Thursday, February 27, 2020

St. Gabriel Possenti: Patron Saint of Handgunners

Today, February 27, is the Feast Day of St. Gabriel Possenti.

Legend holds that Gabriel Possenti was a Catholic seminarian in Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy. In 1860 he is said to have used his skills with the pistol to drive off a band of marauding soldiers who were terrorizing the town. Possenti faced the troublemakers after grabbing revolvers from two soldiers. As they laughed at the young student, he took aim and accurately shot a lizard that was running across the road. Impressed, the soldiers left the town, escorted by the seminarian, who had become the hero of the town.

Like many Saints, there's an unclear line between the facts of the Saint's life and the "tradition" associated with him. However, this story about Gabriel Possenti has led to him being promoted as the Patron Saint of Handgunners. The St. Gabriel Possenti Society was created for the purpose of promoting the Saint's cause. The society also promotes the study of the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the doctrine of self-defense.


A few years ago, our parish was presented with a relic of St. Gabriel Possenti, under the title St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was an exciting moment when I saw the blurb announcing the displayed relic in our weekly bulletin. Since then, I've enjoyed sharing the story of Gabriel Possenti with many parishioners. I dare say most of our Catholic friends who also enjoy shooting are now familiar with the Saint and his story.

In another interesting "coincidence," my Virginia Concealed Handgun permit was originally issued on February 27, the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Handgunners!

St. Gabriel Possenti ora pro nobis!

Today would be a great day to hit the range. If that's not possible, buying some ammo would be a fine recognition of the Saint.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Cigars of the Weekend

And for something a little different, some cigar updates…

I'm tired of winter. (Actually that feeling emerged months ago.) So I was thrilled when this past  weekend we saw moderately warm and sunny days here in Virginia, when thermometer cracked 60°.

Admittedly the Friday prelude to the weekend saw temps shy of 30°, so I found myself at the Olde Towne Tobacconist lounge at 1781 Brewery. There, the wood stove, a pint of the brewery's Tough Kiltie Wee Heavy, and a L'Atelier LAT56 by Tatuaje Cigars gave me my first chance to sit and chill after a long week. The bold cigar paired well with the malty beer.



On Saturday afternoon, the sun eventually warmed things up to around 55°. I grabbed a quick smoke after lunch, enjoying an Oliva Serie G Maduro. The small 4 1/2  x 50 stick, with some black coffee and a little fun reading, provided a 30 minute break from chores.



After finishing the aforementioned chores, I opted to enjoy another small stick, RoMa Craft Neanderthal HoxD. Though a diminutive 4 x 46 vitola, the cigar packs a lot of flavor and strength in a small package.



After a Sunday afternoon hike in the woods, Colleen and I retired to the back porch to enjoy the sun and warmth, with a couple pints of Guinness Drought Nitro. I also lit a Tabernacle Havana Seed CT #142 from Foundation Cigars. This was a cigar I'd been wanting to try for some time. I enjoyed the original Tabernacle at the beach last summer, but had never had this much heralded variety. The full-strength cigar did not disappoint, though I will need to go back and revisit the original to get a better comparison.



After a couple very busy weeks of work-related travel and meetings, to finally have a relaxing, warm weekend respite at home was most welcome. That there was time to enjoy multiple good cigars was an added bonus.

As a final note, for those interested, there is more cigar-related content over on Instagram.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Saint José Sánchez del Río

Today, February 10, is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint José Sánchez del Río. On this date in 1928, this 14 year old boy was killed by Mexican troops for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith during the Cristero War. The story of this period of Catholic persecution led by Mexican President Calles was told in the movie "For Greater Glory." The young martyr was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005, and later canonized by Pope Francis on October 16, 2016.

The Saint's story is one with which few American Catholics are familiar. That is a tragedy in its own right. Though they might not know the Saint's story, many Americans are no doubt familiar with his face. The picture, shown below, of the young boy with Cristeros fighters is one that is often seen hanging in Mexican restaurants, among other old photos. Probably not too many diners know that a Saint and fighter for religious freedom is looking down at them while they eat.


After José was captured by government forces fighting the Cristero, he was forced to witness the torture and execution of fellow Catholic countrymen, yet he never wavered in his faithful resolve. He was himself was tortured and urged to shout "Death to Christ the King" with the promise his suffering would be over. On the day of his torturous execution, the soldiers cut the soles of his feet and he was made to walk barefooted to the grave they had dug for him. He was repeatedly stabbed with bayonets as he made his way to the place of his martyrdom.

Even after he had been shot he continued to cry out "Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long live Christ the King!") The commander of the soldiers was so furious that he was able to resist the government barbarism, he finally shot the boy in the head. As he died he is said to have drawn a cross on the ground with his own blood as a final act of defiance.

During the Cristeros War many Catholics were killed by the Mexican government for their faith. This tragic part of recent history is pointedly ignored by the history books in both the United States and Mexico. By some accounts, the anti-Catholic Mexican government received military aid from our own government. It is a story that needs to be told and learned by all free people.

Saint José Sánchez del Río is truly a Saint for our times. His faithfulness in the face of torture and death should be a model for all of us. I pray we can be as strong when our own persecution comes.


Saint José Sánchez del Río, Pray For Us!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

St. Brigid of Ireland

Today is the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Ireland, one of our family's favorite Saints. In a quote
traditionally attributed to St. Brigid, she prays...
"I'd Like A Great Lake Of Beer For The King Of Kings. I Would Like To Be Watching Heaven's Family Drinking It Through All Eternity."
Our family has long had an affection for this great Saint. It was during our trip to Ireland a few years ago that I came to realize just how popular she is in that country, second only to St. Patrick it seems. Her legendary association with miracles involving beer often overshadows her deeds of charity and compassion.

Beyond her prayer for a "great lake of beer" this revered Saint has other interesting connections with beer. According to tradition, Brigid was working in a leper colony when they ran out of beer. Since beer was an important source of safe liquid refreshment and nourishment, this was indeed a serious issue. Brigid is said to have changed her bath water into beer to nourish the lepers and visiting clerics. In another miracle attributed to St. Brigid, she provided beer to 18 churches for an entire Easter season, all from a single barrel of beer in her convent.
St. Brigid Statue, Knock Shrine, County Mayo, Ireland

St. Brigid, ora pro nobis! And cheers!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas

Christmas is here. After the shopping, after the wrapping, after the decorating, after the seemingly endless barrage of marketing, the true celebration begins.

When the angels went away from them to heaven,
the shepherds said to one another, 
"Let us go, then, to Bethlehem
to see this thing that has taken place, 
which the Lord has made known to us."
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, 
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God 
for all they had heard and seen, 
just as it had been told to them.
--Luke 2:15-20


In fact, this joyous celebration continues until Epiphany on January 6. Surprisingly few realize that the season of Christmas only begins today, December 25.  It it is disappointing to see the lights and decorations disappear the day after Christmas. Surely as Christians we believe the birth of Our Savior is an event worthy of more than a single day of rejoicing.

However you mark the season, I wish you a very joyous and peaceful holiday season. May it be spent with family, friends, and good cheer.

Merry Christmas!!!

The Church at Shepherd's Field, Bethlehem
Photo by Colleen, August 2010

Friday, December 20, 2019

December IDPA Match

A plethora of fall activities, both family and work related, have severely limited my opportunities to hit the range of late. I managed to hit but one IDPA match and just two trips to the indoor range in November. December had looked to be a washout, but the folks at Sanner's Lake rescheduled their match to Sunday last weekend, which turned out to fit my schedule. This would be the last shooting activity of the year for me.

Despite days of wet and cold weather in the week leading up to Sunday, the day was dry and, relatively, warm. I was joined for the trip across the Potomac River by three regular shooting companions.

We started out on a stage that involved both strong and weak hand shooting. It was certainly quite the stage to "warm up" on. Three "tuxedo" targets were set against the berm, two further limited by non-threats. The targets were engaged from progressively advancing shooting positions across the bay, shooting freestyle, strong hand only, then weak hand only at successive targets. A second string reversed the direction. An errant weak hand shot cost me a -5 and was my only miss of the match.


The next stage started us seated on a stool. There were three targets behind a non-threat that we engaged strong hand only while advancing to the first shooting position where we found a lone distant target. Two more groups of targets were visible from a second position of cover. I dropped just one point on the stage.


Next up was a stage I enjoyed very much. It was also the first stage we shot mostly in the sun, which helped to take some of the chill off. Standing behind a row of barrels we shot a paper target and three falling steel targets in the open. Then from cover, there were six more paper targets arranged among barrels and non-threats. The final target from this position was a low, leaning target set very close to the cover wall. Perhaps it was the bright sun, or simply that I was getting warmed up, but the shooting felt very smooth on this stage and the sights aligned quickly. I dropped two points in the final target.



Seven targets set in a line in front of a toolbox on the ground greeted us at the next stage. The first two targets in the array presented only head shots, while the last five were open, offering a fast shoot. Our unloaded gun and all magazines were placed in the closed toolbox and we started standing, facing up range. Since the gear was on the ground, dropping to and shooting from kneeling was the logical choice. After careful aiming on the first two targets, the rest of the group could be shot as quickly as the sights appeared on target. All my shots here were -0.



After the stand and shoot stage (actually kneel and shoot,) the next course of fire offered lots of movement. We started be engaging a single open target while moving backwards to the first point of cover to shoot at two distant targets that were placed partially in front of a non-threat — watch out for shoot-throughs. Next we shot a single target through a window in the wall, before moving to the last fault line to find more targets. I dropped two points here.



The last stage our squad shot again gave us the opportunity for movement while shooting. The first targets were engaged from cover. From this same position, one could also engage two additional targets in the distance, if a non-threat at a menacing position in the middle could be avoided. My observation was the only the taller shooters opted to do so. The rest of us had to weave around the wall the shoot from another spot. On the way to that optional position there was an open target to be engaged along the way. The course of fire ended at another shooting position where two final targets were found. I ended my shooting day with another -0 stage.

As is typical for the matches at Sanner's Lake, the shooting went fast and we were packed and in the car by 11:30. As is also typical, we made a stop to acquire distilled spirits, and to eat a tasty Tex-Mex lunch.

The stages in the match were interesting and fun. Traveling, shooting, and dining with friends made for an enjoyable day. I managed to get home with enough daylight left to do some yard work, and then enjoy a fine Drew Estate Joya Black cigar and hot coffee on my deck in the waning sun.



I was well pleased with my shooting on this day. It's been almost a year of recovery from the medical emergency of January. It feels good to be shooting reasonably well again. In this match I placed 8th of 46 Overall, and 2nd of 14 in the SSP division. All in all it was an exceptionally pleasant way to wind down the weekend and my shooting year.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation. 
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington
Although President Washington proclaimed this day of thanksgiving and prayer in 1789, the Thanksgiving Day we celebrate today didn't become a national holiday until1863 when President Lincoln established the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving.

Have A Happy Thanksgiving! I wish you a day filled with family, friends, and fond memories. May God bless your life with His gifts today and everyday.

This Never Gets Old

It just wouldn't feel like Thanksgiving if I didn't laugh at this again.

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."



Happy Thanksgiving!