Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Friday, July 04, 2014

What Really Happened in 1776

In 1976 Bob Hope put out this record to celebrate America's Bicentenial. 38 years later it is still as fresh & funny as ever. In fact some of the jokes are even more topical today...





Monday, June 23, 2014

A Pope, an Empress, an Archbishop & Queen Nancy

OK, I am sure I have your attention. & some of you are wondering where I am heading. Well hold on because you are about to see how history is repeating itself.
Our story begins with Pope St. Silverius. 20 June was his feast day & I came across his story in Butler's Lives of the Saints on that day.


Pope Silverius

A little background on Pope Silverius before I get to his story. His father was Pope St. Hormisdas. Back then men who were married could be ordained priests. Silverius had followed his father in the ministry. At the time of his election, 8 June 536, he was only a subdeacon. There was some possible political intrigue involving his election. But nothing like what happened later when Silverius got on the wrong side of the Empress Theodora.


Empress Theodora 

While in Constantinople, Silverius's predecessor, Pope St. Agapiyus I had brought about the deposition of the then patriarch of Constantinople, Anthimus I.* He was a Miaphysite (a form of the monophysite heresy). The heresy denied that Jesus had 2 seperate natures, man & God, in one person.
In doing so, he got on the wrong side of Empress Thodora who was a monophysite & supporter of Anthimus. After Silverius' election, the empress wrote him a letter. In it she ordered Silverius to acknowledge Anthimus as the Bishop of Constantinople or come to Constantinople & reexamine the case. Silverius wrote a short letter to Theodora saying he neither could or would obey her unjust demands. Doing so, he said, would betray the cause of the Catholic faith.
Theodora then resolved to have him deposed. I won't go into the whole sordid story here I will say that she wrote a letter to General Belisarius ordering him to get rid of Silverius. He made false accusations including a fake letter that was supposedly written by Silverius to the king of the Goths. It accused him of inviting the king to take over Rome. As I said, it was a fake, as were all the other charges.  But he was deposed in a very shameful way. All I will add is that the new pope whom she contrived to get elected, Vigilus, didn't play along & upheld  the Catholic faith as well.
Why did Pope St. Silverius' story draw my attention? Simple, because of how Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was drawing the ire of Nancy Pelosi, among others for speaking on 19 June 2014 at a National Orginization for Marriage event in Washington DC. He was accused of  participating in an anti-LGBT event & that some of those participating were hate groups.


Queen (aka Pope) Nancy

Like the empress, Pelosi wrote Archbishop Cordileone telling him that what he was doing was wrong. She repeated the anti-LGBT charges & even misused Pope Francis's quote, "Who am I to judge?" to get him to support her heretical stand in support of so-called "gay-marriage."  I say misused becase she, like her friends in the liberal main stream media, ignored the rest of the statement where the Pope talked about the person trying to follow Jesus. In saying that, the Pope was talking about someone who was trying to live a celebate & chaste life, not someone who was openly living in sin by having sex outside of marriage between one man & one woman. In fact, defending marriage is something the Pope has spoken loud & clear about, both as Pope & as Cardinal in Argentina.
Pelosi has a long record of promoting stands that counter authentic Catholic teachings while claiming her heresies, like abortion is a sacrament & sacred are authentincly Catholic.



Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

But rather than give in to her, like Pope Sliverius, Archbishop Cordileone refuses to back down from upholding authentic Catholic teachings on marriage & said as much. He said that the event is simply affirming "marriage as the conjugal union of a husband and wife." He added  "Rest assured that if the point of this event were to single out a group of individuals and target them for hatred, I would not be there." He went & he spoke clearly, calling on those to love their opponants, a message repeated by others, just the opposite of what those attacking this event claimed it was.
That they make this claim is no surprise. Those supporting "gay rights" including that to marry, have long painted the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexual acts as hateful. They ignore the fact that the Church has always taught that any sexual act outside of marriage, including adultry, fornication & mastubation, are sinful as well.
1 of Pelosi's media supporters, SFGate, did an attack piece on the Archbishop dated 18 June. In it they said that they were suprised that the Archbishop was still going to speak at the event. Like so often in the past, those groups, like Family Research Council were painted as hatefilled because they spoke the truth about what the real LGBT agenda. In doing so, they ignored groups like NAMBLA that do push for legalizing pedophilia. I won't go into all their false charges made. 
Up to the end of the hit piece, they totally ignore that all he is doing is upholding authentic Catholic teaching. But if they did acknowledge it then they couldn't justify their claims that the Archbishop's actions were puzzling.
So when they finally get to what the Church teaches, they basically tell the Archbishop to shut up. The article says "Cordileone is flying across the country as the only announced representative of the Catholic Church to participate in an event that surely has little support in San Francisco. If the archbishop would like to take on gang violence or homelessness - the church-affiliated St. Vincent de Paul homeless shelter is one of the largest in the city - that would be fine.
But the fact is that this marriage crusade is his issue, not San Francisco's. There may be a place where his views would represent the community. This isn't it."
Yes, you read right, because they disagree with Church teaching on marriage they demand he not speak out on it. Let's just do the nice social justice things. Of course, without any mention of Jesus. 
They want 1 of the Church's shepherds to conform to their agenda & not go out & seek the lost sheep like Jesus did. Archbishop Cordeleone's responsibility is NOT to represent the views of the community. He is to call people to repentance, just like Jesus. That is what he is doing & they don't like it.
But it gets even worse. What do they say in the final line of the article? "Time for Cordileone to move on from San Francisco." In short they are working to drive him out, just like the empress used her minions to drive out Pope St. Silverious.
SFGate had better accept the fact that they won't get their way. He will not leave unless the Pope needs him more elsewhere. He will stay & keep speaking out. Given how things are going, he made come under physical attack including an attempt or 2 on his life. 
Archbishop Cordileone is clearly following in the steps of many brave Bishops, like Blessed Cardinal von Galen, & Pope Silverius. He has made it clear he will not be silent, no matter what those opposing him try.
Empress Theodora didn't get her way. Neither will Pelosi & her gang.
Finally, please pray for Archbishop Cordileone,# especially that God will protect him & continue to give him the strength & courage he needs to be a faithful shepherd.
________________
* As a sidenote, this removal of the patriarch of Constantinople by the Pope took place in the 6th Century. Clearly even then the Pope was recognized as more than just the 1st among equals. He had some authority over other Bishops that they didn't have over him.

# Cordileone is Italiano for heart of the lion. Clearly the Archbishop is living up to his name by showing courage in the face of these attacks.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland - The Facts Belie Their Claims



1 thing that is absolutely certain about Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH) is that they lie &/or obfuscate things to make them look like they are providing much needed services rather that being the abortion giant they are.
1 of those lies has been the need for their "clinics" in smaller communities to provide needed health care in rural areas. They said that the attacks on "telemed abortions" was an attack on the health care of those women's because banning them would cause them to have to close the smaller centers. Yet over the last few years, with "telemed abortions" still available, they have closed about 11 sites, mostly rural. Despite their claim there is a shifting need of services, the reality is that the sites are losing money & eating into profits.. They just announced the closing of 2 more rural sites.
The Des Moines Register brought up the Iowa Board of Medicine decision about "telemed abortions. It said "Planned Parenthood supporters say the decision was an attempt to limit rural women's access to a safe and legal method of abortion." 
It seems to me that PPH is the one limiting the access not the state or those of us who are Pro-life.
Also, the same PPH that said women need & want those services said about the latest closings " "The decision to close the health centers was based on an effort to eliminate inefficiency in resources - shifting the staff and equipment required for certain services from health centers where request for those services was low to areas where our patients are more densely located and availing themselves of our services," So much for the need they claim is there. If there truly was a need they would be expanding in rural areas not closing them.
This raises an interesting question: "What happened to the money they raised in a capital fund drive they were having?" Part of the money was supposed to expand into new rural areas where there was the so-called need for their services. As Jill June said on the Breaking New Ground website "we will break new ground with state-of-the-art health centers across our affiliate, including rural communities where there is a desperate need for our services."  
Speaking of so-called need, in Dubuque when they opened they operated a 40 hour schedule. That shrunk over the next couple of years. Now, at their new site, allegedly state-of-the-art, the still are not open full time. It only operates about 15 hours a week. & 2 of the 3 days it is open are the days they do "telemed abortions".
The reality is, the need they claim exists is only a cover to gain sympathy for their continued offering of telemed abortions in those areas where they can make huge profits off of it.
The last time anything was said about the campaign was in the 2012 Annual Report when they claimed to have raised $9.05 million of the $11.5 million goal. Yet the latest (2013) report says nothing about the drive or how the money has been used. It is as if it no longer exists. Additionally, the campaign website shows no update from the 2012 amount.
Speaking of the 2013 report, it gives a very minimal look at what their income/expenses where. Not that any past year has been that detailed. To maybe be a bit clearer minimal means only 1 pie chart for expenses, a minimal listing of income sources with no major details & no pie chart for revenue like they have in the past.
1 of those details is where they brag about providing $8,235,442 in uncompensated charity care . But when you look at the income they list for patient services v the expenses for health services the numbers do not add up.
On page 5 of the 2013 report the refer to the uncompensated amount as coming from health care services. On page 10 they list $22,693,241 for Health Services under expenses. Under income they list $17,219,377 for patient services. Since they have no details, I assume that amount would include cash, insurance, & medicaid. Now let's do the math. When you subtract the income from expenses you come up with $5,473,864 that was uncompensated. That is $2,761,578 less than the $8.25 million they claim. or 33.5% of the total amount they claim.
The only other place you might possibly put uncompensated services in expenses is Advocacy & Education. Just 1 problem there. It comes to $1,980,873. Even if you count 100% of that number as uncompensated care (very doubtful) you still end up about $.7 million short. Like I said the numbers don't add up.
Since we are on the subject of numbers, lets look at a few of the stats they give about the services they provide.
1 of those is the claim that abortions are only 2% of the services they provide. Is that true? Well, again that depends on how you play with the numbers.
They list contraceptive services at 146,775. Since they count each monthly prescription of the pill, 71% of the contraceptive services, that number is already inflated.
Add the fact that the same person who has an abortion also has had some of the other services, like birth control 1st, abortion may technically be 2%, but if you look at it as the percentage of people served you get another number
They claim to have served 72,948 people, male & female. They also say they provided 6367 abortions. That means that 8.7% of those they served had abortions. But even that may be inflated. That depends on whether they list each person only once, or the same person separately for each visit. Given their track record, I suspect the latter. So the number of those having abortions may be an even higher percentage, maybe even up to 50% based on what the average cost of an abortion is.
Since PPH doesn't list how much it made from abortions we have no idea what the actual income from them was or how much more than 2 of 8.5% it actually is. But I suspect it is much higher, maybe even up to 40% of their income.
Now let's look at the number of prescriptions for the pill, 104,210, omitting the other long range contraceptives & the morning after pill. That averages out to 8684 prescriptions a month. Now let's add that number to the other forms of contraception that aren't distributed monthly & you have approximately 51249 women served. I feel safe saying women as condoms are not listed at all.
Let's make 1 other assumption, everyone of the women who had an abortion also came to PPH for birth control we see that 12.4% of those who got cheap, low profit, birth control, mostly the low estrogen pill, came back for a more expensive, highly profitable abortion when it failed.
There is 1 last statistic I would like to look at, the tenure of the medical staff. The average tenure is 6.7 years. Given how long most of the sites have been open, at least 5 years, that makes for a pretty high turnover IMHO. & a lot less experience than PPH tries to make it sound like.
I could go on & on, but you get the idea. PPH isn't exactly as honest & forthcoming as they pretend to be.
Before I go, I would like to mention 1 more thing. On 21 June 2013 Jill June announced she would be leaving as president of PPH on 30 June 2014. The reason given for the early announcement was to give PPH plenty of time to find a "strong & dedicated successor." As of this date (8 June 2014) no announcement has been forthcoming as to who that person is. Given that June is making over $274,000 annually, it can't be poor pay that is the problem. So maybe they have found someone & don't want to give those of us on the Pro-life side any advance notice that will enable us to prepare for how that person will operate.
I will make 1 prediction, you can be sure that person will be just as adept at lying & deception as Jill June is.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Felice Compleanno to George Washington -



George Washington Troup, my grandfather, that is.

He was born 150 years ago today in Haggerstown, MD.
This is the only known picture of him & my grandmother Bertha Titlow Troup Mishler. Grandma was his 2nd wife. He had 16 children* & died on 1 Oct 1940 in Oelwein.
For those of you who wonder about the difference in the spelling of our last names here is the story I was told to explain it. When my father was in school at Sacred Heart along with a brother of his (can't remember which) , one of the Sisters of Mercy started adding the "e". He is supposed to have talked to the sister who refused to change it & told him he didn't know how to spell his own name.
He worked for the Chicago Great Western Railroad.
This is the only known picture of him & my grandmother together. I was told it was taken at a booth at a fair.
Sadly, I never knew him since he died 15 years before I was born.

* His 1st wife died & he then married my grandma. She remarried after his death & died in 1965. The 1st few children were by his 1st wife. The 16th was actually his granddaughter that was born out of wedlock & Grandma & Grandpa raised her as their own.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

2014 Virtual San Giuseppe Altar




Over the past few years it has been my blessed privledge to honor San Giuseppe by putting in a plug for the Virtual St. Joseph Altar that was started by Evann Duplantier in 1999. (This is the 16th year.) It was started in the tradition of the Sicilian St. Joseph Altars (aka tavola di San Giuseppe) in New Orleans. & while I am Calabrese, not Siciliano, I see no reason to let that stop me from spreading this great devotion to San Giuseppe. Especially since many of us from other parts of Italia or have their heritage there, have adopted it as well.
Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with the tradition that is celebrated in many parts of the USA as well as Italia, let me explain. We need to go back to the Middle Ages, when the island of Sicily was suffering from a very severe drought. It reached the point that there was almost nothing left to eat but fava beans. In short, a famine.
So the people of Sicily began praying to San Giuseppe, begging him to intercede with God for an end to the drought. (As I type this I can help but think that maybe there is a lesson for California here.) San Giuseppe came through & the drought ended. Crops were planted & the famine ended.
Naturally, the Sicilians were grateful to San Giuseppe & wanted to express their thanks in a visible way. So a table was set up with the fruits of the harvest on it. After they had done so, the food was distributed to the less fortunate.
From that simple table, the altar grew & developed into what it is today.
They can range from the simple



to the ornate,



but certain things remain the same.
The 1st is that the altar must be made with 3 levels. This is done to honor the Holy Trinity.
On the top level a image of San Giuseppe is placed. This can be a statue or a painting or an icon. It is surrounded by flowers & greenery. Votive candles can be placed there as well as on the other levels.
On the other levels a variety of food, with the exception of meat dishes because it is Lent, are placed on the other levels. These offerings include citrus fruit, breads, pastries, seafood, olives, grapes, fava beans, & figs. In addition you will find bread crumbs sprinkled about as a reminder of the sawdust in San Giuseppe's carpenter's shop.
Now the breads & many of the pastries are baked in special shapes. The breads can be shaped as lilies, sandals, ladder, saw, hammer, nail, beard, ladder, & the cane or staff of St. Joseph.  The pastries are made in the shapes of monstrances, chalices, crosses, doves, lambs, fish, bibles, hearts, wreaths & palms. 
The fava beans are there as a reminder that during the famine the people were down to eating fava beans which was normally used back then as a fodder for the cattle.
Additionally, there is a basket placed near or on the altar where visitors can leave their prayer requests, as well as the names of deceased family & friends. Sometime pictures of those who are deceased are placed on the altar as well.
All visitors receive a small goodie bag. It includes a blessed San Giuseppe medal, a holy card with San Giuseppe's image on it & of course, a fava bean. It can also include a small pastry or two.
On San Giuseppe's actual feast day, 19 March, many of the families who erect an altar in their home will invite friends& neighbors over for a meal that includes what was offered on the altar. Children are selected to play the Holy Family. They go from door to door in the neighborhood until they reach the house with the altar. The Holy family is allowed to eat 1st. After the meal any food that remains, along with any money donated is given to the poor, just like the 1st table.
So please visit the virtual altar which opened today for the year.
At the virtual altar, you can make a virtual offering as well as any prayer requests for deceased loved ones or for your needs or to express gratitude to San Giuseppe for prayers answered. You can do this any time between now & San Giuseppe's feast on 19 March 2014. When you do, don't forget to pick up your virtual goodie bag before you leave.


VIVA SAN GIUSEPPE!!!!!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Using Good to Justify Evil



Over the last few years the connections between the abortion industry, especially Planned Parenthood & the Girl Scouts have been coming out. The GSUSA has tried to distance themselves by saying "No, Girl Scouts of the USA does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood." That is technically true. But for many local councils & through many other groups they associate with, there is that connection to Planned Parenthood. Recently 1 of their spokeswomen commended pro-abortion politician Wendy Davis & Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sibelius as women to emulate. 
There are many local Girl Scout councils that do not have any association with the abortion industry. Among those who do not is the local council here in Dubuque. But because part of their dues goes to the GSUSA as well as a licencing fee for each box of cookies does, there is still that indirect support.
That is why the recent CookieCott was organized, to make people aware of the connection as well as ensure Pro-lifers are not supporting Planned Parenthood etc through it. This is a simplifiedexplanaition. You can get the details here.
Part of the CookieCott was a tweetfest for those of us who are on Twitter to get the word out.   It was held on 6 February 2014, just before the weekend that the Girl Scouts had their cookie sales in front of grocery & other stores, etc.
I participated in it. My 1st tweet was "I'll keep saying no to Girl Scout cookies until they publicly repudiate their connection to Planned Parenthood". Well, it didn't take to long for a person^ to try & claim they had. I countered with facts, links etc, but this person either ignored (mostly) the evidence I presented, refused to answer my questions about that evidence, or out & out denied the truth.
Additionally, the person tried to use guilt on me. "Your issue is w/ GSNY*, not the girls who. . . (continued in next tweet due to space limitations) who use their cookie proceeds to help the homeless, veterans, schools, nursing homes and many othercharities. You hurt them too."
Obviously I wasn't going to fall for that ploy. So I responded with the following tweets:
"Pleae don't play this false sympathy card. The ends never justify the means if they are evil."
"There are many other groups that I support that help the homeless, hungry etc without ties to Planned Parenthood. So GS not needed."
I knew that this person wouldn't like what I said. The response was as follows:
"Shame on you for saying the needy should be helped by others because you don't like something. I'm finished with you."
Talk about an attempt to flame & demonize. I obviously hit a nerve with a fact that person didn't like because it totally undermined the justification used to continue buying GS cookies. Apparently the defending of the unborn is simply a dislike on my part, not the moral evil it really is.
Actually this person knows I am right & doesn't like the truth about how evil abortion is as well as the GSUSA connection to it. So saying it was something I don't like was an attempt to deny that truth, as well as try & paint me as the bad guy instead.
I knew that I wouldn't get a reply, but I did have to respond.
"There are plenty of other groups to support that do those same things, but doen't abet abortion like the GSUSA does."
"So cut out the self righteousness. I am not ashamed of the truth, but you seem to be willing to help murder unborn babies."
"Why are you afraid to face the facts/truth. The GSUSA is affiliated with groups that push abortion."
"That good that the GSUSA may do never absolves the evil they are associated with, you know that. I pray God opens your eyes to the truth"
These last few were sent yesterday. Of course I haven't gotten a reply. Nor do I expect to. This person knows I will not back down from speaking the truth. Please join in my prayers for an openness & acceptance of the truth by this person.
There are many good organizations out there that do not work with the abortion industry that deserve our support. The Girls Scouts is, sadly, not one of them. Fortunately, there is a good alternative, The American Heritage Girls. In fact they have even created a "Respect Life" patch for the girls to earn. So, until the GSUSA returns to its original values, the money I would spend on Girl Scout cookies will go to buying the candy bars sold by the American Heritage Girls instead.

^ The tweets are public, so I could use the person's name &/or gender. But instead I will keep it generic since it could be a man or woman saying the same thing to you someday. Hopefully this will help you see the real agenda, to justify the continued support of abortion by wrapping it in a cloak of good. As St. Paul pointed out in 2 Corinthians 11:14, Satan & hs demons can disguise themselves as an angel of light. This is exactly what is going on with the abortion industry through the GSUSA They are appearing as something good rather than the evil they are.

* The group involved in 1 of the many examples I used, not the only one. 

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Saturday, February 08, 2014

Lord of the World

by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson



I 1st heard of this book after Papa Francesco  mentioned this book in 18 November 2013 homily at his daily Mass. The Pope says that Benson speaks in the book of the spirit of the world that leads to apostasy “almost as though it were a prophecy, as though he envisioned what would happen”.
Soon many others began talking about it as well. My curiousity was peeked. So I went to Amazon & found it was available on Kindle for free. Naturally I downloaded it & recently finished reading it. I was not disappointed.
Lord of the World was written in 1907 by Monsignor Benson. Benson was the son of Edward Benson (Archbishop of Canterbury). Benson was ordained an Anglican priest by his father in 1895. Sfter Archbisop Benson died suddenly in 1896, Fr. Benson traveled to the Middle East to recover his health. While there he began considering the claims of the Catholic Church as well as the status of the Church of England. Finally on 11 September 1903 he was received into the Catholic Church & ordained as a Catholic priest in 1904. He died in 1914.
Lord of the World is an apocalyptic novel set in the 1st part of the 21st Century. However, unlike most modern novels, it is written from a Catholic viewpoint. So I will warn you in advance, there is no rapture as many modern evangelicals describe it.
The story itself takes place in 3 locations, London, Rome & the Holy Land. 
In the early part of the 20th Century a form of Marxism called Herveism came into power in England. It was tied into a form of humanism & behind it all was Freemasonry. By the start of the 21st Century,except for those who were still faithful Catholics, a spirit of hopelessness has fallen over England as well as most of the rest of the world. Euthenasia has become an accepted way to end your life. But not only for physical illness. It is also allowed for those who just do not want to go on living.
Rome has been ceded to the Vatican in return for their surrender of all other Church buildings in Italy. The Catholic Church, headed by Pope John XXVIV. (This numbering was based on the fact that the last John was antipope John XXIII, something that was ignored when the Blessed John XXIII took his name in 1958. Only Ireland & Rome have remained faithfully Catholic. Throughout the rest of the world there is only a small percentage who are still Catholic. For the most part, people have become freemasons. There are some strongholds of Eastern religions, but there are no longer any protestant churches in existance. The only Christian Church is the Catholic Church. & all the Eastern rites have been surpressed. The only rite celebrated is the Tridentine rite. 
I found that last fact a bit unbelievable. Even if the reason was unity. But this was, I suspect based on a bit of prejudice on the part of the author. Back then most Roman Catholics knew little about the Eastern Catholics & there was much prejudice against the differences in their rites, etc. 
As far as the political landscape, there existed 3 basic powers, the Eastern Empire, the American Republic & the European Union. At the opening of the book the Eastern Empire is threatening Europe. Additionally, all royal houses have been deposed. The royal families have all moved to Rome, including the Chinese emperor. & all those that weren't Catholic have converted to Catholicism.
It is probably the technological part where this book is the most dated. Long distance travel is done via a form of air ship, volor, that is like the zeppelin. There are no computers. Communication is done mainly by letter & telegraph.
There are 3 main characters in the book. Fr. Perry Franklin, a priest living in London. Part of his responsibilities are to observe what is going on & report it to the Pope. He is a devout Catholic who is troubled by the huge falling away, apostasy, of Catholics, lay & ordained. 
Next there is Julian Felsenburgh. He is a mystery man who seems to have come from nowhere & rises ultimately to control the world. While I am not saying Obama is the antiChrist, it struck me that there are many similarities between Obama & Felsenburgh. Felsenburgh & Fr. Franklin are virtually identical in their looks.
Then ast of the 3 is Oliver Brand. He starts out as the new member from Croydon. He hooks his wagon to Felsenburgh & rises in power as a result. 
The main supporting characters, besides the Pope include Brand's wife Mabel & his dying mother. Another is Mr. Francis. He starts the book as a priest. Later he leaves the faith & ends up being the main liturgest for the new world religion being set up.
With the obvious exception of Felsenburgh, the main characters & many of the supporting characters are well developed.  We get to know what they are thinking, what motivates them, there hopes & even their dreams.
The novel is divided into 4 parts, the Prologue, Book I The Advent, Book II The Encounter, & Book III The Victory.
The Prologue serves to set the scene for what will develop in the main body of the novel. At times it drags, but despite what the author said, it should not be skipped, even by those who dislike prologues.
The 1st part of the book looks at the rise of Felsenburgh from obscurity as an unknown from America to, although the term is never used, the AntiChrist ruling the world. The 2nd part focuses on the development of the World religion as well as the attempts to wipe out the Pope & the Catholic Church. Without giving anything away, the last part focuses on the final attack on the Catholic Church & the end of the World. The way Benson describes it has a very strong Eucharistic foundation, something I found very satisfying as I thought about it afterwords.
I will say I found what Papa Francesco said, that the book is prophetic in its way. It does capture the spirit of the world we find growing in this day & age, the time the book is set in.  We see many Catholics giving up the tenets of the faith. People are denying the faith. Euthenasia is becoming acceptable. The recent UN Committee attack on the Church's teachings on abortion, contraception & sexuality could be seen as the 1st major shot across the bow by that spirit of the world. Again, I am not saying we are seeing the rise of the actual AntiChrist. But the book does give us insight into where we could be heading. & why it is all the more important for us faithful Catholics to defend the faith as well as boldly proclaim the truths that God has handed on to us through the Church.
I have tried not to give away too much of the plot. Part of what makes the book so good is how he develops the story to bring us to the end of the world. Benson has interwoven the stories of the main characters in a way that is anything but contrived. Yes there are coincidences that bring about the meeting of Brand & Fr. Franklin. But they are anything but contrived. In fact, they help add to the believability of the story.
So if you are looking for a solid read, with a story that holds your interest, Lord of the World is well worth it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About How Mozzarella is Made*

* But Were Afraid to Ask (Well maybe not everything, but most people will know a lot more.)

Until recently, most people's idea of mozzarella was that rectangle bought in the grocery store. They also had some vague idea it was Italiano in origin, & mostly used for pizza.
While to some extent that is true, that is only a small part of the mozzarella story.
Over the past few years fresh mozzarella has been showing up in the cheese isle. While it is closer to the original, it still is only a small part of the story.
The old standard is actually a low moisture verson, often made from skim milk. 
The type we now often see in the form of balls, packed either in brine or vacuum packs is also made in Italia. It is called mozzarella fior di latte (flower of the milk).
But the original & the one that produced in Italia is Mozzarella di bufala campana DOP. It is a type of mozzarella made from the milk of the Italian water buffalo (Bufala mediterranea italiana) that are raised in designated areas of CampaniaLazioApuliaMolise in Italy. The DOP at the end of the name signifies that it was only made in the designated areas.
There is a 4th type called mozzarella affumicata (smoked mozzarella).
Regardless of the type they are all made the same basic way, with the addition of smoking for the last type.
It is from this process, pasta filata, that mozzarella gets its name. The name is derived from the Italiano verb, mozzare, meaning "to cut". You will see why as I describe the process.
But before I get to that I have to explain the origin of the pictures I will be using. The Hy-Vee store on Dodge Street in Dubuque recently added a huge cheese section with a wide variety of domestc & imported cheeses. No, they don't have the Mozzarella di bufala yet, but the person that runs it has ordered it.
As a part of the expansion, they have begun making their own fresh mozzarella every Friday. Actually the 2nd half of the process as they get the curd, made from whole milk, elsewhere.
To the milk is added a whey starter that contains thermophilic bacteria. The milk is left to ripen so that the bacteria can multiply. When it is ripe, rennet is added so the milk can coagulate. This curd is then cut & allowed to "heal" (firm up). It is then cut again, heated & the whey is seperated from the curd. The curd is then put into hoops so it can form a solid mass with a pH of 5.2-5.
It then looks like this:



It is now ready for the pasta filata process.
The curd is now cut up into cubes.





Meanwhile water is being heated up to pour on the curd.




At this point the kneeding process begins.



As the kneeding continues the curds melt together.



When it reaches the point where it can be easily stretched & not fall apart, it is ready for the final shaping. It must be pliable, but definitely not rubbery.


To shape it an end is grabbed & stretched out.


The piece is folded over & over on itself.


Finally it is ready to be shaped. In this case into a ball. Sometimes three stands are woven together. Or it is shaped into blocks. The blocks is partially dried to become the low moisture version.




It is then put into water to cool. Then it is put into containers with some of the brine.
This is the 2nd week they made their own mozzarella at the store. I didn't have my camera to take pictures to show you the learning process. It takes practice to get the skill down. Last week there was a definite progression from the poorly done 1st batch to the good third batch. This week was even better.
While the low moisture mozzarella is OK, the fresh is so much better. Hopefully they will soon be able to get some of the imported buffalo mozzarella so I can finally taste it the way my maternal grandparents did in the Old Country.

My thanks to Kathy for allowing me to photograph her efforts.


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