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Monday, June 1, 2020

Margaret Thatcher on the Anglo-American Relationship



The Anglo-American relationship is not some out-dated romantic notion, it reflects shared history, language, values, and ideals–the very things which generate that willingness for sacrifice on which the outcome of every military venture ultimately depends.
Western cooperation will also be easier if we re-assert, as I have been suggesting, the moral and cultural foundations of our Western world. In the Cold War years, we were able to persuade our populations that our values were worth fighting for. By re-iterating those values, we conservatives offer the best prospect of security, stability and peace.
The whole of this programme, like any political programme in the real world, has to adapt to circumstances. But what gives it such relevance and weight today is that it is the only one which recognises the over-riding importance of keeping the West strong and united.
Western civilization would not be the first to re-shape others in its own image, only to discover that it had lost the identity, confidence and will to survive: on this matter the historians of the Classical World could provide some useful lessons to today's Western liberal politicians.
The decline of the West has been predicted before, and it has not occurred. It need not occur. And it will not occur–if we conservatives keep faith in everything we have achieved and the bedrock principles which inspired us to prevail.
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1997 Sep 28 Su, Margaret Thatcher.
Speech to the First International Conservative Congress.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Father Rutler: A Light in the Darkness


Father George W. Rutler
In these days of closures, which must soon end, I am able to offer Mass quietly for the intentions of parishioners and others, and I often take the opportunity to use the Extraordinary Form, whose beautiful cadences end with the “Last Gospel.” This Johannine Prologue in hymnodic verse concluded the Liturgy from the earliest days of the Faith, as a reminder that “the Word was made flesh” and, by being received into the flesh of communicants, makes them living tabernacles commissioned to take Christ into the world. He is the Light that shines in the darkness, and “the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
   The present pandemic has spread a cultural darkness that contrasts with the growing brightness of late spring days. Any amateur artist, if untutored, must learn by experiment that the brightest colors in his paint box are brilliant on canvass not by themselves but by contrast with dark tones. There is remnant evidence that this application in art goes back about 2,500 years to the Athenian muralist Apollodorus. It may seem obvious, but it was not so until it was tried, and in fact it was gradually forgotten until rediscovered in the Renaissance. The contrast of light and dark, chiaroscuro, was mastered by the likes of Leonardo, Caravaggio and then Rembrandt and Vermeer. It conveys brooding as well as rejoicing, and “film noir” of modern cinematography made as much use of darkness as earlier art made of light.
   It remains to be seen if what we call normalcy will be restored. It is certain that “things will never be the same” because things present by definition can never be what they used to be. Whether this be good or bad depends on what is learned from having passed from darkness into light (cf. Isaiah 9:2). This is the Gospel essence that the first Christians gave to a world that had accustomed itself to a life of shadows. “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).
   During these long weeks, the absence of votive lights in a darkened church has contrasted with the candles that used to burn here, and I hope that soon there will be even more lit than before. But all this time, a lamp has burned before the Blessed Sacrament.
   One recalls that passage from Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited describing the sanctuary lamp in a desolate chapel during the darkness of a World War: “. . . the flame which the old knights saw from their tombs, which they saw put out; that flame burns again for other soldiers, far from home, farther, in heart, than Acre or Jerusalem. It could not have been lit but for the builders and the tragedians, and there I found it this morning, burning anew among the old stones.”
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Father George W. Rutler

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Father Rutler: Mother of the Church

Father George W. Rutler
Eyebrows were raised when Queen Victoria commented that of all her predecessors, she would most enjoy a conversation with King Charles II. In the arrangements of their domestic lives they could hardly have been more unlike, but Charles was a man of attractive wit, and that was her point. In most ways, Voltaire was the perfect opposite of Pope Benedict XIV, but he admired the pope’s gifts as an astonishing polymath and even dedicated a stage play to him.
   The scientific and literary pursuits of Benedict did not concentrate his mind to the neglect of the ministry of the Church. He revived devotion to the Blessed Virgin as “Mother of the Church” in 1748, in the tradition of Saint Ambrose of Milan, who first used the title in the fourth century. As the Church is the body of Christ born of Mary, Pope Paul VI, previously an archbishop in the Ambrosian succession, formally proclaimed the title at the close of the Second Vatican Council. In 2018, our present Pontiff decreed that the Monday after Pentecost be a Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. This year on May 1, the bishops of North America put their churches under the protection of Mary, the Mother of the Church.
   Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “The Church . . . carries the burdens of history. She suffers, and she is assumed into heaven. Slowly she learns that Mary is her mirror, that she is a person in Mary. Mary, on the other hand, is not an isolated individual. . . . She is carrying the mystery of the Church.”
   In the Clementine Hall of the Vatican is an allegorical painting of a woman nursing symbols of the Four Evangelists. Christians who call themselves Evangelicals might find the depiction startling, but it is a reminder that one cannot be fully a “Bible-believing Christian” without the Church that nurtured the canonical formulation of the Holy Scriptures.
   Deprived of the Church’s sacraments during the pandemic, the faithful can find resonance in the old spiritual: “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” The experience is not unique to the present time. In various plagues, churches have had to close. Christians, including missionaries, have also been denied sacramental access due to geographical isolation.
   Sometimes the Church herself has imposed “interdicts” banning public worship for disciplinary reasons: Pope Adrian IV briefly placed Rome itself under interdict; by decree of John XXII, churches were shut in Scotland for eleven years; and Innocent III censured France for nearly a year, Norway for four years, and England for six. The circumstances were complicated and regrettable, but the results overcame previous lassitude and bonded the faithful to the Easter joy of the Blessed Mother.
       Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
       For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
       Has risen, as He said, alleluia.
       Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Father George W. Rutler