Friday, February 27, 2009

Carmelite Martyrs and the Infant of Prague

On July 17, 1794, the sixteen Carmelite nuns of Compiegne were guillotined in Paris, convicted of crimes against the state by the tribunal of the French Revolution.Mother Henriette de Jesus, renowned for her great beauty and strong personality, stood up to represent the other Carmelite sisters before the revolutionary tribunal.Since the prosecutor accused the Carmelites of being fanatics and counter-revolutionaries, she asked him to explain the meaning of those words. The irritated judge vomited a torrent of offenses against her, and then said: "It is your attachment to your Religion and the King". Hearing these words, she replied, "I thank you for the explanation". Then, addressing her companion Carmelites, she said: "My dear Mother and my Sisters, we must rejoice and give thanks to God for we die for our Religion, our Faith, and for being members of the Holy Roman Catholic Church".In particular, the Revolution hated the fact that they promoted the counter-revolutionary and royalist devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Infant Jesus of Prague, a long-standing Carmelite devotion associated with royalty and nobility and the Order of Malta in Prague. In truth, however, they were devotions much beloved by the ordinary people - not least, of course, in Ireland where the Carmelites became very popular (I cannot suppress a chuckle to see Irish republican Catholics warmly attached to such royalist devotions!).She was the last one before the Prioress to mount the scaffold to die. To the end, she encouraged her Sisters to persevere. When a charitable person offered a glass of water to one of the Sisters, Mother Henriette told her: "In Heaven, my Sister, in Heaven we will soon have water aplenty to drink."
The late Brazilian Catholic scholar, politician and activist, Professor Plinio Correa de Oliveira comments upon this remarkable story:
"These Sisters knew that they were being put to death for their fidelity to the Catholic Church and the King, but they wanted the prosecutor to admit it out loud, because this would be a public witness of their martyrdom and an encouragement for them in face of the dangers of apostasy. This is why Mother Henriette was charged with asking that question.When the answer came, she was happy and transmitted it to her Mother and Sisters in religion. All of them shared that joy and went forward to die. Mother Henriette, who was very resolute, offered assistance to each of them until the end. Only the Prioress, Mother Teresa of St. Augustine, died after her, because she was the superior, and the Captain must always be the last one to leave the sinking ship...
You can contrast Mother Henriette de Jesus with an imaginary personage in a popular novel, The Dialogue of the Carmelites by George Bernanos. The character was called Blanche de la Force and was presented as a weak and timid Carmelite Sister. She is an imaginary personage, but it is worthwhile considering her, because she represents a common character type. In his novel, Bernanos presented her as a Sister who had panicked when the other Sisters were taken by the revolutionary soldiers and sentenced, and for this reason had apostatized from the Order. She was no longer living inside the Carmelite community, but she went to see the execution of her former companions who would suffer martyrdom that day. The Sisters were chanting the Veni Creator in chorus and, one by one, they walked up the steps to the scaffold to be guillotined. When she saw this, she was moved by a grace, stepped out of the mob and, singing, joined the cortege to be executed along with them.The two attitudes of both religious, Mother Henriette and Sister Blanche, express well the different paths of Divine Providence for different souls - the different marvels God works with His chosen ones. For some He chooses the glory of repentance; this is one of the glories attributed to the Apostles who fled during His Passion. For others He gives the strength that he gave to Mother Henriette of Jesus, that is, to view death from a distance and face it bravely, walking toward it joyfully. This was what He did with Mother Henriette, who helped all the others face their martyrdoms. These are two different paths God chooses to lead and direct souls. Seeing these two contrasting paths, you can admire the infinite beauty of God in the unity and variety of His ways. This is why the Saints are different from one another and why there are different schools of spirituality in the Catholic Church. It serves to show the beauty and richness of Holy Mother Church, a reflection of the beauty of the Heavenly Jerusalem".
The Veni Creator Spiritus is the hymn sung at Pentecost and after, calling upon the Holy Spirit to descend upon us and is often sung at the Ordination of a priest or the Reception of a sister into the convent. It, together with the Whitsun Sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritus, are two of the most ancient and beautiful chants sung by the Roman Church to the Holy Spirit.Here is the Veni Creator sung in Boulogne Cathedral: the best story told of these most holy Carmelites is that told by Gertrude von Le Fort, a German-French convert from Protestantism, who writes superbly well the Bernanos story of Blanche de la Force, the little marchioness who is afraid of her own shadow and flees the convent at the first sign of trouble but returns to watch the other sisters die at the scaffold. There courage suddenly comes to her, almost miraculously. The author tells the story as an observer of these momentous events:"I stood in the midst of the howling rabble. Never have I felt the hopelessness of our position so desperately as then. You know that I am not tall. Chaos surged above me. I was immersed in it. I could not see what happened, I could only hear. All my powers of perception centred in the sense of hearing and sharpened it incredibly.The Carmelites were coming to Revolution Square, singing, just as Sister Marie had expected. Their psalms could be heard from afar and penetrated the screams of the populace with strange clarity. Or did the tumult subside as the victims came in sight? I could scarcely distinguish the last words of the Salve Regina - sung, you know, at the deathbed of a nun - and soon after the first line of the Veni Creator. There was something light and lovely in their singing, something tender and yet strong and serene. Never would I have thought that such song could flow from the lips of those condemned to death. I had been deeply agitated, but when I heard this singing I grew calm. Creator Spiritus, Creator Spiritus - I seemed to hear these two words again and again. They cast anchor within me.The song flowed on full and clear. To judge by the sound, the cart must have been moving very slowly. Probably the crowd blocked the way. I had the feeling that the nuns were still far from the square. For this singing transcended all sense of time; it transcended space, even bloody Revolution Square. Creator Spiritus, Creator Spiritus! It effaced the Guillotine. It effaced even chaos. All at once I had the feeling of standing among human beings again...I was startled - Revolution Square was deathly still. Even at the execution of the King there had not been such utter silence. The song seemed fainter too. Probably the cart had gone on; perhaps it had already reached its goal. My heart began to pound. I was suddenly aware that a very high voice was lacking in the chorus - a moment later, another...I thought that the execution had not even begun and in reality it was almost over!Now only two voices sustained the song. For a moment they hovered like a shining rainbow over Revolution Square. Then one side extinguished. Only the other continued to glow...shimmering...fading - but quickly the song was taken up by another voice, thin, frail, and childlike. I had the impression that it was not coming from the height of the scaffold but from the thick of the crowd, just as if the people were making a response. Wondrous illusion!At the same moment the dense lines heaved and broke. A gap opened right in front of me, just as on that September night. And I saw - exactly as on that night - Blanche de la Force in the seething mass of those dreadful women. Her small pinched face broke forth from its surroundings and cast them aside like a wrap. I recognised her every feature, and yet I did not recognise her face - it was absolutely fearless. She was singing. In her small, weak, childlike voice she sang without a tremor, exulting like a bird! All alone across the great terrible square she sang the Veni Creator of her Carmelite sisters to the very end:Deo Patri sit gloriaEt Filio, qui a mortuisSurrexit, ac ParaclitoIn saeculorum saecula.Distinctly I heard the profession of faith in the Holy Trinity. The Amen I did not hear - the furious women struck her down on the spot.And now, my friend, the rainbow over Revolution Square had died away. And yet I had the feeling that the Revolution was over. As a matter of fact, the Reign of Terror collapsed ten days later."Indeed, it did!For ten days later the leading figure of the Terror, Robespierre, was himself arrested and taken to the Guillotine.The awful murder of the holy Sisters of Carmel had turned even the brutal Paris mob and they had, at last, become sickened. They now demanded the head of the chief terrorist himself.From Heaven, the holy sisters, now rejoined by the little Marquise de la Force, Sister Blanche once more, interceded most powerfully for the devastated vineyard that was France and the 13 month Reign of Terror at long last came to an end.Holy Carmelites of Compiegne, pray for us!...
Posted by Tribunus at 22:52
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Soros Says Current Crisis Worse than Great Depression

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Renowned investor George Soros said on Friday the world financial system has effectively disintegrated, adding that there is yet no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis.
Soros said the turbulence is actually more severe than during the Great Depression, comparing the current situation to the demise of the Soviet Union.
He said the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September marked a turning point in the functioning of the market system.
"We witnessed the collapse of the financial system," Soros said at a Columbia University dinner. "It was placed on life support, and it's still on life support. There's no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom."
His comments echoed those made earlier at the same conference by Paul Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman who is now a top adviser to President Barack Obama.
Volcker said industrial production around the world was declining even more rapidly than in the United States, which is itself under severe strain.
"I don't remember any time, maybe even in the Great Depression, when things went down quite so fast, quite so uniformly around the world," Volcker said.
(Reporting by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa and Juan Lagorio; Editing by Gary Hill)

New Victories of State Sovereignty Movements in New Hampshire and Washington State

, February 05, 2009
New Hampshire and Washington legislators reaffirm states' rights UPDATE: 8 more states
I'm having difficulty deciding which recently-introduced legislation I like better: New Hampshire's House Concurrent Resolution 6 "affirming States’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles" or Washington State's House Joint Memorial 4009 "claiming state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment"
On initial inspection, the New Hampshire resolution is superior. It's a beautifully written document and by far the more radical. The preambulatory clauses tell the history of New Hampshire's contribution to the US Constitution's Ninth and Tenth Amendments and the active clauses lay out and affirm an effective, detailed, and well-explained case:
That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes, -- delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government
My favourite part of the resolution is the end, which asserts the doctrine of nullification and calls for a dissolution of the Union should the US Government extend its reach beyond certain limits:
That any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America. Acts which would cause such a nullification include, but are not limited to:
I. Establishing martial law or a state of emergency within one of the States comprising the United States of America without the consent of the legislature of that State.
II. Requiring involuntary servitude, or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.
III. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.
IV. Surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government.
V. Any act regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press.
VI. Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition; and
That should any such act of Congress become law or Executive Order or Judicial Order be put into force, all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually. Any future government of the United States of America shall require ratification of three quarters of the States seeking to form a government of the United States of America and shall not be binding upon any State not seeking to form such a government;
The Washington resolution is much shorter, less elegant, and is directed towards the US President, not the several states like New Hampshire's. But there is much to be said for concision. Though the 18th century literate American provincial may have been at ease with the embellished language of the New Hampshire resolution, to the average 21st century reader it may pass from articulacy to prolixity; for him, NH HCR6 might as well be as incomprehensible and protracted as the USA PATRIOT Act or the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.
The preamble of the Washington resolution lays out a simple textual and historical case for a states' rights reading of the US Constitution that should be intelligible to any college graduate (but not to any Supreme Court Justice):
WHEREAS, The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States specifically provides that, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”; and
WHEREAS, The Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being those powers specifically granted to it by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and
WHEREAS, Federalism is the constitutional division of powers between the national and state governments and is widely regarded as one of America’s most valuable contributions to political science; and
WHEREAS, James Madison, “the father of the Constitution,” said, “The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people.”; and
WHEREAS, Thomas Jefferson emphasized that the states are not ”subordinate” to the national government, but rather the two are “coordinate departments of one simple and integral whole. The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government.”; and
WHEREAS, Alexander Hamilton expressed his hope that “the people will always take care to preserve the constitutional equilibrium between the general and the state governments.” He believed that “this balance between the national and state governments forms a double security to the people. If one [government] encroaches on their rights, they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from overpassing their constitutional limits by [the] certain rivalship which will ever subsist between them.”; and
WHEREAS, The scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be limited in its powers relative to those of the various states;
You can read each resolutions below the break and decide which you prefer for yourself.
UPDATE: A spate of these "10th Amendment resolutions" at the state level seems to have been sparked with last year's failed HJR 1089 [pdf] in Oklahoma "claiming sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over certain powers; serving notice to the federal government to cease and desist certain mandates; and directing distribution." The sponsor of that bill, Rep. Charles Key (R) is working on introducing similar legislation (HJR 1003) [rtf] this year which he says is likely to pass as a Republican-controlled Legislature convenes for the first time in state history. Also in 2009, "10th Amendment resolutions" have been introduced in Arizona (HCR 2024), Michigan (HCR 0004), Missouri (HR 212), while in Montana, HB 246 uses 10th, 9th, and 2nd Amendment reasoning for "an Act exempting from federal regulation under the commerce clause of the constitution of the United States a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured and retained in Montana..."
With New Hampshire and Washington, that brings the total number of these resolutions introduced in 2009 to 7.
UPDATE 2: Dave Nalle writes, in "State Sovereignty Movement Quietly Growing":
As things stand right now it looks like Oklahoma, Washington, Hawaii, Missouri, Arizona, New Hampshire, Georgia, California, Michigan and Montana will all definitely consider sovereignty bills this year. They may be joined by Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Alaska, Kansas, Alabama, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania where legislators have pledged to introduce similar bills. Twenty states standing up to the federal government and demanding a return to constitutional principles is a great start, but it remains to be seen whether legislatures and governors are brave enough or angry enough to follow through. As the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress push for more expansion of federal power and spending that may help provide the motivation needed for the sovereignty movement to take off.
If you're keeping count, that brings us up to 10 states

Monday, February 16, 2009

Interview with Bishop Williamson on "Back to the Land Movement"

These are some excerpts from the February 6, 2008 interview by Steven Heiner with Bishop Williamson. These excerpts deal with His Excellency's comments on the "Back to the Land Movement":
Heiner: "It is said that the dino-bishop Williamsorus Rex, is overly pessimistic....So let me frame the next series of questions for you to tell us where you see hope, and where we need improvement.

Williamson: "Ways of Life": Many traditional Catholics are beginning to see the radical artificiality of the suburban way of life. That's hopeful. Broadly, the big modern city and suburbs are 24/7 anti-Catholic environment. Broadly, the more a family can keep away from electronics and return to nature, or the country, the better. However, a return to the country and country living, which is much more healthy for children, needs to be well thought out, and planned beforehand, if it is to succeed and not fail of its purpose."

Heiner: Going back to the idea of the land, in the Archbishop's sermon for his priestly jubilee on the Feast of St. Pius X, 1979, in Paris, he is quoted as saying (and here I am quoting from the Bishop Tissier de Mallerais biograph, p. 513) that families should "home-school if possible, and go back to the land, which is healthy, brings one closer to God, evens out temperments, and encourages one to work." Some people have said that this quote is "out of context," but given the way that the Archbishop favored Econe's rural setting, can one seriously maintain that the Archbishop did not advocate returning to the land where possible? And in what context could this be placed to have a different meaning?

Williamson: Obviously, the Archbishop meant what he said. Countless serious thinkers, and not only Catholics, have understood how harmful the big modern city is to human beings living human lives, let alone getting to Heaven. The Archbishop is merely saying what is common sense for anyone who has thought about the matter. But of course it is somewhat demanding common sense. Which is why someone might invent a convenient excuse to get out of it, like the quote "out of context."

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Real Fr. Le Floch

In light of the distortion of Fr. Le Floch's reputation by various Neo-Con Feminist elements within Catholic Tradition, I have decided to put on this blog certain sections of the biography of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre written by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais. These sections show how Fr. Le Floch was removed from the French college in Rome on account of his purported association with Action Francaise --- when in fact he simply agreed with much of what this French Monarchist movement was saying in the sphere of politics and history. Fr. Le Floch was removed from the French seminary in Rome for his militant "anti-Liberalism." Please read the relevant citations below:
From pages 50-52 of the Archbishop's biography: "Pius XI wanted less belligerent bishops who were more open to his politics of "detente and reconciliation." Looking back on the crisis, Archbishop Lefebvre took a rather dim view of Pius XI's religions politics. 'On the doctrinal level (i.e., on the Social Kingship of Christ), Pius XI was not a liberal.' But he was weak, very weak in the practical sphere.' 'He was rather inclined to compromise with the world.' Moreover, like Leo XIII, Pius XI 'was anxious to deal with the de facto governments, whether they were Masonic or revolutionary and he gave 'by his example the wrong impression' to those with whom he dealt.' Teaching a divinely revealed Faith and serving the divinely assisted Roman magisterium, Fr. Le Floch was entirely opposed to the positive and empirical school of Action Francaise. The only common ground the Father Superior could find with Action Francaise was that 'we are fighting against liberalism, laicism, and the principles of the French Revolution from a doctrinal point of view. Action Francaise is fighting against the same errors but from a political point of view.' He was nonetheless careful to tell his seminarians as they left in July 1926: the Seminary is 'neither for nor against Action Francaise. Not for, since it is a political organization, and not against for the same reason. As far as some of Maurras's works are concerned, we condemn in them what Catholic doctrine condemns.'"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Crisis of Liberalism

This blog will be part of my on going coverage of the global crisis of the Liberal System.