Monday, August 31, 2015

Bold Blue Interiors

I love a touch of blue in decorating, as long as it is just the right blue. From Southern Lady:
From the moment Emily Larkin of Dallas-based EJ Interiors met the Davidsons, she knew their home didn’t match the couple’s vivacious personalities. “The house was extremely dark, very traditional, and the window treatments, furnishings, fabrics, and paint colors were worn and out of style,” Emily recalls. “Their home was missing the welcoming, up-to-date look it deserved.” The designer started with color. “Since blue almost acts as a neutral, it’s a great way to ‘introduce’ color to clients who aren’t used to a lot of it.”

Emily chose to keep some of the family’s pieces—such as brilliant handed-down antique rugs—to add history and character to the spacious home. “We juxtaposed these traditional pieces with more modern and glitzy elements like the Lucite coffee table and dramatic metallic rope mirror to bring in a fresh look.” (Read more.)

The Problem of Godlessness

From Matt Walsh at The Blaze:
As you’re no doubt aware, yesterday a “disgruntled” former employee of a news station in Virginia murdered a reporter and her cameraman on live TV. Vester Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, who is black, updated his social media feeds throughout the attack and in the proceeding hours. He filmed and live Tweeted the murder. He used his Twitter account to promote his Facebook platform during the killing, telling his followers to go check out the other site for footage.

This was a 21st century murder, through and through. And America played along; Thousands of people actually shared the murder video, enticing their Facebook friends and Twitter followers to click and watch two people die on camera.

It’s called evil. This is where it leads.

Obviously, the racial makeup of the incident won’t be particularly useful to the sleazy race hustlers of America, even though some of them couldn’t wait more than a few seconds before embarrassing themselves by publicly assuming the killer was white. But the tool Falanagan used to carry out his deed did provide the mobs an opportunity to make political statements about gun control, literally within minutes of the shooting.

Hillary Clinton politicized the deaths while the bodies were still lying on the pavement. Hollywood actors and media members wasted no time in implicating the NRA. Naturally, the White House manned the battle stations, calling on Congress to pass “common sense gun control.” Other politicians and left wingers around the country joined in the gun control chorus, choosing to make political props of the bodies before they were bagged, let alone buried.

Of course, none of these disgusting opportunists explained how “gun control” could have prevented the massacre. Flanagan owned the handgun legally and had no criminal record. What law could have prohibited him from obtaining the weapon, aside from an across the board ban on all guns everywhere for everyone? Is that what’s being proposed? If not, why bring it up in relation to this story? We’re always told gun confiscation is a hysterical right wing myth, but what other conceivable law could possibly apply to this particular situation? (Read more.)

Genuine Community vs. Pseudo-Intimacy

From A Conservative Blog for Peace:
In his second book, Where Have You Gone, Michelangelo? The Loss of Soul in Catholic Culture, the great Thomas Day (the explainer of American Catholicism, old and new, good and bad, to Anglo-Catholic alumni) nails why I don't like the new religion:
The trouble is, "intimacy" (for the intimate ones) and "corporate worship" (for everybody) repel one another.
Eureka! An epiphany. Not only is the new putative Catholicism from 45 years ago protestantized, hiding or denying parts of the faith (it's about God's presence in the community, not bread or wine), but actually all its seeming "warmth" (low churchmanship, church in the round, "the sign of peace") the studied informality, the fake friendliness trying to recapture a utopian "early church" (which historically it isn't, as even the New Testament says), is only creating a club, even a clique, reducing the church to the people you like. (Not just liberalized parishes but "small groups" and "intentional communities"; remember those?) Of course it's great when church people are friendly, but this is different, self-congratulatory. The real inclusivity, for people who don't get invited to parties, with problems that aren't fun to be around to make you feel good for trying to help (showing off fake charity, from political correctness to transcript and résumé-polishing), real "Christian community," is in the traditional rites as they evolved historically, just like for everybody else. "The Catholic Church: here comes everybody," people who know they're sinners and go to confession, not "My friends and I are living saints, working for justice and peace, not like YOU."

No wonder people left the church. Plus, normal people have real "community" with family, friends, etc., so they don't need or want the hokey, pseudo-religious kind. The churchy "cool kids" aren't really cool.

So if the church isn't an "in crowd" of the self-styled "cool kids," why be proud of being Catholic, as Day describes in the first chapter, in 1964? (The siege aspect and "the church will never change its essentials" were right; the trouble is when they become the only thing, which anybody acquainted with traditional Catholicism knows they're not: the love of Jesus, mysterious devotions, etc.) Isn't that a club too? Anybody can abuse religion (good old spiritual pride or Tartuffery), but the answer here is "elementary": being Catholic is submitting to something bigger than yourself. God, history, ceremony. The new religion is really mirror worship, narcissism. All about how nice supposedly the priest (facing the congregation like a performer), the congregation, the music group, et al. are. (So I guess the socially impaired aren't among the elect; they're among the damned.) Which is really why liberals didn't like the old religion (past tense; they're all old now), including the teachings of the church, which Vatican II upheld; the old religion distracted from that: "get out of my light." They sort of know the traditional music and ceremonial are better, so they attack it as "elitist."

The old religion ISN'T "elitist"; it doesn't talk down to the downtrodden. Rather, if it's good enough for the king and the bishop in his cathedral, it's good enough for you. Even if you're uncool, you too can share in great things. Such as the life of the world to come. (Read more.)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Greenbrier

From Victoria Magazine:
A refreshing symphony of color awaits Greenbrier guests, whether they are relaxing in the hotel or unwinding in the indoor pool–originally built in 1912 and remodeled by Dorothy Draper in the late 1940s....

Carleton Varney–Dorothy’s protégé, successor, and president of Dorothy Draper and Company, Inc.–has overseen most of the renovations at The Greenbrier and decorated the café there as a tribute to his mentor. Dorothy’s elegant portrait seems at home amid the room’s lavish plaster sconces, bright floral patterns, and bold stripes.(Read more.)


Manliness: The Unsung Trait

From Mona Charen at The National Review:
 There’s one more thing to be said of the heroes on the train. They were men. So-called “traditional masculinity” is a major target of feminists on college campuses and elsewhere. That, they teach, is what creates the “rape culture.” The Obama administration has joined in (naturally). A government website urges that colleges “Promote an understanding of the ways in which traditional masculinity contributes to sexual assault and other forms of men’s violence against women.”

In Aurora, Colorado in 2012, when a crazed gunman opened fire on a crowded movie theater, no fewer than three young men covered their girlfriends with their own bodies and lost their lives in the process. That, and not the loutish behavior of some frat boys, is true “traditional masculinity” — or better, manliness. Men have been defamed and devalued in our society for decades. Their high spirits are punished in schools. Their natural protectiveness has been scorned as sexism. The passengers on that French train are surely grateful that some manliness remains indomitable. (Read more.)
More from the National Review:
 A trainload of passengers owe three American men their lives. We owe them our thanks. Because of their example, men — young and old — are asking themselves the hard questions about their own courage, perhaps laying the foundation for bravery if or when their moment comes. They charged when others cowered. They led and other men followed. Courage is contagious, and each moment of courage makes us less soft, makes us a harder target, and sends a message to our enemies. Americans still know how to fight. (Read more.)

Crucifix of Louis XVI

From Rome Reports:
The Vatican Museums has re-opened one of its most famous rooms, the so called "Sala degli Indirizzi,” which roughly translates to the room of messages. After undergoing a two year restoration, it's now open for the world to see.

Vatican Museums
"Years ago, they used to store messages in that room, hence the name. Gifts and cards that dignitaries and heads of state would give to the Pope were kept there. So, everything from medals to diplomas and whatnot. The room represents the international reach of the Vatican's diplomatic relations.” 

The room has collections from the Vatican Library's Museum. Inside one can find chalices, patens and other liturgical items that go back centuries. 

One of the most unique objects is this crucifix. French King Louis XVI was actually clutching it, as he was sent to his death. 

Vatican Museums
"It is a devotional crucifix. A small cross that was painted and showed the personal piety of Louis XVI.  He held it in his hands when he was incarceration during the French Revolution. He also held it on his way  from his cell to the gallows where he was killed.”

It was the last object he laid eyes on. He prayed with it, just moments before his execution. (Read more.)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hospitality in White and Blue

From Victoria:
When friends come to call for the weekend, a freshly cut bouquet of blue and white hydrangeas offers an amiable greeting. A tableau arranged with coordinating transferware presents the evening’s menu to best effect, while alabaster textiles edged in delicate azure embroidery transform guest quarters into sanctuaries of relaxation. Throughout the visit, this charming colorway will evoke calming allusions to sea and sky at every turn. (Read more.)

Lady Cecily Stonor

Gareth Russell hosts Stephanie Mann. To quote:
Lady Cecily Stonor (nee Chamberlain) and her late husband Sir Francis Stonor (+1564) had two sons, Francis and John, and three daughters. They were recusants and because they would not attend Sunday services in the Church of England, they had to pay huge fines, selling land and estates as necessary. In 1577, according to the Stonor Park website, the family paid the modern equivalent of £50,000 in fines.

Cecily Stonor was elderly when she was brought to trial in Oxford for her recusancy. Her home, Stonor Park, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire was a refuge for Catholic priests. The Jesuit Edmund Campion stayed at Stonor and his “Decem Rationes” was printed there and then boldly distributed in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford, copies laid out carefully on the benches for Commencement on 27 June 1581. The authorities hunted Campion down on his way to Norfolk and captured him at Lyford Grange in Berkshire on 15 July. Then authorities came to Stonor Park on 4 August, finding the press, another Jesuit priest, William Hartley, and the printer—they also arrested Cecily, her son John, and four servants.

Questioned about her recusancy, Lady Stonor proclaimed that she had remained true to her Catholic faith even though the monarchs and government of England had changed religious policy several times. She referred particularly to her devotion to the Catholic Mass in her statement:
I was born in such a time when holy mass was in great reverence, and brought up in the same faith. In King Edward’s time this reverence was neglected and reproved by such as governed. In Queen Mary’s time, it was restored with much applause; and now in this time it pleaseth the state to question them, as now they do me, who continue in this Catholic profession. The state would have these several changes, which I have seen with mine eyes, good and laudable. Whether it can be so, I refer to your Lordships’ consideration. I hold me still to that wherein I was born and bred; and so by the grace of God I will live and die in it.
Cecily Stonor had experienced the Tudor dynasty, seeing the religious changes made once Henry VIII had proclaimed himself Supreme Head and Government of the Ecclesiae Anglicanae, while she had remained unchanged in her profession of religion. (Read more.)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Medieval Splendor

From the blog Once I Was a Clever Boy:
 The priory church of St Bartholomew the Great in Smithfield is one of the very few medieval churches to survive in central London, although it is not as well known as it should be. A substantial part of the priory church - presbytery and transepts - survives, and is a fine example of early twelfth century work - the priory was founded by Rahere, jester to King Henry I:

When we visit it can be very grateful that it has survived and feel we are seeing something of medieval London. 
However what we are not seeing is the colour that would have enriched the church. This changes the atmosphere  and experience. A medieval church was 'other' than that day to day living because it was, in the modern phrase, 'sacred space.'  Entering a medieval church was to enter a foretaste of Heaven. Yet this point seems still to be lost on so many people. I have even known distinguished academics in medieval history who have dismissed medieval colour schemes as garish and somehow imply we are better off without them.
To visualise the interior of St Bartholomew's as it would once have been is difficult - we have fragments and pieces but little in the way of complete schemes, or if they are they are faded  and pale. At Issoire in central France one such scheme has been recreated in 1857-59 - albeit controversially in the eyes of some, but maybe they also do not like the fact of  colouration.

(Read more.)

Traveling to New Orleans

It has been ten years since Katrina and the Crescent City shines once more. From Southern Lady:
New Orleans arguably has more than its fair share of the best restaurants in the world. Choosing tonight’s dinner destination was difficult, but I went with my sentimental favorite, The Court of Two Sisters. Located in the historic Governor’s Row section of Royal Street, the restaurant features the Quarter’s largest courtyard and the best duck à l’orange I’ve ever tasted. I could have stayed all night under the canopy of trees trimmed in twinkling lights, listening to a soothing fountain serenade, but I had plans for music of a different beat.

I could hear the blare of a tenor sax a block away as the jazzy blend of reeds and strings poured out of the door of Preservation Hall. I took a seat and listened as the Preservation Hall Band treated the packed house to this unique brand of music so identifiable with the city. An hour or so later, I reluctantly called it a night and slipped back to the hotel to rest up for the following day’s full agenda. (Read more.)

Catholics and the Return of Plain Chant

From Regina:
Unbeknownst to us, Plain Chant – also known as ‘Gregorian’ Chant – was and is nothing less than the 1400-year old ancient voice of the Church.  Dating from the 6th century, it takes its name from Pope St. Gregory the Great, who instituted it into the liturgy. 

Over the centuries, Chant – like everything in the Church — has seen corruption and reform,  but through the millennia it  remained Catholics’ principal way of praying in music in the Church. This,  until the Second Vatican Council, when other music began to replace chant within the liturgy — despite the Council’s express statement that ‘The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman … All other things being equal, Gregorian chant holds pride of place because it is proper to the Roman Liturgy. 1

Imbued with an enthusiasm known as the ‘spirit’ of Vatican II, in the decades following the Council, liturgists and prelates all but banished chant, until in 1994 something shocking happened. The monks of Silos, a monastery near Burgos, Spain, became internationally famous with their album Chant. Astonishingly, Chant peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200, and was certified as triple platinum, becoming the best-selling album of Gregorian chant ever released.

Suddenly, the monks’ chant reached a huge global audience, and by the mid-1990s a few in the Church had begun to question the status quo. Even more interest was aroused in 2000, when the documents of the Second Vatican Council became globally available on the Vatican website. To the question, ‘Why had this ethereal treasure of the Church been banished?’ there came no official answer. Only the Council Fathers’ own statement resonated through the years, clear as a bell. (Read more.)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A History of the English Monarchy

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Gareth Russell's new book A History of the English Monarchy: From Boadicea to Elizabeth I. Gareth has long been a friend of this blog, although we have not always seen eye-to-eye on everything, and a personal friend of mine as well. Along with being one of the most brilliant and prolific young authors I know of, he also edits the magazine Tudor Life. Visit Gareth at his blog Confessions of a Ci-Devant. I am honored to be part of Gareth's blog tour. To be included in the giveaway, please leave a comment with an email address so we can contact you if you win.

Here is a description from the publisher of the new book:
In A History of the English Monarchy, historian Gareth Russell traces the story of the English monarchy and the interactions between popular belief, religious faith and brutal political reality that helped shape the extraordinary journey of one of history’s most important institutions.
From the birth of the nation to the dazzling court of Elizabeth I, A History of the English Monarchy charts the fascinating path of the English monarchy from the uprising of ‘Warrior Queen’ Boadicea in AD60 through each king and queen up to the ‘Golden Age’ of Elizabeth I. Russell offers a fresh take on a fascinating subject as old as the nation itself. Legends, tales and, above all, hard facts tell an incredible story… a history of the English Monarchy.
I will be reviewing the book soon. In the meantime, the following is an article by Gareth, exclusive to Tea at Trianon.

A whitewashed church: A visit to the burial ground of the early Plantagenets

by Gareth Russell

While researching my last book A History of the English Monarchy: From Boadicea to Elizabeth I, I visited France to see the tombs of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard I and Henry III’s mother, Isabelle. The family feuds between Henry II, his wife and their sons had formed the basis for my third chapter, ‘From Scotland to Spain: The empire of the Plantagenets’ and their story fascinated me.

They lie today in effigy in the vast whitewashed knave of what was once the abbey church of the Fontevraud nunnery, a magnificent convent founded and expanded by Queen Eleanor’s family, where she chose to construct the early Plantagenets’ necropolis at the centre of what was then an empire that straddled both sides of the English Channel. The bright artwork, clouds of fragrant incense and kaleidoscope of splendid colour designed to tremble the knee and swell the heart is long gone. In the centuries after the region was claimed by the kings of France, Fontevraud retained its association with royalty and nobility, in what ultimately proved a costly friendship. In the seventeenth century, its abbess was a favourite of Louis XIV and ties to Versailles lasted until 1792, when the French Revolution’s hurtling mania towards enforced secularisation saw the last of the nuns, led by Abbess Julie-Gilette de Pardaillan d’Antin, take flight as the abbey was ransacked within weeks of the French monarchy itself imploding in a hail of blood, bullets and fire on the cobblestones of the Tuileries Palace courtyard.

The bright new world of de-Christianised republican France had no use for places like Fontevraud and the damage done was so extensive that even after Louis XVIII and Charles X were restored to the thrones of their forebears, the broken abbey retained the purpose assigned to it by the revolution, a prison, until 1963. To amuse themselves, the souls trapped in terrible conditions within its walls, some poor and victimised, others criminal and malign, vandalised what was left of Fontevraud’s once-splendid interiors. The misérables hacked off the nose of Richard the Lionheart’s effigy and whittled away in boredom at his carved joints.

Today his tomb is a small splash of colour alongside his mother’s, father’s and sister-in-law’s in the vast white emptiness of the disused chapel, where the grave of the abbey’s saintly founder, Robert of Arbrissel, is covered by nothing more than glass so that people can glibly walk across it. The sounds of tourists have replaced the pilgrims and the knights, the faintly discordant notes of their conversations and even their whistling echoes of the walls in place of hymns, chants and prayers. The bodies of Richard I and his relatives have long since vanished, torn from their tombs with every other set of royal bones in revolutionary France, no matter how antique. The outward shell of the tombs is all that remains. Whether it was the result of her design or vandalism after the 1790s is hard to tell, but it is amusing that the fiery Eleanor of Aquitaine’s effigy today rests a few slight but very definite inches higher than her estranged husband’s.

Emerging up the steps and into the light of the museum’s gardens, my mind fluttered to one of medieval Christianity’s sternest enjoinders – ‘Sic Gloria Transit Mundi’. (‘Thus passes all the glories of the world’.) In the end, all that remains of Queen Eleanor’s ambitions for her improbable family’s eternal memorial are four fading effigies in a defunct church. And, of course, the very faint possibility that her grave is deliberately a little higher than everybody else’s. Perhaps it is just the failed poeticism of the place, but it encourages the happy thought that through vanished magnificence a kernel of humanity, a reminder of our eternal foibles, endures.
About the Author:
Gareth Russell is an historian and writer from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He studied Modern History at the University of Oxford and completed a postgraduate in medieval history at Queen’s University, Belfast. He is the author of two novels and three non-fiction books, including his most recent book, A History of the English Monarchy: From Boadicea to Elizabeth I. He is currently writing a biography of Queen Catherine Howard.

The Birth of African Slavery

From Slate:
By 1650, however, conditions were already beginning to change. For one thing, both the Dutch and the English had started using enslaved Africans to produce sugar in the Caribbean and the tropics. English experiments at Barbados and Providence Island showed that Protestant investors could easily overcome their moral scruples. Large profits could be made if foreign rivals could be held in check. After agreeing to peace with Spain and giving up control of Northeast Brazil at midcentury, Dutch slave traders were actively looking for new markets. In England, after Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, he rewarded supporters by creating the Royal African Co. to enter aggressively into the slave trade. The English king also chartered a new colony in Carolina. He hoped it would be close enough to the Spanish in Florida and the Caribbean to challenge them in economic and military terms. Many of the first English settlers in Carolina after 1670 came from Barbados. They brought enslaved Africans with them. They also brought the beginnings of a legal code and a social system that accepted race slavery. (Read more.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Restoration of the Château de Gudanes

From Vogue:
To be the keepers of a grand French château is a thing of dreams, though few will truly live it, and even fewer have the vision and wherewithal to toil to make this dream a reality. Enter Karina and Craig Waters, an Australian couple who in 2013 purchased what amounted to an eighteenth-century neoclassical ruin—albeit a Class 1 Historical Monument ruin—in the village of Château-Verdun in the South of France. The property, Château de Gudanes, had once belonged to Louis Gaspard de Sales, the Marquis de Gudanes, who commissioned Ange-Jacques Gabriel (the Parisian architect behind Versailles’s Petit Trianon and Place de la Concorde) to create the palatial home. And though it survived the French Revolution, it eventually fell into disrepair. “When we first visited the Château back in 2011, we could only gain access to some of the front rooms. The roof, walls, and floors had fallen in and the water damage had prevented entry into most of the rooms. Green mold covered the walls like wallpaper and stinging knee-high weeds carpeted stone floors,” recalls Karina. “Following the ‘consolidation phase’ after which we could safely explore the rooms, people returned to the Château. Not just from the local villages, but from around the world.” (Read more.)

How Would You Know?

From Jennifer Fulwiler:
It’s just one of many pictures from a photo album full of pictures of the staff at Auschwitz relaxing and having a great time, sometimes with their children, during on-site retreats. I originally posted it as part of my post about “good people” and “bad people,” but I’ve thought about it many times since then.

For me, this picture symbolizes all average folks who ever lived during times where particularly dark shades of evil gripped societies. It reminds me that though today we can see through the distance of history the thick pall of darkness that overshadowed the world in which these people lived, many of them could not see it themselves when they were in the midst of it. Like being in a city with air pollution, it’s easy to think that the air is clean and fresh when you’re standing in it; it is only when you get some distance and look back that you can see the dark cloud looming over where you were, and know that you were breathing soot all along.

I tend to be an easygoing, optimistic person who focuses more on my little corner of the world than the macro issues of the day. I tend to want to believe the best about people, and guard against buying into hyperbolic rhetoric that makes generalizations about the activities of certain groups of people being particularly heinous — so often, upon reasonable analysis, that type of claim pans out to be nothing more than a lame attempt to vilify people you disagree with. (Read more.)
 Here is the 8th video about Planned Parenthood's illegal selling of baby body parts. Share

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Queen Isabella

It has been some years since Queen Isabella by Alison Weir was published; I am only now getting around to reading and reviewing it. I enjoy Weir's popular histories in that she usually sifts through the household accounts to find out how many bolts of cloth were ordered, and other such details, which can tell us a lot about a person. As for Isabella of France, Queen of England, the bolts of cloth were many, since Isabella always placed a high priority on clothes, as well as on jewelry and books. Like other medieval queens, a generous part of her income was spent on charities and endowments to churches and religious houses. To be able to maintain so many varied grants and charities, which also enhanced her level of influence, the Queen needed income. In the middle ages, the main source of income was land. Therefore when her husband Edward II, to whom she had borne an heir to the throne and other children, took away her lands and gave them to his friend Hugh le Despenser, it was a blow to her prestige as Queen Consort. It left her unable to fulfill her duties and relegated her to a humiliating status.

Isabella was the only daughter of Philip IV of France, a King known for his ruthlessness as well as his physical beauty, which is why he was called le Bel or "the Fair." Isabella inherited his good looks as well as his political shrewdness. At the age of 12 she was married to the 19 year old King of England, Edward II. As Isabella matured they must have made a striking couple, for Edward, like most of the Plantagenets, was tall and well-built with red-gold hair.  Unfortunately, Edward had a tendency to develop inordinate attachments to male favorites, upon whom he showered gifts, lands and titles. When Isabella first came to England, Edward gave some of her jewels to his favorite Piers Gaveston. His attentions to Gaveston disturbed many other nobles and Gaveston was murdered. Edward was heartbroken but focused on his duties. He and Isabella had four children and he showered upon her many gifts and estates. They shared a devotion to St. Thomas Becket, and the mendicant orders, although Isabella favored the Franciscans while Edward loved the Dominicans.

After a few years, however, Edward latched onto a new favorite, Hugh le Despenser the Younger, whose family and fortunes he raised high. Isabella, her lands taken away, felt that the Despensers had gained control of both the kingdom and her husband. When Edward and Hugh le Despenser sent her to France to see her brother the King on a diplomatic mission, she asked if their eldest son the Prince of Wales could accompany her. Edward, not suspecting a thing, allowed the Prince to go with the Queen. While in France, Isabella met an exiled English lord and enemy of the Despenser clan, Roger Mortimer. Together they plotted to overthrow Edward II and place young Edward on the throne.

With the help of the lords of Hainault, Isabella and Mortimer successfully invaded England and dethroned Edward. The English people, tired of the tyrannical rule of the Despensers, welcomed Isabella and her son with joy. Hugh le Despenser and his father were horribly executed. Prince Edward, who was torn between his parents, would not consent to taking his father's crown unless Edward II permitted it. Edward II abdicated in a sorrowful ceremony and later he disappeared. Some historians think he was murdered; Weir proffers a theory that has him escaping to Italy and living a life of holy penance as a hermit. No one knows for certain and it seems the question haunted many people, including his wife and son.

In the meantime, Edward III married Philippa of Hainault but Isabella would not let the young queen have any dower lands; Isabella would not surrender an acre. Her lover Roger Mortimer had become as dreadful a tyrant as the Despensers. Edward III at age 17 had to gather together a group of friends and personally overthrow Isabella and Mortimer by force of arms. Mortimer was executed and Isabella sent to live in dignified retirement in one of her many castles. She lived to see Edward and his Queen become successful rulers as they built a large family, fought with France and won, made the kingdom thrive and became, in the minds of many, the ideal king and queen. Isabella died on the octave day of the Assumption, August 22, 1358, and was buried in her wedding dress, with her husband's heart in a casket, according to her own wishes. I enjoyed Weir's book and it has me wanting to learn more about a human tragedy that played itself out on an international stage.


Taking a Stand for the Unborn

From Mary Beth Bonacci:
Abortion — essentially through all nine months of pregnancy — has been legal in this country for more than 40 years. We have all grown accustomed to it. We still may oppose it, of course. We hate what it does to unborn children and to women. We grieve with our friends, the women who run from the memory, who are traumatized by the “choice” that haunts them years later. We want it to end.
But we have lost that fire in our bellies, the sickening realization that human lives are being cruelly snuffed out by the thousands every day in our own back yards.

Let me be very clear. I don’t care how these videos were obtained. I don’t particularly care at what profit level the transfer of these tiny little human organs becomes legal or illegal. Those are all distractions. What I care about is what these videos have revealed, in graphic detail, to a complacent America. It is legal — and commonplace — to crush the most innocent of human persons to death, from above or below or wherever, to suction brains and smash heads, to kill babies in early or late stages of their development and to throw their tiny little corpses into freezers to part out for profit or science or research or whatever.

For years, we have heard that these smallest little beings really are not persons, that they are not yet fully human. And yet, the very fact that their organs are human gives them a dollar value on the open market.

What’s wrong with us?

Yes, we need to investigate Planned Parenthood. Yes, we need to stop giving them taxpayer money. But we can’t stop there. God has given us a tremendous opportunity. He has ripped away the curtain that hid the reality of abortion. He has shown us the gruesome procedures behind the euphemisms of “reproductive freedom” and “choice.” (Read more.)

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Radical Assault on Marriage and the Family

From Catholic World Report:
Dr. Paul Kengor is a professor of political science at Grove City College (Pennsylvania) and the author of several best-selling books, including Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century; God and Ronald Reagan; God and George W. Bush; God and Hillary Clinton; and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. Dr. Kengor is widely recognized for his scholarly work about the American presidency, the Cold War, and the history of communism.

His most recent book is Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage (WND Books, 2015), a deeply researched historical study of how radical leftists, for close to two centuries, have worked to undermine and fundamentally change—or even destroy—marriage, family life, and traditional social structures and relationships. (Read more.)
Via Abbey-Roads. Share

The Great New Martyrs

From FaithZette:
The Islamic State is wiping out Christian communities that have existed in the Middle East for many hundreds of years, an outspoken Catholic priest said Tuesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
The Rev. Benedict Kiely, a Vermont priest and founder of, lamented that the bloodletting proceeds unabated while Americans are consumed by a football scandal involving New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and an Olympic icon’s gender switching.

“We need to know that our brothers and sisters are suffering greatly while we’re concerned about deflated footballs and Caitlyn Jenner and triviality,” he said. “The world seems to be ignoring it.”
ISIS has steadily expanded territory from the ashes of Syria and Iraq. In those conquered lands, it has imposed one of the harshest and most literal interpretations of the Quran, the Muslim holy book. The group has carried out beheadings of infidels, forced nonbelievers to convert or flee, and sold young girls into sexual slavery. (Read more.)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Queen Juana in Captivity

The daughter of Ferdinand and Isabel was locked away as a madwoman with her youngest child. Share

The War on Women and Children

From Dr. Gerard M. Nadal:
60 Minutes.

That’s all it will take. 60 minutes.

In one hour’s time, a documentary film maker can assemble a case so damning, so overwhelming against Planned Parenthood that it is doubtful the giant could survive. Over the past several years there have been several damning undercover sting operations and other revelations about this organization and its members. The problem is that the revelations have been too spaced apart, and the momentary outrage has not been sustainable. This time the trafficking in human body parts has touched a nerve, and just as in the physiology of how nerves fire, the stimulus has to be sufficiently large and sustained.

Here, now, the totality of the case for any interested film maker.

Center for Medical Progress Videos

The Center for Medical Progress, which at this writing is in the midst of revealing its videos of Planned Parenthood discussing aborted baby parts for sale, has a page archiving the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood discussing the altering of abortion techniques to maximize organ and tissue yield, as well as discussing pricing for said parts. That site is here.

Live Action Videos

Lila Rose and Live Action have produced several sting operations over the years that demonstrate a culture of what has been described as criminal negligence where child safety is concerned.

Covering Child Sex Trafficking. In Live Action’s words:

“Investigations found seven Planned Parenthood clinics in four different states were willing to aid and abet the sex-trafficking of minor girls by supplying confidential birth control, STD testing, and secret abortions to underage girls and their traffickers.” The seven videos may be seen here.

Child Sexual Abuse Coverup. In Live Action’s words:

“Investigations found eight Planned Parenthood clinics in five different states were willing to cover-up sexual abuse, disregarding mandatory suspected statutory rape reporting laws. Clinics also provided instructions on how to circumvent parental consent laws.” The eight videos may be seen here.

Gendercide: The systematic killing of girls. In Live Action’s words:

“Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen estimated that as early as 1990, approximately 100 million women were demographically missing worldwide due to sex-selection abortion, female infanticide, and other such practices. Current estimates now put that number at 200 million missing women and girls globally.

“U.S. Census data and national vital statistics show that indeed, sex-selection is a growing problem in America. Americans are employing sex-selection techniques in their reproductive decisions. A review of census and birth records by Professor Jason Abrevaya of the University of Texas showed that Americans have sex-selected thousands of baby girls.” The five videos of Planned Parenthood willing to selectively abort girls may be seen here. (Read more.)

The American Religion

From A Conservative Blog for Peace:
Harold Bloom's observations from 1992: I believe his premise that the Protestant heresies, which Frederick Kinsman, an ex-Episcopal bishop of Delaware who became a Catholic (Reveries of a Hermit is a series of talks he gave at Notre Dame University in the '30s), rightly said began with emotion-driven, inconsistent, partially Catholic Luther's appeal to private judgment, have turned into the American religion; they ultimately mean self-worship. (Reinventing yourself, a distortion of being born again, fits into that, so Bruce Jenner still claims to be a good Christian, God's giving him XY chromosomes notwithstanding. America thinks it makes all things new.) Feel-good pietism (Bloom notes that real Christian writers, as in old Europe, warn against confusing feeling with truth or grace); the Inner Light; Jesus and me; I don't need a church. Related: moralistic therapeutic deism, except unlike deism, in the American religion God definitely loves you, peer to peer, a distortion of a couple of truths, including the Incarnation (Jesus is true God and true man). (Me: liberal high church, Episcopalianism, really says the trappings of the church are nice and fun but ultimately not necessary.) But the Mormons, whom he respects partly for their founders' genius and sees as quintessentially part of the American religion (a home-grown new religion), are a strong community (me: people convert and stay for that, not the theology). But while all Protestantism lends itself to the American religion, I don't buy Bloom's argument that the Southern Baptist Convention, while non-credal and individualistic, is full-on American like the Mormons and New Agers in believing that man is eternal, part of an eternal universe and thus every man is really a god. (He considers fundamentalism, which he doesn't like, part of the American religion just like New Age.) In the tradition of Mark Twain, who rubbished the Mormons, Bloom also takes fun swipes at Christian Science and Seventh-Day Adventism (cults started by boring, rather dim women). Bloom's also a fan of Ronald Knox's Enthusiasm. He agrees with the line that Europeans know what Christianity is and most now definitely reject it; most Americans are still religious, thinking they're Christian but they really aren't anymore. (Unspoken belief: Universalism? Of course! I'm a god!) (Read more.)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Louis XVI's Last Meeting with His Family

From Vive la Reine:
At half-past eight the door opened; the queen appeared first, holding her son by the hand; then Madame Royale and Madame Élisabeth; they ran to the arms of the king. A gloomy silence reigned for several minutes, interrupted only by sobs.
… The king sat down, the queen on his left, Madame Élisabeth on his right, Madame Royale nearly opposite to him, and the little prince between his knees.
All were bending towards him and held him half embraced. This scene of sorrow lasted seven quarters of an hour, during which it was impossible to hear anything; we could see only that after each sentence of the king the sobs of the princesses redoubled, lasting some minutes; then the king would resume what he was saying.
—the journal of Jean-Baptiste Cléry


Men and Liturgy

Modern liturgy has emphasized community, warmth, welcome, inclusiveness, accessibility, and being easily understood. Parishioners are often encouraged to greet those around them warmly, shake hands, hold hands, etc. Music has often become emotive and lyrical (rather than metered and march-like) and the themes emphasize welcome, intimacy with God, reconciliation, love, etc. 

None of these things are wrong in themselves, and there are masculine ways of expressing and experiencing these things, but there is a lack of balancing virtues that are often more appealing to men such as duty, call, honor, awe, reverence, respect, transcendence, sacrifice, spiritual warfare, and the struggle against evil.

Stirring, metrical hymns paired with equally vigorous verses describing virtues and themes such as adoration, obedience, faith, strength, hope, God’s power and glory, the ultimate victory of God and the faithful, tend to appeal more to men and masculine ideals.

It does not have to be one thing or the other in the liturgy; it really is about greater balance. Much of the modern liturgical fare in many (though not all) parishes is weighted toward aspects more often preferred by women. And while most men do not talk about it much, when asked, they consistently report being uncomfortable with and uninspired by modern liturgies.
It is no surprise then that men (according both to this and other polls as well as anecdotal observation) are on average more likely than women to prefer the solemn, formal liturgies of the traditional rites. The discipline, skill, and almost military-like precision appeal to many men. Tradition here need not refer only to the pre-conciliar forms, but also to newer forms that contain more traditional elements and formality. (Read more.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Stanisław I Leszczyński

Louis XV's father-in-law, former King of Poland, and great grandfather of Louis XVI. He was also Duke of Lorraine. Share

Outrage and Action

From Fr. Frank Pavone:
In various key moments in our struggle against abortion, something happens that gives the American public a chance to see abortion — and the abortion industry — for what they are. The veil is lifted off of the corruption and horror of these atrocities, which continue not because the American people support them but because abortion industry hides them. This lifting of the veil happened during the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Many realized, during those weeks, that “legal abortion” does not mean “safe abortion.”

Now, with the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood, a similar phenomenon kicks in, whereby many realize for the first time that abortion is not the serene and innocuous thing that slogans made them think it was, and that Planned Parenthood is not the caring, service-oriented organization that its marketing masters make the public think it is.

But it is not enough that jaws drop or that eyes that have long slumbered suddenly open to a glaring light. Things can easily go back to normal, and slumbering eyes can all too easily slumber again. And if they do, then as Scripture says, “the last condition of that person is worse than the first” (Mt. 12:45). It is easier to come to repentance when the lie that one once embraced is first exposed as a lie, and the evil that one once thought was good is first exposed as evil. Here’s why. (Read more.)

Lost Palace of Whitehall

From Nancy Bilyeau:
Today little remains above ground of the royal residence that covered 23 acres in Westminster, on the edge of London. The name "Whitehall" is synonymous with the British government and its civil service. Yet present-day Downing Street once was part of Henry VIII's royal entertainment grounds, with the street's first known house leased by Elizabeth I to a favorite, Sir Thomas Knyvet. The Tudor roots are strong.

Not everyone mourned the palace's destruction in the late 17th century. The duc de Saint-Simon said in his memoirs "a fire destroyed Whitehall, the largest and ugliest palace in Europe."

But Whitehall, the obsession of royal lovers Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, had once been thought beautiful.

It was Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Henry VIII's lord chancellor, who turned a bishop's residence on the Thames, just a short distance from Westminster Abbey, into a place of splendor. Since Wolsey held the bishopric of York, he was entitled to make use of York Place, as it had been known since the 13th century. Wolsey borrowed money and devoted his considerable energies to expanding it "most sumptuously and gorgeously." Banquets were held there, and elaborate "masques and mummeries." (Read more.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Portrait of Louis XV

At Versailles. "A portrait of Louis XV, done in 1748 by Louis-Michel van Loo." Share

The Greece of St. Paul

From Aleteia:
A two-week trip to Greece will let priests in Rome follow in the steps of St. Paul: all the way from his conversion in Philippi, to his preaching in Corinth and finally his overnight stop in Crete as a prisoner.

“Studying the Bible in the places where it was written – the Holy Land, Greece, Turkey – is essential for all students of Scripture, in my opinion,” Father Scott Brodeur S.J. told CNA Aug. 13.

“Of course classroom lectures and readings are essential to the learning process, but well-planned trips to the Biblical lands really help people put that knowledge into better perspective.”

Fr. Brodeur is a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and a specialist in Pauline studies.

For the second year in a row he will be leading the “Paolo e il suo ambiente (Paul and his environment)” course in Greece, a two-week a licentiate-level study done through the Biblical Theology department of the Gregorian University.

Starting Sept. 7, the course is meant to introduce students to what would have been St. Paul's world in the first century.

“After visiting the baptistery area along the river bank in Philippi, you cannot read the story from Acts about Paul's conversion of St. Lydia in the same way,” Fr. Brodeur said. “The same with a visit to Corinth or Thessalonica – Paul's letters make more sense and take on greater meaning.”

The 33 students who will participate in the course this year are mostly religious and diocesan priests from the Gregorian, with the exception of one laywoman and her husband, and a few students from the other pontifical universities.

A handful of non-students coming just for the experience are also numbered among the group, including the rector of Pontifical Brazilian College.

“That said, the real diversity in the group is our national makeup: many different countries from all over the world are represented, and the one language we all share, thanks to Rome, is Italian,” the priest observed.

Structured around the major places in St. Paul's life and ministry in Greece, the course will take students to Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth and Crete.

The fact they will be traveling by bus will help those enrolled to appreciate the long distances Paul and the other apostles traveled by foot, which was “an extraordinary achievement for people in the first century!” Fr. Brodeur said.

After spending roughly a week and a half going around continental Greece, the group will spend their final three nights on Crete, which is the last place St. Paul – while in chains – visited before shipwrecking on the island of Malta.

Although the main goal is to visit the churches that Paul himself founded, the priest stressed that it’s also important to learn about the major pagan sanctuaries of the day.

In addition to visiting the shrines of Delphi, Olympia and Epidaurus, the students will also be taken to the Orthodox monasteries of the Meteora, which Fr. Brodeur noted are “unique in the whole world.”

St. Paul, he observed, “is the Church’s greatest evangelizer. He brought the Gospel to the nations and brought the Gentiles into the Church.”

“Thanks to his brilliant articulation of the Christian faith Christianity spread from Asia to Europe. He was a man of extraordinary intellect, courage and zeal,” he said, and expressed his admiration of the apostle for these and the many other virtues he possessed. (Read more.)

Come September

The forecast for Fall 2015 in America:
As fall of 2015 unfolds, an already brutal wildfire season will continue across much of California and the Northwest. In contrast, the rain will continue at times in the Southwest even after the monsoon fades in early September.

An expected strong El Niño will lead to beneficial rain for Southern California, but it may be delayed until late fall and winter; meanwhile, flooding and mudslides will threaten the Four Corners region, in addition to some mid-fall snow.

Wet weather is forecast to unfold across the south-central United States after a drier second half of summer, even spreading into the Southeast and mid-Atlantic at times. Farther northeast, a dry autumn is in store for leaf-peepers while the neighboring Midwest will face some chilly conditions. (Read more.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Attack on the Queen's Bed

At the Tuileries. They also attacked her bed at Versailles. To quote: "The bedroom of Marie Antoinette at the Tuileries on August 10th, 1792." Share

The New Nuns

From Aleteia:
This week The Wall Street Journal published insights into the life of 30-year-old Sister Bethany Madonna together with seven other Sisters of Life also in their 30s. Based in New York, the Sisters of Life is a reasonably new order established in 1991 by New York Cardinal John O’Connor. Since then, it has thrived.  The impetus for the order came when Cardinal O’Connor visited Dachau, the site of a Nazi death camp. It moved him to start a religious community of women with a fourth vow to protect the sacredness of every human life, in addition to the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Canonically speaking, they are sisters and not nuns, working in the community as they do, rather than living a contemplative life, though they do spend at least four hours in prayer every day.

Earlier this year, the New York Post expressed concern at the city’s declining birth rate and the plight of New York families.  A significant number of births are from the city’s poorest neighborhoods — nearly 6 in 10 moms were on Medicaid or government-financed health insurance for the needy:
The city’s birth rate is the lowest since 1936 — having steadily declined over the past decade, according to data obtained by The Post. “This is a very troubling trend,” said Conservative Party state chairman Mike Long. “The economy is hurting families and the development of families … If we don’t produce enough young people, society won’t be able to pay for Social Security and Medicaid,” he warned.

Blacks had the lowest birth rate citywide, with 12.7 per 1,000 — and more black women are having abortions than babies, at a rate of 55 percent.  “When the abortion ratio reaches nearly 60 percent in some communities, we as community leaders need to examine the choices we are making as we educate our young people,” the New York Metropolitan Clergy for Better Choices said.
As its fertility rate declines and more pregnant mothers struggle, one of the things the Sisters of Life concentrate on is helping pregnant women. This includes welcoming pregnant women in crisis to live among them as guests and practically assisting pregnant women in other ways. (Read more.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Royal Family of Naples

Marie-Antoinette's beloved sister Maria Carolina and her family. From Tiny-Librarian:
On the right is Ferdinand IV with his eldest surviving son and heir, Francis, who is pointing to his mother, Maria Carolina of Austria, where she sits in the centre writing a letter. At Maria Carolina’s feet are Maria Antonia and Leopold, sitting on a cushion. To the left are daughters Maria Luisa, Maria Amalia, and Maria Christina. Behind them all, are portraits of the couple’s eldest child Maria Theresa, and her husband Francis II. (Read more.)