November 30, 2009

The Death and Funeral of an Oklahoma monk from France

Francois de Feydau was born in Tunisia where his father worked as an engineer.  Soon his family returned to their native France where Francois grew up near Versailles.    He died a monk in Oklahoma.

From his obituary in the Tahlequah Daily Press

Shortly after being commissioned an officer and sailing around the world in the Naval Academy ship the "Jeanne d'Arc," he found himself free to pursue the vocation he had felt from a very early age and entered the novitiate of the Benedictine Abbey of Notre-Dame de Fontgombault. He made his solemn vows as a monk in 1980 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1983. After having several important jobs at Fontgombault, including that of assistant novice-master, he was chosen to be among the 13 founders of Our Lady of Clear Creek Monastery, arriving in Oklahoma in August 1999. At Clear Creek Father de Feydeau was named sub-prior, cellarer - in charge of the daily work of the monks and all business matters - and master of ceremonies.

His funeral from Death comes for an Oklahoma monk.

"The funeral was so beautiful and simple. ...The monks built him a simple box out of beautiful cedar found on their property. His open casket was set on the floor of the sanctuary, between the choir stalls of the monks, surrounded by six candles. At the end of the mass, with the monks chanting the 'In paradisum,' they slowly picked up the open casket, placing it on the shoulders of six monks and we all walked out to the grave. It was so beautiful watching this family carry their French brother. They set him on the ground, and after more incense, holy water and prayers, placed the wooden lid on top of the coffin. They lowered his body in the ground with ropes, and every member of the monastery and the lay community looked into the ground and blessed his casket with holy water. Some monks were crying. It was cloudy, and damp, and bitterly cold. Somehow it seemed fitting."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:29 PM | Permalink

Christian dying

Some years ago, when a beloved mentor of mine was terminally ill, I asked him what it was like to prepare for death. He told me it was lonely.

I was surprised by his response because he was always surrounded by family, friends and former students. When I asked him about his loneliness, he told me that the dying process is so unique that few could understand it. He said that his only source of consolation was his faith in Jesus Christ.

Five aspects of Christian death and dying by Father Jeffrey Kirby, the first column in a series on dying he wrote for The Catholic Miscellany in South Carolina.  He is now in Rome studying moral theology.

If we place our trust in the Lord Jesus, then we see that death has lost its sting and starkness. We unmask the lies surrounding death, and hope destroys fear. In Christ, we are able to see the full reality of human existence, during and after this life.

By our identity in Christ, we see that life is a journey, and death is a process. And while death and dying may be difficult, the Lord Jesus can remove our anxieties. Death does not need to be an ultimate end or final good-bye.

If we allow him, the Lord will claim us as his own, and by the power of his resurrection, death becomes a transition that only initiates a new phase of life that leads us from glory unto glory.

The dying process: In life and death, we are the Lord's

Obviously, the dying process is our most extreme time of transition. We move from one well-known stage of life to a veiled, mysterious one. It is a time of understandable difficulty, of questions to our faith, sometimes of great pain, and a suffering of the heart as earthly farewells have to be given.

In the midst of this internal wrestling, we are reminded of our identity in Jesus Christ.

St. Paul teaches us that in life and in death, we are the Lord’s.

In the dying process, our Christian discipleship receives an abundance of grace, and Mary draws close, as we have prayed throughout our lives: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

Our discipleship, with all its triumphs and failures throughout our lives, does not end in the dying process, but is empowered and intensified.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink

What happen when a person dies

A fascinating glimpse into the mind and work of a German expert in near-death research, Bernard Jakoby

What happens when a person dies?

One of Jakoby's goals is to disseminate the already-existing knowledge of the dying process, death, and the continued existence of consciousness.
According to Jakoby, the problem in our present-day society is our unwillingness to be open to these things. Once man accepts the observable processes and pays attention to the many existing reports, then consequently, he would also acknowledge the existence of life after death, the existence of a loving deity, and his responsibility for everything, including himself.

That’s exactly what the dying process actually reflects—we will be confronted with all of the unresolved issues in our lives, and that is something people would rather not hear,” Jakoby said.

“At the moment of death, people are like an open book. The time to waffle has passed, as has the time to blame others for our shortcomings. We are completely left to ourselves, and that is also the reason why some people die easily, and others with difficulty. The more unresolved issues pile up, the harder the process of dying. Presently, one of the biggest taboos is for people in their eighties to deal with unresolved issues from World War II that surface at the time of their deaths,” he continued.

On unresolved issues and forgiveness

Jakoby considers it a grave issue that despite the existing, well-documented knowledge about the death process, so many people don't translate it into their daily lives. For example, he believes that the preparation for death should not begin when a husband is already hospitalized, but much sooner. However, most of his seminar attendees come only after having witnessed death, or once they are overwhelmed by an event and can no longer deal with it.

In particular, Jakoby finds the huge number of reported after-death contacts between the departed and the living family members as an alarming sign of our times, as most of these contacts have to do with unresolved issues.

“As long as we harbor ill thoughts toward a deceased, or have negative thoughts about anyone, we are not free. That’s why forgiveness is so important, and that’s why so many dying people long for reconciliation during their last days."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 AM | Permalink

November 23, 2009

The responsibility of adults to transfer the 'store of human knowledge'

Frank Furdedi in Spiked argues Let’s give children the ‘store of human knowledge’ 

In flattering kids as ‘digital natives’ for whom the past is irrelevant, we degrade a vital adult mission: transmitting knowledge.

Present educational fads are based on the premise that because we live in a new, digitally driven society, the intellectual legacy of the past and the experience of grown-ups have little significance for the schooling of children.
Although education is celebrated as one of the most important institutions of society, there is a casual disrespect for the content of what children are taught. Curriculum engineers often display indifference, if not contempt, for abstract thought and the knowledge developed in the past. .
Sadly, the ceaseless repetition of the idea that the past is irrelevant desensitises people from understanding the influence of the legacy of human development on their lives. The constant talk of ceaseless change tends to naturalise it and turn it into an omnipotent autonomous force that subjects human beings to its will.
The fetishisation of change is symptomatic of a mood of intellectual malaise, where notions of truth, knowledge and meaning have acquired a provisional character. Perversely, the transformation of change into a metaphysical force haunting humanity actually desensitises society from distinguishing between a passing novelty and qualitative change. That is why lessons learned through the experience of the past are so important for helping society face the future. When change is objectified, it turns into spectacle that distracts society from valuing the truths and insights it has acquired throughout the best moments of human history.

 Symbol Knowledge

An attitude of conservation is called for specifically in the context of intergenerational transmission of this legacy. Until recently, leading thinkers from across the ideological divide understood the significance of transmitting the knowledge of the past to young people. Conservative thinker Matthew Arnold’s formulation of passing on ‘the best that has been thought and said in the world’ is virtually identical to Lenin’s insistence that education needs to transmit the ‘store of human knowledge’.
A liberal humanist education is underpinned by the assumption that children are rightful heirs to the legacy of the past. It takes responsibility for ensuring this inheritance is handed over to the young.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:32 AM | Permalink

Remembering the Dead

Mgr Roderick Strange in Credo, Remembering those who died raises questions about loss and early death

Heaven is code for the presence of God where love is made perfect, and we are perfected in love. There we shall see one another as we really are, when all imperfection has been wiped away. Beauty will be revealed; those we love will be instantly recognisable, whatever the throng; whatever further journey there may have been, those who love will not have passed beyond each other, but will be united by love again; and those who had no hope of such a consummation, but were passionate for justice and truth, will find their deepest longings satisfied beyond their wildest dreams.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:41 AM | Permalink

November 21, 2009

Jesus Christ's 'death certificate'

Jesus Christ's 'death certificate' found on Turin Shroud

Barbara Frale, a Vatican researcher, claims to have discovered Christ's 'death certificate' on the Turin Shroud.

The historian and researcher at the secret Vatican archive said she has found the words "Jesus Nazarene" on the shroud, proving it was the linen cloth which was wrapped around Christ's body.

She said computer analysis of photographs of the shroud revealed extremely faint words written in Greek, Aramaic and Latin which attested to its authenticity.

The Associated Press adds Faint writing seen on Shroud of Turin

The Catholic Church makes no claims about the cloth's authenticity, but says it is a powerful symbol of Christ's suffering.
There has been strong debate about it in the scientific community.

Skeptics point out that radiocarbon dating conducted on the cloth in 1988 determined it was made in the 13th or 14th century.

But Raymond Rogers of Los Alamos National Laboratory said in 2005 that the tested threads came from patches used to repair the shroud after a fire. Rogers, who died shortly after publishing his findings, calculated it is 1,300 to 3,000 years old and could easily date from Jesus' era.

Another study, by the Hebrew University, concluded that pollen and plant images on the shroud showed it originated in the area around Jerusalem sometime before the eighth century.

While faint letters scattered around the face on the shroud were seen decades ago, serious researchers dismissed them, due to the results of the radiocarbon dating test, Frale told The Associated Press.

But when she cut out the words from enhanced photos of the shroud and showed them to experts, they concurred the writing style was typical of the Middle East in the first century — Jesus' time.
n her book "The Shroud of Jesus Nazarene," published in Italian, Frale reconstructs from the lettering on the shroud what she believes Jesus' death certificate said: "Jesus Nazarene. Found (guilty of inciting the people to revolt). Put to death in the year 16 of Tiberius. Taken down at the ninth hour."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:53 AM | Permalink

November 20, 2009

Killed to extract their fat UPDATED

Grotesque beyond belief.

Gang 'killed victims to extract their fat'

Peruvian police arrest suspects who allegedly drained their victims and sold liquid as an anti-wrinkle treatment.

The jailed men have confessed to killing five people, but police suspect the number of victims is far higher, with 60 people reported missing in Huánuco this year alone. Two of the suspects were arrested at a bus station in the capital, Lima, carrying bottles of liquid fat which they claimed were worth up to £36,000 a gallon.

At a news conference police displayed two bottles of fat, which laboratory tests confirmed were human. "The fat was extracted from the thorax and thighs," said Eusebio Felix Murga, chief of police of Dirincri district. Police also showed a photo of the rotting head of a 27-year-old male victim discovered last month in a coca-growing valley.

Police said they received a tip four months ago about a trade in human fat, which exported the amber liquid to Europe as anti-wrinkle cream.
The gang have been nicknamed the Pishtacos after the ruthless assassins of indigenous Quechua legend who ambushed solitary victims and drained their fat as an offering to gods to make the land fertile. Another version depicts them as cannibal bandits who ate the skin and sold the fat. The stories date back to before the European conquest.

The suspects allegedly would sever victims' heads, arms and legs, remove organs and suspend torsos from hooks above candles, which warmed the flesh as the fat dripped into tubs below. Members claimed other gangs were engaged in similar killings.


Peru's police chief has suspended a top investigator for saying he had caught a gang who were murdering people to sell their fat.

Last month, top organised crime investigator Felix Murga said police had arrested four suspects who confessed to murdering up to 60 people. He said they were selling their fat for thousands of dollars a litre.

But the macabre tale now appears to be nothing more than a tall story - or a big fat lie.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:19 PM | Permalink

Not an ordinary man but a Harvard Law Hero

Harvard Law Hero from Jules Crittenden

They keep coming out of the woodwork. Harvard war heroes. This one, when all the other Harvard Law graduates headed off to the white-shoe law firms, the non-profits, community organizing, that kind of thing, he headed off to the United States Marine Corps. Three combat tours later, it was the DEA because, his dad said, unlike CIA and other agencies, he could be assured of frontline action there. He found it in Afghanistan.

 Michael Weston Harvlaw Hero

Peter Gelziniz  tells the story in Crittenden's paper The Boston Herald.  Final salute to a singular hero

On Oct. 26, Special Agents Weston, 37, Forrest N. Leamon, 37 and Chad L. Michael, 30, were part of an elite DEA-Special Forces strike team, which had just completed a successful night raid on an Afghan drug bazaar.

After a fierce, hour-long firefight, 31 enemy insurgents and heroin traffickers were dead, and a stockpile of drugs, IEDs and weapons were seized. Mike Weston and his team boarded the choppers for the flight back to their outpost in the western city of Herat, certain they had made a difference in the blackness before the Afghan dawn.

“A lot of what we do is done quietly,” said Matthew Murphy, in Boston’s DEA office. “The public isn’t generally aware of the dedication of character it takes to place oneself on the front lines of narco-terrorism . . . these were not ordinary men.”

Condolences and grateful thanks to his family, especially his wife Cindy whom he married on Memorial Day.  Cindy was the widow of his best friend at Harvard Law, Helge Boes, who died in 2003 while serving as a CIA officer in Afghanistan.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:54 AM | Permalink

November 18, 2009

Posthumous marriage

Since death us did part: French mother-of-two marries her fiancé a year after he is killed in a car crash

A little-known section of the French civil code states it is possible for a bride or groom to marry a dead fiancé as long as there is clear evidence that they planned to marry before the loved one died.

 Posthumous Marriage

Magali wore a white dress and veil and a large colour portrait of the dead groom was on show during the ceremony, the Independent reported. The service was attended by 30 family members and friends.

The widow bride said at Saturday's service: ‘I am not really in the mood to have a wedding reception so we will just drink a cup of coffee and I will thank everyone who has supported me.
The sombre event ended with her placing a bouquet of flowers on the bride-groom’s grave.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:23 PM | Permalink

"Heaven:it ain't boring"

Now on his sixth installment of Heaven: It Ain't Boring, Berger is setting out to debunk what he says are "myths" about heaven and dying.

Forget about serenely playing the harp on a fluffy cloud. Berger says heaven is a dynamic place of fun, culture, creativity and happiness.

"When you read the Bible and see what's going on in heaven, there's nothing boring about it. There's nothing boring about God," he said. "Why would God's heaven be boring? The creator of the universe? Come on."

Son's death motivates pastor's study of afterlife

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:55 AM | Permalink

Wild West send-off

The Wild West send-off for husband and wife killed in historic American outlaw town

 Wildwest Sendoff

For a Wild West-loving couple who died near the setting of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, it was a fitting tribute.

Scores of mourners attending the funeral of Country and Western fans Arthur Wilkinson, 81, and his wife Winifred, 75, dressed as Indians and 19th century American soldiers.

The pair were killed during an annual pilgrimage to Tombstone, Arizona, where they were hit by a pick-up truck as they tried to cross a road.
Speaking after the funeral, the Rev Michael Dolan, said: 'I have done hundreds of funerals but have never seen anything to match this. 

'Although the circumstances were quite tragic it really was a celebration of a good life well lived.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:50 AM | Permalink

"The defence rests but his soul goes strolling on"

 John Mortimer

Memorial service celebrates 'magnificent Mortimer'

A gathering of celebrities and notables remember John Mortimer, lawyer, author and creator of Rumpole of the Bailey
who died in January.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:05 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 11, 2009

Memorial service for Ft Hood soldiers gunned down by traitor

President at Ft Hood Memorial Service Hails the Fallen

 Obama Fthood

Standing in front of 13 sets of boots, rifles, helmets and photographs, Mr. Obama vowed that the memory of those slain in a rampage here last week would “endure through the life of our nation.” One by one, he listed the names of those killed and described their hopes and dreams and the families they left behind.

“It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy,” the president told thousands of soldiers and relatives gathered here at the nation’s largest Army post. “But this much we do know: No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts. No just and loving God looks upon them with favor. For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice, in this world and the next.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:40 AM | Permalink

November 10, 2009

"He was starving, he needed to eat"

Russian cannibal who ate his mother given lighter sentence by judge who says 'he was starving, he needed to eat'

A cannibal who killed and ate parts of his mother had his sentence reduced by a judge who said 'he needed to eat'.

Sergey Gavrilov secured reduced time in jail after confessing: 'I did not like the meat very much. It was too fatty. But I was so hungry, I had to eat it.'

The 27-year-old was given a lenient prison sentence because the judge said he was starving and needed to eat after spending all his money on vodka and gambling machines.

There are no words.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:04 PM | Permalink

November 9, 2009

Nien Chang, R.I.P.

Nien Cheng dies at 94; survivor of torture during China's Cultural Revolution

At a time when China's Communist leader Mao Tse-tung was trying to purge political rivals and reassert his authority, Cheng, the wealthy widow of an oil company executive, was one of untold numbers of professionals who were evicted from their homes by the Red Guard. She was arrested in August 1966 and falsely accused of being a spy.

Cheng endured 6 1/2 years of solitary confinement and torture in prison, refusing to confess or bow to the will of her interrogators. On her release, she discovered that her only child was dead, purportedly by suicide, but actually beaten to death by Red Guards.

In simple, exquisite detail, Cheng's 1987 book describes the maddeningly circular reasoning of those caught up in the revolution.
"Far from depressing, it is almost exhilarating to witness her mind do battle," Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote in the New York Times review of her book.

By 1980, she had managed to leave China for Canada. Three years later she moved to Washington, using money her husband had left her in overseas bank accounts. In 1987, she was a guest at a White House state dinner, where she chatted with President Reagan. Her book was excerpted at length in Time magazine. She became a U.S. citizen in 1988.

"There were many Chinese who fought back and many who suffered much more. Some of them have never recovered," she said. "But my privilege has been to write about it, and that's only been possible because I could leave."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:54 PM | Permalink

November 7, 2009

The Victims of the Terror at Fort Hood R.I.P.

In the worst act of terror since 9/11, a "radicalized Muslim US Army officer shouting, "Allahu akbar!" ("God is great!")" killed 13 people and wounded dozens of others at Ft Hood, Texas.  I agree with Ralph Peters who says

This was a terrorist act. When an extremist plans and executes a murderous plot against our unarmed soldiers to protest our efforts to counter Islamist fanatics, it's an act of terror. Period.

When the terrorist posts anti-American hate speech on the Web; apparently praises suicide bombers and uses his own name; loudly criticizes US policies; argues (as a psychiatrist, no less) with his military patients over the worth of their sacrifices; refuses, in the name of Islam, to be photographed with female colleagues; lists his nationality as "Palestinian" in a Muslim spouse-matching program and parades around central Texas in a fundamentalist playsuit -- well, it only seems fair to call this terrorist an "Islamist terrorist.

I've read a great deal about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, but little, as yet, about his victims.  I've cobbled together what I've been able to learn this morning on the Web about the people killed, the lives disrupted, the families shattered.

With deep condolences to all the families and friends of those killed and wounded.

2 66 Seager Russell Russell Seager

Capt. Russell Seager, 51, of Racine, Wisconsin, joined the army a few years ago because he was a psychiatrist  who wanted to help  soldiers returning from war adapt to civilian life again.

His uncle said, “He just wanted to help the soldiers because they helped us,...“And then he got shot by a psychiatrist.”

 Krueger Amy Fthood  Amy Krueger

Sgt. Amy Krueger, 29, of Kiel Wisconsin joined the Army shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, vowing to take on Osama bin Laden.  She was part of Captain Seager’s unit, which was headed to Afghanistan.

Her high school principal said  "I know she was proud to serve and proud to share her experience. She took pride that she was able to serve her country."

 John-Gaffney Fthood John Gaffney

Capt. John Gaffaney, 56, of the Serra Mesa area of San Diego, who had worked with mentally disabled adults in San Diego, was a psychiatric nurse who arrived at Ft. Hood the day before the shooting to prepare for a deployment to Iraq.  His close friend d and co-worker Stephanie Powell said, "He wanted to help the boys in Iraq and Afghanistan deal with the trauma of what they were seeing, He was an honorable man. He just wanted to serve in any way he can."  He leaves a wife and son.

1 65 Pearson Michael Fthood  Michael Pearson

Pfc. Michael Pearson, 21, of Bolingbrook, Ill., joined the Army a year ago, was training to deactivate bombs and was known for his nimble fingers on his Fender Stratocaster guitar.  His mother said "He was the best son in the whole world,

  Jason Hunt Fthood Jason Hunt

Specialist Jason D. Hunt, 22, joined the military three years ago because, he told his grandmother, in Frederick, Okla., “it was time to grow up.” And when his two-year commitment was finished, he re-enlisted, right in the middle of the Iraq desert on his 21st birthday.  He got married just two months ago.

 Francheska Velez Fthood-1 Francheska Velez

Francheska Velez, 21, of Chicago, was just  return ing home from Iraq where she disarmed bombs. She was three months pregnant and scheduled to begin maternity leave in December.  Ms. Velez had joined the Army three years ago to fulfill her father’s dream of serving the country and enlisted for another three.

“She knew I always wanted to be in the Army,” Mr. Velez, a Columbian citizen, said in Spanish. He learned Thursday of her death. “I didn’t expect it to happen here and not in Iraq. The worst thing was it wasn’t a terrorist. It was an American soldier.”

Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, 55, who grew up in Pittsburgh, also joined the military like her father and grandfather, her sister, Margaret Yaggie, said in a telephone interview. Lt. Col. Warman was a physician’s assistant who was also a member of one of the Army medical reserve units.  She leaves behind a husband, two daughters and six grandchildren.

 Kham Xiong Fthood Kham Xiong

Kham Xiong, 23, of St. Paul, Minnesota, was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan and was standing in line for a physical at the center and was responding to a text message from his wife, urging him to come home for lunch when he was killed.  Hs sister Mee Xiong said the family would have been able to understand if Kham would have died in battle. But the death on U.S. soil just didn't make sense.  "He didn't get to go overseas and do what he's supposed to do, and he's dead ... killed by our own people," Mee Xiong said.

He leaves his wife and three children, ages 4, 2, and 10 months.

 Michael Cahill Fthood Michael Grant Cahill

Michael Grant Cahill , 62 from Cameron, Texas,  suffered a heart attack two weeks ago and returned to work at the base as a civilian employee after taking just one week off for recovery, said his daughter Keely Vanacker.

"He survived that. He was getting back on track, and he gets killed by a gunman," Vanacker said, her words bare with shock and disbelief.

Cahill, a physician's assistant helped treat soldiers returning from tours of duty or preparing for deployment. He had been married for 37 years to his wife Joleen

2 67 Nemelka Aaron Fthood Aaron Thomas Nemelka

Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 19,  of the Salt Lake City suburb of West Jordan, Utah, chose to join the Army instead of going on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, his uncle Christopher Nemelka said.

"As a person, Aaron was as soft and kind and as gentle as they come, a sweetheart," his uncle said. "What I loved about the kid was his independence of thought."

Aaron Nemelka, the youngest of four children, was scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan in January,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:49 AM | Permalink

November 5, 2009

Better late than never

Bricklayer 'killed' in car crash stuns grieving family... by turning up at his own funeral

Relatives of Ademir Jorge Goncalves, 59, had identified him as the victim of a Sunday night car crash in Parana state in southern Brazil.

As is customary in Brazil, the funeral was held the following day, which happened to be the holiday of Finados, when Brazilians visit cemeteries to honour the dead.

What family members didn't know was that Goncalves had spent the night at a truck stop talking with friends over drinks of a sugarcane liquor known as cachaca, his niece Rosa Sampaio told the O Globo newspaper.

He did not get word about his own funeral until it was already happening on Monday morning.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 AM | Permalink

Muslim honor killings

Noor Almaleki is the 20-year-old woman in Arizona who was run over by her father in a Jeep because she had become 'too Westernized'.

Aasiya Hassan of Buffalo was decapitated by her husband who did the deed in his TV studios he set up to promote Muslims as peace-loving people.  His motivation? money concerns or upset about the order of protection  had taken out against him a week earlier by his wife who was seeking a divorce after bouts of domestic violence.

An aunt and her three nieces were found dead in a submerged car at the bottom of Rideau Canal north of Kingston, Ontario. The parents of the three young girls tearfully explained it was a driving lesson gone wrong. Now they and  their son have been charged have been charged with first degree murder .  The aunt wanted a divorce and one of the girls was seeing a Pakastani boyfriend, both against the wishes of the father, the patriarch.

Mark Steyn
Noor Almaleki, whom I wrote about over the weekend, has died, the latest Western victim of a Muslim honor killing. If there were a Matthew Shepard murder every few months, Frank Rich et al would be going bananas about the "climate of hate" in our society, but you can run over your daughter, decapitate your wife, drown three teenage girls and a polygamous spouse, and progressive opinion and the press couldn't give a hoot. Indeed, as The Atlantic notes, it's merely an obsession of us right-wing kooks.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 AM | Permalink

Francois Mitterand's last meal

In late 1995, dying of prostate cancer -- an illness he'd long lied about and hidden from voters -- Mitterrand decided to end his life by dining like a king. In centuries past, French monarchs were privileged to one very special delicacy: a small song bird called the ortolan, which was drowned in Armagnac, then flambéed and eaten whole. Since the bird is now endangered, it's strictly illegal to eat them in modern France -- but Mitterrand didn't wish to die in the modern France he had helped to make. So on New Year's Eve, he organized a select group of his friends and enjoyed a royal menu -- complete with lavish supplies of foie gras, 30 oysters for each diner, and ortolans. Each guest was allotted one of the birds, but according to The Independent (January 11, 1997):

After grabbing the last of 12 birds, the dying president disappeared for a second time behind the large, white napkin, which is ritually placed over the head of anyone about to indulge in the horrific act of eating a charred, but entire ortolan. "Those who had already been through the ordeal once, looked at each other in astonishment," wrote Mr. Benamou [a witness]. The table listened in embarrassment as the former president masticated the little bird to a paste behind the napkin, in the approved manner, before swallowing it. Then Mitterrand lay back in his chair, his face beaming in "ecstasy."

Mitterrand refused to eat after that. He suspended all treatment for his cancer and died just eight days later. He'd had his reward.

John Zmirak in Gluttons for Power

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:59 AM | Permalink

November 4, 2009

"The bravest and most courageous man I have ever met"

British Soldier killed defusing 65th bomb

A British soldier responsible for making safe 64 bombs during five months in Afghanistan, died as he tried to defuse another.

Staff Sgt Schmid, born in Cornwall, lived in Winchester with his five-year-old stepson and wife.

Christina Schmid said: "Oz was a phenomenal husband and loving father who was cruelly murdered on his last day of a relentless five-month tour.

"The pain of losing him is overwhelming. I take comfort knowing he saved countless lives with his hard work."

" His courage was not displayed in a fleeting moment of time; he stared death in the face on a daily basis,"  Lt Col Gareth Bex

Michael Yon on Great Britain loses one of its finest

His crew was competent and confident, and worked faster to clear bombs than any I had seen.  If not, the soldiers could never have completed this mission, because there simply were too many bombs.  They say all beekeepers get stung, but these are not bees.  These soldiers were facing an extraordinary number of bombs and booby-traps that are designed to kill the team.


Lieutenant Colonel Robert Thomson, commanding officer of 2 Rifles Battle Group, said: "Staff Sgt Oz Schmid was simply the bravest and most courageous man I have ever met."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 AM | Permalink

November 3, 2009

Murder by Pestle

Wife, 28, bludgeoned millionaire husband, 76, to death with a giant pestle after he asked for a divorce

The young wife of a British millionaire who bludgeoned him to death after he asked for a divorce has been found guilty of murder.

Nigerian-born Kate Artori West, 28, smashed William West, 76, over the head with a giant pestle used in African cooking, then set him on fire before burying him in a sack.

Reports at the time suggest that Mr West could still have been alive when he was set on fire.

West has been jailed for life after a three-year long trial in Gambia this week. She was, however, spared the death penalty.

William West's charred body was found near the couple's luxury home on the Gambian coast in July 2006 just days into a holiday with his wife of six years.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:14 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 2, 2009

All Souls Day

 All Souls

To Trace All Souls Day by  Fr. Brian Van Hove, S.J.

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once said so well, one major difference between Protestants and Catholics is that Catholics pray for the dead:

"My view is that if Purgatory did not exist, we should have to invent it." Why?

"Because few things are as immediate, as human and as widespread—at all times and in all cultures—as prayer for one"s own departed dear ones." Calvin, the Reformer of Geneva, had a woman whipped because she was discovered praying at the grave of herson and hence was guilty, according to Calvin, of superstition". "In theory, the Reformation refuses to accept Purgatory, and consequently it also rejects prayer for the departed

In theory, the Reformation refuses to accept Purgatory, and consequently it also rejects prayer for the departed. In fact German Lutherans at least have returned to it in practice and have found considerable theological justification for it. Praying for one's departed loved ones is a far too immediate urge to be suppressed; it is a most beautiful manifestation of solidarity, love and assistance, reaching beyond the barrier of death. The happiness or unhappiness of a person dear to me, who has now crossed to the other shore, depends in part on whether I remember or forget him; he does not stop needing my love."


As the sacraments on earth provide us with a process of transformation into Christ, so Purgatory continues that process until the likeness to Him is completed. It is all grace. Actively praying for the dead is that "holy mitzvah" or act of charity on our part which hastens that process. The Church encourages it and does it with special consciousness and in unison on All Souls Day, even though it is always and everywhere salutary to pray for the dead.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:36 PM | Permalink