Sunday, December 31, 2006

This Day in Jacobite History: Charles Edward Stuart Born in Rome - 31 December 1720

Prince Charles Edward Stuart as a young boy

Oran Air Breith a Prionnsa Tearlach *
(A Song upon the Birth of Prince Charles)

The tidings we have now received
Which are freshly come to the land
Have chased all my sorrow away
And left me both joyful and proud
No more are we going to be
Under subjection to George
Joy will come in the young Prince's time
Peace will be to the exiles restored

A Phoenix is born o'er in Rome
A tale of great joy in its time
May he who the King's right maintains
Have strength and justice and aid
Fortune's wheel will yet turn again
And the man who's aloft will fall low
The man who is climbing will rise
And the other to earth will fall down

Neptune does promise for him
A sea as smooth as the land
And Aeolus is ready always
For him keeping his favoring winds
Mars with his sword in his hand
Will give victory wherever he be
The herbs with their delicate leaves
Give honor in their own abodes

A change will come o'er barren lands
No thorn on the ground but will fade
Every hill will be laid in smooth rigs
And wheat will grow on the hillsides
Contention no more shall we own
Since the root that won't grow is consumed
There's the corn-field now cleansed of its weeds
Which did hinder the growth of our crop

Another tale that I'll not hide
The woods will put leaves o'er our heads
The earth will yield crops without stint
The sea's fruit will fill every net
Herds will give milk everywhere
And honey on straw-tops be found
Without want, unstinted, forever
Without storms, but every wind warm

* This is an English translation of a Gaelic song written in honor of the birth of Prince Charles Edward Stuart

On this day 286 years ago - 31 December 1720, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (known later to history as "Bonnie Prince Charlie") - grandson of the last Stuart King to sit on the thrones of England and Scotland, King James II and VII - was born in exile in Rome.

The Baptism of
Prince Charles Edward Stuart

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
This Day in Jacobite History: Mary Queen of Scots Deposed - 24 July 1567

This Day in Jacobite History: The Battle of Killiecrankie - 27 July 1689

This Day in Jacobite History: Death of Queen Anne; George, Elector of Hanover, Becomes King - 1 August 1714

This Day in Jacobite History: Proscription Act Introduced, Banning Tartan and Carrying of Weapons - 1 August 1747

This Day in Jacobite History: Latin Mass Outlawed in Scotland - 11 August 1560

This Day in Jacobite History: Raising of the Jacobite Standard at Glenfinnan - 19 August 1745

This Day in Jacobite History: Marriage Ceremony of James Francis Edward Stuart and Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska - 1 September 1719

This Day in Jacobite History: Death of King James II and VII - 16 September 1701

This Day in Jacobite History: Charles Edward Stuart Arrives in Edinburgh, Proclaims His Father Rightful King - 17 September 1745

This Day in Jacobite History: Lochaber No More - 20 September 1746

This Day in Jacobite History: Charlie Stuart's Finest Hour, the Battle of Prestonpans - 21 September 1745

This Day in Jacobite History: Birth of King James II and VII - 14 October 1633

This Day in Jacobite History: Charles Edward Stuart's Entry into Derby, England - 4 December 1745

This Day in Jacobite History: Jacobite Retreat from Derby - 6 December 1745

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Feast of St. Thomas Becket - 29 December

From the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:
St. Thomas Beckett
Also known as Thomas a Beckett; Thomas of Canterbury
Murdered in 1170 in the Cathedral at Canterbury, England

Canonized: 1173 by Pope Alexander III

Commemorated: December 29

Patronage: clergy, Exeter College Oxford, Portsmouth England, secular clergy

In art, he is shown as an archbishop with a wounded head; archbishop holding an inverted sword; archbishop kneeling before his murderers; archbishop being murdered in church; crosier with a battle-axe head at the top

St. Thomas of Canterbury (1118-1170)
"The Murder of Becket" by Alfred Duggan
"St. Thomas Becket" by Todd Drain

He was born in the city of London in 1118. His family name of Becket was rarely used by his contemporaries, to whom he was Thomas of London or Archbishop Thomas. His father was a Norman knight, Gilbert, who had become a prosperous merchant in London; his mother was also Norman, and he had at least two sisters, one of whom later became abbess of Barking. To his mother he owed his early piety, a devotion to our Lady, and generosity to the poor. From boyhood upwards he was richly endowed by nature. He was tall, handsome and vigorous, with dark hair, pale complexion and a prominent nose; his sight and hearing were unusually keen, he had a remarkably retentive memory, and he was a master of extemporary speech and debate. As a boy he was devoted to field sports and as a young man his energy, his practical ability and his initiative were more evident than his wisdom or his judgment. After a schooling at Merton priory and Paris he became, at twenty-one, financial clerk to a relative in the city, but after three years he was taken into the household of Theobald, the Norman monk-archbishop of Canterbury. The young Thomas gradually made his way upwards by his charm, his generosity and his adaptability. He was ambitious, and refused no opportunity of advancement or preferment, he enjoyed display and activity, but all are agreed that his life both then and at all times was absolutely pure. The archbishop gave him the post of archdeacon, and he seemed to be following the normal career of an able ecclesiastic when, at the age of thirty-six, he was recommended by Theabald to the young King Henry as chancellor.

Henry II was a man of very great ability and energy with a genius both for leadership and for organisation; at the same time he was self-willed, imperious, and passionate, wholly unspiritual and bent on gaining control of every power in his kingdom. Thomas the chancellor, who then and always had a personal affection for Henry, devoted all his efforts to serve and please the young king. Accepting all the wealth that came his way, he spent it lavishly on entertainments, on rich clothes and plate and on hunting, hawking, and even on martial exploits but he never failed to work hard and prudently in the king's interest, and there is evidence that he felt a secret dissatisfaction with himself and his worldly life.

In 1163 Theobald died, and the king secured the election of his friend, confident that he would serve all his interests. Thomas resisted, and warned the king that he might regret his choice. Then he accepted the office, and with what seemed a sudden change he became an austere and spiritual man, devoted to the interests of the church, the faithful servant of the pope. It was not long before the clash with the king occurred. Henry was resolved to reassert all the rights which had been claimed and exercised fifty years before by the Conqueror and his sons. Since that time, however, the papacy had established the claim of the church to control matters such as the trial of clerics and the excommunication of offenders, and had asserted its right to hear appeals and decide all cases. Again and again the archbishop and his king were in conflict, and affairs reached a crisis when the king demanded assent to the Constitutions of Clarendon (1164), which were an assertion of all the customs of the past that were now contrary to the law of the church and the practice of the papacy. Thomas hesitated, and for a moment gave way, thus breaking the solidarity of the bishops in their resistance. Then, at a council at Northampton in 1164 he reasserted his opposition and in face of threats of death or imprisonment, broke away by night and crossed to France to seek the pope.

For the next six years the archbishop was in exile in France, while he and the king and Pope Alexander III wrangled and discussed in an endeavor to settle the controversy and restore peace to the church in England. The issue was clouded for contemporaries by the mistakes and even the faults of the archbishop, by the ability and plausibility of the king, who had in some respects a strong case, and by the unwillingness of the pope to go to extremities with a powerful monarch. Meanwhile Thomas, at the abbey of Pontigny and elsewhere, gave himself to penance and devotion in what may be called a 'second conversion' from piety to sanctity. Finally, after a war of denunciations and excommunications, and a series of abortive conferences, an uneasy peace was patched up in the last months of 1169 and Thomas returned in triumph to Canterbury. Almost at once, the king in France, exasperated by the archbishop's refusal to withdraw some censures, let slip words which were taken to be a command, or a permission, to kill the archbishop as a traitor. Four knights crossed the Channel, and on the afternoon of December 29th appeared in the archbishop's hall intent on picking a quarrel. Thomas met them with dignified argument, but refused to budge from what he declared was justice and obedience to the pope. The knights retired in fury and donned their armor, while the archbishop entered the cathedral, refusing to allow the doors to be locked. The four knights rushed upon him in the north aisle and tried to drag him from the church. He resisted, and they cut him down with their swords. His last words were: 'I accept death for the name of Jesus and for the Church.'

The murder shocked the conscience of all Europe; miracles were announced immediately at the tomb; the archbishop was canonized as a martyr by Alexander III in 1173; the king did public penance at his tomb, and much of what St Thomas had striven for was secured by his death. Canterbury became a place of pilgrimage second only to Rome and perhaps Compostella, and churches were dedicated to St Thomas in all countries, even in the remote Iceland. That Thomas gave his life for the freedom of the church is certain; more than four centuries later, another Henry, another St Thomas, and another archbishop of Canterbury drew the moral in their different ways. That he was a man to whom all would apply the word 'great' is also clear. He was no doubt a son of his age--the age of crusades and of the Norman conquerers--alike in his magnificence, his carriage and his austerities, but those who have seen in him only an ambitious, violent and headstrong prelate have failed to allow for the gentleness and devotion that were always part of his character, and for the real and profound conversion of his later years. Had he died a natural death in 1170 he would not perhaps have been acclaimed as a saint, but in his last years and months he prepared himself by his fortitude and zeal for truth and justice, for the heroic assertion of the rights of the spiritual power which led to his martyrdom.

Courtesy of Catholic Information Network (CIN)


More on St. Thomas Beckett at:

Becket Resource Site
Becket Texts
Patron Saints Index
Catholic Encyclopedia
Catholic Online
Medieval Sourcebook: Edward Grim's "The Murder of Thomas Becket"

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Feast of the Holy Innocents - 28 December

From the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:
Holy Innocents
(The children slaughtered by Herod when he tried to kill the infant Christ)

Also called Childermas

Liturgical Color: Red or Purple
Commemorated: December 28

Instituted: About 485, found in the Leonine Sacramentary together with the feasts of St. Stephen and St. John

Patronage: babies, children's choir, choir boys, foundlings, unbaptised children, aborted childen, children killed by violence

The Holy Innocents, Volume 13 #6
Not Suitable for a Disney Christmas, by Curtis Fahey

In many ways, the Christmas story is ideally suited for a Disney movie: shepherds watching their flocks at night, three Wise Men from the east guided by a star; a helpless infant in a stable. Yet there is one part of the story that is too grisly for Disney--the attempt of Herod the Great, described in a short but chilling passage in the Gospel of Matthew, to protect his earthly power from the threat posed by the newborn king. To this end, Herod murdered all Bethlehem boys two years of age and under.

The number of child-victims was long disputed, with estimates ranging from 14,000 (the early Greek church) to 144,000 (cited by many medieval authors). Such figures are obvious fabrications: most modern authorities place the number at between six and twenty-five. There is also uncertainty about the perpetrator. Herod the Great is now believed to have died four years before the birth of Christ. Yet these issues aside, there is no doubt that some children were murdered or that this event, linked by the Gospel writer to the birth of Jesus, made a profound impression on early Christianity.

By the fourth century the Holy Innocents, as they were called by the Roman church, were regarded as martyrs, their feast being celebrated in the Latin tradition on December 28. The cult of the Innocents, fashioned in part by St. Augustine, spread quickly and widely. In England (where their feast was called Childermas), the Venerable Bede composed a hymn in their honour, and in medieval Europe there was a tradition of a boy bishop officiating on their feast day.

Along the way, history was enriched. The fifth-century writer Macrobius related that when news of the murders reached Rome, Caesar Augustus, mistakenly believing that Herod's son Antipater (executed at about the same time) was among the victims, remarked, in a snide reference to Jewish dietary laws, "It is better to be Herod's hog than his son." Other tales concerned Herod. In his eighteenth-century
classic Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and other Principal Saints, Alban Butler recounted that Herod survived the murdered children only by a few days, and that on his deathbed his body was ravaged by a swelling cyst that "gnawed and consumed his bowels" before erupting into a "sordid ulcer, out of which worms ushered in swarms."

In addition to a lively historical narrative, the Holy Innocents acquired theological importance. Butler summed up the teaching of the church when he wrote that it was the "peculiar glory" of the children "not only to die for the sake of Christ, and for justice and virtue, but also in the place of Christ, or in his stead." In making their sacrifice, Butler asserted, the children gained eternal life, and, according to the church, the same is true of all who die in a state of innocence.

Historically, the reasons for the Innocents' appeal to the Christian imagination are complex. One reason obviously had to do with Herod himself who, it was thought, had been led by sheer ruthlessness to commit an act that was an object lesson in evil. Another source of the fascination with the Innocents lay in the Christian view of God's role in the world. Until modern times, mainstream Christianity maintained that God dictated the minutest details of each individual's earthly life. Nothing was by accident; everything was by design. The Innocents fitted nicely into this perspective and indeed reinforced it. The theological consensus was that their deaths had been ordained by divine providence to ensure the survival of the Son of God.

Though providentialism correctly placed God not at the periphery but at the centre of human life, its days are now past. And the case of the Innocents clearly demonstrates why. Who can now seriously claim that God had a hand in the killing of children? Yet the Innocents should not be dismissed along with the intellectual system that long interpreted them. After the providential veneer is peeled away from their story, essential truths remain. Humanity is indeed capable of great evil; Herods still walk this earth. God is with all of us, including children, as we suffer and die. And if Christianity means anything, it means that innocence and virtue are rewarded, though sometimes in a way beyond the capacity of our mortal minds to

These truths retain their power. Indeed, they are perhaps more powerful than ever as children die from hunger and war the world over in ever increasing numbers. Such children should be remembered, just as their predecessors in Bethlehem should be, each and every Christmas.

Curtis Fahey is an associate editor of Compass in Toronto.
My Comments:
May we remember especially on this day those innocents who have been slaughtered by abortion.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Big Day

"The Wren, the Wren, the King of All Birds, On St. Stephen's Day Was Caught in the Furze ..."

Celtic myth had it that the robin that was suppose to represent the New Year killed the wren which represented the Old Year during this time. Wren Boys blacken their faces and go from house to house asking for money to bury the wren. The money they collect is used to buy food and drink for the "wren dance" held on this night.

St. Stephen's Day honors the first Christian martyr, stoned to death shortly after the Crucifixion.

St. Stephen's Day is a national holiday in Ireland, but, the celebrations have little connection to the Saint.

In Ireland, St. Stephen's Day is the day for "Hunting the Wren" or "Going on the Wren." Originally, groups of small boys would hunt for a wren, and then chase the bird until they either have caught it or it has died from exhaustion. The dead bird was tied to the top of a pole or holly bush, which was decorated with ribbons or colored paper.

Early in the morning of St. Stephen's Day, the wren was carried from house to house by the boys, who wore straw masks or blackened their faces with burnt cork, and dressed in old clothes. At each house, the boys sing the Wren Boys' song. Such as:

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
On St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze,
Although he is little, his family is great,
I pray you, good landlady, give us a treat.

My box would speak, if it had but a tongue,
And two or three shillings, would do it not wrong,
Sing holly, sing ivy--sing ivy, sing holly,
A drop just to drink, it would drown melancholy.

And if you draw it of the best,
I hope in heaven your soul will rest;
But if you draw it of the small,
It won't agree with these wren boys at all.

Sometimes those who gave money were given a feather from the wren for good luck. The money collected by the Wren Boys was used to hold a dance for the whole village.

There are different legends about the origin of this custom. One is that St. Stephen, hiding from his enemies in a bush, was betrayed by a chattering wren. The wren, like St. Stephen, should be hunted down and stoned to death. Another legend holds that during the Viking raids of the 700's, Irish soldiers were betrayed by a wren as they were sneaking up on a Viking camp in the dead of night. A wren began to eat breadcrumbs left on the head of a drum, and the rat-a-tat-tat of its beak woke the drummer, who sounded the alarm and woke the camp, leading to the defeat of the Irish soldiers and the continuing persecution of the wren.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas from Our House to Yours

Joy To The World!

Feast of the Nativity - 25 December

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.

Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased its joy; they rejoice before thee as with joy at the harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, thou hast broken as on the day of Mid'ian.

For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

~ Isaiah 9:2-6

And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people;

For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"

~ Luke 2:10-14

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Mystery Plays

From the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:
Mystery Plays

Mystery play: one of three principle kinds of vernacular drama of the European Middle Ages (along with the miracle play and the morality play). The mystery plays, usually representing biblical subjects, developed from plays presented in Latin by churchmen on church premises and depicted such subjects as the Creation, Adam and Eve, the murder of Abel, and the Last Judgment.

During the 13th century, various guilds began producing the plays in the vernacular at sites removed from the churches. Under these conditions, the strictly religious nature of the plays declined, and they became filled with irrelevancies and apocryphal elements. Furthermore, satirical elements were introduced to mock physicians, soldiers, judges, and even monks and priests. In England, over the course of decades, groups of 25 to 50 plays were organized into lengthy cycles, such as the Chester plays and the Wakefield plays. In France a single play, The Acts of the Apostles by Arnoul and Simon Gréban, contained 494 speaking parts and 61,908 lines of rhymed verse; it took 40 days to perform.

The form in which the mystery plays developed contributed to their demise at the end of the 16th century. The church no longer supported them because of their dubious religious value, Renaissance scholars found little of interest in their great rambling texts, and the general public preferred professional traveling companies that were beginning to arrive from Italy. In England the mystery cycles and miracle plays were suspected of Roman Catholic tendencies and were gradually suppressed.

At their height, the mystery plays were quite elaborate in their production. In England they were generally performed on pageant wagons, which provided both scaffold stage and dressing room and could be moved about readily. In France and Italy, however, a production might take place on a stage 100 feet (30 m) wide, with paradise represented at one end of the stage, hell at the other, and earthly scenes between the two. The plays did not attempt to achieve unity of time, place, and action, and therefore they could represent any number of different geographic locations and climates in juxtaposition. Mechanical devices, trapdoors, and other artifices were employed to portray flying angels, fire-spouting monsters, miraculous transformations, and graphic martyrdoms.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Another Blogging Friend Calls It Quits

Blogging buddy Fidei Defensor of College Catholic has decided to call it quits. His thoughtful and intellectually stimulating blogging will definitely be missed.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts regarding College Catholic:
Young Catholics Who Can Flat-Out Write

College Catholic Experiences Radical Feminist Neo-Paganism

Going to Hell?

College Catholic On What Stinks in Denmark (Hint: the Problem Ain't With Cartoons)

College Catholic on The Triumph of the Culture of Death

College Catholic: Triumph of the Culture of Death, Part II

Triumph of the Culture of Death, Part III - The Encyclical of Death

Catholics and Guns

College Catholic's Predictions For 2006

Merry You-Know-What

Comedy Central's Anti-Catholic Christmas Programming

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Digest of Today's Posts (21 December 2006)

  • Favorite Christmas Recordings

  • Interesting Title for a Christmas Recording

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (20 December 2006))

    Favorite Christmas Recordings

    While I'm on the subject of Christmas music (see previous post), Amy Welborn had a post the other day about her favorite types of Christmas music.

    My tastes somewhat mirror Amy's. I favor medieval and renaissance Christmas music (both ecclesiastical and folk), with a preference for the musical traditions of the British Isles. Here are several of my favorite Christmas recordings, which I strongly recommend:
  • "The Christmas Revels" collection *

  • "The Earliest Songbook in England" by Gothic Voices

  • "Tydings Trew" by Lionheart ***

  • "Now Make We Merthe" by The Purcell Consort of Voices

  • "Thys Yool - A Mediaeval Christmas" by the Martin Best Ensemble

  • "Wolcum Yule" by Anonymous 4

  • "On Yoolis Night: Medieval Carols & Motets" by Anonymous 4 ***

  • "Bright Day Star: Music for the Yuletide Seasons" by The Baltimore Consort *

  • "A Waverly Consort Christmas - Christmas from East Anglia to Appalachia" by The Waverly Consort *

  • "Sing We Noel" by The Boston Camerata

  • "A Medieval Christmas" by The Boston Camerata

  • "A Renaissance Christmas" by The Boston Camerata

  • "A Baroque Christmas" by The Boston Camerata

  • "An American Christmas" by The Boston Camerata *

  • "Christmas Day in the Morning" by The Cambridge Singers

  • "The Bells of Dublin" by The Chieftains *

  • "A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols" by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge

  • Vivaldi's "Gloria" by Robert Shaw & the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus

  • And, for sentimental reasons, because I grew up listening to these:
  • "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by Vince Guaraldi

  • "The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole

  • "Christmas With Conniff" by The Ray Conniff Singers

  • * Highly Recommended (you really should get these)
    *** Very Highly Recommended (must buy)

    Interesting Title for a Christmas Recording

    While visiting Sam's Club today, I noticed that several Time-Life compilations of Christmas music were being offered for sale.

    There was a "A Treasury of Christmas", featuring classic Christmas standards by the likes of Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, etc. There was "A Country Christmas", featuring Christmas songs by Country and Western artists of yesterday and today. There was "A Classical Christmas", featuring classical music of the season.

    But the title that caught my eye was "A Christian Christmas", featuring contemporary Christian musicians.

    "A Christian Christmas"? As opposed to ...?

    Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    Digest of Today's Posts (20 December 2006)

  • Brownback’s Big Backer

  • Brownback: I Could Support Rudy

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (19 December 2006))

    Brownback’s Big Backer

    (Hat tip: Steve Dillard)

    Help of ex-pizza mogul could start a domino effect of fundraising for the Kansas Republican:
    WASHINGTON Domino’s pizza founder Tom Monaghan, one of the nation’s richest and most controversial Roman Catholic philanthropists, wants to deliver Sen. Sam Brownback to the White House.

    Monaghan is advising the 2008 presidential exploratory committee for Brownback, a longtime social conservative who converted to Catholicism a few years ago.

    Monaghan is expected to play a lead role in “Catholics for Brownback.” But, more important, his support and network is likely to spice up Brownback’s fundraising, which is currently regarded as the weakest part of the Kansas Republican’s candidacy.

    “He brings to the table recognition in the Catholic community,” said Marlene Elwell, a Michigan political activist who used to work for Monaghan. “It’s always positive to have a leader in a community endorse you.”

    “I hope he’ll help us in a number of ways, with people he knows around the country,” Brownback said. He downplayed their relationship, however, saying last week the two had seen each other “a couple of times, not on a regular basis.”

    Monaghan declined an interview request.

    The extent of Monaghan’s religious fervor could raise eyebrows among more secular voters.

    “In the Catholic community, he’s looked upon as kind of on the fringes,” said the Rev. Robert Drinan, a liberal Roman Catholic priest and former Democratic congressman who teaches at Georgetown University. “The world view is, ‘We have to get back to a Catholic civilization.’ They want to go back to a Christian society imposed from above. … It’s just another world they want to build.”

    Deal Hudson, a prominent conservative Catholic who knows Monaghan, said that Monaghan might see in Brownback — who cites “changing the culture” as a motivation for running — a kindred spirit.

    “Tom doesn’t want to be associated with anyone who’s going to compromise,” said Hudson, executive director of the Morley Institute for Church and Culture and a former adviser to President Bush on Catholic issues. “That’s why he’s getting behind Sen. Brownback. …

    “The message will be that Brownback meets the standard not just for what a presidential candidate should be, but also what a Catholic should be.”

    While a leader in the fight against abortion, gay marriage and indecency in entertainment, Brownback has said he hopes his interest in international human rights will attract voters who do not share his socially conservative views.

    My Comments:
    I hope this doesn't cost Sen. Brownback the support of the Fumare guys.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Brownback: I Could Support Rudy

    Sam Brownback Goes to Prison

    Pro-Life Senator Sam Brownback Says He'll Win GOP Presidential Primary

    Brownback Eyes 2008 White House Bid

    Students for Brownback

    Looks Like Feddie's Endorsing Brownback, Too

    Mr. Compassionate Conservative

    Sen. Brownback Files Bill Against Assisted Suicide

    Washington Post Profile on Sen. Sam Brownback

    USCCB Official Expresses Gratitude to Sen. Brownback for Hearings on Capital Punishment

    Senator Brownback Conducts Senate Hearings To Examine Pornography's Effects On Families, Society

    Will This Catholic Senator Be the Next President?

    Kansas Senator Brownback, Looking at Presidential Bid, Makes Faith the Bedrock of Campaign

    Brownback: I Could Support Rudy

    Disappointing, if true:
    More signs of shifts toward Rudy Giuliani in the social conservative camp. Admits fellow presidential contender Sam Brownback, when asked if he could swallow supporting Rudy as the ‘08 nominee: “Oh, I think so. I believe in a big tent party. I believe in a party that binds people together even though we don’t agree on all of the topics, and so I think I could do that.”

    Brownback then, of course, added: “But I think I’m going to be the nominee and not Rudy Giuliani.”
    My Comments:
    I suppose that one must demonstrate party loyalty if one is seeking a party's presidential nomination. But, I hope that Sen. Brownback recognizes (and as a candidate is willing to discuss) the implications for the pro-life/pro-family movement should Rudy Giuliani win the Republican nomination.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    For the Second Day in a Row, I Find Myself in the Uncomfortable Position of Agreeing With the DNC

    Meet the Next President: Giuliani Tops in Early GOP Polls

    Presidential Election Still 2 Years Away, But GOP Seems Intent on Self-Immolation

    The Conservative Case Against Rudy Giuliani In 2008

    Southern Appeal Takes on The Anchoress' Support for Rudy Giuliani's Presidential Aspirations

    Pro-Abort, Pro-Gay, Anti-Gun Republican Tops Pro-Abort, Pro-Gay, Anti-Gun Democrat in Recent Poll

    Four in 10 Republicans Would Not Find McCain an "Acceptable" Nominee

    Pro-Abort/Pro-Gay Republican Tops Pro-Abort/Pro-Gay Democrat In Presidential Poll - Who Cares?

    Pat Robertson Says Giuliani Would Be "Good President"

    Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    Digest of Today's Posts (19 December 2006)

  • Nurse’s Refusal to Assist in Abortion Leads to Hospital Policy Protecting Conscience Rights

  • Chilean Leader Sees "Emergency Contraception" as Justice Issue

  • Light Blogging Ahead
  • Nurse’s Refusal to Assist in Abortion Leads to Hospital Policy Protecting Conscience Rights

    CHICAGO, Illinois, December 19, 2006 ( - A nurse’s refusal to participate in the abortion of a baby with Down Syndrome led a Chicago hospital to develop a policy protecting the right of health-care workers to refuse on moral grounds, Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink reported yesterday.

    Mary Bauer was 48 when she decided to enter nursing, eventually taking a position in the obstetrics unit at a Chicago hospital. On her first day at work, she was told she would be participating in the abortion of a baby diagnosed with Down Syndrome, at 22-weeks gestation. Bauer refused.

    "I just told them, ‘I can’t take that patient. I’m very pro-life. I cannot participate in any way, shape or form. I just can’t do it, so I need an alternate assignment," Bauer told CitizenLink.

    Fearful that she would lose her position, Bauer investigated Illinois law and discovered two statues protecting health-care workers who object to participating in medical procedures on moral grounds.

    She told her co-workers at the hospital they had the legal right to refuse to assist in abortions.

    "They never knew they had a choice," Bauer said, "and they said, ‘We’ve never had a choice. We always thought this was part of our job and we had to do it.'

    Bauer said before she began her legal search, she asked friends for prayers. Those prayers were partially answered when the hospital adopted an official policy that protected staff from dismissal if they refused to participate in procedures on moral grounds.

    The unborn child with Down Syndrome eventually died through abortion, however, despite Mary Bauer’s efforts on the baby’s behalf.

    See coverage from CitizenLink:

    Chilean Leader Sees "Emergency Contraception" as Justice Issue

    From Catholic World News:
    Dec. 19, 2006 ( - Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet has called her government’s program to distribute abortion-causing emergency contraception as a matter of social justice, despite the outcry from Chile’s political and Church leaders who say the program violates parental rights and is the first step to overturning Chile‘s constitutional protections of unborn life. The New York Times reports that Bachelet, “a feminist physician who used to practice pediatric medicine at public clinics in poor neighborhoods,” has argued for the distribution of free abortifacient contraceptives because “not everyone is equal and not everyone has the same possibilities.” She claims her duty is “to guarantee that all Chileans have real options in this area, as in others.” The coalition government under Bachelet has legalized the “morning-after pill”, also known as Plan B, and has ordered state hospitals to provide these high-dosage contraceptives free on demand to girls and women over 14 years old. The government has pushed ahead despite objections from the Catholic nation’s conservative and religious leaders who point out the high-level hormones in emergency contraceptives cause an abortion by making the womb inhospitable to a newly conceived human embryo, and thus would violate Chile’s constitutional ban on abortion.

    (emphasis added)
    My Comments:
    Socialist leader seeks to undermine Chile's constitutional protections? Looks like Chile has elected Allende II.

    And Augusto Pinochet is still dead.
    (with apologies to Generalisimo Franco)

    Light Blogging Ahead

    Because of Christmas preparations and family time, blogging will be light for the next couple of weeks.

    Monday, December 18, 2006

    Conservatives' Grip on Key Virginia Court Is at Risk

    From The Washington Post:
    A growing list of vacancies on the federal appeals court in Richmond is heightening concern among Republicans that one of the nation's most conservative and influential courts could soon come under moderate or even liberal control, Republicans and legal scholars say.

    A number of prominent Republican appointees have left or announced plans to leave the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which has played a key role in terrorism cases and has long been known for forceful conservative rulings and judicial personalities.

    Republican concerns also are fueled by the pending Democratic takeover of Congress, as several of President Bush's 4th Circuit nominees were already bottled up in the Senate when Republicans ran it. From the GOP's perspective, the situation now will worsen.

    The 4th Circuit's rulings affect everyone who lives, works or owns a business in the area, which encompasses Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas. The court's influence also has been widely felt nationally, and the emerging battle over it is part of a broader struggle for control of the federal judiciary.


    Sunday, December 17, 2006

    Digest of Weekend's Posts (17 December 2006)

    Sunday, 17 December
  • A Message From a Life-Long Fan of the Dallas Cowboys to Terrell Owens ...

  • Gaudete!

  • Saturday, 16 December
  • Las Posadas (16-24 December)

  • Joanna Bogle on the Joys of Christmas Caroling

  • (Digest of Friday's Posts (15 December 2006))

    A Message From a Life-Long Fan of the Dallas Cowboys to Terrell Owens ...

    ... You stay classy, T.O.


    From the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:
    Gaudete Sunday, Third Sunday of Advent

    Liturgical Color:

    Themes & Motives: rejoice, joy, preparation, coming, glory, splendor, John the Baptist

    Introit, Philippians 4:4-6: Gaudéte in Dómino semper: iterum dico, gaudéte. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dóminus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. [Ps.lxxxiv: 2] Benedixisti, Dómine, terram tuam: avertisti captivitátem Jacob.

    Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men, for the Lord is nigh. Be not solicitous, but in everything by prayer let your petitions be made known to God. [Ps.] Lord, Thou has blessed Thy land. Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.

    Gaudete Sunday By Br. James Thompson, O.P.

    You have noticed the rose-colored candle in the Advent wreath, but do you know why one is rose while the others are purple? The color rose is only occasionally used liturgically, and it represents joy. Halfway through the otherwise muted season of Advent, we express the joyful aspect of anticipating the Lord's coming. You can hear the theme of joy and rejoicing throughout the readings and prayers in the Mass.

    The third Sunday in Advent was nicknamed "Gaudete Sunday" long ago. Gaudete means `rejoice!' in Latin, and is the first word in the Latin Mass for that day. If you look up the "entrance antiphon" in a missalette, you will see that it starts out: "Rejoice in the Lord always!" In the Latin that would read Gaudete in Domino semper! Today we usually sing an opening hymn rather than recite or chant the entrance antiphon, but the theme of rejoicing is no less conspicuous now on Gaudete Sunday than in the past.

    Is there a counterpart to Gaudete Sunday in Lent? Yes, there is. Halfway through Lent we celebrate what is traditionally called "Laetare Sunday." As in Advent, we take a mid-term break from the somberness of the season for joyous anticipation. Laetare Sunday also takes its name from the entrance antiphon of the day, whose first word is a Latin synonym also meaning "rejoice" or "be joyful." This is the other time you may see liturgical use of the color rose.


    Gaudete Sunday (full article available at):

    The third Sunday of Advent, so called from the first word of the Introit at Mass (Gaudete, i.e. Rejoice). The season of Advent originated as a fast of forty days in preparation for Christmas, commencing on the day after the feast of St. Martin (12 November), whence it was often called "St. Martin's Lent"-- a name by which it was known as early as the fifth century. The introduction of the Advent fast cannot be placed much earlier, because there is no evidence of Christmas being kept on 25 December before the end of the fourth century (Duchesne, "Origines du culte chrétien", Paris, 1889), and the preparation for the feast could not have been of earlier date than the feast itself. In the ninth century, the duration of Advent was reduced to four weeks, the first allusion to the shortened season being in a letter of St. Nicholas I (858-867) to the Bulgarians, and by the twelfth century the fast had been replaced by simple abstinence. St. Gregory the Great was the first to draw up an Office for the Advent season, and the Gregorian Sacramentary is the earliest to provide Masses for the Sundays of Advent. In both Office and Mass provision is made for five Sundays, but by the tenth century four was the usual nurnber, though some churches of France observed five as late as the thirteenth century.

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    Las Posadas (16-24 December)

    From the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:
    Las Posadas, (Spanish for "the inns")

    A Mexican Advent Novena of nine nights, culminating in the Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Cock, or "pre-dawn Mass" on Christmas Eve

    The first Christmas celebration in Mexico took place in 1538 when missionaries brought Roman Catholicism to the new continent. Instituted 1587, when Fray Diego Soria, prior of the convent of San Agustin Acolman, petitioned the pope for permission to celebrate Christmas Masses outdoors because the church could not handle the large numbers of people in attendance. The Rooster, in medieval symbology, stood for the Church and it's announcement of Christ's birth.

    Commemorated: December 16-24, Christmas Eve (Midnight Mass)

    Themes & Motives: Forgiveness and Thanksgiving

    "Feliz Navidad"

    "Las Posadas," the remarkable buildup to Christmas Eve, is perhaps the most delightful and unique Mexican tradition. Beginning December 16th, it commemorates the events in the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

    After dark, each night of the "Posada," a procession begins led by two children. The children carry a small pine-decorated platform bearing replicas of Joseph and Mary riding a burro. Other members of the company, all with lighted long slender candles, sing the "Litany of the Virgin" as they approach the door of the house assigned to the first "Posada." Together they chant an old traditional song and awaken the master of the house to ask lodging for Mary. Those within the house threaten the company with beatings unless they move on. Again, the company pleads for admittance. When the owner of the house finally learns who his guests are, he jubilantly throws open the doors and bids them welcome. All kneel around the manger scene or "Nacimiento" and offer songs of welcome, Ave Marias and a prayer.

    Now it's time of the "Pinata," refreshments and dancing. The "Pinata" is a pottery (or paper) container, brightly decorated and filled with candy and toys. It is hung from he ceiling or a tree. One by one, the children are blindfolded, turned around and instructed to strike the Pinata with a stick. Usually several attempts are made before the container is broken. Of course, when that happens, there is an explosion of goodies and a scattering of children.

    On Christmas Eve another verse is added to the Ave Marias, telling the Virgin Mary that the desired night has come. Small children dressed as shepherds stand on either side of the nativity scene while members of the company kneel and sing a litany, after which the Christ Child is lulled to sleep with the cradle song, "El Rorro" (Babe in Arms).

    At midnight the birth of Christ is announced with fireworks, ringing bells and blowing whistles. Devout worshipers surge into churches to attend the famous "Misa de Gallo" or "Mass of the Rooster." Following Mass, families return home for a tremendous dinner of traditional Mexican foods. The dishes vary with the different regions. However, somewhat common are the "tamales," rice, rellenos, "atole" (a sweet traditional drink) and "menudo," which is said to be more sobering than strong coffee.

    Joanna Bogle on the Joys of Christmas Caroling

    Auntie Joanna writes:
    Yesterday I spent two hours singing carols at Victoria station. We're going to do it again next week, at Waterloo. I absolutely love it - it's one of the best parts of Christmas.

    You get crowds and crowds of people pouring through both these stations in the Rush Hour, and by singing traditional carols with great enthusiasm a number of useful things can be achieved:
    - you can cheer people up
    - you can convey some glorious Christian doctrine ("veiled in flesh the Godhead see - Hail the incarnate Deity" is my personal favourite - it comes in "Hark the Herald angels")
    - you can collect a lot - and I mean a LOT - of money for charity
    - you can sing at the top of your voice, and the accoustics are even better than when you sing in the bath
    - you can be part of what Christmas is really all about.

    Be sure to catch Joanna Bogle's "Feasts and Seasons" tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon at 5:00 p.m (Eastern Time) on EWTN.

    Friday, December 15, 2006

    Digest of Today's Posts (15 December 2006)

  • Congratulations to Father Dwight Longenecker

  • Rich Leonardi on the REAL 12 Days of Christmas

  • Catholics in the Public Square

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (14 December 2006))

    Congratulations to Father Dwight Longenecker

    Congratulations to Father Dwight Longenecker, who was ordained to the Catholic priesthood last night.

    Also, take the time to read Father Longenecker's poignant story about a South Carolina woman who helped lead him to Catholicism, even though the two never spoke about religion.

    Rich Leonardi on the REAL 12 Days of Christmas

    Head over to Ten Reasons to read Rich's post on the real symbolism behind the popular Christmas carol "The 12 Days of Christmas".

    Catholics in the Public Square

    Many readers may be familiar with the group blog, Catholics in the Public Square, which covers much of the same territory of Catholicism in politics and public life as does this blog. If you're not familiar with Catholics in the Public Square, you should be. It's lineup of outstanding bloggers includes Christopher Blosser (Against the Grain), Jeff Miller (The Curt Jester), David Schrader (Catholics for Bush), and Oswald Sobrino (Catholic Analysis).

    And now, yours truly. The hosts have been kind enough to invite me to participate in cross-posting at Catholics in the Public Square and to join in the collective blog. I am honored to accept their invitation.

    Not to worry. My posting at Catholics in the Public Square will be only an occasional thing (as it is with the other bloggers who post there), so I will not be neglecting my blogging duties here at Pro Ecclesia * Pro Familia * Pro Civitate. I will continue to update this blog at the same pace to which readers have become accustomed.

    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Digest of Today's Posts (14 December 2006)

  • New Novel: The Shepherd's Prayer

  • Virginia Catholic Alliance Live Blog: Jeff Caruso of the Virginia Catholic Conference

  • A "Silent Night" as Carolers Told to Stop Singing at Skating Show

  • Sam Brownback Goes to Prison

  • South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson in Critical Condition

  • Ohio Lawmakers Override Governor's Gun Bill Veto

  • Raleigh Independent Weekly Reviews "Guadalupe" and "Apocalypto"

  • (Digest of Tuesday's Posts (12 December 2006))

    New Novel: The Shepherd's Prayer

    I just received an emailed notification from Brian Walsh of The Maximus Group regarding a new novel - The Shepherd’s Prayer - written by Catholic author Richard Barry and revolving around the birth of Jesus Christ:
    A young man orphaned as a baby sets off to discover the truth about the circumstances of his birth, the fate of his parents, and his heritage. Having been raised in a culture where bloodlines mean everything, he seems forever condemned to live as an outsider on the fringes of society until he discovers his true heritage. His only clue is a cryptic message on a lambskin blanket about a child born in a stable in Bethlehem. Who is this mysterious child? And what could such a child have to do with his own birth and destiny?

    Virginia Catholic Alliance Live Blog: Jeff Caruso of the Virginia Catholic Conference

    Shaun Kenney is hosting the first ever Virginia Catholic Alliance live blog at 10:00am on Tuesday, 19 December. His guest will be Jeff Caruso, Executive Director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, and they are now taking questions. (click here) Here's a few things that the Conference will be taking up in the new legislative session:

  • Prohibiting state funding for embryonic stem cell research
  • Abortion clinic regulations
  • Increasing the minimum wage
  • Providing state assistance to parents whose children attend non-public schools for the purchase of their non-religious textbooks
  • Preventing minor's access to pornography. (Arlington's Bishop Loverde just wrote an excellent pastoral letter on the subject.)

  • If you're a Virginia Catholic blogger, and you're interested in joining the Virginia Catholic Alliance, just shoot an e-mail to Stephen Braunlich at Although I no longer reside in the Commonwealth, the Alliance was kind enough to invite me to become an honorary member.

    A "Silent Night" as Carolers Told to Stop Singing at Skating Show

    From Associated Press:
    RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A high school choir was asked to stop singing Christmas carols during an ice skating show featuring Olympic medalist Sasha Cohen out of concern the skater would be offended because she's Jewish.

    A city staff member, accompanied by a police officer, approached the Rubidoux High School Madrigals at the Riverside Outdoor Ice Skating Rink just as they launched into "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" and requested that the troupe stop singing, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Thursday.

    Cohen, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist and 2006 U.S. National Champion, had just finished her performance at the rink on the downtown pedestrian mall, and was signing autographs.

    Choir director Staci Della-Rocco said she complied with the request "because a policeman told me to stop. I didn't want to have a big old huge scene in front of my kids," according to the newspaper.

    The city staff member, special-events employee Michelle Baldwin, could not be reached for comment. City Development Director Belinda J. Graham confirmed the incident.

    "This request was simply made by a staff member who was attempting to be sensitive to the celebrity guest, without considering the wider implications ... or consulting with her supervisor for guidance," Graham said in an e-mail to the newspaper.

    Mayor Ron Loveridge called the incident "unfortunate."

    "You kind of wish people do a little checking first. You certainly have my apology," he said, referring to the choir members.

    A spokeswoman with the New York-based PR firm that helped promote the event said Cohen did not make the request to silence the singers.
    My Comments:
    PC nonsense. Let's offend an entire choir of high school kids so as not to take the chance that one celebrity MIGHT be offended.

    UPDATE (15 December)
    Here's the Catholic League's take on the story:
    December 14, 2006


    Catholic League president Bill Donohue released these remarks today on the latest round of anti-Christmas incidents:

    “Like most Jews, Olympic skater Sasha Cohen is not offended by Christmas carols. But that didn’t stop a government employee from trying to protect her. While Cohen was skating at a rink in Riverside, California, a high-school choir started singing ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,’ immediately sending Michelle Baldwin into orbit. She summoned a cop and got him to institute a gag rule: he ordered the choir to stop singing. Baldwin maintained that because Cohen was Jewish, she would be upset by the carol. But she never bothered to ask the skater if she objected. As it turns out, Cohen couldn’t have cared less. As usual, those who say we must be careful not to offend non-Christians at Christmastime are the ones who object to Christmas—not those whom they falsely claim to represent.

    “Like Baldwin, Sandra Byrne, principal of an elementary school in Delray Beach, Florida, has a need to show how inclusive she is. That’s why she has no Christmas tree, nativity scene or menorah in her office. Instead, her spot is adorned with teddy bears wearing sweaters. Moreover, only ‘winter parties’ and ‘winter celebrations’ are tolerated. ‘We’re very careful about this,’ she says. No doubt she is.

    “Here’s another example of anti-Christmas fever. In a Detroit suburban school district, they’ve instituted a quota system on religious songs that can be sung at school concerts. That’s right, only 30 percent of the songs at Howell Public Schools can be religious. It’s not certain whether the choir director will be fined or imprisoned if a multicultural monitor finds that 31 percent of the songs are religious. We recommend incarceration.

    “After Pope John Paul II visited Cuba in 1998, Castro made a good-faith gesture by allowing Cubans to celebrate Christmas again. Maybe we should hire Fidel to talk to these madmen.”

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Seattle Airport Christmas Debacle

    Naughty or Nice

    Breakfast With Santa Banned

    Christians See "War on Christmas" Momentum Shift

    Catholic League Announces "2006 Christmas Watch"

    "Nativity" Ban Called "Most Blatant" Form of "Religious Discrimination"

    Christmas Banned From Christmas Festival

    Marines Would Rather Needy Children Go Without This Christmas Than Receive a Jesus Doll

    Best Buy Bans Use of "Merry Christmas"

    Wal-Mart: We're Not Afraid to Say Merry Christmas

    Court Okays Anti-Christian Discrimination - Allows Jewish and Muslim Symbols, but Not Christian Ones, in Public Schools

    University Administrator Declares Christmas "Forbidden"

    Massachusetts School District Cracks Down on Christmas

    Merry You-Know-What

    "Silent Night" Secularized (Wisconsin Elementary School Changes Lyrics)

    "Merry Christmas" School Lunch Menus Recalled

    I Celebrate Christmas

    Jewish Groups: Okay to Say "Merry Christmas"

    Catholic League: Wal-Mart Joins Neo-Puritan Left In Banning Baby Jesus' Birthday

    Operation Nativity

    Sam Brownback Goes to Prison

    Chuch Colson writes:
    Believe it or not, it’s less than fourteen months until the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Thus, there’s hardly a potluck dinner or a PTA meeting in either state that won’t be graced by the presence of at least one would-be presidential candidate.

    Even in the era of the “perpetual campaign,” there are some places where you don’t, however, expect to find possible presidential candidates. One of them used to be inside a prison.

    I said, “used to be,” because Senator Sam Brownback (R) of Kansas, who has established a presidential exploratory committee, wasn’t in Iowa or New Hampshire this past weekend—he was in Louisiana. Specifically, he was in Angola, Louisiana, the site of one of America’s most famous—or infamous—prisons.

    Brownback spent the night in a 7-by-10-foot cell. He called his night “a little rough,” adding, “I didn’t sleep the best.”

    Obviously, Brownback didn’t spend the night at Angola for the accommodations. Nor did he do it as some kind of campaign stunt. As he put it, “There aren’t probably a lot of votes for me here.”

    What was there was an opportunity to “promote religious-based prison efforts to curtail violence and provide inmates with an alternative to crime once—or if—they got out.”

    Brownback told reporters, “We don’t want to build more prisons in the country [and] we don’t want to lock people up. We want people to be good, productive citizens.”

    Ironically, on the same weekend that Brownback spent a night in prison promoting faith-based programs, the New York Times published a grossly misleading attack on the InnerChange Freedom Initiative. The contrast between competing visions of the common good couldn’t have been more stark: The Times ignores real-world results in order to maintain its slanted version of separation of church and state. Brownback, while also committed to this separation, insists that it doesn’t require the “removal of faith from the public square.”

    Not unless your goal, that is, is to build more prisons.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Pro-Life Senator Sam Brownback Says He'll Win GOP Presidential Primary

    Brownback Eyes 2008 White House Bid

    Students for Brownback

    Looks Like Feddie's Endorsing Brownback, Too

    Mr. Compassionate Conservative

    Sen. Brownback Files Bill Against Assisted Suicide

    Washington Post Profile on Sen. Sam Brownback

    USCCB Official Expresses Gratitude to Sen. Brownback for Hearings on Capital Punishment

    Senator Brownback Conducts Senate Hearings To Examine Pornography's Effects On Families, Society

    Will This Catholic Senator Be the Next President?

    Kansas Senator Brownback, Looking at Presidential Bid, Makes Faith the Bedrock of Campaign

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    South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson in Critical Condition

    From Cybercast News Service:
    ( - Prayers for Sen. Tim Johnson's speedy recovery are coming from his fellow senators and constituents, after the South Dakota Democrat was rushed to the hospital and later into surgery on Wednesday. Full Story

    Ohio Lawmakers Override Governor's Gun Bill Veto

    From Cybercast News Service:
    ( - For the first time in nearly three decades, the Ohio Legislature has voted to override a governor's veto. However, the new law outgoing Gov. Robert Taft tried to kill, which establishes a statewide standard for the concealed carrying of firearms, is likely to be challenged in court by the mayors of Ohio's largest cities, where most guns are banned. Full Story

    Raleigh Independent Weekly Reviews "Guadalupe" and "Apocalypto"

    (Hat tip: Catholic World News)

    A Raleigh, NC newspaper compares the movies:
    ... In Apocalypto, Mel Gibson has a similar fixation with a kind of science-iness, taking surface verisimilitude (such as the tattoos, hair and body art in Apocalypto) to an astounding degree. Gibson also seems to agree with the historical worldview behind Guadalupe in regarding pre-Columbian cultures as, if not inherently violent, then as civilizations where blind elites have spiraled homicidally out of control. Tacitly or not, both films suggest that, no matter what harm they might have done, Conquest and conversion at least put an end to the gruesome violence of a particular pre-Christian lifestyle.

    Where the films clearly differ is in their sensibility, and when it comes to religious shock and awe thrillers, the Catholic Church could use more of Gibson's savoir faire. Where Apocalypto doesn't shy away from gore on the open hand, Guadalupe prefers the reaction shot. When Juan Diego shows his radiant tilma to the Bishop, the camera doesn't let viewers participate in the big reveal. Instead, it cuts back and forth between the shaken faces of the witnesses. This is one way to save money on special effects, to be sure, but it also accords with ancient decorum in the matter of how to teach morality through art. However, like the ancients, Gibson understands the lure of showmanship: Deathbeds are just not as much fun to watch as arenas of human blood sport.

    What is worth watching in Guadalupe, much like the details of everyday life in Gibson's potboiler, is documentary footage slipped into the modern storyline: Scenes of actual pilgrims on their way to the Basilica, the most visited Marian shrine in the world, a womb-shaped sanctuary where the tilma hangs, and villagers committing feats of daring in the Virgin's name, hanging themselves upside-down from a tall, maypole-like device and letting their bodies spool earthward. That kind of faith is far more contagious than mysticism with footnotes. It's a hobbled faith that needs shoring up by medieval ballyhoo dressed up in the trappings of modern science. Faith is not the stuff promulgated by institutions (or movies perhaps), it is born of the needs and customs of people on the ground. The Jewish character gets it when he explains why he, too, is a Guadalupano: "In Mexico, who isn't?"


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