Wednesday, April 30, 2014

225 Years Ago Today - First Presidential Inauguration of His Excellency, George Washington


225 years ago today - 30 April 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as our Nation's first President on the steps of Federal Hall in New York City. In his First Inaugural Address, President Washington TWICE invoked God and asked for His divine guidance and blessings upon the new Nation:
"... Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence...

"... Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend."





Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Happy 281st Birthday to the Father of Our Country, His Excellency George Washington

His Excellency, George Washington

Remember Remember the Fifth of November

In Honor of the Father of Our Country - His Excellency, George Washington

Bill Would Honor Washington and Lincoln Separately

The Conversion of George Washington

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

St. John Paul II, Ora Pro Nobis!






We have this photo hanging in the entryway hall of our home. We bought it shortly after the death of Pope John Paul II, which occurred less than a year after we entered the Catholic Church. If it weren't for this man, I would not be Catholic. For that reason alone, I am thrilled with his canonization today.

St. John Paul II, ora pro nobis!

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March


[NOTE: This is my annual St. Patrick's Day post, originally posted on St. Patrick's Day 2005]


Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!
(Happy St. Patrick's Day!)

As a Roman Catholic of Irish descent, I am, quite predictably, a big fan of St. Patrick. Long before I became Catholic, St. Patrick - with his bishop's mitre and crozier - stood there beckoning me home to the Church of my forebears. Indeed, the first rosary I ever purchased (again, before I ever became Catholic) had a St. Patrick junction and a Celtic Cross Crucifix. St. Patrick's feast day, therefore, is a cause for great celebration in our household.

But just what is it about this British-born saint - who (1) was kidnapped as a boy from his home in Britain by Irish pirates, (2) was sold into slavery in Ireland, (3) escaped from his Irish oppressors, and (4) returned to Ireland to evangelize his former captors (the same Irish who would, a century later, with saints like Columba and Aidan, re-evangelize Britain after the Anglo-Saxon invasions) - that makes his feast day celebrated to a greater extent around the world than most other saints?

Perhaps it is because of the extent of the Irish Diaspora, which stretches from Continental Europe to North America to South America to Australia, and numbers in the tens of millions - making St. Patrick not only the patron saint of Ireland, but of all Irish all over the world. Possibly, it could be St. Patrick's contribution to Celtic Christianity, an influence that can be seen in the Lorica of St. Patrick, which has been attributed to him.

For more on the story behind why St. Patrick is such a significant personage within the Church, especially where the Irish are concerned,
go here: Patron Saints Index - Patrick,

and here: The History of St. Patrick's Day,

and here: Catholic Online - St. Patrick.
But unfortunately, I think the real reason this particular feast day has such resonance with so many people has nothing whatsoever to do with its religious significance. St. Patrick's Day, like Christmas, is a religious feast day that has lost much of its meaning due to over-secularization. Rather than a day to celebrate the life of this great British saint who evangelized the Irish, St. Patrick's Day has become just another excuse to get drunk and tell stupid Irish jokes.

Personally, one of the biggest problems I have with the secular celebrations of St. Patrick's Day is the ubiquitous presence of the leprechaun. On and around St. Patrick's Day, this little fairy creature can be seen on the front pages of major newspapers, on greeting cards, and on televisions selling used cars, credit cards, and beer in a cheesy Irish brogue accent.

Given the artistic legacy of beautiful music, poetry, literature, and liturgical art bequeathed to us by the Irish; given the indispensable contributions the Irish have made to Christianity and Western Civilization as documented by Thomas Cahill in his best-selling book How the Irish Saved Civilization; and given the steadfastness of the Irish in overcoming historical persecution - racial, cultural, economic, and religious; I find the use of the leprechaun on St. Patrick's Day as a symbol of the Irish people and their cultural contributions about as appropriate as a lawn jockey on Martin Luther King Day.

Some will think that is not an apt comparison. Sorry, but I think it quite apt. The leprechaun as a symbol of this holy feast day is just plain offensive, and should go the way of the kerchief-headed version of Aunt Jemima.

The Irish - that mystical race of warriors and poets, saints and scholars, who brought us great works of literature like Ulysses and Gulliver's Travels, early medieval illuminated manuscripts like the Books of Kells and Durrow, musicians like Turlough O'Carolan, Altan, U2 and Van Morrison, wordsmiths like W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney, kings like Brian Boru and ... (well, Brian's about it as far as great Irish kings go), political heroes like Daniel O'Connell and Michael Collins, and saints like Columcille (a.k.a. Columba), Brendan, Aidan, and Columbanus - deserve better on the feast day of their patron saint than to be represented by a short, ruddy (and might I add, pagan) fairy dressed in a green suit.

The University of Notre Dame is also guilty of this blood libel against the children of Erin. The University does quite a disservice to the true spirit of the "Fighting Irish" by representing that spirit in the form of a leprechaun (of course, some would argue that Notre Dame also does a disservice to Ex Corde Ecclesiae by calling itself "Catholic" while allowing such nonsense as prominent positions for Fr. Richard McBrien and Prof. Candida Moss in the Theology Department, not to mention honoring the anti-Catholic bigot and all-around pro-abort, President Obama, with an honorary law degree). Bring back the Irish Terrier to represent the Fighting Irish, as it did in the days of Knute Rockne. Just get rid of that damned leprechaun!!! (Oops! Sorry about that. That should be "damned leprechaun".)

Okay. Rant over.

Hopefully, we can try to keep in mind today (1) the spiritual legacy of Ireland's patron saint, and (2) the many cultural contributions of the people he loved so dearly as to bring them the Light of Christ - which are, after all, the primary reasons we celebrate the feast of St. Patrick. Even if the rest of the world is too deep in a drunken stupor to notice.

And so I end with the following blessing:

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!
(St. Patrick's Day Blessing On You!)


Recommended Reading: 
Patrick: The Pilgrim Apostle of Ireland by Maire B. de Paor 
The Confession of St. Patrick by John Skinner 
How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill
Wisdom of the Celtic Saints by Edward C. Sellner
Sun Dancing by Geoffrey Moorhouse





Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
St. Patrick's Breastplate (The Deer's Cry)

Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March (2010)

Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March (2009)

Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March (2008)

What I'm Listening to in Honor of St. Patrick's Day

Don't Drink Green Beer!

St. Pat's Spat Pits Church vs. Cities
Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March (2007)

 
"... The Slur of the Fighting Irish"

 
Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March (2006)

Search Terms: St. Patrick's Day, Lent, Abstinence, Meat - Corned Beef, Dispensation, Indult, Catholic
 


Happy Feast Day of St. Patrick - 17 March (2005)

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pat Archbold's "Controversial" Call for Pope Francis to Normalize Relations With SSPX Removed by National Catholic Register

Since the Register won't carry it, I will (and Pat also has it at Creative Minority Report):

Pope Francis and the SSPX: An Opportunity

By PATRICK ARCHBOLD
By now, many of you have probably seen the Tony Palmer video last week that was so exciting to many.
At a Protestant conference, Tony Palmer, an Anglican priest, brought along an iPhone video of greeting from Pope Francis. The subject of the presentation and of the Pope’s recording was unity of Christians.
In his remarks, Pope Francis made the following statements to our separated brethren regarding the separation: “Separated because, it’s sin that has separated us, all our sins. The misunderstandings throughout history. It has been a long road of sins that we all shared in. Who is to blame? We all share the blame. We have all sinned. There is only one blameless, the Lord.”
It is certainly true. Regardless of the truth of Catholic doctrine, the Church has accepted its share of the blame for the misunderstanding that were allowed to deepen and harden, leading to centuries of separation.
When I heard this, something else written by Pope Francis’ predecessor came immediately to mind. In 2007, along with the issuance of the “motu proprio” Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI issued a letter explaining his reasoning. In that letter, he made the following statement.
Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to unable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.
It strikes me that this may be one of those critical moments in history to which His Holiness refers.
With the breakdown of discussion between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X at the end of the previous pontificate, the public mood during this first year of the current pontificate, and other internal events, traditional Catholics, both inside and outside the Church, have felt increasingly marginalized. Whether fair or true, I say without fear of contradiction that this is a prevailing sentiment.
This perception of marginalization has manifested itself in increasingly strident and frankly disrespectful rhetoric on the part of some traditionalists and their leaders.
I have great concern that without the all the generosity that faith allows by the leaders of the Church, that this separation, this wound on the Church, will become permanent. In fact, without such generosity, I fully expect it. Such permanent separation and feeling of marginalization will likely separate more souls than just those currently associated with the SSPX.
I have also come to believe that Pope Francis’ is exactly the right Pope to do it. In his address to the evangelicals, he makes clear his real concern for unity.
So here is what I am asking. I ask the Pope to apply that wide generosity to the SSPX and to normalize relations and their standing within the Church. I am asking the Pope to do this even without the total agreement on the Second Vatican Council. Whatever their disagreements, surely this can be worked out over time with the SSPX firmly implanted in the Church. I think that the Church needs to be more generous toward unity than to insist upon dogmatic adherence to the interpretation of a non-dogmatic council. The issues are real, but they must be worked out with our brothers at home and not with a locked door.
Further, Pope Francis’ commitment to the aims of the Second Vatican Council is unquestioned. Were he to be generous in such a way, nobody would ever interpret it to be a rejection of the Council. How could it be? This perception may not have been the case in the last pontificate. Pope Francis is uniquely suited to this magnanimous moment.
I believe this generosity is warranted and standard practice in the Church. We do not insist on religious orders that may have strayed even further in the other direction sign a copy of Pascendi Dominici Gregis before they can be called Catholic again. So please let us not insist on the corollary for the SSPX. Must we insist on more for a group that doctrinally would not have raised an eyebrow a mere fifty years ago? I pray not.
Give them canonical status and organizational structure that will protect them. Bring them home, for their sake and the sake of countless other souls. I truly believe that such generosity will be repaid seven-fold. Pope Benedict has done so much of the heavy lifting already, all that is required is just a little more.
Please Holy Father, let us not let this moment pass and this rift grow into a chasm. Make this generous offer and save the Church from further division. Do this so that none of your successors will ever say, “If only we had done more.”

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Passion of the Kmiec Revisited: WTF?

Doug Kmiec has, apparently, gone off the deep end. Seriously, I got nothing. In fact, this latest cry for attention is ... well ... just sad:
... Since he has returned, I’ve followed his curious posts on Facebook and Twitter. He consistently refers to himself in the third person as Ambassador, and posts these odd videos and photos of himself in his Ambassadorial role. But a few months ago, it got really weird. He started posting images promoting himself as Vice President in 2016.



At first I thought it may be some kind of joke, but it wasn’t. Then on October 6, 2013, he announced his “decision to run for vice presidency in 2016,” and noted that he had a “steering committee.” ...
Read more at "Pepperdine Law Prof, and former Ambassador to Malta, Doug Kmiec Seeks To Be Clinton’s VP. Huh?".

Please tell me I'm not going to have to start blogging about this guy again.

(Hat tip: Michael Denton via Facebook)



UPDATE:
Kmiec's Facebook page bears every indication that he's taking himself seriously in this regard. Sad, really.

And his support for Hillary's candidacy proves that Kmiec's decision to venture into the party of abortion-on-demand - the party that forces Catholic organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their Faith - wasn't just a one-time fling with The One. 



UPDATE #2 (27 January):
My friends Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority Report and Donald McClarey at The American Catholic have posted recent commentary on Kmiec's bizarre behavior:

Heh. Doug Kmiec Wants to Be Hillary's Running Mate

Doug Kmiec Jumps Shark



The Passion of the Kmiec - A Pro Ecclesia Timeline:

January 2014 
The Passion of the Kmiec Revisited: WTF?


February 2012
Doug Kmiec Back in Obama's Embrace


Doug Kmiec Thinks He's Breaking Up With Obama, But Obama Already Jilted Him First


September 2009
Kmiec Lies Again: "Obama Has Taken Some Steps Towards [Protecting Life], Perhaps Not as Fast as Some Would Like"


July 2009
"The Passion of the Kmiec" ... The Saga Continues


May 2009
Kmiec Tells Another Lie in Service of Obama

Robert P. George on "Obama and His Pro-Life Apologists"

Robert George vs Douglas Kmiec: How Should a Pro-Life Citizen Respond to Obama? [UPDATED]


April 2009
Cardinal Rigali Calls Out Kmiec on His ESCR Lies


A New Front in the Church's Civil War

Fr. Z Fisks Pathetic Sycophant Kmiec on Notre Dame's Obama Invite

Prof. George Schools Prof. Kmiec ... Again


March 2009
 
Scholar vs. Hack: Prof. George Schools Prof. Kmiec re: "Did Obama Allow Human Cloning?"
 
Kmiec Brushes Aside Another Non-Negotiable by Coming Out Against Prop 8


February 2009

Kmiec Calls Pope's Comments "Intrusive"


Catholic World Report: "Douglas Kmiec and His Misinformation Offensive for Barack Obama"


January 2009
Kmiec Claims He's In the Loop for Vatican Post


 American Papist's Open Letter to Prof. Kmiec

Kmiec the Martyr

Prof. Kmiec Eulogizes Fr. Neuhaus in a Manner That is All About Prof. Kmiec and Justifying his Obama Vote [UPDATED]


December 2008
 
Prof. Bainbridge on Doug Kmiec and U.S. Diplomatic Relations with the Holy See


November 2008
 
Vatican Official Says Kmiec Will Not Become New Vatican Ambassador

The Kmiec Catholic Re-Education Camp

Former Student of Prof. Kmiec Calls Him Out on "Revealing His True Colors"

A Modern-Day "Vicar of Bray"

Douthat Smacks Kmiec

Amy's "Wrap-Up" of Pre-Election Abortion Coverage

Pathetic


October 2008
 
George Weigel on Kmiec's "Flawed Thinking"

Archbishop Chaput: Kmiec Doing a "Disservice to the Church"

Mainstream Media Compliant in Obama's "Faith Outreach" Pitch

Bill Donohue: "I'm Catholic, Staunchly Anti-Racist, and Support David Duke" [UPDATED]

Debate Over at Amy's: Should Catholics Work for Legal Restrictions on Abortion?

Deacon Fournier Puts Smack Down on Prof. Kmiec

Kmiec's Payoff? [UPDATED]


September 2008
 
The Obama-Kmiec Magical Mystery "Faith Tour"

Deacon Fournier: "Doug Kmiec’s ‘Can a Catholic Support Him?’ Asks the Wrong Question"

Ponnuru Raps Kmiec for Defending Obama's Born-Alive Vote

"Separate But Equal" Redux - Pro-Life Edition

Mark Stricherz: "Why the Democratic Abortion Strategy is Worse"

Whither the "Catholic Vote"? Some Interesting Posts at the Fidelis Blog


August 2008
 
Darwin Catholic: "Douglas Kmiec, Master of Dissembling" [UPDATED]

Prof. Rick Garnett on Kmiec's "Missing the Point"

A Former Student of Prof. Kmiec Speaks Out ...

Prof. Kmiec Shifts the Goalposts

Kmiec's "Bridge Too Far"? Obama's Attacks on Justice Thomas

Without Further Ado: Doug Kmiec on McCain v. Obama at Saddleback [UPDATED]

Paging Prof. Kmiec ...

Doug Kmiec Claims Democrats Making "Steps Toward Honoring Life" in Platform

Prof. Garnett Takes on Prof. Kmiec ... Again

Casey Jr. to Get Prime-Time Slot in Denver to Appease Catholics [UPDATED]


July 2008
 
Fr. Neuhaus Responds to Doug Kmiec

Deal Hudson's Open Letter to Doug Kmiec

National Catholic Register on Catholics, Kmiec, and Obama

Prof. Hadley Arkes: "Political Distraction Among the Catholics"


June 2008

 Doug Kmiec - What He Said Then vs. What He Says Now Re: Constitutional Jurisprudence

What is the "Pro-Life Position" Regarding Abortion?

Traumatized

Unrequited Love

Doug Kmiec: "After Meeting with Barack" [UPDATED]

Cranky Conservative: "But At Least He Says It with a Smile"

Doug Kmiec Again Places Platitudes Above Policy [UPDATED]

Prof. Bainbridge on "Obama, Abortion, & Catholics"

Prof. Rick Garnett on Kmiec's Latest Nonsense

Deacon Keith Fournier: "Why I Disagree with Doug Kmiec, Once Again"

Give It a Rest Already, Prof. Kmiec!

Doug Kmiec's Newfound Celebrity Status Among Those on the Left

Doug Kmiec Soon To Be Sorely Disappointed

E.J. Dionne on Kmiec Being Denied Communion [UPDATED]


May 2008
 
Deal Hudson on Prof. Kmiec and Blurring the Lines Between "Pro-Choice" and Pro-Abortion
 
Did Doug Kmiec Just Now Catch On That Obama and NARAL Are Politically Conjoined? [UPDATED]

Deal Hudson on "How Obama's Catholics Will Dodge the Infanticide Question"

Kmiec's Dishonesty [UPDATED]

Catholic Teaching and Political Risk Taking: When Credit Isn't Given Where Credit is Due [UPDATED]


April 2008

 Kmiec's Wishful Thinking on Obama and Abortion


March 2008
 
The Curt Jester: "Shameless Garment" [UPDATED]

So-Called "Catholic Reaganite" Doug Kmiec Endorses Obama [UPDATED]

No'bama for Me, Thanks"

Can a Catholic Vote for Obama?


February 2008

 Obama's Pledge to Planned Parenthood: "I Will Not Yield"

"Why American Catholics are Supporting Barack Obama"

How the Catholic Left Will Tackle McCain

Why Does Kmiec Criticize McCain for Positions on Which He Gave Romney a Pass?
 
Deal Hudson on "Douglas Kmiec and the Lure of Obama"

Douglas W. Kmiec on "The Moral Duty to Inquire"

Professor Bainbridge: "Will Catholic Reaganites Go for Obama?"

Deal Hudson: "Preacher Man: Barack Obama and the the Gospel of Liberalism"

"Sorry, Doug Kmiec, But This Catholic Isn't Buying Obama"

Ramesh Ponnuru on Douglas Kmiec and "Catholic Reaganites for Obama" [UPDATED]

Romney Advisor Says Obama "a Natural for the Catholic Vote"


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Sunday, January 05, 2014

A Poem for Twelfth Night - "How the Puritans Stole Christmas"

Yes, it's that time of year again. Christmastide is approaching it's festive conclusion, punctuated by the Twelfth Night revelry. And, of course, that means that it's time, once again, for my traditional Twelfth Night post* : a poem titled "How the Puritans Stole Christmas" ...

... with apologies to Dr. Seuss:


How the Puritans Stole Christmas

Every High-Church Anglican and Catholic
Living in Jolly Olde England
Liked Christmas a lot...

But the Puritans,
Who were infected with Calvinism,
Did NOT!

Puritans

The Puritans hated Christmas!
The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that their round heads weren't screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, their predestinarian arses were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
Was a distaste for mince pies - shaped like a manger-bed in a stall.
But,
Whatever the reason,
Mince pies or their arses,
The Puritans saw the yuletide celebrations as farces,
Staring down on the festivities with sour, dour frowns
At the merriment and good will of those in the towns.
For they knew all the revelers were engaged in such vices
As eating tarts made of suet and spices.

"And they're eating plum pudding!" they snarled with a sneer.
"Tomorrow is Christmas! It's practically here!"
Then they growled, with their greedy fingers nervously drumming,
"We MUST find a way to keep Christmas from coming!"
For, tomorrow, they knew...

...That the Christmas events
Would involve the consumption of pies made of mince!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That's one thing they hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
Then the revelers, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they'd feast! And they'd feast!
And they'd FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!
They would start on plum pudding, and rare roast-beef
Foods again giving Puritans nothing but grief!

And THEN
They'd do something Puritans liked least of all!
Every merry-maker in town, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.
They'd stand hand-in-hand. And they all would start singing!
They'd sing! And they'd sing!
AND they'd SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more the Puritans thought of the whole Christmas-Sing
The more the Puritans thought, "We must stop this whole thing!
"Why for over sixteen hundred years we've put up with it now!
We MUST stop Christmas from coming!
...But HOW?"

Then they got an idea!
An awful idea!
THE PURITANS
GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

"We know just what to do!" The Puritans began plot-ting.
And they made civil war against England's King.
And they built up an army, and the Puritans said,
"When we've won this war, we'll remove the King's head!"

"All we need is a ploy..."
To get the job done.
But since kings are kings,
It was difficult to come up with one.
Did that stop the Puritans...?
No! The Puritans said,
"Charges of treason and Romish sympathies will cost him his head!"
So they called a rump court; charges the King refused to refute.
And the court issued the sentence to execute.

THEN
They loaded poor Charles
Dressed in clothes resembling sacks
On a ramshakle scaffold
And severed his head with an ax.

Then the Puritans said, "Huzzah!"
For they had brought the King down
And they began to march
On all the churches in town.

All their stain-glassed windows were dark. Quiet filled the air.
All the vestrymen were all dreaming sweet dreams without care
When the Puritans came to the first church in the square.
"This is stop number one," The Puritans hissed
And each Puritan approached shaking his fist.

Then they broke all the stain-glass.
And smashed statues galore.
Their horses dishonored the graves in the floor.
Then they burned all the vestments,
And prayer books, too.
Then they said "Let's move on, we have much to do!"

Father Christmas on Trial

Then they slithered and slunk, with dour looks most unpleasant,
Around the whole town, to despoil places where Christ was once present!
Stained glass! Statuary! Painted images! Candles!
All manner of popish influences that for years had caused scandals!
And they smashed them to pieces and threw them on piles
And set them ablaze, smiling devilish smiles!

Then they turned to the larders. They banned the Yule feast,
The plum pudding, the boar's head, and all toasts to that beast!
They forbade all the foods that had given offense.
And they succeeded in banning the pies made of mince!

The Puritan Ban on Christmas

Then the last thing they took
Was the yule log for the fire.
On the walls they left nothing but hooks, and some wire.

And the one little speck
Left in the church house
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.

Then
They did the same thing
To the other church houses

Leaving crumbs
Much too small
For the other church mouses!

And what happened then...?
Well...in England they say
That the Lord Protector's round head
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute that "defender of liberty" felt safe from the strife,
He became the Commonwealth's dictator for life!
And he enforced the outlawing of Christmas! And all the foods for that feast!
And he...

...HE HIMSELF...!
The Lord Protector ruled the realm like a tyrannical beast!



Mince Pie Still Life




NB: Christmas was not only outlawed in the British Isles but in parts of colonial America, as well. In 1659, a law was passed by the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony requiring a five-shilling fine from anyone caught "observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way."





* Originally posted as "A Poem for the Twelve Days of Christmas - 'How the Puritans Stole Christmas' ..." on 3 January 2007, and again on 5 January 2007 under the title "A Poem for Twelfth Night - 'How the Puritans Stole Christmas' ..."


Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject: 
How the Puritans Stole Our Lady

A Song for the End of Christmas

A Song (and a Poem) for the End of Christmas

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"We Have Met the Enemy and They Are Ours"

Perry's Victory on Lake Erie by Currier and Ives.

On this day 200 years ago - 10 September 1813, Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry, United States Navy, won a resounding victory over a British fleet near Put-in-Bay, Ohio, in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812:
At dawn on the morning of September 10, 1813, a lookout spotted six British vessels to the northwest of Put-in-Bay beyond Rattlesnake Island. Immediately Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry issued a flurry of orders and made preparations to sail forth to engage the British. 
 
Oliver Hazard Perry by Gilbert Stuart

With Perry's fleet on Lake Erie the British supply route from Fort Malden to Port Dover had been severed. The British had to either fight, or abandon Fort Malden. The British squadron consisted of six ships with sixty-three cannons, while the American flotilla comprised nine vessels and fifty-four guns. The British were armed with long guns that could throw a cannonball approximately one mile, accurately to about one-half mile. The American ships primarily armed with carronades had less than half the range of a long gun. The carronades could inflict much more damage at close range. Perry needed the wind to his back to close within carronade range.

When the squadron sailed from Put-in-Bay harbor at 7 a.m. the American vessels were steering west-northwest; the wind was blowing from the west-southwest. For more than two hours Perry repeatedly tacks his ships in an effort to put the wind to his back, but with no success. The frustrated Perry, conceded to mother nature at 10 a.m., issuing orders to turn his fleet in the opposite direction. But before the order could be executed the wind suddenly shifted and blew from the southeast, placing the wind directly behind the Americans.


Perry's opponent, Commander Robert Heriot Barclay, was an experienced Royal Navy officer who had fought with Lord Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805, and two years later he lost an arm fighting the French. Barclay's options did not alter when the wind shifted, so the Scotsman pointed his bow sprits to the westward, and hove to in line of battle.


With the wind at his back and the British battle line finally revealed, Perry made his own tactical adjustments. The Schooners Ariel and Scorpion were placed off the flagship's weather bow to engage the first British vessel and to prevent the enemy from raking his fleet. The Lawrence, a 20-gun brig serving as Perry's flagship, was third in line and would engage the Detroit, Barclay's 19-gun flagship. Next in line floated the Caledonia, a small brig with only three guns. Fifth in the American line of battle was the Niagara, Perry's other 20-gun brig and the Lawrence's sistership.


The Niagara, captained by Master Commandant Jesse Elliott, would engage the 17-gun Queen Charlotte, the second largest British ship. Lastly came the smaller schooners and sloop; these would engage the smaller British vessels.


Just before the engagement opened Perry hoisted his battle flag to the flagship's main truck. The large navy blue banner was emblazoned with the crudely inscribed words, "DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP". For his battle slogan Perry used the dying words of Captain James Lawrence, a friend of the commodore who was killed on June 1, 1813. Perry's flagship was named for the fallen Lawrence, and the dead hero's inspiring words clearly indicated Perry's determination to prevail.


Perry's Battle Flag, "Don't Give Up the Ship"
U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, MD

[...]

By 2:30 p.m. the flagship was a floating wreck; every gun on her engaged side was disabled and four of every five men fit for duty were either killed or wounded. Perry was facing the dismal prospect of surrender.

Then, as he gazed across to the Niagara, still out of range and relatively undamaged, the commodore made a fateful decision. Collecting four unwounded men Perry manned the flagship's first cutter and rowed through a hail of shot to the Niagara. Miraculously Perry and his boat crew reached the Niagara unscathed.



Perry transfers (along with his battle flag) from the badly damaged flagship Lawrence to the unscathed Niagara.

[...]

The British, though they had pounded the Lawrence into a crippled hulk, had suffered terribly. During the engagement Barclay was severely wounded, plus the captain and first lieutenant of every British vessel was incapacitated. The English fleet was now commanded by junior officers - brave men, but with little or no experience maneuvering ships in the chaos of combat. When they observed the Niagara bearing down on their line the British attempted to wear ship - to turn their vessels around to bring the unused starboard broadsides to bear. Orders were issued, but amidst the tumult of battle the battered Detroit and Queen Charlotte collided, becoming helplessly entangled.


Taking full advantage of the enemy blunder, Perry steered the Niagara through the jumbled British battle line. Unleashing both broadsides, the American commodore ravaged the vulnerable British ships. As the Niagara pressed through the British line Perry backed the maintop sail, holding the Niagara stationary while her belching carronades decimated the enemy decks. The wind had also picked up by this time, allowing the sluggish gunboats to rush forward and rake the enemy from astern.


A few minutes after 3 p.m. the British bowed to the inevitable, the four largest vessels surrendering one by one. The gunboats Chippawa and Little Belt sheered off and tried to escape, but they were tracked down and snared by the Scorpion and Trippe. The entire British fleet had been captured.

The vessels anchored and hasty repairs were underway near West Sister Island when Perry composed his now famous message to William Henry Harrison. Scrawled in pencil on the back of an old envelope, Perry wrote, "Dear General: We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop. Yours with great respect and esteem, O.H. Perry".
   


The Battle of Lake Erie proved one of the most resounding triumphs of the War of 1812. The victory secured control of the lake, forcing the British to abandon Fort Malden and retreat up the Thames River. Harrison's army pursued, decisively defeating the small British army and its allied Indian force on October 5, 1813 at the Battle of the Thames. And later, during the peace talks, the dual victories of Lake Erie and the Thames insured that the states of Ohio and Michigan would remain the sovereign territory of the United States of America.
 
 Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial and a modern replica of the Flagship Niagara at Put-in-Bay, Ohio, during the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial celebrations over Labor Day weekend.


The blogger at Put-in-Bay for the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial, wearing his "Don't Give Up the Ship" battle flag tie from Buffalo Jackson Trading Co.

Don't Give Up the Ship!


Additional Online Resources:
Fort Meigs: Ohio's War of 1812 Battlefield
Tecumseh

Recommended Books:
A Signal Victory: The Lake Erie Campaign, 1812-1813 by David Curtis Skaggs and Gerard T. Altoff
Perry's Lake Erie Fleet: After the Glory (PA) (The History Press)
 

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