Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Golden Calf

From Catholic World Report:
Pope Francis, in Lumen Fidei, refers to the famous account of the Golden Calf, noting that one reason idols are attractive is because they are “the work of our hands” and that before an idol “there is no risk that we will be called to abandon our security”. And:

Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the centre of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands. Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants. Idolatry, then, is always polytheism, an aimless passing from one lord to another. Idolatry does not offer a journey but rather a plethora of paths leading nowhere and forming a vast labyrinth. Those who choose not to put their trust in God must hear the din of countless idols crying out: "Put your trust in me!" 

Among the idols of our age are false autonomy, disordered liberty, and false freedom. The rotten fruits are all around us: greed and lust, contraception and abortion, fornication and adultery, pride and homosexuality. These reflect a multiplicity of desires, each promising freedom while never delivering on the promise, for our deepest desire can only be satisfied by and in God. And so satisfaction is sought in consumption, in having, in possessing, and in even trying to remake ourselves and our natures into something they are not and cannot be.

“When people become self-centred and self-enclosed,” says Francis in his new encyclical, “their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality.” This comes in the context of physical goods, but also applies to personal relationships. Once a disordered desire—for a thing, for a person, for an act—becomes the center of our lives, we must make everything else stand behind it and bow before it. When something or someone in God's creation becomes the center of our life and the focus of our passions, we must turn against God himself; in short, we become insane. Even though we can, by reason, recognize God's “eternal power and deity”, as the Apostle Paul told the Roman Christians, those who pursue lusts and impurity refuse to honor or worship him. “Claiming to be wise,” he states, “they became fools...” (Read more.)

America's Post-partum Practices

From The Daily Beast:
Some hundreds of years ago, Colonial Americans thought it fit for a woman who had just given birth to keep to her bed for three or four or more weeks. For the length of the “lying in” period, as it was called, the new mother would rest, regain her strength, and bond with the baby as her womanly attendants kept up the household. Several of these ladies would be relatives, and others not; none were paid, and all expected to be similarly cared for following their own deliveries. Then, in the 19th century, the last free land was settled, and everyone retired to her own room. As Richard and Dorothy Wertz write in Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America, “The era of social childbirth, with its volunteer woman-to-woman help, passed with the disappearance of the American frontier.” The “lie-in” wasn’t adapted or modified. And it certainly wasn’t replaced with anything.

This country is one of the only utterly lacking in a culture of postpartum care. Some version of the lie-in is still prevalent all over Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and particular parts of Europe; in these places, where women have found the postpartum regimens of their own mothers and grandmothers slightly outdated, they’ve revised them. The U.S. seems only to understand pregnancy as a distinct and fragile state. For the expectant, we issue reams of proscriptions—more than can reasonably be followed. We tell them what to eat and what not to eat. We ask that they visit the doctor regularly and that they not do any strenuous activity. We give them our seats on the bus. Finally, once they’ve actually undergone the physical trauma of it, their bodies thoroughly depleted, we beckon them most immediately to rejoin the rest of us. One New York mother summed up her recent postpartum experience this way: “You’re not hemorrhaging? OK, peace, see you later.” (Read more.)

Monday, June 29, 2015

In the Imperial Crypt

Here is a print depicting the Empress Maria Theresa hearing Mass in the Capuchin crypt in Vienna. Via Vive la Reine. Share

Super Star

Venus and Jupiter converge tomorrow. From the CSM:
Jupiter and Venus will merge into a dazzling "super-star" in the Western horizon by the end of June, NASA says.

The conjunction of the two planets has been building during the month of June and will culminate in a spectacular display on June 30. “Every night in June, the separation between Venus and Jupiter will visibly shrink,” says NASA. A conjunction is when two or more objects appear very close together on the sky.
On the evening of June 30, Venus and Jupiter will appear in the sky just a third of a degree apart. “That's less than the diameter of a full Moon. You'll be able to hide the pair not just behind the palm of your outstretched hand, but behind your little pinky finger,” NASA enthuses.

Sky & Telescope suggests that a similar rare conjunction of Venus and Jupiter may have been what's been called the "Star of Bethlehem" in 3-2 BC. (Read more.)

Via ETH. Share

A Judicial Putsch

From Tom Piatak at Chronicles:
As Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his dissent, “If an unvarying social institution enduring over all of recorded history cannot inhibit judicial policymaking, what can?” In his dissent, Justice Scalia charged that Kennedy’s opinion lacked “even a thin veneer of law” and constituted a “judicial Putsch.” And as Justice Alito noted in his dissent, “Today’s decision shows that decades of attempts to restrain this Court’s abuse of its authority have failed.”

John Adams famously wanted a “government of laws and not of men.” Today’s decision is yet the latest illustration of how far we are from that ideal. Indeed, in practical terms, the Constitution means whatever the swing vote on the Supreme Court says it means. That vote now belongs to Anthony Kennedy. And if you turn on most news programs or read most newspapers today, you will see little criticism of this state of affairs. Instead, you will encounter hosanna after hosanna to Anthony Kennedy and his decision. (Read more.)

Sunday, June 28, 2015


The château de Saint-Cloud, a country estate owned by the Orléans family on the outskirts of Paris, was bought by Louis XVI for Marie-Antoinette in 1785. The king sold properties owned by the crown in the south of France in order to pay for the palace. Marie-Antoinette thought it was vital to get her children away from the unhealthy environment of Versailles, and Petit Trianon was not far enough way. So many members of the royal family, including Louis himself as a child, had become ill with tuberculosis over the years, and so the Queen wanted to get her children into healthier air. (As it was their oldest son would die of tuberculosis in 1789.) The King put the palace of Saint-Cloud in the Queen's name, which outraged many French people, since a Queen owning property in her own right and having complete control of it was something that had not happened since the middle ages.

Saint-Cloud is mentioned a great deal in the novels Trianon and Madame Royale, since for awhile after the royal family were taken prisoner in October 1789 they were still permitted at times to go to Saint-Cloud for the country air and to get some exercise. During the Restoration of 1815-1830, the royal family used Saint-Cloud as a summer residence. Marie-Thérèse, the daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, would often walk from Saint-Cloud to her sanctuary at Villeneuve l'Étang.

Here is the chapel built by Marie-Antoinette. The photo was taken after the Commune ransacked the palace in 1871.

Above is a recreation of how the palace looked before it was destroyed.

The Bonapartes loved Saint-Cloud and maintained it in great magnificence. Above is the boudoir of Empress Eugénie.

Above is the cascade in the gardens at Saint-Cloud.

During the Commune of 1871, the palace was ruined, and no longer stands. Only the gardens remain, and the chapel built by Marie-Antoinette. Share

God, Gods, and Fairies

From First Things:
The question of God, by contrast, is one that must be pursued in terms of the absolute and the contingent, the necessary and the fortuitous, act and potency, possibility and impossibility, being and nonbeing, transcendence and immanence. Evidence for or against the existence of Thor or King Oberon would consist only in local facts, not universal truths of reason; it would be entirely empirical, episodic, psychological, personal, and hence elusive. Evidence for or against the reality of God, if it is there, pervades every moment of the experience of existence, every employment of reason, every act of consciousness, every encounter with the world around us. (Read more.)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Faith of Marie-Antoinette

Marie-Antoinette's journey of Faith will be discussed on BlogTalkRadio today at 3:00 pm Eastern Time. In her last letter the Queen said that the Catholic religion was the one which she had always believed and practiced, but like many people she had a faith journey in which her relationship with God grew and matured. Although faith is a private matter there is much we can learn from and about Marie-Antoinette and how her faith strengthened her in difficult times. Share