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On this day: Apparition at Castelpetroso

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On this day in 1888, "two countrywomen belonging to Pastine, a hamlet in the diocese of Bojano, in Southern Italy, were sent to look for some sheep that had strayed on a neighboring hill, to which Castelpetroso is the nearest village. One was named Famiana Cecchino, and the other Serafina Giovanna Valentino; the former being a spinster aged thirty-five, and the latter a married woman a little younger. Before long they returned home, crying, sobbing, trembling, and terrified.

'No more war, never again war'

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As the news broke Saturday that the U.S. would be making air strikes in Libya, I was frantically reading my twitter feeds to see the updates. I couldn't believe what I was reading.

One after another tweets popped up explaining what was happening. Pentagon spokesmen giving the specifics ('100,000 pounds of ordinance dropped in the first two hours'); reporters quoting the president ('there will be no boots on the ground'); commentators with the two sides of usual spin ('with this action the president has shown American strength'/'the president waited far too long and made us look weak.')

Davlin's campaign fund goes to Catholic diocese

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From the Chicago Tribune:

The cash left in Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin's campaign fund when he committed suicide has been donated to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

The more than $222,000 donation was made on March 11. The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that campaign disclosure documents filed last week at the Illinois State Board of Elections show the donation brought the fund's balance to zero.

The fighting for \"Fighting Irish\"

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As part of the celebration of St. Patrick's Day (even though this is being written the day after), I want to note something I found out when I visited my hometown of El Paso a couple of weeks ago.

Growing up in this border city, I attended Cathedral High School, an all-boys school run by the Christian Brothers. This year the small (400 students) school in central El Paso celebrates its 85th anniversary.

However, just recently and unfortunately, the University of Notre Dame notified the school that it could no longer call itself the "Fighting Irish" or use the logo of the leprechaun figure due to copyright infringement. Notre Dame claims it alone holds the copyright to this nickname and logo.

Apparently there are other Catholic schools like Cathedral in the country that also use the Notre Dame nickname and logo and the university notes that when it finds this out it notifies them to cease.

The Passion of Dorothy Day

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From The New York Times:

The Roman Catholic calendar is thick with feasts of saints, each one a story. Pick a day — say, Feb. 1. That's St. Brigid of Ireland, a nun of the early church and the patroness of dairy maids. She was a great beauty, until she lost an eye and her face became disfigured. She rejoiced, for now she could repel suitors.

It's hard to picture St. Brigid writing a letter like this:

"I miss you so much. I was very cold last night. Not because there wasn't enough covers but because I didn't have you. Please write me, sweetheart, and I won't tear the letter up as I did the last one (but I saved the pieces) because I was mad at you. I love you muchly."

That's Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, who is not yet canonized but is definitely in the running. She was by wide acclaim a saintly woman who gave her life to peace and to the poor. Though not as a cliché: she was a cranky bohemian by way of Staten Island, Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side, and lived far closer to the here and now than anyone in "Lives of the Saints."

Itemizing our treasure

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The New York Times published a chart last week of the Pentagon’s biggest boondoggles.

I wrote about the $135 billion we've spent on ballistic missile defense. Today let's consider the littoral combat ship, named the Sea Fighter.

The littoral region of a sea or lake is the costal area, and it seemed like a good idea to build 55 shallow-draft vessels to fight in costal waters. They were budgeted at $220 million apiece, but now the first ten ships being built are coming in at $650 million each.

Since 2005 we've spent $8 billion and expect to spend an additional $30 billion. I note that that's New York Times math. My arithmetic, multiplying 55 ships by the cost-overrun estimate of $650 million is a mere $35 and three-quarts billion. NYT may be factoring in more cost overruns, plus, of course, maintenance, training and parts contracts.

The Times notes that the boats are made of aluminum and are flammable. John McCain thinks they are neither operationally effective nor reliable. And the boats made the Government Accountability Office boondoggle list.

On this day: St. Benedict

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On this day, we celebrate the feast of the transitus (death) of St. Benedict, c. 560.



Benedict and Scholastica were from Norcia, an Umbrian town named for the Goddess of Good Fortune, a place of abundance and of sorcery. The town is known today for its pork products, domestic and wild, and for its truffles. Truffle hunters still invoke the old goddess for luck in finding the precious "nails". In the late 5th century, when the holy twins were born, the Cumean Sybil was believed to live in a cave in the Monti Sibillini, safe from encroaching Christianity.

Morning Briefing

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