Friday, July 31, 2009
I asked a girl on the train why this is so and she laughed and exclaimed: "It's August 10 the feast of San Lorenzo!"
Evidently they get a lot of shooting stars this time of the year.
Truly amazing to witness.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Love of Sweet Jesus precedes any fruitful service in His name. Such is the lesson that Christ inculcates through such angels as this who have quit the world and so gained a world.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
LONDON – Harry Patch, Britain's last survivor of the trenches of World War I, was a reluctant soldier who became a powerful eyewitness to the horror of war, and a symbol of a lost generation.
Patch, who died Saturday at 111, was wounded in 1917 in the Battle of Passchendaele, which he remembered as "mud, mud and more mud mixed together with blood."
"Anyone who tells you that in the trenches they weren't scared, he's a damned liar: you were scared all the time," Patch was quoted as saying in a book, "The Last Fighting Tommy," written with historian Richard van Emden.
The Fletcher House care home in Wells, southwest England, said Patch "quietly slipped away" on Saturday morning.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the whole country would mourn "the passing of a great man."
"The noblest of all the generations has left us, but they will never be forgotten. We say today with still greater force, We Will Remember Them," Brown said.
Prince Charles said "nothing could give me greater pride" than paying tribute to Patch.
"The Great War is a chapter in our history we must never forget, so many sacrifices were made, so many young lives lost," the prince said.
Britain's Ministry of Defense called Patch the last British military survivor of the 1914-18 war, although British-born Claude Choules of Australia, 108, is believed to have served in the Royal Navy during the conflict.
Patch was one of the last living links to "the war to end all wars," which killed about 20 million people in years of fighting between the Allied Powers — including Britain, France and the United States — and Germany and its allies. The Ministry of Defense said he was the last soldier of any nationality to have fought in the brutal trench warfare that has become the enduring image of the conflict.
There are no French or German veterans of the war left alive. The last known U.S. veteran is Frank Buckles of Charles Town, West Virginia, 108, who drove ambulances in France for the U.S. Army.
Patch did not speak about his war experiences until he was 100. Once he did, he was adamant that the slaughter he witnessed had not been justified.
"I met someone from the German side and we both shared the same opinion: we fought, we finished and we were friends," he said in 2007.
"It wasn't worth it."
Born in southwest England in 1898, Patch was a teenage apprentice plumber when he was called up for military service in 1916. After training he was sent to the trenches as a machine-gunner in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.
The five-man Lewis gun team had a pact to try not to kill any enemy soldiers but to aim at their legs unless it came down to killing or being killed, he said.
Patch was part of the third battle of Ypres in Belgium. The offensive began on July 31, 1917, and it rained all but three days of August. It was not until Nov. 6, 1917, that British and Canadian forces had progressed five miles (eight kilometers) to capture what was left of the village of Passchendaele. The cost was 325,000 allied casualties and 260,000 Germans.
Patch's war had ended on Sept. 22, when he was seriously wounded by shrapnel, which killed three other members of his machine gun team.
"My reaction was terrible; it was losing a part of my life," he said.
"I'd taken an absolute liking to the men in the team, you could say almost love. You could talk to them about anything and everything. I mean, those boys were with you night and day, you shared everything with them and you talked about everything."
Ever after, he regarded that date as his Remembrance Day instead of the national commemoration on Nov. 11.
He and the other survivor agreed that they would never share details of the incident with the families of their comrades. "I mean, there was nothing left, nothing left to bury, and I don't think they would have wanted to know that," he said.
Patch recalled being unmoved by the excitement that swept his village of Combe Down, near Bath in southwestern England, when war broke out in 1914.
"I didn't welcome the war at all, and never felt the need to get myself into khaki and go out there fighting before it was 'all over by Christmas.' That's what people were saying, that the war wouldn't last long," he said.
His most vivid memory of the war was of encountering a comrade whose torso had been ripped open by shrapnel. "Shoot me," Patch recalled the soldier pleading.
The man died before Patch could draw his revolver.
"I was with him for the last 60 seconds of his life. He gasped one word — 'Mother.' That one word has run through my brain for 88 years. I will never forget it."
When he was wounded, Patch said he was told that the medics had run out of anesthetic, but he agreed to go ahead with surgery to remove shrapnel from his stomach.
"Four people caught hold of me, one each leg, one each arm, and the doctor got busy," he recalled. "I'd asked him how long he'd be and he'd said, 'two minutes,' and in those two minutes I could have damned well killed him."
After the war ended in 1918, Patch returned to work as a plumber, got married, raised a family and didn't start talking about his war experiences until the 21st century. He outlived three wives and both of his sons.
During World War II, Patch volunteered for the fire service and helped in rescue and firefighting after German bombing raids.
In recent years he and his dwindling band of fellow survivors became poignant, and much-honored, symbols of the conflict.
At 101, he received the Legion d'Honneur from the French government. Last year, Poet Laureate Andrew Motion wrote a poem for him, "The Five Acts of Harry Patch."
Last year he and two fellow veterans — former airman Henry Allingham and former sailor Bill Stone — attended remembrance ceremonies in London to mark the 90th anniversary of the war's end at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. The three frail men in wheelchairs laid wreaths of red poppies at the base of the stone Cenotaph memorial.
Stone died in January. Allingham, who became the world's oldest man, died July 18, aged 113.
At a remembrance ceremony in 2007, Patch said he felt "humbled that I should be representing an entire generation."
"Today is not for me. It is for the countless millions who did not come home with their lives intact. They are the heroes," he said. "It is also important we remember those who lost their lives on both sides."
The Ministry of Defense said Patch's funeral would be held in Wells Cathedral in the town where he lived. It said the service would be "a prayer for peace and reconciliation." The date was not announced.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
There are lots of nice summer events along the Tiber in Rome.
The tango floor is open from 8 pm until 3 am every day of the week. Tango music is fun and it's a clean and romantic dance.
From 8 until 10 pm they offer the tango school as seen above.
As with all dance classes, it's mostly ladies who show up. Those who wear a dress look lovely. The best teachers are Cuban. Women are natually good dancers, men are not. And the ladies can spin and follow a lead - tricky for guy dancers.
Some Romans after dark spend time on the rooftop to enjoy the cool evening breeze. With St. Peter's in the background the film enjoyed was Un Americano A Roma (1954). One thing Italians do well is outdoor lighting and St. Peter's always looks splendid.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Thank you for this comment, somebody!
These photos are meant to give people a sense of hope.
All too often traditionalist Catholics have a wounded sense of hope. Sad, but evident and harmful.
Faith, hope and charity and if your hope is in the gutter then fix it with the help of the Holy Ghost and move on.
And stop bitching about Vatican II all the time.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
These are the sisters who educated me in my youth in the 1980s - the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
Notice how there really is not a word about Jesus or the Bible or the Blessed Sacrament or of virginity or holiness or really anything Catholic/Christian?
I hope the Holy See shuts them down for their infidelity.
"If after consulting the appropriate Ordinaries, the Holy See decides that certain communities or monasteries no longer offer any reasonable hope of flourishing, these should be forbidden thereafter to accept novices. It it can be done, they should be absorbed by a more vigorous community or monastery."
-Vatican Council II: Decree on the Appropriate Renewal of the Religious Life, 21.
LONDON – The world's oldest man, 113-year-old World War I veteran Henry Allingham, died Saturday after spending his final years reminding Britain about the 9 million soldiers killed during the conflict.
Allingham was the last surviving original member of the Royal Air Force, which was formed in 1918. He made it a personal crusade to talk about a conflict that wiped out much of a generation. Though nearly blind, he would take the outstretched hands of visitors in both of his, gaze into the eyes of children, veterans and journalists and deliver a message he wanted them all to remember.
"I want everyone to know," he told The Associated Press during an interview in November. "They died for us."
Only a handful of World War I veterans remain of the estimated 68 million mobilized. There are no French veterans left alive; the last living American-born veteran is Frank Woodruff Buckles of Charles Town, West Virginia.
"It's the end of a era — a very special and unique generation," said Allingham's longtime friend, Dennis Goodwin, who confirmed Allingham's death. "The British people owe them a great deal of gratitude."
Born June 6, 1896, Allingham left school at 15 and was working in a car factory in east London when war broke out in 1914.
He spent the war's first months refitting trucks for military use, but when his mother died in June 1915, he decided to join up after seeing a plane circling a reservoir in Essex, east of London.
"It was a captivating sight," he wrote in his memoir. "Fascinated, I sat down on the grass verge to watch the aircraft. I decided that was for me."
Only a dozen years after the Wright brothers first put up their plane, Allingham and other airmen set out from eastern England on motorized kites made with wood, linen and wire. They piled on clothes and smeared their faces in Vaseline, whale oil or engine grease to block the cold.
"To be honest, all the planes were so flimsy and unpredictable — as well as incapable of carrying large fuel loads — at the start of the war that both British and German pilots would immediately turn back rather than face each other in the skies if they did not enjoy height supremacy," Allingham would later write." "But I remember getting back on the ground and just itching to take off again."
As a mechanic, Allingham's job was to maintain the rickety craft. He also flew as an observer on a biplane. At first, his weaponry consisted of a standard issue Lee Enfield .303 rifle — sometimes two. Parachutes weren't issued.
He fought in the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of World War I. He served on the Western Front, by now armed with a machine gun.
He was wounded in the arm by shrapnel during an attack on an aircraft depot, but survived.
After the war he worked at the Ford motor factory and raised two children with his wife, Dorothy. She died in 1970, and when his daughter Jean died in 2001, friends say he waited to die, too.
That's when he met Goodwin, a lay inspector for nursing homes, who realized that veterans of Allingham's generation were not getting the care they needed to address the trauma they had experienced at the Somme, Gallipoli and Ypres. Some veterans ached to return to the battle fields to pay their respects to their slain friends, and Goodwin found himself organizing trips to France.
He encouraged Allingham to share his experiences and the veteran soon began talking to reporters and school groups, the connection to a lost generation. He found himself leading military parades. He was made an Officer of France's Legion of Honor.
He met Queen Elizabeth II and wrote his autobiography with Goodwin, "Kitchener's Last Volunteer," a reference to Britain's Minister for War who rallied men to the cause. Prince Charles wrote the introduction.
He grew accustomed to being one of the last ones standing. Last year, he joined Harry Patch, Britain's last soldier, and the late Bill Stone, its last sailor, in a ceremony at the Cenotaph war memorial near the houses of Parliament in London, to mark the 90th anniversary of the war's end.
As the wreaths were being laid, Allingham pushed himself up out of his wheelchair to place his arrangement at the base of the memorial.
Allingham remained outspoken until his death, pleading for peace and begging anyone who would listen to remember those who died.
"I think we need to make people aware that a few men gave all they had to give so that you could have a better world to live in," he said. "We have to pray it never happens again."
Goodwin says Allingham's funeral will take place in Brighton. He is survived by five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild.
Notice the iron shields?
For nine months the Nazis occupied Rome.
During that time the Pope and others had this shrine constructed on the Vatican wall for all to see - asking Our Lady to intercede for their protection from the reach of the Third Reich.
Friday, July 17, 2009
This summer alone I met a German couple from Cologne who biked in seventeen days to Rome and another couple from Holland who did the same to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and just today three young men from England arrived on bikes after over twenty days on the road.
Makes one think of one of the best books for Catholic youth: The Path to Rome by Hilaire Belloc. It's a book that inspired me to want to walk to Rome as a youth. He wrote the book in 1902 after he walked from France to Rome across the Alps on foot.
"...finds it an interesting paradox that the best time to teach the most difficult Catholic doctrines is during childhood, even before the age of seven!"
To hear simple wisdom like this brings tears of joy to my eyes!
Thank you, Catholic moms! Parents must instruct children long before their hearts begin to harden as young teens.
"Give me the boy for the first seven years, and I'll give you the man."
-St. Francis Xavier
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Nowhere on the planet today is modest dress enforced anymore - or at least not to this degree.
Arrive at St. Peter's Basilica or the Sistine Chapel and you will see the enforcers - they are young male employees who instruct the women to cover up before they can enter. Some ladies buy scarves and this is the scene.
In the Divine Comedy as Dante makes his way in Canto XXIII of Purgatory we read of Forese who inveighs bitterly against the immodest dress of their countrywomen of Florence:
"When from the pulpit shall be loudly warn'd
The unblushing dames of Florence, lest they bare
Unkerchief'd bosoms to the common gaze,
What savage women hath the world e'er seen,
What Saracens, for whom there needed scourge
Of spiritual or other discipline."
See the ten windows on the top?
The window on the far left is a hallway.
The rest are of the papal apartment - closed because he's on holiday.
With the Pope out of town there's a different feeling. More relaxed, less stress.
And now the Swiss Guard will be more likely to pose for a picture with you when you ask.
Ristorante Torre San Giovanni alle Mura Vaticane
Via di Porta Pertusa, 4/A
Closed on Sundays
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Part of Catholic culture is to eat together as a family and to prepare a little something nice now and then. This was our first course...with a little salt...and enjoyed in the sunshine!
Prosciuto di Parma (meat),
Mozzarella di Bufala (cheese),
Cicoria (the green which is Brusselslof from Holland),
This past Sunday this fine new French priest sang his first Solemn Mass in Rome and in attendance were two bishops and there was a first Holy Communion, too (http://roma.fssp.it/)!