27 May

Hill Country

The Path to Power, the first volume in Robert A. Caro's series, The Years of Lyndon Johnson, spends a fair amount of time describing the land where LBJ was raised, the Texas Hill Country. This fascinating land stands at the crossroads of West, Central, and South Texas. It was once a land of opportunity, but overgrazing in the 19th Century, combined with the constant threat of Native American attack, made it a somewhat desolate place. Residents of the Texas Hill Country were, to say the least, tough. The women were especially strong. Caro describes the brutal nature of household chores: lugging water for miles; hauling wood and then chopping it for the stove, which was extremely difficult to light; ironing shirts with twenty pound iron wedges, literally, without handles; and so on. So arduous was their lifestyle, Texas Hill Country women were noted for their bent-over posture. These figures were heroic, if not saintly.

20 May

Blue By You

“By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (Jn 15:8). We hear quite a bit about fruit throughout Scripture. Jesus tells us that if we remain in him, like a branch connected to the vine, we will bear fruit. He also speaks of a good tree bearing good fruit—“by their fruits you will know them” (Matt 7:20). St. Paul talks about the fruits of the Holy Spirit in his letter to the Galatians (cf. Gal 5:22-23), and, of course, we have the most well-known and infamous fruit of all—the apple, the cause of our downfall when consumed by Adam and Eve.

13 May

Fatima

Muhammad, the founder of Islam, had a daughter named Fatima. When she died at age 29 in the early 7th Century it is reported that her father said, in grief, “She has the highest place in heaven after the Virgin Mary.” Muhammad did not mourn too long however. In the subsequent years his religion spread across the Middle East, Africa, and into Europe. In 711, the Crescent crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and a small town named Salatia, on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula, was conquered. In the 12th Century the Christians organized themselves and reconquered Spain and Portugal, including this small town. During the reconquista, the Muslim princess of Salatia, named Fatima, was captured. Falling in love with the Spanish Count of Ourem, Fatima converted to Catholicism. Like Muhammad's daughter, Fatima died prematurely and her hometown, reclaimed for Catholicism, was renamed in her honor.

06 May

Paratrooper Padre

On August 27, 1942, General George C. Marshall wrote the following in a letter to John Hildring, upon Hildring's appointment as the head of the Army Civil Affairs branch:

“We have a great asset and that is that our people, our countrymen, do not distrust us and do not fear us. Our countrymen, our fellow citizens, are not afraid of us. They don't harbor any ideas that we intend to alter the government of the country or the nature of this government in any way. This is a sacred trust that I turn over to you today. We are completely devoted, we are a member of a priesthood really, the sole purpose of which is to defend the republic.”(emphasis mine)