German mystic Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer you said your whole life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” Gratitude has that kind of power, not just in prayer, but in the most ordinary moments of our lives. When we are thankful, grateful and appreciative of what we have — even the things that don’t necessarily warrant a special thank-you prayer — we tend to be more generous, loving, patient and kind toward others.Share
Gratitude shifts our focus away from our own complaints and problems. If we are busy noticing the blessings in our lives — even something as simple as a beautiful sunrise coming up over the highway as we drive to work, or our family gathered around the dinner table after a long day — we are less likely to wallow in self-pity. (Read more.)
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Monday, January 30, 2017
Marking could either be done in embroidery, usually using cross-stitch or back-stitch, or often with a pen and indelible ink, a quicker way of inscribing the necessary information. Research has uncovered two good examples of the second type. The handkerchief illustrated above in finest quality cotton with drawn thread-work and satin stitch which has been marked with pen and ink ‘D. Matthews No 22. 1832’, while a pair of machine-knitted long stockings in finest quality unbleached cotton has been marked ’25. Lf.C.J. 1850’. Apart from their year of origin, both these textiles carry a number that reveals that the wearer owned a large quantity of garments that needed to be numbered for correct sorting and so that nothing would be lost. This suggests a home with a housekeeper or, at the very least, several servants whose duty was to store the completed laundry in the right places – free of moth, damp and dust – in the general linen cupboard or in the personal drawers of the relevant member of the family. (Read more.)Share
There’s something perverse about an ideology that views the disposing of a child in the third trimester of pregnancy as an indisputable right but the desire of parents to choose a school for their kids as “zealotry.” Watching Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, answer an array of frivolous questions was just another reminder of this warped worldview. Many liberals, for instance, tell us that racism is one of the most pressing problems in America. And yet few things have hurt African Americans more over the past 40 years than the inner-city public school system. If President Obama is correct, and educational attainment is the key to breaking out of a lower economic strata, then no institution is driving inequality quite as effectively as public schools. (Read more.)Share
Sunday, January 29, 2017
On the 224th anniversary of the execution of King Louis XVI, French royalists gathered Saturday on Place de la Révolution (now Place de la Concorde) to commemorate his death. And in the Basilica of St-Denis, Prince Louis-Alphonse de Bourbon, the Duke of Anjou and descendant of the murdered king, attended a Requiem Mass with his wife, Princess Marie-Marguerite. The group that congregated on the Place de la Révolution, site of the king's execution, waved flags bearing fleurs-de-lis — symbol of Royal France — and offered speeches honoring the memory of the fallen monarch, killed by guillotine on January 21, 1793, after five months imprisonment at the hands of anti-Catholic Jacobins. Heavily influenced by freemasonry, the revolutionaries had protested against the ancien régime, represented by the Catholic Church and the Catholic monarchy. (Read more.)Share
The Habsburg Dynasty had a tradition that was a bit like that of the Pharaohs: After the death of a Habsburg the heart and viscera were removed from the body according to strict ceremony. The sovereign bodies were then embalmed and entombed in the nearby Imperial Crypt. The viscera were laid to rest in St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the hearts in the so-called “Heart Crypt” in the Augustinian Church. The Augustinian Church was one of the important stations in the life of every member of the House of Habsburg. It is here where they were baptized and where they married – and to where they would forever after consign their hearts. 54 Habsburgian hearts are forever safeguarded in silver urns here in the Augustinian Church. (Read more.)
Saturday, January 28, 2017
We found this topic on the Haudenosaunee to be a captivating topic because of the working thriving nation they were prior to the American Revolution but also because we wanted to view them as Benjamin Franklin would have – contemporaries or as equals. Many Iroquois today and in the past like other Native Americans and American Indians are well educated. Appreciating their rich heritage, I have tried to leave off stereotyping or the view that the American Indians history was one tragic event after another. There is debate about when the Confederation was formed. Most historians believe it was formed by 1630. Historians can agree that in 1722, the Tuscaroras (6th nation) joined the Confederation. Whenever it was formed, the 5 Nations (then 6) was a well established union following a constitution they called “The Great Law of Peace”. Their Great Law of Peace was a democratic structure already in progress. Had the Iroquois played a key role in influencing American democracy? Are they the Forgotten Founders? (Read more.)Share
Friday, January 27, 2017
That today is the experience of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi Christians. They are excluded from the normal refugee camps, either through fear – with a long history of massacres of Christians in the region, or through prejudice. Some time ago the persecuted church agency, Barnabas Fund, asked Christian leaders in the Middle East if they knew of any Christians in refugee camps. One told us “we did once have a couple who tried to live there, we had to get them out in the middle of the night when we heard people were planning to kill them.”Share
Many Christians fleeing the war in Syria live in half-built buildings or makeshift shelters, not dissimilar from the cold, damp conditions Jesus was born in. Just as Herod’s genocide in Judea targeted a specific group, Jewish boys under two, so the genocide in Syria specifically targets Christians and other non-Sunni Muslim minorities such as Yazidis and Shi’a.
Yet, the extraordinary thing is that the refugee policies of western countries such as the USA and UK admit only a tiny handful of Christians. This number vastly underrepresents the proportion of Christians in Syria’s pre-war population, but is truly shocking when Christians are being specifically targeted by jihadist groups intent on cleansing the area of its entire non-Muslim population. (Read more.)
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Yes, I know this may sound far-fetched. You can, however, have a child that is an advanced writer but lags behind in grammar structure. A child or an adult may clearly communicate his thoughts but may not be aware of proper tenses. Too, roles can be flipped. For example, I know people with a linguistic background who can make my writing shine in no time. Their eye to detail is unmatched and I love that about them. However, they would also be the first one to admit that knowing technical details doesn’t always mean that you can write well or with confidence. Creating worthy and valuable writing content is a learned skill. I often wonder if people with a strong English background fear writing less or more than somebody that does not have a strong grammar background? It still intrigues me. (Read more.)Share
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
After her apprenticeship under Curtis, Grosholtz entered the royal court as the tutor to king Louis XVI’s sister. She taught the art of votive making to the king’s sister and lived at the heart of the royal court of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, for almost nine years. However, outside the gates of the royal halls, France was gearing up for the revolution of 1789 and Grosholtz’s ties to the royal family made her a target. She was imprisoned, and her head was shaved in preparation for execution by guillotine. A last-minute reprieve saved her life, but Grosholtz was made to prove her allegiance to the revolution, by retrieving the heads of those executed and making their wax death masks – including those of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. These wax masks can still be seen at the original Madame Tussauds in London. (Read more.)Share
Long before her canonisation, Filippini's life was far from perfect. When the little girl was still a babe in arms her mother passed away, followed by her father when Filippini was just six years old. With nobody left at home to care for her, the little girl was sent to live with her aunt and uncle, an aristocratic couple who arranged for their young, already devoutly religious, charge to be educated in Santa Lucia by Benedictine nuns.Share
Under the tutelage of the nuns Filippini's intelligence was clear and she proved herself to be a thoughtful and pleasant child, with her sights set early on a life of faith. Filippini eventually joined the Sisters both in their holy orders and their educational mission, passing on her learning to the children who followed her into the school.
Under the patronage of Cardinal Gregorio Barbarigo she was entrusted her with the task of establishing schools for young women from poor families. By the time Filippini was twenty years old she had founded the Pious Matrons and was already recruiting and training teachers who would tutor the girls in the domestic arts.
Eventually the schools numbered more than 50 and Filippini was personally invited to replicate her success in Rome by Pope Clement XI in 1707 and here she founded more schools, as well as devoting much of her time to ministering to the poor and sick. (Read more.)
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
"If I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea:
Even there also shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." Psalm 138: 9-10 Share
Donald Trump's inaugural address was a powerful, straightforward articulation of American nationalism: "At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens. . . . From this day forward, a new vision will govern this land. From this moment on, it's going to be America First. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families."Share
These words did not go down well with those who have come to think that America exists to be the dumping ground for surplus Mexican labor and artificially devalued Chinese imports. They especially did not go down well with those who have profited from the current arrangement that drives down wages for those who need to compete against immigrant labor and foreign goods but rewards those insulated from such competition, including all the politicians who go to Washington and never leave, all the media personalities used to telling Americans what they are allowed to think, all the professors used to indoctrinating their students in cultural Marxism, and all the denizens of the vast federal bureaucracy. The screech of the privileged could be heard in virtually all the reporting on Trump's speech. There are many examples of such screeching, but I will limit myself to two, the Washington Post's petulant fact-checking of Trump's speech and the even more petulant comments of the Post's pet conservative, George Will. (Read more.)
We all know that gossip is wrong, hurtful, harmful and divisive. So why do we itch to do it? What is our fascination with highlighting the offenses in others? I don’t think just knowing gossip is wrong will change us. There has to be something more. It has to be deeper than that. The root of gossip is fear of people, feeling threatened, a lack of trust in God, a need to be right or validated and a need to control. There may be times it’s not necessarily mean spirited or negative, but it’s unproductive and not uplifting. (Read more.)Share
Monday, January 23, 2017
|Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II|
|Matt Smith as Prince Philip, with his bride|
The Queen: "Let's not overcomplicate matters unnecessarily. My name is Elizabeth." ~from The Crown, Season 1 (2016)At the beginning of watching The Crown, I was not certain I would persevere. I have been looking at pictures of the British royal family since childhood and had trouble replacing their well-known faces with those of actors and actresses. But by the time Princess Elizabeth was walking down the aisle of Westminster Abbey on her wedding day, I was hooked. In fact, I watched all of Season 1 in only three or four sittings. Well-acted and authentic, with a mostly riveting script, the Netflix production starring Claire Foy as Elizabeth II provides a close look at the burdens carried by the world's most famous contemporary Queen. The costumes and jewels in themselves make the watch worthwhile, as well as the palaces, cars, gardens, horses, dogs and tea sets, all that anyone could wish or hope for from an English royal setting. Starting in 1947 with Elizabeth's betrothal to her cousin Prince Philip, the series is a poignant observation of the personal sacrifices required even of a constitutional monarch. Learning how to reign from her father George VI, her grandmother Queen Mary, and her prime minister Winston Churchill, the young Elizabeth, in spite of a dazzling public image, privately grows painfully into her role.
The drama is peppered with scenes from Elizabeth's delightfully carefree and happy childhood, delightful because her parents were truly devoted to each other and to their two girls; the family functioned as a unit through the hell of war and the glory of victory. Their father George VI was the Duke of York and not supposed to inherit the crown, which came to him after the trauma of Edward VIII's abdication. Edward or "David" as he was called, left his country to marry his beloved Wallis Simpson. The strain King George experienced in leading his country through the Blitz cut short his life, according to his wife Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. I think that the loving and secure home life gave Elizabeth strength while her sister Margaret never quite recovered from the loss of it. Meanwhile, Uncle David occasionally returns from Paris, to mixed reactions, and is hardly able to conceal his disdain for his stuffy relatives, who faithfully try to fulfill their royal duties.
What struck me most of all are the personal sacrifices repeatedly demanded of Elizabeth and Philip, while others in the family follow their hearts' desires. A young married couple in the process of building a quiet family life when Elizabeth is called to the throne, they and their children are suddenly thrust into the limelight. Philip is required to give up his naval career; they both must leave their newly furnished and remodeled home and move into Buckingham Palace, where there are rats in the kitchen, as well as courtiers and stiff etiquette. Philip finds it increasingly difficult to be publicly subservient to his wife. Season 1 ends with Elizabeth sending Philip away on tour, hoping that the temporary separation from herself and her state duties will help him to become more settled into the life of royalty from which there is no escape.
Throughout Season 1, Elizabeth learns that the duty of guarding England's ancient monarchical heritage is one which comes with a high personal cost. The Queen must risk alienating those closest to her, her husband and her sister, in order to protect the crown. For the crown does not belong to her alone, it belongs to her people, who for more than a thousand years have looked to the sovereign as the sign of unity and strength. One of the most powerful scenes is the young Elizabeth upon her accession, dressed in black, receiving her grandmother Queen Mary, who is swathed in mourning from head to toe. Elizabeth, who has always curtsied to her grandmother, is transfixed as she watches the stately old queen sink slowly into a deep obeisance. It is as if at that moment the realization of the weight of her inheritance crashes upon Elizabeth, as Queen Mary, in her act of humble fealty, shows her granddaughter what it is to be a sovereign.
|Jared Harris as King George IV|
|Victoria Hamilton as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother|
|Alex Jennings as Edward VIII and Lia Williams as the Duchess of Windsor|
|Ben Miles as Peter Townsend and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret|
|John Lithgow as Winston Churchill|
Second, in 1917, Our Lady appeared in the region of Fatima, Portugal to three young children: Jacinta, Francesco, and Lucia. Mary indicated that the horrific First World War was soon to end, a war that featured the use of chemical weapons so devastating that an international agreement was developed banning their use. However, she warned that an even more terrible war would ensue if people did not repent and pray. Our Lady went on to say that in the aftermath of the war, Russia would spread the errors of atheism and materialism, leading to grievous suffering for the Church and many of the faithful. She also prophesied that there would be a final warning of light in the sky just prior to the onslaught of this new war.Share
In order to provide veracity to her message, Our Lady promised a miracle at her final apparition. On Oct. 13, 1917, the “Miracle of the Sun” took place, and as many as 70,000 people witnessed the sun dancing about in the sky and moving toward the earth.
In January 1938, a display of the aurora borealis vividly lit the skies far south of its normal reach; newspapers throughout the world reported the event. Later that same year, Germany entered Czechoslovakia, and in 1939, Poland was invaded; the Second World War was under way, a consequence of our failure to repent.
More than 60 million people were killed in World War II. At the end of the war, Russia dropped the Iron Curtain and atheistic communism held sway in the Eastern Bloc. Churches were closed, clergy and religious were killed, and great suffering came to all who would not acquiesce. The prophesies of 1917 proved to be sadly and vividly true. (Read more.)
ShareThe other day, NPR wrote a feature article about a unique program at John Bowne High School in New York City. Despite being in the heart of one of the biggest metropolises in the United States, John Bowne runs an agricultural program for upwards of 500 students. Known as “Aggies,” these students “grow crops, care for livestock and learn the rudiments of floriculture, viticulture, aquaculture, biotechnology and entrepreneurship.”According to NPR, such a program is an excellent addition to the high school curriculum because agriculture is a booming industry. The students who participate in the program will accumulate a wide variety of hands-on experience with which they can land a job in the agriculture sector, a job which may even pull their families out of poverty. But while this is a great reason to encourage such a program, I think there’s a deeper reason why more schools – both urban and rural – should consider a similar one. In a nutshell, such a program promotes what one might call a “chore culture,” a culture which instills hard work, responsibility, and the knowledge of basic skills which today’s society has lost. (Read more.)
Sunday, January 22, 2017
On the night of January 22, 1973, CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite led off his newscast with a report on Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that had been issued earlier that day. (You can see the YouTube clip by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv1bmY4Wd34 .)Share
The report included a comment from Monsignor James McHugh, who was identified as a representative of the U.S. Catholic Conference. Msgr. McHugh stated, “In this instance the Supreme Court has withdrawn protection for the human rights of unborn children and it is teaching people that abortion is a rather innocuous procedure, provided that there are proper legal safeguards. I think that the judgment of the court will do a great deal to tear down the respect previously accorded human life in our culture.”
An estimated 59 million aborted children later, how right he was. Prescience.
In the same CBS broadcast, Cronkite said that Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia termed Roe “an unspeakable tragedy.” In the past 44 years, millions of mothers have been left to grieve children lost to abortion–often silently, as the abortion industry fails to recognize the pain and suffering of its dissatisfied customers. Research has shown that in as many as 60 percent of cases, women are coerced into abortion–meaning that a boyfriend, husband, parent, grandparent, or someone else is pressuring them to patronize an abortion facility. Fathers often wordlessly grapple with their role in the decision to end the lives of their offspring. (Read more.)
Most of us have heard before that one of the most important facets of good conversation is being a good listener, but it's more than just listening to the other person talk. You need to know how to listen and respond in a way that demonstrates you're contributing to the conversation. One way to improve is with the technique of active listening. Ask questions based on what you hear. Really listen and be interested in what the others are saying. Make relating statements. Make comments that show you're paying attention, repeat back key sections, and ask questions that move the discussion forward. Pretend there's going to be a quiz. (Read more.)Share
Saturday, January 21, 2017
SharePerhaps most disturbing of all, just 29 percent of Americans as a whole think race relations are getting better, while 32 percent think race relations are getting worse. The difference is too close to call, but the fact that it is so close is itself painful — and perhaps a warning sign for where we are heading. Is this what so many Americans, both black and white, struggled for over the decades and generations? To try to put the curse of racism behind us — only to reach a point where retrogression in race relations now seems at least equally likely as progress? What went wrong? Perhaps no single factor can be blamed for all the things that went wrong. Insurgent movements of all sorts, in countries around the world, have for centuries soured in the aftermath of their own success. “The revolution betrayed” is a theme that goes back at least as far as 18th-century France. The civil-rights movement in 20th-century America attracted many people who put everything on the line for the sake of fighting against racial oppression. But the eventual success of that movement attracted opportunists and even turned some idealists into opportunists. (Read more.)
In a world where more than 100 billion emails are sent a day, it is tempting to dash off a quick text or WhatsApp message to say thank you for Christmas gifts, but they are a poor substitute for putting pen to paper. Fortunately, it has never been easier to find stylish, affordable stationery. Online store Papier is both like a less expensive Smythson, with its personalised stationery service, and like a sophisticated Moonpig or Funky Pigeon, offering customisable cards. (Read more.)Share
Friday, January 20, 2017
From the first time I saw Mr. Obama, his First Inaugural, I said to myself, “This is a classical tyrant” and wrote an article to that effect. Now, a classical “tyrant” is not some brutal beast. Rather, he is popular, suave, smooth-talking, and ruled only by his own musings. He arises in a democracy when its citizenry have largely lost touch with natural being. Mr. Obama’s notion of America was that into which he wanted to change it. The America of the Founders or the tradition did not much interest him. Indeed, this America was what had to be changed to make the world safe for the America that he was out to re-found, one that looked pretty much like himself. And, to give him credit, he succeeded in many ways. His Muslim and community organizing backgrounds were both traditions that had almost nothing to do with what we once understood to be Western civilization, with its unique American gloss. (Read more.)
The second form of presumption is evident among many in the house of faith (both Protestant and Catholic). I have written at great length about the common presumption that just about everyone goes to Heaven. At too many funerals, bold “canonizations” take place.
Confident expectation of God’s help is essential to hope, but presumption sins against hope by claiming to have already “in the bag” what God offers us on condition. We must freely accept His transformative grace and by it, attain to the holiness without which no one will see God (Heb 12:14). This requires a profound work of God to take place within us. It is freely and unconditionally offered, but we must fully accept it. Our acceptance will lead to changes that many resist and that God will not force.
Presumption rejects the arduousness of achieving what we hope for by claiming to already “have” what is offered. In this way, presumption sins against hope. Once one has what one hopes for, hope ceases. As St. Paul said, who hopes for what he already has? (Rom 8:24)
Clearly, balance is required. Confidence of salvation, yes; current possession or possession without condition, no. Here is one of the best Scriptures against presumption:
Rely not on your strength in following the desires of your heart. Say not: “Who can prevail against me?” for the LORD will exact the punishment. Say not: “I have sinned, yet what has befallen me?” for the LORD bides his time. Of forgiveness be not overconfident, adding sin upon sin. Say not: “Great is his mercy; my many sins he will forgive.” For mercy and anger alike are with him; upon the wicked alights his wrath. Delay not your conversion to the LORD, put it not off from day to day; For suddenly his wrath flames forth; at the time of vengeance, you will be destroyed. Rely not upon deceitful wealth, for it will be no help on the day of wrath (Sirach 5:1-10).Share
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Following one from one of our earlier posts about the colour green, we find ourselves once again on the same topic. This time however, it is about an English eccentric: Henry Cope aka The Green Man. It is reported that Henry loved anything and everything green. This extract about Henry comes from The Omnium Gatherum, 1809.Share
The Green Man at Brighton – Amongst the visitors this season is an original, or would-be original, generally known by the appellation of ‘The Green Man’. He is dressed in green pantaloons, green waistcoat, green frock, green cravat and though his ears, whiskers, eye-brows and chin are better powdered than his head, which is, however, covered with flour, his countenance, no doubt, from the reflection of his clothes, is also green. He eats nothing but greens, fruits and vegetables; has his apartments painted green, and furnished with green sofa, green chairs, green tables, green bed and green curtains. His gig, his livery his portmanteau, his gloves and his whips, are all green. With a green silk handkerchief in his hand and a large watch chain with green seals, fastened to the green buttons of his green waistcoat he parades every day on the Steyne, Brighton.(Read more.)
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Though he gave to all of his Apostles the power to “bind and loose” (Matthew 18.18), to Peter alone Jesus gave the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (cf. Matthew 16.15-19), saying that Peter was the “rock” on which he would build his Church. Just before his passion, Christ told Peter, “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22.32) And after his resurrection, Jesus – who is the Good Shepherd of the whole Church – told Peter to “take care of my sheep.” (cf. John 21.15-19)Share
All of this ultimately means that Jesus gave Peter a special and essential role among the Apostles in the governance and teaching function of the Church. The pope is the successor of St. Peter and continues to exercise today this essential role given to Peter by Christ. (Read more.)
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
The trouble is, I have always been a collector. As a child, I loved jumble sales and buying doll’s house furniture; as a teenager, I accumulated bags of vintage clothes. Latterly, my long-suffering family were forced to accommodate my brief but intense passion for antique copper pans. Another year, I became obsessed with antique linen sheets. Then there’s a wall of vintage fashion drawings that needs constant replenishing, and who can resist art-deco coffee pots, let alone those mugs that look like Penguin Classics? Last Christmas, I asked my in-laws to give me a teapot with legs, to match the sugar basin and milk jug I’d treated myself to; the year before, I requested an antique nutcracker in the shape of a dog. (Read more.)
Hildebrand’s definition of a true personality may not be what we would first assume. It is not the person with the largest following, the most cheerful greeting, or the loudest voice. It is the one who most easily recognizes objective values such as Truth, goodness, and beauty and responds appropriately and with plenitude to each of these values. We find the highest examples of true personality, regardless of their level of innate talent, charisma, or genius, in the saints.Share
Hildebrand was, himself, a true personality, and it was reverent, daily participation in the Tridentine Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours that shaped him and enabled him to write Liturgy and Personality in just 23 days. The greatest evidence of Hildebrand’s just and complete response to values may be the fact that he was sentenced to death by the Nazis in the 1930s for his clear and public work to oppose them.
A primary message of Liturgy and Personality is that we participate in the liturgy not because of what we will receive through it—even spiritual formation. (For me, a 2002 revert to Catholicism, this was a real and welcome revelation.) We participate in each liturgy with total reverence and humility, immersing ourselves completely in the worship and adoration of God, without attachment to any effect for ourselves, because that is his due. We owe Him this—not because of what He’s done for us, but simply because He’s God. We participate in Mass seeking only to honor Him as He deserves. (Read more.)
Monday, January 16, 2017
Her New York home saves on hotel bills and also doubles as a showroom and lunch venue for VIPs. “I wanted to create something that felt European,” she says. “I used a certain shade of blue for everything which matches some of the stones I use in my work. It’s very calming. It’s a colour I really loved as a child. New York has so much energy, which is great when you are doing 10 appointments in a day and you’re jet lagged, but I also need an environment that’s calm. When you walk into this space, you’re transported from the chaos of the Avenue downstairs. You feel out of time. I wanted it to feel historic.”
The all-blue interior was inspired partially by visits to Marie Antoinette’s estate, and partly by the purchase of a pair of 19th century Austrian crystal light fittings with highly detailed mirror detailing, that are on the wall in the bedroom. “They were the starting point for the whole interior,” she says. (Read more.)
The night before he was killed in April of 1968, he gave a speech at a church in Memphis that included over a dozen references to the Bible. It was a prophetic speech, as if the 39-year-old somehow knew his life would soon be cut short:ShareLike anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.
King was on fire in the speech, and the audience was, too. They didn't know — they couldn't know — he would be assassinated the very next day at the Lorraine Hotel. (Read more.)
Stojan Adasevic, a Serbian abortionist when Serbia was still a communist country, managed to kill 48,000 children in utero in his 26 years as a purveyor of death. Sometimes up to 35 per day. But that's all on the past, as Stojan is now one of Serbia's most important pro-life voices. As explained in a recent interview with the Spanish daily newspaper, La Razon:Share
The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue. Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 1980s, but they did not change his opinion. Regardless of what he believed, or thought he believed, Stojan began to have nightmares.In describing his conversion to La Razon, Adasevic "dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from four to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat.
One night Stojan asked the man in black and white in his frightening dream as to his identity. (Read more.)
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Victoria’s 2017 Artist in Residence, Carolyne Roehm, is not only lauded as an icon of style, but is also a noted fashion designer, floral arranger, and gardener. One of her more recent endeavors is the art of watercolors, which make their print debut in At Home in the Garden—an oversized art book whose sweeping expanse covers the 59-acre terrain of her Connecticut home. Here, through her photography and text, readers can witness Carolyne’s process as it unfolds from the design of the gardens through the phases of cultivation and arrangement.Share
Following her childhood dream of becoming a fashion designer, she moved to New York City after college and became the assistant to Oscar de la Renta. “He took a young kid,” she says, “who already loved decorating, music, food, flowers, and beauty, and exposed her to all of that at a more sophisticated and glamorous level. What fun I had working with him. He was the best mentor one could possibly wish for.” She would remain with Oscar for the next ten years until she left, in 1985, to start her own fashion house. (Read more.)
ShareFortunately for this young boy, his parents continued to encourage his creativity and ingenuity even when the fair did not, and today he is in college about to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering. But what about all the other little boys (and girls) in the U.S. who don’t receive encouragement to use their imaginations and invent or create something? Are we hindering something which could be of great help to our children and nation?William Stout thought so. In 1916, Stout penned The Boy’s Book of Mechanical Models, a set of illustrated instructions for children to create everything from model cars to water wheels. But while Stout’s book undoubtedly brought much joy to young boys, his true purpose in helping them create their own toys was to foster thinking and new ideas in young minds. Stout wrote:“It’s easy to make things if you just will think and take pains. There is hardly any kind of a toy that you cannot make out of odds and ends you pick up around the house, if you will just use some ingenuity in putting the parts together. Ideas are what the world pays for. Learn to get up ideas, and those of you young fellows, and smaller boys too, who start now to make things and to learn how to put parts together to get the result you want, are building the basis of business success." (Read more.)
Most people know Molly Brown (1867-1932) was an RMS Titanic survivor but her unsinkability is only a small achievement as achievements go. Molly was as devout a Catholic as they come, and not only did her Faith serve her well in life but she served her Faith even better. Born Margaret Tobin in Hannibal, Missouri, the daughter of poor but devout Irish immigrant farmers, she was one of eight children in a large, rambling, Catholic family. She grew up in a two-room cottage a few blocks from the Mississippi River and attended an elementary school operated by her aunt, Mary O'Leary. As a teenager, she worked at Garth's Tobacco Company in Hannibal stripping tobacco leaves.Share
At age 18, Margaret relocated to Leadville, Colorado with several siblings and other family members where they shared a two-room log cabin and established a blacksmith shop. Margaret's brother Daniel Tobin, worked in the mines and advanced to become a successful mine promoter. Margaret went to work for Daniels and Fisher Mercantile department store in Leadville in the Carpets and Draperies Department. She soon met her soon to become husband, James Joseph "J.J." Brown (1854–1922)―an enterprising, self-educated son of Irish Catholic immigrants. (Read more.)
Saturday, January 14, 2017
ShareAs for Albert, he too had survived a sad childhood. His father was a chronic womanizer who, like George I, went berserk when his wife dared to take a lover as well. Albert's mother, the kind and lovely Duchess Louise, was sent away when the boy prince was five. She had to disguise herself as a farm woman to observe her son from afar.Growing up, the studious and artistic Albert accepted the fact that marrying Victoria would be a magnificent destiny. The Duchy of Coburg was 200 square miles, with some 41,000 people. But he found Victoria's indifference and wish to postpone talk of marriage humiliating. If after a few more years Victoria decided not to marry him, he wrote to his uncle "it would place me in a very ridiculous position and would, to a certain extent, ruin all the prospects of my future life."Uncle Leopold counseled Albert to be patient and continued putting quiet pressure on Victoria. He suggested that Albert visit England with his brother. He hadn't been there in two years, after all. Victoria grumpily agreed.So what turned this into the love story of the 19th century? (Read more.)
ShareWe’ve been hearing for some time that overusing antibiotics may lead to antibiotic-resistant hospital infections, something we may associate with the elderly and other immune-compromised people. But I gather the implications are much more immediate and individual than that. What’s the connection between microbes and the development of the immune system in childhood?When we’re born we do not have any microbes. Our immune system is underdeveloped. But as soon as microbes come into the picture, they kick-start our immune system to work properly. Without microbes our immune system can’t fight infections well.It’s not just the presence of these microbes but what they produce. They produce molecules and substances that directly interact with the cells of the lining in our guts, but also with the immune cells that are on the other side of the lining in our guts. They literally train them. It is only upon the encounter with these microbial substances that an immune cell obtains the information to do what they’re supposed to do. Then these cells in our gut have the ability to transport themselves to other parts of the body to do more training.It was rare when we were growing up to learn of a peer having a severe nut allergy. In the book you touch on a theory known as the “hygiene hypothesis.” What is that? The hygiene hypothesis tries to explain why allergies, as well as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease and even autism, these are all diseases on the rise. And this is not explained by genes alone. Our genes simply do not change that fast. Research is consistently showing that it’s these changes in early life exposure to microbes that are driving the rise of these diseases. The lack of microbial exposure early in life that is necessary for our immune systems to be trained properly and to eventually be able to avoid the development of these diseases.Are there things parents can do — and not do — to make sure they develop a good healthy microbiome and perhaps lower the chances of children contracting allergies, asthma and other related conditions? (Read more.)
The specific weather pattern that the Native Americans of the West recognized and knew would bring particularly severe flooding is once again understood today. The powerful storms originate in the warm and moist tropical Pacific Ocean. Recent research describes these storms more broadly as “atmospheric rivers,” and they often result in the worst floods in not only the American West, but across the globe.Share
The tragic 1861-62 floods may have temporarily served to wake-up the residents of California and the West to the possible perils of their region’s weather. They saw nature at its most unpredictable and terrifying, turning in a day or an hour from benign to utterly destructive. But the costs to the state went beyond the loss of life, property and resources: California’s spirit and confidence was badly shaken. (Read more.)
Friday, January 13, 2017
For the most part, though, ladies of the past were confined to clerical positions in an office. That isn’t to say their work was easy — on the contrary, they often had to work twice as hard to help their boss look good while they got paid significantly less. Taking a glimpse at a few of the documents supplied to women training for the task sheds plenty of light on how put-upon secretaries really were back in the 1950s, which makes their perseverance all the more admirable. See some of the more demanding requirements for administrative assistants below, and be sure to let us know if we missed any other strange rules women were meant to follow while at the office. (Read more.)Share
There’s a reason that the most tech-cautious parents are tech designers and engineers. Steve Jobs was a notoriously low-tech parent. Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Waldorf Schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.Share
Many parents intuitively understand that ubiquitous glowing screens are having a negative effect on kids. We see the aggressive temper tantrums when the devices are taken away and the wandering attention spans when children are not perpetually stimulated by their hyper-arousing devices. Worse, we see children who become bored, apathetic, uninteresting and uninterested when not plugged in.
But it’s even worse than we think.
We now know that those iPads, smartphones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug. Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex — which controls executive functioning, including impulse control — in exactly the same way that cocaine does. Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels — the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic — as much as sex.
This addictive effect is why Dr. Peter Whybrow, director of neuroscience at UCLA, calls screens “electronic cocaine” and Chinese researchers call them “digital heroin.” In fact, Dr. Andrew Doan, the head of addiction research for the Pentagon and the US Navy — who has been researching video game addiction — calls video games and screen technologies “digital pharmakeia” (Greek for drug). (Read more.)
From Monsignor Pope:
ShareWhat is remarkable about these early liturgies is how formal they were despite the fact that they were conducted under less-than-ideal circumstances. The following text is from the Didiscalia, a document written in about 250 AD. Among other things, it gives rather elaborate details about the celebration of the early Catholic Mass in these “house liturgies.” I have included an excerpt here and interspersed my own comments in RED. You will find that there are some rather humorous remarks in this ancient text toward the end.Now, in your gatherings, in the holy Church, convene yourselves modestly in places of the brethren, as you will, in a manner pleasing and ordered with care. [So these “house liturgies” were NOT informal Masses. Good order and careful attention to detail were essential.] Let the place of the priests be separated in a part of the house that faces east. [So even in these early house Masses, the sanctuary (the place where the clergy ministered) was an area distinct from where the laity gathered. People were not all just gathered around a dining room table.] In the midst of them is placed the bishop’s chair, and with him let the priests be seated. Likewise, and in another section let the lay men be seated facing east. [Prayer was conducted facing east, not facing the people.] For thus it is proper: that the priests sit with the bishop in a part of the house to the east and after them the lay men and the lay women, [Notice that men and women sat in separate sections. This was traditional in many churches until rather recently, say the last 150 years.] and when you stand to pray, the ecclesial leaders rise first, and after them the lay men, and again, then the women. Now, you ought to face to east to pray for, as you know, scripture has it, Give praise to God who ascends above the highest heavens to the east. [Again, note that Mass was NOT celebrated facing the people as some suppose of the early Church. Everyone was to face to the east, both clergy and laypeople. Everyone faced in the same direction. The text cites Scripture as the reason for this. God is to the east, the origin of the light.] (Read more.)
Thursday, January 12, 2017
He has been made and remade by others. He is there in the films of Max Reinhardt and Lotte Reiniger, and in the romances of Walt Disney. Rackham family myth has it that Disney invited Rackham to California in the 1930s to work on Snow White, but no biographer has yet found the letter. California or not, Disney’s princesses — Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Ariel — are Rackham princesses. They have the tiny waists, tapestry grace and heart-faces of Rackham’s siren-heroines. (Read more.)Share
Here is what any half way decent parent knows: Boys must be taught how to become real men, just as girls must be taught how to become real women. Without any distractions or nefarious influences, perhaps boys would turn into well adjusted men and girls into well adjusted women purely by force of nature. But our environment does not allow for that anymore. We live in a culture intent on subverting and perverting our nature. Yes, boys are naturally inclined towards the masculine and girls towards the feminine, but many powerful forces are working to usurp the process and sow confusion into the minds of our children. These make up marketing campaigns and “transgender” magazine covers are examples — and results — of their efforts. (Read more.)Share
Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there. People who give their partner the cold shoulder—deliberately ignoring the partner or responding minimally—damage the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and invisible, as if they’re not there, not valued. And people who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them not only kill the love in the relationship, but they also kill their partner's ability to fight off viruses and cancers. Being mean is the death knell of relationships.Share
Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship. (Read more.)
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
The story is set in mid-seventeenth century Japan, where a fierce persecution of the Catholic faith is underway. To this dangerous country come two young Jesuit priests (played by Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield), spiritual descendants of St. Francis Xavier, sent to find Fr. Ferreira, their mentor and seminary professor who, rumor has it, had apostatized under torture and actually gone over to the other side. Immediately upon arriving onshore, they are met by a small group of Japanese Christians who had been maintaining their faith underground for many years. Due to the extreme danger, the young priests are forced into hiding during the day, but they are able to engage in clandestine ministry at night: baptizing, catechizing, confessing, celebrating the Mass. In rather short order, however, the authorities get wind of their presence, and suspected Christians are rounded up and tortured in the hopes of luring the priests out into the open. The single most memorable scene in the film, at least for me, was the sea-side crucifixion of four of these courageous lay believers. Tied to crosses by the shore, they are, in the course of several days, buffeted by the incoming tide until they drown. Afterwards, their bodies are placed on pyres of straw and they are burned to ashes, appearing for all the world like holocausts offered to the Lord.Share
In time, the priests are captured and subjected to a unique and terrible form of psychological torture. The film focuses on the struggles of Fr. Rodrigues. As Japanese Christians, men and women who had risked their lives to protect him, are tortured in his presence, he is invited to renounce his faith and thereby put an end to their torment. If only he would trample on a Christian image, even as a mere external sign, an empty formality, he would free his colleagues from their pain. A good warrior, he refuses. Even when a Japanese Christian is beheaded, he doesn't give in. Finally, and it is the most devastating scene in the movie, he is brought to Fr. Ferreira, the mentor whom he had been seeking since his arrival in Japan. All the rumors are true: this former master of the Christian life, this Jesuit hero, has renounced his faith, taken a Japanese wife, and is living as a sort of philosopher under the protection of the state. Using a variety of arguments, the disgraced priest tries to convince his former student to give up the quest to evangelize Japan, which he characterized as a "swamp" where the seed of Christianity can never take root. (Read more.)
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
The Feast of the Epiphany occasioned much merriment--and expense--at the French court during the Renaissance. The tradition of sharing a galette des rois--a cake containing a concealed bean--traces back to early sixteenth century celebrations of Twelfth Night. The person who found the bean in his or her piece of cake became the de facto ruler for the duration of the festivities. Whereas in England the choice of a "king," or Lord of Misrule, predominated, across the channel it was the election of the "Queen of the Bean" that evolved into an elaborate ritual.Share
According to Robert Knecht in his book The French Renaissance Court (p. 75-76), it was custom at the court of François I to chose not only a Queen of the Bean, but a bevy of eighteen ladies to attend her. The women wore beautiful new clothes, which the King provided: undergarments of crimson velvet with slashed sleeves held together by gold clasps and outer garments of grey satin fringed with velvet and lined with mink. Matching belts, necklaces and bracelets complemented the attire; the Queen wore a plumed bonnet atop a long golden or silver snood adorned with precious stones. When it was time for supper, the Queen of the Bean rose from her seat next to the true queen, Eléanore, and took the King's hand. The monarch led her and her ladies into the hall where two tables had been set. The Queen of the Bean sat above Queen Eléanore, the dauphin's wife Catherine de' Medici, and the King's sister Marguerite de Navarre at the shorter table; the King joined the eighteen attendants at the second table. During the meal, the Bean Queen was served with the ceremony normally reserved for the real queen, who surrendered any precedence during the twenty-four hours of her rival's reign.(Read more.)
That said, I would tend to agree — though for vastly different reasons — that this atrocity was not a hate crime. It was worse. As is often the case with atrocities committed by teenagers in the inner city, it appeared that the primary motivation was not a hatred for the victim but a total indifference to him. They were not shouting in anger. They didn’t seem to be enraged at all. They were laughing. They were amused. They were having the time of their lives.Share
They didn’t abduct their victim and torture him because they had something against him. They abducted and tortured him because they thought nothing of him. They found his pain and fear to be utterly hilarious. It was all just a bit of recreation. They weren’t exacting revenge on an enemy — they were toying with an insect. They were pulling the legs off a grasshopper. The grasshopper happened to be a human being, but that distinction was meaningless in their eyes.
What really struck me about the video, and what always strikes me when another wave of rioting and arson breaks out ostensibly in response to “police brutality,” and what strikes me about the sky high murder rate in the inner city, etc., is that those responsible do not appear to have a conscience. Hatred, for them, would be a step up. Hatred is human. It’s emotional and passionate, albeit dangerously misdirected. But there’s something to work with. A hateful person feels something, at least. He feels the wrong things, but feeling the wrong thing is better than feeling nothing. And that’s what I see in the video: people who feel nothing. That’s what I see all over our cities, in fact.
There’s a reason why over 760 people were murdered in Chicago last year. Yes, some of it was motivated by ordinary, old fashioned hate, some by greed, some by jealousy. But mostly, those victims died because the people responsible simply had no regard for them. It was nothing personal. It’s just that being a murderous gangster is cool and trendy in the inner city, plus you get that sweet tear drop tattoo to go along with it. We always hear about the cases where black kids shoot each other over shoes and so forth, but they don’t really shoot each other over shoes. They shoot each other because they feel like shooting each other. The shoes are just an added incentive.
It’s no surprise that the lack of human conscience has reached such a crisis level in the city. William Golding already illustrated this for us in 1954 when he wrote Lord of the Flies. When kids are left alone on an island without any guidance from their parents, they turn into savages. As a fallen species, savagery is our default state. We need strong families, strict discipline, clear guidance, and a foundation of faith in order to grow beyond those impulses and develop into decent, civilized adults. Our consciences must be formed. They don’t come ready made. They come as clay and must be molded. If they aren’t, they will eventually dry up, turn to dust, and blow away in the wind. (Read more.)
Nestled in a sleepy neighborhood in the hills rising over Pittsburgh lies a small chapel. Inside St. Anthony’s Chapel lies a piece from the Crown of Thorns, a tooth of St. Anthony of Padua, and more than 5,000 other verified relics, or remains, of saints from around the world. Indeed for the fragments from the bodies and scraps of the belongings of countless saints, these relics continued to have earthly adventures long after the saints’ deaths. Many of the relics traveled across the world to escape war, confiscation, and desecration to make it into the safe hands of a Belgian-born physician and priest, Fr. Suitbert Mollinger, who founded the chapel. The chapel now holds the largest collection of relics outside of Rome.Share
“Fr. Stewart Mollinger, well, he had an unusual hobby in which he liked to acquire relics of the saints,” Carole Brueckner, chairperson of the committee for St. Anthony’s Chapel, explained to CNA. But in the midst of the political and social turmoil which Europe experienced at the end of the 19th century, this curious hobby was crucial to saving relics from across the continent. (Read more.)
Monday, January 9, 2017
The transgender promotional cover photo of Avery fails to address the 41 percent of the transgender population who will at some point attempt suicide. Even when affirmed, accepted, and loved, transgender individuals attempt suicide, which indicates that the issues they struggle with run deeper than a change in gender identity can rectify. Sex reassignment has not proven to be effective in resolving gender dysphoria for nearly half of this diverse population of gender-troubled individuals. A review of 100 research findings concludes that sex changes are not effective, and many transgender people after surgery remain traumatized to the point of suicide.Share
This National Geographic cover is slick work, as it attempts to legitimize cross-dressing. Calling it “transgenderism” sounds more current than “cross-dressing,” but the reality remains the same. Avery is simply a cross-dressing boy. Cross-dressing affects outward appearance only; what you do not see are the deeper long-term psychological consequences. No sex is changed; no biological transformation takes place.
Interestingly, in the glossary of the “Gender Revolution” issue, no mention is made of cross-dressing. Yet, to promote their misguided ideological mission to deconstruct gender norms, the author-activists include the recently invented term for all of us non-transgender people, who number about 99.7 percent of the population: “cisgender.” In this way, the sexual activists are engaging in nihilism—dismissing human nature and observable reality itself.
Transgenderism is interesting in theory, but slicing up bodies and injecting hormones is pure Frankenstein 2.0. To treat gender dysphoria, a surgeon operates on a man and makes a “woman.” To keep up the façade, cross-gender hormones are prescribed for life. Is the surgeon’s transgender female equivalent to a biological female? This argument requires some intellectual parallels.
Let’s compare a real diamond with a manmade cubic zirconia. Which one is a real gem? Or take a 20-dollar bill printed by Treasury Department of the United States and compare it with a counterfeit $20 made in the back room of Lefty’s bar. Which one is genuine? Surgically created sex changes and cross-dressing boys are as fake as a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill or a cubic zirconia. Yet, if we are to be politically correct, we should call a cubic zirconia a diamond and accept a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill as legal tender. We don’t want the zirconia or the counterfeit currency to feel sad because we call them fake. With the extreme emphasis on political correctness and safeguarding people’s feelings, we are abandoning all ability to call what is fake “fake” and what is real “real.” (Read more.)