Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: Remember When

Herewith the annual year in review.  As always, thanks to Wikipedia for refreshing my memory about the year's highlights.  I trust my friends overseas will again be understanding about my tendency to concentrate on local events.


4: Murder spree, Las Vegas, Nevada: a shooter murders a security officer at the federal courthouse and wounds a marshall before being shot dead.  Also: Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, opens to the public.
7: Murder spree, St. Louis, Missouri: an employee at the ABB Power plant opens fire, killing three and wounding five before turning the gun on himself.
8-9: Proving once again that Islam is the Religion of Peace, Muslims firebomb four churches in Malaysia over the use by non-Muslims of the word "Allah."
12: Haiti is stricken by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, followed by numerous powerful aftershocks.  The city of Port-au-Prince is devastated.  Among the casualties is the Roman Catholic archbishop of Port-au-Prince.
13: Pope Benedict meets with and forgives the woman who attacked him at Midnight Mass on Christmas.
17: The 2nd Annual Islamic Solidarity Games, scheduled to be held in Iran in April, are called off because of an argument between the Arab states and Iran over the use of the term "Persian Gulf."
18: Mehmet Ali Ağca, who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981, is released from prison, thereby making the world a much safer place.
19: Republican Scott Brown wins Teddy Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachussetts.
27: North and South Korea exchange artillery fire near the Northern Limit Line.
30: Several Americans, including some Idahoans, are arrested in Haiti on charges stemming from an alleged attempt to smuggle children out of the country.

Deaths: Mary Daly (radical feminist professor); Miep Gies (hid Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis); Teddy Pendergrass; Jean Simmons; Ralph McInerny (Catholic philosopher, author of Fr. Dowling mysteries); J.D. Salinger; Zelda Rubinstein (small clairvoyant in Poltergeist movies); Pernell Roberts (Adam Cartwright in Bonanza).


5: Boa Sr, the last member of the Bo tribe of the Andaman Islands, which had survived for 65,000 years, dies.  She was approximately 85.
11: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Maximum Pipsqueak of Iran, announces that that country is now a nuclear state.  Liberals turn over in bed.
12: Murder spree, Huntsville, Alabama: a female shooter at the University of Alabama is taken into custody after killing three and wounding three.  Also: a Georgian luger is killed during a training run just before the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
18: A man flying a private airplane deliberately crashed into a building containing IRS offices, killing himself and an IRS manager, and injuring 13 others. 
19: Senior Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh is assassinated in Dubai.
26: A magnitude 7.0 earthquake strikes off the coast of Japan's Ryukyu Island.
27: A magnitude 8.8 earthquake strikes off the coast of central Chile.

Deaths: Charles Wilson (subject of Charlie Wilson's War); Rep. John Murtha (D.-Penn.); Frances Reid (matriarch on Days of Our Lives); Gen. Alexander Haig; Andrew Koenig (actor, son of Walter Koenig).


1:  Hundreds are feared dead in a mammoth landslide in the Ugandan district of Bududa.
4: Mexico City passes a law permitting same-sex "marriages."
7: Muslims attack and murder hundreds of Christian villagers with machetes in Dogo-Nahawa, Nigeria.
11: All hell breaks loose in Boulder, Colorado, when a child is denied enrollment in a Catholic school because her parents are lesbians.
20: Pope Benedict XVI publishes a letter to the Catholics of Ireland, containing scathing denunciations of priest sex abusers and the bishops that failed to deal with them, and announcing a forthcoming apostolic visitation.
26: A South Korean warship explodes and sinks in the Yellow Sea.  58 of the 104 men on board are rescued; the cause is determined to be a North Korean torpedo.
28: Underground water floods part of the Wangjialing coal mine in Shanxi Province, China, trapping 153 miners.

Deaths: Corey Haim; Winston Spencer Churchill (grandson of Sir Winston Churchill); Jaime Escalante (math teacher, subject of Stand and Deliver); Robert Culp; Fess Parker.


9: Justice John Paul Stevens announces his forthcoming retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court.
10: Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and numerous high-level officials of the Polish government perish in a plane crash in Smolensk Oblast, Russia.
14: Nearly 1,200 people are killed and over ten thousand injured in a series of severe earthquakes in Qinghai Province, China. 
15: The explosive eruption of an Icelandic volcano with an unpronounceable name interrupts air traffic all over Europe.
19: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects demands that Israel stop building in east Jerusalem.
22: An explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico results in the largest off-shore oil spill in U.S. history.
23: A strict immigration bill is signed into law in Arizona; critics who have never read the law unleash a firestorm of controversy.
25: The British Foreign Office apologizes after Sunday Telegraph publishes the contents of a government document calling for the Pope's forthcoming visit to England to be celebrated by, among other things, releasing a Benedict-brand condom, opening an abortion mill, and "blessing" a same-sex "marriage."

Deaths: John Forsythe; Wilma Mankiller; Benjamin Hooks (former NAACP director); Dixie Carter.


1: Two alert street vendors discover a car bomb in Times Square in New York City; the car bomb is deactivated before it can detonate.
6: The U.K. general election results in a hung parliament, with the Conservative Party winning the most seats but not enough to command an overall majority.  As a result of the election, Labour P.M. Gordon Brown will resign, the Queen will invite Conservative leader David Cameron to form a new Government, and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will form a coalition.
10: Solicitor General Elena Kagan, another leftist, is nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.
13: Pope Benedict XVI celebrates an open-air Mass at the shrine of Fatima; half a million pilgrims attend.
22: Jordan Romero, age 13, becomes the youngest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
28: A confrontation begins between the Israeli navy and a flotilla of protesters allegedly bringing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip in violation of an Israeli blockade.

Deaths: Dennis Hopper; Gary Coleman; Art Linkletter; Lena Horne; Lynn Redgrave.


2: Killing spree, Cumbria, England: a taxi driver shoots 12 people to death and wounds 25 more before turning the gun on himself. Also: the president of Lombardy offers 4,500 euros to pregnant women not to have abortions.
3: Bishop Luigi Padovese, O.F.M.Cap., vicar apostolic of Anatolia in Turkey, is stabbed to death by his driver, who shouts "Allahu akbar!" during the murder.
16: "Touchdown Jesus," an ugly six-story statue of Jesus in Monroe, Ohio, is struck by lightning and burned to the ground.
19: Killing spree, San Bernardino, California: a man enters a Del Taco restaurant, shoots his stepdaughter and her family, killing her husband and six-year-old son,  then turns the gun on himself.
23: After telling Rolling Stone magazine exactly what he thought about senior American officials, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of American forces in Afghanistan, is summoned home and submits his resignation.
29: Iceland legalizes same-sex "marriage."

Deaths: Sen. Robert Byrd (D.-W.Va.); Edith Shain (nurse in famous Times Square V-J Day photo); Jimmy Dean; Rue McClanahan; Dorothy DeBorba (one of the early Little Rascals).


1: The 130-foot-tall statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro is unveiled after a four-month restoration.
8: A federal district judge in Massachusetts rules that a federal ban on gay "marriage" is unconstitutional.
9: Pope Benedict appoints Archbishop Velasio de Paolis to head the scandal-ridden Legion of Christ. 
11: Colton Harris-Moore, the so-called "Barefoot Bandit," is captured in the Bahamas.
12: Switzerland refuses to extradite the creepy director Roman Polanski for his long-overdue sentencing for sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
15: The Vatican releases a document declaring the extreme gravity of the sin of attempting to ordain women.
16: Maria Jepson, female Lutheran bishop, steps down due to her handling of a sex abuse case.
17: The exploration of a shipwreck off the coast of Finland yields drinkable bottles of champagne and beer from the early 19th century.
26: Monsoon rains precipitate massive floods in Pakistan, in which nearly 1,800 people will perish and roughly $43 billion in property will be destroyed.
31: Chelsea Clinton gets married, giving her new husband what may be the most annoying set of in-laws that any bridegroom was ever punished with.

Deaths: Maury Chaykin (A Nero Wolfe Mystery);  Daniel Schorr; George Steinbrenner; Ilene Woods (the voice of Cinderella in the Disney movie of the same name).


4: A federal district judge for the Northern District of California strikes down Proposition 8, which banned gay "marriage" in California.
14: Murder spree, Buffalo, New York: four people are killed and four more are wounded at the City Grill bar and restaurant.  The shooter escapes.
23: A federal district judge for the District of Columbia temporarily halts federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, after President Obama lifted the restrictions placed on it by President Bush in 2001.
28: Gottfried Cardinal Danneels, former Archbishop of the Belgian Diocese of Mechelen-Brussells,  and not known for his conservatism, is revealed to have advised a victim of clerical sex abuse to keep quiet about the abuse until after the retirement of the alleged perpetrator, another bishop.  
Deaths: Jack Horkheimer (the Star Gazer, formerly Star Hustler); James J. Kilpatrick; Dan Rostenkowski; Sen. Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska); Patricia Neal.


1: Swedish prosecutors re-open rape charges against Julian Assange, the creepy founder of Wikileaks.
4: A 7.1 magnitude earthquake strikes New Zealand's South Island, 25 miles west of Christchurch.
7: The state of New York denies parole to Mark David Chapman, murderer of former Beatle John Lennon.  Also: strikes begin in France to protest government plans to raise the age of retirement for public pensions.
9: A natural gas pipeline explodes in a residential neighborhood in San Bruno, California, a suburb of San Francisco, killing eight and destroying 38 homes.  Also: murder spree, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: a female shooter kills two and wounds a third at the Kraft cookie plant before being captured.  The shooter was an employee who had just been suspended from her job.
11: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta receives the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during the War in Afghanistan. 
16: A powerful storm, including a tornado, strikes New York City, killing one and leaving 25,000 residents without power.  Also: Pope Benedict begins his visit to the U.K.
19: Pope Benedict beatifies John Cardinal Newman.
23: Convicted murderess Teresa Lewis is executed, the first woman executed in the commonwealth of Virginia since 1912.
28: Murder spree, Boston, Massachusetts: an unknown shooter murders four and wounds a fifth in a residential neighborhood.
29: Astronomers discover an extrasolar planet that may be capable of supporting life revolving around Gliese  581 g, a red dwarf star 20 light years away.

Deaths: Stephen J. Cannell (television producer, The Rockford Files, The A-Team); Joseph Sobran; Tony Curtis; Gloria Stuart (aged Rose in Titanic); Olga C. Nardone (one of the last surviving Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz); Harold Gould.


4: Murder spree, Gainsville, Florida: man with history of mental illness kills his father, then drives through the city of Gainsville, shooting and wounding five people before turning the gun on himself. 
6: U.S. Army Green Beret Robert James Miller posthumously receives the Congressional Medal of Honor for his acts during the War in Afghanistan.
8: Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Also: Scottish aid worker Linda Norgrove, who had been kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan in September, is killed during an American rescue attempt.
13: 33 miners who had been trapped underground for 69 days in Chile's Atacama Desert, are rescued alive.
17: Pope Benedict canonizes six new saints, including St. Mary MacKillop, Australia's first saint.
19: Televangelist Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral Ministries files for bankruptcy.
21: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirm that a cholera outbreak has begun in Haiti.
22: Wikileaks publishes secret American military records pertaining to the war in Iraq, purporting to show that American military commanders permitted torture and the killing of civilians in Iraq.
25: A 7.7 magnitude earthquake strikes off the western coast of Sumatra, touching off a tsunami that resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands rendered homeless.
29: North Korea fires shots over the border at South Korean military units at Kwacheon.  Also: packages containing plastic explosives are found on two cargo planes en route to the U.S. from Yemen.

Deaths: James MacArthur (Danno in Hawaii Five-O); James Wall (Mr. Baxter on Captain Kangaroo); Bob Guccione; Tom Bosley; Barbara Billingsley; Simon MacCorkindale; Solomon Burke; Dame Joan Sutherland; Sir Norman Wisdom (Last of the Summer Wine).


1:  Muslim terrorists attack Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad, murdering dozens of worshipers, including two priests.
2: U.S. midterm elections: Republicans sweep the House of Representatives and gain seats in the Senate.  Uncorrected by experience, the people of California give Jerry Brown a third term in the Governor's Mansion.
3: The city of San Francisco bars McDonald's from giving away toys with unhealthy food.
5: MSNBC suspends ueber-liberal commentator Keith Olbermann for contributing to the campaigns of three Democrat candidates.
16: In a stunning upset, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan is elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
23: North and South Korean forces exchange artillery fire after North Korea fires on Yeonpyeong Island.
24: Former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay is convicted of money laundering and conspiracy in relation to the 2002 Texas gubernatorial election.
27: A Somali-born teenager is caught plotting a bomb attack on a Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon.
28: The U.S. Navy and the South Korean navy hold exercises west of the Korean Peninsula.  Also: Wikileaks begins the release of more than a quarter of a million American diplomatic cables, 40% of which are classified as "confidential" and 6% as "secret."

Deaths: Stephen J. Solarz; Leslie Nielsen; Dino de Laurentiis; Jill Clayburgh.


2: The U.S. House of Representatives votes to censure Charlie Rangel (D.-N.Y.) over an assortment of ethics violations.
6: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange turns himself in to Scotland Yard on a warrant stemming from allegations of sex crimes in Sweden.
10: Mark Madoff, the son of Bernie Madoff, is found dead in his apartment, having apparently committed suicide.
13: A U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of Virginia strikes down Obamacare.
15: The mummified head of King Henry IV of France, despoiled during the French Revolution in 1793, is discovered in a private garage.
18: Congress repeals "don't ask, don't tell."  The bill will be signed into law on December 22nd.
21: For the first time since 1638, and for only the second time since the birth of Christ, a total lunar eclipse coincides with the winter solstice.
24: Muslim terrorists set off an explosion near the altar of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Manila, Mindanao, the Philippines, during Christmas Eve Mass.  Several people, including the priest, were injured, and the roof was blown off.
25: Muslim terrorists attack several churches in Nigeria, killing at least 14 people. 
28: Israeli archaeologists announce the discovery of 400,000-year-old human teeth in a cave east of Tel Aviv, thus challenging the theory that the human race originated in Africa.

Deaths: Teena Marie; Steve Landesberg (Dietrich on Barney Miller); Captain Beefheart; Blake Edwards; Elizabeth Edwards; Agathe von Trapp (one of the Trapp Family Singers that inspired The Sound of Music).

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How We Hate Our Children

I suspect that when we read Oliver Twist or David Copperfield or Nicholas Nickelby, we are tempted to give ourselves virtuous airs over how far advanced we are as a society.  After all, there are no Dickensian workhouses presided over by overfed tyrants in this country, or festering cesspools of tuberculosis, thin gruel and regular scourges passing as boarding schools.  Armies of grime-covered, emaciated children do not rise before dawn to file into textile mills, and couples with ten or 15 children are not forced to crowd into one narrow, windowless room in a rat-infested tenement in a broken-down slum.  

Dickens paints a picture of a world dominated by naked brutality.  But we today sigh and cluck and shake our heads at it from the midst of a world in which brutality reigns even more supremely, and is only papered over with sentimentality.  Witness these gushing felicitations over the success of Elton John and his homosexual partner, David Furnish, in securing an infant for themselves:
We are beyond thrilled Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish were able to fulfill their dream of having a child, and on Christmas Day no less! But we can't help wonder who their "mystery" egg donor was, and which sperm was used to create little Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John.

Technically Zachary has two dads and two moms -- it was reported yesterday that sources at the surrogacy center in Encino, CA confirmed Elton and David used an egg donor separate other than the surrogate mother. So was a separate surrogate used to protect the egg donor's identity? Or did Elton and David find a willing donor with all the right genes who was willing to have her eggs harvested but NOT willing to carry the child?

And who did the sperm come from? Was it Elton's, David's, or was another "mystery" donor thrown into the mix? There's no denying Sir John would be very particular about his future son's genes, and with unlimited money and resources at his disposal he can definitely afford to dip into the very best gene pools.

Perhaps time will tell who the biological parents really are, but until then we wish the John-Furnish family much love and happiness as they begin this new journey together.

We can't wait to see photos of Elton's brand new Blue Jean Baby!
How many things can you find wrong with this picture?

1. Two Gay Men Playing House.  A marriage consists in one man and one woman.  All the laws, constitutional amendments and treaties in the world cannot change this.   A homosexual relationship is made to be walked away from, no matter the veneer of legality. The life of a child brought into an arrangement such as that between Elton John and David Furnish is therefore a house of cards, just like that of a child born to a man and a woman not married to each other.  The desire to bring a child into such a situation is based on pure selfishness.

2. Uncertain Parentage.  We are advised that "technically Zachary has two dads and two moms -- it was reported yesterday that sources at the surrogacy center in Encino, CA confirmed Elton and David used an egg donor separate other than the surrogate mother....And who did the sperm come from? Was it Elton's, David's, or was another 'mystery' donor thrown into the mix?"  Will this uncertainty regarding lineage tend to enhance or detract from the child's sense of security?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church at 2376 says:
Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses' "right to become a father and a mother only through each other."
3. The Manufacture of Designer Children.  The author of the above-quoted cloying eulogy gives it away in the first paragraph.  Note the phraseology: "But we can't help wonder who their 'mystery' egg donor was, and which sperm was used to create little Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John. And then again in the third:  "There's no denying Sir John would be very particular about his future son's genes, and with unlimited money and resources at his disposal he can definitely afford to dip into the very best gene pools."  So what happens when the child fails to measure up?  How many earlier attempts at "creating" a designer kid failed to measure up before this one was born, and what happened to them?  The Victor Frankensteins of the world no longer need to frequent morgues and charnel-houses  and get up to their elbows in filth and gore in pursuit of their disreputable aims; now they have nice, clean, sterile "surrogacy centers" to work in, with white lab coats, masks, microscopes and rubber gloves to separate them from the horror. 

4. Last But Not Least: No Proper Spiritual Upbringing for the Boy.  Suppose Elton and David take the child to church and get him a Bible.  How will the boy square what he hears in church and reads in the Bible with what he sees at home?   How will his conscience ever be properly formed?  How will he ever learn God's will for his life?  If he finds it out, what will motivate him to do it? Is it unlikely that the boy is to be groomed to follow in his "fathers'" "lifestyle choices"?  (Incidentally, was a male child part of the designer package?)

I think it's a safe bet we have never hated our children more than we do at this particular moment in history, or else we could not look upon such a spectacle as the Elton John affair with equanimity, much less beaming pride.  But we have been hardened and calloused for this moment over many years of licentiousness and sensuality.  We have given ourselves over to the pleasures of the flesh for so long that the only thing that matters to us now is our precious selves.  So when we're not aborting our children or contracepting them out of existence, we're overindulging them, or parking them in front of video games or television so we don't have to bother with them, or turning them over to the government to take care of, or sexualizing them at an early age, or -- as in this case -- treating them as commodities to be bought and sold and custom-made to suit our whims. The sentimentality with which we regard children in this society is nothing more than a cover for brutality of the worst kind.  

The Holy Father has also noticed the dire straits of children in our times.  What better way to close than with the following, from his December 20th address to the Roman Curia (emphases added):
We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin [of sexual abuse] committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society. The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times. From Bishops of developing countries I hear again and again how sexual tourism threatens an entire generation and damages its freedom and its human dignity. The Book of Revelation includes among the great sins of Babylon – the symbol of the world’s great irreligious cities – the fact that it trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities (cf. Rev 18:13). In this context, the problem of drugs also rears its head, and with increasing force extends its octopus tentacles around the entire world – an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dance Macabre

If you stood all of Hugh Hefner's exes in a line, one after the other, they would form a queue that would probably wrap around the earth's equator three or four times.  Having previously discarded two wives and a legion of concubines -- Hef has often economized by carrying on with multiple women at once -- the 84-year-old playgeezer has offered his soiled hand to Crystal Harris, a girl 60 years his junior.  And she, already foolish enough to have bared herself in Hefner's mag, is apparently compounding her foolishness by agreeing to marry this hound, who is old enough to be her great-grandfather.

Hey Hef: you can rob every cradle within a 100-mile radius of the Playboy Mansion, but: you're still going to die. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

O Magnum Mysterium


O great mystery and admirable sacrament, that animals should see the Lord born and lying in a manger. O blessed Virgin, whose very viscera were worthy to bear the Lord Jesus Christ! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

No Longer Suffering?

On Thursday evening, local police officers went to an apartment to serve a felony warrant.  Having determined from the neighbors that the fugitive was there, they went up and started to enter the apartment.  Someone inside opened fire on the police, hitting one officer in the head.  The police returned fire, got the injured officer out of harm's way, and summoned SWAT and negotiators.  After several hours of failed attempts to make contact with the shooter, the police sent a bomb squad robot with a camera into the apartment.  The shooter lay on the floor, dead of what at this writing appears to have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The officer who received a bullet in the head survived, and is even reported to be conscious and alert.  The dead shooter,  Patrick Green, was wanted for failing to appear at his sentencing on a felony possession charge. The media have interviewed a member of his family who paints a picture of drug abuse and jail time.  The very description of her relationship to him -- her stepbrother is the shooter's father, making her his "aunt" -- hints at a broken home with tenuous family ties that no doubt set the stage for this dissipated life.  "He just had trouble living life on life's terms," she said.

But what really captures the attention is the following, casually tossed out, almost as an afterthought (emphasis added):
She gives her thoughts and prayers to the officer that was shot, and even though she's grateful that Patrick is no longer suffering, she calls the events of Thursday night - a tragedy.
This is an incredible statement.  After a life of drug abuse, criminality, and pretty much doing as he pleased ("trouble living life on life's terms"), capped off with an attempt to murder the police officers who came to pick him up after his failure to appear on a felony charge, and then ended violently at his own hand, what rational basis is there to assume that Patrick is no longer suffering?  What must one believe in order to be able to arrive at such a conclusion?  What must the reporter believe in order to receive and pass on that conclusion so casually?  What must be the state of a society in which such a statement raises no eyebrows?

One certainly hopes and prays for some miracle of mercy for this man, however poor his outlook appears to outsiders: Christ shed His Blood to save him, too.  But salvation requires our cooperation.  What, then, must the aunt believe in order to take it for granted that Patrick Green's suffering is at an end?  It must be one of two things.  Either she believes that there is no  immortal soul, and no afterlife, and consequently, no heaven and therefore no God -- in which case, to what is she directing her prayers for the officer who was shot? -- or, she must believe in universal salvation, where we all get hoisted up to heaven and plunked down at God's right hand, regardless of what we have done and how we have lived.  In that case, nothing we do matters; and if nothing we do matters, then we ourselves do not matter.  Therefore, it was pointless for Christ to shed His Blood for our salvation, since we were never worth it, even in His eyes.  Moreover, a moral order is pointless -- and is not license the true purpose of a belief in universal salvation? 

But how false is a hope that leads us to count on a one-way, non-stop ticket to heaven at the end of a dissolute life.  On the contrary: we will die as we have lived.  We have no right to presume otherwise.  

We must pray for the soul of Patrick Green, who has now been stripped of all delusions, and pray that if he is suffering, it is, by some miracle, the expiating suffering of the saved and thankful. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Neither O.P.L. nor T.O.P. Be, But Straight O.P. -- See?

See the unfortunate child in the picture?  She is being fed a spoonful of cod liver oil.  Notice the expression on the face of the kid in the background, who appears to be next in line for the treatment.  I feel like that sometimes.  Now, if you are more observant than I am (it took me six months to realize I had a sliding pocket door at one end of my kitchen), you will have noticed that the identifying information above my profile picture (the chimpanzee at the typewriter) has changed.  Whereas before, it said "Anita Moore, O.P.L., Esq.," it now says "Miss Anita Moore, O.P., Esq."  This is because I have just had a cod liver oil moment.

St. Dominic founded the Dominican Order to preach, so the Order is officially known as the Order of Preachers (Ordo Praedicatorum in Latin).  Dominican friars (the First Order) and nuns (the Second Order) are identified by the letters "O.P." after their names (Ordinaris Praedicatorum, "of the Order of Preachers").  Dominican laity (the Third Order, or tertiaries) have hitherto been identified by the letters O.P.L. (Ordinaris Praedicatorum Laici) or T.O.P. (Third Order Preachers.)  T.O.P. is really the  more accurate designation, since the Third Order includes some congregations of religious sisters and even some deacons, priests and bishops who are not friars (St. Louis de Montfort and Ven. Pius XII, for example, were Dominican tertiaries).  

The reason friars are called the First Order, nuns the Second Order, and laity-plus the Third Order, is because these designations denote the chronological order in which these branches of the Order of Preachers came into existence.  St. Dominic started with friars.  Then came Dominican nuns.  Then came the tertiaries.  That's it!  It's as simple as that.  It has nothing to do with who's better, who's holier, who's more valuable or who ranks whom.  But there are those who somehow got their britches in a twist over the idea  that these designations pointed to a sort of caste system within the Order, pursuant to which the "lower" orders were being oppressed, kept down, marginalized, etc. etc. etc. by the "higher" ones.  Undeterred by the non-existence of such a caste system, the britches-in-a-twist crowd has not been idle.

Fast forward to a few years ago, when an international meeting of Dominican laity resolved on the use by the laity of the designation "O.P.," which had hitherto been reserved for priests and religious.  This was approved by the Master of the Order.  A petition to the General Chapter in Rome to revert to "O.P.L." has now failed to achieve the desired result.

Hence my cod liver oil moment.  I am obliged to abandon "O.P.L." in favor "O.P.,"  affixing the title "Miss" or "Dr." to my name in order to show that I am a layman and not a religious.   I am obliged, I repeat, to identify myself as a Dominican tertiary in this manner; but since this is not a doctrinal matter, I see no reason why a record should not be made of why this is a lousy idea, just as stare decisis is no reason why an appellate court's ruling should not also include dissenting opinions (which it frequently does).  So: reasons why this is a lousy idea:

-- It creates more ambiguities than it resolves.  How, for example, could you tell whether "Fr. John Smith, O.P." was a member of the First Order or a member of the Third Order?  "Fr. John Smith, T.O.P." versus "Fr. John Smith, O.P." would resolve that issue quite nicely.  Further, how would calling myself "Dr. Anita Moore, O.P." distinguish me as laity, particularly in an academic setting, when there are plenty of religious who may also be entitled to use the title "Dr."?

-- The Order of Preachers was founded to preach the truth.  Veritas ("truth") is a motto of the Order.  The reasons for making this change are not based on reality, since the caste system which this innovation is meant to attack does not exist.  This scheme is therefore an assault on the truth and a subversion of the Order's whole reason for being.

-- Not one inch should ever be conceded to the liberals.  Concessions to liberals are bad enough in themselves.  But by giving in here to the liberals, the Order is passing up an opportunity to teach the truth about the First, Second and Third Orders.  This is most un-Dominican.

Ah well.  Causa finita est, at least for the time being.  None of this changes anything.  Still, one of the things that does not change, even after this little victory for the liberals, is the fact that it is they who ought to have to swallow the cod liver oil.              

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Remember Pearl Harbor

On the 69th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, I would like to draw attention to a martyr of charity who perished aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma.
Fr. Aloysius Schmitt was serving his first tour of sea duty on board the U.S.S. Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It was three days after his 32nd birthday. He had just finished morning Mass on board ship when the Japanese attack began. Fr. Schmitt went to sick bay to minister to the wounded and dying. gives the following moving account of what happened next:
When the Oklahoma was struck and water poured into her hold, the ship began to list and roll over. Many men were trapped. Schmitt found his way -- with other crew members -- to a compartment where only a small porthole provided enough space to escape.

Chaplain Schmitt helped other men, one by one, to crawl to safety. When it became his turn, the chaplain tried to get through the small opening. As he struggled to exit through the porthole, he became aware that others had come into the compartment from which he was trying to escape. As he realized that the water was rising rapidly and that escape would soon be impossible, he insisted on being pushed back through the hole so that he could help others who could get through the opening more easily. Accounts from eyewitnesses that have been published in the Arizona Memorial newsletter relate that the men protested, saying that he would never get out alive, but he insisted, "Please let go of me, and may God bless you all."
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10:11

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Dominicans Make the Best Vocations Videos

You may remember last winter's charming video of the Dominican nuns of Summit, New Jersey sledding.  Now the Irish Dominican brothers of Dublin have gotten into the act.  H/T to Mac at Mulier Fortis, who has expressed a wish that this new one go viral.  I herewith undertake to do my bit.  (By the way, Mac is renewing her private vows today, so say a Hail Mary for her.)

Is God calling you to the religious life, or to a third order? Join the Order of Preachers.   No pharisaical gloom here.  Party like only the Dominicans can.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Atheist BULLboard: Free Speech?

In a sophomoric attempt to be provocative, and proving once again that a fool and his money are soon parted, something called American Atheists spent 20 large to put up the following billboard near the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jersey:

One of the questions before the house is: are these people champions of free speech?  Indeed, is this a legitimate use of the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment?  Some brief observations:

-- Error does not have a right to be heard. Persons who promulgate errors do not have a right for their errors to be heard. A right of one person to be heard necessarily entails an obligation on the part of the rest of us to listen. Who wants to be forced to listen?

-- If you take the position that the public airing of errors ought to be tolerated because "who is to decide what is true and what is false?", then aren't you really saying that truth is unknowable? If you are Catholic and hold this view, how do you square it with your faith?

-- The idea that there is some benefit to the publication of error deserves more careful scrutiny than it is given. There is no basis to assume that an error will always be recognized as such once it sees the light of day, or that its folly will be obvious to everyone: its folly is clearly not seen by some, or else there would be no one who would want to preach it. True, an error publicly displayed and publicly contradicted is better than a public error that goes unchallenged; but better than either is an error that is not made public in the first place. St. John Chrysostom certainly thought so: he went so far as to say that heretics ought to be smitten across the face, and made to fear the consequences of declaring their false doctrines in public.

-- There is such a thing as hell.  How many people's journey there began because, in the name of tolerance, they were exposed to pernicious ideas?  Could we tolerate the preaching of errors -- and blasphemous ones at that -- if we took seriously the existence of hell, and the irremediable evil of damnation?  If we stopped to imagine the horror of a soul's first seconds in hell, and its realization that there is no escape, and no reprieve for all eternity -- could we bear the thought of even one person's eternal ruin?

Forty years ago, William F. Buckley, Jr. gave an interview to Playboy magazine which was later published in his excellent anthology Inveighing We Will Go.  Some of his thoughts from this interview are pertinent:
Society has three sanctions available for dealing with dissenters of this kind [Black Panthers, the KKK].  There is the whole family of social sanctions; if they don't work, we then have legal sanctions; if the legal sanctions don't work, we are forced to use military sanctions.  As an example of the social sanctions, I give you what has happened to Gerald L. K. Smith, the fierce anti-Semite.  Would Smith be invited to join the sponsoring group of the Lincoln Center?  If he gave a $1,000 contribution to the President's Club, would he be admitted as a member?  No.  Gerald L. K. Smith has been effectively isolated in America, and I'm glad that he has been.  After such an experience as we have seen in the twentieth century of what happens -- or what can happen -- when people call for genocidal persecutions of other people, we have got to use whatever is the minimal resource available to society to keep that sort of thing from growing....I would like to see people like Bobby Seale and Eldridge Cleaver [Black Panthers and convicted felons] treated at least as badly as Gerald L. K. Smith has been.  But no: they get applauded, they get invited to college campuses, they get listened to attentively on radio and on television -- they are invited to Leonard Bernstein's salons -- all of which makes rather glamorous a position that, in my judgment, ought to be execrated.
...For as long as that kind of thing happens, you encourage people to consider as tenable a position that in my judgment ought to be universally rejected as untenable.  The whole idea of civilization is little by little to discard certain points of view as uncivilized; it is impossible to discover truths without discovering their opposites are error.  In a John Stuart Mill-type society -- in which any view, for so long as it is held by so much as a single person, is considered as not yet confuted -- you have total intellectual and social anarchy. 
At this point, Playboy asks Buckley if the ventilation of these uncivilized points of view might not serve the cause of exposing their untenability and discrediting their adherents.  Buckley is quick to point out the disparity between the abstract appeal of an argument and its real-life application: 
I acknowledge the abstract appeal of the argument, but I remind you that it can be used as an argument for evangelizing people in Nazism, racism or cannibalism, in order to fortify one's opposition to such doctrines.  The trouble is that false doctrines do appeal to people.  In my judgment, it would be a better world where nobody advocated tyranny; better than a world in which tyranny is advocated as an academic exercise intended to fortify the heroic little antibodies to tyranny.
Playboy asks: what is the harm in allowing a doctrine to be preached whose evils are apparent?  Buckley points out the road that we set ourselves on once we start tolerating the promulgation of error:
What is apparent to one man is not necessarily apparent to the majority.  Hitler came to power democratically.  It's a nineteenth-century myth to confide totally in the notion that the people won't be attracted to the wrong guy.  George Wallace [the segregationist 45th governor of Alabama] not Nixon or Humphrey, got the highest TV ratings.  Take, once more, the Panthers.  There are, I am sure, hundreds of thousands of Americans who would like to hear a speech by Eldridge Cleaver.  One reason they would like to do so is the excitement.  Another is that they like to show off.  People like to show their audacity, their cavalier toleration of iconoclasm....I contend that it is a responsibility of the intellectual community to anticipate Dachau rather than to deplore it.  The primary responsibility of people who fancy themselves morally sophisticated is to do what they can to exhibit their impatience with those who are prepared to welcome the assassination of Bobby Kennedy because that meant one less pig.  Their failure to do that is, in my judgment, a sign of moral disintegration.  If you have moral disintegration, you don't have left a case against Dachau.  If you don't have that, what do you have?  Make love not war?  Why?
Why indeed?  The question whether, in the name of free speech, we really owe dissenters like American Atheists a public forum is one that deserves, not a knee-jerk reaction, but serious consideration. 

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Stanton Parish Rines, Jr., R.I.P.

Of your charity, please stop and pray for the repose of the soul of Stanton P. Rines, who died this week of complications from diabetes.  Stan was a defense lawyer whom I worked with in the public defender's office in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, when I first started practicing.  The defense bar received word of his death this morning.

Although I had not seen Stan Rines for several years, I have been thinking about him all day, since receiving the news of his death. I can't say I was surprised, because he was not in the best of health even when I knew him; but there is still the shock of realization that comes even when the end is not unexpected.

When I was an infant in the law, Stan handed me an obscene live conduct case: the client, age 73, dropped his drawers in the post office on the 4th of July and...well, allegedly did some stuff one is not supposed to do in the post office or any other public place. Stan said, with a twinkle in his eye, that it would be better for this guy to be represented by a fresh young thing than to have one dirty old man representing another dirty old man. But whatever dirt Stan might have had on him, it was not an essential part of his makeup. He was kind and gentlemanlike, and generous. I never detected any meanness or pettiness in him; he certainly cut other people, even adversaries, a lot more slack than I was willing to do. That, I think, is because he was knocked around enough in the school of life to realize where his own failings were; whatever lessons in humility he had received, they were not wasted on him.

Stan was a great sailor, and loved being out on his boat.  He gave me one of the best days of my life when I was living in Coeur d'Alene, and that was the day he took me and a couple others out sailing. That was the first time I'd ever experienced the silent speed of a sailboat. Stan was pretty agile and resourceful on the boat, even with his mangled limbs, the product of injuries he had sustained in an accident some years earlier. We spent the whole day sailing or motoring on Lake Pend'Oreille, visiting and enjoying the view and the blue water and the weather, and then went back to Bayview for dinner. I never wanted that day to end. Yet, after all that, Stan was disappointed that he could not show his guests an even better time: he was actually apologetic that there wasn't enough wind to cut the motor and sail the whole day!

Besides all of this, Stan was one hell of a lawyer. It is said of him that he once got a guy off a possession charge by arguing to the jury that if he'd have known he had the dope on him, he'd have used it. If that story is not ought to be.

Stan will be missed. Requiescat in pace.

Monday, November 01, 2010

It's Better in Latin

Concerning a bilingual (English/Spanish) Mass like the one we had for All Saints' tonight, a couple of observations:

-- About ten Spanish-speaking parishioners showed up to the bilingual Mass.  This can hardly be defined as a success.  In fact, it came across as rather an embarrassment.

-- Even if more people showed up to the bilingual Mass, the question arises: does a bilingual Mass tend to underscore our unity as Catholics? or does it tend to underscore our ethnic/national differences?  Are our ethnic/national differences supposed to play a role in worship?  Does this practice have more in common with the Bride of Christ, or with the Tower of Babel?
-- Bl. John XXIII, whom the liberals hail as the Pope who ushered in the Age of Aquarius, thought that Latin ought to be preserved as the language of the Church, among other reasons, because
Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all.
-- Here is a view of the worship aid distributed for tonight's Mass:
Notice: English on one side, Spanish on the other.  How come we can do this for Spanish, but not for Latin?
Mass is definitely better in Latin.  Herewith my vote for its revival.

All Saints? Or Just Plain Monday?

So I'm just about to go upstairs to court this morning, and I'm finishing up my coffee out of a paper cup with a lid on it.  I swallow the wrong way.  This causes me to cough directly into the coffee cup through the hole in the lid.  The resulting high-pressure blast into the cup through the small opening blows the lid off and causes coffee to explode all over the front of my blouse and my desk.
Then, in court, I'm walking along the edge of one of the counsel tables when the handle on the water pitcher catches in my suit coat pocket.  This drags the microphone and causes water to fall from the pitcher which is dangling from my pocket down all over the back of my pant leg.

I don't know whether any bishops read this blog, but if any do, I urge Your Excellencies to rethink this whole idea of dispensing from the obligation when a holy day falls on a Monday.  It won't kill us to have to go to Mass two days in a row; and the foregoing just goes to prove we could use all the divine assistance we can get on Mondays.

UPDATE: Just now, right before I was about to push the "post" button, I almost swallowed the wrong way again and sprayed all over my laptop.  See what I mean?  Bring back the holy days of obligation!  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy!

I have not been posting very much of late because I have been rather busy elsewhere.  For one thing, my relative lull at work is over.  I had a trial yesterday which ended in a hung jury -- two thirds of the jurors voted to acquit, which must be chalked up as a moral victory, even if it means I have to go through the whole thing all over again.  And then there is the crafts fair at the courthouse coming up in December, which will feature, among other things, my beadwork, so that much of my spare time is spent madly beading.  
In the circumstances, it's kind of amazing that my stats are actually going up, and my followers are increasing.  Still, I thought I'd better stick my hand up above water, just to show that I'm still alive.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Now I Am a Lifer

Saturday was professions for the Bl. Margaret of Castello chapter, Boise, Idaho, Western Province of the Holy Name of Jesus, Third Order Preachers.  In a diocese that is utterly devoid of Dominican friars, it was a rare treat for our chapter to have Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P. with us to give us a one-day retreat, celebrate Mass and preside at professions at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.  Fr. Andrew Szymakowski of the Diocese of Baker,  who came as our guest, graciously concelebrated at professions. The chapter welcomed two postulants, admitted five members to temporary professions, and admitted two -- including yours truly -- to perpetual profession.  Stephanie DeNinno, then subprioress (now formation director) and Bonnie Fitzpatrick worked hard to arrange the venue, keep things running smoothly, and head clean-up efforts.  On Sunday, we repaired to Chapter House in Homedale, where Fr. Serpa celebrated Mass, after which we got down to some serious eating, drinking and talking -- in short, partying as only Dominicans can.  There were no arrests and very few casualties.

So now I am a lifer in the Third Order Preachers, where I never thought I would end up -- the same Order, in fact, which boasted among its members the not-very-nice sisters who ran the parochial school I attended from 1976-1984.  That was my first brush with the Order of Preachers, and it left me quite cold.  I had all but forgotten about Dominicans by the time I left for Idaho in 1995; but within ten years, I found myself entangled with them again.  And now I am entangled with them for good.

St. Thomas Aquinas received a most consoling revelation to the effect that few, if any members of the Order of Preachers would be lost.  This is obviously not my cue to commence sinning boldly.  But it does certainly point to a solid foundation for hope, namely, the Rule which will now support me for life. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October 13, 1917: The Miracle of the Sun

All of Satan's fallen host seemed to have burst its bonds during the month of October, 1917.  The Battle of Passchendaele had raged since the end of July.  Only the day before the children were to keep their final appointment with the Lady of the Rosary, the Allies alone suffered 13,000 casualties trying to break the German defenses outside the rural Belgian village.  By November, upwards of three quarters of a million lives on both sides would be consumed; out of the wrack and ruin of Passchendaele, where he served in a Bavarian division, would emerge a young Austrian named Adolf Hitler.  Only a few days after the last apparition, the Bolshevik Revolution began.  How apt was the nickname of "Red October" that the Communists gave to this fateful month, when the fury of hell lashed the world as mercilessly as the torrential rain that fell on the Cova da Iria on the 12th and 13th.
Perhaps that rain, and the mud that went with it, were part of hell's wrath.  But if it was a campaign to keep people away from the Cova, it was a colossal failure.  Believers and skeptics alike defied the awful weather, choking the Cova and its approaches; Fr. Di Marchi quotes as the most widely accepted figure as 70,000 souls.  Lucia relates in her Fourth Memoir:
We left home quite early, expecting that we would be delayed along the way.  Masses of people thronged the roads.  The rain fell in torrents.  My mother, her heart torn with uncertainty as to what was going to happen, and fearing it would be the last day of my life, wanted to accompany me.

On the way, the scenes of the previous month, still more numerous and moving, were repeated.  Not even the muddy roads could prevent these people from kneeling in the  most humble and suppliant of attitudes.  We reached the holmoak in the Cova da Iria.  Once there, moved by an interior impulse, I asked the people to shut their umbrellas and say the Rosary.  A little later, we saw the flash of light, and then Our Lady appeared on the homoak.

"What do you want of me?"
Now the Lady was to keep her oft-repeated promise to tell the children who she was and what she wanted.
"I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor.  I am the Lady of the Rosary.  Continue always to pray the Rosary every day.  The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes."

"I have many things to ask you: the cure of some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things..."

"Some yes, but not others.  They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins."

Looking very sad, Our Lady said:

"Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended."

Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself.
Now the Lady would keep the other promise: to perform a miracle for all to see and believe.  How often does it happen that a miracle on a huge scale is promised for a particular date -- and then it happens?  Herewith the eyewitness account of Dr. Joseph Garrett, professor of natural sciences at Coimbra University, written in December, 1917 and quoted in Francis Johnston's book, Fatima: The Great Sign:
I am going to relate to you in a brief and concise manner, without any statements which would conceal the truth, what I saw in Fatima on 13 October 1917...I arrived at midday. The rain which had fallen persistently all morning, combined with a blustery wind, continued fretfully, as if threatening to drown everyone. The dull and heavy sky, its dark-grey clouds water-laden, predicted abundant rain for a long time to come.

I remained on the road in the shelter of the hood of my car, looking rather disdainfully toward the place where they said the apparition would be seen, not daring to step on the sodden and muddy earth of the freshly-ploughed field. I was a little more than a hundred metres from the high wooden posts mounted by a rough cross, seeing distinctly the wide circle of people who, with their umbrellas open, seemed like a vast arena of mushrooms. A little after one o'clock [footnote omitted], the children to whom Our Lady, as they declare, appeared and appointed the place, day and hour of the apparition, arrived at the site. Hymns were intoned and sung by the people who gathered around them. At a certain moment, this immense mass of people, so varied and compact, closed their umbrellas and uncoered their heads in a gesture that could have been one of humility or respect, but which left me surprised and bewildered, because now the rain, with a blind persistency, poured down on their heads and drenched them through.

Later, I was told that this crowd, who finished up by kneeling in the mud, had obeyed the voice of a child. It must have been about half past one when there rose up, on the precise spot where the children were, a pillar of smoke, a delicate, slender, bluish column that went straight up about two metres, perhaps above their heads and hten evaporated. The phenomenon lasted for some seconds and was perfectly visible to the naked eye...It was repeated yet a second and third time. On these three occasions, and especially on the last one, the slender posts sstood out distinctly in the dull grey atmosphere.

While I continued looking at the place of the apparitions in a serene, if cold expectation of something happening, and with diminishing curiosity, because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention, I heard a shout from thousands of voices, and saw the multitude which straggled out at my feet, here and there concentrated in small groups round the trees, suddenly turn its back on the point toward which, up to now, it had directed its attention, and turn to look at the sky on the opposite side...The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds that hid it and shone clearly and intensely. I veered toward the magnet which seemed to be drawing all eyes, and saw it as a disc with clear-cut rim, luminous and shining, but which did not hurt the eyes...

It looked like a glazed circular piece cut from a mother-of-pearl shell...It could not be confused, either, with the sun seen through fog (for there was no fog at the time), because it was not opaque, diffused or veiled...The sky was mottled with light cirrus clouds, the blue coming through here and there, but sometimes the sun stood out in patches of clear sky...It was a remarkable fact that one could fix one's eyes on this brazier of heat and light without any pain in the eyes or blinding of the retina...

The sun's disc did not remain immobile. This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl, when suddenly a clamour was heard from all the people. The sun, whirling, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. The sensation during these moments was terrible.

During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described in detail, there were changes of color in the atmosphere...Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything around was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything in an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same colour. An oak tree nearby threw a shadow of this colour on the ground. Fearing that I was suffering from an affection of the retina...I turned away and shut my eyes, keeping my hands over them to intercept the light. With my back still turned, I opened my eyes and saw that the landscape was the same purple colour as before...Soon after, I heard a peasant who was near me shout out in tones of astonishment: "Look, that lady is all yellow!" In fact, everything both near and far, had changed, taking on the colour of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice, and I recall my amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. Laughter was heard. My own hand was of the same yellow colour...

All these phenomena which I have described, were observed by me in a calm and serene state of mind and without any emotional disturbance. It is for others to interpret and explain them.
Francis Johnson records that the solar miracle was seen over an area of 600 square miles.  He relates some eyewitness accounts:
In the town of Leiria, eighteen miles away to the north-west, the miracle was seen as a great red flash due to the restricting contours of the land.  Rev. Joaquim Lourenco, a canon lawyer of the diocese of Leiria in 1960, witnessed the miracle in the village of Alburitel, some nine miles distant.  He was a schoolboy at the time, and in 1960 he told John Haffert:

"I feel incapable of describing what I saw.  I looked fixedly at the sun, which seemed pale and did not hurt my eyes.  Looking like a ball of snow, revolving on itself, it suddenly seemed to come down in a zig-zag, menacing the earth.  Terrified, I ran and hit  myself among the people, who were weeping and expecting the end of the world at any moment.  It was a crowd which had gathered outside our local village school, and we had all left classes and run into the streets because of the cries and surprised shouts of men and women who were in the street in front of the school when the miracle began.

"There was an unbeliever there who had spent the morning mocking the 'simpletons' who had gone off to Fatima just to see an ordinary girl.  He now seemed paralyzed, his eyes fixed on the sun.  He began to tremble from head to foot, and lifting up his arms, fell on his knees in the mud, crying out to God.  But meanwhile the people continued to cry out and to weep, asking God to pardon their sins.  We all ran to the two chapels in the village, which were soon filled to overflowing.  During those long moments of the solar prodigy, objects around us turned all colors of the rainbow..."

An American building contractor, Abano Barros, related to John Haffert in 1960 how he saw the miracle in a village near Minde, about eight miles from Fatima.  "I was watching sheep, as was my daily task, and suddenly, there in the direction of Fatima, I saw the sun fall from the sky.  I thought it was the end of the world."

At least one eyewitness, the poet Alfonso Lopes Viera, saw the miracle from a distance of 30 miles -- at the ocean town of San Pedro der Muel.  The author has also discovered at first hand that the miracle was seen in Pombal, some 32 miles to the north.  Investigations have proved that it was visible over an area of approximately 32 miles by 20.

As for the children themselves, Lucia relates simply and straightforwardly in her Fourth Memoir what they saw:
After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld Sst. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun.  St. Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands.  When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours.  Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done.  This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.

So ended this dramatic heavenly intervention in human affairs, at the height of the fratricidal fury that swept away the old order of things, and ushered in a new era of slaughter and destruction previously unknown.  But the message behind the drama is quite simple: repent and convert.

When will we start?