Monday, November 30, 2015

Parisian Street Life

The Bataclan Theater a Century Ago
From The New York Times:
Although the top of its Chinese-style pagoda no longer remains — it was destroyed in a fire in the 1930s — the building still functions more or less as it once did. From vaudeville shows to films, punk-rock shows, tango dancing and comedy acts, the Bataclan has evolved again and again to adapt to contemporary Parisian tastes.

These images attest to the fact that there is something essential to the experience of living in Paris that involves spending time outside on its streets, whether to shop, observe, drink, eat, dance, talk or listen. Despite all of the technological innovations since the end of the nineteenth century that give Parisians incentives to stay at home — televisions, computers, refrigerators, washing machines and even toilets — people still go out because going out is something that Paris invites us to do. And when people go out, it is to the same places — quite literally inside the same walls — as generations of Parisians before them.

As I walked along the canal on the way to work this morning, three days after the attacks, the cafe terraces were busy as usual, despite the sadness permeating the air. Paris is lucky to have a built environment that is resilient against change, as it only makes the rhythms and practices of urban life harder to change. You are almost obliged, by going out into the city, to perform your daily rituals: grabbing a coffee at the bar, buying a newspaper. Its architecture invites people to continue to explore, to take wrong turns, to fall in love, to protest and simply to have a drink in the same places, streets and buildings that countless others have in the past. Life within them has survived ill-fated laws prohibiting public drinking, years of German occupation and terrorist attacks from anarchists, anti-colonialists and others. After all these years, people continue to roll up their sleeves, eat and drink on the same corners. In the long shadow of the horse-drawn carriage, it is unlikely that will change. (Read more.)
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The Grittiness of Christianity

George Weigel from First Things:
Walking through the narrow, winding streets of Jerusalem’s Old City on my first visit here in fifteen years, I was powerfully struck once again by the grittiness of Christianity, the palpable connection between the faith and the quotidian realities of life. For here, as in no other place, the believer, the skeptic, and the “searcher” are confronted with a fact: Christianity began, not with a pious story or “narrative,” but with the reality of transformed lives. Real things happened to real people at real places in real time—and the transformation wrought in those real people by those “real things” transformed the world. (Read more.)
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The Cost of a PhD

From Quartz:
It’s common knowledge that getting a PhD is hard. It’s meant to be. Some even say that if you’re not up all night working or skipping meals, you’re doing it wrong. But while PhD students are not so naive as to enter the program expecting an easy ride, there is a cost to the endeavor that no one talks about: a psychological one.

The days I spent pursuing my PhD in physics were some of my darkest. It wasn’t the intellectual challenges or the workload that brought me down; it was my deteriorating mental health. I felt unsupported, isolated and adrift in uncertainty. Anxiety attacks became a part of my daily life. I drank and cut myself. I sometimes thought I wanted to die.(Read more.)
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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Artois and His Son

From Tiny-Librarian: "The Comte d'Artois with his newborn son, the Duc d’Angoulême born on August 6, 1775." Share

Music of the Angels

Why the devil hates sacred music. To quote:
After listening to Palestrina, Peter Kreeft realized the power of sacred music and it propelled him further into the arms of the Catholic Church. This little episode reveals to us that there is something about sacred music that speaks to the soul and stirs within us a deeper longing for Heaven. Sacred music is very powerful and speaks to anyone who has ears to hear.

Suffice to say, there is no sacred music in Hell.
Music has been a vital part of society for thousands of years. For example, “Plato based his whole ‘ideal’ society, in The Republic, on its educational system, and he based the whole educational system on music as its first step” (The Snakebite Letters, 61, emphasis added). Plato esteemed music so much that he said a society would erode “first through a decay in music” (Ibid.).

The reason why music is able influence society so much is on account of its ability to bypass reason. As humans, we “don’t think about it, [we] just feel it” (Ibid, 62). The most powerful music goes even further, through our feelings and into the “deep center of the soul.” (Ibid).

Many throughout the centuries have converted to Christianity through music; more specifically “sacred music,” the music of the Church. There is even a tradition that God created the world through music, which Tolkien eloquently portrayed in his fictional tale The Silmarillion. Similarly, music is thought to be the “language of Heaven” (Ibid).

This is why the devil hates sacred music so much. It reaches the depths of our soul and raises us up to the Heaven. It should be no surprise to us when a parish’s sacred music program is single-handedly dismantled. He will do all he can to prevent us from hearing the Divine Voice of God. (Read more.)
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The Conversion of Leah Libresco

From The Toast:
Both my parents don’t believe in God, so I was raised as an atheist. We had a Christmas tree, but my parents were definitely upfront about the fact that they thought religions weren’t true. I was the kid in high school who worked to get us to stop doing a toy drive for Samaritan’s Purse (which uses the toys to evangelize to poor children). And, post-conversion, I still think that’s a wildly inappropriate charity for a public school to partner with.

I grew up on Long Island, where the vast majority of my classmates were secular Jews, so between that and my family, I thought of religion as something that was not only wrong, but wrong enough to be below the level of hypothesis that deserve attention. Most of the time, when I encountered religion, it was in the news, when some religiously-informed policy intruded on the lives of people like me (like evangelicals fighting evolution in public schools).

College was the first place I encountered a Christianity I couldn’t casually dismiss. I joined the Political Union as a freshman (a debating group where you only argue what you actually believe and there are no points and no judges – you “win” by changing other people’s minds or your own). I tended to gravitate to the most interesting “wrong” people I could find, and that was definitely the Catholic and Orthodox Christians.

A lot of the counter-apologetics I knew were of the Dawkins-God Delusion type – targeted toward biblical literalists, God-of-the-Gaps people.  And they didn’t apply to my new friends.
So, I didn’t think they were right, but I knew I had to do more reading to convince them they were wrong, and that’s how I actually starting reading people like Chesterton and Lewis. (Read more.)
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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gomin's Collection

Jean-Baptiste Gomin, a guard at the Temple, was authorized in 1795 to keep some items belonging to the royal family. (Via Tiny-Librarian.)

Marie-Antoinette's fichu.


A case used by Marie Antoinette while she was imprisoned in the Temple.


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The Truth About Milk

Whole milk is best. To quote:
If you look up "whole milk" in the government's official Dietary Guidelines, it states pretty definitively that people should only drink skim or 1% milk. "If you currently drink whole milk," it says, "gradually switch to lower fat versions."

This is the same advice the government has been issuing for many years. And it's wrong.

Research published in recent years shows that people "might have been better off had they stuck with whole milk," according to a front-page story in the Washington Post on Wednesday. "People who consumed more milk fat had lower incidence of heart disease."

The story goes on to note that the government's push for Americans to eat a high-carb diet "provokes a number of heart disease risk factors."

As the Harvard School of Public Health's Walter Willett put it, the "campaign to reduce fat in the diet has had some pretty disastrous consequences."

The Post goes on to note that this "has raised questions about the scientific foundations of the government's diet advice."

It should.

Based on flimsy evidence, the USDA first started urging people to eat low-fat diets in 1977. As evidence grew that this advice was misguided — at best — it steadfastly refused to change course. So what we have here is the U.S. government using its power and might to push Americans — quite successfully — to change their eating habits in ways that likely killed many of them. (Read more.)
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Housekeeping 101

From The Catholic Table:
Treating chaos and messiness like it’s a virtue is a weird modern tick. It’s the flip side of acting like a beautiful home qualifies you for canonization. Both are disordered attitudes, and both make for uncomfortable living. Peace and harmony are found in the balance. So, how do you find that balance? In some ways, you have to figure it out for yourself. I can only tell you how I’ve found it (and how the moms whose housekeeping skills I respect the most have found it). Take what you will from this, and ignore the rest. (Read more.)
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Friday, November 27, 2015

Books as Gifts

 I love to shop online; I like to give books as gifts, to those who are readers, that is. Books are gifts which keep on giving. They can be read again and again, and can be lent to friends. A good book can alter one's perceptions of life for the better; it can strengthen faith, deepen insight, and increase understanding. Last but not least, reading is one of the most enjoyable pastimes in the world, allowing one to travel through time and space, to see faraway places and meet people who lived long ago. There few gifts I relish more than a good book, which is why I have written the kind of books I myself like to read. The Paradise Tree was listed by Kirkus as one of the top 20 indie books of 2014, and among the top 100 best books of the year, according to the December 2014 issue.

Here are my books:

 The Paradise Tree: A Novel

 “With this marvelous immigrant saga, Elena Maria Vidal reminds us why our forebears left the Old World for the New: for Faith, family, and freedom! Through three generations of an Irish clan in Canada, she invites us into their home for struggle and triumph, celebrations of joy and sorrow, music, feasting, and dancing. The Paradise Tree makes ‘the past and present mingle and become one’ for the reader’s great delight.” ~Stephanie A. Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation

“Elena Maria Vidal’s latest book, The Paradise Tree, is the fictionalized true story of the author’s devoutly Catholic ancestors who immigrated to Canada from Ireland. It is filled with rich detailed history recounting the hardships and joys of the 19th century O’Connor Family. Beautifully written with great attention to historical, geographical and religious accuracy, this fascinating and moving family saga is a treasure that I highly recommend!” ~Ellen Gable Hrkach, award-winning author of In Name Only and four other novels

"An Irish immigrant builds a new life in Canada, the decades marked by marriage, children and the odd otherworldly encounter....An imaginative, meticulously told history that will especially appeal to those with Irish roots." ~ from Kirkus Reviews

"This is a stunningly lovely book, the perfect thing to get lost in for an afternoon." ~from the San Francisco Book Review (starred review)

"...Historical fiction at its best" ~D.Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

The Paradise Tree does what good novels should. It tells us a story, it shows us what it means to be human—replete with the triumphs, sadness, and conflicts entailed in being human—while whisking us away to another world that is not our own. For 232 pages we are extracted from our lives and into the lives of the O’Connor family. We root for them. We feel their hardships. We feel their connection and disconnection as a family while we are shown a distant time and place, filled with potentially unfamiliar folkways. In the end we are pleasantly reminded that the O’Connors’ story is just as much ours as we traverse the familiar territory of faith, family, and love, and how we still find ourselves dancing in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.~ The Portland Book Review

"Vidal does an excellent job of demonstrating the lifeline that the Catholic faith becomes for the O'Connor family and how it binds them together in the toughest of circumstances." ~Savvy Verse and Wit

"Weaving fact with fiction...realistic and stirring. An emotional tale of hardship, struggle to survive...with vivid descriptions of life in that place and time period. This book will appeal to those that like a good historical fiction story with depth and new beginnings." ~Just One More Chapter

"Vidal was able to write about devout Catholicism in a way that Protestants and other non-Catholics could follow." ~West Metro Mommy Reads

"The Paradise Tree by Elena Maria Vidal is a sweeping tale of an Irish-Canadian family that I happily dare to mention in the same breath as Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind" ~ from Back Porchervations

"As we journey through the years of the O'Connor family the author brings alive the joys, triumphs, struggles, and sorrows in such a vivid way that often you feel as though you are experiencing them yourself." ~Peeking Between the Pages

"Despite the sadness of many of the scenes, there is great charm in the lively portrayal of a family filled with love of learning and poetry. The hope of eternal life sustains Daniel, his wife and children through many tragedies.  Joy continually mingles with sorrow." ~Cross of Laeken

"The Paradise Tree is one of those books that made me feel happy and secure while reading even though some really terrible things happened to the family. I always had the sense that they would persevere and thrive. The Paradise Tree is a sweeping family saga that I will be suggesting to my friends and family. It was such an enjoyable book."~A Book Geek

"The people in the story felt so real to me and almost like they could have also been my ancestors."~Book Drunkard

"I loved the historical perspective that Elena Maria Vidal presented in The Paradise Tree: A Novel. It was interesting and informative to learn about the Irish. Vidal's writing was engaging and the story was filled with heart, soul, family loyalty, history, and unexpected twists and turns. I enjoyed this beautiful story and recommend it." ~Book Nerd

"Whoever you are, wherever your people came from, and whatever you enjoy doing with your free time, I don’t hesitate for a moment to recommend purchasing Elena Maria Vidal’s latest historical fiction novel The Paradise Tree." ~Lear, Kent, Fool

"A good historical fiction novel takes you back in time and presents the good, the bad and the ugly in a manner that informs and clarifies. A great historical fiction novel goes beyond that to lift up your soul as the heroes and heroines overcome obstacles both man made and natural. The result is the reader is left open jawed amazed and transformed. This book is a great historical fiction novel. I wept with them, I laughed at them but most importantly, I felt privileged to be invited to gaze inside their paradise tree." ~Stephen's review of The Paradise Tree on Goodreads

 Purchase The Paradise Tree HERE.  


Trianon: A Novel of Royal France



"What distinguishes this short and readable book from others is Vidal's examining their lives in light of their Catholic faith in a country that, until the Revolution, was the 'eldest daughter of the Church.'" ~Mike May, Pittsburgh Magazine

 "Exhaustively researched and yet completely accessible for those who wish to understand the events from a very personal perspective." ~Genevieve Kineke, Canticle Magazine

"Through the tragedy and the violence, the genocide and the thousand petty cruelties, Trianon remains, resolutely, a novel of hope." --Gareth Russell, author of Popular and The Emperors

"It's very refreshing to see fiction that strays away from the popular view of Marie Antoinette. Vidal has done extensive research on the royal family and it truly shows." ~Anna Gibson at Reading Treasure

"For me, reading Trianon was like the Heavens opening up and hearing the angels sing.  It's the 'be all and end all' of all things Antoinette." ~Book Drunkard

"A master of storytelling, the author makes you laugh and cry, right along with the characters. A true masterpiece, I rank this book along with the great Classics." ~Wilsonville Public Library Blog

"Be prepared to learn history as it should have been told. You will experience their life, their love, their faith, for you have never known them as you will after reading this book...Be prepared to be moved beyond belief." ~Enchanted by Josephine 

"Elegantly written, it is, quite simply, a heart-wrenching account of the trials and martyrdom of the king and queen of France, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette." ~Christine Niles, radio host of Forward Boldly




Purchase Trianon HERE.


Madame Royale: A Novel




"An unforgettable portrait of a royal life... Madame Royale is a fantastic tribute to one of Europe's most tragic, but courageous princesses." ~Gareth Russell, author of Popular and The Emperors

"The...backdrop of this heartrending story is that none of us can choose the circumstances into which we are born, and yet those...circumstances are the very proving ground of virtue, our own gymnasium of charity." ~Genevieve Kineke, Canticle Magazine

"Vidal gives us a gripping portrait of a woman whose personal destiny is enmeshed with the convulsions of the French Revolution and European history." ~Catherine Delors, author of For the King and Mistress of the Revolution

"In Trianon, faith gives the King and Queen the courage to face death; in Madame Royale, faith gives their daughter the courage to face life. Marie-Thérèse's story is truly one of bloodless martyrdom." ~Cross of Laeken


Purchase Madame Royale HERE.


The Night's Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars

 
"From the first page, Vidal draws the reader into a vibrant world of action and emotion. Raphaelle de Miramande is an engaging young heroine, bravely facing physical and moral dangers and dilemmas in search of truth and love. Vidal's novel captures the spirit of the Middle Ages." ~Stephanie A. Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival

"A harrowing and engrossing journey." ~Catherine Delors, author of Mistress of the Revolution and For the King

"The novel illustrates how easily and insidiously the abhorrent becomes desirable, the selfish honorable when individuals seek nothing beyond the fulfillment of their own desires, a message perhaps even more relevant today than it was centuries ago." ~Julianne Douglas, Writing the Renaissance 

"Elena Maria Vidal has been gifted with an eye for historical detail, an energetic imagination, an elegant writing style, and a keen and informed faith, all of which blend attractively together in this her latest work." ~Christine Niles, radio host of Forward Boldly

"In the first chapter the setting, plot, and all the main characters are all well-established....The novel moves on, mixing history and drama, at a good pace. Raphaelle is caught up in several major dilemmas; we can truly sympathize with what she is going through." ~Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller, blogger

Image source
 Purchase The Night's Dark Shade HERE. Share

Hunger and Politics

From New Statesman:
 Chronic malnutrition and famine cannot be understood, let alone prevented, if they are detached from the realities of power. Consider the role of war. As Rieff writes, “While there have been famines in times of peace, there have been few major wars without famine.” Somewhere between 50 and 72 million people died on account of the Second World War. Roughly 20 million deaths were caused by hunger, about half of them in the Soviet Union. The famine in Greece in 1941-42, when some 300,000 people perished out of a population of less than 7.5 million, was mainly a result of plunder by German occupying forces and a British naval blockade. Exacerbated by a harsh winter, the last European famine of the Second World War occurred in those regions of the Netherlands still under German occupation in 1944-45.

Going further back, the Great Irish Famine of 1845-50 and the Great Bengal Famine of 1943-44 were both artifacts of imperial rule. The Soviet famine under Lenin in 1920-22 occurred during a civil war, but the famine in Ukraine in 1932-33 was a direct result of Stalin’s policies of collectivisation. The Chinese famine of 1958-62, which Rieff describes as “probably the most lethal single event in history”, was caused largely by Mao’s disastrous rush to industrialisation. Summing up, Rieff writes: “To the extent that one can view the last part of the 19th century as the age of imperialist famines, it is equally appropriate to view much of the 20th century as the age of socialist ones.” (Read more.)
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Hard Sayings About Terror

From Robert Royal:

If there’s any general lesson to be drawn from this history, it’s that Islamic terrorism is non-partisan. It’s an understandable human trait to want to think that: if only we leave them alone, or speak more nicely to them, or deny that their apocalyptic visions or political aspirations are unrelated to deeply held religious views, that these outrages will slowly melt away. And that eventually we can all go back to pretending that everyone in the world really aspires to our American metrosexual, urban (or suburban), secular, skeptical, digital, consumerist lifestyles.

It’s a silly to think that we “created” such radicalism. We didn’t. Modernity in general generates reactions against its obvious corruptions and defects. Our multicultural universities, instead of obsessing over microaggresions or Islamo-, homo-, and other “phobias,” perhaps might help us better understand such reactions if they devoted some time to studying how they have emerged in other cultures, and in such murderous form. And from historical circumstances over which no one, not even an American president, has full control.

All of us need to be more engaged in thinking through what we can now do about them. Part of the solution is military, part a battle of ideas. Though let’s be brutally honest: Our influence on Muslim ideology is and will be quite limited. (Read more.)
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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Facts

From Dr. Talyor Marshall:
The first American Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on September 8 (feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin) in 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. The Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered. This was 56 years before the Puritan pilgrims of Massachusetts. Don Pedro Menendez came ashore amid the sounding of trumpets, artillery salutes and the firing of cannons to claim the land for King Philip II and Spain. The ship chaplain Fr. Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales chanted the Te Deum and presented a crucifix that Menendez ceremoniously kissed. Then the 500 soldiers, 200 sailors and 100 families and artisans, along with the Timucuan Indians celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in gratitude to God. (Read more.)
Via Spirit Daily. Share

Seek The Face of God

From Catholic Exchange:
To be always looking in faith and hope for what is known to exist but evades discovery is not only of the essence of religion, but is also the motive of every generous adventure and the stuff of heroism. The search for the Christ-life is the supremely generous adventure, the one completely worthwhile heroism. But it would be a mistake to see in this the call merely to explore. Souls are not invited to experiment in di­vine love; they are invited to give themselves to it.

Love and sacrifice are not the same thing, but they are inseparable. To think of Christ and to think of the Cross is not the same thing, but the association is so close that the implication is immediate. Where love has been preached without sacrifice, it has led not to love but to license. Where Christ has been preached without the Cross, such preaching has led not toward Christ, but away from Him. And because the crucifix is to us Christians the symbol of our Faith, the service that we render as Christians is seen in terms of the crucifix. The love that we bring to Christ and the sacrifice that it costs us to bring it to Him are thought of together.

A price must be paid. The price of love is normally the price of faith. And this is as much the case in human love as in di­vine. The cost is the suffering of believing against all outward evidence that the prolonged search is in fact a progressive discovery. If the price of loving Christ is the pain of having to look for Him, the price of finding Him is the pain of having to share His loneliness in the Garden of Gethsemane. Loneli­ness is the worst suffering, and if we can endure this in faith, we have as good as won our way to Him. (Read more.)
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First Catholic Martyr of Massachusetts

From Catholic News Agency:
In the courtroom, Ann refused to speak English and instead answered questions in her native Irish Gaelic. In order to prove she was not a witch, Mather asked Ann to recite the Our Father, which she did, in a mix of Irish Gaelic and Latin because of her lack of education.

“Cotton Mather would have recognized some of it, because of course that would have been part of your studies in those days, you studied classical languages when you were preparing to be a minister, especially Latin and Greek,” Father O'Grady said.

“But because it was kind of mixed in with Irish Gaelic, it was then considered proof that she was possessed because she was mangling the Latin.”

Allegedly, Boston merchant Robert Calef, who knew Ann when she was alive, said she “was a despised, crazy, poor old woman, an Irish Catholic who was tried for afflicting the Goodwin children. Her behavior at her trial was like that of one distracted. They did her cruel. The proof against her was wholly deficient. The jury brought her guilty. She was hung. She died a Catholic." (Read more.)
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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Confronting Genocide in Iraq

From the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
In the summer of 2014, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) conducted a violent campaign against civilians in northern Iraq, in particular targeting ethnic and religious minorities. In less than three months, IS decimated millennia-old communities, driving more than 800,000 people from their homes, kidnapping thousands, and killing hundreds, if not thousands, of people. In September 2015, Naomi Kikoler, deputy director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, and photojournalist Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin visited the region, documenting atrocities and interviewing displaced persons. Their findings, photographs, and videos present compelling evidence of present-day terror. (Read more.)
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Learning From Our Ancestors

From Amazing Catechists:
Our Catholic ancestors did not shy away from the faith. With few exceptions, they went to Mass every Sunday (with their Latin/English missal) and attended Mass often during the week, they abstained from meat on Fridays, recited the rosary, wore medals, proudly displayed crucifixes in their homes and religious statues in their gardens. Most had holy water fonts in their homes. They proudly proclaimed their faith and were not ashamed.

Recently, my scapular was hanging out in front of my shirt. A fellow parishioner asked me what it was. “It’s a scapular, a sacramental,” I replied. This fellow parishioner was around the same age and yet had never seen a scapular “up close” and didn’t know what a “sacramental” was.

When my parents attended grade school and high school in the 1940’s, catechism was memorized and learned from an early age. Young Catholics knew and understood when sin was sin; there was no watering down of the faith. There was no “subjective truth.” Pre-marital sex and contraception were sins and even if they fell into temptation and took part in these acts, they knew it was sinful and headed to confession immediately.

Now? Well, it’s a different story. Although some Catholics do know the teachings of the faith, many do not. In fact, I’ve spoken to Catholics who are under the mistaken impression that the Catholic faith is a democracy or opinion-based church. I’ve talked to Catholics who had no idea Sunday Mass was an obligation and missing it was a sin. I’ve spoken to Catholics who had no idea that living together before marriage was a sin or that birth control was a sin.

Sacramentals remind us of our faith. They remind us that our life here on earth is temporary and that heaven is our goal.

We have a lot to learn from our ancestors. Our Mass going, rosary reciting, scapular and medal-wearing ancestors understood the importance of sacramentals and the importance of knowing–-and practicing–-their faith. (Read more.)
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Vanilla Bean Champagne Cocktail

From InsideChic: "Atlanta-based party planner Danielle Rollins always gets it just right: a glamorous detail here, a great idea there. We love the ease, elegance and effervescence of her Vanilla Bean Cocktail. It’s just the thing to elevate any occasion." (Read more.) Share

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bourdaloue

If you have ever wondered how ladies in the 18th century managed to relieve themselves with those wide voluminous skirts, then today the mystery is solved. From All Things Georgian:
Just prior to the Georgian era they did had the chamber pot, but that was not very practical to be used in public so they devised an object known as a ‘Bourdaloue’. Personally, we think that the Bourdaloue would have been more discreet to be honest.

Rumour was (as no proof seems to exist) that the name of the object evolved courtesy of a Jesuit priest, Louis Bourdaloue who gave such long speeches that could last for hours that ladies needed to relieve themselves.  Another school of thought is that they came about as a result of women not wishing to miss a second of his amazing sermons, either way, whether true or not the ‘Bourdaloue’ evolved.  Certainly he gave his name to part of a hat* which seems far more acceptable. It also seems feasible that the modern word ‘loo’ came from this term, but again we have no proof of this – maybe one of our readers would be able to assist with this?

It was a boat shaped vessel with a raised lip at one end and handle at the other, a bit like a gravy boat and the maid would be expected to carry this for her mistress and likewise empty it after use. If you didn’t have a maid then you dealt with this yourself. Apparently it was designed to be used standing up, possibly not that easy to use then! (Read more.)

More HERE. Share

Islam and the Closing of the Secular Mind

From The American Spectator:
Then there is the sheer ignorance of history prevailing among much of the secular intelligentsia. This was unfortunately exemplified by the lamentable historiography that was on full display in President Obama's once much-touted, now much-forgotten 2009 Cairo speech. Among other things, the President referred to how Islam "carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment."

Really? Did the President's advisors and speechwriters know that this thesis has been subject to withering critique for over 100 years? Were they conscious that, as the French professor of Arabic and religious philosophy Rémi Brague demonstrated in his book Europe, La voie romaine (1992/1999), the statesman-scholar-monk Cassiodorus (c.485-c.585 AD) not only collaborated with Pope Agapetus I in arranging for the translation of classical Greek texts into Latin, but also established a monastery-school on his family estate to safeguard and study the same works? Were they aware that the works of Antiquity never somehow vanished but were preserved for centuries by Greek-speaking Eastern Christians? Or that Aristotle was known and read in the medieval West long before Arabic translations appeared in Europe? (Read more.)
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The Finding of Charles I

From The Lothians:
At St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on the 1st April 1813, there occurred the opening of the coffin of King Charles I who had met his fate by execution in 1649. But why was this deemed necessary and what took place at the opening? And why was the vault re-opened yet again in 1888? Let us look at the facts.

A search had been made for the burial place by his son King Charles II, "Yet such had been the injury done to the Chapel, such were the mutilations it had undergone, during the period of the Usurpation [Cromwell's rule], that no marks were left, by which the exact place of burial of the King, could be ascertained."
The published accounts of those who had first hand knowledge of the burial also proved unsatisfactory thus the matter rested. But Sir Henry Halford, Physician to the King and the Prince Regent, writes in 1813 that "an accident has served to elucidate a point in history, which.... had [been] involved in some obscurity."

After construction of a vault under the 'Tomb-House' [now the Albert Memorial Chapel], it was in 1813 found necessary to widen the passage to it from under the Choir of St. George's Chapel. In constructing this enlarged passage an aperture was accidentally made into a vault through which the workmen could see three coffins. It was then assumed, from published accounts, that these were the coffins of King Henry VIII, his Queen Jane Seymour, along with that of King Charles I. (Read more.)
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Prophecy of St. Pius X for France

From RoyaumeFrance:
What shall I say to you now, dear sons of France, who groan beneath the weight of persecution? The people who made an alliance with God at the baptismal font of Rheims will repent and return to its first vocation. Her faults will not remain unpunished, but she will never perish, the daughter of so many merits, so many sighs, and so many tears.
A day will come, and we hope it will not be far, when France, like Saul on the road to Damascus, will be surrounded by a heavenly light and will hear a voice repeating to her, “My daughter, why do you persecute me?” And to her response, “Who art thou, Lord?” the voice will reply, “I am Jesus, whom you persecute. It is hard for you to kick against the goad, because, in your obstinacy, you destroy yourself.” And she, trembling and astonished, will say, “Lord, what wouldst thou have me do?” And He will say, “Rise up, wash the filth that has disfigured you, awaken in your heart those dormant affections and the pact of our alliance and go, eldest daughter of the Church, predestined nation, vessel of election, go, as in the past, and carry my name before all peoples and before the kings of the earth. (Read more.)
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Why So Few Syrian Christian Refugees?

From The Stream:
Many Americans would happily have us take in some nice Syrians who have nowhere in the Middle East to turn, who are hunted, plundered, raped, sold and sometimes murdered. And since we have limited capacity in a world of more than 7 billion people, it makes sense to focus on those who have nowhere safe in the Middle East to turn. Yes, Sunni and Shiite Muslims persecute each other in the Middle East, but each group has Sunni or Shiite enclaves they can retreat to in the region. The Christians, meanwhile, aren’t even safe in the refugee camps.

So dangerous are the camps for Syrian Christians that they mostly avoid them. And the UN does its refugee head-counting in the refugee camps. If the Christians aren’t there to be counted, desperate as they are, then they don’t end up on the asylum lists the U.S. State Department uses for vetting potential refugees.

So, why doesn’t the White House take steps to find and include persecuted Syrian Christian in numbers at least proportionate to their slice of the Syrian population? Maybe the Obama administration just doesn’t care, but even if they cared a little, doing something serious about it would risk annoying the Muslim leaders of the Muslim-dominated countries in the Middle East.
As bad off as the Muslim refugees are, they aren’t without politically well-connected advocates in the Middle East. Many Muslim powerbrokers are happy to see Europe and America seeded with Muslim immigrants, and would surely condemn any U.S. action that appeared to prefer Christian over Muslim refugees, even if the effort were completely justified. By and large, they support Muslim immigration to the West and have little interest in seeing Christian refugees filling up any spaces that might have been filled by Muslim refugees.

The deck, in other words, is heavily stacked against the Christian refugees. The White House has been utterly feckless before the Muslim power structure in the Middle East that is doing the stacking, and has tried to sell that fecklessness to the American people as a bold stand for a religion-blind treatment of potential refugees —religion tests are un-American! It’s a smokescreen. (Read more.)

Here is an interesting article about the screening process for refugees. I do not agree with everything in it. Many people call The Donald xenophobic, but he just wants the laws on illegal immigration to be respected.


Dr. Taylor Marshall on the Christian response to Muslim refugees:

So what would Thomas Aquinas say?

I’m afraid that Thomas would be much harsher than most of us would feel comfortable with.
Thomas prizes the “common good” so highly under the virtue of political justice that he openly promotes arms and capital punishment against those who are publicly “dangerous and infectious.”
The common good is the peace of society so that life and faith can thrive. Babies can be born and have a happy life. Grandparents can grow old together. Anyone who seeks to destroy the common good should be, according to Thomas, destroyed.

Thomas Aquinas also taught that anyone that fomented “danger to the community” or heretical movements is worthy of the death penalty:
“Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good.” STh II-II q. 64, a. 2.
It is permissible to kill a criminal if this is necessary for the welfare of the whole community. However, this right belongs only to the one entrusted with the care of the whole community — just as a doctor may cut off an infected limb, since he has been entrusted with the care of the health of the whole body. STh II-II q. 64, a. 3.
Have no doubt that Thomas Aquinas would have stated that Christian nations should receive Christian refugees but refuse Muslim refugees for the sake of national justice and the common good. The Muslim’s official declaration of faith denies natural law (eg, polygamy), religious liberty (eg, Sharia), and implicitly Muhammad’s doctrine and example of political violence.
(Read more.)

Another great reflection on the refugees by a devout Christian who works with them. To quote:
My heart has become in even greater anguish because of the turn of events over the past week: Paris attacked by terrorists possibly from many different countries. And in the wake of that, thousands of Facebook users changed their Profile Pic to that of France’s flag colors. I changed my Profile Pic in solidarity as well. But not everyone stands in solidarity with France. An Iraqi refugee family that has been living in the U.S. for 18 months (father, mother, 2 grown sons, 2 high school sons) that my own family befriended chose to change their Profile Pics to the colors of the Iraqi flag. Under one of the grown son’s profile pic, his mother (a woman that I have shared many dinners with) wrote in Arabic: ‘Go to hell, America. May God curse America and Israel to hell.’ I replied with a warning to use great caution when making online curses against a country that has taken them in, provided them with refuge, financial assistance and free education. Up to this point, there was no indication that there were any negative feelings toward the U.S. I took them to be very friendly, engaged, thankful refugees.I am still in shock over the French attacks and over my “friend’s” post. Because of all the emotion and confusion I’m experiencing, I deactivated my Facebook account, but not before screenshotting this damning post and reporting it to the refugee resettlement agency. (Read more.)

I heard that ISIS had their own magazine but I thought it was a joke. Apparently it is not. To quote from  A Conservative Blog for Peace:
Cracked presents a variant of one of its strong suits, reporting news of the weird (the other being teaching little-known history that should be better known; its weakness is it's becoming as cravenly politically correct as The Onion with sermonizing): 7 things I learned reading every issue of ISIS' magazine, Dabiq.
  • In important ways they're exactly what you think and are honest about it: they're evil killers proud of their slaughter.
  • Don't invade, don't invite. Killing them doesn't deter them; they're willing to die. Their violence in the West (to Muslims here: "If you can't move here like you should, kill a Crusader there for us") makes sense because they're picking a fight, not trying to get our sympathy. They want us to invade Syria so they can fight us on their turf. Makes sense militarily plus it conveniently fulfills one of their prophecies.
  • Western politeness/lefty showing off — "It's Daesh, not ISIS" — doesn't mean anything to them.
  • They're thieves, parasites: they get most of their money from robbing banks and steal most of their weapons from us and the Russians.
  • Their worst enemy and biggest fear, the biggest threat to them: they're going broke. Like depriving a fire of oxygen, just let them burn out over there.
  • Stopped clock: drugs are bad and gold is good, common sense they believe in, which the lefties at Cracked make fun of, taking a swipe at Ron Paul and Internet libertarians for the gold part. I'll add: they realize that having lots of kids is good; contracepting and aborting yourselves into extinction is stupid.
  • The people they hate the most aren't white Westerners but heretical or lapsed Muslims, even the Taliban and al-Qaeda. They mostly kill other Muslims.
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The Final Judgment and the Four Last Things

From Vultus Christi:
Visions of Things to Come
We, for our part, are very much like the disciples who went to Our Lord asking for more information, for an explanation, for a more precise forecast of the things to come. Our Lord warned the disciples then, as today He warns us, not to be deceived by imposters and false prophets, nor troubled by tidings of war and the rumours of war. It is enough that we should be aware that, on the day and in the hour appointed by God, the world as we know it will come to an end, just as surely as my life and yours, as we know it, will come to an end in the hour of our death.

Daniel’s Lineage
To be sure there are holy men and women to whom God has given visions of things to come. The prophet Daniel to whom it was given to see visions in the night, even of “one like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13) has his lineage in the saints and mystics of the Church graced, as he was, with visions and prophecies. Such things, of course, are to be read with an extreme discretion and prudence, lest an unhealthy curiosity overtake the sobriety of faith, and the Confuser (that is the devil) sow the weeds of inner turmoil where the Holy Ghost would sow only the seeds of confidence in God and the hope of everlasting life.

The Four Last Things
There is, I think, great wisdom in the liturgy’s attribution of a Gospel that speaks of the end of the world to this last Sunday before Advent. It brings before our eyes, in one powerful synthesis the four last things that we so easily forget or, at least, try to put out of mind, because they point to our own mortality. What are the four last things? They are: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. The Catechism puts it succinctly:
Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven — through a purification or immediately, or immediate and everlasting damnation. (CCC, 1022).
The Way of Saint Benedict
In Chapter IV of the Holy Rule, our father Saint Benedict enjoins us to live with a sober awareness of the same four last things:
44. To fear the Day of Judgment.
45. To be in dread of hell.
46. To desire with a special longing everlasting life.
47. To keep death daily before one’s eyes.
The Way of the World
Compare Saint Benedict’s four injunctions with the way most people live. They have no fear of the Day of Judgment and no dread of hell. They hardly desire heaven with special longing, and they do whatever they can to avoid keeping death before their eyes. This the way of the world. This is the foundation of the whole industry of entertainment, distraction, pleasure, and pornography . . . as if by keeping oneself amused, by not thinking of death, by squeezing whatever fleeting gratification one can out of passing things, and by looking leeringly at  human flesh, one can keep death at bay. The man who loses sight of the four last things risks frittering away the short span of life allotted to him in time. The psalmist says:
Swift as a breath our lives pass away. What is our span of days? Seventy years it lasts, eighty years, if lusty folk we be; for the more part, toil and frustration; years that vanish in a moment, and we are gone. (Psalm 89:9–10)
(Read more.)
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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Beeton's Book of Household Management

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
Published in 1861, Beeton’s Book of Household Management is perhaps one of the most famous non-fiction books to come out of the 19th century. At over one thousand pages long, it was the first publication of its kind to address all aspects of household management, covering everything from cooking and cleaning to childrearing and animal husbandry. It even includes a section on the law, providing the inquiring housewife with general information on leaseholds, the legal rights and obligations between husband and wife, and the questionable validity of an I.O.U. (Read more.)
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"The West Has Betrayed Us"

Syrian Christians are abandoned. The Patriarch speaks:
"Be careful, the situation in Syria is not like the Egyptian, Tunisian or Libyan. It is much more complex, and conflict will create only chaos and civil war." This is warning from the head of the Syrian Catholic Church, Moran Mor Ignatius Joseph III Younan.

In an interview with Le Messager, the official publication of the Catholic Church in Egypt, the patriarch emphasized that Christians in Syria "are trapped in a terrible situation." The dwindling population faces "sectarian and ethnic" warfare and "terrorist groups that use Islam as an excuse to 'purify' areas under their control in the name of religion."

"We Christians are not able to live in this chaos that produces militias, armed gangs, terrorist groups and Islamic parties," His Beatitude stressed. "But when we maintain a firm stand against these phenomena, then the West accuses us of being dictatorial."

According to Younan, Western democracies have for years conspired "against Syria and have produced the destruction of the nation's infrastructure, the demolition of houses, towns, villages, monuments and archaeological sites."

He labeled this outcome as the result of  "foolish politics and of a conspiracy, under the pretext of bringing democracy to the region."

"Our nations do not easily accept democracy because there is no real separation of religion from the state," he explained. "Minorities beg to be represented in front of the Muslim majority, and they feel like immigrants in a foreign land. We Christians have been in these lands for thousands of years, long before Islam."

"The politicians of the West — and in particular those of the United States, Britain and France — are in favor of an endless conflict in Iraq and Syria," which in turn "has produced groups of terrorists."

The Syriac patriarch noted that both he and the rest of the Eastern patriarchs have "spoken out clearly to the West from the very beginning," explaining that the situation in Syria is much more delicate than anticipated. According to Younan, "they [the Western powers] listened and responded: 'No, the Assad regime will fall in a few months,'" which the patriarch notes has not yet happened, as he predicted.

In the five years since, the people of Syria, and Christians in particular, have received "no support" in dealing with the dangerous mess that has been created.

"The West has betrayed us," asserted Patriarch Younan.  (Read more.)
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Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Most Powerful Woman in the World

"Mary is a magnet for young and old. On August 12, during a Mass celebrating her assumption into heaven, Roman Catholic youths guard a life-size figure in Kalwaria Pacławska, Poland. The Feast of the Assumption is a weeklong festival here."
From National Geographic:
Praying for the Virgin Mary’s intercession and being devoted to her are a global phenomenon. The notion of Mary as intercessor with Jesus begins with the miracle of the wine at the wedding at Cana, when, according to the Gospel of John, she tells him, “They have no wine,” thus prompting his first miracle. It was in A.D. 431, at the Third Ecumenical Council, in Ephesus, that she was officially named Theotokos, Bearer of God. Since then no other woman has been as exalted as Mary. As a universal symbol of maternal love, as well as of suffering and sacrifice, Mary is often the touchstone of our longing for meaning, a more accessible link to the supernatural than formal church teachings. Her mantle offers both security and protection. Pope Francis, when once asked what Mary meant to him, answered, “She is my mamá.”

Her reported appearances, visions experienced often by very poor children living in remote or conflict-wracked areas, have intensified her mystery and aura. And when the children can’t be shaken from their stories—especially if the accounts are accompanied by inexplicable “signs” such as spinning suns or gushing springs—her wonder grows. (Read more.)
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Marian Chivalry in Merry Old England

From Mary Victrix:
Most loved of all who interceded for man was the Virgin. The Gabriel bell rang at evening to call Christians to recite Ave Maria, and the pilgrims flocked to see the replica of her house in the Augustinian priory at Walsingham, believing that the heavenly galaxy, the Milky Way, had been set to guide them there. The cult of supplicating Mary to intercede for human weaknesses which only a woman could be expected to forgive was then first reaching the height of its immense popularity. The great events of her life, the Annunciation, Purification, Visitation and Assumption, had taken their place among the feasts of the Christian year; at the Purification in February, known as Candlemas, everyone walked through the streets carrying candles blessed at the altar in her honour. She was thought of as the embodiment of every womanly virtue; tender, pure and loving and so pitiful that even the most abandoned could hope for forgiveness through her aid. “A woman clothed in the sun with the moon under her feet and upon her head a crown of twelve stars,” a preacher called her: “this great sign and token stretched down into the depths of Hell, for all the devils there dread the name of this glorious Virgin.”

In no land was Mary so honoured as in England—our Lady’s dowry, it was sometimes called. The number of churches and shrines dedicated to her was past counting; no other name figures so often in the lists of the royal oblations. When William of Wykeham founded his colleges at Winchester and Oxford he placed them under her protection, and at both the bishop still kneels in stone with outstretched hands before her to beg a blessing on his endowments. Nearly every church of importance possessed her image in silver, gold or alabaster given by some benefactor, and along the highroads and pilgrim ways were wayside chapels where travellers could tell their beads and say their Ave Marias to the Queen of Heaven. (Read more.)
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Modern Myths of Motherhood

From Beth Berry:
How can this be? How can such a wealth of information be both increasing our understanding AND decreasing our sense of self-worth?

It’s quite simple, really. Our brains aren’t wired for this much intake. We’re suffering from not from actual inadequacy, but from a false sense of ourselves that has reached epidemic proportions.
I call this collective confusion Mythological Motherhood.

A concept I describe at length in Motherwhelmed (my book-in-progress), Mythological Motherhood is the modern phenomenon responsible for the discontent, disillusionment and disconnect plaguing parents of every demographic. It speaks to the enormous gap between what we believe to be possible (based on stories we’re both being told and sold) and the way our current realities look and feel. The greater this gap, the more of these myths a person has likely subscribed to.

The consequence of this mass mythology (presented to us as TRUTH) is an entire generation of mothers who — though more attentive, compassionate, involved, patient, knowledgeable and educated than any other group of mothers since the beginning of time — suffers from so much self-doubt, inadequacy and overwhelm that we barely even benefit from our position of relative privilege.

It’s tragic, but it’s also a trend we’re capable of reversing. (Read more.)
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Friday, November 20, 2015

Lady of the Lakes

The legacy of Beatrix Potter. From Victoria:
Nestled in a small hamlet alongside a babbling brook, Yew Tree Farm is one of the many properties once owned by Beatrix, and now under the care of the British National Trust. In order to avoid any damage to the original Hill Top, its exterior and décor were re-created at Yew Tree during the filming of the motion picture Miss Potter. Today, as Beatrix would have liked, this charming property is a working farm with heirloom livestock and a five-star bed-and-breakfast. (Read more.)
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Caution Does Not Make You a Bad Christian

From Matt Walsh:
The FBI director testified last month that they don’t currently have the ability to conduct background checks on all 10,000 of the refugees President Barack Obama wants to let in. That is a serious problem. It is absolutely unacceptable and unconscionable that a single migrant from a Muslim country would be settled here without a thorough background investigation performed beforehand.
See, this is why the anti-refugee crowd gets defensive. There appears to exist a mindset — a mindset shared by our president — that we should fling open the doors and welcome these people based on their own assurances, and then perhaps double back and check them out once they’ve already moved in to some neighborhood in Minnesota or wherever. That is reckless. That is insane. That is entirely indefensible. If the FBI itself says it can’t, at this point, verify all of the refugees we’re about to resettle, then we need to stop until we can.

 As I said, I don’t think these refugees are terrorist double agents, but I don’t want them admitted under that mere assumption. At any rate, it’s not just terrorists we’re worried about. Even if they are not Islamic State operatives, we still cannot afford to import radical Islamic ideology into this country. I don’t know how you check for ideology — which is another argument against introducing large numbers of these refugees into our communities — but my greatest worry is that we’ll be inviting thousands of people who harbor Middle East-style Islamic beliefs. That might not make them terrorists, but it makes them susceptible to radicalization, and, perhaps most importantly, it means they will never be assimilated into our culture. (Read more.)

From Tim Holcombe:
 Fear of refugees is most definitely not unfounded, particularly when one bothers to do a modicum of research prior to posting something devoid of facts. I am not sure what the basis for saying “these are the most screened people of anyone America receives” is, but this is ludicrous on the surface and of course, there is no supporting evidence to support this claim.

So, here are the facts:

Ramic Hodzic and his wife Sedina, both of St Louis, MO, face trial over allegations they gathered cash to buy military equipment for ISIS fighters in Syria. Also facing trial are Armin Harcevic, Nihad Rosic, Mediha Medy Salkicevic, and Jasminka Ramic.

All six are Bosnian refugees.

Following a series of raids in April, in Minnesota, eight friends were charged with conspiracy to provide material support and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

The eight include Zacharia Abdurahman, Hanad Musse, Abdullahi Yusuf, and Abdurahman Yasin Daud.

All are Somalian refugees, save for Daud, who is a Kenyan refugee.

Not so “stellar,” is it? (Read more.)
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Gwenllian, the Warrior Princess

A Welsh tragedy. From English Historical Fiction Writers:
What the Lord of Gwynedd said to his son and wife when he returned from England to find that Gwenllian was now married to the Prince of Deheubardd is not recorded but the alliance changed Welsh politics. The word ‘alliance’ still means ‘wedding ring’ in modern French and medieval marriages were as important as battles in shaping events. But Gwenllian was no mere trade object. Her soubriquet of ‘warrior princess’ was earned by living rough and fighting alongside her husband.

When Henri I died in 1135 and England was unstable, combined Welsh forces from north and south rose up against the Anglo-Norman castles in a more organised way. At one point in these skirmishes and sieges, Gruffydd won Kidwelly Castle, and Gwenllian lived there for a few months, pregnant, and enjoying the life of a lady. However, Deheubardd was not strong enough to hold Kidwelly. Soon Gwenllian was once more living with her people in the wooded hills, the traditional Welsh tactic to protect women and children in times of war. The nomadic way of life allowed lightning strikes and withdrawals, so the marcher lords were never secure. One consequence of this period was to convince Maurice de Londres, Lord of Kidwelly Castle, that Gruffydd and Gwenllian were a serious threat to Kidwelly.

In 1136 Gruffydd was in North Wales, seeking help from his father-in-law and Gwenllian was Lord of Deheubardd in Gruffydd’s absence. She received word that a Norman army was on its way from England to meet up with Maurice de Londres, intending to wipe out Gruffydd, Gwenllian and their troublesome family. (Read more.)
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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sunset on the Autumn Porch

From Victoria:
I cannot say why autumn is my favorite time of year. Perhaps it’s all the vibrant shades of yellow—the goldenrods that begin blooming into their full color just as August is ending, the black-eyed Susans by the side of the road, the beautiful elms with their burnished foliage. The garden delights and inspires me as much in fall as it does when it is born in the spring.

The little poplar in the middle of the yard is majestic, even though it was planted only a few months ago. Its leaves are a buttery gold now, demanding to be not just admired, but captured eternally in a painting, an illustration, or a poem. Wind chimes announce the arrival of a sharp hint of autumn air, as do the orange mums that sway like awkward children beside licorice-scented marigolds and winterberry holly leaves that sift to the ground in each lifted breeze. (Read more.)
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The Firmness of Faith in the Cataclysm of Time

From Fr. Angelo:
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory” (Mk 13:14-26).
In today’s gospel, Our Lord portends the signs that will accompany the end of the world. The heavens will be shaken to their foundation. The universe will literally come apart, constituting the dissolution of all things of time and the advent of eternity. The sun, moon and stars along with the firmament in which they are set will collapse and fall, and, thus, so shall we.
This is the exact opposite of the way it is all began. The Holy Spirit says in Isaiah:
My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together (48:13).

And in the Book of Daniel, which is the first reading in today’s Mass, the prophet likens the wise among men with the stability of the heavens:
And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever (12:3).
In the Collations on the Six Days of Creation (8, 1-2), St. Bonaventure comments on this verse from Daniel as representative of the firmness of faith. The context is the second day of creation when God stretches out the firmament of heaven and separates the waters below the firmament from those above (cf., Gen 1:6-8). The firmament of heaven is literally a barrier between the two waters, and in it is fixed the heavenly bodies: the sun, moon and stars. Bonaventure says that etymologically caelum, or heaven, is related to the act of engraving, so that we can say that the heavens are engraved with heavenly lights. They are fixed firmly in the heavens.

All light comes from the heavens. Faith is a light that comes from heaven. Thus, faith, according to Bonaventure, is not only lofty and deep, but is also firm like the firmament of the heavens. It is something that cannot and will not pass away until the end of the world, when only charity will remain. Our Lord says in today’s gospel: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away (Mk 13:31). (Read more.)
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A Theology of Women

From The Catholic World Report:
German philosopher and Catholic convert Edith Stein (later St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) explained that women have a deep desire to bring wholeness to themselves and then share their gifts with others. Of course, sin and abuse can affect this desire, but in a healthy woman, this is the general hallmark of the genius of woman. It epitomizes motherhood, both spiritual and physical. Maria Montessori is a great example of this feminine genius; by using her gifts as a doctor, she was able to teach the unteachable—young, impoverished, mentally-challenged boys. Not only did they flourish in remarkable ways, but she revolutionized the way children around the world are now taught. Of course, the best example, which Stein uses over and over again when speaking of the genius of woman, is of Mary at the Wedding Feast of Cana. Quietly, before any of the guests know there is no more wine, she remedies the situation. No fuss, without drawing any attention to herself, she takes care of the problem. These are examples of women using their gifts and sharing them with others in their attention to detail and compassion. 

There is also a connection between motherhood (spiritual and physical) and how our souls relate to God: the feminine spiritual vocation mimics the physical model of motherhood. Over and over again in Scripture and the lives of female saints there is an initial sense of mission that comes before the mission happens; a seed is planted. And then, over time, slowly, God reveals the full truth of the work he planted in the heart of the woman years, or even decades, before. Certainly, we see this in spades in Mary, the perfect woman, both in the Annunciation and Simeon’s prophesy: “A sword shall pierce your heart” (Luke 2:35). Mother Teresa had the sense decades before moving to India that God had a particular mission for her that would eventually blossom. This “seed planting” requires that a woman has the heart to hear God and then the time and patience to let it fully come to life—much like pregnancy. This very different than, say, the insights St. Joseph received through dreams, which required immediate action and not a long period of gestation. Of course, every person is different, but a theology of woman could look more deeply into these sorts of patterns. 

Rather than shun these gifts, these uniquely feminine ways of relating to God and the world, women need to come to understand them and find specific ways to apply them in their own lives. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Inbal Segev, Cellist

From InsideChic:
The Bach Cello Suites are the cellist’s Bible. They are six pieces which amount to a little bit more than two hours of music. They are the pinnacle; the most important work for cello solo. Everybody knows them. Everybody plays them. Everybody has a very strong opinion about them. Recording them puts you on the line. Your recording shows, “This is who I am as a cellist. This is how smart… or not so smart… I am.” It’s a little bit like being naked. They are full of complex ideas. Bach tried to put three voices into one instrument. You have to think of how to bring out those voices. How to make them clear. How to make the music feel free, but also how to keep it structured. What’s fascinating about them is that everybody plays them differently and they can be musically convincing within different interpretations. (Read more.)
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Political Correctnesss: More Dangerous Than ISIS

From Mark O'Malley:
The left in their hypocrisy are now more more concerned about non existent racism on college campuses, while advocating punishing people that basically disagree with their sick fascist ideology but the terrorists who kill liberals and conservatives without mercy are ignored, and worse, the left blames the West for the behavior of terrorists and always try to acknowledge their grievances, and especially after every major terror attack. Just to reiterate the Muslim terrorist has no grievance but has a desire to enslave “the unbelievers” until they submit to Allah, it just that simple. It is the same goal of Hitler, that all should bow to the Fuhrer or you will die, or Stalin, Mao or any other tyrannical regime. The left who espouse justice are sick with their tyrannical desire to silence their opposition, declare “the right” as enemies, instead of viewing themselves as the loyal opposition, that most conservatives do when one is in a political disagreement. (Read more.)
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Holocaust Survivors Speak of Pius XII

From Aleteia:
During the Holocaust wrought by Nazi Germany, an estimated six million European Jews and almost as many other victims were killed by the Nazis.

During this dark hour, Venerable Pope Pius XII proved himself to be an untiring foe against the Nazis, determined to save as many Jewish lives as he could. Yet today Pius XII has received little credit, despite the fact of having saved the lives of at least 8,000 Jews, protecting them inside the Vatican.

In this video, watch Roman Jews tell their story of being rescued from the Holocaust by Venerable Pope Pius XII and the Roman Catholic Church. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Charles Martel

From Nobility:
In 732 Abd-er-Rahman, Governor of Spain, crossed the Pyrenees at the head of an immense army, overcame Duke Eudes, and advanced as far as the Loire, pillaging and burning as he went. In October, 732, Charles met Abd-er-Rahman outside of Tours and defeated and slew him in a battle (the Battle of Poitiers) which must ever remain one of the great events in the history of the world, as upon its issue depended whether Christian Civilization should continue or Islam prevail throughout Europe. It was this battle, it is said, that gave Charles his name, Martel (Tudites) “The Hammer”, because of the merciless way in which he smote the enemy.
 
The remainder of Charles Martel’s reign was an uninterrupted series of triumphant combats. In 733-734 he suppressed the rebellion instigated by the Frisian duke, Bobo, who was slain in battle, and definitively subdued Friesland, which finally adopted Christianity. In 735, after the death of Eudes, Charles entered Aquitaine, quelled the revolt of Hatto and Hunold, sons of the deceased duke, and left the duchy to Hunold, to be held in fief (736). He then banished the Moslems from Arles and Avignon, defeated their army on the River Berre near Narbonne, and in 739 checked an uprising in Provence, the rebels being under the leadership of Maurontus. (Read more.)

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