25 Sep

Our Lady of Victory

After the Israelites passed successfully through the Red Sea to escape Pharaoh's force, they naturally celebrated. It wasn't by uncorking bottles of champagne, but by singing a hymn of triumph. And the individual who led the song was Moses and Aaron's sister Miriam.

The prophetess Miriam, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand, while all the women went out after her with tambourines, dancing; and she led them in the refrain: Sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea. Exodus 15:20-21

18 Sep

Angel of the Battlefield

Here is an account of General Ulysses S. Grant from the Civil War...

The pipe he had been smoking was temporarily laid aside. There was a moment's silence, and then Grant, looking at his visitor with a pleasant smile, said:
“I am very glad to have you with us, very glad.”
There was a pause for a second, and then he added:
“If there is anything at all I can do for you I will be glad to do it. I thoroughly appreciate the value of your services, and I will give orders to see that you do not want for anything.”

11 Sep

Wright Stuff

Wilbur Wright was sightseeing on a Sunday afternoon in a town called Le Mans, about 125 miles southwest of Paris. He and his brother Orville had just finished testing their flyer in North Carolina and were ready to unveil the monumental invention publicly. Now, one would think that nothing could impress the man who was the first in human history to fly, but Wilbur Wright was inspired that day by none other than the town's Catholic church. The building “impresses me more and more,” he wrote home.

04 Sep

Charles Péguy

Memorial near the site of Charles Péguy's death on the battlefield near Villeroy, Seine-et-Marne.Charles Péguy (1873-1914) was a French poet and philosopher. Born to extreme poverty in Orléans, the home town of St. Joan of Arc, Péguy was a prominent nationalist and socialist. Mussolini cited his writings. He had a conversion, however, became Catholic, and experienced a tremendous devotion to the Blessed Mother. His poem Prayer of Confidence, about the Virgin of Chartres Cathedral, inspired a newfound appreciation of the beautiful gothic church sixty miles outside Paris, as well as to Mary. Péguy often walked in pilgrimage between the two famous churches: Notre Dame of Paris and Notre Dame of Chartres. In fact, this walking the French countryside would serve him well. He never abandoned his loyalty to France and became a lieutenant in the French Army when World War I started. Though the marches were no longer pilgrimages, Péguy still encountered Mary in the French countryside. The French and Belgian terrain is filled with “wayside shrines”: statues or monuments depicting Jesus and Mary. Most of these shrines are representations of the crucifixion with Mary at the foot of the cross or of the Pietà: Mary receiving her dead son's body from the cross. These shrines—many mutilated by bullets and shrapnel—were a source of tremendous consolation to the soldiers, as several attested. They would sing the Stabat Mater as they marched by giving them the assurance Mary was close to them in their terror. She could empathize with their pain. Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Good Comfort thus became two key figures of WWI. Mary was a grace to the soldiers, many of whom died, including Charles Péguy, who was killed heroically in the Battle of the Marne on September 5, 1914.