Saturday, November 30, 2019

A Preview

Janeites are all aflutter over the forthcoming release of the new Focus Features movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel Emma, starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the misapplying matchmaker Miss Emma Woodhouse and Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley, her older, and wiser neighbor. This new feature film was shot entirely in England in period-accurate settings and costumes this past summer. It will premiere in the UK on February 14th and in the US on February 21st, 2020. 
Emma, Jane Austen’s most highly acclaimed novel has been adapted for radio, stage, television, and feature films many times, most recently for television in 2009 starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller, and for the screen in 1996 starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam in the starring roles. While Austen’s most famous and most widely adapted novel Pride and Prejudice wins the popularity race with fans, critics and connoisseurs consider Emma her masterpiece. Some early readers complained it was about nothing. Over the centuries those opinions have changed. I find it subtle, sly and hysterical. Contemporary writer-director Amy Heckerling agreed and based her 1995 teen movie Clueless on it to much acclaim. 
Directed by Autumn de Wilde, with a screenplay by Eleanor Catton based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel, we can see from the first trailer released today, that Emma 2020 will supply a visual and comedic treat. The advance publicity of this new film asks us to “Behold a new vision of Jane Austen’s beloved comedy about love and all of its surprises.” I am all anticipation. Here is a description from the production company publicity machine and the first trailer for your enjoyment. (Read more.)

China and American Technology

From Breitbart:
The November 18 report is titled, “Threats to the U.S. Research Enterprise: China’s Talent Recruitment Plans." The report, which was released November 19 as media attention was focused on the House’s effort to impeach the President:
Launched in 2008, [China’s] Thousand Talents Plan incentivizes individuals engaged in research and development in the United States to transmit the knowledge and research they gain here to China in exchange for [Chinese provided] salaries, research funding, lab space, and other incentives.
The report whines that the Chinese government is being “unfair” because it is stealing technology to achieve its goal of political, military, and cultural dominance over the United States:
China unfairly uses the American research and expertise it obtains for its own economic and military gain. In recent years, federal agencies have discovered talent recruitment plan members who downloaded sensitive electronic research files before leaving to return to China, submitted false information when applying for grant funds, and willfully failed to disclose receiving money from the Chinese government on U.S. grant applications. This report exposes how American taxpayer funded research has contributed to China’s global rise over the last 20 years. During that time, China openly recruited U.S.-based researchers, scientists, and experts in the public and private sector to provide China with knowledge and intellectual capital in exchange for monetary gain and other benefits. At the same time, the federal government’s grant-making agencies did little to prevent this from happening, nor did the FBI and other federal agencies develop a coordinated response to mitigate the threat.
But science-industry advocates pushed back against the report, arguing that the problem is just a few bad apples in the barrel, not a large-scale, organized, intelligent, government seeking global advantage over the United States. (Read more.)

Pagan Rituals of Water Worship in Peru

Fascinating. But not something I ever want to see in the Vatican gardens...or in my parish church. From The Daily Mail:
A 3,000-year-old megalithic 'water cult' temple used for fertility rituals has been discovered in Peru by a team of Peruvian archaeologists. The religious monument is over 131ft long and is located in the springs of the Zaña Valley river about 500miles from Lima, the modern capital of Peru. Inside the temple archaeologists found a square with an alter that was likely used to offer important fertility rituals with water taken from the Zaña Valley river. The megalith structure was found at the Huaca El Toro site in the Lambayeque region of Peru by a team led by Walter Alva, the archaeologist who discovered the tomb of the Lord of Sipan in 1987. The temple still features the remains of large stone blocks and a long staircase. 'This discovery is unique because it is the only megalithic architecture in Lambayeque,' said Dr Alva. The site was discovered in October but the news of its finding was delayed to reduce the risk of treasure hunters taking artefacts that hadn't been secured. (Read more.)

Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Friday 2019

We are having a big Thanksgiving sale of all our skin care products which  make great gifts for mothers and grandmothers. Everything is 50% off!  The sale lasts from now to November 30, 2019.  The 50% off coupon code is:  THANKSGIVING2019  or click HERE. Please do visit the shop to learn more.

Please also visit the Trianon Boutique which features bargains in housewares, furniture, home decor, linens, curtains, etc.

 I wish everyone a safe and blessed Thanksgiving weekend. And with Advent coming, let us remember that books make wonderful gifts!

Announcing a Thanksgiving Giveaway of  Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars: Her Life, Her Times, Her Legacy

The Kindle version is Free this weekend,  from Friday November 29 through Sunday December 1, 2019. 

Here is a quote from a letter I received from a reader in Belgium: "I immediately began to read, and I really love your style. I love the way you tell us stories about Marie Antoinette and how you put yourself in these stories. This way of writing deeply touch me because it is very personal and it's like...comfortably sitting by the fire and listening." 

"Daughter of the Caesars succeeds in dispelling many of the most persistent myths and misconceptions about Marie Antoinette. It is an engaging, conversational read that clears away the pervasive pop culture image of Marie Antoinette and instead places the maligned queen back into the context of her life as an 18th century consort. A must-read for anyone with an interest in Marie Antoinette or her times."--Anna Gibson of Vive la Reine

"Are you looking for an interesting biography of Marie-Antoinette? This one is just perfect. Based on extensive documentation and providing relevant analysis, this book puts the Queen of France back in her family and political context."-- Autour de Marie-Antoinette

"Elena Maria Vidal is a fantastic writer and researcher. She paints a realistic portrait of Marie-Antoinette with facts to back all of it up. It's very exciting. This book is spiritual, adventurous, and sweet." --Sarah Patten at Her Storyline

"Marie Antoinette is one of history's most controversial queens. In this Catholic biography of Marie Antoinette, Mrs. Vidal states that by killing both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the revolutionaries were killing the Catholic kingdom that they represented. This is because the goal of the French Revolution was to get rid of the Catholic church. The reason for this is because many Catholics were killed, especially those who were unwilling to convert. She also argues the popular misconceptions of Marie Antoinette that have been passed down for centuries and have been reinforced in Hollywood primarily the Marie Antoinette film starring Kirsten Dunst." --History from a Woman's Perspective
 Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars is available internationally from

 The Paradise Tree: A Novel
 “With this marvelous immigrant saga, Elena Maria Vidal reminds us why our forebears left the Old World for the New: for Faith, family, and freedom! Through three generations of an Irish clan in Canada, she invites us into their home for struggle and triumph, celebrations of joy and sorrow, music, feasting, and dancing. The Paradise Tree makes ‘the past and present mingle and become one’ for the reader’s great delight.” ~Stephanie A. Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation

“Elena Maria Vidal’s latest book, The Paradise Tree, is the fictionalized true story of the author’s devoutly Catholic ancestors who immigrated to Canada from Ireland. It is filled with rich detailed history recounting the hardships and joys of the 19th century O’Connor Family. Beautifully written with great attention to historical, geographical and religious accuracy, this fascinating and moving family saga is a treasure that I highly recommend!” ~Ellen Gable Hrkach, award-winning author of In Name Only and four other novels

"An Irish immigrant builds a new life in Canada, the decades marked by marriage, children and the odd otherworldly encounter....An imaginative, meticulously told history that will especially appeal to those with Irish roots." ~ from Kirkus Reviews

"This is a stunningly lovely book, the perfect thing to get lost in for an afternoon." ~from the San Francisco Book Review (starred review)

"...Historical fiction at its best" ~D.Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

The Paradise Tree does what good novels should. It tells us a story, it shows us what it means to be human—replete with the triumphs, sadness, and conflicts entailed in being human—while whisking us away to another world that is not our own. For 232 pages we are extracted from our lives and into the lives of the O’Connor family. We root for them. We feel their hardships. We feel their connection and disconnection as a family while we are shown a distant time and place, filled with potentially unfamiliar folkways. In the end we are pleasantly reminded that the O’Connors’ story is just as much ours as we traverse the familiar territory of faith, family, and love, and how we still find ourselves dancing in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.~ The Portland Book Review

"Vidal does an excellent job of demonstrating the lifeline that the Catholic faith becomes for the O'Connor family and how it binds them together in the toughest of circumstances." ~Savvy Verse and Wit

"Weaving fact with fiction...realistic and stirring. An emotional tale of hardship, struggle to survive...with vivid descriptions of life in that place and time period. This book will appeal to those that like a good historical fiction story with depth and new beginnings." ~Just One More Chapter

"Vidal was able to write about devout Catholicism in a way that Protestants and other non-Catholics could follow." ~West Metro Mommy Reads

"The Paradise Tree by Elena Maria Vidal is a sweeping tale of an Irish-Canadian family that I happily dare to mention in the same breath as Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind" ~ from Back Porchervations

"As we journey through the years of the O'Connor family the author brings alive the joys, triumphs, struggles, and sorrows in such a vivid way that often you feel as though you are experiencing them yourself." ~Peeking Between the Pages

"Despite the sadness of many of the scenes, there is great charm in the lively portrayal of a family filled with love of learning and poetry. The hope of eternal life sustains Daniel, his wife and children through many tragedies.  Joy continually mingles with sorrow." ~Cross of Laeken

"The Paradise Tree is one of those books that made me feel happy and secure while reading even though some really terrible things happened to the family. I always had the sense that they would persevere and thrive. The Paradise Tree is a sweeping family saga that I will be suggesting to my friends and family. It was such an enjoyable book."~A Book Geek

"The people in the story felt so real to me and almost like they could have also been my ancestors."~Book Drunkard

"I loved the historical perspective that Elena Maria Vidal presented in The Paradise Tree: A Novel. It was interesting and informative to learn about the Irish. Vidal's writing was engaging and the story was filled with heart, soul, family loyalty, history, and unexpected twists and turns. I enjoyed this beautiful story and recommend it." ~Book Nerd

"Whoever you are, wherever your people came from, and whatever you enjoy doing with your free time, I don’t hesitate for a moment to recommend purchasing Elena Maria Vidal’s latest historical fiction novel The Paradise Tree." ~Lear, Kent, Fool

"A good historical fiction novel takes you back in time and presents the good, the bad and the ugly in a manner that informs and clarifies. A great historical fiction novel goes beyond that to lift up your soul as the heroes and heroines overcome obstacles both man made and natural. The result is the reader is left open jawed amazed and transformed. This book is a great historical fiction novel. I wept with them, I laughed at them but most importantly, I felt privileged to be invited to gaze inside their paradise tree." ~Stephen's review of The Paradise Tree on Goodreads

 Purchase The Paradise Tree HERE.  

Trianon: A Novel of Royal France


"What distinguishes this short and readable book from others is Vidal's examining their lives in light of their Catholic faith in a country that, until the Revolution, was the 'eldest daughter of the Church.'" ~Mike May, Pittsburgh Magazine

 "Exhaustively researched and yet completely accessible for those who wish to understand the events from a very personal perspective." ~Genevieve Kineke, Canticle Magazine

"Through the tragedy and the violence, the genocide and the thousand petty cruelties, Trianon remains, resolutely, a novel of hope." --Gareth Russell, author of Popular and The Emperors

"It's very refreshing to see fiction that strays away from the popular view of Marie Antoinette. Vidal has done extensive research on the royal family and it truly shows." ~Anna Gibson at Reading Treasure

"For me, reading Trianon was like the Heavens opening up and hearing the angels sing.  It's the 'be all and end all' of all things Antoinette." ~Book Drunkard

"A master of storytelling, the author makes you laugh and cry, right along with the characters. A true masterpiece, I rank this book along with the great Classics." ~Wilsonville Public Library Blog

"Be prepared to learn history as it should have been told. You will experience their life, their love, their faith, for you have never known them as you will after reading this book...Be prepared to be moved beyond belief." ~Enchanted by Josephine 

"Elegantly written, it is, quite simply, a heart-wrenching account of the trials and martyrdom of the king and queen of France, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette." ~Christine Niles, radio host of Forward Boldly


Purchase Trianon HERE.

Madame Royale: A Novel



"An unforgettable portrait of a royal life... Madame Royale is a fantastic tribute to one of Europe's most tragic, but courageous princesses." ~Gareth Russell, author of Popular and The Emperors

"The...backdrop of this heartrending story is that none of us can choose the circumstances into which we are born, and yet those...circumstances are the very proving ground of virtue, our own gymnasium of charity." ~Genevieve Kineke, Canticle Magazine

"Vidal gives us a gripping portrait of a woman whose personal destiny is enmeshed with the convulsions of the French Revolution and European history." ~Catherine Delors, author of For the King and Mistress of the Revolution

"In Trianon, faith gives the King and Queen the courage to face death; in Madame Royale, faith gives their daughter the courage to face life. Marie-Thérèse's story is truly one of bloodless martyrdom." ~Cross of Laeken


Purchase Madame Royale HERE.

The Night's Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars

"From the first page, Vidal draws the reader into a vibrant world of action and emotion. Raphaelle de Miramande is an engaging young heroine, bravely facing physical and moral dangers and dilemmas in search of truth and love. Vidal's novel captures the spirit of the Middle Ages." ~Stephanie A. Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival

"A harrowing and engrossing journey." ~Catherine Delors, author of Mistress of the Revolution and For the King

"The novel illustrates how easily and insidiously the abhorrent becomes desirable, the selfish honorable when individuals seek nothing beyond the fulfillment of their own desires, a message perhaps even more relevant today than it was centuries ago." ~Julianne Douglas, Writing the Renaissance 

"Elena Maria Vidal has been gifted with an eye for historical detail, an energetic imagination, an elegant writing style, and a keen and informed faith, all of which blend attractively together in this her latest work." ~Christine Niles, radio host of Forward Boldly

"In the first chapter the setting, plot, and all the main characters are all well-established....The novel moves on, mixing history and drama, at a good pace. Raphaelle is caught up in several major dilemmas; we can truly sympathize with what she is going through." ~Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller, blogger

Image source
 Purchase The Night's Dark Shade HERE. Share

On the Trail of Queen Nefertiti

Dr Hawass is on the trail of Queen Nefertiti, the step-mother of famous pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings – the same location Howard Carter found KV62 in 1922. Nefertiti, who was married to the Boy King’s father – Akhenaten – died in 1331BC, but her tomb has never been discovered. However, Dr Hawass told exclusively that things are starting to heat up, as he probes an area near Amenhotep III’s tomb, WV22 that he believes was used to bury ancient royals.

He said “I’m working in the Valley of the Kings, where I’m hoping to discover the tomb of Nefertiti and many more in the East Valley in the coming weeks.

“Also [I should find] all the Queens of the 18th Dynasty, sons and daughters of the Kings. They are all buried in this valley and I am still searching.” (Read more.)

America’s Deteriorating Social Standards

From Conservative Choice Campaign:
When we look objectively at America’s deteriorating social standards, the collapse of our once renowned Liberal Colleges into socialist indoctrination centers, the ridiculing of our Judeo-Christian theories and philosophies, then the implementation of that Marxist theory by the Democrat Party cannot be denied and certainly not that far away. Trump’s election stopped it for now.  

To manipulate the emotions of the people and deny them their choices of free will based on religion, common sense, or even the Constitution, as we see happening on our streets, in our businesses and schools, proves it beyond doubt. Schiff’s phony Impeachment hearings proves that the Democrat (Socialist) Party is up to their neck in political machinations to make America Socialist. Of course, a Socialist America plays into the hands of the New World Order crowd who don’t care what a government calls itself so long as the financial mechanisms of their government flow through the hands of the worlds international bankers, the real “elites.” 

We instinctively know that what we are seeing isn’t right. The commotion over Schiff’s inquisition is barely nonexistent except in Adam Schiff’s tiny little brain and CNN. He has put on full display the weakness of his party’s socialist ‘due process’ theories already discredited by years of its application in Russia, China, North Korea, Cambodia, Cuba and Venezuela. (Read more.)

The Lost Village of Cuddington

From Surrey Live:
Henry VIII is best remembered for his six wives, and more brutally for beheading two of them, in his desire to produce a son to become his heir to the throne. Indeed, the infamous Tudor monarch burned a reputation into the pages of history for wielding his power in order to get what he wanted. Most notably when, with the help of his adviser, Thomas Cromwell, he got parliament to pass a law to make him head of the Church of England in order to annul his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Never one to be afraid to throw his weight around, the red-headed food-loving former king of England's greedy eyes also fell on a peaceful tiny village in Surrey. (Read more.)

From My London:
Measuring just 1,859 acres, tucked between Ewell and Cheam, once stood the tiny Anglo Saxon village of Cuddington. Thought to have originated as early as the 8th Century, by 1538 it had been built up to include a church, manor house and a handful of farms. In that same year, all that had been built before would be swept away when Henry VIII bought the manor house from Richard Codington and his wife, Elizabeth. With the birth of his first son, Edward VI, having come six months before, and wanting to outshine his rival, King Francois I of France, Henry decided he wanted to build the grandest of palaces. It was Cuddington that Henry looked to as the perfect piece of land to commission the building of what would later be known as Nonsuch Palace. (Read more.)

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Facts

From Dr. Talyor Marshall:
The first American Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on September 8 (feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin) in 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. The Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered. This was 56 years before the Puritan pilgrims of Massachusetts. Don Pedro Menendez came ashore amid the sounding of trumpets, artillery salutes and the firing of cannons to claim the land for King Philip II and Spain. The ship chaplain Fr. Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales chanted the Te Deum and presented a crucifix that Menendez ceremoniously kissed. Then the 500 soldiers, 200 sailors and 100 families and artisans, along with the Timucuan Indians celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in gratitude to God. (Read more.)
Via Spirit Daily. Share

War on Narcoterrorism

I do not believe we should invade Mexico, but we certainly have the right to take effective measures to keep drugs out of our country. From Crisis:
Spreading illicit, dangerous drugs throughout the country is a threat to the most vital of a nation’s resources: its people. Illicit drugs are sickening, permanently harming, damaging the lives and families of, and even killing many Americans, as well as causing disorder and turmoil in communities.

In Catholic teaching, war can be resorted to only if it is a last resort, after all means of peaceful resolution have been attempted. Negotiation must be seriously undertaken to attempt to resolve differences. While the argument could be made that the U.S. should intensify its efforts to negotiate a joint solution to the cartel problem with the Mexicans, Mr. Obrador’s response isn’t promising. Moreover, the point could be made that an American military incursion would not be a full-fledged war but a much more limited action. It could be seen almost as a large-scale police action. Also, it would not be directed against the Mexican government but against a group of highly sophisticated bandits within that country’s borders. Right intention is also a criterion for just war. There would certainly be no question about America’s intent. We would be aiming to bring the cartels to bay, and not, say, to topple the Mexican government.

Catholic just war teaching also requires that there be a proportion between the foreseen evils of a military action and the hoped-for benefits. It does not seem disproportionate to have a limited military action when one considers the benefits that both the U.S. and Mexico would derive from eliminating the cartels. It is true that in Catholic social teaching nations have a right to non-intervention and, in general, to conduct their own affairs without interference. These rights like all rights, however, are not absolute. As the encyclical Pacem in Terris says, a state may not unjustly involve itself in another’s affairs. It is not interference per se, then, in another nation’s affairs that is morally rejected, but unjust interference. Acting to suppress the cartels operating from Mexican territory that are threatening the common good and well-being of the U.S. in many ways, when the Mexican authorities can’t or won’t suppress them, hardly seems to be unjust interference.

Some have described the cartels as narcoterrorist groups. The Church, of course, has condemned terrorism. Nations clearly have a right to protect themselves from terrorism, whether originating within or outside of their borders. As far as international law is concerned, there has been much dispute and debate about the military efforts the U.S. has undertaken in the Middle East and Central Asia to defeat terrorist networks. Michael P. Scharf, a prominent international law scholar, says that while the use of force in self-defense has traditionally not been viewed as lawful against non-state actors in a third state and that American claims in international forums to the contrary when dealing with terrorists were initially opposed, the U.N. Security Council ultimately sanctioned the use of force by outside powers against ISIS in Syria. Therefore, it might be said that international law is evolving on this and that a good case can be made that an American military intervention against the Mexican cartels would not offend it. (Read more.)

This Son of York

An interview with author Anne Easter Smith from The Writing Desk:
This Son of York is a new look at a very old king—Richard III, who lived from 1452-1485. He is best known for Shakespeare’s cruel depiction of him in the play Richard III, in which he is portrayed as a hunchbacked, murdering monster who usurped the crown and did away with his two nephews in the process. For a start, Richard was no hunchback, but had severe scoliosis. He is one of English history’s most controversial figures, and a king I have been fascinated with and studied for more than 50 years! 
The more I read about him, the more a very different man emerged and I got annoyed enough at the injustice of Shakespeare’s and other Tudor historians’ skewed retelling of Richard’s story after he was dead that I wanted to try and set the record straight. (Sorry, Tony, you are probably a Tudorite! Not I!) He was a loyal brother to Edward IV, faithful husband to Anne Neville, and loving father to his children. The laws to improve justice for all Englishmen, highborn and low, that Richard enacted in his one and only Parliament are still in use today. He was a man of his less civilized time, it’s true, but no better or worse than other men of that period. “To be born of noble blood,” it has been said, “is to court an early grave.” So it was with Richard(Read more.)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Scarlett O'Hara's Gowns

  From The Spruce Crafts:
The ultimate in the vintage clothing collecting realm lies in Hollywood costuming. This is especially true when it comes to the iconic dresses and gowns worn in Gone With the Wind, a film based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell. As the heroine of the film, Scarlet O’Hara (portrayed by Vivien Leigh) wears some of the most memorable costumes in movie history. Five of these gowns (three original and two replica) were restored and displayed as part of “The Making of the Gone With the Wind” exhibit from Sept. 9, 2014 through Jan. 4, 2015 at the Harry Ransom Center on the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas.

These dresses, designed by Walter Plunkett, are part of the David O. Selznick archive received by the Ransom Center in the 1980s. They had not been displayed together for more than 25 years prior to this exhibit, which coincided with the 75th anniversary of the release of Gone With the Wind. In 2010, the Ransom Center raised more than $30,000 from donors around the world to support conservation work required to safely display the gowns in the 2014 exhibition. As explained on the Harry Ransom Center's website, "Prior to the collection's arrival at the Ransom Center in the 1980s, the costumes had been exhibited extensively for promotional purposes in the years after the film's production, and as a result were in fragile condition." Now that the dresses have been restored properly and fitted to custom mannequins, they can be loaned to other museums and enjoyed by the public once again. (Read more.)


The Silence of the Church

From Monsignor Charles Pope:
What is scandal in its Catholic sense? When someone “gives scandal,” he acts in such a way as to lead others into sin. This is closely related to its secular meaning in that the most devastating effect of scandals over time is that we cease to be shocked or unsettled by sinful behavior. When we see others engaging in sin, especially those in authority, we begin to think that perhaps it’s not so bad after all. People were once shocked by things like divorce, cohabitation, abortion, homosexual acts and suicide. But once cultural leaders indulged in these sins, sometimes even bragging of them, many were led to minimize, accept and even celebrate such sinfulness. This is the ultimate effect of scandal: bad example leads us to justify and even celebrate sin.
Jesus has no time for those who give scandal. He simply announces woe to them:
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea (Matthew 18:6).
Yes, it is better to die than to lead the faithful into error and sin. Anyone who would consider “saving” his life in this way had better reconsider, lest he inherit the deepest fires of Hell. Eleazar rightly concludes that it is better to obey God than man, that the fear of the Lord must be greater than the fear of any man no matter how powerful, and that no punishment is worse than eternal damnation. Our relationship with mere mortals can only affect our temporary standing in this world, but our relationship with God affects our eternal destiny. It is never a good thing to compromise our faith or to give scandal — never.
Eleazar further reasons that his life is not simply about what is best for him alone in the here and now. He does not live merely for himself but for the sake of others. We must sometimes suffer so that others may live, thrive and be edified. If we refuse this suffering, we harm not only our eternal destiny but that of others. We are our brother’s keeper, and we have an obligation to live in such a way that others can be saved rather than hindered from salvation and ignorant of the truth that sets them free. Jesus, who is Truth, would not come down from the cross to save himself. He stayed on the cross to save us. Eleazar preferred death to misleading others. How about you?
In the Church today there is a form of giving scandal that has become far too common: silence in the face of sin and error. Too many clergy and parents, as well, are silent in the midst of today’s moral meltdown. Fearing for their well-being, desiring future promotions, or just wanting to avoid the unpleasantry of conflict, many refuse to teach against — or even talk about — moral error and sin.
We will all have to answer for our silence to the degree that we had an obligation to speak. Qui tacet consentire videtur (He who remains silent is seen to consent). “He who winks at a fault causes trouble” (Proverbs 10:10). In a 1933 letter to Pope Pius XI, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross wrote, “Those who remain silent are responsible.”
As Catholics, we cannot avoid responsibility for the current moral morass. Too many of us have been silent, some even collaborating with evil and error. The primarily responsibility lies with the clergy, but none of us is entirely exempt from the duty to repudiate error and speak the truth. (Read more.)

George Eliot: A Novelist for Now

From The Guardian:
Middlemarch, perhaps her masterpiece, has two central characters who make particular claims on the reader, the idealistic Dorothea Brooke and the talented doctor Tertius Lydgate. The novel’s grown-upness lies partly in the way that Eliot calmly offers the reader not fairytale endings but marriages beset by compromise and dissatisfaction, by talents left unfulfilled. This serious realism swerves earnestness through a skilled deployment of sly wit. Eliot’s first description of Dorothea – pious, verging on priggish, but brimming with an unacknowledged sexuality – is simply perfect. “Riding was an indulgence which she allowed herself in spite of conscientious qualms; she felt that she enjoyed it in a pagan sensuous way, and always looked forward to renouncing it.” 
But at heart it is a novel of community. Middlemarch itself is the true hero – the fictional small town that gives the book its title. The name suggests a place that is geographically and metaphorically central (Middle-) and also peripheral (-march, as in marches or borderlands). It is a book that absolutely belongs to the English Midlands, but its author breathed into it all the sensibilities of a life marinated in European culture (an important section is set in Rome). Eliot was a European intellectual with a working knowledge of five ancient and modern languages, who translated important works of German theology; Middlemarch was compared to Sand, Balzac and Flaubert by 19th-century critics. 
Middlemarch – which is to be dramatised over two weeks on BBC Radio 4 from Saturday – may be her most celebrated work, but Eliot’s range was impressive. Felix Holt, drawing on the turbulent politics of the 1830s, grapples with the question of whether democracy can be relied upon to deliver a deeply divided society from the ills that beset it. Her early novel The Mill on The Floss brilliantly conveys the passion and rage of a girl whose life is narrowed by her gender. The anodyne title of her first work of fiction, Scenes of Clerical Life, belies its bold contents, including a tale of domestic abuse and alcoholism. (Read more.)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Catholic Emancipation via Antonia Fraser

A book review from Stephanie Mann:
I certainly agree that Fraser writes "character-driven narrative history": her profiles of historical figures from Lord George Gordon to Cardinal Consalvi, Bishop Milner to Daniel O'Connell, Maria Fitzherbert to Father John Lingard describe their contributions to the ongoing social, political, and Royal struggle to allow Catholics to practice their faith freely. Each chapter describes the proponents and opponents of Catholic Emancipation and the slow progress of Parliamentary efforts toward it. She begins with the Gordon Riots, continues with the situation of the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Fitzherbert (the heir to the throne married to a Catholic widow through a wedding not recognized by the State), King George III's breakdown, English sympathy for Catholic refugees from the French Revolution, Daniel O'Connell's efforts, etc.

Along the way I learned that Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington's older brother, married Marianne Canton Patterson, the grand-daughter of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (her mother was Carroll's daughter Mary). I was surprised that Fraser did not highlight this revolutionary connection, since Carroll was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence and the only surviving signer at that time.

Fraser dedicates two-thirds of the book to the events and personages dealing with the cause of Catholic Emancipation in Ireland and in England. The last section details the final, reluctant assent of Sir Robert Peel, the Duke of Wellington, and King George IV to Catholic Emancipation after Daniel O'Connell had won a landslide election in County Clare. The remarkably horrid fear of Catholics--King George IV's brother, Ernest Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland (future King of Hanover) actually thought that Catholic Emancipation would mean that England would become a Catholic country with a Catholic government--when Catholics were such a minority in England (but not in Ireland!).

The irony that none of George III's sons were able to marry and successfully beget legitimate male heirs was also remarkable! George IV left Maria Fitzherbert for his consort wife Caroline of Brunswick in 1795 but separated from her in 1796; his only legitimate child, the Princess Charlotte, died in 1817. Of all his brothers, only Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, had a surviving child, the Princess Alexandrina Victoria, who would succeed her uncle William IV, the former Duke of Clarence (whose two legitimate daughters died in childbirth or infancy).

George IV's Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, used this dangerous line of succession against the monarch: an unstable Ireland--provoked by the injustice of an elected representative not being able to take his seat because he's Catholic representing a Catholic constituency in a land 85% Catholic--and an unstable succession of old men without sons to succeed them, should not be an obstacle to the will of his elected government (the future William IV was 64 in 1829; Victoria's father was 62; Ernest Augustus was 58, etc). Two of George IV's brothers, the Duke of Kent and Prince Augustus Frederick, the Duke of Sussex, were in favor of Catholic Emancipation, besides.

So finally Catholic Emancipation was achieved, except that important supporters of O'Connell in Ireland were stripped of the vote when the property value limits were increased for freeholds from forty shilling to ten pounds, reducing the number of Catholic men who could vote. O'Connell regretted that part of the deal. He also had to stand for election again because the law didn't grandfather him in: under his original election, he still had to take an oath denying the Real Presence, etc. (Read more.)

The New 'Munchhausen by Proxy' Child Abuse

From Front Page Mag:
Munchhausen by Proxy is a familiar and ugly behavior in which parents, often mothers, seek attention by attributing illnesses to their children. They successfully convince children, bystanders, sometimes even medical professionals, that their children are sick. And they do this, often, by poisoning their children or otherwise interfering with their health. The James Younger case seems to be showing some of the familiar symptoms of Munchhausen by Proxy.
A video has now come into public light where you can see the father asking James questions about whether or not he’s a girl or a boy. The child answers that he is a girl because his mother told him so.
“You’re a boy, right?” asks Younger.
“No, I’m a girl,” replies James.
“Who told you you’re a girl?” asks  Younger.
“Mommy,” said James.
The father continued to ask questions of his young son about his preferences, including how “mommy puts you in a dress and puts nail polish on you?” The son answers in the affirmative, noting that his mother buys him dresses, hairbands, and hairclips, and that he likes nail polish.
“And what does mommy tell you?” asks the father.
“She tells me I’m a girl,” replies James.
It's bad enough that lefties insist that 8-year-olds are capable of deciding to take medications that will scar their bodies and prevent them from functioning as adult men or women, but even they aren't claiming that 3-year-olds can do this. Yet. And this is a fairly clear sign that the 'gender syndrome' here is manufactured. If the Left hadn't embraced transgenderism lately, this would be treated as Munchhausen by Proxy. (Read more.)

We Must Rebuild the Cathedral

Last May, Cardinal Sarah preached in Paris. From The Catholic World Report:
I am convinced that this civilization is living through its mortal hour. As once during the decline and fall of Rome, so today the elites care for nothing but increasing the luxury of their daily lives, and the people have been anaesthetized by ever more vulgar entertainments. As a bishop, it is my duty to warn the West: behold the flames of barbarism threaten you! And who are these barbarians? The barbarians are those who hate human nature. The barbarians are those who trample the sacred under foot. The barbarians are those who despise and manipulate life and strive for “human enhancement”!
When a country is prepared to let a weak and helpless man die of hunger and thirst, it marches down the paths of barbarism! The whole world watched as France hesitated to feed Vincent Lambert, one of her weakest children. My dear friends, after this, how can your country give the world lessons in/of civilization? When a country arrogates to itself the right of life and death over the smallest and weakest, when a country kills babies in their mother’s womb, it is slouching toward barbarism!
The West is blinded by its lust for wealth! The lure of money that liberalism instills in hearts lulls the peoples to sleep! Meanwhile the silent tragedy of abortion and euthanasia continues. Meanwhile, pornography and gender ideology mutilate and destroy children and adolescents. We have become so used to barbarity, it no longer even surprises us!
Underneath the surface of its fantastic scientific and technological accomplishments and the appearance of prosperity, Western civilization is in a profound state of decadence and ruin! Like Notre-Dame cathedral, it is crumbling. It has lost its reason for being: to show forth and lead others to God. When the spire that crowns the building collapses, is it any wonder that the vaults collapse underneath it? (Read more.)

Monday, November 25, 2019

100 Years of Paris Bookshop Shakespeare and Company

 From The Guardian:
There’s the fact that the shop itself is beautiful: the dark wood, creaking like a ship, low-hanging absinthe-coloured lanterns giving off a dim, gold light. Its slight disorderliness – books stacked on the floor, wedged in too-small gaps on shelves, rested in the rungs of ladders – is undeniably attractive in a world where the majority of our novels are bought on the recommendation of an algorithm on a clean, white website. And its location is perfect too, allowing it to claim some of the long-dissipated bohemian charm left over by the artists and intellectuals of the old Rive Gauche, while being a quick walk from tourist favourites. And there is the much vaunted novelty that aspiring writers can stay in the shop for free; called “Tumbleweeds”, the travellers must help out with a few hours’ work, read a book a day and write a short autobiography. (Read more.)

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The Ugly Side Of Socialism

From Forbes:
San Francisco and NYC retail and restaurant sectors are beginning to see the ugly side of socialism: store closures and layoffs, as their owners cannot keep up with local government mandates that raise the costs of their businesses. Socialism is in fashion again in America. At the local level that is, where governments have been passing mandates that tell corporations how to run their businesses. Like the “Fair Workweek” laws. These laws require employers to prepare working schedules for their employees ahead of time. That’s on top of minimum wage mandates, which tells employers how to pay their employees. The Fair Week mandate hits restaurants and retailers particularly hard, a sector which employs a large number of hourly-paid workers. (Read more.)

What is the Vulgate?

From Aleteia:
At the time there were various versions of the Gospels and the letters of St. Paul, as well as of the Old Testament. Christians in Europe used either Greek translations or local Latin translations that were copied and shared among the various communities. However, it didn’t take long for some of the translations to become corrupt and alter the original meaning of the text. This is why Pope Damasus I commissioned St. Jerome in 382 to take a look at the Gospels and revise the Latin translations based on the oldest Greek manuscripts. He did exactly that, but after completing the Gospels, St. Jerome’s curiosity was piqued and he began a new translation of the Psalms. Then he traveled to Jerusalem and once in the Holy City he embarked on an ambitious project to translate the entire Old Testament, based on the original Hebrew texts. It took him around 16 years to complete his attempt, but he didn’t translate every book, skipping Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch and Maccabees I and II. Jerome took great lengths to translate the Hebrew text and to render it into a Latin equivalent that would make sense, yet was faithful to the original. He was one of the first “scripture scholars” to take such care in translating the Bible that his work eventually became known as the vulgata editio (the “common edition”). (Read more.)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Storefronts of Lisbon

From The New York Times:
Lisbon has long been considered one of Europe’s loveliest capitals. “By day Lisbon has a naïve theatrical quality that enchants and captivates,” Erich Maria Remarque wrote in his 1962 novel “The Night in Lisbon,” “but by night it is a fairy-tale city, descending over lighted terraces to the sea, like a woman in festive garments going down to meet her dark lover.” Among its beauties are dozens of ornate storefronts, most of which date from the rebuilding that followed the catastrophic earthquake of 1755 to the neon days of the 1930s. 
These facades have been protected since 2015, when the Lisbon City Council authorized the “Historic Shops” program in recognition of their historical, cultural and commercial importance. As a result, several of the city’s finest jewelry stores (joalharias, in Portuguese) as well as those also selling gold and silver objects (ourivesaria, or goldsmith), still look as beautiful outside as the pieces they sell inside.... 
This Spanish fine jewelry chain now has a store in the former Alianca jewelry store, which has been dazzling customers since 1914. The interior may be even more stunning than the beautiful exterior; imagine Marie Antoinette’s boudoir and you get the picture: Pudgy pastel putti look down from the ceiling on a frothy collection of sparkling glass vitrines, hung with gilded garlands and bows and displaying more glitter inside. (To combat a sugar high, head down the street to No. 38, where the scent of coffee beans at the beloved old cafe Casa Pereira will take the edge off.) (Read more.)

Soros Cash

From American Thinker:
Apparently, it's not enough that leftist hedge fund billionaire and 'stateless statesman' George Soros and his non-government organization front groups made a lunge to take over much of eastern Europe, visibly in the case of Ukraine during the Maidan revolution. Nor is the Soros seeding of first the Obama administration, and then the Trump administration, with former operatives of his from other outfits. Some, in the case of Trump, are now testifying as witnesses in the impeachment hearings. Now, the Soros cash is rising to flood levels, targeting GOP Congress members to vote in support of impeaching Trump. Here's the latest on that from the Daily Caller:
A liberal “dark money” group that received millions of dollars from George Soros’s advocacy network, records show, is behind a seven-figure ad blitz urging vulnerable Republicans in swing districts to support the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

The ads, which were scheduled to air this week on “Fox and Friends” in the Washington, D.C., market and in 13 GOP-held congressional districts, feature military veterans urging Republican representatives to “put country over politics” by holding Trump accountable for “abusing his office and risking national security for his own gain.”
(Read more.)

Countering a Modern Apostasy

From The Public Discourse:
John Henry Newman’s teachings provide a proper grounding for freedom of conscience and for the Catholic Church’s duty to defend the truth, both to its members and to society in general. In both of these ways, Newman prefigured the Church’s 1965 Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae. Together, Newman and Dignitatis can help us resist the erroneous notion of the free conscience pointed inward to self and isolated from God and nature. Instead, they teach that a truly free conscience is oriented toward God, who, more intimate to self and nature than anyone or anything, is the only guarantor of true freedom. Since Newman’s time, this error has damaged free societies and entered the Church itself. Following Newman and Dignitatis will permit us to defend true freedom of conscience, both within the Church, and for everyone, everywhere.

Newman writes that conscience is the voice of God: “[It] is a messenger from Him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by His representatives.” These are the Magisterium and the fundamental teachings of the Church on faith and morals as the path to true freedom and happiness in this life and the next. Dignitatis Humanae declares the right of every person to religious freedom, defined as an immunity from coercion in matters of conscience by any human agent, including the state and the Church. “God calls men to serve Him in spirit and in truth,” declares Dignitatis, “hence they are bound in conscience but they stand under no compulsion. God has regard for the dignity of the human person whom He Himself created and man is to be guided by his own judgment and he is to enjoy freedom” (emphasis added).

Dignitatis is here affirming the ancient teaching of the Church that a man must obey God but that he must also follow his conscience, even if it errs. Newman puts it this way: “if a man is culpable in being in error, which he might have escaped had he been more in earnest, for that error he is answerable to God, but still he must act according to that error. . . because he in full sincerity thinks the error to be truth” (emphasis added).

Note the dilemma. You and I must act in accord with our consciences. God has given us that freedom, and no one can licitly employ coercion to restrict it. But we are also bound in conscience to obey God. An erring conscience that results from our failure to ensure that it is ordered to the truth leads to moral culpability. Willful pursuit of the wrong could lead one into grave sin. A man could follow an ill-formed conscience straight into hell.

In short, our freedom does not give us a moral right to do what is wrong. To the contrary, it merely increases the importance of ordering our judgments of conscience to the truth. Dignitatis puts it this way: “Religious freedom . . . has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.” This helps us to understand why the Church must have the liberty to makes its claims about true freedom and justice within civil society, and why it must have the courage to perform that duty.

Newman’s explanation of conscience and freedom drives this point home. He rejected the false and dangerous view of conscience emerging in the nineteenth century: “[I]n this age . . . the very right and freedom of conscience [is seen as the right] to dispense with conscience, to ignore a Lawgiver and Judge, to be independent of unseen obligations. Conscience is a stern monitor, but in this century it has been superseded by a counterfeit . . . [that is,] the right of self-will.” “Conscience,” he famously wrote, “has rights”—that is, freedom—“because it has duties.” Those duties consist in the individual’s vigilance in ordering conscience to the truths given by God to the Church, and the Church’s clarity and effectiveness in teaching those truths.

In this, as in so much else, Newman was prophetic. In the 130 years since his death, few concepts have been more misunderstood and distorted than “conscience.” The danger is greater today than when the great saint wrote. He blamed the error on science and philosophy but insisted that in his day most Protestants and Catholics still believed that conscience was “the voice of God in the nature and heart of man . . . the internal witness of both the existence and the law of God.”

That is no longer the case. The distorted view of conscience that Newman described as oriented to self and not to God has penetrated Western culture and religion. For many, the obligation to follow one’s conscience has been embraced, but fidelity to truth has been set aside. This untethered and counterfeit “freedom of conscience” has led to a widespread subjectivism that Newman saw emerging within modern European society, even in his own day.

In the years since, this counterfeit view of conscience has contributed to growing disbelief in God and the radical assertion of human autonomy from nature and physical realities. Today Western nations are characterized by ever deepening cultural and political chasms between those who believe that ethical norms are grounded in nature and nature’s God, and those who believe that freedom itself establishes the norms of social ethics. This counterfeit view has encouraged, within the Church and without, deep confusion regarding the nature of man and woman as created by God; the beautiful truths about marriage, the family, and human sexuality; and the necessity of religious freedom for all persons and all societies.

It is for these reasons that Dignitatis demands not only an immunity from coercion, but also libertas ecclesiae, the Church’s right—protected in law and culture—to make public its claims about true freedom, justice, and the power of God’s love. Newman exhorts the Church to justify the right by performing the duty, that is, by professing the profound connection between the individual conscience and the Church’s public witness to the truth about nature and about Jesus Christ. (Read more.)

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Incredible Collection of Édouard and Jacqueline de Ribes

  From Architectural Digest:
Fashion designer, arts patron, and writer Jacqueline de Ribes—hailed as the “last queen of Paris”—has the star power, but Édouard de Ribes, her banker husband, had the goods. “A lot of journalists are focusing on the comtesse because she was so beautiful and so iconic, but the collection was created over six generations by a family that became rich and grew richer,” said Mario Tavella, the chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and the president–director general of Sotheby’s France, which is offering part one of La Collection Ribes on December 11 and 12. (Part two will be sold in spring 2020.) Descendant of a royal finance official who was ennobled in 1816, Édouard de Ribes, who died in 2013, was the sixth count of the line and the inheritor of not only a family fortune but also a vast, treasure-packed 1860s hôtel particulier in Paris, which his widow, now 90, still uses. Museum-quality pieces, many of them acquired by his great-grandfather in the 19th century, go on the block this month; part of the proceeds will go to the de Ribeses’ favorite charities. (Read more.)
Madame de Ribes

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Always Wrong, Never in Doubt

From David Harsanyi at The National Review:
At some point, of course, doomsayers such as Krugman are going to be right. In the past 60 years the United States has been hit with recessions in 1960–61, 1969–70, 1973–75, 1980, 1981–82, 1990–91, 2001, and 2007–09. History says we’re probably due for another one soon. When it hits, Krugman will blame tax cuts, unfettered capitalist greed, a dearth of regulations — and maybe climate change, or whatever hobbyhorse he’s riding at the time. MSNBC hosts will hail him as a seer.

Much like most economists, I have no clue what the future holds. But I do know that Barack Obama, who oversaw the slowest recovery in American history, was constantly being given credit for averting disaster by adopting smart policies (read: spending). Years after the bailouts — which is to say years of D.C. gridlock in which the former president, by his own admission, couldn’t enact any of his preferred economic policies — Democrats were still claiming that short-term first-year spending fixes were the impetus for growth. (Read more.)


From The Omaha World-Herald:
Irma is a short form of Germanic names starting with “ermen,” meaning “whole” or “all.” Emma was originally a Norman French form of the same name. Several medieval saints in England and Germany had “ermen” names. Sixth-century forest hermit St. Ermelinde (“whole-soft”) is venerated in Belgium. St. Irmgard (“whole-enclosure”) of Chiemsee (830-866) was a great-granddaughter of Charlemagne who became an abbess. St. Ermenburga (“whole-fortress”) was a Queen of Mercia in England who founded a nunnery.
Unlike Emma, Irma wasn’t used as a name in its own right until around 1700. Though this began in Germany, Irma’s first big success came in France. In 1799, French author Élisabeth Guénard published “Irma, or The Misfortunes of a Young Orphan.” Though in the novel Irma is a princess of India, she was obviously based on Marie-Thérèse, the only surviving child of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette, beheaded in the Revolution six years before. The novel was wildly popular in France, going through 10 editions by 1816. Many girls were named after Guénard’s heroine. In the 1850 United States census, 136 of the 174 Irmas were born either in French-speaking Louisiana or France itself. (Read more.)

Friday, November 22, 2019

Ten Churches in Paris

From Fodor's Travel:
Come here for the magnificent medieval stained glass, all 1,113 panes depicting stories from both the New and Old Testaments. An example of Rayonnant Gothic architecture, La Sainte-Chapelle was built between 1242 and 1248 to accommodate the Passion relics, including Jesus Christ’s Crown of Thorns, that were purchased by King Louis IX in 1239. In addition to the stained glass, paintings and carvings of Christian symbolism abound with sculptures of the 12 apostles and sculptural reliefs of angels holding royal crowns. Admission is €10, or €15 if you buy a joint ticket to visit the neighboring Conciergerie, a revolutionary tribunal and prison where Marie-Antoinette was held. This church is so historically meaningful, there’s even a free app called Sainte-Chapelle Window that zooms in on the fifteen 50-foot tall windows to explain their stories. (Read more.)

Burisma: A Double Standard

From Cheryl Chumley at The Washington Times:
On Biden, where the quid pro quo intent was obvious — where Joe Biden actually bragged about threatening to hold up $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine unless then-President Petro Poroshenko fired a prosecutor who was investigating, in part, Burisma Holdings, where Hunter served as a board member — it’s all conspiracy theory and tin hat crazy to suggest anything nefarious, to call for deeper scrutiny. Biden, we’re told, was simply rooting out corruption, taking a tough-guy approach, and after all, that’s what a good vice president who loves his country should do. Right?

But on President Donald Trump, where a quid pro quo with newly elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is alleged but denied and unproven — it’s impeach, impeach, impeach. It’s automatically assumed Trump, by simply referencing “Biden’s son” in a July 25 telephone call to Zelensky, was making a not-so-veiled threat to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to an investigation of Hunter Biden’s Burisma dealings, and of Joe Biden’s influence in Ukraine. It’s automatically alleged that Trump was using his presidential position as a platform to bribe, for political gain. (Read more.)