Joan of Arc – Maid of Heaven – Joan of Arc & Robert E. Lee

Joan of Arc – you have heard her name, do you really know her story? The famous sword of Robert E. Lee contains one of St. Joan of Arc’s famous quotes: “Aide toi, Dieu t’aidera” – which means “aid yourself and God will aid you.”

Source: Joan of Arc – Maid of Heaven – Joan of Arc & Robert E. Lee

At last! Provenance for this. Sometimes rendered – and often quoted to me by my mother – as “the Lord [or God] helps those who help themselves,” it does not appear in the Scriptures, but is (or used to be) a fairly common axiom. I had not realized that it was from St. Jean d’Arc (Joan of Arc). Nor did I realize the Robert E. Lee connection! As the linked essay recounts:

There are many similarities between St. Joan of Arc and Robert E. Lee, the two most obvious being that they were both great generals and they both possessed incredible faith in God. How appropriate, then, that Robert E. Lee’s famous presentation sword, the one that he wore during his meeting with Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, is engraved on one side with one of Saint Joan’s most famous quotes and spiritual truths:

“Aide toi et Dieu t’aidera”

(“Aid yourself and God will aid you”)

But there is more, which makes this especially meaningful to me, personally: this account confirms what I thought I understood: that the sword General Lee was wearing when he surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse – a moment which must have been among the most, if not the very most, painful moments of his life – was the “Maryland Sword”:

This particular sword was a gift from an admirer who lived in Maryland. It was presented to him in 1863. It is said to have been commissioned in Paris by Louis-Francois Devisme. The giver of the gift has been lost over the years but the sword has been preserved and refurbished to its original state. The sword is forty and one-half inches in length, possessing a lion’s head on the pommel and has an ivory grip. The blade is inscribed, “Gen. Robert E. Lee CSA from a Marylander 1863.” The scabbard is of blued steel. Both pieces are flawless and priceless. Its beauty is something to be seen to be appreciated.

That the Sword of General Lee, the Maryland Sword, is also in a sense a Sword of St. Joan of Arc raises the hair on the back of my neck – but in a good way, a very good way! The essay’s author continues:

My thoughts are how many times Lee as a Christian in gazing upon the words [“Aide toi Dieu t’aidera”] did he think about the saying and use it as motivation to continue? During adversity, surrender and even death, those words inscribed upon that sword must have been recalled and shared with others.

I doubt it not. Amen, and amen!

Sadly, according to reports, some within “Take ’em down NOLA” – the main group behind the removal of four Confederate monuments from the city, which is dedicated to the removal or renaming of all “symbols of white supremacy,” so-called – are targeting not only Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812, but the “Maid of Orleans”: Joan of Arc herself (*). Will idiocy never end? The lunatics, it seems, are running the asylum!

(* Jean d’Arc does not appear on this, supposedly “official,” list, but reports suggest that she may be on an unofficial list of “Take ’em down NOLA” targets. Sadly, I would not be a bit surprised!)

Leben wie vor 100 Jahren – Filmbildsendung – Florian Schmitz – YouTube

I may have shared this previously, but even if I did, it’s worth a re-visit: Florian Schmitz seeks to live, to the greatest extent possible, according to the model of his forebears of c. 1900. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for this young man! I wish there were a version of this video with English subtitles.

It is of course true that “you can’t go home again”; alterity (the state of being other or different, otherness – particularly with respect to the differences between our present age and earlier times) is a real thing. However, sometimes you can bring the best parts (or at least, adapt or interpret them) of the past into the present.

Sometimes, perhaps often, we should!

Lack of respect for, and connection with, the past, our traditions – Tradition itself – is a major piece of our present malaise. A tree cut off from its roots cannot be healthy, and will soon wither. The same is true of a culture or society. And we in the West are increasingly cut off from our past, our traditions, our cultural heritage: and not accidentally; all too often, intentionally, as part of a focused program of social engineering.

What this young man is doing is an act of creative rebellion against the modernist / post-modernist machine, and I salute him for it.

Update / Nota Bene: A friend of mine advises me that it is possible to get a translation by adjusting one’s YouTube settings to “Close-captioned,” set subtitles to German, and then select the translation function to English. The resulting machine translation is clunky, imprecise, and a little hard to follow, but it allows a non-German-speaker (like me) to get at least the gist of what Florian is saying. Many thanks, Angela!

Easter and Paganism, by John Morgan – Our Celtic Traditions

An excellent post by my friend John Morgan, on the subject of Easter, its origins, calculations, etc.

One still gets those who say that it is borrowed from Paganism, and while it seems reasonably certain that the English / Germanic name for this holiday was adopted via a month-name (“Ēastermōnaþ” and variations on the linguistic theme) from Eostre (reconstructed OHG *Ostara), a purported goddess who – interestingly enough – is attested only in the works of St. Bede the Venerable, the Anglo-Saxon Christian proto-historian (!), and while there has clearly been some borrowing / adoption / adaption of existing European folk traditions as Christianity moved out of its original Mediterranean context and into Western and Northern Europe, associating Easter with goddesses like Ishtar and Astarte is… well, let’s just be gentle, and say it’s a stretch. 🙂

Historically, as John points out, the dating of Easter is based on the dating of the Jewish feast of Passover; the only parallel with European Paganism is that both had Spring feasts in the vicinity of the Vernal Equinox, and/or the Full Moon nearest to it. There is nothing surprising about such parallels, and it doesn’t imply a connection, other than a basic human one.

Similarly, for the early Christian evangelists of Anglo-Saxon England to find parallels between a month dedicated to the dawn, rising sun, increasing light, etc., and Jesus, who was known as the Day-Star, compared to the Dayspring (dawn), hailed as the Sun of Righteousness, and called by the Gospel-writer St. John the “light [which] shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” is hardly surprising!

Theologically, of course, there are considerable differences between the Christian message and the Pagan myths which preceded it. Christians – myself included – would point out that these were prefigurings, foreshadowings, of the “true myth” (C.S. Lewis) which is Christianity; the “dying god” of Paganism being a shadow of the form (to put it in Platonic terms) which was embodied and given geographical and historical, and of course human, context in Jesus of Nazareth: the Incarnate Word of God. For more on this, see my reflections on “Christianity in an Age of Unbelief,” posted earlier.

At any rate, click the link, read the post. Most excellent!

Why Did Patrick Henry Oppose the Constitution? – The Imaginative Conservative

To Americans familiar only with Henry’s blazing “Liberty or Death” oration of 1775, it may come as a shock to learn that Henry opposed the adoption of the Constitution.

Source: Why Did Patrick Henry Oppose the Constitution? – The Imaginative Conservative

To Americans familiar only with Henry’s blazing “Liberty or Death” oration of 1775, it may come as a shock to learn that Henry opposed the adoption of the Constitution. Henry always had a flair for the dramatic, but on this occasion, Mother Nature offered him an improbable assist: As he thundered against the dangers of the new centralized government, a howling storm rose outside the Richmond hall. Frightened delegates scurried to take cover.

A memorable scene, to be sure, but how could the man who cried “give me liberty or give me death,” this patriot who penned Virginia’s resolves against the Stamp Act in 1765, not support the Constitution? The answer was pretty simple: Henry thought that the American Revolution was, at root, a rebellion against the coercive power of the British government. In particular, it was a rebellion against unjust British taxes. Henry, therefore, thought it was madness for Americans to place that same kind of consolidated political authority over themselves again…

A most interesting treatment of an era and an episode in American history of which most Americans know little or nothing! I myself knew only parts of this. Of special note is his discussion of the successes, as well as failures, of the American government under the Articles of Confederation – a part of our history which is almost complete terra incognita to many (most) contemporary Americans. Well worth a read!

Nota Bene: I should note that I do not entirely agree with the assertion that “In particular, [the American Revolution] was a rebellion against unjust British taxes.” It was a rebellion against many things, of which taxes were one important one – but only one. Continue reading “Why Did Patrick Henry Oppose the Constitution? – The Imaginative Conservative”

“Where are you, Impaler…?”

Synchronicity sometimes leads to some interesting and unexpected juxtapositions! I am currently employed as a driver education instructor, and earlier in the week the sighting of a Chevrolet Impala reminded me of this creative vanity license plate:

Vlad-the-Impala-License-Plate

That, in turn, reminded me of a discussion some months previously with a different student, who happened to be Romanian: he informed me that Vlad the Impaler is actually remembered with considerable respect and affection in Romania, citing the example of his Romanian grandmother, who – when someone did something notably stupid – was known to mutter under her breath what is apparently a traditional byword in that country, “Where are you, Impaler?”

Vlad-the-Impaler

Now, today, an article came across my news-feed that His Royal Highness, Charles, Prince of Wales, had been on a visit to Romania. The article was mostly concerned with his support of charities in the area, and his visits to cultural events and landmarks, but in the latter context, noted in passing that he had visited the Old Princely Court in Bucharest – “which was built in the 15th century by ‘Vlad The Impaler’, an ancestor of The Prince”! I had not known of that family connection.

So, who was this Vlad the Impaler, anyway? He has a bit of a bad reputation, especially in the United States, due to his heavily fictionalized connection with Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” But what is the real story? Continue reading ““Where are you, Impaler…?””

American “Founding Father” James Madison, on property

“In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandize [sic], or money is called his property. In the latter sense, a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them. He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them. He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person. He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them. In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.” ~ James Madison, 1792

Many thanks to the inimitable Tara Ross for this and many other wondrous posts!

Some reflections on Maryland Day

Source: the Ark and the Dove – from the rectory porch

Reflections on Maryland Day, the founding of the Maryland Colony in 1634 – now the State of Maryland – and the Feast of the Annunciation, from the Rev. Greg Syler, Episcopal priest and rector of St. George’s Church and Church of the Ascension, St. Mary’s County, Maryland.

My comments follow…

O Lord Christ, whose prayer that your disciples would be one, as you and the Father are one, inspired certain of your followers to create on American shores a colony that would practice tolerance, consecrated in the name of your blessed mother to whom the angel announced this day a new gift: Grant that the people of this land may continually give thanks for your protection and uphold the liberty of conscience and worship, until all shall receive the benefits and follow the disciplines of true freedom, endowed by the Name of the same, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

On 22 November 1633, a group of English travelers — about 150 in all — boarded two ships, the Ark and the Dove, and set off from their mother country from the Isle of Wight.  Most of the group were indentured servants who would help settle the new colony and prepare the way for future arrivals, roughly equal numbers Catholic and Protestant, in fact, and on board was also at least one Jesuit priest, Fr. Andrew White, as well as Leonard Calvert, the intended future governor of Mary’s Land, the third English colony in the so-called “new world,” and Lord Baltimore’s younger brother. Continue reading “Some reflections on Maryland Day”