24 April 2011


Les Disciples, Eugene Burnand, 1898

21 April 2011

Inanity of the Day

It's Holy Thursday, and I should be focusing on Holy Things, but this was too ridiculous to pass up.
'I went to the teacher to get her approval [to give the students Easter eggs filled with jellybeans] and she wanted to ask the administration to see if it was okay,' Jessica said.

'She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat "spring spheres". I couldn't call them Easter eggs.'
The kids didn't buy it. Regardless of what the teacher said, the students cooed with delight over the "Easter eggs."

Men, Pardon Me

I'm going to get girly for a moment.

Olive oil. My dear women--start using it. Throw away the expensive creams, face lotions, body lotions, and conditioners. Olive oil, I've only lately discovered, does everything, and better. Contrary to what one might think, it does not leave a greasy film on the skin; it's absorbed quickly into the epidermis, and you will be amazed at how soft and supple your skin feels afterward. I've been using regular olive oil exclusively for months now, and it is better than any facial lotion I have ever used.

It is loaded with vitamins: A, E & K. It also contains phenols and oleocanthal, both excellent antioxidants that attack free radicals that cause aging. It also has squalene, which moisturizes skin and regulates sebum, and chlorophyll, an anti-aging element.

Don't stop at the face; olive oil is wonderful as a body lotion, and will soften the toughest skin--knees, elbows, even cracked heels. It also does a superior job removing make-up.

Another thing: it's superior at conditioning hair. Most hair conditioners on the market are water-based and contain wax, which means a hard film is left sitting atop your hair. Olive oil is absorbed into the strands, nourishes it with vitamins, and leaves the hair soft, tangle-free, and non-greasy. Shampoo hair as usual, wash, then rub hands lightly with olive oil and finger-comb. Don't use too much--just enough to get out the tangles, and be sure to spread evenly throughout. Don't forget to massage the scalp. Olive oil is a mild fungicide, so in addition to moisturizing dry, flaky scalps, it can also help reduce dandruff.

And the best thing about it is you can get a large bottle for about $7 that will last you forever.

Ok. Girly moment over.


...will now be a part of my daily diet.

20 April 2011


From this website:
This little one is not screaming. He is not sleeping. But he has gone into shock: a semi-comatose state that the human body slips into in order to physically survive extreme pain and trauma.

After the cutting of his genitals is complete, this little baby may sleep for many hours a day over the next several days or weeks (much more than is normal or healthy for a newborn, and similar to the deep depressive-state sleep that adults often slip into after trauma). He may experience severe 'colic' for weeks and months to come, as his body attempts to heal itself and deal with the very real pain and suffering of both a festering amputation wound, and post-traumatic stress. His cortisol levels (stress hormones) remain high. His metabolic brain functioning has changed. He may have trouble nursing or gaining weight, and he has a significantly greater risk of being deemed a 'failure to thrive' case. He will likely experience pain to a heightened degree in the future, even into adulthood. And his normal sexual functioning is forever impacted as a result of this alteration in form.
The General Council of Vienna held that "Christians may not be enticed into Judaism; neither may they be circumcised for any reason." The Council of Florence, in "Cantate Domino" (1441) signed by Pope Eugene IV, taught:
All, therefore, who after that time [Christ's sacrifice] observe circumcision ...it declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation, unless some day they recover from these errors.
And in the "Bull of Union with the Copts", the same Pope warns:
Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.
I stayed in the room with my son Michael when he was circumcised; although I was completely against it, my husband had insisted. I pleaded with him to change his mind many times--to no avail. The nurse suggested I wait outside while the procedure was done, but there was no way in hell I was going to let my newborn undergo this trauma while I flipped through a magazine in the lounge. I requested anesthesia, and watched as the doctor strapped his legs down onto a plastic tray stained with blood and stuck an enormous needle into his little testicles while he emitted a piercing shriek. The rest of the time was spent uselessly attempting to comfort him, and praying interiorly for strength for him (and for myself) as he lay there wailing till he was purple. How does one console anyone--adult or child--as he takes a scalpel to the most sensitive part of his body? And considering that a newborn has more nerve endings per square inch than an adult, and has not yet developed any defense mechanisms to deal with pain, the procedure is doubly cruel.

I wasn't terribly fond of my husband for a long time afterwards.

Here, Fr. John Dietzen discusses the morality of circumcision.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against moral law" (N. 2297).

Elective circumcision clearly violates that standard. It is an amputation and mutilation, and, to my knowledge, and as you note, no significant medical group in the world defends it as having any therapeutic value. In 1999 the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association stated that neonatal circumcision is nontherapeutic because no disease is present and no therapeutic treatment is required.
Catholic Dads: if you insist on having your sons circumcised because you want him to "be like you," the Magisterium teaches that that isn't a sufficient reason. And Catholic Moms--what the hell are you thinking?

19 April 2011

Effect of D.U. Used by U.S. in Iraq

In Iraq, infants are being born without limbs, or with gaping holes in their backs, or eyeless. These are the effects of depleted uranium used in U.S. weapons dropped in Iraq, which have turned whole living areas into toxic wastelands, the contaminants absorbed by Iraqi mothers, with horrifying results to the fetus.

Dr. John Hittinger, former instructor at the U.S. Airforce Academy and now philosophy professor at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, says, "We can’t hide behind the doctrine of double-effect, or legalisms, and we need to face squarely the indiscriminate effect on Iraqi civilians.... Although this is not a deliberate, direct, planned attack on the unborn of Iraq, it is such a serious matter because we are attacking the sources of life in Iraqi men and women. There is a potential here for a genocidal effect."

It isn't just Iraqi civilians suffering from radiation; American soldiers returning from Iraq have also experienced its toxic effects, with some fathering newborns with severe birth defects. The Chicago Tribune’s Robert C. Koehler writes:
DU dust is everywhere. A minimum of 500 or 600 tons now litter Afghanistan, and several times that amount are spread across Iraq. In terms of global atmospheric pollution, we’ve already released the equivalent of 400,000 Nagasaki bombs. . . . The numbers are overwhelming, but the potential horrors only get worse. DU dust does more than wreak havoc on the immune systems of those who breathe or touch it; the substance also alters one’s genetic code.
This ghastly toll on the unborn — on the future — has led investigators to coin the term ‘silent genocide’.

Palm Sunday, St. Eugene, France

More photos here. Gawgeous.

18 April 2011

Stay Tuned

...for a review of the Norbertine Fathers' latest album: Gregorian Chant: Requiem. In the meantime, enjoy this NBC video clip about the order, its mission, and its music.

World's Most Useless Website

Why would anyone have any interest in tracking the lives of a home wrecker and adulterer?

Oh--because they're pretty.

The Myth of Religious Freedom in Colonial America

Only three of the original thirteen colonies allowed Catholics to vote. Every colony save Rhode Island prohibited Catholics from holding public office, and no colony allowed Catholic schools except for Pennsylvania. Virginia passed a law ordering the arrest of any priest who entered the state. It was regular practice to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day as their English counterparts did overseas, by burning the Pope in effigy and chanting anti-Catholic slogans. (George Washington, to his credit, attempted to do away with this bigoted festival, and rumor has it he died a Catholic.) When British Parliament passed the Quebec Act, permitting the Catholic Church to be the official church of Quebec, colonists raised an uproar against "the popish threat" looming from the northern border.

Founding Father Alexander Hamilton said, “Does not your blood run cold to think that an English Parliament should pass an Act for the establishment of arbitrary power and Popery in such an extensive country? ...Your loves, your property, your religion are all at stake.” The Quebec Act, in his mind, would attract Catholics from all over Europe to America and thus destroy his fair country.

Hero of the Revolution Paul Revere drew a cartoon mocking four mitred Anglican clergy for drawing up the Quebec Act, a dark, winged Luciferian figure hovering behind them whispering his counsel in their ears to encourage their "approbation and countenance of the Roman religion."

Samuel Adams warned that the law “to establish the religion of the Pope in Canada [would mean] some of your children may be induced instead of worshipping the only true God, to pay his dues to images made with their own hands.”

The Continental Congress expressed its outrage at the Quebec Act by penning an open letter to "the People of Great Britain" (the authors were John Jay, Richard Henry Lee, and William Livingston), proclaiming the colonies' surprise that Parliament would support the Catholic religion in Canada, a religion that "disbursed impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder and rebellions through every part of the world." Its conspiratorial tone could rival Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, the authors convinced that Canada's Catholic population would set its sights on invading the colonies, and once having converted Protestant Americans, would enlist them in a vast popish army to attack and enslave England's Protestants.

Little wonder that English Cardinal and Benedictine Francis Gasquet claimed that “the American Revolution was not a movement for civil and religious liberty; its principal cause was the bigoted rage of the American Puritan and Presbyterian ministers at the concession of full religious liberty and equality to Catholics of French Canada.

John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail, gives his impression of the Catholic faith:
Dec. 22, 1774
The Orders of Ecclesiastics at Corunna are only Three, The Dominicans, the Franciscans, and the Augustins, but the numbers who compose the Fraternities of these religious Houses are a burden beyond all proportion to the Wealth, Industry and population of this Town. They are Drones enough to devour all the honey of the Hive. There are in addition to these, two Convents of Nuns, those of St. Barbe and the Capuchins. These are a large Addition to the Number of Consumers without producing any Thing. They are very industrious however at their Prayers and devotions that is to say in repeating their Pater Nosters, in counting their Beads, in kissing their Crucifixes, and taking off their hair Shifts to whip and lacerate themselves every day for their Sins, to discipline themselves to greater Spirituality in the Christian Life. Strange! that any reasonable Creatures, any thinking Beings should ever believe that they could recommend themselves to Heaven by making themselves miserable on Earth. Christianity put an End to the Sacrifice of Iphigenias and other Grecian Beauties and it probably will discontinue the Incineration of Widows in Malabar: but it may be made a question whether the Catholick Religion has not retained to this day Cruelties as inhuman and antichristian as those of Antiquity.
And in an October 9, 1774 letter:
This afternoon, led by curiosity and good company, I strolled away to mother church, or rather grandmother church. I mean the Romish chapel. I heard a good, short moral essay upon the duty of parents to their children, founded in justice and charity, to take care of their interests, temporal and spiritual. This afternoon’s entertainment was to me most awful and affecting; the poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood; their pater nosters and ave Marias; their holy water; their crossing themselves perpetually; their bowing to the name of Jesus, whenever they hear it; their bowings, kneelings and genuflections before the altar. The dress of the priest was rich white lace. His pulpit was velvet and gold. The altar-piece was very rich, little images and crucifixes about; wax candles lighted up. But how shall I describe the picture of our Savior in a frame of marble over the altar, at full length, upon the cross in the agonies, and the blood dropping and streaming from his wounds! The music, consisting of an organ and a choir of singers, went all the afternoon except sermon time, and the assembly chanted most sweetly and exquisitely.

Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination–everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and ignorant. I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell. Adieu.
Enough with the romanticized view of early colonial America and the so-called purity of intention of our revolutionary forebears. Simply to know the Founding Fathers sympathized with the French Revolution is enough to make me wonder--as it should any thinking American Catholic...

16 April 2011

Christian Bale in a cassock. Let me catch my breath...

The actor is on the set of The 13 Women of Nanjing, based on the true story of Fr. John Magee, missionary priest in China during the Nanking Massacre. He is credited with bringing international attention to the atrocities committed by the Japanese by smuggling footage of victims to the United States.

Apparently, the filmmaker has changed the character from a married Anglican clergyman to a Catholic priest. Fine with me...

15 April 2011

Celebrities for Moloch

I've always found Scarlett Johansson's acting contrived and the girl herself slightly irritating; now I officially don't like her.

Last line in the commercial, as the dame is looking oh-so-serious: "Support Planned Parenthood; I do."

As Rhett Butler said to another Scarlet once, "Frankly, mah dear, I don't give a damn."

That goes for you, too, Gwyneth.

14 April 2011

I would never allow my 6-year-old to be groped like this. Ever.

The girl broke down into tears after the pat-down. The mother spoke out afterwards--not strongly enough, frankly.

The TSA has defended its actions:
TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures.
Beginning to hate the TSA.

13 April 2011

Quitcher Whining

Feminist hand-wringing about the wage gap relies on the assumption that the differences in average earnings stem from discrimination. Thus the mantra that women make only 77% of what men earn for equal work. But even a cursory review of the data proves this assumption false.
In a 2010 study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30, the research firm Reach Advisors found that women earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts.

11 April 2011

Equally as Significant as the Boat Race

...is the Oxford & Cambridge goat race. Although the Dark Blues bested Cambridge by four whole lengths on the water, Cambridge's hoofed quadruped showed Oxford what-for by running the marathon in a record 56.9 seconds, just ahead of the other unfortunate billy, whose short recess to take a poo cost him.

But vengeance came during the Oxford & Cambridge stoat race, where the Dark Blues reigned supreme.

Upcoming: The Oxford & Cambridge moat race, in which grease-covered sows are set loose in Bodiam Castle's moat in East Sussex. The first to get to the other side wins the prize of not being turned into bacon.

10 April 2011

This piece of artwork, which hangs in London's National Portrait Gallery, depicts Maurice Baring, G.K. Chesterton, and Hilaire Belloc up to their usual mischief. Baring himself titled the portrait Baring, Overbearing, and Past-Bearing.

09 April 2011

On "Sexism"

Fr. Longenecker says:
Maybe 'sexism' means excluding women from certain jobs that are traditionally associated with men. Call me old fashioned, but I don't think it's a very nice thing to expect women to take on nasty and disagreeable jobs like being soldiers or policemen or fire fighters or septic tank cleaners or butchers or slaughterhouse workers or politicians or trash collectors or bankers or stockbrokers. These are dirty, filthy, and demeaning professions. Women are better than that.

On the Burst of Activity Chez Moi

It's a result of my Lenten fast from Facebook--which has failed spectacularly. So not only am I still visiting FB on a regular basis, I'm adding blogging to my daily routine, wasting even more time thereby. Way to go, me.

Sleepless Elite

Who are these people, what planet do they come from, and why do I hate them?
For a small group of people—perhaps just 1% to 3% of the population—sleep is a waste of time.

Natural "short sleepers," as they're officially known, are night owls and early birds simultaneously. They typically turn in well after midnight, then get up just a few hours later and barrel through the day without needing to take naps or load up on caffeine.

They are also energetic, outgoing, optimistic and ambitious, according to the few researchers who have studied them.
While it's unclear if all short sleepers are high achievers, they do have more time in the day to do things, and keep finding more interesting things to do than sleep, often doing several things at once.
Thanks for making me feel more inadequate and maladroit than I already do. I bet you also make $2 million/year and maintain athletic frames with nary a leg lift.

Thou Shalt Be Tolerant

Michael Voris is forbidden to speak in the diocese of Scranton because he "makes comments that certainly can be interpreted as being insensitive to people of other faiths."

Boo. Hiss.

08 April 2011

Filed my taxes. Now it's time to grade papers.


One of my students, miffed by the 73% she got on her paper, e-mailed me explaining that she needed a 3.0 GPA in order to qualify for law school next year, and would I pleasepleaseplease grant her an incomplete so she could rewrite her essay?

I said no. Mostly because she had copied a lot, and the C I gave her was generous compared to what I usually do. (Yes, I know that was a sentence fragment, but it's my blog, and I'll write as I wish.) Frankly, from what I saw, the girl's not law school material.

I used to think it was merciful to grant such requests. Now I think it's the opposite. You're doing lazy students no favors by encouraging their lethargy. If they get a bad grade, they can suffer through it; they'll survive. Oftentimes it's the kick in the pants they need to improve. And the ones who give up because of a few disappointing grades don't belong in academics anyway.

But back to the point. Grading is purgatory for writers. I hate it. But I need the money.
I used butter today.


I am such a pagan.

The Honeymoon Is over

My six-month-old Labernese pup is destroying my house. His favorite pastime is stealing diapers from the garbage can and smearing its contents all over my (white) carpet. When he's finished with that, he chews the wooden armchairs of my antique bergère and strips off the fringe, then rips off the leaves of all my house plants. That accomplished, he dumps the contents of any wastebasket in his purview and tears the papers into a thousand tiny strips that are impossible to vacuum and thus must be picked up by hand--along with the hundred splinters from cruelly butchered pencils. Oh, and he still hasn't quite gotten the hang of potty training, so many's the time my bare foot has unwittingly met with the unpleasant sensation of cold, gelatinous bulk he likes to leave on the rug. Why not the hardwood floor? Why must it always be the rug? And all this on top of cleaning after three little children.

I know; quit your whining, Christine--puppies take work. What did you expect? Still, many days it takes a herculean effort not to whip out the .38 and have him turned into a lampshade.

When a Priest Suffers

This is the answer and the remedy
for every crisis in the life of a priest:
a return to My Divine Friendship,
a humble and confident return to My most loving Heart,
a return to the foot of My altar
and to the comforting radiance of My Eucharistic Face.

The trials and sorrows that I permit to befall My priests
will serve My designs for their holiness
and for their growth in love.
Everything a priest suffers should send him to My Heart.
A cloistered Augustinian nun will write the Good Friday meditations for the Way of the Cross, to be led by the Holy Father in the Colosseum. Zenit published a letter to the editor from one lady in New Jersey:
To read about a cloistered nun writing the Good Friday meditation was good news to me and I am sure, to many women around the world also. This invitation coming from the Holy Father himself is very significant: 1) it is a sign that the place and role of women in the Church is recognized and appreciated in whatever capacity, and 2) the contemplative vocation is not something to be afraid of because their voices could still be heard from the cloister and they could still make great difference from their silent world.
What a dreadfully silly thing to say. Has she ever heard of the Virgin Mary, the greatest saint in Heaven next to Jesus? St. Catherine of Siena, who singlehandedly convinced the Pope to return to Rome? St. Thérèse of Lisieux, called by Pope Pius XII "the greatest saint of modern times"? One could go on and on. What sort of affirmation do you need as a woman that our role is "recognized and appreciated" in the Church? Really, I do marvel at such women as this one from New Jersey, and wonder if they know anything whatsoever about their faith.

My doubts are only underscored by her second remark. As if the silence of the contemplative life is inferior to a voice in the world! Does she know anything about redemptive suffering? The interior life? The power of silent prayer? Apparently very little, if she thinks the contemplative life is validated by the fact that a nun gets to have her meditations read publicly before millions. I mean, wow. What's intimate converse with the Almighty compared to that?

I know, I know--I'm grumpy.

07 April 2011

I have decided to convert to Protestantism

Littlecote Manor, a Baby, and a Haunting

Fr. Hardon on Detraction

One of the reasons I've grown rather sick of the Catholic blogosphere is because I've seen too much of the following going around, whether it be in debates over hot topics, or idle speculation on certain prominent priests' actions--and this on mainstream blogs whose Catholic hosts should know better.
Detraction is the unjust violation of the good reputation of another by revealing something true about him. [R]eputation is the object of an acquired right, and consequently to take it away or lower it becomes an act of injustice. Not only the living but also the dead have a right to good esteem.

What needs to be stressed, however, is that a person's good name is something he cherishes even though we may not think he deserves it. No matter; it is his good name, not ours. We may, if we wish, forfeit our good name provided no harm is done to others. But another person's good reputation belongs to him, and we may not do it injury by revealing, without proportionately grave reason, what we know is true about him.

Detraction is consequently a sin against justice because it deprives a man or woman of what they ordinarily value more than riches.
Closely connected with detraction and calumny are rash judgments, where we entertain an unquestioning conviction about another person's bad conduct without adequate grounds for our judgment.

Where the rash judgment begins is at the point where we go beyond the evidence available to judge the culpability of the action, attribute evil motives, and decide against the character or moral integrity of the person whose conduct we observed.

The sinfulness of rashly judging people, therefore, arises from two sources: the hasty imprudence with which a critical judgment is reached, and the loss of reputation that the person suffers in our estimation because we have judged him adversely.

05 April 2011

There Is a Special Rung in Hell

for the mother who lets her child dress like this.

It is said a woman once visited Padre Pio in the confessional, and before she opened her mouth, the saint shouted, "Criminal!" Shaken, she asked what he could mean. He told her he saw her three children in hell because of her laxity and negligence over their spiritual welfare.

On the occasions I can't attend the Traditional Latin Mass, I visit a nearby Novus Ordo parish, and always marvel at the way parents let their children dress. I won't get into the worn-out rant over shorts and flip flops, etc.--but you'd think "dress" was an unknown term among the female population. I mean, really, unless you're Christopher West, there's nothing like a nice, big ass in super-tight jeans to raise one's mind to the Holy Mysteries. It's especially nice when this is your attire at the lectern reading the epistle. In addition to distracting half the men, you can add Father to their number, sitting just behind you, who will now have to work extra hard to maintain custody of the eyes.

Poor men! They come to Mass to escape the sensuality and immodesty thrust on them from every direction, only to find more of the same.

Listen well, ladies:

One anonymous man's thoughts:
God has created His church to be a resting place for Christians, a place for people to encounter God without all the distractions. It is disappointing when I walk into the church and have to deal with the same temptations I face in the world.

But I rejoice whenever I see a girl or a woman wanting to serve the Lord by dressing modestly. You have no idea how sweet and challenging it is when I see a woman who has decided not to flaunt her body the way the culture shouts for her to do, but rather she has decided that serving the Lord and her brothers is more important. Glory to God for women like that!
Another man:
The temptation toward lust does not stop for us as men. It is continual, it is aggressive, it does all it can to lead men down to death. [Women] have a choice to help or to deter its goal.
My dear parents, my fellow women, I say this with all charity (and a dose of pique): catch a clue.

Sluts Say Yes

Scantily clad women marched through Toronto yesterday on a "Slut Walk" in protest of one policeman's comment that women who dress like "sluts" invite rape. The refined group of gentlewomen shimmied about advertising their goods while crying, "Yes means yes and no means no!"
Sierra Chevy Harris, a student at the University of Guelph, said the officer’s remarks are “a small example of how a large amount of people in the justice system truly think.”
Number, Sierra, number--"amount" is used to describe an abstract noun, "number" to describe concrete nouns. A slut must know her grammar, after all.
There were a significant number of men among the marchers. Many demonstrators brandished signs with slogans like “Down with rape culture."
Conveniently positioned directly behind the sea of thongs and fishnet stockings, they also shouted, "We love our sluts! We love our sluts!"

Grrrl power!

Ten Days Till Tax Time

...and I don't know where half my papers are. I'd like to blame it on marriage, children, and the general vicissitudes of life, but truth be told, I've always been a hot mess when it comes to these things. (How on earth did I ever become an attorney?) So, to contribute to the continuing procrastination, come and dance with me.

Martyred French Priest to be Canonized

The Vatican is set to declare the sainthood of Normandy priest Peter Adrian Toulorge of the Premonstratensian Regular Canons, guillotined during the French Revolution.
The night before his death he went to confession and, while all the other inmates slept, he wrote three deeply touching letters – to his brother, to a friend, and to an unknown woman – to which he added, “I wish you God’s blessing. October 12, 1793, the evening before my marytrdom.”

In the morning – it was a Sunday – he rose with good courage, ate breakfast as usual, prayed his breviary, before he asked one of his fellow prisoners to fix his hair and cut his beard. In the end he asked his confreres to sing Vespers with him. At the beginning of Compline, during the second to the last verse of the hymn GRATES PERACTO JAM DIE he closed his breviary and cried out full of joy,

“My dear friends, let us stop here, for I will soon be gratefully singing the end of this hymn in heaven… My dear brothers, I will not forget you; I ask God to watch over you. I am praying for all my benefactors, friends, and even my enemies.”

His confreres knelt down and asked for his blessing during which a heavenly joy shown from his face. According to an eyewitness, the guillotine was placed in front of the house of the mayor of Coutances. The crowd was speechless with emotion as they beheld this young priest who went to his death filled with such inner peace. Just before the execution Fr. Peter-Adrian said: “My God, I place my life in Your hands! I pray for the restoration and preservation of Your Holy Church. Forgive my enemies.” After the execution the hangman grabbed the bloody head by the hair and held it up to show the people. It was 4:30. His body was taken to the cemetery of St. Peter in a cart.


I used to take my two little ones (before there were three) to run about on the lawn to the right almost daily, and when les canards flocked to the canal, we'd throw bread crumbs and watch them work themselves into a honking frenzy. Behind the town hall (that building in the background) the river flanked by a dirt path winds through forest that stretches to the symmetrical and immense Parc Colombière--a nice long, lovely walk I took often with my two sausages. Of course, they remember nothing of it--the older one was barely three then. If the camera were reversed you'd see the town library, whose entrance was built over a little cataract and dam; the roar and mist of the crashing water would greet you each time you exited the building, and my children would stare in half-wonder, half-terror at the falls directly below through the iron grill of the platform. Our little apartment was a short walk across the street, and around the corner from us were two patisseries that proved to me no two baguettes are alike; depending on my craving, I'd either visit the one that baked an airy bread with pale, flaky crust, or the other that made a thicker center with a heavy, dark crust. I remember that Christmas, I had run at the last minute to the latter bakery to buy some little gateau or tarte to celebrate the next day--and I was so disappointed to find that everything, absolutely everything, was gone, except for these palm-sized, flat butter cookies with raspberry center--yet they ended up being my favorite treat the rest of the year.

If one walks farther along the road to the left, you'll come across the Church of St-Pierre, whose liturgy was one of the strangest I've ever experienced. Although the priest was present, a woman opened the Mass with some words I didn't at the time comprehend, and kept popping up throughout at odd times. Once there was enough; I knew I'd have to start taking the bus into Dijon for Mass--and how fortuitous a decision that turned out to be, for at Cathédrale St-Bénigne I found a parish home, reverent liturgy, and a confessor who remains as dear to me now as then.

Coming across the photo reminds me of that pedestrian life we once lived in a foreign country. If I could return, I'd love to make a pilgrimage to the Vendée, and visit those grounds hallowed by the blood of Catholics who died for throne and altar. Someday perhaps.

Mmmmm, Beignets...

Torturing myself during Lent.

04 April 2011

The Café Valois of Old

From Nobility & Analogous Traditional Elites comes this charming anecdote of a bygone era:
[O]ne of the effects of the French Revolution, that devoured aristocratic blood and Catholicity, was to impoverish many of those noble families that survived the Terror. However, in spite of the ravages of one of the most violent revolutions in history, the values of Christian generosity and nobility of soul did not vanish. The following words of Monsieur de Belloy describe one such case.

Farewell, O good old days! Farewell, O affable visage of the proprietor and smiling and respectful reception of the waiters! Farewell, O solemn entries of the Café Valois’ dignified customs, which people were curious to see. Such was the case with the Knight Commander Odoard de La Fere’s arrival.

In 1789 the former steward of the Prince of Conti ran the Café Valois; it was rather devoid of political color and local flavor at that time.

Among the frequenters of the place, standing out by his noble manners, stately demeanor and wooden leg, was the Chevalier de Lautrec. He was from the second line of that family, an old brigadier of the king’s army, a Knight of Malta, of Saint Louis, of Saint Maurice and of Saint Lazare.

Deprived of his pension overnight, it was never known what the Chevalier de Lautrec lived on at a time when it was so difficult to live, and so easy to die. But here we have something that sheds at least a dim light on this mystery.

One morning after finishing a very modest breakfast in the Café Valois, as was his custom, the Chevalier de Lautrec rose from his table, chatted with all naturalness with the proprietress, who stood behind a counter, bid good-day to the master of the café with a slight gesture of the eyes, and walked out majestically saying nothing about the bill.
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Let There Be Oysters Under the Sea

I'm really tempted to call her a skanky bint, but I won't...

Cardinal Tonino: "She should be excommunicated."

Rain, Work, & Chris Botti

Sting tends to lay it on a bit thick, but this gorgeous remake of a lovely standard is keeping me company on this rainy day.

03 April 2011

Empress Zita

The cause for the canonization of Empress Zita proceeds apace. The Empress was an oblate of St-Pierre Abbey in Solesmes, and three of her sisters were Benedictine nuns at Ste-Cecile Abbey in Solesmes. It thus makes sense that the Diocese of Le Mans is where the beatification process opened and continues.
The Association for the Beatification and Canonization of Empress and Queen Zita, Wife and Mother, has now been formed. Authorized by the Bishop of Le Mans, the Most Reverend Yves Le Saux, the board of directors includes among its members the Right Reverend Father Abbot of Solesmes, Dom Philippe Dupont.
To conduct this investigation, the support of the Empress’ family is essential. H.I.R.H. Archduke Rudolf of Austria, the eldest of Empress Zita’s grandchildren will assist the Association with this, in order to facilitate its work.
It is permissible now to ask for favors from God through the intercession of the Servant of God Zita of Bourbon-Parma, Empress of Austria and Apostolic Queen of Hungary.
Empress Zita, pray for us.
I assist at the TLM, and can't help noticing how certain men like to make it (loudly) known how well they know their Latin chant. Fine and good, but when they're tone deaf, what should be beautiful turns into penance for the neighbor in the pew. And it was liturgical dissonance I was trying to escape from! By all means, sing--but unless you're a professional opera singer (like my parish priest is), must you sing ten decibels more loudly than every one else?

Short and Sweet

I remember arriving at the Sanctuary in Lisieux some years back, and joining the line for the confessional. A group of foreign tourists (from Latin America or someplace) were huddled about also waiting, and one among their number, arriving late, decided to ignore the line and cut directly in front of me without so much as a "Howdy-do." She wound up talking with Father for half an hour (it looked more like shooting the breeze and chatting it up, from what I could see through that transparent glass cubicle the modern Church in France passes for a confessional these days), and as she left, she smilingly informed me and all the rest patiently waiting our turn that Father was retiring for the day. I almost told her to hurry back and finish her confession by adding "total lack of consideration for others" among her list of faults...

For the love of God and our hard-laboring priests, learn to make a good confession. That usually means short and sweet. The confessional is not the place for spiritual direction. It's not the place to chit chat. It's not the place to talk about your feelings. And for goodness' sake, remember that there are people behind you just as anxious to unburden themselves as you. Understand that the concerned look on Father's face (if you're one of the types who prefers face-to-face encounters in the confessional, which I am decidedly NOT) doesn't mean he's somehow more personally interested in your situation than in anyone else's and wants to hear you going on and on; it's the same kind look he seeks to offer every penitent.

Avoid making excuses for your sins. St. Faustina used to mortify herself by choosing the fault she found most humiliating and making sure to confess that first. Such practices may be painful to the ego, but they are priceless in purifying us of self-love and, if done consistently, can only beautify the soul.

The confessional is for one reason only: to confess, be absolved, and, if necessary, receive brief instruction on how to avoid sin in the future. Say what you did wrong, heed his counsel, thank God for His absolution, promptly do the penance, and be off with you!

Short and sweet!


Best wishness to you with all our heartfullness.

Watch out for falling rock, too.

I'll have the crap roll with a large urine slushee, please.
Like this--because honesty's to be preferred to false piety.

The only thing worse than a woman playing with her hair at Mass

...is a guy playing with his.

This retro shaggy-dog look so in vogue among the younger male population has never made any sense to me, any more than the craze for Crocs or Justin "I like to sing like a girl" Timberlake. If my husband ever decided to start looking like this fellow to the left, I'd have to file for separation.

What's up with the girly-man chic?

I read a while back that birth control has the effect of making women attracted to effeminate men.
Scientists say the hormones in the oral contraceptive suppress a woman's interest in masculine men and make boyish men more attractive.... If the theory is right, it could partly explain the shifting in tastes from macho 1950s and 1960s stars such as Kirk Douglas and Sean Connery to the more wimpy, androgynous stars of today, such as Johnny Depp and Russell Brand.
Good thing I'm not on birth control.

It's a no-brainer that the rise of radical feminism has also contributed to the emasculation of the male sex. The most blustering, strident women are always the most insecure, I've found, and none are more shrill than radical feminists. Gloria Steinem once said, "We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters." Courage? Stupidity's more like it. (The woman who once denigrated marriage ended up marrying Christian Bale's father later in life, and it's said while she was pontificating at dinner, Christian turned to her and said, "For God's sake, woman, shut up." Longtime Bale fan here...)

I'd like to tie this all in to the emasculation of the priesthood, but Fr. McLucas will do a better job than I can, and it's three o'clock on a Sunday and I'm going out to enjoy the Spring weather with my son--who, as far as I can help it, will never grow up to be a girly man.

01 April 2011

The Anscombe Legend

C.S. Lewis never lost a single debate while at Oxford--until he came against Catholic philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe. The subject was: "No thought is valid if it can be fully explained as the result of irrational causes."
Anscombe argued that he failed to distinguish two senses of the word "because," which can be used to denote not only a cause-effect relation, but also a ground-consequent relation. An argument could be valid, because (Ground-Consequent) its propositions entail each other, even if the propositions are generated (Cause-Effect) by irrational factors.
I should also add that Karl Popper does a masterful job in his 1945 essay "The Defence of Rationalism" of demonstrating that theses such as Lewis's fall apart under closer scrutiny. Wittgenstein, of course, needs also be mentioned for his role in showing the "irrational" foundations of language, and, of course, the later and brilliant W.V.O. Quine for his part in dismantling the rationalist edifice.

It seems, based on Lewis's private letters, that he felt he had been "obliterated as an apologist" in the debate, and thenceforward dropped formal apologetics in favor of writing children's fantasies--and we are none the poorer for it, for the turn produced the charming Chronicles of Narnia and the Space Trilogy.

Anscombe herself was a fascinating figure. A Catholic convert, she married fellow convert and philosopher Peter Geach, and went on to raise seven children. The academic circles in which she ran were taken aback by her essays against contraception, and twice she'd been arrested for protesting outside an abortion clinic. She was also an outspoken critic of President Truman, calling him a mass murderer and protesting Oxford's awarding him an honorary degree.

Wittgenstein, whose philosophy had helped untangle some philosophical difficulties in which she'd been enmeshed, was a close friend:
For years, I would spend time, in cafés, for example, staring at objects saying to myself: "I see a packet. But what do I really see? How can I say that I see here anything more than a yellow expanse?" ...I always hated phenomenalism and felt trapped by it. I couldn't see my way out of it but I didn't believe it. It was no good pointing to difficulties about it, things which Russell found wrong with it, for example. The strength, the central nerve of it remained alive and raged achingly. It was only in Wittgenstein's classes in 1944 that I saw the nerve being extracted, the central thought I have got this, and I define "yellow" (say) as this being effectively attacked.
She was named one of Wittgenstein's literary executors on his death, and went on to edit, translate, and publish a number of his works.

Many more interesting things can be said about her, but this one stuck out: She is the one who coined the term "brute facts"--I had always thought that was attributable to Hume, but it seems I was wrong.

And here's a lovely little essay on, inter alia, teaching little children to understand transubstantiation.

From her obituary:
[S]tudents could drop into her house at any time to discuss philosophy among the dirty nappies....Once, threatened by a mugger in Chicago, she told him that that was no way to treat a visitor. They soon fell into conversation and he accompanied her, admonishing her for being in such a dangerous neighbourhood. She chain-smoked for some years, but bargained with God, when her second son was seriously ill, that she would give up smoking cigarettes if he recovered. Feeling the strain of this the following year, she decided that her bargain had not mentioned cigars or pipes, and took to smoking these.

Except when pregnant, she wore trousers, often under a tunic, which, in the 50s and 60s, was often disapproved of. Once, entering a smart restaurant in Boston, she was told that ladies were not admitted in trousers. She simply took them off. When she threatened one of her children, "If you do that again, I'll put you on the train to Bicester", and he did, she felt obliged, given her views on fulfilling promises, actually to put him on the train. Bluff, courageous, determined, loyal, she argued that the word "I" does not refer to anything, but she certainly believed in the soul.

Casey the Punisher

I find it funny

how certain prominent Catholic bloggers keep telling us to shut up about Fr. Corapi yet continue talking about him--and then blame the priest for their loquacity.

Shocking New Encyclical

The Holy Father, in a move that has stunned the Catholic Church worldwide, released an encyclical condemning outright certain practices that have been in place for years. Among its contents,
4) To facilitate greater respect for our Lord, present in the most holy Sacrament, we declare that the practice of lay persons receiving communion in the hand shall be immediately forbidden universally, with no exceptions granted nor any being considered.
See here for more details. Greater clarification can be had by scrolling to the bottom of the document.