3

It Was the Russians! It Was Comey! It Was the New York Times!

Ah, the country truly dodged a bullet last November.  Clinton has a thousand reasons for why she lost instead of the real one:  her campaign message boiled down to this:  “Hey, you ignorant peasants, vote for me, it’s my turn!”  I guess excuse-making is better than looking in the mirror and thinking:  “Somehow I managed to lose to a man who had been never been elected  dog catcher, whose campaign organization was congealed chaos, who had worse media than Satan, who had half the campaign funds that I had, who often had difficulty getting out three consecutive coherent sentences,  who had more women alleging gross behavior than even the accusers of my “husband”, who had a large section of his party in revolt against him, who has mutant hair, and who hawked steaks and other Trump products during his campaign!  What does that say about me?”

 

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Thornton Wilder

On Memorial Day I spent the morning working in my office.  Before returning home for lunch, I stopped to visit the grave of my son. Mount Olivet cemetery was beautiful with American flags marking the graves of the veterans.  It brought to mind these lines from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town:

 

“Over there are some Civil War veterans. Iron flags on their graves…New Hampshire boys… had a notion that the Union ought to be kept together, though they’d never seen more than fifty miles of it themselves. All they knew was the name, friends – the United States of America. The United States of America. And they went and died about it.”

13

PopeWatch: Hmmm

 

This homily by Pope Francis yesterday is attracting attention:

 

“A shepherd must be ready to step down completely from his church, rather than leave in a partial manner” said the Pope.

His words were drawn from the first reading at Mass, where St Paul addressed the church leaders in Ephesus.  The Pope said that this reading could easily be called “A bishop’s leave taking” because Paul has left the Church of Ephesus in order to go to Jerusalem, where the Holy Spirit called him to go.

“All shepherds have to step down. There comes a moment where the Lord says ‘go to another place, come here, go there, come to me.’ And it’s one of the steps that a shepherd must take; be prepared to step down in the correct way, not still hanging on to his position. The shepherd who doesn’t learn how to do this because he still has some links with his sheep that are not good, links that are not purified by the Cross of Jesus” said Pope Francis.

 

Go here to read the rest.  Is this a signal?  Is Pope Francis signaling his own retirement?  Is he signaling dissatisfaction with the Pope Emeritus?  Is it not a signal but merely an exegesis from the reading?  How say you?

Saint Joan of Arc and History

Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years. She embodied the natural goodness and valour of the human race in unexampled perfection. Unconquerable courage, infinite compassion, the virtue of the simple, the wisdom of the just, shone forth in her. She glorifies as she freed the soil from which she sprang.

Sir Winston Churchill

 

Today is the feast day of Joan of Arc.  One of the examples of the direct intervention of God in human affairs, the brief history-altering life of Saint Joan of Arc has attracted the admiration of the most unlikely of men, including the Protestant Sir Winston Churchill, and the agnostic Mark Twain who called his book on Joan of Arc the finest thing he ever wrote.  She was not canonized until 1920, but almost all of her contemporaries who met her had no doubt that she was a saint sent by God.  Some of the English who were present as she was burned at the stake cried out that they were all damned because she was a saint.   Jean Tressard, the Treasurer of Henry VI, King of England, wrote the following soon after the execution of Joan:   “We are all lost for it is a good and holy woman that has been burned. I believe her soul is in the hands of God, and I believe damned all who joined in her condemnation”.  With Saint Joan humanity came into contact with a messenger from God, and the result to her was as predictable as it was lamentable.  However, the outcome of her mission was exactly as she had predicted.  The weak Dauphin that she had crowned would reign as Charles VII and end the Hundred Years War in victory for France, something that none of his contemporaries thought remotely possible before Joan embarked on her mission.

God tends to use unlikely tools to work His ends.  A peasant girl who lived scarcely nineteen years on this globe can sway the destiny of nations if God so wills.  Joan speaks to us powerfully across almost six centuries of the power of God and the courage of a young maid.

 

Whatever thing men call great, look for it in Joan of Arc, and there you will find it.

Mark Twain

 

 

18

Teaching Hate

Fifth rate comedienne grabs some cheap publicity by holding up a mock bloody head of Donald Trump.  Ho Hum, the deranged left always acts this way, and that is precisely the problem.

 

Mark Shea is his born again leftist mode had this post on his blog today:

So good white Christian Greg Gianforte assaulted a reporter (a fact confirmed by dangerous Marxist network FOX)…

and the Party of Brownshirt Lovers of Threats and Violence loved it, which is why Mona Charen had the unenviable task of trying to tell this party of neutronium-skulled thugs that they must stop denying, excusing and defending it.  They are not listening, of course, because they are violent thugs and enemies of America.  But worst of all, it is Christian thought leaders who are now orgasmic for this crude thuggery and Steven Greydanus calls them out:

I write today neither to accuse Greg Gianforte nor the voters of Montanta, neither of whom I have much to do with.

I write to accuse those who excuse, dismiss or enable intolerable behavior like Gianforte’s, or who give ear and support to those who do.

I’m talking to you, Dinesh D’Souza. I’m talking to you, Laura Ingraham.

Most of all, I’m talking to you, all my friends who still regard D’Souza and Ingraham as voices worth listening to.

It pains me to say this, because the fact is that I not only liked Ingraham and D’Souza, I *respected* them. I feel betrayed by what the American Christian conservatism I once identified with has become. I feel like a fool for not having seen it sooner.

In this words of this article, “None of this is a gray area. You either uphold certain basic standards of decency or you don’t.”

And the answer is: We don’t. Obviously. Read what Ingraham and D’Souza had to say about a now-elected official body-slamming a journalist, and realize the truth of the world we live in: The Tribe Right or Wrong; The Tribe Über Alles.

With the appropriate incantatory words (depending on your sub-tribe and the situation, they may be “But Hillary,” “The Babies,” “Obamacare,” “Immigration,” etc.), people who pride themselves on decency and traditional values will not only look the other way, but actively *defend* bad behavior and harm as long as the right people are being defended or harmed.

That’s what most horrifies me: not simply that someone might say “Unprovoked assault is obviously terrible and unacceptable but what’s on offer on the other side is even worse,” but that people will say “It was our guy hitting their guy? Eh. He had it coming. He’s a crybaby. He’s a sissy for not hitting back.” (This is paraphrase but scarcely exaggeration. Read the piece.)

I shouldn’t have to say this, but experience shows that I do: If your first reaction to this scolding is to bring up punching Nazis or what happened to Charles Murray at Middlebury, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.

Tu quoque won’t help you here. First of all, because *I’m* making the accusation, and *I* neither punched Richard Spencer, nor joined in the Middlebury mob, nor have I defended those who did.

I’m against punching Nazis and mobbing out-of-favor academics on college campuses, and *I’m* telling you that if you listen to people like Ingraham and D’Souza who defend blatant thuggishness as long as the violence goes the right way, *you’re* the one being harmed. Tu quoque is no defense when both sides are sipping arsenic.

Some might be tempted to modify the tu quoque and ask me why I’m actively calling out defenders of Gianforte when I haven’t gone out of my way to call out defenders left-wing violence. There are many answers to that, but the simplest is that I USED TO LIKE AND RESPECT INGRAHAM AND D’SOUZA.

The people I’m talking to are still, in spite of my alienation from the conservative machine, very much my peeps. We agree on many of the things that matter most.

What it seems to me we haven’t yet managed to agree on is the spiritual danger of embracing The Tribe Über Alles.

To be sure, not all Republicans endorse this filth.  Some of them, known by the goons and thugs who now constitute the bulk of the Party of Trump as “fake conservative” and “wusses” still speak out on behalf of civilization and are shouted down by Real Christians and Real Conservatives: Continue Reading

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At War With the Sexes

 

The advocates of homosexuality and transgenderism, mental illness transformed into political ideology, are ever busy within the Church:

 

A Catholic priest took a strong stand [date] against a new policy in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, that welcomes same-sex “families” into Catholic schools and allows students to identify as “transgender.”

An audio recording of the meeting where diocesan officials introduced the policy to priests includes a rather heated exchange between one priest and the presenters.

The priest accused the presenters of twisting Pope Francis’ words to force gender ideology on the schools.

“You are overturning Christian morality for situation ethics,” he said, “and you are taking way out of context ‘accompaniment.’”

“Pope Francis, the harshest critic of gender ideology, says it’s one thing to have compassion for human weakness and the complexities of life, it’s another thing to accept gender ideology,” he explained. “And you didn’t just open the door a crack. It’s wide open, and you’re accepting this.”

“You’re scandalizing every child in that school and you’re telling us we have to accept gender ideology. That’s what’s happening.”

The diocesan policy was crafted by a committee convened last fall. It included diocesan school and youth ministry officials, a mental health counselor, a former Catholic school teacher, and two priests. Neither of the priests run parishes attached to a school.

Catholics who are opposing the policy have set up a blog titled 30 Pieces of Silver to get it rescinded. The blog links to the recording of the diocese’s presentation to priests.

After the priest said that those on the committee were telling priests and others in the diocese they had to accept gender ideology, one of the presenters objected.

“I will never tell you, you have to do anything,” she said.   

But the priest countered: “You won’t be there to support any of these men [parish priests] when they have a problem of conscience,” he said. “I know it. You will not.”

The presenter repeated what her associate had said at the beginning of the presentation: “We’re not here to deal about the morality.”

The priest immediately emphasized, “It’s a moral issue.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Bishops

 

Sandro Magister believes that Pope Francis is not popular among the Bishops:

 

With the appointment as president of Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, after that of the secretary general three years ago, Pope Francis now has full control of the Italian episcopal conference, one third of whose bishops have been installed by him, even in dioceses of the first rank like Bologna, Palermo, the vicariate of Rome, and soon also Milan.

Appointments are a key element in the strategy of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. It should suffice to look at how he is reshaping in his image the college of cardinals, which in the future will elect his successor. After the latest batch of cardinals, announced one week ago for the end of June, chances are slimmer that the next pope could mark a return to the past.

Italy aside, however, winning the agreement of the bishops is anything but easy for Francis.

The only national episcopates that he can count on today are those of Germany, Austria, and Belgium, nations in which the Catholic Church is in the most dramatic decline.

While on the contrary the more vital Churches of Africa are those that stood together, in the two combative synods on the family, against the innovations desired by the pope.

If one then looks at the Americas, both North and South, the picture appears even more unfavorable for the pope.

In Canada, the six bishops of the region of Alberta have publicly taken a position against the go-ahead given by Francis to communion for the divorced and remarried, while in the United States the episcopal conference last November elected as its president Cardinal Daniel N. Di Nardo, precisely one of the thirteen cardinals of the memorable protest letter that infuriated Bergoglio at the beginning of the last synod.

In the American media, this election was covered as a referendum on Pope Francis, and there was reason for this. One year before, on a visit to the United States, Francis had ordered the bishops to change course and to get into step with him; and he had accompanied these commands with a series of appointments close to his mentality, in the first place that of Blase J. Cupich as archbishop of Chicago and as cardinal.

But if there was a referendum, Bergoglio lost it altogether. In the preselection for the appointment of the president, out of ten candidates elected only one to his liking made it in. And the elections of the vice-president – archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gómez, a member of Opus Dei – and of the heads of the commissions were also contrary to the pope’s expectations.

Even in Latin America, Bergoglio has few admirers.

In Colombia the bishops did not like – and they let him know this – the prejudicial support that Francis gave for the “yes” in the referendum on an agreement with the guerrillas of the FARC, an agreement that many bishops judged as a surrender and that in effect was rejected by the popular vote.

In Bolivia the bishops simply cannot stand the blatantly friendly relationship between Bergoglio and “cocalero” president Evo Morales, their bitter enemy especially since they publicly accused the “high structures” of the state of connections with drug trafficking.

In a Venezuela plunged into catastrophe, there is sadness and anger every time President Nicolás Maduro lashes out against them while appealing to Pope Francis, whose support he boasts having. And unfortunately for the bishops, the words spoken by the pope in commenting on the Venezuelan crisis during his latest in-flight press conference, on the way back from Cairo, sounded too benevolent toward the president and malevolent toward the opposition. Continue Reading

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Memorial Day Pledge

It  is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us —  that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for  which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve  that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall  have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people,  for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln

I have always loved Memorial Day.  A simple holiday, it unofficially marks the beginning of Summer in the US.  Fun and frolic marks the long weekend.  In many places school has ended or will be ending, and families are getting into vacation mode.  In my lifetime I have always been able to enjoy the holiday in peace and freedom, and that is due to the men the holiday honors.

Our war dead, stretching from the Revolution to the most recent skirmishes in Afghanistan and Iraq, I wonder what they make of all this.  Varying reactions no doubt, as varied as the men who died in our wars.  I assume that most of them wouldn’t begrudge people having fun, or gathering with their families.  During their lives almost all them liked having fun and loved their families.  Parting from loved ones is always a terrible burden on anyone who has gone to war, and today we remember those who never came back to their families. Thus I assume that the fun aspect of the weekend would not offend most of them, but rather please them.  However, Memorial Day is so much more than that.

The pain of a family, especially parents and spouses, who lose someone in a war is an agony that only time can dim but can never end.  Those of us who have fortunately not suffered such a loss can only imagine the grief and pain.  The least we can do for those families, and for their dead, is what I call the Memorial Day Pledge, taken from the last sentence of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

It  is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us —  that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for  which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve  that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall  have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people,  for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Never should our war dead die in vain.  Never should our troops be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice unless the nation is ready to win the conflict they are fighting in.  Never again should politicians play with war, cheering it at the beginning and then quickly running for cover when the going gets tough.  If the nation is unwilling to fight to win, no matter the cost, then it is better not to get involved in a conflict.  Anything less is a betrayal of every man who dies in battle.

Of course the circumstances of the war in which they fell in no way takes away from either the valor of our war dead or the value of their sacrifice.  We owe them and all our war dead a debt we can never repay.  Living Lincoln’s words each day is the best remembrance we can have for the men who died to ensure that we remained free and safe here at home.

Go, tell the Spartans, stranger passing by
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.

Simonides

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Abortion, Censorship and Donald Trump

 

 

As faithful readers of this blog know, I long opposed the election of Donald Trump last year.  I viewed him as unfit to be President, I doubted his conversion to the pro-life cause and I knew that he wasn’t a conservative in the mode of Reagan.  I came around, reluctantly, after he signed a pledge letter to the pro-life cause.  Since his election I occasionally wonder if I made the right decision, and then something like what is documented below happens, and I am very happy with my decision:

 

YouTube removed a video showing top Planned Parenthood officials making gruesome comments about abortion on the order of a federal judge in California.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick, who granted the preliminary injunction in favor of the National Abortion Federation to halt the release of the videos, ordered any links to the video to be removed after it was published by the Center for Medical Progress on Thursday.

Judge Orrick also ordered CMP lead investigator David Daleiden and his attorneys to appear in court June 14, The Associated Press reported, for a hearing where he will consider holding them in contempt for releasing the footage.

Mr. Daleiden has been charged with 15 felonies in California stemming from his undercover investigation into the abortion giant. His attorneys have called it a “witch hunt” that flies in the face of the First Amendment.

YouTube has not responded to a request for comment.

The three-minute video showed top Planned Parenthood executives joking about severed fetus heads, admitting to altering abortion procedures to preserve fetal organs and conceding that clinics have a financial incentive to sell the human remains from abortions.

Lisa Harris, medical director at Planned Parenthood of Michigan, laments that abortionists cannot easily confide in others about their workplace difficulties, such as removing the severed heads of fetuses from women undergoing abortions.

“Our stories don’t really have a place in a lot of pro-choice discourse and rhetoric, right? The heads that get stuck that we can’t get out,” Ms. Harris says in the video, drawing laughs from an audience.

She also says pro-choice advocates should concede that the practice is murder.

“Let’s just give them all the violence,” she says. “It’s a person. It’s killing. Let’s just give them all that.”

The video features footage recorded at an annual National Abortion Federation meeting by the undercover pro-life journalists. The Center for Medical Progress says it’s just a preview of never-before-seen content that has been caught up in a legal fight for nearly two years.

In the video, Ann Schutt-Aine, director of abortion services at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, admits to using forceps to hold a fetus in place and circumvent a partial-birth abortion.

“If I’m doing a procedure, and I’m seeing that I’m in fear that it’s about to come to the umbilicus, I might ask for a second set of forceps to hold the body at the cervix, and pull off a leg or two, so it’s not [partial-birth abortion],” she says.

President Trump was ridiculed during the campaign for suggesting abortions happen in the U.S. up to the moment of birth.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said the video proves him right. Continue Reading

4

PopeWatch: Bodyslam

 

 

From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

Just days after rumors emerged that Montana priest Fr. Gregory Forte could be made a bishop, reports that he apparently attacked a Catholic News Agency reporter the night before the pope made his final decision has thrown the diocese into turmoil.

Political reporter for Catholic News Agency Mary Rezac claimed late Wednesday night that while asking Forte a question regarding how silly altar girls look when they wear high heels, the candidate for bishop suddenly body slammed her to the floor, breaking his glasses and shouting, “Get the hell out of here.”

“He took me to the ground,” Rezac told colleague Ryan Thomas. “This is the strangest thing a priest has ever done to me.”

A spokesman for the diocese released a statement accusing Rezac of crashing the Mass, claiming that Rezac “walked up to the altar, aggressively shoved a recorder in Forte’s face, and began asking badgering question.”

 

But witnesses say that after Forte asked Rezac to remove the recorder, he then removed parts of his vestments, saying, “I’m sick and tired of this,” and body slammed her, before moving into position to place her leg in what is known as a DDT. It was at that point that Rezac was able to free herself and grab a conveniently placed folded chair.

“That’s when she hit him with the chair,” one witness told EOTT. “Calling to those gathered to get on their feet, Rezac went on to execute a suplex on Forte, which laid him out long enough for authorities to arrive.”

Church officials said Rezac was examined at a hospital and released. Officials have stated though the nature of the injuries did not meet the elements of a mortal sin, that Forte would be booked for misdemeanor wrath.

 

Continue Reading

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Churchill is Back, and He’s a Polish Woman

 

I wish Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło, a devout Catholic, would bite most of the other European leaders:

 

Speaking in the Polish Parliament on Wednesday,Beata Szydło seized the moment to launch an excoriating attack on European Union leaders following the Manchester attack which, among others, claimed the lives of a Polish couple, leaving their two daughters as orphans.

“We are not going to take part in the madness of the Brussels elite,” she railed. “We want to help people, not the political elites.

“Where are you headed Europe?” she demanded. “Rise from your knees and from your lethargy or you will be crying over your children every day.

“If you can’t see this – if you can’t see that terrorism currently has the potential to hurt every country in Europe, and you think that Poland should not defend itself, you are going hand in hand with those who point this weapon against Europe, against all of us.

“It needs to be said clearly and directly: This is an attack on Europe, on our culture, on our traditions.”

Addressing the people of Europe, she asked: “Do we want politicians who claim we have to get used to the attacks, and who describe terrorist attacks as incidents, or do we want strong politicians who can see the danger and can fight against it efficiently?” Continue Reading

May 26, 1917: Killer Tornado Hits Mattoon and Charleston

 

At the start of my career as an attorney, my bride and I lived in Mattoon, Illinois for just under three years.  Charleston was the country seat of Coles County, and I spent a lot of time over there in court.  Only twelve miles separate the two towns.

Beginning on May 25, 1917 an eight day sequence of killer tornadoes struck the mid section of the country, wreaking havoc and death in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama, leaving 383 people dead.

The tornado that struck Mattoon and Charleston began in Missouri and tracked a 293 mile course across Illinois, traveling at 40 mph, with the whirling winds that made up the tornado attaining 400 mph.  The skies darkened over Mattoon and Charleston around 2:00 PM with air sultry and oppressive.  At 3:00 PM a black nimbus cloud appeared and produced frequent lightning. A greenish-black cumulo-nimbus cloud appeared from the West around 3: 45 pm.  The tornado struck soon thereafter.  A contemporary account described what happened: Continue Reading

10

PopeWatch: Black Swan

 

Carl Olson at The Catholic World Report has a keen summing up of this Pap

 

Ironically, while Francis talks about clarifying doctrine, there’s simply no doubt that Amoris Laetitia, despite all protests and posturings, has instead confused, disturbed, and confounded with its ambiguities and problematic assertions. Insistence that this is all about “pastoral” issues is misleading, at best, since doctrine and practice go hand in hand; you need not be a theologian to see the essential relationship between what you believe and how you live (it might even be that not being a theologian is helpful in this regard). This pontificate has been divisive in ways few could have imagined prior to 2013. In addition, while Francis likes to talk about the “people”, it’s fairly evident that he has little patience for those people who dare question his questionable statements and actions, no matter how carefully, formally, or respectually they do so. His impatience with theological precision and doctrinal clarity is unsettling. As I noted back in December 2015:

I can only conclude that, for whatever reason, this pope has a deep aversion to theological precision (and, thus, clarity) and is quite impatient with how “doctrine” and “dogma” impede his vision of how things should be in the Church. This is troubling on several counts … First, following the logic of Francis’ various remarks, the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI (for starters) were pharisaical and unnecessarily complex, and thus stand opposed to his vision of mercy. Whether or not Francis cares about such a logical progression and conclusion is, of course, an entirely different matter. 

And it’s not just about burying Benedict; it’s also about ignoring St. John Paul II. In the meantime, there is the name-calling, the scolding, and the vague appeals to the Holy Spirit.  Continue Reading

3

American History: Memorial Day Weekend Movies

“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”

              Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Infantry Division at Kohima.

 

A few films to help remember that there is much greater significance to Memorial Day than sun and fun:

 

1.  American Sniper (2015)- A grand tribute to the late Chris Kyle and to all the other troops who served in Iraq.

“I am a strong Christian. Not a perfect one—not close. But I strongly believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. When I die, God is going to hold me accountable for everything I’ve done on earth. He may hold me back until last and run everybody else through the line, because it will take so long to go over all my sins. “Mr. Kyle, let’s go into the backroom. . . .” Honestly, I don’t know what will really happen on Judgment Day. But what I lean toward is that you know all of your sins, and God knows them all, and shame comes over you at the reality that He knows. I believe the fact that I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior will be my salvation. But in that backroom or whatever it is when God confronts me with my sins, I do not believe any of the kills I had during the war will be among them. Everyone I shot was evil. I had good cause on every shot. They all deserved to die.”
Chis Kyle

2.   Hamburger Hill (1987)- A moving film about our troops in Vietnam who served their nation far better than their too often ungrateful nation served them.

3.  Porkchop Hill (1959)-Korea has become to too many Americans The Forgotten War, lost between World War II and Vietnam.  There is nothing forgotten about it by the Americans who served over there,  including my Uncle Ralph McClarey who died a few years ago, and gained a hard won victory for the US in one of the major hot conflicts of the Cold War.  This film tells the story of the small American force on Porkchop Hill, who held it in the face of repeated assaults by superior forces of the Chinese and North Koreans.  As the above clip indicates it also highlights the surreal element that accompanies every war and the grim humor that aspect often brings.

4.   Hacksaw Ridge (2016):  Mel Gibson fully redeemed his career as a director with this masterpiece.  A film that goes far beyond mere entertainment and illustrates what a man of faith can accomplish when he stays true to his beliefs and cares so much more about helping others than he does about his own mortal life.  Incredibly, the movie does justice to Desmond Doss, a true American hero.

 

 5.   Sergeant York (1941)-A film biopic of Sergeant Alvin C. York, who, during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive  on October 8,  1918, took 32 German machine guns, killed 28 German soldiers and captured another 132.  Viewers who came to see the movie in 1941 must have been initially puzzled.  With a title like Sergeant York, movie goers could have been forgiven for thinking that Sergeant York’s experiences in World War I would be the focus, but such was not the case.  Most of the film is focused on York’s life in Tennessee from 1916-1917 before American entry into the war.  Like most masterpieces, the film has a strong religious theme as we witness York’s conversion to Christ.  The film is full of big questions:  How are we to live?  Why are we here?  What role should religion play in our lives?  How does someone gain faith?  What should we do if we perceive our duty to God and to Country to be in conflict?  It poses possible answers to these questions with a skillful mixture of humor and drama.  The entertainment value of Sergeant York conceals the fact that it is a very deep film intellectually as it addresses issues as old as Man.

The film was clearly a message film and made no bones about it.  The paper of the film industry Variety noted at the time:  “In Sergeant York the screen has spoken for national defense. Not in propaganda, but in theater.”

The film was a huge success upon release in 1941, the top grossing film of the year.  Gary Cooper justly earned the Oscar for his stellar performance as Alvin C. York.  It was Cooper’s favorite of his pictures.  “Sergeant York and I had quite a few things in common, even before I played him in screen. We both were raised in the mountains – Tennessee for him, Montana for me – and learned to ride and shoot as a natural part of growing up. Sergeant York won me an Academy Award, but that’s not why it’s my favorite film. I liked the role because of the background of the picture, and because I was portraying a good, sound American character.”

The film portrays a devout Christian who had to reconcile the command to “Love thy Neighbor” with fighting for his country in a war.  This is not an easy question and the film does not give easy answers, although I do find the clip above compelling. Continue Reading

May 26, 1917: Killer Tornado Hits Mattoon and Charleston

At the start of my career as an attorney, my bride and I lived in Mattoon, Illinois for just under three years. Charleston was the country seat of Coles County, and I spent a lot of time over there in court. Only twelve miles separate the two towns.

Beginning on May 25, 1917 an eight day sequence of killer tornadoes struck the mid section of the country, wreaking havoc and death in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama, leaving 383 people dead.

The tornado that struck Mattoon and Charleston began in Missouri and tracked a 293 mile course across Illinois, traveling at 40 mph, with the whirling winds that made up the tornado attaining 400 mph. The skies darkened over Mattoon and Charleston around 2:00 PM on May 26, 1917 with air sultry and oppressive. At 3:00 PM a black nimbus cloud appeared and produced frequent lightning. A greenish-black cumulo-nimbus cloud appeared from the West around 3: 45 pm. The tornado struck soon thereafter. A contemporary account described what happened:

The greatest destruction was wrought in Coles County, where the tornado
struck the districts occupied by workingmen ‘s homes in the cities of Mattoon
and Charleston, the former with a population of 12,000 and the latter with
6,000. The tornado passed through this county between 3 and 4 p. m., a
time of day in which tornadoes are generally most disastrous. In Mattoon,
at 3 :30 p. m._, sixty people were killed, and ^yq hundred homes demolished
and others seriously damaged. Traveling at about 45 miles per hour the
storm struck Charleston, 11 miles east of Mattoon, at 3:45. Here, thirty-
five persons were killed, over four hundred houses and fifteen industrial
establishments partially or wholly wrecked, the two railway stations de-
molished, and all telegraph and telephone connections destroyed.

In addition to the deaths, some 583 people were injured. Estimates of property damage exceeded 55 million dollars.
The 14th most deadly tornado in US history, the killer tornado was long remembered and was still talked about in the eighties of the last century.

39

Melania Trump is Catholic

 

This is interesting:

 

Now we know one reason why the first lady began with ‘Let us pray’ and ‘Our Father who art in heaven’ when she introduced the president that evening: She’s a practicing Roman Catholic.

Her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham confirmed that to DailyMail.com on Wednesday, hours after Pope Francis blessed a rosary for her at the Vatican.

The last Catholics to live in the White House were John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie. Melania and her son Barron will move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over the summer.

Mrs. Trump did more than just show up for a Papal audience.

She spent time in prayer at the Vatican-affiliated Bambino Gesù (Baby Jesus) Hospital, and laid flowers at the feet of a statue of the Madonna. Continue Reading

2

Saint Augustine on the Ascension

Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.

Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food. Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him?

While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.

He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are sons of God.

So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body. Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head.

 

1

Ascension

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

3

PopeWatch: The Meeting

 

 

 

 

Well the meeting occurred.  I would note that Ivanka and Melania were properly attired wearing black with veils, a fitting display of respect for the Vicar of Christ:

 

The meeting turned out not to be about Francis, the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, taking the American president to the woodshed about building a wall or closing borders to refugees.

Diplomatically speaking, they met as equals – as Heads of State.

There is a huge clash of styles between the two men: the pope, a model of humility; and Trump, more of a showman-businessman combo.

But Francis is all about finding common ground. And while Trump is known for his “Art of the Deal,” Francis has the divine calling for the Art of Persuasion. In that vein, a key exchange of the meeting was his gift to the president: copies of his three major writings.

The first is his encyclical, “Evangelii Gaudium” — The Joy of the Gospel.  This is about finding the core of Christianity. It’s about real faith. It will speak to Francis’ reason behind his statement, “No true Christian would build a wall.”

Next is “Amoris Laetitia” — The Joy of Love. This is about family, about sexual mores, divorce, communion and all those thorny issues the church is dealing with as the meaning of “family” in a secularized world has changed. The key here is that it is neither conservative nor liberal. It was Francis’ unique way of speaking the truth in love.

And finally, “Laudato Si” — On Care of Our Common Home. This is the major encyclical on the environment and climate change. It had a big release in 2015, with many seeing this as a central focus of Francis’ papacy. It is an issue they may disagree on, but again, Francis is about persuasion. He’s letting his writing do the talking.

President Trump said, “Well, I’ll be reading them.”

Most of the real diplomacy work took place during the president’s brief meeting afterwards with the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the Secretary for Relations with States Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher.

Reports called them “cordial discussions” that included talks about a joint commitment in favor of life,  freedom of worship, and  freedom of conscience – all issues the Catholic Church is concerned about. Continue Reading

42

Empty Words After Manchester

“His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence.”

May 23, 2017

Pope Francis signaled Monday that Europe’s refugee crisis will be a top political and diplomatic priority for the Vatican in 2016, using an annual speech to diplomats accredited to the Vatican to urge “assistance and acceptance” for massive waves of migrants arriving today on the Old Continent.

January 11, 2016

 

 

We can all understand the idiotic game being played by this time.  Jihadists slay innocents, politicians and religious leaders make empty statements of condemnation and solidarity, almost always the same politicians and religious figures who have fostered mass Islamic immigration to the West, and we go on our way, amidst calls against Islamophobia, until the next Jihadist act of butchery and the cycle repeats.  The West, with rare exceptions, has leadership that is not only impotent in the face of jihadists, but eagerly swells the numbers from which they recruit in the West.  Bruce Bawer at City Journal nails it:

Damn these jihadist murderers of children. And damn the politicians who have, in many cases, helped make these murders possible but who are quick, this time and every time, to serve up empty declarations of “solidarity”even as the bodies of innocents are still being counted.

London mayor Sadiq Khan (who recently dismissed terrorist attacks as “part and parcel of living in a big city”): “London stands with Manchester.” Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer (who, in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre, proclaimed a CAIR-backed “Muslim Women’s Day”—you know, the kind of event that proclaims hijabs “empowering”): Orlando “stands in solidarity with the people of the UK.” L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti (who went berserk when Trump tried to impose that temporary travel ban from a half-dozen Muslim countries): “Los Angeles stands with the people of Manchester.”

Meaningless words, all of them. But Angela Merkel takes the cake: “People in the UK can rest assured that Germany stands shoulder to shoulder with them.” Well, isn’t that . . . reassuring. In what way do such words help anybody to “rest assured” of anything? In any case, how dare she? This, after all, is the woman who opened the floodgates—the woman who, out of some twisted sense of German historical guilt, put European children in danger by inviting into the continent masses of unvetted people from the very part of the world where this monstrous evil has its roots.

Then there was this from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker: “Once again, terrorism has sought to instill fear where there should be joy, to sow division where young people and families should be coming together in celebration.” Beneath the innocuous-seeming surface of this statement is a slick rhetorical ruse: Juncker to the contrary, these savages aren’t out to “sow division”—they’re out to kill infidels. By introducing the concept of “division,” Juncker, like so many others, is implying that the important message here is: Hey, whatever you do, don’t let this little episode put any bad thoughts about Islam into your head!

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese also spoke of “fear” and “division”: “Manchester is a proud, strong city and we will not allow terrorists who seek to sow fear and division to achieve their aims.” Guess what, pal? They did achieve their aims: they killed 22 people, including children, and injured several dozen. Dead infidels: that’s their objective, period. (Or, as you would say, full stop.) Continue Reading

1

May 24, 1935: First Night Game in Major League Baseball

Eighty-two years ago the first major league baseball game was  played under the lights, adding a new dimension to the game of Summer, and making it more accessible to most people who work for a living during the day.  The first baseball game under artificial illumination was played in 1880, the year after Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.  However the major league teams did not embrace this innovation for over a half century.  Economic need, as usual, was the driver involved in making night major league ball a reality.  Almost all ball teams struggled during the Great Depression and attendance at games was a matter of life or death for the teams.  Some minor league teams and teams of the Negro League had been playing ball under the lights since 1930.

Leland “Larry” MacPhail and Powel Crosley, the general manager and the owner of the Cincinnati Reds, noticed that minor league teams were drawing big crowds playing night games.  The Reds were averaging 2000-3000 fans a game, their loyal followers being simply unable to miss a precious day of work during the hard times in the middle of the Depression.  They took the bold stance of putting in lights at Crosley Field, hang the expense despite the precarious financial condition of the Reds.  The first night game was set for May 24, 1935 against the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Reds won two-one and 20,000 fans witnessed it, as 632 flood lights illumined the field.  Night ball was here to stay. Continue Reading

6

PopeWatch: Separated at Birth

In anticipation of the grand meeting in Rome of Pope and President:

The leader can be described thusly:

  1. He is impulsive.
  2. He insults enemies.
  3. He uses twitter daily.
  4. He loves media attention.
  5. His most ardent supporters resemble a cult.
  6. He is autocratic.
  7. He is sometimes inarticulate when he goes off script.
  8. He is a source of division.
  9. His statements are frequently factually challenged.
  10. He believes in conspiracy theories.

Continue Reading

8

White Privilege, the Police and Good Manners

There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved…. After all we have been through. Just to think we can’t walk down our own streets, how humiliating.

Jesse Jackson, November 27, 1993

Very, very strong content warning as to the Chris Rock video above.  Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts has a post on the concept of white privilege:

Courtesy of National Review.  I notice that most who beat the drum of white privilege are, in fact, white.  A common trend today.  Of course the most popular criticism of those questioning the dogma is to call them racists.  An oldie but a goodie.  Still, since I know many people who have missed the good ship White Privilege, and furthermore dismiss the idea that a white person starved to death is better off than a non-white person starved to death, it’s worth the read for a dissenting view. Continue Reading

5

Two Hundred Billion

 

 

Some California Democrats in the state legislature are attempting to have the formerly Golden State adopt a single payer health care system.  The estimated cost for “free” health care in one state?  Two hundred billion dollars:

 

The price tag is in: It would cost $400 billion to remake California’s health insurance marketplace and create a publicly funded universal heath care system, according to a state financial analysis released Monday.

California would have to find an additional $200 billion per year, including in new tax revenues, to create a so-called “single-payer” system, the analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee found. The estimate assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag.

The cost analysis is seen as the biggest hurdle to creating a universal system, proposed by Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

Go here to read the rest.  The article goes on to note that the study estimates that California employers currently pay one hundred to one hundred and fifty billion to pay for the health care of employees.  A few thoughts:

Continue Reading

8

PopeWatch: Justice

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Mathew 7: 14

 

 

Pope Francis continues with his mercy uber alles theme:

 

 

Pope Francis says Catholic leaders do a “great injustice” when they say God judges sinners when in fact he forgives sinners with his mercy.

At an evening prayer service Friday in Fatima, Portugal, Francis said: “Mercy has to be put before judgment and, in any case, God’s judgment will always be rendered in light of his mercy.”

Francis has riled the more doctrinaire wing of the church with his mercy-over-morals priorities, particularly after the last two doctrine-minded papacies. He recently concluded an entire Holy Year on trying to show the more merciful side of the church.

 

Francis delivered the mercy-trumps-judgment message on the first day of a two-day visit to the shrine at Fatima, where three shepherd children reported having visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago. Francis will declare two of the children saints on Saturday, the 100th anniversary of the apparitions. Continue Reading

1

The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!

 

 

LarryD at Acts of the Apostasy reminds us to keep an eye on the Rooskies:

MADISON – According to members of the Our Lady of the Third Degree parish council, their pastor revealed sensitive parish information to members of a Russian Orthodox church during a recent ecumenical visit.

Unconfirmed reports from council members requesting anonymity told AoftheA News that Fr. S. P. Neeyahj held a private meeting with Russian Orthodox representatives for thirty minutes this past Monday, during which classified information was divulged. They participated in an ecumenical prayer service sponsored by Our Lady of the Third Degree, and after the event, Neeyahj invited them into his parish office.

Parish officials denied the allegations at first, but were forced to scramble for explanations after Fr. Neeyahj tweeted out “Great mtg with Russian friends! Shared our summer parish picnic theme & exchanged secret potluck recipes. #BrothersInFaith”.

“As pastor, he has the right to declassify any information he wants,” one source told AoftheA News. “But it’s a trust issue. Not to mention he knows it’s parish policy to not reveal the parish picnic theme until after Memorial Day. Huge breach in protocol, and puts at risk our ability as a parish council to determine themes for future events.”

It’s unsure which recipes Fr. Neeyahj gave the Russians. Past potluck participants have taken to social media to complain that the recipes were closely-guarded, treasured family secrets, intended solely to be handed down to future generations. Father’s actions raise serious questions about what other possible details and secrets he is disclosing.

“Has he given our Dunkin Donuts contract for Coffee Hour to the Presbyterians?,” another unnamed source said. “Has he shown the Baptists our methods of parishioner data collection? Is he telling the Unitarians that, yes, they will be going to Hell? We have a right to know what’s he been saying to whom, and for how long.”

Calls to Fr. Neeyahj were not returned. A parish official told AoftheA News his whereabouts were a secret.

 

7

Trump and Russia-So What?

Lots of ink has been spilled over the investigation into the Trump campaign as to whether it had contacts with the Russian government during the campaign last year.  Kevin D. Williamson at National Review, the same Kevin D. Williamson who hates Trump with the undying hate of the bitterest Never Trumper, states the obvious about the hysteria over this investigation:

But here’s the thing: For all the risible and irresponsible cries of “Treason!” and “Obstruction of justice!” there is not really much reason to believe that Trump has done much of anything wrong — though perhaps the special counsel will learn otherwise — certainly nothing that rises to the level of a treason charge (this is ridiculous talk, but it nonetheless must be taken seriously), or the “high crimes and misdemeanors” that would lead to impeachment, or to the incapacity that would allow for his removal under the 25th Amendment. Trump does not know what he is doing, and he is not very good at this job, but there’s no law against that. It is not unconstitutional to be a fool.
The doings in Washington have a distinctly tropical feel to them, and it isn’t global warming. Republicans who rallied to Trump are now learning that it is very difficult to steer the ship of state with one middle finger. American institutions are very robust, and this moment’s banana-republic stuff probably can be digested, provided there is not too much more of it. But there is no sign that Democrats will be satisfied with paralyzing the administration — at the grassroots, it is plain they will be satisfied with nothing less than driving him from office, and maybe not even with that.
But that is not how constitutional, democratic republics work.
There will be another election in 2020, at which time the American electorate can render its judgment on Trump.

Continue Reading

9

Pence Speech at Notre Dame

 

The Pence speech at Notre Dame is being played in the media as if the less than 100 students who walked out, out of a total of 3,000 graduates, was significant.  Lost is his speech, a very good one, which is filled with sentiments that all Catholics should endorse.  It is ironic that this former Catholic is more in tune with traditional Catholic teaching on moral issues than is virtually every elected Democrat with a D after his his or her name.

5

PopeWatch: Council of Jerusalem

 

 

The Pope takes a look at the Council of Jerusalem to accuse those who oppose him of trying to impose ideology rather than doctrine:

 

 

The Holy Father was commenting on the First Reading, from the Acts of the Apostles. He noted that even in the first Christian community “there were jealousies, power struggles, a certain deviousness that wanted to profit from and to buy power.” There are always problems, he said: “We are human, we are sinners” and there are difficulties, even in the Church. But being sinners leads to humility and to drawing close to the Lord, as Saviour who saves us from our sins. With regard to the gentiles who the Spirit called to become Christians, the Holy Father recalled that, in the reading, the apostles and the elders chose several people to go to Antioch together with Paul and Barnabas. The reading describes two different kinds of people: those who had “forceful discussions” but with “a good spirit,” on the one hand; and those who “sowed confusion”:

“The group of the apostles who want to discuss the problem, and the others who go and create problems. They divide, they divide the Church, they say that what the Apostles preached is not what Jesus said, that it is not the truth.”

The apostles discussed the situation among themselves, and in the end came to an agreement:

“But it is not a political agreement; it is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that leads them to say: no things, no necessities. Only those who say: don’t eat meat at the time, meat sacrificed to idols, because that was communion with the idols; abstain from blood, from animals that were strangled, and from illegitimate unions.”

The Pope pointed to the “liberty of the Spirit” that leads to agreement: so, he said, the gentiles were allowed to enter the Church without having to undergo circumcision. It was at the heart of the “first Council” of the Church: the Holy Spirit and they, the Pope with the Bishops, all together,” gathered together in order “to clarify the doctrine;” and later, through the centuries – as at Ephesus or at Vatican II – because “it is a duty of the Church to clarify the doctrine,” so that “what Jesus said in the Gospels, what is the Spirit of the Gospels, would be understood well”:

“But there were always people who without any commission go out to disturb the Christian community with speeches that upset souls: ‘Eh, no, someone who says that is a heretic, you can’t say this, or that; this is the doctrine of the Church.’ And they are fanatics of things that are not clear, like those fanatics who go there sowing weeds in order to divide the Christian community. And this is the problem: when the doctrine of the Church, that which comes from the Gospel, that which the Holy Spirit inspires – because Jesus said, “He will teach us and remind you of all that I have taught’ – [when] that doctrine becomes an ideology. And this is the great error of those people.”

These individuals, the Pope explained, “were not believers, they were ideologized,” they had an ideology that closed the heart to the work of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles, on the other hand, certainly discussed things forcefully, but they were not ideologized: “They had hearts open to what the Holy Spirit said. And after the discussion ‘it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.’” Continue Reading

9

Being Student Commissars for Fun and Profit

 

 

 

 

This has raised a firestorm:

 

The University of Arizona is paying students $10 per hour to assume the responsibilities of “Social Justice Advocates.”

 

According to an online job description, Social Justice Advocates, or SJAs for short, “will be responsible for instituting monthly programmatic efforts within the residence halls that focus specifically on social justice issues,” such as setting up “bulletin boards in the halls” and hosting “social justice modules once a month for the RAs.”

 

Successful applicants will be expected to “report any bias incidents or claims to appropriate Residence Life staff” in addition to hosting bi-semesterly “Real Talks” with dorm residents.

 

“The position also aims to increase understanding of one’s own self through critical reflection of power and privilege, identity and intersectionality, systems of socialization, cultural competency, and allyship as they pertain to the acknowledgement, understanding, and acceptance of differences,” the job description elaborates, noting that the ultimate goal of the position is to “increase a student staff member’s ability to openly lead conversations, discuss differences, and confront diversely insensitive behavior.”

 

Notably, SJAs are paid an hourly rate of $10, and are expected to work an average of 15 hours per week, meaning students who fill the position can expect to make about $150 per week for promoting “inclusive communities through positive interactions.” Continue Reading

3

Saint Athanasius on the Trinity

 

We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being. It is a wholly creative and energising reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved. Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things. God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.

Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of service but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.

Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.

This is also Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself.

The Big Red One Goes to France

 

President Wilson realized it would be many months before the US ground forces could be trained, equipped and shipped across the Atlantic in numbers sufficient to make a difference on the battlefields of France.  However, he also knew that Allied, and American, morale would soar with the news that the Americans had landed in France, no matter how many they were.  Thus on May 19, 1917 Wilson ordered that the First Expeditionary Division be formed, and that units of the Division sail to France as soon as possible.  Thus was born the First Infantry Division, the Big Red One.  By the end of the War the Division would incur casualties of 4,964 killed in action, 17,201 wounded in action, and 1,056 missing or died of wounds.  It would be the first Division to cross the Rhine into occupied Germany.  Five soldiers of the Division earned Medals of Honor during the War, out of a total of 92 earned by the Army.   The Big Red One has been in continuous service with the Army since its creation in 1917. Continue Reading

5

PopeWatch: Catholic Education

 

From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

 

 

Facing financial ruin due to the high cost of trying to provide their son with a good Catholic education, sources confirmed Thursday that parents of high school freshman Johnny Irving, Tom and Lisa, are quite impressed with their son’s growing knowledge of every tenet of every religion, but Catholicism.

According to the freshman’s parents, Irving has gained an immense amount of knowledge about the Koran, The Analects of Confucius, and the Book of Mormon in his class Fundamentals of Catholic Doctrine 101.

“It’s breathtaking the amount of non-Catholic knowledge he’s learning in his Catholic Doctrine class,” Lisa Irving told EOTT. “We’re about a paycheck or two away from filing for bankruptcy just so Johnny can learn about everything but Catholicism at a Catholic school, but it’s so worth it. He always comes home telling us interesting things about Catholic teaching like how according to the Church the most important doctrine is coexistence. And how the Church teaches that it’s pointless to evangelize since a person’s own consciousness, being infused by a higher spirit, stirs within him or her at birth and sanctifies every belief, whim, or desire that person has. I didn’t know that. Probably because I went to Catholic school when classrooms had crucifixes and whatnot in them.”

 

Lisa went on to say that, though her son still has never heard of the Nicene Creed, that he had memorized several verses from the Koran that incidentally mention Jesus, and that through Buddhist teachings, he has come to learn about Christ the bodhisattva.

“Listen, some people might think $40,000 for a four-year high school education seems absurd, ” Lisa Irving went on to say. “But tell that to me when my son graduates summa cum laude, which of course he will graduate with since every student in that fine scholastic institution graduates with that honor.”

At press time, Johnny is studying for his midterms in one of the school’s mandatory classes, Advanced Being Nice. Continue Reading

Nearer, My God, To Thee

Something for the weekend.  Nearer, My God, to Thee, sung by Mahalia Jackson.  Written in 1841 by Sarah Fuller Flower Adams, it retells the story of Jacob’s Dream.  A hymn of surpassing power in time of grief and loss, it was played by Confederate bands after Pickett’s Charge, and was sounded while the Rough Riders buried their dead.  Its title was the last words said by a dying President McKinley and the band on the Titanic ended their heroic service by playing the hymn as the ship sank beneath the waves. Continue Reading

12

Lawrence Charles McClarey: In Memoriam

Larry McClarey

Lawrence Charles McClarey

Birth:  September 5, 1991

(Feast day of Saint Lawrence Justinian)

Death:  May 19, 2013

(Pentecost)

[53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. [55] O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?

1 Corinthians 15:  53-55

 

Continue Reading

16

PopeWatch: Maduro’s Buddy

 

 

Father Raymond de Souza calls out Pope Francis in regard to Venezuela:

 

On the return flight from Cairo, the Holy Father was asked about Venezuela and appeared to depart from his neutrality – against the opposition:

Part of the opposition does not want this [dialogue]. Interesting, the opposition itself is divided and, on the other hand, it seems that the conflicts are increasingly escalating.  But there is something happening.  There is something moving forward, and I’ve been informed of this, but it’s still very much in the air as yet. Everything that can be done for Venezuela must be done.  And with the necessary guarantees.  Otherwise we are just playing childish games that lead nowhere.

What that answer meant was unclear, except that the pope appeared to be blaming the opposition. It did not take long for that response to be heard in Venezuela and the dismay to be heard in Rome.

The next day the Regina Coeli address lurched toward restoring some kind of balance, with Pope Francis appealing “to the government and all the members of Venezuelan society to avoid any further forms of violence, to respect human rights and to negotiate solutions to the serious humanitarian, social, political and economic crisis that is exhausting the population.”

The Maduro regime, having lost the delaying tactic of mediation, proposed instead a constitutional convention to draft a new constitution for Venezuela.

This would have the benefit of dissolving the National Assembly, which has been controlled by the opposition since 2013.

Earlier this year, Maduro had his allies on the supreme court strip the National Assembly of its powers, until an international protest forced a reversal.

The opposition has rejected the constitutional reform tactic, as have the Catholic bishops. On Saturday, Maduro denounced the bishops for taking a harder line against him than Pope Francis. He publicly called for the Venezuelan bishops to agree to his proposals in obedience to Pope Francis.

Vatican diplomacy has now stumbled into a place where Maduro considers Pope Francis an ally against the bishops of Venezuela.

It is a repeat of Vatican fumbling in Ukraine, where local Catholics felt that Pope Francis was siding with the Russian invaders. The Russia-Ukraine situation was fast-moving and great power politics – not to mention the delicate ecumenical situation with the Russian Orthodox – were at play.

Nothing of the sort is at play in Venezuela. It is the pope’s backyard. If the Holy See is positioned on the side of tyranny in opposition to her own bishops, it would be an inexplicable catastrophe. So much of the Holy Father’s defense of the suffering and exploited would ring hollow. Continue Reading

3

May 18, 1917: Wilson Signs Selective Service Act of 1917

 

The first draft imposed since the Civil War, the Selective Service Act of 1917, passed by overwhelming majorities in Congress, was signed by President Wilson a century ago.  The Act provided for the enlistment, at the discretion of the President, of the four volunteer divisions that Theodore Roosevelt planned to lead.  Go here to read about this provision.  Wilson, alarmed that Roosevelt would either be killed in France and he would be blamed, or that he would come back a national hero and be swept into the Presidency in 1920, would refuse to ever authorize the four volunteer divisions.  By the end of the War some 2 million Americans volunteered for service and some 2.8 million were drafted.

Individuals who belonged to religions or organizations opposed to War were exempted from combatant service but not from noncombatant service.  Members of the clergy were exempted from conscription as were seminarians. Continue Reading

14

PopeWatch: History

 

The Pope has an interesting conception of History as he displayed in a homily he preached before he left for Fatima last week:

 

 

During the course of history, Pope Francis said, many of our conceptions have changed. Slavery, for example, was a practice that was accepted; in time we have come to understand that it is a mortal sin.

“God has made himself known throughout history” he said, “His salvation” goes back a long way in time. And he referred to Paul’s preaching in the Acts of the Apostles when he tells the God-fearing children of Israel about the journey of their ancestors from the Exodus from Egypt until the coming of the savior, Jesus.

The Pope said salvation has a great and a long history during which the Lord “guided his people in good and in bad moments, in times of freedom and of slavery:  in a journey populated by “saints and by sinners” on the road towards fullness, “towards the encounter with the Lord”.

At the end of the journey there is Jesus, he said, however: “it doesn’t end there”.

In fact, Francis continued, Jesus gave us the Spirit who allows to “remember and to understand Jesus’ message, and thus, a second journey begins.

 

This journey undertaken “to understand, to deepen our understanding of Jesus and to deepen our faith” serves also, Francis explained, “to understand moral teaching, the Commandments.”

He pointed out that some things that “once seemed normal and not sinful, are today conceived as mortal sins:

“Think of slavery: at school they told us what they did with the slaves taking them from one place and selling them in another…. That is a mortal sin” he said.

But that, he said, is what we believe today. Back then it was deemed acceptable because people believed that some did not have a soul.

It was necessary, the Pope said, to move on to better understand the faith and to better understand morality. 

And reflecting bitterly on the fact that today “there are no slaves”, Pope Francis pointed out there are in fact many more of them…. but at least, he said, we know that to enslave someone is to commit a mortal sin.

The same goes for the death penalty: “once it was considered normality; today we say that it is inadmissible” he said.

 

The same concept, he added, can be applied to “wars of religion”: as we go ahead deepening our faith and clarifying the dictates of morality “there are saints, the saints we all know, as well as the hidden saints.” 

The Church, he commented, “is full of hidden saints”, and it is their holiness that will lead us to the “second fullness” when “the Lord will ultimately come to be all in all”.

Thus, Pope Francis said “The people of God are always on their way”. 

When the people of God stop, he said, “they become like prisoners in a stable, like donkeys”. In that situation they are unable to understand, to go forward, to deepen their faith – and love and faith do not purify their souls.

And, he said, there is a third “fullness of the times: ours”.

Each of us, the Pope explained, “is on the way to the fullness of our own time. Each of us will reach the moment in which life ends and there we must find the Lord. Each of us is on the go.”

“Jesus, he noted, has sent the Holy Spirit to guide us on our way” and he pointed out that the Church today is also on the go.

 

Pope Francis invited the faithful to ask themselves whether during confession there is not only the shame for having sinned, but also the understanding that in that moment they are taking a “step forward on the way to the fullness of times”.

“To ask God for forgiveness is not something automatic” he said.

“It means that I understand that I am on a journey, part of a people that is on a journey” and sooner or later “I will find myself face-to-face with God, who never leaves us alone, but always accompanies us” he said. 

And this, the Pope concluded, is the great work of God’s mercy.

Continue Reading

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Health Care is a Commodity

 

The usual suspects are outraged that the new Miss USA, Kara McCullough, thinks that health care is a privilege not a right.  Her father is a retired Marine and she holds a BS in Chemistry from the University of South Carolina.  She works as an emergency preparedness specialist for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  (No, that does not make her a nuclear scientist as some of the press hasreported.)

Health care of course is neither a right nor a privilege but a commodity.  Someone always has to pay for it.  To say that health care is a right is to say that person A has a right to compel other people to pay for A’s health care under all circumstances, and such a “right” has never existed and will never exist on this planet.  Government schemes for “free” healthcare always involve the rationing of health care and the denial of it under certain circumstances.  A privilege may be taken away and health care is almost never denied if it is paid for.  Kudos to Ms. McCullough, nonetheless, for actually thinking about her answer instead of rattling off the politically correct canned response.

Her answer about feminism was also a cut above the usual mindless platitudes expected of would be beauty queens: Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Que?

 

Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture notes that Pope Francis uses Jesuit doublespeak when he wishes to avoid endorsing Catholic teaching:

As the question-and-answer session was coming to a close, a Portuguese journalist was given the opportunity for a final question. He asked the Holy Father to comment on the fact that in Portugal, an overwhelmingly Catholic country, the political trend is favorable to recognition of same-sex marriage, acceptance of abortion, and now perhaps even euthanasia. Here is the Pope’s reply:

I think it’s a political problem. And that also the Catholic conscience isn’t a catholic one of total belonging to the Church and that behind that there isn’t a nuanced catechesis, a human catechesis. That is, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is an example of what is a serious and nuanced thing. I think that there is a lack of formation and also of culture. Because it’s curious, in some other regions, I think of the south of Italy, some in Latin America, they are very Catholic but they are anti-clerical and ‘priest-eaters’, that … there is a phenomenon that exists. It concerns me. That’s why I tell priests, you will have read it, to flee from clericalism because clericalism distances people. May they flee from clericalism and I add: it’s a plague in the Church. But here there is a work also of catechesis, of raising awareness, of dialogue, also of human values.

So, given an opportunity to comment on the collapse of Catholic moral principles in a Catholic society—it could easily be described as a softball question—the Pope said… What?

Read that answer again, and tell me what the Pope thinks of Catholics who, in public life, betray Catholic principles. Good luck. Continue Reading

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Powers Boothe: Requiescat In Pace

Perhaps the greatest American character actor of his time, Powers Boothe passed away in his sleep at age 68 on Pentecost this year.  An anomaly in Hollywood, he was married to his one and only wife since 1969 and he was a Republican.  He could play anything:  from insane villains like Jim Jones to heroes like Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Tanner in Red Dawn (1984).  Like most great actors and actresses he made it look easy.  The son of a Texas sharecropper, Boothe had a down to earth quality he brought to most roles he was playing.  I will miss him. Continue Reading

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May 15, 1864: Battle of New Market

 

“And New Market’s young cadets.”

Southern Birthright, Bobby Horton

New_Market_svg

John C. Breckinridge, fourteenth Vice-President of the United States and current Confederate Major General, had a big problem.  His task was to hold the Shenandoah Valley, the bread basket of the Army of Northern Virginia, for the Confederacy, and he was confronted with two Union columns seeking to rendezvous at Staunton, Virginia and place the Valley under Union control.  One column under George Crook was coming from the West Virginia.  The second column under Franz Sigel was coming down the Valley.  Sigel had twice the men that Breckinridge could muster, 9,000 to 4000, but Breckinridge saw no alternative but to march north and engage Sigel before the two Union columns could join against him.

The Confederacy by this time was robbing the cradle and the grave to fill out its ranks.  In the cradle contingent with Breckinridge were 257 cadets of the Virginia Military Institute, who ranged in age from 15-24.

Breckinridge brought Sigel to battle at mid-morning on May 15, 1864 south of New Market.  With detachments Sigel’s force was down to 6,000 men.  However, 2 to 3 was still very poor odds for an attacking army. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Pontius Pilate

 

 

Sandro Magister wonders why the Vatican is silent on the persecution by the Venezuelan government against the Church:

 

The number of dead is now around forty, the wounded number a thousand. It is the price of a month of popular demonstrations, even of only women dressed in white, against the presidency of Nicolás Maduro, in a Venezuela on the brink.

A Venezuela in which a new factor has recently taken the field, and this is the growing, systematic aggression against properties and personnel of the Catholic Church.

Vatican sources – starting with “L’Osservatore Romano” – as detailed as they are in covering the developments of the crisis, are sparing with news about aggression against the Church.

There is not a single reference to this even in the letter that Pope Francis wrote on May 5 to the Venezuelan bishops, who on the same day published a vibrant declaration against the announcement made by Maduro of a “constitutional convention” to reform the state for his use and consumption, meaning in practice – the bishops charge – to impose “a totalitarian, militaristic, violent, oppressive police state system” even worse than the “21st-century socialism” set up by Maduro’s predecesssor, Hugo Chávez, a leader still praised by many leftist populist groups in Latin America and elsewhere.

For Sunday, May 21, the bishop have called a “Day of prayer for peace in Venezuela.” But meanwhile, here is an initial survey of the aggression against the Catholic Church, published by the Venezuelan journalist Marinellys Tremamunno in La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana of April 2:

> Venezuela, inizia la persecuzione della Chiesa

Nothing is off-limits. Death threats and blasphemous graffiti on the walls of churches. Masses interrupted by incursions of Chavist “colectivos.” Caracas cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino silenced during the homily and forced to leave the church. The venerated image of the Nazarene in the cathedral of Valencia smeared with human excrement. The chanceries of the dioceses of Guarenas and Maracay plundered. Thefts of consecrated hosts in Maracaibo. The headquarters of the episcopal conference devastated. One priest killed in Guayana and another abducted.

But it doesn’t end there. On May 4, the doors of the cathedral of Caracas were damaged and its walls were covered with graffiti in praise of the government. That same day, a crowd of students from the Catholic university marched on the episcopal residence, as a sign of solidarity.

Because by now the bishops too are an “enemy” against whom the Maduro presidency is lashing out with vehemence. Especially after the failure at the outset of the attempt at mediation between the government and opposition groups supported at the end of last year by pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio through his envoys:

> Venezuela, a Nation on the Brink of the Abyss (7.11.2017)

The stance adopted by the Vatican authorities to foster a reconciliation among the parties was that expressed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, formerly the nuncio in Caracas before his appointment as secretary of state, in the letter he sent to the parties in mid-December, “in the name and at the behest of the Holy Father.”

In it, he identified four conditions for the opening of dialogue:

– humanitarian channels to guarantee the population food and medicine;
– restitution to the parliament (in which the opposition groups are in the majority) of the prerogatives stipulated by the constitution;
– the liberation of political prisoners;
– new free elections.

But the Maduro presidency has not wanted to meet any of these conditions. On the contrary, it has made additional decisions that have ramped up the repression.

And Pope Francis has been punctually informed about everything. Also through direct conversations with Venezuelan bishops, including the president of the episcopal conference, Cardinal Baltazar Porras Cardozo, archbishop of Mérida, who met with the pope in Rome on April 27, on the eve of his journey to Egypt.

So one can understand the disappointment and anger of many Venezuelans, including bishops, when two days later, on April 29, during the customary press conference on the flight back to Rome from Cairo, Francis said this about the crisis in Venezuela:

“There was an effort by the Holy See, but this did not produce results, because the proposals were not accepted, or were diluted with a ‘yes, yes, but no, no.’ We all know the difficult situation in Venezuela, which is a country that I love very much. I know that now there is insistence – I believe on the part of the four former presidents [of Colombia, Spain, Panama, and Santo Domingo – editor’s note] – to restore this facilitation. I believe that conditions have already been presented. Very clear conditions. But part of the opposition does not want this. Because it is curious, the opposition is divided. And, on the other hand, it appears that the conflicts are intensifying all the time. There is something astir, I am informed about it, but it is very much up in the air. But everything that can be done for Venezuela must be done. With the necessary guarantees. If not, we are playing ‘tintìn pirulero’ [where everyone wants to get out of paying the pledge – editor’s note], and this is no good.”

The next day, Sunday, April 30, speaking at the “Regina Caeli,” Francis moderated somewhat the dismissive words he spoke on the plane against the Venezuelan opposition groups, practically blamed for being the ones who ruined the agreement. He addressed “a heartfelt appeal to the government and to all the components of society that every further form of violence be avoided, human rights be respected, and negotiated solutions be sought for the grave humanitarian, social, political, and economic crisis that is devastating the population.” But this correction has by no means calmed the waters. Twelve hours later, in fact, the opposition groups wrote a letter to the pope in which “not divided but unanimous” they said that they agree to the conditions set by Cardinal Parolin – unlike the government, which has always rejected them – and indicated free elections as the only way out of the crisis.

The fact is that between Pope Francis and the Venezuelan bishops, concerning the crisis that is ravaging the country, there is an abyss. The bishops stand with the population that is protesting against the dictatorship, and are respected and listened to as authoritative guides. While Bergoglio is judged on a par with Pontius Pilate, unforgivably reckless with Maduro and Chavism, in addition to being incomprehensibly reticent on the victims of the repression and on the aggression that is striking the Church itself. Continue Reading

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My Bride and Mother’s Day

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Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her.

Proverbs 31:28

My mother loved my bride from their first meeting.  They enjoyed shopping together, and my bride was the daughter she never had. My mother died on Easter Sunday 1984.  She never saw, in this life, her grandchildren.  My bride and I were married for eight years before our twin boys appeared.  We were afraid we were never going to have children.  When they were born, I was 34 and my bride was 33.  After we brought the boys home, my initial thought was:  “What’s next”?  After being married for such a long time as a childless couple, I was concerned that perhaps parenthood would prove a challenge we were ill-prepared to meet.  Fortunately my bride, from the outset, proved herself a superb mother.

Changing endless diapers and making endless bottles of formula she did like a pro, as if her entire life had been preparation for these tasks.  When the toddler stage entered, she was constantly on the go, chasing after two inquisitive little boys who could cover a great deal of distance in a small amount of time.  I helped as much as I could, but the law mines often meant that for large portions of the week my bride was on her own.  This was especially a challenge with Larry as he always ranked among the boldest of spirits.  One morning my bride took the boys to Renfrew Park a few blocks from our home.  Toddler Larry loved that park.  He loved it so much that during the afternoon he slipped from the house and began a toddler trek to the Park.  My bride was frantic until a policeman returned Larry to our house safe and sound to the vast relief of Mom.

The boys were both late talkers and thus my bride began her relationship with various governmental “helping” agencies, who soon decided that something was wrong with both boys.  Well, they were half right:  Larry it turned out was autistic.  He began to speak about the same time as his brother, but he would always speak with difficulty and with a limited range of words.  I was crushed about this initially, alarmed for Larry’s future.  My bride’s optimism never faltered.  She, from their earliest days, began to teach the boys in “Mommy School”, tailoring Larry’s lessons to his abilities.  She continued to do this after our kids began to attend public school, with Mommy School ending with High School.  I largely attribute the academic success of our two other children to my brides’ patient instruction of them as they grew.

Our boys were joined by our baby girl three and a half years after their birth.  Tending the boys while pregnant was often a challenge to my bride, especially on one interesting, that would be the word, day when I came home and was advised that the boys had displayed their artistic skill, by painting on the white walls of their room in poop.  Life was rarely dull for my bride as our kids were growing!  With the advent of our daughter my bride had an inquisitive, and talkative, mini-her, who for the first years of her life often would say what her Mom had said just a few minutes  before, as if the words were thought up by her.  Donnie quickly reacted to this little prodigy by learning a new phrase, “I scared of sister.” Continue Reading

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Pentecost and Renewal

 

So ever the king had a custom that at the feast of Pentecost in especial, afore other feasts in the year, he would not go that day to meat until he had heard or seen of a great marvel.

 

When my children were small as the family drove to Mass, I offered the kids a dollar for the first one to sight the Questing Beast, tying the Arthurian legend with the great feast.  When my son died on Pentecost four years ago, the bright spot on that bleak Pentecost was when my bride gave voice to a thought that had occurred to me:  Larry has gone after the Questing Beast.

The birthday of the Church, inaugurated with the great miracles of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire underlining the universal nature of the mission of the Church, at Pentecost has always reminded me that since the coming of Christ we live in an age of miracles, if we only have the wit and the faith to see them.  I know this from personal experience:   since the death of Larry I have received a small miracle to assure me of his love from the other side.

We live in a time in the West of great cultural pessimism and spiritual sickness that has infected the Church.  We forget that over 2000 turbulent years Christ has never failed us and that we Christians should never give way to despair.  We do battle with Principalities and Powers, and not merely misguided or evil fellow men, and Christ is ever ready to aid us if we call on Him in humility and love.

The Holy Spirit, Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches us, brings us renewal: Continue Reading

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Mother ‘O Mine

If I were hanged on the highest hill,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose love would follow me still,

   Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose tears would come down to me,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were damned of body and soul, 

I know whose prayers would make me whole,

   Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

Rudyard Kipling