People are generally irrational, unreasonable, and selfish.
They deserve to be loved anyway. ~Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Rise of Islam

The Rise of Islam

----A.D. 624-800----

In A.D. 604, Pope Gregory the Great died. At this time, the Byzantine Roman empire was the strongest empire in the world. However, many people were unhappy about Byzantine rule. Why? Because the Byzantine Roman emperors both heavily taxed people of the empire and firmly punished heretics. Eventually, the Persian Empire invaded the Byzantine Empire. They sacked Jerusalem and spread as far as Chalcedon (Asia Minor). The war waged on for 10 years; finally the Byzantine Roman emperor Heraclius made the Chosroes, the Persian king, surrender in 628. Meanwhile, a man was living in Mecca (Arabia). His name was Muhammad. He traveled often, because he was in the caravan business. In these travels, he developed a strong monotheistic faith. He thought that the God of Abraham should become the same God that his people worshipped. When he was in his late thirties, Muhammad started to have trances where he claimed to hear “divine voices.”

--- A.D. 610. ----

---Month of Ramadan---

Muhammad claimed one night to have heard “tinkling of bells and a voice saying with authority, “write!”” He asked what he should recite, and the voice told him of Allah and his nature and actions. Muhammad reportedly memorized and recited every word this voice spoke to him. Muhammad claimed that the meaning of this revelation was that a new faith should be proclaimed by himself to his countrymen and to the entire world. All men were to submit to Allah’s will. This is why his religion was called Islam. This means “submission.” All people who submitted were called Muslims.


However, the people of Muhammed’s home town of Mecca were angry at him for trying to change the basis of their faith (get rid of their many gods and replace them with one). They drove him out in A.D. 622. He fled to the nearby city of Medina. Around this time was when he started to be called “the Prophet.” Because they threw him out, Muhammad called for “jihad” (holy war) against Mecca. In 624, the Muslims destroyed the Meccans at the Battle of Bedr. The conquered city of Mecca finally agreed to accept Islam.

--- A.D. 632 ---

Muhammad died in 632. His followers bickered over who should be his caliph (successor). Of course, they often disagreed. Their arguments, however, were often very bloody. Finally, they chose a man: Caliph Omar. Under him, Islam began to expand beyond Arabia’s borders. Over the next century, Muslim armies conquered the following:

1. Persia.

2. Syria.

3. Palestine.

4. Egypt.

5. North Africa.

6. the Iberian Peninsula.

This is a huge expansion!!


Eventually, the last remaining grandson of Muhammad ascended the throne: Caliph Ali.

His reign was quite short; he was assassinated. His son Husayn then stepped up and was promptly assassinated as well. This was the beginning of the political/religious movement called the Shiat Ali. Since then, Islam has been split in two parts:

1. the “legitimate, loyal” and “traditional” believers

2. the “partisans.” (The Shiites)

a. Shiites were the descendants of Caliph Ali and his followers.

The Umayyad family (the assassinators of Caliphs Ali and Husayn) then took the throne.

Their reign produced lots of Islamic culture (drawn from Greek and Christian traditions). This culture was continued by the next set of caliphs, the Abbasid caliphs, who transferred their capital to Baghdad, Mesopotamia, and built a beautiful palace there. Baghdad was so richly built that it was called “Islam’s Byzantium.” The Abbasid family’s reign lasted 5 centuries.

As the 8th century dawned, the future looked grim indeed for the Christian empire.


One Islamic caliph, Caliph Suleiman, sent an army of 100,000 men under his brother, Maslama, to attack Constantinople. The governor of Antolia, Leo, convinced Maslama to stop his advance and to place himself, Leo, on the throne as emperor of Constantinople. Leo did indeed become emperor, but then turned on the Muslims. Maslama laid siege to Constantinople, but Emperor Leo broke the siege and forced the Muslims to withdraw.

711 A.D.

Muslim forces, under the victorious Muslim general, Emir Tarik, defeated the Christian forces at the southern tip of Iberia, at a place called La Janda. The Muslims went on to conquer most of the Iberian Peninsula, excepting Asturias. Here, a small Christian kingdom formed a resistance to the Muslims. This group’s actions marked the beginning of the Reconquista, the Christian reconquest of Spain. It would last almost 800 years.

Away in the Frankish kingdom, a leader arose named Charles Martel, “the Hammer.” Charles Martel sent missionaries to convert the Germanic tribes in the east. St. Boniface, one of these missionaries, converted many tribes, and also built abbeys and churches throughout Germany.

732 A.D.

Finally, the huge Muslim army poured into the Frankish lands. However, at the Battle of Tours, the “Hammer” came down hard. The entire Muslim army was crushed and swept away by Charles Martel and his outnumbered army.

Charles Martel

Monasteries in Britain and Ireland kept the writings of the Church fathers and of the ancient world. The scholars of these lands included St. Bede the Venerable and Alcuin, who actually founded a school in the very court of the Emperor Charlemagne.

Charles Martel’s son, Pepin the Short, was crowned king of the Franks after he finally dethroned the last Merovingian king. St. Boniface himself acted as the pope’s representative and crowned Pepin. Pepin’s son, Charles the Great, succeded his father as king of the Franks. Charles the Great, also known as Charlemagne, fought many wars. They included a 32-year war against the Saxons, another war against the Lombards, and a shorter war against the Muslims in northern Spain. However, aside from being a warrior, Charlemagne was a reformer, politically speaking, who brought prosperity, learning, and peace to his country. Not only was he king, but Charlemagne was also a protector of the Church; the Holy Roman Emperor. He was crowned as such on Christmas Day, 800. This event marked the establishment of Christendom in the West.


What’s the significance of this in regards to virtue?

Well, Islam can symbolize unvirtuousness. Christendom is virtuous living.

When Islam rose and got the upper hand, virtue and its place in society fell.

Starting in A.D. 800 with the reign of Charlemagne, Christendom planted its roots back into culture and strove (and is still striving today) to reestablish virtue in our world.

This is what we should be helping to do today, and what we should promote…Virtuous Family Discipleship.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Declaration's Only Catholic Signer: Charles Carroll of Carrolton

 Charles Carroll of Carrollton was born on September 19, 1737, at the Annapolis home of his parents, Charles Carroll of Annapolis and Elizabeth Brooke. As the only child, Charles was not only heir to the largest fortune in colonial Maryland but to the ancestral legacy and traditions of defending family and faith passed on by the Carroll generations. Young Charles Carroll ( known as “Charley” to his parents) was sent in 1747, at the age of ten, to Maryland’s eastern shore, along with his cousin John Carroll, to study secretly at the Jesuit school at Bohemia Manor in Cecil County. By 1749, Charley and John, who would later become the first American Catholic Bishop, were sent to study at St. Omers in French Flanders. Charles was instructed in classical studies in Paris and by 1760 was studying English law at the Inner Temple in London. At the death of his mother, a refined and well-educated Charles returned home after 16 years abroad.
On his return to Maryland in 1765, Charles Carroll was given a 10,000 acre land tract called Carrollton, located in Frederick County. He would never live there. Even so, Carroll added the word “Carrollton” to his signature to distinguish himself from other Charles Carrolls. In 1768, he married his cousin, Mary “Molly” Darnall, and began major improvements to his family’s home and gardens in Annapolis. They had seven children, only three of whom lived to adulthood. Charles, their only son, would later live at Homewood, now located on the Baltimore campus of Johns Hopkins University.
The Carrolls were busy and gracious hosts to governmental leaders like George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. The house and grounds were the scene for many social events, “humble feasts” and “after-the-races dinners.” Politics kept the family quite busy through the Revolutionary War; and in 1783, the Annapolis house and grounds actually became the site of the Official State Celebration for Peace and Independence!
Carroll’s position in the emerging revolutionary politics became pretty clear in 1773 as a result of a series of letters published in the Maryland Gazette. Signing himself “First Citizen,” he publicly debated “Antilon,” the powerful provincial official Daniel Dulaney, on freedom of conscience and the rights of the elected assembly vs. the powers of appointed government. Carroll gained public acclaim for embracing the principle that the people are the true foundation of government and emerged as the citizens’ “patriot.” He was then appointed to the Annapolis Committee of Correspondence and Council of Safety. Charles Carroll was soon elected to the 2nd Maryland Convention in 1774, his first elected office. In effect, the ban on Catholics serving in Maryland politics ended with Carroll’s election to the 2nd Convention in November, 1774. In 1775, he became a member of the Maryland Committee of Correspondence and Council of Safety.
Early in 1776, Charles Carroll, Samuel Chase and Benjamin Franklin were appointed as commissioners to Canada. Along with Carroll’s cousin John Carroll, they were asked and challenged to enlist Canadian support and alliance in the growing conflict with Great Britain. Although, this delegation returned unsuccessful, Carroll, with growing prestige, was given credit along with Samuel Chase for their successful efforts to persuade Maryland to instruct its delegates to vote in favor of independence. He was elected as a Maryland representative and joined the other delegates, from a now unified thirteen colonies, at the 2nd Continental Congress,to sign the Declaration of Independence document in Philadelphia on August 2, 1776.  He was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration.
 Charles Carroll became active in the formation of the new government for Maryland. He was appointed as a delegate to the convention to write Maryland’s first State Constitution and Declaration of Rights (adopted in November 1776) and became a member of the first Maryland Senate. Carroll was appointed a delegate to Congress in 1777. Carroll was elected President of the Senate in 1783 and would continuously serve in the Maryland Senate (from 1776 until 1800). His cousin, Daniel Carroll, was instrumental in the framing of the United States Constitution, specifically authoring the 10th Amendment. As a wealthy citizen of a new emerging Republic, Carroll was interested in financial stability and served as Alderman and Councilman in the city of Annapolis. In 1789, he became one of Maryland’s first two U.S. Senators. Carroll continued to improve and enlarge his Annapolis home and gardens.
By 1800, Carroll had retired from politics to concentrate on his business affairs. Considered the largest slaveholder at the time of the Revolution, and owning nearly 400-500 slaves, he became president of the American Colonization Society (1828-1831) seeking to solve America’s slave problem by resettling them in Africa. Carroll became one of the founders of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company and invested in the Bank of Maryland, the Bank of Baltimore and the First and Second Bank of the United States. He held many shares in canal, turnpike, bridge and water companies in the Washington-Baltimore area.
Charles Carroll leased his Annapolis house out in 1821 and moved to his daughter (Mary Caton) and son-in-law’s home on Lombard Street in Baltimore (it’s now known as the Carroll Mansion of the Baltimore City Life Museums). By 1822, the first sanctioned Catholic Church in Annapolis, St. Mary’s, was erected and built on the Carroll property. In 1826, Charles Carroll of Carrollton became the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence with the deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4th. Two years later at the age of 91, Carroll laid the cornerstone for the B&O Railroad. He died in his 96th year on November 14, 1832, at the Caton home. Following a national day of mourning, he was buried at the family country seat, Doughoregan Manor.
 Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Knights Templar---by Benjamin P. Crosby

The Knights Templar

Active c. 1119-1314

The Knights Templar:

A military organization pledged to protect Christian civilization.

Called: The Poor-Fellows of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon

Nickname: Order of the Temple 

Headquarters: Temple Mount, Jerusalem

Size: 15,000-2,000 members at peak (around 10% were actually knights)

Motto: ‘Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.’

(Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory.)

Patron: St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Engagements: The Crusades, including:

The Siege of Ascalon (1153)

The Battle of Montgisard (1177)

The Battle of Hatlin (1187)

The Siege of Acre (1190-1191)  

The Battle of Arsuf (1191)

The 2nd Siege of Acre (1291)

The Reconquista

The Knights Templar began as a group of 9 French knights, devoted to protecting Christendom and promoting virtuous life. Their order grew and grew, until finally they were officially endorsed by the Catholic Church in 1128.

They became a favored charity throughout Christendom. They were also known as among the most skilled fighters of Crusades. Non-combatant members actually built a large banking infrastructure throughout the Holy Land. It was one of the earliest forms of banking. The Order of the Temple had three levels: aristocratic knights, clergy, and lay brothers (who were from the lower ranks of society and assisted the aristocratic knights, kind of like squires).

The Knights Templar also built strong fortifications all across Europe and the Holy Land. They were very closely tied to the Crusades, so when the Holy Land was lost, support for their order dwindled. King Phillip IV of France was very deeply in debt to the order; and false rumors about the Knights Templar were circulating all around, so he took advantage of the situation. He went on a campaign against them for the crimes they had supposedly committed, which were really false rumors.
In 1312, he forced Pope Clement V to disband the order.

The last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was martyred unjustly by King Phillip in 1314, along with another major leader of the Templars. On the same day, every Templar that could be found in Europe was arrested on the false charges. Portugal was the only place that still welcomed the Templars and saw them for what they really were. Because of this, many Templars fled to this country. This event was the end of the Order of the Temple; the end of the Knights Templar.

What did they do for us?

Well, we can learn a lot from their order. It promoted virtuous living and manhood. To be a Knight Templar was like being a Navy SEAL or a Marine today. It was the elite group of the time. However, it wasn’t just a really elite group of men. The purpose of the order itself was to protect Christendom and to train young boys to become men, at the same time leading a virtuous life. This is what the Knights Templars accomplished, and this is what we need today.

As a boy grows from a child to a man, it is a crucial time, and we need to use that time to cultivate in the boy virtue and godly things. This is what the Templars did, and this is what their legacy calls on us to do today. Are you ready? Will you do what the Templar did, and died for? Join them, and us, under the banner of Virtue!

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Catechism Calisthenics #8

Here is our next Catechism Calisthenics video. This one is a review of Chapter 2.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Catechism Calisthenics #7

Here is our next Catechism Calisthenics post!
In this one, we finished up Chapter 2: God and His Perfections, and the questions we answered were:
Q.12: Does God see us? Yes, God sees us and watches over us with loving care.
Q.13: What do we mean when we say that God is almighty? When we say that God is almighty, we mean that He can do all things.
Hope you enjoy this video!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Catechism Calisthenics #6

Here is our next Catechism Calisthenics.
The questions we answered in this video were:
Q. 10: What do we mean when we say that God is all knowing? When we say that God is all knowing, we mean that he know all things, past, present, and future, even our most secret thoughts, words, and actions.
Q. 11: What do we mean when we say that God is all present? When we say that God is all present, we mean that God is everywhere.
Hope you enjoy this video!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Catechism Calisthenics #5

Here is the next Catechism Calisthenics course.
The questions we answered in this video were:
Q.8: What do we mean when we say that God is the Supreme Being? When we say that God is the Supreme Being, we mean that He is above all creatures.
Q.9:  What do we mean when we say that God is eternal? When we say that God is eternal, we mean that He always was and always will be, and that He always remains the same.