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

Army Folly

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An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!          

Rudyard Kipling, Tommy

The Obama administration demonstrates yet again that the defense of this country is not among their priorities, and that they could care less about the men who fight our wars.

 

 

In a stunning display of callousness, the Defense Department has announced that thousands of soldiers — many serving as commanding officers in Afghanistan — will be notified in the coming weeks that their service to the country is no longer needed.

Last week, more than 1,100 Army captains — the men and women who know best how to fight this enemy because they have experienced multiple deployments — were told they’ll be retired from the Army.

The overall news is not unexpected. The Army has ended its major operations in Iraq and is winding down in Afghanistan. Budget cuts are projected to shrink the Army from its current 520,000 troops to 440,000, the smallest size since before World War II.

What is astonishing is that the Defense Department thought it would be appropriate to notify deployed soldiers — men and women risking their lives daily in combat zones — that they’ll be laid off after their current deployment.

As one Army wife posted on MilitaryFamily.org, “On some level I knew the drawdowns were inevitable, but I guess I never expected to be simultaneously worried about a deployment to Afghanistan and a pink slip because my husband’s service is no longer needed.”

Yet the issues go far beyond thanklessness. The nation should worry about the increased national-security risk of separating such a large pool of combat-experienced leaders. The separated soldiers are those who carry the deepest knowledge base of counterinsurgency operations. Continue reading

A Question of Learning

Or, less pretentiously:

What should a kid learn in kindergarten?

I’m taking a swing at home schooling the Princess*– she’s just a bit too young to go into kindergarten, and I’ve got enough qualifications legally allowed to be a home educator by the state.

I know that I want her to be reading and diving in to self-guided research that I can supplement with what she isn’t interested in, but I really am looking for a realistic expectation in general.

I’m thinking:

  • reading basic words– “Hop on Pop” as a test.
  • being able to draw a connection between math problems and real examples– 2+2 is the same as two apples plus two apples
  • writing print legibly in military style all-caps, and basic progress in upper-lower case block-print
  • trace a standard coloring book– depending on small motor control, color inside of the lines and fill it out
  • recognize and match colors and basic shapes, both two and three dimensional; possibly recognizing a pattern and copying it
  • recognize basic classes of animal– land mammal, reptile, bird, fish, sea mammal
  • recognize basic plant categories
  • growth stages of plants and animals
  • master the ASDFJKL; of the keyboard, demonstrate ability to both double-click and click-and-drag, plus understand which you should do in a specific instance
  • safety related science– germ theory, electronic theory, very basic physics; why you wash your hands, why you don’t touch that wire, and why you don’t jump out in front of a car to yell “boo.”
  • basic scientific theory
  • basic skepticism– “what’s another way to look at this?”  “is this person trying to make me think something that isn’t quite right?”
  • memorize basic prayers– Our Father, Hail Mary, possibly how to pray the Rosary
  • basic theology; Trinity, angels, life after death, salvation, caritas, the Saints, some of the ideas of expressing love as wishing-another’s-best-interest

So, those expectations: too high?  Too low?  What am I missing?  No idea what kind of metric to put on history– trying to build a basic understanding of our family history, and of world history, but it’s rather tough with someone who doesn’t consistently grasp the difference between “today” and “last week.”

We have a phonics book that both girls love (yes, the two year old knows her letters and is connecting them to “making words.”  Yay, older sister leading by example.) and I subscribe to an OK online school called Starfall, plus a lot of concepts are being introduced by Dinosaur Train, My Little Pony, Guess with Jess and Boo!, as well as Good Eats.  I don’t have any good specifically Catholic “edutainment,” although the Scriptural Rosary from Rosary Army is rather good for car trips and I try to catch some ETWN radio shows when I can.

After hearing some horror stories of the utter lack of basic control in classrooms, my husband is pretty supportive of home schooling if I can get this year to work… so please, feel free to suggest!

*Please, don’t bother to “correct” me that it’s not homeschooling– yes, parents are responsible for teaching their children.  I noticed, my folks did a great job– I learned more science from my mom than from school, and the only thing they didn’t do well on was what they were told they weren’t qualified to teach. (Religious education.)  That doesn’t change that there is a difference between getting one’s formal schooling at a gov’t facility and getting it at a private school, or at home.  It’s a matter of specifying what formal schooling a kid gets.  I get the world-view statement being made, but I value communicating clearly over Making A Statement when it’s a social nicety like “where do your kids go to school.”

Got Burr?

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Alternate history has always fascinated me.  What if Hamilton hadn’t been killed by Burr at that fateful duel on July 11, 1804, two hundred and ten years ago.  Could he have led a revival of the Federalist Party?  Would he have finally achieved his lifelong ambition of military glory in the War of 1812?  If he had become a national hero in the War of 1812, would I now be blogging about President Hamilton?  So many possibilities snuffed out by the well aimed pistol of the worthless Burr.

PopeWatch: Soccer Holy War

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PopeWatch pays zero attention to American sports, let alone soccer, but he finds this amusing:

 

It’s being called a “holy war” with both World Cup finalists hoping for a divine intervention from Rome. But when Argentina and Germany face each other for the World Cup final, only one team will be blessed. Still, that hasn’t stopped World Cup enthusiasts from speculating about how Argentinian Pope Francis and retired German Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be rooting on their home teams.  One might envision the retired pope inviting the current pope around to his monastery inside Vatican City to watch the game over a stein of beer. But the Vatican says that is highly unlikely. On Thursday, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told The Daily Beast that he didn’t envision the two popes would be settling down to watch the final game together. “The game is late for Pope Francis,” he said, noting the 9pm Rome start time was edging up to the Holy Father’s bedtime. He also noted that “Pope Emeritus is notably not a big sports fan.” Continue reading

July 11, 1864: Battle of Fort Stevens

 

 

The culmination of Early’s raid on Washington, the skirmishing at Fort Stevens, one of the many forts guarding Washington, on July 11-12, really didn’t amount to much, Early quickly realizing that the fort was now manned partially by veteran troops of the VI corps from the Army of the Potomac, dispatched by Grant to guard Washington, and that whatever opportunity he had ever had to seize Washington by a coup de main was now gone.

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Early withdrew on the evening of July 12 and by July 13 was south of the Potomac, his raid on Washington becoming simply a matter for historians.  The attack on Fort Stevens is now chiefly remembered for the visit by President and Mrs. Lincoln during the engagement, and Lincoln becoming the only American president during his term of office to come under combat fire. Continue reading

A Moral Crisis

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Victor Davis Hanson, my favorite living historian, has long thought and written about the problem of illegal immigration into the US.  Go here to read some of his earlier thoughts about the issue.  He agrees that what is happening currently in the “children’s crusade” to effectively eliminate our southern border is a moral crisis:

 

 

Mexico strictly enforces some of the harshest immigration laws in the world that either summarily deport or jail most who dare to cross Mexican borders illegally, much less attempt to work inside Mexico or become politically active. If America were to emulate Mexico’s immigration policies, millions of Mexican nationals living in the U.S. immediately would be sent home.

How, then, are tens of thousands of Central American children crossing with impunity hundreds of miles of Mexican territory, often sitting atop Mexican trains? Does Mexico believe that the massive influxes will serve to render U.S. immigration law meaningless, and thereby completely shred an already porous border? Is Mexico simply ensuring that the surge of poorer Central Americans doesn’t dare stop in Mexico on its way north?

The media talks of a moral crisis on the border. It is certainly that, but not entirely in the way we are told. What sort of callous parents simply send their children as pawns northward without escort, in selfish hopes of soon winning for themselves either remittances or eventual passage to the U.S? What sort of government allows its vulnerable youth to pack up and leave, without taking any responsibility for such mass flight?

Here in the U.S., how can our government simply choose not to enforce existing laws? In reaction, could U.S. citizens emulate Washington’s ethics and decide not to pay their taxes, or to disregard traffic laws, or to build homes without permits? Who in the pen-and-phone era of Obama gets to decide which law to follow and which to ignore?

Who are the bigots — the rude and unruly protestors who scream and swarm drop-off points and angrily block immigration authority buses to prevent the release of children into their communities, or the shrill counter-protestors who chant back “Viva La Raza” (“Long Live the Race”)? For that matter, how does the racialist term “La Raza” survive as an acceptable title of a national lobby group in this politically correct age of anger at the Washington Redskins football brand?

How can American immigration authorities simply send immigrant kids all over the United States and drop them into communities without firm guarantees of waiting sponsors or family? If private charities did that, would the operators be jailed? Would American parents be arrested for putting their unescorted kids on buses headed out of state?

Liberal elites talk down to the cash-strapped middle class about their illiberal anger over the current immigration crisis. But most sermonizers are hypocritical. Take Nancy Pelosi, former speaker of the House. She lectures about the need for near-instant amnesty for thousands streaming across the border. But Pelosi is a multimillionaire, and thus rich enough not to worry about the increased costs and higher taxes needed to offer instant social services to the new arrivals. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Lord Patten

 

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An interesting appointment by the Pope:

Seven months after hiring a consulting firm to study the Vatican’s communications structures, the Vatican has set up an 11-member committee to suggest ways to increase collaboration and cut costs and has appointed British Lord Patten of Barnes as its president.

Chris Patten, former chairman of the BBC Trust and former chancellor of the University of Oxford, will serve as president of the commission. The 70-year-old British public servant is a Catholic and was co-ordinator of Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the United Kingdom in 2010.

Australian Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy and a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals, announced the formation of the committee at a news conference on July 9.

“The objectives are to adapt the Holy See media to changing media consumption trends, enhance coordination and achieve progressively and sensitively substantial financial savings,” he said. Continue reading

The One Thing the World Will Never Run Short Of

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A lady once asked him how he came to define ‘pastern’, the knee of a horse: instead of making an elaborate defence, as might be expected, he at once answered, “Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance.”

James Boswell, Life of Johnson

 

 

Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist looks at the contemporary media and concludes that the main problem with it,is the arrogant ignorance that abounds among the younger members of the Fourth Estate:

 

The real problem is the arrogance that goes with the ignorance. Take Kate Zernike’s 2010 attempt at an expose of the ideas that motivate tea party activists that ran in the New York Times. She wrote:

But when it comes to ideology, it has reached back to dusty bookshelves for long-dormant ideas. It has resurrected once-obscure texts by dead writers — in some cases elevating them to best-seller status — to form a kind of Tea Party canon.

Who are these obscure authors of long-dormant ideas? She points to Friedrich Hayek, for one. Yes, the same Hayek who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1974 and died way, way back in … 1992. Whose Road To Serfdom was so obscure that it has never been out of print and was excerpted in Reader’s Digest, that obscure publication with only 17 million readers. The article doesn’t get around to actually providing any insight into these activists’ philosophy and it’s probably a good thing considering that this is what she has to say about “the rule of law”:

Ron Johnson, who entered politics through a Tea Party meeting and is now the Republican nominee for Senate in Wisconsin, asserted that the $20 billion escrow fund that the Obama administration forced BP to set up to pay damages from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill circumvented “the rule of law,” Hayek’s term for the unwritten code that prohibits the government from interfering with the pursuit of “personal ends and desires.”

Oh dear. Where to begin? How about with the fact that “rule of law” is not Hayek’s term. The concept goes back to, well, the beginning of Western Civilization and the term was popularized by a 19th century British jurist and constitutional theorist named A.V. Dicey. It’s not an unwritten code, by definition. The idea that this would be an obscure concept to someone says everything about Zernike and the team at the New York Times and precisely nothing about Ron Johnson or Hayek or that sector of citizens of the United States who retain support for the rule of law.

A few weeks ago, David Brat beat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a stunning upset. The media didn’t handle it well. You might say they freaked out. Among other things, reporters sounded the alarm about a phrase Brat used in his writings that, they said, suggested he was a dangerous extremist: “The government holds a monopoly on violence. Any law that we vote for is ultimately backed by the full force of our government and military.” As National Review‘s Charles C.W. Cooke noted:

“Unusual” and “eye-opening” was the New York Daily News’s petty verdict. In the Wall Street Journal, Reid Epstein insinuated darkly that the claim cast Brat as a modern-day fascist. And, for his part, Politico’s Ben White suggested that the candidate’s remarks “on Neitzsche and the government monopoly on violence don’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Unusual, eye-opening, and non-sensical, perhaps, to people who had never studied what government is. But that group shouldn’t include political reporters, who could reasonably be expected to have passing familiarity with German sociologist Max Weber’s claim that “the modern state is a compulsory association which organizes domination. It has been successful in seeking to monopolize the legitimate use of physical force as a means of domination within a territory.”

 

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