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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Father Rutler: Saint Patrick

Father George W. Rutler
The holy patron of our archdiocese was a contemporary of Saint Augustine. While Augustine of north Africa became one of the greatest Doctors of the church, Patrick of Roman Britain humbly called himself uneducated, even though he was schooled in France by Saint Germaine of Auxerre and possibly Saint Martin of Tours, and was given books by Pope Saint Celestine I.
Patrick, after six youthful years as a slave captured by Irish pirates, embarked upon the conversion of the Druid tribes. He did not chase the snakes out of Ireland because there were none, nor did he explain the Holy Trinity using a shamrock, for that would have been a Partialist error inconsistent with the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed formulated just a few years before his birth. But he sparked a fire that shed the Gospel light on many parts of the world. The largest number of people who claim Patrick for their patron are Nigerians, converted by heroic Irish missionaries. The number of baptized Catholics in Nigeria has soared from 19 million in 2005 to 53 million today. There are two thousand priests and nearly 4,000 Religious, along with a boom in vocations.
By contrast, despite many worthy witnesses, the majority of Irish people failed to heed the warnings of Saint John Paul II when he became the first pontiff to set foot on the soil of Eire in 1979. He preached to 1.25 million faithful at a Mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Last year, Pope Francis offered Holy Mass in the same place, and fewer than 130,000 showed up. Four months later, the Druids returned and defiantly danced in the streets when abortion was legalized. The Taoiseach (Prime Minister), was elected while publicly living in perverse contempt of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The chief seminary of Maynooth has the lowest numbers of students since its foundation in 1795. Its rector of fifteen years abandoned the Faith and now conducts an esoteric cult in Arizona. An Irish commentator and playwright recently called Ireland “The Most Anti-Catholic Country on Planet Earth.” This would seem to be hyperbolic, given persecution in Muslim lands, China and North Korea, but it bespeaks the adolescent rebellion of a population moved by an anger unlike the cool detachment of calculating governments.
This is a warning to Catholics in the United States, because such is what happens when religion is only a political and ethnic sentiment. The Saint Patrick’s Day parade in New York City has become a bibulous charade of Saint Patrick. While contingents advertise their contempt for his Gospel, Nigerians honor Saint Patrick in a different way. A few weeks ago, Nigerian soldiers under attack by the Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram did not masquerade as leprechauns drinking green beer. In a Zambiza forest, they knelt and chanted as their chaplain raised aloft for adoration the same Blessed Sacrament with which Patrick had faced the Druids.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Ten Things a Scotsman Noticed about America

There is a booming cottage industry of YouTube vloggers who share and celebrate the cultural differences between the United States and other nations and cultures.  Some of the most prominent, well-subscribed vloggers are British, and their commentaries are a fascinating window into the United States and our cultural differences and similarities.  Since a major theme of our humble blog has been to promote and celebrate the bonds that unite the English-speaking peoples, as Churchill understood the term, we are going to begin posting some of the more interesting and insightful of these.

We start with a very engaging Scotsman, Shaun from Edinburgh, whose enthusiasm and interest in the United States has resulted in his adopting the term "y'all."  We hope you will enjoy!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

A Message from Her Majesty the Queen for Commonwealth Day 2019

The Commonwealth of 54 nations is a powerful force for good in the world.  Here is Her Majesty's message for Commonwealth Day 2019.

Commonwealth Day has a special significance this year as we mark the 70th anniversary of the London Declaration, when nations of the Commonwealth agreed to move forward together as free and equal members. The vision and sense of connection that inspired the signatories has stood the test of time, and the Commonwealth continues to grow, adapting to address contemporary needs.

Today, many millions of people around the world are drawn together because of the collective values shared by the Commonwealth. In April last year, I welcomed the leaders of our 53 nations to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and we all witnessed how the Commonwealth vision offers hope, and inspires us to find ways of protecting our planet, and our people.

We are able to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism as a result of the links that we share, and thanks to the networks of cooperation and mutual support to which we contribute, and on which we draw. With enduring commitment through times of great change, successive generations have demonstrated that whilst the goodwill for which the Commonwealth is renowned may be intangible, its impact is very real.

We experience this as people of all backgrounds continue to find new ways of expressing through action the value of belonging in a connected Commonwealth. I hope and trust that many more will commit to doing so this Commonwealth Day.
Elizabeth R.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Father Rutler: A Tactical Retreat

Father George W. Rutler
The pilings on the east side of the Brooklyn Bridge are on the spot where the great Father of Our Country, having evacuated eight thousand Continental troops after their defeat in the Battle of Long Island, boarded the last small boat. In the mist, he did not seek safety until all his men had crossed the East River, earlier known as the Sound River. This was what military strategists call a “tactical withdrawal” because it would rescue victory from defeat. Even so, while unlike the desperate retreat of Napoleon from Moscow, riding in his cushioned coach past the frozen remains of thousands of his hapless troops, it was the course of desperation, not unlike the withdrawal of the ten thousand Greek mercenaries of the Persian prince Cyrus the Younger, trekking 1,500 miles until they reached the sea, and the withdrawal from Gallipoli in World War I, and the more modern rescues of Dunkirk in World War II.
There is another kind of withdrawal, a strategy called “feigned retreat.” William the Conqueror earned his nickname in 1066 by pretending to withdraw, luring the army of King Harold into a trap. Sam Houston used the strategy at the Battle of San Jacinto. Fast forward, and you have Field Marshall Rommel doing the same with the 21st Panzer Division in 1943 at the Kasserine Pass, devastating the American forces in their first foray in World War II. The American troops soon learned the enemy’s strategy, and thankfully so, otherwise we would not be in our recognizable world today. 
Our Blessed Lord was not a pacifist. When he said to turn the other cheek when attacked, he was using the shrewdest kind of tactical strategy in spiritual combat against the Prince of Pride, who can only be mortally wounded by humility. While he refused a sword when he was captured, because he had come into the world to fight Satan on the Cross, he approved Peter carrying two swords should they be needed.
Saint Gregory of Nyssa knew that the most effective tactic in spiritual combat is contempt for arrogance, which appears foolish in the eyes of cynics: “People are often considered blind and useless when they make the supreme Good their aim and give themselves up to the contemplation of God, but Paul made a boast of this and proclaimed himself a fool for Christ’s sake. The reason he said, ‘We are fools for Christ’s sake,’ was that his mind was free from all earthly preoccupations. It was as though he said, ‘We are blind to the life here below because our eyes are raised towards the One who is our head.’”
Christ often withdrew into the wilderness for prayer (Luke 5:16). These retreats were not flights from defeat. They were a calculated strategy, in preparation for the final victory over sin and death.

President Trump's Address at the Conservative Political Action Conference 2019