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!