Tuesday, June 13, 2017

100 June 13ths Ago: Promises and Predictions

The war raged on.  Europe was no stranger to war; but the ferocity and the scope of this war were unprecedented.  The slaughter proceeded on an industrial scale.  And there were the new horrors, beyond all description: the blood and mud of trench warfare; poison gas; primitive tanks, whose operators could not expect to survive more than a few minutes in an engagement; and air raids over cities.  While the three shepherd children of Fatima were keeping their appointment with the Mother of God in the Cova da Iria on June 13, 1917, 18-20 German bombers struck the city of London in broad daylight, in one of the worst air raids of the war.  Four hundred people were injured, and 162 -- including 46 children -- perished. 

The peace that had fled the world had also fled Fatima, particularly in the home of Lucia dos Santos.  After the first apparition of Our Lady at the Cova da Iria, her little cousin, Jacinta, promptly broke the children's firm resolution not to tell anyone what they had seen; and thus began in earnest the sufferings the children promised to undergo for the conversion of sinners.  From this point forward, the children were hounded by inquisitors, both pious and profane, and curiosity-seekers.  But Lucia bore the added burden of persecution right at home.  Her family treated her with contempt; and her mother, who had a great horror of lying, employed every means, including corporal punishment, to make her daughter admit that she was lying.  It was hoped that the children would forget about the alleged apparitions amid the festivities of June 13th, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua.

But the children did not forget.  At noon on the feast of St. Anthony, the children were not at the festa, but at the Cova.  Lucia records in her Fourth Memoir:
As soon as Jacinta, Francisco and I had finished praying the Rosary, with a number of other people who were present, we saw once more the flash reflecting the light which was approaching (which we called lightning).  The next moment, Our Lady was there on the holmoak, exactly the same as in May.

"What do you want of me?" I asked.
"I wish you to come here on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, and to learn to read.  Later, I will tell you what I want."
Amid the rending torments of nations, heaven remembers individuals, even the least of them, down to the last detail.
I asked for the cure of a sick person.

"If he is converted, he will be cured during the year."

"I would like to ask you to take us to heaven."
"Yes.  I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon.  But you are to stay here some time longer.  Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved.  He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart."
Some time longer...The Mother of God has a gift for understatement.  Jacinta and Francisco would both leave this world within three years, but another 88 years would pass before Our Lady would come for Lucia. 
"Am I to stay here alone?"  I asked, sadly.

"No, my daughter.  Are you suffering a great deal?  Don't lose heart.  I will never forsake you.  My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God."
As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands and for the second time, she communicated to us the rays of that same immense light.  We saw ourselves in this light, as it were, immersed in God.  Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in that part of the light which rose towards heaven, and I in that which was poured out on the earth.  In front of the palm of Our Lady's right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it.  We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and seeking reparation.
In her Third Memoir, Lucia looks back on the effects of this second apparition on her and her cousins:
...Our Lady told me on June 13, 1917 that she would never forsake me, and that her Immaculate Heart would be my refuge and the way that would lead me to God.  As she spoke these words, she opened her hands, and from them streamed a light that penetrated to our inmost hearts.  I think that, on that day, the main purpose of this light was to infuse within us a special knowledge and love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, just as on the other two occasions it was intended to do, as it seems to me, with regard to God and the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.

From that day onwards, our hearts were filled with a more ardent love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  From time to time, Jacinta said to me: "The Lady said that her Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.  Don't you love that?  Her Heart is so good!  How I love it!"

In the Fourth Memoir, Lucia describes more particularly the effects of this apparition on Francisco:
...Francisco was deeply impressed by the light which, as I related in the second account, Our Lady communicated to us at the moment when she said: "My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way which will lead you to God."...

He remarked sometimes:

"These people are so happy just because you told them that Our Lady wants the Rosary said, and that you are to learn to read!  How would they feel if they only knew what she showed us in God, in her Immaculate Heart, in that great light!  But this is a secret; it must not be spoken about.  It's better that no one should know it."

But greater secrets -- and greater sufferings -- were to come.

Monday, May 29, 2017

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky

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

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

100 May 13ths Ago: The Campaign Opens

May 13, 1917 dawned upon a world in turmoil.  The fratricidal slaughter that engulfed Europe had raged for nearly three years, and had now spread over the whole globe.  One month earlier, the United States stepped into the European fray with her declaration of war on Germany.  The social and political order of the Old World was being swept away.  Two months earlier, the Czar of Russia abdicated, as his country slid toward the abyss of communism.  Nor were the horrors of 1914-1918 the worst the world would ever see.  The veterans of the War to End All War would not reach middle age before the outbreak of another and even more terrible war.  On May 13, 1917, Pope Benedict XV consecrated as archbishop the man who would steer the Barque of Peter through the bloodiest period (to that point) in human history.  As this future supreme shepherd knelt before the Pope, three shepherd children in a small plot of pasture land near Aljustrel, Portugal fell to their knees before a luminous vision over a small holm oak.

In 1941, the oldest of these three children, Lucia dos Santos -- now a Dorothean sister -- wrote under obedience in her 4th Memoir:
High up on the slope in the Cova da Iria, I was playing with Jacinta and Francisco at building a little stone wall around a clump of furze.  Suddenly we saw what seemed to be a flash of lightning.

"We'd better go home," I said to my cousins, "that's lightning; we may have a thunderstorm."
"Yes, indeed!" they answered.

We began to go down the slope, hurrying the sheep along toward the road.  We were more or less half-way down the slope, and almost level with a large holmoak tree that stood there, when we saw another flash of lightning.  We had only gone a few steps further when, there before us on a small holmoak, we beheld a Lady all dressed in white.  She was more brilliant than the sun, and radiated a light more clear and intense than a crystal glass filled with sparkling water, when the rays of the burning sun shine through it.

We stopped, astounded, before the Apparition.  We were so close, just a few feet from her, that we were bathed in the light which surrounded her, or rather, which radiated from her.  Then Our Lady spoke to us:

"Do not be afraid.  I will do you no harm."

"Where are you from"

"I am from heaven."

"What do you want of me?"

"I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the 13th day, at this same hour.  Later on, I will tell you who I am and what I want.  Afterwards, I will return here a seventh time."
The seventh time Our Lady came to the Cova da Iria was to give Lucia a private message in 1921, when she was was about to leave home to board at the Dorothean school in Vilar de Oporto.  Her bishop sent her there under an assumed name, among other reasons, to give her a chance at a normal life.  Lucia continues:
"Shall I go to heaven too?"

"Yes, you will."

"And Jacinta?"

"She will go also."

"And Francisco?"

"He will go there too, but he must say many Rosaries." 

Then I remembered to ask about two girls who had died recently.  They were friends of mine and used to come to my home to learn weaving with my eldest sister.

"Is Maria das Neves in heaven?"

"Yes, she is."  (I think she was about 16 years old.)

"And Amelia?"
"She will be in purgatory until the end of the world."  (It seems to me that she was between 18 and 20 years of age.)
If this young girl from rural Portugal, a place where the faith was still strong, had racked up enough offenses to merit purgatory until the end of time, what is to become of us in this time of weakened faith, with vastly greater opportunities for sinning and a culture that encourages us to yield to temptation rather than fight it?  Lucia continues:
"Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners?"

"Yes, we are willing."

"Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort."

As she pronounced these words, "the grace of God will be your comfort," Our Lady opened her hands for the first time, communicating to us a light so intense that, as it streamed from her hands, its rays penetrated our hearts and the innermost depths of our souls, making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in the best of mirrors.  Then, moved by an interior impulse that was also communicated to us, we fell on our knees, repeating in our hearts:

"O most Holy Trinity, I adore You!  My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament!"

After a few moments, Our Lady spoke again:

"Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war."

Then she began to rise serenely, going up towards the east, until she disappeared in the immensity of space.  The light that surrounded her seemed to open up a path before her in the firmament, and for this reason we sometimes said that we saw heaven opening.
Heaven was not idle.  The campaign had begun.

And today, May 13, 2017, the Church has confirmed the truth of another of Our Lady's promises at Fatima with the canonization of Francisco and Jacinta.  St. Jacinta is now the youngest person ever to be declared a saint based on heroic virtue.

St. Francisco and St. Jacinta, pray for us.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

By the Way...

...I just reminded myself.  Earth Day is really Lenin's birthday.  Here is the old bastard in a mugshot from 1895, looking every inch the punk kid brother of Satan.  And here is some first-rate commentary about his spiritual progeny, Ira Einhorn, the murderer who masterminded Earth Day.

Celebrate, if you must, this slithering hell-bait, the fuse that lit the explosion of destruction that was the 20th century.  As for me, I think I'll take the old internal combustion engine for a totally unnecessary trip across town in search of some white cheddar popcorn, the making of which produces greenhouse gas emissions.

Shining All the Lights for Earth Day: The Centennial Bulb

Today seems like a good day to bring back a classic post about a famous incandescent bulb in Livermore, California.  Obviously, a few elements of this post are now out of date: the socialist regime of Barack Obama, and its would-be successor, to have been run by Hillary Clinton, have now been sent packing.  Also, the Newcandescent bulb company discussed below has now apparently gone over to the LED market.  I am compelled to admit that, since this was written, the quality of LED bulbs has improved significantly; but it must be said that a big part of the improvement is the extent to which LED bulbs can now imitate the light of incandescent bulbs.  One thing that is not out of date is the Centennial Light itself which, as this re-post goes up, is still burning after 116 years.  

The Centennial Light, Livermore, California, the world's longest-burning light bulb.  This picture provides a good view of the mechanism of this lamp, as well as its beauty and careful hand-craftsmanship.  (Source.)
This light bulb hangs from the ceiling at Fire Station 6 on East Avenue in Livermore, California, where it serves as a night light over the fire trucks.  Hand-blown with a carbon filament, it was manufactured at the Shelby Electric Company in Shelby, Ohio and first installed at Livermore's fire department horse cart house on L Street in 1901.  It has been moved twice since then; since its most recent move, in 1976, it has been hooked up to its own independent power source, and has burned continuously without being turned off or going out.

Consider this.  The year this light bulb was installed was the same year that Queen Victoria died.  It was the year President William McKinley was assassinated, and Teddy Roosevelt took his place in the White House.  In 1901, Leo XIII was Pope in Rome; Winston Churchill was just beginning his extraordinary career in the House of Commons; the Panama Canal was still under construction; Douglas MacArthur was still a cadet at West Point; radio and motion pictures were still new inventions; the Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk was still two years away, and it would be another seven years before Henry Ford's Model T would begin to roll off the assembly line.  Since 1901, two world wars have ravaged the planet; most of the world's monarchies have toppled; the Soviet Union rose and fell; the Cold War raged; man took flight, first across continents and oceans, then to the moon and back; telephones, televisions, and above all computers have brought the entire world right into our homes.  Through it all, this bulb has continued to shine.   True, the Centennial Light is down to only a fraction of its original brightness; yet even its manufacturers, who prided themselves on making the best lamps in the world, could hardly have imagined how long this light's working life would continue.

Nor is the Centennial Light the only bulb possessed of extraordinary longevity.  Others have been documented as having functioned for many decades, including one that has shone since 1908.  Who knows how many other bulbs have worked for decades that nobody has documented?  Truly, the incandescent light bulb is among the most useful devices ever come up with in the history of human innovation.  

So it makes perfect sense that the current socialist administration, whose ultimate goal is the moral and material enslavement of Americans, should make war upon the incandescent bulb and try to cram vastly inferior fluorescent bulbs down our throats.  

Let's face the facts about fluorescent bulbs -- and particularly the spaghetti bulbs meant to be installed in place of incandescent ones.  Like virtually all other things liberals are always trying to force-feed us, fluorescent bulbs stink.  They take forever to reach their full brightness, and their full brightness isn't much to write home about.  They're costly. They're full of mercury, which makes them dangerous.  They're worthless in an Easy-Bake Oven.  And you can't just throw them out when they burn out, like you can incandescent bulbs.  

Fortunately, there is still a company in this country that manufactures incandescent bulbs.  America's entrepreneurial spirit is still alive and well at Newcandescent, which legally manufactures incandescent bulbs.  And they say their bulbs will last 7 years.  

I don't usually plug products on this blog, but I'm glad there's somebody still manufacturing incandescent bulbs in this country.  Still, there is one thing that really sticks in my craw about it.  Even if you are a fan of fluorescent bulbs, if you are a patriotic American and lover of liberty, you must acknowledge that greater principles are at stake than the preferability of incandescent over fluorescent.  The fact that Newcandescent had to (a) redesign incandescent bulbs to comply with new federal requirements, and (b) apply to the Department of Energy for permission to manufacture the newly designed bulbs ought to fill you with rage.     

Did you ever think we'd reach a point in this country when American citizens would have to apply for permission from the federal government to manufacture incandescent bulbs on American soil?  Was this what the Founding Fathers had in mind?  Is there some provision of the Constitution, written, perhaps, in invisible ink, that gives the feds this authority?  Was this what generations of patriots shed their blood in distant lands to protect?

It's a shame to have to admit it, but the America upon which the Centennial Light first shone 111 years ago was a much freer one than the one we live in today.  Our first order of business in this country is to straighten ourselves up as individuals, governing our passions, recovering our Christian morals and living according to right reason.   Without this, nothing else will work.  Our second order of business is to throw out the socialist bums that have seized power in this country at every level of government.  Our third order of business is to reduce the federal government to its original constitutionally mandated functions, and every other level of government to reasonable proportions in accordance with state constitutions, common sense, and the principle of subsidiarity.  And in the meantime, we should support entrepreneurial efforts like Newcandescent that prevent the useful things that improve our lives from being cast into oblivion by socialist elites.

Shining All the Lights for Earth Day: Killing the Planet with Christmas

Since I wrote this nine years ago, I am compelled to confess that the quality of LED Christmas lights -- and indeed, LED lights in general -- has improved.  Nevertheless, my points below still stand.


*     *     *

Remember in Ninotchka, when Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas are at the top of the Eiffel Tower looking out over the city lights of Paris? He asks her if it isn't a beautiful view; after agreeing that it is, she delivers the other shoe, with a perfectly straight face: But it's a wa-a-a-aste of electricity.

Now, the line in question is very funny. It's funny both because of the deadpan delivery, and because the misplaced focus of attention on electrical consumption in the face of so much beauty is absurd. Nowadays, though, you have to wonder how many people would still find this funny. Unfortunately, too many people that are being looked up to as authorities have no sense of the absurd; and, even more unfortunately, too many people who should know better are taking them seriously.

And so it is that the Australian press -- also with a perfectly straight face -- vouchsafes us a story under the following headline: Scientists Warn Christmas Lights Harm the Planet.

"CSIRO [Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation] researchers said householders should know that each bulb turned on in the name of Christmas will increase emissions of greenhouse gases," the story solemnly intones. Since Australia's electricity comes from coal, the evil of using Christmas lights to celebrate the birth of the Redeemer means an increase in "greenhouse gas emissions." Bottom line: Christianity is killing the planet.

But since the planet-destroying plebes are not willing to give up their primitive religious holidays and superstitions -- and the equally primitive desire for illumination during long winter nights -- the CSIRO has come up with helpful hints on how they can minimize their impact on our fragile ecosystem, until such time as they can be made to adopt the enlightened sterility of their betters. Timers, "energy-efficient bulbs," solar-powered lights, or "sourcing your electricity from verified green power suppliers" are all proffered as ways to avoid choking the globe on unnecessary Christmas emissions.

Well. Most people have no problem with timers, since they like to save on their electric bills, especially during tough economic times that are brought on in no small part by the meddling of the global warming people. In fact, WalMart, that citadel of white-trash consumerism and exploitation, sells timers, and even outdoor timers with light sensors, so you can have your lights come on at dusk and set them to stay on for just 2-6 hours. As for solar powered lights, there is frequently not enough sunlight to charge batteries in winter, so the net effect of solar-powered lights is likely to be little or no lights at all, which is what the global warming scaremongers are really after anyway.

And energy-efficient Christmas bulbs are the pits. Back when they used normal Christmas lights on the Idaho State Christmas Tree, you could see the Tree on the Statehouse steps all the way up Capitol Boulevard. Then the state started doling out Christmas cheer by the teaspoon, and switched to energy-efficient bulbs. The tree looks pretty in pictures, but the pictures don't convey the sad reality that you have to practically be standing underneath the tree to see it.

We live in a world that is long on violence, oppression, tyranny, hatred, and coldness, and short on kindness, gentleness, freedom, charity and warmth. It is made more so by the global warming Scrooges of the world, the new Puritans who can never rest easy as long as a spark of joy or innocent pleasure remains unextinguished anywhere on earth. If these sourpusses will not turn away from their perverted disgust with Christmas, then let them at least stop trying to drag the rest of us down into their private hell.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Harrowing of Hell (Re-Post)


I will deliver them out of the hand of death. I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy death; O hell, I will be thy bite... 
Osee (Hosea) 13:14 (Douay-Rheims translation)

Because Christ also died once for our sins, the just for the unjust: that He might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit, in which also coming He preached to those spirits that were in prison: which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water. 
1 Peter 3:18-20 (Douay-Rheims translation)

...He suffered, died and was buried.  He descended into hell...
From the Apostles' Creed

In this age of modernist obfuscation and general graying out of vivid supernatural reality, the Harrowing of Hell is probably the most ignored of the creedal doctrines.  Yet as Catholics, we are bound to believe that sin shut the gates of heaven against the souls of men; that it was only Christ's Passion and Death on the Cross that opened heaven; that until then, the souls of the Just were imprisoned; and that, after His death, Christ liberated these souls.  Perhaps one reason we do not devote more time to considering this stupendous event is because it has been obscured by the modern obsession with avoiding any and all mention of Hell: its edge has been blunted by the milquetoast English rendition of the event as "He descended to the dead."  This bland, pedestrian translation fails to confront us with the startling fact of Christ in Hell; we are not inspired to inquire further into its meaning.  It seems obvious that while His Body lies in the tomb, the Son of God is among the dead, having died on the Cross; but how can He, pure and sinless, be in Hell, and why?

First of all, what is the Hell to which Christ descends?  We think primarily of the Hell of the damned, from which there is no escape, and from whose punishments there is no reprieve.  Before the coming of Christ, sin barred the gates of heaven to men.  The souls of the Just could not get into heaven until after Jesus had sacrificed Himself to pay the penalty for our sins.  As St. Thomas Aquinas says in the Summa Thelogica:
[T]hrough Christ's Passion the human race was delivered not only from sin, but also from the debt of its penalty.... Now men were held fast by the debt of punishment in two ways: first of all for actual sin which each had committed personally: secondly, for the sin of the whole human race, which each one in his origin contracts from our first parent, as stated in Romans 5 of which sin the penalty is the death of the body as well as exclusion from glory, as is evident from Genesis 2 and 3: because God cast out man from paradise after sin, having beforehand threatened him with death should he sin.
So what happened to all the good people who lived before Jesus' time, and died without ever having the opportunity to believe in Him or receive the Sacraments?  They dwelt in a place of waiting -- variously called, among other things, the Bosom of Abraham, or the Limbo of the Fathers, or the Limbo of Hell.  There they did not suffer the torments of the damned, but they did suffer privation.  Aquinas elucidates:
After death men's souls cannot find rest save by the merit of faith, because "he that cometh to God must believe" (Hebrews 11:6). Now the first example of faith was given to men in the person of Abraham, who was the first to sever himself from the body of unbelievers, and to receive a special sign of faith: for which reason "the place of rest given to men after death is called Abraham's bosom," as Augustine declares (Gen. ad lit. xii). But the souls of the saints have not at all times had the same rest after death; because, since Christ's coming they have had complete rest through enjoying the vision of God, whereas before Christ's coming they had rest through being exempt from punishment, but their desire was not set at rest by their attaining their end. Consequently the state of the saints before Christ's coming may be considered both as regards the rest it afforded, and thus it is called Abraham's bosom, and as regards its lack of rest, and thus it is called the limbo of hell. 
Aquinas goes on to explain that the Limbo of the Fathers is not qualitatively the same as the Hell of the damned, because the damned suffer eternal torment without hope of reprieve, whereas the Just before the coming of Christ suffered no sensible torments and had hope for a release from imprisonment.  On the other hand, situationally, the Limbo of the Fathers was probably the same as the Hell of the damned:  
For those who are in hell receive diverse punishments according to the diversity of their guilt, so that those who are condemned are consigned to darker and deeper parts of hell according as they have been guilty of graver sins, and consequently the holy Fathers in whom there was the least amount of sin were consigned to a higher and less darksome part than all those who were condemned to punishment.
So, as Aquinas says
Directly Christ died His soul went down into hell, and bestowed the fruits of His Passion on the saints detained there; although they did not go out as long as Christ remained in hell, because His presence was part of the fullness of their glory.
We come to the reasons for the Harrowing of Hell, which we have already begun to touch on.  The Angelic Doctor gives three reasons why it was fitting for Christ to descend into Hell.  Firstly, to bear the penalty for sin -- namely, death of the body and descent into Hell -- in order to free us from penalty (though we are not yet delivered from the penalty of bodily death).  Secondly, to force Hell to disgorge its righteous captives.  And thirdly, to show forth His power and glory even in the domain of the devils.

This last point is worth lingering over.  Because the wills of the damned are confirmed in evil at the moment of their deaths -- just as the wills of the righteous are confirmed in goodness and charity at the moment of their deaths -- Christ did not rescue any of the damned from Hell.  In His essence, He visited only the Limbo of the Fathers; but the effects of His power reached every part of Hell.  Aquinas:

A thing is said to be in a place in two ways. First of all, through its effect, and in this way Christ descended into each of the hells, but in different manner. For going down into the hell of the lost He wrought this effect, that by descending thither He put them to shame for their unbelief and wickedness: but to them who were detained in Purgatory He gave hope of attaining to glory: while upon the holy Fathers detained in hell solely on account of original sin, He shed the light of glory everlasting.
In another way a thing is said to be in a place through its essence: and in this way Christ's soul descended only into that part of hell wherein the just were detained. so that He visited them "in place," according to His soul, whom He visited "interiorly by grace," according to His Godhead. Accordingly, while remaining in one part of hell, He wrought this effect in a measure in every part of hell, just as while suffering in one part of the earth He delivered the whole world by His Passion.
He puts it briefly in another place thus:
When Christ descended into hell, all who were in any part of hell were visited in some respect: some to their consolation and deliverance, others, namely, the lost, to their shame and confusion.
With Christ's visitation, the spoliation of Hell was complete.  A final extract from the Angelical that is worth many hours of meditation (emphasis added): 
When Christ descended into hell He delivered the saints who were there, not by leading them out at once from the confines of hell, but by enlightening them with the light of glory in hell itself.
Think of it.  Hell is the privation of God and His glory.  For the imprisoned elect who found themselves in the presence of the living God and beheld the light of His glory, Hell, in that moment, ceased to be Hell.  Hell was overthrown.  No wonder it is written in Philippians 2:10-11 "That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."

Today at Matins (Office of Readings) according to the revised Breviary, we read the following ancient, anonymous Holy Saturday sermon:

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and He has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, He has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, He who is both God and the Son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won Him the victory. At the sight of Him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
I am your God, who for your sake have become your Son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by My own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of My hands, you who were created in My image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in Me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.
For your sake I, your God, became your Son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden. See on My Face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in My image. On My back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See My hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree. I slept on the Cross and a sword pierced My side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced Me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Toward Better Bribes

Anybody who has ever tried self-help on a plumbing job, without any training or experience in plumbing, has learned the hard way that there are times when it just doesn't pay to cut corners.  My landlord, for instance, thought he could do some plumbing repair on his own over at my place.  At some point during the course of proceedings, something broke.  So he had to turn off my water.  Then he couldn't get a plumber over until the next day.  So the whole venture ended up costing him the plumber's fees, plus whatever extra they may have charged for being in a hurry, plus supplies, plus  whatever extra time it took to fix the problem that didn't previously exist, plus some compensation for my not having water at my place.  The moral here is that in the quest to avoid invoking the costly remedy from the outset, you run a serious risk of having it cost you more than if you had done the right thing from the outset.

Now United Airlines is learning the same lesson.  One suspects they lost sight of the fact that, by asking passengers to leave the plane once they had (a) paid for tickets, (b) boarded, and (c) plunked their butts into their assigned seats, they were breaching their contract with those passengers to get them where they needed to go, at the bargained-for times.  They also seem to have lost sight of the fact that flying is already a dehumanizing experience, from the airport -- where people get herded and handled like cattle -- to the plane itself -- where quarters are cramped, drinks come in thimble-sized cans, and the food (if any) is barely distinguishable from the styrofoam-and-cellophane containers it comes in.  We already hate flying and don't think too highly of airlines as it is.  All of this requires the airlines to cough up something more than a token consolation prize for a breach of contract.

And, United, that's what you should have done in this case.  Next time you find a need to kick paying passengers off an over-booked flight, offer better bribes.  The better the bribe, the more hands will go up.  If no hands go up, then it's too chintzy.  However much you have to pay to settle up with people with whom you are breaching a contract, it can't be anything like what this latest P.R. imbroglio is costing you.

And while you're at it, do something to improve the overall quality of the flying experience, instead of making your passengers just embrace the suck.


Sunday, April 09, 2017

Palm Sunday

In other parts of the world, Christians breathe a sigh of relief when they don't get bombed by Muslim extremists while attending church.  Today, 43 people at two Coptic churches in Egypt did not live to breathe that sigh of relief, thanks to two suicide bombers who set themselves off during services.  27 people died and 78 were wounded when a bomb exploded in the front row of St. George's in Tanta during the liturgy, spraying the priests with blood.  Later, at St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, 16 died and 41 were wounded, including three policemen who tried to keep the bomber out of the cathedral.  ISIS claimed responsibility for the murders.

As for me, in my well-padded, well-appointed, temperature-regulated little corner of the world, I breathe a sign of relief when I don't have gender-bending ideology shoved down my throat during the reading of the Passion.

At least I don't take my life into my hands just by attending Mass.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

LOL, Episode II

I'm noticing an online petition demanding that Melania Trump either move herself and Barron into the White House forthwith or foot the bill herself for her off-premises security.

Congratulations to the left for finally warming up to the idea of economizing on taxpayer dollars -- although, after eight years of remaining silent about the Secret Service bills the Obamas must have racked up for their constant overseas vacations, the idea is late in coming to them.

But wait: didn't Donald Trump waive his presidential salary?  That's $400K a year, and Trump gets up at 5 every morning and does actual WORK.  I never heard that Barack Obama waived his presidential salary, and he spent most of his time vacationing, playing golf, and taking vacations from vacationing and playing golf.  So over the course of eight years, we the taxpayers paid him $3.2 million just to destroy the country and screw around.  And that doesn't even count the cost of running Air Force One back and forth between D.C. and Hawaii, Secret Service details, military escorts, Michelle's entourage and (ugly) wardrobe and every other damn thing, about which liberals were entirely mum.

The left continues to flail.