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Showing posts from September, 2012

Thaïs by Anatole France

Anatole France’s novel, “Thaïs” is a story of spiritual redemption and the many pitfalls encountered along the way. It was published in Paris in 1890, and many view it as only a satirical piece. That, in my opinion, is only the surface of the story, and the reader is missing out if that is all they get from the novel. There are also plenty of philosophical discussions contained within the narrative.

The protagonist, Paphnutius, the young abbot of Antinoe, is not treated very favorably. In his holy fervor, he inevitably ends up following the whims of his ego instead of the good advice he receives from the people he encounters throughout the tale. The story begins when Paphnutius decides he should leave his anchorite community in the Thebaid desert and go to Alexandria and convert Thaïs, a famous actress and courtesan.

Paphnutius goes to the holy hermit Palemon for advice twice in the book. Palemon lives nearby Paphnutius’s dwelling and spends all his time tending to a small garden. A…

The Baltimore Basilica

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or as it is commonly known, the Baltimore Basilica, is one of the top eight Catholic pilgrimage sites in the U.S. for good reason. It was the first Roman Catholic cathedral built in the fledgling United States. Construction began in 1806 and finished in 1821. In 1995, Pope John Paul II visited the basilica, and Mother Theresa followed in 1996.

The Baltimore Basilica is also one of the only churches in the country that is a cathedral, basilica, and a shrine. A cathedral is a church that seats a bishop and usually serves as the central church of the diocese. A basilica is a church that has been awarded the designation by the Pope. A shrine is a place that is particularly sacred due to an event that occurred there or because it houses a sacred artifact, etc. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops designated the Baltimore Basilica a national shrine in 1993, and Pope Pius XI declared it a basilica in 19…

The George Washington National Masonic Monument and Museum

Just across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, the George Washington National Masonic Monument and Museum stands atop a high hill. No one stepping off the train at King St. could miss it, although all may not know what this strange, almost out of place, building contains. The gigantic Masonic symbol in front of it may give non-masons a feeling that it is only for Freemasons, but any who make the climb up the stairs to the top of the hill will find that all are welcome here.

 The building was inspired by the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The original was built in 280 BCE and was the tallest structure in the world at the time (393-450 ft tall).

 While the fire of the original lighthouse was a guide to the ancient sailors of the Mediterranean, the Masonic Memorial stands as a reminder of the life of our nation’s founder. His life was nothing less of a burning flame lit by the high ideals that drove him. Modern day politicians make for a…