31 October 2017

A Christian EU?

Reblogged from Theodore Harvey's Royal World, by permission.

As a monarchist who rejects the Italian, German, and French republics in principle, I'm not especially sympathetic to conservative arguments (though Metropolitan Hilarion has also made comments favorable to monarchy) that the European Project was founded by Devout Christians but only later went off track. Alcide De Gasperi, Theodor Heuss, Konrad Adenauer, and Robert Schuman were not acceptable substitutes for legitimate Christian kings. At a personal level, they remind me of the sort of people I used to argue with on Catholic forums who were dismissive of my monarchist beliefs. That they would probably be appalled by what the EU has become today doesn't mean their sort of "conservatism" wasn't part of the problem. That Western Europe, including its republics, was a superficially decent enough place to live during the second half of the 20th century (I'm not so sure about today) doesn't make the catastrophic political changes of the first half acceptable. France, Portugal, Germany, Austria, and Italy shouldn't _have_ presidents, no matter how "conservative" or "Christian." They should have kings. We can't bring the dead of the World Wars back to life. But we can rebuild buildings, and we can restore monarchies, and we should never give up on the real Europe which is Royal as much as it is Christian.

Just a Bit of Humour

Being that it is All Hallows' Eve, I thought I'd post this funny picture.


First snow of the year! There's an old folk belief that the date of the first snow will tell you how many days in the winter it will snow. Well, today is the 31st!

Just a shot of some damned Chinese elms (need to get out there with the clippers!) and dying vegetation in the flower garden.

The Euonymus atropurpureus, or burning bush, I posted a picture of a week ago last Saturday.

30 October 2017

The Europe We Want To Look Towards Tomorrow

H/T to Theodore Harvey of Royal World for the information and identifications.

Europe's young royal heirs, with France added. (Luxembourg was presumably omitted in hopes that Her. GD. Guillaume & Stephanie will have children. Luxembourg is currently the only European monarchy without a direct heir under the age of 25. All the others but Liechtenstein have direct heirs born in the 21st century.)
Upper row: Prince George of Cambridge (22 Jul 2013), Infanta Leonor Princess of Asturias (31 Oct 2005), Prince Louis Duke of Burgundy (28 May 2010), Princess Estelle of Sweden (23 Feb 2012), Prince Christian of Denmark (15 Oct 2005).
Lower row: Princess Ingrid of Norway (21 Jan 2004), Her. Prince Jacques of Monaco (10 Dec 2014), Catharina Amalia Princess of Orange (7 Dec 2003), Prince Joseph Wenzel of Liechtenstein (24 May 1995), Princess Elisabeth Duchess of Brabant (25 Oct 2001).

Kyrie Eleison!

I own a prayer book, the Jesus+Mary+Joseph Novena Manual, imprimatured by His Excellency Francis J. Mugavero, D.D., Bishop of Brooklyn on 5 August 1975, well after the close of the Second Œcumenical Council of the Vatican. In that prayer book occurs this prayer:
To Our Lady Help of Christians
«for loyalty to Holy Mother Church »
MARY, Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God and our Mother « thou seest how the Catholic Faith is assailed by the devil and the world « that Faith in which we purpose by the help of God, to live and die. To thee we entrust our firm purpose of never joining assemblies of heretics. Do thou, all holy, offer to thy Divine Son our resolutions, and obtain from Him the graces necessary for us to keep them unto the end. Amen.
Mary, help of Christians, pray for us.
Why am I posting this? Because that prayer expresses the unchanging teaching of the Church on dealings with heretical sects.

Tomorrow is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's rebellion against Catholic Truth and Unity, a rebellion that began Europe's and the West's long decline into the relativistic moral cesspit it is now. And how is the post-Conciliar Church treating this horrific anniversary? By celebrating it!

Around the world, with the active encouragement of the Pope and many hierarchs, Churches are holding joint celebrations with the Lutheran heretics, the founder of which sect once said, 
 I feel much freer now that I am certain the pope is the Antichrist.
And this is what that anti-Catholic, anti-Christ attitude of celebrating a heresiarch, who was also the debaucher of a Consecrated Virgin, leads to, Catholics praying Hail Mary removed by Police from Brussels Cathedral during "Reformation Celebration".

A group of Catholics, who actually believe in obeying the age-old teaching of the Church, decided to 'protest' the desecration of a Cathedral dedicated to St. Michael and St. Gudula, St Michael, of course, being the Prince of the Heavenly Host, tasked by God with fighting against the enemies of Christ's Holy Catholic Church. Their 'protest' took the form of simply kneeling to pray the Ave Maria in reparation for the sins being committed in this abomination. 

The response of the Cathedral staff, masquerading under the name 'Catholic' was to call the police and have these faithful Catholics physically removed from the Cathedral.

How long, O Lord, how long?

How Unobservant Can I Be?

I don't know how many times, since I moved to Wilber, I have walked up Wilson Street to St Wenceslaus. Going to Mass, going to the Church for a visit, walking to the Dollar General store through the Church parking lot, but it must have been dozens of times.

Yesterday, I got to Mass a few minutes early and I was standing outside, enjoying the warmer weather. As I stood looking at the Church, I suddenly realised that the small bit of ground in front was symmetrically landscaped! The entryway stands a bit out from the south end of the Church, and in each corner is a burning brush shrub, just like we have in our backyard. Then, there are identical flowers on both sides, and at each corner of the building, a rosebush, still blooming even tho' tomorrow is All Saints' Eve.

I mentioned this to my Other Half, but she reminded me that I have never been the most observant person!😁

Monarchists and Romanticism

Not romanticism in the sense of a philosophy of literature, but in the oft used sense of 'being a romantic' and believing in the impossible. Another video from my friend Charles Coulombe, this one a witty defense against the argument that monarchists believe in 'pie in the sky'.

An Absolutely Great Video

This young man has summed up in an excellent video what I have been arguing for 50 years! Remember, 'In fact, after having abolished the monarchy, the best of all governments, [the French Revolution] had transferred all the public power to the people - the people... ever easy to deceive and to lead into every excess'. - His Holiness Pope Pius VI.

29 October 2017

We Will Remember Them! Lest We Forget

Pictures of my Remembrance Poppies and my 'pin ribbons'. 

The top picture is of my Royal British Legion Poppy on my heavy jacket.

The bottom picture is of my lighter jacket. On top is another Royal British Legion Poppy and below that is a Royal Canadian Legion one. On the left ribbon, at the top of the ribbon are my membership pins in the Royal British Legion at the top of the triangle, below it to the left is a membership pin in the Royal British Legion (Scotland), and to its right the pin of a member of the Royal Canadian Legion. Below that is an enameled Poppy pin from the Royal British Legion. At the bottom is my membership pin from the Sons of the American Legion, and yes, I belong to all three!

On the right ribbon, at the top is a commemorative pin from the Royal British Legion of a Cross backed by Poppies, with the dates 1914-2014, for the centennial of the Great War. Below that, to the left, is an enameled American Legion Poppy pin. Next to it is a commemorative pin of an RBL Poppy bearing the dates 1914-2014. Immediately below those is a 'We Support Our Troops' pin from the Royal Canadian Legion. Below is another centennial Poppy pin bearing the dates 1916-2016. I wear the 1915-2015 pin on my cap, and I haven't yet gotten the 1917-2017 edition. And, finally at the bottom is a commemorative pin honouring the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

I wear these whenever the weather is cool enough to wear the light jacket. The actual Remembrance Poppies on both jackets will be retired on the evening of Remembrance Sunday, which this year, is the day after Remembrance Day.

God's Bounty

At every Mass, during the growing season, we pray for clement weather and sufficient rain for the crops. Now we're praying for good weather for the reaping, a good harvest, and a just price for the grain and for livestock. It seems God is answering our prayers. The harvest is in full swing and there is neither sufficient storage nor enough rail cars to transport the corn as it is brought to the Farmers' Co-op. Here's what they do. And, yes, those are full-sized pickup trucks, and that little dot to their left is a man!

The Feast of Christ the King

Today, in the General Roman Calendar of 1960, approved for use by Traditional Institutes such as the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter and other Traditional groups, is the Feast of Christ the King. In the General Roman Calendar of 1969, it has been moved to the last Sunday in Ordinary Time, a not insignificant change as we shall see. It was instituted by His Holiness Pope Pius XI, of Blessed Memory, in 1925 by his Encyclical Letter, Quas Primas.

Quas Primas was a a development of ideas going back to the Church Fathers, but concretely  presented earlier by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, and Pope Pius himself. Pope Leo had said in Annum Sacrum,
 His empire extends not only over Catholic nations and those who, having been duly washed in the waters of holy baptism, belong of right to the Church, although erroneous opinions keep them astray, or dissent from her teaching cuts them off from her care; it comprises also all those who are deprived of the Christian faith, so that the whole human race is most truly under the power of Jesus Christ. 
And Pope Pius had said in his Ubi arcano Dei consilio
 ...(A)s long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations.
A short comparison of the Rites: 

 The Collect from the Traditional Roman Rite:
Almighty and everlasting God, who in thy beloved Son, the King of the whole world, hast willed to restore all things: mercifully grant that all the families of nations, now kept apart by the wound of sin, may be brought under the sweet yoke of his rule.Who with thee liveth and reigneth, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
And for comparison, the Collect for the Feast from the Missal of Pope Paul VI:
Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
A pretty stark difference, eh? From all the nations of the world brought under the sweet yoke of Christ's rule to all of creation rendering service and proclaiming God's praise. The last time I checked, all of creation, except Man and the fallen angels, did all of that as essential to their nature.

With one exception the readings have been changed, as well. In the Traditional Rite, the Epistle is Col 1:12 - 20, and the Gospel is John 18:33 - 37. The Gospel from John survives in Year B in the three year cycle, Year A being Matt 25:31-46, and Year C, Luke 23:35-43

The point of these alterations, along with the change of date, seems to have been to remove the idea that Christ should reign as King today, the date being in the Time after Pentecost, in our hearts, our homes and families, in our societies, and in our nations, to be replaced with the idea that Christ will reign at the end of time, with the date on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time. over all creation. This, of course, removes the pesky idea that Christ is King, even now, over protestant. Muslim, Jewish, pagan, and atheist hearts, homes, societies and nations. That would be triumphalist and exclusionary!

And, by placing it on the last Sunday in October, it was deliberately placed close to 'Reformation Day', kept by many protestant churches on the same Sunday to celebrate the heresiarch Luther's rebellion against Christ's Holy Catholic Church.

The doctrine of the Feast is expressed very well in this prayer from Fr Stedman's Jesus+Mary+Joseph Novena Manual: 
 MOST SWEET JESUS! Come near to us, Thy children. Receive from our hands that crown which those who are but dust of earth, try to seize from Thee. Enter now in triumph among us, Thy fervent Lawmakers may break the tables of Thy Law, but whilst they lose their thrones and are forgotten, we, Thy subjects, will continue to salute Thee « Hail, Christ, our King! 
They have said that Thy GOSPEL is out-of-date, that it hinders progress, and must no longer be considered. They who say this soon disappear into obscurity and are forgotten; whilst we, who adore Thee, continue to salute Thee « Hail, Christ, our King! 
The proud, the worldly « those who possess unlawful riches « those who thirst for riches, honors and pleasures alone « declaring Thy moral law to be for past ages « will be hurled against the Rock of Calvary and Thy Church and falling, will be reduced to dust, and sink into oblivion, « whilst we, Thy followers, continue to salute Thee « Hail, Christ, our King! 
Those who seek the dawn of a material civilization, divorced from God, will surely die, poisoned by their own false doctrine, deserted and cursed by their own children « whilst we, who would console Thee, will continue to salute Thee« Hail, Christ, our King! 
Yes, hail to Thee, O Christ, our King! Put to flight Lucifer, the fallen angel of darkness, from our homes, schools and society « force him and his agents into Hell « chain him there everlastingly « whilst we, Thy friends, continue to salute Thee« Hail, Christ, our King!
Stedman, Fr. Joseph F.. Jesus, Mary, Joseph Novena Manual: The New Revised (Kindle Locations 935-952). Confraternity of the Precious Blood. Kindle Edition. 

An excellent explanation of the ideas and doctrines of the Feast of Christ the King may be read in Mr Michael Davies', 'The Reign of Christ the King'. This booklet is a transcript of the keynote speech at the Catholic Voice International Conference in Chicago in the early 1990s. I was also a speaker at the conference on the subject of Christ the King and Monarchism, so I got to hear Mr Davies deliver his speech, after having been privileged to have dinner with him the night before.

And for those who do not have access to the prayers and hymns of the Traditional Office of Christ the King, here is a 'Little Office' I compiled some years ago, based on the example of the approved Little Offices, such as the Immaculate Conception, St Joseph, and the Holy Angels.

28 October 2017

A Catholic Queen in India-The Story of Begum Samru

Being a retired Old Curmudgeon, I spend a good deal of my day surfing the 'net and watching educational videos on YouTube (OK, I admit it, sometimes I watch clips of cartoon shows!). The other day, in watching a non-cartoon video, I ran across a reference to someone called Begum Samru, mentioned as the only native Catholic Monarch India ever had. Who would have thought that in the late 18th-early 19th century there would be a Catholic ruler in India, excepting, of course, the French and Portuguese Kings? 

Portrait of Begum Samru

She was born a Muslim under the name Farzana Zeb un-Nissa. Her father died when she was six. She started life as a nautch girl in the court of the Raja of Bharatpur, but when she was 14, she married a Luxembourger named Walter Reinhardt, a mercenary who had begun as a private soldier in the French East India Company. By the time Farzana met him, he was a condottiero, leading a group of mercenary soldiers, offering their service to the petty princelings for use in their wars. Because of his sombre mien, the Europeans of his acquaintance gave him the sobriquet, 'Le Sombre', which later became pronounced by the Indians as 'Samru' or  'Sumru'.

Reinhardt was made Nawab of Agra, but in 1773 he was granted a large jagir (a feudal land grant) by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam II, and made the town of Sardhana his capital. Sardhana is in what is now the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh, in the northeast part of India, bordering on Nepal. 

When he died, five years later, his wife took command of his 82 European officers, 4,000 sepoys, and the Principality of Sardhana. She was called Begum Samru, begum being the female equivalent of beg or bey, Turkish for a high official.

Just 25, and standing just over 4'3" (1.3 metres), she was a formidable woman. Not only did she rule Sardhana effectively and efficiently, riding horseback, she led her troops into battle in a struggle to hold Sardhana. 

A guide book to the history of Sardhana says of her, 
“A favourite of the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II, Sumru is said to have saved his life twice and used the might of the sword and the lure of gold to win him supporters and fend off all his rivals. It earned her the titles of Zeb-un-Nisa (jewel amongst women) and Farzand-i-Azizi (most beloved daughter).”
Three years after her husband's death she converted to Catholicism, taking the baptismal name Joanna Nobilis and the surname Sombre from her husband's nickname. This is especially interesting because the English were rapidly becoming overlords of India through the Honourable East India Company, and Catholicism was still oppressed in England despite the Papist Acts in 1778, designed to lessen discrimination. Therefore, it would seem quite clear that this was not a 'conversion of convenience' to curry favour with the dominant power, but a conversion from the heart.

Prior to his death, her husband had expressed a desire to erect a Church in Honour of Our Lord and His Most Blessed Mother. In order to fulfill his wishes, she contracted the services of an Italian architect, Antonio Reghelini from Vicenza. Built in 1822 at the cost of 400,000 rupees, it was modeled on St Peter's in Rome with a touch of Andrea Palladio’s Italian architectural influence. It was dedicated to Our Lady of Graces. It remains a pilgrimage place to this day.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Graces

On 13 December 1961, Pope John XXIII granted the Church the title and dignity of a minor basilica. It is one of only 23 minor basilicas in India and the only one in northern India, most of the others being in the south where Christianity was planted by St Thomas the Apostle and strengthened by the Portuguese and French colonisers.

Her Palace in Sardhana is now owned by the Archdiocese of Agra and used as a school.

She also built a rather ornate palace for herself, in a suburb of New Delhi, now owned by the Bank of India.
Her Palace in New Delhi, after being damaged in the Sepoy Rebellion, 1857.

The back of the Palace, restored, as it exists today.

She is buried in the Church which she built. Memory Eternal!

27 October 2017

Food For Thought

And, yet the American people worship at the bloodstained altar of republicanism, preventing the restoration of monarchies even in other countries.

Remembrance Poppies

Today is the day that, in Canada, people start wearing Remembrance Poppies. Even tho' I live in the States now, I will be wearing mine. I wear an American Legion Poppy in honour of my Father, Perry Weismiller, PFC, Hq&Hq Sqdn, 8th USAAF, 1941-1945, and my Uncle Roy Wisemiller, Pvt, AEF, 1917-1918. I wear a Royal British Legion Poppy in honour of my Grandfather, Charles Albert Oxley, Gnr, Royal Field Artillery, 1914-1918, and a Royal Canadian Legion Poppy in honour of my Uncle, Charles Sluggett, Sgt, The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's), 1939-1945 and Korea.

The Ode of Remembrance
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.
Lest we forget! 

26 October 2017

On This Day the Thirteen Traitorous Colonies Were Declared to be in Rebellion

On this day 26th October 1775, King George III went before Parliament to declare the American colonies in rebellion and authorized a military response to quell the American Revolution.

On October 26, 1775, King George expanded on the Proclamation in his Speech from the Throne at the opening of Parliament. The King insisted that rebellion was being fomented by a "desperate conspiracy" of leaders whose claims of allegiance to him were insincere; what the rebels really wanted, he said, was to create an "independent Empire." The king indicated that he intended to deal with the crisis with armed force, and was even considering "friendly offers of foreign assistance" to suppress the rebellion. A pro-American minority in Parliament warned that the government was driving the colonists towards independence, something that many colonial leaders had insisted they did not desire.
Image of a scan of the Proclamation of Rebellion issued by King George on August 23, 1775.


25 October 2017

How Do People Become Monarchists?

A wonderful video from my good friend Charles Coulombe. My journey was quite a bit different. As I often joke, I was nine or ten years old before I figured out that HM Queen Elizabeth II did not rule the United States.!😄

It was natural. tho'. I also often say, quite seriously, that I drank in Monarchism with my Mother's milk. My Mother and her mother both were Hampshire women. My Gran had been kissed, as an infant, by HM Queen Victoria. My Grandfather had served HM King George V in the 1914-18 War. My first memory, outside our family, was on 6 February 1952 when we heard that HM King George VI was dead and that The Princess Elizabeth was now Queen.

On the other side of the family, my Grandmother Weismiller was born in Sweden during the reign of HM King Oscar II. She had two brothers, one named Oscar for the King reigning at his birth, and one named Gustav for the Crown Prince, later HM King Gustav V.

So, with the exception of a short period when I was in my early 20s and flirted with various forms of Leftism, there has never been a point in my life where I have not been a Monarchist. The only change is that from a visceral belief, I've come to hold a set of beliefs which I can defend intellectually.

Another Day

We had a brief respite from the coming of autumn today. It was over 70 F! However, the forecasts for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night are all below freezing, with colder temperatures each succeeding night. That will undoubtedly be the end of the few hardy plants that are hanging on, the kale, the brave rose by the alleyway, and the flowers by the walkway, the identity of which I have no idea.

I'm looking forward to colder weather. I enjoy winter. Having lived in Alberta, I love to tease people here in the Midwest by asking them what they would do if it ever actually got cold. Having survived, quite nicely, a walking paper route at minus 50 degrees, I laugh at the 'cold' here.

On the other hand, my Other Half hates the cold. She is extremely sensitive to it, and is uncomfortable at any temperature much below 60. I tell her that she just needs to learn to dress for it. She doesn't take kindly to my advice, pointing out that she's already wearing three layers in an attempt to stay warm.

I'm just glad I've always lived where there are well defined seasons. I love three of them, but summer I could do without!

24 October 2017

More Autumn Pictures

Whilst the asparagus is slowly succumbing to the autumnal chill-

-the kale keeps bravely marching on!

The Adventure of the Bread Machine

Recently, whilst we were visiting our children, our youngest son was kind enough to buy us an Oster bread machine at a thrift shop.

My first attempt at using it was a disaster, unlike the two beautiful, delicious loaves my Other Half has made. Of course, it would have helped had I not used three times the required yeast! I read Tbsp for tsp. It over rose, and then fell, so it was a misshapen lump when I took it out. It actually turned out edible. VERY crusty and yeasty, but edible. My Other Half had some soaked in the fresh tomato sauce she was cooking down, with shredded cheese on top, and I crumbled up about 1/4 of the 'loaf' in a gruel (soup) of vegetable stock, barley, and steel cut oats. I call my concoctions of that sort gruel, which she finds off putting. However, she tasted it and said it was actually quite tasty. 

As soon as the results of my abominable attempt are eaten, I plan on trying again, this time being very careful with reading the recipe!

Allegory in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings?

I was very pleased to find this essay, 'Is “The Lord of the Rings”' an Allegory?, by Mr Joseph Pearce, on 'The Imaginative Conservative'. As I read the title of it, I turned to my Other Half, and remarked that whatever the author of the essay and Professor Tolkien might say, The Lord of the Rings is, indeed, an allegory.

It seems my position is borne out by no less an authority than the good Professor himself. In a letter to Fr Robert Murray, S.J., he wrote 'The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.'

How could it be else? The man himself was a devout Catholic, indeed a Traditionalist, and his Faith informed virtually everything he wrote. The Nine Walkers depart Rivendell on their Quest to destroy the one Ring on the Feast of the Nativity, Christmas Day, in the year 3018 of the Third Age.

The Ring is destroyed on the Feast of the Annunciation, Lady Day, in the year 3019. Lady Day, 25 March, was, until Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar reform in 1732, the beginning of the new year. To reinforce this point, the beginning of the Fourth Age, according to the reckoning of Gondor, takes place two years later on 25 March, 3019.

These dates are not arbitrary. Professor Tolkien did not conjure them out of thin air. 

The entire trilogy is replete with allegorical allusions to the culture and society of the High Mediæval period, the Great Ages of Faith. The shire is the Professor's idealisation of the yeoman society of England during that time. Possibly the only thing that could have made it any more obviously a Catholic allegory would have been to engrafted the entire panoply of mediæval Catholicism on the tale, with Gandalf as a Bishop, etc.

Regardless of Professor Tolkien's distaste for 'allegory', clearly stated in the Preface to the second edition of the Lord of the Rings, 'As for any inner meaning or ‘message,’ it has in the intention of the author none. It is neither allegorical nor topical…. I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence', it is obvious to any Catholic reader, especially of a Traditionalist bent, that the story is chock full of allegory. I am glad Mr Pearce has written this essay to clarify the various ways in which 'allegory' may be defined, and in what way it quite obviously applies to one of the greatest works of Catholic fiction of all time.
As autumn progresses, there are still the hardy ones! A rose out by the alleyway, defiantly blooming!

23 October 2017

Community Supper

As I have pointed my Other Half is a vegetarian, and I eat very little meat at home. However, every Monday evening, our little town has a community supper, free and open to all comers. It's held in the Lutheran Church, about three blocks south of our house. My Other Half is not a very 'social' person, so she doesn't feel like joining me, but I walk down there every week. The menu varies widely, depending on who's responsible for cooking. Sometimes it's one of the local churches (there are three in town, the Catholic Church I attend, and Lutheran and Methodist), and sometimes it's a family who has volunteered.

Like most regular gatherings of this sort, people tend to congregate in little groups, each sitting at 'their own' table. I picked my table the first night, and I've started getting to know several people. One is Emil, a Korean War vet, and another is a retired barber who moved here a couple of years ago.

There is always meat on the menu! Tonight the main dish was green bean and hamburger casserole, with tater tots on top. And desserts! Tonight we had chocolate cake and cherry cobbler. Delicious!

Another perk of living in a small town!

A Walk on an Autumn Afternoon

I walked down to the pub today for a beer, and to restock my home supply in the refrigerator. We are at 60 F, and under a wind advisory. The trees are shedding their leaves, and they're blowing hither and yon. The sun is shining, so even with the wind it's comfortable, light jacket weather. It's a beautiful day in South East Nebraska!

An Excellent Video

A video from Men of the WestWhy Tolkien's Works Are So Meaningful- Building A World,              on one of my favourite authors, who just happened to be a Traditional Catholic. He was braver than I, tho'! When he attended the Mass of Paul VI in English, he would make the responses in Latin in a loud voice. I do so under my breath!

22 October 2017

Being a Catholic In Wilber, Nebraska

As is obvious from my profile to the right, I am a Traditional Catholic. I prefer the Mass and Sacraments as celebrated according to the approved liturgical books of 1962 and I recite the Roman Breviary as reformed by Pope John XXIII or the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin according to the Carmelite Rite in its last pre-conciliar recension.

However, since I no longer drive and the nearest Traditional Latin Mass is just a bit over 25 miles away, I am constrained to attend the Mass of Pope Paul VI. In the past, this has been a source of frustration and ofttimes anger for me, but now I'm blessed to live in the most orthodox Diocese in the US, the Diocese of Lincoln,  under our Bishop, His Excellency James Douglas Conley.

Many years ago, I had occasion to hear Mass in St Mary's Church, across the street from the State Capitol in Lincoln. After Mass, I approached the Celebrant and told him that in all the years I had been Catholic, I had never seen the Mass of Paul VI celebrated strictly according to the rubrics, or as Father Z would say by, 'saying the black, and doing the red'. Father replied that I could have attended any Church in the Diocese because that was just the way it was done under His Excellency Fabian Bruskewitz, the Ordinary at the time. A gentleman who overheard my remark said that Bishop Flavin, Bishop Bruskewitz's predecessor, had spent his entire time as Bishop building a wall around the Diocese and that Bishop Bruskewitz was adding to it brick by brick! I can honestly say that Bishop Conley is continuing the construction! And, we have St Gregory the Great Diocesan Seminary, envisioned by Bishop Flavin and brought to fruition by Bishop Bruskewitz. In a post-conciliar era of closing diocesan seminaries, as it says in the history of the seminary, 'It is the first free-standing diocesan seminary to be opened in the United States for many decades.'

We are, to my knowledge, the only Diocese in the US that does not allow girls to serve the altar or employ Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Boys serve the Altar, but they are never called 'acolytes', because assisting the Celebrant in the Sanctuary, and distributing Holy Communion, are mature men who are instituted acolytes, an official ministry in the Rite of Paul VI.

Not only are our Bishop and Clergy solidly orthodox, we also have an FSSP Parish in Lincoln offering the Traditional Latin Mass, the FSSP's Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton (the TLM that's 25 miles from me), and the Traditional Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, in Valparaiso.

So what does this mean for a crotchety old curmudgeon in a little rural town? Well, it means that when I go to Mass, I know that it will be straight from the book. When we have a visiting Priest, as we did today, I know that his Mass will be identical to my Pastor's Mass next week. For the first time in my Catholic life, I'm actually considering buying a Missal of Paul VI. In the past, I saw no reason to do so, since every Priest seemed to be making up his own Mass as he went along, no matter what was printed in the missal or what the rubrics said. Why invest in a missal if I couldn't even follow the Masses I was hearing?

It means that I can expect solid Catholic teaching in the homilies. We hear about sin, the necessity for confession, fasting, Holy Days of Obligation, Fatima, Consecration to Mary, the Rosary, etc. You know, all that stuff that got 'de-emphasised' after Vatican II.

It means I belong to a vibrant Catholic Parish, albeit a small one. We don't have 'coffee hour' every Sunday, but when we do, I don't plan on eating lunch! The preparation is taken on by Parish families in an alphabetic rotation. This morning, the Priest announced that there would be coffee and rolls after Mass. We did have cake, but I didn't see any rolls! What I did see in addition to the cake, was biscuits and gravy, a breakfast casserole of bacon, eggs, potatoes, and corn, a fruit salad, and a couple of dishes that I didn't sample. We did, however have coffee (and orange juice).

It means that when our Patronal Feast of St Wenceslaus, Patron of Prague, Bohemia and the Czech Republic, as well our little Parish in the Czech Capital of the US,  rolled around, we celebrated the External Solemnity the Sunday before since it was on Thursday this year. Our Mass was as 'High' as we could get. Extra servers, incense, and all sung. After Mass, we had a Eucharistic Procession through the town to the outdoor Czech Theatre, where Father offered Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. On the way to the theatre we prayed the Rosary in unison, and on the return trip we sang old, traditional hymns. After the procession, we adjourned to St Ludmila's Hall, our Church basement, named for St Wenceslaus' grandmother who taught him the Catholic Faith. There we feasted on a potluck! I can't even remember all the dishes we had, but the centrepiece was duck, dumplings and sauerkraut, a traditional Bohemian feast day meal.

It means that, for the first time since I left my FSSP Latin Mass Community over ten years ago, I feel at home in the Parish in which I attend Mass!

21 October 2017

The Vagaries of Diet

I was raised on a farm in Northeast Kansas. We kept cattle, hogs, and chickens. Every year, I helped butcher a steer and a hog. I also got to pluck the feathers of lots of chickens after Mum or my Grandmother chopped their heads off.  Most of the meat was taken into town to the cold storage locker, but Mum and Grandma always canned some beef, parboiling it, adding tallow, and sterilising the jars. That was just in case we got snowed in and couldn't make it to town! We rendered the pork trimmings into lard, and I got to eat a few of the cracklings, the very deep fat fried scraps of meat left after the liquid lard had been pressed out. We stuffed our own sausage in sheep guts we bought at the locker. It was smoked in a 55 gallon drum, and then hung in the 'big pantry', a large walk-in closet/small room off my bed room.

Needless to say, meat was a prominent feature of every meal! Breakfast would have bacon, ham, or sausage. Dinners (the noon meal on the farm) would have steak or pork-chops. Supper, in the evening, might contain some of the sausage that hadn't been stuffed into casings, along with sausage gravy, and the 'turnip kraut' my Mum made (just like sauerkraut, except made from shredded turnips). Sunday dinners, eaten after Church and the main meal of the day, were always the classic English 'roast and three veg'. Beef-roast or pork-roast with potatoes and a couple of other vegetables, often cabbage or brussel sprouts and carrots. The remains of Sunday's dinner made Monday's dinner, bubble and squeak, a hash made from the left over roast and vegetables.

After leaving the farm, I might have moderated my intake a bit, since I was no longer toiling in the fields and doing chores, but meat remained a large part of my diet. Then, in my early 20s, I became a Hindu. This, of course, entailed vegetarianism. The Hindu phase lasted only as long as I could resist the siren call of a good beef-steak, about six months! When I became a Catholic, in my 30s, Fridays became days of abstinence from meat, and a couple of years ago I decided to follow the old Carmelite precept of abstaining on Wednesdays as well. Good thing I like seafood!

Having returned to the omnivorous lifestyle, I've never looked back. Yes, there were times when good steaks were not exactly in my budget, but there were always cheaper cuts of roasts and fatty, cheap ground beef. As I've gotten older and lost most of my teeth, even when I could afford a good steak, I've had to pass on it, but there are always cube steaks, already sort of 'chewed'. and a good pork-chop can be cut into small pieces and successfully masticated.

Then, the Other Half and I reconciled after 13 years. In that interval, she had become (gasp!) a vegetarian! She has no problem with my eating meat or cooking it in the house, tho' she never did like fish, and she's asked me to only cook that when she's away. However, I like eating the evening meal with her, and I see no reason for the preparation of two different repasts. So, most of the time, I'm a vegetarian.

If we go out to eat, however, I have full rein and I run with it! Even if it's just a visit to the local Subway, I get a sandwich containing meat. Pizza, eaten out, means a half pepperoni or Canadian bacon pie. If I happen to be at the pub downtown during lunch except on days of abstinence, I might have the special, which always contains meat. And, on Monday evenings we have a community supper, free to all comers, which I regularly attend. There is always meat there!

What I miss the most is good South German/Czech dishes like duck, sauerkraut, and dumplings, sauerbraten, kubasa/kielbasa and rabbit. It's made doubly hard because not only do I live in the Beef State, and in the middle of hog country (there's a Smithfield pork processing plant about nine miles up the highway), I live in the Czech Capital of the USA, officially recognised as such by S.J.Res. 51 (100th), signed by President Ronald Reagan on 10 July 1987. We have two butcher shops/meat markets where all these meat products are readily available! Sometimes I get lucky. In August during Czech Days, our annual festival celebrating the town's Czech heritage, she told me to just eat downtown and get some good Bohemian food. I went to the dinner at the Wilber Hotel where I had duck, dumplings, kraut, and mashed potatoes, all washed down with a bottle of Czechvar from České Budějovice, Czechia! Also, on the External Solemnity of St Wenceslaus, the very Bohemian Patron Saint of my Parish, we had a potluck in St Ludmila Hall, the Church basement, named for St Wenceslaus' grandmother. There, I also got duck, dumplings, and kraut!

I am probably actually healthier for having cut most meat out of my diet, but I do not envision ever returning to strict vegetarianism!

Trigger Warnings Trigger Poetry

A story from the (UK) Independent, which 'triggered' (pun intended!) Euterpe to inspire a couple of my friends. 

Cambridge University students given trigger warnings for Shakespeare plays

Their inspired works:

From 'Jeeter',

To be triggered, or not to be triggered, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The perceived slings and arrows of outrageous words,
Or to get butthurt from a sea of micro-aggressions
And by entering our safe spaces, to snuggle with security blankies.

And from 'In His Love',

Alas, poor snowflakes!
I know of them, Fishies;
a group of fragile build
and childish goals.

Pictures on an Autumn Afternoon

Earlier I took Maximus Barker out to the yard. I realised that even tho' there's an autumnal chill in the air, not all the colour is gone! The first, however, is actually a tree/bush by the garage the leaves of which turn a deep, dark red before falling. I've discovered what this shrub is! It is a Euonymus atropurpureus, commonly called, in this region, the 'burning bush'. 
These are flowers growing by the walk by the house out to the front yard. Not being an expert horticulturalist, I have no idea what they are. I just know that they're a welcome splash of colour on a cool autumn afternoon.
After supper, we took Max for a run out by the river. On the south side of the road is a corn field ready for harvest.
And there's still colour in the country!

An abandoned mail box. I know it's abandoned, except by the wasps, whose nests I found inside!
A shot of the river, with the trestle of the old bridge that was washed out in a flood years ago. The County decided the crossing was no longer need.
Deer spoor in the dried mud at the side of the road. I'm guessing a large buck. There were tracks all down the side of the road, but most of them were doe or fawn sized.

And just for fun, a late afternoon shot of the Other Half's shadow, with the Old Curmudgeon in the distance!

The Household Canine

Yes, we have a dog. His daily name is Max, but I've been told that his actual given name is 'Maximus'. Because of his habit of barking at every rabbit or squirrel that he sees, or at at every mouse he hears in the walls, I've added a surname, 'Barker', because he's the greatest barker. I would swear that sometimes, too, he barks just to enjoy the sound of his own voice. He'll be in the back yard, just standing there when suddenly he gives tongue without there being anything, at least obvious to me, to bark at.

He's normally well behaved except for his barking, but he does have a tendency to try to 'herd' us, which is not surprising, since he's a boxer-border collie mix. If one of us is taking him out and we take too long to get his lead affixed to his collar, he'll get behind us and gently bump our legs in an effort to encourage us to get a move on.

He does, occasionally relax, as you can see above, but his greatest joy is running. In the yard, he's on a 25' lead, so he's limited, but when we take him out into the country, by the Big Blue, or the Clatonia NRD lake, and let him out, it's run, run, run, and run some more! 

The only exception is at the lake if there are hunters or target shooters about. He's gun shy, and at the first loud noise, he starts back to the car, obviously expecting us to follow. The period around the Fourth of July is very trying for him, as well. There is a walk in closet between our two bedrooms that he uses as a den in which to hide from loud noises. He headed in there last night. I assume there was a high school football game in progress, because I had taken him outside and I could hear the cheers from the field. Suddenly there was a loud boom, I would guess to celebrate a touchdown by the local team, and he was ready! Normally, when I'm bringing him into the house, he sort of saunters, checking things out and sniffing the air. Not last night! He was straining at his lead to get back to his den.

The only other time that he strains at his lead to come back into the house is when the Other Half returns from work. He's quite aware that as soon as the humans' meal is ready, he gets to eat. The way he goes crazy would cause you to think that he's starving, instead of being sleek, and well fed on a diet of commercial dry dog food and homemade rice and hot-dogs in bouillon broth! Saturdays are especially frustrating for him (and for us!). She comes home at 15h00 instead of the normal 17h00, so we are not yet ready to eat. Obviously, his watch is broken, because he's ready to eat the moment she walks through the door!

She had had him for two or three years before I moved in, but he has bonded with me quite well. The other night, she playfully swatted me on my bum with an empty cracker box. He immediately ran to make sure I was alright, and he does the same if he thinks I'm 'attacking' her.

All in all, he's a joy to have around, even if he can be a pest at times. Earlier this month, we kenneled him whilst we went on holiday to see the children and grandchildren. We returned a day early, so there was one work day that she was gone, and there was no Maximus in the house. It felt strange and lonely. He's relaxing beside my chair as I type this.

I'd not had a dog for almost 15 years since I had to have my beloved Sam put down, but I'm glad Max has come into my life. As St Bernard of Clairvaux said,  “Qui me amat, amet et canem meum. (Who loves me will love my dog also.)”