Saturday, October 31, 2015

Buffet Etiquette

From Southern Lady:
There are three options for a buffet. One is the standing buffet. Guests serve themselves and simply stand to eat. However, chairs should always be provided for elderly people.

The traditional buffet calls for guests to be served from the main table; then they move to other rooms to find places to sit. Each guest should have access to a table—or a portion of one—on which to place their drink and plate. It is also quite acceptable to sit on the floor if the occasion is casual. A thoughtful hostess provides small folding tables for guests—it makes them more comfortable and helps avoid accidental spills.

At a seated buffet, guests serve themselves from the buffet table and then sit at the dining-room table or at small tables that have been placed throughout the house. In this case, the hostess should ask guests to find their places first and then to be served by tables. This allows people to eat together while their food is still warm. (Read more.)

Cecily Neville

From Susan Abernethy:
Cecily was born on May 3, 1415. She would be known as the “Rose of Raby” due to her beauty and because she was born in the Neville stronghold of Raby Castle. She was the eighteenth child of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmoreland and the tenth child by his second wife Joan Beaufort. Joan was the legitimized daughter of the union between John of Gaunt, a son of King Edward III, by his third wife, Katherine Swynford.

Cecily was given the standard education for a noble lady of the time. She would have learned accounts and how to read and how to run a medieval household. In August of 1422, the Lancastrian King Henry V died. With his death, the wardships in royal hands came under reassessment and Ralph Neville purchased the guardianship of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York for three thousand marks. Richard came to live at Raby Castle in 1423. In 1424, Cecily and Richard were betrothed. Cecily was nine and Richard was thirteen. Richard was also a descendant of King Edward III and had a claim to the throne of England that was marginally better than that of the new king, Henry VI.

In October, 1425, Cecily’s father died. Her mother inherited a great deal, including the wardship of Richard. All three of them moved to London to the court of Henry VI. No record exists for the exact date and location of Cecily’s marriage but she was definitely wed by October of 1429. She most likely attended the coronation of Henry VI with her husband in November of that same year. Richard went to France with the king in 1430.

By 1432, Richard had gained complete control of his full inheritance and the couple could now form their own household and act independently. They had many castles to choose from as their personal home but Fotheringhay was their favorite and became their principal residence. Construction was begun near the castle on St. Mary the Virgin and All Saints Church along with a college to pray for the family. Cecily would have full control of managing her households, performing acts of piety and attending court when required with her husband. She would have received petitions on her husband’s behalf and there is some record of her being active in legal affairs. (Read more.)

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Meaning of a Southern Home

From Southern Lady:
“Well-curated collections amassed from items gathered over time, family heirlooms, and a particular flair for the interesting—there are always interesting little pieces to be found around old Southern homes; knickknacks with incredible origin stories and historic photos are some of the best things about families with roots in the South."

 Dallas-based interior designer Elaine Williamson-Romero used a family’s shared love of bold color to guide the aesthetic of this home. Having lived in New Orleans before coming to Dallas, Elaine was well acquainted with the decorative allure of bright hues. “It’s New Orleans, but not in the way you’d expect,” she says. “It’s loud and classic but lacks the French flair present in so many of the New Orleans–inspired homes we see these days. I’d almost call it ‘Nouveau Orleans.’ It’s fun, and it’s engaging, but you won’t see fleurs-de-lis all over the place.” (Read more.)

The Witches: Salem, 1692

A book review from the New York Times:
Historians, like terriers, are diggers, but Salem offers stony soil for discovery. Still, scholars have offered astonishingly fresh interpretations from sources long since chewed over. In “Salem Possessed” (1974), Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum revolutionized the field of social history with their patient mapping of the domestic and economic tensions that, they argued, explained the outbreak. More recently, Mary Beth Norton’s “In the Devil’s Snare” (2002) advanced an electrifying analysis of the witch crisis as a reaction to the Indian wars that consumed northern New England in the 1680s and 1690s. Schiff has read these works, and much more; her endnotes show that she and her team of researchers — she credits eight of them in her acknowledgments — have mined the literature voraciously. Schiff also shows a reporter’s instinct, referring to interviews and email exchanges with leading scholars. She leans most heavily on the monumental “Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt” (2009), a thousand-page collaborative editing project led by Bernard Rosenthal. The documents meticulously compiled by Rosenthal and his team invite new questions, but Schiff does not pursue them. Those who think of history as a process of detection leading to original interpretation will find little new, and less of interest here. (Read more.)

Feminism and Fertility

From First Things:
According to the 2010 Vital and Health Statistics, 62 percent of women are on contraceptives. This widespread use is socially reinforced by advertising messages and widely promoted notions of women’s health that denigrate the value of a woman’s fertility. Such messages put a woman “at war with herself,” Franks writes, “Contraception must be the only case in which a person takes a pill solely in order to thwart the natural purpose of a bodily system, all in the name of ‘health.’”

The contraceptive culture is now the status quo, but it doesn’t have to remain this way. In her Essays on Woman, Edith Stein says that a woman’s primary vocation is two-fold: as a spouse and mother. A woman may wear many hats, but her role as a mother retains a special importance. While being made in and for themselves as personal subjects, Mulieris Dignitatem explains that “motherhood is linked to the personal structure of the woman.” Those who are unmarried or infertile can participate in the call of motherhood by developing in themselves an open and loving heart in which others may rest and find peace. (Read more.)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Joaquin Sorolla

I discovered that I Require Art has a blog! Here is their post on Sorolla:
What light! Palpable and alive — the winds, the boats, the bulls, the people at work and play — visual exultation at its finest.

The artist? Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Valencian Spanish, 1863-1923). His work centered mostly in his native Valencia and Madrid. This prolific artist’s subject matter varied widely and he enjoyed great popularity during his lifetime.

If, at first glance, John Singer Sargent crosses your mind, one understands. Each artist indulged in loose, lush brushwork and a bright palette in pursuing light. Each was a premier portrait painter. Each is associated with Velasquez as an artistic influence. And each produced a body of work that endures and still engages.

Faÿ and Stein

The Jews of Paris were being rounded up by the Vichy government yet Gertrude Stein was never arrested. Reid's Reader discusses why. To quote:
Gertrude Stein was a lesbian, and is applauded as such on many Gay and Lesbian websites. She is seen as a pioneer of gay liberation who would therefore presumably have approved of gay marriage etc.etc. Gay-and-Lesbian readers are left to assume, from such websites, that she would have seen the world as homosexuals in the early 21st Century do. Open, inclusive, rainbow LGBTQ coalition and so forth.
But there is a big problem with this. If one reads The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, one soon discovers that Stein was in many respects a conservative, indeed reactionary, person. She may well have been an avant garde writer of her time in terms of style, but she was more on the Right than on the Left of the political spectrum.
It’s no secret that this was true of many of the Modernists, from T.S.Eliot (“Anglican, royalist, classicist”) to W.B.Yeats (aristocratic elitism and a taste for Fascism) to D.H.Lawrence (basically Blut-und-Boden-mit-Sex) to Ezra Pound (broadcasts from Fascist Rome etc.). In fact, this sort of conjunction was more-or-less inevitable when the Modernists were reacting against mass-produced and mass-appeal literature and consciously creating something for the educated few. Assumptions of an elite and exclusivist sort were behind much of their thought.
I say none of this to belittle what they wrote. All the names I’ve mentioned here (except possibly the tiresome, phallus-obsessed Lawrence) were important figures in literature. All of them wrote significant and important things. And a part of me thinks that the social and political opinions they expressed were no more off-the-mark than those of writers on the Left at the time, who wobbled foolishly into the orbit of Stalin.
Nevertheless, it remains true that Gertrude Stein was no advocate of gay liberation and indeed sometimes spoke scornfully even of the women of “first-wave” feminism who had struggled for the vote. She thought of herself as “masculine” (her term), admired soldiers, and thought of Alice B. Toklas as her “wife”. Heterosexual women – especially married ones – she regarded as less than herself, and tended to dismiss or patronise when they came visiting with their husbands. Not much sisterly solidarity there. And on the political front, she greatly admired the soldier General Franco, whose side she supported (with words) when the Spanish Civil War was in progress. Ironical when you consider that she was an on-again, off-again friend of Picasso, whom she claimed to have “discovered”, but there you are.
And then we come to the very messy part of the story. Though they were both ethnically Jewish (though non-religious), Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas stayed in France throughout the Nazi occupation, 1940-44. They did have to leave Paris and move to a remote country area, but they were not molested and the art collection they had amassed in Paris was never plundered or destroyed, as other collections of “decadent” art were in Nazi-occupied countries. Why was this? (Read more.)

Bread and Butter Basics

From Southern Lady:
First and foremost, bread should always be taken from the service plate and put on your bread plate (or dinner plate if no bread plate is offered). Bread is never taken directly from the service plate and eaten. Here is the proper way to eat bread and butter:
  • Place your bread on the bread plate.
  • Using the service knife, take a serving of butter from the butter dish, and put the butter on the plate.
  • Break the bread into medium-sized pieces.
  • Butter each piece of bread just before you eat it—do not butter the entire piece before you begin. There are, however, exceptions to this rule, mainly for Southern biscuits and cornbread that are served piping hot. Butter these immediately so that the butter will melt while the bread is hot.
  • Use your individual knife for buttering your bread and never use it to get more butter from the butter dish.
  • Even when the bread is small, it is best to break it before eating it.
(Read more.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Daughter of Louis XVI

A card honoring Marie‑Thérèse, the daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Via Tiny-Librarian.
Orphan and exile, she seemed to incarnate the collective guilt and collective pain of the nation.  Consumed by a quest, wrestling with demons, her greatest strength and her fatal flaw was a refusal to compromise principles for politics; of cold demeanor with a heart of fire; of bitter aspect, with an unfailing generosity, her undying faith and zealous devotion to God, His Church, and the poor led her to be the heroine and defender of the idea of the Christian state.  Daughter of a martyred king and queen, she was Marie‑Thérèse‑Charlotte of France, the Duchesse d’Angoulême, who from childhood had been called “Madame Royale.” ~from Madame Royale by Elena Maria Vidal

Review from Gareth Russell, HERE.


Emmaus Home: Interview with Anne Bradley

I recently had the honor of interviewing Mrs. Anne Bradley of Emmaus Home, a community for adults with intellectual disabilities. Mrs. Bradley is a delightful lady whom I met at my Secular Carmelite meeting. Her journey and mission is inspiring and whenever I am tempted to feel sorry for myself I think about the work she does for God and His children.  Here is the interview:

EMV. How did your journey on the Road to Emmaus begin?

 AB. The journey to Emmaus began with a prompting of the Holy Spirit. Several years prior, I had looked into L'Arche. However, I needed to raise a lot of money - and the timing wasn't right. Through my spiritual director at the time, I met a wonderful gal from New Jersey who had a very similar story to mine. She had a son with autism and wanted to start a faith-based home. I met with her and she gave me much support and encouragement. We leased a former parish, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque last November, my eldest son Michael, the first house parent and my son with autism, Kevin, moved in in January. Albert who has autism and Eric, our second house parent, moved in in February and finally Suzanne our third resident moved in in June. We are able to have two more individuals, and are waiting who the Lord will send next!

EMV. What surprises has the Lord shown you on this journey?

AB.  The surprise the Lord has shown me are the amazing and very diverse people He is sending! He also has everything we need... each time there is a need, the Lord provides! He works through many people! When we were in need of a van so we didn't have to take three vehicles on trips, a beautiful new 2016 15-passenger van was gifted to us! When we needed electric work in the residence, the Union showed up! God is very Good!

EMV. What secular resources have you found helpful?

AB. We have a day program that is licensed. We are in our start up phase. However this will be a very good source of funding. We have a rehabilitation department that provides 1:1 care for folks with disabilities. We are in the process of licensing our home - again this will be billable to Medicaid and can provide a nice income for Emmaus Home! It's quite a bit of juggling right now for two people, but we know the Lord will send us an administrative staff in the future!

EMV. What are the greatest obstacles you have encountered that you can share?
AB. The greatest obstacle is the lack of man power, money, energy and resources right now. There is a lot of competition in this area for services for the disabled. However, because we are faith-based, and have committed assistants living in community with our folks, we are different from the traditional secular group home/provider agency.

EMV. Have you found that God always sends the right people at the right time?

AB. The work we do with our folks is life-altering! We learn much more from them than they can from us! They help us to be patient. They help us to pause... They can never compete with the world's standards, nor should they. They are just by "being" a great witness to the dignity and the sanctity of human life.

EMV. What can you tell us about the joy that comes in caring for God's special children that is different from anything the world can give?

AB. It is a great honor to be in the presence of such pure-hearted people!!

EMV. How can people help?

AB. We need lots of volunteer help and especially Prayers for fortitude and faithfulness each day!! We need donations. Please direct people to our website. We have weekly Wednesday Masses at 5:30. We are having an upcoming Catholic Underground on 11/14. This begins with a 7 PM Holy Hour followed by a coffee house with a singer/musician. We also are having a Thanksgiving Dance on 11/28 for folks with disabilities.

EMV: Thank you, Anne, for sharing your work with the readers of Tea at Trianon.

Anyone who would like to help Emmaus Home, please visit the website, HERE.

Here is an article about the thrift shop at Emmaus Home.


Jane Austen and Anonymity

From The Guardian:
The fact that Jane Austen, in the course of her short life, published her books anonymously made a great impression on me as a girl of 15. It was the surly English teacher who told us this, and I was tempted to ask why, but I soon abandoned the idea, out of timidity. Meanwhile, I read Pride and Prejudice, but it didn’t interest me. At the time, I was enthralled by the great male adventure novels, with their stories that ranged all over the world, and I wanted to write such books myself: I couldn’t resign myself to the idea that women’s novels were domestic tales of love and marriage. I was past 20 when I returned to Austen. And from that moment not only did I love everything she had written but I was passionate about her anonymity. Sense and Sensibility appeared in October of 1811, in three volumes, with the sole clue: “By a lady”. The three other books that she published in her lifetime – Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815) – also came out anonymously. As for the two novels published posthumously in a single volume, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, they, too, appeared without the name of the author, but with a note about Austen written by her brother Henry: an interesting example of how the living can both respect and, at the same time, violate the memory of the dead. (Read more.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Searching for Grandma

I am an indie novelist writing under the name Elena Maria Vidal. Once in a television interview I was asked the reason for using a pen name and I replied it was in honor of my grandmother, Maria Magdalena Vidal Strong.  As a child I used to say to her, "Grandma, tell me about your life." Maria Magdalena was born on May 25, 1904 on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. Her great- grandfather, Kiamko, was Chinese. She always told us that he was a merchant from Shanghai, but we found out many years later that actually he was a notorious buccaneer.  His granddaughter, my grandmother's mother, was Mamerta Philomena, an exotic beauty with dark skin and chiselled features. She married a young man from Barcelona, Jaime Vidal.  Their children were Frank and Magdalena. Jaime died and Mamerta was kidnapped and found herself in a difficult marriage where Magdalena was not safe. Frank, the much older brother, had gone to sea.

Mamerta heard of an orphanage for mixed race children called the House of the Holy Child run by American missionaries. She took her little girl there and asked them to take care of her. The House of the Holy Child was operated by the Anglican Church under the auspices of a former Boston socialite, Frances Crosby. She was a maiden-lady with no children of her own. She was enchanted by Magdalena and reared her as her own daughter. Magdalena was a bright and precocious child and wanted to be a teacher. She began teaching as early as age fourteen, and by age twenty had her teaching certificate. It was then she met my grandfather, Herman Strong, from Alabama. They married and had four children. The youngest is my mother.

When the Japanese invaded the Philippines in 1942 my grandfather, being an American citizen, was sent to Santo Tomas concentration camp in Manila. Magdalena made ends meet by tutoring the daughters of the future president of the Philippines, Manuel Quezon. My grandmother hid Filipino guerrilla soldiers in her attic, risking death since the Japanese made frequent house searches. When the Americans came to liberate the Philippines, there were massacres in the streets of Manila. Magdalena knew they had to escape. She crawled through the mud with her children, trying to avoid land mines, to hide in a burnt out house in a district where the Japanese had already been. They almost starved to death, but were eventually reunited with my grandfather and returned to his family home in Alabama.

The strain of the war had so taken its toll upon my grandparents. Their marriage failed and they divorced in the late forties. Magdalena returned to teaching. She was always a devoted Anglican and never married again. She eventually moved to Seattle, Washington which she said reminded her of Baguio. She would spend the summers with us in Maryland, and as she crocheted, she would tell me about her life. A stroke destroyed her health and she had to move to a nursing home. She died on November 12, 1987.

Grandma always told me she wanted me to write the story of her life. In October 2015, my cousin Jaime Almora and his wife came from the Philippines to visit us.  He is one of the grandsons of my grandmother's brother Frank. He told me many family stories I had never heard before and invited me to visit my relatives in the Philippines. I know that now is the time to begin researching the book of my grandmother's life.

But I need money to travel so far. The money will be used for plane fare to travel to the Philippines. I would like to plan the trip for sometime within the next six months. It would fulfill my grandmother's dream to write the story of her life and not only her life, but the story of the many brave people she knew during Occupation. Hers is story which needs to be told. Please consider helping and I will be deeply grateful. Share

Etiquette and Manners for Men

From an old etiquette book via Etiquipedia:
"Madge" tells us to bear in mind that "the most innately courteous and high minded of morals possesses no inward guide to the knowledge that a letter to the King must be written on thick white note paper, and enclosed in an envelope large enough to take it without being folded. And how could anyone possibly be aware from his or her inner consciousness only, that a Frenchman may eat with his fork, leaving his knife blade sideways on his plate, whereas an Englishman must not do so under penalty of showing himself ignorant of our table customs?" (Read more.)

The First Circle

Solzhenitsyn revisited. A review from Reid's Reader:
I’ve often wondered how well the literary reputation of Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) will hold up in future years. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970. When his work first appeared in English, he was generally reviewed positively and sometimes enthusiastically. Yet it was perhaps unavoidable that he was always seen from a particular political perspective. He was the dissident writer of the late Soviet era. I am old enough to remember that when his first exposes of the Gulag Archipelago came out, there were still doctrinaire old Hard Leftists who, like Holocaust-deniers, wanted to pretend that no such thing existed. Vigorous attempts were made by Soviet officials to discredit him once he was settled in the West (from 1974). Every so often, stories still appear telling us that Solzhenitsyn was an anti-semite or that he had even cooperated with the KGB. But he outlived the Soviet Union. He returned to Russia in 1994, four years after the Soviet Union had become history.
 But here is the fate of a writer too closely identified with a certain point in the world’s political history. Once that point is past, he fades out of the general consciousness. Am I right in saying that Solzhenitsyn rarely comes up in literary discussions now? And when he does, his reputation is very mixed. Even when he was at the height of his popularity (in the West), some critics were clearly annoyed that he had become a Christian and rejected the dogmatic materialism in which he had been raised. There were others who situated him in the tradition of Great Russian ethnic nationalism, and wondered where this would lead him. Cold Warriors, who assumed that his critique of the Soviet Union would lead him to embrace Western liberalism, were taken aback to encounter a man who was as opposed to consumerism and the abuse of liberal freedoms as he was to communism. When he returned to his homeland, Solzhenitsyn saw Russia becoming a tacky copy of the West in the new age of Russian capitalist oligarchs and gangsters. In his last years, he wanted a more disciplined society and – in his mid-eighties – he endorsed the strong-arm Russian nationalism of Vladimir Putin.
Oh well. A writer can’t be right about everything and can’t always be an accurate prophet. Solzhenitsyn died six years ago, but it’s at least possible that, if he were still alive, he would have changed his mind about Putin. One hopes so.
After all this throat-clearing, however, I come to this obvious assertion: it is by his written works that we should judge a writer and, regardless of changed historical circumstances, I think there is still much to be said for Solzhenitsyn’s novels. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich remains a key text on imprisonment and the survivalist mentality it produces. Cancer Ward is a painful and dramatic confessional. August 1914 and its sequels are bracing post-Soviet rewritings of revolutionary history. But the one I would pick out as the masterpiece is The First Circle, which Solzhenitsyn wrote, on and off, over nine years, 1955 to 1964. Its 700-plus pages have a large and well-delineated dramatis personae. Its psychological observation is acute. It takes in momentous events so that, even though it is set in a constricted place and its action covers a mere three days, it has an epic tone. More than one critic has remarked that it has the weight and feel of a solid nineteenth century novel.(Read more.)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte's Last Will and Testament

Here is a rare drawing of Marie-Thérèse as she would have dressed around the time of her death in 1851.

Here is a card commemorating her death on October 19, 1751, with an abridged version of her Will. It says:
+WILL+ OF MARIE THÉRÈSE OF FRANCE, DAUGHTER OF KING LOUIS XVI AND OF QUEEN MARIE ANTOINETTE, WHO DIED AT FROHSDORFF, +OCTOBER 19, 1851+ Following the example of my parents, I forgive, with all my soul, and without exceptions, all those who may have harmed or offended me; sincerely asking God to extend to them His mercy, as well as to me, and supplicating Him to accord me pardon for my faults. I thank all the FRENCHMEN who have remained attached to my family and to me for the proofs of devotion that they have given us, for the sufferings and pains they endured because of us. I pray God to pour out His blessings on FRANCE, which I have always loved, even in the midst of my bitterest afflictions. Having always considered my nephew HENRI and my niece LOUISE as my children, I give them my maternal blessing. They have had the happiness to have been raised in our holy religion, may they always remain faithful to it, may they always be worthy descendants of SAINT LOUIS! May my nephew consecrate his happy faculties to the accomplishment of the great duties which his position imposes upon him! May he never depart from the ways of moderation, justice and truth!
Here is a more complete reading of her Will:
In the name of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost … I submit in all things to the will of Providence. I do not fear death; and, lacking merit of my own, I place all my trust in the mercy of God, praying of him for time and grace to receive the sacraments of the Church with fervent piety …
I die in the Roman Catholic and Apostolic religion, in which I have lived as faithfully as I had power, and to which I owe all the consolations of my life.
… After the example of my parents, I pardon, with my entire soul, and without exception, all those who have injured or offended me; sincerely praying God to extend to them His mercy, and to me also, for the pardon of my sins. To all the faithful French who have remained attached to my family and to myself, I leave thanks for the devotedness, the sufferings, and the penalties they have endured in our cause.
I pray God to shower down his blessings upon France–France, that I have never ceased to love even under my bitterest afflictions.
I thank the Emperor of Austria for the asylum which he accorded in his dominions to me and my family. I am grateful for the proofs of interest and friendship which I have received from the imperial family, especially under circumstances of deep sorrow; and not less so for the sentiments manifested by a great number of his subjects, more especially the inhabitants of Goritz …
Having always considered my nephew Henri and my niece Louisa as my children, I give them my maternal benediction. They have had the happiness of being educated in our holy religion: may they continue in fidelity to it, worthy decedents of St. Louis.
May my nephew consecrate his happy faculties to the accomplishment of the great duties imposed on him by his position! May he never wander from the paths of moderation, of justice, and of truth!
I institute my nephew Henri my universal legatee. It is my wish that my remains be deposited at Goritz, in the vault of the Franciscans, between those of my husband and his father.
Let no solemn service be celebrated on my account. All that I desire are masses for the salvation of my soul.

The Real Melanie

From Saving Tara:
Melanie’s character is based on Margaret’s cousin Mattie Holliday of Jonesboro. Mattie was in love with her first cousin and although she chose not to marry him (not an accepted choice for a catholic), they corresponded until his death and her witness precipitated his conversion to her beloved catholic faith prior to the end of his shortened life. Many know the story of the star crossed cousins Mattie and John Henry and how Mattie Holliday became a Nun and took the name, “sister Mellie” and John Henry left Georgia because of his poor health and found fame as John Henry (Doc) Holliday of Tombstone, Arizona. But the story has more, “meat on the bone” than that……

After Mattie became a Sister of Mercy she continued to correspond with John Henry Holliday and according to the Obituaries in both Glenwood Springs, Colorado and Tombstone (yes I have copies of both),….when Doc died in Colorado his personal items were sent back to Tombstone due to a trunk there that was filled with letters between he and his cousin, “a Sister Mary Melanie”. When Sister Mellie died in Atlanta as a retired Nun all of those letters were destroyed…but years ago I met a close family member who remembered her and told me stories of visits with the good sister (known among family to be, “the kindest woman they ever knew”…a statement close to that of Rhett Butler). On one visit Margaret (Mitchell) was there and asked, Sister Mellie, “can I use you in my book”, and her response was, “if you use me make me somebody nice”. (Read more.)

"Moral Panic"

A discussion on teenage crime from Reid's Reader:
The use of the term “conversation”. Whenever I hear this term used in the context of a social debate, I know something dodgy is being sold. As when the propagandist for euthanasia lies through his/her teeth and says “We’re not promoting euthanasia – we’re just starting a conversation.” That sort of thing. The opinionated columnist who said that we needed a “conversation” with teenagers about sex was promoting the erroneous ideas (i) that public debate would miraculously clear the air; and (ii) that a one-off course of intensive propaganda aimed at teenagers (which, stripped of euphemisms, was what she was really talking about) would change teenagers’ sexual behaviour. Both these assumptions are wrong. Neither debate nor propagandising will change unacceptable teenage behaviour. (Read more.)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

The name "Ernestine" was later given to one of Marie-Antoinette's adopted daughters. It is interesting that the Queen favored the novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and not because it was seen as a naughty book. It had a strong underlying moral and, like the plays of Beaumarchais, it exposed the vices of the nobility, which Marie-Antoinette had tried to reform at the Royal Court. From Madame Gilflurt:
Today it's back to France to meet an army officer who is better known for a certain scandalous novel than his military exploits. A man of contrast, artillery know-how and huge literary ambition, it is a pleasure to meet Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, author of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

Although Laclos was to attain notoriety for his writing, when he was a young man in Amiens there was no doubt as to the direction his career would take and he was dispatched to the École Royale d'Artillerie de La Fère, where he trained for a life in the service of his country, devloping a particular expertise for artillery. At the age of 22 he took part in the Seven Years' War and then rose through the ranks to the office of Captain, becoming a noted authority on ballistics and though his professional ambition was more than fired, his true dreams lay elsewhere. Frustrated with the regimented military life and bored with his fellow soldiers, he amused himself by writing poetry that enjoyed some small success. Buoyed by this, Laclos' career seemed to be taking off when he wrote the libretto to the opera Ernestine. The work was chosen for a royal premiere in the presence of Marie Antoinette, which could surely only mark the start of a glittering career.

Opening in 1777, the opera was a commercial and critical flop and Laclos went back to what he knew. He established a military school in Valence, where a certain young man by the name of Napoleon would one day study. Whilst his career went from strength to strength Laclos continued to write, eventually beginning work on what would become his most famous novel. With his military career getting in the way of his creative urges, Laclos took a six month leave from the army and retired to Paris, dedicating himself to the business of writing. (Read more.)

Ruined Lives

The tragedy of Marxist Feminism. From Front Page Mag:
By the time Women's Studies professors finish with your daughter, she will be a shell of the innocent girl you knew, who's soon convinced that although she should be flopping down with every boy she fancies, she should not, by any means, get pregnant.  And so, as a practitioner of promiscuity, she becomes a wizard of prevention techniques, especially abortion.

The goal of Women's Liberation is to wear each female down to losing all empathy for boys, men or babies. The tenderest aspects of her soul are roughened into a rock pile of cynicism, where she will think nothing of murdering her baby in the warm protective nest of her little-girl womb.  She will be taught that she, in order to free herself, must become an outlaw. This is only reasonable because all Western law, since Magna Carta and even before, is a concoction of the evil white man whose true purpose is to press her into slavery.

Be an outlaw! Rebel! Be defiant!  (Think Madonna, Lady Gaga, Lois Lerner, Elizabeth Warren.) “All women are prostitutes,” she will be told.  You're either really smart and use sex by being promiscuous for your own pleasures and development as a full free human being "just like men" or you can be a professional prostitute, a viable business for women, which is "empowering" or you can be duped like your mother and prostitute yourself to one man exclusively whereby you fall under the heavy thumb of "the oppressor."  All wives are just "one-man whores."

She is to be heartless in this.  No sentimental stuff about courting. No empathy for either boy or baby.  She has a life to live and no one is to get in her way.  And if the boy or man doesn't "get it" then no sex for him; "making love" becomes "having sex." "I'm not 'having sex' with any jerk who doesn't believe I can kill his son or daughter at my whim.  He has no say in it because it’s my body!” (Strange logic as who has ever heard of a body with two heads, two hearts, four arms, four feet?)

There's no end to the absurdities your young girl will be convinced to swallow.  "I plan to leap from guy to guy as much as I please and no one can stop me because I'm liberated!”  In other words, these people will turn your daughter into a slut with my sister's books as instruction manuals. ("Slut is a good word. Be proud of it!")  She'll be telling you, "I'm probably never getting married and if I do it will be after I've established my career," which nowadays often means never. "I'll keep my own name and I don't really want kids.  They're such a bother and only get in the way."  They'll tell her, “Don't let any guy degrade you by allowing him to open doors for you. To be called ‘a lady’ is an insult. Chivalry is a means of ownership.”

Thus, the females, who are fundamentally the arbiters of society go on to harden their young men with such pillow-talk in the same way they’ve been hardened because, "Wow, man, I've gotta get laid and she won't do it if I don't agree to let her kill the kid if she gets knocked-up!” Oppressed? Woman has always had power. Consider the eternal paradigm: only after Eve convinced Adam to eat the fruit did mankind fall. I.e., man does anything to make woman happy, even if it's in defiance of God. There’s power for ya! Without a decent womankind, mankind is lost. As Mae West said, "When women go wrong men go right after them!"

I’ve known women who fell for this creed in their youth who now, in their fifties and sixties, cry themselves to sleep decades of countless nights grieving for the children they'll never have and the ones they coldly murdered because they were protecting the empty loveless futures they now live with no way of going back.  “Where are my children?  Where are my grandchildren?" they cry to me. (Read more.)

Death and Coronation in Medieval England

From Marc Morris:
Before the Norman Conquest, a new king’s reign began at the moment he was acclaimed, or sworn in. In the interests of peace and security, this would happen as soon as possible after the old king’s death. Consider, for example, the accession of Edward the Confessor in 1042. His predecessor, Harthacnut, died suddenly on 8 June that year, ‘as he stood at his drink’, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. ‘Before he was buried’, the Chronicle continues, ‘the whole nation chose Edward to be king in London’. For this reason, pre-Conquest English kings could afford to delay their coronations for a long time. The Confessor was not crowned until Easter 1043, a full nine months after his accession. Being a pious man, he probably wanted to be crowned on the holiest day of the year.

The essential point is that in pre-Conquest England coronation was simply confirmation, an act designed to call down God’s blessing on the new ruler; there was no sense in which it conferred the kingship itself.

This changed completely after the Normans took over. In France, coronation was all-important, and a new king’s reign began only when the holy oil of unction was poured on his head. Whatever the English thought, it is clear that William the Conqueror considered himself to be king of England from the moment of his coronation, not before. Indeed, we're told that the English begged William to be crowned as soon as possible, so that some degree of law and order could be re-established, to stop all the Norman harrying and pillaging.

This new rule was maintained for the next two centuries. The first detailed description of an English coronation ceremony is Roger of Howden’s account of the coronation of Richard I in 1189. Howden punctiliously refers to Richard as ‘the duke’ right up to the moment he is anointed. It meant, of course, that would-be candidates for the throne tended to spur their horses hard in the direction of Westminster when they heard the news of their predecessor’s death. Henry I set the all-time record in 1100, racing there from Hampshire to be crowned just three days after the death of his brother, William Rufus. But no king in this period delayed their coronation any longer than was absolutely necessary.

What happened, then, between the death of one king and the coronation of his successor? The answer is: chaos. There was no law and there was no government, at least officially. Great men garrisoned their castles in expectation of attack from their neighbours. Old scores were settled. In the case of several medieval English kings, we read how, the instant they were dead, their servants fearfully deserted their bodies, riding off in all directions in order to safeguard their property. Order was only restored once a new ruler was in place.

The change came in 1272, with the death of Henry III. Two years earlier, his eldest son and heir apparent, the future Edward I, had set out for the Holy Land on crusade. It would obviously have been intolerable to have a situation where Henry - already elderly when Edward departed - died in his son’s absence, and England had to wait for months until his successor returned home. Elaborate security arrangements were made prior to Edward’s departure, including the transfer of many royal castles into the hands of his supporters, so his grip on England would be secure in the event of his father’s death. But it was also evidently decided to disregard previous practice when it came to the coronation, for when Henry III died on 16 November 1272, Edward’s reign began more or less immediately. The next day the new king’s peace was proclaimed in Westminster Hall, and three days later, when Henry was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey, all the magnates present swore fealty to Edward as their new king. As they explained to Edward in a letter, they did this before his father’s tomb had been sealed.

As a result of this shift, which went unremarked at the time, Edward was able to defer his coronation ceremony for a long while. It was not until 19 August 1274, almost two years later, that he eventually returned to England and was crowned. One consequence was that coronation ceremonies could be far grander and more elaborate after 1272 than before, because royal officials had months to plan and organize them, rather than weeks or days. (Read more.)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Autumn Magic

Warwick Castle

Monet: "Autumn on the Seine at Argenteuil"

Edwin Alwin Paine: "Sycamore in Autumn"

Van Gogh: "Haystacks in Provence" 

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. 


Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

From Robert Royal:

Andre Malraux, French novelist and anti-Nazi Resistance fighter, tells a story in the first pages of his Anti-Memoirs [I’m in Rome and have to summarize from memory] about putting a question one evening, after a long day of firefights, to a comrade-in-arms, who was also a priest: “You hear confessions, father, you must learn a lot about human nature.” The priest demurred. No it’s Christ, not me there, forgiving. But after a few more glasses of wine, he said: “Actually, there are two things. First, people are much more unhappy they you would think.” Malraux replied that, as a novelist, he already understood that quite well: “And the other thing, mon père?” “There are no real adults.”

A truth worth keeping in mind if you have been reading the press accounts about the Synod in the past few days, which have contained some quite interesting interviews. In particular, I was reminded of the Malraux story while looking at Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich’s personal press conference last Friday in Rome. He has since denied what some in the media claimed he said about always following conscience, or Communion for the Divorced and Remarried and for active homosexuals. Working with people directly, he argued, he’d come to see that it’s best to “accompany” them and teach them to be guided deeply by conscience. He cited a wise priest, now deceased, who declared that he hoped his ministry would be remembered for having treated people “as adults.”

Well, yes, as long as we understand what Malraux’s priest had to say about adults, and that the Church did not just recently discover human weakness and the need to address it appropriately. During Vatican II, a meme got started in the Church that humanity had now “come of age.” If there’s evidence of this new human maturity in the world, I’d be very happy – very – to see it. We hear a lot these days about people wrestling with their consciences – and as a witty friend once put it, “It’s amazing how often they win.”

(Read more.)

Young Readers in a Digital World

From Seton Magazine:
Aim to collect some unabridged classics as well as some high quality newer books. You want to make it enticing for your child. If you’re not certain where to begin, seek the advice of a friendly librarian or bookstore owner. You’ll find that most bookworms started becoming so as kids, and they really love to recommend books! Give books as gifts for special occasions. If you write a personal message in the front, they can serve as wonderful mementos about the stages in your child’s life. My kids know to expect at least one book apiece from Mom each Christmas. Put your books in public view also, either on the family bookshelf or one of your own. Make sure to let your child see you reading for enjoyment, and getting excited about books. If you have any treasured books from your own childhood, they make great heirlooms to pass down. (Read more.)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Transcript of Marie-Antoinette's Trial in English

Trial of Marie-Antoinette
People often ask me if there is an English transcript of the legal proceedings against the Queen. Well, Anna found one, HERE. Share

Flagging the Debate

They want to change the New Zealand flag. Here is a discussion from a fabulous new blog, Reid's Reader:
Facebook and other social media in New Zealand are awash with the debate about changing the flag. To my shame, I have a couple of times added my own hasty and ill-considered comments to all the other hasty and ill-considered comments with which New Zealand’s cyberspace is almost choked. The time is long overdue for a more reasoned consideration of the matter.
First, let’s set aside speculation on whether the whole thing has been cooked up opportunistically by the prime minister, in order to distract us from more weighty matters. While this may be a reasonable speculation, it’s no more than saying that politicians act to their electoral advantage, which is kind of inevitable. Complaints about the cost of the exercise have some weight, but the best counter-argument to seeking designs for a new flag is the fact that there has not yet been a referendum to discover whether there is a solid majority for change in the first place. This should have been the first step in any flag-changing process.
Having said this, though, and realising that the project is now underway willy-nilly, I express my approval for changing the flag.
I used to argue that we should change the constitution before we change the flag. My own preference is for a New Zealand republic. But as long as the Queen of England is also the Queen of New Zealand, and hence our head of state, then it seemed to me that having the Union Jack on the flag actually meant something. It points to a continuing constitutional reality. My argument was that the Union Jack should be removed only when it no longer had any relationship with New Zealand’s political identity. But it was pointed out to me, correctly, that Canada changed its old flag with great success fifty years ago, and yet it still has the Queen as its head of state. So, much as I dislike our current constitutional arrangement, I accept that the flag can be changed for reasons of national identity, regardless of our ongoing subservient constitutional status.
Besides, there is the glaringly obvious fact that most of the world cannot tell the difference between the New Zealand flag and the Australian flag, even though New Zealand declined to become part of the Australian federation over a century ago. (Read more.)

"In the Desert"

From Aleteia:
Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, born in 1960, philosopher of education, playwright, novelist, prolific director, is a well-known cultural figure in Europea transalpine mover of the culture. In the October 6 edition of Avvenire he agreed to discuss the story of his conversion, which occurred one night in 1989 in the Hoggar desert, the Sahara.

Traveling with friends, Schmitt had lost his party and ended up spending the night alone in the desert, where, he says, he experienced an all-consuming encounter with God. “To say a person is convertedto say [he] has made choice that is active and voluntaryI must admit this is not exactly what I experienced that night in the desert. Rather, I received a grace and an extraordinary gift, and I have retained within me and all about me an open space for that gift. So if you call me converted, you may define it as one that has ‘received a revelation.’

“‘Received a revelation’ is the expression that best characterizes this experience, over the word ‘conversion,'” says Schmitt, “because it admits to the surprise of the gift I received. I was not looking for God, but I knew that God was looking for me. So I had the gift of surprise, of the unexpected, and this revelation for me was just the beginning. ”

Returning to France, the playwright has spent his time reading various mystic poets of different religions. “After that revelation,” he says, “I made ​​a journey to the discovery of the Gospel. And there’s been a very active work on my part, just to understand this text full of contradictions, within which I experienced a conversion. So in summary: in the desert, a revelation; with the Gospel, a conversion. ” (Read more.)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Profile of Marie-Antoinette, 1774

Marie-Antoinette, age 18. Via Louis XX. Share

A Good Death

From Henry the Young King:
Throughout the Middle Ages, the Church had fixed ideal rites for the death of a person. These rites began with confession and penance. Since a dying person was usually not able to do the prescribed penance, someone else was required to do it instead, unless the sick person recovered and then had to do it in person. The sick one was then washed, dressed in clean clothes and brought into church if possible. For the actual death, the person should ideally rest upon straw and ashes. Priests brought the cross, spoke the peace rite and sprinkled blessed water and blessed ashes on the dying. They then spoke a set of prayers, followed by anointment with blessed oil (Extreme Unction). Finally, everybody present recited the Credo and the Lord’s Prayer, followed by communion for the sick (the viaticum). Of course, the ideal rites were not always what really happened. During the High Middle Ages, the cleric performing the Extreme Unction usually demanded the items necessary for the rite as donation: the linen cloth used as bedding, the necessary candles, and so on. (Read more.)