Friday, August 31, 2007

A Something in a Summer's day

A something in a summer’s day,
As slow her flambeaux burn away,
Which solemnizes me.

A something in a summer’s noon,—
An azure depth, a wordless tune,
Transcending ecstasy.

And still within a summer’s night
A something so transporting bright,
I clap my hands to see;

Then veil my too inspecting face,
Lest such a subtle, shimmering grace
Flutter too far for me.

The wizard-fingers never rest,
The purple brook within the breast
Still chafes its narrow bed;

Still rears the East her amber flag,
Guides still the sun along the crag
His caravan of red,

Like flowers that heard the tale of dews,
But never deemed the dripping prize
Awaited their low brows;

Or bees, that thought the summer’s name
Some rumor of delirium
No summer could for them;

Or Arctic creature, dimly stirred
By tropic hint,—some travelled bird
Imported to the wood;

Or wind’s bright signal to the ear,
Making that homely and severe,
Contented, known, before

The heaven unexpected came,
To lives that thought their worshipping
A too presumptuous psalm.

By Emily Dickinson

(Photo courtesy of Ted Kaiser)


Ten years ago today....

Prince Harry remembers his mother. I feel so sorry for those two boys.

When the Princess of Wales died my husband and I were visiting family in Maryland. We stopped in to see some friends after Mass on August 31. We started talking about Diana and Marie-Antoinette, who in spite of some similarities were tragic in very different ways. My friend Virginia, who had some experience in editing, suddenly offered to help me to publish Trianon. Within three months it was published and selling. As the first run sold out, The Neumann Press offered to republish it, and the sequel as well. It was poor Diana's death which triggered those events for me. May she rest in peace. Share

Puccini's "La Rondine"

Giacomo Puccini's opera La Rondine is not one of his most popular ones, but I like it. I have for a long time. It was one of the operas I listened to while working for my Master's degree; it seemed to fit in with the bohemian lifestyle of graduate students. Not that I was by any means bohemian; there are limits to how wild one can get while living in a flat with one's grandmother in Schenectady. But part of the scene of university life is that while it seems like it will go on depressingly forever, the future is often uncertain, which can create a malaise. And meanwhile, in most university towns, there are bars and nightclubs where people fall in love, and hearts are broken, just like in La Rondine.

"Chi il bel sogno di Doretta" is one of the most exquisite arias ever composed; it was featured in the Merchant-Ivory film A Room With A View. "What do riches matter when happiness has blossomed at last?" is the theme of the song, and of the opera. Basically, the story of La Rondine ("The Swallow") is along the lines of Verdi's La Traviata and its film version, Camille, both based on the Dumas novel. A sad but good-hearted courtesan finds true love at last, but because the love is sincere, she must leave the man she loves for his own good. La Rondine is different because the heroine does not die of tuberculosis; she only goes away.

Yes, the characters are decadent; yet, they are able at some point to acknowledge their immoral behavior, or at least lament it. Because it was frowned upon by society that men and women live together without being married, there was more hope that the relationships be broken off, especially if marriage was out of the question. Guilt is not healthy if nourished but it can and does lead to repentance.

We live now in a shameless time. Parents no longer intervene as the fathers do in both La Traviata and La Rondine. In those old operas, there was sin, there was great passion, but there was also great love and the willingness to make sacrifices for the beloved. There is now little shame, little love and few willing to sacrifice. And sometimes I wonder if people are really happy.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

"West Side Story" is Back!

On stage at Wolf Trap in Northern Viriginia, Leonard Bernstein's musical about young love amid gang warfare still has appeal after half a century. The modern rendition of Romeo and Juliet is something my siblings and I would listen to repeatedly on the record player while we were growing up. We knew "Officer Krupke" by heart and thought it was hilarious; the tragic social implications sank in later. Nevertheless, my sister and I would always sob when Tony died; it felt like the end of the world when Maria walked off by herself into the darkness. The various love songs are among the most searing ever written, worthy of Puccini himself, except that West Side Story is All-American, unique to our time and our nation. The theme of transcendent love, however, is universal. Share

The Nazi Religion

Hitler's paganism is described by Roy Shoeman. To quote:

The most blatant example of the Nazis’ perverse cooption of Christianity is the assigning of the role of Messiah to Hitler. In this blasphemy Hitler takes the place of Christ; the thousand year reign of the Third Reich is the Messianic Era on earth; the Aryan race takes the place of the Jews as the Chosen People; and blood purity takes the place of holiness as the essence of salvation. [Read More] Share

Forced Abortions in China...

...are still the order of the day. Some parents try to save their children's lives, without success. (Via The Western Confucian) Share

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Summer Place (1959)

The theme of A Summer Place, especially when crooned by The Lettermen, has the ability to conjure up images of beaches and sailboats even in the depths of winter. Schmaltzy but pleasing, it perfectly suits a movie which at first glance is the soapiest of soap operas. The 1959 film, based upon the torrid novel by Sloan Wilson, was scandalous because of the topics of adolescent fornication and pregnancy in an era when teenagers were supposed to be innocent. Set in New England, for the most part, A Summer Place debuted in the cinemas as Calvinist America stood on the brink of cultural and sexual revolution. The book even more than the movie shows the reaction of the new generation to the Manichean attitudes which tended to flow as an undercurrent in American society. Puritanical repression is as different from genuine purity as ice is from fire; when sexuality is rejected because it is considered dirty or unclean, rather than restrained for the sake of love, then a monster is unleashed.

As the Richard Egan character reacts against his wife's disdain of the marriage bed by rekindling passion with his lost love (Dorothy McGuire), two families are ruined and all hell breaks loose. When the adults break the rules, they open up the way for the adolescents to break them, too. And while the grown-ups are able to piece their lives back together again, the youngsters are nearly destroyed. It is one of the films which best show the effects of divorce and remarriage upon the children involved. In the light of the confusion and torment suffered by the two teenagers, played by Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue, the affair embarked upon by Egan and McGuire appears irresponsible rather than romantic, although one cannot help but pity them for their impossible marriages. When people break commitments in order to find happiness and fulfillment, they must be aware of the high price to be paid, and the one to pay it might very probably be an innocent child. Share

Brave New World

Why do people acquiesce so easily? Too many give in to the culture, like sheep, without even being pushed by terror, persecution, or death threats. It is just a hassle to go against the grain, I suppose. Meanwhile, the Revolution breaks down our humanity. To quote from an article on Taki's blog today:

In the West the very notion of the “nation” is eroding. Most troublingly, the cultural language of manners, and established social norms, have already been worn down. Look at a photo of young men or women of a century ago and compare it to one of today’s young men and women and the contrast is shocking. All nobility (and this is a quality that was once found in the working class as well) is gone. Most young people seem so lacking in self-control or self-awareness that they can’t even stand or sit straight. Problematically from a governmental perspective, gone too is the natural allegiance to the nation. There is only an allegiance to Me, Myself, and I. Share

Taking the Waters

An historic spa, newly restored, opens for business in Bedford, PA. Since ancient times people have found "taking the waters" to be beneficial to health. Marie-Antoinette's daughter Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte would go to the baths at Vichy at least once a year, and later would visit the spa at Carlsbad in Austria. Here is the history of the Bedford Spa. Share

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Leopard (1963)

The Leopard is the story of the fall of the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, based upon the novel by Giuseppe di Lampedusa. In 1963 the haunting and subtle masterpiece premiered as a film, starring Burt Lancaster. Directed by Milanese aristocrat (and Communist) Luchino Visconti, it is perhaps, in the opinion of some film critics, one of the most skillfully crafted films of all time. Lancaster regarded it as his finest performance, although initially he drew back from the role of Prince Fabrizio, feeling himself to be too American. Lancaster, however, emanates a calm and collected nobility as well as animal magnetism; no one else could have played so well the Sicilian prince who was known as "the leopard."

I watched The Leopard frequently while I was writing the novel Madame Royale, about the decline of another branch of Bourbons. While no Bourbons make an appearance in the film, the passing of the old order is epitomized by the Lancaster character, Prince Fabrizio, who must make compromises in order to save his family. While Don Fabrizio and his once powerful clan incarnate the decadence, frivolity and inbreeding of the old aristocracy, they also exemplify the courtesy, noblesse-oblige and Catholic culture which were about to fade into oblivion. From the opening scene when the prince and his family are saying the rosary to the final shot of Don Fabrizio kneeling in the street as the Blessed Sacrament is carried to a dying man, the film shows how faith was woven into all aspects of life. There is a sense of the presence of God, to whom Don Fabrizio, and everyone else, must render an account. Death seems to haunt the dusty corners of the great palace, even while a new era is being born.

The plot revolves around the betrothal of Don Fabrizio's nephew Tancredi (Alain Delon) to the beautiful and wealthy daughter of the mayor, Angelica. Angelica (Claudia Cardinale) is a young girl who in former times would never have been considered eligible to marry into a princely house, but in the trying days of the Italian unification her money and political connections confer eligibility upon her. Her forward and slightly vulgar manner are softened by her earthy charm; Tancredi is completely in love with her. He has forgotten his cousin, Don Fabrizio's daughter, who had hoped to marry him; the scorned maiden's silent heartbreak permeates the movie.

Don Fabrizio is smitten with Angelica as well, although he gives no indication of any attachment except when he waltzes with her at the ball. Roger Ebert describes the dance thus:
Finally the prince dances with Angelica. Watch them as they dance, each aware of the other in a way simultaneously sexual and political. Watch how they hold their heads. How they look without seeing. How they are seen, and know they are seen. And sense that, for the prince, his dance is an acknowledgment of mortality. He could have had this woman, would have known what to do with her, would have made her his wife and the mother of his children and heard her cries of passion, if not for the accident of 25 years or so that slipped in between them. But he knows that, and she knows that. And yet of course if they were the same age, he would not have married her, because he is Prince Don Fabrizio and she is the mayor's daughter. That Visconti is able to convey all of that in a ballroom scene is miraculous and emotionally devastating, and it is what his movie is about.

Military Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Lazarus

Among the Military Orders of the Middle ages was the Order of Saint Lazarus, founded specifically for the care of lepers. Here is an historical account:

Five major orders were formed in the Holy Land in the late 11th-early 12th century: the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller (St. John), Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, Knights of the Hospital of St. Mary of Jerusalem (Teutonic Knights) and Knights of Saint Lazarus. Templar knights who contracted leprosy were sent to the care of the Order of Saint Lazarus. These knights trained the brethren of Saint Lazarus in the military arts and were responsible for transforming the Order into a military one.

As leprosy disappeared from Europe, the order of St. Lazarus became more of a spiritual brotherhood, under the protection of the French monarchy. When Henry IV embraced Catholicism, he united the Order of Saint Lazarus to a new lay confraternity, the Military Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in 1608. As the same account explains:

In theory the Order was military, but with the exception of a brief period in the XVIIth century when it manned ten naval frigates it played no military role after it left the Holy Land. It was composed of diplomats, high-level civil servants and members of the titled nobility and was limited to 100 knights. The King was the sovereign head and protector and chose the Grand Master....

During the French Revolution a decree of 30 July 1791 suppressed all royal and knightly orders. Another decree the following year confiscated all the Order's properties (the Château de Boigny, the Military Academy, the commanderies and hospitals). Louis, Count of Provence, Grand Master of the Order, who later became Louis XVIII, continued to function in exile and awarded the Order, though sparingly.

I read somewhere that Louis XVI, who had joined the order as a boy, took his obligations as a lay military "Carmelite" very seriously, and he daily prayed the Office and attended regular meetings. As for Louis XVIII, he mostly enjoyed pomp and liked handing out medals. As Heraldica says:

Provence seemed interested in the Order as a source of favors to hand out. In 1785 he suggested to the king that the Order was really a "mark of nobility, the insignia of a sort of noble association and not a courtly reward." He wanted to capitalize on the recent surge of prestige to turn it into a rival of the Order of Malta: at least, he argued, Saint-Lazare does not require celibacy, and its head and sovereign protector was the king himself, not some foreign entity. It would also serve as a source of retirement income for officers, and thereby relieve the Royal Treasury. Provence's apparent altruism should not deceive: he wanted to turn the Order into his private Saint-Esprit or Golden Fleece, and use it as a source of extra revenues for his uncontrollable spending habits (the Royal Treasury had to bail him out of several millions' worth of debts in the mid-1780s, at taxpayer expense). Not surprisingly, his brother the king was not receptive. Besides, the order was losing money as it was. In 1788, the king and Provence decided to let the order disappear by ceasing to appoint knights (see Petiet 1914). Accordingly, the last promotion was in 1788.

The Revolution came, the Comte de Provence fled the country in June 1791; the order was abolished along with other orders on July 31, 1791, by a decree of the National Assembly signed by the king, and the estates confiscated and sold....

The Bourbons returned to France in 1814, and Louis XVIII, while preserving Napoleon's Legion of Honor, proceeded to recreate the Old Regime's orders. The Order of Saint-Esprit was recreated on September 28, 1814 and promotions made during exile were validated; the order of Saint-Louis and the Mérite Militaire (the Protestant version) were likewise recreated on Dec. 12, 1814 and even Saint-Michel was restored on November 16, 1816. But nothing was done to reinstate Saint Lazare. Louis XVIII kept wearing the star of the Order (and was buried with it) but otherwise showed no interest whatsoever in the order. It is true that the order had lost its estates, and had therefore no income whatsoever. Caring for the order would have meant allocating funds, as had been done for the other orders. But Saint-Lazare had been a very minor order, and clearly Louis XVIII saw no need for it anymore.

The Order of Saint Lazarus was revived in 1910, without the connection to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, however. Some dispute the legitimacy of the resurrected Order, which has experienced schism and interior division in the last century. The new "Lazarists," however, still accomplish a great deal of charitable works, as one article explains:

Nonetheless, the members of this Order have been effective fund raisers for significant humanitarian causes. They have obtained substantial donations from their own membership as well as successfully acquiring large grants from the European Union and the German government which have been put to good use in Eastern Europe. Leading members of the Lazarus Hilfswerk, the German charitable arm of Saint Lazarus which has been the primary instrument in obtaining government and E.U. funding, have been received by Pope John Paul II in private audience when His Holiness thanked them for the extensive Polish relief operations. It has several times been claimed on their behalf that His Holiness was preparing to recognize their institution as an Order, but to this date such acknowledgment has not materialized.


Business as Usual

Don Marco vividly describes a typical American Catholic Sunday liturgy. This is exactly why many of us are eager to at least occasionally participate in a traditional Latin Mass, the Mass of the ages. We merely want to worship almighty God in a sublime and reverent manner, not in a free-for-all which can only be described as the most banal of amateur theatrics. Share

Sweet Tea

It's delicious! (Once again, via LRC) As the article says:

Southerners, of course, have a taste for sugar that is demonstrably stronger than what you find up North. We like our pecan pie and pralines sweet enough to make the dentist cringe. All of the major soda companies—the Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, Dr Pepper—started in the South. Bourbon, that sweetest of whiskies, is from Kentucky. A mint julep, that classic Southern cocktail, is basically a whiskey'd up sweet tea, with mint, ice, simple syrup, and booze. Share

Monday, August 27, 2007


Are they going out of style? I hope so. I never liked jeans, but that's just me, the perpetual reactionary. Meanwhile, here is the fall fashion forecast. Dresses are "in." Very interesting.... Share

St. Monica's Day

It is a feast for those of us who have been praying for decades for the conversion of certain people. As St. Monica found, prayers that are accompanied by tears are never in vain.

The Western Confucian has a wonderful post on Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who also suffered greatly for the salvation of souls. Share

Trampy Clothes for Young Girls

Why some mothers do not care if their daughters dress like prostitutes is beyond me. (Via Lew Rockwell) Share

Monster Men

This is all just too weird. (Via the LRC) Share

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Pierced Heart

Today on the Carmelite calendar it is the feast of the Transverberation of the Heart of St. Teresa of Avila. (Thanks for the link, Terry!) Although the Holy Mother claimed the experience was purely mystical, it was found after her death that her heart had indeed been physically pierced. A priest once told me that such a phenomenon was a stigmata, although not the same stigmata that saints like St. Pio and St Francis of Assisi experienced. Those saints bore the five wounds of Christ; St Teresa bore a single wound in her heart. In this she resembled the Sorrowful Mother, transpierced at the foot of the Cross. St. Teresa, and those her wish to follow her in the Carmelite way, are to model the Blessed Virgin Mary, faithful in the greatest moment of darkness which was the crucifixion. It was also the moment of redemption, in which Mary became the Mother of the Church. Through our own sufferings and heartaches, we can participate in the redemption of the world. Share

The Order of Love

Woman is first in the order of love, as Genevieve Kineke explains so clearly in a recent article, especially when seen in the light of the Assumption of Our Lady.

Some words from the Holy Father confirm this ineffable mystery. As Pope Benedict recently said:

Mary has left death behind her; she is totally clothed in life, she is taken up body and soul into God's glory and thus, placed in glory after overcoming death, she says to us: Take heart, it is love that wins in the end!

The message of my life was: I am the handmaid of God, my life has been a gift of myself to God and my neighbour. And this life of service now arrives in real life. May you too have trust and have the courage to live like this, countering all the threats of the dragon. Share

St. Joan Antide Thouret

A reader reminded me that August 24 was the feast of St. Joan Antide Thouret (1765-1826) who continued the Church's ministry to the poor in spite of the restrictions and persecutions of the French Revolution. Share

Saturday, August 25, 2007

King's Row (1942)

Anyone who has ever dismissed Ronald Reagan as a "B-movie" actor has only to see him in King's Row to realize that he was perfectly capable of being an "A-movie" actor. In Reagan's case, I do not think that it was a question of mediocre talent but rather of having the right material and the kind of director who could command a superb performance. Sam Wood was one such director, and the 1942 film, based upon Henry Bellaman's novel of the same name, afforded the dramatic setting in which Reagan could shine.

Set in a small Missouri town in the early 1900's, King's Row explores many issues which have come to haunt modern times, specifically the power and authority of the medical profession over people's lives. It emphasizes that being a physician is a vocation in which the highest integrity is absolutely indispensable. Without a moral compass, the medical profession is doomed to barbarity.

In spite of the idyllic appearance of the town, it is haunted by a sadistic doctor who sees himself ordained to punish sinners, as long as the sinners in question are too poor and obscure to defend themselves. Ronald Reagan portrays "Drake," the charming, lackadaisical rascal of the town, whom the sadist Dr. Gordon (Charles Coburn) chooses to castigate in a particularly grotesque manner. Reagan's interpretation of Drake's response to the horror which befalls him is one of the most powerful moments in classic cinema.

Drake is the boyhood friend of the protagonist "Parris," played by Robert Cummings, and the brotherly bond between them is a beautiful portrayal of true friendship. Meanwhile, the neurotic women in their lives bring with them situations fraught with dark secrets, except for Parris' grandmother (Maria Ouspenskaya) and Drake's girlfriend (Ann Sheridan) who bring hope and balance. The Ann Sheridan character "Randy Monaghan" is supposed to be Catholic, and the scene in which she murmurs "O Blessed Mother of God!" is profoundly moving.

Ultimately, Parris, who becomes a doctor himself, is faced with a moral dilemma in which he must choose to use his medical credentials to save or to destroy. His new friend, a lovely Viennese girl, leads him to the light, and the darkness which threatens to overwhelm the characters is overcome. Share

The "Little Arab"

Today on the Carmelite calendar it is the feast of Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified, Miriam Baouardy, known as the "Little Arab." Miraculous phenomena surrounded her. Let us pray to her for Christians who are suffering persecution in Moslem countries. She said:

“Everything passes here on earth. What are we? Nothing but dust, nothingness, and God is so great, so beautiful, so lovable and He is not loved.” Share

"God, France, and Marguerite"

Saint Louis IX, King of France, whose feast we celebrate today, is the epitome of the Christian knight, king and crusader. He is the patron saint of Franciscan tertiaries. In addition to his administrative duties as king, he prayed the daily Mass and Divine Office. His strong interior life aided him in being a competent ruler and a father to his people.

While still a teenager, St. Louis married a beautiful princess from the south of France, Marguerite de Provence. She was also pious, although not as devout as Louis. Inside his wedding ring, he had three words inscribed: "God, France, and Marguerite." They had eleven children. King Louis had a secret staircase built from his study to his wife's parlor above so that he could visit her during the day without his mother knowing it. Louis' mother, Queen Blanche, thought that Louis should concentrate solely upon his work. She also may have feared that Marguerite might gain too much political influence over Louis, and so tried to keep the young lovers/spouses apart as much as possible.

Blanche went to extremes by making young Louis leave Marguerite when she was suffering after a particularly difficult childbirth and wanted her husband to hold her hand. Blanche told Louis that it was not his place to be in the birthing room and Louis obeyed his mother. Marguerite was quite distressed although she forgave Louis. (I would have probably been mad at him forever.)

Louis and Marguerite lost children to sickness and had their share of domestic misunderstandings. At one point, Louis thought Marguerite focused too much on her clothes, and later on Marguerite complained that Louis would not look at her. (That would have driven me crazy.) To his friend Jean de Joinville, Louis confided, "A man should not behold that which he can never fully possess." I assume it was soon before he left on his second crusade on which he would die; perhaps he was trying to detach himself from everything he loved in this world, especially his adored wife.

Marguerite shared her husband's sorrows and joys. When his mother died, she wept copiously. Joinville asked her in amazement how she could weep over someone who had caused her so much suffering. Marguerite replied that it was because her husband was so deeply grieved and she shared his grief.

Greatly devoted to Our Lady, St. Louis was responsible for bringing the Carmelite Order to France. While on a crusade in the Holy Land, King Louis’ ship ran into a violent storm within view of Mt. Carmel. The sound of the bells from the chapel of Our Lady on Mt. Carmel pierced the roar of the wind and the waves. The king, kneeling in prayer, begged Our Lady to save his ship, promising in return a pilgrimage to Carmel. The ship was saved. King Louis climbed the slopes of Carmel to visit the holy hermits who lived near the chapel. Greatly edified by their life of prayer and solitude, he asked several of them to come to France, where he established a monastery for them. This was a great help to the Carmelites, who were finding life in Palestine very difficult due to the hostility of the Moslems.

St. Louis of France had a busy schedule and a multitude of duties. Through the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and devotion to Our Lady, he attained a life of union with God. Power and riches had no hold on his heart. Let us seek his intercession in this often disorienting time we live in. Share

Friday, August 24, 2007

Etiquette for Mass

From Fr. Jim Tucker. Even a Novus Ordo Mass can be reverent, with a little effort.

Make sure to turn off your cell phone and set your pager to silent before you go into church.

Lower the kneeler on the pew carefully. It’s not meant to be a thunder simulator.

Scoot into the pew as far as you can. This makes it easier for others to take a seat as they arrive.

Church is certainly an appropriate place for children. If yours is prone to make lots of noise, sit toward the rear so that you can take him out if he begins to make a scene. Many churches provide a crying room where one can take crying children for brief periods.

Although there’s a long-standing custom of Catholics saying rosaries and reading prayerbooks during Mass, it has never been considered appropriate to read the bulletin or the New York Times during the sermon.

Plan to arrive at church at least five minutes before Mass begins, and don’t try to beat the priest out the front door at the end. Even better, stay until the closing hymn finishes and linger to offer some prayers of thanksgiving afterward. Besides, the parking lot is crazy right at the end of Mass.

If the parish offers a coffee social after Mass, you are most welcome to go, even if you are not a parishioner or not Catholic.

Even if you are not Catholic, you are most welcome to join in all the prayers, songs, and actions of the Mass. Holy Communion is the only part of the Mass reserved to Catholics who have spiritually prepared themselves for It.

At the Sign of Peace, it is customary to offer the peace of Christ to those around you (in this country, it is usually a handshake). Since it is a sign, you only need to offer it to those beside you (and perhaps to those in front and behind, if you wish). Even if you don’t reach someone, don’t worry: he or she still gets the peace of Christ.

There is no need to come to Mass in a tuxedo or formal gown. As a sign of respect to God and to those at Mass with you, though, it is customary to dress up a bit. As a general rule, one should not wear shorts or come with bare shoulders, low-cut tops, or skirts that are above the knees. Ladies are no longer required to cover their heads in this country, but gentlemen are expected to remove their hats at the door.

Since the church is a house of prayer, one should avoid lengthy or loud conversations. If you need to speak to someone, do so in a lowered voice, even if Mass is not going on. Most churches have a vestibule (sometimes called a “gathering space” or “narthex”) where one is able to converse.

In American churches, one does not typically bring animals in.

It is poor manners to chew gum in church. To go up to Communion with gum in one's mouth is mind-bogglingly poor manners (and arguably a violation of the Communion fast).

Coffee and sweetrolls are often served in parish halls after Masses, but it is inappropriate to eat them in the church itself. It's also inappropriate to bring other food or drinks into church, even if one expects the Mass to be rather long.

Low-fat foods...

...are not good for children. (Via LRC) Share

St Bartholomew's Day

It is the feast of an Apostle. It is also the day that St. Teresa of Avila began her Carmelite reform in 1562.

By the way, yesterday was the birthday of Louis XVI; tomorrow is his name-day, which he always celebrated with reverence. Share

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Short Essay on the French Revolution

Here is a concise essay on the French Revolution excerpted from an old Catholic textbook once used in Ireland, written by Rev. Reginald F. Walker CSSP. Share

Mount St. Peter's Church

This beautiful church is just north of Pittsburgh and would be a great setting for the Latin Mass. It was constructed in the 1930's from the demolished remains of a mansion belonging to the Mellon family. The magnificent altar baldachino is made from remnants of the former banister. Parishioners with no money but a great deal of faith built a church which still gives glory to God. Why do we think we need a lot of money to accomplish great tasks? Here is an account from the parish website:

For this is the story of how faith built a church. Not an ordinary house of worship, but one unique in the annals of church building. Not one built to an architect´s plan, but one erected block by block, piece by piece, from the heterogeneity of a wrecked mansion. From narthex to altar; from doors to communion rail; from holy water fonts to sanctuary lamps, the old has been adapted to the new in imperishable marble and granite; in enduring bronze and priceless alabaster; in shining gold and antique silver; in sturdy hand-carved wood. Every piece found its niche (though none had a place in the beginning) as if some unseen finger had guided the placement.

This is, furthermore, the story of God´s utilization of man and material things in the unfolding of a divine plan.

A stranger within the gates of the New Saint Peter´s might infer that here was a congregation of wealth; that the building of this magnificent edifice entailed no hardship or sacrifice; that the laborers must undoubtedly have been the most highly-skilled of artisans. Had this been so, this story would not have been written, for the simple reason that there would have been no story. Saint Peter´s was not built by the visible power of wealth, but by the unseen power of prayer; not by the lavish utilization of highly-paid labor, but by congregational cooperation; not by the emergency aid of generous patrons, but by trust in God.

The story of Saint Peter´s begins back in 1937, when the old church became inadequate for a fast-growing congregation. There were two good reasons, however, for not building a new church: lack of a suitable site, and a depleted treasury. But sometimes acute need is the only spur necessary to stimulate faith, and on the assumption that God would help those who showed a willingness to help themselves, the members of Saint Peter´s instituted a search for a suitable location.

Was it God´s plan that there should be, just 100 yards from the old church, a wooded four acre knoll that was for sale?

Father Fusco, the pastor of Saint Peter´s must have thought so, for he called upon the owner. But any hopes that he may have had concerning an immediate sale were blasted when the owner said, "The price of this property is $35,000."

Father´s reaction was characteristic of one who puts his faith in the Almighty. He directed that two medals be buried on the coveted property.

Nothing happened for awhile. But faith at Saint Peter´s was growing so fast that a building campaign was inaugurated. Imagine it! A campaign for a building without a place to build on! But then, those who put their faith in God, do seemingly fantastic things, and God, it seems, rewards that faith. Before long, the pastor was informed that the desired property would be relinquished for $25,000.

To a congregation without faith (and an empty treasury) this amount would be as difficult to acquire as the original sum; but not to Saint Peter´s, who firmly believed by now that God was directing their affairs.

Saint Peter´s raised $500 hand money and took an option on the property for six months!

Continued faith, hard work and unremitting prayer worked wonders. At the end of six months they had $25,500 in cash and $75,000 in pledges! Now the "Knoll" belonged to Saint Peter´s and the next move was to start on the actual building project.

But it didn't seem to be as simple as that. Where before it had been a lack of funds, now it was lack of agreement on what kind of church to build. After eighteen month´s architectural research, discussion among building committee members, and parleys between committee and architect, there was no concrete plan as to how the church was to be built.

God had again intervened, this time to forestall any move that might be contrary to His plan. Saint Peter´s would have been satisfied with just a church - one large enough to serve its 1400 families; but God´s plan, as was soon apparent, was for something far above that which was merely useful.

At that time the Mellon mansion, in suburban Pittsburgh, fifteen miles distant, was being razed and its furnishings sold. Was there anything there, the pastor and building committee wondered, that a parish with little money could procure for a new church building?

Pastor and committee investigated. Indeed, there was much here that had ecclesiastical potential. Too bad they couldn't take it all, mourned Father Fusco, whose artistic soul revolted at the desecration of priceless stone by a careless wrecking crew.

"We can do just that!" jubilated a practical minded committee, upon learning that all they surveyed could be theirs merely for the cost of hauling it away!

When it was all delivered, Saint Peter´s had what amounted to a stone quarry in their back yard, together with thirty tons of steel beams, sixty-five oak doors, and all the other innumerable items concomitant with the wrecking of a sixty-five room house.

That day marked the beginning of the second chapter in the building of Saint Peter´s. It marked, also, a three-year period of trial and discouragement. To build in normal times when labor and materials are plentiful, is one thing; to build in time of war and to contend with priorities and labor shortages, is another. To construct with a full treasury is simple; to do so on a shoe string is something else.

But Saint Peter´s believed that God was their partner in this venture; so out of trial came a greater faith, and out of discouragement new incentives to greater endeavor. Perhaps this was because God´s hand was seen in everything that was done. Until the last nail was driven, huge sums of money were always needed, but somehow they were always found. If priorities held up work today, the needed items appeared, as if by magic, tomorrow. If paid labor was scarce, there were twice as many workers willing to contribute their time. "It is God´s hand!" exclaimed someone, when the building of the main roof stopped at a certain height for lack of funds. And so it seemed to be; for at that exact height was to be found the place of perfect acoustics!

Instances are on record of God´s protection. In the many journeys from the Mellon estate to the new site, not one piece of precious marble or delicate alabaster was cracked. When winter caught up with the builders the first year, snow was withheld until walls could be covered. Workmen narrowly escaped injury and death from falls and heavy objects.

But perhaps the greatest miracle was the adaptation of the innumerable pieces of stone and wood that went into the building. It is a simple matter to erect a structure with plans and specifications; to select each piece out of hundreds in a yard full of pieces and fit it in somewhere, is a different and infinitely more difficult task. Looking upon the completed church, the stranger is apt to exclaim, "How closely to plan must this building have been erected; how carefully thought out must have been every detail."

But not so. Of course, the builders knew that the huge red sandstone blocks which formed the exterior of the mansion would serve admirably for the exterior of Saint Peter´s. Heavy plateglass and bronze entrance doors and marble archways would fit into the architecture of a church as a mansion. But where, O where, could one place a granite porch rail, or fit in an elaborately carved marble slab which had rested above a ballroom door? Commodious kitchen cupboard units would encourage neatness and order in the sacristy, but of what use in a church were two hugh alabaster bowls which had been light reflectors in the vestibule chandeliers?

The fact that these items and dozens more fell into orderly place, proves that a Hand mightier than man´s supervised the placing. The granite porch rail, cleaned and polished, became the

communion rail; the carved marble slab is now an integral part of the main altar; the alabaster bowls, inverted and mounted on marble pedestals, became holy water and baptismal fonts.

It is doubtful if the eye of man will ever see a lovelier altar than that of the new Saint Peter´s. The four immense Riviera marble pillars which support the baldachin were taken from the mansion vestibule; the panels of the baldachin, as well as the chancel gates, were formerly stairway girdles; the tiny bit of rose-colored marble upon which the tabernacle rests, was once a piece of wainscoting.

Second to the main altar in beauty and adaptability of material, is the Chapel of the Seven Sacraments. Its carved wooden confessionals once served as bookcases; its gold sanctuary lamp gave light in a music room.

The incident which points to divine planning more than any other, was the placing of the carved marble mantle which was to be used as chapel altar. During installation, a large front panel dropped out, and it was discovered that this fine stone had originally been an altar. Investigation revealed that the Mellons had purchased it from a Catholic church in Pisa, Italy. God had finally brought it back to an Italian Catholic church where it is destined to serve the purpose for which it was intended - as a repository for the Host.

Could it have been in the divine plan that so much of the material from the mansion should have carried religious motifs? There are angel heads in the keystone of arches, in ceiling panels, in electric light brackets, in carved organ grilles. (Little angel statues holding tiny bowls in their cupped hands were converted into holy water fonts.) The bronze stairway panels were made into a lily design, and the lion, symbol of Saint Mark and the Lion of Judah, was carved into the massive bookcases. On noticing these things during inspection of the Mellon material, a committee member was impelled to remark, "God meant that someday the Mellon mansion should be made into a sanctuary."

The worshiper at Saint Peter´s can truly say with the Psalmist, "How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts!"

The Blessing of Herbs and Flowers

Another exquisite post from Don Marco. To quote:

Christians of both East and West have, from very early times, blessed herbs and fruit on the Feast of the Assumption. Thus blessed, these creatures become sacramentals of the Church and portents of divine protection from dangers to soul and body. In some places the herbs were placed on the altar, and even beneath the altar linens, so that from this proximity to the Most Holy Eucharist they might receive a special hallowing, beyond that conferred by the blessing prayers of the Church.

The prayers of the rite suggest that this custom of the Church hearkens back to the ancient customs ordained by God through Moses. According to Christian tradition, when the Apostles accompanied Saint Thomas, who had been absent at the time of the Blessed Virgin's death, to her tomb, upon opening it they discovered that her body was not there. Instead, they found the tomb filled with fragrant herbs and flowers. Blessed herbs recall the lingering fragrance of the virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church.


The Return of Superstition

An Irish archbishop laments.

Speaking on the theme of "Following Christ in 21st-century Ireland," Archbishop Brady said that today's challenge is to keep "our lives focused on Christ amid the distractions of increasing prosperity."

He explained: "The land of saints and scholars has become better known as the land of stocks and shares, of financial success and security.

"Tragically it has also become a land of increasing stress and substance abuse. And all of this has occurred as the external practice of faith has declined."

"One of the most subtle but disturbing signs of this underlying fear in Irish life is the increasing reliance of people on practices which claim to 'unveil' the future," the 68-year-old archbishop affirmed. "Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, tarot cards, recourse to clairvoyance and mediums conceal a desire for power over time and a lack of trust in God's providence.

"They are the new Irish superstition. Those who put their trust in them or take them seriously are colluding with an illusion, promoting a fiction. Underlying this trend of 'future telling,' is a fear of the future.

"It is a symptom of the insecurity that lurks behind the seeming confidence of modern Irish culture and life. It is evidence of the failure of a life without God to address the deepest needs of the human spirit." Share

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

As Summer Ebbs

My garden is a total and complete mess. This essay made me feel a little better about it. Share

Mary the Queen

August Queen of Heaven,
sovereign queen of Angels, you who at the beginning received from God the power and the mission to crush the head of Satan, we beseech you humbly, send your holy legions so that, on your orders and by your power, they will track down demons, fight them everywhere, curb their audacity and plunge them into the abyss. Who can be compared to God? Oh good and tender Mother, you will always be our love and our hope. Oh divine Mother, send the Holy Angels and Archangels to defend me and to keep the cruel enemy far from me. Holy Angels and Archangels defend us, protect us. Amen. Share

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Our Lady of Knock

The Irish people suffered a great deal for their faith over the centuries. According to an article by John O'Connell:

The Irish people since their conversion to Christianity have possessed a particularly strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary—a devotion they received from St. Patrick. Through many centuries of persecution the Mother of God’s intercession has assisted and comforted the Catholic people of Ireland. The Irish suffered greatly for the one, true Catholic Faith, but in the 19th century they encountered especially bleak times.

True, in 1829 the Catholic Emancipation Act officially ended persecution against Catholics, but persecution against Catholics in Ireland persisted. In the 19th century, Ireland experienced potato crop failures several times, including the great potato famine, along with a deadly epidemic of typhoid fever. While the Irish and their children were starving, Catholics were bribed with the promise of food or money if they would apostatize from the ancient faith. With great heroism, most of the Irish Catholics kept the faith. Mary Immaculate, Cause of our Hope, helped to sustain the persecuted Church in Ireland.

In 1879, at Knock in County Mayo there was a miraculous occurence.

County Mayo was in the center of a region of Ireland that had suffered great distress in the 1870's. Various famines and economic dislocations produced by forced evictions had created yet another wave of Irish immigration. It was into this environment that the Lord again sent His Mother to visit with His oppressed children.

The Apparition at Knock took place on 21st August, 1879, eight years after Pontmain in 1871. The two apparitions are broadly similar, in that they both took place in the evening and only lasted for three hours or so, and similarly, in both, no words were spoken.

On the evening of Thursday, 21 August 1879, two women from the small village of Knock, Mary McLoughlin and Mary Beirne, were walking back to their home in the rain when they passed by the back of the town church. There against the wall of the church stood the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, and an altar with a lamb and a cross on it. Flying around the altar were several angels. The women called several other people to the church. They too saw the apparition. What they and thirteen others saw in the still-bright day was a beautiful woman, clothed in white garments, wearing a large brilliant crown. Her hands were raised as if in prayer. This woman was understood by all who saw her tobe the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Queen of the Angels. Other villagers, who were not involved with the apparition, nonetheless reported seeing a very bright light illuminating the area around where the church was located. There were subsequent reports of inexplicable healings associated with visits to the church at Knock.

Another article says:

It is recorded that Mary said nothing at all during these apparitions. She simply came to her people, to be with them in their hour of need.

A few years ago, a sesquicentennial Mass recalled the suffering of Ireland on the western seaboard during that decade of awful starvation in the 1840s. The term "An Gorta Mor" referred to that great famine, that great hunger, that great calamity.

The years preceding the apparitions were the most tragic years in the history of Ireland. Famine and unimagined misery engulfed the entire Catholic country. Ships took away cattle and grain, and the people were left to starve. Priests often anointed as many as 40 parishioners a day with "extreme unction" as they faced death. The magnitude of such suffering was unimaginable.

Today, worldwide help, together with the news media, would flock to aid these unfortunates. There was no such help in the 19th century. As the threat of famine seemed to decrease slightly, evictions from the land increased.

The west suffered more than other parts of Ireland. An Gorta Mor tells us of the terrible starvation and death in that decade of the 1840s. A million people died of "the sickness," the result of starvation. Three million lined up daily at the soup kitchens; 2 million emigrated, but thousands did not survive the crossing, dying in the "coffin ships"; another million emigrated before the end of the century.

The population of Ireland had been halved. The Irish had then become the most emigration-oriented people in the entire world.

Perhaps Our Lady was silent because there was nothing more to say to those who had already suffered so much for the sake of the Gospel and from political oppression. Here is a post from Don Marco about Knock from earlier in the summer.

Here are the words of the Hail Mary in Gaelic:

Sé do bheath' a Mhuire, atá lán de ghrásta, tá an Tiarna leat.
Is beannaithe thú idir mná agus is beannaithe toradh do bhruinne losa.
A Naomh Mhuire, a mháthair Dé, guí orainn na peacaithe, anois is ar uair ar mbás. Amen.

And here is an old Irish litany in honor of the Blessed Virgin:

Great Mary,
Greatest of Marys,
Greatest of Women,
Mother of Eternal Glory,
Mother of the Golden Light,
Honor of the Sky,
Temple of the Divinity,
Fountain of the Gardens,
Serene as the Moon,
Bright as the Sun,
Garden Enclosed,
Temple of the Living God,
Light of Nazareth,
Beauty of the World,
Queen of Life,
Ladder of Heaven,
Mother of God.

Pray for us.


Collapse into Chaos

It is happening. Pray. And trust in God, no matter what. But chaos is the consequence of the on-going revolution.

What happened to the Petit family (don't click on link unless you are prepared to be very upset) is what happens when unjust laws protect criminals more than they do innocent people. Why were those two-legged monsters, who brutalized that beautiful family, walking around free, when they were already convicted of serial crimes? Share


Michael O'Brien offers some interesting reflections about the overall significance of the Harry Potter series. (Via The Western Confucian) Share

The Controversy of Modest Clothing

A new series by CNN will compare those who advocate Christian modesty to the Taliban. (Via Pewsitter)

Meanwhile, the New Oxford Review offers some fascinating reflections on the importance of certain kinds of attire. To quote:

We can learn from this: If we want our sons to be masculine, we should dress them like boys. If we want our daughters to be feminine, devoted to motherhood and the other ways in which the maternal expresses itself, let us buy feminine clothing for them. There are times for jeans and sweatpants, but pretty dresses should have more than occasional use. One of the benefits of school uniforms is that for the most part girls wear skirts.

Another issue, though less important, is age-appropriateness. The 1950s saw the beginning of a revolution in the clothing industry, according to fashion historian Elizabeth Ewing, namely, "an explicit breakaway movement into fashions which effervesced out of the ideas of youth." In the 1960s this trend intensified as British designer Mary Quant and other fashion purveyors on both sides of the Atlantic created miniskirts. These dresses were saucy, immodest, coquettish, and above all, frivolous. All of a sudden, clothes became instruments to express independence, freedom, the gaiety of youth without responsibility, an insouciance with no care for the morrow, and sexual availability.

Since this was the age of the sexual revolution, younger women spent money on apparel that a generation earlier would have gone to supporting children. Such contraceptive clothing has since been a hallmark of our age -- garments acquired in great disproportion to actual need by those who have no children, or only one or two. These women also permit their 10-year-old daughters to dress like prostitutes -- and at times they themselves dress like their 10-year-old daughters. In her quest for eternal youth, the modern woman appears rather pathetic, the more so as she advances in years. Why not age with dignity? In his previously cited address to the Latin Union of High Fashion, Pope Pius XII comments that "those of mature age seek to obtain from appropriate clothing an aura of dignity, seriousness, and serene happiness." If this sounds unfamiliar, it may be because our age has dismissed dignity as irrelevant to the all-important search for personal fulfillment. Frivolity and its frequent successor, depression, leave little room for seriousness and serenity.

I would also like to point out that there is nothing wrong with being pretty, and wearing make-up, if it helps. Genevieve discusses this on the Feminine Genius blog. A married woman should not look like a nun. Christian modesty does not mean being drab. And if a young lady wants to find a husband, it is certainly within the bounds of morality to dress with restrained style and make oneself attractive. No normal man wants to go to bed with a nun, for heaven's sake.

Deadly Toys

This makes me really mad, too mad for words. Share

Monday, August 20, 2007

Marie-Antoinette and the Revolution

I keep reading on various sites phrases such as "Marie-Antoinette obstinately fought for the divine right of kings." Yes, it seems to be the general consensus that Marie-Antoinette did not support the French Revolution; she even had the temerity to think that monarchy was a good idea. Surprise, surprise. How could anyone expect the "Daughter of the Caesars" to see things differently? Her father was the Holy Roman Emperor, her mother an autocratic sovereign in her own right, and yet people censure Marie-Antoinette for not rejoicing when France became a Republic. Especially, it should be kept in mind that the Revolution was introduced to her in a manner of extreme violence, with herself and her family being dragged to Paris with the heads of guards on pikes before them. That the queen would dedicate herself to trying to save her family from further violence by working against the Revolution should not come as a great shock.

There are several points that need to be considered here. First of all, Marie-Antoinette was indeed an Austrian Archduchess, raised to be the consort of the European ruler. She had it instilled in her mind from early on that she was meant to be a queen, although it was not until late in her childhood that it was decided that she was to be the bride of the Dauphin of France. Therefore, Marie-Antoinette was brought up with the idea that it was the monarchy which protected the rights of the people, particularly from the excesses of greedy nobles and barbarous invaders. Without the monarchy's protection, the people would become pawns in games between politicians who would take power for themselves and become dictators. Or so she was taught to see it.

Among European monarchs who were contemporaries of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, the more "enlightened" ones, such as Marie-Antoinette's brother Joseph II, and Catherine the Great of Russia, open to the teachings of the deists and philosophes, were also the most despotic. The Enlightened Despots loved to talk about the rights of man but in actuality ruled with iron hands, especially in contrast to the benevolence of Louis XVI. Marie-Antoinette herself was not closed to the new ideas; she read Rousseau and was favorable to the masons; both she and Louis were great advocates of reform and progress.

However, the escalating violence of the Revolution and the laws against the Church, as promulgated by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in 1790, killed any support the queen might have had for the Revolution. Nevertheless, she corresponded with prominent revolutionaries such as Barnave, in order to have some influence on the course of events. She called the constitution passed on September 14, 1791 "a tissue of impracticable absurdities," as she wrote to the Austrian ambassador; even the revolutionaries came to regard it so, and scrapped it. She wanted the foreign powers, particularly her brother the Emperor, to form a congress which would put pressure on the revolutionaries and restore order. However, she thought that any attempts of military invasion on the part of the Louis XVI's brothers would lead to more violence against the crown and her fears were proved to be right. (see Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette During the Revolution by Nesta Webster.)

Marie-Antoinette is continually being accused of betraying France, but she is the one who was betrayed. As one article says of her:
Not a crime was ever fastened upon her, while all her judges perished as villains. Yet no other woman has evoked the unanimous resentment of a nation. She was a good wife and a loving mother. She looked on the bright side of life. She was beautiful, and seemed born to bring joy into the world. Yet her mere existence set fiercely ablaze the smouldering wickedness of mankind.
She is generally considered to have touched more keys on the gamut of human feeling, through experience, than any other person of whom we have complete accounts....And if there be a measure of justice prepared for those who go beyond this world, it cannot be amiss in us to shed a tear for her, to bless her brave, beleaguered heart, to blush for human cruelty, -and pray that none so good again shall raise so many foes.
Here is the a description of Marie-Antoinette's character based upon the writings of the Comte de La Marck.

Communism and Woman

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen goes to the heart of the matter in one of his most fascinating essays. To quote:

This idea of the emancipation of women through industrialization is not altogether a Communist idea, but like many others has been derived from Western bourgeois capitalistic civilization which thought of the liberation of woman in terms of equality with men. The only difference is that the Communist merely carried the idea to its logical extreme, and if it scandalizes us now it is because our bourgeois world never understood the full implication of its error.

The two basic errors of both Communism and a capitalistic liberal civilization on this subject were: 1) Women were never emancipated until modern times. Religion particularly kept them in servitude; 2) Equality means the right of a woman to do a man's work. First, it is not true that women began to be emancipated in modern times and in direct proportion to the decline of religion. The fact is that woman's subjection began in the seventeenth century with the break-up of Christendom and took on a positive form at the time of the Industrial Revolution.

Under the Christian civilization women enjoyed rights, privileges, honors and dignities which have since been swallowed up by the machine age. In eighty-five Guilds in England during the Middle Ages, seventy-two had women members on an equal basis with men in such professions as barbers and sailors. They were probably just as outspoken as men because one of the rules of the Guilds was that "the sister as well as the brethren" may not engage in disorderly or contumacious debates. In Paris there were fifteen guilds reserved exclusively for women, while eighty of the Parisian guilds were mixed. Nothing is more erroneous historically than the belief that it was our modern age which recognized women in the professions.


The cause of tragedy in woman today is that by stressing equality, they have lost those specifically feminine qualities which have given her superiority of function. These qualities are devotedness and creativeness. No woman is happy unless she has someone for whom she can sacrifice herself, not in a servile way but in the way of love. Added to the devotedness is her love of creativeness. A man is afraid of dying, but a woman is afraid of not living. Life to a man is personal; life to a woman is otherness. She thinks less in terms of perpetuation of self and more in terms of perpetuation of others — so much so that in devotedness she is willing to sacrifice herself for others.

To the extent that a career gives no opportunity for either she becomes de-feminized. If these qualities cannot be given an outlet in a home and a family, they can nevertheless find other substitutions in works of charity, in the defense of virtuous living, in the defense of right as other Claudias when their political husbands as Pilates rely only on expediency, then her work as a money earner becomes a prelude and a condition for the display of equity which is her greatest glory.

The level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. This is because there is a basic difference between knowing and loving. In knowing something you bring it down to the level of your understanding. But in loving we always go up to meet the demand of the one loved. If you love music you have to submit to its laws and disciplines. When man loves woman, it follows the nobler the woman the nobler the love; the higher the demands by the woman, the more worthy a man must be. That is why a woman is the measure of the level of our civilization.

Government Schools

An interesting article about socialist education. I knew an old Maryland lady who used to say: "Free schools and dumb people!" Well, perhaps she was exaggerating a bit. But sometimes I wonder....At any rate, I went to public school for six years, and had some wonderful teachers. But anything I learned in school was a reinforcement of what I was learning at home, where my parents created an atmosphere conducive to reading and discussion. I do not think that anyone can totally trust anything as precious as the formation of children's minds and souls to ANY school. Every parent must be involved in their child's education. Share

A Village in Cambodia

From the Western Confucian. Share

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Vendean War

A Video. Thanks to M. de Brantigny! More here. Share

The Queen's Last Opera

Scottish aristocrat Grace Elliot was a warm-hearted but rather loose-living lady. She had great sympathy for the plight of the French Royal Family during the Revolution, in spite of her intimacy with the Duc d'Orleans. Mrs. Elliot recorded her impressions of the last public appearance of Marie-Antoinette at the opera, as follows:
After the 20th of June, the people who wished well to the King and Queen were desirous that her Majesty should sometimes appear in public, accompanied by the Dauphin, a most interesting, beautiful child, and her charming daughter, Madame Royale. In consequence of this she went to the Comédie Italienne with her children, Madame Elisabeth, the King's sister, and Madame Tourzelle, governess to the royal children. This was the very last time on which her Majesty appeared in public. I was there in my own box, nearly opposite the Queen's; and as she was so much more interesting than the play, I never took my eyes off her and her family. The opera which was given was Les Evénemens Imprévus, and Madame Dugazon played the soubrette [female servant]]. Her Majesty, from her first entering the house, seemed distressed. She was overcome even by the applause, and I saw her several times wipe the tears from her eyes.
The little Dauphin, who sat on her knee the whole night, seemed anxious to know the cause of his unfortunate mother's tears. She seemed to soothe him, and the audience appeared well disposed, and to feel for the cruel situation of their beautiful Queen. In one of the acts a duet is sung by the soubrette and the valet, where Madame Dugazon says: Ah! Comme j'aime ma maîtresse [Ah! How I love my mistress]. As she looked particularly at the Queen at the moment she said this, some Jacobins, who had come into the playhouse, leapt upon the stage, and if the actors had not hid Madame Dugazon, they would have murdered her. They hurried the poor Queen and family out of the house, and it was all the Guards could do to get them safe into their carriages.
Grace Elliott.
[July 1792.]

Fatima: The Fourth Apparition

It occurred ninety years ago today. (Thanks, Terry.) Our Lady said at Fatima on August 19, 1917:

Pray, pray very much. Make sacrifices for sinners. Many souls go to hell, because no one is willing to help them with sacrifice. Share

Appropriate Attire for a Job Interview

Many people have no idea how to dress. The same guidelines could apply to church. More HERE. Share

St. Edith Stein: The Movie

Paula has an interesting post about the film which helped Mel Gibson to discover Maia Morgenstern. It is called The Seventh Chamber and is about St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Share

Saturday, August 18, 2007

St. Helena the Empress

My patron saint. She discovered the True Cross. Don Marco says:

Saint Helena was not merely collecting relics for posterity. Her discovery of the True Cross saved the Orthodox Catholic faith from being submerged in a sea of speculative philosophies that denied the true Flesh and Blood of Christ. Saint Helena’s discovery points to the God who became man and suffered death on a real cross in a particular place at a precise moment in history. Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles was the herald of Christ’s resurrection; Saint Helena became the herald of the mystery of the Cross. Share

Breton Culture is Alive and Well

And very Celtic. (Via LRC) Share

Rule by Hillary

A very scary thought, but becoming more likely everyday. Share

Friday, August 17, 2007

Good Catholic Families

Heidi has a fine post on "good Catholic families" and how we can never judge by exteriors. Sometimes families that look perfect from the outside have problems that no one would ever guess. But, it's nobody's business, unless help is asked for. And we can never judge from the number of children how open a couple might be to life. Perhaps there are health issues which they do not care to be made public. Infertility is the cause of many tears being shed. Share

Holy Water

Fr. Blake discusses the blessing of holy water according to the old rite. Very enlightening! Share

Overdressing vs Chic

An interesting article. I have sometimes been accused of overdressing, simply because I prefer skirts and dresses to jeans, and like to wear hats to church. But with hair like mine, I'll never be chic. (It's too unruly.) Share

Revolution and Total War

More on David Bell's book. (Via LRC) To quote:

Within weeks, France was pitted against most of Europe. Even Robespierre came on board, now on his way to becoming the architect of the Terror. War was imagined as bringing about, in Bell's words, "an extraordinary break in human history". With it came delusional fantasies of romantic self-expression that condemned hundreds of thousands to grisly ends. Bell cites the military engineer Lazare Carnot declaring to a soldier who had lost his face: "None of us would refuse glory at the price it cost you." Although the French deputies balked at killing the British prime minister, they called for the extermination of his subjects. Total war, as opposed to "limited" war, was born; it was now in the hands of glacial types like Saint-Just, whose savage methods, coupled with France's demographic advantage, led to the republic's astonishing string of victories. In 1793, when the Catholic and royalist Vendée area rose up in internal rebellion, the republic's response was certainly total: an estimated 250,000 men, women and children perished "out of a principle of humanity", as General Carrier put it during the mass drownings at Nantes. The "hell columns" anticipated the SS by a century and a half, yet Bell points out that the names of some of the worst butchers still adorn the Arc de Triomphe: like Vichy or Algeria, the Vendée remains an awkward cyst in the national psyche. For Bell, it is the place where total war "was first revealed to its full, gruesome extent". Share

Thursday, August 16, 2007

St. Stephen, King of Hungary

There are many saintly kings in the Roman calendar. A Christian monarch was seen not as wielding his own power, but rather sharing in the authority of Christ the King. Share

Lourdes on Assumption Day

August 15 is traditionally the national feast day of France. Yesterday 35,000 French people visited the grotto in honor of the Assumption of Mary. (Via the NOR) Share