Category Archives: Martyrdom

John 11: 50

 

Here is a letter I have written to Fr. Robert Shanley, President of Providence College, and who is currently presidentially presiding over the very dignified and collegial lynching of a great scholar, a devout Catholic defender of the Truth, and a good and decent man.  I imagine him in his robes of office: aloof, yes, compassionate, of course, aware of all the necessary facts, without question, and deeply concerned for the lives, and souls and the, well, the reputations about to be supported or sacrificed for the greater good of the school and benefit of all mankind.  It is what presidents do…when not playing golf or hosting benefactors, delivering speeches and looking magisterial and compassionate, wise and consoling, boundlessly merciful and intuitively practical; when being, in a word, godly:

 

Rev Robert Shanley, O.P.

President

Providence College

1 Cunningham Square

Providence, RI 02918 USA

 

Dear Father Shanley,

You have been described to me by people better informed than I am as a philosopher, an art of which I have only a passing knowledge.  And as a priest, and a Dominican at that, I am reasonably sure that you are more than well versed in Catholic theology. Indulge me in a little bit of my own background, stories from my youth about philosophy and theology.

Father Anthony Rubsys, who went to Heaven, I am sure, in August, 2002, was a refugee from Communism who came to America during the Hungarian uprising.  He was a biblical scholar fluent in seven languages, a good and gentle, a loving, man.  He taught me in class and counseled me out of it.  He was extremely intelligent, extremely gentle and deeply concerned for The Good.  Why else not, I have often wondered while thinking about and praying for him; a man who saw and suffered much, all of it the result of when and where he lived before coming to this country, through the horrors of Nazism and the Second World War and the soul sickening weight of post-war Communist rule.

As an assignment in one of his classes, I wrote a paper on Thus Spake Zarathustra.  I was taken then with the Strauss tone poem, and stupid student stuff.  So I wrote the paper and handed it in.  Several days later Father Rubsys returned it with this note in his handwriting above my title, which was something like Superman, “Why do you waste your time on this when the faith has so much more to offer, to study?”  I cannot remember much beyond the title of the thing I wrote about. Nor can I remember much about the music, except what bit of it opens that film by Stanley Kubrick.  Few, I suspect, will remember much about it, if anything at all in another hundred or so years.  Almost no one knows the film’s music’s title.

Harry Blair was a much decorated World War II veteran, a tank commander in Gen. Patton’s Third Army, a tragic man, and a Shakespeare and Renaissance scholar.  I took every class of his that I could and got to know him very well.  He drank too much; but, I suppose, he had every reason to do that.  When he taught King Lear his classroom was filled beyond capacity. His rendering of the King’s speech in the storm on the moor brought more than one student to tears, myself included, as we listened to an old man pour out his grief at having given his life to his children and been misunderstood, spurned, betrayed, cast away.

I once had a letter published in the school’s newspaper…the editor was a friend of mine…and Harry read it, of course.  The letter called for the “aggiornamento” underway in Rome to be extended and applied at the school, for there to be a radical change in, well, just about everything.  I remember I called not only for windows to be opened but walls to be demolished and ended with “I would have no church at all!”  Brave words, I have thought more than once since.  Brave words for the inferno we face, now.  We sat together, Harry and I at the bar in the Pinewood drinking an afternoon beer and he showed me the issue of the paper with my letter, quietly asking me what had possessed me to write it.  Seriously I answered at length about all of the things I saw that were wrong and needed changing.  “You are very young,” he answered, and then we went on to talk of other things, though I do recall him wondering aloud about the lady I was soon to marry and asking how she felt, how I might feel when I was a father.  But, there he left it.

Bear with me, please, Father.  I do have a point.

There is no doubt that Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a philosopher like yourself, and a great and good man.  Were he a Catholic, I suppose his cause would already have been introduced.  In many ways he was a martyr for the truth, and a lover of the beautiful in people, in society and in all of creation; even when found in the Gulag, anterooms to hell built and maintained by hell’s servants here on earth.  Maybe that’s overly dramatic, but, nevertheless…  Joseph Pearce, who wrote an excellent biography of Solzhenitsyn, has written his own story, and a fascinating one it is.  He calls it Race With the Devil, and discusses his descent into violent racism and hate, and ascent from it through the grace of God.  Indulge me in a quote from Pearce’s book:

“My descent into delinquency was aided and abetted by the progressive philosophy adopted by the school. No effort was made to impose discipline, which resulted in the triumph of anarchy in the classroom… (The) disruptive elements made it difficult, if not impossible, for teachers to teach and for students to learn.”

I apologize for the size of the quote.  I cannot figure out how to change the font. Nevertheless, it’s the sad truth and the tragic cause of the matter at hand, and the inevitable result of the choice in this matter (and in how many others?) you and the faculty quislings who brought this complaint against Professor Esolen to you seem, for all of your wisdom, training, education and Catholicity, to have made.  That the “death” of one man is necessary.

And, I cannot understand why you did what you did; a great disservice to the students , confirming them in their stupid and uncharitable,  selfish and infantile behavior…at the same time causing pain, anxiety and worry to not only this good man and his family, but thousands of other people who have never yet met the man face to face but know and treasure him through his prolific good works, his brilliantly clear and consistently charitable mind, and his reliably masterful scholarship.

You are a priest and pastor, too, finally much more important callings than mere president.  Have you acted in this instance as either one?

I expect that  Caiaphas was thought a wise and good man, a president, so to speak, who gave no help when help was needed.  And, of course, we all know what to think of Pontius Pilate, who simply gave up before the angry mob.

Which of the two should one say best describes you in this matter?

Yours truly,

Peter Gallaher

PS:  I only know of one other person named Shanley, a fellow I came across many years ago when I was working.  He was a Wormtongue, covert slave to Saruman.  In other words a coward and a traitor.

 

 

Today, April 24, 2016

P1010740

A Ruined Augustinian Monastery in Cashel, Ireland Destroyed by Cromwell

 

It is a cool afternoon here by the river; a steady wind from the north has been blowing downstream since mid-afternoon yesterday, and I wonder why everything here isn’t somewhere on Cape Cod.  It’s a bit late in the day to be doing this, but when one has to be at Mass long before Mass begins because you need practice, well, things get put aside.  Now, the time seems to be good for this little exercise.  I’ve finished lunch, folded the wash, actually two washes, and conducted a fruitless search (again) for something I’ll need for a trip we are taking in June.

There’s only this, and, maybe, a nap.

Spring has made itself seen and felt around here with usual brightness of day, softness of showers and sound of courting birds for the past week or so.  We await the first tulips blooming in our little plot out back.  Yesterday afternoon I listened to a lonesome cardinal  in a nearby tree calling someone, anyone, in his cardinal world to come and make his life complete.  There were at least a dozen other cardinals in trees on both sides of the river with the same idea.  Poor guy, he sang his heart out, and got nothing for the effort.  He won’t give up, though.  I admired his persistence and his pluck, and hoped the best for him and his bachelor buddies.  There are no cardinal monasteries they can enter.  There’s no vocations to celibacy for them to follow.  Nature bound, they must find a mate and obey.  Nor can they will to do anything else, like deciding they identify as something, anything other than a lonesome male cardinal, or running away with the fellow one tree over.

Above them all yesterday, high against the clouds two hawks slid effortlessly down the wind and back again for at least twenty minutes.  Cloud coasters, sky surfers, catching the invisible air waves; I watched them and thought of angels and Icarus.

It’s too wind washed today though, both sky and nearby trees, for a lonely gang of cardinals or a lazy pair of hawks.


It’s quiet in this room.  All I hear is the clock on the wall, and all I see in the afternoon sunlight are the crab-apple branches shying from the wind and a chickadee or two  darting into the azalea bush before dashing to the feeder just outside the front door.

It was a century ago this day in Dublin when the Easter Rising against British Rule took place.  The “lads” all met a swift end in the Post Office, or a few days later against a wall.  I saw the marks the British bullets made and put my fingers into the holes.  It was Easter Sunday, a century ago.  My father was just “gone” three, with his mother and father in New York City, and I wonder what those two thought might be coming for their families home  if the British got their blood up over it all.  There was Dick Fanning, my grand-uncle who fled his mother’s house, and up and over hills to hide in Kilkenny.  And all I knew of him I first learned watching his sister pray for him when I was little.

But, then, perhaps the Sassenach invader couldn’t devote too much thought to it all, caught up as they were in the slaughterhouse across the channel in France, and a crumbling empire.

The only things I know about that day a century ago I learned in the songs we all sang when I was younger; songs of the long years of trying in the sad and often desperate tunes of wild colonial boys, rattling Thompson guns, orders from the captain to get ready quick and soon, the sad fields of Athenry and the hope behind it all; that Ireland once again a nation be.

It isn’t, yet, after eight hundred years.  They got most of it, to be sure, to call their own again.  And the rest?  Someday, God willing, the four green fields will together bloom.


What took place in Ireland then was preceded by a greater horror only a year before, the great murder of Christian Armenia by the Muslim Turks, the the decaying remains of the Ottoman Empire built on the corpse of Byzantium.  Until today I hadn’t known the two events were only a year separated, and I’m walking around wondering at the woe both people suffered; only for the Armenians much more horrible for its scope and swift brutality, I suppose, at the hands of the Turks than the long woe of Ireland under the British yoke.  It was thousands, perhaps a hundred or two thousand transported away from home by the British over a few centuries, and four million starved to death in the Great Hunger, while beef and pork and poultry and corn and all the great produce of the small green land went across the Irish Sea to feed the landlords, and the farmers ate grass and watched their wives and children die..

But for centuries the Armenian people, the first Christian nation, suffered slavery and worse at the hands of their Muslim overlords until the effort to do away with them completely began with the arrest and imprisonment of several hundred scholars, and spread with enslavement, rape, crucifixions, death marches and slaughter.  Spread in a word with all of the honored cruel methods of population control used for so long in the Middle East.

Not much has changed.  It happens today.


Today is the feast of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, a town in Germany.  He became a martyr in Switzerland where he had gone to preach.  He once wrote: “What is it that today makes true followers of Christ cast luxuries aside, leave pleasures behind, and endure difficulties and pain? It is living faith that expresses itself through love.”

Think of him when next you hear of some Christian being castigated for telling the truth about their faith, for “casting aside” the luxury of silence before error, or worse being martyred for being a Christian.

The Fields of Athenry is a song about a young man sent away from his family because he tried to feed them: The Fields of Athenry 

This is a song from Armenia.  I don’t know the words, but you can guess, and I do not think you’ll be wrong:  Armenian Song

 

Do Ya Think?

Yesterday I read a short article in a British paper: The Telegraph.  The article was a report on a study conducted on the life, and the prospects for life, of Christianity in the Middle East.  Those few of you still familiar with the word, Christianity, comfortable in its presence, inclined to use it favorably and with some affection and loving attachment will know what I have reference to.  For the growing majority of people whose understanding of and connection with the word and its meaning is arguably much less than their knowledge of the leading actors in The Walking Dead or the line on next week’s NFL games let me try to place it for you; to contextualize it.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day.  You will immediately see there is a similarity between the words Christianity and Christmas.  I will not belabor the thing, but simply point out that the first syllable is, itself, a word: Christ.  And the word signifies a man.  Tomorrow is, despite the amazing amount of evidence to the contrary, the celebration of the birthday of that man, the annual observance of that event by the dwindling few who happen to believe in the man and the stories told about him; what he said and did.  Simply put that is the astounding fact that Christ is at one and the same time God incarnate and the savior of the World and a man “born in time, born of a virgin.”  No, I mean it, really.  (Actually His name is Jesus, and Christ is, more or less, a title.)  I happily count myself among the remnant who think this way about Jesus Christ; that He is truly God and truly Man.  And, that is just the beginning of the amazing facts about Him.  But, let us not get ourselves involved in that.

For those who know it is not necessary to do so; for the rest, they will be made aware sooner of later, here or there.

The prognosis is not good.  That is, the prognosis for Christianity, that system of beliefs and practice, that way of living that grew from the testimony of some few people who knew and lived with this man Jesus about what he did and said so many years ago in Palestine, in the Middle East.  It is dying, they say in The Telegraph; dying in the place where it was born and where it has lived longest.  The prognosis for the “rest” I have reference to above; that they will be made aware of certain “amazing facts” at some time is certain: they will.

The study reported on in The Telegraph did provide a cause for the imminent demise of Christianity in its homeland, may it rest in peace.  Militant Islam (MI) is infecting Christianity in the Middle East, and the disease, so says the article, is likely to cause its quick death.  “Sic transit gloria coeli et terra” to corrupt a phrase.

How is this being accomplished, and how, better yet, is it so being done right under the eagle eyes of our many media snoops?  Does no one have any idea except some old rag in Blighty? And, finally, why have not those in powerful places and positions, guardians of freedoms, protectors of widows and orphans, weak and underprivileged the world over raised even an eyebrow at this rather depressing (to say the least) bit of news?  Well, I have my ideas about who might have gathered a rumor here and there, and why they haven’t whispered a word, but then, I am a suspicious type.  I’ll leave it to more rational folks to explain why the imminent death of Christianity in the land of its birth means simply nothing here in the West which owes simply everything to it.

What interests me, just as much, is this little fact; call it a sidebar.  It, too, will never appear anywhere soon.  Maybe it is simply too boring?  That fact is this: 150,000 Christians a year are killed for being Christians.  What, some editor might reasonably ponder is newsworthy about that, or a burnt village in Africa when compared to Our Dear Leader bodysurfing in Hawaii?  Many, many more are imprisoned without trial, little girls raped, women raped, churches blown up or burned to the ground, homes burned, villages burned, neighborhoods attacked by armed fanatics and , well, sad to say, more schoolchildren, murdered in Muslim countries simply because they are Christian than are murdered by our own madmen.  Again, one wonders about the silence, the the lack of interest.

Tertullian was an early Christian Father, a theologian whose work helped form what was becoming Christianity.  He was from Carthage, part of the Middle Eastern world where Christianity is now dying of that disease called MI, also known to be fatal to Ambassadors and people in tall buildings in places like New York City.  Among other things he is famous for having said is this, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.”  Now that might scare a good atheist or modern day secularist in a corner office somewhere.

And now, before I leave you to turn on your Santa Claus lights, your reindeer with their red noses, your Frosty the Snowmen in their hats, to fill your living rooms with wrapping paper and your bellies with rich foods and rare vintages, and to taste deeply all of the other signs of our winter holiday, may I ask you to wonder this.  Will there be more to mourn over the death of the last winged cardinal at your feeder or the death of the last Christian once from some place west of the Indus and east of Eden?  I do not think so, because you will not know.  Few are those in any position to let you know who hazard saying a word about it.  Fewer still are those who think anything should be done.  Many, I suspect rather hope that nothing will be done.  Ever.

We are being flooded with the blood and the bodies of the dying victims of militant Islam as the story in The Telegraph has it.  The dead are the seed.  The raped and beaten and dispossessed are the soil, the field and the planting where will grow anew the the fruit of their sacrifice.  It has suddenly occurred to me that “they” are afraid of what this way comes when , some day, the once and future Christianity appears.  I can think of no other reason for such a black curtain over this news, a holocaust across a third of the world.  As Special Agent Gibbs often says, “Do ya think?”

Merry Christmas!

What Are You UPTA? Who Cares!

So it’s official.  The White Hose says that thing in Libya was not a bunch of guys who were partying.  It was a terrorist attack.  I read it in a story from CNN.  CNN and MSNBC electronically and the New York Times in print are to the current Administration what Pravda was to the Kremlin, wholly owned subsidiaries.  You read something there about anything those guys do and you can take it to the bank.  Anyway, the CNN story is about that the attack on the Untied States in Libya was a terrorist attack.  But, it was an unplanned terrorist attack.  This is something new, an ominous and foreboding change in tactics, unplanned attacks.  But, it is also a good thing. As long as the terrorists are launching unplanned attacks, there is no use in trying to find out what they are doing.  The terrorists don’t even know.

So when an UPTA happens, we can legitimately say , “Gosh!  We had no idea.”  And, if someone, say a drunk in a bar on Third Avenue, happened to mutter something about the crazy Muslims, we can as well point to the drunk as the cause for all of those embassies being burned to the ground, and avoid having to suffer any criticism for being clueless idiots ourselves.

In addition, there is no need wasting time, money and manpower building up a muscle bound security staff.  In fact, if the UPTF (the Unplanned Terrorist Front) decides not to plan another raid somewhere where there isn’t anybody awake or watching, we can legitimately say their barbaric murderous insanity will not provoke us since no one was home, err, figuratively speaking.  And, since nothing really was lost, our apology for being the victims , here, will not make us look like any bigger fools than we really are.

That probably means that our apologies will not have to be withdrawn, which is a good thing.  When a country goes back on an apology everyone will start to think they are getting ready for a fight.  But if we don’t know who punched us, or why, what’s the good of fighting back.  Better just to say you’re sorry somebody got upset at something and promise it won’t happen again.

Oh, you don’t believe it was a UPTA?  (That’s Washington for Unplanned Terrorist Attack.) Well the folks who should know said it was and that’s enough for me.  Here’s what this guy Carney said:

“It is a fact that there are in post-revolution, post-war Libya armed groups, there are bad actors, hostile to the government, hostile to the West, hostile to the United States and as has been the case in other countries in the region, it is certainly conceivable that these groups take advantage of and exploit situations that develop when they develop to protest against or attack either westerners, Americans, western sites or American sites.”

Not only are they Unplanned Terrorists, but they are also Bad Actors.  That is why the video of some of the unplanned terrorists dragging this dead guy, our recently living former Ambassador to Libya around and screaming “Allahu Akbar.” fools no one when they say they are taking him to the hospital.  What they are doing, really, is dragging him around so they can show everyone how their not-plan worked like a charm.

I have been given a transcript of a cell phone conversation between two members of the UTF (Unplanned Terrorist Front) in Libya.  The boys are ginning up a scheme to kill someone.  Here is my rough translation leaving out all of the profanity and references to sexual prowess, which figures hugely in conversations between terrorists, when they are not talking about murder and eating:

Terrorist 1:  Hello, Uday?”

Terrorist 2:  This is me.  Is this you Jamil?

T1:  It is but I cannot tell you it is.  Someone may be listening.

T2:  That is good.  This isn’t me, either.  For the purposes of this conversation I am The Blood of Hero Martyrs for Ultimate Death to All U.S. People.

T1:   Great name.  Did you think that up by yourself or did someone suggest it?

T2:   I got it from the last issue of Super Jihadist, the one where he kills everything in Europe but the sheep.

T1:  I like that one.  I have every issue of SJ.

T2:  Do not say that, SJ.  Those are the initials of the infidel Jesuits who slaughter Muslim babies and serve them to Catholics at their Christmas.  I can’t wait to kill Jesuits.  That is why I have decided I will go to America to study medicine at Georgetown and kill Jesuits.

T1:  Well, forgive me.  Anyway I called to ask if you are busy tonight.

T2:  Yes, I am.  I am taking my younger brother Abdrule out to rape Christian girls.  It is his first time.

T1:  Ordinarily Blood, I may call you Blood?

T2:  Yes,of course.

Ti:  As I said, ordinarily I would love to join you in helping the faith grow among the infidels, but haven’t you realized that there are no more Christian girls in town?  They have all been raped and become good wives to our Brothers, or they have died by our cleansing swords and knives and guns and RPGs.

T2:  I knew that.  I was going to take him over to Hamid’s sheep herd to practice his technique.  Next week we’re borrowing my uncle’s armored troop carrier for a trip over to Egypt to go raping.

T1:  That can wait.  I have something which is much more important for the spread of the Umma.

T2:  W hat can be more important than bringing into our faith converts who can give us many sons for jihad?

T1:  Well, you have a point. But tonight you must suppress your zeal to convert young girls and join us for an evening of jihad of another kind.  Do you still have your Kalashnikov and enough ammunition for an evening’s, umm, evangelization among the infidels?

T2:  Of course.  I have it along with five large knives for mutilating corpses, one hundred feet of cord for hangings and crucifixions, three rpg’s and some pickling spices , and a blow torch for burning holy names on the bodies of infidels.

T1:  Pickling spices?  No, I won’t ask.  Boy you guys from Abbadabbabad are weird.

T2:  Whatever.  Ok.  Anyway, what and where and how much?

Ti:   I’ll be by with some of the other fellows, The Mostly Cruel Brothers of the Heroic Martyrs of April 5th Brigade, and a few guys from The Vicious and Bloodthirsty Vengeance of the Powers of Heaven on all Infidels Social Club at about 7:00pm.  We’ll all be in Akphoom’s pickup, you know the one he was married in, the one with the 50 caliber machine gun that blew away half of his third wife during the reception.
T2: Yeah, what a laugh.  Her head exploded like a watermelon.  Cool thing was he still kept the goats.  Anyway, what’s going down, or blowing up…which is always more interesting?

T1.  No one’s too sure right now.  But it’s gonna be a lot of fun.  There isn’t much left, really, so we might do two or three places; a couple of churches, and that hospital, and the Ecuadoran Embassy.

T2.  Ecuador?  Why Ecuador?

T1.  It’s the only one still standing.

T2.  Well, let me get something to eat.  My brother will be disappointed, you know.  He’s already 12 and he hasn’t raped a Christian girl yet.  Dammit, I kinda wish we hadn’t burnt down that school and machine gunned all of them when they came running out.

T1:  Who knew? You know I was eight when I started raping.  It was a target rich environment then.  Anyway, bring the kid along.  He can work the blow torch.  We’ll be there in about an hour.

T2.  OK, don’t be late.  I gotta take an exam tomorrow and I haven’t cracked a book yet.