It is with sadness, but confidence that I entrust here to the mercy of God the soul of Gabriel Altieri, a father figure, a spiritual son and a great friend. After a long fight with cancer, Gabriel passed away in the Lord and the Immaculate yesterday around 2:00 PM. He was a long time friend of the community in Griswold, Connecticut and a faithful son of the Immaculate. Please pray for the repose of his soul and the strength of his family and friends, especially his wife, Ruthy.
It might be a bit ironic to call such an old salt “sweet Gabe.” He had a conversion late in life after many years of “being a hard man,” and he was just as uncompromising in virtue as he had been in the ways of the world. But he was as easily brought to tears by compunction or devotion as he was to fierce zeal in the face of heresy and cowardice.
As a result of his rather colorful, Italianate pronouncements on everything from the beauty of our Lady, to the state of the nation, to food recipes (he was an excellent cook, and a great culinary teacher), as well as his escapades at the Father, Son Encampments (pictured above), we came to know him as “Sir Gabriel.” We threatened many times to put him on camera and start up a channel on Youtube in order for him to deliver his daily address to the world on whatever topic was stuck in his craw. But alas, this never came to pass. We will all have to satisfy ourselves in the retelling of the many tales of “Sir Gabriel.” Continue reading →
This is an old post that I have revised for today’s feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe.
In 1940 during the Nazi occupation of Poland, St. Maximilian Kolbe was negotiating with the occupying commanders for permission to publish an edition of his magazine, The Knight of the Immaculate. The Nazis had taken control of Niepokalanow, the City of the Immaculate, located outside of Warsaw, where St. Maximilian had one of the largest printing operations in the world. The Nazis had sealed the printing presses with lead so that they could not be used.
They were well aware of the influence the saint had on the Polish populace and had endeavored to win him over to their cause. The Nazis had even offered to register him as a Volksdeutsche, because of his German sounding surname, so eager were they to have him as a collaborator and propagandist. St. Maximilian had boldly refused the offer, but kept on filling out applications for permission to publish his magazine, though in retaliation, the Nazis continued to reject them. Continue reading →
Yes, some small restorationist factions have continued to multiply; I call them fundamentalists. As you said, before this heap of uncertainties they tell young people: “Do this, do that.” So a seventeen- or eighteen-year-old boy or girl gets excited and they push them forward with rigid directives. And to be honest, they mortgage their lives at thirty, they burst because they were not properly prepared to overcome the thousand and one crises in life, or the thousand and one shortcomings that everyone has, or the thousand and one wrongs that they are going to commit. They do not have the proper criteria to know and understand the mercy of God, for example. This type of rigid religiosity is disguised with doctrines that claim to give justifications, but in reality deprive people of their freedom and do not allow them to grow as persons. A large number end up living a double life.
Nobility is a patrimony of excellence handed on from one generation to the next. Fathers consider it their responsibility provide their sons with a better and more honorable life than they themselves have had. In turn, sons consider it their responsibility to treasure what they have received, to respect it and preserve it, and again, to augment it for the next generation. This is the ideal. The tradition of chivalry is one of the means by which it is strived for.
One can rightly say that the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have had the same noble responsibility, and tragically have failed to preserve and hand on the excellent patrimony of scouting in America to the next generation. Instead, through their capitulation to the homosexual agenda, they have created a profound contradiction between the broadbased ideals of scouting and the natural law. Worse, they make it impossible for Catholics to clarify and lift-up the scouting ideal in the light of the full revelation of Christ. Continue reading →
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,
O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.
“Bring Flowers of the Rarest” is an extra-liturgical May crowning hymn that seems to be a rather sentimental nod to the ambiguity of modern May “devotion,” and perhaps (or perhaps not) an assault upon it. It is a preconciliar hymn that I have often heard characterized as “schmaltzy” and inappropriate for the liturgy, though I have heard it many times used in traditional circles for Holy Mass.
What interests me here is its relation to the pagan or neopagan celebrations associated with May Day, the spring festival. The “Queen of the May” or “May Queen” is a personification of Spring which is ritualized in May Day celebrations by the selection of a young girl dressed in white and crowned with flowers who leads the May Day parade. British folklore has it that of old the ritual ended with the blood sacrifice of the May Queen. Continue reading →
Here is an excerpt from an old post “Damsels in Distress,” in which I mention St. George whose feast we celebrate today:
That brings me more directly to the question of the “damsel in distress.” It is a chivalric image of vulnerability and innocence. Of course, such an image is not complete without the “knight in shining armor,” who conveys the sense of courage and heroism. The image, completed with the damsel in distress being saved by the knight in shining armor, is the picture of courtesy and contains as happy an ending as anyone could hope for. Perhaps the word that best describes it is one coined by Tolkien: eucatastrophe, meaning the complete reversal of catastrophe, idealized as the triumph of the Cross made available to all of us in the Eucharist.
Historically one of the earliest and most important examples of the image as it entered the West is the legend of St. George and the Dragon. The story is by no means an exclusively Western treasure (I think of Russia and Lebanon, for example), but it is particularly important for an understanding of Western chivalry (especially in England).
As the legend goes, or at least one version of it, a dragon took up its abode at the spring from which the locals drew their water. The dragon thus took custody of the spring and demanded a price for its use. The only way the townsfolk could draw their water was by the offering of someone to the dragon as a human sacrifice. Each day a new victim was selected by common agreement through the drawing of lots. One fateful day, the lot fell to the princess of the kingdom, and even the intervention of her father, the king, was not enough to save her from the dragon; the people insisted that the arrangement be respected. At this point, St. George providentially ride up on his steed and volunteered his services to face the dragon, which he did to great effect, the dragon being slain and the damsel rescued. The awestruck townspeople as a result abandoned the ways of paganism and became Christians.
Crusaders, it is said, brought the story back from the East, and retold it as a courtly romance. In a way typical of the Middle Ages, Christian tradition and hagiography was transformed into quasi-secular romance. Certainly, for courtiers who heard this story the “art of courtly love,” could easily serve as the hermeneutic for the understanding of the story, in which case, it would not be any different from the story of the rescue of a damsel in the Arthurian cycle. However, the Christian symbolism, even in the most embellished version of the legend, is unmistakable: the Christ figure enters into combat with the Demon and rescues the Virgin Church from his clutches. This is paradise regained. In some versions of the legend, there is even a tree (Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) to which the maiden is tied and from which she is rescued.
The damsel in distress is the bride of Ephesians 5. This passage of St. Paul on marriage is a holy incantation and exorcism that scatters the feminist demons to their dark and gloomy pits. St. Paul, the “misogynist,” is actually the guardian of feminine weakness and the promoter of chivalry. He admonishes the coward Adam and kneels at the feet of the hero Christ. Both men and women are better for it, if by casting off the modern prejudice they can just for a moment wave away the wafting mist of the Ms. Rambo deception and see the Bridegroom and Bride for who they truly are.
If you love sports, as I do–and/or are interested in how our faith often interacts with them–you might like reading my new First Things “On the Square” column, attached via link below, on Tom Konchalski– a legendary Catholic basketball scout (and graduate of Fordham), whom I was able to interview recently.
One of the reasons I so appreciate writing is because, in doing so, I frequently come across wonderful people like this, whose quite witness in a chaotic world serve to remind us about the importance of what Russell Kirk memorably called “the permanent things.” There are unrecognized saints among us, and one of them just might be Mr. Konchalski.
Marcelo Gonzalez is the Argentinian blogger who was the source for Rorate Caeli’s report on the status of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in Beunos Aires under Cardinal Bergoglio. Dawn Eden pointed, from one of Gonzalez’s articles that he is a Holocaust denier and also called his report on the status of EF under Cardinal Bergoglio a “smear.” A controversy has ensued.
Rorate Caeli has defended the accuracy of Gozalez’s report and seems to be correct that Cardinal Bergoglio provided only one priest for the EF, who celebrated only a “hybrid mass.” Apparently, this was unacceptable to the Latin Mass community and so poorly attended that it was discontinued. But the report of Gozalez, as reproduced by Rorate Caeli, begins thus:
Of all the unthinkable candidates, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is perhaps the worst. Not because he openly professes doctrines against the faith and morals, but because, judging from his work as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, faith and moral seem to have been irrelevant to him.