Day 5 – NS Guantanamo Bay: Of Chesty Puller, tabernacle doors, and more iguanas

Since I prodded the curious with iguanas, here are more iguanas.  They were hanging out near the chapel this morning after Holy Mass.

Within the chapel at GITMO, there is a small, daily Mass chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved and an air conditional is running.  It has a lovely tabernacle door which strikes me is being 19th century.

I suspect that it has been on the base for quite a while.  Fr. Johnson has spruced up the room and catholicized it.   He is doing his best with what he has to work with.  But wait!  What’s that I see?

Our Lord has been repaired with a little transparent tape and He has lost a thumb.

It could be that, if the fundraiser keeps going, we might be able to improve this situation, depending on what Fr. Johnson determines for the place.

Here is the Missal at the chapel.   It has seen better days, my friends.

Definitely needs an upgrade (except for that pesky Holy Week part).

I promised Semper Gumby a clearer photo.

The iguana is not impressed by birettas or signs.

Ladies and gents, being on the base has driven home all the different levels of war we are truly engaged in, whether those levels are obvious or not.

Some years ago in Rome I read a transcript of a Friday sermon given at the mosque in Rome.   BTW.. the Italian bishops allowed muslims to take up collections at churches to build that mosque, just so that you know what’s going on over there.   In that Friday sermon the imam or whatever said, “Take their women! Breed with them!  If we did not before win with the long sword, we will win with the short sword!”

This approach in Islam is dawa.   Dawa, the precursor to jihad, uses non-violent subversion from within. Think of the ‘long march through the institutions’ for Marxists of the last century such as Antonio Gramsci, who advised the Communists of his day to let the Christian Democrats take parliament.  They would take the schools.  After a few decades of controlling education, they’d take everything else too.

The other day at lunch one of the guys quoted the late and great Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller, the most-decorated Marine in USMC history.  Chesty was a veritable quote machine.   One thing he said later in his life, and I read in a book about him is more and more poignant:

“Our Country won’t go on forever, if we stay soft as we are now. There won’t be any America because some foreign soldiery will invade us and take our women and breed a hardier race!”

Davis, Burke (1988). Marine!: The Life Of Chesty Puller. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books. p. 273. US HERE – UK HERE

Meanwhile, on a cheery note, I had an evening out with cigars and lots of talk about a wide variety of topics.   The topics ranged from CS Lewis, Aquinas on Law, to music settings of the poetry of AE Housman.  Then a storm rolled in and the heavens opened.  I think an ark went by.

There was a great young family with five little kids nearby under the awning.   Very cute.  They ran and stomped and splashed with complete abandon.  There was a little girl, maybe three, all blonde curls and total laughter.  The kids ran in the rain and had a ball.   But when the evening bugle sounded colors, the kids stopped and stood still from their running and waited quietly.

Quite. Simply. Beautiful.

There she is… in the background.  Standing still for evening colors.

Dear readers… our children are LITURGICAL beings. It is wired into us and we have to be forced to forget it.

Lastly, my favorite recording of Vaughn William’s “Shropshire Lad” settings happens to be available on youtube, sung by Ian Partridge.   Let me leave you with this…

In summertime on Bredon
The bells they sound so clear;
Round both the shires they ring them
In steeples far and near,
A happy noise to hear.

Here of a Sunday morning
My love and I would lie,
And see the coloured counties,
And hear the larks so high
About us in the sky.
The bells would ring to call her
In valleys miles away;
“Come all to church, good people;
Good people come and pray.”
But here my love would stay.

And I would turn and answer
Among the springing thyme,
“Oh, peal upon our wedding,
And we will hear the chime,
And come to church in time.”

But when the snows at Christmas
On Bredon top were strown,
My love rose up so early
And stole out unbeknown
And went to church alone.
They tolled the one bell only,
Groom there was none to see,
The mourners followed after,
And so to church went she,
And would not wait for me.

The bells they sound on Bredon,
And still the steeples hum,
“Come all to church, good people,” —
Oh, noisy bells, be dumb;
I hear you, I will come.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. haydn seeker says:

    Just a small correction, isn’t the setting of A Shropshire Lad by George Butterworth (I think the album cover is misleading)? Unless Vaughan-Williams wrote one I don’t know. Butterworth was a young English composer killed in the First World War. I did once play it in a concert, in Shropshire, paired with Vaughan-Williams’ 3rd Symphony (also written following WW1), which has an evening bugle call in the middle. I STRONGLY recommend that symphony for your listening attention.

    [The video I posted, above, has Vaughn-Williams setting of Bredon Hill from the Shropshire Lad poems, the 5th song in his “On Wenlock Edge” song cycle for string quartet, piano and tenor.]

  2. Reginald Pole says:

    While Butterworth did indeed write a setting of Housman’s poems in a cycle called A Shropshire Lad, Ralph Vaughan-Williams composed a Housman cycle called On Wenlock Edge. Vaughan-Williams also wrote a completely different cycle called Along the Field: 8 Housman songs.

  3. Ellen says:

    Looking at the video of the children on the playground reminded me of an incident a couple of years ago. My daughter and I were in Cleveland and were just going into the stadium to see the Indians play the Dodgers. There was a crowd of people pouring into the stadium when suddenly the national anthem played over the loudspeaker. Everyone stopped and stood respectfully until it was over. We are hardwired to be liturgical. I wish more priests and bishops understood that.

  4. Andrew says:

    Nice Missal. Easy on the eyes. Wonder what the story of its survival might be.

  5. LeeGilbert says:

    If the editor of our archdiocesan Catholic paper ever saw the sermon at the mosque, he would never mention it for it might foster (gasp) “Islamophobia. ” He is very careful to protect us from “Islamophobia,” so we don’t read very much about the Nigerian martyrs, about the likely perpetrators of Church vandalism in France, or anything else that might provoke ire against Mohammedanism. You see, he and his staff have discovered some friendly Muslims in our fair city, and this offsets entirely the history of our civilizational conflict, together with the opinion of the saints about this carnal, militant, implacable onslaught.

    Islamophilia is clearly madness, but the Catholic chattering classes, and now the pope, spend a lot of time and moral capital warning us away from Islamophobia. In fact, I have never seen this useful shorthand for our current insanity, Islamophilia, used anywhere except in this comment. But the word is so obvious that I surely cannot be its inventor. ‘Scuse me while I do a search. . . . . . . . What do you know, I am in good company for WikiIslam (sic!!!!) has an article on it:

    “Islamophilia is a controversial neologism employed by some politicians, sociologists and journalists to describe unwavering and uncritical admiration of the values of Islam, generally associated with an admiration of Islamic civilization. Islamophilia, like its antonym Islamophobia, is not included in renomated dictionaries.

    “However, many proponents of the term argue that it has existed historically as well, in instances like the wave of orientalism that followed Disraeli’s premiership and his support for the Ottoman Caliphate of the time.

    “Others have also drawn upon purported historical instances of Islamophilia. Karl Binswanger remarked on the “dogmatic Islamophilia” of many orientalists. Jacques Ellul complained in 1983 that ‘in France it is no longer acceptable to criticise Islam or the Arab countries.’ As early as 1968, Maxime Rodinson had written, ‘An historian like Norman Daniel has gone so far as to number among the conceptions permeated with medievalism or imperialism, any criticisms of the Prophet’s moral attitudes and to accuse of like tendencies any exposition of Islam and its characteristics by means of the normal mechanisms of human history. Understanding has given way to apologetics pure and simple.'”

    Just from a rhetorical point of view, a far more generous use of islamophilia could do nothing but help the cause of sanity, especially when generously applied to the islamophiliacs who are propagandizing us. For Islam, they have become “the useful idiots” paving the way for soldiers of “The Prophet.”

  6. carndt says:

    “Ladies and gents, being on the base has driven home all the different levels of war we are truly engaged in, whether those levels are obvious or not.”
    Another great line uttered by then-Colonel Chesty Puller at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir: “We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him. We’re surrounded. That simplifies things.” pretty much sums up the situation in the Church today.

    I found your photo of the Missal heartwarming. There has to be a good history behind where its been.

    Thank you for serving our men and women in the service to our Country. My only sons both serve. One is a Marine 2ndLt (tanks) @ Camp LeJuene and the other is ILL National Guard Specialist (also a police officer). Both carry their St. Michael medals daily.

  7. OrangeBlossom says:

    Yes, all different levels of war! I fight them in my own home as well. Our second child, 17 yr old son named Timothy, is revolting against the Faith that he’s been taught since he was born. I think of St. Monica and all the years she prayed and have asked for her assistance.

    I pray fervently for our other six children that they do not follow the path of their brother. I hear their intentions during our family rosary and plead for Mary’s intercession.

    We are hardwired to be liturgical. My four year old (Augustine) doesn’t like to go to bed without first praying the rosary as a family.

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    Thank you for the photos Fr. Z. I appreciate the look on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s face: Command Chaplains are essential in this vale of tears, but our destination is Heaven. [ROFL!]

    The iganuas bring to mind two wildlife moments, both in Central America. One time a while ago, several buddies and I were talking as we stood on a dirt road near a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. There was a rustle in the jungle on the other side of the fence, then a pack of 75-100 coatimundi ran out of the jungle and, at full-steam, dashed up the fence, flowed between the barbed wire coils, down the other side and across the dirt road, then disappeared back into the jungle. After a moment of quiet a buddy observed drily, “If those coatimundi ever turn jihadi we’re gonna need more barbed wire.”

    Another time in Central America a buddy and I approached a gate in a chain-link fence. Hanging upside-down from the bottom of the gate, its back a couple inches off the dirt road, was a full-grown sloth. Its eyes were closed and was apparently napping. We opened the gate slowly and went through, the sloth gently swaying as the gate moved. As we closed the gate the sloth slowly opened one eye and even more slowly tilted its head to look at us- are you humans done yet? We closed the gate and left the sloth to its afternoon nap. [Perhaps he had spent the morning with Captain Jack Aubrey.]

    Now, Chesty Puller. He unfortunately knew what he was talking about with that quote. It’s not just jihadis who are predatory towards women- as evidenced by voluminous news reports from the Middle East and Europe these days. Back in the 1930s the National Socialists had breeding programs, particularly the SS. In the 1920s the Soviets briefly experimented with breeding male apes and human females to create the Glorious New Man.

    Another favorite Chesty Puller quote is:

    “All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us…they can’t get away this time.” Darn right, Chesty. [And another, to embroider the theme, from when he was at the Chosin Reservoir: “We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him. We’re surrounded. That simplifies things.”]

    This comment is getting a little long, but the photo and video of evening colors are inspirational. In that video (apparently from MCAS New River- home of Finest Kind helicopter pilots for Camp Lejeune’s 2nd Marine Division across the river) there is a little girl in yellow dress playing on a swing with joyful abandon. As Evening Colors sounds she pops up and pays attention. After the last bugle note fades she then, for whatever reason, jumps up and down exuberantly. Liturgical beings indeed, early evening on a Marine base.

    One more story if I could. A while ago I was walking into the post office to pickup a package. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a young woman approaching, so I opened the door and stood back for her to enter. She refused to acknowledge me as she walked in. She was about 25 and (no, really) wearing garish makeup, nose ring, tattoos, a pentagram on a chain, and a T-shirt that promoted a certain Satanist group. I went to the counter, waited in line, got my package, and headed for the door. At the door stood the young Satanist woman, who apparently had emptied a PO Box as she was clutching a handful of letters and magazines. With her other hand she opened the door and looked at me, not with hatred, but with a serious, almost grim determination. I acknowledged her with a slight smile and brief nod, and as I walked past her through the doorway I said softly and pleasantly, “God loves you.” I heard no response as I walked away, but I wondered what reaction flashed across her face and through her soul. [Yut!]

    No doubt there is a better way to handle that situation. Perhaps, eventually, Deo volente, a misguided soul may take an interest in the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.

    Anyway, great post Fr. Z. That Shropshire Lad looks interesting. [Housman is not among the very great English poets, but he is quite good. He captures something of the countryside and he has a strong streak of melancholy resignation with a tinge of the morbid. He was, however, a top drawer Classics scholar who had no time for the sloppy. He once wrote of lazy scholars, “Knowledge is good, method is good, but one thing beyond all others is necessary; and that is to have a head, not a pumpkin, on your shoulders, and brains, not pudding, in your head.”]

  9. I got one look at that tabernacle door and thought, “OOOOOHHHHH!!!” I love the image of the Lamb Triumphant.

  10. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z: Outstanding Jack Aubrey and Chosin Reservoir references, along with the Housman quote.

    LeeGilbert: Good point on Islamophilia. Thus, round-the-clock coverage of the Covington boys accompanied by howls of despair, rending of MAGA hats, and gnashing of teeth. But, the sound of crickets by the same journalists and politicians for the Ummah Day at a Philadelphia school recently where smiling teachers led their students in song and verse about the usual things such as decapitation. Not good.

    Ellen: That’s a home run of a baseball story.

    carndt: Semper Fidelis

    Just to clarify, the post office incident in my comment above happened in a major city, not on a military base.

  11. Dan says:

    The photo of the children reminds me of this picture sent from a family member a couple of years ago (link below), The back story is this group of young boys were playing a game of football in that field, running around like mad, having a great time as young boys are want to do.
    At the moment of the picture the nearby church bells rang signaling the consecration that was at that moment taking place inside.

  12. robtbrown says:

    There is nothing more impressive on an Army post than when To the Colors is sounded at 5:00pm. Activities cease. People stop and exit their cars. Those on the course or practice tee put down their golf clubs.

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