Friday, December 31, 2010

Te Deum

The Te Deum. PLENARY INDULGENCE when recited publicly on the last day of the year. Otherwise a partial indulgence is granted to those who recite the Te Deum in thanksgiving.

--The Enchiridion of Indulgences.

This passing year, in spite of the tone of the age, has given us much to appreciate: I shall remember particularly the birth of two French royal princes, the identification of Henri IV's head, and the Holy Father's historic state visit to England and Scotland as perhaps the greatest moments of the year for me. We of course cannot forget the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, nor the long anticipated announcement of the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

For all of this, and for the countless other blessings over the course of the year, and in gratitude for all those who so enriched our lives and went on to their eternal reward this year--among them Archduchess Regina von Habsburg, Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna of Russia, Paul Augustine Cardinal Mayer, Dame Joan Sutherland, and Henryk Górecki--I present Charpentier's Te Deum.

I bid a healthy, peaceful, prosperous, and holy 2011 to all.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Three great French kings

On Christmas Day in 496, Clovis, King of the Franks, was immersed in the waters of baptism, and France was born:

At this time the King was yet in the errors of his idolatry and went to war with the Alemanni, since he wished to render them tributary. Long was the battle, many were slain on one side or the other, for the Franks fought to win glory and renown, the Alemanni to save life and freedom. When the King at length saw the slaughter of his people and the boldness of his foes, he had greater expectation of disaster than of victory. He looked up to heaven humbly, and spoke thus: "Most mighty God, whom my queen Clothilde worships and adores with heart and soul, I pledge you perpetual service unto your faith, if only you give me now the victory over my enemies."

Instantly when he had said this, his men were filled with burning valor, and a great fear smote his enemies, so that they turned their backs and fled the battle; and victory remained with the King and with the Franks. The king of the Alemanni were slain; and as for the Alemanni, seeing themselves discomfited, and that their king had fallen, they yielded themselves to Chlodovocar and his Franks and became his tributaries.

The King returned after this victory into Frankland. He went to Rheims, and told the Queen what had befallen; and they together gave thanks unto Our Lord. The King made his confession of faith from his heart, and with right good will. The Queen, who was wondrously overjoyed at the conversion of her lord, went at once to St. Remi, at that time archbishop of the city. Straightway he hastened to the palace to teach the King the way by which he could come unto God, for his mind was still in doubt about it. He presented himself boldly before his face, although a little while before he [the bishop] had not dared to come before him.

When St. Remi had preached to the King the Christian faith and taught him the way of the Cross, and when the king had known what the faith was, Chlodovocar promised fervently that he would henceforth never serve any save the all-powerful God. After that he said he would put to the test and try the hearts and wills of his chieftains and lesser people: for he would convert them more easily if they were converted by pleasant means and by mild words, than if they were driven to it by force; and this method seemed best to St. Remi. The folk and the chieftains were assembled by the command of the King. He arose in the midst of them, and spoke to this effect: "Lords of the Franks, it seems to me highly profitable that you should know first of all what are those gods which you worship. For we are certain of their falsity: and we come right freely into the knowledge of Him who is the true God. Know of a surety that this same God which I preach to you has given victory over your enemies in the recent battle against the Alemanni. Lift, therefore, your hearts in just hope; and ask the Sovereign Defender, that He give to you all, that which you desire---that He save our souls and give us victory over our enemies." When the King full of faith had thus preached to and admonished his people, one and all banished from their hearts all unbelief, and recognized their Creator.

When shortly afterward Chlodovocar set out for the church for baptism, St. Remi prepared a great procession. The streets of Rheims were hung with banners and tapestry. The church was decorated. The baptistry was covered with balsams and all sorts of perfumes. The people believed they were already breathing the delights of paradise. The cortege set out from the palace, the clergy led the way bearing the holy Gospels, the cross and banners, chanting hymns and psalms. Then came the bishop leading the King by the hand, next the Queen with the multitude. Whilst on the way the King asked of the bishop, "If this was the Kingdom of Heaven which he had promised him." "Not so," replied the prelate; "it is the road that leads to it."

When in the church, in the act of bestowing baptism the holy pontiff lifted his eyes to heaven in silent prayer and wept. Straightway a dove, white as snow, descended bearing in his beak a vial of holy oil. A delicious odor exhaled from it: which intoxicated those near by with an inexpressible delight. The holy bishop took the vial, and suddenly the dove vanished. Transported with joy at the sight of this notable miracle, the King renounced Satan, his pomps and his works; and demanded with earnestness the baptism; at the moment when he bent his head over the fountain of life, the eloquent pontiff cried, "Bow down thine head, fierce Sicambrian! Adore that which once thou hast burned: burn that which thou hast adored!"

After having made his profession of the orthodox faith, the King is plunged thrice in the waters of baptism. Then in the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity---Father, Son, and Holy Ghost---the prelate consecrated him with the divine unction. Two sisters of the king and 3000 fighting men of the Franks and a great number of women and children were likewise baptized. Thus we many well believe that day was a day of joy in heaven for the holy angels; likewise of rejoicing on earth for devout and faithful men!

The King showed vast zeal for his new faith. He built a splendid church at Paris, called St. Genevieve, where later he and Clothilde were buried. Faith and religion and zeal for justice were pursued by him all the days of his life. Certain Franks still held to paganism, and found a leader in Prince Ragnachairus but he was presently delivered up in fetters to Chlodovocar who put him to death. Thus all the Frankish people were converted and baptized by the merits of St. Remi....

At this time there came to Chlodovocar messengers from Anastasius, the Emperor of Constantinople, who brought him presents from their master, and letters whereof the effect was, that it pleased the Emperor and the Senators that he [Chlodovocar] be made a "Friend of the Emperor," and a "Patrician" and "Councilor" of the Romans. When the King had read these letters, he arrayed himself in the robe of a senator, which the Emperor had sent to him. He mounted upon his charger; and thus he went to the public square before the church of St. Martin; and then he gave great gifts to the people. From this day he was always called "Councilor" and "Augustus."

From The Chronicle of St. Denis, I.18-19, 23

Elena Maria Vidal at Tea at Trianon quotes Yves-Marie Adeline, president of the Royal Alliance of France:

Et vu sous l’angle politique, “Noël” est le cri que les Français poussaient aux sacres et aux entrées des rois dans leurs villes: “Noël! Noël!”. Car l’Etat français est né un jour de noël 496, avec le baptême de Clovis qui lui ouvrit la confiance des Gaules en espérance d’unité.
(And seen under the political angle, "Noël" is the cry of the French in the holy places and at the entrance of kings into their cities: "Noël! Noël!" For the French state was born one day on Christmas 496, with the baptism of Clovis who won the trust of the Gauls in the hope of unity.)

Also on Christmas Day, in 800, Charlemagne, King of the Franks, became the first Roman Emperor to reign in the West in over three centuries. Richard at Le Fleur de Lys Too gives a good account:

On December 26, 795, Leo III was chosen Pope. The Roman populace did not like him; it accused him of various misdeeds; and on April 25, 799, it attacked him, maltreated him, and imprisoned him in a monastery. He escaped, and fled for protection to Charlemagne at Paderborn. The King received him kindly, and sent him back to Rome under armed escort, and ordered the Pope and his accusers to appear before him there in the following year. On November 24, 800, Charlemagne entered the ancient capital in state; on December 1 an assembly of Franks and Romans agreed to drop the charges against Leo if he would deny them on solemn oath; he did; and the way was cleared for a magnificent celebration of the Nativity. On Christmas Day, as Charlemagne, in the chlamys and sandals of a patricius Romanus, knelt before St. Peter’s altar in prayer, Leo suddenly produced a jeweled crown, and set it upon the King’s head.

The congregation, perhaps instructed beforehand to act according to ancient ritual as the senatus populusque Romanus confirming a coronation, thrice cried out: “Hail to Charles the Augustus, crowned by God the great and peace-bringing Emperor of the Romans!” The royal head was anointed with holy oil, the Pope saluted Charlemagne as Emperor and Augustus, and offered him the act of homage reserved since 476 for the Eastern emperor. If we may believe Eginhard, Charlemagne told him that had he known Leo’s intention to crown him he would not have entered the church. Perhaps he had learned of the general plan, but regretted the haste and circumstances of its execution; it may not have pleased him to receive the crown from a pope, opening the door to centuries of dispute as to the relative dignity and power of donor and recipient; and presumably he anticipated difficulties with Byzantium.

Lastly, in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, having defeated the Anglo-Saxons at Hastings with an army of Normans, Bretons, Flemish, and Franks earlier in the year, was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey, also on Christmas Day. So was born England as we know it, a great nation cut from the same hardy cloth as France. The relationship and rivalry between these two nations is one of the greatest stories of our Western history.

It was an accident of faith that, at the very moment the crown was placed upon the head of this elected and consecrated King, his Norman guards, mistaking the customary acclamations of the spectators for a popular uprising, fell upon the people outside and put them to the sword while firing the surrounding houses, until their leader's appearance in his Coronation robes at the Abbey door quieted their barbaric fears.

Meanwhile the congregation had fled precipitately from the building. A few priests, however, had wisely remained, and the ceremony was concluded, with few onlookers, but without further interruption.

Nevertheless, even in this turbulent crowning the seeds were sown of future good. William, in his Coronation Oath, swore to "maintain the Church of God and all Christian people in true peace; to prohibit all orders of men from committing injustice and oppression, and to enjoin the observance of equity and mercy in all judgments."

And, though he may not have intended to have done so, he and his successors did actually accomplish something of this kind their strength of purpose, jealousy of all rivalry from their own coevals and immediate subordinates, and their strong Norman sense of law, order, and precedent made England a country in which something more than barbaric feudal anarchy could grow to maturity.

The King's Peace began to establish itself in the most remote and turbulent places; presently it penetrated into the fierce anarchical valleys of Wales and even crossed St. George's Channel.

That bloodstained, flame-lit Christmas Day in the Abbey was the beginning of British history as we know it today. The future of a new kind of world, and of an empire and firm peace wider and stronger even than that of fabulous, fallen Rome, was in it. more

Vive le Roy!
Vive le Roy!
Vive le Roy!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to all!

My Dear Friends and Visitors:

Before I leave to my revels tonight, I should like to send you all my Christmas greetings and my thanks for your loyal readership and support throughout the year.

"Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months having passed since his conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh." So reads the Christmas martyrology. The long-promised Emmanuel is given us tonight by the means of the womb of our Virgin Mother, the Bread of Heaven is laid in a manger tonight. Let us rush to greet Him in His humble stable, the song of the Holy Angels on our lips: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will!" May the joy of the coming of the Christ Child fill our hearts, change our hearts, and grant us the peace beyond all understanding in this festive Christmastide and throughout the coming year.

Thus, to you all, Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, Fröhliche Wiehnachten, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad, as the case may be.

May God bless us, every one!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Peace on Earth

On the birthday of the Prince of Peace in 1914, the war stopped:

With their morale boosted by messages of thanks and their bellies fuller than normal, and with still so much Christmas booty to hand, the season of goodwill entered the trenches. A British
Daily Telegraph correspondent wrote that on one part of the line the Germans had managed to slip a chocolate cake into British trenches.

Even more amazingly, it was accompanied with a message asking for a ceasefire later that evening so they could celebrate the festive season and their Captain's birthday. They proposed a concert at 7.30pm when candles, the British were told, would be placed on the parapets of their trenches.

The British accepted the invitation and offered some tobacco as a return present. That evening, at the stated time, German heads suddenly popped up and started to sing. Each number ended with a round of applause from both sides.

The Germans then asked the British to join in. At this point, one very mean-spirited Tommy shouted: 'We'd rather die than sing German.' To which a German joked aloud: 'It would kill us if you did'.

December 24 was a good day weather-wise: the rain had given way to clear skies.

On many stretches of the Front the crack of rifles and the dull thud of shells ploughing into the ground continued, but at a far lighter level than normal. In other sectors there was an unnerving silence that was broken by the singing and shouting drifting over, in the main, from the German trenches.

Along many parts of the line the Truce was spurred on with the arrival in the German trenches of miniature Christmas trees - Tannenbaum. The sight these small pines, decorated with candles and strung along the German parapets, captured the Tommies' imagination, as well as the men of the Indian corps who were reminded of the sacred Hindu festival of light.

It was the perfect excuse for the opponents to start shouting to one another, to start singing and, in some areas, to pluck up the courage to meet one another in no-man's land.

Read more here of the most famous Christmas truce of the Great War in 1914. More soldiers' accounts of the truce can be found here. Apparently this didn't only happen in the first year of the war either; see here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The state of the church and the world

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Repeatedly during the season of Advent the Church’s liturgy prays in these or similar words. They are invocations that were probably formulated as the Roman Empire was in decline. The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Today too, we have many reasons to associate ourselves with this Advent prayer of the Church. For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function. Consequently the forces mobilized for the defence of such structures seem doomed to failure.

Excita – the prayer recalls the cry addressed to the Lord who was sleeping in the disciples’ storm-tossed boat as it was close to sinking. When his powerful word had calmed the storm, he rebuked the disciples for their little faith (cf. Mt 8:26 et par.). He wanted to say: it was your faith that was sleeping. He will say the same thing to us. Our faith too is often asleep. Let us ask him, then, to wake us from the sleep of a faith grown tired, and to restore to that faith the power to move mountains – that is, to order justly the affairs of the world.

From the Holy Father's address on the occasion of Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia.
Read the rest here.

Viva il Papa.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Catholic Aristocracy: The Conversion of Gloria TNT

Inspired by The Mad Monarchist's recent post regarding the very lovely Princess Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis's first book (with a preface by Monsignor Georg Ratzinger), I decided to look a little more closely into the relationship of the Princely House of Thurn und Taxis to the Church and to the Pope.

During this time she [Gloria von Thurn und Taxis] also became very involved with the Catholic Church. In 1991 she made her first visit to Lourdes, where she worked as a volunteer with the sick and dying who go there in hopes of a miraculous cure. On a trip to Florence six years later, she became enthralled with Monsignor Michael Schmitz, the vicar-general of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a conservative Catholic organization dedicated to restoring the Latin Mass. She also cultivated a friendship with the Bavarian-born Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, one of the most powerful figures in the Vatican. In 2000 she moved to Rome, enrolled Prince Albert in a private school there, and with her good friend the Italian princess Alessandra Borghese began hosting liturgical concerts in churches, attended by Cardinal Ratzinger. She arranged to have the famous Regensburg boys' choir, which had been directed by Ratzinger's older brother, Georg, who is also a priest, sing for Pope John Paul II at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence. In April 2005, when the cardinal was elected Pope Benedict XVI, Germans started referring to Princess TNT as the new Pope's best friend.

I encourage you to read the rest of this at Vanity Fair, as it really lays out well much of what a Catholic aristocrat should be.

For an example of Princess Elisabeth's writing on the Church, go here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The O Antiphons

The seven "O Antiphons" (also called the "Greater Antiphons" or "Major Antiphons") are prayers that come from the Breviary's Vespers during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the "Golden Nights."

Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaias and Micheas (Micah), and whose initials, when read backwards, form an acrostic for the Latin "Ero Cras" which means "Tomorrow I come." MORE
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.
O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.
Come, Lord, and do not delay.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Henri IV's head to return to Saint-Denis

Just three weeks after it was learned a retired electrician in southern France kept over 250 unknown artworks by Pablo Picasso secretly stashed away for the last 40 years, scientists now say a human head another French retiree stored in his garage is the noggin of King Henri IV. The British Medical Journal reports that specialists have authenticated the mummified head as that of Henri IV, whose remains were dug up by royalist-hating revolutionaries in 1793, 183 years after the king's assassination by a Catholic fanatic.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Solzhenitsyn on the Vendée

Matterhorn at The Sword & The Sea notes Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's visit to the Vendée to dedicate a memorial to the victims of the genocide there:

Twenty decades have now passed, and throughout that period the Vendée uprising and its bloody suppression have been viewed in ever new ways, in France and elsewhere. Indeed, historical events are never fully understood in the heat of their own time, but only at a great distance, after a cooling of passions. For all too long, we did not want to hear or admit what cried out with the voices of those who perished, or were burned alive: that the peasants of a hard-working region, driven to the extremes of oppression and humiliation by a revolution supposedly carried out for their sake-- that these peasants had risen up against the revolution!

The great Solzhenitsyn never ceased to raise his voice against the moral vacuum of the modern deracinated world, perhaps nowhere better expressed than in his 1978 address at Harvard University:

Harvard's motto is "Veritas." Many of you have already found out and others will find out in the course of their lives that truth eludes us if we do not concentrate with total attention on its pursuit. And even while it eludes us, the illusion still lingers of knowing it and leads to many misunderstandings. Also, truth is seldom pleasant; it is almost invariably bitter. There is some bitterness in my speech today, too. But I want to stress that it comes not from an adversary but from a friend.

Thank you, Aleksandr Isayevich.
Vive le Roy.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Paris en hiver

Madame Vidal at Tea at Trianon reflects on the loveliness of Paris under the recent snows here. Would that I were enjoying une tasse de chocolat chaud there now.

Instead, I'll let Monet and Debussy transport me there:

Vive la France.

Empress of the Americas

HAIL, O Virgin of Guadalupe, Empress of America!
Keep forever under thy powerful patronage
the purity and integrity of Our Holy Faith
on the entire American continent. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us,
keep us under thy mantle and be our salvation.

It is suggested that three Hail Marys be recited for North, Central and South America.

-Pope Pius XII

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Was Medieval England more Merrie than thought?

Medieval England was not only far more prosperous than previously believed, it also actually boasted an average income that would be more than double the average per capita income of the world's poorest nations today, according to new research.

Living standards in medieval England were far above the "bare bones subsistence" experience of people in many of today's poor countries, a study says.

"The majority of the British population in medieval times could afford to consume what we call a 'respectability basket' of consumer goods that allowed for occasional luxuries," said University of Warwick economist Professor Stephen Broadberry, who led the research.

"By the late Middle Ages, the English people were in a position to afford a varied diet including meat, dairy produce and ale, as well as the less highly processed grain products that comprised the bulk of the bare bones subsistence diet," he added.

Read more at Le Fleur de Lys Too. In the meantime, some Old English music in honour of Our Lady on the feast of her Immaculate Conception:

Our wounded nature's solitary boast

Our soul overflows with joy and our tongue with exultation. We give, and we shall continue to give, the humblest and deepest thanks to Jesus Christ, our Lord, because through his singular grace he has granted to us, unworthy though we be, to decree and offer this honor and glory and praise to his most holy Mother. All our hope do we repose in the most Blessed Virgin -- in the all fair and immaculate one who has crushed the poisonous head of the most cruel serpent and brought salvation to the world: in her who is the glory of the prophets and apostles, the honor of the martyrs, the crown and joy of all the saints; in her who is the safest refuge and the most trustworthy helper of all who are in danger; in her who, with her only-begotten Son, is the most powerful Mediatrix and Conciliatrix in the whole world; in her who is the most excellent glory, ornament, and impregnable stronghold of the holy Church; in her who has destroyed all heresies and snatched the faithful people and nations from all kinds of direst calamities; in her do we hope who has delivered us from so many threatening dangers. We have, therefore, a very certain hope and complete confidence that the most Blessed Virgin will ensure by her most powerful patronage that all difficulties be removed and all errors dissipated, so that our Holy Mother the Catholic Church may flourish daily more and more throughout all the nations and countries, and may reign "from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth," and may enjoy genuine peace, tranquility and liberty. We are firm in our confidence that she will obtain pardon for the sinner, health for the sick, strength of heart for the weak, consolation for the afflicted, help for those in danger; that she will remove spiritual blindness from all who are in error, so that they may return to the path of truth and justice, and that here may be one flock and one shepherd.

Let all the children of the Catholic Church, who are so very dear to us, hear these words of ours. With a still more ardent zeal for piety, religion and love, let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin. Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts and fears. Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard.

Blessed Pope Pius IX
Ineffabilis Deus

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dorothy Day

This week was commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of the death of perhaps the greatest advocate for an authentically Catholic view of that much-maligned phrase, social justice, in the 20th century. When we hear of social justice, we often think of progressive-inspired Social Gospel types, or of crypto-Marxist liberation theologians. The Catholic Worker is emphatically not any of these, to wit:

Dorothy explained why perhaps other Catholics would not understand the Catholic Workers when they criticized capitalism and recommended distributism, even reporting them to the Bishop: "We were not taking the position of the great mass of Catholics, who were quite content with the present in this world. They were quite willing to give to the poor, but they did not feel called upon to work for the things of this life for others which they themselves esteemed so lightly. Our insistence on worker-ownership, on the right of private property, on the need to de-proletarize the worker, all points which had been emphasized by the Popes in their social encyclicals, made many Catholics think we were Communists in disguise, wolves in sheep's clothing."

Dorothy continued, "The Vatican paper warned us recently of regarding Americanism or Communism as the only two alternatives. It is hard to see why our criticism of capitalism should have aroused such protest" (William Miller, Dorothy Day: a Biography, Harper and Row, 1982, p. 428).

Dorothy quoted Joseph T. Nolan from Orate Fratres on the support of Popes in their encyclicals for the CW position: "Too long has idle talk made out of Distributism as something medieval and myopic, as if four modern popes were somehow talking nonsense when they said: the law should favor widespread ownership (Leo XIII); land is the most natural form of property (Leo XIII and Pius XII); wages should enable a man to purchase land (Leo XIII and Pius XI); the family is most perfect when rooted in its own holding (Pius XII); agriculture is the first and most important of all the arts and the tiller of the soil still represents the natural order of things willed by God (Pius XII) (Catholic Worker, July-Aug. 1948). More

Hat tip to Joshua Snyder at The Western Confucian.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Saint Andrew

Today is celebrated the first-called apostle, St. Andrew, brother of St. Peter. In the year 832, Pictish King Óengus II, before leading his armies into battle against the larger force of the Angles, prayed that victory may be his, and vowed that should he prevail, St. Andrew would become the patron saint of Scotland. In the midst of the battle, Óengus looked up to see the clouds forming the saltire upon which St. Andrew was crucified against the blue sky. Victorious, he remembered his promise and adopted St. Andrew as patron saint of Scotland. Moreover, the white cross against the blue sky eventually became Scotland's flag.

The air to which "Scots Wha Hae" is set, incidentally, was reportedly played when Jehanne arrived in Orléans to break the English siege.

St. Andrew also founded the See of Constantinople, and is the patron saint of Greece, Russia, and several other Orthodox countries. Let us ask our gracious Lord through the intercession of St. Andrew to watch over and guide his successor, His All-Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch, and to move those ancient and venerable churches of the East into ever closer union with the Church of Rome.
Image used under license; please click the image to view the license.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Deus vult!

On November 27, 1095, Blessed Pope Urban II called at the Council of Clermont for a Crusade against the heathen and for the relief of the distressed Greeks:

Oh, race of Franks, race from across the mountains, race chosen and beloved by God as shines forth in very many of your works set apart from all nations by the situation of your country, as well as by your catholic faith and the honor of the holy church! To you our discourse is addressed and for you our exhortation is intended. We wish you to know what a grievous cause has led us to Your country, what peril threatening you and all the faithful has brought us.

From the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible tale has gone forth and very frequently has been brought to our ears, namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God, a generation forsooth which has not directed its heart and has not entrusted its spirit to God, has invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by the sword, pillage and fire; it has led away a part of the captives into its own country, and a part it has destroyed by cruel tortures; it has either entirely destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of its own religion. They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness. They circumcise the Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they either spread upon the altars or pour into the vases of the baptismal font. When they wish to torture people by a base death, they perforate their navels, and dragging forth the extremity of the intestines, bind it to a stake; then with flogging they lead the victim around until the viscera having gushed forth the victim falls prostrate upon the ground. Others they bind to a post and pierce with arrows. Others they compel to extend their necks and then, attacking them with naked swords, attempt to cut through the neck with a single blow. What shall I say of the abominable rape of the women? To speak of it is worse than to be silent. The kingdom of the Greeks is now dismembered by them and deprived of territory so vast in extent that it can not be traversed in a march of two months. On whom therefore is the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory incumbent, if not upon you? You, upon whom above other nations God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great courage, bodily activity, and strength to humble the hairy scalp of those who resist you.

Let the deeds of your ancestors move you and incite your minds to manly achievements; the glory and greatness of king Charles the Great, and of his son Louis, and of your other kings, who have destroyed the kingdoms of the pagans, and have extended in these lands the territory of the holy church. Let the holy sepulchre of the Lord our Saviour, which is possessed by unclean nations, especially incite you, and the holy places which are now treated with ignominy and irreverently polluted with their filthiness. Oh, most valiant soldiers and descendants of invincible ancestors, be not degenerate, but recall the valor of your progenitors.

But if you are hindered by love of children, parents and wives, remember what the Lord says in the Gospel, "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me." "Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake shall receive an hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting life." Let none of your possessions detain you, no solicitude for your family affairs, since this land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the seas and surrounded by the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth; and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder one another, that you wage war, and that frequently you perish by mutual wounds. Let therefore hatred depart from among you, let your quarrels end, let wars cease, and let all dissensions and controversies slumber. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulchre; wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves. That land which as the Scripture says "floweth with milk and honey," was given by God into the possession of the children of Israel Jerusalem is the navel of the world; the land is fruitful above others, like another paradise of delights. This the Redeemer of the human race has made illustrious by His advent, has beautified by residence, has consecrated by suffering, has redeemed by death, has glorified by burial. This royal city, therefore, situated at the centre of the world, is now held captive by His enemies, and is in subjection to those who do not know God, to the worship of the heathens. She seeks therefore and desires to be liberated, and does not cease to implore you to come to her aid. From you especially she asks succor, because, as we have already said, God has conferred upon you above all nations great glory in arms. Accordingly undertake this journey for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the kingdom of heaven.

When Pope Urban had said these and very many similar things in his urbane discourse, he so influenced to one purpose the desires of all who were present, that they cried out, "It is the will of God! It is the will of God!" When the venerable Roman pontiff heard that, with eyes uplifted to heaven he gave thanks to God and, with his hand commanding silence, said:

Most beloved brethren, today is manifest in you what the Lord says in the Gospel, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them." Unless the Lord God had been present in your spirits, all of you would not have uttered the same cry. For, although the cry issued from numerous mouths, yet the origin of the cry was one. Therefore I say to you that God, who implanted this in your breasts, has drawn it forth from you. Let this then be your war-cry in combats, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: It is the will of God! It is the will of God!

And we do not command or advise that the old or feeble, or those unfit for bearing arms, undertake this journey; nor ought women to set out at all, without their husbands or brothers or legal guardians. For such are more of a hindrance than aid, more of a burden than advantage. Let the rich aid the needy; and according to their wealth, let them take with them experienced soldiers. The priests and clerks of any order are not to go without the consent of their bishop; for this journey would profit them nothing if they went without permission of these. Also, it is not fitting that laymen should enter upon the pilgrimage without the blessing of their priests.

Whoever, therefore, shall determine upon this holy pilgrimage and shall make his vow to God to that effect and shall offer himself to Him as a, living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, shall wear the sign of the cross of the Lord on his forehead or on his breast. When,' truly',' having fulfilled his vow be wishes to return, let him place the cross on his back between his shoulders. Such, indeed, by the twofold action will fulfill the precept of the Lord, as He commands in the Gospel, "He that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."

--Robert the Monk


Rorate coeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.

Ne irascaris, Domine, ne ultra memineris iniquitatis:
Ecce civitas sancti facta est deserta:
Sion deserta facta est: Ierusalem desolata est:
Domus sanctificationis tuae et gloriae tuae,
Ubi laudaverunt patres nostri.

Rorate coeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.

Peccavimus, et facti sumus tamquam immundus nos,
Et cicidimus quasi folium universi:
Et iniquitatis nostrae quasi ventus abstulerunt nos:
Abscondisti faciem tuam a nobis,
Et allisisti nos in manu iniquitatis nostrae.

Rorate coeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.

Vide, Domine, afflictionem populi tui,
Et mitte quam missurus es:
Emitte Agnum dominatorem terrae,
De petra deserti ad montem filiae Sion
Ut auferat ipse iugum captivitatis nostrae.

Rorate coeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.

Consolamini, consolamini, popule meus:
Cito veniet salus tua:
Quare moerore consumeris, quia innovavit dolor?
Salvabo te, noli timere, ego enim sum Dominus Deus tuus,
Sanctus Israel, Redemptor tuus.

Rorate coeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum.

Image file used under license; please click on the image to see the license.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Come home, America

An antidote to the conspicuous consumption we will surely see on this day. Already at the local shopping centres, people are lining up so they can be the first into the stores. This attitude is not what made our country great, and has caused not only ourselves, but the world over, to sink into the grips of recession.

For the sake of future generations, stop this silliness at once. We have our families and our friends, our mountains and our oceans, our faith and our customs. What we scorn as hokey and corny our ancestors once took as the royal purple. So ironic it is that after giving thanks for what we have, we should callously trample on security guards that we might have more.

America, that day is done. If you seek to be a leader in the world, come home now, and show the virtues that have made us a great nation, and (not just Americans, but all of us Westerners) a great culture in the past.

This blog post is dedicated to a darling little girl whom I sadly won't be able to visit today.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving for Catholics

The Americans have established a Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the fact that the Pilgrim Fathers reached America. The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day; to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England. I know that this is still regarded as a historical heresy, by those who have long ceased to worry about a religious heresy. For while these persons still insist that the Pilgrim Fathers were champions of religious liberty, nothing is more certain than the fact that an ordinary modern liberal, sailing with them, would have found no liberty, and would have intensely disliked all that he found of religion. Even Thanksgiving Day itself, though it is now kept in a most kindly and charming fashion by numbers of quite liberal and large-minded Americans, was originally intended, I believe, as a sort of iconoclastic expedient for destroying the celebration of Christmas. The Puritans everywhere had a curious and rabid dislike of Christmas; which does not encourage me, for one, to develop a special and spiritual fervour for Puritanism. Oddly enough, however, the Puritan tradition in America has often celebrated Thanksgiving Day by often eliminating the Christmas Pudding, but preserving the Christmas Turkey. I do not know why, unless the name of Turkey reminded them of the Prophet of Islam, who was also the first Prophet of Prohibition.

G.K. Chesterton
What I Saw in America

Thanksgiving Day is far from my favourite holiday. For one, as the great Chesterton intimates above, it seems a parody of the secular celebration of a religious feast--not just Christmas, as Chesterton mentioned (though since his writing, they've sure done quite a number on that), but also Martinmas, Twelfth Night, and all the winter festivals on the Church's calendar celebrated so merrily by our ancestors. Certainly the feast has quasi-religious overtones, but the religion celebrated therein is not mine, but rather the civil religion of Americanism, to which it seems the almost all of my co-citizens, not just even but especially Catholics, adhere. I reside in Massachusetts, indeed the historic nest of Puritanism, which has nonetheless one of the proportionally largest Catholic populations in the United States. So does that make Massachusetts a Catholic state? Hardly, for Americanization has turned the vast majority of my co-religionists here into cultural Puritans, even though actual descendants of Mayflower passengers are hard to find here today.

As my line in Canada was often at war with the Puritans' line, I find it almost a betrayal of my ancestors to submit to these most radical of rebels against the Church, then in the American Revolution rebels against their King (an Anglican Church and Hanover King, moreover; even the original political and religious rebellions of England were not radical enough for them). Long questioning the propriety of celebrating Thanksgiving Day, with these origins, I come to the conclusion that a national day of thanksgiving be acceptable, so long as it does not obtrude on the religious calendar, but that any celebration of the Pilgrim Fathers is not for a Catholic, especially one of French-Canadian descent as myself.

So where does that leave me? Shall the Thanksgiving feast be moved to what is here known as Columbus Day, as it is in Canada currently, in celebration of the New World being opened to our ancestors (not just English, and not just French, moreover), and in thanksgiving for the extensive Christianization of the Americas? As it is a civil holiday already, such would make sense, with the November holiday treated just as the October holiday is now, another day off. Or shall it be moved to the feast of St. Martin, the favourite of saints among the poilus in the trenches of the Great War, again a public holiday as Veterans' or Armistice or Remembrance Day, in thanksgiving for the peace in which we live and the peace that came about on his feast after certainly numerous petitions to him from the front? These are both excellent ideas indeed, and can be treated additionally to the late November holiday, but let me add another possibility.

Thanksgiving Day always falls shortly before the First Sunday of Advent, and Advent should have a somewhat penitential character. (No, it is not the "holiday season"; perhaps the greatest penance so many of us could observe is refraining from the materialism so inherent therein.) And so we have a civil holiday right before this season of preparation; in other words, a sort of early-winter Mardi Gras, and a celebration of thanksgiving for all that has come to pass within the ending liturgical year. So does it become us to make merry and celebrate the great bounty our gracious God has laid before us before the four weeks of preparing our souls to run with the shepherds of Bethlehem to the Infant-King in His manger? I very well think that it does. Is there precedent for this?

Certainly, a celebration of the feast given by Don Juan de Oñote, the conquistador who took New Mexico for the Church and for Spain is well in order, a reminder of the thanks to be given to the Lord in all things. Oñote's feast preceded that of the Puritans, occurred on American soil, and involved a Mass and the many priests who travelled with his expedition. Our feast can indeed be a memorial of Oñote's feast.

Bur more directly related to the season to come, it so appears that we can even celebrate the Puritans' feast to some extent. Any schoolchild can probably tell you that what enabled to Pilgrims to survive was agricultural assistance given them by the Indian Squanto. Apparently, Squanto was Catholic. He was redeemed from slavery by Spanish Franciscans and thereafter baptized and instructed in the faith. One must wonder how different history would be had he shared the same faith as his Puritan neighbours.

Likely he would then have seen their poor harvests as a sign that they were not elect, as God did not grace their work that they might prosper, and the Pilgrims would then have starved or frozen to death. But no, Squanto, the real hero of the feast, likely remembered what the Little Brothers of Christ had taught him about the criterion of our judgement: "as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren..." The English had once enslaved him, but coming on these poor Englishmen in a dire situation, Squanto surely did not look on them as reprobates who got what they deserved, but remembered how Our Lord had commanded that we love our enemies. As we consider at the turning of the liturgical year that Christ will come again to judge us, we would do well to use this little reflection to examine our conscience as we prepare to celebrate his first coming, give alms as generously as we can, and become those "men of good will" to whom the holy angels granted peace when first heralding God among us.

And so, contrary to Puritan mores, I pour a glass of America's great native drink, bourbon whiskey, and invite you, readers, to join me in a toast--to Don Oñote and to Squanto. May these true American heroes never be forgotten. Now go forth and revel!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Notes from around

There are a few overdue notes to which some links are in order:

To begin, recently was commemorated the bicentennial of the Mexican Republic. Readers will know that I'm not a great supporter of republics, and I'm certainly not blind to the sins of the Mexican Republic, particularly during its most anticlerical periods, such as the Cristero War, the execution of the Emperor Maximilian, and so forth. Nonetheless, throughout all the tumult, though Mexico may often have forgotten Our Lady of Guadalupe, I highly doubt Our Lady of Guadalupe has forgotten Mexico. Andrew Cusack has recently posted much about Mexico, which can be found here.

Next, 125 years ago this past week was executed the Father of Manitoba Louis Riel for treason. Whether Riel should be considered a hero to his Catholic, traditional Métis people or a traitor to the Crown and the Canadian provinces he helped create, a noble and faithful chief or a crazed, self-anointed prophet, is one of the open questions of the history of the North American continent to my mind. Depending on whom one asks in Canada to this day, Riel is either Charlemagne or Che Guevara. I thus leave the reader to draw whichever conclusion he may about Riel's revolts. Having the great Canadian voyageur well-represented in my bloodline, though, I send my warm and affectionate regards to my cousins on the prairie on this occasion. Vive les Métis!

Furthermore, recently several anniversaries of Charles De Gaulle, the liberator of France and almost universally acclaimed the greatest president of the French Republic, have passed: the 120th anniversary of his birth and the 40th anniversary of his death. I've often cited the example of De Gaulle as evidence that France is by nature a monarchy. In the midst of national crisis, Monsieur le Président was made president by acclamation (like a monarch) and the constitution of the Fifth French Republic was written explicitly to accord with his style of government (like a monarch), his strong rule saving France as a prime player upon the international stage, under the sway of no other land.

Lastly, His Imperial and Royal Highness Dr. Otto von Habsburg celebrates his 98th birthday. Though he has never taken a throne, his long life is exemplary for a royal in this age, whether crowned or uncrowned. Thanks to J.K. Baltzerson at Wilson Revolution Unplugged for this image and link.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

At long last

It was announced today that HRH Prince William of Wales and Miss Kate Middleton will marry--an announcement that we have been anticipating for years now. We at Et Lux in Tenebris Lucet are overjoyed to offer our congratulations to the future King and Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the many other Commonwealth realms.

Sadly, I heard a radio commentator earlier today souring the joy of this event for all of us by talking about what would happen were this couple ever to divorce--this before they are even married. I actually shouted (as though this commentator could actually hear me) that he should mind his impudent tongue and not attempt to sour the joy of the happy couple, of their families (particularly of Her Majesty), and of the world at large with his cynicism. It gravely disappoints me that the pundits should turn so immediately to naysaying but a few hours after Clarence House made the official announcement.

God save the Queen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Henryk Górecki, RIP

We receive the sad report today that Henryk Górecki, one of the finest composers of our age, died earlier today. I recall discovering his Third Symphony, the second movement of which is performed above, when I was but an adolescent, and locking myself in my room to listen to it over and over again. Górecki here talks about the libretto of this movement:

In prison, the whole wall was covered with inscriptions screaming out loud: "I'm innocent," "Murderers," "Executioners," "Free me," "You have to save me"—it was all so loud, so banal. Adults were writing this, while here it is an eighteen-year-old girl, almost a child. And she is so different. She does not despair, does not cry, does not scream for revenge. She does not think about herself; whether she deserves her fate or not. Instead, she only thinks about her mother: because it is her mother who will experience true despair. This inscription was something extraordinary. And it really fascinated me: "Mother, do not cry, no. The purest Queen of Heaven, you always support me. Hail Mary." Here the inscription ended and I added: "You are full of grace." Not "Full of grace" as it is in the prayer, but "You are full of. . ."

Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

St. Martin of Tours

So far as I can tell, the ancestral village of the house of Palardy is St-Martin-Hermine-en-Lars in the Vendée. I have no doubt that St. Martin evangelized many of my ancestors in his great missions throughout western Gaul.

His cloak was a sacred relic of the Royal House of France, and Clovis credited his victories to St. Martin's intercession, leading to the baptism of France in 496. Indeed, one would not be incorrect to consider St. Martin's cloak the first flag of France. His abbey in Tours was among the most prominent in France, a place a pilgrimage, and even granted by Charlemagne to his trusted advisor Alcuin. After the rediscovery of St. Martin's tomb in 1860, devotion to him became resurgent in the French Army amidst all the tumult of the Franco-Prussian War and the anti-clericalism of the Third Republic. Despite the attempts of the government to wipe this devotion out, it came back powerfully in the trenches of the Great War, leading to that tragic war ending on Martinmas, 1918.

St. Martin, priez pour nous.

Accordingly, at a certain period, when he had nothing except his arms and his simple military dress, in the middle of winter, a winter which had shown itself more severe than ordinary, so that the extreme cold was proving fatal to many, he happened to meet at the gate of the city of Amiens a poor man destitute of clothing. He was entreating those that passed by to have compassion upon him, but all passed the wretched man without notice, when Martin, that man full of God, recognized that a being to whom others showed no pity, was, in that respect, left to him. Yet, what should he do? He had nothing except the cloak in which he was clad, for he had already parted with the rest of his garments for similar purposes. Taking, therefore, his sword with which he was girt, he divided his cloak into two equal parts, and gave one part to the poor man, while he again clothed himself with the remainder. Upon this, some of the by-standers laughed, because he was now an unsightly object, and stood out as but partly dressed. Many, however, who were of sounder understanding, groaned deeply because they themselves had done nothing similar. They especially felt this, because, being possessed of more than Martin, they could have clothed the poor man without reducing themselves to nakedness. In the following night, when Martin had resigned himself to sleep, he had a vision of Christ arrayed in that part of his cloak with which he had clothed the poor man.

He contemplated the Lord with the greatest attention, and was told to own as his the robe which he had given. Ere long, he heard Jesus saying with a clear voice to the multitude of angels standing round -- "Martin, who is still but a catechumen, clothed me with this robe." The Lord, truly mindful of his own words (who had said when on earth -- "Inasmuch as ye have done these things to one of the least of these, ye have done them unto me), declared that he himself had been clothed in that poor man; and to confirm the testimony he bore to so good a deed, he condescended to show him himself in that very dress which the poor man had received. After this vision the sainted man was not puffed up with human glory, but, acknowledging the goodness of God in what had been done, and being now of the age of twenty years, he hastened to receive baptism. He did not, however, all at once, retire from military service, yielding to the entreaties of his tribune, whom he admitted to be his familiar tent-companion. For the tribune promised that, after the period of his office had expired, he too would retire from the world. Martin, kept back by the expectation of this event, continued, although but in name, to act the part of a soldier, for nearly two years after he had received baptism.

--Sulpicius Severus, Life of St. Martin

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


As the Pope has recently visited the great shrine of Santiago de Compostela, I am pleased to repost a brief essay I wrote last year:

Son of Zebedee and brother to St. John, St. James was called with his brother from his father's fishing boat by Jesus with the promise that He would make them "fishers of men." The brothers, together with St. Peter, became like an inner group among the Apostles, witnessing the Transfiguration and going with Our Lord to Gethsamane. He was the first of the Twelve to receive the martyr's crown, a request presaged by Jesus' words upon James and John requesting that they may sit one on His right and one on His left in the kingdom of heaven, and this after He had just prophesied His passion: "You shall indeed drink of the chalice that I drink of: and with the baptism wherewith I am baptized, you shall be baptized." He was beheaded by Herod Agrippa. That is when his story begins to become quite interesting.

The primary place of St. James' cult is Spain, specifically Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, a place that has come to be almost synonymous with pilgrimage. To this day, hundreds of thousands come each year to the Cathedral of Santiago, festooned with the scallop shell as the mark of the pilgrim, and always walking the last 100 km (or bicycling the last 200 km), to venerate the relics of Saint James. Pious tradition relates that St. James had preached to the Celtiberians before returing to Jerusalem for his martyrdom, and that his relics were miraculously translated to Galicia by angels. Pilgrims have come to this site since the time of Charlemagne, making this one of the great and ancient traditions of Christendom. Indeed, readers, the Camino de Santiago is one of the pilgrimages I hope to undertake in my lifetime.

However, the tale of St. James scarcely ends with the establishment of the pilgrimage, for when the pilgrimage began, most of Iberia was under the rule of the Muslim Moors. It is reported that the vastly outnumbered Christian army of Ramiro I of Asturias made battle against the Moorish Emir of Córdoba in 844 near Clavijo in La Rioja, and that St. James miraculously appeared to lead the Spaniards to victory, earning him the soubriquet "Santiago Matamoros," St. James the Moor-Slayer. Thence arrived the Spanish war-cry, "¡Santiago y cierra España!" (Saint James and strike for Spain!) This war-cry was shouted as the Iberian peninsula was reconquered from the Muslims; it was uttered at sea in the Gulf of Patras where the ships of Spain and the Holy League through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary defended Rome and Western Europe from Turkish invasion; it resounded as Cortés and the Amerind tribes allied to him ended Montezuma's empire and the barbaric human sacrifices therein, that Our Lady may place her image on a simple Aztec peasant's cloak, and make Spanish the native language of more Catholics today than any other language; it was heard as a Galician general routed Soviet-supported anti-clerical republicans in an attempt to preserve a Catholic Spain and a Spanish monarchy; it begat a great Catholic empire, the first on which the sun never set, giving us such great and holy saints as Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Ignatius of Loyola. Therefore, we pray Santiago to lead us to victory again today, to intercede with Our Lord that the enemies of His holy Church yet again be routed, and that we may once more be that Christendom that flocked to his holy shrine in Galicia.

I include here a brief video of the Botafumeiro, the cathedral's famed giant censer:


In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,

The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae
Canadian Army Medical Corps

In tribute to the fallen of the war that destroyed our beloved Western civilization, and by extension to all those fallen on the battlefield, yesterday as well as today. May they always be remembered.

To those of Germany and Austria:

To those of the United States:

To those of Great Britain and her Commonwealth:

To those of France:

soldat 1914-1918
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And to those of Russia, Italy, Belgium, and all other nations who lost a generation to the gas, the shells, and the machine guns. Let us pray earnestly that such an ordeal may never again fall upon our civilization, and that Our Good Lord may, in His mercy, "enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death... [and] direct our feet into the path of peace."

Miserere nobis, Domine.