Friday, November 24, 2017

Made-up Quotes

From the Brisbane Times:
France's Queen Mary-Antoinette is forever associated with the dismissive "let them eat cake". As the story goes, it was the queen's response upon being told that her starving peasant subjects had no bread. Because cake is more expensive than bread, the anecdote has been cited as an example of Marie-Antoinette's obliviousness to the conditions and daily lives of ordinary people. It would in later histories be quoted to illustrate the callousness and indifference of the upper classes in pre-revolutionary France.But there is no record of her having uttered the words. While the first known attribution was in an 1843 book by Alphonse Kerr – that is, half a century after the French Revolution – a similar quotation appears in the works of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, written in about 1765, and attributed to "a great princess". It's unlikely it was Marie-Antoinette, who was just nine at the time.

 There is, however, evidence that such a quotation, expressing scorn as much as ignorance, has an even longer history, with seventh-century Chinese chronicle The Book of Jin attributing to Emperor Hui (259-307), when told his people were starving because there was no rice, the words: "Let them eat meat."French philosopher Voltaire, hailed as the great champion of free speech, continues to be quoted as saying: "I don't agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." A great quote, to be sure, but Voltaire never said it. It comes from a 1906 biography by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in which it was intended to represent a summary of his thinking on free-speech issues. (Read more.)
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Thursday, November 23, 2017

The True Story of Thanksgiving

Squanto, the pilgrims and the pope. (Via Esther.) To quote:
The Puritan Pilgrims were not always considered the survivors of religious persecution American history made them out to be. Writer, H.L. Mencken described Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” And G.K. Chesterton once famously remarked:
“In America, they have a feast to celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims. Here in England, we should have a feast to celebrate their departure.”
(Read more.)
Capitalism made Thanksgiving possible. From Red State:
 Once Governor Bradford provided each family with a private portion of land, and allowed each family to keep the vast majority of the fruits of its own labor, prosperity came to the Colony. The starvation and stagnation of the first two years in the new world were reversed when freedom came flooding in. Gone were the days of the sluggards, who sought to survive off the sweat of their neighbors. In were the days of industrious self-reliance, which brought a rising tide to lift all boats. The real meaning of Thanksgiving is that the LORD of Providence provides for His people. The sub-theme, however, is that He used freedom to provide for those in need. The Apostle Paul had it right when he told the early church: “if a man will not work, he shall not eat” I, for one, believe that these words of Paul are just as inspired as the others that he preached. (Read more.)
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What Did 17th Century Food Taste Like?

From Res Obscura:
What can we learn about how people ate in the seventeenth century? And even if we can piece together historical recipes, can we ever really know what their food tasted like?

This might seem like a relatively unimportant question. For one thing, the senses of other people are always going to be, at some level, unknowable, because they are so deeply subjective. Not only can I not know what Velázquez's fried eggs tasted like three hundred years ago, I arguably can't know what my neighbor's taste like. And why does the question matter, anyway? A very clear case can be made for the importance of the history of medicine and disease, or the histories of slavery, global commerce, warfare, and social change.

By comparison, the taste of food doesn't seem to have the same stature. Fried eggs don't change the course of history.

But taste does change history. (Read more.)
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The Holy Week Breviary Used by Marie-Antoinette in Prison

Even as people continue to scrutinize old letters under a microscope, searching for the least word or phrase that would indicate a love affair between Marie-Antoinette and Count von Fersen, evidence of the Queen's fervent Catholic faith continues to surface. Soon to be auctioned in Paris is the Office de la Semaine Sainte en Latin & en François à l'usage de Rome et de Paris. Dédié à la Reine pour l'usage de sa Maison. Paris, Veuve Mazières & J. B. Garnier, 1728. In English, it is translated as follows: Office of Holy Week in Latin and French According to the Usage of Rome and Paris. Dedicated to the Queen for Use in Her Household. La Reine mentioned in the title was Marie Leszczynska, the grandmother of Louis XVI and Madame Elisabeth; the volume bears her coat-of-arms. The book was bequeathed to Madame Elisabeth, whose cause for beatification has been introduced, when the old Queen died. The princess brought it with her to the Tuileries when the Royal Family were taken to Paris by force in October of 1789. Madame Elisabeth left it behind when fleeing from the palace in August of 1792 but later sent a secret communication to her lady-in-waiting, Madame de Sérent, to smuggle books to her in the Temple prison, including the Holy Week Office. The Royal Family made use of the book not only during Holy Week but throughout the year, reading aloud the words of the Mass every day. According to Beauchesne's biography of Madame Elisabeth, the Queen and Madame Elisabeth were sewing and listening to the fifteen-year-old Madame Royale read to them from the Office of Holy Week, when the guards came to take away the eight year-old Louis XVII. Later, when the Queen was taken to the Conciergerie for her final ordeals, the prayer book went with her. To this day the book opens easily to certain pages, including p. 310, which has the passage:
Scarcely is he [Jesus] raised to the sight of all these people, that he is insulted, and charged on all sides with curses and reproaches. In the end, he makes one last effort to raise his eyes to Heaven: My Father, he exclaims, forgive them, I pray you, because they know not what they do.
A guard at the Temple gained possession of the book after the Queen's death, and it later came to the great nephew of Louis XVI, Henri d'Artois, the Comte de Chambord. Read more, HERE.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mesmerizing Translucent Waves

I love ocean paintings. From My Modern Met:
The late 19th century Armenian-Russian painter Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky created some truly spectacular paintings of seascapes that capture the beautiful, shimmering essence of the tumultuous waters. The marine artist gained recognition for his impeccable ability to recreate the expressive quality of oceans with over half of his 6,000+ paintings from his lifetime being devoted to the subject.

What separates Aivazovsky's seascape paintings from others is his ability to replicate both the intensity and motion as well as the translucency and texture. His energetic waves and calm ripples are equally effective. Aivazovsky also plays with colors, simulating the effects of sunlight filtering through the waters to present an ethereal quality that imitates a sort of magical realism. There's something absolutely stunning about the painter's ability to skillfully emulate the emotional connection to the coastal scenes that translates centuries later. (Read more.)
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Syriac (Christian) Sutoro Fighters

Please read about the unsung heroes who risk everything to protect the weak and vulnerable. Chivalry is not dead. To quote:
Sutoro was formed in the Kurdish city of Qamishli in March 2013 to protect Christians and other religious minorities. They are a close Ally of the Kurdish YPG Forces and are Fighting side by Side against ISIS. Sutoro received the military training in the training camps of the YPG. The Christian religious symbols, various forms of the cross and Jesus’s name tattooed on the hands and arms of these young fighters signify their strong determination and willingness to fight for their ethnic and religious rights. “I have the name of Jesus tattooed on my arm so I can never lie about my faith if I’m captured alive by the enemy and fear may overcome my bravery.” (Read more.)
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The Deaths of Jean-Marie Roland and Madame Roland

How the Revolution devours its own children. From Geri Walton:
Jean-Marie Roland de la Platière and his wife, Madame Roland, were supporters of the French Revolution. In addition, Jean-Marie was also an influential member of a loose political faction called the Girondins. When the Girondins fell in 1793 during the Reign of Terror, Jean-Marie went into hiding in Rouen with two spinster sisters, the mademoiselles Malortie. The spinsters were sisters to his previous fiancée, who died unexpectedly.

While Jean-Marie was in hiding, Madame Roland was arrested, as were other Girondins and Girondin supporters. She was imprisoned at the Abbey of Saint Germain des Près that had inscribed over its door, “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!”[1] This was also the spot where a wave of killings, called the September Massacres, had taken place between the 2nd and 7th of September in 1792.

During her imprisonment, Madame Roland continued to insist that she had been wrongly imprisoned. It seemed as if her protestations worked because suddenly on the 24th of June she was released. She gathered her things, ordered a carriage, and went home. Unfortunately, she had not mounted more than few steps when she was rearrested by the Paris Commune.

This time Madame Roland was locked up at the prostitute’s gaol known as Sainte Pélagie. While there she learned that all the imprisoned Girondins were to be tried. Madame Roland realized the seriousness of her situation and came to the conclusion that the end of her life was fast approaching. She then wrote:
“If I must die … I know of life the best it contains, while its continuance would probably only exact fresh sacrifices. … The moment in which I gloried most in my existence, when I felt most vividly that exaltation of soul which dares all dangers and rejoices in facing them, was the one which I entered this Bastille to which the executioners have sent me. … It seemed to give me an occasion of serving Roland by the firmness with which I could bear witness; and it seemed sweet to be of some use to him … I should like to sacrifice my life to him.”[2]
 (Read more.)
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Julia's Gifts


World War One, or the "Great War" as it is called, was intended to be the War to End All Wars, as the major European powers fought to the death, dragging Canada and America into the fray. If the nations of Europe had intended to destroy themselves in a suicide pact, the ruin could hardly have been more disastrous. Fighting in old ways with increasingly newer weapons resulted in multiple bloodbaths that were reminiscent of scenes in the Apocalypse. Atheistic Communism gained control of the largest country in Europe (Russia), as three emperors lost their thrones, along with many lesser kings and princes. The precarious structures of Christendom which had managed to survive the great political, social and industrial revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries came crashing down, or else hung on by a thread. Amid the upheavals, we have the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima in Portugal in 1917 which called for personal conversion to God, warning of greater cataclysms to come.

Against such a backdrop, award-winning and best-selling author Ellen Gable has set her most recent novel, Julia's Gifts, about an American Red Cross nurse serving in France towards the end of the war. The novel begins with Julia Murphy in the streets of Philadelphia, living a quiet life in a country untouched by war, with a happy, devout Catholic family. Julia dreams almost obsessively of the man she will some day marry but has not yet met, even buying gifts for her unknown "Beloved" at Christmas. The lighthearted innocence of the opening of the story, showing the heroine's girlish hopes and dreams, stands in stark contrast to the rest of the book. For Julia soon finds herself plunged into Armageddon as a volunteer with the Red Cross, having not the slightest concept of what she would be facing. As happens to most of us in the course of life, but to Julia in a short, intense period, the youthful dreams and misconceptions are stripped away by a brutal reality.

Julia, however, is young and resilient, and most of all, she has strong faith. As her romantic illusions are cast aside, her faith is purified in the crucible. Yet so strong is her fantasy about her "Beloved" that when he arrives in the shape of a young Canadian officer, she fails to recognize him. I think that it is a common experience for many Christians, that when God answers our prayers we do not always see His hand, because of our attachments to our own way of thinking, which is, of course, limited. The same global conflagration which is consuming lives all around her becomes an instrument of redemption and rebirth, bringing Julia to genuine love. Ellen Gable once again shows us the light that shines in the darkness.


Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links
November 1  (Open Book)   Plot Line and Sinker
November 2   Mary Lou Rosien, Dynamic Women of Faith
November 4  Karen Kelly Boyce
November 6 Carolyn Astfalk, My Scribbler’s Heart Blog
November 7  Jean Heimann, Catholic Fire
November 8  A.K. Frailey   Sarah Reinhard
November 9  Allison Gingras, Reconciled to You
November 10  Barb Szyszkiewicz, Franciscan Mom
November 11  Plot Line and Sinker  Remembrance Day/ Veterans Day post
November 12  Spiritual Woman   Patrice Fagnant MacArthur
November 13  Mike Seagriff, Harvesting the Fruits of Comtemplation                                                   RAnn This That and the Other Thing
November 14 Lisa Mladinich, Amazing Catechists
November 15 Theresa Linden
November 16  Barbara Hosbach   and Alexandrina Brant
November 17  Barb Szyszkiewicz    Catholic Mom
November 18 Cathy Gilmore, Virtue Works Media
November 19 Erin McCole Cupp
November 20 Virginia Lieto
November 21 Elena Maria Vidal  Tea at Trianon
November 22  Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold Miller, The Divine Gift of Motherhood
November 23  Leslie Lynch, author
Others:  Catholic Reads, Alyssa Watson
Prints of Grace, Trisha Niermeyer Potter

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