Immaculate Conception

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th.

Immaculate Conception by Murrillo

Immaculate Conception by Murrillo

Bartolome Esteban Murillo painted several versions of The Immaculate Conception–I like this one the best.

The United States Bishops consecrated the nation to the Immaculate Conception in 1954.

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Domenico Piola, Genoa

Piola fills his painting with the salvation story: The sinless daughter, crowned  by God the Father with stars as Queen of the Universe;  Eve, with the apple of temptation, is overshadowed Mary, full of grave; Satan defeated by the cross of Christ’s crucifixion.

Tiepolo’s enigmatic Immaculate Conception is a favorite, the expression seems to communicate an intense awareness of the sorrow and joy to come–and the solemnity of the eternal significance.

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She stands on the earth crushing the dragon, the lily of purity carried by her angel…

Jose Ribera’s grand and flourished Virgin foreshadows her title Mother of the Church, as she stands above the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Next, El Greco’s depiction of the Immaculate Conception:

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In Martino Altomonte painting, the action of conception takes place in the heavens, Mary, free of original sin,  stands upon the earth, crushing the head of the dragon and the apple of temptation, his tail entwines the world.

Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez:The Immaculate Conception c. 1618

Velasquez’ Virgin stands in dark endless cosmos…on a rising moon, crowned with stars, her presence illumines the world that awaits her intercession.

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Zurbaran’s Immaculate Conception crushes the dragon-headed snake with its sin-poisoned apple.

Catechism of the Catholic Church,# 492:  The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son.” The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love.”

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What’s the Message? Reflection on the Lost Election

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Let us set aside the debate about any Republican tactical missteps or the general question of Nice Guy against Street Fighter.

More profitable for Catholics may be the reflection on what it means that 50% of us–our nation– are willing to sacrifice economic stability in order to insure liberal social mores. Exit polls indicate a majority of voters listed the economy at the top of their worry list, yet, still preferred Obama to Romney. Their reasons essentially came to this: Women’s rights, same-sex unions, and “fairness” by which most mean income redistribution.

Here is a clip from the oh-so-erudite New Yorker Magazine:


Nearly as pleasing as Obama’s surprisingly easy reëlection—and, to me at least, rather more surprising—was the electorate’s nearly across-the-board embrace of cultural and social liberalism and, implicitly, of secularism… In Maine, Maryland, and Washington, for the first time anywhere, initiatives to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples were on the ballot. All three passed—a gigantic breakthrough. In a fourth state, Minnesota, voters rejected a ban on gay marriage. This had never happened before, either; what had happened before, thirty-two times, was that such bans were approved, sometimes overwhelmingly. The pro-equality majorities this time were small, between fifty-one and fifty-three per cent, but they were unprecedented. The change is stunning. It’s epochal. And it shows signs of being permanent.

Author Hertzberg  is effusive–the victory is a “gigantic breakthrough” and “the change is stunning…epochal”

………………I fear he is correct.   Notice–it was NOT about the economy for them.  The Republicans utterly missed that.  No, Democrats understood that Obama is wrecking the economy but they did not care. Simply stated, for many of them the compelling  issue is the culture war.   And it should have been for us too–the nation is so divided, now, that a even the hemorrhaging economy is tolerable, but Christian values are not.

The bishops begin their November deliberations on Monday, and “what do we do now?” is the subtext of every agenda item.  What we may need is a blueprint for charitable but firm civil disobedience.

Link to upcoming USSCB meeting http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-156.cfm

 

******** some have emailed to ask where they may find my article from 2008 0n Obama and Saul Alinsky. Here is a link to “The Other Side of Change:”

http://www.catholicity.com/commentary/mjanderson/04417.html

More past articles can be found here http://www.catholicity.com/commentary/mjanderson/

Book of Hours

Few people keep Easter as the octave that it is.  Simply, we should celebrate for the full eight days, from Easter Sunday through the Sunday we now celebrate as Divine Mercy Sunday.

Some years ago one of my sisters sent me a lovely small book published by the British publisher, Phaidon Press Limited. Its title is Descent. It is described as “An intimate survey of images of the Descent from the Cross.”  The book is perhaps 5″ by 6″ and thus fits in one’s hands easily. There are two others in the series, Annunciation, and Crucifixion.

I mention this set of books because for me they offer a very personal means of meditation and –somehow–a sense of the whole Christian community that has “kept Easter” for 201o years.  These volumes are reminders of the imagery that our forebears in the faith found compelling.

All of this puts me in mind of the Book of Hours.  According to the Frick Fine Arts Library,

“From the large number still surviving, we know that the Book of Hours was the most popular book of the Middle Ages. Books of Hours were produced throughout Europe, but were especially popular in France and Flanders. These manuscripts were modelled on the Breviary used by the clergy, but in a shortened form and were used by the laity for their daily devotions. The core of the Book of Hours is the Hours of the Virgin divided into eight parts to be said at different times or hours of the day. The eight “hours” of prayer are matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, vespers and compline. Several other prayers and texts accompany the Hours of the Virgin.”

The illuminations from some of the more famous Book of Hours are breathtaking in their beauty, content and sense of Divine Order.  And the  colors! How exquisite– particularly the intense blue derived from ground lapis lazuli.

Of course, in a book of hours, the  illuminations are not limited to Easter themes, but depict the lives of the saints, the liturgical seasons, great feast days and even local life including the harvest or a wedding–again underscoring the Medieval worldview that all human endeavors can and should be sanctified.

Here is an endearing image of St. Francis and St. Clare preaching to creatures. Notice the stigmata on his foot.

St Francis

As Easter draws to a close and we journey toward Pentecost, I put away the eggs and images of new life. But I leave out the small books of  illuminations that remind me that each hour of the day was once passed in “ordinary” work and life by the Blessed Virgin and her son, who is both Man and God. Because Christ did not shrink from “ordinary” human activities, He sanctified those same daily chores, those same family gatherings, the same passing of the seasons.  One might say that Jesus “saved”  us from ordinary work, renewing  human acts  as worthy of our time. As Easter people we too can sanctify our daily lives by offering every moment to Christ our Savior.

A blessed Easter Octave to all!

Population Bomb? It’s a Myth

The discussion of population / overpopulation comes in many guises other than simply claiming that the world has too many people: birth control, abortion, euthanasia, and now “health care”  that forces Americans to undergo “end of life”  counseling.

Many already know the history of Margaret Sanger, the woman behind the modern American eugenics movement–and with the advent of the Nazi eugenics program, eugenics  was suddenly such an ugly word.   Thus, Sanger was rehabilitated as  a great proponent of birth control because she feared the increase in the ” wrong” kind of populations. But her sentiment was polished up and dressed in fancy “freedom from fertility” language when the Rockefeller pharmaceutical interests pushed “the pill” on America.  It is important to note that  the Rockefeller interest in population control preceded the development of the pill–meaning that the pill was not developed to give women “control over their fertility” but to introduce the idea of the two child family as the morally responsible thing to do for the good of your fellow man.

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The pill just made it so easy to do. Then  the next step was to program Americans to think and feel,”How dare you  consume more than your fair share of the earth’s resources?”  That is a breach of  decent civic behavior, you see?   Never mind that those who bear and educate  three, four or nine well adjusted and contributing new citizens, in fact ADD to the common good.

But the impression remains that the earth is groaning under the weight of six billion mouths to feed.

Is it so?

No.

cherry harvvestWe Americans can feed the entire world.  We have sufficient land under cultivation and the technology to harvest, store, preserve  and ship vast quantities of food.  I am not necessarily making the case that we should do so, but that we could do so–thus it is a myth to think the earth cannot feed the current population (and more!).

Why then are there people going hungry each night?  Why is there famine in some areas of the world? The answers are complicated, but reduced to a few words, the problem is not capability but political will. Food is used as a carrot and a stick by international cartels and by dictators and tyrants. How do you subdue a people? Starve them. Control their food and access to land and seeds.

I have written about how and why the United Nations pushes abortion as a “universal human right.” It is crucial to understand that the U.N. is not concerned about actual freedom or rights, but instead uses abortion as one of the main methods to control the world’s families.    The U.N. is itself controlled and funded by those who want to curb world population (Ted Turner donated one billion dollars to the United Nations Population Fund). Here is a good article by Bishop John Nienstedt on the “word games” played by the U.N. to tighten the noose over the world’s people.

Whenever you hear a talking head or a co-worker insist that the world is overpopulated, do you assume the comment is aimed at you because you are Catholic and / or a “life issues voter”?    Informed people must begin a cogent and persuasive campaign that smashes the myth of overpopulation.  Because behind every push for abortion and euthanasia there is more than the Madison Avenue promise of “freedom over your body.”  There is population control.

This video is from the Population Research Institute, but I grabbed it from the Inside Catholic site.  In a brief 90 seconds you’ll see that the truth is that population has increased in proportion to  man’s advancement in his ability to produce food.

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None of the dire predictions of  the population scaremongers has ever come to pass.

They voted for him before they voted against him

By now most faithful Catholics (as in “faithful to the teachings of the Catholic  Church”) know someone who admits that they voted for Obama, but wish they could push cosmic reset button and unvote their temporary insanity. Alas.

No poll will appear that asks  voters who pulled the lever for Obama if they would do so today. No matter. We know from anecdotal confessions on blogs, webpages and even national talking head voyeurs that significant numbers of voters would rescind their votes were it possible to do so.  The fracas at Notre Dame affords us a view from the wrong end of the telescope. It is worse than any hesitant lever-puller imagined. The shock some feel is near laughable–could they truly–truly?– not have known.

obama-punishmentAmong  us, wherever go, there are well meaning Catholics who had supposed  that matters such as a “living wage,” universal health care, hatred of the war in Iraq and “hope”  were cause enough to overlook the one other matter–abortion–that burdened their deliberations in 2008.  Some can be forgiven their myopic angle of view since so many US Catholics lack any schooling in basic theology.

Greater anguish resides in those who knew. And knew that they knew.  Recently an acquaintance  remarked that he could not douse his smoldering anger at Obama for a “breech of trust.”   This man is an attorney who attends mass  faithfully with his family in tow. He is a self described “happy papist.”  Not so happy at the moment.  His  idea was that Obama implied that he would proceed in an open, civil manner that permitted Catholics who disagreed with his principles to trust his good will.

I am not certain that the opposite might better serve us–that is, to vote for principle and never mind the good will. Here I take good will to be less about goodness than good form. Obama seduced many with his polished good form. However empty of any substance that can objectively be described as “good”, candidate Obama excelled at good form, good style, good packaging.  But now that the package has been opened the truth is impossible to escape.  And the truth is not about Obama who hid nothing from us.

No, the truth is about flaccid Catholics who heard what they wanted to hear and shut out all else in a flimsy hope (that word again!) that  somehow it would work out.

Catholics made the election of a hardened abortion proponent possible. Without a majority of the Catholic Vote this national nightmare could not have happened.

The one hope, perhaps, is that we have here a teachable moment. Every Catholic who now regrets his November insanity is open to our voice of faith –faith not in one  man’s promises however smoothly delivered–faith in the enduring ever new ever eternal voice of the Church who calls us back from the precipice.

Book Burning? Censorship under the radar?

The New Book Banning
Children’s books burn, courtesy of the federal government.
12 February 2009

It’s hard to believe, but true: under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute.

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The balance of the article is below–but as you read, consider how this “safety” law effectively bans books of patriotism and American culture  written before liberal revisionists controlled the NEA and  textbook publishing. Many of these books for children3-6 th grades describe a nation that believed in God, that prayed i school, a nation that went to church, where the church was a pillar of the  community life….  Books of American heroes and pioneers with liberty in their veins….already many public schools have neglected George Washington as “irrelevant” to the modern life of American students.

Banning such books also erases an image of a wholesome America–where children lived in families with married mothers and fathers, not “Heather has Two Mommies.”   It washes away an image of America where families lived in harmony with each other and responsibility was the other side of liberty.

It erases an America where children wore modest clothing, spoke correct English and believed in God.  It erases the America where 12 year olds were not having aortions and worried about Daddy’s boyfriend.  And, of course, it would ban children’s books  pre-1985 about the lives of the saints.

The article continues:

Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores, Goodwill outlets, and the like have accordingly begun to refuse new donations of pre-1985 volumes, yank existing ones off their shelves, and in some cases discard them en masse.

The problem is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), passed by Congress last summer after the panic over lead paint on toys from China. Among its other provisions, CPSIA imposed tough new limits on lead in any products intended for use by children aged 12 or under, and made those limits retroactive: that is, goods manufactured before the law passed cannot be sold on the used market (even in garage sales or on eBay) if they don’t conform. The law has hit thrift stores particularly hard, since many children’s products have long included lead-containing (if harmless) components: zippers, snaps, and clasps on garments and backpacks; skateboards, bicycles, and countless other products containing metal alloy; rhinestones and beads in decorations; and so forth. Combine this measure with a new ban (also retroactive) on playthings and child-care articles that contain plastic-softening chemicals known as phthalates, and suddenly tens of millions of commonly encountered children’s items have become unlawful to resell, presumably destined for landfills when their owners discard them. Penalties under the law are strict and can include $100,000 fines and prison time, regardless of whether any child is harmed.

Not until 1985 did it become unlawful to use lead pigments in the inks, dyes, and paints used in children’s books. Before then—and perhaps particularly in the great age of children’s-book illustration that lasted through the early twentieth century—the use of such pigments was not uncommon, and testing can still detect lead residues in books today. This doesn’t mean that the books pose any hazard to children. While lead poisoning from other sources, such as paint in old houses, remains a serious public health problem in some communities, no one seems to have been able to produce a single instance in which an American child has been made ill by the lead in old book illustrations—not surprisingly, since unlike poorly maintained wall paint, book pigments do not tend to flake off in large lead-laden chips for toddlers to put into their mouths.

At any rate, CPSIA’s major provisions went into effect on February 10. The day before, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published guidelines telling thrift stores, as well as other resellers and distributors of used goods, what they could safely keep selling and what they should consider rejecting or subjecting to (expensive) lead testing. Confirming earlier reports, the document advised that only “ordinary” children’s books (that is, made entirely of paper, with no toylike plastic or metal elements) printed after 1985 could be placed in the safe category. Older books were pointedly left off the safe list; the commission did allow an exception for vintage collectibles whose age, price, or rarity suggested that they would most likely be used by adult collectors, rather than given to children.

Since the law became effective the very next day, there was no time to waste in putting this advice into practice. A commenter at Etsy, the large handicrafts and vintage-goods site, observed how things worked at one store:

I just came back from my local thrift store with tears in my eyes! I watched as boxes and boxes of children’s books were thrown into the garbage! Today was the deadline and I just can’t believe it! Every book they had on the shelves prior to 1985 was destroyed! I managed to grab a 1967 edition of “The Outsiders” from the top of the box, but so many!

People who deal in children’s books for a livelihood now face unpleasant choices. Valorie Jacobsen of Clinton, Wisconsin, who owns a small used-book store and has sold over the Internet since 1995, commented at my blog, Overlawyered: “Our bookstore is the sole means of income for our family, and we currently have over 7,000 books catalogued. In our children’s department, 35 percent of our picture books and 65 percent of our chapter books were printed before 1985.” Jacobsen has contacted the CPSC and her congressional representatives for guidance, but to no avail. “We cannot simply discard a wealth of our culture’s nineteenth and twentieth children’s literature over this,” she writes. She remains defiant, if wary: “I was willing to resist the censorship of 1984 and the Fire Department of Fahrenheit 451 long before I became a bookseller, so I’d love to run a black market in quality children’s books—but at the same time it’s not like the CPSC has never destroyed a small, harmless company before.”

Jacobsen also worries that any temporary forbearance on the part of the CPSC, which has said that it does not plan a reseller crackdown any time soon in the absence of evidence of risk, could be abrogated without notice in the future. For one thing, new commissioners appointed by the Obama administration are expected to show less sympathy in regulating business than the current commission. In addition, the 50 state attorneys general have been empowered to enforce the law on their own, and frequently take much more aggressive legal positions than those of the federal government, sometimes teaming with private lawyers who capture a share of fines imposed.

Seizing on the “collectible” loophole, commenter Carol Baicker-McGee declared: “If nothing happens to change this law soon, I promise I will spend whatever money and devote whatever space I can to buying up these older books. I’ll be happy to label myself a collector (and I’m subversive enough to leave the books lying around where kids might ‘accidentally’ read them).” But this strategy, aside from its overtones of furtive evasion, will provide limited legal help to sellers. Under the law, they’re liable if their products will commonly be understood as intended for children’s use, even if not labeled as such.

A further question is what to do about public libraries, which daily expose children under 12 to pre-1985 editions of Anne of Green Gables, Beatrix Potter, Baden-Powell’s scouting guides, and other deadly hazards. The blogger Design Loft carefully examines some of the costs of CPSIA-proofing pre-1985 library holdings; they are, not surprisingly, utterly prohibitive. The American Library Association spent months warning about the law’s implications, but its concerns fell on deaf ears in Congress (which, in this week’s stimulus bill, refused to consider an amendment by Republican senator Jim DeMint to reform CPSIA). The ALA now apparently intends to take the position that the law does not apply to libraries unless it hears otherwise. One can hardly blame it for this stance, but it’s far from clear that it will prevail. For one thing, the law bans the “distribution” of forbidden items, whether or not for profit. In addition, most libraries regularly raise money through book sales, and will now need to consider excluding older children’s titles from those sales. One CPSC commissioner, Thomas Moore, has already called for libraries to “sequester” some undefinedly large fraction of pre-1985 books until more is known about their risks.

The threat to old books has surfaced so quickly in recent weeks that the elite press still seems unaware of it. The wider pattern of CPSIA’s disruptive irrationality and threat to small businesses has been covered reasonably well by the local press around the country. Some papers have investigated particular aspects of the law—the Los Angeles Times has tracked its menace to the garment industry, and the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal the general plight of thrift stores—but almost no one has cared to consider the law’s broad array of unintended consequences, let alone ask what went wrong in the near-unanimous rush to passage of this feel-good law.

The New York Times, which last year vigorously cheered the passage of CPSIA in both its news and editorial columns, occupies a class by itself in almost completely ignoring the law’s wrenching effects as its effective date has arrived. The Times used to cover the book business, as well as apparel, retailing, and product design, to name a few of the sectors hit hard by CPSIA. Yet the paper has remained entirely silent on the law in recent weeks, aside from one brief wire-service item and a post on the paper’s automotive blog, Wheels, about the law’s effect on children’s dirt bikes (now forced off the market). On Wednesday, the Times ran an editorial solemnly condemning “book banning”; on inspection, the editorial turned out to praise an ACLU lawsuit against a school district that had removed a library book from the shelves because of its allegedly over-favorable view of Castro’s Cuba. In any wider and more systematic prospect of book banning, the paper has shown no interest.

Whatever the future of new media may hold, ours will be a poorer world if we begin to lose (or “sequester” from children) the millions of books published before our own era. They serve as a path into history, literature, and imagination for kids everywhere. They link the generations by enabling parents to pass on the stories and discoveries in which they delighted as children. Their illustrations open up worlds far removed from what kids are likely to see on the video or TV screen. Could we really be on the verge of losing all of this? And if this is what government protection of our kids means, shouldn’t we be thinking instead about protecting our kids from the government?

Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and has covered CPSIA in depth at his blog, Overlawyered.

………may I suggest that we buy these books and share them with children and grandchildren so that the American Founding will be taught as it was , not as the  anti-liberty revisionists  have portrayed America’s early years.

If we do not preserve these books, generations ahead will not know what kind of people we were before the nation stumbled into public apostasy.

Our Lady of the Americas, pray for us.

N O T E:

Some have pointed out that Snopes.com debunks the “book banning” scare.   In this case Snopes  offers  insufficient analysis.  Please read the following snips from the American Library Association and the website of an attorney who has advised on this bill :

From American Library Association:

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However, the advisory opinion from the CPSC says that not only must the testing be done by one of their certified labs but that this legislation also is retroactive, and every book must be tested. This situation will become even more complicated because the CPSC has not certified any labs to administer the lead testing.
In an effort to solve this problem, ALA has been in discussion with attorneys, other associations and the sponsors of the original bill.  One of those groups, the AAP, has received a response to a letter from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that does not fully satisfy our concern. Our analysis is that neither the law nor the legislative history indicates any Congressional intention to include books and even textbooks in the law. ( they hope!)

The ALA Washington Office has submitted a letter to Congress informing them that,

“The publishing community has supplied the Commission with evidentiary support (can be viewed at www.rrd.com/cpsia) that books and other non-book, paper-based printed materials should not be subject to the lead, phthalate, and applicable ASTM standards that are referenced in CPSIA because they do not present any of the health or safety risks to children that the law intended to address. But the General Counsel rejected the Publisher’s request to be excluded.
If the CPSIA is applied to books and paper-based materials, as indicated by the Commission’s General Counsel, public, school and museum libraries will have to either remove all their books or ban all children under 12 from visiting. This cannot be what the Congress intended…. They should enforce this important legislation where the dangers are, not with books, which are not playthings, and should remain unregulated.”
(if the ALA writes this ” cannot be what Congress intended,” then we know the ALA is very concerned.)
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First, a bit of background. In a February 4 post, “The Blame Game“, Rick Woldenberg has laid out the “noose-like” tightness with which the drafters of the CPSIA sought to prevent the CPSC from granting exemptions from the standards; they also provided that liability under the law would not be suspended just because a request for exemption was under consideration. In short, the CPSIA is purposely drafted to place many advantages in the hands of consumer groups or other litigants who might wish to challenge an exemption in court. Since the CPSC cannot be sure of having the last word — its attempt to carve out an exemption for pre-Feb. 10 phthalate inventories was just struck down — it would be incautious for producers or retailers to rely overmuch on its policy pronouncements, especially since, while it obviously has some discretion over its own enforcement efforts, it cannot prevent others (like state attorneys general) from bringing their own actions. One of those state AGs, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, just issued a press release crowing over the consumer groups’ phthalate victory and warning retailers, thrift stores presumably included, that “My office will take whatever steps are necessary [emphasis added] to ensure this phthalate ban is enforced.” (Note that while the phthalate ban was often argued for on the basis of the “precautionary principle” — even if no actual harm to humans has been proved, shouldn’t we alter the formulas for making the items to be safe rather than sorry? — Blumenthal & co. now seek to redefine millions of existing playthings in American homes as “toxic toys”.) It should be noted that private activist and lawyer groups often shop potential cases to state AGs’ offices, and in turn are made monetary beneficiaries of resulting fines and settlements (more on California’s CEH here).

Finally, “ordinary” children’s books (it is not clear whether books with staples qualify) will be presumptively lawful if published since 1985.

Published since when?

That’s right, since 1985. It seems before that year some books were printed with lead-containing inks. None of the discussion I’ve seen of the issue seems to report that any American child has ever been injured by eating the ink in books. But the implication is pretty clear for books published before 1985: unless you’d care to put them through testing, title by title and edition by edition, it’s now legally safer to throw ‘em out. One might propose vast bonfires in public squares, if not for the fear of violating air quality regulations.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. You’ll find a wondguadalupeerful post on this feast at Tea at Trianon.

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Few know that Our Lady of Guadalupe  is the patron of The Americas, including the United States.

We are in dire need of prayer for our nation— we are  under merciless assault. Our prayers must be for our nation and  for American Catholics whose faith has become  so lukewarm that our peril is all the greater, for the Book of Revelation reads, “because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” The context of this verse is the address to the people of Laodicea :

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“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: `The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “`I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18

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Does that not describe America today?  A now deceased American archbishop once told Pope John Paul  II that  American was rich and that Vatican rules might have little effect here.    We have become smug and lukewarm. Let’s start anew this Christmas.

Here is a prayer by Pope John Paul II to Our Lady of Guadalupe from sancta.org

John Paul II’s Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.
Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.
Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries.
Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.
Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.
We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.
Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

His Holiness John Paul II
Mexico, January 1979. Visiting Her Basilica during his first foreign trip as Pope.

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