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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Remembering Duke

No this isn't about the Duke, John Wayne, but a lost companion of mine who was named after the actor and Brother. Many don't realize that I grew up with many dogs. We always had 3 dogs at one time growing up. The second dog I owned was a German Short Hair that I named Duke. I had him during my teen years well into adulthood and his death really hurt and I still miss him dearly, even after 5-years. This is the eulogy of my friend I wrote when he died: 
Throughout my life I have always had a dog. At the age of 5, I got my own dog; a black lab who lived to be 11-years old and died when I was 13. He was a protective dog and even though I was 11 I knew he wouldn't be around forever.
In the summer before my 12th birthday I walked by a garage full of yipping German Short-hair puppies. The house was owned by a long-time family friend and he asked me to come see his new pups. I fell in love with them and I wanted one. I convinced my parents to get me one in hopes that Duke would help alleviate some of the pain when Beauford (the black lab) died.
The owner said he would sell me the pups for $50 which is a great deal for a pure-bread. Part of the deal though was to neuter him so I couldn't create my own litter; it was fair enough, I wasn't interested in breeding.
I chose Duke out of the litter by a strange chance (or rather he chose me). I stuck my hand in to move Duke out of the way to look at his brother and Duke bit me. For some reason I said, "I want that one." "That one?" "That one. He'll be a great dog." Duke never bit once after that day. I took him home and set him in front of the other dogs (Buford and Packard ). Buford took to him, but Packard went tearing after him. Duke turned and ran for cover which took the shape of my dad's cop car. Unlike Duke, who was able to dive under the front bumper, Packard collided headlong into the steel bumper and split his head open. My younger sister freaked out as Packard walked around like a drunkard while my dad and I were rolling on the ground; all the while Duke yipping from underneath the car.
We kept great care of Duke and he grew as any other German Short-hair would. We did observe though he always had his stubbed tail moving. It almost seemed that if it stopped he wouldn't know what to do. 
Once he was about 6-months old, my dad and I started in on his training to be a bird dog. We trained him by tying bird wings to a fishing pole and would drag it through high grass. After some time we took him hunting. Up at my grandparent's ranch we hunted the backside. His first strike was a tiny little bush and my dad and I thought Duke was messing up so we started yelling for him to keep going, but he stayed pointing. I took a step forward and 5 Pheasant shot out. My dad and I were so amazed at Duke we forgot to shoot. From that moment we never doubted him. He dazzled us time after time until we discovered...well learned...Duke doesn't like water. HOW CAN A BIRD DOG NOT LIKE WATER!? As much as you can to a dog, we taunted him, but he stood his ground. The funny thing was that if you picked him up and carried him in with you and let him go, he would swim.
I had trained him so well to respond to verbal as well as a non-verbal commands that I never worried about him running away or running out into the road. The only time I came close to losing him was by a crazy mishap with my dad's yellow lab. Duke and Chief (the yellow lab) loved to wrestle and fight (as dogs do), but one time Duke's dog collar got wrapped around Chief's lower jaw and it was choking Duke. I was fortunate that night to hear Duke yelp. I went running out there and saw what was happening. Chief freaking about what was happening started to run, dragging Duke by his throat. I had a pocket knife and was able to cut Duke's collar. He never wore a collar after that unless we had to keep him on a leash.
Once I had my license, Duke would often ride with me to various places. It was cute to see him sit upright in the passenger seat. He was a very mellow dog and never really tried to jump around the vehicle like some dogs do.
For the most part, Duke was an outside dog, but during the cold Idaho winters all dogs would stay inside. Duke slept in my bed next to me and usually took up 3/4 of the space. To Duke, my bed was his bed. If any of the other dogs were there he would often chase them off. 
To him the "what's his is mine" mentality also meant my food. If I got up and left my food unattended it was not out of the scope of reality to come back to either an empty plate or Duke chowing down. You could also tell if Duke was trying to get to food on the counter because you would hear his paws hitting the surfaces of either the counter or the floor. 
Duke was very affectionate, but he didn't lick, well, not like other dogs. If he did lick he would only stick out the very tip of his tongue and I had to put my nose right to his mouth. Only then would he very slightly lick my nose; that was his kiss. He would also hug me. When I was younger I was much shorter and he was able to jump on his hind legs and put his front legs on my shoulders. 
One of my favorite memories was a Summer night walk at the local park. My family and I regularly took the dogs to the park just down the road to let them run and have fun. At night no one was there so they had free reign. We tied glow sticks to them so we always knew where they were. In the park there is a tennis court with a chain-link fence surrounding it. Duke was running around enjoying life. I ran to a corner of the court and yelled his name. Instead of running around the corner to me, he didn't see the fence and ran full steam into it. He hit that fence; spread eagled across it, and fell backwards. I was laughing so hard it hurt. I stumbled over to him and collapsed next to him. I checked him out and found that only his doggy pride was harmed. He jumped back up and we went home; I made sure he got an extra doggy treat.

He lived a good life of bird hunting. Even as he got older he kept his puppy endurance and vitality. Duke's lifelong buddy, Chief, died last year and Duke was very confused for a bit after Chief disappeared from the house. This was a turning point in his life I noticed. He discovered he wasn't as young as he once was, his joints were stiffening, and he was becoming more content with just lying about. 
Last weekend I went home to see my nephew and my precious friend. To my horror, he was coughing and very thin. I questioned my dad and he said he had "Kennel Cough", but not to worry, the Vet appointment a few days later would sort out how to cure him. In that visit I petted him on his head and went with my nephew to breakfast. I had just finished a 12-hour night shift before going to breakfast so I was tired and I decided to go back to my house without going by my parents first. I worked all this week and my father called me this last Wednesday (the 22nd) to tell me Duke had died. 
(This part is hard to write) It was like something had stolen my breath. I felt hollow, empty. At the time I was at the barracks, I just got up and left-ignoring calls from my supervisor. I got in my truck and just drove. I couldn't think, I was numb. What was worse is that the last time I saw Duke I didn't say a proper goodbye, not knowing it was the last time. I know this hurts so bad because I had him for 2nd half of my life. I just really miss my boy.
Rest in Peace Duke '96 - '09
The Boston Bull Terrier, Bell, on the right side of the last photo is still alive. She is 15-years old and still going.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

The History of the Paschal Lamb

Agnus Dei
As I discussed in my article on the Generalissimo, the jewel of this officer is the "square, surmounted by a paschal Lamb." As we learn in Freemasonry, the lamb is an emblem of innocence, and for Christians the lamb represents Jesus Christ, the Blessed Savior.

The word 'paschal' comes from Latin 'paschalis' via the Hebrew word "pesah" which relates to the Passover, and the first known use of 'paschal' was in the 15th century, an can sometimes be referred to as the Holy Lamb or Agnus Dei. Traditionally during the Jewish Passover a lamb was sacrificed. This reminds of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) who was sacrificed to save mankind. Christ willingly chose to obey the will of God, the Father. Christ was referred to as the Lamb of God in the Gospel of John when the Baptist exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) For which reasons the Paschal Lamb is emblematic of Christ who sacrificed so much for the salvation of mankind.


The Paschal Lamb should not be confused with the "scapegoat" which was punished for the sins of others; it was not an agent of salvation. The sacrifice of a lamb during the Jewish Passover comes from the Torah which mandates that on the eve of Passover a lamb be slain and then eaten of the first night of the holiday with herbs and matzo (unleavened bread or bread without yeast). This tradition stems from when it was offered the night the Jews left Egypt, which was thought not to occur again until they settled into Israel. The feast was important to remember end of Jewish slavery. Often the sacrifice was a male lamb about one year of age. There were rules on who could participate and other rituals surrounding the sacrifice.


The lamb is a symbol seen in Craft Masonry as well as other degrees such as the Order of the Temple who uses Christian iconography. The Lamb of God is often depicted like the image above where the lamb is a symbol of Christ; the cross, of His passion; and the banner of His victory over death and hell. Let us remember the lessons of Masonry and the sacrifices of our Beloved Savior. Happy Easter everyone!

References

1. Kneckt, F. (n.d.). The Paschal Lamb and Jesus. Retrieved from Traditional Catholic Teaching: http://traditionalcatholicteaching.com/appendix-the-paschal-lamb-and-jesus.html

2. Lamb of God. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamb_of_God

3. Masonic Lamb. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Lodge of Education: http://www.masonic-lodge-of-education.com/masonic-lamb.html

4. Newell, B. E. (2011, November 11). My Station and Places: Generalissimo. Retrieved from Traveling Templar: http://www.travelingtemplar.com/2011/11/my-station-and-places-generalissimo.html

5. Paschal. (2013). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=paschal

6. Paschal mystery. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paschal_mystery

7. Passover Sacrifice. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korban_Pesach 

8. Thompson, I. J. (2002, February). Spiritual Meaning of Lamb. Retrieved from Bible Meanings: http://www.biblemeanings.info/Words/Animal/Lamb.htm

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Initiated into the KYCH

Today was the first day of the 2014 Grand York Rite of Idaho which consists of conferring the honorary bodies of Order of High Priesthood, Order of Silver Trowel, Order of Knights Preceptor, and Knights of the York Cross of Honor.

I had the pleasure of being initiated into Idaho Priory #13 of the Knights of the York Cross of Honor (or commonly referred to as the KYCH). The KYCH is an invitational body for those who have served as Worshipful Master of a Blue Lodge, High Priest of a Royal Arch Chapter, Illustrious Master of a Council of Cryptic Masons, and a Commandery of Knights Templar. The ritual is not long, but impressive and informative. The KYCH is considered by many to be the highest honor that can be awarded within the York Rite of Freemasonry.

Now I have to get ready as the Grand Council is presiding over the public opening and joint session of the Grand York Rite tomorrow.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Palm Sunday Poem

I hope everyone enjoys this Palm Sunday and remembers the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem. This day is also referred to as Passion Sunday, and it is the sixth and last Sunday of Lent which marks the first day of Holy Week; the week leading to the crucifixion of Christ.

It is referred to Palm Sunday as the crowds greeted Christ by waving palm branches and covering his path with palm branches as well as garments. As he passed by the people sang "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord" which is a portion of Psalm 118:25-26.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.-- Zechariah 9:9
The donkey was, in Eastern traditions, an animal of peace. In comparison, riding upon a horse was a symbol of war. For Jesus to enter Jerusalem on a donkey symbolized his entry as the Prince of Peace. In ancient days, it was customary the path of someone who was worthy of high honor and the Gospel of John specifies that it was palm branches that were cast on the path before Christ. During the times of the Roman Empire, the palm branch symbolized triumph and victory. For the Egyptians, the palm was carried during funeral processions and represented eternal life. With Christianity, the palm branch became a symbol of martyrs and their spiritual victory over death. In Revelation 7:9, the white-clad multitude stands before the throne and Lamb holding palm branches.


The Donkey
by G.K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.Fools!
For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

John Theophilus Desaguliers: Father of Modern Speculative Freemasonry

Less known to most American Freemasons, Desaguliers was the son of a Huguenot clergyman and was born in La Rochelle, France, on March 12th, 1683. Desaguliers was a French-born English philosopher who would grow to be known as an icon in the early revival of Freemasonry of the 18th century and, according to Albert Mackey, "to whom, perhaps, more than any other person, is the present Grand Lodge of England indebted for its existence."

In 1598, Henry IV of France issued the Edict of Nantes which reinstated civil rights and legal status to Calvinist Protestants (or known as Huguenots) of France who were seen by the Catholic community as heretics. This edict ended the religious wars that had torn up France, but, in 1685, this edict was revoked by Louis XIV, grandson of Henry IV, which caused an exodus of Protestants due to the persecution and strained relations with Protestant nations. It was during this exodus that Desaguliers and his family moved to England.

He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, becoming known as a philosopher and lecturer, and earned a Bachelors and Doctorate of Law. He was also a member of the Royal Society of London where he received the Society's highest honor, the Copley Medal, several times. He was a reputed scientist and inventor, one of the Copley Medals being for his discovering of the properties of electricity. He is also said to have invented the planetarium.

In 1712, he married Joanna Pudsey and together they had 4-sons and 3-daughters, though only 2-sons survived beyond infancy. The next year he moved to Westminster where he continued to lecture on experimental philosophy and drew the attention of Isaac Newton under whom Desaguliers. He was also a man of the cloth and served the Duke of Chandos as his Chaplain.

In Freemasonry, little is known before he served as the first Grand Lodge as Grand Master in 1719, Deputy Grand Master in 1723 and 1725; it is most likely that he was initiated in one of the four founding Lodges of London, but no proof exists to prove or disprove the theories of his initiation. Brother George Maine, under the Grand Lodge of Washington, stated in 1939 that Desaguliers provided strong leadership in a time of political strife and dissension, and brought the life needed for the prosperity of Freemasonry. Desaguliers wrote most of the ritual, according to Brother Maine, and here we see the use of the "Great Architect of the Universe" (and other variations).

He was known to collect early Masonic manuscripts and though Dr. Anderson is credited for the first Constitution, it was compiled under the supervision of Desaguliers; being a collector it is likely that he furnished Dr. Anderson with the documentation needed to publish the Constitution which immortalized his name. It was also under his governance as Grand Master that older members began to attend Lodge again and many noblemen were initiated into the order. Freemasonry became a trend and noblemen began to flock to Freemasonry; the Grand Masters started being chosen among these nobles and the trends started by Desaguliers could have possibly inspired Ramsay to give his famous oration which I believe was a way to sell Freemasonry to the French aristocracy. Desaguliers was a notable scientist, educator, minister, writer, lecturer, experimenter, civil engineer, doctor of laws, and physicist who had become well known for his lectures, and so had credibility and legitimacy which he took with him to Freemasonry. This strong leadership given by Desaguliers in this early Grand Lodge and the initiation of men of importance catapulted around the globe.

He is also attributed with starting the line of charity that would eventually develop into the Fund of Benevolence. He was important in the spread of Freemasonry around Europe. One notable case was he served as Master of a Lodge in Holland where he initiated Francis I, Duke of Lorraine, later to become Emperor of Austria. The last record of his Masonic career was on February 5th, 1742; two years prior to his death.

Desaguliers had long suffered from gout every winter, and died after several months of severe illness at his home in the Bedford Coffee House, Covent Garden, London, on February 29th, 1744. From his service as Grand Master, ritual reformation, and his collections of Masonic documents, Freemasonry emerged as a reputable institution and is truly indebted to him.

References

1. Desaguliers. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Masonic Trowel: http://www.themasonictrowel.com/masonic_talk/stb/stbs/36-05.htm

2. Edict of Nantes. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Nantes 

3. John Theophilus Desaguliers. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Theophilus_Desaguliers

4. John Theophilus Desaguliers. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of BC&Y: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/biography/desaguliers_j/desaguliers_j.html

5. Mackey, A. G. (n.d.). John Theophilus Desaguliers. Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/desaguliers.html

6. Maine, G. E. (1939, June). Desaguliers and The March of Militant Masonry. Retrieved from Freemasonry 101: http://www.freemasonry101.com/history-freemasonry/historical-essays/john-desaguliers/

7. Berman, R. A. (2010). The Architects of Eighteenth Century English Freemasonry, 1720 – 1740. Exeter, UK. Retrieved from https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/bitstream/handle/10036/2999/BermanR.pdf

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Chough

Today marks 1-year since I was initiated into the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon. The meet was quick with an exemplification of the ritual and I was asked to be Secretary for my Chapel. I look forward to this experience as this is my first Secretary position within a Masonic organization.

The history of this order is named after Thomas a Becket who was assassinated at the order of King Henry II and was a knighthood started in the crusades. Today order is headquartered out of England with provincial bodies around the world, the largest being the US. Knights wear a mantle and tunic, both of whom are white, with a red cross superimposed by a white cross, and ornamented with an escallop shell. For those knights who have performed the pilgrimage to the Canterbury Cathedral, a knight is entitled to wear the Badge of a Pilgrim on the right shoulder of the mantle. The Badge of a Pilgrim is three coughs upon a shield, two and one; the Choughs are black with red feet and beaks.

The Red-billed Chough is far strung bird as it breeds in the United Kingdom, Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Alps, and in some areas throughout Central Asia. It prefers to live in high mountains, but has also been spotted along coastal cliffs during breeding season. Etymologically the word chough is a combination of "ċēo" (an Old English word used to describe a jay, crow, and jackdaw) and "ceahhe" (an Old English word for daw)

The Chough makes an appearance in Greek mythology as well as Arthurian mythology. In the Grecian mythology, the Chough is known as the "sea-crow" and was considered sacred by the Titan Cronus and was said to be an inhabitant of Calypso's Blessed Island. In Cornish legend, King Arthur did not die after his last battle, but transformed into a Red-billed Chough. The legs and beak were red in memory of the last battle and, for which reason, killing a Chough was considered extremely unlucky.

I hope one day to make my pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral and earn this badge. I look forward to what experiences I will have in this chivalric order. Now to go through the transition period. [dramatic music]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ye Antiente Order of Corks

At the Masonic Week held each year around the DC area there are many degrees and honors conferred and bestowed. One of those that I attended was Ye Antient Order of Corks, often referred to as "The Corks". This degree is considered to be a fun and social degree. This group is open to Master Masons who have also advanced through the Royal Arch or have served as Warden or Master of a Blue Lodge.

The name and principle logo of the order is a cork stopper seen primarily with wine bottles, and is often seen with a corkscrew inserted at an angle. Members are required to carry a cork in their pockets and if requested by another member need to be able to produce it on demand. If one is incapable to produce the cork, then he must pay a fine, which can be paid to the Treasurer of his Lodge to be used for charitable purposes.

It is unsure where the ceremony of this degree originated, but what records do exist are in the hands of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England. This however does not prove that the degree originated with this body, only that the records are currently in their possession. The ritual today is a satirical in nature and based around the era of Noah and the great flood. The intent is for members to have some fun while raising money for children's charities.

Titles of the officers vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In England the titles have a naval twist, but in America the Corks fall under the Allied Masonic Degrees and have two head officers: Grand Bung of the Americas and Grand Bung of the USA. These two are assisted by other appointed officers. While this body is open to those who meet the above mentioned requirements, it falls under the authority of the Allied Masonic Degrees in the USA.

References

1. Hochberg, J. (2014, February 19). Appendant Bodies. Retrieved from The Masonic Trowel: http://www.themasonictrowel.com/Articles/apendent_bodies/general/appendant_bodies.htm

2. Ye Ancient Order of Corks. (n.d.). Retrieved from Allied Masonic Degrees: http://www.alliedmasonicdegrees.org/cork.htm

3. Ye Antient Order of Noble Corks. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ye_Antient_Order_of_Noble_Corks

4. Ye Antiente Order of Corks. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the USA: http://www.allied-masonicdegrees.org/corks/

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jacques De Molay - 700 Years Later


Today marks the 700th anniversary since the day the last Grand Master, Jacques De Molay of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon was burned alive by order of the tyrant, King Phillip of France.


The Templars were famously arrested in France on iday, October 13th, 1307. Many were tortured and killed, to include the Grand Master, but after 7-years the commission of Cardinals decided for lifelong imprisonment. The Grand Master, and some of his senior officers, were paraded around in public by the French King, but in one last act of defiance the Grand Master and officers declared they were only guilty of betraying their Order by giving into torture and confessing to these false charges. The King was so enraged by it all that he did not wait for Papal approval, but isntead pronounced that De Molay and De Charney were relapsed heretics to be burnt at the stake. A pyre was set up on a small island on the Seine near Notre Dame. From my article 2012 article on Jacques De Molay I briefly discusses the manner in which he was murdered:
Contrary to the belief of the conventional "burning stake/pyre", it could not have been a stake with wood and accelerant at the base as the victim would die within minutes from asphyxiation. The fire and heat would rise and the flames would be swallowed, burning the lungs, and soon filling with fluid thereby causing asphyxiation. For De Molay to have lasted for a while and slowly burn, it would have required a pyre built by a stake in the center with a ring of fire, most likely hot coals, around it (think of the point within a circle as a diagram), which would cause an oven effect cooking him slowly and burning him from the feet up.
Before yielding his life to the flame, cursed the Pope and King, saying his and his fellow's deaths would be avenged, and that both, the Pope and the King, would join him in the Afterlife. The end of of De Molay and the end of the Templars has been the beginning of many conspiracy theories and stories that survive to this day.

Let us remember this man and all who lost their lives by the hands of tyrants and remember the warnings against fanaticism and fascism that this event teaches us.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Get out your green and grab a beer! It's St. Patrick's Day! Although favored as a day of drinking and celebration, this day is rooted in a Feast Day for Saint Patrick of Ireland to remember this historical figure and the introduction of Christianity into Ireland.

Saint Patrick was a Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland, who also is referred to as the "Apostle of Ireland", and is one of Ireland's Patron Saints. He was born around 387 AD, depending on the source, in either England or Scotland, and lived until around 460 AD; it is mostly commonly believed that he died on March 17th for which reason this day is celebrated as a holiday.

Much of his early life is unknown, but from two authenticated letters, referred to as Confessio and Epistola, from Patrick that state some details about his life. He was born to Calpurnius and Conchessa who were Romans living in Britain. When he was 16-years old, he was captured from his home in England by pagan raiders and taken to Ireland where he would serve for 6-years as a slave before escaping and returning to his family. He would eventually become a cleric with the Roman Catholic Church and return to Ireland as an ordained Bishop around 432 AD.

By the time of the 7th century he would be revered as the Patron Saint of Ireland. The rest of his life is available through sources that are highly debated as they sometimes speak about two Patricks. Some theories suggest that Patrick was known as Palladius who was sent to Ireland to ensure the exiled Pelagians (a Christian sect that denied Original Sin) did not reestablish themselves among the Irish Christians and minister to the existing Christian communities.

Going back to the two letters of Patrick, the Confessio or Declaration is the more important of the two. It gives an account of some of his early life. He was born in Roman controlled Britain (although Rome would fall in a few decades) in an area called Banna Venta Berniae; the actual location is not known today, but is thought to be in Cumbria. This letter states that his father was named Calpornius who was a Deacon and his grandfather, Potitus, was a priest; at this time the Church did not prohibit priests from marrying or having kids. The letter continues with his captivity in Ireland where he served as a herdsman and his faith grew. He attributes his escape to divine assistance through a vision he had:
I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: "The Voice of the Irish". As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: "We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us."
Much of the rest of this document surrounds charges levied against him accusing him of financial impropriety (taking gifts and being paid for his ecclesiastical duties) and of course he denied these charges. He also speaks of his missionary work where he converted many, even some of the wealthy classes who still held on to their pagan roots.

Christian priests were not protected and often were beaten, robbed, arrested, and executed for exercising their duties. A clan chieftain attempted to kill him, but through his piety he won the pagan over which is said to be near Erin. This place is said to have been location to the first sanctuary dedicated by St. Patrick. This sanctuary would be a common retreat for St. Patrick and a church and monastery that was later built there. Today this place is known as Sabhall or Saul.

The second letter known as the Epistola, or Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus, opens with a declaration of Saint Patrick stating that he has excommunicated Coroticus because he had put into slavery many of Patrick's converts. Coroticus is believed to be King Ceretic of Alt Clut (modern Dumbarton in the West-Central lowlands of Scotland); although this is contested. Some believe that this letter is what provoked the charges spoken in the other letter.

Although the theory of two Patrick's causes confusion, modern historians believed that the man that would be known as Saint Patrick died on March 17th, 460 AD in Saul. It is believed, but never proven, that he is buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down (NE Ireland, UK).

Neither of the two letters that give details of his life gives dates, but the information therein contained can be dated. Other annals were written, but some of them were either based off of older writings or lost writings so their information cannot be verified or authenticated. Some give the name Cothirtacus which translates eventually into Patricius. Some writings portray him as a martial figure battling against pagans and false idols, but some of these writings contradict his own letters.

As I stated above, Saint Patrick was considered the "Apostle of Ireland" as he is credited with teaching the Irish about the Holy Trinity by showing the people the shamrock which he used to illustrate the Christian teachings of 3 persons in one God. This is why the shamrock is a primary symbol on St. Patrick's Day. The shamrock was used in Ireland prior to St. Patrick's adaption by many of the older polytheistic religions.

Ireland is well-known for there being no snakes present. Legend has risen to credit St. Patrick with this phenomenon. According to legend, he chased the snakes into the sea after he was attacked during a 40-day fasting. However, it is seen that Ireland never had snakes due to its climate and location in the world. Some believe theorize that the legend is allegorical in that snakes were seen as symbols for druids and that by bringing and spreading the message of Christ, he "banished the snakes from the island".

This Feast Day was officially recognized by the Catholic Church in the early 17th century, though it was celebrated much earlier by the Irish. It used to be common practice for people to wear a cross (often made of paper) on St. Patrick's Day; the most common cross associated with St. Patrick was the cross pattée. Originally the color most associated with St. Patrick was blue, but over the years the color green became associated with this Saint, most likely due to the shamrock and St. Patricks use of it to spread religious teachings among the natives. It has grown today to wearing green clothing.

St. Patrick has resonated greatly within the Irish culture ranging from traditional folklore and legends to a patriotic and national symbol, particularly in Catholic Ireland. A variety of parades and celebrations are performed on this day, and I hope everyone enjoys this day.

References

1. Moran, P.F. (1911). St. Patrick. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 15, 2014 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11554a.htm

2. Saint Patrick. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick

3. St. Patrick. (n.d.). Retrieved from Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89

4. Saint Patrick's Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick's_Day

5. St. Patrick. (n.d.). Retrieved from Biography: http://www.biography.com/people/st-patrick-9434729

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Initiate

By Bernard Sexton

A youth who tracked unspoken mysteries
Worshipping beauty in a lost retreat,
Saw the vast inarticulate wonder of the world
And watching from a high, star-drenched, ultimate crag
He cried aloud to the vast unhearing hills, he spoke to Masters unseen--
"Power I would have of the swinging glory of words and the rushing wonder of song!" 

Thereat a wild wandering music drifted as wind thru his soul,
And he felt the dim virginal rhythms within, unperceived and unmated with words.

Yearning he leaned to that swift-flowing life, asking a share in its birth,
Praying the Makers of Wonder, the Weavers of Dream that he share with the wandering earth,
Her making of beauty and love--her envisioning palpitant life
As she moves thru the marvelling stars with her burden of sorrow and song.

Then a voice spoke aloud in his dreams where he fell in his fasting. It moved
The deeps of his soul as the moon moves the tides till it stirred the lost music of dreams. 

He awoke, and his face was alight with a reddening dawn in the east; 
In his heart was a song of the wonder of life, and the words at his calling 
Came flocking like birds from the marshes of sleep--then he knew 
That the Earth-Mother spoke with his voice. He went down to the valley still singing.