Monday, January 27, 2020

Impeachment: Everything (Else) You Really Need To Know

This is a follow-up to the recent social media binge by pajama pundit Carpe Donktum. Today we show Fox News commentator Jesse Watters in two segments. The first is the short version (ten minutes) of the fallout as of last Saturday, the result of Day Five of the impeachment proceedings in the senate.

The second segment is the long version (the first nineteen minutes) of more detailed fallout as of today, complete with the testimony of the defense (which, despite some people's best efforts, is what actually happens at a trial), as well as backtracking by the big media "experts" who have just got to be feeling really stupid right now -- probably because they also look stupid. Every last one of them.

UPDATE: The "long version" has since been cut, most likely due to intellectual property issues. At this writing (the following day), the "short version" has not fallen victim to this -- yet. Our next piece will use original sources.

America is starting to get bored with the entire drama, just when it's starting to get interesting, don't you think?

Or don't you?
 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Impeachment: Everything You Really Need To Know (So Far)

I should begin by saying that I did not vote for Donald Trump for President.

I also did not vote for Hillary Clinton.

In other words, I did not vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. The reason at the time (as of November 2016) was that I saw very little difference between the two. Both ran in the same social circles, both were equally unscrupulous, and I didn't trust one any more than I did the other, leaving me with the choice of voting for the lesser of two evils. And as the good Father Martin Fox said at the time: "The lesser of two evils is still evil."

He was definitely on to something.

In fact, I also did not vote for a third party candidate, as I did in 2000 (Patrick Buchanan, Reform Party) and 2004 (Michael Peroutka, Constitution Party). The reason at the time (as of November 2016) was that my mother was dying, and I was too late for obtaining an absentee ballot.

So, I didn't vote, period.

That said, in the three years that have followed, the unemployment rate is at its lowest level in about half a century, unemployment for blacks, Hispanics, and women, are at the lowest levels in years, interest rates have managed to stay below five percent, the stock market is doing reasonably well, manufacturing jobs are actually returning in some places, companies are raising wages in other places, our NATO allies were told to pay their fair share of their own defense, this administration is frequently blamed for policies that began with previous administrations (where they weren't called "Nazis" for doing so), and the political appointees to whom I answer, at the government entity where I work, are actually competent.

In other words, it could be a lot worse, and in my experience (which would be quite a bit) usually is.

So, when there have been calls for the removal of the President since roughly the day he was elected (and this can all be verified, and I will if some of you keep pushing your luck), the least I can expect is for the burden to fall squarely on the accuser, and not the accused. But when I watch the evening news, I wouldn't know that.

A thief or a murderer gets more consideration.

That's when a friend of mine found this guy on Twitter, who like most of them never uses his real name but calls himself "Carpe Donktum" (which is really bad Latin for "seize the donkey"). What follows is attributed to him, and is published here without permission or shame.

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Democrats: We have an airtight case against the President

Republicans: Okay, go ahead

Dems: Trump and his staff came up with a plot to withhold funding to Ukraine contingent on the announcement of investigations into Joe Biden's son. AN ABUSE OF POWER, then he obstructed our investigation!

Reps: Oh, gee, that sounds bad.

Dems: It gets worse, he also withheld a meeting with the new President of Ukraine unless he complied.

Reps: WOW. That poor man, when will they get the money?

Dems: Oh, they already got the money. A few weeks before the deadline.

Reps: Wait, he got the money? Are they going to withdraw the investigations?

Dems: He never announced the investigations, but Trump asked them to investigate in their meeting.

Reps: Wait, THEY HAD THE MEETING?

Dems: Well yeah, they had a meeting

Reps: So, let me makes sure I have this right, Trump gave them the money before the deadline, they didn't announce any investigations and they got the meeting.

Dems: Yes.

Reps: And you investigated this?

Dems: Of course we did, we had to, the president clearly has bad motives.

Reps: And you found proof of this?

Dems: Absolutely, one guy overheard someone else on the phone talking to Trump about the whole scheme.

Reps: Like on speaker phone?

Dems: Not exactly, more like across the table in a crowded restaurant, not on speakerphone.

Reps: I see, I suppose he destroyed all the evidence, thus the obstruction.

Dems: Well, no, first he declassified the meeting transcripts, BUT then he said he had executive privilege or some nonsense.

Reps: What did the court say?

Dems: What court?

Reps: Didn't you take him to court to get the records?

Dems: There was no time, we can't have a president extorting foreign countries. LOL MAN, are you crazy?

Reps: Just a second, let me catch my breath.

Dems: Shocking, isn't it.

Reps: To recap, Trump gave Ukraine a meeting, the funding, no investigations were launched, declassified the meeting, and offered to go to let the courts decide on executive privilege, and you impeached based on an overheard phone call and the fact that you were in a hurry?

Dems: Well ... when you say it like that it makes us sound silly. But you'll see when we call new witnesses during the Senate phase.

Reps: YOU HAVEN'T EVEN INTERVIEWED ALL THE WITNESSES YET?

Dems: Well, no, but we did interview a few low level staffers.

Reps: (looks around)

Dems: (grins confidently)

Reps: You are f@#$ing crazy.

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To put it another way, A is accused of doing something wrong while going after B, who actually did do something wrong, while the ones going after A are not denying the reasons for going after B.

That's the good news. The bad news? It's not over yet.

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POSTSCRIPT: By the way, kiddies, all Ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the President. He can remove them for any reason without the approval of Congress. Here endeth the civics lesson.
 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

“Kung hei faht choi!”



That's what they were saying in China, in the Philippines, as well as in any country with a large Chinese population, not to mention Chinatowns all over the world. Today begins the lunar new year in China -- to be more exact, “The Year of the Rat.”

Celia missed the bulk of the celebration this time, as she just came home from her native land today.

I took Paul to his first "dragon festival" in DC's Chinatown back in 1987, when he was about two years old. He fit right in with his bright red snowsuit. Such is the culmination of a fifteen-day celebration that begins today (or yesterday, depending on your side of the planet).

Meanwhile, the video clip above was taken at the National Building Museum back in 2007 with a phone camera. That was the Year of the Pig, but at least a dragon showed up.

Obviously camera phones have come a long way in thirteen years, don't you think?

Or don't you?

NOTE: As my beloved is one-eighth Cantonese, the above title is the greeting "Happy New Year" in that form of the Chinese language, as opposed to the more common Mandarin. Meanwhile, learn more than you could possibly want to know about the occasion on Wikipedia.
 

Friday, January 24, 2020

2020: “ProLifeCon” Reconsidered

Today it begins, our tenth annual “Twitcast” joining pro-life bloggers and digital activists from near and far, who all had the good sense once again to come in out of the cold, during the annual March For Life, for this year's ProLifeCon, the “premiere conference for the online prolife community” hosted once again by the Family Research Council in Washington DC.

During the event, this video clip provides a live feed of the proceedings. With its conclusion, and before the end of the day, you are invited to view the full pre-recording (which is not accessible on all browsers; no to Safari, yes to Chrome). You can learn more at the FRC website, follow the magic hashtag on Twitter, #prolifecon, or follow yours truly at twitter.com/manwithblackhat.

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The list of speakers announced one week prior to the event (not necessarily in order of appearance) is as follows:

Alex Azar, US Department of Health and Human Services
Chris Baggett, Vice President of Donor Development, The Human Coalition
Ryan & Bethany Bomberger, Co-Founders, Chief Creative Officer and Executive Director, The Radiance Foundation
Claire Culwell, Abortion Survivor
Kristan Hawkins, President, Students for Life
Chuck Konzelman, Director, Unplanned Movie
Jennie Lichter, Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council, The White House
Melissa Ohden, Abortion Survivor
Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
Patricia Rucker, State Senator, West Virginia Senate
Connor Semelsberger, Legislative Assistant, Family Research Council
Roger Severino, Director, Office for Civil Rights at the US Department of Health and Human Services
Bernadette Tasy, California State Captain, Students for Life Action
Petra Wallenmeyer, Content Director, Human Defense Initiative

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This year is different.

I have been proud to present this event online, both in the blogosphere and the twitterverse (yes, apparently those are both real words), over the past decade. But life is what happens when you make other plans, and there are things to do to prepare for my Celia’s return from the Philippines. (My throng of adoring fans — you both know who you are — may recall that I was over there during the Christmas season, but more on that later.) And so, inasmuch as I don’t have a Patreon account to support this endeavor, it came down to a choice.

Which brings me to why this year is different.

Recently, my friend Rebecca Bratten Weiss sent me this article from Newsweek about a speech given by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). Speaking at Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority event last June, the senator revealed that there are senior Republican senators who disliked his proposal to include language in a spending bill to defund Planned Parenthood. That’s because, Paul said, they cared more about getting Democrats’ votes for a spending bill than saving unborn lives.

“I’ll give you an example," Paul continued. "Last year, I tried to attach to a spending bill a prohibition to have any money spent by Planned Parenthood. You know what happened? [GOP leadership] sat me down and one of the senior Republican senators said, 'We cannot have the vote today.' I said 'why?' He said 'we might win.’”

Remember the general during the Vietnam War who was quoted saying: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it”? If you do, the above has a familiar ring. If you don't, I'll break it down for you.

They have to keep abortion legal to keep promising to end it.

And so, I suppose it was a relief to discover, that after publicly challenging a discussion panel at last year's ProLifeCon, for dominating their lineup with politicians and others devoted only to ending abortion, with virtually no regard to affordable health care for the mother, or any other options to help her and/or the child once born, there were some changes for this year's lineup. As of the time prior to the event, there were no members of the United States Senate or House of Representatives scheduled! The only elected official scheduled was a state legislator from West Virginia.

And not only that, but the The Radiance Foundation, a kick-@$$ pro-life and pro-adoption endeavor, made its triumphant return, along with another organization, one dedicated to helping mothers with health care, food, baby clothes, and so on, known as the Human Defense Initiative.

Did I have anything to do with this? Maybe, maybe not. Last year, Ryan and Bethany Bomberger, the couple at the heart of The Radiance Foundation, had a sick child to care for at the last minute. But the three Congressmen whining about losing their majority in the House weren’t there. And there was (as I remember) a new endeavor present. The Human Coalition aims to reach women considering abortion, and to offer an alternative complete with genuinely life-giving health care, in the form of what the speaker calls a "virtual clinic."

"We can love her well, and we can compassionately walk alongside her."

The pro-life movement in the United States stands at a crossroads, even with the assistance of one touted as the most pro-life President in history, a Congress in deadlock over this and other issues (at least one of them rather obvious of late), and suspicions among observers -- the so-called "New Pro Life Movement" as a case in point -- that activists for the unborn care only about the child in the womb, with little regard to the mother, or what happens next. The host of this event (not to rub it in, but …) did themselves no favors last year, when the event was dominated by those who would prove their detractors correct. Almost if not entirely absent, were the advocates for the mothers, and the health-care workers for mothers out in the field, with what we used to call "crisis pregnancies."

That is what makes this year’s ProLifeCon a marked improvement, makes me wish I could have been there, and why I’m determined to be there next year.

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Meanwhile, a writer for The Federalist, under the non de plume of Bill Kilgore, wrote that the pro-life movement, for all its pretense toward imminent victory, reveals something else on closer examination.

A friend who worked for a pro-life organization very much in the “the movement” confirms this. He became frustrated that people there ignore the evidence in front of them, and instead show excitement about the size of the marches, acting “as if our country is turning a corner and is getting closer and closer to life.” They react more strongly to those who challenge their approved legal tactics or rhetoric than they do actual political defeats, as if questioning the success of the movement is some sort of heresy.

They have to keep abortion legal to keep promising to end it.

And so ...

Nothing is over until it's over, not only when the mother's womb is the safest place for any child waiting to come into the world, but when these United States, indeed the world itself, is ready to uphold the most elementary right of all, the right to simply exist. We are not there yet, and we are not going to be anytime soon.

That is why a Tip of the Black Hat goes to the Family Research Council, for their continued efforts in support of the pro-life movement and digital activists, and why yours truly intends to be at the ProLifeCon next year.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a load of laundry to do.
 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Agnus Dei

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Agnes, a virgin and martyr of the early persecutions.

She was put to death after refusing both a marriage proposal from a prominent Roman family (having already consecrated herself to God), and the offering of tribute to the pagan Gods. Her name is mentioned with the other great martyrs of Rome in the Roman Canon (otherwise known to most Catholics as Eucharistic Prayer I).

It is on this occasion that the Holy Father appears at the Church of Saint Agnes in Rome. There, he blesses two lambs, decorated in red (for martyrdom) and white (for purity), traditionally provided by the Trappists of the Tre Fontane Monastery. Then the lambs are taken to the Convent of Saint Cecilia, where the Sisters care for them. The wool sheared from them is used to weave the palliums worn by the Pope and the Archbishops, and which are conferred on new recipients on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on the 29th of June. (Information courtesy of Fisheaters.com. Image courtesy of Teresa Satola.)

The “Agnus Dei” (“Lamb of God”) is also the name of a popular traditional devotion, in the form of a small medallion, wherein is contained a small amount of wax taken from the previous year's Paschal Candle of the Church of Rome.

This practice has fallen into disuse in recent years. Perhaps now is a good time to revive it.
 

Monday, January 06, 2020

Christus Mansionem Benedicat!

VIDEO: A 2008 performance of "March of the Kings" ("Marche Des Rois") by Nowell Sing We Clear (Tony Barrand, Fred Breunig, Andy Davis and John Roberts) at Latchis Theater, Brattleboro, Vermont.

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At the Mass for the Day, the faithful are given chalk that has been blessed by the priest, as well as special holy water known as "Epiphany water." The blessing for it, which takes place only for this occasion, is to be found in the traditional Rituale Romanum, and includes a prayer of exorcism. The blessed chalk and the holy water are then taken home, to be used that evening.

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The Blessing of the Entrance to the House (“Chalking the Door”)

The one who is the Officiant begins with the Sign of the Cross, as the others respond ...

Pax + huic dómui.
(Peace + be unto this house.)

Et ómnibus habitántibus in ea.
(And to all who dwell therein.)

...and then continue with Psalm 71(72) "Deus, judicium":

Give the King your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the King's son;

That he may rule your people righteously
and the poor with justice.


That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,
and the little hills bring righteousness.

He shall defend the needy among the people;
he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.


He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure,
from one generation to another.

He shall come down like rain upon the mown field,
like showers that water the earth.


In his time shall the righteous flourish;
there shall be abundance of peace
till the moon shall be no more.

He shall rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.


His foes shall bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust.

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute,
and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts.


All kings shall bow down before him,
and all the nations do him service.

For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress,
and the oppressed who has no helper.


He shall have pity on the lowly and poor;
he shall preserve the lives of the needy.

He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence,
and dear shall their blood be in his sight.


Long may he live!
and may there be given to him gold from Arabia;

May prayer be made for him always,
and may they bless him all the day long.


May there be abundance of grain on the earth,
growing thick even on the hilltops;

May its fruit flourish like Lebanon,
and its grain like grass upon the earth.


May his Name remain for ever
and be established as long as the sun endures;

May all the nations bless themselves in him
and call him blessed.


Blessed be the Lord GOD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous deeds!

And blessed be his glorious Name forever!
and may all the earth be filled with his glory.


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

Then the Officiant says the following prayer:

Lord God of Heaven and Earth, who hast revealed thine only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star: Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill them with the light of Christ, that their love for others may truly reflect thy love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

If necessary, the Officiant or another steps up onto a chair or stepladder, and with a piece of blessed chalk, writes over the entrance to the house.

“Christus ...” (“May Christ ...”)

          C

“Mansionem ...” (“this dwelling ...”)

          C      M

“Benedicat.” (“... bless.”)

          C      M      B

“In the coming year ...”

20      C      M      B

“... and in the years to come.”

20      C      M      B      20

“In the name of the Father ...”

20  +  C      M      B      20

“and of the Son ...”

20  +  C  +  M      B      20

“... and of the Holy Spirit.”

20  +  C  +  M  +  B      20

Everyone responds: “Amen.”

20  +  C  +  M  +  B  +  20

The doorway is sprinkled with Holy Water blessed for the Epiphany. The inscription is to be removed on the Feast of Pentecost.

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For those who require "the short form," there is this one from the Church of Saint Mary in Clifton Heights, New York. On those nights when the weather is particularly inclement, one can simply read from the Gospel of John while inscribing over the door ...

In the beginning was the Word, (inscribe 2)

and the Word was with God, (inscribe 0)

and the Word was God. (inscribe +)

He was in the beginning with God. (inscribe C)

All things came to be through him, (inscribe +)

and without him nothing came to be. (inscribe M)

And the Word became flesh (inscribe +)

and made his dwelling among us, (inscribe B)

and we saw his glory, (inscribe +)

the glory as of the Father’s only Son, (inscribe 2)

full of grace and truth. (inscribe 0)

… then with the Holy Water, making the sign of the cross three times over the entrance, proclaiming “Christus ... Mansionem ... Benedicat” and calling it a night.

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This day is remembered throughout the world by various names. In many parts of Europe, Epiphany retains its distinction as "Little Christmas." Among the Greek Orthodox, the waters of the harbor are blessed by the local priest. In Spanish-speaking countries, it is known as “Dia de los Tres Reyes” (“Day of the Three Kings”). There are parades on the main street, such as this one in Madrid, Spain.

Although we know the "kings" were not actually royalty at all, but scholars in astronomy and other sciences who came from Persia, tradition has associated Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar (their names as rendered in the apocryphal gospel accounts) as representing the Orient, Arabia, and Africa, the three great land masses of the known world in the first millennium.

As with the eve of Saint Nicholas Day in parts of western Europe, children in the Hispanic world are known to leave their shoes out and receive candy and other treats by the next morning. In Spain, children traditionally received presents on this day, rather than on Christmas, although recent years have seen both Christmas and Epiphany as a time for gift-giving.

I just love parades.

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This day is also the occasion for the solemn pronouncement of movable feasts for the coming year, using the chant from the Pontificale Romanum. Other resources can be found at reginamag.com.
 

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Christmastide: Twelfth Night

When I was growing up back in Ohio, the village of Milford had their own way of disposing of old Christmas trees. They would be collected and taken to some field at the edge of town, stacked in a big pile, and "Twelfth Night" would be celebrated with the lighting of a bonfire dubbed the "yule log."

This is remarkable when you consider that Milford is a town first settled by (and more than two centuries later, is still more or less dominated by) Methodists and not "Catlickers." Of course, my parents -- may God rest their souls -- didn't go for that sort of ribaldry, so I never actually saw it, but I would always read about it that week in the local rag known as The Milford Advertiser.

(Here we note that Protestants in the northern states did not celebrate Christmas until well into the 19th century. It was even outlawed by the northern colonies in the early years of European settlement. The southern colonies, on the other hand ...)

These days, I imagine people would have a hard time penciling it in between trips to soccer practice and PTA meetings. In fact, since leaving the Buckeye State to seek my fortune elsewhere, I learned that the town has yielded to other priorities, as in this little gem I read a few years ago, from the county's Office of Environmental Quality:

“Many recycled trees are sent through a wood chipper and are used as mulch.”

They have got to be kidding. That kills the holiday magic right there. Why celebrate the glory of the season, when you can spend the rest of the year spreading it on your lawn and walking all over it?

Meanwhile, here at Chez Alexandre, we will celebrate Epiphany on the traditional day all along. Tomorrow the lights that are traditionally left on all during Christmastide, will finally be shut off in the evening and taken down. They will be put back in storage along with the decorations, waiting for the season to return.

Last of all, the dying tree is sent to its final resting place -- in the years that we actually have a live tree, which we didn't this year in favor of being out of the country -- which as has been noted, is another story.

Joy, health, love and peace
Be all here in this place
By your leave we will sing
Concerning our King.

Our King is well dressed
In silks of the best
In ribbons so rare
No King can compare.

We have traveled many miles
Over hedges and stiles
In search of our King
Unto you we bring.

We have powder and shot
To conquer the lot
We have cannon and ball
To conquer them all.

Old Christmas
    is past
Twelvetide
    is the last

And we bid
    you adieu
Great joy
    to the new.

 

Christmastide: Day 12 (St Telesphorus/St John Neumann)

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming ...”

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Contrary to popular opinion (including people who should know better), the sixth day of January is not the twelfth day of Christmas. The day before, the fifth of January, is the twelfth day of Christmas. The following day, the sixth of January, is the first day of Epiphanytide.

Don't believe me? Get the calendar, do the math, and thank me later.

Another misconception, one growing this past year among traditional Catholics, is that Christmas lasts for forty days, leading up to the Feast of the Presentation, or Candlemas Day. No, Christmastide does not last for forty days. That would be the Christmas Cycle, one of only a few that comprise the liturgical year. And yes, we continue to celebrate, but not in the same way. That's why we have Carnivale in Brazil, Mardi Gras (the day before Lent begins) in New Orleans and beyond, and in the Philippines, the Feast of Santo Niño on the third Sunday of January. (More on that last one later, probably.)

Okay, let's review. Christmas Octave (eight days), Christmastide (twelve days, from 25 December through 5 January), Epiphanytide (from 6 January until the start of Septuagesima until Shrove Tuesday right before Lent, which always begins after Candlemas Day), and the Christmas Cycle (forty days or more, encompassing most of the above). Four different things.

You're welcome.

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Meanwhile ...

Today, the reformed Roman calendar honors Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, a native of Bohemia and Redemptorist priest who was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia in the mid-19th century, and who was a key figure in spreading the Faith to an ever-expanding United States of America.

In the traditional Roman calendar, Mother Church remembers Pope Saint Telesphorus, elected Bishop of Rome in 126, and martyred ten years later. The tradition of celebrating Mass on Christmas at Midnight, the celebration of Easter on Sundays, the keeping of a seven-week Lent before Easter, and the singing of the Gloria, all are attributed by tradition to his pontificate, even as the historical accuracy of these claims remains in doubt.

Tonight, a season ends, and here at Chez Alexandre, we start the day by taking the ornaments down from the tree. Tomorrow, a new season begins. Stay tuned ...
 

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Christmastide: Day 11 (St Elizabeth Ann Seton)

“On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eleven pipers piping ...”

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The end of Christmastide draws near, but is still with us. And yet, by the end of the workweek, life has returned to turn to normal. Trees are taken down and sitting on the curb, and commercials for "holiday sales," having been extended just beyond the first day of the new year, fade into the realm of yesterday's news. Meanwhile ...

Today is the feast of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph, the mother of the Nation's parochial school system, and patroness of Catholic schools. Canonized a saint by Pope Paul VI in 1975, she was the first native-born American to be raised to the altar.

From the original motherhouse in Emmitsburg, Maryland, a branch house was established out west, known today as the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, based at Mount Saint Joseph-on-the-Ohio, located on the city's once-predominantly Catholic west side. This order did much to build, not only the parochial school system in this part of the Midwest through their teaching apostolate, but the health care system as well, through the establishment of Good Samaritan Hospital in 1852.

Concerning the role of women Religious and the health care apostolate, much has changed in recent years, to say the least. In light of certain health care legislation signed into law in the United States, and the capitulation by certain "leaders" of women religious orders, in forcing others to cooperate in acts against the Gospel of Life, let us pause for a moment to consider the irony.

And hope for a restoration of common sense to the issue.