Something for the weekend. Ye Cavaliers of Dixie, sung by Bobby Horton who has fought a one man crusade to bring Civil War music to modern audiences. Written by Benjamin F. Porter, the song was a riff on the popular song Ye Mariners of England.
The King looked up, and what he saw
Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.
One instant in a still light
He saw Our Lady then,
Her dress was soft as western sky,
And she was a queen most womanly—
But she was a queen of men.
Over the iron forest
He saw Our Lady stand,
Her eyes were sad withouten art,
And seven swords were in her heart—
But one was in her hand.
GK Chesterton, Ballad of the White Horse
And he saw in a little picture,
Tiny and far away,
His mother sitting in Egbert’s hall,
And a book she showed him, very small,
Where a sapphire Mary sat in stall
With a golden Christ at play.
It was wrought in the monk’s slow manner,
From silver and sanguine shell,
Where the scenes are little and terrible,
Keyholes of heaven and hell.
In the river island of Athelney,
With the river running past,
In colours of such simple creed
All things sprang at him, sun and weed,
Till the grass grew to be grass indeed
And the tree was a tree at last.
Fearfully plain the flowers grew,
Like the child’s book to read,
Or like a friend’s face seen in a glass;
He looked; and there Our Lady was,
She stood and stroked the tall live grass
As a man strokes his steed.
Her face was like an open word
When brave men speak and choose,
The very colours of her coat
Were better than good news.
She spoke not, nor turned not,
Nor any sign she cast,
Only she stood up straight and free,
Between the flowers in Athelney,
And the river running past.
One dim ancestral jewel hung
On his ruined armour grey,
He rent and cast it at her feet:
Where, after centuries, with slow feet,
Men came from hall and school and street
And found it where it lay.
“Mother of God,” the wanderer said,
“I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
To see a secret thing.
“The gates of heaven are fearful gates
Worse than the gates of hell;
Not I would break the splendours barred
Or seek to know the thing they guard,
Which is too good to tell.
“But for this earth most pitiful,
This little land I know,
If that which is for ever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss,
Seeing the stranger go?
“When our last bow is broken, Queen,
And our last javelin cast,
Under some sad, green evening sky,
Holding a ruined cross on high,
Under warm westland grass to lie,
Shall we come home at last?”
And a voice came human but high up,
Like a cottage climbed among
The clouds; or a serf of hut and croft
That sits by his hovel fire as oft,
But hears on his old bare roof aloft
A belfry burst in song.
“The gates of heaven are lightly locked,
We do not guard our gain,
The heaviest hind may easily
Come silently and suddenly
Upon me in a lane. Continue reading
Truly we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own the lamentation of the Prophet: “There is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). Yet in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man.
Pope Saint Pius X
The Conclave of 1903 was a highly unusal one. The first Conclave to occur within the glare of modern media, the proceedings leaked like a sieve to eager waiting journalists, so much so that after this Conclave Pope Pius decreed that participants were to take an oath of silence as to the proceedings of all future conclaves.
The front runner was Cardinal Mariano Rampolla, Leo XIII’s Secretary of State. He would almost certainly have been chosen Pope by the Conclave but for the exercise of the Austrian veto by a Polish Cardinal at the behest of Austrian Emperor Franz Josef. (Three Catholic powers had traditionally claimed a right of vetoes in conclaves: the King of France, the King of Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor. Contemporary Catholics who sigh for Catholic confessional states are often bone ignorant as to how much traditional Catholic confessional states interfered in the operation of the Church.) Why the veto was used remains a mystery. The Cardinals met the use of the veto with outrage, but its use stopped Rampolla as a viable candidate. After the election of Pope Pius, he banned the use of vetoes in any future conclaves. Continue reading
In late July Northern newspapers were filled with the raids into the North being staged by Jubal Early and his corps in the Shenandoah Valley. In order to distract Lee from sending reinforcements to Early, Grant decided to make another attempt on Richmond at the sector named Deep Bottom north of the James River. (Grant had just made a similar attempt at Deep Bottom to divert Confederate attention just before the mine explosion of the battle of the Crater. Go here to read about the first battle of Deep Bottom.) As in the first battle of Deep Bottom, Hancock’s corps crossed to the north side of the James, with hard fighting on August 14-20. Hancock could not make any substantial headway and withdrew south of the James on the night of the 20th. Union casualties were 2,889 -1500 Confederates.
Here is Grant’s account of this operation in his Personal Memoirs: Continue reading
I have always been struck by the Lyceum speech made by Abraham Lincoln at age 28 in Springfield, Illinois on January 27, 1838. It was a complex meditation on a topic that is very relevent to our own day: how Americans are to retain what the Founding Fathers bequeathed them: a free nation. Lincoln understood that the essential threat to our free society was not external but internal:
How then shall we perform it?–At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?– Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
Lincoln knew that the memory of what the Founding Fathers accomplished over time would fade. He would be saddened, but not surprised, that in the third century of the Republic our schools spend little time teaching our children about the Revolution, and instead spend a great deal of time in indoctrinating children in the fashionable, and often pernicious, political shibboleths of our day. A people cannot love what they have forgotten, and if I had to put my finger upon one factor that has most contributed to the current problems we face, it is a collective ignorance, almost an amnesia, about our past, among a majority of Americans. Lincoln’s closing passage served as a warning in his day, and it is even more relevant in our own: Continue reading
In today’s news, the Vatican seems to be entertaining the notion of condoning military force in Iraq to stem the tide of Christian persecution at the hands of “The Islamic State” ["IS"], (formerly known as “ISIS”). John Allen Jr. explains:
For anyone familiar with the Vatican’s recent history of bitter opposition to any US use of military force in the Middle East, Rome’s increasingly vocal support for the recent American airstrikes in Iraq may seem, to say the least, a little disorienting.
On Monday, the Vatican’s previously tacit approval for the American intervention turned explicit, as two senior officials offered what amounts to a blessing through official communications channels.
Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the pope’s ambassador to Baghdad, told Vatican radio that the American strikes are “something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State forces] could not be stopped.” …
In a similar vein, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, told Vatican Radio that “military action in this moment is probably necessary.”
Coming from the Vatican’s prior adoption of a functionally-pacifist and “abolitionist” stance on military action in modern times, this is huge. Compare the above with Cardinal Martino (of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace)’s declaration in the National Catholic Register, circa 2003:
Question: “Are you suggesting there is no such thing as a just war anymore?”
Archbishop Martino: “Absolutely. I think with modern weaponry, there is no proportionality between the offense and the reply. It makes much more damage. War is so destructive now. It is not just a fight between one person and another.”
But what’s the reason for this sudden “about face”? Continue reading
A nice spoof by Andrew Klavan of the demonization of white Christian men that seems to be an essential feature of the contemporary left in this country. What was started by the Founding Fathers, as pointed out by Lincoln in the stirring quote below, was to free us from looking at people as groups instead of as what we truly are: children of a loving God who endowed each of us with unalienable rights:
These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. [Applause.] Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children’s children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began — so that truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land; so that no man would hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles on which the temple of liberty was being built.
Abraham Lincoln, August 17, 1858
Over at The Catholic Thing, Brad Miner posts a fantasy discussion between a Catholic man and a divorced Catholic woman who has announced she is getting remarried. The gist of it is that a priest—Fr. Blithe—has told the woman that the remarriage is fine. Moreover, he will witness it at St. Brendan’s. The Catholic man will have nothing of it, and tells her so. Or, better, he re-catechizes the woman about Church teaching—the “rules.” She concludes, “That is so unfair!”
The scene aptly describes the situation confronting the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops this October concerning marriage and family.
Reading numerous websites—including the National Catholic Reporter and The Wanderer—to get the full spectrum of what Catholics are thinking about the Synod, Miner’s post identifies what appear to be the fault lines. On the one side, there are those who hope the Synod will change Church teaching. These are the forces of pastoral reform who feel angry because the Church is being “so unfair.” On the other side, there are those arguing that Church teaching must not and cannot change.
Unfortunately, many view the matter of marriage and family as well as the division among Catholics as a political matter, in particular, where theology and ecclesiology interface. They would have the division dealt with and solved politically, not as a rupture in the Church that requires healing. Empathy for the plight and feelings people have as a result of their freely-made commitments—important as it is and as is required within the Christian community—may make people feel better. But, it doesn’t bring healing. After all, empathy for a Stage 1 cancer patient doesn’t keep the cancer from spreading.
That is where Miner’s post is extremely important.
At first read, some (and more likely, many) Catholics will be offended by this Catholic man’s patient, persistent, and sound catechesis and will not empathize with him. Instead, they will attack his character, lack of compassion, as well as his fundamental lack of awareness. “After all,” they will argue, “the times have changed.” One can easily imagine someone asking the Catholic man: “Just who do you think you are to tell this poor woman how to live her life? Fr. Blithe has it exactly right because he cares for her like Jesus cared for sinners.”
The trouble is that Fr. Blithe has it all wrong. Moreover, he has allowed empathy to trump his role and responsibilities, at least, according to Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In an interview soon to be published in The Hope of the Family, Cardinal Mueller takes the Fr. Blithes of the world to task, unloading an arsenal of arguments in support of the indissolubility of marriage. He argues, in particular, that indissolubility of marriage is no mere doctrine that’s subject to change, but a divine and definitive dogma of the Church that’s unchangeable. What the Cardinal intimates is necessary is not a political solution but a cure for the division that exists. That requires recover the sacramental understanding of marriage and family.
To that end, Cardinal Mueller lays all of his cards on the table in that interview. According to the interview as reported by The Wanderer, Cardinal Mueller seeks:
- to correct any misunderstanding about the Church’s teaching on family;
- to underscore the dramatic situation of the children of separated parents; and,
- to stress that more education is needed and that education should start from the reality of the love of God.
Okay, that’s all fine. But, that doesn’t respond directly to the Church’s Fr. Blithes. Not backing off, Cardinal Mueller states:
- Of Fr. Blithe’s argument that the Church should allow spouses to “start life over again” and that the love between two persons may die: “These theories are radically mistaken.” After all, “One cannot declare a marriage to be extinct on the pretext that the love between the spouses is ‘dead’,” because “the indissolubility of marriage does not depend on human sentiments, whether permanent or transitory. This property of marriage is intended by God Himself. The Lord is involved in marriage between man and woman, which is why the bond exists and has its origin in God. This is the difference.”
- Of Fr. Blithe’s mistaken social notions about marriage that result from individualism: “In a world that is angrily individualistic and subjectivist, marriage is not perceived anymore as an opportunity for the human being to achieve his completeness, sharing love.”
- Of Fr. Blithe’s failure to prepare couples adequately for marriage: More in-depth education about marriage, including “remote preparation for marriage — from infancy and adolescence — should be a major pastoral and educational priority.”
- Of Fr. Blithe’s mistaken notion of the virtue of justice: “[A]mong the poor of the Third and Fourth World,” those relegated to the “existential peripheries,” there are “the children who must grow up without their parents,” the “orphans of divorce,” who are perhaps “the poorest of the poor of the world.” These poorest of the poor, these orphans of divorce, are most often found, not in materially impoverished nations, but in Europe and North America—some of the world’s wealthiest places
What advice Cardinal Mueller might have for Fr. Blithe?
As a shepherd, I say to myself: It can’t be! We must tell people the truth! We should open their eyes, telling them they have been cowardly tricked through a false anthropology which can only lead to disaster.
Now, none of that’s very empathetic.
Or, is it?
Cardinal Muller said: “[W]e should above all speak about the authentic love and the concrete project which Christ has for every person.”
Is it authentic love to withhold the truth from a spouse?
In the end, Brad Miner’s catechetical efforts are doing more to promote healing than are Fr. Blithe’s efforts to make the divorced woman feel good by arranging a sham marriage ceremony at St. Brendan’s.
To read Brad Miner’s discussion over at The Catholic Thing, click on the following link:
To read about Cardinal Mueller’s interview in The Wanderer, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
Back when I was a boy, I watched entirely too much television. Of course, who could blame me? Tempted by a luxuriant three, count them, three channels, albeit one of them fuzzy in bad weather, to choose from! However, I do not regret watching the Early Show on Channel 3. Back in those bygone days, many stations would run old movies from the thirties, forties and fifties, between 3:00 PM-5:00 PM. Thus I first experienced some of the classics of cinema, and one of my favorites was Double Indemnity, 1944, the first of the film noire genre. Adultery and murder were perhaps too mature topics for me in my initial pre-teen viewings, but I was fascinated by it because it seemed to be a playing out on screen of what I was learning at the time from The Baltimore Catechism: that sin will lead inevitably to destruction unless contrition and amendment are made. The film was fortunate to have at its center three masters of the craft of acting.
Fred MacMurray, born in Kankakee, Illinois, 37 miles from my abode, in 1907, was a good guy in real life and usually in reel life. A firm Catholic and staunch Republican, he tried to join the military after Pearl Harbor but a punctured ear drum kept him out of service. He adopted a total of four kids with his two wives: his first wife dying from cancer in 1953, and his second wife remaining his wife until his death. (Such fidelity was as rare in Hollywood then as it is now.) On screen MacMurray played to type and was almost always a good guy, but not always, and it is ironic that the two best performances of his career came when he played bad guys: weak, lustful and doomed Walter Neff in Double Indemnity and the scheming, cowardly Lieutenant Thomas Keefer in The Caine Mutiny.
Barbara Stanwyck had a Dickensian childhood from which she was lucky to emerge alive, her mother dying of a miscarriage and her father going off to work on the Panama Canal and never being heard from again. A series of foster homes followed, which Ruby Catherine Stevens, as Stanwyck was then named, constantly ran away from. Dropping out of school at 14 to begin working, she never looked back. Breaking into show business by becoming a dancer in the Ziegfield Follies at age 16, she was a star on broadway in the play Burlesque before she turned 20. Changing her name to Barbara Stanwyck, she broke into films immediately thereafter, displaying a flair for both drama and comedy, specializing in strong independent women. Her personal, as opposed to her professional, life was a mess. Married in 1928 to her Burlesque co-star Frank Fay, they adopted a son, Stanwyck having been rendered sterile by an abortion at 15. The marriage ended in divorce in 1935, Fay during the marriage often slapping Stanwyck around when he was drunk. Stanwyck got custody of their son. Stanwyck was a hovering and authoritarian mother, leading to a life long alienation from her son after he became an adult. Stanwyck married actor Robert Taylor in 1939, and, after numerous acts of infidelity on both sides, divorced in 1950. Ironically Stanwyck and Taylor did stay friends after their divorce, Stanwyck, who never remarried, referring to him as the true love of her life. In her politics Stanwyck was a staunch conservative Republican who supported the investigations of Congress into Communist infiltration into Hollywood. Remaining in demand as an actress almost until her death in 1990, she filled her last years with charitable work. Stanwyck was well equipped by her own tumultuous life to give depth to her portrayal of the murderous, scheming Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity.
Although remembered today chiefly for his gangster roles and his portrayal of the rat-like Dathan in The Ten Commandments, Edward G. Robinson was actually an actor with a very broad range of work: comedies, dramas, historical epics, you name it. By 1944 he was age 51 and realized that his days as a leading man were coming to a close. His half comedic role as the insurance claims adjuster Barton Keyes in Double Indemnity he viewed as a step in his transition to being a character actor. Always a liberal, Robinson was blacklisted in Hollywood due to his affiliation with Communist front groups. Robinson admitted as much by an article he wrote for the American Legion Magazine entitled “How the Reds Made a Sucker Out of Me”. His comeback came when anti-Communist director Cecil B. DeMille, who thought that Robinson had been treated unfairly, cast him in the scene-stealing role of Dathan in The Ten Commandments.
Spoiler alerts in regard to the following: Continue reading
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done.
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces—four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not ‘Kismet’; it is he that knows not Fate;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey at the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.
GK Chesterton, Lepanto
The good news is that the spirit of Urban II is not quite dead in all Catholics. The surprisingly good news is that it is apparently alive and well in the soul of a 77 year old nun in London:
That nun was Sister Christine Frost, a Roman Catholic 77-year-old who has lived in and served the deprived local community for 44 years, as a member of the order of Faithful Companions of Jesus. Continue reading
At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Of all the figures of the Old Testament, Elijah has always stood out for me. The most powerful of the prophets sent by God, he lived at a time of mass apostacy in the Kingdom of Israel. Under King Ahab and his Queen Jezebel, a daughter of the King of Sidon and a priestess of Baal, a great spirit of what many today would call ecumenicalism went forth, as Israel turned away from the stern God Yahweh, to the pleasure seeking ways of Baal. Elijah, his name means “Yahweh is my God”, would have none of it, and led the Traditionalists among the Yahweh worshippers who opposed the new spirit abroad in the land. The deeds of Elijah are well known, from the battle of the gods on Mount Carmel, to his being taken up to Heaven by a chariot of fire, but the most striking passage in his career is the incident of the still, small voice, set forth in today’s reading at Mass. Continue reading
Tombstone is one of my favorite Western’s of all time. The story line and plot is strong and engaging. The actors chosen for their parts excelled in their characters, going so far as to even lose weight to represent the lean man of the wild west. Attention to detail was of the up-most where filming was done in the actual Birdcage Theatre, saloons, and even Tombstone itself.
The film’s main scene is the infamous gunfight at the O. K. Corral, but it is the Ringo-Doc Holliday confrontation that is emblazoned in my memory.
Something for the weekend. Leaning on the Everlasting Arms sung by Iris DeMent. Anthony Showalter wrote the hymn in 1887. He had tragically received two letters from former pupils who told him that their wives had died. In his letters of consolation he referenced Deuteronomy 33:27: The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms, which became the theme of his hymn. Showalter wrote the refrain and Elisha Hoffman, at the request of Showalter, wrote the remaining lyrics.
I acknowledge that this post has nothing (or next to nothing) to do with either American politics or Catholicism, but please indulge me as it is almost the weekend. This comes from my blog, the Barbecuers’ Guide to Dieting, which I am once again updating. It’s a basic set of tenets that are meant to inspire those of you looking to diet.
1. Enough with the no-fat nonsense.
I was corrected on Facebook for particularly focusing on yogurt as there may be some practical reasons for the existence for non-fat yogurt, but in general non-fat stuff is simply crap. Not only does non-fat food usually taste significantly worse than full-fat food, it’s not any healthier. Calories are what counts, not necessarily where the calories are from, and non-fat stuff is usually loaded up with sugar. In the end, you are consuming just about the same amount of calories. What’s more, fat tends to fill you up more than sugar, so you are likely to get hungrier quicker if you go with the non-fat option. Finally, who wants to taste a dry, 90% lean burger when you can have a glorious 80% or even 75% lean one?
2. Dieting isn’t what you think it is.
This is connected to the first point. You might think that in order to lose weight you need to stop eating things like bacon and eggs and replace these items with “healthy” alternatives. In some cases you may have to, but that is rarely the case. People overestimate how many calories are in things like bacon and eggs and underestimate how much are in other products. Four slices of bacon add up to approximately 200-250 calories, depending on the cut. Two whole eggs are about 150 calories total, and less than half than that if you only eat the whites (which is frankly where a lot of the nutrition is). So a breakfast of bacon and eggs will be anywhere between 300-500 calories, depending on how you prepare it. That “healthy” muffin might contain as many calories if not more, and it will not fill you up or keep you as full as the alternative. Even a fruit smoothie will probably contain as many, if not more calories. Now, there are other reasons to go with the fruit smoothie (like the vitamins), but calories shouldn’t be why.
Long story short, the key to dieting is keeping careful track of what you eat. If you need to write down what you eat, especially at the beginning, in order to track your calories, that’s all well and good. The main thing is that you at least don’t intake more calories than you burn if you’re goal is weight maintenance, and to burn more calories than you consume if your goal is weight loss. It doesn’t exactly matter what you eat, which brings me to point number three.
I am on vacation beginning today with my family until August 18. My internet connection in the coming week will range from intermittent to non-existent. I will have posts for each day I am away on the blog, but if something momentous occurs, for example: Elvis is discovered working at a Big Boy’s in Tulsa, the Pope issues a Bull against blogging as a complete waste of time, or Obama reveals that Area 51 does contain aliens and Joe Biden has accidentally started an intergalactic war with them, I trust that this post will explain why I am not discussing it.
We will begin up in Kenosha, Wisconsin with a visit to my bride’s mother. We have been doing this since the birth of the twins and it has always been a fun family gathering.
We will then be moving my son into his apartment in Carbondale. For those of you who have never traveled through Little Egypt, Southern Illinois, it is a remarkably beautiful part of the country. My son is beginning law school next week at Southern Illinois University. When I attended law school more than a third of a century ago, I received no scholarships. However, fortunately, my son inherited his brains from my bride and has received a full tuition scholarship. I found the first year of law school to be a challenging experience, but if I could get by my son should have few difficulties.