Tuesday, April 20, 2021
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This Lent: 40 Days 40 Verses


If you’re like me, you’ll head into Lent with enthusiasm, resolve, and a list of things you want to give up, take on, and carry forward. Also like me, you make it one-third to one-half of the way through and realize you’ve either forgotten or slacked off on your resolutions. It can be hard to get things going again. What a miserable feeling!

This Lent, I’m offering you a way to stay on track and stay motivated throughout:

40 Days, 40 Verses: Daily Hope and Encouragement for Lent 2021

Lent is a solemn time in which we ask God to move our hearts to penitence and conversion, but it’s also a time for great hope and joy. We observe Lent to become more like the Christ who suffered, died, and rose again that we might have eternal salvation. What could possibly be more hopeful and encouraging than that?

Each day through Lent, I’ll send a hope-filled Scripture verse and a brief message of encouragement to help you more fully live your Lenten striving.

What are you waiting for? Join countless others and me for 40 Days, 40 Verses and be inspired this Lent!

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Book Excerpt! The Presentation and Our Attitude Toward Authority


There are laws in our country that allow for the desecration of women’s bodies and the murder of innocent children. This, beyond doubt, is wrongful authority, and we have not only the right but also the obligation to courageously stand against it through charitable, diplomatic opposition. If you look the other way, your children will learn to look the other way. […] Most importantly, we can teach our children why contraception, abortion, and euthanasia are wrong. Again, we should teach our children the value of rightful authority, but we also must teach them the dangers of wrongful authority.

When I wrote those paragraphs for my book, Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom, I had no clue that, just a few years later, our nation would face a horrifying barrage of policies, censorships, and executive orders that would limit our freedoms, threaten our right to free speech and worship, and facilitate the gruesome murder of children up until birth and in some cases, even after.

When I wrote those paragraphs for my book, Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom, I had no clue that, just a few years later, our nation would face a horrifying barrage of policies, censorships, and executive orders that would limit our freedoms, threaten our right to free speech and worship, and facilitate the gruesome murder of children up until birth and in some cases, even after. How could anyone imagine such a thing? And yet, here it is hitting us smack in the face.

The following excerpt from Imitating Mary comes from the chapter examining the Presentation of the Lord and is titled, “Imitating Mary’s Courage.” While it is directed toward mom’s and their children it can and should be taken as referring to all of us collectively for the sake of the next generation. These words are so pertinent for today!

Attitude toward Authority

“It’s interesting that the Holy Family willingly follow the law even though they were perfectly exempt from it. This has served as a striking example for me, especially during times when I find myself struggling with authority. It’s hard enough for me to accept rightful authority; when I’m faced with unjust authority, I throw a fit. My family teases me because, when I exercise in the mornings, the one song that really motivates me is the “Authority,” by John Mellencamp. Suffice It to say that the most often-repeated phrase in the song is, “I fight authority.” I think you get my drift. My mischievous clan has dubbed it “Moms Theme Song,” and I’m afraid I can’t argue.

“In the Presentation narrative, we see that the Holy Family courageously obeyed authority they didn’t even have to obey! They totally submitted to God and gave to us an example of faithful service and commitment to him. Their faithful service and commitment continued for 30 more years as they lived a simple, ordinary life together in their humble Nazareth home, continuing to follow the Jewish law and giving honor to God through the joys, sorrows, pleasures, prayer, work, and struggles of their everyday life.

“Could you do that was to mark could you obey authority you didn’t have to obey as the Holy Family did? What about authority you’re required to obey, but resist? It’s a valuable lesson to teach our children how to submit to rightful authority, and how to diplomatically oppose wrongful authority. It takes courage to do that, because it means standing up for justice and doing what’s right.

Rightful Authority

“Rightful authority includes natural law, civic law and ecclesial law. Of course, we can’t forget parental law! It’s good to evaluate your own attitude toward these laws and then to examine what message you give your children by your behavior. If you didn’t want to be a good Catholic mom, you wouldn’t be reading this book. Yet some of us consider ourselves faithful Catholics and still have difficulty following ecclesial authority. We know we should go to Sunday Mass, but sometimes it’s hard to give up that one, quiet morning when we might be able to sleep in, especially after a chaotic week. What would it hurt, right? It hurts a lot; it hurts our souls, and potentially the souls of our families, since deprives us of the graces offered us at holy Mass. It’s the same with the sacrament of Reconciliation. It can be hard to get there, especially if it’s at an inconvenient time. But we need those graces; we need the forgiveness of God and the absolution of our sins – and so do our families. The Church wants us to receive the sacraments frequently for our sakes, not hers.

“The way you approach ecclesial authority will probably be the same way your children will approach it when they reach adulthood. If they see you joyfully and courageously rise on Sunday mornings; if they see you looking forward to attending Mass (squeezing in daily Mass would be an extra bonus!); If they sense in you a sincere need for the Eucharist; then the likelihood is that they will, too. If your children observe in you and attitude of penitence and desire for God’s mercy; if they see you making a space in your calendar for Reconciliation; then likely they will, too. Following ecclesial authority is just one way in which you can show your children how to obey rightful authority as the Holy Family did. Developing an attitude of service and commitment in your self will help your family members to develop an attitude of service and commitment. Courage isn’t always about heroic feats; it’s about breaking through complacency to follow God’s laws.

Wrongful Authority

“The principle is the same for wrongful authority, although the approach is different. A primary example is the pro-life movement. There are laws in our country that allow for the desecration of women’s bodies and the murder of innocent children. This, beyond doubt, is wrongful authority, and we have not only the right but also the obligation to courageously stand against it through charitable, diplomatic opposition. If you look the other way, your children will learn to look the other way. Not all of us are cut out to be sidewalk counselors, but we all can find some ways – even very small ways – to promote life. We can pray for those who are more apostolic we active in the movement; we can participate in rallies, petitions, campaigns, or special events; we can fast and sacrifice or abortion and euthanasia victims; we can join in parish activities; and, most importantly, we can teach our children why contraception, abortion, and euthanasia are wrong. Again, we should teach our children the value of rightful authority, but we also must teach them the dangers of wrongful authority.”

Our Lady did not need purification as was the Old Testament custom, nor did Jesus need to be presented to God since he was and is God. Certainly St. Joseph knew this as well. The Holy Family adhered to the custom, not for their own sakes, but for ours so as to show us how to acknowledge the Authority that supercedes all human authority – God alone. Later in their lives, they would show us how to oppose wrongful authority even to the point of our Lord’s Passion and Crucifixion.

Let us pray for the wisdom and humility to follow God’s authority at all times and to courageously, diplomatically, and unwaveringly oppose wrongful wrongful authority. May God grant us all the grace to know the difference.

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Joe And Frank – Grace Pending



They were the best of friends since the old country, and ultimately settled near each other in the new world.

The families remained close. Frank eventually fathering five children, one of whom died in infancy. Joe became the patriarch of his four-sibling clan, with only one daughter counted among them.

Frank operated a shoe repair shop in the Bronx while Joe engaged in two different trades – as a tailor doing piece work and as a barber whenever the need arose.

The families grew even closer when one of Frank’s two sons married Joe’s only daughter. Frank later left for the suburbs just north of the City, while Joe settled to the east – even for a time living with us.

They remained close even though the times they saw each other grew ever scarcer. But I well remember one such meeting when they were quite old. Seated on a porch, strong espresso in hand, and enough cigarette smoke to make the humid summer air feel even thicker.

They are both long gone now, as are four of their children and one grandchild. But their memories remain strong.

The thick Neapolitan accent that was never lost, banter about the old country and the love of the new one, the huge Sunday afternoon pasta and meat dinners (including a little wine mixed with soda for the young ones), the love they passed on to my own mom and dad.

Two buddies reunited decades ago and likely still friends – Giuseppe and Francesco.

Joe and Frank.


Copyright (TZampino) 2021

Image Credit: Pixabay


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At the Ball (8 July 37 AF) – Zymurgia House


First Letter

The Elms, Wickshire, Cumbria

6 June 1015

My dearest cousin Armand,

We have had the ball, and now everything has gone wrong. I do not at all know how to account for it—though I know the moment it all went wrong, at least within a quarter hour. I will endeavor to explain, and perhaps you will see something I have not, though surely too late to be of any good.

Mama and Papa arrived from Yorke this past Thursday, and at six of the clock on Friday Tom Coachman dropped the four us, Mama, Papa, Edward, and myself, at the front steps of Stourness. We were greeted by the Squire and his wife, all most warmly, and if I am not mistaken the Squire dropped Brother Edward a wink!

My dear Jane was waiting within, lovely in a green dress that set off her eyes, which she flashed to good effect. Edward for his part was on his best behavior, and in his best looks, and offered to find her some refreshment; and as she took his arm and led him off to find some, Mama and Mrs. Willoughby exchanged such a meaningful and cheery look that I quite began to wonder what other letters have been flying back and forth. I began to look forward with some justifiable complacence to a successful conclusion to the evening.

My enjoyment of the evening was hampered only the arrival of Edward Hargreaves, whose name I am sure you are tired of hearing. Mr. Hargreaves was outwardly everything a young country gentleman should be, I am sure: handsome, polite, well-dressed (albeit in a country mode), and attentive to his occupations, and I suppose I could quite like him if he were not so bent on sharing those occupations with me. Still, one must make the best of things, and as—well, as Lieutenant Archer is still away, it is better to have a handsome gentleman in attendance at a gathering of this nature than not to have. It gives one countenance, and allows one to condescend pleasantly to such as the Grimsby sisters, who are not so attended.

Yes, I know how that sounds, my dearest Armand. Here in the country, one must find one’s entertainments where one can.

Oh, dear, I suppose that sounds no better. I shall change the subject, though I may say I am quite out of charity with the Grimsbys, and should be inclined to give them much more than my condescension given the least opportunity. But I run ahead of myself.

All was well until the dancing began, as it did shortly and mercifully; for having no understanding with Edward Hargreaves I was not obliged to stand up with him more than twice, and if that meant having the likes of Wallace Hampton and Thomas Porter on my dance card that was no more to be expected.

I was careful to dance with Mr. Hampton only the once, and that for the second dance, before he had had a chance to spread himself, as I believe the country phrase is; he was quite polite, and informed me that he had recently become engaged to a young lady, a Miss Claverham, from the far side of the county. I of course wished him joy.

All went well until the seventh dance, which was a Gallivant—a dance with which I was not familiar, as it is quite unknown in Yorke, but which dear Papa assures me was all the crack in Wickshire in his youth. As it is likely to be unfamiliar to you as well, I shall take some pains to describe it.

The Gallivant is something like the Sir Roger de Coverley: the sort of dance in which the dancers form in two long lines, facing each other, and move up rank by rank while the pair at the head join hands and go dancing down the middle. It is a fast and sprightly dance, accompanied by much laughing, for there are no set steps; instead, it is expected that the gentleman will preen and show off as he takes his partner down, improvising steps to match, which is the occasion for much of the laughter; but it differs further from the Sir Roger in that the couple do not simply return to the foot at the end of each complete figure. Rather, once every man has danced with his lady there is a complex and extremely confusing exchange in which everyone acquires a new partner. It depends on one’s position in the line, and the order in which everyone lines up to start with, which is tolerably random. One might find oneself dancing with just anyone and nothing to do about it, which is the occasion for the rest of the laughter, and there is much broad winking and guffawing. It would never do in Yorke, and yet at a simple country ball it is not unfitting.

Edward was partnered with my dear Jane, for the beginning of the dance, at least, and I with Mr. Hargreaves. Yes, Armand, I will admit to accepting him for this dance all of a purpose.

All went well through the first figure, for Mr. Hargreaves could not be talking of farming at such a time, and though I had not danced the Gallivant before we contrived to make our run up the middle quite creditably—though I must say that Mr. Hargreaves is too serious by nature to do the dance justice. At the exchange I was pleased to find myself partnered with Lieutenant Pertwee, quite dashing in his regimentals; Jane was with Wallace Hampton, and our poor beaus were partnered with Agatha and Matilda Grimsby respectively, much to their chagrin. Agatha Grimsby’s face resembled that of the cat who ate the canary; if her younger sister was not so sanguine she was at least pleased not to be dancing with Thomas Porter any longer.

The dance continued briskly until the end of the second figure, just prior to the exchange, when there came a loud shriek and a din and a crashing sound from outside. The fiddle player stopped in confusion, and we all ran to the windows to discover that one of the coachmen had thrown another into one of the trestles that held the servant’s repast, knocking it all to pieces and scattering the food across the lawn.

Squire Willoughby put a stop to the altercation in language that the ladies present quite failed to hear, and remained to see things put right; and after the fiddle player had mended his upper string we continued with the next dance. It was shortly after that that I noticed that everything had gone wrong.

I was partnered with Brother Edward, which would have been too lowering if the ball had been larger, but at a small country ball one does what one must. He had no attention to spare for me, of course; but it was not until I caught a look of horror on my dear Jane’s face that I realized that his attention was fixed on not on Jane, but on Agatha Grimsby, of all the people in the world!

At the end of the dance I looked about for Mr. Hargreaves, hoping he could find me a glass of punch, for he had the habit of appearing at my elbow between dances, but he was nowhere to be seen. The gallant Lieutenant Pertwee, seeing me at a loss, came to my rescue: “A glass of punch, Miss Montjoy? Back in a jiffy.” And as he was returning with it, I saw Matilda Grimsby sipping from a similar glass and simpering in a sickening way at Edward Hargreaves.

I can’t quite put a name to what came over me in that moment. To lose Edward Hargreaves as a suitor was a thing greatly to be wished; but to Matilda Grimsby? It was beyond enough! Worse, it was unaccountable! That the Grimsbys might have charms that have escaped me to date is, I suppose, possible, my dear Armand; that they were on display on this particular evening was not, for I had seen them dance, and truly, Armand, their skill was nothing remarkable.

I was not the only one dismayed. Dear Jane vanished after the dance, fighting tears; Mama and Mrs. Willoughby, sitting with the other older ladies by the wall, were sharing worried looks with each other; and when Squire Willoughby returned from chastising the coachmen and saw Brother Edward gazing into Agatha Grimsby’s eyes he cast a look at him that I am sure I would not wish have cast upon me.

The ball broke up shortly after that, and we were bundled unceremoniously into our carriage; and I must admit that I sneered—inwardly, at least—at the Grimsby’s coach as we passed it, for I noticed that their coachmen was sporting a black eye and that his uniform was much stained with food.

The ride home was silent, Mama and Papa looking stiff-faced and Brother Edward seemingly in another world.

And here it is Tuesday, and nothing has changed. Where once he went cast glances toward Stourness whilst striding about the farm on business for Blightwell, now Edward is taking tea with the Grimsbys and neglecting his work with Blightwell altogether! I tried speaking of it with Papa before he and Mama returned to Yorke yesterday, but he would say nothing more than, “Edward is old enough to know his own mind.” I was quite shattered by the disappointment I heard in his voice.

Your distraught cousin,


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Spring (1 July 37 AF) – Zymurgia House


First Letter

The Elms, Wickshire, Cumbria

29 April 1015

My dearest cousin Armand,

Brother Edward has been taking my advice, in the face of all history, and I have high hopes that we may soon see an understanding betwixt him and my dear Jane Willoughby. We have been together for tea on several occasions; he has been quite clear about his devotion to her, and as he has adjusted his manner (and as the intriguing Lieutenant Archer has remained on leave, in some other part of the country), I do believe Miss Willoughby has begun to return it.

Indeed, I know she has, for she spoke to me briefly upon leaving just this afternoon.

“I believe I was quite mistaken in your brother,” she said. “You had taught me to think him dull, but we had quite an enjoyable chat just now. And he seems to be taking to country life. We spoke of Father’s plans for his flocks, and Edward said—oh, but you don’t care about farming, do you, my dear?” And she tapped me on the shoulder with her parasol, and mounted her carriage.

But there remains a cloud in Edward’s sky: the attentions he continues to receive from the Grimsby sisters, who are quite shameless and every bit as determined as Edward Hargreaves. They plague him in Stourton, if he should chance to go to town; they find if he goes riding; while he is out in the fields talking with the men, across the fields they come walking. They have done everything but show up at our door and demand to see him!

It has become quite a joke with the men, Blightwell tells me…though when I inquired as to what kind of a joke he turned quite red and refused to say.

Though I surprise myself by saying it, I must call myself comparatively happy in Mr. Hargreaves’ attentions, for there is only one of him, and as he has duties of his own he cannot be constantly underfoot. But Agatha and Matilda Grimsby seem to have no other thought in their head but Edward; and as they pursue him as a pair, neither willing to let the other out of her sight, he must be always dealing not only with their unwanted presence but also with the slow bubbling current of sisterly bile that passes constantly between them under their too sweet smiles and protestations of affection.

I mean to say, even Brother Edward has noticed it.

I thought to help him, for with his new work and his new love he has become a much less vexing companion, and so I invited Miss Willoughby and the Misses Grimsby to tea yesterday, trusting that the latter would take note of the dashing of all of their hopes; and I have no doubt that they did. All of Edward’s attention was for Jane, while I did my best to occupy the Grimsbys with every country matter I could put to my tongue: the lovely spring weather, the latest regimental gossip, the upcoming ball, the prospect for a warm summer.

The Grimsbys said little, casting many a pointed glance at my brother and at each other while I babbled at them; for if they are divided in their pursuit, they are at the very least united in their determination that Jane Willoughby shall not have him. But what can they do? I may say I had quite a warm feeling in my heart as I bundled their disgruntled selves into their carriage and sent them home.

Oh, yes, the ball, the long-awaited ball! It is to take place at Stourness this coming Friday, for the moon will be full. The invitations have been sent and the responses received, as I well know for I have been Jane’s assistant in all of this, and it promises to be quite the affair of the season. Papa and Mama are coming up from Yorke to attend, and I have every hope that when next I write I will have news of an engagement.

Your cheerful cousin,


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photo credit: Vulpes_podšitá Grass snake (Natrix natrix) via photopin (license)

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Foiled by Life with Good Bags – Riparians at the Gate + Jennifer Fitz


The conference is, so far, blowing me away with the awesome group of people participating and the need we seem to have tapped. Perfect talk after perfect talk, and all of them completely different. (I don’t know whether other people needed my talk, but I did, so it was perfect for me, anyhow.) Life is good.

Also, I’m past peak intensity with the conference project now, and my mind is moving to Monday, when Marie Kondo arrives at my house. In preparation, a thing happened to me that caused a moment of aching clarity.

The thing that happened is that SuperHusband ran out of coffee, and we needed my daughter to pick up a resupply while she was running errands in the same direction.

Because we forget to use grocery lists (I know! How hard is that? Hard for us. I’m sorry.), our method for remembering we need infrequently-purchased staple items is to save the package as a reminder. Thus the other day I set in the garage-library this bag:

Not my coffee. Y’all know that. But sometimes, okay maybe.

What with my daughter being the one sent out, I naturally retrieved the bag to hand off to her, to make sure she knows exactly what coffee to buy.

She did not need the bag. For one thing, her father texted her the info. For another, she usually ends up being the one to buy the coffee, so she already knows.

“You sure you don’t need the bag?”

“I don’t need the bag.”

I relented. Maybe it is possible to buy the correct coffee without physically bringing in the bag and double-checking the label very, very carefully. Some people have superpowers that way. Fair enough.

And thus I was left holding the bag.

I looked down at this bag. It is in excellent condition. It is a very convenient size for . . . something. Such a quality bag, eminently reusable. If you had rice you wanted to scent vaguely of coffee? Perfect for that.

Maybe yarn, if I ever attempted knitting again, and this time I wanted the baby booties to taste and smell just like home. Perfect.

So, so, many undreamt possibilities for how to use this bag.

It felt wrong to toss the bag. Irresponsible. Wasteful.

But, alas, I can’t keep all the bags, and I already have bags (though not one quite like this), and there is no public whatsoever who would like my old coffee bag. (Would you like my old coffee bag? I could set it out for you to pick up sometime.)

Which is why, come Monday, begins the firestorm of sparking joy.

Not, with a brain like mine, something that can be done in tiny spurts. Whole brain and will and spirit will need to show up and give it their all, because the world is brimming over with coffee bags, and not buying coffee is the wrong answer.

So that’s my situation.

Will post notes from my conference talk, about that different problem I have, when I get them cleaned up at some indeterminate date in the future.

Meanwhile, here is Simcha Fisher with a must-read post for those of us who have coffee-bag problems. Even if she isn’t usually your cuppa ‘spresso, this one is Simcha at the very top of her game and saying the thing that people who own extraneous stuff need to here.

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Don’t Abandon MLK Just Yet – Riparians at the Gate + Jennifer Fitz


Since this time last MLK day, our nation’s been through an awful lot of civil strife, too much of it violent.

I want to offer some hope.

Here is something I keep finding myself telling my teenagers: You need to understand, this is not normal for our country.

They don’t know. Maybe this is how contentious problems have always been handled. They have, after all, evidence in their history books that the United States has not always been an oasis of non-violence.

But we who are a few years older are recoiling in disbelief at the rage and hostility that has erupted in so many places, and from people we did not expect. Friends. Family members. Colleagues. How did we get to this place?

Today, in memory of one of our nation’s greatest leaders of civil discourse, let me suggest something hopeful: We aren’t too far gone.

Over at the blog of Rod Dreher, with whom I often disagree, I watched the Washington Post’s extensively documented play-by-play of mob-infiltration of the capitol. It answered for me a question I’d been asking myself: Why wasn’t congressional security better prepared for this?

Answer: No one was much expecting it.

Here we are, post-911, post-MLK, post-Floyd . . . a nation that knows threats. We know terrorism, we know corruption, we know lynching, we know rioting, and yet, even with threats detected and reported, even with a massive protest pouring into the nation’s capital on the day the electoral votes were being counted in a highly-contested election for one of the most powerful political posts on the planet, there was clearly no expectation that anyone would break into Congress.

It was so darn easy for the mob to break glass and push their way in because . . . no one ever does that. We are accustomed to massive protests gathering just feet from where Congress meets, and we are used to those protests being just fine.

I can remember my first national March for Life being astonished at just how uncontroversial our reception was. Need to use the restroom? Just dash up the steps into one of the Smithsonian Museums, file through some cursory security, and help yourself. Grab lunch in the cafeteria and take in a little art while you’re at it.

My kids joke about the roving street vendors of DC who tout their stash of MAGA hats one day, March for Women the next. It doesn’t matter what your cause is, here’s a button for it, just two dollars. No one bats an eye at dodgy entrepreneurs shifting political loyalties by the minute, because partisanship is normal, expected, and largely a non-issue.

This peacefulness is evident in the Post‘s assembled video coverage of the capitol insurrection. The police could have begun forcefully pushing away the crowds before they got close to the doors. They didn’t.

You see officers standing at an entry, and the mob is breaking the glass on the door and helping themselves into the building, and the police do not fire. It is not until members of Congress are directly threatened that a single shot is fired.

Despite the deadly violence that did occur, despite the death threats being called out from some in the invading mob, there is a remarkable level of courtesy and restraint between law enforcement officers and invaders. It is as if they recognize the primacy of peace even in a mob insurrection.

Is that practical? Tactical? Sure. We don’t need to deceive ourselves about the nature of deadly mobs and outnumbered police. We don’t need to brush from memory the genuine, inexcusable violence of this riot or any other. We don’t need to forget that police brutality and corruption remain unsolved problems in our nation.

But also: The only reason the invasion of the capitol unrolled with such odd calm — and likely the reason that the House continued with business as long as it did while the mob poured into the building — is that peaceful partisanship is our norm.

It is not too late to again give that norm pride of place in our national discourse.


Martin Luther King, Jr., the man, was in some ways deeply flawed. Those human faults did not change the truth of his message. When the people you know, flawed, sometimes wrong, hold firm to something that is true and good? That truth and goodness rests on its own merits. You don’t have to reject the message because of the messenger.

In contemplating what good discourse might be, MLK’s example could not be more on point today. Do yourself a favor and get hold of a copy of the Letter from Birmingham Jail. (It’s still under copyright, so I can’t hand it out like Mardi Gras beads. You’ll have to find it yourself, maybe even pay for it.) Read it.

What it is about? It is about not being nice anymore. Not quietly going along with the status quo. It is about speaking up in the face of grave evil. It is about protesting unequivocally in a manner that will upset the people who wish you wouldn’t be such a trouble-maker.

But also: Non-violently.

MLK is our national hero of both protesting injustice fearlessly and doing so peacefully.

His legacy is the reason the capitol was invadable. It is the reason no one anticipated the breaking of that fragile glass line separating Congress from its critics. It is the reason we did not see as much bloodshed as might have been.

It is easy, when people are being nasty and violent, to reject MLK’s legacy. It is easy to say, Well, those vile brutes are destroying all we hold dear, you expect me to just stand there and take it? And when you do that, you make a mockery of the intense suffering and injustice against which MLK fought. Do you think he didn’t know violence? Do you think he didn’t know viciousness and unfettered ignorance?

Like all Christians, Martin Luther King was a sinful man in need of a Savior. And yet: He also gave his life to our nation living out the Christian model of love. He followed the more excellent way.

Refuse to waste that legacy.

Refuse to toss in the garbage our national heritage of peaceful partisanship.

It is possible to speak boldly, protest courageously, persevere resolutely, and in so doing join with all persons of good will in making our nation a land of peace and freedom.

Photo of the crowd gathered for the “I Have a Dream” speech via Wikimedia, Public Domain.

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Letters from Armorica: Absences (24 June 37 AF)


First Letter

The Elms, Wickshire, Cumbria

22 April 1015

My dearest cousin Armand,

I am at an impasse. I cannot proceed with my magical studies without a teacher—without someone who can explain what all of these tantalizing words mean and what they are for. The books I have are no help—no further help—and the only man in the vicinity I might ask is unavailable. Doubly, perhaps triply unavailable.

I speak, of course, of the good Lieutenant Archer, who might or might not even know the answers to my questions, but whom I have been completely unable to speak with at any length.

As we are not affianced, I cannot write him letters.

I can invite him to tea; but for my own countenance I must invite others, with whom I do not at all wish to discuss wizardry.

I can speak to him on the street in Stourton, should I happen to pass him; but not for long before Edward Hargreaves charges in and begins to bristle.

I suppose I must write Papa and see if he can find me a teacher, or at least a wizard with whom I may have an interview.

In the meantime, Edward Hargreaves is far too much underfoot. He insists on squiring me about Stourton whenever I visit there—as if he could ever be the squire—and on riding with me if he chances upon me whilst I am out for my daily ride. I do believe he lies in wait for me. And then, he comes to visit Brother Edward nearly daily to talk about farming, which is quite reasonable; but then Brother Edward brings him to the library to torment me.

Yes, dear Armand, that is unfair. Edward does not bring the man in precisely to torment me. But he does bring him in, and then I must use all my address to avoid being rude.

I begin to think I must begin to be as rude as I know how, if I wish to discourage the man. Though I am not at all sure it would work, for Mr. Hargreaves has quite settled his mind. I am not sure I could change it with a cannon: head gone, idea still present.

Have I shocked you, dear Armand? I am sorry, if so.

I have had a small respite this last week, for Mr. Hargreaves has gone into the city for some reason or other; but though I looked eagerly for Lieutenant Archer at the market, I did not see him. I did meet Lieutenant Pertwee, who told me that Archer had been given leave to go home over some kind of family matter "but would no doubt be back soon, right as rain."

I do have one spot of bright news. Mrs. Willoughby invited Brother Edward and I to tea this week, and Edward had the good sense to ask me what he should talk about.

"When it comes to your activities with Blightwell," I said, "only answer questions they ask you. Let the Willoughbys guide the conversation. Ask Jane about her health and how she is enjoying the spring weather."

He nodded seriously, and took it all in. I must say, Armand, country life has been good for Edward. Back in Yorke he was the most serious of his entire crowd, none of whom had any particular occupation, and was accustomed to think himself superior because of it. Here in Wickshire even the gentlemen his age have their proper tasks, tasks about which he knew nothing when he came—and he has begun to learn something about them. Perhaps one day, he might even listen to me if I tell me that I have not the least intention of marrying Edward Hargreaves.

Your pleased tho' frustrated cousin,


Next letter

photo credit: dollarclassics Cannon Artillery Gun Weapon Edit 2021 via photopin (license)

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Soup from the Cellar | The Catholic Gardener



As an avid vegetable gardener I have often kept a root cellar, or something similar, for storing harvested produce. In one house it was literally a hand dug portion of the basements exposed to tree roots and in another a field-stone basement. Putting food by just seems like a natural progression for those of us who celebrate life with soil between our hands.

At one time I lived in an old farm house on a double lot. My vegetable patch wasn’t very big, although it sure felt like twenty acres come harvest time. Many of my homegrown root vegetables—potatoes, carrots, parsnips, garlic and onions—would be set for storage in a cool dark corner of the basement.

In this farm house, I’d head down the back kitchen stairs into the Michigan basement—hand dug, dirt floor, fieldstone walls—and from inside the cellar, unlock the bulk-head doors over the cement steps that lead outside. I could then carry into the basement directly from the gardens bins and bags of barely cleaned root vegetables for storage.

A lot of these old fieldstone basements were formed with a ledge about four feet up. I’m not sure why, but thank the Good Lord for a perfect place to set the produce. The overhead beams were old and as hard as the stones, so twine was threaded between them and the up-stairs floor-boards to hang the garlic and onions; the herbs went into the attic. Once everything was hauled into place, the mouse traps would be set. Michigan basements are known for harboring the neighborhood mouse population.

There was also a fair amount of tomato canning that took place. That is until I got the upright freezer and stopped the boiling-pots-in-August insanity. I never made sauces with the tomatoes after that, preferring to freezer-pack them fresh and often unpeeled. When they thawed out, the skins just slipped off and the added flavor from them was worth the mess.

Feeling a bit out of sorts as the dark days of winter wore on, I would often look through cookbooks and old magazines for meal options. The publications from the Christmas season always showed fancy foods and fabulous families, neither of which were part of my world. The days were dark, and I was feeling much like the produce in the basement waiting for purposefulness.

I needed to do something, I needed to share. I had no idea who would be the recipient of the food I was fixing to cook, but I knew the Holy Spirit would make a suggestion.

I had a fair amount of pot roast left from the previous night’s dinner. To this day, I still haven’t figured out how to make a small roast! I decided that this would be the protein I needed in a soup. I grabbed a stock pot from under the sink and headed to the basement with my old black lab slowly following me down the steep stairs.

Loaded with the produce I would need, back up to the kitchen I went. The pot was so heavy that I plopped it down every other step until I got to the linoleum. Up and onto the counter it went, and out the veggies came into the sink that I now started to fill with cold water.

I had a sweet potato in the fridge; one of the magazine recipes had used sweet potatoes instead of white ones in a stew. It sounded like a nice note to add, so I pulled that out along with the meat, celery and seasonings.

With the wooden handled veggie brush, a Fuller Brush housewarming gift from long ago, I scrubbed the skins of the potatoes and carrots. Peeling the parsnips and store bought rutabaga; I set them all together on the over-sized walnut cutting board next to the cabbage.

Having already rinsed the kettle and set it on the stove to dry, I dumped in the stock and lit the burner and donning my apron, albeit a little late, I set about combining the soup. This recipe has fewer servings than the first over-excited-to-share version.

Winter Roots Beef Soup

6 cups beef broth (avoid cubes of bouillon, they give the root veggies an odd saltiness though bouillon paste works fine)

½ to 1 lb. leftover beef roast, diced

1 large potato diced, peeled if the skin is tough

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

½ rutabaga, peeled and diced

2 parsnips, peeled and diced

¼ head red cabbage (or green) shredded

14-16 oz. diced tomatoes, frozen or canned

2 stalks celery, diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

¼ -½ sweet onion, finely sliced and then cut slices in half

¼ tsp. celery seed

¼ tsp. thyme

1 tbl. parsley flakes, or ¼ c. fresh parsley, diced

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Literally, dump all of it together into a stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until potatoes are tender. Serve.

This is a hearty soup with a rich beefy flavor. You can use leftover turkey breast (only!) or chicken by switch the broth to 3 c. vegetable and 3 c. beef. Realize that using chicken or turkey stock changes the taste significantly, and not for the better in my opinion. Leftover pork does not work well at all.

I often freeze leftover roasts in anticipation of making this soup knowing that I can easily double or triple the ingredients. But be mindful of the herbs and seasoning if tripling. Double them first, and then after simmering a while, taste to see if want to add more.

Acts 14:17 …yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.

Image by Susbany from Pixabay


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– Riparians at the Gate + Jennifer Fitz


Spreading the word because we experienced a nasty system failure sometime on the 14th: If you registered for the Good Discourse conference-retreat, you should have received an e-mail from me (Jen Fitz) this morning, Saturday the 16th.

If for any reason you don’t have the e-mail in the account you gave us (check your spam, check your other e-mail account you forgot was the one you used to sign up, etc. etc.) please contact agooddiscourse@gmail.com ASAP.

We do still have spaces available if you know someone who meant to register and forgot all about it.

Kindly check on your friends and make sure they have gotten signed up if they are the sort who would thrive on just such a weekend.

Also, regardless of anything at all, please keep our speakers, hosts, and participants in prayer over the week ahead. The spiritual warfare on this event has been a sight to see.

Thank you so much.

Photo: Saliwangan Sabah Diesel-lokomotive, Photo © CEphoto, Uwe Aranas, via Wikimedia, see link for licensing info and to contact the artist.

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