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Monday, August 11, 2014

"Divine Time"...

is a song/story written by my father, Bruce Robert B, beginning with an actual dream he had about St. Philomena before he had ever heard of her. Since today is the feast of St. Philomena (Santa Filomena, in Itlaliano!), and this week marks 20 years since the events depicted in the song occurred, I thought it "timely" to post the lyrics/narrations text below, as well as the link to our musical recording of the song from 2007:

"Divine Time"

In Your Divine Time, Lord, in Your Divine Time,
One chime at a time, in Your Divine Time

Thy Will be done on earth as in Heaven

The following testimony tells of the Providential Care of The Blessed Trinity. It is a hopeful message for those devout souls who have prayed through the intercession of the Angels and of the Saints for God's miraculous intervention, trusting their loved ones to His Mercy as He interweaves His Heavenly Guides as threads of hope within the tapestry of our lives in His Divine Time. 

In Mother Mary's month 
We honor Joseph too
On that first of May
Patron of worker's day
And Head of our Homes

I had a dream that night 
A distant, lucid view
A scene beyond belief
Of one entombed beneath
Engraved stones

A sweet serenity
Was flowing through the breeze
I didn't see her face
Wasn't e'er a trace
To explain her

It seemed I knew the name
Of she who once was there
Before her soul took flight
Into Heaven's light

Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord

   We were inspired to trace the life of this 13-year-old, 3rd century martyr whose relics were discovered in the catacombs of Rome in 1802 with tiles inscribed "Pax Tecum, Filomena". Enshrined in Our Lady of Grace Church in Mugnano, many were favored by miracles, declaring her "The Wonder Worker of the 19th Century", and through private revelation, she revealed her story. 

I was a princess
With my family
Went to visit Rome
Far away from home
We were Grecian

An evil emperor
Wished to marry me
Possessed with envious pride
I vowed to be Christ's bride
Not Diocletian's

For thirty-seven days
Imprisoned, tortured too
Then Our Lady came
Three days more of pain
And sacrifice

The arrows turned around
Anchors ropes unbound
Though they beheaded me
God saved my purity
To Paradise

Santa Filomena, ora pro nobis! 

    She was proclaimed Patroness of the Living Rosary and the Children of Mary. St. John Vianney made her known throughout Europe. In America, we had litanies, novenas, and processions in her honor, and we believe she did intercede. After five years of Holy Matrimony, my wife was with child. We went in thanksgiving to her shrine. Blessed with her relic, my bride broke into a fever. Anticipating the baby's early arrival, we were rushed through the feast day celebration by the shrine's maestro, Nello, to Avellino's hospital at the foot of the Mount of the Virgin. 

There is a sacred place
In old world Italy
High up near the clouds
Where the faithful crowds
Ascend and pray

This ancient pilgrimage
To Monte Virgine
From the valley goes
Through Avellino's
Village Archway

On our Queen's vigil
In St. Anne's Hospital,
An answered novena
Our beloved Bambina
Sunday was born

We heard the chapel bells
Echo in the eve
While processing priests
Rang in the August Feast
Of Assumption morn

Ave Maria, Gratia Plena!

     She was born 3 months early, and we were told that she didn't survive. As we offered her to God and named her Filomena Marie, the breath of life appeared. The nurses called her "Piccola". Our little doll graced us for just 15 days before ascending to Paradiso. She rests in a white mausoleum in Mugnano in the Provence of Avellino. Fr. Giovanni and the parishioners of the Sanctuario beseeched their miraculous saint for another blessing. After 40 days in the country of the Eternal City, we returned to America and our home in Maryland where we soon conceived our lovely Avellina Marie. 

Blessed be the Holy Trinity!
You've come into our lives with your charity!
The first fruit of our new family tree
This precious gift you have given 
We offer to thee

Through the anointed hands of Padre Giuseppi
Baptized into heaven was she,
Santa Filomena Marie
As we lift up our voices to Thee
With Avellina Marie

In Your Divine Time, Lord, in Your Divine Time,
One chime at a time, in Your Divine Time

In Your Divine Time, Lord, in Your Divine Time,
One chime at a time, in Your Divine Time

Msgr. Giovanni Braschi celebrates mass at the reliquary of St. Filomena 

The Sanctuario of Santa Filomena would deeply appreciate any donations to propagate
the devotion of St. Philomena and maintain her Shrine in the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace,
Mugnano del Cardinale, Avellino, Italy.

The donation page is here:

In thanksgiving for the kindness, hospitality, and prayers of Msgr. Giovanni, the Shrine Staff, and the good people of Mugnano, proceeds from "Divine Time" online track will be contributed to their worthy cause.

St. Philomena, powerful with God, pray for us!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Announcing an Epic Literary Launch!!!

As most of you know, I have been involved in an online magazine for Catholic homeschoolers and homeschool graduates hitherto known as Expressions. It was run off a private blog, combining the talents of aspiring young authors and guest writers from different backgrounds across the globe who brought to the table a diversity of styles and subject matters covering genres including poetry, fiction, non-fiction, fanfiction, how-to's, etc. Since the majority of our staff are keen fans of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, that always featured heavily in the topic selection as well! 
   Now, we have changed our title to:

 The Fellowship of the King: 
Literary Expressions of Catholic Homeschoolers and Homeschool Graduates

   Not only that, but for the first time, we have decided to put the best of our works PUBLIC on a brand new site, featuring the writings of 22 authors (13 staff, 9 guest)! Please feel free to check it out here:

   We hope you enjoy our artistic efforts! We are currently in the process of doing a major overhaul of all our past stuff, asking everyone what they want out, revising, rearranging, reorganizing...well you get the picture! As the process continues, we are aiming to put out a little bit at a time in a fairly steady flow of material. Once we finish with that, we'll start posting new works as well, and go back to a more chronological method. There's bound to be a little bit of something for everyone: History, Fantasy, Theology, Philosophy, Tolkien, Entertainment, Politics, Current Events, More Tolkien, Fun Facts, Arts n' Crafts, etc. etc!

   Since we are new to the wide world of the public blogosphere, we would be most appreciative if you would consider signing up as followers to our blog, reading and commenting, and spreading the word about us! For those involved in homeschooling co-ops and church programs, please do forward this on to your groups! If you are a Catholic homeschooler or homeschool graduate who loves to write, please get in touch with me through this blog about possibly joining the staff. If you are not Catholic or homeschooled (or one but not the other) and would still be interested in writing for us in a guest capacity, feel free to get in touch as well! 

Our Literary Launch is underway!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

King's Mountain, South Carolina. July 21, 2014

I see where you fell, Ferguson. They tell me you were struck by a dozen bullets and dragged down this hill with your leg caught in the stirrup. Easily said. Did you know what was happening then, or was it all a blur? Did you see your life flash before you, as the trees looming heavily faded away? 

Ferguson, did you ever resign to your defeat and death? Did you ever know what hit you, in the cloud of searing smoke that blinded your eyes like your pride? What do you think of it all now? Are you sorry for those who fought under you, your young Tory Troopers? Do you pity Virginia Sal, who shared your bed and your flaming hair? Did you ever really love her, or was she just for pleasure to pass the time?

Do the scenes of your final hours play over and over again for you? Are you swinging your sword again, blowing your silver whistle, riding high? Do you know how it all ends? Does it tear your heart like the bullets? Or is it hate that keeps you from sadness? Have you forgiven those whom you fought, and those who killed and mutilated you? Are you lying in heaven or hell tonight, or are you some ghost betwixt or between, or locked in a cell of purging fire? Did you ever make your peace with God?

Ferguson, what if we had met before the war, at some gala in Edinburgh or exhibition in London? Would I have enjoyed your company? Would I have had the opportunity of hearing you play the fiddle, or test your skill at arms? I wonder, would we have written letters back and forth? Would I have commented how fine your script was before the bullet smashed your right arm? Would we have fought the battle of wits I have fought with other young men? Would I have been charmed?

What if we had met during the war? What if my family had been rebels? Would you have burned us out, razing the house and barns, and turned my green valley to brown? Would my father have been killed in your Egg Harbor attack, when your troops bayoneted sleeping men? Would my glistening tears have fallen on the scorched ground like sparks, blazing with hatred for you? Would I have rejoiced on the day of your death? Or would I have found it in my heart to forgive you?

What if I had been a Tory, who saw you as the savior of of a harried people? Would have followed your band your King and Country? Would I have been on the mountainside on the last long night? Would I have sung you that final song, or plaited your long red hair? Would I have unbound your tattered plaid, and wrapped you in rawhide? Would I have been among the women who buried their men in shallow graves, and wailed as the crows cawed?

Can you feel the rocks being thrown on your grave for shaking a fist at the King of Heaven and losing your bet to the Rebels of Hell? Do you laugh as the stones pile up, or do they fuel your anger...or cause fresh pain? What about your monument, with the lion and the unicorn? Surely that makes you happy. Take it, Ferguson, as a sign we wish you well. Your old enemies still dread your fierceness, the tip of your bayonet, the flame of your torch. But you spared Washington on a point of a huntsman’s honor. And you said you didn’t regret it.

Do you miss the misty moors where you hunted in "The Land of Cakes"? Do you yearn for the voice of the fiddle? Do you long for the feel of the sword and the rifle in your hand? Do you miss the grand parties where you were the toast of the table, and the beautiful ladies you wooed? Can you feel the rain seeping through ground, like the tears your mother shed for her “Gentle Pattie”? Do you miss her, and the family you loved so well? Do the bones of Sal, mingled with your own, keep you company? Or are you lonely now with nothing but your fame and infamy to comfort you in a strange land?

 I’ll toss a stone on your grave, Ferguson, like all the others do. Then I’ll mutter a prayer under my breath and sing you a song from your home. Did you ever learn Gaelic on your Highland estate? Whether you did or not, it is the language of the lament, and you loved fine music. Mostly Scots fought up here, fought against each other for differing ideals, drawn together by a single destiny. Surely it would be fitting to sing in the old tongue, would it not? I hope you’ll take it as a sign of friendship from me. In some ways, we were not so very different, you and I. The artist in us is the same, and the necessity of drawing courage from defeat. Perhaps we might see each other someday?

I wonder, has anyone thought to say a prayer or sing a song here, or have they just gawked at the rock-pile and told the old story, that you were struck by a dozen bullets and dragged down this hill with your leg caught in the stirrup…? 

Major Patrick Ferguson, British Officer, RIP

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ireland, the Fractured Emerald....

is a source of endless political controversy. My opinions on nationalism in Scotland and Ireland differ to some extent. For the former, quite obviously, my belief is that the movement is generally self-serving rubbish generated for nothing and based on nothing except erratic emotions and blatant power plays. While I still don’t necessarily agree with the latter, and heartily denounce terrorism on both sides, I can better understand Irish nationalist ideology and have some sympathy for the desire to bring about a United Ireland, just as I sympathize with the concept of retaining a United Britain.

    The British establishment, with its protectionist governments, religious prejudices, and cultural biases has had a history of being deplorable to the Irish people, lending fuel to the fire in a violent cycle of tribal sectarianism that still lingers on in the Emerald Isle. While the bulk of the Scottish people did indeed adopt a strong sense of Britishness during the 18th century, the Anglo-Irish Ascendency could easily claim Britishness while the common Irish people continued to be scorned as barbarians and second-class citizens.

    In spite of such obstacles put up by the ruling regime, most of the Irish continued to cling to their Catholic Faith and Gaelic culture. In the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Protestant governments stopped just short of genocide to make them abandon their identity, they just held fast to it all the more. “No Surrender” was the Catholic maxim as much it was the battle-cry of the Protestant settlers. Cromwell, who was instrumental in wiping out or selling off almost one half of the Irish Catholic population, made a snarky comment him being unable to get the people to “let go of their beads.”

    That having been said, there was any number of times in history when relations between Ireland and the rest of The British Isles might have taken a turn for the better. Had Mary I succeeded in turning England Catholic again and cementing papal support for her claim to Ireland, the lack of religious animosity would have softened the blow of conquest. Had the King James II managed to secure lasting religious toleration for both Catholics and Dissenters, it would have been more natural for his three kingdoms to draw together. The main moment of decision was in 1801 when King George had the opportunity to embrace Catholic Emancipation and refused to do so. And the Potato Famine is a subject far too broad to cover in depth here, but suffice to say, the British government cared more about not offending the Anglo-Irish land-owners than giving proper aid to the starving Irish populace.

    All these things are tragedies, since the union of Britain and Ireland could have been a great success story beneficial to The British Isles as a whole. As ever, I believe they would have been “better together” in the long run. But things happening as they did, it is little wonder that the Irish people became more and more disenchanted with monarchial government, which they saw as representative of their woes, and wanted to get themselves out from under the British establishment. To do so, Republican activists often exaggerated past sufferings to make the “Sassenachs” guilty for everything, including unavoidable social and economic changes. Anglo-Irish and Scots-Irish cultural achievements became purposely disconnected with the “real” Ireland, and anything good that developed during the time when Ireland was in the union was overlooked.

    Thankfully, historical and cultural studies in Ireland are gradually embracing a broader, multi-faceted approach. Emerging on a world stage, she is beginning to view things through an international lens, as is highlighted in the excellent documentary series The Irish Empire. While Northern Ireland still has its troubles, the goal of creating a peaceful settlement is still being pursued with a reasonable amount of success, and The United Kingdom and The Republic of Ireland have made closer moves towards friendship than ever before, with an excellent example set by Her Majesty, The Queen.

    But even with all this (or perhaps because of all this), I wonder if having Ireland divided is really a tenable position. It’s not just a matter of geography, after all, but contains manifold psychological factors on both sides. I have quite a few Ulstermen for friends, some of whom have done so much to support me in my unionist efforts. They rightly dread they would lose that very important aspect of their identity and economic security should a reunification of the island ever take place. On the other hand, I cannot help but sympathize with those who have always seen Ireland as a single nation and would like to see it reunified once again. It’s a form of “unionism” when you get down to it.

    I personally would be more than pleased to see the day that all of The British Isles were reunited into a single entity, but I highly doubt that is one the horizon. I do wonder if a compromise might ever be agreed upon if push comes to shove regarding reunification, something to the effect of Ireland, north and south, being reunited as a separate entity, but then becoming a commonwealth realm with the British Monarch as Head of State. Ireland would be equal to The United Kingdom of Great Britain under the title of The Kingdom of Ireland. And then maybe she could adopt a new, more distinctive flag. The harp and the crown on a green field, please? Or maybe the cross of St. Patrick, or an amalgamation of both? And maybe they could also settle on a national anthem to represent the whole island, both North and South, with enough punch to be inspirational, but not so much as to start radicals to rioting again.

    For this to be even vaguely workable in a broader context, I would advocate stronger ties being generated in The Commonwealth and the restoration of the title “British Commonwealth”, so that Britishness can clearly transcend The United Kingdom itself. Some have suggested the production of a single currency and interchangeable citizenship within The Commonwealth. While this may be virtually unworkable in reality, I think that theoretically it would serve to build a stronger sense of unity among them. All these ideas are a bit outside-the-box, but I believe in thinking outside the box. It is only when inexperienced people stop trying to present new solutions to old problems that things become hopeless. To hold to the “No Surrender” tradition that Irishman of all backgrounds have passed down, we must never let that happen.

(This article also appeared on "Open Unionism":

Kingdom of Ireland 2
An Independent Kingdom of Ireland...?