30 May 2008

Kansas Governor Corruption Scandal Update

Another Update: Gov. Sebelius claimed the private soirée held on April 9, 2007 with Dr. Tiller was “reimbursed by the Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus.” It turns out it was indeed reimbursed—only ten days ago, well after the photos exposing her steak-and-lobster party with Tiller made national headlines.
"Once our office started looking into records surrounding this auction reception it was determined that the policy in place for reimbursement on political events was not followed due to staff turnover and the length of time between the purchase of the auction item (September, 2005) and the date the reception was scheduled (April, 2007)," reads the explanation from Sebelius' spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran.
So far as they know, reimbursement has been timely received on all other taxpayer-funded events held at the mansion. Some wonder whether or not the governor’s explanation is entirely truthful, or just a fabricated cover story to save her reputation. The inside source that leaked the photos and was present at the party insists it was an invitation-only event held expressly to honor Dr. Tiller, and not a charity auction prize.

Original Post: Governor Sebelius is seen in this video defending her story that Dr. Tiller attended a Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus Torch Dinner and bought the charity prize of an evening at her mansion. The only problem with this story is that receipts from the 2006 Torch Dinner (it couldn’t have been 2007, because that was held months after the private soirée at the Governor’s mansion) do not list Dr. George Tiller or his wife, nor his abortion clinics or affiliates as having bought anything. In addition, Gov. Sebelius claims the taxpayer-funded dinner at her mansion was a political event, and was therefore reimbursed by the GKC Women’s Political Caucus; there are no documented reiumbursements, however, from the Women’s Political Caucus to Kansas State in 2006 or 2007.

This is looking worse and worse for Governor Sebelius. If she is not outright lying, then at the very least she should have had the wisdom to tactfully turn down the charity auction prize Tiller won, knowing he was under criminal investigation and thus risking—as she has so done—the appearance of impropriety. But until the Governor can produce objective evidence to back up her claim that the private dinner was not held specifically in Tiller’s honor, her office is beginning to smell pretty rotten…

National Review has a good article summarizing the power and corruption of the abortion industry in Kansas, and how it has ruined at least one good man’s career, with the help of Gov. Sebelius.

Market Day

I took the children to Les Halles, the covered market, today. Friday morning seems a good time to go, as not only are all the stands open within, the building is surrounded on all sides with stands selling fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers for wonderful prices. Inside, you’ll find butchers, fishmongers, and cheesemakers, and a nice little Oriental grocer who sells all the little obscure sauces, powders, and noodles impossible to find in regular grocery stores.

Interior of Les Halles, on a day less busy. Built in 1886 by the same man who built the Eiffel Tower, it’s a bustling market center four mornings a week. All around Les Halles, you’ll find flea market booths selling clothes, linens, antiques, and books.

A nearby stand sells olives of all sorts, dried fruit, biscuits, cheese, beer, and jam.

Dijon being Dijon, you’ll find every variation of Dijon mustard under the sun (except American, of course). Dijon mustard is made with black mustard seeds. The crushed seeds are soaked and fermented in a liquid (depending on the type of mustard, it may bed vinegar, white wine, or verjuice grape, a grape that never reaches maturity, retaining a degree of acidity that lends to mustard’s piquancy). After exposure to an enzyme (mryosynase), an essential oil is procured that gives mustard its piquant flavor. It was Jean Naigeon, a Dijonnais, who in 1752 substituted verjuice grape with vinegar in which to ferment the mustard seeds, and thus was born world-renowned Dijon mustard.

Du pain! Undoubtedly a staple I will miss on our return Stateside…

Saucisson sec. I adore a good smoked sausage—not the pasty Pepperidge Farm summer sausage logs, but a chewy, dark rosette, or a sweet and spicy chorizo. In the states, a log can cost an arm and a leg, but here you can get them for a pittance, and in so many varieties it’s hard to choose.

A honey stand, selling every sort of honey and beeswax candles.

Biscuiterie & Confiserie. The one candy stand in Les Halles; I can’t imagine anything more fun than making and selling candy for a living.

Dried fish, olives, and wine.

28 May 2008

Kansas Governor Corruption Scandal

Several weeks ago, Archbishop Naumann bravely issued a public letter asking Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, a pro-abortion Catholic, to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until she had publicly renounced her position on abortion. God bless him. This came after two private requests had gone ignored. It hardly seems the Governor will change her position anytime soon, though; not only is she pro-choice, many think she is in the pocket of the abortion industry. As Robert Novak has written:
Sebelius's connection with abortion is more intimate. She is allied with the aggressive Kansas branch of Planned Parenthood in a bitter struggle with antiabortion activist District Attorney Phill Kline. There is substantial evidence she has been involved in what pro-life advocates term "laundering" abortion industry money for distribution to Kansas Democrats.
Kansas is the home of the infamous late-term abortion mill operated by Dr. George Tiller, who has performed abortions on fetuses of up to 39 weeks’ gestation. It is well-known that Tiller’s contributions to the Governor’s campaign (as well as to pro-choice Democrats in the Kansas Legislature) have been significant. For several years now, he’s been embroiled in a criminal investigation involving charges of having performed illegal abortions. And the Governor, whose position should be one of impartiality, was recently discovered to have held a private party at her mansion expressly in Dr. Tiller’s honor (steak and lobster were on the menu). What’s more, she refuses—in violation of the Kansas Open Records Act—to disclose the cost and source of funding for this event. Little surprise; if it turns out she held a secret soirée in honor of the most controversial abortionist in the nation at her home, all at taxpayers’ expense, citizens would be none too pleased, and her bias in favor of the abortion lobby would be confirmed.

In any case, these photos prove the event took place. As the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Update: Governor Sebelius's office released receipts of the April 2007 event that shows it was indeed paid for by taxpayers. The Governor is now doing damage control: her office (rather ridiculously) asserts the event was a charity auction prize and that Sebelius had no control over who her guests would be that night. This is expressly contradicted by the source who took the photos at the party, saying the guests were by special invitation only. In any case, a month later, Sebelius celebrated her birthday with a Planned Parenthood fundraiser.
Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university, discusses some of the liturgical changes implemented by our Holy Father:
The increase in some aspects of solemnity in papal liturgies is perhaps even more noteworthy. The Holy Father and his personally appointed master of liturgical celebrations have clearly opted to restore some elements that had fallen into disuse, in order to give more splendor to the rites.

This can be seen in the style of albs, surplices and vestments used in the celebrations. In some cases this means using older vestments from the pontifical sacristy such as the magnificent golden miter used in the elevation of new cardinals. This miter, emblazoned with the figure of Our Lady of Guadalupe, had been a gift from Mexican Catholics to Blessed Pope Pius IX.

The violet cope used for this year’s Palm Sunday procession was a new and faithful replica of one that had belonged to the renaissance Medici Pope Leo X. The custom has also been revived of having two cardinal deacons, in miter and dalmatic, accompany the Pope in these processions to hold the cope.

The practice of placing the crucifix at the center of the altar in front of the celebrant is certainly a personal initiative of Benedict XVI.

He had already made this suggestion as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in his book “The Spirit of the Liturgy.” For him this practice is a means of creating a “liturgical east” that helps the celebrant to concentrate on the essential meaning of the sacrifice of the Mass even when celebrating facing the people.

26 May 2008


One of the saints who has revolutionized my understanding of God is St. Therese of the Infant Jesus and the Holy Face. Last week we made the four-hour train ride to the heart of Normandy to visit the hometown of this beloved saint. In the background you can see the dome of the Basilica built in St. Therese’s honor.

If you ever come by this way, we cannot recommend highly enough the lovely Ermitage Ste-Thérèse, a retreat center for pilgrims in the heart of the city, wedged between the Carmel, the Basilica, and Les Buissonets, the childhood home of St. Therese. The sisters who run the Basilica, from Asia, Africa, and South America, were friendly, cheerful, and ever helpful.

St. Therese greets you on the way in.

The Ermitage is run by the Missionary Workers of Donum Dei, founded by French priest Marcel Roussel-Galle, born in 1910. Père Roussel had the greatest devotion to St. Therese, second only to his love of the Blessed Virgin, and founded a community based on St. Therese’s offering to Merciful Love. Their work was to convert pagan souls to Christ, through young women consecrated to God and vowed to virginity. Their first conversions took place among the prostitutes in Pigalle, and quickly spread among pagan souls in the suburbs, the sick in hospitals, students in schools… Foundations were multiplied, spreading to other continents. In the 1980s, the community was enlarged to include youth and families who wished to consecrate their lives to spreading devotion to Merciful Love. Before his death, Père Roussel entrusted the spiritual family to the order of Carmel.

The chapel of the Ermitage, dedicated to Notre Dame du Sourire, Our Lady of the Smile, a reference to the statue of the Blessed Virgin in the Martin’s home that, in a miraculous vision, smiled at Therese when she was mortally ill and cured her.

View from one of our windows, with the roof of the Carmelite chapel in the near distance.

On the same street as the Ermitage, only a few yards away, is the Carmel that St. Therese entered, and where she is buried.

The façade of the Carmelite chapel (the grounds, as you can see, are undergoing renovation).

The chapel up close, with St. Michael standing guard.

Interior of the Carmelite chapel, where St. Therese attended Mass every day. It has unfortunately undergone one of those minimalist renovations so many old churches have suffered from, its pews and kneelers taken out and replaced with plain benches, its stone tiles gutted, leaving only the bare unpainted concrete, and its beautiful white walls covered up by alternating wooden panels. In truth, I couldn’t tell if it was a finished renovation or if it was temporary, that’s how clumsy it looked. You can see in the distance a floating, crucifixless Jesus. I believe this was the carving on the original crucifix behind the altar, removed and placed on its own during the renovation.

Fortunately, the statue of St. John of the Cross was kept, as was that of the mother of the Discalced Carmelite Order, St. Teresa of Avila, on the other side of the entrance.

Here lie under the reliquary of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus the Reverend Mother Agnes of Jesus (Pauline), Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart (Marie), Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face (Céline), sisters of the saint

The wax statue is fashioned after the saint at the moment of her death, a delicate smile on her face. The saint is buried below. Engraved along the top of the case are her words: Je veux passer mon ciel faire du bien sur la terre; “I want to spend my Heaven doing good on earth.” Above her is the actual statue of Notre Dame du Sourire, the one that cured St. Therese during her illness.

To the Blessed Therese, all my gratitude for a healing obtained by her intercession. Queen Amelie of Portugal, Princess of France, May-September 1923

Among the other plaques: Gratitude to St Therese for her protection during the war, 1914-1918. D.G.
To the angelic virgin of Lisieux who sacrificed herself for priests. Gratitude for my healing. Father C.

A stained glass panel of the saint with her father.

A statue of St. Therese (you will find her statues everywhere in Lisieux) outside the Carmelite chapel.

To be continued…

25 May 2008

La Fête-Dieu

De l'Évangile au Quotidien:
Nous devons l’origine de la « Fête-Dieu » ou « Fête du St sacrement du corps et du sang du Christ » à une révélation faite à soeur Julienne du Mont Cornillon vers l'an 1210. Cette révélation demandait l’institution d’une fête annuelle en l'honneur du Saint Sacrement de l'autel. Malgré une vive persécution contre soeur Julienne et ceux qui souhaitaient que cette fête se répande, le diocèse de Liège l'institua vers l'an 1245 puis l'Eglise universelle ajouta cette fête au calendrier liturgique par le pape Urbain IV qui la rendit obligatoire pour l'Eglise entière en 1264. Voici un extrait de la Bulle d'Urbain IV pour l'institution de la Fête-Dieu dans l'Eglise universelle.
Jean XXII, en 1318 ordonna de compléter la fête par une procession solennelle où le très Saint Sacrement serait porté en triomphe. On fait une procession solennelle le jour de la Fête-Dieu pour sanctifier et bénir, par la présence de Jésus-Christ, les rues et les maisons de nos villes et de nos villages.
Here in Dijon the Eucharistic Procession will take place on the lawn of Place des Feuillants, the birthplace of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, whose extensive grounds sit on a hill overlooking all of north Dijon.

Place des Feuillants from the bottom of the hill.

Signs point the way on the hike up

Stone steps leading up to the grounds of the basilica

Birthplace of St. Bernard; only the square tower of the original medieval chateau remains. To the right is the basilica built in the saint’s honor, which fell into disuse for some time but in 2001 was given to the care of the FSSP, which holds the extraordinary form of the Mass here every Sunday.

It was in a room at the base of this medieval tower, the only remains of St. Bernard’s home, that he was born in 1090.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, doctor of the Church, founded 163 monasteries throughout Europe. His parents were among the highest ranks of nobility (his mother Aleth of Montbard is beatified). Before St. Bernard was born, a pious man predicted the saint’s great destiny. St. Bernard was known for having a tender devotion to Mary, and some say no one has written more beautifully of her than he. He founded his first Cistercian monastery at Clairvaux (which his father and all five brothers entered as religious). At the Council of Troyes he was appointed secretary, where he outlined the rule for the Knights Templars, the model of French nobility. St. Bernard was later decisive in healing the schism between the pope and anti-pope, among many other things in this illustrious saint’s life.

The spare interior of the basilica, and the High Altar where Abbé Garban, FSSP priest in Dijon, offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass each week.

A plaque in the interior reminds visitors this is a sacred place. “This church, built in 1890 and fully realized in 1990, has been assigned to Christian worship since 2001. The 850th anniversary of the death of St. Bernard was commemorated here in 2003. By decision of the Bishop of Dijon and of the Abbot of Citeaux, Mass is celebrated in this place each Sunday.”

”God lives in silence.” It’s a sign Dad pointed to when daughter was making a bit too much noise in the church…

A chapel dedicated to Notre Dame de Toutes Grâces; the other chapel, dedicated to St. Louis, was built in the little room where St. Bernard was born.

Plaques in recognition of St. Bernard’s aid and intercession

”In my dream, I saw a great red-haired dog.” Blessed Aleth of Fontaine,

View of North Dijon from the steps of the basilica

The only remains of the old monastery built by the Feuillants, a reformed wing of Cistercians who once occupied the grounds; it was destroyed during the Revolution, its stones sold one by one. Now the cloister doorway leads to a forested path and a little grotto of Our Lady.


The “Lourdes Grotto” behind the basilica

The adjacent cemetery

St. Bernard church, just a few paces from the basilica, is a diocesan parish. The Eucharistic procession begins from here.

The ancient interior of St. Bernard church

View from the vestibule

Altar to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sorrowful Heart of Mary

Old kneelers, which look like miniature backward chairs

The stained glass windows cast their shadows on the stone tiles