Monthly Archives: June 2016

Man Proposes, God Disposes: French Helicopter Edition

This webpage about the patron saint of French army aviation is pretty interesting! (Read it on Google Translate.)

Originally, they planned to pick St. Elijah the Prophet, because of the “chariot of fire.” (And apparently some wish this had happened, because his French name, Elie, sounds like the French “helie” for helicopters.) They also wanted a summer feast day, so they could fly and have fun while honoring the saint; and St. Elijah’s feast is in July. (As opposed to St. Barbara, patron of artillery and guns, whose feast is in cold December.)

But then came the liberation of Rome in WWII on June 4th, which was St. Clotilde’s Day. Small Free French army aircraft were used for observation work, during the fight. And so the French aviators took the date of victory as a sign.

The webpage includes a beautiful prayer to St. Clotilde for her intercession!

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German Brewster Nun

Sister Doris, a Franciscan, is the brewmistress of Kloster Mallersdorf (Mallersdorf Cloister).

As with a lot of professions, women did most of the brewing when brewing was mostly a home industry. The same thing is true of distilling on a small scale, which fit right in with the women’s work of making medicine for the family as well as cooking food. (Hence the word “stillroom,” which means “distillery room.”)

Here’s the uncloistered tap room and restaurant, if you’re ever in the neighborhood and want to try out the beer. It’s run by laypeople. (Yum, Bavarian food….)

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St. Mason??

Yup, there’s even a Catholic reason to name a kid “Mason.”

“Mason” is one of the many English surnames based on profession – in this case, the profession of stonemason. Most Americans with the first name “Mason”  were either named for a family surname, or were historically named for George Mason: a Virginia patriot of the Revolutionary War, and one of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He was one of the big adamant supporters of a Bill of Rights both for the US and for Virginia. At the Constitutional Convention and in his pamphlet, Objections to the Constitution, he also called for an immediate outlawing of the slave trade (on the grounds that importing slaves would make the nation more vulnerable to takeover, but at least he was trying). Even though his ideas lost at the time, everybody else finally ended up agreeing with him.

But I said there’s a Catholic reason to name a kid “Mason,” right?

Blessed John Mason was an ordinary Catholic layman, a servant in Oxfordshire, working at the house of a Mr. Owen. On November 7, 1791, he attended a Mass said at Swithin Well’s house (in Holborn, London) by St. Edmund Gennings, a Catholic convert who’d been ordained at Douay.

During Mass, a raid was led on the house by Richard Topcliffe, a “pursuivant” who was also an Elizabethan psychopath with a government funded murder house. Topcliffe tried to get into the room upstairs where Mass was being said. He and his people broke down the door. Bl. John Mason rushed Topcliffe, grabbed him, wrestled with him, and actually tumbled them both downstairs. It was a darned good try.

The rest of the male members of the congregation drew their weapons, and used their swords to hold off the raid until Mass was over. (It’s a Catholic theological point that a Mass that has gotten to the point where the Canon/Eucharistic prayers are said, must be finished by the priest or by another priest, if remotely possible.) Topcliffe got Mason off him and came back upstairs “with a broken head.” Fr. Plasden called out that they would surrender peacefully once Mass was over, and for once Topcliffe went along with it.

Then the guys with weapons kept Plasden’s word and surrendered peacefully (since there was no other way out, and they were extremely outnumbered). St. Swithin Wells was not there to be captured, but his wife Alice was. Others included the priest, St. Edmund Gennings, another priest (possibly named Gennings also), St. Polydore Plasden (also a priest; he was hung, drawn, and quartered for the crime of being one and then coming to England), and Mason’s fellow laymen: the lawyer Bl. Sidney Hodgson, and the gentleman Bl. Brian Lacey.

On getting home, Swithin Wells found his house shut up and all the people gone. His neighbors told him about the arrest of his wife, along with all the others. He was an old man, but had no fear. St. Swithin went to the examining judge, complained, and bravely demanded his wife and his housekeys. He was then arrested and thrown into Newgate too, in shackles. When examined the next day, he testified that he hadn’t been at Mass but wished he’d been able to come. He loved the example of St. Thomas More, and joked a lot during his imprisonment. He was eventually charged and executed for having acted as a server at a Mass a few days before the raid.

Topcliffe knew that Bl. Brian Lacey had been traveling around England with another priest, Bl. Montford Scott, before Scott was captured and executed. So Topcliffe tortured Lacey severely to try to get the locations of the priest-friendly houses where they’d stayed. He gave them nothing. He was a tough guy, who had already been imprisoned in Newgate for Catholic activities. (Unfortunately, it was his own brother, Richard Lacey of Brockdish, Norfolk, had given information to the government about Lacey’s carrying Catholic letters and helping Fr. Scott.)

On December 6, 1591, Bl. John Mason was arraigned and tried before the King’s Bench at the Old Bailey, along with Gennings, Wells, Plasden, Hodgson, and a guy who’d been captured during the summer, Bl. Edmund White.

Bl. John Mason was originally charged with having known the whereabouts of a Catholic priest and not reporting it within three days. Mason pointed out that he’d only known the priest’s whereabouts for one day. “I was taken in his company, and therefore you know not what I would have done, if I had had longer time.” (Catholics who got captured liked to point out the stupidity of the persecution laws.) They couldn’t get past this logic, so he was tried and condemned as an “aider and abettor of priests.” They asked him if he were sorry for having rushed Topcliffe.

He said, “No; if it were to do again, I would resist the wicked, that they should not have God’s priests. Yea, although I were to be punished with twenty deaths.”

He was sentenced to be hung until he was dead at Tyburn, London on December 10, 1591, as were Sydney Hodgson and Brian Lacey. Their executions took place along with those of White, Plasden, and Lacey. Moved by Plasden’s statement of loyalty to England and the queen, Sir Walter Raleigh intervened for Plasden, first arguing with Topcliffe that Plasden should not be executed, and then making sure he was hung until completely dead and then having the drawing and quartering done on his corpse. This didn’t happen for White, whom they kept alive for quite a while. Mason and the other men sentenced to hanging were buried at the side of the road. The drawn and quartered men had their quarters sent to various parts of the city, as was the custom for “traitors.”

St. Swithin Wells and St. Edmund Gennings were hung on December 10, 1591, from a gallows that was erected in Grays’ Inn Fields on the north side of Holborn, practically right outside St. Swithun Wells’ house. Nothing like a little terror in the neighborhood. At Topcliffe’s order, Jennings was hanged so quickly, and then cut down again so quickly, that when they cut him down from the noose, he was able to stand up by himself. The hangman tripped him, in order to get his head on the block, and then they proceeded to draw and quarter him. Gennings loudly cried out, “Oh, it smarts.” After being ripped up and having his guts thrown into a fire (that’s the drawing part of “drawing and quartering”), and with the executioner having cut out his heart and held it up, Gennings was heard to say in Latin, “Sancte Gregori, ora pro me.” (St. Gregory, pray for me.)

St. Swithin Wells was hung until he was dead. He was allowed to be buried by his friends in the churchyard of St. Andrew’s, Holborn.

Alice Wells was spared from being executed, but instead was kept in prison until she died in 1602. Yay! So merciful!

Being Catholic isn’t for sissies. We have to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, and we never know where that will lead. But we can trust that it will bring us to eternal life.

Blessed John Mason, pray for us!

You can read more about Fr. Jennings/Genings/Gennings, Swithun Wells, and the raid on his house in this book from the time, The Life and Death of Mr. Edmund Genings, Priest.

You can also read Acts of English Martyrs Hitherto Unpublished by John Hungerford Pollen, S.J. It includes copies of primary documents. Most of the above came from the Relation of Fr. Andrew Young.

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New Saint, Great Story

Medieval Otaku points us to a great story about St. Stanislaus Papczynski.

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The Best Instagram Page Ever.

Walter the Wolfhound.

The dress-up pictures are surprising. I mean, usually wolfhounds will put up with bandanas, but anything on the head gets shaken off and anything on the body tends to get clawed or shaken. The major question is whether it will just drop off (as they give you a long-suffering look), or whether it will be removed violently. Clothing on you is safe; clothing on them is either annoying or a chewtoy. The only exception was one of our old lady wolfhounds, who got cold enough in the winter that she would submit to having a coat laid over her. (Oh, and I’ve also seen unspayed female wolfhounds get the dubious fun of wearing panties (with a hole for their tails) with pads to soak up their periods. They don’t like it but get used to it, since they’re practical hounds. Wolfhounds prefer to be clean.)

So obviously this wolfhound is either extremely patient, or thinks that clothing is an awesome, funny game.

It is also possible that the owner is wily in the ways of bribery… but really, I think the owner is an extremely good obedience trainer. I mean, this dog is shown sitting and laying near food, but not eating it! Wolfhounds like the smell of cake… they are willing to go for wine or coffee… or anything else they can get. So yeah, that’s good training.

Also, Young Walter the Wolfhound copes with going down a flight of stairs.

He’s not so much afraid, as unsure where to put his feet. (Doesn’t help that it’s a hardwood floor.) Sometimes you can show a young dog what to do, but sometimes they just have to figure it out.

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Ancient and Medieval Anesthesia

Of course there was anesthesia before ether. The difference was that they used drugs and sedatives, mostly opium, henbane, nightshade, and the like. Or whisky, another popular choice. Not super-safe for waking up again, but you’d be asleep and feeling no pain.

Of course, today most operations are carried out with anesthetic drugs, not anesthetic gases. Because the drugs are now safer.

Dwale: an Anaesthetic from Medieval England. Ingredients: bile, hemlock, bryony, lettuce, opium, henbane, vinegar, and a half-gallon of wine. Talks a fair amount about medieval use of “sleeping medicines” and “drowsy syrups,” and why there was trouble getting the dosage right.

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Canada Vignettes: Canadian Schoolhouse Rock-Type PSAs

Okay, there’s no singing. But there is hand-drawn animation.

Newfoundland: includes Vikings.

“Wop” May: Canadian pilot beats the Red Baron and diphtheria.

Via the Ace of Spades commenter named “Andycanuck”. There are a ton of these on YouTube, all different lengths. Some of them are historical, while others are adaptations of folktales.

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You Have the Right to Remain Unmurdered

At its simplest, civilization is a pact that we will help each other to survive. Part of this pact is keeping yourself alive, too.

Every adult American citizen has the right to bear arms.

Larry Correia has a post that links to a list of US gun instructors offering shooting lessons and gun familiarization to anyone who is interested.

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The Crosses of Pompeii: Christianity Right Under Pagan Noses

Interesting interview about an interesting book. It turns out that Pompeii is simply crawling with early Christian crosses!

It also turns out that Christians worked at a bakery, a la the Story Keepers animated series. Heh.

Insula Arriana Polliana, where the bakery was, was owned by Gnaeus Alleius Nigidius Maius. Here’s his house, which was part of the same block as the Insula.

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Portrait of a Mass Murderer

It turns out that Omar Mateen appeared briefly in the 2012 documentary The Big Fix, from back in 2010 when he was working as a G4S security guard at a BP oil cleanup site in Pensacola, Florida.

One thing you will notice is that he does a lot of code-switching. That’s what linguists call the switch between different dialects or registers of conversation. Most people do this, and certainly someone approached by a documentary camera crew in the middle of the night is someone who might be groping for appropriate responses. I also suspect that his response was cut together to sound like a single statement, whereas there were probably several minutes of conversation which were cut out. But Mateen has some interesting code-switches in his brief appearance:

1) High voice, normal schmuck.
2) Hints of the stereotypical gay-signaling uptalk.
3) Rougher, more stereotypically masculine complaint voice, combined with profanity. Claims that cleanup people don’t care about nature, and just want more spillage to give them more work hours.

Given that a night security guard watching for cars has an infinitely cleaner job than folks cleaning up an oil spill at night, I’m sure that they didn’t think much of his contempt for them!

So that’s interesting. Doesn’t prove anything, but there’s your Sudden Jihadi before his Sudden Jihadi Syndrome. (Although he’d been in touch with some extremely sketchy Muslim groups and imams before 2010.)

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Jihad Attack in Orlando on Gay Nightclub

Omar Mateen attacked the patrons of an Orlando nightclub called Pulse, killing up to fifty people. Please pray for them.

Video by Robert Spencer on Jihadist violence during Ramadan.

Although Ramadan was set up to be a time of fasting, and of truce among Muslims, it was also set up by some Muslim traditions as “a month of calamity for unbelievers.” Most of Muhammad’s raids and battles traditionally took place during Ramadan.

An article quoting the hadiths which demand expulsion and death for male adults who have sex with each other. (Meanwhile, men having non-consensual sex with boys is traditionally okay, and the description of heaven for Muslim jihadis includes both supernatural young women (houri) and younger boys (ghilman).) Persons convicted of homosexual sexual behavior are routinely hung in Iran, and by law they are subject to public execution or extremely long prison sentences in many other Muslim states.

Initial reporting has been very strange in the American media, with many sources refusing to report that Mateen was Muslim, that he attacked with every indication of committing jihad, or that he deliberately targeted a nightclub where he could kill homosexuals. Meanwhile, persons setting up as spokesmen for LGBT interests are not making much mention of the sharia law reasons for Mateen’s attack, but instead are attacking people like Marco Rubio, or the Miami Red Cross (for restricting blood donations from people with risky sexual behavior in order to avoid AIDS tests for every batch of blood, even though that is done only for public health reasons and benefits everyone).

Yeah, it’s really smart to attack the integrity of the blood supply, right after a mass shooting of people who need blood. Yup.

On the other hand, the Log Cabin Republicans have a truthful statement about the attack.

UPDATE: The news media finally did get around to reporting the obvious, on Monday. But some outlets are still downplaying or not reporting things like the imam Mateen followed in online classes and in a local visit to the Orlando mosque, who was quoted as saying in his Friday sermon that all homosexuals should be executed, and that it was an act of compassion to kill them. (Yeah, that guy.)

There are now some reports that Mateen had been interested in homosexual sex himself. Well, everybody knows that the Quran says that if you can just do some jihad and die, your previous sins won’t matter because you’ll go directly to heaven. So many terrorists feel that they should rack up more sins while they’re at it. Heck, the 9/11 terrorists made sure to go out and get drunk and do all sorts of “un-Islamic” things, rather than preparing for death by living clean and sober lives.


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Another Famous Deaconess Saint?

There’s an Episcopal icon-writer who has an icon of St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Theosebia (“a deacon”), and says they were a married couple and a liturgical team.

Um. No.

First off, St. Theosebia was St. Gregory of Nyssa’s biological sister. Orthodox tradition says so, Catholic tradition says so, and only a few recent historians and theologians have interpreted the evidence in any other way.

Secondly, we don’t actually know if she was a deaconess or not, except that tradition does say she was. All we know from the materials is that she helped out St. Gregory and the Church. Since she is specifically called “support of women” and “hope of women” in various materials, she probably was a deaconess ministering to women. She may also have been the founder or leader of a “choir of virgins” that St. Gregory of Nyssa talks about elsewhere. So you can’t have it both ways. If you believe Eastern tradition about her being a deaconess, you need to believe it about her being the man’s sister.

The trouble seems to be that St. Gregory of Nazianzus’ consolation letter to St. Gregory of Nyssa, on the occasion of St. Theosebia’s death, identifies Theosebia as the yoke-partner (“syzygon”) of a priest (ie, of St. Greg of Nyssa). But this seems to be a running joke, because earlier, St. Gregory of Nazianzus also wrote an epigram (Epigram 161) that also talks about Theosebia being the yoke-partner of a priest (“hieros syzygon”). Then Epigram 164 is an actual epitaph for St. Theosebia, where he talks about St. Gregory of Nyssa’s mom, St. Emmelia, having a daughter who was the yoke-partner (“syzyge”) of St. Gregory of Nyssa!

The quotes are probably more of a joking references to Philippians 4:3 than anything.

Here’s the translation of Epigram 164:

“And you, Theosebia,
child of noble Emmelia,
and in truth yoke-partner of great Gregory,
lie here in holy soil,
O support of pious women.
At a seasonable age,
you departed this life.”

It was totally okay for a priest or bishop to live with a sister. Given that St. Gregory of Nyssa at one point lost his vocation and became a secular rhetoric teacher, she probably helped keep him on track as well as helping his work.

Possibly St. Gregory of Nyssa did get married during his secular period, but we don’t actually know that.

Theosebia’s name means “fear of God, reverence, piety.”

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A Connacht Prayer for Breadmaking

Paidir le Radh ag Deanamh Arain.

Rath De agus bail Padraig
ar a bhfeicfear me agus ar a nglacfas me.
An rath do chuir Dia
ar na cuig arain agus ar an da iasg
go gcuiridh Se ar an bheatha go e.

The abundance of God and the prosperity of Patrick
on all that I shall see, and on all that I shall take.
The abundance that God put
upon the five loaves and two fishes –
may He put it upon this sustenance.

Pretty good prayer, huh?

“Paidir” originally meant the Our Father, but in this case it’s used as a generic word for a prayer. (There are a lot of Irish terms for prayers.)

Anyway, this comes from V0lume II of The Religious Songs of Connacht (Abhrain Diadha chuige Connacht), collected and translated by Douglas Hyde, 1906.

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Dominican Ninja Warrior?

Man, what is it with Dominicans and game shows? Are they competitive or what?

Tonight on American Ninja Warrior, Sean Bryan, a layman and live-in IT guy for the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (the West Coast branch in Berkeley) managed to get through the LA city course in one of the fastest times of the night.

He is competing with the nickname “Papal Ninja,” and his supporters wore yellow and white T-shirts featuring a cute mini-ninja in white. (Probably he was originally thinking “Papist Ninja,” but that’s a bit too much inside baseball. And yeah, not broadcast-standards-friendly.)

He was on the Berkeley gymnastics team, and he spent four years discerning with the Salesians (and a bit with the Dominicans) before deciding that he wasn’t called to be a religious. But they kept him on, as their IT guy, and he built a ninja gym in the Dominicans’ garage. (Without previous permission from the prior… but the prior said it was okay afterward.)

He has a BA in physics and a Masters in Theology. His thesis was on Vatican II ecclesiology, and the importance of liturgy in finding how to worship God both in liturgy and everyday life. He also works on the Lay Mission Project, designed to form and encourage Catholic laypeople to evangelize and do God’s will. So yeah, that’s pretty darned Salesian.

They had viewing parties for the guy. He also had Dominicans in full habit cheering him on at Universal Studios LA, where the event was held!

Here’s his lay ministry page, and here’s his Facebook page.

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