Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mother Jones

Mary Jones née Harris is known to those who read history, as Mother Jones. Her ancient grey visage, clothed in black, spoke in a fiery, yet measured, golden tongue. She became a celebrated figure in her late age, and she cultivated that image. She died 30 November 1930, after having a hundredth year birthday party on the first of May. That day was promotional, May Day, being traditionally, Labor Day.

Mary led an eventful life. She was a corker, born (1837) in that irish town before the starving time. Her family crossed the ocean to North America. This laboring catholic family eventually settled, in Toronto, amidst waspish bigotry. A brother became a priest. She taught school, for a short time, emigrated again and became a seamstress and married a union man. In her early life as an émigré, she was well acquainted with purposeful rebels: catholics under oppression in their own land and the new world, working people against robber barons and their thugs, fenians, and trade unionists. She was a poor female, but one with spirit and determination and understood cameraderie.

There is a story, that, she sewed Mrs. Lincoln’s inaugural dress in 1860, Chicago. In 1867, her husband and four children die in the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1871, her dress shop burns in the Great Chicago Fire.

After this, she becomes a labor activist and organiser, especially for the workers on the railroad and the mines. In this capacity she is both beloved and hated. To the workers, she cut a very motherly and inspiring figure. She was with them, chancing death and imprisonment. Being spotted stepping off a train was cause enough for arrest. She ministered to the impoverished and the wounded.

In 1903, she led a march of mill children from Kensington, Pennsylvania to Coney Island. Their destination was to have been Oyster Bay, the home of, then, president Theodore Roosevelt. That was not to be allowed. The United States had very little concern about child labor and social injustice.
We want President Roosevelt to hear the wail of the children who never have a chance to go to school but work eleven and twelve hours a day in the textile mills of Pennsylvania; who weave the carpets that he and you walk upon; and the lace curtains in your windows, and the clothes of the people. Fifty years ago there was a cry against slavery and men gave up their lives to stop the selling of black children on the block. Today the child is sold for two dollars a week to the manufacturers. Fifty years ago the black babies were sold C.O.D. today the white baby on the installment plan. ... I shall ask the president in the name of the aching hearts of these little ones the he emancipate them from slavery. I will tell the president that the prosperity he boasts of is the prosperity of the rich wrung from the poor and the helpless.*
Perhaps, in words like those, she showed her power. She was an orator, of and, for the working class. Her tongue was very sharp and her voice fearless. She was an irish, and catholic peasant thrown into industrial America. Her cultural past, and self awareness, formed her uncompromised views. Oratory was respected and feared. To-day there are several mediums of communication, these media have actually de-emphasised speech. Currently, the sitting incumbent to the presidency is a blithering idiot, and he has millions of supporters who denounce eloquence.
I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator.*
She had her programme and was not concerned with the programmes of others, whom may have wanted her to ally with theirs. She believed for the betterment of the human condition in easily demonstrable benefits. Her method was free speech.
I spoke to a great mass meeting in Cooper Union ... Five hundred women got up at dinner and asked me to speak. Most of the women were crazy about women suffrage they thought that Kingdom-come would follow the enfranchisement of women.

"You must stand for free speech in the streets," I told them.

"How can we," piped a women, "when we haven't a vote?"

"I have never had a vote," said I, "and I have raised hell all over this country! You don't need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!"*
She was right. The suffragettes were social dilettantes, who were interested in themselves. The vote was trivial in comparison to justice, sometimes it was inimical to justice. At times voting and the government are just forms. Justice is to do right by, and in, all forms.
*selections from her Autobiography

Addendum: by happenstance, the first reading for mass, two Sundays ago, was about the
valiant pearl of a woman, who, makes a good wife; well, the Scripture line, immediately, before is:
Open thy mouth, decree that which is just, and do justice to the needy and poor. ― Proverbs xxxi.9.
This is not just the job of Lamuel the king, but us all, Mother Jones lived it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

G. K. Chesterton, in his essay, William Penn and the Puritans of January 24, 1931, in the Illustrated London News begins:
The Americans have established a Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the fact that the Pilgrim Fathers reached America. The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day, to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England.
Chesterton speaks of the miserableness of the calvinists, and of the accident of people’s imaginations that a holiday refers to them. Fanciful, fictionalised and sanitised retelling of history, into a shared folklore has benefited, their legacy.

It is good to give thanks, and celebrate a feast. And one can chart good reasons, to do so, and for right rational purpose.

The calvinist attempt, in this celebration, was to replace Christmas and its inherent catholicism. Many americans, christian or no, celebrate this day, and many non-christians are very comfortable in its effective non-religiousness, and especially its adaptability as a non-christian festivity. Thanksgiving is an american, national holiday; it has religious overtones to some, but, essentially, it is not a religious day. It is a civic substitute.

Monday, November 24, 2008

MacGyver and the anti-MacGyver

Action adventure is a television genre. They are part of culture of the time. In the 1960s there were many horse opera westerns. There was a good deal of social commentary in many of them. Watch episodes of Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Maverick or Big Valley. See how many moral issues are addressed. How many of those issues, were really pointing to the then current America. And how many advanced progressive views and answers. Espionage shows, such as: I Spy, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E, also pointed this way, and so did the space opera, Star Trek.

Now, in the years preceding the Clinton presidency, there was the action, adventure series, MacGyver. In 1984 Reagan trounced Mondale (and Dukakis did little better in ’88). Most of the country seemed more attuned to the political views of Mondale, but still more voted for Reagan. Reagan’s initial bellicosity (before perestroika, and the Iran-contra and Beirut disasters), and carte blanche to the moneyed interests, was much challenged. Reagan’s Hollywood did not applaud and propagandise for him. MacGyver was a socially conscious [some read preachy], intelligent, action hero, who was remarkable in his calmness, and especially, his resourceful ingenuity, but he realised, that, sometimes he needed at least a ‘Plan B ’.

An identifying, and memorable feature, was his inventiveness. With barely more than a swiss army knife, and nearby flotsam and jetsam [junk at hand and occasionally duct tape], MacGyver rigs a workable, mechanical solution. ‘MacGyver’ has become a verb. A couple of times, at work, people have used the term. Sometimes, merely humorously, others admiringly: “You’ve macgyvered that! ”, “What now MacGyver? ”, “You watch MacGyver, dontcha?”.

Overall, MacGyver was a peaceable, and anti-violent hero. He strongly avoided guns. This plot device has been rarely used in the US. Now, there was the wonderful Andy Taylor of the idyllic Mayberry, the sheriff without a gun. Well occasionally he did get one out, but he did not walk around armed. He permitted, his deputy to carry a gun, but the lone bullet would be in Barney’s pocket. But those were comic devices, MacGyver was earnest.

In contrast, to the ending, of the current mini-epoch, of this country’s usurpation, we have the show ‘24’. A hideous modus operandi of a programme (including the preposterous ‘real time’ one day gimmick), that flourished under georgebushjr’s US, and, probably, could never have been written (and, almost, certainly not aired) outside the atmosphere of such a regime. A fictive, secretive, security agency*, that, has no qualms in using evil means to achieve their ends. All is permitted to fight ‘terrorism’, in order to ‘defend’ the country. Human and civil rights are thoroughly ignored. Torture is legitimate and necessary. Invented dilemmas, where there must be victims sacrificed. This show will not last long under a return to democracy.

had the Phoenix Foundation, 24 has the Counter Terrorist Unit, Get Smart had CONTROL and KAOS and so on.
postscriptum: There is a humor in the choice of the character name ‘MacGyver’. Obviously scottish, the scots have had a stereotype of being very canny, and frugal, about managing resources and being mechanically clever. There is the old joke, about the scotsman at the guillotine, where Scotty turns to look at the falling blade and says, “Aye, laddie! I ken yourr prroblem.”
[further digression: the chief engineer on Star Trek was “Scotty”] Finally, in a late programme, it is revealed that his name was the archetypal ‘Angus’. But, this also is the socially aware, near bleeding heart hero. MacGyver is an alternative spelling of MacGiver, both of which can be read mac--giver, pronounced with a short vowel.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christ the King

Christ Pantocrator mosaic. Duomo, Monreale, Sicily. c. 1180.
Now, in the iconography of Christ, one image of Jesus blends into another. Jesus was priest, prophet, king, sacrifice, Redeemer and Savior. There is an image of Jesus, in priestly robes projected, in front of the cross, both crucified and glorified.

To-day, in the new calendar, celebrated on the last Sunday of ordinary time, the feast of Christ the King. This was instituted by Pius XI for the Sunday, prior to All Saints, beginning in 1926. So that, the whole world could acknowledge the rôle of Christ.

In the Cristeros rebellion of Mexico in 1927, the cry was Viva Cristo Rey! The governments of many lands were contrary and hostile to Christ and his followers. Atheism and persecution was the worldly response in the twentieth century. The new mass readings are apocalyptic, and reminds, that Jesus will be judge, at the end of the world.

Christ Pantocrator, Ruler of All, is an earlier representation, and is still popular in the byzantine world. Jesus is seen, half figure, blessing with His right hand, holding the book or globe in His left. In churches, this image would be on the central dome or on the ceiling, over the nave. Christ in Majesty, Majestas Domini, has Jesus seated, as on a throne, as ruler of the world. Salvator Mundi, Savior of the World, Jesus’s right hand is in blessing, whilst His left hand holds a, crossed orb, a globus cruciger.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saint Cecilia

A parish window in the Austrian Tyrol.

Saint Cecilia is one, of the seven female (all martyred), Saints of this Second Intercession in the Roman canon. The other six are: Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Anastasia. All these saints come from the period before the toleration and legalisation of the Church. A time when the Roman state would actively, though not continuously, persecute the Church, sometimes with the utmost of intensity and theatrical cruelty. These saints are remembered and celebrated during mass, for their love of Christ and constancy of faith.

She has been continuously venerated since her martyrdom. She was buried on the Appian Way in the Catacomb of Callistus. There are a few pious legends abut her life, that, the skeptical have little confidence in. Even her chronology is not settled. One thread says her martyrdom occurred in 177, after her husband, and his brother. She was of a senatorial family, and therefore, was granted dignity a plebian or slave would not have. Her death sentence was to be suffocation, which failed, then a botched decapitation by sword, which she survived, after the third blow, for a time.

At some time, at least before the modern age, she became a patron of music. During her marriage ceremony, while disinterested in the festivities and earthly music, she was enraptured with heavenly song. There are representations of Cecilia in churches with an organ or bowed stringed instruments, which certainly did not exist in those forms in ancient times. Reni, Raphaël, Rubens, Poussin, Orazio Gentileschi, and Saraceni painted her, and Donatello and Stefano Maderno sculpted her. Her tomb in the church of St. Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome was opened in 1599, and her body was incorrupt. At the base of the statue,
Maderno carved, “Behold the body of the most holy virgin Cecilia whom I myself saw lying incorrupt in her tomb. I have in this marble expressed for thee the same saint in the very same posture of body.”

There are in parishes, around the world, Saint Cecilia singing or music societies. The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, of Rome, Italy was founded in 1585 as a grandiose institution is but one such, even though it has had some impressive members. e.g. Palestrina, Corelli and the Scarlattis. Alessandro Scarlatti and Charles Gounod composed masses for Cecelia. Her association with music lasted in England even amongst certain of the heretics, and public concerts took place on her day.

Tangentially, in 1940 a swedish song, The Shrine of Saint Cecilia, was written and was translated into english. The next year, The Andrews Sisters and others recorded it thereafter; in 1953, an R&B group, The Royals made it to the charts. The sound of ‘
Cecilia’ is pleasant and musical to the year, while Cecil’, either the british or the american pronounciation, is not.
... The bells in the chapel never ring anymore
The clock in the steeple can't tell time as before
But up on the hillside, stands a place heaven blest
The shrine of Saint Cecilia

Each day at eventide
When I seek haven from my daily care
You'll find me by her side
It seems so peaceful there

I kneel in my solitude and silently pray
That heaven will protect you, dear, and there'll come a day
The storm will be over and that we'll meet again
At the shrine of Saint Cecilia ...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

post election buffoons

I have had an irregular series, I labeled, outrageous Republicans. I believe in the Republic, and the term ‘Republican’ should apply to something better. Another name would be more à propos — the American Fascists, or digging out a predecessor party — the Know-Nothings. Certainly they would not accept this modest suggestion for an accurate appellation. Well, God willing, their grasp on power may loosen. Their thought [sic] is still there. Some crosses the border past insanity, yet, though, by every logical thought, it ought be deemed thoroughly irrelevant — it is still there. Nationally, any idiot or miscreant with an (R) after his name will gather 40% of the electorate, and garner over an hundred electoral votes.

They have no real thought. They are frondeurs, the pawns of malevolent demons that possess Atwaters and Roves. They are parrots of raunch, radio rabble.

Now, I have two candidates to mention:

#1 U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia on 10 November said, "That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist." This man has a medical degree. Did not an anatomy professor, in some medical school, ever mention in class, that, one way to prevent foot and mouth disease is not to put your foot in your mouth? The trouble with this inane insanity is that it is malignant and enduring.

#2 Sarah Palin, has anointed herself queen in waiting. Nothing she says is believable, little of it makes sense. It is a great wonder, that, she can string together so many words, in a passable grammatical order, with acceptable diction, when necessary, without saying anything , that, reflects reality or imparts information. Yes, she has some sort of degree in communication. Will these schools force undergraduates to pass courses in history and logic, before granting degrees?

Will the american public ever relegate obnoxious stupidity to oblivion?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Restore the Constitution

Barack Obama is the first man to win the presidency since 1996. This eight year period of usurpation, seems to be ending. The standing of this country has suffered in the interval. The populace is gripped in economic trepidation and financial crisis. The rest of the world is rejoicing in the upcoming transition, with near unanimity, that, is far beyond the national evaluation.

Barack Obama has shown calm calculation and poise. He is speaking of conciliation. What he has given barely a public clue to is — restoring and defending the Constitution.

The interloper is shameless. He has been accountable to nothing. The current economic troubles were created by his incompetent policies, and now he tells the world, that, capitalism, his term – free markets, have no cause to be blamed.

The man who practises pre-emptive war is without remorse. The man who knows no law, but his own will, is unbowed. There is still two more months until the return to democracy. In those two months great mischief can be made.

Will Barack Obama undo and, even prevent, some of bush junior’s unique concoction of evil, malevolence, arrogance and incompetence? Perhaps verbal reticence is a shrewd tactic. And of course, though weakened, his political party still exists, and it too, is unrepentant. Obama is speaking only of unity.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The last remembrance

Papaver rhoeas

As of this writing, there are about a dozen survivors, of those who wore the uniform, in the war to end all wars: the great war, the european war, world war one. These men are well into their eleventh decade of life, some the twelfth. Throughout much of the british commonwealth and France, Armistice Day is remembered and observed on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” It was then in 1918, that, hostilities ceased on the western front between the allies and the germans. The armistice, the agreement, was signed, a few hours earlier, in Compiègne, France. The word spread immediately; the shooting and killing did not stop
immediately. Joseph Persico* has calculated 11,000 casualties that day. Officially, all the french, who, died that day, had died the day before.

In some of these countries, the day is informally called “Poppy Day”. Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a canadian physician, penned a rondeau early on in the war, May 3, 1915.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Now, the corn pop
py is scarlet and grows as a weed, in agricultural fields, in Belgium and northeastern France. These were also the fields of war, death and burial of millions. Both, Moina Michael of Athens, Georgia and Mme. Anna Guérin of Paris, found the poppy as appropriate for remembrance of the war dead. Mme. Guérin started to produce and sell artificial poppies, in order to raise funds, for the war victims. This became a charitable exercise in Britain, Canada and the US, also..

There was much brilliant and poignant war poetry, often by soldiers, whom, did not survive the war; McCrae did not. In the 1970s, Eric Bogle wrote two songs about the surviving veterans and the war dead. After visiting a military cemetery in France, Bogle eulogised, one of several, Willie McBrides (No Man's Land, The Green Fields of France). The other song, And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, refers to successive ANZAC parades, where fewer and fewer veterans march.
And so now every April, I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march,
Reviving old dreams of past glory,
And the old men march slowly, all bones stiff and sore,
They’re tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask “What are they marching for?”
And I ask meself the same question.

But the band plays “Waltzing Matilda,”
And the old men still answer the call,
But as year follows year, more old men disappear
Someday, no one will march there at all.
Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918, World War I and Its Violent Climax. 2004.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (*11 October 1884, † 7 November 1962) was Mrs. Roosevelt. First Lady is an informal office, currently it is irrelevant, but, from 1933 to 1945, it was of great importance. Mrs. Roosevelt was United States ambassador to humanity.

In a television comedy show, All in the Family, the misunderstood, frustrated lead character, Archie Bunker, says, something to the effect of: “Until Eleanor Roosevelt discovered 'em, we didn't know the colored folks existed.” Yes, Mrs. Roosevelt found them, and introduced them, and their lives, and troubles to many fellow americans, to whom they were disinterested towards. Mrs. Roosevelt was a deeply, concerned humanitarian, who struggled to increase social and legal justice.

In 1933 there were unemployed war veterans about the capital city, they wanted promised bonuses. The difference between the Republicans and the New Deal was, that,“Hoover sent the Army, Roosevelt sent his wife.” Again, and again, she would go. She was the most admired, and beloved person in the nation, and also, the most vilified by the moneyed interests, and the malicious and malignant members of the Republican party, and the Klan.

She was a friend to labor, and their ambitious programme: a 48 hour week, the abolition of child labor and the creation of a minimum wage. Such extreme demands angered the defenders of unrestrained, unregulated, unfettered capitalism.

She supported Marian Anderson, when the Daughters of the American Revolution denied Miss Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall. Mrs. Roosevelt quit the DAR, and the concert was sung, by Miss Anderson, in front of the Lincoln memorial. In 1943 she went to the South Pacific to visit hospitalised servicemen. She was dauntless and heart filled. Her patriotism was beyond the imaginings of her detractors.

She was born to high privilege and wealth, she did not act in that manner. Her personal life was often painful. She strove with great energy to do good, and did so. She was embarrassed about her looks, and her voice would break into a falsetto soprano. She worked, and wrote, and investigated, and traveled. She was a beautiful and wonderful woman.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A new president for a troubled country

Fernando Lugo, on the Feast of the Assumption, became president of Paraguay in Asunción. This was historic: from 1954 to 1989 General Alfredo Stroessner was dictator, his party lost the latest election, and allowed Lugo to be inaugurated. That was a first in Paraguay. Lugo is a recently laïcised bishop, Rome consented, though not easily or quickly. The bishop for the poor is now the president of the poor. Paraguay has been a highly, visible example of fascist corruption. The new president has much work to do. He has refused a salary. He appears in native shirt and sandals, and speaks Guarani. His presidency will be different than his predecessors.

Members of Fernando Lugo’s family were often imprisoned, and or, exiled by Stroessner’s dictatorship. As a young man, Lugo became a rural teacher, and found his calling when the people had no priest. He joined the Society of the Divine Word, was ordained on the Feast of the Assumption 1977, and went as a missionary to Ecuador for five years. After a year back in Paraguay, he was exiled. He went to Rome. He came back in 1987, and in in 1994 became bishop of the poorest diocese, San Pedro. He resigned in 2005 and began campaigning.

Bishop, now President, Lugo has not come easily to office; already two former presidents have tried to form a coup. Centuries ago, in and about, the same country the jesuits administered reductions (reducciones de indios). These Jesuit Reductions produced a self-sustaining community of christianised, and civilised, but not europeanised indians. In the movie, The Mission, the story was told. The Guarani were the chief indian nation, then in Paraguay, and are that now. They wanted to hold their land in peace and freedom. That is still the problem now. Many indians and mestizos have little, or no, property and rights. With the violent end of the reductions, and the expulsion of the jesuits, the indians were robbed, killed and enslaved.

To-day the ruling families run smuggling operations that enrichen themselves, of course; now smuggling is supposedly illegal. It is done matter-of-factly. Much of the farmland is owned by brasilians. The use of toxic pesticides and deforestation is rampant. The landless native peasantry is powerless, but they have elected a man to champion their interests, and of course, he is in danger.

Now, Paraguay has a great river that runs through it, with many tributaries and falls. Paraguay’s water power generates electricity for Brasil, and Mr. Lugo wants a renegotiated deal. Paraguay is landlocked and has two powerful neighbors in Brasil and Argentina. Foreign relations will be very important.

Recently, he was in New York City, at the United Nations. He was offered a meeting with Sarah Palin, he declined, he found it laughable. She did speak to Kissinger, and the client presidents of Colombia, Georgia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was not going to be a tool or prop of that campaign.

Mister Lugo has much to deal with. Many in his country have great confidence in him, and great hope for him. He came to power, legally, ending the world’s, longest, current period of one party rule. He is very familiar with liberation theology, so the corporate press will always call him a leftist. So far, the background information available has found him unassailable.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Great Wave

Katsushika Hokusai. Kanagawa oki nami-ura (The Great Wave Off Kanagawa). c.1826. Hakone.
Yes, I do believe it is coming. Obama, and the Congress, nooks and backwaters will be awash and Republicans swamped. The tide, full of foam and froth, oh, if it will clean and wash the filth and dreck and offal of the last eight years of usurpation and degradation, then may the rule of law return, and the miscreants be hung out to dry.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tarring and feathering a Jesuit

Father Johannes Bapst S.J., (*La Roche, Fribourg, Switzerland 1815, †2 November, 1887, Mount Hope, Maryland) did what the Jesuits were famous for, missioned in distant, hostile lands, taught and ran schools, preached the Gospel, administered the Sacraments, and courted martyrdom. He was a missionary amongst civilised, north american indians (Passamaquoddy and Penobscot), irish immigrants, and was berated and tortured by yankees.

On the last day of 1846, he was ordained in the old country. In 1848, he was in Old Town, Maine, ministering to indians, whom had been without a priest for twenty years. In 1850 he went to Eastport. He had missions about the state, and brought converts to the faith. He was pastor in Bangor from 1853-1860 and was known about the state.

Now, at the time, one of the opposition (to the Democrats) parties called itself, the American party; people of the time, and posterity, knew them as the Know-Nothings. They were one of the constituent parts of the future Republican party. They were an one issue party. They were extremely opposed to catholicism, catholic immigration and catholic schooling. In Ellsworth, Bapst and the catholic community protested against forced, protestant, bible study in school.

On the 3rd of June 1854, the residence, where he was staying in Ellsworth, was attacked. The 5th of June, the town council ordered him to be stripped, tarred and feathered, and ridden on a rail to the woods, if he were to remain or be found in town again. That happened on the 14th of October. In addition, he was relieved of his wallet and watch. Now, sometimes the hot tar causes death, sometimes that was the intention. The feathering is for added mirth to the torturers and crowd. The riding on the rail, is both for physical pain and a diabolical, extension of performance art. If the victim survives the severe burns, he is permanently scarred, physically, emotionally and mentally. The next day, Sunday, he said mass twice. He would return to Bangor. Some papers referred to the event as the Ellsworth Outrage.

Father John Bapst did survive. He was the first president of Boston College from 1863 to 1869, and became the jesuit superior of Canada and New York. His success and achievement began to fail. His mind became unclear, he screamed awake from nightmares, that, attackers were coming through the windows. He was instituitionalised.

This is why torture is such a great and insidious evil. The experience is so humiliating, painful, alienating and devastating. A few moments, or minutes, are carried by the victim for the rest of his life, effecting and affecting, not only himself, but, also, those he encounters. For those who have families, the pain is shared and transferred. Anyone who allows, tolerates, advocates, enjoys or inflicts torture is a moral monster.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

All Saints and Souls

Albrecht Dürer. Adoration of the Trinity. 1511. Vienna.
Now, at the same time, that, Raphaël was painting the Disputata, Dürer was painting supra. The painting is also known as All Saints (Allerheiligen). At top and center are the Trinity, surrounded by the denizens of paradise in heaven, below is the earth. Dürer has also placed himself, bottom right, and his patron, Matthäus Landauer, in the painting. His theology in oil and pigment is Augustine’s City of God. The bright and brilliant color he brought from his sojourns in Venice and Italy. Later in life, Dürer was much impressed by the new heretics, and Luther in particular, but he and his art were catholic.

To-day, all the saints, known and unknown, are commemorated in the latin church. The date of the day has been changed, since its origin in Antioch. The eastern church has kept it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Gregory IV (835) fixed the first of November as the solemnity, Sollemnitas Omnium Sanctorum.

The next day is a penitential rejoinder, November 1st celebrates all those who share the beatific vision, November 2nd is All Souls. All Souls, Commemoratio omnium Fidelium Defunctorum, is for all those who have died, and do not yet gaze upon God, and are undergoing purification. In the past, this solemn day was marked with purple or black vestments, now it is with white. Often, lit candles filled the church, and sometimes a book listing all those who have died, in the parish, was placed by the altar in remembrance and supplication.

Saint Odilo, abbot of Cluny, began this day a thousand ten years ago. It spread to other monasteries, and after a few centuries, to the rest of the church. The vigil before All Saints is All Hallows eve, Hallowe’en. We are all in this together, the living and the dead, the triumphant, militant and the suffering, the celebrating and the penitent.