Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday 2017

 I will begin my Black Friday by begging alms on behalf of some of God's most vulnerable children, my friends at Emmaus Home in Philadelphia. Emmaus Home is truly a home for adults with intellectual and cognitive disabilities. Anne and Larry have created a loving, nurturing environment for the special needs adults there, combined with music and art therapy and lovely outings.  Please visit their blog, Today at Emmaus Home, which they hope will bring the good work of Emmaus Home to the attention of those who would like to help by praying  and/or donating their time or money. The adults there are people whom some would want to institutionalize but at Emmaus Home they have a chance for a well-rounded and happy life. Please donate HERE. And follow the adventures at Emmaus Home on Twitter and Facebook!
      


 
As many of you know, in my spare time I make all-natural face creams and have recently created a facial cleanserPlease do visit my online shop to learn more about the creams which make great gifts. I have also begun a health and beauty blog with information about skincare.  All products are sold with free shipping from now until Christmas! 

 I wish everyone a safe and blessed Thanksgiving weekend. And with Advent coming, let us remember that books make wonderful gifts!
 
 The Paradise Tree: A Novel
 
 “With this marvelous immigrant saga, Elena Maria Vidal reminds us why our forebears left the Old World for the New: for Faith, family, and freedom! Through three generations of an Irish clan in Canada, she invites us into their home for struggle and triumph, celebrations of joy and sorrow, music, feasting, and dancing. The Paradise Tree makes ‘the past and present mingle and become one’ for the reader’s great delight.” ~Stephanie A. Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation

“Elena Maria Vidal’s latest book, The Paradise Tree, is the fictionalized true story of the author’s devoutly Catholic ancestors who immigrated to Canada from Ireland. It is filled with rich detailed history recounting the hardships and joys of the 19th century O’Connor Family. Beautifully written with great attention to historical, geographical and religious accuracy, this fascinating and moving family saga is a treasure that I highly recommend!” ~Ellen Gable Hrkach, award-winning author of In Name Only and four other novels

"An Irish immigrant builds a new life in Canada, the decades marked by marriage, children and the odd otherworldly encounter....An imaginative, meticulously told history that will especially appeal to those with Irish roots." ~ from Kirkus Reviews

"This is a stunningly lovely book, the perfect thing to get lost in for an afternoon." ~from the San Francisco Book Review (starred review)

"...Historical fiction at its best" ~D.Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

The Paradise Tree does what good novels should. It tells us a story, it shows us what it means to be human—replete with the triumphs, sadness, and conflicts entailed in being human—while whisking us away to another world that is not our own. For 232 pages we are extracted from our lives and into the lives of the O’Connor family. We root for them. We feel their hardships. We feel their connection and disconnection as a family while we are shown a distant time and place, filled with potentially unfamiliar folkways. In the end we are pleasantly reminded that the O’Connors’ story is just as much ours as we traverse the familiar territory of faith, family, and love, and how we still find ourselves dancing in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.~ The Portland Book Review

"Vidal does an excellent job of demonstrating the lifeline that the Catholic faith becomes for the O'Connor family and how it binds them together in the toughest of circumstances." ~Savvy Verse and Wit

"Weaving fact with fiction...realistic and stirring. An emotional tale of hardship, struggle to survive...with vivid descriptions of life in that place and time period. This book will appeal to those that like a good historical fiction story with depth and new beginnings." ~Just One More Chapter

"Vidal was able to write about devout Catholicism in a way that Protestants and other non-Catholics could follow." ~West Metro Mommy Reads

"The Paradise Tree by Elena Maria Vidal is a sweeping tale of an Irish-Canadian family that I happily dare to mention in the same breath as Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind" ~ from Back Porchervations

"As we journey through the years of the O'Connor family the author brings alive the joys, triumphs, struggles, and sorrows in such a vivid way that often you feel as though you are experiencing them yourself." ~Peeking Between the Pages

"Despite the sadness of many of the scenes, there is great charm in the lively portrayal of a family filled with love of learning and poetry. The hope of eternal life sustains Daniel, his wife and children through many tragedies.  Joy continually mingles with sorrow." ~Cross of Laeken

"The Paradise Tree is one of those books that made me feel happy and secure while reading even though some really terrible things happened to the family. I always had the sense that they would persevere and thrive. The Paradise Tree is a sweeping family saga that I will be suggesting to my friends and family. It was such an enjoyable book."~A Book Geek

"The people in the story felt so real to me and almost like they could have also been my ancestors."~Book Drunkard

"I loved the historical perspective that Elena Maria Vidal presented in The Paradise Tree: A Novel. It was interesting and informative to learn about the Irish. Vidal's writing was engaging and the story was filled with heart, soul, family loyalty, history, and unexpected twists and turns. I enjoyed this beautiful story and recommend it." ~Book Nerd

"Whoever you are, wherever your people came from, and whatever you enjoy doing with your free time, I don’t hesitate for a moment to recommend purchasing Elena Maria Vidal’s latest historical fiction novel The Paradise Tree." ~Lear, Kent, Fool

"A good historical fiction novel takes you back in time and presents the good, the bad and the ugly in a manner that informs and clarifies. A great historical fiction novel goes beyond that to lift up your soul as the heroes and heroines overcome obstacles both man made and natural. The result is the reader is left open jawed amazed and transformed. This book is a great historical fiction novel. I wept with them, I laughed at them but most importantly, I felt privileged to be invited to gaze inside their paradise tree." ~Stephen's review of The Paradise Tree on Goodreads

 
 Purchase The Paradise Tree HERE.  


Trianon: A Novel of Royal France

 

"What distinguishes this short and readable book from others is Vidal's examining their lives in light of their Catholic faith in a country that, until the Revolution, was the 'eldest daughter of the Church.'" ~Mike May, Pittsburgh Magazine

 "Exhaustively researched and yet completely accessible for those who wish to understand the events from a very personal perspective." ~Genevieve Kineke, Canticle Magazine

"Through the tragedy and the violence, the genocide and the thousand petty cruelties, Trianon remains, resolutely, a novel of hope." --Gareth Russell, author of Popular and The Emperors

"It's very refreshing to see fiction that strays away from the popular view of Marie Antoinette. Vidal has done extensive research on the royal family and it truly shows." ~Anna Gibson at Reading Treasure

"For me, reading Trianon was like the Heavens opening up and hearing the angels sing.  It's the 'be all and end all' of all things Antoinette." ~Book Drunkard

"A master of storytelling, the author makes you laugh and cry, right along with the characters. A true masterpiece, I rank this book along with the great Classics." ~Wilsonville Public Library Blog

"Be prepared to learn history as it should have been told. You will experience their life, their love, their faith, for you have never known them as you will after reading this book...Be prepared to be moved beyond belief." ~Enchanted by Josephine 

"Elegantly written, it is, quite simply, a heart-wrenching account of the trials and martyrdom of the king and queen of France, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette." ~Christine Niles, radio host of Forward Boldly

 
 

Purchase Trianon HERE.


Madame Royale: A Novel

 

 


"An unforgettable portrait of a royal life... Madame Royale is a fantastic tribute to one of Europe's most tragic, but courageous princesses." ~Gareth Russell, author of Popular and The Emperors

"The...backdrop of this heartrending story is that none of us can choose the circumstances into which we are born, and yet those...circumstances are the very proving ground of virtue, our own gymnasium of charity." ~Genevieve Kineke, Canticle Magazine

"Vidal gives us a gripping portrait of a woman whose personal destiny is enmeshed with the convulsions of the French Revolution and European history." ~Catherine Delors, author of For the King and Mistress of the Revolution

"In Trianon, faith gives the King and Queen the courage to face death; in Madame Royale, faith gives their daughter the courage to face life. Marie-Thérèse's story is truly one of bloodless martyrdom." ~Cross of Laeken

 

Purchase Madame Royale HERE.


The Night's Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars

 
 
"From the first page, Vidal draws the reader into a vibrant world of action and emotion. Raphaelle de Miramande is an engaging young heroine, bravely facing physical and moral dangers and dilemmas in search of truth and love. Vidal's novel captures the spirit of the Middle Ages." ~Stephanie A. Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival

"A harrowing and engrossing journey." ~Catherine Delors, author of Mistress of the Revolution and For the King

"The novel illustrates how easily and insidiously the abhorrent becomes desirable, the selfish honorable when individuals seek nothing beyond the fulfillment of their own desires, a message perhaps even more relevant today than it was centuries ago." ~Julianne Douglas, Writing the Renaissance 

"Elena Maria Vidal has been gifted with an eye for historical detail, an energetic imagination, an elegant writing style, and a keen and informed faith, all of which blend attractively together in this her latest work." ~Christine Niles, radio host of Forward Boldly

"In the first chapter the setting, plot, and all the main characters are all well-established....The novel moves on, mixing history and drama, at a good pace. Raphaelle is caught up in several major dilemmas; we can truly sympathize with what she is going through." ~Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller, blogger


Image source
 Purchase The Night's Dark Shade HERE.

Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars: Her Life, Her Times, Her Legacy
 

Here is a quote from a letter I received from a reader in Belgium: "I immediately began to read, and I really love your style. I love the way you tell us stories about Marie Antoinette and how you put yourself in these stories. This way of writing deeply touch me because it is very personal and it's like...comfortably sitting by the fire and listening." Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars is available internationally from Amazon.com. Share

The Sexual Revolution Has Turned Ugly

Actually, the sexual revolution has always been ugly; it has just reached another phase. Now the Revolution is destroying its own children. From Crisis:
The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with other revolutions, it is not because the revolutionaries enjoy broad popular support; it is because civic and religious leaders are confused, divided, and cowed into silence. Those whom one expects to impose some order on all this—conservative politicians, religious leaders, civil libertarians, journalists, scholars—are either hiding under the table or signaling their virtue by themselves fanning the flames of a hysteria that they show no interest in trying to understand.

Even as one hysteria—the campus “rape epidemic”—is finally exposed as a hoax by the common sense of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, another breaks out over Harvey Weinstein and others (and still others) emerge almost daily. The commentariat from the left to the right is either diffident or so intoxicated with sanctimony that they are unable to write about it critically. Yet once we strip away the obfuscating jargon and ideology, it becomes very clear what is going on. For there is nothing new about the sordid behavior. All that is new—and all that makes it newsworthy—is that it has been politicized.

To begin with, there is not, and never has been, any epidemic of “sexual harassment,” “sexual assault,” “domestic violence,” or the rest. It is not that deeds associated with these terms do not happen; the terms themselves are ideological constructions designed to create hysteria and mean nothing. There are, and always have been, criminal statutes in place to protect women (along with everyone else) from violent crime. There have also long been civil provisions to protect them from sexual pressure from superiors in the workplace. Anyone experiencing either of these offenses can readily file charges or complaints. And no, there is certainly no longer any “stigma” against doing so, if there ever was. (Read more.)
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Made-up Quotes

From the Brisbane Times:
France's Queen Mary-Antoinette is forever associated with the dismissive "let them eat cake". As the story goes, it was the queen's response upon being told that her starving peasant subjects had no bread. Because cake is more expensive than bread, the anecdote has been cited as an example of Marie-Antoinette's obliviousness to the conditions and daily lives of ordinary people. It would in later histories be quoted to illustrate the callousness and indifference of the upper classes in pre-revolutionary France.But there is no record of her having uttered the words. While the first known attribution was in an 1843 book by Alphonse Kerr – that is, half a century after the French Revolution – a similar quotation appears in the works of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, written in about 1765, and attributed to "a great princess". It's unlikely it was Marie-Antoinette, who was just nine at the time.

 There is, however, evidence that such a quotation, expressing scorn as much as ignorance, has an even longer history, with seventh-century Chinese chronicle The Book of Jin attributing to Emperor Hui (259-307), when told his people were starving because there was no rice, the words: "Let them eat meat."French philosopher Voltaire, hailed as the great champion of free speech, continues to be quoted as saying: "I don't agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." A great quote, to be sure, but Voltaire never said it. It comes from a 1906 biography by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in which it was intended to represent a summary of his thinking on free-speech issues. (Read more.)
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Thursday, November 23, 2017

The True Story of Thanksgiving

Squanto, the pilgrims and the pope. (Via Esther.) To quote:
The Puritan Pilgrims were not always considered the survivors of religious persecution American history made them out to be. Writer, H.L. Mencken described Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” And G.K. Chesterton once famously remarked:
“In America, they have a feast to celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims. Here in England, we should have a feast to celebrate their departure.”
(Read more.)
Capitalism made Thanksgiving possible. From Red State:
 Once Governor Bradford provided each family with a private portion of land, and allowed each family to keep the vast majority of the fruits of its own labor, prosperity came to the Colony. The starvation and stagnation of the first two years in the new world were reversed when freedom came flooding in. Gone were the days of the sluggards, who sought to survive off the sweat of their neighbors. In were the days of industrious self-reliance, which brought a rising tide to lift all boats. The real meaning of Thanksgiving is that the LORD of Providence provides for His people. The sub-theme, however, is that He used freedom to provide for those in need. The Apostle Paul had it right when he told the early church: “if a man will not work, he shall not eat” I, for one, believe that these words of Paul are just as inspired as the others that he preached. (Read more.)
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What Did 17th Century Food Taste Like?

From Res Obscura:
What can we learn about how people ate in the seventeenth century? And even if we can piece together historical recipes, can we ever really know what their food tasted like?

This might seem like a relatively unimportant question. For one thing, the senses of other people are always going to be, at some level, unknowable, because they are so deeply subjective. Not only can I not know what Velázquez's fried eggs tasted like three hundred years ago, I arguably can't know what my neighbor's taste like. And why does the question matter, anyway? A very clear case can be made for the importance of the history of medicine and disease, or the histories of slavery, global commerce, warfare, and social change.

By comparison, the taste of food doesn't seem to have the same stature. Fried eggs don't change the course of history.

But taste does change history. (Read more.)
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The Holy Week Breviary Used by Marie-Antoinette in Prison

Even as people continue to scrutinize old letters under a microscope, searching for the least word or phrase that would indicate a love affair between Marie-Antoinette and Count von Fersen, evidence of the Queen's fervent Catholic faith continues to surface. Soon to be auctioned in Paris is the Office de la Semaine Sainte en Latin & en François à l'usage de Rome et de Paris. Dédié à la Reine pour l'usage de sa Maison. Paris, Veuve Mazières & J. B. Garnier, 1728. In English, it is translated as follows: Office of Holy Week in Latin and French According to the Usage of Rome and Paris. Dedicated to the Queen for Use in Her Household. La Reine mentioned in the title was Marie Leszczynska, the grandmother of Louis XVI and Madame Elisabeth; the volume bears her coat-of-arms. The book was bequeathed to Madame Elisabeth, whose cause for beatification has been introduced, when the old Queen died. The princess brought it with her to the Tuileries when the Royal Family were taken to Paris by force in October of 1789. Madame Elisabeth left it behind when fleeing from the palace in August of 1792 but later sent a secret communication to her lady-in-waiting, Madame de Sérent, to smuggle books to her in the Temple prison, including the Holy Week Office. The Royal Family made use of the book not only during Holy Week but throughout the year, reading aloud the words of the Mass every day. According to Beauchesne's biography of Madame Elisabeth, the Queen and Madame Elisabeth were sewing and listening to the fifteen-year-old Madame Royale read to them from the Office of Holy Week, when the guards came to take away the eight year-old Louis XVII. Later, when the Queen was taken to the Conciergerie for her final ordeals, the prayer book went with her. To this day the book opens easily to certain pages, including p. 310, which has the passage:
Scarcely is he [Jesus] raised to the sight of all these people, that he is insulted, and charged on all sides with curses and reproaches. In the end, he makes one last effort to raise his eyes to Heaven: My Father, he exclaims, forgive them, I pray you, because they know not what they do.
A guard at the Temple gained possession of the book after the Queen's death, and it later came to the great nephew of Louis XVI, Henri d'Artois, the Comte de Chambord. Read more, HERE.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mesmerizing Translucent Waves

I love ocean paintings. From My Modern Met:
The late 19th century Armenian-Russian painter Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky created some truly spectacular paintings of seascapes that capture the beautiful, shimmering essence of the tumultuous waters. The marine artist gained recognition for his impeccable ability to recreate the expressive quality of oceans with over half of his 6,000+ paintings from his lifetime being devoted to the subject.

What separates Aivazovsky's seascape paintings from others is his ability to replicate both the intensity and motion as well as the translucency and texture. His energetic waves and calm ripples are equally effective. Aivazovsky also plays with colors, simulating the effects of sunlight filtering through the waters to present an ethereal quality that imitates a sort of magical realism. There's something absolutely stunning about the painter's ability to skillfully emulate the emotional connection to the coastal scenes that translates centuries later. (Read more.)
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Syriac (Christian) Sutoro Fighters

Please read about the unsung heroes who risk everything to protect the weak and vulnerable. Chivalry is not dead. To quote:
Sutoro was formed in the Kurdish city of Qamishli in March 2013 to protect Christians and other religious minorities. They are a close Ally of the Kurdish YPG Forces and are Fighting side by Side against ISIS. Sutoro received the military training in the training camps of the YPG. The Christian religious symbols, various forms of the cross and Jesus’s name tattooed on the hands and arms of these young fighters signify their strong determination and willingness to fight for their ethnic and religious rights. “I have the name of Jesus tattooed on my arm so I can never lie about my faith if I’m captured alive by the enemy and fear may overcome my bravery.” (Read more.)
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