Thursday, July 23, 2020

"He wrote from experience, and in forcible language" ~ Saint John Cassianus

"How great is the evil of pride, that it rightly has no angel,
nor other virtues opposed to it, but God Himself as its adversary."
~Saint John Cassian


July 23 is the feast of Saint John Cassian. Though little remembered in our day, John Cassian was celebrated in his own time as one who helped introduce eastern ascetic practices to the Roman west. He was born ca. AD 360 and passed to eternal life around AD 435. His relics remain to this day in the city of Marseille, France, where he died.

He is featured among the Illustrious Men of his contemporary, Saint Jerome, who records his life and works as follows:
Cassianus, Scythian by race, ordained deacon by bishop John the Great [that is, Chrysostom], at Constantinople, and a presbyter at Marseilles, founded two monasteries, that is to say one for men and one for women, which are still standing. He wrote from experience, and in forcible language, or to speak more clearly, with meaning back of his words, and action back of his talk. He covered the whole field of practical directions, for monks of all sorts, in the following works: On dress, also On the canon of prayers, and the Usage in the saying of Psalms, (for these in the Egyptian monasteries, are said day and night), three books. One of Institutes, eight books On the origin, nature and remedies for the eight principal sins, a book on each sin. He also compiled Conferences with the Egyptian fathers, as follows: On the aim of a monk and his creed, On discretion, On three vocations to the service of God, On the warfare of the flesh against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, On the nature of all sins, On the slaughter of the saints, On fickleness of mind, On principalities, On the nature of prayer, On the duration of prayer, On perfection, On chastity, On the protection of God, On the knowledge of spiritual things, On the Divine graces, On friendship, On whether to define or not to define, On three ancient kinds of monks and a fourth recently arisen, On the object of cenobites and hermits, On true satisfaction in repentance, On the remission of the Quinquagesimal fast, On nocturnal illusions, On the saying of the apostles, "For the good which I would do, I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do," On mortification, and finally at the request of Leo the archdeacon, afterwards bishop of Rome, he wrote seven books against Nestorius, On the incarnation of the Lord, and writing this, made an end, both of writing and living, at Marseilles, in the reign of Theodosius and Valentinianus. [Jerome, On Illustrious Men]
Of these many works, the most well known today are his Institutes and his Conferences. These works remain extant to this day and are full of deep wisdom derived from Cassian’s conversations with the anchorite fathers of Egypt. Here are a few quotes from this rich mine of advice on how to live as an authentic follower of Christ:
“How great is the evil of pride, that it rightly has no angel, nor other virtues opposed to it, but God Himself as its adversary!” [Institutes, Book XII, Chapter 7]
“Above all we ought at least to know that there are three origins of our thoughts, i.e., from God, from the devil, and from ourselves.” [Conferences, Book 1, Chapter 19]
“When death has been brought upon a saint, we ought not to think that an evil has happened to him but a thing indifferent; which is an evil to a wicked man, while to the good it is rest and freedom from evils. For death is rest to a man whose way is hidden. And so a good man does not suffer any loss from it.” [Conferences, Book 6, Chapter 6]
“Among all these [types of friendship] then there is one kind of love which is indissoluble, where the union is owing not to the favor of a recommendation, or some great kindness or gifts, or the reason of some bargain, or the necessities of nature, but simply to similarity of virtue. This, I say, is what is broken by no chances, what no interval of time or space can sever or destroy, and what even death itself cannot part. This is true and unbroken love which grows by means of the double perfection and goodness of friends, and which, when once its bonds have been entered, no difference of liking and no disturbing opposition of wishes can sever.” [Conferences, Book 16, Chapter 3]
“We cannot possibly…make trial of spiritual combats if we are baffled in a carnal contest, and smitten down in a struggle with the belly.” [Institutes, Book 5, Chapter 19]
The image at the top is a 6th century mosaic portrait identified as "Cassianus" which may be found in the Archepiscopal Chapel in Ravenna, Italy. It is most likely not an image of Saint John Cassian, but of Saint Cassianus of Imola, a martyr of the mid-4th century.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

"The black babies killed in the abortion clinic matter, right?" ~ The silence of the virtue-signaler exposed

If this American nation is to be saved, I posit that it will be black men who will lead the way.

Here is an example of a brave anonymous fellow who confronted a bunch of virtue-signalling medical drones on the paradox inherent in their position. The truth is this: to them, only certain black lives matter -- those that may be exploited to push forward the goals of the political left.

The video is a minute long and worth watching:
Here is a transcript:

Speaker: “Do all black lives matter or just some black lives?”

Crowd of medical professionals: “All black lives matter.”

Speaker: “The black lives killed by black men matter, right? Yes?”

Crowd: “Yes.”

Speaker: “The black babies killed in the abortion clinic matter, right?”

Crowd: *silence*

Speaker: “Thought so. The black officers killed by that bastard in Minnesota, that matters too, right?”

A few in the crowd: "Yes."

Speaker: “OK. But the black babies killed in the abortion clinics don’t matter, do they, medical people.”

Crowd: *silence*

Speaker: “Do their lives matter? Does the future of our black babies matter? Huh?”

Crowd: *silence*

Speaker: “What’s up? What’s up? Awful quiet now, aren’t they? Uh huh. It’s ok if we kill ‘em in the womb, right? But we have a problem…you don’t seem to really have a problem if we kill ‘em on the streets. Yeah, but we know they’re the same issue. If we don’t respect the lives of our unborn children enough to save them and fight for them, our lives mean nothing once we’re born."

Here is a link to the video on YouTube in case Twitter decides that the video violates their "community standards."

Monday, June 01, 2020

Images of the Antifa Riots, May-June 2020

Posting some images and video links of the Antifa Riots in my area and around the US.

Screen grab from a video posted by @KensingtonBeach on
Instagram, May 31, 2020, taken in Philadelphia.
Text accompanying the video says:
"Antifa... Wonder what state or country this instigator is from.
It’s the devil coming in and getting everyone going. It’s bigger
then what the main stream media is showing.
#StayWoke
#Philly @nbcnightlynews @abcworldnewstonight"

Twitter post shared by Jack Posobiec on May 31. Location
unknown. Two white or hispanic girls get called out for
spraypainting "BLM" on a Starbucks. The narrator says,
"I want you to know that this is not a Black woman putting
Black Lives Matter."

A presumed Antifa rioter gets tackled and turned over to
police by some otherwise peaceful protesters in DC. The
cretin was breaking up the curb with a hammer to acquire
projectiles when the protesters rushed him and pulled off
his hood, revealing a mop of gray hair. Posted on Twitter
by Breaking 911 on May 31, 2020..
Multi-ethnic police wrestle a presumed Antifa rioter to the ground
after he and another rioter smashed the police cruiser's windshield with their
skateboards. In another video of the same scene, we see protesters claiming that
their action was peaceful but the police escalated the situation--obviously not the case.
This Tweet by Miami cop, LATINA ON FIRE was posted on June 11 
and got 3.4 million views within 24 hours of posting.
Will post more as they come in.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Joan of Arc's Testimony of Her Voices and Her Mission

Detail from a World War I-era recruiting poster showing St. Joan of Arc.

Mark Twain called her: "Easily and by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced."

G. K. Chesterton said of her: "She chose a path and went down it like a thunderbolt."

"By a prodigy unique in history, 
People then saw a trembling monarch 
Regain his crown and his glory 
By means of a child's weak arm."

She was Saint Joan of Arc and all the superlatives that have been applied to her since her ignominious death at the stake on May 30, 1431 barely seem enough. Interestingly, thanks to the trial testimony which was scrupulously recorded, we have an incredibly detailed account of her life given under oath, something that is practically unique in history. 

Here is an excerpt of her testimony as regards to the Voices which she heard that drove her, an ignorant peasant girl, to become the heroine of all France. When asked if she received the Sacrament of the Eucharist at any other Feast but Easter, Joan replied:
"Pass that by. I was thirteen when I had a Voice from God for my help and guidance. The first time I heard this Voice, I was very much frightened. It was mid-day, in the summer, in my father's garden. I had not fasted the day before. I heard this Voice to my right, towards the Church—rarely do I hear it without its being accompanied by a light. This light comes from the same side as the Voice. Generally it is a very great light. Since I cam into France I have often heard this Voice.

If I were in a wood, I could easily hear the voice which came to me. It seemed to me to come from lips I should reverence. I believed it was sent to me from God. When I heard it for the third time, I recognized that it was the Voice of an Angel. The Voice has always guarded me well, and I have always understood it. It instructed me to be good and to go often to Church. It told me it was necessary for me to come into France. You ask me under what form this Voice appeared to me? You will hear on more of it from me this time. It said to me two or three times a week: 'You must go into France.' My father knew nothing of my going. The Voice said to me: 'Go into France!' I could stay no longer. It said to me: 'Go raise the siege which is being made before the city of Orleans. Go!' it added, 'to Robert de Baudricourt, Captain of Vaucouleurs: he will furnish you with an escort to accompany you.'

And I replied that I was but a poor girl, who knew nothing of riding or fighting." [Taken from Murray: Jeanne D'Arc, Maid of Orleans, Deliverer of France]
Of riding and fighting Joan would learn, though it was said that she never actually drew a weapon in combat, only rode at the head of her army carrying her banner to rally the men. To get a sense of how Joan understood her mission, here is the text of a letter she sent to King Henry VI of England on March 22, 1429:
Jesus, Mary
King of England,
Render account to the King of Heaven of your royal blood. Return the keys of all the good cities which you have seized, to the Maid. She is sent by God to reclaim the royal blood, and is fully prepared to make peace, if you will give her satisfaction; that is, you must render justice, and pay back all that you have taken. King of England, if you do not do these things, I am the commander of the military; and in whatever place I shall find your men in France, I will make them flee the country, whether they wish to or not; and if they will not obey, the Maid will have them all killed. She comes sent by the King of Heaven, body for body, to take you out of France, and the Maid promises and certifies to you that if you do not leave France she and her troops will raise a mighty outcry as has not been heard in France in a thousand years. And believe that the King of Heaven has sent her so much power that you will not be able to harm her or her brave army. 
Drawing of the Maid, Joan of Arc, 
done during her lifetime. This
is the only known contemporary
image of St. Joan.

To you, archers, noble companions in arms, and all people who are before Orleans, I say to you in God's name, go home to your own country; if you do not do so, beware of the Maid, and of the damages you will suffer. Do not attempt to remain, for you have no rights in France from God, the King of Heaven, and the Son of the Virgin Mary. It is Charles, the rightful heir, to whom God has given France, who will shortly enter Paris in a grand company. If you do not believe the news written of God and the Maid, then in whatever place we may find you, we will soon see who has the better right, God or you.
William de la Pole, Count of Suffolk, Sir John Talbot, and Thomas, Lord Scales, lieutenants of the Duke of Bedford, who calls himself regent of the King of France for the King of England, make a response, if you wish to make peace over the city of Orleans! If you do not do so, you will always recall the damages which will attend you. 
Duke of Bedford, who call yourself regent of France for the King of England, the Maid asks you not to make her destroy you. If you do not render her satisfaction, she and the French will perform the greatest feat ever done in the name of Christianity. 
Done on the Tuesday of Holy Week (March 22, 1429).
Hear the words of the Maid.
It is said that Joan died of smoke inhalation and that the fire burned only her feet and hands. Another fire was lit and this burned her corpse—all except her heart and intestines. A third fire would have to be kindled to reduce the vitals of the Maid to ash. Many of the relics associated with Saint Joan were destroyed by the atheistic fanaticism of the French Revolutionaries, but a few survive. A good account of what remains may be found in this post at Unam Sanctam Catholicam: Are there any relics of Joan of Arc? 
 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

"Some of Them Lived Even to Our Day" ~ The lost Apology of Saint Quadratus

18th century Dutch engraving of St. Quadratus of Athens by Jan Luyken.
May 26 is the feast of the early Church father Saint Quadratus of Athens. He is primarily known as a very early apologist for the faith who presented his arguments directly to the emperor Hadrian while the latter was visiting Athens, sometime between AD 124 and AD 132.

Practically all of what is known of his life may be found in this brief biographical notice in Saint Jerome’s work, On Illustrious Men:
Quadratus, disciple of the apostles, after Publius bishop of Athens had been crowned with martyrdom on account of his faith in Christ, was substituted in his place, and by his faith and industry gathered the church scattered by reason of its great fear. And when Hadrian passed the winter at Athens to witness the Eleusinian mysteries and was initiated into almost all the sacred mysteries of Greece, those who hated the Christians took opportunity without instructions from the Emperor to harass the believers. At this time he presented to Hadrian a work composed in behalf of our religion, indispensable, full of sound argument and faith and worthy of the apostolic teaching. In which, illustrating the antiquity of his period, he says that he has seen many who, oppressed by various ills, were healed by the Lord in Judea as well as some who had been raised from the dead.
Jerome later says that Quadratus presented his Apology to Hadrian at the same time as Aristides of Athens, a Christian philosopher, presented his Apology. Sadly, the apology of Quadratus was subsequently lost. Only a single brief passage was preserved in the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius as follows:
But the works of our Savior were always present, for they are genuine: those that were healed and those that were raised from the dead, who were seen not only when they were healed and when they were raised, but were also always present. And not merely while the Savior was on earth, but also after His death, they were alive for quite a while, so that some of them lived even to our day. [Taken from The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius]
Eusebius says that the work “is still in the hands of a great many of the brethren, as also in our own, and furnishes clear proofs of the man’s understanding and of his apostolic orthodoxy.” The Apology of Quadratus was still known at late as the early 7th century AD when it is mentioned in a work by the bishop Eusebius of Thessalonika against the monk, Andrew, who embraced the heresy known as aphthartodocetism. Sadly, this work is also lost, though a summary of it exists in the Bibliotheca of Photius.

Tradition considers Quadratus a confessor, rather than a martyr. Several images of his martyrdom may be found online, though these most likely depict other early martyrs of the same name (eg. Quadratus of Corinth) and were mislabeled.

Click here for more info.
It has been speculated by some modern scholars that Quadratus was also the author of the anonymous Letter to Diognetus, and that his Apology and the Letter may be one in the same. But this theory has been largely disregarded because the Letter does not contain the quote pulled out by Eusebius.

Read the full text of the Letter to Diognetus in: I Am A Christian: Authentic Accounts of Christian Martyrdom and Persecution from the Ancient Sources.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Commander of the Union Army: Giuseppe Garibaldi?

Giuseppe Garibaldi as a Union General? Could it have happened?
While sorting through a gigantic pile of my deceased father's old papers, I found a newspaper clipping with the title: How Lincoln tried to enlist Garibaldi.

What?

I had never heard this tale before, so I immediately stopped to read the brief article. It began as follows:
An argument which has raged for more than a century over rumors that a hard-pressed Abraham Lincoln appealed to Giuseppe Garibaldi to save the Union in the American Civil War appears to have been settled after the discovery of documentary proof in Garibaldi's own handwriting.
The article then goes on to say that the proof was a small postcard which was found among the royal papers of the exiled House of Savoy which were donated to the state archives in Turin. The postcard was addressed from Garibaldi to Victor Emmanuel II, King of Piedmont-Sardinia, and later King of the united Italy. In it, Garibaldi sought permission to accept the offer to command the American armies. I did a little digging and found the translated text of the postcard here:
Sire, the President of the United States is offering me the command of that army. I find myself obliged to accept this mission for a country of which I am a citizen. Nevertheless before making my decision I thought it was my duty to inform Your Majesty, and to know if you think that I might have the honor of serving him. I have the honor to say that I am the most devoted servant of your Majesty. [Taken from: Garibaldi: Democracy and Civil Rights, p. 47]
And Victor Emmanuel responded as follows:
Do what you are inspired to do by your conscience, which is always your sole guide in affairs of such grave portent, and whatever decision you take, I am certain that you will not forget the dear Italian patria which is always utmost in your own and my thoughts. [Taken from: Garibaldi: Democracy and Civil Rights, p. 47]
Now, there are numerous things going on here of which I was not aware before I began venturing down this rabbit-hole. It seems that Garibaldi had indeed visited America from July 1850 through April 1851, spending most of his time in New York City and working in a candle factory. He even managed to get himself arrested for violating a local hunting ordinance while there. So he did have at least a brief history in the US.

Whether Garibaldi became a US citizen while visiting New York is a matter of dispute. He certainly did join a Masonic lodge while in the States, which is not surprising given his hostility to the Catholic Church. Also, it seems clear that many Americans looked fondly upon Garibaldi as the liberator of Italy and as an inveterate opponent of "Romanism", given that the nation was in the throes of a violent anti-Catholic movement in the 1850s.

What remains unclear is whether Garibaldi had any serious intention of leading Union armies in battle, or whether he was simply seeking to use the offer as leverage to convince Victor Emmanuel to call him out of retirement.

The story of how Garibaldi came to be considered as leader of the Union army is an involved one, the details of which may be found in this article—"Lincoln's Offer of a Command to Garibaldi" in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, November 1907 issue. In brief, admirers of Garibaldi, when discussing the outbreak of war in America, suggested that his intervention as a military commander might help bring the war to a rapid conclusion. One man, J. W. Quiggle, suggested that Garibaldi might even surpass Lafayette in the annals of American history should he assume such a role.

These ideas, it seems, eventually made their way Washington. Writing immediately after the Union disaster at First Bull Run in July of 1861, Secretary of State William Seward sent a letter to Henry Sanford, American minister in Brussels that read, in part:
I wish to proceed at once and enter into communication with the distinguished soldier of freedom [Garibaldi]. Say to him that this government believes his services in the present contest for the unity and liberty of the American People, would be exceedingly useful, and that, therefore, they are earnestly desired and invited. Tell him that this government believes he will, if possible, accept this call, because it is too certain that the fall of the American Union, if indeed it were possible, would be a disastrous blow to the cause of Human Freedom equally here, in Europe, and throughout the world. 
Tell him that he will receive a Major-General’s commission in the army of the United States, with its appointments, with the hearty welcome of the American People. [Taken from Lincoln's Offer of a Command to Garibaldi]
Negotiations proceeded from this point, and by September 9, 1861, Sanford was dispatched to speak with Garibaldi in person about accepting the commission. Sanford found out that the "distinguished soldier of freedom" had higher expectations than his superiors in Washington had anticipated:
[Garibaldi] said that the only way in which he could render service, as he ardently desired to do, to the cause of the United States was as Commander-in-chief of its forces, that he would only go as such, and with the additional contingent power—to be governed by events—of declaring the abolition of slavery—that he would be of little use without the first, and without the second it would appear like a civil war in which the world at large could have little interest or sympathy. [Taken from Lincoln's Offer of a Command to Garibaldi]
Clearly, Garibaldi had no intention of coming to the United States to serve under men like McDowell, McClellan, Hooker, Burnside, or Pope. He wanted full authority—even executive authority—that may have been possible in rather disorganized places like mid-19th century Italy or South America, but was impossible in the United States, even with a widespread insurrection raging. Whether or not the crafty Garibaldi knew that his terms were a poison pill is a matter for further discussion.

By September 14, Sanford had written to Seward of his failure to enlist General Garibaldi to the Union cause. Thus ended any semi-official negotiations with Washington, though various American ministers in Europe continued to correspond with Garibaldi on the idea for at least another year.

In August 1863, less than a year after the promulgation of the Emancipation Proclamation, and a month after the Battle of Gettysburg, Garibaldi and other "Italian liberals" wrote a letter to Lincoln that appeared in the New York Times. In this letter, he said:
If in the midst of the danger of your titanic strife, our voices may also mingle, O Lincoln, let us the free Sons of Columbus send a message of augury and of admiration of the great work you have initiated. Heir of the thought of Christ and of [John] Brown, you will pass to posterity with the name of Emancipator—more enviable than any crown or any human treasure. [Taken from: Holzer: Dear Mr. Lincoln, p. 129-130]
It should be pointed out that Catholic historians have quite another view of Garibaldi that throws the entirety of this incident into quite a different light. These writers most often portray Garibaldi as a brigand leading brigands; a double-dealing traitor whose word could not be trusted; a radical who attained his goals by force-of-arms; a reckless anarchist and thoughtless destroyer of art, culture and civilization. In other words, they show him to be a proto-socialist radical of the type which would fill the next century with blood and fire.

Later in his life, Garibaldi would write in support of unifying Freemasons, rationalists, workers' societies, etc. into a socialist block. He called for the abolition of the Papacy. In his biography of Pope Pius IX, Alexius J. M. Mills described Garibaldi as follows:
[A] man who from earliest youth, sworn to the secret societies, has passed through every form of wickedness and every scene of desperation—the very evil genius of his unfortunate countrymen. Our readers will perceive at once that we are referring to Joseph Garibaldi—smuggler, pirate, bandit, and chief tool of modern assassins. [Taken from Mills, The Life of Pope Pius IX, p. 115]
Given all this, it is probably for the best that Lincoln's cabinet members listened to the better angels of their nature and left off attempting to provide such a man with an army corps, let alone with command of the entire Union Army. One can only imagine the chaos such a general might have caused, not to mention the jealously and resentment he would have engendered among the native officers.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

"One of the most impressive religious ceremonies I have ever witnessed" ~ Father William Corby's general absolution at Gettysburg

Detail from Absolution under Fire by Paul Wood, 1891.
We are studying the Civil War as a family these days, and unlike many other historical events, there is no shortage of good films dealing with the this topic, among them: Glory, Gods and Generals, and Gettysburg.

We watched Gettysburg last night. I hadn’t seen it since it was originally released in 1993 when I saw it on the big screen. Since that time, I have visited the battlefield at least twice. The last time was in 2016 with my oldest daughter on our way back from a homeschool conference in Maryland. It was during that visit that we came across the statue of Father William Corby showing him in the act of giving general absolution on the second day of the battle. I hadn't heard of him before finding his statue, but he has stuck with me ever since. So while watching Gettysburg this time around, I kept my eye out for Fr. Corby.

Lo, and behold...


It seems that Fr. Corby's action had a greater historical import than I had first imagined. Aside from the statue on the battlefield, originally erected in 1910, there are at least two paintings of the event: the one by Paul Wood as seen above, and another by historical artist Bradley Schmehl which may be seen below.

The following account appears in Father Corby's 1893 book, Memoirs of Chaplain's Life:
At about four o’clock the Confederates commenced firing, and about one hundred and twenty cannons from their side belched forth from their fiery throats missiles of death into our lines. The Third Corps were pressed back, and at this critical moment I proposed to give a general absolution to our men, as they had absolutely no chance to practice their religious duties during the past two or three weeks, being constantly on the march. Here I will quote the account of Maj.-Gen. St. Clair Mulholland, then a colonel in the Irish Brigade, a Christian gentleman and as brave a soldier as any in the Army of the Potomac, to which his wounds and army record will testify:

“Now (as the Third Corps is being pressed back), help is called for, and Hancock tells Caldwell to have his men ready. ‘Fall in!’ and the men run to their places. ‘Take arms!’ and the four brigades of Zook, Cross, Brook, and Kelly are ready for the fray. There are yet a few minutes to spare before starting, and the time is occupied by one of the most impressive religious ceremonies I have ever witnessed. The Irish Brigade, which had been commanded formerly by Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher, and whose green flag had been unfurled in every batted in which the Army of the Potomac had been engaged from the first Bull Run to Appomattox, and was now commanded by Col. Patrick Kelly of the Eighty-eighth New York, formed a part of his division. The brigade stood in columns of regiments, closed in mass. As a large majority of its members were Catholics, the Chaplain of the brigade, Rev. William Corby, proposed to give a general absolution to all the men before going into the fight.

“While this is customary in the armies of Catholic countries of Europe, it was perhaps the first time it was ever witnessed on this continent, unless, indeed the grim old warrior, Ponce de Leon, as he tramped through the Everglades of Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth, or De Soto, on his march to the Mississippi, indulged in this act of devotion.
As an aside, Gen. Mulholland is likely forgetting the French presence on the continent. Considering the number of battles fought by French armies in America between 1609 and 1754, it is quite likely that general absolution was offered at some point prior to Gettysburg. To continue...
Father Corby stood on a large rock in front of the brigade. Addressing the men, he explained what he was about to do, saying that each one could receive the benefit of absolution by making a sincere Act of Contrition and firmly resolving to embrace the first opportunity of confessing his sins, urging them to do their duty, and reminding them of the high and sacred nature of their trust as soldiers and the noble object for which they fought….The brigade was standing at ‘Order arms!’ As he closed his address, every man, Catholic and non-Catholic, fell on his knees with his head bowed down. Then, stretching his right hand toward the brigade, Fr. Corby pronounced the words of absolution:
‘Dominus noster Iesus Christus vos absolvat, et ego, auctoritate ipsius, vos absolvo ab omni vinculo, excommunicationis interdicti, in quantum possum et vos indigetis deinde ego absolvo vos, a pecatis vestris, in nomini Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, Amen.’
“The scene was more than impressive; it was awe-inspiring. Near by stood a brilliant throng of officers who had gathered to witness this very unusual occurrence, and while there was profound silence in the ranks of the Second Corps, yet over to the left, out by the peach orchard and Little Round Top, where Weed and Vincent and Hazlitt were dying, the roar of the battle rose and swelled and re-echoed through the woods, making music more sublime than ever sounded through cathedral aisle.

Absolution at Gettysburg by Bradley Schmehl.
“I do not think there was a man in the brigade who did not offer up a heart-felt prayer. For some it was their last; they knelt there in their grave clothes. In less than half an hour many of them were numbered with the dead of July 2. Who can doubt that their prayers were good? What was wanting in the eloquence of the priest to move them to repentance was supplied in the incidents of the fight. That heart would be incorrigible, indeed, that the scream of a Whitworth bolt, added to Father Corby’s touching appeal, would not move to contrition.”
Here ends General Mulholland's account. Father Corby now picks up the story in his own voice:
In performing this ceremony I faced the army. My eye covered thousands of officers and men. I noticed that all, Catholic and non-Catholic, officers and private soldiers, showed profound respect, wishing at this fatal crisis to receive every benefit of divine grace that could be imparted through the instrumentality of the Church ministry. Even Maj.-Gen. Hancock removed his hat, and, as far as compatible with the situation, bowed in reverential devotion.

That general absolution was intended for all—in quantum possum—not only for our brigade, but for all, North or South, who were susceptible of it and who were about to appear before their Judge. Let us hope that many thousands of souls, purified by hardships, fasting, prayer, and blood, met a favorable sentence on the ever memorable battlefield of Gettysburg….

During a visit to the Gettysburg battlefield, about a year ago, in 1889, Maj.-Gen. Mulholland told me that a soldier of his regiment knelt near him while the general absolution was being given and prayed with more fervor than the General had ever before witnessed. Twenty minutes later that poor soldier was a corpse!...

About a week after the battle, while on the march, a captain, a non-Catholic, rode up to me, and after an introduction by a friend, said: “Chaplain, I would like to know more about your religion. I was present on that awful day, July 2, when you ‘made a prayer,’ and while I have often witnessed ministers make prayers, I never witnessed one so powerful as the one you made that day in front of Hancock’s corps just as the ball opened with one hundred twenty guns blazing at us.”

Just then I found use for my handkerchief to hide a smile which stole to my countenance caused by the, to me, peculiar phraseology in which the good captain expressed his mind. I could not but admire his candid, outspoken manner, though, and I gave him an invitation to call on me in camp, when I would take pleasure on giving him all the information in my power.

Statue of Fr. Corby at Gettysburg.
One good result of the Civil War was the removing of a great amount of prejudice. When men stand in common danger, a fraternal feeling springs up between them and generates a Christian, charitable sentiment that often leads to most excellent results. [Corby, Memoirs of Chaplain Life, pages 181-186].
It is my intention to return to Gettysburg with the whole family this summer. It will be the first visit for most of them and they should be well-prepared in terms of their history lessons. While there, we'll be certain to pay a visit the statue of Fr. Corby to say a prayer for the repose of his soul, and for all those who suffered and died on those fields.

We'll also be sure to find the statue of that other Civil War figure from the Gray side with a strong Catholic connection, General James Longstreet which my daughter and I didn't find last time. Bishop Joseph Keily of Savannah, who served under Longstreet at Gettysburg, eulogized him in 1904 as a "brave soldier, gallant gentleman, consistent Christian."