Sunday, April 23, 2017

Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ

From Peter Kreeft:
Blaise Pascal gives a simple, psychologically sound proof for why this is unthinkable:
The apostles were either deceived or deceivers. Either supposition is difficult, for it is not possible to imagine that a man has risen from the dead. While Jesus was with them, he could sustain them; but afterwards, if he did not appear to them, who did make them act? The hypothesis that the Apostles were knaves is quite absurd. Follow it out to the end, and imagine these twelve men meeting after Jesus' death and conspiring to say that he has risen from the dead. This means attacking all the powers that be. The human heart is singularly susceptible to fickleness, to change, to promises, to bribery. One of them had only to deny his story under these inducements, or still more because of possible imprisonment, tortures and death, and they would all have been lost. Follow that out.   (Pascal, Pensees 322, 310)
The "cruncher" in this argument is the historical fact that no one, weak or strong, saint or sinner, Christian or heretic, ever confessed, freely or under pressure, bribe or even torture, that the whole story of the resurrection was a fake a lie, a deliberate deception. Even when people broke under torture, denied Christ and worshiped Caesar, they never let that cat out of the bag, never revealed that the resurrection was their conspiracy. For that cat was never in that bag. No Christians believed the resurrection was a conspiracy; if they had, they wouldn't have become Christians.

(2) If they made up the story, they were the most creative, clever, intelligent fantasists in history, far surpassing Shakespeare, or Dante or Tolkien. Fisherman's "fish stories" are never that elaborate, that convincing, that life-changing, and that enduring.

(3) The disciples' character argues strongly against such a conspiracy on the part of all of them, with no dissenters. They were simple, honest, common peasants, not cunning, conniving liars. They weren't even lawyers! Their sincerity is proved by their words and deeds. They preached a resurrected Christ and they lived a resurrected Christ. They willingly died for their "conspiracy." Nothing proves sincerity like martyrdom. The change in their lives from fear to faith, despair to confidence, confusion to certitude, runaway cowardice to steadfast boldness under threat and persecution, not only proves their sincerity but testifies to some powerful cause of it. Can a lie cause such a transformation? Are truth and goodness such enemies that the greatest good in history—sanctity—has come from the greatest lie?

Use your imagination and sense of perspective here. Imagine twelve poor, fearful, stupid (read the Gospels!) peasants changing the hard-nosed Roman world with a lie. And not an easily digested, attractive lie either. St. Thomas Aquinas says:
In the midst of the tyranny of the persecutors, an innumerable throng of people, both simple and learned, flocked to the Christian faith. In this faith there are truths proclaimed that surpass every human intellect; the pleasures of the flesh are curbed; it is taught that the things of the world should be spurned. Now, for the minds of mortal men to assent to these things is the greatest of miracles....This wonderful conversion of the world to the Christian faith is the clearest witness....For it would be truly more wonderful than all signs if the world had been led by simple and humble men to believe such lofty truths, to accomplish such difficult actions, and to have such high hopes. (Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 6)
(Read more.)

The Faith Journey of St. Mary Magdalen

From Monsignor Charles Pope:
Mary Magdalene makes a journey in this passage from fear to faith. Let’s prayerfully examine her journey of faith.

I. Her Fearful Fretting Mary Magdalene is looking for a corpse. She’d come out to the tomb that morning for one purpose: to finish the prescribed burial customs for Jesus. His body had been placed in the tomb hurriedly on Friday evening, for it was almost sundown and the Passover feast was near. Now the Passover and Sabbath were complete; it was time to anoint the body and finish all the usual customs.

On Friday, Mary had been through immense trauma, seeing her beloved Jesus, her Messiah, brutally tortured and slowly killed through crucifixion. It seemed as if things could not possibly get worse, yet they just did. It would appear, according to her, that grave robbers had broken in and stolen the body. Strangely, they had left the expensive linens behind. But never mind that, things were now a total disaster. Now it would seem that she could not even perform a final kindness for Jesus.

Because of her fearful fretting, Mary is not able to look at the information before her properly. Jesus had promised to rise from the dead, on the third day, and this was the third day. The empty tomb does not signify grave robbers; it manifests resurrection! In her fear and fretful grief, though, Mary draws only the most negative of conclusions.

This, of course, is our human condition. So many of us, on account of fear and perhaps past trauma, tend to place the most negative interpretations on the events of our daily life. We are quick to seize on bad news, and we dismiss good news too easily, or barely notice that every day most things go right. Instead, we focus on the few things that go wrong. So easily we are negative and forget that even in painful transitions, as certain doors close, others open. New possibilities often emerge even in painful circumstances. (Read more.)


From Peter McCandless:
During the 18th century, Bedlam became a popular attraction. People could visit on certain days, to see the "lunatics." Some histories claim that the public came to stare at and cruelly taunt the patients. Others argue that the public openness brought in money and helped prevent mistreatment. 

In the 1730's, William Hogarth famously depicted a scene in Bedlam in his didactic series, "The Rake's Progress." The rake, who has gone mad as a result of debauchery and debt, is shown at the center, naked, raving, with his head shaved. He is surrounded by stock caricatures of lunatics, including religious maniacs, megalomaniacs, melancholics, and would be popes and kings. (Read more.)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Research Notes on the History of the Philippines

From Edwardian Promenade:
Today, I (virtually) paged through an original 1900 copy of Harper’s History of the War in the Philippines to bring you some of the original images that you cannot find anywhere else. For example, you may know that almost every village in the Philippines—no matter how remote or small—had a band of some sort, whether woodwind, brass, or bamboo. In fact, these musicians learned American ragtime songs so quickly and so enthusiastically that many Filipinos thought “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” was the American national anthem. (Read more.)

Chesterton and Attacks on the Family

From Life Site:
Chesterton was so consistently right in his pronouncements and prophecies because he understood that anything that attacked the family was bad for society. That is why he spoke out against eugenics and contraception, against divorce and “free love” (another term he disliked because of its dishonesty), but also against wage slavery and compulsory state-sponsored education and mothers hiring other people to do what mothers were designed to do themselves. It is safe to say that Chesterton stood up against every trend and fad that plagues us today because every one of those trends and fads undermines the family. Big Government tries to replace the family’s authority, and Big Business tries to replace the family’s autonomy. There is a constant commercial and cultural pressure on father, mother, and child. They are minimized and marginalized and, yes, mocked. But as Chesterton says, “This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it." (Read more.

Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick

From Samantha Wilcoxson:
Edward is often referred to as the son of George of Clarence, but let us not forget that his maternal ancestry is no less impressive. Isabel Neville was the daughter of the infamous Kingmaker, and the house of Neville had been powerful enough to sway the Wars of the Roses in whichever direction they chose to place themselves upon. Should Edward have determined to make a claim for himself, he had deep roots of family ties to call upon that Tudor would have been challenged to compete with. It is for this reason that Edward was initially imprisoned, despite the fact that he was a child. Henry understood that if he allowed this young man to grow and thrive, making the most of these family connections, he would almost certainly become a threat. Henry had learned many lessons from watching the houses of Lancaster and York decimate each other. One of those lessons was to not allow a seemingly innocent threat to become stronger.

York had held Henry VI of Lancaster prisoner for years before they finally put him to death and spread the story that he had died of melancholy. Richard Neville of Warwick, Edward’s grandfather, had not been able to take that step with Edward of York, and the deposed king returned from exile to have his vengeance. Henry Tudor was not going to leave room for the possibility that Edward of Warwick would become one of these stories.

Others saw a child imprisoned in the Tower, but Henry saw the last hope of York neutralized. When rumors had spread in October 1485 that Henry had been a victim of the plague, men began to proclaim Edward king. During uprisings in the spring of 1486, men were heard calling out, ‘A Warwick, A Warwick!’ Tudor had not become king when so many other men had died by ignoring clues such as these. Few would hesitate to make Edward king if Henry died early in his reign without an heir. (Read more.)

Friday, April 21, 2017

French Cottages

From Victoria:
Self-proclaimed ambassadors to a centuries-old medieval estate, Matthew and Jitske Poventud have created a charmed life for themselves, their family, and a constant flow of houseguests. “We want our guests to experience life on this estate, the nature, the tranquility,” says Jitske. “Many people tell us coming here feels like coming home—and that’s a wonderful compliment.” (Read more.)

The Calvinist Roots of the American Social Order

From The Public Discourse:
Witherspoon was a Founding Father: a delegate from New Jersey to the Second Continental Congress, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a delegate to the New Jersey state convention that voted unanimously in 1787 to ratify the national Constitution. A Scottish transplant to the new nation, Witherspoon became one of its most ardent defenders.

“He is as high a Son of Liberty, as any man in America,” John Adams proclaimed him. As a later historian noted, “no American born and bred could have had greater faith than he in the future of the country.”

Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister and the sixth president of the College of New Jersey (known today as Princeton University), a position he assumed in 1768. These quieter roles were his more influential ones. Witherspoon was the first college head in America to lecture systematically on ethics, and his Lectures on Moral Philosophy remain an intellectual staple of America’s most formative period. Scores of Princeton graduates, inspired by Witherspoon’s ideas, went on to distinguished public service in the fledgling nation as state governors, congressmen, cabinet officials, and Supreme Court justices. Many of these names are probably unknown to readers today: William Bradford, Morgan Lewis, Henry Lee, and Henry Brockholst Livingston, to name a few.

One name, however, certainly is not: James Madison, perhaps Witherspoon’s most famous pupil. In 1769, at the age of eighteen, Madison left his home in Virginia’s Tidewater region and made the ten-day journey to Princeton. It was an unusual decision at the time: most young men in Virginia (Thomas Jefferson among them) attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. It was also a decision that would change the nation’s fate. After the young Madison completed his undergraduate studies at Princeton, he remained an additional six months to study Hebrew and political philosophy with Witherspoon. It was there, under the careful tutelage of “the old Doctor,” that Madison acquired his basic political and philosophical instincts. These presuppositions about the nature of man, virtue, self-interest, and power would profoundly shape his later work as chief architect and defender of the national Constitution. Indeed, if Madison is the “Father of the Constitution,” then Witherspoon might well be its grandfather. (Read more.)

Where Marie-Antoinette was Born

From Royal Central:
The Archduchess Maria Antonia – Maria being an established Habsburg prefix given to all the daughters of Empress Maria Theresia, to mark the dynasty’s special allegiance to and veneration for, The Virgin Mary – was born as the 15th child of Maria Theresia on 2 November 1755 at around 8.30 in the evening. She was one of 11 daughters to the imperial couple. She celebrated her name day – a day with probably even greater personal importance to her than her actual birthday – on the Feast Day of St Antony on 13 June. She was christened the day after her birth promptly, being baptised under the names Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna. Maria Theresia had abolished the practice of a public delivery, which was something however – as Marie Antoinette’s biographer Antonia Fraser has correctly pointed out – that the future Queen of France would encounter in her time, as being very much still de rigeur at Versailles.

Maria Theresia’s rooms at the Hofburg Palace were located in the so-called Leopoldnischer Trakt (Leopoldine Wing) which was built in the 1660s during the reign of Emperor Leopold I, after whom the wing takes its name. Today, these are part of the Austrian Chancellery of the Federal President and are therefore not open to the public. The Leopoldine Wing connects the much older Swiss Wing – with its famous Swiss Gate – to the Amalienburg and directly faces the Imperial Chancellery. Originally constructed under the Swiss-Italian architect Filberto Lucchese, it was later enlarged by Giovanni Pietro Tencala. (Read more.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Beauty of Fans

From Regency Explorer:
I am very intrigued by this fan, called “New Opera Fan”. The leaf shows the seating plan of the London Opera House in 1808. The famous dandy Beau Brummell is in box 25.
Plot bunny: The New Opera Fan is a useful tool for a social climber trying to find her way in polite society. But she mixes up the boxes and instead of getting in contact with a viscount (as planned), she meets a handsome, young  scientist who could not care less for balls and glittering event. Nevertheless, she can’t help but fall in love…(Read more.)

Family Dinners

From The Art of Manliness:
Strive for consistency. Try to make family dinner a sacrosanct ritual. Whenever you can, schedule your work and activities around this immovable block. Sometimes very busy high-powered executives will come home from work, eat dinner with the fam, and then go back to work later. They do what they can not to miss it.

What’s great about prioritizing family dinners is that it gives you a goal to shoot for. If you know the wife and kids won’t be sitting down together and will just be fending for themselves, it’s tempting to rationalize continuing to plow through your work. But if you’re expected to be at the table, it’s easier to break away from what you’re doing and get home. Don’t beat yourself up if you have to forgo your family dinner sometimes. Research indicates that children who have dinner with their family at least three times a week enjoy the benefits of family dinners. So just try to be as consistent with it as you can.

It doesn’t actually have to be dinner. Many families today have schedules that make it hard to get everyone home for dinnertime. Dad or Mom works late, and one kid has soccer practice at 6PM while the other kid has a piano recital on the other side of town at 7. It only gets worse as the kids get older. I remember when I got into high school, I was barely ever home for family dinner due to football, work, or student council. Sometimes the solution is a much-needed simplification of our schedules, but it’s just not always possible to get everyone to the table at 6:00. Because of this, many families simply give up altogether on the idea of regularly sharing a meal. (Read more.)

The Power of Touch

From Verso:
The Virginia jurists were chosen by United States Circuit Court judge John C. Underwood, a Radical Reconstruction firebrand whose speeches about the “moral monsters” of racism put him at odds with moderates on both sides of the political divide.

All this research raised more questions than answers. How did Judge Underwood choose these men? And who were they? A few identities came into focus. Lewis Lindsay (seated and holding a scroll in the image above) was a fearless advocate for the confiscation of Confederate lands. Born enslaved in Virginia, Lindsay worked at a Richmond iron works after the war. Albert Royal Brooks (seated second from left in the image above) purchased his and his family’s freedom between 1861 and 1865, and became a respected Richmond businessman and community leader. Joseph Cox (standing far left in the image below) was a free Black man employed as a factory worker, blacksmith, bartender, and storeowner during his lifetime. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mary Lincoln and Marie-Antoinette

Two tragic ladies. To quote:
Lincoln signs her copy of theLife of Marie Antoinette, a marvelous association piece Her signature, "Mary Lincoln," accomplished on the half-title page of Charles Duke Younge, The Life of Marie Antoinette Queen of France (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1877) xvi, 432 pages, 8vo., bound in tooled purple cloth boards with titled spine....Although Mary Lincoln did not meet the same fate as Marie Antoinette, she likely identified with the French queen's plight. Like the guillotined French monarch, her words (whether true or not) and intentions were frequent targets of abuse in the press. Both were viewed as spendthrifts, and while Marie Antoinette's commitment to the welfare of the French people was questioned in her own time ("let them eat cake"), Mary Lincoln's loyalty to the Union (in light of her southern familial ties) was frequently cast into doubt by a hostile press.(Read more.)

Is Academia Our Enemy?

From Town Hall:
The purpose of universities long ago stopped being education, yet Big Edu and its liberal supporters keep pushing the lie that the only way to prepare young Americans for the future is to tie an anchor around their necks. America’s student loan debt now totals a staggering $1.4 trillion carried by 44 million Americans, and 2016 grads are weighed down with an average $37,712 each. And what do they get for it? Nothing but four years older and considerably dumber. Record numbers are using their degrees in Papuan Feminist Literature and Genderfluid Break Dance Therapy as gateway credentials into the exciting field of brewing caffeinated beverages for grown-ups who didn’t still live on the futon in their mom’s spare bedroom at age 33. (Read more.)

Obedience and Love

From Seton Magazine:
If we look into Sacred Scripture, our Lord’s teaching ministry lasted for three years and culminated in His passion, death and resurrection. Two thousand years later, His teachings still continue to attract countless disciples from far and wide. The word disciple comes from the Latin word discipulus meaning “a learner”. In living out our vocation, we have to remember that if our children are learners, then our calling as parents is to teach. And who best to look up to but our Master Teacher, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself. Our Lord’s relationship with his disciples was based on love and respect. His disciples, in turn, obeyed Jesus not out of fear but out of a deep desire to love Him back. One of the main goals of behavior modification science is the successful eradication of specific unfavorable behaviors. While this is a just and noble cause, we, as Catholics, believe that we are more than just beings defined by our behaviors. We are human beings made in the image and likeness of our Heavenly Father. (Read more.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How to Garden Like a Medieval Monk

From English Heritage:
The garden of the Mount Grace Priory cell is English Heritage’s best preserved example of monastic horticulture. It was replanted for the first time in 1994, following archaeological excavation of the cells. The excavations showed that the lay-out and use of each garden varied according to the inclination and interest of the individual monk.

The pattern of paths and beds in the garden was based on archaeological evidence, but it was uncertain which plants were used or how they may have been arranged in the beds. None of the recent planting was intended to be a restoration or reconstruction of the original garden. It instead was a demonstration of the kinds of plants that were grown in gardens at the time the monastery flourished.

Equipment, too, has changed how we tend to our gardens today. Monk’s tools would have been simple wooden and metal ards (like a small hand pulled plough) or mattocks rather than the mechanised marvels of today’s horticulture. Rather than a tractor, power for larger plots would have been provided by oxen.

Cell gardens as at Mount Grace Priory provided monks with the opportunity for manual labour within the confines of their own cell, which was a key part of the Carthusian ideal. As a hortus conclusus (enclosed garden) they also had biblical associations including the garden of the ‘Song of Solomon’, and alluded to the ‘original’ Garden of Eden, or to ‘Paradise’ itself. These spaces were not primarily for food production but had multiple functions of spirituality, health and utility. The mass of food for the monks came from much larger kitchen gardens, plots and farms elsewhere.

These cell gardens were strongly geometric in form, often compartmentalised (defining spaces for medicinal or poisonous species) and in the 15th century started to become decorative. This included a mix of medicinal and aromatic herbs, and flowering plants to lift the mind and spirit and to aid contemplation. (Read more.)

Secret Abortions

From Live Action News:
Brenda Pratt-Shaffer spent three days working at a late-term abortion facility before she became so troubled by what she saw that she quit. She recently wrote a book about her experiences called What the Nurse Saw: Eyewitness to Abortion. On Pratt–Shaffer’s first day in the abortion facility, she cared for a teenage girl who was there having an abortion without her parents’ knowledge. Pratt–Shafer wrote:
One of the things that really bothered me that day was a fifteen-year-old girl having her third abortion. Her parents did not even know that she was there. She was laughing the whole time she was in the clinic. I wondered if this was a nervous laugh or if she truly just did not care….I just kept thinking about my fifteen-year-old daughter that I had to sign for to have her ears pierced. But here was a fifteen-year-old having such a horrific procedure for the third time that her parents didn’t even know about.(1)
This young woman was in a self-destructive spiral. As a teenager having an abortion, she was already at higher risk of suicide than an adult having an abortion. One study found that a post–abortive teenager is 10 times more likely to commit suicide than a teenager who has never had an abortion. (Read more.)

Is Traditional Publishing Still Worth It?

From Writers for Hire:
“Writing a novel is like driving at night in the fog,” E.L. Doctorow once said. “You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” But when you finish a book, those headlights may fade out. You face a question the muse can’t answer: Should I seek a traditional publisher or independently publish this myself? It’s a complex issue, full of facets and trade-offs. The choice depends on who you are, what you’ve written, and what you want your book to achieve. No answer is right for every author or even for every book from the same author. So which way do you go? Part I of this blog examines the considerations before publication. Part II (to come) deals with post-publication matters like marketing and total payment. (Read more.)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring Place Settings

From Southern Lady Magazine: "Press or steam a square napkin of your choice. We recommend a 20″ x 20″ napkin that has a bit of weight to it. With the right side down on a flat surface, fold the napkin in half vertically." (Read more.) Share

The Virtue of Industry

From Seton Magazine:
The wonderful Fr. Lasance once wrote to Catholic ladies:
“Do not take alarm at the mention of work; the word may have a harsh sound, but the thing itself is not so harsh and bitter as it may appear at first sight. You must not, as is too often the case, immediately connect with it the idea of toil, fatigue, and degradation which pertains to a slavish occupation. For everything must, in fact, be won by work, everything which does not grow of itself, like fruit on a tree.”
He says: “Christianity teaches us to regard work as something sacred, honorable, and exalted. Work is your duty . . . You must not only value work very highly, you must also love it. We are taught by daily experience that industrious, active girls who are fond of work are almost without exception virtuous and pure.”

What challenging statements these are! Not only should we regard the opportunities we have every day to work in our home, cooking and tidying and wiping and straightening, with appreciation—we should love to do this work? Well . . . to be blunt, “loving work” seems possible only with gritted teeth some days, yet the virtue of industry, if we pray for it, can help us to see the proper value of our work.

Industry keeps us at work for the right reasons. Our daily work in the home, if done with as generous and humble an attitude as we can muster, is sanctifying work and pleasing to God. Simple daily work mortifies our flesh and prevents us from being idle (and idleness, as our mothers have always told us, is the devil’s playground!); it keeps our bodies healthy and our minds refreshed. It keeps us content with simple things, because after a good hour’s work, a glass of water and a book is more than enough to fill us with gratitude! Work makes us good stewards of the material possessions God has given us and prevents us from discontentedly looking outward to greener pastures . . . instead, work keeps us plowing and fertilizing our own fields! Most of all, holy work in the home directly cares for our family: the people God has ordained for us to serve first and last every day. (Read more.)

History of English

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
In the 1230s, Henry III had become the first king of England since 1066 to give distinctively English names to his sons – Edward and Edmund. The eldest son, Edward I, was very conscious of his Englishness, and French gradually became an acquired language. Documents began to be written in English again and during the 100 Years War there was a massive impetus to speak English. Church sermons, prayers and carols were all expressed in English. During the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381, Richard II spoke to the peasants in English.

But English was now what we term Middle English (ME) – a written record of what had been happening for a while in spoken English. An example of how the language was changing is the case of the letter y. In OE (Old English) it represented a short vowel, written by French scribes as u. The OE word mycel became ME muchel, which becomes modern much. When y stood for a long vowel it was written by the French scribes as ui. So the OE fyr becomes the ME fuir and the modern fire. This sound, though, was pronounced differently in different parts of the country, sometimes representing the i in kin, elsewhere (Kent and parts of East Anglia) it was more like the e in merry. In the west it was the oo in mood, but spelt with a u. So the OE for kin, cyn, could be kyn, ken, or kun. (Read more.)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Christ is Risen! Alleluia, Alleluia!

I like the idea that beauty and holiness are the apologia for Christianity. The beauty of Christianity needs to shine out more; this is where the celebration of the liturgy becomes central. And the goodness of Christianity, i.e. the holiness of self-giving love (the witness of charity) and of prayer, needs to be sustained and developed. And this too, certainly: that the one thing Christianity has to offer is Easter. Simply: Christ is risen!
— Dom Hugh Gilbert (from A Conservative Blog for Peace)

The Regina caeli is said in place of the Angelus during Eastertide. It is chanted, HERE.

Queen of Heaven
V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Regina caeli
V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Here is the Easter Sequence, to be sung before the Gospel during the Easter Octave:

Victimae Paschali laudes immolent Christiani.
Agnus redemit oves: Christus innocens Patri reconciliavit peccatores.
Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando: dux vitae mortuus, regnat vivus.
Dic nobis Maria, Quid vidisti in via?
Sepulcrum Christi viventis, et gloriam vidi resurgentis.
Angelicos testes, sudarium et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea: praecedet suos in Galilaeam.
Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere: Tu nobis, victor Rex miserere.
Amen. Alleluia.


Christians, to the Paschal victim offer sacrifice and praise.
The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb; and Christ, the undefiled,
hath sinners to his Father reconciled.
Death with life contended: combat strangely ended!
Life's own Champion, slain, yet lives to reign.
Tell us, Mary: say what thou didst see upon the way.
The tomb the Living did enclose; I saw Christ's glory as He rose!
The angels there attesting; shroud with grave-clothes resting.
Christ, my hope, has risen: He goes before you into Galilee.
That Christ is truly risen from the dead we know.
Victorious King, Thy mercy show!
Amen. Alleluia Share

The Eighth Day

Let, then, the week with its Sabbath pass by; what we Christians want is the eighth day, the day that is beyond the measure of time, the day of eternity, the day whose light is not intermittent or partial, but endless and unlimited. Thus speak the holy Fathers, when explaining the substitution of the Sunday for the Saturday. It was, indeed, right that man should keep, as the day of his weekly and spiritual repose, that on which the Creator of the visible world had taken his divine rest; but it was a commemoration of the material creation only. The Eternal Word comes down in the world that he has created; he comes with the rays of his divinity clouded beneath the humble veil of our flesh; he comes to fullfil the figures of the first Covenant. Before abrogating the Sabbath, he would observe it as he did every tittle of the Law; he would spend it as the day of rest, after the work of his Passion, in the silence of the sepulchre: but, early on the eighth day, he rises to life, and the life is one of glory.

Nineteenth Century Easter Bonnets

From Mimi Matthews:
By the end of the nineteenth century, some magazines were reporting that the popularity of the Easter bonnet had come to an end.  An article in the 1896 edition of the Illustrated American declared that “the passing of the Easter bonnet is inevitable.  It’s doom has been spoken, its fate sealed—in short, it no longer exists.”  The same article goes on to state that:
“Women of fashion have decreed that it is ‘bad form’ to wear new and gorgeous apparel on Easter Sunday in the bourgeois manner of past years, irrespective of the appropriateness of the season or the occasion…The day for women to appear in gaudy clothes, topped by summery hats, on a cold, blustering day of early spring ‘because it is Easter,’ and their toilets have been created for the dress parade that follows the Easter church service and must be worn, is emphatically a thing of the past and has been for several years now…”
(Read more.)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Exultet

The Easter Proclamation or Exultet from the Holy Saturday liturgy is one of the most sublime chants in the Roman rite, although it has gone through some changes over the years. Listen to it, HERE. Here is the authorized English translation from the 1970 Missale Romanum:

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!
Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!
My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.
Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.
It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!
This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.
This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.
This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!
This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.
What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.
O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!
Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."
The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.
Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!
Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.
Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.
(For it is fed by the melting wax,
which the mother bee brought forth
to make this precious candle.)
Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!
May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.


Memories of Ella

Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna, wife of Sergei Alexandrovich. To quote:
I have an unforgettable vision of the sister of the Tsarina, wife of the Grand Duke Sergius: Elizaveta Feodorovna, nee Princess Elisabeth of Hessen-Darmstadt. It was at the christening of the heir to the throne, at which I was present.  After standing continuously for some time in the church I began to feel rather faint, as I always did, and one of my dear uncles took me into another part of the building, where I could sit down and recover a little. As we were going back to the chapel the Grand Duchess came towards us, in Russian dress with magnificent emerald ornaments. In that dress,  and in the setting which surrounded her, at that moment she seemed, in the radiance of her beauty, like some ikon, some old Byzantine saint which had come to life! How often I have seen this picture in my mind’s eye, how vividly it came back to me when I head the news of her martyr’s death in the shaft of the mine at [Alapayevsk].  

Crown Princess Cecilie of Prussia, Memoirs

Holy Saturday

From Fish Eaters: 
It was to the Limbo of the Fathers that Christ descended, a place of the dead that was emptied through His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, and no longer exists. By this "Harrowing of Hell," as His Descent is sometimes called, the doors to Heaven were swung open so that those who die in a state of grace may enter in, alleluia! Adam, Eve, Noe, Abraham, Moses, the good thief on the cross -- all the righteous were illuminated by the Presence of Christ in the place of death, making Sheol itself a paradise. They remained there with Him until His Bodily Resurrection when the the "bars of Hell" were broken down and they were later able to enter into Heaven itself with His glorious Ascension.
 Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began....He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him -- He who is both their God and the son of Eve.. "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son....I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead." [Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR]
 Because of this great silence, today there will be no Mass (until the Vigil Mass tonight, which technically is Easter); instead, there is a solemn service. Today is traditionally a day of abstinence in addition to being a day of fasting, until the Vigil Mass, when the Lenten Fast ends. Though this fasting requirement was abolished in the new Code of Canon Law, traditional Catholics follow the traditional practice. In some churches today, priests will bless Easter baskets containing the foods eaten tomorrow (in other places, the baskets will be blessed after the liturgy tomorrow). Baskets bearing Easter bread, Easter eggs, meats, butter, horseradish, and salt are brought to church, blessed, and taken home to await the great feast tomorrow.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday

"My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!...I gave you a royal scepter, but you gave me a crown of thorns." ~from the Improperia.

"We Have No King but Caesar"

From These Stone Walls:
Getting to the story beneath the one on the surface is important to understand something as profound as the events of the Passion of the Christ. You may remember from my post, “De Profundis,” that Jesus said something perplexing when he learned of the illness of Lazarus:
“This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.” (John 11:4)
The irony of this is clearer when you see that it was the raising of Lazarus that condemned Jesus to death. The High Priests were deeply offended, and the insult was an irony of Biblical proportions (no pun intended). Immediately following upon the raising of Lazarus, “the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council” (the Sanhedrin). They were in a panic over the signs performed by Jesus. “If he goes on like this,” they complained, “the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place (the Jerusalem Temple) and our nation” (John 11 47-48).

The two major religious schools of thought in Judaism in the time of Jesus were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Both arose in Judaism in the Second Century B.C. and faded from history in the First Century A.D. At the time of Jesus, there were about 6,000 Pharisees. The name, “Pharisees” – Hebrew for “Separated Ones” – came as a result of their strict observance of ritual piety, and their determination to keep Judaism from being contaminated by foreign religious practices. Their hostile reaction to the raising of Lazarus had nothing to do with the raising of Lazarus, but rather with the fact that it occurred on the Sabbath which was considered a crime.

Jesus actually had some common ground with the Pharisees. They believed in angels and demons. They believed in the human soul and upheld the doctrine of resurrection from the dead and future life. Theologically, they were hostile to the Sadducees, an aristocratic priestly class that denied resurrection, the soul, angels, and any authority beyond the Torah. (Read more.)

Suffering in Congo

From The Catholic Herald:
Congo’s bishops have said Catholics are facing a new wave of violence following the collapse of a Church mediation plan, and in some places Church leaders have fled to the forest. In late March, the bishops abandoned attempts to arrange a government-opposition power-sharing settlement and, within days, violence erupted in eastern Congo. “The militias are continuing their macabre operations – each passing day sees new killings and burning of religious buildings,” said a statement on the bishops’ conference website.

“The worst affected is the Diocese of Luebo, where the bishop’s house, library, sisters’ convent and vehicles have been burned, and priests and religious have fled to the forest with other inhabitants. The situation is harsh and unbearable.”

The statement followed attacks on church personnel and property in Congo’s Kasai and Kivu regions. Bishop Sebastien Muyengo Mulombe of Uvira said the situation in Kivu had been exacerbated by the arrival of 15,000 refugees from neighbouring Burundi, adding that he had been forced to suspend wages to teachers at local church schools after a delivery driver was killed in a robbery. (Read more.)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Franz Joseph Washing the Feet of the Poor

In accord with the ancient custom.
In 1850, Franz Joseph participated for the first time as emperor in the second of the traditional Habsburg expressions of dynastic piety: the Holy Thursday foot-washing ceremony, part of the four-day court observance of Easter. The master of the staff and the court prelates chose twelve poor elderly men, transported them to the Hofburg, and positioned them in the ceremonial hall on a raised dais. There, before an invited audience observing the scene from tribunes, the emperor served the men a symbolic meal and archdukes cleared the dishes. As a priest read aloud in Latin the words of the New Testament (John 3:15), “And he began to wash the feet of the disciples,” Franz Joseph knelt and, without rising from his knees, washed the feet of the twelve old men in imitation of Christ. Finally, the emperor placed a bag of twenty silver coins around the necks of each before the men were led away and returned to their homes in imperial coaches.(Read more.)

Music for Holy Week and Easter

From The Imaginative Conservative:
Rossini’s setting of the scene of the Stabat Mater—whose text comes from a thrirteenth-century hymn possibly written by Pope Innocent III—comes a century and a quarter after the realization by his compatriot Vivaldi, and it is worlds apart in style as well as time. Drawing on the tradition of bel canto (“beautiful singing”) that he helped to make famous, Rossini’s effort is operatic in many sections, never more so than in the second movement, “Cuius animam gementem” (“Through her weeping soul”), in which the tenor sings, to a breezy tune, words of the utmost pathos. (Read more.)

Is Your Back Story Sabotaging Your Novel?

From Jane Friedman:
I often see manuscripts where the writer has invented a detailed and dramatic back story for a character, but the main story events lack impact and substance. There is no meat left for the book’s real-time plot and so the novel seems empty and static. Of course, the story may be precisely that; the character might be coming to terms with past mistakes. The focus might be the finer detail of living with a burden, or leaving behind a golden period that is gone forever. But just as often, this approach is not deliberate and the writer is scrabbling around, trying to find stuff for the characters to do. They don’t realize they’ve already got fantastic ideas, but hidden them in the back story. Could that back story be used as a fully fleshed flashback so the reader could participate? Or, more radically, could those same ideas be extracted from the past and reworked as a forward-moving plot? Consider whether your back story ideas should be front story. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

An Easter Menu

From Southern Lady:
Spring’s garden harvest shines in this tableau and its accompanying menu, full of bright flavors that celebrate the season. Cap off the feast with a glorious lemon cake topped by a cloud of limoncello-kissed frosting—a slice of sunshine on a plate.
Menu Selections
Honey Apricot Glazed Ham
Roasted Spring Vegetables
Arugula Potato Salad
Dilly Rolls
Dreamy Lemon Cake with Limoncello Frosting (Read more.)

The New-Martyrs of Egypt

From The Catholic Gentleman:
As the smoke cleared, the devastation became apparent. Blood and body parts covered the floor, pews, and walls. Palm branches that were moments ago held aloft in joyful celebration were now scattered on the ground. Wails and cries erupted as survivors identified the dead as their loved ones and friends. Passion week had truly begun for these Egyptian Christians, entered into and sealed with sorrow.

I shed tears with a broken heart for these dear Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt. They have suffered so much for being faithful to the name of Jesus. In my home, I have a copy of the original icon created by a Coptic Christian after 21 Copts were kidnapped and beheaded on a beach in Libya. They died repeating the name of Jesus. “The people of the Cross,” their killers called them with spite and hatred in their voice. And so they were, though their killers knew not that it was the sign of their triumph and not their defeat.

The word martyr comes from the Greek word meaning witness. In the early church, the martyrs were the most cherished treasures of the ekklesia. Their mangled bodies were recovered from the places of their executions and buried with great love and honor. Prayers were offered at their graves and many of their names are still remembered and venerated today. (Read more.)
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Five Problems to Avoid in Your First Novel

From The Creative Penn:
As a reader or a movie goer, how frustrating is it when a character doesn’t turn out to be more than they seem? It means the writer didn’t have any insight into the inner life of this person or their world. When a character has depth, we want to spend time with them – regardless of whether they’re good or evil, sympathetic or not – we’re drawn to their story and compelled to find out more. One effective way to make sure your character is rich and multi-dimensional is to write their backstory. This backstory is written outside your novel, and it should tell the character’s individual story—where they come from, what drives them and why—along with details about their life. You can think of it as a mini history, and ask yourself what you might write if you were doing it for a family member or friend. You might include details about where they were born and who their relatives are, along with defining moments in their life, and tidbits about what they like or dislike. In other words, you would include the big things, along with quirks that make them unique. You might scratch your head and wonder why this is necessary. It’s not going to be in the book after all. Who cares about their backstory? (Read more.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Gathering of Egg Cups

From Victoria:
As diminutive as they are exquisitely detailed, these shapely collectibles garner appreciation that exceeds their dainty proportions. Beyond cradling soft-cooked eggs served at brunch, they can be used in myriad ways. Companies began offering eggcups in their most beloved china patterns during Victorian times, but these charming serving dishes were first noted among culinary traditions generations before. (Read more.)

Abortion Does Not Empower Women

From Live Action:
Society tells us that abortion empowers women. Media personalities, Hollywood celebrities, and pro-choice activists call an act that destroys a living human being a “woman’s right.” We’re told abortion is a personal choice, a private matter, a decision which can bring the promise of a better life. The language of abortion being ‘safe, legal and rare’ has been replaced with the language of  ‘abortion positivity’ and ‘reproductive justice.’ While some may assert that no one is ‘pro-abortion,’ abortion is labeled as a ‘social good,’ — and even the sale of various types of pro-abortion paraphernalia is becoming more common.

As a woman in America, I’m often told supporting women includes accepting their right to legal abortion. In order to belong to the ‘sisterhood,’ I should toe the line and support abortion on demand. Women are fed the message that regardless of morality, the law permits us to decide the fate of children growing inside of us. We either agree with the “my body, my choice” rhetoric or face accusations of hating those who share our gender. If we dare believe in women’s empowerment or feminism without support of abortion, we’re mocked or pressured into silence. (Read more.)

For Writers: How to Deal with Rejection

From The Creative Penn:
What danger is to a cop, rejection is to a writer–always hanging in the air dripping with possibility. And drip it does, onto the talented and untalented in almost equal measure. Actually it doesn’t just drip; it pours. Rejection has a 360-degree aim — from literary agents who don’t want you as a client, editors who don’t want your manuscript, publishers who give you an insulting advance, bad reviews from literary critics, hate speeches on Amazon, and of course the ultimate rejection—poor sales. Somebody, somewhere at just about every stage of your writing life gives you the finger, a hand and sometimes the whole arm. Success makes it worse because now you have more to lose. Who do you think suffers more—the newbie who can’t get her first manuscript accepted or the best seller who can’t get his last published because his prior two books tanked? Success, as any best-selling author knows, doesn’t protect you from rejection. (Read more.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Life Rediscovered

From Victoria:
Longing for a quieter life, an adventurous French couple left it all behind and followed their dreams to Château de Dirac, a charming castle in eastern France....The castle, surrounded by breathtaking woods and green meadows, has a storied history. Of the four original towers, two remain—one from the twelfth century and the other from the fifteenth century. The main building, situated between the towers, and the farmhouse date from the nineteenth century. (Read more.)


Making a SuperBaby

From VELA Mag:
When I was pregnant, I tried to make a SuperBaby. I did not realize I was doing this. I believed I’d long ago shed the theory that a body could be made perfect. But looking back, my goal was clear. I ate 100 grams of protein a day. I swallowed capsules of mercury-free DHA. I gave up wheat for reasons I forget. I kept my cell phone an arm’s length away from my belly to avoid damaging my SuperBaby with electromagnetic waves. I did not own a microwave. I shopped at Whole Foods, bought all organic, sometimes racked up bills of $300 a week. I never let a kernel of GMO corn touch my estrogen-laden tongue. I spoke to my SuperBaby, welcoming it into my body so that it would feel loved and supported. I avoided finding out my SuperBaby’s sex so I wouldn’t project gender roles onto her/him/them. I slept on my left side because I’d read it was best for my baby’s and my circulation. In the last months, I never once reclined on a sofa because I’d heard the position could put a baby posterior. Instead, I always leaned forward, elbows propped on my spread knees like I was forever on the verge of imparting a proverb.

Lastly, I prepared meticulously for an unmedicated birth. In the final months of pregnancy, I ended each hip-aching day by popping earbuds into my ears, closing my eyes, and listening to Hypnobabies, a natural-birthing program that guided me through self-hypnosis.

My baby will be born healthy and at the perfect time, a woman’s voice uttered as I descended into a dreamy soup of electronica chords and affirmations. My body is made to give birth nice and easy. I look forward to giving birth with happiness. My baby is developing normally and is healthy and strong. The words were supposed to become lodged into my subconscious. I see my bubble of peace around me at all times now. I focus on all going right…

After thirty-six hours of labor, the last five of which can best be described as an apocalypse at the very base of me, I pushed my baby out and into the warm waters of a hospital tub. My midwife dangled a slippery, bloody thing above me. Without my glasses my SuperBaby looked like a bean-shaped blur.

“What a little peanut!” the midwife cried. And that was the kindest thing any medical professional would say about my newborn’s body.

Abruptly, her tone changed. “Cut the cord!” she barked.

“But we were going to wait until the cord stops…” my husband said. Cutting a cord prematurely could rob SuperBaby of vital nutrients and…

“Cut it now!” the midwife commanded.

My husband snipped, and the midwife whisked the bean-shaped blur away.

I moved to a bed and prepared to birth the placenta. A nurse sat beside me. I asked, “Is my baby okay?”

She said nothing. (Read more.)

Fake Olive Oil

A public announcement. From Anonymous:
There’s an enemy at the gates, it has been slowly infiltrating our olive oil market and corrupting one of the products that we all know is a healthy, sustainable option and one of Europe’s secrets to longevity. That’s right, 7 of the biggest olive oil manufacturers in the US have been cutting their products with cheaper, inferior oils (such as sunflower oil or canola oil) in order to minimize the cost of production, but it has come at a huge cost to everyone who invests in this healthy alternative.

And this is not too dissimilar to 2008, when over 400 Italian police officers participated in a major crackdown called “Operation Golden Oil.” This resulted in the seizure of 85 oil farms who were adding certain percentages of chlorophyll to sunflower and canola oil and selling it on as extra virgin olive oil. The oil is mixed, perfumed, coloured and then flavoured before being sold to the producer as “extra virgin.” These busts prompted the Australian government to investigate their own olive oil market, and indeed, after testing all of its brands’ “extra virgin olive oils” in their laboratories, none were given the 2012 certification for being a pure olive oil. All of these scams prompted the University of California to carry out studies on 124 imported brands of extra virgin olive oil, and they found that over 70% of the samples failed the test. (Read more.)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Feast of Beauty

From Victoria:
After the stillness of a long winter, spring somehow manages to catch us by surprise. Suffused with light, the garden bursts forth—revealing new growth in a shifting kaleidoscope of blossoms. Greet this treasured season with an alfresco gathering where a profusion of florals sets the tone for a glorious celebration...Hibiscus tea, an infusion made from the subtropical roselle bloom, adds tartness to the airy dessert filling in our decadent Chocolate Mousse in Chocolate Cups. Raspberries, edible flowers, and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar draw attention to these artful treats. (Read more.)


Nigeria's Forgotten Christians

From The Catholic Herald:
It is three years now since Boko Haram declared a caliphate in the areas of Nigeria it controlled. One eyewitness recently described to me how in the years before the caliphate was proclaimed several Afghans appeared in the area of Maiduguri. Over the ensuing months more and more foreigners appeared – from Somalia, Mali and also Arabs. They began to train at night and recruit young locals. “When the caliphate came” is how Nigeria’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) often begin their stories. When the caliphate came, the names of Christians were already on a list. Some were tipped off and most managed to get out in time. Hundreds who did not were slaughtered.

The rest of the Christian community walked in a great exodus across the mountainous borders, into Cameroon and back around into safer areas of Nigeria. More than one and a half million people from one state alone – Borno – are now displaced from their homes, and you can meet them at IDP camps across the country.

Boko Haram’s seizure of 300 Chibok schoolgirls in 2014 was one of the few times that the plight of Nigeria’s Christians has broken through to international headlines. The government continues to maintain that it is doing everything possible to solve the plight of the abducted girls. But whether through complicity, corruption, incompetence or all these, the girls remain missing.

Stories of their conversion to Islam and forced marriages filter back. But for the Christians of Nigeria the Chibok case raises daily questions. Not least because what happened in 2014 is merely a large-scale version of something that occurs all the time. (Read more.)

Machiavelli and the Borgias

From The New York Times:
In her latest novel, Sarah Dunant returns to the Borgias, that flamboyant family of 15th-century clerics and cutthroats, a larger-than-life clan that includes Pope Alexander VI, also known as Rodrigo; his son Cesare, a reluctant cardinal turned conqueror; and the infamous Lucrezia, whose reputation Dunant has done much to restore. In Dunant’s view, Lucrezia isn’t nearly as bad as, say, Victor Hugo or Alexander Dumas led us to believe — or Donizetti in his opera. And historians now agree, having dismissed as gossip the notion of Lucrezia as a murderer with a love of poison.
To a degree, “In the Name of the Family” has less excitement than its predecessor, “Blood and Beauty,” in which Dunant followed the rise of Rodrigo as pontiff, describing his galvanic lust for attention, for women, for power, and his willingness to make use of his helpless daughter, who becomes a pawn in his machinations, forced to marry men who would advance her father’s worldly kingdom. To compensate, Dunant has added another character, Niccolò Machiavelli, author of “The Prince,” who provides us, at the outset, with a snapshot of the Italy of his time, a boot whose surface has been “discolored by the vicissitudes of history.” This is a reminder that the action will take place centuries before unification, that the Italy of the period is still a loose collection of city-states, each with its own internal tensions, its own rivals and potential invaders. In the midst of all this, the Borgias have risen, a family with a talent for conquest — just the sort of people to captivate Machiavelli, the master of expediency. It’s material that, in the hands of a gifted storyteller like Dunant, will captivate readers. (Read more.)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Garden Organization

From Southern Lady:
Gardening can be relaxing work, but sometimes tracking down the right tools, having the right space to prep in, and keeping it all tidy can bring lots of fuss to otherwise fancy-free afternoons. So Birmingham-based designer Troy Rhone came up with this clever potting shed. A built-in shelf keeps his stacks of clay pots at hand but also neatly out of the way. The large counter below offers plenty of work space, while pullout drawers and hidden compartments below provide storage for soil, mulch, and tools like trowels and weeding buckets. “It’s really practical, yet it’s attractive,” Troy says. (Read more.)


So Much for Liberty

From The Federalist:
When Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher attended the Paris Summit in 1989 that celebrated the Bicentenaire of the French Revolution, reporters flocked around the “Iron Lady” to get her opinion of that tumultuous event.

“I think it resulted in a lot of headless bodies and a tyrant,” Mrs. Thatcher coolly responded. Shocked, reporters asked if she could not concede, at minimum, that the French Revolution initiated the West’s proclamation of human rights. “Certainly not,” she retorted, “human rights were proclaimed in Magna Carta!”

Indeed. And Magna Carta began with recognizing the rights of the Christian church. All of that seems adjourned now in light of the French Socialist government’s new attack on freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and liberty of conscience. French President Francois Hollande is so unpopular he dared not seek a second term. But that that did not deter his discredited government from attacking pro-life websites that offer women an alternative to abortion.

The French government seems blasé about its own actions, and one report on the vote blandly claimed that the opinions France is outlawing are merely those of “right wing politicians and Catholics.” As if right-wing citizens and Catholics can have their civil rights cut off without recourse in a nation that calls itself a democracy. (Read more.)