Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Art of the Wreath

From The Spectator:
The wreath has a long tradition, extending back to the ancient Greeks, where the diadema was worn on the head, signifying royal or spiritual significance. The Ancient Romans were in on the act too, crowning the heads of their heroes with laurel wreaths. Over in Scandinavia, lighted candles were placed around a wheel as form of winter prayer to ask the god of light to turn the wheel of the earth back towards the sun. 
By the Middle Ages, Christians had adapted these traditions as part of their preparation for Christmas. Each element of the wreath had its own symbolism: candles for Christ as the light of the world; evergreens signifying eternal life; laurel the victory over suffering and persecution and holly, of course, a prickly reminder at Jesus’ birth of the crown of thorns and the death he had to face. And so it is that our own word wreath comes from the Old English writhan meaning to make into coils. 
Today, typically, there are two types of wreath: those hung outside on doors and those laid inside, often with candles, on tables or mantelpieces (and occasionally, down bannisters, preferably minus the candles). Here’s a simple how-to so you can furnish your home with a wreath of your own. (Read more.)
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Trump Aids the Christians in Iraq

From CNA:
President Donald Trump signed into law Tuesday the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act, which seeks to ensure US aid reaches Christian and Yazidi genocide victims. The bill was passed unanimously in the House Nov. 27, and in the Senate Oct. 11. This bill was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), and the lead Democratic sponsor was Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA). This was Smith’s second attempt at getting the bill signed into law, and altogether it took 17 months for this bill to be passed.

Trump was joined at the Dec. 11 signing by Vice President Mike Pence, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus Carl Anderson, Smith, Eshoo, Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, and many others.
Trump said it was a “great honor” to sign H.R. 390 into law, and remarked that his administration has had great success in fighting Islamic State. The group has lost nearly all of its territory since its peak in 2015. “This bill continues my administration's efforts to direct US assistance for persecuted communities including through faith-based programs,” he said. 
The signing of the legislation is a symbol of the US speaking “with bold moral clarity and political unanimity,” Anderson said in a statement provided by the Knights of Columbus, which were heavily involved with the process of writing the bill and assisting the situation of Christians in the Middle East. Since 2014, the Knights of Columbus have donated more than $20 million to help Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria with food, housing, and other needs. The Knights also spent $2 million to rebuild an Iraqi town that had been destroyed by Islamic State. 
H.R. 390 provides funding to various entities, including faith-based and religious organizations, that are helping with recovery and stabilization efforts in Iraq and Syria in religious and ethnic minority communities, including Christians and Yazidis. The bill also instructs the Trump administration to “assess and address the humanitarian vulnerabilities, needs, and triggers that might force these survivors to flee” the region and for the administration to identify signs of potential violent action against minority groups in the country. (Read more.)
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The Most Profound Writer on Christmas

St. Ephrem the Syrian. From Catholic Pop:
A constant theme in his Christmas hymns is juxtaposing the tender smallness of Christ as a human baby with the infinite power and enormity of Christ’s divinity.

“When He sucked the milk of Mary, He was suckling all with Life,” he writes. “While He was lying on His Mother’s bosom, in His bosom were all creatures lying. He was silent as a Babe, and yet He was making His creatures execute all His commands.” (Hymns on the Nativity [HN] 3)

Here’s another snippet: “The bosom of Mary amazes me, that it sufficed for You, Lord, and embraced You.— All creation were too small, to conceal Your Majesty;—Heaven and earth too narrow, to be in the likeness of wings, to cover Your Godhead.— Too small for You was the bosom of earth; great enough for You was the bosom of Mary!” (HN 16)

Take a moment and let that sink in. Very profound!

Here are just a few more snippets from his hymns on the birth of Christ:

“Mary bare the silent Babe, while in Him were hidden all tongues! Joseph bare Him, and in Him was hidden a nature more ancient than anything that is old! The High One became as a little child, and in Him was hidden a treasure of wisdom sufficing for all! Though Most High, yet He sucked the milk of Mary, and of His goodness all creatures suck!

“He is the Breast of Life, and the Breath of Life; the dead suck from His life and revive. Without the breath of the air no man lives, without the Might of the Son no man subsists. On His living breath that quickens all, depend the spirits that are above and that are beneath.” (HN 3)

“Let women praise Her, the pure Mary,— that as in Eve their mother—great was their reproach—lo! In Mary their sister—greatly magnified was their honor. […] Of him the Lord said, that he had fallen from Heaven.— The Abhorred One had exalted himself; from his uplifting he has fallen. The foot of Mary has trod him down, who bruised Eve with his heel.” (HN 15)

“[Mary] lulled Him, [saying,] ‘Who has given me, the barren, that I should conceive and bring forth this One, that is manifold; a little One, that is great; for that He is wholly with me, and wholly everywhere?

“‘The day that Gabriel came in unto my low estate, he made me free instead of a handmaid, of a sudden: for I was the handmaid of Your Divine Nature, and am also the Mother of Your human Nature, O Lord and Son! Of a sudden the handmaid became the King’s daughter in You, You Son of the King. Lo, the meanest in the house of David, by reason of You, You Son of David, lo, a daughter of earth has attained unto Heaven by the Heavenly One!

“‘How am I astonished that there is laid before me a Child, older than all things! His eye is gazing unceasingly upon Heaven. As for the stammering of His mouth, to my seeming it betokens, that with God its silence speaks.'” (HN 4) (Read more.)
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Friday, December 14, 2018

Five Ancient Beauty Secrets

From the Trianon Health and Beauty Blog:
Rose water, sweet almond oil, olive oil, and avocado oil are all used in our creams. From Femina:
Much before science discovered that the hands were the first parts to  show signs of ageing, Marie Antoinette understood that the hands  were one of the most used and exposed parts of the body. This made her  sleep with anti-ageing gloves lined with wax, filled with a blend of  sweet almond oil and rose water, to soften and moisturise her hands.
(Read more.)


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The FBI and Clergy Abuse

From The Buffalo News:
The Associated Press reported in October that U.S. Attorney William McSwain of Philadelphia sent out federal subpoenas to eight dioceses in Pennsylvania seeking information about priests taking children across state lines for sex and viewing child pornography. McSwain also wants to know if dioceses reassigned predators or used church funds or assets to cover up sexual misconduct, and he demanded that the church turn over secret archive files, as well as financial, personnel and treatment records.

Federal law enforcement officials also were part of a Nov. 28 raid of the offices of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in search of documents, electronic communications and other evidence related to the archdiocese’s handling of a case involving a priest accused of molesting four people. The head of the Galveston-Houston archdiocese is Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a key spokesman on issues related to the Catholic Church in the United States.

The federal inquiry into the Buffalo Diocese appears to be wide-ranging, with agents talking to potential witnesses, as well as abuse victims. Wright, of Clarence, said she met two weeks ago with agents. The agents told her they already had spoken with 40 people about clergy abuse cases and were looking for evidence to present to a grand jury. They also told her the Buffalo Diocese was recently served with a second federal subpoena, after diocese officials responded with little information to an initial subpoena served in June, Wright said.


A spokeswoman for the Buffalo office of the FBI declined to comment. (Read more.)
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Defense of the Traditional Date of Christmas

From Dr. Taylor Marshall:
Now we move on to establishing the birthday of Christ from Sacred Scripture in two steps. The first step is to use Scripture to determine the birthday of Saint John the Baptist. The next step is using Saint John the Baptist’s birthday as the key for finding Christ’s birthday. We can discover that Christ was born in late December by observing first the time of year in which Saint Luke describes Saint Zacharias in the temple. This provides us with the approximate conception date of Saint John the Baptist. From there we can follow the chronology that Saint Luke gives, and that lands us at the end of December. 
Saint Luke reports that Zacharias served in the “course of Abias” (Lk 1:5) which Scripture records as the eighth course among the twenty-four priestly courses (Neh 12:17). Each shift of priests served one week in the temple for two times each year. The course of Abias served during the eighth week and the thirty-second week in the annual cycle.[ii]However, when did the cycle of courses begin?
Josef Heinrich Friedlieb has convincingly established that the first priestly course of Jojarib was on duty during the destruction of Jerusalem on the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av.[iii]Thus the priestly course of Jojarib was on duty during the second week of Av. Consequently, the priestly course of Abias (the course of Saint Zacharias) was undoubtedly serving during the second week of the Jewish month of Tishri—the very week of the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of Tishri. In our calendar, the Day of Atonement would land anywhere from September 22 to October 8.
Zacharias and Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist immediately after Zacharias served his course. This entails that Saint John the Baptist would have been conceived somewhere around the end of September, placing John’s birth at the end of June, confirming the Catholic Church’s celebration of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 24.
The second-century Protoevangelium of Saint James also confirms a late September conception of the Baptist since the work depicts Saint Zacharias as High Priest and as entering the Holy of Holies—not merely the holy place with the altar of incense. This is a factual mistake because Zacharias was not the high priest, but one of the chief priests.[iv]Still, the Protoevangelium regards Zacharias as a high priest and this associates him with the Day of Atonement, which lands on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishri (roughly the end of our September). Immediately after this entry into the temple and message of the Archangel Gabriel, Zacharias and Elizabeth conceive John the Baptist. Allowing for forty weeks of gestation, this places the birth of John the Baptist at the end of June—once again confirming the Catholic date for the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 24.
The rest of the dating is rather simple. We read that just after the Immaculate Virgin Mary conceived Christ, she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was six months pregnant with John the Baptist. This means that John the Baptist was six months older that our Lord Jesus Christ (Lk 1:24-27, 36). If you add six months to June 24 you get December 24-25 as the birthday of Christ. Then, if you subtract nine months from December 25 you get that the Annunciation was March 25. All the dates match up perfectly. So then, if John the Baptist was conceived shortly after the Jewish Day of the Atonement, then the traditional Catholic dates are essentially correct. The birth of Christ would be about or on December 25.
Sacred Tradition also confirms December 25 as the birthday of the Son of God. The source of this ancient tradition is the Blessed Virgin Mary herself. Ask any mother about the birth of her children. She will not only give you the date of the birth, but she will be able to rattle off the time, the location, the weather, the weight of the baby, the length of the baby, and a number of other details. I’m the father of six blessed children, and while I sometimes forget these details—mea maxima culpa—my wife never does. You see, mothers never forget the details surrounding the births of their babies. (Read more.)
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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Merry Mantel



 From Southern Lady:
Magnolia accents and winter-white stockings lend Southern panache to a serene Christmas setting. Gracefully swagged across the mantel, a lush magnolia garland cloaked in festive bead-trimmed ribbon elevates the room in seasonal splendor. A lustrous wreath from The Magnolia Company made from Southern leaves adds a gleaming touch. (Read more.)
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How Democracy Is Losing

People who abuse their freedoms will lose them. From Chronicles:
"Everywhere President Trump looks," writes The Washington Times' Rowan Scarborough, "there are Democrats targeting him from New York to Washington to Maryland . . . lawmakers, state attorneys general, opposition researchers, bureaucrats and activist defense lawyers. "They are aiming at Russia collusion, the Trump Organization, the Trump Foundation, a Trump hotel, Trump tax returns, Trump campaign finances and supposed money laundering."

The full-court press is on. Day and night we will be hearing debate on the great question: Will the elites that loathe him succeed in bringing Trump down, driving him from office, and prosecuting and putting him in jail? Says Adam Schiff, the incoming chair of the House intelligence committee: "Donald Trump may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time."

And what will a watching world be thinking when it sees the once-great republic preoccupied with breaking yet another president? Will that world think: Why can't we be more like America? Does the world still envy us our free press, which it sees tirelessly digging up dirt on political figures and flaying them with abandon? Among the reasons democracy is in discredit and retreat worldwide is that its exemplar and champion, the USA, is beginning to resemble France's Third Republic in its last days before World War II. Also, democracy no longer has the field largely to itself as to how to create a prosperous and powerful nation-state.

This century, China has shown aspiring rulers how a single-party regime can create a world power, and how democracy is not a necessary precondition for extraordinary economic progress. Vladimir Putin, an autocratic nationalist, has shown how a ruined nation can be restored to a great power in the eyes of its people and the world, commanding a new deference and respect. Democracy is a bus you get off when it reaches your stop, says Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After the attempted coup in the summer of 2017, Erdogan purged his government and military of tens of thousands of enemies and jailed more journalists than any other nation. Yet he is welcomed in the capitals of the world.

What does American democracy now offer the world as its foremost attribute, its claim to greatness? "Our diversity is our strength!" proclaims this generation. We have become a unique nation composed of peoples from every continent and country, every race, ethnicity, culture and creed on earth. But is not diversity what Europe is openly fleeing from? (Read more.)

It is terrible to see a US Senator like Schumer be so insulting to the President in the White House. From The Federalist Papers:
President Trump just set three traps for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Soon to be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi over immigration and they walked right into them, as Thomas Lifson at the American Thinker reports:

President Trump clearly shocked House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer yesterday with his televising of the Oval Office sit-down over his demand for $5 billion funding for border security, including funding of critical mileage for his border wall. Knowing well that Pelosi had already vowed publicly that “transparency and openness” would characterize the Democrat-run House starting next month, her plaintive request to speak in private scored points for Trump and revealed her hypocrisy before any substance at all was considered.

Getting Pelosi and Schumer to reveal their hypocrisy was trap one, here’s trap two:

That was merely the first of three traps Trump had prepared for the Democrats’ congressional leadership. Trump’s second trap is his bold declaration of ownership of any “government shutdown.”Democrats have convinced themselves that what is called a “shutdown,” but really means furloughing non-essential federal workers, is a tragedy, a scar on the nation’s psyche. The fact that federal workers are now a major and solid constituency for Democrats skews their perception of the public’s concern. Aside from cancelling sleigh rides in national parks and other such photo dramas, the fact is that life goes on very well for nearly all Americans during the furlough. They learn that there are a lot of non-essential government workers. (Read more.)
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