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RIP Berlin Wall, 1961-1989 Nov. 8th, 2014 @ 11:55 pm
I had just been re-elected City Court Judge in 1989 and was looking for a way to unwind after a tough campaign. Originally I had planned on disappearing into the woods for a few days, but Mary had other plans and talked my high school principal into inviting me for a day hike somewhere in the wilderness of the eastern Adirondacks.

It had been getting chilly, so I wore an old pair of corduroy trousers, heavy enough to keep the legs warm. I hadn't counted on being caught in a driving rain miles from my car, like walking through a waterfall for twenty minutes. Fortunately I had a rain poncho. Unfortunately it didn't cover the corduroy which got increasingly heavy as I slogged along.

By the time I got back to my car, an hour and a half from home, I was shivering pretty good. I jacked up the heat in my Ford Tempo to full blast and dreamed of dry clothes and glowing radiators all the way home. I never warmed up.

The house was dark.

A note tacked to the back door said: "Boiler out. Meet us at Super 8 Motel."

But I had an evening wedding to perform first.

Fortunately the hot water heater still functioned in the icy house, and I took the longest, hottest shower of my life.

The wedding went off, I had dinner with the bride and groom and finally settled in at the Super 8 with six of us in a room designed for four. The two rollaways took care of whatever free floor space there might have been.

It had been a very long day.

* * *

The net morning I reached for the remote control. The Today Show came on.

I rubbed my eyes.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

There were hundreds of people dancing on the Berlin Wall.

* * *

Ten years later and we were hosting for a year a German exchange student who had been seven years old before he tasted freedom.

On the evening of the anniversary as we gathered at the dining room table for dinner, I opened a can of beer and poured a shot glass full and placed it before our guest (keeping the rest for myself, of course) and toasted the free people of a united Germany.

"Yes, I remember this night," he said. "I was only seven years old and my mother woke me up in the middle of the night. "Christian!' she said. 'Look at the television! Look! Your father is on television!

"'He's dancing on the Berlin Wall!'"


Father Rutler Returns . . . Sep. 12th, 2014 @ 10:06 pm
FROM THE PASTOR
September 14, 2014

by Fr. George W. Rutler

I do not like most jargon, as it diminishes the creative power of the noble English language rightly used. For instance, I do not like to be told by bureaucratic sorts to “prioritize.” (Apparently, the first recorded instance of its use was in the 1972 presidential campaign.) As with all things, Christ the Living Word put it better when he said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). God and his promise of eternal life should have priority over every other desire or concern.

   Recently, many television viewers complained about a news bulletin covering the beheading of the journalist and devout Catholic, James Foley. Their objection was not to the horror of the news, but that it had interrupted the broadcast of a soap opera. We are learning quickly that people with that defective kind of priority will soon find out the hard way that life is not a soap opera. We are now engaged in a war, whether or not some politicians hesitate to call it that, and it must have priority over all other interests. The war is being fought by enemies of God, deluded by the conceit that they are fighting for God.

   This is so hard for an indulged and selfish culture to accept, inasmuch as it means acknowledging that good and evil exist, though many would prefer to ignore the latter. Christians are being martyred in the Middle East, and public officials still find it hard to mention that those who are being crucified, beheaded, and driven from their homes are suffering because they are Christians.

   The auxiliary bishop of Baghdad, Shlemon Warduni, said on Vatican radio: “We have to ask the world: Why are you silent? Why do not you speak out? Do human rights exist, or not? And if they exist, where are they? There are many, many cases that should arouse the conscience of the whole world: Where is Europe? Where is America?” The genocide of Christians, who have been in Iraq since shortly after the Resurrection, does not seem to have priority in the attention of many in our country.

   As this suffering continues, many in the United States are willing to tolerate heresy and moral decadence in a vain attempt to “get along” with others. While Christians must “love the sinner and hate the sin,” there are an increasing number of people who are intimidated into enabling the sinner to advertise his sin. In 1992, Cardinal O’Connor said that compromising Catholic truth for the sake of political correctness “was not worth one comma in the Apostles' Creed.”

   The holy martyrs in the Middle East honor the Church and atone for our degeneracy. Their bishops are willing to struggle and die with them. They must be amazed that bishops and people in other places have their priorities so wrong.         

 

 


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My Adventure With Laura Sep. 2nd, 2014 @ 12:14 am
What a splendid holiday we spent with Anna and the Barker clan today! The food outstanding, with special mention of Jenny's marinated pork loin and Gramma Joanie's honey mustard/curry sauce for the corn which we brought (mouthwatering picked-this-morning from Madej's stand at Manny's Corners). Anna, always the perfect host, allowed me to take Laura out in the kayaks after.

The six year old is pretty deft with the paddles, but just in case I had her roped to mine. Perfect early evening cruise on the Stockport Creek, beginning where it enters the Hudson beneath the 1914 railroad bridge. Because the Hudson is tidal at that point, we had still water all the way back up to Route 9, where we turned and took the quiet shallow narrows between the mainland and a large island for our trip back.

We managed to awaken a large blue heron which flew over us in all its spindly glory, much to Laura's delight, and it twice more took off before we returned to the main channel. The sun hanging low by the time we returned to the railroad, about an hour and a half after we started, we dropped under the bridge to catch the last rays descending behind the northern Catskills, a gorgeous sky reflected on the broad river.

The tide meeting the current and the sunset stillness of the air combined to make our boats perfectly motionless as we took it all in, not even the slightest drift from side to side. The 1660ish Dutch Colonial I've had my eye on for a while looked pretty spectacular across the water. On another day maybe Laura and I will explore the river islands. She'll be starting second grade on Wednesday, so that might have to wait a bit. But there's still time before she's completely grown up.

Harriet Foltman Thackrah, RIP Jul. 20th, 2014 @ 07:32 am
A few weeks ago on a Tuesday evening we took Mary's mother, Harriet Thackrah, to Shuttleworth Park for a ball game. The Mohawks were offering one of their many crowd-pleasing promotions, with veterans getting in free. Not only that, but they got to use the brand-new Veterans Deck with a great view of the game midway down the right field line. And not only that, but scurrying staffer kept bringing free food and drinks to the vets and their families. I confess that, though I paid the full senior price of admission, I took full advantage of the treats.

Harriet leaned forward in her wheelchair and fully enjoyed every minute of the game. At 93 her step was a bit slower than the old days, but her mind as sharp as ever. Afterwards, when we snuck her back into the Wilkinson Residential Health Care Facility, she turned to me and said, "I had a really good time."

I guess I qualified as her favorite son-in-law. That may not always have been the case, but I climbed up a notch when the other one, inspired by a touch of Jamesons from the Irish American club, mistook one bedroom on Church Street for the other late one night and snuggled in with our mother-in-law.


The weeks pass and now, seventeen days after leaving for the hospital, her final wish before she drifted into the coma is fulfilled. She is coming home. The word had gone out at the Wilkinson facility, and some twenty staffers greet her when the elevator doors open, including some who had gone off-duty. She returns to the familiar surroundings of her room and is made comfortable. It is as she had left it, the pictures of her parents and her children and grandchildren and her great-granddaughter, our Laura. Her own personal artwork and knick-knacks. The geraniums perched on her windowsill overlooking the valley, all lovingly cared for in her absence, and tucked between two of them a slim volume of Sonnets from the Portuguese.

Flossie returns from the Philadelphia area and the two sisters take turns managing the watch while their brother John sets off from Wilmington, NC with his son Ian. Jamie is with us this month and Anna and Laura come up to see Babci. Louisa and Diego will be coming Friday and bringing Flossie's daughter Zoe from Boston. Groups of us wander from time to time to the nice sitting space at the end of the hall with the window view, and the magazine rack with Babci's retired issues of Smithsonian Magazine and Opera News.

Barely more than 24 hours pass and though Harriet occasionally lifts her head a little and squeezes a hand she has stopped interacting with the outside world. Mary arranges  the ear phones so that her mother can follow along with the luminous mysteries of the rosary. Just about every member of the staff who has ever been in contact with her stops by. Two of the girls, on their day off, come in to wash her hair.

The sisters change shifts again, and again and now as 11 PM passes on Thursday, Mary's turn now, it becomes the Holy Hour, as Father Gulley used to say, that very special time when the door between heaven and earth opens to receive a new saint. At 11:47, while the nurse and aides are about to shift her in the bed, she breathes her last. "Open the window!" says one, so that her soul may swiftly rise to heaven on the night breeze. She carefully takes the clock off the wall and stops it.

We get the call at home moments later, as I'm bringing the dog in from his bedtime ritual, and I join Flossie and Jamie in the short ride. The night watchman is waiting for us and lets us in. Outside the room a cart of goodies has been sitting: fruit and pastries and drinks, hot and cold. They give us as much time as we need, and as much space. We are among friends.

She has seen a lot in her 93-plus years. Woodrow Wilson had been president when she was born, the man who issued an Executive Order banning African-Americans from the Civil Service. She had seen her immigrant family rise from mill workers to college grads and teachers and even a college professor. They had weathered the Great Depression and she had joined five of her brothers in the service during World War II. She raised a family and a generation of Amsterdam school kids.

On Saturday morning we said our final goodbyes, and a grateful nation presented our granddaughter with the flag of our country that had draped her coffin.

Harriet Foltman Thackrah's service had ended.
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Clara Clizbe's Observations Jun. 8th, 2014 @ 10:53 pm
In October of 1956 my grandfather Des Nichols, a life-long resident of Rockton himself, attended an auction at the homestead of a Rockton pioneer family, the old Clizbe place at the corner of Clizbe Avenue on Upper Church Street. While bachelor George Clizbe and his spinster sister Clara were still alive, both were of advanced age and no longer able to care for the farm, or themselves either for that matter. Several generations of furnishings and goods were sold off that day. The house and barns would eventually be torn down to make room for Highland and Holland Gardens town houses.

The auctioneer was a friend of Des, and together they took a last walk through the house after the auction had ended. In the attic they came across a stack of old local newspapers. Des being something of a history buff, the copies of the Recorder detailing the sinking of the Titanic caught his eye. He asked the auctioneer to name a price. "Take the whole lot of them. Just get them out of here."

So he took them home, and in addition to the Titanic issues he found some from World War I, including an article about himself that he had never seen. It delighted him.

But also he found a small manilla envelope containing other treasures, the school essays of teen-ager Clara Clizbe covering several years in the late 1880's, probably from the Amsterdam Academy, then located at the top of Wall Street, where the Academy Street School would later stand.

Clara Clizbe was born in March of 1870, daughter of Samuel Clizbe and Mary Antoinette Chamberlain, in the family homestead that she would occupy for the rest of her life until infirmity forced her into a nursing home. Her great-grandparents had moved to what became Amsterdam in 1798, when her grandfather Darius Clizbe was but nine years old. The farmlands were divided between Darius' sons, and the part that went to Clara's uncle Marcus Clizbe became the Rockton Realty Plot early in the 20th century. Des lived in one of the houses built on that plot on McCleary Avenue.

There is a simple charm to young Clara Clizbe's stories. I present a sampling of them here, in no particular order. We'll begin with one that places her in the time frame of our country's development, for the event that she writes so passionately about took place a mere ten months before her own birth.

THE MESSAGE OF THE WIRES
January 14, 1889

Thirty years ago almost nothing was known of the United States west of the Mississippi, unless it might have been the California coast; and now as we glance at the map of this region, and see the important place it is destined to fill in the records of the nation we are filled with surprise.

At the aforementioned time Indians, buffaloes, antelopes and prairie dogs were to be seen anywhere. Now the Indians are gradually diminishing; scarcely a buffalo is found, and antelopes and prairie dogs are fast dying out.

At that time we had no way of visiting that country except in stage coaches, and these were not very convenient, and rather unsafe, and so few people thought or cared about that great unoccupied territory.

Now the Union Pacific Rail Road extends across plains, mountains and valleys to the Pacific coast. This railroad was completed May 10, 1869, and was the means of uniting the East with the West. What a fortunate day that has already proved to this country!

It was a real May morning: the sky was a clear blue and the little songsters sang out a joyous welcome. Engines and trains from the East and from the West stood facing each other. A few rods between then had as yet no ties.

Telegraph arrangements had been made so that every place in the land should be connected. When the last tie was laid the telegraph flashed the message through the country, "Are you ready?" Back from many cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago, and Washington comes the answer, "All ready." Again the telegraph says, "At the third tap it will be done." "We understand," was the answer.

There is a few minutes silence, then it is broken by the wires saying, "We are now going to attend prayers. Hats off."

Immediately the hats are removed, the heads bowed, and all listen to the prayer as it leaps over the wire, sentence by sentence, to places four thousand miles apart. What a place in which to pray! Was prayer ever heard by mortal ears before, four thousand miles away?

In a few minutes telegrams come back from many cities, saying, "The bells are ringing and the people rejoicing."

Why should they not rejoice? It certainly was joyful news the telegraph repeated that day.

And Clara wrote with a sense of place over the years, beginning with her observations of Amsterdam when its status as a city was brand new.

MY NATIVE TOWN
By Clara Clizbe
April 5, 1887

It is situated in Montgomery County, New York State on the Mohawk River, a branch of the Hudson, the largest river in the state, which enters into the Atlantic Ocean at New York Bay.

There are no high mountains near us, the nearest being the Catskills and Adirondacks, they not being of a very great height.

It is not a large city, but it is not far from Albany, the capital of the state. It contains about sixteen thousand inhabitants and is continuously increasing, because of the employment found in the mills. Passing through the city is the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, which was built many years ago.

The principal streets are Main, Church and Market.

There are no colleges but there are schools of high rank.

There are also a number of churches, among them the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist and Roman Catholic.

The leading industry is manufacturing by which most of the people gain a livelihood.

The scenery, especially along the river about the time of the setting of the sun is beautiful.


WHAT I SEE ON MY WAY TO SCHOOL
October 26, 1886

It is nearing about half after eight and I must be starting or I will have a tardy mark and as I am beginning on the second deportment card I do not want a tardy mark to begin with, for I had one on my last and I hope to get a better one over time.

I leave home feeling in a slight hurry for I have some distance to walk. Half a mile of rough country road is not a pleasant prospect. But there is not time to think of that now. I hasten my steps thinking only of lessons and a cheerful school room. The milk men have gone down at an earlier hour and now occasionally a farmer is on his road to the city with apples or other farm produce. I walk a short distance when I approach the Sanford's Round View Farm with its large white barn and rather ancient house and there take his high built side walk until I reach the suburb or “Reid Street” as it is commonly termed, but pass by rather hurriedly for I find nothing to attract the eye or harmonious to the ear.

I have just passed by the railroad and the oil mill when Mr. Sanford's immense carpet buildings come in view and after this a pleasant five minutes walk brings me to my journey's end – a school room.


A DAY'S TRAVELS
November 18, 1887

It was in the Spring of 1885 that I left home one pleasant afternoon to visit a schoolmate residing about two and one half miles distant. I reached there and spent a pleasant evening.

We decided to take a ramble the next day. My friend's mother approved of it and decided to go along. We invited four young ladies from the next neighbors and making a merry company of seven started. We crossed field after field clothed in verdant green, through woods, bushes and brambles, over fences and hills and through valleys, enjoying the scenery as we passed.

We finally came to a quarry of which I heard some little history. It was a stone quarry that had some years ago been worked, but it was now abandoned by the workmen. The tools lay around in all parts looking just as if the workers had left to eat their lunch.

But the most interesting thing of all was an old shanty, now nearly rotted down and containing many blacksmith tools, among which I noticed anvils., wrenches, pincers, hammers, files, tongs, vises and irons of every description, and also an old bellows.

Silence reigned here and has for many years, except when visited by pedestrians like ourselves. It seemed strange to us  that these things were left undisturbed for so long, but the reason is, I think, because there are few who have business away off there in the fields. If it were near our city they never would have remained so long.

We left this place and soon came to a saw-mill. This, like the quarry, was without people or workmen. It had been run by a steam engine which was still standing under the roof.

I had never seen an engine like it, so I examined it a little. Out back of the mill was a number of piles of saw dust and quantities of lumber, some sawed and the rest to be sawed.

We were off in the fields, but we knew our nearest station was Cranes hollow. We thought best to strike the road as near that place as possible. We reached the road  and proceeded to Cranes Village and stopping at the store to see a venerable old bachelor, buy gum, and fan ourselves with brush brooms while he treated us to candy.

After resting ourselves we ascended a long hill and began to feel as if we were approaching home.

I came home feeling rather tired and sore but having never the less enjoyed the day.

As some of Clara's essays are clearly fictional, it is sometimes difficult to determine what is imagination and what autobiography, but as someone once said, "What does it matter at this point?"

MY FIRST MEMORIES
May 28, 1888

Among my first memories is one day in early March when I had just been four years old, I went with Papa for a sleigh ride.

Mamma dressed me in a little red merino dress trimmed with black silk braid. Then she put on a red crocheted hood and my cloak, tucked me snugly in the cutter and we drove away.

I do not remember anything until we reached a large white house. I was taken in by a lady while Papa went to the barn. As soon as I went in the lady laid off my hood and wanted to take off my cloak, but to this I strongly objected. She persisted saying if I did not take it off I would catch cold coming home.

I had it settled in my mind that I would not do it and I wiggled, twisted, held my hands over the buttons, screamed “no” and altogether acted very rudely.

I sat down in a small chair that belonged to a little boy of the house. Soon an old lady whom I had seen about the house came to me and talked to me until I came to like her very much. But the boy would not say a word to me. I was quite anxious to play with him so I went across the room and began to talk to him. But he would not say a word to me.

When and how I left the house I do not remember.

For the year of 1876 I spent the summer at a small village nearly five miles out of Albany. I was visiting my Aunty and a cousin who was nearly my own age. We used to have gay times. While I was there my Aunty began to think she would like to go to the Centennial. So she hired a lady to come and keep house and take care of us children.

She lived not far from there and often went home to do some work and see to her chickens. We always knew when she was going for just before she would be in such a hurry to get the work done.

One day while she was gone we went into the attic, dressed ourselves in long dresses and came down stairs. Not content with this, we must go out to the street. While we were out we saw a flock of sheep coming into the village. This was not an uncommon sight for the place was situated on the Boston and Albany Turnpike where many droves passed during the summer.

We went to the gate and the man asked us if we would like to have a sheep. We said “yes” and he told us if we could catch one we could have it. I would like to have tried but my cousin did not think this a good plan so I gave up my wish.

We went back to the house, up stairs and took off our dresses.

How well I remember another time when I was visiting in the winter. It was quite a few years later. I was coming down the back stairs when a neighbor came toward me with a paper in his hand. He asked me if Mrs. Bloomingdale was home. I told him “no.”

Then he gave me the paper, telling me at the same time that my father had been shot the evening before.

I took the paper and went in the house and sat down to read the piece he had pointed out. It said Papa had been shot while on his way to the village the evening before by a Dr. --- . It further stated that he had not been seen since and was supposed to have crawled off in the woods to die.

By this time I was so affected that I could not read farther and laid the paper down on a chair near me. In a few moments my Aunty came home and I showed her the paper. She took it and read it over then I asked her to read it to me for I had not been able to read but a small portion of it. She read me that a Dr. Lewis had been shot and it was so different I thought I did not read it right.

So I dried my tears for that night and the next night Papa came out in the stage.

The report was false or rather was added to until it made quite a different story. The Dr. fired three shots; only one hit Papa, that just passing through the back part of his neck and two different places on his coat collar. He had come down after me thinking I would hear of it and feel very much alarmed.

I was never so glad to see him in my life as I was that night.


A MODERN HEROINE
February 25, 1889

We were to have a picnic, composed of a very few girls like myself, and the day appointed was about the first of June. We were to do all the baking alone, accepting no help from any who might offer assistance.

At last the appointed day arrived. It was a charming morning, and we all set off very happy. At length we reached the grove. It was a beautiful place. The old pines and some few stately elms were the principal trees.

We began to think about some place for our table. We found some nice, wide boards, and by placing the ends on stumps made quite a table, although it was rather low. The table was spread with a nice linen table cloth, and the provisions placed on it. We were not quite ready for dinner, so we strolled off for wintergreens. When we were tired of this we came back and had our dinner.

After this we had some few exercises we had prepared, and then some went to look for wild flowers, while others sat down in groups, to give and guess riddles, tell stories or play games.

Up the stream from where we had come to spend the day we knew lived a widow with her only child, a boy about four years of age, with blue eyes and golden hair. We had seen him a few times during the day, but only at a distance, as he seemed too bashful to come very near us.

As the sun lowered in the western heavens, we began to think about going home. We were all together by this time at the bank of the stream where we had tried to fish with flies as bait, and bent pins for hooks. I may as well add that a few times our bait was missing  when we drew the line out of the water, but no sign of fish did we see.

Suddenly there was a shriek, then another, followed by yet another.

The voice was that of the little boy whom we had seen during the day. At the second shriek one of our number started in the direction of the sound. The others followed. Going a short distance we saw what was the matter.

The child, while attempting to cross a little wooden foot bridge which spans the stream, has slipped and fallen off. At that place the stream had a very rapid current and the child was soon seen to be going with it.

The girl who was the first to spring from her seat when the alarm was given, and who naturally was of a very brave character, was now preparing to go to the rescue of the child. Before we were hardly aware of it she was in the water. She knew but little about swimming and it was a very dangerous thing for her to do. But it seemed as if her efforts were of no avail, for, though the boy was scarcely ten feet ahead of her she could not overtake him. Once when the boy went out of sight we all thought he had sunk never to rise again, but we were mistaken for he again appeared.

Our companion now appeared to redouble all efforts to reach the child, and in this she was successful.

How joyful we were to see her coming slowly toward the land with the child, and how much we afterward praised her for her bravery. The child was taken home and with how much thanks did that poor widow receive her only child, the light of her house.

I remember one of her strongest and sweetest sayings was, “I can not reward you, but God will.

After this exciting accident we were glad enough to leave the grove and go home. We gathered up our baskets and started.

I have often wished that I could again visit that place and see if the poor widow and child are there yet, and if the stream looks as it did then, but if I could, how I should miss some of the girls who were with me that day.


POT OF GOLD AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW
March 25, 1889

One thing I have learned since my ninth year; that is that no one has ever reached the end of the rainbow, and hence the legendary pot of gold has never been found.

When I was a little girl, my Aunty, who always amused me very much by her charming stories, told me, in answer to my inquiries concerning the pot of gold, that, as she had never accomplished a journey to this fairy place, she did not know whether it could be found or not. She also said that she hoped that I would sometime be able to go, and if I reached the place and found the gold, that I would remember her, because sometime she expected to get married and it would be a beautiful wedding present.

I listened so attentively that before the afternoon had passed I had all my plans nearly made.

But the more I thought of it, the more difficulties appeared; first I would have to wait until I saw a rainbow that I might be guided by it; secondly I was perplexed to know how I should get away from home without being seen.

I waited for many days; the days became weeks and weeks became months, yet no rainbow made its appearance.

I was in the habit of taking the place of a boy on the farm, partly because there was no such person and partly because I rather liked to be called my father's only boy.

One morning I came down stairs and I found the cows nearly ready to be driven out to pasture. I put on my sun-bonnet and calling my dog started with them.

I do not know just what month it was but it had been a rather chilly night and there was a very heavy dew.

As I neared the pasture I saw a large rainbow spanning the western heavens. I was much surprised to see one before six o'clock, and in the western heavens too. But I took it as an omen of good luck. I knew I would not dare return home for fear of being kept there, and as I was in the habit of doing quite a bit of traveling before breakfast, I did not think I would get hungry before I reached the end of my journey. So I hastily put up the bars and started.

I knew just where it came down and I hastened along thinking of the dolls I would have and how large a piece I would give to my aunty for a wedding present.

I crossed the swamp and entered the woods. I felt very familiar with these places because several times I had hunted until dark for the missing cows, who seemed occasionally to prefer to stay in concealment rather than come down to the bars.

I hurried through with all speed possible, for I only caught occasional glances at the rainbow and I was afraid it would be gone before I could reach the creek where I was so sure it came down. But alas! I was doomed to disappointment for it was yet some distance off.

I now decided it must end in a swamp a little farther on. I do not know why, but I thought it either ended in a swamp or a creek.

By the time I reached the swamp I was tired and finding a stone I sat down. When I ventured to look up for the rainbow it had entirely gone.

What should I do?

When I started out I thought the valuables I should find would entirely make up for the chidings I knew I should get for running away. But now I had nothing to show for my pilgrimage except torn clothes and wet feet.

There was no other way. I should have to go home and answer all the questions asked me. I thought it was unjust after I had met with so many difficulties, and such a great disappointment, that I should be tortured with questions.

I now began to feel faint from want of food. I dragged home a sadder and much wiser girl than when I left that morning. On my way back it was light and I could pick my path better than before because then the sun had not arisen.

When I reached the house I flung myself down in the doorway complaining of feeling sick. I ate some toast and after lying down a while felt quite like myself.

I never told about my chase after riches, but left it to be thought that I was feeling sick and had tarried along the road.

Finally one day I did tell it to Mamma. She thought I paid dear for what I did not get. I have since given up finding riches at the end of the rainbow and hope to find treasures better than silver or gold.


THE OLD VILLAGE CHURCH
November 26, 1888

Yes, it used to be in a village, but of course a very small one. Now the store and many of the houses are gone, but this is the church.

Back there at the left is the old church shed. And there methinks I can see Dolly patiently waiting for the service to end.

If you look up there you will see the old red school-house where I always went to school as a child. During the noon-hour, here on the shady side of the church when it was a hot summers day, we used to play such games as Tag, Tin-tin, Colors, Speckled Cow, Snap-the-Whip and Quaker Meeting. Speaking of these games makes me think of my old school mates.

Some are living in far off states, while others are dead and the few remaining ones are still living near here.

But let us enter the church. The doors easily open.

The first thing we observe is the large box stove. It is odd-looking, but with these two stoves the front of the church at least was kept warm.

Then here you see is the pulpit. The chairs and sofa are covered with bright red {illegible}  The Bible with its well-worn leather cover looks as natural as the rest.

Everything is so natural that I seem to see the pastor, with his white hair and beard, reading from the Book in front of him.

But now let us turn to the pews. You see some are with cushions and some without. They all have doors which we open we enter and close after us. That one back of the third post and which has a green cushion is our pew. If I had the time I could tell you where nearly all the people used to sit.

Now that we have seen everything downstairs, we will go upstairs where we used to have Sunday School. Here in this row is where our class used to meet.

But my Sunday School mates like my Day School mates are scattered and my teacher is numbered among those who have entered the Heavenly Gates. I was very young at the time, so my lesson was to learn the Golden Rule.

This I found in my Sunday School Paper called “The Sunbeam”. The papers were given out on Sunday and contained the next Sunday's lesson. If for any reason I was not there to get my paper, Mr. B ____ would stop and give it to me while passing some time during the week.

But now, if you have seen all the interesting things of the church we will leave it and go home for it is nearing time for the evening meal.


AN AUTUMN DAY'S DRIVE
October 15, 1888

What a morning.

The sun is up. All nature is alive and joyous. The breeze is good and refreshing. Everything betokens a pleasant day. This is the day we had set apart for our drive. It proves a pleasant afternoon, and by two o'clock we are starting.

There are roads running in all directions, but we take the one at our right.

The scenery is grand and one is inspired by the beauties of Nature. First the trees clothed in such delicate shades of red yellow and brown attract our attention. Next a hill, dotted with cattle quietly cropping the pasture and seeming to enjoy it as if it were June instead of October. Yonder is the church, where we have for many years gone to worship. It always looks the same Summer and Winter.

Just beyond this is the parsonage; although somewhat weather-beaten it has the same cozy look it had when I first remember it.

A little farther on we come to the grave-yard; it looks the same and yet different. The iron gate is rusty and grates on its hinges as we open it. We enter.

Some of the stones are old, while a few bear quite recent dates. The first two next to the gate bear my great-grandfather and great-grandmother's names. Back in the corner, nearly hidden by those alders, is another stone bearing the same family name.

I read on other stones the names of many whom I used to know.

Few flowers adorn the graves. Perhaps the mourners have learned to look to the blue sky by day and to the stars by night, and to think that the dead are there and not in their graves.

The sun is beginning to hide himself beyond the western hills and we start for home. Things appear more melancholy than when we left. Perhaps it is because our minds have been associated with sad thoughts for the last half hour. As we go along, we say with Gray,

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike th' inevitable hour--
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.


Miss Clara Clizbe
Miss Clara Clizbe, 89, died Saturday [January 23, 1960] at 7 p.m. at the Bennett Nursing Home.

She was born in Amsterdam March 2, 1870, a daughter of Samuel J. and Antoinette Chamberlain Clizbe and lived with her brother, George H. Clizbe, on the Clizbe farm on Upper Church St. until about 10 years ago. She was a member of the Forest Avenue Methodist Church.

Her brother survives together with one niece and several grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

Funeral of Miss Clizbe
The funeral of Miss Clara Clizbe was held at the funeral house of Johnson-Lindsay Tuesday afternoon
at 2 o'clock, the Rev. Royal B. Fishbeck Jr. officiating.

The bearers were Leland Johnson, Donald Grant, Clarence Van DerVeer and Robert Seeley. Interment
was in Green Hill Cemetery.

Attending the service from out of town were Stuart Clizbe, Mrs. Joseph Maier, Mrs. Wesley Cooper, Mrs. James Magin, Miss Myra Maier, Arthur Fisher, Mr. and Mrs. William Steffen, Raymond Sheley,  Albany, Mrs. Fannie Van Buren, East Greenbush; Mrs. Lulu Finkle, Mrs. Herman Sumner, Selkirk.









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Have You Heard the News? Jun. 5th, 2014 @ 09:48 pm
A chapter from my book, Where Do We Find Such Men? in remembrance of those who served on June 6, 1944.



Brig. Gen. Allen Kimball is given the most important assignment of his life, and arguably the most important assignment of World War II, beginning on March 1, 1944 when he becomes Deputy Chief Quartermaster for the European Theater of Operations. He is responsible for supplying food, clothing and equipment to American troops stationed in Great Britain and fighting in France and onward, with an initial fifty huge supply depots under his direction with millions of square feet of storage space and several thousand men at his command.


A graduate of Amsterdam High School, he receives a congressional appointment to the Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1907. During the first World War he commands a company of infantry, and he begins a long career in the quartermaster corps with his assignment as Assistant Quartermaster at West Point in 1921, under the superintendency of Douglas MacArthur. At various times he serves as Chief Quartermaster at the academy, and at stations in Panama and the Jefferson Barracks in Missouri, and as representative for the assistant Secretary of War on the War Budget Advisory Committee, and at the Quartermaster Staff School in Philadelphia.

The long-anticipated liberation of Europe is about to begin. It is Kimball's job to keep those supplies flowing so that the operation doesn't begin and end on a beach.


Sgt. Malcolm Tomlinson's war continues. Cornwall would be their home for the next half-year, and at least they speak a form of English there. Early in 1944 both Tomlinson and his buddy Garn are selected with four others from a battalion of 600 men to attend Officers Candidate School. It takes Eisenhower himself to overrule the selection. He can't spare the veteran non-coms from what will be needed ahead.

Headquarters Company of the Second Battalion boards three landing craft in Torquay on June 3, 1944, prepared to sail on the 4th. Hardly out of the harbor, the landing is called off and they return. Early on the morning of the 5th they board again. They pass through British mine fields. They pass through cleared German mine fields (though a nearby minesweeper blows up, killing several, wounding many, and sinking fast). By nightfall they are anchored ten to fifteen miles off the coast of Normandy.

Later they watch as planes carrying paratroopers and towing gliders fly low overhead.

The last plane briefly turns on its red tail light while passing over the fleet, blinking away in Morse Code immediately recognizable to all.

DIH-DIH-DIH—DAH.

V.

For Victory.


D-Day, June 6, 1944. Preparing the way into Normandy are the paratroopers and the engineers.

Pvt. Daniel Klute of Amsterdam is aboard one of those planes, sitting quietly, nervously as they approach the coast at night. The men stand in line, the signal is given, and before he can even comprehend what is happening, he hurtles through space.

The chute opens and jerks him alert. It seems like it takes forever to land as he passes over marshes and fields.

He hits the ground with a thud, stands up, rifle in hand and finds himself face to face with a startled German soldier. He waves his rifle and addresses the German in a universal language.

Scram!”

The German cheerfully obeys and Klute walks away in search of his unit.


Fellow paratrooper Pfc. Harold Premo is not so lucky. The Malone, NY native who had been living with his sister on Florida Avenue when inducted is Amsterdam's first Supreme Sacrifice on the Longest Day.


Eighteen-year-old Richard Dantini from the South Side heads for shore with the famous Company A of the 116th Inf. Regiment1 in the first wave to hit the worst part of Omaha Beach, Dog Green, directly in front of outposts guarding the Vierville draw and subject to flanking fire from emplacements to the west, near Pointe de la Percee.

Of the 197 men in his company, only 18 are still fighting two hours later. All of the officers are killed or wounded in the first ten minutes, and most of the sergeants as well. Seventy per cent of the casualties come in the first half hour.

Scared? Oh my God was I scared! Everybody was. Men were praying, crying, getting sick. It was hell,” he will remember vividly almost half a century later.

One of the company's six landing craft flounders while still 1,000 yards off shore. The men hit the water with their heavy packs and drown. The Germans open fire at five hundred yards. Another LCA is blown up. The four that make it through are grounded in 4-6 feet of water still 30 yards beyond the outward band of beach obstacles.

Dantini is the third man out. The first, a lieutenant, takes a round in the neck and dies in the surf. Dantini fires three or four clips from his rifle, then takes cover behind a concrete obstruction in the water. When he finally notices the live floating mine attached to it he decides to take his chances and heads for the beach.

He only makes it twenty or thirty feet before being hit the first time, a shot to the arm. He keeps going.

Once on the beach, he bends over to help a wounded comrade. They come under machine gun fire and the friend and a medic die right there, while Dantini is hit in the right leg.

The longest hour and a half in his life has passed since exiting the landing craft. The tide is coming in, and the Germans are shooting at anything that moves, and quite a few that don't.

I started to crawl-- I tried to get up, but I couldn't. And then I got hit for the third time – the worst – it was in my left leg.”

His body resembling bloody swiss cheese, he manages to creep behind a rock at the edge of his sector before losing consciousness. The next day, after the fighting has moved inland, a crew assigned to recover the bodies of the dead finds him alive, barely.

After thirteen months of recovery in military hospitals, he makes it home and resumes the life of a neighborhood grocer.


Being Gen. Eisenhower's barber doesn't exempt Nick Fratangelo from service on D-Day, and his future competitor Arthur Iannuzzi is there as well.

The son of an American citizen, Iannuzzi's father had brought him to America from his native Italy on the last boat the Mussolini regime allowed to leave for the United States before they declared war on us. He was sixteen. Two years later, having safely avoided the Italian draft, he receives his greetings from President Roosevelt.

He is part of a cannon platoon. Their orders are to remain off-shore until the beach has been cleared. As it happens, that takes three days. Stranded on a small launch, artillery fire lands all around them. “When you have the big guns, it's very easy to get hit, so they don't send you in until near the end. When we got there, though, there were a lot of wounded and dead soldiers. The beach was covered with them. I was scared and thinking, 'I don't want to die.'”

Others didn't see the sunset on June 6.

Pvt. John J. Schilling, 19, of Tribes Hill, a 1942 graduate of Wilbur H. Lynch High School has his rendezvous with death storming the beaches as a member of an anti-aircraft machine gun unit.

Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Foti, 23, has been in the Infantry since 1939, and wounded in North Africa. He had returned to action in time to take part in the decisive push on Troina in Sicily. When asked to compare his experiences at the time, he tells a war correspondent, “I don't know if there is any particular difference between here and Tunisia, but I do know we didn't have to do so much walking and climbing in Tunisia.”

D-Day is his last day.


Garn and Tomlinson are attached to the 4th Infantry Division, whose Assistant Commander, Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., lands with the first wave on Utah Beach. In the current and smoke they have drifted a mile south of their target and form the far right flank of the D-Day invasion. Roosevelt personally scouts the area and throws away the plans. “We'll start the war from here,” he says.

Wave after wave follow. The first of Malcolm Tomlinson's Headquarters Company to die takes a bullet to the forehead while still in the landing craft.

They land at low tide, just as the tide begins to turn (there's a twenty foot difference between low and high tide at Utah Beach) giving the engineers a window of opportunity to clear the obstructions and secure the beach exits while the infantry rounds up the enemy. The Higgins Boats soon reload with prisoners of war, and the combination of effective naval and aerial bombardment and airborne troops securing the inland routes results in remarkably low casualties at Utah. The sounds from Omaha Beach are not as encouraging.

Tomlinson and Garn are in a defensive platoon setting up 57mm guns. From behind the beach they are able to look out to the English Channel and see an armada such as the world has never seen, more than five thousand vessels extending from horizon to horizon: landing craft, destroyers, cruisers, battleships. Shells fly over their heads toward inland targets, the noise deafening. They follow a road running lateral to the beach about a thousand yards. Garn's squad digs in, and Tomlinson's passes by with a bulldozer hauling their big gun. A few moments later the dozer hits a land mine and the driver flies through the air landing 25 feet from the machine. Other men are wounded and a medic from Garn's squad rushes to assist, steps on a mine and gets blown in half. They all hit the deck. Garn then realizes his hand has come to rest only inches away from another mine.


News of the D-Day invasion begins trickling into Amsterdam about 6 a.m. on June 6, 1944. Bulletins from the Recorder are posted around town. The churches open, and at the direction of Bishop Gibbons every Catholic church in the Diocese of Albany has exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

At Wilbur H. Lynch Senior High School, a program is quickly put together and 18 year old Senior Class President Walter Tatara addresses his schoolmates:


Today has been set aside as a day for prayers, for mercy and grace. Throughout the land many hearts are heavy because D-Day has finally arrived and with it will come the horrible news of tragedies of war. Right now, someone very dear to us may be lying wounded or bleeding on a battlefield. We have got to prepare ourselves for whatever news is to come. Will our enemy's zeal for the cause of anti-God overcome our indifference to God?
In times of peace, prosperity, good times, how easy it is to ignore God, but as soon as we are subjected to pain, suffering, confusion, turmoil, we immediately turn to our Almighty Father and pray reverently for aid. Right now we need God's intercession in this struggle. We should be united as never before, and we should all lift our hearts in prayers, whether we be Protestant, Jewish or Catholic. Let our prayers be sincere, simple, and uttered from the bottoms of our hearts. In that way we will become more powerful than any weapons used in this war. Our boys will be comforted in knowing that we, here at home, are praying for them to have strength and courage so that they may walk hand in hand with God, unafraid and prepared for whatever may befall them.
Students, do we take this war seriously? Do we hope for a better world after this war? Some of us do because we realize that this world in the next fifty years will be what we make it. It won't be better unless we ourselves make it better. We must have strength in character, a purpose in life, and above all, faith in God. We, in the United States, are fortunate because we are a Christian nation and we can speak our thoughts without being afraid of a dictator shutting us up.
Let us hope and pray it will always remain that way.
Thank God for America.

The program continued as follows:


Flag Salute
"Star Spangled Banner"
Entire School
Solo—"The Lord's Prayer"
Albert Sochin
2
Song—"America the Beautiful"
Entire School
Reading—"Recessional" -Rudyard Kipling
Evelyn Moyer
Song—"Onward Christian Soldiers"
Entire School

Later, when he has time to reflect, Guy Murdoch writes to his Dutch Hill boys around the globe in the June issue of the Uniteds PX:

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944 will go down in history as D-Day. Owing to the five hour difference in our time from Greenwich time, we here in Amsterdam learned of the invasion of Normandy about six a.m. that morning. On the way to work we noticed that some of our neighbors had already put their flags up, and on arrival at the office everyone asked the same question, "Have you heard the news?”

A few minutes later I learned that a small radio was in operation in one of the large near-by offices. Little attention was being given to the regular business as reports were continuously given of the progress of the landings on the beaches. The size and strength of the naval armada, the landing craft, the opposition, the terrific bombardment of the defenses, the details of the beaches and the difficulty to be overcome and the excited tones of the commentators all created an atmosphere of awe and wonder that nothing else on earth could have done. The girls around the radio stood tense and hopeful, drinking in every word; serious and awe-stricken, and all had the same question in their minds, "Is he in it?"

Husbands and brothers of some were in it, but no one knew it then. About an hour of this and then to work. The radio was turned down but the girl at that particular desk turned it up when official announcements were made. The invasion was on, D-Day at last, long expected and waited for, the day we longed to hear about yet dreaded.

You people really know about D-Day, we do not, for many of you have known other D-days although they were not designated as such. In New Guinea at Port Moresby, Buna, Lae and Salamana in the Solomons, at Guadalcanal and Bougainville, in New Britain at Rabaul and Cape Gloucester, in the Gilbert Islands at Makin and Tarawa, and in the Marshalls at Kwajalein and Eniwetok, there were days that were D-days to many of you. In North Africa, Casablanca, Rabat, Algiers, Oran, Bougie, Phillipville, Bizerte, and Cape Bon had many days which to those of you who were there did not have any distinctive letter that was known to the world.

Then Sicily saw certain days at Cape Passero, Comiso, Mazzarine, Palermo and Messina and many other places. Then on to Italy one day to Salerno, Naples, Oassino, Anzio, Rome and on to Florence and Pisa. And in India you were going over the Big Hump of the Himalayas to China, every trip designated by a question mark. And so the days go on, marked by some code or other, but each one by itself THE DAY.

What about D-day in Amsterdam? Just a job to do, maybe a loom to fix, or some weaving to do, or finishing, or maybe just looking at things and saying yes, you get 'em or no, they're not good enough. Through our factories here examining cotton and duck, miles of it, in the plant in Rockton. At the lower mill, more duck and as we were headed over the tracks to the place where the processing plant is located we were halted. Long freight trains, carrying strange cargoes, some things covered up, others not, but it gave me a thrill to see them thunder past for they were going out to you. These were the things that helped to bring about D-day, and we felt like saluting as they hurried on.

To the processing department down by the river to see that tarpaulin cloth is waterproofed and fireproofed. And down the river came a fleet of LSTs and we wished we could deliver them to their destination. From there to Harrowers and the blanket mill where things really happen to help keep you comfortable. Then back to the tarpaulin department where they are completed and shipped. Sometimes we think we do a deal of traveling but we carry no pack and we are not disturbed. Amsterdam used to be a quiet and peaceful place engaged mainly in making carpets and rugs. It is still peaceful, but has many new engagements with you fellows out there. More radio news and reports are very encouraging, truly it is a great team.

On the way home I noticed, as I have often done, a little gray house on a corner. In the window there's a service flag with four stars. Three sons and a son-in-law from that one house. August 7th, 1942, was the first D-day for that particular home when Jack went ashore on Guadalcanal with the Marines and he has had many similar days in other places and is still out there. He must have used up all the letters in the alphabet by this time.

Then Dicky had his D-day on June 6th in Normandy and so did the little gray house on the corner. Bucky is still on this side and is ready. The son-in-law is also here. A quiet little house of gray on the corner and the number is 435 Locust Ave. The lady of the house is Mrs. Geib, God bless her, and the music from the radio on the evening of D-day as I heard it was "Goodnight, wherever you are.”

This was D-day in Amsterdam; tomorrow will be D plus one.


Tomlinson and Garn are not privy, of course, to the overall success of the operation, but as the day grows longer and night falls they become more and more encouraged by the sounds of war fading further and further into the distance. That night, in fact, dug into foxholes next to their guns, they sleep better than they have in days. Their only annoyance comes from a lone German plane that nightly, around midnight, drops a single bomb and goes on his way.

On the morning of the third day Malcolm Tomlinson begins to move his squad for a destination further inland, walking along the road. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt's jeep, sans general, comes by and strikes a mine on the road's edge. The driver is killed, the jeep destroyed.

Tomlinson looses his good eardrum and once again has his faced ripped apart, this time by flying debris.

They give him an oak leaf cluster for his Purple Heart.


Pvt. Lewis Harrower goes ashore with the combat engineers on D-Day and continues inland for several more days until he finds a chance to snuggle up in a Normandy foxhole and write home to his mother in Hagaman. D-Day was “some experience,” he tells her. But right now he's not reliving the battle. He's simply dreaming of a warm bath and clean clothes to replace the ones that are growing on him, and maybe a little peace.

And he's thankful for God's peace. Hasn't run into a foxhole atheist yet, he makes sure to tell his mother. He doesn't know a man who isn't thanking God for bringing him safely through that landing.


* * *


V...-Mail

Francis J. Going, SK 2/c
Navy 168 c/o Fleet PO
New York, N.Y.
June 19, 1944

Dear Mom,

I'm sorry that I haven't written you sooner but I honestly haven't been able to. This is the first letter I've been allowed to write and will probably be the only one for a time so please be patient and don't worry.

I'm safe and well so there is no cause for worry. We received our first mail in some time yesterday and yours of June 6 was among them. I also received the first copy of the newspaper but no packages. As yet I have only received your last package. I remembered the baby's birthday and was thinking of her yesterday but unfortunately I was in no position to send greetings of any sort. Please tell sis that I didn't forget anyhow. I'll make it up to the kid some day. Have been attending Mass and receiving Communion daily as we have the Catholic Chaplain with us. I thank God for that opportunity. It's a great help at a time like this. My love to all and regards to Des. Please continue to write and be patient until you hear from me.

All my love

Bud


[June 19 is the day he leaves England for Normandy. But don't worry.]


A fair number of the Bigelow-Sanford Uniteds take part one way or another in the D-Day invasion and subsequent campaign.


UPX, July-August 1944, from Milt Yates in European waters: I'm ok after taking part in the invasion of France on D-Day. We really were there to see the excitement and it was plenty exciting. I wouldn't have missed it.


From Carl Hartig in Normandy: Landed D-Day and we've been sort of busy for the past month and a half. . . . [K]ept going until Cherbourg fell; hope the rest of the Huns give up so we can get back home.


From Bruno Petruccione, somewhere in France: The place looks like anyplace else. . . . Still in France looking over the situation. All I have to do is pick up a newspaper to see how the war is going. Guess this can't be the part of France that everyone raves about because I can't see anything very wonderful around here.


From Harold “Peanuts” Brown, in France: Well, here I am over in war torn Normandy. Just got here a while ago and am getting along OK. The only trouble is trying to talk to those French people. I have to use the sign language on them. Some understand and some don't. One thing sure, you can get all the cider you want. Anyway, they call it cider. All I can say is, it sure has a lot of kick to it for cider. Also this cognac they have here. They call it bottled lightning. I'm a little bit afraid to take any. They say it will make your toe nails bend over. Maybe so.


From James Jasper, somewhere in Italy: after reading your description of D-Day which was very good, I started to think of where we were when we heard the news. Yes, we were up around 21,000 feet and had just come off an important target in the Balkans which at that time was on the receiving end of a bombing mission. We were all congratulating our Ball Turret Gunner on his 200 and some odd gun salute he had received for his birthday. Our Ball Turret Gunner was answering us over tinter-phone saying “Well fellows I didn't ask for that many guns” and just then someone tuned in and said, “Turn to Liaison” and we all did and they were announcing the first reports of the invasion. So you see we were flying high when we heard the Great News of D-Day.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe:


From Johnny Campbell in Saipan: Just a few lines from Saipan and a toast to the taking of Tojo's front porch. The fighting has been darn tough these past few weeks and I'm ready to come home for a rest now. Seventeen months over here and seven to go before I am eligible for leave. I'll be skin and bone if I have another one like this. I went down to 163 pounds. Occasional snipers and small groups bother heck out of us and we go chasing then through the hills. They run like scared rabbits with our boys after them. I've lost quite a bit of my running ability, but the Japs still can't out-run me. It is actually comical sometimes when they scatter and take off for a cave somewhere. It's just like skeet shooting. This is rather short, but I haven't much time. Knock on wood and I believe I'll come through this in one piece.


1Bedford, Virginia, a village of some 3,200 souls in 1944, loses 19 sons in Company A on D-Day, and three more later in the Normandy campaign

2Contemporaries remark about what a good singing voice Albert Sochin has in high school. After serving in the war, he takes up a musical career, and, under the name Albert DaCosta (his mother's maiden name), performs for seven seasons with the Metropolitan Opera. He then stars with several companies in Europe, where he dies in a car accident in 1967 at the age of 40.

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Father Rutler Says . . . May. 10th, 2014 @ 06:58 pm



FROM THE PASTOR
May 11, 2014

by Fr. George W. Rutler

The singular and mysterious events surrounding the apparitions at Fatima in 1917, which will be celebrated on May 13, were deemed by the Church to be, while not essential doctrine since all revelation ended with the death of the last apostle, certainly “worthy of belief.” In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said that they have a “permanent and ongoing significance” which “could even be extended to include the suffering the Church is going through today.” Last year on October 13—the anniversary of the “Miracle of the Sun”—Pope Francis consecrated the world to Mary, standing before a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

   The Church suffers in many ways, most conspicuously (even if neglected by much of the secular media) by physical persecution in many countries. Indeed, this oppression is on the increase. On May 2, the Holy Father said in an apparent reference to Syria, “I cried when I saw reports on the news of Christians crucified in a certain country, that is not Christian.”

   A more subtle form of suffering is by heresy. The word means choosing a wrong understanding of the truth, and this can be more dangerous than physical wounds, as it damages souls and not just bodies. Martyrdom glorifies and enriches the Church, while the spread of error weakens the Body of Christ on earth.

   While frequently lauding the inestimable gift of women religious to the Church through their work of prayer, education and manifold charities (one quarter of all the world’s humanitarian institutions are sponsored by the Catholic Church, many of them through women religious), Pope Francis has called attention to heresy among some communities of consecrated religious. His Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, said in an official letter on April 30, that they have succumbed “to fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the Incarnation of Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ in the Paschal Mystery.” The Prefect expressed concern that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, in particular, has endorsed certain kinds of teaching that offer “a vision of God, the cosmos, and the human person divergent from or opposed to Revelation {and that endorsement of such a vision} evidences that a de facto movement beyond the Church and sound Christian faith has already occurred.”

   Demographically, misguided communities are fading away in their embrace of ephemeral heresies, while many new Orders are growing by the strength of “powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14). These declines caused by error and the simultaneous growth nurtured by truth have a parallel in the life of local churches, too. “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18). As May is the month of Mary by virtue of its loveliness, it is prime time to ask her intercession for the whole Church, our archdiocese, our parishes and ourselves.       

 

 


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Father Rutler Says . . . May. 4th, 2014 @ 04:48 pm



FROM THE PASTOR
May 4, 2014

by Fr. George W. Rutler

In all the accounts of the Resurrection, there is surprise. If it had been expected, future generations might have said it was an hallucination. There was also confusion about Christ’s risen body: its ability to materialize in a room with locked doors and maintain its completely natural appearance while obscuring its identity. These were traits without precedent in human experience.

   On the road to Emmaus, those two men took for granted the figure that started to walk along with them, and even expressed a certain irritation at what seemed to be the Man’s ignorance of what had happened on Friday. Looking back, we can see this as a form of prayer. The two disciples were in conversation with the Lord, confiding in him their concerns and wondering at the same time if he was “on their wavelength.” If prayer is real, it will not be a stilted conversation like something read by rote from the back of a prayer card, however helpful such words may be as promptings. God is much more patient with us than we are with him.

   On the Emmaus road, the Lord calmly explains why things had to be the way they were, and in this he shows the teaching office of the Church. Still unaware of the Man’s identity, the disciples are nonetheless moved by his words and presence, rather like thoughtful agnostics. So they beg him to stay with them. In the wayside inn, he mysteriously becomes recognizable “in the breaking of the bread.” This is the Eucharistic revelation sung in the Mysterium Fidei of the Liturgy: “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” The Eucharist is a sacred meal, for it is Bread from Heaven, but the wounds that Christ retains on his risen body signal that this is also the sacrifice of Christ to the Father, a singular and perfect sacrifice that cannot be repeated, but that we share in by its timelessness.

   In 2004, St. John Paul II wrote: "Amid our questions and difficulties, and even our bitter disappointments, the divine Wayfarer continues to walk at our side, opening to us the Scriptures and leading us to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of God" (Apostolic Letter: Mane Nobiscum Domine, par. 2). When that Wayfarer vanishes, the two men rush out to tell others what has happened. This is the “Go forth” moment of the Mass, when the priest tells the people “Ite missa est”—you are sent.

   If there is no urgency to tell others about Christ, his Body the Church is misunderstood as an institution kept alive by bureaucrats who act as embalmers, cynically sustaining a corporate identity with mendacity and mummery. That is a formula for spiritual burnout. Such burnout is the malady of people who never were on fire to begin with. But those who encounter Christ say daily: “Did not our hearts burn within us…?”       

 

 


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Father Rutler Says . . . Apr. 28th, 2014 @ 01:29 am



FROM THE PASTOR
April 27, 2014

by Fr. George W. Rutler

Our Lord kept his promise: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). Like “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), the fullness of joy transcends the ordinary experience of happiness and may not even fit the common expectation of pure happiness. The women at the empty tomb were “fearful but overjoyed” (Matthew: 28:8). As the “fullness of joy” is an anticipation of heaven, it will inevitably involve certain tension, so long as we are in time and space. To “burst with joy” or to “weep for joy” expresses the agony of ecstasy—the price paid for encountering perfection in an imperfect world. But in heaven there is no conflict or contradiction, no exasperation at not being able to contain joy.

   The culminating evidence of sanctity is a joy that is not of this world. Saints always suffer in various ways as a consequence of their heroic virtue, which pits them against the “wickedness and snares of the Devil,” but there is no such thing as a sad saint. The saints are proof of the existence of God and his mercy by their very lives, which are testimonies greater even than miracles or the logic of natural theology. On Divine Mercy Sunday, the Church rejoices and publicly recognizes by infallible decree the holiness of Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II. These are the first popes to be canonized since St. Pius X, who died in 1914 and was enrolled in the calendar of saints in 1954.

   Every saint is different in personality and in ways of serving the Lord, and for that reason certain ones will strike a sympathetic chord more readily than others. Some would have been easy to live with, and others decidedly difficult, but failure to rejoice in their sanctity is a judgment against us rather than against them. There is a line no less perceptive for having been mistakenly attributed to Plato: “We can easily forgive the child who is afraid of the dark, but the real tragedy is the adult who is afraid of the light.” Sanctifying grace enables the Light of Christ to shine not on, but through souls. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

   The Paschal candle having been lit, the joy of Easter continues, and as it does the Divine Mercy gives us new saints to help us through the valleys and hills of our days on earth. The motto of St. John XXIII was “Oboedientia et Pax” and that of St. John Paul II was “Totus Tuus.” Obedience to Christ brings peace, and if we give all we are to his mother, we will be able to rejoice with the saints.       

 


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RIP F. Reid Buckley Apr. 16th, 2014 @ 09:33 am
Every once in a while I meet someone to whom I take an instant liking, and it really doesn't matter what they are or where they came from. So it came to pass in the early autumn of 1970 when, in my capacity as President of the Young Conservatives at the State University of New York at Albany, I received a phone call asking if I could, on very short notice, host an appearance on campus of F. Reid Buckley, the youngest son of the precocious Buckleys of Sharon, Connecticut. Brother William F. Buckley, Jr., founder of National Review and host of television's Firing Line, was then in his prime, and brother James L. Buckley then in the middle of his second campaign for United States Senator from New York. This took place some years before their nephew Brent Bozell married Amsterdam's Norma Petruccione (a distant cousin of my granddaughter).



I don't think I had even been aware of Reid's existence until receiving that call. He spent much of his adult life in Spain plodding away as a not particularly successful novelist, though not for lack of talent, as his works show great imagination and deft turns of phrases. (As I have learned myself, the key to success involves more than a good product. You have to figure out a way to get people to read what you've written.)

The rather vague message I received indicated that Mr. Buckley wished to lecture on the subject of bull fighting, so I dutifully booked a room, ran off some quicky posters and stuck them on pillars and bulletin boards all over campus. All things considered, we gathered a fairly respectable and mixed crowd and Mr. Buckley breezed in on schedule, flashing a dazzling smile, and promptly began talking about the importance of conservatism and his brother's campaign, much to the puzzlement of the audience, and my own, though it was a fine talk for a worthy cause, In the q&a that followed, though, he did field some bull fighting inquiries and all ended without incident or rancor.

Afterwards we retired to the campus Rathskeller for a brew and more conversation. If there's one talent shared by the Buckleys, it is the ability to talk effortlessly, brilliantly, humorously and warmly, and my beer with Reid was pure delight.

I only met him one more time after that, a couple of months later at the Waldorf-Astoria the night his brother improbably became the Senator-elect from New York. The returns hadn't come in yet, but the mood was upbeat, and we exchanged exhilarated pleasantries on what would become a most glorious night.

More than four decades have passed. I look forward to seeing him again.

I can think of very few more pleasant ways to spend eternity.
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