PopeWatch: Celibacy

 

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From the latest La Repubblica interview:

 

Asked whether priests might one day be allowed to marry, Francis pointed out celibacy was instituted ’900 years after Our Lord’s death’ and that clerics can marry in some Eastern Churches under Vatican tutelage.’There definitely is a problem but it is not a major one. This needs time but there are solutions and I will find them,’ Francis said, without giving further details. Continue reading

October 12, 1915: Theodore Roosevelt Addresses the Knights of Columbus

Death had to take him in his sleep, for if he was awake there’d have been a fight.

Remark of Charles Marshall, Vice President of the United States, upon hearing of the death of Theodore Roosevelt

 

On October 12, 1915, Columbus Day, that force of nature Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech to the Knights of Columbus in New York City.  Roosevelt packed so many lives into his 60 years: historian, reformer, rancher, politician, Undersecretary of the Navy, soldier, Governor of New York, President, explorer, naturalist, etc. In 1915 his crusade was to rouse America into readiness if it should become necessary to fight Germany and to instill in the American people a sense of unity and patriotism.  He wanted this nation of immigrants to understand that they were Americans and he wanted no talk of hyphenated Americans.  Many of the important issues of his day translate poorly to our time, and Roosevelt took positions which would inspire, and offend, virtually every segment of the contemporary American political spectrum.  This speech however does have a contemporary ring to it, and if I had been present I suspect that I would have come close to wearing out my hands madly applauding most of it. Here is the text of the speech:

 

FOUR centuries and a quarter have gone by since Columbus by discovering America opened the greatest era in world history. Four centuries have passed since the Spaniards began that colonization on the main land which has resulted in the growth of the nations of Latin-America. Three centuries have passed since, with the settlements on the coasts of Virginia and Massachusetts, the real history of what is now the United States began. All this we ultimately owe to the action of an Italian seaman in the service of a Spanish King and a Spanish Queen. It is eminently fitting that one of the largest and most influential social organizations of this great Republic, a Republic in which the tongue is English, and the blood derived from many sources, should, in its name, commemorate the great Italian. It is eminently fitting to make an address on Americanism before this society.

DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES

We of the United States need above all things to remember that, while we are by blood and culture kin to each of the nations of Europe, we are also separate from each of them. We are a new and -distinct nationality. We are developing our own distinctive culture and civilization, and the worth of this civilization will largely depend upon our determination to keep it distinctively our own. Our sons and daughters should be educated here and not abroad. We should freely take from every other nation whatever we can make of use, but we should adopt and develop to our own peculiar needs what we thus take, and never be content merely to copy.

Our nation was founded to perpetuate democratic principles. These principles are that each man is to be treated on his worth as a man without regard to the land from which his forefathers came and without regard to the creed which he professes. If the United States proves false to these principles of civil and religious liberty, it will have inflicted the greatest blow on the system of free popular government that has ever been inflicted. Here we have had a virgin continent on which to try the experiment of making out of divers race stocks a new nation and of treating all the citizens of that nation in such a fashion as to preserve them equality of opportunity in industrial, civil, and/ political life. Our duty is to secure each man against any injustice by his fellows. Continue reading

Bastille Day and the Transformative Power of History

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(I originally posted this in 2012.  I rather liked this post, so here it is again.)

 

The La Marseillaise scene from Casablanca.  Today is Bastille Day, the great national holiday in France, the equivalent of our Independence Day.  In France it is known as La Fête Nationale, the National Celebration, or Le quatorze juillet, the fourteenth of July, rather like Independence Day is often known here as the Fourth of July.  There the similarities end.  Although almost all Americans look back at the American Revolution with pride, many of us dedicated to the great truths embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution is looked upon much more ambiguously in France.

Bastille Day recalls an event July 14, 1789 in which the mob of Paris, joined by mutinous French troops, stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris which had in the past held political prisoners.  The Bastille fell to the mob after a fight in which some ninety-eight attackers and one defender were killed.  After the fighting, in an ominous sign of what was to come in the French Revolution, the mob massacred the governor of the prison and seven of the defenders.  The Bastille held a grand total of seven inmates at the time of its fall, none of political significance.

So began the Revolution which promised Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in theory and delivered in practice, Tyranny, Wars and Death, with France embarked on a witches’ dance of folly which would end at Waterloo, after almost a quarter of a century of war which would leave Europe drenched in blood.  Edmund Burke at the beginning of this madness, in 1790, saw clearly where all this would lead:

Continue reading

Liberation Unless You Are Unborn or Cuban

 

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Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report has an interesting post on a liberation theologian:

 

 

Former Catholic priest and liberation theologian Mike Rivage-Seul, who directed Berea College’s Peace and Social Justice Studies Program until his retirement, wrote a poem of sorts about his reaction to Americans standing up and cheering the homecoming of a Marine from Iraq.

In it, he compared the U.S. military to the Nazi S.S. and to the Roman persecutors of Christ. He also called them names like “robo-grunts” and then said we should be kind and merciful to all. Go figure.

Here it is:

Two weeks ago/ Between innings/ Of a Cubs-Pirates game/ At Wrigley Field/ They celebrated a Marine from Iraq — A local boy/ Who emerged from the Cubs’ dugout/ Waving/ To a hero’s welcome/ From a crowd on its feet/ Cheering/ Between swigs of PBR/ As if the poor kid had hit/ A game-winning dinger.

Reluctantly I stood up with the rest./ I now regret my applause./ I should have remembered shaved-headed/ Brain-washed innocents/ Kicking in front doors/ Profaning the sacred portals/ Of everyman’s castle,/ Petrifying children/ Calling their parents “mother f_ _kers”/ And binding tender wrists/ With plastic handcuffs./ To rid the world of evil.

Pitiful lobotomized innocents,/ They are/ Driven to slaughter by poverty/ And debt/ To Haditha, Fallujah, Abu Grahib,/ To weddings transformed in a flash and bang/ Into funerals/ Leaving mourners shocked and awed — “Collateral Murder,”/ By what King called/ The world’s “greatest purveyor of violence”/ And the Sandinista hymn identified as / “The enemy of mankind.”

I should have remembered/ Iraq (and Afghanistan btw)/ Were wars of choice, Of aggression,/ “The supreme international crime.”

Why did I not recall Zechariah? / And the peace-making Messiah / Christians claim he prophesied./ The prophet’s Promised One would be/ Gentle and meek/ Riding an ass/ Rather than a war horse

Or Humvee/ And banishing chariots, cross-bows/ And drones raining hell-fire/ From the skies./ His kingdom disarmed/ Would encompass the entire world./ Refusing to call/ Any of God’s “little ones” (To use our military’s terms of art) “Rag-heads” or “Desert ni_ ggers” / Paul called such imperial hate-speech “flesh.” /(Judging by appearances like skin color, nationality, religion)

“Live according to Christ’s Spirit,” Paul urged. (Compassion for all, works of mercy) No room for door-kickers there.

I should have remembered Jesus And his yoke./ So good and light/ He said Compared with The heavy burdens The Roman War-makers Laid on their subjects Who kicked in Nazareth’s doors And called parents like Joseph and Mary “Mother f_cking Jews.”

Their imperial generals were “learned” and “wise” In the ways of the world But they piled crushing burdens On the shoulders Of those “little ones”

Jesus preferred — In places far from the imperial center/ Like Palestine (or Iraq today)./ Victims there might be out of sight And mind/ For those enjoying bread, circuses/ Cubs and Pirates, But not for the All Parent Described by the Psalmist today

As gracious, merciful, slow to anger, hugely kind, benevolent to all, compassionate, faithful, holy, and lifting up (rather than crushing) those who have fallen under the weight of the burdens Jesus decries.

I should have asked, If following that Messiah If worshipping that All Parent Allowed standing and applauding A robo-grunt returned From a war Where over a million civilians have been slaughtered To rid the world of violence.

(In 1942 would I have joined the crowd Applauding an S.S. “hero” in a Munich stadium Just back from the front –or Auschwitz? Or a pilot who had bombed Pearl Harbor At a “Wrigley Field” in Tokyo?)

No: I should have had the courage To remain seated. And so should we all Instead of

Celebrating the military/ Waving flags on the 4th of July/ Paying war taxes/ And wondering with Fox newscasters What makes America great?

Intrigued by this outburst of jejune  far leftism, I wondered what else I could find out about this gentleman.  Well, it will come as absolutely no surprise that he is a pro-abort:

Embracing children like the one Jesus held doesn’t mean legally restricting abortions beyond Roe v. Wade. Neither does it mean “tough love,” nor forcing impoverished mothers to bring their children to term and then telling them “You’re on your own.” Rather, embracing poor children – truly being pro-life – means creating a welcoming atmosphere that receives children as we would receive the Jesus who identifies with them in today’s gospel. Yes, it suggests supporting those “Big Government” programs that work so well elsewhere.

Remember all of that when you hear your pastor’s sermon on abortion this Sunday. Continue reading

Get Lots of Cats Instead

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A 36 year old married writer at Slate, appropriately named Rebecca Onion, is hearing her biological clock ticking loudly and is wondering if she should now have a kid.  However, she is concerned because she suspects that the kid will make massive changes in her life.  Her solution is hilarious:

 

 

So what’s the solution? People get prenups. What about drawing up a pre-pregnancy contract? (Not, under any circumstances, to be called a “prepup,” as my husband joked.) Wouldn’t a not-at-all legally binding document, outlining expectations and setting a course for periodic re-examination of the division of labor, alleviate my fears, and prevent aggravation, or fights, or divorce, in the future?

I find that any number of life challenges are more palatable when drained of their emotional content through quantification. Terrifying deadline? Take a realistic look at the number of work hours available before filing, and divide the work into those chunks. Feeling disorganized? Make inventories of the things we have in the storage space. My husband would naturally adopt a much more spontaneous approach to our daily life, but it’s that very looseness that worries me; in a “spontaneous” household, I observe, work tends to revert to the less spontaneous person, who is often the person who’s culturally expected to carry it out. Above all, there’s no such thing as “natural” when it comes to domestic arrangements. A baby would seriously increase the need for planning in our house. Why not start now?

There is a list of things I’d want if we had a kid. I’m a writer with a very flexible schedule—just the kind of mom whose work time gets bitten into when a child care crisis arises. Could I ask for a guarantee that I could have six (seven? eight?) hours a day to myself, for work, no matter how inconvenient that arrangement gets for him? Could I stipulate that he would need to be done with work at 6 or 7 p.m., rather than his current workaholic quitting time of 9:30 or 10—again, no matter what mitigating factors might arise? Could we acknowledge the unfair cultural expectation that allows fathers to take time for leisure, while denying the privilege to mothers, and try to change that in our own lives through planning? Could I ask for him to learn to cook and shop for groceries, so we could split that 11-hour-a-week burden?

 

 

Continue reading

Before National Catholic Register Pulls It

hear-see-speak-no-evil-229493A great Pat Archbold post at National Catholic Register on the most recent papal interview:

The internet is once again abuzz with the second-hand hearsay of an unrecorded Papal interview.

Pope Francis once again (the third time by my estimation) has given an unrecorded interview to known atheist Eugenio Scalfari in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. And once again we have “shocking” quotes from the Pope that are impossible to substantiate.

And once again we have Vatican Spokesman stating that the ‘non-interview’ interview authentically “captures the spirit of the conversation,” but that the interviewer in the non-interview is a scheming to “manipulate some naïve readers” with inaccurate quotes in his accurate interview.

So let’s bottom line this.  The interview is accurate, but don’t you dare attribute any quotes in the accurate interview to the Pope, because…inaccurate or something.  Oh, and you can’t trust that Scalfari guy because he manipulates readers for his own nefarious ends, that is why the Pope allowed himself to be interviewed by Scalfari for the third time with no recording.  And of course this statement has no actual quotes of the Pope denying or accepting any quotes.

Great statement.  It contains all the clarity and precision for which the Church is known for these days.

So here are the things to know and share.  Nothing. Nada, Zip. Thank you Fr. Lombardi.

So pay no attention to those crazy and outlandish anti-Catholic headlines tearing up your RSS feed.  Just ignore them and hope they will soon go away, just like unrecorded Papal interviews. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Lombardi

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Pope Francis has given another interview to the owner of La Repubblica, the ninety year old Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist, who apparently doesn’t take notes during interviews and has a bad memory.  More during the week about the substance of the interview, but the most interesting thing about it is the statement concerning the interview by Vatican press flack Father Federico Lombardi:

 

Regarding the long article published on Sunday in ‘La Repubblica’, Father Federico Lombardi SJ, Director of the Vatican Press Office, released a communiqué with a series of remarks.

Pointing out that the conversation between the Pope and Scalfari is extremely cordial and friendly in tone, it is very interesting and contains issues like the wound of sexual abuse against minors and the attitude of the Church towards the mafia.

Lombardi says that, just as in other similar occasions, Scalfari quotes the Pope’s words using quotation marks; however – he points out – Scalfari relies only on memory as the conversation is not transcribed or recorded, nor does the Pope check or revise the article before it is published. 

Therefore, Lombardi says, one must not consider it an “interview” in the habitual sense of the word as the journalist’s questions and the Pope’s answers are not related “word for word”. In this regard one must be especially careful, he continues, regarding some “quotes” that seem to affirm there are cardinals amongst the pedophiles, and that the Pope says he will find solutions regarding the celibacy of priests.

Lombardi points out that reading the article published in ‘La Repubblica’, these statements are clearly attributed to the Pope, but – curiously – the quotation marks are opened at the beginning of the paragraph and never closed… “A lapse of memory or an explicit acknowledgement the naïf reader is being manipulated?” Continue reading

July 14, 1864: Battle of Tupelo

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General Nathan Bedford Forrest did not lose many battles during the Civil War, and the battle of Tupelo is one of the handful he lost.  After his masterpiece of Brice’s Cross Roads, go here to read about it, Forrest was regarded as a potential mortal threat to the supply lines of Sherman.  Major General Andrew C. Smith was sent out from La Grange, Tennessee on July 5, 1864 with a Union force of 14,000 men.  His mission was to find Forrest and defeat him, and thereby prevent him from staging raids into middle Tennessee to cut Sherman’s supplies.  On July 11, 1864 Smith was in Pontotoc, Mississippi.  Forrest was nearby at Okolona, Mississippi, and was under orders from his commander Stephen D. Lee not to engage Smith until Lee reinforced him.  On July 13, Smith became apprehensive of an ambush and marched his force to Tupelo, Mississippi and took up a defensive position.

Lee having reinforced Forrest, on July 14, beginning at 7:30 AM, Lee launched a series of uncoordinated attacks with his force of 8,000, all of which were bloodily repulsed.  Lee halted the attacks after a few hours.  Forrest would attack again,  once in the evening and once on the morning of the 15th, both attacks being repulsed.  Smith attempted no pursuit, for which he was heavily criticized,  and on July 15 retreated himself back to Memphis, pursued by Forrest. Smith did accomplish his goal of stopping Forrest from raiding into Tennessee and he was now a member of the exclusive, and minute, club of Union commanders who defeated Forrest in battle.  Union casualties were 648 to 1300 Confederate.

Here is Forrest’s report of the battle: Continue reading

Chicago Refugees

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During World War II American soldiers from Illinois, when they mentioned they were from the Sucker State to a foreigner, would usually have the person making tommy gun shooting motions in response, since the only thing they knew about Illinois was that it had Chicago in it, and the only thing they knew about the city of broad shoulders and narrow brains was Al Capone.  Chicago and crime have gone together like the Cubs and losing for a very long time indeed.   Father Z notes that this long time association is becoming very troublesome indeed:

 

I saw this astonishing and yet not at all surprising piece by Rich Lowry.

But will anything useful be done about this?  Who wants to bet?

Chicago suffering social meltdown

For most of the country, July Fourth weekend means hot dogs, fireworks and relaxing time with family. In certain neighborhoods in Chicago, it means something very different. For the second year running, Chicago saw a spate of violence over the long holiday weekend that would generate headlines if it happened in Kabul.

“It’s Groundhog Day here in Chicago” is how Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy put it. This year, the tally of shame was more than 80 people shot and 14 killed. Last year, a slightly longer July Fourth weekend — the holiday fell on a Thursday — saw 75 people shot and 12 fatalities.

The astonishing numbers underline how Chicago, despite recent progress on crime, is still a byword for gunplay and urban chaos. It is a city where life, at least among young men living in the most dangerous neighborhoods, is cheap.

Chicago’s killings can’t readily be interpreted through a racial prism, so they don’t provoke gales of outrage from the nation’s opinion-makers. Only very rarely do they become national causes, as in the heartbreaking case of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, shot to death shortly after performing at President Barack Obama’s inauguration last year.

Chicago saw its homicides soar from roughly 430 in 2011 to more than 500 in 2012, before it got them back down below 2011 levels last year, thanks to more aggressive policing. They are running slightly lower again this year, although they are still higher than in New York City, even though Chicago is a third of the size.

Why is Chicago the nation’s murder capital? [BTW... Honduras, where Card. Rodriguez Maradiaga is prelate, is apparently the murder capital of the world.] Its officials always want [pointlessly] to talk about gun laws, and Superintendent McCarthy complained about their laxity after the latest shootings. This is bizarre, since Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, and has been slapped down in the courts for trampling on the Second Amendment in its zeal to make it all but impossible to own guns. Chicago is a running illustration of the cliche that if you ban guns, only criminals will own them. [Exactly.]

Gun laws are beside the point. The tony Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park could have the same laws as gun-friendly Vermont and it would still be extremely safe. What Chicago is suffering from is not a random citywide phenomenon, but a specific, highly concentrated one.

Overall, according to Chicago magazine, the rate of nonfatal gunshot injury in Chicago was 46.5 per 100,000 from 2006 to 2012. But it was only 1.62 per 100,000 for whites. For blacks, it was 112.83 per 100,000. For black males, 239.77, and for black males aged 18-34, 599.65, or “a staggering one in 200.

A study by sociologist Andrew Papachristos shows that the shootings overwhelmingly occur among a small network of criminal offenders.

Chicago is grappling with the profound social breakdown of certain neighborhoods, where the two-parent family has been obliterated and where, too often, young men consider lawlessness the norm. It is here, as Heather Mac Donald of City Journal writes, that gang members define themselves not by “family, or academic accomplishments or interests, but ruthless fealty to small, otherwise indistinguishable, pieces of territory.”

Continue reading

Franciscan Paratrooper

Father Ignatius Maternowski

For love of Him they ought to expose themselves to enemies both visible and invisible.

Saint Francis of Assisi

Ignatius Maternowski entered this Vale of Tears on March 28, 1912, in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the son of Polish immigrants  He attended, appropriately enough, Saint Francis High School.  Impressed by the Franciscans he encountered there, he decided to become a Franciscan priest.  He was ordained to the priesthood on July 3, 1938.  His gift for preaching manifesting itself, he was assigned as a missionary-preacher at the friary of Saint Anthony of Padua in Elicott City, Maryland.

From the time of Pearl Harbor he sought permission to serve as a chaplain and in July 1942 he enlisted in the Army.  He served as a chaplain in the 508th regiment of the 82nd Airborne.  In the aftermath of the chaotic combat drop into Normandy on the night before D-Day, Captain Maternowski busied himself in tending both American and German wounded. Continue reading

Pope Francis, Pentecostals and Art Deco

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The contemporary papacy sometimes seems to spend more time in apologizing for Catholicism than in engaging in apologetics for Catholicism.  Case in point:

 

 

 

Pope Francis mentioned his plan to make a Sunday visit to a Pentecostal church in late June when he met a group of evangelical pastors and televangelists at his Vatican residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Brian Stiller of the World Evangelical Alliance, who was present at the meeting, wrote about the encounter on his Facebook page and on a blog.

“We talked about Christians marginalised, pressed under the weight of government power or the majority presence of other faiths,” Stiller wrote. “He listened and then told a remarkable story. In his years in and out of Rome, he became friends with the pastor of a Pentecostal church in Rome. In time he came to learn that the church and pastor felt the power and presence of the Catholic Church, with its weighty presence, obstructing their desire to grow and be a witness. ‘So,’ he said, ‘this July I will preach in his church on a Sunday and offer an apology from my Church for the hurt it has brought to their congregation.’”

Fr Lombardi said the Pentecostal friend the Pope was referring to was Mr Traettino. The spokesman did not comment on the rest of Mr Stiller’s account, other than to say the expected visit to Caserta would be “extremely simple and quick – just for the morning”.

Go here to read the rest.  Steve Skojec is on the story.  Go here to read his post.  I was struck by this comment left by Art Deco in Steve’s post:

“an apology from my church for the hurt it has brought to their congregation.”

Pentacostalism hardly existed prior to 1903 and was until about 40 years ago a North American phenomenon. Has he found some obscure incident where a
minion of Maurice duPlessis was big meanie? Will the Pentacostal congregation in question apologize for Ernest Angely’s burlesques?

Such a root canal this man… Continue reading

Agree With Me, Or You Are Not Really Pro-life

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Mark Shea is back to his old trick of saying that unless you agree with me on policy issue x which is not directly related to abortion, you are not really pro-life.  It is an attempt to stop debate on policy issue x, at least among pro-lifers.  Mike Gannon at Pocketful of Liberty takes the argument apart:

 

This past Tuesday over at Patheos, Mark Shea, noted gadfly of Catholics and other Christians who come down on the small government side of the aisle, authored a post that started out with the provocative assertion “If we oppose abortion and social safety nets, we don’t really oppose abortion.”

Balderdash, I say!

Now, that’s a qualified balderdash, as I explain below. Mark Shea is a complicated thinker who is usually worth giving a second look (halfway through the piece he denounces the idolatry of the individual and the state in the same breath, demonstrating the difficulty one has at putting him neatly into this or that political box). Nonetheless, in this piece Shea falls victim to the temptation to cast aspersions on fellow pro-lifers who at the same time harbor serious concerns about the scope of our modern welfare state.

It’s a cheap trick that is all too common in political discourse to attempt to strong-arm a fellow traveler into lockstep with one’s own preferred platform by questioning their commitment to the cause if they disagree over tactics or emphases. Continue reading

Mercedes and Food Stamps

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The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel.

Horace Walpole

In the unintentionally hilarious humor category we have the article by Darlena Cunha, a former television producer, which appeared in the Washington Post about how irked she felt when she was judged by people as she drove up in her 2003 Mercedes to pick up her food stamps.

That’s the funny thing about being poor. Everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone feels entitled to share. That was especially true about my husband’s Mercedes. Over and over again, people asked why we kept that car, offering to sell it in their yards or on the Internet for us.

“You can’t be that bad off,” a distant relative said, after inviting himself over for lunch. “You still got that baby in all its glory.”

Sometimes, it was more direct. All from a place of love, of course. “Sell the Mercedes,” a friend said to me. “He doesn’t get to keep his toys now.”

But it wasn’t a toy — it was paid off. My husband bought that car in full long before we met. Were we supposed to trade it in for a crappier car we’d have to make payments on? Only to have that less reliable car break down on us? Continue reading

PopeWatch: Brazil

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

 

“From the beautiful beaches of its coast along the Atlantic to its lush rain forest surrounding the Amazon River, the Almighty harbors a deep and serious hatred for the country of Brazil,” said St. Gabriel the Archangel, Press Secretary of the Kingdom of Heaven since the resignation of Jay Carney earlier this year. “The Trinitarian Godhead, who is infinite both in His Justice and His Mercy, just plain old doesn’t like the place, and for some reason contained in His Mysterious Providence, wishes for its people nothing but bitter sadness in their life. That is why he allowed Brazil to suffer such a bitter and humiliating loss to the German National Team.”

The Archangel explained, however, that this hatred is “not in any way” toward the souls of the Brazilian people, and His Salvific Grace is always poured out to them. “It’s not that the Alpha/Omega desires their eternal torment; He wishes that all men be saved. But in this temporal life, the Creator simply wants them to suffer with terrible agony.”

St. Gabriel reassured the public that Brazil is not alone in the Almighty’s hatred. “I know that the lands of Haiti and Iraq are definitely up there as well.” When asked about the city of Detroit, the archangel abruptly announced, “This press conference is over.”

When asked to comment Pope Francis said, That is a relief!  After Kirchner was elected President I assumed God hated Argentina.

Continue reading

La Marseillaise and Edith Piaf

 

Something for the weekend.  Rushing Bastille Day a bit, we have Edith Piaf, as a child in a film about her life, singing the French National Anthem.

Without a doubt the greatest French songstress of the last century,  Piaf led a life of tortured immorality, and yet she, by her own account, was  the beneficiary of a miracle.  From three to seven she was blind as a result of keratitis.  She was cured when the prostitutes of her grandmother, who ran a brothel, contributed money to send her on a pilgrimage honoring Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.  On her deathbed, dying an agonizing death of liver cancer at age 47, she had a last moment of moral clarity when her final words were uttered:   “Every damn fool thing you do in this life, you pay for.”  May she now be enjoying in the next world the peace that eluded her in this.

My favorite Piaf song is “Non, je ne regrette rien” (No, I regret nothing) which she dedicated to the French Foreign Legion.  When the First Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment surrendered after their involvement in the failed coup attempt against the government of Charles de Gaulle in 1961, they marched out of their barracks singing this song:

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It is of course impossible for me to have a post in which La Marseillaise is mentioned without including this clip: Continue reading

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