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February 15, 2013

Last week, the nation of Ireland released a report detailing the abusive practices that occurred at its so-called Magdalene laundries (known outside of Ireland as Magdalene asylums) as well as how the state supported this institution. The 2002 film The Magdalene Sisters provides a dramatic account of the worst abuses.

Movie...

February 14, 2013

I sometimes wonder what the real St. Valentine, probably a third-century Roman martyr but no one knows for certain, would think of what's become of his feast day. Not only is the tradition of celebrating romantic love tenuously connected to what is told about this saint, but the day's name is often stripped of its sanctity. We never refer to March 17 as "Patrick's Day," but somehow February 14 became...

February 9, 2013

For years a friend of mine has hosted an annual Shakespeare party. It used to be held around William Shakespeare's birthday (April 23), but usually it is now held just before Lent, when the weather is more amenable to wearing heavy costumes. It also serves as a final farewell to the Christmas partying season. The party includes music and skits prepared by the guests, either from Shakespeare or evocative of his time.

This year's Shakespeare party will be tonight. It's not often that...

February 8, 2013

Last June, I made my First Promise as a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. The First Promise to the local community is for three years, at the end of which (God willing) the community may invite me to make a Definitive Promise, for life. 

Because secular Carmelites are considered to be full members of the Discalced Carmelites, according to their state in...

February 8, 2013

If you visit the Campo de' Fiori (Field of Flowers) in Rome, you won't be able to miss the statue in the middle of the square (which, by the way, was still a meadow when it received its name in the Middle Ages). The statue is of Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake there. He was convicted on today's date in 1600 and executed nine days later.

Bruno commonly is called a "martyr for science" because he endorsed the same Copernican theory that, through injudiciousness in discussing...