Don’t be a Superspreader This Thanksgiving!

I urge you to maintain proper social distancing at your Thanksgiving dinner.

Greet each other from a distance using hand signals or semaphore, with no personal contact.

Sit at least six feet apart from each other.

No passing food back and forth — the meal should be served in previously prepared portions sealed in individual plastic containers or pouches that have been sanitized before distribution.

Wear your masks between bites.

There should be no conversation during the meal. Instead, people may send text messages to each other via hand-held devices.

Singing, humming, whistling, and non-silent prayers should be completely avoided.

Enjoy yourself, and have a SAFE Thanksgiving!

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When I sent the future Baron these guidelines for a COVID-compliant Thanksgiving, he replied: “The sad thing is, this doesn’t sound like satire.”

I wrote back:

No, it’s not really. I just took the requirements from the diocesan “guidelines” for safe worship, and adapted them. And threw in a little sarcasm.

The latest innovation from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia is the fortuitous invention of the “singing mask”. Choral singing is allowed if the singers wear the singing mask. The congregation can’t sing, but a limited subset of the choir can (I forget how many, maybe ten or fewer). The singers must be spaced at least six feet from each other, and at least twenty feet from their audience.

And no, I’m not making this up.

Moving On

This was the new “sticky” post for the extended summer fundraiser. It was first posted on September 1; scroll down for lots of newer articles and videos.

Final Update September 10, 9:00pm EDT

The end of the summer fundraiser is already more than two weeks overdue, and fall will officially begin in just a few more days, so it’s time to put an end to this bleg. Even though I haven’t made a final decision about which alternative to PayPal to use, I’ve taken this post off sticky and will let it recede in the rearview mirror while I consider my options.

The snail-mail response to my appeal was nothing short of astonishing. The total raised by that and other methods was well over 50% of the average, enough to see me through at least one more quarter without any difficulty. I thank you all for your amazing generosity, and thank-you emails are still being sent out.

I had to rule out several possible alternative payment services for various reasons — they wouldn’t accept me, or they didn’t allow for “donate” buttons, or they required a cell phone, etc. There are several more that I haven’t looked at yet, and two that I am actively considering, TipSmack and GiveSendGo. The former takes a 10% cut, which is the main reason I haven’t yet signed up. The latter is a free Christian fundraising service, and looks promising. I’ll be examining it more closely in the next day or two.

I may end up trying both of them, so as to have a more robust fundraising capability. I’ll continue to offer the possibility of using snail mail, for those who don’t want to see 10% of their gift siphoned off.

Which reminds me: if you want to send a snail-mail donation, please email me at gatesofvienna {at} chromatism {dot} net, and I’ll send the address to you.

Of the other methods used to send donations, Western Union looked promising. However, today I received this note from one of my British donors, who had sent money to me that way:

I think I have been cancelled by Western Union!

When I sent that payment to you, that was the first time I had anything to do with them. At the time I didn’t include your email address because it said it was optional. I was just thinking of sending you another payment, and on this occasion I included your email address, thinking you would be advised at the same time as I made the payment.

Guess what happened?

I went to send the money, and before the payment was authorised I got some message that came up on the screen saying something like, ‘Payment cannot be made — your status is being reviewed’, whatever that means.

They have since said, ‘Sorry we can’t make the payment for you,” without giving any further explanation.

They gave me a UK number to ring, so I thought I would ask for an explanation. I just got this message ‘calls to this number are barred.’

I told him it was starting to sound like a Thomas Pynchon novel.

So it looks like Western Union may be out, but we’ll see.

When I’ve settled on one or more online payments services, I’ll let you know. And I’ll be holding another fundraiser, but given all the complications, I don’t know whether it will be autumn or winter.

The astonishingly generous donations flowed in from:

Stateside: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Victoria

I’ll see you when the weather gets cold!

Update September 5 8:45pm EDT

I’ll take a break from the relentless fundraising saga and tell a little story.

Yesterday afternoon I went to the cardiologist’s to take my first-ever stress test. For those of you who haven’t had one, that’s when they make you walk on a treadmill and increase the speed until you almost have a heart attack.

OK, that’s not fair; it isn’t really that awful. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I had expected. They just worked me harder than I ever work myself, with EKG leads and a blood pressure collar attached. I was breathing hard and sick of it by the time they let me quit, but it was generally OK. The good news is that my heart performed normally, and my blood pressure did exactly what was expected of it. Despite my advanced age, my heart is apparently in good shape.

I celebrated the occasion late this afternoon by going out in the early-onset fall weather and doing some heavy-duty lawnmowing. I have a big new 8.5 horsepower Briggs & Stratton push mower (not self-propelled), and I wrestled with it non-stop for an hour and a half in the difficult areas alongside the driveway, at the edge of the woods. Without being nervous or anxious, because I’d been worked harder than that with an EKG attached, and passed with flying colors. No need to worry!

When I mow the lawn, I limit myself to a single tank of gas, so as not to overdo it, and that usually means an hour to an hour and a half. When I was done and sat down to rest on the front porch, I felt great.

It made me think of something Isak Dinesen wrote. I’m paraphrasing, because I never actually read it myself — Dymphna read it to me decades ago, and it was so striking that I have retained the gist of it ever since. Ms. Dinesen listed the three conditions necessary for true happiness: To live in the absence of pain, to feel in oneself a sufficiency of strength, and to know that one is doing the will of God.

Life is good.

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Fundraising in the Time of Corona

This was the “sticky” post for the spring fundraiser. It was first published on May 25, and was on top throughout fundraising week. Scroll down for items posted on and after that date.

Spring Fundraiser 2020, Day Seven

Sunday’s Update: A Diversity Flashback

We’re moving into the final day of what has been a very unusual fundraising week.

Tip jarThere was no way to tell in advance how this quarter’s fundraiser might turn out, given the economic devastation that is enshrouding most of the Western world. Would anybody have spare cash to donate to a minor website?

Would anyone even be paying attention?

Well… Up until now there have been a greater than average number of donations — which is astonishing. Yet the total amount that has come in is somewhat less than average, which isn’t surprising at all, since most people have been hit hard financially for the past two months or so. It’s gratifying that so many have been willing to chip in, under the circumstances.

If you haven’t got around to it yet, the tip jar is on the sidebar, or you can use this link.

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Instead of another COVID-related update, I’ll close this fundraiser with a blast from the past. The excerpt below was written by Dymphna almost exactly eight years ago, on June 4, 2012, for the final fundraising post of that year’s spring fundraiser.

The theme for that week’s bleg was “Diversity”, and she wrapped everything up with the following remarks:

The subject of Diversity is fraught. So for this Fundraiser, I’ve deliberately kept the lid on certain subjects. They can accumulate like barnacles or smart bombs on the wall of diversity, or rather on the battlements of modern, top-down “Diversity”. As is true of any other project, some stuff has to be routinely scraped off so you can see what’s underneath, yet other junk — whilst appearing to be identical — will blow up in your face. Frankly, the explosions aren’t interesting anymore.

It is the former which draws my curiosity. .The latter, full of traps like the origins or even the existence of “global” “warming” — oops, climate change…oops, methane in the atmosphere. Whatever. Any point in “discussing” those issues is long past. Those in Charge will tell you ahead of time: “It’s settled…” “Consensus Has Been Reached”… “Everyone Knows”… “Only an Idiot Would Think Such a Thing”….and so on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Have you noticed that the more fervently views on such issues are clung to (bitterly), the less room there is for Reason or even the possibility of entertaining alternate ideas? Entertaining ideas? Enter that realm at your own risk.

Here’s a partial list of Don’t-Go-There-Unless-You-Want-a-Fight hot buttons. No particular order here, simply a reflection of what I’ve been reading and thinking about. These are only contentions; I have no solutions. The mysteries of life usually don’t come with quick remedies:

  • Abortion. Or not. When does life begin to have value? No, it’s not “settled”. Look up the numbers of those who believe religiously in #1 vs. those who think the prize is behind Door #2. Just don’t put these folks in the same room.
  • Gender. What could be simpler: This is a girl; see that little cleft where her penis should be? This is a boy, see his penis hanging there? Gender-bending is occurring at younger and younger ages, much to the horrified sorrow of parents caught in a five year-old’s intense identity crisis. It may well be that the crisis is real enough, but it could turn out to be just one manifestation of a larger, more complex reality than the one we can see. Human beings are quite malleable, but they are also fragile. The times in which we live, where sexual identity is up for grabs — literally — are reflected in many issues, and one of them is seen in these canary children. In different times most of them would’ve been spared this assault from the zeitgeist, an assault which begins during the dark floaty existence in utero. Were there no assaults from the residues of psychotropic drugs left in the drinking water (just to name one possible influence), or the constant low-level cultural exposure to increasingly depraved pornography, these children could have lived within the boundaries of their respective anatomy without a blip. When times simplify again — and they surely will — outlier cases will recede again. That’s not much comfort now to these kids or their parents as they stumble through the nightmare.
  • Religion is a crutch vs. Spirituality is a part of human experience. The former has become the more intellectually acceptable attitude of late, though one wonders what insecurity keeps the more aggressively devout unbelievers at their megaphones, proselytizing like hard-shell Mississippi Baptists. You begin to ask if there is some fervent need on their part to save the unwashed from arrant foolishness. Perhaps a good dose of American history about the cycles of the Great Awakenings in the 18th and 19th centuries would at least help the ardent atheists this side of the Atlantic to gain some perspective.

    My guess regarding the foundation of this popular orthodoxy among the media gatekeepers? It’s high school redux: they want to be with the cool kids and they don’t want to have to actually study anything. Aping your betters is so much easier, especially if your “educated” betters are being all edgy and you know it will irritate those boring duds in Flyover Country… As is the case for other media belief blankets, if you want to hear another side (and there is more than one) you’ll have to hunt for it on your own. What surprises me is the number of people who do — want to hear another point of view, I mean.

  • Sex among adults. Interestingly, as the results from the Boomer generation become apparent, and the laws of unintended consequences begin to take their toll, their children are turning away from their parents’ youthful decisions to let it all hang out. They see the results and politely decline. Or at least the ones who catch on early enough do so. They know the health risks for both sexes of too many sexual partners. They understand the complexities of bonding better than their naïve parents did. Except for the one percent — those befuddled “Occupy” useful tools — for the most part middle-class kids have turned back the clock. Of course many of them face rigors their parents did not: huge education debt, a poor job market, and increasing balkanization by class. Their lives will be tougher in many ways, but then so will they. At least the ones who aren’t forced to move back home, much the same way their great grandparents had to do to get by.
  • Sex with children as the new norm. Nope, that’s not worth our time. The downward deviancy of our culture was seen two generations ago and I’m sure it’s not hit bottom yet. But it will. In the meantime, let’s not contribute to the pollution.
  • Death. Like the beginnings of life, its endings are becoming more fungible. The Right to Die vs. the Responsibility to Die. Our old are becoming the Ice Floe Generation. And who gets to decide whose life has meaning or value? Recently, a couple sued for Wrongful Birth when their child was born with congenital anomalies the parents believed they should have been told about ahead of time. Among the nettles were questions like financial responsibility for this life no one wants. This question lies floundering side-by-side with the reality of aborted, breathing fetuses who are killed on the operating table without a qualm. Are we confused or what?
  • Trash. There are lots more thorns and contention here, but let’s end with garbage, with refuse, with detritus. Like global warming, there are folks on both sides of the Religion of Recycling, which is a smaller denomination of the colossal Environmental Cathedral — and that place makes Vatican City look like a high-rise tenement. Again, this subject has sectarian overtones in the higher reaches (or screeches) of the True Believers. For the dissidents there is often no choice: just because you can ‘prove’ your locality saves nothing by recycling doesn’t mean you can opt out. There are handy garbage technologies in your wheelie bin that will see you fined or put in jail if you don’t conform.

    One of the dystopian uncharms of living in an urban landscape is unending trash. But city-slicker trash has become another source of revenue for cash-poor rural areas. While the downside is that the nearby urban poor often find it cheaper to skulk out here to the country and leave their bags of unidentifiable refuse because they can’t afford the trash stickers the city makes them buy, there’s an upside to this. Big cities up North will pay good money to poor rural areas if they’ll take the garbage out. Thus many county boards of supervisors do just that, and this venture keeps the real estate tax rate down for the bumpkins.

    Don’t you wonder where this will lead as consumers are unable to continue consuming? Will trash reduce itself to an endangered species? In order to continue the justification of its existence, will the EPA have to step in with emergency rulings?

Diverse contentions. They’re endless and they get more polarized all the time. As resources get thin on the ground, look for the rigidities to worsen. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of living in interesting times. I’m ready for a good long spell of boredom — kind of like those endless amber waves of grain we don’t have anymore because they hybridized all the wheat. Modern varieties are now too short to wave at anyone.

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The photo below was taken in the late 1990s. It shows Dymphna on her 58th birthday:

It’s probably the last image of her that I’ll scan and post, unless I happen upon another trove of lost photos. She gave her permission for me to post just one, the photo of her holding a puppy that I included with my eulogy for her last June.

However, I figure that her attitude about such things is probably more relaxed now that she is incorporeal. The photos of her that I’ve posted here over the past twelve months are excellent ones, in my opinion. She is exactly herself in them, and I cherish them more than words can say. I think she’s OK with my including them here.

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Saturday’s gifts came in from:

Stateside: California, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Texas

Far Abroad: Australia and the UK

Canada: Ontario

I’ll be back in a few days to post a wrap-up with the final tally of locations.

The next fundraiser will begin sometime in the hot, hot summer. Who knows what the coronacrisis will have morphed into by then?

Many thanks to everyone for their generosity.

Saturday’s Update: Who is That Masked Man?

We’re moving into the penultimate day of Gates of Vienna’s quarterly fundraiser.

Readers who are sheltering in place at home and have nothing better to do are invited to send a modest donation by way of the tip cup on the sidebar (or by using this link).

Those small individual gifts are the way I keep this blog going. If a significant number of readers give a little bit each, it adds up to enough to pay for the site and keep me in cheese and crackers for another quarter.

Full disclosure: This website is not corona-compliant. Its proprietor is a coronadissident who refuses to wear a mask.

Since yesterday morning’s update I became aware of an article published by the The New England Journal of Medicinethat bolsters my dissident stance. It concerns the ineffectiveness of wearing a mask as a means of preventing the spread of COVID-19. One of our commenters mentioned it, but I also ran across it on Twitter.

This was actually published in April, but for some reason is only now drawing attention:

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Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I’ll be involved with family doings quite a bit for the next couple of days, so posting will be light. However, I hope to be able to put up the news feed every evening, if all goes well.

The Goal Has Been Reached

Taken together, the PayPal donations, snail-mail gifts, and donations to the GoFundMe page have now reached and exceeded the costs of Dymphna’s funeral expenses. You needn’t donate to the GoFundMe any longer; everything has been taken care of. As I mentioned earlier, any additional amounts that are specifically earmarked for the funeral will be donated to a reputable local charity that helps victims of sexual assault, including children.

Any words I might choose to express my gratitude are inadequate. The response over the past ten days has been staggering. I now have an idea of how many people truly appreciated Dymphna’s work.

My current situation: I’m trying to forestall the depression and isolation that so frequently afflict a man after the sudden death of his wife. My tendency at the moment is to wander aimlessly around this empty house, bouncing back and forth like a ping-pong ball in a shoebox. I’m fighting that by the time-honored method of going back to work.

Sitting down in this chair and starting to post again is the rough equivalent of the widower showing up at the office on the Monday morning following the funeral. Work is what he needs to keep himself on an even keel. He has a glazed look in his eyes, and his productivity is not up to his usual standards, but his boss (if he has a good one) is patient and understanding.

I don’t have any boss except for you, our readers, and I know you’re being patient. I suppose Vlad comes close to being my boss, although we’re actually more like unpaid business partners. In any case, he’s being patient with me, too.

I see that another subtitle file (translated from the French) has just come in. It needs editing and formatting, so I’d best stop my meandering and buckle down to work.

Thank you all once again. I’m sending out responses to everyone, both by email and snail-mail, but it will take a while, because there are so many of them.

President Trump Visits That Sceptered Isle…

Long may it reign.

With Winston Churchill’s bust back in the White House, one prays it is not too late to celebrate our friendship.

For our British friends, a favorite quote from Richard II, describing your kingdom:

This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands,–This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

Near the end of the play, Shakespeare has Richard sigh, “I wasted time, now time doth waste me…”

God save the Queen and keep her country safe from Charles.

An Old Tale for the Feast of Saint Dymphna

This essay first appeared in 2005 on my old blog. A reader from the past suddenly turned up with a reminder that today is May 15th, Dymphna’s Day – I had forgotten; May has continued to clutter up with remembrances as the years fly on.

So here’s the post resurrected from its original spot and planted as is, or was, though some of the nonessential facts are no longer au courant.

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The saints’ stories were among my favorites growing up. I don’t mean the anemic virgins-and-martyrs-eaten-by-lions books, illustrated with men and women lifting their eyes heavenwards as the lions stalked them in the background, waiting for the blessing of the food before they ate it. Nor did St. Sebastian, his body full of arrows, hold my attention, other than a brief look —“yikes”— and turn the page, please.

There were lots of men and women who were canonized for more mundane reasons than dying for their faith and it was their stories which attracted me. In my house, being full as it was of expatriate Dubliners, St. Patrick had pride of place. My mother never quite got over the fact that while New York City and Savannah had large parades on his feast day, the rest of the country used it as an excuse to drink green beer. In Ireland, on St. Patrick’s Day, in serious honor to his name, the bars were all closed and the churches were open.

Alongside St. Patrick there was St. Bridgid. Early on, the Catholic Church had a rough gender equality; frequently a male saint had a companion female saint. They usually knew one another. To my mind, some of them probably got up to a little hanky-panky: the intensity of the holy can do that. One thinks of Heloise and Abelard, those star-crossed lovers who veered from the paths of holiness, dropping off into the ravines of fleshly distractions. In Spain, St. Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross were friends. He was the more mystic of the two; she was the reformer.

The thing is, the desire for union with God and the desire for union with another human being arise from the same root — the urge for transcendence, for flight from our solitary experience, for immortality. Given our differing temperaments, predilections, and experiences we can diverge in many ways from the usual paths of what the Church used to term “vocation.” The idea was not that we chose what we would do with our lives; instead we were to listen to that small inner voice in order to be given our marching orders. Within evangelical circles, I believe the term “calling” refers particularly to some kind of ministry. Back in the old pre-Vatican II days, it meant that you were supposed to have divine assistance in trying to figure out what you were going to do with this, your one and only life. Some of those choices were limited; now there are almost no limits at all and young people freeze in the quandary of too much choice and too little direction. Saint Dymphna’s situation was familiar: her “vocation” was not what she chose but rather what was forced upon her by circumstance.

But before we consider her story, let’s discuss its veracity. The oral tradition surrounding Saint Dymphna probably points to a real person, given some of the artifacts. In Roman Catholic terms, the relics of Dymphna are considered “first class” relics. But that’s hardly important here since we are talking about a mythos which likely formed around an all-too-familiar story, a situation which repeated itself through the generations in many areas of Europe (the story is too old to call these “countries” in the modern sense). There are similarly named women with comparable stories in Ireland and in Germany.

Since we can’t know for sure, and since there seem to be physical remnants of someone in a final resting place, I choose to envision Dymphna as real. For lack of a better term, call her my transitional object. But that’s my meaning: you can read her story and decide its significance for yourself. I am merely the teller of the tale. Since there are variations in the stories, I have chosen to present the dominant narrative while appropriating elements from various accounts.

Dymphna was born in the 7th century (a contemporary of Mohammed, though as far from Allah’s servant as one can be and still exist on the same planet). She was the daughter of an Irish chieftain father, Damon, and an unnamed Christian mother. At least this is how most stories present her parentage. Since Patrick knew intimately the clan system in Ireland his strategy was to convert all the chieftains first, knowing the rest would follow (a good strategy. It worked with Constantinople). Thus, it’s likely Damon was in fact a Christian, though this takes some of the luster off the shamrock. To get around the problem of his obviously murderous tendencies, he is often portrayed as a pagan rather than a Christian. Hagiography is not history.

The tragedy opens when Dymphna is an adolescent. Her mother dies, leaving behind a deeply grieving widower and his daughter. The solution for his bereavement, suggested by his councilors, is to find a replacement for dead wife. The king agrees to this advice and begins the search for a successor to his wife.

He had only two stipulations: the candidate must be nobly born and she must resemble his dead wife. Having lived among Celts all my life, I don’t find the latter requirement to be very difficult — there can be a sameness running through some of us — but it was a problem for the chieftain . After searching the kingdom — and several other clans, who knows? — no woman was presented who qualified on both counts. The king (King, Chieftain, it’s all the same. Ask an Irishman and he’ll tell you he’s “Irish all the way back to the Kings”) grew ever more melancholy until (as you guessed) his eye fell upon his daughter. She fit both requirements: she was both nobly born and she was, most unfortunately for her, the spitting image of her mother. Problem solved. Damon would marry his child.

Dymphna, let us say, demurred. Her immediate response? Probably “Yecch!” or its Gaelic equivalent. The notion of marrying one’s own father may be a genetically hard-wired disinclination; it may be that and an admixture of social conditioning about what one does or does not do with one’s elders. Whatever the reason, Dymphna declined. She declined repeatedly. When push came to shove, Dymphna did the intelligent and courageous thing: she left for parts unknown. Even though her flight failed to save her, I’ll explain later why it was a smart move, however flawed it may have been in its execution.

It was also a good strategy to take others with her. There is a safety in numbers when you are fleeing someone dangerous. This is not universally true, of course, but to this day it remains a good idea to move en tourage, especially if those around you are devoted to your safety. Dymphna took her elderly confessor, Gerebemus — and some versions claim she also fled with the court jester and his wife. This strikes me as an anachronism. Did Irish chieftains maintain court jesters in the 6th century? Given what we know about the temperament of Irish chieftains, a jester in his court would seem to be an occupation with a short shelf life. And if this couple did go along we hear nothing further of them once Ireland has been left behind.

When they come aground, Dymphna and Gerebemus are in Antwerp. They move on from there to the town of Gheel, or Geel, some twenty-five miles away. Once there, Dymphna set up some kind of hermitage for herself and for Gerebemus. A Catholic church was already in existence so Dymphna’s arrival would not have been untoward. A devout, wealthy woman could well have been a welcome addition in a small town.

In short order, Dymphna was reputed to have healing powers. Being a foreigner, this power would more likely be conferred upon her than it would have been to someone known to the inhabitants from childhood. And her resources, which enabled her to purchase the poultices and powders for healing, would have added to her reputation for curing the sick. However, it was the use of her wealth which allowed her father to track her down. Sending out his minions to trace the path of the gold coins used along her route of escape — his gold coins — it wasn’t difficult to find an errant daughter. In short order, the Irish chieftain faced his prey.

Once more Dymphna was given her choice: marriage to her father or death. Gerebemus, her old confessor, attempted to ward off the King. He was summarily executed. Dymphna was adamant: she wouldn’t marry her father and she was going to remain where she was. Her father beheaded Dymphna then and there and returned to Ireland, leaving his daughter’s body and that of Gerebemus where they lay.

One account I read a few years ago (and cannot find) said that the townspeople were so remorseful at having failed to protect Dymphna, and felt so keenly their loss, that they entombed the bodies together and built a shrine in their memory. As it goes in these stories, accounts of miraculous cures began to accumulate, enough of them over a long enough period of time that eventually a church was built in Dymphna’s honor and her remains were placed there (those of Gerebemus were by most accounts removed to Kanten, though Sonsbeck, Germany claims his relics, except for his head, which supposedly remains with Dymphna in Gheel). The church burned in 1489 and was rebuilt in 1532. It still stands.

At some point, probably in the 17th century, an asylum was established in Gheel, no doubt partly based on the fact that the shrine to Saint Dymphna was alleged to have cured people with epilepsy and emotional ailments. Like Dymphna herself, though, this hospital was no ordinary venture. When patients arrive in Gheel, they are institutionalized for observation and then gradually released into the community to live and work among the townspeople. This unique (and I use the word advisedly since I know of no other such arrangement between consensual reality and lunacy) seems to have great efficacy.

Other countries came to study the Gheel model. Whether it translates to anywhere else is questionable, however. Remember that Gheel’s original response, all those centuries ago, was one of remorse for having failed to protect a young girl from a horrible death at the hands of her father. In our “so-sorry” culture, where the rush to forgive the tyrant while the victims lie bleeding, such a transplant is probably not possible.

Dymphna was not a victim. She failed to achieve her freedom, but she never knuckled under and she refused to be cowed by a homicidally melancholic father. No, Dymphna is a victor. Her life is proof that there are worse things than dying. Her decision to leave an intolerable situation was wise. Her lack of cunning in using the gold coins which permitted her determined “lover” to find her is often repeated today when abused women run, only to be tracked down by their trail of credit card receipts.

The original appended notes are below the fold.

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Pope Benedict’s New Epistle

This item was in our newsfeed the other day, but it’s worth a closer examination:

Benedict’s letter came out on April 11th. No doubt the timing is deliberate: a bit of kairos (i.e, the proper time). At any rate, timely enough for it to spread throughout the Church during Holy Week. Heaven only knows what Gethsemane Benedict will face for this uppity act of disobedience. He was, after all, given orders to keep his trap shut. Maybe at the age of ninety, he’s decided discretion is the better part of valor after all.

One does hope he’s been permitted to retain a food taster on staff.

Here is the full text.

And some commentary:

Tracing the sexual revolution in Germany and Austria via an account of state-sponsored sex-ed films for children and youth showing sexual intercourse, Pope Benedict’s letter then notes the betrayal of theologians regarding the rejection of the concept of intrinsic evil – the concept that there are “actions which were always and under all circumstances to be classified as evil.”

Benedict recalls how Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor was denounced by the leading German theologian because of its inclusion of intrinsic evil.

Explaining the concept in defense of Pope John Paul, Benedict writes: “[John Paul] knew that he must leave no doubt about the fact that the moral calculus involved in balancing goods must respect a final limit. There are goods that are never subject to trade-offs. There are values which must never be abandoned for a greater value and even surpass the preservation of physical life. There is martyrdom. God is (about) more than mere physical survival. A life that would be bought by the denial of God, a life that is based on a final lie, is a non-life.”

Turning to the moral corruption of the clergy, Benedict writes that during the 1960s, “In various seminaries homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries.” He notes that when the Vatican tried to investigate such things they were blocked.

From a seemingly detached position, Benedict notes that the “criteria for the selection and appointment of bishops had also been changed after the Second Vatican Council… Above all, a criterion for the appointment of new bishops was now their ‘conciliarity.’” He adds: “Indeed, in many parts of the Church, conciliar attitudes were understood to mean having a critical or negative attitude towards the hitherto existing tradition, which was now to be replaced by a new, radically open relationship with the world.”

Giving an example, the Pope Emeritus relates, “One bishop (whom he does not name), who had previously been seminary rector, had arranged for the seminarians to be shown pornographic films, allegedly with the intention of thus making them resistant to behavior contrary to the faith.”

Summarizing in one paragraph the severity of the problem Benedict writes:

There were — not only in the United States of America — individual bishops who rejected the Catholic tradition as a whole and sought to bring about a kind of new, modern “Catholicity” in their dioceses. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that in not a few seminaries, students caught reading my books were considered unsuitable for the priesthood. My books were hidden away, like bad literature, and only read under the desk.

The Pope Emeritus recalls the words of Jesus: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42) relating them to an abuse of the faith. “The phrase ‘the little ones’ in the language of Jesus means the common believers who can be confounded in their faith by the intellectual arrogance of those who think they are clever. So here Jesus protects the deposit of the faith with an emphatic threat of punishment to those who do it harm,” explains Benedict.

Some of the faithful are saying that Benedict is not accepting his own responsibility in this mess. They have a point; it is generations old and there was public talk about an old friend of his – a prelate in Mexico, if I remember correctly. But it’s been a right good while since I tried to remember that name.

Happy Birthday, Emmylou Harris

Ms. Harris wrote this song for her father, Walter Harris, a Marine who served in both World War II and Korea as a fighter pilot, flying Corsairs. He was shot down in Korea and spent almost a year in a North Korean POW camp. Major Harris is buried in Arlington National Cemetery*, where lie many of our heroes.

*[Arlington belonged to the family of Robert E. Lee’s wife, a Custis by birth. The Union took over the house and began burying their dead on the property well before the Civil War ended. Lee never lived there again, moving to Richmond after the War.]

The lyrics are below the fold.

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Gaudete Sunday 2018

Advent is/was a time of somber reflection.

To break the grey, cold monotony of this part of the Liturgical cycle, we come to the third Sunday of Advent, when the altar hangings briefly turn from penitential purple to a lovely rose color.

I had planned to post an excerpt of Bach’s “Magnificat” but came across this in the mix. A cappella voices are always a treat, and none more so than the King’s Singers, here, singing the ancient “Gaudete”:

Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.

Tempus ad est gratiae hoc quod optabamus,
Carmina laetitiae devote redamus.

Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

From the wiki entry:

Gaudete (English: /ˈɡaʊdeɪteɪ/; Ecclesiastical Latin: [gawˈdetɛ] “rejoice” in Latin) is a sacred Christmas carol, which is thought to have been composed in the 16th century, but could easily have existed as a monophonic hymn in the late medieval period, with polyphonic alto, tenor, and bass parts added during the 15th century, particularly due to its Medieval Latin lyrics. The song was published in Piae Cantiones, a collection of Finnish/Swedish sacred songs published in 1581. No music is given for the verses, but the standard tune comes from older liturgical books.

The Latin text is a typical medieval song of praise, which follows the standard pattern for the time – a uniform series of four-line stanzas, each preceded by a two-line refrain (in the early English carol this was known as the burden). Carols could be on any subject, but typically they were about the Virgin Mary, the Saints or Yuletide themes.

‘Tis The First Sunday of Advent, 2018

For those who follow the Liturgical Calendar, Advent marks the beginning of the New Year. And Bach most famously observes it:

Psalm 25: 3-9

Show me your ways, O Lord,
and teach me your paths.

Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long.

Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love,
for they are from everlasting.

Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;
remember me according to your love
and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.

Gracious and upright is the Lord;
therefore he teaches sinners in his way.

He guides the humble in doing right
and teaches his way to the lowly.

All the paths of the Lord are love and faithfulness
to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Advent is my favorite season. Perhaps it is a child’s anticipation of Christmas that still speaks to my heart.

How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Leave?

The Insufferable Inchoate Obama Is STILL Here…Obama bloviates. Say that real fast three times and you might end up with “Obama Oblivates”.

He is by turns condescending, predictable, and always, always arrogant. Without his script, he can barely string two coherent words together – unless he’s putting down those he hates:

This Thanksgiving I celebrate the absence of Obama. Or at least I would do if he’d just stutter off the stage and leave us be.

Here’s my theme song for Obama:

I’m grateful for y’all, every single one. And for Trump’s amazing aim. Doesn’t always hit the bulls-eye, but he’s still armed for the deal. And still cleaning up the mess Barry Soetero left. Royalty never has to clean up after itself…even if the man is only a royal pain in the gluteus maximus.

The Resurrection of Poland Began in 1918

Dr. Turley’s editorial today is about Poland’s celebration of its (initial) freedom after World War I. Through the very black time that would follow in World War II Polish patriots held on for a dawn they knew would come eventually. Now the attempts by the EU to paint patriots as “Nazis” (just as is done here by Hillary followers and Antifa) is being eclipsed by Poland’s reality.

Congratulations to Poland!