Donald R. McClarey
The Babalu Blog, the go to site for news on Cuba, predicted the papal involvement in the “normalization” of relations with Cuba announced yesterday by Obama:
We’re not clairvoyants or prophets. We just deal with the facts.
Eleven months ago, when Secretary of State John Kerry visited the Vatican, a Babalu post asked: “Will Pope Francis Bring About the Release of Alan Gross?”
Here’s a quote from that post:
How’s this for a scenario?: Pope Francis gets Alan Gross freed in exchange for the four Castro spies, and, on top of that, orchestrates the restoration of US/Castro diplomatic ties, along with the lifting of the embargo. And it will all make Obama look so righteous and compassionate rather than weak, all because of the glow lent to the whole deal by Pope Francis’s halo.
Such speculation is not far-fetched.
Well, guess what? Unfortunately, today’s events have proven that such speculation was in fact correct.
Yeah. The “embargo” has not been lifted yet…. but the current occupant of the White House has turned the circumventing of congress into a rare art form. Just wait.
Hate to say “I told you so.” Those moments always involve a most exquisite and intolerable kind of pain. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival.
I have always thought it fitting that Christmas and Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, are so close together usually on the calendar. This year Hanukkah began on December 16 and will end on Christmas Eve. Approximately 160 years before the Coming of Christ, the Jews revolted against the Seleucid Empire. This was one of the most important struggles in all of human history. It determined that the Jews would remain a people set apart, worshiping Yahweh, and not become, like so many peoples before and since, a lost people, blended into larger populations, their god forgotten. It was this revolt, led by Mattathias, his name meaning “gift of Yahweh”, and his sons, known collectively as the Maccabees, that is told in First and Second Maccabees. The revolt was successful, but ultimately, through civil wars and the overpowering military might of Rome, the Jews again fell under foreign domination, and Jesus was born into a world ruled by Rome. However, the revolt established that the Jews would remain a separate people, worshiping their God and safeguarding their faith. This was an essential element in setting the stage for the coming of Christ. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.”
The famous “weather prayer” of General Patton was written by a Catholic Chaplain, Colonel James H. O’Neill, Chief Chaplain of the Third Army. Here is his article on the incident written in 1950.
The incident of the now famous Patton Prayer commenced with a telephone call to the Third Army Chaplain on the morning of December 8, 1944, when the Third Army Headquarters were located in the Caserne Molifor in Nancy, France: “This is General Patton; do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about those rains if we are to win the war.” My reply was that I know where to look for such a prayer, that I would locate, and report within the hour. As I hung up the telephone receiver, about eleven in the morning, I looked out on the steadily falling rain, “immoderate” I would call it — the same rain that had plagued Patton’s Army throughout the Moselle and Saar Campaigns from September until now, December 8. The few prayer books at hand contained no formal prayer on weather that might prove acceptable to the Army Commander. Keeping his immediate objective in mind, I typed an original and an improved copy on a 5″ x 3″ filing card:
Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.
I pondered the question, What use would General Patton make of the prayer? Surely not for private devotion. If he intended it for circulation to chaplains or others, with Christmas not far removed, it might he proper to type the Army Commander’s Christmas Greetings on the reverse side. This would please the recipient, and anything that pleased the men I knew would please him:
To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I Wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God’s blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day. G.S. Patton, Jr, Lieutenant General, Commanding, Third United States Army.
This done, I donned my heavy trench coat, crossed the quadrangle of the old French military barracks, and reported to General Patton. He read the prayer copy, returned it to me with a very casual directive, “Have 250,000 copies printed and see to it that every man in the Third Army gets one.” The size of the order amazed me; this was certainly doing something about the weather in a big way. But I said nothing but the usual, “Very well, Sir!” Recovering, I invited his attention to the reverse side containing the Christmas Greeting, with his name and rank typed. “Very good,” he said, with a smile of approval. “If the General would sign the card, it would add a personal touch that I am sure the men would like.” He took his place at his desk, signed the card, returned it to me and then Said: “Chaplain, sit down for a moment; I want to talk to you about this business of prayer.” He rubbed his face in his hands, was silent for a moment, then rose and walked over to the high window, and stood there with his back toward me as he looked out on the falling rain. As usual, he was dressed stunningly, and his six-foot-two powerfully built physique made an unforgettable silhouette against the great window. The General Patton I saw there was the Army Commander to whom the welfare of the men under him was a matter of Personal responsibility . Even in the heat of combat he could take time out to direct new methods to prevent trench feet, to see to it that dry socks went forward daily with the rations to troops on the line, to kneel in the mud administering morphine and caring for a wounded soldier until the ambulance Came. What was coming now?
“Chaplain, how much praying is being done in the Third Army?” was his question. I parried: “Does the General mean by chaplains, or by the men?” “By everybody,” he replied. To this I countered: “I am afraid to admit it, but I do not believe that much praying is going on. When there Is fighting, everyone prays, but now with this constant rain — when things are quiet, dangerously quiet, men just sit and wait for things to happen. Prayer out here is difficult. Both chaplains and men are removed from a special building with a steeple. Prayer to most of them is a formal, ritualized affair, involving special posture and a liturgical setting. I do not believe that much praying is being done.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
If there are any Catholics still dense enough not to understand the trajectory of the current pontificate, the ludicrous ending to the investigation of American nuns and sisters in this country should cure their ignorance. Rorate Caeli gives us the grisly details:
Final report on American women religious issued
Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies for this year, a series which we began in Advent 2011 and continued in 2102 and 2013, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here, here , here, here, here and here, we come to Haggai 2: 6-8 :
 The word that I covenanted with you when you came out of the land of Egypt: and my spirit shall be in the midst of you: fear not.
 For thus saith the Lord of hosts: Yet one little while, and I will move the heaven and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land.
 And I will move all nations: AND THE DESIRED OF ALL NATIONS SHALL COME: and I will fill this house with glory: saith the Lord of hosts.
Saint Augustine reveals Who this passage refers to: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
I went into this film assuming it was going to be bad based on what I had heard about it. In that assumption I was mistaken. Although not a film I would recommend, I can’t call it a bad film. My review is below with the usual caveat as to spoilers. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently on behalf of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, at Midwest Conservative Journal brings us up to speed on a novel excuse to get out of taking finals dreamt up by some Harvard Law students:
The following essay by one William Desmond, a third-year student at Harvard Law School as well as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, is either the most infuriating thing I’ve ever read or the most unintentionally hilarious. I can’t figure out which. Seems Des would like Harvard Law to delay whatever exams he’s scheduled to take. Why? Ferguson, natch:
Over the last week, much has been said about law students’ petitioning for exam extensions in light of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police officers. Students at Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, Georgetown University Law Center and several other schools requested that their administrations allow extensions on final exams for students who have been confronting the aftermath of the recent failed grand jury indictments of the officers who killed the unarmed black men.
Des already knows how people are going to react.
In response, opponents of exam extensions have declared that to grant these requests would be a disservice to the students. Law students, they argue, must learn how to engage critically with the law in the face of intense adversity. Drawing comparisons to events surrounding the Civil Rights Movement and other times of intense turmoil, these opponents portray today’s law students as coddled millennials using traumatic events as an excuse for their inability to focus on a three-hour exam. In essence, law students are being told to grow up and learn how to focus amidst stress and anxiety—like “real” lawyers must do.
They’re all wrong, of course.
Speaking as one of those law students, I can say that this response is misguided: Our request for exam extensions is not being made from a position of weakness, but rather from one of strength and critical awareness.
How’s that, Des? Because in the last couple of months, the single most traumatic events in the entire recorded history of humanity have occurred.
Although over the last few weeks many law students have experienced moments of total despair, minutes of inconsolable tears and hours of utter confusion, many of these same students have also spent days in action—days of protesting, of organizing meetings, of drafting emails and letters, and of starting conversations long overdue. We have been synthesizing decades of police interactions, dissecting problems centuries old, and exposing the hypocrisy of silence.
Yeah, sure you were. And doing lots and lots of high-grade ganja from the sound of it. Out: the dog ate my homework. In: I was so upset by this country’s refusal to frankly face the effects of slavery that I couldn’t possibly study, never mind do any homework.
I have seen the psychological trauma brought on by disillusionment with our justice system send some law students into a period of depression. After all, every death of an unarmed youth at the hands of law enforcement is a tragedy. The hesitancy to recognize the validity of these psychic effects demonstrates that, in addition to conversations on race, gender and class, our nation is starving for a genuine discussion about mental health. But to reduce our calls for exam extensions to mere cries for help exhibits a failure to understand the powerful images of die-ins and the booming chants of protestors disrupting the continuation of business as usual in cities across the country.
You’re just embarrassing yourself, kid. Hey shut up, we’re not spoiled children. We’re…you know…prophetic and crap.
Where some commentators see weakness or sensitivity, perhaps they should instead see strength—the strength to know when our cups of endurance have run over and when the time for patience has ended. Perhaps they should instead see courage—the courage to look our peers in the eyes and uncomfortably ask them to bear these burdens of racism and classism that we have together inherited from generations past. We have taken many exams before, but never have we done this. We are scared, but no longer will we be spectators to injustice.
Des? I’ve got a real life rule. When you have to tell others to perceive you as strong and courageous, you’re nothing more than a particularly sniveling, gutless little douchebag. Oh, and attention furniture companies and stores. Want to make a boatload of money? Stock up on fainting couches because guys (?) like Des are going to need one once he starts his law practice.
Our focus and critical thinking are at an all-time peak while the importance of our textbooks is at a low. It is not that law students are incapable of handling their exams. It is that we are unwilling to remove ourselves, even for a few days, from this national conversation.
As future practitioners, professors, judges and policymakers, we have all been trained not only in the faithful application of the law but also in the critical examination of its effectiveness. And by our analysis, responsible members of the legal community can no longer defend our criminal justice system as exemplifying fair process when that system so frequently produces the same unjust result—life drained from an unarmed black body by a barrage of government-issued bullets.
If I ever had to do a nickel for some crime and Des was my lawyer, I guarantee that this snowflake will be waiting at the prison gate when I get out. To inform me that he was suing my ass into the ground for causing him emotional distress because I was guilty. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Clare Short of Faith in our Families blog has written an open letter to the Pope. I think this letter typifies the anguish that many faithful Catholics are experiencing under the current pontificate:
Dear Pope Francis,
I have supported you and defended you many times this year. Even when I was unsure of exactly what it was you were saying – I always gave you the benefit of the doubt and stood up for you against those who were criticizing you. However regarding your recent comments denouncing the “rigid” attached to doctrine as “Pharisees” I am sorry but with a heavy heart, I have to disagree with you:
Pope Francis recalled how “Pius XII freed us from the very heavy cross that was the Eucharistic fast:
“But some of you might remember. You couldn’t even drink a drop of water. Not even that! And to brush your teeth, it had to be done in such a way that you didn’t swallow the water. But I myself as a young boy went to confession for having made the Communion, because I thought a drop of water had gone in. Is it true or no? It’s true. When Pius XII changed the discipline: ‘Ah, heresy! No! He touched the discipline of the Church.’ So many Pharisees were scandalized. So many. Because Pius XII had acted like Jesus: he saw the need of the people. ‘But the poor people, with such warmth.’ These priests who said three Masses, the last at one o’clock, after noon, fasting. The discipline of the Church. And these Pharisees [spoke about] ‘our discipline’ – rigid on the outside, but, as Jesus said of them, ‘rotting in the heart,’ weak, weak to the point of rottenness. Gloomy in the heart. This is the drama of these people, and Jesus denounces hypocrisy and opportunism: Even our life can become like that, even our life. And sometimes, I confess something to you, when I have seen a Christian, a Christian of that kind, with a weak heart, not firm, not fixed on the rock—Jesus – and with such rigidness on the outside, I ask the Lord: But Lord, throw a banana peel in front of them, so that they will take a good fall, and feel shame that they are sinners, and so encounter You, [and realize] that You are the Savior. Many times a sin will make us feel shame, and make us encounter the Lord, Who pardons us, as the sick who were there and went to the Lord for healing.”
You are correct in saying that the Pharisees of 1st Century Jerusalem were politicians. They were not interested in the spirituality of the Jewish faith in anyway shape or form. All they were interested in was satisfying their lust for power and status over the people. In this way they held God’s people in contempt. They used rules and regulations to keep people captive.
But Holy Father, don’t you understand?…
The religious politicians of the 21st century are your friends – the Walter Kasper’s and the Cormac Murphy O’Connor’s of this world. They are the ones trying to control the Family Synod. They are the ones manipulating the media. They are the ones doing deals and getting their mates into the position of Bishop to further their own political agenda, when they really, really should never have even been there (Kieran Conry). Just like the Pharisees of 1st century Jerusalem, they are primarily concerned with their own lust for power and status. They hide this behind a smoke screen of words and phrases that seem to offer salvation, but are in-fact as empty as the rules and regulations of 2000 years ago. They hold God’s people in contempt by offering them apparent solutions to the problem of sin. They do not do this by keeping them captive in rules and regulations, but instead they seek to abolish ALL rules and regulations and usher in a climate of relativism. When people perceive their sin as relative, the rules and regulations no longer apply: and consequently their sin no longer exists.
Holy Father don’t you see? The real 21st century Pharisees operate by keeping God’s people captive in their own sin.
I don’t know how the church works in Argentina. I feel there are some cultural differences in Europe that perhaps you are not fully aware of. You see, here, the church has been kept afloat by those who have remained loyal to church teaching. The church has suffered so much damage here over the last 50 years from people wanting to push their own political agenda – to put Man at the centre of the faith rather than Christ. The truth and beauty of Christ – the true spirituality and heart of the Catholic faith has been almost completely replaced by nothing more than a synthetic substitute.
I understand your message of mercy. You are reaching out to those who are not secure in their faith – to those who have perhaps suffered a massive lack of proper religious education and catechesis and have never known the real Jesus or felt His love. I know there are many who are already secure in their faith who do not understand why you are taking this approach – but I do. But there are also those who want to twist this message to their own advantage. The mercy Kasper offers is focused on this life alone. He seeks to please man. He makes no mention of how it will effect people in the next life. To allow people to remain in mortal sin is to ignore God’s truth and God’s justice. How will Kasper’s teaching on mercy effect people’s time in purgatory – or worse? Is this real mercy?
Holy Father, I admire your courage for taking on the heavy cross of becoming Pope, and I pray for you every day. Please Holy Father, I beg you – do not be deceived by those who wish to put Man at the centre of the Catholic faith. Jesus did not come to ‘people please’. He came to set us free from ourselves. Please see the true 21st century Pharisees for who they really are.
I love you and you are in my prayers. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Rorate Caeli brings us an English translation of an article on the Italian section of Sandro Magister’s blog Chiesa:
The Francis Effect: ‘Democratic Tyranny’ against dissenters” I received it and I publish it: the author is Professor Emeritus of Sociology of Religion in the University of Florence and in the Theological Faculty of Central Italy
The climate of a Pontificate and new eagerness for the stickby Pietro di MarcoDecember 12, 2014
I have been told about a recent case indicative of the Catholic climate that is growing. A few months ago some members accused of criticizing Pope Bergoglio were expelled from a historic Florentine volunteer association.It appears that the proof was obtained from the social network where they had voiced their dissent – perhaps too loudly; an expulsion without a process nor confrontation, invoking statutory articles inaccessible to the accused.Also from other Tuscan settings, signals are arriving of an eagerness to act with sanctions against “traditional” tendencies; acts in the past, never directed against ideas and behavior truly anti-institutional, when not subversive of rite and dogma. On the contrary, those who have been in the Church, remember the hostility, for decades, from precise environments and people, against Pope Wojtyla or Pope Ratzinger and all of it tolerated by Catholic authority (it involved bishops and leaders of lay associations) formally aligned with Rome. Remarkable that such alignment, at that time helpless, exercises itself now in a pugnacious defense of the reigning Pope only to hit out at orthodox environments and individualities.Naturally, as in all “respected” repression, nobody is “expelled.” The accused, it is said, put themselves on the outside. It doesn’t matter, (if it did– how aggravating!) that in their polemics they were opposed to the “liquefying ” religiosity that pervades predication, pastoral care and Catholic ethics. Similarly to how one is disgraced in public life with the epithet “enemies of the Constitution”, a use of lethal formulas like “enemies of the Council” or “hostile to Francis” is now affirmed in the Church.It is enough as an example the vicissitude, still bleeding, of the commissioning of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, where the law of the Church is being used like a stick, i.e. in an anti-juridical manner, by “commissioners” who react to criticism with intimidating language [reminiscent] of political processes from other times. This serious matter, not less than the smaller depurations of which I spoke of, are legitimized by referring to the words and facts of Pope Francis. This is the well-known phenomenon of the abuse of the leader’s words so that vendettas can be put into act.However, it should be said, there is something more here than the motivation to please a Pope and his entourage and which is already fertile ground for this unprecedented pro-papal front. With the end of Benedict XVI’s pontificate, lay faithful and the clergy seem no longer to have any anti-bodies (they had few before anyway) when confronted with that post-modern Christian rubbish, which consists of admittance of errors and contrition, in self-criticism of our Catholic past “in light of the Gospel” and in all kinds of inclusiveness, as long as they are on the media’s agenda.
There’s absolutely no reason for us to assume the Germans are mounting a major offensive. The weather is awful, Their supplies are low, and the German army hasn’t mounted a winter offensive since the time of Frederick the Great — therefore I believe that’s exactly what they’re going to do.
George C. Scott as Patton, as he guesses what the Germans are up to at the start of the Battle of the Bulge-Patton (1970)
Seventy years ago on December 16, 1944 the largest battle in American history, the Battle of the Bulge, began. The last desperate throw of the dice by Hitler to try to snatch victory from obvious defeat, the battle would involve some 600,000 American troops and 125,000 Allied troops. 19000 Americans were killed, and 23,000 missing or captured, to some 67,000-100,000 killed, missing and wounded among the Germans. Fighting raged until January 25, 1945 with the German counterattack decisively defeated.
The Germans relied on bad weather to neutralize Allied air power, and it did for a time, until enough fair weather broke to allow Allied bombers to aid General Patton and his Third Army in their drive to relieve the courageous men of the 101rst Airborne in their epic stand at Bastogne, the turning point of the battle.
Here is the prayer said by Patton, on his knees, at a chapel in Luxembourg City on December 23, 1944. It is a rough soldier’s prayer and some may find it offensive. Indeed, I would have phrased the prayer quite differently myself. However, Patton believed with all his being in God, and when Patton requested His aid, he was never shy about stating to the Almighty precisely what was on his mind:
Sir, this is Patton speaking. The last fourteen days have been straight from hell. Rain, snow, more rain, more snow – and I’m beginning to wonder what’s going on in Your headquarters. Whose side are You on, anyway?
For three years my chaplains have been explaining that this is a religious war. This, they tell me, is the Crusades all over again, except that we’re riding tanks instead of chargers. They insist we are here to annihilate the German Army and the godless Hitler so that religious freedom may return to Europe. Up until now I’ve gone along with them, too. You have given us Your unreserved cooperation. Clear skies and a calm sea in Africa made the landings highly successful and helped us to eliminate Rommel. Sicily was comparatively easy and You supplied excellent weather tor our armored dash across France, the greatest military victory that You have thus far allowed me. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
PopeWatch is sure that everyone who reads this has also read a breathless report that Pope Francis has said that all animals go to Heaven. The only problem with all these reports is that they are rubbish. David Gibson takes a look at this Dog’s Breakfast in bad journalism:
When Pope Francis recently sought to comfort a distraught boy whose dog had died, the pontiff took the sort of pastoral approach he is famous for — telling the youngster not to worry, that he would one day see his pet in heaven.
“Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures,” Francis said reassuringly.
It was a sparkling moment on a rainy November day, and the setting in St. Peter’s Square only burnished Francis’ reputation as a kindly “people’s pope.” The story naturally lit up social media, became instant promotional material for vegetarians and animal rights groups, and on Friday even made it to the front page of The New York Times.
There’s only one problem: none of it ever happened.
Yes, a version of that quotation was uttered by a pope, but it was said decades ago by Paul VI, who died in 1978. There is no evidence that Francis repeated the words during his public audience on Nov. 26, as has been widely reported, nor was there was a boy mourning his dead dog.
So how could such a fable so quickly become taken as fact?
Part of the answer may be the topic of the pope’s talk to the crowd that day, which centered on the End Times and the transformation of all creation into a “new heaven” and a “new earth.” Citing St. Paul in the New Testament, Francis said that is not “the annihilation of the cosmos and of everything around us, but the bringing of all things into the fullness of being.”
The trail of digital bread crumbs then appears to lead to an Italian news report that extended Francis’ discussion of a renewed creation to the question of whether animals too will go to heaven.
“One day we will see our pets in the eternity of Christ,” the report quoted Paul VI as telling a disconsolate boy years ago.
The story was titled, somewhat misleadingly: “Paradise for animals? The Pope doesn’t rule it out.” It wasn’t clear which pope the writer meant, however.
The next day, Nov. 27, a story in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera by veteran Vaticanista Gian Guido Vecchi pushed the headline further: “The Pope and pets: “Paradise is open to all creatures.”
Vecchi faithfully recounted the pope’s talk about a new creation, and also cited Paul VI’s remark. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The final major battle in the West in the American Civil War, the two day battle of Nashville that commenced on December 15, 1864 ,was a decisive Union victory. Delayed by bad weather, Union general Thomas endured a steady stream of telegrams from Washington and Grant demanding that he attack. Thomas would not do so until he was ready. Grant, who had never had a good relationship with Thomas, decided to remove him, and only the knowledge that an attack was imminent stayed the decision:
I consequently urged Thomas in frequent dispatches sent from City Point to make the attack at once. The country was alarmed, the administration was alarmed, and I was alarmed lest the very thing would take place which I have just described that is, Hood would get north. It was all without avail further than to elicit dispatches from Thomas saying that he was getting ready to move as soon as he could, that he was making preparations, etc. At last I had to say to General Thomas that I should be obliged to remove him unless he acted promptly. He replied that he was very sorry, but he would move as soon as he could.
General Logan happening to visit City Point about that time, and knowing him as a prompt, gallant and efficient officer, I gave him an order to proceed to Nashville to relieve Thomas. I directed him, however, not to deliver the order or publish it until he reached there, and if Thomas had moved, then not to deliver it at all, but communicate with me by telegraph. After Logan started, in thinking over the situation, I became restless, and concluded to go myself. I went as far as Washington City, when a dispatch was received from General Thomas announcing his readiness at last to move, and designating the time of his movement. I concluded to wait until that time. He did move, and was successful from the start. This was on the 15th of December. General Logan was at Louisville at the time this movement was made, and telegraphed the fact to Washington, and proceeded no farther himself.
Heavily outnumbering the Confederates, Thomas planned to attack the exposed Confederate left while making feint attacks on the Confederate right. Hood was not fooled by the feint attacks and throughout the day sent reinforcements to the Confederate left. After hard fighting, Thomas took the five redoubts guarding the Confederate left.
The next day Thomas repeated his tactics, with attacks on the new Confederate left and feint attacks on the Confederate right. As the sun was going down, the Confederate left disintegrated and Thomas had won the battle. Thomas pursued Hood relentlessly until Hood crossed the Tennessee River on December 28. The Confederate Army of Tennessee was finished as an effective combat force. Confederate casualties were 6000 to 3000 Union. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
While the US debates the issue of torture against captured terrorists a decade ago, four new young Christian martyrs were created:
Go here to read the rest. Never fear, however, these young martyrs will be avenged:
An appeal was sent to the Pope from a three-day meeting attended by Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome, starting today. Mairead Corrigan Maguire spoke on behalf of Gorbachev, the Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa and Shrin Ebadi. Together with Betty Williams she received the prestigious award back in 1976, for the work she did to bring special and religious reconciliation in Northern Ireland. A devout Catholic, Maguire, could not help but mention the Holy See’s role on the international scene and the underlying doctrine that inspires its work.
“I would like to send out a special appeal to Pope Francis,” she said, asking “the Church to replace the theory of just war with a theology of peace and non-violence,” based on the commandment not to kill.” “Our Christian roots lie within Jesus’ non-violent approach,” Maguire recalled, referring to what American theologian John L. McKenzie said when he stated that anyone who reads the Scriptures knows that Christ did not have a streak of violence in him.
The Christian theology about just war, she argued, “tells people that they have the right to kill each other” “feeding them the myth of justified violence, militarism and war.” Hence, what “the world needs today is a clear and unequivocal message from Pope Francis and all spiritual leaders, to highlight that violence is never the way forward, it is never justified and always wrong.” “There are all sorts of different ways of countering injustice peacefully,” Maguire said. Pope Francis said this himself in his appeal “for justice without revenge”.
The military solution pursued by the West proved to be a total failure, the Nobel laureates said in their shared appeal. “An alternative solution is needed and that is genuine, inclusive and unconditional dialogue” which must not exclude anyone, not even “Islamic State fighters, the Taliban and all other groups that use violence.” The Nobel laureates agreed with Francis when he stressed that there needed to be dialogue with these groups: “Never close the door. It is difficult, you could say almost impossible, but the door is always open.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
In the footsteps of the Dumb Ox, we come to the Third Sunday in Advent:
Now, when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ,” &c. — S. Matt. xi. 2-4.
IN the preceding Gospel the Advent of Justice was treated of: in this Gospel the Advent of Grace is considered. Mention is here made of S. John Baptist, whose name is interpreted the grace of God; or, as he in whom the grace of God was. Four things are here spoken about S. John — (1) his imprisonment; (2) the question about the Advent of Christ by the disciples whom He sent; (3) the answer of the Lord; (4) the manifold commendation of John. He was praised chiefly on four accounts — (1) for the strength of his constancy; (2) for the rigour of his clothing; (3) for the dignity of his office; (4) for the holiness of his life. Firstly, when John had heard; secondly, “Who art thou;” thirdly, “Go and shew John again,” &c.; fourthly, “He began to say unto the multitudes concerning John.” And, again (1) of the commendation, “What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?” (2) “A man clothed in soft raiment.” (3) “Yea I say unto you, and more than a prophet.” (4) “This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before thy face,” &c. But afterwards it ought to be known concerning the bonds that three kinds of people are said to be in bonds. The godly are placed in the bonds of precepts; the impious, in the bonds of sinners; the condemned, in the bonds of the tormentors. Of the first, Ezekiel iv. 8, “Behold, I will lay bands upon thee.” Hos. xi. 4, “I drew them with the cords of a man; with bands of love.” Of the second, Prov. v. 22, “He shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” Isa. x. 4 (Vulgate), “That you be not bound down under the bond.” Of the third, Wisdom xvii. 2, “Fettered with the bonds of darkness.” S. Matt. xxii. 13, “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away and cast him into outer darkness.” The first bonds are to be sought for; the second bonds to be dissolved; and the third to be avoided. For three reasons the bonds of the teachers are to be embraced (1) because by them safety is obtained against all evil; (2) because he who is bound by them is protected by the wisdom of God; (3) because from them he goes forth to government. Of the first reason, Eccles. vi. 30, “Then shall her fetters be a strong defence.” Of the second reason, Wisdom x. 14, “And left him not in bonds.” Of the third reason, Eccles. iv. 14, “Because out of prison and chains sometimes a man cometh forth to a kingdom.” There are not only the bonds of preceptors to be embraced, but the bonds of sinners to be dissolved. For the sinner is bound with the chains of pride, of avarice, of luxury, and of an evil tongue. Of the first chain, Job xxxix. 5, “Who hath sent out the wild ass free? Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?” By the wild ass pride is understood. Job xi. 12, “For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt;” whence the bands of the wild ass are the bands of pride. Of the second chain, Isa. v. 18, “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity.” Riches are vanity. Of the third chain, Prov. viii. 22, “Immediately he followeth her as an ox led to be a victim, and not knowing that he is drawn like a fool to bonds,” (Vul.), for the hands of a woman are the bonds that draw. Ecc. vii. 27, “And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands.” These are the bonds that are to be dissolved. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
(I published this last year, and I am going to publish it each year before Christmas. It evokes sweet memories of Christmases past when my children were young.)
Francis Pharcellus Church was a newspaper man to his marrow. As a young man he had covered the Civil War for the New York Times and with his brother William he founded the Army and Navy Journal which dedicated itself to reporting news about the military forces of the United States, along with historical pieces on US military history, and opinion pieces about innovations or reforms in the military. It is still being published today.
After the War he served as lead editorial writer on his brother’s newspapers the New York Sun. He died in 1906 at 67, leaving behind no children. Although he lived a full life, he would be all but forgotten today except for one incident.
In 1897 Virginia O’Hanlon was upset. She was eight years old and some of her friends had been telling her that there was no Santa Claus. Her father, Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, suggested that she write to the Sun and see what that newspaper had to say. Virginia followed her advice and duly wrote the letter. Mr. Church wrote the reply to the letter which appeared on September 21, 1897 in the New York Sun.
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
A nice manic history of the Soviet Union and post Soviet Union a la the game Tetris. Studying the history of Russia has explained to me why it is no mystery that so many Russians are so fond of vodka.
I humbly ask for prayers for the healing of a dear friend of mine who is battling cancer. Over the years her family and many other people, including me, have depended upon her strength, drive and kindness. She has a firm faith in God and is meeting her health crisis with incredible optimism and cheerfulness. Let’s see if we cannot storm Heaven to help her. I thank you for your consideration of this request.