Thursday, November 30, 2017

About Rose Geranium Essential Oil

From the Trianon Health and Beauty Blog:
I use rose geranium essential oil in both the Morning Bouquet Facial Treatment and the Grotto Facial Cleanser because its fragrance is both calming and uplifting, helping the day to start well. The scent of rose geranium is similar to that of a rose but more mysterious, almost like the soul of a rose. (Read more.)
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Nazism in America

From Matt Walsh:
The majority of our citizens do not sympathize with Nazism outright. Many, however, sympathize with some of the primary goals and most brutal tactics of the Nazi party.  Though they may not think of it in those terms, they still celebrate the achievement of “eliminating” medical conditions by killing the babies who have it, and they applaud governments that “expand reproductive health access” by forcing helpless citizens to fund the mass extermination of human beings. They may not march through the streets waving swastikas around, but they look with indifference or approval at our own version of the Nazi death camp. Indeed, with all due respect to the skinheads who only play pretend Nazi, the spirit of the Nazi movement really lives on in the abortion industry. Planned Parenthood may not hang the Nazi flag on the doors of its clinics, but it has enough blood on its hands to impress even the most prolific concentration camp executioner. (Read more.)
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Bad Catholic Music

An oldie but goodie from Crisis:
It usually starts with the missalettes — those lightweight booklets scattered around the pews of your parish church. They contain all the readings of the Sunday Masses, plus some hymns and responses in the back. There’s nothing between the covers that would offend an orthodox sense of the faith, and most of the songs are traditional by today’s standards. So, what’s the problem?
Well, if your missalettes are like those issued in more than half of American parishes, they’re copyrighted by the Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) — the leading Catholic purveyor of bad music in the United States. Four times a year, it prints and distributes 4.3 million copies of the seemingly unobjectionable booklets (which OCP doesn’t call missalettes).
But that’s just the beginning of its massive product line, where each item is integrated perfectly with the others to make liturgical planning quick and easy. To instruct and guide parish musicians and liturgy teams, the OCP prints hymnals, choral scores, children’s songbooks, Mass settings, liturgy magazines (with detailed instructions that are slavishly followed by parishes around the country), and CDs for planning liturgies and previewing the newest music. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Gabrielle d'Estrées and Marie-Antoinette.

Vive Henri IV
Vive ce roi vaillant !
Vive Henri IV
Vive ce roi vaillant !
Ce diable à quatre
A le triple talent
De boire de battre
Et d'être un vers galant.
The royalist anthem Vive Henri IV was from Collé's 1770 opera La partie de chasse d'Henri IV. In 1774 it was often sung to honor Louis XVI, became popular again during the Restoration in 1814, as is told in the novel Madame Royale. The lyrics which celebrate the monarch who was seen by the French people as the epitome of justice, kindness, and virility. It was an attempt to identify the Bourbon dynasty with the popular first Bourbon monarch, Henri IV. Louis XVI had also been seen as sharing with the King from Navarre an easy manner with the common folk, as well as a strong sense of justice and love of the hunt. Early in their reign, the King and Queen held a costume ball where everyone came in dress from the era of le bon roi Henri, with Marie-Antoinette herself garbed as Henri's beloved mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrées. It was part of the Queen's attempt to show that she was loved by her husband, and that she was his mistress as well as his wife. During the Restoration, members of the Bourbon family, especially the daughter of Louis XVI, the Duchess of Angoulême, were frequently welcomed with the anthem. After the fall of the Bourbons in 1830, the anthem was no longer played, and soon became a relic of the past. Share

True Diversity

From Dr. Esolen at Crisis:
I’m reading, for one of my classes at Thomas More College, Henryk Sienkiewicz’s novel set in the last days of Saints Peter and Paul, Quo Vadis? The Rome of that imperial matricide, mass murderer, poetaster, and buffoon, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus Nero, was “a nest of evil,” “a seat of power, madness but also order, the capital of the world and also mankind’s most terrible oppressor, bringer of laws and peace, all-powerful, invulnerable, eternal,” so wicked, that Peter cannot fathom why God should lead him to build the Church upon such a foundation. Even the libertine Petronius understands that such a Rome cannot endure. “A society based on brute force and violence,” thinks that arbiter of taste, “on cruelty beyond anything possible among the barbarians, and on such universal viciousness and debauchery, could not survive forever. Rome ruled mankind, but it was also its cesspool and its seeping ulcer. It reeked of death and corpses. Death’s shadow lay over its decomposing life.”
Rome, pagan Rome, was exhausted. She would, in the next few centuries, produce a few fine public buildings, some aqueducts and roads, one near-great poet (Juvenal), a sad philosopher king (Marcus Aurelius), and a brief efflorescence of Platonic mysticism not uninfluenced by Christianity. That was it.

The west, the post-Christian west, is exhausted. She exceeds ancient Rome in population by twenty to one, she enjoys plentiful food and drink, and labor-saving (and labor-eliminating) machines, and the moral heritage of its Christian past, mainly spent down and in many places mortgaged. But she is exhausted. (Read more.)
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St. Leo and Attila the Hun

From Word on Fire:
St. Leo the Great was an ardent theologian, a defender of the Faith, and a pastoral, simple man of holiness. Leo, one of only three pontiffs who’ve been given the title ‘Great’ (the others being St. Gregory and St. John Paul II), was the Supreme Pontiff from 440 to 461. When he took the reins of leadership Rome was in a dire fall, yet St. Leo was more than capable to steer through the raging waters of cultural and political strife. One of Leo’s great contentions was the necessity of unity for the Christian Church. Heretical factions were popping throughout the faithful. The Manichees, who held that evil was co-eternal with the good. The Nestorians who attacked Mary’s title of Theotokos. The Monophysites, who contended that Christ could not have been human and divine. And the Pelagians, who taught that man could achieve his own goodness by his own unaided will, no need for the grace of God.

Leo was a staunch defender of the primacy of Peter, not because he held the office but because of Christ’s call to have an authoritative head of His Church, through which the will of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit finds an embodiment. He practiced this office most profoundly at the Council of Chalcedon. However, his role as the pastor and shepherd of the Christian people took a much deeper tone in the wave of the coming Hun army, distinctly setting its ravenous sights on the great city of Rome. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Medal of Louis and Antoinette, 1781

A medal celebrating the birth of the Dauphin. Share

A Nun's Story

From The Catholic News Service:
“My biological parents were high school students, 17 years old, obviously not married,” she said. “To this day, I’ve never seen her face, but I have a deep intuition that at one point my mother thought of aborting me, but she didn’t. And I stand here before you today because a scared 17-year-old girl said ‘yes’ to life and to the child in her womb.”

Then there was the choice of the couple who became her mother and father when they adopted her.

“One of the first pictures my parents have of me was at Christmas time. My mom put me under the Christmas tree and said I was the gift to the family that year.” She told the audience that God also offers people the gift of his love. “We don’t understand his heart for us. We don’t understand his love for us,” she said, emphasizing that “God longs to heal you because you are made for more. He looks at you, and he just loves you.” (Read more.)
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Albania And Greece Make Historic Agreement

From Tzarizm:
On Saturday, 11 November, discussions between Albanian Foreign Minister Bushati and his Greek counterpart Kotzias, were held on Kreta island. The meeting to solve pending bilateral issues seems to have produced good results. Talks were centered on the problems of the Greek minority in Albania and other important topics, such as the Yonian Sea Agreement, and the Law of War between the two countries.

Greece has accepted that the part of the Ionian sea they acquired under the 2009 agreement was illegal. Albania lost sovereignty on part of its territory. The agreement prescribed that a part of the Albanian Ionian Sea would pass to Greek control. At that time, there was lots of debate between the Albanian government that signed the document, and the opposition and civil society on the other side, who called the procedure a clear betrayal of the interests of Albania. (Read more.)
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Monday, November 27, 2017

What Is Figgy Pudding?

From NPR:
This holiday season, one popular Christmas carol has been raising some questions here at NPR headquarters. Namely: "Oh, bring us some figgy pudding, oh, bring us some figgy pudding, oh — "
Wait. What is figgy pudding? First of all, it's "absolutely delicious," says Debbie Waugh, who recently served the dish at a tea at the Historic Green Spring House in Alexandria, Va.
Figgy pudding — also known as plum pudding or Christmas pudding — is a staple of the British Christmas table, she says. "It resembles something like a cannonball, and it maybe feels a bit like a cannonball when it hits your stomach, but it's tradition and we love it," Waugh tells NPR's Michel Martin. And despite its moniker, the dessert features neither figs nor plums. (Read more.)
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Blaming the Victim Has to Stop

From Crux:
"Our Catholic teaching tells us that the only person who’s responsible for a sin is the sinner. Rape is a horrible crime and it’s also a sin, so the only person responsible for rape is the rapist,” said Dawn Eden Goldstein, an assistant professor of dogmatic theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut, and author of books on healing from trauma and abuse, including Remembering God’s Mercy and My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, in an interview with Crux.

“Catholic teaching is very strong on the fact that abuse victims are never responsible for their abuse.” (Read more.)
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Strange and Curious Wills of the Georgian Era

From Geri Walton:
A will or testament is a legal document that allows a testator (the person who has written and executed a last will and testament) to express his or her wishes as to the distribution of their property. According to the Roman citizen, Greek biographer, and essayist Plutarch, the first written will was invented long ago by the Athenian statesman, poet, and wise law giver named Solon. Eventually, many types of wills were generated, and sometimes these wills contained strange or curious requests. This was the case in the Georgian Era when certain testators in the Canterbury Court left behind these following interesting requests:

GEORGE APPLEBEE – Rector of St. Bride’s, London – 7 August 1783
“My body after being dressed in a flannel waistcoat, instead of a shirt, an old surtout coat, and breeches without linings or pockets, an old pair of stockings, shoes I shall want none, (having done walking) and a worsted wig, if one can be got, I desire may be decently interred.”

JOHN DAVIS – Woollen Manufacturer of Clapham in Surrey – 24 January 1788
“I give and bequeath to Mary Davis, daughter of Peter Delaport, the sum of five shillings (which is sufficient to enable her to get drunk with, for the last time at my expense), and I give the like sum of five shillings to Charles Peter, (the son of the said Mary) who, I am reputed to be the father of, but which I never had, or ever shall have, any reason so to believe.” (Read more.)
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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Bust of Nefertiti

From Joy of Museums:
The bust served in the workshop of the Tuthmosis, as a model for artists producing portraits of the queen. Nefertiti is shown as a woman with a subtle beauty which is not diminished by the folds under the eyes and chin or the slightly sunken cheeks. The bust is made of limestone which is covered with modelled gypsum. The eye is inlaid with crystal and the pupil attached with black coloured wax. The second eye-inlay was never completed.

The bust was discovered by German archaeologists in 1912 when they excavated the Thutmose’s workshop in Egypt. The German expedition was digging under license at the time from the government in Egypt, which was ruled by the Ottoman Empire.

The “Nefertiti Bust” was brought to Berlin in 1913 just before World War I. During World War II, it was removed by the Nazi government to a secret location for safekeeping from the bombing of Berlin. The Nefertiti Bust was discovered by the occupying American forces in a salt mine and put on display in West Berlin. The Soviets who occupied East Berlin where the Neues Museum and Museum Island are located, objected and demanded that the bust is returned to the Neues Museum and Museum Island. The “Nefertiti Bust” became a pawn in Cold War rivalries between the East and West. Many masterpieces that were found in East German Museums by the Soviets were shipped to the Soviet Union as the spoils of war in 1945-1946. (Read more.)
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Meanwhile, in the UK....

It is forbidden to "refer to female pupils as 'girls' or 'ladies' because it 'reminds them of their gender.'" What? From The Telegraph:
Natasha Devon told headteachers of the country’s leading girls’ schools that they should be using gender-neutral language when they address their students, and added that the same applied for boys. Speaking at the Girls’ School Association’s annual conference in Manchester, she said that she would “never walk into a room in an-all girls’ school and say girls or ladies” because it was “patronising”. (Read more.)
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The Alhambra Decree

A tragic history. From War History Online:
The hostilities reached boiling point when two Catholic monarchs, the rulers of Aragon and Castile, decided to get rid of the Jews, once and for all. Their marriage formed a union that gave them unprecedented power. Both shared the opinion that the Jewish converts were unfaithful, insincere and were actually practicing Judaism in secret.

In 1478, they made a formal application to Rome to investigate these suspicions converts. In the meanwhile, the Islamic Emirate of Granada, the last remaining stronghold of Muslims was put under extreme pressure to surrender. There was little left to fight with so the Emir Muhammad XII signed the Treaty of Granada, formally ending over seven centuries of Muslim presence in the region.

Three months later, the King and the Queen issued the Alhambra Decree in which the Jews were accused of trying to contaminate the Catholic faith and draw Christians from their real beliefs. Some of the Jews were given four months to settle their affairs, ordered to convert to Christianity properly or leave the country. They were permitted to take their belongings with them except any gold or silver. Basically, the Alhambra Decree was a deal that meant the end of Jews in Spain. Lastly, the punishment for not leaving the country within 3 months was summary execution! (Read more.)
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Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Decade of Bliss

From Victoria:
For readers of the original Victoria, the revival of the publication signified a return to loveliness. Breathing life into the magazine’s legacy has invited faithful friends and new devotees to savor the romance, grace, serenity, and charm within its pages. With gratitude, we commemorate our tenth anniversary with a dazzling holiday fête....A palette of blush, gold, and ivory establishes a welcoming ambience for this opportunity to reflect on the enchanting destinations and inspiring women shared in Victoria over the past ten years. (Read more.)
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The Religion of Muggles

From First Things:
The main reason for disliking the Harry Potter books is obviously their membership in the Enid Blyton genre. A further reason I could not make it past the first dozen pages of the first Potter book: I have a respect for “Muggles” and cannot empathize with a dualistic universe in which Muggles belong to the dark side. Our unimaginative, Muggle aunt and uncle provided my brother and me with a bit of adult reliability. Our parents found it unthinkable to decide on a holiday destination before we got in the car to make our escape. It would have turned their dream vacation into a nightmare even to consider booking a hotel in advance. Although no one seemed to enjoy it at all, it was a first principle, beyond discussion that the unplanned holiday is the only one worth having. “Why,” we wailed to Aunt and Uncle Muggle, “can’t we book a hotel! Why,” we forlornly demanded, “must we drive around for hours without a map looking for a hotel, and then sleep in the car?” Our Aunt Muggle pursed her lips, and then she said something which seemed to unveil the heart of the matter: “It’s their religion.” (Read more.)
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Homeschooling a High Energy Child

From Far From Normal:
You will not lose any child, especially a high energy one by making them do boring work! Make sure what they are reading is something they want to read, if you’re struggling with writing try letting them write about something they love, or let them use a crayon, pen or marker. Do a lot of hands on work, manipulatives for math, experiments or models for science, even craft projects for history or Language Arts. Field trips are another great way to engage in learning that is interesting and fun. Since most field trips require walking, talking etc. they are perfect for a high energy child. (Read more.)
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Friday, November 24, 2017

The Sexual Revolution Has Turned Ugly

Actually, the sexual revolution has always been ugly; it has just reached another phase. Now the Revolution is destroying its own children. From Crisis:
The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with other revolutions, it is not because the revolutionaries enjoy broad popular support; it is because civic and religious leaders are confused, divided, and cowed into silence. Those whom one expects to impose some order on all this—conservative politicians, religious leaders, civil libertarians, journalists, scholars—are either hiding under the table or signaling their virtue by themselves fanning the flames of a hysteria that they show no interest in trying to understand.

Even as one hysteria—the campus “rape epidemic”—is finally exposed as a hoax by the common sense of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, another breaks out over Harvey Weinstein and others (and still others) emerge almost daily. The commentariat from the left to the right is either diffident or so intoxicated with sanctimony that they are unable to write about it critically. Yet once we strip away the obfuscating jargon and ideology, it becomes very clear what is going on. For there is nothing new about the sordid behavior. All that is new—and all that makes it newsworthy—is that it has been politicized.

To begin with, there is not, and never has been, any epidemic of “sexual harassment,” “sexual assault,” “domestic violence,” or the rest. It is not that deeds associated with these terms do not happen; the terms themselves are ideological constructions designed to create hysteria and mean nothing. There are, and always have been, criminal statutes in place to protect women (along with everyone else) from violent crime. There have also long been civil provisions to protect them from sexual pressure from superiors in the workplace. Anyone experiencing either of these offenses can readily file charges or complaints. And no, there is certainly no longer any “stigma” against doing so, if there ever was. (Read more.)
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Made-up Quotes

From the Brisbane Times:
France's Queen Mary-Antoinette is forever associated with the dismissive "let them eat cake". As the story goes, it was the queen's response upon being told that her starving peasant subjects had no bread. Because cake is more expensive than bread, the anecdote has been cited as an example of Marie-Antoinette's obliviousness to the conditions and daily lives of ordinary people. It would in later histories be quoted to illustrate the callousness and indifference of the upper classes in pre-revolutionary France.But there is no record of her having uttered the words. While the first known attribution was in an 1843 book by Alphonse Kerr – that is, half a century after the French Revolution – a similar quotation appears in the works of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, written in about 1765, and attributed to "a great princess". It's unlikely it was Marie-Antoinette, who was just nine at the time.

 There is, however, evidence that such a quotation, expressing scorn as much as ignorance, has an even longer history, with seventh-century Chinese chronicle The Book of Jin attributing to Emperor Hui (259-307), when told his people were starving because there was no rice, the words: "Let them eat meat."French philosopher Voltaire, hailed as the great champion of free speech, continues to be quoted as saying: "I don't agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." A great quote, to be sure, but Voltaire never said it. It comes from a 1906 biography by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in which it was intended to represent a summary of his thinking on free-speech issues. (Read more.)
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Thursday, November 23, 2017

What Did 17th Century Food Taste Like?

From Res Obscura:
What can we learn about how people ate in the seventeenth century? And even if we can piece together historical recipes, can we ever really know what their food tasted like?

This might seem like a relatively unimportant question. For one thing, the senses of other people are always going to be, at some level, unknowable, because they are so deeply subjective. Not only can I not know what Velázquez's fried eggs tasted like three hundred years ago, I arguably can't know what my neighbor's taste like. And why does the question matter, anyway? A very clear case can be made for the importance of the history of medicine and disease, or the histories of slavery, global commerce, warfare, and social change.

By comparison, the taste of food doesn't seem to have the same stature. Fried eggs don't change the course of history.

But taste does change history. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mesmerizing Translucent Waves

I love ocean paintings. From My Modern Met:
The late 19th century Armenian-Russian painter Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky created some truly spectacular paintings of seascapes that capture the beautiful, shimmering essence of the tumultuous waters. The marine artist gained recognition for his impeccable ability to recreate the expressive quality of oceans with over half of his 6,000+ paintings from his lifetime being devoted to the subject.

What separates Aivazovsky's seascape paintings from others is his ability to replicate both the intensity and motion as well as the translucency and texture. His energetic waves and calm ripples are equally effective. Aivazovsky also plays with colors, simulating the effects of sunlight filtering through the waters to present an ethereal quality that imitates a sort of magical realism. There's something absolutely stunning about the painter's ability to skillfully emulate the emotional connection to the coastal scenes that translates centuries later. (Read more.)
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Syriac (Christian) Sutoro Fighters

Please read about the unsung heroes who risk everything to protect the weak and vulnerable. Chivalry is not dead. To quote:
Sutoro was formed in the Kurdish city of Qamishli in March 2013 to protect Christians and other religious minorities. They are a close Ally of the Kurdish YPG Forces and are Fighting side by Side against ISIS. Sutoro received the military training in the training camps of the YPG. The Christian religious symbols, various forms of the cross and Jesus’s name tattooed on the hands and arms of these young fighters signify their strong determination and willingness to fight for their ethnic and religious rights. “I have the name of Jesus tattooed on my arm so I can never lie about my faith if I’m captured alive by the enemy and fear may overcome my bravery.” (Read more.)
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The Deaths of Jean-Marie Roland and Madame Roland

How the Revolution devours its own children. From Geri Walton:
Jean-Marie Roland de la Platière and his wife, Madame Roland, were supporters of the French Revolution. In addition, Jean-Marie was also an influential member of a loose political faction called the Girondins. When the Girondins fell in 1793 during the Reign of Terror, Jean-Marie went into hiding in Rouen with two spinster sisters, the mademoiselles Malortie. The spinsters were sisters to his previous fiancée, who died unexpectedly.

While Jean-Marie was in hiding, Madame Roland was arrested, as were other Girondins and Girondin supporters. She was imprisoned at the Abbey of Saint Germain des Près that had inscribed over its door, “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!”[1] This was also the spot where a wave of killings, called the September Massacres, had taken place between the 2nd and 7th of September in 1792.

During her imprisonment, Madame Roland continued to insist that she had been wrongly imprisoned. It seemed as if her protestations worked because suddenly on the 24th of June she was released. She gathered her things, ordered a carriage, and went home. Unfortunately, she had not mounted more than few steps when she was rearrested by the Paris Commune.

This time Madame Roland was locked up at the prostitute’s gaol known as Sainte Pélagie. While there she learned that all the imprisoned Girondins were to be tried. Madame Roland realized the seriousness of her situation and came to the conclusion that the end of her life was fast approaching. She then wrote:
“If I must die … I know of life the best it contains, while its continuance would probably only exact fresh sacrifices. … The moment in which I gloried most in my existence, when I felt most vividly that exaltation of soul which dares all dangers and rejoices in facing them, was the one which I entered this Bastille to which the executioners have sent me. … It seemed to give me an occasion of serving Roland by the firmness with which I could bear witness; and it seemed sweet to be of some use to him … I should like to sacrifice my life to him.”[2]
 (Read more.)
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Julia's Gifts


World War One, or the "Great War" as it is called, was intended to be the War to End All Wars, as the major European powers fought to the death, dragging Canada and America into the fray. If the nations of Europe had intended to destroy themselves in a suicide pact, the ruin could hardly have been more disastrous. Fighting in old ways with increasingly newer weapons resulted in multiple bloodbaths that were reminiscent of scenes in the Apocalypse. Atheistic Communism gained control of the largest country in Europe (Russia), as three emperors lost their thrones, along with many lesser kings and princes. The precarious structures of Christendom which had managed to survive the great political, social and industrial revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries came crashing down, or else hung on by a thread. Amid the upheavals, we have the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima in Portugal in 1917 which called for personal conversion to God, warning of greater cataclysms to come.

Against such a backdrop, award-winning and best-selling author Ellen Gable has set her most recent novel, Julia's Gifts, about an American Red Cross nurse serving in France towards the end of the war. The novel begins with Julia Murphy in the streets of Philadelphia, living a quiet life in a country untouched by war, with a happy, devout Catholic family. Julia dreams almost obsessively of the man she will some day marry but has not yet met, even buying gifts for her unknown "Beloved" at Christmas. The lighthearted innocence of the opening of the story, showing the heroine's girlish hopes and dreams, stands in stark contrast to the rest of the book. For Julia soon finds herself plunged into Armageddon as a volunteer with the Red Cross, having not the slightest concept of what she would be facing. As happens to most of us in the course of life, but to Julia in a short, intense period, the youthful dreams and misconceptions are stripped away by a brutal reality.

Julia, however, is young and resilient, and most of all, she has strong faith. As her romantic illusions are cast aside, her faith is purified in the crucible. Yet so strong is her fantasy about her "Beloved" that when he arrives in the shape of a young Canadian officer, she fails to recognize him. I think that it is a common experience for many Christians, that when God answers our prayers we do not always see His hand, because of our attachments to our own way of thinking, which is, of course, limited. The same global conflagration which is consuming lives all around her becomes an instrument of redemption and rebirth, bringing Julia to genuine love. Ellen Gable once again shows us the light that shines in the darkness.


Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links
November 1  (Open Book)   Plot Line and Sinker
November 2   Mary Lou Rosien, Dynamic Women of Faith
November 4  Karen Kelly Boyce
November 6 Carolyn Astfalk, My Scribbler’s Heart Blog
November 7  Jean Heimann, Catholic Fire
November 8  A.K. Frailey   Sarah Reinhard
November 9  Allison Gingras, Reconciled to You
November 10  Barb Szyszkiewicz, Franciscan Mom
November 11  Plot Line and Sinker  Remembrance Day/ Veterans Day post
November 12  Spiritual Woman   Patrice Fagnant MacArthur
November 13  Mike Seagriff, Harvesting the Fruits of Comtemplation                                                   RAnn This That and the Other Thing
November 14 Lisa Mladinich, Amazing Catechists
November 15 Theresa Linden
November 16  Barbara Hosbach   and Alexandrina Brant
November 17  Barb Szyszkiewicz    Catholic Mom
November 18 Cathy Gilmore, Virtue Works Media
November 19 Erin McCole Cupp
November 20 Virginia Lieto
November 21 Elena Maria Vidal  Tea at Trianon
November 22  Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold Miller, The Divine Gift of Motherhood
November 23  Leslie Lynch, author
Others:  Catholic Reads, Alyssa Watson
Prints of Grace, Trisha Niermeyer Potter

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Scandals: Past and Present

The powers-that-be must want the Clintons thrown under the bus, twenty years too late. The damage is done. From Ross Douthat at the New York Times:
I have less confidence about what was real in the miasma of Whitewater. But with Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky, we know what happened: A president being sued for sexual harassment tried to buy off a mistress-turned-potential-witness with White House favors, and then committed perjury serious enough to merit disbarment. Which also brought forward a compelling allegation from Juanita Broaddrick that the president had raped her.

The longer I spent with these old stories, the more I came back to a question: If exploiting a willing intern is a serious enough abuse of power to warrant resignation, why is obstructing justice in a sexual harassment case not serious enough to warrant impeachment? Especially when the behavior is part of a longstanding pattern that also may extend to rape? Would any feminist today hesitate to take a similar opportunity to remove a predatory studio head or C.E.O.?

There is a common liberal argument that our present polarization is the result of constant partisan escalations on the right — the rise of Newt Gingrich, the steady Hannitization of right-wing media. Some of this is true. But returning to the impeachment imbroglio made me think that in that case the most important escalators were the Democrats. They had an opportunity, with Al Gore waiting in the wings, to show a predator the door and establish some moral common ground for a polarizing country.

And what they did instead — turning their party into an accessory to Clinton’s appetites, shamelessly abandoning feminist principle, smearing victims and blithely ignoring his most credible accuser, all because Republicans funded the investigations and they’re prudes and it’s all just Sexual McCarthyism feels in the cold clarity of hindsight like a great act of partisan deformation. (Read more.)
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Building a Culture of Vocations

From Catholic Philly:
Society already makes it hard enough for a young person to hear their call today; shouldn’t we as a church be doing all we can to make it easier? It wasn’t always easy for me, but eventually I heard God’s voice and by his grace was ordained a priest in 2015. Only one of my parents is Catholic, and I went to public school my entire life until I entered seminary. Growing up I played every sport you can imagine. Like every other kid in America, I dreamed of “going pro.” Unlike most kids in America, I had my share of health problems when I was very young. On a few occasions, the doctors seemingly ran out of options. Yet miraculously, I recovered. I was able to play high school sports, but I knew I would never be one of the lucky few who actually become professional athletes. (Read more.)
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Monday, November 20, 2017

Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great (Season 1, 2014)


The Ekaterina series on Amazon Prime has to be the best and most accurate historical drama about Empress Catherine II of Russia yet made. The Russian production emphasizes the enigmatic Catherine's spiritual journey as she turns from the Lutheranism of her youth and embraces Orthodoxy, ultimately keeping the country from becoming Protestant under her husband, Peter III. While any portrait of Catherine can hardly ignore her obsessive search for love, the series avoids any exploitative, graphic scenes, in sharp contrast to most of the shows about royalty on Netflix. Marina Aleksandrova stars as the shy and studious Princess Sophie Friederike of Anhalt-Zerbst, who through many tears and hard lessons is transformed into the Great Catherine. Mademoiselle Aleksandrovna is able to accomplish the metamorphosis from gauche, romantic teenager into the shrewdly calculating and determined Empress who must conquer or die. Overthrowing her husband Peter III was the only way she could avoid being killed or separated from her children. By doing so she saved Russia from a ruler who hated his own country and wanted to destroy it.

Filmed on location in Russia, the viewers are afforded a glimpse of the magnificent palaces built by the Romanov dynasty, throughout the various seasons of the year. The costumes are likewise authentic mid-eighteenth century. The Russian Orthodox liturgy and iconography are given pride of place. Julia Aug is the mercurial, unscrupulous Empress Elizabeth who arranges Catherine's marriage to her dreadful nephew Peter,  later taking Catherine's son away from her the moment he is born. Meanwhile, Peter publicly flaunts his dislike of Catherine and his affair with another woman. Peter, played by Aleksander Yatsenko, is a frustrating and pathetic character whom Catherine tries her best to love amid seemingly endless humiliations. The torment that the young Catherine experiences as a scorned wife and a thwarted mother in a court surrounded by enemies explains the consolation she eventually seeks in love affairs. Mademoiselle Aleksandrovna does an excellent job in conveying the subtle charm of Catherine and her remarkable ability to win people to her cause when she was a non-royal, powerless foreigner. It was that very vulnerability that won followers, as well as her brains and her genuine love for the Russia. In spite of her personal moral failings, she saves Russia as a nation and protects the Russian Orthodox Church from Protestantism.





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The Indefectibility of the Church

From Emmett O'Regan writing for La Stampa:
In the ongoing debate surrounding the authority of Amoris laetitia, a key issue has arisen, centering around whether or not the Divine assistance of the Holy Spirit is offered towards the successors of St. Peter to protect them from erring in matters pertaining to faith and morals even in the non-definitive teachings of the ordinary Magisterium. Some of the defenders of Pope Francis in this issue, such as Stephen Walford, argue forcibly that such Divine assistance is indeed given in the non-definitive, non-infallible teachings of the ordinary Magisterium (I). The opponents of Pope Francis’ reforms argue that this position is a logical fallacy, since the exercise of papal infallibility is limited to the extraordinary Magisterium and the ordinary and Universal Magisterium. They argue that if the Roman Pontiff cannot err in matters of faith and morals in the non-definitive teachings of the ordinary Magisterium, this would mean that he is infallible even in this respect (II). Christopher Ferrara has mockingly referred to this idea as the “fallible infallible Magisterium” (III). Such an idea is obviously untrue, since the non-definitive teachings of the ordinary Magisterium are non-infallible in nature.

In response, some conservatively minded Catholics have asserted that the claim to protection from error in faith and morals by way of Divine assistance falls into the category of ultramontanism, and the conclusion is then made that the pope actually can teach error in faith and morals by way of his ordinary Magisterium. Such a scenario is a very serious matter, since it would mean that the pope is in effect capable of binding the faithful to heresy in the ordinary Magisterium.

In the following article, I hope to be able to demonstrate that the protection from error in faith and morals offered towards the ordinary Magisterium through the Divine assistance of the Holy Spirit does not stem from the gift of infallibility, but is instead an essential corollary of the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church. A necessary ancillary means through which the perpetuity of the successors of St. Peter is nourished and maintained, which is independent of, albeit related to, the dogma of papal infallibility. This means that the pope cannot impose error on matters of faith and morals not only because of papal infallibility but also because of the Divine assistance implicit in the gift of indefectibility. As the document issued by the International Theological Commission “The Interpretation of Dogma” states: “The apostolic tradition in the Church cannot undergo any essential corruption because of the permanent assistance of the Holy Spirit which guarantees its indefectibility.” (IV)

Before we go on to examine how the Divine assistance of the Holy Spirit is primarily promised to ensure the indefectibility of the Church, rather than its infallibility, it will be worth first briefly addressing one of the chief issues raised above - concerning the proposed logical fallacy of the “infallibility” of the non-infallible ordinary Magisterium. The scope of papal infallibility is limited to the organs of the extraordinary and ordinary and Universal Magisterium, and concerns those teachings which have been definitively established by the Church, and which by definition are irreformable of themselves. They are also subject to either the response of an assent of faith, or are to be firmly held by the believer (depending on whether they are credenda or tenenda dogmas, which are both different levels of infallible teaching). The teachings found in the ordinary or authentic Magisterium are usually reformable of themselves (meaning they are subject to further refinement and/or doctrinal development), and also non-definitive in nature, which is why they are regarded as non-infallible. The level of assent required of these teachings is that of the submission of the will and intellect in obedience to the ordinary Magisterium. (Read more.)
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Writing While Under The Influence Of Depression

I have found that writing breaks the cycle of depression but everyone is different. From The Creative Penn:
For a start, writing is quite often a solitary life. We sit in our office or bedroom with the laptop, and we peck away at the keyboard. We invent worlds and characters, while the real world with its real characters continues on outside. But we are probably so wrapped up in those fictional worlds and characters that we don’t make the time to meet real people.

Isolation like that can have a crushing effect on a lot of people. Some people thrive on it, but humans on the whole are a social bunch and need to interact with others. When that isn’t possible, it’s easy to feel that the walls are closing in.

Lack of sleep, lack of exercise, lack of human contact, and lack of natural light are all factors that can develop into something much more serious.

Let’s not forget, writing is hard. I have just finished writing my second book and it was quite literally the hardest thing I have ever experienced in my life. This is coming from a 42-year-old guy who has already experienced quite a lot in life.

Since writing is so hard, it is very easy to get dispirited and to tell yourself that the whole project is hopeless. Especially when you get rejection slips from editors and harsh criticism from reviewers, and dare I say it, your family and friends. (Read more.)
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Sunday, November 19, 2017

A New Product

Introducing Grotto Facial Beauty Cleanser, a facial scrub I created out of natural ingredients* for women over thirty-five. The restorative formula is designed to help diminish signs of aging, as well as revive the skin's suppleness and softness, with regular use. The cleanser is meant to precede the Midnight Bouquet and Morning Bouquet** facial creams, creating a more complete beauty experience. Trianon Bouquet Beauty Products are inspired by Queen Marie-Antoinette, who loved her gardens at Petit Trianon, and was known to have beauty products made from her own herbs and flowers. The Queen loved to relax in the coolness of the Grotto. Please use only as directed. Free shipping. Purchase HERE.

*Natural ingredients may vary in color and consistency.
**We are currently sold out of the Morning Bouquet Facial Treatment but will restock our shelves soon. Share

The New Normal

From Return to Order:
In the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary entry for normal, we find the following: “according with, constituting, or not deviating from a standard, rule, or principle.” How does this line up with our previous examples? It is not upholding a standard to begin consuming human flesh, though the practice may become commonplace. It is not in accord with an upright rule or principle to engage in pedophilia, even if it gains cultural acceptance.

Mass shootings now seem so commonplace, especially compared with the past. Does that make them normal? Again, commonality does not equate to normality. The standards, rules and principles of our society have been eroded. People no longer know what normal is supposed to be, and thus conclude that whatever is happening now must be the “new” one. It’s high time we admit there is something fundamentally wrong with the course of events. All avenues must be pursued to counteract the problem. Such a task is not easy. It seems as if the tears from one tragedy aren’t yet dry when another follows right behind. (Read more.)
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Something is Wrong on the Internet

From Medium:
I’ve also been aware for some time of the increasingly symbiotic relationship between younger children and YouTube. I see kids engrossed in screens all the time, in pushchairs and in restaurants, and there’s always a bit of a Luddite twinge there, but I am not a parent, and I’m not making parental judgments for or on anyone else. I’ve seen family members and friend’s children plugged into Peppa Pig and nursery rhyme videos, and it makes them happy and gives everyone a break, so OK. But I don’t even have kids and right now I just want to burn the whole thing down.

Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level. Much of what I am going to describe next has been covered elsewhere, although none of the mainstream coverage I’ve seen has really grasped the implications of what seems to be occurring. (Read more.)
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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Planning Thanksgiving

With some help from Victoria:
Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, nineteenth-century author and magazine editor, campaigned for more than three decades to have Thanksgiving recognized nationwide. She wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, urging him to secure the “permanency and unity” of its commemoration. When the final Thursday of November was officially declared a time of gratitude for our country’s bounty, its intermittent regional observance was already cultivating a rich culinary tradition. (Read more.)
And here are some favorite dishes:
Although the turkey often gets the most attention during holiday-menu planning, the trimmings can bring just as much harvest flavor to your celebration. Fresh and delicious, these unforgettable sides might just steal the spotlight on your Thanksgiving table. From the hearty Winter Squash-and-Mushroom Medley to warm Brown Butter Rosemary Yeast Rolls, these delectable dishes are certain to have guests asking for more. (Read more.)
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The Brave New World of Trial by Media

The same struggles on either side of the pond. From Conservative Woman:
The truth is, though, that the feminist zealots determined to wage this dialectical male-privilege gender struggle are but a small group of privileged women. They occupy positions of extraordinary power and influence and, under the gaze of the media, pretend to speak for all women.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Just as the majority of MPs are grossly out of touch with the people on Brexit, these ‘feminist’ MPs and Parliamentary staff are grossly out of touch with the majority of British women, only 7 per cent of whom would describe themselves as feminists. Many of the rest are horrified by the apparently self-serving obsession of some of the privileged women to have found their way to the top of the Parliamentary tree.

The danger now is that those in charge of Parliamentary discipline will capitulate to knee-jerk solutions. Engulfed by the media storm, they feel they have to do something – anything – to signal to the baying, illiberal progressive media that they are not dinosaurs. Under pressure to say that they are ‘taking steps to ensure this will never happen again’, they appear too afraid to tell the truth: that the reaction has been hysterical, out of proportion; that conflating flirtation and behavioural lapses with serious harassment and assault risks trivialising the latter. (Read more.)
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The Old Patagonian Express

From Reid's Reader:
In reading The Old Patagonian Express, it is wise to remember that it was written 40 years ago, and some of the political situations to which it refers have passed away. (For example, Theroux conspicuously avoids visiting Nicaragua, because a civil war was then raging there, and the Argentina he visits was still the Argentina of the junta).

So what are the pleasures of reading (or listening to) this book?

Much is the simple pleasure of decription as the various trains pass through barren deserts, or have Theroux gasping in the thin air as they cross the Andes, or allow him to see the wide reaches of the pampas. Much is the pleasure or surprise of the unexpected spectacular event, such as the football match in El Salvador which turns into a full-scale riot. In terms of human habitation, it is not always a pretty world that Theroux observes. From Mexico to Patagonia, there are many descriptions of urban slums, sprawling squatter camps outside the cities, naked and unwashed children begging and an indifferent (but much smaller) affluent class often living in what amount to gated communities. Nor does Theroux stint on recording the run-down quality of most Latin American trains and their discomfort, or the type of accommodation provided by rat-infested or flea-infested hotels. In short, there is much human squalor in this book. (Read more.)
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Friday, November 17, 2017

"C'est Mon Ami" and "Portrait Charmant"


 Although it is fairly well-known that Marie-Antoinette loved music, studying under both Gluck and the famous Chevalier de Saint-Georges, many people are surprised to learn that she composed her own tunes. This is at odds with the typical image of the Queen as being a thoughtless playgirl. She also wrote poetry and spoke Italian. She was not an intellectual, but she was very bright, contrary to the myths. She composed several songs, the most famous being "C'est mon ami" ("My Friend"). Here are the lyrics of "C'est mon ami" by Jean Pierre Claris de Florian:
"C'est mon ami"

Ah s'il est dans votre village
Un berger sensible et charmant
Qu'on chérisse au premier moment
Qu'on aime ensuite davantage

C'est mon ami
Rendez-le moi
J'ai son amour
Il a ma foi

Si par sa voix douce et plaintive
Il charme l'écho de vos bois
Si les accents de son hautbois
Rendent la bergère pensive

C'est encore lui
Rendez-le-moi
J'ai son amour
Il a ma foi

Si même n'osant rien vous dire
Son seul regard sait attendrir
Si sans jamais faire rougir
Sa gaité fait toujours sourire

C'est encore lui
Rendez-le-moi
J'ai son amour
Il a ma foi

Si passant près de sa chaumière
Le pauvre en voyant son troupeau
Ose demander un agneau
Et qu'il obtienne encore la mère

Oh c'est bien lui
Rendez-le moi
J'ai son amour
Il a ma foi.
Translation :
Ah, if there is in your village, a sensitive and charming shepherd, whom we cherish at the first moment, and whom we later love more, he is my friend, give him back to me, I have his love, he has my faith.

If with his sweet and plaintive voice, he charms your forests' echoes, if the accents of his oboe makes the shepherdess thinking, it's him again...

If even not daring to tell you anything, his look only can move you, if never making you blush, his cheerfulness makes you always smile, it's him again...

If passing by next to his cottage, the poor seeing his flock, dares to ask for a lamb,a nd that he obtains the mother also, Oh yes it's him...

 Marie Antoinette completely composed "Portrait Charmant", music and lyrics, probably in honor of the Princesse de Lamballe. It is an example of the extremely florid and gushing language she used with her close friends and family. This is also typical of her era, and we cannot impose the same meanings to the words as they might have for us today. The song was written when she was barely out of her teens and still missing her family in Austria, most of whom she would never see again.
"Portrait Charmant"

Portait charmant, portait de mon amie
Gage d'amour par l'amour obtenu
Ah viens m'offrir le bien que j'ai perdu
Te voir encore me rappelle à la vie.

Oui les voilà ses traits, ses traits que j'aime
Son doux regard, son maintien, sa candeur
Lorsque ma main te presse sur mon coeur
Je crois encore la presser elle-même

Non tu n'as pas pour moi les mêmes charmes
Muet témoin de nos tendres soupirs
En retraçant nos fugitifs plaisirs
Cruel portrait, tu fais couler mes larmes

Pardonne-moi mon injuste langage
Pardonne aux cris de ma vive douleur
Portait charmant, tu n'es pas le bonheur
Mais bien souvent tu m'en offres l'image.
Translation:
Charming portrait, portait of my friend
Token of love, by love obtained
Ah come and give me back the good I have lost
To see you again brings me back to life

Yes here they are, her features, her features I love
Her sweet looks, her bearing, her ingenuousness
When I press you to my heart
I think I still embrace her herself.

No you don't have to me the same charms
Silent witness of our tender sighs
By recounting our fleeting pleasures
Cruel portrait, you make my tears fall.

Forgive me for my unfair language
Forgive the cries of my bitter woe
Charming portait, you are not happiness
But so often you give me the image of it.

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Our Secular Theodicy

From First Things:
The word “communism” needs to be used now, but it is misleading, and Bloch is partly responsible. Up until the late fifties, he was a supporter of both the Soviet regime and the German Democratic Republic (he fled East Germany for Tübingen in 1961, just as the Berlin Wall was being built). He called the Soviet Union of the 1930s “an achievement about which one can say with all one’s heart, yes, yes, yes,” and his defense of the show trials is obscene. Yet he never joined the Communist Party, and his writings placed him under its constant suspicion and occasional surveillance.

It was the religious dimension of Bloch’s thought that did so. It was apparent from his first book, The Spirit of Utopia, and led to the straining of friendships with Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Louis Althusser, mandarins of what would be known as Western Marxism. Bloch’s use of Marx was selective and unorthodox. When he drew directly from Marx, it was not from the late “scientific” works of political economy like Capital, but from early letters that spoke romantically of humanity’s “dream” for a better life. This was Marx’s translation of Feuerbach’s projection theory of religion. Where the earlier thinker saw the Christian idea of God as the screen onto which we projected our intuition about human fulfillment, Marx cast that projection forward as the end of history. Bloch’s communism, if it should be called that, therefore verges on the mystical. He envisions a “communism of love” as the eschatological completion of our spiritual, not economic, development. (Read more.)
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