National de Paris celebrating its 350th anniversary with a sumptuous season ranging from Alessandro Scarlatti’s Il Primo Omicidio (1707) through 19th-century masterpieces such as Tristan und Isolde, Simon Boccanegra, and Les Troyens, through to Michael Jarrell’s new opera Bérénice, it’s important to remember that opera in Paris got its start outside the city center, at Louis XIV’s Château de Versailles. 
Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, wanted to have an opera house at Versailles and went as far as hiring designers and designating its location in the palace. For financial reasons, the house was not built during his lifetime, and the court instead staged opera (and ballet and theater) in various locations on the palace grounds, including a palace salon and the stables. For these performances, temporary theaters would be built, then destroyed. During Louis XIV’s reign, despite the lack of an opera house, works by French composers, including Lully and others, were staged at Versailles. 
Louis XV was less interested in the performing arts than his great-grandfather, but because of the traditions surrounding royal weddings, which included a ball, a banquet, and an opera, he decided, in 1768, to build an opera house. His first architect, Jacques-Ange Gabriel, had been working on plans for an opera house since his appointment in 1742, and voilà! By the 1770 wedding of the future Louis XVI to Marie-Antoinette, the Royal Opera House had been built. (Read more.)

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Making Money from Abortion

From The Federalist:
In any event, when Texas stripped Planned Parenthood of $3.1 million in Medicaid funding due to video evidence of executives openly discussing profiting from the dismemberment of human beings—”If this is in the ballpark, it’s fine. If it’s still low, then we can bump it up. I want a Lamborghini,” is just one example of a Planned Parenthood exec haggling over the price of body parts—a district court issued an injunction preventing the state from doing so. The case worked its way to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the injunction. 
What’s important for this discussion, though, is that court’s opinion also noted that that independent forensic firm had concluded that “the video was authentic and not deceptively edited.” Has anyone in the mainstream media, which worked assiduously to debunk the Center for Medical Progress videos, admitted that their initial position is now, at least, in doubt? If a forensic firm found that the videos had not deceptively edited, what basis does California have for shutting down a journalistic venture? If the video wasn’t deceptively edited, why aren’t major media institutions investigating whether Planned Parenthood profited from the sale of fetal tissue, a felony on each and every count? (Read more.)

Jon Voight on the Importance of Family

From The Christian Post:
Academy Award winner Jon Voight, actor in the upcoming film "Roe v. Wade," attended the 2019 Movieguide Awards and said that God is asking Christians to protect the values of family in these times. "Family is so important and family is being attacked by people who are really trying to tear down the fabric of our society, it's true,” Voight told The Christian Post on the red carpet of the award show on Feb 8. “I don't want to get into any kind of conspiracy stuff but it's really happening so we have to protect the values of our country and the values of family and guide the focused lives; we have to protect that aspect.”

The film “Roe v. Wade” is in post-production and scheduled for a fall release. The pro-life movie is timely as the debate over late-term abortion has reignited in recent weeks after New York's new law allowing abortion up to birth and the introduction of similar bills in Virginia, Vermont and New Mexico. Voight believes the message in the motion picture will now allow people to have an informed dialogue concerning the controversial abortion debate.

“Imagine, God's asking us to help Him out. Can you imagine? That's the greatest thing!” Voight said. “‘Who will go for me,' says God to Isaiah, and he says 'send me,'” the 80-year-old continued. “There's no question that that's really real. We're being asked to do something so what are we going to do? Are we going to sit back and let it roll right into a ditch or step up and save the ship at stake?”
Despite society being bombarded with counter biblical values, Voight insisted that there are still people God has standing in the gap. The veteran actor declared that those speaking truth will have the victory. (Read more.)

Here is a Canadian program dedicated to building healthy and holy families. From Me and My House:
Me & My House is a practical game plan for Catholic parents who are struggling with all the things that parents struggle with. We challenge you to do little things. To make little changes that will make a huge impact on your family. In this Catholic Parenting Program, you will discover the foundations that can strengthen your motherhood and fatherhood. You will learn the habits that can make parenting easier, and the habits that you absolutely want to avoid. In fact, we will get so practical that we'll discuss discipline and how to set boundaries, so that by the end of the program you will have a very clear sense of how you want to build your unique family culture with the children God has given you. We have also included an entire section on the Faith, so that you can begin guiding your son or daughter towards God’s plan for their lives in a way that is natural and effective. (Read more.) 

Wayward Daughters

In Brideshead Revisited, this patient movement of God’s grace in the hearts of the characters is described by Julia’s younger, devout sister Cordelia. Discussing her many lapsed family members, she tells Charles that Julia and the others will all eventually be drawn back to their faith. She reminds him of a passage from G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories that Lady Marchmain read aloud to the family: “I caught him” (the thief) “with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread.”[15] Julia and Kristin wander far from God and yet his grace is secretly present with them always. They may not be aware of this unseen and invisible grace, but it is nonetheless powerfully working in their hearts. 
Sigrid Undset uses another symbol of God’s unseen grace that has silently transformed the human heart. It is not until Kristin’s final hours (after contracting the Black Death—likely because of selflessly nursing people suffering from the plague and burying a woman who had been infected) that she fully comprehends how God in his mercy has been ever faithful to her, despite her unfaithfulness. Never abandoning her, he used every slight opening of her heart towards him as a means of filling her soul with his grace. On her deathbed when she removes her wedding ring to give it away, she realizes that the “M” for the Blessed Virgin Mary that was engraved on the inside of the ring has left a mark on her finger. She has always been Christ’s own and this truth is imprinted on her very flesh. Even while she made herself a stranger to God, he was intimately present, just hidden from her like this secret impression on her skin. (Read more.)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Les Grands Appartements at the Hôtel de Crillon

From The Robb Report:
After a four-year renovation, Hôtel de Crillon reopened in 2017, unveiling a magnificent transformation that has made it one of the most venerable addresses in Paris. And while there are several admirable accommodations, from Suite Marie-Antoinette swathed in blush hues to Suite Bernstein with its 1,205-square-foot terrace, it’s the two Karl Lagerfeld–designed Les Grands Appartements that are the property’s pièces de résistance. 
The legendary icon—who died unexpectedly on Tuesday at the age of 85—had an affinity for 18th-century antiques and even purchased a model of the Hôtel de Crillon at a Christie’s auction several decades ago. With his Appartements, he created one of the most lavish quarters in the French capital. While the two-ton bathtub carved from a single block of Carrera marble serves as the crown jewel, there are plenty of extravagant details found throughout the suites. Textured grey walls in the living room took nine layers of paint to create a ridged effect. The chandeliers all come from the Kaiser’s personal collection, one of which even features crystals that were hand-selected by the man himself. Cherub-adorned red marble fountains from the property’s original courtyard now serve as sinks in the powder rooms. The large-format photographs found throughout the chambers are a result of Lagerfeld’s time behind a lens. And with a touch of a button, a bookshelf in the curated library reveals the dreamiest of walk-in closets. 
Adjacent to Les Grands Appartements with its own foyer is a room dedicated to the designer’s beloved feline, Choupette. Decorated in black and white stripes with a carpet meant to evoke cat scratches, it might be the Crillon’s smallest space, but it’s certainly the most adorable. When all three suites are combined, the pied-à-terre spans over 3,600 square feet. Not only is it one of the largest hotel accommodations in the city, but it’s also the chicest—and perhaps the most stunning example of luxurious living left behind by one of our time’s most prolific designers. (Read more.)

Dedicated to Life

From Live Action:
Pro-life African-American leaders around the country have had enough of the war against preborn black children, and they are working hard to ensure that abortion becomes a thing of the past, not just for African-American women and children, but all women and children. While abortion numbers have been declining in the United States over the last two decades, African-American women have an abortion rate of 25.1 abortions per 1,000 women. Compare that to the rate for White women: 6.8 abortions per 1,000 women. The majority of Planned Parenthood’s surgical abortion facilities — 79 percent — are within walking distance of minority neighborhoods and have been caught accepting donations to specifically abort Black babies. (Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist.) Most shocking, in New York City, more Black preborn children are killed through abortion than are born. (Read more.)

From The Public Discourse:
Any infant who is born alive, at any stage of development, is a person entitled to the protections of the law and appropriate care as a new patient. There is no scientific or legal reason to distinguish between human beings born after an attempted abortion and human beings born after attempted live birth. A distressed newborn should get immediate emergency care and a professional evaluation to determine appropriate steps to promote his/her health and well-being. Obviously, a distressed newly born baby presents for emergency medical care at the moment of her or his birth, regardless of whether that birth results from an abortion attempt or attempted live delivery. EMTALA mandates hospitals to examine and treat any person who presents for emergency medical care. (Read more.)

Tax Breaks and Loan Forgiveness in Hungary

From The BBC:
Hungarian women with four children or more will be exempted for life from paying income tax, the prime minister has said, unveiling plans designed to boost the number of babies being born. It was a way of defending Hungary's future without depending on immigration, Viktor Orban said.  
The right-wing nationalist particularly opposes immigration by Muslims. Hungary's population is falling by 32,000 a year. Women there have fewer children than the EU average. As part of the measures, young couples will be offered interest-free loans of 10m forint (£27,400; $36,000), to be cancelled once they have three children. Mr Orban said that "for the West", the answer to falling birth rates in Europe was immigration: "For every missing child, there should be one coming in and then the numbers will be fine. 
"Hungarian people think differently," he said. "We do not need numbers. We need Hungarian children." (Read more.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Ælfric's Homily for Septuagesima

From A Clerk of Oxford:
Septuagesima is not widely observed today, and the opportunities to sing this ancient hymn are therefore few. Hymns about hymn-singing are always interesting to me; the idea of singing together is a powerful image of unity, and in this case the practice of singing - and ceasing to sing - in concert with the Israelites is, as Ælfric explains, an important symbol of how the medieval church saw its relationship with its Jewish heritage. The practice of 'locking' the alleluia is a liturgical re-imagining of one of the most poignant laments in human history, a despairing question which for thousands of years has given voice to many different political and personal situations of loss, exile, and dispossession: 'how can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?' For the medieval church, this question was interpreted as the cry of a universal experience of estrangement: all human beings are in exile and captivity on earth, longing for their home in heaven, and every year through Lent and Easter the church re-enacts its longed-for progression from exile to homecoming, from grief to joy.

Today is one of those occasions on which the modern church has chosen not to sing in harmony with its medieval forebears, but if you would like to make an exception, you can find the tune to 'Alleluia dulce carmen' here. (Read more.)
"Upon the waters of Babylon, there we sat and wept, as we remembered Zion." ~Psalm 136 (Vulgate)