Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Remembering Rouster’s

'Tis the season for apple cider, and I really should go out and get some this weekend. But it won't be the same as it once was. as a correspondent from back home named Vicki Rafferty brought back a memory.

Since 1939, generations of families visited Rouster’s Apple House, a rustic farm market east of Milford, Ohio, on State Route 131, with over two dozen varieties of apples, including their very own hand-pollinated breed called a Krispy. We passed by there every time we went to the Rosselot farm where Mom grew up. I remember the place very well, with free samples of cider, and apple slices for the road. In 1978, Ma and Pa Rouster handed over the business to their son Dan and his wife Donna. They managed to keep the spirit alive until last year, when one too many bad crops, and the need to scale back given the passage of years, forced them to close the store. They still run the berry fields during the summer, and area folks still have over seven decades of memories upon which to look back.

Click on the name of the place and read all about it. Meanwhile, I'm getting homesick again ...
 

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Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: “Tom O’ Bedlam”

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

This being All Hallows Eve, we feature an anonymous tale from the 16th century, performed here by Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller. The song also known as "Bedlam Boys" is about the Saint Mary Bethlehem hospital in London (now called Bethlem Royal Hospital; "Bedlam," if you will) which housed the insane. During the 18th century it was a popular diversion to visit the hospital to watch the antics of the poor inmates. For an admission of one pence, visitors would bring to the hospital an income of four hundred pounds a year.

Yours truly was introduced to this ballad by John Roberts and Tony Barrand, whose version is still the all-time favorite. But hey, these gals are shot in live action, and they weren't, so have at it.

And beware of whatever goes bump in the night, y'hear?

(H/T to Fire on McGinnis for commentary.)
 

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Riders on the Frankenstorm

Last evening about 7:30, as the winds were blowing at least 60 to 70 miles per hour, the cable and internet went out at Chez Alexandre. This writer responded in a calm and collected manner to the crisis by going to bed early. Thanks to the courage and devotion of Comcast's finest, we were back online by dawn this morning. The power never went out, at least not in this neighborhood. That said, there were those who, sadly, did not escape the wrath of nature.

Meanwhile, elsewhere along the eastern seaboard:

The flooding along the Jersey Shore led to massive evacuations (unless you live in Atlantic City and were stupid enough to listen to your mayor when he told you to stay put). It had quite an effect on the landscape, giving others the opportunity to enjoy it, like this shark seen strolling down the avenue. (@mindblowing)

Those who did not respond to orders to evacuate attempted to go on as though things were perfectly normal. The result in one case has let to a caption contest at LookAtMeShirts.com. Get your entry in by midnight Thursday and win a twenty-five dollar gift card. Don't be like this guy, though; get one that's the right size.

In another scene almost as bizarre, residents of Manhattan took quick action in the aftermath of massive power outages, mobilizing at the nearest Starbucks for the free wireless connection. Never let it be said that New Yorkers cannot adapt in an emergency. (@nowthisnews)

Finally, and on a more inspiring note, the power outage and the oncoming floods in New York City forced the successful evacuation and transport of babies, from the NICU of Tisch Hospital at the NYU Langone Medical Center, to New York Presbyterian Hospital and four other surrounding hospitals. It took a dedicated staff of doctors and nurses who went to tremendous lengths to get to the scene, and who didn't leave until the job was done. The babies are safe, doing well, and are in good hands! (www.peekabooICU.net. Photo by John Minchillo/AP)
 

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Keeping Watch

Today, we are providing live coverage of Hurricane Sandy courtesy of The Weather Channel. Continuous reports can still be found, 140 characters at a time, at both #frankenstorm and #sandy on Twitter.

Meanwhile, as the storm rages, there is eternal vigilance at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of Arlington National Cemetary here in Virginia, courtesy of The 3rd Infantry Regiment of the United States Army. The photo here was the scene this morning as soldiers of “The Old Guard” continue to keep watch, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, under any and all conditions (including during the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, little more than one mile away), since midnight on the second of July in 1937.
 

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“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Frankenstorm Edition)

Some thuggish Obama supporters beat the son of a Wisconsin State Senator. Hear why. Plus, Stephen Green brings you the details about Sandra Fluke's impressive rally in Ohio, and more, from the folks at Pajamas Media.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

Halloween will soon be upon us, and a man in San Luis Obispo, California, is determined to lose his head over it, and make sure others get to see it. (Neatorama)

Ronald McDonald violated a court order by following his ex-wife into a McDonald's restaurant. Obviously there's more to this story. After all, who knew he was even married? (ThisIsKent)

Those who visit Rome for the first time discover something special in the air -- to be exact, traces of cocaine and marijuana, also discovered in seven other Italian cities. (LA Times)

Speaking of something in the air, someone is revising the story of "the night before Christmas," with Santa giving up smoking his pipe. Is nothing sacred for this holiday season? (New York Post)

Finally, this may be worth passing along to Mayor Bloomberg as an affordable housing solution for the Big Apple, as a house five feet wide has been built in Poland. (Metro)

And that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.
 

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

America: Despite Ourselves

A correspondent whom I've known for years wrote this the other day on Facebook.

The election is getting closer, and nerves are getting more frayed. I've been unfriended by a couple of old friends and a cousin (!). One guy I had unfriended kept looking up my posts, and then telling me to "STFU." Had to block him so he wouldn't keep punishing himself. Only a few more days, and the fever will abate -- although if it's anything like last time, liberals will keep howling no matter who wins. I know few truly happy liberals.

I don't believe it was always like this, in which case something has changed. And I have a theory about it.

I submit that the more dependent we have become on government to solve our problems -- that's government at any level; national, state, or local -- the more emotional we become about the direction it takes, as what we have to lose appears to become more precarious. This malaise is not limited to Democrats and liberals. Having worked in Washington for over thirty years, I can assure you that Republicans know how to blow a wad of your money just as easily as those Democrats they would castigate for the same.

The last four years have been even worse, with a President who has pitted one class of people against another, to such an extent as to provoke no less than Camille Pagila:

I was very excited about [President Obama]. I thought he was a moderate. I thought that his election would promote racial healing in the country ... It would be a tremendous transformation of attitudes. And instead: one thing after another. Not least: I consider him, now, one of the most racially divisive and polarizing figures ever. I think it's going to take years to undo the damage to relationships between the races.

Maybe that's why a recent study has shown that a slightly higher percentage of people are racist in 2012 than they were in 2008. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that ...

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism. (#676)

So then, what we refer to as "the spirit of the Antichrist" is manifested in any ideology that claims to solve all humanity's problems. The point here is not that the current President is the Antichrist, so much as that his cult of personality may be construed as a sign thereof. There is a world of difference. As a man, Barack Hussein Obama is neither beyond redemption, nor unworthy of our prayers. If one is to apply one's faith in the ballot box, especially for the upcoming election, it might include that sentiment, don't you think?

Or don't you?

(H/T to John Hathaway and Terrye Newkirk.)
 

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Getting Ready for “Frankenstorm”

Hurricane Sandy is due to hit the eastern coastline of the United States as the weekend is over. There are already indications that it could be one of the worst tropical storms in many years. All the way from Maine to Florida, people are stocking up on white bread and toilet paper. There will be massive panic at the gas stations.

(Hey, that reminds me, I gotta get up early tomorrow ...)

This weather forecast from Fox News is from last night. Best we could do.

Here in the Nation's capital, we are expected to get the edge of it (which is bad enough), while people in New Jersey and eastern New York state, on up into New England, will get the worst. Federal employees have already been advised by their agency heads of contingency plans, whether for the reporting of essential personnel to their duty stations, or by means of teleworking from home as long as the power and internet holds up. It's all part of what is called “Continuity of Operations” or COOP. You can rest assured that your Aunt Minnie's Social Security check will be processed and delivered on time. (Trust me, if it wasn't, even the Tea Party would march on Washington.)

Meanwhile, here at Chez Alexandre, we have our hatches battened down. If the power shuts off, the first thing to do is turn on an emergency lamp in the living room. Then the refrigerator is secured with duct tape, to avoid anyone "accidentally" opening it. Even the frozen food can last for at least three days. Finally, in the event that smartphones with emergency battery chargers are the laat line of defense, we here at mwbh central will be monitoring the hashtags "#frankenstorm" and "#sandy" on Twitter, to provide you with continuous coverage of forces beyond everyone's control.

Don't you feel safer already?
 

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FAMW: Bowling for Soup “Punk Rock 101”

The genre known as “punk rock” arose out of the classical "garage band" scenario in the mid-1970s, in large part a reaction to the over-synthesized disco music and dance craze in the mainstream of pop music. It also heralded the rising trend of musicians producing and selling their own cassette tape recordings at concerts, often literally out of the trunks of their cars. By the 1980s, a more aggressive "hardcore" style emerged as a reaction to the reaction, which expanded into "post punk" and "alternative rock," and eventually becoming part of the mainstream itself by the new century, in the form of "pop punk."

This included such bands as the Denton, Texas-based Bowling for Soup, and the choice for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
 

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

On Saint Crispin’s Day

Today, the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches remember Saint Crispin, who with his twin brother Crispinian, was born to a noble Roman family in the third century, preached the Gospel to the Gauls, and was awarded the crown of martyrdom by the local Roman governor circa 286. The Roman church dropped them both from the official liturgical calendar after Vatican II, due to lack of evidence of their existence (as was the case with Saint Philomena, to whom numerous miracles are attributed up until the present day -- but, we digress …).

The feast day is still fondly remembered in the British Isles, if for no other reason than that the famed Battle of Agincourt was fought on this day in 1415 in northern France near Pas-de-Calais. The battle is remembered prominently in the study of military engagements, as well as by William Shakespeare in the play Henry V. It was King Henry who led the English against the overwhelming French forces, and who is remembered for the so-called “Saint Crispin’s Day Speech” as found in Act IV, Scene 3.

This day is called
    the Feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day
    and comes safe home
Will stand a-tiptoe
    when this day is named
And rouse him at
    the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day
    and live t' old age
Will yearly on the vigil
    feast his neighbours
And say, "Tomorrow is
    Saint Crispian."
Then will he strip his sleeve
    and show his scars
And say, "These wounds
    I had on Crispin's day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words —
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester —
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son,
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition.
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's Day.


Non nobis,
    Domine,

Not to us,
    O Lord,
Sed nomini,
    tuo da
    gloriam.

But to
    your name,
    give glory.


The battle is further remembered by Donald McClarey of The American Catholic.
 

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: The Horse Flies “Cluck Old Chicken”

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

The band once known as the Tompkins County Horseflies, formed in the late 1970s by husband and wife Jeff Claus and Judy Hyman, along with Richie Stearns and John Hayward, evolved from the emerging old-time music revivalist genre, to the one-of-a-kind niche in which they were firmly planted by the early 1990s, and which continues to evolve today. Their roots are firmly planted in the mountain tradition, and their branches in alt-rock and world music are all over the place.

They were deeply affected by the tragic death of bass player Hayward, who lost his battle with cancer in 1998. I met up with Claus and Stearns at a bar in Cincinnati a few years later. They were still shaken by the loss, and uncertain about the band's future. But thanks be to God, they eventually rallied and regrouped. In this clip, they perform their own variation of the traditional “Cluck Old Hen” at the Grassroots Festival in Trumansburg, New York, in 2008. Listen to the combination of Stearns on banjo and Hyman on fiddle, supported by the underlying rhythm of Claus on banjo-uke, and Taki Masuko providing the Afro-Celt vibe, with bassist Jay Olsa and accordionist Rick Hansen chiming in, and you'll know why they remain an all-time favorite of yours truly.

You'll find out why for yourself, soon enough.
 

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The News From Atlanta

I received a call from Atlanta this morning.

My son Paul would not wake up. They called 911, and the ambulance arrived. They were able to revive him, at which point he was disoriented, and complained about a severe headache. Paul had a history of migraines in high school, and this hadn't happened in a few years, but he has been stressed with finishing his last year of college, as well as his consulting work -- success can be almost as hard as failure -- so it might be getting to him.

We were texting just the other day.

A deposit of $200 was made to your account earlier today. Please verify at your end and acknowledge.

I already purchased plane tix and forwarded you my itinerary, Bub.

Bub? My dad was 85 years old and losing his marbles, and even when he pissed me off, he was "Dad." Make a note of it.

Sorry. Sometimes I pretend I'm Wolverine from the X-Men.

Did I mention that he has no health insurance?

I ask my readers to remember him in their prayers, particularly as he has lost his Faith over the years. May the Almighty open his eyes and soften his heart, that Paul will accept Him, in all His divine will, and His mercy.

UPDATE: I want to thank everyone for their prayers today. Paul was told he had a migraine, given a bottle of high-octane Motrin, and sent home without a CAT scan. Medicaid probably would have covered most or all of it, but the benefits coordinator only works Wednesdays through Sundays. Next time he'll have to do a better job of scheduling his migraines. Go figure. Anyway, he's resting now. Thanks again, y'all!
 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Best Live Debate Webcast ... EVAH!!!

Are you tired of watching streaming video of the Presidential debates, and having to listen to the usual status quo bull-hockey from the lamestream media?

Tune in to balanced commentary for once in an election year, courtesy of real live journalists from The Wall Street Journal and sunlightlive.com.
 

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Late October Edition)

Why is Romney a threat to the porn industry? What does MSNBC need to know about the laws of physics? Who told the biggest lie of the week? How about that Benghazi thing? Hear the latest from the folks at Pajamas Media.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

They say that curiosity killed the cat, but if it discovers a 2000 year old Roman catacomb, its owner can make an exception. (The Guardian)

They also say that money cannot buy happiness, but a man in Massachusetts who was just dumped by his girlfriend is consoled by winning $30.5 million in the lottery. No word on whether she changed her mind. (The Boston Globe)

Also on the subject of making a killing, a man in North Dakota sold a twenty-year-old jug of McJordan barbecue sauce to a Chicago buyer for $10,000. (Associated Press)

Speaking of lotteries, two brothers from New York have claimed a $5 million lottery prize for a scratch-off ticket they bought at their parents' store in Syracuse -- six years ago. (Associated Press)

In a story that gives new meaning to the phrase "we'll always have Paris," a Jack Russell terrier in France has survived after being poisoned and buried alive. (Associated Press)

Finally, a northern Michigan man charged with obstructing the police while dressed as Batman has pleaded not guilty. (Petoskey News-Review)

And that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.
 

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Al Smith Dinner: Shepherds vs Players

I really haven't thought much about the quadrennial Alfred E Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner. It was held earlier this month at New York City's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the white-tie-and-tails charity event hosted by the Foundation and the Archbishop of New York. Smith was the first Catholic presidential candidate in American history, who was trounced by Herbert Hoover in 1928, and whose great-grandson, Alfred E Smith IV, currently chairs the Foundation. Unlike some of my fellow "Catholic bloggers," who seem to have an endless amount of time to bloviate on various and sundry things such as this, I work for a living.

Besides, I was busy bloviating about other things.

I submit that among those bishops who could be labeled "orthodox," there are two kinds. There are shepherds, and there are players. In this country, you can count on one hand the number of shepherds. Most of them, when it comes down to it at the end of the day, are players, including the current Archbishop of New York, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan. For this reason alone, and without the event in question being an issue, I'm not impressed with him anyway. His decision to invite both candidates, despite one of them being the most enthusiastic supporter of the massacre of unborn children of any President in history, doesn't affect my opinion one way or the other. Cardinal Dolan did exactly what I expected him to do. As the first video clip shows, Michael Voris of ChurchMilitant.TV is none too pleased.

Now, His Eminence can say that he was in a tough spot, and he probably was. After all, once you start excluding one candidate from the white-tie gala event for one reason or another, even a really, REALLY good one, you can do it again for ANOTHER really, really good one. (It's already happened twice before, for reasons similar to what could have been applied here.) Eventually, the extraordinary decision becomes the ordinary, and the event can lose its purpose altogether.

Yeah, that's the tough spot that the Cardinal was in, which is why he probably should have cancelled the whole damn thing. You can bet your boots that would have gotten somebody's attention.

But he didn't, probably because it would alienate him from the kind of people who get invited to these things, and from there, would cost him the ability to be of much influence among them. Like they have anything to say about who gets to be Archbishop of New York, right? Don't kid yourself. This is another way of saying he wouldn't be popular with them anymore, and he could not allow that. After all, like I said, he's a player. On the other hand, he would have missed another chance (the other one being the closing benediction at the Democratic National Convention) to get the last word in. That's another thing about being a player that some of my fellow bloviators tend to forget; sometimes it works.

Al Smith IV, who according to a related report by Michael Voris, is an avid supporter of pro-choice politicians -- shocking, yes, I know -- along with the others of the Foundation, might one day have to live without the event for another four years. It will be either that, or find another, more palatable Archbishop of New York to sit at the head table. Then again, Rome only appoints one at a time, so that could put the Foundation in a tough spot too. But they got a pass on this one, at least until the persecution against the Church is in full swing. So here, for your viewing pleasure, with what few moments of religious freedom we may have left, are the video clips of both candidates giving their respective addresses. President Obama showed more class than he usually does for formal events (as Queen Elizabeth the Second can attest), but Governor Romney still shows even more class. It helps to be used to the idea.

And so it goes.
 

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Hey, America, Jimmy Kimmel wants to know ...

... who won the second and most recent Presidential debate?

I just got this from my Close Personal and Politically Incorrect Friend Doug Giles today. Earlier this week, Kimmel sent some of his people out on Hollywood Boulevard to ask who won "last night's" debate, which was actually not on until later in the day. Keep this in mind as the people are asked questions, and as they answer them.

If you really want to know how much trouble this country is in, consider that these people, besides being dumber than a bag of hammers, can vote.
 

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FAMW: The Best Best Man Speech ... EVAH!

My cousin Jerry Rosselot and I are about the same age, and in December of 1973, he and I went on a road trip from southwestern Ohio to Topeka, Kansas, to visit a few out of the other four dozen cousins out there.

Closer to the present, his son Jared just got married. Here is the best man paying tribute to the groom, as well as his family. (MILD CONTENT ADVISORY: Hey, it's a wedding, what can I tell ya?) The camera "died" before the song could be finished.

Maybe it's just as well, if only for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

(H/T to Johnny Cash, and to Jerry's adorable wife, Debbie, who aged more gracefully than he did.)
 

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Deaconess: A Rose By Any Other Name

CONCERNING THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN TO THE DIACONATE

IMAGE: Christ appears to deaconesses of the early Church; Saints Triphena, Phoebe and Tabitha.

In 1976, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued its declaration Inter Insigniores, against the possibility of ordaining women to the ministerial priesthood. A commentary which accompanied the decree confessed to having passed over the issue of women deacons because "it is a question which must be taken up fully by direct study of the texts, without preconceived ideas." In 1994, the Canon Law Society of America (CLSA) presented a report at its annual meeting in Montreal, entitled The Canonical Implications of Ordaining Women to the Permanent Diaconate. Providing us with a historical overview of the female diaconate, and an account of the revival of the permanent diaconate in modern times, the CLSA report contends that "women have been ordained permanent deacons in the past, and it would be possible for the church to determine to do so again." Concerning priestly ordination for women, the Church was compelled to speak again, more definitively than before. In that same year, His Holiness Pope John Paul II issued his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, wherein he declared that, "in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren … that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."

There have been numerous works on the question of deaconesses in Catholic academia, some of them dating to the 17th century. Closer to the present, in 1986, Aimé Georges Martimort authored the book Deaconesses: An Historical Study, published by Ignatius, which according to some is "considered the last word on the subject …" (Homiletic and Pastoral Review). Even more recently, Dr Phyllis Zagano, PhD, wrote Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church, published in 2000 by Crossroad, took a more sympathetic view of deaconesses as a possibility in the present age than did Martimort. Encouraged to write the book while in the Naval Reserve by a chaplain, one Bishop John O'Connor, she later broached the subject in 1986 with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at a press conference. The prefect of the Congregation Doctrine of the Faith is said to have told her, "It is under study." (National Catholic Reporter, 04/13/2001)

The aforementioned exercise of the ordinary magisterium has not quelled demands in some quarters. At the same time, there has been a "sleeper" movement of sorts to consider the revival of a female diaconate. This gained attention recently, in the October 1, 2012 issue of the Jesuit magazine America, in which the retired Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, New York, the Most Reverend Emil Wcela, makes his case for expanding the diaconate to include women.

Ordaining women as deacons who have the necessary personal, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral qualities would give their indispensable role in the life of the church a new degree of official recognition, both of their ministry and of their direct connection to their diocesan bishop for assignments and faculties. Besides providing such women with the grace of the sacrament, ordination would enable them to exercise diaconal service in the teaching, sanctifying and governing functions of the church ...

This was met with a response by the eminent canonist Dr Edward N Peters, JD, JCD, who challenged the bishop's arguments, if only from the standpoint of canon law.

[I]t seems to me that the CDF excommunication for attempted female ordination (especially in light of the roll-back that excommunication has undergone over the last 150 years) should be taken as a sign that ecclesiastical authority regards female ordination, even to diaconate, with at best grave reservations …

[T]he current norms against women’s ordination (chiefly in Canon 1024) mean that any current attempts at ordaining women -- irrespective of women’s (alleged) ontological capacity for Orders -- are utterly null, that is, they are of no sacramental effect in the Church.

We have observed those who have turned to the diaconate as a means of furthering the official role of women in the Church, and who cite evidence from the past. Their opponents allege the intentions of certain elements within the Church membership, to use the diaconate to eventually justify Holy Orders (and therefore the presbyterate and episcopate) for women.

To the extent that the question of a female diaconate has been left open (as is suggested in the commentary accompanying Inter Insigniores), it is a subject for legitimate debate. Yet this author is concerned that the fear of "preconceived ideas" has already been realized -- dare it be said -- on both sides of the issue. On one hand, supporters of a female diaconate portray its historical model as essentially the same as its male equivalent, and see nothing to stand in the way of its revival, up to and including the reception of Holy Orders. Their opponents tend to downplay the historical significance of the female diaconate altogether, as little more than a lay apostolate, if more formalized than certain others during its tenure. What follows, then, is a brief historical sketch of women in the diaconate, with an emphasis on some of the most common misconceptions.

THE CHURCH OF THE APOSTLES

IMAGE: Phoebe, the deaconess of Cenchrae referred to by Saint Paul in Romans 16, whose name was invoked in later centuries for the ordination of deaconesses.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul addresses Phoebe as, "a deaconess of the Church at Cenchrae ... a helper of many and of myself as well" (16:1). In 1 Timothy we find women included with the men in the criteria for various ministries: "The women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things" (1 Tim 3:11). Such inclusion is in light of that which appears elsewhere in the same letter: "Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent" (I Tim 2:14).

In the early years of the Church, the Greek word diakonos (ministrae in Latin, ministry in English) initially implied a general service to the Church, while its reference to a specific function, whether male or female, developed gradually. Promoters of the ordination of women say that, because the word in the original Greek text, for both male and female deacons, is the same -- diakonos -- it would follow, by their line of reasoning, that the male and female deacons are essentially the same as well.

On the contrary, and with respect to the women, the masculine noun diakonos in ancient Greek is preceded by a feminine article, thus rendering a feminine usage, regardless of either the noun or the context. Further, there were other aspects of the female diaconate not found in the male equivalent. (It is for this reason alone that a distinction is justified in English between a "deacon" and a "deaconess.") It was not unheard of for the wife of a deacon to be called "deaconess" (although addressed in the present day by the title of "diakonissa") simply by virtue of her husband's status. For most of their history, deaconesses were chosen from among the ranks of virgins and widows. In later times, a minimum age would be set for deaconess-candidates, anywhere from forty to sixty years. Such limitations were not imposed upon male candidates.

The diaconate had its beginnings primarily as a ministry of service -- distributing goods to the poor, serving those in need, and so on -- and was not devoted to the liturgy or to preach, as were the Apostles (bishops) and elders (presbyters, or priests). That a woman was a point of contact for a particular community of believers (Tabitha in Acts 9:36; Mary the mother of John Mark in Acts 12:12; Lydia in Acts 16:14-15; Priscilla with her husband Aquila in Romans 16:3) did not denote any sort of ceremonial function; more likely that of a caretaker, or a source of hospitality or patronage. (One cannot help but notice how many Catholics today associate being "in charge" of anything in the Church with ordination, an official title, or other ceremonial trappings. Such was not a preoccupation of the early Church.)

By the end of the third century, the foundation was laid for distinctions in the work of the Church, between the roles of men and women, as well as matters temporal and spiritual. The diaconal office would eventually evolve beyond administration and service, into a distinct liturgical role. As it did, the offices of deacon and deaconess would continue to develop along separate lines.

THE POST-NICENE CHURCH

From the fourth through the ninth centuries, the diaconal office for women flourished, particularly in the Eastern Church. It is here that we must view the ancient world through the eyes of those who lived it.

The social norms of that time and place demanded very strict and separate roles for men and women. A man could not speak to a woman on the street, for example, without her father's or husband's permission. By now Christians could worship in public, of course, but the men and women stood in separate sections. It would have been scandalous for a priest to visit a sick woman to administer communion, especially in a pagan household or district. The catechumens were immersed in a pool for baptism and were unclothed, including the women. It would have been awkward for men to join them there, let alone in a house of public worship. And so, the demands of expediency and modesty required that women, as deaconesses, be called upon for the administration of pastoral care.

The role of the deaconess varied according to time and place, lending some difficulty to the development of a clear model for the present. As a case in point, we will examine and compare two documents of the period. One is the Didascalia Apostolorum, written about 300 AD. The other is the Apostolic Constitutions, written about 375 AD.

In the Didascalia, we find a description of the deaconess: "Those that please thee out of all the people thou shalt choose and appoint as deacons; a man for the performance of the most things that are required, but a woman for the ministry of women." She brought communion to those women who were ill, "for there are houses whither thou canst not send a deacon to the woman, on account of the heathen, but mayest send a deaconess." With respect to baptism, "let a woman deacon, as we have already said, anoint the woman. But let a man pronounce over them the invocation of divine Names in the water." (This was meant to follow the example of Christ, who chose John the Baptist as opposed to His mother Mary, to baptize Him.) Afterwards, the deaconess would "instruct her how the seal of baptism ought to be kept unbroken in purity and holiness."

By the latter part of the fourth century, we see in the Constitutions that the deacon no longer baptized, as this was the task of the priest, nor did the deaconess instruct the women. But the deaconess did receive the women from the waters of baptism while the deacon received the men. The deaconess continued to visit the sick, "for sometimes he (the bishop) cannot send a deacon, who is a man, to the woman, on account of unbelievers. Thou shalt therefore send the woman, a deaconess, on account of the imaginations of the bad." The deaconess would serve as an intermediary between women and Church officials. In public worship, she was a keeper of the doors for the women's entrance and an usher for the women's section of the assembly, so as to keep order and to prevent fraternization with the men.

The place of the deaconess in the ranks of orders varied as well. At one time or place, she ranked below the deacon and above the subdeacon, both male orders. At another, she would rank below the subdeacon, yet above the other minor male orders (such as acolyte, lector and cantor). At still another, she would rank below all male orders, yet above the other female orders (virgins, widows, et cetera). She might have been counted among the ranks of the clergy or (particularly in the West) the laity. Such variation adds to the general confusion by our standards.

IMAGE: Ordination of deacons and deaconesses, St John Syriac Orthodox Church, Burlington, Ontario. Note the very different vesture between deacons and deaconesses.

Even in those instances when the deaconess received her office within the sanctuary, her service was always performed outside, as the sanctuary itself was the place of presiding. Most documents of the period are particularly adamant on this point. Eventually, distinct garments of liturgical vesture would evolve for the various orders. By the ninth century, in the Byzantine Church, both the deacon and the deaconess wore the stole, but it was the orarion, the diaconal stole, as opposed to the epitrakhelion, or priestly stole, which was of a different design. The deacon wore his orarion around one shoulder and under the other, while the deaconess wore hers around the neck with the ends hanging in front.

While the deacon had a clear and consistent liturgical role, whether baptizing or assisting the priest at the Eucharist, the deaconess did not. The orders of deacon and deaconess both continued to develop, but remained very distinct, with the deaconess being charged mainly with serving the needs of women.

THE DEACONESS IN THE WESTERN CHURCH

The female diaconate was not as common in the Western Church. It was virtually unknown in the earlier years, and made its initial appearance in Gaul in the fourth and fifth centuries, but the order of deaconess never gained a solid foothold in the West. Saint Hippolytus, a pope in the third century, and author of the Apostolic Traditions, expressly forbid their ordination, and the Didascalia reflects his influence. The First Council of Orange decreed in 441 that "deaconesses are absolutely not to be ordained; and if there are still any of them, let them bow their head under the benediction which is given to the congregation." The female diaconate continued to take hold in Gaul, until the Second Council of Orleans effectively suppressed the order in 533. The most likely reason for its early demise in the West was that it was a transplant from another setting, one where the Church had different needs, and where matters of order and discipline in the Church had developed differently. Curiously, at least one vestige of the office has survived in the West until modern times. In the Carthusian order of nuns, the traditional ceremony of profession includes the bestowal of the stole and maniple by the bishop.

THE SECOND MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND

By the 11th or 12th century, the female diaconate in the Eastern Church reached its near demise. The acceptance of infant baptism, the rise of communities of religious women devoted to prayer and service, these and other factors may have contributed to the trend. Still, the practice continued for some time of the leader in a community of women being made a deaconess, so that she could lead the divine office, read the Gospel, and administer Communion to her sisters when no bishop, priest, or deacon was available.

Since the late 19th century, the Orthodox churches (with whom Catholicism shares the essentials of the Faith) have witnessed a revival of the deaconess; sporadically at first, but more steadily in recent years. In the early part of the 20th century, the Greek Orthodox have used them in the absence of a priest, where they read the Gospel and administer Communion. Still, they are considered part of the laity and roughly equivalent to a parish assistant, even though the practice of monastic deaconesses has also prevailed among them for some time. Meanwhile, the office has also been revived in the present day among the Antiochian, Armenian, Russian, and Syrian Orthodox. Even as the revival continues officially, however, there remains much disagreement within Orthodox circles, especially the application thereto of the term "ordination" (cheirotonia), and the confusion that may arise, as they along with the Catholic Church have a valid sacramental priesthood, one that is limited to males.

THE QUESTION OF ORDINATION

At the heart of the matter of a female diaconate, then, is the question of whether the deaconess would be ordained in the sense that we understand the term. The teaching of the Church notwithstanding, we have seen that the term has been applied to deaconesses at the height of their service, and proponents of the ordination of women are quick to point this out. Indeed, it was during the proliferation of the female diaconate, that a distinction arose between ordination (in Greek, chierotonia, for bishops, priests, deacons and deaconesses) and institution (cheirotesia, for the lesser orders). The Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 313 held that deaconesses need not necessarily have been ordained, and the Didascalia did not provide a ritual for it. On the other hand, the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 expressly provided for a ceremony of the laying on of hands and ordination for them. This is found in the Apostolic Constitutions, as well as later Church orders, since by the end of the fourth century, the term cheirotonia was used almost exclusively in the case of the deaconess.

There are two considerations in shedding light on this question. One is the sacraments themselves as they would have been understood at the time. The other is the authoritative writings of the councils and the Fathers of the Church during the period in question, as they understood the place of the deaconess in relation to the sacramental priesthood.

Both Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe that it was Christ Himself who instituted the seven Sacraments, and who left them to His Church from the beginning, as a provision for sanctifying grace. But it would be over a millennium before an exact inventory had been made. While most of the early Fathers mention them in their writings, they did not attempt to distinguish between Sacraments (signs of grace) and sacramentals (merely signs). Such a broad application of the term continued into the Middle Ages, during which time the writings of Peter Lombard and Thomas Aquinas gave precision to its theology. The final list of seven was formally recognized by the Council of Florence in 1439, and defined as a matter of faith by the Council of Trent in 1547.

We also know that, whatever the variations in the practice or status of the female diaconate, women could never legitimately aspire to the priesthood. As important as the deaconess was to the service of the Church, the Apostolic Constitutions were mindful of the distinctions from their male counterparts. It is here that the parameters of diaconal service by women could not be clearer: "A deaconess does not bless, nor perform anything belonging to the office of presbyters or deacons, but only is to keep the doors and to minister to the presbyters in the baptizing of women on account of decency." The prayers of ordination for a deacon and deaconess usually differed slightly, one from the other; that of the deacon referring to the example of the Protomartyr Stephen, while that of the deaconess referring to Phoebe of Cenchrae. The prayers of the former would also include a petition that the recipient may go on to the priesthood or the episcopacy.

There were, of course, attempts by women to perform priestly rites throughout the history of Christendom. Many pagan and pre-Christian religions had priestesses. In the Christian realm itself there were numerous heterodox sects in the early centuries in which women had a prominent ceremonial role. One example was the Priscillians, condemned by the Council of Nimes in 394. But even as the office of deaconess was in its fullest flower, it was understood by this council and others, and stated time and time again, that women, by virtue of their sex, could not aspire to "the Levitical ministry," as it was an "innovation ... unknown until today."

IMAGE: A deaconess of the Armenian Orthodox Church in the 19th century. Note the wearing of the diaconal stole on one shoulder, and the prominent monastic veil.

In the fourth century, Epiphanius of Salamis addressed the problem of the Collyridian heresy, in which women offered sacrifices to Mary, the Mother of God. Writing in his Panarion, he also gives an analysis of the proper role of the deaconess: "They tell us that certain women come here from Thrace, from Arabia, make a loaf in the name of the Ever-Virgin, assemble together in one self-same place and carry out quite irregular actions in the name of the Blessed Virgin, undertaking to do something blasphemous and forbidden and performing in her name, by means of women, definitely priestly acts ... Never, anywhere, has any woman acted as priest for God, not even Eve; even after her fall she was never so audacious as to put her hand to an undertaking so impious as this; nor did any of her daughters after her ever do so ... (Mary) was not even entrusted with the bestowal of Baptism, since the Christ Himself was baptized not by her but by John ... Never has a woman been appointed amongst the bishops and priests." He also responded to claims that the daughters of Philip, who were understood to have exercised the gift of prophecy (Acts 21:9), were honored as such by the sect. "Yes, but they did not exercise the priestly office. And it is true that there is the Order of Deaconess in the Church. But they are not permitted to act as priests or have anything to do with the Office ..." In other words, they did not share in the ministerial priesthood, that of Holy Orders.

Given the latitude with the terminology and the clear prohibition of women from priestly roles, we can surmise that the term "ordination" (cheirotonia) was applied more loosely (albeit consistently) in the first millennium than it would be today. Be that as it may, we can see that, throughout the history of the office, the deaconess did not receive Holy Orders upon her "ordination."

THE QUESTION OF ONTOLOGY

There are, among the seven Sacraments as defined by the Church, those with qualities that leave an indelible mark, and so are received only once. Holy Orders is one of them. The man who is ordained to the diaconate, presbyterate, and/or episcopate, is changed forever, at the level of his very being. The study of the nature of being is a branch of philosophy, in particular, metaphysics, known as ontology (from the Greek word meaning "being" or "that which is"). In her book Holy Saturday, Dr Zagano maintains the ontological equality of men and women.

That men and women are ontologically identical, that is, ontologically beyond sexuality in their substance while embracing sexuality in their accidents, argues even more strongly for the all-encompassing nature of God as reflected in Christ's human nature and, ultimately, in the whole body of Christ, the Church, which in and of itself reflects the complementarity that is the fullness of God. Hence, Christ could not ask his Church not to reflect his perfection: it is the Incarnation that argues the ontological equality of men and women.

Even as Zagano speaks at length about the distinction between being equal and being identical (that is, the same), this entire section of her argument reduces that very distinction to a sort of androgyny, as if our sexuality were merely a biological construct, to be employed or dispensed with at will (which is the aspiration of many who devote their lives to the pursuit of "gender studies"). In fact, while men and woman are equal in their humanity and their dignity, they are not the same; otherwise, there would be only one sex instead of two. That they are different yet still equal, underscores the complementary nature of their relationship to each other. This masculine/feminine symbiosis can be found in all of creation, from the relationship of God Himself to His people, to that of Christ and His Church, to that of men and women, to the very primal matter of the earth. A man and woman who enter into sacramental marriage do in fact become "one flesh," but not merely on a biological level. So too does a man become ontologically changed upon the receipt of the Sacrament of Holy Orders (which even here distinguishes him from a man who does not receive the sacrament), through which he is able to enter into a nuptial relationship -- a "marriage" of sorts -- with those under his spiritual care. A woman could not incur such a transformation, and therefore such a role in that relationship, through Holy Orders, anymore than she could undertake the masculine role through marriage. Her very being is not suited to that part of the complementary relationship, therefore she could not receive Holy Orders, therefore she could not receive the diaconate in the way as does a man, inasmuch as by so doing, the man is sharing in the ministerial priesthood, and by extension, that part of the relationship which requires his masculinity, thus, at the biological level, his being male.

CONCLUSIONS

Pending sufficient review of the historical and theological evidence at the official level, where its implications may be fully considered, it seems premature to anticipate any canonical framework whereby an office of deaconess would be established in the Catholic Church. The CLSA report spoke at length of the graces of the sacrament of Holy Orders ostensibly bestowed upon the woman deacon, and Zagano's presentation depends in large part upon the same. Given our understanding of the sacrament, entertaining such benefits serves no purpose, as women simply cannot receive Holy Orders. If both advocates and opponents of a female diaconate have one thing in common, it is the assumption that the office of deaconess is historically and irrevocably tied to the question of receiving this sacrament. As has been presented here, this is simply not the case. Any legitimate discussion of reviving the female diaconate, therefore, not only must not include provision for Holy Orders, it need not include provision for Holy Orders.

The classical definition of a "debate," where the burden of proof rests not with the status quo, but with the innovator, is a rule traditionally held dear in academia yet applied so rarely in the Church today. Our discoveries in the pages of history must be viewed in light of the tradition and teaching of the Church, whether we agree with them or not in the present, if for no other reason than that they were viewed in such a light in the past. We see women become caretakers of priestless parishes, and legitimately undertake responsibilities once most commonly reserved to priests. If we presume their service to be in the tradition of Tabitha and Priscilla, that same tradition need not confer a ceremonial or preaching role. Knowing this requires that we lay preconceptions aside, and let the evidence of history speak for itself. The reasons for re-instituting the female diaconate, then, would have to be as strong as for its suppression. The former is also no more likely to happen overnight than the latter.

To the extent that one is free to speculate, then, it is unlikely that the typical Catholic in the pew will find women dressed in stoles and dalmatics as the ordinary officiants at weddings and baptisms. It is more likely that the order of deaconess would be roughly equivalent to (if not the same as) what was once known in the West (and is still known in the East) as "minor orders" -- porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte; those steps of candidacy to Holy Orders, which in 1971 were revised in the Latin church as the installed ministries of acolyte and lector. A prelude to such a development may be found in the restoration of the consecration of virgins by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and the publication of Ordo consecrationis virginum. We know from history that deaconesses were often chosen from the ranks of women who offered their virginity to God for life. Whereas the role of women religious is in the context of community, could that of a female diaconate be more appropriate to the solitary life?

Be that as it may, if the tradition and teaching of the Church over two millennia is to be our guide, then, a diaconal order of women in the Catholic Church would (1) be separate and distinct from that of men, both by its inherent nature and its essential function, (2) exist primarily for the service to women, and (3) still leave the priesthood and episcopacy open only to men, as it has all along. The priest conducts his sacrificial duties in persona Christi; specifically, in the role of Christ as the Bridegroom in relation to the Bride, which is the Church, in that nuptial mystery which is the Eucharist. A society attuned to creation and the natural order thereof would understand this, whereas one accustomed to technology and the presumption to control its surroundings might not. Whatever our accomplishments in this life, we do not determine the order of creation; God does. In the words of His Son: "You have not chosen me. It is I who have chosen you."

Whether or not the office of deaconesses will be restored to the service of the Catholic Church once again, this writer presents the above for the consideration of the reader, and ultimately, the teaching authority of Mother Church.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

In addition to those sources referred to directly, the author has availed himself of the following:

Gryson, Roger, The Ministry of Women in the Early Church (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1976)

Hanna, Elaine (recorded lecture), "Women and the Diaconate" (St Vladimir's Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 1991)

Rand, Laurence, "Ordination of women to the Diaconate" (Communio: International Catholic Review, Winter 1981)

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(POSTSCRIPT: The above was originally published in the Arlington Catholic Herald in 1996, and included in the EWTN Online Library later that year. It has since been edited for clarity, updated in light of developments since its original release, and carefully reviewed by a research assistant with a masters in theology. -- DLA)
 

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Smackdown Revisited

A lot has been said about the Presidential debates last night. From the Associated Press, we get this insight from George Washington University political science professor Danny Hayes, who says Obama did well, while Romney held his own. When you consider that moderator Candy Crowley was basically in the tank for Obama (who still can't stop lying through this teeth), interrupting Romney 128 times, as opposed to 9 times with Obama, and ganging up with Obama on Romney for his bogus handling of the embassy raid in Libya, the very least we can expect from the polls, is that Romney won't gain much (if you don't count the latest Gallup poll), but won't lose anything either.

That's the short version.

The long version depends on the heretofore undecided voters. Those are the ones who will sway the "swing states" that either candidate needs to clinch it, and it doesn't look as though Romney will lose his gain here. But one's thing's for sure; if Romney can come out of the third debate smelling like a rose, that's the ball game. Michelle can start making vacation plans on her own dime.

At Chez Alexandre, we watched the web feed from The Wall Street Journal. Beats the hell out of those poseurs at The Daily Beast. Meanwhile, Crowley may have been the real loser of last night's debate, don't you think?

Or don't you?
 

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Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: “Advanced Style”

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature. You have to respect anyone who embraces where they are in life, even when it's near the end of it. Sooner or later, we all do. Some react better than others. Here's a case in point. Enjoy.
 

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Smackdown 2012: Get Ready to Rumble!

Tonight is the second of the Presidential debates. It will be done in a "town hall" type format, one which both candidates have done, but one in which at least one of the candidates will have an easier time getting along without a teleprompter, and otherwise thinking on his feet. Hey, you can't change a lifetime of bad habits in two weeks, people, so look for more of the same when the dust settles.

Meanwhile, someone who can't make the event wants to know how increasing taxes on rich guys puts some else back to work.
 

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So I defend Big Bird’s honor, and this is what happens ...

This past Sunday, a well-placed "tweet" by this writer was featured at the political blog known as Hot Air, originally founded by syndicated columnist Michell Malkin, before she sold it to Townhall.

@EdMorrissey @michellemalkin #obama campaign still using #bigbird tv ad, #snl, at 12:07am edt. still keeping it classy, huh, guys? #debates

It is one of a number of diverse political sites that I read, not only because of its witty commentary and reparteé, but because it links to articles that are not necessarily "conservative." From this entry I got a spike in my readership which couldn't possibly last forever, and four new followers to my Twitter account. So I want to welcome readers of the site to this part of the World Wide Web. Be advised that this is a weblog for people who don't (necessarily) read weblogs. As we tell everybody here, stay tuned, and stay in touch!
 

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Monday, October 15, 2012

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Mid-October Edition)

One of Obama's former classmates says that he claimed to be of royal lineage. All this and more from the folks at Pajamas Media.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on (and this week, above) planet Earth:

In what could explain a brief reference in the above video, fans of Vice President Joe Biden have started a fundraiser to buy him a Pontiac Trans Am. (indiegogo.com)

Speaking of fast living, a man in Naples, Florida, crashed a young girl's birthday party, wielding a machete and attempting to steal beer. (Naples Daily News)

In a completely semi-related story, famous bartender Salvatore Calabrese has broken the world record for creating the most expensive cocktail in history. Most of us would just as soon get a decent used car. (ShortList.com)

Did vice-presidential challenger Congressman Paul Ryan seat the "bean story" from the late Kurt Cobain? Is there copyright protection for baby nicknames now? What's up with that? (Newsy)

Finally, this writer was at church on Sunday morning, and only after leaving was among the last to learn about THIS! Cue the second video. (AP)

And that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.
 

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blessed Assurance



Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

    This is my story, this is my song,
    Praising my Savior all the day long;
    This is my story, this is my song,
    Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

    This is my story ...

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

    This is my story ...

(A hymn by Frances J Crosby, composed in 1873.)
 

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Friday, October 12, 2012

FAMW: Obligatory Chris Matthews Moment

Chris Matthews is the host of the MSNBC "news" program Hardball, where the fact that he was educated by Jesuits at some point in his life, becomes fairly obvious by the way he handles his interview subjects. You might say it's downright ... jesuitical. That it may be showing signs of wear, in the wake of the first Presidential debate, is the subject of this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
 

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

The “Other” Debate

... is tonight, between Vice President (and Democrat) Joe Biden, and his Republican challenger, Congressman Paul Ryan. With four swing states -- Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia -- polling within the margin of error, this might be a game changer, or reinforce what happened with the debate last month. This is worth noting when you consider that, historically, debates between vice-presidential candidates are of less consequence.

Meanwhile, veteran debate coach Brett O'Connell talks about what each of the two needs to do or not do, in an article at The Daily Beast.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: While We’re Waiting

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

This past week, Radio Free Babylon (authors of the sleeper hit "Coffee With Jesus") recorded this song. They say they rather like it, but ...

It doesn't fit the standard song structure of two verses followed by a chorus, then another verse and the chorus reprise. It's more or less just a little exercise in alliteration. We're previewing it here on Facebook before it's available on iTunes or Amazon. That way, you can enjoy it for free and never have to pay that ridiculous 99 cents once we offer it up for sale.

You decide.
 

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Show Us Your Rosaries!

This is a follow-up to our piece last Sunday to honor the Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. I got the idea two years ago from a correspondent in the Philippines, 100% Katolikong Pinoy, who invited Catholics around the world to show off their own personal rosaries. Meanwhile, at Chez Alexandre, featured here are a few rosaries thrown together from my personal collection, each with a story to tell. (Mind you, these images taken together are not quite to scale.)

The first is the one most dear to me. It belonged to my Grandma Rosselot. It is more than two feet long stretched end to end, and is made with beads of what appear to be stained walnut. When she passed away twenty years ago, everybody was fighting over the good china and the cedar chest, and I told them, “All I want is Grandma’s big-@$$ rosary. You know, the BIG one!” So my dear sweet mama got a big stick out of the garage to take with her, and was able to fight off my other aunties to get it for me. What a gal!

This next one is a little bigger, nearly three feet laid end to end. This one is made of various polished stones, with large ornate devotional medals attached. It is usually kept in a display pouch with the rest of my stash. and is more of a collector's or novelty item, if there is such a thing for rosaries. One could hardly take this one to church on a Friday night, never mind Sunday morning, but it's there to contemplate nonetheless.

Speaking of one to contemplate, you might be thinking, “Yo, Black-Hatted One, there’s too many beads. Duuude! What’s up with that?” Well, duuude, you may remember how we described the origin of the rosary as inspired by the Book of 150 Psalms. Well, this one is the genuine article, a fifteen-decade rosary. The one in yours truly's collection is made of black plastic beads, but cannot be found at the moment, so I borrowed this one. (Saint Anthony is up to his old tricks again, that rascal!) Also known as "habit rosaries," they are typically at least three feet from one end to the other. They are typically worn by being clipped to the girdle (which is to say, the belt) of a friar or nun, usually a Dominican.

The next time you see a Dominican in full habit, if you can find one, count the decades for yourself. But remember, it's impolite to stare.

Our next item is not really a rosary in the strict sense, but is inspired by the little "decade rosaries" that the Irish secretly carried with them during the British persecution. This one has the opening phrase of the Angelic Salutation, in English on the obverse, and in Latin on the reverse. Also known as "ring rosaries," this type is usually worn around the finger when used. I actually found this one in the 39 cent bin of my favorite thrift store. It is about an inch and a half at its longest.

Amazing what you can find when you're not looking (which is probably how I'll eventually find my own fifteen-decade number).

Finally, there is the "everyday" rosary. Everyone has at least one of these, the one we carry with us in our pocket or purse during the week, for those stolen moments in the park during the lunch hour, or at our desk when we think no one's looking. This is the one I carry in the pocket of my suit coat during the workweek. It is about a foot long, made of olive wood imported from Bethlehem (or so they say), always a favorite at the typical Catholic bookstore. They cost less than ten dollars, and with plain wooden beads strung on a sturdy cord, they don't break easily.

Well, that's all we could throw together for now. Not to be outdone, Sofia Guerra of AlwaysCatholic.com has been thrown the gauntlet, and is certain to come up with a few devotional delights of her own. We challenge the rest of the Catholic blogosphere to do the same. Like the title says ...

SHOW US YOUR ROSARIES!
 

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Bumps in the Road

This past September 11, a foreign entity staged an attack on American soil, and abducted and killed the highest ranking official present. That is what happened when the American embassy in Libya was overrun. It was, by any standard under international law, an attack on American soil. It was also, by that same standard, an act of war. The President of the United States would have been well within his rights to appear before a joint session of Congress, and ask them to declare that a state of war exists between the United States and the country responsible.

Instead, he went to bed as usual that evening.

In exactly four weeks, this nation will get the leadership it deserves, don't you think?

Or don't you?
 

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Monday, October 08, 2012

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Columbus Day Edition)

Vice President Joe Biden promises that every American will have a free rectal exam, just as President Obama encourages men and women to vote like their "lady parts" depend on it. (Huh?) Hear about these stories and more from the folks at Pajamas Media.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the universe:

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, nobody could read. (TOR.com)

... while closer to planet Earth:

Ohio State quarterback is quoted on Twitter saying that he should only come to college to play football because "we ain't come to play SCHOOL." Obviously. (Deadspin)

In Russia, an eleven-year-old boy found a woolly mammoth. Fortunately, it was already dead -- for 30,000 years. (Daily Mail)

Speaking of the dead, zombies are now teaching CPR in public services announcements. What will those wacky Canadians do next? (Heart & Stroke Foundation)

Finally, with the fall wedding season underway, did you hear about the wedding in Yorkshire with thirty bridesmaids? Their outfits don't appear to match, which should take some of the pressure off. (Daily Mail)

And that's all the news that fits. As (what's left of) the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.
 

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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Lepanto





White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young.
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.

Love-light of Spain -- hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.

Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri's knees,
His turban that is woven of the sunsets and the seas.
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees;
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.

Giants and the Genii,
Multiplex of wing and eye,
Whose strong obedience broke the sky
When Solomon was king.

They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From the temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be,
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,
They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
And he saith, "Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done.
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces -- four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not 'Kismet'; it is he that knows not Fate;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey at the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth."
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria s going to the war.)

Sudden and still -- hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.

St. Michaels on his Mountain in the sea-roads of the north
(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea-folk labour and the red sails lift.
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes,
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,

Trumpet that sayeth ha!
Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships.

King Philip's in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
Don John's hunting, and his hounds have bayed--
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid.

Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.

The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in man's house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
They veil the plumèd lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings' horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign --
(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.

Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade....
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

-- G K Chesterton (1874-1936)

+ + +

Today, as mentioned earlier, the western Church traditionally celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, in thanksgiving for her intercession on behalf of the naval forces of Christian nations, flying under the banner of the Holy See, and winning victory over the Ottoman Turks, on this day in 1571. Thus the contest has rightfully been hailed as "the battle that saved Christendom."
    

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