Sunday, January 31, 2016

Biography of Charles I

From the BCW Project:
Charles was overshadowed by his brilliant elder brother Prince Henry, to whom he was devoted, but Henry died of typhoid when Charles was eleven years old. With Henry's death, Charles became heir to the throne of the Three Kingdoms: England, Scotland and Ireland.

The death of Prince Henry prompted a succession crisis. King James and Queen Anne were too old to have more children and the sickly Charles was not expected to survive to adulthood. A proposal was made that in the event of Charles' death, the succession would pass to James' daughter Princess Elizabeth and her husband the Elector Palatine Frederick V, which would mean the Wittelsbach dynasty acceding to the throne of the Three Kingdoms. However, by strength of will, Charles worked to overcome his physical weaknesses. He followed a self-imposed regimen of hard physical exercises that led to rapid improvements in his health and physique. Charles became a good horseman, excelling at tournament sports and hunting. He developed sophisticated tastes in the arts and earnestly applied himself to his religious devotions.

Created Prince of Wales in 1616, Charles was instructed by King James in every aspect of ruling a kingdom. With a profound belief that kings are appointed by God to rule by divine right, Charles succeeded as the second king of the Stuart dynasty in 1625. (Read more.)


From Southern Lady Magazine:
As we continue our etiquette series, we thank you for the wonderful questions you have sent our way. It is interesting to note the similarities of situations in which we find ourselves and the questions we all seem to ponder. This week, we resume our discussion on the proper uses of titles, signatures, and addresses. Gentle reminders help us all carry on our tradition of being kind and gracious ladies.

Q: Are titles for children still used today?

A: In the South, many of us continue to use this wonderful tradition. “Miss” is the title given to a girl at birth and remains with her until she is 21. At that time, she may choose to use “Ms.” instead. However, it is perfectly acceptable to use “Miss” until she is married, if she prefers to do so. “Ms.” was a somewhat controversial title associated with the Women’s Movement of the 1960s. Today, however, “Ms.” has come to be accepted as a title for an unmarried woman or a divorced woman. “Ms.” is also used in business when the marital status of a woman is unknown and a salutation for a letter is needed. If “Ms.” is not accurate or acceptable to the woman, she can sign the title she prefers when responding to the letter.

“Master” is the term used for a little boy after the age of eight. He keeps that title until he is 18 years old, at which time his title changes to “Mr.” (Read more.)

How to Bring Back Latin

From Philip Kosloski:
As a reminder, Latin is the liturgical language of the “Roman Rite” within the Catholic Church. The Church has four major groupings of Rites: the Roman, the Antiochian (Syria) and the Alexandrian (Egypt) and Byzantine. From these groups have developed 20 liturgical Rites, each with their own liturgical traditions! This means that the liturgical language for each is not necessarily the same. The Church really is quite beautiful in its diversity of rites and I encourage you all to explore them when you have the chance.

For example, the Maronite rite (within the Antiochian family) has “Aramaic” as its liturgical language. It is quite a site to be seen, as the words of institution that the priest uses are in that language, the common language that Jesus would have used on an everyday basis. So when the priest says “this is my Body” in Aramaic, you are able to get a glimpse into the Last Supper. If you are interested in learning about the liturgical language for each rite, check out this list on EWTNI won’t comment on their particular Rites as I am within the Roman Rite and am only vaguely familiar with their liturgical traditions or language.

When it comes to the Roman Rite, the Church has maintained that Latin should not be abolished. The documents of Vatican II state the following:
Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites (Sacrosanctum Concilium, §36).
So, Vatican II did not abolish Latin and instead mandated that it be preserved. But to what extent? (Read more.)
Read also: "The Case for Latin" Share

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Marie-Antoinette in a Riding Habit

A miniature of the Queen. From Vive la Reine. Share

The Peaceful Presence of White

From Victoria:
There is no place that imparts such calm sweetness as one adorned in the purity of white. Layers and ruffles of clean, crisp, sophisticated alabaster tell a story of simple beauty and grace. Flickers of candlelight dance throughout the room, carried from wall to wall in the reflection of an exquisitely framed mirror. Upon the mantel, shimmering silver vases and candleholders offer elegance of old. Even when the fireplace logs aren’t burning, the room remains warm with the glow of a winter-borne wonderland. (Read more.)

Homemade Laundry Detergent

From The Parisienne Farmgirl:
I had just experimented with a new batch of homemade laundry detergent, the day was gloomy and gray and I had nothing else to share.  Truth be told I was kind of annoyed with myself for posting something so uninspiring as laundry detergent but… the feedback?  Geesh!  Ya’ll wanted my new recipe even with it’s super-lame-January-gray photo so here goes.

I learned how to make homemade laundry detergent back in the day of trying to get debt-free.  It was a horrid time for I think we were pretty much out of work too.  It was one chapter of many during our debt-free struggle where we were trying to do it under extreme financial stress.  This was one of those things that made me feel empowered.  Sadly, a few years later I got savvy to the horrible cancer causing chemicals in one of my original ingredients; Fels Naptha.  I mean that stuff cleans like the dickens, and it’s totally “old-timey” but wow.  I now use it for extreme oil based stains only.
It was time to tweak.

Here’s what you need for my new recipe.  I doubt it’s not all that different from most of the recipes out there but I gave it a test run yesterday on a white load and was very pleased. (Read more.)

Friday, January 29, 2016

From the Atelier of Madame Lebrun

From Vive la Reine. Share

The Wood of the Cross

From Catholic Exchange:
The prevailing idea was that the Cross was formed of three or more woods; either that the various parts were made, each from one of the three in that trinity springing from one root or, an idea not consistently followed, that the three woods were amalgamated, forming one trunk, out of which the upright beam was fashioned, thus containing in one beam the qualities of the three plants. And again, this peculiar growth was produced from three seeds containing three properties, although the fruit of one and the same tree.

It is curious to see how the same traditions will last through ages, taken from or added to, until in the last edition the earliest form is unrecognizable. Even Mandeville (fourteenth century) must have had very simple faith in the tradition — by his time much confused — to speak in his travels of a tree that was then lying as a bridge over the Kedron “of which the Cross was made.”

The Venerable Bede (c. 673-735) and John Cantacuzenus (c. 1292-1383) both record the idea that the Cross was composed of four kinds of wood: cypress, cedar, pine, and box. Innocent says the upright was of one wood, the transverse beam of another, the title of a third, and that the feet were supported on a projecting step made of a fourth wood. In England a notion existed that the wood was mistletoe, then a tree, but that ever since the Crucifixion it has been but a parasite. The aspen leaf was said to tremble because the Cross was of that wood.

In some parts of England the elder tree is supposed to have been the wood of the Cross, and to the present day some rever­end peasants carefully look through their faggots before burning them for fear there should be any of this wood among them. (Read more.)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A History of Maternity Clothes

From Ephemeral Elegance:
The first official pregnancy garment was created in the 17th century. Known as the Adrienne dress, the style had loose folds of fabric where normally a fitted waist would be found. The Adrienne developed throughout the next century, and by the 18th century it often included a bib that could be folded down for breastfeeding. In the early 19th century Neoclassical era, fashion was once again in a style that easily accommodated a pregnant figure. By the 1820s, though, structured undergarments made their way back into style, soon becoming the cinched-waisted corsets we associate with the word today. However, maternity corsets were also created around this time. These garments were created to shape, support, and minimize the appearance of a belly. They were adjustable, and some had flaps for breastfeeding. There were countless styles created, all boasting some new-found advantage. - See more at:
The first official pregnancy garment was created in the 17th century. Known as the Adrienne dress, the style had loose folds of fabric where normally a fitted waist would be found. The Adrienne developed throughout the next century, and by the 18th century it often included a bib that could be folded down for breastfeeding. In the early 19th century Neoclassical era, fashion was once again in a style that easily accommodated a pregnant figure. By the 1820s, though, structured undergarments made their way back into style, soon becoming the cinched-waisted corsets we associate with the word today. However, maternity corsets were also created around this time. These garments were created to shape, support, and minimize the appearance of a belly. They were adjustable, and some had flaps for breastfeeding. There were countless styles created, all boasting some new-found advantage.
The first official pregnancy garment was created in the 17th century. Known as the Adrienne dress, the style had loose folds of fabric where normally a fitted waist would be found. The Adrienne developed throughout the next century, and by the 18th century it often included a bib that could be folded down for breastfeeding. In the early 19th century Neoclassical era, fashion was once again in a style that easily accommodated a pregnant figure. By the 1820s, though, structured undergarments made their way back into style, soon becoming the cinched-waisted corsets we associate with the word today. However, maternity corsets were also created around this time. These garments were created to shape, support, and minimize the appearance of a belly. They were adjustable, and some had flaps for breastfeeding. There were countless styles created, all boasting some new-found advantage. - See more at:
(Read more.)

Veteran Suicides

From Warrior Lodge:
First, this number is based on a Veteran Affairs report from 2012 using the agencies’ own data and numbers reported from only 21 states from 1999 through 2011. Those states represent only 40% of the U.S. Population.  The other states, including states with massive veteran communities, like California and Texas, don’t make their data available, and don’t report suicides to the VA. As you can deduce, we should be using the number “22” as a starting point or bare minimum. Second, the entire generation of veterans that have been implicated in “22”, that is, the Post-9/11 or Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, are NOT the group that is committing suicide. In reality, only about 1 veteran from that group takes their own life daily, (which is still 1 too many). But if the media and charitable organizations are going to focus on this number, they need to make sure that they are targeting the right generation. According to the report, the majority of veteran suicides are committed by Vietnam-Era veterans, yet the media is quiet on this point, much to their disgrace. (Read more.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Louis XVI with St. Louis IX

From Vive la Reine:
But there was a sense of the sacred as well as showmanship in the revolutionaries’ putting to death of the king. They staged the death of the monarchy, not of a man. Just as in days gone by when they used to richly attire sacrificial victims being led to the altar, they showed consideration to the man who embodied the repudiated regime, so as to immolate him with solemnity on the baptismal font of the Republic. By doing so they forgot that such consecration worked both ways. Everything was in place to transform the victim into a martyr. –Simone Bertière, The Indomitable Marie Antoinette

Charles I and the Scottish Kirk

From author Anna Belfrage:
In England, Henry VIII proclaimed himself the Head of the Anglican Church in 1534, disbanded the clerical orders and severed his ties with Rome. But the rituals remained virtually unchanged, the Anglican Church building on the medieval (and therefore catholic) rites that were already well-established within the kingdom. After all, Henry VIII did not break with the pope due to an urgent desire to reform, but rather for the far more crass reason of wanting to exchange his wife.

In Scotland, the Reformation was led by John Knox, a disciple of Calvin himself, but was ultimately a bid for Scottish independence from the French interests as represented by Marie de Guise, mother of Mary Queen of Scots. The hundred or so Scottish nobles who were involved in this matter probably found it convenient to set a religious label on their actions – it had a better ring to it than to admit they were only doing this to protect their own interests. However, in difference to England, the Reformed Scottish Kirk very quickly divested itself of “popish” ritual and practise, emphasising instead the importance of the Word (scripture) and faith.

By the seventeenth century, the Scottish Kirk was a robust and thriving organisation in which the local parishes played a strong role while the overall leadership lay with the General Assembly.  It was also an organisation dominated by leaders who shuddered at the thought of having their cleansed and purified Kirk besmirched by the papist trappings that still lingered in the Anglican Church. So when Charles I decided to harmonize the religious practices in his three kingdoms by advocating a Book of Common Prayer he was throwing in a lit fuse in a munitions store, and eventually the whole thing exploded in his face. (Read more.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Art of N.C. Wyeth

From Under the Gables:
N. C. Wyeth believed an artist has to pour his entire self into a subject to paint it. Only one year before he completed Jim Hawkins Leaving Home, he had started his own home after marrying Miss  Caroline Bockius of Wilmington, Delaware. In 1908 he bought land in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with the proceeds from his Treasure Island illustrations and built his brick house for his young family. He wrote his mother in 1911, "How I look forward to our life in this snug little house.... Home spirit is the most religious thing I possess." And in another letter, as in 1905, he writes of how a box in which his mother had mailed a cake to him had made him homesick, as "it reeked of odors that told inexhaustible stories." (Read more.)

Waugh's War Trilogy

From Reid's Reader:
Given this, then, I was reluctant to read Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy. Indeed, its three volumes have sat unread on my shelves for many years and I roused myself to read them for the first time in the summer holidays just past. Sword of Honour first appeared as the three separate novels Men at Arms (1952), Officers and Gentlemen (1955) and Unconditional Surrender (1961). The gap between the appearance of the second and third volumes is explained by the fact that Waugh had had a nervous breakdown at that time (partly exacerbated by his heavy drinking), about which he wrote in his novel The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957). Only after all three novels had been published separately did they acquire the title Sword of Honour and get published together – and before that happened, Waugh made some excisions and emendations to the text. But I have read the three books in first editions, as they were originally presented to the public, and it is upon them that my comments are based. To dispose of the basic stuff first – the three novels recount, in the third-person, the experiences of Guy Crouchback in the British Army in the Second World War. (Read more.)

The Senseless Tragedy of Abortion

From The National Review:
We expected that abortion would be rare. What we didn’t realize was that, once abortion becomes available, it becomes the most attractive option for everyone around the pregnant woman. If she has an abortion, it’s like the pregnancy never existed. No one is inconvenienced. It doesn’t cause trouble for the father of the baby, or her boss, or the person in charge of her college scholarship. It won’t embarrass her mom and dad.
Abortion is like a funnel; it promises to solve all the problems at once. So there is significant pressure on a woman to choose abortion, rather than adoption or parenting. A woman who had had an abortion told me, “Everyone around me was saying they would ‘be there for me’ if I had the abortion, but no one said they’d ‘be there for me’ if I had the baby.” For everyone around the pregnant woman, abortion looks like the sensible choice. A woman who determines instead to continue an unplanned pregnancy looks like she’s being foolishly stubborn. It’s like she’s taken up some unreasonable hobby. People think: If she would only go off and do this one thing, everything would be fine. But that’s an illusion. Abortion can’t really turn back the clock. It can’t push the rewind button on life and make it so that she was never pregnant. It can make it easy for everyone around the woman to forget the pregnancy, but the woman herself may struggle. When she first sees the positive pregnancy test she may feel, in a panicky way, that she has to get rid of it as fast as possible. But life stretches on after abortion, for months and years — for many long nights — and all her life long she may ponder the irreversible choice she made. (Read more.)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Nicolas Lancret, Master of Fêtes Galantes

From Catherine Curzon:
Lancret was born in Paris as the son of a coachman; he showed a talent for art in his youth and initially trained as an engraver before being apprenticed to Pierre d'Ulin, who began the young man's formal training. Despite d'Ulin's efforts, Lancret's admiration for Jean-Antoine Watteau led him to leave his position in 1712 and join the studio of Claude Gillot, who had trained Watteau, eventually beginning a friendship with his idol.

He remained with Gillot for a year, enjoying increasing plaudits and success but his friendship with Watteau took a blow when Lancret exhibited two works that were so similar in style to Watteau's that some attributed them to him. The older painter was aggrieved that Lancret had apparently copied his style though this personal upset certainly did no damage to Lancret's career, the new toast of Paris in more demand than ever. (Read more.)

The Trump Phenomenon

From The Week:
Chinese competition really did hammer the Rust Belt and parts of the great Appalachian ghetto. It made the life prospects for men — in marriage and in their careers — much dimmer than those of their fathers. Libertarian economists, standing giddily behind Republican politicians, celebrate this as creative destruction even as the collateral damage claims millions of formerly-secure livelihoods, and — almost as crucially — overall trust and respect in the nation's governing class. Immigration really does change the calculus for native-born workers too. As David Frum points out last year:
[T]he Center for Immigration Studies released its latest jobs study. CIS, a research organization that tends to favor tight immigration policies, found that even now, almost seven years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, 1.5 million fewer native-born Americans are working than in November 2007, the peak of the prior economic cycle. Balancing the 1.5 million fewer native-born Americans at work, there are two million more immigrants — legal and illegal — working in the United States today than in November 2007. All the net new jobs created since November 2007 have gone to immigrants. Meanwhile, millions of native-born Americans, especially men, have abandoned the job market altogether. [The Atlantic]
The political left treats this as a made-up problem, a scapegoating by Applebee's-eating, megachurch rubes who think they are losing their "jerbs." Remember, Republicans and Democrats have still been getting elected all this time. But the response of the predominantly-white class that Francis was writing about has mostly been one of personal despair. And thus we see them dying in middle age of drug overdose, alcoholism, or obesity at rates that now outpace those of even poorer blacks and Hispanics. Their rate of suicide is sky high too. Living in Washington D.C., however, with an endless two decade real-estate boom, and a free-lunch economy paid for by special interests, most of the people in the conservative movement hardly know that some Americans think America needs to be made great again. In speeches, Trump mostly implies that the ruling class conducts trade deals or the business of government stupidly and weakly, not villainously or out of personal pecuniary motives. But the message of his campaign is that America's interests have been betrayed by fools. (Read more.)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Young Marie Leszczynska

The Polish beauty who won the heart of Louis XV. Share

Through a Glass Darkly

From PJB:
The lights are burning late in Davos tonight. At the World Economic Forum, keynoter Joe Biden warned global elites that the unraveling of the middle class in America and Europe has provided “fertile terrain for reactionary politicians, demagogues peddling xenophobia, anti-immigration, nationalist, isolationist views.” Evidence of a nationalist backlash, said Biden, may be seen in the third parties arising across Europe, and in the U.S. primaries. But set aside Joe’s slurs — demagogues, xenophobia. Who really belongs in the dock here? Who caused this crisis of political legitimacy now gripping the nations of the West? Was it Donald Trump, who gives voice to the anger of those who believe themselves to have been betrayed? Or the elites who betrayed them? Can that crowd at Davos not understand that it is despised because it is seen as having subordinated the interests of the nations and people in whose name it presumes to speak, to advance an agenda that serves, first and foremost, its own naked self-interest? The political and economic elites of Davos have grow rich, fat and powerful by setting aside patriotism and sacrificing their countries on the altars of globalization and a New World Order. (Read more.)

A Diet for Alzheimer's

From The National Center for Biotechnology Information:
 The ketogenic diet has been in clinical use for over 80 years, primarily for the symptomatic treatment of epilepsy. A recent clinical study has raised the possibility that exposure to the ketogenic diet may confer long-lasting therapeutic benefits for patients with epilepsy. Moreover, there is evidence from uncontrolled clinical trials and studies in animal models that the ketogenic diet can provide symptomatic and disease-modifying activity in a broad range of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and may also be protective in traumatic brain injury and stroke. These observations are supported by studies in animal models and isolated cells that show that ketone bodies, especially β-hydroxybutyrate, confer neuroprotection against diverse types of cellular injury. This review summarizes the experimental, epidemiological and clinical evidence indicating that the ketogenic diet could have beneficial effects in a broad range of brain disorders characterized by the death of neurons. (Read more.)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Breakfast with Holly Golightly

From Southern Lady Magazine:
Audrey Hepburn and Tiffany & Co. were symbols of style long before Truman Capote’s novella was turned into the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but it was the film that brought the icons together and also inspired this setting. Start the day with style. Crisp linens and fresh flowers set the stage for an elegant and enjoyable meal, while easy recipes presented with gourmet flair make the menu approachable and impressive. In a sea of white, silver sparkles like diamonds in the form of beaded chargers, rimmed china, and napkin embellishments. (Read more.)

Making a Book Trailer

I am blogging this for my own needs but others might find it useful as well. To quote:
Before you start to make your book trailer, here are some points to help guide you:

1. Prepare an outline of what you want to tell the viewer in the video. This could even be a detailed storyboard depicting the "action" frame by frame, or you can make your video on the fly.

2. Don't tell the entire story of your book in the video.

3. End with a sense of mystery, with the viewer asking, "What will happen next?" This is true for any genre of book, not only mysteries and suspense stories.

4. Prepare your pictures in advance, so that you're ready to upload them when creating the video. My advice is to only use pictures for which you have full legal rights, either your own photos, or those you have purchased through stock photo agencies. Stay legal!

5. Don't transition too quickly between images/texts. The video should flow at a pace that is easy to view.

6. Don't use too many texts. After all, this is a video, not a book.

7. Use voiceovers if you want, but have them ready when you start making the video.

8. Keep it short! No one wants to watch a five-minute book trailer. (I suggest no more than 2 minutes).

9. Don't forget to clearly list the name of the book, the name of the author, and where it can be purchased.

10. Include an image of the book cover. Oops! I forgot to do this. If I had to redo the trailer, I would have ended with the cover. (Read more.)


From Geri Walton:
Although one of the first references to bluestockings appeared in 1638, the term bluestocking did not became common until the 1700s. The term was applied to literary ladies and conferred on a society of literary persons of both sexes. Literary societies in England had been influenced by French salons, where conversation was famous. Moreover, these societies were equivalent to the French bas bleu from the 1500s that applied to French literary women.

One of the most active promoters of England’s bluestocking society was Benjamin Stillingfleet. He was a distinguished botanist, translator, and writer. He was also a tutor, and he and William Windham—Stillingfleet’s relative and pupil—set off on the Grand Tour in 1737. In 1740, while they were in Geneva, they formed a community said to be “dedicated to the pursuit of literary discussion and play-reading.” This was partly why some people have claimed that Stillingfleet was the first bluestocking. (Read more.)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Louis XVI on the Scaffold

From Tiny-Librarian.
‘I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I Pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France.’

From Vive la Reine. Share

Camelot in Australia

From The American Conservative:
Could there be a sociological lesson here? Whilst by 1965 the very worst of Australia’s Catholic-Protestant aversion had eased, it remained active, and nowhere in Australia did it remain more alive than in Melbourne itself. We are not, admittedly, talking about Belfast-style levels of mayhem, nor about Klansmen burning down convents. But much later than 1965, whole strata of Australian society considered mutual stone-throwing by Catholic and Protestant schoolchildren to be an entirely natural, indeed legitimate, mode of political discourse. Federal and state civil service departments continued to be organized strictly on Catholic-versus-Protestant (the latter often de facto Masonic) lines. (Read more.)

England and the Aquitaine

From English Historical Fiction Writers:
The importance of the Aquitaine to Eleanor (as her name suggests) can hardly be underestimated or overstated. Eleanor was Aquitaine. She was the unquestioned heiress to the wealthy Duchy, and as such she brought the Aquitaine with her into the two marriages she contracted. This is an important point: the Aquitaine was not her dowry. Ownership of the Aquitaine did not transfer to her husband at her marriage; it remained her property or “honor” and could only be transmitted in her lifetime with her consent—or by force of arms.
To be sure, the Aquitaine was also a large territory filled with unruly barons and lords wealthy enough to build castles and maintain mercenaries.  Even exceptionally powerful men (e.g. Henry II, Richard the Lionheart) found it difficult to control the Aquitaine. Frequent uprisings by the independently-minded lords meant that the rulers of the Aquitaine were almost perpetually engaged in subduing one rebellious vassal or another, usually by force of arms. (Read more.)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Greatness of Louis XVI

The Mad Monarchist memorializes the murdered King of France. People forget that Louis had many great accomplishments as a political leader and was widely admired by the other sovereigns of Europe while still in his 20's. Napoleon used the army and navy which had been equipped and built up by Louis XVI to conquer most of Europe. Louis' victory over England threatened to upset the hegemony of the British Empire, especially since the French were beginning to make a headway in the Far East. Perhaps this is one of the reasons so many pornographic pamphlets were sent into France by the British government to destroy the French monarchy. To quote:
King Louis XVI was a man of devout faith. He never took a mistress, never shirked his religious duties, genuinely preferred work to frivolous parties and truly saw his kingship as a sacred duty rather than an opportunity to have the best for himself. All of that is well established and should be well known. However, even those who praise King Louis XVI for his pious spirit often portray him as rather lacking in the more secular qualities most often required of kingship. At times he is contrasted with King Louis XIV who, while certainly far from being a pious man, was a more decisive leader who steered the ship of state with a firm hand, bringing glory to France and around whom almost all the affairs of Europe revolved. The exact opposite of Louis XVI we are to believe. Yet, while it is true that the two men were very different, it is certainly not true that King Louis XVI occupied himself only with other-worldly matters.

It is tragic any time a nation sets to destroying itself rather than accomplishing the great deeds possible if they worked together to channel all of that energy into the pursuit of some more lofty ambition. Although he had trepidations about some of it, there is ample reason to believe that had it not been for the outbreak of the Revolution, King Louis XVI might have gone down in history as one of the greatest Kings of France in secular as well as spiritual terms. In all the focus on the Revolution and his personal character, the great events and foreign policies of his reign are often overlooked. In the first place, he was no despot and from the very start favored giving the people a greater say in how their money was spent and how France was governed. However, even with all of the problems facing France, as a monarch, Louis XVI took a broader look at the past, present and future of France and wanted to see past losses made right and gains made for a greater future for his country. Of course, particularly after the drubbing France had taken in the recent conflicts with Great Britain, it was the British who would be the primary rival in his foreign policy. The King was not malicious or reckless by any means but he was determined to see British gains made at the expense of France reversed.

This was what ultimately led to the French intervention in the American Revolution (or more properly ‘War for Independence’). Louis XVI had deep reservations about helping any rebels in waging war against their sovereign yet he was persuaded to make an alliance with the fledgling United States by a combination of the urging of his advisers and his desire to see an end to the British domination of North America and, perhaps, a much greater French influence in the region. Although not often remembered, following the French and Indian War the French military had been reformed and greatly improved. The expeditionary force sent to North America fought extremely well and, along with the French navy, proved decisive in securing the independence of the United States by forcing Great Britain to give up on the war and come to terms with their former fellow subjects. The islands of Tobago and Grenada were taken from the British (Tobago being retained by France along with Senegal in the final settlement) but, to some extent, Louis XVI was undercut by his American allies who made a separate peace with Great Britain and effectively thwarted the greatest ambition King Louis had for the conflict which was the recovery of Canada. Had the war gone on there is every reason to believe that could have happened.

In the other great arena of colonial competition, Louis XVI also hoped to reverse previous losses and see the growing British dominance in India come to an end. He allied with the Maratha Empire and took the side of the Sultan of Mysore in the Second Anglo-Mysore War in the hope of breaking the dominance of the British East India Company, curtailing British influence in India and increasing French influence. France actually had a much larger sphere of influence in India, controlling large parts of the east coast and holding sway over the majority of the southern subcontinent. French troops and ships were active in the region but due to the distance involved the campaign was overtaken by events elsewhere and when the end of the American Revolution forced France to make a hasty peace with Britain the previous French support for the Indians was withdrawn. In the end Britain and the Indian forces made peace that restored the pre-war status quo in India. Again, had not the situation in American brought hostilities to an end, it is conceivable that France, working through local alliances, might have dethroned Britain from her place of prominence in India.

There was also the Far East to consider and, though not often remembered, it was under King Louis XVI that France first took a serious interest in Vietnam and, indirectly, helped bring about the victory of the last great imperial dynasty of Vietnamese history. Crown Prince Canh, heir of the future Emperor Gia Long, came to Versailles as a boy, converting to Christianity and symbolizing the alliance by which French support was promised to his father in exchange for favorable trade agreements and some minor territorial concessions. The previous regime in Vietnam had viciously persecuted Christians and King Louis was anxious to see a more humane dynasty put in place. A Catholic missionary had saved the life of Gia Long and he vowed that the rights of Christians would always be respected in his domain. However, by the time these great events were to take place in southeast Asia the forces of the Revolution were gaining strength and events rapidly approached a climax. King Louis was not able to play the decisive role he had wished to. Still, the Bishop of Adran acted on his own to help Emperor Gia Long take the throne and so things worked out. The only problems arose in the future when post-revolutionary French regimes tried to collect the payments promised to Louis XVI which the Vietnamese were reluctant to grant since it was the Bishop rather than the government in Paris which had actually helped them at the critical time.

King Louis also sponsored around-the-world voyages of exploration and the world (certainly North America) owes a great deal to Louis XIV for doing the same in his time. The point of all of this is that King Louis XVI was not, as he is so often portrayed, some sort of totally indecisive ditherer who fussed and prayed over one crisis after another. He had big plans for France, he had ambition, he wanted to see France recover her place of greatness in the world and had a few things gone differently there is no reason to believe that she could not have done so. (Read entire post.)

The Skelligs and Star Wars

From the National Catholic Register:
There are two St. Finnians, both remembered as holy abbots, the first ordaining St. Columba as a deacon and the other (the great Irish monastic St. Finnian of Clonard) ordaining him as a priest and serving as his teacher. The latter was involved in one of the stranger incidents in the life of Columba. During a visit to Finnian, Columba copied his mentor's psalter, and Finnian insisted the copy was his possession and demanded it back. Columba's cousin, the Irish Over-King Diarmid, sided with Finnian. Outraged by this, and possibly angered by a violation of sanctuary by the king, Columba stirred the people against Diarmid, leading to a battle with significant loss of life and the flight of the king. The Synod of Teilte, in progress at the time, excommunicated Columba, but restored him when he presented himself at the Synod and agreed to convert as many pagans as he could. And there you have Irish monasticism in a nutshell: mad, volatile, and feverishly passionate about the faith. Is it any wonder they retreated to impossible locations?

For several centuries the retreat drew a steady stream of hermits seeking a deeper encounter with Christ away from the distractions and vanities of the world. These were the hardcore spiritual athletes: ascetics on the order of the great desert fathers trapped on a wind-scoured rock inaccessible to land for months at a time.

Using a dry-stone walling technique that has withstood the elements for 1400 years, they built two oratories and six beehive cells, each cell with an ambry (niche) for storing their meagre possessions and supplies. Small stone fingers on the roof probably held turf or some other kind of insulating roofing material. A pair of wells, eggs from the large seabird population, pollock, and possibly goats and goat milk provided their sustenance. There's just enough soil to support a small flock of livestock. They probably brought the soil with them. (Read more.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

At Home with Blue and White

From Victoria:
Characterized by whispery hues of pristine white and misty gray, the Swedish Gustavian decorating style is perfectly represented in this Dutch designer’s own enchanting home and the bed-and-breakfast, Gustav Guest House, she operates one floor above it....A poster from a Parisian museum is positioned atop a Swedish desk—one of Myriam Gräeve-Rutte’s favorite pieces. Many of her treasured items were found in markets throughout England and France. (Read more.)


Silence at Mass

From The Liturgy Guy:
Our Sunday liturgy should indeed create an environment for “learning”. The motion, noise and atmosphere of the profane must give way to the silence and mystery of the sacred. At times in the past my family and I have experienced a liturgy that fully embraced the concept of the Holy Mass as celebration. By this I mean that the typical commotion we might usually associate with a party environment has been transferred to the sacred space of the Mass. In these instances the imposition of the temporal and visible are so aggressively incorporated within the liturgy that the sacred and invisible becomes nearly impossible to “see”. What you then have, as noted by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in his memoirs, is a community which is celebrating only itself. Unfortunately, I have seen this much more prevalent among communities that exclusively offer the Ordinary Form of the Mass. From my experience, the Extraordinary Form better establishes and sustains a prayerful environment through such means as the use of Latin, Ad Orientem worship, the use of Chant and frequent kneeling on the part of the faithful. (Read more.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The King is Sentenced

Louis XVI is sentenced to death. Share

Sword Names

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
Throughout history, heroic figures have wielded swords to stave off hordes of enemies, whether man or beast. The style and shape of the weapon varied, depending on the time period and level of craftsmanship at the time. The blade could have been single or double-edged, one or two-handed, exquisite or ordinary.

Many pieces survive to this day, adorning a wall in a writing corner or preserved in a museum. Some are buried inches below the surface, begging to see the light of day and share its tales of glory or infamy. Others have decayed to the point of resembling only a shadow of what they once were.

The Vikings were feared for their ferocity and skill in battle. Their longships with their dragons heads had the ability to sail up shallow rivers, thus terrorizing England and making Saxon mothers wonder whether their men and stockade fences could withstand a sustained assault. Perhaps the attackers had the name ULFBERHT inscribed on the blade, which would have placed no small amount of fear in the defenders.

This type of blade was an early form of a brand name; it was a high-end brand of swords whose maker was ULFBERHT. It is believed that these high quality, super strong weapons were forged in a German monastery between 800 and 1000 AD. The name does not refer to one single person, but rather those who had the skill to forge under this name. The steel was of a high purity that it was not believed to have been available until the Industrial Revolution, which explains why 170 of these pieces bearing this inscription have been found. (Read more.)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Young Louis XVI with the Goddess of Wisdom

Louis XVI is shown at the beginning of his reign being guided by Minerva. Share

Those Ridiculous Stories

Anna Gibson brilliantly continues to take on the new claims of Evelyn Farr about Marie-Antoinette and Fersen. The words exchanged have to be seen in the context of the situation in which the Queen found herself. To quote:
Claims #3-4: '‘I love you madly" is something you don't say to a good friend and implies a physical relationship

The letter of January 4th, 1792 includes this phrase, which was later covered with ink: "I am going to close, but not without telling you, my dear and very tender friend, that I love you madly and never, ever could I exist moment without adoring you." (Or in French: Je vais finire, non pas sans vous dire mon bien cher et tendre ami que je vous aime a la folie et que jamais jamais je ne peu être un moment sans vous adorer.)

The phrase was covered with ink sometime after it was written. There is still debate about who, exactly, redacted these phrases; there is currently still work being done by researchers at the French archives regarding the blotted out phrases in Marie Antoinette's letters, and I do hope that they will be able to date the 'redacted' ink which may help in coming closer to discovering who actually covered them. Given the difference in copper concentration between the ink used to write the letters and the ink used to cover it, it is unlikely that Marie Antoinette herself covered the phrase.

To continue: Telegraph quotes Farr as saying: "‘I love you madly’ is a very strong phrase – you don’t say that to a good friend. It’s really telling; it implies a physical relationship. They were lovers."

There are actually two claims being made here: one, that "I love you madly" would not have been used for a good friend but only to a lover; two, that it implies a physical relationship existed between those two people.

In French, what Marie Antoinette wrote to Fersen was that she loved him 'à la folie.' This exact phrase (loving someone à la folie) was used by the queen several years earlier, when talking about her love for her son Louis-Charles, in a letter to the duchesse de 'Polignac dated December 1789: "The Chou d'amour is charming, and I love him madly." Madame Elisabeth, her sister-in-law, used that same phrase in letters describing the sister of Mirabeau's love for her brother: "I pity his unfortunate sister, who is very pious and loved him madly."

From these examples, we see that loving someone "madly" was not a phrasing which existed solely for lovers in the 18th century. And if "I love you madly" must imply physical relationship, then from these two examples--well, you get the idea.

Critically, the claim that "I love you madly" is for lovers only and that it implies a physical relationship does not hold up when you compare it to other contemporary letters from that time period. The claim also wavers when you take into consideration Marie Antoinette's personal style of writing.  "I love you madly" does not differ very much from phrases Marie Antoinette regularly wrote to people she genuinely adored.

The intensity with which Marie Antoinette wrote to people she considered her cherished companions cannot be overstated.  Her letters to these few--people she knew from childhood, people she brought into her intimate 'Trianon' circle, and those who remained loyal to her during the Revolution--are contain such gushing phrases as "I kiss you tenderly," "It would be a great pleasure for me to kiss you," "My feelings for you are tender and grow every day," "my tender heart," "my dear heart," "I kiss you with all my heart," "I embrace you with all my soul," "I will never cease to love you," "I kiss you hard," and other flourishes that would easily be considered romantic today. Marie Antoinette wrote to Yolande de Polignac saying that "nothing but death could make me stop loving you."

Could lovers have used the phrase? Of course. But in the context of Marie Antoinette and Fersen, it's not some outlier phrasing that is totally incongruous with Marie Antoinette's normal style. It shows that she considered him an intimate, loved companion who wasn't just loyal to her but was, by all her accounts, fighting for her life and the life of her family. If there was any point where Marie Antoinette was going to use her trademark tender, romantic phrases, the years where Fersen was an almost sole outside devotee when she was living in a country that was increasingly hostile to her is definitely that point.

And remember: "I love you madly" was not hidden by the queen. It was written plainly in her letter to Fersen, as were her romantic phrases in letters to her other cherished loved ones.

If this was a phrase reserved for lovers, it is extremely unlikely that Marie Antoinette would ever risk everything (her security, the future of her children, the stability of the monarchy, her reputation to the European powers, to name a few things) by so casually revealing something that was considered treasonous. So what does the phrase mean? The answer is genuinely simple: Marie Antoinette wrote passionately, romantically, gushingly to people she considered intimate friends. Before and after the revolution. And she knew how to use that flattering language to keep people on her side, when she needed to do so, and she definitely needed to bring Fersen back around after his recent criticisms and fears, which I will get more into below.

The role that Fersen played in the last years of Marie Antoinette's life was an intense one, that in all likelihood bonded them emotionally in a way that is difficult to imagine today. He was, in the queen's estimation, working to save their lives. He was one of the few people who was willing to take an active role in saving the royal family and the crown, beyond vague promises by foreign rulers or the dangerous behavior of the emigrated Artois and Provence elsewhere in Europe or the royal family's distrust of moderates who claimed to be working in their favor. Is it any wonder that Marie Antoinette wrote to him as she did other intimates like Polignac, so favored that she had to flee France? In my estimation, no.

As with the use of gossip as evidence, using this phrase and similar phrases as evidence that the two were physical lovers does not stand up to an extrapolating critical view. Marie Antoinette wrote this way--many women of that time period wrote this way.

If "I love you madly" proves that Marie Antoinette and Axel Fersen were physical lovers, then it stands to reason that "Nothing but death can make me stop loving you" should be used as proof that Marie Antoinette and Yolande de Polignac were also physical lovers. Yet once again, I doubt historians would claim that because the Queen wrote romantically to Polignac, they were lovers, physical or otherwise, due to the context of Marie Antoinette's personality and the general romantic writing style of her contemporaries.

The context of January 4th, 1792 

The context of the letter of January 1792 is important.

This was, politically speaking, a very tense time for Europe, France, and of course Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. For the last several months, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI had been embarking on course of action that none of their allies--Fersen included--had really approved. That course of action was to play both sides: ally themselves with Barnave and other constitutionals, all the while keeping up their correspondence with Fersen, Craufurd, Breteuil, and various European monarchs. In September of 1791, Louis XVI had also accepted the Constitution and the royal couple decided to outwardly support the Constitution, not just to appease the rumblings in the government but to, as Louis XVI put it, show the people that the Constitution could not work by following it to the letter.

Abroad, this had the effect of sending the emigres, the king's brothers and European monarchs into a war-minded frenzy. The king's brothers were stirring the pot by spear-heading the raising of emigre-based armies with the intention of sending those armies into France to take back control over the country.

On December 14th, 1791, Louis XVI--without consulting or notifying Fersen and the others in contact with the queen--addressed the Assembly and declared that any European powers which did not disband emigre-based troops by January 15th, 1792 would be considered enemies of France. Furthermore, he declared that the wrote to Leopold II and informed him that he was fully prepared to declare war on Austria if those troops were not disbanded.

Eight days later, Fersen wrote Marie Antoinette a lengthy letter which contained what the queen later referred to as 'scoldings.' In this letter, Fersen admonished the queen for not being openly affectionate towards people he was trying to get on their side. M. de Toulangeon was "hurt by the coldness with which his good intentions were received," which Fersen followed up with: "Do you not think that, without too highly distinguishing them, it would be well to show persons of good-feeling and good-will certain marks of kindness?" He wrote in a similar way regarding the queen's unease about attempting to win over the Duke of Brunswick: "[He] is a man of intelligence, talents, and a great ambition. Do you not think it is important to win him?"

Yet the 'scoldings' in this letter did not stop there. Fersen then wrote that he was astounded and grieved by the king's unsupported decision, and that he now saw only "embarrassment for you, additional dangers, and the bad effect that this will have in Europe." Fersen went on to suggest that Marie Antoinette should not have acted without consulting Fersen and Breteuil, and that by doing so she invited disastrous consequences.

He also questioned the queen's confidence in him, particularly in light of his own gushing devotion: "I have the vanity to think that my past conduct ought to take you from the possibility of doubting mine; it ought, rather, to convince you of their purity, and of the zeal, attachment, and devotion I have consecrated to your service. My sole desire is to serve you; my sweetest recompense, the only one to which I aspire, is the glory of succeeding in that--I want no other. I should be but too much rewarded if I could know you were happy and think that I had been happy enough to have contributed to it." 

Is it any wonder that Marie Antoinette, who had excelled at charming people from an early age, knew how to reassure Fersen--who, by the tone of this letter and those leading up to it, was becoming increasingly critical of her and wary of her decisions? Fersen himself said it best: "Do you not think that it would be well to show persons of good-feeling and good-will certain marks of kindness?" Fersen wanted reassurance that the queen trusted him, that she accepted his devotion, and that she considered his confidence worthy of respect. And she did just that, as she had throughout the last year to this years-long friend who she saw as fighting for the salvation of her family and, from her view, for her country. (Read more.)

Secrets of the Battle of Towton

From English Historical Fiction Writers:
We know, for example, that some of the earliest handguns found in England were fired during this battle. The gun fragments found had a barrel diameter of around 2cm and gunpowder tracings were found inside, a lead bullet with an iron core was also discovered. Although the availability of a gun at a time when arrows and hand-to-hand weaponry were the norm might sound like it would confer easy victory on the holders, the opposite was unfortunately more likely - early guns had the nasty habit of blowing up on firing so were of little real use. (Read more.)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Last Months of Louis XVI

From Madame Gilflurt:
On the last evening of his life Louis said his farewells to his family; more than anything he wished to spare his children the agony of knowing they would never see their father again and told them that he would visit them again in the morning, a meeting that was destined never to happen. At dawn on the day of his execution he celebrated mass and then, all hope of mercy gone, prepared to journey by carriage to the scaffold where a crowd of thousands waited.

When Louis left his bed at five o'clock on the morning of his execution, he was greeted by a cold, wet and miserable day in Paris. He spent the early hours in contemplation and prayer until he was taken from the tower at around eight o'clock, to find a guard of over one thousand horseguards who had been appointed to escort the prisoner on the long journey from the prison to the place of execution in the Place de Louis XV. At Louis' request it was agreed that he would be accompanied by Father Henry Essex Edgeworth, an Irish priest who had made his home in France and served as confessor to Madame Elizabeth.

During the carriage ride Louis remained utterly composed, praying with Father Edgeworth and apparently unaware of the vast crowds of citizens who lined the route, any sound they might make drowned by by innumerable drummers who walked ahead of the procession. (Read more.)
Louis' death is also described in the novel Trianon. Share

Lost Traditions

From She Is More:
In all areas of life, I believe being a lady displays self-respect, class, appreciation and etiquette. It also allows you to enjoy the niceties of life with the ease of knowing how to act in all situations. You don’t have to come from wealth or be wealthy in order to conduct yourself like royalty.
After doing some new research and also recalling my southern roots which included cotillion and etiquette classes, here are 21 lost lady like traditions that still apply today:

1. If a man knows that it is etiquette to remain standing until you are seated, be sure to sit promptly as to not leave him standing too long.
2. No rude or shocking language, especially at the table. Your language is a representation of your mind and heart.
3. Don’t talk with your mouth full. I don’t need to explain this one.
4. She dresses tastefully: A lady dresses appropriately for the occasion.
5. Phone calls: When in doubt, a good rule of thumb is not to make phone calls before 9 am or after 9 pm.
6. She is gracious: She never just says, “hello” when being introduced to someone. She offers a kind greeting like, “it’s a pleasure to meet you” or “how are you this evening?” (Read more.)

Acquiring a Taste for Life

From The Conversation:
As Americans, we are taught to deny pleasure and venerate self-sacrifice and hard work. And when we finally take time off to have fun, we often do things in excess. We party hard. We eat and drink too much. And then we feel guilty. When we enjoy food too much, we say we’ve been “bad.” Maybe if we didn’t deprive ourselves of simple pleasures all day every day, we wouldn’t feel so compelled to overdo it on weekends.

A comparative study found that when American parents talked to their children at the dinner table, they talked about what children should eat in nutritional and moral terms. When the Italians talked at the table, they talked about what their children wanted to eat, and encouraged them to develop their individual tastes.

One of the most surprising things that French mothers shared with me in my research was their belief that stimulating children’s appetites for a wide variety of life’s pleasures can actually deter them from becoming addicted to drugs! (Read more.)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

This is Ridiculous

Anna begins her refutation of the ridiculous assertions that Count von Fersen fathered Marie-Antoinette's two youngest children. The person most linked to her in the rumor mill was her brother-in-law the Comte d'Artois, not Count von Fersen. According to gossip, all of Marie-Antoinette's children were illegitimate, not just two. People thought she was having affairs with several men, just because she was pretty and vivacious. But real historians try to get to the facts. And even if Marie-Antoinette did secretly love Fersen in the depths of her heart, that does not mean there was a "torrid affair." She did not go to him when she could have, but stayed with Louis and her children. To quote:
Let's be clear: someone repeating gossip is not compelling evidence of anyone other than Louis XVI being the father of Louis-Charles. There is no other way to say this. There is a reason that historians are taught to develop a critical eye not only when gathering evidence, but interpreting it as well. You can find published works claiming Marie Antoinette poisoned her son Louis-Joseph--but when you use critical interpretation, you realize that you can't use those published works as evidence for a claim that Marie Antoinette deliberately made her son ill.

Farr is further quoted in The Daily Mail as saying "It [the claim about parentage] is not something you would write lightly," which reads as an attempt to strengthen the letter as key evidence in her claim.

Yet gossip about royalty, even scandalous gossip such a claim of illegitimate parentage, has never been off-limits, even when writing to someone in a position of political power. The letters written by comte de Mercy-Argenteau to Empress Maria Theresa are scattered with political and court gossip; after the birth of her first son Louis-Joseph, a Spanish diplomat passed along the rumors that the new dauphin was fathered by someone other than the king and copied down some malicious couplets (containing the quip 'Who the devil produced him?') which had made the rounds in Paris.

Craufurd, along with his lover Eleanore Sullivan, worked with Fersen on the plan to spirit the royal family out of Paris. There are many reasons why Craufurd might have chosen to include this bit of gossip in his letter, which would require more context to fully explore. Was Craufurd attempting to get British support for another escape attempt, with Fersen once again involved? His description of Fersen is not just glowingly positive, but asserts that Fersen has intimate ties with the royal family--not only does he have the complete trust of the queen as her favorite, he may be the dauphin's father. What better recommendation of Fersen's willingness to do anything it takes than that! But again, that is just one speculation without context. Another part of critical interpretation is asking yourself why the person wrote what they did and even how they did.

Yet even without context, it can't overstated: repeating rumors is not compelling evidence of anything, other than proving people in the 18th century gossiped as readily as we do today. (Read more.)
 It should also be remembered that Monsieur Crauford's mistress Eleonore Sullivan was having an affair with Fersen, and to deflect the gossip Crauford wanted to link Fersen romantically with the Queen, so as not to be seen as a cuckold. The Comte de Saint-Priest did the same thing when Fersen slept with his wife. Yes, Fersen was quite the ladies' man. That is what makes it so sad. If Marie-Antoinette did love Fersen in the secret depths of her heart then she did so while trying to be faithful to her husband, even if it meant her death. If the Queen did write the words "je vous aime à la folie", which they are now claiming she wrote under the scribbled out portions in one of the few extant letters in her own hand, then perhaps she did not know that Fersen had many lovers and was at the time carrying on with Eleonore. Let us hope that if she did love him, that she never knew. Share

Teenagers and the Internet

From Kayla Nicole's Blog:
Teenagers typically do not yet understand the importance of internet safety. Along with the age-old feeling of invulnerability that adolescence has always carried, now there is an unprecedented and intimate access to a world wide community of strangers. So instead of driving too fast or sneaking out at night, your kids might be posting naked pictures on a website you’ve never heard of to people they’ve never met.

 I know, I know. Your child would never do that! Let me tell you something: You. Don’t. Know. That. You know those tiny feelings you get every day but you cope nicely because you’re an adult? Feelings like insecurity, boredom, even the loneliness of being at home when your friends are all going out – well these feelings are massive to teenagers. A combination of hormones and inexperience create a veritable powder keg of unpredictable behavior. Insecurity might lead to seeking acceptance from strangers by posting a selfie and waiting for people to reblog, like, or comment on it. Boredom might lead to extended conversations online with someone they’ve never met about deeply personal matters. Loneliness can lead to online sex. No, really. It can. (Read more.)

When God Says No

From Chasing Genuine:
For anyone who has read or heard of our story, you know of our bold prayers to the Lord asking for healing and health over Alisa. We had an idea from sonograms of potential health problems she might have once born, including a hole in her heart and possible digestive issues. Since she hadn't received a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome, but only screened positive, we also begged God that she might be born not just healthy, but without Down Syndrome at all. We loved Alisa no matter what, but as her parents, we longed for her to born with little or no health challenges as her young life began.

And so, that morning I wrestled with the question that tumbled endlessly in my spirit as I considered our many prayers over Alisa's life: What if God says no? (Read more.)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Increase in Ordinations

Holy Mother Church always rises from the ashes. From The Catholic World Report:
Although last year’s Pew Research Center's study “America's Changing Religious Landscape” was used by some pundits as evidence for a steady decline in Catholicism, the evidence points to differing trends. As I noted last May, “the Northeast losses for the Catholic Church are attenuated by gains in the southern part of the country where Catholics have increased from 25% of those living in the South in 2007 to 27% of the population today, and in the West where the percentage of Catholics has increased from 23% in 2007 to 26% in 2014.”

Even more significantly, in 2015 there was a 25% increase in ordinations to the priesthood as 595 men were ordained last year, up from 477 the previous year. According to Mary Gautier and Thomas Gaunt, authors of The Class of 2015: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood, commissioned by the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the average age of those ordained in 2015 to the priesthood is 34—continuing a pattern of younger men entering the priesthood earlier than in previous decades.

More than half (60%) of those ordained in 2015 have completed college before entering the seminar, and one in seven (15%) entered the seminary with a graduate degree. One in three entered the seminary while in college. Most respondents to the USCCB survey reported that there were about 17 years old when they first considered a vocation to the priesthood and were encouraged to consider their vocation by an average of four people. Seven in 10 of them said they were encouraged by a parish priest, while 46% were encouraged by friends, 45% were encouraged by parishioners, and 40% were encouraged by their mothers. (Read more.)

History and Healing

Remembering the Stuarts. To quote:
On 8 January, with the gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen, I laid a wreath at the tomb in the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica of James Francis Edward Stuart, 250 years after his burial there. The message on the wreath was very simple: “In memoriam – James Francis Edward Stuart – ‘The Chevalier’ – 1688-1766”.

Why, you may ask? What has that to do with the British Embassy to the Holy See?
James Francis Edward Stuart had other names. ‘The Chevalier’ to his friends and admirers, he was “The Old Pretender” to his enemies (to distinguish him from his eldest son, ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie, ‘The Young Pretender’), and to his supporters – and, when it suited him, King Louis XIV of France – King James III of England and Ireland, VIII of Scotland. He was the son of James II, deposed in the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 after a crisis precipitated by his son’s birth, and lived and died in exile. 
After his death in Rome on New Year’s Day 1766, Pope Clement XIII accorded him the honour of a magnificent State Funeral the following 8 January. In his lifetime, successive Popes always recognised him as King. However, significantly, Clement XIII did not extend that recognition to his sons, in tacit and later explicit recognition of the Hanoverian succession.

So our simple wreath-laying ceremony was, in a way, one of historical reconciliation. The Chevalier always considered himself a patriot, and his court in exile welcomed Britons of all political and religious stripes. His younger son, Henry Benedict, Cardinal York, received a pension from the British Crown after his lands had been seized by Napoleon, and the Prince Regent offered to contribute to the magnificent Stuart monument by Canova that can still be seen in St Peter’s. The tomb in the crypt where I laid the wreath was restored by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, through the good offices of my predecessor, Sir D’Arcy Osborne, in the early 1940’s. And in 2012 HRH The Duke of Gloucester unveiled a restored Coat of Arms of Cardinal York in the Pontifical Scots College, where the original Stuart gravestones had been transferred. (Read more.)
Via Nobility. Share

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Marie-Josèphe de Saxe

Marie-Josèphe de Saxe, Dauphine of France, with her eldest son the Duc de Burgogne, who died at age nine.
Marie-Josèphe de Saxe, Dauphine of France, wife of Louis the Dauphin, was the mother of Louis XVI. It is said that her little grandson, the tragic Louis XVII, resembled her a great deal, as can be seen in the portrait below. It gives further lie to the ridiculous rumor that Count Axel von Fersen fathered Louis-Charles (Louis XVII).
Daughter of the Elector of Saxony, Marie-Josèphe was destined to become the mother of three Kings of France. Two of her children were eventually to die on the guillotine while another became a Venerable of the Church. In the meantime, she lost many babies and children to early deaths, including the beloved Duc de Burgogne, whose death from tuberculosis was to haunt Louis XVI, as well as possibly infecting him with the same disease.

At a time when the French court was ruled by Madame de Pompadour and influenced by the philosophes, there came into the midst of such a loose and free-thinking environment a devout Catholic princess. Marie-Josèphe faced enormous challenges. In addition to a husband who was still in love with his first wife, Maria-Theresa of Spain who had recently died, the new Dauphine had to contend with the anti-religious element at Versailles, which prevailed in spite of the pious queen and princesses.

Little by little Marie-Josèphe won the love and respect of her husband as they worked together to educate their surviving children, especially in solid religious formation, while striving to maintain the Catholic faith at the court in spite of the blatant immorality of Louis XV. With her restrained yet kindly and dignified manner, the Dauphine became greatly loved; it is said she even got on well with Madame de Pompadour.

Marie-Josèphe cared for her husband in his fatal illness and followed him to the grave two years later in 1767. It was a great tragedy for her five remaining children, for whom the strong influence of such a mother was irreplaceable. Although Marie-Josèphe was against the Austrian alliance, her death before the arrival of Marie-Antoinette of Austria in France was unfortunate, since she of all people would have been most fitted to give loving guidance to her vivacious daughter-in-law, adrift in a foreign court. Share