Monday, March 31, 2014

Marie-Louise, Napoleon, and Little Napoleon

A series of reveries about another small boy who would never sit on the throne of France. (Via Tiny-Librarian.) Share

Overprotected Children

Yes, I ran all over the neighborhood and through the woods as a child and stayed out until it was dark. We played in creeks and came home covered with mud. How things have changed. I do understand why parents are extra vigilant. (I know that I am extra vigilant.) From The Atlantic:
As we parents began to see public spaces—playgrounds, streets, public ball fields, the distance between school and home—as dangerous, other, smaller daily decisions fell into place. Ask any of my parenting peers to chronicle a typical week in their child’s life and they will likely mention school, homework, after-school classes, organized playdates, sports teams coached by a fellow parent, and very little free, unsupervised time. Failure to supervise has become, in fact, synonymous with failure to parent. The result is a “continuous and ultimately dramatic decline in children’s opportunities to play and explore in their own chosen ways,” writes Peter Gray, a psychologist at Boston College and the author of Free to Learn. No more pickup games, idle walks home from school, or cops and robbers in the garage all afternoon. The child culture from my Queens days, with its own traditions and codas, its particular pleasures and distresses, is virtually extinct. (Read more.)
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Lost Imperial Egg

From Jewels du Jour:
The following text, sharing the history of the egg, is from Wartski:

The jewelled and ridged yellow gold Egg stands on its original tripod pedestal, which has chased lion paw feet and is encircled by coloured gold garlands suspended from cabochon blue sapphires topped with rose diamond set bows.

It contains a surprise of a lady’s watch by Vacheron Constantin, with a white enamel dial and openwork diamond set gold hands. The watch has been taken from its case to be mounted in the Egg and is hinged, allowing it to stand upright...

Fifty Imperial Easter Eggs were delivered by Carl Fabergé to Emperors Alexander III  and Nicholas II from 1885 to 1916. The Third Imperial Easter Egg was until its recent rediscovery among the eight lost Imperial Fabergé Eggs.

The egg will be exhibited at Wartski from 14th to 17th April 2014. This will be the first time it has been seen in public for 112 years. (Read more.)
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My Dementia

A moving essay from Slate:
I asked Peter to come along for my doctor’s appointment. Our primary care doctor politely entertained our doubts about the value of diagnosis. She heard out our pontifications about what we regarded as a worthwhile quality of life, and let us stew our own way into following her suggestion that I have an MRI. The scan results showed “white matter lesions”—an indication of clogged microvessels that prevent blood from reaching nearby brain areas. Dr. Eborn confirmed the Internet wisdom that microvascular dementia might benefit from cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering medications to retard the clogging. However, a neurologist would first have to confirm a connection between my memory problems and the lesions.
One neurologist, one neuropsychologist, dozens of tests, and many hundreds of out-of-pocket dollars later, my neurologist delivered the D-word. Given how early I noticed my symptoms, she projected that two more neurological evaluations at two-year intervals would be needed before I would officially meet the criteria of dementia.

But in my heart I already knew: I am dementing I am dementing I am dementing. (Read more.)
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Purity Balls

From ABC News:
Purity Balls — events where fathers vow “to protect their daughters in their choices for purity” –  are now a full-fledged national phenomenon occurring in 48 states and in as many as 17 countries. In October, our team was invited to attend the Super Bowl of Purity Balls at the regal Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo. It was the 14th annual Father-Daughter Purity Ball, and 60 fathers signed a purity covenant, promising, “before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity.”

I first contacted Randy Wilson–the founder of the first of these balls–over the summer. He invited us to spend a few days with his wife Lisa and his seven children. They were an exceptionally warm group, greeting us with homemade cookies and glitter-strewn cards.
The Wilson kids were all home-schooled and the purity lifestyle was evident everywhere, from the blessings Randy conducted with them in their backyard to the purity rings all the kids over the age of 12 proudly wore. Some of the older Wilson children were already married and had all experienced their first kisses at the altar on their wedding days.

In such a tight-knit community of other like-minded young people, they claimed to be at ease with their choices, their views seemingly unchallenged in their daily routines.  We tagged along for ballet rehearsal with 17-year-old Kameryn, and hung around the house while the girls all did each others’ hair in preparation for the big ball. I had never met a group of siblings (at least with the cameras around!) who were so nice to each other at seemingly every moment.

Through the Wilsons, we met a second family, the Johnsons from Indiana. Like the Wilsons, this was an exceptionally welcoming, sweet family with seemingly no harsh words shared between them. Unlike the Wilsons who were homeschooled, the Johnson girls went to school with other kids, many of whom did not subscribe to the purity lifestyle. They played on sports teams and planned to attend school dances (with platonic dates, of course). (Read more.)
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Kim's Story

From Women Speak for Themselves:
When I was 19, I was pro-choice.  I was a promiscuous college girl who found herself pregnant.  I was terrified. The Sisters of Life helped me come out of a continued life of despair, and they, or other religious groups, can do the same for other young women who might need this kind of help.  Here’s why I hope also that religious groups and individuals like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Woods, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the numerous universities, charities and businesses are allowed to continue to be their witness of belief in life and faith.

The year I found myself pregnant was 1978. My thoughts led to abortion.  I remember thinking this “new” law is so great; just what I need to get my life back on track.  No one had to know. I kept it all to myself.  In my shame, over the “situation,” I decided to confide in only one girlfriend.  She drove me to the clinic.  I went through the procedure and my life was forever changed.  I began a downward spiral from sorority college girl to a life on drugs.  My soul was wounded by the murder of my baby.  I did not realize it then. I did not let my mind dwell upon it.  Instead, I pacified my mind with drugs.

After marrying, I became pregnant again.  This second pregnancy changed my life dramatically.  I came out of my self-inflicted drugged, downward spiral and focused on my baby.  God had given me a second chance!  This baby saved my life! (Read more.)
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Bill Cosby and the American Family

From Aleteia:
News media reported recently that Bill Cosby will star in a new family drama on NBC, the network that aired the iconic sitcom. The question today is whether Cosby’s family model is still relevant. Can Cosby capture and hold viewers’ attention and affections through a family drama today without sacrificing what are increasingly perceived as outdated family values?

For Bill Cosby’s new show to be relevant, it must confront rather than simply poke fun at the ugly reality besetting the “modern” family. A strong cast and strong stories create compelling drama. The characters must brave moral dilemmas, take principled stances and willingly suffer consequences. And the viewers will participate vicariously. Whether they succeed or fail, the characters must act with grace and class, love and forgiveness, character and resolve. And good humor or no one will watch. (Read more.)
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Friday, March 28, 2014

A Mystic Stigmatic

The life of Blessed Elena Aiello, a mystic as well as a very practical lady. To quote:
A man was peddling cheese as usual and was accompanied by his little daughter who was in rags and forced her to go begging through the town. One day this scoundrel was just about to sell his own daughter for 30 lire when Sister Elena overheard them bargaining and notified the Counselor across the street to ask for his help. The two bargaining men suddenly vanished leaving the little girl alone. Sister Elena promptly took her home and was ordered by the district attorney to keep the girl despite any possible protest from her father which in fact did happen when he tried to forcibly abduct the little girl. Sister Elena however was successful in wresting her from his hands.

The sisters endured many trials which is the lot of all saints-in-the-making. Once again Sister Elena dreamed of her house being quarantined during an epidemic and it happened. However, everyone was eventually able to return to the house and resume their routine work.
Sister Elena’s order admitted more aspirants and after having gone to Rome she obtained the necessary approvals for her Order according to the steps required for the process. Her sufferings increased with greater intensity. During that time people succeeded in getting into Elena’s room to uncover her “occult powers”, “diabolical plots”, and “fake events”. People, the kind you never find inside a church or never praying before the altar, often met in the sacristies for the sole purpose of spreading gossip and detraction to try and belittle her Institute and to connect her to some sad incidents that had caused pain to the Monsignor and Archbishop. The Archbishop advised Sister Elena to file a lawsuit against the lead defamer. But the defamer made a full confession to the Archbishop and asked for Sister Elena’s forgiveness who withdrew the lawsuit. However, afterward another Shepherd was confronted with more grievances and accusations against that “encroaching Nun who loved to pass as a saint and preyed on the people’s good faith to the harm of other Institutes as well as by her phenomena by the distribution of St. Rita’s concoctions and by her subterfuge of so-called girls’ welfare”. The Archbishop listened benevolently to Sister Elena and decisively put an end to the stealthy maneuvers and upheld the rights of truth and justice.(Read more.)
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Veneration of the Crown of Thorns

Stephanie Mann reports on her latest trip to Paris. To quote:
As I had planned, I did attend the Veneration of the Crown of Thorns at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris last Friday. I rode the free Metro from the station near our apartment to Bastille on Line 8 and transferred to Line 1 for Hotel de Ville. Walking across that parvis, I crossed over the Seine to the Ile de la Cite! I was so happy to see the facade of that great church, with all the crowds gathered in front of it, and the queue for entry moved quickly. I was a little late and came into the service about 10 minutes after it started. Lots of walking up and down stairs transferring from line 8 to line 1 in that Bastille station!

The Chevaliers du Saint Sepulcre a Notre Dame de Terre sainte served as ushers for the service while the organist and a cantor led the congregation in psalms and hymns. The gentlemen of the order were resplendent in long white capes and white gloves, while the ladies wore long black capes and gorgeous black lace mantillas. They were quite busy seating latecomers like me and shooing away tourists and photographers. Between the hymns and psalms, which included Bishop Fortunatus' Vexilla Regis and the Ave Regina Caelorum, a priest gave reflections on the theme "Tout est accompli"--It is finished, one of Jesus' Seven Words from the Cross.

Other ladies carried baskets with prayer cards. Eventually, the section I was seated in joined the procession for veneration. Many in the congregation left immediately after veneration, but I stayed through the end, when the Crown was carried in procession out of the nave. The Chevalier who served as thurifer perfumed the air down the aisle with huge swings of incense. It was a very moving and solemn service. (Read more.)

More on the Crown of Thorns in Paris, HERE. Share

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Your Sufferings are Finished

Madame Royale as the Orphan in the Temple lamenting her parents from Vive la Reine.

Vos souffrances sont donc finies : ah ! parens malheureux, quand je vous reverrai?

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How to be Feminine

Some pleasant and helpful reflections from The Catholic Lady Blog. To quote:
A modest spirit is rare.  Women are taught to get what they want with the "I am woman hear me roar" attitude.  It doesn't work.  People don't know how to respond.  Men especially are affected adversely by this attitude.  (This could possible be why men are becoming more feminine by the generation.)  We live in an epidemic of feminism!

  But a woman possessing a "modest and quiet" spirit (1Tim 2:9-10) appeals to the higher nature of men and is mysteriously attractive!  Wearing a mantilla to Church is an example of this sweet mystique of femininity.
 
   This does not mean a lady must be shy, just conscious of her femininity.  This means being cheerful, helpful, well-mannered.  St. Francis de Sales says, "I would have devout people, whether men or women, the best dressed of the company, but the least pompous and affected.  I would have them adorned with gracefulness, decency, and dignity."
 
There is no prudishness for a Catholic lady.  Rather, modesty is the trademark of her spirit. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bergère Hat

Here is the beautiful blog of a young lady who recreates historical costumes. Share

St. Joseph and Chastity

A powerful testimony from Joseph Sciambra:
Within purity, the soul takes predominance over the body. In a strange way, it starts to become immaterial, whereas before: I would only associate with those whom I felt at least somewhat sexually drawn. It’s a liberating escape from a form of slavery that keeps us chained to the purely physical. Yet, it is not frigid, constraining, or emasculating. Like the stalwart St. Joseph, freedom and mastery over our bodies creates the fullness of man; a truly masculine person who needs only the Lord to fulfill him. He exudes manly strength everyday by not becoming a weak hostage to his passions. And, herein rests the great Love between Mary and Joseph, who always maintained their separate identities of female and male, because they united themselves with the all-embracing Love of their Son: Jesus Christ. For, by first developing our relationship with Our Lord, only then, are we able to entirely give ourselves to another. Because, as Mary and Joseph exemplified, the virtuous are still fully feminine and masculine, because, through their connection with God, they have reached the highest pinnacle of human development –truly made in the image and likeness of God. (Read more.)
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The Rise of Secular Religion

From The American Interest:
Today’s American liberalism, it is often remarked, amounts to a secular religion: it has its own sacred texts and taboos, Crusades and Inquisitions. The political correctness that undergirds it, meanwhile, can be traced back to the past century’s liberal Protestantism. Conservatives, of course, routinely scoff that liberals’ ersatz religion is inferior to the genuine article.

Joseph Bottum, by contrast, examines post-Protestant secular religion with empathy, and contends that it gained force and staying power by recasting the old Mainline Protestantism in the form of catechistic worldly categories: anti-racism, anti-gender discrimination, anti-inequality, and so forth. What sustains the heirs of the now-defunct Protestant consensus, he concludes, is a sense of the sacred, but one that seeks the security of personal salvation through assuming the right stance on social and political issues. Precisely because the new secular religion permeates into the pores of everyday life, it sustains the certitude of salvation and a self-perpetuating spiritual aura. Secularism has succeeded on religious terms. That is an uncommon way of understanding the issue, and a powerful one. (Read more.)


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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Favorite Things

Of Marie-Antoinette. From Leah-Marie Brown:
Did you know that Marie Antoinette was a collector (some might even say a Royal Hoarder)?  One of the things she enjoyed collecting was Japanese lacquerware. 

Collecting Japanese lacquerware was a popular past time among eighteenth century French aristocrats and those with a surplus of sous.  Technically, many of the items came from China, but the term Japanese Lacquerware was used to describe painted and heavily lacquered pieces from Asia or pieces with Asian influence.
(Read more.)
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The Correct Thing

It is with pleasure that I review the informative and inspiring guide to Catholic living entitled The Correct Thing by Lelia Hardin Bugg, with Introduction and notes by Colleen Hammond. This charming vintage book, written by a Catholic spinster in Wichita, Kansas in 1881, was something Mrs. Hammond came upon by chance. In spite of the quaint style, Colleen could see that the book is a gem of wisdom, with advice just as relevant for our time as it was when first published. Not only do I find it of historical interest, but it is a practical guide as well, fraught with both common sense and devotion.To quote from Colleen's website:
Etiquette is not something that is turned on and off. Good manners, decorum, and charity benefit not only us personally, but the entire society. Good manners show an inner character that the ancients called virtues — those morally good inner character traits that are exhibited in an outward manner. That is why there really is no such thing as company manners.

Written over 130 years ago, nearly every tidbit of the author’s advice that was applicable in 1881 is still true today. It’s only when you stumble across a few obvious exceptions (a man shot in a duel, or how to treat your servants) that you are jolted back to the present.
The Correct Thing is the perfect guide for parents — as well as religious — who want a practical guide to help mind your manners in any situation, and to foster morally good inner character traits that will be exhibited in an outward manner. (Read more.)
What makes this book unique is that at a time when such books for Catholics were usually composed by nuns or priests, this one was written by a laywoman. Miss Lelia can be viewed as a forerunner of the many Catholic laywomen who write today. Her zeal for propriety and manners as an outer manifestation of the virtue of charity help us to realize our good intentions fall short if not communicated effectively. Also, the reader can see that there were abuses and rudeness then as there are now. People talked in church and spoiled children misbehaved in public. There was gossiping and scandal, although no where near the degree of contemporary manifestations.

Colleen is known as the author of the best-seller Dressing with Dignity, a book which over the years has helped many Christian women achieve a more feminine manner of dress along with a restoration of their self-respect. In bringing Miss Lelia's The Correct Thing to the public, she is helping all of us find a restored sense of human dignity. There is something in the book for everyone; I have certainly already learned a lot from it and I hope I find the courage and the fortitude to make the needed self-corrections.

The Correct Thing is currently available from Amazon, Valor Media and Createspace.

(NOTE: This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.) Share

A Post Facebook World?

From Social Media Today:
What if you woke up tomorrow and you suddenly had to pay to post to your org’s Facebook page, or at least had to pay in order to have anyone at all see what you posted? Would you be able to just re-tool the content strategies for your other social media channels and re-create any lost engagement, web traffic referrals, sales, leads or whatever else it is that you’re currently getting from Facebook on those channels? Or would your whole social media strategy be dead in the water? 

If it’s the latter, don’t worry...but do start thinking about it because it’s becoming glaringly apparent that the day is fast approaching when you’ll be waking up to this exact reality. And as we in the nonprofit world know, sadly we’re usually the last to know these things because we learn what Facebook is doing pretty much as they do it, not  in advance through our ad reps (ha!) or other inside intel (double ha!).

I’d suggest starting by looking at what you’re currently getting from Facebook, as well as what you’re putting into Facebook. Is Facebook driving traffic back to your website? Are you engaging with members or customers there? Are you putting a lot of time into coming up with graphics to go with your posts, or spending time moderating a Facebook group? 

Maybe start thinking about some other ways you might make up for that lost traffic, or other places you might be able to engage with people, as well as maybe ways you could try to improve engagement on other social media channels that have played second fiddle to Facebook all this time.

Take a look at Google Analytics and see which social media channels are driving traffic and engagement now, and think about beefing up your use of and/or presence on those sites. For instance, if Facebook is currently driving the most referral traffic, but Pinterest is second and Twitter is third, think about what you may or may not already be doing on those channels, and what you might do better or differently if you were able to shift staff or outsourced resources to those channels. Then start doing it. No need to wait until Facebook forces your hand; start now and you’ll be glad you did when the day does finally come when Facebook is completely pay-to-play. (Read more.)
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Son of God (2014)

A review from Crisis:
Some critics fault the Son of God for being a film made for believers, aimed at the choir, and faith-based—but these are not real reasons by which to judge the merit of a film.  The problem with Son of God is its lack of cinematic originality and its complete lack of subtlety in its approach to the person of Christ.  He is from the get-go the confident, charming, and horridly handsome miracle-worker in which nearly everything pronounced by Morgado is said in a declaratory tone, proclaimed for its pious effect on those gathered about him. For most of the movie Jesus is a kind of animated, engaging, very attractive holy card. This Christ is only what is expected with few new insights to take an audience deeper into the mystery of redemption and the drama of salvation.

The movie rises to another level beginning with the Last Supper scene. Here Christ becomes more real, more authentically human. The pious proclamation of doctrines gives way as he now speaks to his apostles as if having a real conversation. Perhaps the intimacy of the Upper Room lends itself to this more personal, less stagy, less piously self-aware dramatization. Indeed, the entire passion episode was the best part of the film—oddly when Christ was not publicly preaching or performing any miracles! I give credit to Morgado for making me believe that Christ was indeed in pain as when the crown of thorns was thrust on his head.  The holy card Jesus was gone—and the real, rejected Jesus was there—only to have the holy card Jesus return in the post resurrection scenes, complete with a see-though hole in his hand accompanied by stirring music. (Read more.)
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A Mother Rebels

From The Motherlist:
Here’s an incredible story about a mother who totally disregarded what experts said about her son and threw off the label that was slapped on him as a toddler. Instead, she followed her own instincts – with astounding results.

Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob was diagnosed with autism when he was 2, and doctors said he would never speak. She tried special education programs and therapies aimed at addressing his limitations. When teachers told her there was no hope, she rebelled and took her own path.

“A lot of people thought that I had lost my mind,” she recalls.

Instead of focusing on Jacob’s limitations, Kristine nurtured his interests. Now her 15-year-old son is on track to win a Nobel Prize for his work in theoretical physics.
Relying on the insights she developed at her in-home daycare, Kristine resolved to follow Jacob’s “spark” — his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldn’t do?

Why not focus on what he could? This philosophy, along with her belief in the power of childhood play, helped her son grow in incredible ways. (Read more.)
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Château Deulin

Here is a fairytale château in Belgium that appears to be occasionally open to guests.






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Flannery O'Connor and the Interior LIfe

From author Heather King:
I say all this to establish that prayer is not some namby-pamby exercise to show ourselves how “good” we are. Prayer is not for the faint of heart. Prayer is meant to rip us apart and (eventually) put us together again as something strange, unexpected, and new. O’Connor knew that Motes’ desperate quest for meaning, his searing existential loneliness, his violent impatience with all that is false and shallow and corrupt, are precisely what make us human.

“If you live today, you breathe in nihilism,” O’Connor observed.  “In or out of the Church,  it's the gas you breathe. If I hadn't had the Church to fight it with or to tell me the necessity of fighting it, I would be the stinkingest logical positivist you ever saw right now.” That was in 1955. (Read more.)
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Romanian Victims of Communism

A memorial in Bucharest. To quote:
The greatest victory of communism, a victory dramatically revealed only after 1989, was to create people without a memory – a brainwashed new man unable to remember what he was, what he had, or what he did before communism.

The creation of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance is a means of counteracting this victory, a means to resuscitate the collective memory. Made up of the Sighet Museum and the International Centre for Studies into Communism, based in Bucharest, as well as being the organiser of the Summer School the Memorial is an institution of Memory, unique in that it is simultaneously an institute of research, museography and education. 

To the question, “Can memory be relearned?” the answer of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance in Romania is a resounding “Yes” (Read more.)
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Toys of Yesteryear

A small boy with his toy soldiers
From English Historical Fiction Writers:
Toy soldiers for the boys and dolls and doll houses for the girls populated houses with children as well. Initially, most toy soldiers were made in Russia, Germany, Prussia or Turkey. They were stamped and painted pewter figures. The ‘flats’ were sold by the pound and were cheap enough that small boys could amass an impressive force of troops. More expensive, and consequently less popular, lead soldiers were produced in France. It does give a modern mother a bit of a shudder to think about intentionally giving her child lead toys to play with, but we won't go there right now. (Read more.)
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In Defense of Chivalry

I found a new blog. To quote:
Chivalry took a beating (and to many people became "dead") in the late 1960s and early 1970s when it got hijacked by a warning message that the underpinnings were that women were somehow an inferior gender and that chivalry was about men displaying their dominance.  Some of that came from a need to ensure a bit more of a radical message so that it would attract attention and invite controversy as the women's movement was justifiably looking to make strides.

Yet it also came at a time when the movement for equality became conflated with a need for sameness, as if men and women had to be exactly the same if they were to be equal.  In more recent times, we've thankfully moved past such a rigid approach that equality has be mean sameness.  It's not unusual for women to speak of unique ways to sell to women as opposed to selling to men, recognizing that we do indeed think differently.  It's common in women's groups to hear discussions of the difference in communication styles and bonding between women as opposed to that of men.  It's known that chemical reactions to stress or hunger differ in how they impact each gender, so our needs and responses differ.  There are different roles, and accepting that does not mean that either gender is superior, or that it somehow implies there shouldn't be equal opportunity for both men and women to achieve their potential.  Of course there should.

But given all that, it also is striking how many women express the yearning to see chivalry displayed.  To accept that men and women have some places where our roles aren't somehow unisex.  That doesn't mean every last woman feels this way, and some continue to look at it with the meaning of subservience that took hold during the tumultuous 60s-70s.  And some men are there who still express resentment about women still looking for it as if the achievement of some strides in the 60s, 70s and the years since meant that women had forfeited their "right" to receive such treatment.
(Read more.)
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Arabella Stuart and Rufford Abbey

From Nancy Bilyeau:
Queen Elizabeth would not allow Arabella to marry, despite interest from suitors in England and Europe. The king of Poland sent an ambassador to ask for her hand--refused. Elizabeth did not want Arabella's claim to the throne to be strengthened through marriage.

Arabella, 28, may have hoped she would be given more freedom when her male cousin succeeded to the English throne in 1606. Sadly, King James distrusted her even more than Elizabeth. When Arabella fell in love with William Seymour, also descended from Henry VII, permission to marry was denied. They wed in secret in 1610 and tried separately to flee the country. Arabella's ship was captured before it reached Calais and she was imprisoned in the Tower of London. (Read more.)
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How to Help Someone with Depression

From The Darling Bakers:
The benefits of getting outside for a depressed person are huge. And it is possibly the last thing on earth your partner will want to do. Take them to be somewhere in nature. Pack a picnic and lie in the sun, take a leisurely hike or plant a garden. Being barefoot in the dirt, or “earthing” helps ground the body and reverse the effects of living in a world of emf’s, and digging in soil can actually act as an antidepressant, as a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. Sunshine increases Vitamin D production which can help alleviate depression. My friend Elizabeth wrote an excellent post about Vitamin D and its link to depression here.  For more information about other sources of Vitamin D, this is a great post as well as this. (Read more.)
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Boys in Red

From Two Nerdy History Girls:
In the 18th-19th c., the color red was much more associated with English boys than blue. It was considered a properly masculine color, and one with strong military overtones as well as the color for hunting. As soon as a boy was breeched – dressed in male adult-style clothing instead of the unisex white gowns of babies – bright red usually made an appearance in his wardrobe. Later in the 19th c., when color first was used in infant clothing, pink, as the lesser version of red, was the color for boys, while girls were dressed in pale blue. (For more about gender-dressing by color, see this article from Smithsonian.) (Read more.)
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An Urgent Appeal

The Silver Stream
Please consider making a Lenten donation to a beautiful monastery in Ireland which is in need of alms. The Reverend Father Prior is a friend of mine and he and his monks cherish the traditional Roman liturgy. They are also devoted to rebuilding Catholic culture through art and learning. To quote:
We do not yet own Silverstream Priory nor any of the surrounding land. While our community is established canonically here in the Diocese of Meath, we cannot yet call Silverstream our own, nor can we administer it freely, and develop it. Until we have purchased Silverstream’s buildings and property, there remains an element of risk in what we are doing. The men who have joined our monastery are conscious of the risk involved and, in the face of the risk, have laid their lives on the line.

At this stage of our development, we are still too few to undertake a remunerative cottage industry. Our first and most important commitment of time and energy belongs to the Work of God, the Divine Office chanted in choir eight times daily; to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated with dignity, reverence, and beauty; and to daily prolonged adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Second in order of our priorities is the human, intellectual, and spiritual formation of our novices; this requires a significant investment of our limited human resources. Third is our distinctive work of hospitality to priests labouring in the vineyard of the Lord; our retreat house is a place of spiritual respite for them. Fourth in order of our priorities are the apostolates of our book shop, The Gatehouse; of the two confraternities we have established to foster prayer; and of our writing, editing, and future publications. Alongside these four priorities, we continue limited renovations and improvements, assure the good order and cleanliness of the house and all it contains, the maintenance of the property, and the preparation of meals. (Read more.)
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The Renaissance Myth

Was the Renaissance the Age of Discovery or was the Middle Ages? A misunderstanding is cleared up. To quote:

Now if there was a Dark Age, it might be argued, with some show of reason, that there must have been a renaissance to end it. This is perfectly correct. There was one, and it happened in the twelfth century. This fact has, it is true, not entirely escaped the notice of historians, and it has become common to speak of "the twelfth-century renaissance" and also of a "Carolingian renaissance" in the ninth century. But, as the qualifiers in the names suggest, these are thought of as pale forerunners of the Renaissance - good efforts for their time, perhaps, but hardly to be compared with the real thing. But the Carolingian renaissance did not amount to much, and the capital-R Renaissance was, as we have seen, more like two steps back than one step forward. The twelfth century, though, had a real, true, and unqualified renaissance. 

Simply on the level of material remains, the sudden change from what went before is absolutely clear. The few buildings surviving in England from the times of Bede and Alfred the Great are room-sized piles of rubble with a hole in them; by contrast Durham Cathedral (begun in 1093) is as big a church as there is any point in building, and is only the best of a number built at the same time. The engineering skill of the builders of the Leaning Tower of Pisa becomes better confirmed each year. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Royal Family in 1789

A miniature of Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, Madame Royale and the Dauphin the year the French Revolution broke out. (Via Vive la Reine.) Share

The Reckoning

Peter Lanza, the father of the Sandy Hood mass murderer, speaks out. ( Via Abbey-Roads.) To quote:
Even in an age when a child’s every irregularity is attributed to a syndrome, the idea of a “normal weird kid” seems reasonable enough, but there were early signs that Adam had significant problems. He struggled with basic emotions, and received coaching from Nancy, who became a stay-at-home mother after Adam was born. When he had to show feelings in a school play, Nancy wrote to a friend, “Adam has taken it very seriously, even practicing facial expressions in the mirror!” According to the state’s attorney’s report, when Adam was in fifth grade he said that he “did not think highly of himself and believed that everyone else in the world deserved more than he did.” That year, Adam and another boy wrote a story called “The Big Book of Granny,” in which an old woman with a gun in her cane kills wantonly. In the third chapter, Granny and her son want to taxidermy a boy for their mantelpiece. In another chapter, a character called Dora the Berserker says, “I like hurting people. . . . Especially children.” Adam tried to sell copies of the book at school and got in trouble. A couple of years later, according to the state’s attorney’s report, a teacher noted “disturbing” violence in his writing and described him as “intelligent but not normal, with anti-social issues.” (Read more.)
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The Black Prince and the Fair Maid of Kent

I never knew they were cousins. From Medievalists:
The Black Prince was Edward, Prince of Wales (1330-1376), who was the son of Edward III, and the father of Richard II, although The Black Prince, himself, died before he could ever ascend the throne (I have always heard that he died of dysentery – frequently a soldier’s disease). Being the eldest son of one of England’s most famous kings, Edward was a very desirable match for the noble ladies of Europe. His bachelorhood also made him a very valuable asset in negotiations for peace, as royal marriages traditionally were used to build bridges between nations. In the 1300s, marriages frequently occurred when people were in their teens (and royal betrothals happened well before marriageable age), yet Edward didn’t get married until he was thirty-one. Not only was this a pretty unusual delay for an aristocrat, but it was especially unusual for the heir to the throne to delay begetting his own (legitimate) heirs. One can argue that being essential to England’s campaigns and negotiations in France may have kept Edward pretty busy, but there’s more to the story than a busy timetable.

Joan, Edward’s future wife, was later called The Fair Maid of Kent, so she may have been quite a looker, but she was, in many ways, a very bad match for Edward. First of all, her father had been executed for supporting the previous king (Edward II, her uncle) who had just been deposed (by Edward III, The Black Prince’s father). Joan was, therefore, not only from a traitorous family, but also first cousin to the king, and therefore a close cousin of The Black Prince, himself. Marrying such a close relation was forbidden by the church.

Were that not enough to keep Joan and Edward apart, Joan had a strange history of marriage already. She had been married in secret to a man named Thomas Holland, without royal permission (which, since she was royal and fatherless, would have had to come from Edward III). To add to the scandal, while Holland was away from England, Joan was given in marriage to William Montacute. For whatever reason, Joan didn’t make her earlier marriage known, creating one heck of a mess in an age where proper lineage was paramount – especially when Holland returned. The only person who could sort out a sordid mess like this was the Pope, himself. The Pope decreed that Joan’s first marriage to Thomas Holland was valid (not her marriage to Montacute), and, like it or not, everyone was bound to follow his ruling. Joan and Holland had several children together, and Holland died in 1360, when Joan was thirty-two. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

St. Adelaide

From Epistolae:
Adelaide, queen of Italy, empress of the Ottonian empire, was literally and figuratively at the center of the political scene in the tenth century. She was, as Pauline Stafford points out, daughter, sister, and aunt of three consecutive kings of Burgundy, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and grandmother of three consecutive kings of France, wife, mother, and grandmother of three Ottonian emperors.(1) She was also queen of Italy in her first marriage to Lothar II (947-50); she ruled his land when he died without a son in 950 and brought it to her marriage to Otto (951).(2) She was the first Ottonian empress — Otto I became emperor in 962 after their marriage — and participated in the government with him. When Otto died in 973 she was regent for her son, Otto II, and after his death in 983 for her grandson, Otto III, sharing the latter position with her daughter-in-law Theophanu, and eventually ceding it to her, but returning after Theophanu's death in 991.\r\nThe dramatic story of Adelaide's passage from Lombardy to Germany is told by the nun Hrotsvit in Gesta Ottonis, written for the emperor's family during the lifetime of the empress, so while it may be somewhat romaticized it is presumably not entirely fiction. Hrotsvit says Lothar left his kingdom in her hands when he died and she would have ruled it worthily, but for the treachery of Berengar who imprisoned her and seized the throne. She escaped, through a secret tunnel she and her companions dug, and eventually reached a friendly bishop; messages were sent to Otto who remembered her kindness to him when he was in exile and was not unaware of the advantages of joining the Italian lands to his.\r\nOtto had also been married before and had a son Liudolf but Liudolf predeceased him, so he was not a rival to Adelaide's son, Otto II. Adelaide and Otto I had four children, of whom two survived, Otto II and Matilda, abbess of Quedlinburg. Adelaide had had a daughter in her first marriage, Emma, who became queen of France. After the death of Emma's husband Lothar, who had at times been an enemy of the Ottonians, she served briefly as regent for her son. She too was imprisoned by a rival (her brother-in-law) and ousted, but unlike her mother she did not return. She wrote passionate pleas to her mother for help, which apparently she did not get.\r\nAdelaide did take action, however, to protect her grandson. When Henry, duke of Bavaria, seized the young Otto III after the death of his father, she returned from Lombardy, met with her daughter Matilda, her daughter-in-law Theophanu, and her brother, the king of Burgundy, and other leaders of Europe (according to the Annales Quedlinburgenses, 984), and the child was surrendered to the "three imperial ladies." (Read more.)
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World War One: Who is to Blame?

From Once I Was A Clever Boy:
Was the Great War an accident, or was it an accident waiting to happen, or was it some sort of conspiracy? I doubt the last explanation, as may already be clear. If it was a chance accident or an ever more likely one to happen it is a terrible warning. It may also be somewhat futile to be still trying to pin the blame on one or another country. Governments reacted as they might have been expected to do - perhaps as, by the light of the times, they should have, but perhaps also not - and the tragedy may be that no-one in the right position had the ability to see the way things were heading. In that situation that failure to restrain policy or offer mediation led to terrifying disaster.
However if it comes to responsibility we should not look to the Foreign Offices and General Staffs of Europe. Given the delicate balance of advantages and alliances maybe, just maybe we need to recall what set the engine of destruction in motion. Not a grand conspiracy, not a failure of diplomacy, nor a failure of a civilisation. No, we come back to a vile little oik engaging in gesture politics with a loaded gun when a freak of chance gave him the opportunity. Never mind the captains and the kings - locked within a complex system and unable to break out of it - put the blame on Gavrilo Princip. (Read more.)
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Tara of the Kings

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
One story associated with the beginning of Patrick’s Mission, was his first visit to the Ard-Rí’s court at Tara, to defend himself against the charge of breaking an age-old sanction after he had lit the Easter Eve or Paschal fire on the nearby hill of Slane celebrating Easter of 432 AD; which clashed with the Druidic Feast of the Flames which ordained that the Ard-Rí should be the first to light any fire in the land on that night. The legend tells of Patrick’s defence of his action and his explanation of the Divine Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost); when he plucked a shamrock from the grass in front of him and used its trifoliate form to illustrate the three persons of the Trinity.

From this the shamrock emerged as an enduring symbol of Ireland and the Irish.

The reigning Ard-Rí Laoghaire (Niall’s son), was so impressed with the foreigner and his religion, he not only forgave Patrick his ‘fire offence’ of the previous evening on the Hill of Slane, but gave him leave to preach the Christian Gospel throughout his realm. Tara provided an ideal starting point for Patrick’s mission, being the hub from where five major roads radiated throughout Ireland.

The story of Ireland’s rapid Christianisation during Patrick’s lifetime (he died in 461AD) is subject of popular legends. (Read more.)
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To Be in an Irish Family

Mostly true for me, except the swearing part. To quote:
WHAT IT MEANS 2 BE IN AN IRISH FAMILY
1) You will never play professional basketball.
2) You swear very well.
3) At least one of your cousins is a fireman, cop, bar owner, funeral home owner or holds political office.
4) You think you sing very well.
5) You have no idea how to make a long story short!
6) There isn’t a big difference between you losing your temper and killing someone.
7) Many of your childhood meals were boiled. Instant potatoes were a mortal sin.
8) You have at least one aunt who is a nun, or an uncle who is a priest.
9) You spent a good portion of your childhood kneeling in prayer.
10) You’re strangely poetic after a few beers.
11) Some punches directed at you are from legacies of past generations.
12) Many of your sisters and/or cousins are named Mary, Catherine or Eileen, and there is at least one member of your family with the full name Mary Catherine Eileen.
13) Someone in your family is very generous … it is most likely you.
14) You may not know the words, but that doesn’t stop you from singing.
15) You can’t wait for the other guy to stop talking before you start talking.(Read more.)
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Clery's Journal

1814 Edition of the Journal of Jean-Baptiste Clery with an illustration of the royal family. (Via Anna Gibson.) Clery was the valet of Louis XVI. Share

Blessed be the Peacemaker

From Dr. Anthony Esolen:
When I was a small boy in grade school, we had no cartoons of naked men and women, boys and girls, strutting and slouching across the pages of “health” books. We had no sly suggestive come-ons into the world of porn and trivial sex. We were not encouraged to abuse ourselves, or given hints as to how many ways we could do it, or with whom. We did not know that our bodies were tools for mutual and meaningless seizing and consumption. 
 
We were not, in other words, the objects of massive, publicly sponsored, selfish, soul-flattening child abuse. 

That is but one conclusion I’ve drawn from the remarkable and profoundly wise book by Dawn Eden, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints. I don’t wish to give the impression that Dawn’s book is mainly condemnatory. It isn’t, not at all. She understands what it is to have your childhood torn from you, because of the selfishness or the heedlessness or the outright cruelty of adults. But she does not dwell upon old crimes. She does not tug at the scab to open it up and have it bleed afresh. She does not delight in exposing the evil. (Read more.)
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Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Secret Paris Archive

From Messy Nessy Chic:
The Galcante was founded by Christian Bailly, the chairman of the ”Musée de la Presse”. When it first opened in 1975, it began as a small shop that just sold copies of what was in the museum’s collections, and later progressed into the first French society selling old newspapers and documents. (Read more.)
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Cold Romans

From Return to Order:
We are conditioned to believe that the Roman Empire was technologically superior to the Middle Ages in every way. This was far from true. Daily life in the winter was miserable in Roman times for both slave and Caesar.

Rodney Stark explains that Roman buildings were horribly heated. They had no fireplaces, stoves, or furnaces since they had no way to get the smoke out of the buildings. More often than not, Roman peasants would start open fires inside and simply open a hole in the roof where the smoke went out and the rain, snow and cold came in. Urban Romans generally would not even have a hole as they preferred to let the smoke concentrate indoors. They avoided asphyxiation because their buildings were extremely drafty and their windows had no panes only hanging skins. (Read more.)
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Friday, March 14, 2014

Adelaide Proctor: Catholic Poet

The favorite poetess of Queen Victoria was a convert to Catholicism. To quote:
Adelaide Procter is almost forgotten today, but she was Queen Victoria’s favorite poet, and in her time (1825-1864) she was second only to Tennyson in sales and popularity. She was admired and published by Dickens, and if today she is remembered at all, it is either for their work together, or for Arthur Sullivan‘s setting of her poem, “A Lost Chord.”
Procter, Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Wilkie Collins collaborated on “A House to Let” and “The Haunted House,” and Dickens wrote a lengthy encomium to introduce a posthumous edition of her poems. In it, he alluded to the cause of her death at age 38 being related to her tireless charitable work, thus placing her firmly in the mold of the Idealized Dickensian Woman Who Sacrifices Herself.

Procter’s work with the poor–particularly women–was extensive, and inspired by her conversion to Catholicism in 1851. She was friends with writer and feminist Bessie Parkes, who would also later convert to Catholicism and give the world a couple of famous children. Procter , Parkes, and their circle worked to uplift the condition of the poor, with a focus on helping women to be self-sufficient.

Her faith deeply informed her work, which is rich in Catholic imagery and symbolism, particularly “A Chaplet of Verses,” published to benefit the Providence Row Night Refuge for the Homeless Poor. Moderns tend to dismiss Victorian poetry–particularly religious poetry–not just because of its traditional forms, but because of a misunderstanding of Victorian piety, which they associate with treacly verse and lace holy cards featuring a cherubic, rosy-cheeked infant Jesus. If you want a better sense of Victorian piety, think of this. There was a deep concern for the social ills of the time, which naturally flowed from Christianity. This was more than mere surface piety: it was a deep faith that moved people like Procter to help those in need while also expressing her faith through her art. (Read more.)
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Grooming for Abuse

Unfortunately, some schools are grooming children for abuse. To quote:
Years ago an acquaintance of mine wanted to homeschool. Her kindergarten aged child was being chased home from school by 5th and 6th grade boys who would pull her pants down. The school said they couldn’t help- it happened off campus. The boys’ parents said boys would be boys. Older women at her church said, “Well, they have to learn to get along in the real world sometime.”

In my real world, people who do this to other people go. to. jail.

Unfortunately, in the school world, that is not a given. (Read more.)
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Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Cloisters on the Hudson River

From author Stephanie Cowell:
In 1917 the land which it crowns high above the bucolic Hudson River was purchased by the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. who developed it into Ft. Tryon Park. He also bought parts of five European abbeys which were carefully disassembled, each stone marked to identify its proper place; they were reconstructed and integrated together in the park between 1934 and 1939 with additional buildings in medieval style designed by architect Charles Collens, assisted by Joseph Breck and James J. Rorimer. To begin the astonishing collection of medieval art, Rockefeller bought the huge collection of American sculptor George Gray Barnard. Rockefeller also donated from his own walls the world famous Unicorn tapestries. (Created in the 15th century, these remarkable tapestries were at one low point used to cover heaps of potatoes in France and then served as bed hangings.)

In 1958, a major new addition was added to the Cloisters Museum: a twelfth-century limestone apse from the church in Fuentidueña, Spain, also dismantled and reconstructed stone by stone.

For me it is a sacred rite to visit the Cloisters. When I enter the doors and climb the stairs, something inside me drifts into an awed silence. I feel it belongs to me but I know every other person there feels that as well, and that we share it.

Water plays from an old fountain; saints with stone faces worn dull watch us pass. In the Treasury, a space of a few small rooms, priceless illuminated prayer books which were used for prayer seven centuries ago look up at us; Crucifixes and reliquaries and tiny portable altars made of ivory small enough to fold into a pocket seem to listen for our steps. There is a very old staircase of wood and I am sure someone was about to descend as I came around the corner, someone who is not quite in this world anymore. It was after all the great scientist Einstein who wrote, “…the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent.” (Read more.)
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Of the Nature of Vocation

We expect too much out of marriage due to romantic idealism. To quote:
Today we’re having a similar problem with marriage. The orthodox Christian view of indissoluble marriage in many ways can seem “exalted” in comparison to secular society. And secular society certainly makes lots of noises about valorizing marriage. Thus, “You agree marriage is awesome, we agree marriage is awesome. Ain’t marriage awesome???”
But the problem is that this is an inversion of the Biblical theology of marriage. The root is Protestant. In his urge to torch his own vows, Luther built an exalted theology of marriage as the summit of Christian life (completely ignoring Paul, #solascriptura). The Protestant communities, separated from the apostolic Church, lost the great gift of the Holy Spirit of celibate life and the theology of celibacy.

If marriage is a vale of milk and honey, then when the milk and honey runs out, the marriage loses its reason for being. If marriage is a vale of milk and honey, then not offering it to everyone is tantamount to sadism.

Here is a proposal for a theology of vocation: vocation is a call to creation in self-giving, because God is Creator in self-giving. Creation is kenosis—God, who is the sheer act of Being itself, embraces the Universe with its imperfection in his existence. God is Creator and continuously creating the Universe and gathering the Universe to Him and God is total self-giving, even into the intimacy of the life of the Trinity.

And Biblical Revelation teaches us that the supreme act of creative self-giving is the Cross.

We see, then, how we are invited to take up our Cross and follow Christ.

Marriage is a Cross. Marriage is a vocation to creation in total self-giving. To say that marriage is a Cross is to say that it is part of God’s design and that many graces flow from it and even that it is joyous. But it is also to say that it sucks sometimes and that it demands a total gift of self.  (Read more.)
Via Unequally Yoked.

And being single means bearing the cross, too. From Mary Beth Bonacci:
I believe that God does exist. But I don’t believe that He is who you think He is. The “God” you’re talking about—the one who automatically provides us with spouses as a reward for virtuous behavior—He doesn’t exist. Never has. Never will.

I know you’re hurting. I’m sorry. I’ve been there, too. Virtually everybody on this site has. It’s hard—very hard—to feel called to marriage, to assume that it’s our future, and then to find that the “right one” isn’t showing up, and to face the possibility that he or she may never show up.

But don’t blame it on God.

He loves you. Madly. Passionately. And He wants what is absolutely best for you. More than just wanting you to be “generally happy,” He wants you to be really happy. In eternity with Him. Forever. That’s His focus. He’s our Savior. He came to save us—not from a corrupt government (as many of his followers assumed), or from spinsterhood (as we singles sometimes assume) or from persecution or famine or anything else. He came to save us from the power of evil, and He left us a Church as an instrument of our eternal salvation. And He promised that His Spirit would be with that Church until the end of the world.

As for this life, He never promised us “general happiness,” or a peaceful life, or a guaranteed spouse, or anything like that. In fact, He pretty much promised that we’ll have a bit of a rough time of it if we follow Him.

You are finding that now. The problem isn’t with God, it’s with the free will He gave to us. When people use that free will in ways that are contrary to His will, other people get hurt. That’s one reason why, in this day and age, so many faithful Catholics are single. Fewer Catholics are taking their faith seriously. And that leaves fewer faithful Catholics for us to marry. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Eden (2013)

The story of a sex slave. It is a horror story that is going on all around us, with the cooperation of powerful people. To quote:
Wearing just their underwear, the girls line up with their backs to the wall, arms by their side, heads down, frozen to the spot. They dare not move.

Their captors walk up and down the line – picking them seemingly at random and tapping them on the shoulder – ‘You, you, you and you… come with me’.

In the back of a warehouse truck, they are driven for miles across the scorching Nevada desert until they reach a hotel. There, they are forced to have sex with up to 25 men one after the other.

This was life for Korean-born American Chong Kim who, at 19 years old, was sold as a domestic sex slave in 1994 to Russian gangsters and held captive for more than two years.
“The clients never came to the warehouse,” she recalled “That was just where we slept. There was nothing there but bed mats on the floor and we would just lay there.

“They would give us colouring books with fat crayons and we would colour. But then we would hear the knock outside the storage unit doors and have to all line up.
“If you were chosen, we would get in the truck and there would be a gallon of water between us. You could tell it was hot outside because it was made out of metal aluminium and it was too hot to touch. (Read more.)
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An Open Letter to Jimmy Fallon

Liturgical abuses are no excuse to leave the Church. I have seen about every abuse there is but I don't let it keep me from going to Mass. Not ever. I came of age during the height of the nuttiness, when priests would mock the teachings of the church as well as the liturgy. I have walked out of Masses when I just couldn't take it. I have lived through it all. And yet wherever I have lived I have always found a church where there was reverent and traditional worship. Is it a hard time to be a Catholic? Yes, but my ancestors lived through tougher times and persevered. Where there is a will there is a way. You have to be tough. Sometimes you have to drive hours to go to Mass. Is it fair? No. But to be a Christian is to be a martyr. From The Crescat:
Firstly, congratulations on the Tonight Show and being able to stay in New York City. I’m sure you’re relieved you won’t be returning to L.A., home of the bad liturgy experience. Hopefully that means we can expect to see you in the pews of any one of New York’s finest Catholics Churches some time soon, right? Because I’m sure you weren’t just using bad liturgy as an excuse not to go back to Church.

Excuses are “ew”.

I know from personal experience how cringe worthy terrible liturgy is, with it’s hand holding and awful tambourine music. Yes, it does not motivate one to want to return to that Church. “That” being the imperative word. That particular church with the terrible liturgy, not The Church.

That’s why I bet you’re thrilled to pieces to be staying in New York where beautiful liturgy abounds. I’m excited for you to experience again the glory and solemnity from your childhood altar serving days. From that time where your love of The Church had you considering the priesthood. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

George Washington: A True Gentleman

From Under the Gables:
George Washington with the Marquis de Lafayette (center) and Lt. Col. Tench Tilghman, Washington's aide-de-camp, at Yorktown, by Charles Willson Peale, 1784. Washington looked upon Lafayette as a son, and the French republican was instrumental in convincing Washington that slavery was an injustice that was inimical to the principles of the new American republic.  

For about four months in 2013, I read books about George Washington and also biographies of Martha Washington. Most notable was Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. Based on the release of thousands of papers of Washington's, Chernow's book is a realistic and detailed portrait of the Commander of the Continental Army that led a rag-tag army to victory in the War of Independence and became our first President.

In his 2006 book Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, historian Gordon S. Wood devotes an early chapter to Washington, titled "The Greatness of George Washington." Wood's assessment  is grounded on Washington's decision to resign from his army command at the end of the war--an action whose humility shocked the world. He also cites how Washington became increasingly repulsed by slavery and freed those slaves he owned upon his death, and praises Washington's ability to act as the first President with a vision of what he must bequeath to a future America, beyond the political demands of the moment.

Underlying the actions and vision, however, is a monumental strength of character that explains how he became the natural choice of his contemporaries to lead the Continental Army and to become the new republic's first President. (Read more.)
Another point of view, HERE. Share

Nonmarital Childbearing: the Statistics

Professor Claire Kamp Dush of Ohio State writes of her struggles to publish her research. To quote:
Historic numbers of women in the US are having children outside of marriage; 41% of all births in 2010 were to unmarried parents, with the highest proportions to racial and ethnic minorities (Hamilton, Martin, & Ventura, 2011). More than half of these births were to cohabiting parents (Lichter, 2012), a majority of whom will see their union dissolve by the time their child is 5 years old (Kamp Dush, 2011). Because of the instability of these unions, many mothers are dating and forming new romantic relationships which often result in the birth of a new child, thus a growing number of mothers have children with more than one father (Guzzo & Furstenberg, 2007). Mothers who have children with more than one father experience increased stress and mental health problems and lower parenting quality compared to mothers who share children with only one father (McLanahan, 2009). Children with half-siblings exhibit more depression, poorer school performance, and greater delinquency than children with only full-siblings (Halpern-Meekin & Tach, 2008). Despite negative maternal and child outcomes associated with childbearing with multiple fathers, family process-related factors that influence whether women have additional children with new fathers have yet to be identified. We posit that when a father is involved with his child, regardless of whether or not he lives with his child, the mother of his child will be less likely to have another child with a new father. (Read more.)
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Monday, March 10, 2014

Marie-Antoinette as Vesta

The Queen is depicted as the goddess of the hearth. (Via Tiny-Librarian.) The lilies symbolize France and purity. The rose is a symbol of Austria as well as of beauty. Louis XVI is shown on the urn. Share

The Witchcraft Craze

Author Mary Sharratt shares her research about how the social and economic changes during the Protestant Reformation led to the witchcraft hysteria. To quote:
The feudal agrarian system was not to last forever. The landlords' tendency to extract from unfree peasants any handy income above subsistence meant that these peasant were unable to give back what they took from the land. Thus, a combination of bad farming techniques leading to soil depletion, steady population growth, and the over-taxation of peasants by land owners all contributed to the gradual breakdown of the feudal agrarian economy and ecosystem (Marchant 47). As the feudal agrarian and domestic economy wanted, the capitalist market economy grew stronger. This had a profound effect on the socio-economic status of women.

During the years 1450 to 1550, very dramatic economic, social, and religious changes took place that would threaten the status and freedom that medieval women had enjoyed. Up until 1450, both sexes were needed in the economy, but afterwards, competition began to take place between the sexes in the market economy. It is during this period that the sexual division of labor, and the separation between the market and the domestic economy began to develop. As men struggled to gain supremacy in the market economy and to push women, their competitors, out of the guilds and into the domestic economy, which was becoming more and more marginalized, women resisted. Women were beginning to be viewed by men as a threat to the order of society. At the same time, a tightening in the moral and religious strictures in both the Catholic and the newly developing Protestant Churches began. The sexual licentiousness, dancing, and drinking that had been commonplace in the medieval period was increasingly frowned upon. Religious authorities grew more obsessed with morality, and the concepts of the devil and witchcraft than they had been before. During this period, the number of witch persecutions rose significantly. The events that took place between 1450 and 1550, thus, were decisive in laying down the foundation for the later witch crazes of 1560 to 1660. (Read more.)
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