Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Greatest Showman

A wonderful family film. From Aleteia:
Now, if you are looking for an accurate biography of P.T. Barnum, the great circus promoter, businessman and politician, The Greatest Showman may not be your source. But if you are interested in a beautiful yarn, this musical delivers. In the film, P.T. Barnum was the son of a poor tailor who finds himself falling in love with the daughter of one of his father’s wealthy benefactors. Barnum was of a lower class than his love interest, but what he lacked in wealth he made up for in passion and imagination. The two would wed (to the great disappointment of her father) and Barnum would be haunted by a sense of ashamed inferiority for the rest of his life.

In short order, Barnum was married with two young daughters and out of work. He was enamored with exotic animals, daring feats and human oddities. As a result, he would take out a loan, hire a motley crue of medical misfits, animal handlers, trapeze artists and start up a circus. With astounding costumes, remarkable acrobatics, and the glee that can only come with the wonders of a circus, Barnum’s dreams come true. And with it comes a subtle sense of dignity for a fiercely outcast group of “freaks” now paid and lauded for their aberrations. But as his success would grow, Barnum would find himself torn in many unforgiving directions: a need for financial success to secure his family, a desire to outdo himself with bigger and better acts, and perhaps most unfortunately, a craving for respect from a higher class that Barnum felt couldn’t help looking down their noses at him. It’s as if his fervent desires become almost embodied in one of the peak songs from the opera singer, Never Enough. Ultimately, however, in the maelstrom of Barnum’s feverish desires, tragedy strikes. His family feels abandoned, his employees feel betrayed, his plan for acceptability falters and his circus is burned to the ground. This is where I saw the true magic of The Greatest Showman. (Read more.)
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Casting Out Demons

From Church Militant:
In Rome, exorcists-in-training are being primed for Muslim requests for the rite. At a Regina Apostolorum University conference on exorcism this week, veterans of the rite have instructed students to be ready for Muslims asking for spiritual help.           

Several speakers testified to their own experiences. Albanian Cdl. Ernest Simoni told attendees that over the course of his decades-long ministry, many Muslims have sought him out for help battling the diabolical. He said he honors these requests, noting that "Jesus came for everyone." (Read more.)
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The “Great Troublemaker”

From TFP:
In this twilight of mud and opprobrium, the whole world, sleepy and ashamed, is allowing itself to slide down the successive abysses of a gradual acceptance of Communism. However, in this panorama of general devastation, Cardinal Mindszenty has risen as the great nonconformist, the international troublemaker whose unbreakable refusal saves the honor of the Church and the human race. With the prestige of the Roman purple intact on his shoulders, this brave and selfless shepherd has shown Catholics that it is not licit for them to follow the crowds now bending their knees before Belial.

Thus, the admiring gaze of TFP members and volunteers and those in their sister organizations in the Americas and Europe turns to the illustrious cardinal, enthralled by his holy and intrepid attitude. The presidents of these entities have sent the former Archbishop of Esztergom (whose name, from the day he was removed and thus martyred, will share the same glory as that of Esztergom until the end of the world) a joint message that I am transcribing below. I am certain that countless readers would like to have signed it, many with their own blood or tears, the blood of their souls. (Read more.)
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Monday, April 23, 2018

St. George and the Dragon

But the knight, turning him about, bade her remain where she was, and went out to meet the dragon.
When it observed him approach, the beast was struck with amazement, and, having paused for but a moment, it ran toward the knight with a great swiftness, and beating its dark wings upon the ground as it ran.

When it drew near to him, it puffed out from its nostrils a smoke so dense that the knight was enveloped in it as in a cloud; and darted hot flames from its eyes. Rearing its horrid body, it beat against the knight, dealing him fearful blows; but he, bending, thrust his spear against it, and caught the blows upon his shield. 
~ Legend of St. George and the Dragon

The legend of St. George and the dragon was one of the most popular stories in the Middle Ages. St. George is generally believed to have lived in Asia Minor and to have suffered under the Emperor Diocletian. Ascalon, the sword of St. George, was celebrated by knights who took the martyred warrior as the patron of chivalry. While his name became the battle-cry of Merry Old England, St. George  was universally venerated in both the East and the West; in the Roman Church he was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

While we know there was indeed a martyr named George, how true is the account of his battle with the dragon? According to New Advent:
This episode of the dragon is in fact a very late development, which cannot be traced further back than the twelfth or thirteenth century. It is found in the Golden Legend (Historia Lombardic of James de Voragine and to this circumstance it probably owes its wide diffusion. It may have been derived from an allegorization of the tyrant Diocletian or Dadianus, who is sometimes called a dragon (ho bythios drakon) in the older text, but despite the researches of Vetter (Reinbot von Durne, pp.lxxv-cix) the origin of the dragon story remains very obscure. In any case the late occurrence of this development refutes the attempts made to derive it from pagan sources....

The best known form of the legend of St. George and the Dragon is that made popular by the "Legenda Aurea", and translated into English by Caxton. According to this, a terrible dragon had ravaged all the country round a city of Libya, called Selena, making its lair in a marshy swamp. Its breath caused pestilence whenever it approached the town, so the people gave the monster two sheep every day to satisfy its hunger, but, when the sheep failed, a human victim was necessary and lots were drawn to determine the victim. On one occasion the lot fell to the king's little daughter. The king offered all his wealth to purchase a substitute, but the people had pledged themselves that no substitutes should be allowed, and so the maiden, dressed as a bride, was led to the marsh. There St. George chanced to ride by, and asked the maiden what she did, but she bade him leave her lest he also might perish. The good knight stayed, however, and, when the dragon appeared, St. George, making the sign of the cross, bravely attacked it and transfixed it with his lance. Then asking the maiden for her girdle (an incident in the story which may possibly have something to do with St. George's selection as patron of the Order of the Garter), he bound it round the neck of the monster, and thereupon the princess was able to lead it like a lamb. They then returned to the city, where St. George bade the people have no fear but only be baptized, after which he cut off the dragon's head and the townsfolk were all converted. The king would have given George half his kingdom, but the saint replied that he must ride on, bidding the king meanwhile take good care of God's churches, honour the clergy, and have pity on the poor. The earliest reference to any such episode in art is probably to be found in an old Roman tombstone at Conisborough in Yorkshire, considered to belong to the first half of the twelfth century. Here the princess is depicted as already in thedragon's clutches, while an abbot stands by and blesses the rescuer.
The key to the legend of St. George is that it epitomizes the spiritual combat in which all Christians are engaged, on one level or another. As Fr. Blake explains:
I love saints like St George, whose true story is lost in myth. In both stories George becomes a Christian "everyman". The first legend reminds us that despite every attempt to overcome him by God's grace George endures and survives all, and even in death is victorious.
The second story draws on apocalyptic imagery, the dragon is the symbol of evil, the power of sin, but here it is to be contrasted with the pure virgin. I am reminded of St Athanasius' struggle for twenty years in the tomb against demons. In all of us there is the pure virgin and the dragon. George, here takes on the attributes of St Michael (Michael means "Who is like God"), in his struggle he overcomes evil which then becomes subject to purity.

More HERE.
 

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Your Culture is Toast

From The Maven:

Maybe it's time to start focus on teaching what happened in the past instead of Howard Zinn social activist history? I had just finished showing my history students the short, moving documentary Auschwitz: If You Cried, You Died that chronicles the return of two survivors, David Mandel and Mike Vogel, to the land of the dead, when I saw this story from the Washington Post:

Two-thirds of American millennials surveyed in a recent poll cannot identify what Auschwitz is, according to a study released on Holocaust Remembrance Day that found that knowledge of the genocide that killed 6 million Jews during World War II is not robust among American adults.
Twenty-two percent of millennials in the poll said they haven’t heard of the Holocaust or are not sure whether they’ve heard of it — twice the percentage of U.S. adults as a whole who said the same.
Asked to identify what Auschwitz is, 41 percent of respondents and 66 percent of millennials could not come up with a correct response identifying it as a concentration camp or extermination camp.
It makes me sick to my stomach to read that – not just because of my job as a history teacher, but more as a citizen who understands the truism that those who forget the injustices of the past are doomed to repeat them.I’m certainly conscious of the fact that not everyone gets into history and loves to read about and study it. I recognize that there is so much in the era of iPads and YouTube and social media to distract even the most well-intentioned among us. And I know that there is a great deal of misinformation that abounds in these “lessons from history.” (Read more.)
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A Lost Burial Site

From Royal Central:
The site of Christchurch Greyfriars, is a strange, haunting place, redolent of history. It is now a ruined, public garden and a popular place for Londoners to take their sandwiches for lunch. Long gone is the atmosphere of bells and prayer from the Middle Ages; although in an odd parallel to its previous use as a church, it manages to be a place of peace in the noise of the City and nearby Stock Exchange.

Greyfriars was historically unfortunate in suffering twice as a church both times that London burned; the first medieval, monastic church – which became a parish church following the Dissolution of the Monasteries – was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, the second, Wren church, erected on the old medieval foundations, fell victim to bomb damage during the Blitz. It is close to Wren’s magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral, in which the architect himself is eulogized by his own powerful tomb inscription: “Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you”.

Greyfriars was one of approximately fifty London churches which Wren did rebuild, whilst creating other splendid examples of his own, such as the great St. James’s Church in Piccadilly. History made circles, however, for on the night that Christchurch Greyfriars burned during the Blitz, eight other Wren churches were destroyed. One of the few objects that were recovered from the burning Christchurch Greyfriars was the lid of a wooden font, retrieved by an unnamed postman who ran in to save it. Fittingly, the ruins of Christchurch Greyfriars are near Postman’s Park. (Read more.)
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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Heart of Gold

Queen Anne with her patron saints
Of Anne of Brittany. From The Telegraph:
After Anne’s death in 1514, she was buried, as custom dictated, alongside other French royals in the Basilica of Saint Denis outside Paris. But to show that her heart belonged to Brittany, it was placed in her parents’ tomb at the chapel of the Carmelite friars in Nantes, in accordance with her wishes. As queen she defended the autonomy of Brittany, then a duchy linked by treaty to France and often referred to as “Little Britain”.

Reputed to be the richest woman in Europe, her hand was eagerly sought by many kings. In 1483, her father arranged for her to marry the Prince of Wales, Edward, but the young prince disappeared, presumed to have been killed by his uncle Richard III. She married Charles VIII of France in 1491, ascending the throne as queen consort at the age of 12. As he died without an heir in 1498, she married Louis XII a year later and became the only woman to be crowned queen of France twice. (Read more.)
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"If You Don't Agree With Me, You're a Racist"

From Townhall:
Yes, racism plays a central role in American history. Yes, there are still racists in America. But slandering white America in general for the crimes of a few bad apples is no better than slandering black America for the crimes of a few. If Yancy wants to deal with racist death threats, he could start by recognizing that we're all in this together -- and that we side with him against those who threaten him -- rather than pre-emptively characterizing us as the types of people who would write such vitriolic and evil screeds. (Read more.)
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