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Israel: The Short Version

Modern Israel is weird because the settlers of modern Israel were weird. Holocaust survivors with PTSD and a thirst for revenge, or extremely current skills at fighting for the Resistance, or for various militaries, were blended with people who were basically farmers or tradesmen or merchants who had never fought anybody. People of every political stripe not just from one country, but from all over the world. And weirdest of all, the Jewish kibbutz folks who wanted to be Jewish Communists who spoke Hebrew but didn’t know bupkis about the Bible, and who actively prevented smart kids from pursuing higher education. (But couldn’t stop them from joining Israel’s army.)

Modern Israel is weird because a lot of the “Palestinian Arabs” were actually resettled there by the Ottoman Empire, somewhere around the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Often by pushing indigenous Arab/Israeli Christians or Muslims off their land, or out of their houses. People don’t talk about this. (And actually, a lot of Middle East problems come from this forced resettlement stuff happening everywhere on the fringes of the Ottoman Empire. In Armenia, as we know, it ended in genocide.)

Modern Israel is weird because it’s a small enough country that a lot of people know each other. People can be at each other’s throats in their parliament, but also be relatives or college friends or army buddies.

Another reason that modern Israel is weird is that they tend to have an “ourselves alone” attitude, just like modern Ireland used to have. It’s not that they’re not good allies, because they can be. It’s that they’re going to consider their own self-interest first, mostly because they know that historically they’ve been messed with, and that people continue to mess with them today. But honestly, that’s how the US does things also.

The US did some amazingly nasty or unhelpful things to Israel, early on and at random times down the years, and Israel has occasionally done nasty or unhelpful things in return, or at random times. That doesn’t make them not our ally; it makes them slightly more our ally than France. 🙂

If we have a State Department or intelligence analyst paying attention, we should be able to keep Israel on our side without putting ourselves into bad positions. When Israel has weird political parties in power (okay, that’s all the time!), we should be able to figure out their goals and be ready for what they might want to do. But it’s okay to have allies that are not clones of the US.

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Fun with Kidney Stones

If you’ve never had kidney stones, keep doing what you’re doing. If you have, here’s some interesting info.

Basically, as long as you are hydrated, your kidneys are usually able to cope with everything you do and drink. But large crystallized compounds called kidney stones can form under the following conditions:

1: Not enough calcium in your diet, or coming into the kidneys, to bind to the little oxalates and push them along. So potentially you have a big gang of lonely oxalates hanging out temporarily in your kidneys. If you pee them out, you’re okay. But if you don’t, they get together and form crystals as soon as other stuff shows up.

2. Too much calcium without enough water, which turns into calcium crystals in the kidneys, that don’t get out if they get too big. (And then when oxalates come along, they bind to these crystals, and suddenly you have a really big kidney stone.) Calcium oxalate crystals being formed in your digestive system is normal, but having them form in your kidneys is the most common kind of kidney stone.

3. Too much cystine in your kidneys, period. Cystine, an essential amino acid, usually isn’t a problem unless you have cystinuria, a fairly rare genetic disease that messes with absorption.

4. Too much calcium phosphate in your kidneys without enough liquid. Those lonely calcium crystals can also get together with phosphates and make calcium phosphate crystals, or even join calcium phosphate with existing calcium oxalate crystals. This means you have a lot of calcium and not enough oxalates in your tummy… and something else going on. Urinary tract infections, but also other kidney problems or hyperthyroidism.

5. Uric acid crystals that actually turn into stones. Bad, bad dehydration is what causes this, or really acidic urine, or certain diseases. They can actually treat it short term with baking soda/bicarbonate of soda antacid!

6. Struvite stones = magnesium ammonium phosphate. Caused by really alkaline urine, which doesn’t usually happen unless you have an infection somewhere. They give people stuff to neutralize the pH and deal with the stuff in the stones.

If this isn’t a good recap of what I’ve read, read up on it for yourself.

So basically, it benefits you to eat/drink lots of calcium, so that the oxalates bind to it in your tummy instead of in your kidneys.

And you should drink a fair amount of water every day, so that all the various kinds of crystals do not form in your kidneys, and don’t get to the point that they are big masses that don’t dissolve easily.

And you should urinate and clear things out, because otherwise your kidneys will just work hard to concentrate everything into uric acid crystals, while all the other crystals have more time to get together and cause trouble.

If people know they tend to get specific kinds of kidney stones, their doctors will have specific recommendations. (There seem to be a lot of ins and outs, often based on what you are already taking in vitamins, prescription drugs, etc. Excess Vitamin C can turn into oxalates, and Vitamin D pills often include extra calcium.)

But what else helps?

The juice of citrus fruit and melons contain citrates, which can also bind to calcium in your kidneys and help you pee it out, and thus keep oxalates moving on out of the kidneys instead of making stones. This is one reason why lots of multivitamins and electrolyte drinks contain potassium citrate.

Nuts, potatoes, chocolate, black tea, beets, rhubarb, bran flakes, currants, leeks, summer squash, sweet potatoes, tomato soup, grits, tofu, Concord grapes, and spinach are high in oxalates. But they also tend to make you urinate, which usually is good for kidneys. So you have to think about levels. Eat/drink calcium with them, basically, and don’t pig out every day.

(In the UK, where people usually drink tea with milk or cream, they don’t have to worry about black tea oxalates as much. But remember, almond milk is also a nut.)

Or you could look up other tonics to encourage urination, that don’t include oxalates. (Just don’t use peppermint tea, as some people have good luck with it, but it seems to bring on kidney stones in others.) “Palo azul” or “azul tea” is a bark-based tea that is supposed to do wonders, but I don’t know anything about it. Green tea or oolong tea is a lot easier to find, and apparently fights stone formation. (They are both low in oxalates, because of how they are processed after picking.)

Eating too much meat or too many carbs and sugars, all at once, can stress out your kidneys. Don’t do that, or don’t do it for days and days in a row.

Don’t stress out. Some people’s kidneys don’t work well when they’re unhappy, angry, anxious, etc. (Probably stress hormones.)

Resveratrol fights kidney inflammation and helps your kidneys keep pushing junk out. It’s found in peanuts (a nut!), cocoa (chocolate!), grapes, blueberries, strawberries, mulberries, bilberries, and cranberries. In grapes, it’s only present in the skins, which is why red wine has resveratrol and white wine mostly does not. (The skins are strained out of white and rose wine at an earlier point in production.) But your body metabolizes resveratrol and doesn’t grab a lot of it, which is why there are pills.

Drink water and go to the bathroom regularly. Seriously. Then you don’t have to remember this stuff.

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Ruth Lyons

Today on Channel 5 from Cincinnati, they re-broadcast a documentary from 2011 about the legendary Midwestern television host, Ruth Lyons. (Ruth Lyons: First Lady of Television.) It was fascinating, because she basically had the force of personality to ignore sexism (or inertia) and push her way to the top… and people loved it! She just did stuff instead of thinking about it, and she gently trolled others instead of being trolled.

She went from a job playing piano on WKRC radio, to emergency guest host, to on-the-spot reporter of the Great Flood of 1937. She wanted to do more news, but ended up becoming WKRC’s program director; and then took over the field of variety entertainment at lunchtime for housewives, on a new rival television station, WLWT.

Needless to say, nobody previously had known that housewives needed a variety entertainment and talk show format at lunchtime. Or a tv host who tested the products she was supposed to advertise, and refused to accept sponsors whose products stunk… and revealed the stinkage on the air.

She was a gifted, prolific songwriter (every week there was at least one new song by her), a good pianist in many styles, and a serviceable singer, but she had a real eye for talent and was interested in pushing people to the top. There was a reason that agents tried to get their clients on Ruth Lyons’ 50-50 Club. Back then, the Tonight Show was okay, but it was Ruth Lyons who sold albums and theater tickets.

She was beloved for speaking her mind, and her show had no color line. All her guests were her guests, who sat next to her on her rocking loveseat. She touched off controversy in 1963 by spontaneously dancing with a famous black singer, and then delivering an on-air talk the next week about how she had been getting nasty phone calls. The next week, the station was flooded with supportive phone calls instead.

She also pranked the All-Star baseball game in 1957, getting her audience to send votes for the entire Reds starting lineup, and thus creating an all-Reds National League All-Star team. (Needless to say, the voting rules changed the next year.) She apparently also wrote the lyrics to “We’ll Rally ‘Round the Reds,” to the tune of “The Battle Cry of Freedom.”

But after tireless years, her sister died of cancer, and then her adopted daughter was also diagnosed with terminal cancer. She had a stroke and started to get better… and then her daughter died in 1966.

Lyons tried to come back to work, but was physically weak and mentally fragile. She ended up breaking down on the show one day in January 1967, when her young friend Carol Channing was on, and Channing had to try to help her regain composure on live television. Lyons and her doctor decided she should retire, so she did. That day. She was a decisive lady.

From then on, her younger co-host Bob Braun helmed The 50/50 Club, which became The Bob Braun Show, and went on for years and years more. That’s the show I grew up with. His son Rob Braun worked in Cincinnati TV news as an anchor.

Lyons lived quietly in retirement, suffering a series of strokes that made her speech hard to understand, but also writing a memoir that was a local bestseller. She died in 1988.

Besides the daytime talk show, her greatest legacy is probably the Ruth Lyons Children’s Fund. Originally founded (as the Ruth Lyons Children’s Christmas Fund) to provide Christmas presents for poor kids who were stuck in the hospital over the holidays, it grew to provide all sorts of resources for kids and for hospitals in the Midwest. I still have my stuffed dog toy from when I was in the hospital, and plenty of people across the region can say the same.

Here’s an earlier documentary from 1988: Ruth Lyons: Portrait of a Legend.

Ruth Lyons Tribute in several parts, from Norwood Primetime Television, on December 6, 1985. Features many of her staff and singers, including Cliff Lash, her bandleader, who transcribed to sheet music all the songs she wrote by ear.

Here’s a half-hour of excerpts by the producer from Ruth Lyons: First Lady of Television. It includes the story of how Cincinnati and Dayton ended up with more color tvs per capita than a lot bigger cities in the rest of the US.

Ruth Lyons Children’s Fund is accepting donations. Every cent that you donate will go directly to hospitals and kids; there is no administrative overhead at all. “Happy Birthday, Ruth Lyons” tells the story.

Ten Tunes of Christmas: Ruth Lyons. The whole album. It sold more than 500,000 copies, back in 1958. And yes, of course Candee Records was Ruth Lyons’ own indie label!

“Sing a Song of Christmas” by Ruth Lyons, sung by her and her tv show staff. From the album.

“Wasn’t the Summer Short,” written by Ruth Lyons for Johnny Mathis.

“Have a Merry Merry Merry Christmas,” written by Ruth Lyons. Also from the album.

“Christmas Is a Birthday Time” by Ruth Lyons, sung by Ruby Wright.

“Let’s Light the Christmas Tree” by Ruth Lyons, sung by the Lennon Sisters.

“Christmas Lullaby” at about 7 minutes in, sung by Marian Spelman, for whom Ruth Lyons wrote the song in 1961. This seems like a really appropriate Christmas song for this crazy year, and I think all you parents will like it.

“Once Upon a Christmas Time” by Ruth Lyons, from her album It’s Christmas Time Again.

Another Tom from Ohio’s Youtube channel seems to have the most Ruth Lyons songs of anyone!

WLW Radio’s simulcast of The 50/50 Club, from 11/22/1963 (the day of JFK’s assassination). The bad news doesn’t arrive until the whole show is over, and another show is about to begin. No special guests, just in-house fun with the audience.

Ruth Lyons’ Coffee Cake recipe.

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Mother Cabrini Day!

Today is the feast (okay, the memorial) of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (aka Maria Francesca Cabrini, Cecchina Cabrini, and Francesca Saverio Cabrini), a religious sister who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and emigrated from Italy to the mission fields of the United States. Along with her sisters, she gave tireless care to the American poor of every denomination, as well as setting up many Catholic schools, parishes, hospitals, orphanages, etc. After untiring service that stood in contrast to her tiny frail body and extremely high, cute soprano voice, she died on December 22, 1917, from the after-effects of catching malaria in Rio de Janeiro, ten years before.

As a legal immigrant who became a citizen of the United States, she was the first US citizen to become a saint, in 1946.

Cabrini and her sisters were wonderworkers with their prayers, which isn’t proof of sainthood but doesn’t hurt to show good fruit in their lives. This was seriously downplayed in the last half-century and more, particularly by those putting forward Cabrini as a saint of “social justice.”

Well, sorry, but you don’t get a St. Martin de Porres without the supposedly-embarrassing signs and wonders. The more practical and hands-on the saint is in charity, the more likely that signs and. wonders will happen.

(Activism doesn’t seem to produce saints or wonders, as it is a side-activity to charity, or even a way of blocking ordinary citizens from helping their brothers and sisters, calling on government to replace neighborliness. There are government-bureaucrat-type saints, but not many. Usually martyrs.)

The sad truth is that a lot of the secular products of Cabrini’s hard work have been closed down and destroyed. Orphanages have been decentralized into foster care, which has been good for most kids but has promoted abuse of others. Charity hospitals were closed down for lack of personnel and lack of vocations, or lack of interest by dioceses, or changes in the law and liability; or they have been sold off to businesses, which then often closed them down for being in unprofitable areas of cities. Inner city parishes are bare of parishioners, because everybody moved out to the suburbs. Parochial schools are no longer owned by the sisters and are no longer free to the poor, or no longer in existence.

But that’s not Mother Cabrini’s fault, is it? The same people who want her as a saint of social justice are the ones who have largely turned Catholic charities and action into “make the government do everything” activists, and who have no problem with government regulations that have largely outlawed traditional forms of charity. Making the poor jump through government hoops isn’t very charitable, and doesn’t fill people’s needs in anything but the roughest way. And Catholic adoption services are not allowed to match Catholic babies with practicing Catholic parents, even though matching by “race” is apparently the most important thing in the world.

Mother Cabrini lived and worked in New York, Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, Seattle, and many other cities that were once prosperous, but have now collapsed, or been damaged by riots. We should invoke the prayers of our friend and neighbor (and fellow voter), St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. But we also should start to give and pray and do more, ourselves, without waiting for some agency to do it.

Cabrini was once reluctant to start running charity hospitals and medical ministries, because she thought that wasn’t her order’s job. She would just help raise money, and help another order to do it. Then she had a dream where she saw Our Lady dressed as “Consoler of the Afflicted,” but nursing the sick in a hospital, with her dress pinned up to give her freedom of movement. Mary sternly told Cabrini, “I am doing what you refuse to do!” Cabrini took the hint.

Are we refusing to do God’s work, refusing to help our neighbors directly?

In a move that went largely unnoticed due to riots and COVID restrictions, in 2020 the state of Colorado renamed Columbus Day “Cabrini Day.” I can’t decide if that was stupid or smart, in current year. Regardless, I think it’s pretty funny to have a secular US saint’s day, especially one set up by SJWs; and personally I would push it as far as it would go.

(No offense to Columbus, who suffered great obloquy in his own time and today for trying to stop abuses of Native Americans. Why do you think he lost his government jobs and got imprisoned?)

She was a farmgirl, and never lost that practicality. Cabrini earned her own teaching license and thought she was going to live a single, secular life or would marry, much like most girls today. But God had other ideas; the saint teaches us to listen. Cabrini is also a model for today because she was refused entrance to two religious orders, once because of her health and once because she was considered to be “too useful to spare” by her parish priest, who was a friend but also got it wrong. Cabrini had to found her own religious order in order to follow God’s will, another activity discouraged today. But the good side was that she did gain a lot of administrative experience in her own hometown.

The super-freaky thing was what happened next. Her pastor asked her to help out for a few weeks at a charitable orphanage. He thought she would make a good fixer. She ended up stuck there for six years — first with three jerks supervising her, who all thought they were Cinderella’s stepsisters; and then as boss to those same jerks, who suddenly thought they were Cinderellas. Yeah… become a saint or break. But again, this shows Cabrini’s sympathy for those who are governed badly. She learned to look out for herself and others, to have a strong will, and to understand the dark side of human nature.

And then her bishop looked into the sitation, got her out of it, and suggested she found her own order — a missionary order, since she had a missionary heart.

Which she did, and then didn’t put up with any of that crud which other people had put her through. (She seems to be one of the few modern foundresses of religious orders who didn’t get mistreated by mean girls and would-be Iagos in her old age.) Even though her bishop and her old pastor both thought her order should be missionaries to Italy, she knew that her order was called to go out far away. Without defying anyone, her will to follow God’s will for them remained adamant. The same thing happened when various bishops told her she should not go to Rome and get his permission to send sisters to foreign parts. She did not defy them, but she consulted a canon law expert, learned her rights, and went to Rome. (And was told in a dream to go, by Baby Jesus. And got her permission, even though Pope Leo XIII told her that she was needed in America, not in Asia as she had planned. And then she used her papal permission to trump other bishops… very politely.)

As was said about her by Mons. Aristeo V. Simoni, in his introduction to The Life of Mother Cabrini, American Saint by Mabel Farnum, “God sometimes leaves His children in the dark so that they may see His [guiding] stars.”

But she took a more cheerful view. Cabrini’s idea was that we take the good things God gives us, use them as best we can at the moment, identify the problems and fill in the gaps when we can, but not worry too much about what is currently lacking. Her prayer when things were needed was, “Sacred Heart of Jesus, we thank thee.” She also insisted that “Missionaries are joyous! They have every right to be, because they are Christ’s.” Even when the seas were rough on the sisters’ voyage to America, she took it as both a test from God, and a sign of God wishing to bless them when they passed the test.

When she needed more sisters, she asked the religious order that had run her school to send them any sisters who weren’t fitting in or who were unhappy with the life. In her house, these “misfits” became valuable sisters, and holy. Her Rule insisted that there was no need for ascetic penances beyond the common life of Catholics and sisters, because “Religious life in itself offers every chance for sacrifice. There is no need to seek further for crosses.”

But whenever the sisters had nothing left of some supply, and no money to buy more, Mother Cabrini would ask them just to check the cupboard one more time — and there it would be, even though the cupboard had been completely bare. Or there would be money in the desk drawer, once or twice.They were not begging sisters, though they did beg when it was needed. But most of all, they always lived in dependence on God.

If you can get access to hathitrust.org, follow the link to Farnum’s book. It is charming and not too rose-colored.

And it also tells the story of how she surprised and conquered the archbishop of Buenos Aires, and got her way for her order…. Her Colegio Santa Rosa is still at work.

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The Martyrs of Nice, France

On October 29, three churchgoers at the Basilica of Notre Dame de l’Assomption were attacked and killed by an Islamic jihadi, in hatred for our Faith. They’re not even the first modern martyrs killed by jihadis in Nice, but their case is even clearer than usual.

Vincent Loques, layman, sacristan, 55, was a devoted husband and the father of two children. He was known for his “friendly face,” and for being available at the basilica all day, every day, for the last ten years.

Brahim Aossaoui, his killer, had waited outside the basilica all night, according to his mother who had received a text in Tunisia that did not reveal his other plans. Loques unlocked the basilica doors at 8:30 AM and let Aossauoi in, as he would let anyone enter in the morning. Once the doors were open, Aossauoi slit Loques’ throat. It is a gesture of contempt associated with halal animal slaughter.

Nadine Devillers, laywoman, 60, was happily married and known for her “strong and pure heart” and her “kindness.” She was from Draguignan but moved to Nice at age 18. She was a regular at the basilica, a daily Massgoer. She died close to the baptismal font, stabbed and nearly beheaded.

Simone Barreto Silva, laywoman, 44, was a Brazilian immigrant to France who had lived there for 30 years, and was the mother of two children. She broke away from her attacker, despite her wounds, and made it all the way across the street to a cafe, where she asked for help. As she died, she asked those around her to tell her children that she loved them.

(It is worth saying the owner of the cafe, Brahim Jelloule, was also a Muslim, but he dragged Barreto Silva inside his cafe and tried to save her.)

Those who die martyrs for Jesus’ sake will go straight to Heaven. These people are now with God, and they are our friends.

Martyrs of Nice, pray for us!

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A Whole Month for Helping the Dead!!!

Pope Francis and the Curia actually listened to the world’s bishops, and they have reinstituted Pope Benedict’s generous grant, adding the entire month of November to the Halloween through November 8 octave for visiting cemeteries and praying for the dead.

So from October 31 through November 30, you can visit any cemetery (not just Catholic ones), pray for the dead, and earn them a partial or plenary indulgence.

“The usual conditions” apply. Which means that to get the dead their full plenary indulgence, you need to go to Confession and receive Communion at some point before, during, or after the month. (Usually it’s a period within about 21 days. So you could go in October, go in December, and still cover the entire month of November. You also have to maintain a state of not being attached to sins, even if you happen to sin, and you have to pray for the pope’s intentions on the day you go to Communion and/or Confession.

But what if you don’t? What if you mess up or leave out some of the conditions?

Partial indulgence. Still good for the Poor Souls or any other dead person.

Basically, the Church wants you to pray for the dead, an.d to have a good excuse for calling on the Church’s treasury of prayers and other good things. So the idea is to make it super-easy and generous.

But you have to go in person.

There’s another plenary indulgence for praying for the dead in a church or oratory, which is normally available only on All Soul’s Day, but which has also been extended to the entire month of November. Homebound or vulnerable people can pray at home before a picture or statue of Jesus or the Virgin Mary, or they can offer up their own sufferings as an act of mercy.

So you can grab either of the two indulgences every day in November, for the dead!

NOTE: Jesus said that people would not just be subject to justice for their sins, or mercy and forgiveness of their sins, after they died and were judged. He said that there were earthly consequences to our sins, and that we have to pay those back in some way after we die, “to the very last penny.” (Lk. 12:59)

An “indulgence” is basically a promise, on the authority of the Church as Christ’s Bride, that this payback part of Purgatory would be taken care of, by Christ and the members of His Body. Most of the time, we are encouraged to acknowledge our own sinfulness, and to do various prayerful activities that provide partial and plenary indulgences for ourselves. This month, we do it for the dead, whether those we know or those we don’t.

You can seek an indulgence for “one of the souls in Purgatory,” or name a specific person. If the person you name is already in bliss in Heaven, or sadly is in Hell instead of Heaven/Purgatory, some other soul will get helped.

When you help those in Purgatory, they will help you with their prayers. Ask them for intercession if you have special intentions that you need help with. This is a beautiful manifestation of the Communion of Saints, and someday you will meet up with these folks in Heaven and on the New Earth.

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Free Unmercenary Physicians Book for Kids!

I don’t know why this didn’t show up on my previous web searches, but the Orthodox Church in America has a nice coloring and activity book PDF, talking about the stories of various doctor saints.

And since pretty much all the pre-conciliar saints and the saints accepted by the Byzantine Rite and other Catholic rites are the same, this is something Catholic kids can (mostly) use too.

(Subject to parental review. And St. Luke of Simferopol and St. Matrona of Moscow seem like good recent folks, but they’re not in any Catholic calendars that I know about. Let’s pray for an end to schisms and divisions among Christians.)

The saints are listed in alphabetical order, not in chronological order. Some of the saints have coloring pages, designed to look like icons.

Unfortunately, some of the activities are not amazing, and the colors and layout are much more like fliers than a book. But I think the PDF “ebook” was really intended as a source for church bulletin inserts, and for printouts for catechetical classes. The maps are a really good thing, and the coloring pages too.

A few of the saints are not physicians, per se, but rather are popular healing saints and/or wonderworkers in the various Eastern churches. For example, St. Artemios of Antioch (Flavius Artemius, who served as dux Aegypti under Constantius II, and was martyred by Emperor Julian the Apostate) was a general and politician. But he’s popular as a saint for intercession in cases of men’s diseases, hernias, gut problems, and psychiatric disorders. (Apparently there were lots of later miracles at his tomb in St. John the Forerunning’s church, in Constantinople.)

(Flavius Artemius was an interesting guy. He actually was a supporter of the Arian bishop of Alexandria, George of Cappadocia, and he did a lot of stuff that would be the work of a villain or a bad official. But at the end, he stood up to Julian when others would not. So he’s probably a good intercessor for any politicians whose soul you worry about.)

Anyway, I don’t know anybody else who’s done a book like this, although saint coloring books are pretty common. It might be a good idea for other Christian churches!

The OCA has similar resources about Orthodox saints with animal friends, and so on. Most of the others are more Orthodox-oriented, although some parts of the books may be suitable for Catholic kids.

Kudos to the artist of the coloring pages!

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The Good Borgia Pope

Yup, there was one. Pope Callixtus III, aka Alfons de Borja. He was a nobleman who became a law professor and a clergyman, and then was asked to tutor King Alfonso V of Aragon’s illegitimate son, Ferrante. The king was so impressed that he had Fr. de Borja appointed bishop of Valencia; and then as a diplomat for Aragon, he impressed Pope Eugenius IV enough to be named a cardinal and asked to serve in Rome. He managed to reconcile his king and his pope, and participated in two papal conclaves, being elected the second time he did so.

He lived an austere and prayerful life, and was much concerned with defending Europe against the Turks, while also promoting spiritual life and the saints. He granted and ran Joan of Arc’s posthumous retrial and acquittal, canonized St. Vincent Ferrer, and called for churches to ring their bells at noon so that people would remember to pray for the crusaders defending Belgrade. After victory over the Turkish siege was achieved on August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration, Pope Callixtus III declared that it was to be celebrated universally in the West, instead of just here and there in places.

He was a good pope. His worst mistake was naming his nephew a cardinal. It was Rodrigo de Borgia who would become the shady Pope Alexander VI, and whose kindred would make a great deal of trouble in Italy.

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Achievement Unlocked

I got a meme post either removed or shadowbanned from a fairly orthodox Catholic subreddit.

(UPDATE BELOW: Nope, I didn’t.)

Apparently, it’s a bad deal to point out, in a meme or the comments, that:

a) Utilitarian arguments against the death penalty are not moral arguments

b) The “seamless garment theory” is not official teaching, and it’s prudential

c) The “seamless garment theory” was invented by Cardinal Bernardin, who was a Very Bad Man and facilitated tons of p*dophile activity

d) The “seamless garment theory” was invented to weaken and dissipate the pro-life movement against abortion and euthanasia, and eventually led to many pro-life Catholics on the left becoming only anti-death penalty for adults, not for babies

I mean, I know a lot of people were not old enough to live through this stuff, but it’s not exactly a secret.

Of course, there was also:

e) Pointing out that if utilitarian arguments against the death penalty are true, the Church always had the obligation to fight the death penalty by supporting more and better prisons, feeding the prisoners as its biggest alms, etc.

(I didn’t get a chance to point out that in fact, the Church generally opposed the existence of prisons, historically, because it was considered much crueller than death. It was very controversial when ecclesiastical figures with temporal powers started running prisons, instead of miraculously unlocking all the doors just by walking by, or getting the secular authorities to agree to free certain prisoners on certain days of the year.)

f) Pointing out that if utilitarian arguments against the death penalty are true, then God is really stingy by only providing evil souls and demons with Hell. Whereas in actual fact, Hell exists as a matter of justice.

So I don’t even know why my post disappeared. Heh, maybe someday I will find out.

UPDATE: It’s back. Apparently some setting got messed up accidentally, so actually I didn’t make the achievement! Well, good. I feel better about participating in discussion groups, if I’m not going to have to worry about some hot take being too hot.

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Annoying Character, Saint’s Name

There are a lot of annoying things about the new animated series, Star Trek: Lower Decks, but the Mary Sue antagonist character actually has a normal sort of name. I know they’re chasing the trend of giving women a “masculine” name, but the origin of the surname baptismal name thing (back in Early Modern times) was unisex. So who cares?

More to the point, “Beckett” is of course the last name of St. Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury and martyr. So even if Ensign Beckett Mariner is annoying and her overall name not euphonious together, her first name is good. And her nameday is December 29.

(Her family probably calls her Becky.)

This particular form of Becket was from Norman French, and meant either “little beak” (bec + -et) or “little stream, beck” (beck + -et). There’s also an English origin surname that means “bee cottage” (beo + kett).

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“My hands, the hands of Christ”

I’ve been chasing this quote a while, in this form, as well as “Christ has no hands but ours/yours” and “Christ has no hands but our hands.” It gets attributed to St. Francis, St. Teresa of Avila, and tons of other saints or religious people.

But apparently this is a version of a real quote from a real saint.

As noted in the post just below, St. Jean-Gabriel Perboyre was a Vincentian missionary in China. On Sept. 11, 1840, he was executed in Wuchang (now part of Wuhan, China) as a traitor in one of the typical ways: tied to a cross, and then strangled by a rope from behind, by the public executioner.

At some point, he had composed a prayer which was included in the 1889 “Vie du Bienheureux Jean-Gabriel Perboyre.” It gets quoted different ways. Here’s the original text, from his French Wikipedia page:

Seigneur, transforme moi 
Que mes mains soient tes mains. 
Que mes yeux soient tes yeux. 
Que ma langue soit ta langue. 
Que mes sens et mon corps ne servent qu'à te glorifier ! 

Mais surtout, transforme-moi 
Que ma mémoire, mon intelligence, mon cœur 
soient ta mémoire, ton intelligence, ton cœur. 
Que mes actions et mes sentiments 
soient semblables à tes actions et à tes sentiments. 

Amen!

Here’s a literal translation into English:

O Lord, transform me. 
May my hands be Your hands. 
May my eyes be Your eyes. 
May my tongue be Your tongue. 
May my mind and my body serve only to glorify You. 

But transform me even more: 
May my memory, my understanding, and my heart 
Be Your memory, Your understanding, and Your heart. 
May my actions and my feelings 
Be likenesses of Your actions and Your feelings. 

Amen!

There’s also a famous hymn/poem from 1919 by Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932) called “The World’s Bible,” which seems to be the biggest source for this quote in English. She was disabled by arthritis while still young, but received consolation from her strong faith.

Christ has no hands but our hands
To do His work today;
He has no feet but our feet
To lead men in His way;
He has no tongues but our tongues
To tell men how He died;
He has no help but our help
To bring them to His side.
We are the only Bible
The careless world will read;
We are the sinner's Gospel,
We are the scoffer's creed;
We are the Lord's last message,
Given in deed and word;
What if the type is crooked?
What if the print is blurred?
What if our hands are busy
With work other than His?
What if our feet are walking
Where sin's allurement is?
What if our tongues are speaking
Of things His lips would spurn?
How can we hope to help Him
And hasten His return?

Before that, there were similar quotes from the Quaker speakers Sarah Eliza Rowntree and Mark Pearse, which seem to have come down through the social justice/liberal side of Christianity.

But those quotes date back to 1888 or so, as opposed to this 1889 quote of a guy who died in 1840.

Of course, the general idea of the Mystical Body comes from St. Paul, and from Jesus. But although we baptized Christians are Christ’s Body mystically, that doesn’t mean that Christ has no body in Heaven or in the Eucharist, or that Christ is powerless if we don’t act. Not only is He alive and active and all-powerful and incarnate. No, if we don’t do it, there’s nothing stopping God from making stones into children of Abraham, or the stones from taking the actions that we’re too lazy to do.

Needless to say, I didn’t find anything in Latin along the lines of “Christus manibus non habet.” The most you get is commentaries pointing out that when the Psalms talk about God’s hand or arm or feet or ears or eyes, the psalmists are not generally being literal. Only Christ is God incarnate, with body parts and clothes. So the idea that this quote is medieval or from the Fathers is just wrong.

But there’s nothing wrong with puttting on Christ and becoming Christ-like, and carrying our crosses like Him. The more we act as His Body and do His Will, the more we let His life come into us and make us eternally alive.

But His hands are our hands when they are wounded, and His Body is our body when we are on the Cross.

That’s the prayer of a martyr. Jesus took him up on it.

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Iffy on New St. Patrick Documentary

So CBN has a documentary/dramatic reenactment thing coming out in theaters for St. Patrick’s Day. Yeah.

I don’t want to rain on anybody’s patristics parade. Protestants are allowed to talk about early Christian saints. There are Irish Protestants, too. Of course he is part of their heritage, too.

But… based on the promotional material, Patrick had to oppose the Church (the whole entire Catholic Church, from Gaul to Constantinople, no doubt) in order to get back to Ireland to do missionary work. Never mind the whole “Go to a really good theology school, train to be a missionary, and then be made a bishop and be sent back to Ireland when you are ready.”

Because Patrick had to obey God rather than man! He was totally a rebel! Who spent his whole apologia and confessio explaining that he did so dot all his i’s!

Of course, I am sure we will get a totally unbiased take on how Patrick’s main trouble was his buddy deciding to mouth off to everyone, about something personal and sinful in his past (probably some kind of teenage pagan rebellious phase) that he had revealed to him, in an attempt to get him taken off the bishop list. (Because Patrick’s friend had to serve God rather than man!)

Apparently this documentary is arguing that Patrick got ordered back to Gaul (or Britain, in this version which is Brit-centric) to answer allegations, and that he defied their orders — on orders from God!

Which is silly. He was a bishop, in the West. He did not have to answer to anybody (except maybe the Pope, who wasn’t pushing this). He was a local primate, and only had to obey himself. People could send him letters, sure, and he could just send letters back. The only real concern would be getting misunderstood. So he sent a letter explaining stuff. Hardly the stuff of defiant! drama!!!

I also expect a lot of blah-blah trying to prove that Celtic Christianity was somehow not Roman Catholic, or trying to make nice with the Eastern churches at the expense of the West, or the rest of the usual silliness.

Of course, it is also possible that CBN will do a straight up scholarly take. CBN has been known to be surprisingly Catholic-friendly at times, and they aired reruns of Ven. Fulton Sheen’s Life Is Worth Living for decades. There is plenty of interesting stuff to explore.

But in that case, they need to work on the promo material.

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Classical Greek Word of the Day

hekibolos means “far-shooter” (or also far-thrower).

It’s an epithet of Apollo, meaning an archer who can shoot someone or something from a long distance away.

So basically, Apollo Sniper.

hekibolos is pronounced “HECK-y Bowl-oss,” where HECK is the primary accent and Bowl is secondary.

Yes, I decided that I was having more fun with the Great Courses channel add-on to Amazon Prime than with Audible, and it’s cheaper too. So I’m back doing Greek 101 again.

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“De Corpore Domini” by St. Albert the Great

This is a work covering similar ground to “On the Most Sacrosanct Sacrament of the Eucharist”. But it’s a series of theological treatises, and it comes from the end of the man’s career.  More later.

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