Monday, April 26, 2010

How to Overturn Obama'care

In 1450, the resistance movement that had been led by Joan of Arc became once again a live issue for all France, when Rouen, the city of her bogus trial for heresy, was liberated by French forces. A re-examination of Joan's trial, which would ultimately lead to her complete exoneration, was undertaken. The process of Joan's retrial and exoneration—which was a public process that engaged the entire population of France—created the preconditions for the founding of the modern French nation under Louis XI.

On February 15, 1450, Charles VII requested that the Canon of Rouen Cathedral report what occurred during the trial. An initial inquiry was held in March, and witnesses were heard. The process of Papal examination of the legal travesty of Joan's trial was begun in 1451, when Pope Nicholas V sent the Papal legate Guillaume d'Estouville to seek peace in France after a renewed English invasion in March of 1450.

D'Estouville conferred with the King in February of 1452, and arrived in Rouen in April. On May 2 the first official Church inquiry was opened. Further inquiries quickly followed, and the decision for a complete review of the entire trial proceedings was reached by July, with the newly appointed French Inquisitor Jean Bréhal was ordered to review all the records and summon the appropriate expert panels. D'Estouville was made Archbishop of Rouen in April of 1453, but the process of retrial was slowed by the shock felt throughout Europe with the fall of Constantinople to the Turks on May 29.

On June 11, 1455, Pope Calixtus, in office a mere two months, accepted a petition from Joan's mother for a full Papal exoneration. Hearings were held all over France, at Notre Dame of Paris in November of 1455, in Rouen in December, in January and February of 1456 in Domremy, Joan's birthplace, and Vaucouleurs, where she initially presented her mission to the local military commmand. Inquiries were resumed in Rouen, Orléans, and Paris from February 16 through March 16, where nobles, churchmen, and common laborers were all called before the Church to testify about what they knew of Joan and of the accusations raised at the 1431 trial. Throughout May, churches throughout France were plastered with posters calling for any witnesses to come forward.

By June 2 of 1456, all evidence had been officially accepted by the Church court, and on June 24 notices were posted on churches in Rouen asking for objections. The official verdict was rendered on July 7. Joan was officially exonerated. The town of Orléans declared July 27 an official holiday to celebrate.

The exoneration of Joan of Arc is an extraordinary example of how a popular uprising led to the overturning of a judicial travesty and created the basis for establishing a nation committed to a higher, universal concept of justice, as Louis XI eloquently outlines in his Rosebush of War.

Never underestimate the power of the people. If, and when, WE THE PEOPLE decide to take back our nation from the unfettered expansion of big government and its intrusive policies; from the dictates of unprincipled men and women who choose to ram their agendas down our throats without the consent of the governed, no man, no, weapon, no institution will be able to stand in our way.  

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Long Before Hitler

In their attempt to explain the widespread horrors of the Black Death, medieval Christian communities looked for scapegoats. As at the time of the crusades, the Jews were blamed for poisoning wells and hence spreading the plague. This selection by a contemporary chronicler, written in 1349, gives an account of how Christians in the town of Strasbourg in the Holy Roman Empire dealt with their Jewish community. It is apparent that financial gain was also an important factor in killing the Jews.

The following is from Jacob von Konigshofen, "The Cremation of the Strasbourg Jews."
In the year 1349 there occurred the greatest epidemic that ever happened. Death went from one end of the earth to the other.... And from what this epidemic came, all wise teachers and physicians could only say that it was God's will.... This epidemic also came to Strasbourg in the summer of the above mentioned year, and it is estimated that about sixteen thousand people died.

In the matter of this plague the Jews throughout the world were reviled and accused in all lands of having caused it through the poison which they are said to have put into the water and the wells that is what they were accused of and for this reason the Jews were burnt all the way from the Mediterranean into Germany....

[The account then goes on to discuss the situation of the Jews in the city of Strasbourg.]

On Saturday . . . they burnt the Jews on a wooden platform in their cemetery. There were about two thousand people of them. Those who wanted to baptize themselves were spared. [Some say that about a thousand accepted baptism.] Many small children were taken out of the fire and baptized against the will of their fathers and mothers. And everything that was owed to the Jews was cancelled, and the Jews had to surrender all pledges and notes that they had taken for debts. The council, however, took the cash that the Jews possessed and divided it among the working-men proportionately. The money was indeed the thing that killed the Jews. If they had been poor and if the feudal lords had not been in debt to them, they would not have been burnt....

Thus were the Jews burnt at Strasbourg, and in the same year in all the cities of the Rhine, whether Free Cities or Imperial Cities or cities belonging to the lords. In some towns they burnt the Jews after a trial, in others, without a trial. In some cities the Jews themselves set fire to their houses and cremated them selves.

It was decided in Strasbourg that no Jew should enter the city for a hundred years, but before twenty years had passed, the council and magistrates agreed that they ought to admit the Jews again into the city for twenty years. And so the Jews came back again to Strasbourg in the year 1368 after the birth of our Lord.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Devotio Moderna

The Crucifixion Scene from Matthias Grunewald's "Isenheim Altarpiece." The altarpiece was painted during the second decade of the C16th for the chapel of the Order of St. Anthony at Isenheim, the monastic house of which was a hospital run by the monks. In one of the most horrifying depictions of the Crucifixion in Western art, Grunewald addresses the agonies of the terminally ill by incorporating them within the sufferings of Christ and, therefore, within the divine order of Fall and grace. When opened, the Altarpiece reveals scenes of annunciation, Christ child, and Resurrection (view shown left) The themes of sickness, sin, death, and healing are continued here as elements of memento mori meditation are included within the picture. Thus a green, demonic figure appears behind the head of the cello-playing angel and, in counter-point, the infant Jesus has just been bathed (a symbol of baptism), is wrapped in cloth that recalls the Crucifixion scene, and plays with a string of prayer beads interspersed with fragments of coral (a symbol of Christ's blood). The violent pitiableness of Christ's sufferings express a devotional interest found also in the Devotio Moderna. 

Devotio Moderna ("modern devotion") refers to a movement for the renewal of the spiritual life that began in Holland during the late C14th and was influential in Germany, France, and parts of Italy. Both Catholic and Protestant reform initiatives reflect the influence of theological emphases found in the Devotio Moderna. These include an appeal to the original simplicity of Christian faith in a "golden age" now evidently lost; a call to clergy for a truly holy life; a valuing of the interior life with a corresponding lack of stress on the Church's institutionalized aids to salvation; criticism of formalized acts of piety together with any naive reliance on the external aspects of religion; an insistence that the knowledge of God lay open to scholar and illiterate peasant alike; a soteriological urgency in the face of both human sinfulness and the ubiquitous reality of death; intense and emotional meditation to the suffering of Christ; an interpretation of the Eucharist that stresses the sacrament as mediator of an intimate relationship with Christ. You should be able to spot roots of these features in both Augustine and Bernard of Clairvaux, and also their influence on Erasmus.

The classic text of the movement is St. Thomas a Kempis' The Imitation of Christ, but the principal founder of the movement was Geert de Groote (1340-84). Groote - who was never ordained priest - became a missionary preacher in the diocese of Utrecht but had his license withdrawn because of the vehemence of his criticisms of ecclesiastical abuses. The Devotio Moderna was successful amongst laity and found institutional expression in the Brethren of the Common Life: associations of laity and non-monastic priests who were called to practice a disciplined life within their existing callings. The monastic form of the movement was found principally amongst the Windesheim Canons, a community founded in 1387 under the direction of Florentius Radewijns.

from Noteworthy Sayings of Master Geert
A man ought never to become anxious over any worldly thing. He who acts upon what he knows deserves to know much more, and he who does not act even upon what he knows deserves to become blinder still.
It is a great thing when a man proves obedient in matters that are contrary and difficult: This is true obedience.

In all things and before all people, seek to humble yourself, especially in the heart but also outwardly before the brothers.

It is the highest of all learning to know that one knows nothing. 

The more a man perceives how far short he is of perfection, the closer he is to it.

The beginning of vainglory is to please one's self.

A man never stands better revealed than when he receives praise.

Seek ever to observe and conceive something good about another.

So often as we inordinately desire something beyond God himself, we become unfaithful fornicators, whence the Prophet says: It is good for me to cling to God.

We ought to be vigorous in prayer and not easily brought to a halt. Nor should we imagine that God does not want to hear us; rather, even when we feel put off, we should not despair. The weak-spirited Temptation lurks in everything in this world, even if a man does not perceive it.

The greatest temptation is not to be tempted: When a man discovers in himself something that needs to be cut off, then he is in good standing. When an evil suggestion comes upon you, think what you would ask your companions, and then the devil will stand confused.

Always put more hope in eternal glory than fear in hell.

Let every person beware lest his behavior scandalize others, and so let him study to correct his ways and to conduct himself uprightly everywhere that others may be edified.

With whatever thoughts a man goes to sleep, he will also rise, so it is useful to pray and to read a few psalms on retiring.

Moderate confusion suffered here forestalls eternal confusion before God and all the saints.

Study to please and to fear him alone who truly knows you and all that you are.

Suppose you were to please all and displease God; to what end? Turn your heart therefore away from all creaturely things, even with great force. Turn it so that you may perfectly vanquish yourself, and raise your heart ever on high to God, as the Prophet says: "My eyes are ever upon the Lord" (Ps 122:2).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Women in Medieval Thought Not Created in the Image of God

Whether a nun or wife of an aristocrat, townsman, or peasant, a woman in the Middle Ages was considered inferior to a man and by nature subject to a man's authority. Although there are a number of examples of strong women who flew in the face of such an attitude, church teachings also reinforced these notions. These two selections are from Gratian, the twelfth-century jurist who wrote the first systematic work on canon law, and Thomas Aquinas, the well-known scholastic theologian of the thirteenth century.

Gratian writes in Decretum,
The image of God is in man and it is one. Women were drawn from man, who has God's jurisdiction as if he were God's vicar, because he has the image of the one God. Therefore woman is not made in God's image.
In his Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas says,
As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence....
The image of God, in its principal signification, namely the intellectual nature, is found both in man and in woman. Hence after the words, "To the image of God He created him," it is added, "Male and female He created them." Moreover it is said "them" in the plural ... lest it should be thought that both sexes were united in one individual. But in a secondary sense the image of God is found in man, and not in woman: for man is the beginning and end of woman; as God is the beginning and end of every creature. (italics added)
We can be glad that Christ had a higher view of women. Both men and women are created in God's image.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Gen. 1:27, italics added).