Thursday, February 28, 2013

Painter of Silence

Romania under Communist tyranny is the setting for Georgina Harding’s novel of subtle pathos, showing the transformation of society as seen through the eyes of a deaf-mute artist, Augustin. The story, which takes place in 1950s Romania, is moved along by flashbacks to the days before Communism. Augustin, born to a servant girl on the lavish estate of a privileged family in the decades between World War I and World War II, bonds from infancy with Safta, the daughter of the family. As the two grow up side by side, a deep friendship is forged that will endure in the face of loss and tragedy.

The happiness of Augustin’s and Safta’s childhood stands in stark contrast to life in the bleak totalitarian regime. A single tragic decision on Safta’s part seems to mark the end of her tranquil country life as war overtakes Europe. The author deftly weaves together the points of view of Augustin, Safta, and other characters, as the summers of old Romania are swallowed by the winter of Stalin’s regime. Augustin captures the history of the family and of his country in his art, using images which say what words cannot express. The novel, written in hauntingly expressive prose, shows how the Communist regime sought to strip individuals not only of their private property but also of their families, their beliefs, their dignity, and their very souls.

(*NOTE: This book was sent to me by The Historical Novel Society in exchange for my honest opinion.)



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Farewell, Pope Benedict!

From Fr. Rutler:
In many glorious ways, Benedict XVI has done just that. With unerring fidelity he has explained the sacred deposit of the Faith to its opponents, both cultured and uncultured, with patient eloquence and stunning insight. Many reforms in the Church’s structure and the purification of abuses were his intense initiatives. Rather like St. Francis of Assisi going to meet with the caliph of Egypt clad only in simplicity, Benedict XVI refused to wear a bullet-proof vest when he went to Turkey, turning the anger of many to respect. A new reverence and beauty in worship has been his gift to the Church through his renewal of the sacred rites, and the provision of an ordinariate for whole groups seeking full communion with the Church “amazed and astonished” many. (Read entire post.)
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

London: Summer of 1814

Everyone who was anyone was there.
Equally, (with the exception of Peter the Great's visit in 1698) this would be the first time in over two centuries, since the days of Henry VIII and Elizabeth, that foreign crowned heads were paying a visit to Britain--a not insignificant event, then.

From the British point of view, there were a few minor problems though.  With the exception of the rather run-down and lived-in-by-his-ailing-parents Windsor Castle, the Prince Regent didn't have a superlative setting for statecraft--there were no Hermitages or Palais du Louvre or Versailles here.  (Which may go some way to explaining his later mania for building and improving the royal residences...)

Instead, the royal Dukes were chucked out of their apartments in Cumberland House and their rooms rapidly refurbished:  the Duke of Cambridge's rooms assigned to the Emperor of Russia and his royal aides, the Duke of Cumberland gave up his rooms for the Emperor of Austria, and Clarence's rooms were to be  used by King Frederick William III of Prussia.

In early May, it was announced that Princess Charlotte would marry--in the presence of all those Crowned Heads (!)--William, the Prince of Orange, who had already arrived in Harwich and was travelling under the name of "Captain H. George".  This royal wedding was to be the highlight of the royal visitation!

It was all to be a Peace Celebration such as the world had never seen, and the Brits were ready to party!  Or were they?

May went by without any royal visitors arriving.  By the end of the month, it was said that the Austrian Emperor would not be visiting at all, and that the Tsar's visit was also delayed.

Then, at last, on 3 June, the Foreign Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, arrived back in Dover (following his six months abroad representing Britain in the Allied sovereigns' control tent) with the details of the Treaty of Paris which had ended France's hegemony in Europe, and the announcement that the sovereigns would be arriving on the following Monday.

The Dover Road was besieged by those wishing to get a glimpse of the Royal Liberators.  Carriages and foot-traffic alike battled for position along the road.  Union Jacks were flying as were the flags of the Allied nations--Prussia, Russia and Austria.  But they were to be disappointed.

The sovereigns didn't land until late that night.  Word also spread that other illustrious visitors had slipped ashore late Sunday evening--a company of Don Cossacks, the Austrian foreign minister, Prince Metternich, the Russian commander, Count Barclay de Tolly...

London waited too as the east wind grew colder. (Read entire post.)
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The Lady and Her Monsters

A book review from the Wall Street Journal:
Much of Ms. Montillo's journey is familiar, since Mary Shelley was quite explicit about the sources for "Frankenstein," especially in the revised 1831 edition. She recorded her debt to the daring speculations of Erasmus Darwin, Charles's grandfather, about the spontaneous creation of life, and to the electrical researches of Aldini's uncle Luigi Galvani. She cited Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," with its frozen polar wastes and specters of "Nightmare Life-in-Death," which as an 8-year-old child she had heard the poet recite in her father's parlor, and she made several dark allusions to the alchemical experiments of Paracelsus and Cornelius Agrippa, two Medieval figures with whom Percy had become obsessed during his studies at Oxford.

Finally, Mary Shelley recalled the stormy summer night in 1816 at the Villa Diodati in Switzerland with Shelley, Lord Byron and Dr. John Polidori, when she first saw Victor Frankenstein and his creature in a waking dream: "the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together." Once her authorship of the anonymous text became known, it would become impossible not to read the tale also in the light of her own tribulations: her forced exile from England; her wanderings in Europe; the loss of her baby in 1815 and the premature deaths of Shelley and Byron that were shortly to follow.

Tracing the genesis and themes of "Frankenstein" has long been a thriving field of study. In the past five years alone, the galvanic experiments of Aldini and others have been thoroughly examined by Iwan Morus in "Shocking Bodies" (2011); Andy Dougan has exposed the murky hinterland of autopsy and bodysnatching in "Raising the Dead: The Men Who Created Frankenstein" (2008); and Daisy Hay has retold the tangled tale of the Shelleys, Byron and their overheated milieu in "Young Romantics" (2010). Roseanne Montillo lists none of these titles in her short bibliography and breaks little fresh ground either in detail or interpretation; she aims at a lively tour d'horizon for the reader coming to the story for the first time, and she chases down its familiar strands with macabre relish.

This is equally a literary and a scientific endeavor: Much of the fascination with the roots of "Frankenstein" lies in the dazzling polymaths of Mary's social circle, who in no way observed the modern divide between science and the humanities. Humphry Davy composed florid romantic poetry as well as discovering sodium and potassium; Coleridge studied chemistry and wrote that when he attended Davy's scientific lectures, his "motive muscles tingled and contracted" with excitement. William Godwin was the most radical political theorist of his day, yet owed much of his public reputation to his novels and children's books. Percy Shelley burned the midnight oil over not just sonnets but galvanic batteries and "strange and fiery liquids." "Frankenstein's" subtitle, "the modern Prometheus," pays tribute to Percy's self-declared mission to bring the fire of the gods to humanity by any means necessary, whether science or sorcery, poetry or revolution. (Read entire review.)
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Dark Age of America

Smithsonian reports on the violence and slavery of the early days, saying:
Bailyn does not let either of the two adversary cultures off the hook. He recounts little vignettes of the original inhabitants’ behavior such as this: Following the ambush of four Dutch traders, Bailyn quotes a report, one “had been eaten after having [been] well roasted. The [other two] they burnt. The Indians carried a leg and an arm home to be divided amongst their families.”

And, on the other side, consider that fixture of grade school Thanksgiving pageants, Miles Standish, an upstanding, godly Pilgrim stalwart who does not at all seem the sort of man who would have cut off the head of a chief and “brought it back to Plymouth in triumph [where] it was displayed on the blockhouse together with a flag made of a cloth soaked in the victim’s blood.” (Happy Thanksgiving!)

“What happened,” Bailyn continues, “is a legacy of brutality in intercultural relations developed through this period of which, of course, the overwhelming legacy was slavery.” Bailyn points out that although there were only “a few thousand” slaves in the colonies toward the end of King Philip’s War in the 1670s, when he concludes The Barbarous Years, “The rules for chattel slavery were set.” (Read entire article.)
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Jane Austen and the Marriage of Convenience

Jane turned down a highly advantageous marriage because she was not in love with the young man. Others were not so romantic. To quote:
Marriage provided women with financial security. Henry Tilney of Northanger Abbeyexplains, “… in both [marriage and a country dance], man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal: that in both, it is an engagement between man and woman, formed for the advantage of each.” Women of Austen’s gentry class had no legal identity. No matter how clever the woman might be, finding a husband was the only option. A woman could not buy property or write a will without her husband’s approval. If a woman was fortunate, she would bring to her marriage a settlement – money secured for her when she came of age – usually an inheritance from her mother. The oldest son or male heir received the family estate, and the unmarried or widowed females lived on his kindness.

The ladies of Sense and Sensibility have this reality thrust upon them when Uncle Dashwood changes his will and leaves Norland to his grandnephew. In Uncle Dashwood’s thinking, this change will keep Norland in the Dashwood family. However, the four Dashwood ladies suddenly find themselves living in a modest cottage with an income of £500 annually. As such, they have no occasion for visits to London unless someone else assumes the expenses. Their social circle shrinks, and the opportunities to meet eligible suitors becomes nearly non-existent. With dowries of £1000 each, the Dashwood sisters are not likely to attract a man who will improve their lots.

Jane Austen, herself, lived quite modestly. The Austens lived frugally among the country gentry. The Austen sisters were well educated by the standards of the day, but without chances for dowries, Jane and Cassandra possessed limited prospects. Jane met a Mr. Blackall the year Cassandra lost her Mr. Fowle. In a letter, Blackall expressed to Mrs. Lefroy a desire to know Jane better; yet, he confided, “But at present I cannot indulge any expectation of it.” To which, Jane Austen responded, “This is rational enough. There is less love and more sense in it than sometimes appeared before, and I am very well satisfied.” Imperfect opportunities were Jane Austen’s reality. In 1802, Jane Austen accepted an offer of marriage from Harris Bigg. With this marriage, Jane would have become the mistress of Manydown.

Yet, despite her affection for the family, Austen could not deceive Bigg. The following morning, she refused the man’s proposal. Whether she thought to some day find another or whether Austen accepted the fact that her refusal doomed her to a life as a spinster, we shall never know. In the “limited” world in which Jane Austen lived, she could not have known her eventual influence on the literary canon. (Read entire post.)
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Monday, February 25, 2013

The Duchesse de Berry as a Fashion Plate

Caroline of Naples, like her great aunt Marie-Antoinette, was regarded as queen of the fashion world of 1820's Paris. To quote:
This print appeared in L’Observateur des Modes No. 479 and was published in Paris sometime between 1818-1823. It’s hand colored and the description at the bottom translated from French into English reads:
Hairstyle decorated with feathers, smooth crepe and branches of an olive tree; the composition of Mr. Peulier, Hairdresser of S.A.R.M. Madame Duchesse de Berry. Wrap is furnished for autumn with crepe weave rods and satin nodes; cashmere fur-lined coat of India doublee of satin and furnished with grebe…
 (Read entire post.)

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The French Revolution and Catholicism

This is a very good summary. It is important to remember that the anti-Catholicism of  the French Revolution did not spring out of nowhere; the seeds had long been planted. According to Christopher Dawson:
The Enlightenment is most completely represented by the group of intelligentsia which called themselves “the philosophes” and organized the publication of the French Encyclopedia in the middle of the century. Their propaganda was directed above all against the Church and all forms of organized religion, and it was not primarily concerned with political change. But its unbounded faith in the unlimited power of reason to change human behavior and social institutions lies at the root of the whole program of legislative reform during the early years of the Revolution.

It is true that this belief in the power of reason was not confined to the philosophes alone, but was shared by the very influential group of the Economists, the disciples of Quesnay and Gournay. These were not irresponsible men of letters, but serious administrators and statesmen, and they were equally representative of the spirit of the Enlightenment in their unbounded faith in the possibility of the immediate transformation of society by radical reforms.

But the most important element in the revolutionary ideology had its origin not in the rationalism of the Enlightenment, but in the movement of democratic idealism which had many of the characteristics of a new religion and which in fact became for a few decisive years the established religion of the French Republic. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, its originator, was a typical example of that restless, perpetually dissatisfied class — the revolutionary intelligentsia. Like so many of his successors he was a man of religious instincts who had lost his religious roots, and who laid the blame for his own unhappiness and instability on the disordered state of the society in which he lived. He was a moral optimist and a historical pessimist, asserting the goodness of man and nature and the corruption of contemporary society. Yet at the same time he was ready to idealize the State and he was prepared to offer it unlimited homage, if only the will of the people could be substituted for the authority of the law, and the doctrines of the Churches replaced by the religion of nature and natural morality.

Yet in spite of this radical breach with historical Christianity, there is no doubt that Rousseau’s social idealism was a reaction against the secularization of the modern state and an attempt to recover that sense of spiritual community which Christian society possessed in the past. For Rousseau’s fundamental principle of the equality of man is a spiritual principle analogous to the doctrine of Christian fellowship rather than to the political rights of a citizen, and the related principle of fraternity is obviously derived from the Christian combination of Christian fellowship with charity rather than from the political relation of citizenship to civil behavior or public spirit.

It was Rousseau who transformed the natural religion of the philosophers into a religious cult which appealed to something deeper than reason in human nature. And thus it was under the influence of Rousseau’s ideals that the French Revolution was hailed as the regeneration of humanity, and the democracy of the First French Republic was felt to be more than a state — a spiritual community, the Church of the new humanity. (Read entire post.)
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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Quelle surprise!

Marie-Antoinette's private theater was redecorated in scarlet (above) during the July Monarchy of 1830 by her niece Marie-Amelie. It has now been restored to its former elegance (below).


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Alain Besançon on Benedict XVI, the "Glory of the Olive"

L'Osservatore Romano quotes French historian and author Alain Besançon:
“John Paul II fought against a monstrous political regime: Communism, but he had society and all of humanity on his side. Benedict XVI has the whole of modern society, born out of the crisis of the 60s, with its new morality and new religiosity, against him.

Pope Benedict “finds himself in a situation similar to that of Paul VI after Vatican II, in confronting what he called ‘the self-destruction’ of the Church. This time the self-destruction is of all of society, nature and reason. The glory of his pontificate is not visible: it is that of martyrdom.” (Read entire article.)

Dr. Taylor Marshall discusses Pope Benedict's agony and the agony of the Church and how it ties in with the St. Malachy Prophecy of the Popes. To quote:
But Why is Benedict XVI the "Glory of the Olive"?

Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night He was betrayed, after the Last Supper, went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. We Catholics know this as the First Sorrowful Mystery, the Agony in the Garden.
The word Gethsemane in Hebrew is: גת שמנים‎ and it means "olive oil press." In fact, the Garden of Gethsemane is located at the Mount of Olives.
The Agony of the Garden among the olive trees is the prelude to the Passion of Christ! The episode at the Mount of Olives is the beginning of the redemptive sorrows ending in the crucifixion and death of Christ.
So likewise, Pope Benedict's sorrowful agony as Pope may be the prelude to the final Passion of Christ's Church. His papacy is the glory of the olive because he was placed in the Agony of the Garden for the Church. All have fallen asleep. He is betrayed by his closest friends and counselors. He is all alone. He is staring into the chalice of God's wrath and he is asking that it be taken from him!
“And they came to a farm called Gethsemani. And he saith to his disciples: Sit you here, while I pray. And he taketh Peter and James and John with him: and he began to fear and to be heavy. And he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death. Stay you here and watch. And when he was gone forward a little, he fell flat on the ground: and he prayed that, if it might be, the hour might pass from him. And he saith: Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:32–36, D-R)
Pope Benedict is alone and he may know that we are about to enter into the Passion of the Catholic Church. The abdication may confirm that Pope Benedict is the Glory of the Olive. He is asking God to "remove this chalice from me." (Read entire post.)
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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rapunzel

 Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold, and when she heard the voice of the enchantress, she unfastened her braided tresses, wound them round one of the hooks of the window above, and then the hair fell twenty ells down, and the enchantress climbed up by it....
After a year or two, it came to pass that the king's son rode through the forest and passed by the tower. Then he heard a song, which was so charming that he stood still and listened. It was Rapunzel, who in her solitude passed her time in letting her sweet voice resound. The king's son wanted to climb up to her, and looked for the door of the tower, but none was to be found. He rode home, but the singing had so deeply touched his heart, that every day he went out into the forest and listened to it.  ~from "Rapunzel" by the Brothers Grimm



After seeing Tangled, Disney's rendition of "Rapunzel", I began googling away to discover what are the generally accepted meanings of the symbolism in the fairy tale. Over and over again I came upon the idea that the story illustrates the dangers of overprotective parenting. I heartily disagree. Mother Gothel the witch is not Rapunzel's parent but her kidnapper and abuser. Locking Rapunzel away from the world in a tower has nothing to do with protection or even over-protection but with having absolute power over the body and mind of the teenager. There is a big difference between genuine discipline, where the person acquires healthy self-control, and manipulation, in which one person is controlled by another. In the older versions of the tale, Rapunzel becomes pregnant by the young prince who visits her. How typical it is of an abused girl to give herself to the first man who comes along!

The fact that the story of Rapunzel has echoes of the legend of Saint Barbara, popular in the Middle Ages, show that the basis of the story is not loving protection but cruelty and abuse. St. Barbara was a Christian virgin whose pagan father locked her away in a tower. When he discovered that she was a Christian, he mistreated her before handing her over to the magistrate to be tortured to death. What we have here is not so much the teen trying to rebel against a sheltered upbringing, but a horror story such as we occasionally hear in the news even today, about a young person locked away by a psychopath for some twisted purpose.

The Disney version is greatly sanitized compared to the traditional versions and even other contemporary ones. The early renditions of Rapunzel were not children's stories at all. According to Terri Windling:
Maiden–in–a–Tower stories can be found in folk traditions around the world — but "Rapunzel," the best known of these stories, comes from literary sources. The version of "Rapunzel" we know today was published as a German folk tale by the Brothers Grimm in 1857 — but it's now believed that their "Rapunzel" was neither German nor a proper folk tale. Scholars have shown that a number of the storytellers from whom the Brothers Grimm obtained their material were recounting "authored" tales from German, French, and Italian literary sources rather than anonymous folk stories passed orally from teller to teller. The Grimms' "Rapunzel," for example, was derived from a story of the same name published by Friedrich Schultz in 1790 — which was a loose translation of an earlier French story, "Persinette" by Charlotte–Rose de La Force, published in 1698 at the height of the "adult fairy tale" literary movement in Paris. La Force's tale was influenced by an even earlier Italian story, "Petrosinella" by Giambattista Basile, published in 1634 in his story collection Lo cunto de li cunti (also known as the Pentamerone).

Each writer in this chain used folk motifs drawn from oral tales (associated with peasants and the countryside), reworking them into literary tales (for adult readers who were educated, urban, and upper–class). It is difficult, however, to draw a sharp line between folk tales and literary fairy tales, placing "Rapunzel" in one category or another — for after the Basile, La Force, and Schultz publications, "Rapunzel" slipped into the oral tradition of storytellers throughout the West, where it's now part of our folk culture even though it didn't start there.
In the Disney movie, the story is altered quite a bit so that Rapunzel is made into a lost princess and the prince is not a prince but a thief. There is no mention of the herb which Rapunzel's pregnant mother craved but rather there is a magic flower which brings healing. The film lacks the poignancy of the older tale by omitting the tragic interlude. Rapunzel's hair is shorn by the angry witch and she is sent to wander in the wilderness, alone and vulnerable and pregnant with twins. The prince is blinded by falling into a thorn bush after being pushed out of the tower by the witch. He too is doomed to wander for years, a blind beggar. Their mutual exiles and sufferings resemble in no small way the practices of medieval penitents. The beauty of the story is that when the prince and Rapunzel finally stumble into each other, they share a joy which has nothing to do with beauty or wealth or possessions. The prince's blindness is healed by the tears of his bride. It is fitting, and has often been the case, that a man who truly loves is moved to transformation by the tears of his spouse. It is then that they are able at last to enter into the kingdom, and the tale ends thus:
He led her to his kingdom where he was joyfully received, and they lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented. 

More about Rapunzel at Sur la Lune.

More about the Disney film, HERE.

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Parties and Manners

Because at a party anything can happen. To quote:
Most people loosen up when enjoying a party, especially after a glass of wine — or three. Lowered inhibitions, however, can lead to uncomfortable or inappropriate discussions.

Should a fellow dinner-party guest say something sexist or racist, your indignation probably says: Confront him now. But that’s a mistake. “Instead, excuse yourself to the ladies’ room if you’re truly uncomfortable; never make a scene,” says Shriftman. “It’s rude to your host and the other guests, since a confrontation is likely to ruin the evening.”

You could also change the subject. Complimenting the food, for example, draws attention away from the uncouth guest and brings praise to your host — a double bonus!

If you must address the offender’s tactlessness, “say something later, one on one,” says Shriftman. And, take a non-combative approach, like this one: “It upset me when you made that joke, and I just needed to let you know how I feel.”

Above all, don’t let one comment ruin your evening. Take a deep breath and focus on the positive aspects of the night, like the chance to connect with friends. (Read entire post.)
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Marie-Antoinette as a Vestal Virgin

By Jean-Frédéric Schall. 18th century. Vesta was the goddess of the hearth, home and family in the Roman religion. The Vestal Virgins were priestesses who maintained the sacred fire in honor of Vesta. The fact that the young Queen is shown as a Vestal Virgin signifies her role as mother to the people of France, as well as honoring the reputation for innocence and chastity which she had before the pamphlets destroyed it. More on the Vestals, HERE. Share

Beginnings and Re-Beginnings

From Fr. Mark:
The time of catering to the appetite for novelty, to the demands of itching ears, and to the voices of dissent repeating the latest secularist ideologies is over. Reflecting on the situation here in Ireland, it seems to me that "now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2) to begin afresh: with the liturgy, with God, with adoration. Operi Dei nihil praeponatur -- "Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God" (Rule of Saint Benedict 43:3). If this is, in fact, the supreme rule of the Council, then it must be the supreme rule for straightening the crooked paths of the past fifty years, for leveling the mountains of our accumulated ideological prejudices, and for rebuilding, in the Holy Spirit, a temple worthy of the thrice-holy God: the Body of Christ, His Church. (Read entire post.)
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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Three Prophecies and a Dream

Of St. John Bosco. (I always prefer to read prophecies from saints and blesseds.) Here is an excerpt:
Thus says the Lord to the emperor of Austria: "Be of good cheer and look after My faithful servants and yourself. My wrath is now spilling over all the nations because they want to make people forget My laws, glorifying those who defile them and oppressing My faithful adherents. Will you be the rod of My power? Will out carry out My inscrutable design and become a benefactor of the world? Rely on the Northern Powers, but not on Prussia. Enter into relations with Russia, but form no alliance. Join forces with Catholic France; after France, you shall have Spain. All together, become one in will and action.68

"Observe absolute secrecy with the enemies of My holy name. Prudence and vigor will make you and your allies invincible. Do not believe the lies of whoever tells you otherwise. Abhor the enemies of the Cross. Put your hope and trust in Me. I make armies victorious. I am the Savior of nations and sovereign. Amen. Amen." (Read more.)
Poor Franz Josef! If the Emperor had followed this advice, World War I would have been prevented.  Here is St. John's famous dream of the two columns:
“As escorts to that majestic fully equipped ship, there are many smaller ships, which receive commands by signal from it and carry out movements to defend themselves from the opposing fleet. In the midst of the immense expanse of sea, two mighty columns of great height arise a little distance the one from the other. On the top of one, there is the statue of the Immaculate Virgin, from whose feet hangs a large placard with this inscription: Auxilium Christianorum—”Help of Christians”; on the other, which is much higher and bigger, stands a Host of great size proportionate to the column and beneath is another placard with the words: Salus Credentium—Salvation of the Faithful.

“The supreme commander of the big ship is the Sovereign Pontiff. He, seeing the fury of the enemies and the evils among which his faithful find themselves, determines to summon around himself the captains of the smaller ships to hold a council and decide what is to be done.

“All the captains come aboard and gather around the Pope. They hold a meeting, but meantime the wind and the waves gather in storm, so they are sent back to control their own ships. There comes a short lull; for a second time the Pope gathers the captains around him, while the flag-ship goes on its course. But the frightful storm returns. The Pope stands at the helm and all his energies are directed to steering the ship towards those two columns from whose summits hang many anchors and strong hooks linked to chains.

“All the enemy ships move to attack it, and they try in every way to stop it and to sink it: some with books and writings or inflammable materials, of which they are full; others with firearms, with rifles and with rams. The battle rages ever more relentlessly. The enemy prows thrust violently, but their efforts and impact prove useless. They make attempts in vain and waste all their labor and ammunition; the big ship goes safely and smoothly on its way. Sometimes it happens that, struck by formidable blows, it gets large, deep gaps in its sides; but no sooner is the harm done that a gentle breeze blows from the two columns and the cracks close up and the gaps are stopped immediately.

“Meanwhile, the guns of the assailants are blown up, the rifles and other arms and prows are broken; many ships are shattered and sink into the sea. Then, the frenzied enemies strive to fight hand to hand, with fists, with blows, with blasphemy and with curses.

“Suddenly the Pope falls gravely wounded. Immediately, those who are with him run to help him and they lift him up. A second time the Pope is struck, he falls again and dies. A shout of victory and joy rings out amongst the enemies; from their ships an unspeakable mockery arises.

“But hardly is the Pontiff dead than another takes his place. The pilots, having met together, have elected the Pope so promptly that the news of the death of the Pope coincides with the news of the election of the successor. The adversaries begin to lose courage.

“The new Pope, putting the enemy to rout and overcoming every obstacle, guides the ship right up to the two columns and comes to rest between them; he makes it fast with a light chain that hangs from the bow to an anchor of the column on which stands the Host; and with another light chain which hangs from the stern, he fastens it at the opposite end to another anchor hanging from the column on which stands the Immaculate Virgin.

“At this point, a great convulsion takes place. All the ships that until then had fought against the Pope’s ship are scattered; they flee away, collide and break to pieces one against another. Some sink and try to sink others. Several small ships that had fought gallantly for the Pope race to be the first to bind themselves to those two columns. Many other ships, having retreated through fear of the battle, cautiously watch from far away; the wrecks of the broken ships having been scattered in the whirlpools of the sea, they in their turn sail in good earnest to those two columns, and having reached them, they make themselves fast to the hooks hanging down from them and their they remain safe, together with the principal ship, on which is the Pope. Over the sea their reigns a great calm.”

(From Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco, compiled and edited by Fr. J. Bacchiarello, S.D.B.)

Many think this vision describes our own time. (More HERE.) Share

The Exoneration of Pope Pius XII

The truth keeps coming out.
Pius XII has long been vilified as 'Hitler's Pope' because he failed to publicly to condemn the genocide of Europe's Jews. Now British author Gordon Thomas says he has found extensive material that Vatican insiders believe will reveal the part that the pontiff played in saving lives and opposing Nazism.

Mr Thomas, a Protestant, was given access to previously unpublished Vatican documents and tracked down victims, priests and others who had not told their stories before. The Pope's Jews, which will be published next month, details how Pius gave his blessing to the establishment of safe houses in the Vatican and Europe's convents and monasteries. He oversaw a secret operation with code names and fake documents for priests who risked their lives to shelter Jews, some of whom were even made Vatican subjects. Mr Thomas shows that priests were instructed to issue baptism certificates to hundreds of Jews hidden in Genoa, Rome and elsewhere in Italy.

More than 2,000 Jews in Hungary were given fabricated Vatican documents identifying them as Catholics and a network saved German Jews by bringing them to Rome. The pope appointed a priest with extensive funds with which to provide food, clothing and medicine. More than 4,000 Jews were hidden in convents and monasteries across Italy.

During and immediately after the war, the pope was considered a Jewish saviour. Jewish leaders – such as Jerusalem's chief rabbi in 1944 – said the people of Israel would never forget what he and his delegates 'are doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters at the most tragic hour'.

Jewish newspapers in Britain and America echoed that praise, and Hitler branded him 'a Jew lover'. (Read entire article.)
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Camille Claudel

The gifted sculptress and sister of the writer Paul Claudel. To quote:
It was during this time Camille Claudel met Auguste Rodin. Although, no records survive describing their initial meeting, it is known that when Rodin received his first major commissions in the early 1880s, he gathered together a team of assistants to work alongside him in his studio, which Camille Claudel became a part of in 1884. She apparently spent most of her time on difficult pieces, such as the hands and feet of figures for monumental sculptures notably The Gates of Hell.  For Claudel, this was an intensive period of training under Rodin’s supervision: she learned about his profiles method and the importance of expression. In tandem, she pursued her own investigations, accepted her first commissions and sought recognition as an independent artist at the Salon. Between 1882 and 1889, Claudel regularly exhibited busts and portraits of people close to her at the Salon des Artistes Français. Largely thanks to Léon Gauchez, Rodin’s friend the Belgian art dealer and critic, several of her works were purchased by French museums during the 1890s. Claudel’s works during this period attest to Rodin’s influence: the Torso of a Standing Woman (c.1888) and the Torso of a Crouching Woman (1884-85) show how she had grasped the expressive potential of a fragment of the human body. (Read entire post.)
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Ask Sir James

A review by author Stephanie Cowell:
The story behind the genesis of this biography of the Victorian physician Sir James Reid who died in 1923 is almost as fascinating as the story itself.  The physician’s grandson inherited Sir James’ home of Ellon Castle in Aberdeenshire.  And his wife, on a cleaning spree one day, peered into a dark cupboard. Among the dusty albums was a large cash box containing forty small pocket diaries written in neat tiny handwriting which proved to be a meticulous daily account of Sir James’ life as he worked with his most famous royal patient and her family.  Michaela Reid read the diaries and pored through the dusty scrap albums to write her biography ASK SIR JAMES.  But she was never able to study the medical diaries and something called the Green Memo Book because they were burned for the sake of discretion by Sir James’ son. (Read entire post.)
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Children's Toys from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

From Irish Archaeology:
The toys were described as ‘street toys’ and a quick review of the collection certainly brings to mind a hustle and bustle of rowdy out-of-doors play. The broadly contemporary painting The fight between Carnival and Lent by Pieter Brueghel the Elder gives a vivid impression of toys like these being used in a busy Dutch street (see previous image). Additionally, the same artist has left us a fascinatingly insightful inventory of as many as eighty types of games played by contemporary children in Holland his painting Children’s Toys. Interestingly, the church where the toys were found is located right next to a Grammar School which was in existence at the time the toys would have been used. This gives an idea as to the source of toy-owners; but how did the toys come to be blocked up in a disused stairwell? (Read entire article.)
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The Magdalene Laundries

Setting the record straight. From The Telegraph:
The publication last week of the Irish government's McAleese Report on the Magdalene laundries has proved kind of awkward for Catholic-bashers. For if McAleese's thorough, 1,000-page study is to be believed, then it would appear that those laundries were not as evil and foul as they had been depicted over the past decade. Specifically the image of the laundries promoted by the popular, much-lauded film The Magdalene Sisters – which showed them as places where women were stripped, slapped, sexually abused and more – has been called into question by McAleese. This has led even The Irish Times, which never turns down an opportunity to wring its hands over Catholic wickedness, to say: "There is no escaping the fact that the [McAleese] report jars with popular perceptions."

In the Irish mind, and in the minds of everyone else who has seen or read one of the many films, plays and books about the Magdalene laundries, these were horrific institutions brimming with violence and overseen by sadistic, pervy nuns. Yet the McAleese Report found not a single incident of sexual abuse by a nun in a Magdalene laundry. Not one. Also, the vast majority of its interviewees said they were never physically punished in the laundries. As one woman said, "It has shocked me to read in papers that we were beat and our heads shaved and that we were badly treated by the nuns… I was not touched by any nun and I never saw anyone touched." The small number of cases of corporal punishment reported to McAleese consisted of the kind of thing that happened in many normal schools in the 1960s, 70s and 80s: being caned on the legs or rapped on the knuckles. The authors of the McAleese Report, having like the rest of us imbibed the popular image of the Magdalene laundries as nun-run concentration camps, seem to have been taken aback by "the number of women who spoke positively about the nuns". (Read entire article.)

Via The Hermeneutic of Continuity. Share

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Breton Mystic and the Royal Family

Marie-Julie Jahenny (1850-1941) was a Breton mystic whose stigmata was declared genuine by Monseigneur Fournier, the Bishop of Nantes. For decades Marie-Julie received insights and revelations concerning the past, present and the future. A member of the papal household, the Marquis de la Franquerie, who was personally acquainted with the seer, wrote Marie-Julie's biography, available online in English, HERE. As with any private revelation, even those which have been approved, it is good to read with discernment, remembering that we are free to believe or disbelieve as we choose. In the biography, the Marquis describes the following incident:
After the Revolution my family spread the cult of Madame Elizabeth of France, being steadfastly faithful to the Family of our Kings. Madame Elisabeth had just worked a miracle on our behalf (the birth of little Elisabeth who should never have been born, now the mother of four children). Soon after this miracle, a librarian of second-hand books to whom I often went and who knew of our attachment the Royal Family, showed me a book of the eighteenth century on which was written the prayer said by Madame Elisabeth, the prayer was signed Elisabeth-Marie. Without giving me further information he asked me to find out if the signature was really that of the Martyr Princess. I left a few days later in order to assist at an ecstasy of Marie-Julie and I took the book with me....I arrived when the ecstasy had already begun, I then placed the book on the knees of Marie-Julie, who did not know I was there. She immediately confirmed the authenticity of the relic and described Madame Elizabeth crowned in Heaven. (pp.20-21)
Marie-Julie spoke a great deal about future chastisements which would befall the world in general and France in particular, many of which have since come to pass even as she prophesied. She is one of the many mystics who describe a future "Three Days Darkness" as well as the coming of a great King, whom she told the Marquis would be of the blood of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. (p.51) Marie-Julie said Our Lady called them the King and Queen Martyrs. On four different occasions the Mother Of God told the seer that in the reign of the great and future King, Louis XVI would at last be glorified, which I assume means canonized. (p.49)


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Liturgical Intervention

Some wisdom from Catholic writer and speaker Louie Verrecchio. To quote:
In thinking about state of the liturgy in our day and this widely accepted idea that it would somehow be imprudent for the Holy Father to legislate more or less immediate correction via proclamation, the A&E program Intervention came to mind.

For those unfamiliar, Intervention is a “reality” series that documents the lives of drug abusers, detailing the upheaval and heartache experienced by the family and friends of an addict who is slowly committing suicide. While each episode is somewhat different in the details, there are a number of common themes in nearly all of the stories.

In every one that I’ve seen, the parents of the addict have unintentionally participated in their child’s demise, creating havoc for the entire family, by “enabling” the abuser’s self- destructive behavior over a period of many years.

When confronted by a substance abuse expert with the horrible reality that, apart from an immediate and drastic correction, the family can count on nothing but increased heartache as their loved one continues to barrel headlong toward certain death, the parents often resist, striking a tone remarkably similar to the one previously mentioned.

“I’ll wean him off of my financial support over time… I’ll cut back on the amount I allow her to drink in my home… I’ll let him live here until he finds another place to go…”

Ultimately, at least in the more successful cases, the parents end up realizing that there’s really no such thing as “a little enabling” when it comes to such grave matters of life and death.

A perfect analogy? Of course not, but I think you get the drift.

Is it really the case that those who dwell in the House of God are truly better off when the Papa in whom authority rests is resistant to the notion of leveling drastic corrective measures, in favor of tolerating for “just a little longer” many of the serious liturgical abnormalities and aberrations to which all concerned have grown accustomed?

If the answer is no, as I for one believe it is, then perhaps the following legislative acts concerning the sacred liturgy might be considered worthy of immediate enactment by the next Holy Roman Pontiff.

- Rescinding the indult for Communion in the hand
- Disallowing female altar servers
- Requiring the ad orientem posture (the so-called “Benedictine arrangement” being insufficient)
- Requiring the use of the Latin language, at minimum, for the ordinary of the Mass
- Forbidding the use of popular hymnody as a substitute for the liturgical texts
- Forbidding the use of profane instruments apart from the direct (and rare) approval of the Holy See
- Setting strict requirements that will henceforth make the use of EMHC’s exceedingly rare
- Eliminating the “sign of peace” among the assembly

Surely there are more liturgical matters that deserve immediate correction, but this would be a good start. (Read entire post.)
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Poufs

From Gio:
Leonard Antid is supposed to have excelled in the art of placing poufs of gauze, which were introduced between the locks, and one day he employed for that purpose about 14 yards of gauze for one hairdress. But all these poufs differed greatly from the pouf aux sentiments owing to their simplicity; they also required no assistance from the milliner. The pouf aux sentiments could contain such various objects as fruit, flowers, vegetables, stuffed birds, dolls, and many other things giving expression to the tastes, the preferences, and the sentiments, of the wearer. (Read entire post.)
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Lightning Bolts

Author Emmett O'Regan analyzes the prophecies of Blessed Elizabeth Canori-Mora (1774-1825):
 The prophecies of Bl. Elizabeth Canori-Mora (1774-1825) concerning the future persecution of a pope have some interesting affinities with the rather profound words of Pope Benedict XVI at his inaugural address: "Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves". (See the full text of the Holy Father's inaugural address here). These words appear to reference Jesus' prophecy of the persecution of Christians in Matt 10, where Christ depicts the disciples as sheep surrounded by wolves:
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
(Matt 10:16-22).
But the Holy Father's words also appear to echo the prophecies of Bl. Elizabeth Canori-Mora (you can find some biographical information on Bl. Elizabeth at Catholic Online here), which are strongly reminiscent of those of Fatima. At the request of her confessor, Bl Elizabeth began to record her revelations, which ended up spanning hundreds of notebooks, and are now stored in the archives of the Trinitarian Fathers at San Carlino, Rome.

On 22nd March, 1814, Bl. Elizabeth was praying for Pope Pius VII, when she suddenly had a vision of the Holy Father being persecuted by a pack of "wolves": During this vision, she saw the pope:
surrounded by wolves who plotted to betray him… I saw the Sanhedrin of wolves which surrounded the Pope, and two angels weeping… when I asked them why they were sad and lamenting, looking upon Rome with eyes full of compassion they responded, ‘Wretched city, ungrateful people, the justice of God will chastise you.’
The two angels in this vision recall the two angels of the Third Secret of Fatima, who gather the blood of the martyrs during the Great Tribulation:
Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.
In the earlier posts The Two Witnesses and Prophecies of the Martyr-Pope, we discussed how these two angels appear to represent the two cherubim which adorned the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, and that they also may symbolise the Two Witnesses described in the Book of Revelation.

Bl. Elizabeth continued to receive private revelations concerning the plight of the pope, and on 16th Jan 1815, she stated that angels showed her:
'many ecclesiastics who persecute Jesus Crucified and His holy Gospel under the guise of doing good… Like furious wolves they scheme to pull the Church leader down from his throne.' Then she was allowed to see the terrible indignation these wolves aroused in God. 'In terror I saw the blazing lightening bolts of Divine Justice fall about me. I saw buildings collapsing in ruins. Cities, regions and the whole world fell into chaos. One heard nothing but countless weak voices calling out for mercy. Countless people will be killed. [I saw that God was] extremely angry with those who persecute Him. His omnipotent hands were holding bolts of lightening, His face was resplendent with indignation and His gaze alone was enough to incinerate the whole world.'
(Read entire post.)
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Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Prophecy of Blessed Tomasuccio de Foligno

Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt
I just discovered an interesting blog about Catholic prophecy called Unveiling the Apocalypse. Here is a post about the prophecies of a Franciscan friar, Blessed Tomasuccio, who also singled out the year 2012 as the beginning of a great change for the Church and the world, as did Fr. Thibaut, as I have mentioned previously. This post on Unveiling was written last year, before anyone knew that Pope Benedict would be resigning. To quote:
An interesting prophecy connected to the year 2012 was supposedly made by a Franciscian monk named Bl. Tomasuccio de Foligno, who lived between the years 1319-1377. I'm still in the process of attempting to validate this prophecy, but so far there are several factors pointing to its authenticity. The prophecy is cited in a book called Miscellanea Francescana 1, edited by M. Faloci Pulignani, dating to 1886 - long before the prophetic significance of the year 2012 for the Meso-American cultures was discovered after the decipherment of the Mayan glyphs in the mid-20th century. This book in turn appears to base at least some of its information on a facsimile dating to the late 15th century called Legenda de' Beati del Terzo Ordine Sancto Francisco, (ed L. Temperini, Rome: Editrice Franciscanum, 1996), which contains the Legenda of Bl. Tomasuccio de Foligno - as recorded by his companion and disciple Giusto della Rosa. Although I don't have access to this particular book to confirm that the prophecy is actually included there, so would be grateful if anyone else out there can confirm this. Known as The Worthy Shepherd Prophecy, Bl. Tomasuccio's vision is a variation of the Angelic Pope prophecies, which details how a future pontiff will heal the Church of schism following a time of turmoil:
One from beyond the mountains shall become the Vicar Of God. Religious and clerics shall take part in this change. Outside the true path, there will be only disreputable men; I shrug my shoulders when the Bark of Peter is in danger and there is no one to lend it help... The schismatic shall fall into the scorn of the Italian faithful... By about twelve years shall the millennium have passed when the resplendent mantle of legitimate power shall emerge from the shadows where it was being kept by the schism. And beyond harm from the one who is blocking the door of salvation, for his deceitful schism shall have come to an end. And the mass of the faithful shall attach itself to the worthy Shepherd, who shall extricate each one from error and restore to the Church its beauty. He shall renew it.
Of course the most interesting aspect of this prophecy is the fact that it points to the time of the Second Pentecost to twelve years past the millennium - the year 2012. This would thus correspond with the contention of various commentators on the 2012 phenomenon that the Maya believed that this period would mark a major shift in spiritual thought, rather than being the date of a world-destroying cataclysm.
(Read entire post.)

(See my posts on The Last Pope? and St. Malachy's List.) Share

Coiffures of the Past

A hairdresser recreates ancient hairdos.
In recent years, Ms. Stephens has reconstructed the styles of ancient royals including Faustina the Younger and Empress Plotina—sometimes on live models. Last year she gave a presentation at an Archaeological Institute of America conference in Philadelphia in which she lined up several mannequin heads.

"It was like a bad science-fair project," she says. "I had no idea what I was doing." Also speaking that day: a researcher with new insight into spearheads from the Iron Age in South Italy.

There is one hairstyle that Ms. Stephens says she hasn't been able to find a real, live model to submit to. The style, seen on an ancient Roman sculpture known as the Fonseca Bust, boasts a tall, horseshoe-shaped pile of curls in the front that would involve cutting the model's hair. "It's like a mullet from hell," she says.
At the cavernous, Buddha-filled Baltimore salon where Ms. Stephens is employed, her fellow stylists find her archaeology work a bit mysterious. Nevertheless, they occasionally model for her Roman re-creations. (Read entire article.)
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Friday, February 15, 2013

Petrus Romanus: The Last Pope?


It has taken me a few days to absorb the news of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. As I continue to process it, I have noticed that the traffic on my blog has risen dramatically from people searching for information on St. Malachy, Fr. René Thibaut, S.J. and the Prophecy of the Popes. My posts on these topics are HERE. This surge in curiosity is due to the last phrase of St. Malachy's Prophecy which says: "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people.” Fr. Thibaut, a Belgian Jesuit, believed the Prophecy to be authentic and wrote a work of scholarship about it called La Mystérieuse prophétie des papes. Fr. Thibaut surmised that the prophecy about "Peter the Roman" does not signify a future pope calling himself “Pope Peter II” but rather Petrus Romanus symbolizes all the Roman pontiffs since St. Peter, for the Church has continually undergone persecution of some kind.

For Fr. Thibaut and other scholars, the final pope mentioned on the list is given the mysterious title Gloriae olivae, “The Glory of the Olive.” Fr. Thibaut says that the olive represents the people of God whom His judgment will glorify. It is then, as Fr. Thibaut interprets, that the kingdom of God will be manifested in an extraordinary manner. Benedict XVI is De gloria olivae, the last pope on the list. Fr. Thibaut makes it clear that this does not indicate the end of the world but the end of an era. He also believes there will be other popes to follow. He claims that many factors point to 2012 as being the pivotal year for the start of the unfolding of a new era for the Church. It is cause for hope rather than trepidation, hope which inspires reverence, prayer and vigilance.

As to be expected, all kinds of rumors are flying around the internet. (Please be so kind as to remember that just because I link to something does not mean I agree with everything on the other side of the link. I merely want to share something that others may be interested in reading.) Many people, who have not had the blessing of reading Fr. Thibaut's book, think that the next pope will be the last pope and that he will have the name "Peter." And they are free to have an opinion since it is all speculation anyway. Spirit Daily shares the prophetic pulse, HERE.

In the meantime, Ronald Conte of Improperium Christi has studied prophetic literature for years and believes that Petrus Romanus will indeed be a single individual. Mr. Conte also thinks there will be many more popes after Petrus Romanus and he constructed a list inspired by St. Malachy's, based upon his own research on the subject. Written in 2011, some dates have since been revised, for obvious reasons. I do not think we can ever try to guess the time of the end of the world, since the Gospel makes it clear that it is known only to God. (See the blog post, HERE.)

Last summer, an article by Pat Archbold appeared in the National Catholic Register on Catholic prophecy and in the light of current events it is worth reading.

UPDATE: Terry Nelson on the next pope.

Why did Pope Benedict resign? Of course, there is loads of speculation, along with the Holy Father's assertion that due to his age it is for the good of the Church for him to resign. According to The Catholic Herald:
During his papacy Benedict XVI has rebuked his Curia several times, reminding officials that the Church should not seek power and richness, and that priests should not enter politics. But those who know about the Vatican cannot deny that power is a core business there, and seems to remain so despite Benedict XVI’s struggle. The Pope is, in his own mind, too old now, and passes on the torch to somebody younger, who will have the strength to continue his battle. (Read entire article.)
Pat Buchanan assesses the state of the Church in America:
In 1965, three in four American Catholics attended Sunday mass. Today, it is closer to one in four. The number of priests has fallen by a third, of nuns by two-thirds. Orders like the Christian Brothers have virtually vanished. The Jesuits are down to a fraction of their strength in the 1950s.

Parochial schools teaching 4.5 million children in the early 1960s were teaching a third of that number at the end of the century. Catholic high schools lost half their enrollment. Churches have been put up for sale to pay diocesan debts.

And the predator-priest sex-abuse scandal, with the offenses dating back decades, continues to suppurate and stain her reputation and extract billions from the Sunday collections of the abiding faithful. The highest-ranking Catholic politicians, Vice President Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, support same-sex marriage and belong to a party whose platform calls for funding abortions to the day of birth. Catholic teaching on contraception, divorce, and sexual morality is openly mocked. (Read entire article.)
Fr. Mark Kirby offers words of consolation:
The Holy Father has freely renounced his place on the Chair of Peter. Being on the Chair of Peter gave him a unique perspective on the world and on its transient glories, and on the Church universal and her sufferings. Obedient to the Spirit of God in him, he has chosen to forsake the public eye in order to live now "hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:2-3). This is the very essence of the monastic life: to be, like the Host, hidden, silent and, for all of that, intensely present.

Blessed John Paul II, in the public eye until the end, showed the Church and the world the power of suffering, frailty, and old age, assumed in union with the Cross of Jesus. Pope Benedict XVI, by disappearing from the public eye, will show us the inestimable value of silence, of separation from the world, and of remaining hidden with Christ in God.

Pope Benedict XVI will be remembered, I think, as the Pope of the Face of God. He has, from the very beginning of his pontificate until as recently as February 2nd, enjoined the faithful of the Church to fix their gaze upon the Human Face of God, the countenance of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Read entire post.)

 "But of that day and hour no one knoweth, not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone." Matthew 24:26 Share

Chivalry in the Modern World

The Knights of Malta today.
In 1113 Pope Paschal II formally recognised the independence of the Knights with a Papal bull, the original of which is still held in Malta's National Archives. The Knights have had a long history of displacement around the Mediterranean. After being evicted from Jerusalem by Saladin towards the end of the 12th Century, they set up a new headquarters in Cyprus, and subsequently on the island of Rhodes where they created an independent state. During the Middle Ages they were more warriors than hospitallers. For two centuries they were the masters of Malta but they were again evicted, this time by Napoleon who occupied the island on his way to Egypt. They finally settled in Rome in 1834, where they continue to enjoy many of the privileges of statehood, such as the power to appoint and receive ambassadors, print stamps, and issue passports, without actually having a real state to govern. (Read entire article.)

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Royal Entrance

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette greet the clergy as they arrive at church. Share

The Battle of the Sexes is Over

And no one won. To quote Suzanne Venker:
Prior to the 1970s, people viewed gender roles as as equally valuable. Many would argue women had the better end of the deal! It’s hard to claim women were oppressed in a nation in which men were expected to stand up when a lady enters the room or to lay down their lives to spare women life. When the Titanic went down in 1912, its sinking took 1,450 lives. Only 103 were women. One-hundred three.

Compare that with last year’s wrecked cruise line, the Costa Concordia. It resulted in fewer deaths, but there was another significant difference. “There was no ‘women and children first’ policy. There were big men, crew members, pushing their way past us to get into the lifeboats. It was disgusting,” said passenger Sandra Rogers, 62.

The captain of the ship agrees. In USA Today, Francesco Schettino was asked about his New Year’s resolution. He responded, “Bone up on the parts about ‘women and children first’ and ‘the captain goes down with his ship.’”

You see, the problem with equality is that it implies two things are interchangeable – meaning one thing can be substituted for the other with no ramifications. That is what feminists would have us believe, and anyone who contradicts this dogma is branded sexist...

The battle of the sexes is over. And guess what? No one won. (Read entire article.)
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Rape of Mary Queen of Scots

In spite of the black legend of the frivolous queen, Mary Stuart was a hard-working, business-like ruler. Furthermore, she did not have an affair with Bothwell. He kidnapped and raped her. From History Today:

Negative assessments of Mary’s qualities as ruler have virtually ignored the dispatches of Thomas Randolph, the English ambassador, who, although sometimes misled by Mary’s statements, usually was aware of her whereabouts. It is interesting that the register has no entries concerning her meetings with the council that Randolph witnessed. In 1561 he named five occasions, for example, when she consulted with the council that are not in the register. While absent, she was likely disposing of other business. On 17 February 1566, for instance, she reported to Sir Robert Melville, another ambassador, that she had just pardoned John Johnston for delivering English funds to her rebels and that, as Randolph was then conferring with her council, she immediately ordered him to leave her realm. His dispatches also reveal her interest in the law.

In 1563 she augmented the stipends of the lords of Session and replaced the old ecclesiastical courts with Edinburgh’s Commissary Court and provincial commissariats. Three years later her appointment of James Balfour of Pittendreich and others to revise Scotland’s laws resulted in the publication of the first complete edition of the acts of parliament, known as the Black Acts, a milestone in the history and use of statutory law.

Another measure of success is the willingness of rulers to be seen dispensing law and order throughout the realm. In her short personal reign, she stayed with 82 hosts in many parts of Scotland. She covered 1,200 miles between August 1562 and September 1563 and travelled extensively thereafter. Furthermore, in 1562, she approved a financial settlement for the Kirk. The holders of Catholic benefices retained two-thirds of their income for their lifetimes, and the crown confiscated the other one-third to cover governmental costs and to support Protestant ministers. This settlement accepted the existence of a two-structured church, one reformed, one Catholic, although priests were still forbidden to say mass except at court....


Leaving James in Bothwell’s and Huntly’s custody, Mary went into secluded mourning. Emerging in late March, she transferred her child to the charge of John, earl of Mar, at Stirling. Meanwhile, Lennox demanded that Darnley’s assailants be tried for murder. Scottish justice still relied on private individuals, especially among the nobility, to obtain remedy usually in the form of money compensation for injuries to their relatives. The privy council established a date for Lennox’s accusation of Bothwell in early April, but when Lennox failed to raise as many troops as Bothwell for the purpose of influencing the assize’s decision, the customary noble procedure, he fled to England, leaving Bothwell to be acquitted, since no evidence was introduced against him.

Bothwell took the opportunity his success offered to persuade some members of a recent parliament, while they were at Ainslie’s Tavern, to sign a band validating his acquittal and proposing that he wed Mary. On 24 April, as she was returning from visiting her son, Bothwell approached her with 800 horsemen, grabbed her bridle, and warned her it was dangerous to continue on to Edinburgh. She dispatched an attendant to alert the citizens who guessed that she was in trouble, but they managed only to fire their cannon as Bothwell’s forces sped by to Dunbar. There, after he raped her, she agreed to wed him. Like many other victims, she felt polluted and refused to reveal the violence for fear of being deemed immodest for speaking of such matters. To protect her honour, she was willing to endure religious and political censure.

That her abduction was opportunistic is indicated by the complication that Bothwell still needed to divorce his wife, Jean Gordon. Although Edinburgh’s Commissary Court granted the divorce, John Hamilton, archbishop of St Andrews, by virtue of his position as papal legate a latere, also annulled their union. Even before their Protestant wedding on 15 May, Mary’s subjects began signing bands that led to another rebellion. In early modern Britain, each female monarch or regent who married encountered strong opposition from her subjects.

Some observers believed that Mary colluded in the abduction because she needed a husband to help her rule Scotland; others charged her with aiding Bothwell in killing her husband. Validating these rumours requires disregarding the statements of the French ambassador in Scotland who claimed after the wedding, which he boycotted, that she never ceased weeping and was overheard contemplating suicide. The major evidence for the charge that she was Bothwell’s adulterous accomplice are the documents contained in a silver chest discovered at Edinburgh Castle, the so-called Casket Letters. As their French originals, if they ever existed, are no longer extant, it is impossible to conclude definitively about their authorship, although it borders on the incredible to believe that a woman, who learned in her childhood to cipher all sensitive correspondence, would have so radically rejected that training. As an English captive, she became famous for her use of ciphers. (Read entire post.)


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