Saturday, December 31, 2011

This Saintly Prince Preached Sanctity in Marriage and Chastity in Priesthood

St. Egwin

Stained glass window of St. Egwin in Worcester Cathedral by glass artist Geoffrey Fuller Webb. Photo taken by and with permission to use, by Robin Croft.

Third Bishop of Worcester; date of birth unknown; d. (according to Mabillon) 20 December, 720, though his death may have occurred three years earlier. His fame as founder of the great Abbey of Evesham no doubt tended to the growth of legends which, though mainly founded on facts, render it difficult to reconcile all the details with those of the ascertained history of the period.

It appears that either in 692, or a little later, upon the death of Oftfor, second Bishop of Worcester, Egwin, a prince of the Mercian blood royal, who had retired from the world and sought only the seclusion of religious life, was forced by popular acclaim to assume the vacant see. His biographers say that king, clergy, and commonalty all united in demanding his elevation; but the popularity which forced on him this reluctant assumption of the episcopal functions was soon wrecked by his apostolic zeal in their discharge.

The Anglo-Saxon population of the then young diocese had had less than a century in which to become habituated to the restraints of Christian morality; they as yet hardly appreciated the sanctity of Christian marriage, and the struggle of the English Benedictines for the chastity of the priesthood had already fairly begun. At the same time large sections of England were more or less permanently occupied by pagans closely allied in blood to the Anglo-Saxon Christians. Egwin displayed undaunted zeal in his efforts to evangelize the heathen and no less in the enforcement of ecclesiastical discipline. His rigorous policy towards his own flock created a bitter resentment which, as King Ethelred was his friend, could only find vent in accusations addressed to his ecclesiastical superiors. Egwin undertook a pilgrimage to seek vindication from the Roman Pontiff himself. According to a legend, he prepared for his journey by locking shackles on his feet, and throwing the key into the River Avon. While he prayed before the tomb of the Apostles, at Rome, one of his servants brought him this very key — found in the maw of a fish that had just been caught in the Tiber. Egwin then released himself from his self-imposed bonds and straightway obtained from the pope an authoritative release from the load of obloquy which his enemies had striven to fasten upon him.

Due to Henry VIII's destruction of many Catholic Abbey's, Churches and Convents, all that remained after his plundering was the Evesham Abbey Bell tower.

It was after Egwin’s triumphant return from this pilgrimage that the shepherd Eoves came to him with the tale of a miraculous vision by which the Blessed Virgin had signified her will that a new sanctuary should be dedicated to her. Egwin himself went to the spot pointed out by the shepherd (Eoves ham, or “dwelling”) and to him also we are told the same vision was vouchsafed. King Ethelred granted him the land thereabouts upon which the famous abbey was founded.

As to the precise date of the foundation, although the monastic tradition of later generations set it in 714, recent research points to some year previous to 709. At any rate it was most probably in 709 that Egwin made his second pilgrimage to Rome, this time in the company of Coenred, the successor of Ethelred, and Offa, King of the East Saxons, and it was on this occasion that Pope Constantine granted him the extraordinary privileges by which the Abbey of Evesham was distinguished. One of the last important acts of his episcopate was his participation in the first great Council of Clovesho.

(1909 Catholic Encyclopedia)

She was a marvelous princess, orphan, and foundress

Blessed Margaret Colona

Poor Clare, also known as Margarita Colonna, born in Rome, date uncertain; died there, 20 September, 1284.

Bl. Margaret Colona

Her father, Prince Odo Colonna, and her mother died in Rome when she was still a young girl, and she was left to the care of her two brothers, the youngest of whom was raised to the cardinalate by Nicholas III in 1278. Having resolutely refused the proposal of marriage made to her by the chief magistrate of Rome, she retired to a lonely retreat near Palestrina where she passed her time in practices of piety and penance.

Her charity towards the poor was unbounded, and was more than once miraculously rewarded. Through the influence of her brother, Cardinal Colonna, Blessed Margaret obtained the canonical erection of a community of Urbanist Poor Clares at her family castle in Palestrina, of which she most probably became superioress. Seven years before her death she was attacked with a fearful and painful ulcer which till the end of her life she bore with the most sublime and generous resignation. After the death of Blessed Margaret, the community of Palestrina was transferred to the convent of San Silvestro in Capite. The nuns were driven from their cloister by the Italian Government at the time of the suppression; and the monastery has since been used as the central post-office of Rome. The exiled religious found shelter in the convent of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, to which place the body of Blessed Margaret was removed.

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

(cfr. 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia)

Blessed William Howard was the grandson of the Saint Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel

1st Viscount Stafford, martyr; born 30 November, 1614; beheaded Tower-Hill, 29 December, 1680.

He was grandson of the Saint Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, mentioned above, fifth son of Earl Thomas (the first great art collector of England), and uncle of Thomas Philip, Cardinal Howard. Brought up as a Catholic, he was made a knight of the Bath, at the coronation of Charles I, 1 February, 1626, and married Mary, sister of the last Baron Stafford, October, 1637; the title was revived for him 12 September, 1640, and he was immediately afterwards created a viscount.

Bl. William Howard, Viscount of Stafford, Painting by Van Dyck

He is said to have joined the royal army during the Civil War, but perhaps erroneously, for in 1642 he was in Holland, attending the exiled royal family and his mother and father. He was also employed by the Emperor Ferdinand in missions to Flanders and Switzerland. After his father’s death, 4 October 1646, many painful quarrels with his nearest relatives ensued. The Howard properties in England having been sequestrated by Parliament, the family was much impoverished, and William’s eldest surviving brother, Earl Henry Frederick, was induced to commence a series of unjust and vexatious suits against his mother, and practically robbed her of her dowry. William, as her representative, was involved in these painful and prolonged quarrels, and even after both mother and brother had passed away, his cousins and their agents continued against him a quasi-persecution for several years.

Henry Howard, 22nd Earl of Arundel (1608-1652), brother of Bl. William

The details of these transactions are obscure, but it would seem that the viscount was, under foreign law twice actually arrested, at Heidelberg, July to September, 1653, and at Utrecht in January, 1656, in the latter case he was acquitted with honour, though the charges, of which the particulars are not now known were insulting and vexatious (Stafford Papers, 15 January, 1656, see below). In these troubles his most dangerous opponents were perhaps Junius and other literary adherents of his father, who were claiming manuscripts and rarities from the Arundel Collections in payment of their debts, while Lord William successfully proved that those collections were not liable to such charges. Though they lost, they continued to write bitterly of him, and these complaints have found a permanent record in the diaries and other writings of Evelyn, Burnet, Dugdale, etc. After the Restoration, 1660, his rights were firmly established and his life within his large family circle must have been extremely happy. The brightest hours were perhaps those spent in conducting his nephew Philip to receive the cardinal’s hat in Rome (1675).

Three years later Oates (q.v.) and his abetters included Lord Stafford in their list of Catholic lords to be proscribed, and eventually he was put first upon the list. It has been supposed that this was done because his age, simplicity, and the previous differences with other members of his family suggested that he would prove comparatively easy prey. On 25 October, 1678, he was committed to the Tower, and it was more than a year before it was decided to try him. Then the resolution was taken so suddenly that he had little time to prepare. The trial, before the House of Lords, lasted from 30 November to 7 December, and was conducted with great solemnity. But no attempt was made to appraise the perjuries of Oates, Dugdale, and Tuberville, and the viscount was of course condemned by 55 votes to 31. It is sad to read that all his kinsmen but one (that one, however, the Lord Mowbray, with whom he had had many of the legal conflicts above here noticed) voted against him. His last letters and speeches are marked by a quiet dignity and a simple heroism, which give us a high idea of his character. His fellow prisoner and confessor, Father Corker, O.S.B., says: “He was ever held to be of a generous disposition, very charitable, devout, addicted to sobriety, inoffensive in words, a lover of justice.” A portrait of him by Van Dyck belongs to the Marquess of Bute. (cfr. 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia)

He was beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI.

Friday, December 30, 2011

This saint’s murder was a turning point in history -- England was never the same afterwards

St. Thomas à Becket

Martyr, Archbishop of Canterbury, also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London, born at London, 21 December, c. 1118; died at Canterbury, 29 December, 1170. St. Thomas was born of parents who, coming from Normandy, had settled in England some years previously. No reliance can be placed upon the legend that his mother was a Saracen. In after life his humble birth was made the subject of spiteful comment, though his parents were not peasants, but people of some mark, and from his earliest years their son had been well taught and had associated with gentlefolk. He learned to read at Merton Abbey and then studied in Paris. On leaving school he employed himself in secretarial work, first with Sir Richer de l’Aigle and then with his kinsman, Osbert Huitdeniers, who was “Justiciar” of London. Somewhere about the year 1141, under circumstances that are variously related, he entered the service of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, and in that household he won his master’s favour and eventually became the most trusted of all his clerks. A description embodied in the Icelandic Saga and derived probably from Robert of Cricklade gives a vivid portrait of him at this period.

To look upon he was slim of growth and pale of hue, with dark hair, a long nose, and a straightly featured face. Blithe of countenance was he, winning and loveable in his conversation, frank of speech in his discourses, but slightly stuttering in his talk, so keen of discernment and understanding that he could always make difficult questions plain after a wise manner.

Theobald recognized his capacity, made use of him in many delicate negotiations, and, after allowing him to go for a year to study civil and canon law at Bologna and Auxerre, ordained him deacon in 1154, after bestowing upon him several preferments, the most important of which was the Archdeaconry of Canterbury (see Radford, “Thomas of London”, p. 53).

St. Thomas Becket forbids Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester, and Reginald de Dunstanville, 1st Earl of Cornwall, to pass sentence on him.

It was just at this period that King Stephen died and the young monarch Henry II became unquestioned master of the kingdom. He took “Thomas of London”, as Becket was then most commonly called, for his chancellor, and in that office Thomas at the age of thirty-six became, with the possible exception of the justiciar, the most powerful subject in Henry’s wide dominions. The chroniclers speak with wonder of the relations which existed between the chancellor and the sovereign, who was twelve years his junior. People declared that “they had but one heart and one mind”. Often the king and his minister behaved like two schoolboys at play. But although they hunted or rode at the head of an army together it was no mere comradeship in pastime which united them. Both were hard workers, and both, we may believe, had the prosperity of the kingdom deeply at heart. Whether the chancellor, who was after all the elder man, was the true originator of the administrative reforms which Henry introduced cannot now be clearly determined. In many matters they saw eye to eye. The king’s imperial views and love of splendour were quite to the taste of his minister. When Thomas went to France in 1158 to negotiate a marriage treaty, he traveled with such pomp that the people said: “If this be only the chancellor what must be the glory of the king himself?”

A badge, found in the River Dove in England, collected by a pilgrim to show they had gone to the tomb of St. Thomas Becket. On display in the British Museum.

In 1153 Thomas acted as justice itinerant in three counties. In 1159 he seems to have been the chief organizer of Henry’s expedition to Toulouse, upon which he accompanied him, and though it seems to be untrue that the impost of “scutage” was called into existence for that Occasion (Round, “Feudal England”, 268-73), still Thomas undoubtedly pressed on the exaction of this money contribution in lieu of military service and enforced it against ecclesiastics in such a way that bitter complaints were made of the disproportionately heavy burden this imposed upon the Church.

In the military operations Thomas took a leading part, and Garnier, a French chronicler, who lived to write of the virtues of St. Thomas and his martyrdom, declares that in these encounters he saw him unhorse many French knights. Deacon though he was, he lead the most daring attacks in person, and Edward Grim also gives us to understand that in laying waste the enemy’s country with fire and sword the chancellor’s principles did not materially differ from those of the other commanders of his time. But although, as men then reported, “he put off the archdeacon”, in this and other ways, he was very far from assuming the licentious manners of those around him. No word was ever breathed against his personal purity. Foul conduct or foul speech, lying or unchastity were hateful to him, and on occasion he punished them severely.

He seems at all times to have had clear principles with regard to the claims of the Church, and even during this period of his chancellorship he more than once risked Henry’s grievous displeasure. For example, he opposed the dispensation which Henry for political reasons extorted from the pope, and strove to prevent the marriage of Mary, Abbess of Romsey, to Matthew of Boulogne. But to the very limits of what his conscience permitted, Thomas identified himself with his master’s interests, and Tennyson is true to history when he makes the archbishop say:

I served our Theobald well when I was with him: I served King Henry well as Chancellor: I am his no more, and I must serve the Church.

Archbishop Theobald died in 1161, and in the course of the next year Henry seems to have decided that it would be good policy to prepare the way for further schemes of reform by securing the advancement of his chancellor to the primacy. Our authorities are agreed that from the first Thomas drew back in alarm. “I know your plans for the Church,” he said, “you will assert claims which I, if I were archbishop, must needs oppose.” But Henry would not be gainsaid, and Thomas at the instance of Cardinal Henry of Pisa, who urged it upon him as a service to religion, yielded in spite of his misgivings. He was ordained priest on Saturday in Whitweek and consecrated bishop the next day, Sunday, 3 June, 1162.

It seems to have been St. Thomas who obtained for England the privilege of keeping the feast of the Blessed Trinity on that Sunday, the anniversary of his consecration, and more than a century afterwards this custom was adopted by the papal Court, itself and eventually imposed on the whole world.

Murder of St. Thomas Becket

A great change took place in the saint’s way of life after his consecration as archbishop. Even as chancellor he had practised secret austerities, but now in view of the struggle he clearly saw before him he gave himself to fastings and disciplines, hair shirts, protracted vigils, and constant prayers. Before the end of the year 1162 he stripped himself of all signs of the lavish display which he had previously affected. On 10 Aug. he went barefoot to receive the envoy who brought him the pallium from Rome. Contrary to the king’s wish he resigned the chancellorship. Whereupon Henry seems to have required him to surrender certain ecclesiastical preferments which he still retained, notably the archdeaconry, and when this was not done at once showed bitter displeasure. Other misunderstandings soon followed. The archbishop, having, as he believed, the king’s express permission, set about to reclaim alienated estates belonging to his see, a procedure which again gave offence. Still more serious was the open resistance which he made to the king’s proposal that a voluntary offering to the sheriffs should be paid into the royal treasury. As the first recorded instance of any determined opposition to the king’s arbitrary will in a matter of taxation, the incident is of much constitutional importance. The saint’s protest seems to have been successful, but the relations with the king only grew more strained.

Soon after this the great matter of dispute was reached in the resistance made by Thomas to the king’s officials when they attempted to assert jurisdiction over criminous clerks. That the saint himself had no wish to be lenient with criminous clerks has been well shown by Norgate (Angevin Kings, ii, 22). It was with him simply a question of principle. St. Thomas seems all along to have suspected Henry of a design to strike at the independence of what the king regarded as a too powerful Church. With this view Henry summoned the bishops at Westminster (1 October, 1163) to sanction certain as yet unspecified articles which he called his grandfather’s customs (avitæ consuetudines), one of the known objects of which was to bring clerics guilty of crimes under the jurisdiction of the secular courts. The other bishops, as the demand was still in the vague, showed a willingness to submit, though with the condition “saving our order”, upon which St. Thomas inflexibly insisted. The king’s resentment was thereupon manifested by requiring the archbishop to surrender certain castles he had hitherto retained, and by other acts of unfriendliness. In deference to what he believed to be the pope’s wish, the archbishop in December consented to make some concessions by giving a personal and private undertaking to the king to obey his customs “loyally and in good faith”. But when Henry shortly afterwards at Clarendon (13 January, 1164) sought to draw the saint on to a formal and public acceptance of the “Constitutions of Clarendon”, under which name the sixteen articles, the avitæ consuetudines as finally drafted, have been commonly known, St. Thomas, though at first yielding somewhat to the solicitations of the other bishops, in the end took up an attitude of uncompromising resistance.

In 1220, St. Thomas Becket's remains were relocated from this first tomb to a shrine, where it stood until it was destroyed in 1538, by orders of Henry VIII. The king also destroyed St. Thomas Becket's bones and ordered that all mention of his name be obliterated. The pavement where the shrine stood is today marked by a lit candle.

Then followed a period of unworthy and vindictive persecution. When opposing a claim made against him by John the Marshal, Thomas upon a frivolous pretext was found guilty of contempt of court. For this he was sentenced to pay £500; other demands for large sums of money followed, and finally, though a complete release of all claims against him as chancellor had been given on his becoming archbishop, he was required to render an account of nearly all the moneys which had passed through his hands in his discharge of the office. Eventually a sum of nearly £30,000 was demanded of him. His fellow bishops summoned by Henry to a council at Northampton, implored him to throw himself unreservedly upon the king’s mercy, but St. Thomas, instead of yielding, solemnly warned them and threatened them. Then, after celebrating Mass, he took his archiepiscopal cross into his own hand and presented himself thus in the royal council chamber. The king demanded that sentence should be passed upon him, but in the confusion and discussion which ensued the saint with uplifted cross made his way through the mob of angry courtiers. He fled away secretly that night (13 October, 1164), sailed in disguise from Sandwich (2 November), and after being cordially welcomed by Louis VII of France, he threw himself at the feet of Pope Alexander III, then at Sens, on 23 Nov. The pope, who had given a cold reception to certain episcopal envoys sent by Henry, welcomed the saint very kindly, and refused to accept his resignation of his see. On 30 November, Thomas went to take up his residence at the Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny in Burgundy, though he was compelled to leave this refuge a year later, as Henry, after confiscating the archbishop’s property and banishing all the Becket kinsfolk, threatened to wreak his vengeance on the whole Cistercian Order if they continued to harbour him.

The negotiations between Henry, the pope, and the archbishop dragged on for the next four years without the position being sensibly changed. Although the saint remained firm in his resistance to the principle of the Constitutions of Clarendon, he was willing to make any concessions that could be reasonably asked of him, and on 6 January, 1169, when the kings of England and France were in conference at Montmirail, he threw himself at Henry’s feet, but as he still refused to accept the obnoxious customs, Henry repulsed him. At last in 1170 some sort of reconciliation was patched up. The question of the customs was not mentioned and Henry professed himself willing to be guided by the archbishop’s council as to amends due to the See of Canterbury for the recent violation of its rights in the crowning of Henry’s son by the Archbishop of York. On 1 December, 1170, St. Thomas had brought with him, as well as over the restoration by the de Broc family of the archbishop’s castle at Saltwood. How far Henry was directly responsible for the tragedy which soon after occurred on 20 December is not quite clear. Four knights who came from France demanded the absolution of the bishops. St. Thomas would not comply. They left for a space, but came back at Vesper time with a band of armed men. To their angry question, “Where is the traitor?” the saint boldly replied, “Here I am, no traitor, but archbishop and priest of God.” They tried to drag him from the church, but were unable, and in the end they slew him where he stood, scattering his brains on the pavement. His faithful companion, Edward Grim, who bore his cross, was wounded in the struggle.

Area marking the spot of St. Thomas Becket's martyrdom in Canterbury Cathedral.

A tremendous reaction of feeling followed this deed of blood. In an extraordinary brief space of time devotion to the martyred archbishop had spread all through Europe. The pope promulgated the bull of canonization, little more than two years after the martyrdom, 21 February, 1173. On 12 July, 1174, Henry II did public penance, and was scourged at the archbishop’s tomb. An immense number of miracles were worked, and for the rest of the Middle Ages the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury was one of the wealthiest and most famous in Europe.

The martyr’s holy remains are believed to have been destroyed in September, 1538, when nearly all the other shrines in England were dismantled; but the matter is by no means clear, and, although the weight of learned opinion is adverse, there are still those who believe that a skeleton found in the crypt in January, 1888, is the body of St. Thomas. The story that Henry VIII in 1538 summoned the archbishop to stand his trial for high treason, and that when, in June, 1538, the trial had been held and the accused pronounced contumacious, the body was ordered to be disinterred and burnt, is probably apocryphal.

Funeral of St. Thomas Becket

By far the best English life is MORRIS, The Life of St. Thomas Becket (2nd ed., London, 1885); there is a somewhat fuller work of L’HUILLIER, Saint Thomas de Cantorbery (2 vols., Paris, 1891); the volume by DEMIMUID, St. Thomas Becket (Paris, 1909), in the series Les Saints is not abreast of modern research. There are several excellent lives by Anglicans, of which HUTTON, Thomas Becket (London, 1900), and the account by NORGATE in Dict. Nat. Biog., s. v. Thomas, known as Thomas a Becket, are probably the best. The biography by ROBERTSON, Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury (London, 1859), is not sympathetic. Nearly all the sources of the Life, as well as the books of miracles worked at the shrine, have been edited in the Rolls Series by ROBERTSON under the title Materials for the History of Thomas Becket (7 vols., London, 1875-1883). The valuable Norse saga is edited in the same series by MAGNUSSON, Thomas Saga Erkibyskups (2 vols., London, 1884). The chronicle of GARNIER DE PONT S. MAXENCE, Vie de St. Thomas Martyr, has been edited by HIPPEAU (Paris, 1859). The miracles have been specially studied from an agnostic standpoint by ABBOT, Thomas of Canterbury, his death and miracles (2 vols., London, 1898). Some valuable material has been collected by RADFORD, Thomas of London before his Consecration (Cambridge, 1894). On the relics see MORRIS, Relics of St. Thomas (London, 1888); THORNTON, Becket’s Bones (Canterbury, 1900); WARD, The Canterbury Pilgrimages (London, 1904); WARNER in Eng. Hist. Rev., VI (1891), 754-56.

HERBERT THURSTON (1913 Catholic Encyclopedia)

Mental health professionals say that no one is "born gay"

A coalition respected mental health professionals, community leaders, and others from across America and several foreign countries have released a statement that strongly refutes and repudiates the liberal Jewish political correctness and misinformation regarding homosexuality.

The document shows that no one is "born gay" — and that same-sex attractions can be modified and healed.

Please read more:

A marvelous video of a marvelous place, with a marvelous mission

Please take a few quite minutes to see this video tour of the headquarters of our sister organization in Brazil.

Food for the soul.

Please go here:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Know your primordial light and capital vice before you make a New Year resolution

You have one MAJOR point upon which is hinged your fidelity to God and His Holy Laws.

10 tips for better New Year Resolutions

This text from Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira explains what is this major point of the soul, or primordial light:

According to Catholic theology, for the same reason that each one of us feels within himself a tendency towards a specific sin—usually referred to as capital sin—in he contrary sense, each soul is called to reflect a specific aspect of God by especially shining in the practice of a specific virtue. This has been referred to as the person's "primordial light."

Thus we may conjecture that as one advances in sanctity, his primordial light becomes more evident. Were we to correspond faithfully to every grace that Christ gives, His light would radiate through our poor selves.

One person tends to be charitable, another loyal, another obedient, and yet another serious and responsible. One is inspired by all that is pure and sublime, another by the severe and austere.

One has such a love for our Blessed Mother that he cannot hear her name mentioned without feeling every string of his heart stir. Another is particularly touched by all that surrounds the birth of the Child Jesus, yet another by Our Lord's Passion. All souls are called to practice all virtues, but a particular virtue shines before each in a primordial, a first light.

Imagine Saint Louis Gonzaga, the personification of purity, and emulate his angelic chastity. Consider Saint Louis, King of France, the embodiment of honor, with uprightness and sincerity written in each line of his noble face.

Reflect on Saint Vincent de Paul, an emissary of divine charity, who walked the back streets of Paris rescuing abandoned babies and carrying them in the huge pockets of his cassock to their new homes. Recall Saint Francis of Assisi, who courted Lady Poverty throughout his life, or Saint John the Baptist, who embodied the rigors of God's call to repentance and penance.

As every virtue reflects its divine Author, Saint Thomas concludes that Christ is the perfect expression of all the primordial lights that were, are, and will be. To that we may add that every saint is nothing more–nor less–than a small spark of the perfection of Our Lord, an inestimable honor indeed.

10 tips for better New Year Resolutions

Approaching a time when good people feel ashamed of being normal?

by Marcos Garcia

The more the human soul rises towards perfection, the more it resembles God. For many, this point is obvious. For most, however, it unfortunately is not. Especially far from obvious is the statement that the Middle Ages were the historic era most directed toward the one true God. The Sweet Springtime of the Faith, as it was called by a 19th century writer, gathered in itself, much like enriched uranium, a potential for unprecedented elevation.

Unfortunately the Middle Ages decayed through the work of the Gnostic and egalitarian revolution sparked by Protestantism.

However, as an echo of the Middle Ages, like the second stage in a fireworks display the elevation of ways, styles and class still blossomed in the Old Regime, the most aristocratic epoch in history.

Especially in France, aristocratic values shone with a beautiful light. The sense of measures, proportions, opportunity, in short, correctness in social life was the golden badge of that nation, so appropriately called the eldest daughter of the Church.
This painting of Marie Antoinette by Madame Vigée Le Brun shows the queen as grand as a monument. As Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira used to say, “Marie Antoinette was the swan of the human race.”

How many qualities combined in one person!

Portrait of Marie-Antoinette of Austria by Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty

To be brief, my goal here is to draw attention to a most secondary aspect of the Queen’s figure: her shoe. Yes, don’t be amazed: her shoe!
What lightness, what class, what nobility! It looks like a period placed at the end of the last verse of a poem. It is not there to draw attention but to complete the monumental dress with a light touch, giving it a “soft landing.”
One would say that in order to have that foot a person would have to have that head, that bust, that royalty, and that grandeur.
Let us now look at some sample shoes that fashion is introducing and imposing.

'Zapatos' by Alexander Mcqueen

Their tone is one of most daring extravagance and most blunt illogic, with a glaring lack of balance. What for?
When the French Revolution severed the head of Marie Antoinette, in a sense it cut off the sap that nourished the immense tree of the nobility and aristocracy. Later, like branches of a dead tree, the thrones of Europe fell one after another like dominoes, and with them the aristocracy.
There came republics, democracies, socialism, communism and now tribalism. During this whole period, aristocracy has gone through a long and painful agony.
Today we see an attempt to euthanize the values ​​that characterize the elevation of man: class, refinement, a taste of excellence, a sense of balance etc.

L to R: Herbert Levine’s “Race Car Shoe,” “Barefoot in the Grass,” and “Paper Twist” shoes. Useing her husband's name for her company, these shoes were designed by Beth Levine, also known as "The first Lady of American Shoes Design".

For what end? In order to drive men to madness.

When people no longer notice the madness of certain contemporary behavior, they will have been taken over by it. And the pressure of fashion to drive people crazy is so despotic and brutal that it is absolutely like an arena full of wild beasts.

From L to R: 'Spine heel' by Dsquared2; ‘Heel-less shoe’ and below is ‘Homage to Picasso’ both by Andre Perugia. Middle two pictures: Japanese Geta Platform boots; 'Ballet boots' by Aussieropeworks. Last row: 'Porcupine-spiked shoes'; 'High Tide Heels' by Paul Schietekat.

Let me recall here a well-known phrase by Ruy Barbosa, a famous Brazilian jurist,

“By dint of seeing so many nobodies triumph, so much dishonor thrive, so much injustice grow and so much power acquire gigantic proportions in the hands of evil ones, man ultimately shuns virtue, laughs at honor, and becomes ashamed of being honest.” (Federal Senate, RJ. Complete Works of Rui Barbosa, V. 41, t. 3, 1914, p. 86.)

Let us not shun virtue. And let us keep our honor so we will not end up by feeling ashamed of being normal.

Muslim denied knighthood unless he becomes Christian

The Life of St. Louis by Alexandre Cabanel

For the sultan [Ayub], the capture of the king and his great vassals seemed to offer a magnificent opportunity to complete the conquest of the Frankish possessions in the Holy Land which had been started by his father….

So the negotiations which, after several attempts at intimidation (the sultan had threatened the king with torture), had got under way between the victor and the vanquished, took a new turn….

These dealings were not to the liking of the leaders of the Egyptian army, who feared that having rid himself of the prisoners, the sultan would next try to get rid of them.… Thus, on 2 May, a conspiracy in which the Mameluk emirs joined, resulted in the assassination of the young sultan.

The Franks went through a sticky period; the sultan’s assassins threatened them with death, and the knights, as they waited, confessed to each other. The leader of the plot, the emir Aqtai, penetrated the tent housing St. Louis and demanded that the king make him a knight as a reward for having got rid of his enemy. St. Louis replied that knighthood could only be conferred on a Christian, and asked Aqtai to embrace the Christian faith. Things might have gone badly had not the other emirs arrived. They assured the king that they intended to stick to the terms of the treaty. The barons were brought and, on the morning of 3 May, the agreement earlier suspended was confirmed.

Jean Richard, Saint Louis: Crusader King of France, tr. Jean Birrell (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 130-131.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 138

Jewish Convert Restores Traditional Benedictine House

Check out this story.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to make a deeply Catholic and personally unique and tailored New Year resolution

  1. Be honest. Know yourself.  What is your strongest virtue?  What is your worst vice?  Therefore, tailor your resolution so it strengthens your good side and fights your bad one.  A one-size fits all resolution is useless.
  2. Be specific. Don’t use generalities.  They don’t work.  For example, if you need to be more humble, just saying “I am going to be more humble,” is useless.  You need to zero in on one situation where you need to practice humility and resolve to improve in that one situation. (More on how to discover what that point is: 
  3. Be simple. Don’t make it complicated.  Focus on something you can see and measure easily and that does not overwhelm you each time you try to obtain it.  Otherwise, you will become distracted and your energy will be dispersed and misdirected.
  4. Be reasonable. Don’t try to do too much at once.  You won’t become a saint in one day.  Remember: every soul has one MAJOR point upon which is hinged his or her entire fidelity to God and His Holy Laws.  Find out and work on improving that key point. You’ll see how everything else will improve if you improve on that one major point.
  5. Be consistent. It’s far better to do something small everyday to improve on that one key point in your soul than to make a big resolution that you cannot keep for more than a week or two.  Slow and steady wins the race!
  6. Be humble. Recognize that you cannot do any good action which has value in the supernatural order without God’s grace and the intercessory help of the Blessed Mother.  Beg God’s grace through Our Lady’s intercession constantly in all your thoughts, desires and actions
  7. Be disinterested. Remember that God wants us to defend His rights and interests, and to share His thoughts and ways.  And therefore, to focus on things, happening and events that are very close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary that are not necessarily linked to our own personal interests.
  8. Write it down. It’s important to write down your resolution so you can refer back to it often during the year.  Also, by writing it down, you will be able to review it when the year is over, and to evaluate your progress since the time the resolution was made.
  9. Public expressions of faith. Don’t hide your faith.  That’s just what the devil wants.  He knows when you express your faith publicly, others see you and are encouraged to follow your good example.  Say grace openly and proudly before meals in a restaurant so people can see.  You’ll be surprised with the good reactions you will get.
  10. Devotion to Our Lady. Have more devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Devotion to the Mother of God is a panacea.  Saint Louis de Montfort said that devotion to Holy Mary is the easiest, safest, fastest, most secure, and surest path to Jesus and to our own salvation. If you can nothing else, resolve to say the Rosary everyday.  Saint Louis de Montfort wrote:

“If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins 'you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory.' Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if-- and mark well what I say-- if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins."

Breaking: Family stopped from forcing Texas teen to have abortion

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas ( - Attorneys with Texas Center for Defense of Life (TCDL) representing a 14-year-old girl secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Wednesday from a Texas court that blocks several of her family members from forcing her to have an abortion against her will.

According to a TCDL press release, the teenager’s family members had scheduled an appointment for her to have the abortion at a local Corpus Christi clinic this week.  The girl has been under intense pressure to have the abortion, was allegedly physically assaulted last week by one family member, and has been prevented from attending school.  The unborn child’s teenage father and his mother also reportedly do not want the baby killed and have supported the girl’s decision to keep the child. 

The court order prohibits the girl’s family members “either directly or indirectly from forcing her to have an abortion against her will,” which includes taking her to any abortion clinic.

“Roe v. Wade and ‘choice’ go both ways… if it protects the constitutional rights of a girl or woman to have an abortion, oftentimes without even parental notification or consent, it likewise protects the right of that same girl or woman to not have an abortion against her will” said TCDL President and CEO Greg Terra. 

“No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life - especially one that belongs to someone else - is worthless.  The right to not have an abortion is protected by law, and this right is not relinquished just because someone else considers the child to be an unwanted burden,” said TCDL Vice President and Chief Counsel Stephen Casey. 

According to TCDL, the high school student, who is carrying a 7-week-old pre-born child, is now even more resolved in her decision to keep her child.  After suffering through several days of coercion and distress, the young woman’s friends contacted a local pregnancy center which, through various channels, was put in contact with Texas Center for Defense of Life. 

“We intend to fully support this young woman in her desire to allow her child to live,” said Greg Terra.  “Every mother has the legal right to keep her unborn child, against the coercion of others, and we intend to support her decision in this case.” 

The motion for TRO was filed by TCDL attorneys in the 347th District Court of Nueces County, Texas.  A temporary injunction hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2012, where the court will decide whether to approve an injunction for the duration of the pregnancy.

TFP Student Action -- 365 Days Defending Moral Values

Marriage campaign in Albany

Thank God, TFP Student Action has been more effective than ever upholding moral values in 2011.  Young TFP volunteers really put their heart and soul into this noble fight, traveling thousands of miles, holding dozens of campaigns nationwide.
Highlights of the year include:

Our activities were picked up by The Washington Post, The Brown Daily Herald,,,, and NPR, among others.

We enter the year 2012 full of confidence that God will help us to continue fighting the good fight under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Here are some more noteworthy acitivites:


A Camp for Aspiring Heroes: Young men gather to celebrate the New Year at the annual TFP Winter Camp. The week was filled with prayers, challenging games and captivating talks.
Massive 38th March for Life Reflects Youthful Resolve to Stop Abortion: Over 300,000 people march against the sin of abortion.

Good News: Madonna University Cancels Planned Parenthood Speaker: The event was canceled after good pro-life students and TFP Student Action spoke up.
CPAC Needs Moral Leadership: TFP Student Action volunteers man a well-visited booth and distribute thousands of leaflets urging CPAC participants to defend objective moral law and oppose the homosexual movement.
TFP to CPAC: Don’t Betray Principles: TFP publishes a statement calling conservative leaders to reject the homosexual agenda at CPAC.     
EXPOSING Planned Parenthood:  TFP Student Action volunteers protest in front of Planned Parenthood in tandem with Live Action’s efforts.

March for Life

Tour for Traditional Marriage in Maryland

New Tour for Traditional Marriage in Maryland: TFP Student Action members launch a state-wide tour to support traditional marriage, which is under attack.
TFP Rally Disrupted by Pro-Homosexual Blasphemers Yelling "God is Dead":  Campaigns are held in Towson, Timonium and at the White Marsh Mall.
Opposing Same-Sex “Marriage” in Annapolis, Maryland: Campaign at Maryland State House.
Traditional Marriage Tour Stops in Baltimore: Despite the cold and dreary weather, TFP Student Action volunteers visit several locations around Maryland.
Victory for God’s Marriage in Maryland:  The bill that would have legalized same-sex “marriage” in Maryland fails.
Tour for Traditional Marriage Wraps up with Great Success: In high spirits from the victory in Maryland, TFP Student Action volunteers visit Baltimore.

Traditional Marriage Caravan in Rhode Island and New Hampshire
Traditional Marriage Tour Reaches Rhode Island: Taking to the streets again, TFP Student Action goes to Rhode Island where a bill to legalize same-sex counterfeit "marriage" is being debated.
Defending Traditional Marriage in Providence: The campaign begins in front of the Rhode Island State House.
Voice of the Unborn in Boston: TFP Student Action members went to support around seventy-five pro-lifers who were protesting a Planned Parenthood Rally.
Pro-Homosexuals Attempt to Rip TFP Sign in Newport:  Despite the peaceful nature of all our rallies, the pro-homosexual advocates are far from tolerant.
VIDEO: Pro-Homosexuals at Brown University Respond to Peaceful TFP Rally with Violence:  About 250 frenzied pro-homosexual students gather to scream, spit, taunt, insult, and assault us.
Traditional Marriage Tour Rolls into New Hampshire: The campaign moves forward to New Hampshire.  

Radical Marxist Priest Ernesto Cardenal Speaks at Xavier University:  Catholic students ask why and organize a protest.

Notre Dame Finally Drops Charges Against Pro-Lifers: After almost two years of legal battle and 20,000 protests later the charges against the ND88 are dropped.
Video: Thousands March to Save Marriage in New York City: TFP Student Action joins a march for traditional marriage organized by State Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) and other pro-family leaders.

Traditional Marriage Caravan in New York State

Tour for Traditional Marriage Reaches Syracuse:  Back on the road again to defend traditional marriage in New York.
City Hall Hoists Rainbow Flag above Old Glory:  Campaign for traditional marriage takes place while government officials raise a rainbow flag outside City Hall in Binghamton, New York.
VIDEO: Pro-Homosexual Advocate Destroys Traditional Marriage Banner in New York: In response to our peaceful protest a pro-homosexual advocate rips our banner up.
UPDATE: Man Who Destroyed TFP Marriage Banner ARRESTED:  The individual who ripped our banner was arrested for illegal behavior.
Incredible Support for True Marriage in Rome: We receive a record number of honks in Rome, New York.
Traditional Marriage Tour Stops in Albany:  Incredible support is received.  

Finding True Role Models at TFP Camp: Young men learn about the heroes of Christian civilization at the annual TFP Summer Camp in Louisiana.
Fighting Socialism and Abortion in Texas:   Camp participants go on a state-wide tour defending the unborn and opposing socialism.
VIDEO:  TV Report on TFP Student Action protest: Fox 25 in Oklahoma City interviews John Ritchie about TFP Student Action's protest against "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told," a blasphemous production at Oklahoma City University.
TFP statement issued:  Stop the Debt Fire! Something is terribly wrong about a nation that must survive by borrowing against its future.

Living the Spirit of Chivalry at TFP Camp: Young men learn about the heroes of Christian civilization at the TFP Summer Camp in Pennsylvania.
Statewide Tour for Traditional Marriage in Illinois:  TFP volunteers go to Illinois for one week action-packed 18-stop tour.

TFP Volunteers Debate Socialism at George Washington University:  TFP volunteers distribute 10 Reasons to Reject Socialism on the busy campus located downtown Washington, D.C.
Pro-Homosexual Group Pressures PayPal to Cut Donation Service to TFP:  A pro-homosexual group petitions Paypal to cut services to TFP for promoting moral values.

Dakota Ary Vindicated After Wrongful Suspension for Opposing Homosexuality: After receiving over 7,500 protests from TFP Student Action, Dakota Ary’s school record is cleared.
Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.: TFP members man a booth at the annual Values Voters Summit, showcasing TFP campaigns on college campuses which met with wide support.
TFP Student Action Joins Pro-Life Personhood Initiative in Mississippi: Doing our signature street campaigns in defense of the unborn we received a huge amount of support from the general public.  

Who Do the "Occupy Fort Benning" Protesters Really Represent? This year’s TFP Statement about the SOA Watch focuses on their link with the “occupy” movement.
Excommunicated Priest Leads SOA Watch “Occupy Fort Benning” Protest: As the leftist protest dwindles, support for troops grows.
Pro-Abortion Speaker CANCELED at Siena College: The talk was nixed less than 12-hours and 3000 protests, after TFP Student Action launched its online protest .

Pro-Homosexual Clubs Found at 107 Catholic Colleges: Over 18,500 students and parents ask college officials not to endorse pro-homosexual clubs on Catholic campuses.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

They are ruining the Super Bowl Halftime Show for Families

Yet Another Politically “Bright” Idea

by Gary Isbell

Yet Another Politically Bright Idea






As we near the end of 2011, the controversy over the banning of incandescent light bulbs blazes on. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 brought together the government, fanatical environmentalists and big-business lobbyists to pass a law that will gradually outlaw the majority of household incandescent bulbs. Now, it appears that the ban has been postponed until next year.

The reprieve was won not because bulb opponents have seen the light. Rather, Senate Democrats sacrificed the ban as part of a deal to pass a spending bill at literally the eleventh hour when it was introduced before midnight on December 14. Neatly buried in a massive 1,200-page $1 trillion omnibus-spending package, the provision does not overturn the ban but prevents the government from spending any money to enforce it. This is a temporary stay of execution for the 100-watt bulb, but only until next year.

With this in mind, we cannot expect any new incandescent light bulb factories to open in the near future. General Electric just closed their last one in Virginia in September 2010. Without Congress blocking enforcement for funding again next year, we may well see the end of Thomas Edison’s invention once and for all.

As with any poorly made plan, this too has resulted in problems such as massive layoffs in Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky in the light bulb manufacturing industry and obliges Americans to purchase more expensive bulbs with a long return on their investment. On top of this, the majority of these bulbs are made in China.

Even the principal argument in favor of outlawing incandescent light bulbs — the environmental one — does not hold water. It seems that no one is talking much about toxins released when disposing of these new bulbs. Nor are they mentioning the fact that some big-business interests favor the new bulbs because they are a high profit margin item as opposed to low profit for the old bulbs. This results in additional revenues for stockholders, but not for all stakeholders such as factory workers.

It becomes painfully evident that the incessant mantra about saving the environment and our natural resources is merely empty rhetoric behind which is an ideological agenda. If our government only examined the facts available to the public, our legislators would see that this great debate over the lowly light bulb makes no sense at all. In fact, the whole idea, for lack of better words, is a dim one.

China’s treatment of Christian Bale could cost it an Oscar

by Ben Johnson

HOLLYWOOD, CA December 23, 2011 ( - The manhandling of actor Christian Bale as he attempted to visit a Chinese human rights activist known for speaking out against China’s brutal one-child policy, could cost China its chance to win an academy award this year.

Bale in his role as a Catholic priest in the movie

Bale stars in The Flowers of War, a film produced in China about the 1937 Rape of Nanking. The film opened in limited release today in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, to assure its eligibility for best foreign language film.

Director Zhang Yimou downplayed any interest in the award, telling China Daily: “We can work as hard as possible but really it’s up to the gods. I really don’t understand what the rules are for getting an Oscar.”

But Entertainment Weekly insists, “make no mistake: China covets an Oscar that would legitimize its booming movie industry.” China’s two previous academy award entries did not receive the nod.

“Now with its spotlight film’s most visible star at odds with the government, the chances of a Chinese Oscar could be dead on arrival,” the magazine reported.

Bale, who is best known for portraying Batman in The Dark Knight, was roughed up by Chinese guards when he attempted to visit Chen Guangcheng, the activist who exposed China’s use of forced abortion and sterilization in 2005. Since serving four years and three months in prison, Guangcheng has languished under house arrest. 

“Why can I not visit this free man?” Bale asked, as he was manhandled.

“What I really wanted to do was shake the man’s hand and say ‘thank you,’ and tell him what an inspiration he is,” Bale told media outlets after being denied access.

On Wednesday, the Chinese government blamed Bale for provoking the incident. Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said the star “should feel embarrassed.” 

He went on to hint Bale would not be invited back to China. “China did not invite him to some village in Shandong to create news or make a film,” he said. “If he went there to create news, I don’t think that would be welcomed in China.”

Former Tiananmen Square activist Chai Ling has said China’s one-child policy is responsible for 35,000 forced abortions each day.

Strange light in skies over Germany on Christmas night

Experts are not sure what the bright light over Germany was on Christmas night.  Some say it was a  meteorite. Others called it spacial litter, and still others say it was part of a Russian missile.

But no one really knows.

See the picture here:,,15626271,00.html

TFP America Needs America men sing at Christmas Midnight Mass

This is really uplifting.  Choir with drums, trumpets and manly voices at Saint Lawrence in Harrisburg, PA!

When being Christian is a death sentence

The Christian population in Iraq lives in constant danger.

Please read more here:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Catholics Murdered After Christmas Mass

39 Catholics were murdered by Muslims outside a Catholic church after attending Christmas Mass near Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

Most of the Catholics died on the steps of St. Theresa Catholic Church after a car bomb exploded.

Read more:

The Count and The Chimneysweep – A very touching story of fidelity

By G. Lenôtre

On that Christmas Eve, Mathiote, without changing his begrimed clothes, directed his steps to the Palace of de Plessis-Morambert. Three years earlier, also on Christmas Eve, he had been called to clean a certain chimney, where the Count de Morambert wanted to arrange an enormous pyramid of toys and candies to surprise his son Jacques when he awoke Christmas morning. Now it happened that Mathiote was precisely the same age as the Count’s son and when the Count saw on the little chimney sweep’s face the look, not of envy, but of admiration at seeing all those marvels, and at the same time seduced by the intelligent and honest air of the child, he chatted with him for a few moments, gave him a gold coin and sent him to the pantry to be served a fine supper.

The comforting remembrance of that unexpected feast brought the lad to the Palace year after year on the same evening to receive his gold louis d’or and bowl of savory hot soup. If the whole truth must be said, his annual appear was due, not only to the attention paid to him, but also by curiosity and sweetmeats. But on the evening of this December 24, 1793, the lad was surprised to find the Palace, which was full of light and warmth; cold, dark and empty. For though he knocked many times on the great door, none of his entreaties were answered. As he sadly turned away, he saw far off at the other end of the street, shrouded in the dark shadows, the shapes of a man and small boy rapidly approaching the Palace. As they drew near, Mathiote recognized Jacques de Morambert and ran to him.

“Ah! It’s you Mathiote! You did come! Let us go inside, quickly.”

As soon as the great door was made fast, Jacques broke into sobs.  “My father was arrested eight days ago by the Revolutionary Committee. They are going to try him in a few days! Oh Mathiote! My father is lost.” And Jacques became to cry even louder.

Mathiote, whose humble existence, hadn’t been affected by the Terror, was then told that the Count was accused of horrible crimes and would surely be sent to the guillotine. For eight days, Jacques had tried to speak to his father, but the guards were cruel men and wouldn’t permit it. Fortunately the Count’s cell faced the street, so Jacques was able to see his father throw him kisses through the bars. The poor lad was just returning from that painful site when Mathiote met him.

“Don’t worry Monsieur Jacques. Those wretches cannot hurt or kill my lord the Count. He is so good; so charitable.”

“But don’t you see? It is for that very reason that he is lost.”

After a few moments thought, Mathiote said, “Take courage and leave it me.”   “To you? What can you do? Any attempt to help him will only hasten his execution.” And tears again streamed down Jacques’s face. Mathiote consoled him as best he could, then went out into the dark street and headed for the center of Paris, with a quick and almost happy step.

The Count of Plessis-Morambert had been imprisoned in the l’Abbaye and his first few hours there had been spent pacing around his cell like a beast in a cage, trying to break the door down or rip the bars off the window or search for some other means of escape. But it was all futile, for the walls were very thick and the door was made of heavy planks and on it was set a great iron lock with enormous screws. But at last the good Count, exhausted and discouraged, sat down on the dilapidated cane chair and gazed sadly into the fireplace. He thought of little Jacques bathed in tears and all alone in the deserted Palace and he began to pray. He thought of past Christmases when his son was very small and how, before going to sleep he would carefully place his tiny shoes on the hearth to wait for the visit of the Child Jesus, who never failed to come. But what would Jacques think tomorrow morning when he would wake up and find that the Child Jesus had forgotten him. At the thought of that inevitable disappointment the Count fixed his tear-laden eyes on the lifeless fireplace and thought of those happy nights when he would tip-toe into his sleeping son’s room and carefully arrange the toys wrapped in garlands, the little soldiers in the box of carved pinewood, the golden oranges, the crystallized fruits…that paradise of good things a little boy finds upon awaking and delights him with claps and shouts of joy.   At this point, the Count’s melancholy thoughts were interrupted by a muffled noise in the chimney. Suddenly there came a downpour of soot and ashes, followed by a large well-wrapped package that hit the hearth and rolled to the middle of the cell. Startled at this strange occurrence, the Count stood up, glancing back and forth at the chimney and the mysterious package. His attention was then caught by something even stranger, for two feet appeared in the chimney, dangling in the air and in an instant a black form dropped out and sprang into the cell crying, “Don’t be afraid my lord Count! It is I, Mathiote.”  And so it was, with his face and clothes black with soot; his white teeth showing and his clear eyes shining like stars. The Count, astonished and searching his memory, could only repeat the boy’s name, “Mathiote? But…”  “But I didn’t forget you my lord Count. I have just come from your Palace and M. Jacques is very sad. But we may speak of him later. I have come to take you out of here my lord Count.”

“You have come to take me out of here?”

“Yes! But we have no time to lose. Speak softly. Here I have everything you need. First your clothes.” And the little chimney sweep quickly unwrapped the package which contained an adult chimney sweep’s outfit that he had obtained from his master and a roll of gold louis d’ors Jacques had given him.

“If we are quiet and make haste my lord Count, I promise you we shall be in the street in a quarter of an hour.”

“But how shall we get out, my little one? You surely do not intend to take me out the same way you came in! Even so, where will we be then? On the rooftops. But how did you find my cell?”

“M. Jacques told me, the last window on the corner of Sainte-Marguerite street. It is easy when you become accustomed to it. But if you permit my lord Count, when we next speak it should be on the street. I must work and you must change your clothes.”

Then Mathiote examined the huge lock, took an instrument from his packet, and became to loosen the long screws holding it to the door, working with precision and agility, the still astonished Count looking on with disbelief. At a nod from Mathiote, the silent onlooker began to change into his new garb and when the rescuer turned around to show his success at removing the lock, he found a full grown version of himself and this time he nodded with approval.

“You’re saved! Now you must hide your money, except for one coin. Follow me and when we reach the sentinel, go on calmly into the street and turn left without hesitating. Agreed?”  The Count answered by pressing his hand. Mathiote opened the door and peaked into the corridor. Allowing the prisoner to pass through first, he then went out and closed the door softly behind him. At the bottom of the stairs, they found the guard fast asleep on a cot inside a windowed cubical dimly lit by an oil lamp. Mathiote went boldly up to the window and knocked to awaken the guard. “Citizen! Let me out!”  The guard grudgingly got up and shined the light toward the voice and found only a child burdened by ropes, hooks and brushes….the chimney sweep tools. Reassured at this site, he pulled the cord to unlock the door. The Count moved slowly toward the threshold and almost retreated when at the sound of the closing door the guard turned around and caught sight of him. But Mathiote had foreseen everything.

“Excuse me soldier, can you tell me where to find the officer in charge?”

“The officer in charge? What do you want with him and who is THAT? No one is allowed through!”

“I wanted to give him this gold coin I found when I was cleaning out a chimney. Here see! I wasn’t sure what to do with it.”

The guard, flattered at Mathiote addressing him as soldier, examined the coin and quickly gave it the safety of his pocket. For louis d’ors at that time were worth two hundred paper francs.  “A coin for the officer in charge? Don’t worry. I’ll make sure he gets it. I’m not about to wake him for such a petty sum.”

“Oh thank you citizen!”

“The pleasure is all mine chimney sweep.” Mathiote darted out the door and ran to catch up with the Count who meanwhile had been hastily following his rescuer’s instructions.

The valiant youth, well knew that in Paris it would be impossible to hide the aristocrat from the revolutionary police. And besides, who would dare risk his life for the fugitive noble with the whole Committee for Public Safety after him. Mathiote therefore decided to conduct the Count to Savoy, where he would be well cared for by the chimney sweep’s good Father and Mother. The ten day journey should be a relatively safe one as two Savoyard chimney sweeps returning home could hardly raise any suspicion. As an extra precaution, Mathiote wrapped the Count’s head in linen, as if he were wounded, but in reality to explain his companion’s silence when they were among strangers. After placing what little provisions they had in knapsacks, the Count and chimney sweep set out for Savoy.

By the second day out from Paris, the Count de Morambert, little used to walking such distances, deprived of his habitual comforts, and sleeping in an occasional herdsman’s hut, no longer had to make an effort to play his role. No one would suspect that this exhausted and battered laborer, making his last efforts to reach his homeland, was actually a rich noble fleeing the Terror. Twelve days after leaving Paris, the fugitives came to the last French village. Though Mathiote was fresh and full of energy, the Count was fatigued and barely able to drag himself forward. The two travelers found a humble inn and were ready to begin a meager repast of bread and butter, when the innkeeper, speaking to Mathiote and pointing to the Count, asked, “Is he your father?”  “No Monsieur.  He’s my master’s brother.”

“What’s wrong with him? Is he ill?”

“Very! He fell from a roof and was crippled. I’m taking him home.”

“Well, where are your passports?”

“Our what?”

“You can’t cross the border without papers. It’s guarded by patriots. Just yesterday they caught two aristocrats disguised as cheese merchants.”

Mathiote grew pale beneath his layers of soot. He hadn’t foreseen this! But mastering himself, he replied naturally, “I only know that we must hasten to arrive quickly. The poor old man can barely walk!”

“You can’t cross the border unless you have papers.” And the innkeeper walked away without another word.

An hour later, the two found themselves in the shade of a tree beside the river, separating France from Savoy. There! Only a few hundred feet away was freedom. But in between was the bridge guarded by ten, well armed and cruel Revolutionaries. At this last, seemingly unsurmountable obstacle, the Count sighed, “Ah Mathiote! So we are lost after all.”  “But my lord Count, you must make one last effort. We’ll cut through the field and cross the river where the ice is thickest.”

“Impossible Mathiote! Do you think I could walk on ice when I can barely lift my feet off the ground?”

“Then, we’ll go to the guardhouse, while I distract the sentries, you muster all your strength and run across the bridge.”

“Run? Only to make an easy target for the sentries’ muskets?”

“But they might miss!”

“Perhaps, and what about you? They’ll make you pay for your generosity with your life! No my son. I can never permit that. I’m afraid we have shipwrecked in site of land. Go across the fields. I will give myself up when I see you’re safe.”

Mathiote bowed his head and after a few moments’ silence said, “We still have one chance. We shall walk calmly down to the guardhouse and if they ask us for papers, I’ll stop and pretend to look for them, but you walk on steadily. Every yard counts. But since we can’t be sure of escaping, my lord Count should give me all the gold louis d’ors, for if they search you and find all that money, you will be lost.”

The Count assented with a nod of his head. These last few words of Mathiote suddenly made everything clear. It had been naïve for him to believe that such a poor lad would help him, a rich noble, out of pure dedication or gratitude for a few bowls of hot soup. This was the first time he had allowed himself to be deceived by the appearance of a commoner. But experience left no doubt, the young Savoyard had but one intention, to possess the gold coins, which to him was a fortune. The Count removed the money from his wallet and placed them in the hand of the chimney sweep with a gesture of disdain. Then, after wiping his forehead, as if to remove the bitterness of disappointment, he rose with great difficulty and said, “I am going to give myself up. You try to escape. Yes. Let it be every man for himself.”  “No, but I won’t let you. You will see my lord Count.”

As the fugitive chimney sweeps reached the guardhouse in their typical garb, the unsuspicious soldiers allowed them to pass with only a few jibes and laughs. But they had taken only a few steps onto the bridge, when the officer in charge called out to his men, “Hey boys! Look at those two. They’re disobeying the order! Hey there my little one.”

“Come quickly my lord Count. We don’t hear anything. Just a few more steps.”

“You little knave. Are you going to stop or not?”

Mathiote turned around with surprised air and returned to the guard post, while the Count hobbled painfully toward the other side. “What do you want citizen?”

“Where’s your passport and where is he going? Is he deaf?”

“He is terribly wounded.”

“Well, he better stop or we’ll shoot!”

“Oh please don’t shoot citizen! My passport is right here…it’s….right…here….just….”

But the official wasn’t fooled by this maneuver and he cried out in a terrible voice, “FIRE!  Can’t you see that an aristocrat is giving us the slip? Shoot him down! Fire! Fire!”

But at that instant, Mathiote jumped in front of the leveled muskets, knowing the soldiers would hesitate to shoot an unarmed child.

“Fire! Fire! He’s going to escape!”

  But Mathiote was already filling his hands with the gold louis d’ors in his pocket and suddenly he threw them all at the feet of the soldiers. Then followed indescribable confusion. At the sight and sound of gold, the soldiers lost their heads, dropped their muskets and launched themselves after the rolling coins, pushing and shoving with desperation. Mathiote didn’t wait to contemplate that epic picture, but in a few leaps joined the Count de Morambert on the other side of the bridge, outside France. While the soldiers were still fighting over the last piece of gold, the lad threw his béret to the air and shouted in his Savoyard dialect, “Evviva la libertà! Long live liberty!” The boy ran to his companion and the two, Count and Chimney sweep, the one weeping with joy and the other with exhaustion and gratitude, tumbled arm in arm into the guardhouse of Savoy.

Légendes du Noël, contes historiques, by G. Lenôtre, pp. 161-176.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 137

United States now to have Muslim cadets wearing hijabs

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced today that the Department of Defense will begin allowing Muslim and Sikh students who wear an Islamic head scarf (hijab) or a turban to participate in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC).

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Good news this Christmas – Company Drops Funding For Homosexual Pride

Besides the many personal graces we have received this Christmas Day, we can celebrate and rejoice over this good news about the supermarket giant Tesco, that has dropped funding for homosexual pride in London.  This took place only days after Christians started a boycott of Tesco.

Let us rejoice over almighty God’s victory against the homo0sexual lobby who must be upset over Tesco’s dropping its future homosexual parade funding.

Rejoice but remember, this is only the beginning: the peaceful and legal and prayerful war for traditional marriage and against the radical homosexual lobby is far from over.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

God the Son Willed to Be Born of Royal Stock in Order to Gather in His Person Every Kind of Grandeur

From the writings on Saint Joseph by Saint Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868):

St. Joseph and the Christ Child. Painting at the Brooklyn Museum, Cuzco School

When God the Father resolved to give His Son to the world, He wanted to do it honorably, for He is worthy of all honor and all praise. He thus prepared Him a court and royal service worthy of Him: God wanted, even on earth, for His son to enjoy, if not in the eyes of men, then at least in His own eyes, an honorable and glorious reception.

God did not improvise the mystery of grace of the Incarnation of the Word, and those who were chosen to pay a role had been prepared by Him long in advance. The court of the Son of God is composed of Mary and Joseph: God himself could not have found more worthy servants for His Son.

Let us consider above all Saint Joseph. Charged with the education of the royal Prince of heaven and earth, charged with governing and serving Him, it was necessary that his service honor his divine pupil: God cannot be ashamed of His Father. And since He is king, of the blood of David, He has Joseph be born of this royal line; He wants Him to be noble, even of earthly nobility.

In Joseph flows the blood of the Davids, the Solomons, and all the noble kings of Judah; if the dynasty still sat on the throne, he would be the heir and should have sat on the throne in turn. Pay no mind to his actual poverty; injustice had chased his family from the throne which was their due; he is no less a king for this, the son of these kings of Judah, the greatest, the most noble, the richest in the universe. Thus in the census records of Bethlehem, Joseph will be registered and recognized as the heir of David by the Roman governor: therein lies his title; it is easy to recognize and bears the royal stamp.

What does the nobility of Joseph matter? You might ask. Jesus came only to humble Himself. I answer that the Son of God, who wanted to humble Himself for a time, also wished to unite in His person all types of greatness: He too is a king; through His birthright, He has royal blood. Jesus is noble; and when He chooses His apostles from the commonalty He ennobles them: He has that right, being son of Abraham and heir of the throne of David. He loves this honor of families: the Church does not judge the nobility in terms of democracy; let us respect what she respects: nobility is a gift of God.

Must one then be noble to serve God? If you were noble you would bring Him further glory; it is not necessary, however, and He is satisfied with good will and nobility of the heart. Nonetheless, the Church annals show us that a large number of saints, and the most illustrious ones, had a blazon, a name, an illustrious family; many were even of royal blood. Our Lord loves to be honored by all that is honorable. Saint Joseph received a perfect education in the temple, and God thus disposed him to be a noble server for His Son, the knight of the most noble prince, the protector of the most august Queen of the universe.

Mois de Saint Joseph, le premier et le plus parfait des adorateurs—Extrai des écrits de P. Eymard, 7th ed. (Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, n.d.), pp. 59-62 in Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), Documents IV, pp. 472-473.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The joy proper to the Nativity: great solitude and deprivation, but at the same time great elevation

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

Thus does Saint John's Gospel (1:14) announce the ineffably grand moment when the Son of God "dwelt among us" in order to manifest His glory.

Yet, how discreet, how humble, how hidden was this first step taken by the King of the universe along His path of suffering, struggle, and triumph!

Let us meditate on the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ with the Gospel of Saint Luke (2:1-7).

And it came to pass that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria.

And all went to be enrolled, everyone into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his espoused wife, who was with child.

And it came to pass that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Let us picture a poor wedded couple, dressed with simplicity and bound for Bethlehem, crossing the arid countryside of the Holy Land, aridity alleviated only by a few streams and olive groves. Mary travels seated on a young donkey, while Joseph proceeds on foot, pondering the words of the angel who revealed to him the miraculous character of his virgin spouse's pregnancy.

As they reach Bethlehem, the winter night falls. But no one receives them, "because there was no room for them in the inn."

Is it for them that there is no room, since they have no prestige? Prestige commonly comes, especially in decadent times, from money and concessions to the vices of the times and the spirit of the "world" (this spirit being understood in the sense the Gospels give it). But this holy couple is poor and gifted with a highly religious spirit -- virtues the "worldly" find particularly detestable.

Nevertheless, Saint Joseph and Our Lady descend from the highest lineage of Bethlehem of Judea. Saint Joseph is a prince of the House of David, and Our Lady likewise descends from the kings of Judea.
However, so decadent are the Chosen People that in their eyes Saint Joseph is nothing but a poor carpenter, while Our Lady, his relatively well-off cousin, has chosen to share his poverty.

What are they doing in Bethlehem?

They are obeying the decree of the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, who, certainly for vanity's sake, had ordered a census to ascertain how many were subject to his power.

The Prince of the House of David, in travelling to the city of his birth, manifests the glory of the foreign emperor. Saint Joseph is conquered, Caesar Augustus is the conqueror. And Bethlehem fails to recognize her illustrious children.

"He came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John 1:11). Mary and Joseph, bearing the very Son of God, are rejected by their own people and are thus obliged to seek shelter in a cave inhabited by animals. So it is in the intimacy and isolation of that dwelling place for beasts that history's most important event up till that time unfolds: the Word of God, made flesh in the most pure womb of Mary, comes into the world.

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Thus does one understand the kind of joy proper to the Nativity: great solitude and deprivation, but at the same time great elevation. For over such misery descended riches without name, riches unlike any others on the face of the earth: the Child-God, wrapped in swathes of cloth and lying in a manger where animals feed.

None save that couple witness or know how to appreciate this scene of indescribable grandeur.

The highest glory is there present in a tender child who, crying, hungry, and cold, extends his little arms towards his mother, requesting a little milk or cloths for a covering. And Our Lady knows that it is the Creator who opens his arms unto her! The Sovereign of the universe cries, beseeching a bit of milk and warm clothing!

We can imagine the contrast between the supernatural ambience and the poverty of the grotto. There the Child Jesus is adored by all the angels in a magnificent choir, the celestial court celebrating the greatest feast up to then. Angels and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, with extraordinary brilliance, give glory to God through the Nativity. That glory permeates the grotto discreetly, for it is necessary that those outside not take note, that only souls of faith perceive it, and only in intimacy. There, reclining, praying, is Our Lady, the most perfect soul in all the history of mankind, save only the divine Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Our Lady alone is worth more than all the souls before her, during her time, and thereafter; more than all who existed, exist, and will exist until the end of the world. She alone is worth more than all the angels.

A short distance away, praying to the Child-God and to Our Lady, is the humble cabinetmaker, the deposed prince, obscured by history and by the misfortunes that befell his ancestors. That man received an honor proper to no one else: He was chosen to be the spouse of the mother of the Word Incarnate, the adoptive father of the very Son of God!

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This takes place at midnight, when little moved in the ancient world. We can imagine the silence, the abandonment. The inhabitants of the nearby city of Bethlehem comfortably rest in their beds. Outside, even the livestock sleep, while the Divine Infant is born. Everything is empty and alone; darkness reigns. Only within that grotto does a small light flicker. Only that couple is there, they and the Child Jesus, the King of ages, the God-Man Himself.

This divine event takes place before few. The greatest of honors is born and resides entirely in a frail infant. The most important historical event up to that time comes to pass in secret, in such a way that the sole witnesses to that august scene desire to meditate, to remain silent, with more appetite to feel the Nativity within themselves than to proclaim it in a loud and clear voice. It is the affectionate reverence of those who know not how to render gratitude for the extraordinary honor of touching, in such an intimate way, so high a mystery, coupled with pity and compassion for a God who consented to make Himself so small. How to express respect so great that it approaches fear, and tenderness so profound that it seems almost to liquefy the soul? Lofty veneration, then, lofty adoration, and lofty tenderness.

This also seems to explain the nocturnal aspect of the Nativity. We cannot conceive of it taking place save at night, for darkness is necessary for radiating so discreet a light. Therein we find the joy characteristic of Christmas, which hesitates to expand itself for fear of losing its delicacy and intimacy.

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Thus does one understand why such Christmas carols as "Stille Nacht" are customarily sung in a low voice, almost as if to oneself. They are sung as if not to awaken the Child Jesus. This is one aspect of the genius of "Stille Nacht," composed by a simple German schoolmaster in the last century, yet now the preeminent Christmas carol of all ages. Hearing it, we have the impression that the choir is in a corner of the cave of Bethlehem. The choir sings with such emotion, for it almost cannot help it, yet in a very low voice, so as not to disturb the Divine Infant, nor the ineffable and almost internal song with which Our Lady is lulling her Son.

In this way one understands the thousand delicacies that sound in "Silent Night," and the tenderness of the Nativity. It is a song expressive of a kind of compassion for Him who is being celebrated: How little this infinite God; how infinite this little God!

Centuries of Christian civilization were necessary that the most celebrated of Christmas songs might blossom like a flower in the Catholic Church.
(Taken from Crusade Magazine, Nov-Dec 1996)

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