Sunday, December 27, 2015

Feast of St. John the Apostle & Evangelist


File:Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Nativity with St Francis and St Lawrence - WGA04193.jpg
Nativity with San Francesco e San Lorenzo by Caravaggio.

Dum medium silentium tenerent omnia, et nox in suo cursu medium iter haberet, omnipotens Sermo tuus, Domine, de coelis a regalibus sedibus venit.

While all things were in quiet silence and the night was in the midst of her course, Thine Almighty Word, O Lord, leaped down from heaven from Thy royal throne. (Wisdom 18:14-15)

Today is the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas.  Traditionally, on this day, the faithful pause for some theological consideration of the mysteries of the season.  My missal notes, "the sacred liturgy, in revealing to us the supernatural Sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ, which affects our souls more especially at this time of Christmas, makes the Divinity under the aspect of Fatherhood resplendent in our eyes."

In the revised calendar, these considerations are brought into focus with a celebration of the Holy Family -- which this blog will do on its traditional date.



Today, 27 December, is the third day of the Christmas Octave, and the Feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist.

He, the brother of St. James, was one of the sons of Thunder, and was known as the "Beloved" Apostle.  He, with St. Peter and St. James had a prominent role as one of the leading Apostles.  Of course, St. John is also notable for having been entrusted with the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Crucifixion: "Behold your mother."  He wrote not only the Holy Gospel according to St. John, but three Epistles and the book of Revelation.  The last of the Apostles to die, and the only one to actually escape martyrdom (though it was not from a lack of trying on persecutors' part).

For more on St. John, you might check out these links:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. John the Evangelist

Catholic Saints Info: St. John the Apostle

Seasonal Customs (Fisheaters): Feast of St. John

Merry Christmas and live well!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Rules of Etiquette for Gentlemen

 
A Top Hat.


This blogger some years ago wrote a guide to proper etiquette for gentlemen which the gentle reader might enjoy or find edifying, and which is presented below:


COLE'S RULES OF ETIQUETTE FOR GENTLEMEN


A short guide to acting as a proper gentleman


Introduction


                The author’s intent in writing these guidelines is to educate men on how they ought to act as gentlemen in everyday circumstances.  With great disappointment, I perceive that chivalry has almost completely disappeared in our society.  Some of these noble customs can be easily incorporated into the habits of the typical man.  A true gentleman is more than just one in his external actions, however, but in every aspect of his life.  He should strive for the good, live his faith, fulfill his duties with care, and avoid giving offense.  Men: to act as true gentlemen is a challenge.  To you ladies: you should expect and require that you be treated with the respect that is demanded by virtue of that which you are, a lady.

Chapter I: Greetings & Farewells

Section 1: When walking past or greeting someone, a gentleman should address another with some polite and respectful salutation.  "Good (time of day)" is always appropriate, as is "Greetings."  "Howdy" or "Hello" may be used in less formal situations.  "What’s up," and "Hey" are to be avoided.  The use of the other person’s name is always very good, so long as the first name is not employed when speaking to a superior.  Superiors can be greeted using their title:  "Good morning, Doctor."  Clerics should always be addressed by their ecclesiastical title, even if they hold an academic degree.  In certain circumstances, it is acceptable to use a person’s name by itself.  "Sir" or "ma'am" may be used in quite a variety of situations, especially when addressing a superior. When encountering a group of ladies or gentlemen, he should address a greeting to the whole group, such as "Good evening, ladies," rather than address each individually.

Section 2: It is always appropriate to introduce someone with the phrase, "May I present…?"  The correct reply upon meeting someone for the first time is "How do you do?"  The younger man is always presented to the older, and the gentleman to the lady.  It is then the lady or superior who offers his or her hand first.

Section 3: When bidding farewell, such statements as, "Fare [thee] well," "Have a pleasant/good (time of day)," "Good-bye," "Godspeed," and "Good Night," are all suitable and to be used frequently.

Chapter II: Rules of the Hat

Section 1: When greeting a lady, the removal of the hat with a slight bow of the head is suitable.  This should also be used when greeting a superior.  When greeting his equal, a touch of the right hand to the hat brim, or a tip thereof is always in order.

Section 2: A gentleman generally should not wear a hat indoors, except in stores, public buildings, or lobbies.  He should also remove his hat when praying, or when he is speaking to a lady.  If a gentleman is speaking to a lady while in inclement weather, or walking with her, however, it is permissible for him to replace his hat after the initial greeting.


Chapter III: Attire & Appearance

Section 1: A gentleman should always dress in a manner that conveys the respect he should have for himself and those around him.  The same applies to the cleanliness and order of his room, belongings, and person.  A gentleman’s dress should befit the activity he is undertaking, regardless of the dress of his peers or whether he is seen.

Section 2: In addition, a gentleman should hold himself in a dignified manner at all times.  Thus, he should have good posture, and avoid lounging around or slouching.

Chapter IV: Conversation

Section 1: A gentleman should always act as such in conversation.  Needless to say, he should avoid any conversation that would constitute a near occasion of sin, or lack taste or decency, as he would the plague.  When he speaks with a superior or with a lady, the gentleman ought to address the other with such respect as they deserve. 

Section 2: He should also endeavor to speak well and use proper grammar, avoiding slang and nonstandard speech.

Section 3: In addition, the gentleman ought not dominate conversations, but seek to engage all.

Section 4: Finally, he would do well to avoid raising his voice, even if he is extremely distressed.

Chapter V: Dining

Section 1: A gentleman should always act in a restrained, mature, and mannerly fashion while eating.  This is all the more the case in the presence of ladies or superiors. 

Section 2: A gentleman should seek the permission of those already seated before joining them.

Section 3: He should always thank those who serve his meal. 

Section 4: If he rises to obtain something, he should always make certain that no one else is in need of anything.

Section 5: A gentleman should take care never to reach over others during a meal.

Section 6: At the close of the meal, a gentleman should thank whoever cleans up, and be ready himself to assist in cleaning.

Section 7: When a gentleman is taking a lady to a meal, he ought to pay for it, provided circumstances suggest or allow for this.  In group situations, however, no such obligation exists.


Chapter VI: “Acts of Assistance”

Section 1: The gentleman must never keep a lady waiting, and should strive to be punctual with all of his appointments.

Section 2: A gentleman should always be sensitive to the comfort of ladies.  He ought to offer his chair if needed, coat if she may be cold, or umbrella if the weather is inclement.

Section 3: A gentleman should always open doors for ladies, including those of cars.  He should also let ladies and superiors precede him when passing through doorways or entering buildings, unless the way must first be prepared.

Section 4: It is commendable to walk a lady to her destination; of course, he ought to obtain her permission to do so.  The gentleman should, as a rule, walk with a lady or his superior on his right.  Nevertheless, the gentleman should always place himself between a lady or superior and any hazard or annoyance.

Section 5: A gentleman generally should not stop a lady who is walking in order to talk with her.  If he wishes to speak, he should simply ask her permission to join her in walking.  He should take care that he is not keeping a lady in uncomfortable weather.

Section 6: If a gentleman perceives that a lady is carrying something heavy, he should assist her in carrying it.

Section 7: If a lady drops anything, a gentleman should always pick it up and return it to her promptly.

Section 8: If circumstances permit, a seated gentleman should rise to greet or speak with a lady or superior.  He should return to his place only after the lady or superior has been seated.

Section 9: If a gentleman is asked for a favor, he should endeavor to comply, especially if the request comes from a lady, so long as it is possible and/or reasonable to do so.  He must also take care not to be overbearing in offering assistance if it is not desired.



Nota bene: These short rules of etiquette are by no means exhaustive in their scope, and are merely a guideline.  As a further reference, Emily Post’s Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home of 1922 is a valuable resource.  It is available on-line at: Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home by Emily Post
Edition of: © 5.X.2007.

This guide is a revision of the original “Cole’s Rules of Etiquette for Gentlemen,” Sixth Edition, that was written for the men of Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia.

I would like to thank all those who submitted suggestions for this guide, particularly Professor Jenislawski and a certain Latin professor who will remain nameless.  In particular, I thank Draper Warren for the formatting of this guide and for his enthusiastic support.

Live well!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Saint Junipero Serra

Juniperro-serra.jpg

Just yesterday, Pope Francis canonized St. Junipero Serra, the 18th-century Franciscan missionary famous for his leadership in establishing the California missions, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.

The life of Saint Junipero Serra is a remarkable one that begins in Palma, on the island of Majorca, Spain, where he was born in 1737.  Spanish was actually his second language, growing up in a family that spoke the Majorcan dialect of Catalan.  He joined the Franciscans at the age of 17, and departed for the missions in the New World in 1749.


Statue of St. Junipero Serra in statuary hall in the US Capitol Building.

Despite the ill-effects of a mosquito bite that left him with a swollen leg and his asthma, Saint Junipero served as a missionary and inquisitor in the areas around Mexico City and Guadalajara until his appointment to the California coast in 1768.  Previously missionary territory of the Jesuits, their expulsion by King Charles III opened the area to the Franciscans.  This originally meant simply Baja California in what is now Mexico, but under the direction of Serra, missions would be founded in what is now the State of California.

It was on the California coast, where St. Junipero Serra worked from 1768 until his death in 1784, that he did his most famous work of founding a string of missions up the California coast.  The foundation of the mission at San Diego in 1769 was certainly a great moment in his ministry.

Serra poured out his life to bring the Gospel to the natives of California, often in conflict with civil authorities with far less concern for the good of the locals to whom the missions ministered.  Although his attitude towards the locals, his confidence that they were in need of Christianity and civilization, and his support of a mission system which did much to discipline the native communities, mean that he is a figure of some controversy, it is not without reason that Pope Francis fast-tracked his canonization.  St. Junipero Serra embodies a selfless missionary ideal, and shows clearly that cultural and religious relativism is not compatible with Catholicism and Truth!

For a good article on some of the complexities of the era, you should read: National Catholic Register: Father Junipero Serra's Canonization Provides Chance to Set Record Straight

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo
Mission San Carlos: Burial Place of St. Junipero Serra.
["MissionCarmelSEGL2". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]


Dying in 1784, St. Junipero Serra is buried at Mission San Carlos Borromeo at Carmel, California, a mission he founded in 1770 south of San Francisco.

For for a brief summary and other details you might note:
Catholics Saints Info: Junipero Serra

For more detailed and comprehensive information on his life:
Official Site, Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Pontifical Commission for Latin America


The Interior of Mission San Carlos
["Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo (Carmel, CA) - basilica interior, nave" by Nheyob - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]

To visit the official website of his burial place, you might note:
Official Site of the Carmel Mission

Live well!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Neotibicen Cicadas & their Songs

Swamp Cicada (Tibicen tibicen) (14898035959).jpg
A handsome specimen of Neotibicen tibicen, the Swamp Cicada. 
["Swamp Cicada (Tibicen tibicen) (14898035959)" by Andrew C - Swamp Cicada (Tibicen tibicen). Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]


With summer in its mature stages, we are treated to the buzzing calls of the Cicadas of the genus Neotibicen across the Eastern United States.  These, unlike the Periodical Cicadas of the genus Magicicada who make their appearance every 17 or 13 years, are with us every year.  These unique bugs produce an incredibly loud and intense call that is unique to each species.  They are, for reference, members of the order Hemiptera (true bugs), and family Cicadidae.

An understanding of the individual species and their unique calls makes listening to their chorus that much more enjoyable.  The buzz of the Neotibicen is a far cry from the wail of the Magicicada -- as different as the greens and browns are from the reds and blacks in their appearance.  For more on the Magicicada, you might visit my earlier blog post: Brood II: A tale of three species

The genus of annual, or dog-day, Cicadas of the Eastern United States was, as of July 2015, split into multiple new genera from the original genus of Tibicen [which means "flute player" in Latin].  Those in Europe retain that generic name, but those in the Eastern USA are now designated Neotibicen  [So, "new-flute player;" appropriate for New World species.], while those in the Western USA are Hadoa [Apparently from the Apache for "singer."]  You can read the taxonomic paper that resulted in these changes here  Note especially the wonderful, and complete, photographs of the species on what are pages 19 and 20, and are labelled in the paper as 237 and 238: "Molecular phylogenetics, diversification, and systematics of Tibicen," by KATHY B. R. HILL, DAVID C. MARSHALL, MAXWELL S. MOULDS & CHRIS SIMON

For a variety of Cicada-related resources, you might note the aptly named website, Cicadamania.  They have an entire page on the Neotibicen Cicadas and their recent reclassification:
Cicadamania: Neotibicen Changes

Linne's Cicada (Neotibicen linnei) [Photo by blog author]

Of course, the easiest way to learn which species of Cicada is buzzing in your backyard or on the roadside is to consult recordings.  Happily, there are a few quality sites to help you with just that!

This website, Insect Singers: Cicadas of the Eastern United States, is the best, in the sense of most thorough, I have found so far for cataloging the different species and their call.  Go ahead, listen, and see if you can figure out what that fellow singing in your tree is, specifically!

For a more brief and flashy presentation, you should visit this site, which, while not exhaustive, does have great photos and audio: Songs of Insects: Cicadas  This website is a companion to a Book & CD, The Songs of Insects of Elliot & Hershberger, which is splendid and includes not just Cicadas, but a variety of singing insects, including Katydids.

Sit back, take a siesta, and, if you are fortunate enough to live in the right area of this Earth, enjoy the buzzing of late summer!

Live well!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A letter: Confederate Symbols and Honoring Veterans

Flag of Georgia
Flag of the State of Georgia.


In light of the recent controversy and calls for a kind of purge of symbols associated with the Southern Confederacy, I wrote this letter to my elected officials here in the State of Georgia:

-------------------------------
Dear ------,

Greetings.  I hope this finds you well.

In the summer of 1864, my great-great grandfather, Thomas J. Cole, a lad of 16 years of age from Butts County, Georgia, joined the 3rd Georgia Reserve regiment.  He had never been far from his family’s farm in Middle Georgia – a family farm that did not include any slaves.  That same summer the State of Georgia was being invaded by the armies of US General William T. Sherman.  My great-great grandfather responded to the call of the State of Georgia in that moment of crisis.  While Thomas J. Cole never saw combat action, he did lose a leg to infection and gangrene. [Cf., William Marvel, Andersonville: The Last Depot, pgs. 209-210]

Today I hear calls for the Confederate battle flag and other symbols of the Southern Confederacy to be removed even from Confederate war memorials and cemeteries.  I hear folks call anyone associated with the Southern Confederacy a traitor and a racist.

I am painfully aware of the complex history of a symbol like the Confederate battle flag.  I know that it has been and is used by bigots and hateful men as a symbol of their warped world-view.  I also know that the flag has been and is used by honorable men remembering the sacrifices of their forefathers to home and state.  Indeed the Anti-Defamation League notes on its website: “because of the continued use of the flag by non-extremists, one should not automatically assume that display of the flag is racist or white supremacist in nature.  The symbol should only be judged in context.”  In sum, it is a complex symbol that has to be judged in context.

Regardless of the complexity of certain symbols, however, and the connection of the institution of slavery to the history of the Southern Confederacy, I believe the State of Georgia has a solemn responsibility to honor and defend the selfless service of men like my great-great grandfather.  He was not a slave-owner, and neither was his father.  He responded to a call for help from this state, served with honor, and lost a leg in service to Georgia.  He, while just a boy, responded to Georgia in her moment of need; surely the State of Georgia must continue to honor him, and others like him, who gave life and limb for their home.

We must reject the legacy of slavery and racism that has surely tainted the history of Georgia and the United States.  At the same time, we cannot ignore honor and sacrifice on behalf of this state, even if the cause is not all that it might have been or all that we would wish it to be today.  My great-great grandfather did what this state asked in a moment of crisis; will Georgia today call him a traitor for his service?

I appreciate your service to the State of Georgia, and trust that you will do what you can to ensure that the honor of men like my great-great grandfather doesn’t suffer from this frenzy to demonize everyone and everything associated with the Southern Confederacy.

Very Respectfully,
--------------------------

UPDATED: I thought it might be worthwhile to include the account of my great-great grandfather, as told in the book I cited in my letter.

Here is the account from "Andersonville: The Last Depot," by William Marvel (pgs. 209-210):
"Nor were the prisoners the only victims. Sixteen-year-old Thomas J. Cole joined the 3rd Georgia Reserves during Rousseau's cavalry raid, in July [1864]. He had never wandered far from his father's farm in Butts County, midway between Macon and Atlanta, and shoes had never served as part of his daily wardrobe. He arrived at Andersonville with a pair of brogans on, however, and they irritated an insignificant scratch on his left foot, just below the ankle. The nearest he ever came to the stockade was the sentry box, and he did not approach the prisoners' hospital at all, but, just before the evacuation of prisoners began, his foot turned so sore that he had to be relieved from duty. A week later his comrades carried him from his tent over to Sumter Hospital -- the parallel pair of two-story barracks buildings alongside the railroad. In seven weeks the wound had grown to look like a carbuncle, but ten days in the hospital transformed it into a gaping, putrid lesion four inches in diameter. The flesh dropped away to reveal his ankle joint, his lower leg started to swell and ulcerate, and he wailed piteously whenever the doctors tried to touch it.


Cole would survive, however. He would live into the twentieth century and raise five children, but he would have to sacrifice the leg in order to save the rest of his hide."

Live well!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Feast of Pope St. Pius V

File:El Greco 050.jpg

Today is traditionally the feast of the great 16th century Pontiff and Dominican, Pope St. Pius V (his feast on the reformed calendar is 30 April).  Though his pontificate was of a short duration, only lasting from 1566-1572, it is hard to overestimate his impact and influence on the Church.

St. Pius V was a Dominican and an Inquisitor -- his white cassock has been the choice of the Bishops of Rome since his day.  St. Pius was imbued with the Holy Faith in all its splendor, and made the enforcement of the decrees of the Council of Trent one of the priorities of his pontificate.

St. Pius V is justly famous for his promulgation of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, a revised breviary, and of the Bull Quo Primum, which codified that form of the Holy Mass called "Tridentine."  You can find the full text of that Catechism here: Full text of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, and you can read that Papal Bull here: Full text of QUO PRIMUM

In addition, St. Pius V was a ardent defender of the Faith in the face of both heresy and infidelity.  He would excommunicate Queen Elizabeth I of England (cf., Full text of REGNANS IN EXCELSIS) after her long career of persecution of the Church.  Unfortunately, this rebuke did not win over "Good Queen Bess," but only drove her to a more ardent persecution of the Church.

Thomas Percy Earl of Northumberland 1566.jpg
Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland (+1572AD)

The excommunication came just after the crushing of, and some think was intended to assist, a Catholic rebellion in England: The Rising of the North in 1569, led by, among others, Blessed Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland.  With the failure of the rising, Blessed Thomas fled to Scotland, was arrested, sold back to England and, refusing to renounce his Catholic Faith, was executed in 1572.

For more on this blessed Earl, you should note: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Blessed Thomas Percy


File:Battle of Lepanto 1571.jpg
The Battle of Lepanto (Pintura de la batalla de Lepanto 1571. Óleo sobre lienzo)

In 1570, the Ottoman Turks were on the advance under Sultan Selim II (reigned 1566-1574) – declaring war on the Republic of Venice and attacking the Most Serene Republic's possession of Cyprus.  In September 1570, the Turks took Nicosia in Cyprus, massacring the inhabitants.  They followed this up with the capture of the last Venetian stronghold in Cyprus at Famagusta in Aug 1571 after an 11 month siege.

Pope St. Pius V, to combat the Turkish threat, put together the Holy League, consisting of Spain, Venice, and the Papal States.  It was too late to save Cyprus, but on 7 October 1571, the fleet of the Holy League, under the command of the illegitimate son of Emperor Charles V (+1558), and half-brother of Philip II of Spain, Don Juan of Austria (+1578), met the Turkish fleet.


Don Juan of Austria.


They would meet the Ottomans off the coast of Greece in a grand naval battle: the Battle of Lepanto!  The battle line was five miles long (270 Ottoman vs. 220 Holy League vessels), and this was the last great battle of oared ships in history.  The Ottomans lost 15-20,000 killed to 7,500 Holy League men, with 15,000 Christian slaves freed.  The image of Our Lady of Guadeloupe was actually present at the battle, as was Miguel Cervantes, author of Don Quixote!

File:Battaglia Lepanto in Vaticano.jpg
The Battle of Lepanto, as portrayed in the Vatican Museums.

St. Pius V famously had a vision in Rome of the victory having been won, and informing his advisers of the fact long before word came to the Eternal City.

You should certainly note and read the poem by G. K. Chesterton if you have not already! Full text of Chesterton's Lepanto (1915)



The tomb of Pope St. Pius V in the Sistine Chapel of Santa Maria Maggiore. ("Roma-Santa Maria Maggiore01". Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Roma-Santa_Maria_Maggiore01.jpg#/media/File:Roma-Santa_Maria_Maggiore01.jpg)


In sum, the pontificate of Pope St. Pius V was simply packed with action.  He is now buried in the Roman Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, to the right of the high altar.  You can read about the chapel of his burial, the Sistine Chapel (not the famous one!) here: Official Site of the Sistine Chapel of Santa Maria Maggiore

For more on the life of Pope St. Pius V, you might note:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Pius V

Catholic Saints Info: St. Pius V

Live well!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

150th Anniversary of Lee at Appomattox


Grant and Lee at Appomattox by Tom Lovell.

Happy Easter Thursday!

Today, 9 April, in 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his force, the Army of Northern Virginia, at Appomattox Court House, Virginia to the combined Union armies (Meade's Army of the Potomac & Ord's Army of the James, with Sheridan commanding the cavalry) under the command of General U.S. Grant.

This famous surrender occurred only after Lee's army had retreated from Petersburg, Virginia following the collapse of the siege there on 2 April 1865.  Grant vigorously pursued Lee, with General Sheridan particularly notable for the effectiveness of his pursuit and his timing in preventing Lee from turning his army south to join that of Confederate General Joseph Johnston.



Appomattox Campaign, 2-9 April 1865.  "Appomattox Campaign Overview" Map by Hal Jespersen,www.posix.com/CW. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

On 9 April 1865, at the Battle of Appomattox Court House, Lee instructed General John B Gordon of Georgia to try to break out their position past what they thought were Union lines of only cavalry; this, in hopes of reaching Lynchburg, Virginia.  The appearance of the Union V Corps (and Ord's troops, as well) shattered any hopes of a breakout; with the Union II Corps (with the VI coming up) blocking Longstreet's Corps at New Hope Church to the east, surrender became inevitable.

For more on this battle, you should consult:
NPS Battle Summary: Appomattox Court House, VA

Civil War Home: Appomattox

Civil War Trust: Appomattox Court House

At 3PM, then, on 9 April, Palm Sunday of that year, General Robert E. Lee signed the surrender terms agreed to with General Ulysses Grant in the parlor of the home of Wilmer McLean in Appomattox Court House.  McLean famously moved to Appomattox from Yorkshire in Prince William County where his house had been used during the two Battles of Manassas.

The site of the surrender is commemorated at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, whose official site you can find here:
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

Robert E. Lee issued this final order to his men the following day:
"The Last Order of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army, 
Commanding Army of Northern Virginia.
GENERAL ORDERS No. 9.
HDQRS. ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
April 10, 1865.
        After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources. I need not tell the brave survivors of so many hard-fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them. But, feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.
        By the terms of the agreement officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.
        With an increasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous considerations for myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.
 R. E. LEE, General"

Joshua Chamberlain - Brady-Handy.jpgJbgordon.jpg
Left: Union Gen. J. L. Chamberlain; Right: Confederate Gen. J. B. Gordon

The official stacking of arms and surrender of the army would take place on 12 April, with Union Brigadier General Joshua L. Chamberlain of Maine receiving the capitulation of the Confederate Army from Major General John B. Gordon of Georgia.  Both of those men would go on to be governors of their respective states.

The surrender of Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia marked the collapse of the Confederate war effort and Southern hopes of independence from the United States.  The other Southern military units would rather quickly capitulate (notably that of Joseph Johnston at Durham Station, NC on 26 April 1865), and the difficult period of Reconstruction would soon begin.

As this event, among other things, marks the end of the brilliant and admirable military career of Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), I think it worth pausing a moment to recall the man.

File:Robert E Lee in 1863.png


His father a leader in the American Revolution, "Light Horse" Harry Lee, and his mother a member of the distinguished Carter family of Virginia, Lee certainly had notable bloodlines.

More than this, however, was his own talent and character.  Lee's remarkable military career is well known, with his great victories, such as that at Second Manassas and Chancellorsville.  He was loved by his men, feared and respected by his foes, gracious in victory and humble in defeat.

This speaks to his character.  Lee was a devout Episcopalian, who took his faith, and, in particular, his duties, very seriously.  Indeed, just as duty might be said to partly define what a gentleman is, so it defined Robert E. Lee.  There are any number of stories that attest to his great sense of duty and honor.

It was this sense of duty that caused him to remain loyal to his home state of Virginia with the coming of the war, despite the fact that he was no zealot for secession.  When offered command of the armed forces of the Commonwealth of Virginia, his speech to the Convention at Richmond on 23 April 1861 was brief, but very much in character:
"Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention: Deeply impressed with the solemnity of the occasion on which I appear before you, and profoundly grateful for the honour conferred upon me, I accept the position your partiality has assigned me, though I would greatly have preferred your choice should have fallen on one more capable.  Trusting to Almighty God, an approving conscience, and the aid of my fellow citizens, I will devote myself to the defense and service of my native State, in whose behalf alone would I have ever drawn my sword."

After the war, he would serve as President of Washington College, now Washington & Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, where he is buried.

Here is a short biography of Lee:
Civil War Home: Robert E. Lee

He was born at Stratford Hall, Westmoreland County, Virginia:
Stratford Hall Official Site

He lived for many years with his wife, Mary Anna Randolph Custis, (great-granddaughter of Martha Custis Washington by the first lady's first husband) at the Arlington House, in the county now named for it.  This home is on a magnificent bluff overlooking Washington, DC, and was, of course, seized by the federal government to be used as a cemetery, now Arlington National Cemetery.  The Lee family was later reimbursed for what was determined to be wrongful seizure.  The house itself is now designated as the Robert E. Lee Memorial:
NPS: Arlington House

Finally, Robert E. Lee is buried in the chapel of Washington & Lee University:
W&L Chapel

To close then and return to our own time, here is the Gregorian chant introit for this Easter Thursday, as we continue the celebration of the Easter Octave:


Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia!

Happy Easter!  Live well!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Feast of St. Scholastica, OSB


[Saint Scholastica]

Today is the feast of the great St. Scholastica, the sister of the monastic founder, St. Benedict.  She died, a virgin and foundress of the Benedictine Nuns in 543AD.

St. Scholastica is invoked for good weather, owing to the account of her last visit with her brother, St. Benedict, described thus by Pope St. Gregory I the Great:
"Scholastica, the sister of Saint Benedict, had been consecrated to God from her earliest years. She was accustomed to visiting her brother once a year. He would come down to meet her at a place on the monastery property, not far outside the gate. One day she came as usual and her saintly brother went with some of his disciples; they spent the whole day praising God and talking of sacred things. As night fell they had supper together. Their spiritual conversation went on and the hour grew late. The holy nun said to her brother, “Please do not leave me tonight; let us go on until morning talking about the delights of the spiritual life.” “Sister,” he replied, “What are you saying? I simply cannot stay outside my cell.” When she heard her brother refuse her request, the holy woman joined her hands on the table, laid her head on them and began to pray. As she raised her head from the table, there were such brilliant flashes of lightning, such great peals of thunder and such a heavy downpour of rain that neither Benedict nor his brethren could stir across the threshold of the place where they had been seated. Sadly, he began to complain. “May God forgive you, sister. What have you done?” “Well, she answered, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” So it came about that they stayed awake the whole night, engrossed in their conversation about the spiritual life. Three days later, Benedict was in his cell. Looking up to the sky, he saw his sister’s soul leave her body in the form of a dove, and fly up to the secret places of heaven. Rejoicing in her great glory, he thanked almighty God with hymns and words of praise. He then sent his brethren to bring her body to the monastery and lay it in the tomb he had prepared for himself."

She is, today, buried in the great Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino along with St. Benedict.  You can visit their site here: Monte Cassino Monastery, Italy

For more:
Patron Saints Index: St. Scholastica

Live well!