Exchange of Telegrams

In an effort to step back from War the Tsar Nicholas II and his cousin Kaiser Willhelm II began a series of telegrams which lasted for 4 days begining yesterday in 1914. While I believe the Tsar was truly interested in peace, I believe the Kaiser was stalling for time in order to delay the Russian mobilization.

The telegrams did not forstall the Great War...

J.K. Baltzersen in Oslo remembered here... thanks and tip of the beret.


Some notes on French history for 30 July

It was on this date in 1683 that the Queen of Louis XIV, Maria Theresa of Spain died. Born as Infanta María Teresa of Spain being paternal great-great-granddaughter of an Archduke of Austria, at the Royal Monastery of El Escorial, she was the daughter of Philip IV, King of Spain and his Queen consort, Elizabeth of France. Another Spanish infanta, her paternal aunt and mother-in-law, Anne of Austria, Queen of France, also used the Austrian archducal title, then still affected by the Spanish Habsburgs, denoting the origins of the family. María Teresa thus combined the blood of Philip III of Spain and Margarita of Austria, on her father's side, and that of Henry IV of France and Marie de' Medici, on her mother's side. In his turn, Philip III was the son of Philip II of Spain and Anna of Austria who was, herself, a daughter of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria of Spain. Philip II and Maria of Spain were siblings, being both children of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Isabella of Portugal. María Teresa, therefore, like many Habsburgs, was a product of years and generations of royal intermarriage between cousins.

The negotiations for the marriage contract were intense. Eager to prevent a union of the two countries or crowns, especially one in which Spain would be subservient to France, the diplomats sought to include a renunciation clause which would deprieve María Teresa and her children of any rights to the Spanish succession. This was eventually done but, by the skill of Mazarin and his French diplomats, the renunciation and its validity were made conditional upon the payment of a large dowry. As it turned out, Spain, impoverished and bankrupt after decades of war, was unable to pay such a dowry, and France never received the agreed sum of 500,000 écus.

After a marriage by proxy to the French king in Burgos, María Teresa became known as Marie-Thérèse. Her father, Philip IV, and the entire Spanish court accompanied the bride to the Isle of Pheasants, in the Bidassoa, where Louis and his court met her. On 7 June 1660, she departed from her native country of Spain in a flood of tears, moaning to her chief lady, the Duchess of Molina: 'My father, my father...' Like her father, the new bride knew that they were unlikely to ever see each other again during their lifetime; it was not customary for foreign princesses to revisit the land of their birth: emotional ties were to be severed. It would take an extraordinary event for her to return to Spain, such as the annulment of her marriage. Two days later, on 9 June, the 'real' marriage or the French marriage, took place in Saint-Jean-de-Luz Saint Jean-Baptiste church, which had recently been rebuilt on the site of the former 13th century church burned several times in the 15th and 16th centuries. Marie-Thérèse, technically already Queen of France, wore a gown covered in the royal fleur-de-lys: her uncovered hair proved to be so thick that it was difficult to attach a crown to it. Her train was carried by two of the younger Orléans princesses. Louis wore black velvet and was richly jeweled.

After the marriage ceremony, Louis wanted to consummate the marriage as quickly as possible. Consummation of a royal marriage was quite important, as it confirmed the marriage, officially binding it. After dinner, he suggested retirement. Marie-Thérèse was quite nervous at first, and gave vent to a few maidenly demurs, claiming it to be too soon. But when she discovered Louis was awaiting, she quickly told her ladies-in-waiting to speed up the process of elaborate rituals, of dressings and undressings thought necessary for a queen to meet a king for the first time in bed. It was Louis's mother who closed the bed-curtains on the bride and groom before departing.

On this date in 1608, near Ticonderoga, the present day Crown Point NY Samuel de Champlain was attacked by a party of Iroquois. During this encounter he shot and killed two Iroquois chiefs, setting the tone for French-Iroquois relations for the next hundred years. The rift never healed and during the almost constant wars between the English and French in the quest for empire, the Iroquois never aligned themselves to the French. The lake near which this incident occured bears his name as Lake Champlain.

Here is an article in English and in French on the finding of Champlain's Astrolabe...


André Rieu - Conquest of Paradise

Another remarkable performance by André Rieu from 2008 in Maastricht, the oldest city in the Netherlands. This performance immediately transports me to Versailles, and the fire works of Louis XIV.

Bravo Maestro!



"La tristesse durera toujours", homage to Monsieur Vincent

Today is the anniversary of the death of Vincent Van Gogh, in 1890.

During a trip from Irvine, California to Chicago, Illinois in the company of my youngest Genevieve (she was 4 at the time)for my brothers wedding, we stopped one day at the scene of my Bohemian youth, the Art Institute. It was there that I introduced her to Monsieur Vincent, or as I have come to address him as simply Vincent. I told her the old wives tale that he cut off his ear for a woman. We continued the tour. Attended the wedding, took the L to my parents house and eventually returned to SoCal.

Several months after our return to California, during a drive in the car she sat in the back and sang, (that is what kids do, OK?). In mid-chorus of BINGO, she said, Daddy tell me again hwy did Van Gogh cut off his ear? It was cute at the time and endeared me to her, she was listening...

And the real story? No one knows for sure, but the best theory is that he lost during a severe seizure on 24 December 1888.

More may be found here...

"...the sadness will continue forever..." Theo Van Gogh

The above self portrait is found in the Art Institute of Chicago, it is the one I showed Genevieve.

My brother James remains married to his wife Beth,and has two beautiful daughters Danielle-Murielle, and Dominique-Solange.


Congressional Catholics fail the Pro-Life Test... Again

Whoa! There is a surprise. When one derives his authority from the mob, then any moral decision is lost.

Catholics in Congress Flunk the Pro-Life Test, Again
by Deal W. Hudson

Lisa Correnti at http://www.onenationundergod.org/ has done us the service of tabulating the vote of Catholic members of Congress on the Pence Amendment to defund Planned Parenthood.

84 Catholics voted against the amendment while 46 voted for it.

I hope that every Catholic who voted against the amendment will be receiving a phone or a letter from their local bishop. It doesn't need to be made public, but it needs to be done.

Planned Parenthood received $350 million in federal funds last year and was responsible for 350,000 abortions. You do the math!

Although federal funds cannot pay directly for the abortion procedure, those funds can be used to support ancillary services, such as counseling, that lead to it.

Congressman Mike Pence (R-Indiana) cited several reasons for defunding Planned Parenthood -- in addition to the moral wrong of abortion, he cited the video evidence compiled by Lila Rose proving some Planned Parenthood clinics are covering up instances of statutory rape.

Catholics in Congress have flunked the pro-life test, again. Let's hope enough of them band together with other pro-lifers to get abortion services and euthanasia counseling out of the health care bill.

To those "Catholics" who accuse the pro-life movement of being one issue voters and voted to retain and in some cases elect ci-dissant Catholics who support abortion, the evil one applaudes your lack of moral courage, and that of the Catholic Representatives in Congress.

100% of Abortion rights advocates were not aborted... isafact!



On the Loaves and Fishes and Socialism

My friend Byron Bullock emailed me this article by Rev. Glen Mullan on the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes and Socialism.

July 26, 2009, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) (Jn 6:1-15)

...Jesus performed a great miracle for the people which in many ways mirrors the understanding of social justice and welfare we have today. Here was a large crowd of people, who had no food. So Jesus and his apostles found a way to provide everyone what they needed, for free. In addition to feeding, the Gospel tells us Jesus had also been healing the sick.

And the people responded: “this is the Prophet, let us make him our King!” But Jesus ran the other way, withdrawing to the hills! The next day, when the crowd found him on the other side of the lake in Capernaum, he criticized them. You follow me because I give you food, but the next day you are hungry again. Am I supposed to keep performing this miracle over and over, is that what my job as king is?

Jesus tells them to seek the food which satisfies for eternal life. He is the bread come down from heaven, and the Kingdom of his Father is very different from what the people were looking for. As a result, most of the people who wanted to make him king the day before, left him and stopped being his followers.

Our society today is very much like that crowd. Like them, people follow the political leaders who promise to take care of their hardship. Today we look to government to provide everything from foodstamps to housing and social security, free education, bailing out the economy when people have overextended their spending habits, and now a move to provide universal healthcare. Hallelujah! Government becomes the savior and provider.

This is how the people imagined the Kingdom of God to be and the kind of king they viewed Jesus to be. Today many people still make the same mistake when they think it is the government’s role to take care of everyone’s necessities. This is a serious error that has been condemned by the Church, and it is called “Socialism.” Unfortunately, it is an easy road to take.

Socialism means essentially that the government runs society by regulating and controlling and providing all services. In the more extreme form of socialism, known as Communism, the government actually owns everything: all property, all means of production, all wealth. In the moderate forms of socialism, government intervenes in everything.

For instance, when socialists run the education establishment, as they do in our nation, local citizens can’t make local decisions. If the vast majority of a school district is Christian and they vote to allow a time of prayer, it doesn’t matter, their school is regulated by the socialist system with its bureaucratic organizations. In return for handing over this control, the socialist establishment provides money, funding. That is always the hook.

The people in the Gospel were ready to hand over their allegiance to Jesus because he provided them the “goodies”: food, shelter, healthcare, welfare. But Jesus wanted no part of it, this is not the way. It is a great trap.

When the socialists talk, it sounds great at first. The fathers of socialism were people like Karl Marx and Lenin. Everyone owns everything in common, the wealth is shared and distributed justly, you don’t have the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. In some ways it even sounds like the Gospel and the early Church. We will take care of the poor, we will help single-parent households, we will provide free education, and universal healthcare. When there are hurricanes such as Katrina, we will be responsible for rebuilding everyone’s houses and cities.

Hallelujah, you can be my king! It sounds great, it even looks a lot like what Christianity teaches: take care of each other, help those in need. But what did Jesus do? He ran the other way. This attitude is not God’s way at all: the devil always tries to make evil look good, to make the wrong way look like the Gospel.

Socialism doesn’t help people, people help people. Government can’t solve all the needs of fallen human nature, only God can, working through human solidarity and charity.

Here is why socialism doesn’t work, and will only bring greater misery to the people. In the Gospel, how did the apostles get all that food for the people? It came from heaven. It was a miracle. God can do that! Now, in the case of our modern messiah the socialistic government: where does all the free food stamps and free healthcare and free housing and free education come from? Does it fall out of the sky from heaven?

No, it comes from your neighbor, but not through charity, through taxes. What happens in a socialist society is a vicious circle: increased government benefits and subsidies and bailouts and programs to help people require increased taxes. Increased taxes place greater burdens on working families and businesses. What ends up is a situation where instead of supporting its citizens and allowing them to live and take care of each other’s needs, the citizens end up having to work in order to support the government, which presumes to take care of people’s needs.

There are many negative results. The bureaucracy wastes about half the money. Right now the government provides free education. But do you know through taxes we spend more than double the amount per child in a public school than what it costs us to educate a child at our Catholic school? And we do a much better job at our Catholic school. It’s the nature of bureaucracy, it’s inefficient.

The worst negative effect of socialism is the stress it places on families. Both spouses have to work. Which means stress on the marriage and less time for children, also less ability to pay for children, so families become smaller in a socialist society. And as hear in the news, it’s not even the workers of today who are being taxed to provide all these benefits and programs. Our wonderful government this year has already taxed future workers to the tune of 1.5 trillion dollars. Not only are the upcoming workforce going to have to pay their expenses, they are going to be paying back the expenses we are incurring today.

Socialism is dangerous, it is a lie, it is a total disaster for a society. Jesus can provide bread from heaven when necessary, but socialism can’t. Socialism takes away our dignity and our responsibility. The responsibilities and duties which by nature belong to the family and parents, get taken over by government programs and institutions. Providing food; providing a roof over your families’ head; taking care of elderly grandparents; supervising the children’s education—more and more these family responsibilities are being done by government programs.

Socialism doesn’t encourage good citizenship and social virtues, it undermines them. We see that today, because socialism tries to solve all the human problems the easy way. Once the socialist government has become the provider instead of the father, along comes abortion and contraception. Instead of upholding the institution of marriage, it destroys it.

Let me give a concrete example of the difference between socialism and true Christianity. One time a young girl in my youth group became a single mother with a new baby, and she received a full-paid government scholarship to go to college. Also foodstamps. This sounds like a good social program: help that girl get on her feet and get a good job so that she and her baby won’t end up in poverty. But this is socialism: the government has become the father and provider!

In that same youth groups were some other young men and women who didn’t have babies outside of marriage, and they had to pay their own way to college, and of course it is everyone’s taxes which are funding her & the program.

Now here is the Christian approach. We agree that the young unwed mother should have a college scholarship so she can take care of her baby and not end up in poverty. But the baby’s father should pay it, not the government. Put that law in place, and watch how quickly society will become a better place, and how quickly the unwed mother problem would go away. And you won’t need abortion and contraception to accomplish it!

Socialism destroys human dignity because it destroys the natural role of the family and people’s responsibility to take care of people, beginning with their own families. Instead of serving the families by providing a solid infrastructure for people to be in charge, socialist governments put themselves in charge and put people in the role of providing for the government through their taxes. That is not what Jesus would do!

The people were going to make Jesus their king because he took care of their needs! Instead, Jesus withdrew from them. What a mistake they made. That is not the world he came to create. His way is different: it’s the understanding that there will always be hardship in this world; no amount of programs will change that. But socialism is not the answer. We walk the way of the cross: honest hard work, sacrifice and simplicity, faith and trust in God, family commitment, personal responsibility, and charity to our neighbor in need...

Thanks and a tip of the beret to Byron, and especially to Fr Mullen for this article.