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Friday, November 24, 2017

Genocide, Old and New

It is a meaty word to be thrown around in the Tavern, and not in the way that lefty snowflakes use it. It can quite spoil a thanksgiving lunch.  In this Vale of Tears we call Humanity's long struggle with life and belief there are outbreaks of madness where one group of people do their worst against another group, and make reasons aplenty to support their slaughter of innocents.  Not that those reasons can stand much of a test of Reason. Genocide is a feature of human history that shows no sign of disappearing.

So today we had a quiet discussion going on. Yes, there was an almost unanimous condemnation of genocide, but sad to say there were denials and dissemblings too. 'Twas ever thus. Many a pint was pulled to cool down hot heads.

It started with the news of one particular chap who was sentenced in a Court  the other day for his leading role in mass slaughter. Ratko Mladić. The 'Butcher of Bosnia'. To many he is a Hero, although I do not envisage his name being put on the Hero Board in the bar any day soon. 

Owen Bowcott and Julian Borger had some bare bones for us which the Prof, JJRay had a few words about too.
Ratko Mladić convicted of war crimes and genocide at UN tribunal
The former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladić, nicknamed the ‘butcher of Bosnia’, has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
More than 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre, Mladic was found guilty at the United Nations-backed international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague of 10 offences involving extermination, murder and persecution of civilian populations.
 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/22/ratko-mladic-convicted-of-genocide-and-war-crimes-at-un-tribunal
As he entered the courtroom, Mladić gave a broad smile and thumbs up to the cameras – a gesture that infuriated relatives of the victims. His defiance shifted into detachment as the judgment began: Mladić played with his fingers and nodded occasionally, looking initially relaxed.
The verdict was disrupted for more than half an hour when he asked the judges for a bathroom break. After he returned, defence lawyers requested that proceedings be halted or shortened because of his high blood pressure. The judges denied the request. Mladić then stood up shouting “this is all lies” and “I’ll fuck your mother”. He was forcibly removed from the courtroom. The verdicts were read in his absence.
Mladić, 74, was chief of staff of Bosnian Serb forces from 1992 until 1996, during the ferocious civil wars and ethnic cleansing that followed the break-up of the Yugoslav state.
The one-time fugitive from international justice faced 11 charges, two of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and four of violations of the laws or customs of war. He was cleared of one count of genocide, but found guilty of all other charges. The separate counts related to “ethnic cleansing” operations in Bosnia, sniping and shelling attacks on besieged civilians in Sarajevo, the massacre of Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica and taking UN personnel hostage in an attempt to deter Nato airstrikes.
The trial in The Hague, which took 530 days across more than four years, is arguably the most significant war crimes case in Europe since the Nuremberg trials, in part because of the scale of the atrocities involved. Almost 600 people gave evidence for the prosecution and defence, including survivors of the conflict.
Delivering the verdicts, judge Alphons Orie said Mladić’s crimes “rank among the most heinous known to humankind and include genocide and extermination”.
In evaluating Mladić’s culpability for genocide, the court pointed to his command and control of the Bosnian Serb army and interior ministry forces, which carried out almost all of the executions, his presence in the area, and his frequent remarks about how the country’s Muslims could “disappear”.
Once Mladic has exhausted any appeals, he could, theoretically, be sent to the UK to serve out the rest of his life behind bars. Britain is one of the countries that has signed up to the tribunal’s agreement on the enforcement of sentences.
The hearing, broadcast live, was followed closely in Bosnia. The Bosnian prime minister, Denis Zvizdić, said the verdict “confirmed that war criminals cannot escape justice regardless of how long they hide”.
In Lazarevo, the Serbian village where Mladić was arrested in 2011, residents dismissed the guilty verdicts as biased. One, Igor Topolic, said: “All this is a farce for me. 
He [Mladić] is a Serbian national hero.”
Mladić’s home village of Bozinovici retains a street named after the former general, where he is praised as a symbol of defiance and national pride.
Mladić’s defence lawyer, Dragan Ivetic, announced that he would appeal against the convictions.
As Owen and Julian gave little context, the Prof, JJ, stepped up. He did not excuse but did shed some light. There are some around with little knowledge of even modern history.
The massacre of innocents can of course never be condoned and it seems clear that Mladic is a thug but I wonder if it could have been taken into consideration during his sentencing that it was Muslims he was fighting and killing?  His Republika Srpska was essentially the frontline of Serbs against the Muslims of Bosnia.
Both in the former Yugoslavia and worldwide Muslims have shown scant regard for the lives of others and retribution is very much a part of Yugoslav culture generally.  As the report above notes, he is seen as a hero by his countrymen. 
He is adored, his portrait adorns bars and office walls in Bosnia and Serbia, his name sung at football matches.  Was he just a typical Yugoslav? His men appear to have followed him unhesitatingly.
Had my people been the victim of centuries of Muslim oppression, I imagine that I might feel similarly. Scots still remember Edward Longshanks (King of England from 1272 to 1307) with bitterness.  Serbs have to remember back only to 1812.  And are we allowed to mention the large number of Serbs killed by the Muslim KLA?
Long memories brings us to another genocide which few barely even recognise let alone discuss. Close to the Home of Anglophilia.

As an Englishman I am always troubled by the Irish hatred of my countrymen. The 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland in the later part of the 20C remain quite fresh in my mind.  As a Catholic I can understand their understanding of their history. I will not, however, accept the longevity of the bitterness. The difficulties of attitude and action experienced by friends of mine sent to NI  to quell murder and mayhem remain a scar. But being sent to protect the Catholic minority was never going to make up for the genocide of Catholics centuries before.

The Irish do so often disremember that English Catholics were slaughtered first.

 Several voices from the tables murmered:
Funny how they never teach this in history classes in school. They also never mention how the Protestants during the Reformation sacked and pillaged convents and monostaries, raping and killing Catholics, and burning churches down.
The average person confuses Protestant violence with ALL of Christianity. They don’t know the difference between Catholic and Protestant. That’s why some hate ALL Christians.
But let us hear some of the accounts of the time and get a bit of that history lesson that we did not get at school - or University for that matter.

It is timely, being as America, started in their tradition by the Puritans, is celebrating 'Thanksgiving'. Seumas MacManus takes us back.
The Puritan Massacres of Catholics
On October 2, 1649, the English Parliament appointed a national Thanksgiving Day in celebration of the dreadful slaughter—and by unanimous vote placed upon the Parliamentary records—"That the House does approve of the execution done at Drogheda as an act of both justice to them [the butchered ones] and mercy to others who may be warned by it."
EXCERPT FROM "The STORY of the IRISH RACE" 
It was in August of ‘40 that Cromwell landed in Dublin, with eight regiments of foot, six of horse, and several troops of dragoon—in all seventeen thousand of the flower of the Puritan army. 
They were extraordinary men, his Ironsides—Bible-reading, psalm-singing soldiers of God—fearfully daring, fiercely fanatical, papist hating, looking on this land as being assigned to them the chosen people, by their God. 
And looking on the inhabitants as idol-worshiping Canaanites who cursed of God, and to be extirpated by the sword. 

They came with minds inflamed by the lurid accounts of the "great Popish Massacre," which for some years now had been, by the Parliamentarians, sedulously circulated among the English people. 
A sample of this literature is the pamphlet published in London in 1647 by a noted Puritan preacher (and writer) Nathaniel Ward: "I beg upon my hands and knee that the expedition against them (the Irish) be undertaken while the hearts and hands of our soldiery are hot; to whome, I will be bold to say, briefly: happy be he that shall reward them as they served us, and cursed be he who shall do the work of the Lord negligently. Cursed be he who holdeth back the sword from blood: yea cursed be he that maketh not the sword stark drunk with Irish blood; who doth not recompense them double for their treachery to the English; but maketh them in heaps on heaps, and their country the dwelling place of dragons—and astonishment for nations. Let not that eye look for pity, nor hand be spared, that pities or spares them; and let him be cursed that curseth them not bitterly."
In an earlier time he could have been on Ghengis Khan's HQ Staff. 
To keep the men’s venom at the boiling point there were chosen to travel with the troops, and also to sail with the fleet, Puritan preachers of the Word distinguished for their almost demoniacal hatred of the papistical Irish. 
Stephen Jerome, Hugh Petes, and their like, noted for the violence of their invective against all thing s Irish and Catholic, preached a war of extermination in the most startling and fearful manner—in the pulpit invoking the curse of God upon those who should hold their hands from slaying "while man, woman or child or Belial remains alive." Peters exhorted his hearers to do as did the conquerors of Jericho, "kill all that were, young men and old, children, and maidens."
The great leader of the grim Ironsides, himself, was destined to leave behind him in Ireland for all time 
a name synonymous with ruthless butchery.
The first rate taste of the qualities of this agent of God the Just, and first Friend of the Irish was given to the people at Drogheda. When he took this city he gave it and its inhabitants to his men for a three days’ and three nights’ unending orgy of slaughter. Only thirty men out of a garrison of three thousand escaped the sword; and it is impossible to compute what other thousands of non-combatants, men, women, and children, were butchered. 
They were slain in the streets, in the lanes, in the yards, in the gardens, in the cellars, on their own hearthstone. They were slain in the altar steps, in the market-place—till the city’s gutters ran with red rivulets of blood. 
In the vaults underneath the church a great number of the finest women of the city sought refuge. But hardly one, if one, even of these, was left to tell the awful tale of unspeakable outrage and murder. 
Arthur Wood, the Historian of Oxford, gives us a narrative compiled from the account of his brother who was an officer in Cromwell’s army, and who had been through the siege and sack of Drogheda—which throws interesting sidelight upon the British methods, and the quaint point of view of the most cultured of them. 
"Each of the assailants would take up a child and use it as a buckler of defense to keep him from being shot or brained. 
After they had killed all in the church they went into the vaults underneath, where all the choicest of women had hid themselves. One of these, a most handsome virgin arrayed in costly a dn gorgeous apparel, knelt down to Wood, with tears and prayers begging for her life; and being stricken with a profound pity, he did take her under his arm for protection, and went with her out of the church with intention to put her over the works, to shift for herself, but a soldier, perceiving his intention, ran the sword through her, whereupon Mr. Wood, seeing her gasping, took away her money, jewels, etc., and flung her down over the works."
In his despatch to the Speaker of the House of Commons, after Drogheda, Cromwell says: "It has pleased God to bless our endeavour at Drogheda. . . . the enemy were about 3,000 strong in the town. I believe we put to the sword the whole number. . . .This hath been a marvelous great mercy. . . . I wish that all honest hearts may give the glory of this to God alone, to whom indeed the praise of this mercy belongs."
My Supplier does not like this projecting of wickedness upon Him, one little bit. Take it from me ! 
And again, "In this very place (St. Peter’s Church), a thousand of them were put to the sword, fleeing thither for safety. . . .And now give me leave to say how this work was wrought. It was set upon some of our hearts that a great thing should be done, not by power or might, but by the spirit of God. And is it not so, clearly?"
Wicked men all too often blame God.   'Twas always thus.
On October 2, 1649, the English Parliament appointed a national Thanksgiving Day in celebration of the dreadful slaughter—and by unanimous vote placed upon the Parliamentary records—"That the House does approve of the execution done at Drogheda as an act of both justice to them [the butchered ones] and mercy to others who may be warned by it."
After Drogheda, Cromwell, in quick succession reduced the other northern strongholds, then turned and swept southward to Wexford—where he again exhibited to the people the face of the King and Friend. Two thousand were butchered here. He thought it a simple act of justice to "the Saint," his soldiers, to indulge them in the little joy of slaughtering the Canaanites. He writes: "I thought it not right or good to restrain off the soldiers from their right of pillage, or from doing execution on the enemy."
Lingard, in his History of England says: "Wexford was abandoned to the mercy of the assailants. The tragedy recently enacted at Drogheda was renewed. No distinction was made between the defenseless inhabitants and the armed soldiers, nor could the shrieks and prayers of three hundred females who had gathered round the great Cross in the market-place, preserve them from the swords of these ruthless barbarians."
Nicholas French, Bishop of Wexford who escaped from the city, and after terrible suffering and privation, escaped from the country, records: "On that fatal day, October 11th 1649, I lost everything I had. Wexford, my native town, then abounding in merchandise, ships, and wealth, was taken at the sword’s point by Cromwell, and sacked by and infuriated soldiery. 
Before God’s altar fell sacred victims, holy priests of the Lord. 
Of those who were seized outside the church some were scourged, some thrown into chains and imprisoned , while others were hanged or put to death by cruel tortures. The blood of the nobles of our citizens was shed so that it inundated the streets. There was hardly a house that was not defiled with carnage and filled with wailing."
At Cashel, where two thousand were slain, Cromwell’s general, Broughill, took the Bishop of Ross, cut off his hands and feet, and then hanged him. A Dominican friar had his fingers and toes cut off before he was slain. And at Clonmel, a Franciscan was first drawn on the rack and then had his hands and feet burned off, after which he was hung. The parish priest of Arklow was tied to a wild horse’s tail and dragged to Gorey, where he was hanged.
The attitude adopted by the exterminators towards those whom they were exterminating is illumined to us when we know that the most wildly grotesque stories told of the latter, were greedily accepted by the former. 
In Nash’s edition of the Hudibras, it was gravely stated that when seven hundred Irish had been put to the sword by Inchiquin, "Among them were found, when stripped divers that had tails nearly a quarter of a yard long. Forty soldiers, eye-witnesses, testified the same on their oaths." 
A Protestant minister with the troops in Munster wrote home to London that when they had stormed a certain castle, many of the slain defenders were found to have tails several inches long!
The mind boggles that men who profess to be Christians can be so wicked. I can safely bet that those protestants that are nice, normal, ordinary people of today do not know the least part of their own denomination's past. Not the reality. Perhaps some notions of the myths that excuse.

Not that I hold Catholics to be much different. Our religion's history has dark moments and bad people too.

There is a great irony, of course. Those murderous Puritans were treated similarly (not with quite the same measure) by subsequent protestants and had to flee to the New World. Hence the 'Thanksgiving' there in the USA. A double irony is that their settlement would not have survived let alone prospered had they not been befriended by an Indian ---  who was a Catholic !!

It is a bit late now to hold a Trial of Cromwell and his men. I have little doubt that they were confronted with their wickedness in the Great Court above infront of the Divine Judge. Pray for mercy.

Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those murderous b*****  that have most need of your Mercy. 

Drinks all around. We need it.

Pax






Thursday, November 23, 2017

Freedom? To do What?

We all 'know' what freedom is.  Don't we? It is in our Nature: put there. Not an accident or random concept. Intrinsic.  Do you think of it much? Yet History is all about fighting for it, to keep it. History is all about War.  Maybe you do not think about history that much. Every major movement in humanity's history pivots upon war and resisting the attempts of others to take freedoms away from us. 

The original concept had a name. Eleutheros. Def:1.freeborn: in a civil sense, one who is not a slave or of one who ceases to be a slave, freed, manumitted. 2. free, exempt, unrestrained, not bound by an obligation. 3. in an ethical sense: free from the yoke of the Mosaic Law. The last is the Christian theological definition. We had to wait for it.

And what do we do with the freedom we enjoy? We can play videogames. We can attend rock concerts. Twerk? Take selfies? That seems to be what many of our young do. Or we can use it to free other aspects of our Nature. We can use our freedom to discover the way home. We can free others. We can fight the Good fight.
We can ask: What Can I do in the War?

My good friend The Southern Gal has been doing some deep thinking. She took me aside and we sat for a while. She is recovering well. Over in the US it is 'Thanksgiving'. She is thankful and preparing for something.
eleutheros  
As we are soon approaching a new year in the next month or so I sit back and reflect upon what the Almighty has placed on my own heart.  I ponder what I need to change, what I need to fight for, what I need to let go of, how I need to better myself personally and what I can do to make a difference in my own community.   
Also, I think about what He has brought me through, how He saved me both physically and spiritually, and what He intends for me to do in the future along with how I am to prepare myself for it.
The older I get, the more I realize God does not promise us an easy life, nor should we as believers ever feel entitled to one.  
Christ Himself did not have such luxury of a pain free life and He was the Son of God.  Yet He did not complain, He did not whine, and He never acted like a perpetual victim to His circumstances (even when He was on the cross).  He was ever pressing forward to the mission ahead; Christ was a man of action.  
One of my own personal struggles is finding my place in this world.  Where I fit in….what purpose am I to fulfill in the number of years God decides to keep me here. What effort am I putting forth to see change not only in this blessed land I live in but also within myself.  Am I just complaining about the injustices I see or am I taking action to correct them?  
Our purpose. Hmmm. The Catechism has it.... 'God made me to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him in the next'.  It behoves us all to think about it but so few do. TSG is ahead already.
Part of our mission as mothers, is that we raise our children and that we raise them well.  We make sacrifices for them.  We want them to grow up in a place that is free.  And if you are anything like me you ask yourself what part do we play in seeing that our children remain free?  
That they live in a world and a country that is just?  
Children are our living legacy.  As to Christ, we are His living legacy and his sacrifice on the cross was not for himself but for those coming after Him. God gives each of us a mission and gifts to complete those missions He lays in our hearts.  
As a believer, part of our mission is to fight evil wherever we are, with whatever means God has given us to do so.  
But it starts first within ourselves.
I believe we are fighting internal and external evils in our nation.  The 2 biggest threats I see to our way of life are the leftists and Islam.  
We fail to acknowledge that Islamic cultural values are not equal to western values.  Many also have an entitlement attitude to freedom.  The harsh truth is, the only person that came to save your soul was Christ….but beyond that this life is 100% your responsibility to make a positive impact in this world.  Nobody owes you anything.

Most in my generation haven’t traveled abroad, they haven’t experienced life outside of the “luxuries” many of them take for granted.  
Many know nothing of true poverty or what it means to live under brutality or oppression.  
Even though America has problems, I still consider it the best country in the world.  I hear many complain about the problems but very few are willing to get their hands dirty to be a part of a broader solution.  And it starts in our own back yards. 
I could see she was in need of a moment for composure. She had a couple of examples of the lack of freedom that others have, but I drew her attention to the picture at the top, first. It has a far deeper meaning than most realise. It is very like another. Perhaps you can take a moment too. The deeper aspect come near the end. 
That Corpsman had freedom. Of sorts. He was also constrained by military rules, Orders, disciplines, regulations, physical burdens and challenges to his very life such that most could not carry let alone work with. 


But he shouldered far more. 

He had the Freedom to do that.

I shall come back to his lesson.
The truth is if you live in the United States you are far more blessed than what you realize.  Here is a glimpse of what its like in cultures where Islam is that main religion and sharia law is common practice.  

What it’s like to grow up as a young boy in Afghanistan…..
What it’s like to be a women in Afghanistan…..
We are blessed here in the west because of good men that are willing to fight injustices both in the present and in the past generations.  We shouldn’t forget that.  
But some of the greatest threats we are facing now are leftism and radical Islam.  
The threats are coming from within our borders.  The values held by those promoting these beliefs are not compatible with the freedoms and values our country was founded upon or of those in the west as a whole.  They are a threat to the very fabric of our society and way of life.  
I am unwilling to bend in submission to these evils.  We must fight them, actively wherever they are.  We must educate our young people on what it means to be free or we will most definitely lose it.  
And it is that younger generation that will suffer most for it.  

We are not above suffering for the freedom in this country. 
Every Christian is responsible for preparing themselves to be a warrior in their own way.  War is a constant throughout history.  Many men have been conscripted into the armies of nations.  So, too, have the people of God been called to war: 
one in which the ultimate stakes hang in the balance. 
 Christ often compared following him to warfare.  It is a very real aspect of the way those who follow Christ must live.  There is much effort involved-energy must be expanded in the day-to-day life of a true Christian.

Every good soldier will study his enemy to determine his strengths and weaknesses.  To be able to defeat the enemy, he must know how to deftly use, with overwhelming force, the weapons at his diposal.  
Every Christian faces three enemies.  
The mighty foes are in the league against us.  They are crafty, cunning and lurking whom they may devour like a lion in the night.  They stand ready to attack us at every corner.  They seek to confuse and overwhelm us and wear us down.  Their ultimate goal is to murder us.

These three enemies are SELF, SOCIETY and SATAN
Yes, The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 
We will have to battle them for the rest of our physical lives.  Every ounce of energy and effort must be put forth to gain victory over them.  We must never underestimate our enemies.
Not every warrior is cut from the same cloth.  Many fight with a physical sword and bring those to justice on the battlefield..they are the physical embodiment of the ArchAngel Michael.  
These men use their strength for good.  They use it to rebuild, to save and to bring justice and prosperity.

 A warriors message about fighting for freedom…..for a nation that isn’t even his own…..Good men, manly men….doing what good men do.  
A dignified  English Knight willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with his men.………….. 
Now this is a short speech you will not hear in a holywood film. And a Chaplain's blessing delivered as by a Glasgow heavyweight.
Another soldier of sorts…..blessed with a brilliant mind.  Fighting the fight in his own way with the gifts God gave him. 
We often fail to take seriously the Communists’ and Socialists’ quest for “utopianism” has a tendency to end with mass graves of the undesirables at the time.  Evil often can have different names or different forms, even another face.  
But it is still evil.  

My grandmother once told me that every generation has some sort of evil they must rise up and fight against.  
Can you imagine the type of country we would have if our grandparents would have bent over into submission to Hitler?  I challenge you to ask yourself, “What price is too high for freedom?”  
And what part are you willing to play in order to keep it? 

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”

John 8:32
We very often overlook the evil within. We see it sometimes in our neighbours but rarely give what is inside ourselves that label. We find it easy to critique others, label them, fight their pernicious impacts, but mostly we ignore our own.

Recal that soldier above - the corpsman who rescued a wounded enemy. He managed to understand the injunction "Love Thine Enemy", even in the thick of battle. A truely Good man. He had taken the time to examine his conscience well before arriving on the front. 
That is a prepared Soldier.
The gentleman soldier giving the speech would have us believe that the Corpsman did what he did because he was 'an American'.  I can understand in the context. But can you understand that in praise of nationality bordering on hubris, he does not do justice to God nor to the man.  I have seen Englishmen, Frenchmen, almost all nationalities save an enemy. 

The chap did what he did because he was answering to God, not to America.
He was a Good Man.

The Monks I spoke of yesterday have pledged their freedom to fight that evil in all men's and women's hearts, including their own. Their own first.  They have to purify themselves to be of use to others.

In our thinking and contemplating we must look at that too. Thinly disguised, our faults of thinking, even of knowledge, can be put down to laziness. Our upbringing, the myths and calumnies, the pride and certainties we are given from an early age, can distance us from that Nature God gave us, and from the true Legacy of his One Holy Church that He established for us. As adults we need to challenge those myths and calumnies, free ourselves and gain the gifts we were promised.

I will share fine Ales and wines from my Supplier with TSG well beyond my last days. She will find her purpose.

She comforts my heart.

Pax

To Battle under the Rule.

What a phrase to ring in the ears of a half-deaf old Knight, yet it lifted me as it was intoned, asked, and responded to by four young men. To Battle under the Rule.  Warriors come in many guises and these were to battle against the Wickedness and Snares of an ancient foe, in a fine Company, while I, a 'Free-Lance' tend my Tavern and pray in my Crypt.

I was honoured to be asked, personally, to attend this momentous occasion for Catholics in Australia, and Tasmania in particular, by Fr. Pius Mary Noonan, the Monk who came from America via 30 plus years in a Monastery in France to establish the first Catholic, Benedictine monastic community here in a long, long time. And he has been busy recruiting fine and eager men to join him. 
I arrived nice and early.

So I trekked the 60 kilometres or so, on Tuesday 21st, taking my neighbour hermit Nun and a fine, old and Holy Priest, my occasional Confessor, along with me. A tiny Church in deepest Tasmanian country, very like Burgundy - so claims Fr. Pius - was the venue for their Robing and it was full to overflowing. The Archbishop, Julian Porteous attended too. There was a fine supper afterwards at the home of Dr Daintree and his wife Elizabeth. An astonishing crowd of Good people.

The 'Rule' for you layfolk, according to Wiki..... The Rule of Saint Benedict  - Latin: Regula Benedicti-  is a book of precepts written by Benedict of Nursia ( c. AD 480–550) for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot.

The spirit of Saint Benedict's Rule is summed up in the motto of the Benedictine Confederation: pax ("peace") and the traditional ora et labora ("pray and work"). Compared to other precepts, the Rule provides a moderate path between individual zeal and formulaic institutionalism; because of this middle ground it has been widely popular. Benedict's concerns were the needs of monks in a community environment: namely, to establish due order, to foster an understanding of the relational nature of human beings, and to provide a spiritual father to support and strengthen the individual's ascetic effort and the spiritual growth that is required for the fulfillment of the human vocation, theosis.

The Rule of Saint Benedict has been used by Benedictines for fifteen centuries,

 ...and thus St. Benedict is sometimes regarded as the founder of Western monasticism. 

There is, however, no evidence to suggest that Benedict intended to found a religious order in the modern sense and it was not until the later Middle Ages that mention was made of an "Order of Saint Benedict". His Rule was written as a guide for individual, autonomous communities, and to this day all Benedictine Houses (and the Congregations in which they have grouped themselves) remain self-governing. Advantages seen in retaining this unique Benedictine emphasis on autonomy include cultivating models of tightly bonded communities and contemplative lifestyles. Perceived disadvantages comprise geographical isolation from important activities in adjacent communities. Other perceived losses include inefficiency and lack of mobility in the service of others, and insufficient appeal to potential members. These different emphases emerged within the framework of the Rule in the course of history and are to some extent present within the Benedictine Confederation and the Cistercian Orders of the Common and the Strict Observance.

This new community is firmly embedded within the Diocese of Hobart and while retaining all aspects of 'the Life', will get a great deal of support from many fine Catholics in the region.

Greg Sheridan was privy to some detail before hand which he published a few days ago in the Australian Weekend magazine. Some of it I put here.
Who’d be a monk today?
Australia’s newest and most remarkable monastery is already looking to expand. What attracts young men to a life of poverty and obedience?
Three young men attend to the business — a ceremony, really — of washing my hands. They look fit, they’re lean,heads shaved. One holds a basin under my hands, one pours water over them and one offers me a towel to dry them. All this is done in silence as an older man supervises. 
Then we proceed to the next room for lunch: lasagne, fruit, cheese and surprisingly, a glass of red wine. A young man reads aloud while the rest of us eat in silence. All of this silence suggests a life as radically countercultural as you will find anywhere. 
In many ways it is a rebuke to today’s culture, a challenge to it. I am visiting the Notre Dame Priory in Hobart, the newest and most remarkable Benedictine monastery in Australia.
The washing of the hands proceeds from Chapter 53 of the Rule of St Benedict. Written some 1500 years ago, it states: “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.” It mandates washing the guest’s hands.
Here is a group of young Australian men — smart as you like, mostly university graduates in their 20s, with all manner of life and possibility before them — choosing to follow this ancient monastic rule.
The Notre Dame Priory opened its doors in February. The prior, Father Pius Mary Noonan, 50, an American, spent more than 30 years in a Benedictine monastery in France. A slightly built, learned, straightforward man, Pius looks a little like Father Mulcahy in M*A*S*H, and has a strangely similar accent. 
How does he come to be in Australia,
leading this monastery?
A decade ago, an Australian woman arrived at the office of his French monastery and, because he could speak English, Pius was sent to talk to her. 
In his small, book-lined study, Pius takes up the story: “She had been touring French Benedictine monasteries to find one which would found an institution in Australia. We couldn’t do that for her, but she did find one that would come to Australia to give retreats.”
Retreats are an old Christian custom where for a day or more you step out of your routine life and turn your mindto God, under the direction of a priest, nun or other spiritual guide. Pius started coming to Australia every secondyear to hold retreats in Brisbane, Wollongong and Parramatta.
“I came to feel the Lord was calling us to do more in Australia than just give retreats every two years,” he says. “I tried to convince the Abbey [monastery] to do that. The Abbott didn’t want to create a foundation but he did agreeto let me go. I said to him there are young men in Australia who want to be monks and have nowhere to go, so welose vocations or they go overseas. So he said you can go and see if there’s a bishop who will do it. 
Hobart’s Archbishop Julian Porteous, who has given strong leadership to Tasmania’s Catholics, was keen to host the Benedictines. The woman whose initiative brought the monks to Australia now comes in to help with practical tasks.
Across the country there are probably fewer than half a dozen monasteries and convents that follow some form of the Benedictine rule. Like most Catholic orders of priests, brothers or nuns, the Benedictines and other contemplative orders have experienced a steady decline in numbers since about the late 1960s. For a new monastery to open with a swag of new recruits is momentous.
The priory occupies a small house, formerly a parish priest’s house or presbytery, in the bayside suburb of Lindisfarne. I miss the morning mass but join the monks as they chant the Divine Office — the recitation of certain prayers at fixed hours — at 11am in the tiny chapel, the nicest room by far in the bare house. Three monks, each in a white religious habit, are on one side and three on the other. In plaintive Gregorian chant, one side sings a verse in Latin then the other side responds. The verses come from the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. 
They celebrate mass, and all their liturgy, in Latin, which marks them as highly unusual in Australia.
After lunch we enjoy a half-hour of recreation in the lounge, which is furnished with an old sofa and a few chairs.
They take a vow of poverty, these monks, but they are also living that extra poverty that accompanies a new project built on faith and slender funds.
The monks’ day is mostly spent in silent prayer and study, and in periods of work, but there are two recreation periods: half an hour after lunch, when they usually go for a brisk walk along pretty Lindisfarne Bay, and 20 minutes after dinner. Today they’re in the lounge so we can chat.
I want to know what led them to the Benedictine life. (These are private young men and I have agreed not to publish their names.) “It just seems the fastest way to heaven,” says one. Another says he had been struggling with the idea of a religious vocation and paid a couple of visits to a monastery in the US. 
He describes great beauty witnessing the priests simultaneously saying their morning masses. “I was provisionally accepted there,” he recalls. “I had to come back to Australia and sort out some property and practical matters. Then I basically got cold feet. I was nervous about spending the rest of my life in America. I wanted to live this monastic life in Australia.”
Another recalls a life-changing experience at one of the Australian Benedictine retreats: “I was looking for a quietfew days. I hadn’t expected to go there hung over and heartbroken.” The intense retreat experience, contemplating the things in life that stood between him and God, opened him to the idea of the religious life, the contemplative life.
In a separate discussion, Pius offers his take on motivation: 
“The reasons that bring people to monastic life are in their thousands, but there is only one reason you’ll stay — a great love of God.”
Mostly, young men drawn to this life first undertake a retreat for some days. Then, after discussion with the prior or abbott, they may live in for a few weeks as an “aspirant”, joining in the prayers and community life. After deep consideration and only with agreement of the monastery, aspirants become a novice for at least a year with several more years of instruction in Latin, theology, church history and related subjects. 
It might be seven years before a monk takes his final vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability (the latter means staying at the one community).
I ask the four novices and one aspirant (who still wears civvies) how they feel about the small daily sacrifices ofmonastic life. One answers: “After a while you realise that things like not having a cup of tea any time you want it. during the day don’t really matter. It doesn’t really matter not following the detail of events. You still hear the big news — Australia has retained the Ashes or whatever.” Another likes the practice of communal reading at lunch and dinner: “You get to hear some wonderful books that you probably wouldn’t have read otherwise.” 
He nods towards the prior. “Father,” he says, “you must have absorbed hundreds of books over the years.” The reading is not always religious; earlier they read an account of the French Revolution.
Nonetheless, as Pius points out: “This life has high demands. You can’t marry and have kids, you can’t take time off to watch a movie, you can’t even look something up on the internet without permission. You could argue it’s good for your mental and physical health. 

Monks traditionally live very long lives. 
You don’t become a monk for that reason but it’s a life in accord with human nature. Everything is ordered around liturgy, prayer, silence — the ability to serve the Lord and try to become saints.”
Pius readily testifies that he has been happy as a monk: “I have the conviction that my life is in the hands of someone who loves me and wants what is best for me. To discover God’s way is always best. 
This is very countercultural. 
Today’s culture says ‘make life what you like’. But life is best when you see it as a gift and give it back.”
The monks rise at about 4.30am each day — earlier on Sundays — to be ready to chant their first Divine Office at 5am. Later, they will each have a brief, modest breakfast in silence. They chant the prayers known as the Office seven or eight times a day. The Office is mainly the Book of Psalms, and they work their way through the whole book in a couple of weeks. Sometimes they have other readings from scripture and every morning at 10am there is (Holy) Mass. 
Some of the Offices are short, 10 or 15 minutes; some are perhaps an hour. Often they are followed by periods of private prayer, then time for spiritual reading. Books at first are recommended by the prior but later the monks choose their own reading (again, not all of it religious) in consultation with their spiritual director.
As in most Benedictine monasteries there are also designated periods of physical work that provide exercise and humility. The most learned monk — and many go on to earn doctorates at Catholic universities — will do his fairshare of scrubbing floors, cleaning toilets and laundry.
This house in Lindisfarne is full and the monastery has a bigger piece of land in the countryside where it hopes tobuild a larger facility. This is urgently needed because more young men want to join. 
In its way this is staggering.
At a time when the Census reveals a precipitous decline in Christian belief, and most millennials are addicted to their screens, these young men want to embark on a life of quiet but exacting Benedictine rigour.
I notice resting on the table in Pius’s study a book, Strangers to the City, by Michael Casey. A few days later I buy a copy in Melbourne’s Catholic bookshop. This astonishing and enthralling read leads me to my second monastic adventure.
But you will have to ask Greg about that. 

What a busy week, and uplifting.

In this terrible age when Christianity is under severe attack and the only abstinance that seems apparant is of sense, and apathetic hedonism takes so many of our young folk, it is heartening to see some movement in the better direction.

Charge your glasses, tankards, cups and horns - Drink to these fine men. 

Pax, ora et labora. 

Now I have a bit of labora to do on the floor of the crypt.

Oh, PS... the old and Holy Priest I mentioned, offered to pay for the petrol of the journey. I told him to keep his money but to say a Holy Mass for my Daughter. He loves to offer Holy Mass for Special Intentions. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Middle East Plots and Carnage.

Being a simple sort, not at all included in the considerations and deliberations of those who are in power, I have little idea of what is going on in the world. There are plots within plots. Oh, I hear things of course.  I read all that you do and very likely more. Customers drop in with all sorts of scuttlebutt, but making sense of it through all of the competing ideologies is a tax on the thinking powers of even the most astute. And I have my work cut out cleaning the bars, pulling pints and mopping the floor of the Crypt. The newspapers and the TV 'anchors' make little sense, even when one half-trusts the lying toads. 

So I rely upon finer brains. Brains that are used to plots and alibis, motives and machinations. Someone who has sat on the bench and at the legal Bar rather than the thirst quenching one. And one who has a wife that keeps his puns in check.

So it was that Bill and Sharon put me aright on some matters of right and wrong, good guys and bad guys. These two are - in their own words...

We are The Deadly Duo, 
a/k/a Bill Hopkins and Sharon Woods Hopkins. 
In our real lives, Bill is a retired Judge and Sharon will never retire. 
We kill people, and make heroes and heroines out of ordinary folks like us. In fact, some people think we are writing about ourselves. 
Personally, we would never do what these characters do. They take on a life of their own. We only report on what they are up to.
So I asked Bill to 'explain' some things to me. Over a few pints, of course, in the US Room, where he and Sharon are World Famous. Syria, for example, and as a start. Well, it is topical.  And on the proviso that once he had told all the secrets, he would not have to kill us.
Syria, Explained.
President Assad (who is bad) is a nasty guy who got so nasty his people rebelled and the Rebels (who are good) started winning (Hurrah!).
But then some of the rebels turned a bit nasty and are now called Islamic State (who are definitely bad!) and some continued to support democracy (who are still good).
So the Americans (who are good) started bombing Islamic State (who are bad) and giving arms to the Syrian Rebels (who are good) so they could fight Assad (who is still bad) which was good.
Its all Bill's fault, M'Lud.
By the way, there is a breakaway state in the north run by the Kurds who want to fight IS (which is a good thing) but the Turkish authorities think they are bad, so we have to say they are bad whilst secretly thinking they're good and giving them guns to fight IS (which is good) but that is another matter.
Getting back to Syria.
So President Putin (who is bad, cos he invaded Crimea and the Ukraine and killed lots of folks including that nice Russian man in London with polonium poisoned sushi) has decided to back Assad (who is still bad) by attacking IS (who are also bad) which is sort of a good thing?
But Putin (still bad) thinks the Syrian Rebels (who are good) are also bad, and so he bombs them too, much to the annoyance of the Americans (who are good) who are busy backing and arming the rebels (who are also good).
Now Iran (who used to be bad, but now they have agreed not to build any nuclear weapons and bomb Israel are now good) are going to provide ground troops to support Assad (still bad) as are the Russians (bad) who now have ground troops and aircraft in Syria.

So a Coalition of Assad (still bad), Putin (extra bad) and the Iranians (good, but in a bad sort of way) are going to attack IS (who are bad) which is a good thing, but also the Syrian Rebels (who are good) which is bad.
Now the British (obviously good, except that nice Mr Corbyn in the corduroy jacket, who is probably bad) and the Americans (also good) cannot attack Assad (still bad) for fear of upsetting Putin (bad) and Iran (good / bad) and now they have to accept that Assad might not be that bad after all compared to IS (who are super bad).
So Assad (bad) is now probably good, being better than IS (but let’s face it, drinking your own wee is better than IS so no real choice there) and since Putin and Iran are also fighting IS that may now make them good. America (still good) will find it hard to arm a group of rebels being attacked by the Russians for fear of upsetting Mr Putin (now good) and that nice mad Ayatollah in Iran (also good) and so they may be forced to say that the Rebels are now bad, or at the very least abandon them to their fate. This will lead most of them to flee to Turkey and on to Europe or join IS (still the only constantly bad group).
To Sunni Muslims, an attack by Shia Muslims (Assad and Iran) backed by Russians will be seen as something of a Holy War, and the ranks of IS will now be seen by the Sunnis as the only Jihadis fighting in the Holy War and hence many Muslims will now see IS as Good (Doh!.)
Sunni Muslims will also see the lack of action by Britain and America in support of their Sunni rebel brothers as something of a betrayal (mmm...might have a point) and hence we will be seen as Bad.
So now we have America (now bad) and Britain (also bad) providing limited support to Sunni Rebels (bad) many of whom are looking to IS (good / bad) for support against Assad (now good) who, along with Iran (also good) and Putin (also, now, unbelievably, good) are attempting to retake the country Assad used to run before all this started?
I hope that clears all this up for you.
I mulled over that for a while. No wonder his books sell. I urge you all to buy Bill and Sharon's books. He urged me to urge you.  

But, no, it did not clear things up. Not enough, anyway.

I did not press him on the facts of the matter, nor on my suspicion that he had plagiarised it all from some unknown person. You can cross-examine him yourselves. With that sword dangled over him, I am hopeful he will not have me up before his bench for plagiarising his account.

I wondered if Google, the font of all knowldege, could shed light on a part missing from Bill's account. Palestine. 

You know, that UN and Western taxpayer sinkhole wherin vast amounts of our dollars go, and right next door to Israel, which gets the rockets and bullets and knives that those dollars fund. It seems to be involved.

Jean Patrick Grumberg is a journalist for the French-language news site Dreuz, so of course must be one of those we must trust. Hmmmm.  He explained too:
When Was the "Palestinian People" Created? 
Google Has the Answer.
All people born in British Mandatory Palestine between 1923-1948 (today's Israel) had "Palestine" stamped on their passports at the time. 
But when they were called Palestinians, the Arabs were offended. 

They complained: "We are not Palestinians, we are Arabs. The Palestinians are the Jews".
After invading Arab armies were routed and the Arabs who had fled the war wanted to return, they were considered a fifth column and not invited back. The Arabs who had loyally remained in Israel during the war, however, and their descendants, are still there and make up one fifth of the population. They are known as Israeli Arabs; they have the same rights as Christians and Jews, except they are not required to serve in the army unless they wish to.
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese." – PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen, interview in the Dutch newspaper Trouw, March 1977.
In an op-ed in the Guardian on November 1, 2017, ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas called on the UK to "atone" for the century of "suffering" that the document allegedly wrought on the "Palestinian people." 
Abbas reiterated the claims he has been making since 2016, to justify a surreal lawsuit he has threatened to bring against Britain for supporting the "creation of a homeland for one people [Jews], which, he asserted, "resulted in the dispossession and continuing persecution of another."
"Palestinians" were the Jews who lived, along with Muslims and Christians on land called Palestine, which was under British administration from 1917 to 1948.
All people born there during the time of the British Mandate had "Palestine" stamped on their passports. But the Arabs were offended when they were called Palestinians. They complained: "We are not Palestinians, we are Arabs. The Palestinians are the Jews".
Bernard Lewis explains:
"With the rise and spread of pan-Arab ideologies it was as Arabs, not as south Syrians, that the Palestinians began to assert themselves. For the rest of the period of the British Mandate, and for many years after that, their organizations described themselves as Arab and expressed their national identity in Arab rather than in Palestinian or even in Syrian terms."
When Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, five Arab armies joined up to try to kill the infant nation in its crib. After they were routed, some of the local Arabs who had fled the war wanted to return, but they were considered a fifth column and most were not allowed back. The Arabs who had loyally remained in Israel during the war, however, and their descendants, are still there and make up one-fifth of Israel's population today. They are known as Israeli Arabs; they have the same rights as Jews, except they are not legally required to serve in the army. They may volunteer if they wish to.
Israeli Arabs have their own political parties. They serve as members of Knesset and are employed in all professions. The moral is, or should be: Do not start a war unless you are prepared to lose it -- as the Arabs in and around Israel have done repeatedly, in 1947-48, 1967 and 1973.
Incidentally, the land that was being held in trust for the Jews in the British Mandate for Palestine initially included all of what is now the Kingdom of Jordan, which was granted its independence in 1946 as the Kingdom of Transjordan.
Less than a week after the article in the Guardian, Omar Barghouti, the instigator of today's attempts to destroy Israel by suffocating it economically, echoed Abbas in a Newsweekpiece, calling the Balfour Declaration "a tragedy for the Palestinian people."
The same sentiment was expressed at the end of September in a lecture delivered by Rashid Khalidi -- the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University -- at the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies in New York City: that the Balfour Declaration "launched a century-long assault on the Palestinians aimed at implanting and fostering this national homeland, later the state of Israel, at their expense..."
Khalidi's claims, like those of Abbas and Barghouti, are false. 
Prior to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, there were no "Palestinians." As the prominent Lebanese-American historian and Mideast expert Philip Hitti stated in his testimony before the 1946 Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry: "There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not."
Authors Guy Millière and David Horowitz elaborate on this in their 2015 book, Comment le peuple palestinien fut inventé ("How the Palestinian People Were Invented"), illustrating that the purpose of the fabrication was "to transform a population into a weapon of mass destruction against Israel and the Jewish people, to demonize Israel, and to give totalitarianism and anti-Semitism renewed means of action."
The ploy for a while worked beyond expectations. The term "Palestinians" was used across the world -- including in Israel -- to define the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza; it is often employed also to describe Arabs with Israeli citizenship. 
The narrative that the Jews displaced them by establishing a state completely contradicts the facts.
What are these facts? When was the "Palestinian people" actually created? 
Simply using the Google Ngram Viewer provides the answer.
Ngram is a database that charts the frequency that a given phrase appears in books published between the years 1500 to 2008. When a user enters the word phrases "Palestinian people" and "Palestinian state" into the Ngram search bar, he discovers that they began appearing only in 1960.
In his November 2, 1917 letter to Walter Rothschild, the leader of Britain's Jewish community, Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour wrote:
"His Majesty's government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine [emphasis added], or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
Finally, apart from Ngram, there are the words of the PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen, who, in a March 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, stated:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism.
"For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."
So, there are some other views, from horses mouths, to ponder.

M'self, being one blessed with an English birth and Oz nationality, can make little effective comment. I pull pints: I pray to my Supplier. 

I very much doubt anyone has a full hand of reins on the issue of the Middle East.

Have a long, cool drink.

I do wish all sides would sit and do that.

Pax.