Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Deaths of Jean-Marie Roland and Madame Roland

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Julia's Gifts

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

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

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

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


Scandals: Past and Present

The powers-that-be must want the Clintons thrown under the bus, twenty years too late. The damage is done. From Ross Douthat at the New York Times:
I have less confidence about what was real in the miasma of Whitewater. But with Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky, we know what happened: A president being sued for sexual harassment tried to buy off a mistress-turned-potential-witness with White House favors, and then committed perjury serious enough to merit disbarment. Which also brought forward a compelling allegation from Juanita Broaddrick that the president had raped her.

The longer I spent with these old stories, the more I came back to a question: If exploiting a willing intern is a serious enough abuse of power to warrant resignation, why is obstructing justice in a sexual harassment case not serious enough to warrant impeachment? Especially when the behavior is part of a longstanding pattern that also may extend to rape? Would any feminist today hesitate to take a similar opportunity to remove a predatory studio head or C.E.O.?

There is a common liberal argument that our present polarization is the result of constant partisan escalations on the right — the rise of Newt Gingrich, the steady Hannitization of right-wing media. Some of this is true. But returning to the impeachment imbroglio made me think that in that case the most important escalators were the Democrats. They had an opportunity, with Al Gore waiting in the wings, to show a predator the door and establish some moral common ground for a polarizing country.

And what they did instead — turning their party into an accessory to Clinton’s appetites, shamelessly abandoning feminist principle, smearing victims and blithely ignoring his most credible accuser, all because Republicans funded the investigations and they’re prudes and it’s all just Sexual McCarthyism feels in the cold clarity of hindsight like a great act of partisan deformation. (Read more.)

Building a Culture of Vocations

From Catholic Philly:
Society already makes it hard enough for a young person to hear their call today; shouldn’t we as a church be doing all we can to make it easier? It wasn’t always easy for me, but eventually I heard God’s voice and by his grace was ordained a priest in 2015. Only one of my parents is Catholic, and I went to public school my entire life until I entered seminary. Growing up I played every sport you can imagine. Like every other kid in America, I dreamed of “going pro.” Unlike most kids in America, I had my share of health problems when I was very young. On a few occasions, the doctors seemingly ran out of options. Yet miraculously, I recovered. I was able to play high school sports, but I knew I would never be one of the lucky few who actually become professional athletes. (Read more.)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great (Season 1, 2014)

The Ekaterina series on Amazon Prime has to be the best and most accurate historical drama about Empress Catherine II of Russia yet made. The Russian production emphasizes the enigmatic Catherine's spiritual journey as she turns from the Lutheranism of her youth and embraces Orthodoxy, ultimately keeping the country from becoming Protestant under her husband, Peter III. While any portrait of Catherine can hardly ignore her obsessive search for love, the series avoids any exploitative, graphic scenes, in sharp contrast to most of the shows about royalty on Netflix. Marina Aleksandrova stars as the shy and studious Princess Sophie Friederike of Anhalt-Zerbst, who through many tears and hard lessons is transformed into the Great Catherine. Mademoiselle Aleksandrovna is able to accomplish the metamorphosis from gauche, romantic teenager into the shrewdly calculating and determined Empress who must conquer or die. Overthrowing her husband Peter III was the only way she could avoid being killed or separated from her children. By doing so she saved Russia from a ruler who hated his own country and wanted to destroy it.

Filmed on location in Russia, the viewers are afforded a glimpse of the magnificent palaces built by the Romanov dynasty, throughout the various seasons of the year. The costumes are likewise authentic mid-eighteenth century. The Russian Orthodox liturgy and iconography are given pride of place. Julia Aug is the mercurial, unscrupulous Empress Elizabeth who arranges Catherine's marriage to her dreadful nephew Peter,  later taking Catherine's son away from her the moment he is born. Meanwhile, Peter publicly flaunts his dislike of Catherine and his affair with another woman. Peter, played by Aleksander Yatsenko, is a frustrating and pathetic character whom Catherine tries her best to love amid seemingly endless humiliations. The torment that the young Catherine experiences as a scorned wife and a thwarted mother in a court surrounded by enemies explains the consolation she eventually seeks in love affairs. Mademoiselle Aleksandrovna does an excellent job in conveying the subtle charm of Catherine and her remarkable ability to win people to her cause when she was a non-royal, powerless foreigner. It was that very vulnerability that won followers, as well as her brains and her genuine love for the Russia. In spite of her personal moral failings, she saves Russia as a nation and protects the Russian Orthodox Church from Protestantism.


The Indefectibility of the Church

From Emmett O'Regan writing for La Stampa:
In the ongoing debate surrounding the authority of Amoris laetitia, a key issue has arisen, centering around whether or not the Divine assistance of the Holy Spirit is offered towards the successors of St. Peter to protect them from erring in matters pertaining to faith and morals even in the non-definitive teachings of the ordinary Magisterium. Some of the defenders of Pope Francis in this issue, such as Stephen Walford, argue forcibly that such Divine assistance is indeed given in the non-definitive, non-infallible teachings of the ordinary Magisterium (I). The opponents of Pope Francis’ reforms argue that this position is a logical fallacy, since the exercise of papal infallibility is limited to the extraordinary Magisterium and the ordinary and Universal Magisterium. They argue that if the Roman Pontiff cannot err in matters of faith and morals in the non-definitive teachings of the ordinary Magisterium, this would mean that he is infallible even in this respect (II). Christopher Ferrara has mockingly referred to this idea as the “fallible infallible Magisterium” (III). Such an idea is obviously untrue, since the non-definitive teachings of the ordinary Magisterium are non-infallible in nature.

In response, some conservatively minded Catholics have asserted that the claim to protection from error in faith and morals by way of Divine assistance falls into the category of ultramontanism, and the conclusion is then made that the pope actually can teach error in faith and morals by way of his ordinary Magisterium. Such a scenario is a very serious matter, since it would mean that the pope is in effect capable of binding the faithful to heresy in the ordinary Magisterium.

In the following article, I hope to be able to demonstrate that the protection from error in faith and morals offered towards the ordinary Magisterium through the Divine assistance of the Holy Spirit does not stem from the gift of infallibility, but is instead an essential corollary of the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church. A necessary ancillary means through which the perpetuity of the successors of St. Peter is nourished and maintained, which is independent of, albeit related to, the dogma of papal infallibility. This means that the pope cannot impose error on matters of faith and morals not only because of papal infallibility but also because of the Divine assistance implicit in the gift of indefectibility. As the document issued by the International Theological Commission “The Interpretation of Dogma” states: “The apostolic tradition in the Church cannot undergo any essential corruption because of the permanent assistance of the Holy Spirit which guarantees its indefectibility.” (IV)

Before we go on to examine how the Divine assistance of the Holy Spirit is primarily promised to ensure the indefectibility of the Church, rather than its infallibility, it will be worth first briefly addressing one of the chief issues raised above - concerning the proposed logical fallacy of the “infallibility” of the non-infallible ordinary Magisterium. The scope of papal infallibility is limited to the organs of the extraordinary and ordinary and Universal Magisterium, and concerns those teachings which have been definitively established by the Church, and which by definition are irreformable of themselves. They are also subject to either the response of an assent of faith, or are to be firmly held by the believer (depending on whether they are credenda or tenenda dogmas, which are both different levels of infallible teaching). The teachings found in the ordinary or authentic Magisterium are usually reformable of themselves (meaning they are subject to further refinement and/or doctrinal development), and also non-definitive in nature, which is why they are regarded as non-infallible. The level of assent required of these teachings is that of the submission of the will and intellect in obedience to the ordinary Magisterium. (Read more.)

Writing While Under The Influence Of Depression

I have found that writing breaks the cycle of depression but everyone is different. From The Creative Penn:
For a start, writing is quite often a solitary life. We sit in our office or bedroom with the laptop, and we peck away at the keyboard. We invent worlds and characters, while the real world with its real characters continues on outside. But we are probably so wrapped up in those fictional worlds and characters that we don’t make the time to meet real people.

Isolation like that can have a crushing effect on a lot of people. Some people thrive on it, but humans on the whole are a social bunch and need to interact with others. When that isn’t possible, it’s easy to feel that the walls are closing in.

Lack of sleep, lack of exercise, lack of human contact, and lack of natural light are all factors that can develop into something much more serious.

Let’s not forget, writing is hard. I have just finished writing my second book and it was quite literally the hardest thing I have ever experienced in my life. This is coming from a 42-year-old guy who has already experienced quite a lot in life.

Since writing is so hard, it is very easy to get dispirited and to tell yourself that the whole project is hopeless. Especially when you get rejection slips from editors and harsh criticism from reviewers, and dare I say it, your family and friends. (Read more.)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A New Product

Introducing Grotto Facial Beauty Cleanser, a facial scrub I created out of natural ingredients* for women over thirty-five. The restorative formula is designed to help diminish signs of aging, as well as revive the skin's suppleness and softness, with regular use. The cleanser is meant to precede the Midnight Bouquet and Morning Bouquet** facial creams, creating a more complete beauty experience. Trianon Bouquet Beauty Products are inspired by Queen Marie-Antoinette, who loved her gardens at Petit Trianon, and was known to have beauty products made from her own herbs and flowers. The Queen loved to relax in the coolness of the Grotto. Please use only as directed. Free shipping. Purchase HERE.

*Natural ingredients may vary in color and consistency.
**We are currently sold out of the Morning Bouquet Facial Treatment but will restock our shelves soon. Share